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How to Do Hard Things

One of the skills that will really serve you in your quest for personal evolution is the ability to do hard things. The ability to do something even when you don’t feel like it.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you will have to do a lot of hard things. That’s just a fact. If losing weight were easy, everyone would be skinny. Losing weight and keeping it off is one of the most difficult things you will ever do. It’s also one of the most important things you will ever do.

So let’s talk about how to do hard things.

Episode Highlights:

10:25 Our brains are not going to evolve as quickly as our environment has evolved. Giving up a pleasure in the moment for the promise of something that will happen in the future is hard. It just is. It's a new concept and it's really quite an advanced skill.

13:36 The more often you tell your brain no, the more it stops hammering at you. So the truth is, if you want to create an amazing future for yourself, you're going to have to get good at doing hard things. And if you want to lose weight and keep it off, there's no magic pill.

16:54 Emotions are brought on by thoughts. So what thoughts are gonna create that emotion for you? What thoughts are going to cause you to feel determined? And perhaps it's something like I can do hard things, bring it on. I love that one. I can do hard things, bring it on, or I'm creating an amazing future for myself. That thought makes me feel determined and resolute and willing to do hard things.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:00):

You are listening to the Keep The Weight Off podcast with Dr. Angela, episode number 51.

Introduction (00:07):

Welcome to The Keep The Weight Off podcast, where we bust all the dieting myths and discover not just how to lose weight, but more importantly, how to keep it off. We go way beyond the food and we use science and psychology to give you strategies that work. And now your host, Dr. Angela Zechmann.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:26):

Welcome everyone. So glad to have you here with us today. Hey Marchelle, how are you doing?

Marchelle (00:32):

I'm doing great. Thank you.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:34):

Awesome. So, well, you know, it's the 19th of January. We are well into year, and this is often the time when things get a little bit dicey with our new year's goals. I almost said resolutions, but I decided I'm not gonna call them resolutions anymore because they get ditched so quickly so often. So I think it's better to think of like goals ways of evolving yourself into someone who's living differently because you have a different image of yourself, a new identity. That's how I like to think about the new year is developing a new identity. And I've talked about this a lot. The new identity is such a huge key to any change that you wanna make in your life. And I think that the weight loss journey is an excellent example of just how it is that you can manifest an entirely different life for yourself.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (01:32):

When you begin to think about yourself differently. Now, what I wanna talk about specifically today is one of the skills that's really, really gonna serve you in your quest for personal evolution on any front. So not just weight loss, but anything is the ability to do hard things. So what I mean is doing something, even when you don't feel like it, right. I mean like, this is, what's like all of us, right? Right. Sometimes we have these, these goals that we wanna meet and we have to actually get up and do the work and we don't feel like it.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:11):

So for example, the ability to sit down and plan your meals in advance, even when you'd rather be doing something else or the ability to get up and exercise in the morning, even when you'd rather be sleeping or for that matter, the ability to turn off your screens and go to bed.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:30):

Even when you'd rather stay up late. That's hard for me. the ability to say no to that glass of wine, with dinner, the ability to say no to the lifesavers, sitting in the candy bowl, on the receptionist desk at the office. So if you wanna lose weight and keep it off, you have to do a lot of hard things. There's just no getting around it. That's just a fact and think about it.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:57):

You know, if losing weight were easy, everyone would be skinny losing weight and keeping it off is one of the most difficult things you'll ever do. And it's also one of the most important things you will ever do. And it's also one of the most transformative things you will ever do. So let's talk about how to do hard things now, because you are a human being., you can imagine and plan for the future.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:25):

Animals can't do this. Animals do not think about the future. Animals are just right there in the present moment. But as humans, we solve problems, we build things. We design things. We make our lives better. And we do this because we have an advanced human brain. However, we also have an animal brain or a primitive brain and our primitive brain can't plan ahead. It doesn't care about the future at all. it? It can't think about the future. It only understands what's happening right now. It, its motivations are all about pleasure in the moment, keeping things comfortable and easy and avoiding pain. That's the primitive triad. Pleasure, seeking pain, avoiding and keeping things comfortable and easy. And I've talked about this in previous podcast before the primitive triad. Okay. So think about this. We've got these two parts of our brains that are sending us different messages all day, every day.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (04:30):

