Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 163: Follow-Up: Even A Great Health Coach Can Struggle with Weight
Joe lost over 150 pounds and went on to become a health coach, helping others to develop a positive self image and create the healthy body they desire. He practices consistent self care, regular exercise, and great nutrition, and knows that he will never never regain the weight he lost – most of the time. However, there is a part of him that fears his weight challenges will always be with him, waiting in the wings to return the moment he lets down his guard, and he’d like to put these uncertainties to rest so that he can move on. In this uplifting session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helps Joe to realize that the way through is to honor the part of his life cycle that he’s in right now: a time to get more precise, to sharpen his inner sword, and to find the confident warrior within.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
To see Joe’s first session with Marc, click here!
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m with Joe today. Welcome, Joe.
Joe: Hi, Marc.
Marc: So, Joe, you and I are doing a follow-up session. And for people who are new to the podcast, Joe and I met a bunch of months ago for the first time. And we talked about a few things. And this is our chance to get caught up and see what’s happening.
So, Joe, I’m wondering if you can just give people just a quick summary of some of the key thing you have wanted to work on.
Marc: And if you have a weather report, just tell us how you’ve been doing, what’s up, and anything interesting to let us know about.
Joe: Thanks, yeah. What we talked about last time was that I’ve been on quite a weight loss journey myself. And I lost a ton of weight. And a bunch of it I lost while eating really completely plant-based. I don’t love calling it vegan because I blur the lines a little bit here and there, but really plant-based. I don’t eat meat.
Marc: What’s a ton of weight for you?
Joe: A hundred sixty pounds.
Marc: That’s a ton. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Joe: Yeah. Well, technically not quite a ton. For a human being, several tons I think. But, yeah, that was kind of the crux of it. And I’ve been questioning whether or not I moved into eating that way really from a fear perspective, from a fear-based perspective. And looking back, I really did. I was really fearful of, really, wasn’t weight, but it was more of some of the health detriment that’s out there from our conventional meat and dairy, et cetera.
And so I was questioning moving back into allowing some meat into my life, we had a nice big discussion around that. And we also talked about some fairly consistent bloating that I’ve experienced most of my life, from a child, until now, and through all kinds of seasons of diet change.
So that’s what we talked about last time. And you shared some really interesting perspectives. We spent the bulk of the time talking about some really fascinating and unique perspectives around the whole global issue of eating other beings and animals and such. So it was really fascinating to hear that.
Where I’m at around all that is I’ve experimented a lot with the whole issue of bloating. I’ve used some probiotics that have helped. I’ve eaten more cooked food. I mean I love to eat just massive salads and I snack on raw veggies and stuff. And I’ve done a little less of that.
I’ve been cooking food more. I’ve been moving to a little more grain for protein rather than just legumes and lentils and beans and such. And so I’ve had some relief and I noticed – I’m still experimenting with that. Not all the way gone, but it’s been better. And I’m just learning more about my body and what I can do and take in.
As far as the eating meat, I haven’t really eaten any meat. I haven’t done anything around that. I felt like our conversation helped me over a mental hurdle around the idea of eating meat. It helped me understand that there’s a deeper trust of myself and my body and my ability to keep my body at the weight that it’s naturally supposed to be, even if I choose to eat meat, even if I choose to eat dairy.
But I just haven’t actually taken any action. I feel a lot more comfortable to do so when I feel called. But I don’t desire it. I can look at – my girlfriend could be cooking up bacon and I can go, “That’s smells nice. It looks great.” And there’s nothing in my body or my brain that goes, “Eat that now.” So I’m just kind of trying to follow my body wisdom and my intuition. And until I really feel a strong calling to eat it, I don’t think I will.
I may experiment. I may just try something. Get a really good quality piece of meat and give it a shot. But after we had the discussion, I feel like I jumped over a wall. But I still have no like strong desire to start experimenting again with meat. So that’s the update there. Yeah, that’s the update there.
Another update is around life, like I mentioned to you earlier. I’m in my own coaching practice and I’m just feeling the ebbs and flows of the first year in getting that started. And I’m learning to sit with more of my full spectrum of emotion, especially with some sadness that I feel like I’ve always kind of stuffed down and suppressed and not felt.
