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Discovering Your "Why" for Being Healthy: A Guide to Understanding Your Motivation

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

I must admit, I am "heavy" on helping you to understand your WHY. And I cannot disagree with Friedrich Nietzsche, who famously said:

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Let's not dive too deep into philosophy here, but you got the main point.

Our values flow from our identity - who we think we are. We find our values when we answer questions like:

  • What do I want to be?

  • Who do I want to be?

  • What is important?

  • What is “right”?

  • What really matters in life?

I believe that to be truly happy, we must live in harmony with our deepest values. If we don’t, our bodies and minds will eventually rebel and our lives will suffer.

Think of a time when you did something that went against your values.

Let’s say you consider yourself an honest person. Recall the last time you told a lie. How did it make you feel? Probably pretty crappy, right?

Now, remember the last time you stood up for your value of honesty and told the truth, even though it wasn't easy. How did that make you feel? Probably not so great at the time; but in the end, it did feel right for you.

When you go against your values, you feel bad. It drains your energy and vitality. Everything seems more difficult and frustrating (no, sometimes it is not lack of sleep or too much work. Unless, again, your job goes against your values).

When we live our values, we feel good, and we’re able to fully express our potential.

We live and work with integrity and authenticity. If your behaviours don’t match your values, you might still become successful. But deeply happy? I doubt it.

The “5 Whys” approach.

This system was originally used by the Toyota Motor Corporation. The idea is very simple: you come up with a statement and ask yourself five consecutive WHYs.

Here's how I did it when I decided to study nutrition.

Why did I decide to study nutrition?

Because I was tired of discovering tons of confusing information about healthy eating - I wanted to be able to share nutrition research and science-based tools with people who most needed them.

Why did I want to share this information with the world?

Because I struggled with extra weight, body image and hormonal imbalances for years. I felt the pain.

Why did I struggle with these issues?

Because some I was born with and could not change the situation, while others affected the quality of my life.

Why did they affect the quality of my life?

Being overweight had a great impact on my confidence as a teenager, my self-esteem and the ways I was building relationships.

Why did this have such an impact?

Because growing up, little Evgeniya didn't receive unconditional love and acceptance from her family.

Wow. That’s a lot of detail for a few little questions.

As it turns out, It's not about just studying nutrition, it's about unconditional love from my family. Interesting stuff.

Now it’s your turn to play. Why do you want to stay healthy?

Really. Give it some thought. Be honest.

There might be plenty of reasons:

  • Good health allows you to enjoy life to the fullest by engaging in physical activities and pursuing your passions.

  • It reduces the risk of chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

  • Mental health and overall well-being boost your self-esteem and confidence. It can also lead to a longer life, giving you the opportunity to spend more time with loved ones and achieve your goals.

These are all great reasons, and I am sure a few of them resonate with you. But how deeply do they speak to you?

Curiosity is a part of being human. It pushes us to think about who we are, what things mean, and our place in the world.

And sometimes (ok, most of the time), it is not easy to find answers to these questions.

This is the existential dimension of life - the part of us that seeks purpose and deeper meaning.

A super important topic as it’s closely linked to our health, well-being, and ability to get results in other areas of life.

The fact is, most of us are in the constant state of “seeking” without realising it.

We may think we want a new diet, workout plan, health routine, and so on. But often, we are trying to fill a larger void.

And without checking in with our deeper “why,” we sometimes may find it difficult to stick to healthy behaviours, because, at the end of the day, what’s the point? Life is too short, so why not indulge here and now?

When we understand our reasons for doing things and what feeds our souls:

  • We have a deeper “why” for our work and lives. “Work” doesn’t have to be a job. It needs to have meaning for you, whether it is gardening, caregiving or practising a skill.

  • We have a strong sense of self-worth. We feel like we “fit” somewhere in the world and that we are valued simply for being us.

  • We feel part of a “bigger picture” or a larger purpose. This could be taking care of a plant or a loved one. Or being of service to others.

Now, how do we get here?

Well, like everything in life, practice makes progress.

So along with exploring Big Questions like:

  • Who am I as a person?

  • What do I believe in? What matters most to me?

  • What am I doing in my life? What should I be doing in my life?

  • Where is it all going?

it’s important to take daily actions that help build our existential resilience.

Go outside. Look up at the sky. Really think for a minute about just how big the space is. Like, huge.

People typically experience the meaning of life by connecting to and valuing something larger than themselves—a divine being, the universe, or some broader project.

We can practice this by purposely shifting our focus to things larger than ourselves.

This might happen when:

  • You are in nature, looking out on a landscape or the depth of the sea

  • Observe your child, and realise that trillions of chemical reactions had to go just right to bring him into this world

Even physically moving our eyes to a long-distance focus can help us reflect on our ties to the bigger, wider world.

Give it a try yourself. Observe what you feel and what comes to mind. It might feel uncomfortable and awkward at first.

But eventually, you might be surprised to see how a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life - how your WHY - improves and sustains your health and resilience in all aspects of life.


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