In my world, the subject of motivation comes up frequently. How do you stay motivated to stay fit? How do we help others do the same? I am convinced that finding your “why” is a big first step towards sustaining motivation. Life changes. It is always moving. Parts are ever flowing and just when we think it will always be one way; it changes again. We get a new job, a child is born, gain a relationship, lose a relationship, move to another city or just get tired. How do we keep health a priority in our lives? We certainly can’t look to our culture at large. Although the landscape is changing, there are still few things in the marketplace that promote health. Establishing and routinely revisiting your “why” will help you stay on track.
So, what is a “why”? How do we identify it? We ALL have one. Most often they are unspoken and undefined but present nevertheless. Maybe your goal was to lose weight or get a 400# back squat. That is not your “why”. The “why” is underneath that. This will take some self-reflection but trust me, it will be worth it. Self-reflection in an uncomfortable process but a process that should be embarked on in order to make progress.
Perhaps the best way for me to articulate this is to share my own “why”.
A little over nine years ago I was incredibly unhealthy. My whole life I had a bad relationship with food. I was the husky kid (anyone remember that size of pants?). To try to stay skinny I would just not eat. I would lift weights but my goal was always to stay thin. After Michelle and I got married I lost the motivation to even try to stay thin. We moved to the South, I found fried foods and sweet tea and started working in the music business as an intern. Not the greatest combo for healthy living. No surprise, I gained a lot of weight. Oh, I would joke about not caring but the reality is that I did care. I cared a lot. I could barely do 10 pushups.
So here I was, no idea what it meant to be healthy and not brave enough to admit that it mattered or that I wanted to change. Then something BIG happened. Michelle and I got pregnant with our first son. Elijah was on his way. We were blessed enough to cross paths with a birthing coach who was also a health nut. She started us on a journey of learning what it meant to live a healthy life. It still wasn’t enough to make me fully change.
Something else happened that year. My dad, who had been fighting heart disease for a few years already, had to have an open heart surgery. Triple bypass. This is a big surgery and if you have ever had loved ones go through it then you know what I am talking about. The surgeon takes a saw and cuts through the sternum. They pull back your ribs, pull out your heart and graft new arteries around your clogged arteries. Then they sow you back up. When I walked in after the surgery my dad looked dead. A machine was helping him breath and he was pale and cold to the touch. It took eight weeks for him to recover. As crazy as it sounds, later that year my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can not fathom the decisions she had to make. After much tears and contemplation, she decided to have a double mastectomy. So in one year, my first son was born and my mom and dad both underwent major surgeries due to chronic diseases.
I had to do some reflection. And I decided right there and then that I was going to change. I didn’t know where to start but I KNEW that I did not want my wife and sons to see me on a hospital bed just having my heart ripped out of my chest, wondering if I was going to live. I knew that I wanted to go on adventures with my family until I was an old man.
I have other goals; hitting a 400# back squat, getting leaner, being competitive at local CrossFit throwdowns BUT those are not my “why” This is my “why”.
What is yours?