Ep #13: Setting Goals and Creating Daily Habits

INTLTLW-ep-13_300.jpg

In order to achieve our goals, we need one thing above all else – awareness. When trying to reach a desired outcome, we need to approach from a place of awareness of thought, planning, and a willingness to adapt.

We all have little habits - unconscious behaviors - that we don’t think twice about. In this episode, you’re going to learn how these habits shape our lives, and how we can achieve our goals through creating new ones. Knowledge of these habits is going to be imperative in creating a bespoke process for losing weight.

I have prepared a framework for creating an effective weight-loss plan to help you in this endeavor. Join me today as I discuss how we can maintain a healthy lifestyle by identifying our goals, creating a plan, and then evaluating and improving the process over time, supported by good habits. Listen to the end to hear how we can apply this framework in other areas of life!

If you want to join a group of like-minded women over 50 who want to lose weight, transform bad habits, and live a healthy lifestyle, come on over to my closed Facebook group – It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • 3 points to create an effective, intentional action plan.
  • Why identifying our thoughts is the key to success.
  • How your habits create the life you’re living.
  • An exercise to track your habits.
  • How to change your habits for the better.
  • Why your brain is all too willing to settle into bad habits.
  • How you can use The Model to plan your diet.
  • How routine takes the weight off your brain.

Featured on the Show:

If you have any questions or ideas for upcoming episodes, send me an email at pat@beauprecoaching.com

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight Podcast, 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, it’s so good to be here. I hope you are having a fantastic day. I just saw the film the Black Panther. Oh my god, I loved it. You know what I loved about it the most? I loved using our imagination to create a land or a world where nothing is really like the one we have, and yet, it offers hope and strength for being human. And I just think, the more practice we have at creating these worlds, the more interesting we can actually make our own life. And if you stayed to the end of the credits when you saw the Black Panther, you got that Marvel tidbit where we are introduced to yet another movie coming soon with the same characters. Oh my god, that’s my favorite thing – so satisfying.

So today, we’re going to talk about setting goals and creating little daily habits by developing our own process. But first, a question; what do you think of yourself when it comes to weight-loss? Do you believe you can succeed, or do you believe you will fail in this game of eating healthy food, getting more exercise or movement into your life, and getting yourself enough sleep?

Because if you don’t actually believe you will succeed, there’s a part of you that is going to make it difficult for yourself. Because when we know our thoughts – we know what we think about ourselves – that’s going to be an essential part of creating this successful plan.

Now, we have many habits. We have habits when we wake up in the morning. I know, for me, I wake up, we let the dog out, I make the tea, I get my journal, I go and I sit and I write. Sometimes I go outside and take some deep breaths; get myself some sunlight. And then I have my breakfast and then I have my shower.

So everybody has these habits that we do over and over again from the time we were very young. We also have habits that we do in the evening, right; how we prepare for bed, how we prepare for work the next day. So every habit that we have creates the life that we are living right now. So you could say, all of the thoughts we’ve had up until now have given us this particular life that we are living. Now, you could be happy with that life or you could wish things could be changed. Either way, your life today is because of your thoughts and actions and feelings of what you have done up until this point today. So what I want you to do is I’m going to ask you to start by writing a paragraph about your current habits around food, around exercise and around sleep.

So just kind of track, what do you do when you wake up, what are all the things that you are doing habitually every single day? I think you’ll be surprised about how many things are actually automatic in what you do. Some of you might be snacking every day at three o’clock, the same time, or you drive past the Italian bakery and every time you drive past it, you think of a particular food or particular specialty cookie, right.

Maybe you have the habit of preparing your clothes for the next day the night before. I don’t have that habit. Sometimes I do it, and when I do, the morning goes much smoother. So it’s probably a good habit, but many of you automatically do that. How many of you make a shopping list before you go shopping just so you get the satisfaction of checking it off or crossing off that item from your list?

So we all have habits, and they’re unconscious and automatic, and that’s what makes them a habit. And what happens is, these behaviors that are automatic, they’re very efficient. So we just can do them without thinking, they’re out of our awareness; we’re not intentional about it. We don’t even think about it; we just do them.

