Is Professional Success Making You Overeat? | TMOHP Episode 112

We talk a lot about stress eating, comfort eating, or eating because you’re unhappy. What doesn’t get talked about much is overeating and emotional eating that happens when things are going well. In this episode, I want to talk about something a lot of high-achieving women experience, but feel alone with - overeating and success. Specifically, I’m going to shine a light on how professional success is sometimes a major factor in overeating and weight gain.

There are specific overeating traps for successful women. Because we don’t talk about them, finding yourself stuck in patterns of overeating - especially when everything else is going so well - can feel very lonely and isolating. Let’s talk about the overeating traps and what you can do to avoid them.

In this episode:

  • How professional success (or any success) can lead to overeating
  • How socialization can lead to overeating as a substitute for what we really need
  • Three specific traps that successful women fall prey to that lead to overeating
  • How to take your power back and make CEO moves that make a difference

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Free Masterclass  Learn how to stop overeating and emotional eating - without the frustration, vicious cycles, or going hungry. You’ll also get an inside look at Your Missing Peace, my coaching program for creating freedom from overeating. 
  • Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and get a free set of resources matched to your results.
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody welcome to another episode of the too much on her plate podcast. Today, I want to talk about something that doesn't get talked about enough. I want to talk about success, specifically professional success. Being a successful professional and how that can contribute to or trigger overeating. Or a relationship with food that doesn't work for you. 

Now I know that success usually isn't listed as a reason for overeating. Right? We're familiar with things like stress eating and comfort eating. But today I want to talk about overeating when things are going well, because it actually happens a lot.

In fact, for women, professional success, being successful in your career can be a major, a major contributor to overeating and to the weight gain that goes with that. And it's something that doesn't get talked about. And because it doesn't get talked about, people who struggle with this often feel alone or kind of weird like, why, why is this happening to me? Why does everybody else have this figured out? And that also adds a whole other layer to the struggle. 

So today I want to cover how overeating and success and career success can overlap. And three ways to keep your professional success from contributing to overeating or from causing overeating habits or habits with food that don't work for you.

The most obvious place that I see this cropping up for high achieving successful women is when overeating starts to take the place of self-care. Right? So you get really busy. You got a lot of things going on. You have a lot of responsibilities and you start feeling like who's got time for self-care? Your schedule's full, your to do list is never ending.

And you're always thinking about how you're going to get to it. Right? You know, it's important, or you give lip service to it being important. And you have the secret goal of someday you're going to create better life balance. You're going to make more time for yourself. You're going to catch up on your sleep.

But you never have the time. You never get to creating that better schedule or doing the yoga or having the better balance. In fact, your priorities might always be, are probably always the ones that get swept off the agenda or get pushed to the bottom of the list when things get busy. When work heats up, when there's that important meeting, things get really crazy, you fall off the list. Right?

And here's what happens. You get really busy. Thing and it could be really exciting busy, right? Sometimes these are things that are really important to you that you love that you are enjoying pursuing or making happen. But things are getting busy and you fall off your radar. Or you postpone yourself and this is where overeating gets a grip.

I'm not talking about the crazy, stressful, uncomfortable times where you feel like you are at the mercy of everybody else's schedule. And things aren't working for you and you feel overwhelmed and you're unhappy with how things are going.

I'm talking about the busy times when you are really loving, enjoying the rhythm of it. You're loving what's going on. But you aren't getting what you need. You aren't having time for you. And overeating comes in. For lots of high earning women with a lot on their plates food becomes a Band Aid. We use food for the things that we aren't giving ourselves time for. And we buy into this myth that overeating is self-care. Right? This is, overeating is this nice thing that I'm doing for myself, even though in the end it doesn't feel good. It doesn't feel nourishing. It doesn't feel nurturing at all. 

Reaching for something to eat can give temporary comfort. It often does. It can give temporary pleasure. It can distract you when you don't feel like you have time for anything else, or it can numb the, the urge that you feel to give yourself what you really need.

So food can be this band aid for what you really want. And when you're busy, when you have a lot going on, there's another layer to it because a lot of us turn to mindless eating when we're too busy. When we're exhausted. When we're not paying attention. So eating at your desk, snacking while you do three things at once. Right? Gulping down your dinner in your car. 

All of these things lead to being less aware of what you're eating, how much you're eating. Mindless eating leads to feeling less satisfied. Not sensing your fullness when you're full and going on to overeat. And so, again, another layer at which when you are enjoying yourself, being busy, being successful, overeating can be a problem.

I am so clear with the women I work with that self-care is not optional. It is absolutely what you need to be fueled and to be vibrant and to be continually perpetuating the success that you have created. Your success requires you to show up nourished and happy and fulfilled and vibrant and at your best.

And mastering life balance, finding a way to balance you and these other things that is, that are important to you. This is key to creating a successful life that feeds you back. The thing is nobody passes out a manual on this life balance thing. Right? And it looks different for everyone. It looks so different for everyone that it has become trendy to say, well, there's no such thing.

