When it comes to weight loss, one of the main places that many of us tend to target is our belly. We’re all familiar with the terms associated with “belly fat,” such as belly bloat, water weight or swelling. In order to try to “beat the float,” or trim down the excess weight around your midsection, you may find yourself doing hundreds of crunches a day, working out at the gym for hours on end, or endlessly experimenting with different diets in an attempt to lose the belly fat. Here’s the secret – water weight is real and it can live in your belly. However, if you’re attempting to get rid of it using conventional methods, you’re likely to end up frustrated. In this groundbreaking new video from IPEtv, Marc David, unveils the truth around water weight. Join us as we uncover the four common reasons why you’re most likely carrying around extra water weight and what you can do about it.

What is Water Weight and Why do We Hold Onto It? with Marc David - YouTube

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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings, my friends. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here’s what we’re going to talk about: what is water weight and why do we hold onto it? So the question is this thing we call water weight, is it actually real? How does it get there? And how do you let it go?

Now, I think this is especially compelling these days as so many people trying to lose weight. And so many people are trying to lose a handful of pounds from their belly. And usually when we are hanging onto water weight…By the way, water weight is real. We oftentimes hang onto water weight around the midsection, which is really around and inside and enervating all our digestive organs. So water weight is real.

Now, think of it this way. The adult human body is about 60% water. An infant body is about 75% water. Kind of what that means is we dry up as we age, so to speak. But that’s another story. That’s why it’s good to drink water. Now, many people are carrying around extra water in the body. And oftentimes we’re going to think of this as swelling. Many people call it bloating.

So here’s the deal. The body will literally hang onto extra water when it feels the need for protection or when it’s fending off certain organisms, certain bacteria, certain virus, certain disease conditions. There’s a swelling. Water brings metabolism. Water brings protection. Water brings cushioning.

Water helps organize so much chemistry in the body.

It’s a defense response.

Even emotions can cause us to retain more water. So when our emotional metabolism get stagnated, when I’m holding onto anger or fear or stress or resentment or anxiety and I’m not digesting it fully, it’s easy for that to show up in the body as bloating.

Now, once again, this is in part the body’s survival mechanism. It puffs us up to make us look bigger during a time of threat or survival. So when I’m feeling emotionally tense or scared, I hang onto water. Water is emotion. It’s going to puff me up. It’s going to make me look bigger.

But it also alerts us. Swelling and bloating is a divine symptom. It’s a smart symptom. It’s body wisdom saying, “Hey, check this out. You’re bloated. What does this mean?” Now, many people are carrying around extra water weight, again, that concentrates in the region of the gut. And they think it’s belly fat. And they’re trying to lose the last two or three or four or five pounds of belly fat.

For a lot of people, what they’re really carrying around is water weight.

Why? Here’s four of the common reasons why we could be carrying around water weight around the midsection. Number one, food allergies. So the most common food allergies, by the way, are gluten sensitivity—found mostly in wheat—corn, soy, dairy. Those are the big ones. Second, food sensitivities. They’re not exactly the same as food allergies. There’s a different mechanism in the body. But there are all kinds of different foods that might set us off.

Number three, gut dysbiosis. Oftentimes the healthy bacterial balance in our digestive tract, the gut microbiome, it can be disturbed because of antibiotic use, poor diet, not enough probiotic rich foods. That will cause bloating. Number four, stress. That’s going to cause bloating. We will literally just swell up in our midsection whenever there’s stress, anxiety, fear. Not everybody, but a lot of people.

So here’s a great idea. One great remedy is to go on an elimination diet. Look it up. Go on an elimination diet. Eliminate for just two weeks wheat, corn, soy, dairy. Get rid of the sugar. Get rid of the alcohol. Get rid of the caffeine. Let your body find its natural state. See what happens when you eat a very simple, easy-to-digest, hypoallergenic diet.

And last, my friends, once you clean up your diet, time to start cleaning up your inner world.

I want you to check in with your emotional metabolism. Check in with how you process what goes on in your inner world. What are you hanging onto that you’re not speaking, that you’re not releasing, that needs to be communicated? Where are you holding back the truth? Where are you holding back your authenticity?

Because when we’re holding back the truth, when we’re holding back authenticity, when we’re holding back the flow of truth and of life, we bottle up because water is a flow. And the water gets bottled up inside the body. And it’s going to bottle up inside the gut. Why? Because it gets your attention because nobody wants to have a big belly.

So all of a sudden you have to look and go, “Wow, what does this mean? What is it telling me? And it’s a symptom that says, “Look at your life. Look at your diet. Look at your inner world.” How perfect is that that bloating is teaching us to wake up and pay attention? Because when you start to do better food metabolism and better emotional metabolism, the body naturally cleans itself out. It finds its natural weight.

And that, my friends, is the magic of life.

Marc David

To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.


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Sarah, 32, feels her obsession with finding the right foods and having the ‘right’ body (which began when she was a teenager) is now taking up so much head space and daily energy, it’s got ahold of her. As the session unfolds with Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, we learn that this comparison and self-judgement stems from her teenage modeling days, during which she felt very real pressure from her parents and the modeling industry to be in a smaller body. Marc’s insights lead her to recognize that her big work will be about not just accepting the body she’s been given, but owning it. Sarah knows that this challenge spills over into other areas of life, such as her relationship with her fiance. Listen to this episode to hear Sarah’s full story, and the big breakthrough she is committed to practicing!

The Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #247 - Letting Go of Rules and Obsessions - YouTube

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Real people, real breakthroughs. This is the Psychology of Eating podcast, where psychology and nutrition meet to uncover the true causes of our unwanted eating concerns. Your relationship with food will never be the same. Now, here’s your host, Eating Psychology expert, and founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David.

Marc: Greetings everybody, I’m Marc David. Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here we are on the Psychology of Eating podcast, and I’m with Sarah today. Welcome, Sarah.

Sarah Hi, Marc.

Marc: I’m glad we’re here; I’m glad we’re doing this.

Sarah: Me too. Thank you so much.

Marc: Yay! So let me explain to viewers and listeners who may be new to this podcast how it works. Sarah and I are just meeting now for the first time, officially. And we’re going to spend an hour together, with you all. And you’re going to be in on our conversation as we look to help you move forward and get where you want to go.

So, Miss Sarah. Here’s my question for you. If you could wave your magic wand, and if you could get whatever you wanted to get from this session, what would that look like for you?

Sarah: If we could make miracles happen today, I would like to feel more confidence around my body. My body shape, my body size. And also just being calm around food. Eating food, what my choices are, feeling calmness. Those two things would be huge for me if I could tackle that.

Marc: Got it. So when you’re not being calm and collected and centered around food, what does it end up looking like for you? What’s your experience?

Sarah I become irrational. I’ll grab for things that I know won’t make me feel good. Maybe they’re easy, or I’m looking at what other people are eating. And then I go into this whole conversation in my head about; “Look at the size of their body, they’re eating that. I should be eating something like that. Is this going to be good for me?” It’s just a lot of internal dialog that is stressful. It takes a lot of my energy.

Marc: How long has this thing been going on for you, would you say?

Sarah: Probably since I was a teenager. But I don’t remember it being as bad as I was teenager. I feel like it’s just slowly gotten worse since then. Like it’s just progressed throughout the years.

Marc: How old are you now, Sarah?

Sarah: 32.

Marc: 32. Are there times that you end up overeating, or binge eating, or emotional eating?

Sarah: For sure.

Marc: Uh-huh.

Sarah I for sure feel like I binge eat from time to time. I feel like I did a lot in college. Because it seemed like it didn’t have consequences. I didn’t really gain weight from it. Nothing really happened from it. I don’t feel like I binge eat as much now. But yeah, there are certain times when I feel out of control when I’m eating. And I think, “I’m full, this doesn’t feel good any longer.” But I continue eating.

Marc: Mm-hmm. When does that usually happen? Does that happen for a particular meal? Particular time of the day? Could it be any time?

Sarah: It might not be for weeks, or it might be 2 or 3 times a week, but generally it’s going to happen in social settings. And usually if I’m doing it not in a social setting, it’s at night time. I’ve finished dinner, and I just kind of keep going back. I’ll either have two helpings of dinner, even though maybe I’m full from the first time, I can’t tell. And then I want to eat a sweet. And then I can’t even tell; “Am I actually craving a sweet?” I don’t know. I just feel the need to keep eating. But it’s usually after dinner.

Marc: Got it. And have you noticed times when you don’t do that. When your relationship with food seems pretty good, and you’re not having any issues. Are there periods like that for you?

Sarah: For sure. And it seems like the longer I have periods of that, it’s like that consistency makes me feel like I don’t need to binge. It’s like the longer I go without binging, the more I feel like I don’t need it. And if a random slip up comes, then it’s like, overanalyze. Why did this happen? But yeah, I for sure will have weeks. Maybe even months at a time where I feel like my relationship with my body and food is really healthy.

Marc: Mm-hmm. So when it’s healthy, how is life different? How are you different? What’s different, overall? Other than the fact that you’re not obsessing, that kind of thing. Is anything else noticeably different?

Sarah: I feel calmer. I feel like I’m in a better mood. I feel like I have a better disposition. Usually I’m in a good workout pattern; not too much, not too little. I’m meditating more regularly. It just seems like I’ve got a skip in my step and life just feels good and calm.

Marc: Mm-hmm. And then something happens; you get thrown off the horse a little bit, and you might go, “Ok, why did that happen?” Do you ever notice a pattern or an, “Oh, I’ve slipped up because umph.” Or. “I tend to slip up when this happens in my life. Or that happens.” Or you can’t really notice?

Sarah: It can be different things. Like I said, social settings are big triggers for me. I feel like there’s a lot of comparison between me and other females. I’m doing it in my head. I assume that my fiancé is doing it; comparing me to other people. And he’s probably not. So if we have several social times out, I feel like something like that could trigger it. Recently I’ve had a hip injury that has kept me from working out, and I felt like I was in a really good place until that happened. And I was fine for a few weeks into it; even a month. Telling myself I’m going to get better, I just need to rest it. And then two and three months of it, I can’t accept not working out. I have to also overeat, and eat bad. It’s like once I jump in and know that one wheel of the bus has fallen off, it’s like, “Well might as well just toss in the towel and start eating unhealthy too.” So that’s what’s thrown me off the past couple of months.

Marc: Got it. So you’re engaged?

Sarah: Newly engaged this year.

Marc: Congratulations.

Sarah: Thank you.

Marc: When do you guys get married?

Sarah: Spring of next year.

Marc: Yay! Good for you.

Sarah: Yeah, we’re really excited.

Marc: You going to want kids?

Sarah: I don’t know. We’re both kind of on the fence about that. So it’s something we’re just going to have to figure out and see if the urge strikes us in a few more years.

Marc: And is he local to where you are right now?

Sarah: Yeah.

Marc: Alright. That helps.

Sarah: Yeah.

Marc: So, do you diet?

Sarah: I used to. I haven’t dieted probably in 2 or 3 years. Actually, since I found out about the Psychology of Eating. I found you guys online. I kind of threw out dieting and threw out the scales many years ago. I try to go by what feels good. But yeah, I used to be on a strict diet. A different one every couple of months in my 20s. I don’t do that anymore. It doesn’t serve me. It’s too much energy.

Marc: And how does it feel now that you don’t do that anymore?

Sarah: Amazing.

Marc: Oh, good for you.

Sarah: It feels like I just dropped a 20-pound weight I had been carrying for forever and just, it feels so good not to be on a certain diet.

Marc: Have you ever had a direct conversation with your fiancé about; wait, let me ask this a different way. Does your fiancé have a decent understanding of what you go through in your relationship with food? Does he get it at all?

Sarah: He can listen. But I think because he doesn’t experience it, he just has a sympathetic ear. But I don’t think he gets it.

Marc: Sure. Sure. That makes sense. It’s hard for guys who aren’t really in the field, or who haven’t really taken the time to study this. It’s hard for them to understand what a woman can go through. Or a man can go through. Unless they really explore it. Have you had an honest conversation about how he feels about how you look and what your weight is and what your shape is?

Sarah: He’s always over the top. “I love you, I love your shape. You could be 300 pounds fatter. You could be any shape you are.” And it seems genuine, but it’s almost like the voice in my head is much louder, you know.

Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. But that’s good to know. It’s a good piece of information. Are you close with your parents?

Sarah: I’d say the relationship with my mom is a bit strained. I mean they’re 1000 miles away. We talk on the phone here and there. I love them. They love me. They’re not a daily part of my life.

Marc: Three sentences or less; why my relationship with my mother is strained is because…

Sarah: I find her to be judgmental and manipulative.

Marc: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: And toxic in my life.

Marc: Got it. Is she judgmental about your body, or your diet, or food?

Sarah: I briefly modeled as a teenager. Nothing big deal, but enough. I lived in Italy briefly. We flew around the United States a little bit for a few years, and she got very involved in it. I remember one time she signed me up for Weight Watchers and didn’t even tell me. And she took me. And I remember walking in, and I was actually underweight for my height. And the lady was so; “Sweetie, I’m sorry. Your mom has already left. Do you want to say that you’re shorter?” I remember that conversation, her asking me if I wanted to make my height shorter so that it would even out and make me weigh more for that height. So that I would be appropriate to be there.

I think they were very proud to say that their daughter was modeling. And for me, I felt at the time I just got to travel the world and meet cool people and go do cool stuff. I didn’t want to be on a diet. None of my friends were on a diet. So I don’t remember her being on my weight before then. Obviously, the modeling was a catalyst for her, and my dad, to monitor my weight. Because you know, sometimes I would get sent back from jobs, they’d say that I was too big. And my parents would be mad, like, “We flew you there.” Or, “We paid a lot of money for this portfolio.” Or, “We’re not going to fly somewhere next time if you can’t drop the weight that your agent tells you to drop.” So yeah, there was a lot of focus around my weight as a teenager. And I was thin; I look back now, and I’m like, “I was skinny!” I was a skinny teenager. I just wasn’t bone thin.

Marc: Sure. So when did all the modeling stop?

Sarah: 18, before I went to college. It was a really great job I had gotten. I remember I was flown to Cabo, and they wanted to send me back. My hips were too big. They were always very specific. My hips were too big, and they sent me back home. It was embarrassing. All my friends knew I was supposed to be out of town for this shoot for a month, and I had to come back for that. And I knew I was going to college, and not going to keep pursuing modeling, so that was it. After getting sent back. It was embarrassing to fly halfway around the world to get sent back because they told me my hips were too big. So I said no more. I’m like, this was just a fun thing. I traveled around. I didn’t have a career with it. So it stopped at 18 right before going to college.

Marc: And then how did your parents respond when you raised your hand and said no more?

Sarah They were fine with it. I don’t remember there being a lot of talk about it.

Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. How is it for you right now with me asking you questions about this particular part of your life? How is it landing for you?

Sarah: It used to be really uncomfortable for me. It’s not anymore. Now I can talk about it like it was a past time in my life. In my 20s, it was very shameful. Like, “Oh god, I can’t even pretend like I modeled. I didn’t actually model. I wasn’t a big deal.” So I didn’t want to talk about it. And I thought immediately if I threw that word out that people were immediately sizing me up. “Is she pretty enough? Is she thin enough?” And something clicked in me in my 30s that I have kind of let go of a lot of insecurities that I had. Turning 30 was kind of a magic age for me. And this is one of those topics, I’ve probably talked about it with less than 5 people in my life, but it’s not uncomfortable for me now.

Marc: Mm-hmm. That’s great. So, what do you think holds you back from having the relationship with food and your body that you want to have? This is just an opinion question. There are no rights or wrongs here.

Sarah: Yeah. I feel like because I stay hung up about comparing my body to other girls. I think if I could just be smaller, I would just feel more normal. I don’t feel normal. I’m taller. My hips are larger. I have wide shoulders. And then that relates to food. Then I feel like there’s a direct correlation to, I’m larger than 90% of women that I come into contact with. I’m physically larger than them, and that doesn’t feel good to be an outlier everywhere you go. And then my head makes sense of that with, if I can control my food, maybe my body could be smaller and I wouldn’t have to feel like this.

Marc: Mm-hmm. Got it. Got it. Got it. Makes perfect sense.

Sarah: Yeah, I think that’s kind of how it comes full circle and my brain explains it.

Marc: Mm-hmm. Understood. So tell me what you’re doing work-wise these days.

Sarah: I travel a little bit. I actually work for a medical device company. I teach people how to use cardiac monitors.

Marc: Nice. So do you get to travel internationally, or just in the country?

Sarah: Northeast.

Marc: That’s still good.

Sarah: Yeah, it’s fine. It’s meeting a lot of people, not doing the same thing every day. It’s stimulating. I enjoy it.

Marc: Do you get self-conscious about your body when you’re in your professional zone? Coming into a new situation, you go, “God are they going to think I’m this, or that, or too big, or too whatever?”

Sarah: Sometimes. Oddly, I find I get more insecure around the people I’m closest too. It seems like those are the people I should be the calmest around, but it’s people I don’t know. When I meet someone that I don’t know, like in a business setting, it’s like I can fake a confidence. Or it feels real. I feel like have more self-confidence around those people. Maybe I’m faking it and they can’t hurt me because I don’t know them and I’m going to be off this site in a week and I’ll never see them again. I don’t know if that’s what’s going through my mind. But I feel it more with people I’m more familiar with, actually.

Marc: Mm-hmm. So, here’s a thought. I just want to kind of play with this thought for a moment. I’m going to put it out here, and just see how this lands for you. The thought that I had is, there’s a part of you that hasn’t quite decided yet if this should be your body.

Sarah: For sure.

Marc: As if we have the decision. But just overall.

Sarah Yeah.

Marc: “I’m not so sure about this thing. I’m not so sure A) I like it. B) If it’s mine. Let’s look at hers. Let’s look at hers. Uh-oh; hers is this, mine is that.” It’s almost, it’s like you just haven’t decided if this is ok for you or not yet.

Sarah: That’s exactly right. Or I feel like it’s unfair. Why do I have to go through life that I always have to look for the largest size when I go places and they may or may not have it? That’s not fun. This girl over here, she might actually be overweight, whereas I’m not; but they’ll have her size. Because I’m structurally larger. Yeah, it’s like, I’m like, “Is this mine?” It’s like I’m still in denial that this was my lot.

