December 2nd, 2009
A client arrives at our session late and the first thing they say to me is… “Promise you won’t get mad,” and my response to them is “why would I get mad?”
“I have no willpower – I just couldn’t stop myself, and I ate the whole box of chocolates,” they say.
And I say, “Willpower is an overrated concept and not worth the energy it takes to practice.”
“Let me explain…”
Whenever I hear of anyone trying to use willpower to control what they eat, what comes to mind is a person tethered by a chain. And in front of them is a banquet table – just out of reach – covered and overflowing with food. They can see all of the colors, shapes and sizes of all of the different foods on the banquet table. They can smell the bouquet of flavors rising up from the table and dancing within inches of their nose, and they want to, need to, and just can’t wait to feast upon all that this wonderful food has to offer.
And so they pull – pull on that chain (willpower), and pull and pull and pull…
Until eventually the chain breaks.
And that person, uncontrollably and without thinking devourers everything and anything on that banquet table, eating so fast and practically without chewing that that person’s stomach cannot signal its brain fast-enough that it’s getting full. And so that person eats and eats and eats…
Once they were able to break free, that person did not have enough “willpower” or enough self-control to prevent them from eating everything and anything on that banquet table.
But, they did have one thing – the one thing that we all have: Choice.
- The Choice to taste (portion control), instead of eat everything in front of us.
- The Choice to eat some things (healthy) and not others (not as healthy).
- The Choice to improve our relationship to food and to try to understand why we eat what we eat and that our ability to use willpower and self-control to control what we eat is limited.
- The Choice to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as, exercise, stress reduction and social interactions with friends and family in order to improve our overall health and wellbeing, and steel our defenses against unhealthy food and life choices.
- The Choice to think about the consequences of our actions before we act.
“So the next time you have the desire to eat chocolate: stop, think, and remember that you have a choice.”
- You can choose to eat the entire box of chocolates and then deal with the consequences: guilt, shame, weight gain, and the wrath of your trainer.
- You can choose to share your box of chocolates with friends and loved ones, making it a more enjoyable and stimulating social moment.
- You can choose to only have one piece of chocolate and save the rest for another day.
- Or you can choose to have none at all, and instead choose a healthier, nutritious and delicious alternative.
Instead of relying on willpower and self-control – STOP! Think, and explore your choices, because…
Choice – puts you in charge.