Clara grew up surrounded by a dieting mentality and feeling shame about her body. She always felt that something was wrong with her and needed to be fixed so she could finally be lovable. The problem is, she’s forever trying to lose weight that just won’t come off. In her first session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, revealed some surprising lessons that Clara needed to learn to put her body in the optimum state of calorie burning, and put her mind in the right place so she can stop fighting herself and discover her true power and her natural weight. Tune in now as Marc does a follow-up session with Clara. You’ll get a chance to see the great progress she’s made since her first session!
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
To see Clara’s first session with Marc, click here
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 Clara today. Welcome, Clara.
Clara: Thanks, Marc. So great to be here.
Marc: I know. And it’s been a while. It’s been about eight months. And for those people who are tuning in for the first time, new to the podcast, or even if you’re returning, his is a follow-up session that we’re having with Clara. So we met once and did a little chat. And this is our time to just catch up and see how you’re doing.
So if you could share with people what you had wanted to work on and how things have unfolded since then, that would be so great.
Clara: Yes, sure. I’ll do my best to do that. So when we connected back in February, I brought up a little bit of my story, my relationship with my weight and stuff and body image. And I remember that what was my curiosity to understand was really how I felt like I’ve always felt overweight in my life. I’ve always felt like to be above what’s normal.
And so I think one of the curiosities that I was having is can I understand really how can I allow my body to express what’s the natural weight it can be? And how can I understand which levels of what I can work on to allow my body to express her shape or the form that she wants to be at. So I remember I was talking a little bit about that.
And what really was, for me, the take-home message from that moment from our conversation at that time was your suggestion was to not focus so much on what I was eating or not eating—we had a conversation about my eating habits—and maybe just having attention in terms of like cultivating slowness in eating and cultivating the quality.
But your main suggestion was that probably for me the key would be to shift the focus away from controlling the weight and really allowing myself to find my expression of my qualities, the expression of my creativity and my playfulness. So really stay more connected to that part and less and less connected to how should I change my diet, just really paying attention more to quality and slowness. So that, I think, was where we were back then.
Marc: So how has it been working for you now? So what’s happened? What’s unfolded? Where have you been?
Clara: It’s been quite amazing. It’s fascinating because it was certainly challenging to fully embrace the potential of completely, “I’m not going to think. I’m not going to do another diet. I’m not going to focus on what to eat too much, and really, really dive into what does it mean for me to find that expression of myself?”
And since then, there was almost such a—I don’t know how you say it in English—but 180 degrees turn. I was in a job eight months ago. And that’s been my job for the past nine years or so. And I remember we talked in that session about how that with a little bit challenging for me.
And since then, I had already started cultivating new interests for myself, taking a certification as a yoga teacher and other jobs more in connection with people. But I hadn’t really started much about that. I was holding those degrees and saying, “Oh, yeah. Maybe at some point I’m going to try to do something with that,” but not feeling really confident about it.
So somehow our conversation was really a catalyst for me to really say, “You know what? I’m really going to try to do that.” So I remember maybe a couple of weeks after talking to you, I started sending out CDs to yoga studios and I started doing an lot of different practical steps to really try and dive and see what it was.
And things started to move. Things started to move, meaning I started to get responses from studios, responses from organizations that I was trying to work with. And so from then, basically from February into the summer, I was able to give notice to my job that I was going to leave the job at the end of the year. And so shifted to part-time in the job, which, for me, I don’t know how much I can convey of that. But for me it was huge. This had been my first and only job since when I moved to the United States. So for me it was really quite a leap of faith to go into a space where I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but noticing that I start to have the resources to try to do that.
So there was that. And then when I was starting to… Sometimes there would be thoughts of, “Oh, maybe I want to control my food also,” or something, just trying to go back a little bit to that mentality. And it was always a little bit of a dance of going back to really bring the attention to myself, to my growth. And that’s where I am right now, right in the middle of that. So I still have a month or a month and a half of working part-time in this job. And so many things are changing.
And part of me is still curious. It’s interesting. My body has been very stable in these months. There haven’t been major shifts. But the shift has been my own way to relate to her, to myself, and really feeling more and more in my power and connected to myself.
Marc: So when you say your body has been stable in this last bunch of months, are you talking about how much it weighs? Yes?
Marc: So you mentioned that you feel more in your power. That’s interesting because part of having the body we want is to feel more in our power. “Here I am. And this is what I want now. And this is what I want it to look like.”
And it’s interesting how, yeah, you’re feeling more in your power. Okay, so your body hasn’t shifted in its weight. But there’s something liberating about that, to be able to feel more in our power without having to change our physiology necessarily and making it dependent on that. That must feel good.
