No will power? No worries. Lose weight anyway.
If you don’t know me, my name is Vicki. Today I have a confession to make to all of you. I have no will power. If things get too uncomfortable or a problem seems overwhelming, I don’t walk away, I run away. Realizing this about myself was the first step in helping me come up with a plan to achieve one of my numerous unattained goals. I wanted to shed about 40 excess pounds and do it working around the fact that I have no will power.
If you’re like me and can’t seem to turn down those irresistible goodies, this report will help. Why? Because if I can do it, you can too. Why? Because it takes no will power.
My story is probably similar to yours. As the weight started to pile on, I tried a variety of diets, but never could stick with them. I bought books, listened to tapes and scoured the internet for help. Nothing seemed to work. I just didn’t have the will power it took to stick to a diet and, for me, the books and tapes were no help at all.
It wasn’t until I realized that if I ever hoped to regain the lost energy all that excess fat had stolen from me, I had to come up with a plan that would work. And it had to work without any will power involved. If I couldn’t come up with a workable plan I feared I’d end up broke from constantly having to buy my clothes yet one more size larger.
I already knew that my eating habits weren’t helping my cause. You see, I’m a total sugar addict. This didn’t cause any weight problems when I was a teenager, but as I got older, that habit started putting on the pounds. I envisioned myself looking like a beached whale if I didn’t do something about my eating habits and get more exercise. However, I knew myself well enough that if I tried to do everything I should do, I wouldn’t do anything at all. My no will power self required teensy steps. Anything bigger would result in total failure.
I decided to have a go at my sugar addiction first. I’m a coffee drinker and usually drink my coffee with sugar. I like the taste of coffee so I decided I could cut down on the amount of sugar I put in my coffee. I also decided to quit bringing sugary treats home when I went grocery shopping. This helped a lot. If it isn’t available, I’m not going to eat it. No will power involved. However, when I go out for dinner to a friend’s house who serves dessert, I indulge. Can’t resist. No will power.
I also love soda, particularly root beer, and juice. These were other things I quit buying in the store. That step really helped cut back on the sugar fructose and it eliminated a big source of sodium benzoate from my diet. However, if someone offered me a root beer or a glass of juice when I went out, I indulged. This had an added benefit. Because I was used to having a nice cold root beer or glass of juice several times a day, I found myself thirsty for something so I started drinking more water to quench my thirst. I knew I should drink more water, but as long as juice or pop was available, that wasn’t going to happen.
Another thing I did to cut back on the sugar when I ate out was to make sure I ordered a meal big enough that there wasn’t room for dessert after I ate. This ploy never worked when I ate at a pancake house. Watch out strawberry waffle, here I come.
After getting acclimated to my lower sugar intake I decided to increase my intake of fruit and vegetables. I don’t like to eat a salad with every meal. I already tried that unsuccessfully. Besides when I get through dressing up a salad; it’s no longer a healthy option anyway. So, I selected vegetables and fruit that I really enjoyed. However, I couldn’t resist adding lots of marshmallows to my carrot salad. Yum!
I read that food containing high fructose corn syrup is good at making you fat, so I made it a point to get most of my fructose from whole fruit. It has something to do with the fiber in whole fruit that helps prevent the fructose (the type of sugar in fruit) from turning to fat.
I’ve never been a big fat eater except for butter. I love butter, particularly browned butter and there was no way I was going to give that up. Instead, for instance, if I bought corn in season that was juicy and sweet, I discovered I enjoyed it just as much without butter. However, if the corn was starchy, it got butter and lots of it. When I made a sandwich I used mayonnaise and/or mustard instead of butter. I discovered it was just as tasty without butter. It was the little things that required no will power that were making the big difference.
I’m a meat eater and wouldn’t dream of giving up a good steak or juicy hamburger, but instead of buying meat just because it was on sale, I bought grass fed beef, range fed poultry and pork when I cooked at home. It’s more expensive, but I managed to fit it into my budget. Besides, as an added bonus, I discovered that grass fed meat (as well as eggs from free roaming hens) contains that oh so valuable omega 3 fatty acid, which, for me is a good thing because I’m not big on salmon.
As for dairy, I still love and eat as much cheese as I want. To give that up would take way more will power than I will probably ever possess. I do plan on making the switch from regular cheese from my supermarket to organic cheese from grass fed cows. Yeah, it’ll cost me a little more, but I’m worth it. The eggs I buy are from a local farm where the chickens roam around and eat the things chickens enjoy eating. Bugs.
