Ep 223 Conversation with Dr. Stacy Heimburger Smalley: Weight Loss for High Achieving Women
Today I have the privilege of sharing a recent conversation I had with Dr. Stacy Heimburger Smalley, an Internal Medicine doctor and Certified life and weight loss coach. Stacy helps high achieving busy women find the time they need to focus on their health goals without sacrificing any of their high performing rolls. Weight loss is about so much more than the number on the scale and the information Dr. Smalley shared is a refreshing take on how to do it in a way that brings lasting change to your life.
In This Episode:
- Physicians perspective and training around weight loss
- Benefits of no sugar
- The importance of planning
- Determining your self worth
- People pleasing
- Setting boundaries
- Women being “volun-told” what to do in the work place
- Connect with Stacy – IG: @sugar_freemd FB: Sugarfree MD
Episode Transcript: Transcribed by OtterAI with minimal edits.
You are listening to the richer time podcast and I’m your host certified life coach Michelle Arnold Bourque. In today’s episode, I’m sharing your recent conversation with Dr. Stacy Heimburger Smalley as we discussed weight loss for high achieving women. Welcome to the It’s Your Time podcast the podcast where busy professionals like you get the practical solutions and support you need to gain control of your schedule so you can strive to be the best in your career, but without the stress and overwhelm. If you’re looking to increase your energy and decrease your stress, you are in the right place.
Michelle Bourque 0:43 Hello, hello. Hello. Welcome back to the podcast friends. Listen, I mentioned earlier in the year that I wanted to bring more strong female voices to you and today, I have the privilege of sharing a recent conversation that I had with Dr. Stacy Heimburger Smalley, Stacy is an internal medicine doctor as well as a certified life and weight loss coach for high achieving women. And she helps busy women find time that they need to focus on their health goals without sacrificing any of their high performing roles. We talked about how important planning is we discuss some of the scientific benefits of weight loss. And her interesting perspective as a doctor and about doctors around weight loss. And I think some of the most important information is her take on self worth setting boundaries, people pleasing, it’s not just about the numbers. In fact, we were talking before the recording, and I love what she had to say around people pleasing. And she was normalizing the idea that women, right, a lot of us tend to people please and make sense because we’re often rewarded for being good and helpful. But what she sees, especially for women in male dominated fields like you listening, is that women are voluntold. To do work for free. This, to me was fascinating. She went on to say it might get dressed up as an opportunity for advancement or putting in the time kind of thing. But what it really is, is that we’re being asked to do more than our male counterparts for free. And I don’t think I ever heard that voluntold. And I love it, I’m going to totally pay more attention to it, because I do think that it is spot on. This is where it is so important to be authentically, you get used to saying no. For things that you do not want to do that will not be beneficial for you. Follow your gut. Do you want to do what they are asking of you? If you do, then ask what are you willing to give up in order to do it? Our time is limited and very precious than every time that you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. And when I was talking to Dr. Stacy Heimburger Smalley, we were saying that you just have to stop saying no to ourselves, our goals, our health, for these tasks that we probably don’t even want to do. And then she went on to say that people may be disappointed, especially if they’re used to you saying yes, but guess what? They will find someone else. So just be the one to say no. First, if it’s not something you want to do. Weight loss is so much more than the number. It’s all of the work that she’s talking about around people pleasing and planning and setting boundaries and really implementing self care routines that benefit you and work in a way for your life. So without further ado, listen to all of the other goodness that she had to share.
Okay, thank you so much for being here. I am so excited to share all the information that you have. Before we get started. Can you just introduce yourself to everyone, maybe tell them who you help and all of the goodness that you see fit to share?
