Don't Depend on Will Power for Weight Loss Success

VegetablesWhen it comes to losing weight don’t rely on your will power.
Will power is a limited resource, and it’s easily eroded by stress, fatigue, anxiety, happiness, or pretty much any emotion or situation.  It wavers when someone offers you a piece of chocolate, and admits defeat at the smell of fresh baked pie.  It may put up a good fight at breakfast time; after all, most people find it relatively easy to say no to chocolate cake at 7am.  But even on a good day, it’s usually gone by 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  It leaves you vulnerable to the breadbasket at dinner, the handfuls of cereal after supper, or the chips after the kids are in bed.
So if you can’t rely on will power, what does work?   Use three simple and powerful techniques and watch the pounds drop!
1. Meal Planning.
Meal planning takes time and it takes effort, but if you want to be successful (and I’m assuming you do!) then it’s must.  If you wait until you are ravenous to decide what you are going to eat, or until you smell the fresh bread at the restaurant, you’ll be relying on will power alone to make the right decision.  Here are some examples of planning ahead:
-If you are going out for dinner, research the menu online and pick what you are going to eat ahead of time
-Eat a small, protein rich meal before going to a party so you can stick to the veggies and healthier choices
-Know what you are going to make for dinner that night (or have dinner ready to go in the crock pot)
-If someone else is in charge of preparing meals, plan how much food you will eat, and have some input into what kinds of foods are made
-Pack your lunch and stick to the food you bring
2. Change your environment.
If you love chocolate chip cookies, don’t keep a plate of freshly baked cookies beside you.  Sound simple?  It is.  Changing your environment gives you fewer opportunities to be tempted by ‘off limits’ foods.  Here are some ways to change your environment:
-If you are tempted to stop for a coffee (and apple fritter) each morning, change your driving route and make your coffee at home
-Purge your pantry, fridge and freezer of all off limit foods.  Don’t simply stick it in the freezer; frozen cookies, candies, and other snacks still taste good and you know it!  If throwing food away won’t sit well with the rest of your family, keep all the goods in a cupboard far, far away (preferably one that is taped shut with duct tape and only accessible by the step ladder that is stored outside in the shed)
-Stock your fridge and pantry full of healthy snacks so that it’s easier to make the healthy choice (carrot sticks are way easier than breaking into the off limits cupboard!)
-Make temptations inconvenient.  For example, ask your coworkers to move the candy jar further away from you.  Even a few steps away can make a huge difference in the dent you’ll make! 
3. Create simple, specific rules.
Have you ever heard that you should enjoy treats in moderation or you will end up overindulging?  It sounds great in theory; but for most people it doesn’t work at all.  Instead, create food ‘rules’ that you can stick to.  Having clear rules removes the discomfort of needing to make decisions on food choices multiple times per day. ‘I shouldn’t have it, but it would be so good… maybe just this one time… I’ll start again tomorrow’.   Successful ‘rules’ need to be specific.  Once you know your rules, adopt a ‘Just Say No!’ mentality.  Some examples are:
Close the kitchen after 7pm with the exception of above-ground vegetables
-Serve your dinner on a plate and then get put the rest of the food away before you eat
-Only eat food from a plate or bowl (nothing straight from the tub or the container!)
-Enjoy 5 bites of dessert when it’s a special occasion and a very special dessert
-Enjoy 2 drinks per week
-Have protein every time I eat unless I’m snacking on raw, above-ground veggies
When it comes to weight loss, it takes more than will power to be successful. To stick to your plan, you must plan your meals, change your environment and create simple, specific rules to follow.
Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Inc., a private training studio.  Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals work to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  For more fitness tips go to

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