Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #221 – Bloating & Weight Gain: What’s Next?
Stephanie, who recently turned 40, has some health issues that have accelerated over the past 2 years. Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, gets the whole picture of her symptoms and almost immediately recommends she sees a naturopathic doctor who can do some hormone testing for her. In the meantime, Marc and Stephanie take this time to acknowledge that her body is on a journey right now, and that she has every reason to be in a state of ‘whoah, what’s next?’ Her kids are out of the house. They were her world. Her marriage is ending. Marc is compassionate yet straight forward with her, and starts to paint the picture of what an empowered future would look like for her.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc David: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we’re back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m with Stephanie today. Welcome, Stephanie.
Stephanie Stacy: Thank you.
Marc: Glad you’re here. And I’m glad you’re doing this. And let me just say a couple of words to viewers and listeners. And then you and I’ll jump in.
So if you’re a returnee to this podcast, thanks for being here. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for being part of our world. And if you’re new, here’s how it works. I will be talking with Stephanie for about an hour. And we’re going to see if we can push the fast forward button a little bit of change and transformation in whatever you need, Miss Stephanie.
So if you could wave your magic wand and if you could get whatever you wanted to from this time together, what would that be? What’s the big wish or wishes?
Stephanie: To I guess feel whole and normal again physically. I haven’t felt that way for a handful of years. So that would be to kind of come back to a more stable grounding, I guess.
Marc: And what’s been ungrounded? What’s been different? What exactly is going on that you haven’t been able to feel whole?
Stephanie: I’ve had a lot of low energy leading to a lot of low motivation. And I gained weight probably about two years ago just, it seemed like, very quickly. And then way that I describe it is it’s almost that someone came in between the layers of my skin and just kind of puffed them up.
It’s not been a significant amount of weight, maybe between 10 to 15 pounds, give or take. But for me, I was always small, never had any issues that way. And then all of a sudden—and to someone else, it might not seem very much. But I always wore a size small t-shirt. And all of a sudden now, I can’t even fit into a small without it just looking like I’m sucked into it. So I’ve gone up to a medium. Okay, big deal.
But for me, it’s something I have noticed. The energy level, that’s been difficult. Then also I’ve just noticed things like every time I take a shower the amount of hair that comes out when I’m combing my hair out. And I’ve had anxiety and depression for a number of years. So I don’t know if that has all of a sudden caught up with me.
I just turned 40 in July, so then I wonder too how much hormonally and things like that are catching up to me even though I’m in denial that I’m even that age.
So there are a number of things I had struggled with—IBS for awhile, not clinically diagnosed, just diagnosed myself as the fact that certain things I would eat, just different things, were constantly sending me to the bathroom. I’ve kind of gotten a little bit more stable with that using probiotics. But I always have a bloated stomach that I can’t ever get rid of. Through my midsection, my hips, butt, stomach and things like that, I’m just a lot more full than I ever used to be.
So it’s just things like that that I’m just not as—I’m very uncomfortable in my skin. I never felt that way before.
Marc: Sure. Sure. And this started about two years ago, yes?
Stephanie: About two years ago as far as the onset of everything happening just very quickly. Other than that, I was maintaining weight, no big deal. I could go and work out and feel like I was seeing results. I feel like now I could go to a boot camp and work my hind end off doing all this boot camp stuff which I did a couple years ago. And it wasn’t making a difference.
I started doing yoga to try to calm myself to see if that was helpful. But I’ve only been doing that for two to three months now. So it just doesn’t seem from one end of the spectrum to the next that I’m not seeing any results. I’m not seeing anything move.
Marc: So have you seen any kind of doctor or naturopath kind of person for this stuff?
Stephanie: I have. Of course, at the beginning, I would—and this was several years ago—I would go into my family physician and say, “I’m just not feeling good. I’m feeling run down. I just don’t feel like I have the energy.” “Okay, we’ll do some blood work.” And of course, thyroid was involved. But always said that everything came back normal.
Since then, I’ve read things saying that they only measure the last how many people. So if everybody is sick, then I just fell maybe in the mid range of the sick. That still doesn’t mean that I’m okay, from what I’ve understood it to be.
I did see a holistic nurse practitioner. Her blood work has come back that my iodine is low. My iron is low. I also did the saliva hormone testing that was sent off and came that she got the results for. My cortisol levels were really high. And my testosterone was really low. So I’ve not done that. That was right about the two-year mark that I had done that. I’ve not repeated it since then.
Marc: Okay because frankly the symptoms that you have described to me can definitely match low thyroid. It can potentially match Hashimoto’s maybe. But oftentimes if you go to a traditional doctor, they normally don’t do the kind of in depth thyroid testing that you would want, that more a functional, holistic medical doctor will do. Inexplicable weight gain, bloating, low energy, hair falling out are classic thyroid symptoms. Classic.
