Why Willpower Is Not Enough to Make You Thin

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Willpower is not enough to make you thin. In fact, willpower might be the worst way to try and lose weight. Here I share the five attackers to your use of willpower in losing weight.
It’s very common for people to think that it’s their lack of willpower that is the reason that they are overweight or just can’t eat in a healthy way. Some research says that willpower is not enough. Nowhere is that more true than in losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight.

It’s very common for people to think that it’s their lack of willpower that is the reason that they are overweight or just can’t eat in a healthy way. But willpower is not the best way to get thin!

We all know or have read about people that apply willpower to the task of losing weight with some success. It used to leave me feeling like the most undisciplined person in the world. It seemed so simple—eat less and exercise more.

Yet, there is so much more to having a healthy weight than the willpower required to eat less and exercise more.

Why Willpower is Not Enough to Make You Thin

You blame yourself because you don’t have any willpower and you think that’s why you can’t lose weight. However the subject of willpower and losing weight is more complicated than that.

I can remember feeling that it was hopeless to even think about losing weight. I didn’t feel like I was overeating but I still couldn’t budge any weight off for over eight years. I was resigned to being overweight forever.

Then a few years ago, I discovered that I could lose weight and I could do it without dieting or crazy exercise regimens.

If you are feeling hopeless, I want to share some hopeful news. It really is possible to eat in a way that not only makes you feel good; it can help you maintain a healthy weight.

To do that, it’s helpful to understand why willpower is NOT the best way to make you thin.

And if you’ll visit this post, I’ll tell you my 5 ways I lost weight (and kept it off!) without using willpower.

Willpower: the Holy Grail of All Things Good

Many people still believe that to lose weight, it’s all a matter of willpower. In fact, willpower is more often cited as the reason people can’t lose weight or create positive change than any other reason!

We think it’s all about willpower, but we are wrong. Sure there are things that require a certain amount of willpower but in the world of eating healthy you are up against so many attacks on your willpower–it’s almost impossible to lose weight and maintain a loss.

You are up against a food culture that promotes fast food, non-food, and horrible information about what is healthy or not. You are up against your body that doesn’t like change. And finally you are up against your mind and all the habits and beliefs you’ve accrued over the years.

Willpower is a horrible way to lose weight!

Willpower only lasts so long and it’s probably the least effective way to lose weight. The statistics on losing weight are dismal. Most people end up gaining all the lost weight back within a year or too.

That’s because, if you’ve lost weight using willpower, you have to continue using willpower to keep the weight off.

Willpower, however doesn’t take into account these serious reasons that it is so difficult to lose weight and maintain a loss when you’ve used willpower to get there.

5 Attackers on Your Willpower

Modern Food Culture

Most of us accept that fast food and non-food are normal parts of the human diet. I work in a college and every day I see hundreds of people making a lunch out of a soda, crackers, and chips. Instead of eating a real meal, they pick something up in the bookstore or at the gas station.

Or they run through a fast food drive through for a “real” meal. Even though most of us eat things like pasta, crackers, yogurt, bread, and things like this; these things provide little nutrition. To go with our non-food things we drink beverages that are filled with sugar and other unhealthy things. I see shelves devoted to soda and energy drinks. Trust me–these are not providing anything good for your body.

Foods that Create Cravings

Part of the problem with trying to use willpower to control our eating is that we are trying to limit foods that have been created in laboratories to induce cravings. That’s right, the chips, pasta, breads, and other foods are designed to make you want to eat MORE.

When you are eating these things; it is hard to quit eating them. Not only do you want to eat more, you will keep eating even when you know good and well that you are not hungry anymore.

This isn’t you not having any willpower. This is you eating foods designed to make you not have any willpower! These foods trick your brain and your body into eating more and they take away your natural ability to quit eating when you are full.

That’s right. Your body really does have the ability to know when it’s full and to remove that feeling of wanting to stuff your face when you’ve eaten enough. But when you eat foods that create cravings and override this system, you overeat and can’t understand why.

