Episode 68 Summary

  • Your ability to lose weight permanently and achieve food freedom is 95 percent mindset, 4 percent what you eat and 1 percent exercise.
  • Fixed mindset versus growth mindset - mindset is a dynamic process, it's not fixed, and you can change it whenever you want to. This can even change day to day, based on factors such as stress levels and sleep amount.
  • Nothing ever changes if nothing ever changes - if you want to change your metabolic health, you will absolutely have to do something different. Challenging our thoughts is key to changing our behaviour, and it is the behaviour change that ultimately leads to long-term weight loss.
  • Growth mindset is the fundamental belief that you can change, and you can get better, and that what you have, believe, and do now, isn't what you are always going to have. 
  • People with a growth mindset believe they can gain new skills. It may take some practice and some effort, but it is possible to improve. These people can see challenges and setbacks as an opportunity to grow, to extend, to be more persistent.
  • People with a fixed mindset believe they can either do it or they can't, they can not get better. These people tend to see challenges as something they cannot do and have a tendency to give up easily. They can also get very discouraged by failures and lapses.
  • Feedback - assuming this is constructive and nice, people with a growth mindset allow it to help them learn and to identify areas to improve. People with a fixed mindset see feedback as threatening, get defensive, take it personally and are very unlikely to change in response to that feedback.
  • The SLC acronym - this stands for Slip, Lapse and Creep, which are when you're veering off your path a little bit. When this happens, you can also address this with SLC. Self-reflection, asking yourself what was going on for me, what happened? You can Learn from it, what could I do differently next time? And you do so with C, a compassion.
  • Embracing failures, lapses and slips is a key part of learning a new mindset. When viewed with kindness, failure is our best teacher and driver of change.
  • Developing a growth mindset - understand that change is possible. You can create new thought processes, you can make new neural pathways in your brain, you can literally change your brain by changing your thoughts. Failures are your greatest learning tools.

Free e-book: Weight loss is all about hormones https://www.rlmedicine.com/new-insulin-book

Show notes:


Failure is the key to permanent weight loss


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. Good morning, lovely listeners, beautiful friends. Welcome to another episode of our podcast and I am joined as often with the fabulous Dr Mary Barson. Hello, gorgeous girl.


Dr Mary Barson: Hi, Dr Lucy. I'm having a good day. Right now I've got a whole lot of lots and lots of baby movements in my belly. And it's like, it's cool. It's like, kind of at that butterfly fluttering stage, with all those little butterflies fluttering around in my pelvis. Yeah.


Dr Lucy Burns: Oh gosh, that's a long time ago for me, but I certainly remember that and thinking, surely that can't be a baby moving? Like what is that? It's a weird feeling.


Dr Mary Barson: Yeah.


Dr Lucy Burns: You can see their feet just about, but yes, this fluttery movement.


Dr Mary Barson: It's weird. It's kind of like someone's doing the dishes in my tummy. It's very strange. But also, but also quite beautiful.


Dr Lucy Burns: And exciting, exciting. How many weeks are you?


Dr Mary Barson: Um, when we're recording this right now, I'm 19.


Dr Lucy Burns: Wonderful, wonderful. So by the time it comes to air, probably about 23.


Dr Mary Barson: Something like that, yeah. Yep.


