Willpower or Won't-Power?

06/27/2014 12:21 pm ET Updated Aug 27, 2014

Are you blessed with willpower, or do you wish you had as much willpower as (insert any name). Do you wonder why willpower is illusive to you?

Wake up! Willpower is the biggest myth in weight loss and has been a myth all along. You spend too many years wondering why you haven't got it. Before you say, "No Margaret, you're wrong. I know someone who has willpower," let's consider what could be happening with others:

  1. You only see what you want to see. When you compare your eating to others, you never know their whole story. You may think you do, but there is no way you know their deepest thoughts and secrets. While you may think this person always shows willpower, and you admire them from afar, I bet that is not the way they think and feel. Ask them and hear their response.

  • People who you perceive to have willpower are most likely just doing what comes naturally to them. Have you ever heard them say, "I have so much willpower?" Probably not, because this is not how people think. When eating smart is who you are, and not what you are doing temporarily, eating patterns become natural. Yet while you watch and admire others actions and eating patterns, you might start to think, "They have willpower... what's wrong with me?"
  • People who you think have willpower may also be considering the negative effects the food has before they eat it. This causes them to choose something different, a healthier option. They might consider if the item gives them heartburn, toothaches, stomach pain, or excess weight. For example, many people are lactose intolerant and would never consider eating ice cream, whipped cream, pizza, or similar items because of the discomfort and pain they experience, while you're thinking, "They have willpower... what's wrong with me?"
  • If you spend time watching others, and begin to feel in some way inferior, it will negatively affect your eating. How others eat, is irrelevant to you.

    You might take each opportunity to put yourself down and say, "I have no willpower." This leads you to, once again, overeat. It is then that your willpower turns to won't-power. Won't-power means you give up, and you lose your vision and drive to achieve your goals and desires. Unfortunately your won't-power is more powerful than your willpower, because you think you don't measure up to others. Won't-power leads to poor eating choices, excess weight, and ill health. Once you realize you use your willpower in a negative sense, and it is a myth, now you'll find there is never a reason for comparison to others, feelings of inferiority, and resorting to won't-power.

    How do you always make good food choices regardless of circumstances? You don't. You practice making the best choice in the situation you are in, with the understanding that choices will differ based on current conditions. This is known as empowering. Soon you'll see that it takes knowledge, patience, and practice to have a lifetime of smart eating and good health.

    For almost three decades I have worked with people who are becoming healthier and losing weight. For as many people as I have worked with (an estimated 10,000), that's about how many times I've heard, "I have no willpower!" Or, "So and so has willpower, but I have none." It's not willpower -- it's empower. Change the thought to, "I empower myself to make the best choice with what's available to me."

    You'll learn to take the power away from will, because who is Will anyway? Give it to yourself. Insert your name in place of Will. For me the statement would be, "I have Margaret-Power." Put your name before the word "power." Isn't that more meaningful to you?

    Once you make it your own power, and you realize that your power changes depending on your mood, the current situation, the people surrounding you, and the food choices currently available to you, you will be in power. Will-power is your myth while your-power is your reality.

    There won't be a need for willpower when you have your-power.