The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 29: People Pleasing and Weight Loss

Michelle had been struggling with her weight for a lifetime. So a recent weight loss of 80 pounds might be expected to leave her thrilled. But instead, she’s constantly worried about gaining it all back, she still obsesses over food, and she still judges herself for what she eats. Michelle wants to let go of this unnecessary stress, but can’t figure it out. Tune in to this highly engaging podcast episode as Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology helps Michelle have a breakthrough using some unexpected tricks from Dynamic Eating Psychology.

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everybody! I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m with Michelle. Welcome, Michelle!

Michelle: Thank you!

Marc: Thank you! Thanks for being here. Thanks for doing this. Let me just fill you in, even though I know you know this, but just for viewers and listeners who are with us for the first time. So Michelle and I will be doing a session together. And it’s a turbocharged session, meaning we’re going to try to do six months to a year’s worth of work in about fifty minutes and hopefully have some insights, hopefully have a breakthrough, an opening, or just a way through to help you get to where you want to go.

So this won’t be a typical client session because I’m looking at this as the only session we’ll ever have together. So if I could give you my best that I know, this would be it. So, Michelle, why don’t you share with me what would you like to work on?

Michelle: Well, I’ve been through an interesting process for the last two to three years. I’ve been overweight pretty much my whole life, or at least I thought I’ve been overweight all my life. In the last two years, I’ve started getting coached for me and doing a lot of inner work.

And then I went to see a nutrition coach. And she put me on a program. And I lost eighty pounds, which is all very positive. So I seem to be maintaining it at the moment. But I’m recognizing that I’m super hypervigilant about what I eat. I’m very careful about what I don’t eat. And I feel that I’m quite stressed and worrying about gaining the weight back. And I’m not sure that that’s a healthy way to continue. I don’t know that it’s sustainable. So that’s where I’m at at the moment.

Marc: So you’re looking to shift this so you can be at the weight you are and live your life and not have to worry about anything?

Michelle: Yeah, I’m not necessarily looking to lose weight. It would be nice to lose five or ten pounds. But that’s not my motivation because I’m really happy where I am. However I’m not sure that the stress and the worrying about what I’m eating all the time and not eating is very healthy for me. And I think there’s this worry that I’m going to gain it back and go all the way back to where I was.

Marc: Yeah, I got it.

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: So, by the way, just a hint here…what you’re describing, I have heard so many times, it’s mind-boggling how many people like yourself — and I’m not saying you’re not unique because you are unique and you’re you — but there are so many people who have literally gone on a weight loss diet, finally lost the weight, and then they step into the fear of, “Oh, my God. I’m going to gain it back. And I have to be hypervigilant. What if I gain it back? I have to watch everything and do everything right.”

I’ve also met people who literally don’t have the weight to lose and they’ve been at the weight they wanted to be at for the longest time, and they’re still worried about gaining it. So that’s where they’re living life from. So all I’m saying is that this is a shared experience, oddly enough.

So let me ask you this question: when was the earliest time in life that you were aware that, “I want to look different. I want to lose weight.”

Michelle: Oh, my gosh. I want to say five or six. I want to say five or six.

Marc: Age five or six. Wow. Yeah. That’s also not unusual. Can you just say a few, like words how that has impacted your life, your journey? What’s life been like being you, living in a body that you’ve wanted to change since a young age?

Michelle: Wow. I think it’s been hard, obviously. And I think what I did to cope was I used other people’s gauges. So I recognized that I was bigger. And then if people said that — I don’t know if this is making sense — but that would confirm it. So I kind of grew into a bigger person. I think I just became bigger. And before I lost this last eighty pounds, I was 241 pounds. So I grew into that person that people saw me as.

And so I became a people pleaser. I really didn’t pay attention to what I wanted and all that kind of stuff. So it’s been an interesting two years. I’m starting to learn who I am and things that I like and that kind of thing. But it’s been a hard road in a lot of ways.

Marc: So are there things in your life that you would say you didn’t do or you wished you would have done because of, “Wow, I’m overweight. So I can’t be this person.”

Michelle: Totally. I always wanted to go into acting. I never did that because I thought I was too fat. Lots of things going on, vacations I wouldn’t do because I was worried about how I’d look. And being overweight, going swimming with my family, I wouldn’t go or I’d sit on the sidelines swimming because I didn’t want to put on a bathing suit. There’s been so much that I never did because of my weight.

