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Episode 9

What’s keeping you from your goals?

Painted stairs

Unlock the real reason you can’t lose weight, stick to working out, or reach other goals.

EPISODE SUMMARY: What in the hell is going on? You want to lose weight. Or you want to get fit. But you just can’t seem to do it. Why not?

Lace-up your sneakers and start your walk to this eye-opening podcast. It’s time to uncover your real motivations and finally open the door to success.

Whether you’re walking for weight loss, your daily step goals, stress relief, or fitness, this is a 40-minute coached walk/podcast of Walking & Talking with Helen.


What’s holding you back from: 

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising
  • Going back to school
  • Changing jobs/careers
  • Traveling
  • and whatever else you want to do?

Is it fear of success? Uncertainty of what’s on the other side of your goal?

Whatever the reason, you’re totally normal. Yup, all of us at some point have diet fails, times we don’t want to work out, or do other things to improve ourselves or our health. Let’s uncover some of these reasons and get you back on track, shall we?

Podcast Transcript

"I know I need to exercise. I know it's really good for me. I just can't seem to do it. I can't get motivated. I can't get started. The doctor said I need to lose weight and I know they're right. I know everything. I know how to do it. It's not that hard, I've done it before. But why can't I do it? I don't understand. Why can't I do it? Do I want to? Or do I not?"

One of the big questions we ask ourselves is, do we really want to do this? Now, we think we want to do whatever it is that our goal is. But do we really want to? Because truthfully, if we really wanted to, wouldn't we have already done it? Have you asked yourself that question? Why? Why can't I do this? I have asked many times. And I found out that I actually didn't really want to do it because I was afraid of what was on the other side of that result, on the other side of that goal.

So whether your goal is to exercise, to lose weight, or even if your goal is to change jobs, write a book, record a song, go back to school, it doesn't matter what it is-- whatever your goal is, whatever you think you really want, you may not actually really want it. And I know you think you do and I think I do, but I'm working on a course right now and I've been working on this course since last fall. So, it's been quite a few months. I've been doing everything else but actually working on the course. Why don't I want to actually launch this course? Because I do want to launch this course. But if I really wanted to launch this course, it would have been launched already.

So, I had to have a talk with myself and find out why. What is motivating me to actually not pull the trigger on it when almost everything is ready? And that's what we're going to talk about today. Why we don't actually do what we think we want to do? 

So why do you think that you don't really start or you don't really finish whatever it is that your goal would be? It's a little bit of a tricky question. Because you know how to do it. You know how to get there. And you've made efforts to do similar things probably in the past. But why can't you do this one thing that's so important to you?

A lot of times, it's just because it's the unknown. It's the change. We don't know what's on the other side of that. Is this something good? Is it something bad? Nobody likes change per se. I like change, but I don't like change. I love to travel. I love the change. But I also don't like the change because it's tiring.

The currency, the language, the transportation system, the grocery shopping, everything is different. Do you know how many times I've bought sour cream in different countries instead of yogurt because I couldn't understand what the label said? Then I get home and it's sour cream. Not quite the same as yogurt. Although I love traveling, those kinds of things are exhausting. So when you're trying to reach your goal, what is it that's keeping you from actually making that change? 

So, let's start with losing weight. Yes, it's hard. You have to cut out certain things. You can still eat some of the things that you like, but you have to make a few sacrifices in order to really lose weight. You have to expend more than you take in. That's the only way to lose weight. It's calories in versus calories out.

You know that. And you know how to do it. You know that you probably shouldn't have four slices of pizza. Maybe you should have one slice of pizza and then maybe some vegetables on the side. But then it comes around to the evening and you're tired. You're thinking about the whole week. You did really good.

You ate really healthy and you exercised, and then you just decide you're going to eat the entire bag of black liquorice. You don't actually set out to eat the entire bag of black liquorice and you might not even like it. I love black liquorice, but the real kind. Like the Panda or the ones from Australia or Scandinavia. So delicious. But then you just start and feel the sense of relief, the sense of protection. You feel the sense of safety. And what really is that about? 

What it's about is that you're not really sure what this change is going to mean to you. How will this change affect your life? What's going to happen? What will be different? What will be the same? Is it going to be harder? Is it going to be easier? We all think it's going to be easier. But actually, it might not be easier. If you have a lot of weight to lose, one thing you're going to battle with is loose skin.

