Weight Loss, Trauma, & Abuse: What’s the Connection?  – In Session with Marc David

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Podcast Episode 400 - Weight Loss, Trauma, & Abuse: What’s the Connection?

In this episode of The Psychology of Eating Podcast, we explore how, for some people, the lifelong desire to lose weight can reflect an unconscious attempt to “fix” parts of ourselves that we think are broken or somehow wrong – something that is common for those of us who have endured childhood trauma or abuse. 

As we know, childhood abuse and trauma can take many forms. And for too many, the effects of that abuse linger on well into adulthood, touching just about every aspect of life – from our intimate relationships, mental and physical health, self-confidence, and so much more. 

Those of us who have endured abuse, trauma, or abandonment can end up feeling very unsafe in our bodies, or that there is something wrong with us that needs fixing. 

As Marc David, founder of the Institute, explores with 50-year old coaching client, Denise, one of the many ways people will sometimes try to re-establish safety or restore wholeness is by controlling their weight and diet.

While Denise has largely healed from the childhood abuse she endured, she still struggles with not feeling worthy or that she’s “enough” just as she is. She often turns to food for comfort or emotional support, and in her words, “would like to be more consistent with what I know is best for me, and not self-sabotage, or let emotions take over my bigger health and weight goals.” 

What Denise and others are attempting to do is feel in control – of their feelings, and their body.

And it makes a lot of sense. When we couldn’t control our circumstances as a child, we’ll try to find ways to feel in control as adults. 

But the challenge is that the core issue – feeling unsafe or unworthy – isn’t really getting healed by our attempts to control food or our body. 

So, that’s what this episode is all about – how we get to the real heart of abuse and trauma, and heal it from within – rather than trying to create a false sense of safety in our outer circumstances. 

We’d love to hear your own experience or thoughts about this episode – please drop us a comment below!

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Podcast Episode 400 - Weight Loss, Trauma, & Abuse: What’s the Connection?

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Weight Loss, Trauma, & Abuse: What’s the Connection?  – In Session with Marc David

Marc David  

Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We are back in the Psychology of Eating Podcast. I’m with Denise today. Welcome, Denise.

Denise  

Hi, thank you!

Marc David  

Thank you. I’m glad we’re here, and glad we’re doing this. You know the idea, and for anybody that’s new to the podcast, here’s what we’re doing. Denise and I are meeting for the first time, and we get to have a session together and see if we can help move you forward in a good way. Denise, if you could wave your magic wand, and have what you wanted with food and body, what would that look like for you?

Denise  

If I could wave my magic wand…at this point in my life right now, I think it would be to have the ability to be more consistent with what I know is best for me in this life stage, and not to self sabotage or let my emotions take over my health goals. I think most of us know what to do when it comes to food, but depending on one’s childhood, and the different ways in which food has directly or indirectly impacted us, it feels hard to feel so burdened by every choice around food. Not just in terms of: “how is this food choice going to make me look”, but in terms of: “how is this food choice going to affect me cellularly or hormonally and things like that…?” Through the holidays, I was being intentional about staying away from sugar because I’ve noticed that it makes me very sensitive and moody. As I get older, I’m finding that I’m more in tune with those things. But I still sometimes feel like I’ve got this “goal-based” idea of how I want to take care of my body. Something always comes up. It feels like my habit is to go to food for comfort or emotional support instead of the things that I know work way better for that purpose. I do really well for a while, but then I slip back into these old mindset habits. I just want to have the freedom and do the best I can to nourish my body. I want to think of my body more as having supported me through so much over 50 years, and to love my body for where it’s at. I’ll make progress in that area, but then I start to feel like I just snowball downhill to unhealthy thinking about my body.

Marc David  

Okay. That’s a nice, big, juicy desire: to be able to do the things that you know are good for you even though a lot of times you don’t do them and it feels like you’re sabotaging yourself. Ultimately, do you want to lose weight? Are you happy with your body?

