810: The #1 Strategy for Achieving Any Goal

Hi friends, it’s Elizabeth here, and I am so excited to share Episode 810 of Primal Potential with you! Today I am joined by the Chief Operating Officer for Primal Potential Suzie Barbour, and for the first time on the podcast, we are pulling back the curtain on why I have my coaching clients focus so much on mindset when many of them sign up for the 12 Weeks to Transformation with the goal of losing weight.

You’re not going to want to miss this conversation! Listen or read on as we do a deep-dive on my #1 coaching strategy for achieving any goal—transforming your mindset!

Why Not Weight Loss?

Several months back when Suzie started working for Primal Potential one of the first things she noticed was that everybody wants to hear strategies about fat loss.

From her perspective as the COO who is trying to grow the business, it would be a natural move for us to come up with a food plan or make content surrounding the typical themes that people associate with weight loss, like exercise and food, but I always say no. No to food plans and no to new products based specifically on the theme of ‘weight loss’.

Suzie says that people are inspired by my weight loss journey, having lost and successfully kept off well over 100 pounds, and this is what customers are saying they want. So she kept asking me, why not weight loss?

It’s not that I don’t want to help people with that goal, it’s that I want to help people with that goal in a different way that is going to be far more effective than a list of foods or a rule book.

A few years ago I did address weight loss directly. We had a program called the Fat Loss Fast Track that helped hundreds of clients lose weight. But we changed that program. We reshaped it into the 12 Weeks to Transformation and the reason I did this is because client after client was coming into the 12 weeks with the goal of losing weight, but they weren’t just doing that. They were transforming their finances, relationships, and fitness routines. They began taking better care of their homes, and becoming more organized.

We realized that it’s not about weight at all but what it really takes to create change.

(4:19) Why Not Create an Eating Plan?

In the Primal Potential Facebook group, someone wrote a post asking others to share what types of eating plans they are following. This person said they want to eat less, cut portions, but are feeling anxious and doubtful about the level of strictness to their diet, so they will probably revert back to a food plan they’ve tried before like Weight Watchers. 

I hear this from podcast listeners all of the time who have had some success with a previous food plan, but can’t stick with it now. And let me tell you, I tried this for decades.

Anyone can follow a plan for a little while, but then stress, vacation, or illness occurs and people get derailed and think to themselves “why can’t I make myself do it” or “why can’t I get back on the imaginary wagon?” 

All of this is a result of the way you think. 

The idea of being ‘on the wagon’ is a start-tomorrow mindset and it stems from the way that you think—the way that your mind generates excuses. At Primal Potential we want to help people become better thinkers and problem solvers so that our excuses won’t keep holding us back.

I very strongly believe that there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of ways to lose weight. There is no one food religion we need to subscribe to. Success in this area is not a matter of routine but a way of thinking.

Suzie and I both know we could make a ton of money with a 30-day plan for fat loss that tells people exactly what to eat but that’s not what we do. We create lasting results for our clients. The way we do that is through mindset.

People find our program because they are seeking weight loss solutions, often having spent money on other programs. A lot of those people feel a sense of shame because they have invested time and money in weight loss solutions that worked for them in the past but don’t work in every season of their lives. There is no reason to feel shame around that. Before I lost my weight, I didn’t have the tools I have now and you don’t know what you don’t know.

But as Suzie explains in this episode, we see this all of the time in the 12 Weeks to Transformation.  Once our clients have a grasp on this toolbox, they use their tools to create sustainable change in areas of their lives that they didn’t know they wanted to improve.

(10:34) If someone really wants to drop 20 lbs, should they focus on losing weight or only mindset?

I am not telling anyone not to focus on weight loss. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel great in your body and get rid of excess body fat–either for cosmetic or health-related reasons. I’m also not saying that instead of focusing on weight, people should focus on mindset. What I am saying is that when you upgrade the way you think, you come at our goals in a way that is much more sustainable.

When we focus on mindset, we slowly take power away from our doubts and bad habits. I eat better now because I am a more well-rounded thinker. My old pattern was that I would get super stressed or have a bad day and tell myself that I didn’t care, I was going to eat ice cream and—whatever—I’ll do better tomorrow. That pattern only changed because I became a better thinker. 