So I think that’s where the fear comes in because I don’t ever want to go back to that place. I like where I’m at now. And I feel great in this body. So, yeah.

Marc: So has anything changed for you in your outer life since you’ve lost the weight?

Michelle: Outer life. Um…

Marc: In terms of how you show up in the world, what you’re doing, what you’re up to…

Michelle: Absolutely. I’m totally saying “no” more to people. I’m listening to my intuition. And a weird thing: I’m taking a painting class, which I’ve never done before. So I’m trying to do things that bring me joy. And I’m trying to listen to my heart more. So that’s different.

And I think it’s been an interesting experience because I’ve kind of lost some friendships along the way because I’m not that people pleasing person. So I am showing up more. I’m probably the most me I’ve never been. So it’s a good thing. These are all good things. But there’s still that inner sort of little bit of panic.

Marc: Yeah. Are you in relationship?

Michelle: I am. I have a husband. And I have two boys.

Marc: How old are your boys?

Michelle: Fourteen and eight.

Marc: Fourteen and eight. Wow, congratulations. And how long have you been married?

Michelle: I’ve been married seventeen years.

Marc: And how has your husband been on this journey with your body and your weight and the weight that you were and the weight that you are now? What’s his experience of all this?

Michelle: He’s been amazing, actually. He’s always accepted me, whatever size I was or am. When I started on this journey, he really supported me. And he actually followed along with me. So whatever I was eating, he would eat with me. He ended up losing weight, as well, a little bit. So super supportive, super loving. He’s kind of my rock. I can just be me with him. So it’s been really positive in that way.

Marc: Wow. You’ve got a keeper there!

Michelle: I do! I do. Very blessed. Very blessed, yeah.

Marc: Is your mom still alive?

Michelle: She is, yes.

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

Michelle: She’s always dieted. She’s always thought she was overweight. If I look at pictures or if I remember, I never remember her being terribly overweight. But that’s always been a thing. So we would do diets together. It’s always been a thing for us, for her and I to talk about weight.

And when I started on this last journey, she tried to go along with me. And she’s very competitive, I would say, even though she’s eighty.

Marc: Really? Yay!

Michelle: She’s still very competitive. Yeah. So it’s an interesting dynamic there with my mom.

Marc: So are you guys close?

Michelle: I would say fairly close. Yeah, fairly close.

Marc: Mmm hmm. What would you change about the relationship if you could change it and make better? What would that look like?

Michelle: Gosh. Less judgmental, I think.

Marc: Who would be less judgmental?

Michelle: It would be nice if she was less judgmental. It would be nice if I could be a hundred percent myself without worrying about negativity. There’s a lot of negativity there.

Marc: What is she judgmental about?

Michelle: I think she’s often judgmental about the decisions that I make. If they’re not in line with what she thinks should be happening going on, she’ll make comments, just negative stuff. And I’ve always been a people pleaser. So it’s hard, right, because you’re trying to please them. But you’re trying to move in your own direction. So I think that’s what I would change.

Marc: So you would change the judgment that’s coming your way from her, the negativity when you’re doing something that she doesn’t approve of. It would kind of be nice to get a little bit of approval from that direction?

Michelle: It would be, yeah.

Marc: Yeah. I get it. So when you were not at the weight that you are at right now, what was your imagining that, “When I lose the weight and I’m at the weight that I want, the following is going to happen. Here is how life is going to be different.” How is it going to be different? What would you have said to me?

Michelle: Well, I thought I’d be smaller for some reason. I thought I’d look like the models, which is silly. You just have this idea that you’ll look a certain way. So I had that. And I also thought I would be freer. And I thought that everyone would be really accepting. And I didn’t expect people in my life — some people — to have difficulty with it. That’s been an interesting twist for me.

So I guess I expected all roses and celebrations and good things. I wasn’t expecting the other stuff, which was where people struggled with it. Some of my relationships really suffered because of it.

Marc: Give me a few details. How so? The people suffered because they were thinking or they were doing or they were saying…

Michelle: I have one friend that I had. And she was overweight. And we kind of shared that overweight mentality, I guess. And I lost the weight. And she had difficulty with it. And, of course, I wasn’t people pleasing as much. And consequently the relationship ended.

