Episode 137 Show Notes
Prioritise self-care through meditation - Start with just a few minutes and gradually increase to 30 minutes. This approach can positively impact both our physiology and psychology. Work along with our 30 day Mindful Meditation program to help you reach your goals.
Click here if you'd like to know more about our mindfulness program
Real health and weight loss require addressing both the physiology and psychology - Focusing solely on one or the other is insufficient. Combining knowledge of low-carb eating with self-acceptance and mind management techniques for emotional eating is key to sustainable weight loss.
Toxic diet culture can be damaging - it leads to negative self-talk, self-blame, and loss of motivation. Shift focus from weight loss to overall health and well-being, celebrate the joy of movement and nourishing our bodies, and promote self-compassion and mind management.
Healing our bodies and minds takes time and effort - There is no magic shortcut to health and happiness. Nourish your body with healthy low-carb real food and manage your psychology by examining your thoughts and behaviours around food.
Be your own compassionate scientist - Achieve this by setting small goals, reviewing progress without judgement, and learning from experiences, regardless of the outcome. Embrace experimentation and keep moving forward with kindness and empathy towards yourself. Experimentation, as a scientist would, is crucial to achieving real health and weight loss. By constantly trying new approaches and learning from our experiences, we can discover what works best for our individual bodies and minds. The answer will be slightly different for everyone.
If you've been dieting your whole life, focused on calorie restriction and worried about calories all the time and you know if that's not working out for you, it’s time to do something different - Our eBook offers a new sustainable approach. We will teach you how it works with easy to understand concepts including the woodshed analogy. We share the Green List of foods to prioritise, the Red List of foods to avoid, and the Orange List of foods to enjoy in moderation. We also provide you with our golden rules to follow for optimal health and weight loss.
This eBook is the first step in your journey to achieving real health and weight loss - By healing your physiology with low carb real food and managing your psychology with self-compassion and mind management tools, you can create sustainable change and achieve your health and weight loss goals. Download The Doctors' Guide to Real Health and Weight Loss for free today and take the first step on your journey to better health.
Click here if you would like the Doctors’ Guide to Real Health and Weight Loss
Episode 137 - The Keys to Sustainable Weight Management
Dr Mary Barson: (0:11) Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr. Mary Barson.
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:15) And I'm Dr. Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. Good morning gorgeous ones. Dr. Lucy here, fresh out of the pool on a brisk morning, chatting with my gorgeous colleague, Dr. Mary. Hello, gorgeous one. How are you?
Dr Mary Barson: (0:35) I'm good. I'm good. Do you remember last week we were, oh, was it last week? It was recently, we were talking about me and my self care.
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:41) Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Dr Mary Barson: (0:44) So, I have done a little bit better. I think. So far, it's only been a day. But I'm confident about this one. Five minutes of meditation when I sit down at my desk.
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:55) Oh, good.
Dr Mary Barson: (0:56) We'll see how that one goes. Yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:57) So do you do it before you start anything? Or as a break? Or how have you?
Dr Mary Barson: (1:04) Before I start
Dr Lucy Burns: (1:05) Okay.
Dr Mary Barson: (1:06) Yeah, yeah, I've organised childcare, I've done all the things and then I'm here in my little office. I have an office now. It's also full of baby things, but it's also my space. And I would normally just like, aaahhh, do the work, probably, yeah, in various states of calm or panic. And I would just do the work because this is my time to work. But five minutes is a very doable, little time to just turn on my parasympathetic nervous system, get a nice little relaxation response. And it is helpful.
Dr Lucy Burns: (1:38) Indeed, I love that. And you know, I love that idea that it's just five minutes. And you know, in fact, we have a meditation program that we recommend, that people can buy if they'd like to. And it starts with one minute. Because following on from that episode, where we talk about shrink the change, and all of those things, one minute, it's very hard for your brain to say, “I don't have time for one minute”. You do. And then the next day, you do two minutes. And then the following day you do three, and by the end of the month, if you want to, you're up to 30. But the great thing about that program is that you can stop. If you decide you actually only want to do 10 well you just stop at day 10. That's then your new normal. So I do love that idea as well. Brilliant. So today I want to talk about something that we talk a lot about, but just as a reminder. And we're calling today's episode, “P’s in a pod” Because the two Ps that we like to talk about are the physiology and the psychology of weight loss. Neither of which sounds like a P word.
