The Myth of Willpower: Why Dieting Isn’t Just About Saying ‘No’

Dieting and Failure
Dieting isn't about saying NO

Ladies, let’s have a heart-to-heart. How many times have you embarked on a diet journey, armed with a fridge full of kale, the determination of a marathon runner, and the kind of willpower that could, presumably, turn down a freshly glazed donut? You may have spent the weekend indulging, knowing that you “will start the diet on Monday.’ You are ready; this time, you will take your excess weight off, get rid of your “fat” clothes, get in shape, and never look back.

Despite your best efforts by Wednesday or Thursday of that first week, you find yourself at a crossroads, staring down the barrel of what feels like another ‘failure.’ Perhaps it was someone’s birthday at work, a friend invited you to happy hour, or work is crazy busy; you are exhausted and stop on the way home for pizza. What on earth happened to all that Sunday night and Monday morning resolve? You can’t help but wonder why YOU have no willpower to stick to a diet. But here’s the kicker: what if I told you this isn’t about willpower?

Yes, you heard me right. This isn’t your standard lecture on eating less and moving more. It’s about understanding why the dieting narrative is as flawed as believing a zebra can change its stripes through sheer force of will. Calories in and Calories out is not the gospel we once thought it to be. What we are eating can have as individual an impact as our fingerprints. We are all different bio-individuals, and understanding how mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical relationship with food is critical. 

First, let’s debunk a myth: willpower isn’t the end-all and be-all of successful weight management. Shocking, I know. We’ve been told that if we resist hard enough, we’ll achieve our dream bodies and, presumably, happiness. But here’s a little secret: most diets are not just unsustainable; they’re the equivalent of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole with your bare hands. Let’s also remember that we can be happy at whatever the number is on the scale. If we don’t feel comfortable in our body, and excess weight may also contribute to health issues, then we are motivated to reduce. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that setting goals and having discipline doesn’t play a role in managing our health. But it’s high time we recognized that the playing field isn’t level. Biology, genetics, hormones, stress levels, sleep quality, and a myriad of other factors play a significant role in how our bodies store and lose weight. Stress is a critical player in increasing our cortisol levels and when that happens, hello excess weight, especially around the middle. This isn’t about age, either. Our clients naturally balance certain hormones in their 30s, 50s, or 70s. Food is powerful, and balancing certain hormones, removing certain foods for a short time, and then adding them back teaches you how YOUR body reacts to certain foods. 

So, when you ‘fail’ at your diet because you indulged in a slice of birthday cake or skipped a workout in favor of a Netflix marathon, you’re not actually failing. You’re being human. Life isn’t about constant restrictions or living in a state of perpetual denial. It’s about balance, joy, and, yes, occasionally enjoying that piece of cake without a side of guilt. We are still very much the young child or teenager regarding denial. Say I can’t do it, and my subconscious mind rebels and seeks out that forbidden thing. That is one of the reasons I incorporate hypnosis into my VIP program. Let’s talk to your subconscious and make some positive behavioral alterations.

Here’s where the plot thickens: sustainable weight management isn’t about dieting. It’s about lifestyle changes that you can live with and enjoy. It’s about listening to your body, feeding it nourishing foods, moving in ways that make you feel alive, and, yes, treating yourself because happiness is a nutrient, too. When a client tells me, ‘Thank you for giving me my life back’ or ‘My doctor said everything is perfect,’ I know that this client has made lifestyle changes that will keep her at her ideal healthy weight without being obsessed with food.

So, to all the incredible women who think they’ve failed because their willpower ‘wasn’t strong enough,’ I’m here to tell you that you’re stronger than any diet. You’re not a failure but a warrior fighting the wrong battle. It’s time to change the narrative, focus on health and happiness, and leave the myth of willpower in the dust.

Remember, your worth isn’t measured by the scale but by the vastness of your heart and the strength of your spirit. Here’s to finding a path to wellness that’s as unique and fabulous as you are.

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