Desire. We all have it, but how many of us actually really consider where it comes from? For a lot of people, desire is confusing because we think it’s something that just happens to us, but today I’m breaking down that myth and sharing why we are all in control of our desires.

Listen in as I discuss how our thoughts create our desires, which then create our urges, and how we can reduce unwanted desires. I’ll also be diving into how you can identify and name your deepest desires so you can create space for what’s really important to you—and I promise, your deepest desires probably do not revolve around eating cookies every day!

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In Today's Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How our thoughts create our desires.
  • Why it’s a myth that we don’t have any control over our desires.
  • Tips to use your thoughts to reduce your desire.
  • The two types of desires and how to create space for the ones that truly matter.

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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 209.

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 is your new year going for you? So far so good? I am so glad that you're here today. You might be new or new-ish to the podcast and if you are, I'm so glad that you are here with me today. I want to encourage you if you're looking for some more help for me to go to my website,

You can click on the resources tab right there, and you're going to be able to get some great help for free. There's my Six Steps to Jumpstart Your Weight Loss that you can download. There's also a whole podcast roadmap that will give you the best episodes to start listening to so you can really kickstart your weight loss and start getting control over your eating, your mind, your life, all of it. And it'll just tell you exactly which episodes to start listening to. So if you're looking and you're like, “209 episodes, what?” This will tell you exactly where to start and what to do, and it's going to be super helpful for you. Also, before I get into my topic for today, this is the last minute addition. I just feel super called to share this information. I want you to know I have literally no affiliation.

I don't know the people who are putting this on personally. All I know is that they have helped me a ton, and I think that they may help you, but more importantly, this might really help you with your patients who are really struggling. So there is an MD physician, his name is Dr. Howard Schubener. He's actually in the Michigan, Metro Detroit area, and he is somebody who focuses on the mind, body connection in medicine. And so, many of you are going to remember that several months ago, I did a podcast episode with my coach, Betsy Jensen, talking about how I figured out how all kinds of ailments and aches and pains and diagnoses that I've had many for decades I was able to completely, I mean, I don't even want to say heal, just remove, they're just gone because I now understand how my brain was actually creating these symptoms.

And these are real things that were diagnosed by real doctors and I was able to just remove them. It's been completely remarkable. So I still am on this path of educating myself about this. And as you know, new things come up for me or as just some old pains or aches or symptoms of whatever kind maybe show up, I'm just continuing to learn more and broaden my knowledge about it. Well, I was listening to a podcast today and they were talking about how, well it was actually an interview with Dr. Howard Schubener and he was saying how he wished so many more doctors knew about this concept of the mind, body connection in medicine and neuroplastic pain, which is real pain that you really, really feel. These are real symptoms that you feel, but they're not caused because of an actual medical problem in your body, it is pain that is mediated by your brain.

So very important, if this is the first time you're hearing about this, I want to encourage you to go back and listen to that episode. I did with Betsy because she did a way better job than I could in explaining how it is real pain, we're not seeing the symptoms are in your head, but it is a brain mediated issue that is fixable by working with the brain. So anyway, Dr. Schubener was talking on this podcast about how he is actually going to be doing a training for doctors and really other medical professionals as well, but specifically for physicians who are interested in knowing more about this work and how to help patients to understand what is the cause of their pain, how to diagnose. I'll actually just tell you what the program objectives are. Again, I just want to tell you, I'm not an affiliate.

I don't know Dr. Schubener, I just think that doctors are going to want to know about this and I know so many of you, we've gotten so much positive feedback about that episode I did with Betsy that I know that many of you are looking for other answers for your patients who are just really struggling. I think it's eight hours this training and it's virtual. I mean, no better time. So I did actually have a moment where I thought, “Maybe I can get Dr. Schubener to come onto the podcast,” and maybe I could have to have him explain it. But then I thought, “Well, why go through that whole rigamarole, I can just tell you about it.” And then you can check it out for yourself. So the way to get more information is to go to his website, which is,

And then, if you just scroll down to the teeny bit, it says virtual training, and then you can click on a link for more details. So, in the details page, he tells you about program overview. This is what it is. “Clients and patients often present with chronic symptoms for which there is no clear medical explanation, including pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia. High rates of lifetime trauma and unresolved emotional experiences often underlie these conditions. New research and clinical practices have been shown to be effective for these individuals. This basic training offers the clinician the opportunity to gain knowledge and learn skills that will be immediately applicable to their practices.” So here are the program objectives. “Attendees will be able to one, describe the role of the brain and neural circuit disorders.” So neural circuit disorders is the same thing as neuroplastic pain.

