The Battle Of The Wills

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Ah willpower, such a tricky word for most of us.  We see someone staying strong amidst the buffet of sweet and savory foods and we think damn, they have such strong willpower!  Meanwhile, we are struggling hard to not take a nose dive smack dab in the middle of all the food.

Let me paint you a picture of temptation that surrounds food.

Hi!  My name is Julie and I have no willpower!  I am attending a holiday party for my work and I am seriously struggling with all the wonderful gourmet foods on the buffet.  My co-worker Sarah never seems to have this problem and she has the strongest willpower of anyone I know!!

I am feeling so anxious right now being around all this food. I tell myself, I am going to just have a little plate and be done! I grab a small plate and choose a few options. O.M.G. that was delicious but I can’t go back for more right now, I’ll look like a piggy.

Next thing I know I am literally stalking the buffet!  I grab a medium size plate and fill it up.  I scarf it down quickly because I saw a few more things that I want to try. Next thing I know I am eating my last bite at the buffet and loading up on more.  Who cares what’s going on around me at the party, all I can think about is not missing out on food!!

I started the buffet with caution and ended with full obsession. While everyone else is talking and laughing I am now feeling miserable with everything I ate.  Bloated, tired and I just want to go home.

Looking back on the evening, I realize I missed out on so much fun because I was so obsessed over the buffet. And now I feel so horrible because of everything I ate and my stomach is in major distress.

I think about Sarah, she had one plate of food.  That’s it, one plate!!  I don’t understand how she does it?  I am not even sure why I ate half of what I did,  some of the food wasn’t that enjoyable!  I really have to be stronger next time!

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Have you ever found yourself in Julie’s situation?  

I know I have and I know exactly how her raging stomach felt.  But also I know very well of the feeling of disappointment she had in herself.

The difference between Julie who feels she has no willpower and Sarah who seems to have ironclad willpower is self-awareness and moderation.

Sarah has also been in Julie’s shoes, she has walked her walk many times.  Sarah decided that she didn’t like how she felt powerless over food and started to seek out ways to help her overcome the struggle.

Sarah began to realize that food is just food, some taste wonderful and others not so much.  She began to practice awareness each time she was faced with too many options.  She evaluated the food and decided which ones she most likely would not enjoy and only focused on the foods she knew she’d love.

From there she began to practice sampling a little bit of each food with only one plate.  She set a one plate rule and anything she loved could be on that one plate.

Once her plate was filled, she sat and enjoyed every bite that she took.  If something didn’t really satisfy her taste buds then she didn’t have another bite of it.  And if she felt full before her plate was empty she stopped eating.

She stayed present and mindful of how each bite felt to her and fully allowed herself to enjoy her food.  She practiced and practiced until she felt extremely confident going into any situation knowing she could enjoy herself and not leave feeling guilty or miserable with her choices.

What Julie didn’t see was all the practice Sarah had done prior to knowing her.  Sarah didn’t make this decision and then nail it from the get go.  She struggled with piling everything on her one plate at first.  Sometimes the one plate did turn into two.  But Sarah just kept practicing and over time, everything started coming together for her.

The next day at work still feeling down on herself, Julie mentioned to Sarah that she has amazing willpower and she is super jealous of her.

Ah, Sarah knew exactly how Julie felt and decided to share her story with her.  Not only was Julie shocked that Sarah once struggled too but felt so touched that Sarah would not only share her story but also her “secrets” of everything that helped her in the process.

Julie’s biggest ah-ha moment was that it is a constant practice and that even to this day Sarah still practices. This gave Julie much hope and she began her own journey of practice, becoming more self-aware and eating more mindfully.


Give this much thought before the holiday parties kick in.  Start practicing now with each meal to get the distinct feeling of being satisfied, not stuffed and not feeling guilty or shameful.

Visualize how you see yourself in control over the food and/or drinks. Remember, you need to allow yourself to enjoy the party, so don’t go in thinking you will be super restrictive with yourself.  That never works out well.

Allow yourself to only have the things you know you will thoroughly enjoy and visualize stopping at a point you will be happy with.  And when you leave the party feeling satisfied, happy and no guilt, please give yourself a fist bump and watch it implode :)!  Or a pat on the back, whichever you prefer.  The point is to celebrate your win!

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