When Stress Levels Keep You From Your Goals

We’ve all been there before. We get excited to change our lives in a positive way and follow a weight loss; fitness; transformation program only to get stuck again and fall off track.

I have heard this from multiple clients over the years and I’m sure we’ve all struggled with it at one time or another.

Stress kills results.

You can’t change a behavior consistently until you can not be stressed out consistently.

Here is an example conversation:

Client – “I was doing great with my workouts but then this thing happened and I got stressed out/overwhelmed/too busy and I stopped working out. A month ago.”

Coach – “Remember when we talked about this and you said that working out was really important to you and it was a big change you want to make in your life? You joined a gym, you blocked out time in your schedule, you found a program that worked for you…”

Client – “Right. It’s really important to me. Also I’m not doing it. Because busy. Much overwhelm. So stress.”

So what to do? Let’s explore what’s going on in the brain.

Imagine two decision making pathways in your brain.

The first one is a goal-oriented system that focuses on actions and results. This part of your mind gets the relationship between eating broccoli for dinner instead of french fries. It connects with your long term goal of losing weight and it takes action of choosing the broccoli.

This is the part that considers the goal and then taking action on said goal. It ties it together by the outcome that is produced when the action taken moves you toward a goal.


The second pathway is the habit system that learns stimulus response associations and does NOT connect them with the long term outcomes. This pathway doesn’t start with any knowledge of a goal somewhere in the future; it starts with whatever is happening in the present moment, like, “I’m hungry.” (stimulus) It then leads to the habit response of what we know from the past, “French fries are delicious and make me not hungry!” And that’s where it stops.

Problem, solved? Not so much.

We have to change the old habits into new ways of handling the current situation. You get stressed; you eat foods that make you not stressed. You don’t have time to plan your healthy meals; so you eat whatever you can find that makes you feel good. The interesting part about this is that when you find yourself locked into this habit mode response behavior, you stop connecting the results with the responses.

Your brain, in that specific moment, doesn’t link choosing french fries for dinner and gaining weight. It doesn’t even matter if you are troubled with your weight gains. You’ll keep doing the things that sabotage your long term goals, and you’ll continue to feel powerless to stop it.

AKA: Yo-yo cycles.

Now let’s see what makes our brain shift from the first system (I do this and I lose weight) to the second system (I’m hungry and I eat fries)?


Research has found that people are biased toward a habit behavior when they’re under stress. It’s a coping mechanism in how we respond to said stress.  They can be shifted back towards goal-focused decision making if they’re given drugs that block the actions of stress hormones in the brain.

Stress literally changes the part of our brains that are involved in decision making. Can you believe that? What does this mean for someone who does well with workouts when everything is going smoothly but then diverts to binges and Netflix as soon as life piles up in a series of rush hour commutes, mortgage payments and sick children?

You’re not likely to break that cycle by thinking about how important working out is to your health, happiness or other long-term goals.

You already know that. The old behavior persists anyway.

When we’re in stress monkey mode, our brain just doesn’t connect those goals to our reflexive behavior.

The part of our brain that manages things like long term goals and impulses gets drowned out of the conversation. In many cases, it’s not about the goal. The monkey wrench in the gears of the system is the chronic stress. It makes the goal irrelevant.

Once you can clear that stress away and get out of your anxiety, you’ll have a clear path forward. You’ll have a brain that’s capable of running decisions through the goal focused pathway instead of the habit response pathway. (if you can do this long enough, the goal part of your brain that shapes the habit behaviors will change what you do even when you’re not thinking about it)

We become what we consistently do.

Until that happens, it’s not about the workouts. Rearranging sets and reps and exercises won’t matter. You won’t be able to do squats consistently until you’re able to not be stressed out consistently.  Deal with the stress first.

*adapted from Precision Nutrition blog 



Stressed, Overwhelmed and Anxious? Oh MY!

I’m going to be honest with you today!

I’m growing tired of talking about fitness, health and eating all the time.

You probably didn’t expect that from me, did you? Well, honestly, neither did I! But the last few years have been quite interesting and brought me to a realization this past year that I wanted to share with you.

