Hayley is in her mid 20s and feeling super challenged by a constant onslaught of negative thoughts about her body. She also finds herself overeating and binge eating, and believes that when she has the perfect body, she can finally love herself. Her perfectionism is strangling her creativity and her happiness. She is clearly stuck and needs some new strategies. In Hayley’s first compelling session, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helped her come up with some surprising strategies and unique homework assignments that left Hayley feeling upbeat, renewed, and ready to shine in her life. Tune in now as Marc does a follow-up session with Hayley. You’ll get a chance to see how she’s progressed since her first session, and the results are inspiring!
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
To see Hayley’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 Haley. Welcome, Haley.
Hayley: Hi, Marc.
Marc: Hi! I’m glad you’re back. I’m glad we’re doing this. For those of you who are new to the podcast or even if you’re not new, this is our follow-up session. So previously Haley and I met a bunch of months ago, six, seven, eight months ago. And we’re just following up now and seeing, okay, was it helpful? Did our time together spur anything for you or help you along your journey?
And I’m wondering if you could just take just a minute and recap for people what your challenge was that you were coming in with that you had wanted to work on.
Hayley: Yeah, sure. So at the time I was struggling with some body image issues and that negative self-talk cycle, the whole perfectionism virus that just got into my head. So we talked about that. We talked a little bit about my binge eating and stuff, but not really. We mainly focused on the body image and the perfectionism. Yeah.
Marc: So how has that been for you? Because the mind talk that was going on for you has been pretty strong for a while. The perfectionism piece has been pretty strong. So what were some of the takeaways that you came away with from the session that you felt you were able to put into action maybe?
Hayley: I loved the homework where I got my boyfriend Pat—let him know that I’m trying this out—and whenever he’d give me a compliment, I had to take a breathe and properly received that and just acknowledge that it received his love. And that was a really fun piece of homework. That was really cool. And it was really funny. Sometimes he’d say something. And then he’d be like, “Babe, you’ve got to take this in, remember?” And I’m like, “Oh, yeah. Okay.” But it was really good. It was like a wee team. I enjoyed that.
And I really liked the other piece of homework. I did a big mind map of all these amazing feelings and things that I would have in my life when I had that ideal body. And that’s been really nice to actually be able to, when I tap into all those feelings, like, “I can have that right now. I just have to feel worthy to tap into that.”
Marc: That’s pretty big, huh?
Marc: Was that surprising for you?
Hayley: I think it was just so nice to have a couple practical steps specifically aimed at me. It’s so easy to go and think, “Oh, yeah. That could work. That might be good for me.” But it was so nice for you to be like, “Hayley, I want you to do A, B, C.” Yeah.
Marc: So what have you noticed since you’ve done that little inventory? What’s been happening in your head? How is the mind talk? How is the perfectionist thing?
Hayley: Well, when I was in New Zealand, it was fantastic. A lot has changed in my life since we last talked. A lot. Like moving across the world, adjusting to living in a city. And I’ve had three months by myself. So things have just changed completely. And it’s been really nice to be able to come back to good advice. It’s been really hard, probably the hardest three months I’ve had in a long time.
And it would be fair to say that the voice in my head has grown really strong. But I’m actually starting to feel really good. And I’m starting to feel like that sparkly Hayley has come back out. So that’s good.
Marc: So things are going good in New Zealand for a while. And then when you made this big transition, okay, not so good.
Marc: So when they were going good, what was different? When things were going good, what did you notice?
Hayley: I just felt lighter, like I just gave myself permission to feel all these
amazing things. And if I couldn’t do that, I knew that I’d just have to spend some time processing and it would pass. And to just know that when I’m feeling good, I look good. So that was a really nice piece of advice that I took away. But, yeah, it was just so fun to just give myself permission to feel those amazing things.
Marc: Got it. And then making the transition, moving halfway across the world, that’s probably a little stressful.
Marc: Yeah. So what started changing? What did you notice started happening? You made certain strides. And then all of a sudden do you think it was back to what it used to be? Worse than what it used to be? Different? How would you describe it?
Hayley: It was good for a wee while there, like I managed to take all of my little things that I do to make me feel good. And I was doing them. And then all of a sudden I think just the stress of this whole new environment and adjusting to a whole new country and traveling around just took its toll. And the stress of that just took over.
And I did feel like my binging came back full force, probably similar to what it was four years ago or so. But at the same time, I have new knowledge and wisdom to deal with that situation. So it’s like it’s really hard. But I have so many more insights to understanding what’s going on and actually seek support and know that it’s a little wee divine message for me.
Marc: So is it fair to say—I’m going to say these words. But tell me if they’re really true for you—that, okay, so the binge eating came back. And, wow, it’s just as challenging as it might have ever been. But I have more tools. I’m kind of paraphrasing. You said you have more tools to deal with that.
Do you feel like you’ve been dealing with it and countering it? Looking to manage it? Looking to move through it? Have you actually noticed, “Huh. These tools are working for me. I’m moving through this in a different way.” Is that true for you?
Hayley: Definitely. And I would go through the phases of wanting to fight it
and wanting to get rid of it. And I would turn a corner. And I talked to another graduate, Victoria, last week. And she helped me gain perspective and see it as like my best friend is actually helping me relax in a real stressful environment. And it’s helping me drop into my feminine. Yeah.
So it was really nice. I think I did need to go through that process of everything that was going on. I can’t just stop it. It’s obviously helping me get through something. And then I’m kind of out on the other side now, which is nice.
