MEET DR. MICHELLE MAYDr. Michelle May is the award-winning author of the book series, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, which teaches mindful eating for yo-yo dieting, diabetes, binge eating disorder, bariatric surgery, and students. Dr. May is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University where she teaches Mindful Eating. She is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), the highest earned designation from the National Speakers Association. Dr. May founded Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training in 1999 to share her compassionate, constructive, and life-changing approach to eating through health and wellness professionals, corporate wellness programs, and community-based programs. Visit Dr. Michelle May's personal website, and see also Am I Hungry? Connect with Dr. May on Instagram and LinkedIn. FREEBIE: Read the First chapter of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat
IN THIS PODCAST
- The science behind consistent dieting failures
- Get past the lists
- New Year Resolutions
The science behind consistent dieting failures
First of all, [dieting] really goes counter to the way that we evolved. Our bodies don’t want to let go of weight easily, so when we begin to restrict our energy intake it causes all kinds of changes, both physical and psychological. (Dr. Michelle May)Because food was often scarce in the past, human bodies and minds are hardwired for survival and to seek food when it wants food. If food is restricted, or cannot easily be found, the brain thinks that the body is in danger of starvation and begins to store any calories on the body to “prepare” for the “famine”. You cannot explain to your body that you are dieting. It sees the lack of food as a sign that something is wrong, and it tries to help you by making you think of food constantly to encourage you to feed yourself.
This idea that diets don’t work isn’t your fault, it is actually the way the body functions. (Dr. Michelle May)Therefore, it is not about willpower, dieting, or finding the “right” method. Take care of your wellbeing holistically by eating nourishing foods, moving your body, enjoying your senses, and striving to take care of yourself.
Get past the listsGet past putting different foods into lists. There is no dichotomy between “good” and “bad” foods. Food is food, and people ascribe morals to them without realizing the repercussions. Labeling a certain food “good” and another “bad” can become a mechanism that you use to punish yourself, ultimately leading you to crave the food that you restrict because it is “bad” food.
Food is not inherently good or bad … realize that when we make a food “bad” we inadvertently give it power and almost put it up on a pedestal and that causes us to want it even more. (Dr. Michelle May)You can remove the power that food has by simply calling it food. Instead, turn your attention onto yourself and your body, and focus on your overall wellbeing.
New Year ResolutionsConsider enjoying the end of the year celebrations with friends and family as you did when you were a child. There was enjoyment, excitement, and play, without feeling guilt in the new year. You can be in charge of your life, and of your relationship with food, and how you relate to yourself. Reconsider using words like “treat” and “indulge” when it comes to eating food because it is just eating. Using those words gives power to the food. You can change the way you think about it. These are only choices because you are in charge of your life.
Books mentioned in this episode:BOOK | Dr. Michelle May – Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle
- BIOLOGY AND SELF-COMPASSION WITH CASSIE CHRISTOPHER | EP 65
- Visit Dr. Michelle May's personal website, and see also Am I Hungry?
- Connect with Dr. May on Instagram and LinkedIn
- FREEBIE: Read the First chapter of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat
- Sign up for the free Behind The Bite Course
- Practice of the Practice Network
- Email Dr. Cristina Castagnini: email@example.com
MEET DR. CRISTINA CASTAGNINII am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!
THANKS FOR LISTENINGDid you enjoy this podcast? Feel free to comment below and share this podcast on social media! You can also leave a review of Behind The Bite on Apple Podcasts (previously) iTunes and subscribe!
