The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 81: Follow Up: People Pleasing and Weightloss
Michelle had been struggling with her weight for a lifetime, so a recent weight loss of 80 pounds might be expected to leave her thrilled. But instead, she’s constantly worried about gaining it all back, she still obsesses over food, and she still judges herself for what she eats. Michelle wants to let go of this unnecessary stress, but can’t figure it out. In a highly engaging first session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helped Michelle have a breakthrough using some unexpected tricks from Dynamic Eating Psychology. Tune in now as Marc does a follow-up session with Michelle. You’ll get a chance to see the remarkable progress she’s made since her first session!
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
To see Michelle’s first session with Marc, click here
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m back with Michelle. Welcome, Michelle!
Michelle: Thank you!
Marc: So for those of you who are new to the podcast or are still part of the podcast, this is a follow-up session that Michelle and I are doing pretty much months later. It feels like a while ago. And we’re going to just spend 20, 25 minutes just catching up. And how are you doing since we last spoke?
Michelle: Pretty good. Pretty good. I was doing a lot of thinking after our session and the biggest adjustment I had was getting rid of the scale. I think you gave me three months. So that was interesting. But I actually was successful. Since I’ve seen you, I only weighed myself once, which isn’t bad. And that was just out of curiosity – just pure curiosity.
But I’m still struggling a bit with the trusting, trusting my body and trusting that I know what I should be eating and all those things. So I’m still a little bit in that place. But letting go of the scale was huge. It’s putting me in that place of trying to trust my body and trust what’s happening and trust that I know what’s good for me. So I’m still in that place a little bit.
Michelle: I was doing a lot of thinking after our session and the biggest adjustment I had was getting rid of the scale.
Marc: Yeah. Well, thank you for being honest about that. Just to get people caught up, you had had a pretty big weight loss. And what was it? About 80 pounds.
Michelle: 80 pounds, yeah.
Marc: And then what happened was even with the 80-pound weight loss, we would hope that, “Once I get the weight off that I want to get off, then hallelujah. I’m there. And I’m happy.” And you were still concerned. You were concerned you would gain it back and just found your cells still living in that place of being in relationship to your weight even though it’s not there.
Michelle: Totally. I was being hyper-vigilant and thinking, “I can’t have that. I can’t have that. And if I have that one bite, I would gain it all back.” So that panicky feeling all the time, which wasn’t fun. I’m not having that as much.
Marc: So when you talk about trusting your body more, how does that show up? What does that look like for you?
Michelle: I think what it is is, if I do have something I shouldn’t have, it’s listening to… My body tells me. I’ll have that queasy feeling. My body kind of responds in ways that I didn’t know before when I was eating not very good stuff. So it’s just listening to your body. Taking the time and slowing down is huge, actually. Just being really conscious, I think, is a big one for me.
Marc: So do you feel you’ve been able to slow down more and listen more?
Michelle: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think when something is presented — because life is life — and you’re in situations — you kind of go, “Okay, I want that. Or do I want that? Do I really want that?” So I’ve just taken the time to think about, “Is this the best choice for me in the moment? Is this the best choice for my body?” all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, I’m starting to slow down and really be conscious, which is huge.
Marc: So this thing about trusting your body just feels like such a big one. That feels like everything because in a way, it seems like what you’re discovering and what so many of us discovered that we think it’s the weight that’s holding us back.
Marc: Yeah. So this thing about trusting your body just feels like such a big one. That feels like everything because in a way, it seems like what you’re discovering and what so many of us discovered that we think it’s the weight that’s holding us back. But oftentimes even if the weight goes, I’m still here.
Michelle: Totally. And I think the weight, it’s almost like you feel like the weight is holding you back. But actually you’re peeling back the layers. And it feels like the real has come forward. It’s dealing with that. That’s great and everything. But sometimes I think when you’re overweight, you hide. You hide behind that weight.
So I feel like I’ve peeled back those layers. It’s like, “Okay, so this is a whole different way to begin to be more conscious and be more aware.” And you’re really aware, I think. You’re aware that your body shape is different. People notice you more. It’s a totally different way of being. So it’s an adjustment.
Michelle: It’s like, “Okay, so this is a whole different way to begin to be more conscious and be more aware.” And you’re really aware, I think. You’re aware that your body shape is different. People notice you more.
Marc: Let’s get back to this conversation, this topic about not weighing
yourself so much.
Marc: What effect has that had on you?
