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When Willpower Doesn’t Work: Get a Weight Loss Buddy

Summertime gatherings are tough for those of us trying to stay healthy. There’s always a pile of food and a group of friends ready to hand me a plate or a drink, not realizing I struggle with keeping my calories within my daily allowance.

I’ve heard a lot of people say to me, “You simply must have willpower.” Or “just learn to say no.” Intellectually I get it – I carry the responsibility for my choices to keep things on track. I’ve read (and even written about) all the various strategies one should consider before hitting a big gathering with food.

I’m going to share something that will likely not come as a surprise to some of you. Knowing you need to say no, or pay attention to what you are eating is much different than actually doing it. Moving from knowledge to practice is a hard part of changing habits, and when you are at a festive summer gathering there is plenty to test you.

Enlist a Willpower Wingman

CalorieKing Blog Willpower Wingman

This is me (Leenie) and my wingman/husband Michael. He steers me away from food and on to a hike.

Sometimes willpower needs a little nudge doesn’t it? You know what you need to do but you need some help to get there. I’m here to tell you it is o.k. to ask for help. In fact, I highly encourage it.

Find a “Food Buddy” you can confide in prior to your picnic or BBQ and let them be your willpower wingman. A friend or family member will know just the right way to remind you to say no or steer you away from that dessert you can’t resist.

That’s what friends and family are for – to help you put a plan into practice until you feel like you can go it alone.

Here’s a guide for you both before heading out the door:

Start Early

Have your friend over early so you can go over your goals in staying away from certain foods, and working on portion control. Explain you are working on healthy living habits and their support is key.

Discuss Healthy Choices

You know what kind of foods are your triggers. You also know what your calorie allowances are. Together before the event you can go over what is likely to be offered what you can eat – and no doubt there will be plenty. Think of green salads, skinless chicken breasts or kebabs, and plenty of grilled fruit. Have your friend help steer you in the right direction!

Discuss Portion Control

You know you have an allowance for calories for the day, and perhaps you’ve planned for a little extra for the gathering. You want to make smart choices, but you also want to enjoy yourself right? So ask your friend to hand you a smaller plate that will allow for naturally smaller portions. If you don’t trust yourself, have them dish out the portions of foods that tempt you. No one will notice.

Stick Together

No doubt you’d be enjoying the festivities together anyway, but make a pact to stick together at least until the food is packed up. That way you can avoid sticky situations. When someone pressures you to have that second piece, a friend can step in and help if you having trouble saying no. If you are itching to hit the dessert table one more time they can remind you of your goals.

Positive Reinforcement

Nothing helps me to stay on track than to be told I’ve done the right thing. “You did great staying away from the cookies!” Or hearing “Your hard work is really paying off!” from a friend goes such a long way to helping make the difficult choices seem worthwhile.

Difficult Choices Are Worthwhile

And the fact of the matter is, the difficult choices ARE worthwhile. You’ll feel better mentally and physically when you conquer even a small challenge that has been troubling you for a long time.

If it takes enlisting a friend to help you – embrace that help. There is no need to go it alone especially on a difficult journey. Your friends – both in your real life and here at CalorieKing – are here to help with ideas, advice and that pat on the back that makes us all feel good. Not only are your friends there – they really do want to help and all you have to do is ask.

For me it is my husband – when we are at a BBQ he reminds me that an extra serving of potato salad is going to push my calorie allowances into the next day. I love potato salad a lot, but when you hear it put like that you really think twice. And he knows that works for me.

The fact is that changing habits is challenging. Embrace the idea of having someone help you plan and move from what you know is right to doing what is right. Not only will you feel good, you’ll have someone to share it with!