And it's fascinating when you think about it, you know it's kind of interesting to just take a moment and just listen to all these competing desires in your brain. Have you ever just sat down and just listen to it? every day, because if you're every day you're, if you're, and especially if you're like tired or anxious or overwhelmed, you know, that desire for the donut is likely going to win out over that desire for a healthy, vibrant body. Right? Right. So think about it like this. What's required, if we wanna lose weight and keep it off is to follow the guidance of our human planning brain. To ignore the call of our primitive brain for ease and comfort and pleasure in the moment, and to focus on doing what needs to be done in order to create the future that we desire. Now, I want to acknowledge here just how hard it is to stay focused on the future we're creating.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (05:26):

It's really only been recently that this sort of thinking even mattered. And it's interesting because you know, I've been watching a lot of Game of Thrones lately. have you ever watched that Marchelle?

Marchelle (05:38):

I have!

Dr. Angela Zechmann (05:38):

Have you? If any of our listeners haven't heard of it, it's a really popular HBO series that aired from 2011 to 2019. So it was eight seasons long. And my youngest daughter was a huge fan and I was horrified because there's so much violence in this. It's based on a series of books by a man named George R R Martin. And what he said is that he used as his inspiration, the War of the Roses, which occurred in England for 32 years between get this 14 for 55 and 1487. So basically like the middle ages in England, the war of the roses was a civil war in which there was just this near constant jockeying for control over the English Throne.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (06:30):

So that's what Game of Thrones is. It's like this constant jockeying for control over the throne, which now I can't think what they call it, they call it the iron, the iron throne or something. I can't remember now, but what strikes me as I watch this and recognize that it, you know, it's not necessarily historical fiction per it's historical fiction. It's based in what it, what it was like back then, right. But you know, thinking about what it was like, just in that sort of recent human history, how no one was ever safe, like you never had any idea how long you were gonna live. You never knew if you were gonna die from some horrible disease. You never knew what if some waring faction was gonna come in and completely annihilate your village. Like, this is what our human history has been like for the most part up until very recently. And in some parts of the world, things are still very tenuous and people really don't say feel safe even now. And then just for fun, because I like to do do these kinds of things. I went and looked up life expectancy statistics, life expectancy statistics, say that three times fast in 1750. What do you think life expectancy was in 1750? Just guess

Marchelle (07:57):

I would say 35?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (07:59):

  1. You're really close 34. I was, I was thinking maybe it would be in the twenties. I mean, I knew it was pretty low. In 1900, it jumped up to about 48 years, which really that's actually pretty remarkable now, you know, 122 years later it is about 80 years. So we've made major changes in our longevity just in the last hundred years even. And even it just in the last 200 years that the idea of planning for the future and thinking about our future is actually relatively new. Okay. So that's what I want you to understand in the past, nothing was guaranteed. In the past, it made sense to just survive and not worry about the future and in the past, going for pleasurable things when you had that opportunity made perfect sense. Okay. But what about now? Not so much, we've got a lot more pleasure available to us now, and we have a lot more time to suffer the consequences of our pleasure seeking behaviors. So does that make sense?

Marchelle (09:09):

Yeah, definitely makes sense. I was thinking me, I was kind of picturing myself and I'm a, I'm a total cave man. just the way that my brain works.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (09:18):

Well we all are.  

Marchelle (09:19):

Like knuckles dragging on the ground still kinda mm-hmm, kinda cave man brain because I pretty much don't plan for the future and kind of, or I always have, you know, kind of live by the seat of my pants and mm-hmm, not, not make very many future plans now, as I'm getting older, I feel like I'm more settled and more mature maybe. And mm-hmm, you know, I'm starting to think about, you know, like the long haul and especially when it comes to my health, you know, before I, I would, you know, I wouldn't think twice about, you know, drinking a six pack of soda a day mm-hmm and I just could not, I couldn't even conceive of that. I would get sick mm-hmm so, yeah, I mean that's - l've come a log way.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (10:06):

It's funny. There's this, I just was thinking of, of something that I, I don't know if I saw it on Facebook or I just heard it is this old guy saying to a young person, you know, if I'd known, I would've lived this long, I would've taken better care of myself.  

