At times, we all feel stuck. Or unhappy. Or both.
In today’s episode I’m talking about the danger of participating in our own problems instead of participating in the solutions.
When we complain, blame, rehash the past, gossip, explain & justify, we are participating in the problem, not the solution.
When we participate in the problem, our energy, attention, time & effort are going to proving that we are right and that our struggle is real instead of going towards getting it right, regardless of the details.
This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite episodes of the podcast so far. You’ve got to hear this one!
Episode 116: 5 Meals Under $1.99
Episode 066: Healthy Eating On A Budget
In October 2019, our relationship with Thrive Market changed. They decided to put their marketing dollars in avenues outside of podcasting but we still think they’re a good choice if you’re looking to save money on health & personal care products.
How to leave a rating & review
What Is Breaking Barriers
How To Leave A Rating & Review (thank you!!!)
One of the most common questions I am asked is, “How did you get motivated? What changed?” People who knew me before I lost weight know how hard I had tried. They know that I was never satisfied with my weight and always looking for a quick fix but tended to fall back to old patterns pretty quickly. People often tell me that they envy my motivation – they just “don’t have it”.
I think there is a major misconception here about motivation. Ever notice that you feel motivated one minute and not the next? That’s not just you. That’s pretty universal. Motivation is not something that strikes you once and never leaves. High achievers aren’t merely blessed with a high level of motivation.
Think about why you wake up and go to work every day. Do you want to? Maybe sometimes. Do you go on the days you don’t want to? Of course. Why? Because there are consequences if you don’t. You’ve made it a non-negotiable event in your head because the rewards for going to work (your pay check, health insurance, career advancement, whatever it may be) are greater than the rewards for staying home (relaxation, low-stress, etc). You have decided in your head that there is more pain associated with not going to work (getting fired, having people think you’re a slacker, getting behind on projects) than there is pleasure in staying home. It is 100% about the associations in your head.
If you are someone who wants to lose weight but regularly finds yourself indulging in cookies, snacks, pizza, etc – this is for no other reasons than the associations you have in your head. Trust me – I know this – I was this way for years. Yes, I wanted to lose weight desperately. But in my head, I associated weight loss with deprivation, frustration, hard work and sacrifice. The mind is built to encourage us to seek pleasure and avoid pain so OF COURSE I found ways to sabotage myself!! To compound the problem, I linked sweets and junk food with (momentary) relief, satisfaction and indulgence. My associations were making my body pull me towards overeating and keep me from weight loss. It was impossible to “maintain motivation” when I had such negative associations with weight loss and positive associations with overeating.
So what did I do? I made a list of everything I would gain if I lost the weight: pride, confidence, happiness, joy, mobility, energy, satisfaction, admiration – I listed out as many things as I could. I made a long list of everything I could lose if did NOT lose the weight – my health, my marriage, what was left of my confidence, mobility, energy, sex drive, friends, happiness.
I forced myself to pay attention to my thoughts. When I started to think things like “I really want some ice cream” or “I’m not losing weight fast enough” or “My sweet tooth is out of control”, I would immediately replace those thoughts with things like, “I eagerly fuel my body with healthy foods because I love them. Everyday my body is leaner and stronger and I am happier and more energetic.” Regardless of my mood or mindset I would say these things with a smile on my face – working on reprogramming my brain to positively associate health & fitness and turn off those negative associations.
I made sure to read or listen to motivational things every day. I found books that motivate me and I read them over and over. I listened to motivational music. I subscribed to motivational podcasts and blogs. I wanted as many positive, empowering messages coming into my mind.
Motivation is a decision. I bet most of you could tell me what you should eat or not eat to lose weight. That’s not the issue. The issue is between your ears. The associations you’ve built related to weight loss, healthy eating and lifestyle change. You need to do the mental work if you want long-term results. You need to. There are no short cuts.
I recently wrote my own personal success manifesto. I have learned the hard way that motivation comes easily when it comes easily but maintaining weight loss motivation takes a lot of time and effort. I have learned so many lessons over the last year and I don’t want to lose them. I need to establish them as fibers of my being. I need to own them, claim them, know them and live them. Every.single.day. My success manifesto is made up of things that not only have helped me along my fat loss journey, they’re things I know will help me achieve any and all of my future goals – personal, professional, or emotional. They are lessons I hope to never lose sight of and lessons I hope to impart to all my clients. Though its extremely personal, I wanted to share with with you guys.