I’m feeling a lot more of that these last few months through some work that I’ve done with another coach that I work with. So that’s been interesting. It’s been fruitful. And I feel like I’m in a more authentic place than I probably have been before. So that’s the weather report, man.
Marc: That’s a good report, my friend. One thing that really kind of lands for me when we talk is that you’re very awake to your experience and you’re awake to your journey. And I mean, it sounds so simple and obvious for a human being to do.
But I think what I notice so much is that it’s easy for us in this world to kind of be going through the motions. And to eat what we eat. And do what we do. And not feel what we feel. And just kind of put the blinders on so we can get from point A to point B.
And you have a way of really – when you need to kind of put the brakes on and just being very aware of yourself, which for me is, in a sense, one of the foundations for being a good practitioner or a helping professional of any kind. Hard for me to pay attention and sniff out somebody else’s challenges if I’m not paying attention to myself, you know?
So I just want to acknowledge that I recognize that in you. I think it’s a beautiful thing. Can we talk about the bloating piece for a minute?
Marc: So, you started eating more cooked food and you notice a little bit of relief.
Joe: Yeah. Very specifically, I notice the difference when – so I notice my body a lot. So I’ve made a switch for a couple reasons, one thing I didn’t bring up. Metabolically, no matter what I eat and what my body is like, my weight is like, what my diet – what I’m eating in my diet, since I’m 19, I’m really great at making kidney stones.
So it’s been getting worse the last couple of years. I had a rough battle early in the year. So I’ve also been experimenting with that. And that’s also been leading to me cooking more of the foods and cook more greens and cook more vegetables and moving out of a little bit of the legumes and nuts for my protein, because those happen to be pretty high in the stuff that makes the stones.
So it’s been a dual-purpose exploration. And that experiment has led – yes, I’ve absolutely noticed that when I eat a big salad, and it’s a pretty balanced salad from – there’s some avocado on there and there’s seeds and there’s beans and there’s whatever on there. I tend to notice the bloating more than if I were to have, say, some cooked veggies and grains, right?
Joe: So definitely, I noticed the difference there. Absolutely.
Marc: Yeah. For people listening in, it’s a kind of a simple nutritional principle that is dramatically overlooked. Which is that, it’s easy for the nutritional mind to wrap around beautiful raw salads. Like a beautiful raw salad, in a lot of ways, is like the nutritional God. It’s the deity.
Marc: Even if you’re a junk food eater and you don’t care about nutrition, most people have it in their brain somewhere that, “Yeah, that’s the right thing to eat.” And what happens for so many humans is that, for many of us, raw food is just simply not easy to breakdown. Cooking begins the digestive process for many people. So the raw is great. Raw doesn’t necessarily mean it’s great for your body in such large amounts or this amount or this amount. We don’t know. Everybody is different.
That’s a thing that drives me bonkers about the field of nutrition is we want to get so absolute and so rigid.
And I think one of the best nutritional commandments is to do what works and let go what doesn’t, no matter what that is. If big raw salad was the best thing in the world for you to eat, I would go, “Great, eat as much as possible. Wonderful.” And if it’s not working for you, I would go, “Great, don’t eat so much.” It doesn’t matter to me. I just want to know what works.
So it sounds to me that you are on a journey to really fine tune your body. And I wish this was different. I wish it was simpler for people. Like you just go to the health food store. You buy your food. You eat it. You digest it. You break it down. You’re done, and then on to the next thing.
And sometimes our health journey, our nutritional journey requires that we be so specific. Because the body is specific, the mind is specific, life gets specific with us. And you’re being asked, it seems like to dig into and dive into details for yourself, because sometimes God is in the details. The wisdom is in the nuances. And the more you get good at that for yourself, the more you’re going to be able to see it in other people, I think.
