The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 7: Extra Weight – A Hidden Emotional Cause
Weight loss often runs deeper than we think. Sometimes, carrying extra weight is connected to our need to feel strong, grounded and protected. And before we can ever lose that weight, we need to first find another way to feel safe. Tune in to this breakthrough session as Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating helps Kathryn discover that the road to weight loss is easier than she could have imagined, and watch as she “lightens up” in just one session.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Eating Psychology Podcast with Kathryn Price
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m here today with Kathryn. Welcome, Kathryn!
Kathryn: Hello! Thank you.
Marc: Yay. I’m glad you’re here.
Kathryn: Thank you. I am, too.
Marc: So let me take a minute and share with viewers and listeners why we’re here and what we’re doing. So Kathryn and I are going to have a session together. And this whole show will last about an hour, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. And I’m going to ask Kathryn maybe fifteen or twenty minutes worth of questions, get a sense of what she’s looking for, where she wants to go.
And from there were going to see if we can take about six months to a year’s worth of coaching and cram it into one session. Why not? So this is an unusual circumstance where we’re kind of pushing the pedal to the metal. And we’re going to go as best as I can for whatever I think that target is that’s going to help you, Kathryn, get where you want to go.
So with that in mind, if you could just wave your magic wand, get whatever you want to get out of this session, what would that look like?
Kathryn: What would that look like? Well, as a student, first and foremost, learning, of course. Secondly, just getting a grip on my own health. I’ve been trying to focus more on that. So getting the grip on realistically where I need to be healthwise.
Marc: So tell me what’s going on with your health. What’s the complaint? What’s happening?
Kathryn: Well, I’m sure a lot of it has to do with weight. I definitely need to lose some weight. A lot of my health issues stem from weight issues. Sore knees. I am borderline diabetic. Tiredness, which I think isn’t it just weight, but that also has to do with a lot of stress going on in my world. But I think that would be a good start. Getting the weight off, de-stressing would be major helps.
Marc: Do you have any other health complaints? How is your digestion?
Kathryn: Digestion seems to go up and down depending on what’s going on in my world. And here lately, it’s been extra rocky. So I have a lot of indigestion that I haven’t had in a few weeks. But with home stuff cropped up, it’s cropped back up.
Marc: Got it. How much weight you want to lose?
Kathryn: I’d like to lose a hundred pounds. And if I lost 100, I’d be 160 pounds. And I don’t think for my height that’s unrealistic.
I’m 5’10.5. So I would like to. But really I’d rather just I think you get to a place where I’m just happy with me. But I do need to lose weight, yes.
Marc: Sure. So when was the last time that you were at that weight that you would like to be now? So a hundred-ish pounds less. When was the last time?
Kathryn: Probably ten years ago.
Marc: What would you say was different to ten years ago?
Kathryn: What was different? Less stress. A lot less stress. I think I started putting on more weight more like twelve years ago. I had a lot of deaths in the family. My husband has been a progressive alcoholic. So that started progressing about ten years ago.
So I’ve kind of stuffed a lot of stuff down. And I’m coming out of that, though. So I’ve already made a lot of personal changes just in the last year and foresee probably a whole lot more going on. So I’m really trying hard to tackle all of that.
Marc: That’s a lot. Other stressors that you had, just so I can get a sense of you.
Kathryn: I did homeschool. Last year was the first year I didn’t homeschool full-time. So I have one graduated homeschool. And the others are now in private school. I do have one son that’s really difficult, very, very difficult. I have two adopted children. And he has a lot of emotional and cognitive issues that have been real hard to deal with. And, of course, with an alcoholic, I’m pretty much the only parent.
Marc: Wow. So how many kids do you have?
Kathryn: Four sons.
Marc: Four sons. Whew! Okay.
Kathryn: Yeah, they’re great, though.
Marc: Can I ask how old you are?
Kathryn: I’m forty-three.
Marc: Wow. You look great for forty-three.
Marc: So that’s a lot. So are you still with your husband?
Kathryn: I am. And just as of Saturday he went to rehab.
Marc: Congratulations. That’s huge.
Kathryn: Yeah. Well, we’ll see how huge when he comes home and how he deals outside of his protective bubble. We’ll see.
Marc: Yeah. But at least that’s a first step.
Kathryn: It is. It is. It’s a big step. It’s the biggest one he’s ever made.
Marc: So this is his first time in rehab? He’s never going to rehab before?
Kathryn: He’s never going to rehab before. He’s done detoxing several times on his own, which is really awful. And it’s gotten worse each time. And he hasn’t listened to me. I kept telling him it’s very dangerous and he could kill himself doing that. But now he’s doing that.
I slowly over the last year have told family members because it’s been kind of the big, dark, ugly secret that’s been kept for a long time.
But now his family knows. My family knows. And he’s been out of the house for a little over a month now, which was a big personal step for me to say, “No more. You can’t come home until you get some help.” So it’s taken him a little over a month to finally decide to go do that.
Marc: Got it. Have you had family help in terms of kids, in terms of just managing your own life?