One thing I gave up that also took no will power at all was food containing hydrogenated fat. If the label on a food lists that as an ingredient, it goes back on the shelf. I’ve made some pretty amazing discoveries along the way. For instance, Marie Callender’s white macaroni and cheese contains no hydrogenated fat while Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese does. Now, that’s not to say the cheese used in both these products didn’t come from milk containing hormones and or antibiotics, but to give up macaroni and cheese would require way too much will power. Besides, I logic to myself, I don’t eat it every day or even every week. It’s a once in a while treat.
So far everything I did required no will power and it was working. The pounds started to melt away. I was delighted. I was getting my figure back. Slowly to be sure, but hey at least I realized that beneath all that blubber, the trim me still existed.
Finally, I had to figure out how to avoid binge eating, particularly when there was all that wonderful food right there in front of me for the taking. I have to admit, this was a challenge, but I finally figured a way to avoid the binge, at least most of the time.
For me, binge eating had two components. The first involved TV and snacks. It was amazing to see just how many potato chips, corn chips or my favorite Cheetos could disappear while I watched a good movie. The second was restaurant eating.
The TV snack disappearance act was actually easy to curb. Instead of bringing the whole bag of snacks, I added a portion to a bowl and carried that to my soft cushy easy chair from where I watch TV. By doing this and taking smaller bites of the treats, I found myself able to cut way down on the amount I ate. No will power was involved because I knew I could always add to the bowl if I wanted more, but I found after one bowl, I was usually full.
If I was eating at a restaurant that served portions big enough to feed five loggers, I ate until I was full and made it a point to take the rest home. That removed the guilt of waste that my grandmother had instilled in me at a very young age. On the other hand, if I was faced with a table full of irresistible goodies to choose from, I would take smaller portions on my plate with the idea I could take more if I was still hungry. I would then make it a point of taking smaller portions on my fork or spoon so that I could savor the flavor instead of gulping it down.
I’d heard that you were supposed to chew your food a zillion times before swallowing it. That didn’t work for me, but the idea of actually enjoying the flavor of the food did. Plus, guess what? Say someone served a delicious pie or piece of cake. By taking smaller bites way, when everyone else was done, I’d still be enjoying my share. I found that I could only consume about half the portion I normally would have. The balance went home to be enjoyed later. I felt just plain smug about that.
This whole process of change didn’t happen over night. If I tried to make all the above changes at once, I’d still be eating maple bars for lunch and having a daily latte. Little tiny baby steps over time changed the way I eat and what I eat.
One thing I haven’t changed about my eating that needs to change is breakfast. I don’t eat breakfast and haven’t done so for years. I know the benefits of eating a breakfast, but I’m rarely hungry in the morning. I’ve decided to tackle that next, but haven’t come up with a good no will power plan yet. When I do, I’ll let you know what it is.
Being a research writer, I had a natural curiosity as to what science had to say about folks like you and me. I was curious as to why what I did worked, so I decided to do a little digging and see if I could find out. What follows are my findings that all involve studies in human behavior.
- When I committed to losing weight, I was actually following the rules of a 2002 study by Ariely and Wertenbroch which states that by pre-committing to a goal I increased my chances of success. I implemented several workable strategies to achieve this goal.
- According to a 2000 study by Trope and Fishbach, reward systems work well in supporting self control. I did this by realizing I was enjoying the taste experience more by taking smaller bites and savoring the flavor versus wolfing my food down. In addition, when I saw those first few pounds disappear, I felt very rewarded.
- The same study (Trope and Fishbach) also determined that punishment or the threat of punishment was helpful. I didn’t do this. If I happened to end up with donuts on my kitchen counter, I ate them with no regret, but realizing how much sugar I was consuming by doing so (I guess you could call that a penalty of sorts), I was more determined to leave the sugar at the store.
If you have a secret of your own that is a no will power way of taking off weight and generally improving your health, share so the rest of us can benefit. If it involves exercise, comment on that too because that’s so very important. Admittedly, I suck at the whole exercise thing. If it wasn’t for my little Yorkie demanding to take a walk, my butt would probably fuse to the chair in front of my computer. If you offer a suggestion, remember it has to be for those of us that have no will power. So, none of that “just do it” stuff. That doesn’t work for us.
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