When she became a mother, Linda found that the strategies she had been using to keep her weight under control weren’t working anymore. She left her physically active backcountry job so that she could be available to her family, but the change in her lifestyle led to weight gain that left Linda feeling uncomfortable in her body. To make matters worse, her husband criticized and shamed her for eating too much and “letting herself go.” In this poignant session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, suggests that Linda might need to look in an unexpected direction to find the answers to her weight questions. Tune in and see why, in order to change her body, Linda first had to make some big changes in the way she sees herself.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And here we are in the Psychology of Eating Podcast. I’m with Linda today. Welcome, Linda.
Linda: Thank you.
Marc: Yay! Glad you’re here.
Linda: Thrilled to be here.
Marc: So for viewers and listeners who are new to the Psychology of Eating Podcast, here’s what this is about. This is a live client session. Linda and I have not worked together before in this way.
This is our opportunity to get together. Linda, what you want to work on? I’m going to ask questions for about 15-20 minutes. Then we’re going to just launch in and see if we can make some changes and make some shifts. Does that feel good for you?
Linda: Yes, it would.
So if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you want from this session, what would that look like for you?
Linda: Well, I would love to be able to learn to nourish myself in a way that is in tune with my body and in my natural flow. I’d like to improve my health and lose some weight, but in a way that is not focused on deprivation and control, which is what I’ve always done in the past to lose weight. Learn to do this in a way that sets a good example for my daughter, who’s 11.
I have an idea of what’s causing a lot of these issues, but I don’t seem to be enlightened enough or resonating in a high enough level to be able to see the solutions. So I’m hoping that we can come up with something.
Marc: If you could define the issue, like you said, “I think I have some ideas of what’s causing these issues.” What feels like the issue or the issues for you?
Linda: Well, I know that I’m emotionally eating quite a bit. We’re under quite a bit of family stress right now. Also probably due to my past of “all or nothing,” masculine, left-brain health techniques. They’re also contributing to make it difficult right now.
Marc: So “your past” meaning you’ve done a lot of dieting or… Explain.
Linda: Yes. Well, I didn’t really have to worry about my weight until I was about 30. And then I felt like I had this in my 20s. And then I got married and felt like I had to make, I don’t know, better meals or something.
So I started eating in a way that wasn’t really natural to me. More fat, cheese, carbs, and all of the things that maybe aren’t that good for me. But I sort of kept it in control in my 30s because I had a really manual labor job for seven or eight months of the year. So in the winter, a little bit I’d pack on the pounds, but I always knew that I’d lose it later.
So it wasn’t until after I had my child when I was 37, probably the next year, that I started to really gain weight and not seem to be able to lose it. Then I started on more extreme measures. I was kind of in a bad place at that time. I was trying to work and have a baby. I wasn’t eating well. I was drinking too much. I was working too hard. It all sort of came tumbling down.
So I quit my job. My self-esteem plummeted because I wasn’t contributing financially to the family. I really threw myself into a transformation. It was this 100 percent on. At the time it felt great. I thought I was doing something wonderful for myself and my body.
Marc: What do you mean, “I threw myself into a transformation?” What does that mean?
Linda: I was eating completely clean, exercising full on, not missing any workouts, not blowing off my diet at all.
And I realize now that I was just sort of replacing one addiction with another.
It was my way of gaining some control, when I didn’t feel like I had a lot.
Marc: How much weight do you want to lose?
Linda: Well, I think it would be great to lose about 50 pounds. The funny thing is I’m not naturally heavy, like I think I have to work for this. Why I’m doing that, I don’t know.
Marc: When was the last time you were 50 pounds less?
Linda: Four years ago and probably 10 times in the five years before that between being heavy.
Marc: So you have to work to get there. You have to do a lot. It sounds like you have to do a lot of diet watching and exercises. Is that true?
Linda: I think I have to work to get heavy. That’s what I don’t understand. I don’t understand why I’m doing this. I think because I had been in the natural flow of my life, I think I can do it. I just don’t know why I’m having so much trouble doing it now.
Marc: Can I ask how old you are?
Marc: Are you under a doctor’s care? Do you know where you are on the menopause spectrum?
Linda: Probably peri-, pre-. It hasn’t started yet, but I have some symptoms. I think it’s coming.
Marc: How tall are you?
Marc: How much are you weighing right now?
Marc: So you want to lose 50 pounds and previously you’ve been kind of yoyo dieting. It sounds like you’re either on or off. Is that true?
Linda: Absolutely, yeah. I’ll go on sort of a hard-course, strict regimen. It literally lasts about three hours, as long as it takes to maybe snap some pictures and get to the closest focus on it, and then it’s all up from there.
