775: Make Your Brain Work Better with John Assaraf

Hi friends, I’m excited to share with you all another helpful episode of Primal Potential! Primal Potential is a podcast all about you — your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now, no matter what stage you find yourself in life! 

Have you ever wanted to access the full potential of your brain? Do you feel like your inner voice convinces you that you’re not good enough to achieve your goals? Negative thoughts and feelings can often overwhelm and hinder us from taking necessary action in our lives. 

Thankfully, there is a way for us to combat these debilitating negative feelings through the helpful advice of behavioral expert John Assaraf. John specializes in tackling the unhelpful neurological responses that keep us in a state of anxiety and inactivity.

Even though our brains’ neurological survival responses help us avoid harm, our automatic responses can often be detrimental to our emotional health and sense of well-being. These feelings of self-doubt and anxiety prevent us from moving forward towards what we want. John’s methods of overcoming our negative automatic responses will significantly increase your brain’s productivity and help you finally step out of your comfort zone. I am incredibly happy to share with you this useful and practical advice from John that will change your life! 

 

Who Is John Assaraf? 

 

John Assaraf is an acclaimed author with two books on the New York Times Bestseller list. Additionally, he built five multimillion-dollar companies, including NeuroGym, which helps individuals increase their mental and emotional strength through exercises geared toward shifting their habits and mindset. 

His background in mindset and behavioral research enables him to effectively help individuals retrain their brains and behaviors to become more successful in every area of their lives. His most recent book Innercise: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power masterfully informs readers on practical tips and exercises to help individuals tap into their brain’s full potential. 

I know you guys are going to love this episode. Get ready to learn some mind-blowing tips on how to make your brain work better!

 

Overcoming Your Brain’s Survival Instinct 

 

At the start of our conversation, we dove right into the main subject of his expertise — the different neurological functions and how they affect us. He explained how the survival instinct has two primary functions:

“… we’ve got this brain and nervous system that is functioning based on a hierarchy that goes like this: any incoming information or any information that’s swirling around in your own thought processes that involves survival is going to raise this high alert. Any threat real or imagined activates this nervous system like nothing else because we want to survive. Right below that, the second hierarchy of how our brains work is avoidance of pain or discomfort. And our brain doesn’t care whether it’s financial pain or discomfort, mental pain or discomfort, physical pain or discomfort, emotional pain or discomfort. Anything that potentially can cause this danger for our lives or discomfort … our brain releases cortisol and epinephrine, norepinephrine the stress hormones that cause us to feel anxiety and causes us to not feel great.” – John Assaraf

It’s painfully ironic that the functions of our nervous system designed for our survival can leave a negative impact on our lives. But thankfully, we are not stuck with these detrimental chemicals bogging us down. John developed a method of exercising your mental and emotional functions in order to control your automatic response better. He calls the technique “innercise.” 

“We think … [of] exercise to strengthen our bodies, muscles, and organs, tissues, ligaments, et cetera … With a little bit of practice, we strengthen the muscles. Well, why not consider that our brain has got neuro muscles? So what if, let’s say, self-confidence was a neuro muscle. What if focus was a neuro muscle? What if your beliefs were neuro muscles? What if your habits were neural muscles, and some were strong and some were weak and some were constructive and others were destructive. Some empowered you and some didn’t. That is the first framework that we need to understand.” – John Assaraf

If we train ourselves to exercise these “neuro muscles,” we can shift our mindset and habits to strengthen ourselves emotionally and mentally to develop a better sense of well-being and pursue the things in life we want. 

 

Calming Your Survival Instinct and Activating Your Thinking Brain

 

John went on to explain the function of the sympathetic nervous system — which he calls the “Frankenstein”:

“Frankenstein is searching your environment to see if there’s anything that could kill you or anything that could cause you real or imagined pain or discomfort … Frankenstein’s on high alert, 24/7 for your entire life. And if anything triggers Frankenstein, Frankenstein releases these neurochemicals … when the Frankenstein part of the brain is active, then we feel stress and anxiety, self-doubt … negative self-talk, disempowering thought patterns … Frankenstein just says … put on the brakes and don’t do it. Just stay in your comfort zone and forget about that goal. – John Assaraf 

That “Frankenstein” part of the nervous system keeps us from accomplishing what we want because of all the defeatism wrapped in our anxieties and negative self-talk. Thankfully, in addition to the “Frankenstein,” we also have the parasympathetic nervous system, which activates the “Einstein” part of the brain:

“So on the very other side of this is the parasympathetic — the calm and respond part of your system, which activates what I call is the Einstein brain. And when Einstein is active … [it] thinks about, ‘Well, what can I do about this? Is this a real threat? Or is it imagined, is there anybody that knows how to navigate through this?’ And [Einstein] uses his imagination to see his way to the result, to the goal, to the vision, to the health, to the finances, to the relationship that he wants to have. He’s always looking for possibilities of how he can while Frankenstein’s always coming up with reasons why it may not work.” – John Assaraf

John’s explanation of the different parts of the nervous system perfectly reflects the kind of mentality we need to adopt. We need to shift our mindset from “Frankenstein” and toward “Einstein” and not let our unconscious neurological response of internal negativity doom us to inaction. We have to push ourselves and train our mindset to get out of our fearful comfort zones. 

John perfectly described the negative loop that people find themselves in when the “Frankenstein” takes over: 

“The emotion of anxiety … is nothing more than a runaway train in our brain around negativity. What if … I hurt myself? What if I lose? What if I die? … That’s a self-fulfilling doom loop if we keep thinking about it and feeling it and not interrupting that pattern. So what most people do is they feel then they think … about what they feel … And they keep perpetuating the constant release of these neurochemicals that takes away blood flow from the genius part of the brain.” – John Assaraf

The cycle of negativity brought on by the “Frankenstein” empowers itself to persist. That vicious self-fulfilling prophecy keeps us in the emotional gutter, making it harder to pull ourselves out of the toxic loop. If you tell yourself that you’re incapable of growing your business this year, then inevitably you will never reach your yearly goals. You feel that self-doubt that haunts everyone, but rather than using your brain to figure out what you need to do,  you say to yourself, “I can’t do this.” 

You waste your brainpower thinking about your inability to accomplish what you want rather than face the problem head-on. Then you continue this loop by saying, “I wasn’t able to expand last year, so I won’t be able to this year.” The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals is telling yourself that you lack the ability to make positive changes. 

John’s signature Innercises help combat this vicious negative cycle. He explained an exceptional breathing exercise designed to retrain your brain so that the “Einstein” can come out:

“What if at any moment, whether when you’re stressed or because you just decided to do this every hour, which I recommend, and you … just stopped and you just took six breaths slowly … in through your nose. And as you exhale through your mouth, imagine that there’s a straw in your mouth, and you have to get all the air flow slowly and gently out through the straw, and you pay all of your attention on getting that air flow slowly out through the straw until there’s no more air in your lungs or your diaphragm. And then what if on the next inhale, you simply said this: ‘I breathe in calmness.’ I breathe out stress or worry or fear or uncertainty. You could breathe in courage and breathe out stress … Now, as simple as that sounds a calm brain does not release adrenaline, epinephrine or cortisol — the stress hormones. A calm brain deactivates Frankenstein because Frankenstein now feels safe because you have just overridden this automatic part of your brain called the amygdala … Now you override that system so you can get blood flow back to Einstein, the left prefrontal cortex.” – John Assaraf

John’s methods of overriding that “Frankenstein” part of our nervous system is incredibly essential because then we can train ourselves to focus on the things that we want to accomplish. It is all about shifting our unconscious behavior to overcome our negative thought patterns. 

 

Committing to Retraining Your Brain 

 

John stressed the importance of not limiting yourself. When we master our “Frankenstein” and “Einstein,” we can push ourselves to accomplish our dreams and rewire our brains. 

