Do you struggle with getting motivated, and wonder🤔 how you can find this elusive feeling more often (like, maybe every day) so you can LOSE WEIGHT⚖️?
My friends, in today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast, we are going to clean out🧹 our mental closets and give some clarity👓 to this topic. I’m excited to bring you a four-step method that’s completely DOABLE and will have you feeling energetic⚡, open👐, hopeful🕊️, and ready to take on WEIGHT LOSS (or any other goals🎯 you may have this year)!
Ready? Let’s GO!
NOTE: Pahla B’s Book Club pick for January is “How Emotions are Made” by Lisa Feldman Barrett. First-time Chirp Audiobooks users can get $5 off any purchase by using the code PAHLA5 – this link will take you directly there AND apply the discount:
(And previous Chirp users can snag this title at just $2.99 for a limited time!)
Canadian friends: this book is available on Chirp in Canada too!
REGISTER for this month’s LIVE Book Club event on January 30th here:
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Getting MOTIVATED to LOSE WEIGHT (full transcript)
You’re listening to the Fitness Matters Podcast and this is episode number 218: “Getting Motivated to Lose Weight.”
Welcome to the Fitness Matters Podcast where every week we talk about the Fitness Matters that matter to you. I’m Pahla B, YouTuber, certified life and weight loss coach, soon to be author, and your best middle-aged fitness friend. Are you ready to talk about the fitness mindset that matters to you? Me too. Let’s go.
Hello. Hello. Hello, my friends. You guys, it is January. And that means, I mean, that means you’ve set some resolutions and maybe you’re losing some weight this year, right? I mean, not necessarily, you guys. Can I just like backtrack already? Here we are – first 30 seconds of the podcast – and I’m like, “Hey, this is what we’re going to talk about.” But also it’s not the only thing we’re going to talk about.
Here is my favorite thing about any of these mindset topics, which by the way, just in case you are brand new to the Fitness Matters Podcast, welcome. I’m super glad you’re here. We talk about mindset stuff. Now, I almost always view mindset through the lens of weight loss. I like to talk to you about weight loss. I know that’s why lots of you are here. Specifically with this one, here it is in the title, “Getting Motivated to Lose Weight.”
I want you to know that this is such a universal topic. And so for those of you who either are here brand new and are maybe losing weight (or maybe not), haven’t really decided what your goals are, or for those of you who have been around for a while, who just click on everything that I put out – you guys, I just love you so much. Thank you so much for doing that. Because I know that some of my podcasts, they might really seem like, “Oh, this topic is so very specific.” And yet when you get here, there’s always a nugget for you. This is what I want you to know about the podcast in general: there is always a nugget for you. And this one, I think motivation honestly is pretty universal.
And that’s why I’m viewing it through the lens of weight loss because it is January and lots of us have just set goals about something new and different that we want to do, like losing weight. But motivation – motivation can carry you through any type of goal that you have. Motivation is something that I cultivate in myself almost every day. Not every day. Some days I don’t try very hard, but some days I am very motivated to do something else, like rest, for example. Especially, I mean, with my job or my fitness goals. Resting is actually really important, and sometimes I have to be motivated to rest. Okay. Anyway, here. Let’s start off with this.
Motivation Is a Feeling
I know that sounds really obvious except for the fact that it might not seem 100% obvious. We, as a people, truly tend to think of motivation as a noun, a thing that’s out there in the world that we can either get or lose or have or not have. And that’s why I really want to be very 100% clear on what motivation is.
Motivation is not outside of you. Motivation is entirely an inside job. It is a feeling which means that it is always – every single time – created by a thought. Your thoughts create your feelings, which then drive your actions and then your actions, of course, get you results. That’s why we want motivation. When I feel motivated, I do stuff. I’m more eager to get up and exercise, or I’m more willing to count my calories or I’m happy about going to bed on time or drinking my water or managing my mindset or those things that we do in order to get whatever results that we want.
