Willpower.  Merriam-Webster defines willpower as: the ability to control yourself : strong determination that allows you to do something difficult.  Sometimes, my willpower sucks!

Lately it’s been writing this blog.  Writing is hard, and I’m definitely not the most creative person.  Not that this blog is really about being creative, but I do want you to be engaged enough to avoid dozing off . . . or signing off.  After much procrastination (and the way-too-much-fun reading distraction), here goes.

This scary obesity epidemic is not breaking news, and you may have read that the “low fat” years of the 80’s and 90’s started this whole crisis. What we thought was healthy was the exact opposite. CRAP! They replaced the fat with sugar and that seems to be what’s causing havoc on our systems. If we look at willpower and habits from a different perpective, maybe the reason so many people are over-fat (yes – “over-fat”, not “over-weight”) will make sense.
Merida (from Brave)Let’s use Merida from Brave versus Peter Griffin (from The Family Guy)Peter Griffin from Family Guy as our genetic and lifestyle examples.   Side note: I’ve never seen the Disney movie or the television show.

Merida looks fit, thin, and could probably run a marathon.  Peter, on the other hand, appears overweight, and probably prefers more sitting activities.

Merida’s day involves, archery, walking, running, and eating whole foods that she grows or kills.  Peter probably gets tired mowing the lawn, and when he sits down to rest, grabs a diet coke or beer and bag of low fat Cheetos.

Their daily habits are different.  Now is the time to put on your thinking cap.  What came first the chicken or the egg?  

Did Peter’s circumference increase because he ate too much and was incredibly lazy, or because his darn insulin hormones went on progressive overtime.  The low fat food he thought was helping him stay trim . . . or  counterbalance the beer he was drinking (a tip my husband gave me about Peter’s character) was actually sabotaging his health.  Okay, the beer just made it a bigger problem.   His fat cells whispered – “come on in, the more the merrier” and his muscles cells yelled – “no room at the inn”!  So where is a poor sugar molecule to go? Peters genetics combined with his long term food . . . and drink choices started the increasing waistline; but the increase in waistline raised his hunger and decreased his desire to move.  Even if Peter exercised, it would make him crave carbohydrates, and so it goes.  His fat cells got larger and get this – they even replicated and made MORE fat cells!

Well that is really depressing news.  BUT wait, that’s where willpower and habit comes in.  Once we get to the point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired, we’re on it.  On Monday we join the gym, eat a salad,  then another, and another.  By Wednesday, we wake up starving.  Forget the gym and those bagels are way easier.  Defeat.  Again.  This sucks!  We beat ourselves up because we don’t have enough willpower.

Think really small.

What if you just focused on one small change like eating slowly (15-20 minutes) to 80% full.  What if you did this for just one meal over the next month.  What if, by eating slowly, you reduced your calorie intake each day.  What if, by eating slowly, you notice you feel better.  Then, since you feel better, you decide to take a walk or run.  Willpower becomes a little easier.  The habit starts to form (Habits-Rewards), the body starts to respond, and then the “snow-ball effect” gets rolling.

We’ve all been given a different set of genes, a different personality type (The Four Tendencies), and a different dietary upbringing.  That’s just the way it is; but your past should not be an excuse.  Start where you are.  Start small.  Start now.

Until next time, be ageless!