Kelly, 29, gives Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a snapshot of her challenges with weight. She is connecting her weight gain to some other unwanted symptoms like brain fog, acne, and fatigue. Diets feel too restrictive, and Kelly admits they have only taken her to a place of obsessive control over what she eats and over-exercising, or letting it all go and binging. Marc sheds some light on the situation, and invites her to view her situation as a life phase; a time in between being a caterpillar and a butterfly. Throughout her journey, she has tried different things, like Health at Every Size, and the Paleo Diet. But each thing has components that work for her, and components that don’t. Kelly walks away with new insights on navigating her emotional self outside of emotional eating, and learns a new, more empowering definition of ‘restrictive’.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Kelly: Hi, Marc. Thank you.
Marc: Thank you. I’m glad we’re doing this. And let me just take a minute, Kelly, and say a couple of words to viewers and listeners.
If you’re returning to this podcast, thank you. Welcome back. I’m glad you’re here. If you’re new to this podcast, here’s how it works. Kelly and I are officially meeting for the first time right now. We’re going to have a session together. We’re going to see if we can move things forward in a good way.
So, Miss Kelly, if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this session, what would that be for you?
Kelly: Well, I think that would be I’d be about 40 pounds lighter, and then that way I would be able to walk into any kind of department store and find clothes that fit me right. And I would also be free of some of the health symptoms that I’ve been having.
Marc: What kind of health symptoms have you been having?
Kelly: Most recently I’ve had issues with joint pain. I also have problems with acne around my mouth — I get that a lot — mind fog, fatigue. I have night sweats. Those are the main ones I would say.
Marc: And you believe that’s related to weight?
Kelly: I think that some of it does have to do with weight. I think I do have some food sensitivities. I’ve been having a hard time eliminating some of those foods from my diet.
Marc: And so tell me what you think your food sensitivities are.
Kelly: I think that I am probably sensitive to gluten and dairy.
Marc: And tell me why you think that.
Kelly: Well about a year or two ago I went on a paleo diet. So I did an elimination diet. And a lot of the symptoms that I have now are gone. But I found it really difficult to stick to the paleo diet. And now that I’m back on a normal American diet, I have those symptoms again.
Marc: And the symptoms that disappeared that came back were which ones?
Kelly: The joint pain, the night sweats, the acne, the fatigue, the mind fog, pretty much everything.
Marc: Wow. So now you’re back on gluten and dairy.
Kelly: Yes. I’m pretty good at keeping it out of my diet maybe 70 percent of the time. I eat pretty healthy, and I eat pretty good quality food most of the time. But sometimes I fall back. Something happens in my life, and I get stressed, and I fall back into eating those other foods.
Marc: How long have you been trying to lose weight, Kelly?
Kelly: I’ve been dieting on and off since I was probably eight years old.
Marc: How old are you now?
Kelly: I’m 29.
Marc: And what’s been successful for you?
Kelly: I’ve done a lot of unhealthy dieting techniques. Actually I used to be 270 pounds. And I lost 80 pounds by over exercising, under eating. And I guess the main issue that I’m having with adjusting to eliminating those foods is I feel like I’m restricting myself again and that I’m getting back into disordered eating. So I mean I’ve done a lot of things that have worked in the short term. The paleo diet worked well, though restricting, and over-exercising worked in the short term, but nothing’s really worked for the long term.
Marc: Got it. So then it seems what happens is you may start to feel like you’re restricting, and then that doesn’t feel good for you. So I’m interested to know, what do you tell yourself? Let me in on a conversation that goes on in your head. Here you are. You’re on a paleo diet, feeling a little bit better. Maybe you’re losing a little weight. And then all of a sudden this conversation starts. What could it sound like?
Kelly: Well a lot of times it’s when I’m out with my friends eating dinner in a public place. I see my friends eating whatever they want. I see other people in the restaurant eating whatever they want and not having an issue with it. And they don’t have weight issues. They don’t have the health issues that I have. And it’s kind of like a rebellious voice in my head saying, “It doesn’t matter.” And I’m not thinking in that moment about the consequences of eating those things.
Marc: Sure, I understand. What do you want your weight to get down to? So you know how much weight you want to lose. What would that put you at?
Kelly: That would put me at 195. I’m about 235 right now.
Marc: When was the last time you were at 195?
Kelly: Let’s see. So that was when I lost 80 pounds. So that was when I was about 24 I believe, so about five years ago.
Marc: What started the dieting when you were eight years old? Did you really need to lose weight? Did your parents put you on a diet? How did that start?
