Ana, 29, is talking to Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, about her desire to find contentment with her weight. What comes along with this will be a freedom from guilt and anxiety for her. The problem is, Ana is in a battle with herself, often going back and forth daily about thinking “I am who I am and I’m good like this” and “But I also want to lose weight”. As the discussion goes a little deeper, we learn that this guilt around food can actually be traced back to a memory when she was only 2 years old! To help her relax into the journey, Marc invites Ana to befriend herself instead of battling herself. We see a playful shift that will allow her to accept herself, even if she wants to make changes at some point.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everyone, I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We’re back in the Psychology of Eating Podcast. And I am here today with the Anna. Welcome, Anna!
Marc: Hey! Let me say a few words to viewers and listeners before you and I jump in just so I can get people caught up. If you’re a returnee to this Podcast and you’ve been here before and you’ve been on this journey with us, thanks for coming back. Glad you’re here.
If you’re new, here’s how it goes down. Anna and I are just officially meeting for the first time. And we’re going to see if we can spend an hour or so together and help move you forward, Ms. Anna, in whatever you want to work with around food, body, etcetera. So if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you want, what would that look like for you from this session?
Anna: Ah, to be completely content with my weight.
Marc: Ah, to be completely content with your weight. Now, does that mean you get to the weight you want to get to so you’re completely content? Or you’re content with the weight you’re at now?
Anna: Be content with the weight I am at now.
Marc: Uh-huh. And okay, that sounds pretty easy.
Anna: Yeah. Easier said than done.
Marc: Right. Right. Right. I know. I was kidding just a little bit. So to be content with the weight you’re at now. What if you weren’t content with the weight you’re at now? What happens? What do you do?
Anna: A lot of self-loathing, a lot of avoidance. I just avoid mirrors. And yeah, I put a lot of pressure on myself and to having to go to the gym six days a week and eating certain things, that kind of thing.
Marc: Mmm hmm. So have you tried to lose weight?
Anna: Yes. Yes. And I was successful. About three years ago, I lost about 80 pounds. But I was in the bodybuilding industry for three years. And I got obsessed with it. And I measured out all my macronutrients, never had a cheat day, “cheat day.” And it was destroying me inside and out. But I was at my BMI weight, but extremely unhappy, so yeah.
Marc: So then you stopped doing that. And how much weight came back on?
Anna: About 60, 60, 65.
Marc: Mmm hmm. So I’m not quite sure, and help me understand. And maybe you’re not sure either. So just truthfully, would you rather accept the weight you’re at now? Or would you rather lose weight?
Anna: I feel the weight I’m at now is the weight I’m supposed to be at. But I would like to lose weight.
Marc: Mmm hmm. So how much weight would you like to lose?
Anna: About 30, 30, 35.
Marc: Thirty, thirty-five. So what weight would that actually put you at?
Marc: That would put you at 150. How tall are you?
Marc: Mmm hmm. So when you say you think you’re at the weight you’re supposed to be, just tell me what that means for you, some more understanding for me around that. You think you–
Anna: Well, I feel that I need more weight than an average person my height. My BMI is 135. I’ve been there. And I’ve looked really sick and sunken. And it just, it didn’t look good on me. So I know that I’m to have extra weight to know what that looks like for my body to thrive and work functionally.
Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. So when was the last time you were 30 pounds less than you are right now?
Anna: When I was in the bodybuilding industry–
Marc: Got it.
Anna: three years ago.
Marc: So you stopped the bodybuilding industry three years ago?
Anna: Mmm hmm.
Marc: Okay. What kind of movement or exercise do you do these days?
Anna: Yoga, mostly power, Ashtanga, that type of yoga.
Marc: Do you like it?
Anna: I do. I like the hot yoga. Yeah.
Marc: Me, too.
Anna: I’m actually becoming a yoga instructor right now.
Marc: Oh, good for you.
Marc: How old are you?
Marc: Twenty-nine. Are you in a relationship?
Marc: Marriage, boyfriend, girlfriend, what do you got?
Anna: We just recently became exclusive.
Marc: Wow! Congratulations.
Anna: Thank you.
Marc: And how does your partner feel about your body?
Anna: I think he likes it. Yeah, I don’t make excuses for it. So this is what I am.
Marc: Mmm hmm. So is he verbal about it. “Honey, I love you just the way you are.” Like, does he let you know verbally that he likes where you’re at and who you are physically?
Anna: Not verbally. No.
Marc: Mmm hmm. Do you want him to be more verbal about that?
Anna: I think so. But I think he has a hard time receiving compliments. And he thinks compliments are an exchange, like a transaction. Like, I give him one, then he feels obligated to give me one. And I don’t want that. I give compliments because there’s power in language. And so I just, I mean it. So if he doesn’t feel that he wants to give me a compliment, then he does not have to.
Marc: Mmm hmm. Got it. So sounds like there’s a part of you that accepts your body as it is. And another part of you that doesn’t. Is that true?
Marc: Mmm hmm.
Anna: It’s a constant battle in my mind.
Marc: Okay, so we’ve got two people in there duking it out. The one that is okay and the one that’s not okay. Is that accurate?
