The Root of Will

imagesEver since I wrote the book and started this blog I have had a number of people engage me in conversations about weight loss. People typically have very strong and  passionate opinions about weight loss (sometimes the opinions are even correct).  They will discuss with me their plans, goals, and commitments.  Unfortunately, in spite of their good intentions, most suffer the same fate.  Their enthusiasm leads to new work out programs or diet commitments that usually sputter out after a few weeks.  They then come back to me at a later time with a new commitment that will likely follow the same pattern.

Every once in a while, however, a few rare individuals seem to veer from the road most travelled.  For some reason a light bulb goes off, a switch flips, something changes and, instead of the usually pattern, they start down a different path.  This happened to a friend of mine recently.  We had a long history of discussions about diet philosophies and exercise plans.  He was well meaning and had tried various methods but nothing ever stuck.  Then, for some reason, a few months ago everything changed.  Instead of talking, he started doing.  He hit the gym, changed his diet, and the pounds started coming off.  We’re now partners in doing the Insanity workout and he’s doing more than he ever thought possible only a few weeks ago.

Another friend of mine had a similar experience.  She fell into the category of people who had struggled with their weight their entire lives to the point where a skinnier body was outside of her ability to comprehend.  She had weight watchered a few times and maybe tried an exercise class here or there, but never with any success.  Then, also for reasons not entirely clear, everything changed.  She committed to Weight Watchers and stuck with it.  She dramatically altered her relationship to food and started exercising with regularity.  She has dropped to dress sizes she didn’t previously think possible.

The most interesting and inspiring thing to me about these and others with similar stories is the snowball effect.  Once they get past a certain point, after they do the workouts even though they don’t want to, after they make the difficult choices at the restaurant even though they want more, everything changes.  They fight through a few weeks with no measurable change and then the magic begins; the clothes loosen, the pounds drop, the scale lifts instead of dashes their spirits.  The more they lose, the better the feel and the more they commit.  Its a virtuous and inspiring cycle.

The million dollar question is how to get over that first hump.  How to get through the first few weeks where there aren’t noticeable results, where muscles are sore and stomachs feel empty.  How do you push through when its really about faith and not results.  Each of my friends can probably come up with a confluence of life events that pushed them over the edge, but I think its much deeper.

images (1)I believe the answer lies at the heart of the human will.  There is a part of us deep down that pushes us down a path independent of all the excuses and externalities that may tug us one way or another.  This point of free will is the point where we truly define ourselves as people.  It is in this space that the internal struggle to overcome the obstacles is forged into the soul.  It’s not about the past or future.  This is the point of the now.  Right now I’m going to exercise.  Right now I’m going to eat right.  I don’t care about yesterday and tomorrow is a dream.  I am doing this now.  This is that moment that defines who we really are as human beings, whether its about weight loss, freeing ourselves from addiction, finding career success, improving our relationships, or any other aspect of our lives that is lacking in some way.

So for those of you trying to lose weight, it’s time to get going.  You’ll have to go into that space deep down where the will resides.  You’ll have to push through for the first few weeks.  You’ll be tired, sore, and a little hungry but you know it’s worth it.  Trust in the science and the physiology.  Trust me that you can do it.  Reach down there and make a change.  Let me know how it goes.

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9 thoughts on “The Root of Will

  1. Dan Grove,
    I really like your site, I believe in its goals, and I want it to keep growing and growing. It is for this reason that I have a critical suggestion.

    Your website broadcasts the following announcement:

    “Dedicated to giving you the truth about your weight and weight loss using peer-reviewed scientific journals and medical textbooks. No fads, no gimmicks, just truth. Don’t let ignorance stand in your way!”

    Allow me to voice my hesitation to this wording.

    1. “Don’t let ignorance stand in your way” sounds almost as if you’re telling your readers that they’re ignorant.

    2. I think that most people have a cynical reaction to anyone saying they have the truth. I imagine we have a more positive reaction to the word “accurate information”.

    3. The words “no fads, no gimmicks” sound like something a person would read in a magazine ad for a very faddy, gimmicky weight-loss plan.

    May I suggest something like:

    “Dedicated to giving you the accurate information about your weight and weight loss using only peer-reviewed scientific journals and medical textbooks.”

    (I added the word “only”, since anyone can ‘also’ use reputable sources.)

    Keep up the great writing!

    Torila

  2. “For some reason a light bulb goes off, a switch flips, something changes and, **instead of the usually (sic) pattern, they start down a different path**. This happened to a friend of mine recently. We had a long history of discussions about diet philosophies and exercise plans. He was well meaning and had tried various methods but nothing ever stuck. Then, for some reason, a few months ago everything changed. **Instead of talking, he started doing**.”

    The usual pattern almost *always* involves starting down a different path. You mean a path that actually works *long-term*. Also, almost *all* those seeking to lose weight “start doing instead of talking.” It’s just that they aren’t sticking with it. It wasn’t that your friend “started” doing, but that he “continued” doing. I bet the other people started “doing”, too. It’s just that their willpower didn’t last; it petered out before they reached the first hump.

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