It's a new year, we've had our holiday celebrations with good food, eggnog, beer and wine, and now
many of us want to get healthier and slim down. Was that also last year's goal? And, if so, did you succeed in meeting last year's goal? If so, I'd love to hear your success story (email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org)! If not, you may be motivated to begin working toward this goal, but doubtful because that was last year's goal and the year's before and before that. If this describes you, or if this is your first year to make such goal, I don't want you to make the mistake many of us have made to get healthier and physically fit.
In case it has not resonated with you yet, dieting is not the answer! Research and mere observance of our society shows that restricting ourselves is rarely successful long term, and often ends with gaining any weight that was lost and more. Why? It's simple. We are not just bodies with basic needs and instincts to eat, sleep and reproduce. We do have those needs, but we also have more complex needs that don't always sync with the basic ones. I hear all the time in weight loss discussions, "I know, exercise only attributes 10% to weight loss...90% of it is diet." When it comes to physical wellness, weight loss and looking good, we typically think, "diet and exercise," right? If so, let's not keep those our primary focus, because that's probably what you thought of last time when your attempt did not work, or worked but didn't last. Yes, I am a Fitness Specialist, I work in a gym, work out a lot and have gotten obsessed with exercise and nutrition a time too many; but through trial and error, good influences and common sense, I know they are a very small part of success in well-being, happiness and our ability to become and stay physically fit. You've probably heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, but when is the last time you've given them much thought? Another recent influence I've learned a lot from, Tony Robbins, refers to Six Human Needs. Both of these concepts can give us insight to reasons beyond diet and exercise (comprising our basic needs), so we can acknowledge all the other needs, we may not be fulfilling or fulfilling insufficiently, that may be attributing to our inability to achieve and maintain our physical goals. So, instead of thinking weight loss involves 10% exercise and 90% diet, we can start thinking it may include 10% diet and exercise and 90% emotional well-being.
These are the two lists I am referring to, and I highly suggest checking out the links I've shared, from which I got this information.
The Six Human Needs, according to Tony Robbins:
1. Certainty: a survival need to enable comfort in knowing we can avoid pain
2. Variety: uncertainty; surprises we want
3. Significance: desiring to be unique, special and needed
4. Connection & Love
6. Contribution: to serve a purpose greater than oneself
According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs:
1. Self-actualization: to achieve one's full potential; creativity
2. Esteem Needs: sense of accomplishment
3. Belongings and Love Needs: intimacy; friendship
4. Physiological Needs: diet, exercise, sleep, water, oxygen
Maslow's Hierarch of Needs demonstrates the importance of mental and emotional well-being with only one-fourth of the needs being physical. Tony Robbin's list illustrates those three non-physical needs in more depth. I show these to emphasize how important our non-physical needs are, when considering our overall needs for well-being. So, when we find ourselves craving more of the physical needs than we physically need, it is important to consider that we crave them in attempts to fulfill one of the other needs we are lacking in.
According to Tony Robbins, whether positive or negative, we become addicted to things that fulfill three or more of The Six Human Needs (https://www.tonyrobbins.com/podcasts/why-we-do-what-we-do/). In case it is difficult to relate to the list, I'll share a few examples.
Certainty may include unwillingness to leave a detrimental relationship, continuing to work a job you hate or refusing to take risks for fear of failure. Maybe you've lived with, married or kept a friendship with someone who drains you mentally with negativity, but it's all you've known for years and the situation may give you financial security and predictability; so you don't want to pursue anything that may offend this person or cause heart break. The goal, in this case, is to find certainty in things that promote positive certainty, not negative certainty. Try to remember a time you took a risk and proved you were capable of the strength, independence and determination to recover from the hurt, loss, bankruptcy, divorce, etc. If you cannot think of a time you were successful in taking a risk of uncertainty to gain positive certainty, confide in someone who has (Can't think of anyone? Email us at email@example.com).
Desire for variety is enticing and scary, capable of making us crave good, bad, pain, comfort, anger, happiness and sadness. Sometimes we get complacent in an area that provides certainty, so much that we neglect our need for variety. We may become addicted to negative/painful experiences, because they trigger emotion, possibly giving us the fulfillment of connection and love (when we may have become numb to it otherwise), variety, significance in experiencing something unique and maybe even a sense of contribution from suffering at the expense of thinking we are helping another. So, it is important to examine these needs, whether they're fulfilled or neglected, and continually set new goals to avoid filling them with unhealthy habits.
Eating disorders and exercise obsession may also be negative attempts to provide unfulfilled needs. Adhering to strict diet and exercise programs may fulfill certainty, providing areas we can maintain control of when we may feel out of control in other areas of life. Eating too little or exercising too much may provide significance in fulfilling something unique, what most people wouldn't do. Eating too much may be prompted by an attempt to ignore a lack one or all of these needs: certainty, significance, connection, love, growth and/or contribution. Overeating may also be a response to lack of physical needs, like lack of sleep, hunger or dehydration. We typically disregard one or more of these emotional and physical needs when we restrict our diet and exercise regiments too much, which is why it often results in a struggle with overeating.
These are a few examples, but none of us are alike, so we must investigate ourselves to determine what needs we may be lacking or fulfilling with unhealthy habits. An easy way to assess whether or not we are ignoring our needs when attempting to live healthier lifestyles, is to ask ourselves "Why?" we want to eat healthier, exercise more, etc. If our reason is superficial or does not expand beyond selfish desires, it's unlikely to fulfill our needs or provide enough motivation to persist. Before planning another diet and fitness routine, assess the needs you may be lacking in or filling negatively, then think of reasons greater than yourself to succeed. Maybe reaching your fitness goals is dependent on filling the absence of certainty, variety, significance, connection and love, growth or contribution.