Joe: Yeah, beautiful. Yeah, it’s an interesting thing to notice. Because I’m also monitoring like where’s my energy and how is it affecting energy. So that’s a part of this whole tweaking equation. You got it right, it’s where I’m at. So I’m kind of starting to figure myself out more and more dietarily. You come to a plateau and you think you’re at the top of the mountain, right?
And this is from all growth, I think, in general. And I keep finding, “Okay, well there’s a bunch more up there and there’s a mountain over there and there’s all this new stuff to take on and learn.” So yeah, I’m definitely fine tuning to learn more about my body.
Marc: Have you explored specific carbohydrate diet or checked into any of that information?
Joe: Specific carbohydrate diet?
Joe: No, I haven’t explored that. But I’d be interested, yeah.
Marc: Yeah. So, Google that. You could also go to SCD, specificcarbohydratedietlifestyle.com. I believe that’s Steve and Jordan, they’re buddies of mine, ton of great information on that. There’s this whole fascinating zone of nutrition where it depends on the fiber. And some people, there’s certain – see, here’s also the thing about fiber. So when you hear the term fiber, think fruits, vegetables, plants, okay? The backbone of a tree is essentially fiber.
But not all fiber is the same. So you and I could grab a microscope and grab a bunch of fruits and veggies. And we look at a piece of celery fiber and you compare it to a piece of apple fiber to a piece of pear fiber, it is so different. You wouldn’t even know that they were classified as the same substance. Do you ever eat a pear and it’s really almost gritty?
Marc: So if you look at a pear fiber under a microscope, they’re like little sharp objects. They look like little knives. Whereas if you look at a piece of celery fiber, it’s nice and long and tubular. So all I’m saying is different fibers impact different people differently. And you might be able to handle all – this, this, this and this. But this kind of fiber, no, it doesn’t work for you.
So sometimes that’s how elegant the body wants to get. Who knows why we’re like that, but the bottom line is that’s what’s going on. So anyway, I think that might be an interesting area for you to explore because it will help you tweak even more. And that helps a lot of people move the needle when they start to play around with that.
Joe: That’s great. I’m going to check that out. And as you’re talking, what comes up for me too is the whole – the bloating, energy, the meat, it’s all kind of interrelated and interconnected. Because as I’m learning more and more about what I do digest well and what I don’t, I’m also learning that excluding meat is limiting me at times.
So, for example, I’m not truly sensitive to gluten. I can have some seitan. But if I have a dish of quinoa and seitan, just to get a decent amount of calories in me, to sustain me, it also makes me a little more lethargic an hour or so later.
So I’m really kind of as I’m tweaking and I’m playing with it and I’m relying on grains a little bit more for protein instead of like seeds and nuts and beans, there’s a gap there. So that’s all tied in. I think the fact that I’ve mentally broken down the barrier to meat eating might help as I move through this. Because I think, partially, I might need to be moving to some sort of animal product to get the protein without all of that fiber that either messes with my kidneys or makes me bloated. So that’s all part of the little puzzle that’s coming together.
Marc: Yeah. And also Joe, and I know you know this and I’m stating the obvious, but I just want to say this for all of us listening in, that really what we’re talking about – yes, we’re talking about nutrition, but the whole point of it is, so you can be the best you. So, “Okay, I’m Joe, and I’m doing that which gives me energy. So then I’m getting energy from my food, I’m not eating and getting lethargic and bloating. So when I eat, I’m fueled, I’m empowered, I’m alive and I’m nourished, and I can go out there and be the best me in this world.” That’s what this is all about.
It’s like here we are, we buy these expensive cars and then we have to figure out what does the car need, exactly how do we take care of it. And supposedly we have that down to a science, because you want your machine running well. And on a certain level, that’s us.
We have this biological machine, how do we help it function? So I can just be me, like the best expression.
Joe: Exactly. Love it. I’m like shaking my head over and over again over here, because that’s exactly my whole philosophy. I’m a little fanatical about self-care. And I think that’s a good thing. And it’s not about how I look. It’s about how I feel and how I show up and how I connect with other people. How I create community. How well I’m able to focus and listen. And just be there for myself and others. So, I’m just loving the way you put it. It’s beautiful.