For example, feeling motivated to lose weight. And yet when we feel like we are lacking motivation, we tend to attribute that to outside forces. Oh, well, I’m really tired because of my job, or I’m feeling stressed out because of this thing going on with my family. We tend to think that motivation is outside, out there, not our own. Here’s the word you didn’t want to hear, but I’m going to say it anyway: our own responsibility. Yes, my friends, here’s what I’m going to tell you.
Being Motivated Is Your Responsibility
This is especially, especially true if you think that motivation is the key to doing the things and getting your goal. Quick note to the aside here, motivation is not the only way to get things done just so you know. For me personally, feeling motivated isn’t always my best bet. When I feel motivated, sometimes, sometimes motivation goes against me in terms of when I feel motivated – that energetic, “Woo, let’s go get it” kind of a feeling,
Sometimes it’s very unfocused for me. I’ll just start running around. I’m thinking that I feel motivated when I clean my house. And no, I don’t often clean my house because of that motivation thing. But for me, cleaning my house, truly, yes, it gets me the result of a clean house, but it’s not really getting me other places that I might want to go.
For me, motivation isn’t nearly as harnessable to move me in the right direction by doing the things that I actually want to do in the same way that another feeling like determination or maybe confidence or clarity, Clarity is a huge one for me. Those tend to be feelings that actually get things done for me. Anyway, that’s to the aside. That might be the nugget that you got today. Truly that might be the thing that you’re like, “Oh, I never thought about it that way.”
There are other feelings that can drive the actions that you want to drive in order to get the results that you want to get.
Motivation Is Not Necessarily the Only Feeling that Will Get You Where You Want to Go
And it’s not necessarily the best feeling to get you where you want to go. Keep that in mind. Anyway, let’s go ahead and continue talking about motivation because motivation is good for you. I’m not saying, “Oh, motivation is crap.” You never want to feel that. No, it’s a good feeling. It feels lovely. It does feel energetic. It does feel very open and hopeful even though if you listen to the episode about hope (Ep. 100 Hope https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/100-hope/), you’ll find out that I don’t love hope as a feeling. I don’t find hope to be motivational, interestingly. But here’s the thing. Motivation is a feeling. Motivation is your responsibility.
Motivation – the feeling comes from a thought. I know that once I’ve said that, you’re like, “Oh, well then let me go find some motivating thoughts. Let me just go download some affirmations or let me just start repeating to myself over and over, ‘You can do it, Duffy Moon.’ ” But in and of itself, those things are not helpful. Those kinds of “go try on a new thought” actions aren’t necessarily going to create motivation.
And they’re almost certainly not going to create it consistently or regularly over time because those thoughts are probably going to be new and not very practiced. And, because the thoughts that you are already having may or may not be producing motivation, simply trying on a new thought to slap on like a bandage over the old thoughts is not the most effective way to create a new feeling for yourself.
I’ve got a four step process here for how to get motivated or stay motivated, in case you already are feeling motivated, to lose weight or to do anything.
Step Number One: Find All Your Unmotivating Thoughts
I feel like the bearer of bad news today. Motivation is your responsibility. And the first thing you have to do is find all your crappy thoughts. What? Yes, truly. If you are an old listener, meaning that you have been listening for a while (longtime listener is a much nicer way of saying that) – longtime listeners have heard this advice before.
You guys, in order to make room for a new thought, you have to find the old thoughts. I was going to say, clear them out. It is a lot like cleaning out your closet, truly. After you do lose a lot of weight, you’re going to have to get rid of your old clothes and buy new ones. When you lose weight, you’re not going to fit into some things anymore. You’re going to have to clear room so that you have room for new items. Finding old thoughts is kind of like clearing out your closet.
I will tell you, it’s not nearly as concrete as clearing out your closet. Literally when you put bags of clothes out on your front step and Salvation Army comes by and pick some up for you. I don’t know if you have that where you live. Some of the places that we have do that thing where they actually drive to your house and come and pick them up. They haven’t been doing that. I don’t know if that’s a COVID thing or not, but we haven’t gotten the information about that in a while. Anyway, maybe it’s not as cool as it used to be. Because now I actually drive my giveaways over to the place where I give them away. Anyway, not related. That is a very concrete, distinct thing that you have done.
