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Why are you overweight? 

A while ago I put a question up on Facebook, it was: ‘I've got a question: For those of your who feel you are over weight, what do you honestly think the reason is for you being overweight? No judgement here, I'm just interested in the answers.’

That day I had been thinking about what overweight people think is the cause for their current place, which lead to me putting this question up. I received over 150 answers to this question and in these answers there was a level of honesty that I hadn’t predicted I would get. Facebook is such an open forum so I didn’t know if people would want to reveal their struggles, I was wrong. These people shared some amazingly honest insights into why they battle with their weight. 

One of the interesting things about the different answers was that there wasn’t one main theme that came through, there was more like eight or nine. Here are some of the key themes with some of the answers I received:

1. Lack of control: ‘Made excuses for and to myself. Lacked/(maybe still) lacking willpower when it comes to food and wine, and a definite lack of balance in life when it came to prioritising exercise.’  

2. I don’t prioritise my own health: ‘Change in lifestyle & becoming a mum. My wee man takes priority now and I've taken a step back so not as much time to train, and grab food on the run rather than prep for myself’. 

3. Poor planning: ‘Laziness with cooking (not my fave activity) especially at the weekend. I'm good during the week, all meals planned out and measured, but lose the plot Friday night, and then it's wine time!!’ 

4. Health reasons (both mental and physical): ‘Depression - alcohol - weight gain - boredom - alcohol - weight gain’. Another example ‘An under active thyroid’.

5. History of bad habits: ‘Eating behaviours which in turn became eating habits as a child which are very hard to break as an adult.’

6. It’s so hard to change: ‘My reason, I make bad food choices and I am lazy! Want to exercise but procrastinate all the time. Want to start running again just need to get motivated.’

7. Lack of activity in your life: ‘Lack of motivation to exercise (more so in the winter)’

8. A weakness for certain foods: ‘Hungry jacks is evil I tell yah. EVIL!’

9. I’ve tried and it’s just so hard: You try, you get so far then some shitty thing happens and it all goes back on. You feel defeated, you think stuff it, why bother, you get so low, that the idea of starting again is embarrassing and people will laugh at your failures (current status as we speak).

Many of the answers on their were a combination of more than one of these examples. Also many people expressed the dissatisfaction that they felt due to them being overweight, here’s an example of this ‘I really need some inspiration to get back to my old self as I am struggling’. 

As I was reading these answers I wished I could have gone back to each individual with a solution that guarantee that they could achieve change. A solution that they could instantly embrace and implement in their lives with ease.As this question revealed, there is no one reason for why people are overweight. There is also no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The reason this question is an important one for those who are over weight to honestly explore is that if we truly understand what our cause is maybe we can start to address this area. 

I was speaking to a girl a couple months ago who was on a weight loss journey. From what I remember she had been as big as 150kg. When I was speaking to her she was down to around 120kg. She had achieved so much but at the same time there was still a long way to go on her journey, a journey she had been on for nearly six months. One thing that she expressed to me was that her weight loss journey was hard. It was about day in, day out assessment, refining, learning from mistakes, trusting that she will get there, and getting back on the horse when she had set backs. It took effort, an effort that I think I would struggle to maintain for a long period of time, but she was getting there. She was changing her life which was changing her weight. 

If we want to create change an important place to start is at the route cause. If there was any value in my question it was that it may have helped people honestly see what they needed to work on. If from their they are willing to commit to working on that area maybe they will move towards the change they desire. 

This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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Fitness Behavior 62 - The tools in my Bat Belt

As an instructor I'm always looking for new ways to motivate the people in front of me. A few weeks ago I discovered a tool that I had never used before that helped take the people in my class to the highest levels. On this episode I share these tools with you. Plus I share some thoughts on other areas that have been on my mind lately. 


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How do people talk about you? 

As a fitness instructor you are always trying to discover new ways to motivate people when they are working out. Over the years I’ve developed a toolkit of motivational techniques to help people find new levels within themselves when they are exercising and when I’m teaching a session I try to figure out which tool is best to use at different times within the workout. When I get it right I look up and see a group of people working to levels that they normally wouldn’t achieve, this is a very satisfying moment. 

The other night I was teaching an RPM class, which is Les Mills’ cycle class, and I discovered a new tool to add to my motivation toolkit. There was a drop in the music which subconsciously told my class it was time to recover but at the same time they needed to prepare for a hard working section. This was my moment to say something that could inspire them as they headed into the challenge they were about to face, I said;

‘Many of us worry about what others think about us, we are concerned about what they say about us and how it might be bad, but what we sometimes forget is that many see the good in us. When people think about you they see the great things, when they talk about you they share these with others. What are the good words people say about you? What are the things in you that others admire? Why are other people’s lives better because you are in it? In this next working section I want you to show me your good, your great, the sides of you that others talk about with admiration.’  

I set them off on their working section and suddenly I was faced with 50 people destroying themselves. They were all displaying the great side of themselves, I was loving it. 

We can be very unfair on ourselves when we consider what others may think of us, it’s probably our own insecurities that are to blame as they have the ability to magnify the areas we struggle with within ourself. This focus on our struggles can lead us to think that the whole world only sees this side of us, we then put too much attention on this particular area and expend a disproportionate amount of energy into trying to disguise this part of ourselves to the world. The reality is that while the world may see this side of you they are much more open to the whole you, all of the different parts of you that make you you. Sure, they may see the areas you struggle with but they also see so much more, including the good.

A good thinking exercise to do around this topic is to consider how you think about other people in your life. Think about one of your good friends, how do you see them? Do you only see the bad? 

When we think about our own insecurities our job is to work on them in a way that allows us to move both towards and away from them. We need to gain a deeper acceptance within ourselves around these areas but at the same time we need to make sure that they don’t become all-consuming. They will remain part of us, they make up part of who we are but we don’t want to let them completely overtake our lives as this can be both restrictive and destructive.

One approach that can help at the times where we find ourselves consumed by our own insecurities is to allow ourself to see the good that others see in us. Sometimes we think that if we put all our focus on what is wrong within ourselves this will motivate us to change but my question is ‘how has that approach worked for you in the past?’. If this approach hasn’t created the change you desire it’s probably worth trying a different approach. 

As I was looking up at those 50 people absolutely destroying themselves in my RPM class I learnt that by allowing ourselves to see the good within us, we can be inspired and motivated which can take us to a higher level. 

Next time you catch yourself being concerned with what others think about you, maybe you could stop, turn it around and allow yourself to also see the good things that those same people see.

This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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