Ep #173: What You CAN Control

Have you been feeling like your world has been turned upside-down? Or like you’re completely out of control and not sure how to turn it around? We’re nearing two months into the pandemic, and while some of us may be finally hitting our stride with the new work and life circumstance, many of us are feeling like we have lost agency over ourselves and our lives.

Though we may feel like we have less control right now, the truth is that we have the same amount of control that we’ve always had. Listen in as I share how we delude ourselves into thinking we’re in control, the three things that we actually have control of (hint: your children are not one of them!), and why we have such an amazing opportunity before us to grow and become better versions of ourselves.

Listen To The Episode Here:

In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • How to change the way you think and feel.
  • Why we like to think that we’re always in control.
  • How to live in emotional adulthood.
  • The only things you can control.
  • How to take your power back.

Featured In This Episode


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Read the Transcript Below:

Katrina Ubell:      You are listening to the Weight Loss for Busy Physicians podcast with Katrina Ubell, MD, episode number 173.

Welcome to Weight Loss for Busy Physicians, the podcast where busy doctors like you get the practical solutions and support you need to permanently lose the weight so you can feel better and have the life you want. If you’re looking to overcome your stress eating and exhaustion and move into freedom around food, you’re in the right place.

Well hey there, my friend. Welcome back to the podcast. How are you today? You’re back. I’m so glad you’re here. If you’re new also welcome, welcome, welcome.

It is a little after 6:00 AM here. As I’ve done in previous podcasts as well, I have just had to get up early to get this one done. I’m telling you, it’s a challenge to work with children at home. And you know what really challenges me, what the actual challenge is, is my brain and my ability to organize myself. You may have found the same thing because you know what I want to do is stay up late and watch Ozark with my husband, which by the way, I’m not usually into the kind of intense drama shows, but wow, we got sucked into that one. We just finished season two, there’s a whole nother season three. I told Matt I think we might need to wait or I need to wait to watch that because I need to get to bed earlier and get up earlier so I can get some things done that I need to do when the kids are not around.

The other day I was trying to record some videos and it was finally a nice sunny day and so there was good sun coming in and I was like, “Okay, I’ve got good light. I’ve got all this stuff I need to do. I’m going to bang these out. I’m going to get them done.” And I’m telling you, it was just one thing after the next. I was having sound issues and the different microphones I was using were not really working very well and I was like, “I had not planned time in for this. I want to get going.” And then of course I explained to the kids, especially my six year old what I was going to be doing, why they needed to be quiet, how they could support me in being quiet, being really, really clear. And then I’m recording and they’re totally screaming outside, playing outside my window and coming in and out of the house.

I was just like, “You know what? This is what we got today.” B minus work, right? This is what I’ve taught you guys. And so those videos went out that way. I mean it wasn’t such bad audio you couldn’t hear me. You could hear me. It just was a little crackly and I did order a new microphone. And it just took a little time to come as things are right now. But anyway, right? So it’s one of those things that we have to do. We have to just make the time for ourselves, find the solution rather than sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves or just thinking that this is such a horrible time and it’s so hard and when are the kids going back to school? Because guess what? Our kids are not going back to school as I know that’s the same for so many of you.

So I’m looking at this like a circumstance, right? It’s a neutral fact. They are home. Okay, now what? What am I going to do? How am I going to respond? And I’m going to get into a little bit more of that coming up here very soon as we’re going to be talking about on this podcast, but before we get going on that, I want to let you know about some free help that you can get from me, especially if you’re newer here to this podcast. I want to make sure you know that on my website, KatrinaUbellmd.com, there is a little tab at the very top on the right called free resources, and when you click on that, you can get a whole bunch of stuff for free to help you with weight loss, your mindset, just getting you straight on everything that’s going on in the world right now. There’s so much help for you there.