Once you had an item in your closet, now you no longer have the item in your closet. I will tell you that your thoughts, especially the ones that have been hanging around for a while, they’ve become very efficient. Your brain is not necessarily going to simply release it and never think that thought again, which is part of why we need to find them. Because just because you are not hearing the thought, doesn’t mean that it’s not in your head.
That’s what we’re going to do first: find all the thoughts in your head that feel unmotivating. And the way that we do that honestly, is to just ask yourself a question. “How do I feel or what do I think?” Either way is fine. I find – this is again totally to the aside – I find myself asking the question, “How do I feel about such and such?”
And then everything that I answer is actually a thought. But I notice that for me personally, that language tends to come very naturally. I think of myself as a “feeling first” kind of person. I tend to notice my feelings before I notice my thoughts. Even though I’m thinking all the time, I have thoughts rolling around in my head all the time and even though my thoughts are about my feelings – “Oh, I notice that I feel angry” or whatever, something like that – that’s still a thought.
I notice that “I feel angry” is a thought. I know. I just blew your mind. Anyway, I don’t necessarily hear the thought as a thought, but I do have thoughts about feelings that I’m capable of hearing if that made sense. I sometimes ask myself that question.
How do I feel about such and such? You, depending on what works better for you – what elicits the best response from your brain – might want to ask yourself, “What do I think about such and such?” I particularly like that question because it does put you in the frame of mind of hearing every thought as a thought. “What do I think about exercising? What do I think about counting my calories? What do I think about eating to my calorie target? What do I think about drinking X amount of water once you’ve calculated your water? What do I think about going to bed at the same time? What do I think about getting up at the same time? What do I think about managing my mind? What do I think about doing journaling work? What do I think about . . . and then fill in the blank.”
Your Brain Has Opinions
Truly. It doesn’t matter what you ask yourself about, your brain has opinions. You will be so surprised if this is the first time you’ve done work like this. You will be so surprised how many opinions your brain has. Constant opinions all day, every day, about everything. Your brain is supposed to judge things. That’s what it was formed for. That’s why we have a prefrontal cortex – to look for and solve problems, which means that your brain is constantly judging things.
When you ask your brain for an opinion about counting calories, your brain has an opinion. Your brain has judged counting calories and has determined that it is either good or bad, that it is either easy or hard, that it is either something that you want to do or something that you don’t want to do or something in between. Your brain has an opinion about everything. Literally every single thing, even things you’ve never heard of. And the opinion might be as simple as, “Oh, I’ve never heard of that.”
Your Brain Has Thoughts
Find them, find them. Now here’s the thing. For lots of us, the first time we do this, we’re going to sit down and we’re going to find all these unmotivating thoughts and you’re going to feel – what a surprise – unmotivated. That is the magic of your thoughts. My friend, your thoughts create your feelings. When you find unmotivating thoughts, you’re going to feel unmotivated. That is exactly what we’re doing. Exactly. You are finding all of the thoughts that are creating this feeling that is not going to drive you forward. And then you’re going to recognize that these are thoughts.
This is super important, especially when you’re sitting there like, “Oh, I don’t feel motivated to go on.” There are three more steps, love. Even though you feel unmotivated right now, even though you feel lousy, even though you are judging yourself for having judgy thoughts, even though you are looking at this list and going, “Oh my gosh, I’m never going to conquer this.”
Even though you are having thoughts about this task that feel awful, there’s another step. Remind yourself that these are thoughts. This isn’t the step. But remind yourself that these are just thoughts and that they are creating a feeling for you. Really notice that.
“Oh my gosh, when I think this thought, this is how crappy it feels. This is how lousy it feels. This is how unmotivating this feels. No wonder sometimes I can’t seem to find motivation because these thoughts are in my head.” Okay. Now what do you do?
Step Number Two: Actually Look at Every Single Thought
Every single thing that you wrote down, when you asked yourself, “What do I think about counting calories?” Or, “How do I feel about eating to my calorie target?” You’re going to look at every single sentence one by one. And you’re going to ask yourself, “Is this helpful?”