Kathryn: No. No. Not until recently. Not until recently. I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot of help even now, which I’m okay with. I’ve been doing it for so long. And they’re older. They’re all teens. So I don’t have as much to do with them.
Marc: So are your parents around?
Kathryn: My mother passed away two years ago. And my dad lives six hours from me. And he did come down for a little bit. But he’s already back home.
Marc: Got it. Were you and your mom close?
Kathryn: Yeah. We were.
Marc: How was her relationship with her body?
Kathryn: Well, not real good. She was very overweight. She was diabetic. She was a smoker. I don’t smoke, never have. She was a smoker, had lung cancer that metastasized to her whole body. So she lasted, I think, four months from diagnosis of that.
Marc: And you mentioned… So are you considered diabetic, prediabetic?
Kathryn: They said prediabetic. And I did two weeks ago go have some lab work done with a doctor, which I don’t like going to doctors, I admit. But I went, had all the battery of tests done. And hopefully I’ll have the results from that pretty soon.
Marc: Got it. So they didn’t give you any recommendations given that you were prediabetic? Did they say, “Hey, we want you to do the following.” Did they give you any kind of diet or advice?
Kathryn: Well, the doctor threw out the Paleo diet to start with, but really didn’t give me a whole lot of advice until all of my blood work comes back.
Marc: Got it. Got it, got it. And what’s your diet look like these days? Is there a typical in terms of what a typical day looks like for you?
Kathryn: A typical day looks like I usually don’t eat until anywhere between twelve and two, just to depending on what’s going on. And then I usually binge at about four. And sometimes that’s it. But I did today try. I did drink today a cop of miso because I’m usually not hungry. So I did have a big mug of miso this morning.
Marc: So if you binge, what will you binge on?
Kathryn: Whatever is within arm’s distance.
Marc: Got it. Do you eat dinner? You eat at night?
Kathryn: Yeah, I do eat dinner. And it’s usually whatever I fix. The boys, they’re all real active. So one night, we’ll usually have a spaghetti night. Another night I’ll have a pot roast tonight, just normal food, I guess. Baked chicken and vegetables. I think that would probably about sum it up.
Marc: Yeah. And how about after dinner? Do you have a snack? Dessert? Do you have a late night meal?
Kathryn: Sometimes an ice cream. Not all the time, though.
Marc: And how about alcohol for you?
Marc: Okay. I probably didn’t think so. Got it. So you’re not homeschooling anymore?
Kathryn: No, I’m not. I feel pretty free right now.
Marc: So are you working? Do you get to be at home and just be a mom? What’s your life like these days?
Kathryn: That would be being home, being mom, being housewife. But I know that’s not going to probably last very long. I’m trying to branch out, start thinking about doing some other things and be a little more independent because I’ve been very, very dependent on my husband, kind of that 1950s mentality of he works and I’m home taking care of home and kids. And that’s been the last many years.
Marc: So does that feel good for you to think about being more independent? Is that something that you really want to do?
Kathryn: Yes and no. It’s really terrifying. I haven’t had a job since I was a teenager. So the thought of that is a little out there.
Marc: Yeah. It’s a whole different experience because you’ve had about six full-time jobs all at once being a mom, especially if you’re homeschooling. That’s a lot.
Kathryn: It’s been busy.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, congratulations on making it this far. It doesn’t sound like it’s been an easy road for you all the time.
Kathryn: Well, I haven’t killed anybody. So that’s good! [Laughs]
Marc: So do you tend to be a fast eater? A moderate eater? A slow eater? How would you describe yourself?
Kathryn: Stressed, I eat fast. I don’t even think I taste what goes down when high stress is going on. Otherwise, I think my kids probably get on me for eating so slow. They’re like a Hoover vacuum. And they’re done. And, “Mom, you eat so slow!” So I think it’s a little bit of both, just depending on what’s going on.
Marc: So how was your weight when you were in your twenties?
Kathryn: Fine. I even had some people tell me that they thought I was too skinny. So I did pretty fine up until about… I think the main changes started about twelve years ago, ten. Ten years ago, it really started to escalate. But before that, yeah, I’d say I was pretty thin.
Marc: And ten years ago, what would you say started sparking that change?
Kathryn: Just eating a lot more, I think. I think I was, anyway. I think I started isolating a lot more. I’m trying to think what else. There was just a real escalation in stress at home. Between multiple family deaths and adopting two boys and then my husband’s drinking escalation, it changed a lot.
Marc: When did you adopt the two boys?
Kathryn: That was about twelve years ago. But as those years went on, my husband became a lot more distant and not really there. So that really started to escalate problems I’d say about two years after adopting them.
Marc: How old were they when you adopted them?
Kathryn: They were four and six at the time.
Marc: Are they brothers?
Kathryn: They’re half brothers.
Marc: Half-brothers. Got it. What do you think happened for your husband?
Kathryn: I think what happened for him is that’s the way he handles daily stress is through the bottle and not really addressing it. He runs from it, I guess. I know the last time I asked him about why he thought he drank… Of course, I know when I met him, he was drinking. I’m sure he was a problem drinker, not necessarily an alcoholic yet. But he seemed to think when we adopted the boys that it ruined his family. But he agreed to do it.