Marc: Meaning what? Say that in different words.
Linda: I gain weight instantly right away after. I don’t maintain at all. It’s one or the other. I’m gaining or losing.
Marc: Where do you hold steady?
Linda: Well, I’ve been at this weight for a few years now. I stopped dieting about four years ago. But I haven’t found something to replace it with. I’m eating nutrient-dense food. I’m just eating too much. I don’t know why I can’t seem to stop that.
Marc: I get it. Are you eating three meals a day?
Linda: Three and probably a couple of snacks.
Marc: When do you think you eat too much food? Which meals? Which snacks?
Linda: It’s actually right now all of them. When I’m trying to lose weight, it’s later in the day. But right now, it’s basically all of them.
Marc: Do you tend to be a fast eater, a moderate eater, or a slow eater?
Linda: Yeah, I’ve been really working on this, but I’d say I’m still a fast eater.
I think it has something to do with hiding the evidence.
Marc: Do you find you eat in secret when it looks like your snacking or overeating or…?
Linda: Sometimes. Yup.
Marc: When was the first time you started dieting? How old were you?
Linda: I’ve done a few little things in my 30s, but like I say it wasn’t really a huge issue then. It was probably whatever was on the cover of the women’s magazine at the checkout stand. But seriously, after my child was born.
Marc: And you’re married right now?
Marc: How’s your husband with his weight?
Linda: He is pretty good. He doesn’t have to work very hard at it. Sometimes he feels like he’s gained too much. But he almost just has to think about losing it and it comes off. He does not work very hard at it.
Marc: And how is he with your weight?
Linda: Not good.
Marc: Tell me what that means?
Linda: He’s very judgmental and really tries to shame me to change, which made it harder to change. Some days I want to go for a walk, and then he’ll say, “You better go for a walk” or something. I don’t want to go then.
Sometimes it’s really discreet for a long time just sort of sighing if I have an extra plate of food or an extra serving. And then sometimes just outright loses it.
Marc: So “losing it” means what?
Linda: Ranting and raving about it. Like last summer, we were going out in a big sailing holiday with friends. Just the day before, he sort of lost it like, “Here we are, another sailing season. We spend all this money on coaching tuition and you’re still fat.”
Marc: That must be hard for you.
Marc: Have you ever had a conversation with him about changing the dialogue?
Linda: Lots, yeah.
Mark: What happens?
Linda: It will be good for a while and then it will be back that way again.
If you had the ideal weight right now and he was happy about your weight, what’s the one thing you would want to change in your relationship to make better?
Linda: Respect. I would like to be accepted for what I am, no matter what that is.
Marc: Are there places other than weight where he can kind of get picky and judge-y, and that sort of thing?
Linda: Yeah. We’re struggling with some issues around our daughter right now. So that’s another challenge.
Marc: What happens? It’s sort of his way or the highway?
Linda: Yeah. She’s having trouble. Doctors are calling it extreme anxiety disorder. She has trouble getting to school a lot. We deal with it in really different ways. I try to talk to her and find out what’s really going on. His way is to drag her screaming to the car and then screaming into school, and have her restrained there. She just had to better accept that or not. I don’t even know if she really has a severe anxiety disorder. I think she’s just really super sensitive. She’s like you’ve talked about, the canary in the coal mine.
She is in tune. She knows what her body needs. It’s amazing. I think that it’s kind of interesting that everybody wants to medicate her out of where I’m trying to get to. But yeah, to answer your question, that’s another area of stress in our relationship.
What do you think is causing your daughter’s anxiety about going to school?
Linda: Perfectionism. Her teacher says she’s the best student in the class. She listens attentively. Her first drafts of things are better than everybody else’s edited ones, but she’s trying too hard to be perfect in it. It catches up to herself after a while because obviously you can’t be, right? And that also is part of the reason why, when I recognize that in her, I stopped dieting because I didn’t want to pass that on to her. I don’t ever want her to deal with those issues.
Marc: So you think it’s perfectionism. You know she’s such a good student and then she gets anxious about going to school because…
Linda: Because she can never be perfect. And also she’s very sensitive, so like she feels people too much. It’s hard just to get through at middle school when you feel so deeply. It’s sort of combination. And she can’t be perfect in class obviously.
It started when academic expectations went up. The earlier grades were no problem because you could almost be perfect. The teacher always says, “Oh, that’s wonderful.” But then the higher expectations…
Marc: Let me ask you this question, Linda. I just like to make up scenarios just to kind of play. Let’s say you knew for a fact that your weight was going to stay exactly like this for the rest of your life. We’re just playing here. What would you do?