Dr Mary Barson: (2:52) No, no, no. It does remind me, my daughter has this great book. It's a picture book by Raj Haldar, which is called ‘P is for Pterodactyl, The World's Worst Alphabet Book’. It just reminds me why I love the English language so much because it's like, “P is for pterodactyl. T is for tsunami. G is for gnome, K is for knife.”
Dr Lucy Burns: (3:16) I know, it’s…
Dr Mary Barson: (3:17) “A is for aisle.” It's just beautiful.
Dr Lucy Burns: (3:20) Oh, that's hilarious. That is hilarious. Does it have one for every letter or just the main ones?
Dr Mary Barson: (3:24) It does! every letter? Yes. Yeah, It's an excellent book! P is for Pterodactyl!
Dr Lucy Burns: (3:32) Yeah, absolutely. I love that. I love that. I'm gonna, I'm trying to work out what the B word might be.
Dr Mary Barson: (3:37) I think that was bdellium, which is that sap? People are gonna know more about what bdellium means than me. But yeah, it's some sap that comes from a tree and has properties that people find valuable.
Dr Lucy Burns: (3:50) Right? And it starts with B, but sounds like D.
Dr Mary Barson: (3:53) Yep, pretty much everything I know about bdellium and my learnt from one page in this book.
Dr Lucy Burns: (3:58) Excellent. Excellent. I love a good source of knowledge. So it's interesting. I mean, the physiology and the psychology. It's a fancy way of saying the mind and the body. And understanding those two, the way they work, and again, the mind and the body are not separate things. They're all part of the same thing. But they do have slightly, I guess, different processes. And so, particularly weight management, we're always talking about the psychology and the physiology. It's actually the same with anything isn't it? It's the same with, you know, movement. There's some physiology involved and there's some psychology involved. Behavioural change is part of the psychology that we spend an enormous amount of time talking about, because it's integral. I think you and I both used to, well, of course, we grew up in the day where it was all just, you know, to lose weight, it was diet and exercise. And the diet and exercise isn't ‘low carb and enjoyable movement’, which you could definitely rephrase as ‘diet and exercise’. It was, ‘eat less and move more’.
Dr Mary Barson: (5:08) Yep. Which didn't heal the physiology.
Dr Lucy Burns: (5:10) Not at all. Not at all.
Dr Mary Barson: (5:12) And was not good for your psychology.
Dr Lucy Burns: (5:14) No, no, because, you know, for me all exercise, the motivation for me was always about weight loss. “If I do three aerobics sessions today, I will be thinner, tomorrow”. Seriously, I firmly believed that! It was really, I remember going, now how's this for sort of diet culture? I remember going camping with two friends and we went mountain biking, and we did a lot of mountain biking, and we ate good food. And I came home ready to leap on this to the scale. So I mean, I was only away for two days, but I thought for sure. I would be - in my brain I’d decided that I’d be three kilos lighter from all this exercise. So much exercise. I must be three kilos lighter. I got home. I was actually two kilos heavier. And I don't know, you know that emoji where the brain explodes?
Dr Mary Barson: (6:07) Mmm.
Dr Lucy Burns: (6:08) Yeah, that! That. Yeah, I'm surprised there weren't parts of my skull all over the roof.
Dr Mary Barson: (6:12) Yep. You were probably feeling angry and ripped off, feeling all the feelings?
