You know what the hardest part of LOSING WEIGHT is? All of it! So let’s talk about that.
On today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast, I’m sympathizing with how hard it feels to get your goal, and clarifying (for both of us, really…) WHY losing weight feels hard and what we can DO about it.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
👉 The SKILLS you need to lose weight (and it’s not counting calories or doing deadlifts)
👉 How the TWO-STEP TOOL can help you get started
👉 Why your brain WANTS this process to feel hard
👉 How the work isn’t done, even when you’re DONE LOSING WEIGHT
This doesn’t have to feel easy for you to be good at it.
My friend, this inspiring episode is not going to convince you that losing weight is easy if you “just think happy thoughts” (because that’s never true), but it will give you the tools and the insights to move forward and do the hard thing. So, let’s go!
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The Hardest Part of LOSING WEIGHT (full transcript)
You’re listening to the Fitness Matters podcast with Pahla B, and this is episode number 244, “The Hardest Part of Losing 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.
Ready to read, and better yet, talk about another great self-help book? Join the Pahla B Wellness Over 50 Book Club, in partnership with Chirp Audiobooks. Our July/August pick is The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, and you can grab it at a great discount with no monthly subscription fees at chirpbooks.com/pahla, that’s P-A-H-L-A. And while you’re there, be sure to click the “Follow” button to get exclusive access, updates, and information about our live event, see you there.
Well, hello, hello, my friends, it’s so good to be with you here today, talking about the hardest part of losing weight. Isn’t that exciting? I know that some of you already have some ideas about what you think the hardest part of losing weight is, and I want you to know that you are not wrong, that what we’re going to talk about today is that the hardest part of losing weight is, number one, getting started, number two, losing the weight, and number three, being finished.
And yes, what I mean to say by that is that every single thing about losing weight can feel very hard, and notice how I said that very, very carefully, because you know… Maybe you don’t know, maybe you don’t know, that what we’re going to talk about here is the mindset of losing weight, which means that we are going to talk about your feelings, which are created of course by your thoughts, because this is how your body and your brain work, your thoughts create your feelings. So when you feel like something is hard, when you feel frustrated or angry or defeated, or like you want to give up, the reason you feel those things is because of your thoughts.
The Hardest Part of Weight Loss Is In Your Head
And yes, what I’m telling you is that the hardest part of weight loss is all in your head, but that’s also the really good news, because here’s the thing. If I came on this podcast and I told you, “Oh, the hardest part about losing weight is because of your body,” that your body has a hard time, that your body doesn’t want to lose weight, that your body is less efficient and more difficult to lose weight during and after menopause, that would actually be really bad news. What I’m telling you is that you actually have all the power right in your own head to take agency over this whole process.
Now, I’m not saying that when you take agency over this process, that it will quite suddenly become easy. No, remember, we’re already talking about this, this is the hard part of losing weight. The reason it feels hard though is because of your thoughts, not because of your body. Your body is going to do what your body’s going to do. If you have ever watched any of my Q&As, or any of my workouts, or even… I think even been here on the podcast before, I don’t think I say it quite as much on this podcast, I feel like I say it a lot in the Q&As though.
If you have never listened to a Q&A, I actually have a whole ‘nother podcast, just in case you don’t know this. I answer questions, generally speaking on Friday, this is about to change, and I’m not even going to make an announcement about that right this second, but it is about to change, as to when I do Q&As and how I do them, and all this kind of stuff.
But I have a whole backlog of Q&A Friday that is its own particular podcast that you can find by searching “Q+A” with no spaces “Friday.” It’s on every podcast platform everywhere, and I’ve been doing this for… Oh my gosh, I think we’re almost up to 100 episodes, so yeah, almost two years, and I’ve actually been doing it before that too, it’s just that it used to be on Facebook Live, and then Facebook got weird and squirrely, and now I’m almost completely done with Facebook. Wow, that was a whole left turn, wasn’t it, you guys?
