Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Weight Loss Doesn't Take Willpower, But Steadfast Resolve To Make Smart Choices

I was talking with one of my co-workers yesterday morning and she invited me to come to a social event in the fellowship room where they would be serving lots of muffins and fresh lattes. Of course, she is fully aware of and knows about my 180-pound weight loss on the low-carb lifestyle in 2004 and quickly caught herself in mid-sentence almost apologizing for even saying anything about the muffins.

My reaction to her is the same one I give anyone who offers a high-carb food for me to eat. Here's what I say:

"I really appreciate you thinking of me, but I haven't eaten any sugary products like that for nearly three years since I started my low-carb lifestyle. Thank you again for your hospitality, but I don't want to gain my weight back so I had better say no."

At this point, most people are appreciative of my position and tell me how much they admire my consistency with staying on the low-carb plan. In fact, my co-worker said something to me I've been meaning to talk about for a while, so I will expand upon it a little further in this post:

"Jimmy, you have the most incredible willpower I think I've ever seen in anyone!"

I smiled, nodded, and thanked her for the compliment because I knew she meant it with all sincerity. But the fact is my ability to resist tempting sugary, high-carb foods like muffins and doughnuts has nothing to do with "willpower." I wrote about this idea somewhat in my book as well.

Although my "rat poison" mantra was very helpful when I first decided to stop eating sugar early on in my low-carb program, now I credit my steadfast resolve to make smart choices about what I allow inside of my mouth for helping me keep my weight under control. There is a BIG difference between "willpower" and this "steadfast resolve to make smart choices."

Up until I began my recent "30-In-30" Low-Carb Weight Loss Challenge where I am now attempting to lose 30 pounds over 30 weeks (I've lost five pounds in just the first two weeks already!), I had started making some pretty stupid mistakes here and there that weren't very smart at all. No, I wasn't secretly gorging myself on chocolate cake (EWWW!) in a back room at work somewhere or sneaking a Big Mac and French fries from McDonalds (GAG!) on the way home from work. It was a lot more subtle than that.

For example, when Christine and I would go out to eat for dinner over the past six months or so, we would order our meals and I would make mine low-carb by usually getting meat and salad entrees. But then the server would bring this great big basket of hot dinner rolls just out of the oven with butter slobbered all on top of them making them look all shiny and place them right in front of me. I could hear these melt-in-your-mouth rolls calling out to me, "Eat me, Jimmy, eat me!"

Rationalizing in my mind that they're not sugar and I'm only going to have one or two (admittedly, I'd sometimes even have three or four! YIKES!), I would eat them and not really feel that guilty about it either. But when the scale started moving up every so slightly, I knew these little sneak-a-cheats were not very conducive to my low-carb lifestyle. That's why you should never lose your focus or your purpose for low-carbing especially once you hit the weight maintenance phase of your low-carb lifestyle. It's too easy to get used to bad habits and start gaining your weight back.

Does this mean I will NEVER have the dinner rolls again? I get that kind of question asked a lot about chocolate cake and other sugary desserts as well. The answer is no, but I'm making much better choices for myself now that are wiser decisions in the long run for me. I have to constantly reevaluate in my own mind whether eating that roll or cake is going to be worth the price I have to pay when I step on that scale (which I am a big believer in doing every single day for personal accountability!). Because of that, the answer 99.999% of the time will be to politely decline. I'm usually glad that I did!

If I had this great willpower over food, then how did I ever get to the point where I weighed over 400 pounds? If willpower was the only way to resist temptation and prevent weight gain, then I'd still be that morbidly obese man I was a little more than 2 1/2 years ago very likely tipping the scales at over 500 pounds by now. Thankfully, I found the ability to say "no" to those things that I know I shouldn't have as part of my healthy lifestyle anymore. This isn't something to bemoan, but instead should makes your wanna jump for joy because it is a lesson the vast majority of people are unwilling to implement in their own life.

Weight loss--and I mean long-lasting, meaningful weight control--is not dependent on any kind of inner ability to wish you didn't want to eat that chocolate cake ever again. That would go against human nature and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to your face. But your commitment to a healthy lifestyle dictates whether you choose to eat that cake or not. For me, I choose to pass on the cake and would rather have a bowl of blueberries and cream instead. Plus you'll feel better knowing you've made the better decision which not only benefits your physical body, but your emotional stability as well.

Resolve today that nothing will stand in your way of attaining the success that you deserve to have happen with your weight loss goals. Don't rely on some mystical strength or "willpower" you hope you will have when the temptations confront you. Be ready for them ahead of time and make up your mind RIGHT now how you will handle them. Be smart and make healthy choices so you can see the weight loss success you so desperately desire in your life. YOU CAN DO IT!


Blogger Mel said...

Great post!

aka The Shrinking Mom

8/17/2006 12:18 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...


