Episode 116 Summary
Happy New Year everyone!
Resolutions VS Intentions:
New Year's Resolutions tend not to be too resolute. A resolution is often focusing on the end point or your ultimate goal, for example:
“I will quit smoking”,
“I will lose weight”, or
“I will get fit”.
An intention is different. An intention is having a plan. Having an intention is about working on true change, changing your identity, becoming the person that you want to be. Instead of “I am going to lose weight” you can set an intention to be a person who eats healthily and takes care of your body. You can choose to be a person who cultivates joy through movement and nourishes your body with exercise. Intentions have to have a plan attached to them. The plan has to be specific and doable.
Another difference between resolutions and intentions is that resolutions are wispy, dreamy, magical imaginings. More like an announcement with no real thought on HOW it’s going to happen or when or why. Setting an intention with concrete plans makes an intention very purposeful and leads to it becoming an actuality. It can feel very confronting putting actionable steps into place because it makes the intention real. The making and keeping of intentions which will result in real and lasting change is easier with the right support.
For many people, parts of their lives are very difficult or chaotic and when life's tough, we want to run away. It can feel like we just want to strip everything from that old difficult, chaotic life and invent a new life. And that's often what people hope for at New Year's. Their brain suggests in a very reasonable story, that this is an opportunity to just discard their old life and transform their entire life, so that their new life looks completely different to their current life, which is very enticing, but is really unlikely to result in actually any change. It's just magical fantasy thinking.
Setting intentions with an actionable plan, you ultimately will end up with something far more beautiful than a meaningless fantasy. You end up with real change. And you end up with the things in life that are actually important.
Focus on Gaining Health and Vitality, with Weight Loss as a potential Side Effect:
At Real Life Medicine our focus is not just on weight loss for weight loss's sake. You don't need to lose weight to fit into a societal norm of what beauty is. You don't need to lose weight to be acceptable to other people. And you may decide for yourself that you don't need to lose weight at all. You're the boss of you. You can do whatever you want. We have a core focus on teaching people to make the changes that will actually bring you real health. And for the majority of people who do that, there is a very happy side effect of weight loss. Focusing on the process of gaining health and vitality, both physical health and mental health is a huge emphasis on what we do. When you focus on the process of gaining physical and mental health and vitality, life becomes more enjoyable. It becomes more free. And also, you lose weight.
A helpful lesson from James Clear: “The goal is not the point”.
Weight loss might be your goal, but if you focus purely on weight loss, and you're willing to do whatever it takes to get that weight loss, weight loss at any cost, you can damage your health, damage your metabolism with calorie restriction. You can traumatise your beautiful brain through the focus on diet culture and the diet industry by hyperfocusing on the goal at any cost. As James Clear stated: The goal is not the point.
Let us explain why, “The goal is not the point.”
You may have a goal of, “I want to be lighter. I want to be healthier.” You're much more likely to get to your goal, if you enjoy the process, and if you can enjoy the journey. This is very important.
The goal is the buried treasure. You're on a beautiful desert island and you're there and you want to find buried treasure. You really, really do. That is why you're there, and you're determined to find it. You've got this treasure map to guide you and there are lots of clues and puzzles to solve. You want the treasure, but if every single moment of every single day you feel completely angry and disheartened that you haven't got the treasure yet and you're not enjoying yourself at all, you're probably going to give up, tear up the treasure map and go home believing this was stupid. However, if you're there on the desert island, and you're walking around, and you're looking at the map, and you're enjoying the process, and looking at the beautiful turtles and enjoying the puzzles and the scenery. Enjoying the moment, you're far more likely to stick to the plan, keeping your goal in mind, and you're far more likely to eventually get that buried treasure. Enjoying your life and enjoying the process, you are far more likely to succeed.
This is why “The goal is not the point.”
Goals are important. They're like your compass, and they give you direction, but it is essential that you enjoy the journey:
Appreciate the process, and celebrate your little wins along the way, and you’ll be much more likely to reach your goal.
