Why do so many women who struggle with their relationship with food also struggle with setting healthy boundaries? If you identify as the helper type or a people pleaser…

If you say yes when you’d rather say no, or prefer to be agreeable rather than get what you want… then there very likely is a direct connection with your overeating, stress eating, and emotional eating patterns, AND your struggles to set healthy boundaries.

In today’s episode I’m sharing what I wish I figured out sooner around setting healthy boundaries, and one of the BIGGEST things holding you back from reaching your health and healing goals.

I really want you to feel that food doesn’t have control over you. Ready to find out how setting healthy boundaries helps this whole food and body freedom process? Let’s do this.

I dive into:

  • What boundaries are and how they will literally change your life for the better
  • Exploring 4 types of boundaries you need to have in place to thrive
  • The BIGGEST emotional shift that must happen if you want your new healthy boundaries to actually work.
  • Step-by-step what to do when you set the boundary, and then you feel icky-guilty-awful for doing it.


[00:01:45] Boundaries and creating them.

[00:03:36] Setting and holding boundaries.

[00:08:22] Material boundaries and self-worth.

[00:11:15] Emotional boundaries.

[00:13:55] Taking responsibility for emotions.

[00:18:39] Setting boundaries and guilt.

[00:21:25] Mom’s guilt and cultural values.

[00:26:48] Putting others’ oxygen masks first.

[00:30:08] The magic of boundaries.

Full Episode Transcript:

Hello. Hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Hello Body Freedom podcast. I am Audra and I’m so excited to be here with you. So, last week we, and I think that the episode went live on when did that episode go live? I think Friday it went live. We did an episode on how to stop getting in your own way.

This was yes, I think that it landed. I think it landed Friday and it’s episode seven. And it was pretty powerful because we were talking about this concept of the hula hoop, right? So you have a hula hoop around you and we have certain things that we can control and certain things that we can’t control, right?

This is what we were talking about last week. And ultimately, learning that inside that hula hoop is what we have control over. So we have control of our thoughts, our feelings, our emotions, and our actions that we can take. That’s what we have control over. And everything else, people, places, and things, we don’t have control over.

So as soon as we stop trying to control all of this stuff, life becomes a little bit better when we’re taking our energy and focusing on the things that we actually can move forward, that we can have some level of control over that to, to get us where we want to go. And then when I was talking, I also started talking just about family systems, right?

We can sit here and say I’m in control of myself, but I live inside of a family system. I live inside of a situation where people have expectations of me, right? I have a way that I show up in this way, right? And it can start to get real messy. And this is where. Inside of hello body freedom with our clients.

We’ve been really having a powerful conversation this month around boundaries, literally around what are the boundaries? How do I create these boundaries? And I think that this is a very important topic to be addressing because here’s what usually happens. So just to be really clear, most people that use food emotionally, like You’re stress eating or anxious eating or mindless eating or comfort eating, right?

There’s all of these ways that we eat food when we’re not actually physically hungry. And they are strong habit loops that we likely learned a long time ago, right? And we’ve just been doing them so long. But part of this I have discovered is that when we tend to be people pleasers. And we tend to not have appropriate boundaries around ourselves.

And all of a sudden, everybody else gets what they need from us. And it leaves our cup empty. It leaves us feeling a little depleted. And it leaves us not feeling good. And then when we try to put a boundary in, then it’s the opposite feeling. Now we feel guilty because we’re trying to instill this boundary.

And both places ultimately leave us feeling icky, not feeling good. And if we have a habit of using food, whenever we don’t feel good in our body, then boom, there’s an absolute connection with boundaries and overeating for so many of us. All right. So let’s go ahead and have a conversation about this.

I’m really excited to talk about certain types of boundaries and then to have some conversation about what we can do here. And really working with how to set them, what that even means, and how to get a lot of clarity for yourself and feeling good for yourself as well. All right. So number one, let’s define boundaries.

All right. A boundary is a limit that you can set. It is a limit that you can set on what you will accept of another person’s words or actions. All right. So this is a very broad thing. And I want you to think about boundaries. Here you are, you’re setting up boundaries around the other humans in your life, right?

