If willpower fails, don't rely on it

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Part 1 Part2 Part 3 (this one)

So I started off this series with the question I very often hear, "what's the most important action a person struggling with his or her weight can take?" I usually learn from such questioners that they really want to know what diet to go on, or what food to eat more of or less of.

For a couple of reasons, I don't answer that question, but I do have an answer for the original one: Figure out how you're going to stick with whatever food changes you decide to make.

As I said earlier, I lost weight a bunch of times in the days before I started adopting the ideas, attitudes, and practices developed for addiction recovery, more than once in 130-pound-plus chunks. What I found from those episodes was that even when my willpower was impressively long-lasting, it did not last long enough.

If that's not true for you, great! That means you've probably implemented all the tough changes you've thought might improve your life, and you're set. Congratulations. But I'm talking about everyone else, specifically those who've lost and regained weight, when they've lost weight at all. If willpower is your bottom line and it hasn't ever been enough, should you perhaps consider something else?

For me, that something else turned out to be the support of others and attention to my spirit. For more than 20 years, in rehab and in therapy and support groups, I've been meeting and hanging out with others who share similar challenges, and I've relied on them — and they on me — to get through the times when my own power flagged.

And, I pray now, not asking to lose weight because that strikes me as too self-serving. But I do pray to help others, and to be "more loving, thoughtful, patient, tolerant, tender, supportive" than I otherwise have been. One of the effects has been that those outcomes are more likely, and I have less bullshit in my life to eat over.

So that's my "most important action." Find support and strength that exist outside of me, because my experience proved to me beyond reason that no matter how much strength I had, it wasn't enough.


So, in this article, when I read "If willpower is your bottom line and it hasn't ever been enough, should you perhaps consider something else?" I said "oh crap, how come that didn't occur to me" all those times in the past when I tried over and over and over again to lose weight, and then go nuts and eat everything that wasn't nailed down? What made me believe that I could eat practically nothing for a short time, lose alot of my excess weight, and one day be able to eat anything I wanted? That doesn't even make sense. How could I not see that? I tell you, alot of people don't understand that you can be "drunk" from food, but I tell you, there I was!

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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