Shalom has dealt with weight issues for two decades, and has gained and lost hundreds of pounds over the years. He struggles to feel comfortable in his body, and fears that he will not be able to find anyone to love (or anyone who can love him back) until he is able to lose the excess weight. He is very knowledgeable about nutrition, and he gets so much enjoyment from food that he has a hard time limiting himself in any way – but he’s ready for a change. Tune in as Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helps Shalom see more clearly how he can change his relationship to pleasure, and his relationship to himself, so that he can finally start to feel empowered around food, life, and love.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
To see Shalom’s first session with Marc, click here!
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m here today with Shalom. Welcome, Shalom.
Shalom: Hey, Marc. How are you?
Marc: I’m doing good. I’m glad you’re back. For those of you who are new to the podcast, Shalom and myself, this is our follow up session. So we met many months ago. And here we are just kind of checking in and seeing how you’re doing.
So I would just love for you to fill in for viewers what were the key things that you had wanted to work on when we first met and then kind of how you’ve been doing since then, just what your weather report is.
Shalom: Yeah. So my main issue is with excess weight. So my height is around 175 centimeters. And I weigh around 120 kilos. More specifically, I’ve gained around 20 kilos in the last year or so. My shape is really bad also. And I need to improve the way I eat and exercise more regularly and just lose some weight and stuff like that.
Unfortunately, since our last meeting, nothing really changed. Actually, I think I might have even gained some weight. I am still not sure what is the correct way for me to eat. I keep going back and forth between trying to find something that could work for long term and trying to work with this.
But then when you say that you want to eat, let’s say, 80 percent healthy and 20 percent whatever you like, it’s very easy to say, “Okay, so let’s do it 70 today. Or maybe 60 is not so bad. Let’s continue tomorrow.”
And then all of a sudden you lose one kilo, let’s say, but then you gain two because you don’t go with it. Same goes if I try to do some sort of detox, let’s say Mark Hyman’s Ten-Day Detox. So it worked for me once. I lost a lot of weight. But then after that I gained it all back.
I’ve been trying intermittent fasting. I fasted, actually, for five days. I actually had issues with my gut. And the fast really helped me. I feel much more better than before the fast even. I’m still eating really, really bad.
And I can definitely feel it when I eat, that some of the things that I felt before returning. But I’m still in a better place than before the fast. And I’ve lost weight. And I’m energetic. And it was an interesting experience, I have to say.
So I’m thinking maybe I should do it like, I don’t know, fast one day once a week or something like that – I’m not sure – or every other day. So what happens is that I try one thing. And I’m sure, like yeah, this is going to work. It’s great. But then it fails. And I’m saying, “No, I should really do it the opposite.”
And there’s no one thing that works for long term. And I think there’s always this issue that you try to do one thing, and you’re like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” And then something happens. You’re tired. You’re working hard. There is an event with a lot of great food or whatever. And then you say, “Okay, so just this day. And tomorrow I’ll start again.” And years go by.
Marc: So let me ask you this.
How would you feel if you never lost any weight, and it just stayed like this? How would that be for you?
Shalom: Not good. Physically I’m feeling really bad right now. I’m more tired. It’s hard for me even to go two flights of stairs. And it’s something that I didn’t experience for a long time. Even when I was, say, only 12 kilos less, which is still overweight, I was fit. I did have a period where I was overweight, but I was what they call fit and fat.
So I did a lot of aerobics. I ate pretty healthy, maybe a lot sometimes but healthy. So my blood results were all good. And I was in shape. So maybe something like this could work. But where I am right now doesn’t work.
Marc: So what do you think is going to move the needle for you? What do you think is going to move the dial? When you imagine to yourself, “Oh, I think this is what’s going to help me break through,” do you have an imagining, a fantasy that if I can only do this?
Shalom: I’m not sure, but I did notice some commonality now that I did lose a lot of weight before and then gained some back. And when I look back, every time that I got the weight is because something physically happened to me. So the first time that I lost significant weight, I then had some back issues, really severe back issues, which I believe were due to some stress that I had at that time.
And right now, actually, my foot hurt really bad for, I think, over a year. And I’ve been trying a few things. Nothing seems to work. I think it’s in a better place than it was, but it’s still not 100 percent. And that’s limiting me.
So I’m not dancing anymore. And I don’t do long walks and stuff like that. So whenever something physically happens to me where I have pain, I don’t work out. So naturally it can help. Also, it’s also impacting my mood.