Marc: Mm-hmm. Yeah. That to me quite honestly is where the action is for you. You know? I think at the end of the day, Sarah, it’s going to come down that at some point, you’ve just got to have a reckoning. It’s kind of like saying, “This guy, I’m going to marry him.” Technically speaking, there’s a lot of guys you could probably marry. Technically speaking, maybe you know them, maybe you don’t. Maybe you know a few other guys you could have married. I guarantee you there’s a lot of guys you could marry, but you picked that one. So you made a choice. You chose. Now when you choose something like that, “That’s my guy.” That’s it. Granted, not going to be perfect. There are other guys who are taller, shorter, richer, smarter, this or that. But that’s your guy. That’s your horse that you’re going with. That’s who you’re betting on for you. It makes perfect sense.

There are some certain choices like that in life, where we’ve got to choose. There are also these choices where we have to choose something that we already kind of was chosen for us in a weird way. Meaning this. I remember there was a day when I first realized, “Oh my goodness. I have these parents I’ve been bitching and moaning and complaining and judging them, and I’ve never actually chosen that, ‘Ok, you guys are my parents. I agree.’” The day that I said, “OK, these are my parents. I’m choosing them.” They’ve already been given to me. They’ve already given birth to me. I’m already in my teens. But I’ve been resisting it. So the day I chose, “Ok, these are my parents.” Everything shifted. The day that I chose, “This is my sister.” Everything changed. Because all of a sudden, I’m not fighting it. It’s kind of what life is doing anyway. I could resist that these are my parents. I could resist that this is my sister. But that’s kind of silly. On the one hand because it completely takes me out of reality. It takes me out of the game.

So all I’m saying is, here there comes a time for me and you and us when you’ve got to choose. You’ve got to choose, “This is my body. This is my size. These are my hips. This is my shape. This is my thing that I’m going to go through every time I walk into a clothing store. And that girl over there, she’s got 25 more choices than I do.” At some point, you’re going to have to choose that, and go, “I’m cool. I’m cool. Could be worse.”

So, easier said than done, I know that. I’m just telling you just as your older brother here on the journey; I’m just raising my hand and saying, given my experience in this realm, that is what is going to need to happen at some point for you to get where you want to go. And it’s that reluctance that we all have to choosing the body that we’re given. To choosing the parents, the whatever it is that we’ve been given. Is that reluctance that puts us in the pain and the suffering zone. So in a way, you will never be comfortable in your body. You will never be able to let go of, “All of a sudden I’m obsessing about food. I’m obsessing about dieting. Or I’m comparing myself to her.” You’ll go through times, like you’ve been, where it’s not going to bug you. Things are good. And then all of a sudden, there it is. And it creeps up on you. And it grabs you again. Because it’s reminding you. So your challenges around food and body are reminding you something; it’s pointing to something. It’s not like there’s something wrong with you. No. I’m looking at it as your relationship with food and body is here to teach you. It’s a great teacher. It’s a brilliant teacher. One of the lessons it’s here to teach you, and many of us, is at some point you’ve got to choose.

Sarah: You know, it’s a scary lesson, as well. Or an ugly thing to have, because it spills over into other areas. It spills over into intimacy, right? So if I’m not feeling good in my body then that affects that area, as well. It seems like it kind of doesn’t just sit in one box.

Marc: 100%.

Sarah: It spills over to other boxes.

Marc: And it will spill over into every box in some way shape or form, because the message you’re living with internally is, “I haven’t chosen myself.” You know what that would be like? That would be like if you were with a guy. If you were marrying a guy who was basically saying, behind the scenes. “Yeah, I’m marrying her. But I don’t really know. If I find something better I’d take it.” That would suck. Right? You would not want to be with that guy. You would not want your best girlfriend to be with that kind of guy.

Sarah: Yeah.

Marc: You would tell your best girlfriend; you would tell any woman that you care about, “Be with a guy who is choosing you.” You would tell your best guy friends that. “Be with a woman who is choosing you. Who is not saying behind the scenes. ‘I don’t know, there could be better. I like that one better.’” So in a sense, you’re saying that to yourself. You’re saying, “I don’t really choose me. I’m not really owning this. There’s better. I wish I had that. How do I do that? What’s she eating?” So that keeps us small. It keeps us, in a sense, it keeps you back to being a 15, 16, 17-year-old girl. It keeps you in that zone. Where you’re kind of a young teenager who doesn’t have herself yet. And right now, you’re not that teenage girl anymore. You’re in your 30s now. Tell me how old you said you were again?

Sarah: 32.

Marc: 32. So you’re in your 30s now, and this is the time to own yourself. This is the time to start to say, “There’s my guy. Here’s my profession. Here’s the work I’m doing, for now. Here’s where I’m going to live.” You’re defining yourself. Part of the self-definition that wants to happen is you choosing you. And this is going to be one of the hardest marriages you’ve ever done. But I promise you once you do it, you’re going to be very happy that you did. Because you’re being tentative about you.

Your fiancé is not tentative about it. He’s clear. Granted, you said, “Yeah, I hear what he says. He loves me no matter what. But my voice drowns out his voice.” That makes perfect sense to me, because that voice is loud. Here’s what I want to say to you. And I’m putting myself in his shoes. And I’ve been there. I’ve been with women who their primary relationship is with their eating disorder or their body image disorder. And they’re not sleeping with me, they’re sleeping with their disorder. So I come second.

Sarah: Yeah.

Marc: And it’s hard. It’s hard. It’s understandable, so there’s no blame there. But what I’m saying is that you will not be fully available to him, to you, or to life as long as this package is not what you’re choosing and you’ve got your eye on thinking you can choose her body, her body, or her body. Like that’s a possibility. So what you’ve gotten, what you’ve figured out is dieting sucks, so that didn’t work. It’s a miserable undertaking. It doesn’t really get you where you want to go. And if it would have worked, it would have worked.

Sarah Speaking of dieting. Like I said, I had tossed it many years ago until I had spoken an Ayurvdeic doctor for acne about a year or two ago. I’m sure you know..

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Jo, almost 40, starts off this episode by letting us know she truly wants to heal her relationship with food. We learn that it has been a life-long struggle to look a certain way. Her mother would hint that she needed to be skinnier, and she started dieting at age 11. From a nutritional standpoint, she has also noticed some shifts her body is calling for when it comes to diet. As a vegetarian for 20 years, she has recently been thinking she should re-introduce fish into her diet, and has become sensitive to some vegetarian staples, such as avocado. Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, gives her some practical changes to experiment with in her diet. Jo also comes away with new insights on how to continue celebrating her successes along the way, and grow into her queen by accepting herself with love and confidence.

The Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #245 - Ready to Heal Her Relationship with Food - YouTube

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Real people. Real breakthroughs. This is a Psychology of Eating podcast where psychology and nutrition meet to uncover the true causes of our unwanted eating concerns. Your relationship with food will never be the same. Now, here’s your host, eating psychology expert and founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David.

Marc: Welcome, everyone. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I am with Jo today. Welcome, Jo.

Jo: Hello.

Marc: Hello. Let me say a few words to viewers and listeners, and then you and I are going to jump in. If you are a returning visitor to this podcast, as always, thank you. I really appreciate you coming by. And if you’re new to this podcast, here’s how it works. Jo and I are meeting officially for the first time in this moment, and we’re going to spend 45 minutes to an hour together and see if we can move things forward for you Ms. Jo.

So if you could wave your magic wand and if you can get whatever you wanted to get from this session, tell me what that would look like for you, young lady.

Jo: What I would like is to heal my relationship with food, and what that means for me is being more relaxed around food and being able to regulate my appetite naturally so that I eat when I’m hungry, not when there’s food around. And I’d like to lose some weight as well because in the last 12 months or so I put on probably about eight kilos, and I would like to go back to the way that I was 12 months ago. So mainly so that I don’t have to buy all new clothes.

Marc: Yeah. Got it. So the weight that came on in the last bunch of months, why do you think that weight came on, if you had to guess?

Jo: See I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot because I don’t think I’ve changed the way I eat all that much. But as I’ve been reflecting on the past 12 to 14 months, I think quite a lot happened in my personal life, and whether it’s me not processing those emotions, I don’t know. That’s the only thing that I could think of.

Marc: So diet hasn’t changed for you much then?

Jo: Not really. No. I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for now three years, and that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing.

Marc: So when you say plant-based diet, are you vegetarian? Are you vegan? Can you be more specific?
Jo: Yes. I’m mostly vegetarian, so I eat eggs. I eat very little dairy. Very occasionally, I will eat some cheese, but generally I don’t. I still eat honey, but I don’t eat meat or fish.

Marc: And you’ve been eating like that for you mentioned three years?

Jo: So I’ve been vegetarian for 20, and then I dropped dairy about three years ago.

Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. And can you tell me how old you are?

Jo: I’m turning 40 in February.

Marc: Yay! What a great marker. What a great transition.

Jo: Yeah.

Marc: Yeah, it is. So vegetarian for about 20 years. So you started when you were 20 years old.

Jo: Yeah.

Marc: What inspired you?

Jo: I’ve never liked meat is the honest answer. Ever since I was little, I would always say no to meat—obviously, I ate meat when I was growing up when you’re fed by your parents and you don’t really have much control over what you eat. But as I was growing up, and I was able to choose my meals better, I would always say no to meat and I would just eat salad and whatever else there was.

Marc: Interesting.

Jo: And then later on, I think I stopped eating fish maybe 10 years ago, maybe seven years ago. So it was gradual as well.

Marc: Got it. So how long have you been trying to lose weight?

Jo: I’ve been trying to lose weight probably ever since I was a tiny baby. But in the last sort of three or four, maybe five years, my thinking about the whole thing shifted, and I turned more into like healthy eating and learning more about nutrition. And that’s where my focus has been. And it’s worked for me really well up until the last few months when I gained a lot of weight. Like 12 months ago, I was at a really comfortable weight. Like most women, I still would probably say that I wanted to lose another five kilos, but I didn’t have to. I felt comfortable. I felt confident. My clothes fit well. And then the weight came back.

Marc: So you’ve been trying to lose weight for a long time, since you were young. What got that in your head? How did that start?

Jo: I grew up with a belief that in order for me or any person to be liked or loved or successful you have to be skinny. And my mother, bless her, she tried to make me skinny like really hard. I think from an early age I never knew when I was hungry. If there was food in front of me, I would eat as fast as I could and as much as I could. Because anytime I would say, “I’m hungry. Can I have some food?” My mom would say, “No, because dinner is in like two hours.”

So I basically learned to eat as fast as I could and as much as I could. And then the whole dieting started. I’ve been prescribed some diet pills when I was I think 11 or 12 as well. So I was on that for some time. That didn’t really work that well. And then I got older. I was like in my teens. Then I would do all the diets I could get my hands on. So I tried the powders, the meal replacements, one egg for breakfast and then salad for dinner kind of thing. I tried everything.

Marc: I get it. What country did you grow up in?

Jo: Poland.

Marc: Grew up in Poland. Got it. And you’re living in England now, correct?

Jo: Yeah.

Marc: How long have you been living in England?

Jo: It’s going to be 14 years in January.

Marc: Wow. I have Polish blood in me.

Jo: Oh, do you?

Marc: My grandmother spoke Polish. Yes. Yeah.

Jo: Really?

Marc: Yeah, she was from the old country for sure. She spoke Polish. She spoke English. She spoke Yiddish. She spoke Russian.

So 20 years of vegetarian. Do you know what your blood type is by any chance?

Jo: Yeah, it’s group A, A+.

Marc: Yeah, that makes sense. By the way, for people tuning in, I ask that because in the blood type diet system, which is actually a very useful system for understanding some general nutritional proclivities, tendencies, needs. Oftentimes, people with blood type A, they seem to very naturally lean towards a non-meat or a vegetarian diet. It’s fascinating to watch, and they tend to fare well on that kind of diet compared to, let’s say, a type O who they seem to be more the natural meat eaters.

So, so, so. Are you a fast eater these days?

Jo: I’m a recovering fast eater. I have to make really conscious effort to eat slowly. It’s a process for me, and I basically learn this with every meal I have. I could say now that I’m probably moderate-to-fast. I’m still not moderate to slow, but it’s progress.

Marc: Sure, sure. That’s great. So you mention in the last year when you’ve had some of the weight gain here, yeah, there’s been some emotional challenges. Put the emotional challenges said. Put it to the side for a second. Has anything changed in this last year? Have you moved? Have you switched a job? Have you gone on any prescription drugs?

Jo: Yeah, I’ve changed jobs. I work as a contractor, so I work on interim contract. So I finished my last contract this time last year and then started new contract in March this year. But it’s pretty much the same job, just a different place.

Marc: Sure, sure, sure. Can I ask if you are on any kind of prescription medications?

Jo: Yeah, very recently, maybe for the last two or three months, I’ve been prescribed anti-reflux medication. But that’s because for a couple of years I felt like I had something stuck in my throat, so I went to the ENT doctor. And she looked in and she said, “I think it’s inflamed from the reflux.” So she gave that to me, and I don’t know if it’s making any difference. I’m going back to see her in January.
Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. Give me a quick idea of a typical breakfast for you.

Jo: I’m very much a savory person, so usually I would eat a couple of slices of bread with eggs, with like a fried egg, or I would have it with hummus. Yeah, that’s pretty much usually. Sometimes I’ll have some porridge with like peanut butter or some hemp seeds and maybe a few slices of a banana. But that’s pretty much what I would do Monday to Friday, and then on weekends we would maybe have an omelet or something like that.

Marc: And how about lunch?

Jo: Lunch, I usually bring in with me. So I take my lunches to work, and I would usually have some sort of greens. So like now, I eat a lot of kale or cabbage or whatever is in season. Then I would usually have maybe like a sweet potato or a little bit of black rice. And then I try to have some protein, so I would have lentils or maybe beans, also maybe some tofu or something like that.
Marc: And dinner?

Jo: Dinner is challenging because I find that I do quite well during the day with my meals and how I eat and what I eat. And I find that oftentimes when I come home in the evening, that’s my time to like, “Aah,” like relax and unwind. And I think I tend to overeat at dinner, but I would probably tend to eat pretty much the same that I would for lunch. So I would have some greens, some starches or some carbs, and some protein.

Marc: And if you overeat, you would just overeat. You would eat more of any particular thing?

Jo: No, if I overeat, I just tend to eat whatever is there until it’s gone.

Marc: Alcohol?

Jo: I don’t drink that much. Like I would have a glass of wine maybe if we go out to dinner maybe a couple of times a month.

Marc: How’s your sleep?

Jo: It’s good. I usually wake up a couple of times a night, but I don’t have problems going back to sleep.

Marc: Are you under a doctor’s care? Have you had any blood tests in the last year?

Jo: Yeah, I’ve had quite a lot of actually blood tests because a couple of years ago I think I did like a blood check-up. And they found that I was low on my white cells. So I’ve been going back every few months for a check-up. So they do all sorts of tests. And I’ve also done, on my own, I’ve tested for vitamin D. This time last year my vitamin D levels were literally on the floor. They were like so near to zero. So I’ve been on supplement for the last 12 months, and I got it re-tested a couple of weeks ago. And it’s still not within the good range, but it’s much higher on the bad range.

Marc: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Jo: Yeah.

Marc: Okay. That’s good to know. Did they talk about your blood sugar or your thyroid?

Jo: So I’ve done blood sugar last year as well, and it was normal. And I’ve done the thyroid hormones as well. And I’ve done one test that it came a little off. And then I had those repeated and it came back normal.

Marc: How’s your energy level?

Jo: It’s generally okay. I sometimes feel a little run-down. What I’ve noticed as well for myself when I’ve been playing with the food and experimenting with the food, I don’t do that well on wheat or like if I have… And I don’t do well with sugar. So I have no sweets pretty much whatsoever. I don’t eat cakes or cookies or anything. But I’ve been noticing it for years now that I don’t even eat that much fruit because I find I get that high for the first few minutes and then I get real lows even after I eat an apple.

Marc: Sure. So, interesting. You mentioned we. Are you in a relationship?

Jo: Yeah.

Marc: How long?

Jo: So four and a half years.

Marc: Married, living together?

Jo: No, we’ve been living together. We’ve been engaged for a couple of years now. We’ve been living together.

Marc: Congratulations.

Jo: Thank you.

Marc: How long did you know each other beforehand?

Jo: We didn’t. We just met and then we started dating and we went steady. So, yes, it’s four and a half years.

Marc: Do you guys have similar—how should I say—approaches to food and health? Is there a lifestyle match there?

Jo: So, no. My partner’s name is Tony, and he’s completely differently to me like totally. He’s your potato and meat kind of man. He’s Irish as well, so like all he wants is just potato and meat. He’s got such a sweet tooth as well. When we go out and we order dessert, that dessert always ends up in front of me because everyone thinks it’s the woman who’s going to eat chocolate. I’m like, “No, thank you.”

Marc: So how does he feel about your body? Does he care about the fact that you might’ve gained a few kilos? What does he say?

Jo: He doesn’t care. He keeps telling me that I’m beautiful and he loves me and he loves my body. He always says it like, “You need to put on more weight.” It’s like, “Nah.” He’s not bothered.

Marc: Are you close with your mom?

Jo: No.

Marc: Okay.

Jo: Not really.

Marc: How is her relationship with her body and her weight?

Jo: My mom, she is super skinny, like super skinny. I think where it started for her, I found out only recently when she was in—I think it was in high school. She was told by one of her teachers that she was too chubby or something, and then she went and lost a lot of weight when she was maybe 17. And she kept that weight off, and she is very controlling when it comes to food. And she’s very restrictive. Yeah.

Marc: Got it. So when are you going to get married?

Jo: Well, we were meant to get married September gone, so three months ago we were meant to get married. But then Tony got really sick November last year, so we had to postpone it. So we don’t have a new date yet.

Marc: Mmhmm. Understood. So is that part of the emotional challenge of this past year?

Jo: I think so. I think it was one of the big things that was meant to happen and didn’t happen.

Marc: Got it. Anything else you want to share about the last year that would feel good and okay and safe to share now about what’s been happening for you?

