Desperate To Lose Weight But No Willpower? You Might Be Experiencing The Willpower Gap

Created by Elly McGuinness

Last Updated: August 13, 2020

If this sounds like you, then you need to read this guest blog from plant based nutritionist Cath King. I’m excited that Cath wanted to share this blog post today. It’s a really important concept behind long term, sustainable weight loss. I really respect Cath as a holistic nutritionist. She eats a vegan diet herself and cares a lot about animal welfare issues. We actually found ourselves on a 10km walk ‘for the pigs’ a few years back! Read on to find out what this compassionate, intelligent lady has to say to those of you who are desperate to lose weight but no willpower is in sight. – Elly xx

A formula for successful weight loss

Did you know that there’s a secret formula for losing weight successfully? And, not only is this formula effective for weight loss, it’s effective in producing results in any area of your life – career, relationships, sports, personal development – you name it, this formula will get results.

Now, this formula isn’t mine. I didn’t create it. I’m not clever enough to come up with something like this. But I am good at sifting through the brilliant ideas of others and selecting what’s the most helpful in a given situation.

This brilliant idea originally came from Abdu’l-Baha. And it really is the secret formula for success in any endeavor.

The simple formula for success is: knowledge + volition + action = results.

And like most brilliant ideas, it’s actually very simple and logical. If you want results, first you need to learn about the subject matter. But knowledge alone won’t produce results.

The next thing you need is volition, which is the will to make it happen. Volitional weight loss also includes a decision. It’s like grit or determination. You have to want it – really want it.

And once you know what to do, and you are committed to making it happen, the final step is action. (if this is your challenge, remember all journeys start with the first step).

So, if the formula for weight loss is so simple and logical, why do so many people struggle with weight loss?

What part of the formula are people missing? The knowledge? Volitional weight loss? The action? Where is the formula breaking down?

Knowledge can be a problem

Well, the first part of the formula that breaks down for many people is the knowledge. But it’s not as if there’s not plenty of knowledge out there. In fact, that’s part of the problem – sifting through the flood of weight loss information in the public domain to find what will work for you.

And often the information that’s the most visible has reached you more because someone has a really good marketing team rather than because their information is any good. And given the increasing obesity statistics, most of the information out there is NOT good. Otherwise how could there possibly be so many overweight people.

For information on sensible healthy eating, check out this blog category.  If you are desperate to lose weight but no willpower is your problem, keep reading.

The next part of the formula that breaks down is right between volition and action. I’m assuming that you DO really want to lose weight here. In which case, volitional weight loss is not the problem. But somewhere between having the desire to lose weight and taking action, something happens. That something is the Willpower Gap.

What is the willpower gap?

The Willpower Gap is the gap between what we know we should be doing or what we should be eating and what we actually do pick in a given choice scenario. And it doesn’t happen due to lack of volition.

Scientists recently discovered that willpower is an actual “thing”. It’s a unitary power source, in a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, that’s similar to a battery. So when fully charged, we have plenty of willpower and when we do things requiring willpower, it gradually depletes it, until it runs out and we have none (usually right when we most need it). Scientists estimate that we have about 15 minutes of willpower at our disposal.

Do you have times when you simply think “I have no willpower”. If so, read on to find out what puts you in this state.

What depletes the willpower battery?

  • Making choices (Where shall we go on holiday? Which restaurant to go to? What to have for tea tonight?)
  • Regulating emotional responses (Remaining calm while dealing with a demanding customer. Not using bad language in front of your parents/children.)
  • Regulating your performance (Being professional at work. Learning something new.)
  • Dealing with frustrating situations (Running late while stuck in traffic. Dealing with a two year old throwing a tantrum in the supermarket.)
  • Trying to do a good job on a task (Writing a report. Sitting an exam.)

As you can see, we spend most of our day doing things that deplete our willpower.  If you are desperate to lose weight but no willpower seems to be in sight, you are probably beginning to understand why. Next time you think “I have no willpower”, take note of what is going on in your life. What has been adding up and causing you to lose your willpower when it comes to food and/or exercise?

To make matters even worse, the anterior cingulate cortex, like the rest of the brain runs solely on glucose. And when you’re hungry and glucose stores are running low (the precise moment you most need willpower), your willpower refuses to cooperate at all. So if you’ve been wondering how to get the will power to lose weight, hopefully you’re starting to realize why it has been hard for you.

You deserve that muffin right?

Then, when your willpower is depleted, your left hemisphere takes over and creates a story that justifies the behaviour that our survival mechanism (called the motivational triad – maximise pleasure, avoid pain, minimise effort) really wants us to engage in. So we tell ourselves that we’ve done an extra hard work-out and we deserve that latte and muffin; we’ve had a stressful day and we need a chocolate fix; it’s little Bobby’s birthday and just one piece of cake won’t hurt. And what’s more, we believe these tall tales we tell ourselves. In that moment, we’ve fallen prey to the Willpower Gap.

But don’t worry, there is a solution. Contact Cath to learn science-based knowledge about eating to balance your hormones and lose weight. Ask for her report on “Bridging the Willpower Gap” so that you can take action and get the results you want.  If you are desperate to lose weight but no willpower is in sight then get this report to help you take one step further towards your goal.

For more information on how to focus your efforts for weight loss success, take a look at this article. You might also want to know a bit about adopting a sustainable weight loss model.

Do you feel like you’ve got no will power to lose weight? Tell us about your challenges in the box below.

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Elly McGuinness