Episode #79: Perfectionism, Weight Loss and Money with Dr Bonnie Koo

Oct 03, 2023


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If you consider yourself a high-achiever or type-A perfectionist, this episode is for you. I’m joined by an amazing guest, Dr. Bonnie Koo and we’re discussing how our high-achieving brains impede us from reaching our goals, especially when it comes to weight loss and money.

Joining me in this conversation is Dr. Bonnie Koo. Bonnie is a master certified life coach, mother, partner and retired dermatologist who’s passionate about teaching personal finance strategies designed specifically for successful women.

Tune in this week to discover how perfectionism could be stopping you from achieving your goals. You’ll discover why high-achieving perfectionists often don’t take the action that moves the needle, the beliefs that lead to mistakes and imperfect results derailing your progress, and how to develop a more positive relationship with yourself as you work toward your goals.


Enrollment for The Unstoppable Group just closed. Our next group is starting October 8th but if you want to get on the wait list for my next group, which is going to be starting in 2024, don’t wait, head on over to https://www.theunstoppablemombrain.com/group where you can join the waitlist.



What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What perfectionism is and why it’s unhelpful for achieving your goals.
  • How perfectionism shows up for high-achieving professional women.
  • The passive action you may be engaging in as a result of perfectionism and procrastination.
  • Why planning feels useful, but there are more important things when it comes to achieving goals.
  • The importance of clearly visualizing what you want to achieve.
  • What properly evaluating your progress towards your goals looks like.
  • Why this work isn’t about never being a perfectionist.
  • How to prevent imperfect results from derailing your progress towards your big goals.


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Full Episode Transcript:

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  • Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Hey, this is Dr. Priyanka Venugopal and you're listening to the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast, Perfectionist Tendencies and Hitting Goals with Dr. Bonnie Koo a few months ago, I had one of my friends and fellow coach, Dr. Bonnie Koo on the Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast, where we talked all about money and the high achievers brain.

    At the same time, Bonnie had me on her podcast talking about the high achiever and how a lot of our perfectionist tendencies really get in the way of us hitting our body goals, our weightless goals, and really any big goals that we have ever, ever had. I loved the conversation that we had over on Bonnie's podcast so much that I asked her if we could air it here.

    So I am sharing this conversation that we had over on Bonnie's podcast over the summer where we really dive into perfectionism, high achievers, and how some of our very common and practice tendencies get in the way of hitting goals. And a little bit of background about Bonnie. She is a physician turned money coach, and she is truly a dear friend and an amazing human overall.

    So I hope you enjoyed this conversation that we had over on Bonnie's podcast here today.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: All right, Priyanka. Welcome.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Thanks for having me.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: So before we get started, why don't you introduce yourself?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Absolutely. So I am Priyanka Venugopal. I am a OBGYN physician turned mind and body health coach for high achieving professional moms who really want to feel better in their body, lose weight without a calculator, and ultimately feel better at work and home.

    And I'm the founder of the Unstoppable Mom Brain. And friends with you, which is so fun.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yes, Priyanka and I are friends. There's like a theme here. I basically bring my friends on who, you know, I feel like we could have a very interesting and valuable conversation for my listeners. Since we are friends, we've been talking just a lot about things that we have seen show up for our clients because they're both type A perfectionistic women.

    I coach mainly physicians, um, but obviously, physicians aren't the only people who are perfect, perfectionist, right? So I think this is going to be an amazing conversation and we'll both make analogies to how it applies to our clients. And I think what's great about that is I think having examples like helps people learn better, right?

    That's really what it comes down to examples, metaphors, et cetera. Okay. So. Since I led with our clients being perfectionistic, women shows ups in so many ways. Right. And actually I was just coaching, um, actually yesterday. And I was noticing that this client was having what we call all or none thinking. I don't know if you call it black and white thinking, but she was, you know, looking to start a business.

    And basically her thinking is, well, I can't like start it until I have all the pieces in place. So in her mind, it was like the website, she was uncomfortable having her name out there, her picture. So in her mind, she had to like figure that all out before she could start a blog. And so I explained to her the concept of all our non thinking I'm like, but there's so many things in between, you know, it's fine if you're not comfortable.

    I was like, you could just start the blog and use like your first name, or I, I did recommend don't be anonymous because you know, people don't generally want to work with people. They don't know your name and who you are. But that was just an example of needing to have everything perfectly in place before taking action.

    So how do you see that in your clients, Priyanka?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah, I think this is such a good topic because I find that with high achieving professional women, especially there's a few key and common trends that hold back hitting goals. And I think you just kind of touched on one. So perfectionism is a big one and procrastination, which is interesting.

    They seem almost like two different ends of the spectrum, but they go very hand in hand because we have this perfectionist brains, which I want to just define that the way that I think about perfectionism is not just that you want to do really well. I think high achievers think I want to get the eight plus the gold star, the accolades, the recognition.

    The other side of perfectionism is avoiding imperfection, avoiding mistakes, avoiding the possibility of failure. And I find that that actually, that second half is the real reason that high achievers will hesitate on taking needle moving action. So what I find a lot of the times is we have this idea, this desire to hit a goal, whether it's to start a business, to lose weight, to maybe create something more for yourself at work or at home.

