Episode #96 – Laura Coe on Emotional Obesity and Emotional Fitness

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In this week’s episode, we’re sitting down with life coach and author Laura Coe to discuss her work on ’emotional obesity’ and to discover how positive, healthy thinking can turn our lives around. Getting healthy isn’t just a physical process, it’s a mental one as well. Laura tells us about her own journey through chronic illness and over-medication, and how changing her diet turned her health around – leaving her looking and feeling better than ever.

However, when many of us do win our personal health battles, we can find that we’re not actually feeling better. Our health may have improved, but we’re still tied to negative choices and thinking negative thoughts. These heavy thoughts weigh us down, leading to a state of emotional obesity. Recognizing and overcoming this is the key to getting the life you want, advises Laura.

Becoming emotionally fit is as hard as a physical health battle, but using affirmative exercises and focusing on your goals can unlock your potential and help you discover more about the true and authentic you. You can get yourself back on the right path and start making the changes that will give you the life you want.

For more information on the topics we’ve discussed this week, check out the following links:

Order your copy of Emotional Obesity: A Philosophical Guide To Lighten Your Life

Follow Laura on Twitter: @laurascoe

Read more: http://emotionalobesity.com/
Take the Emotional Weight Scale quiz for yourself and see where you’re at

Watch the videos at Laura’s Youtube channel here

Don’t forget to tell us what you think of the show! Those who leave us a review in iTunes will be automatically entered into our prize draw, with a whole host of goodies to be grabbed by one lucky listener.

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

MELISSA: Welcome, Laura, and thanks so much for taking time to be on the program today.

LAURA: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to chat with you.

MELISSA: Yes, I wanted to—we were just talking before we started to record, and I wanted to have you give a little story about your own health and how you changed it a few years ago just so people know where you’ve been because I think a lot of times people are very suspect of people giving advice that haven’t sort of walked in their shoes.

LAURA: Yeah, I was mentioning before we jumped on live here that I love so much of the advice that you have on your show because I went through a lot of the same journey myself. I had a chronic illness I was diagnosed when I was 18 and I did what you’re supposed to do. I went to the doctor and they put me on a bunch of medications but didn’t tell me to do anything with my diet other than eat white food, quite frankly, which is kinda frightening to think about.

MELISSA: White, yikes.

LAURA: All white foods.

MELISSA: Wonder bread with sugar on it?

LAURA: I know, it’s so bad now that you think about it. But it was in 1990 and nobody thought too much about white foods back then and so I did and I ate a pretty strict white diet. I got sicker and sicker and sicker, took more and more medications and then kind of got to like a breakpoint where I just couldn’t really take it anymore. I was taking a ton of medications and I was young and I was like, “This is crazy.” So I started researching on the Internet and I ran into the specific carbohydrate diet which actually turns out to be very similar to the paleo diet and I removed all processed foods, all white foods, all sugars, and all grains and all dairy, believe it or not. So I was down to nuts and vegetables, meats and it was very similar to paleo but it was a little more extreme even.

And I was—you know, I had been so sick that I was motivated enough to do this aggressively for five years. I didn’t—I mean, my friends would joke like, “How do you do it?” But I was so motivated from that feeling that it was actually relatively easy to do because I was feeling amazing.

MELISSA: Yeah, that’s the thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re at such a low point in your health and you do make a change like this and I can relate. You start to feel, compared to where you were which you thought was normal, so much better.

LAURA: Yeah.

MELISSA: And so, you’re motivated to, at least for a certain point until you reach another stage, to just keep doing it, and to say, “I don’t want it.” And if you do try to eat processed food, you feel the crash is huge, at least it was for me.

LAURA: Oh my god. I mean, you know, I remember just feeling my blood sugar was always stable. I never felt hungry. I never felt like light-headed. I never felt like I wanted to overeat and I was in incredible shape which was never the goal, but it ended up being the outcome. But I did, like you say, I sort of hit a breakpoint where I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d gotten pregnant, had a successful delivery of my child and I was like, I have to add some foods back. This is crazy. I can’t live like this. So I actually was able to, through some testing, I did a test that checks for food sensitivity and it narrowed down what was really an issue for me. I went to a naturopath which I would recommend to anybody if you haven’t gone. I mean, it’s amazing. So she put me on a few supplements from Whole Foods and over the next year or two, I was really able to add a lot of foods back in and the supplements really seem to stabilize everything for me. But it wasn’t until I realized that although I had physically really made so many changes and felt really good, I hadn’t dealt with the emotional side of my life and I got kind of motivated to tackle that as well.

