Michelle Tubman 04:42
Cassie, welcome to the mindful weight loss podcast.
Cassie Christopher 04:45
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited for this conversation.
Michelle Tubman 04:49
I am also so excited for this conversation because you and I have spoken privately about this. The term body positivity and health at every size is everywhere you look in the diet industry today. We all often talk about diet culture and the harms that have given all of us who struggled with weight. It leaves us with this very gray area of where does a woman who wants to lose weight fit into all of this and how do we navigate the waters? From our perspective, Cassie, it seems to be one or the other. You're either offering diet culture type weight loss programs, where it's meal plans, restriction, deprivation, suffering and all of the things that we think we need to do to actually lose weight. While on the other end of the spectrum, we have body positivity, intuitive eating, health at every size, all of these things that maybe intentionally, or maybe not, give the message that we're doing something wrong if we're actually trying to lose weight. I think what we would like to argue about today is that there’s a middle ground where we can get women to a place where they feel great and are healthy without going to that place of restriction, deprivation, suffering, diet culture stuff and embracing our bodies. Allowing room for the change that we want to see in ourselves. So today, Cassie, I thought you and I could have a discussion about what all of this means and hopefully give listeners a better sense of a place they can find to be at home when they want to lose weight.
Cassie Christopher 06:45
Yeah, I love that. I think recognizing there are a lot of reasons why women may want to be losing weight, men as well. Oftentimes there's a conflict whether or not people have to lose weight in order to be healthy, whether they have to see the scale change and whether it's possible to see that scale change long term. There's a lot of questions there but whether or not those things are true, I just want to point out that we have to hold people's hopes and dreams for themselves with a lot of compassion and grace. A lot of the clients that I work with grew up hearing and believing from a very young age that they would not be loved by others unless they were fitting into that thin ideal. So they may be doing the work to unpack that but are struggling with PTSD related to early scarring that they may have had around body types. It can be hard for people to say, “I want to not care about the number on the scale anymore when it comes to how I look.” Then of course, there's many women who will say I don't care about the mirror or the scale, but my knees really hurt. Or they’ll say It's not as comfortable to go up the stairs, my feet really hurt, my clothes aren't fitting, I've got all these clothes that I love, and they don't fit anymore after gaining some weight in menopause or because of the pandemic or whatever. So it feels to me, like these extremes of having to be tiny, white and toned is what diet culture tells us to be, which is racist, ableist and ageist. Something that you’ve mentioned before, I wanted to bring up is that it’s so all or nothing and there has to be some middle ground and that's why I'm so excited for this conversation with you today.
Michelle Tubman 09:25
Agreed and I can echo so much of what you said in there too Cassie. I have clients whose parents started taking them to weight watchers at seven years old, and they're now in their 40s, full functioning, often very successful adults who are carrying all of this baggage and not necessarily understanding that there is a different way to approach all of that. When you have a 40 plus year history of being told that you are not enough at the weight that you're at, it can be difficult to believe otherwise. What is a seven year old brain going to interpret when mom takes you to weight watchers and says “you have to watch what you eat”. You’ll think you're getting chubby, right? I mean, a seven year old brain is going to take that in and that's the paradigm you're going to grow up believing about yourself and your world. So I think this might be a good time to discuss what we mean when we say body positivity, health at every size, intuitive eating, and all of these terms that are being thrown around out there as alternatives to the diet culture. Why don't we start with body positivity? How would you define that in terms of the movement that we're seeing out there?
Cassie Christopher 10:44
Yeah, and two more things I want to add before we get into it, is non diet and mindful eating. These are all buzzwords that are in the same category. Body positivity is the idea that you can be positive about your body no matter its size, and it really is at its core a wonderful idea. I know from hearing some of my friends, who are in health at every size community, they feel that body positivity has been hijacked. Now anyone can post about body positivity where initially it was meant to empower women in larger bodies. There's controversy within body positivity circles about what it means and who it's for, certainly for everyone. For people who need to see others in different body shapes, can go to Instagram and type in the hashtag body positivity to get some examples. Which can be helpful because we're usually surrounded by more of that thin ideal that I mentioned earlier.