Do you think maybe sometimes that's holding you back in the back of your mind? What is my skin going to look like? How is my body going to look after that? If you have a lot of weight to lose, it's never going to be super tight. So do you think maybe you're sabotaging yourself just because you don't want to face that? And even though the benefits far outweigh the drawback of looser skin, do you think may be in the back of your mind, that's holding you back? 

Another thing that's a big issue with weight loss, especially when you lose a lot of weight, is that the way the opposite sex treats you is completely different. One of the things I actually liked about being overweight and yes, I actually liked it, was that I was invisible to men. They didn't notice me. Or when they talked to me, I was just somebody. And I preferred that. I wanted them to treat me like I was a buddy and not a female. Because I was married and I wasn't interested. And I really felt safe.

When you're the heavy girl, you can be funny. You can be a little bit outrageous. And nobody thinks you're flirting with them, even though maybe you secretly are. But it's so much safer because you have fewer choices and you just feel safer overall. And I know that's a shitty way that life is, and that you feel safer if you're overweight, but it's true. There is some safety in that for you. 

When I lost wait, I started to get a lot more attention from guys, and that was not my goal. I was still married. I wasn't interested in that. I was the same person inside, obviously. I changed in some ways. Stronger inside and out. But I wanted them to treat me the same way. And they didn't. Things started to change and they treated me differently. I became more of a sex object and that's not what I was interested in.

I prefer to be invisible. Invisibility was safe. I could be more myself. Like I said, I could be funny. I could say things and I didn't ever have to worry about someone coming on to me. That was a big shock when I did lose weight and was in really good shape. The way that people treated me, the way guy friends treated me, it was a whole different animal. I was not comfortable or happy about that. So, maybe that's part of your protective mechanism. Maybe that's part of what keeps you from losing weight or keeps you from going to the gym. Because maybe part of you wants to be more "attractive", but are you ready to deal with the consequences that might bring?

There are also a lot of negativities with reaching our goal or with my case, losing weight. And I remember I used to think to myself, if you didn't like me when I was fat, you're not entitled to like me now. Then years later, I ended up dating one of my friends whom I've known for many, many years. I brought this up in a previous podcast. He said, "If you got fat again, I would leave you." And I thought he was joking, but I realized that he actually wasn't joking. I knew him from only when I was thinner and fitter. If I had known him before, he wouldn't have been interested in even being my friend most likely. And that made me really sad because that was so shallow.

I made a big mistake of not sticking with my motto. You're not entitled like me, if you didn't like me then. Because I'm the same person, I'm a good person. Just because the packaging is different and the inside might be a little stronger, I'm still the same person. 

We don't know what's going to happen on the other end, right? If you're married, how is your marriage going to fare? We think it'd be awesome if you had a fitter and thinner spouse. But would that really be awesome? And is that going to be more awesome for your spouse or your boyfriend/girlfriend? And I do know a couple who actually lost weight together before their wedding. I think I'm going to try to get them on the podcast one day. They're so amazing. They did this together. And so, that was a team effort. For their wedding, they had reached their goal and that was pretty amazing. 

But if one person in the relationship changes and the other person doesn't, it's not always for the best. And so, you got to think about that. Maybe you're not processing that in your mind, but maybe it's in the back and it's telling you something. It's telling you, what if this happens? What if they get jealous? What if they don't like it?

The same thing applies to exercise. Because you're going workout hard. You're going to get a six pack. You're going to get buff. And then what's going to happen? Do you still have to keep up that level of intensity and exercise to keep the results that you got? Are you willing to do that? It's a lot of work and it's fine to get there. But can you maintain it? Maybe that's also weighing on the back of your mind. It's fear of success more than anything. Because success has upsides and downsides. All successes have that. And so, maybe you just are thinking about that. Okay, maybe I'll look really great in a bikini, but am I still willing to go to the gym X amount of days a week? Am I still willing to not eat this and not eat that? That's where you got to find the balance for you. 

I've never been after a six pack nor can I have a six pack because of the extra skin. But I wasn't willing to work that hard and I wasn't willing to keep that level of effort up for years and years. Because I just want balance and I want to be healthy. And I just want to have a decent life that I enjoy. If you want to get a raise at work and you're thinking, oh, that would be great. I can make extra money. But then maybe that job includes a promotion, which is great. But not if you're suddenly managing people because maybe that's not what you want to do. 

