Willpower has becomes this catch-all, root cause of why we struggle with our nutrition, food and weight loss goals. In today’s episode, we’ll:
- Expose how the “I need more willpower” belief is sabotaging you
- Illuminate how “moments of weakness” are symptoms of other root causes and
- Show you where to direct your willpower so you get the results that are possible for you
Mentioned in This Episode
- Why Am I Eating This Now program
- Insatiable Community
- Comfort Eating Quiz
- Food versus Exercise Willpower podcast episode
- Inner Food Rebel Self-Sabotage or Self Protection podcast episode
- Pros and Cons of Intuitive Eating podcast episode
- Will power analysis
- Revisiting Growth Mindset
[0:00:47.5] AS: Welcome everybody to Season 8 of Insatiable. We are on episode 1. Welcome back. This season’s theme is, drumroll… consistency. It’s no secret that consistency is the key to success. Many of us have so much health knowledge and we are aware of the latest and greatest food research and have the best of intention and then real life happens. We fall off-track, lose motivation and get discouraged.
Convention tells us consistency is about willpower, discipline and hard work, but research and adult development theory points us elsewhere. 15 years ago, I discovered functional medicine and reversed my irritable bowel syndrome, depression and a host of issues. I was amazed at the power of food as medicine and felt amazing. Even with all of these great results, I couldn’t stop my binging and overeating.
My quest to discover, why can’t I stick with this? Being at grad school to study adult development and how we change ingrained patterns and behaviors, I came to realize inconsistency is a symptom, just like depression and binging. It’s not the problem, but has various root causes depending on the individual.
Not only is falling off track an invitation into deeper healing in radical results, I found that when it comes to consistency, a lot of the common beliefs we have around being consistent are actually what causes us to fall off-track.
In this Insatiable season, we will look at inconsistency as a symptom, not a problem. We’ll explore what happens when the novelty of some “new plan” has worn off and why real-life trips us up. What are the various root causes of why we lose motivation, want to be bad with our food and tell ourselves, “Chuck it. F it.” That’s our theme.
Today, we are talking about the four weight loss willpower myth sabotaging your results. Before I get to a very special guest, I want to welcome back all our loyal listeners we’ve had over. I was counting. I’ve been doing this three and a half years. It’s amazing. In between season seven and eight, we’ve had a ton of podcast growth of people finding the podcast through all of you guys who share it. Thank you so much. I appreciate those of you who share the podcast with others. We also want to welcome people from the Rebel Therapist Podcast, where I was a guest. From Girlboss, the online publication that highlighted Insatiable and the great work that we are doing here with our guests, in the conversations we’re having there. Again, thank you for those who shared the podcast.
Today, we are going to be talking about willpower myths, like I just said. Willpower has become this catch-all root cause of why we struggle with our nutrition, food and weight loss goals. For regular listeners, you will know, I loathe a lack of nuance and clarity. In today’s episode, we’re going to expose how that I need more willpower belief is sabotaging you. We’re going to illuminate how “moment’s a weakness” and I put that in quotes, our symptoms of other root causes and show you where to redirect your willpower, so you get results that are possible for you.
Something I’m so frustrated about is I know what’s possible and I feel a lot of these willpower myths prevents us from getting to reaching all our goals and a lot more of wonderful relief we didn’t know was possible.
To help facilitate this conversation, we have Insatiable community member, Justine DeMello to be part of this conversation, as someone on the path to a truce with food and food freedom. Thanks for being here, Justine.
[0:04:23.3] JDM: Thanks for having me, Ali.
[0:04:25.5] AS: Yeah. A little bit for everyone tuning in, Justine is a marketing and proposal professional with over six years of experience in proposal writing and content development in the healthcare space. In addition to spending time with family and friends, she loves reading, cooking, shoes and perhaps most importantly, snuggling under massive piles of blankets, and horses too. We just – horses too, which I love too.
Justine graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston College in 2011 and she lives in Connecticut with her husband and two cats. Thanks again for being here, Justine. For everyone listening, this theme of consistency came out of some of the conversations we were having in the Insatiable membership community, so I figured why not have you come on and we can have a much richer discussion? Rather than me just lecturing for an hour. Thank you.
[0:05:15.0] JDM: Yeah, I love it. I’m so happy it to be here and excited that I get to talk about this and dig a little deeper with you.
[0:05:22.9] AS: Yeah, and for everyone listening, we’re going to go through some real-life examples that Justine was sharing in the community, so that you guys can learn as well. Before I get to that, one last thing I’d like – one more thing. I had announced at the end of last season, that I had a really big announcement. I have to say I’ve been sharing it with clients and in our community and you guys are very intuitive, or I’m a really bad liar, or surprise, but I am pregnant. Super, super excited. I’m going to share more details in another episode, as well as in the next season of Insatiable. We’ll probably be around various themes of fertility, parenting, all that stuff, because it’s clearly what I’m reading.
What I’m learning is there’s so many horrible myths and stereotypes. I will give you the headline that basically, last year my friend who was 43 and struggling with fertility has told me, “I wish I would have gotten all my numbers checked out at 39,” which was the age I was at the time. She said, “I know you don’t like Western medicine, but I would just go and see what your numbers are.”
I went and it was a horrible experience. Basically, they told me that I was in early menopause, most likely from the chemotherapy that I had 27 years ago. What they could offer me was using a donor egg, which is where use someone else’s egg and then do IVF. I could pay $30,000 for that maybe to work. I’ll explain more on another episode. Basically, I came to the conclusion that that wasn’t the right choice for me and I decided to work with the naturopath and an acupuncturist and got pregnant on my own in January. I’m totally surprised. Wanted to quit my life in February. Didn’t know what was happening, if it was because I haven’t seen the sun. Then took a pregnancy test and here we are.
I’m due on October and it is a baby boy, which is totally surprising to me. Carlos and I are definitely going to raise a feminist figure as a white privilege male who’ll be able to take down the patriarchy a little bit faster than even a white feminist woman. Wish us luck. Yeah. The only big change and we will still be doing our seasons and taking breaks in between, but the why am I eating this now program will start in mid-August, rather than after the fall, because I want to make sure that I can completely facilitate it before I go into labor. Super excited still.
Right now at the time of this recording about halfway through, I’m feeling great. Knock on wood. Having a very uneventful healthy pregnancy, but also cautiously optimistic, because you never know. Fertility is ultimately a mystery. Just wanted to share all that with you. Again, there’ll be much more details in the mindset and some of the things that I learned about my body going through this on episode five of this season and then much, much more in our season nine.
Okay, so Justine, now onto our conversation today.
[0:08:25.3] JDM: Sounds good.
[0:08:26.4] AS: Yeah. Just before, we’ve heard your official bio, but I just want people to understand where you’re coming from. Why did you decide to join the Insatiable membership community?
[0:08:35.9] JDM: Absolutely. I joined the community for so many reasons. I don’t know if this will be helpful for your listeners, so I wanted to give a little bit of background on myself to get to why I felt it was important to join.
I grew up in a larger body and well, I dabbled in a few diets. It wasn’t really until after college that I decided it was really going to be my time to lose weight. I decided to postpone, really actively looking for an adult job, I guess you could call it.
[0:09:08.5] AS: Smart move. Smart move.
[0:09:10.5] JDM: I joined Weight Watchers. I literally spent the next year working on myself. I felt everything was going great. After about a year, I got a full-time job in an insurance company and everything seemed to be going great. Right around that five-year mark of losing weight, so we’re in about 2016, I just started noticing the weight coming back on. I felt so out of control, because I really didn’t know what was going on in my body. I’m sure you’ve talked about this before and we like to think that weight and weight loss is simply calories in, calories out, but there’s so many things going on your body that can determine that.
