I think we've all said something similar to ourselves at one time or another when we started the next "diet" we were going to try. I would wake up that Monday morning with so much adrenaline pumping in my veins that it almost hurt. I would be so positive, so confidant, so excited. I'd have willpower pouring out my ears. I'd even have a little extra spring in my step. "This is the first day of the rest of my life" I'd chirp as I ate my rice cake for breakfast and left for work.
And it worked...for a little while. I would have the willpower to say no to the donuts that somebody brought for breakfast that day.
"Nope, I'm on a diet. Thanks though" and the smile never left my face.
I would have the willpower not to have a tall frozen yummy chocolate coffee drink with about 10,000 calories per serving (with extra whipped cream of course!).
"No thanks! I'll have one bottle of water please." I'd sing to the pimple faced teen behind the counter.
Willpower would allow me to say "no thanks" to the pizza everybody ordered for lunch as I munched away happily on my salad and carrot sticks.
Willpower was all I needed to get through those tough and trying situations.
And then something strange and unexpected happened...willpower stabbed me in the back quicker than I could say "double bacon cheeseburger, extra bacon, extra cheese, add mayo and hold any sort of vegetable you may lay on it."
Willpower is the dirty little secret that nobody warns you about. If willpower were a person I'd call it a dirty liarmouth to its face. And if anything, people lie to you about it's abilities. It'll fool ya all right. Willpower sounds all great in the beginning. It makes you think you're prepared to face the real world. It builds you up, makes you feel ready, gives you a pep talk, a slap on the back and then shoves you out there in the world, naked and exposed, to only slam the door behind you and click the lock so all the world see you standing on your porch in your birthday suit. Then willpower watches from the window and giggles as you look for a leaf big enough to cover your 'bare' essentials.
It's when you have that willpower, that super attitude that YOU CAN DO IT... that's when dieting or lifestyle changes are easy. Willpower makes it simple to embrace your life change and say "no" to the things you know aren't healthy for you. Easy Peasy.
It's what happens after the willpower diminishes that you really need to prepare yourself for.
We all know that feeling of empowerment that willpower brings fades out like a pair of stonewashed jeans (tight rolled of course, I am a child of the 80's after all). Sometimes it can last a few days... sometimes even a few weeks... but if you're relying on willpower to take you through to the end, to get you across that finish line... then you are going into battle armed with nothing but a Nerf ball and some duct tape, both of which are fun and handy to have around, but neither of which will help you much in your weight loss endeavors.
I've had to mentally and physically prepare myself for when willpower packs it's stuff and gets the hell out. It still comes back every once and a while to make an appearance but I'm no fool. I know it will leave just as quickly as it came and right now there is no tree with leaves big enough to cover my "assets" out on that porch.
So here's some things I've done to prepare myself for when willpower fails me.
- I don't keep "not the best choice of foods" in my house. Things like nutella, ice cream and baked goods, which are all my weaknesses, are best left at the store. If I must have nutella in the house, it's kept in the cupboard that I do not get into on a regular basis. I once had a box of chocolates here that I just knew I had willpower enough to say "no" to. After eating about 10 of them (in about as many minutes) and then crying to my husband that I ate 10 chocolates, he threw them in the trash. I've not (successfully) had a box of chocolates in the house since. I have recognized this and know it's a problem so I won't try to kid myself that I can do it. It's okay to be human and have faults.
- I plan ahead for situations that tend to make me overeat, like parties. I know what I am going to do when I walk in. I know where to focus my attention and I know where to try to position myself in regards to food.
- I have actually practiced dialogues to use when I'm in a "food pusher" situation to get me out of taking or eating food that I don't need or want. We all have Auntie Meanswell, who knows you love _____ (insert food you are now trying to eat only on special occasions) and insists you have the second and third helping. Having a plan ahead of time has spared me fumbling for the rights words or worse yet, conceding to their pushing to save hurt feelings. *tip* ask Auntie Meanswell if she can pack some up "to-go" after you've had your first, regular portion. This means saving her feelings from being hurt, and you have the choice, away from her, as to what to do with the extra food.
- When I don't have the right frame of mind and come to a bump in my road I look back through the book that got me on this path, Dr. Phil's "The Ultimate Weight Solutions", and re-read the passages that I've highlighted. I re-read the things I have written while at Novarum, the center where I went for help regarding my food and weight issues. I refocus my attention on those small things that worked for me in the beginning because, low and behold, they will work for me now. I find the things that have proven to work for me and make sure they are still part of my daily routine. I allow myself to take things one day at a time, not feel rushed to lose weight, and to be human and make mistakes. I don't need willpower for that...I can be powerless but still have a will.