I only allow people in my life who make me feel capable, strong and beautiful. I only allow people in my life who want the type of love & friendship I have to give. If you aren’t supportive, if you aren’t kind, if you don’t believe in me, if you don’t make me feel like the beautiful, capable, tenacious woman I am – I ain’t got room for you. Its funny, as my life and career begin to take shape and I start to see all that I’m capable of, I’m beginning to see that some people don’t really want to be in my life. If they wanted to be in my life, they’d show up and ask to be in my life. They’d make it happen. I’m not chasing. I’m not begging. Its exhausting and I want more than that. I want people in my life who are eager and excited to be a part of my journey. Its been a terribly hard lesson to learn but I’m claiming this one. If you love me and you’re here for the good and the bad – I’ll love you right back just as hard as I can. If not – good riddance. You can just go.
I won’t regret my past or beat myself up for it. This one is NOT easy!!! Sure, I have wasted a lot of years being a person I don’t want to be. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve damaged my body and my mind. I have good days and bad days. I’ve lost opportunities. I’ve lost loves. I’ve lost friends. I’ve disappointed myself. I don’t look at my mistakes as failures. I look at them as lessons that have equipped me to be RIGHT where I am, doing what I’m doing. And I have mistakes ahead of me. Those too will be LESSONS. Opportunities. Here’s the thing though: a failure is only a failure if you QUIT. So really, the only potential failure is quitting and I will NEVER quit. And to quote Rocky Balboa (I recently watched the movies for the first time), “Going one more round when you don’t think you can is what makes the difference in your life”.
I will keep learning. The very best teacher for me? Me. Paying attention to my thoughts, emotions, cravings, hunger, setbacks and victories allows me to always be learning and improving. I try to view EVERYTHING as feedback – feedback that will be a powerful tool if I choose to learn from it. Days when I’m extremely hungry: opportunity to learn. Days when I want to eat everything in site and can only think about ice cream: an opportunity to learn. Weeks where fat loss seems effortless: an opportunity to learn. Weeks where nothing goes right and I seem to have lost my motivation: an opportunity to learn. But I’ll also immerse myself in the education and insights of others. Especially the people who love me enough to be in my life. They have so much to teach me and I want to learn from them. I’ll read, I’ll listen, I’ll study, I’ll reflect. I pursue personal improvement every day.
I will choose to be joyful. Sure, it would be easy to stress over how far I feel I still need to go. It would be easy to feed frustrated that I can’t eat whatever I want whenever I want. I could choose to feel burdened by my daily workouts. But I will choose to be joyful and find the good in my days. I’ve come so far. I have an incredible support system. I am capable of absolutely anything I choose to accomplish. What’s not to be joyful about?!
I will take risks, believe in my strength and pursue things outside of my comfort zone. If I stay comfortable all the time, I won’t change much. I want to grow. I want to take my physique, my thought processes and my business to the next level. So I will regularly take risks without fear of failure but rather with excitement for the potential to grow.
If you were writing your own personal success manifesto, what would you include? Tell me on facebook or leave a comment!
I went to see the movie The Judge with my husband. He sees just about every movie that comes out in the theatres but I’m not much of a moviegoer. I had seen the previews for this one and I really wanted to see it. I did not disappoint. Incredible movie. We both totally loved it (he expected it to suck). It was the kind of movie that keeps you engaged the entire time – it made us laugh, it made me cry and it shocked me. Highly recommend.
At one point in the movie, one of the characters is reflecting on a near fatal car accident. She said, “Whatever had or hadn’t happened in the past, I was going to be the hero of my own story”. Those words resonated so deeply with me.
My story hasn’t always been pretty. In fact, it’s rarely been pretty. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with my weight. My mom had me on diets starting in elementary school. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I had a number of abusive relationships. I struggled with extreme obesity, binge eating, eating disorders and food addiction. I used OTC and prescription drugs to drop weight fast. I obsessed over food. I would wildly restrict for LONG periods of time. Months. I literally went several months eating nothing but chicken broth and protein shakes. My weight ruined relationships. I’m tearing up as I write this because it has damaged so many potentially wonderful things in my life. Emotionally, it almost killed me. I’m not exaggerating. It was such an overwhelming burden that it literally almost killed me. I’ve gone through some incredibly dark times.