Kelly: I have three sisters. They’re all very thin. I was bullied at school. So both of those things together made me feel like I needed to go on a diet. My dad teased me about my weight, but my parents never put me on a diet or anything. It was something that I did myself.
Marc: Where are you in the birth order of your sisters?
Kelly: I am the second.
Marc: And do you ever say to yourself, “Oh, I think I carry this extra weight because…?” What do you say to yourself?
Kelly: Well there are some people in my family who are larger, so I think sometimes it’s a genetic thing because I’ve always been a larger person. So I think there’s a genetic component to that. I’ve had problems with binge eating a lot of my life too. I think that has played a big part of it. I’d keep a lot of my emotions in. And so I stress eat. I do a lot of emotional eating. And that’s put on the weight too.
Marc: So these days how many times a week would you say you might binge eat or emotionally eat?
Kelly: It’s maybe actually for an entire day, maybe one to two days a week. And the rest of the week I’m probably eating more normally, like how I should be eating.
Marc: So maybe one or two days a week it just kind of falls apart, is what I hear you saying.
Marc: Any particular days that might happen, during the week, weekend, doesn’t matter?
Kelly: Usually the weekend.
Marc: Why do you think the weekend?
Kelly: So Friday night I get done with work. I’m stressed. And sometimes I feel like I want to treat myself. And then it just spirals into binging basically.
Marc: What might you binge on? If you’re going to binge, what do you go for?
Kelly: I go for sweets. It used to be Little Debbies and things like that. But now it’s like sugar free high percentage cocoa chocolate and cashew butter and stuff like that. So I’ve evolved a little bit in that way, but it’s sweets.
Marc: And what happens afterwards, after that one or two days is kind of over? Do you have to force yourself to get back on track? How do you get back on track?
Kelly: It’s just like I get back into my regular routine. Monday or even Sunday evening rolls around. I get back into my old routine. And it’s pretty natural.
Marc: Do you live alone?
Marc: Are you in a relationship?
Marc: How long?
Kelly: It’s a new relationship, probably about six weeks now.
Marc: How’s it feeling so far?
Kelly: Really good, it’s a really good relationship.
Marc: What makes the relationship good for you?
Kelly: We have a lot in common. We have a lot of the same goals and values. He’s very supportive. He’s very loving. He’s just great.
Marc: How’s he feel about your body?
Kelly: He’s fine with my body. He just started a body building lifestyle though. So he’s lost some weight and is very strict with how he eats.
Marc: Is that hard for you?
Kelly: It’s hard for me to see him restrict himself because I remember kind of how that process started for me. And I don’t want to see him go through that.
Marc: Understood. Does he feel restricted to you? Does he say, “Oh my God, this is so hard, Kelly?” Or do you notice things?
Kelly: No. He calls himself a creature of habit. He really loves the routine. He thrives on that. He seems happy with what he has going on.
Marc: Got it. So you mentioned you’re the kind of person that you keep your emotions in. Are your sisters different?
Kelly: No, not really, they do the same thing, maybe not to the extent that I do, but they have some of the same behaviors.
Marc: How about your mom?
Kelly: Yeah, my mom and my dad both are like that.
Marc: Are you close with your parents?
Marc: How would you describe your relationship with them?
Kelly: Very distant, it’s almost non existent. I mean we talk on the holidays and things like that. It’s never really been a close relationship for either of us.
Marc: Is there a particular reason you think?
Kelly: They both have a lot of mental health issues. And I’ve just kind of decided that it’s not healthy for me to be around them with a lot of the behaviors that they have.
Marc: Do they live in the same state or town as you do?
Kelly: Yes. They live in the same area.
Marc: Do you bump into them? Is that an issue for you? Does it matter to you that they live close by?
Kelly: I do bump into them sometimes. It’s always weird and an anxious experience for me. But I deal, yeah. It’s not a huge problem though.
Marc: So in an ideal universe, let’s say you lost the weight that you wanted to lose, and you kept it off permanently, other than the fact that you lost that weight and maybe some of your symptoms go away, is this new you any different? Or do you just weight 40 pounds less and have fewer symptoms?
Kelly: I don’t think I would be that much different. I mean I might be a little bit more confident. I work in a corporate environment, so in that way I do feel pressured to be smaller and look more socially acceptable. But overall I don’t think that I would be a different person.
Marc: So you might be more confident. You might kind of fit in in your corporate environment, which would make you feel a little more comfortable. Is that accurate?
