Do you find yourself EATING when you’re under STRESS? When overwhelming things happen in your life, do you want to grab the nearest bag of chips🍟 or cookies🍪 and munch away?
My friends, I deal with this, too!
In today’s episode of the Fitness Matters podcast I’m sharing an up-close and personal story of what *I* do when EMOTIONALLY-CHARGED EVENTS take place and I find myself making that unwelcome trek🥾 to my pantry.
Plus, I’m revealing the ONE THING we can all do to help prevent us from eating🧈 our feelings. (And because we need to practice this technique, I have an assignment for you that you absolutely won’t be expecting😛!)
Want to learn more? Tune in now – let’s GO!
(Don’t wanna listen? Download the transcript here)
Find this episode on YouTube (video below) or on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play.
Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/us0hLf5m0Vc
Join the 5-Day Mindset Masterclass here:
Ep. 032: How to CHANGE
Ep. 009: Facts vs. Opinions
The Self-Coaching Model by Brooke Castillo
Ep. 084: What is a THOUGHT?
Ep. 039: Feelings
Join the Get Your GOAL Coaching + Accountability Facebook group: https://pahlabfitness.com/get-your-goal/
Have friends who want help with STRESS EATING? Be sure to SHARE this podcast! 💛
Stress EATING (full transcript)
You’re listening to the Fitness Matters podcast with Pahla B. And this is Episode Number 87, “Stress Eating.”
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative), that’s right, we’re talking about it. This is happening. You guys, we are talking about stress eating this week. But first of all, let me introduce myself. Hi, I’m Pahla B. I’m your best middle-aged fitness friend, mindset mentor, life coach to the stars because you’re a star, right? Of course, you are. And that’s why I am your life coach. You guys, every single week, we talk about the fitness matters that matter to you. I happen to know that this one matters to you. Mostly because it matters to me, mostly because I hear about this kind of thing really frequently. And honestly, I deal with this kind of thing. Yes, I personally, fitness coach, mindset mentor, life coach to the stars – this is something that I personally deal with.
But before I even start talking about stress eating, you guys, a couple of pieces of business. Number one, thank you like always for reading and reviewing the podcast. You’re totally helping me find a bigger audience. I’m so excited about that. I totally appreciate your help in this matter. And I have something so exciting to talk to you guys about. Coming up in August, August 9th through the 13th – and pay no attention to the fact that Friday the 13th is the day that this is finishing – I am hostessing a mindset masterclass. I am super, super, super excited about this. It’s a way for you and I to dive deep into your mindset on any topic you want to. I mean, obviously, you know that I happen to mostly talk about fitness matters, but we can talk about any kind of matter. We are going to get up close and personal with your mindset with some daily journal prompts and some daily conversations about how we tackle our mindset.
So, if you want in on this mindset masterclass, there’s only one way in. You need to actually sign up. There will be a link in the show notes or the description, wherever you’re listening or watching or whatever. I’m also going to tell you verbally, it’s pahlabfitness.com/mindset. What you’ll do there is you’ll sign up, and from there, you will be receiving a confirmation email that says, “Yes, you’re in.” And then on Monday, August 9th, we will start with one week of daily emails diving deep into your mindset. And I am so excited. Also, hey, speaking of excitement, that’s actually where I’m going to start this conversation about stress eating because I know that lots of us and by lots of us, I mean, lots of you, honestly, because I have truly grown to the point where I don’t react. I was going to say that I don’t feel stress, but I totally feel stress.
I don’t react to stress the way that I used to. Habitually in my life for many, many, many years, something bad would happen and I would be upset and I would stress eat. But lately, what I’ve noticed is that when I’m feeling stressed, I can totally listen to it and hear it and understand where it’s coming from. I have done enough mindset work on stress that I actually, like I said, I was almost at the point where I was going to say, “I don’t really feel stressed anymore,” but let me tell you what happened today. Yes, today, literally, I actually had a whole other podcast topic that I was going to be recording today, and then this particular thing happened and I was like, “Hey, you know what I’m going to do with this? I’m going to record a podcast about it.”
I had something good happen to me today. I had something really good and exciting that I can’t even tell you about. And I apologize for this, but it was a huge career growth event that I will be able to tell you about in a little while. It’s something that I have known was in the pipeline, but it actually came to fruition today and I completely freaked out. It was such a huge step forward in my career. And I mean, just so you know, or maybe you don’t know. Hi, I’m Pahla B. I am a chronic under-earner. I am chronically the girl who thinks of myself as somebody who will never be successful, even though I’m incredibly successful in my field now. But for a long time, I wasn’t. For a long time, I had thoughts like I can’t do things. I can’t handle things. I’ll never be good at this. I’ll never get where I want to go. I’ll never make enough money. All kinds of thoughts.