“… we’re not hard wired. We don’t have to keep living our lives with limiting beliefs like we’re not good enough and not smart enough and not worthy enough … We don’t have to live with … limiting beliefs … that cause us to stay in the state of scarcity or even just security when there’s success and significance available to us. And all it takes is a shift in our awareness of how to use our brain better … we already have all of the how to … for just about anything that anybody who is listening to this wants to achieve … all of the stuff you want to do all the how to already exists. But if you have fears in your way and you don’t know how to move them aside, you won’t take action. If you have limiting beliefs in your way, and you don’t know how to release limiting beliefs, which is nothing more than a neural pattern, your brain, you will be stuck.” – John Assaraf

John is right, friends — we can retrain our brains to its fullest capacity and accomplish whatever we want. We don’t need to limit our careers or our relationships or our fitness goals. We have what it takes to overcome habitual negative thinking and take control of our lives. 

But there is a catch — retraining our brains takes hard work, and like mastering anything, we need to work on it continuously. 

“We practiced walking, we practiced talking … We practiced everything consciously where it took effort. And then with enough repetition and immersion, it became an unconscious competence … Your beliefs formulate the lens by which you see the world and your brain deletes or distorts everything else that doesn’t line up with your current beliefs. Your habits are automatic. They’re part of your automatic self. Whether they serve you or don’t whether they’re empowering or not. So if you’re not achieving your goal or goals … it’s not because you can’t. It’s because your habits won’t allow you to … And so the key is … how do I interrupt my habitual thought and emotional and behavioral patterns?” – John Assaraf 

It takes a great deal of energy and persistence to rewire ourselves to fully overcome “Frankenstein.” It can seem like a daunting task, but you are more than capable of doing it. You can overcome that cycle and accomplish your goals and achieve what you want. 

One great tool to help you along the way is John Assaraf’s most recent book Innercise: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain’s Hidden Power. It’s full of helpful, applicable advice and calming innercises to shift your mindset into becoming proactive in your life rather than letting yourself succumb to unhelpful patterns of inaction and self-doubt. 

If you need additional assistance in taking action in your life, I encourage you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! This program is all about you and getting you to overcome what’s holding you back. The program consists of a more personal and structured approach to beat day-to-day obstacles and realize your full potential! If you think this may be right for you, don’t hesitate to check out the 12 Weeks of Transformation.

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During these trying times, I also recommend that you sign up for our daily mindset upgrades. I send out daily texts of encouragement to help calm your “Frankenstein” and motivate your “Einstein.” 

Friends, I hope this episode inspires you to get out of your way of success. Don’t let negative thinking stop you. You are enough, and you can achieve your dreams!

 

Elizabeth Benton

778: It’s Not Your Circumstances, It’s Your Story

Hi, friends! It’s Elizabeth here, and I am so excited to share Episode 778 of Primal Potential with you today! Primal Potential is a podcast all about you — your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now, no matter what stage you find yourself in life!

Okay, guys, I am very excited about this episode. Today, I want to talk to you about an idea I’ve actually talked about on this podcast before because it’s one of my favorite things to talk about and I think it’s such a useful tool for those of us on a journey toward a goal (I think we can all raise our hands here!)

Those of you who have been listening to Primal Potential for a long time may remember that Episode 475 was called, “Mind the Truth That Moves You Forward.” That actually comes from an episode of Billions on Showtime where the character Wendy Rhoades says, “There will always be multiple versions of the truth, but when you’re here, mind the truth that makes you money.”

When I heard that quote, I started thinking about how relevant that is to so many of us on our individual journeys. Whenever you have a goal — and this has been so true in my own life — there are always multiple versions of the truth that we can tell ourselves. There will always be things about our circumstances that are true and that we can’t change.

But if we’re going to make progress, transform, and eventually arrive at the life we want to live, we need to mind the truth that moves us forward.

So today, I want to help you close the gap between focusing on your circumstances and focusing on your story so that you can mind the right truth and reach the transformation you want to see in your life. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

 

You’re Not Stuck In Your Reality, You’re Stuck In Your Story

 

I want to take a few minutes here to break down the difference between your reality and your story. I think there’s a critical distinction between them, and closing the gap between those two things is absolutely essential for you to understand to mind the truth that moves you forward.

Your reality is pretty self-explanatory: that’s your current set of circumstances. Your reality is where you are right now, and it’s true! Maybe you have a dream of launching your own podcast, but you’ve never recorded an episode. That’s okay! That’s your reality right now, and it’s a true fact.

Your reality is only the present moment and everything that has happened to bring you to it. That’s key here—your reality is defined by your past.

But your story is something different. Your story is bigger; it contains your past, your present, and your future. And it is every bit as true as your reality. Yes, the fact of your present reality is part of your story, but it’s not the whole story. And while your reality is true, your story is also true, and thinking of your journey as a story is the truth that will help you move forward.

This is one of the biggest problems I see in my clients. They explain that they’ll never land their dream job, or they’re not able to lose the weight, or they can’t launch their podcast because the reality is that they haven’t done those things yet. But they’re thinking of their reality as the only truth, but it’s not a helpful truth.

Your mindset dramatically changes when you begin to think of your past as a part of your story. When you think of your past as a story, you allow for the potential for growth; you are not defined only by what has happened, but also by your potential.

Here’s the thing: when we focus on the past, we tend to recreate it. When we focus only on the truth of our past and how it created our present reality, we tend to keep following in the same patterns. We’re not focusing on the truth that moves us forward, so we’re not empowered to change our reality.

You guys have heard this a thousand times, but to use myself as an example, I was so guilty of thinking of my reality as the only truth when it came to food for a long time. I was telling myself this story that if I was stressed or overwhelmed, all bets were off because I had always just turned to junk food to help me feel better. I was focusing on the truth of my reality — that eating poorly was just who I was because it always had been — and for a long time that kept me from making progress toward my weight loss goal.

But then I started to see myself as simply at one point in a greater story. My story wasn’t that I was a failure, or that I would always be unhealthy, even though that was true in the moment. Of course not! My story was that I still had the potential to change my habits and become the healthy person I wanted to be!

When I started to think in terms of a bigger story and began minding the truth that moved me forward, I made progress. I took control. I started eating healthy food and exercising. I lost the weight, and I became the healthy woman I had dreamed of being! 

 

Build Belief In Where You’re Going

 

Here’s another example I love to use when I talk about this topic: Think about the Wright brothers. Do you remember learning about them back in grade school? How they were the first people to build a plane and actually fly it? What a cool story! But the Wright brothers would never have taken off if they had been defined by their reality.

They could have said, “Well, we’ve never figured out how to fly before, and in fact nobody has! We definitely can’t do it now!” and that would have been partially true! The truth of their reality was that no one had ever learned to fly. No one had the knowledge or experience necessary to get a plane in the air—that was true. But the Wright brothers, instead, recognized that the truth of the past did not have to determine their future. They wanted to learn to fly, they chose to accept the truth of their potential, and they figured it out!

I really want you to get this idea into your head: Your ability to step into and permanently live in a new pattern of behavior depends on, hinges on, requires your willingness to believe that it is possible before you have evidence of it. The Wright brothers had no evidence that human flight was possible, but they believed in their potential to make it happen anyway. 

You can do that too.

Let me give you an example from my own life. For me, writing my first book was huge! So much so that I have made it a goal to write more books in the future.

But when I was writing that first book, I definitely had days when I wasn’t sure if I could do it! I mean, I’d never done it before, so I had no evidence I could do it now. The truth was that I had not written a book; that was the reality of my situation. And I could have chosen to stay stuck in that reality.

But I didn’t. Instead, I chose to believe in the truth of my story. I hadn’t written a book yet, but that didn’t mean I never would! I even had a significant advantage over the Wright brothers—when they learned to fly, literally no one had done that before. Plenty of people had written books before me! I had a wealth of resources I could use for writing advice and strategies and plenty of reason to believe I could do it! And I did. I wrote my book Chasing Cupcakes, and that was a big accomplishment!

Now, I am working toward writing more books in the future, and it’s great to have substantial evidence that I am capable of writing a book! But I didn’t need to have that evidence to write the first one. I just had to build belief in myself and my story.

You can do this too, guys! Build belief not in where you are, but in where you’re going. Tell yourself a helpful story. Say to yourself, “This is the truth of my reality right now, but the truth of my story is that I can do this!” If you can lean in and believe in that idea, you’ll be unstoppable! Positive change can and will happen in your life!

