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Ask Roni: I Have No Willpower


I’ve just came across your blog as I was seeking out something, anything to help me. I have been overweight most of my life. Growing up my family had no concept of healthy eating. Going to McDonalds and getting bags of chips were a treat. My grandmother, who was the world’s greatest cook, would cook up big meals when I was visiting. Fried potatoes and pork chops were her specialty. And I would eat, and eat, and then eat some more. The eating more has followed me like a black cloud. I can’t hide from it. I feel as if I’m never full. It doesn’t matter that I am literally about to bust. I just don’t ‘feel’ full. I’m not depressed and I have a pretty good life. Food is the one thing that has a hold on me that I just don’t know how to break. About four years ago I saw an old picture of myself and was like ‘oh my gosh I really look like that’. As I 5ft 4in woman being almost 300 pounds really stands out. I did make a change from that point and over a year and half time I got down to 155lbs. For the first time in my life I could really look at myself and be happy with what I saw. I could go to the store and buy the clothes I actually wanted to buy. It was a great time. Then I relocated and have been in a wonderful relationship for the past few years and with that came the weight gain. It’s not the relationship that caused the weight gain so much as my sheer lack of willpower when it comes to being able to say no to going out to eat, saying no to that second helping, saying no to the late night eating, saying no to the workout room that it literally feet from me. I went from tracking what I was eating every day and going to the gym to getting back to the place I was before that. The place where food is the only thing I see. This is a cycle that is taking its toll on me mentally. Every time I eat I either feel ashamed or embarrassed. Every time I eat I am wondering when/where I can more food. I’m in my mid 30’s and I know the extra weight is not doing me any favors. My knees hurt, my back hurts. I don’t move around as much as I use to. I have all of the tools at my disposal to make the change. I just don’t have the willpower or consistency to do it. It feels like the food is stronger than me. So I stumble every single day. I just want to be able to finally stand. I’m sorry for the mini book. It does feel good though to say this stuff out loud.


Hi Jennifer,

I’m so sorry for the late response. I’ve been sitting on your email for months and have started to respond multiple times but I always got stuck.

Stuck because I’m not qualified to help.

Stuck because I don’t know how to help.

Stuck because I get it.

I 100 percent understand every word you wrote and felt the same. exact. way. for many years.

Every time you stated you “don’t have the willpower” I cringed. I had the same thoughts and said the same thing.

I know there are 2 sides to this coin. Many folks believe that weight loss comes down to exactly that, willpower. Others think there are other variables in play that have nothing to do with willpower. (The link above is from a weekly series I used to run called The Question of the Week — There’s quite a few insightful comments. Click here to check it out)

I fall somewhere in the middle because I don’t believe weight loss (or gain for that matter) is a one-size-fit-all problem. Plus, we all approach it all from completely different angles and have different priorities — health, aesthetics, fitness, happiness.

In my experience it did take willpower to make positive changes in my life. Honestly, sometimes it didn’t feel like much work. There were (and are) days, weeks, even months when making the healthier choices felt effortless, easy even. Other times, however, I feel almost possessed, like I’m on autopilot in a bad way. My logical brain wouldn’t want to eat something or order “that” but I’d do it anyway. Then I’d feel like an observer of my own behavior. I could see it happening but felt like I couldn’t stop.

All I can offer is assurance you are not alone and a few pieces of advice from someone who broke herself out of the cycle.

You can’t hate yourself thin. I know some people don’t get the “self-acceptance” thing, but once I figured out I had to live now and not after I lost weight, things really started to change. This concept is what I tried so hard to capture in this post.

Get to the bottom of your core hurt eating.  I found an article that was a game changer for me and blogged about it in this post — it’s called My Core Hurt Eating – A MUST Read for those that Overeat. Eye opening.

Do what you can when you can! I can see the eye rolls now but this isn’t just a pitch for our book! I swear! One of the things that really helped me get over the feelings of failure and shame was acknowledging and celebrating every little positive change I made. I set tiny goals and then patted myself on the back for reaching them. And when I say tiny I mean something as simple as eating breakfast or keeping my food journal for a day.

Think about it. If you constantly tell yourself you are a failure and you should be ashamed and feel guilty then you are continually dragging yourself down deeper and deeper. On the flip side, if you constantly celebrate small achievements and focus on positive changes then you start to pick yourself up. You start to build confidence. You start to feel motivated.

Jennifer, I wish I could help more. I really do. I’m glad you wrote and I hope my experience helps you in some way.

And keep saying this stuff out loud! The more we talk about these feelings and expose them, the easier they are to understand and manage.


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About Mehmood Esmail

Mehmood Esmail
Hi, I am Mehmood Esmail, there have been severe health issues in my family, like cancer, heart attacks, stroke, kidney stones, IBS, etc. Where we live, in Africa, health facilities are basic. Thus it becomes imperative that we hnow what is happenining to us and how to look after ourselves, and where possible, how to prevent serious illnesses.

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