The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 39: Are You Challenged By Poor "Belly Image"?

Amy is a bright, motivated professional who has a great life, a wonderful career, and a beautiful family. Her challenge is a poor “belly image” – she simply doesn’t like her midsection, and the fat that naturally occupies it. She feels good about the rest of her body, but her stomach fat feels completely unacceptable to her and it silently bothers to the point where it impacts her self-esteem and confidence. Amy knows she should change this way of thinking, but can’t figure out how. Tune in to this unique podcast episode as Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating helps Amy with an unexpected strategy for success that has her inspired to move forward like never before.

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. And I’m here today with Amy. Welcome, Amy!
Amy: Thanks, Marc!

Marc: So I’m going to check in with viewers and listeners for a moment and give everybody a sense of why we’re here, what we’re doing, and what we’re up to. So for the next hour or so, Amy and I are going to do a session together. And in this session, we’re going to cover whatever concerns she wants to dive into. And the idea is we’re going to come out with maybe a breakthrough, maybe a path, an understanding, something new, something to help move things forward.

And the idea is also to take what might normally be four to six months of work, if not more, and somehow distill it into one session. So were going to go for it as best we can. And, Amy, I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions. They might seem like they’re circular or all over the place. But there’s always a logic behind it. And really my first question for you is if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this session, what would that look like for you?

Amy: I think I just want to really fully embrace my belly. I’ve been having some challenges with my belly image. And I think overall I have a good body, a really good body. But for some reason I keep focusing on this one area. And if this is my body—well, not if this is; it is my body right now—and I just want to fully embrace it and love it and not obsess about it and think about it all the time as I am right now.

Marc: That’s super clear. And I love the term “belly image” because for so many people, their body image is centered right in that place. It’s kind of mind boggling really how important the belly end of the stomach and the six-pack abs have become. How long have you had this concern?

Amy: I think it goes off and on. I definitely notice it intensified in the last six months. And I have had two kids in the last five years. So obviously I’ve seen my body change and my belly change in that time. So as of late, it probably in the last six months, I’ve definitely focused on it more and have been thinking about it a lot more.

Marc: So why do you think in the last six months? What’s different?

Amy: Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, knowing that our session was going to come. And I know back in the summer, definitely around August, I really got quite fatigued. My baby at the time was a year and a half. And I honestly hadn’t slept through the night to that point and was up four times a night. And so I just got really exhausted.

And also at the same time, my work really started to go down. My practice was really getting quiet. So that was much of a concern. My cardio wasn’t as up. And I just was feeling generally probably blah, fatigued, but down in the dumps. So my sense is that that probably was tied into that.

And I say that probably because in this past month, things have been feeling better. And I noticed that although I’m still focused on my belly, it’s not the same degree that it was in that last phase of those six months. So I think I made a bit of an association recently about that.

Marc: Have you noticed in this last six months and even in general, when are the best times for you when you might not be disliking your belly? When you’re just okay, you’re not even thinking about it, you’re not even noticing it, life is good. When do you feel best about it?

Amy: I think honestly when I’m feeling fulfilled in my work. I really feel like, yeah, when I’m seeing my clients, when I’m doing what I love. Even in my workouts, which I really love. I feel really empowered. And I’m looking and I feel like, “Oh, I look really good.” You know? So I think the days that I’m feeling just good energy, good sleep, and that I’m seeing my clients, work is good, and I’m feeling like I’m not focused on it as much.

Marc: How does your husband feel about your belly?

Amy: He often says that he doesn’t notice a difference. But he knows that it bothers me. But he did make a point. We were actually just away a few weeks ago in Mexico. So we were wearing bathing suits a lot, and bikinis. And he just noticed, he said, “You know, I think it might be your posture because the way you’re standing,” because sometimes if you’re standing really straight, you have a flat belly.

But he said, “It’s those times where your belly is protruding out.” And he thinks it’s more of my posture and my shape, which I agree. Because he always says, “You have good definition. You look good. You work out. You eat well.” So he’s not upset by it at any means. But he always likes to help troubleshoot with me because he knows that it is a concern for me.

Marc: Tell me how old your kids are again.

Amy: Lily is almost five. And Solly is almost two.

Marc: So a girl and a boy?

Amy: A girl and a boy. Yes.

Marc: Okay. So how is Lily’s relationship with her body so far?

