If you’ve listened to The Fitness Matters podcast before, you likely know that mindset🧠 is an important part of WEIGHT LOSS. But did you know that it’s THE secret sauce🍲 to getting to a healthy weight?
In today’s episode, we’re cracking open🥚 this topic, and answering all the questions you didn’t even know you had!
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
👉 What mindset work actually IS
👉 What mindset work ISN’T
👉 The BENEFIT of thinking negatively (for reals!)
👉 How to CREATE a mindset on purpose that gets you to your goal
You have the POWER💪, my friends, to cook up the results you deserve – for weight loss or anything else in your life. And I’m excited to share the recipe with you! (You didn’t think I could take the “secret sauce” thing this far, did you?🤣🤣)
Ready to get in the kitchen? Let’s GO!
Have friends who are on a weight loss journey too? SHARE the podcast! 💛
How Does MINDSET Help With WEIGHT LOSS (Full Transcript)
You’re listening to The Fitness Matters podcast with Pahla B, and this is episode number 234, “How Does Mindset Work Help with Weight Loss?”
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.
Well, hello, hello, my good friends. How are you today? [Singing] Yes, I’m singing because it’s very early in the morning, and this is how I greet my day with a little bit of song and a little bit of laughter. I am so excited to talk to you today about how mindset work will help you with weight loss because I want to tell you the story of why this is even a topic today.
It happened the other day in the Get Your Goal group – which I have a link for in the show notes or the description box, depending on where you are watching or listening, and I mention it at the end of literally every single podcast. So there are easy ways to get to the Get Your Goal group. But I have a member who asked this question in the group, and I thought to myself, “You know what? This is a really brilliant question that I have never answered.” I have come at this work for however long I’ve been doing this podcast. If we’re at episode number 234, and I know that I started the first version of it, the Let’s Run podcast, in October of 2017. So yeah, four and a half years. And I have never directly explained how mindset work helps you lose weight or frankly do anything. I’ve given you bits and pieces, I’ve explained almost all – probably not all the parts – but I’ve explained what it feels like with almost all of the parts of it. But I’ve never actually drawn a line between A and B, and that’s what we’re going to do today.
So thank you, thank you, thank you, my dear friend who asked this question in the Get Your Goal group. Here’s where we’re going to start with this one. Let’s actually discuss what mindset work is. I’ve given you this piece of it. We discussed it at pretty great length in episode number 89 (Ep. 089 Mind Management https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/89-mind-management/) and in at least one other episode. That one was episode number 69 (Ep. 069 What is Mindset? https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/69-what-is-mindset/). So I’m going to send you over there. Again, you guys, no matter where you’re watching or listening, there are links in the show notes or the description box. The worst case scenario is that you can just come right on over to my website, pahlabfitness.com, and up in the upper righthand corner there’s a thing that says “Podcasts.” You can find them all.
Anyway, we had this conversation about what mindset is. And I’m going to go over that a little bit with you today because I think that this is . . . honestly, it was the piece that was missing for me for a long time even when I thought I was working on my mindset. I vividly remember – and you can hear verbal evidence of this when you go back and listen to some of my older podcasts – I really truly 100% felt like working on my mindset meant thinking positive thoughts, that I had to get rid of my negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts, that I basically had to find the silver lining in every situation. I had to find the good in every situation.
And yes, that’s kind of part of it. It’s sort of helpful. But there’s a piece even before that. Here’s the thing, mindset work is not simply giving yourself affirmations. You’ve almost definitely – unless this is your very first episode with me – you’ve almost definitely heard me say that affirmations don’t work, they just don’t. Simply repeating something positive to yourself over and over and over and over and over is not the way to go. In fact, I have an entire episode about that called Stop Thinking Positively (Ep. 040 Stop Thinking Positively https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/40-stop-thinking-positively/) because really it’s not helpful to think positively unless you actually believe it. And if you believed it, you wouldn’t have to work so hard at it. And simply repeating something doesn’t help you believe it. As fast as our thoughts move from place to place and ping around, you might not even notice when you say something positive to yourself and then have an immediately skeptical or negative thought after it because you’re trying so hard to think the positive thought that you’re not listening for the other thoughts that come after it.
