Relying on willpower and restriction to lose weight? Women who desire weight loss often rely on willpower and cutting out foods, and that is exactly why they stay stuck in the perpetual cycle of losing and gaining weight.
You must stop relying on willpower to lose weight and relying on restriction to lose your weight for good!
What most women over 35 do, my clients included, is say OMG I need to lose weight. Then they cut out all the foods they enjoy in the name of losing weight. They restrict themselves and rely on willpower to stay away from the foods they "think" are "bad."
That works temporarily then they overeat the foods they forbid themselves from eating and quit their efforts at losing weight. The reason they quit is because they were being too restrictive and relying on willpower.
Research actually shows willpower is unreliable. It only last approximately 2 weeks then once willpower dissipates, you're likely to lose compliance.
The point of losing weight is to create new healthy, habits you can do until the day you die. If you're doing things while losing weight you can't see yourself doing until the day you die, then you're approaching health and weight loss goals wrong.
Unfortunately, this is how many women over 35 are approaching losing weight. Instead of building a new, healthier lifestyle for themselves that also yields weight loss, they're doing drastic things to lose weight as quickly as possible.
This results in damaging your metabolism and hormones, creating a disordered relationship with food and exercise, a disordered mindset and disordered view of your body and self-worth.
It also keeps you stuck on the merry-go-round of losing weight and gaining weight. Restricting and binging. Relying on willpower to lose weight is unreliable and taking extremes of restricting and cutting out foods is not something you can do until the day you die.
Stop relying on willpower to lose weight! In this podcast, I explain more on why this is important, but also how to start.
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- Why Willpower Is Unreliable
- Why You Need To Stop Relying On Willpower to Lose Weight
- Why Restriction Never Keeps The Weight Off
- The Mistakes Women Keep Making In Approaching Weight Loss
- Why You Need To View Weight Loss As A Lifestyle vs. A Diet
Listen To The Full Stop Relying On Willpower Podcast
More Episodes From This Stop Relying On Willpower Podcast
Stop Relying On Willpower To Lose Weight Podcast Transcript
I’ve been thinking a lot about willpower lately. A client of mine said to me recently that she just imagines that people who’ve lost weight and have kept it off must be always relying on willpower to say no to certain foods. I was thinking about what she said because I lost 80 pounds in 2009 and I absolutely do not rely on willpower.
But I certainly was that woman before I lost weight who did rely on willpower. Willpower is when you’re resisting yourself. And I was resisting. I always felt out of control with food.
I could never keep a bag of chips in the house without eating all of them. I could never be around sugar without going overboard. Or pizza? I would eat nearly all of it!
Fast forward to today, I look at those foods and I can take it or leave it. I see my boyfriend who’s an emotional eater. LOL I see him over desiring food and I just don’t have that over desire around foods anymore. Food is just fuel to me and my clients find this to be true too after we end our coaching.
I’ll explain more about this is at the end of the podcast. Because first, I want to explain the problems you have when you rely on willpower and honestly, relying on willpower is a mindset issue that is caused from diet trauma.
So, a lot of you are trying to lose weight by using willpower instead of figuring out a sustainable, lifestyle approach. If you’re new to me and to my approach, the way I coach my 1:1 clients in my 6-month coaching program is about creating permanent healthy habits for life so you can lose fat. In my program, you’re learning to lose weight for good and you’re going to lose it the way you’re going to live it and maintain your weight loss for the rest of your life.
There’s none of this gimmicky stuff where you’re cutting food groups or sugar or drinking shakes or counting things or taking a million supplements so you can lose weight in 6 months only to have to figure out after the 6 months, well now how do I eat like a normal person? Which is what most of you keep trying to do. Rather than figuring out how to do something you know you can sustain.
This is how I lost my 80 pounds. The reason I don’t teach these gimmicky things is because they don’t work and they require an incredible amount of willpower and you get no sustainable changes from that. The only reason I was able to lose my weight was because I stopped trying to do drastic things to lose weight that required willpower so that I could get through the diet.
