This seems like an obvious answer to most people. There are a myriad of reasons for wanting to lose weight, ranging from aesthetic to health promotion and disease prevention. But what lies beneath our obvious and perhaps surface level body change goals? 

On a recent call with a client – 6 months after working together, we uncovered her root desire for wanting to lose weight and get stronger. Feeling weak made her feel vulnerable. Brené Brown describes vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” I’m certain that we’ve all experienced emotional discomfort like this before. It’s destabilizing and scary. Fear compels us to ignore or stay far away from discomfort because of the painful responses it evokes. Feelings like shame. Thoughts that we are flawed and unworthy. Physical sensations like palpitations.

Today, I’m going to challenge you to acknowledge your pain, and use it to move forward. Easier said than done, I know. You could run into some blocks with this. It all depends on your current situation. Right now, it’s important to speak your truth as you know it today. And maybe this will help:

Discomfort drives change. 

Most people find it easier to engage in change when it solves a pain rather than when it fulfills a desire. In this case, my client feels driven by the pain of feeling weak rather than the desire to get stronger or to reach a certain weight goal. 

Our fears and pains can be a powerful motivating force. We can leverage this knowledge for good rather than seeing it as something negative that ought to be ignored in favor of something more positive, but certainly less authentic. 

This activity can bring up thoughts or feelings that have been hidden beneath the surface, and below your conscious awareness. If so, then now is the time to bring them to the surface with self-kindness. Use this awareness to infuse the intentions you’ve set for yourself already. Or, use it to shift gears and realign. It all depends on your current situation. 

The importance of ‘Why”

Whether it’s meals, movement, mindfulness or metabolics (the 4Ms of Metabolism) that you’re targeting to support your metabolism, it’s important to understand why you’re doing something. 

Of course, I nor you will always know why we’re doing something. 

So here’s a little thought exercise called The 5 Whys. The idea is that you ask a “why” question, like: “Why do you want to lose weight?”

Answer that question as best you can. For instance, you might answer: “I want to look and feel better.”

Then, you ask “why” again. Like this: “Why is looking and feeling better important to me?”

You answer that question as best you can. Maybe you might say: “I believe that looking and feeling better is essential for my mental and physical health.”

Then, you ask “why” again, like this: “But why is mental and physical health an essential value for me?”

And you answer that question. “Well, because…”

And so on, five times in total. Or as many times you as want. It’s important that each “why” builds on the previous answer.

By the time you’ve gotten to the fifth “why”, hopefully you will have a pretty good sense for your core priorities, values and motivators.

You can also try variations on these questions, using “what” questions like: 

  • What seems so important or valuable about that?
  • What pushes you towards doing that?
  • What would it give you, or change for you in your life?
  • What would bother you about that if you didn’t do or get that thing you wanted? 

You might experience some revelations regarding your own behaviours in terms of what is and isn’t working. Your current lifestyle habits may not be aligned with your true intentions for body change. Hopefully, this thought exercise can support you in taking meaningful action toward your true and desired goals.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash