Did you know that a recent study by the American Psychological Association found that people who have clear boundaries between work and personal life have less stress and burnout? 

And do you know who has the hardest time setting boundaries for themselves? Women, of course.

Today’s Thin Thinking episode, we are joined by my special guest expert Nicole Tsong, who is a work-life balance coach, a bestselling author and podcaster. Nicole helps high achieving professional women release perfectionism and learn to set boundaries for themselves and for others so that they can live a life of purpose and radical joy.

What are you waiting for? Create a boundary to listen to this episode and come on in.


Join Nicole’s Free Mastercalss Series called Transforming Your Relationship with Work Boundaries (without feeling guilty or selfish). 

This masterclass series is for overworked perfectionists to finally get their boundaries clear and aligned for 2023, so they can live a life of wholeness and power.

If you’re looking for the missing piece to master the critical ingredients to stop feeling overwhelmed by boundaries, this 3-part series is for you!  

During this 3-part series you’ll:

✅Learn the top 3 mistakes powerful women make with work boundaries and the secret techniques to avoid them completely.

✅Discover the No. 1 reason successful, high-achieving women don’t set and sustain powerful boundaries.

✅Learn the 4 essential pieces required to finally set clear boundaries so you can work less without sacrificing health, relationships or happiness.

The series kicks off on May 11! And it’s completely free!


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Rita Black: Did you know that a recent study by the American Psychological Association found that people who have clear boundaries between work and personal life have less stress and burnout? And who has the hardest time setting boundaries for themselves? Women, of course. Today, my guest expert Nicole Tsong discusses the importance of establishing boundaries with yourself and others, not just with work, but with all facets of life so that you can find more balance and achieve more confidence and health. So let's get started. Come on in.

Rita Black: Did you know that our struggle with weight doesn't start with the food on your plate or get fixed in the gym? 80% of our weight struggle is mental. That's right. The key to unlocking long-term weight release and management begins in your mind. Hi there, I'm Rita Black. I'm a clinical hypnotherapist weight loss expert, bestselling author, and the creator of the Shift Weight Mastery Process. And not only have I helped thousands of people over the past 20 years achieve long-term weight mastery, I am also a former weight struggler, carb addict and binge eater. And after two decades of failed diets and fad weight loss programs, I lost 40 pounds with the help of hypnosis. Not only did I release all that weight, I have kept it off for 25 years. Enter the Thin Thinking Podcast where you too will learn how to remove the mental roadblocks that keep you struggling. I'll give you the thin thinking tools, skills and insights to help you develop the mindset you need, not only to achieve your ideal weight, but to stay there long term and live your best life.

Rita Black: Hello, hello, hello. Come on in. I hope you are having a fabulous week. I have a sister, her name is Paula and she lives in England. She lives in Surrey, which is south of London. And having a sister who lives long distance, it's a little sad because I don't get to see her very often, but we do zoom a lot. So I was on a zoom with my sister the other day and we were talking about our boys because my son is turning 18, her son's just turned 18 in January and they are all heading off to college next year. Now it's fascinating cause in England, the school system, I'm sure you know and maybe some of you live in England, so you know more about, way more about the school system than I do, but it's quite different than the school system here in the United States. And going to university is a little different too. There, the university is three years long, whereas here it's four. And it's fascinating because the acceptance or the way that you apply and get accepted into university is different there as well.

Rita Black: You choose the five top schools you think might, you have to choose your major and then choose the top five schools. And then they basically look at you and say, well, yes or no, but then when you qualify for a school, then you have to actually prove yourself by this rigorous test at the end of the year. And then, and only then do they say yes or no to you, which seems a really scary and it's very nerve wracking. And her sons are right now in the middle of preparing for this exam. I wish I remembered the name of it, but as you know, I'm 58. Every once in a while, things escape my brain. Not every once in a while, quite often, but anyway, I didn't retain that piece of information. So they're heading off to these exams where, you know, they are going to make it or break it and seems very, very stressful.

Rita Black: My son, and you know, if your children or you know, children or nieces or nephews or people who, and you yourself, went to college, you know that we apply in the autumn, you get accepted somewhere between January and April and, you know, your final senior term is actually, you can kind of take a breath and relax a little bit and get senioritis and goof off somewhat, but not too much because I know if you do really poorly, the college that accepts you might not want you anymore. But anyway, huh? I'm so glad this is my final round with the whole college thing. I mean, it's just so crazy. And then, you know, we have more things to look forward to of course, but at least this part is almost over. Yay.

Rita Black: But something that is really interesting, my, so my sister married a British man, and so, well, he's actually Scottish. He's from Edinburgh. And when I, you know, first went to England because my husband's British and I lived there for four years, a very, very long time ago, in the late eighties and early nineties. But when I married my husband and I went to England, I called it Edin Burrow and everybody, like I was a laughing stock of anybody. I'd said that around. There was a lot of British names. I would say, of course, as you know, the innocent American or the naive American, Light Chester Square and all these things that, you know, I tried to pronounce it the way it looked like it should be phonetically. But anyway I got laughed at a lot. But anyway, so my sister still lives there, she's been there for 25 years. So I actually lived there before her.