Marchelle (10:22):

Oh yeah, Totally.  

Dr. Angela Zechmann (10:25):

Well, I mean, I just wanna, I just wanna presence that idea because really our brains are not gonna evolve as quickly as our environment has evolved. And so, so giving up a pleasure in the moment for the promise of something that will happen in the future is hard. It just is. Okay. And it's a, it's a new concept and it's really quite an advanced skill. So I just wanna presence that. I think it's, it's important to recognize that the things you need to do, if you wanna lose weight and keep it off are skills that are not easy and that go against everything in your brain. That's calling for primitive survival. Okay. So choosing behaviors that are boring, like the meal planning and the meal, or difficult for the sake of the future, you, this is really hard work. Okay. And at the same time, if we want to create a better future, we must get good at doing hard things. So there was something going around on Facebook recently about choosing hard things. And it said, I don't maybe did you see this Marcelle? It said, marriage is hard and divorce is hard. Choose your hard. . And obesity is hard.

Marchelle (11:48):

I haven't seen that.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (11:50):

Obesity is hard being fit is hard. Choose your hard. And then another one was…

Marchelle (11:56):

that's a good way to look at it.  

Dr. Angela Zechmann (11:57):

Yeah. Being in debt is hard. Being financially disciplined is hard. Choose your hard. And then, you know, at the end it said, life is hard, you know, it just is. Right. So I thought that was really interesting. And it's actually really true.

Marchelle (12:13):

Yeah. Haven't looked at it like that before, but I guess that's yeah. You get one or the other

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:18):

Uhhuh. Yeah. And you know, I was talking to two patients recently in the clinic and they're actually sisters. And so they were in together and they were talking about a podcast that they'd listened to. And on the podcast, a woman was saying, I hate having to tell myself no, when I want something. And she's talking about wanting chips or wanting a donut or whatever it might have been. I just hate having to tell myself no. And she's feeling really sorry for herself, cuz she's telling herself no. But at the same time, she was also beginning to realize that when she said yes to her desires in the moment she was actually saying no to dreams. So the question wasn't what she was saying no to herself about the question was what she was saying yes to herself about. So was she gonna say yes to pleasure in the moment or was she gonna say yes to her dreams? So that's a pretty cool turnaround in thinking don't she think like, what are you gonna say yes to, instead of telling yourself no, no chips right now. Well, what are you saying? Yes to

Marchelle (13:22):

that's I mean, it's, I understand the way of thinking, but in the moment it's really, really hard when your brain is telling you, if you don't have that donut, you're gonna die.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (13:31):

I know mm-hmm the, the great and is is though it gets easier. It gets easier. The more often you tell your brain, no, the more it stops hammering at you. So the truth is, you know, if you wanna create an amazing future for yourself, you're gonna have to get good at doing hard things. And if you wanna lose weight and keep it off, there's no magic pill. You have to learn how to do the boring things and be consistent about it. You have to learn how to plan your meals in advance and stick to your plan. You have to learn how to get through the day without ice cream or a beer or a glass of wine or two at night, you have to learn how to feel and process your emotions without buffering them with food or alcohol. You have to learn how to disappoint people and not feel guilty about it. That's hard. None of this is easy.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (14:26):

So how do you keep yourself motivated to do these hard things? Well, think about it like this. Emotions drive a behavior. So your feeling is going to drive you into doing certain things. So what emotions are gonna drive you to do things, even when they're hard, ask yourself that question. Can you think of think of an emotion that might drive you to do something hard, Marchelle?

Marchelle (14:58):

No. I'm kinda stuck on this one. I, I don't know maybe an emotion I cuz I'm sort - cuz my brain wants to think of a payoff at the end. Yeah. Instead of like an emotion.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (15:10):

Your payoff is gonna be yeah. Your payoff is gonna be your healthy, vibrant body, your healthy, vibrant body.

Marchelle (15:16):

Right. But what gets you there? What emotion gets you there? Mm-Hmm I'm trying to think mm-hmm is determination an emotion.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (15:23):

Yeah. Absolutely. Determination is an emotion being determined, right. Is an emotional state of being like, I am resolute here. I am determined. Maybe it's …

Marchelle (15:37):

Fear of getting diabetes, I guess. I don't know.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (15:39):

Fear of getting diabetes.