Denise  

I would love to lose some weight. I was an athlete when I was younger, so I would love to lose weight and also have the consistency and discipline again to go to the gym a little more and lift weights. I live in New Mexico, so we have a lot of really nice weather days and I enjoy walking my dogs. But yeah, I’d like to lose weight for sure, and feel good in my skin. Regardless of what I weigh, I’ve gotten better at seeing myself in pictures and being affirming towards myself like: “that’s just where you’re at right now. It’s not who you are”. I’m trying to find that healthier balance. So yes, I’d like to lose weight and not feel so emotionally and mentally drained by the end of the day so I can add in more workouts. I find that in the morning, it’s not really an option.

Marc David  

So, when was the last time that you had the body or the weight that you felt good about?

Denise  

A couple of years ago, during COVID, I started a nutritional program, and I had the most success with it. More so than I’ve had with any other program…probably since I was in my 30s. Like I said, when I was younger, in my 20s and 30s, I played sports and I was very active. So, even when I got a little heavier than I wanted to be, I could just make up my mind to not eat carbs, drink more water, or go for a walk, and it would make a big difference for me then.

Marc David  

So, a couple of years ago, you were at the weight where you could say that it was where you wanted to be?

Denise  

Yeah, it was the happiest I had been in a long time. Yes, sir.

Marc David  

So how long did you hang out there? 

Denise  

Probably about eight or nine months, I guess?

Marc David  

And then what happened?

Denise  

I think, for me, the main thing was that some of those healthier habits that I was working on improving didn’t really stick because my other habits have been around longer. I gradually went back to making more unhealthy choices than I was making healthy choices. It didn’t swing fast, it was more like a very gradual thing. The weight kind of just crept back on. I wasn’t going for walks. Also, just this year there’ve been a lot of unexpected financial events. My daughter got engaged and then was married three months later. My husband had a hip replacement surgery and was out of four months of work. And it was my baby’s senior year, so we had all the prom stuff. Then, she moved out. I was a single mom for 20 years, and only recently married. We just celebrated our sixth anniversary.  My whole world revolved around my children, and all of that just majorly changed. So, I think most of what happened has just been a lot of just life. I try to be a better version of myself, but I never feel like I’m quite where I need to be even when I’m just doing the best that I can.  I’m the oldest of six kids, and I’m kind of the Peacekeeper within our family, so making my family a priority is a huge deal. I’m also involved in our church and everything involves food. It’s not just a holiday thing. It’s all the time.

Marc David  

How old were you when you noticed that food seemed to be problematic for you? At what age did you notice that you started watching food, monitoring it, wanting to lose weight, and not feeling good about your body?

Denise  

Probably when I was a teenager, I guess? My family traveled a lot, and I had a coach one year after a summer of traveling. I was playing sports after I came back from the summer, and a female coach pointed out that I had gained weight over the summer. I know that some of my issues…and I don’t mind saying this because I know there’s a lot of women that deal with this…come from being sexually abused as a child. I’ve done a lot of work in that area as far as forgiving, but there’s something that I feel like happens to you on such a deep level. You just don’t ever 100% feel good enough to feel good about yourself. I remember pretty early on during the time when some of that was happening, as a child, not even as a teenager, having suicidal thoughts. And then as the oldest child in high school I was a people pleaser. I made straight A’s and graduated at the top of my class. I played all the sports, and went to state in every sport. I qualified for basketball, volleyball, and track. I was really pushing myself to be the best version of myself. And then college happens and that was a whole other thing. I had a really good guy friend tell me one time that I would be a knockout if I would just lose some weight. I know he meant well, because we were friends, but those things stick with you. I remember constantly seeing myself in pictures and just wanting to like who I am. I just want to be able to see all that I have overcome and be like: to heck with that negative voice! I’m a spiritual person, and there’s this saying from Paul, who said there’s this “thorn in his flesh”. And this has been my thorn for years.

Marc David  

Yes, that’s very hard. That’s hard. You’re describing a lifetime of your journey, and your challenges. When we have trauma at a young age, if we’re abused at a young age, or if we’re abandoned, say by the death of a parent, that’s a trauma. And in many ways, when there’s a trauma at a young age, it’s hard to want to be in your body. It’s hard to feel that this body is your home. Your home is where love is. Your home is with your family. Your home is where your partner is. Maybe your home is where God is, or Jesus is. And, at the same time, fundamentally, you wake up every morning and your home is your body. And if the body’s not a safe place, then we’re never at home. And we’re never quite feeling good about this body as home. So, I’m just putting into different words what I’m hearing you say. Having the body weight where you feel comfortable is a way of saying my home feels good. Home base feels okay. And it sounds like for you, this has been a lifelong struggle, and it’s tiring.