And I’m finding that as my career is advancing, as I am becoming more successful, as I am reworking lots of those thoughts that I have, there are still some pretty major stumbling blocks. For example, today something fantastic happened and I went directly to the pantry and started eating. I was laughing at myself. I’m definitely laughing at myself now because I was just like, “I can’t believe this is happening,” as I was shoving food in my mouth. “This is so interesting,” as I was shoving food in my mouth. “I wonder what I’m thinking right now,” as I was shoving food in my mouth. And then I was like, “Okay, let’s actually sit down and figure out what happened here.”
And here’s what happened. And this is something that I have figured out as far as when something bad happens or when something stressful happens. So, I already understood the mechanics of what was going on, and I think that’s why I was able to laugh about it even in the moment and decide almost in the moment that this was totally going to be a really good podcast topic for you because I didn’t follow through on the stress eating with the whole cycle of shame, which I know that lots of us do. And that’s what I really want to talk to you about today. So, here’s the cycle of what happens. Number one, there’s an event, there’s a thing, there’s something that happens out in the world that we have thoughts about. We interpret things that happen. We make it mean things. The fact is, the things that happen out in the world – even getting a really big brand deal – are just things that happen in the world. They’re actually completely neutral.
And I know that in and of itself that might feel like a hard sell for you right now. But in order to understand the whole cycle, I’m going to ask that you just take a quick leap of faith on me with this one. Something happens and we probably have lots of thoughts about it. I mean, at the very least we have one. Most of us, me included, have dozens, possibly even hundreds of thoughts about that thing. And they come so quickly and most of them are so automatic that we don’t hear the thoughts. And sometimes, because it’s uncomfortable, we don’t even feel the feelings that those thoughts generate. And just really quickly, this is the part of the episode where I’m going to refer you to the podcast episode, How to Change (Ep. 032 How to Change https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/32-how-to-change/) because it really goes through this chain of events in great detail. There’s a circumstance or an event or a fact, and then there’s a thought that we have. The thought always creates a feeling. The feeling always drives our actions and then our actions get us results.
So I’m blowing through that really quickly. If you’d like a little bit more background on that, I totally, totally encourage you to go listen to How to Change and the corollary of that one, which will also be helpful, Facts versus Opinions (Ep. 009 Facts versus Opinions https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/9-facts-opinions/). But moving on with this right now, I’m going to assume that you have that foundational work. If you don’t, go listen, then come back. Here’s what happens. Something happens, we have a thought very quickly, probably an automatic one. It generates a feeling very quickly, probably an automatic one, and then what we tend to notice is our actions. Really specifically, what I noticed was walking towards the pantry and shoving food in my mouth. Pretty hard not to notice that, am I right?
This is what happens when we find ourselves eating. We find ourselves sitting in front of the TV, and everything that was in front of us is now in our stomach. We find ourselves in almost like a stupor. That’s why it can be so difficult to notice that there was a thought and feeling before the action because it goes on autopilot. For those of us who have spent our lives dealing with stress by not dealing with it, and rather by eating, we don’t even notice anymore that this is a whole chain of events. Rather than just a quick blink of an eye, something happens, then we’re eating. And here’s what I’m going to encourage you to notice. When you notice yourself eating, you might also notice yourself doing things like beating yourself up, talking bad to yourself about what you are doing or what you’ve just done, depending on when you notice the eating.
I noticed it while I was eating. Sometimes, I mean, back in the day, I didn’t notice it until afterwards. As soon as I was done eating, all of a sudden came that influx of shame and guilt and terribleness of, “I can’t believe I did that. That’s so awful. Why did I do that? I’m never going to lose this weight. I’m never going to feel good about myself. This is awful and wrong and bad.” And all of those things that we tell ourselves that have some kind of moral value attached to how much we eat. We also might ruminate on it for a while saying, “Oh, I just got to put this behind me. Oh, never mind, this happens. Tomorrow is another day.” But also, we’re still sitting in that feeling of, “I can’t believe I did this,” but we know we don’t want to really beat ourselves up so we’re trying to move on from it.
So, we’re telling ourselves some kind of platitudes about, “This is fine. It’s all good. I’m just going to pretend like it never happened. I’m just going to get back on the wagon” – those kinds of things. Most of our actions here in this chain of events (the event, or fact, the thought, the feeling, the action) are actually inactions. Oftentimes, when we are eating, what we are doing is actually avoiding really thinking about the thing that caused us stress or only thinking about it in a way that’s very cynical, that’s very negative, and reinforcing our feeling of stress. Oftentimes, we’ll pretend like nothing happened or try to shove away the feelings. We’re shoving them down by trying to eat over them. We don’t examine our thoughts or our feelings. There are inactions involved in this action line or this action part of the equation.