Remember: “The thing which you do to lose the weight is the same thing that you do to maintain it.”
Keep this in mind. If, in order to reach your goal, your chosen process is hard - maybe you're hungry, or it’s cumbersome - maybe you're having to count every single thing, weigh every single thing, log every single thing - maybe you are relying on a meal delivery service, and can only eat that particular food. If the plan you are following is hard, you need to remember that in order to maintain your goal after you reach it, you will need to continue this plan for the rest of your life. A perfect way to reframe this:
The person who stopped smoking doesn't suddenly start smoking again, after 100 days because they reached their goal of being smoke free for 100 days. Their goal was to become a nonsmoker. It's the same really, if you're wanting to lose weight. The way you do it is to become a health focused person. And so as a health focused person, you do that all the time. You don't have to be perfect. But you really have to embrace that idea that the thing you do to lose the weight is the same thing that you do to maintain it.
Find a process that is fun and sustainable. It doesn't have to be arduous. A fun, enjoyable plan with lots of tools to help you manage your beautiful mind is absolutely the key.
A common thought mistake: Things have to be perfect:
Many people find themselves trapped by this thought process. “I can't start my healthy intentions now, because in two weeks time, I've got a birthday party, and I'm definitely going to eat and drink, etc.” There will probably always be birthday parties. There is no perfect time to start. The perfect time doesn't exist. It's a total illusion. The best time to start is now.
This month in our Inner Circle Momentum group, our challenge is called “Reflect for Success”:
This is a wonderful challenge for January, and it’s not too late to join! If you're listening to this, jump in! We are going to take a great big bird's eye view of your life and help you to make doable, actionable plans, so that your goals stop just being pipe dreams in your head, and become real achievements. We want you to reach the end of the year and celebrate all of the things you have done.
When you think that you should do something or you think that you want to do something, and you don't do it, this creates regret. Avoid that regret just by making a plan. If you are interested in joining momentum, we only open momentum in December and January to the general public. For the rest of the year, it's only open if you've done the 12 week Mind Body Rebalance, which is of course coming up in not very long, actually at the start of February. So if you want to get a head start, join Momentum!
Remember that the making and keeping of intentions which result in real change is MUCH easier with the right support.
Click here to read more about our Inner Circle Momentum Program:
Episode 116 - Momentum in the New Year
Dr Mary Barson: (0:11) Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr. Mary Barson.
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:15) And I'm Dr. Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. Good morning, lovely listeners and good morning to you gorgeous Dr. Mary! How are you today, gorgeous?
Dr Mary Barson: (0:31) Ah, hello, Dr. Lucy, I'm, I'm good. I'm good. It's January. And even though I understand that it is simply a story in my head, I do get excited and have that added January motivation to get cracking with my goals and intentions..
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:55) Yes! It's interesting, isn't it? I mean, we all do it. It's that fresh slate concept that we've talked about before. You suddenly go “Yes, I'm just going to start.” It's like all the - and I’m using air quotes here - “The sins of the past have been absolved. And I can now start anew”.
Dr Mary Barson: (1:10) Yep, it's totally artificial, but it's alluring and seductive and I do find myself pulled into it. And I hope that I am pulled into the lovely lustre of January in an adaptive way, and not a maladaptive way. I nearly have been pulled in, in a maladaptive way, which I'll talk about a bit later.
Dr Lucy Burns: (1:34) Absolutely. Well, I guess to keep on topic of New Year's resolutions, it's, of course, what we're going to talk about today. And we have spoken about it before, surprisingly, last New Year. But I think it's always a great topic to revisit. And we've spoken about it, we've written blogs about it, and we discuss it at length with our members - about the difference between a resolution and an intention. So I would love to hear your thoughts on this stuck to Mary. And then when you've done that I've got a little story to share.
