The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode #133: When We Fight Our Belly Fat, It Tends to Fight Back

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Podcast Episode 133: When We Fight Our Belly Fat, It Tends to Fight Back
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Pamela knows about nutrition. She practices healthy eating and exercises regularly. After working hard on her relationship with food and body, she has made peace with almost every aspect of herself, but one thing still bothers her: her belly. No matter what she tries, she can’t seem to get rid of the excess fat that concentrates there.

Whenever she’s feeling down, she attacks her belly with negative thoughts, and it responds with symptoms of physical discomfort. In this heart-opening session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helps Pamela find a way to work on her belly without attacking herself.

Tune in as Pamela learns that she doesn’t have to love her belly, but she does need to love herself. Without this key ingredient, happiness and weight loss success will be much harder to find. But with a little love, all things are possible!

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David. And here we are in the Psychology of Eating Podcasts. And I’m here today with Pamela. Welcome, Pamela.

Pamela: Hi, Marc. How are you?

Marc: I’m really good. I’m glad you’re here.

Pamela: Thank you, likewise.

Marc: So let me just say a few words for our viewers and listeners about the podcast and then you and I can launch in. So for anybody who’s new to this Pamela and I are going to take about an hour together and we’re going to have a session. And we’re going to see if we can help with whatever concerns, or challenges that you’re facing, Pamela.

I’m going to ask her about 15 or 20 minutes worth of questions. And then, hopefully, we’ll find some good insights that can help life be better for you. So, Pamela, let me ask you this question. If you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted out of this session, what would that be for you?

Pamela: Wisdom.

Marc: Specifically, what? What’s the challenge? What’s the issue for you?

Pamela: I’m somebody that I really try to connect with within, universe, nature, outside. And there’s something that’s been bothering me. And I know that it has nothing to do with food because I have a very deep respect for food.

So it’s like somebody’s telling me to look at this issue. And I have no idea how to deal with it. So I really want to hear, or I want to be directed to, the path that I have to dive in, and understand what is this all about. So that is about my belly.

And, also in the past year, or this past year, I started gaining weight at an abnormal rate.

And I’m not a person that goes up and down on the scale, or that gain and looses weight. I don’t even diet. I have never diet in my life whatsoever, so losing weight has never been an issue for me, or not in a way that I have to obsess about it.

But then I’m starting to gain weight. I’m like, Something’s going on that I need to really look into. So I really want to kind of like take the belt off and receive things for what they are.

Marc: And where does the weight come on for you?

Pamela: Well in the past, for example, every time that I’m going through, let’s say depression era, because I do have those. My personality is like that. All of us are like that. We have all under certain times that I’m really down and grey.

Marc: Sure.

Pamela: So everything falls onto my belly, right. But this time, this time around, I gained about 25 pounds. And it not only went there, but it also went to my thighs, to my arms, over here under my face, and I just don’t know what’s going on.

Marc: So what do you attribute the weight gain to?

Do you find that you’re eating more? Do you find that you’re under more stress?

Pamela: I mean it has been a stressful year. I broke up with my baby daddy. It was a five year-long relationship and it was a pretty deep. It was a very stressful relationship because he’s a drug addict and I was unaware of it through the time. So while I was with him I thought I was the problem.

So I always try to figure out how to solve things. When finally, a year ago, oh it’s like I can’t do this anymore. And I broke up with him. The connection was very, very strong. So for me to let go of him, even though we broke up, was kind of like difficult.

Marc: Yeah.

Pamela: Even though consciously I knew I had to let him go, I couldn’t really let him go. And there was a time during this year when I couldn’t go to the bathroom. And I try every single possible thing to equate myself and nothing worked.

Until somebody told me about how our emotions get blocked in our liver, and maybe had to do kind of like a liver cleanse.

So I went ahead and I did a coffee enema. And when I did it for the first time I couldn’t stop crying. And I realized how much I was holding onto him. So I do attribute my weight maybe in this period of time where I was not going to the bathroom. So that can be some of it, but still it’s a lot of pounds.

Marc: Yeah. So do you think you’re eating more?

Pamela: Not really. I have not changed my diet portions or none of it. I did do a class during the summer because I wanted to kind of like clean my mind, my thoughts, and kind of like rebelled myself.

So I did a 100 day cleanse just to prove myself or to show myself strength, and courage, and stuff like that. And the cleanse was about eating only raw and juices and liquid. I worked for a cold press juice company so it was very easy for me to get access to cold price juices, drinks, smoothies, all day.

And I’m also a big fan of superfoods, and super herbs, and mushrooms. So I would just have like a big bowl, a sturdy bowl of all types of super foods and stuff, and that I will just be fine throughout the day. However, during that time my job changed and then I reopened the restaurant.

And I was working as the chef, the cuisine, which was a really tense job. We had intense hours and that was during the class. And somebody suggested that my help cost, also kind of like a contradiction, or otherwise should have done for me. Like instead of helping me, might have gone another way. Just because I was stressed in the workplace and my body was fine to clean itself.

So that happened as well.

Marc: So have you had any kind of medical checkup in terms of your thyroid?

Pamela: Yeah. I feel like I’m still talking. Yeah, I actually when I got to Miami it was about 15 years ago.

Maybe two or three years while I was here already they checked my thyroid, and they discovered I had hyperthyroid.

