24 Jun Willpower is Crap. Here’s Why
My “willpower”, well, sucks. On more than one (hundred) occasion(s) I have found myself standing in front of the fridge, or a bag of potato chips or a box of cookies (insert your “fix” of choice here) not only not knowing how I GOT there, but not being able to walk away. The magnetic pull was too strong and my willpower was too weak. It took me years of work and struggle to overcome this and I learned on the way that willpower is NOT the answer. What is? Read on…
I learned (through some work with OA) that what I had was not only a compulsive order to eat (often what I was actually eating were my emotions, but that’s another blog for another time..) but that I had (have) an “allergy” of the body and obsession of the mind. THIS is what obliterated my willpower to basically, well, nothing.
This lead to my obsession of the mind. You know, that crazy chatter you hear when you actually manage to only take a handful of potato chips and then put the bag away, only to have the bag continue to yell “EAT ME!!!” for what seems an eternity until you actually give in and DO it. Obsession…. not just a Calvin Klein cologne, but a real issue when it came to my eating, over eating and especially emotional eating. When I had this epiphany, I got mad and then I got determined to get to the bottom of it.
I was promised that there was a better way to live (and I pretty much had had enough and wanted off the cycle of crazy food insanity) so I set out for more info.
Allergy of the Body
Believe it or not, there is a common thought that our overeating of certain foods is actually caused by a type of a chemical reaction. OA calls this an “allergy” but it’s not like eating a peanut and going into shock kind of thing. It’s more like, you eat a certain food and it triggers you to simply NOT be able to stop. It’s like the chip commercial- bet you can’t eat just one. Worse yet, there is almost NOTHING you can do to stop this. There is no amount of willpower in the world that can make you quit if you have this kind of reaction. It takes something different.
The first thing I needed to do was figure out my “trigger” foods. Doing this was pretty easy. I just paid attention for about a week to what I was eating and what I had a hard time resisting. Then I made a list of “green light” foods (those I had no problem enjoying and putting down- like broccoli. Next came the “red light” foods (those I could not NOT stop eating- like chips and cookies) and last were my “yellow light” foods- those I was on the fence about. Once identified, I was asked to make a commitment to not eat the red and yellow light foods for a period of time (I agreed to 30 days) and see how I felt.
Obsession of the Mind
Day 1 was easy. I was DETERMINED. I had a PLAN. I was gonna DO this, and I did, with ease. This ease actually lasted about a week and then that little voice in my head started chiming in. Only this time, I knew what it actually was and was prepared for it. That little voice was my obsession. It came from somewhere deep inside and didn’t truly represent who I was (am) and what I wanted for myself. The voice was a “representative” of old fears, current fears, old beliefs, and worry. It was the voice that wanted to stay in a comfortable place and was the voice that said “just eat the damn chips already- you’ll feel better!”
But I knew better. The voice wasn’t really real.. but it sure FELT real! Throughout my whole life, I listened to that voice without a second thought. I let it ruin so many things by letting it shout loudly at me, control my eating, control my emotions, etc. This time, I put up a fight.
Thank God no one can get inside your head, because any bystander who was with me for that month would have thought I was ready for the loony bin. I had “conversations” with that voice. My experience had taught me to simply acknowledged the voice for what it was, thank it for it’s contribution and then do what I rationally and logically needed to do. THAT is NOT willpower. THAT is making a conscious decision to stick to your “plan” acknowledging the part of you that wants to do different (eat) and then makes the right choice. It’s not resisting the food, it’s acknowledging it for what it really is, and more importantly what it is not.
My Journey to Success
30 days seemed so easy when I started. So many of us start with good intentions and then a week or so into it, quit because of the sabotage we experience with that “little voice.” I was given the most amazing piece of advice to overcome that sabotage. It completely changed my life and I’m going to share it with you: take it one moment, one conversation with yourself, one bite at a time. STAY PRESENT.
Beating yourself up for yesterday or even 5 minutes ago serves no purpose. Looking into the future is futile. The only thing you really can do to truly overcome the allergy/obsession hamster-wheel cycle is to breathe, know you have this and take it one moment at a time- in the present.