Yes, thank you so much for having me. My name is Dr. Stacy Heimburger Smalley. I coach under sugar free MD That’s my business name. I’m actually a board certified in internal medicine. My clinical work, which I still do full time technically, is mostly inpatient. So I always tell people, they don’t really want me to be their doctor because that means that they’re sick. So that’s not what they want. They didn’t want me to be their coach, just another doctor. I came to life coaching after having my second son. I’m having my children a little bit late 41 and 43. And now his first birthday, I was just so unhappy with my weight, I was so tired. And then I just had so many negative feelings about like, I wasn’t being a good mom and I wasn’t being a good friend, and I wasn’t being a good wife. And you know, I wasn’t doing anything, right, because I just felt so tired all the time. So I realized through coaching, that I could not only change my thoughts, but I could also decide like what I thought a good mom and a good wife and a good doctor, and all of those things like that power was for me to decide what that meant. And it really just changed everything for me. So I went ahead and got certified as a life coach. And then I got my advanced certification in weight loss coaching, so that I could help other busy professional women who were sort of suffering with all of those same things about their weight, and just about being perfect. And so I try and focus on our ability to plan. I think high achieving women are so good at planning. And we think that’s just for work. And we sort of miss out on the idea that if we use that, especially food planning, or exercise planning with goal planning, we can be so much more successful than we give ourselves.
Michelle Bourque 6:22 Yeah, I think it’s so important. You’re right. Like, I think in general, we just don’t give ourselves credit for so many things. Absolutely. And you had touched on something when you introduce yourself, as you know, the doctor clinical part of it, and how people don’t want you to be their doctor, can you touch a little bit on maybe the science benefits, because I think we’re both on the same page as far as like, we want to love our bodies, right? And it’s not like we’re losing weight from the shame in the negative thinking. But can you maybe just touch on the science health benefits of that?
Sure. Um, when I first started going down this road and trying to learn like how, first I had all these thoughts, like I’m a doctor, how can I not figure out weight loss, but we’re really not taught those things going through medical school, nutrition is not part of it at all. So I started looking at Lifestyle Medicine, which is using food as fuel. And I even did a little bit of anti aging medicine. And the same theme just kept coming up about really how bad sugar is for our bodies, especially as aging women, it really seems to attack us a little bit harder. So I work with my clients to try and dump sugar, as much as possible. I know that freaks some people out like sugar, but we just really cut back. And so not only do we see some weight loss from that, but there’s decreased bloating, decreased inflammation, we’re sleeping better. We don’t have brain fog, my client, just my newest client just said it’s only been four days. And I feel like my brain is so much more alert like word loud, or her brain was just slowed down on sugar every day. So I found the most interesting thing about sugar. And as far as health benefits is, when I started thinking about am I hungry or not hungry, which is really the basic idea of trying to lose some weight. I didn’t know my hunger scale had been so knocked out of whack by sugar, it was almost impossible to get started. And so for me giving up sugar in the beginning. And I really just committed to 90 days I was like let me just try 90 days and see what happens. I realized I could tell start to tell what was a sugar craving and what was hunger? Because it was really felt the same to me when I was eating sugar.
Michelle Bourque 8:48 Oh, interesting. And I think to to your point, a lot of women probably don’t even stop to ask themselves that I think when you talk about the importance of planning, and also really being the one to decide, are you a good mom, are you a good friend? Like it kind of comes back to being authentic to yourself, but I think we’re so quick to take care of everybody else that we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity to ask such a simple question like am I hungry? Unknown Speaker 9:16 It’s It’s crazy, right? I’m but that happens. Because we wake up or like we you know, our kids wake us up first thing in the morning and it sort of you start the race? What does everyone else need? And I think some of that is a little programmed like societally program like be a good little girl, right? And so in this strive to be good. We are letting other people decide what that means for us. And so we can really get lost in this people pleasing shuffle, and not even ask ourselves like what do I want? Like what do I want to eat? We’re like making food Food for these kids, or husbands or someone it’s not even food me like are we get sucked into diet trauma and like diet thinking like, oh, I can only eat this. And it’s not even food like, Michelle Bourque 10:13 Oh, yes. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I think that is I see that more and more like the idea of diet trauma, like how you see that playing out what you see maybe with your clients, because I do think that is really fascinating. And people probably don’t even realize how it affects them.