Marc: Okay. So here you are. You’re on a diet. You’re on a paleo diet. I kind of want to come back to this again. And there’s this part of you that all of a sudden might feel like you’re restricting. What does that feel like, when you go, “Oh my God, this is restriction.” Say more about this thing called restriction for you.
Kelly: Well there was a part of me that was kind of addicted to the restriction part of it. I loved feeling like I had control over it. But then I would just get more and more restrictive. So I would read all these books and articles about all these different ingredients and macro nutrients and things like that. And I would just get so obsessive over the tiniest little things. And it would just make me feel crazy after a while. And I felt like I couldn’t even leave my house because there were chemicals in everything, and I had to just control every little thing that I put in mouth or on my body.
Marc: Got it. So correct me if I’m not getting this right, or if I’m wrong. It sounds to me that in a weird way you’re either on a diet, whatever that diet is, that’s pretty, let’s call it restrictive or specific, or you’re totally off it.
Kelly: Yeah, for most of my life, it’s been like that.
Marc: And when you’re totally off there’s no major middle ground so to speak.
Kelly: I would say so.
Marc: Is that true?
Marc: Okay. Are there weeks where on the weekends you don’t binge eat? Does that ever happen?
Kelly: Yeah, if I’m feeling particularly happy. Since I’ve been in this relationship I haven’t really been binging all that much. He lives about two and a half hours away. So if he’s here with me, I feel happy, and I don’t feel the need to binge as much.
Marc: Got it. How are you doing in this conversation? How is this for you, me asking you all these personal questions?
Kelly: It’s a little nerve wracking.
Marc: Yeah, it is, because they’re not easy questions. And I’m really kind of diving into your world. And it’s very personal. And for somebody who might not normally be emotional in terms of keeping her feelings out there, yeah, it’s not easy. So I appreciate you hanging in there with me.
Marc: So when you lose weight, what do you tell yourself? “Oh my God, I’m losing weight.” Do you get happy? Do you get nervous? Do you think, “Oh my God, is this going to come back?” Does it feel like you celebrate? Tell me, when weight’s coming off, what goes on in your head?
Kelly: It’s a whole lot different for me now because I’ve kind of delved into the Health At Every Size movement. So it’s conflicting to me now. There’s more resistance in it because part of me wants to believe that I don’t need to lose weight. But I really still want to.
Marc: Yeah, I get it. Yeah, you’re not quite sure which way to go. And consequently you’re probably not going in any particular direction that feels solid and good to you, is what it sounds like.
Marc: That makes sense to me. Where do you see yourself five years from now? If you could be where you want to be, other than food body and weight, putting that aside for a moment, let’s say that’s all perfect, five years from now, who do you want to be? What’s your life going to look like?
Kelly: I would like to be settled in a career that I feel more fulfilled in. I would like to be established, hopefully in my current relationship, maybe living together. Those are two main things, so a career that I feel more fulfilled in and a stable relationship.
Marc: And how about goals for you that are more inward, inside yourself?
Kelly: I would like to feel more secure with myself, feel like I’m worthy and that I’m good enough.
Marc: Yeah, that makes total sense. You’ve been working hard. You’ve been working hard. I get it. I think you’ve also been working hard to the degree that it’s easy to wonder, “Okay, where are the results? I’m putting in all this effort. I’m doing all the studying. I’m doing all this reading. I did these intense diets. I did this intense exercise.” Really, after doing intense exercise and intense dieting, you technically can’t work any harder than that. There’s no harder at some point. And what I’m getting from you is that you’re a little tired, probably, of all the hard work that doesn’t get you what you want. And the prospect of working harder makes absolutely no sense to you.
I think part of the reason why you rebel and go off a diet, you call it I don’t like the restricting, but there’s also a place where okay, it’s so difficult to maintain that do I have to work this hard. So let me say a few words about what I think might be helpful and useful for you. I’m going to just kind of bounce around a little, but we’re going to slowly, I think, drill down to what might be helpful for you.
First, there’s a minor detail I want to take care of, but it’s important for me to take care of this detail with you. At the beginning of the conversation when you talked about weight, and you talked about some of your health symptoms, you said, “Wow, when I lose the weight I’m not going to have these symptoms.” And all I wanted to say to you is other than maybe joint pain, you could have all those symptoms and weigh 120 pounds, for the most part, even joint pain.
