Episode Sixty Five Summary

  • Disorders around eating food - Nicole always felt much bigger than her peers as an early developer, which led to shame and restricted, disordered eating and binging.
  • Finding a healthier version of herself - finding a book by chance called Women Food and God by Geneen Roth led her to challenge her thoughts that just because she thought and felt a certain way, didn't make it an absolute truth.
  • Losing weight - this book advocated intuitive eating, which although leading to a 30kg weight loss in 4 months, Nicole found it took so much energy that is was exhausting. 
  • Perpetual binging - Nicole couldn't maintain the intuitive eating, nor did she ever want to diet again, which led to a perpetual binge for around 10 years.
  • Growth mindset - this was the missing piece for Nicole. She realised she was dreadfully stuck in every aspect of her life and that she was scared to try things in case she failed. This was stopping her from learning and growing.
  • The 12 Week Mind Body Rebalance - the program's message that "this is not your fault" and ''this is a supportive and safe space" was transformative for Nicole in convincing her to try the program. 
  • Nicole's results - not only did she lose a significant amount of weight and normalise her blood sugars and lipids, she also transformed the way she treats and views herself. Her powerful story is about finding the all-important self-love and self-compassion that is key to long term health, weight loss and well-being. 


The next 12 Week Mind Body Rebalance starts February 5. For more information and to join the waitlist visit https://www.rlmedicine.com/12WMBR

Show notes:


Change is possible


Dr Mary Barson: Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr Mary Barson.


Dr Lucy Burns: And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss.


Dr Mary Barson: Hello, lovely listeners and welcome to this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss with me, Dr Mary. And I'm super excited today because I am joined by the fabulous Nicole Mitchell, who is a wonderful rock star of ours who has revolutionised her health. And she is here today to tell us about her story and the changes that she's made with low carb real food so far. Nicole is a busy mom of two. And she still managed to make these fabulous changes despite her extreme busyness. Hello, Nicole.


Nicole Mitchell: Hello Mary, thank you for having me on the podcast.


Dr Mary Barson: Thank you so much for coming. Really, I know that you've given up a portion of your Sunday to do this. So I'm really, really grateful. So could you tell our lovely listeners about you and your story?


Nicole Mitchell: Wow, that's a big question. And every time I try and capture this story, it's a little bit different. But I feel like the most recent time when I've tried to do that, so I did the 12 week program in the most recent lot of that. So I finished up in November. And this morning, I actually went back to my introduction post that I did when I joined up to the group and had done a bit of like a self-reflection on like why am I here? Because there was nothing comfortable for me about joining the 12 week program. And I don't even think there's anything particularly unique about my story. I certainly would have described myself as someone that had disordered eating, had had disordered eating as long as I could remember. I can remember instances of obsessing over food and just really disordered behaviours around food as early as like grade one, grade two in primary school. And that was the theme that just carried on from there. I remember maybe around the end of grade two, the start of grade three, really starting to get this sense that I was not the same as the other kids. And I think a lot of that was probably around, I developed quite young. So by the time I was in grade six, I was fully developed, like the same height I am now. So I think that was probably a factor that I always felt much bigger than my peers. And that was probably a really skewed perception. Now when I look back on that, that I probably was a lot bigger than them. But I was also fully grown. If I had to just stay there, I would have been fine, but I had a real sense of difference. And that left me feeling like I didn't belong. And I think I often felt quite ashamed about that, it was about managing the shame of not really fitting in but trying to fit in, really having to learn to be a bit of a chameleon. About how to like, how can I adjust myself to belong as best I can, with this constant kind of awareness of being different. So fast forward to early high school, I certainly was doing like restriction of just not eating, feeling really horrible about that. But I was quite fascinated by some books that I had found that were kind of about disordered eating on reflection that I'd found in the school library. So it was really obvious I think in a lot of ways. I was never small and every single one of those times that I would try and not eat would completely lead to bingeing and an author that I really love her work, Geneen Roth, says that for every diet, there's an equal and opposite binge that goes with it. And that was absolutely my experience. So for my whole life that had defined who I understood myself to be for a start, a fat person. And that also to be a good fat person you have to be trying to not to be a fat person. So I obviously didn't understand that until much later. But looking back, everything I did was about either trying to prove that I was trying to not be a fat person. Or I was trying to prove that I didn't care that I was fat, but none of it was about genuinely myself or my true self or anything like that. So it has just defined that pain and that shame has defined everything that I did. Every relationship I had, and the way I showed up in that and the lens that I looked through everything of, obviously that led to quite low self-esteem. But also the bravado of, you know, I'm fine and I'm confident. And I've had lots of people say to me when I've, you know, kind of explained that's what my internal world is like, they're like “I'm just so surprised that that's what your experience has been because you're very confident and outspoken. And a go-getter. And I'm like, well, that's all part of that. You have to be, people have to like you for something other than how you look, because they're not going to like that.


