It’s late January. It sure seems like weight loss is on everybody’s mind. I’ve had at least 75 discussions about losing weight these past couple weeks with members, friends, and relation

Most of these good people have a decent appreciation for what it’s going to take.

Unfortunately, some do not.

I could be silly TV shows like the Biggest Loser. Or could it be all those stories of folks who shed dozens of pounds with unsustainable approaches such as the juice-cleanse-kale-smoothie-keto-bacon-no-carb-low-carb-intermittent-belching-celery-soup diet???


Losing weight, particularly burning off excess fat while building lean muscle is challenging. But the formula is well established – it’s arithmetic, no more complicated than what we learned in third grade.

Straightforward. Inescapable.

We must expend more calories than we consume. 

But why is that so challenging to achieve? Why so difficult to sustain?

Regardless of what any expert might tell you there is only one thing you need to achieve sustained and rewarding weight loss. And that one thing is present in every one of us to some degree or another.

So, what is it?

It’s self-control. 

Sorry to deflate you with that bit of truth. But, yeah, self-control is the one thing that we all need to accomplish just about anything. And before you delete this note in disgust and discouragement, convinced that self-control just happens to be the one thing you lack most, allow me to encourage you with the thought that you do indeed have some, and could have it in abundance.

Unless we are complete hedonists, we practice self-control every day in many small ways.

Something as simple as getting up in the morning to get to work on time. You may hate your job and resent every minute of the day that you’re trapped there. But, you were on time today in spite of that.

Or it could have been that moment when you choked back a stream of expletives directed at the driver who cut you off in the rotary because of the impressionable little humans in car seats behind you.

We practice self-control throughout our day, every day. Even if you feel like you are completely devoid of it, I assure you that it’s there and you can tap into it.

You see, self-control is much like the muscles that we work so vigorously to develop. It grows and strengthens with use. The more we practice self-control, the stronger it becomes.

In my next post, I’ll expand upon this notion and offer what I hope will be some practical approaches any of us could take each day to begin developing more self-control.

A little challenge for you…

Meanwhile, because we began this discussion with some thoughts about weight loss, allow me to leave you with one little self-control challenge that I hope will help and encourage you to begin flexing those muscles…

This week, substitute water for any juice, soda, lemonade, or other sugary drink you might typically choose.

What impact could this have? Well, let’s consider a glass of orange juice with breakfast every morning. Orange juice is good for us, right?!?! Lots of vitamin C and all that. Well sure, orange juice does contain some valuable micronutrients. But it also includes a substantial amount of sugar. An 8-ounce glass has 26 grams of carbohydrates, 21 grams of sugar, and 111 kcals per 8 ounce serving.

Substituting water with your breakfast will eliminate 777 kcals from your weekly total. Over the course of an entire year, assuming that you don’t replace those calories with others, this substitution can remove over 40,000 calories from your diet. That could equate to over 11 lbs in fat loss! Seriously, 11 lbs!

But, let’s be clear about this…

Now, just a point of clarification… I am NOT saying that orange juice is bad for us and we shouldn’t drink it. Please understand that I am simply pointing out that a modest substitution such as water for OJ can remove a substantial number of calories from our diet, and they add up over time. You decide how OJ fits into your daily nutrition.

Good luck with this! Hit me back to let me know if you’re in! And let me know how it goes throughout the week.

Look for my next post – 10 Practical Steps to Build More Self-control. 


Paul Reilly

Paul is the Owner and Founder of MidStrong. He created MidStrong in 2017 to train men and women in midlife who are busy with work and family to build muscle and burn fat so they can look and feel better than they did in their 20’s. MidStrong is making Functional Fitness training safe and fun, and inclusive. He and his wife, Julie also own and operate MidStrong locally, their bricks and mortar business, previously called ACCELERATED Strength & Balance. It is a boutique fitness center specializing in training folks in and around Westborough through the challenges of midlife for more than five years.