When a client comes to me and says “I want to lose 10lbs because I’m getting married and I want to look good”, I nod.
“OK”, I say, “Let’s talk about that a bit more”.
What I want to ask is, “Why 10lbs? Why that number? Do you not think you look good already? Who told you that? Does your fiance think you look good? Do they want you to lose weight? If you lose 10lbs, will you be happy? Is being 10lbs lighter so important? What if you were 9lbs lighter? Are you doing this for you, or the approval of others?
I don’t, obviously. But I do dig deeper. Here’s why.
I don’t want my clients to have goals like this without really thinking about why they want to reach them. Losing 20lbs for a wedding isn’t going to change your life in the long-term because the motivation is dependent on a result you’ve conjured out of thin air. Or societal pressure. The norm.
Instead, I just ask why. And why again. And again. Until I’m satisfied I’ve got down to the root problem, the underlying emotion, the hurt, the wound.
You might be thinking that’s a bit much. But after 9 years in the fitness industry, I get to be picky with who I work with. I’m in the business of changing lives. I’m not here to program a workout and take your money.
Once I have their ‘why’, I can work with them to build a plan.
Motivators like losing 10 lbs are future-based. 10 lbs seems far off. If you falter at 7 lbs, you’ll be disappointed and disillusioned. Even if your motivation is to reverse your diabetes, that goal is in the distance, too.
To begin making changes to your habits and behaviours, start with something that has a tangible result. Not only that, something that makes you happy. Rather than a far-off goal, you now have something that brings satisfaction, pride, and success.
If you force yourself to run because you’ve heard that’s the best way to lose weight, but you don’t like running, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Why do something that you don’t enjoy? If you like walking, do that instead. If you love to dance, find somewhere you can do that. It’s going to be so much harder to motivate yourself to get up and run. Worse, you’ll fall into your default way of thinking. ‘I’ll go for a run tomorrow, I’m too tired today. It’s fine.”
This is why I love simplicity when it comes to habits.
Goal: Lose 10lbs
First habit: Take the stairs every day instead of the lift.
Second habit: Eat vegetables with every meal.
Third habit: Start tracking my calories 2 days a week to see how much I’m eating.
Fourth habit: walk 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
The habits above are small, but they stack up. And the magic of habit is that you can choose from any number of habit-based behaviours to work towards your ultimate goal. When you complete a task you feel happier and that compounds over time.
Pairing a deeper ‘why’ with meaningful behaviour change is a recipe for success.