To Lose Weight, It’s Critical to Know Your “Why”

Friday Jan 9 | BY |
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Do so many people fail at achieving their resolution goals because of lack of willpower, because they can’t make the time to exercise, or because they’re over thirty?

As the New Year begins, are your resolutions already evaporating? Perhaps it’s time for a new way of thinking about health.

Instead of making resolutions, ask yourself why you want to exercise more, eat less, do more yoga, or lose weight? If your answer is because every one else is doing it, or to look great so more women (or men) notice me, those answers are not the best way to motivate action that leads to success.

Why do you feel the need to make a resolution that you know has a greater than 80% chance of not working? About 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year, but only 14% of people over 50 achieve their goal at the end of the year. Some studies show that only about 8% achieve their New Year’s goals.

Those in their twenties do better. Why is that? My guess is because they have more time, fewer distractions, and fewer responsibilities. They also have more energy and greater exercise tolerance. The prospects are in their favor.

Are the rest of us doomed to failure?


The Benefits of a Diary

Do so many people fail at achieving their resolution goals because of lack of willpower, because they can’t make the time to exercise, or because they’re over thirty?

Sure, some just can’t stick it out, get distracted along the way, or get overwhelmed with responsibilities. There are lots of reasons we fail at New Year’s or any other resolutions.

One reason is that the typical resolution is too general, like losing weight.

Internet sites are full of advice this month about making resolutions stick. Lifestyle coaches cajole us to be more specific and realistic. Instead of a generalized resolution to lose weight, you might write out on a calendar the number of pounds per week or month that you aim to lose.

Losing on average of one pound a week, for example, means you’ll drop 54 pounds by December 31st.

Do you really need to lose that much weight? Perhaps you do, and if that’s the case, you may have to aim for a higher weekly number of pounds to drop. But how in the world do you sustain your effort month after month?

Determination is necessary to achieve lasting results. But it’s not the only determining factor to success. A good notebook to use as a diary of your successes and failures might be more valuable.

We often learn more from failure then from success. Review your notes every night, but if you’re busy, once a week will do. Using a proven system of weight loss that is known to work over time can make the difference between success and failure. Don’t fall for the 8-minute exercise book or the 10-minute weight-loss miracle cure.

Have A Reason

The best motivator is to have a genuine reason to change. Do you know yours?

Simon Sinek, a leadership consultant and the author of Start With Why, asks: “Do you know your why?”

Instead of generalizations, ask yourself: “Why have I gained this weight and why is it so hard to lose? Why do I try every year, and every year fail despite depriving myself?”

“Why? Mr. Anderson? Why? Why?” Agent Smith asked Neo in The Matrix Revolutions. Why do we persist year after year? Why to we fail, yet try again, and fail again, and pick ourselves up and do it again? Why? Why? Why?

Why do you need to lose weight? Build muscle? Do a yoga headstand for three minutes? Why not for fifteen minutes? Why is wheat grass juice good for you? Do you need to drink more, or less?

What’s Your Why?

Now you see why a general goal like losing weight doesn’t produce results. To be successful you need a clear goal and you need to know why you’re doing it.

For example: the reason why I need to lose 15 pounds is because I can hold my headstand longer, or because I feel my very best when I’m at my high school weight, or because my body mass index (BMI) score is 26.6, which is too high for a 5 foot 4-inch woman and I would have a BMI of 24.0 if I lost 15 pounds. Next year, I’ll lose another 10 pounds, putting my BMI right in the middle of normal weight.

Why? Because I believe BMI is a trustworthy guide of computing height to body weight and it comes up with a useful number that serves as a guide over time. Why? Because BMI has been in use for over 100 years and has proven its usefulness because it provides a simple numeric measure of a person’s thinness or thickness, not just weight measured by a scale.

Knowing your why, and your BMI, will allow you to have an intelligent conversation with your doctor if you run into problems getting the weight off. Doctors understand the usefulness of BMI, and they prefer to use it as a measure of health in addition to your weight in pounds.

Health Is A Long Game

When it comes to your health, there’s no final touchdown or winning hoop shot. It’s the relentless drive to hold your own against the effects of aging, the environment, stress, and the culture of sedentary lifestyles that have only gotten worse in the last ten years.