So if you say you want to lose weight, I want to help you help yourself, but in a way that addresses the real problem. The real problem isn’t that you don’t know what to eat—that doesn’t have anything to do with it! The real problem is that you aren’t following through on the things you already know will work. And that is happening because of the way you are thinking about it. 

Nobody will ever coach you like the voice in your own head. Your outcome hinges entirely on the quality of the voice in your head. When the alarm goes off, and you hit snooze, you are actively being coached by the voice in your head. Make that coaching better and you get better in every way. (Read that again or listen at 13:20).

This is not about ignoring the science of weight loss, but the science alone is not enough. You won’t get results without changing your mindset to address inconsistency, bad habits, or an excuse-generating inner dialogue.

This is especially true in a challenging year like 2020. Hard times are when we need mindset the most. When life is bonkers we are going to grow so much more. If we wait for a season of life that is settled, then we will have missed a huge opportunity to learn, to be in the trenches with the tools. 

(18:41) What about people who don’t believe that mindset is actually what they need?

I was that person for so long and I wish I could go back in time and talk some sense into myself. People told me for years that weight loss was all in my head. But I thought they were saying that it wasn’t a weight issue and I was sure that it was. I was defensive because I was scared that focusing on mindset meant not focusing on weight, and I wasn’t willing to not focus on weight. It was only when I took this other approach that I experienced lasting effects.

What I’m telling you is the way to get results with your physical body is by changing the very decision maker in your life. It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we don’t hold ourselves to the standard of doing it.

Plenty of people have the approach of body acceptance or health at any size and that is not my personal standpoint. If you want to reduce your body fat and feel better in your skin, then I want to do it alongside you. I am connected to that outcome and I recognize that the thing that keeps us from those results is the way we think, make decisions, and talk to ourselves.

When you start the day fired up to make healthier choices but, the next thing you know, you blow the first opportunity you get, that’s mindset. This is what we have to change.

(21:52) The Myth of “I Don’t Care” & Defining Mindset

People tell themselves that they don’t care but that’s not true. People with weight loss concerns care deeply. But when you try diets and programs that don’t work, no one is hearing you say “I don’t care” and challenging you on that idea. 

You get a craving for junk food and the coach in your head starts talking to you, saying it doesn’t matter, you’ve failed before, start tomorrow, this one thing won’t hurt. People say they aren’t consistent, but they are. They are consistent with skipping workouts, hitting snooze, or being disorganized. This kind of thinking is what we upgrade in the 12 Weeks to Transformation. We work on shifting the voice in our own heads because that’s where the magic is.

People tell me that they are apprehensive about signing for the 12 Weeks because of a fear that they will disengage. They say, “Elizabeth, I really want you to hold me accountable and prevent me from drifting.” And I say back, I want them to hold themselves accountable and that I will give them the tools to do it.

I’m not always going to be there but the coach in your head will be. And we have to make that a great coach. We are all capable of being great, passionate, purposeful coaches—that is the work we have to do!

I don’t want to create codependency with my clients. My goal is for you to not need me. I want to set all of us free. We have all that we need (and then some) to create change in our lives. 

Okay, maybe your mindset needs to change a bit, but I can give you the tools to trust yourself. This is totally possible, especially for those who think it isn’t.

(36:48) My Final Words on Mindset

There are only a few tools that we need. We don’t have to first master weight loss, then finances, then relationships. The reality is that as we use these tools on repeat, every aspect of our lives begins to shift. 

No matter who you listen to, gurus, influencers, or trainers, nobody will coach you more than the voice in your head. As you interact with your spouse, when your alarm goes off, when you stand in front of the fridge at 10pm, everything gets easier when you upgrade to the right tools and that’s what we focus on in the 12 Weeks to Transformation.

To learn more about the 12 Weeks to Transformation visit primalpotential.com/transform. For a limited time, anyone who joins the waitlist for the 12 Weeks to Transformation will receive totally FREE access to my new Client Preview Series with me where we tackle topics like consistency, resilience, goal achievement, fat loss, and more!

