Finding your way

In Trucker's Health, September 20225 MinutesBy Laura HulleyOctober 8, 2022

It may seem obvious why you want to improve your health and wellbeing, but sometimes having broad and generic reasons to change your lifestyle may not be compelling or motivating enough to make that change. Here are some simple ways to find your why – the reason you want to make changes.

1. Frame your goals in a positive light
Starting any health journey with a negative motivator can be debilitating. Some motivators have underlying negative connotations – for example, if you completely change your eating habits because you ‘don’t want to be fat’. Instead, you could reframe it and say, ‘I want to feel confident in myself.’ That way, you create a new lifestyle for positive and healthy reasons rather than basing your reasoning on something superficial or negative.

2. Be specific in your goals
It’s good to want to feel better about yourself and be healthy and fit, but sometimes it can be helpful to set yourself a more specific and, therefore, more measurable goal. Many of my clients will pick a specific event or milestone they want to reach as a short-term motivator.

For example, signing up for an event like a 10km walk or focusing on a special family occasion, such as a wedding. Although I am always focused on the bigger picture and overall health, it doesn’t hurt to have short-term stepping stones along the way to keep us on track.

3. Tell people about your goals
It can be helpful to enlist the help of friends and family. If the people around you know what you’re trying to achieve, they can be more supportive and encouraging.

If they have no idea where you are at with your health and fitness process, they may not understand why you’ve suddenly changed what you’re eating or have swapped leisurely activities for exercise. Getting the people around you on board in your journey to success is important.

4. Don’t get lost in the daily grind
It’s often easy to be hard on yourself and be critical about missed workouts or eating takeaways. But it is essential to praise your efforts along the way – rather than at the end of your journey. Write down one small thing you’ve done each day that has been a step toward your big goal.

For example, ‘I made a healthy meal for dinner when I felt like getting fish and chips.’ Or ‘I didn’t feel like going for a walk tonight, but I pushed through and did it anyway, and now I feel great.’

5. Think about how you will feel when you reach your goal
Whether your goal is large or small, it’s important to attach feelings and emotions to it. For example, ‘I am going to feel so proud when I complete my 10km walk in two months’ time.’ It’s not about ‘I will be happy when I’m 10kg lighter’ because that is a negative way to frame things. Instead, ‘I will feel so confident when I’ve become healthier.’

6. Be realistic
If you’ve never set foot in a gym, maybe don’t set a goal to go seven days a week. It’s okay to start small and build up. Start with three sessions a week of your chosen exercise. Let your body and yourself get used to that routine. If and when you feel comfortable, you can always increase your sessions to four times.

One of the biggest mistakes I see with clients is creating unrealistic expectations, feeling disheartened if you don’t meet those expectations and then giving up.

7. Reflect on your WHY
Before setting any health and fitness goals, it is critical to understand why you are setting them. Ask yourself these questions; how will I benefit from achieving these goals – why am I doing this? What am I willing to do to achieve these goals?

Write down your answers somewhere where you can reflect on them often. When you’re feeling off track or have lost your way, refer to your why and how you committed to achieve it. It’s like a contract with yourself; you are your own CEO, checking up on your progress.