Why Your ‘WHY’ Is Vital For Fat Loss

Why Your ‘WHY’ Is Vital For Fat Loss July 16, 2023Leave a comment

This blog post has been adapted from my latest book, Mind Over Matter: How To Build The Ultimate Dieting Mindset, which you can purchase on Amazon today, HERE.


There always exists some iteration of a dating show on television. 

While nothing compares to the fabled Saturday nights in, watching Blind Date in the 90s, a new programme will pop up every few months, promising love, fairy tale endings, and, usually, a large, cash prize. 

Each show starts with the same format. They pan onto a new ‘hopeful’, focus on a notable physical attribute, and ask them what they’re looking for in a potential partner.

“Kind. Funny. Generous. Good personality,” the optimistic individual replies. 

Unfortunately, such archetypal descriptions are worthless. 

Why? 

Because the way in which human brains are wired means they can only provide hollow and meaningless explanations when presented with questions like, “What are you looking for in a potential partner?” and, “Tell me why you’re best suited to this job” – or, “Why do you want to lose weight?”

It’s that single question, “Why do you want to lose weight”, however, that can provide us with a new method of adhering to the necessary behavioural actions to achieve the goals we want.

We don’t need ‘motivation’ or ‘willpower’ to succeed; but a strong, clear why.

Why Do You Want To Lose Weight?

We have two distinct mechanisms in play within our brain: a rational system and an emotional system. 

The rational side, powered by a part of the brain labelled the neocortex, is responsible for methodical answers. It is revealed through language. 

When individuals describe what they’re looking for in a lifelong companion, they’re utilising a rational outlook on things. Justifying the extensive list of character traits that they’re seeking, with arbitrary words like “kind”, “funny”, and “nice nose” is easy. 

They, and their audience, understand them. 

What those phrases fail to do, however, is expose the real reasons any contestant is searching for a potential soul mate.

We also possess the emotional system, simultaneously chuntering away. That side, powered by a part of the brain called the limbic system, is responsible for feelings and emotions. 

When presented with the question, “What are you looking for in a potential partner?”, the person’s limbic brain arena lights up and churns out a host of reactions and sensations. 

What is sensed could be encapsulated in sentences such as, ‘I want to feel the love I missed as a child’, or, ‘I crave someone who can make me feel secure in myself’. 

Alas, though, they can’t actually communicate these cryptic feelings and desires, but only sense them. 

They, therefore, turn to the neocortex to provide superficial and typical answers, in phrases like, “A good sense of humour”. 

Logically, they know the answers they provide aren’t the real reasons; they’re simply words used to describe facets of what they want. 

The answers from the limbic brain provide a true understanding into these honest justifications; they explain why they want certain traits in a partner, rather than focus on the ‘what’ of any named, specific traits.

Feelings are the real driver behind people’s wants and needs and, subsequently, also behind change.

This disconnect – between their ‘what’ and their ‘why’ – can, however, provide us with a deep insight into how we can achieve, and sustain, dieting success.

Ask anyone why they want to lose weight, or change their physique, and they’ll fashion the quintessential answers: 

-> “Because I want to be healthy.”

-> “Because I want to look better.” 

-> “Just, you know, because…” 

Those are the surface-level, logical reasons that people typically present. 

They’re powered by the side of the brain housed by the neocortex and are akin to saying the person wants a partner who’s “generous”. 

These are the responses they think will invoke change, but are nothing more than a bulletproof shield, used to protect them from the underlying and genuine reasons that exist. 

Individuals never truly express what they want and why they want it. 

Yes, the initial reasons they provide for wanting to lose weight appear effective and interesting, but those never enable them to develop long-lasting change.

To successfully lose weight, we need to unearth our ‘why’ – understanding how shedding a few pounds will make us feel.

Just like finding a new partner might make us feel comfortable with some of the flaws in our upbringing, or with something we feel we lack within ourselves, losing weight and parading a new physique will expedite other emotions. 

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Harnessing Your ‘Why’

People are desperate to lose weight, not because they want to acquire a ‘bikini body’ or to ‘be healthy’, but because of the gap between how they currently feel and how they want to feel. 

This, ultimately, is your ‘why’ – and is the biggest influence on durable, behaviour change. 

As Simon Sinek, in his book, Start With Why, says, “Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain lasting success. When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain growth and inspiration.

Your current feelings are concealed in a thick, protective cerebral layering. Surmounting that layer and dredging up those feelings is, however, painful. 

You know those emotions and judgements will reveal issues you don’t like, which is why you keep your head above the water, pretending you’re content with life, and just want to be a touch ‘healthier’.

