Done with Dieting Episode #69: Measuring Backwards

Measuring backwards

How to be happier with your accomplishments.

Every one of us has a judge in our brains that tells us that we can be happy when…

  • We get the job
  • We get married
  • We buy the house
  • We organize the kitchen
  • We lose 30 lbs.

That judge is not only a liar, but will often change the goal. 

When we reach the goal, if it’s a specific, measurable achievement, our judge will allow us to be happy for a total of 5 minutes until it starts in on the “yeah, butt”s:

  • Yeah, but now we need to earn the respect of our boss
  • Yeah, but now we need to have a baby
  • Yeah, but now we need to remodel the house to ‘make it our own’
  • Yeah, but now you need to ‘tone up’

In today’s podcast, I’m introducing a tool that will help you to celebrate your accomplishments more and create more happiness in your life.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my six-month group coaching program! The Feel Good Sisterhood is going to be open for enrollment in October for a limited time, so click here to get on the waitlist.

For even more resources on becoming healthier, get my free download: 8 Basic Habits that Healthy People Do. If you do these 8 things on a consistent basis, you will be healthier than most people you know, and your body will right-size!

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What you’ll Learn from this Episode

  • What does it mean to measure backwards?
  • The simple routine that you can create that will help you to be happier in your life.
  • How to change your brain from being mostly negative to being more positive.

Listen to the Full Episode:


Full Episode Transcript:

Did you know that happiness is available to you today? Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, nope, Elizabeth, it isn’t. I have too many things to do before I can be happy.

I’ve got to lose all this extra weight. I need to get in shape. I need to have the house deep cleaned. I need to do a pantry makeover. I need to travel to the Greek islands. I need to do all those things and then I’ll be happy.

And only then, will I be happy. I hear you.

I used to think that way too. But today, I’m going to share a new tool with you, and if you use it and implement it, it’ll help you to become happier where you are, instead of waiting to accomplish things in order to be happy.

Tune in.

You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women in midlife, who are done with dieting, but still want to lose weight and feel good in your clothes. You know that diets don’t work long term. But you feel like there’s this secret that everyone else knows that you just haven’t figured it out yet.

I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And I’ve helped hundreds of women get off the diet roller coaster change their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies. Through this podcast, my goal is to help you too.

Welcome. Let’s get started.

Hi there! Welcome to today’s podcast, episode number 69. And what we’re talking about today is a concept called, measuring backwards, which probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it will by the time I am done with this podcast episode.

First, before we get into that, I just want to tell you that I recently finished a book it’s called “the gap and the gain,” and I think I’m going to use it for one of our future book club books because it really is such an amazing book.

In fact, it really changed a lot of how I perceive my own progress. And one of my clients, I recommended it to her, and she said it changed her life. Today’s podcast is actually heavily borrowing on that book.

A few months ago, after I read the book, I started a different morning and evening routine. My morning routine was already pretty solid. I already had a good grasp of that and what I mean by that is I wake up pretty early in the morning earlier than I probably should.

But I really love having those hours in the morning to myself when no one else is awake and it’s quiet. I can do whatever I want and really settle my mind, ease into the day as opposed to being woken up and starting, not even realizing what was going on, right?

When we wake up in a jarring state, it sets the mood for the rest of the day. And I acknowledge that I have the luxury of being able to have a morning routine. I understand that not everyone can.

But if you are able to create a morning routine, even if it’s 15 minutes of just sitting with your coffee on the couch and thinking about what do I want to accomplish today? It doesn’t have to be a complex thing. And for a long time, I made my morning routines be very regimented.

Like first I was going to do this, and then I was going to do this. And then, I was going to do this. Third thing and it started to feel really boring. Since I’ve changed my morning routine, I have a buffet of things that I choose from. Sometimes I’ll watch coaching calls, sometimes I’ll do some personal development. Sometimes I’ll do journaling.

I always do a little bit of what’s called “PQ reps,” positive intelligence. I think I mentioned that on a previous episode Where I’m doing the certification called positive intelligence. And one of the things is these things called PQ reps, which are a little bit different than meditation. But it really allows you to center yourself to what’s happening currently in the moment.

So anyway, I have these series of tasks or things that I like to do that I do first thing in the morning. And it really allows me to set the intention of the day. And then, also just feel better about moving throughout my day.

One of the other things that I’ve started doing from reading this book is I’ve also started an evening routine. And part of that has been limiting my social media. I have an iPhone and I now have the downtime specified on it so that I don’t have access to certain apps. I record these episodes pretty far in advance.

