If you’re a high-achieving woman, you most likely learned to achieve goals by shaming yourself when you did things wrong.
It may have worked in the past, but it’s stopped being effective with food and body. You feel tired, burnt out, and totally spent. Which causes you to shame yourself even more.
It may not be obvious that shaming yourself is the cause of your lack of progress. It will present as if you’re the problem, you don’t know the right things to eat, you don’t have enough time, etc.
But what shaming yourself ultimately creates? A total lack of tolerance for your humanness. You will not allow yourself to make mistakes, judge yourself when you do it wrong, and neglect to meet your own needs.
In this episode, I’m sharing how to know if you’re stuck in a shame cycle with food, and what you’ll need to focus on to move out of it.
Because, to create permanent changes with food and body, you will need to learn how to meet your own needs as a human. This requires us to give up blaming and shaming our way to success.
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Hello my friends. Welcome back to the podcast this week. So today we’re going to talk about a super fun light topic. Are you ready? We’re going to talk all about shame. And I know this sounds like a heavy topic, but I really want to normalize us talking about how shame can come up for us when we’re looking to achieve goals with food and body. And it’s no secret that most of the women I work with in my practice tend to be go-getters.
They tend to be the high achievers, very type A like myself. And what tends to happen without us having awareness of it is we subtly tend to shame ourselves into the results we want when we’re on this journey towards healthier eating and losing weight. And I really want to make you aware of how you may be doing this now and how you can gracefully move yourself out of these patterns.
So we’re going to do a broad overview here today, but really what I tend to see in terms of high achieving women is we tend to learn how to achieve by shaming ourselves when we do things wrong or when we make mistakes or when we fail. And for a lot of us, this tends to go back to how we were raised. I don’t want you to spend too much time here, but maybe it will be obvious to you that you were taught to achieve and move towards success based on failures being unacceptable or setbacks being wrong.
So I know for me, I very much was raised under the messaging that I needed to do my best. I needed to perform highly when it came to school, when it came to jobs, when it came to everything. And if I had any type of setback or failure, I was shamed for it.
I was punished for it. It was not something that was seen as acceptable growing up for me. So that really meant for me personally. I developed this belief system that failures were shameful, that setbacks meant something was wrong with me. So this developed into a mentality where I was very ambitious and I performed very highly, which had its benefits of course, but it also developed this intolerance for failure, which meant whenever I tried personally to eat healthier or lose weight, it was from this pressure that I needed to do it right or I would shame myself if I did it wrong.
And what happened is this manner of high achieving would work for some time with healthy eating. So for me it was around two weeks to a month and then it stopped being sustainable. I would just drop the ball. I would end up overeating and just quote unquote falling off track with any food plan or diet I was on.
And I talk about this a lot on the podcast, but how you learn to eat healthier and lose weight is what will be necessary to maintain it. And if you are attempting to eat healthy and lose weight from this harsh energy where you’re looking to perform and do it right, you’re going to burn yourself out and eventually you’re going to find that it’s no longer effective for long-term healthy eating and weight loss.
And this was my experience as well, this is where many of my clients come to me in is they feel tired and burnt out and totally spent. And so much of that is because of the relationship they have to not just making changes with food and body, but making changes in any area of their lives. And so really we have to understand our shame. We have to understand how we subtly may be shaming ourselves without even realizing it and how that can really feel like a ball and chain on the way to the changes with food and body that we want.
And the really fun part comes in is when we ultimately fail because we shame ourselves and we burn out and it no longer feels sustainable, we end up shaming ourselves even more for it. So we find ourselves in this shame cycle. So this may be obvious to you now, it may not be so obvious, but I want you to really open up your mind to how shaming yourself could be present right now for you. And once again, we’re not going to look at this as a sad story that we have.
I really want us to normalize this because this is completely normal for us to do as women, especially living in today’s society with all of the messaging and conditioning that we have. And I want to offer, if you are not sure if shaming is happening in your mindset on the way to healthy eating and weight loss, how it will most simply present is if you see yourself as the problem, if you see yourself to blame as why you do not have the results with food and body that you want.
So you just don’t have enough knowledge, you just don’t have enough willpower, you are just not committed enough, you just don’t want it bad enough. Think about your reasons that you believe you don’t have the results with your body that you want or why you don’t eat healthy as consistently as you want. If your knee jerk mental reaction is to blame yourself and single yourself out as the reason for why you have those results, there’s likely a shaming relationship happening here.