You can also just go to KatrinaUbellmd.com/resources and you’ll get there too. So here’s a quick rundown on some of the awesome things you can get there. So first of all, there’s the podcast roadmap and that is a list of 30 of my most effective weight loss episodes. So they’re all good, but as you know, this is episode 173. So when you’re first finding a podcast, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming and you’re thinking, “How do I know which ones I should listen to? Do I start at the beginning? How do I get caught up? It’s going to take me a long time. And I totally get that. So that’s why I created this podcast roadmap. And so there’s 30 episodes, and if you listen to one episode a day and start applying what I learn, in 30 days for sure you’re going to have made massive changes in your life and have definitely lost some weight.

So right now with everything going on, you might be thinking, “But I don’t really know if I want to be focusing on weight loss right now.” And what I would suggest is that you listen anyway and you start thinking about where these things are even coming up in your life. Just work on awareness. You don’t even necessarily have to change anything you’re doing right now, but just work on awareness. I’ve told you this story before, but I lost my first 10 pounds just paying attention to when I was hungry and when I wasn’t, eating all the same stuff, but just not eating when I wasn’t hungry and I lost 10 pounds literally. And I’m not one of those people where it’s like, “Oh, I just stopped drinking that soda every day and look, I lost 30 pounds.” That was not me.

It was just shocking to me how often I was eating when I wasn’t hungry. I was eating because it was time, because I was supposed to. Right? Things like that. So just checking in on my hunger made a huge difference. So even if you’re thinking, “Well, I’m just not so sure I want to totally double down on weight loss right now.” That’s okay. Get that podcast roadmap, start listening, start applying to your life for sure. There is also a quick start guide for weight loss that you can get, just a quick little PDF that you can download and that is even quicker. That doesn’t even involve listening to the podcast. That’s just giving you some soundbites. Some bite-size information for you to be able to think about what’s going on in your life, where you’re struggling with your weight, some quick changes you can make, and how you can start getting some of the weight loss going for yourself right away.

Also, if you feel like you have gained a few pounds or maybe more than a few pounds during this pandemic, that’s totally cool. This is not a reflection of your value as a human being or how good of a person you are or how valuable you are, anything like that. What it means is that you’ve just eaten more food, more fuel than your body has needed and it’s stored it on your body as fat. That’s totally cool. Not a big deal, but maybe let’s slow it down, right?

Maybe let’s make it so you don’t gain more weight and that quick start guide can definitely help you. And then I also have a digital book there that you can get. It’s called How to Lose Weight Permanently. So if you’re wanting to know a little bit more about my philosophy behind weight loss, if you’re wanting to know really what your whole struggle is all about and why you go into things with a good intention of not gaining weight and then you end up gaining anyway, I.E. the pandemic, but before that, vacations, events, stressful times in your life, that book is going to give you tons of information about it. So that one’s called How to Lose Weight Permanently. You can get that for free on that resources page as well.

And then I also have been hosting free coaching calls for healthcare workers. And so we have a few more coming up live, if you’d like to join me live or if you’d like to just catch some of the replays, then you can get that information on there as well. So we are coaching on more current topics, current events, and also just normal stuff. I’ve definitely coached people on going like, “But is it still okay to want to lose weight right now? Is it okay to not be completely stuck and in despair because there’s a pandemic?” And the answer of course is yes, but so it’s not just all COVID all the time. I know some people have been thinking, “Listen, I need a break and I don’t want to really be listening to that all the time.”

And I totally get that. I totally get that. So in some ways we’re talking about that. Some of the coaching topics or are COVID related things and a lot of them are not. So definitely check that out as well. And then as I offer any new free trainings, which I offer periodically, those are all going to be listed on this resources page as well. So whenever, whatever time, if we are already post-pandemic when you’re listening to this, you’re going to be able to find some great information and great help for yourself on that page. So again, to get all that information, go to KatrinaUbellmd.com, click on free resources, which is at the top right corner or you can just go to KatrinaUbellmd.com/resources and that’s such an easy way to find it.