Rita Black: And then she met her husband. And I had this joke, I think I said it at her wedding. I said, I think the reason that we both ended up marrying British people or people from the UK was because we watched a lot of Masterpiece Theater when we were kids. Our parents were addicted to Masterpiece Theater. And I think that's the only thing. We had one television, and that's the only thing that our channel was like always on public television. So we watched the French Chef and Masterpiece Theater, and so I'm surprised we didn't marry somebody from Prince. But anyway, we leaned towards the Brits. But something my sister, cause I was always like, why don't you guys move back here to the United States because, you know, there are some downsides to living in abroad. And one of them is just being so far away from your family.

Rita Black: I was like, come back, come live in California. Life is good here. And my sister's like, no way. I am never gonna live in the United States ever again because of the work-life balance. And she's right. You know? When you live in Europe and, I think people in Europe, and I could, this is broad generalization, but it's like work to live versus live to work. Now, I love work, I love, love work. So I have no problem working. Love it. And my work-life balance is perfect for me. But my sister says, you know, two weeks off a year, you know, if you work for a corporation or for, typically, the average American worker gets two weeks off per year paid vacation. And in England, and I think in the rest of Europe it's six weeks. And I think some places it might be even longer, things may have changed.

Rita Black: But typically this was, you know, just that idea and the fact that when she had her twins, she was able to take a year off of work, partially paid, not fully paid, but she had her job waiting for her when she got back, which is quite extraordinary, don't you think? But anyway, so which brings me to my amazing guest this week Nicole Tsong, who is going to really talk to us about the work-life balance and setting boundaries. But before I introduce Nicole, I just wanna make sure that anybody listening, that you are subscribed to the Thin Thinking Podcast so that you always have the latest episode in your inbox ready to go, ready to listen to. So make sure you subscribe today, click that, whatever that is, that you need to subscribe and get subscribed. All right.

Rita Black: Now let me introduce you to Nicole, who you are going to love. Nicole Tsong, work-life Balance Coach, bestselling author and podcaster helps high achieving professional women release perfectionism so that they can live a life of purpose and radical joy. The founder of Nicole Tsong Coaching, she reached hundreds of thousands of readers as the former Fit for Life columnists in the Seattle Times, the host of Podcast School of Self-Worth. She is also an award-winning journalist and for three years taught yoga at the White House Easter Egg Roll during the Obama administration. Welcome to Thin Thinking, Nicole.

Rita Black: So great to have you on the Thin Thinking Podcast. I'm really excited about what we're gonna be talking about today.

Nicole Tsong: Such an honor to be here with you today, Rita.

Rita Black: Now I know that you are a work-life balance coach. That is so fascinating. Please tell us, because I'm sure all of our listeners are like, Ooh, work-life balance coach. What is that like? Tell us what you do.

Nicole Tsong: Well, I really work with high achieving professional women in particular around finding that calibration of balance. And one thing people can think is, oh, work-life balance is a specific system. It's a specific way you do it. And one of the things I feel like is really important for women is to define that for yourselves and to calibrate in a way that works for you. And that looks different from every person. And so that's one thing I want your listeners to know right away, that I am not about a prescribed way of finding balance. The truth is like, cause also life changes. If you're single in your twenties and thirties, it's gonna look different from when you get married. And then you have, if you have kids, if you have, you're getting towards the edge of retirement age, and I work with women in many different times, like time eras of their life. And work-life balance really changes depending on where you're at.

Rita Black: It's so fascinating because I think of work-life balance, I don't think I necessarily have it, but I think of it as I work, you know, during the day and then I knock off at, I'm sure a lot of people have that idea of it, right? But yeah, that is definitely true because I know for me, my son is, this week deciding on the colleges, what college he's gonna go to, he's gonna go off and then we are gonna be empty nesters. And I know for me, I know a lot of people are like, oh, I can't wait to travel and everything. I was like, I can't wait to work more because I love working and I love what I do and I love my son and my children and you dedicate a lot of time to them. But I'm kind of looking forward to having part of my mind freed up to explore more of what I'm doing. So I get it, like, you, I see how you, so there's no, like Rita, you should be studying for hours time aside to, you know, meditate and to work in your garden.

Nicole Tsong: Well, I'm very big on having time for yourself and what does that look like, right? Like I've had clients where the only time they could get is 5:50 AM before six when their kids get up. And I'm like, okay, like that is going to be your time because that's the time of life that you're in and make sure that you have that time for yourself. I'm big though on incremental habit change. So I'm not in a fan of like, okay, now we're gonna all of a sudden spend three to four hours per day on ourselves because the truth is most of us need time to build up to that place. I'm somebody who does that. But it took me a long time to get to that mode because I used to like, five to 10 minutes felt like a lot for me at different stages in my life. So I really want people to start to build themselves into a place where they can feel like the habits are working for them, they feel really strong about it and then they can start to expand from there.

