The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 129: Moving Through Body Hate
At a young age, Marta was encouraged by her parents to go on a diet, and ever since, she’s been on a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain that never quite arrives at the goal. When she started to come close to her ideal size, she developed a new obsession with finding the perfect diet to treat hypothyroidism, but she suspected it was just a new way of distracting herself from her underlying dissatisfaction with her life. Tired of draining her energy, she came to Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, for guidance. Tune in as Marc helps Marta find some powerful questions to ask herself and some new shifts to make in her relationship so that she can finally find peace with her body.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
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. And I’m with Marta today. Welcome, Marta.
Marta: Hi, Marc. Thank you.
Marc: I’m so glad you’re here. And let me just fill in viewers and listeners for a few minutes before we dive in. For those of you who are new to the podcast, in the Psychology of Eating podcast, we are going to do a client session. Marta and I are going to go about an hour. We’ve never met before. And we’re going to see if we can help move her forward in a short amount of time and just give her the best of coaching and counseling, hopefully squeeze about six months’ worth of work into one session.
I know that’s impossible. But we’ll go for the impossible. And we’re going to go about an hour together. And let me start out by asking you, Miss Marta, if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you would like, what would that be for you?
Marta: Peace and stability around food and my life, hopefully.
Peace and stability around food and your life. Give me even more specifics.
What would that mean for you when it comes to peace and stability around food?
Marta: I’m a very impulsive person, even a bit obsessive sometimes. What happens around food is that I keep getting interested in different diets. And it’s really impossible. I buy supplements, then I was on a diet. I find out supplements are not needed anymore. I sell or I put all those supplements on the junk. I buy some other supplements, anything that’s for dairy, gluten, actually everything. My family doesn’t know what to buy for me anymore. My boyfriend just tells me, “Look, just don’t throw anything away anymore because you might need it later.” So that’s been, for me, for the past three years like that.
Marc: So what motivates you to do the different diets and supplements? Is it health? Is it weight? What’s the reason for you?
Marta: Body image and weight, definitely. Like I said, I’m a bit obsessive. I can replace my body image concerns, my weight concerns with something else, I don’t know, searching for other things that I like. But eventually there’s always something that captivates me and I start thinking, again, maybe this is going to work. Maybe I’m going to try this magic diet, and it’s finally going to work. I’m finally going to get the body I want.
Marc: So if you had the body you wanted, and it all finally worked, what would that look like? Would it be a specific amount of weight that you lose, a specific size, a specific way that you look in the mirror? How would you know that you got there?
Marta: A specific body type, the toned, skinny ladies you see now – that whole waifish thing. They’re very toned, very skinny, no belly fat at all. Yeah, I’d like that
Marc: So do you have a sense of how much weight you want to lose?
Marta: Not really. I mean people don’t even know how much I weigh at the moment. They think I weigh a lot less than I do. And I’ve never been this thin as I am. I’ve never been like this. I mean I’m wearing a size small or a size medium. And before I’d wear a size large or extra large.
I look at myself at the mirror, and I seem exactly the same person as before. I can’t see any differences.
I buy clothes, and I’m completely amazed. How do they fit me? How am I wearing the same clothes as my friends are? It doesn’t make any sense.
Marc: Wow, I mean isn’t that kind of fascinating when you think about it, how you know for a fact, you know for a scientific fact, that you’re smaller because you’re wearing clothes that are significantly smaller. And yet when you look at yourself with your own eyes, you don’t see smaller person. Isn’t that wild?
Marta: It’s completely ridiculous, yes. But I just can’t change that. I don’t even mind. I look at myself at the mirror every day. And I think, okay, this is me. How can people see something different? I don’t know.
Marc: We’re going to return to that. Tell me about your health. What’s going on with that?
Marta: I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism how many years ago, ten? Around ten years ago. Everything else, I mean I think at that point I was prescribed some cholesterol tablets. I stopped taking them when I started working out. I’m fine since then. I also tend to be very nervous. And my doctors thought I had high blood pressure for a while, but I think it was just me going to the doctor. And I’ve also recently stopped taking my hypothyroidism medication. And I’m trying to follow a diet. Well, I’m trying to be careful with what I eat and trying to get my digestive health better. And it’s been like two months. And actually I’ve been completely out of hypothyroidism since then. So I’m quite happy.
Marc: Oh, congratulations to you. So what’s happening with your digestion?
Marta: Well to be honest, I just read that hypothyroidism is very connected with digestive problems. I’ve always been constipated. Now I’m fine. But to be honest, I didn’t even think that was the problem until I started searching about health and food. I thought that was normal, being bloated, absolutely normal. I mean I just ate all this, how can I be bloated? And all my family is constipated. All my family has bloating issues. It’s been the normal life ever.
Marc: But that’s changed for you. What do you attribute that change to?