[CRISTINA CASTAGNINI] Behind The Bite podcast is part of a network of podcasts that are good for the world. Check out podcasts like the Full of Shift podcast, After the First Marriage podcast and Eating Recovery Academy over at practiceofthepractice.com/network. Welcome to Behind The Bite podcast. This podcast is about the real life struggles women face with food, body image and weight. We're here to help you inspire and create better healthier lives. Welcome. Well, hello everyone. I'm excited to just have you on here. I just wanted to put out there a show that I had on this time last year. For any of you who didn't hear it, I know I've gotten a lot of new listeners and so this show is all about the holidays and I think it's really time. So I wanted to put it out there yet again this year, at this time. So for any of you who did listen to it or who haven't, I think it is just worth listening to again, or if you haven't, listening to it now. I personally wanted to thank you for joining and being an active member of my podcast community because you've all made this work with it. I greatly appreciate all of the reviews, rating, subscriptions, and emails with your thoughts and feedback. I also wanted to let you know that after 65 straight weekly episodes, I need a little break to refresh and get ready for a brand new year. So I'll be off for the next two weeks in December, but be sure to tune back in 2022, because I have some great guests coming up and I know these are going to be some great shows. So happy holidays, have a great couple weeks and be sure to tune in January. Take care guys. So today I have a really fantastic guest. So I truly doubt she remembers when we first met, but I was at BEDA or Binge Eating Disorder Association convention several years ago and she was giving this keynote luncheon speech and she was leading us through a mindful eating exercise and introducing a book she'd just written. As she was talking, everything she was saying reminded me of so many of the things that helped me overcome my own eating disorder. I was thinking to myself, I really need to go speak to her. I didn't really know what I needed to speak to her about. All I knew was I just needed to. Fortunately enough, I was able to connect to her sometime during the conference and we exchanged contact information and shortly thereafter, I suddenly found myself on an airplane to Arizona to get trained and certified as a licensed facilitator for her program, which honestly, to this day, I'm still very much using and believe in and offer to my patients. So who's this person? I want to welcome to the show today, Dr. Michelle May. She's a recovered Yo-Yo dieter and former family physician, and the founder of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training to help individuals break free from mindless and emotional eating and senseless Yo-Yo dieting. She's also the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat book series. Welcome to the show, Michelle. [DR. MICHELLE MAY] Thank you so much. So glad to be with you, Christin. Actually you're right. I don't specifically remember meeting you there, but I remember that conference and I absolutely remember talking and meeting with you during your training. So it's so good to stay connected with you. [CRISTINA] It was during a great time too, because binge eating disorder had just been put into the diagnostic manual and there was no actual known treatment for binge eating disorder because of that. So I was so excited to go train with you because I thought, okay, I'm working at Kaiser at the time at the hospital. I was the eating disorder specialist there and it was my job to bring treatment to the hospital and I thought, okay, great, I'm going to go train with Michelle and then I can bring treatment to the hospital. This is great. So I was so thrilled that you were there at the conference and I could actually go train and learn a treatment protocol to bring. So you really had a huge impact on me and my career and everything I did from that point forward. So I'm actually thrilled you're here with me today too. [DR. MICHELLE] I love that. I love that. At that time, it was just shortly after Carrie and I did our research protocol and we've been able to show that that treatment actually stops binge eating disorder based on the binge eating scale. So it's quite amazing to see the transformation it makes, even in people who feel like they're stuck and nothing is ever going to change. So it's exciting to be part of that. [CRISTINA] Kelly and I, not too long ago, we talked about that as well. So it's interesting that of you and, I think it's interesting people always ask, does eating disorder treatment actually work because the myth is out there that nobody can ever recover from it. So to actually have you on here and speaking to you have the evidence that shows it does help and it does work is great. [DR. MICHELLE] Not to mention that we've all experienced that we know recovery is possible and that you can go on to live a big, beautiful, vibrant life. So really the work you and I do is about bringing that to people in a way that can really change their lives. [CRISTINA] So tell me a little bit about that. You have a little bit of a different background than most of the guests I have on here because you're a medical doctor and former family physician. So how did you actually get into treating binge eating disorder? [DR. MICHELLE] Well, like many people who've become passionate about their work, I struggled with disordered eating. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I'm pretty sure I had one. I just never realized that it was not normal what I was doing and I didn't realize that there was help for it and maybe at the time there wasn't great help for it. So I kind of found my way into this. I, like many of the people that I work with now who struggle with disordered eating had tried diet after diet, after diet thinking that my problem was the food. Of course that wasn't the problem. So in fact, sometimes I'd like to think that it was my solution and it really wasn't until I realized the role that dieting was playing in that cycle and stopped doing that and started really paying attention to why I did what I did and learning new ways of relating to foo. Of course that's what we teach others now. [CRISTINA] So for anyone out there listening, thinking, okay, I use dieting all the time or I diet all the time is there something you could say to them about why dieting actually doesn't work? [DR. MICHELLE] Oh, so much, so much CRISTINA. One thing is that first of all, it really goes counter to the way that we evolved. Our bodies don't want to let go of weight easily. So when we begin to restrict our energy intake, it causes all kinds of changes, both physical and psychological changes that cause us to be more attentive to food. I don't know about you, but I noticed that whenever I would try to diet, it seemed like all I could think about was food and what I was going to eat or wished I could eat or what I'd eat when I was off the stupid diet. It just seems like food shows up and it looks better. It actually turns out that you even become more sensitive to the tastes and the smells and the appearance of food. So it's as though your body is trying to make you pay attention to eating. On top of that, you also will see changes in your metabolism, changes in the way that your body processes energy in order to conserve energy. So this idea that diets don't work isn't your fault. It's actually the way the body functions. So that's one reason I really, or encourage people to stay away from dieting. I know that's super hard when everyone around you is talking about dieting, especially during new year's resolution time but the truth is if it worked, we've all done it. We would've done it once and we'd be done with it and that would be the end it, but that's not at all what happens. In fact, I think for many people, it actually distracts them from really understanding how they're using food in the first place and somehow thinking that if they could just find the right diet or maintain enough willpower, then their life will get better. That's not really the way it works. So I think, I mean, it doesn't work. We just know it doesn't work. The most common outcome of any restrictive eating plan is actually weight cycling. I call it Yo-Yo dieting, or it could be weight cycling, but we end up on and off and up and down. And of course, many people will do that their entire life. That's no way to live. [CRISTINA] So in your program, you talk about the pendulum, the going back and forth between restricting and binging. So there's that tendency I find with people I work with too. They will have the binge cycle and then they will want to lose weight and go and restrict. So for someone who maybe has done that and they just feel this urge to go lose the weight and restrict, is there anything you can say to that in terms of like maybe not giving into that urge to just restrict and diet? [DR. MICHELLE] Well, unfortunately it actually gives more power to food. And your experience with your clients is actually quite common. Most people who struggle with binge eating have a restrictive phase in their binge eating cycle. So it's almost as if the restriction and deprivation increases the cravings, increases the eating and then the binging and then the guilt and drives the cycle even more. So really what we want to do is create a more balanced approach. So we talked about Yo-Yo dieting on the diet, off the diet, on the diet, off the diet. But of course the Yo-Yo doesn't stop in the middle. There's really no in-between so the pendulum that you mentioned, you can see in between, like yes, the pendulum may swing in one direction or the other, but with new skills, new tools, the kinds of things that you help your clients with people can find a smaller arc in the middle where they truly can eat what they love and love what they eat without guilt, without feeling like losing control, but simply learning to be in charge of their decisions about food. [CRISTINA] I love that part of treatment when people start to have a different relationship with food. I think one of the biggest hurdles I found is people don't believe and they think, no, there's still this good food list and bad food list and healthy food and unhealthy food. So could you speak to that a little bit, because I think people still get so stuck on that and that's such the diet mentality, but how would you help people overcome that mentality of good food, bad food, healthy, unhealthy? [DR. MICHELLE] I totally get it. I mean, as a former dieter, I mean, it was so easy to have these two lists of foods, the allowed foods and the bad foods or the green light foods and the red light foods or good and bad. That is a very simplistic way of thinking and almost seems like it must be right. However, all you have to do is think about how these rules have changed. I mean, I was dieting 20, 25, 30 years ago. So I remember when fat was the enemy. I remember when we weren't supposed to eat eggs. I remember, or when avocados and nuts were on the bad list. So you only need to look at a few examples like that to realize that food is not inherently good or bad, but the definitions of food change over the years and to realize that when we make a food bad, we've inadvertently given it power. We've almost put it up on a pedestal and that causes us to want it even more. But if you think about people that who don't struggle with food like that, they eat cookies, they eat chips, they eat whatever they love, but food doesn't have power over them. So when they've had enough, they can stop. They don't have to finish the entire bag and if they eat chips, they don't have to exercise more to punish themselves. They don't have to deprive themselves at their next snack or their next meal. It's just food to them. So when people say, oh, but you don't understand I can eat just a