Which is what I told him, “I can’t read your mind. I asked you multiple times.” It was on my heart to do and thought it was on his heart to do. But he just really shrank back after that.
Marc: Got it. It almost sounds like he wasn’t fully on board or he didn’t know what it would be like until he did it. I’m just kind of wondering here.
Kathryn: Yeah, yeah. And then he puts in that too that we had a lot of deaths in the family. He lost his father before that. And then his grandfather and his uncle, and my grandmother and my grandfather all passed away within about a year and a half period.
Kathryn: But like I told him, those things happened to me, too. But I’m still present. So to me they’re just excuses. And he’s going to have to work through those on his own.
Marc: Got it. So where are you with just movement, exercise? What’s your relationship with all that?
Kathryn: I hate it. [Laughs] I’ll be honest. I hate it. And it’s terrible because I didn’t grow up in that way. I played basketball all the way through high school and have always been pretty active. I used to even teach aerobics classes for… Let’s see. We’ve been married twenty-two years. Probably the first six years of marriage I taught aerobic classes. So I don’t know. I had gotten to where I just hated it. Not that I’m against it. I’d like to try to get back into something. I used to love to run. I did a lot of running. But my knees have been just really awful.
Marc: So have you tried traditional dieting during this time?
Kathryn: Oh, yeah. I’ve done, I think, every book that’s come out.
Marc: And what’s helped you? What hasn’t helped you? Has anything worked? Has nothing worked?
Kathryn: Well, I have done juice fasting. And that always works really fast. I drop a lot of weight really quick, probably all water. But it’s always pretty rapid. But, yeah, I can’t stick with that. I like to eat. I’m a good cook. So I like to eat. But that has always helped.
Let’s see. One that I did try—and I can’t remember the name of it—which was just really mindful eating and trying to recognize when your body is false and to stop when you’re full, which seems silly to me. It seems normal. But I lost a lot of weight pretty quickly doing that once, too. That seemed to work pretty well.
Marc: Got it. And how much weight did you lose doing that?
Kathryn: On that one, I think the first two weeks I lost eleven pounds.
Marc: Got it.
Kathryn: And it didn’t matter what I ate so long as I stopped when I was full. And I only ate when I was hungry. So it was trying to learn when I was hungry and when it was full again.
Marc: So when is your last boy going to be out of the house?
Kathryn: Let’s see. My last one will be out in about two years.
Marc: Do you think about that much, like what’s going to happen for you, when you’re going to do, how you’re going to spend your time, who you’re going to be?
Kathryn: Well, not because of my youngest to leaving. But I have thought of it, yeah, mainly because of my husband’s ordeal and where that puts you. So I have been thinking a lot about it and honestly have no idea. I’ve been pretty wrapped up in home.
Marc: Yeah, yeah. I get it. You have to be present with what’s happening right now.
Marc: Fascinating. You’re in a fascinating situation. And I think I’ve got some ideas that I would like to start putting together and just to give you some big picture thoughts about where I see you and what’s happening and maybe some suggestions.
So starting with the big picture… In a lot of ways, it makes a ton of sense to me why you’ve gained weight and why some of the challenges you might be experiencing right now in terms of fatigue, in terms of knee pain, in terms of digestive stuff, it makes sense given your life and given what’s happened. A lot of deaths at one time, yeah, that happens to people. But I’m going to tell you, it ain’t easy.
It’s not easy. And especially when you have four kids and especially if you have a home life where there is a big challenge and you have issues with your husband and he’s got a problem with alcohol and you’re homeschooling, when I hear your story, I think to myself, “Man! That’s a lot on your plate.”
So when I look at you, I think you’ve really held down a lot. You’ve really been carrying a lot.
And with a significant other who is dealing with an alcoholic issue and you’re the one that’s staying aware and present and being there for the kids in the family, that’s a big burden. That’s a big pressure. And—excuse the analogy—but it’s a lot of weight put on you. You follow what I’m saying?
Kathryn: I do.
Marc: So for me, it makes perfect sense the challenge that you’re dealing with. I wouldn’t be looking at you saying, “Wow. What’s your problem? You are a willpower weakling. You’re lazy.” You’re anything but lazy. And you’re anything but a willpower weakling. And the weight started coming on as the stress started ramping up.
And that happens for a lot of people. It happens for a lot of people because a lot of times self-care is the first thing that goes out the door when you have to take care of everybody else. It just does. And not only that, but food is easy to turn to when life is difficult and things and working out so easily. Food makes you feel better. Food makes me feel better. Food makes all of us feel better.
So it makes sense to me that a part of you would just turn to food and go, “Okay, I’m eating more. And I’m not going to be exercising like I used to.” I don’t have the time. I don’t have the interest. And there’s a helluva lot of things you’ve got to deal with than go taking a bunch of aerobics classes.
And also, from what you said, adopting the two boys, that kind of became like a chasm between you and your husband. Something happened for him where it was either too much or it didn’t work for him in the way that he would have liked. So he dealt with that stress in a certain way. And that’s an added burden for you because if he can’t take that on fully and he’s not fully showing up as a parent and you are, more burden.