Dr Mary Barson: (2:12) Yeah, resolutions. Well, they don't tend to be too resolute is one problem. But a resolution is often focusing on the end point, I will quit smoking, I will lose weight, you know, I will suddenly journal every day and eat dinner with my family at the table every day, even though you know those things aren't happening in December. Haha, for example. An intention is different. An intention is having a plan. An intention is working on true change, true change, changing your identity, becoming the person that you want to be. It's not “I’m going to lose weight”. It is, “I am going to be a person who eats healthy and takes care of my body” or “I am going to be a person who cultivates a joy of movement and nourishes my body with exercise”. And it has to have a plan attached to it. And the plan has to be specific and doable. What do you think, Lucy, how else would you delineate the intention from a resolution?
Dr Lucy Burns: (3:42) Yes, I think you're absolutely right. I mean resolutions people, you know, you think about it for a couple of minutes. And don't we all trot out the same ones? I'm gonna lose weight, I'm gonna exercise, I'm gonna go to bed early. I'm gonna… Yeah, I love that one that you said - eat dinner with my family at the table - because that's not happening in our house either. And that's it. It's more like an announcement. And there's no real thought on how that's actually going to happen or, or when or why or, you know, I guess the plan. Now, some of our listeners will know that you and I went away in early December to a planning, I was going to say weekend but it was actually midweek. A couple of days planning with our beautiful Business Coach. And this was a whole day activity. And basically it was like a big helicopter view of your life. And interestingly, this is what we are doing with our members in momentum this month. So if this interests you, stay tuned. But what it was was being able to actually look at all the parts of your life and reflect on the bits that you're happy with. And you know, give yourself a little high five for that because we're always, you know, we get a tick, “Done! Good! Moving on.” But then really having a look at the bits that you're not happy with, and why aren't you happy with them? And what are you going to do about them. And it doesn't necessarily have to be that you're unhappy with it, but just maybe that you would like it to be a bit better.
(5:17) So, of course, like a lot of these things, there was a section on family. And for me, my girls are now young adults, and they're off exploring the world. And, you know, which may be just a couple of suburbs away, but either way, they don't actually need my attention like they did when they were little. So you know, and the women that were in this business group, were often talking about their little kids, and you know, how they want to be more present and those things and that was wonderful, but I thought, well, actually, my, my girls don't actually, you know, they're stilllike attention, but they don't need my attention that much. And I was then having a think about my dad, who is in his 80s, and like me, has muscular dystrophy, but his has really progressed in the last few years. And he now has a lot of difficulty getting out of the house. And so it's so easy to get busy and caught up in life and go, “Yeah, well, I must go see, Dad, I must do this”. And you kind of have a vague idea about it, but it never actually happens. So in our planning day, I've made a plan for it. And I can tell you all now because Christmas will be passed, and he will have got his present. Not that I think he actually listens to my podcast, but just in case he did. So what I've done is I have bought a chess board because he likes to play chess, and I am rubbish at chess, although I know the basics. And I've thought, right, well, what I'm going to do is schedule, what I have done is schedule, every second Monday, I'm going up to his place, we're going to carve out a couple of hours. We're going to drink coffee and play chess. And it'll be wonderful. And if I didn't make it very purposeful, it would just be one of those jobs. It's not a job, but one of those things that gets put on the jobs list, and gets put down the priority and it never happens. So for me, that's the idea of a well, you know, everyone's a boss of everyone. So you can do whatever you want. But for me, this is the idea of how a resolution becomes an intention becomes an actuality.
Dr Mary Barson: (7:32) Yes. I love that. Lucy, I love how you've made it really specific and doable. And you've set it up, you've, you've bought the chessboard, you've done the plan, and you've made the time and you've carved out the time. I found doing that exercise with our fabulous business coach, the wonderful Tina Tower, really useful. And interestingly, when it got down to when we had to do the nitty gritty and actually, you know, figure out how is this rubber going to hit the road? And how are you actually going to work towards your goal? I found it interestingly confronting. And I often do this when I'm breaking down my goals into the short, doable, actionable steps that I need to take to achieve my goal. And finding room for them in my life and figuring out how I'm going to do them. It suddenly makes it very real. And a lot of the dopamine kind of wears off by this time because it isn't a nice little just imagining you having dinner with your family at the table every day or just you imagining yourself in some beautiful ethereal state of perfect health. You're actually like, “Right, so before I get my daughter from singing lessons, I'm really gonna have to bring my sneakers and go for that run”. And just imagining like the day to day, actual… It's not drudgery. Drudgery is absolutely the wrong word! But the day to day actual actions and the sustained effort that you need to do. It's beautiful, and it's wonderful. And it gets you to where you need to go. But it isn't necessarily all fun and visualisation boards and dopamine.