Dr Lucy Burns: Brilliant, brilliant. Wonderful. We have got a fabulous topic this week that is something we work through with our members frequently. Because as you know, we love the idea that food freedom and your ability to lose weight permanently is 95 percent mindset, 4 percent what you eat, and 1 percent exercise. Something along those lines. Again, we're not fixed on those ratios. So mindset, which is not willpower, is something we love talking about. And so this morning, we wanted to talk about an old concept. Well, not that old, but you know, a concept formed by a psychologist called Carol Dweck back in 2013. Fixed mindset versus growth mindset. And we thought we'd chat about that, chew the fat about it, and pull it apart for you.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes, growth mindset is key to pretty much all of the mindset work that we do with our beautiful people, with our patients and our clients in our coaching programs and in our memberships. And as you mentioned, honestly, permanent weight loss is almost all mindset. It's really important that you heal your metabolism with the low carb, real food. And it's delicious food, it fills you up. It's lovely, it's a great way to live your life. And you need to address all the stories in your head, around emotional eating, around needing sweet foods, around needing snacks, around the vital importance of daily eating bread, in order to be able to do it. So mindset is everything. And it's an old adage, but it's really true. If nothing changes, then nothing changes. And so much of what we do and so much of what I love doing, is helping people change their thoughts and change their mindset.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And I think that's one of the key things, is that mindset is a dynamic process. It's not and I mean here we are talking about fixed and growth mindset. It's not fixed. You can change your mindset whenever you want to. It's sometimes about learning and becoming even aware, like we know, so many moments occur where the penny drops for people where they go, “I didn't even realise that I kept thinking this same thought”. And that that's what was stopping me. When people find something hard and they feel that it's too hard, then often that's a mindset thing. So I mean, I'm not talking about you know, climbing Mount Everest. There's no way, it doesn't matter how great my mindset is, I cannot climb Mount Everest, we've got to be realistic. But for a lot of people, it might be that they go, you know, this way of eating is too hard. Because you know, all you eat is eggs and avocado. I mean, we've heard that fairly often. And it's like, hmm interesting.


Dr Mary Barson: Yeah, and encouraging people to challenge their thoughts and also just encouraging people to realise that they can challenge their thoughts, that's all growth mindset. You can change your thoughts. And by embracing a growth mindset, it becomes much easier. Lucy, I reckon we could give some examples of things that we encourage our beautiful, beautiful members to do, and things that we encourage you beautiful listeners to do, to empower you to really reclaim your health. We encourage people to let go of things like, you know, white bread for breakfast every day, or any bread for breakfast every day. And we encourage people to start things like meditation and improve sleep habits. And even things like food journaling, which can be quite challenging initially for people. Let's give some examples, I suppose some broad examples of how fixed mindset comes up when it comes to change. And how people can be empowered to bust through.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah. So one of the things that is important to know is that in any aspect of change, most of us will have some level of resistance. And that's normal because our brain doesn't like change. It just likes the same thing. It likes doing the same thing. And when we talk to it about changing, it will often go, “Ooh, I don't think so”. And so that can sometimes be people's automatic thought. And an automatic thought can be, “I don't think I'm going to try that”. So we have this, say with journaling, people go, “Aw, no that's not for me”, or “Oh, I've tried it, but I just can't do it”, or “Oh look, I gave it a go, but I just can't stick to it”. And it's really interesting to challenge yourself on why that might be. It doesn't mean that you may ultimately go on and do journaling, the outcome sort of is not relevant. But it's the process in which you arrive at that decision that is interesting. So keeping, you know, we love to say to people, “Keep an open mind”. Because Mary's right, nothing changes, if nothing changes. Or my other favourite, “If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got”. So if you want to change the way your body is feeling at the moment, if you want to change your, you know, metabolic health, you may have to do, or not may, you will, you will absolutely have to do something differently. 


Dr Mary Barson: Let's take a moment perhaps, to put some definitions out there about what we're talking about when we talk about a fixed mindset. And what we mean by a growth mindset. And I love that you said that it's not a static state. Depending on how much sleep I've had and how stressed I am in any one particular moment, I could be a little bit more fixed or a little bit more growth, even just day to day. So it's not a static thing, unless you really believe it is, unless you really keep yourself stuck in the fixed mindset.


Dr Lucy Burns: Which is ironically, the absolute definition of a fixed mindset.