Linda: That’s really a good question. It’s hard to answer because I know I’ve been putting so many things on hold until I reached… and for me it’s not just about the weight.
It’s about, for example, I want to be a coach and how can you do that if you’re living a really unhealthy lifestyle, right?
It’s a little bit more about the way that I’m living my life than the weight. But I guess I just have to do it anyway. Live anyway and accept myself the way that I am.
Marc: But that doesn’t sound like a very nice proposition at all for you? No, that’s sounds terrible. Is your mom still alive?
Marc: Are you close?
Marc: How’s her relationship with her body, her weight?
Linda: Good. I don’t ever remember her ever being on a diet. We live in a little orchard and ate really healthy food. Lots of fruit and vegetables. My parents are kind of “salt to the earth” people. I don’t they’d ever even think about dieting. She’s been slim all her life and so is my dad.
Marc: Give me a sense also, just a couple of sentences or less, what is a typical breakfast for you?
Linda: When I’m on or when I’m off?
Marc: When you’re off.
Linda: A couple of pieces of turkey bacon, an egg, and a piece of bread toast.
Marc: That’s off?
Marc: Keep going. So when you’re off, what does lunch look like?
Linda: Usually, leftovers from the day before. I try to always have something on hand to warm up. It sort of depends too. My life is really divided into two seasons — my full-on work season and my off season. So if I’m talking about my off season which is about four or five months of the year when I’m home more, it’s usually leftovers heated up and whatever else is around. Often then I’ll maybe eat a little bit too many processed or starchy carbs at lunch time.
Marc: What is dinner looking like when you’re off?
Linda: It’s pretty nutritious. Again, a little bit too much fat maybe like a pasta, meat, and vegetable. We always have a reasonable amount of vegetables with every meal. But, yeah, maybe a bit too much. Again I’m trying to please other people with my cooking and not maybe eating what naturally is right for me. So more fatty foods.
Marc: So what would be natural for you if you were making the dinner? Give me an idea.
Linda: It will be lower fat. I might have a little bit of pasta with some protein and a vegetable, but not like a really nice cheese sauce or something to have it in. I wouldn’t make a salad that’s full of high-calorie dressing. I’d eat enough and I wouldn’t totally deprive myself. But I wouldn’t eat quite as fatty food as I’m eating now or as much of it.
Marc: Are you on any kind of prescription meds right now?
Linda: I have asthma, so I have two inhalers. And I take something for high blood pressure.
Marc: How long have you been on high blood pressure medication?
Linda: On and off, for about 8 years.
Marc: Any side effects to those that you notice?
Linda: I had a diuretic for a while. I didn’t feel very good on that. But she’s changed my medication and it’s better.
Let me ask you this question — if you lost the weight, how would life be different?
Linda: Well, I’d have a lot of self-esteem back. For me, it’s more about not having to worry about the weight. I think I’ll have a lot more energy to do what I’m called to do in my life. I really want to be a coach, but I don’t feel very worthy right now. I really think that because of all of my experience and wonderful training, I think I could be a really good coach.
Also I would show up differently in the world. Like I talk about my daughter withdrawing. Well, I have, too.
I hide my heart under my fat.
And then I hide my fat under this huge hoodie that I wear whenever I go out and about town. I’ve withdrawn from my life, too. And I want to get back out there and feel proud of who I am.
Marc: Got it. So I have some thoughts about you and weight, and food and life. Let me just take a couple of minutes to piece them together. And then we’ll see what lands and what’s helpful for you.
As I’m listening to you speak, I’m really getting how you’ve kind of been just up and down. It really is what we often talk about as yoyo dieting — I gain weight and I lose it. I’m either on the diet or I’m off the diet.
I think of yoyo dieting as being in your car and driving down the country road. You’re driving down the country road with this one lane that you’re in and there’s another lane coming against traffic. Instead of just following the straight country road, you’re going like this.
Now you’ll still get where you need to go, but it’s a weird ride. It’s dangerous. It’s very discombobulating to be going down the road like that where it’s just as easy to go straight.
Yoyo dieting is really about yoyo kind of mind.
Linda: Yeah, I get that.
Marc: When I asked you what’s the big win when you lose the weight, you said, “I’d have my self-esteem back.” Now what’s interesting to me is that you’ve been at the target weight that you want before and you don’t stay there.
In my estimation, one of the key things that you’re looking for is your self-esteem. You’re looking to hit the place where, “Here is me. I’m comfortable with myself. I’m okay with myself. It feels good to be me. I’m going to do the things that I can do that I want to do, that I’m called to do, that’s kind of in me that I just want to do. But I don’t have my self-esteem because I look like this.”
