The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 69: Follow Up – Trauma and Weight Gain: The Hidden Connection

Imagine carrying around 90 extra pounds for a lifetime that was triggered by trauma and abuse ages ago. Imagine exercising and dieting for years in a diligent way and losing almost nothing. What would you do? Can that weight ever come off? Stories like this are more common than most people realize. And when all the traditional approaches fail, it’s time to try some unusual and unexpected approaches. In Kathleen’s first poignant and powerful session, Marc David helped her to learn some unique and unusual weight loss strategies that are unlike anything you might have ever imagined. Tune in now as Marc does a follow-up session with Kathleen. You’ll get a chance to see how she’s progressed since her first session, and the results are remarkable!


Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

To see Kathleen’s first session with Marc, click here

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 with Kathleen. Welcome, Kathleen.

Kathleen: Thanks, Mark. Good to be back again.

Marc: Yeah, same here. And we met, gosh, I think it was seven or eight months ago. It was one of my favorite conversations and sessions. Maybe that’s just because you’re you. And we had a good connection.

So for those of you who are new to the podcast or even if you’re not new, this is a follow-up session. And we’re going to just check in with you, Kathleen, and just see how that session work for you? What happened? And why don’t you fill people in first on your reason for wanting to meet and what you wanted to work on and how that panned out for you?

Kathleen: Yeah, so my initial need for wanting to meet was to, I guess, see if there was something I was missing that I couldn’t put my finger on myself because I wanted to lose weight. And in my experience, no amount of diet or exercise was going to make any difference to that. I’ve tried all that.

And having done the coaching certification, I just felt there was something that I was too close to to be able to identify myself. So I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity to meet with you and learn something for myself, but also hopefully help other people out there, as well. So that was the initial reason for wanting to have the session with you.

And since that session, or even during that session, I had a shift—and it was physical—when you were talking about the understanding of where my body first learned to hang on to the weight through stress and through that traumatic experience as a child with sexual abuse. But when you explained how my body learned that habit from that point on and then was reinforced with every stressful situation after that to hang on to the weight, it just all made sense. And, for me, when you said that, I had a bubble just go right up the middle of myself. So I knew that was the key for me.

So I set about and did all of the letters that you gave me to do for homework, which I enjoyed that because I do love to write. And through the personal development training that I’ve been involved with over the last nearly 20 years, that’s involved in lot of writing very similar to what you sent to me, the homework tasks to do.

What was interesting about that as I went through writing my letters to each and every brother talking about the sexual abuse with each of them, as I went through, it has less power. I can’t have almost gotten sick of talking about it, to be honest. But I could feel the energy of it just dissolving like it just totally lost its power over me.

The final spiritual letter from John’s soul back to me took a lot longer. But I get it. I get that it is about soul agreements. And, for me, he’s given me what I’ve asked for. And that’s not to say that what he did with the way he did it was okay. But I understand that was the best he could do with what he knew and because it’s not on this conscious plane as such, but more as soul agreements, he gave me everything that I asked for.

And he gave me everything that I needed because without that and all the lessons that have followed to reinforce that same message, I’ve had to learn to be my own best friend, be totally dependent on myself, and, above all, love myself no matter what. So had I not had that experience, I wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation now.

I wouldn’t have learned what I learned about myself. And I wouldn’t have that self-love that I’ve got for myself because I just wouldn’t have had the need to have it because I didn’t get that as a child. And because I was always seeking it, I’ve now come to understand that I was just supported to be there for myself no matter what.

So it’s an interesting concept to get your head around that, yes, I attracted it. But, no, I didn’t put my hand up and ask for it in that way. If I had my time over, I’d have it again because I just can’t put enough value on how I feel about being able to love myself to this level because it’s the key to everything. It’s that foundation of being healthy on every level. But if you don’t have that self-love and self-acceptance, then everything else starts to fall apart.

And even though I am married and in that relationship, that’s also a reminder to me that even within the relationship, you still can’t depend on the other person to give you those things that we need to give ourselves. And it’s been a trap because I was in a really good place when I first met Pete as far as my self-esteem and myself love. But trying to protect that sense of self when you’re in a relationship and sharing all the time, it’s a challenge to not just unconsciously have expectations of somebody else to give something back. And I’m often reminded of that. And I’m grateful for that because at the end of the day, if I’m not happy, that’s my problem, not somebody else’s.

Marc: How have you been feeling in your body since our session? Is anything different? Same?

Kathleen: It’s different. My body is responding differently. It’s difficult to explain or describe it. But probably within a week, I noticed that my body, physically to feel my body, the fat felt softer. It was like there wasn’t this strong resistance over my body. So already I felt like the weight was already starting to rumble and move in ways that it’s never felt before.