Marc: Well let me share a couple of thoughts with you. And what I want to say is it seems like you’re stuck in a holding pattern. And the holding pattern’s been there for a while. And if we look at the whole picture, you gain it; you lose it. You gain it; you lose it. You try things. Maybe they work; maybe they don’t. If they don’t, they don’t. And if they do, they work temporary.
And so you are in the place that I will say so many other people are in. They keep trying stuff. They keep doing things, and they keep doing things, and they keep doing things. By the way, I appreciate you being really honest about where you’re at. Of course I’d love to get on this call with you and you go, “Yes, I feel so great.” At the same time, we’re being real. This is life. And it ain’t always a pretty picture.
So here’s what I want to say to you based on my experience of what happens when people are in this general holding pattern of I tried this; I tried that. It works; it doesn’t work. And if it works, it works temporary. But it always goes back. What I notice when that’s the journey, when that’s the story, is that oftentimes we will put so much energy into the thing that’s going to do it. This is going to do it.
So I’m going to do this diet. I’m going to do this fasting program. And we do it. And we put our energy into it expecting that that one thing is going to do something. So it’s almost like looking for the perfect person and going out and dating anybody.
And okay, this person is going to be it. And this person’s going to be it. And we keep getting disappointed in that person because they show up in the way that they show up. And what I want to say is there’s a piece inside you that wants to shift in order to have a shift.
So it’s not the diets. It’s not the fasting. It’s not any of it. Those are all interesting. They work. They don’t work. I think at the end of the day, for you, it’s about making a choice around practice. It’s a whole different world view. It’s a whole different concept of a daily practice.
So what happens, I think, for you, is you get thrown off real easy. When something doesn’t occur the way you want it to occur, you just get thrown off your horse. You wake up. You don’t feel like you’re in a good mood. You see food that you love. And all of a sudden you’re off your diet.
So you are easily distracted, like many of us. We get easily distracted. Ooh, there’s a shiny nice thing over there. So this is a practice, I believe, in focusing yourself and not getting so distracted. Part of it is, I think, for you, and I shared this with you last time, you have this wonderful desire for immediate gratification. Many of us do. Maybe all of us do. We want immediate gratification. I want what I want when I want it. I want good food now. I want the love now. I want the pleasure now. Whatever it is, I want it now.
And if I think I see it, and I can have it now, I go for it. And I truly believe, and this is very simple in concept but not easy to practice, that you’re learning to delay your gratification. You are learning to postpone gratification in the moment for a long term benefit.
And you haven’t figured out how to close that gap yet. So it’s the difference between a little kid that’s going, “Mommy, give me the ice cream.” And Mommy goes, “I can’t give you ice cream nine times a day. You can only have it once a day.” And you go, “No, but it tastes so good, I want it now.”
So what I believe, for you, is that you have to have a spiritual practice for Shalom called “I need to make this a regimented experience.
And there are going to be moments where I have to delay my gratification.” You don’t like to say no to yourself. That’s just my experience. You don’t like to say no.
Shalom: It’s not that. It’s just I don’t know where to put the limit. You have many things. You could say okay, you can do low carb diet. You can do 80 percent healthy, 20 percent not. So this range of things that you can do confuses me. And I keep going back and forth on where it should be. And I think all this confusion is what’s throwing me off.
Marc: Got it. So that’s why we pick one thing, and we stay with it, for the most part.
Shalom: No matter what?
Marc: Yeah, that’s a good practice for you because you say, “Well, I choose one thing. But how do I know that’s the right thing? And how do I know when to stop?” So there’s the part of you that needs a set of guidelines. But there’s a part of you that totally resists having guidelines. And then you go, “But how do I know?”
So it’s no different than if you go to work, and they tell you you have to be at work at 8 a.m. They set the guideline. You have to be there at 8 a.m. You can’t go, “Well, how do I know it shouldn’t be 9 a.m.? I feel better at 8:30 if I come in. Today I feel better coming in 10:30.”
Shalom: That’s exactly what I do, by the way.
Marc: Yeah, I get it. I get it.
Shalom: You can ask my boss. He’ll tell you.
Marc: Yeah, I believe it, because that’s a part of your personality. And there are benefits to part of your personality. There are ways that it works for you. There are ways that it works for other people. It gives you a sense of flexibility. It gives you the ability to change. It helps you be open minded.
Shalom: It empowers me.
Marc: Say that again.
Shalom: It empowers me.
Marc: Yeah, it empowers you, absolutely.