Dr Mary Barson: Exactly, you can be fixed in a fixed mindset. But you can also be unfixed in a fixed mindset. I take holidays over it in a fixed mindset if I'm having a bad day, for example. I think most people do. So basically it's, the growth mindset is this fundamental belief that you can get better. That you can change, that what you believe now, what you've got now, what you can do now, isn't what you're always going to have. So it's this idea with skills, that someone with a growth mindset really does believe that they can gain new skills. It might take some work, it might take some practice, but it is possible to improve. Someone with a fixed mindset would see it like, you can either do it or you can't. You either got it or you don't. You're born with it, or you're not born with it. You can't get better. And with regards to challenges and setbacks, someone with a growth mindset might be able to embrace the challenge and seize an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to extend, to be more persistent. But if you've got a fixed mindset, you see a challenge like, “Stuff it, I can't do it”, throw in the towel, “I knew I couldn't do this, I'm bloody useless”, and just a tendency to give up easily. And then how about people view effort. So our growth mindset people will view effort as an essential part to being able to gain new skills, to master new skills, to get the change that they want. But people with a fixed mindset might not see any value in effort at all, because either you can or you can't. You know, either you're good enough or you're not good enough. Putting in some effort to try and obtain a new skill, or to let go of a habit, isn't going to make any difference because it's just not going to make any difference. And then, this is interesting, this is definitely how, depending on how I'm feeling I can be more fixed or more growth, is with feedback. So someone gives you some feedback. Hopefully it's constructive and nice. You can find it useful. You can be open to feedback if you've got a growth mindset, allow it to help you learn and to identify areas to improve. If you're stuck in fixed mindset, you see feedback as threatening. You get defensive, take it personally and are very unlikely to change in response to that feedback. And as I said, depending on how my day is, I could be in either one of those camps. Which is normal, it's totally, totally normal. And then, this is a really critical part of growth mindset versus the fixed mindset, is how you deal with setbacks, and little failures, little lapses. You know, I got stressed and ate the ice cream on the way home from work. Well, you know, if you've got a fixed mindset, you might just get totally discouraged by this, throw in the towel. “I can't do it. I'm useless. I'm hopeless, I shouldn't even try. Why did I even bother trying? I obviously can't do this”. Versus, “Ah okay, could this be a bit of a wake-up call? What is going on”? A growth mindset might use this as an opportunity to learn. And Dr Lucy, we love failures. We love them, we love them. They're so useful.


Dr Lucy Burns: I know. And you know, when people come into our clinic, or even show up in our Zoom calls, and they do it and everything's going fine, I mean it's lovely, but there's not a lot of learning opportunities. I actually love it when people come in and there's, something's you know, gone a little astray for them. Because we can work through that, because the whole idea of making a slip up, a lapse, is to then learn from it and not hide. The hiding is when you know, you've done whatever it is, and you just, you just want to forget about it and so you don't actually learn. And so it will keep happening because life keeps happening. We are just a series of repetitive incidents. Whereas if you can learn from it and think, “Right, what could I do differently”? People will turn up when they think they're doing well and hide when they think they're doing badly. And that's that shame and guilt. We say, please don't hide, that's when you need us. That's when you need to come, that's when you need to turn up to your appointments or you need to come to the Zoom call. If you think that you're not doing something well, then we can help you kind of reflect on it with beautiful kindness and compassion. And we have a little acronym. We use it for two things. So SLC, which stands for your Slip, Lapse and Creep, which are when you're, you know, just veering off your path a little bit. And then you can address those with the SLC. Which is Self-reflection, so asking yourself what was going on for me, what happened? You can Learn from it, what could I do differently next time? And you do it with C, a compassion. You can't do it by just beating yourself up or blaming, blaming others even, you know, I wouldn't have eaten that ice cream if my boss was nicer. You know, that might be how you feel. But your boss didn't put the spoon in the thing and feed it to you. You have to take a certain level of responsibility, and so it could be a different way that you know, you talk to yourself and go, “Right, I was distressed. I got feedback. He was mean or she was mean. I felt abandoned, betrayed, belittled, humiliated, whatever feeling. And so I ate ice cream to help soothe”. So the talk would be, “Oh, okay, I needed soothing, I felt distressed. That's okay. It's probably not helpful that I do this all the time. What could I do differently? Okay, next time if I feel distressed, humiliated, whatever, I would go and talk to my trusted friend, or I will go for a walk, or I will get myself a cup of tea in a fancy cup. I will try and sooth some other way”. And you can see how you do that with compassion. You're not being mean to yourself.


