The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 9: How To Stop Sabotaging Your Own Weight Loss Efforts

Jodie finds herself eating sugar and constantly going against her own best intentions to eat healthy and lose weight. It’s as if she’s two different people. Well it turns out, she is. We humans have multiple personas that inhabit our consciousness, and the better we know them, the more we can manage our inner world and our relationship with food. Tune in to this riveting session as Jodie discovers a “hidden voice” inside of her, and finally learns how to turn things around and be in control of her own metabolic destiny.

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Eating Psychology Podcast with Jodie Cleave

Marc: Welcome, everybody! I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m here today with Jodie. Welcome, Jodie!

Jodie: Hi there!

Marc: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad were doing this!

Jodie: Thank you.

Marc: Yay! Thanks for being so brave. So let me say a few words for listeners and viewers about the podcast in case you’re tuning in for the first time. We’re going to go less than an hour. And Jodie and I are going to do a client session. And in this client session, we’re going to try to take about six months to a year’s worth of work and condense it into a one-time session, which is a little bit crazy and a big target to hit. But it’s totally doable. And my intention is by the time we finish today, you’re going to come away with some insights and some understandings and hopefully something you can really use.

So, Jodie, why don’t you start by sharing if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever outcomes you wanted from our time together, what would that look like?

Jodie: Perhaps to understand myself a little better as to why I continually sabotage myself. With all the knowledge that I have from your good self and many, many years of research, I know what to do. I know what I could do and couldn’t do. But I just seem to derail myself a little bit.

Marc: So you’re derailing yourself when it comes to food? What is it that you want that you’re not getting?

Jodie: To be able to not use food as a reward, not to be drawn to the treats. I have an insatiable sugar fix. I have a sweet tooth. And I use it. People ask me what’s my favorite food. And I always tongue-in-cheek jokingly say dessert. And it’s the truth. It’s the truth.

Marc: So are you trying to lose weight?

Jodie: That’s interesting because since doing the Transform Your Relationship with Food, I have gained so much from doing that. Weight, I have forgotten about. I don’t think about numbers and scales anymore. But I know for my health—I’m a menopausal woman—so I am carrying weight differently than what I have done.

But it’s for my longevity, my health. I’m aware that’s what I do with sugar is predisposing me to health issues down the track. I’m at the moment doing pretty well. But I’m feeling aches and pains in my body that I’ve never experienced before.

Marc: And you’re feeling those aches and pains you believe because of eating too much sugar? Because of weight?

Jodie: Yeah, I’d say because of the sugar. And I’d say definitely I am carrying more weight than…I don’t want to say what I’d like because I have learned to appreciate my body. And I like my body. But there are some rolls where they oughtn’t to be. They get in the way. I’m being diplomatic, I suppose.

Marc: So part of this I really want to drill down here to what you want. So I think I hear. So I’m going actually sure what you want right now, what outcome you want. I heard part of the outcome is you want to put your knowledge to good use—that’s what I heard—and not be sabotaging yourself.

And then I heard in there that you love sugar, you love dessert. You don’t want to eat so much of that. And that’s a health issue for you.

And it sounds like you want to change your weight sort of, maybe, okay. Do you have a number? Do you have, “I want to lose this amount of weight.”

Jodie: No. I haven’t for many years. I lost 48 kilos probably about fifteen years ago. And I’d say twenty or so might have crept back on again. And I learned from then not to be so hung up on the numbers because that’s used to drive me to distraction because I would get on the scales and would weigh myself. And I would be feeling pretty terrific. And I jump on the scales before I went out the door. And that would be the end of that. I wouldn’t even go out the door because the numbers didn’t tell me what I want to see.

So when I touch my body, when I feel it, yes, there’s flesh there that wobbles, that moves, that I would prefer not to be there.

Marc: Okay. Got it. Got it. So the sugar piece, how often are you going against your best wishes and eating in a way that you don’t want to eat? How often does that happen?

Jodie: It’s become daily now.

Marc: Once a day? More than once a day?

Jodie: Yeah, it’s daily.

Marc: How many times a day?

Jodie: Yeah, once a day. It will be once, maybe twice when I go, “Oh, what the heck?” My code for coffee, when I say I’m going to go and have a coffee with friends or whatever, it always means cake. So it’ll be the morning usually.

Marc: And how much would you have of the cake you think you shouldn’t eat?

Jodie: Not a lot. I’ll have a muffin, a cake, and some chocolate. It’s a moderate amounts, I suppose, in a sense now that I’m talking about it. No, that’s what I do. I talked myself out of it. I think, “I don’t have that much. I only have a little bit.” But whatever it is, I’ve still got the belly.

Marc: Uh-huh. So I want to get a sense of what amount. So if you have a muffin, how big is the muffin? Show me with your hands.

Jodie: It’s a big muffin.

Marc: And if you have a cake, what does that look like? How big?

Jodie: A slice of cake. A slice of cake.

Marc: And if you have chocolate, how much chocolate? What kind of chocolate?

Jodie: Well, that’ll be hazelnut milk chocolate. I can probably down a 250-gram block.

Marc: How big is that? Show me.

Jodie: I know now. I know. It’s a block. So big by so wide. Like normal.

Marc: Got it. Got it, got it. So you’ll do one of those things you mentioned per day?

Jodie: Yeah.

Marc: And then what happens after that? How do you feel? What do you do?