Denise  

Yeah, it has. Several years ago, I was working with an online coach who I found through a friend of my sisters. We were really digging into sleep and different things beyond just what I was eating, and my exercise routine. We were really doing some mindset work, and I was feeling stronger. I was happy with the things that my body could still do, even though I had been inactive for several years. Then, within about a two or three month stretch, I had a car accident and totaled the vehicle. It could have been a lot worse, but it did set me back. And then my husband and I were newlyweds and had two miscarriages. The first one happened within two months of the car accident. So, it just seems like I make some progress, and then get derailed. The progress I had made a couple of years ago was the furthest I had pushed the sled up the hill. I felt like my relationships were improving, and I was doing my job better. I felt like I was kind of coming into myself. I literally spent the last six to nine months trying to figure out what happened. I was on this good path, making progress. I just can’t seem to get back to where I was when I started. I just feel like I’m going backwards some days with how I feel about myself. I really want to feel so much better, but I’m struggling to get there, you know?

Marc David  

Yes, yes. So, let me offer a few thoughts from my own perspective and share with you how I see these things. First of all, what you’re trying to do is not easy. If it was easy, you would have done it. So, let’s just say that you certainly get an A for effort. And the hard part is, you work hard and you’re putting in all this effort. You feel like you’re doing okay, and making progress until something happens and you get thrown off. You use the words “I’m making progress, and then something happens.” And I’m assuming that when you get thrown off, it affects your eating, how you feel about your body, and how you take care of yourself. So, yes, it’s useful to work on mindset. A lot of times in this situation, when I’m working with a client, I’m also working with them on mindset because that’s what’s going to move things forward. Sometimes, to help somebody, you work with them on lifestyle pieces and tell them what to do and not to do. You help somebody implement certain lifestyle practices and certain nutritional practices, and that’s enough to move the dial for them. So, as I’m listening to you, I’m asking myself the question: what’s going to help move things along for Denise? And what I keep coming up with is that there’s a deeper dive in here for you. Part of it is, in a strange way, to let go of the previous ways that you have measured progress. Because what’s happening is, you see yourself making progress, feeling good, and taking care of yourself. Maybe you’re exercising and following a nutritional system. Then something happens in life, and you get thrown off. From there, the mind goes and you see yourself as having taken steps back. But when you take a step back, it’s not really a step back. It’s not going in the opposite direction. For you, it’s learning about how you hold setbacks and how you hold life events that get in the way. And maybe there’s a part of you that sees setbacks almost like a bit of a sin, like you did something wrong.

Denise  

Yeah, I struggled with that for many, many years after the abuse. I started to observe as a young adult in college, and even after I graduated, that women who have been sexually abused would fall into two categories. Either they would not have anything to do with men, and were gay or had same sex partners because they couldn’t even stand the thought of a man. Or, they tried to fill the void with way too many relationships. I definitely swung that direction. Now, because of my raising, and my faith later in my life, I constantly tried to make the right decision. Even if something happened just once, I would beat myself up for months and months and feel not good and separated.

Marc David  

Yes, and that’s where your faith comes in. That’s where it’s about you, truly practicing more what you believe in. If you believe that you’re forgiven, then at the very least, you need to forgive yourself. Yeah, these things happen. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We can’t explain it. You don’t know God’s plan. We don’t understand, but a big piece of it is forgiveness. If you feel like: “I’ve done something wrong, and don’t forgive myself. I’ve taken a step back, and this is about me…” then you’re going to try to do things that fix it: “I gotta fix this by practicing this. I gotta work harder here, and I have got to work harder there.” It’s not about doing anything. You don’t have to do anything. In fact, I want to see you do less. I would love to see you cross so many things off the list that you think you need to do to take care of yourself. Yeah, there are lots of things that you and I need to do that fall under the category of taking care of ourselves. So I’m not saying throw those things out the window. But what I’m saying is, take a period of time where you focus on what’s most important to do for yourself. What’s most important, is to stop doing things to be forgiven and to prove to yourself that you are lovable and worthy. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to lose any weight. You don’t have to eat any better than you’re eating today or yesterday or tomorrow. Your body doesn’t have to look any different. Now, we may have our preferences to be at a certain level of fitness and to have our body look a certain way. I’m right there with you. And we have got to be able to put that aside for the moment. 

