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Willpower - Losing Weight

Updated on March 13, 2011

Willpower - The Hard Part of Losing Weight

Most of us understand what is necessary to lose weight. We need to ingest less calories than we expend. If we do this, then we are guaranteed to lose weight. So why do so many people have problems controlling their weight.

The problem has to do with willpower, determination and self-control. Most of us do not understand this important aspect of the human mind. Willpower is about our ability to set a goal and endure adversity to reach it. We need strong willpower.

Life is pain. This is an essential truth about living. When we look for a way to avoid pain or adversity, we can often act to our own detriment. When we set a goal, we must understand that the process of reaching that goal may result in discomfort.

Willpower - Mind over Body
Willpower - Mind over Body

Willpower and the Marshmallow Test

Back in the sixties, some children were given a marshmallow. The researcher told them that if they could wait fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow, then he would give them another one. Most of the children failed to wait, but a few had the willpower to wait for the second marshmallow.

What was the secret of those that succeeded? As a general rule, they distracted themselves. They diverted their attention to something else. They stopped thinking about the marshmallow that they didn't want to eat yet.

You may do the same thing with dieting. Find something else to do. The best plan to avoid eating a cookie, may not be to stare it down, but to read a book, play a game, browse the internet, do some aerobics, or go for a walk.

Willpower - Mind versus Body

Willpower is often a battle of mind versus body. Your mind may be determined to lose weight, but your body is determined to gain or maintain it's weight. The ideal goal is to find a compromise between the body and mind.

Our ability to resist eating is decreased by low blood sugar. For some people, eating a high fiber meal that is slowly digested may help decrease feelings of hunger. For other people, they may do better with a high protein meal.

Willpower can be depleted. Psychological tests show that people who engage in testing that requires concentration are more easily tempted by snacks than control subjects. You may want to keep some healthy snacks nearby when engaged in strenuous activities.

Stress can lower willpower too. Our bodies try to keep blood sugar levels higher during stress and this can result in cravings for foods high in carbohydrates.

Our willpower may be undermined by our companions. If you find this to be a problem, then make plans for dealing with it when it happens. Planning ahead, can help you stick to your goals. Don't be afraid to waste or throw away food, especially if your partner is trying to undermine your diet.

Declaring War on the Body - Fasting

For some people it may seem that no diet will work for them. For them, fasting may be answer. Although fasting is an unhealthy way to lose weight, it puts eating in black and white terms. It allows a person to focus all of their willpower on the goal of weight loss.

Fasting is perfectly safe for most people for 24 hours. However, long term fasting results in destruction of muscle tissue throughout the body. Long term fasting will also kick in a survival instinct of the body. Your body will respond after the fast by trying to accumulate extra weight in case it ever goes hungry again. This is why long term fasting does not work for permanent weight loss.

A single meal fast is different form of a willpower diet. You eat the same meal every day at the same time. For example, you could eat a couple of eggs, half of a muffin, and a glass of vegetable juice every morning. The important thing is that there is no variety. Same meal - Same Time - Every Day. Your goal for eating that meal is not for pleasure, but to prevent damage to your body while losing weight. You might want to call it a psychological fast.

Here is another trick that I have used in the past. I would not allow myself to eat until I did my daily jog. I didn't fast and I didn't force myself to go jogging, I just told myself that I wasn't allowed to eat until I went jogging. This resulted in me not eating till late in the evening sometimes, but eventually hunger would make me go outside and get some exercise.

In conclusion if you know what a healthy low calorie diet is and you have trouble sticking to it, then you may want to start studying on ways of increasing your determination and willpower. Setting up contingency plans for when you are faced with food is an essential part of this aspect of weight control.


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