Jodie: Whilst I was eating it, I used to be berating myself. “What are you doing? This is ridiculous.” Now I enjoy it. I enjoy it. Then afterwards, I don’t feel so good, especially if it hasn’t been really good quality. I made a promise to myself that if I was going to have treats that it was going to have the best. It was going to be well worth my while. I was going to enjoy it and love the textures and do all that sort of stuff. That does happen. But more often than not it’s just a horrible cheat.

And I tend to find myself going to different coffee shops and things so that I’m not recognized. Yeah. Yeah, I do do that. So I avoid the ones where I know with the good stuff is.

Marc: Because you might see people there that you know?

Jodie: Yeah. Or the people that work there will see me there constantly. Oh, gee whiz. I didn’t think of that. Yeah.

Marc: Yeah, it’s kind of like you feel like you’re committing a crime. And you don’t want anybody to know you’re committing a crime.

Jodie: That often.

Marc: Yeah, that often. So if it’s a different place all the time, then nobody’s going to recognize you and go, “Oh, there’s the lady that eats that muffin every day.”

Jodie: “Here comes the muffin lady. We know what she wants.” Yeah.

Marc: Got it. Got it. So how long have you had this particular challenge with, “I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m just not doing it.”

Jodie: A long time. A long time, David. As I said, fifteen years ago I lost the weight. Now, I speak in kilos. I’m sorry I can’t translate that into pounds. So 48 kilos, which is a fairly substantial amount of weight. It’s been always—as a little girl—weight has always been a topic on my mind.

Marc: Since how old?

Jodie: A little tiny girl. My daddy used to slap my thighs when I was little and tell me that I could play for the local football team, for Carlton. I had good football playing thighs.

Marc: How old were you?

Jodie: Four or five.

Marc: Uh-huh. Wow.

Jodie: I was always teased at school about being…I was a round child. I sort of classify people in sticks and balls. I was round. Looking at photos, I wouldn’t say that I was overweight. But, yeah, children, you show vulnerability, they’ll go for it. So I was teased a lot.

Marc: So how did you manage that? How did you deal with that? Did that ever change for you at some point?

Jodie: I became very quiet. I disappeared. I was one of the little shrinking violets so no one could see me. People didn’t really know whether I was there or not.

Marc: Were you like that in your twenties, as well?

Jodie: I got a lot of attention when I was in my twenties that I was terrified of. It was kind of confusing because I, in my mind, felt I with shrink and belittle and disappear because again it was the same sort of thing. When I look back at photos, my gosh, I did not have an issue whatsoever. But I always in my mind thought that I was not acceptable, that I was bigger.

Marc: So in your twenties you were getting a lot of attention because you looked a certain way? You weighed a certain amount? What was happening?

Jodie: Because I looked a certain way. It was unwanted attention. I was commented on.

Marc: It’s kind of strange, isn’t it, when we have, “Oh, my goodness!” a round body. And we get all this attention, i.e. people or kids might make fun of us. Then if you have the body you think you’re supposed to have, so everybody’s happy, you get attention. It can still be uncomfortable.

Jodie: Yes. That’s it. I was, yeah. I became a voluptuous twenty year old. So I had curves, as they say, in all the right places that I saw as weight, as wrong. It was wrong because they were getting me the attention I didn’t want to get. It was uncomfortable. So it was doubly wrong.

So I felt I wasn’t svelte and lean and slim. And the attention that I was getting because of all of my curves made me uncomfortable and made me feel wrong. So again it was wrong. So I still didn’t like it.

Marc: Whoo! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t here, huh?

Jodie: That’s it. Oh, Lord.

Marc: So are you married? Have you been married?

Jodie: I have been married. I was married for eighteen years and have four beautiful children. I have been divorced for fifteen years.

Marc: Do you want to be in a relationship again?

Jodie: Oh, I’ve had a lot of rocky road around that. I’m not a real good picker. I would love to. I’ve berated myself. I turn fifty-three next month and thought, “My goodness. I’m still a hopeless romantic. It’s time to get on with it. Get over it.” And then I decided that I’m not pining for it. I get on with my life. But I still love the idea in the institution of marriage and the thought of a relationship, absolutely. For other people, it’s wonderful. It works. I don’t know about me. I’d like it but, meh.

Marc: Do you think you have to look a certain way or way a certain amount at this point to have a partner?

Jodie: I didn’t think I did. I didn’t think I did in my last reasonably long term relationship. But now that I’m a single woman, I have noticed that I’m sneakily judging myself around that. It’s the furthest thing from my mind. I have other things to concentrate on at the moment. I struggle quite a bit with the failure of my last relationship. So emotionally it affected me more than I expected it to. So it’s taken a little while to get back on my feet.

Now I’m feeling a lot better with a lot of the work that I’ve been doing. So I have just started to go out with friends, to be a bit social. And I have—now that you’ve asked the question—noticed that I…Oh, it’s the funniest thing. If there is a potential suitor or somebody that I would think, “Hmm,” I have noticed my thoughts going to my physical. I just don’t think I’ve got the confidence to even do that. I come across is very mouthy. I can talk a lot. I’m very social. But I think I’m probably an introvert who is very extrovert.

Marc: Yeah. I think I understand. And by the way, I’m going to jump around and ask different questions in different places here. And there is a method to the madness. So it will all come together.

So you notice that you feel different when you eat sugar in your body. What do you notice?

Jodie: Initially when I’m eating it, it’s bliss. Like, “This is terrific.” So with your teachings, I’ve learned to really be in the moment. And if I’m going to have it, love it. Really enjoy it. Or become quite critical about it, I’ll be thinking, “This isn’t so good,” or whatever.