MELISSA: I think we were talking about this before we got started again that your physical health and improvement of it is a big win at first. And then, you have to sit down and really look at some of the things that may be going on, like you say, emotionally. Maybe from way in the past or maybe from currently, but things that are not aligned, that are not—haven’t been resolved—I call it, you’ve swept them under 4the carpet and believe me, there’s a ton of stuff under the carpet. And until—and one of the—we were talking about John Gabriel who I interviewed a few months back, and that’s one of the big points he like to talk about because he found it in his own life and then shared it with everybody that he helps was that you get to the improvement in the physical stage, stage one I call it, and then you feel good enough to sort of really start looking back at what problems have been caused by things you haven’t resolved in your life.

In your book, “Emotional Obesity: A Philosophical Guide to Lighten Your Life,” one of your big points is how to finally become the authentic “real” you. And just give us an overview of why that’s so important because a lot of people think, “Oh, yeah. That’s all woo-woo.” It’s all this new age-y stuff, but on the other hand, I’ve learned that this is a biggie. This is really big.

LAURA: Yeah. You know, a few years ago, I think everybody would look at me from the outside and say I really had everything people to equate with success, right? I, because of this diet though, I was in great shape. I actually built and sold a company to a Fortune 500, so I was successful in my job. But the truth is, I was even teaching yoga classes, I’m becoming a certified yoga teacher. But I didn’t really feel as good on the inside as I looked from the outside. And I think this is the big myth of our culture is that we have all these successes, right? But they weren’t coming from my authentic ideas of how to live my life. They were coming from this learned concept of how to live our life. And I had bought into all of it and I was living a very inauthentic life and I didn’t feel good. So even though I had all these things and it looked all, you know, good from the outside, I had become what I call now “emotional obese,” I was—I had layered in all these ideas of what my life should be like. I should have this job. I would justify it by saying it’s smart, it earns good living, right? It makes sense.

MELISSA: Is that amazing how you descend these things to the depth?

LAURA: Yeah.

MELISSA: Even though it doesn’t feel right you’re like, “No, I have to defend this because I made this decision.”

LAURA: Right, people do this all the time. I hate my job but I can’t quit because I wanna get a divorce but it can’t for this reason. I love to do this other thing.

MELISSA: It’s craziness. It really is because deep down, you know this isn’t working for you or isn’t right. There’s that deep-down feeling but you just—you don’t admit it.

LAURA: That’s right. So that’s why I think it’s so important to become your authentic self, right? Because we talk this way. We say, “I feel really weighed down. I dread doing this.” People feel physically heavy even when they’re not, right? And then they drag around not wanting to walk into their days. And we talk about the physical issues in our life. We talk about the importance of getting in shape although it’s a challenge and it’s not easy to do. But nobody really talks about this other side that what about that emotional weight that you’re carrying around, all these negative beliefs that you’ve learned and you’re sure trapped in the life that doesn’t feel right to you.

MELISSA: Yeah, and now you talk about rewiring your brain to take on new behaviors. Why—I think we know why you wanna do it, but what’s kind of an example of something small that somebody would do that would give them the result that would help them moving forward with their health?

LAURA: Yeah, so I use this metaphor a lot because I think, well, at least familiar with the physical side, so we all know that junk food in general isn’t good for us, right? And we may or may not dive into a bag of chips or cookies, but we know at least this is going to add weight and not be the healthiest choice. But what about the junk food thoughts, right? What about this stuff in our heads, the thoughts we have that are weighing us down? What are the things that you’re saying to yourself that leaves you feeling bad about yourself, low self-worth, like not deserving, right, anxious, depressed, what are those things that you’re saying? And what can you do to change your thoughts and I call them “nutritional thoughts,” right? So as I went through this journey, I realized that I had a handful of thoughts that I was going to all the time, much like I love to eat barbecued wings is like—it’s a total downfall for me, I mean, if they’re in front of me, I can’t really resist. I had a bunch of thoughts that I couldn’t resist. And like I said, they would roll around my career. I should do this because it makes sense, right? And when I would think about doing what I love which is writing and being a coach, I was like, “Oh, come on. That’s crazy. Who does that?” I don’t have a PhD. I had like all of these things that I would dive into and I would feel terrible. So it’s about replacing it with supportive thoughts, things that makes sense for your life, not because somebody’s told you, you can’t because you’ve learned there’s a right or wrong way to live your life, but the thoughts that actually support you to get to the goals that you want for your own life.