Spoiler alert: None of them are going to be helpful. Maybe not none. None was a little bit of an exaggeration, but 99% of them are going to be unhelpful. Most of the time, the reason we do this work is to find the lousy thoughts. What you’re going to find is lousy thoughts. That is completely normal, completely natural, completely okay, completely the way this process is supposed to go.
I asked you to find your lousy thoughts. Don’t be surprised when A) they feel lousy, and B) they are lousy thoughts. That was the whole point of this task. When you are labeling them helpful or unhelpful, they’re going to be unhelpful. That’s completely okay. That’s what we are doing this for. When you recognize that your automatic thoughts are unhelpful, your brain will do this magical thing. Yes, there are actually two more steps here, but truly this is the “cleaning out the closet” part. The other two steps are the “going and buying new clothes” part.
The “cleaning out the closet” part, I don’t have an analogy for this because this is not the way things work in real life. When you clean out your closet and you’ve got this pile of clothes that are on the ground that no longer fit, you’re the one who actually has to bag them up and go put them in your car. But in the case of lousy thoughts – unhelpful thoughts – your brain is going to bag them up and put them in your car. I don’t know how. I don’t know why, but I know that this is what your brain does. Your brain is smarter than me, smarter than all of us. Your brain does things automatically and naturally because it’s the way it’s supposed to work. I wish I could explain it to you, but I don’t understand the mechanism by which it works.
Here’s what happens. Your brain is constantly categorizing everything, truly everything. Every single piece of data that you take in, your brain is putting it in some kind of a category. “I need to worry about this. I don’t need to worry about this. This is familiar. This is not familiar. This is scary. This is not scary. This is funny. This is not funny.”
Your brain has more categories than I could possibly describe to you right now. And when you have consciously labeled something as unhelpful, your brain will then start automatically putting it in that unhelpful category. When your brain views something as unhelpful, unnecessary, not needing to be noticed – whatever word you want to use – dismissive, whatever that is, then your brain will put it in that category. Your brain will bag it up and put it in your car. Here’s the caveat though.
You Have to Truly Recognize and Feel that this Thought Is Unhelpful
This is the thing that I think is tricky for most of us. Simply putting a little check mark next to it and yet still feeling like that thought is true or that it applies to you or it’s important somehow, if your brain still has it categorized as important information or something that is true or believable about you – “No, I hate counting calories” – the more you have any kind of attachment or belief on it, the less your brain is going to be willing to put it into the unhelpful category and then bag it up and take it out to your car. You need to recognize your thoughts as thoughts. And what I mean by that is that they are not true. They are not factual.
And in most cases they are, again, not helpful. When you have an emotional attachment to a thought, especially when it’s phrased something like, “I don’t like,” or, “I hate,” or “I want” – those feel like descriptions of the essence of us as human beings. But “I want” is just an opinion. “I don’t like,” or “I hate” is also an opinion. And my friend, opinions can change.
This is the point in the podcast when I’m going to refer you to Episode 009 (Facts Vs. Opinions https://pahlabfitness.com/?s=facts+vs+opinions). It’s one of my favorite episodes of all time, where I explain that almost everything you’re thinking is actually an opinion, rather than a fact. Your brain is always interpreting things, which means that it’s always, again, judging, forming an opinion about everything.
Anything that you hear in your brain is very likely an opinion, meaning that it could change, that you could very easily actually think something else about that topic. Now, again, don’t fall down this rabbit hole, but when I explain it quite a bit in that episode about how you never have to change your opinion about anything. If you want to like cats, like cats. That’s the one I always come back to. Because I love cats. I have zero interest in changing my opinion about cats. However, I could, and possibly even should. I’m listening to my son who’s very allergic to our cats, go take an allergy pill so that he can live in our house over Christmas break. I could actually not like cats, and it might make my life easier because of allergies. But right now I’m not willing to do that.