And for a lot of people, not all people…See, to me, Kathryn, in my experience, people gain weight for thousands of different reasons. There’s not like one reason why everybody gains weight. And there’s not one way that everybody takes it off.
And there’s a lot of people who gain weight because of too much life stress. It’s just too much, too much, too much, too much.
And a bigger body is a way for us, strangely enough, to feel more grounded into to feel more solid and to feel more strong. And you’ve had to be grounded in solid and strong in order to be a mom of four, in order to homeschool, and in order to deal with a husband who is dealing with alcohol and not dealing with it so well. And in addition, going through death of loved ones, that’s just a lot of burden. That’s a lot of burden.
So to me the fact that you’ve come through that or that you’ve come this far and that we’re sitting here talking and that the issue on one level—I don’t mean to minimize it—but the big challenge is a bunch of pounds. I would rather that be the challenge than a drug addiction or alcohol addiction for you, quite frankly. So as challenges go in terms of food and body, this one isn’t so bad all things considered if you know what I’m saying.
Marc: So really what I’m trying to say is that everything you’re saying makes sense to me. And I hope that there is not a single part of you that is getting down on yourself that this is where you’re at right now because this is what you’ve done to best cope with a situation that on a lot of levels has been impossible. It’s just been a ton. And I think at some point in the future, you’re going to look back on this and go, “Man, how did I survive? How did I make it?”
And you have been surviving. And you have been making it. And oftentimes there’s just going to be certain things that don’t work out perfectly on that journey. And for you in this case it’s been your weight. And it’s been the food thing. Because honestly for a lot of people—and especially a lot of women, but I’ll say people—just managing the whole weight thing even when you have an ideal life is hard enough. You know what I’m saying? Even if everything is fine and you don’t have any kids and maybe you don’t even have a marriage, it’s hard for a lot of people.
And then again add on what you’ve had to deal with, and that’s a lot. So to me the good news is weight comes on and weight comes off. And I think for you for the weight to come off, it’s more about losing a bunch of pounds. I think it’s about you on a deeper level—and it sounds like you’re already doing this—it’s you on a deeper level committing to taking care of you in a whole new way.
And when I say taking care of you, I don’t mean exercising and eating some weird diet. I mean taking care of you the way I’m hearing you’re already taking care of you. Like you made a boundary with your husband like, “Hey, You can’t do this anymore.” That’s taking care of you. That’s my definition of taking care of you.
And for you to say to yourself, it’s like, “Okay, I have to start to look at maybe supporting myself or getting a job or being more independent.” That’s another way of you taking care of you. So it feels like to me this next phase of your life is a little less intensive about taking care of others, a little bit less intensive about taking care of others, and starting to aim that motherly love towards you.
And honestly this might be the first time you’re doing that in a helluva long time if not forever, really, particularly as an adult. As an adult, you’ve been on the clock here for a long time now. And you’ve sacrificed a lot to raise kids. And I get that you’re still doing it. But you’re coming to a real transition point. The transition is starting to happen. So to me it’s really wrapping herself around that this is starting to be your time now.
And I want to say that the weight can come off. It’s not going to be that big of a mystery.
And I’ll tell you. I’ll start to share with you what I think you need to do to get where you want to go weight wise. I don’t think it’s going to be a lot of intense exercise for you at all. You don’t like it. I would say don’t do it. If you’re going to do movement, what I’d like to see you do is walk if you can walk. Or if there’s hiking by you or if there’s any kind of gentle movement that you could do that you can enjoy.
Is there anything that you enjoy? Like dance classes are yoga or anything like that that you would say, “Wow, I like that!”
Kathryn: I do like walking. I do like going outside and walking. I usually walk with the neighbor. Not every day, but she’s kind of been my one outlet to talk. So it’s usually a walk and talk session.
Marc: Great! So you could consider that your exercise. I just want you to be in your body. That’s good enough for now. I really mean that.
Here’s another piece of the puzzle. I definitely would love for you to continue to become a slow and present and aware eater. When I asked you which of the diets have worked for you, you talked about being mindful. And that’s a big part of the game here because when we’re under stress and we’re under tension and we’re under a lock of life challenge, the food is going to just go down.
And the reason why we do that…And I want you to really understand this. There’s a good reason for that. It’s not that we’re willpower weaklings. It’s not like there’s something wrong with you. It’s that when you take a lot of food into the system really quick, at some point the body kind of relaxes. It drops into a physiologic relaxation state because that’s where the body optimally digests a meal. It has to be relaxed. You can’t digest a meal fully when you’re stressed and running from a lion.
So there’s a lot of stress in your life. And there’s been a lot of stress in your life. So often times people do the quickest avenue they can find to destress. For some people, their quickest way to destress is alcohol. For some people, their quickest way to destress is a drug. For some, their quickest way to be stress might be porn online. For some people, a quick way to destress for a lot of people just food. Our favorite foods relax us. Sweet foods relax us. Or just binge eating will actually on a certain level relax your body.
