The Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast with Dr. Priyanka Venugopal | Habits and the Motivational Triad

Episode #41: Habits and the Motivational Triad

Jan 10, 2023

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How many Januarys have you made a list of rockstar habits you want to bring into your life in the New Year, but after just a few days, it disappears into a drawer to collect dust? Well, before you can implement new goals and 2023 habits, you first need to understand your habits of 2022.

What has been unconsciously driving you for the past year? Today’s episode about Habits and the Motivational Triad is short, sweet, and full of bang. Your brain has been seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and looking for the fastest solution for years, but if you want to reach the next level in 2023, it’s time to make some changes.

Tune in this week because I’m sharing your golden ticket to changing your habits for real. I’m sharing how to see where your 2022 habits came from, how they’re blocking you from creating massive change in 2023, and how to understand the Motivational Triad, so you can start overriding it, creating permanent, sustainable change.


If you want to take this work deeper and implement it in your life, you need to learn all about The Unstoppable Group. This is my six-month, intimate, small group coaching experience for high-achieving working moms who want to live lighter and lose weight at the same time. I take my clients through a science-backed, simple strategy that seriously blows their minds, and you can learn all about how to sign up for the next group by clicking here!

If you’re loving the podcast, you have to sign up for my email list. I share some of my absolute best tips, strategies, and skills exclusively on my email list, so click here to make sure you’re on there!


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why we all know what we want to be doing in the coming year, but just don’t do it.
  • Your golden ticket to changing your habits for real.
  • Why it’s so important to understand the habits that got you where you are today.
  • Where to look to discover where your old habits came from and why it’s so difficult to follow through on the new habits you want to develop.
  • What the Motivational Triad is, and how to start overriding it.
  • How to make permanent change and implement any habit with sustainable practice in 2023.


Listen to the Full Episode:



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Full Episode Transcript:

Click here to download the full transcript


  • Hey, this is Dr. Priyanka Venugopal, and you're listening to the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast, Episode 41, Habits and the Motivational Triad. Today's episode is short, sweet, and full of bank, and I think it is such an important conversation to have, particularly at the start of a new year. I know for myself, for you and for so many of my clients, we have a tendency to really look back and reflect on the past year, our goals and our results, and even the habits that we have had, and then we think about 2023.

    We think about all of the new habits we wanna create and all the results we want to see for ourselves by the end of the year. But what we really need to do before we can really get to this work is we have to understand where our old habits came from to begin with. I cannot wait for you guys to listen to this episode and really take this to the next level.

    If you want to reach your ideal weight and create lightness for your body, you need to have simplicity, joy, and strategic decisions infused into your life. I'm a physician turned life and weight loss coach for ambitious working moms. I've lost over 60 pounds without counting points, calories, or crazy exercise plans.

    Most importantly, I feel calm and light on the scale and in my life. There's some delicious magic when you learn this work and the skills I'm going to be teaching. Ready? Let's get to it.

    Hey, Unstoppable friends. I am so glad to bring you today's episode to have a conversation around what is driving all of us unconsciously. Today we're talking about habits and the motivational triad. I've touched on this in little bits here and there in previous episodes, but I wanted to dedicate a whole episode to this topic because it is so incredibly important to really understand what has been driving you in all of your little and big moments on a daily basis.

    Let's really think about why this matters first especially at the very start of a new year. When we look at the habits of 2022 and we think about the changes that we wanna make for 2023, 1 of the most common things that we do, and tell me if this is you, is we make a laundry list of habits that we want to change.

    Am I right? It's like this year I'm going to get more sleep and meditate every morning and eat healthier and go to the gym more and stop yelling at my kids, get more organized. I mean, this list is literally a laundry list of things that we want to change, and it can go on and on and on, and it sounds pretty great. 

    Because it's true, if we actually followed through on this amazing list of new habits, we would have some pretty rockstar results by December of 2023. If we consistently ate healthier and meditated every day and went to the gym and worked out more and got more sleep, of course we would have some pretty amazing results.

    But how often, after just a few days, this list of rockstar habits sits in a drawer collecting dust. This episode is to tell you exactly why this happens. Before you can implement any of your new goals and your new 2023 habits, it's imperative that we spend a little bit of time understanding your habits of 2022.