If you have those negative thoughts afterwards, you say to yourself, “I’m beautiful and perfect in every way,” for example. If the next thing you think is, “Oh my God. No, I’m not,” that’s the thought that you are also repeating. Therefore, your thoughts on purpose aren’t going to help you. So mindset work is also not simply ignoring painful thoughts. I was putting gas in my car, and I don’t know where you live and how much gas costs. But around here in California, it is really expensive. We are up to over $6 a gallon right now. I was putting gas in my car, and somebody said to me, “Oh, just don’t look.” And I thought to myself, “That’s not a good strategy. That’s not helpful for managing your mindset.” Yes, it takes away the point in which you see the number. (By the way, when I filled up my minivan, it was well over $100.)
I didn’t want to look, frankly, but also not looking doesn’t mean that a circumstance doesn’t exist. Simply trying to ignore a circumstance in order to ignore the thoughts that you have about it isn’t helpful. I still knew it was going to be expensive. I had guesses as to how much it was going to cost to fill up my car. Not looking at that number did not eradicate those thoughts. And in fact, in some instances could make those thoughts more persistent because my brain would be trying to guess. It would be trying to close the loop of curiosity by wondering, “How much did that cost me?” So simply ignoring your painful thoughts is not what we do around here with mindset work. And it’s definitely, absolutely not just thinking positively all the time.
That feels like the goal, right? Like, “Oh, if I’m managing my mind, I’m only ever thinking positive thoughts.” Totally not true and surprisingly unhelpful. You guys, you actually want to be thinking whatever it is you’re thinking. Don’t let judgment of your thoughts be a bigger problem than it needs to be. In fact, we’re going to get to that in a minute. But recognize that your brain is allowed and capable and – dare I say it – should think both positive thoughts and negative thoughts. Here’s why. If we didn’t ever think negative thoughts, we wouldn’t know what positive was. The only way we know what things are is because of the contrast or the comparison to other things. Positive thoughts – if it was all you were ever thinking – would sound neutral. They would sound like nothing, they would be no big deal. They wouldn’t feel good because you wouldn’t know what the opposite was.
You actually want to be thinking both positively and negatively and everything in between. You want the full human experience of thinking and feeling everything, all of it. So what is mindset work? What is the goal of mindset work, and how do we do it? Well, what mindset work is is basically not being afraid of anything in your mind and not judging anything in your mind. The crux of mindset work is discovering and utilizing on purpose your compassionate observer. It’s understanding that every single thing in your head is a thought. I have an entire episode about this called “What is a Thought?” (Ep. 084 What is a Thought? https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/84-what-is-a-thought/). And – spoiler alert – what I say to you for approximately 15 minutes is: every single thing you think is a thought, all of it, everything.
You think you’re thinking in facts. You can find evidence that what you’re thinking to yourself is true, but every single thing you think is a thought. Be aware of that and just be completely compassionate with the fact that this is how your brain works, and therefore it doesn’t require judgment that you have negative thoughts about yourself. It doesn’t require you to get down on yourself that you’re getting down on yourself. It doesn’t require you to be upset that you have the thoughts you have that are slowing you down from getting your goal, that are stopping you from losing weight, that are a problem, if you want to call it that. They’re actually not a problem; they’re just thoughts. So the crux of mindset work is using your compassionate observer. And then the practical aspect of that is journaling. Every single day, we get out a pen and a piece of paper or a keyboard and a mouse and a computer or something that gets those thoughts out of our head and onto whatever medium you want to use.
I prefer pen and paper personally just because for me, the writing of it, the physical writing, does something that feels like it is not part of me anymore. It feels like I am literally spilling it out of my body through the ink in the pen. So the practical aspect of it is to journal every single day to actually find your thoughts. Anything that comes out of the pen – again, anything in your head – is a thought. And then you decide if that thought is helpful for moving you forward towards your goal. We have an entire episode out about this called mind management where I really explain this with a two-step tool. You find your thoughts and you decide if they’re helpful. (Ep. 089 Mind Management https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/89-mind-management/).