I have heard, and I know you probably have too, some very successful, powerful women say, well, you know, there is no such thing as life balance. It's not achievable. You can't have it. You just have to make a decision about what's important to you. And chasing this elusive thing is just going to stress you out more.

Life balance looks different for everyone. And it is important to know what it looks like for you. If balance, if that word conjures up feelings of teetering on a tightrope, if it feels impossible, if the idea of balance stresses you out, then find a word that suits you better. But don't kid yourself. 

You are the key. You are the key to all the success that you have created, and you do have to fit yourself in. So, you have to fit yourself in. Self-care is not negotiable. Also, numbing isn't self-care. Numbing yourself out, pushing down your feelings with food, that's not self-care. It's probably a symptom that you are lacking the things that you need. It's probably a symptom that you're lacking in what would be self-care for you. 

Now, if you can't figure out this part of the program, don't be hard on yourself. This is a common enough issue that I am making a podcast episode about it. Right? If you can't figure out how to fit yourself in, how to have something that actually feels like balance and not like walking on a tight rope to you, then make the CEO move and reach out for help.

Do not be afraid to get the help you need to create a life that truly works for you. And not just for your profession and not just for your success. All right? 

Now, the second thing I want to talk about, and it relates to what I was just talking about in terms of connecting to help, is that We've got to be real. It can be really lonely to be a successful woman.

Sometimes, and I'm speaking specifically to women. The really big accomplishments are the trickiest ones to share. And let's not get too granular about what big means. Because what is big is going to be dependent on who you are. On your social circle. On what your baseline was, you know, as you became successful.

But when you do something awesome, whether it is closing a six figure deal or a seven figure deal or scoring the meeting or making the hire or getting the interview or getting the part or getting the audition or getting interviewed by the New York Times... whatever the big thing is, it may feel like the circle that you can, you know, yell your wind to and toot your own horn to is pretty small.

Or it may feel like you really shouldn't tell anybody. So, a client recently said, my friends are really happy for me, but they don't really get it. Another member of Your Missing Peace talked about that if she shares these big wins, that not only are they big wins, but they clearly come with making some pretty good money. Her friends and her family, who do not live at the level she does, they won't understand. Or she's worried that they'll feel bad. She said, I don't want to brag. I don't want to make other people feel uncomfortable. So I just try not to make a big deal of it. I don't talk about a lot of the things. 

Somebody else was telling me, you know, my friends and my family, they know I'm successful, but they don't really understand it. They don't really have an idea of some of the really cool stuff that I've done. 

Another client talks about how it starts to feel awkward. Even if she goes into a situation feeling open and excited, and she's describing what she does with certain people, and she's talking about family members, it starts to feel awkward. And she starts to feel a little judged, and so she tones it down. She said, you know, I want to share it, but sometimes it's too much work. What I really want is someone to be happy with me. Right? To support me in my win.

Society doesn't always love a happy, successful woman taking up space with her success. And a lot of us were socialized from childhood to be small. Not to share our wins. Not to take up too much space, not to be a tall poppy. Right?

Big success can feel lonely, and sometimes high achievers feel like they have to act smaller and be smaller or even minimize their wins to themselves. I hear this all the time. People who start to talk about what they've accomplished, and then they say, but, you know, really wasn't that big a deal. Or, you know, it was going to happen anyway.

This is a dilemma and it has very real consequences, very broad reaching consequences. Today, we're talking about overeating. The clients that I mentioned, discovered as we work together, that part of the way they dealt with this situation is that they had developed tendencies to quietly reward themselves with food instead of being open and excited and really sharing their joy and their success.

So they were treating themselves with a treat. A food treat. Right? And often it was a secret treat that they ate in their car before they went into the house. Or they ate after people had gone to bed at night and they were alone in the kitchen. They were settling for comfort food and reward food instead of really embracing and feeling with full permission the joy and the energy of their incredible accomplishments. 

And we all know about the boomerang. Right? Because you treat yourself, you give yourself a reward by doing the thing that you're actually trying to change. Right? You're trying to change your overeating. You're trying to change your relationship with food. You treat yourself with the food and does it feel satisfying? Not in the long run. 

And not only does it not feel satisfying, and I'm speaking for these particular women that I shared, you know, whose stories, examples that I shared. They not only felt dissatisfied, but in the end, they both felt frustrated about the way they had eaten. They, they woke up the next morning, not feeling great. Things were so good and they were so excited. And then the whole situation ended up with them feeling tired of fighting with food. And fighting with the scale. And here we go again. It's one more cycle and the win and the joy, the celebration, those things got lost.

So this is important, finding ways to honor your feelings, to own and honor your accomplishments is critical. They're a part of you. And squashing them down and hiding is such a powerful recipe for overeating. And if it's not overeating, it's going to be some other unhelpful way of coping with feelings.

