Why Will Power Isn’t Enough
So you’ve been trying to lose weight. You’ve made changes, you’re eating healthier, you’re even going for an occasional walk. Then for whatever reason (it’s raining…..I have to cook this food for the family…..it’s my birthday, I need treats…) you stop, and you go back to old habits and sabotage your own success. Sound familiar?
Yes, that was me too, so here’s what I’ve learned over the 25 years of my crazy weight loss, weight gain, weight loss journey.
Why is it that will power is not enough?
It all comes down to your brain and here’s the simplest way I can describe it. Will power is the voice of your conscious mind, which governs around 10% of your daily functioning. The other 90% is governed by your subconscious mind and makes the bulk of your daily choices.
The reality is your subconscious holds some sort of contradictory intention for you.
To put it simply: ‘you’ (will power / conscious mind) want something and ‘it’ (subconscious) doesn’t. Looking at those numbers, who do you think most often wins?
You may have set a new years resolution that this is going to be your best year yet! New year, new me! I’m finally going to shift those pounds and get that body I’ve longed for. You’ve set that awesome intention with your conscious mind. Your subconscious mind, for what ever reason, says something different. It could be something like:
- ‘No matter what you do, it’s just easier to eat crap food and stay the same’.
- OR (and this is a big one) ‘Who do you think you are to lose weight, look good and feel good? You’re not worth it. Go on….eat the cake….you know you like it….that cake makes you feeeeel goooooooood’.
As a result, there’s no agreement between your conscious and subconscious and they either cancel each other out – so NOTHING happens and you stay as your are – or worse case scenario, your subconscious has the biggest voice and ultimately wins.
Conflict like this is often called a self limiting belief. Your will power is simply not strong enough to fight this and you end up going back to old habits and in some cases, gain even more weight! Sound familiar?
The term we use for this is ‘Psychological Reversal’, meaning the difference between what we consciously want (will power and the conscious mind) and what we actually do or allow ourselves to experience (subconscious programming). All self sabotage is the result of Psychological Reversal and chances are if you’ve uttered the words ‘I’m my own worst enemy’ or you’re a serial yo-yo dieter, you’re simply going through this process over and over again.
SO: how do we beat it?
The only long term solution is to basically re-train the subconscious mind with different programming as this is what will drive the bulk of your daily choices and behaviours, when will power gives up.
Programming happens through repeated messaging, creating neural pathways in the brain that help make those split second decisions to eat the cake or not. Chances are if you’ve been in environments in your life where you’ve been told repeatedly that you’re a failure or that you’re not good enough, those are the programmes stored in your subconscious that are smashing your will power right now. By creating new positive programmes, you end up making better decisions. It takes a little bit of time, but it truly is that simple.
3 tricks that have worked for me:
- Daily phone reminders that ‘every day in every way, I make healthy choices that serve my body’. I read these aloud as a reminder.
- Affirmations: I have some created amazing affirmations that have worked to transform a number of areas of peoples lives, from weight loss to health, confidence, overcoming grief and so much more! As I was trained in a style of language called ‘Conscious Communications’ which utilises psychologically strategic language placement and trigger words, these affirmations work on a very deep level. Whether weight loss or finding a new lover is your end goal, I can help!
- Support and accountability: Over the years of my weight loss journey, I learned that having at least one safe person to be able to confide in, particularly when that subconscious voice was really loud, was great. I also learned to honestly journal my progress so I became accountable for my actions and my results. This includes writing a daily food diary. When you write stuff down, you can’t hide from it right? Similarly, you can’t hide from the person you look at in the mirror so if you want to be able to look at that person and smile, let’s talk.