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What is your biggest health and fitness struggle? What is the thing that you just drive yourself crazy with by doing it again and again? The thing that keeps you from being able to reach your goals. Maybe you always plan to hit the gym Monday morning only to meet the day with a chronic case of hitting the snooze alarm. Maybe you want to plan healthy meals but then the days get away from you and you end up doing the same old, same old again.
Do you ever ask yourself why you do this? “Why is it so hard to change?”. “Why can’t I just prepare healthy meals or just go to the gym?”. After all, it sounds so easy. “Why, why, why…”
My friend, we are asking the wrong questions.
WHY, WHY DOESN’T HELP
When we ask ourselves “why?”, we focus on all of the reasons why we think we can’t change. We notice all the obstacles in our way and see the excuses that justify our unchanging actions. Honestly, it brings us down. We don’t feel very optimistic when all we do is affirm our challenges.
In the example above, when Sally thinks about all of the reasons why she doesn’t make it to the gym, it’s overwhelming. First, there is the fact that she typically goes to bed late on Sunday nights. After all, she has so much to do to get ready for the week, it is hard to wind down. And then there’s the drive to the gym. It’s dark out, the car may need gas, she still needs to pack lunches, get the kids up… the list goes on and on. I am tired just reading it.
And, guess who is probably not going to make it to the gym on Monday?
HOW, HOW IS AWESOME
But what if changing the question we ask could reveal some practical solutions? Solutions that would get Sally on the way to her goals.
When we ask “how?” we can begin to see the all of the possibilities around us. This simple shift allows our mind to start focusing on solutions. Our brain begins looking for ways to make our hopes and dreams happen. We get excited and the foundation for change is beginning to take shape!
Let’s say that rather than looking at the excuses of “why?”, Sally began to contemplate “how?”. How could she get to the gym in the morning? Her troubleshooting skills would begin to warm up and she’d start firing off solutions.
Suddenly Sally sees how she can pack lunches on Sunday afternoon or how she can set an alarm on her phone to remind her to get to bed earlier. She sees practical ideas that she can put into practice with a concrete plan. It’s so exciting!
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
So, how do YOU start to ask the right questions? Questions that will get you on the road to results? Here are 3 tips to help get you there.
- Start your questions with “how”. If you wonder why you don’t eat vegetables, ask yourself questions inquiring about how you can eat more. Maybe you wonder why you overeat at night. You may ask yourself questions about how you can relax without food after the kids go to bed.
- Keep it positive. Try your best to focus on the behaviors you want to acquire and not those you want to avoid. For example, rather than not eating fast food, see how you can eat more home-cooked meals.
- Don’t expect to be Einstien. You may not come up with the perfect answer right away (or ever) and that’s completely ok. The process of brainstorming is invaluable. Think of how cool it is to be swapping out stuck, negative thoughts for day-dreaming positive choices that you can make. Truly there is a lot of magic happening in the musings!
REVISITING YOUR WHY
When you have your “how”, it is time to revisit your “why”. But, this time, we want to focus on all the reasons you WANT to make these adjustments so that can solidify your motivation.
Think about the end result you are going for and really dig into why this vision is important to you. If you have a reason, you have fuel for change. Do your best to make an emotional connection to these purposes. FEEL the excitement of receiving a stellar health report from your doctor. SEE yourself in the gym, hitting a new squat record and texting a friend immediately because you just couldn’t wait to tell her. SENSE the relief that comes when you wake up in the morning knowing that you chose not to have a second serving of dessert.
When you connect with your “why”, your “how” takes off!
PUTTING YOUR “HOW” INTO PRACTICE
Now that you have ways to change and reasons to change, how do you put them into practice? While Sally may have rattled off 10 ways to make her Monday Morning workouts remarkable, she only needs to focus on one or two to get the ball rolling.
When you have a list of possible actions, take some time to review the list and see which ones you can really get on board with. Is there one that excites you or seems exceptionally effective? Start there! It is a good idea to give this new habit a week or two before making an assessment of its effectiveness.
(check out this article on Stepping Into Change: Why the non-diet approach works! for ideas)
If you try something new and it flops, don’t take it personally, take it as feedback. Learning what doesn’t work is actually quite valuable. Ask “how” and rework your plan. All great successes are built upon failed attempts. By default, I’d say that makes those trips, triumphs.
As we wrap up, it is fun to think that something as simple as a shift in how we ask a question could produce such incredible results? By taking our focus from the victim’s point of view and shifting into the problem-solving view, we can come up with some pretty nifty solutions we didn’t know we had.