Asking this question has helped me make some of the biggest decisions of my life and it’s one I pose to my patients regularly as they try to sort through the pros and cons of a new habit, make big decisions about how to spend their time and where they should put efforts when it comes to their health and hormones.
I personally use this to make decisions as big as whether or not to have children and become a mother and as seemingly mundane as having a cookie. It is incredibly useful to get some insight into what is really important to you today – especially when it comes to weight loss or making better choices for your health.
I am calling out weight loss here because while I tinker with hormones and metabolism all day, one of the biggest barriers to success is that many women don’t want to give up time, beloved favorite foods, their favorite workout (even if it’s not the most effective for their goals) or any other manner of things in order to lose weight.
And that’s actually totally OK, did you know that? Something that’s often shocking to women is when I say, “You actually don’t have to lose weight.” They really need to ask themselves if they really want to?
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Take me for example, I currently have a variety of factors working against me for weight loss: I’ve cleared forty, I’m getting far too little sleep thanks to a baby that doesn’t’ seem to care about my cortisol levels and I’ve got PCOS and insulin resistance. I’m training consistently and walking daily. I am currently eating well but I could do more and I’m currently allowing myself wine several nights per week.
This is giving me my current results and I know if I want more progress I have to tighten up my diet a bit, squeeze in more cardio or metabolic work, somehow manage to get more sleep and I need to keep wine to no more than 1-2 glasses per week if at all.
Right now, today, I accept this and am not willing to do more as my priorities have changed these days and I know that more time with my girls, more glasses of wine with my hubby and sleeping in when I can (which may mean missing a workout) are the priority. I’m Ok with this and having a bit more body fat right now because today, that feels like it makes my life bigger and better – while shifting focus to weight loss makes it feel smaller.
I am sure a critic of my body or my work may see this as lazy but I have to take responsibility for what matters to me and decide how I want to spend the mere 24 hours I have in a day. So long as my choices are not detrimental to my health, I am the only one that really needs to be OK with them and today, bumping fat loss to the top of my list doesn’t feel like what I want to do.
I may feel different tomorrow. That’s the beauty of the question: it takes into account the fact that you are allowed to change your mind, you priorities can shift and only you can know what matters most to you.
Today, I don’t feel uncomfortable in my body. If that were not the case then most definitely a shift in priorities will happen. This would make those additional things I need to do feel like they DO give me a bigger, better life.
So here is the question: Does this give me the BETTER life?
Only you can know the answer for you at each juncture.
How To Use The Question
This question can help you decide what to have for lunch and how hard to hit it in the gym today. It can help you decide to take a day off, go to bed early or have a glass of wine. Simply ask: Does this give me a bigger, BETTER life?
“This” an be anything, the question works in every situation.
Let me explain this idea using an obviously huge decision: having kids.
I was 36 years old when Joe and I got serious about pulling the trigger on starting a family. Having kids has some clear downsides: the fiances, lack of sleep, havoc on my body, the 24 hour a day demand of a tiny baby, so little time for myself, and the fact that currently a 4 year old sleeps between me and my husband every night 🙂
And emotionally, the stress, anxiety and sheer terror that comes from loving something so much is hard to even explain – but as we discussed this big decision, I knew it was pretty scary.
With having kids my body sorta went to hell, my personal life feels non-existent most days, my business takes a back seat often and my current pedicure is clearly 4 weeks old.
It is expensive, stressful and challenging in ways that seem to get more intense by the day. But….it gave me the BETTER life.
For me, becoming a mom made my life bigger and better. Looking at the downside though, I can see where someone would not find that it gave them a better life. It’s so personal what makes your life work for you, what makes it better in your view.
The cool thing is that there is no right answer…but that’s also the tough thing. No one can tell you what makes your life BETTER, you have to trust yourself.
When it comes to weight loss, it’s such a key question because let’s face it, sometimes losing weight means giving up something you really enjoy like sugar or alcohol or it takes time to get in more workouts when you’d rather be doing something else. And you know who is successful at doing those things? Someone who feels that they are important to them, that they are the priority. Someone who feels that losing weight does indeed give them a bigger, better life.
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I mean if you’re feeling not at home in your body, uncomfortable on a daily basis, then the answer is obvious right? Doing those things gives you more freedom, makes life expand, makes you feel better. If you’re at a point where that doesn’t feel true, you’re likely to start a diet or weight loss plan and throw in the towel in a couple weeks.
So ask yourself:
- Does losing weight give you the BETTER life?
- Does it make your life bigger or whittle it down?
- Does it make you happier?
- Does it bring you more peace?
Because so many women I work with have weight loss or body change on their agenda, I see first hand the lengths some will go to in order to make their body different.
And I’ve personally experienced my life get both BETTER and worse when I’ve lost weight. Before Ultimate You was released I was dieting like a crazy person. My life – and my body – were shrinking, shrinking, shrinking. I saw my friends less, I missed out on many things in order to squeeze in another workout or because I felt I lacked the willpower to be around food and wine and stay my course. And although my thighs have never been smaller, I’ve never been more sad or more unhappy. My life has never felt so small.
Right now I choose a little more freedom in my nutrition, the occasional cocktail with my hubby, plenty of walking and weight training, some sprints, and aiming not to miss time with my friends and family because I either “feel fat” or because I fear going out to eat lest I “get off my plan”.
I do still always avoid my food sensitivities and take my supplements as well as routinely check that my bloodwork and hormones are in line. If not, then obviously it would make my life better to do more for my health.
This leaves me a few pounds heavier than at my leanest, but my life feels bigger. It feels happier and better for me – right now.
And that’s MY life. My life today. Tomorrow? I’ll let you know.
So ask yourself: does weight loss give you the better life?
I think supporting our hormones and living a healthy lifestyle always makes our life bigger and better. We have more energy, we do more, we enjoy more, all of it, more.
But weighing a few pounds or even many pounds less doesn’t necessarily increase those things to the same degree. They certainly can, but the question goes back to: does it make your life better?
Your life, right now….would it make your life BETTER?
If your answer is YES, then it makes doing the things you need to do easier. They feel good, there’s less strain and pressure because they make your life BETTER. As long as you’re constantly asking the question, your answer will be the right one….the right one for you.