Sure. This is, I think, become a bigger topic lately. But it’s so interesting how our brain works. If you’ve been on diets before, when you initially think of them, you’ll be like, Oh, it worked, it was so great. But your brain does not always remember it that way, especially if it was really severe. So if it was one of these like hard 75, or even hold 30 can be a drastic change, or restriction. Your brain is really traumatized by that because it thought it was starving. Or you felt so restricted that it just really felt like something was wrong, our brain doesn’t like change anyway. So those dramatic things really freak it out. And so the next time, even if we want to take gentle steps or talk nicely to ourselves or whatever, it the way we decide to lose weight for the last time is, we really have to be careful, because any recollection or anything that looks too similar to our brain is going to freak it out. And so that’s where we talk about diet trauma, and some of this, this is the only way that will work. And maybe we’ve done it and even had success, but then our brain does not remember it as a pleasurable experience. And so it’s not really on board to do it again.
Yeah, it’s Michelle Bourque 11:54 so fascinating, the hard time,
they’re like, I just feel great. And then I only fell off for a minute. And now it’s so hard to get back on. That’s why your brain like hated what you were doing, and is not in a hurry to repeat that again.
And I Michelle Bourque 12:08 think so many of us do that. It’s almost like this worthiness or moral standard that we tie to what we’re eating, like I did so great. But then, like what we tell ourselves over and over that just is like, what are we doing?
Right? Like, I’m a good girl, because I didn’t eat breakfast, and I ate two salads. Yay. For me. Meanwhile, your brain is like, please stop doing what you’re doing.
Michelle Bourque 12:35 Absolutely. And I think that goes kind of like to the idea of the relationship that we have with food. And I recently had someone say to me, like I’m really working on changing the relationship that I have with food. Like, can you speak a little bit to that maybe what you see with your clients, the relationships we have with food and with ourselves in relationship to food?
Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s interesting, because I’ve really seen that play out with my boys a little bit. We, we, I think as someone who has struggled with weight, I always have this idea like, well, maybe I got some of it from my family. And like we want to blame it on on our genetics a little bit. And there, I do think there’s a genetic component. And the example that I’m seeing, I have a six year old and a four year old little boy, my six year old, is hungry all the time. Yeah, he’s big for his like his dad, six, four, he’s, uh, he’s already over four feet tall. He’s only six, right? He’s a big kid. So yeah, he’s hungry. But he has some scarcity mentality, meaning he’s always looking at every, like his brother’s plate in particular, like, Does my brother have more than me. And so it’s interesting that that’s already in there. And the other thing that helped do is help hide snacks for me. So he’ll try and like sneak out of the kitchen, and won’t tell me how many snacks he has. And I really try and keep healthy snacks for him because I know he’s gonna eat a lot. And so I’m really working with him on that, like, you’re allowed to tell me what you’re eating. Food does not need to be hidden. It’s okay, if you’re hungry, we just eat healthy things. So I’m really bummed that he hasn’t heard any of that. So that’s just in there. Meanwhile, the flip side, my four year old could care less about food. Like he will not eat if he’s not hungry. He prefers fruit over anything else. What we have to work on with him or be careful of is not getting into the clean plate club with him. Right? Not the Just one bite more and then you can leave the table because what that does is it really destroys your relationship with your hunger scale. And so that’s the other relationship I see that happens especially women around our age, like we were clean plate covers, we were really rewarded for eat Going past our Full point 100%. Yeah, and so it can really just get it in your brain. And so I think it’s important just to think about that some of this is already there. And we need to work on some of these relationships. We were taught some things or some things were patterned. My mom was a big one, like, we always have dessert after dinner. That’s not a fact, that’s not a universal rule. You don’t have to always have dessert after dinner. You don’t have to be part of the clean plate club. So I really work with my clients just trying to get back to like, let’s work on how we feel about food. What is our body? How is our body taking that in what foods work for us? When are we hungry when we fall? Which is so innate, like it should be there. But we’ve just been sort of patterned or coerced, or people pleased out of it. So 100% get back to that.