Rita Black: That's smart. You're not scaring them off or overwhelming them because I also think that there's probably, and maybe you can clarify underlying feelings and emotions that come up when you give yourself that free time that makes it feel scary, that makes it feel overwhelming, that makes it even feel boring. Would you say that might be the case?

Nicole Tsong: Oh yeah. I feel like women in general, like as a culture, we're trained to not put ourselves first. Like our priorities are always other people. So when you start to take back time for yourself or you start to say, Hey, I'm actually the most important person in the day. It can feel a little bit like, is that actually true? Is like my family or my coworkers or my team or other people not more important? And you cannot really support other people if you are not fully sourced yourself. So I always look at it from a place of like, we have to source ourselves before we can support anybody else regardless. If you're somebody who's in a job where you actually give a lot or you have a family, even if you're a single person who is working all day, to make sure that you are fully grounded and clear for yourself, to me is always actually the most important piece.

Nicole Tsong: So how do you do that? We have to do it little bit by little bit cause we are dismantling, again, big systems that tell us that women should give all the time. We are the ones in charge. We have to track everything and we are never able to receive help. We have to shed a lot of that. And that can be emotional, it can be challenging for people. And frankly I find that for so many people, the time challenge comes up like, we're all so busy, so let's just make it really simple. Five to 10 minutes typically is hard for us to say, we don't have that. So let's just start with something easy. And then once it fully becomes a habit, which actually takes 60 days or so, once it's actually a habit, now we can start to expand and layer on new things.

Rita Black: Cool. Now how, I'm curious, how did you come to this work yourself? Like are you a former perfectionist workaholic? I mean, what's your background?

Nicole Tsong: Workaholic? I know it's, I'm never self-defined as a workaholic, but I'm definitely somebody who works quite a bit and I really like working. My background is in journalism and I would say that what came for me in journalism doesn't really have very good boundaries because it's based on what's happening in the world. So you were always kind of expected to be able to do things at the drop of a hat. Like just go out and chase the story, work late. It's really something that's geared more towards people who are younger. And so I was working at the Anchorage Daily News. First, was my first like, big job out of college. Yeah. And I was working really hard all the time, but I didn't really think of it as something where I didn't have boundaries. And then I look back on it, you know, I'd work late a lot.

Nicole Tsong: I would field calls from my editors at night all the time. You work nights, you work weekends, it's actually expected of you and you're not really compensated very well for that. And so during that whole time though, but I really felt like I was on this purposeful path, like that's what I thought was my purpose, was to be of service to the world by being a journalist. And so I was passionate. I was like into it, like in my twenties Rita, I was like, here we go. Like I was all in on journalism. But then I actually had quite a traumatic experience. When I was working there, they had pulled me onto a story about Catholic sex abuse, which was at the time like very, it was like a really big project. It was a big honor to do it. And I was like, oh wow. Like they think enough of me to be able to do this. And I was working for several months, talking to victims and really talking about very, very difficult topics, which looking back I wasn't probably that well equipped to handle in general, but I was doing it cause that was my job at the time. And then the story came out, we won all these awards, I was feeling really proud. And then a year after that happened, one of the sources actually died by suicide. And then that was a really, and I would say, you know, I was 26 at the time, and to have that kind of really difficult experience at that age in a professional environment was an awakening, a wake up call, but a wake up call I didn't really act on for several years. I decided I would just switch topics, like I would switch gears.

Nicole Tsong: So I started covering politics, which seemed very neutral compared to that experience. And so I covered a senate race and I covered congress, and then I still decided I wanted to get out of news and I ended up making a really big shift over to the Seattle Times to write about features. And I laughed, my friends always joked that I went from politics to lumps because I was covering home and garden. So yeah. And so I came to the Seattle Times to write about home and garden. And I did that for a few years. And I actually during that time, was more balanced. Like I was going to yoga after work and I was really feeling like I enjoyed my life. I was getting to do a lot of more creative writing. And I was like, this is really great. And then the recession came and there were starting to be layoffs in the newsroom and they moved me back out to the news area.

Nicole Tsong: And then that was like, that actually I think just brought up in me my previous experiences I'd had when I was younger. And I was like, I cannot do this. And I remember that at the time I was just like crying day after day. I was like, I cannot do this. I cannot do this. And I really didn't know what to do with my life. I had this total, like, I'm in a rock bottom place. I don't know what to do. I feel really hopeless. And then at the time, the only thing I really liked doing in my life was teaching yoga, or not teaching yoga. I gave away the story was doing yoga. I liked doing yoga. That was like the only place I felt peaceful. It's the only place I felt calm. And so I decided to go to a yoga teacher training.