So what I want you to do as a practice, what I’d love to see you do—and this is kind of part of the homework assignment here—is really be a mindful, slow eater. But mindful, think of it as sensuous. Mindful sounds like you’re eating with your mind. That’s not very sexy. But sensuous means you’re enjoying it. Your present to it. You’re there. And it’s a way for you to begin to be with yourself in a good way because we all have our ways that we escape and we disembody and we leave our problems.
Your way has been just to eat a bunch of food. And it helps relax you and then also gives you the kind of body that keeps you grounded so you can be strong in the world. And part of your path, I think, is going to be owning and realizing that you can still be strong in the world without having to have a big body. Are you with me?
Marc: You can be strong in the world without having to have a big body, plain and simple. There’s plenty of ways to be strong.
So there’s a little shift that can happen in there. And maybe just to kind of think about that, to just remind yourself, “I can be strong and I can be grounded without needing to have a big body.”
Marc: Are you with me on that?
Kathryn: So just saying that will get that from here, from head to heart?
Marc: Yeah. It’s just a way to talk to yourself because your issue is not that you’re a willpower weakling. There’s nothing wrong with you. Here’s what happens. A lot of people go into weight gain. And they think, “There’s something wrong with me.” And we go into embarrassment because there’s a lot of weight hate out there. And we take on a lot of that weight hate. And we start to dislike ourselves and think there’s something wrong with us. And there’s nothing wrong.
What I’m trying to say is there are reasons why your body has taken on a lot of weight. And those reasons make sense. And those reasons are very survival based for you. They’re all about you surviving with a lot of stress, with homeschooling your kids, with a challenging partner, and with life challenges that, yeah, they happened. But there’s still big challenges, i.e. death of loved ones in a short period of time. And you mix that altogether. And weight gain for a lot of people is predictable. It’s just a way that we cope. It’s a way for the bodies to be strong and solid. It’s a way for you to have some kind of goodies and fun and stress relief and relaxation. So it makes sense.
So now we’re just thinking, “Okay, moving forward in life, we want to start to have a different philosophy.” It’s kind of just like breaking it down and go, “Okay, there’s perfectly good reasons to have a big body. It makes me grounded. It makes me feel strong. And eating enough food makes me feel good about myself. Okay, a little bit of fun here. Thank you! This feels nice.”
So it’s now about owning that, A, you don’t need a big body to be grounded and strong. You’re just reminding yourself of that. Next, it’s reminding yourself, “I can be really slow and sensuous and present with food” because oftentimes, when we binge eat, one of the things that’s happening when we binge eat or when we eat too fast is that we are actually checking out. We leave. We go. And, believe it or not, that’s one of the few places you have—you personally—where you just check out. And you disappear. And checking out and disappearing ain’t a bad thing.
My personal favorite way to check out and disappear is I go out in nature. I live in a beautiful place. So that’s how I check out and disappear. It tends to be relatively healthy for me because humans need our alone space. We need those moments to check out of a crazy life. So some people might do that with music or dance or exercise or whatever we do. Some people have hobbies, places where they can just disappear and forget about everything.
So I want you to start to notice what those places are for you where you can get that sense of, “I’m leaving this all behind for the next thirty minutes or hour.” Maybe your walk and talk does that. But I want you to find other places where it’s just you. And you can kind of check out. Does that make sense?
Marc: Are there things you can think of that just kind of help you go to that place?
Kathryn: Taking a bath.
Marc: Taking a bath. There you go. Beautiful. So make that a regular practice. I’m serious. Do it every day. So what happens is as you have those outlets more and more, the outfit called food becomes less and less important. Does that make sense?
Marc: So next with that, also slowing down with food on a consistent basis is really going to help you digest better, which is going to help you metabolize your meal better because the body optimally digests and assimilates and calorie burns a meal when we are relaxed. Plain and simple.
So the more you can slow down with food, the more your body literally relaxes.
Very important for you now is I would love, love, love, love, love to see you get on regular meals. What’s happening, one of the reasons why you are binge eating in late afternoon at four o’clock it’s because you’re starving. You’re not having enough food during the day. You’re putting out a lot of energy. And if you don’t eat enough during the first half of your day, at some point when your mind is a little bit weak enough, the body is going to scream hungry. You cannot override the body’s natural inborn need for food.
A majority of your binge eating in the late afternoon has nothing to do with anything emotional or personal, and it has everything to do with how you are holding off from eating food. Maybe you’re busy. Maybe you’re running around and you’re making things happen. And you also think, “Wow, I don’t eat, I’m not eating food. And that might make me lose weight because I’m not eating. because food is what makes you gain weight.”
But the reality is the first half of the day is your most powerful calorie burning part of the day. That’s when your system is hottest, so to speak. So I would love to see you get on regular meals. It will be life-changing for you. And it’s you adopting a relationship with food that’s sustainable over time and that works.
There was a time in your life where your body was where it should be. And chances are you were eating regularly. And that’s the key is to do how nature designed us, how the intelligence of the universe, how God designed us. Your body is designed to eat regular meals during the day for most people. You can tweak that. You can change that. There are certain people who do really odd, strange things in terms of their eating patterns.