As an example, you have a two-year-old, right? And the boundary that you’ve set up now, the boundary is it’s time for bed. Eight o’clock or nine o’clock whatever time a two-year-old has to go to bed. Like you have a boundary, it’s clear you’ve created and set that boundary and the two-year-old starts whining and crying and feeling horrible.

And you could, you can sense that you might not feel good, but you’re able to keep that boundary because it actually matters, not just for that person’s life, right? Because that person, that two-year-old toddler is going to thrive. with that boundary, even though in that moment they might not want to go to sleep and you are going to thrive with that boundary, even though they’re throwing a temper tantrum and you might not be feeling good in your body when you hold that boundary, everybody wins.

All right. And so the other piece that we’re going to start to talk about a little later, because what we’re really talking about right now is boundaries. We’re setting these boundaries because they’re good for us and they’re good for all the people around us as well. But there are also inner boundaries I talk about loving boundaries around food.

So learning how to say yes to food and learning how to say no to food. We’re learning how to do both, right? We’re learning how to, how do I have these loving boundaries? for myself, right? And these boundaries don’t necessarily affect other people. Josh could give a rat’s ass if I decided to have three bowls of ice cream, he would just, he’d be like, Ooh that third bowl looks pretty good too.

He wouldn’t judge me. He wouldn’t shame me. He wouldn’t care. That would be my own internal boundary, which is a little different, but as we’ll go through this process and as we start to continue to talk about this, that you will see how the two are very connected. So let’s start with just the basic definition of it’s a limit that you can set on what you will accept of another person’s words or actions.

All right. And so boundaries can be material, physical, mental, and emotional. All right. So we’re going to go through all of those. We’re going to go through those four, and then we’re going to really spend some time with emotional, and then we’re going to pull that apart a little bit as well. All right.

So the very, very first thing that we have to understand is what it means to take care of yourself. All right. So part of You know, if anybody’s ever been on an airplane, I used to go on them a lot. I haven’t been on one lately, but what did they tell you? They say, put your own oxygen mask on first before you put on your kids.

And this is began with that internal boundary that people pleasing part of us. But it’s incredible advice. How can you help your kids with all of their oxygen masks when you’re just like passed out because you don’t have any oxygen? it just totally doesn’t work that way. When you fill your cup up, when you create these boundaries, it really makes a difference.

All right. And it’s not just about the airplane ride. This is about many other aspects of your life as you will see. So when you’re not taking care of yourself first, this just creates resentment. It creates burnout. It creates dissatisfaction. It leads to Feeling like not great and it’s not good for you and it’s not good for your relationships.

And so that would be this inner boundary piece that we’re talking about. And again we’ll keep going. We’ll keep moving through this and we’ll keep going through this. But understanding that boundaries go both ways, in terms of taking care of yourself. You’re learning how to say no, you’re learning how to say no in ways that are in alignment with your own values, and you’re also learning how to listen to other people’s boundaries and accept those boundaries as well, right?

The thing about boundaries is we think that setting the boundary is the hard part, but actually once you get crystal clear with your own values and what you need, setting the boundary becomes the easy part. It’s holding that boundary that starts to become difficult. So let’s start to give a couple of examples and you can start to see in your own life where maybe your values are and where maybe you keep letting them slide where other people just take in and take over.

And then need some help in that regard. So let’s dive into material boundaries. So I want you to think about money. I want you to think about lending money. I want you to thinking about your own belongings, right? These are your material belongings. When you don’t want somebody to use your things, right?

That doesn’t make you selfish. It belongs to you. And this is part of the problem. We have this massive conditioning of people pleasing. And, oh, but I don’t want to be selfish. Oh, but I want to be loved. And all of these kind of dysfunctional ways that we let other people walk over things that whenever we have that appropriate boundary creates more of an inner ecology of worthiness and esteem.

So thinking of, your time as a material object, right? When do people walk all over your time or they show up late or they don’t show up at all. And you can feel it. You can feel it inside of yourself because it doesn’t feel good. Your decision to not lend money.

Or if you lent money and somebody walked on your boundary of paying you back these are reasons to not feel good, right? Or doing favors, right? Helping people out. Think about the times that people are asking for you. Think about the person that owns the pickup truck, right? I used to own a pickup truck, and I was always the one that got called to help move my friends.