So I just want to say that letting go of weight and being symptom free doesn’t necessarily follow one another. It might. I think I get what you were trying to say, which is, “Wow, if I eat a certain way, and I don’t eat foods that I’m allergic to, I will then lose weight, and I will then not have these symptoms.” You could potentially eat none of the foods you’re allergic to. You could get rid of all the junk food. You might not lose weight, but you might lose your symptoms. So this is a little detail. All I want to say is — and this is Health At Every Size — that we don’t exactly know what your symptoms are going to do relative to your weight. We don’t truly know. That’s just a little piece of information.
I am totally fine with you if you say to me, “I want to lose weight,” plain and simple. “I want to lose weight. I want to feel better about myself. I want to fit into clothes. I want to weigh something different in my work environment, in my sitting anywhere, being anywhere, being with my friends.” I think it’s perfectly legitimate for you to start to separate that out and not have to make excuses for it. Do you see what I’m saying? It’s like you can tell me, “Marc, I want to be living with my boyfriend at some point.” You don’t have to explain it to me any further than that. You don’t have to give excuses. “Well I want to be living with my boyfriend because it’s really the right thing to do,” or “That’s what a smart girl does.” It doesn’t matter. You can tell me I want a job I feel more fulfilled at. I don’t need any more information. You can give me more, but you don’t need to justify. That’s all I’m saying. You don’t need to justify if you want to lose weight and want to look a certain way. Does that land for you when I say that?
Kelly: Yes. Yes, it does.
Marc: I’m saying that in part because you’re in a conundrum in your head I think. So where I see you, if we were kind of at the shopping mall, and you know how they have those signs that say you are here? You’re trying to find the food court, or you’re trying to find a clothing store, and it’s a big mall, and where the heck am I? So I’m just trying to locate you on the map, okay. So when I locate you on the map, the way I look at maps I see you being in a time in your life — you’re 29. You’re in a major transition time. Age 28 to 30 is a big transition point. That two year period is oftentimes a period in life where things are in upheaval, where we’re really looking in the mirror, where we’re really redefining our values, where a lot of stuff comes to a head, where like it or not, life just kind of is right in front of us. Our issues become more clear. The road ahead of us becomes more clear, or it slowly does that. The things that don’t work start to raise their hand even more. And it’s just a time of shifting and chaos and uncertainty.
It’s kind of like being a caterpillar and spinning a cocoon. You’re going to come out a butterfly on the other end. But in the meantime you’re a caterpillar in a cocoon. And there’s a point where it’s just kind of very mushy. And it ain’t a caterpillar, and it ain’t a butterfly. It’s a bunch of mush inside a cocoon, literally. So I think this is a mushy time in life for you. And all I’m saying is it’s okay, because that’s what it is. So I’m also saying that to help you see that there’s a wisdom to your journey. There are certain parts of our journey that are very defined in advance, meaning we all go through this weird thing called puberty. It’s pretty predictable. Puberty’s a physiological event. It’s an emotional event. Women go through menopause. Men go through andropause. It’s a physiologic event. It’s an emotional event.
This stage of life that you’re in right now, it’s also new for you. So it makes sense to me that you’re feeling confused. And right now you have several different philosophies that you’re not sure which one works for you. So you’re looking at Health At Every Size, which I love, which is essentially putting out the message like hey, cut the nonsense. Stop hating yourself. Health and weight are not necessarily complex together. They might be. Extreme obesity and extreme anorexia, yeah, that’s going to affect your health. Everything else in between, it’s kind of a toss up. You could be skinny and slender and be very unhealthy and have cancer and die tomorrow. You could be 100 pounds overweight and live to be 90 years old.
So that’s what Health At Every Size tells us. And Health At Every Size says okay, love your body as it is. And it’s a beautiful message. But then there’s this part of you that has had this life of gosh, you’ve got three sisters who are slender. Is it genetics for me? What’s going on? What do I do? You try some things. You do lose weight. You do feel better. But it’s hard to maintain. So I get there’s a part of you which is totally legitimate. I just want to honor the part of you that says, “Wait a second, I think I got weight to lose.” Unfortunately, Health At Every Size doesn’t account for that person. It doesn’t. And I love Health At Every Size, but it just doesn’t account for that person. So you have a tricky road here right now because in a weird way both are true. It’s a little bit of a paradox. What’s true is all their messages are true. Yeah, love your body right now. It’s true. Your health and your weight are not necessarily complex together. It’s true. And what’s also true for you is you’d like to lose some weight. And sometimes you’re on board with that, and sometimes you’re not. You go back and forth. And you’re fighting yourself a little bit. So at the very least I want to see you let go of the easiest fights that you don’t need to be in.
