Ep #14: Battling Busyness and Bad Eating Habits

Would you believe that when I take vacations, I try to LOSE weight? It’s true. It is so easy to go overboard when we’re traveling, so we have to double down on establishing the right mindset. The key to sticking to our goals and feeling good about what we’ve eaten is going into the trip with a plan.

Whether we’re on a vacation or it’s a regular work day, we’re always busy. Doctors invest so much energy into delivering quality care to patients that it can be hard to care for ourselves. Instead of being a martyr, wallowing in dread and self-pity, you need to check in with your attitude and change the energy you bring to your day.

It’s hard work to rewire your brain and teach yourself a new attitude. Old habits die hard and diligence is the only effective recipe. In this episode, I’ll teach you how I’ve gone about reframing busyness and how to build a mindset for accomplishment.
At the end of the day, feeling busy is an indulgent emotion. Stop using “busy” as a badge of honor and reassess.

Listen To The Episode Here:

In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • How to maintain good eating habits while traveling.
  • Ways to manage your sanity while staying busy.
  • Tips for managing stress day-to-day.
  • How to practice proper self-talk and embrace challenges.
  • A step-by-step process for reframing busyness.
  • A new definition for busyness that will support your life and goals.

Featured In This Episode:


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Showing 20 comments
  • Roxanne

    I wanted to thank you for your most recent episode #14. I am a fairly new graduated nurse and struggle greatly learning and adapting to my new career (The honeymoon phase is definitely over with). I work in a rural hospital on the med/surg floor. I have felt that no one understands what I go through at my work until I listened to this podcast. I totally related to what you call the “Sunday Scaries”. The night before the first day of work is always the night with the least amount of sleep and worry. At work among all the nurses we compare who has the most involved patients and try to “one up” each other and end up feeling sorry for ourselves. I plan on implementing models and working through them and choosing not to let “busyness” overwhelm me or my day. I want to be the best nurse I can for my patients that are truly having a way more terrible day than I am.
    Thank you again for your podcast.

    • Katrina

      I love this Roxanne! The great news is that you’re still fresh so you don’t have decades of unhelpful thinking to undo. You get the opportunity to “do it right the first time.” What a gift to give yourself. I’m so proud of you!

  • Fosiya

    Hi Katrina,

    I don’t know where to begin but thank you – you came into my life as an answered prayer. I have always been overweight and have yo-yo dieted since I was 11. I needed a change and your strategy deals with the core issue and not the symptoms. Being overweight is a symptom of a greater problem that includes low self-esteem and low trust due to broken promises with myself.
    While I am not a physician, I am a health care administrator, RN, mother of 2 and wife, so I totally relate to the lack of energy and crashing after putting the kids to bed. I don’t feel like a present mother or wife.
    Your message resonates with me so I’ve scheduled a 1:1 with you for sometime in July (!) and I am looking forward to it.
    As an introvert, it is hard for me to make female friends so it’s comforting to hear your voice encouraging me to go on.

    Thank you again and I am so excited to hear more from you.

    • Katrina

      I’m so glad you found me Fosiya!! I’m an introvert too – I totally get it. I’m glad I can be your cheerleader, even if it’s just through your earbuds. 😀

  • Shanan

    Hi Katrina! I am a busy OB-Gyn and mother to three boys, ages 3, 6, and 8. I have recently read the obesity code and just discovered your podcast. I am only part of the way through it, but so many things have resonated with me: “no one understands how hard my life is” reward eating and using food (and on-line shopping) for a quick dopamine surge–guilty!! These ideas seem so simple and straight forward when you lay it out there, yet it was a total aha moment for me. Thank you for this amazing work! I look forward to becoming a physically and mentally healthier person.


    • Katrina

      Thanks for your message Shanan! I’m so glad the podcast is helping you!!