Dr Mary Barson: That's a hard, incredibly powerful story, to feel that inner shame and guilt, and to identify as someone who is fat, but at the same time not being allowed to be okay with that. They're very powerful stories to have in your head. You're not alone? Definitely not alone.


Nicole Mitchell: I know.


Dr Mary Barson: Yeah. Yep.


Nicole Mitchell: I mean, I know that now, I should also add. I kind of intellectually could understand that, if I'm feeling like this other people probably feel like this. And I certainly saw that in my own family, even in my own family I'm not alone in feeling like that. But it feels so isolating, because you never want to admit that or have to own that identity, like you're forever railing against that. And trying to have that not be true. At the very least please nobody notice.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes. And wearing this mask. You're also blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at it with intelligence and emotional intelligence. Your background is in social work, so you are really well versed in human psychology and understanding how brains work. So tell us more of the journey you've been on, you know, towards healing and finding a healthier version of yourself.


Nicole Mitchell: Yes, it has been quite a long journey, like so many of us. But I think the first time I started to challenge that sense of shame and that experience of just perpetual suffering I suppose was when I originally found just by chance in a bookshop, I found a book called Women Food and God which is by Geneen Roth and read that cover to cover and I was like, right anything that she's got, I'm going to get. And ended up and this was in, I don't know, maybe like 2010, 2011 something like that, that her message was more, it was much more like an internalised systemic trauma approach, I suppose, of starting to go, the way you're feeling and behaving makes perfect sense if we start to explore the way the world has shaped your sense of yourself. And the way you've been manipulated to feel like you don't belong because of these things, which is the first time that idea had ever been introduced to me. But, for one, it was society I suppose, the way I was raised, and the media and all of these influences as I was growing up is what had shaped that idea. And also the notion that perhaps it isn't true. But perhaps it's not an absolute truth. That just because I think and feel that way, that's how things are. And so she advocates intuitive eating, and has some guidelines around how to do that, and how to do that with presence and some other kind of strategies. It really was about tuning inwardly and then trusting that your body does know how to feed itself and nourish itself when we kind of get our brains out of the way. And I in the space of I think it was about four months of I would probably say almost manically, because perfectionism is like an incredibly strong trait of mine, again completely fostered out of people pleasing to belong, because oh my gosh, my world is crumbling if anybody sees that I'm anything less than perfect, because they're going to notice I'm fat. Again, I totally appreciate that is illogical, but that is the kind of core that I've been operating from for so long. So anything I have almost ever done, if I've decided to do it, I'm doing it 110% and it will be perfect. And if it's anything less than that, then I'm just going to push that off to the side because I don't want anyone to notice I can't do it entirely correctly. So in the first four months, I lost 30 kilos give or take intuitive eating, which was massive. And I remember I went to a doctor about something unrelated to that and just kind of mentioned that in passing and they're like “What are you doing, that doesn't sound healthy?“. And I was entirely happy with it, felt great in myself and all I was doing was eating when I was hungry, and stopping when I was full. That was kind of the main thing, but the energy that it took to check in with myself over and over and over and over again, to try and do that. And I had no support, it was just me trying to do that on my own with a bunch of audio recordings of Geneen Roth teachings, and it was exhausting. I don't know exactly how long I managed to hang on to that, but I remember, I had gone home to see my family for Easter. And of course, there was chocolate and celebrating and food and all the meals and I didn't want to miss out. So all the hush just completely went out the window, and I couldn't find my