I always start off my consults with a simple question.
Why have you come to see me today?
It’s such a basic question – and out of the entire session that moment is when I get the most insight into their situation – the moment they choose how to answer the question.
I’ve got Crohn’s (and X and X and X)
My thyroid’s stuffed.
My liver doesn’t work anymore.
My cholesterol is through the roof.
I need to lose weight.
These are all very common answers to the question. But they’re all incorrect answers. These are the answers I get from people who have lost sight of why they want to get better. These clients are often sadly lost in their illness – they own their illness to the point where it begins to own them, and their reasoning for looking into ‘the health thing’ becomes more about being freed from the entanglement of their ‘label’.
Hence the trapped, frustrated answers to the poignant question: why do you want to get better?
I’ve found that every single person I’ve worked with who has stayed disciplined and determined on their health program has a moment during our session where they realise that their why is so much more than merely losing the various labels we’ve given to illness.
Often their why is about something much bigger. Something omnipotent and emotive.
It’s about wanting to see their son or daughter get married and be present at the wedding. Its about wanting to be able to surf until their hairs go grey and fall out, wanting to be a grandparent, and to live life to the fullest, sleeping in their own bed and not a cold, colourless setting of the hospital. They may want to get in shape to find that special person or to feel great looking in the mirror.
Their why might be to get back into sport with friends, to actively run their business, or to increase the number of Christmas’ spent with family. To pedal the boardwalk with hubby every night while watching the sunset.
These are the real reasons why people want to get healthy but unfortunately it often takes a health scare, the label of ‘dis-ease’, to realise them. These factors make an all more powerful why because they are tied to such strong emotions that straying from their goal would be the utmost of tragedies.
It’s extremely sad to find people without a solid why. Sometimes it takes a while for people to figure out their big W. And that’s okay.
As a coach and educator, part of my job is to strongly anchor this WHY as an image or an affirmation or a feeling to the person on the health journey because without it it becomes so easy to lose track; to slip off and consume the last of the twinkies, or to throw away what we know is good for us until next week, and then the week after that, and then next year, or the year after that.
We use whys everyday of our lives. We go into work because we need some money. We send the kids to school because we want them educated. We buy the car because we need to get places. But do we ever think about why we’re eating the foods we’re eating? About why we’re taking the supplements we’re taking? Or using the products we’re using? Sometimes yes. We think about the acute affects of a meal here and there, or a tablet or powder here and there. But what about the chronic, long-term influence of the way we live in this area?
I always hear the phrase – it’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle.
Well that’s great – but in order for someone to be comfortable initiating a lifestyle change, which takes time because a lifestyle change suggests habit change, they need long-term motivation.
Almost always, a person with a clear, powerful why will prosper on their health journey. A person with a strong, emotive why pushes past the mistakes and the inevitable slips of the journey.
The people with a weak why are often the people who might lose their label in 12 weeks, yes, but then slip back to their old ways again, because what they think their reason for getting healthy was has been appeased. Funnily enough though the labels come back as we enter into the old habits which got us there in the first place. Then we run around trying to find a ‘miracle’ solution because after all aren’t I meant to be cured from this!? And a vicious cycle of refusal and denial to take self-responsibility, to develop the stronger and true why takes place.
I know this because I was in this situation.
If you’re struggling with a WHY – ask yourself these questions…
– If I had to leave planet earth tomorrow, what would I miss the most?
– What do I enjoy doing the most; where do I feel most happy?
– What would I do everyday if money wasn’t a factor?
– What do I think about, talk about, and daydream about?
Now think of all those things and ponder if they might be improved/maintained if your health were in top shape.
Use that. As an image, as an affirmation, as a thought or feeling to anchor yourself to those habits you know are good for you. This isn’t a new idea. Like I said, we do this all the time in other areas of life. It’s now time to apply it to your health.