I was literally rationalizing like, “Well, if a pound is 3,500 calories, I’m not eating that much to gain this much weight.” Literally, that was what was going on in my head. I just finally hit rock bottom and got to that realization that dieting in and of itself doesn’t work. As a result, I decided I wanted to begin healing my relationship with food and body. I realize how obsessive my thoughts have become and I really just wanted to get out of that space.
Right now, that’s what I’m working on, which is stopping dieting and the food restriction entirely, and working on reconnecting to my body, so I can feel what does make me feel good, because I know that I couldn’t get to the what makes me feel good, without getting rid of that restriction.
Once I found you on podcast, I literally tried to figure out when that was, but I could not. I was like, was it a year? Was it two years? I don’t know. What I loved about listening to your podcast is that the conversations were so real and practical and always like what you say is getting to that root cause. I’ve done a lot of emotional and maybe what some people might consider like, “Woo, woo, work around food and body,” but you’re so – everything you talk about is so real and practical.
I like to summarize what I feel getting working with you is I get to understand not only why I want something, so chocolate from an emotional perspective. We’ve talked about like, am I feeling lonely, because my husband is at home from work and I’m eating dinner alone again? Also, what’s that signaling from a biological perspective like, did I meet my needs for carbs, fat, protein throughout the day?
Then also, I get to be at choice when I want that chocolate. If I do decide that I want it, because I can put myself back in power, like have I balanced my blood sugar in a way that I can have that chocolate, but I’m not going to get a bellyache. That’s what I feel the conversations I get with you are about and what I’m learning in the community. I absolutely love it.
[0:12:16.5] AS: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your story, because I know so many people listening are going to connect with that, right? The culture tells you, it’s a willpower issue. To your point, when you start digging into the research, it’s like, oh no, dieting is what causes the weight gain. It’s not my willpower. It’s not that I was too – I had too much willpower to do this bullshit.
[0:12:43.2] JDM: Exactly. I did.
[0:12:47.7] AS: Yeah, we’re going to get into that today. I love that and I love that you brought up that we focus on a holistic perspective, because I think when we look at some of the willpower myths today, we’re going to look at it from both angles, because as we were talking about on the Q&A call yesterday in the Insatiable membership community, how you’re feeling in your physical body, like blood sugar and gut health, influences your moods. Then your mood is also if you’re feeling good, or depressed, or sad, also – or lonely, also influences your physiology. It’s this infinity feedback loop. Without looking at both, we’re just not going to be able to get the results that are possible. Awesome. Well, that’s an amazing intro and background. Thank you.
I want us to start first by looking at what willpower even is, as someone who is can dabble in coaching, it’s all about making sure we’re all talking about the same term. I looked up the definition of willpower and it said that it’s basically, control exerted to do something, or restrain impulses, which we typically think of as self-control. I love that Justine was talking about feeling out of control. I mean, I used to feel that way all the time with food, right?
You assume like, “I’m out of control. I need more self-control.” Willpower is mostly thought of as the ability to resist short-term temptations and desires, in order to achieve long-term results. When I was thinking about this, what we hear in the food world is you have to skip the brownie, so you can lose weight, right? Or throw your gym clothes on and go run, even when you don’t want to.
I think what’s really important is that this definition implies that short-term and long-term success are at odds, right? In this course story, we’ll make you think you’re on the right track when you’re resisting cravings, rather than seeing them as the symptoms you aren’t eating the right things for you, or say with exercise that makes you think, “Oh, no pain, no gain. If I hate this exercise, it’s working.” Which then research shows us that the more we think exercise is a sacrifice, we underestimate how much we’re burning from exercise and we overestimate how much we’re burning and we underestimate how much we’re eating in reaction to that exercise.
It really sets ourselves up for failure, if these short-term and long-term goals, or satisfaction is at odds. Justine, it made me think on one of our Q&A calls, you started to realize some of the rules that you’re living by and you were saying how you get hungry for lunch at 11:30. We were like, “Eat then,” right? Rather than trying to be good and push through to noon, which is maybe what a diet would say, or some was – right? Isn’t it better to satisfy your hunger than to suffer?
[0:15:31.3] JDM: Oh, my gosh. Absolutely. Because I think, it’s like I was getting to that 11:30. Even without diet culture, I think lunch is at noon. I was waiting and pushing myself till that. Then we’ve talked about eating slowly and trying to be present is one of the things I really want to do. By waiting, all I was doing was getting myself farther from that place, so I’d be eating way more because I just needed to eat, because my body was so depleted, versus had I just ate lunch at 11:30 and been okay with that, then it would have been like, okay, I can eat and actually pay attention to my body, because I’m not so frazzled in trying to meet those needs quickly.
[0:16:12.5] AS: Yeah, yeah. You mentioned blood sugar. By pushing through and thinking by forgoing this short-term satisfaction, your body is like, “I am dying.”
[0:16:25.8] JDM: Exactly.
[0:16:28.8] AS: Oh, man. I know things have multiple root causes. The Puritans and their influence on us and that discipline and deny all, it really is really vetting our health.
[0:16:38.8] JDM: Oh, my gosh. It really has. I feel it’s such an interesting – we don’t really like to think about that. That’s again, one of the things I love about chatting with you is there is so much of that discipline and hard work, and all of that – everything we do has to be hard for us to deserve it. That’s not the case.
[0:16:59.5] AS: Right, right. Okay, so according to the American Psychological Association, most psychology researchers define willpower as one, the ability to delay gratification and resist short-term temptations to meet long-term goals. The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse. The conscious effort for regulation itself by the self, and that willpower is a limited resources, capable of being depleted.
I really like this definition of willpower. I think it’s complete. I think it’s thorough. What I have a beef with is because, and I’m using that pun intended, do you remember Wendy’s? Where is the beef? Or are you too young? You might be too young.
[0:17:37.4] JDM: No. I think I remember it.
[0:17:38.9] AS: Okay. Well, anyone that’s 40 or older will remember. It was one of the most popular commercials. So few people, researchers included actually understand our relationship to food. They don’t see the whole picture. We’re going to go – Justine and I are going to go through each of these definition points and show the way sometimes, willpower is completely unrelated to our food choices and how many of the motivation quotes that we think are inspiring us, like no pain, no gain, or nothing tastes as good as thin feels, are actually sabotaging our story.
They try to reinforce this sabotaging story that again, I think the core story here that we filter so much through is it’s you have to resist short-term satisfaction for long-term gain. Whereas, I hope after today, you get nothing from this episode that if you feel good in the short-term, you have a better chance of feeling good in the long-term.
We’ll get to wanting to make the healthy choice and blah, blah, blah. The first one is the ability to delay gratification and resist short-term temptations to meet long-term goals. Again, I said, I think that this is best summed up in a mantra that I learned at all my Weight Watchers meetings, was nothing tastes as good as thin feels, right? There’s that delay the gratification.
[0:18:54.8] JDM: Absolutely.
[0:18:55.7] AS: Yeah. Similar to what Justine was saying is if you’ve been listening to Insatiable for a while, you know we focus on the root causes of why you fall off track with your eating or any healthy habits. There’s several root causes of why we “cave,” or can’t resist, focusing on this “short-term versus long-term” that are unrelated to willpower.
I think Justine’s example of the timing of her meals is a perfect example. One that I wanted to share with you guys was X-raying what used to happen to me in my corporate office. I used to work at a commercial real estate company before I left the corporate world. These are high-ticket items the people are buying office buildings and stuff. Clients would send these gourmet cookies, or chocolate-covered pretzels, covered in M&Ms to the office. I love peanut M&Ms. I mean, I still like them. I just don’t even [inaudible 0:19:47.8].