And for some of us, those habits feel like we have no control because we’re just doing them. We’re deciding to do them, but it feels like they are not in our control. So if you’re listening today, you likely are a woman over the age of 50, over the age of 60, who is trying to lose weight or who is trying to maintain her weight-loss without a deprivation; without a struggle. Or maybe, you’re just trying to get exercise into your life and you want more energy and more vitality. Or maybe you just want to lose like five pounds; end of story. Whatever it is, the key is to create new habits that are going to lead you to reach your goal. Almost, the habits will make it inevitable that you will reach your goal. So what I want to talk about is intentionally creating your goal, and then you design a process for getting there. And the parts of that process are – number one, awareness – number two, actually creating a process – and number three is evaluating that process.

The first is awareness. What do you want in your life? What is your goal? And then you want to look at, what do you have now? What do you already have in your life? What have you created? And really start to look at, what are the thoughts that may have gotten you where you are? What are your beliefs? Maybe you’ve thought, “Oh I can never lose weight.” Maybe you thought, “I can never give up this one food,” and so the struggle with wanting to lose weight and not losing weight, or wanting to eat this food and knowing that this food is going to prevent you from losing weight – these are thoughts that we have all day long.

We have like 60,000 thoughts, and you want to become aware of what your thoughts are about what you have now. You want to become aware of what are your thoughts about attaining your goal because, as I said, if you don’t believe you can succeed, there is a part of you that is going to look to prove you right. So you want to become aware and bring to the surface those thoughts about your attaining the goal that you are setting out for yourself.

It’s kind of like knowing the benefits of what you have to do, like why you’re going to do it, and then knowing the pain; knowing the obstacles. So creating the process is where you actually create the food plan itself. And then you want to, once again, you want to create, “Like, what are my obstacles? Why haven’t I succeeded before?” And you create strategies.

And you present to yourself a daily routine, a new habit, and then you just repeat it over and over again. And then that third point, which is to evaluate the process, you probably tweak it a little bit and then you repeat it again, always improving the process; seeing what works and throwing out what doesn’t work.

Now, starting something new can always be exciting, right. We get all excited, we’re prepared. But then what happens is like two weeks later we’re kind of in the middle. It’s no longer sexy, it’s no longer new, it’s no longer adventurous. As a matter of fact, what I’m asking is for you to make a commitment to repeat something over and over and over. And that often leads people to boredom and they think they cannot withstand being bored.

Because I know, for some of you, routine is like a life-saving blessing that just is part of the way you ease into your life. But for some of you, routine is like, “Oh no, not for me. It’s death, it’s deprivation, it’s boredom.” But whatever your thoughts are about routine, I want you to see the elegance of a habit, because when you make something routine, then you are sending it your subconscious and it becomes automatic.

So you’re not using your brainpower to make another decision as you’re creating a habit. And as I said before, if you think about the current life that you have, all the habits you currently have, have given you those results. So the present circumstances you’re sitting in is the accumulation of all the habits you have had.

Like it or not, your brain prefers to expend less energy and it wants to integrate processes; it wants to make things automatic. Just think about driving. Think about your teenager getting in the car for the first time and you can’t even imagine them driving 80 miles per hour or 70 miles per hour on the highway with other crazy people driving 70 miles per hour. And yet, we do that without even thinking.

And what about parenting? I remember when I first became a mom; all of the new routine I had to get into place. I had to wake up. I had to make sure the laundry was done. I had to cook the food for my daughter. I had to make sure she had clean clothes; she had to have toys. If we went out, we had to pack all this stuff. I mean, it was a lot of routines that we created, getting her ready for bed, having a bath – all of those routines that create a stability in a family life.

Not everybody wants all those routines, but I know for me, it was learning how to create the routines that made me a better parent because it created some sanity for me, right. I could hold onto these routines because everything else was different. Like, my whole life had changed and yet these routines were going to help me to be able to figure out the next step and the next step and the next step of parenting.

Now, the same is true of your work, right. You go to work – I bet all of you have a certain way you go in, you say hello to somebody, you probably use the same entrance every day. You either take the stairs or you take the elevator. You bypass certain people; you say good morning. You turn on your computer. And you have these processes that you already have created.