I remember years ago, I read an article about a journalist who kept saying no to his promotions. They wanted to promote him to an editor position. He didn't want it because he didn't want to be responsible for other people. He didn't want to do paperwork. All he wanted to do was write. And so, he kept turning the promotions down and nobody could understand because he wasn't in it for the money. He wasn't in it for the prestige. He just wanted to write and he wanted to keep his job. He didn't want to babysit people. So, maybe you haven't really put yourself out there for that promotion or that new position or the new job somewhere, because you just don't want to change what you're doing. And that's okay. Because if you like what you're doing, you should stay with it.

I have a really amazing niece who works at one of the big amusement parks. And she's been there for a really long time and she loves her job. She tells me, "I can't imagine not working there. I really look forward to going to work!" And other people asking her, "Well, do you think you should maybe get a different job? You're 30 some years old now." And she's like, "But I really like to go to work every day and I'm really happy." Why should she go get a corporate job where she's not going to be happy for a little bit more money when she actually looks forward to getting up to go to work every day? And how many of us do that? So maybe that's why you haven't tried to get a different job or a different position. 

Going back to school is another one of those deals. It'd be great to go back to school, you get a degree, you can change jobs. But changing jobs and changing careers, you have to start at the bottom and you have to start on a whole different playing field. That's a whole different place. And so, maybe you really don't want to go there. We all like the idea of a different job, different career, prestige, but we don't necessarily want all that change that goes along with it. Because we're really programmed and conditioned to not like change.

Because change is uncomfortable. No matter how you do it, change is uncomfortable. But change is the only thing that really helps you grow and really makes life extra special. It's like the secret sauce of life. ♩Changes♩. David Bowie. 

Change is good. Change is also uncomfortable. And maybe you should take that magical notebook that I've been nagging you about. And I hope you have it. I actually bought a new one at Target on clearance for like $4. It's really cute. And I also bought these little post-it sticky dividers, so I'm going to separate things out so I can have all my notes in one place instead of a thousand different places or different notebooks. So, write down in your notebook. What your goal is and why you think that you're not doing it?

Why aren't you going for it? What is holding you back? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of the change in the process? Or are you afraid of succeeding? 

I was afraid of succeeding for many years. And sometimes, maybe I still am. Sometimes, maybe in my mind, I just put myself at a certain level and I won't let myself go higher for some reason. And that requires some introspection and talking to yourself about it. I talk to myself a lot.

Why would you be afraid of succeeding? Well, with weight loss, we brought up those issues. And there's probably more where that comes from. A lot of times we're told that we can't have carbs, we can't have this, we can't have that. Then we'd fall for that. And then we don't want to put in the effort. Because yeah, you could maybe eat this way for a week or two weeks, in my case, three days, but can you do that for a lifetime? 

And so maybe you think, well, why bother? Why should I bother when I'm just going to have to sacrifice so much? I don't want to do that. And so, you need to find a weight loss method that works for you, that you can stay with. That really helps you feel better, healthier and stronger, but that doesn't make you all crabby and cranky. What's the point then if you're going to be crabby and cranky, but you look amazing? Who cares if you're a nasty ass bitch person? Nobody wants to be with you. That's pointless. 

So you want to find a weight loss method or diet, where you can incorporate some of the stuff that you like. And yeah, if you want to lose weight faster, then you need to be a little bit stricter. And I talked about that in my book, '21 Days to Change Your Body', which is not about changing your body in 21 days. It's about changing your mind and changing some of your habits, which when done long-term will lead to results. But if you want to do it faster, you will have to be stricter and you will have to give up a lot more and do a lot more.

If you want to make it almost painless, just make those little changes. And allow herself a little bit here and there whether it's a glass of wine or whether it's a piece of chocolate. Because that way, you're more apt to succeed. Because long-term, you can live like that. You don't have to restrict everything.

I want you to think about one goal. I know we probably have many goals and you probably have different goals like me, but pick one goal that's really important to you and ask yourself why you haven't done it yet. What is keeping you from actually doing it? 

The fear of success is real. We have a fear of failure. But we also have a fear of success. I wrote a blog post about that many years ago. Actually, I think it was one of the first blog posts I wrote on my blog way back in 2007 or 2008. And it was called 'Fear of success'. I used to always consider myself a loser, a failure. And I started to smash through all these things I never thought I could do before. And I've done a lot of really cool things since I lost weight. It wasn't about losing the weight. It was about me stopping to use my weight as an excuse to not do things, because I didn't expect anything of myself when I was a certain way, because it was a lot. I couldn't do and I could just settle in. I was in a whole boat of feeling sorry for myself. I was in a victim mode. And the weight was just a representation of that. As I've said in previous episodes, I didn't know how to handle stress and I would eat my stress. I was in a bubble, like in a catch 22 where I couldn't move forward because this was hindering me.

