Ep. 294: The Three Stages of Weight Loss

Ready to change your mind about weight loss? Grab The 5-0 Method to lose all the weight you want and keep it off forever.

Every weight loss journey is unique, but you will also inevitably come across three universal “pit stops” along your way. On this episode of the Get Your GOAL podcast, we’re chatting about the three stages of weight loss, so you can navigate the road with ease.

When you set out to achieve a weight loss goal, it can feel like you’re traveling alone and you might even wonder if you’re the only one who feels confused or overwhelmed or stuck.

But you’re definitely not alone.

Over the years of working with thousands of women losing weight, I’ve identified three distinct stages of the weight loss journey that everybody goes through: the first five pounds, which are swirling with indecision; the “messy middle,” which challenges your patience and fortitude; and the last five pounds, where so many women are tempted to quit right before they reach the finish line.

When you know what to expect along the way, this weight loss journey won’t feel so treacherous – embrace your journey, celebrate your milestones, and bask in the certainty of your inevitable success. Join me for this week’s episode, and let’s go!


Well, hello, hello, GOALfriend. Welcome to episode number 294, the one where we are talking about the three stages of weight loss. Just even before we get into it, because I always have a before-we-get-into-it every single time I start a podcast and I talk about "the one where..." do you have Friends flashbacks also? Do you know that every single one of their episodes, I think... Now that I'm offering you this trivia, I'm like, "I don't actually know if this is true." But I feel like every one of their episodes for the entire 10-year run was "the one where..." and then they had some other explanatory thing. I think about it every single time I start the podcast. I should really come up with some other way to start it so that I'm not completely distracted before we even get started, except for the fact that... You know what? It's completely okay to be a little distracted because we always end up getting around to where I want to go and where you want to go. I think it's fun to have a moment or so at the top of the podcast where we talk about maybe some more personal things because the other thing that I was thinking about telling you about... because it's been a while since we've had a catch-up. It feels like it's been a while. It hasn't. But it just feels like it in my brain. Had a very busy week. I've been doing a lot of creative work, which I'm actually going to tell you about in the meat of the podcast. The thing that we're talking about today, the three stages of weight loss is based on a lot of this work that I've been doing. I'm creating a full course for the Get Your Goal group that is going to, in my mind, revolutionize the way that I've been running the Get Your Goal Group, that it's really going to be helpful for all kinds of people at all kinds of stages of weight loss because, historically, I feel like my zone of genius is really in the middle stages. That's where I love to coach. It's where it really feels like there's a lot we can dig into. When you already have a base level of self-awareness... And I really feel like this is where the podcast is so much of the time. I've noticed my own gap in not always addressing where you might be when you first come to weight loss, how hard that is, and how difficult it is to overcome the inertia. I've really been spending a lot of time... And we're going to talk about it a fair bit today. But I've really been spending a lot of time on how can I best serve all of the people who need help losing weight, all of my ladies of a certain age at the particular stage where you are because the stages are so different. Anyways, I've been doing a lot of mental load work this week, a lot of writing, a lot of thinking, a lot of outlining and turning things over and theorizing and figuring and making things super clear in my mind so that I can explain them super clearly to you. Even though it actually has not been that long since the last time I recorded a podcast, it's been a really long week for me. But the other thing that I was going to tell you about recording the podcast... This year, 2023, I have on my vision board a podcast recording studio. This has been a thing that I have been thinking about for a while. I've had various iterations of where I record the podcast. I mean, a long, long time ago, when I first created a secondary YouTube channel, it was called The Buzz. It still exists. They're not good. I mean, if you want to go watch Baby Pahla or Baby Coach Pahla first trying to talk about mindset a little tiny bit, very, very tentatively, go watch those videos. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. They're almost 10 years old at this point. Eight years ago, I think, is when I had the Buzz Channel. Super interesting. Then, from there, it morphed into the Let's Run podcast on my main Pahla B Fitness, which is now Pahla B Weight Loss Life Coach for Women over 50. But for a while, it was called Pahla B Fitness. That channel then took on this podcast, which, at the beginning, was called the Let's Run podcast. I was recording in my living room, where I recorded all of the videos. Then, when it became the Fitness Matters podcast, I started recording in my closet, which didn't last for very long. I didn't love recording in there. It wasn't very comfortable. I was basically standing and pacing the entire time, which wasn't as fun as it sounds or was exactly the amount of fun that it does not sound like. Then, for a long time, I was just recording in my family room, sitting on my comfy couch early in the morning. That would still be my druthers if I had them. But since both of my kids have come back home, they're both figuring out where they're going to go next. My oldest is just finishing up paramedic school and is applying for firefighter jobs right now. He knows he's going to be in some firefighter academy here within... I don't know, hopefully within the next six months or so. He's home so that his mama can take care of him while he's going through all of that. I mean, he quite literally, just last week, worked well over a hundred hours, and all of it was volunteer because you have to put in so many hours for your paramedic license. He's got a lot going on. He's home in order for me to help take care of him while he's doing that, not trying to run his own household. Then, my youngest just graduated from college and, is so often the case these days and ever, had a plan that is still coalescing. He is really, really close to being completely figured out where he wants to go next. But he's still swirling. He wouldn't use those words. This is actually how I think of my creative process. I have great ideas. I'm madly in love with them, but I don't know exactly how I'm going to execute on them. I have to let my brain figure it out. It feels like swirling. It feels like confusion. It looks very frequently like me doing nothing or staring off into space, which is what my youngest son has looked like for a while now. But he is definitely coalescing right now. I can see it coming. He's talking in a few more specifics. He's really starting to do some research on where he wants to go and what he wants to do. He's probably within the next six months going to be off and running as well. Anyways, with both of them home, they're young men. Well, they could absolutely live through me recording my podcast at 4:00 in the morning sitting on my couch. I do not want them waking up and walking out and ruining my podcasting experience because I would really rather just have a little bit of peace and quiet while I'm recording the podcast. Anyways, lately, I've been recording the podcast in my car. I come out to the garage. I sit in my minivan. I record the podcast. I keep laughing to myself. Really specifically, today, I was laughing to myself about be-careful-what-you-wish-for. I wanted a podcast recording studio, and here it is in my garage. But sometime... maybe not this year, maybe this year, maybe not, we'll see. I feel like I have bigger fish to fry for 2023. 2023's vision board has been really interesting. That is definitely not what we're talking about today. But it's very interesting to me the things that are getting executed on and the things that are still swirling because I feel like when I put something on my vision board that I'm ready to coalesce. I'm ready to go. But my brain still has to go through its own shenanigans to get there. This is part of what I'm going to offer you today. You can take that as the lesson within the lesson that your process really is the process, that sometimes it feels like it's not moving as fast as you would like. Sometimes it feels like you should be somewhere else or you should be more clear on what to do next. Yet, it doesn't mean you're not getting there. I have zero doubts in my mind that both of my kids are going to land on their feet, doing things that they love, and possibly, at some point, change their minds about that because they can. It will look like this swirling and then coalescing process again as we all go through. My process really is the best process for me, and I have, over the past two or three years, really just let go of so much of the judgment and shame around that, that, no, I just don't move as fast as other people. I don't execute as quickly as some other business owners do. I really, really have learned to love and honor my process. One of the things that I would love to offer you is to learn how to love and honor not just your process but also your body in the process because your body is part of the process of losing weight. Hey, let's get into the actual podcast now that we're 10 minutes in. Let's talk about the three stages of weight loss because there really are three very distinctly different stages of weight loss. It took me a while to figure this out, but as soon as I did, it was like, "Oh, this makes so much more sense as to why certain strategies and certain mindset shifts that I offer really land with some people and really don't land with others." It's not because of the people or the mindset keys that I'm talking about. It really is about where you are and what you are ready for right now. Here are the three stages. Number one is the first five pounds. Number two is the messy