In this episode, I’m talking about everyone’s favorite subject: failure! So often I see people use failure in many different ways to prevent themselves from getting the results they want, and today I’m exploring how we can redefine failure so that it no longer prevents us from moving forward.

Listen in as I share how failure can completely shake your identity, what needs to happen to flip the way of thinking about failure to a way that serves you, and why experiencing failure does not negate future success (despite what we’ve all been led to believe). I also share how to redefine failure when it comes to weight loss so that you can skip the yo-yo dieting hamster wheel and achieve permanent and sustainable weight loss.


Listen To The Episode Here:

In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • The official definition of failure
  • How failure can be used as an excuse to go back to old habits
  • The most important thing to do when you face failure
  • How curiosity plays into success and failure
  • What it means to “fail forward”

Featured In This Episode

Get The Full Episode Transcript

Download the Transcript

Share The Love:

    • Help improve the show by leaving a Rating & Review in iTunes (Here’s How)
    • Join the discussion for this episode in the comments section below

Read the Transcript Below:

Katrina Ubell: You are listening to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 291.

Welcome to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast. I'm your host, master certified life and weight loss coach, Katrina Ubell, MD. This is the podcast where busy doctors like you come to learn how to lose weight for the last time by harnessing the power of your mind. If you're looking to overcome your stress-eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food, you're in the right place.

Hello there my friend, how are you today? What's kind of funny is this is actually the first time I'm hearing my voice today (let me explain). This is the first time I've spoken out loud today. And the reason why is because my husband took my two younger children up to his parents’ cabin in Canada.

It's actually a really, really beautiful, beautiful place. His grandfather built this cabin when his mother was 16. So, they've had this in their family for a long time. It is definitely rustic. There now is indoor plumbing, but for a long time, there wasn't and there still is the outhouse. It's a two-seater.

So, my husband spent a lot of time growing up his summers up there. It's not a winterized cabin, so we would never go up there in the wintertime. But I mean, it's just a really important part of the family interacting. It's just such a beautiful place.

So, anyway, he went up there. My oldest son is in Boston for the summer, and so I am home alone. I don't even have the dog because the dog went on vacation to Canada. I actually talked to my husband last night and he was like, “Okay, we have some news.” My daughter was learning how to water ski and they wanted to talk to me.

But he's like “First, I'm going to tell you about Augie's day, because I think he had the best day of his life.” That’s the dog. And so, he was telling me about how he got to run off leash in this one place, where they went swimming and had a picnic and stuff. And it's just, it's a really, really beautiful area. And I know they're having a great time. So, you might be wondering why am I not there?

Well, yesterday, I finished recording the audio book, which I think is why my voice sounds like a little bit husky now that I'm hearing it. It's a little Kathleen — is it Kathleen Taylor? Kathleen Turner, that's her name, Kathleen Turner, I think. It's just like a little husky. I am telling you like it's a lot of talking to read your book out loud.

So, glad I did it. Someone actually said that sounds exciting and depleting at the same time. And I'm like, yeah, I think that was probably the best description of it because you have got to be so focused and so on the whole time, every word that comes out of your mouth.

And it was a great experience too. The people who supported me in the sound studio and from the audiobook division, they were all great and totally helped me so much. And we got done early actually. It didn't take as much time as they had slotted for it.

So, I'm very excited for those of you who are audiobook people to be able to listen to it. I may not be totally done. I mean, in fact, I probably won't be. They start to edit it and then it's kind of like apparently with movies. Sometimes, they'll go and edit and be like, “Ooh, the sound wasn't good here, but we like the shot.”

So, then they'll bring the actors back into the studio to do like voiceover of themselves essentially, so they get good audio. So, obviously, that's not what I'm doing, but it's kind of a similar thing. Like if the majority of the chapter's great, but there's just this one line that they think I need to repeat or whatever, I'll just have to go in and do some of those repeats. I think they call them pickups.

So, I'll have to do that at some point in the next couple of weeks, but the main heavy lifting of the work is done. And so, that's super exciting. I'm really, really excited to even listen to it myself because sometimes, I do like to listen.