Dr Lucy Burns: (9:19) Yeah, absolutely. And I think for a lot of people, there'll be parts of their lives that are very difficult or chaotic, and we tend to, when life's tough, we want to run away. We'll do a whole 180. It's almost like we just want to strip everything from that life and invent a new life. And that's often what people do at New Year's. They're suddenly, it's like their brain thinks, “Oh good I've got an opportunity to just ditch the old me and do the new me” and so that that life looks completely different to their current life, which is very enticing, but is really unlikely to result in actually any change. It's just magical fantasy thinking.
Dr Mary Barson: (10:03) Yes. So during that exercise, my magical fantasy thinking was rudely ripped out of my hands, which is possibly what we do to our members quite a lot when we do goal setting. And when we get them to make short term goals and when I made my own short term goals, but ultimately, you end up with something far more beautiful, than a meaningless fantasy. You end up with real change. And you end up with the things in life that are actually important, like time with your dad.
Dr Lucy Burns: (10:36) Yeah, absolutely. It was interesting, our last coaching call was back in December now. I did a gratitude exercise. We don't do those very often. It's, you know, it's something that I know people are aware of, and there's lots of science on it. And we could do a whole podcast episode on it. But, you know, all of these women all went round. And I'd say 98% of their discussion was around two themes, and one was health. So they're grateful for the improvement in their health. And the other one was connection. So whether it's connection with their family, their friends, their RLM, community, their pets, all the things, and it was beautiful. And I think that, you know, they're the sorts of things that we often want to improve when we realise that we take them for granted until they're not there.
Dr Mary Barson: (11:31) Yes, yes. And they are the things that really, truly bring meaning to our life.
Dr Lucy Burns: (11:39) Absolutely. I know. And we can get caught up, you know, with the commercialization of life, of course. Particularly, we've just had Christmas, which is, you know, all about gifts and possessions and spending lots of money on things. But I think the idea, I know that everybody knows, in theory, that's what we should be doing, focusing on our health and focusing on connection, but it comes back to that. All right. We all agree, that's wonderful. How are you actually going to do it?
Dr Mary Barson: (12:11) Yeah, yep, it is. It's the how. It is all about the how. Knowing what you want to do. Even knowing why you want to do it is useful. But you have to know how, you know, how do you make the changes that you want, and live the life that you want?
Dr Lucy Burns: (12:27) Absolutely.
Dr Mary Barson: (12:29) Which is everything about our Real Life Medicine, Inner Circle is about the how, and finding the how.
Dr Lucy Burns: (12:35) Yes, absolutely. And I think one of the things I'd love to just bring up at the moment. People's Facebook feeds, Instagram feeds, television, are all going to be bombarded with ads about weight loss. It becomes this sole focus, because you know, and it'll be, you know, New Year New You. And they'll be people offering all sorts of things. And for some people, there will be helpful tools. But I guess for us, our focus at Real Life Medicine is not just on weight loss for weight loss's sake. You don't need to lose weight to fit into a societal norm of what beauty is. You don't need to lose weight to be acceptable to other people. And in fact, you know, if you don't want to, you don't need to lose weight at all. You're the boss, you can do whatever you want. I guess for us, it is more this focus on doing the changes that will actually bring you real health. And for the majority of people who do that, there is this side effect of weight loss.