Okay, so we are nearing two months in the pandemic here. It’s getting close, and so there’s different things happening for different physicians. If you’ve been working this whole time, if you’ve been on the front lines and you’ve definitely had plenty of patients to see, you might be hitting your stride right now. You might be finding, “You know what? I’ve kind of got all my methods to decontaminate myself all figured out. I have sense of how this is all going. I know how to take care of these patients. I’m just kind of hitting my groove.” Or you might be going, “I can’t even do this for one more day, let alone weeks and months more. I’m getting totally burned out. I don’t want it to be this way. When am I going to see the usual stuff that I used to see? When am I going to get some variety?” There might be a lot of those thoughts going on.

If you’ve been out of work or working a reduced schedule, you might be back fully already by now, you might be back in a limited form, or you might be still waiting to come back, depending. The situation in various parts of our country and other people’s countries have been really changing. There’s been a lot of variety to that, so you might be just kind of in a still kind of in between stage. And there’s still lots and lots of unknowns, so many things that we don’t know, so many different people projecting different ideas of what they think is going to be happening. And what has been happening, what I’m noticing is that many of the people that I’m coaching are telling me things like that they feel out of control with their eating. They feel out of control with so many things in their lives right now.

They feel out of control with their job, with their ability to make money. They feel like they’re at the mercy of other people making decisions for them, that they don’t have control over those decisions, that they feel just this lack of agency over themselves in their lives. They feel like they went from having their life pretty buttoned up, right? Having everything pretty nailed down, being pretty organized, to feeling like everything is chaotic and disorganized and totally out of control. So where have you been feeling out of control? I want you to think about that. What has been feeling really out of control for you? And what I want to suggest is that what’s out of control and what’s actually chaotic and what’s actually disorganized is your brain, because here’s the thing. You actually don’t have less control right now than you had earlier this year or last year or at any other time in your life.

You have not been in control of most things in your life this whole time. It’s a little bit of a newsflash for most of us. You just didn’t think about how you weren’t in control of them. In fact, what you probably did is you probably believed that you were in control even when you weren’t in control. So you were basically diluting yourself into thinking that you had control because it made you feel the way you wanted to feel and you wanted to view your life that way. And for the most part, if you didn’t have any negative result because of that, then there’s no problem with that. There’s no reason why that’s an issue. But now it’s much more front and center in your awareness that you’re not in control of a lot of things and you may not like that. And there are so many things.

I made a short list of things that we don’t have control over and that we’ve never had control over, yet we don’t about them as though we don’t have control over them. So things like when and how you pay your bills, right? The mortgage company tells you how much the bill is, when it’s due, and what the different ways are that you can pay it. You can’t just go to your mortgage company and say, “Hey, I’d like to pay my mortgage in Bitcoin. That’s how I’m going to pay you. I would like to barter with you. I’ll give you free medical care in order for you to not charge me money for my mortgage.” That’s not how it works. You don’t have that kind of control. They’re in control of that, right? Same for paying rent or what the terms are of your rental agreement. When you pay your utilities or your insurance bills. When and how you pay your credit card bills, right?

They decide what the percentage is of interest that you pay if you don’t pay your credit card bill this month or if you just pay the minimum. You can maybe call them and negotiate that, but they’re still the one who decides. You entered into the agreement and they’re the one who decides. They’re in control. When school starts and ends, you don’t have control over, how to drop off and pick up your kids, when school vacations and days off are, when school events are planned, how much homework your child has. These are all things that you don’t have control over. How to access city services like police and fire help, where you can park and how much you have to pay, what the ordinances say. You don’t have control over what they’re going to do to you if you walk around naked or pee in someone’s yard. That’s the city’s decision. They’re in control of that.

Depending on your job, you don’t have control over when you start work, when you have a lunch break or if you even have a lunch break, when you’re finished for the day. That’s actually really common for physicians. When I was working as a pediatrician, I never knew when I was going to be finished for the day. That was not in my control. Even when I said, “Listen you guys, I have to be walking out of here at 5:00.” Yeah, still didn’t have control. Didn’t have control over what my schedule looked like ultimately because someone else was making those decisions. You’ve certainly never had control over other people in your life, even your children. Really important because many of us think we can control our children. We really think we can. We think we have evidence that we control them. Even though your brain wants you to believe that it’s possible to control other people, I promise you it’s not possible and you don’t control them.