So I would love to make sure that you have a good professional in your court who has a very clear eye on that because I would hate to see you go to another freaking boot camp when it doesn’t matter if you were in boot camp for the rest of your life. If there’s a metabolic issue going on—
Marc: Then that has to be addressed. So if you’re a low iodine definitionally, that is impacting the function of your thyroid. So that actually makes sense to me.
Marc: Just so you know, a traditional family physician, you’re not going to get where you want to go, with all due respect. They’re just not contemporary with the kind of advances that are happening in a lot of the medical testing that’s out there that is relevant for today.
Also, the fact that you’re low in testosterone—and it’s funny because we normally don’t talk about testosterone for women. And we don’t usually need to on the one hand. But on the other hand, most medical science just doesn’t notice it because it doesn’t think about it. It thinks women and estrogen, progesterone.
Marc: So if a woman is too low in testosterone, that can impact your mood. That can impact your energy level. That can potentially cause bloating, mood issues all the way around, low sex drive. So what I’m saying is I just want to raise my hand and say—
So this nurse practitioner that you saw, the last testing she did was when?
Stephanie: Let’s see. It would have been August, was my last blood test, blood results.
Marc: And so you came back low iodine. Have you been taking iodine?
Stephanie: I have. But then I hadn’t been consistently. But I guess on just a feeling level, I don’t feel that when I take that it really makes a difference one way or the other.
Marc: Well, here’s the thing. It can take awhile to replete. Taking iodine one day or two days or three days or seven days doesn’t mean it is going to bring you back to normal. So what I want you to think about is you have potentially—and this is what normally happens for us. It’s usually not just this one little thing. It’s usually a cluster of events that are going on in the body.
So even being low iron—just low iron by itself, nothing else—can make you low energy, low mood.
Marc: So if we start increasing your iron and we increase your iodine and we do that consistently and we truly measure T3, T4, everything thyroid related—have you heard of functional medicine? Or have you ever worked with a functional medicine doctor?
Stephanie: I went for a consultation. Financially, he had wanted $1500 to start and then the supplements. Financially, I haven’t been able to afford that.
Stephanie: But he did do a workup to a point of what he thought that I would need. And he just agreed on the cortisol level that the boot camps were the worst thing that I could do for myself because it was just sending more stress signals to my body instead of helping me.
Stephanie: But he really didn’t dive into maybe necessarily what I should do except I think he just said that I should do something maybe more low scale but longer. But I interpreted that as maybe walking but walk more or walk longer, something like that. Or even high intensity intervals where I would get my heart rate up but then slow down a little bit before I did it again where it wasn’t a boot camp where it was just start to finish go, go, go.
Marc: Sure. Did your nurse practitioner give you an iron supplement to take?
Stephanie: She said to just do over the counter 25 mg once a day to start and then up it to two times a day but then also to take it with vitamin C.
Marc: Okay. Did she recommend any particular form of iron? Or she just said, “Get any iron”?
Stephanie: She said to do just—I’m not sure if she said the name or not—but just a gentle form where obviously it wasn’t hard on my bowels.
Marc: Okay. Okay, okay. So have you been taking that consistently?
Stephanie: I’ve been taking it. I can’t say that I’ve been doing it consistently. But I have been taking it. And me being consistent, that’s my fault. But yes, I do have it.
Marc: So there’s a form of iron that is useful to take to replete the body of iron. It’s called iron bisglycinate. That’s a gentle form. It’s well absorbed. A lot of the irons that you buy in a health food store or the supermarket, they’re not so well absorbed. So that’s a concern for me if you’re taking iron that you get the most absorbable form. The form I just mentioned is very, very good, very helpful—iron bisglycinate. I would take iodine more consistently.
Marc: And it’s when you can afford it, I would look at going to a doctor who could work with you on hormones, who can look at thyroid and potentially also consider your may be a candidate to take progesterone.
Stephanie: Yeah, she did give me the kind of cream to rub into my wrist at night.
Marc: And did you do that consistently for any amount of time?
Stephanie: I did. And I found that, with her saying doing it at night, sometimes I wasn’t sleeping as well for some reason.
Marc: Got it. You could also take it in the morning. Morning is fine.
Marc: It doesn’t have to be at night. But that can also help with the symptomatology that you’re talking about. So let’s bump this conversation up to a more meta level for a moment.
I totally get why this would be upsetting to you. It makes perfect sense. So you don’t have to mince words about, “Hey, all of a sudden my body is ballooning.” Nobody wants that.
Marc: A woman doesn’t want that. A man doesn’t want that. On top of that, you don’t want to lose your energy. You don’t want to lose your hair, for god’s sakes. So let’s call this we’re putting on the red light here. Whoa! Something is going on here.