It’s sort of a paradox to say: “even though I have my preferences, even though I’m not where I want to be with food, even though I’m not where I want to be with my body, I can love myself, and I’m forgiven. I don’t have to do anything different to be acceptable in my own eyes, in the eyes of my loved ones, or in the eyes of the Lord.” The people that love you, love you. I’m sure your kids don’t call you up every day and say: “mom, I’m not talking to you until you lose 10 more pounds. I’m talking to you until you eat better.” Your loved ones don’t say that stuff to you. They’re not calling you up and judging you because you ate too much today, right? They call you up and say that they love you. If you gained 10 pounds, they love you. If you lose 50 pounds, they love you. Doesn’t matter. So there’s a place where that’s what you need to give yourself. 

I think what happens, Denise, is that oftentimes, when we’re young, and something difficult happens, whatever it is, a part of us stays at that age. So, even though you’re a 50 year old woman, and you have all the wisdom of a 50 year old woman, and all the experience of a 50 year old woman, there’s a part of you that’s a young girl at the same time. You’re a mother, you’ve raised your kids, you’re newly married, and you have all the wisdom of your life and your new faith. And at the same time, there’s a part of you, that’s a young girl who was hurt and abused and is just trying to figure it out. She needs to know that she’s just loved and she doesn’t have to do anything to earn it. There’s a place where you go between personalities. There’s Denise who has her act together: you know who you are, you know what you believe, you know how you feel, you know how much love you have. And there’s Denise who goes into chaos inside of herself. The part of Denise who is trying to fix it, trying to fix it in the moment; her diet, her weight, her life. There’s nothing to fix. You’re living your life. You’re doing your journey. You’re following your path. You’re not broken. Yeah, you’re trying to be the best version of yourself. And you’re doing that! This is what it looks like! This is what you being the best version of you looks like. You made yourself into an amazing woman. And you’ve been a single mom…how many kids?

Denise  

Two girls, which is another reason why I want to figure it out because I don’t want them to feel like this at 50. I’ve got one that is a lot like me, and another one that I did a lot better job with the body image stuff and the confidence. So, it’s just really important to me, for my girls more than anything, that I figure this out.

Marc David  

You know, sure. It’s about demonstrating to them that you are courageous enough to love yourself for who you are. That’s what it is. Because you know what? Your girls, like you and like all of us, are going to have their ups and downs. They’re going to have their challenges. They’re going to have their moments in life. And what’s most important, when we’re having our challenges is to turn to your faith and remember to just keep loving yourself through your challenges. Instead of trying to fix it like something’s broken. It’s a shift in your perception. There is nothing broken about Denise. You don’t ever need to worry or use the words: “I need to fix this.” Fixing implies that there’s something broken. All you need to do is add more love into the meal here. You need to add more love into the relationship between you and you. That’s all it is. And if you want to serve your daughters, demonstrate to them that you can love yourself even though your life’s not perfect and even though you go through hardship. I’m just feeling that because of a past trauma, there’s still a little part of you that’s living there. Trauma just means unresolved stress. We had a stressful situation that was so intense and we just need to recover from it. Normally, something stressful happens and hopefully after a day or two or three, you can take a deep breath and come back to your center. With your trauma, there’s a part of you that’s never quite come back to: “I’m safe here.” The moment your mind starts to get really fast and you start trying to figure out how to fix it, because this is what happens when you’re trying to fix yourself, that’s when I want you to catch yourself and take a deep breath, and pray if you need to, and just affirm that “I am here”, and “I am safe.”