Linda: And I’m behaving badly.
Marc: Right… so what happens is when you’re behaving badly, of course, you’re going to punish yourself even more. It’s kind of this little trigger because when we’re on the “all or nothing diet,” as soon as you deviate slightly, for most people that’s the sign that, “Okay, I’m dropping off the face of the earth now. I did that one little thing wrong, therefore everything collapses.”
Now we’re going to get back to that in a second. Your daughter is living under that umbrella. I’m not saying it’s your fault. I just want you to hear that. But you guys are in the same little tribe. The little “tribe” meaning you, your husband and your daughter.
So here’s you looking for your self-esteem.
You get to the weight you want and you still technically don’t have the self-esteem.
Otherwise, you would stay there. So then the belief, for some reason, gets further entrenched that, “But really when I lose this weight, then I’ll have my self-esteem back.”
That’s the place where I want to see you make an intervention in your own mind and in your own life. Because you hitting that weight, having your self-esteem, and feeling good about yourself doesn’t really happen. It might happen. You probably get high for a little bit. You probably feel good for a little bit. And then things start falling apart.
Linda: Yeah, I sort of get that. That’s why I haven’t done it for so long. But then I haven’t, like I said, found a way to get to what I want.
Marc: I think partly because you’re trying to focus on the food. Partly because you can’t figure out how to do the food thing. You’re trying to figure out, “Well, what do I have to do with the food, the body, the meals, the fats, the exercise, and whatever it is?”
I would love to see you put weight loss aside for a while, but in a very different way than you’ve put it aside. Because you’ve kind of put it aside right now, you’ve taken step one, which is to say, “Whoa! This isn’t working really.” But you’re not quite sure why it’s not working.
So my sense of why it’s not working is because you’re looking for love in all the wrong places. The “love” means “I love myself.” The “love” means “I acknowledge myself. I accept myself. I’m not going to kick my own butt all the time.”
You’re looking for love through weight loss.
You’re looking for self-esteem through weight loss. And it has to come from a different place at this point.
I truly don’t know if you’ve ever had yourself in the way that you want to have yourself. I was particularly interested hearing about you and your husband because he’s not making the job easy for you. I’m just going to step to your side of the court for a moment and just be your advocate. So, I’m not making him a bad guy, at all. But if I’m on your side and I’m advocating for you, then that kind of dynamic does not work for you. It is hard to help your loved one find their self-esteem by shaming them in that direction.
Now, he doesn’t know a better way right now. He’s wired differently. My guess is there’s a part of you because of our roles as men and women that, “Okay, well, he’s the husband and he’s got the bigger voice. He’s got the bigger temper and all that kind of stuff.” He gets his way because he got the biggest temper. It’s what it feels like.
That doesn’t work for you — clearly. Even you reaching the weight, there’s no guarantee. What’s going to happen is, my guess is as you reach the weight, there’s still a gun pointed to your head by you and him. Because then, if you gain the weight back, you’re going to be right back to square one.
So, it’s kind of the ecosystem that you’re living in does not allow you to relax into yourself. Because if you don’t have the weight, you’re bad. If you don’t have the weight that you want, you’re bad. If you do have it, you can drop into bad at any given moment, which is what’s happened in the past.
Of course, it’s going to be hard for you. Because you hit that place, it’s not sustainable given how you’re doing it. And what I believe is that as you start to find your self-esteem, first and foremost, independent of how the heck much you weigh, then you will start to drop in and be able to really for the first time get where you want to go in a sustainable way.
It’s hard to stick to a way of eating that’s natural and nourishing for us if I exist in a way of thinking that’s not natural and nourishing to me. The way of thinking that you’re living in is, “I’m no good. I don’t have self-esteem because I don’t look a certain way. He won’t love me and I won’t love me. Whoever else we make up won’t love me until I hit that place.”
To me, there’s a part of you that just needs to step in to your warrior woman here.
Just step in to your warrior woman and begin to create some boundaries for yourself with your husband as best as you can.
I don’t know what kind of help you can get, if there’s coaching or counseling that you guys can get. Because believe it or not, I think there’s a lot of action that can happen there, when your voice starts to be heard in a whole different way.
Because what’s happening is, he’s not only shaming you around your weight. If a man shames a woman around her weight, he has the voice of all the haters coming through him. You know what I’m saying? It’s not like, “Oh, he’s being such a jerk! Nobody else does that but my husband.”
No, there’s a lot of people who do that. There’s a lot of men who do that. There’s a lot of women who do that. So when somebody shames us for how we look or shames us for our weight, they have the invisible voices of all the culture and all the weight-haters behind them. So it lands even harder in our system because there’s so much “weight hate” in the atmosphere.
