Why willpower alone won't stop you reaching for the crisps...

Why it’s not about willpower

When you see people who’ve lost weight (or just seem to stay slim) – do you think ‘wow, they must have SO much willpower’?

But YOU just don’t have that much willpower in you, however much you try?

It’s completely understandable. But it doesn’t help you!

So, if you ever think ‘I don’t have enough willpower’, the good news is there ARE a few things you can do. To stop feeling at the mercy of your own will (which, by the way, is a limited resource for everyone - even your friend who’s always been a size 10!).

Your brain’s basic instinct, it’s motivation, is to survive. Burning calories by exercising or restricting your calories on a diet is against this basic survival mechanism.

This means we end up using our willpower to fight against the motivation from our brain telling us we need to do the opposite to survive. Sounds a bit unfair doesn’t it?

So what can you do?

If you can put some emotion behind your values and your aspirations this will help you to bring meaning to them. It actually activates your dopamine reward system, in the same way maybe ice cream or junk food does for you now! 

What do I mean by this? Let’s take an example of a woman who wants to lose weight.

Why do you want to lose weight? Because I want to fit back into all my nice clothes sat in the wardrobe.

Why do you want to be able to fit back into those clothes? Because I feel self-conscious. My clothes aren’t fitting the way they used to, and I end up just wearing baggy things. I’d feel more confident if my clothes were more comfortable.

Why do you want to feel more confident? Because I don’t go out much. I don’t feel like being sociable. If I felt more confident, I’d go out with my friends or husband more.

Why do you want to be more social? I want to feel good about myself when I’m out with friends or my husband. I want to have more fun in my life and develop deeper relationships. I feel like I’m missing out when I don’t go out with friends and I just want to be a normal couple with my husband.

Why do you want to have more fun and develop deeper relationships? Because I’ve been feeling isolated and a little lonely, and I need a sense of belonging and being connected.

Can you see here how digging down to the real reason can be so powerful? Try it!

How to break free of old habits

Do you want more energy? I think that’s something we’d all like!

This could be the thing you focus on when thinking about changing some of your less than healthy habits. If you have more energy, you have more motivation to exercise and eat healthier.

Everything feels more difficult when you’re feeling tired or worn out. 

When you take an old habit away, you’re left with an empty space. So whatever you decide you’re going to change, you need to replace it with something better.

Let’s say you decide to cut down on coffee and not have one first thing in the morning.

There are a few good reasons why this is an excellent change to make!

·         Caffeine on an empty stomach means more stress to your body.

·         More stress can equal more belly fat!

·         And you might also get that post caffeine slump, making you feel more tired and making you want even more coffee or something sugary to wake yourself up…

Replace the coffee with something else – you may go for decaff, tea or herbal tea. There’s so many available now, there’s bound to one you like! But give yourself time to adjust too. Cutting down gradually may work better for you.  

Staying on track even when things don’t go to plan

If things don’t go to plan don’t beat yourself up. We’re human beings, not robots!

A plan is a plan, not some strict schedule! And it can take some time to break unhealthy habits and replace them with new ones, that serve you so much better.

Back in the day, I’d go shopping and buy crisps, biscuits or chocolate. I’d sit in the car, eat most of it (even a family pack of crisps!) and then hide all the wrappers. As if getting rid of the evidence meant it somehow didn’t matter…

So rather than feeling guilty, be honest with yourself. If you can, try and work out WHY you did what you did, rather than just beating yourself up or pretending it didn’t happen.

That way, you’ll feel so much more prepared for next time.

I know this all seems fine in theory, it’s the actual doing it! There’s SO much to this I could write a book, but I know that’s not necessarily going to help you.

What will help you is working with someone to help you make a plan, to break your old unhealthy habits and form new ones, to get to your health & weight loss goals. Someone who’s there to support you and keep on you track on the days when it doesn’t go to plan.

So if you KNOW what to do, but just can’t seem to get yourself to do it (for more than a few days), I know exactly how you feel. And I’d love to help you get to your weight loss goals this year.

For a casual chat about how I could help, just click here to book a call in my diary now.

Would be great to talk about YOUR goals! 

Until next time,


p.s I know it might feel like a big step – but honestly, the BIGGEST thing my clients say is that having that support makes all the difference (rather than battling on with your willpower alone!). Here’s the link again to book a quick chat in my diary!