Let’s talk about the hardest part of losing weight. Let’s talk about how getting started is the hardest part of losing weight. There does not pass a single day of my life where I do not get the question either on Facebook, because I am still on Facebook, especially in my private group, The Killer B Hive.
Every single day, I either get a message through some kind of a DM or an email, or a comment question post on Facebook, or a comment question post on YouTube, and sometimes on Instagram too. You guys don’t ask me as many questions on Instagram, and frankly I’m grateful for that, but also in the actual email where you can send me questions, firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s where I get lots and lots and lots of questions about getting started.
“What app should I use? Have I really figured out my calories correctly? But if I eat this number of calories, I won’t lose weight, I know I have to eat less and move more. What do I do about eating healthy? How many carbs should I have? What do you think about intermittent fasting?”
And on and on, you know, you get the gist.
You’ve probably had these questions yourself. And I want you to know that the reason these questions feel insurmountable, the reason these questions seem like the hardest part of losing weight, is because of what you have to learn here, and here’s what you have to learn. You have to learn how to make decisions and trust yourself.
Now, I know that lots of you think, “Oh, I make decisions every day. I have a job where I am constantly making decisions” or “I do kind of trust myself in this one particular arena of my life.” Yes, absolutely.
I‘m not talking to you like you have some major deficit in your life, I’m not being universal with this comment, what I’m telling you is that you are unfamiliar, therefore you have not practiced this skill of making decisions about weight loss. You have not learned to trust yourself to follow through on your decisions about weight loss. You’re great at making decisions, you’re great at following through, you’re great at trusting yourself in other areas.
This is great news, I want you to know. Even though it feels hard, it feels like the hardest part of losing weight, it means that you actually already have these tools. Look at where you make decisions somewhere else in your life and feel super confident about them, and for lots of us, this is going to be work. I mean, if it’s not, then look somewhere else, maybe parenting or being a caregiver for your aging parents, or in your marriage, or in your volunteer life.
Somewhere in your life, you are fabulous at making decisions, and the only thing that you need to do to be fabulous at making decisions regarding weight loss is to kind of pick that apart somewhere else in your life and really see, “Oh, this is how this works.”
I’ll tell you for me, we actually just talked about this. Did we just talk about this last week? Did we talk about it recently? I feel like we talked about it sometime somewhat recently, and I am not going to be able to come up with it off the top of my head.
The thing about making decisions that I have learned in my older years is that making the decision doesn’t need to be the hardest part, it’s the following through and trusting yourself that is the hard part. Making the decision can be as easy as literally making the decision, like, “Boom, here we go, this is what I’m going to do,” and what I’m going to do after that is the thing that’s important.
Trusting yourself to follow through is a skill, and you know what kind of skill this requires of you? It requires you to listen to your thoughts and decide if they’re helpful. I know you knew that was coming, right? At some point in the podcast, we were going to talk about the two-step tool. This is where I will refer you to Mind Management, I think it’s episode number 89, where we talk about the two-step tool, how you find your thoughts and decide if they’re helpful.
This is why you think you don’t trust yourself right now. You’re perfectly capable of trusting yourself, you trust yourself somewhere else in your life. This is a skill you already possess, the making decisions, the following through, the trusting yourself. You already possess this skill somewhere else in your life, and the reason it feels easy somewhere else is because you have automatic thoughts that support your decisions, your follow-through, and your trust of yourself.
Regarding weight loss, you have thoughts that do not support your decision-making, your follow-through, and your ability to trust yourself. That’s the only thing that’s going on here, you have thoughts that aren’t helpful. Amazing, right? This is amazing news. This means that all you have to do is find those thoughts, recognize them for being thoughts, and then understand what they are getting you. Those thoughts aren’t helpful.
A thought like, “I’ve never been good at this,” you know that feels lousy, right? You know that feels lousy. It feels true, you’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, but I actually have never been good at this, I can find all kinds of evidence. I know for sure that I have tried different apps and they’ve been really difficult to count my calories,” or “I know for sure that I’ll start on this, and then after a week it’ll peter out,” like “I know that I don’t follow through, I know that I have a hard time making decisions, I know that I don’t trust myself,” but you actually don’t, you just think those things.
