This is the question asked by personal trainers, nutritional coaches, dieticians – any professional who is in the business of helping their clients embark on their fitness journey.
The answer is what will determine your motivation and success in achieving your goals.
When clients say, “I want to lose weight”, “I want to get to a size 6”, or “I want to eat better”, I always ask them for their “why”. What’s really behind those goals? What would losing 10 pounds mean to you? And after you achieve that objective, then what?
For any goal - fitness or otherwise, there is a deeper, intrinsic motivation. Maybe wearing a size 6 represents a time when you felt attractive, independent or strong. Maybe eating better means you can prevent or reverse the Type 2 Diabetes or high blood pressure. Maybe by dropping 10 pounds, you will feel more mobile and able to run with your children or grandchildren.
When you uncover the real reasons behind wanting to change, the AHA moment turns on and the drive to achieve your objectives kicks in.
As an example, here is my “why”. I always enjoyed working out but pretty much liked to eat whatever I had a whim for – chicken nuggets, milkshakes, Jamaican patties, etc. After deciding to compete in a bodybuilding show at age 42, I saw how changing my diet directly impacted how my body responded to exercise. I gained muscle while losing fat and was excited to see this transformation. While I don’t maintain that competition body (it’s only for that moment in time on stage), I’ve educated myself on the importance of building muscle as a woman over 40. I’ve learned how crucial proper nutrition is as it relates to BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol level, and other metabolic conditions. I also became aware of my family history and how obesity and metabolic syndrome had shortened many of my family members’ lives including my mom who died at age 67 from a burst aneurysm exacerbated by hypertension.
Over time, my “why” changed from wanting to look great in a competition bikini to wanting to feel strong, look good AND increase my longevity. I want that when I retire by 60, I have the energy and mobility to fully enjoy my next chapter in life. I want to be that 75-year-old who is able to move without a cane, walk easily up a flight of stairs and party on the dance floor with my family.
These are MY “whys”.
If you are planning to make lifestyle changes in your life, take some time to reflect on these questions –
What matters the most to me in my life?
How does my current fitness and health help or hinder me?
How do I envision my life - 5, 10 or 15 years from now?
What can I do today to help my future self?
How would achieving my goals make me feel?
How would my family or loved ones benefit from my success?
Your answers will help you to stay focused in your commitment to change and stay encouraged in your fitness journey. Losing 10 pounds is a short-term goal, but creating lifelong healthy habits will reward your future self.