They supplied some pills to me. Back in the day I had no idea about anything, so just the pills. But I got more. My natural self doesn’t take pills so I got bored and I stopped taking them. And then the doctor passed away.

So I left the issue unsolved. And I just went like that for almost five, six years. And then with this last relationship, my baby daddy, I went to get checked again and they told me I had hyperthyroid again.

Marc: Hyper. Not hypo but hyper.

Pamela: No hyper, yeah.

Marc: Hyper, yeah.

Pamela: And I didn’t get a pill so there was nothing to do. That there’s no reason why I got it that that’s just the way it is. I have to take pills, or I have to get ready to take it off, or I have to get radioactive or something, I don’t remember. So, that got me started into nutrition.

I was like this does not make sense whatsoever. There has to be a reason for this. So I started digging in, digging in, digging in. And maybe a year went by and I got pregnant. I did not treat my thyroid. That I started kind of like gravitating towards a more healthy diet, if you want to call it like it.

So I got pregnant and they did my blood test. And they said “You are hyperthyroid you got to treat your thyroid.” So I was like, again I’ll play here. I’m going to take the pills. I begged the doctor to give me the lower dosage, but I was super strict on my diet. And I made sure that I was eating just the healthiest, more nutritional foods for my baby and my body for her. And I did it and I cured my thyroid. So I was completely leveled off.

After I got off my pregnancies being already three years, and this happened. I was like oh, what if my thyroid went the other way? So I did go to a doctor to get it checked. They did the blood test. And they said that my thyroid is not hyperthyroid, but it’s kind of leaning that way. Like they cannot prescribe me with that, you know. And they also said I had a leaky gut.

Marc: So is this a more naturally oriented doctor, a functional medicine doctor?

Pamela: A function medicine doctor. So she said that she wouldn’t worry about it as much right now. That maybe first was to treat my gut and when we done that we can go other direction. But the test didn’t show that I was really hypo but it was a little lower of no one.

Marc: You’re in the low normal range. Okay.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: So did you have any of your hormones tested, estrogen, testosterone, that sort of thing?

Pamela: No.

Marc: Okay.

Pamela: She tested my vitamin D, which was low. So she prescribed vitamin D-3. I’m also taking magnesium.

Marc: Okay. So here’s what I want you to do. Make sure that she tested, which I’m guessing she did and probably nothing came up.

Make sure she tested hormone levels and that she’s considered your progesterone levels as well.

That just might be something to ask about. Might I need progesterone or testosterone, what do you think based on my lab tests? So that’s just one question to check out here, as well as, blood sugar. But it sounds like she probably did that too.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: But just those are the pieces I would ask about, simply when it comes to helping with weight gain, and helping with your body. Just the little things that might assist you in recapturing your natural metabolism.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: How old is your child now?

Pamela: She’s two and a half.

Marc: She’s two and a half. And tell me again, this last round of weight gain came when? When did it happen?

Pamela: I have so much to tell you. So after I broke up with him, which was in February, I started to gain weight. But I was able to lift myself up and I was feeling my best ever. And during this spring I had the body that I always wanted.

I felt like there was this light around me. I was really in my best self. But once the spring almost came over I started gaining weight and I gained around 10 pounds then. And then the summer came and with those 10 pounds I took them and I’m like this is it. All right, I’ll take it. I don’t have any problem with being 10 pounds over my normal weight.

But then after the summer finished I gained another 10, 15 pounds. And those did not lose. It showed in my clothes, in my face. And those are the ones I was like okay, I don’t want these here.

Marc: Do you happen to know your blood type, by any chance? A, B, O, AB.

Pamela: I think it’s normal like A+ positive I think.

Marc: Okay, but not sure. So you pretty sure during this time that after the spring when the 10 pound weight came on, and then when it felt like more weight was coming on, you’re pretty clear. Did your diet stay the same? Did you start eating more? Does that run like? What changed diet wise?

Pamela: Well, I’m a chef so I cook all for myself. So when it comes to food I don’t have an issue to prepare my own things.

And actually, one of the things I did for myself, once the breakup happened, was I started taking a daily green juice and made sure every day.

So the changes that I made were more for to help myself get nutrients or energy strength, than to overeat out of emotional aide.

Marc: So do you do a lot of juices?

Pamela: Not anymore, but before I used to because they were right there.

Marc: Yeah. Where’s your weight right now? How much do you want to lose?

Pamela: I lost five pounds already and I still want to lose 15 more.

Marc: How did you lose the five pounds?

Pamela: Well with this leaky gut thing that kind of like showed me, they said cut all sugar, cut all cold things. What else did I do? I think that’s about it.

Marc: Yeah, okay.

Pamela: Oh, and also, the fact that I really told myself to let go of my ex.

Marc: Yes. That’s easier said than done. I get it.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: So let me share a few thoughts that come up for me right now, as we’ve been talking, and as we’ve been gathering information. So I know there’s a lot more that you want to say. And I want to try to make sure that we get time to just give you some thoughts, and feedback, and maybe some help.
From a strict dietary standpoint I’m going to make some assumptions.

I’m going to make some assumptions that your body is very responsive.

Another word for that might be sensitive, but I like the word responsive. Meaning your body is going to respond to what happens emotionally. Your body is going to respond to what you do with it nutritionally. Your body is just going to respond.

Some people have very responsive and sensitive bodies. That’s just the way it is. Some people can eat garbage for years and their health stays fine. They’ve got a very strong constitution. They can have all kinds of emotions impact them. They’re very resilient. That’s sort of their body type. That’s their psycho type.

