Free will and losing weight, what’s the connection? It’s great to know what diet will help you lose weight, what nutrition to follow, how many calories to eat in order to trigger fat loss, what supplement to take, all good, but if you cannot will yourself to eat healthy and follow a winning strategy to restore your health and then thrive physically, all this will be useless.
Some people talk about discipline, but If you have free will, what is the need for discipline, you just do it.
Willing yourself to create a healthy lifestyle means taking over all your nutritional habits and starting from scratch, fresh. This is where free will comes into play. The gist of the video is simple and crisp.
If you believe, 1000% that you have free will, that you are in control of your actions everyday, losing weight and getting in top shape will be easy for you. You can finish watching this video and prove to yourself that you have free will, or at least, you have the capacity, the power to shift control to your side.
With free will, once you decide to lose weight or get in top shape, you can will yourself to learn what you need to learn, find the right information and apply it. You can do it all.
I have always been interested in philosophy and mind science, which lead me to this mental approach to fitness and nutrition. Because it all starts in the mind, that’s step one. Back when I was in college and starting reading books, this idea of free will was exciting to me. I would challenge myself to do things outside my comfort zone, just to prove to myself how much free will I had.
And I keep practicing this muscle. It became a weapon to motivate myself at will. If I want to do something, no need for inspiration anymore, if you think you have free will, what motivation do you need, you just go out there and will yourself to just…do it.
Today, I still do unusual stuff to check my will power, going for 5 miles run at 11 pm, waking myself up at 3 am to meditate for an hour and go back to sleep, taking cold showers. I’m not doing these things just to prove myself I have free will but it does show what degrees of control I have over my mind If I decide to do something.
How much coherence do you have within what you say you are going to do and your ability to will yourself to do it? Some people say they will lose weight, gain muscle, and it’s all talk, fast forward six, eight months, nothing has been done, where is their free will?
So when you start to think and read about free will, from the latest research in neuroscience, behaviorism to philosophy and even religion, you realize the topic of free will is pretty complex than most people think.
At this moment in time, science, especially mind science, points to the fact that we as humans don’t have free will. It’s more complex, the question of free will is about degrees of free will. The belief that some people have full free will is a complete illusion.
Every action you take consciously is made prior to your decision. In other words, the majority of actions we take originate in our subconscious selves, and milliseconds later, we become aware of them at the surface of the mind and act them up. But there is more to it.
From my experience helping people lose weight and get in top shape, I have to agree that the majority of people looking to lose weight and get fit out there are not in control of their actions. Which sounds weird right, you are not in control of your actions, what does it mean, does it mean you are a robot or zombie?
Not having free will means that some of your actions in life are highly influenced by your past actions, habits and genetics, combined with the environment around you. Those four forces can completely annihilate any amount of free will you might have.
As I said earlier, think of free will in degrees, how much power of will do you have over your actions vs these 4 forces, your environment, genetics, habits and previous actions imprinted in your mind?
Some people have the ability to decondition themselves when needed, to shift the direction their lives are heading, once they realize that, you know what, this is not working for me, it’s not making my life better, I need to change my lifestyle or habits or start doing something else.
How many times have you heard this phrase, you are a product of your environment or, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This highlights the power of your culture, your surroundings and your genetics in influencing your actions every day. If these influences are helping you be better, healthier and happier, wonderful, that’s great, but when it’s not the case, do you have enough will to take over?
We all know countless examples of people who break free and move the GPS of their lives in some other direction.
Now, let’s focus for a moment on the effect of habits on our free will. When it comes to losing weight, going to the gym consistently, staying away from unhealthy food, cooking healthy food, they are all actions we have to take if we want to be fit and healthy…and in the beginning, those actions have to take priority over previous habits many of us might have.
So in order to increase your free will, you have to show that you can deactivate past eating habits and start afresh. You have to start eating and living like you are not used to in order to improve your health, fitness and well being. This is the first big step to increase your degree of free will.
If habits you want to change dominates you, what free will do you have? You are the footprints in a book, and the bulk of the book are your habits, they run your life.
How many people we know who are always looking to get back in shape, but it’s only hope, every time they try it, they fail. This happens partly because they lack the strength to stop unhealthy habits and start afresh. Their degree of free will need to increase.
When I’m coaching people to lose weight, I pay a lot of attention to how they speak, I want them to develop verbal awareness, to see the connection between how they speak and how this affects their capacity to increase free will and will power instead of a victim mindset.
And many times, I hear people talking about losing weight or gaining muscle like it’s a war, a battle. People say, I’m struggling to lose weight, or tomorrow, I will go off in the gym, beast mode, or It’s so hard to lose weight, to fight off urges, temptation.
What these statements are really saying is this…you are in a battle, your will power is fighting off ingrained habits and desire to eat unhealthy and be inactive.
And neuro-science agrees with this. Habits, tendencies, our desires, our inner drives, all these are located into our subconscious and unconscious mind. And very few people have access to those hard drives deep in the mind.