Dr Mary Barson: No. It's not a level playing field here when it comes to how much of a fixed versus growth mindset we all have. We've all got entrenched stories in our head. We've got entrenched behaviours and patterns from our childhood that will make us flip back and forth to certain behaviours and certain habits in certain situations. And we're not suggesting that this is entirely easy for everybody all the time. But what we are saying absolutely, is that every single beautiful one of us is able to continue to cultivate that growth mindset and continue to grow it and strengthen it and nourish it, no matter where you are on the spectrum at any given time or any given day.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely, and you know, you can view perhaps the concept of growth mindset as really just being open. Open to new ideas, open to change, open to feedback, open to skills. If you try and approach things with this concept of being open, and that doesn't mean that you're going to accept it, okay. You know, being open doesn't mean that you, you know, suddenly accepting everything that comes along. That would, we'd call that gullible, we wouldn't do that. But it's just the idea that you're going to keep an open mind before you make your decision. So you then have a bit of a, a pause or you know, I guess, some reflection and recognise that sometimes we're closed because of previous beliefs.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes. And beliefs and stories can change. And you can cultivate new, more helpful ones, if and when you need to.


Dr Lucy Burns: And I would go even further Mares, to say that they actually have to change if you want to change.


Dr Mary Barson: Mmm, mmm. Nothing changes if nothing changes.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yes, doing what you've always done will get you what you've always got. So a couple of skills. So we talked briefly about journaling, and you mentioned meditation in there. And it is, it's really interesting meditation. Why do you think that people are resistant to it?


Dr Mary Barson: I think people are resistant to meditation because very frequently there is this idea that if you sit down to empty your mind and enter a state of Nirvana type relaxation, and the first time you try, you can't, that people immediately say, “I can't do it. I tried it, I can't do it”. I hear that all the time. I really wish in some sort of magical land, I could get a dollar if every time I heard someone say, “I tried meditation, but I just, I just can't. I can't turn my mind off. I can't do it”. Ha, I'd be so rich. It would be amazing. But, so I spend a lot of time breaking this down.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yes.


Dr Mary Barson: It doesn't need to be perfect. Meditation is a skill that people get better at it. And am I as good at meditating as the Dalai Lama? Absolutely not. But am I better at meditating than someone who is just started their meditation journey? Yes, I am. And it's just practice. We all have an innate ability to be able to induce a relaxation response and all have an innate ability to be mindful. We've certainly discussed meditation a lot on this podcast in the past. That takes a bit of practice. And the amazing thing about meditation is that it does get better with practice. We get, we get more skilled at inducing that lovely relaxed feeling. But it's actually the practice that is the point. The end result of inducing that relaxation response and feeling that moment of peace actually isn't the point. The point is stretching our mental muscles and giving it a go. And it's the whole trying to meditate, the whole trying to corral our thoughts and bring them back to the moment that really strengthens our mind in an incredibly useful way. It's like, if you're training to run a marathon, you could focus only on your ability to get the marathon done. And then that's it, I'm never going to run again. Or you could be focusing on the fact that you're getting stronger, and fitter, and your cardiovascular health is improving and that actually training is the point. And with meditation, I firmly believe that the training is the point. And when you are getting into a regular pattern of it, you've actually got much more space in your brain and an ability to be much more open and to cultivate the growth mindset. So it has a myriad of benefits. But the thing is that, it's a skill.


Dr Lucy Burns: Pleiotropic.


Dr Mary Barson: That is pleiotropic. I love that word, it is pleiotropic. And we can all do it. We can all do it. You just need to break down that mindset that tells you you can't.