They’d put them in the break room. I’d see them in the morning. All morning I’d be like, “I’m not having those. I’m being good today.” I’d be able to resist. By the afternoon, I was eating them when no one was in the kitchen, right? Once everyone was gone. I would go and pretend I’m getting water, if someone was in there, I would leave with my water. When someone wasn’t, I was eating them.
I really thought I had a willpower problem, because I had been battling food at that point for 12 years. Let’s see. I first went to Weight Watchers 11. Yeah, so it had been actually probably more like 15 years, because I was struggling before that. I assumed it was a well a willpower problem. This is where it gets nuanced, because research and I agree with this, shows us that resisting food actually does deplete our willpower, which is so cruel, right?
However, what I didn’t know at the time where there were two root causes of why I was eating those things, the first one was I wasn’t eating the right foods for me. I need animal protein at lunch and I was also skipping carbs trying to be low-carb. Craving carbs was a natural attempt to rebalance my physical needs, because my blood sugar was so out of whack. My body, which is me too, right? We aren’t separate from our bodies, was trying to focus on the short and long-term survival of itself, because without the right energy supply, you can’t keep the lights on, right?
In my case, I was always crashing in the afternoon. I couldn’t focus at my job. At the time though, I thought it was getting by okay, which is I think the most challenging part of this. I could have felt so much better. There was a physiological imbalance and the willpower belief made me so uncurious to learn about my own body. It reinforced the belief that I didn’t have enough willpower, making it harder to be curious and believe it was anything other than me being broken.
Now you might be thinking, if you are a skeptic and sometimes cynical like me, when people are trying to change your mind, well then why don’t you just need an apple, right? Because they also send a fruit basket, right?
[0:21:49.6] JDM: Yeah. I mean, of course, don’t you want the – fruit is just so different. Yes. I mean, maybe it was an edible arrangement, so maybe there’s some chocolate with your fruit. We get those.
[0:22:00.5] AS: If I were listening to this, of me 15 years ago, I’d say well, if you had more willpower, you would have chosen an apple. There is usually an emotional component to why we need short-term gratification. Again, Justine and I said this in the beginning, there’s usually a couple root causes and we have to look at both the physical and emotional. For me, I was so deprived of meaning at my work, that my energy was low.
I wasn’t stimulated, or feeling happy a lot. I mean, I was on antidepressants seeing a therapist. I was like, “What am I doing with my life?” That’s where the sweets came in. They were the solution to being unfulfilled in my career, not a willpower problem. In fact, I look now at those cravings as invitations to a richer, deeper life and getting me on track with what was important for me. I didn’t know any of this, because I ended up in the corporate world because of how disciplined I was about chasing good grades and gold star, that didn’t give me short or long-term gratification.
It definitely gave me financial security and health insurance and that’s a lot. Something inside me knew that I could have more. As I started to – I went back to nutrition school while working, not right away, but I started to think what would give my days more meaning? I didn’t just quit my job right away. I don’t think most people can do that, unless you have a trust fund, or you’re a really big risk taker, which I’m not. Really starting to – start to think about what really brings me joy in the short-term, not just an, “Oh, I’m doing this, because I need a paycheck and it’s going to pay off in retirement in 40 years.” I don’t even know if people can retire at 70 anymore.
Again, focusing on the short-term and what brought me joy, I started to get so interested in what I was learning at nutrition school. It filled me up in a way that my job couldn’t. As I got more into that, the sweets didn’t serve a purpose anymore, because I was finding that happiness and that stimulation elsewhere. Is this clear, Justine?
[0:23:59.9] JDM: A 100%. I think, I so also relate to your story about being the overachiever. Same thing. I was really trying to get perfect grades in high school and in college and do all the right things, to get the right job and literally taking that break before getting a job was literally heartbreaking to me. I ended up turning down a job offer right after graduation. I a 100% get that.
I actually, while you were giving your examples, I had a couple of things that came up for me. The first part you made about eating the foods that are right for you, so again, Weight Watchers along as well. One of my personal big food stumbling blocks is making sure I’m getting enough fat, because like anyone knows a point system, knows that fats, even healthy fats, like olive oil, avocados, whatever are really high in points. I mean, I remember legitimately measuring out a teaspoon of olive oil a day for salad. Yeah. You had to check off that you got your two little oil servings.
[0:25:07.9] AS: Yeah, I remember that. The little circles.
[0:25:11.8] JDM: Yes. I literally, when I got to the end of my Weight Watchers time, I knew I wasn’t getting enough fat. I knew that my body needed it, but it’s one of those things that has become so ingrained, I have to consistently remind myself, like put that on the menu for the day and also on even just on my shopping list, to grab some nuts, or some nut butter, or any of avocados, oils. I have to remember that I actually do need those things. When I’m craving something, it could be that symptom like you said of maybe I’m not actually getting the right proportion of what I need and that really doesn’t have anything to do with willpower. It’s just your body’s way of communicating with you, but we are so reliant on when we’re dieting, these external food rules, we don’t understand that that craving is for something that our body actually needs.
[0:26:06.8] AS: Yeah, yeah, especially because I mean, all of us who grew up I mean, in the last 20 years have just heard how bad fat is, right? We believe that. I think we have to have compassion for ourselves that we’re in this really unhealthy surround-sound, not only a diet culture, but of “health experts” too. Finding a way out is taking – I’ve never seen that show, The Matrix, or the movie The Matrix, but you have to want to take the red pill, right? What pill gets you –
[0:26:33.9] JDM: I saw it once. I don’t remember which pill. Whatever pill you’re supposed to take.
[0:26:38.0] AS: Yeah, if you want to be free.
[0:26:40.5] JDM: Yeah. Then when you were talking about well yeah, why didn’t I choose an apple. I actually had two thoughts there. The conversation we’ve been having this month about soul hunger. The exercise where you asked us to think about that meal that was the best thing and why it was the best meal and which pretty much had nothing to do with the food that you were eating, and more what was going on around the meal.
I think that really became crystal clear to me last week. I told you before this that I was managing a course show for five days. I have a staff of almost 20 people. There were probably a 150 exhibitors. What I had noticed was that if we were sitting down to dinner, I could just for whatever reason, not me connecting with anyone. I would feel myself butting up against that boldness skew, but then I would keep going, because I was just not connecting with people.
Then if I was engaging with some of them in a meaningful conversation, maybe well, what had happened that day, or even just what was going on with their lives, getting to know them, it was so much easier to listen to my body when it told me to stop. I understand that sounds a 100% counterintuitive that it was easier to pay attention when I wasn’t paying attention. In that moment, that connection with people were filling my needs and it wasn’t the food, whereas when I wasn’t connecting, I was using food to feel that connection need. We know that no amount of food is ever going to fill those emotional needs.
[0:28:18.7] AS: Yeah. That is such an amazing example, because I often call it phantom hunger, right? When we’re like, “Why am I doing this, even though I’m full?” Again, if we think it’s a willpower issue, we don’t know to look. I think that’s the biggest challenge even with emotional eating and intuitive eating approaches, traditional ones is they’re like well – they’re still focused on the food, versus it’s these invisible patterns, right?
[0:28:44.5] JDM: Absolutely.
[0:28:45.9] AS: That are affecting us and we don’t know what we don’t know, so we don’t know what to look for, because we’re in this cultural surround-sound that it’s a willpower issue. I think that’s a great segue of going deeper again of this idea that on a deeper level, when we’re eating because we feel lonely in a social situation. I mean, I eventually could say that I was basically numbing out, because my whole life was unaligned with what I wanted. We aren’t really getting short-term gratification from eating, right?
It tastes good for sure. I don’t want to deny that. When I used to be binging, or reading, it was like, but I hate myself for doing this and how am I going to make up for this and when am I going to stop? Am I just going to keep going? I’m out of control. This idea that we’re getting all this short-term gratification from overeating to me is just a big fallacy. It’s like, no. Even the taste, it tastes good for a couple bites. Then after that, you’re just like, “I’m making myself sick.” It’s that extra, right? That the short-term gratification. It’s not even short-term gratification, it’s protecting ourselves. That’s not a comfortable way to live to feel we always have to be on guard.
