This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 19.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, certified life and weight coach Natalie Brown.
Hello everybody. If you missed last week, first of all, what? Go subscribe and then listen so you never miss an episode. But I told you that we are continuing the review love each week as I share reviews written by you, my favorite people. If your review is chosen, I’m going to send you an awesome carefully curated gift of some of my favorite things.
So if you haven’t left a review, please do it and come back. It’s super easy. Takes two minutes and it can mean a super fun gift coming your way. So do it. Make sure after you review, you head to itbeginswithathought.com/review and submit the title of your review to me.
Okay, so today’s review comes from Kaitlyn and the title is, “Best podcast.” She says, “Natalie’s way of communicating through research and personal experience effortlessly comes through in her podcast. This is the best podcast I’ve heard about weight, body image, and eating habits. But on top of that, the things Natalie talks about are totally applicable to everything else in your life. Everyone should listen to this podcast, regardless of if they are wanting to lose weight or not. This is an amazing podcast. Listen to it, you will not regret it.”
Amen, sister. The tools and skills you learn here, you can apply everywhere to see changes to not just your body, but your whole life. So powerful. Thank you so much, Kaitlyn.
So if you didn’t already know, I’m a certified life and weight coach and I own a coaching practice where I help women who have tried everything finally lose weight for life. My clients re-write their weight stories. My philosophy is that when it comes to losing weight, we have to change what we eat. But if we want to change our weight story for good, we have to understand why we eat.
We have to pull back the curtain and not just change our habits and our actions, but our reasons and beliefs. We have to re-write our story. It’s simple but it’s not easy. But here’s the thing you’re hopefully recognizing as you listen to the podcast. Any real and lasting change will not feel easy, whether it’s weight loss or something else.
Re-writing our story means feeling some discomfort. It requires trading the discomfort of now for the discomfort of growth. The thing I find interesting is that most of us are mostly unaware of the story our brain tells us about our lives. So that’s where I want to start, and what I want to teach you over the next three episodes to help you first recognize your story and show you how you can re-write it so you can be the author of your life.
First, little story about me. I had a hard childhood. I am a child of divorce, which is always a painful process with some collateral damage. My parents divorced when I was only two years old, and I spent my entire life going back and forth between the two households. I went to three different elementary school and two different junior high schools, which caused me to feel like an outsider for much of my younger years.
I found comfort in food and I gained weight, which just contributed to my insecurity and my self-esteem issues. I was bullied and threatened and physically assaulted in seventh grade, and my only friend was my English teacher. And I ate lunch by myself in her workroom every single day.
My weight loss struggle defined me and continued to plague me for years and it cost me decades of my life that could have been spent doing more useful things. Are you hearing the violins play a sad song for me? That’s one version of my story. Here’s another.
I had a happy childhood full of family. I was lucky enough to have multiple parents who loved me and supported me. I was accepted into the pilot program of the Gifted and Talented program in my school district and it gave me the opportunity to be a part of its evolution.
Through that program, I was able to make friends with kids who lived all over the district from different backgrounds and to be exposed to really life-enriching diversity. As my body changed through puberty, I gained weight for the first time, which signaled the beginning of the greatest education I would ever have; my weight loss journey.
Through it, I found me. And I found life coaching, which changed my life for the better and inspired me to become a coach myself. And now, I spend my days dedicated to my passion of helping women lose weight and find freedom, and I’m the CEO of my own successful coaching business.
I am dedicated to self-improvement and to growth and I’ve been able to accomplish so many of my dreams and goals in my life and wake up every single day excited to see what else I’m capable of.
How about that for a story? A bit different, right? So you may be looking at my catastrophized version and my sunny version and be thinking, “Well, this is just a glass half full, glass half empty optimism situation.” And that’s true in some sense, but I see optimism not as ignoring of reality, but a conscious perspective choice.
We create the experience of our lives with the way we choose to tell our story. So recognizing the story you tell about your life and separating the facts from that story is the first piece. There are the facts of your life and the story your brain chooses to tell about it.
So let’s look at the example of my two stories. So some of the indisputable facts are I was in fact a child once. That is true. My parents got divorced when I was two. I did go to three different elementary schools and two different junior highs. That’s a fact. But you can hear how lumping that into part of my hard childhood is the story I’m telling about it.
I told you about my parents’ divorce. That’s a fact. They divorced when I was two. But the story I tell about it, the story my mom tells about it, the story my dad tells about it are all different. Any time we hear adjectives and qualifiers added to the facts, we know it’s the story our brain is telling about it.
So things like my parents’ terrible divorce, their painful divorce, the divorce was hard. Some people think divorce in and of itself is horrible. Some people think it’s horrible only if the parents fight over the kids or if one spouse doesn’t pay alimony or has to pay too much alimony.
Our stories are subjective. What someone considers hard, another person considers a day at the beach. The facts of our story are neutral. They can also be proven in a court of law. Everyone on Earth would agree that they are true. With that qualification, very little of the story we tell typically qualifies as fact.
Our brain is committed to the story being totally true. Like, divorce is painful. That is true. And struggling with my weight is hard. And my English teacher was a good person for letting me eat lunch in her room. But that commitment to the story being true and therefore unchangeable doesn’t always serve us.
And that’s really the most important part. Nor is this true, but is believing this helpful? What is believing this story creating for me? How do I feel when I believe this?