Marc: Okay. How does that impact the “what” of what you eat? Just like give me a sense of your relationship with food. Just give me some sentences. Give me some words about how you would describe your relationship with food. Forget about your body for a moment and your weight, just talk about food.
Anna: I get a lot of anxiety around like any type of processed food. For example, my boyfriend gave me a gift. And it included coconut. It’s an Almond Joy. It was giving me anxiety because it’s a candy bar. And I’m like, “I’m a health coach. Like, I can’t be going around eating candy bars.” You know what I mean? Like, it was so funny it was a gift. So it’s anxiety, I guess. I have anxiety around non-healthy “healthy food.”
Marc: Got it. So anxiety around the non-healthy/healthy food. And the anxiety, let’s just break down that anxiety a little bit more. So the anxiety, specifically is? Just play around with me. We’re just playing. There’s no right or wrong answer here.
Anna: Mmm hmm.
Marc: What’s the anxiety specifically, more? “This is going to kill me. This is poison. This is going to make me get cancer. This is going to make me gain weight. Somebody’s going to see me eating it.” Like give me some ideas here.
Anna: On one part, it’s I practice what I preach as a health coach. So “I can’t be not doing what I’m telling my clients to do.” And then also like the whole weight. Like, this is toxic for my body, let alone the whole weight. So yeah, it’s just, it’s a combination of all of what you just said.
Marc: A combination of all I just said. So correct me if I’m wrong. I just really want to understand. So I mentioned about like what’s the anxiety? I mentioned it could be weight. It could be my health. It could be like, “Whoa! People would see me eating this. And I’m not being congruent because I’m a health coach. And a health coach wouldn’t eat a freaking candy bar.”
Marc: Okay. Okay. Okay.
Anna: Yeah. Yeah.
Marc: That makes a ton of sense, very, very helpful. When do you like your body the most?
Anna: After yoga.
Marc: Mmm, after yoga. Why? Why do you think?
Anna: Because I just accomplished a pretty hard flow. And I feel empowered.
Marc: Mmm hmm, got it. Back to food for a second. So yeah, you can worry about food. Like example, boyfriend gives you a candy bar as a present, and like, Oh, my God.” Like, it brings up all this anxiety. Anything else I should know about your relationship with food that shows up on your radar?
Anna: Yeah guilt. When I was two, I had three things happen when I was two. My grandmother passed away. I got really bad chicken pox, really, really bad. And then, I had extreme tonsillitis. And prior to the tonsillitis, I couldn’t eat anything. So after I got my tonsils taken out, my two-year old body was saying, “Feed me. Feed me.” So I was eating like margarine out of a tub and family-size packages of Graham crackers by myself. And my mother would tell perfect strangers that I was doing this, ingraining a lot of guilt in what I was doing. And I know now, due to this training, I’m having compassion for that she was just seeking help. But at the same point, it’s hard to move pass the guilt of that.
Marc: Mmm hmm. The guilt of that experience that happened long ago, do you see that experience like carrying over into your current life?
Marc: How so?
Marc: How so?
Anna: Well, when I do eat something that’s “not healthy or that’s not gluten-free,” or whatever, I feel like this guilt. Like, “You shouldn’t have done that. Like, you don’t know what the outcome will be because you ate that.” And like, it’s a “bad health coach” for eating that. And I grew up Catholic so there’s a lot of guilt that was ingrained in us from my church. I’m not saying every Catholic is like that. But from my standpoint, there was a lot of guilt ingrained in there. So guilt is a big one that I’m still working through. And I feel that’s affecting me now.
Marc: Mmm, makes perfect sense. Does guilt show up in other places in your life that you notice, other than around food?
Anna: Yeah. Yeah, for example, so this week, I’m kind of, I don’t want to say fighting, but I’m working through a cold. But like I have one side of my brain that’s saying, “Go to the yoga anyway. You’ll feel better. Just do what you can do.” And then, I have the other side, it’s like, “No, you need to sleep. Like, you need rest. Just do it here, you know, or whatever.” So it’s that constant, “Should I go? Should I not go? Should I move my body in this way? Should I not move my body this way?” So I have that. Yeah.
Marc: Okay. So let me understand that. Let’s just break that down a little more because sometimes, it’s all about the details here. So okay, so here you are, you’re feeling a little bit under the weather. You know you love yoga. You know you always feel good afterwards. But you’re feeling under the weather, “God, if I go to yoga, I’m going to feel so much better because I always feel good afterwards. But, wow, I really should rest.” How long does that conversation like go on for? Is it like 10 minutes? Is it an hour? Will you be feeling guilty like days later if you don’t go to yoga? Like, give me a sense of how long that plays out.
Anna: Usually, it happens every day. It starts about an hour before I am supposed to leave to go to yoga. And it ends probably about a half hour after yoga has started, so about an hour and a half–
Marc: Got it. Okay.
Anna: every day.
Marc: Every day. So every day, it’s, “I should go. I shouldn’t go.” And then, if you go the guilt finally leaves somewhere midway through the yoga class?
