Wednesday, June 21, 2006

We don't need no stinking willpower

Thanks for your recent comments [the Shrinking Knitter loves comments! And e-mails! As long as they're not that nasty old spam!]. Esther commented on my posture while sitting on the ball. For short folks like me, good posture is one way to feel taller, even if we don't look or can't grow taller. [How many of you short, fat people have said you weren't overweight, you were undertall?] She also said I 'inspired' her, and that she wished she had my willpower. In the interest of further inspiration and utter honesty, I want to state clearly, here and now, that the one thing I don't have is willpower.

What I do have:
  • a plan
  • patience
  • motivation
  • committment
  • accountability
What I don't have:
  • rationalization
  • justifcation
  • excuses
Who gets the credit for this? Well, I've been a member of a 12-step recovery group for more than 15 years, and while you may scoff at the idea of a group of people sitting around applauding each other for not drinking, the principles therein are rock-solid. As we say in meetings, "It works, if you work it."

That means, for me, I have to take some defined, precise action in order to get the results I want. [It helps to have an idea of what kind of result you want first. Just not drinking wasn't enough for me – I had to also be happy about it.] It was simple enough 15 years ago to put down the bottle and stop drinking. A few years later I put down cigarettes and stopped smoking. Stopping is simple.

Staying stopped? Not so much.

You and I both know that for all the people who have maintained a significant weight loss, many more simply can't, don't or won't keep it off.

I'm only halfway through the losing part, and I've no idea if this time will be the last time, although that's my most fervent hope. I won't say it's been simple – not nearly as simple as giving up booze and smoking, since I still have to eat. But I can choose what to eat and when to eat it and how much to have [how much is probably the most important part]. And it is a simple matter to choose fruit instead of cake, whole wheat pasta over regular or snow peas rather than canned corn. Sometimes I choose cake and fruit. Sometimes I'm able to delay the initial urge to make a poor choice, knowing I can always get 'fill-in-your-own-treat' later.

The most important item on that first bulleted list, for me, is patience. I've had to get through the initial disappointment that I wasn't going to lose five or three or two pounds every week. Working out takes time, energy and discipline; it took some patience on my part to get used to that, and to develop the habit. I have to be patient preparing food, when I'd rather be eating it. [Read Jonathan's June 19 post – excellent idea!]

You get the idea. I'd rather have a bushel of patience than an ounce of willpower.


Esther said...

Thanks so much for linking to Jonathan's blog - it's fantasic!

Marilyn B. said...

I like the new picture in the upper right corner. See, you do look thinner.

A quote I think of a lot is:
If you think you can, you're right
If you think you can't, you're right.

I'll bet others can think of some of those good quotes for those of us losing weight.

Vickie said...

Second Try at posting -

First I wanted to tell you that I love your blog. I read you every day (and found you through Jonathan - thanks Jonathan!).

Then, I wanted to mention the book

Thin for life : 10 keys to success for people who have lost weight and kept it off by Fletcher, Anne M.

as something I would HIGHLY suggest reading before you get to maintenance. It has helped many other people I know get their mind "wrapped around" maintenance and the fact that there is just a little bit of food difference between maintenance and loosing.

And with this thought, here is a great quote for you:

The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race. (T. Ebersole)


Jonathan said...


WILLPOWER is sooooo over-rated! I haven't got any, and I lost 50 lbs and have maintained that for four years. In fact, I refer to it as "won't power" (as in "I won't do this, I won't do that") and I don't know about you, but I don't find that particularly motivating.

Determination, discipline, dedication, endurance, tenacity ... I have all those things. Because all of them ALLOW ME TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING.

Down with willpower and up with success!!


Greta said...

I can SEE that you have patience every time that I log onto your blog and see your countdown to goal which right now stands at 193 plus days. I find you tremendously inspiring.