middle, where you're losing as many of the five poundses as you want to. I know that's not a word. Just go with me. Then, the third stage is the last five pounds, which is very distinctly different from the other two stages. Let me just go ahead and go in order. Even if you're already on the last five pounds, I promise there is something for you here at all of the stages that I'm going to discuss because it's not like you leave one of the stages. It's like you're actually in all three stages in various times. It's just that you have something very specific that you have to work on in one stage before you can move to the next. In the first stage, the first five pounds, hands down, your predominant emotions are going to be confusion and overwhelm. They just are. It's completely okay. Some people do, in fact, get through it very quickly. Good for them. If it's not you, it's completely okay. One of my main goals with this podcast is just to really normalize there are definitely parts that feel easier. There's no indicator of your success or failure because of how hard any of these parts are. But all of them can feel hard, and it's completely okay if they do because this is just biology at work. My friend, confusion and overwhelm is your brain's natural defense against doing something new. The other one that you might feel is a lot of worry and/or fear about the future/fear what will come next. I don't always talk about the worry or the fear when I'm talking about weight loss because, generally speaking, when you are consumed with the worry and the fear, it's even before you start on a weight loss program. I often don't hear from people. They definitely don't usually make their way into my program when they've got a lot of that worry and fear. A lot of that worry and fear... It either stops you or you work through it on your way to confusion and overwhelm, by the way, before I tend to see you and have you in my universe enough to be helpful. Having said that, it might simply be that the people who are feeling a lot of the fear and worry don't speak up as much. Maybe I'm just not as aware of you and my audience, in which case I promise I'm talking to you too. This thing that your brain does is its natural state of being when you try to do something new. This is exactly how biology is supposed to work, my friend. You have a biological imperative, first of all, to stay alive and, second of all, to stay the same as much as possible in your quest to stay alive. Your brain wants to stay the same because it's very efficient. You use less energy by doing the same things over and over and over and over again than you do when you do something new. It's why doing something new, I mean, emotionally, feels so difficult and physically... I'm thinking about the first time you exercise. It feels hard. Your body is supposed to behave like that because it wants to stay the same as much as possible. Here's the thing, though. Here's your get-out-of-jail-free card. Your body also has the biological imperative. It has to change when necessary. If you can, I'm going to say, ride out the waves of confusion and overwhelm and or worry or fear, your brain and your body will adapt. They will. It's not because of time or it's not because of simply going through the motions. When you intentionally look at your confusion and your overwhelm and you sit with yourself gently, kindly... "It's completely okay that I feel this way. Going to keep moving forward through it." There are lots of different emotions that might move you through your confusion and overwhelm and help you... I'm going to say overcome. I don't love that word, but it's the one that's coming to me now. It's out there. It's in the universe. There you go. You're going to overcome confusion and overwhelm or override or simply just walk next to your confusion and overwhelm with some other emotion that actually fuels your forward motion. Confusion and overwhelm fuel nothing but spinning around and staying the same. But there's going to be some other emotion: determination, maybe motivation, maybe some version of self-love. Something that feels good is what's going to get you out of the confusion and overwhelm or simply walk alongside the confusion and overwhelm. The one that I'm going to offer you here today is a strategy that will help you... Well, you'll be able to do this thing if you feel this way. Doing this thing will also help you continue to feel this way. I'm going to tell you that the best way to move forward through confusion and overwhelm is to make some decisions. When you think to yourself, "I'm capable of making decisions," and then you feel capable of making decisions, and then you make a decision, it helps you also then come back around to feeling decisive. Decisive, to me, is one of the best forward momentum feelings in the world. Decisive for me... It closes a door. "I don't need to be confused and overwhelmed because I've decided that this is the way I'm moving forward. I've decided on my calories. I've decided on this exercise program. I've decided that this is how much water I'm going to drink. I've decided that this is my bedtime, and this is my waking time. I've decided that this is when I'm going to journal, and this is how I'm going to