But I don’t want ANY of those things to define me. I don’t want any of those things to place restrictions on what I can do and who I can be. Because whatever has or hasn’t happened in the past, I am going to be the hero of my own story. You know, not only will I not let those things define me, I want to USE them to create an incredible story. I want to use them to help people. I want to use them to make my dreams come true. I want to use them – and I will use them – to make me strong that I have ever been, both physically and emotionally.
I fought hard to overcome food addiction. I fought hard to overcome obesity. I fought hard to overcome depression. I wake up every morning determined to create a better life. Why? Because no one can do it for me. Because I want it so badly and I’m determined to get what I want. Fortunately, I am 110% capable of doing it myself. It might not seem like making changes to your diet and exercise routine can transform your entire life, but it can.
Through changing my diet, I found self-confidence. Through changing my diet, I found my career path and life’s work. Through changing my diet, I overcame depression. Through changing my diet, I transformed my health. Through changing my diet, I’ve shifted my perspective. I changed my mind. I changed my body. I changed myself. It starts with believing that you are capable of transformation, you are worthy of an amazing life and then ACTING every single day to make those changes a reality.
I want to be the hero of my own story. I don’t want to be average. I don’t want to stand in my own way. I don’t want to live the life I grew up living. I want to create something extraordinary. When I feel like giving in, I remember how powerful I am. I remember how powerful my choices are. I remember the creative potential of my decisions. There is nothing I cannot achieve, but it takes ME. It takes commitment. It takes the daily decision to be different.
Whatever has or hasn’t happened in my past, I am going to be the hero of my own story. Are you?
This past Saturday morning I drove to the gym and didn’t really feel like going in. I wasn’t in the mood to get sweaty and I kinda wanted to phone it in and get back home. I just didn’t feel “on”. But, I was there. I knew my body needed it and I decided to just get it over with. I am so glad I did. It ended up being an awesome workout. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, it was a song on my playlist that really spoke to me, motivated me and got me in the zone.
I was doing a circuit of weighted step-ups and flights of stairs when “Remember the Name” started blaring through my headphones:
15% concentrated power of will
100% reason to remember the name”
I pushed through the workout. My strides suddenly became intense and purposeful. I got focused. I wiped the sweat off my hands and grabbed the weights tighter. I went faster. I worked harder. I thought about the lyrics.
I kept it on repeat for the duration of my workout. I thought about it the entire way home. I thought about my journey. I thought about the times I have thrown in the towel and the times I’ve picked myself up and dragged myself back on track. I thought about the differences between my past failures and my current determination. My jaw was set as I embraced a renewed determination to crush my goals. I’m not giving up. I’m not giving in. I’m going to crush my goals and I’m going to capture the essence of what has made this possible for me. What was the formula for all the past failures and what is my formula now? Its not 5% pleasure or 50% pain (usually), but what is it?
For all the years leading up to my transformation I feel like it looked like this:
70% planning the perfect regimen (over and over)
25% stressing and obsessing over it
5% doing the work
Seriously. I’d read and read and read. I’d commit to a super-strict plan that was BOUND to give me results. I mean, how could it not? It was flawless. Perfectly clean eating, daily workouts…it was the recipe for fat loss success. Except that it wasn’t. I couldn’t follow it. It made me crazy. It was someone else’s plan. It wasn’t mine. It wasn’t for me. It didn’t fit my lifestyle and honestly, at the time, it was biting off far more than I could chew. I’d spend most of my energy finding and understanding the plan. I’d spend the rest of my time worrying about how I’d make it work. And hardly any time DOING the work.
It DIDN’T work. In fact, it created this snowball effect of feeling not good enough, feeling ashamed, feeling embarrassed, feeling the need to hide and then feeding my feelings of insecurity (with cookies and ice cream and Mexican food). No lie. It was destructive. It hurt my self esteem and often led to weight GAIN.
My weight loss equation is drastically different now. Some people might say its 80% food, 10% exercise and 10% mindset. Some people might say its 50% diet and 50% exercise. I disagree with all of that. This is my equation for success – in life, in fitness, in weight loss and in work. It looks like this:
100% of: SHOW UP. BE CONSISTENT. LOVE YOURSELF.
show up. be present every day with the desire to improve.
be consistent. don’t hop around from trend to trend and get distracted by what so-and-so is doing. do YOUR work and do it every day.
love yourself right where you’re at. every day. love yourself on days you screw up. love yourself on days you do everything right. love yourself when you fit into your skinny jeans and love yourself when they won’t freaking button. love yourself when your face is puffy and love yourself when you start to see progress. love yourself when you crush your workout and love yourself when you decide to sleep in.