    And the only reason that we want to have every single piece in place, again, this is like the planner's dream, like you want to plan it all out is simply because we want to avoid the discomfort of possibly failing, the discomfort of possibly making a mistake, because we think that that is going to be associated with a really terrible feeling and we imply that mistakes and that terrible feeling means we're not going to actually achieve the goal. And so it's almost like a very protective. If you think about it, the idea of mistakes might mean that I'm not going to hit my goal, but it's like, let's just not, let's just not start.

    Let's just spend a lot of time in a high achievers do this a lot in consumption and in planning, because we think it's super useful, but what it ends up doing is it puts high achievers in consumption. A lot of non needle moving action, and so then their goals stall.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Right, and, you know, how we define this is passive action versus massive action. Obviously, like, some passive action is necessary, but I'm sure you see, like, my clients are stuck in, like, well, I gotta learn more, especially, like, I need to learn more about real estate or I need to learn more about XYZ before I can invest in it. And so they're like just spending months learning without doing something, but it feels like you are doing something because you are taking quote unquote action, but they're not taking needle moving action.

    Right. That's so good. And one thing..

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I feel like, I mean, you tell me Bonnie, but does it feel like people, at least I know I, this was me, it's just this like addiction to learning and planning. because learning feels so useful, right? It's like, but don't take away my learning and planning because it feels so useful that it's sometimes it's hard to stop learning to take the massive action that you're talking about.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. And I'm totally into planners and I still remember studying for step one. Like I had a very elaborate table and plan, but what, one thing I was proud of is I built in wiggle room, right? Because like a plan looks good on paper, but then like that assumes you're going to execute perfectly. So I put in a few like, and I'm only saying this to have a funny example of like, I think two or three days were like, if I could, if I fall off track. And one day I ended up staying literally all night watching 24. Remember that show?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: So literally it was just like binge watching it and went to bed at like 3 or 4 a. m. So that obviously derailed the whole day. And I was like, I'm so glad I did this. Anyway.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: That's, that was Alias and West Wing for me. So I would have my study schedule. And for me, I didn't use like those book planners because I knew that I was going to redo it. And we don't want like red marks on the planner. So I used to print out monthly calendars, you know, those monthly, you can just like go to Google and like print it out, said, print out this calendar.

    I would have my study schedule for this is for boards after medical school. And I would write out all the chapters and practice bulletins that I had to read by specific dates. But Alias and West Wing just took over my life. And then I would reprint out brand new calendars. Because again, with a perfectionist brain, I wanted a fresh start.

    I don't want red lines and like, I don't, I want the green check marks. So yeah, I mean. Absolutely.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Have you heard of erasable pens?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Listen, erasable pens don't fully erase the pen. You know what I'm saying? Like, you can see the, you can see the, like, the redness underneath.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, you couldn't have that. You couldn't have the dents from the, from the...

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Oh, no. Oh, no. I don't want that. It needs to be perfect, clean, crisp paper. It feels really good. I love fresh starts.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: All right. So speaking of plans, you and I talked about how when you are so elaborately planning, it's almost as if... You think or like they think the plan is what's going to be the thing that gets them to the goal and that's just one part of it right and they kind of ignore the part that isn't the plan. So let's talk about that a little bit.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah, so I think that the plan or the strategy that we have is 30 percent of what's required to hit a goal. So we don't want to poopoo the plan or like brush it under the rug. Your strategy really does matter. But I think instead of us spending 30 percent of our bandwidth on the plan, most high achievers are spending 95 percent of their bandwidth on the plan that's only going to create 30 percent of the impact. So the other pieces that I think are really important are to know that The plan is 30%. The other piece of it has to be implementing consistently. So really following through on what you said you were going to do. That's the other 30 or less, let's be 33. 33 3%. And then the last piece of it that I find again, for my clients and high achievers that want to hit goals is leveraging imperfect moments. So you're going to have this plan. If you followed it, you're not going to follow it perfectly because again, we're humans and have human brains. We're going to have mistakes.

    We might go off plan. We might again, have a Alias, West wing or 24 like binge and go off plan. And most high achievers don't have a very clear and specific process for how they're going to evaluate that. Evaluate their results, evaluate the fact that they've gotten behind. And they, again, what most of us will do is we'll go back to the plan, fresh start, print out a brand new calendar rather than leveraging and understanding I wonder why I went off plan. I wonder why I throw it away.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: I can't do this.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah, exactly. Or they'll give up on the goal or again, and then eventually some point will come along where they're like, you know, actually I do want the goal. And then again, fresh start again. So I think that that's a big piece of it, that most high achievers don't have part of their plan is to evaluate implementation and to evaluate results routinely. And I think the other piece of this, there's those three kind of components to goal set to goal, hitting your goal. But the other one that I find creates a lot of wobble is most high achievers haven't truly visualized where they want to go.

    They have this kind of vague idea of what their goal is, but maybe there's a little bit of fear. Like, I don't want to say it out loud. Cause if I say it out loud, if I don't hit it, I want to be disappointed. There's that piece of it. And then I think high achievers are so practically minded that they can't imagine or visualize themselves at a goal.

    So then they just don't set the goal. And when you don't set a goal, you have a lot of wobble in your strategy and in your plan because you don't have direction. Yeah.