On a daily basis, we are only conscious of what’s going on at the surface of the mind.
So consciously, you can say, I want to lose weight, I need to eat healthy and exercise, but subconsciously, you deeply desire to eat unhealthy food and relax, laying back is more important to you, deep down you may be hating exercising and eating healthy.
So this inner battle is between your conscious self vs your shadow, your subconscious self. And studying about the mind, one learns that the part of our mind we are aware of, is the tip of the iceberg, only 10%. Your subconscious and unconscious self is 90% of your mind.
So this can look like a battle you cannot win. Because habits are automatic, they make us act in a flash, so fast. For instance, you want to really eat healthy but today, you are super hungry, passing by a McDonald’s, you remember the food inside and before you know it, you just ate a big mac and some fries. What just happened is that your subconscious took over, your habits, built over your whole life took the driver seat.
For some people, they feel the urge, the gut feeling, the temptation to eat unhealthy even though they say they want to eat healthy. But when the temptation to eat unhealthy arises, they rationalize with logic and reasoning why they are now eating unhealthy. It’s a way to stay sane, to be in agreement with your subconscious selves. To not admit that your habits and emotions are controlling you.
And I’m not even talking about the power of your generic, which also influences the decisions you make every day. So become fully aware that your capacity to exercise your free will is constantly challenged by genetics, which is evolution, and your habits, which you have built your entire life.
Coupled with this, we are also under the influence of people around us. The environment, our parents, friends and culture want to assert control over our free will too, for better or worse.
We all know a teacher out there who influenced our lives in a major way, or a friend, or a family member, but the reverse is also true, bad influence is all around us, on tv, social media, in our family, friendship and the culture at large.
So putting free will in this context, you get to realize what Buddhism has been saying for thousands of years, life is interdependent.
We arrive in the world through a process of causation, it’s like jumping into a moving train, or better yet, a boat, and we can’t deny the fact that our genetic environment and life around us will influence the trajectory this boat is heading.
Then as we grow up, we become aware that we have the power to decide in what direction our lifeboat is going. Some people are able to gradually, inch by inch change the direction their life is heading. And as they move into a new direction, new habits develop which in turn will influence their actions every day.
It’s a loop. If you make a bad action over and over, after a while, you are most likely to keep doing it…and if you start eating healthy today, and again tomorrow and the next day, your habits will start working in your favor, it will become automatic.
The only way to change your subconscious mind is by stopping actions at the surface, before you do them and send this message back to your subconscious mind to be remembered.
This is very important to understand. Your subconscious mind, where habits and your deep desires are located, is at first like a virgin, untouched wild forest. Actually, it’s not so fresh, because as you come into the world, some trail paths have been laid down by your genetics. This predetermines some actions you will take in life.
Then every action you start to take is like building a new trail path in your mind, from your conscious to subconscious all the way to your DNA. Everything you do, taste, listen, think and read gets memorized and imprinted in this forest of your mind.
So next time you face similar situations in life, your mind will take the same path you may have taken in the past because a trail has been established before, a route in the forest of your mind. This is why it feels so uncomfortable to stop your habits, even when they don’t serve you well.
It’s also uncomfortable to start acting differently because you are setting a new path in the forest of your mind. You are going into an uncharted area. It’s way easier to go down the road you took before.
Which leads us to the biggest mental weapon we humans possess, awareness. There are many tools you can use to take control of your mind and emotions, but awareness is the biggest.
For more than 10,000 years, meditation has been taught in Asian cultures and now all over the world because it’s the practice that helps us develop inner awareness, becoming aware of our thoughts, mood and mental state. It’s like turning on a lamp torch in the darkness of the mind.
You don’t need to practice meditation to develop your power of awareness but it will help greatly if you want to increase your will power.
Neuroscience agrees with this, our desires, motivations and habits are all stored and programs at the subconscious level, where we don’t have access. But when a thought, a desire, bubbles up from the subconscious, up to the surface of the mind, for a few moments, right before we act them out, we have the power to pause and reflect, to pause and think, Is this action good, is saying this the right move, is eating this good for me.
Right there, it’s the moment where you can exert your free will. Awareness, being aware of your mind, alert and watchful is what enables you to do this and increases your free will, to not be under the dictatorship of your emotions, habits, genetics and environment.
This is why you hear the word mindful a lot today, it’s another word for awareness. Because if you are forgetful of your priorities and goals, unhealthy habits can take over at any moment.
Being aware of how your habits, desires and thoughts bubble up to the surface of your mind, you create gaps in your mind that allow you to greenlight your actions, this is what being in the present means, you are living life in manual mode, fully present and alert.
So to finish, free will is not about having complete free will or not having any, it’s a matter of degree because everything we do obey the law of cause and effect. At a macro level, it’s a universe where everything influences everything,
And at a micro level, our genetic, past habits and environment also exert some amount of influence in our action and vice versa…But the great power of awareness, being alert is what helps you increase your degree of free will. Hence some people call it waking up, wake up.
It’s up to you, thank you