Jo: So, yes. We had to postpone the wedding. Tony got sick. He’s okay now. He’s on treatment and everything. But it was scary at the time. And then my best friend broke up with me. So one of the relationships in my life fell apart. I think the other thing that has been quite big in my life in this year is that I think I came to realize that I’m not going to have kids because I am hitting 40 and Tony’s older as well. With him being on treatment, it’s unlikely that it would happen. So I think, for me, it’s a big part of what I need to process or let go of or grieve maybe even.

Marc: Had you planned on having kids in your mind?

Jo: Oh, yeah. Like in my mind, I was married and had two kids by the time I was 30. So not hitting that target.

Marc: Yeah. That’s big. That’s a big life let-go, for sure. Okay. I could keep going, but I think I’ve got a lot of good information. And I appreciate you answering all of my questions. I really do. So I’d love to put together some of my thoughts here, and we’ll take it from there and see where we get to.
I’m going to start with big picture first. And I’m going to say to you that usually in conversations like this I’ll have a pretty good idea of why I think a person has extra weight on their body or they put on weight. Usually, it’s not that difficult to kind of narrow down. I’m not so sure for you. I’m really not so sure for you. And that’s not a bad thing, by the way. It’s not a bad thing. I’m going to mention to you some possible factors that I see going on.

Here’s a possible factor number one. You’re turning 40, and you’re 40-ish.

Jo: 39-ish.

Marc: 39. Okay. You’re turning 40. Got it. So that’s a big transition. It’s a big transition emotionally. It’s a big transition personally. Physiologically, I’ve noticed the same thing. I have no research to back this up other than observation, but I am convinced that especially when people turn 40 there’s a physiologic shift. There’s an internal shift. And whatever that shift is, for sure the inner shift that I’ve noticed is that there’s a part of us that incarnates at 40. There’s a part of us that’s born at 40. It’s sort of like the adult in us. It’s sort of like our voice comes through like never before. Who we really are starts to come through like never before.

It’s also a change place because you’re not in your 30s anymore. There’s something about the 30s. It’s a certain kind of youth. And 40 marks a different phase. It’s a different adult phase, and it’s also this thing where arbitrarily we say, “Whoa, if I’m hitting 40,” then for a woman it’s clearly like, “Wait a second. Is that too late for kids?” It’s right at that moment, really. And it is a big transition for you, given what you’ve been going through, given your partner’s health scare, given that you had big plans for a wedding. That’s huge. And also seeing that, “Whoa. Wait a second. Given the situation, my age, his age, where he’s at, where we’re at, it doesn’t look like kids are going to happen.” So that’s a lot.

It probably feels like a lot to you or maybe not, but I’m saying from over here, from outside looking in, that’s a lot. That’s a lot of life to digest. So to me, it would not be unreasonable for the body to gain weight for no apparent reason. If you tell me I’m eating the same and this weight comes on, usually what that means is that there’s a physiologic change happening in somebody’s body. Like, “Wait. I’m doing everything the same,” and now here’s this weight gain or, for some people, weight loss. Like, whoa.
So usually, it’s a physiologic shift in the body which happens. Sometimes we just change. The body just changes, and it doesn’t let us know. It doesn’t give us an email in advance. It just shifts. That’s a possibility for you. But also, when we have powerful life transition, sometimes the body responds by putting on weight. It’s a way to help us ground. And it’s just what the body does. It grounds us. It protects us. It keeps us more here in a certain way.

There’s another piece of the puzzle that I want to put into the mix that I don’t know if it’s true for you or not. Oftentimes, what happens is for a vegetarian diet, let’s say, for most humans a vegetarian diet, it tends to be what I call a genetic experiment. And I’m not knocking being a vegetarian. I was a vegetarian for many, many years. You don’t come from a lineage of vegetarians. Your ancestors were not vegetarians. So when you become a vegetarian, you are taking a genetic hard right or hard left. You’re going in a whole different direction.

Sometimes the genetic experiment works and sometimes it doesn’t. Again, this is with any kind of diet, whether you become a vegetarian or raw food, a meat eater. I don’t care what it is. Anytime you do something different than your genetic history, it’s an experiment. And it’s fine. I love experiments. So oftentimes, what can happen is certain diets have a timeline on them. And a diet might work for us for five years, 10 years, 20 years, however long. And then all of a sudden, body shifts, body changes, and we change.

So that’s a possibility. Do you ever find yourself craving more meat, more protein?

Jo: That is so interesting what you just said because I found in the last few months, maybe a year even, I’ve been really thinking of going back to eating fish. And I’ve been really thinking or feeling that I’m struggling with protein sources. So, yeah. So I’ve been considering going back to eating fish.

Marc: Yeah. So what I would say… And again, if you’re tuning in and you’re listening into this right now and you’re a vegetarian, don’t be mad at me. I love vegetarians. I love meat eaters. I love everybody when it comes to food and diet. I might not like what they eat all the time, but it’s all about what works and what doesn’t. And we have to be smart scientists. We have to be smart clinicians. We have to be smart observers, plain and simple. So I understand all the great reasons why one would be a vegetarian. They’re awesome. In fact, my bias is that the world eats too much meat. That’s my bias.

And for you, given what you’re saying and given that you’ve been thinking about this and considering it, that tells me that it’s your body wisdom kind of talking a little bit potentially. So from the standpoint called, “Huh. Maybe she’s having a physiologic shift,” which happens to people. We change. We get older. At different age group, at different times in your life, you could be all of a sudden more sensitive to foods you were never sensitive to.

Jo: Yeah, that happened to me as well because there are three foods that I really can’t eat which is avocado, poppy seeds, and pineapple that I’ve never had problems with them. And then, I suddenly started having problems with them. So eating a plant-based diet and not being able to eat avocado is a lot of times it’s difficult.

Marc: That’s too bad. That’s my favorite kind of like substantial food. When I was a vegetarian, I probably had six avocadoes a day, so I understand. So this is telling me more and more that your body is shifting. So from that evidence, from that data that you’re presenting to me, I’m considering this an experiment. I’m considering your life an experiment, our nutrition as an experiment. It’s useful to say, “Okay. Well, here’s what’s happening. Oh, my goodness. Yeah, I can’t eat avocadoes anymore. I can’t eat pineapples. Can’t eat poppy seeds. Huh. Some weight is coming on. Huh. I’ve been thinking about going back to fish. Huh. I’ve been having problems with protein sources.” And then when I know your lineage and I know Eastern Europeans were—we ate meat.

Jo: That’s so true.

Marc: I would be interested to see you as an experiment for six months having more fish in your diet if that feels right for you. See if you could do it once a day. And start to notice what the difference might be. I’m also wondering where fat in your diet comes from. Where would you say you get fat from?
Jo: I get fat from olive oil. I use olive oil on all my salads. I use coconut oil for cooking. I eat probably too many, but I eat nuts as well. I snack on nuts.

Marc: Okay, great.

Jo: So nuts and seeds as well.

Marc: So I’m interested for you to start doing fish once a day and just begin to see if that makes a difference. If I was getting paid 10 million dollars to help you lose weight sustainably, I’d probably want to focus on increasing the amount of protein in your diet and, ideally, introducing a non-plant source base of protein, either meat or bird or fish. That’s what I would experiment doing. Just for the heck of it. Just because it makes sense. Just because it can work. It’s a good bet.

So I’m going to guess for you—and this is an educated guess—that there’s probably a number of factors going on for you that’s contributing to the weight gain. And I think part of it is personal. Personal, emotional. What..

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Amy has reached out to Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, in regards to her 9 year-old son, Xander, who has a complex, picky, and troublesome relationship with food. Marc explains the possible reasons for Xander’s anxiety around controlling what he eats. Amy learns what it could look like to support her son, while not trying to fix him. In Marc’s words, he is a sensitive, interesting soul, he is complex, and he is whole. He is not broken. In turn, Marc invites Amy into a new strategy of being curious with her son, in a way that will support him to manage and grow through his experience, as opposed to both of them being stuck in the spinning wheel of “what’s for dinner?… I don’t want that”.

The Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #243 - A Mother Helps Her Son with Food Concerns - YouTube

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Real people. Real breakthroughs. This is a Psychology of Eating podcast where psychology and nutrition meet to uncover the true causes of our unwanted eating concerns. Your relationship with food will never be the same. Now, here’s your host, eating psychology expert and founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David.

Marc: Welcome, everyone. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We’re back in the “Psychology of Eating” podcast, and I’m with Amy today. Welcome, Amy.

Amy: Thank you, Marc.

Marc: I’m glad we’re here. Amy, let me just say a couple of words to viewers and listeners before you and I jump in. So, if you are a returning visitor to this podcast, thank you so much. I so appreciate you. I so appreciate you being part of our world. If you’re new to this podcast, Amy and I are meeting officially in person for the first time right now. And we’re going to be spending about 45 minutes to an hour together and seeing if we can make some good magic happen.

So, Miss Amy, if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this session, what would that look like for you?

Amy: Tools for helping my 9-year-old son not be so worried about eating.

Marc: Tools for helping your 9-year-old son not be so worried about eating. Tell me, what’s going on with him? What does it look like?

Amy: Um, he’s a very picky eating. Which is not new or different, but he tends to like something for a little while and then not like it. To the point of, I’ve provided a meal, he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t know what he wants, and he’s just not going to eat. And he will do that all day long. He’s hungry, but he doesn’t know, and even if I give him two options of things I know he likes, he’s just kind of not excited about food. Unless it’s chocolate or chopped Ramen.

Marc: So, he’s not excited about it, and give me more information. So, will he refuse to eat?

Amy: Yes. He refuses to eat. It’s confusing, because he eats well. I do meats, I do vegetables. He doesn’t like any spices or sauces on things. So, when I’m preparing meals for the family, I’m cooking meat and setting his portions aside and then adding spices and whatever I do to ours. He gets tired of chicken, because he’s always eating plain chicken or plain steak. And so he gets tired of it. But that’s just what he wants. He’s not adventurous when it comes to food. And even if he’ll try something and say, “Oooh, I kind of like this,” then the next time you’re like, “Ok, we found something new you liked, let’s go eat it,” he just is like, “No, never mind. I don’t like it.” And I don’t know at what angle I should be forcing him to eat new things or not or how do I get him interested in food.

Marc: Interesting. What was the last thing you said? “How do I get him interested…?”

Amy: In food. In nourishing himself beyond… I cook for people. I feed tons of people, and they love it, and I can’t feed my son.

Marc: Uh huh. Do you have any other kids?

Amy: I have an older son who’s 16, and he eats anything.

Marc: Uh huh. And how does your older son and your younger son get along?

Amy: Very well. They have their differences. They’re six years apart in age, so one is in high school and one is in grade school. So they have things there that they get under each other’s skin. I guess the little one wants to be like the big one and it’s not possible. But I would say in the last 6 months to a year, things have gotten better, because I’ve encouraged the older one to be more of a, not a father figure, but a better…

Marc: A big brother.

Amy: A big brother, yeah. A really big brother. We lived in Italy, and we moved, and that was a little bit traumatic. And then, their father decided to move back there, and we are divorced now, so I don’t know if that has a bit… My son, the little one, he wasn’t a very interested eater to begin with. So, I don’t know if that could’ve compounded that, but it just seems like it’s getting worse. I assumed that eventually he might be interested in food, and he just seems to be getting worse.

Marc: Uh huh. So, right now your two boys live with you?

Amy: Yes.

Marc: Mmhmm. How often do they see their father?

Amy: It depends. The little one saw him for 5 weeks this summer, and before that he saw them in the November before. Not often, and not regularly.

Marc: What’s your younger son’s name?

Amy: Xander, with an x.

Marc: Xander, ok. So, when did all this food stuff start with Xander, that you could notice or recall or remember?

Amy: At about 2 years old, he would start asking me what was for breakfast. The night before, he would ask me what was for breakfast, and I thought, “Ok, I can tell him.” And then he’d be like, “Well, I don’t want to eat.” And this is until the next day. And then we’d have breakfast, and he would eat stuff. He would want to know, as soon as breakfast was over, “Well, what’s for dinner?” And I would tell him what I was making for dinner, and he was like, “I don’t want to eat. I don’t like it.”
And it was like he would worry about it all day. Like, “I really don’t want to eat that tonight, Mom.” So, then I stopped telling him: “Xander, I don’t know. I haven’t decided.”
“Well, if it’s this then I’m not eating. So, I didn’t know if telling him was a good thing or not telling him was a good thing.

Marc: Got it. Does he have any other health issues?

Amy: No.

Marc: No asthma?

Amy: No.

Marc: No digestive issues?

Amy: No.

Marc: Ok.

Amy: When he was a baby, he had a hard time pooping, and I found that eliminating milk—me stopping eating milk—helped that. And so, I don’t have him drink milk now. Rarely does he get cow’s milk.

Marc: Was he born in the United States?

Amy: No, he was born in Italy.

Marc: Was he vaccinated there?

Amy: No.

Marc: Where was he vaccinated?

Amy: He hasn’t been.

Marc: Oh! Was that a choice of yours?

Amy: Yes.

Marc: Good for you. Ok, that’s actually very helpful for me. Were you a vegetarian when he was younger?

Amy: No.

Marc: No, ok. Ok. What’s his birthday?

Amy: June 9, 2007.

Marc: June 9. He’s a little Gemini.

Amy: Yeah.

Marc: Ok, ok. And tell me how old your older son is again.

Amy: Sixteen.

Marc: Sixteen, ok. How was your relationship with their father when Xander was born?

Amy: It was very good.

Marc: Mmhmm.

Amy: We were very close, and we were on the same page as far as—I had him at home, which in Italy at this point, they don’t do it, have babies at home. And his father delivered him, and we didn’t vaccinate; we didn’t circumcise; we just wanted to be natural. We eat really healthy. At first, we were eating all the breads and pastas there, but then we decided to cut back, because we were eating that a lot and felt heavy from it. And so, when we did come back, that helped the entire family, I feel, have a little bit more energy, noticeably. And, culturally, things just started to fall apart and change him. He is an American, he was here 20 years, and we were really on the same page as far as raising our older son. And then, I feel, when Xander was about 3, things started to fall apart. And so, eventually, I moved them back here, and that seemed to do well for all of us. And then, their father decided to move back to Italy. So.

Marc: Got it, got it, got it. Ok. Does Xander know what he wants to be when he grows up? Does he ever say that?

Amy: An actor.

Marc: He wants to be an actor, very interesting!

Amy: He’s a dancer; he’s an entertainer. He loves people, and he’s not shy in front of adults or anything. He’s an amazing entertainer.

Marc: Ah-ha! Interesting. And how does he do in school?

Amy: He does well. He’s not head of the class, but he’s just average. He keeps up. He’s very good at speaking up and being a part of class—participation. I work in the class every other week, and I get to see him and how he interacts. And the teachers always love him. He’s a very strong personality, and he’s more a leader type. His favorite thing last year was that he got the whole playground, all the kids on the playground, to do the cha-cha line around the playground. He’d been working on it for weeks, trying to get everybody involved, and finally one time he did. So, the teachers were like, “He’s going to be a leader. Whatever he does, it’s going to be amazing.”
He doesn’t change focus very well.

Marc: Is he sensitive to smells, perfumes, odors?

Amy: Not that I’m aware of. I don’t wear stuff.

Marc: No, he would say so.

Amy: Ok.

Marc: Is he sensitive to texture?

Amy: Eating-wise. Yes.

Marc: No, on his skin.

Amy: No, on his skin, no.

Marc: Ok. And he eats meat? Different kinds, sometimes?

Amy: Yes.

Marc: Understood. Ok. I’m just kind of putting this all together in my head to have some thoughts. Who does he remind you of, in your family? Or, does he remind you of anyone in your family?
Who does he take after?

Amy: His dad.

Marc: Really! Is he aware of that?

Amy: Yes.

Marc: No, when I say “he,” is Xander aware that, “Oh, you’re just like your dad!”

Amy: Yeah, um, probably not. I mean, no. It’s not something that I like to say, honestly.

Marc: I get it. I think I understand. One last question. He’s 9 years old now, correct?

Amy: Mmhmm.

Marc: Has he ever had any kind of blood tests?

Amy: No.

Marc: Ok. Ok. So, I’ve got some things I want to say.

Amy: Ok.

Marc: There’s a subset of children who exist in the world, who do what your son does, when it comes to food. They’re picky; they worry about it; they’re planning it; they’re thinking about it; they can get obsessed about it; they change their mind: “I like this, I like that. This is too this, I don’t want to eat it. I don’t like the spice. I don’t like this. I changed my mind.” And it’s exactly as you’ve described. And sometimes worse, sometimes not as bad. Sometimes it can get very intense. Here’s what I believe happens. I think there’s a number of key reasons why children can be like that.

One of the reasons that a child can have this interesting relationship with food, where they get extremely specific about it, is because of a trauma. So, that trauma oftentimes is the trauma of vaccination. It is the trauma, it could be, of certain drugs taken in pregnancy or in infancy that impact the nervous system, that end up affecting a child’s development. And what happens is they are living with a stress, and they perceive stress, they know they have a stress. And children quickly learn that when you have a stressor that’s living in your system—which, they don’t even think these things—but you immediately try to control. Whenever there is something out of our control—my anxiety, my fear, my stress, my uncertainty—you try to control something, symbolically. And the one place children can control is food. “I don’t want this. I don’t want that.” He’s in control.

So, on one level, it’s as simple as that. It’s his way of having control, not because he’s a “control-freak,” but because there is a place where his system feels stress, anxiety, fear. So, if it wasn’t caused by an actual birth trauma or birth event or drug event or vaccination even—and those are common, by the way—what I’ve also noticed, interestingly enough, if there’s a lot of tension in the house, if there’s tension between the two parents, that the child will absorb. They don’t even know what’s going on. They wouldn’t even know to say, “Mommy and Daddy don’t get along.” But kids pick up on stuff. So, that’s why I was asking about your relationship. I was just trying to get a sense of like, “Wow, might he be picking up on something?” We’re not going to know for sure.

Here’s another piece. Another piece is, certain souls just come in, and they’re sensitive. Certain souls come in, and there are certain things we have to handle in our early years. And it’s inexplicable, and you can’t ever know for sure why, but there’s certain things we just have to help our children grow through. I am going to guess that this is probably where Xander falls into. It’s just his soul, and whatever he’s come in to learn in this life and do in this life and be in this life, at the beginning stage, he’s an interesting little cookie.