So I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect things like that. And even friends that I still have, there’s still that needling, side-lying comments about how I’m too skinny or I’m this, that kind of stuff. So I didn’t really expect that. So I had an idealistic, maybe, viewpoint going in.

Marc: So those needling comments, do they come from women? From men friends? From both?

Michelle: Women.

Marc: Women. Interesting. Okay. And what kind of diet are you following right now? Are you on a specific diet?

Michelle: No. No. Well, not really. I try to eat real food as much as possible. I’ve cut out sugar pretty much all together, except for natural fruit, so natural sugars. I cut out a lot of grain — I will have steel cut oats in the morning — just because I seem to feel better without them. I eat four to five times a day, now probably about four times a day. And I make sure I have protein at every meal. So that’s basically what I’m eating.

Marc: By the way, I like to bounce around. But there’s a method to the madness here. I’m going to be a numbers voyeur for a second. So what did you weigh before you lost the weight? And what do you weigh now?

Michelle: 241, I started. And I now weigh 162.

Marc: And in your ideal, you would weigh…?

Michelle: Ideally, I have a thing about the BMI, which I know is not something to look at. But it’s just my mind. Anyway, I would love to weigh probably about 155.

Marc: So you would lose how many pounds?

Michelle: That would be seven more pounds, I guess.

Marc: And then what would happen once you hit that seven-pound weight loss?

Michelle: Nothing.

Marc: [Chuckles]

Michelle: Nothing. [Laughs] I know. It’s a silly thing. But I think because every time I’ve looked at that BMI, I’ve always been either obese or overweight. So it’s just this mental thing. It’s a totally mental thing.

Marc: How often do you weigh yourself?

Michelle: Probably once a week at least.

Marc: Once a week at least. Okay.

Michelle: And also, too, if I eat something that I’m — see, this is where the problem is — if I eat something that is not on my program or what I normally eats, I’ll have a little bit of a panic. And I’ll weigh myself. It’s a mind game, right? “Oh, I haven’t gained weight. So I’m okay.” So there’s that stress I think, that stress around that.

Marc: Did your husband change towards you when you lost the eighty pounds?

Michelle: No. No. Like I said, he’s been really supportive. He champions me, truly. He says he’s proud of me every day.

Marc: By the way, I just want to point out for a moment, especially to the women out there who are listening in or watching this, there are great freaking men in this world who are not sitting around going, “Oh, my gosh. She needs to lose five pounds or fifteen pounds or twenty pounds.”

He’s been the same loving guy no matter what you’ve weighed. And I also want to say I’ve heard this time and time again of women who are with amazing men who are like, “I love you just like this. And now you’ve lost this weight, and I love you. And you’ve gained five pounds. And I love you.” Pfft! Guys don’t care.

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: So are you a full-time mom? Are you working? What’s happening there?

Michelle: I work part time. So I just work two days a week. But mostly I’m here for my kids. My kids are my focus of the moment, just getting them to and fro extracurricular activities and that kind of stuff. I just like to be available.

Marc: Yeah, good for you. What’s your vision for the next — I don’t know — let’s say twenty years of your life?

Michelle: Twenty years?

Marc: Or you could chunk it up into ten. Like pick a chunk that can kind of work for you to answer this question.

Michelle: It’s changing. I think that I’ve become really interested in nutrition and this whole process. And for me it feels like more of an inside process than an outside process. So I’ve become really interested in that. I’ve also become really interested in just physical health. And I do go to a gym. And I love it. I only go two to three times a week. But I love it. So that’s become an interest. So my vision is that…well, I don’t really have one. I haven’t looked that far ahead. So, yeah, I’m living in the now.

Marc: No, that’s totally understandable. You don’t have to have one.

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: So ideally, then, if you could wave your magic wand and have the results that you want — other then the seven-pound weight loss — what would change for you in your internal world, if you could say that in just two or three sentences?

Michelle: The anxiety around food and my weight would be gone. And I would have a more trusting relationship with food, if that makes sense.

Marc: That makes total sense. So let me give you some thoughts and ideas and feedback because I think I’ve gotten a lot so far. And I think you know a lot. And the good news is I believe that you’re further along than you might think right now. I think you’re a lot wiser than you might know. And I think you have some good tools in your toolkit.