journal. I'm going to journal this many days a week." When you make decisions, your brain can move forward. Yes, confusion and overwhelm might come along for the ride, too, but making decisions is the strategy that can help you get through that first five pounds. It can help you overcome the inertia of not knowing and not knowing what's going to come next and not knowing how and wondering what to do and how to do it. When you make a decision, even if... And let me lay this out for you. Even if it turns out not to be, let's say, an amazing decision... I don't want to tell you it's wrong. Everything you do is always right. It's still leading you ultimately to your goal weight, even if it doesn't look like it at first, even if the decisions you make at first actually create weight gain or no losses or not a lot of forward momentum. When you start making decisions and simply decide to move forward, no matter how much confusion and overwhelm you have, that is still your pass to your goal. Everything you do is right because of that, even if it doesn't, in the moment, feel like it's getting you the results that you want. That actually really is a great segue into the next phase of weight loss. The next phase, the middle, where you're losing all of the five poundses is marked by, oh my gosh, feelings like compare and despair. Oh my gosh. I have to tell you, even saying those words out loud reminds me of years, years of watching other YouTubers who seemed like they had it all figured out, of looking at where I thought I should be with my career, with looking at where I wanted to be and thinking that I was never going to get there. The compare and despair and the shame and blame that you feel here in the middle fives, all of the five poundses... Oh my gosh. It still clenches my gut a little bit, you guys. I have so much sympathy, empathy, everything for this part. I think this is why I feel like this is my zone of genius for coaching here. This is where I really love to dive into it is because I spent so much time here myself, not necessarily with weight loss, although, I mean, I did spend a lot of time here in weight loss, too, but I really much more closely related to my business trajectory. I just feel like this is the heart of it for so many of us. This is where a lot of us get stuck. It's where a lot of us feel like we spend so much of our time just roiling around in the, "Yes, I'm moving forward. I really do have the strategy and the plan... maybe not locked down. But I've got to figure it out. I know what you have to do to build a business." You know what you have to do to lose weight. You do the five things. You have a plan. You're not overwhelmed by trying to figure out the plan. But you are still just in the thick of it with judgment, with really blaming yourself for where you are or how long it's taking, or why it feels so bad or why it's not moving faster. There's just so much yuck to be felt through here. What I will offer you is that the strategy that keeps you moving forward and, honestly, will move you forward not just through this goal but to every single goal you want is accepting yourself and your process. This is where we started the podcast. This is why I actually told you the whole story of my kids and my podcasting studio in my car. When you can let go of judgment of how long it's taking you, how you're getting it done, why you've got to do things your own way, why you personally have to keep reinventing the wheel, all of the junk that you slather on top of yourself, that's what's slowing you down through here. The more you can just peel off the judgment... "This is who I am. This is how I work. This is where my body is. This is what menopause is like. This is how I come to these five tasks. These might not be the most efficient ways of doing things. This might not be the best or the fastest route to my weight loss goal, but this really honors who I am. This really honors how my brain works. This honors how my body works. This honors everything about me that I used to want to change. Now, I want to simply love." When you can put down the blame, the shame, the judgment, the compare, the despair... Think about how heavy all of those feelings feel when you can just lay them down. By lay them down, I actually mean feel through them. That's the strategy here. Feel through the shame. Feel through the judgment. Feel through all the comparison, all the terrible things you are telling yourself about how awful it is to be you. Simply be like, "Yeah, you know what? This is who I am. I'm awkward. I'm loud. Sometimes I say the wrong thing. Sometimes my podcasts are rambly. Sometimes I am not moving through my goal as fast as I could be. Also, I love that about myself. It doesn't mean I'm not getting there. In fact, it means I am." The more you and I... the more you love yourself for being exactly who you are, ironically, the faster you will get where you want to go. The work here in the middle fives is accepting yourself. You would totally think, "Oh, well. Then, once I accept myself, once I'm all good and it all feels good, then, obviously, I will just sail right through to maintenance." My friend, there is something waiting for you. There is one more thing waiting for you in the last