I’m so glad you brought that up, because again, it’s not about delaying short-term gratification, it’s connecting with that group and saying, “Oh, wow. This is what I need and want and this is so fun.” Or at least feel more connected and I’m learning how to not avoid in a group or when I want a connection or whatever. That’s a point.
Again, if you haven’t taken the comfort eating quiz style, I’ll include the link in my show notes. Part of this willpower issue is that we avoid speaking up, because we don’t want to rock the boat, or we accommodate other people so that they aren’t disappointed and we people please them, or we compete and all day we’re just driving so hard ignoring our body’s needs. It’s actually so much willpower and discipline of how we think we need to be, that is the problem that’s not giving a short-term gratification, or long-term gratification, because then we don’t learn how to connect, we don’t learn what we really need. Our life can’t be as full as it’s possible. Thank you so much for sharing that example. It was a great teaching point.
[0:31:00.6] JDM: Perfect. I think too, what you’re saying is the willpower feels we need to sacrifice our short-term goals to achieve those long ones. I feel it’s more accurate that our short-term goals and long-term goals should go hand in hand. That definition implies that they’re at odds and I don’t think that they need to be. When you skip the dessert, which is the short-term pleasure in favor of a long-term hospital health, weight loss, whatever you think it’s going to be.
When you take that willpower out of the equation, it’s what’s going to feel good right now? Because I think you’ve said, it’s really got to feel the short-term has to go into the long-term. One dessert is not going to derail every long-term goal I’ve ever had.
[0:31:53.6] AS: Great point.
[0:31:55.7] JDM: Right? I think when I say feel good now, I don’t just mean does it feel good in my body right now, but it does it feel good in my overall life? If sharing the dessert with my husband while connecting might actually be in the surface of the long-term goal of having a happy and healthy marriage. It’s not just about health and weight loss either.
[0:32:17.2] AS: Exactly, exactly. It’s everything, because we need – this is actually the episode 2 is about sneak peek, a belonging. Belonging is we get into it’s a skill set, not necessarily a place. Belonging is an important health metric, and feeling really connected. That stuff is just as important as what you eat. I think that’s a really, really great point. It reminds me, I got this e-mail from a client and she has done – we’ve done a lot of work together. I haven’t talked to her in a while. She’s just like, “Hey, I just wanted to e-mail you.” She was, “I don’t know if this makes any sense,” but she’s like, “I started working with a trainer.” She’s like, “He had me just loosely track my macros.”
It’s funny. She’s like, “He told me to cut back on my fat, but I knew I needed more fat.” She’s like, “After the work we had done together,” she’s like, “It wasn’t a diet.” She’s like, “It was in the back of my mind, not in the front of my mind. It was super loosey-goosey, in terms of it wasn’t Weight Watchers counting, right?” It was just, let’s high ball this and get some awareness. She’s like, “I’ve lost 35 pounds,” I think. She said, I think in the past six, or seven months. I’m not doing the math great right now.
She goes, “The crazy thing is,” she’s like, “Sure, I’m happy,” she goes, “But in the past,” she goes, “I would have been thrilled.” She was, “I don’t even care.” Not that she didn’t care, but it wasn’t the same “Woohoo.” She’s like, “Is this making any sense?” I wrote her back. I’m like, “The key you said in this e-mail is you realized that your weight loss wasn’t going to change your life.” All the work that we had done as well as she had been working on a counselor, it’s once you get that you can have short –
My point in sharing this is her process was enjoyable. Then she had more likely a chance of sticking with it. It led to weight loss, but also that actually wasn’t her goal. It was just to be like, “Oh, let me see how this goes.” It’s feeling really good. She really fell in love with weight training actually, which was something that she discovered about herself. I’m like, that’s what I’m talking about. I can honor that people want to lose weight and whatnot. If your body’s meant to do that, it will, but you still have to enjoy the process and you can’t put off – I thought her point about, I really understood my life wasn’t going to change. She really started advocating for her needs and creating that life that she wanted 35 pounds before.
[0:34:41.1] JDM: Yeah. What I love about that example too is when her trainer, so who supposedly is the expert is cut down on fat. She knew that her body needed that. I think that’s so important too. You have to be able to connect with what your body needs and feels good in it. I think that’s to me, that was a great part of the story as well.
[0:35:06.1] AS: Yeah, yeah. Thanks for pointing that out. I think I take it for granted, because once my clients won’t work with me, they know how to use – make the tools adapt for them and they just feel so much more confident in their own authority. Thanks for pointing that out.
One of the things that someone in the Insatiable membership community asked was like, “Hey, can you give us some ways to measure consistency, if we’re not doing it the traditional way?” I think the big thing is when it comes to short-term versus long-term gratification, if you feel good today, you have the best chance of feeling better tomorrow. I mean, I remember learning about nutrition and as a cancer survivor, a lot of people recommend going vegan and vegetarian. This is an example of I cannot drive on that diet. I was eating all the sugar, all of these fake meats. I was like, “Look, if I’m doing this – if I feel really great today, I think that’s the best chance I have of feeling really great in 20 years.”
Also with exercise, again I think with my client’s example, a lot of times people – I got a question the other day in a webinar I was doing about, I know running makes me feel so great, but when I’m really stressed out at work, I just can’t get myself out of bed in the morning. I was like, well, this is a perfect example of maybe people would tell you that you’re falling off track, or that you need the run to release stress, but your body’s saying, “Wait a second. It’s time to harmonize. You’re under so much stress. You’re not getting enough sleep. Running probably isn’t the best exercise at that time. It’s more about restoration.”
That’s another example of measuring like, does this exercise actually make me feel better afterwards? Is it supporting me with what I’m doing now? That’s another way of measuring short-term and long-term gratification. In terms of if you’re eating the right foods for your body, again, all signs that your days are going to be easier. Cravings going down, energy going up, your mood is more stable, sleep gets better. It’s easier to pass up previous tempting foods.
From an emotional perspective, you start to look more forward to your days. Doesn’t mean every day is perfect, but more get to, want to, I say life on your terms. More I’m choosing, versus the Musterbation that Dr. Albert Ellis talks about.
[0:37:15.8] JDM: I feel like you need to define that term, because I’m laughing.
[0:37:19.6] AS: Yeah. He was a cognitive behavioral therapist at Penn. I think he still is in Philly, if he’s still alive. His concept Musterbation was when we say to ourselves, “I must. I have to. I should. I’ve got to,” versus when it’s what you said at the top of the podcast is when I’m in choice. Actually I’m choosing this, right? I’m choosing to connect here, rather than ignore that – rather than thinking I need more food here.
Or needing to share a piece of cake with my husband, because we’re out in a really fun restaurant and they’re known for these desserts, or maybe they’re not. It’s just that’s what you want. So much of this, of feeling back in control about food as being in choice in our life and in all the ways. Again, that’s the big piece.
Okay, so now onto willpower, component number two, which is a nice dovetail if we’re talking about Musterbation into the capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse. I think one of the classic willpower motivations myth, which Laura from the community offered is put your mind to it and you’ll get results. Push out negative thinking. Oh, so much inner critic work and always directed at women, because no one realizes it’s not about criticalness, it’s protectiveness, but we’ll get to this.
Related to food, this is the classic I shouldn’t eat this, but I want to eat this. I’m not going to, but I deserve it, right? That’s like, okay. Then you get tips like, don’t bring trigger foods in the house. Ask yourself if it’s worth it in the moment, or if you’re learning to get out of the diet mentality, it’s ignoring the food police, or urge to go on another diet. Can you think of any Justine that maybe I missed that something –
[0:39:01.6] JDM: I literally Pinterested this a little bit. What you eat in private is what you wear in public. Yeah.