Dr Lucy Burns: And it's interesting, because I think in our culture, and lots of cultures around the world, the focus is always on the result, not the process. So you know, the result is that you, when you're meditating, you're meant to be able to just focus on your breathing and everything else will quieten down. And so you cannot achieve that in your first 10, 20 meditations, 100 meditations. It doesn't happen that easily because our brains are used to running around. And you know, you've heard us use the little dog analogy, that if you're training a puppy, its job is to, you know, you want it to walk with you. But it's going to run off and sniff all the bushes and bark at all the other dogs and you know, wee on the lamppost and whatever. And I think people think that the idea is if we got rid of all the bushes and the lampposts, then we would be able to meditate. But it doesn't work like that. So every single time, you bring your dog back. And you, you're training it to just walk with you. You're not out there trying to hack down bushes and chop down lampposts, you're just training your dog. That's what meditation literally is. But it isn't easy. It's simple, but it's just not that easy.


Dr Mary Barson: Oh, it takes a while. And if you, you know you feel a little itch, and you stop and scratch, if your child comes in and interrupts you, because you know, they want a glass of water, if you find that you, despite your best efforts, you just can't stop ruminating over your mortgage repayment, it's okay. You just keep going. You just try again tomorrow. You just keep going. It's still beneficial, even when it's imperfect. Being able to embrace that idea is a perfect example of a growth mindset.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely, persistence. Just persisting. Open and persisting. So we were talking also about people's fixed mindsets around letting go of certain things. There's a couple, but I reckon bread. Again, you, if you want a dollar for everyone who wants meditating, I want a dollar for everyone who says, “Oh, I can't give up my bread”. It's an interesting, so that turn of phrase for a start, “I can't give up my bread”. To really, that thought will lead to deprivation and restriction. Because you're, you're having to give something up. And you can't do it. And so, you know, I often think well, how about you could think of bread like this, you know, bread is savoury sugar, bread puts my blood glucose up. Bread is an unhelpful food for me. Bread is something that's highly processed that I no longer really need. And in fact, if you think about a slice of bread by itself, but particularly white bread just sitting there. It's tasteless. It really is. It's like an old sponge. It's got nothing in it. And so for me, I now go actually, I don't know why I thought, the reason I thought bread was good and this is literally the reason, was it was quick and easy. I could make peanut butter toast, you know, in five minutes. But there's buckets of other foods that are quick and easy.


Dr Mary Barson: Yes. I've had conversations with people who have a fixed idea that opening a packet of biscuits is less effort then taking some ham and cheese out of the fridge.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely.


Dr Mary Barson: And that they believe that. And that's an idea of that sort of fixed mindset. So gently challenging these and gently encouraging people to challenge these thoughts themselves is key to permanent weight loss, basically.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah. And I, I have used this example many times and I'll continue to use it, because a vegetarian rarely feels deprived about not eating meat. They don't look at meat as something they're missing out on. They just don't want to eat it. And my little one when she was little, and she was nine when she decided to become a vegetarian, she loved bacon, absolutely loved it. It took her a while. She like, let go of all the other things, you know, and I'm in there thinking God, can't you just eat a piece of meat? But no. And then one day she says to me, “Right Mum, I'm ready to let bacon go, I don't want to eat it anymore”. And she hasn't since, and she doesn't sort of lie awake wishing she could eat bacon. She just doesn't eat it.


Dr Mary Barson: Yep, that's it. That's, it's her identity.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yes. Ooh, that's another whole topic, isn't it?


Dr Mary Barson: It is, it is indeed.


Dr Lucy Burns: We might do that; we'll do that in the future.


Dr Mary Barson: Sounds like a good idea. I think it would be good now to go through a few tips about the actual nuts and bolts of how we help people develop their growth mindset. And we've already done this, I'm just, I reckon it would be good if we just sort of, we lay it out in a bit more of a linear process. So, the first thing is to realise that you can improve, like from a scientific standpoint, you can create new thought processes, you can make new neural pathways in your brain, you can literally change your brain by changing your thoughts. So understand that change is possible.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yes, and that your thoughts are just a connection between two nerve cells. So they're not actually you. They're not who you are as your essence. They're just two nerve cells in your brain that have connected, and you can make different connections.