Marta: Mostly gluten, I stopped eating gluten except sourdough bread. I can eat that, no problems at all. I tried once stopping with lactose, well, dairy, but it didn’t really change much, to be honest. I started because I read your book. Because I need to blow my nose quite frequently, I thought maybe that’s because I drink so much milk. It didn’t seem to affect me. I think it’s just because it’s always damp and cold and windy, especially when I go to Portugal.
Marc: Right. Oh, wow. So let’s talk about the body image thing again and wanting the perfect body and looking at yourself in the mirror and not seeing a smaller person, even though your brain somewhere knows it’s smaller. How long have you sort of been trying to look different?
Marta: Since I was a little kid. I remember it because I had just gone into school.
And my friends were going to ballet. And I asked my father, “Can I go to ballet, as well?” And he said, “No, you’re too fat.
You need to go to something like karate or martial arts because it’s more for your body type.”
And I think that’s kind of stuck with me. From that moment on, I started on and off being careful with what I ate, trying several different diets. Most of the times I actually went with diets along with my dad because it’s both our problems. My mom is usually always on top of us. You are gaining weight. You need to lose weight again. You’re eating too much. She’s the one controlling the business.
Marc: Got it. And so are you living with your parents now?
Marta: Not at the moment. I moved out three years ago. I came to UK, so now I’m quite far from my parents, who still live in Portugal. That helped me a bit with my parents. But since I was completely alone, I started obsessing with weight and exercise, especially exercise, and counting calories. I think mostly because I was alone.
Marc: So are you dating?
Marta: I’ve got a boyfriend. We started…Only came to live with me a couple of months ago. Before, I was alone. So I met him three years ago. At the same time I came here I met him. But he was still in Portugal. And he stayed there until this November. But now he’s here. And he’s always supported me through all of my crazy things.
Marc: And how does he feel about your weight? Is he standing there telling you that you need to lose weight or have the perfect body?
Marta: Not at all, he loves me. He’s supported me. And he says, “Yeah, it’s fine.” He loves me the way I am. He’s amazing.
I wish I could see myself through his eyes. He really likes me. It’s amazing.
Marc: Is there ever a time during the day or a week or a month that you notice that you don’t obsess so much about body image?
Marta: I think it really depends on what I’m doing. I’ve been thinking about this myself. I think I don’t know how to self-care anymore. If I’ve got something that interests me, like reading, if I’m busy drawing, painting, searching, I’m fine. As soon as I stop having something to do or I get used to something, like controlling my food, I start, oh, wait, am I gaining weight again? And I go back to searching diets.
Marc: Okay, so if you’re occupied, and you’re doing something that engages you, you don’t so much go there so much about perfect diet, perfect body. But once, maybe, it sounds like, you get a little bored, you get used to something, or it sounds like even if you slow down a little bit, then it all kind of starts to come. Is that true?
Marta: Yes. Yeah, most of the times it’s like that. It’s just, for example, I’m searching about things to heal my thyroid. I’m busy doing that. I’m doing that without no concerns about weight whatsoever. But then I read this specific phrase, for example, sometimes when your thyroid gets better you might lose weight. It triggers something. Oh, I’m going to try this because it might actually help me in doing this. So I think the seed is always there. It just doesn’t disappear completely.
Marc: Yes, I get it. So when you imagine having the perfect body and the perfect diet and the perfect health, what do you think would be the result of that? Let’s say you had it right now. And it was there. How would life be different? What would be so good?
Marta: I would be sexy. I would attract men. It’s just stupid to say, really, because I don’t really want anyone else. But men would look at me when they pass by me, maybe women, as well. I’d be more confident, dressing differently maybe.
Marc: Anything else?
I think life would be easier. I think life would be easier. I would just completely let go of everything.
Marc: So life would be easier. You would let go of everything. You’d feel sexier. You’d be sexier. Maybe you would dress differently. Men would pay attention to you, even though you kind of really don’t want that. But hey, it couldn’t hurt. You’ve got your boyfriend. But at least if other guys are looking, that’s kind of fun. And maybe if women were checking you out, hey, who cares about that. That’s kind of nice. And just everything would be better.
Marc: Did I get that right?
Marc: So just let me ask you this question. Do you know any girl in your age group who you would say gosh, I would love to have that kind of body or those kind of looks? Is there anybody you could think of in your world that you come across who kind of has sort of what you would want?
Marta: Yes, she’s a co-worker. She works at the same place I do. She’s a weight lifter. She lifts weights. And she does yoga. She’s got the perfect body, I think.
Marc: How’s her life?
Marta: I think she’s not as obsessed as me with food. But she also changes her diet. I mean now she’s vegetarian. Before she was eating lots of protein. She does weight lifting. She’s a bit more free than I am. She’s more easy going, I think. She doesn’t speak about food and about diets as much as I do. I mean if you ask her, she’ll tell you. But it’s not something she makes public. Diet and food is probably the only think I know of to speak about, well except my job.