And then, as a result, we prove whatever it is that we thought in the first place. So, let me give you this really, really practical “this is what happened to me and this is how I walked through this” model. It’s called the Model, it’s from my mentor, Brooke Castillo. I wholeheartedly encourage you to go listen to what she has to say about using the Model for self-coaching, because this is where I get everything that I have, honestly. In fact, I’m certified as a life coach through the Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo. So, here’s what happened: something good happened to me. That was the fact. That was the neutral thing that I had thoughts and opinions about. The reason I know that it’s neutral and not a fact is because other people would have had other thoughts about that particular thing.
It’s just a thing that happened, but I personally had the thought, “Oh, my God, I can’t handle this.” I had lots of other thoughts too. I can share lots of them with you. “This is too big. This is too much. This is overwhelming. I can’t believe this is happening. I never thought this would happen to me. I never thought I could do this. I can’t do this.” Most of them come back around to the, “I can’t handle this.” My feeling, the word that I’m going to put on it is “overwhelmed.” I have to be honest, I’m not sure if that entirely describes how I felt because I was actually overwhelmed with joy or excitement or pride or success. They were all good things that I was feeling. And overwhelmed, to me, sounds negative, and that’s why I want to clarify what I was overwhelmed with.
I was overwhelmed with happiness, and that’s really funny. That’s why I really wanted to bring this up because I don’t think I’m the only one that this happens to. And I wanted to let you know, really specifically, that if you’re not familiar with happy thoughts, this could happen to you too. It might feel overwhelming or stressful to have so much happiness, to have something good, really, really good happen to you that you don’t know how to handle or that you are telling yourself – because it’s a thought – “I can’t handle this.” So, I felt overwhelmed with joy. And then my action, as we have already discussed, was eating. I beat myself up a little bit, but honestly, I didn’t a lot. There were some rumblings in there, and I was like, “No, this is just good for the podcast.”
“I don’t need to go there. I don’t need to walk down that road. I’m maintaining a perfectly lovely weight right now. This isn’t going to affect that at all. I don’t need to worry about that.” So, I could’ve been beating myself up in the past. Today, really specifically, I did not. But I did do a little bit of ruminating, and there was a little bit of that twisting and turning in my mind about why I couldn’t handle this, a little bit of judgment. Not really beating myself up, but a little bit of judgment of, “I thought you were better than this. What’s a life coach doing shoving food in her mouth? I can’t believe this is happening. And yet, it is.” That’s super interesting.
So, I was overanalyzing what I was doing while I was doing it. I was also trying really hard not to think about the event that had just happened because every time I thought about it, I felt that overwhelming feeling again. I was trying to shove that good feeling away. I definitely succeeded if I would have been beating myself up or judging myself more. I definitely would have been avoiding feeling good. Am I right? In years past, I absolutely would have done that thing where I tried to pretend like it didn’t happen, tried to avoid thinking about it, and avoided examining my thoughts or feelings. These are all really, really common parts of the cycle. For me personally today, I actually was able to interrupt this model right in the middle of the action line and think some different thoughts such as, “Hey, this would be a great podcast,” which gave me a whole different result.
But let me go ahead and finish following this through. From those actions where I was avoiding my feelings, avoiding my thoughts, avoiding anything that had anything to do with the event, the thought, and the feeling, what I created for myself – the result that I created – was literally a void. There was no resolution to it. What I created was proof in my own mind that I can’t handle it, because I didn’t. I didn’t handle, in the moment, my thoughts and feelings about this thing that happened. And I guarantee that had I not gone through this whole little process here of parsing it out and analyzing it and talking to you about it and journaling about it and really, really, truly seeing for myself what result I created for myself with my thought, my brain would absolutely glom onto this forever in the future.
It would prove to me, again and again (those were heavy air quotes, by the way), that I can’t handle things because look at what I did last time. “Remember last time when you got super excited and overwhelmed, and then you went straight to the pantry? Pahla, you can’t handle this.” Isn’t it interesting how our thoughts create our results? If I would’ve thought literally anything else, something like, “Oh, my gosh, this is awesome,” I mean, really simple. “This is awesome.” Do you know what that would have created for me? Awesomeness. But since I thought that I can’t handle this, I then drove feelings that drove actions, that created the result of me not handling it.