    So that's the other piece of it.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: I literally just coached someone on this, this week. Like, so, you know, when I work with clients, obviously the goal at large is financial freedom, more money, work less, et cetera.

    Right. And those all sound great, but they're very vague. And so I literally asked her like, well, what do you actually want? And I just said, you know, you might not know what that is, but we have to pick something specific. And then she was saying that she works locums and is starting this new business. And I was like, okay, well, what, what do you want your life to look like?

    What do you want to look at? She's like, I would love to work maybe half the locum shifts and having more time to work on our business. I was like, okay. And she wants to maintain the same level of income. Right. Cause that's also important too. And so I asked her like, okay, so if you drop by half, like what is that amount?

    Like that's something you could calculate. And then she was like, oh, and then she told me the number. I don't remember. It was like a hundred K it doesn't matter. Right. And I said, okay. So then the question is how can you have a hundred K of income that's not coming from locum? Right. It's such a very specific question.

    And then I was like, and when I'm like, you have to pick a, you know, a date. So she picked five years and then I explained to her why this is so important. This can be valuable for everyone listening is like, I think of, and I'm curious to hear how you explain it to your clients. I'm like a goal gives you direction because if it's just like work less, it's like, that's you're like in a forest. You're like, I don't know where work less is.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: What does work less mean? Yeah, absolutely.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. And then I said the timeline. basically informs what decisions you need, you need to make now or later, right? Cause I told her like, you're gonna make very different decisions now. If the goal is one year versus five versus 10. So that's how I explain it. How do you explain it?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah, I so I think about if you imagine running a marathon or running a long race and you have this goal at the end, then I think about having a timeline as like the mile markers along which you're going to get to that goal. And I think that this is especially important, at least I see this with weight loss, and I'm sure it's Also true with business, but like, let's say you have 10 pounds to lose or 50 pounds to lose.

    You can see they're both very different goals, but we want to attach a timeline because that's how we are going to evaluate more with higher quality evaluations. If I don't set a timeline for my 10 pounds down or my 50 pounds down, then. The evaluation also becomes vague. So that's, again, remember that 33 percent of hitting goals is being able to evaluate.

    I wonder how the last mile went. Like, did I slow down? Did I get really tired? Did I not pace myself? Well, did I forget to drink water? Did I not breathing the way, I mean, I'm not a runner by the way, for anyone listening, I'm not a runner, but like, there are certain pieces of your implementation for the last mile that you might want to evaluate.

    And I think that having the timeline allows the quality of our evaluation to. To level up. If we don't put the timeline, then I think that we stop really giving ourselves the information of the last mile that's going to help us run better than next mile. So it's not just a timeline for the goal, but I think the other piece of timelines is having regular intervals that you're evaluating and putting that to a timeline as well.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. No, I love the mile marker um, analogy. Yeah. I remember giving a talk and, you know, asking people what they, you know, What they would love to do. And someone said, travel more, which is a very common answer. And I was like, well, how much more let's get specific. And she was like, Oh, right. Cause people don't think about that.

    Cause then basically I was like, well, how will you know that you're traveling more? Yeah. The extent of what you just said. Yeah. Yeah. And, but exactly, I think what we're, you know, the, the punchline here is to get really specific with your goal. So I've been helping people do that, you know, just like, oh, well, this is what I want.

    What is that number? Cause if it comes down to a number that's like, well, how fast do you want to get there? And that was explaining like, and then she was telling me she wants to look into this type of investing. And I just was like, in order to reach the timeline you want, like this is what's, you know, there's different investment vehicles have different speeds of making money is really what it comes down to.

    And unfortunately the ones that make money the fastest require a lot more time and effort, but it's not like, and then when I say that people get scared usually, but you have to, you know, yeah, what I remind them is like, but you have to remember that right now you are doing a direct time for, um, Money exchange and that's never going to change like the increments aren't going to change.

    In fact, you get paid less The longer you are a doctor per unit of time like it's right the only profession where this happens I believe like yeah, it was like reverse inflation. Anyway, that's a whole nother conversation Yeah, and I was like, yeah, there's gonna be some initial effort. You're gonna have to learn things which you know type a experts, doctors they're like used to being experts so to be a beginner is like Not exactly, you know, pleasure inducing, but I try to remind them like, but it's, it's relatively short term.

    It's not like you have to do this sustained effort and time in order to do that. And so actually I was posing to this client, like, the question is, are you willing to do that to get the result that you want? Because we know what's going to happen if you don't. Right.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: So that's, we already know that. Yeah. Yeah. And I think the other thing that I love that you just said about the timeline is it really helps you see whether you've hit what you wanted to hit. I had a client, this is so, this was so fascinating. Her goal was before we started working together that she wanted to lose, I think it was like 1.4 pounds a week.

    And we evaluate every week and every month, by the way, I know it was like, I think that she had done some, again, as we do, we do some like random math, you reverse divide and you come up with the number. So she had 1. 4 pounds. And, and you know, again, so like I have evaluation is a very key part of what I do with my clients.

    So we evaluate every week and every month. So every, so in our monthly evaluation, she said, I'm so disappointed in my results. I thought I would be, these were her words. I thought I would be further along. I feel so disappointed. I kind of feel like it's not working. And I was like, let's just, let's evaluate this.