I will go months without listening to this podcast and then I'll listen, quality control. And I think I've mentioned this before on here, but like sometimes I'll listen, I'll be like, “Dang, that's good. Yeah, I needed to hear that today.” Like don't even remember having the idea or the inspiration because I'm just a human, just like the rest of you, just like you.

I sometimes need to hear something that sets me on that right track or reminds me of those things that are very, very helpful. I think sometimes it's easy for us to think like that person never struggles. Nope, that's not the case.

So, the big thing that I have coming up is actually in just like 35 minutes, I'm actually really nervous about it if I'm being totally honest. I feel like I have no one to talk to. There's like no one in my house so I'm just going to talk to you about it. I’m going to talk myself down by talking to you.

So, my publisher is having a big media lunch event where they've invited a ton of people from the media to come and listen to — I think there's going to be four of us; four of their authors who have books coming out in the fall to just answer some questions and talk about their book and what's in the book.

So, that sounds great, sounds super amazing. And I'm really, really nervous. And I think if I ask myself why am I nervous? It's just because I want to do a good job. I want to represent the book really well. I think that people really need to know about it. And so, I feel, I think I'm putting some pressure on myself that I need to sound amazing or super smart, or I don't even know what.

I just want to knock their socks off, not even sure what that would entail, but I just want to do a good job. So, anyway, of course I will do a good job, but I'm still nervous and that's okay. So, talk about this is like real time, how do you deal with something like this?

I just stay with myself in the feeling of it. I really do not really particularly care to feel nervous. It's not one of my favorite ones, and I will do it anyway, and I will stay with myself and just feel it. And then when it's done, I'll be happy.

Of course, of the four authors speaking, I'm the last one, never like that at all. I totally don't want to just be sitting there waiting, waiting, waiting. I want my turn to come and go and just be able to be done. But I mean, honestly, in a couple of hours, it will be complete and that will be that. And it'll be great.

So, one more thing I need to tell you. So, tomorrow, on August 10th, I have a big announcement that I want to share and I'm going to share it via a video that I'm going to send out to my email list. So, I want to make sure that you're on that email list.

Now, you might be listening to this after August 10th and I'll do my best to give you that information of what you should do next. But I've got a big announcement. It's two different things. It's actually some really fun, exciting things that I want to make sure that you know about. And so, the best way for you to find out is to make sure you're on my email list.

So, if you're not on there, then all you have to do is just opt in for one of my free resources. So, you haven't downloaded any or there's some that are missing, this would be a great opportunity for you to do that.

Now, you might want to try the new free tool that I just created and just released. It's called the Overeating First Aid Kit, and you are definitely going to want this. It's actually a private podcast with three different audios where I walk you through processing your urges to eat.

So, there's one for stress-eating, one for nighttime eating, and one for just wanting to eat. You just don't know why, you just have desire and you want to process that. So, I'm going to walk you through that process. It's actually really short and really, really effective. The best way to get that is just to go to, then you'll be on the email list and then you'll get that announcement.

So, if you already have the kit, but you're like, “What are the other free resources?” Just go to my website on the top right on the bar up there, there's free resources. You click on that and you can see all the things, all the lovely things I have for you there to get you going.

And then I want to make sure that you take the opportunity to pre-order my book, because I've got something very special in the works for everybody who does. It's one of the things I'm going to tell you about in the big announcement video.

So, if you are interested in pre-ordering, if you haven't yet, it really does help the book actually, when it comes out. I know some people have said like, “Should I pre-order, should I wait until it actually comes out in September?” And the best thing you can do is actually just pre-order it. So, you can purchase it at any place that sells books.

So, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, any independent book sellers — all of those places should be offering the pre-order. So, make sure you pre-order and then make sure you hang onto your receipt. I'll tell you why later, and I'll share with you something that's very exciting that I can't wait to offer everybody who pre-orders the book, something special to say thank you. So good, right?

