“I just don’t have the willpower. I can’t do this.” Does that statement sound familiar? Have you said it to yourself (multiple times)? If so, you’re not alone. This is one of the most common things I hear my clients say to me. And you know what?
Willpower alone doesn’t work.
When I first start working with clients, I find that they’ve been on a number of different diets. They’ve lost weight and gained it back. They say they just can’t stay on a diet or get to the gym every day. They beat themselves up over this.
The thing is, we only have a finite amount of willpower. If you try to rely on it alone, you will end up beating yourself up. It won’t bring you through the long haul.
But don’t you need discipline?
Yes. You do need discipline to succeed. I actually did figure competitions, winning the Masters category at the age of 47. For me, that was about discipline: I wanted to see if I had what it took to really go as far as I could. Maybe you’ve had some successes you can point to willpower as the reason for.
You can’t always go through willpower. You only have so much willpower each day, and there’s so much we have to deal with in life that we can’t always be struggling with the weight loss part of it.
So again, it matters, but willpower should not be the only thing that does.
If I can’t just rely on willpower, what can I do?
The answer starts before you even begin your weight loss journey or whatever it is your fitness and nutrition goals are. What I want you to do first is think about why you’re setting your goal.
What is the emotional attachment to your goal? Why is it so important to you? To connect to that emotion, ask yourself how you’re going to feel when you reach your goal. By reaching your goals, maybe you’ll feel more confident. Maybe you’ll fit into that one pair of jeans that’s migrated all the way to the back of your closet gathering dust.
How are you going to feel if you don’t reach your goal? Will you be disappointed with yourself? Will it have consequences for your blood pressure or cholesterol? A lot of my clients feel like they have a great deal to lose by not reaching their goals.
Whatever your list, all of these things are emotional attachments to your goal. You need to connect to these. You have to be emotional about this.
Instead of looking at the negatives, though, try to turn it around. What weight would you like to reach? How would you like to look? What’s going to make you feel good about you? Think of some positive statements that you can be emotionally attached to.
Ready to put your goals into action?
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Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.