And here’s what I mean. When I listen to your journey, here you were spending so much time of your life from a young age…And I want to point out that this piece about being five or six years old and remembering at that point that you wanted to change your body and that this isn’t good enough, that’s a parasite. It’s a virus. It affects so many people, in particular women. It really lands hard in women.

It doesn’t belong to you. It’s not personal. You’re not the only gal who has this. And it shows us how insidious it is. It’s literally like a virus that we catch. And we catch it at a young age. And it infects the mind. It causes us to act and feel and believe and to enact behaviors that are counter to us being the fullest, most powerful, most beautiful expression of who we are.

The reason why we can’t kick that thing’s butt, the reason why it infects us and we can’t get rid of that is because it’s so powerful. It grips us. Otherwise you and I wouldn’t be in this conversation. You would have handled it a long time ago. There are so many people, so many women who this impacts to a powerful degree.

And you kind of said this. I’m paraphrasing it. But essentially being what you called overweight has taken up so much energy in your life. It’s taken a lot of energy. And it’s prevented you from doing things that you wanted to do and being the person you wanted to be. So all of a sudden, you even said to me with a sense of surprise like, “Wow. I’ve even started doing an art class!” And it sounds like you really like that.

Now, who would think that we might have the thought in our minds, “I can’t take this art class. I have too much pounds on my body.” Think of how silly that is. But yet that happens to us. We stop ourselves from living life in a weird way because, “Well, I carry this extra weight. So I’m therefore not good enough.” So I’m going to get back to that in a moment.

But I think you very accurately hit the nail on your head and said, “Wow, because of this…” — I’m going to call it an assessment — “I’m overweight.” Because in truth, we don’t know how much anyone should weigh. And right now if you were brought up in a different culture, if you were brought up in Hawaii, if you were brought up in a lot of African nations, if you were brought up in a lot of Latin American countries. People wouldn’t give a damn about what you look like with that weight. You wouldn’t be called overweight. You would be called you. And it wouldn’t stop you from living your life.

So anyway, with this assessment, it’s easy to become a people pleaser. And the truth is you are not a people pleaser. People pleasing as a behavior. But it can become an identity. You follow me?

Michelle: Yep.

Marc: It’s a behavior. Now, once in a while I become a people pleaser here and there. Sometimes I feel good about it because it’s nice to please other people. It’s okay. It’s not a bad thing. And at the same time, when we identify with that, when it becomes our go-to persona because, “I have to do this…”

And this is what a lot of overweight boys and girls do.

They figure out, “Holy crap. I’m the bottom of the barrel here because of your fat or overweight, everybody’s prejudiced against you these days.” So it’s not good to be overweight or fat in this world because fat is the F word. It’s a dirty word. And there’s a lot of weight hate that comes our way.

And people who don’t have this, they have no idea. There’s a lot of weight hate. And it’s undeserved. And it’s insane. And it’s crazy. But then, “Oh, my God. There’s all this weight hate coming at me.” So as children we quickly figure out, “How the heck do I navigate this? Because this sucks.” It is not good to have people hating on you who don’t even know you. They don’t know you.

So if you become a people pleaser — it’s a brilliant strategy, by the way — so I want you to know that to the child’s mind, the child is trying to survive. So you found a great way, as have others, to go, “Okay, people are hating on me. The best way to counter that is to love on them, is to please them. And if I please them, they’re going to go, ‘Wow, I normally hate fat people. But she’s good to me. She pleases me. I’m going to like you, of course until you stop pleasing me. As soon as you stop pleasing me, I ain’t gonna I like you.’”

So if you and I create relationships based on, “I’m to please you. I’m going to please you. What do I have to do to please you? Forget about me. Forget about my feelings, my desires, what I’m thinking, what I’m wanting. Let’s just please you first so this way I’m not going to be hated on,” we take that on as an identity.

So what’s happening for you right now is you’re shedding that identity. You’re letting it go because you’re like, “Oh, my goodness. I don’t have to be a people pleaser anymore because I’ve lost the weight.” And there’s going to be a part of you — I don’t know that this is true. I might be putting words in your mouth — that’s kind of going, “Screw you now.” Yeah, right? Feels good.

