Deciding to finally start eating and living a healthy lifestyle is a relatively easy process. We simply just decide. But sticking to that healthy journey – when life becomes overbearing or stressful or that new bakery down the street finally opens shop – can turn simple to near impossible. Deciding is the first step, of course, but to make this simple decision into a life lasting practice, you must know with a surety, one crucial thing. You need to know your WHY.
The Power of “Why”
When we make the choice in our lives to eat and live healthy, there is usually a reason or several reasons why. More often than not, these reasons are more short-term and, once accomplished or completed, our healthy lifestyles get left by the wayside. Sometimes our why’s don’t really reflect our true goals and values – and, once tested, crumble faster than a flaky, delicious pie crust.
Finding your long-term reason as to why you want to begin your health journey is crucial. It will often be the one thing to sustain you when the going gets rough and you are ready to throw in the towel. Here at More Than Healthy, we know the key components to “finding your why” for healthy eating– reasons that will keep you on the path to a healthier and more meaningful life.
Your Reasons Why Should be Personal
Your “why” is just that. Yours. Your why shouldn’t be fostered by anyone else and certainly shouldn’t satisfy anyone else’s expectations of you. If someone else is the reason you are attempting a lifestyle change – it’s not going to work. If your doctor, significant other, well-meaning friend, Oprah, or other outsider is your motivating factor – that motivation is going to die out eventually, and you’ll be back to square one. You need to be the source of your own motivation and your own reasons for wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change. Making your reasons why personal will help keep you motivated and on track long-term.
Your Why Needs to be Flexible
You are an ever-changing, malleable human – with needs and wants that change with time. And just like you, your “why” may need change and adapt to your life. Your initial plan to eat healthy may be to look good in your wedding dress/bathing suit/or at your 30 year high school reunion. However, none of those reasons are permanent motivators. So every time your motivator ends, you’ll need to find a new one. Consider reasons outside of the short-term such as being physically able to hike or play tennis with your grandkids or healthy enough to travel with your significant other on your 30th or 40th – or hey, how about 50th or 60th – wedding anniversary. Whatever you find self-motivating. There are no right or wrong reasons here!
Look for Value in Your Reasons Why
Values are the very core of our being. They are the guiding force that steers us and guides us in our everyday lives. Your “why” for living healthy should be a direct reflection of your values. What does being healthy mean for your life? How does eating healthy align with your personal values? Do you want to be healthy to support your family or your community? What hobbies and passions will you be able to pursue because you have the health and strength to do so? How might your life be negatively affected if you don’t make the necessary changes? How does the decision to be healthy affect the future you desire for yourself and those you love? Look for things that will bring value to your life long-term.
It Isn’t About Looks
We have all been there. We’ve started our health journeys solely on the fact that we can finally look good again in those jeans we use to sport. Here is the thing: being healthy just to “look good” doesn’t work. You’ll never be satisfied and you’ll end up defeated. Being “skinny” or “a size 6” are all superficial reasons and may even contradict your real motivators. For example, if someone is trying to “be skinny” and they restrict their diet to the point of malnourishment, it may prevent them from having the strength and energy to pursue their hobbies. And worse, it may have long-term health consequences that will cause more alarming issues down the road.
Your body is your vehicle to pursuing a life that is meaningful and enjoyable. Eating healthy will naturally have an affect on how you look, but it certainly shouldn’t be your sole reason. Search for reasons within yourself that have nothing to do with your outward appearance. Being physically able to put on your shoes to go hike, run, or play with the grandkids is more valuable long-term than what size pants you wear to do them in!
Write Your Reason Why Down
There is power in knowing your reason to eat and live healthy. There is even greater power in writing it down and looking at it every single day. Five years ago, I was at the unhealthiest I had been in years. I had recently lost everything I had due to a business venture I had quickly started and failed. Food had become my only source of comfort along with hours of binge watching who knows what on tv. For weeks and weeks I had made daily plans to finally start eating healthy and living an active life.
Prior to this slump, I was an avid hiker – traveling across the country to various places and exploring all the different terrains. I had aspirations- –I wanted to be able to hike some of the highest peaks surrounding me, and I wanted to be able to eventually run a marathon. But I reached a point where merely walking up the stairs was enough to have me gasping for breath. However, these daily plans all focused on one thing – I want to lose weight and be “skinny” again. Each day, I would start the day with all of the intention to start living healthy, but I would cave into unhealthy habits by noon.
Read Your Reason Why Everyday
I will never forget the day when I sat in front of the mirror and asked why. Why I REALLY wanted to take my health back. Was it really to be “fit and thin?” No. I wanted to be me again. I pulled out my journal and wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do and be because I was healthy. “My WHY for being healthy is to hike, run, and play. I want to be able to accomplish massive physical feats, I want to be active again, and explore everything around me. I want to be ME again.”
Every morning, before starting my day, I would look at that entry. Within that same year, I had hiked the highest peak in the continental US. I ran not one, but three marathons. It has been 5 years since that entry, and I have added other goals to that WHY- but I still read it. Every single day. It has been my purpose and foundation to sticking with my health goals. That practice changed my life.
Eating and living a healthy lifestyle is truly the best decision we can make for ourselves. And while the decision to start may be simple, staying on our health journeys are critically dependent on our reasons why. Find your “why.” Write it down. Look at it every day. And if it needs to change and adapt to your life, then let it change. Your why will be your key to success to living a healthy and happy life.