    I've heard from so many of you, especially high-achieving working moms, that you know what to do, right? You know, all of those good things that you want to be doing, and yet, for some reason, we just don't do them. You know that eating well and working out and getting more sleep are what you should quote unquote be doing.

    So why is it that we don't do what we know we should? When we really understand this, when we understand why we don't do what we know we should be doing, you have officially unlocked your golden ticket to changing your habits for real. I often talk about changing things at the root. It's one thing to say I ate like crap in 2022, and in 2023 I'm going to be eating a lot of salad.

    This is surface level. It's putting a band-aid on a festering wound that needs more attention. I don't want you to eat salads in 2023. I want you to first understand why you ate like crap in 2022. This is solving habits at the root, and I'm going to go so far as to say that this is required to understand if you want to change things permanently to really implement any habit with sustainable practice in 2023.

    Now that we know that getting to the root cause of old habits is so important, let's get to answering the real question. Why did we have those old habits to begin with, and why has it been so hard to follow through on those quote unquote good new habits? This is where we come into the motivational triad.

    Let's just start by saying that nothing is wrong with you for reflexively overeating, overdrinking, overworking, overthinking, or over consuming. I feel like I have to say this because this layer is so optional and I see that this layer of judgment that we have about some of our habits really stalls results.

    I wanted to take a moment to really emphasize that our thoughts about some of the habits we want to change can really block us or give us a pathway forward in creating massive change. So as a gentle nudge or maybe a kick in the ass reminder that we have all developed certain habits and even habits like overeating, over drinking and over consuming, always served some purpose at some point.

    Yes. Even overeating is a habit that served a purpose for you at some point in the past. Most commonly, the act or habit of overeating was simply a coping mechanism that you developed to avoid or distract you from an uncomfortable emotional experience. It's exactly where the term stress eating and emotional eating comes from.

    No one on purpose ever chooses to develop the habit of overeating. Really think about that. It was not something that you ever created intentionally. It happened unintentionally and temporarily it worked, right? You got to numb your stresses of the day by eating food. And the more that you did this, the more that you numbed out like this, the more that your brain learned, oh, this destruction is better than my stress.

    And there we go. It turned emotional eating into a habit. This is the highly simplistic way of describing just one of the habits that maybe you want to change this year. The motivational triad is the most primitive, oldest part of your brain. It's the part of your brain that you share with reptiles, and it describes how humans and honestly most living things seek pleasure, avoid pain, and want the fastest ends to this means this motivational triad is describing what motivates us at our most primitive, reflexive, and subconscious level.

    The reason that you developed the habit of overeating, over drinking, over ruminating, or overworking was a response to this. Maybe you experienced some life stresses and then your brain perceived these life stresses as some kind of pain or discomfort. The motivational triad drove you to avoid it. Just think about all the ways that you've avoided pain and discomfort.

    Eating when you aren't hungry is just one. Ruminating, overthinking and worrying can, on their own, become a habit simply because your brain is trying to fix and solve tomorrow's stresses. So this episode is really an invitation to look at each habit that you want to change and take it through the filter of this understanding. Understanding why you have this habit to begin with, and in some way or another, it will always come down to the motivational triad, seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and wanting the fastest way there. 

    Food, alcohol, the scroll, and Netflix are literally the fastest mechanisms in your brain to release dopamine and endorphins. Of course, overeating, drinking, over-scrolling has become a common pattern for high achievers. It's the quickest way to experience a moment of pleasure and to avoid discomfort, right.

    But the compounding effect of letting the motivational triad drive your life also is leading to heaviness for your body and your brain. So now what are we doomed to operate just from this primitive motivational triad? No, and that is the intention of this episode. All humans, you and I included, have evolved mechanisms in our brain that can go beyond our most primitive and reflexive thinking.

    We have the more creative solutions focused on the prefrontal cortex that the oldest reptiles just don't have. And it means that when we are conscious of our primitive and reflexive thought patterns, we can actually override them with some simple eats. [0Just to share a full circle moment, the reason that I even titled my Work and My Business, the Unstoppable Mom Brain, is for this reason before coaching, we inadvertently have allowed our most primitive and reflexive and unconscious patterns to drive us.