five pounds. This is actually why everybody... I mean, everybody that's been "heavy" says that the last five pounds are the hardest. They're not. Mechanically, there's nothing different about losing the last five pounds than losing the first five pounds or losing any of the five pounds in between. You eat in a slight caloric deficit. You manage your mind. You exercise moderately. You drink your water. You go to sleep. You do the things. Nothing about the mechanics of weight loss has changed. But here's the hard part. For so, so, so many of us... Impatience. If I had a dollar for every person who said to me, "It just feels like I'm never going to get there, Pahla. I'm just really impatient to get done with this," I would have no financial goals. I would've long since met them because this is something I hear on the daily. "I'm just so impatient to get there." Now, to be fair, you might have been impatient the whole time, as we talked about at the beginning of this conversation. Just because you're here in the last five pounds doesn't mean that you are not going to feel confusion and overwhelmed. It does not mean that you are not going to be comparing and despairing or shaming and blaming. It doesn't mean that you are done with those things necessarily unless you are. If you are, thank goodness because it means that you've really learned those lessons. Good for you. But also it means that this is the lesson that you can't move past until you've learned. I, personally, think that impatience to get there is one of the most important things and, therefore, for most of us, the last thing that you end up learning in order to get your goal. Now, I want to stop here just really quickly because I wanted to make a point about how impatience shows up verbally and/or in your head. What I hear you say, what lots of us say is, "Oh my god. I'm never going to get there." What I know to be true as a life coach who teaches you this thing all the time is that your brain works in a way in which it creates evidence for and produces exactly... and, in this case, literally exactly. Sometimes it's a little bit more figurative and a little bit more metaphorical. But in this case, literally exactly what you are saying to yourself. Your brain creates what it already thinks. When you say, "I'm never going to get there," you create that for yourself. It's why the last five pounds can take "forever" because you are saying that. Now, here's what happens. Lots of people will just jump ship. They will just run off and be like, "Ugh, I got so tired of waiting for the last five pounds. I just moved on to the body shaping series," or, "Ugh, You know what? Maybe this is never going to happen. I'm just done. I'm done here." Getting impatient has a lesson to teach you. Here's what it is. The lesson you need to learn/the strategy you need to employ is completing your transformation. I was going to say literally, but it's not literally, figuratively closing the book on losing weight. I mean, really acknowledging all of the weight loss thoughts you have in your brain. You have, if you are anything like me, spent the last 40-plus years thinking of your weight as a problem. When you are done losing weight, you don't get to think of your weight as a problem anymore. You don't get to think of your body as a problem anymore. You have to... And yes, I'm saying it that way on purpose. You have to look in the mirror and love yourself. You have to look in the mirror and say nice things. You have to look at the number on the scale and like it. You have to eat foods in portions that make sense for maintaining your weight for the rest of your life. You are responsible for not being on a diet anymore. You get to/have to purge all of that diet thinking out of your brain. Now, my friend, if you did not just panic thinking about that, let me congratulate you because you've done the work on completing the transformation. You don't get to hide behind being on a diet anymore. You don't get to hide behind restriction. You don't get to hide behind my weight is a problem. You don't get to hide. You are a person who has gotten a goal. You are a person who can maintain this weight forever. You are a person who has a fabulous body. You are a person who is really proud of your accomplishments, proud of your body, wears clothes that look good. You are a person who is confident. You're feeling sick to your stomach yet? I know this is why a lot of people don't lose the last five pounds. This is a whole different way of thinking about yourself. Your brain wants to reject all of that. In fact, some of you just plunged directly back into the confusion and overwhelm again. I know because this is actually the hidden not-so-secret fourth stage of weight loss. It's maintenance. My friend, for the rest of your life, you get to think something completely different about yourself. You are a person who's gotten a goal. When you close that door, when you finish up with the impatience and you complete the transformation, you literally get to be different. You get to think different things about yourself. This is the thing about maintenance that I think a lot of us are unprepared for. This is the thing that I was unprepared for. I really thought... which, by the