Willpower and Weight Loss

by | Feb 3, 2019

Before my weight loss clients start working with me, they say:

“I want to feel confident in whatever clothes I choose to wear.”

“I want to feel lighter in my body.”

“I want to feel less strain on my joints when I walk.”

“I want more energy. I’m tired of the dieting rollercoaster.”

They are ready to take action because they’re tired of feeling this way.

However, one of the biggest challenges they tell me they have is lack of willpower.

Over and over, they start strong in their attempt at weight loss. Then, after a few weeks or maybe a month, they stop doing what it was that was helping them lose the weight.

It’s like their willpower just disappeared.

I let them know that willpower is like a muscle. You can hold something heavy with all your might for a period of time. You use all the strength you have. But, eventually your muscles tire out and you can’t hold on anymore.

Similarly, willpower eventually “tires out” when it comes to weight loss. It’s helpful in the beginning, but if that’s all you’re relying on to get you to your goal, you will probably not reach it or maintain your hard-won goal for long.

My weight loss journey turn-around

If you want to start walking around confident in that dress or wearing a swimsuit on vacation, then I recommend you follow the tactic that I teach my weight loss clients. This tactic helped me on my weight loss journey, so of course it is now my duty to teach it to others.

After all, I used to wake up dreading putting on jeans because I felt unhappy with how I looked. Everything was too tight in all the wrong places. Then I uncovered what was missing for me when it comes to weight loss — this tactic changed my ability to lose weight and keep it off.

It started with a pound. Then another pound. Then another 3 pounds. Then 30 pounds later, here I am at my goal weight and I have been here for years.

I’m in the minority. 98% of those who lose weight gain it back. I’m in the 2% and I teach my clients how to be in the 2%, too. I help my clients no longer feel defeated by the weight loss industry.

The tactic to implement before willpower runs out

What I teach them is this — you have to find YOUR compelling reason to lose the weight and take action.

Instead of trying to overcome lack of willpower, you need to create your own motivation. You can’t overcome a lack something (willpower) without creating something new (motivation).

You do that by uncovering your compelling reason to change.

Before you try to make any changes to what you eat, or what you do for movement, or how you take care of yourself, or how you manage your stress — all important things when it comes to weight loss — you have to make sure your reason to change is strong enough.

Your compelling reason to make changes has to be big enough to give you the motivation to get you to your goal.

I have my clients do some work on finding their compelling reason for losing weight. This should be the foundation for any time you want to do something that takes effort. It will keep you on track when your willpower runs out.

How do you know if your reason is strong enough?

Sometimes, clients try to get by with just putting in a teeny-tiny effort to figure out their compelling reason to lose weight. This results in a weak reason — this will be no match for lack of willpower. You’ll go back to your old habits in no time and pretty soon, you’ll be further than ever from your goal.

One way to see if your compelling reason is strong enough and big enough to make up for when willpower runs out is to ask yourself:

“Why haven’t I made any changes yet?”

What you have been doing up to now that is keeping you from achieving your weight loss goal has been MORE compelling than your reason to lose weight.

These more compelling things were actions like using food to distract yourself from feeling stressed/bored/angry/sad, eating beyond the point of fullness, eating lots of sugar to feel better, or not being active on a consistent basis.

Your new reason to change has to be bigger than your old patterns of inaction or taking the wrong actions.

Decide on your commitment

Why change now?

Write it down. In detail. Be very specific.

Why do you want to change?

Who will you be when you get to your goal?

What disease are you preventing or reversing by taking better care of yourself?

What will your life be like once you achieve what you want?

What will be easier to do?

Dig deep

Your commitment to change should be motivating and compelling. It may also be a little scary — and that’s ok. Just dig deep for the courage to evolve to the next version of you.

And don’t fall for that old trap of “I’m too old to change.” I see this with most of my wiser, more mature clients — then they realize they’re never too old to improve themselves. This can be the best time of your life!

All change requires rewiring your brain a little bit. You need to start practicing new ways of thinking, feeling and acting so that your outdated neural pathways are replaced with new and improved ones. Ones that help you get you to your goal.

Above all, be patient with yourself. You deserve to feel how you want to feel and look how you want to look. This takes time and sometimes we forget that.

Just think about what your “6-month-from-now-self” will say to your “now-self” if you take action NOW.

Does this help?

Let me know in the comments or send me a message using the contact form below in the footer. I reply to each and every message and comment I receive.

If you’d like to brainstorm ways to get you to your weight loss goal, we can hop on a free call. Just find a time that is convenient for you by clicking here.

Let’s uncover how to get you where you want to go when your willpower eventually runs out.

Be in the 2%.

-Caitlin Russell MS RDN CLT

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

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  1. Karen

    Thank you. This makes me reflect and makes sense. I feel it may make me more sad to look at my myself. 1 year grieving death of 42 y/o daughter. I couldn’t save her. Trying to find reasons to take care of me. Worth it?- this is probably more than you care to know!

    • Caitlin

      Oh Karen, I’m so so sorry about your daughter. I can’t imagine your grief. I encourage you to find reasons to take care of yourself – this is definitely worth it. The world needs you right now. Thank you so much for sharing Karen. I’m thinking of you.

  2. Samantha Gardner

    Hi – Great Post!

    I was wondering if you know any good workouts for busy mommys hoping to lose fat?

    After seeing a lot of advertisements I’ve been looking at purchasing VShred, but I’m seeing a few negative opinions like https://vshredreview.com/

    I’m worried about wasting money on something too challenging or overpriced.

    Thanks for any help


    • Caitlin

      Hi Samantha,
      Thank you for your comment. Glad you like the post! I have heard mostly good things about VShred. The exercises seem well done and Vince is a respected trainer. So I think you should be good! Maybe try one of their programs and see how you like it. Some of their nutrition advice may go against what I recommend, but their training workouts are good. I hope this helps! Have a great day.


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