You guys, this is what happens every single time. Our thoughts create our results. I don’t know how I can continue to be amazed by this every time, but I’m continually amazed by it every single time I see it in action. Every single time, your thoughts create proof of what you are thinking. That is how powerful your brain is. So, I know you want to know what’s the solution here because you have already eaten the things, have already noticed that you have been eating, and you’re in that cycle of shame where it’s like, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I did that.” And then you want to create more comfort for yourself because you feel so lousy that you couldn’t handle things. We do. What do you do with this?
My friends, here’s what you do. Rather than telling yourself tomorrow is another day, rather than trying to shove it aside, rather than continuing to avoid what it is you are thinking and feeling and therefore creating a void as your result, I want you to sit down and recognize what you’re thinking. What are you thinking about what happened? And here’s what I’m going to tell you. Everything in your brain, when you think about whatever it is that happened, everything is a thought. Almost none of it is facts. This is where I’m going to refer you to another episode, (Ep. 084 What is a Thought? https://getyourgoal.com/podcasts/84-what-is-a-thought/),where we talked all about this. Every single thing you’re thinking is a thought. All of it, all of it. There are very few facts about what you are thinking, and you’re not actually thinking them. You’re not really thinking about the facts. You’re thinking, “My boss is a jerk. I have too much to do. I can’t get this done in the timeline.” You’re not thinking that there’s an assignment that’s due at 5:00 on Friday the 13th. Super fun. But that’s not what you’re thinking.
You know that it’s part of what happened in the world, but those aren’t the words going through your brain, and that’s what you need to notice. The thing that actually happened is simply a fact: there’s an assignment due at this time. Something, well, I’m going to continue calling it something good because it is something good, even though technically speaking, that’s not factual. I can’t share with you the facts just yet. I’ll make it clear later. Here’s the fact: a contract was signed. How about that? A contract was signed. “A contract was signed” didn’t make me go to the pantry. Everything I thought about signing the contract created feelings for me. So, your assignment is to notice that every single thing you are thinking is a thought. The best way to notice this – do you know what I’m going to tell you to do? Do you know? I think you do. I’m going to tell you to write it down.
Write it down or talk into your phone or talk into a microphone like I’m doing. I mean, trust me, this is journaling, my friends. This is absolutely helping me really solidify and really clarify what’s going on in my own brain when I talk to you about it. Some of us are far more verbal than written. Find what works for you and do your version of journaling about it. Get your thoughts out of you somehow, somewhere, someway. When you do that, notice the feelings that it is bringing up. My feeling, really specifically, felt like my skin could not contain me anymore. I literally felt like I was jumping out of my skin. I couldn’t get away from the feeling because it felt like it was so much of me that it was actually more than me, hence, overwhelmed. I had an overabundance of feeling.
The vibrations in my body were so strong and so much that I wanted to get away from them. It felt very jittery. It felt very light and fluttery, but not in a good way, like in an ominous way, in a scary way. It almost felt like fear in a lot of ways, which, I mean, there’s probably more to be explored with that because, of course, they’re very related. In fact, you guys, if you want to listen to another podcast episode, there’s an episode called Feelings (Ep. 039 Feelings https://pahlabfitness.com/feelings/), where I break it down that all of the feelings that we have are physical vibrations in our body that come from your adrenal glands. All of your feelings make your heart rate go a little faster. They make you a little bit sweaty. They make you breathe a little faster. They make you feel a little bit jumpy. They’re all very similar, they all have a similar route to them. This one felt like a lot to me.
I probably, in fact, even had some thoughts about how this feeling is too much. I wanted to get away from this feeling, and you can notice that as well. But follow the feeling, the main feeling that you have from most of your thoughts. You’ll come up with a genre. I mean, for me, it was overwhelmed, like I mentioned. You might label it as stressed, and there could be lots of different thoughts that can create stress for you. I’ll encourage you to parse them out one at a time. Once you get them all out, then you can look at each one individually and notice, “Okay, this particular sentence creates for me the feeling of whatever,” in your body.
As you get more into this and do more of it, you’ll notice that even though you thought you were stressed overall, like what I was just talking about, some of the thoughts that I was having were probably creating fear for me. “I won’t be able to hang onto this. I won’t be able to be this successful forever.” Lots of fear-based stuff, lots of scarcity thinking that created an overwhelming feeling for me. So, when you notice the feelings, my friends – here’s the part you’re going to love – I want you to feel them. You notice what I just did? Maybe you didn’t, and that’s why I’m going to point it out to you. I described my feeling to you. I told you what it felt like in my body, what sensations I was having, how I felt it in my heart rate, how I felt it in my skin, how I felt the fluttering sensation. That is how you feel your feelings.