Amy: Beautiful. And we try to keep it really healthy. She’s an active young girl. We never talk about skinny, fat, anything like that in our family. We don’t use those words. So, yeah. I think she’s just a happy young girl who loves gymnastics and being ballerina. So she seems content in her body.

Marc: And are you close with your parents?

Amy: Yes. Yeah.

Marc: How is your mom’s relationship with her body?

Amy: Probably not great. If I’m making assumptions, I assume it’s not. She’s quite overweight. She’s always been a yo-yo dieter. I don’t think she diets anymore. But all through growing up, she very much was. So I think that she knows that she’s definitely carrying a lot of extra weight. She’s never come out and said, “I’m not happy in my body.” But that would be my assumption.

Marc: Now, if you had the best belly image that you could possibly have and if you got there, what would that look like for you? How would your life be different? Who would you be? How would you be different?

Amy: See, I don’t think I would be any different. I think I would do the same. I think my thoughts would just not be consumed about it, maybe a bit freer around that. The word that just came to my mind is maybe slightly more confident. But I don’t necessarily see it changing that much.

I don’t even necessarily have a specific image of what it would look like. I don’t think it needs to be five pounds thinner, you know what I’m saying? So I don’t know if I’ve answered that properly. But I don’t know that I would be much different. But my thoughts might be freer, clear of that, which I guess would make me happier. Yeah.

Marc: So you’d be happier? That’s kind of the answer that I’m getting from you from my question. You wouldn’t be thinking these thoughts that bug you.

Amy: Yeah. Yeah, I think happier. Also just more evolved, like one step further on my journey, on my wellness journey, on my journey with myself, which would probably make me feel like I’m growing, like, “Okay, I’ve chiseled that piece away now. Let’s work on the next challenge.”

Marc: Sure, sure, sure. So how do you think this thing with you in your belly, how might it hold you back?

Amy: I don’t know that it is holding me back. I don’t think it is. I don’t think I would do anything differently if I looked different. I don’t think I would be going to the gym still sporting just a sports bra. Do you know what I mean? I would still cover my body. And I don’t wear really tight fitting clothes. That’s not who I am. So even if my belly was super flat, I don’t I would go out and buy like a skintight outfit anyway. That’s not what’s comfortable for me.

So I don’t know. I don’t know that it would change how I live my life. Like I said, it would just be that little matter that would be cleared, that would be gone, which would maybe free my thoughts up for more meaningful and important things, I suppose.

Marc: Sure, sure. So if not liking your belly had an advantage, if there was some benefit to that, what would that be? And we’re just playing here.

Amy: Yeah. You know what, I think that keeps me on my pursuit to eating well, to try different workouts, to doing more self-discovery like I am today with you. So I think it just keeps me focused on my high value of being well and on being healthy. So I think it just helps me to keep my diet really optimal.

And, like I said, if I notice that my belly is feeling softer than normal, then typically got the sign for me, “Okay, I should probably boost up my cardio little bit more. Or maybe I need to change my workouts because I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time.” So it just sometimes keeps me on the path of wellness. I would say that would be an advantage.

Marc: Got it. How is your digestion?

Amy: I believe it’s good. I have regular bowel movements. It got a little messy when we were in Mexico. But it’s worked itself out. I take probiotics. I do enzymes every once in a while if I need them. But I feel like it’s okay.

In saying that, though, I feel like I haven’t done a very good cleanse in a long, long time because either I was pregnant or nursing. So I feel like this spring I’m kind of excited to clear some toxicity if that’s there and maybe work on that. But overall it’s good. I have no issues with constipation or diarrhea or anything like that, to be quite open with everybody! [Laughs]

Marc: That’s great. What does your belly represent to you?

Amy: The first word that popped into my mind was “life.” It does represent feminine. It represents fertility, the ability to have a baby. It does also represent motherhood. Sometimes when my son, if he’s sleeping and he wants to sleep on my belly, it’s soft. And it’s cushiony. So I think there’s some sort of loveliness about that in a sense.

And also I love food. So it represents to me that I don’t restrict and that I do enjoy eating. So, yeah. There’s the love of that, as well. So I would say those things. Which, then, when I say all of those, it makes me upset that I would care so much that it’s not perfect, whatever perfect is.