This was back in my 20s. It was a lot of fun. But sometimes I wasn’t. I had other plans for the weekend. So where are we able to put those boundaries in place? And then there’s also physical boundaries and mental boundaries. So think about physical boundaries as like your hula hoop, and this is your personal space.

And so we want to look at like touching. Who can touch you? How can they touch you? Where can they touch you? When can they touch you? There are times when I don’t want to be touched. And for me to be able to set that boundary and not let myself feel guilty about it, we’re going to reuse, we’re going to go deep into the…

Emotion of guilt as we keep moving through this, right? Because what happens? Now we feel guilty and then we’re like, Oh, I don’t want to hurt this person’s feelings or Oh, like all of this stuff. And then we end up basically just throwing whatever boundaries, this internal sense that we have out the window.

And so the very first question is you might think what the hell are my boundaries and how do I know they’ve been violated? You can usually tell because it doesn’t feel good. When somebody, when you lend somebody money and they didn’t pay you back, it doesn’t feel good, right? If you say I don’t want to be touched and then somebody touches you, doesn’t feel good, right?

If you have a call set up with your friend and they just blew you off, or you have a date set up and they just like ghosted you or something happened, that doesn’t feel good. That is an internal boundary. That’s usually how we know our boundaries have been violated. All right. The other piece we talked about we talked about physical boundaries, but also mental boundaries, right?

This is where thoughts, values, opinions, right? You’re allowed to have your own thoughts, your own opinions, all of these belong to you. And so if somebody like steps on a boundary, maybe they’re sitting here shouting at you and going that’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. And then it’s Whoa, I’m allowed to have my idea.

Or are we so busy people pleasing or, Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have my ideas that , we forget that we are our own person. And ultimately that’s what boundaries do. Boundaries help create some space between what you need for you and how other people are going to respond and treat you. Okay. So let’s go ahead and dive into, and I’m just going to do a quick recap.

So again, we’re talking about material boundaries, physical boundaries, mental boundaries. And now I want to dive into emotional boundaries. I want to really dive into this idea of understanding having these distinct emotional boundaries. What happens is when we take on other people’s feelings, when we start to feel like our bodies are getting hijacked because we’re going to say no to a thing, right?

We start to feel guilt, all of these things. This is very common whenever we struggle with emotions in general, right? It’s common if we notice that we have kind codependent behaviors with other people, but ultimately learning about our feelings and emotions and learning how to separate. What we are experiencing right now from what other people are experiencing, right?

They get to have their feelings, they get to have what they’re experiencing, and we get to have what we’re experiencing, right? This is a very important part of this, okay? So your feelings should not be dependent on other people’s feelings or moods. This is an emotional boundary just because Josh had a bad day at work.

I might’ve had a great day at work. Now I can feel compassionate, right? I can feel empathy and compassion for him. Oh, I’m so sorry. You had a bad day. But like whenever I am allowing myself to absorb other people’s emotions and feelings, that’s generally part of the problem. Okay. And a lot of times when we think about boundaries, we’re like, Oh, but I want to be nice.

Oh, but. This idea of Oh, but Josh has had this bad day at work. And so Audra is going to just stay in her like peppy place. No. So Renee Brown did a bunch of research on compassionate people. And she’s this absolute researcher. She researches shame. If you guys don’t know, Bernie Brown, she does brilliant work on this planet.

But her research on compassion, like the people who are the most compassionate, right? So Josh can have a horrible day and I can drop into my compassion. I can be with him in that moment. What she recognized is that the most compassionate people on the planet, guess what they had. The best boundaries, right?

So you think you’re being compassionate by taking on other people’s emotions and other people’s feelings, but really you’re just letting your whole body be hijacked and you don’t know where the separation is of this person and their feelings and emotion and you and your feelings and emotions. And this is a big,

big problem. So the very first piece we want to do is give ourselves permission that what we are feeling is right. It makes sense that what we are feeling, right? We are allowed to have our own feelings, our own thoughts, our own emotions, all of this, right? We do not have to take on other people’s Feelings.

It is not our job. It is a burden that we do not need to carry. Every human except for little kids that need help. But every other grown-ass human on this planet can take responsibility for their own emotions, for their own sense of that. We can be compassionate, but at the end of the day, our ability to have boundaries around that really matters.

