You are listening to It’s Never Too Late to Lose Weight, a podcast with Pat Beaupre Becker, episode 15.
Welcome to It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight, a podcast for women approaching 60 who have been successful at everything but reaching their weight loss goals. Tune in each week for tools and strategies to help you lose weight, create a strong body, and support a healthy mind. Here's your host, certified weight and life coach, Pat Beaupre Becker.
Hello my dears; really happy to be here. I’m just coming down off of a five-day cold with cough and so I’m excited to talk about the topic today which is not quitting on yourself.
Now, in episode 13, we talked about creating habits to support you and to support your healthy living, style of eating and exercise, and how each day we do something, one small step towards making a habit is actually adding to our brain’s ability to put that information into the subconscious and it becomes easier and easier for us to do. Now, one habit I’m continually working on is not quitting.
I used to be a quitter. I had a small business in the 80s and I quit that; it was too hard. I was in theatre and film and I quit that. Now, I do I like my reasons for quitting that, which was basically having a family, getting married and having a child. But the fact is that I did quit. And I used to exercise in spurts, you know, like do some yoga, do some weight lifting, and then I would always quit.
And I’m one of those people that would think a lot about exercise and I don’t know if you’ve ever watched those TV commercials, but way back in the day, they always had the most strange – and they still do – this cute little exercise equipment that you can buy. And this one was called the Bean. And The Bean said, if you use this then you could work on your stomach muscles and it would be really supportive of your back.
So I bought that Bean that was going to get me to exercise without fear of hurting my back. And I even made a promise to myself as I was dialing the number on my TV screen and I promised myself that this time I would exercise. So I get the bean, blow it up – it’s this big blow-up thing – and the first time I got on it, I hurt my back; I quit. I think it’s still sitting in the garage up on the shelf somewhere because when my husband went to throw it away I was like, “No, no I might use it someday.”
And then there was this Groupon for a home Pilates reformer. Now, you know I love Pilates, so I got this. I figured, “Well, if I get the Pilates machine at home, I’ll work on it myself.” So I got the machine, I got it all set up and I used it for the first time and I got a twinge in my back and I quit. So now we have that up in the attic and I think it has a bunch of clothes sitting on it.
And then, a couple of years ago, I purchased the Beach Body DVD. You really need to keep me away from the TV and exercise, right. But I thought this one was going to be – it was going to be hard, but I could do it. And so I received the DVD, I put it in there, I watched it, I started to do it and I was like, oh no. I quit. So you might even say that I quit before I ever started on that one.
How many of us invest these small amounts of money because we say, “Oh it’s just a little amount of money,” and then we quit because we don’t invest the time and we don’t learn how to get past that initial training, which may take us past the discomfort of learning something new.
But the results of my many quits is that I became very skilled at it, because the more you practice something, the better you become at that activity. So slowly, I kind of expected myself to quit as it became a habit. And I quit because I could look to the not so far distant future and see myself quitting.
So what was really happening here? I believed that failure was a done deal. I just believed that I was going to fail and that’s the way it was. So then I started to examine the results that I was getting from all this continual quitting. And what were those results? Well, at the time, no relationships, I was overweight, I was out of shape, I was unhappy, and I was very self-critical. And I could see that all these great starts and all these great ideas and belief that I could change, and then only to the moment of discomfort, I would just quit.
And of course, the practice of quitting over and over again was giving me these results. So then slowly, enlightenment arrived. The more I learned about the brain and its adaptivity – how it’s adaptable and its ability to learn at any age – I realized that I could actually stop quitting.
Now, eating the way I do now, which is pretty much whole-foods – I have weighed and measured meals and I eat pretty much – I’m always in anticipation of tomorrow’s meal today, but that took building a lot of new skills, right; the skill of cooking – not that I’m a chef or anything – but the skill of shopping, the skill of preparing, the skill of making that commitment and sticking to it. But since I’ve been practicing these skills for so long, right now there’s little or no effort involved. And I don’t even think about quitting because now I have the benefits and my brain has also sent all of these activities into my unconscious mind. So I’m essentially, really, just following these new habits.
So one result is that I don’t have to make a conscious decision – I’m not consciously deciding should I do this, should I do that about my food? Because when it comes to nourishing my body, I already created and made a nourishing mindset and the results are nourishing.