Marc: Where do you think that came from? Where do you think the idea that this thing has to be perfect in your life?

Amy: I don’t know. I think probably working out regularly and seeing people’s bodies all the time. I see women who have really flat bellies. And that’s like, “Wow, how did they get that?” So I think that’s for me where it comes from because I do love to work out. And I’ve always been in the gym. Or I’ve always been active. So I see it a lot. And I look at it a lot. I think it’s just that image that stands out to me that I’m like, “Oh.”

And, again, when I’m saying that, I’m thinking, “Oh, but we’re all different. And everybody has different body types. So I shouldn’t expect mine to look different than it is.” But again that’s all in my mind. It’s all logical. But I don’t necessarily fully put that in my heart and embrace it.

Marc: Are there places where you love your body, where you’re like, “Wow, this is great. I really like us.”

Amy: Yeah, pretty much everywhere else. Everywhere else I feel like my arms have good tone, my legs, my butt. Everywhere else, I’m quite content with. And even looking at the pictures back from our recent trip, I like, “I look pretty good. What am I complaining about? I don’t know what I’m worried about so much. Why think about it so much?”

So I am quite content. And in fact I found a class that has helped to tone. I’m doing ballet barre right now. I love it. And it’s totally changed my body. And it’s different than it’s ever been. So I’m happy with so many areas. But again I can’t seem to fully shift that belly area. So that’s the challenge.

Marc: Uh-huh. What do you think would happen if you gain five pounds and it just came onto your belly, no place else? What do you think would be the result? How would you feel? Where would you go inside yourself?

Amy: Yeah, I’d probably not be comfortable. I’d probably freak out a little bit, which I think is what happened somewhere within the summer to fall. I noticed that I had gained five pounds. And my clothes wouldn’t feel comfortable. It just wouldn’t feel comfortable on me to feel the rolls over my jeans or something. It’s not comfortable. It’s uncomfortable. Yeah.

Marc: Are you’ve done having kids?

Amy: Definitely. [Laughs] Completely.

Marc: [Laughs] Can I asked how old you are?

Amy: Thirty-eight.

Marc: Thirty-eight. And how was your body image when you work like fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old.

Amy: I never remember thinking about it or being really concerned about it at all. I was always quite fit. I know I was always a medium, active body type. So at that time, it’s didn’t bother me.

The only thing I really remember at that time—and this probably has to do with my posture today—is I developed breasts a lot earlier. And I was always bigger than my friends. So I often hid that. So I would round my shoulders kind of protect that. But beyond that I never worried about my weight. We were always active in school and outside of school. So it was not an issue.

Marc: When you’re not worried about it…Well, let me say this. Do you have specific ways that you talk to yourself about your belly? Do you have specific language that you use in your head? Are there specific ways that you criticize it like, “Oh, you’re too flabby,” or, “Wow, that’s just too much body fat.” What words do you use?

Amy: It’s more just when I look, I would say… I don’t even know what I’m saying. Yeah, “Why isn’t it flat?” And then I question because I had C-sections and it’s the way that my belly is pulled. It’s more questions. “What am I doing wrong? Am I not eating properly?” which I don’t think is the case. “Am I’m not doing enough of this or that?”

So it’s more like self-talk to myself, not necessarily to the belly. But it’s just more I look or I feel. I would say I don’t like it. But I don’t think I’m having a dialogue about hating on it necessarily. Not sure if I’m answering that properly.

Marc: So you’re kind of asking, “Why isn’t it flat? What am I doing wrong?”

Amy: Yeah.

Marc: Okay. So I’ve gotten a surprisingly wonderful amount of information in a short amount of time here from you. So I want to kind of put things together and share some of my thoughts and my ideas of what’s happening. And we’ll sort of dialogue about that.

On the one hand, I think you’re a little caught between some choices that you haven’t quite chosen either one. There’s almost two choices before you: “Do I get chocolate ice cream? Or do I have vanilla?” And you’re not exactly choosing either one. And consequently, there’s a little bit of back and forth.

What I mean is the last question I asked you is, “Exactly how are you talking to yourself?” and your response was, “Well, why isn’t this flat? What am I doing wrong?” That tells me that there’s a goal there, which is fine. There’s a goal. It’s kind of like asking, “How come my biceps aren’t getting bigger if I’m doing all this stuff to make biceps bigger? How come I’m not making more money if I’m putting all this effort into making more money?” So these are fine questions, nothing wrong with it.