The other thing that we do with mindset work is really recognize how our thoughts are creating our reality. Check out episode 32 about how to change (Ep. 032 How to Change https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/32-how-to-change/). It really explains how this works where you have a thought (in fact, we have 60,000 of them a day), but you have a thought, and that thought creates a feeling. That feeling drives certain actions, every time. My friends, if you learn nothing from this episode, please learn this: that the reason we do anything ever is because of a feeling, always. We are either moving away from a painful feeling or towards a pleasurable feeling every single time. Everything you do – getting up out of bed, brushing your teeth, going to work, everything. Even the things that you’re like, “No, I just do that.” Every single thing you do is because of a feeling. And your feelings are created by your thoughts. They’re not created by circumstances; they’re not created by forces outside of you. Every single feeling you have is because of a thought.
Knowing that on a deep, deep, deep level will help you understand how to create actions on purpose. It will also help you do this next thing that is a really significant part of mindset work. What we do with mindset work is we feel all of our feelings. Now, I know you think you feel most of them right now. Trust me, I thought I did too until I started doing this on purpose. You don’t realize until you start doing this work on purpose how many of your feelings you are desperately trying to ignore or avoid. And I don’t mean that as any kind of a dig on you. I am talking about my own personal experience. I 100% thought I was feeling my feelings, I really did.
I’ve always been the kind of person who feels a lot, I cry a lot. I really thought, “Oh, this part of the work is easy.” No, it’s not. Let me tell you how often I still have to remind myself to simply sit down and feel a feeling that is very uncomfortable. Even some of the small ones. You don’t really think about how boredom drives you to pick up your phone or pick up a magazine or go for a walk or maybe start cleaning your house. I rarely do that when I’m bored. I mostly clean my house when I’m trying to avoid something a little bit stickier like grief or anger or something like that. But when you allow yourself to feel your feelings instead of trying to escape your feelings, you will recognize how powerful they are, how much they have been driving a lot of your “things I don’t want to be doing” behaviors. Unless you’re cleaning your house; you probably do want to do that.
But here’s the thing, when you feel all of your feelings, when you allow them to just come up and you feel them and they dissipate, you’ll be able to do anything. We talk about how uncomfortable it is or how much we don’t like to, for example, count our calories or drink our water. We think, “Oh, this is such an inconvenience. This feels so annoying that I have to pee all the time, for example, when I’m drinking my right amount of water.” When you’re not afraid to allow that feeling of annoyance, you won’t not drink water. I know that was a double negative, so let me tell it to you this way. When you’re not afraid to be annoyed, you will drink the right amount of water. It’s crazy, right?
You don’t think about how much we avoid even minor uncomfortable feelings until you start allowing yourself to just feel them when they come up. Something else that mindset work is – and we already kind of talked about this – but it’s really being compassionate with yourself, with your circumstances, with your thoughts, with your feelings, with your actions. It’s coming to yourself where you are right now and being like, “You know what, let me just see what’s going on here. Let me be completely okay with whatever I’m doing or not doing. Let me take a look at my life and be aware of myself without any judgment.” Once again, I will say to you, this is harder than you think. We are so used to judging ourselves. And we judge ourselves because we’re supposed to. Your brain is supposed to judge things. Your brain is always, always, always, always, always looking for a problem so that it can solve the problem.
Sometimes you are the problem that it thinks it needs to solve. So pulling back that layer of judgment and just being like, “Here I am, this is me, this is what’s going on. This is what I think, this is what I feel, this is what I’m doing.” And recognize that you’re going to have judgey thoughts about that, and be completely compassionate with the judgey thoughts also. That compassion, I’m going to call it distance because it’s not that you’re dispassionate, you are compassionate. But also you’re not so deeply entrenched in thinking that you need to change. You’re just okay with who you are and where you are and what’s going on with you.