All right. And so what we’re looking for is I know where you end and I begin emotionally, mentally, physically, all the ways, right? Understanding that you are your own person and your needs matter. And yes, you have needs. Good for you. You’re welcome to being a human on the planet. All of us have needs for all of us that think that, Oh, I don’t have any needs.

I’m going to people please. And I’m going to go do this for this person, do this for that that it just drains you of your life force energy. And you wonder why you’re resentful. And you wonder why, quite frankly, you eat yourself into oblivion because damn it, at least food is there. And at least food tastes good.

And the serotonin and the dopamine hits might be the only place where you’re getting to feel good. Do you see how these are connected? So let’s go ahead and dive into Understanding the emotion of guilt. So let’s go into some actual practicalities here for this lesson here, because guilt is really at the heart of this for most people.

Before we do into this, the first thing I want to do before we start diving into guilt, it’s connected to guilt. The very first thing that I want to encourage everyone to do is I want you to start to drop in to what matters to you. What are your values? Do you value feeling good? Do you value getting good sleep?

Do you value taking good care of yourself, right? Do you value rest and recovery so that way you can go out into the world and feel good, right? So these are all examples of values. Do you value family? Do you value connection, right? And so we want to get clear about what our values are first and foremost.

Because what happens is that when we do something outside of what we value, okay, and I’m going to give you an example of having a conversation with my kids and they shared something, private with me and then I ended up telling their dad and it wasn’t something that he really needed to know and I told him anyways, And then it came out that I had said that and quite frankly, I felt really guilty, right?

And so I want to talk about the emotion of guilt. In that moment, I have a value of, I want my kids to be able to say what they want to say to me. And I want to be able to hold that space. If they say, I don’t want anybody else to know this, like I hold the value of privacy. I hold the value of being in relationship with people where they can really know that they can trust me, right?

And so what I did is I violated my own values. I violated what I know to be true that matters to me in that moment. Okay. And when I did that, I felt immense guilt and guilt feels a certain way in the body. Okay. And I want to be really clear that is an appropriate expression of guilt.

And so what I can do is I can be with my emotions and I can breathe and I can work on them and I can do some self talk . And I can really atone for that behavior. I can apologize. I can go in and go, I will never do this again because this is what apologizing is. This is what atoning is. And then it is working towards rebuilding that trust factor that was broken and becoming a better human that lives more in alignment with my values, right?

This is the key. Now let’s talk about a different scenario that you think is guilt, but is not guilt. All right. Your overbearing parents are asking you to help them with everything. You live two States away. You have your own kids. You have your own family. You have your own job. You have your own life. And your parents

are saying, ‘Oh, I need help with this. I can’t figure this out. I can’t do this.’ And it is an ongoing thing that keeps happening over and over again. And so your values are, yes, I want to help my family. That feels like something that matters to me, but I also have the value of my own my secular family.

I have the value of making sure my kids and I get the rest that we need. I have the value of spending my weekends in a way that feels good. I have the value of just feeling good and wanting to feel good. And so what happens in this moment is that the guilt that you think you feel, because let’s say you’d finally say, no, I’m putting up a boundary.

I don’t want to do this thing because I value my free time. I value my rest. And you tell them no. And the moment you tell them no, a wave of guilt washes over you, right? Maybe they are coming at you with whatever they’re saying. Quite frankly, they’re not happy that you’re not going to show up and help them out in this scenario as well.

And so here you are and you’re feeling icky, but this is not guilt. I want to be very clear here. This is not acting outside of your values. You are acting in accordance with your values and this is how boundaries are set. Boundaries are set whenever you are clear with this matters to me, these values matter to me, and I’m going to uphold what matters to me by creating boundaries around all the other things that need the boundaries so that I can live in accordance to my values.

All right. What this icky feeling is, it is that you are not acting outside of your own values. You are acting outside of cultural values and you were acting outside of old familial patterns of what this kind of unspoken value of we get to ask you for everything on the planet and you just do the thing because you’ve been doing it for so long.

Okay. That is not guilt. That is an icky feeling. that doesn’t feel good in your body because it doesn’t align with what culture says you should do. You should drop everything to go help everybody. You should people pleased until you can’t do anything. You should put your own oxygen mask on first because you’re so selfish.