Michelle Bourque 15:59 Yeah, I do. I remember. Like, I remember my brother having to sit at the table until he finished his plate. And we were like, well, you just finished your stuffing for God’s sake. Right, like, right. Or the other idea I think I hear a lot is you don’t want to waste the food. Right? So we don’t want to throw it out. But we don’t think about how we waste it on our bodies. What does Korean say? Like wasted in the trash or wasted on your ass?
16:21 Right? Exactly. Right? We are not a human garbage disposal. Like we shouldn’t be eating the kids leftovers. We should like just throw it out the refrigerator and let’s therefore we can then throw it out or put it in the freezer, whatever makes you feel good. But at the time, like we really should not be the track.
Michelle Bourque 16:43 Yes, I think this is such an important message. And you talk about like our age and being part of the clean plate club. And I want younger women to hear this sooner, because I feel like it’s just been probably since coaching that I actually started paying attention to like, Wait, do I really like the taste of that? Like, am I even hungry? Or like, I totally notice if it gets to be for us, like end of quarter and it gets to be maybe a little bit more stressful? And I’m like, Okay, let me just grab like a granola bar or something. I’m like, Wait, am I even hungry? Or am I just doing this? Because I’m feeling stressed about it?
17:15 Yeah, well, food really does make us feel better, right? So there’s sort of the medical science part of it. When we eat, we do get a dopamine release. So lots of times we’ll be feeling uncomfortable or stressed, or sad or happy, like all the feel, or instead of just being used to feeling those which we’re not, like lots of times we a lot of our emotions are not okay, or we’re told just suck it up, or whatever it is. So instead of embracing and feeling that it’s such a foreign concept, again, our brain is like, Oh, I don’t know that feels wrong, we should eat because eating just turns it off. It doesn’t fix anything. Right? Eating doesn’t fix the problem. But eating will make your brain feel better, because you’ve zoned out on whatever discomfort you were feeling.
Michelle Bourque 18:12 Yeah, and I think also when you talk about, you know, when we have to stop people pleasing, and maybe taking care of ourselves in planning, that is discomfort too, right? Like if if we have not in the past set boundaries, and we always are people pleasing. I think that kind of also contributes to like the crazy schedules like you as doctors and as us as reps like often have where we say like, I don’t have time to be thinking about this. I love planning my food. And people are like, how do you have time? I’m like, No, it saves time. Actually, can you speak maybe a little bit to that?
18:46 Yeah, again, I think planning is our superpower. Like, high achieving women hear this like that is your superpower. And it seems, again, our brain wants to make it seem so daunting. Like it’s going to take hours. Really, I planned dinners for the week for my family in less than 20 minutes. Like I set up a good base of like, these are good sugar free meals with the family likes, I went over it with my husband we came up with like 30 meals and then it’s just plug and play. And so by setting it up that way, it’s so easy, and it’s okay to be boring. I think that’s the other thing we’re taught like food should be so exciting. And like June Cleaver, we should come home and like make this elaborate dinner where the truth of the matter is, it can be boring. Like, I live in Louisiana, we have red beans, every single Monday. We do Taco Tuesday, every single Tuesday. We have leftovers Wednesday or Thursday. We’re very we’re very lucky. We have a country club and on Wednesdays, they have babysitters there so the kids all play and have their own food. So my husband and I can have a date night so we do that twice a month. And so really when you think about it, we’re now I only have Friday, Saturday and Sunday. except really plan meals. So if you can set up a plug and play, if you’ve got some easy recipes, so there’s going to be maybe an hour of work on the front end, but then you can literally do it in 20 minutes, then your shopping list is easier, right? So if you order your groceries, which everyone listening should order their grocery Instacart Instacart. It’s on your recently ordered or just repeat order, because you’re just doing the same thing over and over. And I really think of it as self care for me. Because when the day turns to crap, which sometimes it does, so chaos, a case runs late, you guys are in cases like your schedule you they add on a patient, whatever happens. It’s already done. Like you already know what’s happening. Your family is on board. So it’s nothing to say like, Hey, significant other, I’m stuck. It’s tacos tonight, can you go ahead and start it instead of now I’m so stressed. All I want is comfort food. And I’m picking up takeout and over eating it mindlessly. So it’s like this nice little nugget of something you’ve done for yourself when you’re calm, so that when it’s crazy, it’s there waiting for you.