So, to me, this is a spiritual awakening that you’re looking to do. And a lot of times, when we’re ready for a spiritual awakening or a spiritual reckoning, we have to call it in. Sometimes, it just happens. Sometimes, life just brings us to that moment. Other times, we have to call it in. And what I hear you doing is trying to bring in the Queen in you. The Queen is the part of you that sits on her throne. She’s embodied. She’s present. She knows who she is. She knows she’s not perfect. She knows she’s in the last half of her life. She knows that whatever has happened in the past, has happened. And the Queen in you is not sitting there going: “do y’all approve of me? If I lose weight, are you gonna love me more? Do I look okay? What do I have to do for you to like me?” No. The Queen in you knows who she is and knows what she represents. Yes, you have your preferences and you’d like to be fit and lose weight. But those preferences are in their proper place. They don’t sit on the top. They’re over here. They’re a side dish. You’re putting your preference for a certain body, and a certain way of eating and exercising, front and center like these are the most important things. 

The most important thing is the love that you have in your life. The most important thing is who you are and what you’re going to do with all these years that you have left, right? The most important thing is you being the best version of yourself. And I’m going to suggest to you for now that the best version of you right now has nothing to do with what you eat, and what your body looks like. You’ve got to put that to the side. You’ve got to give that a little vacation because it’s got its grips on you. It’s not where the action is for you. There’s a part of you that believes that if I could fix that, then I will have fixed everything. If I could just be consistent, and not sabotage myself, then all is going to be good. We’re trying to fix things in the wrong place. We’re trying to fix something that’s not broken. By changing your body, changing your diet, you might feel better about yourself on a certain level, but it’s fleeting. You’ve been there before and you’ve had the weight you’ve wanted, and that doesn’t ensure that you’re going to live there, and that you’re going to live happily ever after. So, that’s why part of it is letting go of that dream. Before you become a Queen, naturally, you’re a Princess. Before you become a King, you’re a Prince. The Prince or the Princess is just the younger version. We are royalty inside, but we need years of wisdom and growth to become the fullest expression. You need the wisdom of your years to become the Queen. When you’re a princess in the princess stage, we’re looking for approval from the outside world: “tell me you love me. Tell me I look good.” And then people are telling us: “oh you gained weight, young Princess. That’s bad!” We take those messages in because we’re vulnerable. Young people, young women, young men, we are vulnerable. We are vulnerable to harmful messages. They get inside of us and when they get inside of us, it’s like a virus that reproduces, and we repeat them. So even though somebody might have said that to you once, you repeat the insult. And the truth is, you have love in your life. Life has proven to you that you don’t need to look a certain way to have love in your life. You don’t need to look and eat a certain way in order to have the gifts that life brings to you. Yeah, you have struggled, but life has given you gifts. And probably when we weigh it all out, Life has been good to you.

Denise  

Yeah, most definitely.

Marc David  

So, it’s a shift that I’m asking you to make. I’m saying it’s a spiritual shift. I’m saying it’s a religious shift, where you stop putting weight, food, diet, and fitness on the altar, and praying to it. It’s not your God and doesn’t deserve the place of God in your life. But because of our young wounding, we think it does. And you’re not the only one. There’s so many women, and increasingly more men, walking around thinking: “if I could just look and eat the right way, it’s all going to be okay.”

Denise  

I feel like I’ve noticed as a pattern that it affects my intimate relationships. I went years without being in any relationship. I was just being the best mom I could be. But in relationships, I have noticed that I tend to think they’re thinking the worst thing when that’s not at all true. Even in relationships, it’s almost like self-sabotaging. I’m creating something that’s not really there. I feel like I might push away people. Not everyone, because I’m super close to my family, to my girls, and I have very good friends. God’s blessed me with for years. But in those intimate relationships, I feel like I’m being pulled backwards. I’m not who I want to be even in the relationship. I think that’s part of why, probably subconsciously, that I stayed single for so long. I did it wrong once and I saw all the things that I didn’t like about myself in that relationship, and I just didn’t want to do that again.

