If you’re like many people I know, you may have come into the new year with gusto, saying “2019 is my year to get healthy!” … or “lose weight!” … or “get fit!” But, if you’re like 80% of people, by February, your initial excitement will have waned and the resolution long forgotten.
Life got busy.
Friends and family were assholes and did not share in your enthusiasm about your new healthy lifestyle. In fact, they were downright resistant and unsupportive. The husband brought home doughnuts and cookies. Colleagues brought cookies and pizza to the office. Friends invited you out for drinks and pub fare. Jerks.
Cravings for your favorite comfort food got the best of you. And dammit, you EARNED it because you went to the gym four days this week and had salads with dinner every single night last week! Can I give you a little hint? You don’t EARN junk food. You simply make a choice to put it into your mouth, and the choice is always yours. Sorry to be a killjoy.
Old habits, like parasites, worked their way back in.
You blame it on willpower. “I just don’t have enough.”
Ninety-five percent. The research shows that 95% of people who establish a health or weight loss goal fall flat of reaching that goal at all, or fail in the long-run by gaining all that weight (or more) back. Not good odds, and how can you be part of the measly 5% who see long-term success?
The answer lies in the word “why”.
If stopping and starting and stopping and starting has been a recurring pattern for you in your journey towards better health, then I suggest you DIG DEEP and establish your big WHY. And let me tell you something right now, my friend–a shallow or superficial reason such as fitting into size 4 jeans, or losing 15 pounds for your wedding, or getting a swimsuit body for an upcoming vacation, or running a marathon in October is not a big enough WHY.
Why not? Because your WHY needs to be much, much bigger. Because when you get to that size 4 or lose those 15 pounds, the vacation or the athletic achievement is over, then what? Did you achieve that ultimate state of happiness that you thought you’d have when you reached that superficial goal? The research indicates that this is not the case.
I tell my clients and participants in my group programs that in order to achieve long-term success, you need to have a deep emotional connection to your why. When you think about your why, you should have a visceral reaction in your gut, get goosebumps, a catch in your throat, and big fat tears welling up in your eyes. Your why should be big enough that it takes you well beyond superficial short-term goals and keeps you fired up to prioritize your health for the long-term (i.e. for LIFE!). To make “being healthy” just part of who you are. When other people think of you, they think of you as healthy (among your other awesome qualities that will shine through even more when you’re healthy from the inside out).
To find your big WHY, I suggest you sit your butt down with a pencil and paper and make a list of ten reasons you’re unsatisfied with your health the way it is in this very moment. In other words, what it is it about your current state of health that creates limitation in your life? What can’t you do that you want to be able to do? What do you see yourself not being able to do five, ten, or twenty years from now because of your current state of health?
Then, turn that list around and make a list of how your quality of life would be improved if your life wasn’t limited by those things. What could you do or have that you can’t do or have right now because of your health?
What is it that you really want? Why?
Who do you want to be? Why?
How do you want to feel? Why?
How do you want to show up for your family, friends, colleagues, the world? Why?
In other words, figure out what the most important, highly valued things are to you in life (you’re going to find some themes) and use those things as a focal point for your reason to get and remain healthy. Really, if you’re serious about getting healthy, you’ll take the time to sit down and do this exercise. Or stand at the counter and write it. I don’t give a shit whether you sit or stand to write your list, just do it!
Keep going with your list. THINK FUTURE. Thirty days from now…ninety days…six months…five years…twenty years, and so on. High performance coach Brendon Burchard says that successful, high performance people think about the future…constantly. So thinking in the moment about satisfying your current whims ain’t gonna get you to better health. I’m sorry.
I’ve seen it time and again…folks get themselves all fired up about getting healthy, signing themselves up for a health challenge (even those that I’ve run), and going into it ALL IN. Well, sortof all in. I mean, for the 30 days or so of the challenge, that is. Maybe even for the following week or month. They see all sorts of improvements in the way they feel, their energy, their sleep, their skin.
But then, something happens. Life gets busy. Social gatherings happen. Their family doesn’t share their enthusiasm about their new healthy ways. Old habits slowly sneak their way back in. Before they know it, they’re staying up well past their bedtime and their cart at the grocery store is filled with Doritos and Oreos (“Hey, it’s kid food. Gotta stock my house with snacks for the kiddos.” I’m just going to resist the urge to diverge down THAT rabbit hole right now.) instead of meat and vegetables. Their cars steer themselves right into the drive-thrus at Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds. But they’re still hitting the gym 3-5 days per week, so hey, it’s all good, right? Wrong.
WHY does this keep happening? Because those folks have not identified a big enough why. They’re too focused on short-term superficial goals like the number on the scale, or the measuring tape, or PRs they’ve hit at the gym this week. F*ck the scale. F*ck the measuring tape. F*ck the PRs. These things tell you nothing about real health and what’s going on inside your body.