Marc: But do you get the sense that your friend sort of has this great life, no problems, everything is wonderful?
Marta: Well she doesn’t have a boyfriend. She can’t keep a boyfriend, actually. She’s quite odd.
Marc: And she has the perfect body and these beautiful looks. Who would have guessed? Very interesting.
Marta: I know. I don’t know how the world works. But yeah, that’s it. I think she sometimes feels really, really lonely because of that. She speaks to me about it. She seems really lonely. And she actually invites me to go out. And I usually say, “I can’t. I mean I’m staying with my boyfriend because I like his company. And I’ve been working all day long. I just want to share the night with him.” And she’s like, “Oh, yeah, okay.”
It makes me wonder if right now she might be sitting at home somewhere thinking to herself, gosh, I wish I had what Marta has.
I wish I had her life. She’s got this really great guy who loves her. And man, she just has it all.
Marta: Well yeah, we’re never satisfied with what we’ve got, are we?
Marc: Well, it’s just interesting. I think it’s good to really explore these things. Marta, tell me how old you are.
Marta: 25, actually, 26, sorry. My birthday was this Sunday.
Marc: Oh, happy birthday.
Marta: Thank you.
Marc: So it’s an interesting challenge because we’re kind of conditioned to think that once we get this thing that we want, fill in the blank, the perfect body, for some people it’s the perfect job, for some people it’s the perfect amount of money, for some people it’s the perfect diet, perfect health, whatever it is, it’s the perfect something, there’s this belief that goes on in the head that everything will be perfect when this one thing is perfect.
And I guess I asked you that question about hey, do you know anybody who has exactly what you want. And I’m glad you actually do know someone. And you do know a little bit about her life because you’ve just kind of proven to me, personally, maybe not to you, but you’ve proven to me that it sort of doesn’t matter when you have this thing that we call the perfect, I don’t know, fill it in, the perfect body, because she has it according to you. And she’s not happy. In fact, she’s not happy with her relationship life. And you know people, and you know women, and you know men. When you’re lonely like that, it’s not fun.
Marc: And life doesn’t feel perfect. And she’s probably not sitting around going ‘I have it all. This is so great. Look at me’.
So all I’m saying is, to me, I just think you’re at an age where… first of all, I want to give you some credit here. And I hope you do too. I get that you can get a little bit obsessive about health. And I get that you can be obsessive about diet.
To me the good news in there, and I really mean this, is that you have an interest. And you have a passion. And you experiment. And you explore.
And you’ve helped yourself. You’ve looked at your family and go wait a second. Bloated, constipated, that’s normal. But huh, maybe let me try some dietary changes. Oh, no, that’s not so normal. And you feel better. And you look different. And then diagnosed as a thyroid issue, or you were taking something for cholesterol.
And now you’re changing that. So I just want to say to you that I think that’s a wonderful thing. I think it’s an absolutely wonderful thing to take responsibility for your health. Especially at your age I think it’s so important because I’m twice as old as you. But in a strange way, your generation, I believe, has more impacting you health wise in a negative way than my generation or my parent’s generation, meaning we have more access to health information. But there are more toxins in the world. And I think there’s just more that can bring the body down these days just in terms of chemicals in the environment, stuff in our food, stress, electromagnetic pollution, and a lot more. So all I’m saying is there’s something good in there about your obsession. And I think you’re learning how to make that obsession really work for you in a better way. So I would not want you to be disinterested in health and disinterested in your body.
And I’m just giving you my vision for you, is that you’re going to gradually step into your power as a person, as a woman, regardless if you weigh a pound more or a pound less or five pounds more or ten pounds less, regardless if you have six pack abs and no body fat or whatever. Because the truth is, it changes.
Have you even spent any time around the culture of women or men who do these fitness competitions. And do you know how much work that is?
Marta: I know. I went into weight lifting…Well, I didn’t enter in the competitions, but I was training with them. And they couldn’t eat anything or…Actually, they could. But they had to eat at certain times. only certain things. And I think that’s when I did my first elimination diet because there was just little things I could eat. So I could only eat meats and veggies. And that’s probably it. So it’s really sad, to be honest.
Marc: It is kind of sad, isn’t it? And I’m not taking away from the people who do that and love it and enjoy it and really make it work for them. But I’ve also seen the dark side of that world, which is people become so obsessive and so controlling. And it can consume their life. And then once they stop that intense training, the body changes really quickly.
So it’s a very short lived experience that is extremely hard to sustain unless you do it for a living, unless it’s your life. It’s your mission. It’s your job. And then okay, I’m doing it all the time. And maybe I’m making a little money at it. But at the end of the day, it’s not sustainable for anyone.