few cookies, then I say, well that's because that's what dieting taught you. In your diet model when you ate one or two or three cookies, then you started thinking, well, I've already blown it. I might as well keep eating and eat the rest of the package so I don't have to deal with it tomorrow. Like it won't tempt me tomorrow. It's that restriction phase that actually gives the food so much power and leads to that powerlessness you've been feeling. It's possible to learn a different way to think about it. [CRISTINA] Yes, I hear that all the time. The other thing I hear is I'm addicted to food, I'm addicted to sugar and I can't have those things. I've tried and --- [DR. MICHELLE] Right, right, exactly. I'm not a big fan of the food addiction model. First of all, when you look at most of the studies about it's mostly done on rats and other you animals that aren't humans. You almost never see a food addiction study that controls the effect of restriction and dieting. Many of the people who feel addicted to food have these long phases of, or intermittent phases of restriction, which has given the food power. So when we, and the other thing to know is that food does light up the pleasure parts of our brains. I mean, without a doubt, it lights up the same area that music and sunsets and sex and other kinds of pleasurable experiences light up. So I do understand the feeling of being addicted, but it comes back to that idea that if I start, I won't be able to stop, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because if you, you don't allow yourself to have certain foods, you've made them bad. Then when you do finally have them, it will feel like, like you've broken some law or rule and it will be even a bigger draw to you and it's very hard to stop. So it does feel addictive, but once people do the processes around fearless eating that we teach in our programs, people are like, "Oh my gosh, I never thought I could keep cookies or chocolate in the house, but now it's not a problem anymore." They're just absolutely amazed that it's possible. I'm sure you've seen that too, CRISTINA. [CRISTINA] Oh, I've seen it time and time again. People never believe me. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say, "Oh my gosh, I've had the ice cream in the freezer for forever. It's still there.'' Or, "I can't believe the Oreos are still in the pantry. I've had like one in a week." And that's actually what drew me to you. I was listening to you talk at the convention. It was, oh my gosh, she's talking my language. That's exactly what happened to me when I was recovering. It was like, I could have all the foods that I always dreaded or feared or thought would the bad foods. I went, I need to go talk to her. [DR. MICHELLE] I think it's interesting about it. Just because you can eat any food, it mean you will. I mean, some people are listening to this thinking, well, yes, but we shouldn't be eating cookies or chips or whatever. The truth of the matter is, again, people that you know who don't struggle with food, eat those foods in moderation. It's not an issue. What gets us into trouble, especially if you struggle with actual binge cheating disorder is okay, fine for a long period of time maybe you don't eat any of those foods and then you swing all the way in the other direction and you binge on these foods. Now you feel physically and emotionally horrible. You didn't really get the enjoyment that you were hoping for out of those foods anyway and then you prepare for another period of deprivation. So the pendulum model is really about moving away from one extreme to the other, to finding the middle where you have some of those foods some of the time. There might be foods that you just don't feel you need to have in your life. For example, myself, we don't really keep potato chips and that kind of thing in the cabinet, because I trust that they'll show up enough at a potluck or a party or a restaurant. Remember when we used to be able to go to those things? But I trust that they're going to show up enough, that I'm going to get to have them when I want them. Worse comes to worse, if I'm really craving a bag of potato chips, there's a gas station on every street corner where I could pull in and have one if I really wanted it. So it's not that I eat chips all of time. On the other hand, I almost always have chocolate in my house. That was a food that I binged on regularly when I was struggling and now it doesn't have any power over me, but I eat it several times a week because I really enjoy it and it doesn't trigger any fear or loss of control because as I always say, it's not about being in control. It's about being in charge, [CRISTINA] Which is a huge shift. [DR. MICHELLE] Yes. It's a huge shift because you don't live in fear anymore. And here's the biggest thing about it, CRISTINA, again, I know you've experienced this yourself and with your clients is that when you're not spending so much of your energy thinking about food or not eating food it creates this huge amount of space where you can now do other things to fill your life. Whether you focus on your relationships or your career, or your hobbies, creative outlets, or moving your body, doing fun things, now, all of a sudden, all these things, I was using food for entertainment and distraction and pleasure and stuffing pain, all of those things, now I have a whole bunch more options that I can choose from when I'm feeling uncomfortable. [CRISTINA] I think that's the biggest shift, is like having food, not be such a central focus and engaging in your life. That's exactly, you're in charge of your life now instead of food binging. [DR. MICHELLE] Ironically, the funny part about that is when that happens, food is still part of your life. It's still something fun to do and now that it's not associated with all this guilt and shame and fear and loss of control, now it can be a way that you experience pleasure and a way that you connect with other people. It can even