You have a difficult job right now. It’s not easy, but I think it’s really important. If I was getting paid 10 million dollars right now to help you lose the weight that you want to lose forever in an easy and sustainable way so you never have to worry about it, this is the approach I would take.
Now, if I was getting paid 10 million dollars to help you lose the weight in three months. Sure, you and I would do all the nonsense that you’ve done before. You’d lose it. We push you. We force you. We shove you. And then you lose the weight. But because you don’t have yourself and because there’s this constant threat in your environment and in your head that, “Oh, my god! You’re going to go back there,” it means you don’t have yourself yet.
“Having yourself” means that “I’m going to love myself, and stand by and accept myself no matter what I weigh.
Do I want to weigh different? Sure. Do I want to weigh less? Sure. But I’m not going to smack myself down. I’m not going to hate on myself because I’m not there.”
That would be no different than you saying to your daughter, “You know, I don’t want you to be my daughter anymore. You suck. You’re not so good. I don’t like how you show up. When you show up the way society likes and that I think is better, then I’m going to love you again. But until then, you actually can’t be the real you.” It will be horrible if you say that to her.
Linda: She gets that already.
Marc: Right? But that’s the dialogue that I’m saying is in your head right now. This is about you claiming your power as a woman. It’s about you claiming yourself in relationship with men, and in particular, with your husband. I don’t know how that’s going to look for you. But what I do know is that you have to stand by yourself and not get bullied and not get insulted. It’s not okay.
One insult is not okay. It’s no different than somebody throwing a rock at you. It’s not okay, especially not from your loved ones. Especially not from the guy that you live with because that’s going to smack your self-esteem down.
And the shift that has to happen starts with you. It doesn’t start with your body looking different because we’ve been there and done that.
Linda: Yeah. I’ve known that for a while since I started to follow you. I just have a hard time figuring out how to get there. But I’ll keep listening.
Marc: So how to get there is very small and deliberate baby steps right now around having a conversation with your husband. Either between the both of you or between somebody who could facilitate a conversation like that, where you’re having a “Come to Jesus” conversation and you’re letting Him know what does not work. You draw a boundary around insults and you draw a boundary around shaming.
I can get where that might be scary for you. That’s the place where you claim your dignity. That’s the place where you claim your self-acceptance. Again, previously you’re putting the weight loss and the dieting aside because you’re not quite sure how to do it anymore to get where you want to go because you know it’s not working.
Now, I want you to put it aside with the caveat that, “Here is what I’m working on.” For the first time in your life to hang out for three, four, five, six months, and allow yourself to start to love this body as it is. And allow yourself to feel some self-dignity as you are right now.
We’re putting this on pause because you have all this stress hanging over you about the weight. You’ve set it up that, “I need to loss this weight to get where I want to go.” So I want you to disprove that to yourself.
You don’t need to lose that weight to get to where you want to go.
In fact, focusing on the weight to find your self-esteem is a dead-end.
It sounds impossible. Linda, I have to tell you. It’s one of the weird conundrums of life because I’m with you. I look the way exactly how I want to look. I’m going to feel better about myself. But the reality is — and you know this. How many times have you met a woman, a man who has all the perfect good looks and they still have low self-esteem. They still don’t love it.
Marc: Lots! I’ve been meeting them since I’ve been in junior high school. They could be adults now. They can have everything and still be suicidal. So, what we learn on a more soul level, on a deeper level is that for many people, for many us, we can’t change the outer first in order to feel better.
We have to work on the inner. That might sound cliché. It might sound, “Oh yeah, okay, I get that. Now, let me try to lose weight,” because you always want to slip into that. Finding your self-esteem means being more of a bulldog. Being stronger and being your own guard dog, really protecting yourself. And if somebody tries to take down your self-esteem, whether it’s your husband or it’s you, I want you to start barking.
Externally or internally, you have to develop an immune response in your mind to the places where you start to drain your self-esteem and you drain self-dignity in the moment. That’s a practice. It’s really about you kind of claiming “you” for the first time ever.
How’s all these landing for you?
Linda: It really resonates deeply. It makes tons of sense. I can see that that’s what I have to work on now. I kind of have it a little bit. But hearing it coming from you that way, it really enforces that.
Marc: One of the big pieces also, Linda, is I really want you to consider this one — stop apologizing.
What I mean is you do not have to apologize to anyone for your weight or your diet or your relationship with food.
You don’t necessarily apologize in a very verbal way. “Oh, I’m sorry for having this extra weight or I’m sorry for going off my diet.” But there’s an apology that kind of lives with you. It’s like this little birdie that sits on your shoulder that’s apologizing for who you are.