And this is what I want to tell you; that you’re going to do this consciously. Create the habit for being successful in your weight-loss plan. So, we’re going to start. Number one is awareness. So I want you to write down, how much do you weigh – put it on paper, right. Then you want to create your goal – what do you want to weigh? Then you want to write it down. Then I’m going to ask you, why do you want to lose weight?

Now, some people think it’s obvious, but really, I want to ask you, what are you going to get when you reach that goal weight. And as a matter of fact, if you could imagine that there is a video camera and you’re watching a movie – this is a video that has been taken, and we’re watching a movie of your life and there you are, at your goal weight, what is going to be different, that we can actually see with the camera, about your life, other than being thin?

Are you going to be smiling more? Are you going to be more vibrant? Are you going to be working at the same place? What exactly do you think is going to happen and how do you want it to be once you reach that goal weight? But the other part I want you to do is as you’re watching yourself on the screen, I want you to imagine and visualize what it is you’re thinking and feeling that’s different.

Maybe there is no struggle with food. Maybe you see yourself and you’re eating your meal, you’re smiling, you’re talking with people; food is no longer a problem. And if you can see that and imagine that, imagine what it is that you’re thinking. You can imagine yourself at work, right – going through the process of showing up at work and maybe now there’s all these – we know what happens at these offices where there’s like tons of donuts and cupcakes and all kinds of food that’s always there. But if it’s not a struggle for you, you can just say no; no big deal. And you can see that on the video camera; maybe that’s what you want.

And you have to ask yourself, what would you be thinking? Well you wouldn’t be thinking about the donuts, right. You wouldn’t be thinking about the cupcakes. You might just be thinking about the next thing you had to do at work and not focusing on food at all. So the next we’re going to talk about is creating a process. So I want you to go to never2late.info/guide. And if you haven’t done so yet, you can grab the quick-start guide for creating a successful weight loss plan because now, I’m going to ask you to make a commitment to create your own process.

For the first part, we create an overall plan. Basically, this is something you do one time; although you can review it and tweak it and revise it a little bit. But pretty much, you want to create one overall plan. And that plan is going to include, what are you going to eat? When are you going to eat and how much you’re going to eat? What are you going to eliminate? What are you going to add?

You want to include a food journal because we know that people who write down their food are more successful. We’re going to write down the process. We’re going to take the initial questions we asked ourselves when we were becoming aware; what is our goal? Why do we want to lose weight? And then, really, writing down all the decisions that you make about food; when, what, how much?

And you want to keep these goals in a place where you can actually see them every day. And then you want to do, generally, like what is an obstacle that you might foresee that would make it difficult for you to achieve this plan; to follow this plan? I really want you to invest at least 30 minutes to create this part of the process, which you can call your eating plan or we call it sometimes a protocol. So we have the protocol in place. We have our guidelines for what it is we’re going to eat. Maybe we’re going to have two meals; maybe we’re going to have three meals. So we figure out what our goal is within that process. And then, the second part here is, we get a weekly plan.

Now remember, planning in advance means using your prefrontal cortex. And that means, that’s the part of your brain that actually can help you decide that what you do today matters tomorrow. Whereas your primitive brain is going to tell you, it doesn’t matter about tomorrow, just get what you can. Get it now because it may not ever be here before.

But we’re going to create this plan, which is actually developing and strengthening our prefrontal cortex. Now, it doesn’t matter what day of the week you do this, but I have clients who do this every Thursday night. I have clients who do it on Sunday and I have other clients who do it on Saturday. So you pick the time that’s going to work with your schedule.

And basically, what you want to do is you want to think about the week ahead. So what do you need to have in the house for breakfast, lunch and dinner? You likely have the same five to ten meals that you repeatedly eat over and over again unless you are a chef. And even a chef probably still has only five to ten meals that they like to eat or give their family because it just is the way we are. We are creatures of habit.

So to keep it simple, you’re going to figure out what you’re going to prepare for this week. Now, some people like to plan each meal, or some people like to, when they go on vacation, like to plan each outfit. They get the shirt, they get the pants, they get the skirt and they put it all together with the stockings, with the jewelry. They create what they’re going to wear on a particular day.