I believe that our health is one of life’s greatest gifts. We can ruin ourselves in many ways. But the return to health has but one road, and it takes time. I respect natural health and teach my patients to take good care of their bodies lifelong. You can do it too, but it may take changing the way you think about health.

Along the way, you’ll need reliable resources. Would you embark on a trek across the desert without a full canteen of water and a map of water sources along your route? A dedicated diary or fitness notebook can help keep track of daily and weekly challenges and successes. Self-help books, audiotapes, and MP3 programs you download from the Internet can be invaluable. But you’ll need more than these helpful tools.

Cooperation is also needed. It’s hard to go it alone. Why not enlist a friend or two to do it with you? A shared goal is an excellent motivator. You can support each other during the suffering and congratulate each other for small success along the way. Friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, and your doctor are but a few of the many human resources you may need.

How To Write Ad Copy to Hire Yourself

When you start with why, your orientation shifts 180 degrees. Now you need action steps. Your first step is toward clarity of purpose. Write out why you want to change. Identify the core reason(s) that explain your why.

Consider writing an ad to hire yourself for the important position of regaining your health. Don’t just say weight loss consultant needed with years of experience. Make it positive. Look for commitment. See the difference?

Man or woman wanted for a one-year commitment for a personal challenge that 90% fail. It will involve long months of going it alone and may require some deprivation. Success is not guaranteed; in fact it is doubtful. Weight loss may occur. Immeasurable increased self-esteem and increased longevity in case of success.

Many Ways To Get There

There are lots of ways to lose weight, but to keep it off requires you to become healthier. You could start small like cutting out all sodas because they have too much sugar; or if you’ve done that already, eliminate high fructose syrups like agave nectar.

You could take on a bigger project, like hiring a personal trainer to coach you through an hour-long intensive workout at the gym four times a week, and going vegan for the first five months of the year.

Regardless of how you do it, when you have a strong sense of purpose—a clear why—you’ll be inspired, and will inspire others around you. Instead of turning your desire to loss weight into drudgery, your resolution to become slimmer and more muscular will energize you.

Don’t just dutifully work at your goal, work towards a vision of a vibrant individual who radiates health and beauty.

Whatever way you choose, knowing your why is the best place to start.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. June Hanson says:

    Why? Because, I am worth it! Most of us, are born with perfect bodies. If adults have a respect for their own bodies, they will be examples to their children as they grow up. How can we be good parents, spouses, if we are not role models? If we are food or sweet junkies, our family will be. If veggies, balanced meals are not our priority. we set the stage for obesity, eventually sickness in our lives. So, we start with ourselves. Whole food, not packaged, manufactured food. Colorful foods on our plates, real, attractive food. Portion control. Except for unsweetened veggies. Smoothies for breakfast, or real cereal, not cardboard, synthetic with inviting pictures on box. Real foods cost less than junk foods. Read labels.

    If you are overweight, smaller meals throughout the day. Gluten free meals will help you lose weight. Not foods, filled with starches, sweeteners, fillers. Leave all flour, out of food. Try high protein quinoa, brown rice, millet, they are so tasty. Keep those flours and grains in freezer or refrig. Quick tasty breakfast: Grains in crock pot at night loaded with cinnamon and/or raisins, or dates. For weight loss, eliminate dates. Try breads with these grains. Always check for added starches & sweetners. Try eliminating dairy products, using goat, sheep, yogurts, without sweetners using organic berries. Almond, brown rice milk. Guaranteed, you will eat less of these grains, they are filling and lasting.

    Most important is finding exercise that you enjoy. Some do better alone. Others need classes or a buddy system for accountability. Alternate, so as not to get bored, except for walking. Minimum of 30 minutes. One thing for sure make it fun, or you will not last. Feel too tired, you will be surprised at how great you feel physically & mentally when you come back from that refreshing walk. Group classes in a pool or a gym, yoga, alternate, get excited to meet new friends, and never give up. Forget, as Doctor said, (he knows best, as he has been my Doctors for years) New Years resolutions. They do not work. Exercise, is the most important thing you can do for “YOU”. It is just as important as breathing. Which, by the way, exercise is a great time to learn to deep breathe. First, taking care of yourself, is the greatest gift you can the person you love. Another great gift, is a spiritual relationship with your creator, who loves you and wants you well and healthy.

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