What’s Your Why for Transforming your Health and Fitness?
Why are you here? What’s your “Why?”
Without any context, that’s an existential question. In my last post, The Secret to Lifelong Health and Fitness, I asked you to consider your current health and fitness challenges. If you’re not happy with your quality of health or fitness, there could be a conflict between what you value and what you’re prioritizing in life.
To affect change, or to create the best environment in which changing will be easier, you need to know why you want to make that change. In this case, you need to know WHY you want to improve your health, fitness, and wellness.
Quick question: have you ever said something like, “I think I should start eating better and working out. I need to drop some weight.”
How did that work out for you? Did making a generic statement like that compel you to change? If it didn’t then please keep reading.
This isn’t a miracle cure-all, one process works for everyone solution. However, I’ve done the “5 Why’s Exercise” with clients and myself several times, and have found it incredibly powerful and revealing.
The 5 Why’s Exercise
Let’s use an example. Imagine that I’m sitting across from you and I say, “So why is it that you want to improve your health?” You might say something like, “Well, coming up this summer one of my best friends is getting married and I would like to, you know, fit into a dress size that’s two sizes smaller.”
If you’re a guy you might say, “I’m feeling a little paunchy around my stomach and I don’t want my buddies to make fun of me. I want to tone up a bit. Maybe lose 10 to 15 pounds.” That’s a good answer, right? But is it compelling? Will you be motivated to not eat dessert, or to skip that super-rich dinner out, or pass on the French fries? Will you have the willpower? Will that WHY give you the drive to make a health plan and execute on it?
Probably not, and that’s okay. I’ll ask you another question. “Why do you want to lose that 10 to 15 pounds?” Or, “Why do you want to drop two dress sizes?” This is the second WHY question. The process is to ask why of your last answer. Notice how I reframed the initial answers: “Why do you want to drop two dress sizes?” And, “Why do you want to lose ten pounds around your waist? “
You might have to think about your next answer. “Well I’ve got all these great clothes in my closet, but I’ve had to buy new ones, because I put on weight. I hate spending money on clothes I don’t want to wear. I want to go back to wearing the clothes that fit me.”
Getting to the deeper, compelling reasons for change.
The next question I’d ask is, “Why do you want to fit into these clothes that are two dress sizes smaller?” Or, “Why do you want to drop your pants size from a 36 to a 34 waist?”
At this point you still might have a simple response. “Well I know that if I lost that 10 pounds I would feel better about myself and I would probably have a bit more energy to play with my kids.” Or, “I would feel more sexually attractive to my partner. You know this is kind of personal, but I take my clothes off and I don’t like what I see in the mirror.”
Here are two more responses, both real answers from clients:
“You know my dad had type 2 diabetes. When he stopped caring about his health everything started to decline and he never came back from that. I don’t want to go there.” Or, “My doctor told me if I don’t make changes to my health I’m months away from becoming pre-diabetic.”
Those are great examples of a deeper, compelling, and more meaningful WHY. Can you feel the difference now, compared to the first responses?
These are the deeper reasons that create the space, or the potential for change and transformation. When you have a meaningful WHY – it might give you tingles – you can create powerful feelings that will motivate you to take action on your WHY.
Clients have said to me, “Wow, I wouldn’t have thought that was the reason I wanted to do this, but now I feel compelled.”
The next step in the secret to lifelong health and fitness is the WHAT, i.e. what do you need to do to achieve your why, your meaningful reason for making change.
Do this simple exercise
Before you move on to the “next thing to do today”, do the 5 Why’s Exercise for yourself.
Ask, “Why?” “Why do I want to [whatever it is that you’re struggling with].”
If you want to lose weight, something like, “Why do I want to lose X amount of pounds?” Or, “Why do I want to start working out?”
Then ask WHY of your answer. You might get a compelling answer in four, five, or six questions, but once you’ve got that answer, write it down. You’ll know, because you’ll feel it’s your truth.
In the next post, I’ll discuss what you need to do, based on your WHY, to put an action plan into place that you’ll feel compelled to follow.