As a nutritionist and trainer, health is a subject of discussion that comes up for me on the regular, and a theme that's been recurring more often than usual for me lately has been motivation. Specifically, how to hang on to it and why it can be such a bitch to keep around.
Oh, you thought it was just you? Lol....noooo.
There are a dozen reasons people fall off the health wagon, but one of the biggies is what I call misunderstood motivation.
Let me give you some background. Many, many people -and this is an observation, not a judgement- want to lose weight simply for the sake of losing weight. We live in a society that puts an incredible amount of pressure on women (and men) to look a certain way in order to be considered attractive and I can almost guarantee you that this has found its way into your subconsciousness over the years. Think about the daily bombardment you receive: billboards and advertisements and TV shows and movies that all feature “attractive” people- 99.5% of whom have a very specific body type. You literally can’t drive down the street or open a magazine or watch TV without being exposed to it. To reinforce this, there’s a massive weight loss industry spending literally 60 billion dollars a year to make sure you’re constantly reminded of the thousands of products out there promising that you too, can be as thin as those beautiful people in the ads.
Spend a little time thinking about that and you’ll probably agree that it’s no surprise that our reflexive reaction is to want to fit in to this standard. And trust me when I say that if you’ve ever felt pressure to simply lose weight without giving it much further thought, I’m not judging you.
But as you know, I do like to make you think.
In my experience as a health advocate, one thing has become crystal clear to me: losing weight for the sake of losing weight is not enough motivation to support sustainable, long term change. (which is why I consider "fitting in my college jeans" misplaced) Significant change requires a purpose - not just pressure or an idle desire to look a certain way. Yes, you can try to override true motivation with discipline but without a true, authentic, meaningful purpose, motivation will be fleeting. Discipline alone doesn’t offer purpose, and I don’t believe that anyone out there has ever found true purpose via fitting into a society-imposed standard.
Babes, you have to get deeper than that if you want to really go for it. When I work with clients in a group or one-on-one, one of the very first things I do with them is an exercise that helps uncover their true motivation to improve their health. It’s called Your Big Why.
I actually came across this practice from a real estate convention years ago, but it was effective enough to motivate me to sell houses, so I figured it must work for anything. I tested it out with a health coaching group I was running and found that it translates really well into almost any area of life - #healthgoals included.
The process is simple but what I love about this exercise is that the outcome is something you plug into emotionally. It takes you well beyond “I want a smaller ass” and helps you find a true, authentic purpose for improving your health. It’s not something that just inspires you either; I'm willing to bet you’ll uncover something that resonates with your soul, something that you can come back to when you experience that loss of focus. ((*sidenote: you may notice that I keep referring to “improving your health” over “losing weight.” That’s part of the mindset work I do with my clients, as I believe it’s much easier to come up with reasons to improve your health as opposed to just taking up less space. Don’t believe me? Try this exercise around “being healthy” and then try it around “being skinny” and you’ll see exactly what I mean.))
Want to take Your Big Why for a test drive? No problem - here’s how it works.
[Step 1] Begin by answering the following question: What is important to me about improving my health?
[Step 2] Re-read you answer to that question. Maybe your answer is “I want to have more energy” or “I want to feel good enough to show up for my life each day” or “I want to set an example for my kids/ mom/ sister”
[Step 3] Now ask yourself “What about (your answer to Question 1) is important to me? Ask in those exact words - don’t change them even a little. There’s psychology behind them, just go with it.
[Step 4-8] Ask the same question (What about X is important to me?) based on the most previous answer a total of 5-7 times - try and get to 7! You really have to dig and that’s about how many times it takes to pull off the surface stuff and find something with real grit. Pay attention to answers 5,6, and 7: those are the ones that count. Write it out, make it sound good, and tape it somewhere easily accessible.
Questions / comments / excited by what you find out? Post it here, or PM me. Happy digging!