Clara: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. It’s amazing for me to notice because I think I was at this weight before starting maybe the last diet that I did when I lost weight. And so if I think of myself back then before starting that diet—and I was basically probably the same weight that I am now—and a completely different person.
Clara: It’s stunning for me to see it. And also at the same time sometimes going back, maybe looking at those pictures of when I was at the peak of the diet, so maybe when I have lost about 20 pounds from what I am now, seeing myself at a different stage there, I notice the difference. But, again, it’s just not the same. It’s been quite mind blowing.
Marc: Sometimes we change in shape or weight. But we don’t necessarily change, I think, in character. And the outer change might not match any inner change.
I even think of, I remember having some friends that I used to work out with. And all of a sudden, they started putting on 20 or 30 pounds of muscle. And they looked completely different. I probably didn’t recognize them. But what I noticed was I had imagined they would feel more confident and more secure. And they didn’t lose any of their insecurities. They were still insecure about themselves, about life. They were still insecure about their body. And they were still insecure around women.
And they had thought that it would make a change. And I was stunned. And I realize, “Oh, my goodness. How obvious is that?!” Yes, there’s an outer change. You can give a person steroids and make them grow muscle. And does that change anything? You could shrink your body. But what has shifted?
So I guess I’m saying, for me, I think the good news for you is that when there’s a change that we really start from within, then that change is forever. And it kind of in my experience, it lays a foundation that if the body is going to shift, then the body can really shift in a sustainable way. Then weight can shift. Health can shift, whatever the concern is.
So I think some of that is trust.
Clara: Yeah, absolutely trust. And, yeah, really reconnecting over to the sense that unless the change is something that happens organically and naturally following inner changes, then I wouldn’t want my body to change. I don’t want to force it or her to change unless it’s coming from a natural place, from shifts in my life.
And I’m curious. I’m very curious about this space where I am right now because I know, for example, I’m still in a very quite stressed out place with transitioning between jobs and doing crazy schedules right now, working three different jobs at the time. There are days when I start teaching at seven in the morning. Then I come to the office. Then I teach again in the evening. And it’s kind of nonstop.
So I’m sure that it’s really a lot of feelings of stress going on in the body. And I’m curious to see how that might shift as things move, especially once I move out of this job completely. So I am curious. But, yes, there’s really way less of that obsession. If my body wants to stay this way for whatever reason, I think I’m at peace with that. I think I can live with myself this way. That’s me.
Marc: Yeah. I think that’s a really good place to be. I really do because sometimes—not all the time—but sometimes when it comes to weight, what I’ve noticed is that the lesson is really waiting, that we do have to wait. We have to just have patience. We have to let go. We have to put our attention elsewhere. There are certain friendships or relationships that we might have. Sometimes we just have to let them go for a little while. We’re not going to be around the person. We’re not going to see them. And then trust that it’ll cycle back at some point.
And that sense of trust and that sense of what you just said, “If nothing changes, I can be at peace with myself,” that’s a big healing. That by itself to me changes the body. It changes our nervous system because that, to me, is called relaxation. It’s called relaxation response. And that’s such the foundation for all kinds of good health indicators.
Clara: Yeah, and anyway it’s been eight months of not dieting and my body has been stable is really for me a sign of something powerful happening because there hasn’t been gain or there hasn’t been a lot of ups and downs. It’s stayed. So, yeah, absolutely. It’s a huge shift.
And, yeah, there are days. There certainly are “bad days” where were I feel like, “Oh, my God. Really? That’s how I look?” Or maybe sometimes you see a picture taking a different…And I’m like, “Ugh!” But, yeah, I think it’s natural. I more and more realize that it’s really more about how I’m feeling in that moment and how is my mood, how is my energy that then kind of reflects on how I’m seeing myself, rather than the other way around. So, yeah, I’m very grateful for this.
Marc: Yeah, I think that’s an important point that you just said. We’re never going to be there perfectly, whatever there means, meaning, “Okay, now I love myself all the time. And I’m never critical about my body.” It doesn’t matter what it looks like. I’m still amazed at women, men, who you and I might think, “Wow, they’ve got the perfect body.” And they go through their ups and downs and their insecurities. And they want to change this. And they want to change that.
And it’s okay to have those moments. There’s always the moments where everything can be going great and you can be in a bad mood. So it’s learning how to not give those moments so much energy and attention. Just let it be what it is. It’s a moment. And it passes.
Clara: Exactly. And staying in that and nurturing it and instead of being even harder on yourself in those moment going into a softer place of like, “Yeah, I’m just going to just stay with that place in spite of myself,” which is standard and it’s soft. And it’s still wanting some care.
So that’s also a big shift. Instead of in those moments getting harder on myself and say, “Yes, now going to do something about it,” no, “I’m going slow down. I’m going to go get a massage. I’m going to just go and nurture myself and rest and take a resting day.” It’s a way different attitude than, “I’m going to power through this.”