My guess is that your body is very sensitive to who you are, to what you feel, to what’s going on in your life, and to what you eat.

Pamela: Yes.

Marc: And you’re shaking your head yes. So you know your body because you pay attention, you’re into foods, you’re into health. And a lot of people do at some point get into health, and good nutrition, because we start to notice that we are sensitive and we do feel. And we notice the little differences.

And oh I changed my diet. I started eating this and now I feel better. Or now I feel this way. Or now I feel that way. So my guess is from now until forever more you will have a body that is sensitive. And my guess is because you’re a sensitive and responsive person, so you feel, and your body will feel.

And maybe you go through pain and challenges and your body will often feel those pains and challenges. Can it affect our health, and our organ systems, and our metabolism, and our weight? Absolutely. It happens all the time.

So we can be dramatically impacted by emotions, particularly when it comes to weight. Is everybody like that? No. Are some people like that? Yes.

You just might be one of the people that fall into the category called, yeah when I go through difficult emotional periods, or I’m having a trauma, it might be easy that that can land in my body.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: So that’s not a new concept. I didn’t invent that. It’s been around for awhile. I’m just letting you know that that’s likely a great possibility. And in a strange way, Pamela, that’s good news. That’s a good thing that your body gives you feedback. That your body is responsive, because it’s letting you know hey, something is up.

My guess is, let me go to nutrition for a second. Yeah, I would want to see you not on a lot of juices, not on a lot of sugar, even if it’s natural sugar. Even if it’s a ton of fruits and a ton of fruit juices my sense is your body might be a little sensitive to that.

Pamela: I have always been sensitive to sugar and it’s something that I did not include in my diet.

Marc: Yeah. But I’m even talking about, even if you do a fresh juice that has carrots in it, and apple, and celery, that might not be the best thing for you. Like something green, yes.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: That’s a little more bitter and doesn’t have the carrot, or the apple, or the pineapple, or the sweet stuff. Because it can be very intense on the body, it can be very intense on the pancreas. It can really skew blood sugar and insulin levels dramatically, even though it’s “healthy”.

Does that apply for everyone? No, but I’m a little suspicious for you right now. Given that you have a sensitive body, and given that you have a smaller body type, and a smaller frame.

And because you’re an emotionally sensitive person anyways, things like sugar, and caffeine, and poor quality food, will impact you.

Chances are more than the average person. That’s just the way it is.

Pamela: I can relate with what you’re saying.

Marc: And my guess is emotionally you’re the kind of person that will tend to somaticize more. Somaticize is a term from different psychological traditions. That means that oh, let’s say I’m really angry at my father, but I’m not saying anything to him. I might end up having stomach pain all the time.

And I have stomach pain, stomach pain, and nothing can fix the stomach pain. But it turns out the stomach pain is connected to the fact that I’m not communicating to my father. So that’s somaticized. When we take something that’s emotional and it finds a home in the body. When we can’t fully metabolize or process something emotionally it often lands in the body.

So if I’m having a ton of trouble at work and I’m fighting with my coworkers, all of a sudden I might be getting migraine headaches. And then I try to get rid of the migraine headaches. I try to get rid of the headaches. Nothing is working, but it’s connected to my challenges at work.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: So I take in that stress and I’ve somaticized it. I’ve put it into the body. And we don’t purposely do that it’s just what happens. And it’s a good thing because it’s the wisdom of life trying to speak to us through the body as best it can.

So my sense is something like the breakup that you had was very traumatic, and it’s hard, and it’s emotional. And, yeah, maybe there’s all kinds of good reasons to breakup, but a lot of times there’s good reasons. And there’s we don’t want to do it. And there’s good reasons to stay together, and there’s love, and there’s connection there.

So the whole experience just lands in the body as a little bit of a trauma.

And trauma means on one level, a very intense stress. And oftentimes what happens when a trauma lands in the body it stays there. And when it stays there we tend to call it Post Traumatic Stress. Meaning the trauma doesn’t unwind itself.

So you might come home from work one day, and maybe you had a rough day at work, but if your new boyfriend gives you a massage you might go oh that feels so much better. I’m letting go of my day. That feels great. Trauma and stress leaves my system.

But the bigger stresses sometimes they find a home in us because we’re still processing, and we’re still metabolizing, and we’re still digesting it. So my sense is for you because you’re sensitive, the big challenges, the big stressors, can land in your body like a trauma. And that can end up looking like weight gain.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: And you can go, I didn’t eat that much more. And like wow, this weight came on. And, yeah, because it can affect your digestion. And it can affect your calorie burning capacity. Does this happen to everyone? No. But does this happen to a lot of people? Yes. It is very common for people who are diagnosed with PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to have weight gain, and digestive issues. Digestive issues could mean everything.

It could mean constipation, it could mean diarrhea, it could mean every time I eat. I just feel terrible. I can’t digest my food. So the digestive system, and even our calorie burning metabolism, is very sensitive for many of us to emotions. So I’m just trying to say you might be one of those people.

Pamela: I think you’re right on target.

Marc: Which then means that life is always going to urge you and push you a little to grow. And to look in the mirror and see okay, how do I need to shift? How do I need to change? How do I need to manage this breakup? Who am I going to be now?