Marta, I wish there was a button we could push or a pill we could take that would either make the obsession go away or give you what you wanted.
But life doesn’t work like that as far as I can tell. And I think, for you, that you’re really on the right track. And the right track means that you care about your body, and you care about your health, and you have a fascination. And there’s part of you that knows this doesn’t work for me, really.
And there’s a part of you that also says well, heck, I don’t care. I still want to make this work. So to me it’s like there’s like a little dialogue or a big dialogue going on in your head. And it’s sort of like the good guys and the bad guys. And the good guys are the ones that go Marta, this is crazy. This is no good. You’ve gone down all this weight and this size, and you still think you look like the same person. Wait a second. There’s something wrong with that. But then there’s this other voice that goes no, you could even lose more. And you could look different. And that’s where you’re living right now. And I don’t know if we could remove you from that.
Here’s what I think. And tell me what you think about this. I think you’re going to have to play this out a little more until you really see for yourself, you prove to yourself, that this ultimately isn’t going to take you where you want to go because you haven’t proven that to yourself. So the belief is if I look this perfect way, everything’s going to be okay. And when you said that, it was so sweet because it’s truly what you believe.
And the reason why you believe that is because that’s what we get taught by the world. That’s what you get taught by the media, by the culture, your parents, at a young age. Oh, no, you can’t do this. You don’t have the body for that. But wait a second, I want to do that. So I have to have the right body in order to be like those girls. Or I have to have the right body to be like those girls in the movies, the videos, that seem to get all the attention. Those people seem to have the perfect life.
So we don’t even realize how much we’re brainwashed.
And I mean this. We don’t realize, you and I don’t realize, how much we’re brainwashed by all these images that you’ve seen. You’ve been convinced at a young age that people who look a certain way have all these goodies, that if we could only get into that club it would be the greatest thing. And I think life is slowly kind of chipping away at that I’m going to call it a false belief.
What do you think when you think to yourself wow, my boyfriend, he really loves how I look. And he loves me exactly for who I am. But then you’re putting all this energy into being different. How do you reconcile that in yourself? What do you say to yourself?
Marta: Sometimes I feel embarrassed because I know he really likes me. He likes to touch me. And sometimes when I have this mind set that I need to lose weight, my libido is so low, I don’t even want him to touch me because I just feel why are you touching me? Stop touching me. I don’t feel like doing anything. Just go away. I just want to read a book and forget everything. It’s so stupid. It’s ridiculous, really. I know it’s wrong. I know it doesn’t make any sense at all. It doesn’t make any sense.
Marc: I agree with you, by the way. It’s kind of dumb. It doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying you’re dumb. What I’m saying is that thought, which you don’t own, you don’t have a patent on that thought, you don’t own it, you didn’t invent it.
But I’m just telling you, Marta, from my experience, I am firmly convinced that there are thoughts and beliefs that are literally like parasites.
They are like viruses. And we catch them because they’re so prevalent. And we become susceptible to catching those viral beliefs, those parasitic beliefs. And once we catch the belief, if I only look a certain way, then I’m going to have this great life, what happens is the parasite does or the virus does what all bad organisms like that do, which is they slowly suck your energy. They make you sick.
But sick in this case means I don’t really like myself. I’m pushing away my relationship. I’m draining a lot of energy. I don’t like myself. I look in the mirror. I have negative self-talk. And I’m calling that sick. I’m calling that draining our energy. And it has us trying all different things and putting our life force into something. And that’s kind of what a virus or parasite does. It drains our energy, but it keeps us alive because if we die, then the virus that’s inside my body doesn’t have any place to go. It dies too. So a parasite or a virus wants to keep you alive. But it wants to live off of you.
So I’m literally saying that these thoughts, which you don’t own, which is not your fault, that we catch from the world, that you’re like so many people, young women and young men and older woman and older men, who catch these things. And I see a conversation like the one we’re in right now as us getting together and having a collective immune response, us being strong together to notice how these things impact us and notice how it drains us, weakens us, limits us, and stops us. Even though a part of us knows it’s crazy, we still want to continue.
I want to point something out, which I think is important. And you’ve already said it, but I just want to highlight it again, how so many people want a good relationship, really. And I don’t know if it’s easier or harder to meet people now than ever before. But it seems like it’s a challenging thing to find people, to find the right person. And it seems like, for now, you’ve really found that.
But when we have perfectionism, it pushes away intimacy. It pushes away connection.
It pushes away love, which is sort of the thing we want because well, if I have the perfect body, then I’ll have more intimacy and connection and love. And these people will love me. They’ll go hey look, here’s Marta. She’s so beautiful. We love you. But you kind of have that, and you push it away. And I want to say to you that long term, I watch women and men who are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. And they’re still pushing away relationships and pushing away intimacy because I’m not perfect. I don’t have the perfect weight. I don’t eat perfectly. And they’re more in relationship with their perfectionism than they are with people because it’s a very intense relationship. You have to put a lot of energy into the relationship with being perfect. It’s a full time job, kind of.