So to me there’s the part of you that once the goal of a flat belly. And there’s the part of you that’s doesn’t want to care so much about that goal. And those two parts haven’t found peace with each other yet.

Amy: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Marc: So you bounce back and forth between the two. And it has you playing ping-pong with yourself. And it’s kind of like if we could look at you at one side of the table, there you are. You hit the ball. And then you run to the other side of the table. You hit the ball back. And it’s a lot of running back and forth, meaning, “Okay, I know I’m supposed to love this belly. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It’s given birth. This is my feminine power. This is my creativity. This is my softness. This is where everything happens.” And on the other hand, “I want this thing to be flat and strong and hard. And why isn’t it there yet?”

So it’s almost like there’s two different people with two different goals inside your head. And you bounce back and forth. And in any given moment in this conversation, I can kind of here that sort of uncertainty going on. So what I want to suggest is that there’s a certain level for you, where this is kind of what you do. This is one of your things, meaning, “I have this or I have that. And I’m either going for this or going for that.” So it’s either this or that.

And it’s just a way that the mind works. We love choices. “Should I get married or should I be single? Should I have one baby or two babies? Should we live here or live there?” So we’re always faced with choices. And at the same time, sometimes we could present ourselves with choices and not ever fully grab onto one and just go back and forth. And then it becomes a habit of indecision. And that habit of indecision can drain energy.

And even when I asked you, “What would be the benefit of having the exact body that you want?” it was hard for you to answer that question. You kind of said, “Well, there would be less thinking about it. So maybe I’d be happier.” But even that was hard for you to feel what would be different. And I’m going to suggest to you the reason why is because those two parts of you are so clear in their positions that it’s almost like you can’t tell why you’re in this dialogue. You don’t know what it’s going to to look like because neither position strong.

Like the position, “I want a flat belly,” isn’t a strong position. You kind of want it. But you’re kind and willing to let it go, but not really. You know you like it. But you also know one another level, “It’s really not that important. Don’t waste your time and energy.”

So it’s sort of like if you were single and you’re dating two guys and you can’t decide which one to marry. And they both have great qualities. And each one has their advantages and disadvantages. And you continue to date both of them. So you’re dating both. And they both have their advantages. But you choose neither. You know what I’m saying?

Amy: Yeah.

Marc: So that’s what this feels like. It’s honestly what it feels like. There’s so many other places to potentially go. And everybody’s different. There’s plenty of people out in this universe who are disliking or even hating on their belly, hating on their stomach, hating on some other body part, not satisfied with it and getting sucked into that drama.

And we all have our different flavors in how we do that and why we do that. And the human mind often sets up these dilemmas for itself. We set up dilemmas. And sometimes it’s useful. The dilemma might be, “Before I moved to Colorado, I was living in Western Massachusetts. And I was either going to move to Colorado or California. So I set up this choice. And I had a ping-pong back and forth in my mind to try it on and play it on. And eventually I make a decision.”

I could have also easily stayed put and ended up trying to go back and forth between those two choices for years and years and years. And then it becomes an energy drain. And it becomes a waste of time. So my feeling for you is, I hear you saying, “I don’t want this anymore.” This is uncomfortable. Something is telling you this is a work for you. And I’m agreeing with you. It doesn’t work for you.

But what I’m saying what doesn’t work is that you haven’t chosen a side. In my ideal universe for you, I would rather you say to me one or two of the following: “Marc, let me just own this right now. I watched the flat belly. And I’m going to commit myself to doing everything I possibly can to get there. I’m talking diet, exercise, posture work, chiropractic, really work on my posture, and really do what I need to do to keep going in that direction because that’s what I want. I want to wake up one day and go, ‘Yeah, I really like this! This is exactly what I wanted.’” I either would love for you to do that, or I’d kind of like for you to just let it go.

Amy: That’s what I want.

Marc: Yeah.

Amy: Yeah.

