You know, I really do not like the word WILLPOWER. In fact, I despise it. Why? For starters, I think it’s one of the many excuses that keep people from becoming healthier and reaching their goals. I just don’t have any…willpower. Sound familiar? Don’t feel bad, I used to have the same attitude. I’d tell myself that I just “liked food too much” to change. And I do like food…a lot. But I like being healthy and feeling confident and comfortable in my body even more.
People sometimes comment on my “willpower,” but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that there has been absolutely nothing easy about my health and weight loss journey. I did not take a magic pill that *poof* cured my food demons, that’s for sure! I have dug deep, taken an HONEST look at my habits and have made conscious, consistent efforts to improve them. Step by step…day by day. I have not turned to gimmicks or quick-fix solutions. I have taken the long road…the road less traveled, if you will. I no longer blame my body or circumstances for keeping me from being the person I want–am MEANT–to be. I show up, own up and work at it. Even when I fail. Every day.
So contrary to what you might have yourself believing, willpower is not something a person is born with. It’s not a gene that enables a select group of people to resist chocolate, chips or that second glass of wine. It takes WORK. Sure, there may be a small percentage of people that have an easier time making good decisions for various reasons (their upbrining, metabolism, etc), but for the average Jane, that’s simply not the case. I know I’ve said this before, but you need to accept and embrace the process. The sooner you do that and STOP feeling resentful about it, the better off you’ll be. I promise.
“Willpower” has a lot to do with setting yourself up for success, ie. BEING PREPARED. Case in point: Yesterday I had a few errands to run after work and knew I’d be home late, so I made sure to bring a healthy snack to the office (plain Chobani yogurt + apple slices) to eat late afternoon (5pm) so I wouldn’t be ravenous when I got home. When I walked into my apartment at 9pm I was pretty hungry, but not I-need-to-eat-everything-in-my-kitchen-right-now hungry. And I wasn’t hangry either. Honestly, I was feeling tired and lazy and just needed something in my stomach. I had made a big kale salad the day before, so I pulled it out of the fridge and dug in…straight out of the mixing bowl!
I also had two small servings of salted pecans leftover from Christmas that I dipped in hummus. I needed a little crunch, a little flavor, a lil…somethin somethin…and that did the trick. After I ate and had a hot cup of tea, the kitchen was closed for business. Was it the most exciting meal ever? No. But it did the job and I knew I didn’t need anything heavier than that right before bed. And just like my therapist asked me last week, “Ellen…does life always have to be exciting?” That made me giggle. My first thought was “Yes!” But then I realized…it really doesn’t. Sometimes, simple is good–especially when it comes to food.
But see, it wasn’t sheer willpower that helped me make a good choice in a moment that could have gone so, so wrong. I went to the store, bought the healthy ingredients, prepped the salad and had it handy when I needed it. This is a perfect example of when a little extra effort up front ended up making my life easier later.
After I ate, I added more kale and veggies to the bowl so that I could have my lunch set for today. Because I’m prepared with something healthy, my choice is easy. I don’t need to agonize over what my cravings are and what I feel like eating, my mind is already made up! Remember, eating doesn’t need to be a big event every meal–even when you’re stressed at work and food seems to be the only bit of reprieve you have. Your actions will reflect your mindset (and vice versa), so start working on making these changes now!
Making real change also takes a strong desire to succeed, as Gabby Bernstein aka “The Spirit Junkie” says above. (If you don’t know who this woman is…you need to.) You have to really want it, and be honest with yourself about what that is. Be specific. Hold yourself accountable. Take control. Make action steps, no matter how small, towards your goals.
So yeah, I’m a little late in the game with New Year’s resolutions and goal-setting talk, but the third week in January is when people tend to start slacking, so hopefully this post will help recharge your motivation. One of the key things Gabby says in the video above is to write down your goals and PRIORITIZE them. This is so important. When I first made my list of health goals for 2013, it was a mile long. And while I DO want to give up coffee one day (I think?!), I know that I’m nowhere near ready. I have more pressing things that need my attention right now, like emotional eating and working on my cooking skills. I’m ready. ARE YOU?!
*Need help with your health and lifestyle goals? Want to lose weight without obsessing about every bite you put into your mouth? I’m a Board Certified Health Coach + Emotional Eating Expert; contact me for a free consultation and let’s get started!