way back there to that space, and when I was in that space, it felt so easy. It felt so easy, just trusting myself. Not dieting, not restricting, and even that was a process of work, after I've done restricting, I've done high protein diets and I've done 12 week challenges through the gym. Probably not as extreme as some people, because some of the really extreme food plans, I just couldn't tolerate them, I was just like, I know that that's gonna feel horrible so I'm not going to do it. But there was always this kind of perpetual oh I should be, and I'm trying and I'm picking the low-fat options. And I should have a salad and the shoulds, and all of that sort of thing. And then so it was a process of letting go of that, saying I'm not dieting, and what I took away from that Geneen Roth experience was, I would never diet again. But that left me when I couldn't maintain, and I couldn't hold on my own that massive psychological transformation and that mindset transformation.  It actually left me basically in a perpetual binge for about 10 years of going I can't do all of that really challenging, but beautiful and gorgeous kind of self-awareness work on my own, I couldn't do it on my own. But I also couldn't do dieting, and I was just in no man's land of I'll just eat whatever I want then because I'm not going to hate myself anymore. I'm going to try not to anyway. And then I think leading into finding you guys, there was a few other things that I came across that I think really contributed to how I've been able to engage with your program and the fact that it offers the bits that were missing from Geneen Roth's work. Like I've got the support. There's some structure, someone's actually explained to me with kindness and compassion, how my body works and processes food and what my body's trying to do to keep me healthy when I'm not nourishing it in the right way. But all of those messages have come with education and kindness and acceptance and the explicit message that none of this is your fault. And you know, the acknowledgement of that kind of broader, systemic societal elements of that oppressive sense of well, if you're not the perfectly sized person, doesn't even matter if you're healthy, just if you don't look right, that you're not right, and you're wrong. But I also really, really loved, I was going through a phase of listening to lots of Mel Robbins. And remember, I was listening to I think it was her Kick Ass book on Audible. And then they mentioned, she had made a little reference to Carol Dweck 's book Mindset, which is about growth mindset. And this was like ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. It was like the missing piece.


Dr Mary Barson: All the pieces were falling together.


Nicole Mitchell: They were falling together. This was a process of a few years and just those like, different ingredients coming together to even get to the point where I could say yes, when you gave me the information, because otherwise, like I had to admit there was a problem to say yes, in the first place, which felt sick to my stomach having to do that. Even after all that time.


Dr Mary Barson: You were brave.


Nicole Mitchell: Yeah, I literally had to be and my motto for that moment was I'm going to start just before I'm ready, because I was never going to be ready. That sick feeling in the pit of my stomach of having to let people see me. I was never going to be ready for that. That was never going to feel good.


Dr Mary Barson: I love that Nicole, starting before you're ready, because it's never going to be perfect. There's never ever a perfect time to start.


Nicole Mitchell: I can't even claim it, I had read it somewhere around that time. I'll see if I can track down who actually said that. But I was like that is just the best advice for life. So yeah, the growth mindset stuff. I just had a massive realisation that I was dreadfully stuck in every aspect of my life basically because I was so scared to fail, that I couldn't try anything new. Or if I tried something new, I would maybe do it again if I was instantly good at it. And if I wasn't instantly good at it, then I was not going to do that. Because it you know, it felt unsafe emotionally for me.


Dr Mary Barson: Your perfectionism was keeping you safe.


Nicole Mitchell: Yes, yep. And it was keeping me small, and it was stopping me from changing or really learning or growing at all. But that felt a lot more comfy, most of the time. If you take out you know, just perpetually living from a core of shame.