When you notice that you are having a stress response – that you are creating a feeling of stress from your thoughts – notice it. And I mean that literally. Observe it. Ask yourself questions about it. Try to describe it to an imaginary listener, which is literally what I’m doing right now. You are just imaginary in my mind. I know you’re real to you, but right now, while I’m saying this, you’re just imaginary. I’m describing for you the sensations that I feel in my body. Do that and simply notice it. “Oh, my gosh, this is stress. I feel stress in my stomach. My stomach legitimately feels like it’s churning. It feels like it’s tying itself up in knots. It’s really heavy. In fact, it’s almost pulsing from the heaviness, and then it’s knotting itself up more. So, it’s expanding and contracting almost like my heartbeat, which by the way, I notice is a little bit faster than normal. And my throat’s a little bit dry, and my throat even feels a little bit constricted.”
When you notice the physical sensations in your body and you describe them either to yourself or to an actual person or to an imaginary person, that act right there will actually interrupt everything else that you were going to do. This is what you can do instead of going to the pantry, instead of sitting on the couch like a zombie, instead of suddenly waking up, basically, 30, 45 minutes later and being like, “Oh my gosh, what just happened here?” And then starting that cycle of shame of recriminations of telling yourself you’re a terrible person because you went to the pantry when you were feeling stressed and all of that nonsense that we do.
My friends, when you can feel your feelings, you won’t eat them. Now, having said that, I literally have already described to you for the last, however long it’s been, how I just ate my feelings today. It just happened to me today. I’m not making you promises that this will never happen again because now you have this tried and true, perfect thing that will always work for you. It is tried and true. It will always work for you at some point. This is going to take some practice, my friends. I’ve practiced it so much with my stress response and anger response and other negative feeling responses that honestly, honestly, I don’t even really notice that I feel stress anymore because I don’t have this kind of stress response. I notice that I’m feeling stress and then I’m like, “Oh, here’s the stress that I feel. Okay, let’s describe it. Let’s sit with it.”
What thoughts did I have? Oh, here’s the thought that’s creating this feeling of stress for me. I can go through this process like butter. I don’t know what that even means, but very easily like a knife through butter. I think that’s what that’s supposed to mean. Okay. Oh, my God, I just figured that out. Do you know that I have heard that expression so many times and I literally never knew what it meant? And I’m just now, 51 years old, figuring out why people say that. Okay, moving on. Here’s what I’m telling you, this process takes practice like everything, like every single thing we talk about. You’re going to get it intellectually right now. You’re going to be like, “Oh my gosh, this makes so much sense.”
And then when something happens that you feel stressed about, you’re going to find yourself eating and being like, “Oh, man. Pahla gave me this whole process and I didn’t even notice it until after I walked away from the pantry.” Here’s what I’m telling you: this process works. Especially afterwards. It’s completely okay to finish up with your stress eating and then be like, “Oh, hey. I think I should process this emotion. I think I should figure out what I’m thinking and feeling.” That’s completely okay. And in fact, that is the best way to do this because it’ll still be fresh in your mind. Walk through the process, even after, especially after you have eaten out of stress.
As you practice this, you will get better at feeling your feelings, thinking your thoughts, and noticing that this whole thing is going on that used to be completely unconscious. It will become conscious for you. After you’ve been doing this a while, you’ll notice it sooner and sooner and sooner in the process. And here’s my takeaway from this. I guess I need more good things to happen so I can practice this. You guys, what you’re actually looking for right now is more stress in your life so that you can practice this process and get better at it. That’s a really fun thought. I am going to intentionally look for more success in my life so that I can practice handling that overwhelming feeling that I have when something good happens to me so that I can notice the thoughts that I have, so that I can notice the fear that comes up, the overwhelm that comes up, the excitement that feels like too much that comes up, so that I can practice processing that jumping-out-of-my-skin feeling.
My friends, the more you practice anything, the better you will get at it. I really, really, really hope that this was helpful for you. I also hope, of course, that you’ll rate and review the podcast, that you’ll sign up for the mindset masterclass, and that you’ll share with me what thoughts and feelings you are going to be processing next time. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll talk to you again soon.
So, are you totally loving this mindset work and you really want to do it every day in order to get your goal? Then my friend, you need to join the Get Your Goal group. It is my personal and private, very interactive coaching and accountability group, where every day, we talk about your mindset and we get your goal. You can learn all about it at pahlabfitness.com/get-your-goal. I’ll see you in the goal group.