808: Overcome Binge Eating & Heal Your Relationship with Food

I get a lot of questions about what clients can expect from the 12 Weeks to Transformation. They want to know what those twelve weeks look like and—more importantly—they want to know what they walk away with at the conclusion of the program.

In this episode, hear directly from one of my current 12 Weeks to Transformation clients, Beth, who joined the summer session with the goal of losing a few pregnancy pounds and in the process saved $4,000, transformed her family life, and, yes, her weight is down as well. This is Beth’s experience.

04:35 Everything Was Going So Well

Beth’s hardships this year are painfully familiar. A stay-at-home mom of two small children, Beth was interviewing for her dream job. She was in the final stage of the interview process and she found the perfect daycare, everything was lining-up. Then Covid hit and everything fell apart.

Beth was in a bad place, binge-eating, spending too much money, just trying to cope with the stress. Having read my book Chasing Cupcakes, Beth was aware of me and The 12 Weeks to Transformation. She was hesitant about joining because she’d already spent money on other programs that didn’t give her the results she had hoped for. She sent me a message and we talked about her doubts and the embarrassment she felt about spending more money in the middle of a self-described “covid-spending binge”.

With the stated goal of losing her last baby pounds, Beth joined the 12 Weeks to Transformation. As of the time we recorded this podcast episode, the 8-week mark, it was becoming clear to Beth that the transformation was manifesting in other areas of her life. After eight weeks, Beth has saved $4,000.

9:30 Big Changes in 8 Weeks

What changed? Beth went from making covid-guilt-ridden purchases, buying stuff to comfort her son about not seeing his school friends, to saving $4,000 in less than 2 months.

In the 12 Weeks to Transformation Beth found tangible tools. She made a plan, started a budget, and took control. She learned to direct her focus to finances with a new journaling practice where she writes down her purchases and really thinks through the intentions behind her spending impulses. With her identity journal, Beth makes the time and space for those changes to resonate.

She also flipped her view of the situation. Working with her husband, Beth and her family figured out a way to make saving money fun for them. By tying the process to her husband’s vinyl record hobby and instituting a fun Friday ritual, the whole family is engaged and enjoying it. Beth says it’s a better way to live.

17:00 The Lingering Problem of Binge-Eating

During our conversation, Beth also describes the challenge she’s faced by being in a repetitive cycle of binge-eating, followed by restricting eating.

Most people don’t know how good it feels to feel good. For so many of us, normal is the binge-restrict cycle or it’s inconsistency. What’s working for Beth is a change in mindset. She’s not eating to lose weight, she’s eating to feel good and to be less moody.

She told me (20:25) I am so addicted to the peace that I feel around food if I don’t have sugar. I can’t imagine having carbs in the middle of the day, or sugar in the middle of the day, ever again.

For me too, my mood stability hinges on how I eat and drink. So I can expect the struggle to be worse if I consistently make food and alcohol choices that don’t serve me and that make me emotionally volatile.

Yet, most people don’t know how they would feel if they made different choices. This is something that I wrote a chapter about in Chasing Cupcakes. Give yourself the experience of giving maximum effort. You can always go back to the way things were before, but giving yourself the experience is powerful because you will actually know how it feels. 

26:20 The Most Helpful Tools

For Beth, the most helpful tools have been:

1. The Identity Journal

When Beth is thoughtful about her journaling, it helps her, not just track her spending choices, but figure out what went wrong the previous day. 

2. Affirmations

Beth shared her two favorites:

I am a creative and energetic parent. She says this affirmation empowers her as a parent by helping her to identify as that kind of care-giver.

I am willing to be uncomfortable to see what I am capable of. Beth uses this one when she’s stressed out, wants to eat something she shouldn’t and “numb-out”. She tells herself, we don’t do that anymore, it’s going to be uncomfortable, and then 15 minutes later she’s moved on. 

*This is how uncomfortable things become comfortable!*

3. Working Out

Beth says, “I eat and move through the world to feel amazing. It doesn’t feel amazing to snap at my husband, to yell at my kid.” Beth has realized that when she’s feeling low-energy and moody, there’s no better way to feel better than working out. She describes how taking care of her body helps her mood, in turn making everyone in her family happier.