Dr Lucy Burns: (6:18) Yeah, of course. Because yeah, back then, it was just all about weight loss. So nevermind that I had a great time with my friends. Nevermind that, you know, I was out in the beautiful countryside, riding up hills, riding down hills, and camping by this magnificent creek. Nah, it was just all ruined by you know, getting on the scales. And you know, again, a couple of days later, when I'd done a big poop. And you know had a proper sleep and a proper bed that, you know two kilos of presumably porridge had gone!
Dr Mary Barson: (7:03) You're not alone. I think this type of thinking is extremely common. It's the legacy that we have culturally been handed from toxic diet culture.
Dr Lucy Burns: (7:16) Yes.
Dr Mary Barson: (7:17) Why I think that these two P’s, the physiology and the psychology are so important is because they fit together and they help each other. So working on the psychology of weight loss, of metabolic health, just on its own without addressing the physiology is almost meaningless. Like it's pretty hard. It's not meaningless. That's not fair. There's lots of beautiful work that you could do on self acceptance, on loving yourself, on healing your relationship with food. It's not useless. It's not, but it's missing a really important part. Because if you've still got really high levels of insulin, and if you are metabolically unwell, and your lipolysis is inhibited because of high insulin, that is your fat stores, are locked away in your metaphorical woodshed, you're going to be in the throes of you know, sugar high, sugar crash, feeling hungry. It's going to be physiologically an unpleasant place. Also physiologically an unhealthy place. And although working on your mind is extremely useful. It's very difficult to do in that circumstance. And similarly, just working on healing your physiology, so healing your physiology, reducing your sugar and carb intake, healing insulin resistance, you get your hunger and normal hunger signals and satiety signals back online. If your body heals, you get reduced inflammation. This is all really good. And this is a much more healthy place today. But that in itself is usually not enough, because we live in a high carb world and because we've got all these toxic messages from diet culture, and because many of us use food, understandably, culturally, it's normalised, use food to soothe and reward and punish and so they're completely enmeshed. And one doesn't work well without the other. But when you work on both, when you work on your physiology and you heal it and your body heals your hunger and all those things normalise and you work on your mind. They come back together and they're way more than the sum of their parts.
Dr Lucy Burns: (9:37) Ah! I couldn't agree more! Like, could not, because you know it is! You're absolutely right. You can be in that space - which we love - of self acceptance, and prioritising yourself and looking after your health. But if your insulin resistant and you're drinking glasses of orange juice and eating lots of pasta and bread, even though they're foods that are considered “healthy” by our society, we know they're not going to actually help the physiology, they're not going to reduce insulin resistance, they're going to keep fat stores locked away, you're not going to have access to beautiful fuel. You will be hungry, you will be tired. And so you're still not thriving in a way that you know is available to you. Whereas, if you have that knowledge of low carb, and combine it with, as you've talked about, Mares, the self acceptance and also the, you know, the “good enough” philosophies, we love. The idea that doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to be consistent. The idea of learning the stories in your head, understanding what are the loopholes, because our brain, clever, clever brain looks for loopholes. And there's no wonder it looks for loopholes, because you know, there's that very, very famous saying that you can, what is it? Have your cake and eat it too?
Dr Mary Barson: (11:01) Yes.
Dr Lucy Burns: (11:03) And we all want that, don't we? Except that it's not possible. It's a bit of magical thinking. It is actually impossible to have your cake and eat it too, if we actually do it literally. So why then, are we constantly looking for that? Because that then causes us to be resentful, perhaps if we find that we can’t actually do that. It's a little bit like and I mean, this is a complete digression. But from me as when I was certainly a new mum, and this idea that you could do it all, that you could do it all perfectly. That you could go and have an incredible career, that you could have children and do that all perfectly well. That you could keep a clean house and tidy house and look like something off Home Beautiful, that you could do it all. That's actually a bit of a myth. You can't do everything perfectly. You can do it all but nothing 100% because there's not 300% of us.
Dr Mary Barson: (11:59) I’m having a little moment. I kind of wish there was 300% of me at times, at the moment, but that's been my brain doing the wishful thing.
Dr Lucy Burns: (12:10) I know! You are not Hermione, you don't have one of those clock-turner-upperers.