There's a lot of terms for the same mind, body pain disorder issues. “Two, describe which disorders are clearly caused by neural circuit disorders. Three, determine which patients have neurocircuit disorders and which have structural disorders. Four, perform provocative testing in the assessment of neurocircuit disorders. Five, explain neural circuit disorders in a clear and compassionate manner, and six refer patients to appropriate resources in the treatment of neural circuit disorders.” So the target audience is physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, and others who provide services for people experiencing chronic pain. And so, there actually will also be continuing medical education credits as well. So it's on March 19th in the afternoon and March 20th in the morning. So that's a Friday afternoon and a Saturday morning. It's only $125. So I think that's pretty, pretty awesome. And it includes a book called Hidden From View by Dr. Schubener and another doctor.

So I am actually, even though I'm not in practice anymore, I'm actually considering signing up for it just because I think it would be so interesting to understand more about it. And I just know if you're looking for any CME, and this is the type of thing that you deal with on a regular basis in your practice, this could be super helpful. They said there will be some sort of accreditation type of thing that you'll get, or some sort of certification that you went through this program. So I just feel called to tell you, because I think there's going to be at least one person listening to this who's like, “Oh my gosh, yes.” And you're going to be able to change so many people's lives for the better because of having gone through this. So check it out. Like I said,, then click on the virtual training little section just below and you'll be able to find it.

Okay. You might be like, “Why are we talking about this?” I just feel like it's super important. I just have this gut feeling. Okay. So today I want to talk to you about desire. Desire over desire, this is something that I talk to my clients about a lot. This is something that for a lot of people feels confusing and I have a new way of thinking about it that I want to share with you, that I've been working on for the last several days. So when we think about desire, we often think that it just happens to us, like I just look at a cookie and I want it. And there are no words, there's no thought. But that really isn't the truth, right? We look at that cookie and our brain registers it. It assigns meaning to it, which is in the form of thoughts.

Even if they're more on a subconscious level. Such as, that one looks really good, that would taste good, that's my favorite kind. That one's gooey, I like it like that or it's fresh out of the oven or I can smell them and they smell delicious. Those are all thoughts that create our desire. And for a lot of us, it creates that urge to go and eat it. So sometimes we're thinking this desire is just happening to us and if we think that way, then we don't have control over it. Then we don't know how to reduce that desire. But I am walking, living proof that you can for sure reduce your desire by changing your thoughts about the food. Now, one way you can think about this is you could have that same cookie sitting there that you had all this desire for but if you saw someone pick their nose and then pick up that cookie and look at it and put it back down again, you wouldn't really want that cookie, right?

We can come up with all kinds of examples. You see a little kid come over, look at it and sneeze on it and you saw the spray come out, you no longer want that cookie. So the cookie is still the cookie, why do you no longer desire it? Because your thoughts about it are different, because your brain is assigning meaning, right? Your brain's going, “Ew, that cookie alone, maybe was good. But with the snot spray on it no longer. Now I don't want that anymore. That isn't going to be good.” Another example is say you love eating foods that contain flour, and then you get a diagnosis of celiac disease. It might still taste delicious to you, but you'll have new thoughts about it. That food now hurts me. That is no longer something that my body can handle.

And you might have some thoughts that make you feel sad and you might miss it and there might be some other thoughts that you have, but that desire for the food would be different because of the way that you're thinking about it. I did this for myself when I had an obsession with peanut butter for a while. It was really interesting. For a while I could eat it and it was not a problem for me, it never really created too much of an issue, but I did enjoy it a lot. And then this was several years ago, I got to a point where I felt like it was talking to me. The same way that a pan of brownies can talk to you from downstairs in the kitchen on the counter. I felt like it was just like, “Come and get more peanut butter.” My brain was like, “Peanut butter's amazing. You need to eat more of it.” And there were several times where I ate so much of it that I literally felt ill.