Afterwards I get disappointed with myself. I get disappointed. I had a plan that I was going to just do green juice or just clean food. Don’t go to extreme, just keep it on the level. I’ve done a lot of reading. Different people say if you can abstain for a period of time, three days or whatever, a tiny little amount of time, that will lessen it.

And I have had that experience because I have done that in the past. But I’ve got this defiant little person in me that just tells them all to go and get stuffed. If I want it, I’ll have it. So I battle with myself. So when I’ve had it, I’ve allowed myself to have it. And afterwards, I feel disappointed with myself. And then the defiant side comes in and says, “Oh, to hell with them all.”

Marc: And then what happens after the defiant side gets her airtime? Then what does it change into?

Jodie: If I’m not careful, I can just go, “The heck!” I can just go out and have another coffee and another cake. Or I’ll go shopping and, “Oops, that bar of chocolate slipped into the trolley.” And I know I’ll go home and eat it all. So I might as well just get rid of it.

Marc: Got it. So in your mind, if you didn’t have this challenge anymore, if you didn’t have this problem, how would life be different? What would your life look if this was gone, if this was totally handled? Describe your life to me, how it’s different.

Jodie: I would probably have a lot more energy because I wouldn’t be battling with this. And because it’s a sneaky battle, it happens way back in the tiny part of my mind. So I’m using up a lot of energy that I don’t even realize I’m doing. I would be able to practice what I preach a little bit more because I do have a sneaky wish to coach and help people with this very issue, cloaked around a whole lot of other things.

And I think I would get rid of the terror that is probably a really old terror of ill health. My family of origin have all struggled with health issues of one sort of another. And I can clearly see lifestyle factors have attributed to that. Gosh, it’s funny. Until you ask the direct question, you don’t realize what’s going on in your brain. Yeah, I’m very frightened of aging ungracefully.

Marc: Got it.

Jodie: Yeah.

Marc: Got it. So the benefits you would have is you would have more energy because this whole battle takes a lot of energy.

Jodie: Huge.

Marc: Yeah. You would maybe be able to practice what you preach and possibly even help others. And you also wouldn’t have this extra burden of, “Man, this could be causing me health issues. And I wouldn’t age gracefully and be healthy in the future.” Does that at all ring true? I’m just trying to feedback what you just said to me.

Jodie: It surely does, yeah. Yeah. I don’t want to be dependent unnecessarily of my own hand.

Marc: Got it. Okay. So I’ve got enough information right now so I can give you some thoughts and some advice and my take on what’s happening for you. And, again, remember we’re trying to cram six months to a year’s worth of work into one session. So a lot of what I’m going to be giving you was what I would call the punch line, meaning here is where I would want to help you get to if I was seeing you for a long period of time because basically I’m hearing out your wish. Here’s what you want to change. You don’t want to have this part of you where you’re going to this sugar and going to the cakes and going to the stuff that you don’t want to each. But you do it anyway.

And I also heard there’s a part of you that wants to look different. And I had to poke and prod a little bit to get that out of you, i.e. lose some of the body fat and some of the rolls that you don’t like that also you feel holds you back a little bit because you mentioned, “Yeah, when I’m around somebody who’s potential, I start to notice myself, thinking and judging my own body.” I’m paraphrasing. That shows up. So I’m saying that’s a concern in there.

And then there’s the health piece of, “Wow, I want to be healthy.” So here’s what I want to say. Oftentimes when we’re going against our own good wishes—“I know what I want to do. I just don’t do it.”—we always have a reason. We’re not that dumb.

There’s always a reason why we’re going against our own wishes. There’s another wish or there’s another momentum in us that’s stronger than our wish.

So when I hear your challenge where you say, “Hey, I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m not supposed to eat this stuff. But I eat it anyway.” So the first place my mind goes is, “Okay, so there’s probably a part of you that is more invested in eating it. And it has a good reason.” So if I can find out what that good reason is about why you would want to go against your own best wishes, then we have a place to work. Then we have an understanding.

So here’s what I want to suggest to you. And this is a little bit advanced. I’m going to call it a PhD tactic or understanding. Not every system or few systems of psychology—and in particular eating psychology—would think this, understand it, or relate to it. But there’s all different kinds of psychology. And we’re practicing here the kind of approach—don’t even call it psychology—just human design, how we are designed as human beings to think and feel and operate.

And what happens is consider this. Here’s what I want to say to you. Every time you go into this experience called, “I know what I’m supposed to eat. But then I ate that piece of cake. And I felt really good when I was doing it. And then afterwards I felt bad and guilty. And then my rebel came out and said, ‘Screw all of you!’ And then if I’m not careful from there, things could go downhill. Maybe yes, maybe no.”

What I’m saying is that scenario called, Go against my best wishes. Go against what’s right. Feel good in the process, then feel bad and then say, ‘Screw you’ to everybody,” that’s a pattern that has a different origin. So there’s an origin that pattern that happened earlier in life, is what I’m going to guess. And every time you go into that pattern, it’s repeating a consciousness that exists inside of us. We’re literally repeating this programming.

So there is the part of you—part of you, part of me, part of all of us—that wants to enjoy. “Give me the candy. Give me the sugar. Give me whatever it is I like. And let me enjoy it.” Okay. Makes perfect sense. I’ve got no problem that. And then afterwards, “I feel guilty.” It’s kind of like Adam and Eve. They took a bite of the apple and then they felt guilty. If kind of like anything you do something…Maybe you jumped in the sack with somebody. And it felt really good. And then maybe you felt guilty afterwards.