Michelle Bourque 21:17 I could not agree more. And I think your point to the self care. I think oftentimes when I talk to people about self care initially, they think it’s like bubble baths and massages. And I’m like, No, it’s a very simple like, start with planning your food to take care of yourself. And I find I’d love to know your thoughts that when we just because we do something similar, like it’s pretty much the same thing over and over. Mark may or may not love it, but I love it. Because it’s not that conversation of what do you want for dinner? I don’t know, what do you want? I don’t know, what do you want, like the brain power? Once it’s done, you can use that on so many other things in your life.
21:51 Absolutely. And I you know, our mentor is the same. And so I try and plan my week as much as I can with that as well. And so it’s sort of just opening your brain by not having a running to do list or what’s for dinner in the back of your mind all day. Because you’ve planned it, you have so much more capacity for so much more. And I know especially when I was struggling, I was thinking about food way too much. Like, not only am I hungry, am I not hungry? But like, Oh, that looks good. Well, someone notice if I take that off the table, will someone notice if like if someone were to bring something to a meeting, like are they gonna think I’m fat? If I have a second one, you know, so much drama, and it’s just all gone when you plan.
Michelle Bourque 22:42 And then the drama, I think on top of that, that we layer when we maybe do have it and then beat ourselves up for having it and then that just ruins that relationship we have with ourselves. Oh, yeah.
22:51 Oh, it’s planning a self care is so underrated.
Michelle Bourque 22:57 I think there’s too like quotables like planning and self care is still underrated and high achieving women planning is your superpower.
23:04 It really is. It really is.
Michelle Bourque 23:06 It’s so true. Speaking of high achieving women, okay, so I think people maybe have tried in the past, and they’ve had the kind of diet industry mentality. Or it’s this perfectionistic thinking where it’s like all or nothing like the June Cleaver or you know, nothing. What would you suggest? Or what do you tell your clients just to set maybe a small, achievable goal to make it a lifestyle? And we’re not talking diet here, right? We’re talking lifestyle changes.
23:34 Yeah. So what I usually tell my clients, like, start with just something obvious sugar and see if we can have less. Now what I see people do is, they really don’t want to acknowledge the starting point. Because then a lot of negative self talk comes up, right? So you get on the scale, oh my God, how did he get this? How did I do this? Or you just write down what you’re eating. And so you can see how much sugar is in there. And then it’s sort of you tell yourself all these terrible things, like, that’s disgusting, you’re eating that, whatever it is. So we have to drop all that, like the start is just the start, you know, we like to be scientists, like that’s our starting measurement. And then we don’t need to get to like the end on day one. Right? So I don’t need to be like vegan fasting, whatever, like jumping out of the gate when I’ve been eating fast food three days a week, like it’s just like 1% small little things. Not only does it help set a pattern of achievement, which is very useful. Our brain doesn’t freak out from diet trauma, because we’re just taking these baby steps. And I really encourage everyone to think like, Is this something I want to do? And can I do it forever? And then make that small change? Right? You still want to be vegan like, like fine So let’s work our way there. But we don’t have to do that to lose weight or to be good or whatever. So let’s make sure you want the goal. And then what’s the change, small change on your road to get there, like a little ladder? And we don’t need to be like at the finish line on day one.
Michelle Bourque 25:18 Yeah, I think that’s so important for high achieving women. Because, you know, Darren Hardy talks about the 1% change in the compound effect. And I think oftentimes, we think we have to, like, get to the goal, get to the goal, and not give ourselves the credit, which I like what you said about how our brain wants to see that, right. That is an achievement when we accomplish the 1%, and then the 1%, and then the 1%. We’re just building that within ourselves.