Marc: I’m also glad for you that you’re owning your fanaticism. I think fanaticism sometimes – sometimes it gets a bad name, just because the word can have a little bit of a slight negative tinge to it. But the reality is, if I want to go – I don’t know – I have a guy that works me out two or three time a week and he’s an exercise guy. But let me tell you, he’s a fanatic. And he knows so much about the body and he’s so into it and he has so many distinctions and he lives it and he breaths it. That’s the guy I want working out with me, because he is a fanatic. He loves it.
When he gets home, he talks about it. He reads about it. He thinks about it. And usually when we’re fanatic about something, I think another way to say that probably is that we’re really passionate about it. And that passion drives us into knowledge. We want to learn about it. And to me, when we own that, particularly as professionals in this field or any field, when you own your fanaticism, you’re basically telling the world, “I’m passionate about this.” So if you want to talk to me about this stuff, let’s go, you know?
Joe: Yeah. Wonderful. I love it. I love it. Yeah, there are two sides to every coin. Fanaticism or obsession could be so stressful and damaging or it can really be liberating. I love that.
Marc: So where are you at with your relationship with your weight right now? Like, if I say, “Joe, okay, man, you’ve lost all this weight in the past. You know a lot about food and nutrition. You take care of yourself. Like are you totally cool with how much you weigh? Do you think, “Oh, my God, Am I going to gain it back?” Like where are you?
Joe: Yeah, that’s a good question. We spoke about that a little bit last time. I feel like at 180 pounds or so, it’s the lowest I’ve ever been. I think I went into high school, five-foot four, 230 pounds. So we’re talking a whole big difference of person, even when I was a kid. But I’m pretty happy with where things are. I don’t really fear any sort of big backslide, long term.
Since I got under the 200-pound mark, I’ve fluctuated up and down a little bit. And I have a pretty strong threshold of knowing, “Okay, if I come up to a certain point, that means I’m not doing something to take care of myself.” So I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’ve gone back over the 200-pound mark. Hung out there a couple of months and went, “Okay, these past few months, I have not been taking care of myself the way I want to.” So then I course correct and adjust. So I don’t have a big fear.
I will say this, to be totally authentic, since the last time we talked, I’ve gained about four or five pounds. And it’s bothering me a little bit. At the end of the day, it’s not a big deal. But pants are a little snugger, right? And that just reminds me of my body. And it reminds of my weight. In a way, it kind of grounds me and keeps me – it helps me remember the journey I’m on, right?
And what I’m kind of called to help the world do with my own work. But it’s a little physically uncomfortable, that’s the only problem. The number, I don’t care. I maybe weigh every five or six weeks. But, yeah, I’ve brought up a little bit. So I want to say, ideally, I don’t care that much, but I do. But I do, because of the physical feeling of the way the pants fit or the shirt fits or something like that, you know?
Marc: It sounds like a healthy relationship, simply because it is real and it is honest. We are human. It’s like, “Hey, yeah, that impacts me and here’s how. And am I losing a ton of sleep? No. But it’s got my attention to the degree that it has my attention,” which is probably no different than, I don’t know, if you were working out too hard and your arms were hurting, you might pay attention to that. Is it a good hurt? Is it a bad hurt?
So it feels to me like you’re staying in contact with your body, with your experience, and letting it teach you, you know?
Joe: Yeah, exactly. It’s a call to attention. If I’m aware of, “Okay, I’m putting on a couple of pounds here and there, what’s going on?” Right now, I have to be pretty gentle with myself because I’m experimenting with my diet. I’m in that experimental phase. I’m trying to figure out what fuels me in a way that doesn’t discomfort me in other ways.
Because consistent bloating and kidney stones, not fun, at all. So I’m working on that and I’m changing things up. And I know what to do if I want to get down to 180 exactly. If I want to be 170, I know exactly what to do. I could do it if I want. But right now, I’m on a little different journey, so I have to be okay with that. And it’s easier said than done.
Marc: Where do you want to see yourself a year from now? Where would you like to be?
Joe: Wow, that’s a big question. In general or just with body and weight and food?
Marc: Yes, both.