[0:39:09.8] AS: What the fuck?
[0:39:11.0] JDM: I saw that on one of those little memes, like when I was Pinteresting motivation quotes. Yeah, it’s really bad.
[0:39:18.1] AS: Wow. Yeah, so again surround sound, right? It’s everywhere. Our culture, we talk about this a lot, mostly stays on the surface, takes everything at face value, the shallow end of life, which sometimes is fun, but not when you’re struggling. What are the food police, or body image really about? What are we putting our mind to and why are we trying to override our feelings?
I think the good example is Justine and your event with the horse, the horse show. You had a need to connect. Why would you want to ride that? When the food police are on the scene, or we are out with others and want to make the “bad choice,” it’s important to realize these thoughts, feelings and impulses are actually protective. Justine was mentioning that in May, or June. Wait, what’s today? May. Yeah, May.
[0:40:09.9] JDM: Yeah, still May.
[0:40:10.7] AS: Yeah, hunger was our spring theme. We were focused on – we did physical hunger, emotional hunger and soul hunger was the last one that we explored. I asked people like, “What do you remember about the best meal you ever had, where you really enjoyed it and you ate portion control, or was super simple?” Every single person was like, “Wow, it wasn’t about the food.” It was for some people, was the ambiance, it was the exotic location, other people was the company or a combination. Everyone started to notice that when they started to feel self-conscious about food was when they didn’t know people as well, right? Do you remember that conversation?
[0:40:51.7] JDM: Yes, I do. It could be people you know. I want to say like, when I think about this, I feel I also get into people I know that have different thoughts than I do about food. I don’t know if that make – so for example, my father is a little bit old school when it comes to nutrition to yeah, fat is terrible and all these things. When we’re at the show, there was an ice cream social. I had taken my ice cream and saved it in the freezer, just because I was telling myself that I didn’t want the ice cream. Thinking about it now, it really had nothing to do with that I didn’t want it and more that I was going to – it’s popper to eat it after dinner and I hadn’t eaten dinner.
When I did take it out later that day, my dad made a face at me. Honestly, he’s always been a little bit judgmental when it comes to my food choices. In that moment, I spiraled a 100%. I felt judged and guilty. I want to say too that it can be people you know, but it’s also what you either know that they think about food, or makeup that they think about food.
[0:42:06.9] AS: Yeah, yeah. No, I’m so glad you put that. Yeah, because that’s – I think that’s actually when we often feel the most lonely and isolated is when it’s people we should be really close with and be able to say, “Can we talk about – use judgmental thoughts, or mental statements and having that emotional intimacy that can be scary?” That’s such a great point. I’m so glad that you brought that up, for sure. Yeah, great point.
Then you bring up the point that it’s really important to understand that this resistance and this thinking about food and spiraling, it’s protective resistance, it’s not stuff that you just override, or ignore. You have to pull it apart, because that’s where the freedom and choice are. The real willpower emphasis and discipline needs to be on self-awareness of how can we respond to this, rather than just react, in these triggering situations like what Justine just described.
Yes, you’re going to need willpower to get out of your comfort zone and override the thought that people are judging you, or override the want to avoid even having this conversation. That’s where the willpower needs to focus on. This is so important, because I’m not saying that all willpower requires no willpower, but I just want you to put it in the right direction. I think about this is random, but we talk a lot about growth mindset in why I’m eating this now, truce with food and on this podcast. A lot of people are familiar with Dr. Dweck’s work.
For people who aren’t, growth mindset is this concept of that you praise kids for their effort, rather than their results, because if you only praise them for saying, “Hey, you’re smart,” and then kids think they’re either smart or not. They get locked into what’s called a fixed mindset. Versus if you say, “Hey, you tried really hard and keep going,” kids start to realize that they can learn success, they can learn smartness, they can learn whatever results that they want. It’s an amazing theory, right? It flips a lot of what we’ve heard.
However, as ideas go mainstream and popular, people take up – they take on a life of their own and Dr. Dweck had to write an article following up saying – she also learned a lot as people used her work, was saying I love that all of this has come on, but I think we’ve confused that you don’t want to praise kids just to praise them.
If they’re still not learning math, or they’re still not learning reading, that’s not what growth mindset is about. It’s about trusting them that they can do the work and giving them different approaches, so that they can learn. I feel in the health and wellness space, we’re often saying, well, just be compassionate with yourself, or be kind. That is so important. To me, being kind is saying, I trust that you can look at this. I trust that you can make changes. I know I have compassion that this is challenging and you can still do it. To me that is kindness and respect and it’s the right effort, where we should be redirecting our efforts. Otherwise, we’re just working really hard on the wrong problem.
I just want to say that you do need some willpower, but it’s around this self-awareness of what are your emotional triggers with your stress response, what are your behaviors. That again is where I think the willpower needs to be directed. I get questions all the time, “Well, what about if I’m traveling, or what about I’m in social situations, or family,” right?
The reality is we are the common denominator in all of those situations. It’s not the external environment, it’s the internal experience that it brings up in us. Hey, is it fair that we have to be the ones to do all this? Not always. Often, we make things a lot harder and a lot more unsafe for us. We’ve talked about this in several episodes, it’s out of the scope of this episode, but I just want people to realize that it’s really important to understand that overriding your thoughts and feelings around food is not getting to the root of the problem. You’re not understanding what’s really happening. I feel I’ve gone on. Justine save me.
[0:46:03.3] JDM: No. No, no. I really like that. What I feel is – I think we might talk about it in a little bit more detail later. That safety piece I feel is so, so important, because when you think about why we say stock and dieting for so long, it’s because that you feel safe, because the diet gives you a set of rules, if that makes sense.
Then we also assume that safety means that we’re comfortable, but that’s actually not true at all. Safety can be as comfortable as whatever. It’s just what’s familiar. I think that’s what’s been so interesting is again, we think it’s willpower, but you’ve mentioned this a couple times, a lot of our behaviors are really more protective in that way than anything else. Once we realize that that again, gives us the power to be at choice.
[0:47:02.7] AS: Yes, yes. If you guys want to understand more about food police and we call mental food gymnastics and again, all of these will be in the show notes every episode I mention, but Season 4 episode 2, which we actually just reran in our food rebel, or self-protection and the pros and cons of intuitive eating season 7, episode 7.
Some of the key metrics that you can start to measure around not overriding your thoughts and feel things around food is can I recognize the food police, mental gymnastics and in any self-doubt gymnastics, or as Justine said, spiraling as protective resistance. Can I start to recognize what I feel this is protecting me from? Am I clear on the root cause of why my mind darts to food? For example, when I want to eat to procrastinate, what is it that I’m avoiding, or why am I going through the drive-thru? What’s causing me to feel unsettled?
Then once you can clearly recognize your triggers and patterns and behaviors, which takes some time, although again, if you want to speed that process up, why am I eating this now is exactly why I created that. You want to start to say, “Am I recognizing these patterns faster when I’m in situations where food stresses me out?” Justine, you had shared an example in the community about a recent time. I would love to just X-ray that for people so we can really bring things to life.
[0:48:22.9] JDM: We’re talking about the in-laws example, right?
[0:48:24.8] AS: Yeah.
[0:48:27.3] JDM: Woohoo. One of the things that came up for me and it’s funny, it’s repeating itself in me a little bit. We in March were going through a lot of period of change. We’re getting our floors redone and we had to move in with the in-laws for several days. It wasn’t quite a week, but it might have felt like a week. What I had noticed in myself was that I wasn’t eating with presents, which was my number one goal right now, because I feel eating with presents allows me to get curious and notice what – it’s that stepping back to be able to notice what foods feel good and what don’t. Two, I had been trying to incorporate some more gentle movement, because for me, exercise is either hit training, or nothing.