Those are just thoughts, and my friends, that, those thoughts are why getting started feels hard. All you got to do is find your thoughts and decide if they’re helpful.
Here’s what you’ll learn when you go actually listen to that other episode about mindset management. There is no step three. There is no, “And then you think a happy thought in its place.” No, the great news here is that your brain is a supercomputer, your brain is amazing, it’s… It is built to be able to hear your thoughts as thoughts, and it is also built to be able to create new thoughts and think something new about yourself, and believe that something new.
The fact is that all you have to do is categorize your current unhelpful thoughts as unhelpful, and your brain will start to see them that way. When your brain starts to see your unhelpful thoughts as unhelpful, it will very naturally understand that it has other options, and kind of start scanning around for other options. This will all operate in the background, in a way that you don’t have to force yourself or try hard, or think a positive thought on purpose. This is me pounding my fist, that’s the noise you hear.
You don’t have to make yourself feel good. Your brain will automatically, in the background, work on this until it finds something believable that you can then trust yourself, make decisions, and know that you’ll follow through. And then when you actually start doing those things, you’ll be gathering evidence that you are capable, and then that will make it even stronger in your brain.
So the thing about losing weight that’s really hard, it’s losing weight, am I right? Once you get started, once you overcome all of that decision-making of “When am I going to work out? What am I going to wear? What am I going to eat? When am I going to eat it? How am I going to prepare it? How am I going to track it? What app am I going to use?” I mean, the front-loading of all the decisions, I even talk about this in The 5-0 Method, which by the way, if you don’t have it, this is my free ebook, this is the way that I tell you how to lose weight. It’s very prescriptive in the sense of it tells you, “These are the five things that you’re going to do every day, and this is how,” but then it leaves it up to you to make all the decisions about how to actually implement it.
By the way, that’s on purpose. It’s because the first skill you need is the skills that we just talked about. Making decisions, following through, and trusting yourself to follow through. Those are imperative skills that are going to get you to the next step. I can’t give them to you, they are skills that you are going to have to learn and practice on your own.
Then once you have done that, oh my gosh, then the hard part is losing the weight. You’ve made all the decisions, you’ve gotten to the point where you’re starting to see the evidence that you can follow through. You’re still going to question it sometimes, you’re still going to fall off track sometimes, you’re still going to have rough patches, absolutely, but once you kind of get into that groove, then you come to this next hard part, the losing weight.
Losing weight is hard. You know why? Because you get to… Yes, this is an opportunity, you get to confront all of your ugly, ugly, ugly thoughts about yourself, about your body, about losing weight, about the scale, about how hard this process is, about how other people are losing faster, about how you can’t really eat what you want, but you still want to eat what you want, but you want to go on vacation and enjoy yourself, but this and that and the other thing.
My friends, the list of ugly thoughts that you might have, it’s too much for me to even try to enumerate for you. Your ugly thoughts are really unique to you, and you get to… This is the opportunity, you get to find them all, and that’s why this feels hard. In fact, even listening to me right now, aren’t you like, “Oh my gosh, that’s completely overwhelming?” I know. I know.
This is the part about getting any goal. I mean, we’re talking about weight loss, but truly this is the part about getting any goal. This is the part about me building my million-dollar business. This is the part about you finding the relationship that you want, or you starting a business, or you earning the money that you want to earn, or whatever your goal is, this is the grind in the middle.
And the reason it feels like a grind is because there appears to be no end in sight for the amount and type of horrible thoughts that you could be thinking. They’re all automatic, they’re all hiding in there, and they’re all slowing you down. And I’m laughing, I’m laughing because I’m in the grind myself. This is actually why I’m making this podcast today. I’m in that grind myself. This part of creating my million-dollar business, I’ve already been through the grind of making all the decisions, of finding the ability to trust myself, of getting past that initial difficulty, but then all the hustle in the middle still feels hard to me right now.