The other thing that we do (and this is the part that I think almost all of us try and do right from the get-go) is – well, it’s not wrong but also it’s not helpful right away in mindset work – creating your future on purpose with intention. And yes, what I mean by that is that you are deciding on a goal and then you are thinking thoughts that will help you get to that goal on purpose. Now, here’s why this is not an affirmation. It’s because you have already done the work of hearing what you’re already thinking. Simply trying to think new thoughts and do new things on purpose isn’t going to get you very much traction if you have not already been really open to seeing what’s going on with you now. The “doing things on purpose,” “thinking things on purpose,” “feeling things on purpose,” honestly, it’s the last step of mindset work.
Digging up all the crap first is the thing that’s going to help you do the intentional work. It’s like you’re clearing space for it. So honestly, I think we all come to mindset work like, “I want to feel better,” and because we’re naturally impatient, we want to feel better right now. So we try to think happy thoughts. We try to ignore the negative thoughts. We try to move directly to thinking more positively. But I will tell you, this work, rather than being a linear trajectory straight up, it’s almost like a check mark. You have to dig down and feel worse first before you can start to climb back up and feel better. And like a check mark, you’ll actually feel better than you ever have before because of your willingness to briefly and temporarily feel bad first.
And I say “briefly.” For some of us, this work lasts a little while. I’ve been working on mindset work for, I’m going to say six years at this point. And there are still times when I feel a little bit worse. I’ve described this like a straight check mark. Like all things in life, weight loss included, there will be zigs and zags; there will be ups and downs. But overall, I do truly feel that I feel better more often than I ever used to before. So, okay, let me connect some dots. How exactly does this help me lose weight really specifically? From the practical aspect, journaling every single day helps you uncover the unhelpful thoughts that are slowing you down. You have lots of them. This is not a dig at you; everybody does. If you didn’t, you would already be at your goal weight. You would already have moved on to something else.
Lots of us have gotten some goal in our life and had almost no trouble with it at all. We got to a certain point where we’re like, “Oh, okay, this was super easy.” You didn’t need to uncover the unhelpful thoughts because you didn’t have very many of them. But then when you notice, “Okay, this work is getting tricky. I’m having a hard time. I feel like I’m stuck. I feel like I’ve slowed down.” For some of us, that’s literally day one of weight loss, as if we’re thinking that everything about this is hard. For some of us, we get 10 pounds in and then all of a sudden it’s harder. For some of us, we get all the way to the finish line and it’s no big deal and then we pick up another goal. And then that other goal is, like, “Oh my gosh. I cannot get past page one,” for example. Don’t mind me talking about writing.
When you recognize that you have a goal that you really want that you feel compelled to get for yourself and you are having trouble with it, that’s when you need to find your unhelpful thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had trouble up until now. The point when you noticed that you were having trouble is the point when it’s time to uncover your thoughts. And that’s how we do it with journaling. The other thing: feeling your feelings. My friends, I cannot emphasize this enough. It is a game changer. Again, you’re going to feel worse first. When you recognize how often you’ve been avoiding your feelings or ignoring your feelings or eating your feelings or going for a walk instead of feeling your feelings – when you recognize how many of your feelings you have been putting off for later or feeling partially, it’s such a game changer.
It is the thing that changed everything for me, and I really feel like it is the thing that’s going to change things for you. And the reason I was able to do it is because of the journaling, I’m going to come back to that again – the journaling. I was able to find the thoughts that were creating those really painful feelings and then being brave enough and compassionate enough with myself to just feel them no matter how lousy they felt. It has changed everything. It has changed my willingness to do things. I’m willing to feel annoyed so that I can do the thing of drinking my water. I’m willing to feel frankly stupid, which I know isn’t a feeling, but it’s a thought that I tell myself all the time, “I’m too stupid for this.” I’m willing to feel stupid, that emotion whatever it is, probably ashamed honestly. But I’m willing to feel that when I don’t know what to do next. I’m willing to feel all of my feelings so that I can do all of the things to get the goal of weight loss. I’m willing to feel everything.