[0:49:23.9] AS: It’s all or nothing. I hear it. I hear you.
[0:49:27.1] JDM: Yes. I was trying to do some more gentle movement practice. When we moved in that short period of time and dealing with all that chaos, I realized that both of those things totally went out the window.
[0:49:43.3] AS: Yeah. When moving in with your in-laws, what emotion did that bring up for you?
[0:49:48.6] JDM: Yeah. I think there were a couple things going on. I think change, first of all, change of anything is scary. When we were talking about safety, that feeling of being uncertain and in a way, out of control. Being in someone’s else’s house makes you feel a little bit powerless. I think this goes to my accommodator pattern, like I had to do what they wanted, eat when they wanted to eat, watch what they wanted to watch, go to bed when they wanted to go to bed and feeling that sense of unsettled and powerless was definitely there.
[0:50:30.0] AS: I love that. You just mapped it for me. I didn’t know. Uncertainty was the trigger, which many people use the word anxious. Again, what they’re feeling is uncertain, the stress response because it’s your in-laws, right? Our stress response will be different often based on who or with, or the different trigger. I have to accommodate, right? That’s the assumption, right? That’s the protective response, right? Because I mean, we get praise when we people please and we’re easy to be with and don’t, right?
Let’s be real, these things aren’t all bad, these stress responses. They’ve gotten us a lot of great things in life. Then the behaviors become just going with the flow, right? Adapting and that’s what makes us feel out of control. There’s all this stuff going on below. What happens when we’re in the accommodator response, part of why we feel powerless and out of control is we have this frame of it’s either I get my needs met, or my in-laws get their needs met, right? We may not think of it that way. It’s like, I don’t, but how the chatter is is I don’t want to put them out. They’re being nice enough to let us stay here, right?
[0:51:39.2] JDM: Oh, a 100%. Even just if I think back to that when we were talking about how I have to eat, sometimes eat lunch a little bit earlier. My husband and I tend to eat dinner 5:30, 6:00, we’re like grandparents in that way, but his parents don’t eat until 7:00, 7:30. I was literally starving by the time we ate dinner, just because right, I accommodating their eating schedule and what they wanted to eat, as opposed to thinking about what I needed.
[0:52:10.0] AS: Yeah. The new behavior then as we start to think of like, “Well, how do I want this weekend to end,” right? Once we understand what’s happening, then we can start to say, “Ah, how do I want this to end? What’s really important to me here?” I mean, if you had to go back and do it, because hindsight, this is how we learn. Everything we say, why am I eating this now and truce with food research, great research. We learn more from when things aren’t working than when they are. What would you think is an ideal?
[0:52:41.4] JDM: I think I would have prepared myself more with food and snacks too, just even just from a standpoint of keeping my blood sugar and in general, keeping my level of hunger at a minimum. I think that definitely would have happened, just because I know that they eat at different times, because his mother worked as much different hours than I do. That definitely would have happened.
I think I would have – It’s funny. I’ll say this, even though I ended up coming home every day, because I was – I don’t want to say supervising, but supervising the work that was going on at our house. I think I would have set more time for just me and made sure that I had that time and wasn’t focused on like, “Well, we’re here so we have to spend time with them.” It didn’t help that we had to move the cat, so I was trying to be with them. Maybe instead of using that time with the cats, or pet them, I could actually use that to be in my own space and could reconnect with myself.
[0:53:46.0] AS: Yeah. I loved that, because part of this process is learning what we actually need, right? Because we often, not only do we not know how to feed our bodies, we don’t know how to feed ourselves emotionally. We’re often unaware until we’re like, “Oh, that’s what I would have needed.” I think the other thing that it would be interesting to experiment with is having the conversation with this parents of recognizing that if it’s important to enjoy yourself and enjoy their time with them, does that have to mean eating at the same time and is that important to t hem? Is that important to you, right?
A lot of times, we just don’t have the conversations and we just assume things, rather and that’s what our story makes us do is like, “Oh, no. They want us to eat together, blah, blah, blah,” versus saying like, “Hey, we normally eat earlier, but we’d love to sit with you and chat, right?” Or thinking of other alternatives, rather than all or nothing like, “I either eat with them and the good –” Oh, my God. Why am I saying daughter-in-law? I was going to say in-laws. Oh, my God. I’m thinking –
[0:54:49.6] JDM: It’s fine. I feel away from all.
[0:54:52.5] AS: Or I’m the bitch who have – or I’m the high-maintenance person who has to eat at 5:30. Does that feel something that would be comfortable, or something that you could try for next time?
[0:55:02.6] JDM: Absolutely. I feel one of the things I just noticed and I don’t know if you have thoughts on this, because I feel some people might pick it up, or might feel the same way. It’s interesting, because when I thought I was eating, I liked that connection and sitting with people. Then I also know that I need time to myself to get back into my body. I see there that there’s two conflicting needs and balancing those. That would be something I need to explore going forward, but I don’t know if you had thoughts on that, because I realized that at one point, I say I like the connection, then other times when I feel they need to connect more with me.
[0:55:39.7] AS: That is actually a very dynamo, nuanced point. What happens is and I don’t – a lot of terms right now are people saying they’re HSP, or they’re empaths, or whatnot. For sure, some of us are more sensitive than that. I don’t want here to people say HSP. I’m not saying HSPs aren’t a thing. I’m not saying empaths aren’t a thing.
However, when we have these stories that are unresolved trauma from our past and again, trauma doesn’t have to mean you were in a war or a refugee, right? Trauma is it could be neglect, it could be being bullied for your weight, it’s any time that we really feel our needs weren’t met. What happens is we continue these patterns forever. On top of all of that as women, we are socialized to want to be wanted. To want to be wanting, means you always have to be a tuning to what the other person wants, right?
As we heal and get healthier, we don’t take on other people’s energy as much, because those holes have been patched over with our own strength. I don’t know if that metaphor is too esoteric.
[0:56:46.4] JDM: No, I get it.
[0:56:48.4] AS: Okay. Because I’m a super sensitive person. I used to be a sensitive person in a very reactive way and a very much taking on other people’s stuff. I see this with my clients as they get healthier and more whole, it’s almost you’re not as porous, because you’re creating that inner sense of safety for yourself when you realize that other people’s approval, or what they’re doing is separate from you. It’s a healthy boundary, right? Our body is a boundary, but many of us can’t sense it, because we’ve left our bodies, because they were unsafe, or the emotions are now too much, because we haven’t addressed them.
I think that’s an excellent question and point and something that I really want, as you start to advocate for yourself more, notice how it gets easier and you need less time to settle into yourself, because you’ve been in yourself the whole time.
[0:57:43.6] JDM: Yeah, I love that point. It apologizes just around slightly from willpower.
[0:57:48.7] AS: No. It has everything to do it with.
[0:57:51.0] JDM: It’s so funny, because as you say that, I’ve noticed the more time I spend with myself, the more – I’ve always considered myself a sensitive person, but I do definitely more so now that I’m reconnecting to my body, notice that I take on even more. This is going to sound the most ridiculous thing ever and I apologize, but I was in the car a couple of weeks ago and I was listening to some music. I don’t know if this song, it’s I believe it’s a country song. It’s about three wooden crosses on the side of the road and it’s the story of this crash and why these three people died.
Literally, I was sobbing. I realized that now that I’ve reconnected, you’re right, now I need to put more boundaries in place so that I stop taking that on from anyone including us all.
[0:58:43.3] AS: I want to say though, when you first get back into your body, it’s I always say what we resist persist and what we embrace dissolves. I always use this analogy in why am I eating this now and truce with food is when we first get back into our body, it’s turning on a hose after winter. All that rust comes out before the clear water comes out. Am I making a metaphor? Do people still water their lawns? Do people still use hoses, or is there a virtual app for that? I don’t know.