If you’re going to put everybody else’s oxygen mask on, it’s just bullshit. It’s absolute bullshit. Okay. This is society and culture’s BS way of keeping people stuck. And quite frankly, this is familial, old, dysfunctional familial patterns that we keep repeating because we are inside of the family system.

So when you finally break away and say, I am not going to feel guilty for getting a babysitter for my kids so I can go enjoy a night out with my friends. Even though my kid is crying and throwing a shit fit and doing all the things. I can go up to my child and I go, Oh baby, I’m like, I love you. I almost said I’m sorry.

No, we’re not going to say I’m sorry. Yeah. And you know what? Tonight, mommy’s going to go have fun with her friends. And I want you to see mommy having fun with her friends because it matters that mommy has friends and it matters that mommy has a life outside of this unit. And this is good for me and it’s good for you.

And you’re going to have so much fun with, babysitter, Sally, whatever you guys are going to have a great time. And what you were doing is you were teaching your kids that your values matter. That they matter and that icky feeling of whatever you want to call it mom guilt or Whatever that like that is not guilt.

That is cultural BS. That is cultural values That are getting broken in that moment, and that is not the problem. What we need to do is go inside and realize I am paying attention to my own values and I’m doing everything I can to live in accordance with those values. Does that make sense? Are you guys with me?

I feel like I need to take a breather, take a little break here. Yeah, this is pretty big stuff. This is pretty big stuff. Now let’s talk about when you finally decided for that boundary, right? Because here you are, let’s use the overbearing family that’s saying that they need your help every single weekend.

They need you to drive five hours, 10 hours down to do this, like basically you work a full-time job, right? And so here you are finally going. I am putting the boundary in. I am going to uphold the values that matter to me. Okay. I am going to value that. I want my own time and my own rest. And I value doing the things that I want to do.

Okay. I don’t value things that I begrudgingly don’t want to do. I don’t value sitting here like saying, I hate that I’m doing this for this person. Cause I’m like exhausted. What I want to say is that you are going to get a backlash always. There is going to be a backlash. So it’s not just you setting the boundary.

It’s not just you saying it out loud, right? All of these humans have an expectation of the person that you have been all of this time. All right. But what you think you’re feeling is guilt is not guilt. Okay. But when you try to undo and unravel and live in accordance with your values. What ends up happening is there is a backlash that are all these people coming back at you.

And this is the hard part. This is where we start to really think that we’re feeling guilt and all of this ickiness that we feel in our body starts to take over. And if we could really get down to the truth and the core of the work of holding a boundary, the work of really, truly stepping into the boundary, it is,

for you to be able to notice what you are feeling in the body, the icky, gross feeling that does not feel good. Okay? When you hold that boundary, the icky discomfort is there, right? In this case, you are being loyal to your value instead of betraying yourself. So what we need to do in this moment is work with and create resiliency around this intensity that you are feeling in the body.

Clearly, I want to be clear again, this is not guilt. You think it’s guilt. But it’s cultural bullshit. It is not guilt. It just starts to have this old familiar feeling. Oh, I’m being so selfish. Oh, but I should just go do this thing. Oh, but I feel so guilty because I hurt them so long ago when I was a teenager doing stupid stuff.

Oh, they can’t do it on their own. I guess I have to help them. I have to let people play. Oh no. Instead of that, what we do is we hold the boundary and then we go in and we create resiliency around the ickiness that we are feeling. We have to learn that it is okay. That we are actually feeling all of this icky that does not feel good.

It makes sense that we are feeling it because we’ve been taught a whole long time ago to put our own oxygen mask on last. We’ve been taught that it’s selfish to put our off oxygen mask on first. We’ve been taught that if we please all these other people, then we’re going to get the love that we need, the belonging that we need, the safety that we need.

And then we, it’s just, and it’s not true. It never works. Because what ends up happening is we’re exhausted, we’re tired, we’re resentful, and we’re not taking good care of ourselves. Okay. And so this is the work. Number one, actual guilt is because you are acting outside of your value. You act outside of the value that you know is important.

There needs to be a reparation in place. Whether that’s an apology to another person, or whether that is working with your own inner self, because you violated your own inner boundary. I said I was going to do a thing, I didn’t do a thing. What is that repair process, right? That is guilt. Guilt makes sense.