Nicole Tsong: And even though that at the time seemed wildly out of left field in terms of life and choices, I decided to then actually go take a yoga teacher training. And after a year and a half, I ultimately left the paper and went full-time as a yoga teacher. So I was teaching yoga full-time for about eight years. And then during that time, yeah, so during that time is when I was, a lot of the practices that I teach and a lot of what I learned about myself came from that era because to be a yoga teacher actually required me to step outside of myself in a big way. To stand in front of a room of people, which I do all the time now, but back then was like really pretty hard for me. And to speak and to also be really open to who I was like in that room was a really big growth curve. But that's the journey. And then when I was teaching yoga, I was also doing some of the work that I coach now. And then at some point I really saw for myself, I wanted to go full-time into coaching rather than teaching yoga. So after about a decade of teaching yoga, I became a coach. And I've been doing that for several years now.

Rita Black: And you chose your work-life balance because you sought that need or you enjoyed working with people in that way? Or you saw it within yourself, like you saw it reflected in yourself?

Nicole Tsong: Yeah, I would say I found, even in yoga, I would say it was not actually always balanced because that's a pretty, like a hard grind as a lifestyle. Like if you're teaching 15 classes a week, you're running around town, you're teaching 6:00 AM, you're teaching 7:15 at night. And so I actually often did not feel very balanced while teaching yoga. And I think if you take yoga, you might be like, oh, those teachers are so grounded and centered and behind the scenes a lot of them are running around a lot, especially if they're a full-time teacher and it's a hustle because you don't really make a lot as a teacher. And so I wasn't particularly balanced. And part of the reason I actually really left that career is because I wanted more say and control over the kind of life I wanted to have and really creating my own business and getting into that world.

Nicole Tsong: But, you know, there was a time, Rita, when I was working for a yoga company 20 hours a week, I was teaching 10 classes a week. And then I was also writing a fitness column for the Seattle Times. Like I was pretty, I was hustling, you know, I was moving a lot. And that also I was like, there had to be a better way is also how I saw it. I'm like, there has to be a better way to be abundant in my life, to be giving back to people and then to also feel like I'm giving back to myself. And then coaching really allowed me to do that.

Rita Black: Interesting. And so what would you say, I mean, just to speak to your point about yogis being a little out of balance, it's interesting because I, you know, help people stop smoking as well as manage their weight. And I get a lot of yogis who are secret smokers in my practice.

Nicole Tsong: I had no idea!

Rita Black: And you know, one question I always ask is like, why are you here? What, why do you wanna stop smoking or vaping? And they're like, well, I'm a yoga instructor. If my clients knew it was like getting in my car and smoking a cigarette after, you know, leading them, I feel horrible. I feel out of line with who I am. So here's a question I have for you because I'm not quite sure the answer. What is a perfectionist? Like what would you define as a perfectionist if you're working with perfectionism?

Nicole Tsong: Yeah, perfectionism to me is like, as someone who can't really quite settle ever, like it's never good enough. So they're on this chase all the time and I've had perfectionism in my life for sure. When I was a journalist, it was like, oh, that story's not good enough. Like, I would be staying up till 10, 11 at night just going over my notes and the story over and over again. Even though in the world of journalism, the copy desk does not want you to call them at 10:00 PM at night. The story is done, the newspaper is done, right. But I would just like ruminate and ruminate over things. And then even as a yoga teacher, I would like want to be a, I would think about all the things I felt like I hadn't done correctly when I was teaching a class. I would really be hard on myself. So I think of perfectionist as like, it's never enough. Like, it's never enough in work, it's never enough in your relationships, it's never enough of your body, it's never enough in all these different ways. And so when you're in a perfectionist mode, you just can't ever really let go of standard. And it's an unattainable standard. It's a standard in your own mind. It's not even based on what other people think. It's just the one you've set for yourself.

Rita Black: And do you think that that's people come to that or do you think they're, I mean, I think we all have an underlying feeling of we are not enough, but do you feel like that some people, like the clients that you work with are more cultivated in that in their childhood or that they come to that from some sort of something that happens to them in their life? I mean, where, you know, why are some people way more perfectionistic than others?

Nicole Tsong: I think you're bringing up a great point. I do find for a lot of my clients, it's something that they came to probably from childhood. Like something happened to them and then they thought the way that they would be loved in their life essentially is to prove themselves and to do really well, to do really well at school, to do, really do really well in work. You know? I work with a lot of career women and they tend to be in a place where they are doing really well and they've sort of climbed this ladder to, you know, I always air quote success. And that perfectionism has gotten them really far, you know, so I would say childhood, but a lot of it's learned from their parents. And I would say also like honestly, you know, American culture teaches that as well, like to like go hard all the time, never take a break. You know? Always improve yourself, always be better and that mentality can really wear away. But that can be a lot of the reason people do it.