And so, last week I was in Austin, Texas doing a mastermind with 1800 other coaches, it was amazing. And while I was there, I can’t remember why I did this specifically, but I turned off my downtime. I didn’t intend to do it long-term, I just meant to do it for that night.

And what happened is I was shocked even though I had basically a few months where I wasn’t allowing myself to use social media first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening. I fell right back into it. And I was like, wow!

Immediately, I would wake up and I would see that icon to go into Facebook and to go into Instagram, I would immediately go into it. And it really made me appreciate my morning routines a little bit better because it showed me the difference between being social media free, and then having social media, and how it affected my mood for the day.

So, my morning and evening routines, one of the things that I do is I write in a journal every day. It’s kind of like the five minute journal where you just write a few things down very quickly in the morning, and then again in the evening.

And so, one of the things that I do every day is in the end of the day, I write down three wins that I’m going to have for tomorrow. I also acknowledge the wins that I have for the day. And then, I also give my brain a project to start working on as I sleep. And I’ll talk about this again.

It’s something that I started doing actually, quite a number of years ago, I was really feeling stuck in my business. And I don’t know where I got turned on to this, but I decided that I was going to give my brain a project to do while I slept. And it was so interesting how it actually worked out. But then, the following morning, what I also do is I project what my wins are going to be for the day.

Now, why I started doing this is because first of all, you’ve probably heard me talk about what’s called cognitive bias before. Cognitive bias is the idea that our brains are very negative. Our brains are also very narcissistic, meaning that they make everything about ourselves.

It’s raining. What does this mean for me? The price of gas went up. What does that mean for me? So, our brains are always interpreting the circumstances and the events that happen in our lives and thinking that they are all about us, when most of the time it’s really not.

Again, our brains are very negative. So, they immediately go to why is this a disaster? Why is this a terrible thing? And I really want to become more positive in my life. It’s a goal of mine because I don’t know, I just have this belief that negativity really breeds disease. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s a thought that I have and it serves me, so I’m going to stick with it.

And so, I really want to feel more positive in my life, especially about myself and about what I’ve accomplished. Why I’ve started this three wins practice is because of cognitive bias. When our brains are negative and our brains always love to be right, what they will do is any belief that we have.

So, the belief that we’re not enough, that we’re not doing enough, that we’re not productive enough, that we are just failures in life, our brain goes there. What will happen then is if you already hold those beliefs, your brain is going to go out and is going to find evidence of why those beliefs are true.

If you think that you can’t do something, your brain is going to come up with a bunch of evidence from your past to prove yourself right. But what this routine of practicing three wins every single day, acknowledging what I’ve accomplished, and what my wins for the day has done is it’s actually made me a little bit more positive.

And it started the process of my brain acknowledging what those wins are. It allows us to then have cognitive bias on the positive side, as opposed to the constant evidence that we have, that we aren’t doing enough.

And so, by refocusing my brain on the wins from the day, the week, and the month, what it’s doing is it’s allowing me to feel better about myself.

Now, I’ve also brought this practice into both the Feel Good Sisterhood, my group coaching program, as well as in working with my one-on-one clients because it allows my clients to start shifting their focus too!

So often, we downplay what it is that we’ve accomplished. And we’re always in the back of our heads we’re like, yeah, but that’s not good enough. I know that I never exercised before and this week I walked three times, but you know, I would really want it to walk four times. And so, I really didn’t win.”

We do that to ourselves. We always downplay what we’ve accomplished. What this is doing by creating these wins within my practice with my clients, as well as my group coaching program. What it’s doing is it’s starting to change their brains as well to be more positive.

And if this is something that you want to do, of course, I’m going to encourage you to work with me. You can do that through either going to elizabethsherman.com/groupcoaching. Find out more about the Feel Good Sisterhood, or you can go to elizabethsherman.com/privatecoaching to learn more about working with me one-on-one individually and what all that entails.

But earlier, I mentioned something about doing a positive intelligence or PQ reps. And what this habit does, is it allows it allows me to become the watcher of my brain. And all of us have a judge, as well as these nine different what we call saboteurs.

The saboteurs are things like avoiding negative emotion or avoiding negative circumstances, trying to control the situation, being a pleaser, needing to always be an achiever, being a worrier, being a victim, or needing things to be perfect. Those are just some of them.

And so, what these PQ reps or this present meditation does is it allows me to notice when my lower brain, my judge is running the show. And instead, it allows me to think from my higher brain, my future self.