So you’re not the first person to do something pleasurable and then felt guilty. Humans have a weird relationship with pleasure. It’s often throws us into guilt because we haven’t always been taught how to just love on our bodies and absorb pleasure and enjoy it. So you had this thing about your body and food from a young age because you were getting messages from the environment, “You’re not okay. We don’t love you. We’re making fun of you, as a matter of fact, because of your shape.”

Then you got messages when you had this voluptuous body. Then you got messages of, “We love you. We like this.” And that still didn’t feel comfortable, which I find kind of interesting. And this happens to a lot of people. And you also said—oh, I want to make sure I don’t lose this one—you also said to me, “When I look back at pictures of me now, I thought I was so fat. I thought I didn’t look good. And I look back on those pictures. And I’m like, ‘Wow, you’re okay!’”

What I want to say first and foremost is twenty years from now, you could look at a picture of you today at age fifty-three and go, “What was I thinking? Why was I making myself so freaking crazy?” I don’t want you to do that ten years from now or twenty years from now or thirty years from now. That’s the pattern we want to stop because the mind gets co-opted. The mind gets programmed. The mind gets confused and distorted like a bad software program from all the nonsense that’s swimming around in the environment that says, “You’re supposed to look like this. You’re supposed to look like that.”

You got it at a young age because it exists in society. Kids pick it up really quickly. Kids can be brutal. And all you and I are concerned with as kids is we want to be liked and loved. We want people to like us. All kids want to know is, “I’m okay. I’m lovable. You like me.” When were not feeling lovable and you like me, problems happen from there.

Especially there’s a lot of weight hate in the world. There’s a lot of judgment against the body shape that is nonsense, that’s unfounded, that’s toxic.

And we believe that to they’re true. There’s a part of our brains that get convinced, “This body indeed isn’t right. It isn’t okay. It isn’t lovable.” So you bought into that, just like most other people too. It’s a bad belief. It’s a toxic virus that we catch. And it distorts the mind. And we think it’s true. There’s this underlying assumption that, “This is actually true. This body isn’t good. So I have to change it.”

Now, what happens is because we don’t get the kind of start in life where we’re given confidence, we’re given positive feedback, even when you do have the right to body, it still doesn’t register for you. Even when you did get the attention and, wow, here’s people loving you. Here’s guys wanting you. And it doesn’t feel safe because you haven’t yet learned how to feel safe, which is totally understandable. You haven’t learned how to feel safe. The world isn’t safe. “There’s all these guys wanting to get in bed with me. That’s not safe.” That’s correct. It’s not safe until you know how to manage that and handle it.

So really what it is for you is you never felt safe. You’ve never felt safe in whatever the hell body you had. You don’t feel safe. So it’s not about making the body look a certain way so you feel good about yourself because you have had different bodies. And they looked different.

And the deeper issue—it’s a life issue; it’s a soul issue—is you feeling safe in this world.

Now, here’s the thing. The world ain’t a safe place. You’ve got to look when you cross the street because it ain’t safe. There’s certain neighborhoods you don’t go into. It ain’t safe. There’s certain countries you don’t visit and just walk around anywhere. They might be in wartime. It ain’t safe. I can go on and on. There are certain people you don’t hang out with. It ain’t safe. There’s certain drugs you shouldn’t take. Not safe.

There’s a part of you that wants ultimate safety. And the way that reflects is, “I don’t want to get old. I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to get diseased.” And the reality is every human that came before me and you has gotten old at some point if they indeed didn’t die first. They get old. And we die of something. We will get unhealthy at some point. So there is no escaping that.

And to fear that is totally understandable and legitimate. Most humans have a deep fear of death, dying, and aging. And we don’t want to end up decrepit and in pain and just looking like a mess. And the truth is we don’t know what’s going to happen. That the boogey man, that’s big fear kind of has few right now. And grappling with that, dealing with that, managing with that, learning from it, in my languaging, I’m going to call it a spiritual act. I’m going to call it a place where you have to tap into something higher than you and start to wrap yourself around the fact that we age, we get unhealthy, and we die no matter what you eat.

And I want to tell you something. So far what you’ve described, the way you eat is probably a better diet than a majority of people on the planet already. There’s a lot of people who are following a lot worse diets where they don’t have enough food or they don’t have enough healthy food their environment. So what you’re doing food wise, you’re still in the top one percent of people on planet Earth in terms of taking care of yourself. You follow me?

Jodie: Mmm hmm.

Marc: How are you doing so far? I know I’m hitting you with some hard stuff here.

Jodie: Yeah. I’m hearing you. I’m good.

Marc: Okay. So I’m going to keep going. I know this is a little intense because I’m doing my best to strike right to where the action is here. From when you were young, the one thing you had that saved you was the rebellious part of you, the part of you that goes, “Screw it. I’m going to just enjoy this.”

Essentially what you’re saying is, “Screw it to all you people who are judging me. Screw it to all you people making fun of me. Screw it to this consciousness that says that by body isn’t lovable and acceptable and that I’m not lovable and acceptable. Screw it to all those people who are making fun of me. How dare you?! How dare you?!” The appropriate response is outrage.

However, as young people, as youngsters, we don’t have that available to us because we’re still young. We’re still immature. We’re still growing. Rage is not good if you’re a young kid, especially a young girl because that doesn’t buy you a lot. So you have to be good and you have to get quiet as a survival strategy.

So, “Okay, if I’m quiet enough, nobody is going to see me. So I won’t be made fun of.” So a part of you wants to be invisible. But there’s another part that goes, “Screw this invisibility bullshit. I’m me. I’m going to do what I want.”