Marc: So letting it go, I want to make up for a moment here, postulate, dream about what letting it go could look like for you. I’m just going to put my words around it. So letting this go means you saying, “Hey, it’s cool to want a flat belly. That’s kind of interesting. It’s kind of nice. It’s an interesting goal. Lots of people do it. And I’m going to let that go. And when I watch myself comparing myself to other people or other women when I go to the gym and I’ve noticed that, I’m going to admire their bellies and go, ‘Wow. Good for you,’ just like I go somewhere and I’m hanging around a bunch of people who are billionaires, I’m going to admire how wealthy they are. But I’m not going to sit around thinking, ‘Oh, my God. How do I become a billionaire?’ And put all my energy into that.” It’s probably not your destiny at this point.

So letting it go looks very clearly like embracing your belly no matter where it wants to go and not trying to drive it somewhere. It doesn’t mean you don’t continue to exercise. But you let go of the kind of exercise with your belly that is deliberately trying to sculpt it to a goal. It doesn’t mean you can’t do belly exercises. But you’re going to have to really make the choice to get out of your head because when you talk about this, you’re up here trying to figure it out. You are really here. And I want you to get here. I want you to get into your belly and into your body as opposed to into your head about your body and into your head about your belly.

So to me a beautiful goal, if you are letting go of having a flat belly, would be to get into your body and stop looking at it so much from the outside. It doesn’t mean you don’t look at it from the outside. I look at myself in the mirror all the time. But I’m also focused on, “What does it mean to be in my body?”

And usually you know you’re in your body when you’re not going, “Yak, yak, yak, yak, yak” in your head because we can do a lot of yak, yak in the head about, “The body looks like this. It doesn’t look like that.” And even while we’re exercising, we’re like, “Wow, am I getting stronger? Am I doing this?” And we’re looking. And a lot of people exercise, but they’re not really present with their body. They’re not in it.

So letting it go as a choice. You said, “Yeah, okay. That’s what I want to do.” So I’m going to call this for you a really, really, really big girl choice. Because there’s a little girl and you. Like what I’m talking to you about this topic of your belly, I kind of feel like I’m talking to almost a really smart, energetic twenty-one-year-old girl, who is like, “I want to look nice. I want to be hot. I want to look a certain way,” which is totally great.

And you’re also at a stage in life where you’re raising kids. You’re focused on your work. You’re focused on your relationship. Yeah, you take good care of yourself. There ain’t no doubt about that. And this thing takes a certain amount of energy that I don’t know that it deserves in your life.

I especially want to say for you and for anyone else that has this case, for you as a mother, every way that you are with your body, your daughter is going to sniff it out and figure it out consciously or unconsciously. Children model after their parents. Children will model after their same-sex parents, particularly around their body. You can tell a lot about a boy’s relationship with his body if you look at his dad’s relationship with his body. Same for a girl.

So if for nothing else you do it for the future generation so you’re able to let go of the nonsense in the head that has us disliking self and has us judging self, if you could do that work for you, you’ve saved her a lot of energy. You’ve saved her a lot of headache because they will figure it out at some point. They will pick it up even if you never say anything.

And great that you’re not throwing it in her face and talking about it. That’s ideal. In an ideal universe, we really are aware of our language around kids. So good for you for doing that. And I really feel like for you, you’ve accurately assessed that this is really like a tweak for you. What we’re talking about is not some big thing. It’s anywhere from a small to a moderate thing for you.

Sometimes this thinking is a little worse for you. You mentioned, “Hey, the last number of months, it really accelerated.” And I asked you what was different. And you just said there was a little more stress essentially. And you weren’t feeling so good. And oftentimes when there’s more stress, more anxiety, not feeling so good in life, that’s going to translate to the body.

We will look as good as we feel in general. If you feel good, you’re going to look in the mirror and go, “I look good.” If you are feeling yuck on that day, you’ll look in the mirror and you won’t like yourself. So really a lot of this is tied into, yeah, and all of a sudden if business is great in your professional life is great, you’re going to look in the mirror and you go, “This is great!”

Amy: Yeah, you see it differently, right?

Marc: So it’s knowing that. It’s knowing that feature of the mind. So what we have to do here, what you have to do here, what I think we all have to do here is we’re getting smarter. So really this conversation is all about self-evolution. This is all about us dialoguing with each other and you saying, “Hey, I want to get better here. I don’t want this to hold me back. I want to be my fullest self. I want to be able to look back at this and go, ‘Great! Handled that one! What’s next?’”