Dr Mary Barson: (13:44) Yes. A happy side effect. Yeah, which we love. That's right. And it is focusing on the process of gaining health and vitality, both physical health and mental health is a huge emphasis on what we do. And when you do that, your life becomes more enjoyable, it becomes more free. And also, you lose weight. Well, most people certainly will lose weight as they improve their health. And it is an idea inspired by James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, I think is where I read this idea, or at least partially got this idea from him, you know, I don't want to plagiarise anyone's ideas here, about that the goal is not the point. So weight loss might be your goal. And if you focus purely on weight loss, and you're willing to do whatever it takes to get that weight loss, weight loss at any cost, you could probably quite damage your health, you know, damage your metabolism with calorie counting. You could certainly damage your poor beautiful brain as you go through the trauma of the diet industry. And that's just focusing on this goal no matter what. The goal is not the point. If you've got this goal of, “Yeah, I want to be lighter. I want to be healthier.” You're much more likely to get to your goal, if you enjoy the process, and if you can enjoy the journey. And it's like, the goal is the buried treasure.
(15:12) You're on this beautiful desert island and you're there and you want to find this treasure, you really, really do. Like, that's why you're there, and you're gonna get this treasure. And you've got this treasure map that's kind of helping you, there's lots of clues of things you need to do to try and figure it out, you want the treasure, but if you every single moment of every single day are just completely angry and disheartened that you haven't got the treasure yet. And it's not fair. It's not the treasure and you're not enjoying yourself at all, you're not looking around at all, you're probably going to give up because you’re gonna tear up the treasure map and go home and say “This is stupid!”. However, if you're there on the desert island, and you're walking around, and you're looking at the map, and you're enjoying the process, and looking at the beautiful turtles and enjoying this whole process, you're far more likely to stick to the plan, far more likely to stick to it, keep your goal in mind, and you're far more likely to eventually get that buried treasure. So two things are happening, you're actually enjoying your life, you're enjoying the process, and you're more likely to succeed. So the goal is not the point. Goals are important. They're kind of like your compass, the direction that you're moving. But if you can't enjoy the journey, and you can't appreciate the process, and you can't celebrate your little wins along the way, then you're unlikely to get to your goal.
Dr Lucy Burns: (16:28) Absolutely. And lots of people may have heard me say this before, but the thing you do to lose the weight is the same thing that you do to maintain it. So if you are doing a process that is hard, where you're hungry, and cumbersome, maybe you're having to count every single thing, weigh every single thing, log every single thing. Maybe it's fixed, you know, it's a meal delivery service, and you know, you can only eat that particular food. If there are processes that are hard, for whatever reason, well, you need to do this process, really for the rest of your life.
The person who stopped smoking doesn't suddenly start smoking again, after 100 days because they reached their goal of being smoke free for 100 days. Their goal was to become a nonsmoker. It's the same really, if you're wanting to lose weight, yeah, okay, that might be your goal. But the way you do it is to become a health focused person. And so as a health focused person, you do that all the time. You know, again, you don't have to be perfect. But you really have to embrace that idea that the thing you do to lose the weight is the same thing that you do to maintain it. So therefore finding a process that is fun, because you know, it doesn't have to be arduous. Fun, enjoyable with lots of tools to help you manage your beautiful mind is absolutely the key. Yes.
Dr Mary Barson: (18:07) But Lucy, I mean, you know, this podcast has been published on January 3rd. So isn't it, it's too late, isn't it? January's already started. It's too late to set some healthful intentions for 2023? <laughter>
Dr Lucy Burns: (18:23) Absolutely, you'll have to wait until 2024 now sorry, you've missed the boat.