Michelle Tubman 12:03
I'd like to also add, we often talk to women who are living in objectively bigger bodies but there are also many women out there who are living in objectively smaller bodies, yet feel as though they're in a bigger body and have some weight to lose. I think I know what you're saying about the origins of the body positivity movement, but I think there is some value in teaching women to celebrate their body no matter its shape, size, height, color, and whatever it is. I think one of the things that often comes up that we just throw around is the term body positivity, this concept of self love and loving your body as it is. I just want to put it out there and say I have met very few women, in any size, who love their bodies entirely. I think it's important that we work on self acceptance, accepting the body that we're in, but not excluding the desire to also want to make some changes.
Cassie Christopher 13:17
Yeah, and to recognize that some days the goal may be body neutrality, just feeling meh about your body is okay, rather than looking in the mirror and wanting to scream about how amazing everything is. We have to remember that it's valid for people to feel uncomfortable about their bodies. Validate that emotion, you're not alone. My community knows I'm obsessed with Brene Brown's Atlas of the heart.
Michelle Tubman 14:04
Me too! I love that book.
Cassie Christopher 14:09
One thing that stood out to me in whichever chapter, talked about how we feel social rejection in the same place in our brain as we feel physical pain. So our body experiences that social pain similarly to physical pain. It makes sense that we would want to protect ourselves from social rejection based on our bodies, and it's okay that you feel that way.
Michelle Tubman 14:41
To also take that one step further, you and I have both experienced with our clients this feeling of being shamed by body positivity or health at every size groups for wanting to lose weight and make changes to their health or their body. That is just another example of social rejection. Both of our programs try to create this safe space where women can come with all of their thoughts and feelings about their bodies, where they are now, and where they want to be. This safe space where we can work through all of that together.
Cassie Christopher 15:28
Yes, there’s a safe space for everyone. Let's define health at every size since we've thrown that term around a lot. You can find information on the website for the association of size, diversity and health that talks about specific principles. There's five principles to health at every size, the first is weight inclusivity meaning don't pathologize certain weights. Be inclusive of all weights, respectful, and care to end size based, and other types of discrimination. We were talking about weight stigma in the medical profession and registered dieticians, there's research to show that they are advocating and shedding light here. Health enhancement is the third point where they follow health policies that support holistic health. The fourth is eating for wellbeing rather than weight control. Lastly, life enhancing movement, so supporting everyone to move their bodies not just moving for the sake of weight loss but to feel good and care for oneself. So at face value, really wonderful principals. I think where you and I don't agree with health at every size points, is that they have looked and said “research related to weight is often more correlation rather than causation”. Meaning weight doesn't necessarily cause these issues, it correlates more when we're talking about disease, mortality, or health implications due to weight that we typically think of.
Michelle Tubman 17:40
Yeah, agreed. It's hard to argue with any of those pillars of health and every size movement. The research with weight, and the cause and effects of obesity can be very difficult to navigate through. We know for sure that carrying extra weight is a risk factor for many things such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, chronic pain, sleep apnea, mood disorders that includes depression and anxiety. Along with digestive problems, GERD, heartburn, and it may affect fertility in women. It can also cause pelvic floor problems, as well as incontinence for women and testosterone problems in men. There are actually rules of science that suggest obesity to be a risk factor for many health problems. Now, all of those things that I mentioned are complex processes in the human body. There is no one single causal factor but for instance, nobody really argues with the need to look at your intake if you have high blood pressure. We only have association and not causation in terms of the relationship between salt and high blood pressure. Right?
Cassie Christopher 19:16
I was gonna say Michelle, people do argue that. As a dietitian I can tell you, but keep going.