[0:59:13.2] JDM: [Inaudible 0:59:13.4] has a virtual app for that, but I know what you mean.
[0:59:16.9] AS: Okay. Okay.
[0:59:19.3] JDM: Yeah, I know that.
[0:59:20.7] AS: My frame of reference is the 80s and 90s. When we first get back into our bodies, it’s like, oh, my God. there’s all this stuff on the surface that we think we’ve been resisting and we think that we’ve been avoiding and dodging, but it’s all there, which is why we’re so sensitive about everything else and why we react to things in a way that often feel disproportionate, because we’re not reacting to just that uncertainty, or that inadequacy. We’re reacting to all of the uncertainty, inadequacy we never dealt with.
I didn’t realize this, but the PTSD from having had cancer I mean, that made me so afraid of uncertainty. Over time, because it was never addressed, I became doubtful about everything, because everything felt so uncertain and things that normally should be able to be a good decision, it’s like, well I can see from this angle. Not in a healthy way. Not in a discerning way. In a panicked like, “I don’t know what I should do. I don’t know what I should do,” right?
It got magnified of yeah, I came out of can I date if I’m not the weight I want, right? That’s uncertainty. Then it also became like, “Oh, my God. I don’t know what to eat for dinner,” right? Then you look to the experts, because you think they know. It was, “What should I do with my life? Why am I in a corporate career? My parents were teachers, how did I end up here?” You know what I mean?
I even remember in college, one of my close friends at the time, she’s like, “Ali, you can overanalyze anything to death.” I was like, “I don’t want to be.” Now I know what was happening, was because I hadn’t dealt with everything felt so uncertain, even the things that were very benign. I think this is a great point of overriding thoughts and feelings is they’re just going to come back stronger.
[1:01:06.0] JDM: Absolutely.
[1:01:07.2] AS: All right, so we are going to take a pause and hear from our sponsor and come back with going over the last two, which are actually pretty brief, because we’ve gone for quite some time, but it’s such a good conversation. We’ll be back.
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Lourdes shared, “I joined why am I eating this now, because I wanted to move forward in my own self-development. I was able to discover the deeper conflict or on my food battle, including how it protects me and how to move forward. I exceeded my own expectations from my progress, was challenged and I will continue to make these changes in my life. I have been binge-free for over a year post why am I eating this now. I truly thought I’d never break free from emotional eating, but I have. I am much bolder in my life. Yes. Win-win.”
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[1:03:35.9] AS: Okay, so onto willpower definition number three; the conscious effort for regulation of the self by the self. Again, I don’t really have much to add to this one. Justine and I just went into in depth. What I mean by regulating ourselves, is that we have to have the self-awareness and it’s not always easy, but it’s always worthwhile and it starts to get fun, because you get more freedom and more choice. Some of the corresponding memes and myths that go along with this is the more you put in, the more you get out, right? No pain, no gain.
When you feel like giving up, keep going. Again, if you start to understand what the right effort is, less is more. I was going over the why am I eating this now exit results of the program as I start to just incorporate feedback of how to improve it, and one of the people, one of the participants was like, “I cannot believe the results I got from such the small effort that I put in.”
Now if you’ve taken why I’m eating this now, you may not say you’re like, “It was hard. It was a challenging course. It is.” For some people, this stuff is so at the surface and it’s so ready to change, that making these pivots, it reduces the amount of tips and tricks and breathing and all the stuff that you need to do, because you’re doing the right action. I feel like, I just want to say this is that I feel in the wellness community and I had mentioned this a little bit before, we talk about self-regulation or self-awareness.
It’s again, be kind to yourself after a binge. Yes, do that. Binging is awful. I was in that hell for a decade. You have to have compassion for yourself and you also have to have compassion and kindness and respect to say, “I can look at this. I can get to the root cause. It’s hard to do this work and it’s much harder to stay here and continue to have my belief in myself be eaten away metaphorically and literally.”
I just want us to realize that most wellness experts are not versed in the change process. They’re really good at if we think of a gas and a break on our goals, they’re great at the gas piece, right? No pain, no gain. The more you put in, the more you get out, like that militant sergeant, right? Protective resistance, all of most of the wrong beliefs we have about our body are the brake. It’s like, okay, I want to go far, but it doesn’t feel safe to put this – take this foot off the brake.
When you take the foot off the brake, you’re removing resistance. You get clear on what you actually need to do. You do not need to do all the things. You can be a better curator. I just wanted to plug that of things. Also that many clients confuse self-monitoring with self-awareness. When I was talking to Justine about especially as women, although when we’re in – yeah, sticks with that band. We are conditioned to know what looks good and know what’s going to look good, or what will look bad. We’re not always off.
This I guess is all about being real. Women are judged more for everything, right? Part of this analyzing and doubt comes from really discernment. I’m like, “Are we safe?” Because we have to be contextual all the time. I do mean physically safe, but I also mean emotionally safe, right? Because that’s is just as much of a risk.
Most self-monitoring, like I should do this, or I have to do this. That’s not self-awareness. I’m talking about what Justine talked about with wow, this made me feel uncertain going to my in-laws. Then I started to accommodate and these are my behaviors when I accommodate. This is some of the new things that I want to try, because everyone can get their needs met in this situation. It doesn’t have to be either/or. That’s really what I want us to remember about.
Then again over time, growth mindset works, we get the results we want and it starts to get really fun, because you start to feel so much more whole, you start to trust yourself so much more, you start to understand what you need and what you need gets simpler as we get healthier, believe it or not. I just want to – I want to put that plug.
Okay, and so then I think – I’m trying to look for my fourth definition. Oh, so the key metrics there, are you getting more clear on what is your trigger and patterns, right? Or pattern, or stress responses, the compete, avoid or accommodate, and the behaviors that go along with that. Is food and exercise getting more simple and intuitive, rather than more complicated and in a drag? Are you wanting to make the healthy choice more often? Is there less guilt and shame around falling off track in binges? Because you understand it has nothing to do with willpower, or it being about you, because if it’s about us, then it’s something we can’t change, and then we’re not in choice. Those are the things you want to start to look for for that one. Justine, do you have anything to add to that before I get to our last one?
[1:08:27.6] JDM: No. I feel like we’ve talked about that one. I don’t have anything else.
[1:08:33.3] AS: One thing I would you to share is how does it feel to know that there’s a trigger, a pattern and behaviors that as you become aware of, you can choose and it’s more about that than food?
[1:08:44.1] JDM: Oh, my God. It’s so freeing, to be perfectly honest. It’s one of those weird things. In my process of giving up all this dieting stuff, I think what I can say is the more I dive into it and the more I realize I am at choice, it is literally mind bogglingly freeing. I realize that I can actually choose in a moment and then I don’t have to react, is beyond – it’s just one of those things I didn’t know that could be an option. I feel being able to have that pause and choice, really feels more empowering than anything else.
[1:09:26.8] AS: Thank you for describing that. I have a private client that we’re working with and she’s like, “I feel our work boils down to how am I not going to react and what are my choices to respond.” I’m like, “Yes.” It sounds so simple. It’s pretty complex, because you have to more fine-tune your nervous system, because so much of this is about our nervous system and not a mental game. It is mind-boggling freeing. I think you hit on the challenging part is we don’t know that that’s possible. Because we’re in this willpower, surround-sound. Thank you for sharing that. It’s going to give a lot of people hope.
[1:10:05.5] JDM: Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
[1:10:06.1] AS: No, go ahead.