Beautiful. That’s wonderful. So this is about self-evolution. So what we’re exploring is, “Okay, what is the evolution that needs to happen so that this challenge unwinds and the sort of dies a natural death?” It’s not something you need to attack. It’s not something you need to kill. It’s not something you need to therapize about. There’s nothing wrong with you.

It’s all about evolution. It’s all about the challenge of body image exists independent of me and you. So you didn’t invent this issue. It exists out there with a lot of people. So we’re trying to evolve into human beings who are secure in themselves, who are empowered, who are living the life they’re meant to live and whose minds aren’t attacking themselves like an autoimmune disease.

When our minds attack us, in a weird way that’s no different than people outside of you attacking you with their thoughts for their words or their deeds or their actions. So it’s kind of a silly thing that humans do when we self- attack. There’s absolutely no usefulness to it really. So we’re learning how to evolve that.

And I’m saying for you, the evolutionary piece, the transformation that wants to happen that’s going to make you a better person is not changing your belly. That’s not what’s going to make you the better person here. I think you know that. Nor is it trying to fight this thing. “Well, I’m going to fight wanting to change my belly.” It’s not even that either. “I’m going to figure out what’s wrong with me that I was to have flat abs.”

No. There’s nothing wrong with you. We adopt that from the environment. That’s easy to figure out. There’s a lot of social pressure. There’s a lot of media pressure. And it’s very unconscious. And gets under the airwaves into our brain and into our being. So that’s what’s happening. And it’s simply a choice. That’s the evolution that wants to happen as you make your big girl decision and say, “Okay, I am now choosing to let this go.”

And it’s a very deliberate and conscious choice. It you doesn’t mean that now it happens overnight. You’re still going to do a little work. But it’s no different than I’m guessing when you had a baby, your first child, there was a deliberate choice in there somewhere. There was some conversation. And there was a moment where somewhere in your head, “I’m having a baby.” Yeah, now there’s things to do after that. There’s things to figure out. “Where are we living? What are we doing? Which room? When do we start? How many are we having?” So there’s a lot of dialogue from there. But there was a choice that was a big girl choice to have a baby. If you didn’t make the choice, chances are you wouldn’t have children at this point.

So this is a choice that once you make it firmly from that adult place inside you, from that adult woman place inside you, once you make that choice, how that choice rolls out will start to become more evident to you. And it’ll show up in little ways like when you catch yourself comparing, you’ll literally catch yourself. And you’ll let it go.

And when you catch yourself, “Oh, I want that!” then you might pause for a moment and think, “Okay, so what do I have to do?” Oh, right. I have to exercise a lot more. I have to put a lot of energy and effort into this. Is that really where I want to put my life force at this stage of where I met in the world?”

So you have to always come back to your decision because unless you draw a line in the sand and make a choice here, you will continue to feel wobbly. You will continue to say to yourself, “Well, I’m trying to do this. But I can’t do this. And now it’s getting better. But now it’s getting worse.” It’s going to always waffle back and forth because your choice is waffling. Your choice hasn’t been made.

How is this landing for you so far?

Amy: It’s landed! I know I want door number two. I definitely want to let it go and fully embrace because it’s true. I’m not willing to start doing spin classes five days a week and restrict my diet entirely so that I can, what? Slim up a couple more pounds or whatever? That’s not what I want. That’s not who I am or where I am right now. I do. I want to just fully embrace and just move on. Let’s just get on with it. So I think you’re right. It’s just making that clear choice and stop playing on both sides of the field and just go. Yeah. Move with it. So, yeah, letting that go would be nice.

Marc: It’s a maturing choice. It’s a way that we grow in character by making choices that clearly need to be made.

A woman friend of mine was recently kind of complaining. She’s dating a guy. They have a serious relationship. They love each other. And he’s been a bachelor of long time. And every road points to them settling down, getting married, and making it happen. And there’s this place where he doesn’t want to let go of—even though he’s forty—there’s a place where he doesn’t want to let go of being that partying I-can-do-whatever-I-want-whenever-I-want young man.

And we all kind of joke about it because it’s so clear and obvious to all of us. It’s like grow up already. You’re not that guy anymore. Make that choice because if you don’t make that choice, you’re going to stay stuck in an age group that isn’t quite where you need to be. It’s stuck in a consciousness where you don’t quite need to be. And we have to let things go.