Now, we all have this judge. And this judge tells us that we can’t be happy yet. Our judge is constantly in the background of our brain telling us that what we’ve accomplished already, isn’t good enough. That we need to do more. The judge tells us that we need to do or have X whatever that next thing is. And then, we can finally be happy. Whatever that next thing is in our lives.

So, getting married, for example, or graduating from college, or law school. Perhaps it’s “yeah, I have this house or I’m in an apartment, but I really need to buy a house.” And then, I’ve arrived. Or “I need to have that car because that car is a status symbol, or those shoes are really going to make me feel happy.”

Many of us probably, if you’re listening to this podcast, one of those thoughts is I’ll be happy when I lose the weight. I’ll be happy when I can run five miles without stopping. I can be happy when I can fit into my size 12 jeans.

The problem with this thinking is that once we get the results, I fit into my size 12 jeans. I buy the house, I get the degree for law school, I buy the car, the fancy car, or the flashy shoes, and they make me happy for a brief minute.

And then, the brain kicks in, our judge kicks in. And tells us, okay, but now the next thing you need to do is whatever the next thing is on that list. The shoes are fantastic, we love the shoes. But then, they start to get scuffs on them. And so, they’re not as fancy as they were when we originally got them.

But here’s the thing, nothing outside of ourselves can actually make us happy. Our partner can’t make us happy, our kids, our house, our job, the car we drive, the purse we have, the degree we’ve achieved, or our weight. None of that can actually make us happy.

Can you remember a time when you pursued your partner, or you pursued your car. You dreamt of this car, you were like, oh, when I get this car, it’s going to be amazing. I’m going to be so happy. And now, you look at your car and you’re like, yeah, the car is okay.

You might even think about that as your partner. You love your partner, sure. You don’t want your partner to go away. But you’ve gotten used to them and now you’re like, yeah, but I’m still me.

Before, it was like, oh, if this person loves me, then I’m going to be enough. But now, that person does love you and you still are pursuing that external happiness.

Research actually shows that we can be very accomplished, but our brain immediately discounts whatever that accomplishment is once we’ve become attuned to it. So, once we have the college degree, once we have the law degree, we immediately think it’s that much of an accomplishment anymore.

And so, just a side note here. We have the ability to change our thoughts and we do it unintentionally with the help of our judge. So, where I was talking before about having that car, or getting the shoes, or the purse, you may have something in your life that you really, really coveted and you really, really wanted it.

And then, now that you have it and it’s X number of years old, you’re like, yeah, it’s not really that great anymore. And in fact, I think I want to trade it in for a new one. We’ve changed our thoughts about that thing. It’s the same thing. It’s the same car. It’s the same iPhone. It’s the same purse. It’s the same partner.

But what’s changed are our thoughts about that person, about that device, about that object. The object hasn’t changed, the person hasn’t changed. It’s just our thoughts about the person or the object have changed.

And so, we can actually do intentional work to change our thoughts back to love or appreciation for that thing as well.

In fact, it’s what I teach my clients. It’s the practice that I have myself. And it’s a lot of what I do within my practice with my clients because much of what causes us to choose certain foods, or not exercise, or do the things that we don’t want to do has everything to do with all of the things that are outside of health.

How we think about our partner? How we think about our job? How we think about our house? How we think about our relationship with our family members and our parents?

So, all of that actually impacts our ability to take care of ourselves. And the more that we can change our thoughts and change how reframe, how we think about our problems, the better we’re going to be at being able to take care of ourselves. Eat the healthy things, go for a walk when we don’t want to because we know it’s going to make us feel better.

So, when we start a project, or we have a goal. Maybe I want to run a marathon, or maybe I want to lose 10 pounds, whatever it is, maybe I want to get married. We always compare our progress to where we want to be. We always compare where we are today to this fictional ideal place sometime in the future.

Within my practice, I definitely work with this with my clients. I have them create a vision of what they want their futures to look like. And the reason that I do this is so that we can actually have a plan of where we want to go. The problem is when we start comparing where we are today to that ideal.

Here’s the thing, the ideal actually changes. When I think about where I am today, what my eating habits are today, and what my exercise habits are today, what my sleep habits are today, what my stress management habits are today, and also how I think about my body. I think about that I am absolutely not perfect. And I don’t think that we ever think that we are perfect.

However, when I think about the version of myself who started this journey 20 plus years ago. She probably thinks that the habits I have established today are pretty freaking perfect. If I was doing back then, what I’m doing today, I would have thought that I was rocking it.

