Episode #30: Unraveling Habits with Dr. Kristi Angevine

Oct 25, 2022

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I cannot wait for you to listen in on this conversation with fellow OB/GYN, deep-dive coach, and habits expert, my friend and peer Kristi Angevine. We’re diving deep into unraveling habits on today’s episode, and showing you how you can create meaningful change that will trickle into every area of your life, including the scale.

We all have habits: brilliant shortcuts that our brains have created to make our lives, in a sense, easier. Overeating, overdrinking, even worrying and overthinking are habits, so it makes a lot of sense that we wonder, “If my habits are so brilliant, why do they get in the way of me living a lighter life?” Well, if you’ve asked that question, today’s show is giving you the answers you need.

Tune in this week for a special conversation all about habits with Kristi Angevine. We’re discussing why it’s important to look at your habits through a non-judgmental lens, how to understand where your habits come from, the ways they’re impacting your life, and how to create real sustainable habit change.



I’ve created a brand-new FREE masterclass and you’re invited! On Monday, November 14th 2022 at 12PM Eastern Time I will be teaching you all about The Antidote to Willpower and Weight Loss. We’re debunking willpower and freeing you from the need to tap into willpower as a solution for weight loss, because it simply doesn’t work in creating permanent change on the scale.

So, reserve your seat by clicking here!

Pre-enrollment for The Unstoppable Group will be opening right after this masterclass, from November 14th through 19th, so mark your calendars because spots are limited.



What You’ll Learn from this Episode:


  • What made Kristi decide to start coaching, and why habits became her specialty.
  • Why understanding habits is incredibly important for high-achieving ninja working moms like you.
  • What holds so many of us back from taking a judgment-free look at our habits.
  • How to look at your habits through a framework of what’s working and what isn’t working.
  • Why willpower and self-criticism aren’t effective ways to change our habits.
  • How to get clear on the thoughts and stories you have around your current habits.
  • Why having the outside perspective of a coach helps you break down the barriers to truly understanding your habits.
  • The importance of making room for allowing imperfection as we work to understand our habits.
  • What you can do to start unraveling your habits and start the work of changing your habits sustainably.


Listen to the Full Episode:



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Featured on the Show:


Full Episode Transcript:

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  • Hey, this is Dr. Priyanka Venugopal and you’re listening to Weight Loss For Unstoppable Moms episode 30, Unraveling Habits with Dr. Kristi Angevine. I cannot wait for you to listen in on this conversation with fellow OBGYN, deep dive coach, and habits expert. My friend and peer, Kristi Angevine.

    We are getting deep into habits on today’s episode. We all have them, brilliant shortcuts that our brains have created to make our lives, in a sense, easier. Over eating, over drinking, even worrying and over thinking are simply habits. And so it makes a lot of sense that we wonder, wait a second, if my habits were meant to be so brilliant, how come they’re getting in the way of me living a lighter life?

    If this feels like you today’s conversation is just for you. We are going to talk about how to unravel your habits, your brain and body’s unique ecosystems, and how to really create meaningful change that will trickle into every area of your life and on the scale.

    And before we get into this conversation I want to make sure that you know about my brand new masterclass that is happening on Monday, November 14th at 12 pm Eastern Time. We are teaching and diving into the antidote to willpower and weight loss. Talk about habits, I really think that relying on willpower as a muscle to lose weight is just another habit. But as we all know, it just doesn’t work. In fact, it just creates more fatigue and frustration.

    If this sounds like something you want to understand and then, more importantly overcome, you belong in this masterclass. Reserve your seat over at theunstoppablemombrain.com/antidote. The details will fly right into your email inbox. And immediately after this class, pre-enrollment for my next Unstoppable group will be open. I hope to see you there and I cannot wait for you to start unraveling your habits. Let's get into my conversation with Kristi.

    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 you.

    Ready? Let's get to it.

    Priyanka: Hello, hello, welcome back, unstoppable friends. I have such an absolutely special guest today. We have Dr. Kristi Angevine joining us for a very special conversation. I'm going to have her introduce herself in just a moment, but let me just tell you a little sneak peek. We're going to be talking about habits.

    And I know that habits are something that literally apply to the busiest working mom, to the high achiever at work, with your kids, at home, in your relationships. Habits are something that define the results that we are creating and having a habits expert, like Kristi, is going to be really special.

    So Kristi, thank you so, so, so much for coming today and having this conversation. Tell us all about you and how you got into coaching and habits. Oh, and did I mention that she's an OBGYN? So there's that too. Go ahead.

    Kristi: Well, I love that introduction so much. And it's just so fun to be here because we just met about a week ago for a similar conversation and I left that conversation eager to continue talking. But I love that introduction so much because 4, 5, 10 years ago I would never have envisioned that somebody would have me on their podcasts and say, “And our habits expert, life coach, and oh, by the way, OBGYN.”

    Priyanka: Oh, by the way, yeah.

