Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #189 – A Bodybuilder Confronts Her Body Image

Is it possible to practice self-love and mindful eating while also entering a bodybuilding competition? That’s the question Megan is asking herself. As a fitness trainer and a IFBB bikini pro, Megan is grappling with her desire to compete and her desire to heal her relationship with her body and food. Can she have both? In this unique session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and Megan discuss what’s possible for her future in fitness. She wants to end the torture of obsessive dieting and the fear she feels around weight gain and tracking her food. She also wants to continue pursing professional bodybuilding. Marc guides Megan into how to create balance and awareness so that her next competition is one she is ready to face with less fear and anxiety and more compassion, forgiveness, and self-acceptance.

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 here we are back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m with Megan today. Welcome, Megan.

Megan Anderson: It’s good to be here.

Marc: I’m glad you’re here. And Megan, let me just fill in people for a moment who may be new to the podcast. So here’s how this goes. Megan and I just met. We’ve been chit chatting for a few minutes before we hopped on here. And we’re going to see if we can do some good work in less than an hour and move the needle and figure out what would best serve you, Miss Megan.

So here’s my question for you. If you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted to get out of this session, what would that be for you?

Megan: Really, I want to have clarity of not feeling bad about wanting to compete in bodybuilding shows but also just clarity of what I want, I suppose, in my relationship with my body.

Marc: So what’s unclear for you?

Megan: So ever since I’ve started the Eating Psychology course, and even before that, I noticed that my current diet, my current lifestyle weren’t really serving me to my best ability. My company is all about teaching people about self-love and self-acceptance. And it seemed so counterproductive of what I was trying to do. And then I just felt stuck as a coach.

It’s been hard for me to come to the terms of, do I have to give up doing bodybuilding shows in order to really realistically reach this goal of loving myself and accepting myself?

And it’s this weird combination of loving yourself and accepting yourself, yet it being okay to continually progress forward.

Marc: So let’s say you were clear, just give me a sense what that might look like or feel like.

Megan: I wouldn’t struggle. I wouldn’t feel shame and guilt when it comes to wanting to compete in a show. I wouldn’t feel like I’m stuck in this halfway wanting to reach a new goal. I’m fine with my body right now. I love it. It’s great. The amount of stress where I don’t have to worry about food right now is fabulous. I’m not constantly thinking about food. I don’t have to weigh and track my food. And that’s so nice. And I love that. But then there’s this part of me that’s like, “Well, I’m a fitness coach. I teach people how to be better with themselves.”

That’s what the line is. It’s between—I started out being a personal trainer and fitness coach, and now I’m shifting more into self-acceptance. And I’m trying to figure out where that meets in the middle. And ultimately, I feel like I’m trying to teach what I’m also trying to find. And it causes a lot of feeling like I’m going nowhere sometimes.

Marc: I hear you. So how old are you?

Megan: 24.

Marc: 24. So how long have you been doing sort of the fitness thing?

Megan: So I started competing three, four years ago. And I’ve been doing personal training and stuff like that for about five now.

Marc: What inspired you to start?

Megan: What inspired me to start was I had seen—so I was training all these people. They were generally overweight. And I was educating them to do better with their food choices and work out and change their habits to be more consistent so that they could reach their goals.

But then I realized that I had never gone through a goal myself. And so then I was like, “Well, I’m going to do a bodybuilding show” because I was never really overweight. But it was like, “I’m going to take it to that next level.” Plus it was always great for marketing.

Marc: To say that you’re doing such competitions kind of thing?

Megan: Well, I would just say I’ve struggled with the fact that people are going to believe what you tell them to do if you look a certain part. And that’s definitely been a controlling factor of why I tended to do them. And now, it’s more so I’m doing it because—I don’t know. I don’t know.

My last show prep was awful. It was the worst. I started binging—not really binging, just overeating on what my macronutrient allotment was for the day basically because I was on a starvation diet for three months. I wasn’t eating more than 30 grams of carbs. And that’s really unrealistic.

Technically, I was eating more than that because I was going over all the time. And that just led to shame. And that shame led to more shame. And then that led to over exercising.

And then I decided that actually it was okay though because it kind of propelled me into shifting more into this self-acceptance and mindful eating versus if it fits your macros and stuff like that.