No, it’s not “easy” and as I said above, there were times I felt kind of crazy having the conversations with myself. But you know what? IT WORKS. And it works even better when you have friends to call on who can help. OA was fantastic for that. So were my friends. I got open and honest and asked for accountability partners and my friends were more than happy to oblige. To this day, I call on them when I have a moment of weakness or feel emotional and want to stuff my face with my trigger foods. When I’m done talking with them, having stayed in the moment, laughed and talked, my desire for the food has passed.
Why does this happen? Because when it comes down to it, I really wanted the food to make me feel better. I needed to care for myself and I was looking for a (cookie, chip, etc) to do that for me. Absurd, right? How could a cookie give me the love and attention I needed? It can’t. But we sure give it that strength, don’t we? So I picked up the phone instead. I got vulnerable and CONNECTED and I got the “fix” that I really needed- which was taking care of me. I just chose to do it through human interaction rather than giving the food the power. Make sense?
WHAT YOU MUST AVOID
Trigger foods are real. They put you into a tailspin. Trigger foods are no different than alcohol to an alcoholic. For this reason, it’s critically important to stay away from them because they will cause you to be irrational, to make bad decisions and sabotage yourself. Trigger foods are basically fuel for that little voice inside your head. So… every time you get your “fix” you do nothing but make that voice bigger and bigger and your chances to let your rational mind rule smaller and smaller.
Don’t believe me? Think of one food you believe you can’t live without. Got it in your head? Now ask yourself, WHO in your head is in control of that thought? Rationally you know full well you could survive without, say, chocolate, but emotionally you WANT the chocolate. So I challenge you… WHO really want’s the chocolate? It’s not you… it’s that little old voice inside your head that wants the fix.
So you have a choice- do you feed the voice and suffer the consequences, or do you finally take control and start making the other, rational voice stronger? The choice is yours.
5 Simple Steps to Begin
- Make the decision to do things differently and make a commitment to yourself to get strong.
- Come to terms that willpower is NOT the answer, but getting control of your thoughts IS.
- Make your trigger food list and commit to not eating those foods for 30 days.
- Get some support and some help. Get an accountability partner who can really help you. You can find them in your Health Coach, a friend who has also struggled or check out the OA website.**
- Stay in the moment & remain present, knowing it takes one step at a time.
I can promise you that if you take a new look at how you think, learn to lean into what you’re really feeling and take care of yourself by getting your “fixes” from things other than food, you can combat this. It’s not easy per se, but it is completely and totally doable. I’m living proof.
I’ve learned what I need to stay away from, I’ve harnessed an amazing tribe of friends and learned more about myself in the process than I could have ever imagined. The best part of all is that little voice in my head is now VERY SMALL. I don’t think she’ll every go away forever, lol, but she is now quiet and knows her place- and it is NOT in front of the fridge or buried in a bag of chips.
One day, one moment, one bite at a time. You got this.
TOOLS & REFERENCES:
I got started by simply listening to recorded OA live streams and found them SO helpful. They were recorded so I could listen whenever, and what I heard there was awesome. To listen yourself simply dial (712) 432-5203 when prompted, enter conference ID number 876148. Calls are about an hour long and are recorded. Listening in on LIVE meetings is also awesome.
Live meetings are 1 hour long (that’s recorded) and then there’s a second hour that’s not recorded for questions and answers. You can also get the phone numbers of people who you can bring in as part of your support network and you can also get a sponsor if you decide to move forward. These people on these calls ROCK. I mean, wow. They’re amazing. That number is (712) 432-5210 and the passcode is the same 876148.
For more OA info, check out their website: www.avision4you.info
Health Coaches can also be another great resource. Call on yours for any questions, and if you don’t have one and want one, check out https://www.tsfl.com/how_it_works/personal_health_coach.jsp
Check out Stacey’s Lean & Green Meal Making Systems- Make AMAZING Lean and Green meals, with little to no effort!
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