Marc: I want to highlight, Hayley, this is for you. And this is for all of us. I think it’s important to know in life in general, but especially as it relates to eating challenges, transition times are the hardest times. When we’re transitioning from one thing to another—from this to that, from being single to getting married or being married to getting divorced, or being pregnant to having a kid, or moving, or a different job, or death of a loved one—transition times, even when it’s a good transition, can be very stressful. And transition times are usually when people are having some of their most self-punishing behaviors because we don’t have our firm ground. We don’t have our usual things that help give us stability necessarily.
So what I’m happy for you about is that, yeah, you’ve noticed that, “Wow, this came back. But I have the tools now. And to me that’s where the real learning happens. The real learning happens when we dig in and we use what we have to not slip into unconsciousness, to not slip into darkness, to not slip into behaviors that just constantly do themselves without our input.
And that’s not easy. If it was easy, we would do it. It would be easy. But it’s just not easy to transcend that. And that’s why we have just certain tools of self-awareness, of different practices around self, around food, journaling, whatever it is. So I just want to point out that to my mind, this is the real work is being able to say, “Okay, I’ve had an inspiration. I’ve had an opening.”
And then when a difficult time comes back around, “Okay, now I’m going to use what I’ve learned.”
Because life is always going to circle back with difficulties. We’re always going to have difficulties on some level no matter how smart, rich, famous, skinny, strong, whatever it is that we get, no matter how perfect we are. There’s always going to be challenges that take us to our edge most likely. So it’s how do we deal with those and stay on the horse without falling off or without staying off once we fall off? Does that make sense?
Hayley: Yeah, definitely.
Marc: So I’m happy for you that you’ve noticed that and that you’ve been working it. And to me that’s the kind of momentum. It’s a little bit of a slower momentum. But it’s one of the strongest kinds where you’re really a lot more battle tested now on a certain level.
Marc: So what helps you these days now feel grounded in your body and in your relationship with food? What helps you return to just loving yourself and not getting sucked into perfectionism?
Hayley: I actually think it’s just being really honest with where I’m at and actually talking to someone that I trust fully. The other day I had this amazing conversation with a friend who was also traveling. And we were just so honest with each other. And it turns out we were going through all the same stuff.
But it just really helped me own my journey and be really grateful that I was going through this and that it was okay. It wasn’t just me. And I think I’ve just done a lot of journaling. And I’ve been really open to growth during this time. And I know that I’m going to get through it. It’s just hard.
Marc: Yeah. I think that’s perfectly put. Excuse the perfectionism statement. But you couldn’t have said it better. And I think what you just said is true for all age groups. And at the same time, it’s especially true for younger people that you have to remember that this is just helping you grow.
It’s here to help you grow even though we don’t like it. It doesn’t feel great. It’s challenging. It’s here to help us grow and get stronger. And that the more we understand that it’s here to help us grow, the more we can help it move along quicker and learn whatever lessons it’s trying to teach us.
And sometimes we’ve got to be really patient because you might be great now for months or for years. And then something happened then, “Oh, my God. I binge eating again. And I’m going through all this perfectionistic nonsense in
my head.” And then we have another opportunity to strengthen ourselves.
So it’s not about being perfect and getting rid of it. It’s about learning, I think, how to navigate so well that when things come up, we’re confident that we have the tools. We love ourselves through it. We get support. We allow ourselves to be human. And we let ourselves be a little bit fragile and not perfect because that’s kind of what we are anyway.
Marc: So I’m happy for you. I think you’re doing a great job. And congratulations on moving across the world. That must’ve been big.
Hayley: Yeah. I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting myself in for.
Marc: I want to go eat a bunch of food just hearing about that. I’m like, “Wow, that’s a lot!” And we have to find stability. And sometimes stability comes with old habits. Or sometimes stability comes with food. That, to the mind, occurs as, “Oh, that will give me stability,” to do the thing that seems so familiar.
Hayley: Yeah. And I was using it to do stress. And I was using it to ground myself. So now that I know what it was there for, it’s so much easier to try and choose more nourishing ways when it comes up. And I’m not going to do that every time. And it’s okay.
Marc: Exactly. Good for you. I think you’ve got the right attitude and the right approach. And, as you say, you have the tools. And this is your time in life to be practicing them as you need to whenever they come up and to just keep loving yourself through this journey.
So are you still in the same relationship? You’re still with your boyfriend?
Hayley: Yeah. So I had three months by myself. And he’s coming over this week. So I’m really excited.
Marc: Yay, good for you!
Marc: And I’m glad he was able to come on board with you, as well, and be just supportive of your process and be willing to play and help hold up the mirror for you and get some loving reflections about yourself because that was another piece. Sometimes it’s hard for us to love ourselves.
So if we can get help from the outside, meaning somebody else is there who is enjoying us or enjoying how we look or adoring us, then you take that in. And it’s literally practice. And it’s no different than eating food and assimilating it. We have to assimilate what the world is giving us, especially when it’s healthy and it’s good for us.
I think the whole point about being perfectionists is so we can feel good about what we have. It’s like, “Oh, I want to have this great life,” or this great body, this great diet, this great whatever it is. And then we can go, “Wow! I’m so great!”
Well, part of that is we’re already getting compliments a lot of times from the universe. Are we actually receiving them? Are we being grateful for what we already have? That really gets the wheels greased and allows us to finally let in the thing that we say that we want. We’ve got to practice it.
So, Hayley, thank you so much.
Hayley: Aww, thanks, Marc!
Marc: Yes. Anything else you want to share before we finish up about your journey, your experience?
Hayley: I think the biggest thing for me was just reaching out and getting the support and not trying to do it by myself.
Marc: Yeah, good for you. Congratulations.
Hayley: Yeah, thanks.
Marc: Thank you, Hayley! And thank you, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast, we have lots more coming, my friends. Take care.
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