Quitting – Unlearning Willpower

The thought that you can do anything, sustainably, with willpower has to be one of the biggest lies we have been told.

Eventually it will break. Some of us have more. Some of us have less. But all of what we have is finite.

If you tell yourself you are going to quit sodas, by drinking water, you can power through. Some of us for an hour. Some of us for a day, but at some point we give in to the temptation of the sweety goodness and we break. Oftentimes, when this happens, we declare to ourselves, “I suck at life.” and we go back to our old ways.  Because it is impossible.

In order to unlearn this bad habit of using willpower, we need to look at it a different way.

We will use soda as our example, because soda is my thing, but you can substitute anything you would like, candy, cigarettes, boys, whatever.

Chances are that your habit, is tied to your routine. So the first thing we have to do is deliberately disrupt your routine. With soda, this step was simple. I just stopped keeping it in the house. I had to go out to get it. Of course, eventually, I got to the point where I would build going out for soda into my routine, which is why it is just the first step. If you know there are snacks in the breakroom, go the other way. If you know you like to stop for something on the way home, take another route. If you know you buy Oreo’s if you shop while you are hungry, eat something before you go.

The second step is to build a new habit. This one worked a little better for me. I started keeping a bottle of water in my room and would drink that immediately upon waking. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as going out for a soda, but I couldn’t justify my trip with the excuse that I was thirsty. As I built up this new habit, my trips thru the drive thru in the morning became less frequent.

The third tip I have is to fill up on the good stuff early in the day. As I drank one bottle of water, then two, then three, I noticed that my soda run kept getting pushed further back in the day. It was barely even perceptible as I wasn’t dehydrated.

Finally, give yourself a hard window. You can make this window as wide as you would like. I tell myself if I am going to have a soda, it has to be under certain circumstances. I can have one at the movie if I must. I can only get them from the Whataburger near my house, and can only have them at lunch time. Do I ever break these rules? Absolutely. Do these rules have the deciding vote most days? Absolutely.

  1. Disrupt your routine.
  2. Built a new habit.
  3. Fill up on the good stuff.
  4. Build a window

If I can leave you with one thing, it would be this. You are a grown ass woman. You can do what you want, when you want. If you want a soda, drink it. Don’t make excuses. Don’t call it cheating. Don’t call it bad. Don’t say you are a horrible failure because you decided to have a soda. Know this. You DECIDED to have a soda and that is OK. Tomorrow you may decide not to have another. Do not blame PMS, or the kids, or Mercury. You are in charge of you. When you decide that being healthy is the most important thing in your life, you will choose soda less often.

Hope this helps.

Until next time,

Be awesome!!


I am Annie. I am a fitness and nutrition UNstructor. I help women unlearn the bad habits, bad science, and misleading marketing that is keeping them from reaching their health goals. Be sure to like us on Facebook. If you are a woman looking to unlearn what isn’t working for you, I invite you to join my private group.