    But what we are doing here together, and what I show my clients how to do inside the Unstoppable Group is to become intimately conscious of our most primitive thoughts and then learn how our mom brains are in fact brilliant at overriding them when we know how. It is literally the path to being Unstoppable.

    When you become conscious of your most primitive thoughts and learn to override them with your most brilliant thinking, you start changing habits at the root. And when you do this day after day, week after week and month after month, you grow your emotional capacity to handle life's stresses without going to food or alcohol or the scroll, you become more emotionally resilient and 2023, the goals and habits that you want are just done. 

    Now, here's what I'll say to override the motivational triad means that you are saying yes to some discomfort. Growing your emotional resilience and capacity is uncomfortable. I'll be the first to say it from my own personal lived experiences. It's uncomfortable to grow. The only reason that you would choose this growth because there can be moments of discomfort to override the quick hits of pleasure and to welcome discomfort is because that you know, it's more uncomfortable to stay where you are now.

    It's more uncomfortable to keep those old habits. It's more uncomfortable to not have those desired goals in hand. And there's a moment that comes when you realize, wait a second. Living this life feeling heavier in my mind and my body is actually more uncomfortable for me than doing the work to change it.


    You're ready to choose the discomfort of growth, and that's what we get to do every year as we evaluate what we want to change for this year. And guess what? You don't have to wait for it. You don't have to wait until tomorrow or next week or next month. You can do it right now and in this moment, it's not too much for you.

    It's fleeting moments you can easily overcome. So the next time that you find yourself walking into the pantry or the office break room, when you aren't actually hungry, just remind yourself this is just the motivational triad at work. I'm just seeking some quick pleasure or wanting a distraction from my life's stresses.

    That's all I can override this. And then walk out. Allow yourself to feel that moment of discomfort at overriding your most primitive reflex, but then steep yourself in how good it feels when you do. I was recently sharing with my email list some golden nuggets for how you don't have to sacrifice today to achieve tomorrow's goals.

    And I think this is such an important piece. You aren't sacrificing anything by overriding your motivational triad. Saying no to the crap food. Saying no to overeating over drinking or over scrolling isn't actually a sacrifice, and it's so important to see this. Saying no to the crap food today actually feels good today when you follow through on that new habit that you desire for this year despite those moments of discomfort, you feel better right now. 

    Not only does your body feel better, but you feel proud in this moment. It's what I call creating perpetual win-wins and it takes practice overriding that most primitive motivational triad will not only make your 2023 goals done and in the bag, you don't have to wait until December, 2023 to feel good.

    You get to feel better today, even with that moment's discomfort. Seriously. One of my biggest intentions with the Unstoppable Group, which is my six month coaching container for high-achieving working moms, is to help more women feel, live and breathe better right now. Feeling better, lighter, calmer, and more confident doesn't have to wait until you hit your weight loss goals.

    It's required alongside weight loss. So here's to a year of us overriding our unconscious most primitive patterns, and to welcoming that normal moment of discomfort and then leaning in with our most brilliant, Unstoppable brains to feeling better, lighter, and losing weight at the same time. I can't wait for you to give this a try to override your motivational triad in highest service to where you want to go.


    Cheers friends. I will see you next week. If you want to take this work deeper and into real life implementation, you have to learn all about the Unstoppable group. This is my six month intimate small group coaching experience for high achieving working moms who want to live lighter and lose weight at the same time.

    I take my clients through a science-backed simple strategy that seriously blows their minds. You can learn all about exactly how to work with me and when my next group is starting over at And seriously, if you are enjoying the podcast, you have to be on my email list.

    I share some of my absolute best tips, strategies, and skills to only my email list, so make sure you're on there. I really think of it almost as a little love letter and a magic into your email inbox because it is some of my best stuff. You can join my email list over at

    I'll see you next week. Bye. Thanks for listening to the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast. It's been an honor spending this time with you and your brilliant brain. If you want more resources or information from the show, head on over to

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