Anna: Yeah. Yeah. When I get there, I’m like, “Okay, you know, I’m here, you know. Good. Okay.”
Marc: Mmm hmm. Do you remember what you answered when I asked you at the beginning of the conversation, “If you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you want from this session,” you remember what you said?
Marc: Uh, huh. Do you remember what other words you said?
Anna: with my weight. Contentment with my weight.
Marc: Mmm hmm. Okay, just making sure. You said something else at some point that captured my attention. And it’s like freedom from the worry, freedom from the guilt. We’re going to cycle back to that because it’s an interesting goal to shoot for.
So here’s what I’m not certain of for you right now. Here’s what I’m not clear about. I’m not quite clear, and usually, I’m clear about these things because people tell me. I asked you the question, “Is it that you want to be content with the weight you’re at now or would you like to lose weight?” And you said, “Well, I want to be content with the weight I’m at now. But I’d like to lose some weight.” And I understand that. I actually understand that makes sense. And I just want to note that it is a little bit of a paradox. Just a little bit of a paradox.
Marc: “I want to be content where I’m at now. But I want to change it. But I want to be content where I’m at now. But I want to change it.” There’s a place where those two can actually live together. But I don’t know if they’re living together in you very well. They seem to be duking it out. I’m going to suggest, and I’m not sure of this because we’re just dialoging right now because you’re a little bit hard for me to read in this particular area, I’m not so sure if you know what you want.
I’m not sure what you actually want here. I think there is a part of you that really wants to be content where you are. I think there’s a part of you that looks around, and based on your experiences, “You know something, I just might need a little more weight on my body than I would even like you know, or that fits the perfect Hollywood whatever. But then, there’s another part of me that would like to lose weight.”
Marc: Am I right?
Anna: Yeah. Yeah.
Marc: Okay. So what I’m getting, what I’m getting is depending on the moment, you’re going to fall on either side of that line. You’re going to be emphasizing one of those more than the other. There’s going to be moments where you’re clear like, “This is nonsense. It’s like, I am who I am, you know. This is me. And I’m okay, like don’t bug me anybody about this, like don’t even me bug me about it.”
Marc: There’s a part where you just want to be left alone around this and be at peace with yourself. And then, you could actually jump to the other place where, “I need to lose this weight.”
Anna: Yeah, that’s exactly what happens. Yeah.
Marc: Okay, that’s very helpful for me because both those voices were coming through loud and clear for me. And okay, this is very helpful. I’m much happier now because now we have some good places to work because you, young lady, are undecided.
Marc: And that’s okay. I love indecision because sometimes we have to be in indecision before a decision happens. So I got no problem with you being undecided. But let’s just own that for a moment. I just want you to be able to own that you’re not quite sure what exactly you want here. Now, if you’re not quite sure if I want chocolate or vanilla when you go buy the ice cream, that can look pretty interesting. “Because if I go to the ice cream store and I want chocolate or I want vanilla, which should I get? What should I do? Maybe I buy the vanilla. And then I return it. And I buy the chocolate. And then, I feel guilty because I just wasted a bunch of money. Oh, what if I get a swirl? Well, if I get a swirl of the two, I actually don’t like the way the two mix together. Maybe I just lick the one side and get the chocolate.” And it just goes to this weird place.
Marc: That’s what it sounds like for you to me.
Marc: Okay. Okay. We’re on the right track here. So what I’m acknowledging here is that when we have a hard time making a decision, we end up, it can look a little silly. It could feel a little crazy making. And at any given point, I’m sitting in one side of the court or the other side of the court.
And that’s an interesting conundrum for you because you’re not actually going to get any real headway if you continue in this conundrum because the conundrum pulls you in two completely different directions at any given time. And it just creates a lot of confusion for you. So if you feel you’re not getting where you want to go, this is the reason why. And there’s moments where you will be content. But those contented moments don’t last.
And then, you go to the other side, which is, “I got to do this.” And then, probably where the guilt comes in, yes, the guilt comes in just because of we’re human. And humans feel guilt for the most crazy, ridiculous reasons or not. We have guilt drilled into us through religion oftentimes, through the culture, through parents, through upbringing, through…It just, it comes in everywhere. You should feel guilty for not being perfect, not being rich, not being tall, not being this, not being that, not being skinny. Like, there’s so much shit to feel guilty about, it’s crazy.
So the fact that you’re feeling guilty, yeah, it’s very personal, but also, welcome to the human experience. Like, we feel guilt for nonsense reasons and sometimes for good reasons. Guilt is not so bad when it is being felt for good reasons. Meaning, if I hurt someone and I did it knowingly, and I feel guilty afterwards, good thing because guilt functions to keep us on the straight and narrow. Guilt can help us follow our North star, our guiding light. When you go into guilt around food, when you go into guilt around exercise, it’s a little more complex than that because the guilt is all this voice, “You should do this. You shouldn’t do that.” You can’t quite decide. A lot of times you don’t know what’s right for you. You just don’t know what’s best for you. And I get that you want to make the right move.
Marc: You like to make good decisions.
Anna: And when I make a decision, I stick to it.
