the power of willpower


In advance, forgive me for my philosophical, introspective pieces. As we enter a fresh New Year I have decided to ditch the resolutions but to focus on self improvement. Baby steps. I start with willpower.

Willpower. It's not a word that's often found in my vocabulary. It's not one of my strengths. In fact, I oftentimes think I have less than most. I too easily give into temptation. I am too easily swayed by my own cravings and desires. My mother has incredible willpower. She is very focused. I seem to be lacking that gene. I'm the impulsive one. I'm the one who puts it off until tomorrow. I'm the one who too often thinks it's too hard to try... or too hard to try to see through to the end.  It's a fear of failure. But what I never realized is that not trying is really the ultimate failure. 

When it comes to my writing and my photography I give it my best. I work hard at these crafts, and I am constantly honing my skills. I expect the best. I expect better than the best. And then when it comes to those stubborn 5 pounds I seem not to have that same determination. The skinny jeans or the pasta? The pasta often wins. The skinny jeans or the glass of red wine? The red wine often wins. The skinny jeans or the chocolate? The chocolate often wins. The pasta, the red wine and the chocolate have been winning for a while now. And for a while I've been wanting to do something about it. I finally buckled down. And I went cold turkey. For me that means doing without. I cannot vacillate between the have and the have not. I simply cannot have. I cannot have a piece of bread, a small bowl of pasta, a cookie, a potato chip. I want more. If I do without, however, I can. It's not about denial. It's about weakness. It's about strength.

After a couple of days I feel great. It's not just about the food. It's about the discipline. It's about the control - It's about my control. Because so much in my life is out of my hands. Willpower isn't just about that, but about determination and hard work. It's that steadfast focus to see something to the end. To complete a project. To accomplish. To win. To succeed. Success doesn't come to those who sit on the couch and neither does a healthy lifestyle. Willpower is about sticking with something no matter how hard it gets. It's about getting to the gym when you really don't want to go. It's about not making excuses... I'm too busy. I can't. I don't have the time.

Bullshit. (I know, I can be the Queen of Excuses.)

When there's a will there's a way. Quit making excuses.

Willpower is about so much, and it's about the food. It's about discovering or re-discovering new ways of nourishing yourself, physically and emotionally. It's about moving away from the unhealthy choices and the things and the foods that you enjoy but don't necessarily agree with you. It's about rediscovering flavors and textures. It's about going back to basics. We are rediscovering our taste buds and learning that the foods found in nature have the most incredible flavors. Back to basics. Less is more. With fashion, with decor, with food, with life. Less is more. For everything, less is more.

And yet it's hard. Less is hard. We want abundance. We want overabundance. We want indulgence. We want overindulgence. We want excess. And then we feel terrible. 

I found a head of cauliflower in the vegetable drawer and decided I would have it for lunch. One of my favorite ways to cook it is to lightly cover it with olive oil and sea salt and bake it until it gets a nice light to golden brown. (About 25-30 minutes in 350 degrees.) As I was eating my cauliflower I marveled at how flavorful this simple food was and how our taste buds often get inundated and then become underwhelmed when they eat food in its natural state. It wasn't a cauliflower but perhaps the most delicious cauliflower I have ever eaten. Olive oil, Salt. Less is more.  It wasn't about deprivation. I wasn't trying to deprive myself of a thing. I didn't feel deprived. In fact it was quite the opposite. I was rediscovering something I had been missing.

Willpower is not about denial but empowering oneself.