    What's the math. She lost 1.4 pounds per week over the month. And when she actually saw the numbers. Her goal, but she in her mind and again, I think high achievers do this. We have this lens with thinking that what we're creating is not good enough, but having specific goals to set to a timeline, we had to like show her brain how she was so steeped in it's not going to work. It's not working. It's not fast enough. Because again, listen, we all wanted results yesterday. We all wanted more money yesterday. We wanted to have lost the weight by yesterday. So it makes a lot of sense that our brain is like, it's not fast enough. I'm like, but, um, you hit your goal.

    literally her mind was blown. She was like, Oh my gosh, I didn't, I didn't even see it like that. I wasn't even looking at the numbers. I just had this perception because that's what vagary does. Vagary is just like my perception is something is not working. And I think getting specific is not actually being like, wait, actually maybe it is.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, yeah, because exactly when it's vague, you can't measure it like, like sample of travel more. I'm like, well, what does that mean? Does it mean like, yeah, more doesn't mean like half the year, etc. So, yeah, yeah. Okay, awesome. So one thing that you told me that I thought was really I just love the way you thought about it is what you call future aligned decision making.

    So let's talk about that. Actually, you explain it since this is your thing.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah. So I think about future aligned decision making as kind of getting wisdom from the version of you that has achieved the goal. So the way that I think about this from like, I'm going to use weight loss as an example. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, I want you to imagine that done. You're living in the life of someone that is 10 pounds lighter. You feel better in your body. Maybe you feel more energized. And that version of you is the version of you that you can imagine sustaining that lifestyle. So you're not like, you know, doing a crash diet or a juice cleanse to lose 10 pounds.

    You're eating in a way that truly feels like you're ride or die BFF lover for life. You can sustain it forever. Imagine that that was done and now reverse engineer how you got there. So I think about a lot of times what High Achievers do is we set into plan making now, looking at our results now, and we think about all the things we have to do.

    So we ended up overloading our action plan to create the goal rather than the reverse, which is what I call future aligned decision making. Imagine you're already there. It's sustainable. It's done. How did she create that, that version of you that's 10 pounds down? How did she get there in a way that felt simple and sustainable?

    What hard decisions did she have to make? What decisions did she make that felt really simple? And I think this is like, it's nice for me. It was nice for me to think about this for, in my own personal journey, a big part of what I had to say no to. I used to love Cool Ranch Doritos, and what I would often do is make Cool Ranch Dorito dinner.

    Cool Ranch Dorito dinner would be a thing. Okay, so for those of you that really want to know, you take a Kraft cheddar cheese, the shredded kind, and you sprinkle it on top of Cool Ranch Doritos. You make a nice big plate of it, you pour a glass of wine, you settle in with Netflix, and you just have a night. You have a night of it.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Do you melt it first?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Of course. Oh, yeah. We have to microwave it for about like 45 seconds. You don't want it to get too, too melted because then the cheese burns and then that messes up the whole thing. So 45 seconds is like the perfect melted cheese. But I used to do this all the time.

    I used to get home from work after a busy shift at the hospital or maybe a late night delivery. And I felt like I just want a break. I want to treat myself. And this was my best. Like my best way of doing it. I had no other ways until I discovered coaching that this was how I got to treat myself. So that plan that I had made Monday morning, which was like, let's eat really healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we're going to do no flour.

    No sugar. Like I had all these ideas Monday morning, Wednesday night. I was like, screw that like cool ranch Dorito dinner and a glass of wine sounds really good. It was very easy for me to kind of quit on the decisions that I made Monday morning, because those decisions, I had made those decisions from hating where I was right now, as opposed to like future aligned decisions.

    I want you to think about like, okay, if I, for me, it was, I wanted to lose 60 pounds. I used to weigh 200 pounds when I created this. I was like, what is the version of me? She's lost the weight and she's learned how to take care of herself. She's lost the weight and she's had this late night delivery and she wants to feel better.

    How did she solve this without the Cool Ranch Dorito dinner? Like, I wonder. And all of a sudden you'd be surprised how brilliant our brains are at solving that problem. So I still, I mean, let me just be honest. I still do Cool Ranch Dorito dinner every now and then.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: I was going to ask that.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I totally do. And again, I totally still enjoy like two glasses of wine, my margaritas, I'll do Cool Ranch Dorito dinners every now and then, but I'm able to do it in a way that doesn't affect my goal because of this future line decision making that I'm talking about.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. So I do something, it's basically the same concept, like a future self meditation or visualization.

    And you said it so well, like, it is amazing how much wisdom and knowledge that people already have once they just put themselves there. Yeah. They can see that version of her. I remember doing this at my retreat last year and I had everyone share. And this is just, I'm just laughing because she was like, because I had them visualize this person, like, what is she wearing?

    How does she look? Etc. And then she was like, she looked just like me.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Oh, I love that.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: I'm like, well, of course it is you, right? But I think sometimes we think like, anyway, I thought that was just the funniest thing.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: It's like a whole different person. And I think the other piece of the future aligned decision making, the reason that it's so powerful in following through in the moment, like that Wednesday night that you're like, Oh, I just deserve a break.