MELISSA: Now, you recommend that people have kind of a cheat sheet or like something on their phone or maybe a little card or something that kind of reminds them, maybe a wrist band or something that reminds them to—I know Dr. Amon talks about “step on the ants,” which is stepping on any negative thought that comes in, you know, sort of not letting it go to the next level because these things seem to cascade and pretty soon, you’re down a rabbit hole. You’ve gone from a little bit of bad thought to a whole cascade of bad things that happen.  Is there any technique or tip that you use to help on that?

LAURA: Absolutely. I mean first of all, I think there’s a lot of great things out there. I’m a yoga teacher, I’m into meditation so I would definitely first recommend that people learn some basic meditation techniques to become aware of your thoughts because that’s a big step. If you’re not really aware of the thoughts in your head, if you’re not aware of the narrative that you tell of yourself, it’s hard to change them. So a) starting to get aware, and then b) ask yourself what you want. Be really serious for like just literally 30 seconds. Our children when we ask them what they want, they can list and list and list, and somewhere along our lives, we lose the ability to just say what we want freely. So ask yourself what you want. Give yourself 30 seconds, even set a timer where you’re just gonna say I’m not gonna interrupt myself and say I can’t and I shouldn’t and I won’t just for 30 seconds say what you want.

Within those 30 seconds I promise you or as soon as they’re over you will start to come back to these junk food thoughts, right? I would definitely write them down. These are the thoughts that you specifically have that are getting in the way of your life, and then see if you can draft some alternatives, right? Because there’s always an alternative view. If you can’t come up with the one, ask a friend, you know. Look, I’m saying this to myself all the time, “Do you have an alternative?” And then rehearse that alternative, say it while you’re walking around the street. You know, I know it sounds a little corny but I would drive around it. I would repeat my nutritional thought over and over and over. Studies show that if you’re in motion and you’re saying things, actually it maps the brain faster.

MELISSA: Yes.

LAURA: Yeah, but you know just positive talking doesn’t help, right? Like it threw me off for a long time as I would just say things like, “Be grateful” or things like those are great, having fun. I’m so happy.

MELISSA: I wanna kill the kids, aargh!

LAURA: You gotta pick up stuff that means something to you and really supports what you want in your life at that point.

MELISSA: Yeah. And I think something that I learned that worked for me which I didn’t realize was working was if you have some sort of an activity that you do that’s mind-body, so it requires a little bit of thought, not a lot, so not maybe like playing chess on horseback or something, but something more like, I don’t know, like rowing or paddling or paddling canoe, I guess, or paddle-boarding if you’re in California or somewhere warm, where you’re moving. It’s requiring movement and yet your brain can be somewhat off duty. So it knows, okay, put the paddle on the water, stroke, put the paddle on the water, stroke, and then you can start to program it with other things that you might wanna have. Spring people tell me, and I’ve been looking into this because of my leg issue that that can be incredible powerful in restructuring your brain-thinking patterns.

LAURA: Yeah, because you get your mind into a relaxed state. A lot of people will say, you know, they’re in the shower, they’re going for a walk, and that’s when they get their best ideas because we’re still in motion but we have shut down the executive functioning, you know, the part that sorts of moving and overthinking, and it allows for you to be open, but not overthink and it’s this really wonderful spot. I always get my greatest thoughts in the shower. So yeah, when you’re kind of relaxed and then you can repeat these things, because you wanna incorporate these new ideas into your life before you’re under stress, right? So that when you’re stressed out the next time you have them at your fingertips.

Another thing is I created an emotional scale because I found for myself that I could go to the doctor’s office, I could jump on a scale. I could find out basically my physical fitness levels, but how do you find out your emotional fitness levels? And out of frustration, I just decided, you know what, there’s nothing really out there. I mean, there’s tests to find out about your personality and what have you but I just wanted to know what’s really hanging me up. Do I need approvals from people? Do I make assumptions? What’s the thing that’s in my way? So I also have that in my website to help locate an area of weakness.