4. Gratitude

Looking for gratitude is part of the 12 Weeks to Transformation process and it’s one of the first things that Beth noticed, one of the first of many shifts she felt.

33:30 Trusting Yourself to Make Change

I asked Beth what she would tell someone who doesn’t trust themselves to actually do the work if they invest in the 12 Weeks to Transformation. Here’s what she said:

The reason that you want to do it and that you feel like it’s something that can help is because it can and YOU can and you want to do it because you want to change.

The thing about this program is that it’s not for everyone because if you don’t want to do the work, don’t bother, it’s not easy.

You feel the pull because you know that you are capable of better than this, and you know you can feel better than this.You have to take that step to find out because it’s there and you have it in you, you just have to let yourself succeed.

To learn more about the 12 Weeks to Transformation—opening again in September—visit primalpotential.com/transform. For a limited time, anyone who joins the waitlist for the 12 Weeks to Transformation will receive totally FREE access to my new Client Preview Series where we are tackling topics like consistency, resilience, goal achievement, fat loss, and more!

My 5 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes

My 5 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes

I eff up. Kinda often. I’m totally not perfect. Most of my days don’t go according to plan. In fact, the other day I walked into the grocery store giving myself the mental pep talk “I will not buy any nuts” and walked out of the grocery store with a bag of macadamia nuts. Oh but it gets worse. I was that woman. I opened the bag while still in the store and started eating them while I shopped. Eh, nobody’s perfect.

There is, however, a big difference between my screw ups now and my screw ups when I was over 300 pounds. A few years ago, eating something I didn’t intend to eat would trigger the mindset of “The day is totally shot. I might as well eat ice cream and Doritos and attempt perfection tomorrow”. Seriously guys, I did that allllllll the time. I’ve heard it compared to getting a flat tire so you go ahead and slash the other 3. Yeah, nobody would do that – but when it came to food, one little slip up would convince me to totally go off the rails. That perfect day would never happen and so I’d be perpetually stuck in an overeating cycle. No bueno. That, my friends, is how you get to 300+ lbs.

Back to the macadamia nut story….when I got to my car I kinda laughed at myself for not only buying the very thing I said I wouldn’t but for being so desperate that I started chowing down while I was still in the freaking store! I wasn’t even enjoying them. How can you enjoy anything while pushing a cart and avoiding frustrating people who block the aisle for what seems like an eternity (though is probably less than 20 seconds)? So I fed the birds. Yup. Opened up my car door and dumped the macadamias on the ground. No litter. I don’t litter. Relax.

So I don’t count that as a failure or a big mistake, but I share that only to tell you that we all have off moments. I have, however, made a few major missteps along the way and I wanted to share them with you in case somebody can learn from my speedbumps.

No matter what your journey is, you’re going to make mistakes. No matter how long you’re pursuing a goal, you’ll screw up a few times. What is NOT guaranteed, however, is that you’ll choose to learn from those mistakes. In my opinion, true success comes when we embrace our failures, when we study them and when we use them as tools to help us moving forward. I have no doubt that I’ve made thousands of mistakes. I probably make mistakes on most days! I am in search of them. I journal about them. I try to understand why they happened, how I can avoid them moving forward, and what lessons I can learn from them to make myself even stronger.

Here they are, my 5 biggest weight loss mistakes:

  1. Exercising too much
    I went through a period of time along my journey when I was hitting the gym every single day with SERIOUS intensity. I was working out intensely at the gym for 60-90 minutes and then later in the day I’d run for another hour or more. Yes, I was losing weight but two other things were also happening: I was hungry as hell & I was not allowing my body to recover. I ended up developing severe tendonitis in both of my knees. Some days were so bad that I honestly had trouble walking up the stairs at my house and would go up backwards on my butt (but I STILL would go to the gym AND run). Moron. Plus, that level of activity triggered such intense hunger that there is no question I was eating more. After multiple doctors and friends told me I needed to back off or risk permanent damage to my knees I actually found that I still lost weight at the same pace because I wasn’t eating as much! More is not always more, my friends.
  2. Eating too much protein
    I get a little irritated when I see fitness/health professionals telling their clients that as long as they eat lean protein and veggies they can eat as much as they like. Don’t tell that to a seriously overweight person. We can throw down, k? I was eating 2 or more servings of protein at each meal and having a couple of protein shakes. I was hungry!! One reason I was so hungry was that I was working out too much, but I was also eating protein at the expense of fat. When I started swapping fat for protein I found that my hunger totally disappeared and I didn’t need to eat as much. I still load up on non-starchy veggies like Brussels sprouts, spinach, cabbage & cauliflower but I don’t exceed 1 serving of protein per meal and I always incorporate fat. Excess ANYTHING is a problem – even if its protein. Your body CAN use protein to generate glucose (sugar) and it CAN be stored as fat. Watch out. {Sign you’re eating too much protein? When you drink your protein shakes out of a massive flower vase…ummm…yeah, this happened. More than once}
    2014-07-14 13.00.01
  3. Snacking
    If you are hungry in between meals that is a sign that you’re not fueling your body optimally. I know we have been told to eat every few hours but your body was not designed that way. Do you think our Paleolithic ancestors had the opportunity to stop and much every couple hours? No way. Our bodies are far more efficient than that. Two things happen when you are CONSTANTLY grazing and snacking: you train your body to look for food every couple hours (a la hunger & cravings) and you prevent your body from ever seeking fuel beyond what you provide it. You know how you burn fat? When your body goes in search of fuel when you’re not eating. That’s when its able to tap into your body fat and torch that stuff for energy. Not when there is always a steady supply of carbs/fat/protein coming in through your MOUTH. Remember that your body is constantly communicating with you. If you’re hungry all the time that is a signal that you aren’t choose the best foods at meal time. Try increasing the amount of fiber and dietary fat. See how that feels. If you need a little more, try bumping up your protein. If you want to know more about this check out the blog post I wrote about certain foods that trigger hunger and cravings alllllll the damn time.
  4. Not being consistently accountable
    If I’m not constantly staying accountable, chances are I’ll start to make little concessions here and there. Overall, it’ll look like I’m doing well and staying on track but every day there are one or two little slips I make. These slips DO ADD UP. And if you aren’t paying attention, you’ve packed back on the weight you’ve lost in no time. I went a couple of months like this. I wasn’t wearing fitted clothes so I couldn’t sense that those “skinny” jeans were getting snug. I wasn’t checking my weight. I wasn’t taking my measurements. When I switched to a new gym and new trainer I was shocked to find that I had put some weight on. I was pissed. I was shocked. But honestly, it was no one’s fault but my own because I wasn’t maintaining accountability. This has to be a DAILY practice. Here’s what I do now for accountability: I write down my food EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. If I bite it, I write it. No exceptions. Even if its two peanuts from the little can my husband keeps in the pantry. My strength coach checks my weight EVERY.SINGLE.MONDAY. I hate that part but I know its important to me. I have a pair of pants that are too small and I put them on AT LEAST ONCE EACH WEEK. Even if I know I won’t like the results, I force myself to face reality. Turning away while we make bad decisions is the most dangerous thing we can do. PAY ATTENTION. Be accountable.
  5. Not eating enough fat
    It was probably 18 months into my fat loss journey before I learned how important dietary fat is in my diet. I was really focused on protein and non-starchy vegetables but like I said earlier: I was hungry all the time. I was eating like a trucker. I didn’t understand why I was so famished AND I was spending a ton of money on groceries (because I was eating so much). When I started adding more dietary fat I instantly noticed a change. I had more energy, I was more focused, I had more endurance in my workouts, I was sleeping better and I was waaaaay less hungry. I no longer had to eat double servings of protein and snack throughout the day. It was the single greatest shift I’ve noticed of all the changes I’ve made. Now, I incorporate fats like MCT oil, coconut oil, avocado and ghee into every.single.meal without exception.

Own your mistakes. Embrace them as incredible opportunities to learn and improve. Study them. Ask other people. Write about them. Try new things and see if they work better. If they don’t, that’s not something to be frustrated by, its something to celebrate because you now know more than you did before! Always be learning. Always be assessing. It’s the most powerful tool you have.