Here’s the good news: This advice works no matter what your goal is. I encourage you to dream big, of course! But you don’t need to win a Nobel prize or become a New York Times bestseller to make meaningful progress in your life. Nope, the truth of where you’re going can be specific to today. It doesn’t have to be reflective of where you want to end up in five years or ten years or even five months.

Remain mindful of the fact that the truth you’ve been telling yourself isn’t the only truth and that you are not stuck in your circumstances. Think of your life as a story, and build belief in where you’re going instead of where you’ve been. When you believe in the power of your potential and refuse to be defined solely by your past, you open up enormous opportunities for growth and transformation. 

Now, if you’d like some extra support, a little more coaching, and accountability, I want you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! In this program, I work with people in a much more personal and structured way to create change. We tackle our excuses head-on and find the core values that will motivate you to take action. If you’re not sure what to do next, I encourage you to check out 12 Weeks to Transformation and get on that waitlist! 

Join Now

I’d also love to connect with you via text! I send out text messages with my daily mindset upgrades and daily encouragement that we could all use during these uncertain times of COVID-19. 

Thanks, everyone. I’ll talk to you next time!

 

Elizabeth Benton

774: Why Diets Don’t Work

Hi, friends! It’s Elizabeth here, and I am so excited to share Episode 774 of Primal Potential with you today! Primal Potential is a podcast all about you — your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now, no matter what stage you find yourself in life!

Today, I want to talk about diets. I know I haven’t talked about weight loss and healthy eating so specifically in a while (if you want to listen to some of the older episodes where I dig in on that stuff, you can find them here!), but on this episode, I’m taking a little bit of a different approach. I know that during the summer season especially a lot of people are thinking about losing weight. Some just want to lose five vanity pounds; others are undergoing major weight loss transformations as I did. Regardless, a lot of us are thinking about dieting.

But here’s the thing, guys: diets don’t work.

You heard me right; diets just don’t work. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be careful about what you eat and that eating healthy food isn’t necessary — that’s not true at all. I’m saying that strict diet plans are not going to give you the results you want.

I know, because I have tried. I’ve tried low-calorie stuff. I’ve tried low-fat stuff. I’ve tried vegan and keto diets, counting calories, counting macros, fasting, crash diets, more moderate plans, you name it, but none of it worked. For a long time, I was stuck, but then I figured out the secret: diets don’t work because they don’t take you into account. Diets don’t work because they don’t give you the tools you need to stick to your healthy plans on the days when you’re stressed, tempted to indulge, or just plain bored and ready to eat. That’s why you get stuck and fall off the wagon — to borrow a phrase I hear a lot from my clients — and you don’t see the results you desire.

But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to stay stuck. Elizabeth is here to help! So let’s jump in, unpack exactly why diets don’t work, and talk about some strategies that will actually help you achieve your health and weight loss goals!

 

Diets Tell You What To Do, But They Don’t Give You The Right Tools

 

Here’s the thing: most of us are not in need of a meal plan. We’re in need of the tools for those moments when we want to let ourselves off the hook.

And that’s why diets don’t work. Diets are quick to tell you what to do, but they don’t give you the tools for what’s in the way, right? Diets can tell you what to eat and when to eat it, and they’re easy to find! I mean, you can do a quick Google search and find a million diet plans in about a second. But none of those plans will help you respond the next time you find yourself dialing the number for your favorite pizza place.

So how do you find a plan for healthy eating that will work and get results? Get to know yourself.

Someone recently DM-ed me on Instagram (which I love, and you should absolutely do if you have questions, by the way —  you can find me here!) and asked, “How many carbs is too many carbs in the morning?” But here’s the thing, and here’s what I told her: it really comes down to whatever’s an improvement for you.

If you’re accustomed to having a stack of pancakes for breakfast, and you decide to start having a couple of servings of fruit instead, that would be an improvement! And improvement is all it takes to start seeing results.

And remember: your improvement doesn’t have to be drastic. If you’re used to having Taco Bell every night for dinner, don’t try to switch to having salmon and broccoli every day. That’s a perfect example of trying to follow a diet that will make you feel deprived and unhappy. Too many people try to make dramatic changes like that all at once, and they end up falling off the wagon. Instead, focus on small, incremental changes you can make, and then continue to make them.

Get to know yourself. Evaluate your habits and find small ways to improve. Any improvement is excellent; you just want to make progress toward your goals in a sustainable way. That’s how you get results!

 

Diets Treat Every Day The Same

 

Here’s another problem with diets: they pretty much treat every day the same.

Now for men, this can be okay. Men are on a 24-hour cycle. Testosterone and cortisol are highest in the morning, so it’s often good for men to get up early, work out, and hit the ground running at the beginning of the workday. Then in the evening, testosterone and cortisol are lower, and men are in more of a cocktail and relaxation mode. So for most men, treating every day pretty much the same can be sustainable.

But for women, it’s completely different. Women are not on a 24-hour cycle; we’re on a 28 to 32-day cycle, right? Our hormonal cycles take place over a month, not over a day! Our bodies produce more or less estrogen and progesterone at different times throughout the month; that’s why our appetites and cravings change from week to week and from day to day.

And hormones aren’t the only thing that can affect our appetites and cravings. Stress is a huge factor in our eating patterns, and that’s true for both men and women! It’s true for me, for sure. I know that I tend to eat a higher volume of food on higher stress days. That’s just a fact for me. But no diet can account for those higher stress days. 

Diets just don’t take our natural fluctuations into account, but you can do that for yourself. It goes back to getting to know yourself and creating an eating plan that is an improvement for you, and that works for your body. Maybe you learn that your stress level is higher during the week, so you need to eat a higher volume of food on weekdays and less on the weekends. That’s what I do! And that’s fine! But you have to figure that out for yourself by getting to know yourself and discovering what works for your body.

 

Diets Don’t Take Into Account the Relationship You Want To Have With Food

 

Here’s the final reason diets don’t work that I want to talk to you about today: diets don’t take into account the way you want to live and the relationship you want to have with food for the rest of your life.

Have you ever looked at a diet and asked, “Is this really the way I want to eat for the rest of my life? Will I enjoy eating this way in the long run?” If not, you should! But spoiler: no generic diet plan is going to reflect you and what’s best for your body perfectly.

The critical thing here is consistency; it is so important to find a way to eat that is sustainable and still helps you make progress toward your goals. It is possible, guys, I promise!

“How is it possible?” you may be asking. You have to build the skill of moderation. It’s not about trying to force yourself to follow a plan and act like you never have cravings and you’re never going to indulge again—that’s not realistic, and it’s not sustainable. It’s about having that yummy slice of pizza and then resisting the temptation to eat a pizza and a box of crackers and down a large soda right after.

Instead of choosing a diet plan and trying to force yourself to stick to it only to fall off the wagon on the days when you’re stressed or just tempted to eat more, find ways to indulge with moderation. And remember, even small improvements are significant and will help you reach your goals. I like to plan on having an indulgent treat like a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone two or three times a month. You might want to plan to indulge two or three times a week. That’s perfectly fine! Eating Taco Bell two or three times a week is better than eating it every night, and having an ice cream cone every once in a while is better than having one every day.

 

You Are Not Defeated, You Are Distracted

 

To all of you who — like me — have tried a million diets and found the all unhelpful, I want to tell you that you’re not defeated, you’re distracted. I know it’s so easy to get discouraged on a weight loss journey. But if you remember that no diet plan is going to perfectly account for your body or give you the tools you need to stick to your health goals when it gets hard, you really can start to see results.

So spend some time getting to know yourself. What works for you? What doesn’t? What hormonal or other physiological cycles might be influencing your appetite or cravings? How do you want to eat for the rest of your life? What relationship do you want to have with food? Ask yourself these questions, and craft your healthy eating strategy from your answers.

Go ahead and ask me these questions, too! Please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram, @elizabethbenton. I’ll always do my best to answer your questions!

And if you’re interested in some longer-term support, a little more coaching, and accountability, I want you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! In this program, I work with people in a much more personal and structured way to create change. We tackle our excuses head-on and find the core values that will motivate you to take action. If you’re not sure what to do next, I encourage you to check out 12 Weeks to Transformation and get on that waitlist! 