I have a lot of sympathy for what this is like, and I also have none, because this is the work, truly this is what we’re here for. This is how you get not just this goal of losing the weight, but how you get any goal. Find the thoughts that are holding you back, and you have them. I mean, here’s the thing, we all have them, there’s nothing wrong with having these thoughts.
You have automatic thoughts that have been based on literally everything you’ve ever heard ever in your lifetime, every billboard you’ve ever seen, every magazine you’ve ever read, every piece of content you have ever taken in has gone into the slush pile of your brain, and then your brain just spits out thoughts based on all of the stuff that has come in, it has no filter truly.
Well, your brain does actually have lots of good filters, it has a great filter for lots of things, but it also has no filter for what’s going to get you where you want to go, because your brain honestly, until you tell it where you want to go, it doesn’t know. Your brain just thinks thoughts, it doesn’t really care. But it also, because you are a supercomputer, has the ability to understand what you are thinking, and recognize that what you are thinking isn’t helpful for where you want to go.
Here’s the thing. If you wanted to stay your current weight, every single thought you are thinking right now is extremely helpful for that, right? Because it’s where you are, it’s amazing. However, if you’d like to make a change, not every single thought you’re thinking right now, but really a good number of them are keeping you the weight you are, which means that it’s going to be difficult to make that change, to lose the weight that you want to lose.
Your only job here is to really truly be compassionate with this grind, to be compassionate with your brain for taking in every single perception it has ever taken in, and creating this glut of thoughts that it has about how you can’t lose weight, about how you should just stay the same, about how everything that you’re doing is hard.
Those are just thoughts, and I say that dismissively in a way that I hope you hear as helpful as opposed to… As opposed to hearing this as like, using the work against yourself. This is something that I hear somewhat frequently also. Not as often as I get the question about “What app should I use to count my calories?” But I do hear that when you start getting into this mindset work, when you start understanding that it’s just a thought, that you start using that phrase, “It’s just a thought,” against yourself.
“It’s just a thought, why can’t I get over it? It’s just a thought, why is it still holding me back? It’s just a thought, why does it still hurt? It’s just a thought, I should be able to,” whatever. No, “It’s just a thought” is your lifeline. It is not the weight that is sinking you, it is the rope that is pulling you out. Yeah, it’s just a thought, but it doesn’t feel like it in your head right now. That’s the grind of finding these thoughts and recognizing them as thoughts. It feels like a lot, it feels hard, it feels like never-ending work. That’s hard, and it’s all completely okay, because this is how your brain is supposed to work.
This is actually exactly how your brain is supposed to work. Your brain is supposed to think things, and it wants to think things to stay the same. That’s your biological imperative, is to stay the same as much as possible, so that your brain or your body, depending on what kind of a change you’re trying to make, your brain or your body doesn’t want to use extra energy. Thinking a new thought takes extra energy.
That’s the only thing that’s going on here. So all those thoughts that are holding you back, that I’m telling you, these thoughts are holding you back, there’s nothing wrong with them, there’s nothing wrong with you for having them. Yes, they are just thoughts, but also they’re thoughts. They’re thoughts that your brain wants to continue thinking because it takes more energy to think something new. That’s why this feels hard, it’s supposed to.
It’s supposed to feel difficult, and you can do something else. I mean, “Something else” meaning you could find your thoughts and decide if they’re helpful. It’s the same old thing you’ve been doing. There’s nothing more to this, just so you know, spoiler alert, this is the advice I’m going to give you every single time, find your thoughts, decide if they’re helpful. But that process is new with every new thought you find, so doing this new thing of finding your thoughts, deciding if they’re helpful, is the thing that you’re doing here in the middle.
You guys, the hard part about losing weight is being finished. I will tell you, I have lost weight numerous times in my life, like numerous times. I’ve lost at least 30-plus pounds I think five times, if I’m counting correctly, three times without being pregnant and two times with being pregnant, and then a couple of other times where I’ve lost like seven to 10 pounds just in the past couple of years, because menopause, where my body just changed.
