– “I want to lose 10 kgs.”
– “Because my doctor has advised me to lose 10 kgs, do some exercise and watch my diet.”
– “Because my blood test is bad, cholesterol, uric acid, pre-diabetes.”
– WHY are you so determined now?
– “Because I´m terrified that my kids might grow up without a dad. I feel scared, I feel worried, I feel sad but I also feel determined to change this.”
This was part of the first assessment conversation with John. Most fitness articles you´ll find focus on “how” to do/achieve something. The “why” is often left behind. Is the “why” important?
Your fitness why is the deepest reason you want to achieve any goal. The deepest emotions and feelings why you want to make this change. The sooner you realize it´s the most important question you need to answer, the better. Your why is the reason you will change the way you eat, what gets you to the gym, it is your motivator and it enables you to push yourself more than you have ever done before.
Make no mistake, your why is not simply motivation. It is much more, it is purpose.
At a press conference, Michael Jordan wryly responded to a journalist: “I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.” Nobody works out to find out what it feels like.
Have you found yourself saying or thinking these things?
- “I have tried so many times, but I don’t see results, so I stop”
- “I need to work out, but don´t have time…”
- “I can’t seem to stay (or get) motivated”
- “It is too hard to eat right…”
You may think it´s a lack of motivation. But let´s dig a little deeper. Have you asked yourself why you want to work out/eat healthily? Have you found your why?
When thinking about your health and fitness, first ask yourself why it is important for you. You need to find your real emotional reason. For instance, a “losing weight” goal needs an emotional driver behind it to determine that it is important enough to achieve and maintain. On your fitness journey, you will go through peaks, valleys, and plateaus. It´s a bumpy journey for what you need to often remember why you embarked on this journey in the first place.
Pain avoiding or pleasure-seeking?
Jeremy Bentham said: “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.”
Spoiler alert: In its simplest form, all decisions that human beings make are to either avoid pain or to gain pleasure.
John is a textbook example of pain avoiding client. He wants to avoid health problems and will do anything to change his bad habits. As a personal trainer, my job is to help him with this transition, making it doable, even enjoyable when possible.
– “I want to lose 10 kgs.”
– “Because after having my first child, I can´t go back to my previous weight, with which I was happy.”
– WHY are you so determined?
– “I want to be fit, healthy, and full of energy, and to know I´m there as a positive, healthy role model to my children.”
This was Karla, looking forward to losing weight for a totally different reason. This is what we call a pleasure-seeking client. No health issues, but she wants to make some changes to be able to do even more things.
The reasons for starting this fitness journey will be different for everyone. Most want to improve their general health and well-being. Many want to boost their confidence and self-esteem. Maybe you want to boost your confidence? Play sports better? Be more attractive? Enjoy the overcoming of physical barriers? Be more active with your kids? Avoid disease? Stay active well into your retirement years? These are all perfectly valid reasons to get fit but it’s important that you find and articulate your reasons. (Note: Your “why” may include both pain-avoiding and pleasure-seeking elements at the same time.)
Let´s find your why
Get ready to dig in your soul and find your why. Take a deep breath and be brutally honest with yourself.
What is your goal in 3 months?
Why? Is it for health? To be around and active for your children? To boost your confidence?
To find you’re why you literally keep asking yourself why and when you answer that why ask again. There is no wrong “why”, it just needs to be real and have meaning to you. Discovering your why is the most important step to changing. You can only change if your why becomes important and visible to you.
Once you get to the root of your “why”, make it work in your favor: write your “why” down on a few sticky notes and post them in places you know you’ll look, your bathroom mirror, your fridge door, your gym bag. Even set a recurring reminder on your phone!
When life gets in the way and training days get tough, which both will, you may start to ask yourself “why am I doing this?” That´s your cue to find one of your sticky notes and remind yourself why you started in the first place. No motivational video will work better than your own notes.