The Problem with Willpower

Coach Elaina talks about willpower, and why it’s not our only tool for success.

Article by Elaina Wang | 26 Mar, 2021

I am sure you're very familiar with the term will power, but what exactly does it mean? According to most psychologists, willpower can be defined as:

  • The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals
  • The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling, or impulse
  • The ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system
  • Conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self
  • A limited resource capable of being depleted

Read that last bullet one more time!

This is the Problem with Willpower

As we start off on a new journey to health, we tend to get nervous but also excited. Our willpower tank is full and ready to go! As we are faced with difficult choices and peer pressure, we use our willpower to get through. However, if will power is your only line of personal defense, eventually we hit that last bulletpoint and it becomes depleted. 

Sadly, this is when we see people starting to take bites here and there, and cheat meals turn to cheat days. Suddenly, they've fallen off the keto train.  

So What Can You Do

I suggest using pride. Being proud of myself has taken me through many challenges in life. When I first started my journey to a better life and health, I was frequently faced with challenging moments. I was giving up multiple addictions all at once, including food!

Initially, I used social media to help me get through day to day and quickly found how good it felt to be told someone was proud of me. As time went, on I started to learn to be proud of myself instead of seeking outside validation. 

Years ago, I commissioned my be proud board; it's a small wooden sign painted with my favorite colors and, of course, glitter! It reads, "Be Proud," and over the years I've added small touches to it, like reminders of accomplishments and small quotes that hit me hard. I keep it in plain view, as it's my constant reminder. 

I often tell people, "Make choices to be proud of. Pride feels better than regret."

Let that sink in for a bit! When you are proud of something you will fight to keep it going strong. When you're regretful it's easier to keep going in the wrong direction.  Be humble, kind, and proud! This is one way we can avoid depleting our precious willpower in our day to day choices instead of saving it up for when we need it most, in the hard moments.

Every hard moment, every successful choice, learn to be proud of it. Purposefully seek out your non scale victories and celebrate them with pride. 


Elaina Wang is a diabetic in recovery and a Ketogenic Lifestyle Coach for many years.


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