Many of you may not know this, but my grand-father was a rather pivotal figure in my life. He was the kind of man who always knew what direction he was going in. Even when life threw him curve balls, he kept moving forward in some way.
He was forced to retire early because of a diabetes diagnosis. Keep in mind this was over 40 years ago and what we know now is light years ahead of what was known about the disease back then. Knowing he couldn’t just sit around, he built a garage.
He did so because one of his hobbies was working on cars. He built the garage big enough for that purpose. I recall growing up that you were just as likely to find a friend’s or neighbor’s car in that garage as you were to find his own. You would find the hood up and there would be a rag or towels draped over the side of one of the fenders so he could lean under the hood and not scratch anything up. Everything he did was for a reason. It had a purpose.
Our training needs to be just as purposeful. But the truth is that most of us don’t really know what that purpose is. Oh sure, we tell ourselves it’s to lose weight, burn fat, gain muscle, improve our golf game etc. But do we really know? Have we taken the time to really dig into what’s driving us to do something like undertake a change in lifestyle?
For me, working out has been a part of my life for almost 30 years. Over the course of that time the “why” behind my training has changed. At first it was because I played football and wrestled and in my mind that was what you did if you were a football player or wrestler. Oh and it didn’t hurt that I liked the way it made my arms look. Later on in life, the gym became a refuge, a place for me to escape the tougher things I went through becoming a young adult. Now, I train because of my daughters. I train because I want them to see the behavior that has allowed me to escape the diabetes that claimed most of the adults in my family. I train because I want that to be one of the things I model for them as they grows up.
So how do you find your why? Well, there is a quick and easy exercise that we use in our Eat Smart Program called the “5 Whys”. It goes something like this: You ask yourself why you want to do something: Lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, etc. Then, you ask yourself ‘Why?’ to that answer. Here is an example:
1) Why do you exercise? Because I want to lose 20lbs.
2) Why do you want to lose 20lbs? Because I want to come off of my blood pressure medication.
3) Why do you want to come off of your blood pressure medication? Because I don’t like having to take it.
4) Why don’t you like having to take it? Because I don’t want medications controlling my life.
5) Why don’t you want medications controlling your life? Because I feel like there are so many things in this world I can’t control, I don’t need another one.
So you see in this example, the person in question doesn’t really want to lose 20lbs. They want to feel empowered. They want to take back some control over a life that seems to have grown out of control. That is why they want to train. That is their purpose. Knowing this will keep them coming to the gym on days when they don’t feel like doing it. If you have never gone through this exercise, give it a try. Just keep asking why; keep peeling back the onion. You may be surprised at what you find.