And it wasn't really true. I finally realized that I can do this and this and this. And a lot of times we put these fake obstacles out for ourselves. Have you noticed that when you're listening to different motivational shows or the psychologist on a radio, someone will say something and then they'll give some advice? The person's always coming up with excuses and reasons why they can't do it. And yeah, some of them are valid excuses or reasons, but most of them can be overcome. They're so desperate to come up with these excuses because it will keep them from having to make the change.

And again, there's nothing wrong with that. You're where you are, where you need to be at a certain point in your life. Everybody has seasons in their lives. You're in a certain season and you want to be in a different season. But you're just not ready to be in that season yet. If you make the steps and do the groundwork, then when your season comes around, you'll be ready to go.

Maybe you're just not ready. Because if you really wanted to, you would do it. You would find a way to do it. Because people who really want to do something, they find a way. And you're just not in that season right now. That's okay. Because I know you really want to, and I think I really want to. But I don't really want to, and you don't really want to. Because then we would have already done it.

And that's true for almost everything. There are always options. There are ways around things. And that's what I find so exciting in life. I actually look for obstacles and try to find a way around them. Because there are solutions, there are options. They're not optimal all the time and they're not the options and choices that you want, but making those choices and those steps may get you to where you want to be in the long run.

So, think about that. Write that in your notebook. What is the goal that you're trying to reach? What is the reason why you think you can't reach that goal? And then give yourself a bunch of excuses. It's okay. Give me the excuses. They're okay and they're valid for where I am in my life right now. Write them down and then see if you can come up with your own objections to those excuses. It's almost like you have to overcome your own objections.  

Think about overcoming your own objections. Now, many years ago, I was in sales and I was the worst. Because I can't sell anything. I'm not interested in selling things. If someone's interested in what I have, great. Let's do it. And they were trying teach me how to overcome people's objections.

I was terrible. I only sold one membership and that was to my future husband. We were already roommates. I brought him in and I sold him a full price membership. Because that was the only person I could sell. But overcome your own objections. And think about it like you're a third party and you're looking at the list of objections that this person wrote. Find a way to overcome those objections. Because you'll see, there are ways and options. 

Give yourself the problem, then look at them from a third-party view. Or even better, if you have a friend that you trust, ask them what they would do in that situation or how they would overcome it. Because sometimes they just need to ask other people like, how would you solve this?

And do you really want to change? Well, sometimes it's easier to stay where you are. And again, that is okay. It's okay to stay where you are. The most important thing is if you stay where you are and you want to stay there, you don't complain about it. You accept that this is where you are, and this is the way you want to stay. It's okay not wanting a six pack. It's okay to be 20, 30, 40 pounds overweight. If you exercise and you eat mostly healthy to a point, it's okay. If you're healthy, it doesn't matter. 

You just want to be where you want to be, but not tell yourself you want to be somewhere else. Because I can tell you now that virtually 99% of my problems were ones that I created for myself. And then I couldn't overcome because I didn't really want to. Remember one time I told somebody who was complaining all the time? Just problem after problem after problem. And I said, “Bring me a solution.” If you have an issue with this, then don't just complain about it. None of my solutions are good enough. You bring me a problem with the solution. And then we can talk about how to make that better. 

No matter what it is that you're doing, are you going to be able to get over that hurdle? Can you lose weight? Can you get back in shape? Can you take those classes? Can you change your job? Can you go back to school? Can you have kids? Can you do whatever it is that you want to do? 

There is always a way. I have done so much with my life since I lost weight. And again, it's not about losing the weight. I was actually rediscovering who I used to be. I lost a big part of myself, but I let it happen. And I lost myself. Nobody else made me lose myself. Once I got myself back, I did all these pretty amazing things. I just look back at that now when I think about that woman who was trapped inside the other woman. I couldn't be myself for some reason. 

And it was easier. It was so much easier not to be myself. Because I'm the kind of person who is always looking to do something new, thinking of new things, ways of doing things and new adventures. And it's like a big whirlwind in my head because there's so much to do and there are so many possibilities. So when I wasn't doing that, it was so much easier. Because I would just focus on my work, focus on raising the kids, focus on complaining about my life. And every day was Groundhog Day.