Kelly: Sounds good to me.
Marc: Yeah, because one of the challenges for you is that you’ve been doing battle for a long time, it feels like. It’s just a battle in your world. The battle’s in your head. The battle is with your emotions, to keep them in and to play your cards right. And the battle is to try to feel good about yourself. The battle is to try to lose weight. And the battle is how to do it, how to do it sustainably, how to feel good about yourself. It’s exhausting.
Marc: Yeah, so honestly, so much of what I get from you is there’s a certain battle weariness that I just pick up on. And I think that battle weariness is starting to impact you because it’s freezing you a little bit. You’re not sure what’s right for you right now.
Marc: So what I’m saying is that’s okay. That’s a good place to be. That’s a good place to be because you’re doing what’s right. Here’s what you’re doing right. You’re looking at all your options. “Okay, wait, here’s a good option. Stop beating myself up and telling myself I’ve got to lose weight. What are the positive messages I can be giving myself?” That’s a very beautiful option to explore. On the other hand, you’re wanting to eat healthy because you notice you feel better. But whoops, that’s also hard. That’s restricting. I don’t want to restrict because that makes me crazy. So let me not restrict and make myself crazy. But that doesn’t work either. But the good news is, you’re going, “Huh, this sort of works, doesn’t. This sort of works, doesn’t. This sort of works, doesn’t.” So what you’re doing is you’re gathering more information about what works and what doesn’t. And it’s a little bit unfortunate because so far not one thing works.
Marc: We would like to have one thing that works so we don’t have to be in this conversation, and you can live happily ever after. So here’s what I want to suggest to you. I want you to see if you can have a brief period of time where you call a timeout, a brief period of time where you call a timeout. And what that time out looks like is you’re not going to be pushing yourself in a particular direction to lose weight. You’re not going to be pushing yourself hard in the direction of a diet. You’re not going to be pushing yourself hard to not overeat or binge eat. I just want you to be a little bit more observant of yourself, let’s say for two months. For two months I want to see if you could just kind of live your life and pretend this didn’t exist for the most part. I know that sounds crazy. I know that sounds a little weird. I know the challenge still exists for you. And we’re still going to work on it. But we’re going to work on it in some different ways.
So what I’m saying is I would love to see you take a little bit of the pressure off yourself because when you take some of the pressure off yourself you are going to learn more about who you are and what your resources truly are. And I really mean your inner resources because right now there’s so much confusion in this head, there’s no room. There’s no room. There’s no room for any more stuff in there right now. Your head is full of information. Your head is full of facts. Your head is full of detail. Your head is full of experiences. Your head is full of data points in terms of what works, what doesn’t, macronutrients and all that kind of stuff. It’s full. I don’t want to fill it up with anything else. I want to start to empty that head out a little bit so you can start to feel a little more.
So one of the pieces of the puzzle is that, yeah, you will use food, not just the eating of food, so you can say I emotionally eat. That might be very well true. But here’s the thing. Your relationship with food and body right now is your primary relationship. It occupies a lot of your air time. And one of the purposes that it has is that it actually diverts you from your inner experience a little bit because you’ve got all kinds of interesting emotions going on there. We don’t even know what they are. So when you tell me yeah, I bump into my parents around town, and I feel really uncomfortable, I know over here, at the end of the day — and I’m telling you this just as your older brother on the journey here; I’m older than you; I’ve just been around the corner longer; I’ve been studying this stuff longer, what happens is as we are able to meet our parents without much judgment, without reacting, without needing to run away, without needing to do anything, is we look at them as people. And our insides are clear. We’re okay. It’s like hey, how you doing? Big hug.
When we get to that place, you’re dramatically more free. As a human being you’re dramatically more empowered. You’ll be more empowered about your body. You’re going to be more empowered about your relationship that you’re in now and your relationships, all of them, because our relationship with our parents informs every other relationship. And as long as we are in discomfort with them, that means there are just unresolved things. It happens. That’s the nature of the beast. That’s life. You didn’t have a perfect upbringing. Your parents weren’t the ideal parents, just weren’t. Most people could say that about their own parents. They weren’t ideal. I was not the ideal parent to my son. You will probably not be the ideal parent to your children. We’ll do our best. So all I’m saying is as a target to shoot for in the future, that’s where I want to see you go. But that takes a little bit of work. And in order to do that work we have to feel. We just have to feel. And in your family system, what I’m hearing is there’s been a little bit of a teaching called let’s not feel publicly or with each other. No, that gets swept under the rug. No, we don’t talk about that. No. And you’re a little bit borderline with that. You still believe in that, but you don’t. But you do, but you don’t. But you do. So you are still living in your parents’ house in that regards. I need you to start to choose who you want to be as an adult in this world independent of your parents. So you are independent of your parents, technically speaking. You don’t live with them. You live by yourself. You have your visits with your boyfriend. Who do you want to be? How do you want to show up? How do you want to talk to yourself? How do you want to believe? And more importantly, who do you want to be as an emotional woman, because the closer you play your cards, the harder it’s going to be for you, because you’re like everybody else.
