In recent weeks I’ve written about various ways that you can help to improve your motivation to train more often and improve your food choices. The reason I spend so much time on this subject is because I believe that it is the biggest factor that prevents people achieving their health and fitness goals.
As a good example we only need to look at the annual New Year’s Resolutions Madness. In the 1st week of January, thousands of people across the country sign up to weight-loss programmes and take out gym memberships. By the 1st week in February most of them are back on their couches, munching away on snacks and watching tv. And they’ll probably stay there till around the 1st week of January the following year.
There are a lot of reasons that this happens: some people can’t make the time to train due to work/home commitments, others find that they don’t enjoy the experience, while some will quit due to the fact that progress is slower than they were expecting, and they feel that they’re wasting their time.
And in most cases there will have been no specific goals. Or else, there were goals that were not suitable to the individual.
The whole purpose of a goal is that it should be big enough to motivate you, but small enough to be achievable. But most importantly, it must be relevant and actually mean something to you. There’s no point jumping on the bandwagon and deciding that you have to run a marathon because everybody you know is doing it, or that you have to be 2 dress sizes smaller because all the “Health & Beauty” magazines say you should be.
In cases where goals or targets are imposed on us, there’s a natural tendency to rebel, or at least to not put in the required effort. Goals that we freely choose ourselves tend to work far better.
As part of my current Precision Nutrition Level 2 Coaching Certification Programme and previous NLP training courses, I’ve been learning about and using some different methods to help clients decide which goals are most suitable for them.
One very simple method is called the 5 Whys and it’s a system that was originally used by Toyota Motor Corporation. This is particularly useful when I’m working with a client who has a standard, vague goal of “losing weight and toning up.” In order to find out what they really want, I’ll use the 5 Whys. The conversation usually goes something along the lines of:
What’s your goal?
I want to lose weight and tone up.
- Why do you want to lose weight and tone up?
Because I want to fit into smaller clothes.
- Why do you want to fit into smaller clothes?
Because when I wear smaller clothes, I think I look good.
- Why do you want to look good?
Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.
- Why do you want to feel good about yourself?
Because when I feel good about myself, I’m more confident and relaxed.
- Why do you want to be more confident and relaxed?
Because when I’m more confident and relaxed, I feel like I’ve more energy, I’m able to handle stress better, and I can enjoy life more.
In most cases it takes a while to get through this relatively simple process. I have also used this method to figure out my own goals and its pretty powerful stuff. The reason it can take a while – and can be a little uncomfortable- is because it forces us to think, and also to really question why we’re taking on a new project.
When I used this method, I discovered that some of the goals I had set myself actually meant nothing to me, and that was probably the main reason I was having trouble achieving them! When I abandoned these meaningless goals, it immediately freed up mental and physical energy for things that I really want to do.
So, if you’re thinking of starting a weight-loss or fitness programme, begin by asking yourself the 5 whys. This will help you to develop your own personal goal and also help increase your motivation.