    The reason that it's easier to follow through when you're thinking about your future is your brain is naturally hardwired for immediate gratification. So we know that, you know, I'm sure you've talked about this on your podcast that the motivational triad drives us to have immediate reward. And the reason for that is because we have given delayed reward, no value and no significance.

    It's like evolutionarily, I think humans are just like, I might get eaten by a lion or a bear. So immediate reward is more valued. So we have to do the lifting, the heavy lifting, the work of re like re giving it more significance and more value on a daily basis. It's a natural way of following through when you don't feel like it, when you remember delayed reward.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. And I think especially with, well, probably your clients too is, I think they have this like thought like, well, I've already, I've worked so hard to be where I'm at. I've already delayed my gratification. And so there's like that like sort of micro quit that happens. Right.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Absolutely. Because they want to feel taken care of and eating, drinking, scrolling, shopping, spending, you name it.

    That is a very, very quick way of solving the problem. So it makes a lot of sense that we have these habits of overeating or overspending in the moment because it does help you. There's a reason that we've developed those habits, but what we're talking about is if those habits are creating undesirable results, they might be worth challenging.

    And what if there was a way to be taken care of now, but it means doing the work of unwiring your brain, unlearning habits and learning new ones, you can actually also have the results that you want. Maybe that's more wealth. Maybe it's to hit your body goal. Maybe it's to feel better at work, at home, bringing that back into the into the mix.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, and one thing you said that I really liked is you talked about how think about yourself in the future who has to result and is also taking care of yourself.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah, we make decisions right now. We kind of hate where we are right now. And we're so desperate to get to the goal.

    Like I remember for my wedding, I worked out six days a week. I did those hundred calorie oatmeal packets. I was like, I have to hit, I mean, it's my wedding day, the photos, right? I was, it was like a very, like a big vanity metric that I want the photos. Who cares what angle it is. I want it, I want it to feel comfortable and confident.

    I was willing to, I counted every point in calorie I ate. And I remember every time that we would go out on a date, I was like, Oh, I might go over my calorie allotment. Like, let's just really be super strict with it because I was in such a rush. And I was willing to eat a hundred calorie oatmeal packets for months to hit my goal weight. And then not surprisingly, the day after the wedding, you better believe I stopped eating the a hundred calorie oatmeal packets. And I gained 60 pounds over 10 years because I had a strategy that was not sustainable, a strategy that I didn't love. Of course it wasn't sustainable. So it's like very interesting how we make plans from our current self, hating where we are now, because we're in such a rush versus what small tweaks would happen if your future self was making these decisions in a way that felt so sustainable.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, and one thing as you were talking, I also think it's hating where you are, but also like hating yourself, right? It's like a form of these plans that are like completely unrealistic and unsustainable. Like no spend months, for example, like everyone in January is doing a no spend month I'm sure they're doing like some version of that for weight loss.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah, absolutely.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, and it yeah It comes from I think a combination of hating where you are But also like it's a way to beat yourself up by like creating these like crazy Unrealistic action plans that are 100 percent destined to crash and burn which then creates more like beating Of the self, right?

    Like why can't I even follow this plan that was completely unrealistic and would require super human, human or robot to do, right?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Absolutely. It's actually, I feel like a piece of that, the hating yourself piece, which I think again, for some high achievers, this is very obvious and overt. You have a very strong negative self talk. For someone like me my negative self-talk was very subtle. So like it was very, very subtle. It wasn't very obvious, but the one for me was, you should have figured this out by now. You should be further along. And that would be the reason that I would be like, maybe if I did like 800 calories a day, maybe if I did no carb, maybe if I stopped eating potatoes, which is like literally my favorite food of all time.

    Then I will like lose the weight. So that was my way of having negative self talk or like not, not loving myself was I should have figured this out. Everybody else seems to be figuring this out so easily. It must just be this unique defect of mine. And so like, let's punish ourselves. I didn't think of it as punishment at the time.

    I was like, this is what I have to do.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, no, I totally see that. I think a lot of my quote unquote negative self talk was it. Part of it was like, it didn't seem that mean to me, but also what I've realized is you get used to that way of thinking, it doesn't even seem mean. You like, and then until you say it out loud, cause even just verbalizing out loud, you could just be like, Oh, that's not nice.


    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: So, but it's so common because you see other people doing it, right? You see other people doing no spend months. It's like, Oh, that must be just like the thing we do nowadays. Or you see people being like no carb. Right? Like high protein. What is it? Keto. Like, you know, I'm going to do protein. It seems so normalized.

    And I think that that creates this conditioning for women. We look around us thinking that, Oh, that's the right way or that's the normal way. So I might as well hop on that bandwagon and try that out. The idea of challenging that I think is very uncomfortable.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Okay. So another thing that I thought would be really good to talk about, and I don't even think I've specifically talked about it this way.

    But so the money analogy is that it's like giving money all the responsibility for making you feel secure, right? Because everyone's trying to feel They want more money because they think it's gonna make them feel secure Right, even though there's evidence that that didn't happen when you went from a resident to an attending, right?

