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Discipline and Willpower

Discipline and Willpower

     Most people think the ability to lose extra weight is all about our willpower and sticking to a rigid and disciplined schedule.  The Truth...Not True.  Certainly, being able to stick with a plan and move through a journey to completion is essential, but mustering up all our energy and grinding ourselves to our desired weight is not necessary and in fact is counterproductive.
     I have lots of patients that tell me they have no willpower.  I tell them they are wrong. They have all the willpower they need to reach and stay at a healthy weight.  Next, I explain to them how I know they have enough willpower.  I ask them if they've ever graduated from school.  I ask if they've held a job, if they've been in a relationship, or raised a child.  If they've done any of these things or similar things in life, they have all the willpower required to drop the weight.
     It's too easy to lay blame at not having any willpower.  Now that we know everyone with a fully functioning brain has enough willpower, we can move on to how we accomplish our goal.  First, it's important to understand that what makes long term weight loss and maintenance so hard is that it is a disease.  We can't will away a disease.  We must take action to fight it, treat it, and put it into remission.
     Overweight disorder is a spectrum that begins with our genetic makeup.  Most of us inherited certain fat genes.  We didn't choose our family or our lineage.  We were dealt the cards and now we have to play them.  Some people inherited more of the fat genes than others.  A few got none.  Yes, they have Skinny genes.  This blueprint of how our  body grows, operates, functions, and confronts the environment is at the root of the Obesity and Overweight disorder.
     This foundation of genetics can be overcome.  Each person will demonstrate varying degrees of work and persistence needed to tamp down the fat genes' expression.  There are five core factors that determine whether we beat the fat genes or not.  These include our diet and nutrition, our physical activity,  healthy metabolic functions, optimal hormone functions, and psychological status.
     Since our weight is about what we eat, we must develop a healthy eating pattern that pays attention to what we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat.  Planning a diet with an emphasis on low calorie foods like vegetables, low sugar fruits, and lean meats along with portions of healthy fats sets the stage for weight reduction and maintenance.  Eating smaller servings throughout the day keeps us satisfied without overeating at a single or second meal.  Getting most of the daily total of calories before 5:00 or 6:00pm prevents excess fat production as our body winds down for sleep.
     Physical activity and exercise are about inches, tone, and fitness.  We don't lose weight from exercise but we create increased capacity and prime the machinery of our body to more efficiently burn our fuel.  Physical activity flushes inflammation from the body and increases oxygen utilization in our tissues and organs.  We breathe better, work better, move better, and even think better when we consistently get physical activity.
     Many of my patients complain of a slow metabolism.  For most we find that not to be the case, however a fully revved up and functional metabolism is important for weight reduction and health.  Our bodies are like power plants.  An electrical power plant doesn't create energy until the right ingredients are put into it.  To make energy, the proper fuel in the right amount, the correct amount of air or oxygen, and the needed fire at the right temperature to burn the fuel in its entirety without excess waste are required.  When this formula is used, high levels of energy are created at the power plant.
     In our body, the correct components are also needed before we generate energy.  We don't have energy, we make energy, just like the electric plant.  The right type of fuel at the correct amount is needed (the food we eat).  The machinery must be turned on (the exercise we do) and the body must be in a state where it can actually process the fuel into energy.  Getting our metabolic functions optimized is critical to this energy producing formula.
     None of the above will work well if we have deficiencies or abnormalities in our body hormones.  Making sure that thyroid, insulin, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are circulating at appropriate levels is key.  Good hormone function is like the lighter fluid on a charcoal fire.  You can start it with just a match, but the lighter fluid ignites the burn.  In our bodies, proper hormone function ignites the fire to burn our fuel thoroughly and efficiently.

     Finally,  our psychological status plays a large role in getting leaner and more fit.  We can't change our weight until we change our thinking.  If we are stress eaters, or have some limiting beliefs about ourselves and our abilities, we may struggle to get the weight down and keep it down.  Learning about ourselves is not an easy task.  Our mind plays games with us to protect us from pain.  On the other hand it may keep us in pain by setting unrealistic ideas about our weight and our ability to control it.  Getting on a brain training project with regard to food, diet, activity, and self worth and confidence is vital to the treatment of Overweight Syndrome.
     We must establish a routine that takes away the need to "gut it out" with willpower and discipline.  Making these 5 core factors so important that we establish daily plans and routines will allow for a much easier approach to the lifetime treatment and control of our body fat and body weight.
     For more information or a copy of my free book go to
Dr. Gregory Oliver Dr. Gregory Oliver has practiced family medicine for 35 years. He has assisted thousands of patients to become healthier and combat illness and disease. He believes that prevention of disease is the key to a long and active life. In recent years, Dr. Oliver has focused on prevention of disease and weight reduction to achieve optimal health. The disease of Obesity and Overweight Syndrome is responsible for so many other medical disorders and a shorter life, and can be treated, managed, and put into remission with focus on 5 key treatment areas. Dr. Oliver is glad to provide weekly information to help you improve your health.

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