What I want to say for you, to help you get to where you want to go—so I’m not saying everyone needs to eat like this—what I’m saying is for you, because you are presenting with this challenge called, “Hey I want to lose this weight,” and when I hear you say to me that you’re skipping breakfast, you’re not sort of really eating lunch, of course you’re going to be ravenous and binge on anything. You will kill for food at that point because your body needs it. And there’s nothing wrong with you is what I’m trying to say. But it’s easy to think that there is.
It’s no different than if you held your breath and all of a sudden you’re holding it, you’re holding it for thirty seconds, and you go [inhales], “Ahh.” And you have to breathe. Any then you go, “Marc, what’s wrong with me? I can’t hold my breath for fifty minutes.” It’s like of course you can’t. You need oxygen. Of course you can’t stop eating for half a day without binging because your body needs food.
So I want to get you on regular meals. So you’re going to train your metabolism to eat, digest, calorie burn. And then it eats. And it digests. And it calorie burn again. And then it eats. And it digests… So you get on a rhythm.
Rhythm is everything. We’re rhythmic creatures. You wake up in the morning. You go to sleep at night. That’s a rhythm. You have two, three meals a day, maybe some snacks. That’s a rhythm.
So I also want to say that in an ideal universe, I would love to see you shift towards a diet that’s more focused on a lot of fiber. And when I say fiber, I mean veggies. Cooked, raw, I don’t care. So a lot of veggies, i.e. fiber, because that will massively help with diabetes, prediabetes, any kind of blood sugar dysregulation. It’s just a no-brainer.
So you can’t eat too many vegetables of any kind, salads of any kind. And I would love to see you focus on healthy protein. Get good free-range chicken if you eat meat, if you do fish, to really focus on good quality protein. And also focus on high-quality fat. Use a good olive oil, so sort of in the direction of Paleo for you.
There’s a couple of great out there. Dr. Mark Hyman’s book The Blood Sugar Solution. If you like to read, that’s a great book.
Kathryn: I do.
Marc: Yeah. So Dr. Mark Hyman’s book The Blood Sugar Solution is a really, really great one. And that’ll just give you a lot of information. It’ll give you great ideas, tips, recipes. I think there’s also a cookbook that goes along with that, as well, if you like to cook and you want to try some of the recipes there. And that’s all about working with people’s blood sugar through diet and other strategies. And if I can give you one resource book, that’s it because it’s a very readable. It’s very good. And you’ll get inspired about taking care of yourself.
And the idea is to not have a diet that’s going to make you miserable, but to eat in a way that makes you feel good. And for you it’s going to be regular meals. Even if you’re not hungry in the morning, I want to see you have a breakfast. And it can’t be a pure carbohydrate breakfast. I’m not talking about waffles or pancakes or toast or cereal and milk.
For you I would want to see you eat some kind of breakfast fish or some kind of smoothie with some protein and it kind of a thing or some kind of healthy breakfast meat. Or if you’re a vegetarian, then a vegetarian source of protein, but to focus on the protein. Make sense?
Kathryn: Yep, it does.
Marc: So I’m going to say that that’s a great place to start is with Dr. Mark Hyman’s book. And there might be a few good Paleo books out there. There’s none coming to mind right now. But I know there’s some great Paleo recipe books. There’s a so many on the market right now.
That by itself if you begin to practice that… And I don’t want you to be fanatic about it. I don’t want you to go, “Oh, my God. I ate a bagel today. I’m going to shoot myself.” I don’t want you to go there. I want you to do as best you can. I don’t want you to think of the diet as all or nothing. Are you with me?
Kathryn: I am.
Marc: There’s no such thing as all or nothing here. If you end up splurging, you end up having ice cream, fine. Think of it as kind of like the 90/10 rule. If you can make ninety percent of your diet hit the target, then you’re doing fine. And to me when you start to do that, i.e. slow down with food, relax, be present, be mindful. And begin to eat regular meals, especially starting with practice. Like have an actual breakfast. Have an actual lunch.
And I guarantee you if you do an actual breakfast than an actual lunch, when it comes four a clock you’re not going to be binging and ravenous.
If anything, you want a snack. And then you have a snack. And, again, get a good Paleo recipe book. And The Blood Sugar Solution book. Look for snacks that are, again, high in healthy protein, healthy fat, low in sugar. That’s the target that we’re looking to hits.
And your body is going to slowly change. And you don’t have to at this stage worry about exercise. Go outside and walk and breathe. Breathe air. Walking and breathing air and having a relaxing time with your friend, I want you to think of this phase of your—and I really mean this—as Kathryn taking care of Kathryn like never before.
And you can call that selfish. Fine. You deserve it. You’ve put out a lot. You’ve been down a hard road. And for you to get prepared for this next phase of your life where your kids are being launched, we don’t know what’s going to happen with your relationship. We know you want a little bit of independence here. So there’s going to be a lot of unknowns. What a great time to start taking care of you. Right?