Now, during the process of creating this new nourishing mindset, I really had to redefine my concept of failure. Earlier in my life, success really meant avoiding being embarrassed or shamed at all costs because I saw failure as excruciating because my thoughts about it created this overwhelming feeling of shame. And who wants to feel that?
So at the first anticipation of embarrassment, I would quit. Really, the truth is, most of that time that meant not even trying. So after this mindset change that I’ve had – and now I realize that if I can learn from any situation, I have not failed. Because in the past, the thought of not being able to do something, like not being able to lose weight, not being able to exercise or apply for a new job, would cause such anxiety and shame that quitting was a relief.
But then time would pass and I still wanted more, right. I wanted a better job. I wanted a strong body. I wanted health and I wanted freedom from feeling like I was really in a prison of food. And then, as the years came and went, I could see that there was no momentum because every time I quit, the momentum would just drop. And then getting that momentum up again would take so much more energy.
So at some point – and I’ve talked about this – seeing my family members suffer in their older years with real severe illnesses, diabetes, I decided I was going to commit to my health. I wanted to have a better life, so I decided I would create a plan and a daily practice that was going to keep me on course. And that plan worked with food. But I have to tell you, I still wasn’t exercising. Remember The Bean – the Pilates machine gathering dust in the attic and in the garage?
Now recall our brains can be real good at excuse-making; almost like excuse-making machines, right. And my brain was an expert. But now, as I understand the consequences of quitting were basically that my long-term goal would never be attained. And finally, when I read yet one more research paper about exercise and how it supports the brain as well as physical health, better mood, I made the commitment to become someone who loves to exercise.
And now, other than this week when I’ve been sick, you can find me at the gym at least two or three times a week, plus I take a couple of Pilates classes. And I’m only telling you this not because I’m different or special – I mean, I didn’t exercise for more than ten years. Maybe I took a yoga class once in a blue moon, but I discovered that quitting prevents learning. And I also know that I’m a slow learner, which isn’t a problem for me as long as I continue to work towards my goal.
And even if it takes me 10 mistakes or 20 mistakes to learn from that same failure, I will eventually learn. And I can share about – now I’m learning to play ping-pong because I really love it; it gives me such joy. And I’m moving and I’m playing and I’m being challenged. And while I’m really not that good, I don’t completely suck. And because of that, I’m very energized when I play.
But even sometimes, learning this simple thing like ping-pong is a challenge to my brain, but I still stick with it, even if I’m going to be embarrassed by my stupid moves. I’m not quitting; why? Because I want the benefit, I want the goal, I want to play, I want to laugh, I want to get exercise the ping-pong way. I want to be among the men and women who play and play well.
And this is actually a little example of how, when you connect the dots between your goal, which is what you want to achieve, and your purpose, why you want to achieve it. So why do I want to exercise? I want to exercise because I want to maintain a healthy vitality in my body as I age. I want to strengthen my bones. I want to strengthen my mitochondria.
And by making the connection between my goal of getting exercise to this bigger purpose, it helps me not to quit, even if it feels a little bit uncomfortable. I can look at things in my life – and I’d like you to do the same thing – the things that you didn’t quit on. I’d never quit on raising my daughter. I don’t quit on my marriage. I didn’t quit on my jobs, even though I decided to leave my job; I loved my reason for leaving. I don’t quit on my family. I haven’t quit on my coaching training and my business and you.
So now, even when I have a twitch in my hip or my shoulder, I have a plan because I want to get to be 77 and be strong and buff. I was very inspired by Olga Kotelko, who in her 90s was an award-winning track and field star, and she started her training at 77. And at age 90, she was described as the world’s oldest known long-jump competitor. And when she did die at the age of 95, they actually did an autopsy and discovered her mitochondria had not aged from the time she was like 65. So for a 95 year old person, she had the body and the cells of a 65 year old.
So right now, quitting is not an option. Because the way I look at it now, with all the years I messed around and I quit – and I sort of got away with it – I don’t think there’s any more getting away with it. So I guess, it really means I’m growing up and taking responsibility. And as I said, I didn’t quit on being a mother, and that was a challenge. I didn’t quit on being a wife and I’m not quitting on my health. And I’m not quitting on being an example that you too can choose healthy food with joy.
One of my favorite characters on TV is Sue Heck. Now, I don’t even watch that show that often, but the few times that I’ve watched it, she made such an impression on me. She is the perennial optimist. And even though her brain and ours can provide so much evidence that she’s a – quote en quote – loser, she chooses to believe in herself fresh every day and continually goes after her dreams. And the result is that at least 50% of the time, she achieves them. She shows up and she lives. And there are some links at the end of this episode that have links to shows where you can watch her achieving her goal, despite the most incredible obstacles.
