Using Your WHY PowerApr 10, 2023
My line in the sand, and my WHY, was that I did not want to get diabetes. Years ago, my doctor at the time said, "There is no such thing as pre-diabetes. You have it or you don't." Apparently, by that definition and by those standards, I had it, although I had gone through years fooling myself into thinking I had not gotten there yet – that I could fix it in yet another three months between blood tests. You will find that no amount of willpower to stick with a healthy eating plan will be as strong as using your why power.
Here is your roadmap to Using your WHY power:
Some of my personal story below you may have heard me talk about in other blogs or on my podcast, but it is so important, I felt it needs repeating, so please indulge me.
A friend recommended that I read Why we get fat and what to do about it by Gary Taubes, and for the very first time in my life I understood that the calories-in-calories-out theory of weight loss is seriously flawed. For the first time I understood the connection between food and insulin and fat storage and weight loss. No wonder I never lost weight on Weight Watchers with all those 100-calorie packs of cookies and crackers! No wonder I never lost weight while strictly following Paleo with its unlimited fruits and root vegetables! No wonder I never lost weight with hypnosis, mindful eating programs and intuitive eating sessions (all touting that everything would be perfectly under control if I just learned moderation)! No wonder I was an A+ dieter all my life, but a D- weight loser. I almost cried when I realized it was the food and the insulin – not MY shortcomings. The diets failed ME – I did not fail the diets.
I realized I needed to get healthy first and the weight loss would come
My WHY was always to get healthy by losing weight. It never occurred to me that I needed to get healthy first and then the weight loss would come naturally. In my case, especially, the health would come by lowering insulin levels and healing my insulin resistance. I had never heard the expression "insulin resistance" but now it meant everything to me. Prior to reading Why we get fat and what to do about it, I did not know that it is ALL about the insulin and that healing the insulin resistance would be the answer to losing weight. Of course, there was some vanity mixed in with why I wanted to lose weight – but I was a professional belly dancer – so I was comfortable in my own skin and thought I was attractive and wore clothes well, and didn’t give a second thought – even at 100 pounds overweight – about walking past people in a bathing suit!
Once I learned about insulin resistance, I checked fasting insulin numbers going back more than 10 years. At one point my fasting insulin was 46.5 (normal is 5 or less) and I had one triglyceride reading of over 400 (normal is under 100). My doctor at that time advised eating less pastry. He sort of said it in a joking tone so I can’t blame myself that I never took any of these numbers seriously. My fasting blood glucose was always around 110, and that is the only number that old-fashioned conventional doctors are trained to look at when they pronounce that you do or do not have diabetes. I was ignorant myself of the meaning of any other numbers.
I started Keto to get my insulin numbers to a healthy range
Bringing my numbers into a healthy range was my WHY at the time I started Keto. I needed to re-examine my WHY periodically – as it changes. I have a little further to go (my fasting insulin is now 12) and so the WHY of health is still there but then I worked on a new WHY. As I internally began to get healthier, and feel better, and yes – look better – I wanted to learn more about this way of eating. I started to devour (ah yes … a food term…) resources. I began to learn more and want to learn more. During this time, I signed up for personal Keto coaching. My WHY at that point became to not give up during a busy summer and to stick with Keto long enough to figure out the logistics of Keto that work for me. Do I track or not track; do I count total carbs or net carbs; do I eat three meals a day or do I start intermittent fasting; etc.?
I wanted to learn to incorporate Keto into my family and friends' lifestyles too
As I found answers for myself, my WHY became learning how I could incorporate Keto into my lifestyle more comfortably and make it work with my family. For instance, we spent every Sunday with the kids and that means brunch, afternoon snacks during football season, Sunday dinner and helping pack the kids’ lunches for the next day. Also, my husband and I used to own a restaurant in New York, so we really were all about the food – we did all the cooking for family events – whether at our home or my daughter’s home.
I worked very hard during this time not to stray from Keto and all of my WHYs, and after about 7 months my coach suggested that I consider becoming a coach myself. I thought, if I am going to do this then my new WHY needs to be to really walk the walk and talk the talk. I enrolled in a nutritional coaching program, completed it, and began coaching friends and family who were interested in Keto. I learned even more about the Keto lifestyle, and I became Granny Keto!
