The 5 “Why” Exercise

In athletics, general fitness, and life, there are times when we can just feel ‘stuck’. The hardest part about feeling stuck is trying to get unstuck. Hm, “hello Captain Obvious.” How do we become unstuck without falling back into the same feelings or situations in the future? Understanding the 5 “Whys” of where you are. I can’t take credit for this exercise but will give credit to Ken Johnson of Primal Kneads who taught me this a while ago.

Here is how it works. 1) Identify what you’re stuck in 2) Write 5 reasons WHY you are stuck 3) For each of those 5 reasons write 5 reasons each of those exist 4) Repeat for EVERY REASON WHY until you have hit an ‘ah-ha’ moment where you can pick a few actionable items and move forward. You’ll be amazed at what you realize.

Not quite sure what I mean? Here is a quick example that might sound like something an average athlete would say:  I don’t have any drive to do my workout today

Why:

1) I am exhausted all the time

2) I feel like I have no energy to focus on the workout

3) I’d rather do housework

4) I have no time

5) I just feel lazy

From each of those 5 reasons you then write 5 more reasons WHY you feel that way like so…

Why #1: I am exhausted all the time:

  • I didn’t sleep well last night
  •  I don’t think I’m recovering correctly from my workouts
  •  I had nightmares when I did sleep
  • I don’t have any extra energy to get through anything but basic things
  • I am on emotional empty

Why #2: I feel like I have no energy to focus on the workout

  • The kids suck all my energy away
  • I have too many problems spinning away in my head
  • I’m distracted
  • I have no idea what my goals are for the workout so I don’t care if I don’t have energy for the workout
  • I’m just being lazy

Why #3: I’d Rather Do Housework

  • Because my husband/wife expects me to have a clean house
  • I am looking for excuses so I don’t have to do my workout
  • I hate messes and I wont be able to focus on the workout if the house is a mess
  • Its a more important ‘thing’ than my workout
  • I think cleaning the house is more fun than my workout

Why #4: I have no time

  • I didn’t get up early enough to do my workout
  • I have too many errands
  • I do have time, I’m just looking for excuses
  • I promised my husband/wife we’d hang out tonight
  • I would rather spend my time doing house work

Why #5: I just feel lazy

  • I have no idea why I’m doing this workout
  • I have no ‘spark’ to do the training
  • I am not sure what my goals are
  • I feel sluggish from eating crap food
  • I didn’t get quality sleep

From all 25 of these reasons then create another set of 5 reasons why each of those exist. Here’s an example of #1 broken down further:

Why #1: I am exhausted all the time:

  • I didn’t sleep well last night
    • I ate too much sugar right before bed and had a stomach ache
    • I had a coffee in the afternoon after 2 pm which I know makes me stay up but I was so tired!
    • I couldn’t get comfortable
    • My nose was stuffy and couldn’t breathe right
    • My husband/wife snores loudly
  •  I don’t think I’m recovering correctly from my workouts
    • I’ve totally slacked on taking my protein supplement right after workouts
    • I don’t plan my nutrition/meals as well as I could
    • I think i’m training too much and not being honest with the data or my coach
    • My legs are sore to the touch after my workouts but I’m not telling anyone about it
    • I feel sluggish even during the day when I am not working out
  •  I had nightmares when I did sleep
    • I’ve been super stressed out at work/home
    • I can’t stop thinking about one situation
    • I watched a scary movie this week
    • I got into an argument with a coworker at lunch yesterday
    • My anxiety has been very high as of late
  • I don’t have any extra energy to get through anything but basic things
    • I’m spending all of my energy on my anxiety
    • Work is sucking the life force out of me
    • I am having a hard time managing my energy in a variety of places
    • I’m an introvert and being around people stresses me out
    • I had to give a big presentation at work and it took all my energy
  • I am on emotional empty
    • I’ve had to take care of sick kid this week
    • My husband/wife is having a hard time and I feel I need to be the rock for them
    • I am too giving to friends and family members emotionally
    • I let my emotions manage me not the other way around
    • I want people to like me so I spend a lot of time worrying about others

 

As you can see this process can go on and on and on and on and on. What you’ll find is that patterns will emerge. In this case the athlete feels “Lazy” is a high anxiety athlete and tends to put others needs before their own. This athlete would start to see that in writing as he/she continued the exercise.

Go ahead and give it a shot and see what you find out about yourself!