The other times that it changed, I mean, it changed during puberty, I gained 30 pounds, it felt like overnight, it wasn’t, it was like a year or so when I was in… Gosh, 13, 14, something like that. I think it was the year between my freshman and sophomore year, where all of a sudden, just everything about my body was completely different, including the 30 extra pounds, and I lost that.
And then sometime when I was a young adult, like in my early twenties, I honestly don’t really know what was going on. Well, I kind of do know what was going on, I was partying a lot. I mean, let’s be honest, I was just drinking a lot. Drinking has a lot of calories if you’re not watching it, and if you’re drinking and then eating junk food, and I worked at a restaurant, there was food available to me all the time. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was paying attention to the point where I knew I thought I was fat, but not to the point where I was going to do something about it, and then I did something about it and it was like, “Oh, okay, cool.”
Then I got pregnant, and then I lost most of that weight, then I got pregnant again, and then I lost most of that weight, and then I was a young mom who didn’t really know what to do with this new mom body, and it just took me a while. It just took me a while to figure things out because my metabolism had changed, my brain had changed, my lifestyle had changed, and it took me a while to figure that out. And then I did, and that was the beginning of this whole career when I discovered in my late thirties, early forties, that I actually liked exercising, I liked taking care of myself, I liked myself. It was a whole weird revelation to have. This was my midlife crisis, by the way, in my late thirties, early forties, was discovering that I actually liked myself. It was amazing, and now, now I share this with you.
Anyway, here’s the thing about being finished. I have lost weight numerous times, and I think of myself as somebody who’s completely capable of losing weight, but being a person who keeps it off was a whole ‘nother ball of wax for me. That confronted every single horrible thought I had ever, ever had about myself, about my abilities, about how I don’t stick to things, about how I don’t finish things, about how I put things off, about how I’m not very good at things, about how I’m stupid, about how I’m uncoordinated, about how I’m unathletic.
Every, every terrible thought I had ever had about myself was wrapped up in being a person who wasn’t ever finished losing weight, who couldn’t keep it off once she did lose weight, who couldn’t really get or stay fit, couldn’t quite make it to the finish line. Literally, this actually showed up for me by not being able to get to a literal marathon finish line the first time I ran a marathon. This is when I discovered this thing about myself. The reason being finished is the hardest part about losing weight is because you have to change your self-concept.
We just talked about self-concept a couple weeks ago. Can I find the actual episode? Maybe episode 239, so yeah, not too long ago. 239, Your Self-Concept, talks about just that, your self-concept. I highly recommend you go listen to that one. It does not talk about changing your self-concept, which we’re going to touch on briefly here today. I do think that there’s an entire podcast to be had in this topic, but here’s what I’m going to tell you. You know how you change your self-concept? Say it with me. You’re going to find your thoughts, and you’re going to decide if they’re helpful.
My friends, you have a self-concept right now. Your self-concept is basically any sentence that starts with “I.” Truly, any sentence that starts with “I,” and really specifically the ones that have “I am, I should, I have, I will, I can’t, I can, I’ve never, I’ve always.” You have lots and lots and lots of thoughts about your ability to be a person who is done losing weight forever. Did you just get a whole knot in your stomach when I said that, right? What do you think about never losing weight again?
My friends, there’s your self-concept, there is your work, there are the thoughts that are going to have you gain weight back. I cannot say this with any kind of sugar-coating, this, this thing right here, is why people gain the weight back. It is not because your body has some weird set point, it’s not because of your body at all, it’s because of your thoughts. Again, don’t use this work against yourself, of course you have these thoughts, of course you do.
For heaven’s sakes, my friends, you have spent your life… I mean, most of us. I started losing weight when I was nine. Didn’t need to, but I thought I did, because of the thoughts that I had, because of the messages that I had taken in. I heard women talking about losing weight. I saw magazine articles that talked about how you need to lose the last five pounds. We are inundated constantly with all kinds of messages, but one of the messages is that you’re not quite fixed, you’re not quite right, you have something to do here, and it’s probably losing weight. You need something different about you.