And it’s you ongoingly learning how to relax into your new life and the next phase of your life. And seeing, what is it that I’m integrating? What is it that I’m learning? So I’m talking a little big picture right now, but it sounds like that’s making some sense for you.

Pamela: Yeah. A lot of transformations happened during this year and it has to do with my career as well.

Marc: So can I ask how old you are?

Pamela: I just turned 31.

Marc: You just turned 31. Okay. So once we pass 30 it’s often a time when we start to ground ourselves more. Age 28 to 30 can be very rocky. And there’s fascinating research on seven year life cycles. And the two years right after the fourth seven year life cycle, right around age 28, commonly that’s a time when a lot of people get married, a lot of people get divorced, and a lot of people have major life shifts.

It’s a time when we often look in the mirror and go okay, whew! What just happened for my entire life? Who am I? How am I operating? What are my belief systems? There are just times in life when we are naturally what psychologists call more imprint vulnerable. We’re open to new input. It just happens.

There’s certain ages, age 7, age 13-14 when we go through puberty. Age 21 is a time when traditionally we really ground in a whole different way. So all I’m saying is life cycle wise this is a time in your life when you’re going to naturally want to start to ground more. And naturally want to start to get into a little more of a groove, and a little bit more self-definition. And little bit more looking at what works for me and what doesn’t.

What works, what doesn’t? It’s as simple as that. What works, what doesn’t? Who am I? How do I make my life work? If there’s certain kinds of people, certain kinds of relationships, certain kind of foods that I am now noticing these don’t work, great we take them off the menu.

So this feels like that time of life for you, especially after coming off of a big breakup and big relationship change. And here’s your body and it’s getting bigger, and it’s talking to you.

Oftentimes, when the body gets bigger because of stress, or because of challenging emotions, part of it is protection.

Pamela: I was going to say that resonated with me when I hear speaking about it.

Marc: Yeah.

Pamela: Protection.

Marc: And again, this doesn’t apply to everybody. So for people listening in just because you might be carrying extra weight it doesn’t mean oh I’m protecting, but weight is different for everybody. And from an evolutionary standpoint the bigger we are the tougher we are. The bigger we are the less animals are going to want to eat you because you’re big.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: So the body will get bigger as a form of protection. You can’t hurt me because I’m bigger. I got more fat, I got more muscle, I got more weight. But also, when we have emotions that we’re having a hard time figuring out processing, working with, feeling, a lot of times emotion that’s not expressed will tend to make us get bigger because the emotion’s not moving.

And the weight can be unexpressed emotion. For some people, weight can be unexpressed anger, it can be unexpressed grief, it can be unexpressed sadness, it could be unexpressed tears. It’s unexpressed potential. So it could be all of those. It could be a swirl of all that.

And that’s my guess for you is that you’re learning who you are. You’re learning about who you are more and more. We’re all doing that. And you’re learning this is me. This is Pamela. What do I need? Okay, what worked about that relationship for you? What didn’t?

This might be a time for you to really look at okay, what’s some of the deeper lessons for me to learn there?

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: From that relationship. And it’s a slow process. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you have to fix something. It feels like your body, and your emotions, and your heart, and your spirit, just want to start to find their natural balance.
So I want to suggest to you that you can relax into this. And I know you’re smart and you like to figure stuff out. And you’re very motivated to help yourself to cook for yourself, to eat good food. That’s so great. Good for you. And all I’m saying is I want you to push just a little less. You know what I’m saying? I know you’re trying to help yourself and fix yourself.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: But there’s a place where you’re not broken here. There’s just a little part of you that’s preceding as if, oh Marc, I got to fix this.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: Which something’s broken here I got to fix this, and when I fix this I’m going to be okay. And I’m in agreement with you. If I’m in your shoes I would be working on myself too. I would be looking to do all the things I could do to help myself, but there’s a subtly that I’m mentioning here.

And the subtly is, if I’m walking around thinking that I’m broken. And I go oh my God, I got to fix this because there’s something broken, then it adds more stress into the process. And it adds a subtle flavor of there’s something wrong with me, I’m not good. I’m somehow bad. I’m somehow deficient. And as soon as I fix myself then I’m going to be better.

As opposed to, this is me and I’m growing. And I’m getting better. And right now, yeah, I have a little boo-boo, but the boo-boo’s going to heal. And if I have a little boo-boo, if I have a cut, you can look at the cut and go oh my God, how come it’s not healing? What do I got to do? Let me scratch more. No.

Sometimes you just have to give it a little love and rest and just watch it heal itself.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: So there’s a place where I would just love to see you kind of drop in with yourself more, as opposed to doing a whole lot of things.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: Does that make sense?

Pamela: Yes. When you were just mentioning just now I do feel like there’s a rush of energy going, like really trying to fix it, when so many times that’s what we don’t have to do. But there’s this urge of making it happen right now as if tomorrow is not happening.

Marc: That’s why I’m saying. Yeah.

Pamela: That urge does exist in me right now.

Marc: And that urge will cause more stress, and that stress chemistry will cause the body to go into stress physiology, into a sympathetic nervous system, dominance state. And when we’re in that state it is more difficult for the body to heal. The body only heals in a relaxation response and heals when we’re in the nervous system state called Parasympathetic Nervous System dominance.