When you doubt yourself (and you will) – DIG IN. As Blaze says, DO THE WORK. Let your own uncertainty be the fire that fuels you. Does someone in your life not believe in you? Who gives a sh*t? Dig in. Prove it to yourself. Prove it to them. Don’t get down and dive into a bag of chips. Put on your sneakers and hit the road. With every bite of that clean meal you’re eating, imagine your body transforming. Imagine where you’re going. Imagine how you’ll feel as you achieve your dreams. 100%. Every day. There are no excuses except the ones you create and decide to believe. Hear me? THERE ARE NO EXCUSES EXCEPT THE ONES YOU CREATE AND DECIDE TO BELIEVE.
This cycle of being on track Monday-Thursday and totally off the rails Friday-Sunday won’t get you where you want to go. Beating yourself up every time you eat a treat is unhealthy and counterproductive. Feeling pressured to “work off” the food you eat doesn’t serve you. All those thoughts and behaviors are a waste of your very precious energy. Every day I do my best. Every day that looks different. Every day I wake up and commit to doing my best. To honoring my body and giving it what it needs. I am consistent. I don’t do this when I feel like it. I just do it. I do it because I love my body, not because I hate it.
100% of your very best, 100% of the time.
When I look at pictures from when I weighed over 300 pounds I inevitably wonder how I let it happen. At some point along the upward journey why didn’t I stop and say, “Woah now, enough is enough”? Why did I just keep buying larger sizes without recognizing that things were out of control?
I had no accountability. I’m not talking about a counselor or trainer; I’m talking about the fact that I never allowed myself to see what was happening. I avoided scales like the plague. At times, I cancelled doctor’s appointments to avoid finding out how much I weighed. I never looked in the mirror. It’s true – the only mirror I would use was the small one on my car’s sun visor. I turned away when walking past the bathroom mirror or looked down when washing my hands in a public restroom. I rarely turned the lights on in the bathroom, especially when taking a shower. I was doing it because I was ashamed of how I looked but it had an unintended consequence – it allowed me to balloon to 300+ lbs without ever really noticing what was happening. I never wore fitted clothes. I wore baggy pants and shirts that allowed me to pack on the pounds without struggling to get dressed each day.
Accountability is key. It can take many forms but it’s completely essential whether you’re looking to start your weight loss journey or not. Accountability is necessary for me now as I reshape my body. It will be an important part of my process for the rest of my life.
When I first started my journey I stayed accountable by checking my weight, my measurements and by paying attention to how my clothes felt. On their own, none of these are foolproof but together they always let me know if I was on the right track.
Now I stay accountable in a few different ways. I still pay attention to how my clothes feel and I’m always working towards fitting into something that’s currently a little snug. I also pay close attention to my hunger, energy and cravings. If any or all of these are out of whack I know I’ve got to make adjustments. Finally, and most difficult of all, I’ve stopped avoiding the mirror. It’s still hard for me, especially after a cheat day. I don’t want to see the bloat or puffiness. I want to pretend it’s not there but I face it head on. Ignoring things that made me uncomfortable is how I got into this mess and I won’t behave that way anymore. I take pictures of myself every day. I pay attention to my body and how it’s changing. I leave the light on when I take a shower.
You know those days when you think “I better not even try those skinny jeans today, I overdid it this weekend”? Those are the days you need to wear those jeans the most. You know when you wait to go dress shopping thinking you’ll drop a couple pounds this week and shop after you’ve cut back? Don’t think that way. Face the music and do it today. Wear the pants, shop for the dress, take a good, long look in the mirror. When you don’t want to face it is when you NEED to face it. Avoiding for a day or a week turns into 2 days or 2 weeks and before you know it, you hardly recognize yourself. Accountability is a daily practice.
I get it. You don’t like the way you look. It can be painful to see the reflection of someone you don’t recognize and aren’t proud of. But avoiding it is only compounding the problem – it’s giving permission for you to continue making the choices that created that person you don’t like. Swallow your pride, accept that it’s going to hurt a little and start to face the music. If you don’t like what you see, it’s time to change. Force yourself to confront what you aren’t satisfied with. Open your eyes, stop trying to deceive yourself and create the person you want to be.