Join Now

I’d also love to connect with you via text! I send out text messages with my daily mindset upgrades and daily encouragement that we could all use during these uncertain times of COVID-19. 

Thanks, everyone. See you next time!

 

Elizabeth Benton

772: Does Your Goal Have Your Yes

Hi, friends! It’s Elizabeth here, and I am so excited to share Episode 772 of Primal Potential with you today! Primal Potential is a podcast all about you — your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now, no matter what stage you find yourself in life!

I’ve got a powerful tool to share with you in today’s episode. I’m really excited about this one because I’ve used this tool in my own life, and it can be amazingly helpful as you’re setting your priorities and working toward your goals.

That’s why I really want you to sit down with a pen and paper and get ready to workshop through this one. And have a specific goal in mind. Think through all the goals you have in your life—and this could be anything! It could be a weight loss goal. Maybe you want to be kinder to your partner or start a business or run a marathon or stop snapping at your children. Just pick one goal to focus on right now and stick with it for the next few minutes while you read this post!

And don’t be afraid to stop, think, write, and reflect for yourself while you go through today’s episode! Use that pause button while you listen to the podcast and lean into this process of writing down your thoughts and feelings as we talk through this incredibly useful tool together.

I’m so glad you’ve chosen to tune in today! This is a powerful episode, and I genuinely believe it will help you reframe your thinking around your goals and help you achieve genuine transformation! So with that, let’s dive in!

 

It’s the Second “Yes” That Matters

 

Think about your goal. Are you thinking about it? Okay, good! Now here’s the first question I want to invite you to consider: Does your goal have your yes? Or does your goal have your “if I feel like it”? 

Let me explain a little. Sometimes — and I’m talking to myself here too! — we can establish goals with the absolute best of intentions. But when obstacles pop up and make it hard to continue maintaining our healthy habits and challenges disrupt us in the pursuit of our goals, often, all our good intentions fly right out the window! So ask yourself: Does my goal have my full commitment? Or is this particular goal the first thing I throw aside when I’m not feeling motivated?

I was listening to a sermon a couple of weeks ago that explained it in terms of a marriage. Whether you’re married or not, think about this in terms of standing at the altar. What’s the classic line? “I do.” And that’s great! You’ve just committed to another person, and that’s important.

But it’s not the most critical time you’ll say yes to that person. Let me say that again: That first yes is not what matters. It’s the second yes that really matters. It’s the 22nd yes, and the 222nd yes and so on that define your commitment to this person and your marriage. What matters is that you continue to say yes to this person day after day, year after year, in the moments when you’re tired and unmotivated, when life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would, and when you’re going through a rough patch in the relationship.

Think back to your goal. Does it have your yes? Well, you’ve said yes to it the first time; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a goal! But what about on the days when you feel discouraged? Maybe you have a weight loss goal. Does that goal have your yes when you’re up and awake and energized and ready to work out? Probably! Does that goal still have your yes when you’re tired and tempted to pick up a pint of ice cream on your way home from work? Maybe not. That second yes is the one that counts.

That’s why it’s crucial to be mindful of your emotional state when you say yes to your goals. Let me just give you an example from my own life. I’ll just tell you, I never say yes to the goal of speaking more kindly to my husband, Chris, when I’m feeling angry or frustrated or annoyed! No, I say yes to that goal when I’m out for a walk, enjoying the fresh air, listening to a podcast, and feeling encouraged and happy!

It’s easy to say yes to speaking kindly to my husband in those moments when I’m feeling happy and content. But what about when I get home from my walk? What about when I walk back in even though we said he was going to take the trash out, do the dishes, and start dinner, he’s sitting on the couch watching a movie? In moments of frustration like that, it is so much harder to say yes to my goal of speaking more kindly to him, right?

 

The Conditional Yes vs. The Unconditional Yes

 

That’s why it’s so critical to reckon with the fact that we’re all going to have times when we just don’t feel positive and fired up, and we don’t want to give our goals an unconditional yes. I’m not trying to tell you it’s easy! Commitment to your goals, even on the days when it’s difficult, is not an easy thing at all!

But there’s good news: You already have plenty of experience with the unconditional yes.

Think about your job. When you say yes to your employer about your job, that yes is not conditional, right? You’re not going to tell your supervisor, “I mean, I know I said yes, but I wasn’t really feeling it, so I decided not to come in today,” right? Of course not! If the yes you gave to your job and your career was conditional, you would not have a job! You would not have a paycheck, and when money is on the line, it’s much easier to see the problem the conditional yes.

Here’s another example: think about feeding your kids. Would you give a conditional yes to feeding your kids? Of course not! You’re going to feed your kids every day, no matter what. You feed your kids on the days when everybody is getting along and having fun, and you feed your kids on the days when they’re frustrating, and everybody’s complaining, and family meal-time is no fun at all, right? That’s because feeding your kids gets an unconditional yes, automatically, no questions asked.

You have plenty of experience with saying yes to things unconditionally every day! So think back to the goal you’ve been writing about. Does it have your unconditional yes? You don’t want to tell yourself that you can’t or that it’s too hard to give this goal an unconditional yes because there is a precedent for giving an unconditional yes in other areas of your life. Can you commit to this goal even in the moments when it’s challenging?

 

Building Awareness

 

Okay, here’s what I want you to do now. Now that you’ve got a specific goal in mind, and you’re considering whether that goal has your yes, ask yourself, “What does it mean for this particular goal to have my yes? What does that look like? What are the second and the third and the fourth waves where my yes matters more than the first?”

For me, my primary goal right now is to take impeccable care of my body. This season of life since the loss of my daughter has been painful beyond anything I could have predicted. I’ve had many days where survival was my primary goal. But I know that Chris and I want to bring more children into the world, and so right now, my goal needs to be to take care of my body. 

That call has my yes. So I ask myself, “What does it need to look like for this goal to have my yes?” I know that when I get tired at the end of the day, I am tempted to give myself a sweet junk food treat and start another episode of a tv show when I really should be going to bed. So giving the goal of taking care of my body my unconditional yes looks like fueling my body only with healthy food and getting plenty of sleep. It looks like choosing not to give in to those temptations and to fuel my body brilliantly.

So ask yourself these questions for your specific goal. And when you’re done, go through them again for the next goal and for every goal you have. There’s no need for perfection here; the important thing is that you’re building awareness of your goals and whether you truly want to prioritize them and give them unconditional yes.

And here’s the thing: when you go through this process, you may discover that, no, you don’t want to give a particular goal your yes. That’s okay! You can still make tremendous progress even when you’re not ready to commit to a goal fully, and saying no to certain things can help you learn what’s most important to you. Remember, this process is about building awareness, because when you have proper awareness, you can choose your goals with wise intention and pursue them with energy and purpose!

 

How Can You Say Yes Today?

 

Okay, guys, I have one more question for you to ask yourselves:

How can I say yes to my goal today? 

Don’t think too far ahead, just ask yourself what you can do today, in the next hour, in the next fifteen minutes to say yes to your goal. Remember, if nothing changes, nothing changes. But even small changes can make a big difference!

You really do have the power to change your life, and you really can do it right now. It just takes considering your goals with intention, re-prioritizing them, and giving an unconditional yes to those that matter most to you!

Now, if you’d like some extra support, a little more coaching, and accountability, I want you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! In this program, I work with people in a much more personal and structured way to create change. We tackle our excuses head-on and find the core values that will motivate you to take action. If you’re not sure what to do next, I encourage you to check out 12 Weeks to Transformation and get on that waitlist! 

Join Now

I’d also love to connect with you via text! I send out text messages with my daily mindset upgrades and daily encouragement that we could all use during these uncertain times of COVID-19. 

Thanks, everyone. I’ll talk to you next time!

 

Elizabeth Benton

769: Are You Doing What It Takes?

Hi, friends! It’s Elizabeth here, and I am so excited to share Episode 769 of Primal Potential with you today! Primal Potential is a podcast all about you — your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now, no matter what stage you find yourself in life!