This is a huge piece of the puzzle. It is something that we actually come back to over and over again in the coaching calls in the Missing Peace Program. And I want to tell you something, if this is hard for you, you are not alone. Because the reason we come back to this over and over in the coaching calls is it is really hard for so many of us to do. 

It is really hard to honor our feelings. To sometimes even forget about honoring your wins. Sometimes it's really hard to see them. To see your accomplishments. To see the big things that you're doing. We are so used to minimizing these things that you might even be doing it automatically or on autopilot without really consciously realizing that you're doing it.

And think about that for a minute. Here you are working really hard at whatever this thing is that you are creating success at. Right? And I'm talking about professional success today, but it may be success in another area of your life. It might be creative success. It might be success with your family or, or something else that you're doing.

But when you have squashed down your space and capacity and permission to feel the joy. To feel the accomplishments, to feel the, you know, the thing that you are really trying to do and to, to feel what it feels like you are cheating yourself out of enjoying what you are working so hard to create. And it happens all the time.

The last thing that I want to talk about today in terms of success and professional success and overeating is a bind that I hear from a lot of people who are on the outside accomplishing great things. On the outside really successful. And, you know, maybe be maybe feeling those things internally as well. But this idea that, well, this isn't a real problem or what do I have to complain about?

Or this is so small compared to everything else. I should be able to figure this out. Right? I hear this one a lot from high achieving clients when you are successful, it is easy to feel like you shouldn't be dissatisfied. Or you shouldn't be having a hard time. Or whatever it is that you're having a hard time with and, oh my, it's overeating. It is so small in comparison to the other problems that other people have, and you've got all of this success. So you really don't have a right to complain or a right to struggle.

Remember how I said that this whole concept of life balance, as it's defined, sometimes can feel like this very stressful thing about, you know, walking on this very narrow, tight rope? Well, success can feel that way too. Right? So just like you might worry that your accomplishments might overwhelm people. It is also easy to get wrapped up in the stories that you don't have the right to be unhappy or struggling. Right? 

So you can't be too successful. And if you are successful, then of course you, you can't complain. You can't have unhappiness or dissatisfaction. There's so much socialization around this. 

You can be successful and you also get to feel tired or overwhelmed or scared.

The truth is that high levels of responsibility can be stressful. They can be anxiety producing. They require a lot of risk taking. They can be exhausting. What you do every day requires effort. A lot of effort. And food is an easy thing to turn to when you are busy or stressed or short on time and not feeling like you can ask for support.

Emotional eating is a major cause of overeating and of weight gain, especially for high achieving women. Especially for high achieving women who judge their problems and their emotions negatively. Right? And who sometimes feel like they don't deserve to have them. 

I'm going to say that again. Emotional eating is a major cause of overeating especially for high achieving women who judge their problems, who judge their feelings, who are telling themselves that they shouldn't feel this way. They shouldn't struggle with this. They shouldn't be complaining. 

Whether you call it balance or whether you think of it in some other framework, you can be happy with your eating and you can be as happy with your eating as you are with your success in your profession, in your career. You need to start by honoring you.

And being honest and respectful about who you are. What your needs are. What you are feeling. Find a community that encourages you embraces your right to take up space and to share your awesomeness. To share your wins. They do exist. 

Start paying attention to the words that you use, to the words that you use when you talk to yourself and pay special attention to the ways you minimize yourself. Or the ways that you minimize your accomplishments or the way that you minimize or push off your needs and your own self care.

This may sound corny, but sometimes we actually need to practice feeling proud of ourselves. We need to collect the wins and notice the good things. But practice feeling pride. Practice reminding ourselves that what we did was a big deal. Consciously practice. It might sound corny. It is so important. Learning how to give yourself what you really need and to approach your wellbeing with the same skills and mindset that you approach your professional life with is something that can be really empowering.

It's something that we actually play with inside Your Missing Peace. And by play with, I mean, you know, I, we encourage members to try it on and try out different things and see what way of doing this feels good for you. Just like talking about life balance can sometimes feel stressful. Or like you're setting yourself up to walk on a tightrope and, and you may need to find a way to do it. Figuring out how to use your own CEO skills in a ways that in a way that feels empowering in your personal life is also individual.

And it's also often not intuitive. So it's something that we play with inside Your Missing Peace, which is my six month program for taking your power back from overeating. And when we do that, women are so often amazed to discover how powerful they can feel in some areas of their life while not owning their power in their relationship with food.

And conversely, they often realize how by not owning their power in their relationship with food, they've started to feel less powerful in other areas of their lives. It's not always easy. But with the right tools and with the right help and something that has come up a lot in this episode is allowing yourself the support and the connection.

When you do these things, it is definitely possible to learn how to avoid these overeating traps. And instead of overeating, give yourself what you really need. And when you do that, not only does that shift your relationship with food and your relationship with overeating or what are your choices and your decisions about whether you overeat or whether you emotionally eat, but it also allows you to experience your own success and your own accomplishments in a much deeper, much more satisfying way.

I hope this was helpful to you. 

I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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