Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Motivation, Discipline, and Willpower

On Sunday’s post a good friend commented:
“I wish I had your motivation and discipline!” Also, many times I hear people say “I wish I had your willpower” or “I haven’t got the willpower….”

Is “willpower” some magical entity that G-d has blessed me with? Hardly. For over fifty years I also put on weight nearly non-stop. And sometimes I wondered to myself:
“WHAT can I do to get the willpower I need?”
“WHY am I unable to stick to a diet?”

Today I think I know the answer.
It is not a matter of willpower.
Changing our lives involve motivation.
The question of course is, how do we get/stay motivated?

I think that the big factor in continued motivation is learning not to lie to ourselves. I am writing here in regards to weight loss, but this would apply equally so to any area we want to change, whether it be stopping smoking, not spending hours on the computer, or anything else.
My original motivation to really work on losing weight came due to the leg and knee pains that 80 extra kilos were causing. The pain was continual, and thus hard to ignore. That is pretty good motivation. In addition, the regular wish like any woman to look good and feel good, to be viewed as “worthwhile” by others factored in.
But comes the day that you “forget” the pain, “forget” the desire to be thin, or to conveniently ignore it. When a luscious piece of chocolate cake is set on the table before you at some celebration, we so often eat without seemingly thinking.
I suspect that what we really do in such cases is that we lie to ourselves (chose any that apply):
-Just this piece won’t count…
-I am losing so much, I feel so good, I am getting compliments, so I am doing GREAT (even if I eat the cake).
-I will have just half a piece and stop. (This may be true and sometimes allowed, but it may be an outright fib. YOU know….)
-For supper I’ll eat only 150 calories (or tomorrow I will eat 400 calories less). (Again, this MAY be true, but more often it is not….)

In order to stay motivated, we need to be on the lookout for these self-deceptions. Let me give you an example:
Last week was a two-day holiday here, followed by the Sabbath. That meant three straight days with a total of at least six-seven festive meals. And probably cake mid-morning. I made a conscious choice that I was not aiming to lose this last week, that I would allow myself a BIT extra. But I intended to keep that “bit” a definite small amount. Enough to enjoy the holiday and have a few treats without doing too much damage. I intended to keep track of my intake and be sure to stay within a 2000 calorie per day limit, so that hopefully I would just not loose, but NOT gain.
However, on the holiday I did overeat more than I originally intended to, probably because I did NOT count the calories. I lied to myself. How?
I took the premise “I can have a bit extra and not gain”, but I ignored my plan to implement safeguards. That was self-deception. I see it now, and thus I need to plan active measures not to repeat it again as other holidays occur this month.
Yesterday morning I almost didn’t weigh myself (I usually weigh myself on Mondays), but I caught the unsaid lie:
- If I don’t weigh myself, I can ignore the weight gain that surely occurred.
So I went to the scales to face the truth. Because only by being honest with myself can I make honest choices.

I have to be honest enough when I reach for something not on my eating plan, that I am choosing overweight, pain, and tiredness.
And when I stick to my plan, I am choosing weight loss, good looks, less pain, more vitality, health, and a strengthening of my spiritual “I can say ‘No’ muscles.”

Put that way, it is not that hard to choose the healthier way.


MichelleTwinMum said...

Visiting from Jens blog gems. Well done you for choosing to lose weight. I need to kick myself into gear and do the same.

Mich x

Risa Tzohar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Risa Tzohar said...

This is so so true. Exercising those "I will NOT" muscles are so difficult! With dieting it is complicated by the fact that you can't just swear off eating. You are challenged every day. It is inspiring to read about your progress!

rickismom said...

Yes, it IS harder stopping overeating than, say, stopping smoking, because you can't swear off everything. (One COULD theoretically swear off certain high calorie foods---like peanut butter candy----and often I think that this is useful, especially in the beginning. Later on, I feel that one CAN allow OCCAISIONAL SSSMMMAAALLLLLL amounts of high calorie foods to be worked into an eating plasn.) However, for example, when I made peanut butter candy for "Y" for shabbas, I quickly realized that it's "call" was too great, and asked the kids store it away from my sight. This is where the HONESTY came in. I did not lie and tell myself that I will resist it when Thursday evening showed me that I was losing the battle. And the key to overcoming any bad habit is the honesty.

Meta/roses. said...

Thank you for the reminder that motivation is a big part of willpower as well. I keep forgetting as to why I need to lose weight. Sounds silly, but it is true.