Anna: Like, there’s no going back.
Marc: I get that about you, which makes perfect sense. I love people like that. And great, “I made a decision. I’m sticking to it. I’m not being a waffle head. Like, I’m going for it because I’ve made that decision.”
So it makes sense to me that you want to think about your decision before you make it cause you know you’re going to stick to it. So let’s make the right decision so you don’t waste our energy. So that’s admirable. That to me is very, very, very logical thinking. And it works.
And the challenge is that thinking is getting you in trouble because of these two parts of you that are in dialogue. “I want to be okay with my body as it is. I want to lose weight.” Now, depending on who’s taking the lead, you’re making decisions based on either one voice or the other voice. “Oh, I just want to accept myself for who I am. I don’t want to worry about this nonsense. Oh, I should go to this yoga class because if I go to the yoga class, I’m going to feel really good about myself.”
And yoga definitely shapes your body. And it could help increase your metabolism. “I should do that. Oh, my God, I feel guilty for not going.” But oh, my God, you shouldn’t worry about that. You should just take care of yourself. You’re feeling under the weather.” And then, the other voice comes in. So I think that’s the lay of the land for you on one level.
Anna: Yes. Definitely.
Marc: Okay. Answer me one question. We’re going to jump to a completely different zone. But I’m going to jump right back. But this is actually connected.
You said to me, you started talking about when you were two years old, and you had this experience with tonsillitis, tonsils being removed, grandmother dying. Do you remember that? Or were you told this event?
Anna: I remember the tonsils. I don’t remember the chicken pox or my grandmother passing away.
Marc: Do you remember eating all that food?
Anna: I remember opening the refrigerator for the margarine.
Marc: Uh, huh. Do you remember at that time in your life feeling guilty about it?
Anna: Not while I was doing it, no. But when my mother was telling a stranger, yes.
Marc: So do you remember your mother talking to strangers, you hearing her talk about what her daughter’s eating, and then you started feeling like this guilty little kid?
Anna: Yeah, I felt my shoulders go down, and yeah.
Marc: Got it. Got it. Got it. So that’s a very fascinating memory. Just so you know, most people don’t have memories that early. People do, for sure. But it’s a minority of people. My guess is it’s in the few percentile. One, two, three, four, five percent of people will have memories, solid memories of important events that happened at around two. It’s just not something that we usually have access to. So I just find that interesting. It’s just like, “Wow! Okay!” So that was potent for you so guilt started living in you. I’m sure there’s different ways that that story got reinforced over the years.
So we have some interesting work to do here, young lady, because you have indecision here about what it is you actually want. So we’re going to play a little bit. We’re going to play a little bit. I want to see if we could make this a little more fun for you.
Marc: Okay, because you seem to me to be a fun-kind of gal.
Marc: Okay, so I’m accurate.
Anna: I’m not as fun as I used to be.
Marc: Okay. Well, we can always return to that place. So here’s how I want to make this a little more fun. I want to see if we can cheat the system and see if we can incorporate those two voices, the part of you that wants to accept yourself as you are and the part of you that wants to lose weight because right now what I’m saying to you is that those parts are battling each other.
And that’s what’s causing you to not quite be where you want to be and have what you want to have. And it causes confusion, confusing thoughts, guilt, behaviors that you don’t really have control over. So I’m saying it’s those two parts of you, “I want to love and accept myself for who I am cause this is my body. I need a bigger body versus yeah, I want to lose some weight.”
Marc: Okay. But also, the part of you that wants to lose weight, now is like, “Oh, my God, the last time I lost 60 pounds, I was weighing my freaking macronutrients and I wasn’t cheating. And I did that. That was hard. Nobody wants to do that again.”
Anna: It wasn’t living. Yeah.
Marc: Correct. So here’s the other challenge, glad we brought this up. In your mind, both options are impossible in your mind. They feel a little impossible.
Anna: Yeah, I can see that. It’s one or the other.
Marc: Right. Meaning for you to accept yourself as you are, just feels a little like, “But I want to lose weight. But I want to accept myself, but.” So it feels a little impossible because you know there’s this part of you that wants to lose some weight so accepting yourself as you are feels a little impossible. Losing the weight, I think for you feels a little impossible, as well, based on your past experience, based on what you know it takes to get there.
Anna: I definitely connect with that. That’s what’s going on in my mind.
Marc: Good. So that’s, by the way, that’s what we’re trying to do here. What I am trying to do is I am doing my best to discover how your mind is communicating to itself about all of this because what happens, not to you, but to all of us, we get tangled in knots about certain things. Why? Because we go into anxiety, stress, fear. We got hurt. We got wounded. The world teaches us crazy stuff: parents, upbringing, school, media. And it twists our minds. And we get all these crazy concepts. And we have convoluted thinking.
So sometimes, oftentimes, it helps to actually break down the thinking, see how it’s all operating because then that helps us unwind it a bit, and actually helps us start to get empowered and starts to help us get where we want to go. So I’m just explaining to you that’s why I’m asking these questions. That’s why we’re talking about these kinds of details. I’m just trying to make conscious, make aware the hidden dialogue that’s happening in your mind that’s driving you. Am I making sense?