Even through a series of family crises, my WHY kept me on track with Keto
During these months I had several crises that showed me that I had the strength to stick to my new WHY which was wanting to be healthy and to be authentic so that I could feel honest about being a Keto coach. In the Fall of 2017, my new grandson had a bowel obstruction and was hospitalized. I took care of my three-year old granddaughter, juggling taking care of her and working. It was a short period of time, but I did not crumble under the stress – between going back and forth from the hospital, staying overnight with her, and then dropping her off at daycare then going to work, there were lots of meals out, or in the hospital – and the distance was a triangle with one-hour distance between my daughter’s house-work-my house. But I did it! This pales in comparison to the next set of crises.
In December I got a call from California that my sister had 12 hours to 3 days to live and I had better get out there from Boston. This call came at 11 AM on a Sunday and I was on a 4 PM flight that day, packed and ready for about three days. She came through the crisis, but the outlook was not good. I stayed in California about two weeks, came home and then turned around and went back Christmas day and stayed until sometime in January. My first visit she was in the hospital, and I went back and forth from the hospital to her – again all meals either at the hospital or at restaurants. For the second visit, she was in hospice near her condo, and I used that time to empty her condo to put it on the market – we knew that she would never be returning. It was a heartbreaking and stressful time. I went home on a Thursday, and she died the following Monday. That Friday we had the funeral. Three weeks later was my mother’s funeral.
I was finally getting my footing back when one morning (the first Friday in March) I hear my husband yell, "Get me to the hospital," and that was it – he was unconscious. We got him to the hospital just in time as he had a ruptured "Triple A" (abdominal aortic aneurism). Everything was aligned and they got him into surgery and somehow, he survived a 7-centimeter shearing off of his abdominal artery. In two days, he had 9 pints of his blood replaced (and our bodies only have 11 ½!) but he survived. The doctor said there is no protocol for survival with this situation, but he made it. So, as I sat there watching my husband on a ventilator, I realized that life is precious and if I have it at my fingertips to live a healthy life then just do it.
When I was in California, when both my sister and my mother died, and especially when I had my husband’s crisis, I would post on a Facebook page I belonged to, and I would receive comments and messages that, because someone saw my strength and determination and resilience to stay Keto and not turn to food to comfort myself, it gave them the determination and courage to not give in to their old familiar habits. Where there was adversity, somehow I found strength – I knew that no amount of candy or cake or overeating of any kind would bring back my mother or sister or help my husband. I knew that to come through to the other side I needed to be strong and healthy and not lose myself in old eating habits and comfort food. So now I had my next WHY – It was time to take the plunge – get a real website going and social media and ACTUALLY become a coach! AND HERE I AM!!!
I have many more fluid and current WHYs, but I this was my early process in figuring out what was important to me, giving me the strength to carry on.
As you can see, if my only WHY was "Lose 20 pounds to fit into a dress," that moment would have come and gone. It might be a good enough why to sustain you enough to lose 20 pounds, but you will gain it back as soon as you go back to your old habits and ways.
These are lessons on using your WHY power. Let’s work on finding your WHYs.
WHYs need to be fluid and ever-changing
There is nothing wrong – at all – with a WHY to lose 20 pounds or look good in a bathing suit. Both valid and both motivating, but we need to look beyond the scale and beyond the clothing size to stay the course in our journeys.
Finding your WHY, the reason you are motivated and determined to find a new way of eating, is the touchstone for a successful transition to a new lifestyle. Your WHY can be ever-changing. There are many valid WHYs. You are entitled to as many or as few as you want. You can have more than one WHY and your WHY can change whether or not you have seen your first WHY to its conclusion. You will see in the process I describe, that sometimes finding your WHY can follow many steps. Any one of those steps is a fine WHY. You just have to dig until you make sure you are on board with the right WHY for you at the time.
- Your WHY is very much like goal setting that we will cover in the next episode. However, unlike goals you can be vague to a point, but sometimes you will be better served if you are very specific.
- As you narrow down the specificity of the WHY you sometimes get to the rock bottom of what will keep you on track.
- Let’s follow this process to get to the ultimate WHY – but it is entirely possible that each WHY can stand alone.
- Explore the process so that you can see that there might be more behind a WHY than you think!
- I want to lose weight.
- I want to lose weight so I will look good in clothes.
- I want to look good in clothes so I will like what I see in the mirror.
- I want to like what I see in the mirror because then I will feel better about myself.
- I want to feel better about myself because then I will like myself.
- I want to like myself so that I can do better for myself.
- I want to do better for myself so that I can be proud that I honor my commitments to myself.
- I want to honor my commitments to myself because that is the kind of person I want to be.