So even though that was considered an on plan food for me, I was still overeating it to the point where I was not getting the experience out of eating peanut butter that I was wanting. So I had to go through the process of reducing my desire. Now, one of the best ways to reduce your desire is to abstain from it for a little while. Just having to take a break from it usually helps a lot. Your thoughts can go from overemphasizing the food to just understanding it's another option. And so, that is one of the best ways to just get the ball rolling. But then what you have to do is understand what your thoughts are about the food that make it so important to you. So for me, with peanut butter, I just kept thinking, “Peanut butter is really yummy. It's a treat, it's decadent. I don't really like regular nuts, so this is my version of regular nuts that I get to have.

This is something that is really rich and it's really satisfying and it makes me feel nicely satisfied and full in the best possible way.” Of course, until I overate it, right? These were my thoughts. This was what my brain was making it mean when I thought about eating peanut butter. But even when it was in the pantry and I was in a different room, my brain would start being like, “But that peanut butter, it's so good. You should just go get a spoonful. You should just go get a spoonful.” And so, I had days where I went back and got more and more and more. And there were days when I looked at the container and I thought, “I've probably eaten a cup of peanut butter. That might be too much peanut butter.” And we're not even talking about what it does to your body or weight or anything just physically in my body it did not feel good when I ate that much.

So I had to be on the lookout for my brain thinking peanut butter is so special, it's so awesome, it's so amazing and instead reminding it it's a food like any other food. This is something that I can have if I want it, but it's also not something that's very important. It's just sitting there. It doesn't have any power over me. I had to give it new meaning. Now what's really interesting is I never had the goal of not wanting to eat peanut butter ever, but that is what ended up happening. I mean, I'm not against eating it, I just haven't eaten it in a long time because I just haven't had the desire for it at all. It's just not something I'm really interested in. So it's a very interesting experience to go through a food that you feel like is controlling you, reducing your desire for it and then seeing the freedom that that brings, right?

It tastes exactly the same, it's still the same peanut butter. It's just not something that is having any control over my life or creating a lot of desire. Now, what I noticed for many of the people that I work with is that they look at the desire that they have for these foods that don't serve them or that they have a hard time controlling themselves around, when they eat them what they are doing is they're basically reluctant to give up their desire for the food, right? If you think about it, I've heard this with coffee, like I don't want to not like coffee because I love coffee so much. Well, if there was something that you could love even more than coffee, might you be willing to trade coffee? Now, I just want to tell you, I'm not saying you have to give up coffee, okay?

For all your people that are like, “Hold on a second. We can't have coffee?” That is not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that we think if I give this up, then it's a net loss. We don't realize that there could be something better out there. So if coffee is a problem for you or you're really over drinking it, or having some sort of side effects from having it, you might want to consider reducing your desire for coffee. But I think, this is my hypothesis, that there are different kinds of desire and we want to have certain desires in our lives. To say, “I don't desire anything,” feels weird. When I think about having no desires, I almost feel listless. I don't know what to do. If I don't want anything, what do I do? And so, here's what I want to propose. I think that there's two kinds of desires and I'm calling one kind of desire a worthy desire and the other kind of desire a worthless desire, okay?

So we have worthy desires and worthless desires. Worthy desires are deep desires that we have within us. These are the desires that we know are just meant for us, that gut feeling of, yes, that message of I was made for this. I am in my element when I do this. This thing that I'm trying to create, or that I'm wanting, which could be something that you already have, by the way, this, I just know deep within me, I'm meant for this and I really deeply desire this. The problem here is that many of us are completely disconnected from what we deeply desire. Most of our desires, well, for most of us, many of our desires are related to what we've been told we should want. What we grew up thinking was the right thing to want, that whatever we have in our lives we should want that and if we don't, there's something wrong with us or we're a bad person in some way.

Or we just literally have not spent any time in the recent past thinking or spending any time on what we truly deeply desire. Many of us are on autopilot, just recreating the same things again and again because we think we should. And I think this is where we get into a lot of trouble because we think, “Okay, well, no, what I desire is that promotion and then I'm going to be able to get this new thing, buy a nicer house, when we can travel again, travel.” Amazing experiences or things like that. But often we get those things and it falls flat. It's not as good as we thought it would be. And I think that that's because we aren't actually acting from our deepest, deepest desires. Now some of us are afraid of finding out what our deepest desires are because we're worried, what if I find out what I really want? And then I have to blow my whole life up.