Rita Black: Yeah, definitely. I remember when I lived in Europe, that was something that really struck me was people had a different attitude about work, a different attitude that you kind of work to live, not you live to work. And it might not be as true now because I think Europe has changed and you know, and especially like if you're living in an urban area or I don't know, my daughter's in Berlin right now studying and, but I don't know. It's fascinating to me. And then, well, let's talk about, so there's perfectionism and then you really work also with boundaries, which I think is really interesting because especially women struggle with boundaries, right? I see it in my clients and my students all the time. We have a hard time drawing the line, like walk through that.

Rita Black: Like how do we start to have issues with boundaries? Is it something again that we're, it comes from childhood and that we're born into like, you know, we have a hard time setting boundaries with our parents, or our parents have hard, we see it within our family and then we go out into the world. Or do you think it's cultural that we, that women aren't supposed to stay within a certain boundary? Like maybe you can speak to more just what you are seeing with the clients that you have in your expertise.

Nicole Tsong: Well, I'd say there's two things. And the first is that perfectionists really struggle with boundaries because they will go at any cost, at any length to do the thing to the level they think that they should. The second piece is, I don't know, a single successful woman who doesn't have strong boundaries, like you really actually need them to be successful. And one of the things, the biggest mistakes I see with people around boundaries is they think that boundaries are about other people, but boundaries are actually always to me, they have to start with you. And so if you are actually having problems with boundaries, there's a leak in your own power to observe and to check in.

Nicole Tsong: And especially this one, you know, and Rita and I were at a conference together recently. We talked a lot about like, when are you breaking your word to yourself or to other people? And that's what I find when people don't have boundaries, they typically are not keeping promises to themselves. And so when you don't have that ability to say, okay, I am going, let's just give her an example of like, I'm going to the gym today and I'm gonna go three days this week. And then that is actually a boundary too, because you have to say, this time is being set aside in my calendar, I'm not gonna let work interfere.,I'm not gonna let what other people need, I'm going no matter what. And then you don't do it. And when you do that repeatedly to yourself, you start breaking that boundary with yourself.

Nicole Tsong: And then how can you expect other people to honor and respect your word and what you need and your boundaries. Like, you're gonna start to cave on what they need because you're caving in on yourself. And so I find that pattern repeating all the time with my women. And we always really work a lot on like, where do you start to learn to keep your word to yourself. Because once you can do that, you'll be much better at starting to be clear and then you feel ground- well, A, first, if you're doing things for yourself, you feel more grounded. And boundaries have to be set from a grounded place. A lot of what I see, and this is probably more on the internet, but also with sometimes with my clients, is their boundaries can be very reactive. They're like, oh, that person is crossing a boundary with me and they sent this awful email.

Nicole Tsong: And I'm like, okay, so let's get you into a clear space first so that you can say, did they actually cross a boundary? Did they just make a request that you didn't really like? Like what is it that's actually happening here? And then unpacking those layers so you can actually set boundaries from a powerful space. And then feeling really whole within yourself rather than making it about the other people. Because other people are always gonna, I always think people are always gonna, people like they're gonna do what they're gonna do. Their interests are always first. And you can get all worked up about it. Or you can say, okay, what do I really need? And then be clear.

Rita Black: Yeah. I think that's so smart. When I, before we turned on the recording, I was saying to you something I see a lot and I know I had to kind work through definitely in my own weight management journey is creating, getting clear on my boundaries and communicating them with other people in my life. Because I see a lot of people struggling with what their family needs, whether it's their time. Like you say, oh well I wanna go to the gym in the morning. Well the, but my kids need me. Okay. So then, and I see they want to exercise, but I see what you're saying is that they aren't necessarily saying this is, this isn't just, and I have people write that in their book, like an appointment. Like this isn't just, you know, a want, this is like, this is a commitment, this is what I'm creating, I'm creating, it's like either living defensively or offensively.

Rita Black: And I see you're seeing boundaries as part of creative living, like where you're saying, okay, I'm going to create something, I'm going to move into it. Something else that you said that really struck with me is making it doable so that you start showing up to your word. So you start believing what you say. Because at this conference, we were saying that the power of your word, when you do what you say you're gonna do, you become more powerful because then you say something a little bigger and your brain starts to say, well I'm gonna do that too. Instead of making a promise that then to your brain seems like an empty promise and you can cave easily on that. The boundary I see a lot with people is they have spouses or children that bring fattening foods into their environment and they, you know, and their spouses or their children are used to either, you know, this spouse will come home with donuts on a Saturday morning and say, Hey honey, you know, here's the donuts.