Marta: Exactly. No, I feel it. And it’s just makes me sad. I’m the kind of person that people will actually say, “But you have a good body. I like you. You look really good.” And I’ll say, “No, are you crazy? Look at me. I’m terrible. Oh, come on.” And that’s what I wanted. And at the same time I’m pushing things away. I understand that I’m… and I’m not saying things right. It’s so hard to actually get rid of this. It’s so hard.
Marc: So I’m with you. It’s very hard. It’s very hard because as you just said, it’s not happening. I don’t know how to do it. If you did know how to do it, you probably would’ve done it already. And we wouldn’t be in this conversation. So I think that’s a good place to just hang for a moment, that this is hard. And usually when something’s hard we kind of have one or two or three, maybe, responses, which is we just pull back, and we stop working in that area because it’s too hard.
So it’s almost easier to have your obsession than to try to rise above it.
So that’s one thing we often do. Or we try to deal with it as best we can, whatever we do. We get a little help, some coaching, some counseling. We read books. We get online. We just try to help ourselves in some way. Or we go sort of halfway. Oh, let me see if I can let go of this, but not really. So what I’m saying is that it’s hard work to let go of it.
And this is your work. And this is your work. This is your task. And it’s not going to be easy. But if you can find the place where you start to believe, based on your observations and your fact gathering… because here’s what happens. At some point, Marta, the logical mind has to come into play. The logical mind has to start coming into play. You have to be like a Sherlock Holmes.
And you observe things. And you go okay, wait a second.
I am now noticing people who have perfect body, perfect shape. And they’re not happy.
In fact, maybe they’re unhappy. In fact, maybe they’re miserable. In fact, maybe they’re alone. I meet them too. Some of them are suicidal. Some of them have killed themselves. You read stories of famous actresses, famous models, who have miserable lives.
So there’s all kinds of proof out there that just because people have what we think is perfect doesn’t mean that everything is better, and they’ve got this great life. So you’ve already seen some proof. At some point your experiment will be ready for a conclusion, meaning Marta’s experiment called let me try to have the perfect body, let me do what I need to do. I’m going to read books. I’m going to get online. I’m going to do these diets. I’m going to exercise. I’m going to work out. I’m going to try to get there.
Maybe you’ll actually get there. Maybe you won’t. Regardless, at some point you’re going to gather enough data, and my very educated guess is you’re going to go, “Wait a second. This doesn’t work. It’s not working for them. And it’s not working for me.” And then at that point we have to let go of the dream because the dream becomes so attractive because we think we’re going to win the lottery.
And everything’s going to be great. And my life will never have problems again. And Marta, I’m telling you, I’ve not met that person. And I’ve been around the planet a lot longer than you have. And I hang around such people. And I’ve never met the person who said to me, “And then I got the perfect body and the perfect looks. And everything was fine. And I lived happily ever after.” It doesn’t happen.
So you might have to play this out for a while, and I really mean that, until you get and you decide in your own skin, wait a second, I’m going to start claiming my power in a different way. Because what you really want is your power. You want to be a confident woman in the world. You want to be a woman who, when you walk down the street, sure, people notice you. But I’m going to tell you, there are a lot of people who get noticed, men and women who don’t necessarily get noticed because they have perfection. They get noticed because they’re empowered. They get noticed because they’re glowing.
Let me ask you this. Can you think of anybody– let’s think in terms of women. I don’t care, whatever age group, 25 on up. Have you ever met a women, let’s say, in her 40s or 50s or 60s who doesn’t have the perfect body or perfect looks in terms of Hollywood, but there was something about their presence or their glow that, really, you had to look at them; you were really drawn to them?
Marta: Yes, in my family, actually. Yes, there’s an aunt I have. She really gets the attention. I don’t think she believes she’s got the perfect body. But she’s very confident. She has a really big presence everywhere she goes. It’s amazing.
Marc: How old is she?
Marta: I’m going to throw a wild guess here, 55?
Marc: 55. And so what do you think it’s about her? You said she has a confidence. What else?
Marta: She has a very strong personality. She has her own opinions. She is not afraid to tell anyone whatever she thinks about. It’s really amazing. She’s her own person. She doesn’t seem to be conditioned by anything. I think that’s what causes me to actually admire her. And that’s probably what gets the attention, is just she is who she is.
Interesting. So she’s not trying to be somebody else. And she’s very comfortable being who she is.
And people are magnetized to her, interesting. And she’s 55, interesting. Anybody else come to mind?
Marta: Not at the moment.