Dr Mary Barson: We spend a lot of time in our 12 week program and with our clients dealing with perfectionism, because it's very common. And it can be really paralysing,


Nicole Mitchell: Yeah.


Dr Mary Barson: And it is possible to overcome it.


Nicole Mitchell: But the world loves it. Like the world loves you to be a perfectionist, especially at work, like you can really shine there if you can solve everyone's problems for them and work yourself into the ground and the selflessness of it often I think for women of being everything to everybody like yes please, everyone loves that.


Dr Mary Barson: Yep, the perfect mom, the perfect worker.


Nicole Mitchell: Yeah. In life there's so many affirmations to stay that way, even when it feels horrible for you personally.


Dr Mary Barson: Totally. We find with a lot of our beautiful clients, particularly the female clients, but not exclusively, that they are soaring albatrosses in so many aspects of their life. You know, they are winning at work in particular, you know, really successful professionals. They can have fantastic friendships, they can be really, you know, loving and attentive mothers, but in their own health, they can, you know, be like the albatross on land that is just falling and flopping all over the place and just can't get take off. And one of the biggest weights I reckon that holds down our inner albatross with our health is that perfectionism. If I can't do this perfectly, I can't do it at all. If there's a chance that I'll fail, I can't start. And that's a beautiful block to be able to work through. And it is something that we love doing and you've done it. This is why I said you're a rock star for lots of reasons.


Nicole Mitchell: Well, I think I will continue to be working on that probably forever, because it was so deeply rooted. But just having that awareness, having a framework where so much is normalised that and when this is really normal, and it's part of an adaptive way that you've learned to keep yourself safe growing up, and then that challenge of but it doesn't have to be like that. So first place, I tried to actually practice that, like I made a conscious decision to go, I'm going to go and do something I know I'm not very good at and learn to be better at it. And I picked sewing. So I was self-teaching, like teaching myself how to try and sew, and could not even describe the amount of pride between like, I know, whenever that happened, like maybe 2015. Between then and now, the amount that my ability to sew has improved, is insane. It is phenomenal. And I actually would not have believed I could do that before. And so that I think was a key ingredient for me being able to say, well, I can try and do this too. I can challenge that. Even if I haven't been able to do it all those other times, that's fine, because they're adding up to a better understanding of how to do it now.


Dr Mary Barson: So good. You're practising your growth mindset. So you signed up to our 12 Week Mind Body Rebalance Program in September 2020.


Nicole Mitchell: Yes.


Dr Mary Barson: Can you tell us a bit more about you know, how you found that program and your transformation during those three months?


Nicole Mitchell: Yes. If I haven't captured it entirely yet, I was terrified on an emotional level. Like, obviously I knew I was going to be safe, it was going to be fine. And I had the added benefit that I had already known you for several years as my GP not even realising that you worked in this space. But you had supported me through pregnancy losses, you had supported me through a postnatal depression diagnosis and recovery. And we had talked a few times in a GP appointment about weight, maybe wanting to lose weight, because you know, it's always in the back of your mind. And you I think were the first doctor I'd ever seen that either first of all, didn't centralise everything that I ever went to the doctor for about and have you realised you need to lose weight? Yes, thank you very much I have.


Dr Mary Barson: As if you wouldn't have realised. Yeah, God.