Stephanie: Yeah, right.
Marc: I will say in general that particularly when we turn 40, it’s an interesting number. When you turn 40, when you turn 50, there is a clear, consistent—I’ve just noticed this, just watching people, observing humans. I’m a fanatic about this stuff. I love collecting stories and noticing a lot of people when they hit 40, there’s a shift. There is just a shift in all ways. Now, when did you turn 40?
Stephanie: In July.
Marc: In July. Are you a cancer?
Marc: Leo, alright.
Marc: So when you turn 40—Henry James said a writer finds his/her voice at 40. We find a different voice for ourselves at 40. There’s a different maturity that happens. A part of us is born that’s a little bit more clear, a little bit more direct, a little bit more like, “Here’s who I am.”
A part of us gets grounded more in the world. So there’s a certain kind of birth that happens that I think is more personal. You can call it more spiritual.
At the same time, the body often undergoes a shift. And that shift is not as lovely.
Marc: And the shift is “Whoa! We’re not immortal anymore. We’re not going to live forever.” And all of a sudden, it’s like, yeah, the body gets older. Yeah, the body doesn’t cooperate. So in my experience, what happens is if one cares about one’s health, if one cares about one’s looks and weight and fitness, then we actually have to get more exquisite and more specific than we have been in the past because when you’re a teenager, you could throw a lot of garbage into your system, and you could eventually recover.
I’m telling you, Stephanie, I look at the stuff that I ate from age 0 to 21. I don’t know how I’m alive.
Stephanie: Right, yeah.
Marc: But youth has a way of keeping us resilient. As we get older, you have to play a tighter game. So it makes sense to me—and I wish this wasn’t the case—that we have to look at, “Okay. Well, what is your testosterone? Should we take progesterone? Are you taking your iron? Do you need iodine?” All of a sudden, all of that becomes a thing.
And when I say we have to get more exquisite, it means there’s a lot of trial and error that goes down here. We have to do trial and error and trial and success. That is the only way to sleuth this out and to be good detectives.
So what I’m saying is any time you get help, in the ideal universe, you want it to be the right kind of help. And if it feels like it’s the right kind of help, then you want to follow the clues. Low in iodine? Take iodine. Take the right form of iodine. Find out what that is. Low in iron? Take the right form of iron. Be consistent.
Usually when you’re repleting with a supplement like a mineral, like a vitamin, you’re thinking about three months.
Marc: Consistently. And I’m giving that as a ballpark figure. Honestly, some people who are low in iodine could take iodine. And you notice it three days later. Some people, you don’t notice it. So sometimes, it just takes the system a while to get back online, to absorb, to replete, to rebalance. If there are other deficiencies going on, everything has to kind of converge at the right moment.
So all I’m saying is I want to see you—and I think you’re doing this. But I’m just saying, yes, do this and do it better and better and better. Just start to be more of a scientist of your own body. And it’s trial and error at this point to see what works.
Marc: Because there’s no, “Oh, here’s what’s exactly going on for you.” The bloating—
Stephanie: Sorry. Yes.
Marc: How’s your digestion just by itself? You eat a meal. How does digestion feel?
Stephanie: Sometimes, it just depends. Sometimes, I’m okay. And then there are other times where my stomach just knots up, and I’m just running to the bathroom. So it just depends. Three or four days ago, I was having a lot of anxiety about things just in my life in general. And I’m in and out of the bathroom—
Stephanie: Three or four times over Thanksgiving weekend. So it just depends. And I struggle with what to eat. My husband is one who he doesn’t care what he eats. He should, but he doesn’t. And so when he goes out to eat, he’ll just order anything he wants.
And it takes me awhile to sit and look on the menu and figure out, “Oh, is this going to be good? Is this not?” And I think I’ve read and looked at so many different things that whether it be, “Okay, could I have a gluten sensitivity? What’s going to be good or not?”
So then sometimes, I wind up a lot of times, when I’m around my house, not eating in fear that, “Did I buy the right things at the store? Should I eat this? Am I better off not to eat something versus something that’s bad for me?” So I struggle with all that. But the digestion sometimes is not what I would like it to be, I think.
Marc: Do you travel? Did you have any experience of foreign travel a couple years ago?
Stephanie: No, the only thing that I’ve had digestion-wise—I’ve never been out of the country. But my children always took cows in their county fair. And I wound up contracting—I’m not sure if you’re familiar—but it’s called Cryptosporidium. It’s in the calves that they were raising at the time.
And my daughter started out with it with a very slight case. I got it more severely. Close to a week went by before, three trips to the emergency room before they figured out this is what it is by testing a stool sample and then getting a hold of our veterinarian to say this is what it is.