MELISSA: Cool. So we’ll put a link in the show notes definitely to your site. And also, if there’s a specific page that’s on, we’ll definitely link to it so people can go in and try that. I think that’s really good. I haven’t ever heard of that. It’s sort of a new development.

LAURA: Yeah, you know, it’s just—you can run over to Bed, Bath & Beyond and grab a scale but how do you—I was motivated. I was one of those people I was reading self-help and I cared, but I couldn’t locate the specific areas where I was really getting tripped up.

MELISSA: Got it, good. So that should be helpful to people, that and doing a little bit of meditation and there’s plenty of programs out there that people can find and we’ll link to a bunch of ones I’ve mentioned before. And also, the mind-body connection from walking to paddling, to even doing the dishes, there you go. That’s a real mundane task, but your hands are busy doing things and your brain’s kind of, like you say, not in the executive function mode.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

MELISSA: Now, one of the other things you talk about is getting your dream career or career that aligns with what you really want to do and who you really are. That seems like for someone who’s already maybe out of college, in the workforce, it may be an overwhelming concept.

LAURA: Mm-hmm.

MELISSA: Do you have any shortcut tips on that?

LAURA: Absolutely. I mean, that was me. I was way deep into my work career. I had done—I was in my late 30’s and spent my whole life in healthcare tech entrepreneur which is I don’t like really healthcare that much and I don’t love being a business person so it was shocking.

MELISSA: It was your perfect career.

LAURA: It was perfect. I had worked—you know, I was successful so that was even more confusing because I’m like, “Well, how can I quit something that I’m doing well?” And it’s very daunting and a lot of people think, “Oh my god. I’ve got to quit my job and drop everything or I’m never gonna figure it out.” I don’t think that that’s true. It’s really about getting to the emotional fitness level that you can start to find out what you want, who you are, what matters to you, your authentic core, and how to navigate your life from that space, because once you get good at that again, because we were born good at it, right? We came out knowing how to speak honestly and authentically. We just learned how to layer that up until we couldn’t find it anymore. But once you get that muscle, that authenticity muscle speaking again and working well again, that’s when you can really start to draft your plans and think about what you wanna do and you can do that while you still have your current career. I did it the wrong way. I quit my job and ran around in circles like a chicken with my head cut off trying to figure out what to do. That doesn’t work very well. It’s really frustrating.

MELISSA: You did the “burn the ships” model then.

LAURA: I did. I thought, well, I had resources and I thought, “Well, this is gonna be easy. I’m gonna jump and figure it out and find an authentic life.” But that’s actually how it works. It’s not about changing the outside world. It’s about changing what’s going on within you, getting back to your authentic self and then finding out what it is that you really care about and then matching that to the outside world, right? I ran around looking at the outside world trying to find a good match, but I didn’t know what it was within myself that I was looking for. So it’s just sort of running around uselessly.

MELISSA: So maybe using like what you’ve said before, the meditation practice and writing things down about what you really feel and what you really need to work on, use that template kind of taking it to another step further into looking into what you’d really like to spend the rest of your life doing and what kind of career or what kind of work?

LAURA: Yeah. I think it’s really important to get emotionally fit before you can answer these big life questions. So I wrote about how to lose the emotional weight, think about these layers that you’ve added on. I’m coming out with a new book for emotional workouts and I have a whole bunch of them on my website, but I was making assumptions all the time and that was in my way, right? And I couldn’t get to what I really cared about because I was making all these assumptions. So I went on a cleanse. I just stopped making assumptions for an entire week. So it was like torture everywhere—

MELISSA: That’s difficult.

LAURA: Yeah.

MELISSA: That’s a hard one. Yeah, we definitely need a book on that for sure because I think life is a minute-by-minute assumptions of what’s gonna happen next and useless assumptions about what may never happen. But you’re tying up your thoughts in things that might not come true.

LAURA: Yeah, so if you think about how do you get a career that means something to you and you’re making assumptions about how it won’t work or you have—

MELISSA: Oh, that’s always the first step.

LAURA: Right, it’s gonna fail.

MELISSA: “It can’t work. No, it will fail. I’m too old for that. I’m too young for that. I’m too short. Too tall. Too fat. Too whatever to make that work. It’s too late in my career cycle. It’s all the wrong people are there.” Right?