Dr Mary Barson: (12:13) Ah, yeah. Yeah. Like, if you remember, Hermione, she got pretty tired and grouchy as she was living three lives. Yep. During that book, Harry Potter fans will appreciate that. Other people are like what?
Dr Lucy Burns: (12:30) Yeah. Indeed. So you know, it is the two combined. You know, we call them the keys, which now we know rhymes with P’s. There's all sorts of echolalia you can do around keys, and P’s, and pods, and all sorts of things.
Dr Mary Barson: (12:46) And pterodactyls!
Dr Lucy Burns: (12:47) Yes! But the thing that that people think, and it is understandable, our brain is thinking, “Oh that all sounds a bit hard, I don’t want to do that. Just tell me what to do, or show me what to eat.” And so we're looking again, for a shortcut. And, again, a shortcut will work short term. You know, a meal plan, follow this, you know, there's a million meal plans to recipes, there's bucket loads of recipes. Recipes aren't your problem. Meal plans aren't your problem. If you're struggling, it's understanding those two keys or P’s.
Dr Mary Barson: (13:23) Heal the physiology and manage your psychology. And it's so much easier to start unpacking your stories in your head and to start analysing your behaviour and relationship, behaviour around and relationship with food when you're not starving hungry.
Dr Lucy Burns: (13:41) Ah 100, 100%.
Dr Mary Barson: (13:45) If your body is well nourished, and you're getting all the nutrients you need, and you're feeling good, and you're able to start naturally burning your fat stores, and your body's really happy, that is a beautiful platform, to start then working on your beautiful mind and understanding why it works the way it does. To start making those goals and figuring out how you're going to stick to them. And by doing that you’re obviously continually improving your physical health, which is a great platform to continually improve your psychological health and it just spirals upwards and upwards.
Dr Lucy Burns: (14:23) You know, it's interesting how people can fall into two camps. You know, some people want to know all the rules. What are the rules? And you know, lots of questions we get, “Can I eat this? Can I have that?” And that's understandable. Again, that's what we've been conditioned to do, to outsource, if you like, our food requirements, or our food choices - to meal plans, into points, counting apps and all of those sorts of things. So we love the phrase that you know, “You're the boss of you, you're a grown up now, you get to actually decide what you want to do”. The way I like to break it down though, is that if you're making decisions that you regret, then something has to change. So if you decide in advance that you're going to go out and have cake, and you enjoy it, and it doesn't turn into a six month bender, and you're happy with that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you decide you're going to go out and not eat cake, and then you've had a fight with your best friend before you go, and so you think “Stuff it, I'm going to eat the whole cake”. And then the next day you’re cross with yourself for doing that, well, then that's a decision that needs to be revisited, and working out what was going on for me - that's always my sentence, “What's going on for me?” And you can do it in a beautiful, compassionate way. So that when that situation happens next time, you can perhaps make a different decision. And this is the thing that I think that sometimes people can struggle with, because what they'll do is feel like they've failed, because you know, they went out, they weren't going to eat the cake, they ate the cake, they didn’t just eat one piece, they ate the whole lot and so they feel like a failure. And when we feel like a failure, we want to run away.
Dr Mary Barson: (16:08) And hide. That's a really common one. Yeah, of course,
Dr Lucy Burns: (16:10) Which makes sense. Because why would you want to be you don't want to pore over your, you know, your failures, if that's what your brain perceives it to be. Whereas we, you know, Mary, I mean, you're the queen of this phrase, the Compassionate scientist.