    Kristi: Right. So anyways, I'm Kristi Angevine and I am also an OBGYN and I do deep dive coaching similar to you. I really love internal family systems informed coaching. And I sort of fell into habits coaching simply because I was really interested in repetitive thought patterns and sort of almost just unclear etiologies for the ways we emotionally respond to things and our repetitive behaviors.

    And my early coaching I did focus on helping physicians who were struggling with drinking more than they wanted. And so when I was thinking about, okay, so how do I talk about this in a way that takes away some of the stigma? I started realizing that talking about the behavioral habits, the mindset habits, those sort of pattern emotional responses worked really well for physicians who were wanting to work on their drinking, or their eating, or their scrolling, or something that just felt compulsive.

    And the more I dove into habits themselves, the more I realized how fascinating it was. So the way I got into coaching is like how many of us did, I heard a podcast. I was on call one night waiting for a baby to deliver, staring at a strip that was kind of benign and thought, “What the heck, I'll listen to this podcast.” And I was instantly, like somebody put their talons in me and were like, “Listen, all this cognitive behavioral coaching stuff, it's amazing.”

    And it wasn't long before that, after listening to that podcast that I remember very vividly in this current house we're in, being at our island in our kitchen talking to my husband saying, “I'm pretty sure I must sign up for a coach certification. It just has to happen. I don't know, I can't explain why this really must happen.”

    And thinking he was going to look at me like I had three heads because his background is in critical care nursing. Coaching is not anything that is on his radar. And being absolutely delighted when he said, “If you feel like this about it, you just have to do it.” So that's how I started and here I am. And it really, like that intuition at that moment was like a moment of clarity for me that has stayed stable over the years.

    Priyanka: Yeah. I think it's so interesting because you're right, who would have thought a few years ago that you and I, two OBGYNs, would be sitting here having a conversation about coaching, and mindset, and habits, and living a lighter life, effectively? Who would have thought a few years ago that we would be having this conversation?

    And it's interesting because what you shared about your husband was kind of similar with me where I had that good on paper, everything felt reasonable and things were fine. But they didn't feel great, if that makes sense. And I stumbled onto this podcast and I told my husband about it and I was like, “So there's this thing, this coaching thing.”

    And he was like, “I don't really understand what this coaching thing is.” And I mean even nowadays he will sometimes be like, “You know that coaching thing.” But he could see that I was so lit up about it and felt that intuitive hit of like this is something I have to pursue, pursue it deeply. And then here we are a couple of years later talking about coaching, which is so amazing.

    Kristi: Right. I would have predicted we would be on here talking about, you know, trial of labor after a C section, or GBS prophylaxis, or hysterectomy technique. And we are not.

    Priyanka: No, we are not talking about all of the OBGYN things, which we have loved to talk about before. But now I think we get to talk about impact with habits. So just, you know, the first question that I have for you is why do you think that habits are so important?

    Kristi: So somebody the other day sent me a quote and it was, I'm going to totally get it wrong. But it was something to the effect that we don't choose our future, but we do choose our habits. And when we choose our habits, then we therefore decide our future. And the idea that what we repetitively do subconsciously, on default, how we repetitively think, even if we don't maybe know why, what we naturally believe even if we haven't questioned it, the idea that that can have far reaching impact, to me is just so profound.

    And so I love looking at things that come naturally to us. Because those things that come naturally to us are the things that we habituate, that are our habituated approaches. And so when we can look at what comes naturally and just sort of look at and go, “Oh, that's so interesting that I naturally do that, naturally think that, naturally feel that.”

    And when we can look at those and go, “Okay, these are the things I love. These are maybe my strengths, my natural inclinations that really serve me. And these other things that I naturally do on default, maybe they don't serve me so much.” When we can look at them from that framework then I think it's so, it's non-pathologizing but it is very easy to look at. I mean if we could just do an inventory of our life, we can see what our habits are just because they're the things we do every day.

    Priyanka: You know when you just said that, the very first thing that came to my mind was this idea that we look at our habits, like what you were just describing. And I know I've done this and I'm sure many of my listeners, like we kind of blame ourselves. We catch some habits that maybe we don't like and we don't look at it objectively. We turn it into a pathology, right?

    Like we turn it into like something is wrong with us or I can't believe that I naturally created that habit. How come I did that? How come other people don't have that habit? It's like what do you say about that? Because I feel like that is one of the things that held me back, still holds me back from really looking, cleanly, the habits that I have.

    Kristi: So I think that's such a keen question because I think what you just described so well is a habit in and of itself. The habit of criticizing and then presuming that whatever we're looking at must be a result of some either incompetence, unique defect, something wrong with me. And that is a habit in and of itself. And that is extremely, I mean, I don't know if it's universal, but I would wager that it's extremely common.

    It probably comes from really like younger stages in our life where, and my theory on this is, you know, sort of an amalgamation of every other person's theory on where these things come from is that something may have occurred, probably many, many, something's may have occurred. And if we didn't have an explanation for why something felt difficult, or confusing, or unclear, a way to get a little bit of control is to say, “Well, this must be because of something I did or something about me.”