You don’t need to apologize. Zero! You’re fine who you are. You’re somewhere in the game. This happens for most of us. We get certain messages and they get in. We hear certain things. We adopt certain beliefs and they get in. We start to believe, “I’m not good enough.” We start to believe, “I’m not okay as who I am.”
And then we develop all kinds of behaviors that reinforce that. One of the behaviors for you that reinforces are “I’m not okay. I’m not good enough. I’m not lovable. I apologize. I’m sorry for being me. I promise I’ll be a good girl. I’ll get on the diet and I’ll be a good girl.”
I don’t want you to be a good girl. I want you to take care of yourself, but that’s different from being a good girl. When you go into “good girl” you’re thinking, “Okay, big people who are tougher than me, have more self-worth than me, and more valuable than me, look, I’m going to go on this nice diet so I can lose weight, so you’re going to accept me.” You kind of drop in into being that 13-year-old girl who wants approval. It doesn’t work for you. That’s a lifelong strategy that wants to change.
It’s you really, really, really stepping into your royalty. It’s stepping into your queenhood. It’s stepping into your dignity on a day-to-day basis. You won’t get there tomorrow or the next day. This is slow digging. It’s the worst kind of work for most people because it’s not like winning a lottery. It’s not like taking a pill. It’s not instant gratification. It’s going to bring up a lot of challenge.
One of the reasons, it’s hard for you to slow down with food is if you start to slow down, what’s going to happen is you’re going to start to feel more.
Some of those feelings are going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to be feelings of, “I don’t love myself.” Feelings of “I’m not good enough.” and it’s going to be feeling of, “I’m pissed off.” That’s in there too for you.
So I want you to start to notice how– and it’s never too late to work on self. The things I’m saying to you, it’s like the work never stops. We could be on our deathbed. I watched both my parents on their deathbeds. They were still having insights and realizations. They were still going, “Oh, my goodness! I did this. I did that. I wish I could have done this better.” People die with those thoughts.
So while we’re living, I would love to see you get where you want to go. And “you getting where you want to go” means you’re owning “you” more. One of the ways to get there is to start to monitor yourself. Watch when you are living in an apology. Sometimes it’s just how you’re sitting and being with yourself. Sometimes, it’s how you’re holding yourself when you’re sitting with people or around your husband or here or there.
You’ve mentioned, “Well, I put on my hoodie and I don’t want you to see me.” I want people to see you. Here you are.
You deserve to be here as much as anyone else.
You work hard. You care. You’re a loving being. You’re doing the best you can. You’re raising a beautiful, amazing daughter. Congratulations! That ain’t easy. You have relationship challenges. Welcome to the club! Most people do when they’re in a relationship.
I want you to remember so, so well that your weight does not define you. I am all for you having the kind of body that makes you feel good. But what I am saying to you to win my imaginary 10 million dollars is that you have to put first things first because you’re strategy that you’ve been doing a long time does not work for you.
It’s going to take a lot of you digging deep into yourself and your soul to find that place where you go, “Oh, here’s how I want to proceed. Here’s a piece of my dignity.” And it’s you standing up for yourself like never before.
“Standing up for yourself” again means, “Even though I weigh this much or even though I might have just emotionally eat; I am still going to love. I’m still going to respect myself. I’m still going to do the best to help myself get up off the floor and start again. ” If you’re focused more on that, you will eventually find that you’re eating becomes a little more natural because right now when you’re eating, your mind gets very confused.
Eating is just a place of confusion for you because you’re trying to figure out again how to use the food to change the body. Nothing makes sense because you’ve read so many things. That’s why I’m asking you to just put that aside because you’ll never figure it out. It has to be a natural unfolding for you at this point.
If I was talking to somebody else, it might be a whole different story. We might be talking about, “Okay, let’s figure this out nutritionally.” Your fix, your shape shifting at this point in the game is not going to come from anything you do nutritionally in my belief.
<>h3>In my experience, based on what you’ve told me, it’s going to start with that inner shift first because once you have “you,” you will be able to relax into food a bit more.
Once you’re not worried about, “Oh, my God! How is this food going to impact my weight?” Because you’re still eating what you want, there’s still a little voice in the back of you going, “But I’m not okay how I look. So this food is impacting me, but I don’t want to deal with this.”
Linda: Pretty much, yeah.
Marc: So instead, you are dealing with this. We’re putting weight loss aside for a handful of months.
We’re focusing on the powerful question called, “How can I claim my self-dignity every day?
