willpower and weight loss

Nearly every potential coaching client I talk to has something to say about willpower. Usually it’s something like “I have none,” or “The last time I lost weight was through sheer willpower. Then I gained it all back plus some.” And I always tell them the same thing. Willpower and weight loss don’t work. Why?

Because willpower is weak. It fades. You can’t exert enough for a long enough time to create lasting results. Research shows that willpower is like a muscle. It tires easily from use. Then it gives out. And it usually gives out right about the time someone puts the bread basket, the cake pan, or the slab of cookie dough down in front of you. The good news is you can lose weight without willpower; in fact, willpower and weight loss do not have to go together at all.

Did you follow the link? If not go back and read the article, and pay particular attention to Prof. Mischel’s study about kids and marshmallows (here’s a link to a great Ted Talk about the study). Prior to this study, most people would have chalked up high performance to willpower and left it and that. But this study changed everything.

The kids who delayed eating the marshmallow didn’t do so by exercising super-human willpower; they did it by distracting themselves. They played, sang songs, made up stories and talked to themselves to keep temptation at bay. All skills that are easily taught. All skills that quickly change behavior – even the behavior of a sugar-hungry four-year-old.

High performance – and the ability to maintain a performance state in the face of serious temptation has nothing to do with the power of a person’s will and everything to do with the power of person’s skill. How cool is that? That means that all you have to do is learn some new skills and a thinner, healthier you will be yours.

And anyone can learn new skills. Just ask the four-year-olds. So put down all those old limiting beliefs about willpower. It’s not necessary to your weight loss success. New skills are – and they will lead the way to a happier life, more fulfilling relationships, and a happier you.

Do you have questions about willpower and weight loss? Are you curious about what new skills can help you on this journey? Ask away in the comments section below.

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