So I had Cryptosporidium. So by the time they caught everything, I was low in every mineral possible. So I was in the hospital for five days to replenish my system. That was in March 2010. I think I lost probably about 15 pounds just over that course of time.
Since then, I’d question that, whether there was some type of parasite in my intestines. So here through the holistic nurse practitioner, I did do a stool sample for—it was for the Cryptosporidium, I believe, or for any type of parasites. And I want to say—I forget what that one that the dogs, that they test for. It starts with a G or something like Guardia. Or I forget what it is.
But anyway, everything came back that it was negative. So I assume that my system was okay. But I had questioned that ever since I had had that that maybe there was something that just—because the treatment for it was just a three-day pill called Alinia. And you hope that something like that takes care of something. But because I had had digestive issues pretty consistently since then, I wondered if there was anything lingering.
So from the tests that I did, which I don’t know how in depth it was, it came back negative for any parasites.
Marc: So since that time, since taking that medication, your digestion hasn’t been the same. Is that what you’re saying? That was six years ago.
Stephanie: Yeah, I’d say it’s been off kilter. I don’t know if that was the thing that triggered everything necessarily. There are always times, I think. I just tend to be a nervous, anxious person anyway. So unfamiliar situations, not going to be on time for something, things like that send me into a stress response. Automatically, my body compensates by sending it out. So I tend to be that way anyway.
But a lot of times, this was just stuff where I would eat something. And the next thing I know, I’d just be standing there and, “Oh, I’ve got to run make a trip to the bathroom.” So trying to piece together. And it to the point it was a joke between with my children and stuff. “Oh great. Here Mom goes again. She’s got to run to the bathroom.” I’m like, “I really wish I didn’t. It’s not fun.”
Marc: Have you had any courses of antibiotics over the last two or three years?
Stephanie: The only time I’ve ever really been on antibiotics would be that I have a lot of tonsillitis. My tonsils were really bad when I was a kid and never got them taken out. So occasionally now, I will have what starts out as a sinus drainage, goes into the tonsillitis. So they usually have to treat usually about two times each time I get the tonsillitis to actually get the strong enough antibiotic.
But every time I’m on that, I try to up my probiotics to level out my gut, things like that. But as far as being on anything really particular all the time, I haven’t been.
Marc: When was the last time you had a course of antibiotics for the tonsillitis?
Stephanie: It might have been back, maybe February, March of this year.
Marc: Got it. Have you had any vaccinations in the last three years? Flu vaccines, anything?
Stephanie: No, I’ve never gotten the flu vaccine. Trying to think—I might have had a Hepatitis B.
Marc: And you did that because…?
Stephanie: At the time, my grandma was ill. And I was looking into where I could be a home health care nurse and take care of others. But then I also could get paid to take care of her because I was working with her anyway. So I was looking to do that.
Marc: Got it. How long ago was that?
Stephanie: It’s probably been maybe three years.
Stephanie: Three to four, something like that.
Marc: One last question I have for you. What would you say has been—other than the health stuff, taking all health stuff off the table. What have been the two biggest stressors for you in the last three years?
Stephanie: Very easy questions. My marriage. And my children are 19 and 21. And they were my life. So the marriage never worked. I’ve been married for 22 years. It didn’t work after the first five but continued to stay because of the kids. So I threw myself into them. I always worked part time. And they were my full time as well.
And because the marriage wasn’t there to have someone to talk to or have that adult to go to, I threw myself into anything and everything with them—their school activities, sports, anything.
So my daughter went off to college. That was tough. But my son was still home. And then last year, he decided to go to the same college as her. And I really feel like last year I went through a grieving period where I just didn’t know what to do with me.
And still to this day, I beat myself up that I’m 40 years old. My marriage is horrible. I don’t feel appreciated, loved, or wanted on any certain day. I give of myself to my children. I was giving of myself to my grandmother for the last six years when my grandfather passed away. And she passed away the middle of September.
So yeah, my children and my marriage have been huge. So I struggle to put my feet on the floor every morning. I don’t really look forward to anything. I know there has to be something bigger and better out there for me. But I don’t know how that’s going to manifest or what that’s going to be.
Marc: Yeah. Thank you for answering so honestly. I know that wasn’t easy. What are you going to do about your marriage?
Stephanie: I know I need to get divorced. There are not any signs of saving it. But it’s always been a thing because I got pregnant when I was 18. I didn’t ever go to college. And they were my world. So now, trying to have any type of education and financial stability on my own because he has been the breadwinner, for me to make that stand and leave. So it’s always that waiting game of when I’m going to be able to.
