Igen Process

Willpower and weight loss

Why is it that weight loss, something so strongly desired, is so difficult to achieve through sheer willpower? The key lies in understanding what willpower is, how it works, how it depletes and how we can get back it on track.


Willpower is defined by the American Psychological Association as the “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” But more than this, willpower is also the ability to refrain from or delay doing something we like. It can also translate to doing a positive action, say doing a run in the park in the early morning, even though you’d rather be catching a few more zzz’s before starting your day.

But like all things, willpower is not unlimited. It is therefore wise not to have a test of wills, so to speak. We must set manageable goals – start small; then as these goals are regularly met and as our self control grows stronger, move on to more challenging limits. Taking on a bigger challenge than what we are ready for will just set us up for a big disappointment.


Much of the failure of losing weight hinges on our attitude towards the whole idea of weight loss. We erroneously focus our willpower on the type of food we eat, on the exercise we need to do, on counting calories, on denying ourselves certain types of food, etc. We force ourselves to comply and because we instinctively dislike changes in our routine, we can only do them for a period of time before returning to our habitual behavior.

What we can do is learn to focus our willpower on the reasons we want to lose weight such as: living longer, looking better, feeling healthier and living an overall better life. In other words, a positive frame of mind towards weight loss is in order. Through the application of the Igen Process, behaviors like choosing our food, deciding if we are eating for nutrition or for pleasure, planning our meals, deflecting cravings and all other actions will eventually become habits and won’t require the force of willpower.

Another factor that contributes to the difficulty in shedding those pounds is our environment and our very genetic make-up. We are subject to genetic and cultural influences that elicit the desire to eat both for survival purposes and for comfort or enjoyment.

We are setting ourselves up for failure if we do not change our mind set. If we understand the genetic and cultural influences that constantly urge us to eat, then we can develop personal strategies, based on vigilance and desire, to counteract both of these internal and external influences.

Willpower matters but we also need other strategies to keep us on our quest to lose weight. Having determination to conquer your weight loss – not seeing it as a chore and a burden but as a way towards a better quality of life and understanding the influences that dictate our eating habits, in the long run are what will keep the weight off permanently.

Willpower and weight loss