Marc David  

So, let’s do some reframes here. Instead of: “I did it wrong.” It’s that you’re doing what every other human being does when we arrive on planet Earth, which is learning and growing. You’re learning and you’re growing. So right now, there’s nothing wrong. There’s nothing wrong because you’ve been learning and you’ve been growing. That’s what you’re doing. I want you to notice every time you use the term self-sabotage. I want you to take that out of your vocabulary. I want you to think: “that guy told me to let go with that term.” Why? Because it’s not self sabotage. If you’re in an intimate relationship, and find that you can’t give all yourself and you can’t be there fully…you know, something? There’s a reason for that. And there’s good reason for that, given your past history. So, you’re learning how to be in an intimate relationship. You’re not sabotaging it. You’re noticing, oh, here’s my pattern. And that pattern, you know why it’s there? It’s there for your protection. You know why you want to protect? Because there was a point where your boundaries were obliterated by somebody and you weren’t able to protect yourself fully. So, now your protection is up. That’s a good thing. So you say to yourself: “oh, wait a second! Now, I’m noticing that my protection doesn’t really need to be up in my closest intimate relationship, where I’m learning to trust my partner and learning to feel safe with a man.” So, all I’m saying is you don’t self sabotage. You’re actually doing something smart, which is protecting yourself until you can realize: “oh, I can feel safe, I can start to feel safe.” You’re learning how to do that. Notice how different that is from: “I sabotage myself. Something’s wrong me, I did it wrong the first time.” Goodness, how many people go through divorce? Go through many divorces? Go through many marriages, many relationships? We live in a time where we’re trying to figure it out. It’s not easy. It’s not easy being a human being alive on planet Earth in a relationship, raising children, being intimate, learning how to deal with abuse and hardship, suffering, pain and disease. This stuff is not easy. So, I just want to remind you that it’s about taking away the language that you’ve done something wrong. You haven’t done anything wrong. You’ve been a human being on a learning journey. And you being the best version of yourself means that you’re learning. You’re learning your lessons: “oh, I’m safe. Oh, I need to actually practice love for myself. I need to practice that I’m okay as who I am. I don’t need to fix anything because there’s nothing broken. Am I a perfect human being? No. Do I have my challenges? Yes.”

You could be dying of cancer and not be broken. We’re whole human beings, and we’re on a journey that has some pain and suffering here and there. It doesn’t mean that we’re tainted somehow or that we’re broken. It’s a whole different way of looking at things. I’m asking you to try on the possibility that there’s nothing to fix. Remind yourself that yes, you have your preferences. Yes, it might be a challenge for you to eat healthy. But it’s more important before you learn how to stay in the groove with eating, and exercising the way you want to exercise, that it’s going to be much easier to get there when you start to give yourself a bit of a hug every day. When you treat yourself like you’re that young girl who’s been abused, and you’re just being the best mother to her. You’re just loving her every day. That’s what’s going to make you feel better. When you start to fix yourself, you abandon yourself, and you’re checking out. You don’t need to be fixed, you need to be loved. There’s people in your life who love you, that’s great! You need to start doing that for yourself. My bet is that you’re not looking at the people in your life who are having challenges like they’re broken, that there’s something wrong with them, and you’ve got to fix them. Yeah, you’re there to help them. But you’re also loving them for who they are while you’re helping them. So, I’m just asking you to do that for you. You’re a lot calmer since you got into this conversation with me.

Denise  

Yeah. I think everything you’re saying resonates with the deepest part of me that just knows. I’ve done the work to work through the victim mentality. I don’t know if it’s always going to be there, but I acknowledge it. I don’t feel like that person all the time, but when I do, it feels like every area of my life has gone backwards. What resonates with me is just the loving of myself. That’s exactly how I treat and encourage every one that I love whenever I have the opportunity to do so. Whether it’s my family, sisters, friends, or co-workers. But I am just not that great at it for myself, or haven’t been, pretty much my whole life, you know? I’m understanding what that actually looks like and how that actually affects my life and my relationship with my husband and my work. There have been so many times when I feel like I’m under spiritual attack. Right now, I’m kind of in a season where I just feel like I’m under spiritual attack with finances and people lying about me at work even. This stuff hasn’t come up in a long time, and I’m just taking this deep breath. Even a year ago, my old self would have tried to do a bunch of things to fix it. But now I’m in a place where I’m going to take a step back and not feel like I have to do anything just yet. Even today, I’m driving home to be on the computer to get on this call, and I’m crying about things going on with my husband, and I’m realizing how everybody’s got so much on their plate. We’re really all doing the best we can.