Was I happy? No. But I let myself be in that situation. So, are you not changing because you really don't want to? Or you're not changing because you don't know what's on the other side of the change? Or are you not changing because it's just easier to stay where you are? It is easier. And again, that's okay.

There's nothing wrong with it. Don't let anybody tell you there's something wrong with you if you're wanting to stay where you are. Just be honest with yourself. That's the most important thing. Because if you're honest with yourself, then you'll be so much happier. Because you'll realize that you don't have to reach for goals that you think you should have, because you don't want those goals. Don't do those goals then. Just find something that makes you happy. 

I took my very first spin class and I wrote about that. That was like a horror nightmare. I was still 50 pounds overweight and my pants were slippery. Oh my God. My legs were so tired. My legs were shaking. I got off the bike and I felt this little spark inside me just reignite.

That's why I named the non-profit that I founded as 'Reignite'. Because it's about reigniting people. It helps women gain skills to re-enter the workforce that have been gone for a while. But I felt that the pilot light inside me got bigger. It relit me from the inside.

Later, I bought a bicycle. I did cycling. I went on a disastrous trip up the mountain. A friend of mine and I went to Mexico. We bicycled from Rosarito and Ensenada. We made it across the finish line. It was 50 brutal miles. 

Then I started writing for a magazine in Los Angeles. And then I accidentally got myself into doing photo shoots at rock concerts and photo shooting rock stars. Then I started doing reviews of hotels and restaurants. Completely crazy, right? It's like this whole world opened up to me.

A world of stuff I hadn't even thought about. Then I designed a line of shirts. This is all being a single mom with no child support alimony, raising kids and trying to work with the clients I had. I was born again in a good way. Because I let myself out of that box I created for myself. I designed inspirational bracelets, then I wrote a book. Later on, I wrote another book. Before that, I got certified to teach spinning and became a personal trainer.

Then I traveled for six months. I went to Thailand. Later on, I went as a digital nomad. I took the kids, we packed up and we just left after my daughter graduated high school. And we traveled around on a really tight budget. 

I just felt like the whole world was open with ideas. The last year and a half or so, it's kind of a little bit flat again. This course I was talking about, I know I can help people and I've got all the tools. I've got everything, but yet I'm not pulling the trigger on it. Why not?

I started this podcast, which was really exciting for me. I have to finish the third book that I'm working on. I have all these healthy recipes. This healthy recipe eBook that I started and I pretty much finished it last October. All I had to do was edit the book and put up a sales page. It's an awesome eBook with cooking hacks and all the other stuff. And I didn't do it from October till March. Really, what's keeping me back? I think it's because I don't know how to build a sales page and I don't understand that part of it. I think I've put up this wall of resistance, but I can figure it out. I designed websites also. I could figure that out, right? So, you could figure it out too. If it's something you really want, you could figure it out. 

There are Facebook groups you can join and ask questions. Some people will be snarky, but some people will give you really good answers. And there are a lot of possibilities out there. Think about when we were younger, unless you're really young, you've always had Google. But we didn't have Google. We didn't even have computers. We had to go to the library. And now we have everything at our fingertips. There's really no reason that we can't move towards our goals. And even if you make a micro snail's pace, you're going towards your goal. 

The one big regret I have is not finishing college. And I've told people if you took one class a semester, even if it took you 15, 20 years, you would actually have a degree instead of looking back and saying, "I never finished college." I wish I would have done that. Because most people can afford one class a semester, even if it's community college and maybe online. And you have a degree already. Because time goes by whether you do something about it or not. Just save $20 a month. I wish I would have started some of these things earlier with baby steps. When I say one pound a week, it's 52 pounds in a year. And yeah, we don't want to wait a year. But 10 years go by and you're still waiting.

So, figure out what your goal is. Figure out why you're not doing your goal. Ask yourself do you really even want this goal? And then find out a way to slowly make it happen. Very slowly. Just do something every week or every month solely towards your goal.  

If you want to jump over to my blog, it's realworldweightloss.com. Or join my Facebook group, you can find it on the blog. That will be really cool because then you can help me, help other people. It's like a synergistic effect. You say you like my podcast; other people listen to it and then maybe they go read my blog and life is a happy harmonious.


Helen is an author, entrepreneur, certified personal trainer, and lifestyle coach. She lost over 80 pounds and kept it off for 16 years. She loves travel, chocolate, and cats.