Michelle Tubman 19:26
The point is, many factors contribute to a person developing high blood pressure, obesity is just one. So does this mean every person carrying extra weight is going to develop high blood pressure, or fertility problems, or diabetes? No, absolutely not. This doesn't mean people who have a normal BMI, as per medical standards, will not develop these things. No, of course not but if your weight is contributing to these things, it may mean you're not healthy at that particular weight. The research in terms of causation may not be robust out there in the medical literature. What we do know for sure, is that losing between five to ten percent of your body weight can reduce, not just your risk, but can actually reverse some of these diseases if you have them. Which is pretty profound and I think it's very difficult to argue against the fact that obesity is contributing to these diseases.
Cassie Christopher 20:39
I hear that Michelle and to play devil's advocate because I can't help it, it's the behaviors too. It is hard to tease out the behaviors that lead to weight loss from the weight loss itself. In my work with women, I encourage them to focus on the things that you're doing that make you feel good, rather than that number on the scale necessarily every day or every week, because you have control over your behaviors. Sometimes because of these complex medical processes that you're talking about, we can't exactly control that five to ten percent that is going to happen even when we're doing all the things within our control, short of crazy diet culture stuff such as starving yourself.
Michelle Tubman 21:34
I agree completely with that. That's why in my programs, we don't talk about a goal weight instead we use the language, ideal weight. How we define that at wayza is that you feel good, healthy, energetic, as well as you're metabolically healthy, and it all involves a lifestyle that feels natural for you. Something that you can keep up without much difficulty over the long term. There isn't even a number, a percentage weight loss, a BMI, or anything associated with how we define success in my programming. That's why the health at every size movement has that stipulation of eating for health rather than for weight loss. I think that is crucial, in fact, I can get completely behind the concept of teaching people behaviors to feel healthier, to feel more vibrant and energetic rather than eating to see a change on the scale. It just so happens that when you do that, we often see weight loss come along with it. I think there's also something to be said about the mindset that comes along with making decisions around food and movement based on how it makes you feel versus how it’s going to affect the scale at the end of the day.
Cassie Christopher 23:04
I love that. I love hearing about your philosophy, that's why I have so much fun talking to you, Michelle. I see so many similarities between what you're talking about and the work that I'm doing. One of my four pillars of my courage to trust methodology is listening to yourself and really connecting with what is it that your body is asking you for? What is it that you need? Often when we're focused on that all or nothing dieting, we're either doing something perfectly or we're not doing it all. Things like the yo-yo dieting, the weight cycling back and forth, the old way of doing things leads us to get disconnected from our bodies because we're using things like the scale, apps, and meal plans to tell us whether we're on track, or we're doing a good job, rather than are we full? Are we hungry? Are we feeling good in our bodies? How is it that we want to feel? How can we get there? I see that connection between listening to yourself and really identifying what success means for you, rather than using some outside metric.
Michelle Tubman 24:13
Agreed completely. In our programs, step one in the nourish yourself program is to actually stop counting calories, counting points, and counting macros. You take the carb manager off your phone because there is no more of that. This is a nice segue back into diet culture because today when we're trying to encourage health, this ideal weight concept that I spoke of earlier, has to start with unwinding some of the trauma done by the diet culture and diet industry over the years. The health and every size movement has done a good job of starting to change the narrative around all of that, for sure. The dark side to health and every size movement is similar to any controversial idea out there. There are people who take it a little bit too far. I have heard loads of stories from clients who have chosen to believe that despite their health problems such as joint pain, metabolic syndrome, fertility problems, inability to sleep well at night and all sorts of things, to come to the conclusion that their weight has nothing to do with it. Choosing to ignore it and become more unhappy until they realize they have to do something to change their health. It becomes something other than weight. I think it's easy for women to use health at every size as an excuse to ignore some of the health problems that they are having.
