Let me tell you what I mean when I say “willpower is for fat people”.
100 million Americans are on a diet right now.1 If you’re one of them, you spend part of every day telling yourself “No”.
- No, you may not have a second helping.
- No, you can’t have that on your diet.
- No, you aren’t allowed to eat that.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been told what I’m “allowed” to eat since I was about eight, and I’m not about to go back to that without a really good reason. And I don’t mean, “My new diet is totally going to work. This time for sure.”
The problem with that is that study after study keeps reaching the same conclusion …
Diets. Don’t. Work.
98% of people who go on a diet to lose weight eventually fall off that diet, and when they do they gain back all the weight they lost … plus more.
That’s right, 98 million people just waiting for the day they get to feel like a failure. Again.
Some people hearing those numbers — probably people dieting for the first time, who don’t know any better yet — will think to themselves, “Gosh, only 98%? That means there’s still hope! I’m special. I’ve got willpower. I’ll be part of the 2% that stick with it!”
Good luck with that.
If we had half the willpower we like to think we do we’d all stop watching “reality TV” and Jersey Shore would be cancelled by the end of the week.
Let’s just say I don’t believe any plan that requires a sudden change in human nature.
Besides, think about what it means that your diet requires willpower. It means you don’t really like what you’re supposed to be eating, and you miss all the stuff you can’t have any more. That’s no way to live.
So if it doesn’t make sense to use willpower, what should you use?
Millions of years of evolution have given us this ridiculously large brain we all carry around. How about we use a little brainpower to think about …
- What do I like to eat?
- That’s satisfying, so I don’t find myself standing in front of the fridge every two hours …
- And that won’t make me fat?
Then, just eat mostly that all the time, and never think of yourself as being “on a diet”. You can’t fall off a diet if you’re not on one.
But go ahead, prove to yourself that you’ve got willpower if you think it makes you a better person. Count calories. Weigh all your food. Be hungry all the time. And most likely still gain weight in the end.
Or … use a little brainpower, focus on all the great stuff you should be eating. Stuff like real food at normal meal times, instead of grazing on rice cakes and energy bars all day. And fix your weight without ever feeling deprived.
So which would you rather have?
Willpower? Hunger? Weight gain?
Or brainpower? Health? Happiness?
I’ve got to tell you, brainpower sounds like the better deal.
Willpower? That’s for fat people.