If you’re sick, you don’t say “Wow, Marc, I’m feeling sick. I want to go out and run around like a crazy person and stress myself.” No. When we’re feeling sick we say “I need to lay down on a couch”. Because we instinctively know, that rest is the state where we do all of our healing, and our maintenance, and repair of body tissue. It’s when you’re sleeping, it’s when you’re on vacation, it’s when you’re in relaxation, and meditation, and just sitting, listening to beautiful music. It’s that state when healing happens.

And as well when wisdom comes through. When we’re in stress, when we’re running from the lions, we don’t have access to wisdom. We have access to instinctive survival thinking. Okay, I got to fight. I got to run. I got to do this. I got to do that. Right now you’re in a little bit of okay, I got to fix this. I got to survive. I got to make this go away. What do I have to do?

And what I want to say is that’s great, and its admirable. But I want you to try to do the same thing, but relax and go okay, Pamela, there’s time.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: There’s plenty of time. And maybe a good word for you is time shift. I want you to time shift. I want you to drop into a place of a little more spaciousness around this.

And it’s harder to process what’s going on for us. And in your case, to me you’re going to start to reach your natural weight when you can find Pamela. And relax into your life again a little more because you’ve just gone through a difficult period.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: And you’re finding yourself again.

Pamela: And now that you said that there is this urge in me to try to fix myself, I just remembered that I’m also feeling really tired throughout the week. And the ease it is when I work out. So I think I just make a decision that sometimes when I’m in this kind of routine that I have to work out. I get really tired at the end. It’s a way of telling me you got to relax, right.

Marc: Yes. Absolutely. So it’s really about going right now with the messages of your body and being really honest about where your body’s at. Because sometimes the body doesn’t want to push hard with exercise, sometimes it does. Other times it does not.

So you could be in a phase where you’re more tired, where you’re more exhausted, where you’re more adrenal fatigued. And at such times the body wants more rest. It wants more recuperation. And the impulse is going to be well I want to lose this weight, let’s diet and exercise it off. But if we’re not listening to the flow of the body, then we’re going to do things that are counter to what the body really wants.

So part of this is I believe you learning to just sort of trust your body in a different way than you have in the past. Because right now there’s a little fear that okay, if I don’t fix this weight thing and this stomach thing then I’m screwed.

Pamela: I guess I just myself. Because I’m like, if you know so much about nutrition, and how to eat, and how to cook, it’s not showing up.

Marc: Right. I get it.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: Yeah. There are bankers who lose money and that’s their profession to be bankers, and be investment bankers, and they lose money. My best friend in the world was a cancer doctor. He died of cancer. So just because you know nutrition information doesn’t mean you’re qualified to fix everything with nutrition.

In fact let me say this, if you truly knew a lot about nutrition, I think one thing we would all understand is that sometimes nutrition is not the answer to issues that we think are nutritional.

And I don’t know that this is a nutrition issue alone.

Will nutrition support you? Always. Can nutrition be helpful in this journey? Always. But is it the thing that’s going to change everything and heal you and get you where you want to go? I don’t think so. There’s a natural unwinding process that wants to happen.

I think part of that unwinding process is you discovering who you are more and more. You starting to see who am I? How do I want to be in your relationships? What kind of partnership do I want? What kind of man do I want? What are my non-negotiables? What don’t I want?

Are you dating anybody now?

Pamela: No.

Marc: Okay. So I would love for you to make a list for yourself of things you would like in a partner. Just things I would like in a partner. Things I wouldn’t so much like in a partner. Things that if my partner has it’s a deal breaker I don’t want it. And things that if he doesn’t have it’s a deal breaker. You follow me.

Pamela: Yes.

Marc: So in other words, it might be that if you meet somebody and they’re addicted to a drug, that’s a deal breaker for you. It might be if they hit then that’s a deal breaker for you. So I want you to get really clear on what the deal breakers are for you.

Because part of self-definition, especially coming off of a big relationship experience is learning from it, and getting clear about who I am? What I want? How I want to be treated? How I want to be cared for? And it’s those kind of creating guidelines for yourself and boundaries that helps you with self-definition. And so we become less leaky.

Sometimes leaky gut has a lot of causes. You mentioned leaky gut.

And for those people who don’t know, leaky gut is when parts of your intestinal lining, particularly in the small intestines, they become a little more permeable than they should be.

And undigested or partially digested food matter will slip into the bloodstream, and go into our circulation, particularly protein components.

But other substances in the food that should be broken down more will leak into our system. And they will be toxic to the system, because they should have been broken down more by the digestive track. But the digestive track got a little leaky. It got a little weak.

And sometimes, this is not always, leaky gut can be caused by all kinds of nonsense in the diet. It can be caused by prescription drugs. It can be caused by vaccinations. It can be caused by GMOs in the food, poor quality food. It can also be contributed to from emotions.

And a lot of us we have energy leaks. We have emotional leaks. We have places where we have really leaky where we give up on ourself, where we have leaky boundaries. You might have certain standards but then you lose those standards with certain people.

So it’s learning how to strengthen your insight, but not just your organ system but you. What are my boundaries? What am I a no to? What am I a yes to? That creates intestinal fortitude. Do you follow what I’m saying? It’s all kind of a metaphor. It’s all connected. The body and mind are very scientific, but they’re very poetic at the same time.

And my guess is you’re a person that’s very open and very loving. But at the same time, there’s probably places where you let yourself not see, or you let yourself get run over. And this is a just a time for a little strengthening.

