Updated: Jul 12, 2021
I JUST DON'T HAVE THE WILLPOWER.
I hear those words often from women trying to change their eating habits for the better. And, let's be honest, the main reason for this desire for change is the extra inches that have creeped onto their body. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to look a certain way so that when you see yourself you feel comfortable with who you are.
Yes, we want to feel more energy and have less aches.....but, the biggest motivator is losing the "extra": Love handles, muffin top, floppy arms, back fat, thicker thighs and hips.....all that fun stuff that seems to creep its way onto our bodies as our metabolism slows down and life's stressors seem to speed up. Midlife's reality!
So. Enter the word DIET.
The word "diet" comes from the Greek word "diaita".
It means: WAY OF LIFE.
How lovely is that?
But what happened?!
How did a delightful, innocent word turn into something so scary and hated?
The word DIET brings fear and anger, frustration and sadness. It brings up thoughts of restriction, scarcity, need for crazy amounts of willpower and self-discipline.....ZERO thoughts of joy, flexibility and peace.
If DIET literally means WAY OF LIFE....we screwed up somewhere.
The thing is, we are all on a diet.
Eating whatever you are eating each day is your diet.
Eating = diet. It's a way of life.
I used to fight hard against that demonic D word!
As a holistic nutritionist, I would try my best to stop everyone from falling into the fad diet trap.
"MINDSET FIRST!" I would holler from the top of my soap box.
"No diet or exercise program will work until you fix your mindset!"
"You need to accept yourself as you are before you can move forward."
I mean...it's true.
But, I have come to realize that we humans need small, speedy wins in order to stay motivated and invested in anything.
So, losing a few inches feels good.
Gaining more energy and sleeping better feels good.
Having more stabilized moods and less cravings throughout the day feels good.
The onset of a 'diet' provides small, relatively quick wins.
But then, a couple of weeks in, there is a distraction that throws you off.
Maybe you have a few nights in a row of really bad sleep, or a big stressor occurs at home or at work.
Maybe it's a vacation or a celebration.
Some big change has happened.
The "falling off the wagon".
You have the dessert.
You drink the wine.
You eat the bag of chips AND the KitKat AND the Skittles.
And then the claiming of LACK OF WILL POWER.
All the thrill and hard work that was at the beginning of your "diet plan" gets lost in the panic of:
"Here we go again, I can't do this."
"I knew this was going to happen."
"This is yet another unsuccessful attempt to lose weight. I don't have the willpower or discipline for this."
You start beating yourself up with thoughts of:
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
"You're too weak, you'll never make it".
The image you have of yourself is someone who lacks strength and will never be able to lose the weight, end the pain, or bring back the energy.
In a nutshell: You feel doomed and filled with the feeling of "What's the point".
But here's the thing: WILLPOWER DOES NOT EQUAL PERFECTION.
Just because Life handed you a curve ball and you dealt with it by having something that wasn't on your "plan" doesn't mean you need to throw in the towel.
It doesn't mean that you lack willpower. It is still there! You have just told yourself that it is gone because you didn't follow the plan to perfection.
Take some time to think of all the things you have done in your lifetime that required willpower (including following your "diet" really well until the curve ball): The will to keep going, to keep doing the things necessary to accomplish an outcome you desire.
There will be a list, I guarantee you. Go all the way back to your childhood.
All the "firsts" in your life. All the challenges you overcame.
You didn't accomplish these things with perfection.
How could you?
According to who's version of perfection?
(If you come up short with this, contact me - I will help you find some!)
All that shit took willpower, your own way of doing things, trust in yourself that you can (even when you slipped or had to detour) and guess what! You still possess the willpower and self-trust!
Just because you had a type of food that wasn't "allowed".....this doesn't mean lack of willpower. It means you didn't adhere to the plan perfectly. And that perfect plan, ANY perfect plan, is going to end up needing to be adapted at some point, somewhere.
It doesn't mean you lack willpower, it means you are flexible, creative, flowing, accepting, understanding, allowing, openminded, easy going.
Instead of calling yourself weak or a failure - see yourself as all the lovely adjectives in the last sentence above (and don't those words feel good).
That day, or evening, of "off the wagon" is not what shuts down your plan to eat healthier.
It is the brutal self-talk that accompanies it.
I repeat: WILLPOWER DOES NOT EQUAL PERFECTION.
There will be days of chocolate, chips, extra coffee, extra wine.
AWESOME. These days will NOT derail your plan!
Your self talk about them will.
So shut that nonsense down!
And don't get me started on the fact that your diet plan is more than likely too restrictive (with good intentions, I know) and not specific enough to your unique biological make up. That is a whole different topic! Most "diets" are unsustainable, giving you the quick wins but with the inability to last long term. Not your fault! Not lack of willpower if they don't last!
Yes, we need structure and we need to listen to what our body needs, not what our brain thinks we need. The best way to achieve this is with the help of a coach. This is something I can definitely help you with, but it is a big topic worthy of a one on one chat. Feel free to book that with me, happy to help. :)
Now I bet you are thinking that if you claim this new attitude, it will just be a free for all!
All hell will break loose! NOPE.
Shut that nonsense down, too.
You are totally capable of eating in a more healthy way if your desire is there AND if you remind yourself that you do have the know how AND you allow yourself to be "imperfect".
In fact, you will be more successful at it if you adopt the new attitude of allowing your Life to be flexible and easy going.
Allow the changes that will take place and allow yourself to deal with them as you need to! IF YOU NEED THAT GLASS OF WINE AT THE END OF A REALLY FUCKING SHITTY DAY, HAVE IT!
Just don't beat yourself up about it.
Don't think you are doomed and will have that every night from now on, along with an entire takeout pizza.
You haven't lost control, you have gained acceptance and understanding.
You haven't lost WILLPOWER, you have gained FREE WILL and the opportunity to TRUST YOURSELF.
Remind yourself that you are strong and capable!
Forget your past experiences with "dieting" because they happened before you remembered that YOU ARE STRONG AND CAPABLE AND POSSESS A SHITTON OF WILLPOWER!
Write down the following words and repeat them every day: "I allow Life to flow and I trust myself to flow with it. This will allow me to get to where I want to be with confidence, peace and joy."
Stop holding yourself down in the failure spot. Your negative self talk is doing that, not the glass of wine.
Lift yourself up to the confident, trustworthy, full of will woman that you are by remembering that you are that woman!
This takes time, so be patient with the process and stay in the knowledge that you can do this.