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: So true.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, they're just basically And I do this to abdicating everything to money as if money is going to make you feel better as if It has nothing to do with you Yeah. So if I, and I think basically what you and I are helping our clients with is like, it's not money's job. It's your job to feel secure. Yeah. But it's so tempting to put a loan loan.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I love that you're saying that a certain amount of money's so good.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Once you have a certain amount of money, then I will feel safe and secure. And then people are surprised when they don't feel better. I mean, maybe you'll feel a little bit better, right. For sure.

    But then, you know, this is like kind of also a bit of like scarcity, having not, you know, not enough money is I've seen it, um, it just like morphs into, I'm afraid I'm going to lose all my money.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Hmm. Right. And I think it also turns into like a line in, in, in sand, it kind of keeps moving. So you might make a hundred K and you think that, Oh, that's when I'll feel secure.

    And then you make a hundred K and you're like, you know, actually, because I don't feel secure yet, maybe it's 200 K and then you'll make 200 K and maybe you'll feel that security for like maybe all of a day. And then your brain is like, you know, maybe half a million. And I think the same thing happens. I think with any goal, if you think that the goal, losing the weight, making the money is what's going to create your feeling of security or certainty, it's going to be the constant hustle.

    It's like, because it's constantly moving, a moving line because humans are designed to keep growing. So your brain is naturally thinking about the next. The next thing. And I think that, I mean, my Cool Ranch Dorito dinner is a good example. Cool Ranch Doritos, glass of wine and Netflix was like my way of feeling taken care of.

    So that's the language that I would put for, for me, it was like, I want it to feel taken care of. I want it to feel relaxed and secure. Finally, I finally put my kid to bed and I've been dealing with, you know, Maybe some difficult cases in the OR or that challenging patient or something my colleague or boss said, I'm like, this is my time.

    I just want to relax. And what we've done, and this has been again, socialized in every part of our culture is we've just given food, a job or money, a job that it was not meant to have. We've just given like given these jobs away that we didn't know was actually our responsibility. And what we, what I think you and I are talking about in our podcasts and what we want to share with the universe is what would it look like to take that responsibility back?

    What if it didn't have to be so hard? Well, what if we took the responsibility back? Then you could actually just enjoy your Dorito dinner or spending that money on something and take it or leave it. You're taken care of. You feel secure either way. I mean, to me, that is just priceless.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. Well, it's because it's basically, you know, taking having agency, realizing that it's in your power because it's a very powerless position.

    If it's someone, something else outside of you that you feel like, well, that is external, right? So I'm curious. We're not going to obviously. I'm not going to be able to explain this all at once on a podcast, but this is obviously like part of the work that we have to help our clients with. Right? So I'm curious, like what are some of the first things that you do with your clients to take that responsibility back?

    I think maybe number one is like, just even telling them like, Hey, this is what we're going to work on. Cause it's not a human's job.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah. Well, I think it's important. Yeah. So I think that that's an important piece. But again, I think for our high achiever brains, we do better when we have tangible specific strategies ready to go, like a framework that we know that we can follow.

    So the first thing that I like to do with my clients is actually help them create a strategy and I, and I use the word strategy on purpose because it's not just a meal plan. It's a strategy that has folded in your way of eating. Remember that ride or die BFF lover for life and eating in a way that will promote fat loss.

    So I teach my clients a very specific way of eating that they can fit into their real life, where they eat the cuisines that they love, that they can customize to them, and they can actually imagine eating in the long run. So that's the first thing. And what that does, I think that that creates kind of this security and safety, like, okay, I'm not going to be eating canned green beans or like, I don't know, frozen peas as my way of eating.

    I can eat potatoes. I can have a glass of wine. I can even have Doritos if I want them. Like there's a way of eating that will support me hitting my goal. And that I think creates that again, that safety and security. And now what we get to do once that plan is secure is now we also have to fold into our strategy.

    How are we going to be evaluating this on a regular basis? That goes into our game plan, where on your calendar are you putting this? I think, again, what we do is like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm going to evaluate and it's like, when, where, how long are you going to take? How are you going to do it? So I really want my clients, and again, I think it's so important to get super specific about this.

    Like, when do you have 30 minutes? In your whole week that you're not folding laundry or checking your email that you can actually dedicate to this, to this goal that you really want and putting it on your calendar, blocking it off. Like, it's the most important meeting you're going to have with like the CEO of your life, which is you.

    So like that, these are, it's these other pieces that I think we often overlook because we go right to the plan that I help my clients do. Then what I like to share is guess what we get to do now. We get to go implement messily.

    Which they hate, which I think, again, high achievers hate messy implementation. We want to implement perfectly, but I'm like, it's just not going to be the way that it goes. I want you to have imperfect moments. I know you don't want to have imperfect moments. I want you to have imperfect moments so that I can now coach you on exactly what happened.

    And we can iterate on it and leverage those moments and then go again and again and again. Imagine if you did that where you're going to be six months from now. It's like so far.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, there's so much. It's so funny. I was thinking about, like, as you were talking, I was like, Did we take imperfect messy action in our medical training?

    I mean, for sure, like, none of it was perfect. I mean, I feel like we all have... We all had that person in our class that seemed to do everything perfect.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: But like the goal was per, I think that this is so good for physicians, especially as, and this was why this was probably one of the biggest personal barriers I had to overcome to lose the weight was with my physician brain, we are, I mean, imperfect moments are absolutely not recommended.