Joe: Oh man, with body and weight and food, I would like to just keep experimenting. Honestly, I would like to be around the same weight and I like to keep experimenting. I’d like to be at a point where I’m really even more aware than I am now. I know what happens when I eat this. I know what happens when I eat that. I’m a little further along on figuring out the bloating. I’d love to get some test results back soon that say that my oxalate levels are down, so I’m not going to be battling these kidney stones, that I figured that out.
So I’m just willing to continue to tweak and I’d like to be in more connection with my body. I think I can embody even more where I feel myself even more. Like recently, I’ve noticed, I’m walking through the city and often I feel a lot of tension in my abdomen. I’m going, “Okay, why am I tense? Why aren’t I breathing?” And so, I’m just wanting to be more and more in connection with the body a year from now. And I’d love my weight to be around the same. I don’t need it to be lower. Don’t really want it to be higher, that’s kind of that.
And around other things in life, man, I want to be, like I’ve told you, I’m building my own practice coaching, I want to be really stable with that practice. I know it’s never truly stable, right, building a small practice and being a solo entrepreneur. But I’d like to be more on stable ground than I am now, because I’d like to be impacting more people. And to do that at my best, I’ve got to be in a position where I’m helping people, they’re paying me for it, and the whole relationship works.
So that’s where I’d like to be professionally. I’d like to be more stable. I’d like to know that the stress that I have around creating the practice is the good stress of helping people and helping them grow. Not the stress of, “Wow, will this be financially stable? Will this truly launch?” So that’s kind of where I’d like to be on a professional level.
Marc: I get it. I get it. That’s really sweet.
I just want to highlight the one word that you said. You mentioned, “I want to have a bigger impact.”
I am highlighting that because, so often, when we’re framing our life and our wishes and our wants, like, “I want to make more money.” Great. Great, great, great, great. “I want to do this, I want to do that.” When you frame it as ‘I want to have more impact,’ having more impact feels so much bigger than making more money, if you know what I’m saying.
I think it includes that. It’s sort of inherent in that. But it just feels like it adds a bigger component. It adds a mission to it. It kind of gives a little bit of wind to the wings of money because impact is – it could have ego, but it’s just saying, “Hey, I want to give my best. I want to do what I can do.”
And that, I think, is what’s going to move all of us forward. How do you want to have impact? And it doesn’t mean we have to have these grandiose visions. It’s just how do we each want to show up in this world and what’s our legacy, you know? How do we want to be remembered? How do we want to touch people?
And it’s kind of fascinating. I think how we care for the body and how we nurture our purpose here is kind of very similar. It seems to be a little bit of a package deal sometimes.
Joe: Yeah. I can only agree with that, absolutely. That’s the work I’m doing with people. Just trying to help them understand that how they care for themselves is very much how they show up in the rest of their life.
Joe: And that’s it.
Marc: Same here. And it might be obvious to me and you and to anybody listening in, but it doesn’t always land for people, I think, because we’re educated to separate things. So here’s my health. Here’s the work I do in the world. Here’s my relationship. And they’re all in these little boxes. And they’re all really connected, sometimes in a pretty powerful way.
Joe: Yeah. Wow.
Marc: Well, my friend, I am so happy that we have gotten to connect. And I’m just really glad for you and I just feel like you are on your journey and you’re on your path and you’re on target. And I’m thrilled for where you’re at and I’m thrilled for where you’re going.
Joe: Thank you, Marc. Thank you. I’m grateful to be here and talking to you. I’m grateful that I found your work as an inspiration to help me understand a lot of what I’ve gone through in life and what I continue to go through and help other people through, so just full of gratitude. I’m very touched right now. Somehow tying those pieces together at the end just felt – just kind of hit me in a beautiful way.
Marc: Yay. Thanks so much, Joe. So appreciate it. I also appreciate you just taking the time, sharing yourself so real and honestly with everybody tuning in right now. So, thanks.
Joe: Okay, man.
Marc: And thank you, everybody, for being here. Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast, I’ve been hanging out with Joe. And as always my friends, lots more to come. You take care.
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