Cassie Christopher 25:59
Yeah, and I think health at every size people would say maybe that person doesn't have a full understanding because yes, health is in there,in those four or five principles, I shared. I agree with you in that sometimes people just take a sentence that you said or a snippet of the message, then full on live that way. It's on us as the message bearers to try to communicate as clearly as we can. Part of it comes down to this seemingly mutually exclusive, dichotomous relationship where how can you love yourself and also want to change? I think we have it in our heads that if we accept our bodies the way that we are and we work towards loving ourselves, we can't just snap our fingers. There's a lot of baggage to sort through. How can we do that and also try to change our health behaviors or try to lose weight these kinds of things. That again is the all or nothing, that black and white thinking and it’s not real because in reality, we can hold space for all of it. A great example is Dr. Kristin Neff, last year she came out with her book fierce ‘Self Compassion’, she likens this compassion that we have for ourselves to being a mama bear. I use self compassion in my work with people, it's a second of the four courage to try pillars. People often are like “if I'm nice to myself, aren't I just going to give myself a blank check to eat?”. No, true self compassion along with self acceptance awakens that inner mama bear. You care for yourself the best way you can, to give yourself the best chance of success. We need our inner mama bears woken up and I can feel myself going off on a tangent. I'll come back around I promise. Women will tell me how they often feel like there is a rebellious preschooler living inside of them saying “I don't want to eat this food”, and then I go eat it. First of all, there's biological reasons for that dopamine gives you more motivation when you're on a forbidden foods list. I won't get into that. That rebellious preschooler is actually your mama bear. That is your mama bear deep inside going, something isn't right here. This isn't all that I'm meant for. I really believe that this journey towards health, weight loss, health at every size, if what we're talking about, sounds amazing to you, great! Go do it. Go look after it even if it's the thing that we're teaching. I don't think harm necessarily is going to be done to you when you're actually following the principles the way that they're meant to be followed. As long as you're not feeling shamed and you're not feeling bad, you know? We need to awaken our inner mama bears to do what's best for ourselves. I really believe that everyone can get to a place where they trust themselves around food. It just takes some work and some unlearning of this diet culture stuff lately.
Michelle Tubman 29:43
Absolutely. I always like to talk about it in terms of showing up for yourself and having your own back. There was this silly little book called ‘Love yourself, like your life depends on it’. The one thing that I took out of this silly little book was this sentence where the author got into the habit of asking himself “if I truly loved myself, if I really cared about myself, what would I do in this moment?”. I think that's such a beautiful question to ask yourself when you are in one of those food struggles, when you want the cookie but you don't want the cookie. Asking yourself if I really loved myself, what would I do in this moment? If I really loved myself and say no to this cookie, what is it that I really need to give myself right now. I think that's the very definition of self compassion, as well. Right? I think that is the biggest and most crucial part when it comes to weight loss because I'm sure this is true for a lot of your clients. Maybe not, you approach this as a dietician, I approach this as a coach but many of my clients know how to eat well. If I were to ask them “can you write me down a healthy meal plan for today?”, nobody would have problems doing that. In fact, many of my clients will say “it's like my breakfast, lunch and dinner are perfect”. It’s everything that happens in between, then the evenings, which is where I struggle. This comes back to what we started at the beginning of this episode, talking about women who grew up as young girls carrying certain messages about how they think their body should look and how they should eat. You're carrying around all of that. There is the dopamine reward system going on in the brain that is perpetuated by processed foods and all of the other stuff. There's so much unwinding that we have to do to really understand why we can't trust ourselves around food and why we're relating to food in a way that doesn't feel comfortable to ourselves. We've got to navigate ourselves through that before we can do anything else.
Cassie Christopher 32:13
Wow, I just love that Michelle. So comforting, honestly, I'm a feeler and my entry into this world was with emotional eating. When you said that I felt good, peaceful and calming. There is hope. The one thing I want to say for people who are like “okay, Michelle, really?”, in the middle of reaching for the cookie when I have that primal need to reach I'm going to think about some quote.
Michelle Tubman 32:47
Well, no, there's practices that have to go around all of this. One of the terms that we wanted to talk about was mindful eating. Mindfulness, in general as a concept, is important here because of course, you can't just snap your fingers and remove your head like most of us. I know because I'm a lifetime emotional eater, as well. You don't realize you're doing it until the bag of chips is halfway gone. There's all sorts of work that needs to be done around awareness. In wayza health we do so much journaling around what we're thinking and what we're feeling about these circumstances. Once you get some awareness of how you're using food, why you're using food, and when you tend to use food, then we're able to utilize some strategies to catch ourselves before our hand is in the cookie jar, so to speak.