    Like a patient's life is on the line or like your patient's health, which is important, right? Is on the line. Imagine as a surgeon, you're like, let's say imperfect moments in the OR. No. Right. Like us, there's a reason that I think physicians especially really, um, strive for perfect moments to have perfect implementation, but what we're talking about is not imperfect moments is not the goal, it's just a part of being human.

    So it, I think what's important to know is that we've been steeped in the tea of wanting to do perfectly because of our physician upbringing our physician, our physician education, but what would it look like if we stopped really hiding from the mistakes we have made, like even with the patient in the OR with your, with your colleague or boss, what if we stopped hiding from those imperfect moments that actually do end up happening and didn't make it mean anything about our capability, about our skills, about ourselves as humans, like what would we then get to learn from moving forward?

    But so there's a reason that physicians are like so focused on doing perfectly. It's like part of our training.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Oh yeah, no, for sure. And also like minimizing risk as much as possible, which unfortunately does not work when it comes to making and growing your money, I should say specifically, because I guess you could just keep working as a physician.

    Um, yeah, as you were talking, and this is completely like a side note, like, and this is, and the public, I think, expects perfection out of doctors. Like, we're not seen as humans. You know, the unfortunate reality is no doctor is going to be a hundred percent perfect. Like things happen, mistakes are made. And I think that almost reinforces our need to be perfect.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Absolutely. And it's like this impossible standard that I think we, you know, when you hear, and it's not just, you know, in a couple of places, people in general, like doctors should not make mistakes, right? Like that's probably a pretty common standard phrase that you might hear someone say. And the trouble is that physicians start believing it too.

    And start operating from this impossible standard that I'm not supposed to make any mistakes. Again, this is not to say that we are trying to make mistakes, right? Again, that would be very all or nothing to think I'm being complacent now. I don't care. That's not what we're saying. I think what we're saying is that we don't want to make mistakes, but know that they will happen.

    And we don't have to hold ourselves to an impossible standard. We can just challenge the standard. Start feeling better right now.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: And, you know, one thing that we're not, but I think is sort of weaved into everything we talked about is helping our clients like themselves more, love themselves more. The word love feels weird to me.

    That's probably my own, like, that's what I have to like work on. Right. But just like, like themselves more, like taking care of themselves more. Right. Cause you can't reach these goals, hating yourself the whole time.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah. I actually think it's kind of funny because, and I was like this too, this idea of self love.

    I'm like, what does that even mean? Like self love? Like, like, what is that? Right? Like, I mean, I know I love my kids and I can feel that for them, but I mean, self love feels a little bit indulgent or a little silly. And I realized over, over, I think the last few years, and especially as I was losing all of the weight was it wasn't just feeling love for myself because that felt again, foreign to me.

    What for me turned into was how I talk to myself generally on a day to day basis. So before I think coaching and before a lot of this work that we're talking about, I didn't even realize this, but I had kind of this like not enough critical lens, pressury, like go get more, go do more, go do better was the constant monologue that I had in my mind, which feels, if you feel the energy and the texture of that, it just doesn't feel very good.

    Rather than what I've really worked on over the last few years is like, I always have your back. I've got you all the time. Like, let's go, let's go hit that big goal. Like, let's go do this hard thing. I've got you. I've got you. And it's like this constant monologue of, I've got you. I mean, I just feel so taken care of and cared for.

    And I think that that's been my expression of self love. Like even for me, love self love is like, well, I still am like, what is that? But it's that monologue of how I talk to myself now that Has really shifted and it's not surprising. It's kind of crazy, but I don't need, I don't crave the Dorito dinners anymore.

    Or like, you know, it's not, I'm like, I don't need it anymore because I'm like, listen, the way that I talk to myself is so different. I naturally feel more taken care [00:38:00] of. It's, and it's feel so much better. Can you imagine with your kid? It's like, I use children analogies a lot because I work with professional moms.

    And I think that they're so good because, you know, the care that we have for our child is so available to us. It's like, would you ever say to your kid, like, what an eff up? Like, I cannot believe you screwed up. Like, you're probably never going to make that team. Can't believe you. Didn't work. Don't even try again.

    Like, you would never say that to your child, but do you know how often we're saying that to ourselves? It's like all the time.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: No, totally.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Which is crazy.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. So it's funny. Like, so again, I'm like self love. I'm like. It just felt like something high up there or like super like granola, crunchy, crunchy stuff.

    Yeah. And I love what you said. Like it's the way you're talking to yourself. And actually the way one of my mentor coaches said, and this is great. She's like, self love is not a destination. So I think that was really, she said that I was like, Oh, cause I think in our minds we think like it's this destination that once we get, well, I don't know, I'm not even sure what we think is going to happen, but something great.

    And she said, it's simply a really like the relationship you have with yourself and as you and I know, relationships are basically thoughts about a person. And so self love is really the relationship you have with yourself. And the way you know how your relationship is, is by how you talk to yourself.

    And it's so funny, like when I meet new people who are like newer to coaching, they're like, what do you mean talking to yourself? I'm like. All the sentences in your brain that are happening right now.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: What do you mean?