Dr Mary Barson: Mmm, and to challenge your thoughts. So when you get that, that negative inner voice, or not necessarily negative, but it can be, “I can't give up bread. I can't go without bread”. You can challenge that thought gently and kindly and you can quiet it down.


Dr Lucy Burns: Or this one, that low carb is too hard.


Dr Mary Barson: Yeah. Yep.


Dr Lucy Burns: Mmm, why is it hard?


Dr Mary Barson: Challenge those limiting beliefs, or even the belief that low carb is nothing but eggs and avocado. That's a thought that you can challenge.


Dr Lucy Burns: I remember once somebody in our group did put this up once, “Does anyone get sick of avocado”? And it's like, oh, no. Why would I get sick of avocado?


Dr Mary Barson: Who's making you eat the avocado?


Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah, yeah, I don't know. Yeah, it was an interesting thought. So again, a part of a, that's a fixed mindset that she's sick of it. Oh well, don't eat, you don't have, like there's more food in the world than avocado.


Dr Mary Barson: Yeah.


Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah, and again no judgement, just interesting. Interesting.


Dr Mary Barson: I don't eat avocado all that much, I don't. It's not my favourite. So yeah, that's just, yeah.


Dr Lucy Burns: Whereas I like avocado. But only with salt on it I'm gonna say.


Dr Mary Barson: It's pretty amazing. A little bit of apple cider vinegar, yeah that's good. Reward the process, we've talked about this. So it's not the end result of, you know, being able to meditate perfectly, whatever that is, for 30 minutes. Or being able to, you know, run the marathon. It's the process that is the whole point. The process is everything. And to reward yourself for that process, you know. Don't reward yourself with ice cream. But to give yourself a mental pat on the back and to really be your own inner cheerleader when you are progressing and working towards your goals and getting to where you want to be.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And you know, again that focus, people focus on the scales and they go, “Oh well, I haven't done”, you know, we have a little “Toot your trumpet Tuesday” in our group, you know we encourage people to talk about their wins, across all sectors. And you know, some people will focus on that scale, “No win for me, nothing's changed”. And it's an interesting, that's part of a fixed mindset and it's, again, it's not their fault. That's diet culture, that tells you your only win is that the scales have gone down.


Dr Mary Barson: Mmm. The final part that we help people with cultivating that growth mindset, is to accept failure and slip ups and creeps and lapses as part of the process, and to celebrate them for their fabulous learning potential. Failures are your greatest learning tools.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And you know with, there is no human in the whole wide world that has never failed, unless they never do anything. Okay, unless they never do anything, that's the only way you can't fail, is to do nothing. So anybody who ever fails, you're doing something and that's, you know, total awesomeness.


Dr Mary Barson: The best way to permanent weight loss is to embrace your failures.


Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. A wonderful, wonderful learning opportunity. All right lovelies, so what we'd encourage you to do this week is just gently challenge some of your thoughts. Become aware of them I guess is the first point, you can't challenge them if you're not aware of them. But just notice them and go, “Ooh, interesting”. Again, you're not bad. You're not a terrible person. You're not hopeless. Interesting, it's my favourite word. Maybe that'll be my word of 2022, I've been thinking of a word. Last year's was cultivate. Interesting. Isn't it interesting that I always go to this? Wasn't it interesting that last week when Mary talked about bounty, bing into my brain came a picture of a Bounty? It's just, we are fascinating creatures.


Dr Mary Barson: I love it. Interesting is like the essence of mindfulness. It is observing your thoughts with interest and curiosity. And understanding that you are not your thoughts. I love it. You just think that it's interesting. It is interesting.


Dr Lucy Burns: Wonderful. Have a gorgeous week beautiful humans. See you all next time.


Dr Mary Barson: Bye now.


Dr Lucy Burns: 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 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.

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