Anna: Yeah. Absolutely.
Marc: Okay. So let me just sum up where we are right now. And then, we’re going to move forward. So where we are right now is that you want to lose weight. But you also want to accept your body as it right now. Where we’re at is those two voices can tend to duke it out. And the net result is it’s just like a little bit of frustration, a little bit of confusion, oftentimes, guilt, and neither voice gets satisfied. You’re not accepting your body as it is, nor are you losing the weight.
Marc: So it’s like having your foot on the gas and your foot on the brake at the same time. If you’re driving a car, there’s a lot of noise and a lot of screeching and a lot smoke, and nothing happens, per se. The car doesn’t really go anywhere. Okay. So and each of those goals, totally loving and accepting myself as I am or losing this weight and doing it sustainably, both of those goals, there’s a part of them that just seems like very difficult to attain for you. And here we are.
Anna: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.
Marc: Okay. Good. So we’re in a good place.
Marc: We’re in a good place.
Marc: We’re in a very good place. So now, you see yourself. So now, that’s why I’m jumping to “Mmm, you’re a fun girl. Let’s see if we can satisfy those two voices.” So I’m going to play around here. I’m going to make some suggestions here because my goal here, my goal here is I want to be of assistance to you. I want to help move you forward. Just so you know, and I’m being very honest here, I have zero need or interest or desire for you to lose weight because it’s just personally for me. So that’s not a goal of mine. I personally will not feel more successful if you lose weight.
I will feel most successful if you step into your womanhood more, if you step into your power as a female more, if you love yourself more, if you own your body more, if you are feeling more pleasured, more nourished, feel good about being in your body. I don’t care if that means you weigh 20 pounds less, 30 pounds less, 5 pounds more, the same as you are now, I just want you to be the best version of you that you’re supposed to be.
And sure, I would like for you to be satisfied about your body 100%. But I also know a lot of times for people to be—certain of us—to be satisfied about our body, the way to get there is not to change it. But the way to get there is to first be satisfied about our body. And from there, it’s easy to change, easier to change meaning this.
You’re in relationship with your boyfriend. And if you’re walking around going, “I don’t like you. I need you to change. And you suck at this. You’re terrible at that. I don’t like this. I don’t like that. I don’t even know why I’m in a relationship with you because these things need to change.” That’s one way to go about it. I promise you he ain’t going to change if you say that kind of stuff. Or even if you’re thinking it to yourself, people feel each other.
But if you were like, “Oh, honey, I love you. I’m so glad I’m with you. I’m so glad we’re doing this. You’re the best. And you know something? There’s certain things I would love for us to work on. There’s certain targets I would love to shoot for that would just make me feel even better in this relationship because I get a little hung up about this. I get a little hung up about that. Honey, is this something you’d be willing to work on with me?”
You say that and you give him a big hug and a kiss, a little back rub or whatever you got to do to feel good about himself, you’ll get what you want.
So that analogy might have been the worst ever. I don’t know.
Anna: No, it was good.
Marc: Okay. Good.
Anna: It was good. We actually had that conversation last night about he doesn’t feel like he’s enough. And that he continues to apologize for not having these grand dates. I go, “But you’re enough. So when you said that it was, like, “Oh, it clicked.”
Marc: Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. So I’m saying that because you know that when you love somebody with who they are right now, they relax more. And it’s actually a perfect starting place to then have the conversation about, “Oh, and maybe we can work a little bit more here or shift a little more here.” Does that make sense?
Anna: Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Marc: Yeah. So when it comes to you and your body, what I would like to say is that if we were going to hit the sweet spot for you and take those two voices that have been duking it out, really in your head, I want those voices to befriend each other. Right now, they ain’t friends. They’re oppositional. And they have many opposition that definitely runs you and takes over.
So I would love to see you really start to sink into your body in a whole different way, and accept it in a whole different way, knowing in the back of your mind somewhere, “You know something? I’m going to want to shape shift at some point. I will. I know that about myself. And you know, I’m cool with that. I’m actually cool with that. I’m cool with the fact that I want to change my body. I’m cool with the fact that you know right now, I don’t want to work so freaking hard at that. I don’t want to measure all my macronutrients. There’s got to be a better way.”
You don’t know what that better way is right now. You don’t know what that better way is right now. And I’m going to say don’t even try to find it because there’s something that I think wants to happen first for you. And if we can get this thing to somewhat happen first, which is you doing what you said you want, which is to accept your body more.
If we can start to own your body more now, knowing in the back of your mind that, “Yeah, I’m cool. I’m a woman in my body. I might want to change this. In fact, I’m willing to bet I’m going to want to change it at some point.” And I’m going to just push the pause button on that one. I’m going to push it. “Pause button.” And at some point, we’re going to push the play button on that one, but not right now.
Marc: You see how that changes you?
Anna: I feel that way when it comes to lifting weights. Like, I know it gave me benefits when I was doing it. It was the diet that was hurting me. But the lifting of the weights, like I actually enjoyed it. So I’m just taking it, like I’m just taking a break from it. I know eventually, I’ll go back to it. So I could relate to what you just said.