I know that it’s important to take care of our health and I know you already understand that too. The truth of the matter is, I always figured that the more I talked about my journey and tips on these health and weight loss goals, then others would eventually start to live the life too.

But I started to notice a rather common pattern, instead. Many people would be excited to start a healthy plan – only to fall short somewhere along the line.

Was it their fault? Was it mine? What were the missing links between starting on a said goal and actually achieving (not to mention, maintaining) that said goal?

I then began to research what was different from where I am today versus who I was when I began this crazy ride 25+ years ago. What had changed from then to now?

Or a more realistic question would like be, what HASN’T changed since then?

There seems to be one underlying common issue for our ups and downs throughout life. It’s called, “LIFE”…
Or more accurately, STRESSES OF LIFE.

So why would I continue to push health and fitness tips and plans with those who continue to come up against another one of life’s roadblocks, time and again? No, I would need to restructure the way I work with my clients and customers based on their personal stress levels, struggles and common barriers instead.

The result? My own personal plan for eliminating our stress levels and finally getting to the core of our best selves.

Are you ready to cut the crap and start to live your life, once and for all? Stop second guessing if you should be doing more of “this” or less of “that”. Stop putting all of your focus on one area and then being frustrated when that doesn’t turn out exactly as you’d planned.

Are you currently dealing with any of the following:

  • caring too much about what others think of you
  • dealing with toxic people daily
  • procrastinating on things you know you ‘should’ do
  • feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to be done
  • wishing you could just fast forward until the next weekend or vacation
  • not knowing what you really enjoy anymore
  • feeling as though the person you used to be is “lost”
  • feeling like a failure when you continue to sabotage yourself in any goal you set
  • too embarrassed to share your true thoughts and shortcomings because you think that nobody else will understand
  • thinking that success and happiness is only for those who “earn” it

The thing about life is that, nothing will ever truly turn out exactly as we planned. We can either accept that fact and find another way; or just give up and throw our hands up as we look for the next magical solution. (which doesn’t exist) But before you decide to give up completely; there is another solution…and it’s so much simpler than we have been making it out to be!

Are you ready? The 5-Day Back to Basics challenge starts next week!


I’ve put together an amazing program that will not only help you lessen your stress levels, but it will also help you to succeed more than before. Sounds crazy, right? I know! I thought the same thing at first, until I started to implement these strategies into my life.

I cannot imagine living and thinking the way I used to because it brought me anxiety, unhappiness and lots and lots of stress.

No thank you!

I’m inviting you to join me for this first official launch next week! It’s FREE, it’s only 5 days and it’s easy – what is there to lose? (except stress and doing too much with less than stellar results!)

You can sign up right here (it takes less than a minute!)

As a THANK YOU, I will send you my first video and assignment starting Monday, March 6th that will help you find your own success formula. There are no “one size fits all” ways to succeed but these little tips will show you how you can start now.

Ready? I’m so excited for this! I know it will be worth the few daily check-ins as it sets the tone for the rest of our lives!  Just click HERE and get the info you need to see what’s in store for this challenge and sign up in less than 30 seconds!

Enjoy your day and looking forward to helping you succeed more in the coming year than ever before!

Your friend,

Kathy P.

Are you addicted to STRESS?

Now that it’s mid-December, most people are frantically running around looking for the best gifts and attending tons of holiday parties to celebrate the season. I find that the hustle and bustle can be quite addicting and fun at first, but then you may get into a stressed out frantic time. and this is no fun!

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How can you change this problem? Start by learning to use the phrase, “Thank you but I can’t…” and this can be for anything that anyone asks of you that isn’t in your best interests. Do you know your best interests? I realize that most women have no clue, and I was one of the most unfocused messes out there just a few years ago!

I am the type of person who likes to “please” everyone and “help” anyone who asks me for it. Can you guess what happened when the word spread that this was something I enjoyed??? You got that right! Everyone and anyone will ask you if you are the “go to” person to help. Don’t believe me? Think about your social circles. Who in your life would you ask most often for “favors” and “help” over the rest? Do you know why that is? One small reason might be that you are comfortable enough with them to ask, but the biggest reason is that they most likely never (or rarely, for that case) say “NO”.

