Finding the “Why”

The other day someone asked me why I was so motivated to maintain my weight release (or, using more conventional terms, weight loss).  Now they didn’t come out and just say, “Why do you want to not regain your thirty pounds?”  It was more along the lines of, “Why are you so committed to exercising, when you’ve already reached your goal weight?”

I sat there for a moment stumped, because I really hadn’t thought about it in a while or, to be honest, ever! I used to have a really good list of reasons why when I first started changing my body three years ago, but I hadn’t really given it much attention – if any – since I had achieved my goal.

Before I tell you what you what my “whys” are regarding my body, let’s spend a couple of minutes on why the “whys” – no matter who you are or what you’re doing – are critical.

When you have a clear reason why you’re doing something the following are true:

  • You’re more likely to accomplish it.
  • You’re better able to garner support from those around you.
  • You feel better about sticking to your goals, which, subsequently, boosts not only your self-confidence, but also your self-esteem!

When you don’t have a clear reason why you’re doing something, the converse it true:

  • You’re less likely to accomplish your goals
  • You encounter more resistance from those around you who don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • You become resentful about the ongoing discipline being successful requires, which undermines not only your progress, but also your self-discipline, your self-esteem, and your day-to-day mood!

The point of this being, it’s just as important to know why you’re doing something as it is to know what you want to accomplish, because the why is the motivation, the fuel, the justification, the reason you’re doing what you’re doing.  Knowing the why and being able to articulate it to others, as well as to yourself, is crucial because recent scholarship in teaching and learning suggests that 30% of the population are why learners.  This means that 30% of your potential sources of social support tune you out if you start with the what.  So, if you say, “It’s really important to me to drop this weight,” and someone says, “Why?”, you need to be able to tell them.  Because if you can’t, they won’t hear anything else you have to say about you and your weight and fitness goals.  And just imagine what might happen if you yourself is part of that 30% that needs a compelling motivation before they can learn (or act)!  Trust me, find your why and learn to articulate to yourself, as well as to others!

So just to give you an idea of how to get serious about finding the why, let me tell you how I rediscovered mine.

Basically, I waited until I had a chunk of time with no distractions.   I got a blank piece of paper and a pen (I chose this method as I tend to self-censure if I’m typing in a way that I don’t when I’m writing by hand!) and wrote at the top: Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Current Weight and put the date on it.  I sat there for a moment, looking at the blank sheet of paper – and actually drawing a blank – until I came up with a reason.  And let me just say, as soon as the ink hit the paper, it was like a dam had broken.  In less than 10 minutes, I had come up with over thirty reasons – some of them better than others in the cosmic sense – of why I was truly and unequivocally committed to maintenance.  (Interestingly, I also gleaned some insight into why I don’t like the term “maintenance’, but that’s another post!)  And, just in case you’re wondering, since I’ve done this, my commitment to maintain has gotten stronger and I’ve been able to marshal more support from my already super supportive partner, MJ.

I’m not going to write out all thirty, but I’ll give you a few examples just to give you an idea.

Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Weight (July 21, 2009)

  • To avoid re-injuring my knee
  • To have more energy
  • To be healthy
  • To get  compliments (sad, I know)
  • To be a better role model for my Little Sister
  • To feel good about myself
  • To succeed
  • To wear fun clothes
  • To be able to wear whatever I want
  • To not have to re-buy all of the clothes I’ve gotten rid of

You get the general idea.  As I said, some reasons are better than others, but I put them all down.  Notably, and somewhat ironically, this list isn’t that much different than the one I had made three years ago entitled “Why I Want to Lose Weight.”  What does that tell you?

If you’re trying to accomplish something – anything! – and you haven’t gotten real on your whys, I highly recommend that you sit down with a sheet of paper (or at the keyboard) and do this simple exercise.  It’s easy.  It’s quick.  And it is guaranteed to get you where you want to be.  Or, if you’re in my position, it’s guaranteed to keep you there!

Let me know how it goes!

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3 comments so far

  1. Patty on

    Excellent topic. Although I’m putting in my miles and eating right 99% of the time, I suspect that I am far more ambivalent about losing weight than I should be. Need to find the motivation to “do the right thing” when I’m work-stressed and finding excused. Eating bad stuff, having a bad workout (or skipping a workout) and not enough sleep all go together. Having a bad day, but I’m putting on my shoes, rolling out my may in my hotel room, and Jillian and her girls are ready to go on my computer.

  2. KJ on

    Good for you, Patty. When you have the time, sit down and put your whys on paper. I think you’ll find that it really helps!

    But you know as well as anyone that bad days and hectic travel schedules, and upending life transitions can reek havoc even on the best laid plans, so don’t beat yourself on that 1% of the time that you’re less than perfect!

    Let me know how it goes!

    • KJ on

      Actually, I just read something that one of the differences between “fat” and “fit” people is that “fat” people think that 99.9% compliance is success, while “fit” people see it as failure. Beat yourself up away! But do it in a constructive way!


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