Kathryn: I agree. Yep.
Marc: And it’s taking care of you from a loving place as opposed to, “Oh, my God. I’ve got to lose all this weight really quick. Otherwise I’m screwed.” No. I don’t want you to lose weight fast. I want you to lose it gradually. And you might hear other people tell you different things about that. There’s no rush here. There’s really no rush.
And all you need to do is start to adopt some of the simple changes that I’m talking about. And you’ll start to see the weight fall off pretty naturally as you include more healthy fat in your diet. I don’t know what kind of shopping you have out there in your part of the world, like a good health food store or a gourmet store. Yeah?
Marc: Yeah. So high quality oils for you, especially olive oil, even an essential fatty acid supplements for you is really great for people who are prediabetes and just kind of getting the body back into good health. An EFA supplement can be very helpful for that. It’s just a supporting your diet with more essential nutrients.
How are you doing so far with what I’m saying?
Kathryn: Good! Good. It sounds pretty easy.
Marc: It is on one level. I’m not saying that your life is easy. But some of these strategies are relatively easy and simple. And it’s the idea of doing strategies that are sustainable and lifelong.
So fasting is not bad. But it’s definitely not a sustainable strategy for weight loss. I would rather you not fast at this point or juice fast only because I want you to retrain your body to work off of three meals a day. I want you to retrain your body that it doesn’t need to be ravenous and binge at four o’clock because it’s been starving for the first half of the day.
I want you to train your body with more fiber, i.e. all kinds of veggies, and less sugar, less carbs. When I say carbs, I’m talking bread or pasta or rice or muffins or cookies or cakes or soda, that kind of thing, even juice, less of that. The more you can limit that, the better. But, again, notice how I’m not saying, “Kathryn, don’t ever eat that again.”
Marc: Now, there will be some people who tell you you have to go all or nothing. I’m not getting that for you. Some people are good with all or nothing. I don’t know if that’s you.
Kathryn: I don’t know if I could do that. Maybe if it was just me, I might be able to.
Marc: But not with kids?
Kathryn: No. It’s too busy around here to do that.
Marc: Yeah. So that’s why I said that because I’m not getting that you’re in all or nothing kind of place. Because if I did say, “Kathryn, this is all or nothing,” as soon as you have some ice cream, you would hate yourself. You would not like me. You would not like this whole setup. And then you wouldn’t get where you want to go because we would have set up these artificial rules that’s just don’t work. So again if you can hit for target ninety percent of the time, you’re doing fine.
And let me ask you this question. Do you think in your opinion that you’re ready to start losing weight?
Kathryn: I do. I do. I’ve made a lot of changes here recently, and more to come that I think are really going to be helpful in that area. I really do.
Marc: And I ask because…And I would say if I was gauging your answer, it sounded like you were about seventy percent sure.
Kathryn: I guess my only holdback is making sure I stick to what I know I need to do for me. Nothing having anything to do with food, just for me personally.
And those have been hard things to do. But I’m getting stronger at it.
I’m looking at moving into my grandparents’ home. So I’ve been fixing it up because I know when he comes home from rehab, I do not feel comfortable still living with him until I have a good year’s worth of sober living and working on himself and his issues. So I’m seeing that as a real freeing thing and praying real hard I can stick to that and not get swayed out of it.
Marc: Got it. Got it, got it. Beautiful. So to me the biggest challenge for you is going to be… Let me say this in a different way. What I’ve noticed over the years when dealing with the topic of weight, when I’m talking to people who legitimately have weight to lose… So I’m going to say you legitimately have weight to lose. You’ve had a certain body type now for a little while. So there’s a way that you’re accustomed to this body that you’re in right now.
So in a strange way, there’s a kind of balance that you have right now where this body that you’re in, for the most part, kind of works for you given all the stresses and all the ways that you have to feel grounded and all the ways that you have to feel strong and all the ways that you have the kind of manage stress by turning to food sometimes.
And at the same time, you’re trying to lose weight. And the strategy that you’re doing doesn’t work, i.e. skipping meals, especially in the early part of the day. That strategy doesn’t work. It wreaks havoc on the body. It deregulates your appetite.
So all I’m saying is that the hardest thing is to change kind of our internal perception of life and our internal perception of ourselves. And I hear that you’re doing that. You’re starting to make the core changes, i.e. becoming more independent, having more boundaries. And from that place, feeling safe with yourself, save as a person, save as a woman to the degree where you can have a lighter body and feel confident and feel safe because, again, perhaps you’re aware of this. Perhaps you’re not. But my guess is—my educated guess—again is that a big body give you solidity. It gives you a certain kind of strength. And you’re going to want to pull that strength from other places in order to have a lighter body.
So I just want you to be aware that you’re becoming a stronger person. And another way of saying you’re becoming a stronger person is you are finding your personal power. You’re finding out who you really are and what works for you and what doesn’t. You’re getting clear about what works for you and what doesn’t. And what works for you and what doesn’t happens to be very important to you.
Kathryn: Yeah. It does.