There is, typically, a host of emotions buried beneath the ironclad exterior people present that’s preventing them from eating well, exercising frequently, and looking the way they wish. 

Some of these emotions may be more pronounced than others but, when these are brought to the fore, they inspire change. 

Life events, and the way they’re interpreted, impact people’s ability to lose weight.

Hence, it’s easier to say ‘no’ to the cookies, and get to the gym five times a week, following a relationship break-up, or medical diagnosis. 

The pain stokes passion and enables change and persistence.

More often than not, however, that pain will be more subtle. You’re going to have to dig deep and ask difficult questions to find it. 

Did someone comment on your last holiday, Instagram-post, saying you’d put on a few pounds? Do you avoid social events because you’re fearful of photos being taken? 

The answers to these questions will reveal your ‘why’. 

It’s not because you’re scarred from a previous comment on your physique; more so, that you don’t feel approval from others. It’s not because you don’t want photos to be taken; it’s more that you’re fearful of others’ opinions. 

These are the reasons behind those surface-level arguments for wanting to lose weight. These powerful ‘whys’ invoke change, provide clarity, and serve as a point of reference for when you’re too tired to cook, or someone’s brought yet another pyramid of Ferrero Rocher’s into the office. 

Once you’ve uncovered your current disposition, you can then look to the future at how you want to feel. This will provide you with direction. 

It will enable your limbic brain to join forces with your neocortex to guide you, instead of veering off into a chocolate-glazed wilderness. 

There’s a reason why most brides manage to lose weight for their wedding. 

They envisage how they want to feel on their special day and, subsequently, do everything in their power to make it a reality. They want to feel comfortable. Confident. Radiant. Like a celebrity. 

They know the cameras will be glued to their every movement, and those cogent emotions may be enough to ensure that every preceding decision aligns with the bride’s goals. 

It’s why they’re often able to diet longer and exercise harder than most. 

That’s a ‘why’ that’s powerful enough to drive significant change.

How To Find Your ‘Why’

Children can be annoyingly inquisitive. Their favourite question to pound you with is, “Why?” 

You’ll go from innocently explaining why the sky is blue to suddenly detailing why there are twenty-four time zones in the world. 

Unearthing your ‘why’ requires a similar level of curiousness. 

Tasking yourself with the ‘Five Whys’ activity will enable you to dig deep and find your compelling reasons for wanting to change.

Start by taking your first reaction to the question “Why do you want to lose weight?” Just like an annoying child, you keep probing, asking yourself “Why?”, to each answer you provide. 

You need to do this five times, at least. 

Analyse each response, until you find an answer that sets off the sirens in the limbic brain. 

When you feel that indescribable urge to take action, you know you’ve revealed your true ‘why’.  

Admitting the underlying rationale for your desire to lose weight can feel unpleasant. 

Answers may, of course, surface that can be unpacked and managed without the need to diet. But, once you’ve discovered your core, burning reason for change, you’ll be able to utilise its power. 

The person in the example above now knows that every decision they make will be aligned with their desire to remove loneliness from their life. 

Will avoiding exercising mean they’ll acquire that desired confidence? Will being side-tracked by the bright lights of another quick-fix diet align with their ‘why’?

You’ll frequently find yourself in situations that test your character.

How do you deal with the array of sweet and savoury snacks at the table? Or that moment when you’re feeling tired and don’t want to go to the gym? 

Reminding yourself of your ‘why’ will impel action. 

If you no longer want to fear loneliness, will losing weight help you? 

If the answer is “Yes”, then will avoiding the sweet and savoury snacks at the table take you closer to, or further away from, that ‘why’? Remembering the reason that captures your feelings and desires (your ‘why’) will drive change – at any given moment.

Discovering Your ‘Why’ Will Take Time

If, when using that underlying reason to embark on a new weight loss journey, you find yourself faltering, you’ll know your ‘why’ needs refining. 

It just isn’t currently strong enough to coax the emotional side of your brain to help you change. Go back and ask again. Find those deep-rooted memories and defining moments that have led to this juncture.

-> “I fear rejection and feel that the bigger I am, the less chance I have of being abandoned.”

-> “My mum used to tell me how big I looked in my school uniform and I now rebel against her wishes.”

-> “I’ve always failed at dieting and don’t want to add another defeat to that collection.”

Bingo. 

That ‘why’ is more important than any pre-workout supplement you might purchase.

You should end up with an answer that means something truly significant to you. 

Generic statements such as “Being healthy” should be disregarded; real reasons for change should be glued to and transported around with you, preferably using the world’s strongest adhesive. 

If you don’t feel the power coursing through you, then you probably haven’t found the right words to describe your purpose yet.


How To Win At Fat Loss

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