And so, going back to one of my previous podcasts about doing B minus work. The goalposts always change, the ideal changes. Could I be better at eating healthy? Probably, but why would I want to do that? I feel like I’m pretty good right now and that’s all I can ask. I’m doing B minus work. I’m doing good enough.

As you progress towards your goal, as long as you’re doing B minus work, what’s going to happen is that B minus work is going to get better and better and better. The judge, our judge in the back of our head changes the goalposts. We think that we want to do A-plus work. But A-plus work is never going to be enough. We always feel like we could do something better.

So, once we get the job, the next thing is that we need a raise, or we need a promotion. Once we buy the house, then we need to remodel, or we need a new couch, or we need an outdoor kitchen. Once we lose the weight, then our brain pipes up and says, “yeah, but now you need to get rid of the sagging skin, or you need to tone up, or you need to look better.” Like it’s never enough.

And so, we’re always going to be unhappy. We think that once we get to the goal, we’re going to be happy. But we’re never going to actually arrive. Our brain will not let us by celebrating our wins, by measuring backwards to where we were. We refocus our brains on how far we’ve come.

By celebrating our wins, we teach our brain to look for the wins and to have that cognitive bias to be able to see what we’ve accomplished. By celebrating our wins, we become more positive in the process. And by celebrating our wins, we achieve more wins. We become more productive in the process as well.

Because we’re focused on the gap between where we are and where we want to be. We’re focusing on lack. When we focus on how far we’ve come, when we measure backwards, we’re focusing on the abundance. How much we’ve achieved. We treat ourselves better. We feel better. We talk to ourselves in a better and more compassionate way. And we have better self-esteem.

Here’s the thing, when you’re starting out your wins do not have to be amazing. Your brain and judge are going to fight for the amazing. Your brain is going to say, but showering isn’t enough.

So, I want you to start small. Start with I showered. I ate a vegetable. I stopped myself from procrastinating. I stopped myself from eating the third brownie. Those are all wins. They all add up. Now, your brain is going to come back and say, “yeah, but” shut that down, shut it down. And do these wins daily.

Pick out everything that you did today, that added up to something better. Do not let your judge or anyone else dampen your celebrations and tell you that it’s not enough because that’s a bunch of BS.

Now, once you’ve done that for a while, and I really hope that you do this. Step two is going to be plan your wins for the following day. And I want you to be aware about this, do not use this step to allow the judge in and tell you how you failed.

So, when you set up your wins for the following day. The following day, if you have not accomplished those wins, do not allow yourself to beat yourself up. I also want you to practice constraint.

So, only allow yourself to have three wins. If you have more, great. But do not say one of your wins is going to be finishing everything on your to-do list. Especially, if your to-do list is 25 items long. We do that to ourselves. We think that the version of ourselves tomorrow is going to be perfect.

And then, the other thing that I’m going to suggest that you do in step two of this whole plan is command your subconscious brain to work on a problem as you sleep. This is freaking amazing. It’s like Jedi mind tricks, I’m telling you.

So, as you go to sleep just think about a problem that you’re really struggling with and just tell your brain as you’re falling asleep. Okay, brain while we’re sleeping, I want you to work on this problem, whatever it is, how do we solve this problem?

Depending on the problem, you may need to give yourself a few nights to do this. But you will come up with some amazing ideas. And I really hope that you try this.

Now, if you want more support on this, I am of course, going to suggest that you reach out to me and want to work with me, one-on-one. Who wouldn’t want to do more of this? Because when we’re thinking negatively, we buffer with food, and we don’t want to go exercise.

The power of being more productive and being more positive is that you are going to feel better about yourself. And when we feel better about ourselves, we want to treat ourselves better. We want to take better care of ourselves. And so, who doesn’t want that?

So, you can work with me one-on-one or probably in about July, I’m going to be opening up the doors again for the Feel Good Sisterhood. So, if you’re interested in that right now, there’s a waitlist for that, you can go to elizabethsherman.com/groupcoaching. Or you can reach out to me individually by going to elizabethsherman.com/privatecoaching and do that.

So, I hope this concept of measuring backwards has been useful for you because I know that it has really allowed me to be more positive in my life and actually get so much more done.

Have an amazing day, everyone. I will see you next time. Bye-bye.

Hey, thanks for listening.

If you’re done with dieting and would like to work with me as your coach, I’d like to invite you to reach out to myself and my team to ask about programs and pricing. Go to elizabethsherman.com/contact to get started today. I can’t wait to hear from you.

See you next week.


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