25:40 Yeah, you just gotta watch that. It’s gonna try and trick you like, Oh, that’s not enough. Yes, yes, it is enough, what is enough, it does make such a difference. And it, you’re so much more likely to stick to it, as long as you give yourself credit for it. Now, if you do 1%, you’re like, that’s not enough. You suck. Like, you’re not gonna stick with it. But if you recognize, wow, that’s a really great thing. I leveled up 1%. Today, you can stick with it and sort of set that pattern of recognizing achievement, which is a meta skill that is priceless.
Michelle Bourque 26:13 100%. And as you were saying that I was just thinking like, what would we say to our either our younger versions, or if we have kids to our kids, like, you would encourage them along the way, you wouldn’t be like, Oh, you suck, that wasn’t enough of a change, right? Like how we talk to ourselves is just crazy. Sometimes,
26:29 it really is, right? Because if your kids like, I’m not going to have the cake, I’m going to have the apple you’d be doing like, you’d be cheerleading that all day long. When we do it. We’re like, oh, one apples not gonna make a difference. Is it like, that is gonna make a difference?
Michelle Bourque 26:47 Yes. And one other thing you said the way we talk to ourselves. So now I’m just thinking like on the back end, and let’s say we set a goal to lose 10 pounds, because I see sometimes now I’ve lost eight pounds. And I think the story in our head is often about the two pounds that we didn’t lose. Can you maybe share some, I guess, tips or information that you might share with clients as far as cheering yourself, not only for the 1% change, but along the way of what you are actually accomplishing?
27:15 Yeah, so with my clients, I really encourage them every day to sort of reflect and like, what was a win today? Like, how am I proud of myself? What did I do good? What was my level up? What was my 1%? And so just making, being mindful of that, and keeping track of that, and then I do that for that on our calls, too. Because it’s sometimes it’s easier for other people to see. Like, that was a good thing. And I always catch them when they’re discounting the 1%. Like, oh, I went for a walk today, but it was only 15 minutes. Right? Like, not enough and that totally is about
Michelle Bourque 27:54 Yes. I think that’s that’s such a great tip too. At the end of each day, just make sure you have you’re like what am I proud of? What can I celebrate to rewire
28:02 your brain? Absolutely. Absolutely.
Michelle Bourque 28:05 And I believe you have something for the listeners if they want to get interested or get started and maybe planning dinners.
28:12 Yeah, I have developed a quick and easy sugar free dinner guide. So when you’re setting that master plan for yourself like I’ve already started you off with about 30 meals and so it’s really easy to get that is on my website is www dot sugarfreemd.com/dinner.
Michelle Bourque 28:34 Perfect. And we’ll have the link in the show notes as well. Have we missed anything? This has been so helpful.
28:40 I don’t think so. I there was so much fun. Thank you so much for having me on. What a great talk this morning. Michelle Bourque 28:47 Absolutely. And where can people find you if you’re on the socials?
28:51 Yeah, so on Instagram, I’m sugar underscore free MD and on Facebook sugarfreeMD.
Michelle Bourque 28:58 Excellent. We will have that in the notes as well. Thank you so much.
29:02 Thank you so much, Michelle. It’s been such a such a lovely morning. I would only get up for you and I’m so glad I did.
Michelle Bourque 29:08 Because it is early. It is wasn’t that great. high achieving women planning is your superpower. I love that quote. Okay, be sure to check her out Stacy’s program is not a diet. It is not the what you need to do. It’s the Why are you doing it and all of the knowledge that you need surrounding your brain and the science and how you can have lasting change as you learn new ways. So again, you can follow her at Sugar underscore free MD on Instagram and the free guide that she mentioned. You can grab that at WWW.sugarfreemd.com/dinner and all of the links are in the notes. Okay, friends, that’s what I have for you today. As always Tell us what works. Leave what doesn’t and tune in next week for another opportunity to transform your life. Make it a great day. Take care Michelle Bourque 30:13 Did you know you can take this work to a deeper level with me one on one, go to Michellebourquecoaching.com and click on get started to begin