Why You Need More Than Just Willpower for Weight Loss

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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Why You Need More Than Just Willpower for Weight Loss

All too often, individuals blame their unsuccessful attempts at weight loss and dieting on a lack of willpower. Unfortunately relying on willpower to achieve and maintain weight loss isn’t practical or sustainable.

You can’t just will your way to your “happy” weight. Lasting weight loss requires sustainable behavior changes and a healthy relationship with food. These two pieces of the puzzle are nonnegotiable if you’re looking for happiness at your healthy weight (also know as “happy” weight).

While you may be able to lose weight initially on willpower alone, without adopting sustainable behavior changes and a healthy relationship with food, you will gain back the weight or not be satisfied with your body. Willpower and motivation will help to kick-start your health journey, but they will only get you so far. We all lose steam (it’s human nature!) and need a realistic plan to keep going.


1. Don’t buy into weight-loss gimmicks. Avoid products or diet plans that promise you can slim down in five days by drinking only juice or eating zero carbs. Anything super extreme that’s far from a balanced diet is only a quick fix, and all too often any weight that is lost on those diets is regained on the rebound. These gimmicks don’t lead to lasting results.

2. Eat foods that are fun, too. Ice cream, pizza, and pumpkin spice lattes are often sworn off when going on a diet. But, this isn’t the best strategy for long-lasting weight loss because it could lead to intense cravings or binge eating. Instead of cutting them out, allow yourself to eat foods that are fun in moderation.

3. Set achievable weight goals.  Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, or in a few days for that matter. If you’re being sold rapid weight loss… turn and run! Losing weight too quickly (more than 1–2 pounds/week) might not sustainable for most people. Set achievable goals, take measurements and re-evaluate your goals every week to stay on track.

4. Learn to decipher hunger and fullness. Knowing what, when and how much to eat is half the battle with weight loss. The good news is you can use your body’s internal hunger and fullness cues to guide you. Note: The people who manage their weight and keep it off without having to diet do this naturally (or have learned this tool over time). If you want to understand your hunger and fullness better, read this article: The Simple Tool That Can Help Prevent Overeating

5. Know your “why.” Do you know your reasons for wanting to lose weight and get healthy? Turn your motivations into more than just willpower; make them your purpose. Write a mission statement to give more meaning to your goals. Getting solid on your “why” runs deep and will fuel a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t beat yourself up again if you have trouble reaching your goals. If you’re feeling like you’ve failed your diet from a lack of willpower, maybe it’s the diet that failed you. Take actions that are sustainable and long-lasting to find your happy weight.

About the Author

Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN

Kristina is a board certified sports dietitian located in Orlando, Florida where she specializes in intuitive and mindful eating. She is the author of the food and nutrition blog, Love & Zest where she shares {mostly} healthy recipes with simple ingredients that are meant for real life. As a new mom, she knows that eating well and living an active lifestyle isn’t always easy… but it’s always worth it!! Kristina loves spending time outdoors with her family, sweaty workouts, and a good cup of coffee. Get in touch with her for one-on-one nutrition coaching (virtually or in person), or connect with her on PinterestInstagramFacebook  and YouTube.


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