And to be perfectly honest, I’ve rarely seen a woman come into my practice that I have supported who doesn’t have this mindset. I have had this mindset and what happens is we’re taught to shame and blame ourselves in terms of achievements and progress. And then the diet industry in terms of how it’s set up for us to fail really makes us more susceptible into falling into this shame cycle.
So I want to talk about the concept of what a shame cycle can look like. And there is one common example I see of a shame cycle, and I’m going to put it very simply and broadly here. But I want you to think about individually how this may apply to you because it’s going to be different for every human. But this is generally what I see women come to me with when they’re in a shame cycle with food. And this is how it tends to come up.
So where this tends to start is when we as women have a lack of tolerance for ourselves being human. And what I mean by that is we tend to have a lack of tolerance for ourselves, making mistakes, having failures, needing to meet our basic needs, having a limited energetic capacity, needing downtime, any human qualities that we have as women.
I tend to see with high achieving women that we have a very low tolerance for seeing ourselves in this way where we are flawed, we need to be nurtured, we have needs and we make mistakes. So this is where I see it all start, and the general belief that I see collectively women most having is I’m not doing enough or I’m not good enough or I’m not enough In general, and this is a very broad way of looking at this thought process, but think about how this inadequacy may be showing up for you.
Where do you feel like you are not enough? What thoughts are you having day-to-day about enoughness? I have a whole podcast episode on the concept of enoughness, so feel free to go back and listen. But I tend to see as women, we have a complete lack of tolerance for our own humanness.
And it comes from this belief that we are not enough. And so what happens is when our humanness presents itself, when we make a mistake, when we realize that we need to better meet our needs when we have a low energetic capacity and we’re struggling to perform emotionally, what tends to come up is shame, is guilt is this emotional reaction to us noticing where we aren’t performing as we quote unquote should.
And so this most commonly comes up for my clients when they notice that they are too tired to work out or they’d rather spend some time with themselves than spend time with their kids. Or when they notice that they didn’t eat what they put on a food plan, right? Notice how your initial emotional reaction to things like that might be guilt or shame towards yourself and that you are the problem. Rather than asking yourself, what do I need right now?
What is my body telling me? What am I missing in terms of caring for myself? Our brains almost immediately go to making ourselves the problem and making ourselves wrong. Okay? So guilt and shame will present itself. Then what tends to happen is overeating occurs from this feeling of guilt and shame because guilt and shame feels very uncomfortable. I find that it is an emotion that most of us are intolerant to, that we have not built up the muscle to experience this emotion, which is what coaching really helps with.
But think about this guilt and shame and how it feels in your body. And then if you’re really willing to sit with that day-to-day in your life, because what happens when it becomes intolerable is we will overeat in order to numb that feeling a bit. And so this is when we finally have an opportunity to be alone and we tell ourselves that we should be doing more.
And so to numb that feeling will overeat when we’re by ourselves or we will come home from work and we’ll think about all the things that we didn’t get done in the day and we’ll feel the shame from that. And then we’ll overeat and eat all of our favorite foods in the pantry when we get home. Alright? But just think about how this shows up for you. And then what happens from there is more shame is piled on because of the overeating. So then we’ll judge ourselves for not eating what we put on a plan.
We will judge ourselves for unconsciously eating. And most commonly the thoughts I see are I can’t do it right, I’m wrong. Something is wrong with me. And then this shame will compel us to further think that we’re not enough and overeat as a result of those feelings. Alright, so I know I’m walking through this broadly here.
This is a high level overview of this, but where this starts is our thoughts of not being enough because we have a low tolerance for ourselves being an imperfect human, we feel the shame of that. We experience that emotional vibration and then that compels us to overeat throughout the course of our day to numb those feelings. And then because of those overeating patterns and maybe weight gain we’re experiencing because of that, we further shame ourselves and make ourselves wrong for that process.
Alright, so I know this is not cookie cutter, this isn’t gonna look the same for every single human, but if you find any awareness in terms of how this relates to you, I offer you to sit with that and observe that because that will be relevant to you. And talking about things like shame can feel a bit heavy. But notice if you’re willing to look at why you’re doing these things and how it makes sense, it can feel validating to you.
It can feel so much lighter for us to know. Of course I’m overeating when I’m by myself and when I have downtime because I’m feeling so guilty for that and I’m feeling like I should be doing more with my time. So this is one example, but picture how this could fit for you. Now, signs I see of someone being in a shame cycle and I wanna be so honest with y’all, I have done all of these. So in no way is this me sitting on my pedestal telling you that you’re doing this and I’m not doing that.