Rita Black: And then they're like, well, I have to do it because my husband expects it. My husband, you know, this is something we do together, donuts on Saturday morning and that's why I can't be consistent here. Rather than saying, well, is our donuts important to me on Saturday morning? Do the, what works for them? What works against them? And how do I communicate that you know, with myself first, like what you're saying is so brilliant, you have to say it to yourself first and make that promise to yourself first. Then I think the other stuff wouldn't you say becomes a little more clear. Like, I know negotiating with your husband can be challenging, but if your husband ultimately wants to help you and help you be healthy, and maybe they don't, maybe there's some sabotage going on there, but if you are super clear, they're gonna stop getting that payoff because you're just not gonna eat it. And if you really don't eat it, then they're not going to get the little zing they get from your eating it and they're gonna probably stop doing it. I don't know. What do you think about that? Like that particular boundary?

Nicole Tsong: Yeah, I would say it would definitely have to start with yourself being super clear, like, why I'm doing this, what matters to me, what's the purpose of this, and then like you said, communicating it to other people. Cause to me, if you're communicating it really powerfully, they wouldn't actually do that. You know? Like the communication has to come from I am doing this, this really matters to me. And if you're going to do that, like take the kids with you to the donut shop, don't bring them back to the house or something. Right? Like, there would just be a way to communicate it because like, it just is really challenging for me if you're bringing it into the home and I'm really committed to this process right now and I don't wanna spoil your fun, so let's come up with a creative way that you guys can do that and I can have what I need. Because again, yeah. I feel like if they're, if you're wavering at all, I could totally see a spouse thinking it's still fun to bring donuts home cause it's so fun when we all eat donuts together. Right? So they're just gonna bring it if causw they can sense that wavering within you -

Rita Black: Right. Or they're gonna get pissed off because you're gonna say, stop doing that. You're blowing it for me. Versus you are saying this is important to me and I really need this. Do you know what I mean? Like, making them wrong about it rather than taking responsibility for your own boundary.

Nicole Tsong: Oh yeah. Absolutely. And I'll give another example. I decided this year that I was gonna stop working at four because I wanted to go to the gym at 4:30. My business didn't get smaller. Like I didn't have less to do for me to stop working at four versus five, which was my average, but I was just, my brain wasn't working in terms of the time when I wanted to eat at dinner and to go to bed. When I worked backwards, I was like, if I go to bed at 10, I need to be done eating dinner by seven, which means it needs to be cooked by six, which means 4:30 gym. Right? So I went all the way backward.

Rita Black: Yeah, I love that.

Nicole Tsong: So I was like, oh yeah. And so then I was like, oh, I need to be done working at four. And I looked at, you know, everything I have to do and I was like, that is going to be very interesting. But I was really committed to it because I needed eight hours of sleep. So I said, all right, I'm gonna do this. And I did and it was definitely a scramble. Like oftentimes I'm like working up to the minute and I like run to the gym. But once I committed to it, it's happened almost everyday since I've committed to it. Like it hasn't -

Rita Black: That's amazing.

Nicole Tsong: Yeah. And like my clients, they just had to move times. I just shifted everything and I made it a little different and then it was done. But it is that commitment to self. But I have like strong, clear boundaries with myself. I knew the reason why I was doing it and I knew the reason was really important to me, which was actually more sleep. So you know, I stuck to it and it's still to this day, my calendar's blocked till four and that's it.

Rita Black: Yeah. It's amazing when you start blocking time as well or getting really clear, your brain gets more focused so you do actually get more done.

Nicole Tsong: Totally. Yeah.

Rita Black: Interesting. So what are, if somebody was going to start working on perfectionism, boundaries, what would be the first step that you would have them embark upon? You know? Like what would be the, where do you start? When, if you were gonna say, okay, my life's all over the place. I don't have any boundaries, I'm a total perfectionist, I'm running myself ragged. Where would they start?

Nicole Tsong: Well, I would say the first thing to look at is what is it that's causing the perfectionism? Like what is it that's really starting to drive them to feel that? And boundaries to me is actually another way of us, it's sort of, it's what we talk about, is a way to kind of cover up what's really behind that, which is actually lack of self-worth. Or where are we tying our self-worth in? And so perfectionists tend to tie their self-worth to whatever it is that they're accomplishing or they're doing or achieving. So projects at work, could be a business, could be the role of spouse, the role of mother. And so when we're tying our worth into other things externally outside of ourselves, that tends to be when we get into perfectionist mode because we wanna prove that we're worthy of this life. That there's something here for us to like, oh, we matter. We deserve to be here. And so that's the heart of what I find with my women is like, how do we start to get to the really deep root of what that looks like? You know? I always love, we're recording this in the springtime and I love the springtime cause it's like, you know, if you ever, you know, weeded out some dandelions, if you don't get it all the way out to the very root, when you're pulling a dandelion out, what happens?

Rita Black: They come back. Right.

Nicole Tsong: They come right back. Right. And so -

Rita Black: I was just clipping dandelions on my lawn yesterday.

Nicole Tsong: Right? And you had a, and then you, they get so big and that root gets so deep, right?

Rita Black: Yeah.