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Does the mere thought of telling someone “no” to a request; even something relatively small make you queasy and light-headed? Yes, I can relate and if that’s the case then you need to take some notes! Your sanity and life’s happiness depends on it! I have a few tips to start using TODAY and help you feel empowered; and less “guilty” of starting this new habit. (sidenote: “guilt” is a response to doing some wrong, taking care of your needs and your family’s needs instead of putting someone else’s request above these is never ‘wrong’)

When you say “YES” to something, did you ever take the time to realize you are saying “NO” to something else? Most often, these things we are saying NO to are the most dear to our hearts…and yet, we continue to do it. Why? Because we worry what others will think of us, right? Do those same people stop their lives for you and do they pay your bills and help you with the most important things in your life?

I would imagine for most of us, this would be a NO. (unless this “person” is your parent and you are still under-age and living at home)

So how do we decipher when to say “NO” (hint: 80% of the time) and when to say “YES” to these requests? I’ll share what I did and how it’s helped me, although I have to keep reminding myself of this as time goes on because it’s easy to let old habits and behaviors creep back in.

  1. Take inventory of what and who is most important to you. To start; get that pen and paper out again and set your timer for 10-15 minutes. Begin writing down everyone in your life who you value; write down every role you hold in your life (this includes any and all categories such as; career, parent, spouse, family role, church/community roles, school, etc) and also everything you cannot imagine living without.
  2. Next, stop for a minute or two and just look at the list. Does it seem overwhelming? Mine did. I looked at all the roles I held in my daily life and wondered how the heck I hadn’t lost my mind yet. I was juggling a million different roles, carrying many people I loved on my back and just kept accepting more requests as the days went on.
  3. Now that you have a better idea of the amount of responsibilities you are working so hard on balancing out…let’s find the roles and areas that are most meaningful to you today. (I say “today” because after 6 months to a year or so, these may shift as life rolls along). Again, set your timer for 30-60 seconds (trust me speed is your friend on this practice) and without judging or overthinking, quickly circle the top 10-20 areas that mean the most to you today.
  4. Once again, set your timer for 15-30 seconds and as quickly as you can, go through the circled areas and “tick” off the top 6-7 areas. NO MORE!!
  5. These are you main focus now. If someone asks something of you anytime following this realization; your first response always sounds like this, “I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you.” That is IT! Not anything else! Practice saying this to yourself out loud many times and then practice saying it to someone in your life that you can ask for help in this. Don’t think you’ll be able to do it without practice! I am speaking from personal experience!!! The first time I tried to say this, it sounded more like, “ummm….errrr….uhhhh…” Practice will make perfect as you go along so don’t worry if you stumble a few times at first. 😉
  6. Now that you have time to think about the person’s request, look back at your list of 6-7 most important people/roles list and ask yourself this question: “Does this help benefit any of my needs/roles/people circled here?”
  7. If the answer is no, then you aren’t able to do it. If the answer is yes, obviously go for it! How do you say NO? Again, practice this, “I’m sorry but I won’t be able to…” NO MORE! If you try to add any more information here, you will start to either: A) get yourself backed into a corner or B) sound ridiculous and guilty (which we clearly learned is not the issue)

So there you go. Start now and I would love to hear how it goes for you. Sure, you are going to stumble and screw it up a few times. You are going to feel like the biggest a-hole ever (which you are not…but you have created this role for yourself and it will take time to readjust). But over time, you are going to feel quite empowered and you are going to have less stress and more success to move forward in areas that never seem to get much attention.

Have you been wanting to take a class with your significant other but never had the “time”?? Well now you do! Because obviously, this benefits you and your loved one! Have you been promising to take a trip or spend some quality time with your daughter/son but never have the “time”? Now you do!! See how awesome this game is??

Now that we have this figured out, we will be moving on to bigger and better for the New Year…are you nervous??? Share below! And follow my blog for more fun and tips along the way!