Let's talk about failure, the best. Our favorite subject, right? I really want to talk about redefining it. I see this time and again, where people use failure in so many different ways to prevent themselves from getting the results that they want. They of course, don't realize they're doing it. It all seems to make sense to them in their heads because of the way that they're thinking when they're doing it.

But what really needs to happen is they just need to have sort of a jostling of that way of thinking. I think of sort of like jostling up the brain. Like we've got these like old sticky ways of thinking that aren't useful anymore. And we need to shake that up and realize, you know what, maybe that's not a great way of thinking. It doesn't give me the results that I want. Maybe there would be a different way of approaching this that would be more beneficial.

So, I was looking up just what is the actual definition of failure. In the Oxford dictionary, they have two definitions. The first is lack of success. The second definition of failure is the omission of expected or required action. So good, right? Lack of success or the omission of expected or required action.

Nowhere in there (please note) does it say “It will never be possible, you should stop trying. It will never be possible for someone like you. Like you should put on the brakes permanently.” It never says that. It just says a lack of success.

If you think about that lack of success, there's a thing you tried and you did not succeed. It doesn't have any judgment on what's possible for the future or what minor tweaks might be necessary to get it to succeed. It just is saying you tried to do something, you didn't succeed, and that's the definition of failure.

Yet, somehow, we have decided that failure is the absolute worst thing in the world. I think this largely stems from our educational process. I mean, for sure, I never identified as someone who would ever, ever fail a class or fail a test or fail an assignment, or anything like that. Somehow early on, failure was just … I just somehow decided in my head like that's not acceptable, I'm not someone who does that.

So, then, when we're trying something different, like trying to lose weight permanently and we don't always have success, we're like, “Eeew, gross. I am not someone who fails, this shakes up my identity. I obviously, I'm not capable of doing this so I'm just going to stop trying.” So, we look at failure as if it's like the stop sign.

It's like you need to stop, but not only is it the stop sign, it's the road closed sign. You need to stop and you need to turn around and OPS, there is no detour here. You just need to go back to where you started from. And that's basically what we do every time we yo-yo diet.

Every time we try to lose weight and we don't have success, then we are right back to gaining it back and possibly then some. A lot of people talk about that, like gain the way back, and then I gained even more back.

Having just read my book, there's many stories of different experiences that I've had in the book. And so, having just read it out loud, I was reminded of so many of these different things that I tried and how much more challenging and difficult and painful I made it mostly because I just didn't understand what I teach you here, and for sure, what I teach in my Weight Loss for Doctors Only Program. But I mean, I just didn't understand that one little trip-up, one little mistake didn't have to mean going right back to the beginning again.

Now, sometimes we use failure — if we're being really, really, truly honest with ourselves, sometimes we use failure as an excuse to go back to our old weight. We're kind of like thinking, “Well, we should lose weight because we should, because somebody said something, because we're doctors and we think that we should be a better example,” or maybe you're concerned that if you keep going on the path that you're on, that you're kind of setup for certain chronic medical problems that you don't want to deal with.

But your heart's not really in it. You’re not really committed. You kind of think you should be doing it, but you're not really wanting to be doing it. So, sometimes, we’ll have some sort of failure, some sort of lack of success, something will not go according to plan. We will eat not according to our plan. And then we're like, “Oh, then screw it. Then just forget it, F it all, I'm just going to go back.”

And a part of us is really kind of excited about that. We're kind of like really into the idea that we get to go back and overeat those old ways, and we kind of miss overeating sometimes. Sometimes, it's kind of in the moment kind of fun.

Now, over the years — gosh, when did I lose my weight? 2016? Yeah, it's been a while. I have to think about that. It's been a while. Back when I lost that, I have had moments over the years where I've been like, “Oh yeah, I'm going to go back and try this thing that I used to do.”

It never, ever, ever, ever, ever has felt as good as my brain has thought it would. Like this is your chance to have whatever thing if I haven't done the work to reduce over desire on that thing, or maybe the over desire caught me off guard, and I need to do a little work on that.

