"If I just had more willpower, I'd be successful."
I have heard this numerous times in my coaching practice. I've said this before myself and I bet you have probably said this yourself.
It's a common misconception that your lack of success is due to your lack of willpower.
In the world of traditional "dieting" this might be true. Diets in the traditional sense rely heavily on your strength of willpower. This is due to the fact that diets rarely address nutritional needs. Cutting out carbs, for example, won't meet your nutritional needs. Your body actually needs them so it craves them -- your body is telling YOU to eat the carbs. Your diet is telling you not to eat the carbs. Enter the power struggle. Willpower matters a great deal in this situation.
Another example, would be following a 1,200 calorie diet in an effort to drop weight. (I strongly discourage this by the way. You'll be in for a huge backfire if you take this route). The problem with a 1,200 calorie diet is for most of us that number is too low. If you follow this strict caloric intake, you will be hungry. . . all. the. time! Again, following this type of a strict diet requires lots of willpower.
I know I would have an incredibly difficult time following either of these options. In both of these scenarios you're setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to be successful in this arena without extremely reducing your caloric intake or cutting out all carbs.
First, make sure you are following a plan that addresses all of your nutritional needs. This is where working with a coach one on one can be a wise investment.
Here are 3 tips you can start implementing today to help ensure your success:
1. Access Your Physical Environment: Open up your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Is your kitchen set up to help you reach your weight loss and health goals or is it set up for self-sabotage? Take note of foods in your home that are no longer serving your goals. Common examples might be potato chips, ice-cream, cookies, etc. It isn't that you won't ever eat these items again. However, you are much more likely to consume foods that are in your home, readily accessible.
The simple truth is you can't eat what isn't there. Rather than toss these items out, simply don't purchase them again. Instead, replace them with nourishing, life-giving foods. For the potato chips you might swap those with canned chickpeas. When you roast these with olive oil, sea salt and garlic they can really satisfy a chip craving! For the ice-cream, maybe you swap those with a fruit sweetened treat. You might also decide that you really don't have the desire for frozen treats and only ever ate the ice-cream because it was in the house. When I go through this process with my clients, many of them realize they don't miss the old food items at all.
Set your kitchen up for success. Let your kitchen work for you, rather than against you. If you have family members who show resistance to this exercise, consider giving them a designated cabinet in the kitchen. By storing those food items in a separate place, you'll be less likely to reach for them. Out of sight, out of mind.
2. Crowding Out Effect: Start by incorporating more nutrient dense foods into your diet. Your body is smart. It will continue to tell you are hungry until it gets the nutrition it needs. This is why, among other reasons, you can consume a 1500 calorie fast food meal and feel hungry again in an hour. Perhaps it's enough calories to satisfy your entire daily need, but there is very little nutritional value. By including foods rich in nutrition, vitamins, minerals and fiber, you'll naturally feel fuller for longer. Keep this simple -- think minimally processed whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, etc.
3. Distraction: Let's face it. Sometimes you eat out of boredom.... or procrastination....or due to stress. We all do! It's a reality of the world we live in. This is where having distractions can be beneficial. Learn to recognize your true hunger cues. Before eating, ask yourself if you are actually hungry. Consider the last time you ate. Ask yourself if you are stressed or bored or putting off a project. If you're not truly hungry, have a distraction set in place.
Here are a few you might try:
- Call a friend
- Go for a walk
- Do a load of laundry or some other household chore
- Take up a hobby that keeps your hands busy - knitting is a great option
Don't place too much emphasis on willpower. Willpower and motivation are fleeting. Creating sustainable habits and discipline is what will drive your efforts.