Dr Mary Barson: (18:28) <laughter> I got pulled into this thought mistake, that you know that things have to be perfect that you know, you can't. I'll tell you about my example. In a minute. It's pretty mild, but it is still pretty funny that people can feel like well, look, I can't start my healthy intentions now, because in two weeks time, I've got a birthday party, and I'm definitely going to eat and drink, blah. So you know, it's just, I can't do it! Because there's that there. Well, I can tell you, there's always going to be birthday parties, well, at least there's probably always gonna be birthday parties. There is no perfect time to start. The perfect time doesn't exist. It's a total illusion. The best time to start is just now. I have some intentions in other spheres in our life in which we, you know, find harder than others. For me, it's organisation. I'm a functional adult, I really am. I've got several degrees. I you know, run a business. I'm a doctor, I'm, I'm not, you know, completely hopeless. But my goodness me I could be more organised. I really could. And one thing that I have decided to do is to try it this particular planning system that I've looked at, and I think it will work with the way that my brain works, though, at this particular planner the way that I can, you know, just do a big brain dump each day and then I can take that information. I can prioritise it and order it. I just think that with some sustained effort this particular planner will be really useful for me, and I ordered it on Amazon, and for some reason my order got rejected. I'm not sure why. Then I got busy. And by the time I got around to ordering it again, I said, “Great, wonderful. That'll arrive on January 10”. And I was like, PFFT! Cancel order! I can't do that, I can't have this planner if I'm starting on January 10. That's 10 days that I won't have it. That's not okay. And I was in a bit of a huff about it. And then I just took a little moment to sort of think about my thoughts. They're a bit of metacognition. And I was like, No, Mary, that's actually fine. Just ordered the stupid planner. And so I did. And I'll get it on January 10th. Hopefully.
Dr Lucy Burns: (20:45) Absolutely. Because, you know, and this feeds into that other concept that we've talked about of the gap in the game. See, this planner will arrive on January 10, which gives you 355 days to use it, right. But your brain was focused on the 10 days that it can’t.
Dr Mary Barson: (21:02) Yes, that's right. That's right.
Dr Lucy Burns: (21:06) We are funny creatures. Humans are funny creatures. And you know what, there are so many similarities, there's so many ways that we think about things that are ultimately potentially unhelpful, and we don't even realise. So lovely humans, we are, in our momentum group, we call it “Reflect for Success” is our January challenge. It is obviously the third or day three of January, if you're listening to this, you can still join and do a great big bird's eye view of your life and be able to carve out bits. You can actually make doable, actionable plans, so that the things that you want to do stop just being pipe dreams in your head, and actually turn out to become, you know, things that you actually achieve, where you get to the end of the year and you go, you know what? I said, I’d do that, and I've done it. And I think that the worst thing is, when you think that you should do something or you think that you want to do something, and you don't do it, and then you have regret that you didn't do it. And we can avoid that regret just by going, “Alright, well, let's make a plan”. So gorgeous peeps. If you are interested in joining momentum, you can we only open momentum in December and January to the general public the rest of the year, it's only open if you've done the 12 week, Mind Body rebalance, which is of course coming up in not very long, actually at the start of February. So if you want to get a head start, you can join momentum and you can toddle over to our website, which is all the w's rlmedicine.com forward slash momentum. Pretty easy to remember. And there you will have a lovely giant information page with everything you need to know. Including some fabulous photos of Dr. Mary and I.
Dr Mary Barson: (23:04) They are nice photos, it's true.
Dr Lucy Burns: (23:08) They are! They’re our perfect photos. Many of you know...
Dr Mary Barson: (23:11) We look like that all the time. <laughter> Yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: (23:15) Yes. I am always leaping up out of bed with my hair styled and my full face of makeup on. <laughter>
Dr Mary Barson: (23:26) It’s the main thing I notice about you, Lucy. Yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: (23:29) I know, absolutely. So yes, gorgeous ones, if you would like to join, we would love to have you. It is an absolutely beautiful community. We have a hoot. It is fun. And there's lots and lots of things for you to enjoy in that. So Dr. Mary, I think we should probably leave it there for our lovely peeps to be thinking about, not just thinking about your intention, but actually doing something about it. And we will be back next week with another fabulous episode.
Dr Mary Barson: (23:59) Bye bye beautiful people.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:01) Take good care. So my lovely listeners that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr. Lucy Burns,
Dr Mary Barson: (24:15) and I'm Dr. Mary Barson we’re from Real Life Medicine. To contact us, please visit our website, https://www.rlmedicine.com
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:26) And until next time, thanks for listening. The information shared on the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast, including show notes and links provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.