be a way that you comfort yourself a bit when you're feeling sad or lonely or memories or whatever. You can make a special meal that also feels comforting and brings you that pleasure that you're looking for. But it's not your only source of comfort and pleasure. It's just a source. [CRISTINA] To the point where you're talking about, then you're in charge. You get to decide that. [DR. MICHELLE] Exactly. [CRISTINA] So, as you were talking about being in charge and all of these issues with control and food, I'm just thinking about what's coming up right now. The New Year’s is coming up and I know a lot of people tend to have a lot of stress and a lot of issues with the holidays and they tend to use food for lots of different reasons. Maybe they might be coping with food or they might be thinking, okay, I got to get all the holiday food in all at once because it's coming up just around this time where it's like specific holiday foods or different things. So I've noticed at least a lot of people tend to kind of overindulge during the holidays and then they kind of have that mentality of, okay, then when the new year's comes, I'm going to do the opposite kind of that pendulum swing. Or like, okay, I'm going to take get it all in now. They do all this and then they have that guilt, like you're talking about I over indulged and then new year's comes and they say, okay, I got this resolution. I'm going to do just the opposite. I got to make up for it. I feel guilty and I'm going to go gung-ho into this diet, start the new year off. What's your thought about that? [DR. MICHELLE] What comes up for me is I'm listening to you describe this very common pattern is Ugh, so I spend all of the holidays feeling full and uncomfortable and regretful, in other words, miserable then when the new year comes, I spend all my time depriving counting, weighing, and measuring, looking things up and writing them down. In other words, miserable. It's just one extreme of miserable to another. So for me the holidays are an amazing time to make cookies that I used to make with my grand or who was an amazing cook to enjoy meals with my family, my immediate family, even my extended family, when possible to really connect with memories like even just aromas and experiences that bring back memories from my childhood. So it's an amazing experience to be in the holidays without making food the main focus. Then when the New Year comes, it's not about now, I'm going to be good and now I'm going to deprive myself. Nothing changes. It's the new year. Now, granted the holidays are gone so I might have a little more margin to do new things or try something new or learn something new. But I don't all of a sudden go to restriction and deprivation because my way of managing my food during the holidays is the same as the way I manage my food all the rest of the year. I am in charge. I make decisions and sometimes the decision might mean eating Christmas cookies for dinner one night. But I didn't blow it. I didn't break a rule. It wasn't bad. I might not feel great. So one of the things we like to say is that eating the "right amount of food" is not about being good. It's about feeling good. When I make a mistake and eat more than I need to or eat too much of the certain kind of food, and then I feel physically uncomfortable now I haven't blown it. I've just learned something. I've just taken in some information that will help me the next time I'm in that situation. I need to make a decision then [CRISTINA] That's good approach to it, just having a different, different view of how to look at this holiday season for people. So [DR. MICHELLE] Let me throw one other idea in here. So you used the word indulge a couple of times and I often hear that same kind of thing. Let me suggest that we drop that word. It's not indulgent to eat something we love. We're not indulging ourselves. In fact, I even have problems with words like treat because now we've given food more power than it really needs to have over us. So we're just eating. It's not indulging, it's just eating or choosing. [CRISTINA] That's very true. Actually, I'm curious, why do you think new year's resolutions tend to like fade off or they don't tend to stick? [DR. MICHELLE] Well, I mean, for one thing, they don't really operate on the way the human brain works. I mean, they are again about restriction and deprivation. They work very much on an external locus of control, sort of this idea that if I restrict myself and change my body, then I'll be happy. Then people will approve of me. Then they'll like me, then they'll think I'm lovely or beautiful or attractive. So they are really not built the way the human body or the human brain works for long term change. It's got to be much more about intrinsic motivation where I, and this gets back to, it's not about being good. It's about feeling good. So when I center my intention in the new year on things that are really about taking care of myself from an inside out kind of place where I'm eating an amount of food that leaves me feeling good, I'm choosing a balance of foods that feel good in my body, then I can come to the other end of that with having some new skills and actually getting positive reinforcement. With new years of resolutions surrounding things like losing weight, what we're really talking about is following external rules for some external validation. That just doesn't work long term [CRISTINA] So related to that, I often hear people, what kind of, in my opinion, I think it's like justification in a way. It's like saying, oh, well I need to lose weight because I need to work on my health. I often wonder about that a little bit. What do you think about weight and health put together? [DR. MICHELLE] So common. It's sort really a frustrating area. It's one of my favorite newer topics to speak on at conferences because I think that it's been a paradigm that our culture has had for quite some time now. It's not actually proven. When you look