way, stage three, the last five pounds is holding space for the impatience while you complete the transformation, while you really just put to bed all of those thoughts about your weight, about being on a diet, about restriction, about being not good enough, about being a person who can't finish things. All of that just gets laid to rest. You get to close the book. That is your work in the last five pounds. Then, in maintenance, when you don't have the thrill of looking for a new number on the scale, when you don't have the validation of the scale showing you that you've been eating right other than it stays the same number, when you don't have all that excitement of losing weight anymore, you will be plunged right back into the confusion and overwhelm. You will be starting a new goal. Maintenance is a different goal. It does not just come with a free pass to lifelong confidence. You get to work for that. You get to do things like make decisions. "How am I going to maintain? What am I going to do?" You get to figure out the compare and the despair of, "Oh, other people really seem like they have other more exciting goals. I'm just over here maintaining and twiddling my thumbs," or the shame and blame of, "Well, this was the weight that I want to maintain, and other people got lower. Other people did other things." You get to close the book on your maintenance. This is just who you are. There will be a time when your maintenance doesn't feel like it's taking up a lot of mental space in your brain. It's just who you are. My friends, I know that made it sound like maybe losing weight was not getting licked by kittens, which is also, by the way, a Friends' reference. Let's just bring it on back around. Do you remember the one... I think it was in probably season two maybe. Remember Phoebe and Rachel get tattoos? Phoebe ends up chickening out even though she was the one who talked Rachel into it. Phoebe said to Rachel, "Did you know that it hurt? They do that with needles. Rachel says, "Really? Because mine was licked on by kittens." I thought that was one of the funniest things ever. I was young and impressionable. I have been saying that for now... Oh, don't make me do math. Was that 30 years ago? It was. I've been saying that things were not being licked by kittens for 30 years. I should probably find a better reference. But you know what? Not today. My friend, losing weight is not always getting licked by kittens. Sometimes it is. There will be parts of it that feel amazing, that feel thrilling, that feel like you have accomplished something you have never accomplished before. You get to be proud of that and stand up and really see yourself in a different way. It is worth it, even though sometimes on this podcast... And by sometimes, I mean, very frequently. I make it sound like it's hard work. It's the kind of hard work that is really, really, really worth your time. I love that I get to be here with you. I get to be here with you in an even bolder and more creative way. You guys, coming very soon in the Get Your Goal, the progress that I was talking about, the course that I'm creating. This is going to be live. I will have an exact date for you sooner rather than later. It means that it means that now is as good a time as any to join because you will be in on the ground floor. But also, coming up in the relatively near future, I am going to be talking about this more because I will have a bit of a launch for it because it will restructure some things in the Get Your Goal Group in a way that I'm very excited to bring to the current members and the future members. It's really going to help me, help you in a way that I think is going to be meaningful and move you forward if not faster, then more confidently, more cared for in a way that makes clearer sense. I'm so excited that I have done this hard work so that I can help you do the hard work. You guys, thank you always for listening. I hope this was helpful for you. If nothing else, I hope it really normalized that you are in the right place no matter how you feel and no matter how confusing and overwhelmed or compare and despair you feel or shame and blame you feel or impatient you feel. You are getting where you want to go, and it's worth it. Thank you for listening, and I'll talk to you again soon.

Listen to the full episode here, and be sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

Originally aired July 2, 2023
Every weight loss journey is unique, but you will also inevitably come across three universal “pit stops” along your way. On this episode of the Get Your GOAL podcast, we’re chatting about the three stages of weight loss, so you can navigate the road with ease.
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Meet Your Host

Mindset expert and certified life coach Pahla B knows a thing or two about changing your mind to change your weight and your life. She’s the creator of The 5-0 Method, Amazon-best selling author of the book “Mind Over Menopause,” and former yo-yo dieter who has cracked the code on lifelong weight maintenance. Join Pahla B each week for the personal insights, transformative mindset shifts, and science-backed body advice that can help you lose all the weight you want and keep it off forever.