Now, when I was Sue’s age, I didn’t try. I was so afraid of not surviving shame and embarrassment that I just quit all over the place. I didn’t give myself a chance to fail or to succeed; I just quit ahead of time. I was in hiding. Now, sometimes I feel like Sue and I use her as my inspiration. I don’t know at all if I’m going to accomplish the next goal, but I’m going to jump in and I’m going to give it my all.
And that’s what I want for you, so here are some points to get you to stop quitting. Commit to your goal. What is it you want? But then connect it to your purpose; why do you want it? If you want to lose weight, then why do you want to lose weight and what are you going to get when you lose that weight?
And then you create a plan – that plan that is really created from your prefrontal cortex. You’re working on the executive functioning part of your brain. And then, remember our mantra, your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions and your actions create your results. And you use this model to review your results. Because when you see what you have in your life, you have to understand that you’re getting these results because of your actions.
And then you say, wait a minute, but these actions, what are they motivated by? Some emotion – so if I’m not taking action then I’m not having the right emotion to motivate my action. And then, when we know it’s your thoughts that create your emotions, you can examine your thoughts; examine your thinking. So you use that model of the circumstance, the thought, the feeling, the action and the result, and you plug in any one of those places and then you can see how your beliefs are impacting your results.
And then another point, choose to be passionate about your purpose and you can create passion when you practice those new thoughts so that when you decide on quitting, it’s not just you’re deciding to quit, but you’re quitting on your passion. You’re quitting on your body and you’re quitting on your life. And you can make and decide that quitting on your passion, your body, and your life is just not optional.
So expect discomfort; count on it. Remember that good stress, hormesis? Sometimes stress actually creates regeneration of cells. Now, you want to expect that your primitive brain is going to give you the most delightful and very solid excuses to quit because it is so practiced at this. So learning and failing on our way to our goal is just expected; just expect it.
So not only do you expect discomfort, you anticipate obstacles. Think of events that are going to challenge you and justifications you know your brain is going to make when you begin to think about quitting. I’m tired. I have a cold. I work too long. I don’t know what to eat. I’m bored with my food. I need sweets and wine and whatever, you can fill in the blank, to de-stress. But I want you to remember that you have a choice-point.
When you have a decision to make, you can stop, and then you remember your commitment. Remember your plan and your dream, and you move towards the future you want. Or you can choose to quit and move towards the pain you know because you’re in charge. I hate to tell you, but you are the adult in the room.
So in summary, I want to tell you, if you’re practiced at quitting, you want to see where has all that quitting in your life gotten you? Look at the results and see the impact of all those quits and then you get to decide on a goal. Ask yourself why you want it and what will be different when you get it. What do you want to do when you get there? And is that goal in alignment with your passion; with your big picture for your life?
Then you commit to learning how to not quit, even though it’s hard and even though you want to. I think it’s important to define success and failure as related to your goal. For me, failure is quitting. So as long as you’re in the game, you’re succeeding towards your goal. You’re living the journey. You’re not just thinking about the end, the destination. The journey is part of it. Your definition of success is just living the journey.
And I also recommend you find inspiration, right. Find someone out there. For me, it’s Olga, right, or it’s Sue Heck. But you want to find inspiration and take massive action. And remember, massive action just means you don’t give up. You keep taking action until you get the result that you want. Think of it as rinse and repeat; you just keep taking those same actions. And then, eventually your brain will put those activities into your subconscious and it will become habit and it will become much easier and you will stop quitting.
Now I want to talk about My Favorite Things, because I really want you to go to YouTube, and there’s a couple of links in the show notes, to watch those episodes of Sue Heck on The Middle, and to see how this young woman – maybe she’s awkward. Yes, she’s definitely awkward. Maybe she is not very skilled at many things, but her heart and her passion and her drive push her not to quit. And in not quitting, she learns amazing lessons. And that’s what we need to do is know that every time we are learning something, we are growing. And when we fall down, when we fail, we don’t have to stay down. It’s the practice of getting up that builds the muscle towards your future.
So thank you so much for listening to today’s episode and I look forward to seeing you next week when we’re going to look into that future and we’re going to talk about your future self. I’ll see you then; bye-bye.
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