Marc: Beautiful. So during this break, during this break, your goal is to befriend yourself more. Your goal is to let that other voice, “I got to lose the weight. I got to lose the weight,” love her when she starts to talk, because she’s going to start to talk. She’s going to come up. She’s going to like, “Hey, wait a second, hey, wait a second.” And she’s going to come up. You know when she talks. But you really have to catch her. And, in fact, what I would love for you to do is I would love for you to make it a practice that when you’re walking around town or walking anywhere, other than your house, to look in windows and look in mirrors and catch yourself and give yourself–
Anna: That’s going to be a hard one.
Marc: Yeah. I want you to catch yourself and give yourself a smile. I want you to flirt with yourself because right now that’s a place for you, where as soon as it’s visual for you, you collapse a little bit.
Anna: Yeah. Actually, a few weeks ago, I went to a yoga instructor training. And they had us do mirror work and to have us look at ourselves for two minutes. And then, they had us look at someone else for two minutes in the eye. And it was harder for me to see myself in the mirror, than to look someone else in the eye.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah. I get it. I get it. It’s hard because you’re dealing with years of programming. You really are. And I know you’re trying your best. I really do. I know you’re trying your best. And the truth is you’re beautiful and you’re magnificent. And you don’t quite know it. And all I’m asking you to do is little baby girl steps, little baby girl steps because this is hard. It’s hard. This is hard. If it was easy, you would have done this already. And I just want to remind you there are so many women and men and young women and young men who face this, particularly women. It’s so difficult to overcome.
Anna: Thank you.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah. So what it is, it’s learning how to really ground yourself more. And it’s just looking in the mirror and looking in the window. And here you are. This is you. You’re not that two-year old guilty girl anymore, at all. This is Anna. This is Anna. You’re a powerful lady. And you’re smart. And you’re caring. And you’re loving. And you’ve accomplished a bunch of things in your life. And you’ve worked hard. And you deserve to look at yourself and throw some love in your direction, just a little, a little, a little.
Anna: Just a little bit.
Marc: And here’s the thing, it will be hard. This will be hard. So yeah, we want to fully love and accept our bodies. Let’s say, let’s not even shoot for that. I don’t want you to shoot for, “I want to fully love and accept my body.” I don’t know a lot of people who fully love and accept their body. I know people who are 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% there. We fall in different ranges. I would love to get you into the 85% place, where 85% of the time, it’s like, “Hey, this is good.” And there’s going to be moments where, “Ah! Oh, I don’t like it.” I actually want you to give that critic in you some air time. We’re not trying to–
Okay. So, Ms. Anna, so what I’m saying is that I want you to have space, even for the voice in you that’s a little bit of a critic and a little bit of a hater because she’s never going to go away. But what she’s going to do is she’s going to grow smaller and smaller in stature. We’re going to pay less and less attention to her. But we’re going to definitely give notice to her when she shows up. So you’ll not go, “Oh, my God, I’m hating my body again. That’s terrible.” No. No. Because humans do that. You love and you late. You feel pleasure. You feel pain. There’s times you absolutely love your boyfriend. There’s times you want to ring his neck. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.
So I’m saying it’s okay when you’re self-rejecting actually, and not liking your body. All I’m saying is go, “Yep, okay, there’s that little voice yacking away. Bye-bye for now. That was interesting. Got it.” Deep breath. So you’re learning how to catch those moments because in those moments when you start to judge yourself, then you go down a tunnel.
Marc: And you go into the thinking, “Oh, my God, I should feel guilty. I should be doing this. I should be doing that. I shouldn’t be eating this. I should be eating that.” And you go into your little dark place.
Anna: I should’ve stopped myself.
Marc: Yes. Yes. Yes. So as soon as you start to say that, I just want you to catch yourself. And I want you to ask yourself, “Can I love this part of me right now? Can I love this imperfect part of me?” It’s learning how to love our imperfections. It’s not learning how to be better. It’s learning how to love your imperfections because if you start to love those tender parts of you, those uncontrollable parts of you, the part of you that’s just a nasty critic about yourself, really, that’s understandable because humans do that.
I don’t know a single human that doesn’t have negative self-thoughts. It’s a matter of degree. It’s learning how to turn down the volume and turn down the frequency so we go from having those voices controlling us 99% of the time to controlling us 9% of the time, 5%, 1%, whatever. It’s just gradually bringing down the numbers so to speak.
So what I’m saying is, as a practice, practical practice, I want you to think of all mirrors and all windows as my workshop, your workshop. If there’s a window reflecting you, isn’t that great. It means you’re alive. It means you’re here. It means you could walk. It means you’re healthy.
Marc: You are young. You have energy. You have a good life ahead of you. You got to start counting your blessings. So when we look in the mirror, [takes deep breath], you might not love yourself right off the bat, but I still want you to look. And I still want you to notice her. And I still want you to get to know her. If you could do mirror work in your own house, even for a minute, literally 60 seconds looking in the mirror, and just learn how to get more comfortable looking at this beautiful person, and learn how to play with, play with, play with. This is play.