I could, but I don’t have to. You don’t ever have to change your opinion about things – just so we’re clear – unless you want to. I suspect if you want to feel motivated to lose weight, then you are going to want to change your opinion about the tasks that you will do in order to lose the weight. When you are looking at your . . . not your tasks, but your thoughts. When you are looking at your thoughts and labeling them as helpful or unhelpful, really take the time here.
Recognize that this thought is a thought and that because it’s unhelpful, it is a thought that is not going to get you where you want to go. It is a thought that is literally holding you back from where you want to be. When you think about it like that – when you think about this completely optional thought that you are continuing to think over and over because your brain does that automatically – that’s not blame.
That’s me just explaining biology. Your brain thinks things over and over. It picks them up from wherever it picks them up. And then it just gets efficient at thinking them. This is not your fault. This part, not your fault. Your responsibility though is to recognize that, biologically speaking, your brain has become efficient at this thought that is stopping you from getting what you want.
Doesn’t that make it feel like it’s really time to bag that thought up and get it out of your house? Yeah.
Recognize it as unhelpful. Really take a critical eye to that thought and recognize its unhelpfulness. That is the magic that puts your brain into its happy state where it will do that thing where it’ll bag up your junk for you and put it out in your car. It might even drive it to the Goodwill.
It might offer you that thought again in a couple of weeks. “Hey, remember when we used to have this thought? Do you still want to think it? What do you think? We could.” You could still think this thought. It’s available to you and then it’s going to be up to you again to take a look at that thought and be like, “Oh no, remember brain? That’s an unhelpful thought. That’s the brain that’s stopping me from getting to where I want to go. Go ahead and bag that one up. I know you bagged it up one time before, but you didn’t take it all the way out to the car. You didn’t take it all the way to Goodwill. Let’s go ahead and take that one all the way out of the house.”
So, my friends, that is step one and step two. Find all your unmotivating thoughts, label them as helpful or unhelpful, and then the little hidden step three is let your brain do its magic. But here’s the actual step three – the practical step three that I have for you. And I don’t suggest that you do this all on the same day. Just FYI. This is not a, “Hey, you’ve got 10 minutes. Let’s go ahead and just ‘pop this out’ situation.” This is an ongoing situation.
Finding all of your unmotivating thoughts might feel like a very daunting task. Find some of them today. Find some of them tomorrow. Find some of them the day after tomorrow. You don’t need to be in any hurry here to find them all and make them all go away. You’re going to have plenty of them.
I say that with so much love. You’re going to find plenty of unhelpful thoughts in your brain, so don’t feel like you have to do this one and done. Just go ahead and find some of them today. And then we’ll find more sooner or later. Whenever you’re there for it, that’s when we’ll find more. But if you’d like to, you can do step three. Step three and step four are truly optional. And perhaps more down-the-road kind of stuff. This is where almost everybody wants to start though, which is why I’m being really clear that step three is A) optional, and B) more advanced. Step one and step two are going to get you everywhere you want to go. Step three is the thing that everybody tries to do.
Step Three: Brainstorm a Motivating Thought
Step three is this thing where we all think, “Oh my gosh, all I have to do is think I’ve got this or I’m on my way.” Or some really generic motivating-sounding thought.
We all want to do this and yet it is not super helpful. But here’s the thing. When you actually sit down and brainstorm some motivating thoughts, the first couple of them are going to be like the first pancake. They’re going to be half cooked and you’re probably going to feed them to the dog. They’re not going to be great. They’re going to be generic. They’re not going to be super motivating. They’re just going to sound good on the surface.
But then as you actually dig in and you ask yourself the question, “What do I think when I feel motivated?” Put yourself in that position where you can actually feel the motivation and then ask yourself, “What thought am I thinking right now? What thought creates a feeling of motivation in me?”
When you start brainstorming some of those, you’re going to come up with something like, “You know what? I am exceptionally good at talking off the top of my head without any notes at all, which is what I’m doing right now.” I do have some notes today, but this is something that I tell myself.