Marc: Okay, but that’s a good place to hang for a moment. I think this is a very fascinating example because it’s somebody from your own family, somebody who’s not 25 years old and working out at the gym all the time. And there’s your role model because I’m going to tell you, I also meet people like that, women and men, who are magnetic because of who they are and what they radiate. And you can meet women of any age group, of any level of body type and looks, and the ones who are most radiant and noticeable are so often the ones who have themselves and who know who they are.
There’s a certain switch that gets turn on, particularly for a woman. There’s a certain switch that gets turned on when she’s made contact with herself in a whole different way. And she knows who she is. And I’m going to tell you, men are very magnetized towards that. Men love that.
I remember I was 17 years old. I went out with a bunch of guys, a bunch of my guy friends. And we went out to some dance club. And we all had fake IDs, so we were able to get in. And everybody was older. And this group of girls walked into the dance club. And in this group of girls there might’ve been four or five of them.
One of them was a girl that we might consider big, that people might consider a little fat. And one of them was a girl that people might consider classic Hollywood hot. And as soon as they walked in, all of us guys were looking at the classic Hollywood hot girl and were talking about her. Now all of a sudden the next song comes on. And all of the girls get out on the dance floor, that group of girls. And the girl who was the large girl, she was the most unbelievable dancer any of us had ever seen. It was incredible. She was sexy. She was in her body.
The girl that we thought was hot, she couldn’t dance. She couldn’t move. She was uncomfortable. And for the rest of the evening, we’re all talking about this big girl and how sexy she was and how hot she was. And it blew my mind. It literally changed my brain because I had been conditioned, as a young man, to think this is nice. This is not nice.
And the lesson I learned that day is that when we’re embodied, there’s a beauty that comes out of us.
The girl who I was labeling as fat and unattractive was actually unbelievably in her body. And she knew who she was. She was confident. All eyes were on her.
So what I am saying is, you know something? If a guy is not looking at you because you don’t look a certain way, just not interested. If people are looking at you in a negative way, you don’t want to have them in your world. They’re not worth it. The people that notice you and are drawn to you for who you are and what you radiate, those are the people you’re more interested in as friends, as people you pass by on the street.
So again I want to say, your job as a person, as a woman, is to embody because here you are, and you’re young. And you’re attractive. And you’re not fully able to enjoy right now the fruits of that. How many times do you hear men or women saying God, I wish I was 20 something again. And when you’re 50 and 60, you might look at pictures of you now. You’re going to look back now and go man, what was I thinking? You’re going to bang your head against a wall. And I’ve had women do this. I’ve spoken to women who will tell me, “I look at pictures when I was young, and I thought I was fat. And I thought I had to change. And I had to lose weight. And what was I thinking?
So part of it is we literally, and literally I mean this, don’t see clearly when we’re clouded by the parasite of perfectionism. That’s what I want to say. We don’t actually see clearly, which is why when you say to me, “I see the same person when I look at my body now,” you’re actually right. You do see the same person, even though you’re different. But you do see that person. So part of it is you’re training yourself to see better. Really, it’s as simple as that.
It’s like we’ve got to help you put on the right kind of glasses so you see the world for what it actually is, not how you’ve been a little blinded by what we’ve been taught by culture.
So what do you think? I’m busy yakking away here. What do you think is going to help you see more clearly?
Marta: I don’t know. I was [inaudible] that I needed to find my own power. I think I need that. I need to find out who I really am so that I can stop worrying about how I look and just be what I am, really, because I have this new power. But I think that only comes with continuing to experiment, really, trying new things.
Marc: Yeah, I think it’s true. And I think that’s actually a really good strategy for you. So what I want to say to you is instead of trying to get rid of these thoughts that you have, instead of trying to stop with the food or the trying different diets, or exercise, whatever it is, if you want to continue all that, keep going. Keep experimenting. Keep exploring. And at the same time, and at the same time, this is an and, I want you to start to ask the question, who is the empowered Marta? Who is the real Marta? What’s Marta’s true value? Where else is my power? What else are some of my super powers?
So yeah, have the dieting, and have the exercise, and go for the body that you want if that feels like it’s what you want to do. And I really mean that. And notice what happens. Notice how you feel. Notice how you look. Notice if it’s working for you. Notice if it’s working for your relationship. And then at the same time really ask yourself, who do I want to be in this world, independent of my body?
Okay, I’m working on my body. I’m working on my diet. I’m working on my health. And in addition to that and independent of that, who do I want to be?
So I’m not saying get rid of the body stuff and the fitness stuff and the perfection stuff around that. No, because you’re not going to be able to. But what you can do is you can start to ask the other questions of what else. Who do I want to be? What are my super powers? What do I want my life to look like five years from now? What do I want my life to look like ten years from now? And how would I get there other than having the perfect body? Other than having this perfect body, what am I going to do about my own inner world, about me? How can I be more like my aunt? What would I need to do to really be me and create attention and attraction the way she does?