In a lot of ways, you’re letting go of instant gratification. “I want what I want when I want it. I want a flat belly. I want perfect this. I want perfect that. I want.” And then, “Oh, what do I have to do to get that? Oh, wait a second. That takes a lot of work. I’m not willing to do that,” which makes sense. But there’s this part of us that wishes we could push the button and have it. And we feel we’re going to get a benefit from it. And we can’t really get it instantly.

But there’s a part of us this kind of so hoping it’s going to magically still come. There’s a part of you that’s hoping that, “Oh, this is still going to happen somehow.” And it doesn’t happen exactly the way you want it because you’re being faced with this place where you have to kind of say goodbye in a lot of ways. But it’s not just saying goodbye to a flat stomach. It’s saying goodbye to almost like a younger part of us. That would be more of a function of being in your twenties.

I’m saying for you. It doesn’t mean there’s not people out there in the thirties and forties and fifties who aren’t working hard to sculpt their body. If that’s what you want to do, go for it. Do it. But for you and your purposes here and what you’re saying, this really isn’t where your energy wants to go. And I’m getting that about you. It’s not you.

And I don’t really know. Again, when I asked you the benefit, there was no like, “Yeah! This is this great benefit that’s so huge that I’ve just got to do it!” You can’t even motivate yourself with this awesome benefit because there’s a part of your brain actually understands the benefit ain’t gonna be that great for you. It’s not going to be that great.

Your life is going to pretty much stay the same except every once in a while going to look in the mirror and you’re going to go, “Ooh. Wow. That’s really cool.” And then you’re going to put your shirt down and go drive the kids to school. You know? [Laughs]

Amy: That’s right. [Laughs] Yeah, it’s really not that important, is it?

Marc: No, it’s not! It’s so not.

Amy: As you were talking about evolving and letting go of that younger part of me, the thing that came to mind for me to was even my clothes, I haven’t really invested in a new wardrobe really since after my first daughter stopped nursing. So it’s been a long time since I’ve even bought a new pair of jeans that wasn’t maternity or whatever. So I am still trying to fit back into what I used to have. And that’s not helping the situation either.

So I know that I need to put some money into just buying some new clothes. But because I hadn’t been so busy with my work in the last few years, whatever money is there goes to the kids or whatever they need. But I know that I need to evolve my wardrobe, as well, with this decision that I’m making too just to help you feel good with the body that I do now, and not try to fit back into the genes they used to have. And not because I want those jeans. It’s just because I haven’t gone out to buy new ones. So I think that will help me, too.

Marc: I totally agree. That’s a great idea. You might also consider—if this works for you, if this is something that appeals to you—to create a very short contract. It could just be a paragraph. It could be longer than a paragraph. It could be a few sentences, whatever it is. Create a document that’s kind of like a contract with yourself where you’re choosing, making the choice very clearly, and contracting with yourself to let this go. And sign it. And formalize the decision so you make it clear.

I want you to read it to your husband or speak it to your husband to tell your husband, “Hey, here’s what happened from this experience,” just so you can start to speak into the world, “Here’s where I’m at. Here’s what happening. Here’s what I’m clear about now.” Again, once you make that choice to let go of the goal of a flat belly, you still might find yourself looking, wanting it, reverting back.

That’s fine. That’s expected, which is no different then if you want to learn how to play tennis. You don’t know how to play tennis right now if you played before. But you know there’s certain things you’re going to do to learn it if you choose and commit to learning it. “I will get tennis lessons. I will practice three times a week.”

And there’s going to be times when you swing and miss and you look really silly out on the tennis court. And you might choose that, “Wow, even when I look back and I can’t really play very well because I’m a beginner, I’m still going to love myself and not say, ‘Oh, you are so terrible. You’re so bad. I can’t believe you. I’m going to give up tennis because I’m not good at it.’” Well, nobody’s good at it until you get good at it.

So all I’m saying is the same with this choice, just because you make the choice doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. But you’ll live into that choice. And life will show you the little ways that you can make that choice come into being. And part of those little ways are going to be catching yourself, monitoring your awareness, monitoring your thoughts and watching yourself when you go into comparison, when you go into hungering after that goal. When you start to get attached, go, “Oh, there’s me getting attached.”