Marc: So when you’re training, are you working with a coach or a nutritionist kind of thing? Or are you just kind of doing it on your own?

Megan: I was at the time working with a coach. My first shows, I was working with my boyfriend at the time. And I think a lot of how perfect I had to be on my diet was because I wanted to be his best client. And it kind of fed that cycle of—I don’t know if I was really competing in shows for myself. I think I was more so doing it because I wanted to make him proud in a weird way.

And then once that relationship was over, then I was like, “Well, I need to do a show now so that I can prove to myself that I can do it.” And that’s when I started shifting more into—not bingeing, just overeating, I would say—sometimes bingeing. But emotional eating is what I’m pretty sure that it is. It’s just emotional eating and going over.

But then I started working with another coach. And that was good because it almost gave me this excuse that if it doesn’t work out and I don’t place first then it’s not all on me. And so then I did a show. And I looked the best I had ever looked.

And then I was like, “Hey, I’m going to go for nationals because I wanted to get my pro card.” And that show prep was just horrendous because I was going through a lot in life. I was moving out my old roommate situation. It was just not a good environment.

I had gotten a place off Craigslist. But I really didn’t want to stay in Vegas for than a month. I ended up getting all my money stolen from me from this girl that wasn’t paying rent. I moved in. An eviction notice was on the door. Next thing you know, 24 hours later, I’m going to Washington to live in this other place where I could get where I didn’t have to sign a lease. And it was just hard not to emotionally eat.

Marc: No, just hearing that, I want to eat. I didn’t even go through it. Yeah.

So let me ask you this question. Let’s just jump ahead for a second. Where do you see yourself six, seven years from now? Where would you like to be in your life?

Megan: I would like to be a lot more stable. I really like traveling. But I would like to have a place where it feels like my home. It’s been an entire process like this. It went from living with my boyfriend to we were renting from his mom. And so whenever we got in an argument, it was like, “You’re the one to go.”

And then from there, I was in this other living situation that wasn’t very good to this other living situation that I couldn’t stay at for a long period of time. I would like to have a place that would be my own but a lifestyle that would still allow me to travel.

And that’s why I do all online coaching. And it’s nice. It’s why I’m partially doing this program just so I can kind of see what you guys do on the back end and your schedule when you come out with things and everything like that.

So I would like to be more stable. I would like to be traveling. I would like to be inspiring people. I have this goal to help inspire 6 million women to find self love and acceptance and ending this crazy cycle of gaining weight to drop weight to gain weight to drop weight and just all around be unhappy. That’s what I see.

Marc: Good for you. That’s a nice, big vision for yourself.

Megan: Thanks.

Marc: Yeah. So I’d love to share some thoughts with you so far in terms of what we’ve been talking about, questions I’ve been answering, answers you’ve been giving.

Early 20s are a time, I think, when we are naturally unstable on a lot of levels. There’s a lot of shifting. There’s a lot of changing. On the one hand, you’re not a teenager anymore. On another hand, you’re not an established adult. You’re this weird hybrid. You’re kind of in between worlds right now.

And usually when we’re in transition and we’re in between worlds, it’s just tricky territory because there’s not a lot of stability. And there’s not a lot of familiarity. And things are changing quickly. And things are uncertain and are unclear. So all I’m trying to say is if things seem uncertain, unclear, and unstable, you’re in the right place. You follow what I’m saying?

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: So you’re on point for this stage of life where you’re at. If we state it in the positive, what I want to say to you is you’re in a discovery zone. You’re trying out different things. You’re seeing what works, what sticks. What do I like? What don’t I like? Oh, here’s a direction I want to move in. How do I move in that direction? Huh, let me try this. This might work. Whoops! That wasn’t good. Let me try this way.

So there’s a lot of trial and error going down. All I’m saying is good for you because it’s strengthening your trial and error muscles. Talk about a fitness competition. This is you learning how to be, I think, more fit with life. So all I’m saying is if you’re not where you want to be, that’s fine because it’s probably too early in the game right now.

So from that place in terms of you saying, “Okay, there’s this little bit maybe of guilt around wanting to coach people around self love” but here you are doing fitness competitions and kind of pushing it to another level. And those are intense competitions. And it’s intense preparation. And it’s some weird dieting that you have to do. So it’s very extreme. And I hear you asking the question, how does all this mix in together?