You know? He’s not a typical little kid. He’s an interesting cookie. He’s had an interesting little life, and he’s lived in a few different countries, different cultures. He’s been exposed to different things. He has two parents that care, that care about his health, that are present for him, that are tracking him. And he’s probably a complex soul, an interesting soul, a soul that has some things to learn that we can’t quite understand right now. So, give him that. That’s where I would land with this, if this was my son.
Given that, then the question becomes—the very good question, which is why we’re in this conversation—what do you do now? Given all this information, what do you do, from a practical standpoint? So, I’m going to give you some advice.

Amy: Thank you.

Marc: I’m going to give you personal advice here, and this comes from being a father. You know, I’ve raised a kid around food; I’ve been around other kids with food. I’ve dealt with this a lot. And, in many ways, I was probably Xander when it comes to my relationship with food when I was his age. So, I want to suggest a two-pronged approach for you. And I’m going to warn you in advance that these two prongs are going to sound very different. But it’s still part of a system, and I will explain.

So, the first approach of the prong is, I want you to stop fixing him. I want you to stop looking at him like there’s something wrong with him. I want you to stop looking at this like there’s something you are doing wrong. Ok? He’s not broken; you’re not broken; nobody’s broken. There is nothing to fix here. We’re not looking to fix this; we’re looking to go with it. We’re looking to work with it; we’re looking to be with it. Because as soon as you try to fix something that ain’t broken, it gets ugly. It just gets a mess, and nothing gets fixed, because nothing’s broken. And things get weird, because you’re trying to fix something that ain’t broken. And it just gets weird. And it’s not going to work.

So, what I want you to consider is that you as the parent are here to help him grow through this. And grow through it means grow beyond it. The way you help somebody grow through an eating challenge like this is you get into their world. And you don’t make their world wrong. And you get as curious as possible about all the little details. “Oh, you don’t like this, and you don’t like that? Wow, that’s interesting! Because I remember, well, it was two days ago you said you really liked this! I’m just fascinated to know, Xander. Just, I really want to know. Like, what happened? What changed for you? I’m just interested.”

The less you could react, the better. The less you could look at it that something’s wrong, the better. “Oh, wow! Yeah, we’re going to be having chicken tonight. You don’t want to have chicken? This is interesting; that’s what I bought. I’ll tell you what. You know, see how you feel in the evening. You might change your mind, and you might not. Understandably, if you change your mind, I’m not going to hold that against you. I get it. Maybe we’ll throw something else together for you, maybe not. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, but let’s just see how you feel then.”

So, I want you to try to not make him wrong for his behaviors. I want you to try to go with them. And I know you’ve probably been doing that. But there’s also a little part of you that’s trying to fix this. Or fix you. So, I want you to stop fixing it, because there’s nothing wrong. This is what he has to grow through. Different kids go through different challenges in early parts of their life. There will be a time in his life when he won’t even remember this. And if he does, it’ll be like, “Oh, oh yeah. Right.” And it’s not going to be an issue.

So, it’s not going to damage him. It’s not going to mess him up. This is something he is learning. He is learning how to manage his world by having an interesting relationship with food. He’s using food to express his tensions. He’s using food to have some kind of control. He’s using food to create intimacy. Why? This creates dialog. Mommy’s got to keep an eye on him. Mommy’s got to do this. Mommy’s got to do that. Mommy’s got to cook something else. Mommy, Mommy, Mommy. So, it actually keeps him connected to you. It keeps you in the game with him. He’s a little scared. He gets a little nervous, and it’s this interesting part of him.

So, what I’m going to say is there’s nothing wrong, and he’s going to grow out of it, and your job is to A) not make him wrong, to B) not see this as something deficient or needs to be fixed. This is something that you’re helping your child with so he grows stronger. And it’s not about food. Even though it’s about food. What’s going to happen is because your profession is about food, and this whole conversation is about food, it seems like it’s food! And it is, on one level. It is, it is, it is. I’m not denying that it’s not. But it’s really not. On a deeper level, it’s not about food. So, I need you to remember that. Deeper level: not about food. Deeper level: this is him learning how to regulate and manage his experience. He is trying to regulate and manage his experience of life. He gets nervous. He needs to plan shit. He needs to know what’s going to happen. He needs to know. He needs to think about stuff. He needs to mull over stuff. And he does that through food.

Maybe he does that in other parts of his life, but food is the place where he can do it where he gets a bunch of attention. And in part, it brings him attention. That’s another piece; he just needs attention in this way. He needs attention: “I want to make sure I’m on your radar.” So, part of it’s attention.

Amy: That makes sense.

Marc: As simple as that. Next strategy. We talked about a two-pronged approach. The first prong is you love and accept him. You get that there’s nothing to fix. You get that he’s not broken. You get that this is something I am helping in grow through, and there will come a day when this is a distant memory, and it’s so not an issue.
And then you’re going to say to yourself, “Man, I wish I didn’t worry so much.”

Amy: Right.

Marc: You with me?

Amy: Yes.

Marc: Yeah, you are. So, here’s the next prong of the approach. It’s going to sound a little different, but it’s not. I want you to have your boundaries. I want you to have boundaries. I want you to have places where you draw a line. Ok, so it’s dinner time. He said he was ok with—fill in the blank—chicken. You served chicken, and he goes, “I don’t want it.” I want you to have moments where you draw a line. You go, “Ok, listen. Xander, I’m kind of done in the kitchen today. I’m going to tell you, as your Mama, I love cooking, and sometimes, I’m just like, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to cook anymore. I’m cooking for all these different people here. And it’s a lot. And I’m your mother, and that’s part of my job, but also, I’m tired. I don’t want to make another meal. So, I understand if you don’t want to eat this meal. I prefer you not go hungry, but if you’re going to go hungry, that’s fine. I don’t want to force you to eat something you don’t want to eat. So, it’s up to you. But I’m not going to make anything else.”
I want you to have those moments where you draw a line. Have you ever done that before?

Amy: Yes.

Marc: What does he do?

Amy: He’ll go to his room, sometimes fall asleep, then he eats in the morning. Or he comes out at bedtime, “I’m hungry. Can I please just have a banana?” He has in his head what he wants, then. And he’ll ask specifically for something. And sometimes I’ll allow it, and sometimes I won’t.

Marc: And why wouldn’t you allow it?

Amy: If we got all the way to the dinner table with him being ok with what we were eating and then suddenly say, “No,” then the food that I am presenting is catered to him. It does not have sauces or spices or anything extra, and I feel like there are situations where it’s not about the food. He’s pulling a stunt. Maybe that’s his, as you say, his call for attention. And sometimes, I say, “Look, I understand this may not be your favorite thing to eat, but it’s not unpalatable. It’s not gross; it’s not something new and strange. It’s exactly what you like to eat, and you can eat some of it.” And if he still refuses, then a banana later is the wrong message. So, I’ll refuse it. If I’ve made something different and he’s tried a bite and refuses to eat the rest, and I know that there’s things in there—it’s not overwhelming and shouldn’t be that big of deal—and he still chooses to go to his room, I’ll allow that. And then, when he comes out and wants a banana before he goes to bed, I’ll give it to him. Because he at least tried a bite.

Marc: Ok, great! I think it’s great. I love what you’re doing. I think that’s perfect. I’m glad you’re drawing lines with him, glad you’re creating boundaries. I think that’s exactly what’s needed. And what you just described, I think you handle A+. I really do. Because you have to create your adult rules. Because, guess what? You’re the adult. You’re in charge here. You’re the mama. What you say goes. When he’s living out of the house, he can do what he wants. When he’s living in your house, I’m sorry, but it’s your rules. That’s just the way the system is set up.

I have told my son that time and time again, from the beginning. Whenever he objects to my rules, I’m like, “Yeah, they’re my rules, but these are the rules of life, young man. You are the kid; I am the adult. You live by my rules. Why? Because I’m the guy that brings in the money. I’m the guy that provides this house for you. I’m the guy that drives you around. I’m the guy that buys you all this nonsense and protect you and takes care of you. So, you live by my rules, ’til you’re on your own. That’s just how it is.”

Amy: Yeah.

Marc: Boys understand that, by the way. You tell that to a boy, they actually get it.

Amy: They like the—

Marc: What?

Amy: They like the lines.

Marc: Yeah, they do! They really do! They do. They need those lines. They need those boundaries. They need to know what the rules are, and they will push you and test you. And as long as the father is not consistently around, you will have to play mother and father. And this is a time when you have to play father. When I say “play..

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Is it ever too late to achieve your dreams? In this session, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, guides Karma through a journey of discovery around what is possible for her at this point in life. At age 59, with a 30-year history of drug abuse, Karma feels like she is just getting started on building her purpose and serving others as a personal trainer and coach. To her, the biggest fear is getting older. While Marc agrees with her 100% about hitting the ground running with her passion and career, he also throws in 2 important cautions around how she will measure approval and success in her career, and how she will attract a man to be in relationship with. Watch this episode to see the full conversation, and learn what Karma’s new homework will be for this last era in her life.

The Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #241 - Getting Past The Fear of Getting Old - YouTube

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Real people. Real breakthroughs. This is a Psychology of Eating podcast where psychology and nutrition meet to uncover the true causes of our unwanted eating concerns. Your relationship with food will never be the same. Now, here’s your host, eating psychology expert and founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, Marc David.

Marc: Welcome, everyone. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I am with Karma today. Welcome, Karma.

Karma: Thank you, Marc.

Marc: I’m glad we’re here. I’m glad we’re doing this. Let me just say a couple of quick words to viewers and listeners, and then you and I’ll jump in. So if you are a returnee to this podcast and you’ve been following me and us for a while, thank you, thank you. I’m glad you’re here.

And if you’re new to the podcast, here’s how it works. Karma and I are meeting together officially for the first time, and we’re going to spend about 45 minutes or an hour together and see if we can make some good things happen and push the fast-forward button on transformation if that is at all humanly possible.
So, Ms. Karma, if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted today from this session, what would that look like for you?

Karma: Marc, I am just trying to move forward in the right direction. I feel like I am at a point in my life—I’m 59 and I struggle with the fact that I’m 59. I have made a mess out of most of my life. And good things have been happening for the last 10 years, but I haven’t quite been able to manifest and put together what I want to do, that I know I’m capable of doing, and that I feel from the inside-out that I’m here to do. And I feel like I have a lot to offer people.

I want to bring it all together full circle. This is my time. I feel like it’s now or never, and I just want to realize my dreams, live my dreams, and move forward.

Marc: Got it. So as it relates to food and body, where’s the action for you? What would you like to see different?

Karma: Well, I’ll tell you. I’m a personal trainer, and I have always felt—and it’s probably why I’m a personal trainer. And it’s why I feel like I have to be in shape, and I have to look good. But I’ve always felt like my value has been placed in how I look and how I appeal and appear to everyone, but particularly the opposite sex. I have had struggles with food. I’ve been thin most of my life. I think I’m just genetically disposed to being thin, but I have had some struggles with food. And I have had significant weight gain, and it literally put me over the edge.

Now that I’m getting older and that’s something I can’t control. My food I could control; my aging I can’t control. But it’s all inexplicably tied to my feeling like I have to look a certain way in order to be of value.

Marc: Got it.

Karma: And I’ve struggled with that my whole life.

Marc: So if you hit the sweet spot, what would it look like for you? What would you look like so that you could feel great about yourself? What would that be?

Karma: Well, I would like to slow down the aging process. That’s really, really, really important to me, and I’m trying to do everything humanly possible to do that as far as fitness and nutrition. I think I’d just like to make peace with who I am and accept myself as who I am whether I have more wrinkles, less wrinkles, 10 pounds more. Just to be content with who I am and love myself as I am, however that evolves as I get older.

Marc: Makes perfect sense. So you mentioned before about, yeah, this is your time in life. You’d love to realize your dreams. Give me a few nuggets about what your dreams are for yourself.

Karma: My dreams are to serve people—as I said, I’m a personal trainer, and I’ve been doing that for 10 years. And I have felt that something was missing in the direction I was going with that. I am in your eating psychology course, and it is bringing me full circle in being able to serve women particularly over 50. I want to reach more women. I want to help more people. I want to serve more people.

I’m writing a book, and I’d like to see that come to fruition. I was addicted to drugs for 35 years, so I feel like I missed out on a lot of what other people that were not in that situation were growing and developing through their 20s and 30s and creating careers. I never did that. So this is my time to create my career and to be the person that I’ve never been able to be because I’ve been crippled by that addiction. That’s really what I see in the future is just being able to serve other people, particularly women in my age group and get my word out there. And the addiction, the addictions I should say, and I’ve had my bouts with food.

It’s all part of the picture, but I know that I have a lot to offer. And I also struggle with ADD, and it can be crippling at times. I just want to be free who I’m supposed to be, and I know and I feel and I’m driven. And I just want to put it all together, Marc.

Marc: Mmhmm. So when you say you want to put it all together, I think I understand what you mean. And it’s a big goal. It’s a big goal. You’re setting your sights high. I think that’s really great. When are your best times? When are the times where you go to yourself, “Wow. I’m liking myself. I like my body. I’m okay with the fact that I’m 59”? Do those moments happen for you?

Karma: They do. They do. Yeah. They do. Frequently, they do. And I think those moments are when I’m doing the right things and when I’m nourishing my body and eating right which I do most of the time. I have my moments which I chalk up to emotional and stress-eating. But I also very much believe in the exercise component for me. It’s my drug. And, yeah, I feel alive when I’m eating right and I’m exercising and I’m moving in the right direction, that I’m not distracted and lost which I’ve been most of my life.
Marc: Understood. So what do you think gets in your way? In one sentence or less. One sentence or less, see if you could like pinpoint… And this is opinion. I don’t think there’s any right answer, but if you’re diagnosing yourself, what do you think gets in your way?

Karma: Fear.

Marc: Makes total sense.

Karma: Disorganization.

Marc: Mmhmm. Fear. Disorganization.

Karma: Fear is a big one, Marc. Fear is a big one.

Marc: Yeah. Mmhmm.

Karma: Fear, disorganization, distractions. Just getting off course. I struggle with that a lot.

Marc: What gets you off course?

Karma: Anything. Squirrel. It’s hard for me to focus. Getting a grip on that, I just truly feel this immense, innate drive that it’s now or never for me. But it’s fear of failure. It’s fear of not being good enough. It’s fear of not measuring up for the most part. That would be the biggest thing.

Marc: Yeah. So of all the things that you do in your life, what are some of the things you are best able to focus on?

Karma: Exercise.

Marc: Okay. Exercise. Exercise for you or when you’re working with someone else? Both?

Karma: Both. Exercise and helping women. I get very, very involved with my clients. I’m connected with them daily. I do not want them to fail. I take it very personally. So that’s a big thing for me. Serving people. I do a lot of volunteering. That’s a turn-on for me.

Marc: How about mothering?

Karma: Mothering I’ve struggled with. I thought I wanted to have one little girl that I can get manicures and pedicures with and I did in vitro when I was 42. And just short of my 44th birthday, I had three boys. So it was hard in the beginning, and I actually gained a lot of weight when they were young. I gained 40-50 pounds and very, very, very, very depressed. But, yeah, mothering has been a real challenge for me, and it’s probably because I haven’t had a lot of mothering myself.

Marc: How were you able to let go of drugs after three-and-a-half decades? How did you do it?
Karma: Well, it brought me to my knees. I was homeless for six years, living on the streets. Didn’t want to live anymore, and that’s not the first time I felt that way. I’ve probably been down that road a dozen times. I was living in an abandoned hotel, and I had nothing to live for. And that’s when I turned to God. And just some opportunities came my way. It wasn’t easy. It took a while, but I’ve been clean since 2000.

Marc: Wow. Congratulations.

Karma: Thank you.

Marc: Good for you. Good for you.

Karma: Interestingly enough, Marc, my addiction then transferred to food. And I had a very difficult time for the first three or four years with my weight and with eating. It was just like, “Okay. I’m off drugs, now I’m on food.” So it’s funny how those things work. I have had those experiences with food. I think I can relate to a lot of different struggles, and I know that through those struggles that I can help a lot of people. I firmly believe that.

Marc: Where were you born?

Karma: Chicago.

Marc: Are your parents still alive?

Karma: No, they’re both deceased.

Marc: How did they get the name Karma for you?

Karma: I have an older sister named Karla, with a K. And they knew nothing about the meaning of Karma. Matter of fact, I told them when I was a teenager. Well, actually I told my mom. My parents were divorced when I was six months old. But, yeah, they were clueless. Clueless. So Karla and Karma.

Marc: That’s great. Okay.

Karma: Yeah. I like it.

Marc: Are you in a relationship now?

Karma: I am not.

Marc: Do you want to be?

Karma: Yeah, I really want to be. Very much so.

Marc: Mmhmm.

Karma: Definitely something lacking in my life.

Marc: Any prospects?

Karma: No.

Marc: Who do you notice gets attracted to you?

Karma: That’s a tough one. I feel like a lot of men check me out. I don’t typically engage in conversation with them, but I have that feeling. Because I don’t actually speak to most of them, I can’t speak to their character what type of person they are. I had a six-month Match.com wedding in 2012 which lasted six months, and it was a mistake. And I really haven’t done a lot of dating since then. But I’ve been married three times. Four is the one I think they said. Isn’t that what they say? Four is the one. The fourth.

Marc: How long you want to live till? What age?

Karma: 90.

Marc: That’s a good number.

Karma: Yeah. As I said, I have 14-year-old boys, so I want to be around. And I plan on it. I think it’s a mindset.

Marc: Yeah, I think so too. I think so too. So you pretty much feel like you take care of yourself well with exercise and food these days?

Karma: For the most part. I don’t strive for perfection. I work out four or five days a week, and I love it. I eat well. I could probably improve the quality of my food, but again, I get into the it’s so expensive. But for the most part, I eat well. I do. I may have a Sunday where I go a little off, but I’m right back on it on Monday.

Because for me, the alternative is to—back to that I feel like I have to look a certain way. And I don’t want to be overweight. I don’t want to be out of shape. It’s not who I am. And when I even feel like I’m that way, it really messes with my mojo. So I’m very driven from that standpoint. And it may be a little superficial in some ways, but I’m not going to look and feel the way I want to feel if I veer too far off course.