Deep breath. Put my hands on my belly. And here’s where we are. This is what I’ve got. This is what I’m always going to have. It’s going to change anyway. Anybody with any belly is going to change throughout the course of their life. It’s never going to stay the same. Few people die of old age with six-pack abs. And chances are if they did, they don’t care anyway. And you can’t take it with you.

So it’s you making a solid choice. And I think within that choice, really what you’re doing is you’re choosing to step more into your authority, more into your dignity, more into your womanhood, more into your queenhood, more into being an empowered woman as opposed to a girl who gets lots of accolades for having a hot little body.

Amy: Right.

Marc: We get stuck a lot of times. Men and women, we want to be what we were. And we don’t stay appropriate to the stage of evolution that we’re naturally at. The stage of evolution that you’re naturally at is you’re stepping into more and more and more your power as a woman. Anything that is not you as a powerful woman will naturally come up for observation and discrimination and discussion and renewal.

So I’m saying that on your journey, this is a place where, “Huh. Is this empowering me and elevating me and evolving me as a woman? Or is this holding me back?” It holds you back.

Amy: Yeah.

Marc: Don’t be a woman in her forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, or even eighties who is still dieting, still hating on her body, still trying to change it, still feeling ashamed about it. That’s honestly a waste of a life. It drains our life energy. And it doesn’t allow us to be what our potential is, which is far more grand than, “Oh, my God. I wish I could sculpt this just a little bit more.” It’s a pursuit that doesn’t really deliver the kind of benefits we think it will.

Amy: Yeah.

Marc: So what else for you? Any other thoughts about all this or insights that you’re having right now?

Amy: I think it’s exactly what I needed to hear, just make the choice and go with it. I think that’s really what I needed to hear, very helpful. And, yeah, I know. Listen, I love my family. I love my kids. I love my work. I love what I do. And I love my body, 99.9 percent of it. Now I want to do a hundred percent.

Marc: Great!

Amy: So let’s just go with it. And let go of the rest that’s not serving because, yeah, it’s certainly not empowering me in any way. It’s weakening me. It’s training me. And it’s not allowing me to step into who I fully am. And this is me. This is me right now. So I want to love it and go with it and ride on that. So, yeah. I’m in!

Marc: Good for you. Good for you. And it’s really that straightforward for you. It’s really that simple in concept.

I also want to say in this last fifteen, twenty minutes, just watching you, it feels like you dropped more into your body. Initially in the conversation as I was kind of exploring with you like, “Okay, what’s the details? What’s happening?” asking questions, the battle was happening here. “I want the flat belly. I don’t want it.” You were here. Now it’s just feels like you’ve dropped in with yourself a lot more. Can you feel that?

Amy: Yeah, I feel that, too. And I feel my heart for sure. It’s warmed and just happier. It’s just good. Yeah, this has shut up a little bit, which is kind of good.

Talking to you in the way that you were saying, just the other part, the flat belly it’s doesn’t even matter. And I don’t even have an idea of what that would look like on me. I don’t even really care now that I’m talking to you about it. It doesn’t matter. And like I said I’m not going to do what it takes to go and get that. It’s not where I’m at in my life. I’m here. So, yeah, I’m just going to love this little love pouch here, if I could call it that! [Laughs]

Marc: Yeah, good for you.

Amy: But, yeah, I think when you set I’m stepping more into my womanhood, that very much resonates. And as a mother, that very much speaks loud to me because I want to exemplify that for my daughter and just to fully embrace your body and love it and be kind to it. Yeah.

Marc: Well, good for you. You’ve done a powerful piece of work. And for those of you who are tuning in, listening in, watching, everybody has a different path or different journey when it comes to food and body and health. And hopefully you can maybe take away something for you personally around the goals that you set and where we place our sense of selfhood, where we place our sense of value.

It’s great to work on the body, great to make it what you want to make it. And it’s also important to be able to step back and see, “What’s driving me? What’s motivating me? What really works? What’s doesn’t work? And how can I truly step into my power, independent of anything else? Just with me right now, looking like I do right now?” There’s where a lot of the gold is and the action is. And this is going to be easier than you think for you, Amy. That’s my opinion. So great job!

Amy: Yeah, I think you’re right. Thank you so much, Marc. Thank you.

Marc: Thank you! Thanks for being so willing to share in a so willing to be open. Thank you, everybody, for tuning in. I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast. Lots more to come, my friends. 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.