You have emotions. And right now they get tied up in your relationship with food and in this drama we’re talking about. And they almost get buried in service to I need to lose weight. I’ve got these health issues. I’ve got these symptoms. Now I know you’ve got these symptoms. That’s legitimate. I know you want to lose weight. That’s legitimate. What I am saying to you is the most important thing I think for you to get where you want to go… so if I was going to get $100 million to help you lose weight permanently, this is exactly what I would be saying to you. If I was going to win a lot of money, and that was going to motivate me, I would be saying the exact thing, which is Kelly first needs to reacquaint herself with her emotional self. And this is emotional stuff. And I’m wanting to see you have friends that you can cry with and vent to in a big way and get real messy. I would love to see you get more messy in private, just messy, tissues all over the place. Do you ever do that?
Kelly: With myself, yeah, not with anyone else.
Marc: Do you have a girlfriend or girlfriends you could do that with?
Kelly: Not really, no.
Kelly: I probably could, but I don’t. Yeah, I’ve always been kind of a mother figure to them, at least the younger ones. So I just don’t do that.
Marc: Here’s what it is to me. It’s almost like there’s this part of you that you don’t feed. There’s this part of you that gets an empty plate, and it’s called the emotional part of Kelly. You just give her two little beans on a plate. The rest of you gets to eat. She doesn’t. And comes the weekend, it makes sense to me that you go for food. There is no way right now that I would try to take that away from you because that’s actually a way that you feel more intimate with yourself. You feel more connected. It actually helps you cycle some of your emotions, believe it or not. It doesn’t do it fully at all. But it’s the closest substitute for you to feel emotions because it’s just like oh my God, I want this. Oh my God, I need this. Oh my God, I’ve got to go for this. Oh my God, I feel better. Oh my God, I shouldn’t be doing this. So all these emotions start to circulate when you emotionally eat. So you’re reserving your emotional life for the plate. And it belongs to other places as well.
So I’m not saying to you don’t emotional eat. You have to right now in order for you to cycle some of your emotions. It helps you move there. So you will need to emotionally eat as long as you are a cool poker player. As long as you think you’ve got to play the role of Mom, as long as you think you’ve got to isolate and do this by yourself, that’s as long as you’re going to need to emotionally eat. So you have to create new family for yourself, chosen family, meaning you’re going to do a do over in a weird way now. And you’re going to start to surround yourself with people that can help bring you up and raise you in the direction you want to go, help uplift you. You need people you can have a 30 tissue evening with.
Kelly: It’s funny because I think I’ve known that. And I’ve started that process. I’ve found those people, but they’re kind of just there. And I haven’t taken it to the next step yet. I haven’t taken it to the next level just because I’m afraid to. I’m afraid to go there.
Marc: Okay. So I’m glad you said this. That’s very honest, and it’s very sweet, and thank you for saying that. And also, there’s a part of you that knows that. So I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. All I’m doing over here is I’m giving my opinions. And you’re measuring that against your own experience. That’s a very wise thing to do. So it’s not about me being right or wrong. It’s about me saying and you going, “Hmm, how does that land for me? How does that resonate for me?”
So here’s what I want to say to you. You have a very interesting definition of the word restriction. You have a very interesting relationship with the word restriction. And let me just spend a few minutes with this, tell you what I mean, and we’ll see if this is at all useful for you or helpful for you. The key thing that you told me that derails you when you’re on a diet or any kind of program is that at some point you feel this is restricting to me. And when I feel restricted, that sends me into a certain way of being that I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be in restriction because that’s not healthy for me. And I will agree with you. There’s a place where you don’t want to be in that unhealthy zone. What I believe you call restriction, really what you’re saying is obsession. When I start to get obsessive, that is unhealthy for me. Substitute the word obsessive for restrictive, restriction. When I get obsessive, oh my God, I shouldn’t eat this. Oh my God, I should do this. Oh my God, oh no, if I don’t do this, I’m going to be really screwed. And it’s like I did it, I didn’t do it. And it’s this obsessive nature that takes over and runs your brain.