Let’s take a basic example like rain. Rain is just drops of water falling from the sky. Some people look outside and they see that it’s raining and they think, “This is the most romantic weather. I love the rain.” And they want to put on their boots and coat and go for a walk or cuddle up and read or watch a movie with a warm beverage.
They think about the plants and the trees getting moisture. They go outside and take a deep breath of petrichor. That’s your vocabulary word for the day, by the way. It’s a term for the earthy smell after it rains. That smell. It has a name.
Other people look out and they see the rain and they think that the rain is the worst and it’s ruining their outdoor plans and they feel grumpy and resentful. If you’re a farmer during a drought and it rains, you think, “Finally,” and you feel overjoyed. If you live on a hillside in California and it rains, you think, “Oh no,” and you feel dread.
If you have an outdoor wedding and it rains, you think, “This is terrible,” and you feel panic. If you have an outdoor garden and it rains, you think, “This is perfect,” and you feel grateful. The rain is the same. It’s just drops of water falling from the sky.
Your story about it determines your experience of it. The facts like rain or my parents’ divorce I refer to as our circumstances. Our story about the facts, our perception of the facts, our opinion of the facts, our interpretation of the facts, that is what I refer to here as our thoughts.
So there are the facts of your life and your brain tells a story about it, or a circumstance happens, and you have a thought about it. So here’s the best news about your thoughts. They’re totally optional. They are sentences your brain offers to you about your circumstances. That’s it.
Your brain offers you upwards of 60,000 of them every day and you have a choice as to which ones make up your story. Imagine your brain is the ocean and you are floating in a boat in the middle of it. The ocean is full of sentences floating by. Something happens in your world, some sentences float by, and you reach out and you grab the one you want to believe and you pull it on the boat.
Choosing which thoughts we want to make a part of our story, which thoughts we want to believe is a skill that takes some time to build. Our brain’s default mode is to conserve energy, to seek pleasure, to avoid pain. I call it the motivational triad.
So the thoughts it chooses on default mode are those that have you avoiding discomfort and feeling or seeking pleasure, and using the least amount of energy as possible. That’s why it likes to choose thoughts we’ve already practiced and know the results of.
Our default brain just wants to lay out on the boat. It’s like, what thoughts are already in here? Oh, the I can’t do anything right thought, great, let’s just use that one. Sure, it feels terrible, but at least we don’t have to grab a new one. And also, when we think this thought and we feel terrible, we usually just get some Oreos and that helps, so we’ll just do that again.
Sometimes we refer to this default setting as the primitive brain or lizard brain or lower brain. I really like toddler brain because it’s about immediate gratification and it loves to throw tantrums when it doesn’t get what it wants.
Building this skill of consciously choosing our thoughts can change everything. Our entire experience of our lives despite our circumstances, even those we can’t control, we determine with our thoughts. A couple of extreme examples of this.
Viktor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning was a Jewish psychologist who spent years in a concentration camp. He lost his entire family while he was there, but he recognized that no matter what was happening to him and around him, he retained power over his thinking.
Only he could determine what he made all of it mean with his thinking and he attributes this practice of choosing his thoughts and therefore his experience with his very survival. He watched hundreds of people die around them as they gave up this last piece of their humanity. Stewardship over their mind.
I read another book about the Holocaust called The Choice. it’s a beautiful story as well, and in that, the author describes a story of a woman that was also at Auschwitz with her who had heard a rumor that they were going to be free by Christmas. The war was going to be over by Christmas.
And so every day she powered through knowing that she only had to do it as long as Christmas and then she would be able to be done. Well, Christmas came and it went. The war was not over, and she died the very next day.
Like that giving up of her belief, those thoughts that she was believing that this was the end, that she would be free, that’s what kept her alive. So fascinating.
Another example of this I heard recently was the story of the Angola 3. One of them, Albert Woodfox spent 40 years in solitary confinement. That’s the longest span of solitary in history. I recently saw an interview with him where he talked about what helped him survive 23 hours alone every day for 40 years.
And it was that he knew that it was up to him, in his mind, to decide the meaning of his life despite his outside circumstances. No matter what happens outside of you, you have the power to control what you make it mean and your experience of it. You are the author of your story.
Here’s an exercise you can try that will help you start to see the story you’re telling. Take a situation in your life. Your childhood, your marriage, that conversation you had with your boss last week, your mother-in-law.
And write down the story that your brain is telling about it. All of it. Just write the topic at the top of the page and go. So write mother-in-law at the top of the page and write your story about her. And then go back and separate out the circumstances and the thoughts, the facts from your story about it.
I like to take a highlighter or a colored pen and underline all of the facts first. It’s really interesting to see when it’s all written down how much is fact and how much is totally within our control. It’s like, my mother-in-law is a woman, she’s alive, and the whole rest of the pages are thoughts about it.
Okay friends, next week, we will continue this conversation about how to re-write your story and we’ll talk about the experience of the story we’re choosing and how you can start to rewrite it and change it.
Head over to iTunes and rate and review the podcast, will you please? Reviews help me understand what’s helpful to you so I can create valuable episodes and they also allow more people to find the podcast so they can get some help too.
Don’t forget to head after you review to itbeginswithathought.com/review to submit the title of your review. You can find that link in the show notes. Okay everybody, see you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.