Despite our Aristotelian belief that we humans are rational creatures, much of our decision-making is based on emotion rather than reason. You know you’re not supposed to eat cookies, but they make you feel better, or your doctor told you to start exercising to lower your blood pressure or risk a heart attack, but the couch keeps calling your name. Time and time again, emotion based habits override logic and reason; you know that donut is bad for you and you know you’re not supposed to eat it, but you do anyways. The power of instinct and emotion need not be opposed to your fitness goals. If properly focused, your emotional self can be a powerful motivator to achieving your health and fitness goals.
It all begins with a simple question; why? Why do you want to exercise? Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to start going to the gym? These seem like simple questions. (To look better and feel better of course!) But these are just superficial responses, the real why is often much deeper, and reaching that deeper why is key to achieving meaningful and lasting change in your health.
Let’s take a client named “Linda” as an example. In speaking with Linda about her motives for starting a new fitness program, Linda explained that she wanted to lose some weight. This is a general aspiration that many of us profess, but rarely achieve, so it is important to dig to the deeper why to create lasting change. When asked why she wanted to lose weight Linda explained that her doctor had warned her that her current weight had put her in the risk zone for type II diabetes and heart disease. This is scary news, but many of us often dismiss the doctor’s advice; just think about how many times the dentist has reminded you to floss. Digging deeper, I asked Linda why the prospect of diabetes and heart disease were so shocking. She explained that her daughter was expecting her first grandchild and the doctor’s news made her fearful that she would live long enough or be physically healthy enough to be a part of this child’s life. This was Linda’s true why, her most genuine answer to the question of “why do you want to lose weight.” Linda wanted to get her health in order so that she could play with her grandchild and be around to see that child grow up. It’s hard to think of a more powerful why!
The road to better health and fitness is littered with obstacles. Think of all the excuses you’ve made before, “I’m too tired to go the gym, I’ll just go tomorrow, or I know I shouldn’t eat this pizza but I’ll get back on my diet tomorrow.” If your why is weak then it will be difficult to overcome these day-to-day challenges to you goals.
Before you embark on the road to a healthier and fitter you, start by asking why is this important to you? Then ask why again, and again until you find the root motivation behind the change you seek. This why will be the motivation you can turn to when challenged. Grounding yourself in this powerful why when faced with those cookies in the break room, or finding the motivation to get to class after a long day at work will be key to long term success towards your goal. Once you find this why write it down and post it somewhere you look everyday, perhaps on a bathroom mirror or your dashboard or even make it the background of your phone. This will stand as a power visual reminder of your purpose on this journey. Go forth and find your why!
Master Coach for Made By Fitness LLC