    And if something is, you know, something seems really scary or seems really negative, it's maybe a way to say, “Oh, well, I can't explain this, but if there's something wrong with me that explains why this occurred or explains why things are, then at least I've got a theory or a hypothesis and maybe I could fix that.

    So if that little morsel of an idea grows with us through adulthood, then anytime we see something in ourselves that we don't really like we can conclude, well, it's just because there's something uniquely wrong with me that I stay up too late, or uniquely wrong with me that I keep pressing snooze, or that I ate the whole sleeve of Thin Mints, or one of my patients would bring me this [inaudible] of Thin Mints, that it would go away, there's something wrong with me.

    So that idea of judging ourselves for a habit, I think is so common. And that can be a barrier to the change because we might want to change and think that, okay, well, we must change by either forcing ourselves to change our behavior, using willpower or strong arming ourselves. Or in some way just trying to criticize ourselves to a change.

    Priyanka: Yeah, oh my gosh, what you're saying right now is just blowing my brain a little bit. Because I have always thought about habits like, you know, overeating, over drinking over scrolling. And the way I've talked about it even on this podcast is it's a habit that we created at some point some years ago because in our brain it served some purpose. Maybe we got to avoid, or distract, or numb some uncomfortable emotions, that was our best skill set at the time. And here we are now, we're like turning the light switches on and we're becoming conscious of these habits.

    But what you're talking about here is the barrier that sometimes gets in the way of us addressing those habits. So I think that that is so important to just spend a little bit of time on. When we think about that habit, so maybe as a young child we saw the world, we saw something either scary or difficult and we created a story about it in our mind. The best way to explain the story was we made it about us, something was missing, we did something wrong.

    And now we've grown up with that, it's a little hard wired maybe in our subconscious brain. How do we just start to recognize that this barrier is there? How do we just start to kind of ease on the barrier so we can address these habits that we really, really want to solve?

    Kristi: Yeah, so I really, I think we share this, we both really love concepts and tools and ideas. And at the same time we really like to keep things practical. It's sort of like a hallmark of an OBGYN. Like, yes, there's theory, and yet we have to act.

    So when it comes to getting really realistic about this, I think it always comes down to awareness. And so one of the first steps, because not everybody does this, has this habit of having this critical barrier. But for those of us who do, the best way to do this is to bring up any habit you have that you've been trying to change. Any one, so your listeners can just be thinking, “Okay, what’s some habit that I've been working on for a long time, I've struggled to have sustainable change with?” And then just without overthinking it, just go, “Okay, how do I feel about the fact that I have this habit?”

    And if the way you feel is some form of discouragement, or defeat, or there's something wrong with me, or guilt or anything that's not like something more neutral to positive, you could guess that perhaps the story that you're carrying with you is one that's more critical. Like what's wrong with me that I do this? Because as soon as somebody says that to me, externally, “What is wrong with you that you did this?” If I really take that to heart, I will probably feel some version of discouragement. But if I do it to myself I’ll feel the same thing.

    Priyanka: Yeah. Oh my gosh, I love that as just like such a practical way to take inventory and assess whether we have this as a barrier. Maybe not everybody does, but I would just be willing to guess that many listeners who are high-achieving working moms, women, humans in general, probably have some flavor of this because it has just been there for decades. And I love that.

    So when we, do you recommend when we imagine looking at habits, when we, let's say, think about the habit of what I wanted to talk about today was overthinking and ruminating and dwelling. But you could probably plug in any habit, overeating, over drinking, over scrolling, overworking is a habit.

    So if we think about any of those overing habits and we uncover this barrier, do you think it's possible to make sustainable change in both at the same time? Or is it important to really address this barrier first, before you move on to really looking at the habits you want to change?

    Kristi: The caveat here is that everybody has their own unique way, there's not a one size fits all. But I don't think that you can address the habit in a sustainable way if you don't either prior to address the judgment, or at the same time. I think concurrent is totally fine. You say “Oh, I noticed that I'm judging myself for over scrolling. Okay, interesting. I have that going on and I'm curious why I do that and I'm curious why I over scroll.”

    You can do some simultaneously, but I don't think you can leave out the part that judges. Because I think when we leave that part out we're presuming that once we fix the habit, we'll stop judging ourselves. And then what we do is we stop, let’s say, over scrolling, but that judgment part is just so hard wired, to use that analogy, that it will just continue. It will just find something else to judge us about. Well, now we're just late all the time. And now we didn't wear the nicest outfit. Now we said something dumb. And now it'll just find another thing to criticize.

    Priyanka: Okay. So I think, like when I really imagine what you're talking about it's, because as we've talked about before prior to even recording, and even last week on your podcast. The idea that we like to have, I know I do, systems and processes. I like to have strategy, I like to have step wise. And I know that I think a lot, and I know I felt like this even when I first discovered coaching like, okay, that sounds really good. The theory of what you're talking about sounds really good. But what's step one, and then step two, and then step three?

    And I think this is like the physician in us. We're used to protocols and algorithms. But what you're talking about, and tell me if this is true, is almost like giving ourselves permission to zoom out and be flexible to like massage this. Let both things happen at the same time without there needing to be a set step one, step two, step three.