The Low Fat Crime Against Humanity

Sixty years ago, our country had a crisis. Men were dying of heart attacks at an unprecedented rate. It the effort to fight this, something really bad happened. Medicine, science, and the government decided for the first time in the history of humans, to recommend a diet for all people.

It advised things like eating only lean meats, not eating saturated fat, and removing things like eggs, butter, and cheese from our diets.

Most of you reading this will probably see nothing wrong with that recommendation since we have all grown up hearing that this is how we should eat.

The only problem is that is was wrong. No research ever showed that this way of eating would be helpful. Not only that, but much research showed that it was actually harmful. Look around. Obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease run rampant in our society.

In fact, no one is surprised by any of these conditions any more. We all accept that it is a part of aging. Except that it is not. It is a condition of a science experiment going horribly wrong.

One takeaway is that fat isn’t bad. Fat is one of the most important foods you need to eat to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Let that sink in.

Here’s the important caveat though. This applies to healthy fats: fat from meat that is of good quality, coconut oil, butter, eggs, olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Vegetable and seed oils (even canola) are bad and you should avoid them as much as possible.

So, instead of pasta have some squash with butter. Eat your salad with a delicious fatty dressing. Leave the skin on your chicken. Buy the higher fat ground meat. Add avocados and nuts to your meals. Eat whole eggs.

You Don’t Understand Your Body

Our body is a complex collection of systems that are regulated by hormones. Unfortunately our lack of understanding our hormones has turned most of us into fat-storing bodies instead of fat-burning bodies.

Our bodies are designed to use fat as energy. While our hormones systems are sensitive and complex, working with them is not. You have to limit foods that raise your insulin. Unchecked eating of processed carbs literally wrecks havoc with your hormone systems.

Your body goes haywire inside and instead of using fat for energy it continually stores it. That’s why even if you are watching what you eat and perhaps even eating low-fat to stay thin, you find yourself gaining more and more fat each year.

Here is a link to the Fat-Burning Secrets that Everyone Needs to Understand

Not Understanding the Big Picture

Here’s the big picture. We are here to live healthy active lives into our 80’s and beyond. We’re not here to try and have a skinny body for a few years and then be in horrible shape from our 50’s on.

Yet, that is exactly what we do!

I see women starve themselves to try and get themselves into an unrealistic body shape. How many women still lament that they can’t fit into the jean size they wore in high school?

The big picture is take care of yourself now in a way that will get you through your entire life in a way that keeps you active and happy. Eat real food. Exercise. Learn about the food you eat. Quit eating crap!

Seriously. Make decisions today that will build a solid foundation for the rest of your wonderful life. Don’t believe for a second that everyone is going to get sick and need lots of medication when they get older.

Why Willpower is Not the Best Way to Lose Weight.

Willpower is only a way to lose weight in the short term. In the long-term, you can harm your metabolism and set yourself up to be overweight and sick. It’s so much better to eat real food.

To help you with that, I’ve written a lot on the subject. I don’t care if you are skinny or how you look in a bathing suit. I care that you have a happy healthy life and that you are fit enough to actually enjoy life.

Eating good foods is not deprivation my friends. It is freedom.

Here’s to real freedom my friends!



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I'm a certified life and weight loss coach who helps women feel better and get the most out of their lives! The process of life coaching teaches you to love yourself and gain self confidence in a safe effective way.

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  1. […] That’s because, if you’ve lost weight using willpower, you have to continue using willpower to keep the weight off. In this post, I describe the five attackers on your willpower. […]

  2. Fabiola on March 6, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    It’s true that some sort of willpower is necessary to start a healthy habit, like getting up earlier to exercise or pushing yourself to plan and prep healthy meals. However, I agree you can’t rely on willpower alone to lose weight. Your tips are great. I have learned to apply such advice and it’s very effective.

    • Sara on March 8, 2017 at 6:46 am

      Hi Fabiola. Thanks for reading and commenting. Getting and staying fit is a journey–and an imperfect one at that. But we gotta keep on trying!

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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! Big changes can happen with a shift in thinking. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life coach, I can help you create a life you love. Visit my life coaching page here.