Why Weight Loss has Nothing to do with Willpower
I hear clients tell me all the time that the reason they’re not able to stick to a diet or healthy eating plan is lack of willpower.
But here’s the thing, long-term weight loss has very little to do with willpower. Long-term weight loss is all about mindset.
It’s about exploring and fundamentally shifting the reasons you eat and the foods that you crave.
In my experience, these are the three most common mindset issues that get in the way of people achieving their weight loss goals – and none of them have anything to do with willpower:
Eating When You’re Bored
When you eat out of boredom you’re trying to use food to entertain and inspire yourself. Unless you’re a passionate chef using food as a creative outlet, food can never truly excite and fulfill the part of you that needs to be turned on.
Instead of reaching for something to eat when you’re bored, think about what really lights you up, what interests you, what’s on your “bucket list”? Make a plan to explore and pursue those things and the food will lose its allure.
Eating When You’re Sad or Lonely
Uncomfortable feelings like sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration or anxiety often cause us to reach for food. The brain is still a very primitive organ and when it feels bad, it immediately yearns for something that it knows will make it feel good. Food (especially sugary foods or highly processed foods that turn quickly into sugar) gives the brain an instant boost. Sugar lights up all the dopamine receptors in the brain like a Christmas tree giving you an immediate feeling of happiness.
Learning how to feel our feelings without bolting is one of the biggest hurdles to get over when it comes to emotional eating. The key is to understand that a feeling is just energy. You can acknowledge it, feel it and then let it pass through. Trust that you are strong enough to do that and you will no longer need to turn to food to avoid or numb the feeling.
Your Food Story
When you eat in your car, or while rushing around, you reinforce a story in which making the time to prepare nutritious food and eat it mindfully is not important to you. And, it naturally follows that if eating nutritious food that nourishes and energizes you is not important, then you’ll naturally choose junk whenever it’s offered.
Start to write a new story for yourself by deliberately choosing to make the time to prepare healthy food and to sit down and eat it mindfully with thanks for the way it nourishes and fuels you. By doing this, you teach your brain that this is a priority and eventually those healthy choices will become second-nature.
You can keep trying to white-knuckle your way to your weight loss and health goals, beating yourself up every time you relax and slip, or you can get to the root cause of your food habits and reprogram your brain so that the healthy choices become effortless.
If you want to explore more around changing your relationship with food, check out my Free 7-Day End Emotional Eating challenge. Each morning, for 7 days, you’ll receive an email with a new simple thought exercise that will fundamentally shift the way you think about food forever.