Is 'will power' the key to healthy eating?

Yesterday at a lunch meeting, a comment was made at my table which I thought needed a little fleshing out. There were 30 people in the meeting, about 5 per table, and lunch was catered. Everyone at my table noticed that I chose not to eat the lunch provided, in my opinion it was not healthy enough (I say that knowing I have very high nutrition standards).


At the end of the meeting, two of the people at my table asked me about my will power to avoid eating a meal that looked/tasted "so good." They commented that they knew their health would be much better if they had a touch of the will power they see in me. In a lighthearted response I commented about the fact that I actually coach people on how to eat healthy and avoid the foods like that meal.


What I find is that people believe will power is connected to one’s ability to make healthy decisions, whether it’s exercise or nutrition. In reality, will power is a made up idea like ‘the force’ in Star Wars. The ‘power’ that helps people make healthy decisions is a combination of discipline and focus to follow through on their priorities.


When someone tells me their will power is not strong enough, what they really are saying is their priorities in that area of life are not defined. Priorities that are laser defined create a focus on what you want to achieve. A clear focus creates a discipline to achieve those priorities.


You might be reading this and saying to yourself “but I really want to be healthy and it just doesn’t work.”


Wanting to be healthy and having health as a priority are two completely different things. How many young boys want to be a professional athlete? Or young girls that want to be a famous actress? The boys and girls that achieve those goals do so because they made it a priority AND focused so much on that goal there was no way anything would derail them. The boys stayed after practice, worked out on weekends, and maybe hired private coaches. The girls auditioned for every play they could, hired acting coaches, studied other actors, and ran lines for hours on end.


We all want to be healthy. If you haven’t taken the time (yes it means sitting down without distractions) to write out why you want to be healthy, how you plan to be healthy, and what you will accomplish with your health...it is unlikely you will find the focus and discipline to do so.


Instead you will find yourself succumbing to the smells and looks of poor nutritional foods. You will use any distraction that comes along to avoid doing your daily exercise.


You’ll tell yourself you have no will power (which is a massively self-limiting thought)...the reality is you have not clearly defined why being healthy is important to you.


Take the time to define why being healthy is a priority for you. Until you do that, the focus and discipline you need to be healthy in our massively unhealthy world will continually escape you.


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