You feel the guilt. Here you are feeling what you’re feeling. It’s allowed to be there. Of course, it makes sense that it’s there. The other example of living in accordance with your values, stepping up to the plate instead of betraying yourself, you are learning how to be loyal to yourself. You are learning how to give yourself what you need by being in relationship with your values first, and then creating the boundaries around that so other people can understand, and in that moment, When the family is coming back to you with, Oh, but you always do this.

And they’re, they feel like they’re giving you that guilt trip. Remember that whole emotional talk we had earlier. This is where they are allowed to feel what they are feeling. They are going to feel upset. You’ve been doing this for so long. They’ve been living off of your generosity for so long.

Except for you’re going to die doing it because you’re putting everybody else’s oxygen mask on first, right? So here you are taking care of yourself for them to have a lash back. That is their experience. It is theirs. Let them have it. Let them have it. The same way the two-year-old didn’t want you to go out with your friends.

It’s okay. Your two-year-old is going to learn that you value friendship outside of the family, and that is normal and healthy. Your crazy family is going to start to learn that you value your own health. Your own ability to take good care of yourself. All right. So letting other people have their feelings and then you can have your feelings, which is, I know this sucks.

I really wish I could be there for you, but it’s just not going to work this weekend. My family needs to rest. It’s just not going to work. I am exhausted. And quite frankly, I need to take better care of myself. And I have five things planned this weekend to take better care of myself, to rest, to rejuvenate.

And that is my value. And if I have to work on myself. So I almost caught myself using some wrong words. See, like it’s so easy to get caught up in this, but whenever you can step up to the plate unapologetically, this is what I’m going to do for me. I can see that it’s a struggle for you.

I can see that it hurts you. And that sucks. I hate that you feel this way and I need this for me as well. And so then the conversation isn’t, I’m winning and you’re losing. It’s yes, you’re allowed to have your feelings. And yes, so am I. And we are going to, when can we do it? Maybe I can do it next month.

Maybe I can come help next month. I have a weekend free after I’ve spent a whole month building up some resiliency in myself. So just to tie this in with boundaries, learning your inner values, learning what it is that you need. And sometimes the way we learn this is by having our boundaries violated over and over again.

And so, we can start to really understand, wait, this is acceptable and this is unacceptable. We start to really understand what we value. That’s the first part. And the more that we live in alignment with our values, the better life gets for ourselves, quite frankly. But when we have been not having boundaries for so long, when we finally build those boundaries up and we finally say what we need and we make declarations and we say, I know I said I was coming, but I’m not going to now.

I know we said this earlier, but now it’s changed because I have to hold this boundary. I need X, Y, and Z. These values matter to me. Now what you will likely have is everybody else that expects you to act a certain way. They’re going to start losing their shit in some way or another. And in this moment is your moment to practice, letting them have their experience with kindness and compassion and letting yourself have your experience, which means when the icky feelings come up, when all of a sudden you’re feeling sad or ashamed or guilty or, Oh, I should be doing this or, Oh, why didn’t I do this?

Or, Oh, I’m such a bad person. Oh, I should help them. Oh, how, this is how I get my love and attention, whatever the thing might be in that moment, knowing I can feel what I’m feeling. This is not going to break me. I can expand my capacity to feel this icky feeling. And I know that with feelings and when I breathe through them and I allow myself to feel and process that they will go away inside the next 30 seconds to three minutes.

I can keep my boundary and I can continually build resiliency inside of myself to know that this icky feeling that I’m feeling, the more that I hold my boundary, the better I’m going to feel and that this icky feeling I can hold it, but it will start to get less and less. The more that I keep proving to myself that I’ve got me instead of betraying myself, that I am being loyal to myself.

And this is the magic that happens with boundaries. And I’ve seen this over and over again with my clients that their overeating patterns stop that they are setting up. And this isn’t even if they’re working on overeating patterns, this is just the capacity to give yourself what you need because you are building this inner resiliency.

You are building this inner self-trust, this inner esteem, and inner worthiness in a way that just flat-out feels good. My friends. All right. That is all I have for you for this episode. I hope that you’ve taken some juicy nuggets from it and I hope you can apply this into your life. I hope this has been beautiful.

And if you have any questions at all, I cannot wait to hear back from you. Thank you so much for being here and I will see you next time. Bye everybody.

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