The Will Power Myth

If you have been fighting the battle of the bulge for any length of time, you have undoubtedly been told to just suck it up and use a little bit of will power. If it were that easy, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic in this country. In this article, we’ll explore why using “will power” is usually so ineffective.

According to a fascinating experiment published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “Just one act of self-control depletes your ability to have self-control in another unrelated area.”(1) For example, when subjects were told not to eat chocolates sitting right in front of them, their persistence in puzzle solving deteriorated.

This is not just related to food, When subjects were told to suppress an emotional reaction to a movie, they had problems solving an easy anagram. It turns out that you only have the conscious resources to exhibit willpower on one (or at the most two) fronts at one time. The research is overwhelming in this area.

This is why it is SO HARD to stay disciplined with eating and exercise. This is true for any form of will power, which is why we often don’t do the things we tell ourselves we are going to do.

In short, any self-regulatory strategy has costs with respect to depleting a person’s general resources for self regulation.(2)
To make it worse, according to research on information processing, your conscious mind is only able to process approximately 50 bits of information per second, while your unconscious mind processes approximately 11 million bits per second.(3) This means your unconscious mind processes information about 220 THOUSAND TIMES FASTER than your conscious mind.
Going back to the willpower research, it makes more sense now. The part of your experience that you are aware of has very limited resources, while the part of you that you are NOT aware of, is extremely powerful.

Further evidence of this comes from the famous study done by Dr. George A. Miller of Princeton University. He proved that the conscious mind can only handle 7 (plus or minus 2) chunks of information at a time.(4)

So you can see what a drain it is trying to use willpower to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, etc. on a daily basis. This is also why when people try to quit smoking AND lose weight at the same, they are bound to fail!
Now you understand that the trick is to somehow get the part of you that you are not aware of (the unconscious mind) to make the changes for you.

So how do you get your unconscious mind to naturally desire healthy green foods, water, healthy portions, exercise, etc. without having to think about it consciously?
The trick is a combination of positive association, priming and ritual.

With positive association, think Pavlov and the dog (you remember how Dr. Pavlov was able to get dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell). You need to set up an environment where every time you take an action that leads to your goal, you will reward yourself. Your brain will quickly learn to create this behavior without you having to think about it.

With priming, you need to put in place cues that lead to your desired behaviors. The research is solid that environmental cues determine a great percentage of your behaviors. Every time you see a fast food advertisement, you are receiving a prime (in this case for a behavior you don’t want)!

So level the playing field by putting pictures of healthy foods in your home and office. Eat off of smaller plates so you are primed to eat smaller portions. Remove “bad” snacks from your sight as they call for you to eat them! The point is to set up your environment for success.

Finally, use the power of ritual. It takes 21 days to change a habit. Pick one ritual that you can easily do every day that will lead to your weight loss goals. One powerful, easy thing you can do is to change your morning ritual.

Prepare a healthy meal every night before you go to bed, and pick any 20-minute form of exercise you can do in the mornings. When you wake up, do 20 minutes of exercise (even if it is just walking), then eat your healthy meal. This is easy to do and because it is the first thing you do every day, the stresses of the day will not prevent it.

If you truly want to get control over your weight, then we recommend trying hypnosis. It will bypass the conscious attempt at willpower, making these habits almost automatic.

Research shows that people lose over 146% more weight when using hypnosis. The best program you can use for eliminating the pounds is called, “Enjoying Weight Loss” by Dr. Roberta Temes.
These seven sessions are powerful and effective. You can try them by just paying shipping. Because the success rate is over 90%, the publisher is confident you will use them for life.
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1. Source: RE Baumeister et al. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 74, 1998.
2. Moraven, M., et al. (1998). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74. 774-789.
3. Zimmerman, M. (1989). In R. F. Schmidt & G. Thews (eds.), Human Physiology, pp. 166-173. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
4. Miller, G. A. (1956). Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Lovitch, M.A., Founder of The Hypnosis Network, is a social science researcher and a connoisseur of effective psychologists. His company publishes the best selling hypnosis program for weight loss available today, independently verified to help 92% of those who use it. Find out how to put your weight loss on auto-pilot by clicking here.