My weight loss journey has been a LONG one. I can’t remember ever not being on a diet. Granted, this time has been different – I don’t feel like I’m on a diet – I feel like I’ve adopted a new, healthy lifestyle that is naturally driving me towards my weight loss goals. However, even though it’s a lifestyle and there is no end point where I’ll go back to eating the way I used to, I am working towards specific goals for my body and it can be hard to maintain motivation through the ups and downs. I’ve had to constantly practice different strategies and ways of keeping my eyes on the goal because this is NOT a linear journey. It’s not a direct route. There are detours along the way. There are good weeks and bad weeks – successful months and less successful months. Maintaining motivation is a daily pursuit and the strategies that work for me change based on what I’m struggling with. Here are 5 ways to maintain motivation that have worked well for me:
- Set goals for the day every morning.
I do this first thing when I wake up – before I head to the gym, before I drink my coffee, before I give myself the chance to eat something that isn’t going to help me reach my goals. Some days I wake up feeling less motivated than others – some days I wake up down right tired, frustrated and ready to quit. But, forcing myself to stop and set a few small, daily goals is just what I need to get focused, remind myself of how important this is, and accept a personal challenge to have a great day. I’m talking about several small goals – they might be to stretch for 5 minutes (I despise stretching but I’m horribly tight), to do 100 pushups throughout the day while I work and to prep my food for the following day. I love the feeling of crossing things off my list so this strategy has been so helpful for me.
- Visualize your best self
I tend to use this at two specific times: when I’m working out or when I’m tempted to eat something I know I shouldn’t. When I am pushing through a workout and really want to quit I’ll visualize the body I’m working towards and imagine how I’ll feel when my hard work has created that body. When I’m standing at the fridge tempted to grab my husband’s trail mix (that stuff taunts me every day!) I remind myself that it’s much more rewarding to become the woman I want to be than it is to enjoy that trail mix for 5 minutes. (Damn trail mix.)
- Regularly check progress
Here’s what I know about myself: the less often I evaluate my progress the less disciplined I am. Accountability is king. Part of the reason I got as heavy as I did was because I avoided mirrors and never assessed where I was at. On the flip side, the more often I check my progress, the more motivated I am to continue to see progress. For me, that means I check my measurements weekly and always have a pair of pants that are just a bit too small that I try on regularly. I also take progress pictures – quick little head shots that help me see my progress when I compare them against previous weeks.
- Sleep therapy
This is a big deal for me. For a long time (until I left my job a couple weeks ago) I was getting up at 3:45am to workout, then working all day and sometimes working out again after work. Some days I was totally exhausted. Those were always the days when I struggled most with hunger and cravings. On those days, I go to bed early. Grumpy? Sleep more. Hungry? Sleep more. Sore? Sleep more. Tired? FREAKING GO TO BED! This means I DVR my favorite TV shows, I’m slow to return personal phone calls, I am reluctant to take on commitments beyond work and working out. Guess what? That’s ok. This journey I’m on is one of the most important ones in my life and I make no apologies. Sleep is powerful. Go to bed.
- Re-think deprivation
NOTHING is off limits. Stop feeling sorry for yourself because you have chosen to say no to your co-workers birthday cake. For most of my life I have been an “all or nothing” thinker. I’m either all-in or I’m all-out. This has been a downfall for me when it comes to food. I’m either binging and eating everything in sight or I’m totally restricting and making no exceptions. When I would binge I would think “I’d better eat everything I might possibly crave once I start my diet because I won’t be able to have this stuff anymore!” It’s almost like I thought there was a shortage of oreos and if I didn’t eat all of them now I’d never have them again! It took me a while to realize that all of my favorite less-healthy foods aren’t going anywhere. They’ll always be there. I’m just delaying my enjoyment of them for 2 key reasons: 1) to reach my physical health and body weight goals and 2) to learn the art of moderation. I love Cold Stone ice cream. I LOVE it. But you know what? I don’t need it today. I don’t need it this month. My goals are more important. But I don’t need to stress about it because there will come a day when I can have a cup (instead of a pint) of ice cream without guilt and without undoing all of this hard work. I routinely say to myself, “Chill, Elizabeth. Eventually you can enjoy that in moderation. It will be there. But today is about your goals”. And when I’m tempted to drive to Cold Stone and buy 10 pints? Go to bed. Call it a day.
So there you have it. Those few strategies have helped me to stay focused and on track during this long and challenging journey. What are your go-to strategies for maintaining motivation? Find me on facebook or instagram and let me know!
You can do this!!