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Why, Not What.

This blog is a bit of a deviation from my norm, but it is important. If you are working with me it is because you want to make a change to your nutrition. You have a goal. You know WHAT the goal is. But do you know WHY that is your goal. The real, true, honest reason why.


What vs Why


What your goal is might be ‘to get a six pack’ or ‘to hit a 200kg deadlift’. For some people, this might be enough. Just having a ‘what’ to aim for is enough of a drive to commit to the changes needed to get there. But most of us need to know our ‘why’ for this to happen.


Why, for the drive to succeed


I want to gain 2kg of muscle. This is my ‘what’. Great. I can have a nutrition and training plan designed to get me there. But it requires a change from the type of training that I love and a more regimented eating regime. So it is easy to skip a day here, do something fun there, miss a few meals … just because I want to. I need to know my ‘why’. My why is that I want to gain 2kg of muscle to support an increase in strength, to improve my weightlifting and gymnastics so that I have the confidence to compete in a small CrossFit competition. Understanding this ‘why’, i.e. the purpose to my goal, increases my commitment to the steps needed to get there.


Why, to know what next


Even if the ‘what’ is enough to get you to your goal, I would argue that even more of us need to know our ‘why’ to know what to do once the goal is reached. What do I do once I reach my 2kg muscle gain? If that ‘what’ was my sole drive and focus I might get there and think ‘Rigghhtt, goal achieved. Cool. Hmmm. What next? Guess I can just relax then’. And I risk stagnating or, worse, regressing. But knowing that my ‘why’ was have the confidence to compete, my next focus and goal comes naturally … I reassess my athletic weaknesses to know what I need to focus on next, and my goal – and therefore training and nutrition plan – develops naturally from this.


Why, to avoid red herrings


If I just have a ‘what’ I may spend time chasing a goal that doesn’t mean that much to me and may interfere with other priorities in my life. If my goal is to gain 2kg of muscle mass, but I am planning on training for a 250km ultramarathon then I likely have a problem. For an ultramarathon, if I am already pretty fit, that much additional muscle mass may be unhelpful. It will burn through more fuel during the race, meaning I have to eat more, risking increased gastro issues and having to carry extra weight in food through the race. The ‘what’ goal doesn’t match with my current life. By evaluating my ‘why’ I may realise this and that gaining muscle mass may need to wait. I might adjust my ‘what’ goal to one focussed on improving my aerobic capacity and lactate threshold … which fits my ultramarathon aspiration.


So think about it. Think about your current goal. Think about why it is your goal. And think what that means for the sacrifice and changes you are willing to make to get there.

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