Dr Mary Barson: (16:25) Mm hmm. Yes. Yes, this is the key for healing your physiology and managing your psychology is to, you have to be compassionate with yourself and experiment with yourself. So you set yourself the goals - to eat low carb, real food or to move or to do the meditations to relax, to go to bed on time, all of these things that we know will help heal your physiology. And you set yourself some achievable goals and you have a go. And then you need to review, you need to be a scientist, you need to collect the data. You need to review how you are going weekly, fortnightly, daily, whatever works for your brain, but review it with curiosity and without judgement. And then you say, “Wow, that didn't work. I was going to have my chicken and salad for lunch, but every day this week, I've eaten the savoury muffin from the cafe next door, because I never ever bring my lunch.” And rather than, “I am hopeless and stupid, I just can't do this!” or hiding, or not wanting to review the facts, not wanting to think about it, think “Okay, so what can I do differently?” Be your compassionate scientist. And just keep learning. My little bubba, he’s so cute! He's learning to walk. He can't walk yet. But he is really, really, really, he's almost ready. And he can crawl. And he can climb. And I watched him and he’s, children are just such beautiful examples of being their own compassionate scientist. He's just sort of like, “What happens if I do this? Ah it didn't work. Okay, what happens if I do it this way? Oh that didn't work.” And yes, certainly, you know, he can climb on top of the couch and fall off and hurt his head and cry. Fortunately, not not badly.
Dr Lucy Burns: (18:22) And hopefully he’s learning that, “Maybe I won't do that again!”
Dr Mary Barson: (18:23) Exactly. Yeah. But as he learns, and he tries, he just keeps going. He doesn't judge, if the first attempt is a sort of failure, he doesn't sort of start walking. “Okay, obviously, walking is not for me, obviously I can't do it. That’s a shame!”
Dr Lucy Burns: (18:39) “Guess I'm just destined to sit here for the rest of my life.”
Dr Mary Barson: (18:42) That's right. That's right. <laughs> He's not susceptible to these unhelpful thoughts as we grown ups can be, so be your own compassionate scientist. And with science, I was a scientist I worked in at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute before I did medicine. And with science, there is no such thing as a failed experiment, by and large. You get negative results, or positive results, essentially. I can remember when I started my honours year, I was working on genomics and proteomics of a parasite called Leishmania major and we -
Dr Lucy Burns: (19:19) Yeah, sorry, my brain’s done that exploding thing again. Another emoji!
Dr Mary Barson: (19:24) <laughs> It was good fun. It was great. It was back in the sort of the golden days of genomics. It was very, very exciting. And so the leishmania genome had been sequenced, and it was in a draft form. I mean, nowadays, they can sequence a genome, you know, five minutes on a standard laptop, but back then, the technology, it took a while, but it was great. We had this draft genome, and my lab was like, “Okay, so leishmania is this terrible illness that wreaks havoc across the globe. Let's use this data and try and find some novel gene targets or vaccine candidates. Let's Go to work.” So we've data mined this genome, and tried to find in particular genes that didn't look anything like human genes, for example, because that's a really good drug target to look at. You don't want to give a drug to a human that's going to kill the human as well as the parasite. That's not good medicine. So in the first instance, okay, what can we find here? And at the start of my honours project, we pulled out these genes that were like, nothing like anything we'd find in a mammal, and it was like, “What are these? It’s so exciting!” And then we did all this sort of work trying to figure it out. And four months later, we’re like “Ah. They were bacterial contamination”, so they weren't actually real leishmania genes. And sure, it was disappointing. I'm not gonna lie that that was disappointing. But it wasn't useless. This wasn't a useless waste of time, because we had, we had found something out that was now useful for the entire globe to know. “See that bit? That's not a thing. That's not the bit that we want. That's not helpful.” And it was useful to know that that's not helpful. So we did actually move human knowledge forward. And then we did find some genes that were really the leishmania. And you know, I got a cute little honours project out of it. It’s all good fun. Oh, wonderful.
Dr Lucy Burns: (21:12) Oh, wonderful. But you know what? What I love in what you've said there is that sometimes it is useful to know what isn't helpful.
Dr Mary Barson: (21:20) Absolutely. It's useful to know what isn't helpful. I've tried that and it didn't work. Let's try something else.