Think about this have you ever started a diet and after a few days or maybe even a couple of weeks it seemed like you were “barely hanging on?” All you think about is what you would like to eat and how you just want to eat like a normal person.
These are two signs you are using willpower to lose weight instead of building a new way to eat and live that leads to weight that NEVER COMES BACK.
What many of you do is you pick a diet to lose weight, but you’re not ready to give up everything you love to lose weight. That’s what you do when you rely on willpower.
You pick a diet, cut out everything you enjoy and think about how unfair it is that you can’t eat normal. Eventually, you would just want some relief from “how hard the diet is” and then you blow it eating everything you decided was “bad.”
After eating everything, you feel like something is wrong with you. The only thing that is wrong with you is you were repeating a broken diet process you’ve probably done a hundred times and expecting it to somehow be easy or different.
So, a lot of women get into this mindset of thinking they just need more willpower. Many of my clients think this too and we have to do a lot of coaching around that.
Every human only gets so much willpower and willpower is shown in research to last only about 2 weeks. No one gets more willpower than that. That means you need to learn how to do things in a way that doesn’t require willpower.
Willpower is about resistance and controlling your impulses around food. You’re fighting for your weight loss. You’re thinking things like I got knuckle down and go harder on myself.
If you spend all your time trying to lose weight feeling tense and resisting yourself with things, you’re going to run out of steam. Guaranteed. I am telling you right now – if you take that approach. You will fail. You will not create a life you can do until you’re 85 years old.
You’re not going to be able to stick with your plan on a day when you’ve got a flat tire and you get to work your boss is telling you that you gotta do these 10 things for a meeting today, oh and by the way your kid forgot their soccer uniform so you’re going to have to go home first before you go to the soccer field after work. Life is hard enough. What I just described happens for all of us.
You’re not going to be able to willpower your way through a diet that you can’t see yourself doing until the day you die because that life stuff happens all the time. If you’re cutting out all the carbs and you have a day like that, guess what? You’re going to eat all the carbs.
You won’t be able to rely on willpower during these moments. Willpower is unreliable and it’s the thing most women believe they need or think they need more of. There is no getting more willpower. We all lack willpower. You’re supposed to lack willpower. You’re not supposed to lose weight using willpower.
You’re supposed to lose weight from the idea of I want better for myself and I want to learn how to support myself. When you say, I lack willpower what you’re really saying is I lack personal beatdowns.
I need to shame myself more often. I would stick to my plan if I put myself down more often. I need to be harder on myself.
That would be like you saying my kids lack beatings and me taking things away from them. So, when your kids get home from school you tell them that they need to argue with themselves about doing their homework and that you need to spank them because they can’t get homework done unless you’re super terrible to them and they’re terrible to themselves. Can you imagine? Never! But that’s what you’re doing to you.
This is the same way women look at dieting. “I can’t lose weight unless I’m super terrible to myself.” You equate your overeating as being good to yourself. You’re telling yourself a dishonest story that I’m just comforting myself and this is how I relax at night.
Change the conversation. Say my overeating is never when I comfort myself. It’s when I’m escaping myself and not telling myself what I deserve more, what I truly need in this moment. It’s me not doing enough self-love. Overeating is me not wanting better for myself and not supporting myself.
Overeating is a signal that you are not doing enough self-love and compassion somewhere else. Trying to rely on willpower is such a waste of your time.
And you know you’re using willpower when you’re arguing with yourself. If you plan for your lunch to be a sandwich with protein and some baked chips and you argue with yourself that a burger and fries would be so much better and you’re like no, no, no I can’t have that. You’ll never lose weight eating junk like that you say to yourself!
If you go immediately go into arguing vs. just saying it’s not on the plan. That’s how you know you’re using willpower. Willpower is when you argue with yourself.
Following your plan and allowing yourself to make the next best decision for yourself by taking the tone down and not allowing yourself to have the argument in your head. That’s not relying on willpower. That’s standing up for yourself.
