In my last post I talked about the importance of motivation and the use of tools to help turn motivation into action. But what about willpower? How important is having willpower to achieving weight loss? In all the years I’ve worked (or not) on weight loss, I’ve so often heard people say something like, “I need more willpower.” And, I’ve heard some criticize others for not losing weight, saying that all they need is willpower and if they just had willpower, then they would lose weight. Is this true? I’m not sure that it is. I certainly don’t think that it mattered much for me.
Part of the problem with “willpower” is that people mean different things by the term. This definition of willpower at Merriam-Webster is “energetic determination.” I’m not sure that definition really tells me much. Sometimes “willpower” seems to be used to mean self-control or being disciplined. With many people who say that all you need to lose weight is willpower, there is a sort of implication that willpower is a kind of inner strength that allows you to prevail against temptation. And, if you don’t have “willpower” then the implication is that you are weak.
Regardless of the definition of willpower, I still find it too vague to be helpful to me in losing weight. Willpower is often treated as something that one has or doesn’t have and that with it you succeed at weight loss and without it you are powerless to do anything against the temptation of food. The problem for me comes with trying to put my hands on it to figure out how to get it. It is easy to say that I want more willpower, but how do I get some? Where does it come from? Is it something I can consciously go get or is it something innate that I either have or don’t have? [Read more…]