LAURA: It’s amazing.

MELISSA: A million assumptions that you don’t know. I think a good thing to think about is that it’s an experiment. And you can try and experiment for a few weeks or a few months and if it doesn’t work, that’s it. You’ve learned something from it but the world isn’t gonna end, like you said, if you do it the right way, not burn-the-ships type method, where you continue your career but just do these little experiments to see what you like and what you don’t like or what’s working for you and what isn’t.

LAURA: Yeah, it’s true in relationships as well, right? So people freak out and think, “Oh my god. I have to get a divorce out of nowhere,” and they just—or they have to move and they pack up and people want to feel better so they do these really extreme things. But that’s not going to change how you feel. You can change relationships ten times and it’s not to say sometimes it’s not a relationship that you need to leave. But you wanna get again clear with yourself so that when you change that relationship, when you change that job, when you move, you’re not just repeating the same cycle.

MELISSA: Yeah, because as they say, wherever you go, there you are.

LAURA: I was just gonna say that.

MELISSA: Exactly. And people just think, “Oh, I’ll have a change of scene and I’ll move here. I’ll move there or I’ll change apartments.” Like you said, divorce this one and get married to this one or change relationships. And a lot of the problem is still coming with you. You’re welded on baggage.

LAURA: Exactly. When you lose that baggage, you can actually start to create the life that matters to you.

MELISSA: Now, another thing you talk about is implementing ancient philosophy not as “useless rhetoric” as you say, but as a—I like this term that it comes after which is to use it as a flexible operating system. Now, that is definitely—I know a lot of people are gonna say “ancient philosophy” this is very woo-woo. No wonder she’s into yoga. But of course, ancient wisdom is ancient wisdom for a reason. There’s a lot of wisdom there and a lot of things that we ignore and just say well that was, you know, great in the first century. But it’s not working today in the modern world. And I would beg to differ with that myself because I have employed a lot of ideas from ancient philosophers. But a flexible operating system, that’s an interesting concept. What do you mean by a flexible operating system?

LAURA: Yeah, I mean, so to speak to your—first, it’s just that I have to say I’m the most anti-woo-woo person you’ll meet in your life, like what I came from is like some seriously Western home. My father’s a physician. I worked in healthcare and all of these ideas took me a really long time to get my mind around. But the idea of this operating system that these people have come up with for a long time came to me because the ancients have been questioning this idea of what makes a great life, what matters, right? How do you find fulfillment? And we live in modern society, people want to be happier. People are taking anti-anxieties and anti-depressants like crazy. People want to feel better. These answers have been solved for thousands of years, right? We just think it’s antiquated. So I went back into what the original thinkers thought about what a life with fulfillment, what a good life looks like. And what does that mean for a modern day operating system? What does that mean for us today? And it really hasn’t changed, right? It’s just that our world has changed. We function differently. We live in a different landscape but these same ideas are really applicable. So a lot of the stuff that I bring into the book and I care about, I didn’t make this up. People have been saying this since Plato all the way through the modern psychologists.

MELISSA: Yeah. I think that’s a really good way of looking at it because like you say, some of these issues or some of these ways of living have been solved for quite a long time but people just forget about it. And one of my big pet peeves in the modern world today is the mindlessness that technology allows us to sort of swim in. It’s just everybody is concerned with their screens and their devices and it’s really a way of just putting off dealing with everything we’ve talked about here today. It’s a way of going from one pleasurable situation to something equally mind-numbing, that will not let you sort of either meditate or contemplate what you might need to change in your own life to recover your health or improve your happiness or whatever you wanna do. It’s like, “Oh no. I’ve got to do this” or “I’ve got to take the kids to this practice now.” “We’ve gotta do this.” I mean, some of these schedules that people are on is like worse than a marathon. It’s like a triathlon every day. But then I could see the benefits to them, well, actually the anti-benefits but I see how they’re able to then postpone making any real decisions or any real life changes because they simply say things like “I’m just too busy. I can’t fit it in this schedule. I haven’t all that time to address that right now.”