How can I claim my self respect every single day? How can I show my daughter and demonstrate to her just by who I am in my actions that I, her mother — who she’s going to be my age someday — show her what it’s like to be a woman who’s owning her body and her life no matter what?”
Linda: I need to do that.
Marc: Yeah, it’s a beautiful gift to give her. How are you doing?
Marc: Thoughts? Questions?
Linda: No, everything is really resonating with me. I have been really focused on the internal shift, so I’ve been trying to. But I’m not there yet. I haven’t thought so much about how I was putting myself out there in the world. That’s been something that I’ve really gained from this conversation. I am more trying to deal with how I deal with things inside, but I really need to put myself out there in a different way.
Yes, part of that means show up.
Part of that means look how you dress. Show up, move, dress, interact, and speak in a way where you weigh fifty pounds less.
Linda: Yeah, I’m burning the hoodie.
Marc: Good for you. I’d like to be there for that little barbeque. That should be really good. It’s that kind of thing. I really like that. I’m going to take this thing and torch it. I really would love to see the part of you that can be a, “Bitch, come out” or the part of you that could be a warrior-ess come out. The part of you that says, “Here’s a line. Do not cross it.”
There are certain things that you’re going to say. There are certain things that you can’t say because they’re insulting. “I am your daughter’s mother. Treat me with disrespect, you’re treating her with disrespect.” She’s going to learn that and she’s going to find a guy who she’s going to treat with disrespect.
Linda: I know. I have been saying that over and over again. It hasn’t been landing.
Marc: Well, you know something? It’s okay to keep saying it then. You don’t even have to say it to try to convince him. This is a little subtle thing. You say it because you know it in your bones. You’re not trying to defend yourself. You’re not even trying to prove yourself.
You’re just coming from a place where, “I am her mother. I see something you don’t. You need to get on board with this.” There it is! You spoke the truth. His choice to hear it or not.
But you have to continuously speak the truth inside and outside yourself.</h3
Outside especially for you because that’s how you claim your self-respect.
Linda: Yeah, I know. I was listening to Emily’s podcast on authenticity yesterday. I always thought I was authentic. But then when I listened to that, I realized I’m not really because I’m not speaking my truth strongly enough. I try to be honest and respectful of people, but that really hit home for me to hear it again now. I realized that I haven’t been.
Marc: And sometimes authenticity looks very sweet. Sometimes it’s very real. Sometimes, it’s very intimate. Sometimes it’s very loving. And sometimes it’s got a lot of fire to it.
I just really want you to find a place inside you where you vigorously defend your right to be honored and respected, and not smacked down.
“As long as I do that to myself it will be easier, there will be an invisible invitation for others to do it. If I am insulting myself, if I’m saying to me — “This body is not good enough. This being is not good enough. This weight, this portion is not good enough.” — It’s just a little bit easier to draw that to me.
Or it’s a little bit easier to imagine that that’s how the world is thinking about me. So, really the practice is you standing by “you” and you catching yourself. As soon as you start to apologize for who you are and what you look like, and even notice how you stand when you’re out and about, notice how you sit. Just catch yourself like, “How am I being right now with the people around me, just sitting here silently? Am I okay?”
Linda: I didn’t even realize I was doing that until I heard you say that. Yeah, I do. I need to work on that.
So that’s why I said it’s working on not letting your life and your body be an apology.
Your life and your body, it’s you. “I’m here. I made it. I’ve gotten this far. Yeah, I want to change certain things. But you know something? Let’s celebrate. Let’s spend some time being okay where I am and not having to manipulate this food and this body, so I can be different.” Because it’s exhausting. It doesn’t work. And you’re too old for this nonsense.
Linda: Yeah, that’s true.
Marc: It’s just a waste of your time at this point and your time is valuable.
Linda: Yeah, it is.
Marc: So what are some of the ways that you think you can live life as if you’re not apologizing, but you’re saying “I’m here”?
Linda: Well, I’m going to stop hiding. There’s so many things I don’t do any more. I don’t go to the pool. My daughter loves the pool. I haven’t taken her to the pool in years. I like the pool too, but I don’t go because I would be embarrassed.
Other things I like to do — I like to go to the cross-country ski trails and I just don’t like to go anywhere. I live in a small town. Everybody isn’t too far removed from each other. So I have this humiliation of gaining the weight back. Like I said I have been hiding.
I’m missing out on things that I really enjoyed doing and I’m not going to do that anymore. Going out for a coffee. So what if I…? Again small town. And then people were so supportive when I was losing the weight and that’s part of the reasons why it’s kind of embarrassing…
Marc: Sure. I’m glad you brought that up because this is a challenge that so many people encounter. Where all of a sudden, if you start to lose weight, there’s a lot of people around us who go “Oh, good girl! Good boy! Wow! I’m noticing you now. Wow! You look so good.” Implication — the other way, “You look like yucko! Now we like you. Now we notice you.”