    Kristi: Yeah. So I think that's a really great point because for those of us who really do like give me all the steps and give me the how, it can feel disconcerting to say, “Well, you can just kind of step back and just notice and bring some awareness to these things.” That might sound really uncomfortable and also highly impractical. But I do think that as we age we can do interesting things that are in maybe contrast to each other at the same time.

    So it doesn't mean that you can't have a structure for systematically looking at the judgment and systematically looking at a habit and investigating why they're there and then going on to change them. But it does suggest that, and I think this is super important that you brought it up, that if you have a foundation that's built on some kindness and compassion and a willingness to sort of give yourself the space to do something that, you know, we're going to be really clear about coaching, it is not do step A and then part one and two, and then move to Step B.

    Coaching is extremely nuanced. And so having a sturdy foundation from which to start that allows some flexibility and allows you to individualize the scaffolding or that organized system approach, I think is key. Because if you try to do that step wise approach, that's what we do when we Google, “How do I stop overthinking?” When you do how to stop overthinking we see the four steps, we try to do them and we wonder why maybe it doesn't work. That's when we box ourselves in.

    Priyanka: Right. And I think that this is the difference, and this is what's so brilliant about the work that you're doing. It's like we can read every textbook or every, and there are some amazing resources for habits and mindset work, but I think that there's one thing to read a book about it or listen to a podcast, like this one. This is where we get just get to spark our interest. And then there's another thing to actually live and get coached through it and implement it in real life.

    And I think that the step wise approach with a book, which I have tried, I have looked at lots of habit books and thought about habit changes. It doesn't help me see clearly my own brain. And I think that that's what coaching and being in a coaching community really unlocks. And I think we talked about this last time, it lets us skyrocket results when we put ourselves in coaching containers like that. What do you think about that?

    Kristi: Yeah, I mean, the first image that comes to my mind is somebody who is trying to get better at their swim technique. Often, I mean, it's really common for people to take a video of themselves swimming at the underwater, the above water, or to just bring in a swim coach. Because that person can actually see what they're doing and can say, “Hey, do you realize that when your hand is coming out of the water you're not pushing with your wrist or you're not doing this? And if you tweak this, you would just be so much more efficient.”

    It's hard to see it yourself when you're in the pool, like swimming through the water to know, oh, I hold my left shoulder up about half an inch. But somebody else can see it so much better and give you just more perspective more quickly. So it's not to say that you can't do it yourself. If the apocalypse happened and you're the only person in a pool and you just want to get better, you can totally do it, right? But sometimes it is just more efficient to have just outside perspective.

    Priyanka: Yeah. And the one thing that just came up when you said that was I think having a coach, we've overcome that first barrier. When you're evaluating and really looking at your habits of overthinking, ruminating, over eating, over scrolling, when you have a coach that's helping you see and understand those habits and your mindset, they're coming in with a clean, very open, loving perspective. There is no barrier of judgment.

    So then we get to coach on, I think, the habit right away, as you uncover the judgments for yourself. Like, what have been my barriers to evaluate this? Oh, I've been judging myself. I think that the coach kind of helps to overcome that piece. What do you think?

    Kristi: 100% because I think we can, like you and I, and a coach who's coaching me, we can and they can detect that judgment so much easier. Because, for me, my self-judgment is just a, it's a part of breathing. It's been with me for a long time, I don't pick up on it because it's really subtle. When it's really overt I pick up on it, and I've been doing this for a long time, and I still miss it. I will not catch little, tiny digs at myself.

    And so I think that's the way that a coach in helping somebody with habits can sort of do the rocket fuel approach. Because the habit change to the habit itself can be so much easier and so much, just takes so much less effort when you're not making yourself wrong the entire way.

    So if you can say, “Oh, wow, you're being really harsh on yourself about this habit,” address that. Then the habit change itself is, it's just so much simpler. Which might sound crazy to a listener who's like, “You're telling me if I stop judging myself, it'll be simpler to change my habit of being on my phone late at night?” I am absolutely saying that.

    Priyanka: I love that you're saying that because I think the argument here is, wait a second, but if I didn't judge myself, then I would just go to lazy and I would just like not care. It's like, if I'm not judging myself, I'm just going to be apathetic and scroll my phone anyway. So the judgment is like how I- Yeah, go ahead.

    Kristi: I'm sorry to cut you off, but I was just thinking, I mean, what you said is so important for people to hear. Because the reason why we do that, we connect judgment with high quality performance and if I remove the judgment it's going to be I'm going to be mediocre, or lazy, or bad, or something. The reason we did that is because that served a purpose at some point in time.

    At some point in time being a bit critical, being a bit harsh, being a little bit like, “Okay, listen, gotta go,” was probably really useful and really beneficial. And the part of us that does that has a good intent. And that good intent just may not serve us anymore. But we have connected when I'm harsh, then things turn out well. And that may have been really literally true at one point in time, it's just not serving you anymore. So it's like a pair of old jeans that you’re like, “These were great back in 1995. But now I could wear them, but maybe I don't love wearing them.”