LAURA: Mm-hmm. Exactly. And the truth is, you know, if you don’t take the time to address these things, you’re not going to feel better. And it’s not hard. I mean, the thing that I can’t express enough is it’s not that hard to feel better. You just have to take a few moments to check in with yourself and to do a little bit of work on where you are, where your emotional states are, what you’re thinking about and what you’re consuming your thoughts, what you’re thinking about in your mind. It impacts your mood.

MELISSA: I like the way you also say, “You can’t always trust your own thoughts.”

LAURA: Yeah.

MELISSA: Like we were talking about earlier, they can run the sabotage routine on you and just when you think you’re in good shape. But also, you have—you talk about a test to sort of determine the validity of your own voice. What’s that? What do you mean by that exactly?

LAURA: Yeah, so you’re talking about impostor thoughts and so what’s something that really hit me hard in this process was, “Oh my god, my own thoughts, the thoughts that I’m thinking that sound like me. That you’re using my voice.” Right? It doesn’t sound like my parents or that coach or whoever put it in my head. It sounds like me now. I don’t know that I can always test, sorry, I don’t know that I can always trust but those voices, the ones in my own head that sound like me are to be trusted, right? And I know that sounds a little out there but the truth is that we have these thoughts all day long. We never question where they come from and we never question whether or not they’re true, right? We just go along with them, no problem.

And sometimes, the things they’re thinking, they’re coming out of stress. They’re coming out of fear. They’re coming out of a learned value. And it’s really important not to take action from them. So I think it’s important to test the validity of your thoughts. So if you stop and you ask yourself, you know, how does this feel in my body? When your thoughts are impostor thoughts, one of the first things that happens is your natural intelligence of your body will start to kick in and you’ll feel bad. You’ll feel stressed. You’ll feel anxious. You’ll feel all sorts of things. That’s a really big indication that you may not wanna take action from that space.

MELISSA: Yeah, I think a really good example of this is people who are influenced—and everyone is—by ads and advertising and the five-second cure for everything possible what’s wrong with you. And I think about the ads on TV all the time and everywhere on the Internet, everywhere you go, you’re bombarded with ads that are like, “Oh, just take this pill and everything will be wonderful. You’ll have whatever is wrong with you, it’ll be solved.” And it’s so easy to just say, “Yeah, that’s what I need.” And when you go to the doctor say, “I just need this thing for more happiness or more sleep, or more this.” And pretty soon you’ve got seven medications and all it’s doing is just numbing and really having the opposite effect on your health and well-being. It’s actually dragging you down and it’s sort of setting you up for a really bad crash down the road.

LAURA: Yeah, and for anybody out there that’s a parent or who has had—remembers being a child, right? You say to your child, “Do you like pizza?” And they’re like, “yes.” “Are you sure you like pizza?” “Yes.” “Are you positive you like pizza?” And they’re like, “What is wrong with you?” And then you ask them the opposite, “Do you wanna go to the dentist today?” And then they’re like, “No!” They’re so honest about their feelings. And somewhere over time, we have all these thoughts. They don’t make us feel good and we won’t admit it anymore. And our solution, like you said, to take more pills, to stuff it down, to pretend like it’s okay when it’s really not. And there’s nothing wrong with saying, “No, I’m not okay with this. I’m not gonna do this. I need to make changes, right?” But we’ve accepted too many of the thoughts, too many of the justifications as truths.

MELISSA: Yeah, and I think the instant fix for everything, it’s just isn’t that simple, I’m sorry to say, folks, out there. But we’ve been led to believe, I think since World War II, what I call the “age of science” was unleashed on us and everybody thought, “Oh, everything now is scientific. It’s the newest thing. It’s all about what the astronauts are doing and eating. I mean, TV dinners, they must be great. The astronauts were eating them.” No. They weren’t. And the food companies sort of coattail on things like that and followed along with their advertising programs about things that they were gonna introduce which weren’t related to science, which were no way related to science, and weren’t good for people. But people thought, “Oh no, all this stuff that grandma and grandpa or great-grandma and grandpa did, that was all old stuff. That’s all passé. No, we have to be taking the latest pharmaceuticals and treating these things with the latest blah blah blah. Now, I’m not saying people shouldn’t take medicine because I have to take medicine myself, but I’m saying that we got into this whole multi-decade mindset of the pill will fix it-

LAURA: Absolutely.

MELISSA: -you know, the pharmaceutical product will fix it. And if it doesn’t, we’re mad. We’re mad at the doctor. What do you mean I can’t have Xanax? Are you kidding me? I need Xanax.