I have done all of these things. All right? So I’m speaking from personal experience as well, but this is also how these show up with my clients and these are the signs I see that someone is shaming themselves. So once again, this isn’t one size fits all, but picture how these could fit into your life.
One sign is you will expect others to give up their own needs to meet your own because you are so used to giving up your own needs to meet everyone else’s. So this is when we will not put ourselves first and then when everyone else puts their needs first, we resent them for it because in our mind that’s not how the world works. Another sign is when we depend on other people to give us permission to meet our needs.
So I see this with a lot of women in marriages or the moms, they will wait until someone gives them allowance or permission to get more sleep, to exercise, to take time for themselves. And if no one gives them permission, then they either don’t meet their needs or when they do, they feel really guilty for it and they shame themselves. Alright? So think about if this applies to you, this for sure applied to me in different contexts.
Another sign is if you don’t delegate tasks or ask for support. So as high achieving women, we’re much more comfortable doing it all than asking for help. This is something I see a lot with my clients when they work with me. It’s a really big step for them to ask for help because in their minds with their shaming cycle happening, they believe that they should be able to do it all and they have that low tolerance for their humanness. So you may find that it’s tough for you to delegate tasks or ask for support externally.
Another sign is you don’t set boundaries with other people. Or maybe you think it’s weird if people set boundaries with you. You feel like that a lot of the circumstances in your life are dependent on how other people act. And this can be a sign of a lack of boundaries we have.
And then the last sign, and it’s a really big one, is we will transfer emotional responsibility to other people. So we really base how we feel, whether we feel guilty or not guilty on how other people act. And this is related to other people giving us permission. We will not take responsibility for our own needs and our own emotional experiences. And this is a bit of a deeper concept. It’s one that really comes up in coaching.
Some of you may have an idea of what I mean by listening to this podcast, but these are the signs I most generally see. And really notice how the theme of all of it is having a lack of tolerance for our humanness, thinking we can do it all and not delegating or asking for help from other people. We wait for other people’s permission to put ourselves first.
Alright? So because of this belief system, and notice how this belief system presents in you, where you shame yourself or your humanness, we will shame ourselves and make ourselves wrong for putting ourselves first, for being human, for needing to have a softer hand with ourselves. Shaming might be the relationship you have with yourself now. And I like to talk about how we don’t stop parenting ourselves as we get older.
So when we were younger, we were parented by our parents. And then once we become adults, we don’t stop being parented. But now it’s happening within our own brain. And if we find that shame is happening here, it just means that we’re still parenting ourselves with a firm hand and in a way where we’re shaming ourselves to the results with food and body that we want. And why we end up feeling so burnt out and like we need a break is because we don’t give ourselves permission to take a break and meet our needs.
And we don’t validate ourselves for taking a rest and having things be easier. You can picture a lot of my women come to me telling me they feel like they haven’t had a break in years. And I know through coaching that this is because when they do have downtime or they do have times where they’re not accomplishing a task, they feel so guilty and shameful support. And so I’ll see you next week. This is not taking time for yourself, this is having time available to you and shaming yourself for how you’re spending it.
Now all of this is not about food explicitly, right? What this is about is that shaming yourself stops working when it comes to eating healthy and losing weight. Because to make permanent change with food and body, it requires you to meet your own needs as a human, all right? And I’m gonna say that again.
In order to eat healthy long-term and lose weight permanently, it requires you to meet your own needs as a flesh and blood human. This cannot happen if we are shaming ourselves and blaming ourselves. Alright? And I want you to think about when we shame and blame how that really is a form of neglect for our humanness. We are not coming in with the care and the intention that we will meet our needs better. And think about the shift in your relationship with this work, with eating healthy and losing weight.
If you shifted that relationship to one where it’s all about meeting your needs better, it’s all about figuring how you can make it easier on yourself, right? It changes everything. But you can think about the process you will need to go through in order to stop shaming and blaming yourselves to healthy eating and weight loss.
And I wanna highlight some of the main pillars my clients go through so you can see where your work will be. And keep in mind that with coaching, it’s a very supportive process and we take each client through this very individually. So this is a bit of advanced work, but I wanna give this to you here so you, you can start to think about what your personal pathway will look like. And the very first thing is simple, but it’s hard for us with the shaming and blaming mindset, and it’s to not depend on other people to meet our own needs.
So we’re not depending on other people to meet the needs, but we’re also not depending on people to give us permission to meet our needs. And the reason why this is hard for my clients, and it may be hard for you, is because of how you will need to feel in order to start doing this.
