Why You're Not Losing Weight | Weight Loss for Unstoppable Moms with Dr. Priyanka Venugopal

Episode #11: Why You're Not Losing Weight

Jun 14, 2022

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Today’s episode is breaking down one of the fundamental reasons you aren’t already at your ideal weight. I’m shedding light on one of the root causes that drive patterns of overeating, overdrinking, and over-consuming. Just knowing this information is changing the game for so many ninja moms out there, and I can’t wait to share it with you too.

Do you know why you aren’t at your dream weight yet? It might seem like there are lots of reasons. But the truth is, there is one thing at play that causes us to overeat and stops us from reaching our delicious, ideal weight: our emotions. More specifically, how we rest and relax during stressful moments.

Tune in this week to discover where your emotional experience is stopping you from reaching your ideal weight. I’m sharing where this happened in my own life, and how more awareness of your stress and overwhelm allows you to create lightness on the scale, freeing yourself from relying on food to live your fullest life.


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What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why so many people aren’t eating in a way that is aligned with where they want their bodies to be.
  • 3 criteria that define overeating.
  • The power of getting curious about why you want what you want.
  • How stress and overwhelm play into our experience and desire around food.
  • Why so many of us are reliant on food, alcohol, and scrolling in order to feel a certain way.
  • My practical and easy-to-implement tips for creating pleasure, rest, and relaxation without turning to food, no matter how stressful life gets.


Listen to the Full Episode:



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Featured on the Show:


Full Episode Transcript:

Click here to download the full transcript


Priyanka: [00:00:00] Hey, I'm Dr. Priyanka Venugopal and you're listening to Weight Loss for Unstoppable Moms, Episode 11: Stress, Rest and Relax with Food.

Today's episode is going to break down one of the fundamental reasons you aren't already at your ideal weight. This is going to shed light on one of the root causes that drives patterns of overeating, over drinking and over consuming. Just knowing this information is going to be a game changer.

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.[00:01:00]

Hey, Hey, how are you?

Seriously, platitudes aside.... How are you feeling?

How are you doing?

There are so many, many, many things that have been happening in the world these past few weeks and really these past few years have felt especially trying.

But I am honored to get to meet here as a brief respite every single week and spend some time on you and your Unstoppable Brain.

I'm here to help you unleash those inner desires, so you, the ninja warrior mom, can start creating more delicious in- hand results.

Because seriously, I think I'll speak for all the moms when I say we're used to taking care of the kids, the partners, the families, the work, and the task list, all the planning first, and we forget, we are central and key piece of our own life.

You can have the most supportive hubby or kids that are already grown and you might love your [00:02:00] work, but unless you are caring for you unleashing your inner desires, it won't settle in deeply. Unleashing your inner desires to create in-hand results-- this is your work, for you and by you.

Let's get into today's topic: the real root cause of why you aren't already at your dream ideal weight.

In one word it's emotions.

Yes. It's because of how you feel or how you want to feel that you aren't at your ideal weight already. We are going to break this down in detail, and I'm going to share some tangible tips that you can walk away from just in this episode.

As I've defined before your ideal weight is simply your gravitational pull on this earth that feels dreamy and delightful for you and your body. It's unique to you not defined by anyone or anything outside of you.

This could be 5 pounds down or 50-- it's no different.[00:03:00]

Mastering understanding, recognizing and allowing emotions is going to be the game changer for you, because the only reason you aren't at that ideal weight is because you're eating in a way that doesn't align with the gravitational pull that you want to be at.

There's no judgment and no criticism here.

It's a simple and logical observation.

And if you aren't at that ideal weight, it's because you're eating in a way that isn't aligned with where you want your body to be .

Simply you're overeating.

What is overeating?

It's eating foods when you aren't hungry. It's eating more quantity of food than your body actually needs. And it's eating a quality or types of food that don't feel comfortable in your body. Let me just repeat those three criteria again, that define overeating. One is eating when you aren't hungry. Two is eating more food than your body actually needs. [00:04:00] And three eating types are qualities of food that don't feel good and comfortable in your body.

So why is it that we ever actually overeat?

We've touched on this in earlier episodes, but really in today's episode, we're getting to the root cause. The reason that we overeat ,eat when you aren't hungry, eat more food than your body needs or eat foods that don't feel good is to fulfill an emotional experience.

It's because we want to feel a certain way.