So it’s asking these other questions, as well, of yourself and kind of letting go of the fight a little bit because I think in that way you’ll start to notice that being the real you slowly becomes more important than having the perfect body. Because the perfect body you’re not going to have for long, even once you have it.
But the real you, you have forever, once you’ve got it. And you have parts of it. And you have pieces of it. And we’re all growing. We’re all learning. And you’re young. And you’re still growing. And you’re still learning. And you’re still not completely ready to give this one up, which I understand. But you’re getting closer.
I especially want you to keep an eye on your relationship. And I want you to notice how there’s a part of you that pushes away love and intimacy and pleasure and connection because part of being perfect in body is this sense of wow, I’m going to be so loved. And the sex is going to be so hot. It’s just going to be so great. And, well, is it? How do you get there? And we get there by being in our body. We get there by owning this body and inhabiting it and beginning to feel pleasure in it because you can feel pleasure in your body no matter how you look, like tiny little infants.
Look at a little baby. You tickle them; they feel all pleasure. The little baby’s not sitting there going oh no, I can’t feel pleasure until I’m a full grown man, and I’ve got all these muscles, and I’m strong. They don’t care. So we can feel pleasure at any age, at any shape, at any size. So what do you think of all this, Marta? What’s going on in your mind right now?
Marta: I think that’s definitely the way to go. I mean what I started noticing since I started the Eating Psychology Program is that really what happens is I have these moments where I’m really focused on trying to be the person I want to be or the person who I am or trying to achieve my dream. And on those moments I feel fine. I feel great. I’m awesome. And then, because, I don’t know, something just comes into mind, and I start going down again and starting to be the shy girl who can’t achieve anything.
She needs to lose weight to be the person she needs to be. So I think I’m in the middle. And that’s the difficult part. But I really want to do this because I don’t want to end a relationship that is so good. And he doesn’t deserve that. I don’t deserve that. I don’t want to send him away just because I don’t want to be touched at that moment. I want to be touched all the time.
I want to feel I deserve to be touched all the time. It’s not fair on myself.
Marc: It’s not fair on yourself because that kind of connection and that kind of touch and love and intimacy, it’s so beautiful. It’s wonderful. It’s healing. It makes you feel good. It literally is healing for the body. It’s good for our health. It’s so good on every level. And I think that that’s a really interesting place for you to focus because you have a very sweet young man in your life. And he loves you and cares about you.
And it’s a place where you can explore being uncomfortable. There are going to be times when you’re uncomfortable being touched.
And what would help you be with that discomfort and maybe even move through it a little bit?
How can you set up a scenario where you have a date, and you’re inside? Maybe you have some wine that helps you loosen up. I don’t know. Whatever you need to do, whether it’s music, where you set it up, where it’s a date night for you and your boyfriend. So it’s your time together. There are no distractions. There’s no TV. There are no cell phones. And it’s just you and him. And you allow yourself the discomfort if it’s there.
But you commit to yourself to trying to lean into that edge a little more because what’s going to help you feel more comfortable in your own skin and in your own body is leaning into your edges, is pushing your envelope a little bit there, is putting yourself in a situation that technically might feel uncomfortable but is actually very safe. He’s safe. It’s not like he’s some random guy that you’re going out on one date with. No, this is a person you live with. So I’m saying it’s a great place to push your edge because then you’ll really learn about yourself. You’ll really learn about yourself. And you’ll see that it’s all about you feeling like you deserve it. But in order to feel that you have to fall in love just a little bit with your own body. And sometimes to fall in love a little more with your own body it helps to have a little help. So if you have somebody that’s loving your body more than you do, hey, is that such a bad thing?
Marta: No, he says that I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. He doesn’t understand. When I first told him about all my doubts about everything, he was completely overwhelmed. He just couldn’t think why. Why?
Marc: And just so you know, Marta, this is a difference between men and women, oftentimes. Yes, there are definitely a subclass, a subcategory, of men who get very uptight and sensitive about their body. And you can’t go near them. You can’t touch them. But by and large, men don’t understand that, when a beautiful woman or a woman that a man finds beautiful is saying I’m not beautiful, no, men just don’t get it because they’re just like get over it.
It’s all okay because they don’t have the feminine mind. They aren’t raised how you have been raised. They don’t have the same messages aimed at them that you do. They have different messages. So there are other messages men get that limit them and distort them and harm them. Women have the particular programming that’s aimed at them from images and from media and from the people that make the movies and make the videos.
So all I want to say is this is a great place for you to do some homework. And this is a great place for you to do some learning. And it could be a little bit intense sometimes. It could be uncomfortable. But that’s what I think would be a really great strategy for you because it’s about learning how to be in your body more as opposed to doing something to your body.