Nicole Tsong: And you have to get them out. So the only way really is to get to that root. And so for me with women, it's like we start to look at really those issues of worthiness and we start to chip it away with really practical things like how do you start to like show yourself that you're worthy every day and taking care of yourself is one way. But there's also this deeper understanding of like, if you have spent your whole life giving your worth and value to accomplishments ,into achievements, which frankly most of us have done, you have a lot of work to start to dismantle that for yourself. Like why did you tie it to that? What have you been doing for it? And it can be a big challenge to start to really separate it. And the more we start to recognize that worth and value is tied up in something, out, external, then you actually can have this new clarity.

Nicole Tsong: You can have the recognition that you're doing that and then come back to what is actually true. What is actually true about your worth and value, like your inherent amazingness being on the planet, your gifts. And then what we do is we start to work into it. And I work with women on purpose because a lot of times we think our purpose is tied into our, what we're doing rather than a bigger picture of like, who are you that's this awesome human that has nothing to do with whether, you know, you got everything done on your checklist today.

Rita Black: That's amazing. And I do see that a lot and I'm sure you have and working in the yoga industry with weight and value and you know, so many people who are struggling with weight, that value, like I need to lose the weight in order to love myself, in order to be of value. Instead of, I have this term loving yourself down the scale, like owning, taking ownership for who you are today and just like valuing yourself because you can't set boundaries if you don't appreciate yourself and believe in yourself. So interesting. I mean, it's so layered, isn't it?

Nicole Tsong: I'm so curious. Well, can I ask you a question about that?

Rita Black: Sure.

Nicole Tsong: Yeah. Well, cause I always am curious, cause I feel like that's a perpetual challenge for all women. It's like body image and size related to value into worth, and with like people who are going into weight loss, like how do you, how do we do that? How do we balance, like saying, okay, is it like the purpose of the weight loss or how do you play with that? That side of like disentangling, allowing ourselves to be who we are and loving ourselves as we are and saying, Hey, I might want to like, you know, lose a little bit or a lot.

Rita Black: Well, I, I think for me it is and for, I look at it as a journey. And so much of the weight, what I call a weight mastery journey, not a weight loss journey or a weight release journey is about inner communication. That in the, when you get your inner communication and you get more clear with your own showing up for yourself in those moments when you, like you said, your boundaries, like there's so much to weight management, but a lot of what people get stuck in is a start over tomorrow cycle. Right. That is a, it is a communication issue that then has a shame response and a release response. And so a lot of that, just that inner workings of that system right there, that shame restriction, binge shame release. And then there's the overweight piece that comes along with that.

Rita Black: Those are so, you're dealing with the inner communication, but then you're also dealing with the outcome which is added weight, which then perpetuates and strengthens the need to lose weight, fill in control, and manage things. Right? So to be perfect and so much of the weight management world is be good on a diet, be perfect on the diet. And if you aren't perfect, I mean, I've had clients go as far as saying, you know, they've been on diets where it said, eat the red apple, but don't eat the green apple. And if you eat the green apple, you're, you know, like, you failed, you're off the diet. You know? So you're dealing not just with weight, but you're dealing with that internal, again, perfection and mechanism. So I really how, what I focus more on is like really developing what I call your inner coach versus the critic and the rebel.

Rita Black: You know, the critic and the rebel are very much like self-fulfilling prophecy of this, like the struggle. And then with regards to weight, it is fluid. Everybody comes to it differently. Everybody has different objectives. Some people wanna release weight only for health. They don't really care about what they look like in their clothes. Some people are much more you know, into fitness or looking really great. And so, I think it's important though to start from that place of like, I am whole and complete. Everything about me is great, but I have this goal. I wanna be lighter for whatever reason it is. And there's no objective to that. Like there's no problem with that. But I think when you make the outcome and the end game just losing weight, then the problem is you get to the weight loss and you haven't prepared yourself for continuing to keep the weight off. You haven't like created a lifestyle and an idea of yourself and lived into that idea that's different. So I write, I really focus people on not like, like weight loss, but more going on a journey and really creating a way of living that with exercise, with the way they feed themselves, but their environment as well that allows them to live at their best way and be their best selves. So that's a, you know, there's a lot of pieces to that puzzle, but I hope that I answered your question. Yeah.

Nicole Tsong: I mean I think it's interesting cuz I don't focus on the area of, and it's interesting to me cause I feel like it's all related, right? Like, how do we notice all those places? I think of it as outsourcing our value. So where do we outsource our value to the size of our bodies, right? Where do we outsource our value to what a partner thinks of us? Like this happens in dating, like I'm only as valuable as what that person thinks of me or how do I outsource my value? And this is, most of my women is especially with like, work, like, I'm only as worthy as the amount of money that I'm paid and the job that I have. But it applies to all of it, you know, and I was curious to ask you cause it's like, to me it all ties together.