at the literature, most of what you're seeing and to terms of weight and health is correlation, not causation. So what that means is, for example, let's say that somebody has diabetes and they lose five pounds and then the researcher or the clinician says, see, your diabetes is so much better. It's because you lost five pounds. Well, is it, or is it possible that it's because you changed your diet and started exercising and maybe the weight loss, wasn't the cause of the improvement in the diabetes, but it was the change in your eating and exercise that caused the weight loss and the improvement in diabetes. So that's one simple example. But I think oftentimes when you really look at, at the literature around weight loss, for one thing, it's so rarely sustained. I mean, your experience as an individual, as you listeners there, you know that most of us have lost lots and lots of weight off and on, off and on, off and on. Or we know lots of people who have weight cycled. So here's the thing. It's not that all of us are weak-willed or we're just don't have the right diet. It's that weight loss is rarely sustained. Almost always people go back to where they were, if not more. So I think this idea that somehow weight loss is going to improve our health just doesn't make sense because even if it really did, which I said it doesn't, there's very little proof that it does because it's hard to make somebody lose weight without making behavior changes. But even if it did, it's so rarely sustained whereas behavior changes things like moving your body, more, eating more fruits and vegetables, getting a better night's sleep, stress management, these kinds of things. Those are changes because here's the thing. Weight is not a behavior since it's not a behavior, it's not something that we are actually under conscious control over. So focus on behaviors instead. [CRISTINA] That's great advice. I hope people can take that in because I promote that all the time, that health and weight don't go together. I think that's just so hard for people to take in or believe. [DR. MICHELLE] As a family physician in my past life, I took care of lots of people in smaller bodies who had diabetes and knee pain and heart disease, lots and lots of people. I took care of lots of people in larger bodies who had very full, vibrant lives. Now I'm not saying that there isn't some correlation. There certainly might be but I think when we assume that if a person is overweight, they're unhealthy, I think that's a misunderstanding. I mean, there's a lot of other factors that are much more important, like genetics for one thing and social determinants of health. It turns out your zip code is more correlated with your health than your weight. Another thing that's more correlated with health and your weight is your level of physical fitness. So when you are moderately physically fit it is much more highly correlated with your overall wellbeing than what you weigh. And you don't have to be running marathons. I mean, that's not necessary for good health, but we know that going from inactivity to moderate physical activity has a huge benefit on our overall wellbeing. [CRISTINA] So if somebody's listening saying, okay, what does that entail, what's moderate physical activity, what would you tell them? [DR. MICHELLE] Well, we have to each do what works for us. So I like to tell people to think, not in terms of, okay, how hard do I have to exercise, but I like them to ask the question, what is the least amount of exercise I can do joyfully and consistently? Start there. So for example, I had a patient of mine when I was still practicing medicine. He was a fairly young guy, like early forties. He was already on three blood pressure medications and he had tried over and over again to lose weight. By this point I was starting to really learn more about human behavior. So the next time he came in, I said, all right, what is the least amount of exercise you could do? He said, well I've had a stationary bike sitting in my bedroom forever. It's clear I were going to use it. I know I should go for a walk, but I'm probably not going to do that. He said, I work in a building with multiple floors. So maybe I could walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. I said, is that something you do? He said, yes. I mean, that's pretty realistic. It won't take me that long, et cetera. So he comes back a month later to get his blood pressure rechecked and his blood pressure's much better and he is glowing. I said, "Wow. How are you doing?" He said, "I'm doing much better." He said, "I'm taking the stairs." I said, "This is a pretty big improvement. So you're taking a flight of stairs every day?" He goes, "Oh no." He says, "Didn't I tell you I work on the 10th floor?" I said, "Wait a minute. You left my office and started walking 10 flights of stairs?" He goes, "No way. There's no way I could have walked 10 flights of stairs. What I did was I took one flight of stairs, got out and then took the elevator up to the 10th floor. I had to do that a couple times a day." He said after a while he was able to take two flights of stairs, then three, and pretty soon other people in the building were doing the same thing with me. He said, "Now I can easily walk 10 flights of stairs two, three times a day, no problem." That's, what's making the difference. So I just always remember Alex, because that idea that starting with one flight of stairs, where many of us would go, wow, that won't matter. That won't make any difference. It can make all the difference in the world because it opens the door. It gives us possibility. It allows us to see what our body is capable of. If we just stop telling ourselves, if I don't go to the gym for 60 minutes, five days a week, it won't make any difference. That's just not true. That's not the way human behavior works. [CRISTINA] That's a fantastic story. Thank you for sharing that. It's inspiring actually. [DR. MICHELLE] I have several of them