So some people like to do that with their food plan. On Monday, I’m going to have chicken for lunch and for dinner, I’m going to have soup, or I’m going to have some fish. Some people like to say, well look, I’m going to have fish and chicken during the week. Maybe I’ll have some tofu one day. Maybe I’ll have a soup one day. So they actually figure out the meat, the dairy, the veggies, the salad, the fruit, the oils and the seeds and the nuts. These are kind of general categories that they know they’re going to have in the house so that they can prepare it for the week.

And the purpose of the plan is to, first off – again, remember we’re using our prefrontal cortex. And the other thing is, it’s going to help you when you go shopping, because this is what’s going to be your shopping list as you plan to prepare for the week ahead.

The next thing you need to do is look at that week ahead. I want you to see, are there any unusual events happening. Maybe there’s a lunch meeting at work where you know – like on Wednesday, you’re not going to have to worry about lunch. Maybe Tuesday night, there’s something in the evening that you’re attending to and maybe you’re going to either miss dinner or you’re going to have to plan to eat dinner earlier. Maybe you’re going to go out to eat. Maybe family is visiting.

Whatever is happening, you want to say, “How is this going to disrupt my life? How is this going to disrupt my schedule? And what can I do to strengthen my conditioning towards this habit of being prepared for what’s happening with my food every single day.”

I was listening to an interview with a research scientist and he was talking about the studies they’ve done where they have actually used a smell, or many conditions, but a smell is the one that stuck with me. So let’s say you want to create your plan and you do it on a Saturday night. Maybe you have one of those atomizers, where you can actually put some essential oil in the air so that your body will now associate the sensation you’re getting from the smell with the act of planning.

And then you can use that smell at another time and it will actually help you to associate with the fact that you have planned. And hopefully, that planning was a good experience. So now, that smell is going to give you a new cue to continue on with that habit. That’s actually just something interesting that I learned about that I thought, maybe we could do that while we’re planning. Maybe there’s a certain music you like. I love The Beatles; maybe you would play The Beatles while you were creating your plan. This way, you’re associating something positive with the plan that you’re doing. You know, I’m all about whatever works for us; whatever is going to help us to create that habit and make that habit stick. And we might as well take advantage of what we know from research.

Now we have the big plan, now we have the weekly plan, we know what we’re going to shop, we’re going to eat. Now some people actually cook on the weekend and they prepare several meals on the weekend so that it’s much easier to go forward in the week and just kind of have the food ready. So it really depends on your schedule and whether you work at home or whether you work outside the home.

The third part here is, we’re going to write a daily plan. So like I said, research indicates that people who keep a food diary, when they study them, they actually were able to double the weight-loss of those who did not. Now, knowing that, why wouldn’t you want to keep a food diary, right? I know some people think it’s a real pain, but all it is, is taking not even five minutes to write down the food that you’re going to eat tomorrow.

So I think it’s always important to plan to eat tomorrow what you already have in the house. You’ve already planned for this. You already have done this work. You’ve made these decisions. So just write down the meal that you plan to have tomorrow. Because the other thing is, this is creating evidence and support for your brain. Now, this initial process of change, you might feel it like a disruption. But eventually, as you create the habit, as you do it over and over again, what’s going to happen is your brain is going to want to follow that plan. And when your life becomes stressful, you can just turn to that plan and then you can have fewer decisions to make.

So as we talk about a journal, so we’re not only going to write our food, but I really want you to get into the habit of writing stuff down. I want you to write about your successes, write about your failures; when you missed the mark.

You know, every time we fail, we see it as an opportunity to understand something more about us; to be more aware of why we missed the mark so we can actually evaluate it and see what we could do differently to maybe strengthen the habit of good actions.

Now, if you remember our mantra, right – we have The Model, which is, thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions, your actions create your results; which is why we say, your thoughts give you the results because they create the feelings that drive the actions, right. So you want to keep track of what’s working for you and you want to keep track of what’s not working for you.

So here’s an example of how you would use The Model. Let’s say you know that this week, you’re planning your food for the week and you know that on Wednesday night it’s girl’s night out. And so let’s say, every time you go out with the girls, you end up having chips and salsa and before the meal comes you have actually devoured several bowls of chips and lots of salsa, because it’s just totally mindless, right; mindless eating.