Marc: So you were born and raised in Italy, yes?
Marc: And you’ve been in this country now for 10 years?
Marc: How do you think a European or Italian upbringing, does it impact your experience in any of being in America, going through what you’re going through? Are there any connections there for you, just having been raised in a different culture?
Clara: Well, what I perceive certainly there is a lot of connection with the sense of honoring the act of eating in the quality of food and really having an experience that’s beyond…It’s really nourishment. And food is something that’s celebrated in Italy. And that’s part of a very profound value. It brings people together. It brings families together. We give attention to that and to the enjoyment and to the pleasure of it. So I think that plays a role into how I relate to that.
And then beyond the culture per se, I think what played a role for me was more specific challenges in my family growing up because of my family also dealing with weight issues. And I talked a bit about it in our previous podcast. So I think it’s harder for me to disentangle that from the culture part because in my family, there was that issue of my mom dealing with some obesity issues and guilting herself for that and being very hard and always on a diet more. So there was this very subtle conflict.
On the one hand, the enjoyment of food and food having so many meanings, but then on the other hand self-hatred and self-punishment because it’s all about it’s all your fault if you’re not able to control that. So there’s a lot of mixed messages there.
Marc: I think maybe in part you’re kind of transforming that in your system. You’re taking what’s in your lineage. Oftentimes we’re completing some of the work of our parents that they maybe are not able to do. And we so have to take away this thing called fault. “It’s your fault.” When we operate from that place, it’s hard to have success in anything. “Well, it’s your fault you don’t have enough money. It’s your fault that you’re a woman or a man.”
We can make up all kinds of crazy things. And you used the word a lot at the beginning of our conversation. You’re curious. You want to be curious. And I think when we look at things like a curious scientist instead of a blaming, judging person, things open up more. Things become a little easier faster. So I think you’re on a great journey here.
Clara: Yes. And I’m very grateful for that. And, yes, I hope that can be inspiring to weakness and inspiring to share. It’s interesting. My younger sister is getting married next year. And so as you might imagine, the whole family back there is switching into a diet mode to fit into a dress.
So, yeah, it triggered things in me because I was noticing. So what if I don’t then do a diet myself? Does it mean that I’m not going to be included in that? And it’s very interesting to learn holding space, to have people have the learning curve and trying to inspire them without forcing. But, yeah, interesting.
Marc: Yes. Well, I have a good feeling that the road is going to continue to be a good one for you. And I think patience is everything really. It’s going to be everything right now because we don’t always understand what the body is doing and why. We don’t. And we can have the most brilliant technology and the most brilliant science. And still people are ill. And still people are in the hospital. And still people die. And still we feel pain.
So there’s something about understanding that there’s a mystery to this. And part of it is respecting the mystery when it comes to our weight because we can do all the right things and then the body doesn’t shift. And we can do all the wrong things and it does. And then it comes back on again. So sometimes we have to just let it be for a while. Just let it go. Do us. Do our life. And to do some of the work that wants to happen that has nothing to do with weight and body. And empower ourselves.
And that’s what you’ve been doing. You’ve been making your life more of a match for what you want it to be as opposed to making my body more of a match of what I wanted to be so then maybe my life can be more of a match for what I want it to be. And you’re doing first things first. And that’s very beautiful. So I just congratulate you.
Clara: Thank you. And, yes, I totally resonate with what you’re saying. I was noticing how that would create a vicious circle. If I kept being fixated on changing the body first I was continuously taking away attention from instead of allowing the shift to happen from inside. And I’m just noticing that changing the direction, as you mentioned before, is really a completely different way to go. It’s a really great tool to have seeing that possibility because it was really hard for me to let go and say, “Okay, for real I’m going to give my attention first to changing from the inside out.”
So, yeah, I think it was important hearing it from you and from your experience and from that connection we had. It was like, “Okay, let’s try that for real for once.” And it was pretty amazing.
Marc: Well, Clara, congratulations again. I’m so happy for you. And I really appreciate your willingness to just share with people your journey and where you’re at and how it’s been. And it’s certainly inspiring for me. So I really appreciate you just be willing to show yourself and be yourself. And I think lots more good things are going to happen for you.
Clara: Yeah, thanks so much, Marc. I must say I’m really hoping that this can be inspiring for other people to hear. And thanks so much for the opportunity. I appreciate it.
Marc: Great. Well, thank you. Thank you, my friends, for tuning in. Once again I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. And there will be lots more to come. Thank you so much.
I hope this was helpful. Thanks for listening to the Psychology of Eating podcast. To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video series at IPE.tips. You’ll learn about the cutting edge principles of dynamic eating psychology and mind-body nutrition that have helped millions of people forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health.
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