Michelle: Totally.

Marc: There’s a liberation in not having to be a people pleaser. So what I want to say is there might be a little bit of very healthy rebound effect for you where you’re going to start to go, “I ain’t pleasing this person anymore.” And if your friends can’t accept you for who you are, they don’t belong in your life. If they can accept you for being 240 pounds or 160 pounds, they shouldn’t be in your life. I don’t care what you weigh. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend. Plain and simple. So if they can’t accept you, they don’t deserve to be your friend. They don’t.

And I know that’s a surprise for you because you said to me, “Wow, I thought there would be parades and roses and explosions of, ‘We really love you now because we hate fat people. But now that you’re not fat, we love you.’” And you don’t get that. So that’s the weird thing that you’ve discovered that so many people before you have discovered that the haters are going to hate no matter what.

People are not going to like you for all kinds of reasons. If you were a beautiful, runway fashion model making millions of dollars a year, let me tell you something. People are getting hate you.

Those women have been my clients. And some of them are so dramatically hated that it drives them to drug addictions and to near suicide. You follow what I’m saying?

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: So people hate. People love. And it almost doesn’t have anything to do with anything. So what I’m saying is I would really love for you to continue what you’re doing, which is to take the sum total of your experience and really observe it and examine it, which I see you doing. You’re going, “Wait, I thought I was going to get all this love. And I’m not.” And in a way, we have this false hope that when I have this perfect body, then it’s all going to come together.

And there’s certain things that got better because you convinced yourself to take the art class. But you could have taken the art class anytime. So what I want to say to you is that it doesn’t matter how much you weigh. It doesn’t. It doesn’t. It doesn’t. It doesn’t. You can live your life and be you.

Your husband, by the way, is living proof of that. There’s a lot of people, particularly women, who are walking around going, “I will never be loved because I don’t weigh this number. I will never be loved because I don’t have this body.” And you’ve been being loved on for at least seventeen years for a guy that’s been loving you through every weight. And there it is. Is living proof that it doesn’t matter.

Yeah, you might get different kinds of attention if you’re looking a certain way, for sure. But that doesn’t mean love. It means attention. And I want to say to you — and I know you know this, but I’m going to say it anyway — now is the time to live your life. And I think you’ve just gotten living proof that it doesn’t matter. So when you say to me, “I’ve still got the fear of gaining back the weight,” in a weird way, that’s the old pattern still impacting you. “Okay, well now that I’m there, now that I’ve lost all this weight, oh, my God. I might go back to the old me.”

Michelle: Right.

Marc: But the old you was still loved. The new you is discovering that there’s still haters. You’re losing people. And you don’t have to people please. I don’t care what you weigh, you don’t have to people please.

Michelle: Right.

Marc: And you don’t have to people please, especially for your mom. That’s one place where the people pleasing started. When I asked you, “Wow, if you could change anything about her,” you said — which is totally understandable— “Kind of stop judging me and stop being so negative. Love me for me.” So here’s what I want to say about that. And I believe this is important. Your mom is eighty. She’s probably not going to change.

Michelle: [Laughs] Yes, I agree with that.

Marc: She’s probably not going to change. Now, I would love for you to start — if you haven’t done so already — to be willing to catch your mom verbally when she starts judging you and point it out to her and ask her to stop. “Mom, your eighty. I’m — whatever your age is — I would love for you to start loving me for who I am. It’s about time. Let’s do this before you die. I would love for you and me to have that experience.”

You can be playful with it. You could play with her on that. I don’t expect her to change.

But you can change in your inner world with her because our relationship with our same-sex parent is extremely important when it comes to our own relationship with our body. My guess is…not my guess. You told me she was critical with her own body. And you’re looking back on it now. And you look at pictures and you go, “She wasn’t that overweight. Come on.”

So she has spoken that way to her own self. She has passed that on to you. It’s not her fault because she probably got it from somewhere, too. She absorbed it either from her mom or she absorbed it from the world. So it’s never anybody’s faults. But you can actually take a leap forward in your own life by realizing that you don’t need to please your mother anymore. You’re your own woman. And in this area, you’re more advanced than she is. You’re more mature than she is. So you can call her out on this in a playful but clear way. Because what’s going to happen is when we’re with our parent, we become that child again. Right?