You’ve never had control over how your child did their schoolwork and what their attitude was about it. You’ve never had control over the weather or wildlife or other drivers or when appliances break down or businesses’ return policies or whether your technology works or not or how you age. I mean the list goes on and on and on and on and on about what you have control over and what you don’t have control over. So what you don’t have control over is the vast majority of things in your life. Okay? This is all the time. This was before the pandemic, this is now in the pandemic and this is going to still be the case after the pandemic is over. So this is such a good opportunity for you to work on your control enthusiasm. That’s what we like to call it. Doesn’t mean control freak, just enthusiastic about being controlling because I’m the same way.

I love it too. I love to control things. It feels so good when you feel like you know how things are going to go, but you don’t have that control. And so let me share with you what the only things are that you can control, and this will always be the case. Okay? It was the case before, it’s the case now and it’s going to be the case moving forward in your life as well.

What you have control over is what you think, how you feel, and what actions do you take. Just those three things. That’s it. So when you think about what you can control, the first thing is what you think. So all of the other things that I was talking about before, those are all outside circumstances. Other people are making those decisions. Those are just neutral facts. This is what wildlife does. This is the business’ return policy. This is when we start clinic and your first patient will be. You get to decide what you think about it. So, often we think, “I’m in control of this.” And you might be in control of when you first see your patient, but a lot of doctors are not. In my practice, our first patient was at 9:00. I couldn’t just be like, “I’m coming in at 10:30.” That was not how it worked.

So you get to decide what you think about that. If you think, “I’m out of control, I wish I were in control of this. I don’t have control.” That makes you feel out of control, right? Feeling out of control, feeling disorganized, feeling like everything is chaotic is because of how you think, because your thoughts create your feelings. It’s not because of what’s actually happening. It’s not because you’re having to homeschool your kids. Okay? It’s not because there’s a virus and the virus is controlling you. You get to decide what you’re going to think and what that means is that you are deciding what your interpretation is of what’s happening around you. You’re deciding what the meaning is that you’re going to give to what’s happening around you and all those other things that you’re not in control over. How you think, those thoughts that you choose to think will determine how you feel.

If you don’t like how you feel, if you don’t like the emotions that you’re experiencing right now, rather than thinking that everything needs to change so that you can feel better, instead look at what you’re thinking, what your thoughts are, what your interpretation is, what the meaning is that you’re assigning, what you’re believing about what’s going on, because that is what’s creating the feeling that you have that you don’t want. The way you feel differently is by changing the way you think.

One of the best ways to change how you think is to just question what you’re thinking, what you believe to be true. I love doing this. What if that’s just not even true at all? What if I’ve been confused this whole time and it’s just not even true? It’s kind of fun when you’re open to it. If you always are somebody who has to be right, this is going to be more challenging for you because you’re like, “No, I’m going to sit here in righteous indignation and just be right. No matter how much it punishes me, no matter how bad it makes me feel, no matter how much it makes me take actions that don’t give me the results I want and in my life.” Right? Stubborn.

I’ve been there too. I’ve for sure been there. So you have to be willing to question this, willing to look at it and go, “What if there’s another way of thinking about this that also felt true and actually gave me the feelings that I want to experience, made me experience this whole part of my life in a way that serves me? What if I just thought that way and I just dropped the other part? Even though it seems like it’s right, it just doesn’t serve me, so there’s literally no upside to keeping that way of thinking.” Right? Experiment with that. How you feel, you’re always determining. You cannot blame other people for how you feel if you’re living in emotional adulthood. Okay? When you’re living in emotional childhood, then you are blaming other people, outside situations, the world, the virus, all of that. That needs to change in order for you to feel better.

The most extreme form of emotional childhood is the victim mentality where you’re the victim and whoever you think is in charge of determining how you feel is the villain. This is the most disempowering place that you can be because when you’re in a victim mentality, the only way that you can feel better, is for the villain to change. If the virus is the villain, then the only way that you can feel better is for the virus to go away or for there to be a vaccine or a treatment protocol that’s effective and works consistently. If that’s the case, then you’re going to be waiting. You’re going to be waiting a while to feel better, or the way to get out of that victim mentality is to drop the way that you’re interpreting the thing that you think is the villain, right? So if the villain is not… it’s not a fact that it’s a villain or that person is a villain.