[1:10:08.0] JDM: I’m just going to say on a personal note for me, what I realize I had to do to get to that space was to how in diet being and everything we demonize certain foods. The more that I demonized chocolate or whatever it was, the more emotional power that food held over me. In order to get to that space of choice, I had to eliminate that emotional attachment to that food by eating it and learning to trust myself with that food. That’s what’s gotten – been able to put me in a place where I get to choose if I want the chocolate or I don’t.
[1:10:51.0] AS: Yeah. That’s why, I mean, the body, my work is called truce with food, because truce means you’re neutral, right? We talked about this in the Q&A call yesterday. A lot of times people will be in the wellness world, or these spiritual influencers will be like, “Well, I’m sugar-free forever.” That’s just as extreme as binging and you’re still in the all-or-nothing pattern. It’s pretty radical and healthy to be like, “I’m going to have a square and then I’m walking away.”
[1:11:20.6] JDM: Right. Just not have that emotional attachment to it. That’s where you get that choice piece. I feel people are so afraid of all the bad foods, but you don’t realize that fear is what’s keeping you stuck and out of the choice.
[1:11:37.9] AS: 100%. It’s the fear and shame of a thousand pieces, right? That affect our health and weight and mood. It’s the one piece. To your point that you said earlier. Great. Okay. I know we’ve gone a little long, but I think this is so rich for people. They’re just going to eat it up. I can’t [inaudible 1:11:56.5]. Oh, my God.
[1:11:58.5] JDM: You go to keep with the food pun.
[1:11:59.8] AS: I know. I know. All right, so last one, which we’ll wrap up pretty quickly here is willpower definition four is a limited resource capable of being depleted. It gets depleted by sleep, stress, when you shift your brain to a reward-seeking state from stress, self-criticism and temptations. I agree with this, right? At the heart, you need to eat to have willpower, but we all have a limited energy.
There’s not really much to add, except I would emphasize how important it is to give sleep. Our hunger cravings go up from a hormonal perspective when we’re not getting enough sleep. When it comes to stress, actually episode seven of this season, I’m going to do a whole episode on how stress can actually up level your life in a really good way. It’s another reason to really tackle stress, because the more stressed you are, the more you shift your brain to a reward-seeking state.
I will say from a food perspective, the more stress you get, the more you need – you need more sugar and salt to give you the same dopamine hit. That’s why again, you have to look at the physiology, as well as the emotional piece. We’re going to show you how to crack the stress code in episode seven.
Again and then when it comes to self-criticism, the more you understand it self-protection, the more you can have compassion and move through it, rather than just ignoring it and avoiding it and resisting it. This is just my little feminist plug, every book I’ve ever seen about an inner critic is directed at women. I have yet to see one about men. I know men are hard on themselves in other ways.
However, I want to point out that women, we don’t hate ourselves as much as we want to believe we do. We want to be safe. All that inner critic stuff is inner protection stuff. We are not uniquely hating ourselves, okay? We’re trying to protect ourselves. Once you really get that and really understand your own process and self-awareness, you just bring this compassion and this is why I’m doing this to keep myself safe. Safe is a basic need.
I just want to say, you do not hate yourself as much as you think you do. You are trying to keep yourself safe, because you’re smart and discerning. It’s just maybe a little bit too much tuned, too high-tune. My work with clients is always to get them from reactive and defensive to discerning. We don’t want to take away all the hard-earned wisdom. Yeah.
Lastly with temptations, food does not have to be a temptation in your life. I think Justine, using that chocolate example, give a perfect example. The more you can feel safe in a variety of environments and situations, the less you need food as an attempt at attachment and safety. The neat thing is when you really feel at peace around food, the times you genuinely want to eat something indulgent, you’ll actually enjoy it. That’s what they are, right?
[1:14:41.9] JDM: Right. Crazy.
[1:14:44.2] AS: Yeah. Part of that process is getting that if I eat a piece of cake, there’s no long-term consequences, right? We have to live through that. We have to see that hey, I do stop eventually, or I’m not gaining all this weight I thought I would, or I do eventually get sick of it, right?
[1:14:59.7] JDM: Yeah. I think it’s just being patient with the time. I’ve been probably working on this stuff for a year and a half. I’m only part of the way there, so I hope that people – that your listeners are willing to give themselves the time that this takes.
[1:15:15.0] AS: Yeah. I love that you say that too, because we often think – I have one client who’s like, “Well, this isn’t – your process is not the quick fix, Ali.” I was like, “No, but I would say it’s a quicker fix than the 20 years of dieting you tried.” Just like, “Oh, yeah. For sure. For sure.”
[1:15:29.4] JDM: Exactly.
[1:15:31.5] AS: I shouldn’t have set her voice like that, but I mean, my clients are brutally honest with me. I’m like, “No. I never claimed this is a quick fix.” It takes time and it takes a lot less time. I know a lot of my clients especially who are in their 50s or 60s like, “Oh, I wish I would have started this earlier.” I’m like, “Uh, we get to it when you get to it.” I don’t know. The point of all of this though is that you should feel great about your choice in the short and long-term with –
[1:15:55.4] AS: Absolutely.
[1:15:57.2] JDM: The key metrics with this belief are am I sleeping better with stress? You know you have more choices than just black and white thinking. Again, if you are really unfamiliar with this, or want to learn more, episode seven at the end of this season is what we’ll be talking about stress does not have to throw you off track. Life does not just have to happen to you. We have a lot more choice.
Self-criticism, the more you can feel at peace, relaxed and natural in situations that used to stress you out. I had a client who through doing our work together, even though – I mean, we’re focused on her story and her patterns and her triggers and all that stuff, but she was amazed at how she just traveled recently and she’s like, “I used to get so nervous with traveling, meeting the connecting flights. I would eat because I was nervous.” She was like, “I didn’t have that this time.” I’m like, “Because you trust yourself more and you know that you can be more resourceful and you have choices.”
Again, that’s self-criticism, which is a largely self-protection, you will start to feel calmer and be able to be more present, which is Justine’s goal, not just around food, but in life, which was cool because then she didn’t need wine to come down from her – It was awesome. Temptations, you’ll start to look forward to experiences beyond the food and you can easily walk past old tempting foods, and they don’t taste as good, because you can get satisfied from a little bit.
Then this is probably one of my equally favorite things in addition to the health and freedom people feel is you have all this energy and willpower to put into other areas of your life, because I’ve shared plenty of times how weight loss became a hobby. I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, which is why it took me a while to get out of corporate and switch, but there’s just so many payoffs for really reframing willpower and doing the work of self-awareness.
Justine, any closing questions or thoughts?
[1:17:48.0] JDM: No. I just wanted to say thank you so much for having me. This was a great conversation. I loved it.
[1:17:53.6] AS: Oh, my God. People are going to – they’re going to relate to and they’re going to learn so much from your examples, so thank you for being here. I just do want to tell you guys that the summer theme in the Insatiable membership community is consistency. If you want to explore your compete, avoider, or accommodate patterns more, join us for the summer. You can join us at alishapiro.com/isee2019. I’ll also include the link in the show notes, as well as to why I’m eating this now, which is coming up mid-August, and all the episodes and articles I mentioned in this episode, including Dr. Carol Dweck’s follow up on growth mindset, and also include a community favorite episode that’s the difference between food and exercise willpower. That looks at what we talked about drilling down from exercise and food perspective.
Yeah, so Justine, thank you so much for being here and thanks for everyone who’s hung on to the end to talk about willpower, right?
[1:18:51.9] JDM: Thanks for having me.
[END OF EPISODE]
[1:18:57.2] AS: Thank you, health rebels for tuning in today. Have a reaction, question, or want the transcript from today’s episode? Find me at alishapiro.com. I’d love if you leave a review on Apple Podcast and tell your friends and family about Insatiable. It helps us grow our community and share a new way of approaching health and our bodies.
Thanks for engaging in a different conversation. Remember always, your body truths are unique, profound, real and liberating.