8/17/2006 7:50 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

"Weight Loss Doesn't Take Willpower, But Steadfast Resolve To Make Smart Choices."

With one exception. Anyone who tries to lose weight on a low-fat, low-calorie diet is going to need a lot of willpower.

8/17/2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

LOL! Oh yeah, I forgot about that, Gary. :D

8/17/2006 11:55 AM  
Blogger 1Peter3 said...

I found that the easiest thing to do was to go on automatic pilot and just say "no thanks" when offered some kind of starchy/sugary food. After politely refusing such offers a few million times, it became so automatic that I wasn't even thinking about whether I really wanted that donut or cookie.

Most people just shrug and walk away, never asking why I won't eat it, but if they do happen to ask, I don't generally even give a dissertation on how much better low carb is for you, just explain that I feel bad on that sort of food. At that point, they're probably assuming it's either an allergy or something that upsets my stomach for some reason. I may be missing out on an opportunity to educate people about the dangers of too much sugar in their diet, and how ridiculously high the RDA is for carb consumption these days, but most people aren't looking to get into a discussion about healthy eating when they offer you a muffin or piece of cake, they just want to share what they consider to be tasty.

Of course I really do feel really awful on that sort of food. Nothing worse than having a blood sugar spike, followed by the inevitable blood sugar crash from too much insulin.

8/18/2006 8:36 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I agree that focus and discipline are essential, as half the battle of weight loss is mental.

I would just make one note though. For obese people with lots of weight to lose, you should look at carbs the same way an alcoholic looks at booze. Unlike other people, really obese people have a real problem with carbs. Now, a recovering alcoholic will just be honest and know that they can't just have one sip or one taste because it triggers the worst in them then they can't stop drinking.

Once I aced all carbs in my diet I've had no problems staying committed, no temptation to grab a couple fries when I get fast food for my wife. Heck, if I'm making her pasta and I need to test it I take a small bite, chew, then spit it out.

Does this mean I won't have dinner rolls or chocolate cake again? Damn straight! It's just not worth it.

The Zero Carb Path

8/18/2006 2:23 PM  
Blogger cherlita said...

There is a miss-conception that obese people do not have willpower. In my own case, I have always had willpower. If I want something, I will eat it.

That driving willpower that I’ve always had to consume the carb-loaded foods has actually served me well in my adjustment to low carb eating. I have “switched” my willpower to willing myself to eat low carb. If I see or feel a craving for a carb-loaded “goodie” (getting less cravings each day), I find an alternative in the Low Carb world. I’ve made the Atkins Brownies. Used Atkins Cornbread to make stuffing for my turkey and also pork chops. Made pizza with Carbquik dough. I love deviled eggs. I've recently discovered Dreamfields Pasta and Safeway brand Spaghetti sauce with no added sugar. I small portions and combined with Italian sausage, it's been a great dinner entree along with my vegies. Diet root beer and low carb ice cream for a root beer “shake”. All quite yummy.

I haven't been keeping track of my progress because this is a lifestyle change for me, but I realized today, the 18th, that I have just gotten through 30 days of living a low carb lifestyle, which is so cool. It’s gone so fast and I didn’t even realize it. I have not cheated once. Was I tempted to cheat? Oh yes.

The difference this time is that in my mind and soul I feel like I'm already slim. And, most importantly, I have re-directed my focus away from food. I’ve stopped obsessing about food and what I can or cannot have. I didn't experience any "life-altering" revelations or challenges; I wasn't "bottomed out" as some people have suggested is a requirement to change one's life. I wish I had the key so I can share it with all of you. I don't know what happened. I just know that it happened. I've been in ketosis for most of the past 4 weeks and feel great. This is my life and I am loving it.

Got Willpower? Oh yes, I will eat low carb for the rest of my life, not a problem.

8/18/2006 3:04 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

What is willpower anyway? I just looked it up and it says "energetic determination". Well when I was on the low fat, I had anything but energetic determination. In fact I didn't have much energy at all. Wait. I take it back. I needed energy to go to the refrigerator and fill up on more carbs so I could later become a diabetic, yay. I used to be a fat lazy slob and it was because I was not eating healthy. Ok. Maybe I wasn't a slob but I was pretty fat and lazy. I swear I was on a 1200 calorie diet for the majority of the time. I never once ever sat down and ate a whole pie or bunches of stuff. My dr's didn't believe me. They'd give me that look like, "Yeah right. You got fat by not eating a lot? Hahahaha. I think I'm going to charge her more for this visit for wasting my time, heh heh." When I started investigating on diets, I realized I was killing myself with the high carb low fat diet. Stupid, stupid, stupid. It's all Al Gore's fault you know. If only he had invented the internet about 10 years earlier! WHEW!

8/19/2006 6:42 PM  

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