Nicole Tsong: Like it's always, and it's really helpful sometimes to have it articulated because I don't think it's a conversation that we realize sometimes or you, and then your life transitions. And I get moms too and then they outsource their value to how good they are as a mom and they get into this very perfectionist mode around that. Or like, I have, I'm getting married soon and I have to watch where that might come in around the wedding. Like it has to be perfect. I mean, it doesn't, you know, it doesn't have to be perfect. And one of my friends the other day, he said, my favorite weddings are joyful, disorganized. And I was like, I don't love it. I'll take it. You know? And I think that's, but I think that's so true about life. Like why can't we just like allow ourselves like that joyful, disorganized, messy along the way? And that's where perfectionism like, it just prevents us to allow that messiness in life even though life is inherently messy. And so how can we like start to embrace the messiness a little bit more?

Rita Black: Yeah. And I imagine a lot of your clients, when they start creating those boundaries but also getting out of perfectionism, they find they're a lot more creative.

Nicole Tsong: Yeah, yeah. For sure. Oh yeah. Like, they'll tell me about the things that they're starting to create or they just also start to have dreams that get really big, you know, things that they hadn't really thought like sometimes get women who are going into retirement and they come up with these really cool projects for themselves. Like one of my clients is working on being like a style coach and creating a little course rehearsal, which is so sweet. And then another one used to be a competitive swimmer in college. And so her dream is to like teach master swimming and then eventually open her own aquatic center. And how cool, you know, like, but that's what really gets released when you can let go of the perfectionism or like a set way of how life has to go and you can actually just start to fulfill what it is that's gonna really be joyful for you.

Rita Black: Right. It is interesting because I think when people let go of a lot of the stuff around losing weight, they start to step into what could life be like for me? And they start to step into the dreams or the ideas of travel or being more, running a marathon or doing things that like never because they were so stuck in that, like have to be good, have to the small world. Like, it becomes so rigid.

Nicole Tsong: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And you just give yourself, you say, oh I get to play, I get freedom to play and to receive life in a totally different way. And it does become like, I like the joyful disorganized cause it's like, like don't we all just want more joy in our lives? You know? Like to feel free, to feel like I have the capacity and the ability to do whatever it is that makes me really happy. And a lot of times these constrictions, like whether it's like, you know, what your weight is or perfectionism and these ideas, like these constraints that we've built on ourselves, these handcuffs to say, oh okay. Like if I break free of those, what could my life actually look like?

Rita Black: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wonderful. Well listen, Nicole has a free workshop coming up. Please tell us about what this is and the dates and give us all this, I'm gonna be putting the link for this in the show notes, but tell us what you got.

Nicole Tsong: Yes. Well I am hosting a three-part series called Transform Your Relationship with Work Boundaries. So it's really around you starting to do this without feeling guilty or mean while you're setting your boundaries and really becoming masterful around feeling powerful and how you're setting your boundaries. And so it's a totally free series and it's really one of my most popular and impactful ones cuz we get to the heart of what is affecting your ability to set powerful boundaries for yourself and having and then putting them into play in your work life setting. So that one starts on May 11th and the way you can sign up for it is go.nicoletsong.com/boundaries. I know the link will be there as well, but that's a place to go check that out. So go.nicoletsong.com/boundaries and I would love to have you join me and we can release the perfectionism and step into powerful boundaries together.

Rita Black: Amazing. Well thank you so much for coming here today. And how long is the series each day? Just so people have a timeline, like how much they'll be setting the time?

Nicole Tsong: You go for a max around 90 minutes, so 60 to 90 for each of those days. And then there's recordings as well. So obviously you can watch those video.

Rita Black: So they'll get the recording too. So go into the show notes and get that. That sounds great. I'm gonna be showing up too. I mean, even if you aren't a career person, it sounds like something that you can glean the tools that you're gonna give us to create the, start to create boundaries in any part of your life, which I think is so cool. Nicole, you're so amazing. I'd love this. I love the, our conversation today. It was so enlightening. I really appreciate it. So thank you for coming on The Thin Thinking Podcast. We'll have to have you back very soon.

Nicole Tsong: Thank you so much Rita. Such a joy. So much fun to be here with you today.

Rita Black: Have a great day and have a great wedding. You guys, she's getting married Saturday. Well, whenever you listen to this. She's probably married.

Rita Black: Thank you Nicole. What a great conversation and make sure that you sign up for her Transform Your Relationship with Work Boundary Series. The link is in the show notes and I will see you there. Also, like I said earlier, please subscribe to the Thin Thinking podcast so that you never miss an episode. Have an amazing week and remember that the key and probably the only key to unlocking the door, the weight struggle, is inside you. So keep listening and find it.

Rita Black: Do you wanna dive deeper into the mindset of long-term weight release? Head on over to www.shiftweightmastery.com. That's www.shiftweightmastery.com, where you'll find numerous tools and resources to help you unlock your mind for permanent weight release tips, strategies, and more. And be sure to check the show notes to learn more about my book From Fat to Thin Thinking. Unlock Your Mind for Permanent Weight Loss.