It doesn’t matter, you could be at home vomiting up every meal. You could be exercising six hours a day, neglecting your family, and doing crack cocaine. But as long as, “Wow, she’s so thin.” People are going to love you.
So this is a place where it’s such a great challenge and it is a challenge to be in the world and start to learn how to be free of the opinions of others. Because everybody’s going to have an opinion of you, of me. Some people have good opinions of you. Some people don’t. Some people will like you better if you had more weight. We can’t please everybody.
So this is your opportunity and it’s an interesting challenge because it is a challenge. Because you have to dig deeper and find that place where you have this invisible force field that picks on people’s opinion and you still respect yourself. You still have dignity.
And it’s their issue. If they’re not honoring you and respecting you for being a human being, that’s their problem. They’ve got to be working on themselves. It’s not “Oh, I have to be working on myself. so I could lose the weight. So you people could like me better.”
Linda: Yeah, that sounds ridiculous.
Marc: Right? It’s insanity.
Linda: Yeah, I’m too old for that.
Marc: You are.
So this is where you have to start to catch yourself and you have to start to make those tiny shift.
So when you’ve been saying, “Well, yeah, I know a lot of this information. I kind of know what to do.” This is now your time to actually make those changes — baby steps.
They will be hard. They will be uncomfortable. It’s not like you’re going to go, “Ta-dah! I love myself now.” You will have uncomfortable moments. It’s you getting comfortable being uncomfortable with people’s judgments, whether they’re real judgments or the ones you imagine. You starting to wear a whole new Linda.
Linda: Yeah. I haven’t bought clothes at this weight. So the things that I’m wearing really… And I know better. I just keep thinking I’m going to lose it. Now, I’ll buy the nice clothes. I’m going to shop.
Marc: Good for you. Make it fun.
Notice every step along the way when you start to apologize.
It’s a subtle thing because you’ll do it through how you speak. You’ll do it through how you laugh. It’s automatic for you because it’s a learned behavior.
Are there any people in your life — friends, family, loved ones — who really feel like a good support system for you around all these? And they just love you for who you are and they don’t get…?
Linda: Yup, of course.
Marc: Those are the people I want you to make sure you’re in dialogue with more throughout this process. I would love for you to share with them what you’re working on right now based on this conversation. Dialogue with them and ask them for support in this.
Linda: I’ll do that.
Marc: It might mean you get on the phone once a day, once a week whatever it is. Give an update. Give a report. Get a little pep talk from them. Share some of your challenges that you’ve had. Just a place where you can go to unload, where you know “I’m still loved no matter what. I’m not going to be judged.” It’s really, I think, important for you to get that support.
Marc: Make sense?
Linda: Yes, it does. I will do that.
Marc: Well, Linda, that was a lot!
Linda: Yes, it was. Thank you so much. I’m going to listen to this hundred times I think.
Marc: Well, I really appreciate you been willing to go there. The conversation that we had today, if you were my client we would have covered all of these in about– oh gosh, I don’t know — a couple of months? This is when all of these things would have unwound. But there’s something to be said for, “Okay, let’s see if we can really get in there and hit the target, and find the core places for you to work that’s been holding you back.” And I think we arrived there for you.
Linda: Yeah, absolutely — yes.
Marc: Once again when it comes to this thing called “my body and my weight” we have to really embrace it for what it is because we’re trained to embrace it as, “Here’s the weight. The weight is the enemy. How do I lose it? So when I finally lose it, I become this more lovable person. To me, to you, to whoever.”
Sometimes that strategy works. But honestly, it’s a tiny percentage of people. “I lose the weight! I feel better about myself. Now my life is great, and I keep the weight off.” Honestly, 1 out of 30 people.
Linda: Absolutely, yeah.
Inner shift oftentimes precedes the body shift.
I think that’s what’s happening here. Life is delivering weight as a deeper lesson for us to learn here. Even though if nobody else in your world understands this, that’s okay because you just need you to understand this. You just need you to feel that confidence that, “Okay, here’s the direction I need to move in to help myself. You have to find that inside you, independent of anyone else.”
Linda: Yeah, I agree. I’m going to work really hard to do that.
Marc: Yay! Good for you, Linda. Thank you. Thank you so much for being so open, so real, so honest, so authentic. Great job.
Linda: Thank you so much.
Marc: And thank you everybody for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast, I’m glad you’re with us, my friends. Lots more to come. You take care.
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