And the same thing goes for how you treat you, if you’re pushing yourself. You got to fix this. You got to handle this. You got to make it all better today. Otherwise, I don’t know these terrible things are going to happen to you.

So now’s the time to trust yourself and trust your body, I think.

And you’re young enough, you’re healthy enough, you’re under some good medical care. So you have those pieces down. You know a lot about nutrition.

And now you just have to take a deep breath, I think, and relax into this part of your journey. Yeah, I still want you to be alert. Okay, what’s the next step for me? What do I have to do here? What would be good for me to eat? How did that meal feel for me? Should I go out on a date with this guy or shouldn’t I?

So, yeah, ask those questions. But you can be moving at 25 miles an hour instead of 65 miles an hour. You will be more efficient at 25 miles an hour right now. Driving nice and slow, look at the scenery, enjoy it, take some deep breaths, and take your foot off the gas pedal.

Pamela: Yeah. I love all these metaphors. I swim a lot in the ocean. And one day I was swimming and a turtle just like swam underneath me.

Marc: Oh.

Pamela: So I thought about the turtle and the rabbit fable.

Marc: I love that. I used to live in Hawaii and I would swim many, many times with the sea turtles. So many times. Huge sea turtles. And they are very deliberate, and they’re very slow. It’s interesting the preachers with the slowest metabolisms live the longest.

We always think oh my God, I have to have this fast, hot, metabolism. The creatures with the fastest metabolisms they have the shortest life spans interestingly enough. So I’m not saying we should all have a sluggish metabolism, but we need to learn how to slow down.

Because slowing down is when wisdom starts to happen.

It’s when the body steps into relaxation response, which means healing can start to happen. Healing of body tissue, but also healing of our heart, healing of us. And I want you to consider that your body will find its natural state and that you’ll get there, but there’s a journey that you have to take right now that’s not specifically clear to you.

You don’t know all the answers right now. You don’t know how long it’s going to take. You don’t know all the exact pieces of the puzzle. You have a lot of pieces but I’m just going to ask you to really practice trusting your journey right now, and knowing that you’re going to get there.

Pamela: Yeah. I’ve always asked myself why last spring if I was in my splendor why did I turn myself down? And I think that’s the answer. I tried to do it so fast that I completely missed the journey. So that may have been like a snapshot of what I can be if I really walk the path instead of rushing into it, which is what I guess trying to do right now.

Marc: Yes. And I also want to say something else about that. At that point where you were in your glory, you had exactly what you wanted. Oftentimes, not always, oftentimes what can happen for people is that we get into a certain state and that state feels really good, and we think we’ve arrived. And we, therefore, want to stay there forever. And many people call this a State Addiction.

Now, if you’ve ever met anybody, and I know you have, who’s addicted to a drug. When you take that drug you get into a certain state. And that state feels like you’ve arrived. And the reason why people become addicted is that state feels so good that you want to live there. You want to stay there.

So if I said to you yeah, I feel best when I’m on crack cocaine. I feel alive. I’ve got all this energy. I feel so good about myself. Well, yeah, that’s kind of temporary. I could say to you “I feel good when I’m exercising five hours a day. Because when I exercise for five hours a day I just get this runners high, and like everything is happening.”

Yeah, but you do that. And after awhile your body is going to start to breakdown a little bit. So all I’m saying is, I drink enough Tequila. I feel great. But I can’t live in that state all the time. I would die.

So what I’m saying is, for many people when it comes to weight loss, and fitness, and food, they can find this amazing sweet spot.

And then you feel really great. And you think this is the place I have to live all the time. But the body might not be necessarily, or life might not be designed to have us there all the time.

Because guess what, you might get pregnant again and you’re not going to be there. And guess what, you might change your job and you might be working more. Or you might change your job and you might be working less. Or you might move to a cold weather climate. It’s just life changes.

So I’m not saying don’t reach for a certain goal. What I’m saying is just be aware of how much value you give it. Thinking that I have to live in that one state, because then you become addicted to that state. And when we become addicted to a certain state we do a lot of nonsense to get to that state. You follow me.

And then when we get to that state its short lived because it’s meant to be short lived because life has its ups and downs. Yes, some of us stay happy more than others. Some of us stay depressed more than others. We’re all different, but your life is going to have its flow.

And you might gain five pounds here and then you might lose it. You might have a time when you have your perfect body and you just feel like the greatest lady in the world, and then something shifts and then okay, now I’m not feeling that.

So I’m not telling you take away that target. What I’m telling you is, take away what you’ve invested in that target. And thinking that that’s the place where you’re going to live forever more once you get there again.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: So I don’t even know that you did something wrong by leaving that state. Might one be able to stay there longer? Sure. But I just want you to be careful to not make it the ultimate place, but make it a place.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: That goes along with all the other places you might go to. Because then what happens is when I leave that place I’m going to go what’s wrong with me? Well, what’s wrong with me is that life happened, and I had challenges.

And my emotions got impacted. And all of a sudden it’s harder to be in my body. And it’s harder to take care of myself. And I’m feeling all these feelings. And there’s all this confusion going on. There’s all this stuff happening. Yeah, life does that. And instead of going oh bad me, I left that great state. It’s, no. And here’s what happened now.

Life has a way sometimes when we get too high we naturally come down. And when we get too low we eventually come up with the right kind of understanding and help. But we usually don’t stay high for too long. I don’t care what the high is eventually we fall asleep. Eventually we come down. Does that make sense?