Michelle: It brings in the whole aspect of trust because if I ate something that wasn’t on the program or whatever, I would immediately weigh myself, just like this mental game of, “Okay, did I gain all the weight back?” And I jump on the scale. And if I was a pound… It was just this cycle. So that’s kind of gone, which has taken a bit of that stress away.
But it’s also put me in a place of, “Okay, I just need to trust. I just need to trust that I know what I know. And I know what’s good for me. I’ve done this long enough now that I know what’s healthy for me and what works for me. And it’s really forced me to get in that place of trusting myself and trusting my body.
Marc: I also hear another word when you say “trust.” And the word is “respect.” Part of it feels like you’re learning how to respect yourself more, as if you are worthy of it. Does that at all ring true for you?
Michelle: Totally. Totally. Actually, yes, when you say that, it totally rings true because it is. You’re respecting your body and listening to it and knowing what’s good for your body, but also for your soul, right? If a cheesecake is in front of me, how am I going to feel physically after that? But also how am I going to feel emotionally? Am I going to feel happy I ate that? And if it’s a yes, then great! But if it’s a no, then I have to respect that. And I have to kind of listen to that.
Marc: I also hear another word when you say “trust.” And the word is “respect.” Part of it feels like you’re learning how to respect yourself more, as if you are worthy of it.
Marc: Are there places in your life where you would say—other than with food and body—that you’re learning to trust and respect yourself more?
Michelle: Yes. I think my whole life, actually. Because we talked a bit about this in our call. But I’m definitely a people pleaser. And I think that was part of my homework was to try and be a little bit more bitchy, excuse the language. But, yeah, so really listening to what I want in a moment because I would often give myself away, I guess, is a good way to put it. I was always last. It was easier for me to say, “No, no, no. I’ll do it,” or say yes when I really
wanted to say no. It’s way easier to do that.
And I gave myself away. So I’m starting to not do that. And I really noticed that in the last I’m starting to just be conscious and go, “You know what? This isn’t what I want.” And that, again, is slowing down and stopping and thinking and feeling and going, “Okay, how do I feel in this moment? And what do I really want?” And I think I forgot how to do that, which is sad.
Marc: Well, I remember that part of our conversation very well because I’ve noticed over the years that a lot of times…And this is especially for people who are carrying more weight than they want to carry around, people who think they’re fat or who are trying to deal with, “Okay, I’m fatter than everybody else. What do I do with this?”
And it’s easy from that place, if we think there’s something wrong with my body and my weight, it’s easy to become a people pleaser. It’s easy because, “Well, okay. I may be fat and not worthy. But if I’m really pleasing everybody, then feel like me” because there’s a lot of weight hate going on out there.
So I’m wondering how that’s been for you to let go of the people pleasing a little bit. Easy? Hard? Fun? Difficult? What?
Michelle: Difficult because—and I’ll say it is because it still happens—it’s automatic. It’s an automatic thing because I think I’ve done it for so long. So, yeah. And I’ll start to feel now, “You know what? If I say yes to something that I don’t want to, it feels just not right inside.” So I’m like, “Okay, something’s not right. I need to just take a minute and go, ‘What do I really want?’”
So it’s hard to do that, though, because I’ve been doing it for probably my whole life. So it’s difficult.
Marc: So what do you notice in the moments that you make the choices that are really right for you and in the moments where you catch yourself before you fall into the people pleasing hole? Have you noticed that? Have you noticed, “Oh, wow. I didn’t fall into that hole. And here’s what happens.”
Michelle: I had an experience. And I followed what I wanted to do. And I just felt this sense of grounding, like a sense of peace.
Michelle: Yeah, actually, I had an experience over the weekend. I had an experience. And I followed what I wanted to do. And I just felt this sense of grounding, like a sense of peace. I walked away from that situation going, “I could have done that. I could have followed what everybody else was doing.” And the pressure was there. But I didn’t. And actually it turned out quite positive. And that there was a piece of me going, “This is really strange” because normally I would have just gone along with whatever was going on.
But I felt really good. I felt good about myself. And I felt good about how things turned out. There was just a real sense of groundedness and a sense of, “Okay, I’m totally at peace with this.” And I had to let go of what everyone else was thinking. It’s like, “It’s none of my business. It’s not of my business what they’re thinking.” So, yeah, it’s good.
Marc: It’s kind of like a load gets lifted.