We want to create relaxation, pleasure, and connection.

We want to numb from stress, pressure and overwhelm.

We even want to just distract from simple boredom.

You're eating those nachos at night or your extra large popcorn and a glass of wine, because you want to feel a certain way.

Trust me, I'm deeply familiar with all of these patterns because this was me for decades. And still occasionally is. We have decades of this practice. It's literally programmed into you [00:05:00] like a computer program from the youngest age. It makes perfect sense that you become incredibly reliant on food, alcohol, and the scroll to feel a certain way.

If you look around at the movies, your friends, your family, your peers, it's highly acceptable to use food, to create an emotional experience.

You can see those movie actresses going through a breakup in a tub of ice cream.

You see that overwhelmed mom in every TV show, borrowing herself in a bottle of wine.

You can see scraped knees and kids' boo-boos and get them ice creams and lollipops.

There's a reason, the term "stress and emotional eating" was ever coined because it's so prevalent. We use food as a numbing and coping mechanism to distract from stress.

And this is normal because it works for a little bit, right?

Of course, we've turned this into a habit because your brain is so brilliant. And remember your brilliant brain only will ever create habits that served you at some point.

So we're not hating, judging or criticizing [00:06:00] emotional eating here. We aren't judging or criticizing yourself for using food to create an emotional experience. But we can just notice it's something we do and we're very practiced at it. And this episode is an invitation to do something different. Because listen, using food to create or avoid an emotional experience is keeping you stuck on the scale.

And worse than that, it's keeping you reliant on food to live your fullest life.

It's actually not living a full life at all, is it?

Being reliant on something to live your full life.

I say this because I hear this time and time again from so many working moms.

You want to reach your dream ideal weight, yes.

But what you really want is to feel calm and chatter free around food. You want to live your life, go on vacation, enjoy your weekend and get through your ninja workweek without the negotiating. Without the attachment of needing this with more [00:07:00] ease.

I'm telling you, this is worth working for. It's worth this work that we're doing together, because it's freeing you from this crutch. And if you want this freedom, this episode is for you.

Before we get further in this episode, I want to just start by saying, you can always keep it.

I want you to know that if you want to keep using food to create an emotional experience, keep it. Just know that you're choosing that, eyes wide open with love and awareness. You don't have to judge yourself or villainize the food for it.

You never ever, ever need to tell yourself "I want it, but I can't have it."

This thought the sentence in your mind." I want it, but I can't have it" is the rotten core of deprivation and restriction.

Tell yourself. "I want it and of course I can always have it", but this episode is exploring: "I want it, and I wonder why." It's this question, friends: "I want it, and I [00:08:00] wonder why" that we never really ask or truly answer because we've become so accustomed to it.

It just hums in the background of our lives, we don't even notice it anymore. So asking an answering this question is going to ask you to stretch your brain just a little bit.

Now, there are two simple reasons to answer this why.

The very first is because we want to create a flavor of relaxation, pleasure, or connection.

The second is we want to distract from stress, frustration, overwhelm, or even boredom.

Today's episode is focusing on the intertwined nature of stress and relaxation. We'll talk more about pleasure and connection in more detail in a future episode, but the same principles are going to apply. We are living in a hustle, busy life, moving from task to task, wanting to optimize everything, to save time and get more done. We're managing family, kids, the politics of your country, this pandemic. We're thinking about the present and the future, [00:09:00] not just for ourselves, but for our kids in our family.

And with this, when we're unconscious of our thinking, it's normal and common to slip into stress and overwhelm. And as we've talked about, we naturally want to infuse a respite and relaxation. I think this is such a common one, especially for hardworking moms, like you.

We're working hard. Of course we want relaxation, pleasure and connection.

It makes so much sense.

Part of the reason we cling to the food, alcohol and the scroll so tightly is because we haven't developed the skill of creating relaxation, pleasure and connection in its absence. Relaxation for most of us is a break from working. It's a pause from the hustle and the stress. And there are two factors that are working against you on the scale that we've talked about before.

First, your primitive brain is being driven by its desire for pleasure and it's avoidance of discomfort. And it will always, always offer you the fastest means of creating [00:10:00] that: food, alcohol and the scroll. And at a chemical level, stress is driving you to overeat because your body thinks you need to store resources.

So why do we cling specifically to overeating?