When I’m thinking an unmotivating thought like, “Oh, I have to go record a podcast,” I remind myself of my motivating thought, “I’m actually really good at this.” I’ve been told my entire life that I talk too much and I’ve turned it into a career. That to me feels very motivating. Very “Oh, that’s right, I’m good at this. Let’s go record a podcast.” As you get into the motivating feeling, you’re going to find more specific and more actually motivating thoughts. Write those down. Write those down. This is a really good list to have. That really good list of all the things that you find to be amazing and compelling about yourself and your abilities.
My friends, who doesn’t want to list like this, right? These are really good thoughts. These are gold. These are the thoughts that are going to get you where you want to go. They’re not the generic, “You can totally do this, Duffy Moon,” which I’m still going to keep saying, because somebody out there is going to remember the “You Can Do It, Duffy Moon” after-school special.
Anyway, the second part of this step though, step four, is to really decide if they’re actually motivating because here’s, again, what happens. When we sit down to create a list of motivating thoughts, we very often come up with something that just sounds good on the surface, but then when you listen to it and decide whether or not this is helpful.
Step Four: Decide if the Thoughts Are Actually Motivating
When you listen to the thoughts again, really just take a moment. How do I feel? Does this actually feel motivating? Does this feel good? Does this feel bad? Take the time to listen, because when I hear a thought like, “You’ve got this,” I have to tell you, my brain automatically responds with “No, I don’t.” 99.9% of motivational quotes actually create in me a feeling of skepticism, a feeling of, “Well, that is not how I feel about myself.” And it’s a very almost knee- jerk reaction. But this is really important to notice. When you have a quote/unquote “motivational thought” that doesn’t feel motivating, it’s not going to do what you want it to do. It is not actually doing the thing that it purports to do. Decide – this is step four.
Decide if the thoughts are actually motivating by listening to them and feeling them in your body. “Do I feel motivated when I say this or do I just want to feel motivated when I say this?” Being really, really, really honest with yourself is such an important part of mindset work. We all really just want this to be easy and really not necessarily want to fool ourselves, but just want to phone it in a little bit. “I’ll find some of the unmotivating thoughts, but I don’t want to find them all. I’ll decide if some of them are helpful, but I don’t want to decide if they’re all helpful.” It feels like a lot. Right? But that thought by the way, unhelpful. When we come up with these kinds of motivating thoughts, we just want to phone it in.
“You’ve got this” sounds like it should work. It should get me all the way to my goal. It should get me to my weight loss goal. Right? This is me pounding my fist. I don’t know if you can hear that, but, my friends, when you’re not honest with yourself and you’re just phoning it in, it’s not going to get you where you want to go. It’s just not.
And I apologize for that because it would be so nice if there was some easy, quick fix here that we could just halfway halfheartedly do. But when you come here to the Fitness Matters Podcast, you need your whole heart. You really do. You need your whole butt. You need your whole everything. You need your whole brain. You need to be involved in the process. This process requires you. It is your responsibility to pay attention, to really listen, to feel, to be curious, to be open, to notice that sometimes you feel lousy, and sometimes you feel good and recognize that it’s all you. It’s all you.
It’s All in Your Brain
Creating good feelings, bad feelings, motivation, unmotivation. It’s your responsibility to do this stuff so that you can get your goal because of course you want to get your goal. You came to this episode, okay, so of course you actually want to lose weight, but you know what? Maybe that’s something worth paying attention to too. How do you feel about that? Maybe even the thought of losing weight feels unmotivating in and of itself. Why is that? What’s the thought? What’s the thought creating that feeling for you? Find it.
Find it and decide for yourself what you want. And now you have the four step process to get there.
You guys, thank you so much for reading. It’s been fun for me. Hopefully it was fun for you too. Hopefully it was helpful for you. And you know that I want to hear from you. I’m on social media. I’m places. You can always find me. Thank you so much for being here. I will talk to you again soon.
If you’re getting a lot out of the Fitness Matters Podcast and you’re ready to take it to the next level, you are going to love the Get Your Goal Coaching and Accountability Group. We take all the theory and knowledge here on the podcast and actually apply it in real life on your real weight loss and fitness goals. It’s hands on. It’s fun. And it works. Find out more at pahlabfitness.com/get-your-goal and let’s get your goal.