Cassie Christopher 33:55
I love everything you're saying and what I think of, is something I often say, the goal isn't to stop yourself from putting your hand in the cookie jar at that moment. The goal is to take such good care of yourself that you don't even get the impulse to put your hand in the cookie jar.
Michelle Tubman 34:22
Yes, absolutely. I think this might be a great segue into talking about intuitive eating and mindful eating. These things sound very attractive but to somebody who has disordered eating at baseline, it's murky waters. So let's talk about the definition of intuitive eating and mindful eating, take it from there.
Cassie Christopher 34:54
Sure, mindful eating certainly is applying some of the same principles we've talked about, with that awareness and recognition with what's going on around you to food. A famous textbook type mindful eating exercise is with a raisin or Hershey's Kisses. Stick it on your tongue, go through the five senses, smell it, taste it, all of that. I tell my clients to savor your food, give yourself permission to eat it, and then savor it. That is part of something you can get from mindful eating. How would you define intuitive eating Michelle?
Michelle Tubman 35:39
Before we go there, I just want to go back to mindful eating and say how powerful it can actually be as a tool. One of the things I teach my clients to do is try to sit down with most meals and eat without distraction. You’re able to pay attention to how you're feeling, how your food is tasting, what the experience of eating is and when you're satisfied. Important. One of the tools that we use to start to unwind, diet culture trauma, is what I call “joy eat”, which we do every week in my program. This is where you take a food that you love, that would have been on your forbidden list back in your old diet days, and you sit down and enjoy every single bite. On times when clients feel particularly motivated, we call it the tedious powerful process because it is tedious and powerful. You sit down and journal about the experience of every bite and just notice what happens as you go through. People will often have quite profound insights into their relationship with that particular food item when they go through this process. I never teach people to do anything all of the time. I think that's an impossible ideal to reach for in exercises into mindful eating. To segue back into intuitive eating, I have not done a ton of reading around this only because I am a woman in a bigger body, who has had a disordered relationship with food in the past and had an eating disorder. I get triggered when I read some of this stuff, so I'll ask my clients all the time “what do you think intuitive eating is?”. They'll say, eating whatever I want, whenever I want. Right? I think that is the lay person's interpretation of intuitive eating. In reality, a lot of the concepts we're discussing here are part of the intuitive eating package. I would love to hear your definition of intuitive eating and your experience with it as well. I find I still get quite triggered when I think about it.
Cassie Christopher 38:20
Yeah, I think what you said about the lay person's view of eating whatever I want, whenever I want, comes from the original intuitive eating book that came out I think in 1995. The original writers of that are still going strong and sharing their body of work. One of the first few chapters, they recommend giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. I think really what it is teaching you is how that actually doesn't feel good. When you're listening to your body, you might notice “wow, that really doesn't feel good”. Then over time, the idea is you'll start to notice that you actually want some quinoa, some carrots, or what have you. The goal someday is to be able to eat based on your cues, but your body and your mindset has to be very healed to take the amount of trust with yourself to be able to make consistently healthy choices that way. You have to do a lot of work around unlearning these diet culture things, calming your nervous system because that diet culture trauma ramps up the nervous system, and starving yourself ramps up the nervous system. You mentioned earlier, how women can make their own eating plans, and yes, I think people do know what to do but they don't generally eat enough food. They're skipping meals and not eating frequently enough which is causing the nervous system to feel very on edge. When your nervous system is on edge, you're having more of the stress hormone cortisol, causing more of these cravings, you're reaching for. You really can't intuitively eat until you calm your nervous system. What do you know, that's the first pillar of my courage to trust method and it goes hand in hand with self compassion. Which I talked about earlier, because then your kindness to yourself calms the thoughts of self criticism that can also ramp up your nervous system. Create a safe space within your body to feel your emotion so you don't have to reach for food. A lot of that is included in the 10 principles of intuitive eating, people can