Shalom: I do whatever I like.
Marc: Exactly. And, on the other side, it is very harmful for you because it disempowers you. And it throws you off. And it has you doing things, especially in relationship with food and body, that you don’t want to do.
So what I am trying to tell you is that inside you, you are like a 20 year old. I know you’re in your 30s, but a part of you is like a 20 year old boy who is first learning I have to play by the rules if I want to get to the next level.
So if you want to be an Olympic athlete, you have to work out at a higher level. If you want to be better at your job, you have to study at a higher level. If you want to make the next bump up to where you want to be with food and body, you have to make a commitment to elevate yourself.
Right now you’re kind of like, “I want to do this, but I want my freedom. I want my freedom to say no, you know something, I’m following these rules. I don’t feel like following them today because I like that piece of cake over there.”
Shalom: I’ll follow them tomorrow.
Marc: Yeah, exactly. So that’s your job. Your job is to begin to see where that pattern doesn’t serve you, where you are looking to elevate your game. And in order to elevate your game, you have to willfully mature yourself. I mean it. You have to willfully mature yourself. You have to be your own inner father and set a rule and a guideline. Otherwise all hell’s going to keep breaking lose.
So what I’m telling you is, it’s all about what is going on in your internal world. It’s all about the dialogue that you have with yourself. And you have to change that dialogue, literally. You have to change the internal conversation because right now the internal conversation on the one hand has you going, “Yeah, but I try all these diets, and they don’t work. And I gain it, and I lose it.”
And then we break it down and we discover why. It’s because there’s this part of you that goes, “Hey, I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it.” And if that’s the case, you can never get where you want to go. So you have to make the choice to say, which is why I asked you, what happens if you never lose the weight? Maybe you don’t want to make this change.
Maybe it is more important for you to eat what you want when you what and not have to follow rules. If that’s the case, I’m fine with that. You just have to live with the consequences. But if you want to make a shift and shape shift your body, then you have to do the kinds of things that take you there and stop fighting against yourself.
Shalom: Yeah, the problem is that it’s not a yes or no question, right? There’s a part of me who wants to do it, and there’s a part of me who wants to eat the cake.
Marc: Yeah, but you have to make it a yes or no question. That’s what I’m saying. You’re debating me around but yeah, it is a yes or no. But it’s not a yes or no. And sure, I agree with that. But you have to make it a yes or no question. You have to set a guideline for yourself.
It would be no different than if you told me, “Yeah, Marc, I’m married. But there are all these other hot people around that I just want to jump in the sack with. And I promised my partner I’d be monogamous, or I should be monogamous. And if I’m not monogamous my partner’s going to leave me. But I want to jump in bed with that one and that one and that one and that one.” And I’m going, “Dude, you want a relationship? You want to be married? Here are the freaking guidelines.”
Shalom: It’s not a good example because I think the statistic is really bad about this. You should come up with something better.
Marc: Oh, no, that was a great example.
Shalom: It means I only have around 40 percent to succeed.
Marc: But you know what I’m saying.
There are guidelines that make things work. And there are things that we do that are going to sabotage it.
If you’re in love, and you’re in a monogamous relationship, and you say, “Honey, you better not sleep with anybody else.” And then your partner says, “Honey, I agree; I won’t.”
You don’t. I love you. You love me, great. And then you go and you start messing around, you’re going to interfere with your relationship. You’re going to harm it. That’s just the way it is. So I’m saying it’s the same with food. You have to understand that if you want to shape shift your body, there are certain guidelines you have to follow.
And if you don’t want to follow them, that’s fine. That’s fine. You want this magic solution where you can have everything you want. You want the weight loss, and you want to have immediate gratification. It’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen, never ever ever.
Shalom: I think something resonated with me, that you said that I have to be my own father. And I think it relates to the way I was brought up because my father was not around so much when I grew up. And I think it also relates to just the way my mother grew me up.
She’s very free willed. It’s very the opposite way she was raised. So she was raised with very strict rules about everything, like what to eat, when to eat, when to go to sleep, everything. And she didn’t like it. So she was trying to raise me and my sister the opposite way, do whatever you want, basically.
And I think for the most part it worked great. I decided everything, but everything was okay. So we were very responsible kids. We didn’t do anything silly. Grades for me at school and everything was great. But I think maybe from the food point of view that didn’t work so much.