Because it's a chance to offer yourself something at the end of a hustley day, right?

You've been offering to everyone and everything else in your life. Let's really think about this. How many acts of service do you really do just for you?

Eating, sleeping, drinking, peeing, showering and bathing.

Those are the things that you do just for you. And if you're a working mom, I would be willing to bet that most of those things are interrupted.

The kids are watching you poop, you're having disjointed and random moments of rest and everything feels like it's in just a little bit of a rush. And most definitely none of it is being done with calm intentionality at all.

I remember when I was an intern as an OB GYN resident, we were hustling. We had to get [00:11:00] there early, before the senior residents to pre-round on the patients and to make matters for me more stressful, we were the least experienced.

We had a very long list of responsibilities, but we were the slowest at getting them. And we had a huge learning curve because there was an expectation for us to rise to the challenge. We had to learn quickly in service of our patients and for our own expertise as a new physicians.

I was in performance mode all day.

I wanted to impress my attendings, I wanted to be liked by the nurses and my peers.... And of course I wanted to do and learn. I needed to learn from books, but it also needed to learn from real life hands on application. I was on all day and our schedules day after day were long. And as we moved up the ranks, it led to longer shifts and even more responsibilities.

I thought intern year was challenging because I knew the least, I was the least experienced. Intern year, I still [00:12:00] remember asking whether I was allowed to order Tylenol for a patient.

But by my chief year, I had the experience and skills-- I could deliver a baby or do an emergency C-section if necessary. And I can do this with more skill than I could have the previous year.

But with every added year also led to added responsibilities: to teach junior residents and medical students. And so every year things changed. My skills grew, but so did my responsibilities. And my state of mind stayed at the same relatively constant.

The ask here was for me to work in a certain way:, to work certain hours to complete certain tasks, and to have certain mile markers met. And I was hustling to do all of it.

And everyone around me was hustling too, which normalized the whole entire experience. Now this episode, isn't about the state of medicine and physician burnout, though that will absolutely be an episode coming one day.

But I share this to paint a picture of a hardworking day, almost daily with [00:13:00] little real restorative rest. And add to that, I had my son in my final year of residency. And so I would hustle at work to come home to hustle as a mom.

I was pumping and breastfeeding and providing.

At work and at home, I want it to be the best at work, and then I'll come home and want to be the best for my new baby.

And I forgot about what was best for me and my body in between.

I share all this and I can still say I would never have ever chosen a different path. Becoming a board certified OB GYN was meant for me. Even through everything that I'm sharing with you.

I loved so much of it.

I loved taking care of women, I loved serving in this way. I loved the medicine and I loved the skills and knowledge I gained.

Me sharing the hustle and overworking isn't to take away from my incredible love of medicine and this field. And I think this has many of you. You love your work and your family, and you love so many elements about [00:14:00] it, but you're hustling.

This is what would happen. I get home and my husband, who's not a medical doctor by a long stretch, unless you count his extensive knowledge by watching medical TV shows would greet me. And I would have residual stress following me from the day. I wasn't conscious of my thoughts as much, because this was before coaching.

I was just in the hustle-- wanting to do better and be better, like everyone else.

I had spent the day holding my pee, eating quickly while standing between cases going to the OR, and this left me coming home thinking "I deserve a break already."

I was a little irritable and hungry, and I just wanted to plop down and relax.

For me this became dinner often take out in front of the TV with cheese, crackers and a glass or two of wine. And I would initially eat to satisfy the hunger, eating fast and ravenously because I ignored my body all day. But then I would keep going... nibbling and snacking even when hunger had left my body.

[00:15:00] Totally disconnected from the cues my body was giving me in real time.

Why did I do this? Why is it that any of us do this?

Because we use food to relax and it became a hard wired and patterned habit. And slowly, it just became norm. With this crept on the weight. And listen, this worked, I did relax for a few moments. Those 40 minutes of my favorite Netflix show were a glorious escape.

So I'm not knocking this completely, but to be honest, it just, wasn't a coping mechanism that really created anything near my dream result.

I wanted to really feel relaxed and I didn't know any other way to create it. 'cause this was before the era of coaching in my life. I just knew I wanted a fast way to feel good.

And traditionally for me, this came from doing well, getting the proverbial A, positive feedback from authority figures and definitely the cheese, crackers and glass of wine. So I'd feel relaxed for a [00:16:00] few moments in front of my Netflix, with my cheese crackers and wine. And this coping mechanism worked to do that for those few moments, but it inevitably led to weight gain.