I mean, pretty much I'm thinking 100% of the time, I go back to those overeating ways when I've done that and it's such a disappointment. It's not nearly as good as I thought it would be. Like for sure, having peace and freedom around food feels the best. Like I can say that so confidently.

And having worked with many clients now over the years – of course, we have our Weight Loss for Doctors Only Program. And then we have a continuation program as well. So, we have plenty of people who love to stay in our community and love the support that we offer, and are continuing to work on themselves and constantly working through the little things that come up in life, and sometimes those are food-related, and it's a similar thing.

Where once they've experienced what it's like to truly have peace and freedom around food, anytime there's that kind of setback, and they go back to like, “Ah kind of like party, let's go back to doing the thing we used to do,” they really regret it. Not because they're beating themselves up, but because they don't feel good, it does not feel as good as we think it's going to be.

So, we're kind of like romanticizing the idea of overeating or romanticizing the pleasure that we think we're going to get from certain foods or eating or drinking in certain situations. And then we're going, “Oh shoot, it's not as good as we thought it was going to be.”

So, then we're kind of in this in between where it's like, well, I mean, I could go back to the old way, but all signs point to the fact that this is not as good as my brain wants me to believe it is. And what that means is I know that the way to really support myself when I really truly do the work that supports me, I really get to feel the way I want to feel, then I got to put in the work.

Which means not just ignoring the fact that you have over desire for a certain food, but actually working through it. And I don't want to make it sound like this is something that's always super challenging.

I mean, sometimes, there's a decent amount of work that needs to be done, really exploring the thoughts that we have about certain foods or eating in certain situations so that we can change the way we think and believe about those things.

But then there's other times when we really find that we look at what we're thinking about that food, realize, “Oh, that's the thought that's creating the over desire.” Decide not to think that anymore, because it really truly can be as easy as that.

And then poof, like the food just is not of any concern or excitement anymore. It's just really not anything that we have to focus on anymore or have to work on anymore. It really can be so easy.

So, really, what it comes down to, is anytime you stumble, anytime you decide that you've failed, you've had some sort of lack of success, there has been some omission of the expected or required action – you thought, “Okay, I'm going to do these things,” then you didn't do them. Or you thought you wouldn't do these things, and then you did do them, they weren't the things that support you; what's the most important here is to be honest with yourself about what's going on and to not judge yourself.

There is no room here for you beating yourself up, being disappointed in yourself, thinking that if you kind of crack the whip or really have that inner dialogue that's very harsh or mean, or like the stern teacher, that that's somehow going to help. It's not going to help.

We can't judge ourselves, but we do need to be curious. I think often we think, well, if I'm not judging myself, then I'll just be super permissive and I'll just think that, “Well, whatever, it doesn't matter, you can do whatever you want and that's not how I want to live.” And that is a very all or nothing way of thinking about it because there are totally other ways to approach this.

When you're not judging, it doesn't mean that you're not holding yourself accountable. That doesn't mean that you're not going, “Hmm, okay, well, that's not how I want to show up, and I really want to do better, and I really want to figure this out.” The way to do that is to learn more about myself and understand myself better.

The best way to understand myself better is to become curious and to not shut yourself down from yourself, to not just distract yourself with something else, but to actually look at that; “What was going on for me? Why am I struggling here?” And being genuinely curious. And when you have the thought of like, “I don't know” come up, then be curious about that.

Okay, I see that's not easily or readily available, but let's just stay with it for a little bit longer. What might it be? Let's just brainstorm some ideas. What could it possibly be? Let's just get curious about what the struggle is here.

It's not a stop sign, it's not a turnaround and go back to where you started from. It's an opportunity for you to pause and understand yourself better. The better you understand yourself, the better you will be able to support yourself the next time a situation like this comes around.

You have to signal to yourself that you are on the same side as yourself. You're on the same team. You really want what's best for you. When you come at yourself from that mean, punishing, harsh language, from that inner dialogue, you’re not feeling like you're on the same team. You feel like you're in trouble.