Just like when your kid is like I don’t want to do my homework and you say no, no, no you’re going to fail at life if you don’t do your homework. If you don’t get it together, you’re going to be homeless and I’m going to have to support you the rest of your life.
You better get in there and do your homework right now. Your kid would be like OMG I better do my homework, my Mom says I’m going to be homeless. That would be the willpower conversation with your kid.
The other thing when you’re using willpower and you want to break your plan. So, you have your sandwich, protein, and your chips for lunch. When you say things like I’m always going to be fat, there’s no way I can have a hamburger, you’re a fat pig. That’s also using willpower. You’re resisting yourself.
If you catch yourself thinking things like, I can’t wait for the weekend or nighttime when I can eat more. Like I’m going to escape from my diet this weekend.
Or I’m going to relax on the couch tonight with food. If you’re trying to lose weight and you need to get away from the diet to lose weight, you have a big problem. You’re not creating a lifestyle you’re building, that you can do forever. You don’t have something you’re going to be able to sustain.
Willpower goes wrong because you’re trying to control the impulse to eat with negativity vs. saying to yourself, I’m going to think my way thru the impulse to overeat because I deserve better in my life. That is the difference I want you to understand. That’s the mindset shift.
It's the capacity for you to know when you’re relying on willpower. Asking yourself why am I setting myself up to lose weight this way? Noticing when you’re having those argumentative thoughts and be like I must not know why I want to lose weight.
Because if I think the only way to get there is to beat myself up then I haven’t spent enough time understanding why I’m worth doing this to begin with. Which I will tell you, the majority of my clients don’t know their why’s very well. They tell me they want to be healthy.
That’s not a compelling reason to lose weight. It sounds nice. But in a way, it’s really BS because if being healthy were the most important thing to you on in the world then you wouldn’t rely on willpower, do drastic things you know are unsustainable and tell yourself you need a reward on the couch every night. Saying I want to be healthy is just not a compelling reason.
I need you to know you keep failing at losing weight because you keep setting yourself up in a way that you’re being a jerk to yourself. You set yourself up for things you don’t even plan to do the rest of your life. You think once you lose weight that suddenly you’ll want to learn how to eat healthy.
You’ll love your body so much you’ll want to take care of yourself. No you won’t! If that story were really true, you wouldn’t have lost weight and gained weight already so many times. If you loved your body so much after losing weight the first time, you never would have gained it back!
You have to learn to love it all the way down. Weight loss is called a journey for a reason. Weight loss is a progression. Not a light switch. You make small changes, baby steps along the way.
Most of you are so frustrated with where you’re at and wanting to emotionally feel better. That you’re doing drastic things to try to get out of your misery because you think it will get you there faster.
All that does is keep you on a weight loss merry-go-round which means you’re taking MORE time losing weight by taking these drastic measures. Here’s the other part of this - you think you will emotionally feel better once you lose weight.
Let’s think about this. If today you get mad at your boss at 250 pounds, do you think well geez, I sure wouldn’t be mad if I were 150 pounds? No! Think about this. If you’re 150 pounds and your boss makes you mad, would you be like BUT I’m 150 pounds. Nothing can make me mad!
No! It doesn’t work that way.
Remember I said earlier I was going to tell you why you keep relying on willpower? Here’s why. Because you’re still looking at your weight loss like a diet. You’re not looking at it as how can I build a lifestyle for myself? What can I do to build healthy habits? How can I become a woman who’s fit and healthy?
A woman who’s fit and healthy doesn’t do shake programs like Isagenix or Optavia or meal replacements like Nutrisystem or these programs where they put you on 800 or 1200 calorie diets. Women who desire to be fit and healthy realize those things are not habits. They are not things you can do for the rest of your life.
A woman who’s trying to lose weight says is I can’t eat a hamburger and fries because I’m too fat and it’s going to take too long to lose this weight if I eat a hamburger in fries. I need to lose this weight as quickly as possible, so I have to cut out the hamburger in fries. That is a woman relying on willpower.
