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Diet Mindset – Relying on Willpower Leads to Failure

by | Oct 15, 2020 | Dieting, Mindset

As we discovered in our previous blog on ‘All or Nothing Thinking’, some mindsets are conducive to extreme, and at times, negative thinking. There are certain patterns of thinking which can seem like ‘the right way’ however, are not effective in achieving goals. One of these patterns is associated with Willpower. 

You may see Willpower as essential to dieting and eating healthy, but in fact, this might be leading to your downfall. If you are dieting or trying to control your urge to binge, you will most likely feel as though you are using every ounce of your Willpower. Herein lies the problem! Willpower is a form of emotional energy which becomes depleted very easily. The harder you perceive that you need to use it, the faster it is depleted. This zaps your energy leading to higher levels of stress, fatigue and exhaustion. As a result, you find yourself sabotaging or failing over and over again. Let’s discuss further why a Diet Mindset which relies on Willpower can be destined for failure.

Willpower Leads the Way to Binge Eating

When you rely on Willpower for dieting, any slips can lead to Emotional or Binge Eating due to the depletion of Willpower itself. How does that work? When you draw on your reserves of Willpower, you can actually erode this form of emotional energy with overuse. A study by Baumeister and his colleagues (1996) found that more temptations or the need to use Willpower and self-control results in fatigue, less time devoted to engaging in tasks and lower levels of trying. Basically, it leads to less effort and lower success rates.

Internal conflict, emotional conflict, fatigue and distractions deplete your ability to use the function of Willpower when needed for breaking cycles of unhealthy eating including Food Addiction. Mark Muraven and his team at the University at Albany discovered that people who exert self-control, in order to please others, found their Willpower depleted more easily than people who were more focused on their own desires and internal goals. Therefore, if you follow your authentic goals and values, you are at an advantage when it comes to Willpower.

4 Tips to Change Your Perspective on Willpower

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As you know, there are many steps needed to develop a healthy eating plan, finding a healthy weight and being able to sustain it long-term. Willpower has little to do with being successful.

Here are four (4) tips to start moving your mindset and perspectives away from the Diet Mindset of Willpower and towards success tools and strategies.

Tip #1 – Be an Authentic Goal Setter

It might not be enough to simply set goals. Let’s understand the difference between goals which are authentically yours and those which are influenced by others or even forced on you. Goals which can be described as authentic, generally have less emotional resistance, demand less effort, are aligned with your values and come with fewer temptations. This means that you find them easier to achieve, interesting, meaningful and are more enjoyable, rather than feeling like a chore. It all adds up to a way of reducing distractions and internal conflict.

Tip #2 – Use Your Emotional and Mental Energy Wisely

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Remember that when your physical energy is at its highest, this is when you can expect emotional and mental energy to also be at their peak. It is important that you recognise this, and tap into these reserves of emotional and mental energy, at the right time. For example, if you have a challenging task to undertake, it is best tackled when your physical and mental energy is high. It will allow you to be more focused, productive and efficient. Basically, a difficult task is made easier.

Tip #3 – Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail!

Does your life seem routine or schedule orientated? If it is, that’s actually a good thing. Disorganisation and chaos results in a significant drain on all of your energy systems, leaving you feeling fatigued and stressed. Once you have a good routine and schedule, it elevates drain on your mental and emotional energy. You will notice that making healthier choices are easier and more effortless. In general, you will feel less stressed, happier and healthier.

Tip #4 – All About Balance

While you might like a certain activity or hobby, it might not be healthy to do it too much. Does that sound familiar as it relates to food? Living a happy, meaningful and full life comes down to balance. A well-balanced life means that you are putting ample time aside for optimal self-care and nourishment, good quality relationships, pursuing meaningful goals and having fun. Research shows that people who live a balanced and enriching life generally have a healthy relationship with food, their bodies, exercise and themselves. Therefore, they are less likely to have any form of Eating Disorder, Weight Issues or suffer with Binge Eating, Emotional Eating or Food Addiction.

Hopefully, you can now see why you may not have been successful or what has been sabotaging you, for some time. Change your approach and mindsets and you change your results.

Do you have any questions on developing a mindset for success? Or perhaps you would like to learn more about how our online programs can help with a positive shift in your mindsets and behaviours?

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