- The ultimate WHY in this example is “I want to be the kind of person who feels good about herself and who honors her commitments and sees things through.”
- However, sometimes a WHY needs no process such as my WHY: “I want to follow this program because I need to lower my blood sugar to a healthy range.”
- In my case I didn’t have to take the WHY through a process, but the WHY did change and evolve.
When I started Keto, my only WHY was to bring down my fasting blood sugar, which I did, and remarkably so.
- Then I wanted to learn all I could about Keto and live the lifestyle to become a coach which was my next WHY, and I did it.
- My next WHY was to incorporate my years of being a dance instructor into my coaching program, which I did when I wrote Dancing with Low Carb and Keto.
- Then my WHY became that I wanted to see it through and stop weighing, measuring and tracking, which I did by coming up with my Protocol Meal Planning.
- Each of these had goals attached to them, but I had to have the WHYs in the first place in order to formulate my goals.
- Many times during this journey I lost my way, but mostly because I lost my WHY.
- I had the piece of bread or the dessert because I had forgotten that keeping my blood sugar low was an important WHY.
- Or I got careless with my Protocol Meal Planning because I forgot the earlier WHY of wanting to be a good coach who lives the lifestyle she teaches.
- In this example, the goal was to do Protocol Meal Planning every day.
- The WHY was because I wanted to live the Keto lifestyle to be a good coach.
I have talked about the fact that we are not machines, and sometimes living in the Land of Good Enough is about as perfect as it is going to get.
- This does not mean that you should not strive for better and best. It just means that as you pass through good enough that you don’t need to beat yourself up for being there.
- And also, the expression “Life Happens” does mean that life happens, and try as we might, we get sidetracked.
- However, the stronger our WHYs and the more we keep them in front of our face and forefront in our mind, the less chance of being sidetracked no matter what happens.
What mistakes we making with using your why power?
- We don’t acknowledge that WHYs are fluid and all of them are valid.
- We confuse a goal for a WHY.
- We don’t parse out the many layers of the WHY.
- We don’t remind ourselves often enough of our WHYs.
Why are we making these mistakes?
- We make these mistakes because sometimes we think there is only one WHY or one layer to the WHY.
- We make these mistakes because we just think them in our heads and don’t write them down and investigate whether there are many layers to the WHY.
- Another mistake we make is that we don’t keep these WHYs right in front of us.
What is the cost of making these mistakes?
- Because we don’t get clear on our WHYs we do not get clear on our goals.
- A favorite saying of mine is that “A ship with no wind in its sails has no direction or destination.”
- That clarity is the wind in our sails.
- It give us direction and points us toward our destination.
HERE IS YOUR ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE FOR THIS WEEK
- Write out all the WHYs you can think of and whether or not they need a process.
- Everything is valid, but don’t confuse a WHY with a goal.
- A goal is the action you need to take to achieve the WHY.
- For instance, my WHY was that I didn’t want to get diabetes.
- The goals might have been to measure my blood glucose daily, not eat bread, or walk 30 minutes daily.
- Then go back and number them according to priority and importance to you.
- Get some index cards and write either one WHY on several cards or use several cards to list several WHYs.
- Put them in your kitchen, your office, your bedroom, the car and anywhere else you will look at them.
- THEN, LOOK AT THEM! DAILY. MEAL BY MEAL if that will help you.
- Revise them and shuffle them around.
- Add new ones.
- Put some positive self-talk and affirmations on those cards as well.
- Read these out loud.
- Punch a hole into the corner of each card and take the packs you have made for each room and run a ribbon through them.
- Read them like a book.
- Read them to your infant as a bedtime story.
- Make this project a living and breathing part of who you are and who you are going to become.
When you tell yourself that you are someone who keeps commitments, you will become someone who keeps commitments. Using your WHY power will see you through almost anything... much more than willpower will.
This week's VFO (Valuable Free Offer)
I hope you have downloaded the two free guides I have given you, The Good-Better-Best Method and Using Your Hunger Scale. With this blog I would like to introduce you to Five Steps Out of Diet Prison and the Four Lists You Need. After the previous blog on what foods do in your body, I thought it would be the right time to introduce you to foods that tend to raise your insulin and mess with other hunger hormones.You can download it below.
Learn more about this with my book and course:
Book Breaking Free From Diet Prison: Common Sense Keto and Low Carb
Course Keto and Low Carb Success
If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to listen to it as a podcast, it is at Keto and Low Carb Success Episode 4.