About a year ago I was sat in a team meeting at Canterbury Rugby Club. We spoke about the technical objectives of the season, individual goals for the season and other general goals. At the end of the meeting one of the things we were asked about was our 'Why'. Why is it you're playing rugby? It was a question that to be honest I didn't really have an answer to. I think possibly as a result of that I ended up having a pretty poor season plagued by injuries and below average performances and it got me thinking just how important is it to have a 'why'...
So, let's apply this to health and fitness. To go into something without a 'why' is to go into it without purpose. How can you achieve a desired result when you don't even understand the reason for wanting to achieve that result (be warned I'm about to go off topic). If for example a hunter goes out hunting for food, knowing that if he does not return home with a kill the likelihood is that his family will starve, then you can bet that he will come home with something or at least try his best. Now compare that to someone going hunting, just because they want to... How far is that person willing to go to achieve the outcome of catching something? The answer is, probably not as far as the first person. Why? Because the first person has a much stronger reason... A stronger why!
When we make that leap to decide to become a healthier person, whether it's becoming stronger, fitter, more flexible or changing dietary habits, there is usually a why behind us taking that action. It could be as simple as, "I want to have a flat stomach" or something like a hereditary illness within your family that you want to avoid falling victim to by creating a stronger immune system, higher lung capacity or lower body fat percentage. I have come to find that the stronger the reasoning behind making a health conscious decision the more successful the individual will be in achieving their desired results. I'm sure there have been studies to back this up but to be honest it's common sense, the stronger the why - the stronger the result.
It's been a while since I've said anything controversial.... So here we go. With Corona Virus being perhaps one of the most Darwinian pandemics that I can think of, it begs the question, what part does a healthier lifestyle have to play in our defence against a virus like COVID? We can to a large extent control how much excess body fat we have through controlling our energy balance, how high our lung capacity is through intense aerobic activity, how strong our immune system is through a balanced and varied diet and how functional and strong our neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems are through weight training and functional movement patterns. Now this is not to say that doing all we can to enhance all of these aspects of our health will grant us immunity to this virus. But. It will be interesting to see in time as we pick up the pieces from this horrible pandemic if simply being healthier through these or other aspects relating to heath related choices would have aided our tolerance to it. And.... if we knew this in advance would we as individuals have enacted change or would that not have been a strong enough why for some of us?
As a Personal Trainer and Strength and Conditioning coach it's important to understand that the strength of a why is completely individual. For one person an aesthetic goal might outweigh a heath based why. So it's important to find out what the driving factors are for the individual and to implement them as a driving force for change.
Once you decide on your 'why', to start on a journey the next step is making sure your reasoning is strong enough to battle against the choices it will come up against. If your 'why' is, 'to impress a girl you sort of fancy' and your mates ask you out to the pub for a big lads night out.... Your 'why' might not hold its ground. On the other hand, you could be running a marathon in aid of a charity very close to you, and this night out would affect your training significantly enough to keep you on track. Through this journey of becoming healthier you will face plenty of questions like this, so it's vital that your 'why' can stand up to them.
Next time you find yourself wondering if you should exercise, ask yourself why and make sure that why is good enough to get you into that gym, pool or whatever you fancy, and if along the way you fancy a bit of guidance and structure then give me a shout and I would be more than happy to help.