I’ve tried different things. And I don’t see that there’s going to be anything different happening, especially when I can only change it on my half. And there’s not any changing on his part from what I’ve seen over the last how many years.
Marc: I get it. So you have got a challenging situation there, young lady. I get it.
Marc: I get it. I get it. You’re not in an easy time at all because, on a lot of levels, you did what you knew how to do which was you dove into being a mom. And you probably excelled there tremendously. And you dove into serving in the ways that you can serve. Society doesn’t pay us money for that unfortunately.
Marc: It doesn’t. And I wish things were different in that regard.
Stephanie: Me too.
Marc: So here you are. So the kids are not a huge part of your life in terms of having to raise them moment to moment, day to day. The marriage isn’t feeding you. I’m just trying to repeat what I’ve heard from you. For you to leave, it’s like, “Wait a second. I can’t fully support myself right now because I haven’t been in that world.” You’ve been in a whole different world.
Marc: It’s excessively difficult to step into that universe if you’ve kind of never been in it.
Marc: You’ve kind of never been in it. So it would be scary. It would be crazy. And you have a big task in front of you. On top of that, your health is starting to challenge you. And you’re trying to manage all this at once.
Marc: That’s huge. I just want to say time out for a second. That’s really big.
Marc: So to me, if it feels daunting and confusing and crazy, if it feels that way to you, I understand. If I was in your shoes, I would probably be in way worse shape than you might be in. So all I’m going to say is, wow! Good for you for doing the best you can to help yourself and trying to keep your eyes on, whoa! What’s next here?
I think first and foremost you have to find hope.
Marc: I don’t know where you’re going to find that. I really don’t because it’s very personal. And it’s very spiritual or religious or whatever word you have for it. But you’ve got to find hope because on a certain level—and I really mean this, Stephanie. If we don’t have a good reason to be here, then there’s not a good reason to be healthy.
Marc: The reason to be healthy is because I’ve got things to do.
Marc: I’ve got kids to raise, places to go, people to hang with. I want to eat. I want to have some fun. I want to have love. Yeah, be healthy. And all that stuff really works nicely.
If I don’t have that, why should I be healthy? What’s the point?
Marc: So it feels to me like there’s also—you’re at an interesting choice point here. And the choice point is, I think—and I know you’ve thought of this. Can you leave and still be supported? I don’t know what the legalities of it are. I hope you talk to a lawyer at some point who understands what happens if you get divorced, financially.
Marc: What your husband is responsible for and what he’s not. So have you spoken with a lawyer?
Stephanie: Not recently. It’s been a couple years since I’ve seen someone to ask about anything. And at the time, I still had the kids. So I knew there was child support. So I don’t know as far as alimony or anything like that how it would all work now.
Marc: So that might be worth the money to you to have that conversation with somebody so you can understand. There might even be a lot of lawyers out there who will have a complimentary conversation with you. And you could just tell them, “Listen. Here’s my situation. Here’s my deal. I just need to know, am I entitled to anything? Because if I’m going to start paying you to help me, I need to know that there’s a reason for that.”
And I’m going to guess that you potentially have a lot more on your side than you know. It might not be as bleak as you think from a legal/financial perspective. I’m just saying that.
Stephanie: Yeah, I’m not sure. I would like to believe. But that’s always been a fear. I take pride in my home and things like that. We’re home-owners. And I would like to keep the house. And that’s always one thing that has been shoved in my face and hung over my head. “Well, how would you afford the house?” when I’m the one who mows the grass—from everything from the outside to the inside.
And so I’m the one who takes pride in where we have been mostly because of any house we lived in or apartment or anything through the years, I made whatever dwelling and four walls we were in, whether it was a house or an apartment, I made it a home because I had children.
So I would like to keep where I live. But I don’t know. Is that something where I could keep the house and if there would be any alimony or things coming back towards me until I could get on my feet better?
Marc: Yeah, I really want to see you empower yourself more because right now you’re not feeling that. You’re not feeling hope. And you’re not feeling empowered. And one of the ways to feel hope and feel empowered is to gather more information. You need just data. You need facts and information.
Those facts and information might turn out to be good. Those facts and information might not turn out to be good. We don’t know.
Marc: But I think you have to find that out because in a weird way the challenging part is just beginning for you. The challenging part is just beginning for you. And a lot of times, we get stuck because we don’t want to go through the pain because you know that this process is going to be freaking painful.
Marc: Even in a marriage that is no longer working and a relationship that’s no longer working, you know. You have friends. You’ve been around awhile. It’s still hard for people to leave. You could know somebody in an abusive relationship, and they still have a hard time leaving.
So it’s hard. It’s hard, especially because it’s long term. You’ve raised kids together. There have been certain things about the relationship that have been successful, certain ways that you’ve supported each other, certain habits that you’ve gotten into, things that don’t work. Breaking up is painful. It’s just painful.
