WHENpower vs WILLpower for Eating Giant Malt Balls and Weight Loss on an Unrestricted Diet


I tell people (and teach clients) to NEVER rely on willpower to stay with your weight loss plan.  It can be a confusing concept for lifelong dieters who are sure they have to suffer and sacrifice to reach their  goals, so I’m always looking for good examples to help explain it, and I just thought of a new one:

Use WHENpower instead!

Last night provided a great example, so I though I’d share it:

As you can see from the pic above, we’ve got a little candy in the house these days, and about 11 O’clock last night, when this picture was taken, a massive craving for those mega giant malt balls came calling my name.  The cocoa powdered almonds and chocolate covered pretzels also chimed in.

Here was my thought process from start to finish – for a beginner in the world of timing these thoughts focusing on time can take a few minutes and be tedious — for me after 7 years these thoughts flashed through my mind in a few seconds:

Thought 1 “I’m REALLY craving those giant malt balls!”

Thought 2 “Well don’t fight the craving–that will end in disaster!  But, before you dive in, ask yourself if will it be worth it to eat them right now (current time frame) and start your new week off (focus on different time frame) with additional weight gain by changing your timing plan?”

Thought 3 “Why yes! It actually does feel like it would be worth it at the moment. I can make adjustments through the week to make up for the weight gain”

Thought 4 “Okay, if you need it, eat it and be happy! How many can you enjoy and be satisfied without feeling horribly guilty for eating them at this unplanned time?”

Thought 5 “3-4 is probably what I’d eat, but I can’t kid myself and say they would satisfy me. Candy never does — It’s always a “road to nowhere for me”.  I eat some, enjoy the taste, and then just want some more.”

That last thought immediately lessened the craving.  I can eat that candy (or anything else) whenever I want, in whatever portion I want. My diet plan is completely unrestricted. However in the end, this TIME,  I didn’t truly WANT the candy.

I was simply mistaking an old habit “hey, there’s candy in the house, I should eat it whenever an urge hits!” with actually WANTING to find the best times to enjoy some candy while managing my weight, fitness and health.

By thinking about WHEN I would enjoy the candy the most, while realizing eating a few pieces wouldn’t satisfy me, and eating a ton of it would actually make me miserable on many levels at 11 oclock last night, I didn’t need a strong WILL to pass on it.  I just realized I didn’t truly want it—-at that time.

I used WHENpower instead of WILLpower.

But let’s be clear: I’ll be eating that candy (if my wife doesn’t get to it first!)  It’s just a matter of WHEN I’ll be enjoying it most!

So, what have we learned here about WHENpower vs WILLpower?  I’ll share three answers that I’ve found to be true after 7 years of focusing on WHEN vs WILL:

  1. I’m enjoying the anticipation of the candy I’ll be eating soon right now.
  2. I’ll actually enjoy eating the candy in about 3 hours.
  3. Sometimes the answer to when is EAT IT NOW!  And that’s fine!! I always enjoy the thought that I can eat candy whenever I WANT it, I just need to practice identifying when I truly want it and can enjoy it most in the context of my weekly timing plan for weight loss and fitness vs a random impulse to just eat it that will be anything but enjoyable or satisfying.

I’ll also add the built in motivation to bring exercise timing into my plan without forcing myself to exercise.  I know awesome candy is waiting on the other side of the workout, and I want to prime my metabolism for it, but that’s another discussion about WHENpower for another day.

NOTE: This information is in no way a recommendation to attempt a diet of any sort–it’s for information and education purposes only. Readers assume all risk with their weight loss and fitness efforts–See disclaimer below for more.

  Questions?  Contact us at  eetfit@gmail.com     

disclaimer oct 2012

c 2015 EET Fitness Inc.  All Rights Reserved


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