Today, I want to start by asking you a question, and I bet you can guess what it is: Are you doing what it takes?

Let me expand on that a little further: Are you really doing what it takes to reach your goals, or do you just look like it? Because let me tell you guys, there’s a big difference.

Sometimes, when we have big goals and aspirations for ourselves, we think about the goal, we plan to achieve it, we may even become financially invested, but we never take the necessary steps to get there. We make ourselves look like we’re working super hard to achieve something, but we’re not genuinely putting in the effort required to get the job done. 

Let’s take weight loss as an example. Those of you on a weight loss journey right now, ask yourselves, “Am I really doing what it takes to lose weight and get healthy, or does it just look like I am?” Are you spending money every month on a gym membership to look like you’re getting fit, but not putting in any hours actually working out? Are you doing all your grocery shopping at Whole Foods and buying lots of fresh fruits and veggies only to let them spoil in your fridge the next time you’d rather run through a drive-through for dinner?

“Yup. That’s me. Thanks, Elizabeth, I feel like crap now,” you may be thinking. But here’s the thing: so many of us relate to this problem! I have experienced this over and over in various areas of my life, including my own weight loss journey as well as my relationships. That’s why I wanted to discuss this with you today. I truly believe that if we’re honest about whether we’re really doing what takes, we can start taking action to achieve our goals and get real results!

 

“Prepared” Doesn’t Catch Fish

 

Let me give you guys another illustration to explain my point. I live on Cape Cod, right near a canal. Every morning I like to go for a walk, and one morning when I was out particularly early, maybe 6 AM, I watched as a couple of fishermen walked down to the canal. And these guys had all the gear. They were out there that early in the morning wearing their waders and carrying buckets of bait and poles. They were even tricked out with these little holders for their bait; they were all ready to go!

But here’s the essential thing: None of that stuff guaranteed those fishermen were going to catch anything. They definitely looked like the ideal fishermen, all geared up and ready to go! But even though they got up early and hauled all that stuff (which honestly was probably pretty expensive) down to the water, none of it was enough to ensure they were going to catch lots of fish that day.

They were going to catch fish by getting in the water, casting the line, and reeling it in when they got a bite.

If you’re going to go fishing, having a fishing pole — even a nice one — isn’t enough to catch fish. Having tons of gear isn’t enough. Getting up early isn’t enough. Reading all the fishing magazines and buying a million kinds of bait and researching where the fish are going to be and planning the fishing trip aren’t enough.

Now, those things are all great, and they can make you feel prepared! But being prepared doesn’t catch fish. Only actually getting in the water and casting the line and doing the actual work of fishing catches fish. After all, anybody who stumbles down to a pond with a little net without doing any preparation at all can catch a fish! The only thing that ensures results is doing the work.

This idea applies to you too! Let’s go back to the weight loss example since that’s a little more relatable to most of us! You can buy a fourth pair of running shoes even though you have three perfectly good pairs. You can go to your favorite store and buy a new sports bra and new leggings and tell yourself those things will make you feel more like working out. You can listen to fitness podcasts and talk to a nutritionist and even buy healthy food, but none of it will help you lose weight if you don’t start exercising and eating healthy.

That fourth pair of running shoes isn’t going to help you lose weight, but running will. That new sports bra and leggings won’t help you lose weight, but working out will. Fitness podcasts and nutritionists are great for helping you learn ways to exercise and eat healthy food, but they won’t help you lose weight unless you take their advice and start eating healthy foods.

But how can you know if you’re truly doing what it takes or if you just look like it? The answer is simple: Ask yourself, “Am I getting results?” If you are, great! Keep doing what you’re doing, clearly it’s working!

But if not, it’s time to take action. It’s time to wade out into the water, cast the line, and reel in a fish. It’s time to put on the running shoes, go for a run, and finally start losing weight.

And guys, don’t be discouraged! Just by asking yourself these questions, you’re developing new self-awareness, and that is so important. When you’re honest with yourself about whether you’re really doing what it takes or whether you just look like it, you’re in a great position to reevaluate the steps you’re taking to achieve your goals, start taking action, and get results!

 

Be Specific With Your Goals!

 

So how do you take that first step? How do you bridge the gap between looking like you’re working toward your goal and actually doing the work?

This is where you take out the paper and pen, friends. It’s time to get writing!

First, figure out your goal — and be very specific! I tell my 12 Weeks to Transformation all the time that specificity is a superpower. Let’s stick with our weight loss example here. “I want to be healthier” is not specific enough. “I want to lose 25 pounds before labor day;” now we’re talking! “I want to learn to do push-ups” isn’t quite specific enough. “I want to be able to do 50 push-ups unbroken on my toes” is a specific goal! By identifying your goal with that much specificity, you start to unlock your massive potential and gain confidence that will help you take action. 

Once you’ve identified your goal, think about what “just looking like it” actually looks like. And don’t stop writing — make another list, and make it as long as you can! This goes back to what I talked about earlier — do you have several pairs of running shoes and lots of cute workout clothes that you never wear? Do you have long receipts from Whole Foods that are mostly full of cookie dough and sugar?

I know this stuff isn’t fun to think about, but keep going. Keep digging and being honest with yourself. When you’ve thought of one or two things, force yourself to think of five more. Because here’s the thing: By forcing yourself to expand the boundaries of your mental capacity, you become a better thinker, and that will have a huge impact on every area of your life! You become more self-aware, and you’re better able to identify your particular strengths and weaknesses, and that makes it so much easier to feel clear and confident as you pursue any goal!

Finally, when you’ve got a specific goal and made a list of things that just make it look like you’re pursuing that goal, ask yourself what it’s going to take to reach that goal. And again, be very specific! Make a list, and keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything on your list right now.

So what will it take to accomplish your goal? How are you going to lose those 25 pounds by labor day? Maybe you decide to follow the Golden Rules of Carbs and Fat Loss consistently (which I explain in detail on Episode 195!). Great! How consistently? Five or six days a week? 27 days out of 30 each month? You decide! But if you lay down those specific ground rules for yourself, you set yourself up for success and real results!

 

“I Don’t Know” Is The Beginning of Your Work, Not the End of It

 

So as you’re working through these questions and trying to write down your responses with as much specificity as possible, I want you to know that you are eventually going to a point where you just have to say, “I don’t know.” 

And you know what? That’s okay!

Seriously you guys, it is okay not to have all the answers immediately. When you realize that you simply do not have the answer to something, you have a place to start. Now you can take action with a direction and seek the answers to your questions.

Let’s return to this hypothetical weight loss journey one more time! Maybe you take a hard look at yourself and realize that you’ve just been looking like you’re trying to lose weight without actually doing what it takes. So you set your specific goals, start using those running shoes, and take steps toward losing weight. And that’s great! But maybe when you ask yourself, “How can I eat healthier foods? How do I know what kind of nutrition plan is best for me?” you have to admit you just don’t know.

That’s also great! Now you get to start actively seeking answers. Seek out a nutritionist, doctor, or fitness advisor who can help you create plans and strategies for your diet to support you in your weight loss goal. Just remember, when you seek answers and find them, continue to take action! Take the advice you get from trusted sources, and celebrate as you finally start seeing results!

Here’s the thing, guys, if I could just encourage you for a minute: oftentimes we go a mile deep on the problem and only an inch deep on the solution. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You truly can see results if you choose to go as deep with the solution as you go with the problem!

That’s what all this specificity and self-reflection is all about. If you take the time to be honest with yourself, admit it when you don’t have the answer to a question, seek out the answers you need, and implement them in your strategy, watch out! Nothing can stop you!

And as difficult and frustrating as it can be not to have all the answers, remember: This is the beginning of your work, not the end of it. Finding out where you don’t know how to move forward is the perfect opportunity to seek help and start making real progress! It takes honesty and effort, but it’s so worth it when you begin to see those awesome results!

 

We Have To Be Creative, Energetic Problem Solvers

 

We’ve talked a lot today about one of the biggest problems we face as we strive toward our goals. It can be challenging to be honest with yourself and to realize that you just look like you’re doing what it takes instead of doing it for real.