Marc: Understood. Understood. I think I’ve got some good information to work with here.

Karma: Okay. Good.

Marc: Yeah. And you’ve said a number of things that you want from this session because I did ask you to wave your magic wand and put out whatever wish you wanted. And amongst the things that I’ve heard, this is a time in your life you feel like it’s now or never. You want things to come together. You kind of want your dreams to come together. You want to be able to do work that’s fulfilling for you. You want to be able to love your body no matter what. Hey, whatever. It’s like just love yourself and be okay with yourself with who you are. And those are the key things that I heard.

It would be great to kind of transcend the ADD thing and not get distracted by things because that’s a difficult one. And you want to bring it all together in this last third of your life is what I’m getting.
Karma: That’s it. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Throw in a good man, and we’re good to go.
Marc: Yeah, you didn’t say that one, but I brought it up. So I’m going to give myself…

Karma: Right. You did.

Marc: Yeah.

Karma: You did. Thank you.

Marc: So what I’m going to do is I am going to in one sense focus on the big picture even though we’re going to get specific. But really, my personal agenda with you is to say whatever I can say and do whatever I can do in this moment to help set you up for what you want, which is for things to come together in this last portion of your life, in this last third of your life. Because that’s really it. Because things coming together includes all these things we’ve been talking about.

So the big picture is this sense of “I’m 59. Man, I’ve had a long, interesting, crazy, rocky road,” and it’s your time now. I want to 100% agree with you. And I do agree with you that this is your time and now’s the time. 100% agree. Why do I agree? Because, A, you said so, and I believe you. B, I understand that, yes, age 59 for a human is time. It’s time. It’s time. It’s time. You’re not 20. You’re not 30. You’re not 40. You’re 59. And this is the time when we get clear. It’s like, “Okay. I’m not a mortal. I’m not going to live forever. I’m not ready to die. There’s things I want to make happen in this life. There’s things I want to experience. It ain’t over, and now’s the time.”

So that 100% makes sense to me, especially because you’ve had some difficulties in life where you’ve been not living your dream. And you’ve been not living your best self, so you know what that feels like. You know you’re not going back in that direction. So I’m all for you getting where you want to go. And what I want to do is just kind of popcorn out some highlights for me that show up in my mind that I think might be helpful for you.

Karma: Okay.

Marc: And I’m going to just say this and say things in no particular order. The first thing that has my attention is oftentimes when we are gathering up our forces and looking at our last kind of hurrah—because you’re planning for the last leg of your life, and that’s a lovely thing—there’s two particular challenges that I want to notice for you. Particular challenge number one is there’s a place where I’m concerned just a little that you’re setting your sights so high that you won’t notice the successes that you’re having.

Here is what I mean by that. I want you to be careful around the professional thing and the career thing and the book thing and getting yourself out there because what could happen—I’m not saying this is 100% you, but I’m saying what often happens is when humans feel like, “Whoa, I’ve been out of the game for a while. Wow. I want to make something of myself and of my life now,” we end up shooting so high. “I’ve got to be famous. My book’s got to be a bestseller. I’ve got to be doing all these things.” We go to the opposite.

I don’t want a successful book to be the measure of your success. I don’t want thousands and tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people following you as a measure of success.

Karma: Okay.

Marc: If that’s your measure of success, you are setting yourself up for a lot of difficulty because that’s a difficult road. There’s not a lot of people who have successful, bestselling books. It’s a tiny amount, and I mean tiny. And a lot of the bestselling books out there are nonsense anyway and are not going to do anybody any good. And a lot of the people who get the big audiences are not necessarily the ones who have anything great to say.

Karma: Okay.

Marc: So that’s just a little caution. A little caution like just in the professional zone.

Karma: Mmhmm.

Marc: That’s one piece. Another piece here is that on the one hand I hear you embracing the aging process, and on the other hand you’re fighting it tooth and nail.

Karma: Absolutely.

Marc: You’re fighting it tooth and nail. I get it. And I just want to say straight up, you must handle that piece very deliberately and starting now. And what I mean is this: you’ve got to get good with God. You’ve got to get good with life. And you’ve got to get good with the fact that the body ages, and you ain’t any different from the gazillions of people who have come and gone on planet earth. You’re going to die. I’m going to die. We’re all going to go there. We’re all going to get old and wrinkly. And it sucks. To the degree that it sucks, I’m with you. And it’s not fun. To the degree that it’s not fun, I’m with you. You’ve got to get good with that.

Somehow, you have to find a way to get good with that. Where you are getting hooked big time is this nonsense where you feel that you have to look a certain way to attract a man.

Karma: Yes, I agree.

Marc: You’re really caught by that one, like big time. And I say that affectionately. And you’re not the only lady. Trust me, there’s far too many of them. I get to speak with so many different women who weigh two times as much as you do who have beautiful relationships, who are 15 years older than you and have beautiful relationships.

We’ve been so conditioned. We have been so conditioned that we don’t realize how brain-washed we are. The men that you want in your life—if you have to be obsessed over your looks and every wrinkle, if you’re living from that place and attracting from that place, you’re probably going to attract from that place. If you just kind of cut loose and it’s like, “Hey, this is me. Guess what. I’m aging just like you are,” because the guy you pick is going to be getting wrinkles too. He’s going to have issues too. And his cells are going to be dying too.

There’s a level where—and I’ve got to tell you this. I’m going to now talk like I’m your older brother here right now.

Karma: Okay.

Marc: And tell you that the degree to which you think men give a shit about how you look and the degree to which they actually give a shit are two completely different things. Meaning, what you think men want and what they actually want is two different things. Are there men out there who specifically want this, that, and the other thing and it’s totally not you? Yes. So you cross those guys off your list. How easy is that?

You cross every freaking human off of your list who crosses you off of their list because, “Oh, she’s 59. Oh, she has a wrinkle. Oh, she’s getting older,” or whatever it is that’s living in your head. “Oh, she’s too this. She’s too that. She’s not muscular enough here. She’s not whatever.” Cross them off your list. Why are you trying to attract those guys?

I’m not saying don’t take care of yourself. I’m not saying don’t be with your looks and your fitness and your food in a way that you like and in a way that makes you feel good about yourself and dignifies you. I want you to take care of yourself. But there’s a difference between taking care of yourself and being obsessed. There’s a difference between taking care of yourself and trying to change something that you can’t change.

So you’re fighting a battle that is so impossible to win that it is taking all your forces. And, when you’re fighting battles that take your energy that can’t be won, it increases your ADD because you don’t have enough energy to focus. Because you’re focusing on a battle that you can’t win. It’s snowing here in Colorado. I don’t like the snow. When the first snow comes, I fight it. It doesn’t look like that, but I’m busy like trying to duke it out with the snow so it doesn’t snow. Big waste of energy. Drains my energy. It actually de-focuses me.

So other things that I need to focus on I can’t because my resources—mental energy, emotional energy, psychic energy—are in a battle. That’s a bunch of nonsense. So what I’m saying is you’ve got to push the spiritual pedal to the metal here, young lady. This is your time. If you want to get what you want—here’s my belief system.

For me, this is my religion, and I’m suggesting that I think it’s a good one. If you want to have what you want to have in the latter portion of your life, you have to do that which life is asking us to do in the latter portion of our life, what God is asking us to do, what a higher power is asking us to do which is to operate more in that zone. Operate more in the unseen world, more in the spiritual world, more with universal law, God’s law as opposed to human law, man’s law, woman’s law, which is, “Oh, I’ve got to seduce in order to get what I want. Oh, I’ve got to look like something that I’m not in order to get the guy. I’ve got to rope somebody in based on trickery.” No.
At this phase of your life, you get your best guy by you being you.

Karma: Right.

Marc: You being the true you, and you being the true you, you’re a queen. You’re not 30 years old. You’re maturing like a fine wine, and what keeps a woman beautiful—and this is older brother talking to you once again. I’m not being a counsellor right now. I’m being your buddy. I’m being your older brother here. What keeps a woman beautiful is when she stays in her radiance. I know you’ve seen this. I’ve seen this.
I’ve seen women in their 80s and 90s, and they walk into a room and I’m like, “What is that? What’s different about you? Something’s different. You ain’t an old lady. I know you’re old, but you ain’t an old lady.” And what they are is they’re in touch with their light. They’re in touch with their vibrancy. They’re in touch with their energy. They’re in touch with their femininity as it is right now. They’re juicy in who they are. They’re connected to something higher. They’ve learned their lessons. And they’re not worried about the nonsense that a 25-year-old worries about.

Right now, there’s a part of you that’s still being a 21-year-old princess who wants to feel the goodies.

Karma: Okay.

Marc: And that’s understandable. But there’s a place where you have to graduate yourself quickly. You have to graduate yourself from princess to queen. It doesn’t mean that there’s not a little princess in there somewhere. There is. You’ll always have her. She’ll always be there, but you’ve got to get with the program that you’re in the queen phase of your life.

And in the queen phase of your life, it’s not about every little specific particular thing about your body. That’s not what a queen does. A queen doesn’t sit on her throne and talk about her abs. Do you know..

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Patticia, really wants to find a sense of calm around food, and get rid of her emotional eating. From a young age, she remembers being a little chubby, going for the sweets, and comparing herself to others. Now 37, she tells Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, that she is happy with how her body looks, and it’s more about getting down the right schedule so she doesn’t binge and then feel guilty. As the session unfolds, Marc introduces Patticia to the idea of letting go of her perfectionism, letting go of doing everything for everybody else’s approval, and begin to really step into her womanhood, her queen, and nourish herself. Watch the full episode to see Patticia’s biggest takeaway.

The Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #239 - Sometimes We Need to Ask for Help - YouTube

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc David: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we’re back in The Psychology of Eating Podcast. And I’m with Pat today. Welcome, Pat.

Patticia Carrera: Hi, Marc. Thanks so much for having me today.

Marc: Yes, I’m so glad you’re here. And let me just say a couple of quick words to viewers and listeners. If you are a returnee to this podcast, thank you, thank you for being on this journey with us.

If you’re new to this podcast, here’s how it works. So Pat and I are meeting each other officially for the first time right now. And we’re going to have a session together. We’re going to go about 45 minutes and see if we can push the fast forward button on a little bit of transformation.

So Miss Pat, if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this session together, tell me what that would be for you.

Patticia: Okay, I definitely would love to change my relationship with food, transform my relationship with food. I have had body image issues for the longest of time. That is something that is getting better as I get to work with you guys and I get to follow your program. I’m currently in the Transforming Your Relationship with Food Program. That is helping me a lot.

So I feel I’m making some progress. But when life gets complicated, I tend to take it out on food. I’m an emotional eater. I will describe myself like that. And I also have had some body image relationship. So I have some body image issues. So I would like to transform that and be more at peace where I’m at, be more certain of who I am as a person. Yeah, find myself into a more calm, peaceful place.

Marc: So when you’re not in that calm peaceful place, what does it look like? Or what does it sound like in your head?

Patticia: As far as eating habits?

Marc: Yeah.

Patticia: Or…?

Marc: Yeah, yeah. As far as eating habits. Let’s start with that.

Patticia: Well, as a business owner, I’m always on the go. I’m always on the run, always busy, teaching fitness classes and taking care of business matters. So I usually tend to sometimes skip meals and then towards the end of the day, I’m more or less starving.

And then I tend to sometimes eat more than I would like to. Sometimes I’m binge eating just because I’m holding on sometimes to too much stress of the day or sometimes because I’m too hungry and mostly like that.

So something that I don’t have right now for when I’m not on calm, like you say, I don’t have any structure that I follow. And sometimes that gets too much out of the way and then end up just feeling like a snowball rolling. And it gets bad sometimes for a couple of days until I finally can find some peace again, maybe on the weekends or stuff like that.

Marc: So when you say it gets bad for a couple of days, tell me what that means for you. It means you’re eating a lot at night? You’re eating a lot after work? What does it look like?

Patticia: Mostly, at the end of the day when I can finally get home and get to take time for myself. Sometimes if the day has maybe too busy or a little bit stressful with different things, I tend to eat more. I wouldn’t say I eat large quantities. I don’t eat a lot, probably like a normal person would eat.

But it’s just like the way of eating—maybe too fast and not really enjoying myself, not enjoying the food. Or sometimes I don’t have much time between when I finish eating until I go to sleep. And then the next day, I wake up with a heavy stomach. I feel bad for not taking care of myself properly the prior day and then kind of accumulates a little bit, that cycle of feeling guilty.
And then when you’re an emotional eater, food is either there to give you comfort or to punish you. So it’s a little bit that. Sometimes, for a couple of days, it’s that feeling of guilt.

Marc: Yes.

Patticia: And then it just keeps going for a little while. But it’s just my thoughts of beating myself up for maybe not following schedule, not taking care of myself or spending too much time without eating properly. And then I know that at the end of the day I’m just going to be starving and maybe not having too control.

Marc: What helps you get back on track?

Patticia: When I have what I will call free time maybe during the weekend that my business has a more flexible schedule. And I don’t teach many classes. And I have more time to maybe do some reading or do some physical activity that always helps me to release that energy—some yoga practice or some running that I have started recently.

When I have time to stay a little more connected to myself, I would say, then I can follow schedule. And I can be more present, more aware.

Marc: When you overeat or when you find yourself eating too much, is it certain foods that you for? Or it could be anything?

Patticia: I have a sweet tooth. So it’s definitely sweets and things that maybe are not the healthiest, yeah.

Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. And how long have you been doing this?

Patticia: Well, like I said, I think I had body image issues from a very early age. But I would say that the relationship with food and a little bit the struggle with food started from very early, from maybe as a kid, starting to compare myself with others around.

But it always changed. I had a time when, I could say, I was a little bit anorexic. Then there was a time when I would be more binge eating.

And as I grew older, all that kind of went away as I became aware that it’s not a healthy way of living and that it was harming myself too much.

But I still continued to have some issues with food. I don’t know how everybody else relates to food because I can only have my experience. But I would say that maybe it’s not the most normal that I could have. Maybe sometimes thinking about food too much or sometimes always being concerned about what to eat, what not to eat.

But I would say it always changes. I would say that I have seasons in my life where something was strongest. But since I can’t remember from very early age, maybe 5, 6 years old. Yeah.

Marc: Why do you think—and there’s no right or wrong answer here—why do you think the body image issues started? Where do you think they came from?

Patticia: When I was a kid, I was a little bit chubby, not overweight. But I was. When I look at pictures of myself as a baby, I was chubby. And then until I was a teenager, I was having a little belly or maybe thick legs and stuff like that. And I would compare myself.

I don’t know how it started. But I always compared myself with my sister. My sister was always skinnier. I always liked sweets. So I always ate too many sweets as a kid too. And there were sweets around my house. My parents like sweets also up until today. And there was also sweet stuff to eat. And I would always eat more. So I was naturally a little bit heavier than other kids that I would see around.

So I think I compared myself all the time from that time. I’m not really sure how it started. But I was aware of that.

Marc: Are there any times, let’s say during the month, where you notice it’s just better for you? You’re not worried as much. The body image issues are better. The emotional eating might be better than usual, yeah.

Patticia: Not sort of the month. No, I wouldn’t say there’s a cycle through the month. I think it’s directly related to things that could be happening with my life at the moment. I own a business. Sometimes, there are some business struggles, some struggles with business partner, some struggles with—I don’t know—with daily operation things. That sometimes just gets too much on my own way.

And because I always had the personality where I always tried to—very perfectionist. I always tried to do the best and always be the best in my own head, even though I know I tried hard or I gave my best. But sometimes in my own head, it’s not good enough.

So if things are not happening or going the way I would like them to be, then sometimes I take it on myself. “I should be doing more. I should be doing this.” And then, that’s mostly.

But I think it’s more mostly related to situations or things, facts happening in life that then I get too stressed about. And then I just take it on myself.

Marc: Sure. Sure, that makes total sense. Are you close with your parents?

Patticia: You could say that. You could say that. Even though my whole family is still living in my country, we communicate through Skype. We communicate through emails and stuff. I would say we have a good relationship, yeah.

Marc: How’s your mother’s relationship with her body and with food?

Patticia: I knew you were going to ask that due to other podcasts. And I was thinking about that. She had a normal relationship with food, I would say. There was a time when she was taking care of herself, more as far as watching what she was eating. She was exercising maybe more and trying to lose some weight, I remember, maybe when I was a teenager.

But she always had a more normal relationship. Nothing more obsessed about it. Yeah.

Marc: So I have a question for you. And I want you to answer, if you can, as 100% honestly as you can. Do you want to change anything about your body right now in terms of its look or its shape?

Patticia: I don’t want to lose weight. I know I’m a healthy weight right now. But I definitely try to work out these days more just to tone and to build my cardiovascular capacity. And definitely, I like to improve a little bit my health as far as using workouts to be stronger or to feel healthier.

But, no, I don’t think—that’s always the issue. I would like to have maybe more flat belly or stronger arms or more definition in the muscles, all the things. But it’s not an obsession that I have right now. I know if I stay consistent with my workout, that’s going to be accomplished with time. Yeah.

Marc: Got it. Got it. How old are you?

Patticia: I’m 37.

Marc: Are you planning on having kids?

Patticia: No. Not that I think of, no.

Marc: Is that a good decision for you? Do you feel good about that?

Patticia: I think so, yeah. It’s an interesting question. I dedicated my early 20s to my career. I finished my college degree. And then I wanted to finish a doctorate. I have a Ph.D. So my whole early 20s, I was fully focusing on my career.

I hope I’m not offending anybody. But I’m not a woman that was always drawn to have kids. I never really saw myself like a mom. I never had that interest.

And I have a very well-established relationship with my fiancée for more than ten years now. But we both never really saw ourselves like parents. We never really planned. And I guess, it just never happened. We never really looked for it. At this age, I don’t think that will happen. We have talked about it. And we are fine where we are right now.

Marc: Yeah.

Patticia: I’m content. It’s not something that I’m missing. If that had happened, I think I would be fine it would have been very well welcome. But I think it just didn’t happen. And I don’t think I’m going to be looking for it in the near future.

Marc: Sure. Where do you see yourself five years from now? Who do you want to be?