just type that into Google to find them. One of them is to cope with your emotions with kindness, respect your body, honor your health with gentle nutrition. A lot of these concepts that we're talking about really involve intuitive eating and yet in my work with people, I find that it feels a lot more comfortable when we can calm the nervous system. Heal that diet culture shenanigans that have made things go astray. Deal with some of the mindset issues, and I know that that's your specialty as well, so that people can feel safe enough to listen to themselves. My third principle of the courage to trust method, is to listen to themselves so that they can tell what they need, when they're full, when they're hungry, and then they get the courage to trust. They’ll have the ability to trust themselves when they are full that they can stop. I love intuitive eating. I love mindfully eating. I love how you called them tools, skills could also be another way to describe it. In my work with people I would say it's not the starting place, it's more the goal. The long term goal that we're working towards because we live in a world where you can't do everything all the time. We have to recognize their slow progress. Intuitive eating was created by dieticians, but now everyone has their own take on it. Often I will see coaches, well meaning coaches, recommending things for people to eat even if it doesn't help them balance their blood sugar, or doesn't help them eat regularly. That's harming the nervous system even more. I'm a little skeptical of the implementation, probably more than the process itself.
Michelle Tubman 43:08
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you just said in regards to intuitive eating. I like looking at it as maybe a goal for down the road, rather than something to try to do right now. Especially if you have been cyclical dieting for decades on end, and have that diet trauma still living alive inside you. Intuitive eating isn't possible until you heal all of those pieces of yourself. We've spoken a lot about the role the nervous system plays in all of this, and I love teaching about that in my programs. One of the things I love to talk about most is our brain having two different systems. We've got the primitive brain, which is where a lot of the whole dopamine stuff happens, where habits are formed, and where all of this stuff that we carry forward from childhood are stored. Then we've got the prefrontal cortex that is actually able to make decisions, to deliberate and weigh pros and cons and decide. The truth of it is many of us are eating according to that primitive brain. I like to call that primitive brain similar to a sleazy car salesman, because it'll say whatever it has to say, to get you to do the thing that it thinks is going to keep you safe. We have to work with that part of the brain and understand that there's some reasons why we might have urges to eat a certain way and it's not our fault. There's lots of self judgment, and again, this comes from diet culture. How does our culture in general view people living in bigger bodies? That we're lazy, that we lack discipline, or that we don't have any willpower and self control? All of these things, which anybody who has extra weight knows are so not true. We carry a lot of that as women carrying extra weight because it's all that we hear out there in the world. One of the things that I love about this new movement towards health at every size and body acceptances is that we're now giving a voice to people who live in bigger bodies. We're starting to be able to change the narrative on what this all means and address the stigmatization that people and overweight bodies experience. I read a stat, let me think for a second what was it I can't remember, it's gone. We'll have to come back to that, I forgot the exact number. They've done several studies, mostly in the world of medicine for how people in bigger bodies are treated by health care professionals. Weight discrimination is more prevalent than discrimination based on race, gender or age. I forget the actual number, but it absolutely floored me to read this. You had mentioned before of being aware of your privilege of not having to be on the receiving end of weight discrimination, but I have right my whole life. I have been overweight and I have heard all of the things. In fact, in my first podcast episode, I talked about my dating history and the things that men have said to me in regards to my weight. The things that I still hear, day to day. People make assumptions that I am lazy because I'm fat, and I'll tell you I am a full time practicing emergency physician. I'm the chief of my department, I run a business and I am anything but lazy. I was up at 5:30 this morning to be at the gym for 6. I am absolutely not the definition of lazy and yet this is still how I'm seen by a large proportion of the population. I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think our job is, as healthcare professionals, to start to educate the public and people within our professions about the realities of living in a bigger body.