Marchelle (15:41):

Yeah. Fear of, you know, becoming unhealthy. That's like my motivator is I I'm in an age now where I'm starting to feel more mortal, you know, before in my, you know, twenties and thirties, I, I was invincible, you know, you don't really think you're gonna mm-hmm get sick or die. Mm-Hmm but says you get older. You are like, wait a minute. Yeah. If I keep doing this. Yeah. You get sick.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (16:01):

Yeah. So the emotion of fear is going to drive behaviors that generally we're gonna go cause you to cower and wanna shrink back. So I think that what you're saying is the thought of ending up in a situation where you have diabetes or some other poor health outcome is causing you to feel determined that that's not gonna happen to you. So I think, I think determined is a good one. I think resolute is a good one. I think excited about the division of yourself is a good one. There are lots of emotions that can really help you drive - committed is a good one - that can really help you to, to drive you to do the hard things. Okay. So then the next question is because emotions are brought on by thoughts, right? So what thoughts are gonna create that emotion for you?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (17:06):

What thoughts are going to cause you to feel determined? And perhaps it's something like I can do hard things, bring it on. I love that one. I can do hard things, bring it on, or I'm creating an amazing future for myself. That thought makes me feel determined and resolute and willing to do hard things. Right. Willing is another. You could, you could feel,

Marchelle (17:36):

Yeah, that's a good one. Mm-Hmm .

Dr. Angela Zechmann (17:38):

So if you practice those kinds of thoughts, they're gonna activate the determination and motivation you need in order to follow through on the actions that feel boring are hard. Okay. Think about it with when somebody's getting ready to run a marathon and you know, every single day or every other day they're getting up and they're going on their run. And they're excited about thinking about themselves, crossing over that finish line. You know, the, the emotions that are driving behavior are feelings of determination and excitement.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (18:15):

And the knowing, you know, that they're doing something that is hard. Right? Right. So when you have those kinds of thoughts that fuel that emotion, they're gonna allow you to just stop when you have that desire for a cookie or a glass of wine and say, Hey, wait a minute. What does this choice mean for the future mean? Okay. So you're, you're actively thinking about and planning the future you. And in the process of doing the hard things, you're actually gonna change yourself. You're gonna evolve. You're gonna get stronger. I always say that the weight loss journey done well is a journey of personal evolution. You'll become empowered in all areas of your life, not just in your health, because when you learn how to do hard things, nothing can stop you. And so you use this journey, this weight, weight loss journey as practice ground for doing hard things and you evolve and it is amazing what can happen. Cool. Huh?

Marchelle (19:21):

That is very cool. Yeah. I always feel like I'm sort of playing devil's advocate when we have these, these talks because - yeah. You know, you're, you're always like the positive, the motivator, you know, to talking about the science and the psychology. And, and in my mind, I, I sit here and say, well, what about you know, this? Or what about that? Cause I know that cause I'm trying to get you, I'm trying to think of like somebody who's does not really know about you know, your program or doesn't, you know, it's just getting started, has not done this ever before. Yeah. And, and so just because, you know, I'm four years into working with you. And so it's worked me kinda sometimes to go back and remember how I was before. Yeah. I knew a lot of the information and but, but also still like, you know, I still struggle and I mean, it doesn't, you know, you can I'm, I mean, I'm around you a lot and I'm in the clinic a lot.

Marchelle (20:18):

And so you would think that, you know, I would, I would have it, have it in the bag by now, but that's a no, that's not the way things work and mm-hmm so, so that being said, you know, I, I know that you know, when you, when you get motivated to first start doing this it's, it's kind of like a pink cloud, you know, I that's, that's what happened with me, you know, as I was really super motivated to get started and everything was brand new and mm-hmm , and, and that was great. And, and, you know, and along with this journey, of course, like you, you have your ups and downs because, you know, it's a learning experience. Mm-Hmm, , you know, always, yeah. I've found that when you have done it one time and then you sort of fall off, which, which is my case, like I've sort of fallen off and I, you know, the holidays sort of got the best of me and I, and I chose to just throw myself into the holidays because I had had a wonderful Christmas and wonderful new year's, but I didn't eat the way I, I, I should have mm-hmm and and so, you know, I've gained some pounds mm-hmm and I'm kind of a hard time, you know, getting motivated again.