    Priyanka: Yeah, and it also kind of reminds me a little bit of, I don't know if you ever watched the movie Sliding Doors where it's this movie that talks about this woman were they show her two lives. So one is when she makes this train and one is when she doesn't make this train. And they show what her two lives end up being just from making the train or not making the train.

    And the reason I brought this up is it kind of makes me think about, you know, we think that our judgment or that criticism, the habit of it, is creating some big results because high achievers have a lot of gold stars under their belt. They have a lot of accomplishments so they think it's been helpful. We have no idea what high achievements, what gold stars you would have also accumulated if you didn't have the judgment. That's just sliding doors, we don't know. What would the other life have been like? We just don't know.

    Kristi: I love you put that, I can't say it any better than that. It's just, you know, what if you achieved those things despite that high judgment being there? And what would it be like if it weren't?

    Priyanka: Yeah, I just think it's fun to play with that. But what I would kind of love to just take a pivot in the conversation to really think about one specific habit. When I think about working moms who are really just like ninjas at work, they are shuttling their kids around, they're thinking about meal prepping, and then the laundry, and then maybe next year's vacation. And also like reminding their partners to make sure that they take out the trash.

    When I think about high-achieving, ambitious working moms, they are ninjas and rock stars. And also I feel, because I'm going to put myself into the category, we find ourselves thinking a lot about our life. And I would love to just kind of have a conversation about the difference between thinking and mindset. Like really exploring our thoughts versus over thinking and rumination and dwelling and maybe a flavor of worrying. How do we distinguish the two?

    Kristi: Yeah, so I think we distinguish the two based on how they feel. You can look at the strict definition of rumination, which is if you have deep thought about something. You can ruminate about something in a way that's positive or you can, you know, when you think about veterinary medicine, you know, in cows, who have their, is it their rumen or something where they chew, and then they swallow and then it comes back up and they re-chew.

    And rumination that has sort of a negative connotations to it that we think about wanting to stop is usually the type where we almost compulsively can't stop the revisiting of something over and over and over and over. Not in a “Wow, this is so interesting. Look at this beautiful picture of my family. I wonder what so and so's thinking, this is great.” You could officially qualify that as like I'm ruminating about all these amazing things.

    But the rumination that really plagues us is the one where we are being compulsively drawn to revisit something over and over and over. And you feel, I’m sorry, I should say you can tell you're doing it based on how you feel when you're doing it. There's something either heavy or tight, or like I can't stop myself from doing it, but I wish I could. As opposed to just being thoughtful and being comprehensive and being detail oriented, and being just curious. Those feel totally different.

    Priyanka: Yeah, I would say that when I think about, because recently I would say that the most recent example for me has been doing a lot of rumination from a heavy place. So it's not the good kind, Kristi, it's not the happy kind of looking at the family photo. It was really thinking a lot about my son starting second grade in a new school, new kids, like the whole new thing. And he definitely had a lot of big feelings with the transition.

    And I found myself really thinking a lot and anticipating and worrying about tomorrow. And then thinking about, wait, how did he do last year? And it's almost like revisiting that process again and again and again, to the point where I felt kind of stuck in it. And I wonder whether, and I think that we can plug in anyone that thinks about a problem that they have and they're revisiting it again and again, and they almost can't get out of that cycle.

    And I want to add that we stay then in indecision. Or we make a decision then we come back to it again and again and again. So what do you say about like, you catch yourself doing this, you become aware of the habit, like it feels heavy, it's fatiguing, it's like, I'm so done thinking about this. How do we stop doing it?

    Kristi: Yeah, so I think, I mean one of the things that I really just want to emphasize that you just pointed out is that when we're doing the rumination that we may want to change, oftentimes it's coming from an emotion that has a heavy or unpleasant quality to it. And not that we need to fix anything that comes from an unpleasant emotion, but this is how you can distinguish it from just being thoughtful or being contemplative.

    The interesting thing about rumination is, and I think your listeners are familiar with the idea that the way we think sort of invokes how we feel, our feelings sort of shape our behaviors. But rumination is not only repetitive thoughts, you know, because we're repetitively thinking thinking, thinking, thinking. But it's also a behavior that comes from feelings and comes from a certain thought.

    And then because it's thoughts, it turns more feelings. And I think that's what can make us feel stuck, is we get into this rumination loop and we're like the person digging the hole with a shovel and we don't know what else to do but keep on digging.

    So in terms of how we address it and actually change it, I think there's some key things. Number one, for this type of habit, it's not one that usually is amenable to just saying, just stop.

    Priyanka: Yeah, just stop ruminating.

    Kristi: Just directing your brain to be like, “Like, just stop it, stop ruminating.”

    Priyanka: Stop thinking.

    Kristi: That usually doesn't work. Now, if that does, like if doing a grounding exercise and using some humor helps, amazing. There's probably, I don't know, what 5% of rumination that can stop like that, beautiful pivot. For the rest of it, it requires a different approach.

