How to Increase Your Willpower
Bariatric surgery is just the beginning of a long-term weight loss process. Adopting and sticking to a healthy long-term diet is really the key to success. The surgery is just a way to help you start on that road.
That’s easier said than done, any fair person will admit. Morbidly obese people are not blessed with strong willpower to begin with. So, making a lifetime commitment to a radically altered diet can be more than anyone can realistically expect… unless you have help.
Fortunately, that help comes in several forms: an understanding and skilled nutritionist, support groups, friends and family, co-workers, and more. Still, in the end it comes down to the individual’s desire to take the necessary steps. Keep in mind, though, that guilt doesn’t help. What’s needed is a positive approach, one that starts with honest self-assessment and relies on self-generated ‘carrots’ (and a few helpful ‘sticks’ as reminders).
You can begin by thinking about why it’s tough to find the willpower when you know the change is good for you. That often comes down to a difficulty in keeping real to yourself the connection between cause and effect, between your actions and the outcome. Solving that is not an impossible dream. It’s not even as hard as it may sound.
There are techniques anyone can use to up odds of sticking to a bariatric diet. One is to develop a habit of using the right mental imagery.
Let’s start with a ‘stick’. You can ‘beat’ yourself ó in the right way ó into keeping your commitment to the dietary guidelines your specialists and you outlined.
Even before you feel the first urge to wander off the right path, create a few personally meaningful little ‘scenes’ to picture in your mind. If you feel tempted to eat that high-carb food, try imagining one of the most likely outcomes: Bariatric Dumping Syndrome.
BDS happens when food is flushed too rapidly by the intestine. It leads to cramps and diarrhea. Picture yourself (as vividly as possible) being confined to the toilet all day, in pain and eliminating liquid feces. Revolting, right? You probably don’t want those high-sugar cookies now.
Practice mentally associating that desired object (say, a piece of pie) with a very undesirable effect (such as diarrhea and pain). You’ll soon find your desire drastically tapering off. Soon, you’ll stop indulging. After all, you wouldn’t eat cyanide-laced pastry, even if you knew it was delicious.
Now let’s switch to a ‘carrot’ technique.
You can use that same imagery technique to help you boost your willpower in a positive way. Create some scenes in your mind that show you eating what the nutritionist recommended. Stand in front of the mirror and see yourself as you are. Now turn around and imagine your new self in your mind’s eye. See a slim, new you? Doesn’t it feel great?
In your fantasy you look more attractive, for sure. But there are more benefits on the way. Feel how you have more energy. Experience in your imagination sleeping more soundly and feeling great the next morning. You’re eager to get up and meet new people now. They give you compliments and you laugh together. Your love life is better. Getting the picture? It just takes a little practice.
Let your imagination associate the cause (sticking to your diet) and the effect (a good looking, great feeling, super-healthy you). Before long, your willpower will be your strongest ally.