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. They're like that, that, that's...

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I used to just think that like, okay, this is so crazy when I remember before I discovered coaching, I was like, this is just who I am.

    This was, I mean, I was like, that's just me. That's just me. I'm stubborn. My husband calls me. I'm like, so stubborn. I'm like, I'm just a stubborn person. I just, well, I'm just like, you know, rigid. And it was so crazy when I first discovered coaching, which was like through a podcast like this, I was like, wait a second.

    My thoughts are optional. I'm like, Oh. What? It really blew my mind to even understand as a concept that thoughts are just sentences in our brain that we have on repeat, that we've been so unconscious of, which I think is crazy. And just one thing that came up to me, came to me when you were speaking about our monologue, the analogy that we had at the beginning, the race that you're running, you have this goal.

    And as you're like the runner on the race, the way that I like to think about your monologue is the per your, your coach running alongside you. is yourself. So every time that you're running, can you imagine that coach being like, let's go, you've got this, like, let's go. You know what? That meter is like, let's just like amp it up.

    Let's get 10 seconds off our goal. Come on. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Or like you fumble. What will that coach say to you? They're not going to be like you, like you loser. I can't believe you didn't figure that one out. Like just quit the race. Now that that version of you is going to be like, listen, okay, you stumbled on that.

    Let's like figure this out. Like, let's go. That is how you hit goals. It is fundamentally changing that relationship with yourself, but I think people are so unaware of how to do that, which is why coaching is magic. Yeah. That's my thoughts about it.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah, no, totally. Obviously, like we wouldn't be coaches if we didn't see the magic in it.

    And yeah, we, a lot of us think that the way to get to our goal is by like shitting on ourselves. Yeah. As if that's going to create the motivation, right. And it might, you know, get you started, but again, as we've been talking about, it's unsustainable. Okay. This is really good for me because Obviously, I'm a perfectionist.

    And I think also...

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: As we all are. As we I mean, me too. I still, I still have that. Yeah.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. So it's not about, like, never being a it's, it's, you know, I think it's something that's always gonna sort of be there, but it's more like the reminding of ourselves and, you know, getting out of that perfectionist thinking. Okay. So is there anything that you...

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: I think that this last piece is important, like the goal is not to not be a perfectionist. The goal is to recognize your tendencies and how they might be creating obstacles and become so aware of them that you can engage with them and change her. The way you show up.

    So like, I still hate failing. I still hate mistakes. I hate imperfect moments. I hate it. But now instead of hiding from them, I'm like, Ooh, that felt terrible. Ooh, that feels kind of vulnerable. Ooh, that's kind of embarrassing. And I can just, again, imagine the person talking to me. I'm like, okay, it makes a lot of sense you hate this because remember, we love perfect things. And also like, let's just go solve this. So I think the goal is not against all or nothing to assume that coaching will change all of that, because this is not something to be fixed. It's just the way that I think humans are designed and high achievers just have a higher amped up volume on the perfectionist tendencies.

    But I, at least that's my, my, my, my opinion. It's not to get rid of it. It's just to know it and understand how to manage it.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Awesome. Okay. How can people find you Priyanka? Because obviously you're awesome and amazing.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Yeah. So I am @theunstoppablemombrain everywhere on the internet. I have my podcast, The Unstoppable Mom Brain podcast and @theunstoppablemombrain on Instagram and on the worldwide web, on the Googles, on the googles, on the Googles.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. Same thing. Yeah.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: It's all the same. And I do, I do have a training on this specific topic on perfectionism and procrastination. So if anyone here is interested in that and you can get that at theunstoppablemombrain.com/training. And I kind of walk you through how to manage your perfectionist brain.

    Dr. Bonnie Koo: Yeah. Oh, that's amazing. That's an amazing resource. Okay. Okay. Okay. Everyone. Okay. Priyanka. Thank you so much for being here.

    Dr. Priyanka Venugopal: Thank you so much for having me. This was awesome. I love, love, love doing these podcast conversations with my friends, peers, and colleagues. Some of who are coaches, some of who aren't where we really get to dive into important conversations that I think every high achiever, every working mom can benefit from.

    I hope you enjoyed this conversation that we had today and that it sparked something for you. If you enjoyed this conversation and the kind of work that we discuss on this podcast, specifically for high achieving working moms to hit goals with more ease and more confidence to stop fearing making mistakes and to generally feel more calm and peace, not just on the scale, but in every corner of your life, head on over to theunstoppablemombrain.com. Over there you're going to find some free resources. I have an amazing five day email course that is totally free that you can enjoy starting today. And if you know that this is work you want to do specifically around weight loss, make sure that you get on the waitlist so that you are the first to know when my next Unstoppable group is opening for enrollment.

    If you know that this is work you want to do, you want to lose the weight with more calm and confidence handling any food scenario, make sure that you are on the waitlist for my next enrollment for the Unstoppable group. I recently wrapped up enrollment. Our next group is starting on October 8th. But if you want to get on the waitlist for my next group, which is going to be starting in 2024, don't wait, head on over to theunstoppablemombrain.com/group, where you can join the wait list and you'll be the first to know when doors open. I hope you all have an amazing rest of the week and I will see you next time. Bye.

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