Restriction, on the other hand, is really creating boundaries and definitions and guidelines. The light is red, and it says don’t walk, don’t walk. Otherwise you run the risk of getting killed. That ain’t a restriction. It’s not a restriction. It’s just smart freaking rules and guidelines that will help you. You are calling that don’t walk sign as a restriction. Why? Because there’s a little rebellious part of you that’s an eight year old girl. No eight year old girl should be on a freaking diet. No eight year old girl should be teased or made fun of or bullied. No eight year old girl should feel less than comparing herself to her sisters. No eight year old girl should be in any way disrespected or disregarded because of her body, her shape, or her weight.
So okay, you decide that wait a second, let me change my food. This will maybe somehow help me. And it feels like restriction because to a child’s mind, to an eight year old mind, it kind of is. There’s some voice saying, “You can’t do that.” And that voice looms large in your head. You can’t do that. You take the goodies away. So there’s an eight year old girl in you that rebels every time somebody’s trying to take something away from you because any good eight year old girl, any smart eight year old girl, is going to go. “No, I don’t want to diet. That’s nonsense.” So that’s the appropriate response for an eight year old, not for a 29 year old. For a 29 year old the appropriate response is, “Okay, what works, what doesn’t? What helps me, what hinders me? What advances me, what moves me back?” Simple in principle, not easy to practice, I understand that. What I’m saying is simple in principle, but I at least want you to understand the principle that I’m trying to outline here.
So what’s happening for you here is that you are growing up. You’re growing up. You’re 29. You’re growing up. You’re becoming more of an adult. I ask you adult questions. What do you want to be in five years? I want to have a better job. I want my relationship to deepen. Great. That’s a grown up question. And it’s a grown up answer because we’re growing up. And you’re trying to grow up in relationship with your body, in relationship with food, because you didn’t learn good skills for that. You weren’t taught good skills by the world. And there’s no fault here, by the way. I hope you know that. You were not given good skills. You were not given good information. You were not given what you needed to metabolize your life, to understand food, to understand your emotions, to understand what the hell’s going on here. You didn’t get any help whatsoever, as far as I can tell. So you were kind of on your own trying to figure it out. And you’ve done a really good job because what you’ve been trying to figure out is almost impossible to figure out on your own, almost impossible. And that’s why the diet industry around the planet is a $500 billion a year industry, because no one can freaking figure it out.
So this is me and you figuring it out for you as best we can, okay? So as best we can, what I’m saying to you is, once again, for me to get my $100 million by helping you lose weight, how I would do it is I would say, “Kelly, we are going to focus on the emotional you because I think that is the key to the kingdom because when you start feeding your emotional life with friends, with girlfriends, I would love for you to reach out to one sister who would be the easiest one for you to start an open, honest, real conversation with and evolve those relationships. They’re your sisters. You probably love each other, is my guess. And you’re probably all trying to play your cards close because what’s what you were taught. And you’re probably all wishing you were closer. And nobody says anything to anybody. And you’re probably all really cool people.
So you need girlfriends. I mean that. I really mean that. If you can get a coach, if you can get somebody who’s a mentor, whether you pay them or not, somebody who’s there for you that you can just be your emotional self with and be messy and not have to justify it. So here’s what I want to say to you. There are no justifications. I’m feeling bad today because… or I hate myself because… No, just let it out. I want you to be able to say whatever you want to say and just talk until you’re exhausted because my guess is there are a lot of words in there. And there are a lot of tears in there. There are a lot of laughs in there.
My sense is you’re also not aware of your own power. I mean that. And part of that’s just a function of your age. So when I look at you I see a very powerful lady who sits on her power, meaning it’s kind of like you’ve got a winning lottery ticket in your pocket, but you haven’t looked at your ticket. And you’re walking around kind of feeling short handed not knowing you’ve got a winning ticket. If you knew you had a winning ticket, you’d be so happy. But you just haven’t looked at the ticket yet. And that’s okay. It takes time sometimes. But what I want to say is that you’ve got way more going for you to me than you know, than you can imagine, in a good way. And the way you start to meet her and meet your destiny more and meet your power more is to start to get more cozy and comfortable with your emotional self. And the way you start to get more cozy and comfortable with your emotional self is to realize that your emotional self oftentimes is a mess. And you don’t like messes emotionally. Is that true?
Kelly: Yeah, that is very true.