So that the rebel part of you, when you tell me, “I rebel,” what I hear is, “Thank goodness.” It’s that part of you that is rebelling against the absolute nonsense that has come your way as a human being on planet Earth telling you that you’re not good enough for the body that you have and the person that you are. It’s nonsense. It’s an attack.

We don’t know how to defend ourselves. So we tried to defend ourselves. You know what a good way to defend yourself is? If a lion’s chasing you, you run somewhere and you hide. That’s actually a wise survival strategy. Another survival strategy: you try to fight the lion. Not such a good strategy if you’re a human. Chances are they’re going to win. Or you run away really freaking fast.

So those are brilliant survival strategies. So you use the survival strategy called hiding. And that doesn’t work at the end of the day. You can’t hide from life. And then the survival strategy called the rebel comes out. The rebel is the part that flexes your muscles and goes, “Wait a second. I’m my own person.” So when you eat the cake…This is on a symbolic level, the psyche, the mind, the emotions are very symbolic. They act in symbolic ways.

You’ll see certain people with psychological conditions. They’ll wash their hands a hundred times in a day. It’s a symbolic act that means something to the psyche. It’s not that that person’s so screwed up. Yeah, they have a behavior they can’t stop repeating. But there’s a reason for it.

So your symbolic behavior is you’re wanting pleasure. You’re wanting to feel good. And then when you feel good, you go into guilt because that’s what we’ve been taught.

You should feel guilty because, “Sugar is bad. And this is going to make me unhealthy. And I’m going to get fat,” and all this sort of thing. And maybe you don’t feel so great when you eat it. So you’re feeling guilty now. So now you’re feeling the guilt that you are reliving that you felt just being you.

“Oh, my God. I’m this kid. I’m in the world. Let’s play. Let’s have fun. Let’s have pleasure.” And, then, no, you’re made to feel guilty. So that’s what the eating experience does. It reproduces that whole thing. “I’m I kid that wants to have fun and play. But I’m made to feel guilty. And at some point, my rebel is going to come out. So I’m going to eat what I want. I’m going to do what I want. I’m going to live the life I want.”

I’m sure there’s a part of you that’s probably rebelled in other ways. Am I correct?

Jodie: Yeah.

Marc: Yeah. So that’s a good part of you. So I like the rebel in you. Yeah. So that’s a reframe. You need more of that. But I want you to use your rebel to rebel against this belief that, A) we’re going to live forever, B) we’re not going to get old, and C) rebel against the belief that somehow you can guarantee yourself the kind of health that’s going to make you nice and comfortable.

So there’s a part of you, I think, that needs to learn how to let go and trust. You need to do a personal spiritual encounter. Meditate every night. When you’re ready to go to bed, I want you to lie in bed and think about death and dying. Think about all the people who have come before you who’ve died. Think about how people that you’ve known have aged. Think about what you’re afraid of. Think about what you’re not afraid of. What do you want it to look like? What don’t you want it to look like? And just play with it. But I want you to see if you can embrace, “Someday I will die.” It’s going to happen. “And I will get old. And I don’t have control.” We have control in that we do the best we can. We eat as best we can.

I’m going to ask you a question. Have you ever met many people who really had a good lifestyle: they ate good food, took good care of themselves, and they got sick young and have health issues at a younger age? Have you seen that before?

Jodie: Yes. Yeah. Absolutely.

Marc: I know a ton of people like that who have the best diets. And they exercise their brains out. And they dropped dead of a heart attack at forty-four. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people die a lot younger.

Jodie: Major athletes.

Marc: Major athletes, yeah. So what I’m saying is there’s no guarantee. There’s no guarantee. And part of you is saying, “Well, this is a health issue. I need to eat this way for a health issue.” I think I believe you partly because I think the fear of death and aging is running you a little bit, which is understandable because it runs all of us.

But I think there’s another part where you’re also wanting to change your body and change your body fat. I think that’s also very important to you, more important than I think you realize. Because if you change that, somehow life is going to be better and you might get a guy. The fact that you’re with a potential person in your environment and you start worrying about your looks and thinking about body fat, that says to me that fear is in there. That belief is in there. And now it’s coming out into your consciousness.

So what I’m saying is a lot of people—I’ve heard this happen—a lot of people say, “Oh, I needed to change my diet for health issues.” It’s like, “No. You’re fine healthwise. You’re fine. You’re doing great. Are you perfect? No. But nobody is.” Even the perfect people still get old and still get sick and still die, sometimes long before you and I do. So there’s no guarantees in this game, absolutely none.

So what I’m saying is there’s a little bit of, “If I change my body, things are going to be a little better here, if I change my body fat.” So I want you to start to encounter that more and to begin to see how it’s not a good strategy. I want you to make what’s most important most important. It’s most important for you to have the life you want to live. It sounds like relationship is important for you. It sounds like what you do in the world in terms of your gift, your service, that’s important to you. So the things that are important to you should be placed first and foremost.

Losing a little bit of body fat, okay, it would be nice. But, geez, it runs us. And you said to me one of the benefits you would get, “If I didn’t have this anymore, I’d have more energy.” And you wisely pointed out, “Because there’s this battle going on that I think drains a lot of my energy, maybe more than I know.” And I’m saying hundred percent correct.

But think about this. If you had more energy, if you didn’t have this battle, what would make the battle stop? Part of your brain thinks, “The battle’s going to stop when I get rid of the body fats and I eat perfectly. And then I will be in this battle.”