LAURA: Right. And we’re overwhelmed and we’re working so many hours and most people are commuting and it just feels like I can’t take the time in my life to spend on my health or for cooking or all these things. I think it’s very funny to think we use the word “organic” now, right? Because really, what we mean by organic is the food, how it used to be before you-

MELISSA: Before we wrecked it. Right before—

LAURA: Before we started getting easy fixes and frozen foods, right? It’s just organic means food, right? But often it’s not.

MELISSA: What to me is so insidious is how we went—how we made that transfer in our minds or how the advertising world did it. I’m not saying all advertising is bad, you know, it’s part of being in business. But it sort of transitioned us using science saying, “No, the frozen is better because it’s quicker, it’s easier, it’s healthier.” All these things that we sort of were told and then said “Yeah, it has to be so.” And why would we wanna pick vegetables from the garden. That’s a lot of work when we can just pull the frozen stuff out and eat it up? “Wee! We’re done.”

And it made people think it was good too because like you say it was less work. It was easier on the stress, for a mom, maybe kind of who is a mom and dad who are both working, and after we got to a certain point in the ‘60s or ‘70s, there were two jobs instead of moms staying home all the time, in many cases, I won’t say most. And it was like, yeah, we have to have—give us more TV dinners and more frozen stuff because we need it and put stuff in boxes too and where is that microwave? We need that. And we went down this road of going as far away from real food coming out of the ground and two feet or four feet. Then, we got going down this road of where everything was completely artificial. And suddenly, one day we woke up and go, uh-oh. Where did we go on this crazy journey?

LAURA: Mm-hmm. Exactly. And I think, you know, I’m a big fan of making my life easier. And I think there is nothing wrong with certain things. I mean, the heaters in our house to refrigerators, like there’s a bunch of stuff that had been created to make our life easier, and that’s great, right? But when has it gone too far and which things did we go full circle where we thought we’re making our life easier but we’ve in fact made it worse? And I think a lot of the food industry has put foods into our body that have made us sick and certainly made me sick and changing my diet completely transformed my health. And when it comes to taking care of our emotional states, right, pushing harder, faster, longer, sucking it up, not thinking about it. You know, it doesn’t work and over time all of us understand that sense of just feeling completely weighed down and overwhelmed. And that’s not the point of a good life.

MELISSA: Yeah, it’s almost the same as a diet, a restrictive diet which you can’t keep to. You just think you can white knuckle it. It’s the same emotionally, you can’t. It’s just gonna—eventually, the dam breaks and everything goes back to where it was mostly to a bad place. And then you try to reset and you just go back and repeat the same behavior again, if you’re like me, and say, “It will work this time, I’m sure. I’ll just do it more.”

LAURA: And I was one of those people. You know, I worked hard to see if I could shove the emotions down and keep going, right? But they have this really annoying way of popping up in new places or louder until, you know—

MELISSA: So you do something.

LAURA: Yeah, or your body tells you, you have to, right? So you either do it because you feel bad enough or you get motivated or you get stressed enough or sick enough that you have to make that change. So why put yourself through that?

MELISSA: Yeah, and it’s hard because I know that people that do take things to calm them down and help them sleep and all this stuff, they’re postponing the eventual dealing with it. And the problem is, and this was brought home to me personally because when I was first talking to my, what I call my “performance doctor,” who’s an integrative medicine doctor and a naturopath. He said, “You know, unfortunately,” he said, “People that get to a certain point in their life, their either so sick or they’ve wrecked their health so much that they’re at this very knife-edge tipping point where they’re either gonna tip one way and never be able to regain their health and just get sicker and sicker, and sicker and eventually die or they’re gonna tip the either way and be able to slowly claw their way back and restore their health. But he said that tipping point is so minute. It’s so fragile and if they don’t have the emotional strength to just push themselves to the one side, the good side, as opposed to the dark side, he said it was very depressing because he saw a lot of patients that just didn’t do that, or they didn’t have the emotional fortitude to do it. And he was sad to see them get sicker and sicker and really go to an early grave rather than have many more years of vibrant health as an older person.

