Remembering My Why

Whenever you’re working to achieve a long-term goal, it’s important to keep your focus on WHY you’re doing it. You may just have one WHY, or you may have dozens. When it comes to losing weight and getting healthier, I’ve got several. A lot of them have to do with my family. Some of them are more about me. A few are both.

I want to lose weight and get healthier so that I don’t die. That’s a Why that’s for myself and my family. Over the last decade or so, an alarming number of people in my family have died relatively young (50s, early 60s) from what were in many cases preventable causes. Not necessarily related to obesity, but from unhealthy lifestyles and because they either couldn’t or wouldn’t get treatment. I don’t want to be one of them.

I want to lose weight and get healthier so that I can be more active. Talking to the doctor the other day, she asked what kinds of sports and activities I enjoyed before I got fat. I like to hike. I can still do that, but it’s much more limited than I’d like. I love to swim. I can’t really do that any more. When I was younger, I liked to sail. Can’t do it. I liked to ride a bike (not spandex and the weird shoes, not hurtling down a mountain, just riding my bike around town). Can’t do it. I liked getting together with a few friends and going to a park and playing touch football, volleyball (esp. beach volleyball) or basketball. My kids play basketball, volleyball and soccer, and about once a year or so, I’ll try to join in. It almost never ends well. I have a set of golf clubs that I haven’t touched in 15 years.

I want to lose weight and get healthier so that I can travel. I like going to new places. We rarely went on vacations when I was a kid, but once I was old enough to get around on my own, I’d jump in the car on Friday after work and just go somewhere. Anywhere. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I didn’t really care. I’d sleep in cheap motels, in a tent, in my car. Whatever. I’d visit little nowhere towns on the weekend of their Turnip Festival (or whatever). I’d stop every 20 minutes to read a historical marker. I’d visit old cemeteries and weird little museums. It was great. But these days, I travel as little as possible. Which is not only a bummer for me, but also for my wife and kids. More than a few hours in the car is difficult. Airplanes are a freaking nightmare. Even getting around the city on the bus can be challenging–I try to avoid peak times because I need an entire seat.

And other Why that I just remembered today (and that prompted this post) is not a big one, and it’s mostly just a personal one. I want to lose weight and get healthier so that I can wear normal-sized clothes. Now, generally speaking, I’m not a guy that cares much about clothes. For the most part, I take a utilitarian approach to the whole thing. I like clothes that are comfortable and functional. I do not enjoy shopping for clothes (and never have). For the last decade (or more), I’ve tended to wear a sort of personal uniform–the same thing every day. Open my closet and there are a half dozen identical black polo shirts. Two identical pairs of blue jeans. Four identical pairs of tan shorts. Four identical pairs of cotton track pants. Four identical black t-shirts. What I wear is mainly determined by the season and whether I’m at home or going out. Mostly, I’m happy with my system (my wife is most definitely not happy with it, and my pointing out that Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg do it too doesn’t help even a little bit).

But occasionally, I’d like to wear something different. Last year I went to a Springsteen concert, and would’ve liked to wear a tour t-shirt. But they didn’t sell them in my size. This morning I saw a sleeveless “workout” shirt that said “I AM ONE WITH THE FORCE, THE FORCE IS WITH ME” on the front, and I wanted to buy it (only $15 at Amazon), but they didn’t sell them in my size. That bummed me out a little bit, but it also reminded me of one of the reasons why I’m doing all this. So in a way, I guess that’s a good thing. One of the many email newsletters that flood my inbox on a daily basis was all about the importance of matching your goals to your Core Values. I don’t think clothing, style, or fashion really fits into any of my Core Values, but reducing limitations created by the choices of others does. Most clothing companies choose not to make clothes in my current size. I have no control over their choices, decisions and behaviours. I do have control over mine. This isn’t a big motivator like trying to live longer and do more things with my wife and kids. But I think there’s nothing wrong with having a lot of little motivators, too. It all adds up, right?

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