Nicole Mitchell: Exactly right. But I also, I became very aggressive is probably the right word, like aggressively self-protective when seeing doctors that like, I'm fine, thanks very much. And this is the thing I'm here for and I don't want to hear anything else you have to say basically, and you were the first doctor that actually fostered enough safety for me to ask that question for myself, without ever having mentioned it, raised it or anything else. So like, I kind of, I did know and I did trust that I was going to be safe in that program with you because whatever you were running was going to have that same vibe. And I had listened to most like whatever of the podcast that was available, I'd listened to most of that. And one of the early episodes, there was an early couple of episodes that really captured the this is not your fault, which is the key message I needed to have a go. This is not your fault and this is a supportive and safe space, thank you very much I really need that because I'm so scared, I can't push past this without knowing that's where I'm going. And that was like the most probably the most transformative message in the entire 12 week program. And that was infused in every other piece of learning, every video that I watched, everything came back to let's unpack this, from that broader systemic level on that individual level, with kindness with self-compassion, this is another Geneen Roth quote “It's not about the food, but it's not not about the food“. We need to recognise that food is kind of, you know, it's the indicator of what's going on with this personal turmoil that you're experiencing. So the hypnosis programming I felt was really powerful for me, and have used that really, really consistently, for that entire process. And it just, again, like, it just is those positive messages about self-acceptance, and that this is a process. And yeah, so I think they were kind of the core things. And the other analogy that I really liked it and I think it was in week one of the program. And this, for me was absolute gold, that the hero's journey and overlaying this idea for one that like, my process is not unique, as much as it feels like I'm doing it on my own, I'm not. And it's really like, it's such a common, maybe even universal experience that, like, it's the basis of literature, like it's so common. And being able to overlay that model and I'm still kind of using that now that this, you know, this might be where I'm up to, and this might be what I could kind of expect next and you know, just the messaging about that it's a cycle and it's a process. And I had a bit of resistance to this and had to work through it early on. But this is forever. Like, for me, this will be a piece of work, I'm working out forever. Because my mind's you know, has been shaped in such a way that I am inclined to not treat myself with kindness and to not trust my mind and body. And so that's something that I have to keep reaffirming for myself, all the time. So I guess that's the crux of the transformation. Just like having those people like being seen that you see me, you understand me, you basically, like everyone in the programme basically is me like, I'm not even actually special in this way.


Dr Mary Barson: You are very special. But you're not alone.


Nicole Mitchell: Yeah, that's right. So like the community of, you know, all of those mirrors, looking back at you with that same or a slightly different flavour of that, that struggle. And that kind of perpetual but we're gonna keep going, and we can keep doing it together, and we can keep growing and changing, because that's actually possible.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes, yes, it is. And you've done really well. I mean, you know, as your GP and having ordered your blood test before and afterwards and seeing your transformation, I could say, from a physical point of view, you've had fantastic improvements in your health. And I would argue that even more importantly, from a psychological self-growth point of view, you've also had fantastic results.


Nicole Mitchell: Absolutely, yeah, like even in the last week, I've had a rocky recovery from the Christmas period, like I stayed on plan did fantastic over the Christmas period, and then all the COVID stuff, it got really stressy, it's still really stressy. And I've noticed those behaviours kind of creeping back in, only green foods but still, like totally trying to do basically a COVID binge of green foods. But I can see that happening and I'm not even triggered to be angry at myself about it. To me that is, that's phenomenal. I'm not berating myself, in my own mind all day, every day. And I'm kind of at ease going okay, well it kind of makes sense that you're behaving this way. Like, okay, we're gonna keep working on that. It's not ideal. But even if I keep cycling back there every couple of days, still makes sense. And it's not all or nothing. It's just keep trying.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes. You just keep going. It's not all or nothing. It's all about the progress, not the perfection. And even if you fall over, you get back up, you keep going. You fall over again. It's about progressing to your destination. I love it. And you also hit on an incredibly important point that it's not your fault. It's not your fault that you have these stories in your head. It's not your fault that, you know, you're more overweight than you wanted to be. It's not your fault. And I think accepting that, and understanding that I think is pivotal, because it does help create that, that safe internal space, where you can then start to make the changes that support your health.


Nicole Mitchell: It does. It gives you enough space to see there's another possibility. Just that little bit of light. Yes.