They’re a villain because of how you’re thinking about them, the story you’re telling yourself about them. So if you are willing to take your power back and recognize it, you always have control over how you feel. That’s your job that nobody else, no outside thing, no virus can determine how you feel. That helps you to feel how you want to feel. And then you’re taking back control, right? When you’re in victim mentality, the reason that feels so bad is because you’re giving all your control away. You’re letting the villain have all the control. You’re like, “Hey, I love being in control, but instead I’m just going to give you all the control to determine how I feel. And then I’m going to feel terrible about that.” Right? We don’t realize, “Oh, I can just take that back at any time.” And then the other thing you can control is what actions you take. Okay?

You are never out of control in your eating. If you’re eating more food than your body needs, what you’re doing is you’re thinking thoughts that drive you to feel a certain way and that feeling is something you’re not willing to feel, so you’re eating to feel better. Okay? That’s all that’s happening. So if you’re taking actions right now that you don’t want to be taking, if you’re feeling out of control, I know a lot of people are feeling very frustrated with trying to school their children. If you are not liking how you’re showing up in a certain way in your life, it’s not because of them. It’s not because you’re out of control, it’s because of the way you’re thinking and feeling. And if you want to be taking different actions, you need to look at how you’re feeling and change that feeling. The way you change your feeling is by thinking something different.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I want to just comment on it again, if you are getting very, very frustrated with your children over school, what I want to suggest instead is that you take this opportunity of having them home to build your relationship with them. That whatever you’re doing is a relationship building interaction so that on the other end of the pandemic you’re coming out of this, when they go back to school, they go back to their normal lives, that you’re coming out of this with a stronger relationship than when you went in. If you are approaching all your interactions coming from that place, how can you strengthen that relationship? You will definitely be thinking differently, feeling differently, and be taking different actions. And your whole experience of having them home will be very, very different and much more pleasant for you, I promise.

So when you are feeling out of control, remember this is because of the way that you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you have the ability to control something and then realizing that you don’t, when the reality is that you never did. Right? We’re like, “I thought I was in control of that. Now I feel so out of control because I’m not in control of it.” When the truth is you’ve always been out of control, you just didn’t know or you just decided not to think about it.

So stop trying to control what you don’t have control over and instead focus on what you can control. You can control what you think, which is how you interpret what’s going on, the meaning that you give it, what you believe. You can control how you feel and you control what you do or don’t do. That’s it. It’s so simple. When you boil it down to this and you’re feeling out of control, you’re like, “Okay, I’m thinking that I can control all these other things that I can’t control. What am I thinking? How am I feeling? What actions am I taking? How do I want to control that? Because that’s what I actually can control and we’re doing a terrible job of it right now.”

So this is such a good opportunity. This is something I taught before the pandemic, but this is such an amazing opportunity for you to practice controlling yourself and stopping trying to control everyone else. We can just let the control enthusiasm go to bed, right? We notice the tendency and we just recognize it for what it is and we let it go. So with that, please focus on what you can control. There’s so much. What you think, how you feel, the actions you take. You have 60,000 plus thoughts every single day and you’re in control of every single one of them. Okay? So get to work. Let’s do it, and I’ll talk to you next week. Take care.

Did you know that you can find a lot more help from me on my website? Go to KatrinaUbellmd.com and click on free resources.


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  • Emily

    Hi, Katrina! I love your podcast, and am a faithful follower of it. After cutting back on sugar/flour, cutting out snacking, and dialing in on the hunger scale, my weight started to come off, and I was feeling great. But I experienced some confusion when I lost more weight than I wanted, then thought I could eat a bit more at each meal. I found the thought that I can ignore the hunger scale even just a little, throws my body off to where my weight is going in the opposite direction too far. How do you manage your thoughts when you want to adjust your weight up, but not too much?

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