Cassie Christopher 47:58
Oh, I love that and I appreciate you sharing your experience. I mentioned, I think it was off camera, that part of my frustration with health at every size is that it can be a movement that's really rooted in advocacy. That is wonderful, but hard to implement with my clients. Health at every size believes that pursuing weight loss in any form is harmful. I don't believe as a white woman who is living in a larger body, but for most of my life that was not the case. So I don't have those same experiences and there's a lot of privilege there. Recognizing that I think in all of us, the places that we have privilege are really important. For me, it's a tricky thing to talk about weight loss because my clients want weight loss. Certainly for most people, I can help them lose weight. My method is really to work on creating a supportive relationship with food, body and health so that you can eat with joy rather than eating to seek joy. Once you're in a place where you trust yourself around food and you're eating with joy, you can number one, you likely will have lost weight. In my experience when you're following my methodology. The fourth piece of courage to trust is boosting your metabolism.
Michelle Tubman 49:36
We've got all four now.
Cassie Christopher 49:40
You’ve got all four, you’ve collected them all. The point here being when you're boosting your metabolism, you're likely going to be losing weight. When you don't, then you can look and see what's going on. Are there thyroid issues? Are there gut issues? Is there inflammation? You can work towards treating that whether it be together, or with another health care provider. When you have that supportive relationship with food, you're able to trust yourself to make the choices that are going to be good. Maybe even try some of those dieting strategies that would have been harmful before, from a stronger foundation of feeling good in your body and knowing what's good for you. Or maybe not, maybe you realize going after dieting isn't good for you, right? Once you have that supportive relationship with your body and food, you can make that choice. Back to your question when I'm talking about weight loss, I'm carrying all of that with me. I just tried to make sure that I'm not telling people they have to lose weight. That they can't love themselves until they lose weight because that's not true. Let's love ourselves now. Out of that we can decide what the best next step is.
Michelle Tubman 51:09
Of course, I also have trouble marketing. I'm guessing you're gonna be able to relate to this because neither of us really sell weight loss. Right? We sell health, we sell learning how to listen to your body, we sell healing your emotional issues around food, and we sell healing the metabolism. Rebalancing the ghrelin and leptin and all of the other hormones. Addressing all of these things that have weight loss as a side effect, but that's not the absolute goal. Unfortunately, we're still in society at this point where it's difficult to get people on board with this process. Women who are living in bigger bodies that want to lose weight either want to lose it because they think they have to. That they’ll have value in society when they do, or to find love, to get their job promotion, or whatever it is. They're called to the diet industry because they're offering quick fixes or fast fixes. Things that you've heard over and over again in popular media that sound familiar. Here you and I, and other coaches like us, are offering this alternative pathway that is so much more than weight loss. How the hell do you market that to people who just want to lose 10 pounds, right?
Cassie Christopher 52:45
Yes, exactly. Good question. If you find out the answer, let me know.
Michelle Tubman 52:51
I think that's what we're trying to offer here, right? We're trying to show women that first of all, it's not their fault that they're in a bigger body. There are so many things that are happening on a personal level and at a cultural level. Never mind what the food industry is doing and the types of foods that are most convenient and available for us to get. I mean, all of these things, it's very complex, right? Women have to understand that it's not their fault, that they're in a bigger body. We've got to address all of those things that lead to it and so it's not weight loss that we're offering. It's not a diet that we're offering. Is it an un diet? That's the last definition. What are your thoughts on the diet?
Cassie Christopher 53:54
Um, I think on diet, non diet and anti diet that all of these terms I personally am like “yeah, hey, I'm in your camp. I'm in your health at every size. I'm in your on diet camp. I'm in your intuitive eating camp.” I would love to camp with y'all but the truth is those people don't want me. They don't want me because I'm open to helping people lose weight. I believe I'm doing it in a compassionate way, that I'm not perpetuating harm from diet culture. I truly believe I’m not doing harm and yet there are those who believe that anytime you're pursuing weight loss or helping others pursue weight loss, you're doing harm. Those circles reject me in the work I'm doing and that's okay. I don't have a chip on my shoulder about it. I see where they're coming from. I see how they're serving people in a way that needs to be served, again, I think it does come back to privilege. I don't need to say all dieting is harmful but that has not been my experience as a dietician, as a practitioner, and as a person living in my own body. I choose not to diet and I actually don't put people on diets. It's more of the intuitive eating side of things and yet I am a practitioner with the word diet in my name, I'm a registered dietitian.