And so I’d love to offer some possible answers that I think are all correct even though they all might sound different. I think there’s a level where it’s absolutely fine for you to do what you want to do and explore.

One thing that we do when we’re young or even not so young is we explore, what can I do with this body? How many miles can I run? How long can I bike? Can I win this race? Can I lift this amount of weight? Can I look like this? Can I feel strong like that? That’s totally legitimate. You’re just exploring your own biology. You’re exploring your own potential and learning what that means for you.

So to me, I think you’re gathering information. And you’re learning about yourself. So you have to decide as you’re doing the next competition, “Okay, how is this working for me? Am I okay with this diet? Am I okay with the extreme-ness of it?”

When you tell me you’re prepping for a competition and you say, “Well, I’m emotionally eating the carbs, this, that,” let me tell you something. I’ve seldom met a person—and I meet a lot of people in this realm who are training for competitions, being on intense diets. And this is the common story. They’re always binge eating. They’re always breaking the rules because it’s a virtually-impossible-to-follow diet.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: And you have to push yourself so hard not to deviate. And then when you deviate, you think there’s something wrong with you. That’s like me pushing your head underwater and saying, “Well, how come you can’t stay under there for ten minutes? What’s your issue?” Biology won’t let you stay there that long.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: You’ve only got about a minute, a minute and a half till you want some air.

So I’m just hoping if you do continue with competitive fitness kind of stuff that you be a little gentler on yourself around the dieting piece and the places where you fall off the wagon because it’s virtually impossible. It’s so hard, especially you have your life to deal with.

And if you’re feeling lonely or emotional or bored or whatever, we like to turn to food. But in the process, you’re kind of starving anyway. So you probably wish you had more food either way, even if life was perfect.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: You follow me?

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: So I’m just really wanting you to give yourself a little more space to be an explorer here.

Megan: Okay.

Marc: To gather more information, to learn, to see what works for you, and to let go of the judgment and embrace the good in what you’re doing. So when I say, “Let go of the judgment; embrace the good in what you’re doing,” what do you feel is the good in competition? How does that help you as a person?  How does it help you grow as a person?

Megan: Well, I think that there are a lot of positives that come from setting a goal and reaching it. And that’s one that takes an extended period of time. And it allows me to better help my clients, I think, from a certain perspective just for possible insights of different types of food that they could eat to overcome feeling hungry or just a different insight that I think if I had never gone to that level of extreme I wouldn’t have that type of insight. And so that’s nice.

And also one thing that’ll help if I get my pro card this year, what I really love doing is teaching posing. It’s like the art of illusion. And just having that credibility of being a IFBB bikini pro will give me enough credibility for people to want that service from me. And that’s something that I would just really love to teach that I think would really satisfy me and make me happy. And I would love it.

Marc: Yeah. So I say go for it! Why not go for it and learn along the way? And I would say this. You’re in tricky territory. And when I say, “You’re in tricky territory”—and I think you know this. And you’ve kind of said this in your own words.

This is a field, this is a universe—this kind of competition is a place where it’s very easy to become perfectionist. It’s very easy to become overly obsessive and compulsive. It’s very easy to slip into eating behaviors that don’t work for you. It’s easy to slip into mind, thoughts, and beliefs about yourself that don’t serve you.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: It’s easy to be in a world where women are not always supporting each other. This could be a supported profession. And a lot of times, it’s very competitive, so to speak, where it’s easy for women to hate on each other, or men and women to hate on each other for their successes.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: So you’re in a place that’s naturally a little tricky. And all I’m saying is, just know that. Just be aware of that and see, “Okay, how do I survive in all that? And how do I even thrive in that? How do I still maintain my sense of dignity if I don’t come in first, second, third, or twenty-third? How do I still love myself in this process? How much are you investing in it in what it means about your self worth?”

Those are the things I want you to keep an eye on so that at the end of the day, you’re able to maintain your dignity and you’re able to keep loving yourself no matter what and that you remember somewhere in the back of your mind that your looks and your beauty and your physique don’t define you. And it’s something you happen to be involved in and working with and exploring and playing with. And that’s a cool thing.