Pamela: Yeah. And maybe the last question and I will have more time. But everything does concentrates here.

Marc: Yeah.

Pamela: Always.

Marc: In the belly.

Pamela: In the belly. And that’s really hard for me to face.

Marc: Yes.

Pamela: I guess for what we’ve talked about, I do judge myself. And I see that as a sign of weakness.

Marc: I get it.

Pamela: So, if you have any thoughts here to help me kind of like a plug.

Marc: Yes. So let’s address that head on. So what I want to say is, first of all for people who experience weight gain around the midsection, in the belly, in the tummy. You notice, wow, when I gain weight it tends to go there. There’s a physiologic reason for that.

And one of the reasons is that the fat cells that are literally around the belly are more sensitive to the hormone cortisol. They’re more sensitive to insulin than cortisol. And so when those two hormones are circulating in your system more oftentimes, because of stress, or trauma, or because of diet, when those hormones are circulating in the system they will tend to fatten our fat cells more.

And particularly the fat cells that are more sensitive, especially to cortisol. So it’s not a secret. Science understands that the fat cells around the midsection are more stress sensitive, are more cortisol/insulin sensitive. So it makes sense, and you’re particularly one of those people. Is everybody like that? No. But a lot of people are.

Some people the stress hits and the weight might go to their hips, the weight might go to their legs. Some people the stress hit they don’t gain any weight, they just get digestive upset, or they get a heart attack. For you it shows up as weight gain around the midsection.

The judgment that happens in a strange way I get that you see that as a weakness in yourself, but what I’d really love for you to start considering is that you did not invent that particular judgment. Judgment about belly fat was here long before you showed up on the scene.

Right now I can introduce you to probably a million people who judge their bellies.

Okay. Right now we could turn on the television and see so many advertisements for belly this and belly that. And trim your fat here. And trim your fat there. It’s endless all the things that we do, and all the things you could buy, to make your belly flatter, and hotter, and tighter.

So there’s something that swims in our world and in our culture. It’s a toxic belief. It’s a toxic viral belief that you’ve caught. It’s no different than catching a virus. Are you going to say to me well, Marc, I caught this virus. I must be such a jerk or such a weakling. No, you caught a virus.

And it doesn’t surprise me that you caught it because the virus is, particularly aimed at women. And even though so many men have it it’s being circulated all over the world through the media you see, especially if you’re living in Florida, for goodness sakes, it’s flat bellies and flat bellies. And everybody’s obsessed with that.

And it’s a misplaced virus. It’s a misplaced belief. The belief is if my belly is flat and tight, I’m good. I’m correct. I’m right. I’m doing things okay. I’m strong. I’ve got my shit together. If my belly’s not that way there’s something wrong with me. I’m not doing things right. I don’t have my act together. I’m doing things wrong. I’m a loser and I got to fix it.

Pamela: Totally.

Marc: That’s what we’re taught. So what I’m saying is you didn’t invent that. So what I need you to start to unwind with yourself is, every time you notice yourself judging your belly, which you’re going to do, I want you to remind yourself I didn’t invent this judgment. I caught a bad virus.

And it’s my job once I get sick. If I get sick, if I catch a virus, if I catch the flu from my son, it’s okay. I caught it from him but now it’s my job to deal with it. I got to drink my tea and fast. Or do whatever I do to help myself heal.

So now that you’ve caught the virus you have to do whatever you can to defeat it, because it’s bigger than any one of us and that’s why we’re in this conversation. The virus called self-hate and self-judgment about your weight, your body fat, or your belly, they’re very intense and they’re very strong.

They have a lot of power. They grip us and they make us miserable. So the virus is actually working in your system. It doesn’t kill you. Viruses are not meant to kill us, otherwise if you die the virus dies too. So the virus wants to keep us weak, get a life.

So our job is to grow stronger in the face of that false belief, that toxic belief, that virus, that parasite. I’m using all those terms interchangeably. You have to remind yourself this is not a character weakness. This is something that I learned from the world. That you do not want to pass onto your children, or you don’t want to pass on to your loved ones, or your friends. You follow me.

So really it’s learning to, as best you can say, okay, not the belly I want but while it’s here I’m not going to attack myself. I’m not going to attack my own soul. I’m not going to attack my own body. I’m going to love myself into change.

If your little baby is having trouble walking, you don’t smack them and say “I want a baby that walks.” You love them into learning how to walk. You love your child into learning how to eat. You love your child into learning how to read. You don’t yell at them and judge them because they don’t know how to do something.

The same with you, the same with all of us.

There’s places where we’re kind of like little kids and you have to love yourself into transformation.

So this is kind of like a spiritual challenge for you. And that’s it. It’s going to help you grow as a person.

Because self-attack aint going to work. Self-judgment is not going to work. It’s going to only make you more miserable and continue to create the physiochemical conditions to hang onto that weight. The more stress you’re under the m ore you will hang onto body fat and body weight.

So it sounds counterintuitive, but you actually have to relax more and love yourself more, in order to let go of the very weight that you’re not liking. You follow me.

Pamela: Yes.

Marc: So I’m calling it a spiritual challenge. You’re not going to do this overnight necessarily. It’s a practice to look at the belly and say “Okay, this is what’s happening right now. I’m going to embrace this. I’m going to still love me even though I have a belly that’s bigger than I want it to be. I’m still going to love me.” As opposed to curse me, hate me, dislike me, judge me, into change. I’m going to love myself into change.