Versus a woman who wants to be healthy and fit saying how can I eat a hamburger and fries and make it a little better? That woman don’t have the mindset of cutting things out. She has the mindset of making things better and taking baby steps to get to where she’s going. Do you see the difference?
Even counting things. Do you want to count WW points, count calories or do macro counting the rest of your life? If you don’t, why would you lose weight doing it? I talked to a few women in free consults recently who were like I think I should do macro counting and I was like is that something you want to do until the day you die? If not, why are you doing it?
Don’t get me wrong, counting macros and calories can be helpful to certain individuals and I only believe for women who are more advanced not those who are just starting out.
But if you aren’t consistent with walking, drinking your water, eating 3 meals a day, eating enough protein. Then counting macros or calories is only going to require an incredible amount of willpower for you to do that because you have no foundation of healthy habits established. The same with WW.
The craziest thing about WW is that they brag that people keep coming back to them because their program works so well. That is so crazy to me because what that means is people can’t maintain their weight loss without WW. They are bragging that people can’t maintain their weight. That doesn’t sound like something to brag about to me.
But my point is guys, you keep relying on willpower because you’re looking at it as a diet not a lifestyle. And the unfortunate part is the more you do these gimmicky diets, the more and more you think you need to restrict and rely on willpower.
Over time, it becomes more and more ingrained in your brain about how hard you have to be on yourself because you’ve failed so many times and you just think you’re a problem, so you go harder and harder on yourself and do more and more drastic things.
Here's the one rule that stops willpower in its tracks. Don’t do anything you aren’t willing to do the rest of your life. That’s it, that’s the rule.
Here’s what many of my clients are doing with food and willpower when they start working with me in my 6-month program. Starting on day one – their brain goes back to their old diet thinking and they are trying to be “good.”
Even though I tell them I want you to work on your breakfast and write down what you’re eating the rest of the day. I tell them that in their very first session. Yet, many of them play the old diet game of trying to be good and then they come to sessions with me, stressed out and confused about why they’re overeating at night or the weekends.
The paradox about weight loss and how your brain works is that when your food plan isn’t setup based on deprivation it’s easier to say no to temptations. It’s easier to take it or leave it. And when you’re including things in your plan you enjoy, suddenly you realize you no longer need willpower.
I ask my clients if they like what they’re eating and I coach them on how to include foods like bread, potatoes, chocolate, pizza, ice cream. So many of them when I tell them they can eat bread are like what? I can eat bread. How will I lose weight eating bread?
They’ve done so many gimmicky diets that they think bread is evil. Bread isn’t evil. Your mindset around thinking bread is evil is the real problem and is why you keep overeating it.
When I lost my weight, I ate a cookie a day. That cookie was what helped me stay consistent with my meals and helped me push myself with my other meals to always consider how I could make them slightly better. Versus me telling myself I just have to cut everything out and hope I can do it this time. This is just not how we lose weight for good ladies.
I coach my clients to include these normal foods while incorporating more of the foods that keep their metabolic hormones in check. And it’s always amazing when I see clients go through this transformation. They start adding in more nutrient dense foods while incorporating the fun stuff and suddenly they are more in control, and they no longer rely on willpower.
Clients will tell me in coaching calls they were able to walk by the cookies at the office and say no or that they were able to pass on the breadbasket at a restaurant. And it wasn’t because they were resisting or relying on willpower. It was because they learned how to stop restricting and how to stop being so hard on themselves.
Does that mean weight loss takes a little longer for some of my clients? Yes. But truthfully, it’s faster than all of you who keep trying to do drastic things and then it backfires on you later on. The fastest way to lose weight for good is the slow way. Always.
So, ladies, stop trying to use willpower to get through a diet. You’re wasting your time and stop arguing with yourself over things. Figure out how to make slow and small sustainable changes. And remember that making sustainable change requires you to shift your mindset and drop self judgement which I talked about in episode 63.
You can’t change habits without changing your mindset. Like I always say, mindset (not food) is the key to lasting and sustainable weight loss. Change your perspective. You change your life.