You feel like somebody else is punishing you, disappointed in you, that separates you from yourself. It creates a division between the part of you that took that action and the part of you that really is that authentic you, that wants what's best for you.

Then you want to ask yourself once you've had that moment of curiosity, understood it better; ask yourself, “How do I want to move myself forward? What are going to be my next steps?” I often talk about failing-forward. I talk about this in the book as well.

Failing-forward means learning from the mistake, learning from the lack of success, learning from the omission of expected or required action, and then moving forward; “What are going to be going to be the next steps moving forward? What do I need to do to keep myself moving forward? What do I need to do to keep that bigger and better future in mind?”

Just last episode, episode 290 was all about your bigger and better future. If you haven't listened to that one, make sure you listen to it as well. When you have this vision of a bigger and better future for yourself, you know where you're moving toward, you know what you're trying to create for yourself. You know what expectation you have for yourself in the future. And you can integrate what happened now with this failure or lack of success so that you can get back on your path toward whatever that future is for yourself.

Now, if you're listening to this, going, “This sounds really challenging” or “How do you do this by yourself?” I want to offer to you that yeah, often it actually is a lot more challenging to do it by yourself which is why I have a coaching program called Weight Loss for Doctors Only. This is exactly what I and my team help you with.

So, you have that failure, you have that lack of success, and there are multiple ways for you to get coaching help in the program. And you just show up to one of those ways so you can get that help that you need. There is unlimited personalized help in the program. We will help you to figure things out so much more quickly and easily than when you're doing it on your own.

So, sometimes people are like, “Well, I mean, if it's just weight loss, like I can just do that on my own,” but time and again, I hear from people going, “Yeah, I mean, I could do the things, like I could still take those actions and get those results that I wanted, but I still didn't actually do the work that I needed to do on my brain, on my mind.”

And then they come into the program and that's what we work on, which is totally fine. That's a completely okay timeline. I just don't know why we wouldn't want to just do it all at the same time. Like why not just be efficient when we can be. Let's just do it at once. And it's like putting you on a high-speed escalator. You know what I mean? Just like the moving walkway. Let's just go. You don't have to climb the stairs yourself.

Alright. Well, I will be telling you more about your next opportunity to enroll in the Weight Loss for Doctors Only Program very, very soon. Can't wait to share with you all the amazing things that we have planned for this September group that is about to start here very shortly. And I'm hoping that you'll be a part of it because it's life-changing. I mean, I can't even tell you, oh my gosh.

Sometimes I think about it and I'm like, “Ah, what I would've given to have a program like this back when I was struggling with my weight.” Like it's just so awesome to have created that thing that I would've just given anything for. So, happy for you that it's available. And I can't wait to tell you more about it.

So, the next time you think that you've failed, next time you look at something and realize, “Ooh, there's a lack of success here and I'm not happy about it,” come back and listen to this episode. Make sure you're being honest with yourself and curious, but don't judge yourself harshly or in a mean way, and then ask, “How do I want to move myself forward? What are the next steps that I could take that could move me in the right direction?”

Alright, my friend, wish me luck. I have to get on in about 15 minutes. Actually, this has super helped me a lot. So, thank you for listening. And I feel like just literally just talking out loud has kind of helped me to center and ground myself and I feel so much more ready to share about this amazing work that I offer and what's in the book as well.

So, I actually realized that I told you about pre-ordering the book, but I don't think I told you the title of it. It’s called How to Lose Weight for the Last Time: Brain-Based Solutions for Permanent Weight Loss. So, can't wait for you to check that out.

Like I said, I just read the whole thing out loud, it's a good book. Even the person from the audio book division, she was telling me she's like, “So, I've already started applying some of the things that you've been talking about. This is really good stuff. Wow, I have not heard anybody else talk about it like this before.” I'm like, “Thank you. Yes, I agree. It's great.”

Alright, my friend, have a great rest of your week. Thank you so much for listening. I'll talk to you next time.

Ready to start making progress on your weight loss goals? For lots of free help, go to and click on free resources.