Let me just take a brief pause here before I continue on to share. You can absolutely have cheese, crackers, and wine with Netflix and not overeat. You can enjoy food, alcohol and the scroll without creating heaviness in your body. And this is a practice, but to do this and to create this sustainably requires the work we're talking about in this episode first.

Because when you're relying on food to create an emotional experience or relaxation to relieve stress-- I promise you you're eating more than your body wants.

You're so attached to the food to create an emotional experience, you're not paying attention in real time to the signals your body is giving you.

You blow right past her comfortable satiety. You overeat and you overdrink all because you deserve the break and you want to [00:17:00] create an emotional experience.

I totally get it.

I shared my personal story of residency as a very vivid experience that I went through. And maybe it's more extreme as an example of how we can use food to create relaxation. But I think this is a common story for most working moms.

It worked a little bit, but with it came a heavy oucome.

And it deepened my reliance on food, alcohol and Netflix.

It created heaviness on the scale that crept up year after year, and honestly worse than all of that-- it created more frustration that I stayed stuck on the scale. So I had used food to create an emotional experience of relaxation, but let me tell you overall, it kept me feeling frustrated with myself and my body.

And I can say this now, the momentary distraction just wasn't worth the lasting heaviness and frustration that I felt. I can only say this now and know this deeply because I have tools to [00:18:00] create an emotional experience on purpose and with intention. I don't need to rely on food. And neither do you. How amazing is that, that this is possible for all of us?

Because let's be honest food and Netflix, isn't creating deep in your bones relaxation.

The fact that it's so temporary is a great clue.

So now we know that food is an easy out to create momentary, relaxation and distraction from the hustle of your day. But think about what this reliance is actually creating for you right now in real time. And for your future.

So why are we doing this again?

It's because we've never been taught how to feel emotions, those sensations and vibrations in your body, the ones that come and go.

We have a want and desire to feel good.

And we have a want and desire to avoid [00:19:00] feeling uncomfortable.

This is coming from long patterns and your primitive brain. So, what we've done is we've put up a fight with the uncomfortable side of our human experience. We avoid, distract, numb and circumvent with such vigor.

But it's this fight the resistance to allowing uncomfortable emotions, that are natural and normal, that really creates your suffering.

It's why one of the pillars of the Unstoppable Process centers on this, like I explained in episode six.

So today I'm sharing with you the solution: simply stop avoiding the uncomfortable emotions that are a part of all of our human experiences.

Put the battle weapons down and drop the resistance.

You don't need to rush to solve, fix distract or numb any more.

I promise you just dropping the resistance and the fight, you will feel so much better.

Try it. You can [00:20:00] always go back and pick up the battle of weapons if you want, but just for now, give it a try and see how you feel.

Do you know how much energy you expend on avoiding and distracting from uncomfortable emotions?

Trust me, it's a lot more than you even realize. We've made uncomfortable emotions, the villain of our story, because we've been taught to do so and we have decades of old patterning that reinforces us. So your brilliant brain has gotten to work. We over-drink, overeat, overthink and over scroll day after day, creating even more heaviness for our minds and our bodies.

Do you see how in an effort to avoid uncomfortable emotions, we actually perpetuate its cycle? And with this, we tightly hold onto the evening snacks and wine in front of the screen even more. It makes so much sense of you become reliant because we didn't have an awareness or skills to allow emotions.

So, how do you implement knowing this and create solutions around allowing emotions. [00:21:00]

First, just know now and forevermore that food doesn't solve emotions and it cannot create a lasting emotional experience.

Never, ever.

Sure, it might distract you for a little bit, but it can never solve anything.

Because emotions are coming from your thinking, your brilliant brain and your stories. And food is distracting you from actually solving this.

Do you want to be free of this?

It feels a little bit like I'm asking you a Matrix style question.

Do you want to pick the red pill or the blue pill?

Do you want to use food to forever distract you from your emotional experience?

Or are you done with that?

But in all seriousness, I understand the attachment because I was there. It feels a little bit like one of those safety wubby- nubbies. That safety blanket that we're used to having that reliably allowed us to feel comforted.

But ninja moms, I promise you, you are capable of comforting [00:22:00] yourself.

