What Matters To You?

My husband’s employer provides free health coaching services and I am a shameless “free stuff” junkie so I got on the health coach train years ago (I highly recommend it!).  On a recent phone call, Sarah, my health coach, was going over some ideas of how to stay engaged when I am out exercising. She knows about my lackluster history of exercising, including a failed stint at T-ball and a habit of walking the 50-yard “dash” in elementary school.  As Sarah talked about things to do once I am in the mode of exercising, I interrupted her mid-sentence with a question.

“Sarah, what do you say to people who are in the moment before actually getting out there and exercising?  How do you motivate us?  I mean, them…” Like a sales clerk who had been tasked with finding a different size and color of a shoe, she thought for a second and said, “Uhm, well, I guess I would say to ask yourself what matters to you.”

It turned out to be a powerful question. A week later, I was lying on my bed, knowing my window of opportunity to exercise was upon me and it wouldn’t last long as I have two small children.  As I lay in a puddle of potential apathy, I remembered to ask *the question*.  What matters to me?  Does lying on my bed and watching Gilmore Girls whenever I want to matter to me? Or does something else matter to me?

Turns out, there are other things that matter to me. These are just a few:

  • Being healthy enough to keep up with my kids and being patient and kind toward them (which means “go low” on the sugar intake)
  • Not lying in a hospital bed in my older years because of weight-related health problems
  • Having enough energy left at 5pm because Lord knows there is still plenty more  to be done around my house at 5pm
  • Fitting into the clothes I already have and not having to buy larger sizes so my tummy won’t hurt from the pull of my waistband.

I admit there have been moments when the answer to “What matters to you?” has been a real toss-up.  For instance, a restaurant deliberation over choosing a grilled chicken salad or a carb-laden creamy pasta dish when I’m actively trying to lose weight begs the same question: “What matters to me?”  By stopping to ask this question, we buy ourselves one more minute to consider our priorities and hopefully make a choice that we’ll later celebrate.

Steven Mast