Marc: Yeah, so it gets messy. You don’t have to be messy in public. I just want you to be messy behind closed doors. I want you to meet that part of you because when you do you’re going to start to be more free.
There’s something I talk about in our professional training to our coach trainees. And it’s how weight is oftentimes potential energy that is stored. According to science, fat on one’s body is considered stored energy. So if somebody’s carrying around 50 extra pounds, it’s considered stored energy. And what they mean is stored caloric energy. That’s a certain degree where that’s true. Sure, stored energy, right, you could burn it and use it for energy. Oftentimes it’s also stored emotional energy. It’s stored power. It’s stored brilliance. It’s stored inspiration. It’s stored anger. It’s stored rage. It’s stored love, energy for life, fuel for life, all of it. There’s a place where, in my belief, some of your extra weight is just your energy. It’s your expression.
So it’s not about losing weight for you. For you it’s about expressing yourself. If you freaking focus on losing weight, losing weight, losing weight, you’re focusing in the wrong direction. That’s like saying, “I need more money. Let me focus on money. Do I print it? No, that’s illegal. Do I steal it” — focus on the money — “that’s illegal. I could borrow it.” Okay, but that doesn’t really teach you how to make money. So if we’re going to really focus on money, maybe we focus on a skill. Maybe we focus on a career path. So we’re trying to draw an analogy. You’re focusing on a bunch of body pounds. That’s where your focus has been. In order to lose weight, you’ve been focusing on the pounds themselves, which means you focus on exercise, which means you focus on diet.
That has not worked for you. The reason why it hasn’t worked is it’s not your road. It’s not your road to take that’s going to take you there. You are discovering that. I am over here raising my hand saying me being fanatic about this kind of stuff, that’s what I personally see here. It’s not going to be your road. Your road is going to be being you. And when you be you, your body can be it. When you be the real you, your body can be the real it. If your body has a real weight, if your body has a natural weight, it will track the natural you for many, many people. Is this true for every single human? No. Do I think it’s true for you? Absolutely. Your weight will track you. As you start to be you, your body can then start to find its more rightful place. So that’s why I’m asking you to defocus on the weight for two months because I want you to start to focus on you a little bit more. I want you to focus on girlfriends. I want you to focus on reaching out to a sister. I want you to focus on emotions. I want you to focus on having crying sessions and talking sessions. And just literally I want you to think, “Huh, Marc said be messy, messy, snotty, tears, crying, don’t hold back, doesn’t matter.” That’s going to help grease the wheels and get things moving for you and help you start to access you more.
So I’m talking away here quite a bit. How are you doing? How’s this all landing for you? Tell me how you’re digesting this.
Kelly: Well you talked about how I needed girlfriends, I needed to express myself more. And I’ve known that for a while. And I’ve been slowly working towards that I think. But I guess I just never realized that that could be tied into my health issues or my weight issues. So I’m kind of trying to digest that still.
Marc: Got it. So I’m going to leave you with that thought because that’s what’s on the table here. And we’re at that time. And what I want to say to you is I feel pretty strongly about this for you. And I really want you to think about it. And I really want you to consider it because if dieting and exercise would’ve worked, it would’ve worked for you. And what I’m saying is your emotional eating, it’s an interesting term, emotion and eating. It’s connecting the dots for us. So it means that the answer’s found in the emotional realm oftentimes. So it’s not about stopping emotional eating. It’s about you beginning your emotional journey in a whole new way, is what I’m suggesting for you. And I would love for you to consider that.
And we are at that time. And Miss Kelly, you have been very, very generous and honest talking about showing up with one’s emotional self. You have been doing that this entire conversation. To me you’ve been very brave. You’ve been very honest. You’ve been very real. You’ve been a little messy. And when I say messy, that’s a compliment. I really mean that. I know you got the part of you that’s well put together and that’s organized and that’s on target. And I get it. And she’s beautiful and wonderful. And you’ve got these other parts of you as well that need to be honored in addition. And we get to have a follow up session in a bunch of months. And I look forward to that and just kind of checking in and seeing how you’re doing.
Kelly: Me too, I think it’ll be good.
Marc: Yeah. Kelly, thank you so much for being along for the ride here and being so willing to hang in there. I really appreciate it.
Kelly: Thank you too, Marc. I really appreciate your time. It’s an honor.
Marc: Okay, same here, Miss Kelly. You take care.
Kelly: All right. You too. Bye bye.
Marc: And you take care everybody else. I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast.
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 the 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.tips. T-i-p-s. 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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