Marchelle (21:29):

And I think mm-hmm, that, that happens. I, I listen to our patients talk about that too. Like yeah. They ask me, you know, do, do other people go through this where they do really well. And then they fall off and they have a hard time getting re-motivated. Right. You know, how do, how do you find that motivation and how, you know, how do you get started again? Mm-Hmm and and I, and you noticed talking about, you know, some of the things you just talked about is yeah, I'm doing some deeper work. Yeah. And, you know, digging a little bit deeper, cuz I think that, that might be one of my issues is that there's some things that I, I need to work on. Mm-Hmm and one of those is say not because I I'll say, oh my gosh, that's gonna be so hard. But now what I'm gonna say is, oh my gosh, that's gonna be so hard, but you can do it.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (22:21):

yeah. Like doing hard things, gets you to great places  

Marchelle (22:24):

Right, right. Cause I, I found myself like a lot of time going, it's gonna be so hard. Oh, I mm-hmm I dunno if I could do it, it's gonna be so hard, but, and I'm probably gonna still tell myself that like, oh, it's gonna be so hard, but you can do it. Mm-Hmm Marcelle. So I gotta add like a little,

Dr. Angela Zechmann (22:38):

I can do hard things

Marchelle (22:40):

You can do you're right. Right. So

Dr. Angela Zechmann (22:43):

So yeah, it's hard doesn't mean just because it's hard makes it all the more worth doing . Yeah.

Marchelle (22:48):

The, and the, this is hard it's mm-hmm and it's not something you don't just get cured, you know, just with a weight loss part of it, like you were saying this, you know, this will filter out into all aspects of your life is being able to do hard things and mm. You know, work or, or with whatever. But I do know that this weight loss journey is it's never ending. Yep. It's never ending. It's gonna be a battle. Yeah. And so we do have to learn how to do hard things, cuz it's always gonna be hard.  

Dr. Angela Zechmann (23:18):

well, I want our listeners to know that we're here for you. You can continue to listen to the podcast and join us in Sugar (and flour!) Buster’s Society. If you want more detailed help, we have a membership it's called Empowered Weight Loss and it starts with the 30 day Done With Dieting Bootcamp. So if you are interested in that, just head over to to sign up and we have all sorts of awesome like mini courses there and coaching and all kinds of awesome stuff to help you. We can help you find an accountability partner. And we can, we do private coaching. We do group coaching, we do all kinds of stuff. So it's an awesome program. So just head over to, if you're interested in signing up for that. And Marchelle, did you have anything else you wanted to say?

Marchelle (24:21):

No, I just wanted, I was just thinking, like I had read - i skimmed through the email that you sent me the 30 day done with dining bootcamp and it is awesome if, if you're listening and you really want to do some, some hardcore work and you know, inner work and get a lot of support and this is the program mm-hmm , it's awesome. I'm excited about it.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (24:47):

Yeah. Yeah. We're, we're just, it's just in 30 days you're gonna learn everything that our patients learn and more about how to lose weight and then we're gonna teach you how to keep it off in the membership. So it's awesome. Yeah.

Marchelle (25:03):

You know it's not all about losing weight, that it's about, you know, know there's a lot more to it than that, so yeah, of course you gotta give yourself a chance to, to do the hard work. Yep. And do

Dr. Angela Zechmann (25:14):

Hard things and do hard things. all right. okay. Well that's all we have for today. Everybody. Thank you so much for listening and we will see you again next week. Take care everyone. Bye now.

Marchelle (25:27):

Bye everybody.

Closing (25:28):

Hey, if you really want to lose weight and keep it off for good, your next step is to sign up for Dr. Angela's free weight loss course, where you're going to learn everything you need to get started on your weight loss journey, the right way. Just head over to to sign up. Also, it would be awesome if you could take a few moments and write a review on iTunes. Thanks! And we'll see you in Journey Beyond Weight Loss.

--- End of Transcription ---

Dr. Angela



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