Willpower is for Wusses
If you are reading this blog, chances are you are intimate with white-knuckling it, willpower, and weight loss.
You have even had success, losing weight.
And finding it again and again and maybe you have received a bonus of even more weight.
Maybe you feel disappointed and bewildered: how did this happen?
So you white-knuckle your way back to what you did in the first place saying “Monday I will start and then tomorrow is the day. You string together weeks and months of Mondays and tomorrows.
I know what to do, I just dont’ do it.
What is wrong with me?
Nothing, my friend, nothing is wrong with you. What is wrong is what you are focusing on to help you: willpower.
Willing your willpower to overpower your well-ingrained habits leads to disaster our results.
What if you let willpower go? What if you created a way of being without willpower?
Willpower is like that bad boy boyfriend I had in High School: He was so enticing, and when he was good, oh, he was good. Unfortunately, that good only lasted so long.
What is so Wussy about Willpower?
- Willpower is like the charge on your smartphone. You wake up with a full charge, and the more you use it, the weaker it becomes.
- Willpower is universal. In other words, you use willpower for ALL actions that are not automatic.
- Willpower depletes with each decision you make throughout the day.
- Ego Depletion happens when you have used up your willpower and self-control runs on empty.
- WHEN IT COMES TO EATING: Willpower originates within the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) that part of your brain that can delay gratification. This part is not fully developed until the age of 25 and is in charge of self-control and reasoning. Yet, remember you do not eat from the PFC you eat from your reptilian brain where willpower won’t go.
Before I change any diet my clients learn about the Enteric Nervous System or the ENS.
This System connects your gut to your brain stem (reptilian brain) via the Vagus nerve.
You are learning about a new way of eating appeals to your PFC (the part of your brain responsible for delayed gratification and reasoning).
Your reptilian brain’s job is to carry out the orders from your gut. It has no willpower.
As an adult, you control yourself, and you determine your actions. After all, you did get out of bed, showered and brushed your teeth this morning.
However, that does not take willpower. These have become habits, and you do these automatically. You would feel off if you didn’t.
Yet, the more decisions you make during the day, the more ego depletion you experience, and the first place this depletion goes is so the pantry for sugar and salt and fake fats.
In the first step of Overeater’s Anonymous: I am powerless over food, and my life has become unmanageable.
I remember reading this and thinking; my life is not unmanageable. It’s not like I am staying out all night or driving under the influence.
Or was I?
- I drove many times with a hangover. It may have been from sugar, but it wasn’t safe. I would have a hard time keeping my eyes open.
- I passed out from overeating food as my kids played in the other room.
- I dug food out of trash cans for one more bite.
- I would sneak to the store to replenish boxes of cereal that I ate in hiding.
- I would drive away at night, buy candy bars, and eat them in my temple’s parking lot, hoping that God would help me since I was close to his home.
Yep, that is unmanageable.
For me, willpower with food has disappeared. Therefore, I had to “not my food” to:
- Hard candy
- Gluten because it increased my compulsion.
By stating these foods as “not my food,” I have taken out decisions about these foods.
I am not asking you to follow my lead.
I am asking you to be open to the idea that willpower is taking away your power.
Mentally, willpower and eating are disconnected. You eat from the least sophisticated part of your brain, yet your willpower originates in the highest region.
The behaviors I teach my clients such as:
- Hunger scale
- Filling your plate
- Crowding out
- Picking an eating lane
required little willpower because they are tackled in bite size pieces over 6 weeks.
Over time, the neuropathways will reset, and, just like brushing your teeth; when you don’t follow their paths, you will feel off.
Imagine leaving the house without brushing your teeth.
Your willpower could care less about the emotions you have around certain foods. When you deplete willpower, and you are tired and hungry, that reptilian brain will kick in, and whispers
“cookies make everything better!”
It will happen, luckily, just like when your smartphone’s power depletes, you have a charger to power up that willpower.
It is called your Willpower Power Plan!
Let’s pretend that you are at a friend’s birthday party, and you had planned out how you were going to be with food.
Things are going great, and then someone asks WHY you are not eating cake?
Your friend made it, and you know her feelings will be hurt if you don’t partake.
Your PFC knows that making her happy shouldn’t stump your happiness, yet that PFC is not a part of your food affair.
You feel yourself afraid of hurting her feelings so you start to move towards the cake. Then you remember you have a plan for situations like these:
When you feel yourself going for the foods you know, you will regret STOP, FREEZE
Drop out of your environment right now by moving away Psychology follows Physiology.
Into the bathroom. The bathroom is the best place to get alone and away from food.
Take three deep breaths in through the nose and out of the nose. It calms down your flight or fight system and allows you to be able to think.
The fastest way through a craving is a connection. Have a text buddy.
NOTE: If you have a pen and paper, write out a fast plan or use the notes app on your phone.
You decide to tell your friend that when you eat the cake, you feel sick.
Return to the party and share with your friend and focus on being of service to her. Maybe help clean up, talk to someone who seems to be alone, etc.
You share this with your friend and ask her how you can help. She may be mad, yet you know that you are worth more than pleasing another person with food.
This Power Plan replenishes your willpower! Plus, who is going to follow you into the bathroom?
This will take time; you are needing to retrain your brain and others around you how to treat you and that eating their treats is not an act of love.
Be patient with yourself. Be gentle with yourself.
You are a Willpower Wonder Woman!