Megan: Yeah. Yeah, it is.

Marc: Right?

Megan: I like it.

Marc: Yeah, so it’s your prerogative. And it’s your choice. And it’s a fascinating choice. And it’s a cool thing.

And I would love to see you empower yourself in this process and not second guess your choice. But you can constantly be checking in with yourself to see, “Okay, how am I doing, Megan? How am I doing? How does this feel? How is this working out? Where’s my head at? Am I getting the real support that I need right now? Am I falling into some bad rabbit hole?”

That’s what I’m interested in you looking out for—to make sure that you just keep maturing as a person and not just getting better as a fitness model.

Megan: Yeah. Yeah. You’re right.

Marc: Make sense?

Megan: Yeah, it does make sense. It does. It does. I think I struggle right now. Right now, I’m not logging my food. And I still eat pretty mindfully. I try not to have anything else going when I’m eating. I try to focus on eating. It takes awhile after you do a show to become in tune with your hunger signals and things like that because your hormones have to get back to normal. Plus, you’re constantly hungry before. And now, you’re like, “Whoa! What is being full?” The dieter’s mentality.

But sometimes, I feel guilty about not logging my food just for the simple fact that I wonder if I’m—because in the off season, I feel like the main goal is to see how much food you can stuff inside yourself and not gain an excess amount of body fat. If I’m not logging my food, how do I know if I’m working my metabolic capacity up to how fast it can be working? And sometimes, I feel guilty about that.

Marc: So what are your choices there?

Megan: Well, I guess my choices are either I have to log my food which is going to make me obsessive and not be the break that I need. I kind of have found a little bit of a balance. I can roughly eyeball food by now. I don’t have to excessively weigh it too much. But I try to make sure that I’m getting enough protein within each meal to just make sure that I’m at least hitting my protein.

And then other than that, I try to just be mindful about whatever’s going on in my life. For example, I’ve been traveling a lot lately. So when I’m home, I try to cook all my meals and hit my protein but be on the lower end of calories. And then when I’m out and I’m traveling, then I still try to get protein in every meal. But I’m not too worried about calories at that point.

Marc: Got it. So it sounds to me like you found a little bit of a sweet spot. You mentioned, “Wow! If I’m really doing this rigorously,” you might get a little obsessive.

Megan: Yep.

Marc: So it sounds like that’s the dangerous territory for you which makes perfect sense to me. So yeah, if you’re not playing by the rules perfectly but you’re taking care of yourself and preventing you from falling into a bad place that could trigger an unhealthy relationship with food, personally, I’m all for you taking care of yourself. And then you’re going to have to learn how to, in your own system, regulate the guilt—meaning you notice it, and you don’t let it consume you because you’re making a choice.

Megan: Right.

Marc: All I’m talking about right now is just one of the aspects of self mastery which is if you choose something consciously, you choose to do something, then the repercussions of that choice we need to, on a certain level, welcome them, to embrace them, to grapple with them as opposed to going, “Oh my god, I made this choice. But now look what happened. Now, I’m feeling guilty. Wow! Let me get sucked into guilt for the next day.”

And you’ve sabotaged yourself simply because you didn’t stand by your own choice. So the choice was, “Yeah, I’m not going to weigh and count calories and everything super specific. I’m going to do this little method that I have found. And even if I feel a little guilty here and there and even if I don’t know 100% about my metabolic potential, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.”

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: “Because I’m taking care of myself.” So I think it’s about trusting your choices. It’s learning to trust yourself and stand by your own choices.

Megan: Yeah. Okay, I agree with that.

Marc: Does that make sense for you?

Megan: Oh yeah, it does. It definitely does. I think that I’ve been getting better at that. Sometimes, it’s just difficult. When I imagine that I’m going to start prepping again, that’s when I just have to believe that it’s okay that I’ve been doing it the way I’ve been doing it.

And honestly, I actually know in my mind that it’s better the way I’ve been doing it because I know if I was logging that it would just be very unrealistic with how much I’ve been traveling. And that would just lead to more shame and guilt because I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m okay with what I’ve been doing. It works. My weight has been relatively stable which is nice. I’m okay with it. It’s realistic. It’s the best thing that I could be doing right now. And I know that. I know that.