So let’s say the circumstance is, you’re going to girl’s night out. You know you’re going to that Mexican restaurant and you decide you’re not going to have the chips and salsa. So you get to the restaurant and your thinking is, “I really want them.” So what’s happening is you’re not eating them. You’ve decided not to, but you feel so tense, right. And probably, as a result of that, you’re going to eat. Probably, as a result of that, you eat those chips, right. And the result is, you wanted them, well now you have them. Or you can create another model.

This is something you can do in advance. You could say, “I’m deciding not to have chips and salsa.” That’s your circumstance. And then you’re thinking, “I’m going to spend the first part of the meal checking in and listening to what’s happening with everybody.” And maybe that would give you the feeling of curiosity, right. You’re curious to find out what’s going on. And then your actions would be to ask questions and to listen. And then your result is you’re focused on your friends and not on the chips.

So it’s really important to focus on what you want to create; feeling among your friends, and not what you don’t want, the chips. So remind yourself of your why, the goal, the benefits and the obstacles, right. And repetition of each part of this process every single day is what’s going to make it automatic.

And so, the last part of the process is to evaluate. Review your mistakes. So as I said, the brilliant thing is, when you go off plan, it’s a lesson. It’s a positive teaching; a learning moment. Because everything we’re doing is learning and we know that your mindset is critical to your success. And all that means is that this mantra, our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings give us the motivation to act, our actions cause us results.

And then, you want to make the whole thing automatic; rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. So you keep track of your goal, you create your plan, you plan your meals, and ultimately, as you follow through, you’re going to create those positive results. Every day that you do the same pattern, that’s what’s going to create the new habit.

Now, research shows that it takes from 18 to 254 days – the average being 66 days – to create a new habit. And my goal for you is to arrive at your goal weight with all of your good habits in place. And when weight-loss is achieved, okay, now what? Now we have to upgrade our goal. And perhaps, your goal is better health. Perhaps your goal at that point, when you upgrade, it might be running a 5K. Or maybe it’s getting more skill for your particular job. It could be learning new dance steps, just to have fun.

But whatever it is, you now actually have learned a process that you can apply for success in any area. You want to create a process, you want to keep doing the same routine every day. You want to plan. You want to strategize and you want to act.

So in summary, three points to create a plan and habits to support it. There’s awareness of where you want to be, awareness of where you are, then there’s the actual process that you want to follow. And then you want to evaluate, tweak and repeat.

Using our model of the circumstance and thoughts, feelings, actions, results, remember our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create our actions, our actions create our results. So if you think, “I hate healthy food,” you’re not going to consistently eat it. If you think, “I can’t live without blueberry pie,” you won’t resist it. But if you practice thinking, “I want to be healthy so I’m going to eat my planned meal,” you are going to eat it.

So you want to toggle between your thoughts and your feelings and your actions as you see your results. And then I want you to give yourself at least three months, and if you practice over and over, you’re going to learn, in the process, that you are sticking to your weight-loss goals.

Now I want to talk about My Favorite Things, and this week, I want to talk about the Paul Newman Organization. Now, Paul Newman was my heartthrob as I was a young woman, and I always admired him and his family. And he created Newman’s Own Foundation, which has actually been around now for 35 years. Paul Newman was kind of a crazy guy, but he had a big heart and he had this salad dressing and he decided he was going to donate 100% of the profits to charity.

So after 35 years, they recently reached this milestone of donating $500 million to help so many charities. And the charity and the work that they do is so profound. I really encourage you to go to Newman’s Own Foundation and look at all the amazing work that they are doing. So thank you for listening to It’s Never Too Late to Lose Weight.

Come on back next week. We’re going to talk about body image, which is so integral to women and to those of us who have struggled with weight all our lives. I’ll see you then; bye-bye

Thanks for listening to this episode of the It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight Podcast. If you liked what you heard and want more, head over to never2late.info/guide, to download your quick start guide to jump start your weight loss plan and begin creating an amazing life you love.

Enjoy the Show?