  • Y

    As a fellow busy physician mom I wanted to thank you for your podcasts. They have been so helpful in changing my mindset as I think abut food and weight loss. I was moved to tears by your episode in sharing about April and wanted to thank you for your openness. I particularly wanted to thank you for this week’s episode as it came at a perfect time! I’m at a medical conference in dallas and I have planned out my meals. I’ve picked one night to have a dessert, one night to have a nice drink, and I’ve vowed to workout each day, even picking a unique Dallas exercise studio to try out. It helps me feel in control of this time away and that I’m not just overindulging because I’m not at home on my routine. Thanks for making this feel manageable!

    • Katrina

      Fantastic! Great work! So proud of you!!

  • Tracy

    I listened to this podcast, and it resonated so much with me. It’s like you put a name to something I already knew. I am a pediatric cardiologist in a pediatric residency program. Do you know how you actually learn a lot by teaching? I feel like I am constantly learning as I watch my residents reflect the lessons I teach them- both consciously and subconsciously. About 4 years ago, I noticed how cynical my trainees seemed whenever we were evaluating a 2-7 year old murmur patient. But, that wasn’t them… it was my attitude reflected in their behavior, and I KNEW that. So I started playing a game where I would challenge them at the beginning of the rotation to come up with a differential for a murmur in an asymptomatic 2-17 year old that had never been heard before and was actually pathologic. That changed everything- we started looking forward to finding bicuspid aortic valves. I would joke that “hopefully” this kiddo has HCM. Telling this to non-medical people, it seems very dark, but, no. I enjoy my job- what I do- when I see pathology. This one little game started to morph into the rest of my practice. Slowly I saw the trepidation residents had approaching me with chest pain or syncope referrals, so I explored my own behavior. I hated these referrals. So I broke it down, and started taking baby steps to find the joy in those referrals. I actually did the monkey bars before I knew that was what I was doing. And I did it- I changed my attitude. Recently on a Facebook group for pedi mommies, someone posted asking for advice how they can not dread some of the consults they were receiving. Some of the primary care docs kind of slammed her for implying their consults were weak, but I knew where she was coming from, so I responded and told her just briefly that there is a way not to dread patients. She PM’d me, and turns out she’s a pediatric cardiologist dreading chest pain and syncope. I took her through my story- my process, and, now, listening to this podcast, I realize that I just changed my thoughts. This feels so tangible to me right now, and generalizable. Thank you, and I really hope you keep doing this, and I selfishly hope your availability for mini sessions opens up again soon.

    • Katrina

      OMG Tracy, I love this!! I saw that facebook post too and I’m SO glad you connected with that fellow doc. You are amazing and I love how you’ve not only transformed your experience of your job but your students’ experiences of their rotation with you!! And I’ll keep working on those mini sessions, haha! 😀

  • Rachel

    Hi Katrina,
    I love your podcasts. I listen to them during my ~30min commute and they have changed my life! Your message in this one about how we get to define busy and what it means to us really resonated with me. I work full time, have 3 kids (7,5,1) and my husband is 5mo into a year long deployment so I have definitely have “overwhelm attacks” from time to time. These past two weeks have been especially intense because I had already picked up some extra calls to help out a sick colleague and now flu B epidemic is going thru our dept so we are super short staffed. Your insight in this week’s podcast definitely helped me navigate some intense days (nothing like starting a day in radiology 1 attending down and then our busiest scanner literally breaking during the first scan!).
    I’m at a healthy weight but was eating constantly and when I wasn’t eating I was thinking about food. It was making my job (pedi anesthesia) so much harder bc I was always worrying about whether I would get hungry/dizzy/lightheaded and when/what I would eat. Now I eat max 3x/day and even have started some intermittent fasting. I feel so much better physically and genuinely feel like my attitude towards food has totally changed. It’s like a burden has been lifted. This evening I even built a “edible car” with my son for a kindergarten project out of rice crispy treats, mini donuts, frosting, and candy and DIDN’T EAT ANYTHING because I was done eating for the day!!!!
    I’m an avid runner (currently training to try for a sub-1:40 half marathon and sub-45min 10K in May) and love exercise in general. Could you do a podcast about exercising and eating, especially timing? I read the Obesity Code at your recommendation and it recommended working out on an empty stomach, which I can do most of the time except for my 90″ Saturday morning runs when I eat a honey stinger waffle before and a gel during because otherwise I just don’t feel good and can’t run as fast. My major question is about eating after working out. The trainers at Orange Theory (I love OTF!) always say eat within an hour. Is that a hard and fast rule or is it better to go longer for the purpose of spacing out eating and keeping insulin levels low?
    Thanks again for all your insight! I look forward to your podcasts every week and tell everyone I know they need to listen too!