What if I find out that what I really want is not what I have right now? What if I want to change everything in my life and the people who I love or who are important to me are not on board with that? And what I want to offer to you is that all of that is solvable, that's all things that you can work through, but what does not feel good is living out someone else's desires or what you think you should be desiring rather than actually living from that place of deep desire that you know is authentic to you, that you are here, I mean, whatever your spiritual beliefs are, or if you have none, whatever the point is of you being here, right? There's a reason, I believe, that you're here. There's a special something that only you can offer and so, it's your responsibility to do that. And when you do that, you feel like that deep desire is met.

You feel like you're in your element, you are doing exactly what you should be doing in the world. Now, many of you are going to be like, “Yes, I know exactly what she's talking about. That's how I feel every day at work give or take a few days that are harder than others. But for the most part, yes, I feel like I was meant for this. I'm so skilled at this. This comes easily to me in ways that it's much harder for other people,” things like that. And that's amazing. I'm so glad that you have that experience. For others, you might be like, “I don't even know what you're talking about right now Katrina. Literally, are we speaking another language? What is happening right now?” And if that is your reaction then I want to suggest that you spend some time just pondering this without any pressure, no stress, we're not in a rush. We're not in a hurry, we're not trying to change everything, but just asking yourself, what do I want?

What do I truly, deeply want? And not comparing it to what you have right now, but just creating some space to even ponder this or consider this. Whatever you come up with, whatever those deep desires are, because those desires are not peanut butter in the pantry. Those desires are not, I want to eat cookies every day, okay? I just want to be clear on that. When you find out what those are, then you can start thinking, “Okay, well, in what ways am I living in alignment with that? Or what are the things that I'm doing that I think I should want but I just really don't and how can I maybe change things?” We think that our experience of our lives is just the way it is, and it is because of the way that we're thinking. But when you have a deep desire to do one thing, but your brain is telling you no, no, no, the right way to live life is to do this other thing. It's a lot more coaching that you have to do on yourself to make it so that you can really enjoy your life.

Okay, so those deep desires, those are what I'm calling worthy desires, because we don't want to reduce our desire for this thing that we deeply believe we're here on earth for, that we're meant to do. That no one could do it better than us. But when we are spending all of our time desiring things that don't serve us, like certain foods, possibly alcohol, those are worthless desires because they don't create anything that moves us along in our path, right? They give us a moment of pleasure flash in the pan, and then it's gone again. And in a lot of cases, depending on what your thoughts are, you might be thinking really negatively about yourself because you're starting to think, you know what? I shouldn't have had that. Now I feel gross. Now I'm never going to lose weight, whatever the narrative is that you have in your brain.

So what I want to propose is that you find out what are your worthless desires? What takes up a lot of your brain space, your creative energy, that is a worthless desire? And you work to reduce those desires, but then you substitute in for that space of desire, your worthy desires, right? You get connected to what is a worthy desire, and when your brain's trying to tell you that having whatever piece of cake is a really important thing, you recognize, this is not a worthy desire. This is worthless. I want to be spending time focusing on those really worthy desires that I have, creating those things that I really truly, deeply want for myself and maybe for others as well. So I think when you look at it from a bigger picture, you're able to see the utility of reducing your desire for a certain food, because there is peace.

I love not caring at all about peanut butter. It's awesome. That's really, really nice. It takes up a lot less space in my brain. Honestly, I don't think about it really ever. It's just not a thing for me anymore. But taking that away leaves the space for me to think about, “Well, what do I really want? What do I want to spend my time, my effort, my energy on? What do I want to create? What I want to contribute to? Who do I want to be in this world?” And I can move toward those goals and those desires that are going to, for sure, always create something good for me in the long run. Okay. Let me know what you think about this episode. You can find me on the socials or you can also leave a comment on this podcast episode, by going to

Let me know, start thinking about what are the worthless desires that you have and what are the worthy desires. When you really, really dig deep, what is it that you really want? Let's focus on that and focus on creating that. I guarantee you, you do not have a deep desire for a lot of brain chatter around food, a lot of weight loss and weight gain, a lot of nonsense around your food, your alcohol intake. That's not a deep desire. So let's put that to rest so that you can move toward those deep desires that you have. All right, my friend, thank you so much for being here. I always love talking to you. I hope you have a great rest of your week and I will catch you next time. Take care. Buh-bye.

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