And yeah, people get nasty sometimes. People get dumb. He might be one of those guys. He might not be. I don’t know.
But the reality is you have to empower yourself. Because if you live in fear of what’s he going to do or not going to do, then you don’t have yourself.
Stephanie: Yeah, I understand.
Marc: Yeah, so at the end of the day, you’re going to have to make the choice at some point that I’m going to face this pain. It’s going to be painful.
Marc: It’s going to suck. Divorce sucks. Separation sucks. Splitting up all the possessions and trying to figure that all out is never easy. I don’t know anybody that ever says, “Yeah, that was such a great process.” I’ve gone through a divorce. I know what that’s like. It’s not fun.
So on a certain level, let me say this. You potentially have a whole new life in front of you. You have no idea what that new life is because it seems so far away. And it is a little bit far away right now because there are a lot of steps you have to go through to get to what your new life is.
You don’t know what it’s like to be a single adult. You don’t know what it’s like to be a single woman. You don’t know what it’s like to have to earn money and support yourself in some way. Those are some awesomely huge unknowns.
The financial piece is arguably the most difficult because it’s basic to your survival. I need what I need what I need to live. I want my house. I want my security. So that’s some difficult stuff to face.
Marc: You have to marshal all your resources. And I’m talking about friends, family, whoever loves you, whoever supports you, whoever is in your corner. Now’s the time to call in the people that love you to stand by you because hopefully you have that because this is hard to do alone.
Marc: It’s not easy to go through this alone. Do you have help and support and people that love you through this?
Stephanie: Yes. I know they would be there. I just feel like it has been ongoing for so long that they just kind of know how it is so I feel like a broken record. But I know they would be there.
Marc: Yeah, so they will be there. And all I’m saying is I’m feeling like for you now is not the time. But now might be the time to say to yourself, “I need to make a move. And I need to make some decisions.”
And look at a calendar. And give yourself a by when. So actually put some dates in your mind. “You know something? I want to talk to a lawyer within another month. I want to gather information about that. I want to be able to feel like I can be on my own and support myself in another year.” And start to make a tangible goal for yourself. You don’t know how you’re going to support yourself necessarily. But if you say, “I want to know that in another year,” it starts gears going.
Marc: You then have to take certain steps. And maybe you’re feeling stuck. I don’t know. But part of reclaiming your health and reclaiming your energy is reclaiming you.
Marc: So we can focus on all the health issues right now. For sure, that complicates everything. But what I want to say is I strongly believe—I know that it as you step up and empower you, your health has to get better. It has to.
Marc: Is it going to be perfect? No. But you’ll do it step by step. And this is the most difficult time of your life.
Marc: Up to now, this is arguably the most difficult time in your life. I think if you could truly own that and acknowledge that and know that, yeah, you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know how you’re going to do it.
And take a big, deep breath. And I don’t know how you find hope. But that is so important at this point—to find the hope and the momentum to take the risks that I think you know you need to take.
Stephanie: Okay. Yeah.
Marc: Do you know what I’m saying?
Stephanie: I do. Yeah, I struggle with pulling from deep inside to think that I have that strength and power or finding that reason. My children were always that reason. So it has just [compounded] things with them not being—that’s something I have to dive into every day. They were that reason that I got up and pushed through every day. And I still live for them but not in the same capacity.
Marc: Yes, here’s the thing. I have a 23-year-old son. What I know about him very clearly is he wants me to be happy and that truthfully the more happy and empowered I am the more I’m being me and the real me and a good version of me, the better it is for him because they’re our kids. And it’s like they’re saying, “Yeah, yeah.”
Now, it doesn’t mean we don’t go through difficult stuff. It doesn’t mean we don’t go through breakdowns. It means we go through difficult times, and then we rise up.
You’re setting an example for your children of how to be adults. So they’re not children anymore. They’re not quite adults, quite frankly. So in a lot of ways, they’re still your kids and not in the same way. But your successes, your efforts for yourself will have a huge impact on them. Huge!
So if you want to pull the kid card, I’m totally happy because they will get so much out of your transformation. You have no idea. You have no idea how that’s going to stay with them into the future and be an example for them because they want their mother to be happy.
Marc: That’s their bottom line. So that’s a gift that you give to yourself. It’s a gift that you give to them for sure. And I think you’ve accurately figured out that you also have to start doing stuff for you.
Marc: And in a weird way, Stephanie, there’s a part of you that’s still this 18-year-old girl who is very innocent and was thrust into being a woman fast.
Marc: You were thrust into responsibility quickly. Now, quite honestly, 100 years ago, that was not an issue.