because it's just been proven to me over and over and over again. Let's lower the bar. Let's stop telling people you're not exercising enough, do more, do more. Let's lower the bar. What's the least amount of exercise you can do and then do that. When you're comfortable doing that, then ask yourself the question again so that we're able to find activities to do that we really enjoy. I think that enjoyment piece is really important because for lots of chronic Yo-Yo dieters, we learned to use exercise as punishment for eating or to earn the right to eat or to pay penance when we ate something bad. So when we begin to find activities, like my new favorite is pickable right, I love pickable and hiking and yoga. Now that I'm aging, I just turned 58, I am doing more weight lifting, which I don't love, but my husband and I do it while we watch some favorite series on Netflix that we don't watch any other time. So we've found a way to make it fun and something that we look forward to. I think that's really important, is that exercise shouldn't be punitive. It should be something that you enjoy and that you allow yourself to gradually see the benefits of. [CRISTINA] That is very well said because absolutely, I think exercise can feel like punishment instead of something that's pleasurable. So that is a great message. [DR. MICHELLE] The E word, right. If it helps think of physical activity, think of movement, I love when somebody said to me, I like to think of movement snacks throughout my day. You know how sometimes you just get bored of being at your computer or doing whatever you're doing and suddenly you want to go get something to eat. She said, I like to think of movement snacks. I just get up and go move around, go outside, look at my garden, go play ball with my dog for a few minutes. I'm like, gosh, that's such a great concept movement snacks. [CRISTINA] Yes, like what feels good in your body. Exactly. All right, well, Michelle, you have truly offered so much great information to everybody and I'm so thrilled that you were here like I said. Before we end, I'm wondering is there any last words or thing you would like to share with everyone out there who's listening today? [DR. MICHELLE] I think the most important thing CRISTINA is even if you've been struggling with food and physical activity for a long time, I want you to know that there's hope. But the hope doesn't come from trying another diet or doing the same old thing that you've done every other new year. Where the hope comes from is completely changing your relationship with food. You do that by learning how to manage your eating instinctively and mindfully. And adding movement into your life that adds energy doesn't zap you or punish you. With those changes, and there's lots of us that can help you with that, CRISTINA is one of them, with those kinds of changes, you can literally transform your life. There is so much hope to feel better in your body than you do right now and it doesn't come from one more round of new year's resolutions. [CRISTINA] Very well said. I know after today's show listeners will probably want to find some way to get in contact with you or find your products or books or programs. So would you be willing to share a website or social media so that people can find you? [DR. MICHELLE] Absolutely. Probably the best and simplest place to go is amihungry.com, A-M-I-H-U-N-G-R-Y.com. There's a button at the top of that page that says "free," and you can find articles and blog posts and eating cycle assessments and videos of all kinds of stuff that'll get you started. In fact, the other thing I would love to suggest is that if you want to know a little bit more about mindful eating, about how to eat instinctively, without following a bunch of rules, probably the shortest and best piece of information is chapter one of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat. So I'll give you a link that you can share with your listeners. It's simple, it's amihungry.com/chapterone. So chapter is spelled out, the number one chapter one, and you can download the first chapter of my book and you'll learn all about the mindful eating cycle and about the instinctive eating cycle, the restrictive eating cycle, the overeating cycle. I think if you see yourself in one of those patterns, I think the book can be really, really helpful for giving you a completely new way of thinking about your eating this year. [CRISTINA] Absolutely. I'm a strong advocate for the book too, as I said, I run the program. So I recommend everybody go and download the chapter. Don't worry if you did not get any of that down. I'm going to have all that contact information available in the show notes on my website. So just make sure to head there after the show, if you want to get in touch with Michelle and find out more about her books and programs and get that free chapter. So thank you for that, Michelle. That's fantastic. [DR. MICHELLE] Thank you, CRISTINA. Thanks for inviting me to come and share this with your listeners and just for being a passionate advocate for this approach. It's really life changing and it's amazing to have people like you out there offering it. [CRISTINA] Well, I'm glad it's there because it works. Like I said, just like you, we know that you can go into recovery and live this life without all of these struggles. So the more people that you and I, and everybody else can tell that don't believe in that myth that you can't over it, I think that's the most important part. All right, everyone, thank you for being here and thank you for listening and as always, I hope you enjoyed the show. If you did, you can rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. You can also go to my website at behindthebitepodcast.com, where you can get my free nine-week email course and start your journey to making peace with your own struggles, with food and your body. Until next time to your health everyone. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.