Patticia: That’s a beautiful question. I kind of have stopped thinking long term for a little while because sometimes it can be a little bit stressful. I try to be more at the present moment and try to be content because that’s one of my biggest struggles. I’ve always been a goal-driven person and planning and trying to have a well-planned, organized life. So I don’t think like that as much.

But to answer your question, I definitely—five years, two years, three years, I think it will be the same answer. I would like to be content with my profession. I think I have found my passion in what I do which is being of service to others, teaching yoga. I teach healing yoga, yoga that is a lot about healing physically, emotionally. So I love doing that.

And I love being of service to others, especially when I connect to my students and I see them making progress in their life and being more accepting of themselves. So I would love to be able to make a living out of that sometimes.

We have a new studio. So we’re still trying to settle our business and everything. And I would have to, yeah, have a career more in the wellness industry. What you guys do I find fascinating and beautiful, really like a beautiful service.

But I would like to be content in what I do, what I do for a living, and feel fulfilled, that I’m of service and I’m connected to what I can call my calling or my passion I think. That’s where I would like to see myself, yeah.

Marc: Understood.

Patticia: And be happy with that, yeah.

Marc: Yeah.

Patticia: And I think because I’m happy in what I do, I feel that everything else falls into place. So that’s why it’s a little bit my priority, yeah.

Marc: Great. So when I say the word perfectionism, what does that mean to you?

Patticia: Well, I can track it back to my early years. I grew up with a family that was not the wealthiest. So my parents from the early stage told my sister and me to do our best, to work hard, to have an education. I remember being very young and at the time not understanding much about it but having my father telling us, “Look. We are not going to be able to give you material things after we’re gone. We’re not going to be able to give you a big bank account or a big house or this kind of material things. But if there’s something we can give you, it’s going to be a good education, something that nobody will take away from you.”

So that’s something that got in my mind all the time. And from high school, primary school, I always tried to do the best in my studies. And I always accomplished that, being always top of the class up to my college and everything.

I think that perfectionist feeling came from that, for not disappointing others that were hoping for me to give the best. And I think probably from that time, that became part of me, that I always tried to be the best.

And sometimes, life happens. Sometimes, things can get a little bit out of control. Sometimes, I tend to blame myself that maybe I didn’t do enough or start thinking I’m not good enough, these kinds of things. So I think that that perfectionist feeling comes from that mostly.

Marc: And here we are, just where we need to be, I think, right now because I think for you this is really where the action is. I think for you, the action is the place where you don’t feel good enough, where you could do better. You should have done better. Maybe you can do better. Maybe you can—just better. Better, better, better. Because then if it’s better, then it’s better because you’ve been taught to strive.

And I think you are at an age right now—you said 36?

Patticia: 37.

Marc: 37, yeah. So late 30s for a woman is a time when you are transitioning out of being how I like to say the princess stage. You’re a late princess. And princess is not an insult. It’s not a pejorative term. It’s a term I’m using for young woman. And everything that a young woman faces and deals with.

And you are approaching 40. And once a woman hits 40, to me she’s on the queen-in-training program.

Patticia: Okay.

Marc: Okay. And right now to me, you are very diligently and steadily leaving behind some of your past. And what the past is that you’re wanting to leave behind is the guilt, the shame, the perfectionism which so many young women are taught to carry around.

So the fact that you had body image challenges or issues or concerns and you’re already feeling that and seeing that from a young age, that’s a product of being alive on planet earth. There’s almost no escaping it. It’s almost nobody’s fault. It’s what the world teaches us.

If you’re a woman and you’re alive on planet earth, there’s a good chance you’re going to be contending with body image at some point. It’s part of the package.

Patticia: Right.

Marc: And what I’m saying is that you’re in a place now where, to me, you’re getting ready to graduate to another place but in a whole different way than you’ve done before. And you’re not quite sure how to do that. But you know you have to. And you’re not sure how to do that. And you know you have to.

The good news is, it’s not so bad. The good news is, what you’re facing, all things considered when you look at your life—the good news is good relationship, beautiful place. You’re doing work that you love.

You’re setting yourself up for a long time to have a career that is satisfying to you. You’re setting yourself up to earn a living at helping others. That’s something you value. You’re setting yourself up for one of your other values which is health and yoga and growth and take care of yourself and feel good while helping people. So you’re doing all that. You’re setting that up. So that’s the good news.

Where perfectionism starts to get you is that it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough. That little voice starts to come into your head. And it’s probably a voice that nobody else sees and nobody else hears. It’s very private for you. And that’s okay. It’s totally okay.

And what I want to say is that you and this thing about being perfect, or better and better and better, you have to turn this into a yoga practice.

So a yoga practice means you get on the mat and you do yoga. And some days you’re stiff. And some days you’re tight. And some days you’re annoyed. And some days you’re angry. And some days you feel great. And some days you want to be here. And some days you don’t.

But the practice means you show up. And the practice means you do the posture. And you do the breathing. And you do your best. And the practice means you love yourself and you forgive yourself even though the girl next to you does the pose better or even though the person next to you is taller, skinnier, whatever. We do our best.

So right now, my feeling for you is that it would be a great idea to take the practice called “noticing my perfectionism, noticing how it sends me into guilt, noticing how it sends me into really—”

Here’s the thing. A lot of times, you mentioned to me that you can go through a day and really not attend to your body on a certain level. Even though you’re teaching yoga and even though you’re running your business, you don’t attend to your nourishment.

Patticia: Right.

Marc: And on one level, that’s totally understandable just so you know. You’re a business owner. And there’s a lot to do. And sometimes when you have a kid or you have a business, you have to sacrifice certain things. Certain things fall a little bit by the wayside. So it’s not going to be perfect.

So given that it’s not going to be perfect—you can’t have the perfect lifestyle—how can you do your best within those circumstances even though it’s not perfect? And how can you find the place where you can be okay that it’s not perfect? That’s the target I want to see you shoot for.

So it’s not going to look exactly how it should be. It’s going to look a little messy sometimes. It’s going to look like, “Okay, today I ate well. And I took care of myself.” And the next day, “Whoops! I went through a whole day. And I really didn’t eat. And then at the end of the day, I was eating a lot.”

But I think the key piece here for you is you are in a place where you have to more consciously step into your womanhood. Consciously stepping into your womanhood means letting go of the little girl. It doesn’t mean you abandon the little girl. It just means the little girl in you that wants it to be just so, the little girl in you that just wants it to be perfect and wants everybody to say, “This is great. This is good. Congratulations! You’re exactly where you need to be. You did it!” It’s all—

Patticia: I’m used to that. It’s funny that you say that because I’m used to being recognized for my efforts. And I think that’s something that changing careers has changed. I used to have publications. I would receive awards for my research or receive awards for my degrees in high school or primary school. And these things I’m used to.

Marc: Yes.

Patticia: To be recognized, yeah.

Marc: And that’s beautiful. That’s a wonderful thing. And when we’re young, when we’re of prince age and princess age, we need that outside feedback coming from the world that says, “You’re good. You’re great. We love you. Congratulations!” because that helps build our ego structure. It helps us feel good about ourselves because as young people we need that. We need the outside world to tell us.

And now you’re transitioning out of that. You are transitioning now to being more self referenced and more self sufficient in that way. And I believe that, right now, that’s actually what the struggle is. The struggle is you’re growing. You’re actually growing. And you’re going through growing pains right now.

So whenever you’re feeling guilty, whenever you’re feeling ashamed about food, it’s actually a growing pain because you’re growing out of needing outside approval. You’re growing outside of needing perfection and everything just right—look just right, feel just right, do it just right, achieve just right—to you have to be able to congratulate yourself and love yourself no matter what happens today.

So even if it’s not a great day, even if not enough people show up for the class, you still have to congratulate yourself for moving to Hawaii and starting a whole new career and a whole new business. Even though you didn’t eat perfectly today, you still have to love yourself because you’re doing your best, and you have a lot to do. And maybe you didn’t have enough time today.

Or maybe, “I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t find it to take care of myself today.” Now, can you step into doing what a woman would do which is not beat herself up, not self attack but go, “Oh,” deep breath, and forgive. And deep breath and not abandon yourself. There’s a place where you leave yourself when you’re not doing it just right. You become not your friend anymore.

So to me, you have a great piece of work to do. And when I say “great,” I’m wanting you to see how good you have it. I’m wanting you to acknowledge, “Wow! If this is the challenge I have to work with, I’m in a damn good place.” You don’t always notice that always.

So to me, you’re doing the kind of work that elevates you more into your womanhood. It’s not about getting control of your food. So yes, it is. But it’s not really that. It’s not about getting control of your food. It’s not about finally loving my body. It’s not even that. It’s more about learning how to treat yourself like a woman.

So for a woman, for an adult, even though she’s not having a great day, she still stands by herself. Even though she looks in the mirror and might not think it’s perfect or..

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Kelly, 29, gives Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a snapshot of her challenges with weight. She is connecting her weight gain to some other unwanted symptoms like brain fog, acne, and fatigue. Diets feel too restrictive, and Kelly admits they have only taken her to a place of obsessive control over what she eats and over-exercising, or letting it all go and binging. Marc sheds some light on the situation, and invites her to view her situation as a life phase; a time in between being a caterpillar and a butterfly. Throughout her journey, she has tried different things, like Health at Every Size, and the Paleo Diet. But each thing has components that work for her, and components that don’t. Kelly walks away with new insights on navigating her emotional self outside of emotional eating, and learns a new, more empowering definition of ‘restrictive’.

The Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #237 - Dairy, Gluten & Weight - YouTube

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc: Welcome, everyone. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we are back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m with Kelly today. Welcome, Kelly.

Kelly: Hi, Marc. Thank you.

Marc: Thank you. I’m glad we’re doing this. And let me just take a minute, Kelly, and say a couple of words to viewers and listeners.

If you’re returning to this podcast, thank you. Welcome back. I’m glad you’re here. If you’re new to this podcast, here’s how it works. Kelly and I are officially meeting for the first time right now. We’re going to have a session together. We’re going to see if we can move things forward in a good way.

So, Miss Kelly, if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this session, what would that be for you?

Kelly: Well, I think that would be I’d be about 40 pounds lighter, and then that way I would be able to walk into any kind of department store and find clothes that fit me right. And I would also be free of some of the health symptoms that I’ve been having.

Marc: What kind of health symptoms have you been having?

Kelly: Most recently I’ve had issues with joint pain. I also have problems with acne around my mouth — I get that a lot — mind fog, fatigue. I have night sweats. Those are the main ones I would say.

Marc: And you believe that’s related to weight?

Kelly: I think that some of it does have to do with weight. I think I do have some food sensitivities. I’ve been having a hard time eliminating some of those foods from my diet.

Marc: And so tell me what you think your food sensitivities are.

Kelly: I think that I am probably sensitive to gluten and dairy.

Marc: And tell me why you think that.

Kelly: Well about a year or two ago I went on a paleo diet. So I did an elimination diet. And a lot of the symptoms that I have now are gone. But I found it really difficult to stick to the paleo diet. And now that I’m back on a normal American diet, I have those symptoms again.

Marc: And the symptoms that disappeared that came back were which ones?

Kelly: The joint pain, the night sweats, the acne, the fatigue, the mind fog, pretty much everything.

Marc: Wow. So now you’re back on gluten and dairy.

Kelly: Yes. I’m pretty good at keeping it out of my diet maybe 70 percent of the time. I eat pretty healthy, and I eat pretty good quality food most of the time. But sometimes I fall back. Something happens in my life, and I get stressed, and I fall back into eating those other foods.

Marc: How long have you been trying to lose weight, Kelly?

Kelly: I’ve been dieting on and off since I was probably eight years old.

Marc: How old are you now?

Kelly: I’m 29.

Marc: And what’s been successful for you?

Kelly: I’ve done a lot of unhealthy dieting techniques. Actually I used to be 270 pounds. And I lost 80 pounds by over exercising, under eating. And I guess the main issue that I’m having with adjusting to eliminating those foods is I feel like I’m restricting myself again and that I’m getting back into disordered eating. So I mean I’ve done a lot of things that have worked in the short term. The paleo diet worked well, though restricting, and over-exercising worked in the short term, but nothing’s really worked for the long term.

Marc: Got it. So then it seems what happens is you may start to feel like you’re restricting, and then that doesn’t feel good for you. So I’m interested to know, what do you tell yourself? Let me in on a conversation that goes on in your head. Here you are. You’re on a paleo diet, feeling a little bit better. Maybe you’re losing a little weight. And then all of a sudden this conversation starts. What could it sound like?

Kelly: Well a lot of times it’s when I’m out with my friends eating dinner in a public place. I see my friends eating whatever they want. I see other people in the restaurant eating whatever they want and not having an issue with it. And they don’t have weight issues. They don’t have the health issues that I have. And it’s kind of like a rebellious voice in my head saying, “It doesn’t matter.” And I’m not thinking in that moment about the consequences of eating those things.

Marc: Sure, I understand. What do you want your weight to get down to? So you know how much weight you want to lose. What would that put you at?

Kelly: That would put me at 195. I’m about 235 right now.

Marc: When was the last time you were at 195?

Kelly: Let’s see. So that was when I lost 80 pounds. So that was when I was about 24 I believe, so about five years ago.

Marc: What started the dieting when you were eight years old? Did you really need to lose weight? Did your parents put you on a diet? How did that start?

Kelly: I have three sisters. They’re all very thin. I was bullied at school. So both of those things together made me feel like I needed to go on a diet. My dad teased me about my weight, but my parents never put me on a diet or anything. It was something that I did myself.

Marc: Where are you in the birth order of your sisters?

Kelly: I am the second.

Marc: And do you ever say to yourself, “Oh, I think I carry this extra weight because…?” What do you say to yourself?

Kelly: Well there are some people in my family who are larger, so I think sometimes it’s a genetic thing because I’ve always been a larger person. So I think there’s a genetic component to that. I’ve had problems with binge eating a lot of my life too. I think that has played a big part of it. I’d keep a lot of my emotions in. And so I stress eat. I do a lot of emotional eating. And that’s put on the weight too.

Marc: So these days how many times a week would you say you might binge eat or emotionally eat?

Kelly: It’s maybe actually for an entire day, maybe one to two days a week. And the rest of the week I’m probably eating more normally, like how I should be eating.

Marc: So maybe one or two days a week it just kind of falls apart, is what I hear you saying.

Kelly: Yeah.

Marc: Any particular days that might happen, during the week, weekend, doesn’t matter?

Kelly: Usually the weekend.

Marc: Why do you think the weekend?

Kelly: So Friday night I get done with work. I’m stressed. And sometimes I feel like I want to treat myself. And then it just spirals into binging basically.

Marc: What might you binge on? If you’re going to binge, what do you go for?

Kelly: I go for sweets. It used to be Little Debbies and things like that. But now it’s like sugar free high percentage cocoa chocolate and cashew butter and stuff like that. So I’ve evolved a little bit in that way, but it’s sweets.

Marc: And what happens afterwards, after that one or two days is kind of over? Do you have to force yourself to get back on track? How do you get back on track?

Kelly: It’s just like I get back into my regular routine. Monday or even Sunday evening rolls around. I get back into my old routine. And it’s pretty natural.

Marc: Do you live alone?

Kelly: Yes.

Marc: Are you in a relationship?

Kelly: Yes.

Marc: How long?

Kelly: It’s a new relationship, probably about six weeks now.

Marc: How’s it feeling so far?

Kelly: Really good, it’s a really good relationship.

Marc: What makes the relationship good for you?

Kelly: We have a lot in common. We have a lot of the same goals and values. He’s very supportive. He’s very loving. He’s just great.

Marc: How’s he feel about your body?

Kelly: He’s fine with my body. He just started a body building lifestyle though. So he’s lost some weight and is very strict with how he eats.

Marc: Is that hard for you?

Kelly: It’s hard for me to see him restrict himself because I remember kind of how that process started for me. And I don’t want to see him go through that.

Marc: Understood. Does he feel restricted to you? Does he say, “Oh my God, this is so hard, Kelly?” Or do you notice things?

Kelly: No. He calls himself a creature of habit. He really loves the routine. He thrives on that. He seems happy with what he has going on.

Marc: Got it. So you mentioned you’re the kind of person that you keep your emotions in. Are your sisters different?

Kelly: No, not really, they do the same thing, maybe not to the extent that I do, but they have some of the same behaviors.

Marc: How about your mom?

Kelly: Yeah, my mom and my dad both are like that.

Marc: Are you close with your parents?

Kelly: No.

Marc: How would you describe your relationship with them?

Kelly: Very distant, it’s almost non existent. I mean we talk on the holidays and things like that. It’s never really been a close relationship for either of us.

Marc: Is there a particular reason you think?

Kelly: They both have a lot of mental health issues. And I’ve just kind of decided that it’s not healthy for me to be around them with a lot of the behaviors that they have.

Marc: Do they live in the same state or town as you do?

Kelly: Yes. They live in the same area.

Marc: Do you bump into them? Is that an issue for you? Does it matter to you that they live close by?

Kelly: I do bump into them sometimes. It’s always weird and an anxious experience for me. But I deal, yeah. It’s not a huge problem though.

Marc: So in an ideal universe, let’s say you lost the weight that you wanted to lose, and you kept it off permanently, other than the fact that you lost that weight and maybe some of your symptoms go away, is this new you any different? Or do you just weight 40 pounds less and have fewer symptoms?

Kelly: I don’t think I would be that much different. I mean I might be a little bit more confident. I work in a corporate environment, so in that way I do feel pressured to be smaller and look more socially acceptable. But overall I don’t think that I would be a different person.

Marc: So you might be more confident. You might kind of fit in in your corporate environment, which would make you feel a little more comfortable. Is that accurate?

Kelly: Yes.

Marc: Okay. So here you are. You’re on a diet. You’re on a paleo diet. I kind of want to come back to this again. And there’s this part of you that all of a sudden might feel like you’re restricting. What does that feel like, when you go, “Oh my God, this is restriction.” Say more about this thing called restriction for you.

Kelly: Well there was a part of me that was kind of addicted to the restriction part of it. I loved feeling like I had control over it. But then I would just get more and more restrictive. So I would read all these books and articles about all these different ingredients and macro nutrients and things like that. And I would just get so obsessive over the tiniest little things. And it would just make me feel crazy after a while. And I felt like I couldn’t even leave my house because there were chemicals in everything, and I had to just control every little thing that I put in mouth or on my body.