    • Katrina

      Hi Rachel!

      Thanks for your message. I’m so glad the busyness podcast helped you!

      It sounds like you’ve made amazing strides with your eating. So proud of you.

      Great idea to do a podcast about exercise! To answer your question though, my recommendations differ based on what the individual’s goal are. You don’t need to lose weight and are a pretty high level athlete. What I want to offer you is the idea of working toward being a “fat adapted” athlete. There are people who run entire marathons only drinking water and feel great – no bonk! I highly recommend this book to learn more about doing that. But ultimately, you don’t need to eat after exercising, even heavily. And you don’t need to carb-load or refuel with a gel during a long run, once you’ve helped your body to be come accustomed to this. Let me know if you try this and what you think! And keep up the amazing work!!!

  • Swarupa

    I am extremely thankful to Dr.Ubell for her podcasts. I learned life changing lessons that i can apply to many aspects of my life and also help my patients better.

    I myself suffer from no weight issues and for the most part i eat 3 meals/day and rarely any snacks and i had no idea that it was helping me to maintain my weight. I do have a small inner me as you described always keeps me on track, if i am going out of my way.(that i thought bit insane but now i feel better about that “mini perfect me”)

    I started listening to your podcast to understand and help my patients but i had no idea i am going to learn life time lessons.You Absolutely changed my life for better as i can apply the knowledge that i gained to better my life and to continue to become a better person and a compassionate doctor.

    You are a wonderful person and your voice is so soothing that i heard each podcast over and over again Every time I catch something new that i missed.
    Swarupa E

    • Katrina

      Thanks for the feedback Swarupa! I’m so glad the podcast is helping!

  • Tina

    This one particularly resonated with me. I’m an OB-GYN and mom to 2 boys, ages 9 and 11. I always say “busy” when asked how my day was. I found myself shaking my head with the descriptions of the martyr attitude we tend to have when describing our work and the training that drills that attitude into us.
    Funny thing is, since starting to listen to your podcasts I find myself actively trying to be more positive and reframe how I think about my daily challenges at work. And that was before I listened to this one!
    Thanks so much for these!

    • Katrina

      Excellent Tina! That’s awesome! 😀

  • Lisa M Niebergall

    I loved this episode especially! (All have been excellent) But this one really resonated with me. A year or so ago I was able to re-frame my feelings about weekend busyness by realizing I was lucky to have so many activities for healthy fun kids, that parties and dinner invitations means we have friends, etc. Weekends were so much more enjoyable for me then. However, work was still always “busy”. This helped me to look forward and attack the days instead of sit back and complain.

  • PDP

    What kind of travel scale do you use? Is it the one from NewlineNY? Or is there another one you’ve found?

    • Katrina

      Yes, Newline NY! 🙂

  • Stephanie

    I loved the comment that busyness can be re-framed to think “I helped a lot of people today.” Hopefully by changing my own attitude about my work I can enjoy my job more, help those around me enjoy it more, and come home feeling more fulfilled and not bringing home the stress of a hectitc day.
    One thing that I disagreed with though is the premise that busyness *must* be a negative thing. That seems like more of a thought rather than a circumstance. There are some people who thrive on a busy day, or wouldn’t say that being busy is bad. For example, maybe a small business owner who has a busy day would say that is great because they made a bunch of money!
    That being said, I do agree that most of us use the word busy as a default, in a negative sense, and as a badge of honor. I am a resident and mom of a toddler but listening to your podcasts has helped me re-prioritize my time, fit in exercising (even if only 10 minutes long while the toddler dismantles the bookshelf), and avoid the candy drawer. THANK YOU!

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