    And that different approach means that we have to actually understand why we're ruminating before we can change it. And that actually takes a little bit of time, which I think is really nice for those of us who ruminate. We like to think about things, we like to investigate things, so we can play on the strength that’s hidden in a rumination cycle to do that.

    So the sort of paradigm that I use for looking at rumination draws on internal family system. Now, internal family systems is a unique model in and of itself. And for people who are familiar with it, this will ring true. But for people who maybe aren't, internal family systems basically posit that we all have lots of parts. And it's a psychotherapy model that Dr. Richard Schwartz developed.

    And it says we're all made of parts. Like I had a part of me that was so excited to talk to you this morning. I also had a part of me that did not want to get out of bed. I have a part of me that wants to go exercise and a part of me that thinks that exercising is really dumb. And I have a part of me that really worries what people think about me. And I also have another part of me that just doesn't care.

    And so when we think about how we have all these different parts in ourselves, then when we use that lens, internal family systems or IFS, they see every person is a multiplicity. Like all of us are made up of all these different sort of sub personalities or sub entities, just like that movie, that children's film feature Inside Out where there are little characters inside.

    So like Derek Scott puts it really nicely, he says we're a habitat. So we have this, and like an ecosystem, all of these different parts have valuable roles they play. But the thing with habits like rumination is that sometimes the parts of us that have a valuable role to play get sort of forced out of their naturally valuable role into doing another role that may not serve us.

    And I think when we look at our habits like rumination like that, then we can see that it may have started out as something really helpful with positive intent, but it's over time morphed into something, for whatever reason. And so the part of us that ruminates may be naturally very good at being very thoughtful, very detail oriented, really creative, can imagine what things might be like in the future, can look back at the past and go, “Oh, that's why that happened.”

    And for some reason, that part of us that does that may have developed a learned response or an adaptive or coping mechanism to ruminate in the way that we're talking about it. And the way I look at rumination is essentially like there's a part of us that has a really good reason to ruminate. And it may have been protective or adaptive, but it's not serving us now.

    And when we look at it like that, that's when we come at it with this, like the judgment falls away when we say if there's a part of me that likes to ruminate and does it for good reason, but doesn't realize that it's actually not serving my whole system right now, how can I figure out why that came to be? And what else might I do with this energy to think and create scenarios in my mind?

    And in that way, that's where we can naturally sort of almost instead of like trying to block the judgment and be like, I'm going to stop judging myself, we say, “Oh, wow, I can maybe change my compulsive rumination with this different approach.”

    Priyanka: Yeah, I just loved, I literally imagined when you said the word ecosystem, I just imagined each of us have this ecosystem in our bodies. And rumination, or overthinking, or worrying, any behavior, I think all of these behaviors is just like, you know, not in its optimal habitat. It's like the rain forest creature sitting in the desert and maybe we should just take it back to the rain forest.

    Kristi: Yeah, and you wonder why it's focusing on trying to get water all the time. It’s like that's just, it wouldn't be focused on that in the jungle or the rain forest. But in this particular set of circumstances, well, it's just doing the best it can.

    Priyanka: Yeah, and it's like no wonder it's trying to get our attention. I also, if you really think about it, especially with something like rumination, I think what you said was so true. What I think about for myself and for my clients and for my audience, this idea that we ruminate or overthink or worry, it's because I deeply care about something. That’s all it is.

    I was just talking about this with my client this week. When we worry about our kids or really think about them a lot, it's because we care. That's really all it is. So that's like imagining rumination in its jungle rain forest habitat. We just love and care about them so much.

    And I can imagine how that behavior has just taken a little detour and now sitting in the desert thinking that if I just, and this is probably like the thought that drives the heaviness and the behavior of rumination is like, if I just figured out the perfect, best, most right  solution, then my thirst would get quenched, right, if we’re first sitting in the desert. Then I wouldn't feel this heaviness. If I just figured out the best thing for my kid, or the best thing for my weight loss, or the best thing for my patient at the hospital, then I don't have to feel this way.

    And it seems so productive to think I'm just looking for the absolute best, most perfect decision here. No wonder we keep doing it. It's just like trying to find the best, most perfect way. And what we're talking about is that's not how we get to feel better. That's not how we get to quench our thirst.

    Kristi: Yeah, exactly. And I think what you pointed out when you described like there's a part of you that cares deeply about your kid. And this part, to this part it makes sense to worry, to think, anticipate. And if we just try to shut the door on that, then we can basically block some of the beautiful qualities of that aspect of us. But if we can be like, “Okay, what if I were just to sort of speak with this part of me like I'm speaking to another person, and get to know why it thinks it's important to anticipate.”

    And like what you said, you already sort of parsed this out, but that part might say something like, “There must be a perfect way and it's my job to find it.” And if we were to hear that from that part of us and go, “Oh my gosh, wow, you've worked so hard, you're trying to find the perfect way, that sounds exhausting.” And then inquire like what that part is, you know, what else is it worried about? What else might it need us to know?