I took up yoga. And it’s the ashtanga yoga. And from the very first session, I knew that that was what I needed to keep doing. My body literally says thank you every time I finish. And some days I don’t even feel like being there once I’m there. But because of the breath work that goes with it, you focus less on the physical. And it just all starts to happen. Within minutes, I’m just feeling a whole lot better. But compared to doing gym exercise, my body is definitely saying, “Yes, I love this. Thank you. Don’t put me on a treadmill again.”

Marc: Yeah, when we finally do the kind of movement that really speaks to us and speaks to our body and the kind of movement that involves breath and involves a sense of embodiment—“I’m getting into my body. I’m feeling it. I’m figuring it out”—that’s a huge victory.

I’ve noticed this, that a lot of people who want to lose weight and they’ve been trying to do it forever and if the weight that they’re carrying around, the weight you’ve been carrying is not about food. Maybe food helped it get there. But the weight, for you, I’m pretty convinced is just a brilliant form of protection. And when I say brilliant, I mean that because your nervous system figured out, “We’ve got to protect ourselves here.” And the way a small person figures out how to protect themselves is they get tougher, harder, and bigger as best as possible. It makes a female or male less of a sexual target.

And the mind kind of unconsciously figures that out. So the antidote is to start to realize that, “I’m safe.” The world is never perfectly safe. But right now you are as safe as to ever be. It’s okay now. We can relax. “I can take care of myself. I can love myself. I’m okay. I’m not in that crazy situation anymore.” So when we give our body the signal, “You can relax,” like you said, “Oh, my fat doesn’t feel hard,” yeah, we start to relax. And then our natural metabolism slowly comes back. That’s what I’ve noticed.

Kathleen: Yeah, and I’ve noticed that, as well, that often I might think I want to eat one thing. But really when I ask myself, “What do I really feel like now?” it’s going to be something different. And listening to it, just the more I listen to my body and what it wants and give it what it wants, the more it responds differently and that digestion and metabolism all feels different. It’s like I’m in this open relationship with this thing called my body.

It’s almost like two people where we sort of run and we communicate. It’s really interesting how it’s all come about and responded. And, yeah, I can’t say enough at the moment how grateful I am for all this extra weight that I’ve carried because I can now see the benefits and what it’s taught me, the people that it’s connected me with all over the world because of just different networks and through the study and also with following things like the Gabriel method. I’m just having a great time.

And I’ve really got my weight and my excess fat that I’ve carried to thank for that because without it, I wouldn’t have been continually questioning, “Well, why is it still here?”

Marc: I think you’re describing the fine arts and science of being a mature human being who uses life opportunities and life experiences to grow. The good ones, the bad ones, the ugly ones, I wish it was different. But humans, in large part, tend to learn and grow through struggle and through hardship and through pain and through suffering and through crazy nonsense that happens to us.

We could either become victims. We could either fall prey. We could either become apathetic or continue whatever harm was done to us. We often then kind of introject that harm. So if somebody harmed me, “Well, I’m going to just keep harming myself then because apparently that’s what we’re supposed to do.” And we often embark on a life where we are torturing ourselves in our mind and torturing ourselves with food and torturing our own body and hating on it. And you’ve turned that around in a huge way.

And, in fact, to me, you’re so many steps ahead of so many people even who aren’t trying to lose weight. But they still haven’t found the place where they are in partnership with their body. And being in partnership with the body is kind of fascinating. Once you get into it, you realize, “Oh, my goodness. I don’t have to be hating this body that I’m in. Yeah, okay, I might want to change it. I might want it to look different. But, man, is it interesting. And there’s all these cool things going on. And there’s all these learning opportunities.” And you’ve really tapped into that. Congratulations.

Kathleen: Thank you. Yeah, I guess I’ve always—and I don’t know why or where from—but I’ve always question. I’ve always wanted to understand if something is the way it is, whether I like it or not, why it’s that way. And despite even being punished at school for questioning why all the time, I never stopped asking.

And I guess I’ve also seen victims within and outside of my family. And I couldn’t see the point. There’s been times in my life, like John, I’ve considered suicide. It’s finding that purpose to keep questioning why because I just have this craving, I guess, to always understand why things are the way they are and whether it can be different.

And I’ve seen people live the life of being the victim. And it doesn’t look fun for me. Living in that constant pain and controlled by it when it’s really us that can change it—it’s got nothing to do with anybody else—it just made sense to me that if I’m going to stay here, then I might as well have a good time and make the most of it and learn as much as I can. So, yeah.

And the other thing that’s interesting or has helped is I was told about the book The Little Soul in the Sun. And that’s where I’ve come to understand that whole concept of soul agreements and what we’re here to learn and why we attract or choose the family that we choose because they seem to be where we get our initial learning. Yeah.

And for a lot of people that I share it with, it’s kind of a concept that’s a bit out there and a bit weird. But it’s working for me.