And that’s backwards because you never will eat perfectly. I don’t know anyone who does. And the ones who do are kind of generally miserable.

I don’t know anybody who’s gotten their body to be exactly what they wanted to be. And when they do, it doesn’t stay there for long. And that’s the game we play.

So the only way to have more energy by not being in the battle is to let go of the battle because you’re the one that’s calling for war. You’re the one that’s warring on your body fat. You’re the one that’s saying, “I have to eat a certain way. And if I don’t, I’m going to be in misery. And I’m going to be in struggle.” So I’m saying you’ve got to call a cease-fire because it’s you attacking you. And you have to call the cease-fire.

And this is self-evolution. This is you getting control of your mind because right now, your mind is fighting against itself. There’s two different camps up here. And when I’m saying to you, this is everybody I know are in battles in their mind. And if we don’t get clear and conscious about what those battles are and what the setup is, the battle continues. And we’re just kind of standing by watching and being casualties of that war and feeling abused and feeling like we never get what we want. But the battle’s going on inside your brain. and the battle is, “I need to eat a certain way and look a certain way. So then I can get this result, which will be I’m going to be comfortable. My weight is going to be just right so I can attract a mate. And my diet is going to be just right like and be nice and healthy and somehow age gracefully,” and—I don’t know—whatever happens after that.

So all I’m saying is I want you to let go of that battle. I want you to just say what if this was your body for the rest of your life? Assume the body that you have right now ain’t gonna change. This is it. It’s going to be just like this in terms of weight and shape. Can you love it? Can you say, “Okay, this is what I’ve got.” Because you haven’t yet done that for yourself you’ve been waiting for the world to kind of give you that outside approval. “Okay, Jodie. We love you now just like you are. It’s safe.”

You have to make safety in an unsafe world. You make safety by saying, “Jodie, I love you no matter what.” The world didn’t tell you that. Kids didn’t tell you that. Chances are your parents didn’t necessarily tell you that. “We love you no matter what.” Your dad definitely inferred, “Okay, this part of you needs to change. I still love you. Ha ha. But look at this.” So you heard the message. You heard the message that he was delivering, which is, “This isn’t good enough for me. You’re not really exactly loved for how you look, for who you are.”

So you got that message at a young age. It’s not fair. It’s terrible. I wish we could change that. Your dad was doing the best he can. Your mom did the best she can. People do the best they can. It’s not about blaming your parents. But it’s seeing where we came from. It’s seeing where we came from and realizing that you’re not that kid anymore. You’re not that kid who’s helpless. But sometimes we act like that kid that we were way back when. We still act that way.

So you have to say, “I’m going to create safety for myself in this world by not abandoning myself, by not saying to myself, ‘Oh, I don’t love you exactly because look at these rolls. And look at this. And look at that. Look at how you’re eating.’”

I want you to be able to love yourself no matter what you eat, no matter what you look like. And forgive yourself.

What would happen if every time you ate the muffin, your best friend tells you, “I don’t love you anymore. You suck. I don’t want to be your friend. You’re not good enough for me.” Wow. That would be terrible to have friends like that. But that’s what we say to ourselves. So you’ve got to be a better friend to yourself. You have to be a best friend to yourself because every time you go into criticism—especially at this point in the game, especially in your fifties—you’re killing yourself. It’s a soul killing. It’s a soul attack.

Now, I’m being heavy here. But the good news is you can call a cease-fire in any moment and say, “Wait a second. Even though I came to the sugar, I still love myself. It kind of sucks. I wish I wouldn’t have done that. I want to change next time. But I am going to stand by myself. Even though I look like this, I’m going to love myself. And I’m going to learn how to enjoy this.”

Because as you do that, the way you’re gravitating towards sugar is going to start to change. It’s not about you stopping the behavior called, “I go for sugar.” Sure, we could tie your hands behind your back or something or staple your mouth shut. We could do extreme measures to make sure you don’t do that behavior. But that doesn’t solve anything. You’re not going to change the behavior by attacking the behavior in this case.

There’s little tricks you can do. You can make sure you have enough healthy protein in your diet, make sure you have enough healthy fat. Every time you feel a sugar craving, a great thing to do is have some vegetable broth or some miso broth or any kind of mineral broth like miso soup. They have instant miso soup. It mineralizes your system really quick, alkalinizes your system fast. It can take away a craving. That’s a help. And it’s really good. But it’s still not going to get to the bottom of what’s really happening, which is you’re going to gravitate towards the sugar because it’s the only pure pleasure you give yourself sometimes.

Jodie: I call them treats.

Marc: Yeah. Because you’re constantly beating yourself up. You’re not self- approving. If I’m not self-approving, if I’m in a constant state of, “I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough.” There’s a little background noise. “I should really not be doing this. I shouldn’t be doing that. And I should look different,” then we want to get the hell out of that mindset. And sometimes the only way to do that is through drugs. And drugs might be alcohol. It might be sugar. It might be certain kinds of sugar. It might be ice cream. It might be cake. It might be gambling. It might be some kind of addiction. But we need pleasure, for God’s sake. We need to feel good because humans are designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. You cannot beat yourself up all the time. At some point, we’ve got to go, “Time out, already. I need some goodies.”

So actually when you’re going for sugar, you’re trying to relieve yourself of the pain—check this out—of self-attack.

I’m going to say that again. When you’re going for the sugar, a part of you was trying to relieve yourself of the pain of self-attack and self-judgment and, “I’m not good enough,” which is the same thing that happened early on in your life. “I’m being attacked. I’m not being loved. I’m not good enough.” Sugar is going to make you feel better. And it’s faithful. Every time you do it, you feel good!