Michelle: Totally. Totally. And a sense of peace like, “That’s not mine. That’s not for me to deal with.” Right?
Marc: You know what this reminds me of? Talking about a load getting lifted, how many times in life have any of us had that experience where we’ve been carrying something emotionally or we’ve been carrying something and you let it go and you feel lighter.
I think what can happen to a lot of us is we really feel heavy because of these artificial loads that we’re carrying around, whether we have extra weight or not. There can be a sense of heaviness. And sometimes we are heavy because there’s heavy stuff going on in my life that I have no control over. And sometimes we’re feeling heavy because we’re just piling on ourselves just a lot of nonsense.
Michelle: Yeah, totally. Totally. And you think outwardly when you lose the weight, that’s all going to go away and confetti is going to fall from the sky and everything is going to be perfect. And that’s not necessarily the case, right? So it is.
And I had to do a lot of inner work before I lost the weight, a lot of work. It had nothing to do with the weight. It was just stuff I had to work through. And I still am working through it. So I definitely see that connection of carrying a lot of stuff and just your body just puts it on. I don’t know. It’s a weird thing, a weird phenomenon.
Marc: I’m thinking of a line from Daoism where they say essentially everything is about unlearning. A lot of times we think we need to learn new stuff, learn new stuff, learn new stuff. And, yeah, we do. But so much of our learning is really unlearning.
Marc: A lot of times we think we need to learn new stuff, learn new stuff, learn new stuff. And, yeah, we do. But so much of our learning is really unlearning.
Michelle: Yeah, totally. Oh, my gosh. Absolutely. Yeah. And I’m still unlearning. The people pleasing one is a big one. So, yeah.
Marc: And I’m appreciating this about you right now how, to me, you’re getting or maybe you’ve known for a long time that this is a journey. And we’re a work in progress. And I just want to affirm for you here we are talking specifically on the one hand about weight loss and weight. And what you’ve discovered in your weight loss journey is that it’s not just about the weight. Here I am, 80 pound weight loss, the confetti should be flying. But it’s not that. And it’s never quite what we think.
And, to me, we can’t sweep our life under the rug. We can’t sweep our emotional life. We can’t sweep the things under the rug that really need our attention and that are wanting to grow and evolve and change in us. That’s the work. The work is not weighing myself and losing a pound.
Michelle: No! That’s actually kind of in a way—I hate to even say it—but it’s almost the easy part because it’s like okay, meal plan, eating. That’s kind of the easy part because the other stuff is where the real work is, to me.
Marc: And it tends to be the place where we don’t want to go, especially in the weight loss universe because, “Just tell me what to do so I can lose the weight.” And, yeah, for some people, there’s nutritional tweaks and changes they can make and they’ll lose weight, perhaps. But the weight loss journey is different for each one of us. And I just hear you really embracing your journey and what it means for you. It’s going to mean different things for different people.
And for you, it sounds like this ongoing journey around trusting yourself
And respecting yourself and just stepping into being a woman with capital W.
Michelle: Yeah, for sure. And I’m not bringing the scale back. [Laughs] In reality there’s no point because it is about that. It is about respecting that I know when trusting that I know what’s good for me.
Marc: Yeah, because if you don’t do it for you, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much people are loving you up and respecting you if you’re looking in the mirror going, “I hate this. I hate this. This is no good. It’s not enough.” We’re never going to have that feeling that we want.
Michelle: No, no. No, absolutely not. Yeah.
Marc: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with us about your journey or where you’re headed?
Michelle: No. I just want to thank you. I want to thank you for your insight and for your help and your nudging to get rid of that scale and take that stress away. And, if anything, I hope people listening would learn that that brings stress. That brings a lot of stuff, that scale business. And I think we attach so much to that number. And, for me, it’s becoming less and less important. So I want to thank you for that and thank you for taking the time to help me.
Marc: Yay! My pleasure! It’s a great thing when we get to watch each other let go of our shackles and let go of the handcuffs and just be the person who we are. What better thing to do with our time?
Michelle: Totally, totally. Yeah. Thank you so much.
Marc: Thank you, Michelle. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David on behalf of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. I’ve been with Michelle. This is the Psychology of Eating podcast. If you didn’t see the first session with her, you should check it out and get a sense of how far this lady has come.
You feel more fresh. You feel more relaxed and open. So that’s a good thing.
Michelle: Yeah. Thank you.
Marc: All right. Thank you. Take care, everybody.
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