Two words come up at our clinic over and over again: ‘motivation’ and ‘willpower.’ More to the point, we hear about the ‘lack of motivation’ and the ‘lack of willpower.’ To be truthful, you don’t really need either one of these to be successful at weight loss. We tend to overanalyze our thoughts and feelings. We try to understand first why we aren’t successful, or why we lack the motivation to lose weight. The enormity of the task of losing a lot of weight or getting in shape discourages us, and leads to self-defeating behaviours.
Yet we don’t react the same way in other areas of our lives. If you went to high school or university you didn’t think of the overwhelming number of subjects you’d have to take or the books you’d have to read, or how many years it was going to take; you simply went to class and read what you could day by day, and eventually you finished. Had you stopped in first year and worried about the incredibly hard journey you were starting, likely you would not have finished. Similarly, if you decide to have a child you could easily paralyze yourself in worry just thinking about taking care of the child for eighteen years, and the amount of money it was going to cost you to get that child from grade one to high school and beyond.
Why then do we worry about how long or how difficult it will be to lose weight? We hope for some magical insight as to why we eat the way we do, and wish for the motivation and willpower to help us control snacks and portions or get us to the gym to exercise.
Motivation is actually very simple. It’s about being in the moment and making a decision right away about the food in front of us and how much we’ll eat. All the rest is chatter, and it’s very unproductive. Every meal and every day for you is a chance to be one step closer to the goal. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed at the distance you have to go. You get to your goal one meal at a time.
So, forget trying to analyze “why” willpower and motivation are lacking; just make a plan of action. Don’t spend time on self-deprecating thoughts. Just make a decision to eat a good snack or decide right now to go outside and walk or go to the gym.
The best athletes simply follow an exercise plan and hope that the coach has it right so that they will be ready when the final event comes. The student studies one night at a time and hopes he or she has enough knowledge when exam time occurs.
Don’t wait for motivation. Don’t wait for willpower. All you have to do is focus on the meal or snack in front of you at this moment. All you have to do is work on getting one activity session in today. Tomorrow will come and you will take the same action then. Soon enough, one pound at a time, you will achieve your goal. While it’s important to gain insight into our behaviours, try not to complicate the process.
You can do it. Just keep trying one day at a time.