But we are problem solvers, guys. When we arrive at a place of self-awareness and specificity, we can be creative and attack our goals with so much energy! We can wade right into the canal (with as much gear as we want!), cast our lines, and start reeling in the fish!

Would you like some extra support, a little more coaching, and accountability? Maybe you want someone to come alongside you and help you set some goals with as much specificity as possible? I want you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! In this program, I work with people in a much more personal and structured way to create change in their lives. We tackle our excuses head-on and find the core values that will motivate you to take action. If you’re not sure what to do next, I encourage you to check out 12 Weeks to Transformation and get on that waitlist! 

Join Now

I’d also love to connect with you via text! I send out text messages with my daily mindset upgrades and daily encouragement that we could all use during these uncertain times of COVID-19. 

You can reach your goals, friends! And I’m happy to help you get there!

 

Elizabeth Benton

766: Experience is the Best Education

Hi, friends, this is Elizabeth, and I’m so eager to share Episode 766 of Primal Potential with you today! Primal Potential is about you your ability to change is not defined by yesterday and doesn’t need to wait until tomorrow. Your transformation is now!

Today, I’m pumped to share with you an important subject that applies to everyone: experience is the best education. Too often, we let overlearning actually keep us from taking action in our lives. We study something to the point of exhaustion so that it actually ends up weighing heavily on us, keeping us from making consistent changes in our lives. 

Today’s episode is all about how to get out of your own way of success and practice action rather than overloading our brains with just learning and planning. It’s vital that we get into the mindset of putting what we learn into consistent action — only then can we start making permanent changes in our lives. 

In what areas of your life is your knowledge actually keeping you from acting? Where does knowledge outweigh what you do consistently? Are you using learning to stay in your comfort zone rather than branching out and getting things done? Only you can change your life for the better by beginning to act. Friends, you can do this. 

 

Don’t Let Knowledge Buffer Experience 

 

People have different areas in which they struggle to take action and implement what they learn. Everyone is different, so it’s important to ask yourself, “What areas need action rather than thinking?” Where in your life is knowledge actually hindering your experience? 

The poet Mark Nepo excellently describes the problem in The Book of Awakening

“To always analyze and problem solve and observe and criticize what we encounter turns our brains into heavy calluses. Rather than opening us deeper into the mystery of living, the overstrained intellect becomes a buffer from experience.” – Mark Nepo

This passage presents the problem that we all suffer from, myself included. From all the thinking, planning, criticizing, observing, watching, and notetaking we create, these calluses and exhaust ourselves. It bogs us down from what we want to achieve. We need to be experiencing life and accomplishing what we want rather than be passive learners who merely gather information and not use it. 

I used to be in this pattern of overlearning and inaction. I would take in tons of information from business podcasts and business events, and I would tell myself that I’m going to implement all these things, but instead, they ended up weighing heavy on me and became a hindrance. I stayed in this pattern of remaining in information-gathering mode without putting what I was learning into action. I buffered myself from growing my business because I was so focused on learning how to grow my business.

We overload ourselves with so much information that we actually fail to act with consistency. Where in your life has learning actually buffered you from experience? Has your analyzing, criticizing, observing, and problem-solving actually kept you from action? Have you been so focused on learning about growing your business that you fail to actually take action and grow your business? Have you been so focused on learning or thinking about your health that you didn’t actually make consistent changes to your diet or routine? 

A wide disconnect can occur between what we know and what we actually put into practice. Friends, stop overworking your thinking brain and get out there and do it!  

 

Practice Implementing What You Learn

 

A helpful way to start doing rather than learning is focusing on implementing a few things step by step. Don’t get overwhelmed in trying to change several things at once. 

When I listen to a business podcast or if I attend a business event, I identify three things that I can start doing to improve my business that I can immediately start implementing instead of trying to learn too much. I told myself that I would start doing all the things that I was learning, but because I didn’t focus on just a few specific tasks in a realistic way, I failed to do any of it. I would forget everything that I learned because I didn’t experience the lessons for myself. I overtrained my thinking brain by just analyzing and criticizing the information while not putting it into action, so I didn’t retain it or use it. 

Once I started focusing on three specific changes that I could implement, I was able to put what I learned into practice and actually start improving my business. Don’t remain in the habit of staying in information-gathering mode. Shift gears into action mode. 

Forget a Perfect Starting Point Just Start

 

It’s so easy to bog ourselves down by thinking about the many things in our lives that we need to change, whether it be related to our careers or our health or our relationships. It can be overwhelming. That’s why we need to practice shifting into the mindset of taking action by doing simple things that we can immediately implement. 

Too often, we stress ourselves by trying to figure out what the most important thing is that we need to change in our lives. We fall into the trap of overthinking and analyzing what we need to do, and then we fail to act. Don’t get bogged down in evaluating what the most important thing is. The most important thing will always be changing depending on our goals, our circumstances, the amount of time we have, and what we’ve learned along the way. The most important thing will always be a moving target, so don’t stress about where to start and just start. 

Just recently, someone was expressing to me that anxiety of not knowing where to begin. They texted me saying, “Can you help? I don’t even know where to start. Nothing in my life is going my way.” Friends, you don’t need to find the perfect place to start. You just need to start taking action, and changes in your life will follow.  Maybe you want to lose weight, and you don’t know where to start. Instead of overconsuming information and stressing about a starting point — just start the process! Maybe plan your meals for the week or start walking daily. Start simple.

Start making changes in your life, and once you change something, move on to the next thing. That most important thing will get done if you get into the habit of doing rather than just thinking about what changes need to be made. 

 

Be a Creator, Not a Critic

 

Don’t stay in your comfort zone of information-gathering mode. Don’t just read this or listen to my podcast and say, “Oh, that’s so me. I keep learning new things, but I just don’t do it.” That’s just being a critic. You’re not putting it into practice. You’re not creating anything new in your life or developing consistency. Approach what you learn by saying, “Yes, I can think of something that I can start doing consistently today. I can apply the information to my life, and begin to make changes.” Learning without action is being a critic. Don’t just analyze the information, apply it. Don’t let information overload weigh heavy on you by learning more and more things without putting them into practice. Once you start taking control of your life and implement what you learn then you become a creator. 

Whether it involves a daily habit like resisting the urge to hit the snooze button or something larger like growing your network, you can choose to take action in your life rather than be a critic of what you learn. Get into the mindset of being a creator, and develop consistency in taking action. Just begin by taking the simple step of starting. You can do this. 

Create what you want. Create the life you want to live. You get to choose whether you’re a critic or a creator. If you become a creator and start acting with consistency, not only will you change your life, but you’ll even learn more than you did when you were overworking your brain and creating those heavy calluses. There is nothing more educational than experience, so when you do rather than overlearn, you are growing as a person. Experience teaches you so much more than just analyzing, thinking, observing, or criticizing. You could study engineering your whole life, but you still won’t learn as much as you would when building your first house. 

 

Don’t Let Fear and Uncertainty Keep You From Action

 

Fear and uncertainty often hinder us from pursuing what we want. We use overthinking, overlearning, and criticizing as a means for staying in our comfort zones. You’ve got to push yourself out of this negative funk and start doing. Action is the antidote to fear. 

People tell themselves, “Well, I don’t know where to start” or “I don’t know if I can do it,” and that keeps them from taking action. The best way to fail is to overthink it and not do it. 

You may feel fear and uncertainty when you start taking action, but they do not have to control you. They are not the driver of your life, you are. They might ride with you but they cannot drive. Even if you’ve let fear and uncertainty keep you from what you want at this stage of your life, it does not mean that it has to continue. 

Don’t be a barrier for yourself. There will always be a degree of uncertainty and fear when taking action, but don’t let that keep you from pursuing what you want. Every person has fear and uncertainty when starting, but you have to do it scared. Otherwise, it won’t get done. The certainty will come later when you gain experience. 

What You Can Do Today to Start Changing Your Life

 

Don’t overcomplicate it. Just start doing simple things. Again, don’t get bogged down in trying to figure where best to start. Just start. It can be something as simple as flossing or washing your face daily. You can start doing a simple lifestyle choice that you’ve been putting off. The most important thing is just getting into the practice of doing rather than learning and overthinking, and you will see results. Only you have the power to change your life. Start with one thing, and move on to the next thing. 