Marc: It’s extremely important. And what a beautiful time in life that you’re in right now to really start to get that. So as you’re transitioning to kind of being house mom, housewife, being dependent on this guy, putting up with certain things that aren’t so good to put up with, and now you’re transitioning to be more empowered, more independent, there’s a place where you just need to keep reminding yourself that, “I’m making these inner changes. And the outer change can flow from there.” You follow me?
Kathryn: I do.
Marc: So it’s about being patient because the outer change, meaning losing the weight, your body, your psyche, the unconscious parts of you and us can make changes when everything is safe and the system understands that, “Okay, we’re all working towards the same goal here.” You’re working towards the same goal of bettering herself as a person, being a more rounded person, finding your power, finding your independence.
And at the same time, your body is wanting to find its true place. So your body can go back to its true place when you go back to your rightful place. And your rightful place happens to be taking care of you, honoring you, respecting you, and knowing when you have to say no and making the time to take care of yourself in ways that you know are important for you.
Kathryn: Yeah, my intuition has told me for a long time if I did some of these things that I’ve only just now have the courage to do, that health and the rest would follow.
Marc: Bingo. I am a firm believer in that. And if you and I had been talking about all this and you weren’t making any of these changes and you were still struggling with your husband and you were still in denial or if he was in denial, if that was happening, I might be thinking to myself, “I don’t know if this person is ready to lose weight.” I wouldn’t know for sure.
And at the same time, I think you’re ready because you are doing the personal work. You’re doing the inner work.
You’re making that inner change that’s going to make this outer change doable. One follows the other. So I’m excited for you. I think this is going to be a time when you’re turning things around.
And it doesn’t mean there’s not going to be pain and there’s not going to be letting go and there’s not going to be grieving. And the more help you can get right now. the better. The more love you can be getting from your friends and whoever is your support system, to me you can’t do enough of that because this is a big challenge that you are in right now because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And you just need support. You just need a lot of love coming into the system here.
Kathryn: Yeah. And I do have a good support group, I do. People going to the same thing I am. So I have a lot of good support and a lot of good understanding, which is really important.
Marc: Yeah. So I feel really confident for you. I really do. And I’m feeling like you’ve got what it takes here to get where you want to go. I don’t think there’s any missing pieces in here. I think in terms of who you are and your character and your maturity, and you have what it takes to re-create your life.
And that’s either going to be with your husband in a good way or not. And you’ll make it work, whichever way you choose. I really believe that. Whichever way you end up going, I think you’re going to make it work.
And in an interesting way, also, the more you start to reclaim your body, that’s going to feel empowering to you. You’re going to feel a certain confidence when you take care of your body in a different way. And, yeah, it’s about losing weight. But really it’s just about you taking care of you. It’s just another way of taking care of yourself.
Kathryn: Yeah. I have in the last probably year and a half have thought that the weight loss was more than just physical weight loss, that it was a weight loss of other things. But I’m not going to lie and say there’s not a lot of fear associated with it. But it’s baby steps right now.
Marc: It is baby steps. It absolutely is baby steps. And I’m going to say it’s perfectly okay to feel fear. That’s natural. And it’s about feeling the fear and still putting one step in front of the other, which you’ve probably been doing this all along anyway.
Kathryn: It’s been a lot of years.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah. So this is sort of your time now. You’re starting to claim yourself. And it’s not easy. And I think you have the kind of inner strength and the inner commitment and the inner guidance that you can do that. It’s not easy. Listen, if you had been able to do what you’ve done with raising for boys and homeschooling them, two being adopted, and all you’ve been through with family and relationship, if you can do that, then you can do this. I promise you.
Marc: I’m just saying.
Kathryn: Yes. If I put it all on paper, yeah.
Marc: Yep. Yeah. So, Kathryn, any other thoughts that you have about all this, how it’s landing for you?
Kathryn: It’s the perfect thing, the perfect time for me right now. So it speaks to me at every level. So it’s just putting it into action.
Marc: Yeah. Who can support you? Is there somebody in your life that can kind of be almost like an accountability partner like, “Hey, here’s some of the changes I want to start to make with my diet and with taking walks every day or a bath every night.” Someone who can say, “Hey, Kathryn. How are you doing with that?” Just like your cheerleader.
Kathryn: I do have someone. I just recently this week got an accountability partner really for recovery with being a spouse of an alcoholic. But I think she’d be absolutely on board with this aspect of it, too.
Marc: Perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Why not? Any way to get support and there is great for you.
Kathryn: I will do that.
Marc: All right. Good work, Kathryn. Thank you.
Kathryn: Thank you.
Marc: Yeah, thanks for being honest. Thanks for laying that out on the table and giving us a window into your world. For me personally in this conversation, I’m honestly coming away inspired. I just find you to be a very inspiring woman. You’ve really stepped up in your life. And you’re doing amazing things and have done amazing things. And I hope you can see that with yourself. I hope you’ve got people who can remind you that you are a real wow.
Kathryn: Thank you.
Marc: Yeah, I mean that.
Kathryn: I appreciate it.
Marc: Yeah. Thank you again. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. Lots more to come, my friends.
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