Marc: 70 years ago, that was not an issue. My mother had my sister when she was 17 years old and was a great mom and was awesome. And that’s what they did back then. Nowadays, it’s a little bit different. And you jumped into this at a very young age for this day and age.
Stephanie: Right, yeah.
Marc: And now, I think what’s going to happen is your life is now going to be more about Stephanie. And who are you? What do you want? And it’s okay if you don’t know. It’s okay if you don’t know. It really is because you could also know what you don’t want.
Stephanie: Yeah, I think I know more, yeah.
Marc: You know what you don’t want.
Stephanie: Yeah. I think I know more about what I don’t than what I do.
Marc: Which is fine. Which helps us get out of certain situations. Which will help you graduate from your marriage because you know that there are aspects of the marriage that don’t work. Does your husband want to stay married?
Stephanie: I think it depends on which day it is. He’s very laid back. So things sometimes affect him. And then other times, it doesn’t.
My daughter recently came to me actually the day before Thanksgiving and was very gentle and compassionate with me. But she said, “You guys need to get divorced. You guys aren’t happy. You’re not healthy.” She didn’t as much say it about me. My husband has gained quite a bit of weight. And he has taken on a lot of responsibility at his job recently. And she is fearful for his health. So she has asked us to.
Marc: Are you able to have honest conversations with him?
Stephanie: Yes, but it’s all one sided. I never get any thoughts back or any communication. He just stares at me. And then I just have to walk away. There’s never any dialogue at all.
Marc: Does he have any interest in counseling, getting a little help, getting a little support in that way? Is that something he would do or he could afford to do?
Stephanie: We’ve tried maybe two or three times over the last 22 years. And it has just never—either he couldn’t make it because of work. Or we just got in there and spun our wheels. He said his part. I would say mine. And there was never a resolution of anything. So it was just, “Why are we wasting time and energy and money?”
I don’t feel like it was ever given an honest shot. I think it could have been helpful. But it didn’t go on long enough.
Marc: So my suggestion to you is that you set a timeline for yourself. You set some timelines. You set some dates. And you start to make your life more real in that particular way because I think if you just let things float, they will continue as they are.
Your symptoms will continue to be symptoms. Things will probably get worse for you, for him. You’ll try to coexist. It won’t work. So it’s either you jump into fixing it. Or you get out. Really. It’s almost an either or. Either is fine, really.
Marc: Either is fine. But it sounds like you might be the one driving that decision.
Stephanie: Yes, very much so. And I think that’s scary too, not that I want to be drug or pulled by someone else. I guess I would rather be the one in control. I guess I just don’t even know where to start or to gather those tools. I feel like if I start that I will just break down and give up or that I won’t keep pushing through.
Marc: That’s why I asked you about the people in your life who are there to support you because they are there to support you to understand what your fears are, what you think your weaknesses are. And it’s like, “Hey, here’s where I need support. I don’t know if I’ve got the energy. I don’t know if I’m going to have what it takes to push through this. If I’m going to break down, I need you guys to keep an eye on me.”
So it’s about you learning to marshal the resources that you have. Part of our fear of not having enough resource—resource means money. Resource means things. Resource means human resources, people in our lives.
One of the biggest challenges is we don’t always use the resources that we have in a good way. You might not have a lot of money, but do you spend it wisely? You might not have a lot of energy. Do you spend that energy wisely? So it’s really you starting to look at the resources that you have and really call upon those resources.
And I’m especially thinking of human resource. I’m especially thinking of people resources, to really call that in.
Marc: That’s so important here. That’s so important because you cannot do this alone. You cannot do it alone. I would love for you to literally write down a list so you can see it. Who’s your team?
Marc: Who are the people you can call up anytime? And you make sure you enroll them and let them know, “Hey, I’m going to do a little bit more of a deep dive here right now. I’m going to face some stuff in a different way.”
You are not aware of the power that you have. There are places where you’re just lacking confidence right now. And life is just going to ask you to work in those places. So you’re going to be in the sort of workshop where you’re going to be learning confidence as you go along.
But the way you learn how to be more confident as a public speaker is you be a nervous public speaker. And then you get in front of an audience. That’s how you do it.
Marc: The way you learn how to be more confident on an airplane and not get all jittery is you get on an airplane and breathe.
For you, it’s less about stress management. It’s less about calming yourself down, in my opinion. And it’s more about going into it. Believe it or not.
Marc: It’s more about actually going into the belly of the beast because what’s happening is you’re getting afraid to go to the places where you know you need to go.
Stephanie: Yeah, I shut down. I know. I will start to go there. And then it’s that fear that sets in that says I can’t. I can’t possibly do this. So then everything just stops. Everything shuts down.
Stephanie: And then of course, with that, depression, anxiety, everything just starts flowing in.