Because remember, you have a shaming and blaming relationship with meeting your needs. You likely have a low tolerance for your humanness, your setbacks, your mistakes, your needs. So putting yourself first might bring up guilt and shame for you. And what’s gonna happen is you’ll be tempted to think that this means you’re doing something wrong. The shift that you want to start seeing is this doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong, it just means you have a human brain that has been conditioned to believe that it is intolerable for you to have human needs as a woman.
All right? And I of course feel very strongly about this, but I want you to think about how this applies to you personally. The next thing that’ll be necessary is to learn what your needs are with food and your body and to practice meeting them. So what also happens is so many of us have no idea what our needs are.
The circumstances are gonna look different for every person, but I just want you to give yourself that permission to even determine what your needs are as a human. If you are the only one in this world who can be a parent to yourself, which is true by the way, then how would you practice caring for yourself? How would you be a steward of your human experience on this earth? And in the experience of you having a body think about that. How would you meet your needs or practice meeting them?
Now, this is so important. The last thing, and it may seem obvious that will need to happen, is you will need to start honoring your humanness, my friends. You will need to not only tolerate your humanness, but you will need to begin honoring your humanness. And this means the moments when you fail, when you make mistakes and you do things that you didn’t plan on doing or want to do.
And no matter where you’re starting from, this is possible, but it is a process. And the first step to getting there for you right now may be to just acknowledge that you are an imperfect human. There is is no possible world in which the perfect human exists that has an unlimited amount of energy that can do it all. And that never fails despite having all of the knowledge. Alright? So really to just acknowledge and maybe it’s a bit of a morning process that happens here.
I know that sounds a bit extreme, but truly I remember for me when I really came to terms with the fact that I will never ever be perfect. I will never have a food plan indefinitely that I always follow through with no matter how much knowledge I have. It kind of was this morning period where I realized that I was chasing something for so many years of my life that was never possible.
Where the healing work happens, it did for me, and it happens with my clients, is when you learn that your imperfect humanness is enough to create the results with food and body that you want. So my friends, I know I’m really taking you through it today, but what I want you to do is to first expect the guilt and the shame to come up based on the way you think about yourself. Now, this is perfectly normal.
I want you to expect the urges to overeat when those emotions are present because these will be present when you’re having a low tolerance for yourself as a human and your human needs. And then lastly, decide to not beat yourself up when you do overeat. And this does happen because this is a learning process. It is a process of awareness for you to figure out what makes you tick.
And I wanna offer that you do not need to spend your energy trying to micromanage the shame from coming up. It’s totally fine, it’s going to come up right now potentially for you, but that’s not your business. I say this to my clients. It is not your business to micromanage away the shame that you are having in your mindset because the shame you are having for your humanness is a healing process. And this is what happens in coaching. What happens is you don’t wanna try and positive away the shame.
I hope you have a great rest reacting to the shame as if it’s a problem. And this happens when we acknowledge the shame. We start honoring our experience of it and we learn to stop overeating in the presence of it because then the shame stops seeing itself as useful for you to succeed. Any shame you are experiencing as a high achieving woman is not a malicious part of your brain.
It is a part of your brain that sees itself as necessary for you to succeed and survive in this world. And in the past for us, it may have been necessary for us to get get by when we were young, but now it’s not necessary. And you can give yourself a softer hand. You can surrender to it being easier for you, and we can put down the shame and set it aside over time and it can heal. All right? But I hope this makes sense.
I want you to think about your relationship to the shame when it does come up for you. Think about the concept of that shame cycle and evaluate what that looks like. And as high achieving women, this is how a lot of us are wired until we understand it and question it. Now, because we’re talking about the concept of shame, I want to offer, if this is a pattern you notice coming up for you, I highly recommend signing up for coaching.
So the funny thing about shame too is a lot of us with this mindset have trouble asking for help. And we also will put a lot of pressure on us if we do ask for help, because then we think we need to show up perfectly. And I really wanna offer that it’s totally okay if you’re struggling right now, it’s valid. And if you do show up to coaching, my coaching specifically, you don’t have to do it perfectly. What you will learn how to do is have a higher tolerance for you not being perfect and how you don’t need to be perfect to eat healthy long-term and lose the weight.
So this is really the shift you can consider. This is where all of my clients start, and if this resonates with you, my program’s probably a perfect fit for you. So if you’re ready to apply, go to katrentas.com/coaching and we can get you started. Otherwise, I am so happy that you spent time with me here today, and I’ll see you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified life and health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.