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The Full Mind Weigh™ to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!

The Willpower Myth

Often, when we think about weight management what immediately comes to mind is the idea of willpower – but “I have to have willpower” or “I just don’t have the willpower” are the kinds of thoughts that trip us up as we strive to create healthier lifestyles. There’s a lot more to it than willpower, and if we would only look back at our lives we would probably see that we have ample amounts of the six essential character qualities that are needed to sustain a lifelong weight management journey.

1. Patience

Losing weight takes time, especially if we have a lot of weight to lose. This is a marathon, not a sprint to the finish line. So think back – what else have you accomplished that required patience? For example, did you ever plant a garden, make a complicated recipe, complete a craft project, heal from an illness or from surgery, wait for a baby to be born, complete an educational program? What else have you ever done that required you to simply take one day at a time and simply focus on what you needed to do that day? What else have you ever done that required you to simply put one foot in front of the other (literally or figuratively) and just keep moving forward? For true transformation we have to give up the idea of a quick fix and focus on fundamental change, and that takes time because new habits need time to take root within us.

2. Sacrifice

For permanent weight loss maintenance we have to be willing to give up some things that we might want. We may not have to give up our favorite foods if we can learn to be satisfied with small amounts. If not, we may have to give them up. We may have to give up certain activities in order to have time to exercise. But instead of focusing on what we are giving up, we need to focus on what we are gaining – improved health, more energy, increased longevity, the ability to be a healthy role model for those around us, for some of us improved self-esteem… Most of us have plenty of experience with sacrificing something for a higher purpose. Think back on your life. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of examples. When were the other times in your life when you sacrificed something in order to pursue an important goal?

3. Planning

It’s been said many times – failing to plan is planning to fail. Successful lifelong weight management requires us to plan – to plan what we are going to eat (as opposed to what we are not going to eat), to take time to prepare our meals, to carry healthy foods with us, and so on. Think back. When were the other times in your life that you cared enough about a goal or outcome to engage in some advance planning – was it about a project that was important to you, even a family gathering or a vacation? Think back and you’ll find plenty of examples that demonstrate that you, yes you, are an excellent planner.

4. Vision

Having a vision of our future as a healthier person pushes us past the notion of a diet as something that we eventually “get off of”. Permanent success requires us to see this as a permanent lifestyle change. Seeing this as a life change versus a temporary process allows us to move beyond simply following the program, whatever it might be. Instead, we incorporate wellness into every aspect of our lives.

5. Consistency

For permanent success we have to be consistent. We have to eat healthily and exercise on a consistent basis. Think back. What else have you ever done that required you to be consistent? For example, you show up at work at a consistent time, you get your kids to school at a consistent time…Yes, you have the capacity to be consistent.

6. Perseverance

No matter what your goal is, whether it’s healthy lifelong weight management, finding a job you love, saving for something that’s important to you, finding the right life partner…you’re going to need perseverance to get through the difficult times when you feel discouraged and you’re tempted to give up. There will be times when you experience disappointment, when you face obstacles and challenges along the way. Think back on your life. When were the other times that you persisted with your goal, your dream or your passion despite challenges, disappointments and obstacles? When were the other times that you persevered no matter what life threw at you?

Please share your thoughts about these ideas with me and with other readers by commenting on this blog – we’d love to hear from you!

To learn more about effective weight management strategies, join my next weight management class, The Full Mind Weigh™ to Lifelong Weight Management. For details, check my website:

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With your continued health in mind,

Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.

Director, The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management

Creator, The Full Mind Weigh™ to Lifelong Weight Management

The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh™ is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.