Marc: Got it. So correct me if I’m not getting this right, or if I’m wrong. It sounds to me that in a weird way you’re either on a diet, whatever that diet is, that’s pretty, let’s call it restrictive or specific, or you’re totally off it.

Kelly: Yeah, for most of my life, it’s been like that.

Marc: And when you’re totally off there’s no major middle ground so to speak.

Kelly: I would say so.

Marc: Is that true?

Kelly: Yeah.

Marc: Okay. Are there weeks where on the weekends you don’t binge eat? Does that ever happen?

Kelly: Yeah, if I’m feeling particularly happy. Since I’ve been in this relationship I haven’t really been binging all that much. He lives about two and a half hours away. So if he’s here with me, I feel happy, and I don’t feel the need to binge as much.

Marc: Got it. How are you doing in this conversation? How is this for you, me asking you all these personal questions?

Kelly: It’s a little nerve wracking.

Marc: Yeah, it is, because they’re not easy questions. And I’m really kind of diving into your world. And it’s very personal. And for somebody who might not normally be emotional in terms of keeping her feelings out there, yeah, it’s not easy. So I appreciate you hanging in there with me.

Kelly: Thanks.

Marc: So when you lose weight, what do you tell yourself? “Oh my God, I’m losing weight.” Do you get happy? Do you get nervous? Do you think, “Oh my God, is this going to come back?” Does it feel like you celebrate? Tell me, when weight’s coming off, what goes on in your head?

Kelly: It’s a whole lot different for me now because I’ve kind of delved into the Health At Every Size movement. So it’s conflicting to me now. There’s more resistance in it because part of me wants to believe that I don’t need to lose weight. But I really still want to.

Marc: Yeah, I get it. Yeah, you’re not quite sure which way to go. And consequently you’re probably not going in any particular direction that feels solid and good to you, is what it sounds like.

Kelly: Yeah.

Marc: That makes sense to me. Where do you see yourself five years from now? If you could be where you want to be, other than food body and weight, putting that aside for a moment, let’s say that’s all perfect, five years from now, who do you want to be? What’s your life going to look like?

Kelly: I would like to be settled in a career that I feel more fulfilled in. I would like to be established, hopefully in my current relationship, maybe living together. Those are two main things, so a career that I feel more fulfilled in and a stable relationship.

Marc: And how about goals for you that are more inward, inside yourself?

Kelly: I would like to feel more secure with myself, feel like I’m worthy and that I’m good enough.

Marc: Yeah, that makes total sense. You’ve been working hard. You’ve been working hard. I get it. I think you’ve also been working hard to the degree that it’s easy to wonder, “Okay, where are the results? I’m putting in all this effort. I’m doing all the studying. I’m doing all this reading. I did these intense diets. I did this intense exercise.” Really, after doing intense exercise and intense dieting, you technically can’t work any harder than that. There’s no harder at some point. And what I’m getting from you is that you’re a little tired, probably, of all the hard work that doesn’t get you what you want. And the prospect of working harder makes absolutely no sense to you.

I think part of the reason why you rebel and go off a diet, you call it I don’t like the restricting, but there’s also a place where okay, it’s so difficult to maintain that do I have to work this hard. So let me say a few words about what I think might be helpful and useful for you. I’m going to just kind of bounce around a little, but we’re going to slowly, I think, drill down to what might be helpful for you.

First, there’s a minor detail I want to take care of, but it’s important for me to take care of this detail with you. At the beginning of the conversation when you talked about weight, and you talked about some of your health symptoms, you said, “Wow, when I lose the weight I’m not going to have these symptoms.” And all I wanted to say to you is other than maybe joint pain, you could have all those symptoms and weigh 120 pounds, for the most part, even joint pain.

So I just want to say that letting go of weight and being symptom free doesn’t necessarily follow one another. It might. I think I get what you were trying to say, which is, “Wow, if I eat a certain way, and I don’t eat foods that I’m allergic to, I will then lose weight, and I will then not have these symptoms.” You could potentially eat none of the foods you’re allergic to. You could get rid of all the junk food. You might not lose weight, but you might lose your symptoms. So this is a little detail. All I want to say is — and this is Health At Every Size — that we don’t exactly know what your symptoms are going to do relative to your weight. We don’t truly know. That’s just a little piece of information.

I am totally fine with you if you say to me, “I want to lose weight,” plain and simple. “I want to lose weight. I want to feel better about myself. I want to fit into clothes. I want to weigh something different in my work environment, in my sitting anywhere, being anywhere, being with my friends.” I think it’s perfectly legitimate for you to start to separate that out and not have to make excuses for it. Do you see what I’m saying? It’s like you can tell me, “Marc, I want to be living with my boyfriend at some point.” You don’t have to explain it to me any further than that. You don’t have to give excuses. “Well I want to be living with my boyfriend because it’s really the right thing to do,” or “That’s what a smart girl does.” It doesn’t matter. You can tell me I want a job I feel more fulfilled at. I don’t need any more information. You can give me more, but you don’t need to justify. That’s all I’m saying. You don’t need to justify if you want to lose weight and want to look a certain way. Does that land for you when I say that?

Kelly: Yes. Yes, it does.

Marc: I’m saying that in part because you’re in a conundrum in your head I think. So where I see you, if we were kind of at the shopping mall, and you know how they have those signs that say you are here? You’re trying to find the food court, or you’re trying to find a clothing store, and it’s a big mall, and where the heck am I? So I’m just trying to locate you on the map, okay. So when I locate you on the map, the way I look at maps I see you being in a time in your life — you’re 29. You’re in a major transition time. Age 28 to 30 is a big transition point. That two year period is oftentimes a period in life where things are in upheaval, where we’re really looking in the mirror, where we’re really redefining our values, where a lot of stuff comes to a head, where like it or not, life just kind of is right in front of us. Our issues become more clear. The road ahead of us becomes more clear, or it slowly does that. The things that don’t work start to raise their hand even more. And it’s just a time of shifting and chaos and uncertainty.

It’s kind of like being a caterpillar and spinning a cocoon. You’re going to come out a butterfly on the other end. But in the meantime you’re a caterpillar in a cocoon. And there’s a point where it’s just kind of very mushy. And it ain’t a caterpillar, and it ain’t a butterfly. It’s a bunch of mush inside a cocoon, literally. So I think this is a mushy time in life for you. And all I’m saying is it’s okay, because that’s what it is. So I’m also saying that to help you see that there’s a wisdom to your journey. There are certain parts of our journey that are very defined in advance, meaning we all go through this weird thing called puberty. It’s pretty predictable. Puberty’s a physiological event. It’s an emotional event. Women go through menopause. Men go through andropause. It’s a physiologic event. It’s an emotional event.

This stage of life that you’re in right now, it’s also new for you. So it makes sense to me that you’re feeling confused. And right now you have several different philosophies that you’re not sure which one works for you. So you’re looking at Health At Every Size, which I love, which is essentially putting out the message like hey, cut the nonsense. Stop hating yourself. Health and weight are not necessarily complex together. They might be. Extreme obesity and extreme anorexia, yeah, that’s going to affect your health. Everything else in between, it’s kind of a toss up. You could be skinny and slender and be very unhealthy and have cancer and die tomorrow. You could be 100 pounds overweight and live to be 90 years old.

So that’s what Health At Every Size tells us. And Health At Every Size says okay, love your body as it is. And it’s a beautiful message. But then there’s this part of you that has had this life of gosh, you’ve got three sisters who are slender. Is it genetics for me? What’s going on? What do I do? You try some things. You do lose weight. You do feel better. But it’s hard to maintain. So I get there’s a part of you which is totally legitimate. I just want to honor the part of you that says, “Wait a second, I think I got weight to lose.” Unfortunately, Health At Every Size doesn’t account for that person. It doesn’t. And I love Health At Every Size, but it just doesn’t account for that person. So you have a tricky road here right now because in a weird way both are true. It’s a little bit of a paradox. What’s true is all their messages are true. Yeah, love your body right now. It’s true. Your health and your weight are not necessarily complex together. It’s true. And what’s also true for you is you’d like to lose some weight. And sometimes you’re on board with that, and sometimes you’re not. You go back and forth. And you’re fighting yourself a little bit. So at the very least I want to see you let go of the easiest fights that you don’t need to be in.

Kelly: Sounds good to me.

Marc: Yeah, because one of the challenges for you is that you’ve been doing battle for a long time, it feels like. It’s just a battle in your world. The battle’s in your head. The battle is with your emotions, to keep them in and to play your cards right. And the battle is to try to feel good about yourself. The battle is to try to lose weight. And the battle is how to do it, how to do it sustainably, how to feel good about yourself. It’s exhausting.

Kelly: Yeah.

Marc: Yeah, so honestly, so much of what I get from you is there’s a certain battle weariness that I just pick up on. And I think that battle weariness is starting to impact you because it’s freezing you a little bit. You’re not sure what’s right for you right now.

Kelly: Yeah.

Marc: So what I’m saying is that’s okay. That’s a good place to be. That’s a good place to be because you’re doing what’s right. Here’s what you’re doing right. You’re looking at all your options. “Okay, wait, here’s a good option. Stop beating myself up and telling myself I’ve got to lose weight. What are the positive messages I can be giving myself?” That’s a very beautiful option to explore. On the other hand, you’re wanting to eat healthy because you notice you feel better. But whoops, that’s also hard. That’s restricting. I don’t want to restrict because that makes me crazy. So let me not restrict and make myself crazy. But that doesn’t work either. But the good news is, you’re going, “Huh, this sort of works, doesn’t. This sort of works, doesn’t. This sort of works, doesn’t.” So what..

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So many people today who are struggling with weight or other digestive issues believe they have a problem with overeating. They think that if they could just stop eating when they should, then their metabolism would function perfectly and their body would naturally find its proper size and shape … and then maybe the perfect love, the perfect job, and the perfect life would all fall into place. But what is the point at which we “should” stop eating, and how do we know when we’ve reached it? And why do so many of us find it so difficult to stop when our body has had enough? In this fascinating new video from IPEtv, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explains that contrary to popular belief, we don’t have a collective willpower problem, but there IS something that we can work on if we want to overcome overeating. If you’ve ever faced this challenge, tune in now to discover a simple but profound technique that you can start using right away. The results may surprise you!

We Often Overeat Because We Don't Pay Attention - with Marc David - YouTube

In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you and we read and respond to every comment!

Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings, friends. Marc David here, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here’s what I want to talk about. We often overeat because we don’t pay attention. Let me explain.

Now, overeating is a big issue for so many people. So many people are trying to regulate their appetite, control what they eat so they can look perfect. And if you look perfect, you have the best body. And if you have the best body, everybody loves you and life is great. Got it. So when we overeat, that’s a challenge for us.

Let’s define overeating for a moment. Most people will define overeating in their heads—even though they’re not aware of this—is that it’s eating to a point where you feel and you believe you shouldn’t have. It’s this arbitrary place. Overeating for me is different from overeating for you is different for anybody else that you know.

So it’s eating to a point where we feel and believe that we shouldn’t have.

Here’s a second definition. It’s the actual eating past the body’s need for food. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s the body’s need, what’s my emotional need. Here’s what I want to say. If you think you’re an overeater, if you say, “Oh, God. I overeat too much,” I want to say that overeating is not your problem. It’s a symptom. It’s not the problem. It’s a symptom.

Now, again, there’s lots of reasons. And I want to say the least of the reasons why people overeat is because of lack of willpower. A lot of people say, “Oh, yeah. I just need to get more willpower. And then as soon as I get control, I’m going to eat perfectly.” But what I want to say is this: one of the main reasons humans overeat is because of lack of awareness and attention. We don’t eat when we eat.

Oftentimes we don’t live when we live. Oftentimes when you’re talking to your friend, your loved one, your kids, we’re not even there. Our attention is somewhere else. Oftentimes when we’re at work, we’re working, but our attention is not really there. We are living in a day and age when so many things are vying for your mind and they’re grabbing your attention. And the media and the computer and the Facebooks and all that sort of thing.

Now, here’s what happens. There’s something scientists call cephalic phase digestive response. Cephalic means of the head. Cephalic phase digestive response is a fancy term for taste, pleasure, aroma, satisfaction, the visuals of a meal. Your brain needs that head phase of digestion in order to actually fuel your body and fuel your metabolism to know what to do.

So here’s what happens. When we aren’t getting the full, hearty experience of our meal, we will metabolize that meal—digest, assimilate, and calorie burn it—at 40% to 60% less efficiency, simply because we weren’t present. So if you’re not present with food, you’re not going to metabolize it fully.

If you’re not present with life, you’re going to miss it.

You won’t get the full nutrition. You won’t get the full, hearty experience from your life. The way we relate with food is oftentimes a mirror of how we relate with life.

So get present in all your life. Be present with the people you love. Be present when you’re happy. Be present when you’re angry. Be present when you eat. Be present when you love. Be present to all of it, because when we do that, when we bring presence and awareness into our existence, our relationship with food, our body, it all starts to heal in the most natural way. And that, my friends, is the magic of life.

Marc David

To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.


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When it comes to food, we all have our favorite dishes – those special flavors that hit us right in our happy place. But we live in a culture which tells us to be afraid of our cravings. We’re taught that those foods that we love to eat are dangerous, and that we’d be better off avoiding them entirely, because once we allow ourselves a piece of cake or a plate of spaghetti, we might never be able to stop. We’re caught in the middle between our desire to treat ourselves with foods we enjoy, and our fear that allowing ourselves to take pleasure in food will lead to unwanted health consequences. In this uplifting new video from IPEtv, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, suggests that it’s time to end this inner battle, because we’re not doing ourselves any favors by treating food as our enemy. Tune in and learn why letting yourself enjoy food again will unlock your metabolic potential and help you find a real balance that nourishes your body, heart, and soul.

How Pleasure Helps You Calorie Burn - with Marc David - YouTube

In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you and we read and respond to every comment!

Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings, friends. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Let’s talk about how pleasure helps us calorie burn. Hmm. Who woulda thunk of that? How pleasure helps us calorie burn.

So here’s the deal. We are living in a world right now where people have some pretty intense struggles with food and body. And that’s a straightforward fact. You know this. Now, because of how so many people are feeling challenged around weight and body image and overeating and binge eating and emotional eating and more, food is often seen as the enemy.

And when food is seen as the enemy, pleasure is often seen as the enemy. Why? Because if I’m getting pleasure from food, my goodness, I’m going to want more of it. And then if I want more of it, I’m not going to stop eating. And if I don’t stop eating, I’m going to keep gaining weight. And if I keep gaining weight, no one is going to love me. And life is going to be miserable.

So people can have a fear of pleasure even though they want it.

Now, this is pretty interesting because when we fear pleasure but secretly crave it, it’s kind of like having one foot on the gas and one foot on the brakes at the same time. It just makes a lot of smoke and there’s a lot of smelly, burning rubber. It’s confusing. And it doesn’t really get us anywhere. So it’s time to see pleasure in a more complete way.

Here’s what I mean. Pleasure is a literal and scientific metabolic enhancer. All creatures, every organism, all humans, everything on the planet is programmed at the most primitive level – if you’re a living being – programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. When a lion is eating a deer, it’s not hating on the deer. It loves the deer. It’s looking for pleasure, the pleasure of food.

Now, pleasure has psychophysiological purpose. I’m going to tell you how pleasure helps you calorie burn more efficiently. So the body optimally digests, assimilates, and calorie burns in the physiologic relaxation response. That is simple science, my friends, that we have known since the 1930s. You have to be in a relaxed state to be in your optimum nutritional metabolism.

Now, check this out. Pleasure catalyzes a relaxation response. And the relaxation response is where you optimally digest, assimilate, and calorie burn. Pleasure catalyzes a relaxation response. What does that even mean? You come home from a rough day at work. Somebody gives you a nice massage. What’s the first thing you do? “Ahh.” Or you’re feeling really tense and you play your favorite music. And you relax.

So pleasure tells the body to relax.

It literally drives our body into a heightened state of digestion, assimilation, and day-in, day-out calorie burning. That’s crazy. That’s amazing. Now, okay, you are probably thinking, “Oh, well, that means I can have all the pleasure I want. And I can eat all the garbage I want. And that’s okay.” No! Come on. You’ve got to be smart.

The sun is good for you. The sun is the greatest thing in your life. Does that mean you should roast yourself out in it for hours and torture yourself to a crisp? No. Pleasure is in intelligence. You have to learn how to do pleasure with wisdom and experience. But you can’t sweep it under the rug. You can’t think that pleasure is your enemy. It’s your friend.

And you have to learn how to befriend it because you learn how to befriend it… And this is your dance with the food, the dance with your body. You experiment. You learn. And you let the joy of life come into your body when you eat because when you do, it changes your metabolism.

And when you change your metabolism in that way, you start to calorie burn your food more fully. You’re giving yourself all that you want. You’ve given yourself your optimal metabolism. And you’re giving yourself your best experience of food and of life. How good is that, my friends!

And how amazing that that’s the magic of life!

Marc David

To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video training series at ipe.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition that have helped millions forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health. Lastly, we want to make sure you’re aware of our two premier offerings. Our Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training is an 8 month distance learning program that you can take from anywhere in the world to launch a new career or to augment an already existing health practice. And Transform Your Relationship with Food is our 8 week online program for anyone looking to take a big leap forward with food and body.


The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss

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Meet Kristie. Like too many other 31-year-olds, she has a history of an eating disorder, and a life-long journey with negative body image. As we learn more about Kristie’s story, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, makes a distinction about the unique culture in which she grew up. A culture around which she went through some really tough life experiences, and it wasn’t something ‘talked about’ at home. She has, in a sense, taken her healing and growth into her own hands. Firstly, Marc encourages her to celebrate the success she has already had. Secondly, he invites her to continue the inner work. It’s about continuing to confront the lack of communication and avoiding uncomfortable conversations. True freedom may only be possible if she continues goes through, not around, her feelings. Check our this episode to see what Kristie can move into so that she can truly feel comfortable in her own skin, and be present in moments where she may typically freeze, judge herself, or try to fix. Hint: it doesn’t have to do with her body.

The Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #235 - Time For A New Body Image - YouTube

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We’re back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m with Kristie today. Welcome, Kristie.

Kristie: Thank you.

Marc: So, Kristie, let me just say a few words to viewers and listeners. And then you and I are going to jump in. So for those of you who are returning visitors to this podcast, thank you. So glad you’re here. So glad you’re part of our world. If you’re new to this podcast, here’s how it works. Kristie and I are having a first time session. And we’re going to get to have about an hour together today to see if we can push the fast forward button as best we can on a little bit of transformation. So, Miss Kristie, if you could wave your magic wand, and I mean this, and get whatever you wanted out of this session, what would that look like for you?

Kristie: To be friends with my body and just be comfortable in my body

Marc: So to be friends with your body, to be comfortable with your body. What would that look like for you, if you were friends with your body and comfortable with it?

Kristie: Just feeling like I belonged in my skin and feeling like my natural body, my natural shape, is okay.

Marc: So you would feel like, “Okay, this is my body. This is my skin. I belong here. And what this is, it’s good. It’s okay.”

Kristie: Yeah.

Marc: Okay. So how long have you felt not that way?

Kristie: I kind of feel like it’s almost in two parts. When I was a wee kid, probably around eight or nine or so, I remember just feeling like I didn’t belong in my skin, and just little incidents. I remember getting a school photo taken, and I had my best friend sitting next to me. And she was a gymnast. And I remember looking down and thinking, “Why are my thighs three times the size of hers?” And then I look back at that photo today, and we were both like twigs. And it’s like well, there was something going on at that age where I just didn’t feel okay. And then when I was around 14 I developed an eating disorder. And that was quite a big part of my life. And that was when it really sort of took off and ramped up on a whole new level. And I think that sort of still lingers in terms of just not feeling like I’m finally through, that’s not a problem. I’m done with an eating disorder. But I don’t always feel comfortable in my skin.

Marc: When are the times that you actually find yourself feeling more comfortable in my skin than I usually do?

Kristie: Yeah, I work in the outdoors teaching rock climbing, kayaking, that type of thing, so when I’m white water kayaking, when I’m horse riding, being out in nature. When I’m cooking I feel like it’s such an act of sort of self care. I feel like, “Oh, I’m here in my body.” They’re probably the times I feel most in my skin.

Marc: When are the times you find yourself feeling worse? Is there anything that you’ve noticed? Do those times have anything in common?

Kristie: If I had to, say, I don’t know, go out in the beach and wear a bikini or something. I feel like it’s just this shame about my body, like it’s different to everybody else’s, and it’s not okay. If there was a weight pattern, it would be more in the evenings. And that’s like big picture stuff. I guess I feel better about myself when I’m up in the mornings before I’ve eaten. And then as soon as I start eating it can escalate throughout the day. But then I have entire weeks and months where I’m good. And then it just comes in all of a sudden. And I wish there was a pattern that I could grab onto, but I often feel like sometimes it just comes.

Marc: Yeah, that makes total sense. How old are you, Kristie?

Kristie: Thirty-one.

Marc: Thirty-one. How long would you say that, “I, Kristie, have really been working on this, my relationship with food and trying to figure this out? I’ve been putting my attention on this since…”

Kristie: Yeah, I’ve been recovered from my eating disorder for four years, solid. In terms of working on my feelings about my body or my thoughts, I feel like that’s really been since I was 14. But then I feel like that whole process between 14 and, say, 27 was just all eating disorder. So I don’t know if I could really call it working on. It was all just messed up, if that makes sense.

Marc: Sure. Brothers and sisters?

Kristie: So I have a sister. She’s four years older. And then growing up my parents fostered children. So we had a ton of foster kids.

Marc: So your sister’s four years older. How’s her relationship with her body?

Kristie: She had an eating disorder too. We’re not that close, so I don’t know how she feels about her body today. I couldn’t tell you.

Marc: Tell me about your relationship with your parents.

Kristie: Dad and I get on really well. We definitely understand each other. We’re good. Mom and I have a difficult relationship. And I think we’ve done a lot of work on it. And I think we’re at a point where we’ve both done our best.

Marc: What’s the difficulty would you say?

Kristie: Good question. First answer is I just feel like we don’t understand each other. And I guess I wonder if she feels hurt by me or like she’s, in a way, to blame for my eating disorder. And she really blames herself. She’s never said that. That’s just sort of my intuitive feeling.

Marc: How old is your mom?

Kristie: Sixty-six.

Marc: So if I was talking to your mom right now, and she didn’t know that you were listening in, and I said to her, “Tell me about your relationship with Kristie,” what do you think she would say?

Kristie: She would have a big pause while she thought about it. And I think she’d probably say, “I don’t really understand what I’ve done or why it’s so difficult.”

Marc: I’m not clear about something. It sounds like, from what you just said, you guys haven’t really talked much about your relationship with food and body and eating disorders and kind of where it all came from. It just sort of happened. Give me a sense of what was the communication. What was the conversation way back when?

Kristie: There was none. It got really distant, really complicated when I was a teenager, just usual teenage stuff ramped up. And I guess there really hasn’t been a conversation. And I’ll be straight up right now. I think the relationship’s at a point where we’re not going to have those conversations. Our relationship’s pretty limited. We just email. And it’s kind of informative, like what’s going on in her life, what’s going on in my life. But it’s better if we don’t talk face to face. She lives in another country. So I really feel okay with the level of relationship we have in that I function really well when we communicate the way we have.

Marc: So at its worst, what would it look like?

Kristie: At worst I feel like she would probably be hurt by me. So there was an incident a couple of years back when I was just coming out of treatment for an eating disorder And she had a lot of her own food and body stuff going on, that’s for sure. And she also has terminal cancer, for the last 12 years. And she was talking to me on Skype and just saying how she needed to lose weight and how this food was bad and that food was bad. And I said, “Hey, Mom, it’d be really helpful for me if we didn’t talk about food and body.” And so we ended the Skype call. And she sent me an email and said that she felt really hurt that I didn’t understand her. She was going through cancer, and it was big for her. And so I felt oh, we’re really going to struggle to talk because her whole life is about food and body and weight. That’s what I feel. And I’m not into that.

Marc: Got it. So if you guys really started getting closer — let me see if I get this right — or talking more in depth, she’s going to kind of want to go into those conversations.

Kristie: Exactly, yeah.

Marc: She’s going to want to go there. And you’re like, “I can’t. I’ve got to move forward not move backwards.”

Kristie: Totally, yeah.

Marc: Yeah. So why so many foster kids? Was that something your parents liked to do? Was it a way to support themselves? Help me understand that.

Kristie: I don’t understand. I don’t know. I think my parents would say, or my mom would say, it was a nice thing to do. And I think it’s a really beautiful thing to do. They’ve got a really big heart. But I don’t know why there was that many.

Marc: Was it hard for you?

Kristie: Up and down. There was a time when I was probably 15 where there was probably four or five of us. And we’re all around the same age, so it was like boarding school. It was fun. It was just like this is cool. And then when I was younger we had a lot of older kids. And that was really hard. And then when I was older we had a lot of two and three year olds. And that was hard. So it was up and down.

Marc: Got it. Tell me about your experience with dating, with relationships.

Kristie: Yeah, I’ve dated. I’m currently single. If a relationship comes along, fine, great. But if it doesn’t at the minute, I’m just really living life. And I don’t feel like it’s a hole or anything. I’m not actively looking for a relationship.

Marc: What was your longest term relationship?

Kristie: Three years.

Marc: And when did that begin? When did it end?

Kristie: Early 20s and ended mid 20s, I guess, yeah.

Marc: What was one of the great things about that relationship?

Kristie: He’s just a really good friend. I just know he just loves and respects me for who I am. And I feel exactly the same.

Marc: Got it. How has it been for you and sex and sexuality given kind of how you’ve been dealing with food, with body? How’s that? What could you tell me about that part of your life that feels important for this conversation?

Kristie: I’m really fine with my sexuality. Sex has been a process. I was molested by a family friend kind of mid teens to late teens. And I feel like I’ve done a lot of work on that. It’s something that happened. It wasn’t great. And I think it’s a journey.

Marc: So mid teens to late teens, family friend. So mid teens to late teens, that’s a long time. What did you tell yourself? What went on in your head?

Kristie: There was a lot going on. I feel like I have a connection between what happened with those experiences and how I feel about my body.

Can I just redirect with a memory that just popped in? Is that okay?

Marc: Please, of course, yes.

Kristie: I feel like I loved my body before I hated my body. So, for example, I remember being probably 14 or 15. And I used to be a gymnast. And then, oh yeah, this is really important. I was a gymnast, and then I was an elite athlete for a long time. So I was a weightlifter. And I was representing my country. I started that at 14. And it’s very much about you always had to make weight for competitions. And there’s a body focus. And so I remember, yeah, probably being 14, 15. And I was in front of a mirror with one of my foster sisters. And she was like, “Wow, you’ve got the best abs ever.” And I really remember that moment now. It just kind of popped into my head. And I felt like in order to be recognized, for some reason, it was like that. It was all about the abs. And then it sort of went into weight lifting. And then I felt like I had to have that body. And anything other than that body was a bad thing. Does that make sense?

Marc: Yes, it does. It absolutely does. So that was a foster sister who said that to you.

Kristie: Yes.

Marc: How old were you when the friend of the family first molested you?

Kristie: Probably like 15.

Marc: How does that feel for you now that you’re looking back on the situation, and you’re integrating it into your life? What do you tell yourself these days? What goes on for you?

Kristie: About the molestation?

Marc: Yes.

Kristie: Honestly, I feel like I’ve done so much work on it. I kind of feel done. I’m like it happened. And I’m 31 now.

Marc: So you feel like you’ve done work. And what would you feel like is some of the good work you’ve done? If you sum it up in one or two or three sentences, I feel like I’ve…

Kristie: I feel like I know it’s not my fault. That’s the biggest thing. I just know it’s not my fault.

Marc: Got it. So did your parents know? Did your mom know?

Kristie: She found out later, probably when I was 18 or so, 18, 19.

Marc: And when she found out, what happened?

Kristie: There was never a conversation. Yeah, my family’s not big on talking. I don’t remember how she found out, if I told her. I feel like a counselor came to our house maybe and told the family. I think that’s it. I think a counselor came to the house with me, told mom and dad, and then nothing was ever said about it. That was done in that session. And then no one ever brought it up again.

Marc: Wow. How was that for you?

Kristie: I think that’s just how we roll.

Marc: Yeah. How was that for you? I know that’s how things roll, but when you look back on it now, do you go, “I’m annoyed, wish she would’ve been different, no worries?”

Kristie: I feel like to bring it up would’ve been super awkward. I don’t think our family knows how to have difficult conversations. So I don’t feel let down or upset that we didn’t have that conversation at all because I can’t even fathom how that conversation would’ve worked.

Marc: Yes, understood. Okay. So let me ask this question. And I’ve asked you this already. So when you have the relationship with your body that you want, when you feel you’re in the sweet spot, tell me some more about who you’re going to be. Who is this person? Describe her a little bit to me, as if you’re describing her as if she’s a friend.

Kristie: Really present and focused and just comfortable in her skin, just has an energy that’s kind of tangible about really being okay with her body.

Marc: There’s an energy where you’re just okay with your body, got it. Do you know people who you’d want to model yourself after?

Kristie: Yeah, I’ve definitely got people in my mind. I meet them, or I know them, and I’m like, “Oh, that’s cool.” And if I’m having a rough time, I definitely tap into those people and think, “Okay, if I was that person, how would they be right now in their body?”

Marc: And if you could describe, just give me a few little nuggets, what is it about these people? What do you notice, anything specific that you kind of go, “Yeah, I want to be like that?” What is it about them?

Kristie: It’s just a visceral kind of feeling. They’re just there. They’re present. And the people that I role model myself after, it’s not like they have the perfect body. They’re just regular people, all shapes and sizes. They’re okay with that.

Marc: Yeah, so they have a sense of okayness with themselves that they just exude, no matter what shape or size they might be.

Kristie: Exactly, yeah.

Marc: Okay, I’m getting it. I want to go back to your past and to the experience you had of being molested. Do you have any recollection of where you went in your mind at the times it was happening, what you told yourself? “This is wrong,” or, “I need to just keep this secret.” Tell me some of the conversation in your head that you remember.

Kristie: I haven’t thought about that before. I’m just trying to grasp kind of—

Marc: Sure, that’s fine. It’s not an easy question. It’s not an easy question at all. So take your time, if there’s an answer somewhere.

Kristie: Just kind of like I wanted to shrink away and disappear. I think that’s the best way I can put it.

Marc: Yeah, so I want to shrink away and disappear. Do you remember anything else, any other words to put on your experience that you would’ve thought in the moment, feelings in the moment?

Kristie: I think I felt bad, for want of a better word. But I don’t really have a feeling.

Marc: Now when you say…

Kristie: Like I knew…

Marc: Yeah?

Kristie: Sorry, like I knew it was wrong.

Marc: So I knew it was wrong. Did you ever voice anything?

Kristie: In the moment?

Marc: Yes.

Kristie: No.

Marc: Afterwards.

Kristie: We’ve never had a conversation.

Marc: So these days, your relationship with food itself, are there times you enjoy food?

Kristie: Oh, sorry, you just broke up. Can you say that sentence again?

Marc: Yeah. These days, when it comes to your relationship with food, are there times that you enjoy food, you go, “Wow, I love this; this is great?”

Kristie: Yeah. Yes.

Marc: When does that happen for you?

Kristie: Yesterday. So at work they provide food for us. There was this tuna pasta bake. And it was raining. And I was kind of hungry. And I came in, and it was hot food. It was a cold day. It was like yeah, this is good. It was tasty.

Marc: Okay, I get it. So here’s what I want to do. Ideally I’d love to have about three more hours with you, but we’ve got enough to start to just kind of add to the picture and add to, I think, your body of knowledge relative to where you want to go. So let me just kind of free associate a bit and just say a bunch of things that are on my mind. And we’ll see just kind of how things land for you. I want to say in the big picture, you’re on a really good trajectory.

Kristie: Thank you.

Marc: Yeah, you’re on a really good trajectory. Based on where you’ve been and where you are now, I am very happy for you because you have had some difficult pieces to deal with relative to the challenges that you face. Difficult piece number one, you’re a woman being born on planet Earth. That is enough to make it difficult these days when it comes to the whole body image thing and the whole weight and the whole shape and the whole am I okay with this body. So right then and there, that’s a challenge.

Number two, my sense is you also come from a culture — I’m going to compare it to mine — that is not necessarily as expressive, potentially, as talkative, or a culture that had or has as much resource as others might have. So yeah, your story could’ve been a thousand different American women that I’ve spoken to. But quite frankly, there are cultural differences that go down.

And the reality is, when you come from a culture where no, we don’t talk about that, we don’t speak about that, yeah, a counselor came over the house and then that was the end of the conversation, that is very hard for a young person. It’s extremely hard for a young person because young people are observant. They see the world. They have a sense of how they feel. And when the adult world isn’t congruent, when the adult world isn’t showing up in a smart way, us younger people at the time go, “It’s confusing.” And it doesn’t make any sense.

And all of a sudden we end up feeling like we’re alone in the world. So even though you’ve got parents, and you’ve got a sibling, foster kids, whatever, one can feel really alone. So you had that challenge with your culture. You had the challenge of being molested repeatedly by a man that you knew. That by itself is a terrible offense that will throw anybody into an eating disorder or a disordered relationship with food and body. So that’s another challenge.

And no, wait, one more, one more that made it very free freaking difficult for you, extremely, even if everything else was perfect, the fact that you were a gymnast, the fact that you were, at a young age, in your body. And Kristie, I’ve got to tell you this. It’s mind blowing. I have worked with so many female gymnasts, former gymnasts, over the years.

And there’s a time, especially when you’re young, you have an extremely high functioning, high metabolic rate. You have the toned body. If you’re weight lifting, you’re strong. You’ve got it all. As soon as you stop that level of competition and of activity, especially when you start at a young age, the body never finds that place again that you had when you were 14, 15, and 16. And it ends up being like a benchmark in the head.

Yeah, and you’ve even shared that. You had that moment where this girl said to you, “Oh my God, you have the greatest abs in the universe.” And you were like, “Yeah, that’s me.” So that makes perfect sense that you would go there. So that by itself is hard. The amount of body dysmorphia and eating challenges amongst former gymnasts is shocking. It’s intense because of how high functioning your body is at some point. And then there’s always this weird comparison going on. So what I’m trying to say is given all that, you’ve overcome your eating disorder. You’re better with your body today than you were a year ago, two years ago, three years ago.

Kristie: A billion times, yeah. I feel like I’ve moved rugby fields, yeah.

Marc: Yes. So what I’m trying to say to you, I’m trying to help you get really present with the fact that you have succeeded greatly, I mean greatly. I really mean this. I can only imagine how hard you’ve been working. And I know a little bit about you. And you have a lot of energy. And you get very focused. And you’re very sincere. And there’s a part of you that doesn’t quit. There’s a part of you that just doesn’t quit.

Kristie: Yeah.

Marc: There’s a part of you that just doesn’t quit. Yeah, you could be hanging off a cliff and hanging onto a blade of grass, and you ain’t going to quit. And I think there’s a part of you that knows it’s going to find its way out. You just don’t know how. So that to me is interesting.

Here’s what I want to say. Here’s what I’m trying to communicate to you. It’s a little difficult, but I think I could do it. There’s a part of you that feels you could be doing so much better. There’s a part of you that wants to hit the target and go, “Okay, love my body now, done, finished. Now I’m going to move on from this nonsense.” And what I want to say is I want you, highly suggest, I beg you to change that part of your religion, to change that part of your belief system, because there’s a place where you’re trying to win the lottery, win the medal. And this thing is gone. And what I’m saying is it’s going to be… go ahead.

Kristie: You did break up. Could you say that again?

Marc: Yeah. Thank you for asking me to do that. There’s a place in you where you’re wanting this to just be done, and, “I’m finished. I love my body. I’m comfortable. Okay, on to the next thing.” And what I want to say to you is it’s not going to look like that for a long time. What it’s going to look like is..

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