In fact, I might even love this belly because it’s teaching me to slow down. It’s teaching me patience. It’s teaching me to pay attention to myself more. And it’s teaching me to really slow down, and look and listen. Because that’s where you’re going to start to learn more things about what life is trying to teach you.

How did all of that just land for you?

Pamela: Beautiful. Everything resonates very well with where I am and where I want to go. It’s definitely my truth at the moment.

Marc: Yeah. So I’d love for you, after this call, just maybe if you have a little time you might want to take a few notes for yourself. Or just do a little bit of thinking about just what you want to absorb from the conversation. What feels good for you? What feels real?

Sometimes there’s things I say that might not land for you. That’s fine. I want you to really trust yourself. I really want you to trust yourself and say “Okay, what feels right for me? What do I want to focus on? What do I want to pay attention to?”

And I would love to get together. We’ll have a follow-up session in another bunch of months. Let’s see, maybe five, or six, or seven months, and check in again. But I think for you just as a reminder it’s stopping, trying to fix yourself as if you’re broken.

Keep working towards yeah, I’m feeling better, and looking better, and eating well, and treating yourself well. But slow down with that. And love yourself into change.

See that there’s nothing wrong with you and understand that there’s probably emotions that want to be processed and felt.

And some life lessons that want to be learned.

And I think it’s just about you defining yourself more. You being clear m ore about who you are and what you want moving forward in your life, in your relationship. And it’s you trusting your body on a deeper level. That there’s an unfolding process that’s going to happen, that you can’t force it you can go with it.

Your child only grows so fast. You can’t force your kid to grow faster than they’re growing. You can yell at them all you want. Grow faster. I want a baby that’s 3 inches taller. It’s like no. They grow at the rate that they grow. We heal at the rate that we heal. Can you support that process? Absolutely. But we can also interfere with it.

So all I’m saying is, I want you to trust your journey more. And trust that you’ll get to where you need to go. But not on your time schedule, on life’s time schedule. And all you have to is you have to learn whatever lessons life is trying to teach you in there.

Pamela: Yeah.

Marc: Makes sense.

Pamela: Yes it makes sense. Thank you.

Marc: Pamela, you’re a great sport. You’ve really taken it all in. And I really appreciate you just being just very honest about everything. Just how you feel about yourself, your body, the weight, it’s so helpful because so many people face this, and you sharing so openly.

I know there’s going to be a lot of people listening in who are learning a lot and going to be really inspired by your story and your journey. And you’re doing great.

I don’t think there’s anything you’re doing wrong or any way that you’re so behind on schedule here.

Your efforting really beautifully.

And the only thing I’m asking you to do is just kind of give yourself a little more pat on the back. And relax and trust. And not feel like you have to move so fast. And you’ll feel things start to shift when you do that. I think.

Pamela: Yes. I feel so too. It’s relief. I feel it in my body right now what you’re saying. It sounds good to hear that I do have to pace myself. And have patience with myself.

Marc: Yeah.

Pamela: My belly issue actually I never talk about it with no one, because it’s a matter of shame for me. So it is a big deal to be able to kind of like it out and confess it to you. It was weird.

Marc: That’s very brave. It’s very, very, very, very, brave. And it’s a beautiful step towards healing, which is claiming yeah, this is me. This is my experience. I’m not super happy about it, or proud of it. And then you start to realize so many other women and men are dealing with the same thing. It’s not your fault. It’s a mental virus that we inherit from the world that we have to mount an immune response against.

And this conversation is us together mounting an immune response against all the images that we’re being fed, the nonsense that we’re being fed. And we’re saying, no. We’re saying, no. Actually this is not about me. This is not about you. This is something the world has taught you that when it lands in us it feels like it’s correct. It feels like it’s real, but it’s a delusion.

There is no usefulness in self-hate. There is no usefulness in self-attack. That is a disease that we’re all here to try to heal and to transform. Because you become the real you, not when you’re self-attacking, but when you’re cheerleading yourself into change.

When you’re inspiring yourself into change, when you’re efforting from a good place. Efforting from a good place means I’m trying to get there so I can be a better person. Not I’m trying to get there so I don’t’ have to be this miserable person that has extra belly fat. Like, no, that’s not what we’re put on this earth for to curse our own bodies.

So this is you learning how to really empower yourself.

Learning how to love yourself no matter where your body’s at. Because if you can love yourself in this place, if you can honor this body that you have right now. The time in the future when you get that body that you really go oh, this is exactly where I want to be. You’ll be able to live there longer because you now have the ability to live with all of you.

You’ve demonstrated to life, to the world, to the universe, to yourself. Yeah, I can embrace any version of me. When you can embrace any version of you then you can embrace any version of you.

Pamela: I love that.

Marc: Yeah. So Miss Pamela, thank you so, so, so, so, so, so, so much for being so willing, and so real and so generous. I really appreciate it.

Pamela: Thank you, Marc. This was amazing and truly transformational. I know.

Marc: I’m glad. I’m glad. And I look forward to a session in the future when we get to check-in and see how things are doing. And I want to thank everybody who’s tuned into this podcast. I so appreciate it.

And once again, my friends, thank you. I’m Marc David, on behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast. Lots more to come. Take care, everybody.

Podcast Episode 133: When We Fight Our Belly Fat, It Tends to Fight Back

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