I just also know that when I start prepping for my show again here in a couple months that I’m just going to also have to be okay with that decision. So I’m okay with it right now. I just realize that in two months I’m going to have to be okay with that. And I’m going to have to be okay with not knowing what my caloric intake and my macronutrients have been starting this in order to have a point to work from which will be fine. It’ll be good. It’ll be fine.

Marc: Let me ask you another question. If you were sitting in my seat right now—you were sitting here looking out—I’m actually in California—at Laguna Beach. So if you were sitting here, talking to a cool young lady like yourself who was presenting this exact same issue and you happen to know a few things because you’ve been down this road a little bit. So you’re sitting in my seat. What would you be saying to this Megan look alike who has this very interesting and similar challenge to what you faced before? What would you say to her from your standpoint of being a coach?

Megan: I would tell her that consistency is the best option always. And whatever diet she feels like she can be consistent with is the best diet. And that she should actually be proud of herself for the fact that she’s no longer having obsessive thoughts or overeating or feeling any of the guilt associated with that. And that it’s okay and it’s kind of all a part of the cycle of competing and not competing. And whatever you need to do in order to get your mindset right is probably the best option.

Marc: I think that’s pretty good advice.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: So let’s just break that down a little bit more. The last thing you said I found pretty interesting. “Whatever you need to do to get your mindset right is the best option.” So what would that mean for you? What are some things you need to do to get your mindset right? What does that mean?

Megan: To get my mindset right. My mindset right now is the best that it’s been in a very long time. What I mean by that is just being aware of how you feel about certain things. So when I’m logging my food, I get obsessive. And I tend not to feel very good about any situation. I fear going out. I regret going out when I do go out, especially if it wasn’t as fun as I thought it was going to be. I emotionally eat. I can’t handle my emotions very well.

So for me what’s been best, just finding what works has been a combination of just being a little more lenient with my diet, being a little more flexible, working on journaling and handling my emotions and feeling my emotions versus eating when I’m experiencing emotions that I don’t want to deal with, and acceptance. Acceptance has been definitely key. Being not judgmental towards things that are happening has been key.

Today, I caught myself mindlessly eating. And I don’t feel bad about it right now. But I caught myself mindlessly eating. I don’t know.

Marc: So what are some of the challenging emotions that kind of cause you to want to eat?

Megan: Definitely when I feel lonely. Kind of when life starts to get like I just feel like nothing is very stable. Food has always been there. There are certain things about myself that they’re hard for me to look at non judgmentally and accept and love what is. And so when I’m experiencing things like that, sometimes it’s easier to eat than actually sit with my feelings.

And I went through a lot of emotional eating when I got out of my previous relationship which was a little over a year ago. That’s when I noticed I was emotionally eating a lot. And I was emotionally eating in secret all the time. Then this last show prep, I was also eating in secret a lot as well. And I think that that was just because I would feel lonely and unstable. And then I would eat, and it would feel better. And then it wouldn’t feel better. And then it would just continue.

Marc: Understood. Understood. Again, I want to remind you that, given your situation, the stage of life you’re at, the fact that you’re pretty much out there on your own, living in a place where you don’t know a lot of people and where it would be easy to be lonely because you don’t have a support system where you are—that’s hard.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: That’s hard. That’s hard. Plus, you’re engaging in a very specific and intense kind of training and competition. So I’m just saying give yourself a little space to be imperfect here because you’re doing something that’s not easy at all. And you don’t have necessarily a lot of easy ways to distract yourself or to medicate and feel good. So food is going to be natural for that.

And your task is to learn how to still nurture yourself with food and take care of yourself with food and nourish yourself but not overdo it so you’re not like yourself. And also understand that if you do emotionally eat or if you do overeat, it makes perfect sense.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: And then the question is how fast can you forgive yourself and move forward as opposed to kick yourself when you’re down and not move forward? So that’s the key. The key is shortening the time—and this is a training. You train yourself from now until the day you die—shortening the time between when we fall off the wagon, any wagon, and when we get back on again.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: Falling off the wagon could be, “I love myself.” And all of a sudden I’m hating myself. So are you going to hate yourself for two years, two months, two weeks, two days, two hours, two minutes? The more we shorten it, the less time we are in misery, plain and simple. And we have that say. It’s a training. It’s like everything else. It’s like watching your macronutrients. It’s like taking in a certain amount of calories or protein. It’s like you’re just regulating how long we stay on the mat kicking ourselves.