Michelle Tubman 55:38
Right. I can say from my point of view as a woman, who is still classified by my doctor, and I hate this term. I'm doing everything I can to have it eliminated from the medical lexicon ‘morbidly obese’. That is how I am described by my family physician in my medical records. I have definitely been traumatized by the diet industry. There is not a method out there to lose weight that I have not tried, aside from weight loss medications and surgery. I've never never gone down that road. I don't intend to. That's a whole other different discussion, but the methods that I have learned and that I now teach is feel, kind, and gentle. People in my life notice a difference in my whole demeanor. Who cares what my body looks like? I'm a happier human being. I'm more fulfilled in my life. I have a closer relationship with my husband. I'm getting promoted at work, wonderful things are happening. Through the work that I teach because I do everything that I teach. I have just come to this place where I'm able to see myself a little bit more clearly. I'm in a place where I can now start to make healthier decisions for myself and I have never felt healthier in body, mind and spirit. I don't believe that I'm doing harm to anybody either by teaching the tools that I teach. Cassie, I think that was the whole point of wanting to have this discussion today. To show that there is this middle ground.
Cassie Christopher 57:26
There is a middle ground between the all or nothing dieting and diet culture. Where you have to be small in order to be happy and healthy, or you have to not care about your weight at all in order to be happy and healthy. We're saying there's a way forward that works for you. I think that what we're advocating is more of a customized, personalized solution of really deciding what feels good to you, what feels good in your body, what works for you, and what works for your body. Living into that because that's what brings joy and eating with joy. Rather than either feeling restricted on the one hand, or feeling like you're afraid you're going to go hog wild on the other hand. There is a place where you can learn to trust yourself and still make those consistently healthy choices and feel good in your body.
Michelle Tubman 58:25
Amen to that. Brilliant. Cassie, I think that is a perfect place to tie this off. I think what we've accomplished here today is really explaining all of the terms that are thrown out there in the weight loss world. We've shown that perhaps this all or nothing thinking, in terms of either doing the diet culture where you're restricting, depriving, and suffering versus the other end of the spectrum where you just don't care that there is this very beautiful, healthy, and welcoming place that promotes true health in the full sense of the word in the middle. That's where you and I are trying to operate. Come join us, everyone join us. Cassie, if people do want to come join you and learn more about the four pillars that we've heard, interspersed throughout all of this, where can listeners find you?
Cassie Christopher 59:26
Oh, well, thank you. Folks can go to Cassiechristopher.net/free and they can grab my emotional eating roadmap. It's called ‘you're done dieting, but still want to heal emotional eating’, or you can join my private Facebook group the ‘emotional eating and women's wellness community’. Type that into the search bar on facebook, and you'll find me. I would love to chat with you there or I'd love for you to take a look at that roadmap and get some help.
Michelle Tubman 59:56
Excellent. I am going to join that Facebook group.
Cassie Christopher 59:59
Please do. Yeah, let’s promote this podcast.
Michelle Tubman 1:00:03
I will see you there. Cassie, thank you so much. Do you have any last words of wisdom that you'd like to share before we sign off?
Cassie Christopher 1:00:11
You know what, I wrote down something you said at some point, the word kind in capital letters and circled it, that spoke to me. Something I've been saying to myself when I notice my own body negative thoughts come up, or beating myself up for not doing something that I preach, whatever it may be, I'm saying to myself “may I be kind”. That's made a big difference for me and I offer that to the audience. Whatever you do for yourself, may it be something that is kind. You can borrow that phrase, I got it from Dr. Kristin Neff.
Michelle Tubman 1:00:48
Sure did get it from Kristin Neff. I use that one too. Yes, wonderful. I love it. Thank you so much, Cassie.