Now, sometimes play is hard. Weightlifting is playing, by the way. It’s play. It’s play. It’s hard. A lot of times, it’s good hard. It’s an interesting good hard. Sometimes it’s like, “Goof, this is work.” That’s what mirror work is. It’s like weightlifting. Sometimes it’s just hard. Sometimes it’s a good hard. Sometimes you’re just not going to want to go to the gym. You’re not going to want to do this. “I can’t believe I have to do this.”
But this is the good work because it’s you. It’s your physical form. It’s your body. It’s what God gave you. It’s what life gave you. And as you could learn to occupy it, then you have more facility to move it. If you tell me, “Marc, I’ve never weight lifted before. I want to go to the gym. I want to learn how to weightlift.” Now, if you were the biggest klutz in the world, if you’re a slob, if you’re a mess, if you don’t pay attention to your own body, if you’re not in your body, we’re going to have to work a little harder to help you weight lift because you have to get into your body. You just can’t like lift weights.
Marc: I’ll say, “Wait a second, we got to focus on form. We got to use our breath. We got to make sure you’re doing it correct. We don’t want to tweak anything. We don’t want to hurt anything.” So then, we start to make these little adjustments if you’ve never weight lifted before.
So I guess I’m bringing up that analogy, it’s the same with learning to love your body. You’re going to be uncomfortable because you’ve been uncomfortable in your body. You haven’t found comfort. And that is I strongly believe part of your life stage. So there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s everything right. What’s wrong is that the world doesn’t know how to raise us to have a healthy relationship with our bodies. The world gives us a lot of not so good messages. I’m not blaming the world. I’m just saying this is where it comes from. You didn’t invent this concept called I don’t like my body. That’s not your invention. You can’t claim ownership of that. It’s all over the world.
So there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s actually everything right with you. And you’re learning, as a function of your age and your life stage to reclaim, in part, what was never given to you or what was taken away from you, which is your birthright to own your own body, to feel good about it. You know deep inside that that’s where you want to get to because you know that’s going to make you feel good. You know, humans know, if I feel good about my body, I’m going to feel good about life. It’s actually true. But then, what we do is we go, “A-ha, in order for me to feel good about my body, it has to look exactly like this perfect thing.” Incorrect. “In order for me to feel good about my body, I actually have to start feeling good about me, first and foremost. And I have to start feeling better about the body that I’m in now, even though, I have complaints about it. I want it to be different. I don’t like it. It could be better. It could be this. It could be that. It could be healthier. It could be whatever the hell.”
So all of this is a long-winded way of saying that I would love for you to take, I don’t know, let’s say three or four months. Let’s make it easy. Let’s say three months, where you put aside weight loss.
Marc: You just put aside weight loss. Just like put it aside knowing that you’re going to pick it up again, 100%.
Anna: I don’t weigh myself. I haven’t weighed myself in about two years. So it’s just like it’s that part of my gut voice saying, “You know, just take care of yourself, be content with your body now. That’s done, weighing myself. And then, the other part’s like, “Well, my pants are fitting tighter.” You know.
Marc: Yeah. And then, when that voice comes in, I want you to respect that voice. I want you to listen to it and I want you to thank it. And just let it go. You go, “Yeah. Okay. Right, these pants are fitting tighter. Correct. Good observation self. Thank you.” And that’s it. Literally, that’s it. So we’re just taking three months to really let that other voice go for a while and really sink into this body as it is.
I think—This is a hunch. This is an intuition—I think that there is really something there between you and your partner in how you can both work together on this.
Anna: Oh, okay.
Marc: Here’s a very direct homework assignment for you. I would like for you to think…You could journal about this or just think about this. But I want you to be really honest with yourself. “Do I have requests of my boyfriend? Can I invent some requests of him that if he fulfilled upon those requests would make me feel better about myself as a woman and in my body and in how I look?” I want you to ask yourself that question because I think there are some legitimate requests in there. Because the truth is, it’s not easy to love one’s own body. And sometimes it’s good to get help, just is. If somebody’s loving on you, it’s easier to love yourself, just is. If somebody’s loving on your body, it’s a little bit easier for you to love your own body.
Now, sometimes it could be a shock when somebody’s like really loving on you. Like, “Oh, my God, no I’m not that lovable. Stop.” That can come up, for sure. But as problems go, as problems go, that’s a damn good problem to have.
Marc: Right. It’s a damn good problem. So what I want to say to you is I want you to check in with yourself and see if there’s some request that you have of your boyfriend that in terms of compliments that he gives you, in terms of what you do behind closed doors in the bedroom that are very selfishly designed to make you feel good about yourself that you’re asking him to do for you because he loves you and because this is a place where you want to just feel more juice in your life and feel better about yourself.
Marc: You think you could do that? Think about that.
Anna: Yeah, I’ll have to journal about it and see what the right approach is and what language to use while asking for it. But I think I can do that.
Marc: Uh, huh. And understand, too, I know you want to craft it just right with him. But I also want to remind you to be real and come from a heartfelt place and not just squeeze this out of your head, and communicate from your head to his head.