Michelle: Yeah, absolutely.

Marc: So I would love to see you empower yourself and become an adult with your mother because you need to step more into your adulthood. You need to step out of the people pleasing, young, little fat girl who thinks she has to people please to get people to love her. The truth is you were lovable then. You were deserving of respect then. And you’re deserving of respect now, no matter what the hell you weigh. It doesn’t matter.

You found a man who gets that, who doesn’t need to be convinced otherwise. Work off of that. Work off of that, knowing that, “Hey, I can get goodies. I can be loved for being me.” Again, as soon as you start to catch yourself being a little girl with your mother, it’s going to really turn things around because you changed your body. You’ve shape shifted your body. Internally, you’re trying to catch up. You follow me?

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: Internally you’re still wearing this fat girl, people pleasing persona. And I’m not saying that as a judgment. When I say fat girl, I’m not yet entered judgment. If you’re fat, you’re fat. If you’re skinny, you’re skinny. If you’re tall, you’re tall. If you’re short, you’re short. It doesn’t matter.

But there is a persona that goes along with that. And that’s the persona that I want you to shed. It’s an identity that you’ve assumed. And it’s really a learned behavior that you took on thinking, “I have to be this person.” And you don’t have to be her anymore. Nor did you ever have to be her. You follow me?

Michelle: Oh, with my mom, just sharing that helps.

Marc: And what this is in part going to look like is you might end up being a little bit not nice sometimes. You might need to stand up for yourself sometimes. You might need to look a little bit more mean to yourself because often times when we adopt the people pleasing persona, what gets pushed down is the anger and the rage and the, “Hey, get off of my back here. Stop with your judgments. Stop with your nonsense. Don’t treat me like that.”

So I love for you that you’ve let certain relationships go. To me, that’s a very mature, womanly act because you are great lady.

I can tell. And if somebody gets to hang out with you and be your child or be your husband or be your friend, they’re lucky because your time is your most valuable thing you have to give to people. Right?

If I love somebody, the biggest way I can express my love is I spend time with that person. Or I’m on the phone with them. I’m giving them my time. So people who aren’t loving you and who are judging you don’t deserve your time. That might not sound nice. And it isn’t nice. But, man, is it good and smart and wise and a way better use of your energy.

So I want to say something about that. You’ve been people pleasing others. But now it’s time to turn that inward and people please you. People pleasing view means it’s time for you to love you and for you to love on you. And you’re afraid of gaining back the weight because that’s the old persona kicking in like, “Oh, my God. If I gain this back, people are not going to love me anymore. I’m not going to love me anymore.” You have to love you right now.

Easier said than done, but you have to do it. You have to catch yourself every moment. This is a practice. And I really mean this. I think this is so important. You have to practice, just like practicing learning the piano, practicing a sport. If you drive your kids to sports, they’re practicing. Kicking the ball, hitting the ball, catching the ball, you practice to get better.

Every time you go into, “Oh, my God. I’m afraid I’m going to gain back the weight,” I want you to catch yourself and drop into, “I’m here to live my life. And I’m here to stand by myself, no matter what I look like and what I weigh. I’m going to stand by myself no matter what I look like and what I weigh.”

Because you know something? We’re going to get old. We’re going to get wrinkly. We’re going to lose weight. We’re going to gain weight. We’re going to get sick. We’re going to get a disease. All that stuff happens. When your kids are going through their challenges and their hard times, you don’t abandon them. If anything you love them more through their challenges. Do that for you.

There’s a place where you had to abandon yourself to survive as a child. “I will now abandon myself. I’ll people please so you guys will love me so I don’t feel crushed by all the hate.” That was a brilliant strategy that got you through. And now you’re adults. And now we have to let go of that strategy because it don’t work anymore.

So this is about your relationship with you. Forget about everybody else. Forget about other people. And I really mean this.

You have to encounter the place where you abandon you and start to love yourself there just like you would love your kids. I know you’re the type of woman, you’re the type of mother, you don’t abandon your kids. You said to me, “It’s important for me to be with my kids.” You don’t abandon them. Thank you for being a great mother. Now put some of that energy towards you. Don’t abandon you.

