“Dude, if I got paid what those actors get paid I’d be freaking jacked too!”

“I could get in sick shape if you paid me a million dollars, yeah!”

And I’ve heard plenty of others like this. It’s this sense that somehow money is the ultimate motivating factor in being in the best shape of your life. It’s what thousands of “challenges” offer up as their reward following a 30 day or 8 week weight loss challenge. The popular online program among the fitness industry, Precision Nutrition, gives away tens of thousands of dollars annually to their clients who excel in losing fat or getting into better shape. Hell, I personally know a couple who owns a very successful gym out in California who, at the end of the challenge they ran, awarded the top winner a weekend stay on Richard Branson’s private island! After hearing this I asked one of them why they would go to such an extraordinary length, to which the blunt reply was “because we don’t f*** around”.

Well alrighty then!

But all this got me to thinking “why”? And at first glance that seems like a stupid question to ask, doesn’t it? It’s freaking money after all! And there ain’t isn’t such a thing as too much of that is there?

But I decided to think a bit deeper. Go beyond the obvious. You see, in my line of work it is really important (scratch that, it is crucial) that I find what motivates each individual client. And you already probably guessed that it’s different from person to person. And you’d be right. But did you know that there is more to the story? It involves looking at the situation from both an external motivational standpoint and an internal standpoint as well. And what we know is that long term adherence to something like, say eating well and exercising, is correlated not as much with external motivators as it is with internal ones. Now this is probably a bit of an oversimplification, as it will no doubt vary from person to person, but overall, the internal motivators are what I’m looking to get to. Sure, external ones such as money or a trip to an island are great in the beginning, but the shine or luster wears off after a while. And that usually occurs before we’ve had enough time to develop the habit.

“What would your life look like if you lost 50 pounds?”

“So you’re looking to lose ‘x’ amount of weight. Why?”

These are just a couple of questions I ask my client’s regularly. They may seem kind of dumb to you, but they are really important. Most people come to see me because they step on a scale, look in the mirror, or need to buy new clothes because the old ones don’t fit. Or maybe their doctor told them they need to lose weight. That one comes up quite a bit too. But aside from the doctor recommendation, those are really more about vanity than anything else. And not that there is anything wrong with that. AT ALL! Hey, we all want to look good naked, right? But long term success rarely results from just wanting to look good. There just isn’t enough pull for it to last longer than say, a few months. That’s why you see 21 day fix, and 90 day whatever challenges. You don’t see many 730 day challenges do you? And that’s because no one can jam on the gas pedal that long. But 21 or 90 days isn’t enough to establish habits for most people either. So my challenge is getting to a more internal motivator.

Often times I ask the “so you’re looking to lose ‘x’ amount of weight, why?” question at the end of the session. And I then tell them to really think for a long time on it. Don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind because that usually goes back to vanity. And what I find when they come back to me a week or so later is that they’ve found the actual reason. It’s not to look good or because their doctor said so. Here are a few examples:

“I need to be there for my grandchildren”

“I want to watch my kids grow up and get married”

“I won’t live past the age of ‘x’ if I don’t change”

“My dad died of a heart attack and he wasn’t even 50”

Is the theme starting to sound familiar? Sure, looking good is great, but the real reasons hit home hard don’t they? That’s why I have to keep Kleenex on my desk. Many of my clients end up crying at the thought of what might happen if they don’t change. And I also know this:

Win the heart and the mind will follow.
The mind can easily create logic to justify
what the heart has already decided.

So I’d like to pose a question.

Why is it that money is this big motivator in the weight loss industry? Is money really more important than your health? Your spouse? Your kids? Why not change for them instead of something that, according to The Notorious B.I.G, only causes mo problems anyways? Why not do it for you?

Til next week…