Jodie: It’s always there.

Marc: It doesn’t disappoint you. And it’s always there. So what I want to say is, Jodie, it’s a brilliant strategy. It’s a smart strategy because we need as humans to feel some good and to feel some pleasure and bliss because life is hard. Life isn’t easy. Few people do I know will say, “My life is easy.” Life is not easy. So you need to feel a little bit of goodies. And that’s why you go for the sugar.

So what I’m saying is you have to start to go on a program of self-love. You’ve got to call off the attack. Stop changing your body. Stop wanting to change your body. Every time you catch yourself thinking, “Oh, my God. Look at this body fat,” or, “I want to change this,” I want you to catch yourself and drop into a moment of self-appreciation.

So here’s an idea. Here’s a practice that will help you do this. Every night before you go to sleep, when you’re in bed, I want you to have a little journal. And it’s a gratitude journal. And you write down what you’re grateful for that happened in the day, little things, big things, tiny things, something somebody said, something that happened. What are you grateful for? But I always want you to include at least five bullet points of what you’re grateful for about your body and your health.

“I’m grateful today that I got through the day. And I’m okay. I lived.” “I’m grateful that I could take a walk.” “I’m grateful that I’m still healthy.” “I’m grateful that I still have my wits about me.” “I’m grateful that even though I’m fifty-three, I’m still vibrant and I still love life and I still love experiences. And I have good people around me. And have beautiful children.”

You spend a lot of time thinking when you don’t have and thinking about the bad stuff that’s going to happen. I’m wanting to shift to that into trusting life more, trusting in the unknown. So the gratitude journal will start to put you in the moment of appreciating what you have and letting go of trying to change your body and noticing the places where you abandon yourself.

Abandoning yourself means you treat yourself like other people treated you. You’ve taken they are nonsense and put it into your brain. That’s what happens to us as humans. We take the outside voices—mother, father, school, people, media—we interject it. We put it inside our own brains. And it becomes the program that runs us. So I’m saying that program’s been running you. And now we’re going to take conscious action and change that program.

Jodie: Yeah.

Marc: So do what you’re doing. When you eat sugar, I want you to slow down. Relax and enjoy it. And if you feel guilty afterwards, I want you to then go into forgiveness.

“Can I forgive myself for being imperfect? Can I love myself even though I ate that sugar?”

And what I want to say if I would like for you to have something small every day. I’d like for you to have some small treat every day. I want you to plan it in every day. “Every day, I have a small treat.” It’s part of your game plan. You’re trying to get rid of it. I’m saying that hasn’t worked. So let’s just accept it.

Have the muffin. If you want to cut it down to half, great. If you can’t, fine. Have the chocolate bar. If you want to eat half of it, great. If you can’t, fine. But I really want you to enjoy it. Plan on it as part of your day. And I would love for you to go back to the same places and not have to go to different places and go for the junk. And be proud that you’re going for your treat every day. “I’m treating myself.”

That’s going to be hard, huh?

Jodie: A little. It’s a sort of like going into the skid.

Marc: Yeah. This is you coming out. This is you coming out and being you. And it’s time to stop worrying about what you think the world is thinking. It’s time to stop worrying about what you think other people’s opinions are. I guarantee you nobody’s sitting in that coffee shop thinking, “Oh, my God. There she is again.” That’s a bunch of nonsense. That’s in your head. And you know something? If anybody’s thinking that, they’re not your friend. You’re not interested in that. Cross them off the list. Thank God they’re so dumb because now you know, “Stay away from them.”

You could eat the perfect diet and there’s still people that are going to hate on you. You could eat the worst diet and there’s people who are going to love on you. There’s always going to be the lovers, the haters, and everybody else in between. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you eat, and what you look like.

Jodie: Yeah. The trying to keep everybody happy thing has been a thing. And I have been able to work through it in other aspects of my life. That’s it. That’s the driving force in the little complex thing that’s going on up here.

Marc: Yeah. And it doesn’t mean you don’t love other people and you don’t care about them. But when you’re leading first with, “How can I make you happy? How can I make you happy?” you disempower yourself. And you end up in unhappiness because it doesn’t work. We can’t make everyone happy.

Jodie: Like you said, having the fear run things.

Marc: Yeah. Once you stop running from yourself and running from the truth of who you are and trying to make people happy and trying to run away from pleasure and trying to run away from self-love and trying to run towards goal that’s never going to happen, once you just stop running and say, “Okay, here’s me…” You’ve been on the planet long enough. This is you. Parts of you that are great, parts of you that are not so perfect. Great. Welcome to the human family.

We’re all the same. We all have things we’re good at, things we’re not so good at. We look how we look. And it’s time for you to own it and spend the rest of your life as best as humanly possible enjoying what you’ve got and celebrating it and living life from that place instead of trying to posture and position and walk around the world as if you’re a criminal because you’re trying to get a little bit of pleasure somewhere.

So you deserve to feel good. You deserve pleasure. And this is your body. And it’s going to fluctuate. You’re going to gain weight. You’re going to lose weight. You’re going to be healthy. And then you’re going to get sick. And then you’ll get healthy again. It’s the same thing that every human goes through.

And it’s not abandoning yourself. You standing by yourself like a good friend, like a good mother and saying, “I’m going to love you no matter what.”

Do you abandon your kids because they eat sugar? You don’t do that. Do you hate on your kids because they have body fat? No. So stop doing it to you. Be a little nicer.

