February 20, 2018

Willpower is Not Enough – Help with Weight Loss Motivation

Willpower is a rapidly depleting resource, not what you need for lasting weight loss results.

Studies have shown that the more you use your willpower to sustain an undesirable activity, the more it gets depleted (i.e. willpower is in limited supply). But, if you are trying to lose weight, you need something you can rely on day-in-day-out to keep you on track to a healthier and slimmer you.

What then, is this magical resource? Systems.

If you want to make sure you don’t eat those cookies, that you take your butt to the gym, and that you go to sleep when you should to get a full night’s rest, then you need to make it EASY for you to do so – you DON’T want to have to rely on willpower to get all those non-fun (at first) activities and habits accomplished.

The problem with laziness and bad food is that it is usually the easiest forms of pleasure.

In a society where work values have heavily invaded recreation (making it goal-oriented, rather than creative or fun), mood-changers give us a chance to “lose ourselves,” to be temporarily released from self-consciousness and time-consciousness. They keep us from confronting just how little genuine please and joy we actually have in our lives. (Willpower’s Not Enough by Arnold Washton)

But, you can (and NEED to) make your healthier activities automatic, even easier than your bad ones. For example, if you know you tend to snack during the day and often hit the vending machine or desk drawer for the junk food, then first, put your money/credit cards and junk food all the way in your car, requiring a little more activation energy to get that junk food. Second, the night before, make some healthy snack such as almond butter on celery or a zip lock bag full of almonds and bring those with you and put them on your desk (not even in your drawer). What have you done here? You have made is EASIER to eat the good food and HARDER to eat the bad food. No willpower required.

Using a bit of imagination, you can do the same thing will all of your other healthier activities. Try getting all your workout clothing together for tomorrow’s workout and putting them in a nice neat pile (even separate the socks and put them on top of your tennishoes so they are ready to go) in a very visible and easily accessible place (my spot is on top of my bathroom counter). Then, go a step further, and pack all your work clothes in a zipped workout bag and put that bag in your car. This will make it actually harder to unpack that bag to wear what you want to work than to just put on your workout clothes and go to the gym that morning.

Have any tips you’d like to share? Add a comment below.

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