Marc: Humans, even though we are created by a higher power, we are relatively unfinished. We come into this world, and we work on ourselves. We grow. We get better. We look in the mirror; we see our faults. We improve upon them. We do work on self. So yeah, you had your upbringing. I had my upbringing. Everybody has the good parts and the deficiencies of their upbringing.
Right now, part of your task is to complete yourself as a man, to complete yourself as a human, to do the work that helps you be more of a mensch, to do the work that helps you be more of a human. And part of that is correcting some of the errors, the mistakes, the goofs, that happened in our life and our upbringing that maybe were out of our control.
So that’s why, what you just said about how you were raised, it makes perfect sense. For boys, for men, when their father’s not around, oftentimes what that means is they missed a certain energy that the father brings, which is traditionally rule, structure, guidelines.
Go here, go there, don’t go there, don’t do this, don’t do that. That’s the function of the father archetype. So you didn’t get a lot of that. And what I’m saying is now you’re at a point in your life where you’re old enough and you’re sharp enough and you’re smart enough to be able to learn that on your own.
It would be no different than if your parents never taught you how to balance your checkbook or do simple math. At some point you’d have to learn it to get by in this world. So at some point you have to learn how to manage your experience with food so it works for you.
And this is more than just about food. This is you learning how to create structure and guidelines for yourself to delay immediate gratification so you can have a better outcome in the future because otherwise we will never grow and evolve.
If we’re always living in the moment, and you’re not making plans for the future for who you want to be, for the house you want to build, for the relationship you want to have, for the kids, for the whatever it is that you’re planning, we have to create a vision. We have to create a plan. And then we have to follow structure and guidelines. You have done that in the places you’ve done that. You’re just not great at it when it comes to food and body. You’re just not great at it.
Shalom: I think I’ve almost never done it, literally almost never done it. Say I had a work place that said you should come at 8 a.m. sharp. And I’ll decide it’s not for me. There’s no way it’s going to happen. I have possibilities; I’ll find something else. The same goes for basically everything. School was the same. But I think I’m lucky in a way that I know how to work around all of this.
Marc: Yeah, I get that about you. And again, it’s a wonderful part of you that goes to the beat of your own drummer. But there’s a dark side to it where you can be an impetulant rebel for no good reason. Okay, you just gave me a rule. I’m going to break that. I don’t care if the light is red. I’m going to go right through it because I need to get where I’m going. Okay, you can go through the red light. It’s fine with me. But there’s a risk there.
So what I’m saying is you have to evolve this part of yourself if you want to get to this next phase of your life. And it’s not just with food. It’s not just with your body. It’s going to affect everything.
It’s going to affect everything, including relationships, including love because you have to step into your maturity if you want to attract the kind of energy you want in your life, if you want to attract the kind of love that I know you want. You have to step up.
Shalom: I’ll tell you what it’s about. I know that you’re right. You’re definitely right. And I understand what you’re saying.
Marc: I know I’m right, too, by the way, yeah.
Shalom: The thing is, when I look at people on the other side of the spectrum, where everything has a guide, and they follow everything, on paper everything looks great. They have a good job. Everything is ticking. It doesn’t look to me like they’re happy. I look at them, and I say, “That’s pathetic because everything is dictated with you.” It doesn’t feel good to me.
Marc: Yeah, but we’re not talking about those people. I’m not talking about the ones that you look at that are following all the rules that are unhappy. I don’t care about those people. I’m caring about you finding a way to follow the rules and guidelines such that you can be happy because I know plenty of people who are following the rules and the guideline of their religion, of their belief system, of their philosophy, of their job, and it’s working for them.
So, yeah, you’re absolutely right. There are people who are miserable. And there are people who are not. So I’m not concerned about the ones who are unhappy. I’m just concerned about you and you finding your way to create a life where you’re following the kind of guidelines that make you happy. That’s all. You’re just picking out examples of people who are following guidelines and they’re not happy. Sure.
Shalom: No, it’s like a part of me feels that just that will make you unhappy by itself.
Marc: Yeah, I know. That’s what it feels like. And there will be moments where it’s hard, for sure. It’s not going to be easy. This, again, is the immediate gratification. What you’re telling me is, if there is one moment where this stuff doesn’t feel good, I don’t want to do it.
Marc: Yeah, you’re just looking for that one I don’t feel good moment. As soon as you touch that I don’t feel good moment, you’re out of there. You’re like, “I ain’t doing this anymore.” And what I’m telling you is, you have to learn how to disregard that trigger because that trigger doesn’t work for you. It’s a knee jerk response. It doesn’t serve you. It’s a habit that your mind does that was input into you somehow years ago.