Megan: Okay.

Marc: So what are you thinking? What are your thoughts right now? Where are you at?

Megan: My thoughts…Oh my god, hold on. Everything’s buzzing right now. It makes sense. I feel like I’ve been slowly going through all of this and experiencing it and realizing that I need to be more gentle with myself. I’m definitely a perfectionist. And I have high expectations for myself. And so sometimes when I don’t meet those, I’m not very kind to myself. But it has definitely been better, a lot better, than it used to be. And I’ve just become a lot more aware of it.

There are also things that I don’t know that I have answers to. As far as a weight number is concerned, I’ve never been afraid of the scale. So I weighed myself just the other day because I moved into this place yesterday. And I was unpacking it. And for awhile, I had put my scale away. And I wasn’t weighing myself because it just didn’t matter. I don’t need to weigh myself. I can just feel how I feel about myself and just be aware of how I feel.

But I weighed myself. And I weighed 120. And I haven’t weighed that much in probably three years. And so it was kind of weird. I was thinking about it for awhile. And although I feel good, yeah, there are some days where I’m like, “I feel a little bloated right now. I don’t feel good.” I try to just take it as it comes.

But I started thinking about how I would feel if my weight got up to 125. And I was like, “I would not be okay with that. 125 is the cut off.” And I know that’s still unrealistic in my head. For one, I’ve been maintaining around the 115 to 120 mark for the last three months. And then before that, I was just coming off of show prep. So when I do show, I’m down to 100 pounds. And within four or five months, I gain 20 pounds. And so it’s kind of just a shock. Anyone would go through a shock. If anyone dropped that much weight, they’d have to go through certain mental aspects in dealing with it and handling it.

And I don’t really have to worry about my weight gaining because, honestly, when I’m eating mindfully and just eating without freaking out about it all, I average that weight. And the only way my weight would probably go up is if I gained muscle. But I had to really think about it. I don’t consider myself to be afraid of a number on the scale. But when I think about if I were 5 pounds heavier with fat on me, I couldn’t do it. I don’t think I could ever get my body to that point. I don’t know.

Marc: Yeah. Yeah, you’re in dangerous territory. And the dangerous territory, again, is called the kind of fitness competition that has the body looking so specifically, has us eating so specifically, exercising so specifically, working out so specifically. Everything is so regimented. And people don’t live there all the time because it’s impossible to sustain.

And what happens also is people get high. I’ve seen this about a gazillion times. You get high running a marathon. You can get high running a 100-yard dash. You can get high training for a fitness model competition. And there you are. And you’re at 100 pounds or whatever it is. And for a lot of people, it’s a high.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: And we think that that’s the new benchmark. We think that’s where we should live which is like saying, “I did drugs. And I should live there because it felt so good.”

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: It’s a temporary experience. So I’m just saying that so you remember that in the back of your mind so when you get sucked into thinking that that’s where you should live, to remember that no one lives there. And I promise you if you meet someone who lives there, that’s all they do. They are spending their entire lives in obsession—

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: And in a very strange kind of living hell—

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: That might look good on the outside.

Megan: I don’t want to be there. I’m okay with not maintaining it. I don’t take as many pictures, flexing photos. But I’m okay with not maintaining that. I am. The level of obsession that comes with it is a different trade off. But I like it. I like right now. Right now is good.

Marc: Yeah.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: It’s teaching you. You’re learning from it. And again, that’s the stage in your life that you’re in. Early/mid 20s is definitely a time for you to be exploring. It’s definitely a time for you to be pushing your edges in the ways you want to push them, learning about yourself. What do you like? What don’t you like? Where are your gifts? Where are the places that you need to work on? You’re in that kind of territory. And it’s completely fair game. You don’t have to know.

And again, I hope you ongoingly give yourself space to be in this phase of life where you don’t know and there’s not going to be a lot of answers. And I get that you’re going to want stability. That makes total sense. And that will come. That will come in time. But it’s not going to come today or tomorrow. You’ve still got to ride the bucking bronco a little bit.

