Screw Willpower; Call on your C.I.A. Instead!

When it comes to dieting or being consistent with healthy eating/exercise, most of us think that willpower is the way to stay on track, avoid temptation and keep going strong. But here’s what we don’t know about willpower; it  doesn’t go very far and it wanes very quickly.

In fact, I say, “Screw willpower.” (Excuse my bluntness)

Willpower is one of those things…we think if we have it and engage it, we can stay on track with our diet, exercise, not eating crap, whatever, but the truth is, willpower tends to be a precursor to “failing.” It doesn’t stick around long and it’s very fleeting. Stay with me here.

Yes, the dictionary does describe willpower as the ability to control yourself; strong determination that allows you to do something different. Yet, how many times have you told yourself, “I’m going to be strong and not eat the whole pint of ice cream, or half a bag of cookies, or a whole bag of chips?” Or, you diet, you do well, lose weight and then gain it all back, and more.  Or you eat healthy for a month, then you slip up once, so you throw it all out the window and you feel icky about yourself?

And what happens? Willpower fails you! Or, more accurately, your sabotaging, unaddressed behaviors fail you. You rest on the laurels of your “strength,” yet you haven’t looked at WHY you make the choices you do, what leads you to even needing willpower and how your inner belief system is really running the show. Willpower is NOT enough OR something to rely on when it comes to food, especially.

What you really need is the CIA: Commitment, Intention & Action!

Most of us have values in our life, especially when it comes to being healthy. I’ve never, and I don’t use that word lightly, come across anyone who has told me they don’t care about their health. So, it’s important to know your values when it comes to your health and wellness.

Are you committed to being the healthiest you can be? Are you committed to only eating good food? Are you committed to taking impeccable care of yourself? Are you committed to treat your body with respect? And, can you forgive yourself and not beat yourself up when you make a so-called “bad” food choice? Being committed to your values will keep you on track. Writing down your values and posting them where you can see them will support you in going toward them, because the truth is, I know from my own experience how crappy it feels to be out of integrity with my values.

Intention is super important. What do you intend when you go to a party?  Or when it comes to eating over the holidays? Focus on the positive, not the negative. Setting a clear, positive intention will help. It’s very similar to setting goals. For example, when I go to a party where I know there will be a table full of yummy, tempting food, I set an intention to connect with at least one person, and ask them about their life/day. Or I set an intention to only have a bite of dessert and know that’s enough. This gives me a focus, and guides me toward my values of CONNECTION & VITALITY, versus away from them and toward the dessert table. I really don’t want the dessert, but sometimes being uncomfortable can lead me there.

Taking Action is the most important thing here. Because remember, you are the ONLY one who has a choice about what you put in your body. This is not willpower, this is choice. There is a consequence to every choice, whether it’s “good” or “bad.” So you get to decide for yourself if you want to put bad food in your body, overeat, drink too much, and so on. Taking a contrary action, or doing something different than you normally would will start to make new brain grooves and shift your old behaviors over time. That’s why “they” say, it takes at least 32 days to break a habit. Why? Because you have to create NEW belief patterns and lessen the grip the old ones have. And this takes consistent action.

So, take 10 minutes and write out your values around health. Then make a plan that includes engaging the C.I.A. And if you get off track, it doesn’t mean you failed, it means your brain is resisting change. So, get right back on the horse and keep on riding right toward your values, not away from them. Because remember, consistency with your commitment, Intention and Action will bring you long-lasting results. Oh yea, and forgive yourself along the way. I’m pretty sure that will feel a whole lot better than telling yourself you’re a failure!

Sending you massive love and hugs for a beautiful holiday season!


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  • Lisa Carr

    Melissa: My theme for this upcoming year, and for NOW….is food sobriety. Living MORE, weighing less both physically and emotionally. Thank you for this wonderful post. :))
    Lisa Carr

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