Willpower is not helpful for weight loss! Here’s why and 4 powerful Happy Eating weight loss tips you can use instead.
Relying on willpower to lose weight is hard work because it’s a weak resource which runs out and is affected by lots of the things we encounter every single day.
Our willpower gets depleted
Every time we have to use our self control it gets a little bit harder the next time we have a decision to make. So if you go on a diet and try not to eat anything sweet you might resist the biscuits handed around with coffee, you might ignore the box of chocolates on the next desk and you might buy a sandwich and some fruit for lunch resisting adding a cake to your basket. As the day goes on your willpower is becoming more and more depleted so it gets harder to ignore your desire for something sweet.
Willpower is affected by stress, tiredness, hormones and blood sugar levels
You may have shown amazing self control all day and by 3pm you’ve resisted having something sweet 50+ times but now you’re feeling tired after a long busy day, your blood sugar levels are falling following lunch and you’re feeling pretty stressed with a colleague. All of these things affect your already drastically dwindling willpower supplies and you feel the need for a quick boost so you have a chocolate from the box you’ve been resisting all day. You feel as those you’ve failed because you ‘gave in’ and you’re exhausted from using all your willpower all day so you might have another…
If only I had willpower…
You do! The chances are you show huge amounts of willpower every day, not just around food but in thousands of ways, keeping quiet when you really wanted to point out what someone was saying was wrong, getting out of bed when the alarm went off and working when you wanted to sit with a cup of tea! You can have an enormous amounts of self control but still find it really hard to lose weight, its just not the best tool to be using.
Use skill instead of will!
There are people who seem to be able to resist ever having a biscuit or only ever have one. It might seem like they have more willpower but the chance are they use other strategies which means they don’t have to use their willpower, making it a whole lot easier to eat the way they want to.
It’s these skills and behaviours and habits we utilise with the Happy Eating Approach to make weight loss as easy and as enjoyable as possible*. I’m going to share 4 of the most powerful but simple strategies you can use to help you reach your weight loss goals:
1. Accept, don’t resist – Rather than trying to deny cravings accept them and admit them to yourself. Just doing this can reduce its influence on your behaviour and reduce eating!
So instead of trying to resist the box of chocolates all day simply say, (aloud or in your head!) I really want one of those chocolates. The desire for a chocolate is no longer a secret battle in your head with you trying to ignore it, you’ve accepted you want a chocolate and therefore you gain more control. Sometimes you might still have a chocolate, but sometimes you might not!
2. Do a little less – Busyness is one of the major obstacles to permanent weight loss. Having lots of things to do, lots of people to look after means there’s little time to cherish you. It also puts you in a state of constant low stress as you rush around trying to get everything done. When your body is stressed it causes chemical changes which makes it harder to lose weight. Being stressed and multi-tasking both weaken willpower, so your limited supplies become even lower.
To give yourself the energy to look after yourself and reach your goals do a little bit less. Just do one thing less today so you have to rush a little less and notice how good it feels not to be quite so busy and rushed, imagine the positive effect that’s having on your body!
3. Plan – To successfully lose weight you will have to plan so you are prepared for when life gets busy, tiring or stressful. Spending 10 minutes a week planning what you’ll eat that week could be the difference between you successfully losing weight or not.
Dedicate a little time each week to thinking about your week ahead, what you have on and what you can eat each day to fit in with that. Write out your shopping list and your meals and you’ll feel amazingly in control all week. Instead of getting home tired and finding nothing to make a meal with you’ll now know exactly what you’re having that day and have food you can put together simply.
Be kind to yourself when you’re planning, if you know you have a hectic day plan something quick and easy, a stir fry with a bag of stir fry vegetables, quick cook noodles and some cashews nuts or some frozen pizza with a big salad on half your plate. You don’t have to eat perfectly to lose weight.
4. Don’t fight willpower! Don’t try to cut out foods or be too restrictive. Restriction often leads to eating more! Instead of thinking about what not to have focus on the positives: half fill your plate with vegetables and salad; enjoy 3 great meals a day and eat enough to give you a good chance of feeling full until the next meal. If you are eating great meals you won’t won’t be getting overly hungry and you’ll have fewer cravings due to stable energy levels, making eating well most of the time much easier.
Try our happier approach to weight loss with these 4 weight loss tips and you’ll be able to work with your body rather than fighting against it, making weight loss a whole lot easier.*
*Transformation results vary from person to person