    And when we do that, then we peel back all the layers and find maybe a kernel of I just love my kid, I'll do anything for them. Okay, beautiful. But if there's another way to go about loving and preparing your kid in the best way possible, would you be interested? Amazing. How could we do this together that doesn't call on us to ruminate? And then you're collaborating and sort of partnering with your system, instead of being like, “What the hell is your problem for ruminating?”

    Priyanka: Right, or like, just figure this out already. Or like, let's put it on the, I mean, I'm a big calendar person. And I like the colored highlighters and schedules. I'm like, let's just put it on the calendar. Okay, we have one hour to make this decision. And it's like trying to force myself. And I think that that does work sometimes to give ourselves constrained amount of times to say I'm going to research for an hour, I'm going to make my best decision. It feels very different to do it like that.

    Rather than trying to physically, it's like imagine me like grabbing that little character in the desert like kicking and screaming trying to pull them to water. Instead of doing that, being like, “Okay, we're going to research for an hour, we're going to make a decision in the next hour. And then we're going to just love our decision.”

    Kristi: Yeah, so different than, I mean, what came to my mind picturing your little, you know, this poor rain forest creature that's in that desert, would be the difference between what you said and what we oftentimes do with ourselves with trying to make a change or to stop something would be to say, “Okay,” in contrast to what you said, “In one hour, you are going to make a decision, and you are going to hurry up about it. And you're going to come over here and you're going to do this now.”

    Sort of like scolding a kid from a place of frustration and irritation as opposed to, “Hey, I get this as hard. You've been in the desert for a long time, you're just doing your best. And also, let's make a decision. And let's see what happens and love it either way, knowing that we're going to figure it out and we're going to get back to the rain forest, okay? It's going to happen.” There's just such a different energy that we're approaching ourselves with when we do it from that space.

    Priyanka: Oh yeah. Yeah, there's two things that you said that I think are piquing my curiosity. One is, it is so fatiguing to stay in the worry and to stay in the overthinking, and the rumination, and the dwelling. Yet we have been thinking it's productive, but it's like no wonder, whenever I think, and this is something that has come up for so many of my clients, like they want to lose weight. But what they want more than the weight loss is to stop thinking about the weight loss.

    They want to just solve this problem once and for all because it is exhausting to keep ruminating about it, to not have this problem solved. And I think that I'm wondering sometimes if that can be for us, incentive enough that what we're talking about how coaching and partnering with those parts of us that we just haven't done, what if that could really solve this exhaustion problem? What do you think?

    Kristi: Yeah, I think sometimes it sounds like the word I've heard used before is being a merchant of hope. When you phrase it like that, and say, “Hey, what if we could have the experience of it being less exhaustive and yet we could get the same goals? How would that be?” And it's not forcing us to rush towards something better. But it's saying, “Hey, it's possible there's a different way to go about this.” And so I think sometimes that is just super soothing.

    And that right there can be the motivation of like, oh, you mean there's a different way that's not so exhausting? And I don't stay in indecision and don't say stuck, but I can still get what I'm really after? Like freedom from overthinking. Oh, okay, I'm up for that. What might that look like? And then I think once we open up that sort of sense of possibility, then we're tapping into just a totally different, you know, a different belief in our capacity for change.

    Priyanka: Yeah, like the little creature can get back to the rain forest. And imagine what our ecosystem would feel like in our bodies. And this is, I think, a lot of what I love to talk about with my audience, imagine what we could then accomplish. We want to go, listen, I want to get every gold star and A plus still. I love it. I love it, I don't ever want to stop because it's fun and I want to.

    And imagine how we might get to show up with our work, in our life, on the scale, with our kids, in our relationship, if all of those parts of us are in the ecosystems that they want to be in. If we felt like we weren't thriving in ourselves help maybe show up? A little bit more leveled up because we are not fighting with those parts of us anymore. Like how much more energy, time, and bandwidth would we have for all of these things that matter?

    Kristi: I just couldn't have said it better because then we're not upset with the creature that thrives in the humidity for how it’s functioning in the desert. And when we are open to that possibility, and that might be a hard sell for some of the listeners to think, okay, so you mean that's possible for me? I can appreciate that all of these aspects of me have value and have purpose, and I just need to figure out what they are and sort of get my habitat balanced?

    And again, I want to be very firm and say yes, it's 100% possible for all humans because it's sort of our natural state that I think we started out in. I think it's clear to say we were born with all sorts of valuable attributes. And some of them just with socialization, with our experience, with our family of origin, or with our job, they just morph into different, you know, the habitat changes around our system and it may be harder. And we may not have felt that possibility for a long time, but it really is accessible.

    Priyanka: And I think what's interesting, and this kind of speaks to the second point that you had made, was like let's just see, right? So you feel that hope, you feel that possibility kind of like resonating in your body. Like, okay, I can see how this might be possible for me. I want to just say it requires just trying and letting it be imperfect. And that is, I think, a hard sell for a lot of us who are so wanting the strategy, the step one, two, three, the perfect way. But I think even that is in itself the path forward. Allowing it to be imperfect is, to me I think that that's one of the hardest sells.