LAURA: Yeah, I think it’s really important to work in tandem. We’ve got to keep our physical lives in shape and we need to work on our emotional lives. And I think until you understand that these things were born to be both physical beings and emotional beings, and we need to think about how they work in tandem to have a life that makes us happy and yeah, it’s great that the doctors can also help us claw our way back, as you say. How much better would it be if you didn’t get there in the first place?

MELISSA: Right. That’s my motto. I’m on the claw side at the moment but I’ve clawed my way quite a ways back and I must say, it would have been a lot easier if I had done something 15 or 20 years ago.

LAURA: Yeah, but we’re not taught, right? I mean, we’re taught some of these classes in high school, it’s sort of shocking what value they have in my life, but life design or nutritious eating, like these things are not taught. So how do you learn them?

MELISSA: Yeah, I’m hoping. I’m really encouraged because I feel that since I got started back in 2013 that the Internet has really helped get information out there. Now, there’s a lot of bad information out there too but there is a tremendous amount of well-credentialed people out there that are sharing their message and doctors, Dr. Mark Hyman and people like that that just have way bigger presence and reach than they ever had before. And I remember him back in Massachusetts there when he had put out his first book or one of his first books that I think was UltraPrevention. And I read it and I said “Yeah, this sounds like exactly what I need.” And then I just said, “But it’s too hard.” Then I always look back to that because I thought if I had actually consulted him then and followed what he put in the book, I would have spared myself all the grief that I had coming forward for the next 10 years or 15 years. But I didn’t have the courage or the oomph to just say, “Okay, I’m gonna follow what he says. I’m gonna get a consult with him.” And at that time, he was at the Canyon Ranch, I believe, so you had to be a patient at the Canyon Ranch. You couldn’t see outside people yet. He was about to, but he couldn’t. And I said, “Oh gee.” And I just don’t think I can go to Canyon Ranch, a little too pricey for me there. But today, I would have paid that in a second. Yeah, I would have put it on a credit card that said, “I’m here for the week, doc, and you better talk to me.” It was amazing, the work he did there and he was just about getting ready at that time. I think it was around 2000 to open his own clinic in Lenox. And I just kicked myself when I looked back. So I think, you know, don’t ever let that happen again, Melissa.

LAURA: But again, like I think it’s sort of amazing, like we spend so much on college or cars or all sorts of things that we have accepted as pedicures, manicures, haircuts-

MELISSA: As-needed stuff.

LAURA: Yeah, and absolutely critical. And you’re right. It’s great. It takes work to do these things but it’s also a lot of work to go get a manicure in a real basis or get that hair touched up all the time, right? Just these different things with you. And it’s just interesting how we segment out and say, “I’m willing to do this work, but I’m not willing to do that work.” And it’s sad that the work for the most important parts of our body and our emotional lives, you know, is seen as something that you shouldn’t have to do.

MELISSA: Yeah.

LAURA: And they teach them PE and like they’re supposed to get in shape but there is no emotional workout in our lives. And so I think dedicating a few minutes a day to just checking in with yourself, where are you? How do you feel? Are you stressed, anxious? What’s on your mind? What negative thought is looping and looping and looping, weighing you down and trying to make the changes to move past those thoughts in such an important part of daily ritual.

MELISSA: Yeah, for sure. Well, Laura, we’re just about out of time but I wanna let people know where they can find you online because I’m sure they’re gonna want more information. What is your website?

LAURA: Yeah, so you can find me at www.emotionalobesity.com or www.lauracoe.com, or Twitter, @LauraSCoe.

MELISSA: Okay. And we’ll put links in the show notes to your website and your book which is available on Amazon, in—is it available in Kindle?

LAURA: Yes.

MELISSA: Okay, cool. So if anything’s on Kindle. I’m like, “People, you gotta get it,” because there’s just no reason not to. But it has a lot of great information in there, like you said, and also your quiz. We’ll put a link to that little helpful quiz on your site and yeah, I think people should definitely get the book and also go to your website because there’s a ton of information there right on the homepage. All easy to access which kind of runs you through some of the things we’ve just touched on today, but it gives you a good outline to kind of set yourself up to do some of these things. And as I said, it’s my belief that if you don’t address these issues, you, down the road, won’t have continued success in recovering your health.

LAURA: Yeah, I appreciate that. And thank you so much for having me on.

MELISSA: Great. It’s been great talking to you.

LAURA: Great talking to you too.

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