Marc: You know what I’m saying?
Marc: This is not my head to your head. This is from here.
Marc: I want you to see if you could talk from here, as well, so say the right words okay, use that, but use this, as well.
Marc: Make sense?
Anna: Yes. Absolutely.
Marc: Okay, so that’s the one activity that you’re going to do. The other activity is you’re going to make the mirror and the windows your friend. And you’re going to notice yourself and you’re going to just try to encounter yourself a little more. You’re going to give yourself three months to put the weight loss thing 100% aside. Honor that voice when it comes up.
But honor the voice of really starting to love what you got knowing that you’re going to revisit the weight-loss thing, and use this as a time to really explore how far you can go in landing in this body that you have right now. Because again I’m going to say, the more you can love this, the more you can accept this, the more this can morph and change in a natural way.
So if there’s a true natural weight that you have that is less than what you weigh now, if that is true, and we don’t know, we truly don’t know, but it’s definitely possible, I’m saying if there is a lighter weight, then I’m saying the way to get there, the way for you to have the body that’s truly yours is to be the you that you truly are.
Anna: Okay. Yeah.
Marc: The you that you truly are loves and accepts you, no matter what. You don’t have energy today, “I still love myself.” You made a mistake, fine. You still love yourself. You didn’t quite do things the way you want, “I ate this. I ate that. I still love myself.”
Now, there’s one other piece I want to mention. And I’m going to do this in a minute or less because we have to finish up. But here’s a piece I want to mention about this candy bar stuff for you.
Marc: Okay, I just want to help you out a little bit here. I want you to consider expanding your definition of what a healthy relationship with food is and what healthy food is. What I want to say to you is—and this is back to the fun thing—I want you to look at candy bar as fun. There are certain fun things you don’t do every freaking minute of every day. There are certain fun things we only do on vacation. There are certain fun things we only do in the bedroom. There’s certain fun things we only do with certain people, certain situations. So a candy bar breaks no laws. One candy bar, unless you’re a true sugar addict, which I don’t think you are, quite frankly–
Anna: I don’t think I am. Yeah.
Marc: No, you’re not. Okay, so you’re not that. So a candy bar’s not going to hurt you. For you, a candy bar will be very helpful. For you to eat that candy bar, to love it, to own it, to tell your clients, “Yep, I eat a candy bar when I want to eat a candy bar. Do I live on candy bars? No. Is a candy bar staple food in my life? No. But you know something? I love Almond Joy. I love Mounds. And when I eat that, I’m like, oh yes, that is so good. I feel so much pleasure. I love myself. And then, I’m on to the next thing.”
That, your clients will love you more, not less. Why? Because your clients are walking around with the same nonsense in their head. “I shouldn’t eat that. I shouldn’t do that.” When you give people permission to do what we’ve made wrong, if it’s not going to hurt us, then fine, have that part of the dietary system. You’re a little bit conditioned from the whole weightlifting thing and the whole note cheating thing. We’re letting that go. It’s hard for you to let it go. I get it. But I’m just naming for you what I think the target is here.
The target is eat the candy bar, love it, enjoy it, let it go. Honor yourself for eating the candy bar, brag about it, look at it as something healthy that you could have a healthy relationship with food. “I could choose to eat this, you know. If I don’t want to eat it, I don’t have to. But I want to. Then, you know, I’m done.” Just like that.
So that takes away the guilt thing that you get into because you change the setup. The setup is, “Candy bar evil, fresh, whole, perfect food angelic. Let’s see, am I the devil or am I the angel?” You’re both, but a little bit of the devil part, not a lot, just a little. Just enough to spice it up, and to not harm yourself. Make sense?
Anna: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. Actually, last night at dinner, I presented like, not a game, but I had just an idea, where at dinner, I said, “How about we order each other’s food?” And I said, “This is a challenge for me because I have a hard time releasing control around food.” And it’s some place that neither one of us has been. So he’s like, “Well, maybe not tonight.” And I’m like, “That’s fine.” But I presented that idea.
Marc: I love that for you. I absolutely love it. Good for you. I’m glad you did that. That’s making things more fun for you. Fun is a huge part of the equation for you, making it fun, gamify it. Anytime you could make any of this stuff into a little game and have fun with it, you, personally, are on the right track.
Anna: Okay, thank you.
Marc: You understand what I’m saying?
Marc: Yes, I’m really happy. So, Anna, I, personally, think you have covered a huge amount of territory in this conversation. I don’t know about you, but I think you’ve got some good stuff to work with here. I really do.
Anna: I do, too. I’m excited to start working on it.
Marc: Yay! I’m really glad for you. And I really appreciate you being open and honest and being real, and being willing to reveal yourself and everything that’s going on in there. And you, trust me, you speak for a lot of people, I believe. So I’m really glad that you’re helping yourself. But you’re helping a lot of other people in this way. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
Anna: Thank you.
Marc: All right. And thank you everybody for tuning in. I so appreciate it. Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast, always more to come, my friends. Take care!
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2018