    Kristi: Yeah, it really is. And I think in that way, I think it's sometimes easier and safer to do like a retrospective analysis where you look back at things that you did do imperfectly and you on purpose try to find times where things weren't perfect but it did turn out okay. So then you don't have to go out and on purpose do something imperfect and then wait for the other shoe to fall. You can look back and be like, “Oh, well, that one time that I did this, it did turn out okay.”

    Or you can basically practice something really tiny and benign, like what if I took what Priyanka is saying seriously and I did something imperfectly, and knowing that even if it's imperfect, it's actually going to be fine. Everybody's going to be safe, nothing bad's going to happen, there's going to be no long lasting repercussions. But what would it be like? And then being open to trying that in tiny benign ways can sometimes give us the confidence to be like, “Okay, maybe it’s also elsewhere.”

    Priyanka: Yeah, and I want to just normalize that for any high-achieving working mom, any physician especially that's listening to this. Imperfection has not been rewarded in our line of work and in our trajectory. Like imperfection had ramifications with your patients and how they do. So I want to just remind everyone that's listening that there's a reason that we have not wanted or avoided imperfection, it's because it had some serious consequences, potentially.

    And also at the same time, we don't have to apply the paradigm of being the “perfect” doctor, or clinician, or high-achieving worker to how we treat ourselves and our personal journeys, and they can be totally separate at the same time.

    Kristi: Yes, absolutely. And I think it's so great that you brought that up because I can imagine somebody driving who is like, “Listen, if I hadn't performed at a certain level in that surgery, somebody might die. Harm could happen. And you're saying just to be kind of imperfect?” So we're not suggesting be cavalier and to be casual or to be sloppy. We're just thinking, basically, the possibility that when it comes to self-reflection and looking at habits, having such a stringent, rigid approach actually doesn't serve us.

    Priyanka: Yeah, it actually kind of speaks back to the idea of being judgmental versus apathy. It's kind of like a similar, you know, we're not saying that we're going to be flippant, we can care deeply.

    It's like with my rumination about my son, I can care deeply and love him and want the best for him and not be flippant about it. And at the same time, know that my best might be imperfect. The decisions that I make with him or the conversations that I have with him or the way that we make a decision might be imperfect. It's not flippant to allow for both of those things to be true. I think that that's kind of like the nugget that I'm taking away from what you're saying.

    Kristi: Yeah, and I think flippant is a perfect word to use for this context.

    Priyanka: Yeah. Kristi, I have just absolutely loved this conversation. And this is part two, guys, we had a whole other conversation over on Kristi’s podcast, Habits On Purpose, so you have to, have to, have to go check out her podcast.

    And, Kristi, how can people learn more about you, learn more about the work you do and start uncovering their habits with you?

    Kristi: Yeah, so despite the fact that I'm really good at over-complicating many things, or at least had that habit as a strong habit in my past life, I like to keep things with my business very simple. So everything is called habits on purpose. It's habitsonpurpose.com. I have a Facebook group called Habits On Purpose, my podcast is called Habits On Purpose. Any of those places, they can find me.

    Priyanka: I love it. Thank you so much for coming. We're going to probably have to have parts three, four, five at some point on our podcasts. But this was so fun, thank you so much.

    Kristi: Well, thank you so much. And I do want to just take a moment to say that I really do think that the way that you structure talking about these topics, really reveals to me the service and the value that you're giving to your clients and listeners. And so I want all of my listeners to follow you and listen and learn from you because I think just the way that you're thinking about things is just, it's just so useful.

    So it was really fun to be on here and I love that we get to do this again because I just know that will happen. And I had such a good time.

    Priyanka:  I love it. Thanks, Kristi.

    Guys, I have a brand new free masterclass coming your way. On Monday, November 14th at 12pm Eastern Time we're going to dive into the antidote to willpower and weight loss. Here's why you absolutely have to get yourself into this master class, most simply willpower just doesn't work for permanent change on the scale. You'll know that this is you if you've tried to force yourself to follow your plan or eat those perfect foods because you think it will help you lose weight.

    Sure, it works for a few days or a few weeks. But it just doesn't create permanent results. I see you and it is the reason that I have created this masterclass just for you. Because more unstoppable ninjas can free themselves from relying on willpower.

    I highly recommend that you come live, but if you cannot make it don't worry. When you're signed up you will absolutely get access to the replay. Head on over to theunstoppablemombrain.com/antidote to reserve your seat. That's theunstoppablemombrain.com/ A-N-T-I-D-O-T-E to reserve your spot and I will see you in your email inbox with all of the details.

    And also, pre-enrollment for the next intimate Unstoppable Group will be opening right after this masterclass. Spots are limited so make sure you have marked your calendars and get yourself ready. This is going to be your opportunity to do the work that we have been talking about here intellectually and implement it into your real life. I cannot wait to see you so soon. Bye.

    Thanks for listening to Weight Loss For Unstoppable Moms. It's been an honor spending this time with you and your brilliant brain. If you want more information or resources from the show, visit theunstoppablemombrain.com.

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