Megan: Yeah, it’s okay.

Marc: Yeah.

Megan: I don’t mind it.

Marc: What else, Miss Megan? What else is on your mind?

Megan: I don’t know. I think sometimes I wonder how—right now I’m not super obsessive. But when I am logging my food and logging my macros and weighing everything, is there any way that I can—? I know that I can be more gentle with myself and realize that it’s going to be a day-by-day process and accept it and not give myself so much guilt when it does happen.

But are there any ways to not obsess about food so much, would you say? Do you think that there is a good balance between having food—?

So one thing I noticed, my last show prep—well, not my last one but my one before that when I had a stable living situation during that—it was so much easier when I would have certain food, not made into meals. But it would be kind of the vegetables would be chopped. Certain meat would be cooked. And I ate very similarly during certain meals. It was never I had to eat that. But I ate kind of similarly. And I think it led to me not obsessing so much over food; whereas the other show prep that I did, I didn’t have anything prepped because my life was so crazy. And I was obsessing over food a lot more because there were so many choices.

Marc: Sure. Sure, so clearly from what you’re telling me, predictability is helpful for you in this process. A little bit more of a system around food is helpful so you’re not left in the unknown of, “Okay, what am I going to eat? How is this prepped?” When it’s already prepped, you know what it’s going to be. You know how much. When there’s that kind of regularity, then that sounds like it takes away a big unknown for you.

So that’s something to consider. It’s something to play with—creating structure for yourself. Especially this time in life, whatever structure you can create that makes sense is good, given all the instability you’re going to have anyway being a 24 year old.

Megan: Okay.

Marc: You follow me? So whatever stability works. “Okay, I’m prepping. Let’s plan the meals as best I can.” Whatever supports you in doing that, see if that works. Give it a try. And when you do obsess, instead of trying to stop obsessing—

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: Oftentimes, I find a more useful approach is to notice yourself obsessing, observe yourself obsessing, give yourself permission to obsess, and even say to yourself, “This is me obsessing right now.” And the more you can witness it, oftentimes without reacting—

Megan: Yeah, takes the power away.

Marc: It takes a little bit of the power away. You learn to control it better because your first response is not to fight it. Your first response is to allow it and notice it because it’s happening anyway.

Megan: Okay.

Marc: The moment you start to fight it, you create a fight. And you can’t win a fight that’s you against you. You are going to lose.

Megan: Okay.

Marc: Even though it looks like a part of you wins. So all I’m saying is when you start to obsess, give yourself almost permission to obsess.

Megan: Okay.

Marc: “Great. This is me obsessing. Let me push the pedal to the metal and see how much I could obsess and see how that feels.”

Megan: Okay.

Marc: You follow me?

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: So it’s playing. It’s experimenting. It’s trying to be a little playful with the strange, quirky ways that humans can have around food and not take it so seriously.

Megan: Okay, I like that.

Marc: Yeah, I like it too.

Megan: Yeah.

Marc: Megan, I super appreciate you just kind of being so open and sharing about your process and what you’re up to. And I just think you’re super brave for just how you’ve been conducting yourself in your life and really stepping out on your own at a young age. That’s super impressive. It’s not easy. So I really hope you find the little ways to kind of give yourself a good pat on the back and some congratulations around that because you’re doing something very difficult and hard, stepping out on your own and working at something where you’re trying to achieve a form of excellence.

Excellence is good. Learning excellence in one thing will train you to be better at creating excellence in other places. Sports taught me that—martial arts, basketball, football. All of it taught me how to be a better person because I let it teach me that.

So all I’m saying is this could be the same thing for you. Yeah, it’s teaching you about diet and fitness and the body and that sort of thing. But it’s also teaching you about being rigorous. It’s teaching you how to follow a system. It’s teaching you how to push beyond your limits. I think all that’s a pretty good thing.

Megan: Yeah. Yeah! It’s teaching me to find self love in a different way.

Marc: Agreed. Agree, agree. Good for you.

Megan: Thanks.

Marc: Thanks so much for doing this, Megan.

Megan: Yeah, it’s been fun.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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About The Author
Marc David
Founder

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.