Have you often tried dieting or exercising, but those good resolutions lasted, at most, a month? Rest assured, you are not alone. Find out how to stay motivated to achieve your goals.
Have the will to go on a diet
A successful diet or regular exercise takes effort and sacrifice. In many cases, these efforts and sacrifices can only be achieved by will . In fact, losing weight with a balanced diet is mainly based on willpower. This thesis is supported by nutritionists and dieticians, as dietitian Mirta Herrera asserts. According to this nutritionist, a person who wants to succeed in a diet must appeal to the “four D’s”: desire, decision,determination and discipline.
For dietitian Herrera, these four pillars are key to successful dieting. To begin with, the desire for change is absolutely necessary: without it, we will not achieve anything.. Finally, discipline will tip the scales in the direction of success.
Science is also enlightening us on whether the will actually helps in the area of nutrition. According to a study published in the journal Health Psychology Review , willpower brings only short-term results . The reason is that it is very difficult in the long run for the mind to resist temptation.
How to learn to be constant
This study shows that it takes not only will, but also consistency. In fact, it is easy to learn to be consistent. We start diets with expectations and impatience to see results quickly. When this is not the case, frustration arises and consistency disappears.
In this sense, Paola Cóser, specialized nutritionist, says that in order to prevent this from happening and to stay on the right track, you have to be aware of what is important: “if you do not internalize the desire to lose weight , no matter how hard you try, you won’t get anywhere ”. For her, motivation and consistency go hand in hand. Therefore, the key is “to establish control and awareness of the process that we are going to go through”. To do this, you need to set goals and design a step-by-step eating plan.
How to be consistent in the practice of a physical activity
To exercise regularly, you also need willpower. Sometimes the same thing happens with diets. You start out strong, the results don’t come, and frustration sets in, then you end up giving up. In this case, you also need to know how to be consistent.
To begin with, we need to define and plan again: what do we want to do? When do we want to do it? With what objective? After this thoughtful step, the time has come to choose an activity. It is precisely at this stage that it is very important to choose an activity that is attractive, that we like. If we don’t like it, the activity will require sacrifices and more willpower. Besides, we will practice it reluctantly.
Another of the drivers of consistency is knowing how to prioritize. We need to forget about excuses and put activity ahead of others. If we want to get something, we have to devote a certain amount of time to it every day.
An idealized concept
However, it is not entirely clear that willpower is the key to diet and weight loss. This claim has been challenged by the director of the University of Minnesota’s Food and Health Laboratory, psychologist Traci Mann. Over the past 20 years, she has studied the way we eat and respond to dietary restrictions that we impose on ourselves, and her findings are amazing.
As she explains in her book Secrets From The Eating Lab (HarperWave) , diets don’t work because they’re based on willpower, making their success impossible. “No one is strong enough to resist temptation if you are faced with it continually,” Mann says.
For this psychologist, appealing to the will is “something beautiful, but at the same time a myth”, because the body and the brain are not ready to “resist the abundance of food”.
In fact, in 2016, another study was published showing that trying to control ourselves by dieting does not make us successful.a