So what can you do today? In what area do you need to stop learning and start doing? Does it involve your career? Or your health? Or your family? I urge you to not just learn from this podcast but to put it into action and start changing your life one thing at a time. 

Right now, I want you to write down where in your life your knowledge has exceeded your practice. I want you to write down what it is that you need to change today. Tackle that unconscious pattern of inaction by changing your mindset. Develop consistency, so that you can create a pattern of action. Do not put it off. This is your year for action. 

If you’re in need of additional assistance in taking action in your life, I encourage you to get on the waitlist for our next 12 Weeks of Transformation! This program is all about you and getting you to overcome what’s holding you back. The program consists of a more personal and structured approach to beat day-to-day obstacles and realize your full potential! If you think this may be right for you, then don’t hesitate to check out the 12 Weeks of Transformation.

Join Now

During these trying times, I also recommend that you sign up for our daily mindset upgrades. I send out daily texts of encouragement to uplift you and embolden you to start doing rather than thinking!

Friends, I hope that this episode encourages you to take the simple step of starting to take action and shape the life you want. This is your year. 

 

Elizabeth Benton

No Motivation? No Problem

I don’t want to be motivated, I want to be committed.

I used to be the queen of, “I know I need to workout but I’m just not motivated” or “I really want to lose weight, but after work I have no motivation.” “I want to get out of debt, but I can’t seem to stay motivated.”

I tried every different gym and fitness program under the sun.

I bounced from diet to diet for almost 30 years.

I had tons of goals but very little follow through.

The Truth About Motivation

I’ve got good news: motivation is not required.

If you’ve been using “I’m not motivated” as an excuse, it’s time to retire that thought.

If you feel like your lack of motivation is holding you back, that ends here. It’s not true.

Motivation is not required. If you are never motivated again, not for a single moment in your life, you can still achieve all your goals and have build a life that surpasses your wildest dreams.

I used to live by the idea that my feelings influenced my actions…that how I felt obviously impacted, if not controlled, the choices I made.

If I was stressed, I would eat.

If I was overtired, I’d have a short fuse and be less patient in my communication.

If I was unmotivated or feeling down, I’d skip the gym.

While that was the flow of my choices for a long time, it’s not how “choice” works.

Sure, we can certainly convince ourselves that’s the way choice works (that’s what I did for decades), it doesn’t make it so.

Four weeks ago, my daughter died, unexpectedly. We were told she might be a little dehydrated and less than 36 hours later, she was gone.

I have never been less motivated to work.

I have never been less motivated to workout.

I’ve never been less motivated to eat, never mind to eat well and fuel my body brilliantly.

I feel all the things: sad, angry, lonely, exhausted, depressed…and then some.

Which of my actions do those feelings dictate?

None of them.

Last week, I committed to go for a walk every day. Yesterday, it was cool and rainy with wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour. I had no motivation to do anything, much less walk.

Unmotivated and depressed, I slipped on my sneakers and went out for a walk.

We let ourselves off the hook when we use our feelings to justify our inaction. You can do that, for sure. You can convince yourself that you didn’t have a choice because you were stressed or unmotivated.

That doesn’t make it true.

What To Do When You’re Feeling Unmotivated

Face reality.

Acknowledge that you aren’t motivated; also acknowledge that you can do whatever it is you said you’d do unmotivated.

You can workout unmotivated.

You can eat well unmotivated.

You can get out of bed unmotivated.

And you can do those things stressed, tired, angry and lonely, too.

You don’t have to wait for the feeling to pass.

Bring the feeling with you.

I didn’t want to eat breakfast this morning. I wasn’t the least bit motivated to fix a cabbage salad bowl. I felt those things as I pulled the cabbage out of the fridge and made it happen.

Don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking about future choices. Just commit to doing this one thing, unmotivated. Prove to yourself that you can eat well, workout, save money or be kind even when you don’t feel like it.

Do it just this once. Then, do it again.

You don’t have to be motivated. You have to be committed. 

Resources For When You Have No Motivation

Free Motivation Masterclass

Primal Potential Podcasts on Motivation

700: Internal vs External Motivation: https://primalpotential.com/700/
696: Creating Success Without Motivation: https://primalpotential.com/696/
680: Getting Motivated, Staying Motivated, Building Motivation: https://primalpotential.com/680/
563: Motivation For When You Feel Stuck: https://primalpotential.com/563/
454: Meditation, Weight Loss, Focus & Motivation: https://primalpotential.com/454/
431: Motivational Minisode: https://primalpotential.com/431/
427: No Time or Motivation? Micro Versions of Macro Strategies: https://primalpotential.com/427-2/
391: Motivation & Mindset Master Class: https://primalpotential.com/391/

250: Motivational Minisode – Focus on This: https://primalpotential.com/250-motivational-minisode-focus/
196: Motivational Minisode – Be Awake In Your Dreams: https://primalpotential.com/196-l-minisode-be-awake-in-your-dreams/
146: Hacking Motivation – 8 Ways to Get Motivated: https://primalpotential.com/146-hacking-motivation-8-ways-to-get-motivated/
136: Creating Consistency and Motivation – A Special Challenge: https://primalpotential.com/136-creating-consistency-and-motivation/
Motivational Minisode – A Client’s Perspective on Achieving Your Goals:
Motivational Minisode – Inaction is Harder: https://primalpotential.com/minisode-inaction-is-harder/
106: How To Create Motivations – 11 Motivators from my Favorite Book: https://primalpotential.com/how-to-create-motivation/

The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard

The Reason I’m Still Here

(If you’re new to the blog or haven’t seen social media or the podcast, Chris and I welcomed our precious daughter Dagny into the world on March 6 2020. She very unexpectedly left us for Heaven on March 20th.)

I’ll be honest – this post feels like it’s a little more for me than it is for anyone reading. I think I’m okay with that. I don’t ever want to forget these things. And: so many of you don’t know Chris. You’ve heard me talk about his for years, but you don’t know him even though he’s a huge part of Primal Potential behind the scenes.

And maybe this will help you love, celebrate or memorialize someone in your life. Maybe this post will make you less likely to bicker over the dishes or the garbage.

If you were to meet Chris, he’d be the outgoing jokster – it can be hard for people to take him seriously. But you’d quickly realize that he’s the type of guy who would do anything for anyone. It really doesn’t matter if he knows you or not, if he likes you or not, he’s the kind of guy who jumps in and helps. Always.

I knew these things…these are all reasons I love him (and reasons he drives me crazy)…but for better or worse, I saw new, awe-inspiring things in him over these last few weeks where we walked through the peaks of joy and the darkest, loneliest sorrows.

Friends, I don’t think I’d be alive if it weren’t for this man. That’s not hyperbole. I really don’t think I’d have survived this last week if not for this man. I don’t think I’d survive this day if it weren’t for him.

While I was pregnant, I wasn’t sure how Chris would be as a dad. I know a lot of men have trouble connecting with newborns and the bond is certainly different than it is between a mom & her baby.

In the last few weeks, Chris has opened my eyes to a loyalty and bravery I didn’t know until I saw him welcome our daughter into this world and until I walked beside him as we watched her leave.

I was hospitalized for two days before she was born. We were worried about my health but we never had any significant reason to worry about our precious daughter.

I was sick, but she was strong. As my fever climbed, Dagny’s heart rate was strong. Chris stayed up with me 24 hours a day while I labored for 2 days. The doctors and nurses tried to medicate me so I could sleep, but there was no sleep to be had. Chris sat at my side, watching my contractions on the monitor, rubbing my head through each one.

He made sure I was constantly drinking water. He pushed my IV pole to the bathroom hundreds of time. He changed my pads and put my underwear on me. He brought new pillows, put chapstick on my lips and tended to my every need.

As my fever climbed higher and my contractions got more intense, he held my face and calmly reassured me that we’d all be okay.

When my fever passed 104 degrees, they rushed us back for an emergency c-section. Once medicated, my muscles started cramping so badly that I had trouble speaking and breathing. Chris calmly coached every inhale and exhale. I didn’t take my eyes off him.