When you feel your feelings, you will do the things. Being compassionate also really helps you be aware of where you are right now. I will tell you as a fitness and weight loss coach, one of the sentences that I hear all the time from clients is, “It’s not that bad.” It sounds nice on the surface. “It’s not that bad. My weight isn’t that bad. I’m doing okay, kind of hitting my calories. It’s not that bad, I’m mostly sleeping.” That thing that we say when we’re trying to feel better is not helpful and it’s not as compassionate as you think. When you are being truly compassionate, you can see, “Hey, you know what? I’m not hitting my calories.” “Hey, you know what? I’m not going to bed on time.” “Hey, you know what? I’m thinking these really unhelpful thoughts about myself and my lot in life and my abilities, and they’re not getting me where I want to go.”
Being compassionate takes away all of your layers of judgment and understands that’s just a thought too. Judgey thoughts are still just thoughts; they’re not the truth. When you can come at everything that you are thinking and feeling and doing with compassion, it will open your eyes to the fact that there are other options, there are other ways, there are more efficient ways to do what you need to do in order to lose weight. And obviously – maybe not obviously. This is why I’m telling you. I apologize. Some things sound more obvious to me. But if they were obvious, you’d already be doing them. So let me not say “obviously.”
Another thing that we do that helps you lose weight is creating your future with intention. It really builds trust with yourself. When you say, “I am losing weight,” and you feel the feelings and you do the things, you will create more evidence for your brain to notice, “Hey, I am losing weight.” Oh my gosh. No matter what the scale says on any given day, knowing that you are doing the things; knowing that you are compassionate with yourself; knowing that you are aware of what you are thinking, what you are feeling, and what you are doing; knowing that you are capable of feeling any feeling no matter how uncomfortable – it is building trust for yourself to stick with this work as long as it takes until you get the weight that you want. The end. You know that you’re going to get there, and all you have to do is keep moving forward.
Now, here’s the thing. I know lots of you are like, “Okay, Pahla, but what about calories?” I tell you all the time, calories are the main driver. And yes, it’s true that calories are the main driver of weight loss. And simultaneously, if you are thinking nothing but unhelpful thoughts about your ability to eat the right number of calories, about your ability to judge the right number of calories, about whether or not you can actually count calories, about whether or not that’s too much food or too little food, about all of your thoughts about eating the right number of calories – those things go hand-in-hand. You will not be capable of eating the right number of calories if you are inundated with unhelpful thoughts about them.
Simply doing the things, you might be capable of doing all the things without doing mindset work. And this is what I’m going to tell you about where you are and when you actually need the mindset work to get you all the way to your goal. For me personally, I basically never had to do any mindset work at all when I was losing weight a long time ago – when I lost weight 15, 16 years ago, whatever that was. I was very capable of thinking automatic thoughts that created feelings that drove the actions that got me to my weight loss goal. You are capable of getting all the way to your weight loss goal without doing mindset work. The reason you might need to do mindset work is when you aren’t capable of getting to your goal. When you are thinking, “This isn’t working. I don’t know what to do next. This is tough. I’ve been stuck for months at this weight. I don’t know what to do next.” Those are all thoughts.
You think you’re describing what’s going on, but they are thoughts and they need to be managed. Meaning that they need to be noticed, they need to be looked at with compassion, they need to be understood. And at some point, they need to be felt through, depending on exactly what the feelings are associated with. And they need to be gently redirected in favor of the intentional thought, “I am losing weight, and this is happening,” or something like that. That doesn’t have to be your intentional thought, you guys. You are the one who knows exactly what thought is going to get you where you want to go. And when you hear it, it will give you what I call the full body zing. It’ll be like, “Oh my gosh, this thought is so compelling. It feels so good. It is so amazing. I believe it 100% that I am capable, that I can do this, that this is happening.” That will be the thought that moves you forward. But you probably won’t find that thought until you’ve dug through all the other junk.
Thank you so much to the person – you know who you are – who asked me this question. I really hope for you personally and for everybody listening that this really helped you put some pieces together to understand. And not just for weight loss. Truly, this is the process for everything you want. This is how mindset work gets you to any goal. It digs up your junk and makes way for intentional thoughts and feelings and actions that take you to where you want to go. Thank you so much for listening, you guys. I’ll 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.