My personal WHY came to me after a 20-month health crisis that ravaged my body and spirit had me questioning what was really important to me in this world; wondering if I would be around to witness all the major milestones in my two boys’ lives…first girlfriends, athletic achievements, graduations, careers, weddings, grandkids. This was after over two decades of suffering from chronic health issues that I just couldn’t seem to resolve no matter how many doctor visits I made or how many medications I took. And I was no slouch either. I had several marathons under my belt, including multiple Boston marathons, which I’d qualified for. The scale told me that I was a “healthy” weight. My size 2 pants fit just right (well, maybe a little loose). I was a high achiever in my career. My blood work always came back normal. I looked pretty good on the outside, aside from the humiliating acne, which I got really good at covering with makeup.
But my body told me something was wrong. Really wrong. And it seemed nobody could help me, so I decided to help myself because I decided I wanted to be there for all the major milestones in my kids’ lives. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, and I also wasn’t willing to live a sub-par life struggling with chronic symptoms that sucked the joy out of every minute.
Through digging deep and educating myself I learned that many of the foods I was eating were making me sick. I learned that I was over-exercising, adding stress to my already struggling body. I learned that my sleep habits were really harming my health, and gave up the sleep deprivation badge of honor. I learned that the thoughts I was allowing to take up space in my brain were causing additional stress that was also keeping me sick. I made becoming healthy a priority, and made it a priority to change my habits…permanently…in order to achieve that goal. It didn’t happen overnight in the same way that my poor health hadn’t happened overnight…it was the result of many years of not honoring my body.
After recovering from my 20-month health crisis, I realized that I had been suffering from chronic symptoms for SO LONG (decades) that I hadn’t even realized what it felt like to be healthy! That state of waking up each morning fully rested and ready to tackle whatever the day has to offer, free of symptoms, and feeling as alert and energetic in the afternoon as I did first thing in the morning. It was, and continues to be, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I find that this is the case with all of my clients as well, because when you’ve been suffering from chronic symptoms for years you come to forget what it feels like to feel good…you just begin to see the symptoms as part of “getting older”, which is the dogma we’ve been told to believe.
Here’s a partial list of what keeps me motivated to stay the course, even when temptations arise…my big WHYs:
1. I know what it feels like to be healthy. I also know what it feels like to feel like SH!T every single day. I don’t ever want to go back to that dark place.
2. I want to experience and enjoy all my young-adult boys’ major milestones.
3. If and when I have grandchildren, I want to have the energy and physical mobility to play with them and take them on fun adventures, to get up and down from the floor without assistance.
4. If I live to be over 100, barring no tragic accidents between now and then, I want to fully enjoy each and every day of it without pain or disability. Quality of life matters. Who cares if you live to be 110, if you are riddled with miserable symptoms all the time? That would suck.
5. No matter what age I live to, I want to be able to travel and not be limited in the types of activities I can participate in, whether that be a difficult hike or a high-speed jet boat adventure.
6. No matter what age I live to, I want to be able to take care of my own business in the bathroom. I would think pride matters at any age.
7. I want to have full brain function until the day I die so that I can have intelligent conversations with my great grandkids.
Notice how my list does not include anything about a number on the scale or pants size or hitting PRs in the gym? Does that mean I don’t have any short-term goals? No, it just means that I’m focused on the bigger picture. Your big WHY needs to be big enough that it keeps you inspired to make being healthy a LIFESTYLE, and that voice in your ear that reminds you why you should leave that package of Oreos on the shelf at the store instead of adding them to your cart.
The common denominator is happiness. We all want happiness, right? Feeling like crap tends to suck the joy right out of your life.
“But I’m busy! I work full-time and I have kids.” Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before. We’re all busy. Folks, lots of people have done amazing things in this world while being busy (and short on funds). When I dragged myself up from the depths of despair, I was busy. I worked full-time, I had two kids with sports schedules to keep up with, homework to help with in the evenings, meals to cook, a house to maintain. Oh, and I was taking classes for a Master’s Degree program. I had a budget, and I paid a lot of money on my quest to reclaim my life. I get it. But I made my health and happiness a PRIORITY and I found my WHY!
If you want to become deeply healthy, you must make health a high level PRIORITY, which means you find a way to fit it into your time and budget no matter what. Health is a lifelong journey, not a 30 day sprint. Temptations will arise. Friends and family will be unsupportive. You’ll get home late and have nothing prepared for dinner. To overcome these obstacles, you must have a plan and a deep and emotional value-driven WHY.
What is it that you need to get there? A mentor/coach? An accountability partner? Do you have the tools and knowledge necessary to get there, or do you need some help? If you have some chronic long-term health issues or autoimmunity, I can help you get to the bottom of your health issues and get you feeling like (or better than) yourself again. In my practice, I use functional lab testing to investigate HIDDEN internal causes of stress on the body in addition to providing education, resources, accountability, and mentoring.
If you need help figuring out what foods are right for your body, the lifestyle tools and habits you need to employ, and HIDDEN causes of your niggling symptoms so that you have the energy and vitality to enjoy life again, schedule a complimentary Empowered Health Discovery Session. You CAN be the BOSS of your health for life, and I can help you get there!
I also provide group coaching opportunities for businesses and gyms, which can be done virtually or in-person, so contact me if you want more information about that.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is good health. Find your WHY and make it a PRIORITY to do what it takes to get there! Honor your future self by taking care of your body today.