So doing something to my body means I’m going to make this body perfect. I’m going to diet it, exercise it. It’s kind of like a dog. I’m going to walk my dog. I’m going to feed my… I’m going to do these things to the little animal. And when I do the right things, finally, then I will love this little animal. So no, it’s not about doing things to it. Just play with the dog. Have a good walk. Pet the dog.
Get accustomed to inhabiting your body in the same way you imagine you would inhabit it if it was all good and perfect.
Marta: I will try, definitely, especially that romantic dinner. It seems like a good idea.
Marc: Yeah, and really dialogue with your boyfriend, that okay, how are we going to do this. How are we going to have an evening where we help me, Marta, get a little more comfortable and go to my edge, and where I maybe move a little bit past some of those discomforts and fears? And in order to do that, I’m just going to recommend that you be really specific and you be really slow and you say what works and you say what doesn’t.
And you just make it fun. Make it a game. Invent an experience together beforehand that you say oh, yeah, we can do that. That might work. And then see what happens so you make it fun. And you make it an exploration that is meaningful and that’s interesting and that you can laugh at yourself. You don’t have to take it so seriously.
That’s what’s bad about being a perfectionist. You can’t make fun of yourself, can you, because you’re trying to get perfect?
Marc: Exactly. Exactly. So you’re learning to make fun of yourself. You’re learning to be a little messy. And you’re learning to be not perfect. That’s what’s happening here.
Marta: I started, recently, to try and accept compliments, which already is a hard thing for me to do because I always tend to answer back with something like no. But okay, so now I’m just saying thank you and trying to move on from that.
Marc: Good for you.
Marta: It’s an experience. It’s going okay. And the thing I’m trying now with eating psychology is a bit of what you said. Since I can’t go against my obsessions, what I think is at least I’m going to use my obsessions with me. So I think I’m learning so much about food and about healthy lifestyle, I might teach it to other people. And I’m really excited about that because I’m using my obsession for something else, that it’s not me.
Marc: And that’s a great thing. And that’s why I’m saying for now, take advantage of it. And don’t diminish this obsession because as obsessions go, it’s a healthy one. And you’ll more and more and more turn it around and make it really work for you. And right now you’re still in development. You’re still finding yourself because that’s the age and life stage that you’re at. I’m going to guess that by the time you hit 30, you’re going to feel so differently than you do now, and way more positive. And there will be successes from now up until then. But there’s just going to be a phase where you need to really gather more information for yourself. And you need to keep doing what you’re doing. And notice what works and what doesn’t. Notice what you’re getting sick of. And slowly lean into edges. When I say lean into edges, oh, intimate touch with my boyfriend can feel uncomfortable because I’m not perfect, and I just don’t want to be touched. Get away from me. Huh, wait a second. That’s not healthy. Let me see if I can work that one a bit.
So this is the work. But honestly, as work goes, that’s some pretty damn good work to have to do. I could think of worse experiments to have. So I think it’s good to be a little patient with yourself because these things take time. And I think you have the right ingredients right now. I think you have the right attitude. And you have the right understanding. And I get that you really want to get yourself to a good place. And it’s just going to be time. It’s just going to be a little matter of time for you.
Marta: I think I also needed someone telling me it’s all right to be obsessive about this because I think sometimes I’m the only one thinking so much about this. So thank you for saying I can continue to do it. I don’t think I could stop it anyway.
Marc: No, it’s your passion. You have a passion for it as well. And right now the passion and the obsession kind of mix together. And that’s fine. You’ll separate it out at some point. And you’re slowly doing that. But it’s a beautiful passion. And it’s completely fine. And you’re using it to help yourself. And there are places where you use it to kind of stop yourself a little. But overall, you’re moving forward.
And that’s what’s important. And you’re going to figure it out more and more. So I’m glad that you have found a passion for yourself. And I so want to see you pursuing it and just letting it fill your time and learn whatever it is you want to learn. But always have in the back of your mind how can I use this to set myself free.
How could I use this to serve other people?
Because ultimately it’s about setting ourselves free.
It’s about being the real me. It’s about living the life you’re meant to live. And you have to just watch and measure. Is this setting me free? Or is this creating more handcuffs on my wrists. So you just have to notice that. And like I said, you’ll figure it out because you’re a smart girl.
Marta: Thank you.
Marc: Yeah. Marta, thank you so, so much for being so willing to share and for being so honest and so real. And I just see the day where you’re helping a lot of people. And there’s going to be a time, I’m going to guess, where you’re helping young girls of this age because you’re going to grow through this and really understand what it means to overcome perfectionism and find yourself. So I’m very confident that you’re going to learn some real good things for yourself that will benefit other people as well.
Marta: Thank you very much, Marc.
Marc: You are so welcome. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in once again. Thanks for your time and attention. Once again, I’m Marc David. I’ve been with Marta. And on behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast, lots more to come, my friends. Take care.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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