The Seven Questions: A Journey to Sustainable Fitness, Part 1

Where do you want to go...today, tomorrow?

Where do you want to go…today, tomorrow?
Photo: ntwowe and freedigitalphotos.net

I’m excited to share The Seven Questions.  I ask these questions to uncover clients’ true motivations for change and create a realistic action plan to achieve sustainable health and fitness – and I hope they can do the same for you!  The questions will be released over the next couple months.  If you’re interested in receiving an email notifying you when the next one is posted, join the Death of the Diet newsletter.

Here are the first two questions to get you started on the path to permanent health and fitness results. Don’t water down your thoughts – be as honest as possible.  Try to keep your answers to these, and all of the other questions, on the same page or notepad, because each question will build on previous ones.  Ok, enough chit-chat – let’s get to it:

Question #1: How do you feel about your body or health right now? Do you want to improve it?

It may sound too simple, but one of the most important things to consider is whether you really want to change your current situation.  The body you have now comes from the habits you have now, and usually your current habits are dictated by your current schedule, preferences and priorities.  It’s also called the status quo, comfort zone or path of least resistance.

Getting out of your comfort zone will require effort. But if you’re motivated enough to change, you’ll put in the effort.  Most people can’t reason themselves into being motivated, though – motivation usually comes from feeling, not from logic. For example, we know eating broccoli is healthier, but that cookie still looks better…especially if you’re stressed.  Being told by the doctor that you need to lose weight or seeing a loved one become sick from obesity may be a kick in the pants to change, but ultimately knowing doesn’t always translate into doing.

So in response to today’s question, don’t just think about what’s causing your current situation (i.e. work demands, lifestyle demands, emotional demands), but think about how you feel about your current condition. Use as many descriptive words as possible and be honest: do you feel sad, mad, embarrassed, guilty or helpless?  Go beyond the logical – your desire for change is what will have to be strong enough to see you through the process of changing – even when the going gets tough.

Finally, write down why you feel that way.  What’s causing that emotion?  The more you can make those feelings concrete, on paper or in type, the more you can understand what’s causing them, and whether you want to make changes to fight them.  If your feelings about change are not significant, then this may not be the right time for you to change.  The next question will get into more details, but for now, get those feelings about your current situation (and potentially it’s contributing factors) out and on the table.

Question #2: Seeking success?  See it first.  What about your life would be different or improved if you had healthier habits?

Whatever makes the effort of changing worth it for you – that’s your motivation to change. Looking great in a dress or suit, feeling energetic when playing with your kids, being able to compete better or having more self-confidence are just a few common ones.  And remember – if you want to make big changes, you need big motivation.

You can’t aim without a target.  Use this question to create your target. The better you can define how your life will be different, what actions you’ll be doing differently and how you’ll feel as the “new and improved” you, the more you can aim your decisions towards achieving those goals.  It orients you to get from Point A (where you are now) to Point B (where you want to be). I wrote a blog post on defining your motivations to change, called What’s Your Why. Give it a look-see.

If you have trouble coming up with your own motivations, you can always use peer support by publicizing your intention to change, and the steps you’re taking, on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Financial motivation is another handy way to get started – write a sizable check to an organization you hate, and send it if you don’t meet your goals…a la stickK.com.

*Note: External motivations like the financial trick can get you started, but they only last a while; eventually you’ll need a self-driven motivation to keep you going.  Getting healthy takes some time.  Staying healthy takes a lifetime.

In the next installment of The Seven Questions, you’ll create a personalized list of which steps or actions you can take to get started towards achieving your vision of a healthier, happier you.

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