Of course, you have thoughts that you are a person who is never going to be done losing weight, because you have messages coming at you every single day that tell you that you should lose weight, even if you are happy with your weight. This is why it’s hard.
There are messages everywhere, both outside your brain and inside your brain, telling you that your weight is a problem. When your weight is no longer a problem, you need to think that it is no longer a problem, which means that you need to hear all the times that your brain is offering you that your weight is a problem. There will be many, they will be frequent, they will sound different, and you need to find them. That’s all.
That’s the only work that needs to be done here. The only work that needs to be done when you’re losing the weight, the only work that needs to be done when you’re getting started. Find the thoughts, decide if they’re helpful, and knowing what you want to get out of it. When your goal is to get started, you need to understand, “Okay, I need to make decisions, I’m going to follow through, and I’m going to trust myself,” knowing that your goal in that instance is to make a decision, then you can find all your thoughts about making decisions.
Knowing that your goal is to trust yourself, you can find all your thoughts about trusting yourself. Knowing that your goal is to follow through, you can find all your thoughts about following through. Knowing that your goal is to find all your thoughts. I mean, truly find all your thoughts about losing weight, about your ability to lose weight, about other people who have lost weight, about stepping on the scale, about other people who are frustrated with you losing weight faster than them, or whatever, knowing that it is your goal to find all the thoughts that are slowing you down, you can find all the thoughts that are slowing you down.
Here at the finish line, knowing that it is your goal to never lose weight again. My friends, there are thoughts that are waiting for you to find and decide if they’re helpful.
Here’s the thing, you are literally always going to have thoughts, and thank goodness for that. This is what your brain is supposed to do, you are supposed to have thoughts, and most of them, honestly pretty innocuous. Until you have a goal in direct contrast with your thoughts, your thoughts are fine.
Like we talked about before, if your goal was to stay this weight, then your thoughts would be terrific. When your goal is to feel good about yourself, to never need to lose weight again, to love your body, that’s when your work is to find the thoughts that are in your head that are holding you back from that.
The work never gets harder than that, and I’m going to say that the work never feels easy, but I don’t honestly believe that. The work of sitting down with your journal, finding your thoughts, deciding if they’re helpful, the process gets easier, because it’s just practice. The thoughts themselves still feel hard. So some of it will feel easier, because you will know, “Oh, when I sit down, I’m probably going to cry when I write in my journal.” This is me. This is me every single day. “Well, what am I going to cry about today? What’s going to feel awful today?” Like, “I know it’s coming.”
Sometimes that means that I don’t really want to sit down and do it, but I know it’s coming and I know it’s okay, and I know I’m going to get through it, and all those kinds of things, so the process feels easier. The thoughts themselves still feel yucky, Still dredge up old feelings, still require me to look at them Compassionately, still require me to feel through some yucky, “I’m unlikable, I’m unlovable, I’m left out, Nobody understands me” kinds of feelings, on the daily. This is stuff that comes up for me.
That part doesn’t feel easier, that part actually still feels yucky, it still feels hard, which is why I’m not trying to talk you out of this, by the way. Let’s kind of come to that. I’m not trying to tell you that this isn’t hard. I’m not trying to tell you that, “Oh, if you just think happy thoughts, this is all going to be easy.” No, the process gets easier. The thoughts still feel hard, and that’s completely okay, because you can handle this. You can find your thoughts, you can decide if they’re helpful. You can feel those feelings, even when they’re yucky.
This doesn’t have to feel easy. It doesn’t have to feel like getting licked by kittens, it does not have to feel like puppies and rainbows, it doesn’t have to feel good for you to be good at it. You can create for yourself the skill, you can practice the skill of feeling lousy, of doing hard things. You can do that. Kind of amazing, right? So you guys, the hard part about losing weight is all of it, and you can do hard things. Thank you so much for listening. I really hope this was helpful, like always, and I’ll see 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’re 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.