Dr Lucy Burns: (21:28) Yeah. And same with us. You know, if you're trying something, and it's not working, then you know that that thing is not helpful. So therefore, you need to change it. You can't just keep doing that unhelpful thing, hoping that it will become helpful. Can you imagine if you'd spent another year going, “Surely, that bit of genome is part of it. Can’t possibly not be. We've spent so much already on it, we're just going to keep going.”
Dr Mary Barson: (21:54) And it's tempting to do that, you know, because we do. We have our cognitive bias and, and we get into this sunk cost psychology. But it is useful that that isn't how scientists think, by and large. I mean, obviously, we bring our human biases to everything, but by and large, that's not how scientists think or how scientists work. And there are no failures, there's just negative results. And negative results are useful data for us to continue to move forward.
Dr Lucy Burns: (22:22) Absolutely. And, you know, I can think of a really practical example in this situation, again, just bringing it back to weight management. I used to think that if I was going out for dinner that I didn't want - you know, it was back in my calorie counting days - it would be a high calorie meal. So therefore, I won't eat during the day, because I'm going to save up all my calories for when I eat this meal. And what would often happen was that I would actually go on a bit of a bender, whenever I was out, and it became apparent that this technique wasn't actually serving me well. I probably ate three times the amount of food that I would normally eat at a meal. And you know, and again, if we're thinking of calories, I probably ate twice the amount that I would normally consume in a day. So then after a while, I thought, you know, how about I stop this rubbish. And this is different to fasting, which we recommend as a therapeutic tool, not as a means to control weight in relation to going out for food or whatever. So then I thought, “Well, how about I try this experiment? How about I just actually have some lunch, and maybe even, you know, piece of cheese before I go and see how that goes?” And that, that my friends was so much better, because all of a sudden, I wasn't literally starving and wolfing down food like there was no tomorrow. And sort of my brain thinking this is its last supper. Quick! Eat as much as you want! It was a much better way for me to approach going out than just this other way. Now, again, that's what worked for me. That might not work for you, you might be happy to go and you know, go “Oh, well, I'd rather fast and then just eat my meal when I go out.” And that might be the experiment that works for you. But you have to know what works for you and what doesn't and if something's not working for you, you know, as the old phrase goes, don't keep flogging a dead horse.
Dr Mary Barson: (24:17) Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:18) I don't know it’s dead. Do not think too much pictorially about that. I know it's like “skin a cat”. “How many ways to skin a cat?” There are some awful phrases. But anyway.
Dr Mary Barson: (24:30) Einstein had a good one. “To expect different results from doing the same thing is the definition of insanity.” Poorly quoting Albert Einstein, then. Sorry, dear listeners for mangling that.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:41) I don’t think you did. I think it is, “Insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome.”
Dr Mary Barson: (24:46) Yep.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:47) Yes, yes. And I'm not entirely sure if that's actually the definition of insanity. It's probably more that <both laugh> there is a medical definition but yes, it is certainly a well known phrase and you're right. And so lovelies, if - again, this is the whole thing - if you've been dieting your whole lives and focused on calorie restriction and worried about calories all the time and you know if that's not working out for you time to do something different. And with that, of course, leads into the idea that we have got an ebook for you called The Doctors’ Guide to Real Health and Weight Loss. You can download it for free. It goes through the woodshed analogy, gives you the green list, the Red List, the Orange list, gives you the golden rules. Lots and lots of goodness in this book. You can take this book and it will be, you know, it's step one, on your journey to Real Health and Weight Loss.
Dr Mary Barson: (25:36) To healing the physiology and managing the psychology.
Dr Lucy Burns: (25:44) Alright, gorgeous ones have a beautiful, beautiful week and we'll see you next time. See you soon! So my lovely listeners that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr. Lucy Burns.
Dr Mary Barson: (26:03)
and I'm Dr. Mary Barson. We’re from Real Life Medicine. To contact us, please visit www.rlmedicine.com.
Dr Lucy Burns: (26:13) And until next time, thanks for listening. The information shared on the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast, including show notes and links provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.