Dr Mary Barson: Good, good. Oh, thank you so much. You've been such, you've been a fabulous person to have in our program. And it's been wonderful having you on our podcast, and you've been so generous sharing your story. I think you're absolutely fabulous. Before we close because I love that you brought up intuitive eating, because we I think in our programs, Dr Lucy and I use the principles of intuitive eating a lot. I think that Geneen Roth is, she's a genius and we use a lot of her principles about really rejecting the diet mentality, that low carb, real food addressing the physiology and the psychology of weight loss, it's, it's not a diet. And we really do reject that and learning how to honour your own hunger is really important. And being able to tune into that. And also all that beautiful thought work about rejecting the food police, you know the internal food police, because we've got that, the police station exists within our own psyche, and learn to let go of that. And rather than seeing foods as good or bad, and you need to either be proud of yourself or punish yourself, depending on what you choose, you can learn to choose foods that are healthful and helpful to your system. And when you eat foods that aren't necessarily helpful, you don't hate and berate yourself. You just examine with compassion and kindness and then just keep going. This is what you've managed to do.


Nicole Mitchell: Even I'm a little bit stunned still. To be honest, it's a little bit euphoric.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes, it should, you should feel euphoric, that is fabulous. Okay, any final comments or questions or anything you would like to say?


Nicole Mitchell: I think it's really valuable for people to bring their mind to who their support team is. And there's all different types of support that can help you be brave, help you find safety. My sister did the 12 week program with me as well and has offered me the kind of support that probably nobody else could offer because she's really called me on my BS a few times and helped me kind of see and challenge some ideas and patterns and things that were stuffing me and in, you know, most of that support's been we're absolutely rolling around laughing. Because she can tell me I'm being really silly, probably with stronger language than that. But also, like shifting into other spaces, like body movement, and how do you do that joyfully? Like, how can you shift all these different ways that your weight has become an association of struggle or misery? And, you know, there's, like, there's body positive trainers out there that can support you to learn to love your body and movement. Yeah, and understanding what to do with food and how to talk about, how to talk about that openly and honestly. Like, I never would have done a conversation like this probably six months ago. But also, you know, like it doesn't matter, because it doesn't define where I've been and who I thought I was actually doesn't define who I am. And what I can do with the right support team.


Dr Mary Barson: No, change is possible.


Nicole Mitchell: Find your people. Find your tribe.


Dr Mary Barson: Well, I'm honoured that you chose us to be part of your support team. Thank you.


Nicole Mitchell: Thank you.


Dr Mary Barson: Wonderful. All right, thank you lovely listeners. And thank you so much to Nicole for sharing your wonderful story and your transformation. Bye now.


Dr Lucy Burns: The doors to the 12 Week Mind Body rebalance are now open. The program starts February the fifth and there are bonuses available, finishing Wednesday, February the second. So lovelies, quick sticks, and we'll see you on the inside. Bye for now. So my lovely listeners that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr Lucy Burns.


Dr Mary Barson: And I'm Dr Mary Barson. We're from Real Life Medicine. To contact us please visit https://www.rlmedicine.com


Dr Lucy Burns: And until next time, thanks for listening.


The next 12 Week Mind Body Rebalance starts February 5. For more information and to join the waitlist visit https://www.rlmedicine.com/12WMBR


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.


DISCLAIMER: This Podcast and any information, advice, opinions or statements within it do not constitute medical, health care or other professional advice, and are provided for general information purposes only. All care is taken in the preparation of the information in this Podcast.  Real Life Medicine does not make any representations or give any warranties about its accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose. This Podcast and any information, advice, opinions or statements within it are not to be used as a substitute for professional medical, psychology, psychiatric or other mental health care. Real Life Medicine recommends you seek  the advice of your doctor or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Inform your doctor of any changes you may make to your lifestyle and discuss these with your doctor. Do not disregard medical advice or delay visiting a medical professional because of something you hear in this Podcast. To the extent permissible by law Real Life Medicine will not be liable for any expenses, losses, damages (including indirect or consequential damages) or costs which might be incurred as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way and for any reason. No part of this Podcast can be reproduced, redistributed, published, copied or duplicated in any form without the prior permission of Real Life Medicine.