A lot of the conversations I have with clients start in the same way. Excited to have a nutrition expert at their disposal for a full hour, the questioning begins immediately:
- “What about juice?”
- “Do I need to be gluten free?”
- “What should I eat for breakfast?”
Over time, our conversation shifts. Rather than just talking about the benefits of grass fed meat, or the pros and cons of drinking coffee, we start to talk about why making healthy choices is difficult at work, how to cook with picky eaters in the house, and how to take time for self-care.
As one client told me this last week – “I started working with you looking for you to tell me what to eat. But I’m starting to think that it’s about much more than that. It’s actually about changing my mindset.”
That’s the scary truth most nutritionists don’t tell you (or aren’t willing to work with you on). It’s not simply about intellectually knowing what food to put in your body at a specific time. It’s actually about understanding the patterns in your thinking and the blindspots that are keeping you from getting as far as you want to be.
Now you might be thinking – “that’s not what I’m here for! I want to lose weight or have more energy. I don’t want to deal with mindset mumbo-jumbo.”
But here’s the thing: the gains you make from working on the mindset mumbo-jumbo put the nutrition gains to shame. You start achieving your goals faster and with less stress when you’ve taken care of your mindset around the goals.
If knowledge is power, self-knowledge is all-encompassing, gratifying, amazing power.
This isn’t just true for nutrition – it’s important in all areas of your life. For many of our goals, we say we want to know ONE thing, but we actually want and need the answers to another question.
A great way to understand the goals behind your goals, or the problems behind your problems, is to ask yourself “which means what?”. It helps you get into the mindset behind your statements and understand the core issue or desire you’re working with.
The process is quite simple. You name your goal (for example, I want to lose 10 pounds”), and then ask yourself “which means what?”
Answer the question (e.g., “Which means that I fit in my skinny jeans”), and ask yourself again “which means what?”.
Answer yet again (e.g., “Which means that I’m the same weight I was during college”).
“Which means what?” “Which means that I feel young, energetic, and excited.”
Ah-ha! Your weight loss goal is not just about the number on the scale, or the size of your pants. It’s about your energy, your enthusiasm, and your quality of life.
“Which means what” helps you connect with your why and with the emotional reasons driving your behaviors. Most importantly, this line of questioning gives you a much more compelling reason to stick to the habits that will lead to those goals day in and day out.
So now it’s your turn: choose one goal you’re currently working towards and ask yourself “which means what?” until you get to a core feeling or emotion. Did you learn anything new about yourself or that goal because of your questioning?
Give this method a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.