Marc: Yes, so you know that about yourself. And that’s the place where you get derailed. And that’s the place that you have to grow. Really, it’s as simple as that. It’s no different than you encouraging one of your children to work harder in a place where they need to work harder. It’s the same thing.
And part of working harder means, as you gather your resources, you know you have people around you, people who are there for you, people you can trust, people you can come to and say, “God, I blew it today. God, I got all scared. God, I chickened out.” Or, “Wow! I had a success today.” Or, “Oh my god, he said this. I said that. What should I—?” All of it.
Support will help you go a long way. But you have to be more on it about that. This is a gift that you give to yourself. You’re learning how to gather strength for yourself. There’s a chance that when you got married you didn’t know a lot. You were still a kid.
Marc: So in a lot of ways, you’re learning how to be—and you’ve learned how to be a woman in so many different ways. But now, you’re learning how to be a woman in a whole different way.
Marc: In ways that you haven’t learned. And it’s scary. It’s understandably scary. So if you’re scared, just know that makes perfect sense. Any human being in your shoes would be peeing in their pants, in my opinion.
Marc: So the fact that it’s scary and it stresses you out means you’re paying attention.
Marc: It means you’re not drugging yourself and distracting yourself. It means you’re awake and you understand the gravity of the situation. So what I want to say to you is, though I don’t know you super well, from this conversation, I firmly believe that you have what it takes to birth yourself through this.
Stephanie: I appreciate it.
Marc: Yes, but it is like a birth. Now, I’ve never given birth. But I’ve observed it. You know the experience of it. You’ve got to squeeze that little puppy out of there. It’s bloody. And it’s messy. And it’s painful. And it’s weird. And it’s strange. And you know there’s something good on the other end. But man, why is this so difficult?
Stephanie: Right, yeah.
Marc: Same thing. So there’s a birth at the other end. And you don’t know who’s going to be born. But I promise you it’s going to be unimaginable in a good way. You don’t know. You don’t know. You don’t know.
And there’s where you start to gather hope for yourself. And there’s where you start to dream a little bit. And there’s where you start to go, “Huh, maybe there is a new me at the other end of this. What could she potentially look like? What could she potentially be like?”
Start to feel into her. Start to feel into that future self just a little more because you need to gather some momentum for yourself is kind of how I’m feeling.
Marc: So gathering momentum means people around you because right now your body doesn’t have enough juice in it to push through all this.
Marc: That’s why I keep harping on people, people, people, people, people. You have to bring that kind of resource into play.
Stephanie: Alright, yeah.
Marc: So we weren’t able to just push a button and fix things. But what I feel has happened is you’ve been very generous in being super real and super honest about your life and where you’re at. Just from a standpoint of people watching this, you’ve been very daring to share what you’ve shared. And I just honor that. And I respect it a tremendous amount. You don’t know how brave that it.
If I didn’t know your story and I was just talking to you about these things without them being presented as a problem, I would say, “Wow! This is a woman who’s really on her game. And she’s paying attention to life. This is an empowered lady.”
There are places where you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for who you are because you haven’t been feeling good about yourself. You haven’t had enough input from the outside, helping you feel good about yourself. So you’re actually missing that piece in your life right now.
Marc: I really also want you to keep an eye out for who are the people that help acknowledge you. Who are the people that give you feedback that juices you up? You really need that. You just need some food. That’s like food for you right now, just getting positive feedback. And that could be an exercise that you do, a plaything that you do with your girlfriend. “Listen, I’m feeling shit about myself right now. Do me a favor. Take 5 minutes. Tell me all the things that are great about me.” Really.
Marc: Really, that would be great for you because it feels like your system is a little hungry for nourishment in that way.
Marc: So at least start to get that from your friends. If you can’t get it from your relationship, get it from the people closest to you.
Marc: Stephanie, I really appreciate you just being willing to just reveal yourself and share yourself. And I truly feel like you can do this. I really do. And I know it’s going to be hard. I know it’s going to be hard. And that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It just means it’s going to be hard.
Stephanie: Yes. Yeah, I know.
Marc: Yeah. And we get to visit each other in another five months if you like to just do a follow-up session. My team will reach out to you. I’d love to connect and see how you’re doing at that point.
Stephanie: Yeah, that’d be great.
Marc: Yeah. Thank you so much really.
Stephanie: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Marc: Yeah. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. I appreciate you all for dropping in, being on this journey with us. Once again, I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. Take care, my friends.
I hope this was helpful. Thanks for listening to the Psychology of Eating podcast. To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video series at IPE.tips. That’s I for Institute, P for Psychology, E for Eating.tips. T-i-p-s. You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of dynamic eating psychology and mind/body nutrition that have helped millions of people forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health.
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