Jodie: Yeah.

Marc: You’ve got some good homework here, Jodie!

Jodie: Phew!

Marc: Right?

Jodie: I sure do!

Marc: So I just threw a lot into your court there. I really threw a lot. But I want to tell you where I came from in the session. Where I came from is if you were my sister, if you were my relative, and this was the only time we ever would get to talk about this and if I was going to leave this thing and die and ascend to heaven and this was my last session, here’s what I would say to you. Here’s what I would say to you so you can get to where you want to go quickest.

I want to circumvent and move around all the nonsense. And there’s all kinds of dietary tweaks to help you eat less sugar. And somebody could say, “Just use your willpower. Don’t eat the sugar.” For some people that might work. But for you, what I’m getting is there’s something very different going on, which is what I’ve been talking about. And honestly your little sugar thing ain’t so bad. It really isn’t. Relative to what other people have, you think it’s so bad.

It’s really you playing out the drama in your mind that has you going from, “I’m not loved. I’m not accepted. I need some pleasure,” to, “Then I feel guilty. Then I rebel.” That’s a bit in your life. Forget about the sugar. That’s been your life. So now we’re saying, “Okay, let’s change that whole pattern and not to live life from that reactive, automatic pattern.”

So we interrupt that pattern. And the way you interrupt that pattern is with self-love, is with self-acceptance, is with catching yourself when you’re self-attacking with negative thoughts and saying to yourself, “Would I want my friend talking to me like this? Would I talk like this to my children?” The answer is always, “No, I wouldn’t.” And then you catch yourself. And you turn it off in that moment.

And it’s practice. You’re not going to get it perfect the first time. And it’s a daily practice of changing how you are thinking and believing about yourself and the world. And gradually you’re going to hit a point where you’re going to skyrocket. And you’re going to leave all this. I promise you. You practice that. You’re going to hit a point where you leave all this nonsense behind. And you’re going to be you for the first time in your life.

I would love for you to have the experience being alive and saying, “Here I am. Ain’t nothing more to change! No more to change.” Are you going to still grow? Yes. Are you going to still get better? Yes. But there’s nothing more to change for us to love you more or for you to love you more. This is you. Your kids are going to change. And you still love them the same amount.

It’s like, “I love less, more.” No. They are going to change. You’re going to change. But there’s no way you have to change at this point for anyone to love you more, including you. Once you get that, then ta-da! Here you are. And you’re living your life for the first time, truly.

I believe you can do this.

Jodie: Yep.

Marc: Yeah. Do you think you can?

Jodie: [Hesitates] Yes. Yes, I can.

Marc: Yeah. Yeah.

Jodie: It’s busy up here.

Marc: It is busy up here. Here’s what I want to suggest. Because, like I said, this is a very intense conversation. So what I want to see, what I would suggest is after we finish this conversation in another minute or so, give yourself some time in a weird way to see if you can not think so much. Just ten or fifteen minutes. Maybe take a walk and just to get out of your mind because there’s another part of you that’s going to absorb.

I just want to say one more piece about you. This is observationally. You have a very strong mind and a very sharp mind. And your mind is very active. And it’s your go-to place to figure things out. You like to figure things out. And you like to take things and spin them in every different direction. And that’s great. That’s a tremendous talent and skill. And it can also be a disadvantage when we spend too much time up in command central here.

So what I want you to do after this conversation is see if you can take a walk. Quiet your mind and just feel. Just feel.

Feel the feelings that you’re feeling as opposed to think words. And as soon as you feeling a feeling—I don’t care what it is—see if you can feel those feelings without saying, “Oh, I’m feeling this because umph.” Don’t go into thoughts about the feelings. Just feel. Just feel it. And then later on you could think about stuff and take notes for yourself. Okay?

Jodie: Yep.

Marc: And you’re already doing it right now. It’s like you’re dropping and more. And that’s where you’re going to transform. You’re not going to transform up here. You’re going to transform in here, in your body, by feeling. Because there’s a lot of course correction that’s going to happen for you from the session. But you have to allow yourself to feel it, which means quieting down, slowing down, unhooking your mind, and letting your body feel. It’s as simple as that.

Jodie: Mmm hmm.

Marc: [Exhales]

Jodie: [Exhales] [Laughs]

Marc: Yeah! Good for you! Good for you! That’s the appropriate response. I love it. Jodie, you’ve got your homework in front of you. I’ll send you an email with my notes from this session. Thank you for being so brave. Thank you for sharing so generously.

I just want to let you know this was for you. But it’s also for all of us because there’s a lot of people who are on this journey who have the same were very similar story as you do. So you’re not alone in this. Even though you’re unique and this was for you, there’s also a service happening there by your merely generously sharing your own journey. So thank you for that. I really mean that.

Jodie: You’re welcome.

Marc: Yeah. Okay. You take care of yourself. Thank you so much.

Jodie: Thank you.

Marc: Yeah. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast. Lots more to come.

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  • Marie

    Wow! Marc, thank you for sharing this and God bless you Jodie for being so vulnerable and real!
    I’ve taken some points away from this that I really need to let settle into my heart.
    Thank you – God bless you both.

    • Thank you, Marie–I’m so glad you were able to learn from this! Warmly, Marc

  • Silvia

    Jodie’s story is so much like mine. This was a godsend! Thank you so much for sharing. I really feel this is going to help me in breaking through my body issues.

    • Thank you for letting us know that you found this podcast helpful, Silvia! We appreciate your tuning in! Warmly, Marc

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.