It’s a habit. It’s almost like feel bad, eat food, feel bad, eat food. I feel bad; I’m eating food.
So a lot of people, as soon as they have a negative emotion, they eat food. Okay, so we have to help them change that because it’s this instinctive response. It’s this immediate gratification that’s built into their system.
So right now, as soon as something feels bad to you, you’re like, “No, I’m not going to do it.” If it feels uncomfortable, you’re like, “No, I’m not going to do it.” And you have this whole philosophical system to back it up. I’m out of here. What I’m saying is, you have to catch yourself.
And you have to realize that you’re shooting yourself in the foot. And your rebellious nature, in that case, does not work for you. It doesn’t get you what you say you want. So there’s a part of you that’s saying, “Here’s what I want.” This whole conversation and the last one we had was all about me trying to help you get what you say you want.
But in order to do that, you have to change. And in order to change, you have to choose to change. Right now you don’t want to choose to do that because it’s a little too much work. It’s a little too much work, a little too hard.
Shalom: No, it’s not just that. I don’t know, there’s a part of me that thinks that just thinking about all the rules, things like should I do this, should I not do this, is it allowed, is it not allowed, just this thought is something that, I don’t know, it’s not good.
Marc: No, it doesn’t appeal to you. So here’s what I want to say, because we have to wrap up. What I want to say is that you have a choice here. And you can keep finding all the reasons why this doesn’t work for me, why I don’t like this. And all I want to say is, your reasons are right. And you still have to transcend them.
You still have to say, “I will do these things in order for me to reach the goal that I want to reach, the bigger goal that I want to reach, which is more important. The bigger goal that I want to reach is more important than my absolute comfort in the moment.”
That’s all. So I just want you to consider that, that there’s a choice that you need to make to literally change how you think about this whole picture. So that’s just something that I think you should kind of meditate on a little bit because you’re right there. You’re right there.
And you just have to make the choice. But you don’t make the choice. You keep going back. And what I’m saying is, there’s a place where you can propel yourself forward. But you have to make that leap. And it’s a leap. It’s going to feel like a leap for you. It’s hard work.
Shalom: It’s scary.
Marc: Yeah, it’s scary. And it’s hard work. There are things in life that are scary, and they’re hard. That is just the way it is. There are other things that are less scary, less hard. Some things are super easy. Some things are super pleasurable. Some things are hard. This is hard. You don’t like hard. You have to learn to enjoy hard more. Then it will be easier to do it. It’s kind of just like getting in there and doing the work.
So it’s going to be work. We cannot avoid the work. Sometimes when you want a new opportunity, when you want a new breakthrough, it’s about work, plain and simple. I wish it was different. I’m with you. I want it to be easy. But it’s not. Sometimes it’s just not easy. This is one of those times.
So, my friend, take a nice deep breath. I know the wheels are spinning for you. I know you want to keep going here. But I just want you to think about some of the things that we said. I really mean that. And think about what it would mean for you to do some hard work. And accept that it’s hard. What would that look like for you? Just kind of contemplate that. Sit with that. Meditate on it. And shoot me and email and let me know what you come up with. Okay?
Shalom: Yeah, are there any specific, I don’t know, exercises that I can do, a way to keep me focused? I’ve been trying to do this with the five-minute journal, if you’re familiar with it. So I’ve been trying to keep track with this and setting expectations to the day and stuff like that. I feel like it’s helping but not enough. Is there any way I can focus myself more around this?
Marc: The best thing I would recommend is find an accountability buddy or an accountability coach, somebody who can keep you on task and be a little bit of a hard nose for you because you need somebody on the other end who’s more head strong than you are.
Otherwise you’re not going to do it. There’s no easy way to do this. You’re going to need a little bit of a taskmaster. You either have to be that for yourself or you have to enroll somebody to play that role for you. So that’s what I’m going to say about that.
Marc: Okay, my friend? Thank you for being so willing. Thanks for being so open and honest and for taking all my abuse here. I appreciate that.
Shalom: I think I abused you more than you abused me.
Marc: Oh, maybe. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast, as always, my friends, there will be lots more to come. You take care.
I hope this was helpful. Thanks for listening to the Psychology of Eating podcast. To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video series at ipe.tips. That’s I for Institute, P for Psychology, E for eating dot tips. You’ll learn about the cutting edge principles of dynamic eating psychology and mind body nutrition that have helped millions of people forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health.
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