The Five Whys

Well it’s Tuesday as I type this and my fridge is healthily stocked and I’m drinking my green juice, which means it must be time for an update on “New Year, Same Old Me, But Trying Hard to Make Some Lasting Changes”. The juice really is quite green, but it doesn’t taste all that bad. Kale (it’s not as trendy as it used to be, so you don’t need to roll your eyes quite so much), an apple, a plum, green melon, some walnuts, turmeric, spirulina (natural algae – full permission to roll your eyes – a supposed nutrient-dense, high-protein “superfood”). It is extremely green. And some extremely overpriced macha green tea powder. For the liquid I used ginger water which Hubby made last week by boiling raw ginger. Simple as. If one thing’s for sure, being healthy is expensive and labour intensive!

Last week I spoke about how difficult it is to achieve goals when they are vague and not clearly defined. The second part of my Sleek Geek challenge was all about making these goals more concrete and ensuring you have a clearly defined reason for change, otherwise it will be virtually impossible to make it stick. To do this, you really need to dig deep and start asking yourself some serious questions about what it is that you value in life, and why; what kind of person do you want to be, and why? Are you currently living according to those values? Chances are you’re not, or you wouldn’t be in this position (unless you’re just reading this purely to follow my journey – which is ok too 😊). In this modern age it is very common for people to feel unfulfilled in their jobs, and even in their lives as a whole. As though they are not living their life’s purpose. They are falling short of the mark somehow. This is not what they thought their lives would be. Very often, this is because their life is not in-line with what they value.

Bestselling author and esteemed life-coach Robin Sharma has a saying that “Your schedule doesn’t lie”. He believes he can look at your schedule and automatically tell what it is that you value because those will be the things that you prioritise and place importance on in your day-to-day living. If you say you value family but your schedule doesn’t allow for any family time, then either you are lying, or you are living a life that is not in-line with your values. Human behaviour specialist, Dr John De Martini similarly believes that to get to the core of your value system you need to examine your life and be honest about how you spend your time, energy, and money. What are you most passionate about? What dominates your thoughts? In what areas of your life are you most organised? When you are truly honest with yourself about these questions, you might find yourself surprised by the answers, and that’s ok. It’s ok to change your value system, as long you’re prepared to change your lifestyle to align with it.

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Know your why

Knowing what’s important to us and why gives us direction and purpose. As with change being a skill that needs to be practiced, if we really want lasting change in our lives, we need to get to the bottom of why we want that change. And I’m not talking about “I want to be skinny” surface reasons here, I’m talking about the really deep, “five years of therapy” reasons. To do this, Sleek Geek recommends a process called the Five Whys.

Five whys

You begin by identifying what it is you want to achieve. You then ask yourself why you want to accomplish this. You then further the process by again asking why, interrogating your previous answer and asking why that reason is important to you. You ask three further “whys”, each time questioning your previous answer until you have gotten to the bottom of why that thing is important to you, what difference it will make, why it will matter. Once you have your real “why”, which is distinct and very personal to you, you will have something very concrete to hold onto when the going gets tough.

So here are my Five Whys for why I want to make some serious lifestyle changes this year:

What do you want to achieve? Overall improved health and fitness.

Why #1 I want to feel better about myself.

Why #2 I want to give myself the best chance at life, where I have a positive body image, and better self-esteem; and can give myself a better chance at a higher quality of life.

Why #3 I feel like I have more to offer the world and my health problems are holding me back from being a better wife, a better writer and a better person.

Why #4 I want to live a good life for as long as possible, where I can positively contribute to those around me and I need my health to be able to do that.

Why #5 If I don’t make significant lifestyle changes there is a very real chance I will encounter even greater health problems in the very near future and I will never be able to accomplish my dreams of having a family or publishing a novel.

So, there we have it folks. If Why #5 isn’t enough motivation to put down the chocolate and go for a walk around the block, I don’t know if anything ever will be. You don’t get much more dramatic than that.

Chief Seattle

It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change… bleugh!

Please Let it fit

Last week I had a “oh my god, I am not going to fit into my dress at my next fitting in two and half weeks” meltdown. It wasn’t pretty. Ever since putting on a bunch of weight during a very difficult year of my life six years ago, I have struggled to love my body. I get angry at myself when I think about how healthy I used to be and how easily I ‘let myself go’. I make all sorts of deals with a potential higher power – just let me go back to how I was then, I swear I won’t let this happen again! PLEASE! But our choices determine who we are and my choices have made me fat.

Everything was as easy

Last year I turned a corner and finally exited the denial phase. The phase where I thought an entire year of bad eating habits and limited movement could be undone with a little bit of walking and eating more vegetables. I needed dramatic change, which required dramatic efforts. And so began the lifestyle change.

I started exercising in earnest, personal trainer and all. I started eating healthily and cutting back on the junk food. My mood started to lift and the grams started to fall off, albeit very reluctantly. The buffet of tablets I take for my epilepsy makes losing weight extremely difficult (excuse #1?). By Christmas I had lost 4.5kg; nothing to write a book about, but enough to make me proud of myself. Fast forward to last week and I have put it all back on and then some.

What happened? I’m not really sure. Wait, that’s not entirely true… I have a fair idea. I fired my personal trainer (irreconcilable differences), I sat still a bit too much and took comfort eating to a professional level. Turns out I lied to the potential higher power – Even if they returned me to my original state, I would probably end up making the same bad choices.

People tell me to go and see a dietician, but I feel like that would be a waste of time and money. I know what I’m supposed to eat and what I’m not supposed to eat. A knowledge gap is not the problem here, a lack of willpower is. But during last week’s meltdown I discovered what truly powers the will – the love and support of friends and family. Everyone I reached out to came back with words of encouragement; none of the blame and belittling that was going on in my head; no self-righteous suggestions, only reassurance and inspiration. I could do this. I can do this!

Dress Workout

Mixing a bit of everyone’s thoughts together I came up with this: being overweight is just like any other battle one has with oneself. It’s an addiction to hedonism; to the easy way out. It’s unfair. Others are blessed with a fast metabolism and skinny genes, I am not. And so I must fight. One step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time. This isn’t a sprint, or even a marathon; it’s my life. This may have a starting point, but there is no finishing point, I can’t let there be. Some days I will sail through, other days I will need my friends to carry me. It’s a fight I have to win.

It’s only week one but I’m ok. I managed to avoid the birthday cake for a colleague and the roadtrip to KFC during lunch hour. I managed to drive past two McDonald’s on my way home from work every night without insisting that we go there for dinner. I know there will be days when I eat the cake, days when I join the roadtrip and nights when we go to McDonald’s. And that’s fine. Because I will be kind to myself. This isn’t a race, this is my life. Once step at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time.

I hope to update you regularly on my progress (or lack thereof). Please share your stories in the comments below. Maybe we can help each other.