When the three of us got back to our room, the medical team wanted us to do 24 hours of skin-to-skin to help Dagny’s body temperature stabilize. My fever was breaking, so I was sweaty and clammy. Chris stayed up again, another 24 hours, to make sure she was safely on one of us at all times. She didn’t go near her bassinet for nearly 36 hours.

We fed her together. Chris was a part of every single feeding from the very first. Because of my incision, I couldn’t sit up well enough to control both my breast and our sweet baby, so Chris helped every time, often holding both Dagny and my breast, doing more work than I did.

He continued to help me change my pads, dress me and he even cleaned up my urine off the floor when I couldn’t get to the bathroom fast enough. I don’t typically do well with blood & medical things so he’d check my incision for me daily.

He made sure the nurses gave me my meds on time. He made sure I was eating and constantly drinking. He did all this running on 3+ days without sleep.

And all of that continued, around the clock, when we went home a few days later.

He helped me nurse & pump, he helped me sit and stand, he changed diapers (mine & Dagny’s), continued to help with every feeding, made my meals, cleaned up and took care of our dog & chickens.

I thought I couldn’t love him more – I thought he couldn’t do more – and then our nightmare began.

We took Dagny to the ER, thinking she was just a little dehydrated. Still, I was emotional. I wasn’t feeling well and I was so sad that our tiny baby girl was in the ER. I sat in her room in the ER and pumped in the corner, crying the whole time. Chris stood by Dagny, holding her when he could, talking and singing to her endlessly while also trying to calm me down. He’d dip his finger in sugar water and was so happy when she’d lock eyes with him while aggressively sucking his pinky.

They decided to monitor her overnight, to make sure her appetite returned as she rehydrated. I was bleeding heavily, among a few other challenges, and Chris insisted I lay down in the bed beside her to try and sleep. He stood by her bedside, talking and singing to her.

In the night, he walked with her to her x-ray, unwilling to let her leave the room without us.

When they got back to the room, Dagny started to struggle. It was really our first moment any of us realized she was sick. We were both scared, but Chris’s first priority was making sure that even with 5-10 medical professionals working on her, she knew we were there. He watched her eyes to make sure she didn’t look scared. He wrapped his arms around me and assured me she was going to be fine.

All the while, he continued to take care of me. He made sure I stayed hydrated and fed. He found Tylenol and made me take it. He asked about my bleeding every time I went to the bathroom.

He held all of our bags without setting them down for about 2 hours, wanting to be sure he was ready to fly out the door as soon as they started to move her.

When we arrived at Boston Children’s and realized how dire things had become, he showed complete devotion and urgency. I was so scared of what we would see when we were finally able (9 hours later) to see her. Chris just kept saying, “I don’t care. I need to see her. I need to see her.

He stood at her bedside immediately, with total courage. He touched her, kissed her, talked to her, sang to her. When I’d fall to the floor, he’d pick me up. With love and firmness, he talked me through each moment. “That’s still our girl. She’s coming back to us. You can do this.

I wish you could understand what we were seeing as he showed this bravery. There are no words to express his strength.

As we prepared to see her on Friday morning, sure that God would grant us a miracle, my breasts ached with their fullness. He brought me my pump and held me while I expressed milk for our daughter who was fighting for her life.

When they told us we had say goodbye, he insisted that they find a way to let us hold her before she passed. It took hours of logistics for us to be able to hold her, but he was unrelenting.

He insisted we get prints of her hands & feet. He didn’t want the social worker to take the prints. He did it himself.

He insisted someone capture a picture of the three of us, something we hadn’t yet done in her short life.

We sobbed. We held each other. We sat beside each other, with Dagny in his arms, as she was baptized and we said our final goodbyes.

When we got home from Boston that evening, the first thing Chris did was call the hospital. We knew she was gone, but he needed to check on her. He wanted to know where she was and what happened after we left that room. It was a gut-wrenching display of love & loyalty that I hope I never forget.

I could share 1,000 more moments and write 1,000,000 more words and it wouldn’t adequately express his bravery & love.

I never, ever want to forget it.

I think about all the time we’ve spent bickering over the house, the dishes, or a particular tone of voice.

I pray that every time I approach one of those petty annoyances, I remember the way he showed up for our daughter and the way he kept me alive during the darkest moments of my life.

In our darkest moments, there are people lighting the way.

Chris lit the way.

I hope this encourages you to honor someone who has brightened your path or invites you to light the way for someone in your life.

Thank you, Chris, for helping me get through every moment when I don’t think I can. You’ve shown me a bravery and loyalty I didn’t know.

To learn more about our daughter and how we are planning to live well in her honor, please visit primalpotential.com/dagny.

Pregnancy Update // 3rd Trimester #2

We’re in the home stretch! Baby girl could come any time, really! Though her due date isn’t until the end of February, I know it’s up to her at this point! Here’s her most recent picture, which will probably be her last as we aren’t planning to have any more ultrasounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My bump has taken over and I won’t lie: I’ve gained a lot of weight. I’m not sure of the exact number, but I’m pretty sure that with several weeks still to go, I’m already up over 40 pounds. How do I feel about it? Totally fine, for the most part.

Sure, I have moments of looking at my hips & butt and thinking, “Whoa. That’s quite different…” but honestly, it’s just the journey. I know that I create my results.

When I have intermittent moments of frustration or disappointment, I calmly remind myself that I’m in control here. I use uncomfortable feeing as a reminder to move a little more that day or dial back the sugar (baby still doesn’t respond well to vegetables and protein).

I don’t want to be someone who is dramatic about my size. I want to use my energy & emotion for more productive things. These aren’t problems; they’re opportunities for growth & change (literally and figuratively)!

It’s been a really interesting transition…there’s a part of me that is genuinely excited to have gained so much weight. It sounds weird, even to me, as I type it. I think it’s because losing 100+ pounds was a journey full of so much pride. It wasn’t without it’s challenges & frustrations, but I remember being so proud of myself and excited about where I was going. While weight loss will not be my priority as soon as baby is born, it doesn’t scare or intimidate me, either. The opportunity for change is always exciting. 

bump

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about who I want my daughter to have as a mother…how I want her to see me. I want her to see and know me as a confident woman who takes impeccable care of herself. I want her to witness what a healthy body & mind look like.

That’s another idea that gets me so excited. It’s no longer just about me, how I feel in my body or my aesthetic goals. It’s now about what I get to demonstrate for my daughter.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of other stuff going on….

The renovation continues. I anticipate this phase will be complete in early February so we’ll be hustling to get stuff out of storage and settled before the baby arrives. We’re still living in the studio apartment on our property with most of our stuff packed away. It’s a tight squeeze and we’re reading for more space and the comforts of home! (I’ve been sharing house progress pictures on my Instagram stories if you aren’t following me there!)

There hasn’t been much intentional movement/exercise lately, in large part because I fell down the stairs a few weeks ago and injured my back. We monitored baby at the hospital after the fall and she was fine, but my back didn’t fare as well.

However, I just bought a treadmill and I’m going to set it up in my office. I’m excited to walk a lot more, both before & after baby.

One of my biggest priorities has been my delivery mindset. 

It’s staggering how many people offer up their horror stories about birth and recovery. For that reason, I’m spending a lot of time getting my mind healthy, positive and strong for delivery.

I have no expectations of how it will go – I’m not attached to any particular birth plan – but I do want to feel as calm and confident as possible going into the experience.

I’ve been spending 90 minutes each day (that time isn’t easy to find) going through hypnobirthing audios and reviewing affirmations about how strong and capable my body is. I’m visualizing my response to contractions and the calm way I work with my body instead of fighting against it.

I’ve also really stepped up my committment to nutrient density every day. I know this is a big part of my ability to recover after giving birth. I’m militant about my probiotics, getting enough protein, taking my omegas and including vegetables at every meal.

I don’t have a hospital bag packed, the nursery isn’t done, I have no idea what baby will wear home from the hospital and it will likely all stay that way. However, I do want to make sure I have some snacks to bring to the hospital!

I promise to keep you all posted! I’m excited to share our little girl with you when she arrives, as well as all the details of her arrival!