Marc David  

Yes, yes. And you’re worthy of loving yourself. You don’t have to fix yourself. Yeah, we have got to do our life. And yeah, there’s going to be hardship in there. But just because there’s hardship, it doesn’t mean that we’re doing something wrong. It doesn’t mean that there’s something broken, it means: here’s life. This is your unique journey that God has given you. How do you keep standing by yourself, keep remembering what you know, and keep believing in what you ultimately believe in? Which I’m hoping is that you’re loved, and you’re forgiven. You haven’t done anything wrong. And if there’s things you didn’t do well, it’s because you didn’t know any better. You’re trying your best. And even if you can’t stick to a diet, it doesn’t matter! It’s hard to stick to a diet. And you know, something? It’s harder to stick to a diet, when the diet means that: “if I follow this, I’m good, and I love myself. And if I don’t follow it, I’m bad and I hate myself.” Woah! That puts a lot of pressure on us and we’re bound to fail. It’s too much pressure. We’re giving away all our power to a bunch of food and a way of eating. It’s not that important. What’s important first, is that you stop fixing and start to feel what it feels like to just be in your body. Just take three or four months, and pretend that this is the body I’m going to have for the rest of my life. I’m not going to try to fix this body. I’m not going to try to change it. I just want to give it a little rest. I just want to let it know: you know something, body? I’m not going to try to change you so that I can learn to love you more and so that I can love you more.

You wouldn’t say to your girls when they were two years old and had a little baby fat on them. You wouldn’t say: “I’m waiting for your baby fat to come off, and then I’m gonna love you.” So, give your body the signal that you love it and you’re not trying to change it. Because your body hasn’t gotten that message from you. From a young age, your body gets some negative messages from the outside. So, it’s your job to fill in the love that your body needs and that it’s looking for. It starts with you. It really touches on just respecting yourself, and honoring yourself, and being able to say that you know the parts of your life that don’t work, while also being able to acknowledge the parts of your life that do work, and the parts of your life that are a blessing. It’s letting go of trying to fix your diet and fix your body. Let go of all of that for a while and see–who am I without that pressure? Cuz that’s a lot of pressure. 

Denise  

Yeah, I feel like a lot of those kinds of changes happen when you’re a mom. I’m still a mom, it just looks different. Ones six hours away and just got married. And ones in college. I’ve raised them both well, and I’m very proud of my girls. But I wish I was more excited about a new season to do some things for myself. I have somebody to share my life with,  and I find myself not feeling that way. Just recently, not really knowing how to go on. But I know that loving myself is something that I have to keep working towards. It resonates with me 100%

Marc David  

That’s the starting place. You are in a life transition. Age 50 is a big transition. No longer having any kids at home is a big transition. And transitions aren’t always easy. Oftentimes, it brings up a lot of emotion. It brings up grief because you’re letting go of a part of your life that was a part of your life for a long time. It was a part of your life that gave you a lot of meaning. So right now, there’s a void to be filled, and you don’t know exactly what’s going to fill that. While you’re in that unknown, you might as well just love yourself, stand by yourself, and take care of yourself. And taking care of yourself doesn’t mean that you’ve got to eat perfectly and exercise perfectly. Taking care of yourself means that you’re doing things that help make you feel nourished and help you feel relaxed. You’re doing things that make you feel like you’re bettering yourself and that come a little bit more natural to you. Don’t try to push yourself to do things that aren’t coming more smoothly for you right now. So, that’s a nice, big open conversation I think we just had. At least that’s my impression. How are you feeling right now?

Denise  

I’m hopeful and grateful.

Marc David  

Good for you. Those are great feelings to remember. Remember that you can call them in, and you can invite them in a little more. That’s like really good nutrition. 

Denise  

For sure. Yeah. 

Marc David  

Denise, I really appreciate you just being in this conversation, hanging in there with me, and being willing to reveal a lot about your personal life that’s deeper, and more meaningful, and more potent, and powerful. I think a lot of people are going to benefit from listening to you and listening to this conversation. So, thank you.

Denise  

Well, thank you so much, Marc. I appreciate you. 

Marc David  

Alright. And thanks y’all for tuning in. Take care, and lots more to come.

Denise  

Okay, bye.

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