Every time you say, “Oh, my God. I’m afraid of gaining back this weight,” you’re abandoning yourself. You’re putting yourself second. It’s like saying to your kid, “Wow, you scored a goal in the soccer game. I love you. If you don’t score a goal in the next soccer game, I don’t love you as much.” It’s kind of like saying that.

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: “Wow, you lost the weight!” It’s like scoring a goal. But if you gain it back, “Oh, oh, oh, oh. I’m going to hate on you.” That is so unfair. And that doesn’t further the action for you. And it’s you abandoning you. So this is about your relationship with you.

So you have to become your best friend, I think for the first time ever, around the weight thing. So ideally — I’m going to guess — in an ideal world, your best friends are going to love you no matter what weight you’re at. So when you lose the eighty pounds, they’re going to give you the biggest hug in the world. “We’re so supportive of you. Good for you. You’ve wanted this. We celebrate with you.” If you gain back five pounds, they’re not going to be down your throat like you would jump down your own throat. “We still love you! Who cares?” Like, really. Who cares? They still love you no matter what.

So you’ve been outer focused, as you needed to be from a survival standpoint because the world hates on weight. The world hates on body fat. It’s the most prejudiced against group of people just about in this world. So it’s not about you people pleasing. It’s about you learning to people please with yourself, which really means of self-love.

Other people don’t matter. They really don’t, as you’re seeing. They matter. But you matter first. That relationship with you matters first because when you’re loving on you, you will start to attract people, more friends, especially, who do the same.

And you’re realizing that to the outside world, again, this has been an interesting lesson for you. It doesn’t matter to the outside world. The lovers will love. The haters will hate. There’s people who, no matter what you weigh aren’t going to pay attention to you, or notice you, or care.

Michelle: True.

Marc: Right?

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: So your job is to…first of all, I would love for you to stop weighing yourself. You’re weighing yourself once a week. My challenge to you is to let go of the scale for the next three months. Don’t even weigh yourself. Let it go. Let it go. Okay?

Michelle: Okay.

Marc: I also want you to let go of losing seven more pounds or six more pounds or five more pounds because it’s a waste of your life energy. I’m telling you. It’s a waste of your life energy. It drains your life energy. If you care about your kids, you have less to give your children. You have less to give your husband. You have less to give to your own creative self and your own creative pursuits.

It’s time to say, “I am now going to live my life. I am not waiting any longer for the next five pounds, six pounds, seven pounds,” because you’ll lose the seven pounds. And then, “Wait a second. Maybe I could lose two more. Just two more!” You know?

Michelle: Yes.

Marc: We do this nonsense because the virus is that powerful.

You thought you would be smaller. And people think these amazingly crazy thoughts because we’re programmed by the media, by the images, by the advertising, by the false promises. And what you’re doing is you’re literally detoxing that stupid nonsense out of your head. That’s no different than cleaning up your diet and a detoxing heavy metals and poisons out of your body. We’re detoxing poisonous thoughts out of our mind and saying, “I’m not going to consume poison anymore.” You follow me?

Michelle: Yeah.

Marc: So you’re not going to be perfect. You will stray off your diet. You will maybe eat junk food every once in a while. Love yourself. No matter what you do, love yourself for it. “Okay, well, I ate the candy.” Love yourself. “I think I might have gained a pound.” Love yourself. It’s between you and you. It has nothing to do with other people anymore.

So what I’m asking you to do is take on this people pleasing thing head on. You’re taking it head on and go, “Whoa. This doesn’t work for me.” It’s not who you are. It is so not who you are it’s not even funny. It doesn’t mean you’re not a sweet lady. It doesn’t mean that you don’t do loving acts. Don’t confuse people pleasing for somebody who loves and somebody who’s kind and somebody uplifts other people. That’s definitely you for sure. But that doesn’t come coupled with people pleasing.

If you take away the people pleasing, you’re still a loving, kind, generous person who is a great friend and human being. And you’re also the kind of person that if somebody is messing with you and not being good to you, you’re going to say adios. Is that true?

Michelle: Now it is. Yeah, absolutely.

Marc: Yeah. Yeah. And I kind of think it’s always been. But she’s been pushed into the corner. And now she’s coming out. And my wish for you — and I really mean this — is that you give your self full reign to sometimes be a bitch if that’s what’s called for, to say no when that’s called for, to be willing to say things that will make other people uncomfortable if it’s going to be the kind of truth that you say that moves things forward and that is honest and coming from a place of authenticity and integrity.