Marc: Yeah, well, I want to just mention for listeners and viewers, the idea of soul contracts, the concept is that we’re more than a body and were more than a bunch of molecules that randomly slam together. And there’s a greater intelligence behind it all and that before we incarnate, the we that we are exists somewhere in a more subtle realm, a more rarefied realm—call it the soul realm for lack of a better term—and before we come down to this planet and do our thing and because we are going to be, there’s a little bit of orchestration involved in that. There’s agreements.

Or we might make contracts that have certain experiences that we are going to do and learn and grow. And it doesn’t necessarily mean every little thing is predetermined. But there might be some things that we’ve agreed to that’s going to be on the menu of our life. And some of those agreements are to be in situations that aren’t necessarily easy, that aren’t necessarily fun, and that sometimes might be quite dramatic. So that’s the concept.

And I live by that. I came to that on my own and realized other people were talking about it. Even if that’s not for you, for people listening in, it’s interesting to consider. It’s interesting to consider that there is a greater intelligence that’s guiding things. And is there a higher perspective than, “Woe is me. This horrible shit happened. And I’m screwed. And I’m just going to be hating for the rest of my life for being in pain and suffering or dealing with the consequences.” And there’s a way to go through all that. And soul contracts is a great way to get that.

The author Carolyn Myss also writes about this, as well. She has a few good books. There’s also a book out there called Soul Contracts. I forget who wrote it. So, wow, Kathleen, what a journey it’s been for you.

Kathleen: Yeah, it has. And I’d have to say now that I’m in a position and starting to make a career out of my own life experiences, it’s pretty exciting, as well, because I never even, up to a couple years ago, I wouldn’t have considered that I’d be actually using this experience that I’ve had throughout my life to be able to help other people. And the blessing in that is that I get to reinforce what I believe in, as well, on a daily basis, and hopefully help other people because life is too precious to be sitting around being a victim and having more crap really.

Marc: Bingo. And life is too precious, I also think—and I know you’re saying this; I’m just adding my words—to hate on the body as a way to change it. It’s a dead end.

What I hear you doing is you’re loving the body in a way to let it find its natural place, it’s natural weight. And from that place, only good things can happen really. It’s loving ourselves into an experience, particularly when it comes to the body because there’s so much self-attack against bodies.

We kind of pick that up in the media. It’s floating in the atmosphere as this viral belief: “You should hate your body, judge it, compare it to other people, find yourself coming up short, and just constantly be in a state of I’m not good enough.” Ouch. It’s too hard. There’s a better way.

You’re doing it. And I want to say congratulations again. And I think you’re going to be a huge light for a lot of people in your own life in your own practice. I’m really happy for you.

Kathleen: Yeah, thank you. The other thing I guess I’ve also found interesting for me to get to this point, if I don’t lose more weight, I’m actually okay with that. If this is how I am for the rest of whatever time I’ve got left here, it’s okay. I’m not wanting to change that in order to be happy anymore. I’m healthy. And I’m happy with where I’m at. And if more weight drops away, then, yeah, to me that’s now just become an added bonus.

I’ve spent too much of my life miserable and hating on my body to keep doing it anymore. It just doesn’t get you anywhere. And even to the point now where
I’m even more confident to stand up and speak up against people who fat shame, which previously I would never have done because I was still ashamed of myself.

So just to make the comments to people that make those quick judgments that perhaps some thoughts of compassion for what that person is going through to have to feel their need to eat so much to be that size would be far more beneficial then making all these judgments and assumptions that people who are overweight are lazy, and dumb, and just sit around eating tubs of ice cream all day and pizzas because that’s not the reality.

And even that feels good to be able to just stand up and say, “It’s not helping. It’s not helping the people. And it’s not helping the world for us to keep putting so much shame out there.”

Marc: No, not even close. Not weight hate, not fat shaming, not really shaming about anything really. It doesn’t get us where we want to go. So good for you for really finding that voice and being an inspiration to people. More and more good things are going to come for you. That’s how I feel. So thank you.

Thank you for sharing really openly about your life and your journey and your story because you’ve shared some very personal things in this podcast. And, to me, that takes a lot of courage. And I know you did it from a place of wanting to share your story so other people might get inspired by it. And I’m inspired by it hugely. So thank you, thank you, thank you, Kathleen, really.

Kathleen: Oh, and thank you, Marc, because you put the opportunity out there. And I’m just so grateful to have had this opportunity to work through for myself and to get to this point. And it’s connected all the dots for me from now right back to the beginning of my time and different things I’ve experienced in my life and different memories I have of just even statements that people have made. And it’s all connected up now. And it’s a good feeling. And it’s a good place to be. But, yeah, without you giving these opportunities and the work that you guys do, it wouldn’t be possible. So, yeah, I’m grateful for that.

Marc: Thank you so much. So let’s wrap up.

Kathleen: Okay.

Marc: Thanks, everybody. Thank you for tuning in. Thanks, Kathleen. Once again I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. As always there’s going to be lots more to come, my friends. Thank you so much for tuning in. See ya!

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About The Author
Marc David
Founder

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