You're capable of releasing the slow grip and creating freedom.

Now you don't have to do more to learn this skill, so don't get overwhelmed.

It just starts with simple awareness and a practice of implementation with everything you're learning here.

Notice uncomfortable emotions and welcome them, like a friend knocking on your door.

I gave this analogy once in a Masterclass about a year ago on Urges, and I love this analogy so much that I'm going to share it here. The analogy was an uncomfortable emotion comes and knocks on your door. And we are just used to shutting our doors and closing our windows tight. So what does she do?

She bangs on the door louder and louder and louder breaking down the house.

This is what resisting, avoiding, and distracting from uncomfortable emotions do. Instead of doing any of that, we could simply open the front door and welcome her in like we [00:23:00] would any other emotion. Think of your group of friends right now, you might have some that you have more of a kinship with, or some people that you enjoy the company of more.

You might enjoy happy content, proud and satisfied more than you enjoy sadness, stress or frustration, but they're all a part of the mix of your life's experience. So what would it feel like for you to let them all in the door to make them all comfortable so that your house never had to break down?

Because both comfortable and uncomfortable emotions are a part of your human experience. It's how it is and how it always will be-- in fairly equal amounts. And it doesn't matter what stage of life you're in. However busy your calendar seems to look right now or however free you seem to be, you're going to have a mix of comfortable and uncomfortable emotions.

It really reminds me of my personal experience, being an intern, and then graduating residency. As an intern, I was convinced [00:24:00] that by the time I got to fourth year and started practicing as an attending things would feel so much better. But what was so interesting is with every passing year, I had more responsibility.

So being an intern or being a chief resident or being a practicing attending didn't change my experience of being human. In every stage of our life, from childhood, through our young adolescents, through our working life, whether you have a lot of responsibilities or none at all, you're going to experience both the comfortable and the uncomfortable.

We don't have to try to feel happy 100% of the time.

Imagine that we could accept that we would experience, both sides of our emotional experience. And if you stopped fighting and dropped resistance to uncomfortable emotions, 100% of the time you could experience calm always.

Can you imagine that?

Happy, sad, joy or stress in equal mix, [00:25:00] but being calm through it all.

This is how you feel better from the inside out.

Learning how to think on purpose with intention and allowing yourself to welcome uncomfortable emotions is how you purposefully guarantee success in any goal you ever have, especially weight loss.

So to recap, reaching your ideal weight permanently, and lastingly requires this one root cause to be addressed.

You don't need food to fulfill your emotional needs.

You don't need it to create an emotional experience or avoid an uncomfortable one. You are safe and okay to allow space for both pleasure and stress, joy, and frustration.

You can allow them all in what the battle weapons down and know that all emotions are normal and come and go.

It's always a choice to be with yourself in this human experience or to avoid it and distract from it. But really, if we're talking about [00:26:00] living a fully Unstoppable life, why would we ever want to avoid or distract from it?

So here are the tangible steps that you can start taking today to really start unpacking this for you and your life.

Remind yourself when you think of food, alcohol, the scroll:

"I wanted, and I can always have it. And I wonder why I do."

"What's the emotional experience I'm trying to create or avoid?"

Just these few principles are going to create a massive impact for you starting now.

Listen, these are the lessons I want to pass on to my own kids. That they're going to have a life full of joy because they get to go out and create it for themselves. And they're going to stumble and hustle at times while they're working hard, they might experience stress and frustration and none of it is a problem.

They never need to eat, drink, or numb their brains ever again.[00:27:00]

Friends, we get to go first and model this to them.

In the next few weeks, I will be doing a deeper exploration of how to feel emotions, especially uncomfortable ones, how to be friend them and to welcome them in.

But the principles in this episode highlight and address that emotions are the root cause of over eating. Just knowing this is going to be such a game changer.

I can't wait to see you next week.

If you want to take this work from your ears to real life application, The Unstoppable Group might be for you. This is my intimate six month coaching experience for ambitious working moms who want to reach their ideal weight simply and with more joy.

We're taking everything you're learning in this podcast and implementing it together in real life.

If this sounds like something you want, I would love to have you in the room.

You can learn more about the group at theunstoppablemombrain.com/group[00:28:00] . And also you can still grab the free replay of the Masterclass on my website: the three simple steps to unstoppable weight loss. I hope you have an amazing week, my Unstoppable friends. 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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