I.e., “Hey, mom. I don’t like when you’re judging me like that. I’d like to stop right now.” Especially with your mother, you could do it in a playful but clear way. And I have a feeling she’ll play with you there because if you described her as being a little competitive, then there’s a part of her that’s going to maybe want to engage there a little bit. I’m not sure. But either way it’s going to work for you. Make it work for you.

Michelle: It’s not about her changing. It’s about working with me.

Marc: Yeah. It’s all about you being a little more selfish. It’s kind of okay for you to be selfish in this part of your life right now because you’ve been doing the opposite for so long that there’s going to be things that you don’t want to do for other people right now that maybe you used to. There’s going to be ways that you used to be with certain people that is kind of tiring. You don’t want to go there.

You might lose a lot more friends. I don’t know. You might gain a lot more friends. I don’t know. But my wish for you is that you really be true to yourself and know that you have a core of love in your life — your family. And even if you had to go down to zero in terms of friends, that’s fine.

Michelle: Okay. Yeah.

Marc: How has all this been landing for you?

Michelle: Oh, my gosh. Lots of a-has. It’s not about the food. It totally makes sense. And you’re very right because I have felt like I’ve been catching up in some way. It’s like my body’s changed. But I was trying to catch up in some way because it was a weird feeling. It was a weird, weird feeling. So you’ve put it into words. And it totally makes sense. Yeah.

Marc: Yeah. So your inner world is trying to catch up with this new body. And all that wants to happen is for you to be you.

And you’re shedding the people pleasing girl persona. And we’re seeing who’s there. And we’re acknowledging that whoever is there is there. Whatever comes out of you comes out. And to be prepared to be that person who’s not the nice girl and who’s not the people pleaser.

And I’m telling you it’s a hundred percent fine. And it’s where you’re going to find more and more of your power. And when you find that power, you’re going to stop worrying about gaining back a pound or two. The worry about gaining back the weight is the people pleaser in you still raising her hand going, “Wait. Oh, my God. If I gain back the weight, you’re not going to love me anymore because I’ve been spending all this time people pleasing.”

So let go of the scale and start to live your life because there’s no more changes you need to make to be you. I really mean that. And live life as if that’s true. Pretend. Act it out. So you will have moments where you’re going to want to people please. You will have moments where you’re going to worry about what you weigh. You will have moments where, “Agh, I really want to weigh myself. I’m not going to listen to that guy. He’s such a jerk,” whatever it is. It’s fine.

We take steps backwards. We’re never perfect in this kind of thing. That happens. You forgive yourself. You love yourself the same way you love your kids when they goof up when they’re not perfect. That’s the kind of love that’s wanting to happen in your system is you loving you. Forget about the other people.

Michelle: Okay.

Marc: Yeah. Big work assignment, huh?

Michelle: Huge, yeah. Huge. Yeah! I can do it. But I’ll…yeah.

Marc: You can do it. And you’re not going to do it perfect at once. But you have all the tools you need to just do it in a very slow and deliberate and methodical way. And this is you self-transforming. This is you self-evolving. This is you saying, “I’m going to grow in this new direction and better myself as a person, better myself as a woman, better myself as a spiritual being, as an evolving being, as a conscious being,” however you want to phrase it or language it. This is you self-evolving. And what a beautiful thing!

Michelle: Yeah. Yeah, thank you so much. Thank you so much.

Marc: You are so welcome. I’m thrilled for you. I really am. You’ve got a lot of good things going for you right now.

Michelle: Thanks. Thanks.

Marc: So we’ll reconvene in several months and do a check in. In a couple of days I’ll send you some of my notes from the session just to help tweak your memory in case you forget.

And thank you so much for being so willing and so generous. And I feel that so much of what you’ve really honestly shared about your inner world your and your experience is what so many of us go through. And I think when we’re able to share that and just kind of put it out there on the table, it’s going to help a lot of people. So thank you.

Michelle: I hope so. Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it.

Marc: Thanks, Michelle.

Michelle: Thanks!

Marc: And thank you, everybody, for tuning in. So much more to come for the Psychology of Eating Podcast. Take care.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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About The Author
Marc David

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