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The Real Reason You Can't Put Down That Cookie

Cortney Chaite
Health and Fitness Coach

How many of you can relate to the following sentiment? "If I only had enough willpower, then I wouldn't have so much trouble with food!"

A presumed lack of willpower or self-control is the reason most people give for common food-related problems like over-eating, binging, and "bad" food choices.

Sound familiar? What if I told you that these problems have very little, if anything, to do with self-control or willpower?

The fact is, willpower and self-control will only work for so long and take you so far. They're the things most people lean on when they start something new. Have you ever bought a book and started a new diet? It worked for a while, right? Well, that was willpower. What happened after a few weeks? Old habits crept back in and you likely felt frustrated that you weren't able to maintain your new lifestyle.

Please hear me when I say this: IT WASN'T YOUR FAULT! We're not programmed to muscle our way through life. Willpower and self-control are not enough to keep you going. That's why accountability and slow habit transformation are SO effective.

Today I'm going to show you a few of the key strategies that actually work to create change. Forget willpower and self-control. Try these instead:

1. Balance your plate. 

Overeating often stems from a diet deficient in nutrients. After years of eating processed and refined foods and not enough of the quality stuff, your body could very well be in survival mode. Your hormones are likely out of whack, which can lead to an inability to lose weight, and, you guessed it, cravings. I've had clients who have had sugar cravings disappear just by adding the right balance of protein, healthy carbs and healthy fat into their diets. When you nourish your body and give it the right fuel to function properly, it will start working for you again.

2. Eliminate potential allergens. 

Did you know that an intolerance to something can actually create a craving for that food? Have you ever known someone who can't get enough of bread? What about cheese? Then there's sugar. Eating just a bit of sugar creates the desire for more. And more. Try eliminating the food you are craving for seven days and pay attention to what happens. If you notice withdrawal symptoms for a few days (headache, irritability or an intense craving for that food), then a reduction of the craving, you may be sensitive to this food.

3. Feed your soul. 

Confession: I have major sugar love. I've learned that I crave sugar when I'm not giving myself enough love and attention. If you've completely forgotten what it's like to pay attention to your own needs, then it's time to get your passion back! Start remembering the things that really feed you — not food, but life. Make sure you are working in some of the things that make you tick. I guarantee that when you start feeding yourself with love, the desire to feed yourself with junk will fade.

4. Practice self-compassion. 

Have you noticed we tend to be more compassionate and kind to strangers than we are to ourselves? We could win all sorts of awards for beating ourselves up. Start paying attention to this. We all have a negative voice that creeps in and tries to derail us with its negativity. Realize that you are not this voice. This is the voice that creeps in when we try using Will-Power to accomplish anything. When you start to pay attention to the voice that tells you how bad you are, or why you were a failure, you can start to distance yourself from it. Instead, try treating yourself with the same kind of love you would give a child. Start adopting a more loving voice.

Now that I've got you thinking outside of the willpower box, I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below. Here are some ideas of what to write:

Have you ever struggled with will-power and self-control and what have you done about it?

Have you reignited a passion for life after losing your gusto?

Have you noticed a relationship with your inner voice? What is its impact on you?

Specific stories and comments benefit all of us, so I appreciate your taking time to share.

Cortney Chaite author page.
Cortney Chaite
Health and Fitness Coach

Cortney runs online clean eating and fitness coaching programs to help women lose weight, improve their health and find their inner badass. She received her training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program. With her extensive knowledge in mindfulness, health coaching, and self-care, she draws on these skills to help people with lifestyle changes that produce lasting results. She is a mother, writer, speaker, culinary-dabbler, and ambitious photographer. She is a graduate of Vassar College and holds a Masters Degree in Architecture from The Catholic University of America.

To schedule a "get to know you" phone call or subscribe to her free newsletter for inspiration and news about upcoming programs, please visit her website at: