Episode 87 Summary
- Brian Keane is a leading nutritionist and personal trainer in Ireland. Having originally studied to be a primary school teacher, Brian realised almost immediately that this was not what he wanted to do with his life upon starting his first teaching job. Whilst persisting with teaching for the next four years, Brian simultaneously undertook various fitness and nutritional studies and worked as a personal trainer at a gym, before following his passion and transitioning full time into the health, wellness, and fitness industry.
- Over the last eight years, Brian has transitioned from one-to-one personal training to coaching people online. He has also written several books, including his first book, “The Fitness Mindset”, which was a bestseller. He specialises in the mindset side of both fitness and food, encompassing things such as not using food to soothe, not being an emotional eater, not demonising food, and making your nutrition work for you.
- Fear as a self-limiting factor - our brains are hardwired to avoid risk and therefore anything that is a little bit new or scary, such as a change in diet or a weight loss goal, we will often avoid as our brain tells us this will keep us safe. However, this fear disguised as practicality can really hold you back from your end goal, so you have to make sure you're seeing things the right way.
- The most common things holding people back - in Brian's experience 80 to 90% of people are held back by two things. One is that they can't focus on the present moment and what they need to do and instead find themselves daunted and overwhelmed by all the work of what they need to do to reach their end goals. The other area where people fall down is not knowing why they're doing it and not being clear on the underlying driver or motivation or desire to why it is that they want to get to where they want to go to.
- People can overcome these constraints by firstly focusing on an acronym Brian uses called WIN - what's important now? This translates to what can you do now that is within your control that will help you get to your specific goal? This can refer to things such as preparing a meal, making a good food choice, or meditating. The other thing to do is to really make sure you know what your underlying drivers are and to know why you are trying to reach your goal, particularly if your goal is weight loss.
- Success leaves clues - if you look at people who are successful in what they're doing, including weight loss, there's a common thread running through the things that they do, and you can take the best ideas from them because they're leaving those clues behind. Successful people are taking small steps and compounding these positive choices over days, weeks, months and eventually years. It's about what you do consistently every day that determines your success.
- Changing how you think - you can think the same as anybody if you choose to. For example, some people literally do not care about food and there is no reason why with some time and guidance you can't copy this way of thinking and change your thoughts so that food is no longer your dominant thought all the time.
- What to do if you “fall of the wagon” - if you go off plan for whatever reason, don't press the “f*ck it button” where you let one slice turn into the whole cake or one bad meal turn into ten bad meals. Instead, just reset and get back on plan. This then becomes the new conditioning where you reset and do this consistently. Bringing awareness to what you are doing is also important, such as asking yourself, “What's this next slice going to satisfy that the last slice didn't?”
- Separating emotional hunger from physical hunger - a lot of people are not able to differentiate between emotional hunger and physical hunger. One simple way to tell the difference is emotional hunger tends to be a lot more head-based, where it feels like it's all above the neck and then physical hunger tends to be lower down. Another simple way to differentiate between them is emotional hunger tends to be very sudden, and physical hunger is a lot more gradual.
- Rewiring your relationship with failure - seeing failure as a bad thing is a detriment to most people hitting their end goal because failure isn't a bad thing, it's not even an end product. Failure is feedback on what didn't work, and you can use that feedback to improve going forward. If you try something and it doesn't work, view it as, “That was an experiment, and it didn't work. Good, I won't do that again”, rather than “I can't believe I did that. I'm never going to get there” and go down that spiral of negativity.
- The importance of self-compassion - if you do have a little slip-up or lapse and go off plan, don't be hard on yourself, it doesn't help. Instead, examine your slip up using the alliteration SLC, which is self-reflection, learning and this is done with compassion.
- Using a coach - sometimes our brains can tell us that something is simple, and we should be able to do it ourselves. However, if you've tried and you haven't been able to, find a coach that can help you. If you want to get where you want to go and you can't do it by yourself, find somebody who's going to be the best fit for you and help you with your journey.
Connect with Brian:
YouTube: Brian Keane Fitness
Purchase Brian's books:
Rewire your mindset
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, it's Dr Lucy here again. I am without my gorgeous friend, Dr Mary today, but I have a guest with the most beautiful voice that I think you are all going to love because you know, we all love an Irish accent. So I am thrilled to welcome to the podcast, an Irishman, Brian Keane, who is well established over there in the nutritional space and the fitness industry, and you know, our favourite thing to talk about mindset, that is also one of his pillars. So I am super excited to talk to him today and I think he's going to share some gems with us. So Brian, welcome to the podcast.
Brian Keane: Dr Lucy, thank you so much for having me on. I'm really looking forward to chatting.
Dr Lucy Burns: Oh, as am I, as am I. I think it's gonna be a rollicking, good fun podcast. It's interesting, so we, at the start of the year, like I try and have a word. I know it's a bit cliche. Last year, my word was cultivate, which is a great word because you can just apply that to anything. But this year, my word is fun, so I think we're gonna have fun today.
Brian Keane: I think so, I'm really looking forward to it. As I said right before we went on air, we've got a million different things we can talk about based on all the conversations we've had and you know, you've given me some wake-up calls, that self-soothing versus self-care podcast that you did was a bit of an eye opener for me on my side. So I know we're not talking on that today, but I'm really impressed with the work you're doing, so I'm looking forward to hopefully serving your audience with some mindset and nutrition tips that will help them.
Dr Lucy Burns: Awesome, awesome. So I guess a couple of things that come to mind. So you're clearly Irish, which you know we love. Australians love a good Irish accent. And in fact, I did see some sort of I think it was a survey once on you know, the most easy listening English, you know accents for English speaking people and Irish accents are at the top. Sadly, New Zealanders and I know we have a lot of New Zealanders, they were at the bottom. And I think Australia was just above England, so you know bad luck for us, but good luck for you. So, tell me, tell me about your life. I just really want to start with you know, what do you do? Who do you serve? And what are your favourite things to talk about?
Brian Keane: Yeah, so I have a little bit of a different story to how I kind of got into the health, wellness and fitness industry to most. I was a primary school teacher for four years, that was my background. And I kind of fell into the fitness industry by accident for the most part, off the back of having studied in university to become a teacher. And I'd say I was 30 minutes, maybe 40 minutes into my first ever job in a school in a year three classroom in London, Dr Lucy, when I had this realisation, “Oh my god, this isn't what I want to do”. I've spent, I've spent four years in university, and now I'm doing this job and I can't picture myself doing this for the next 40 years. And to cut a long story short, I stuck with that job and I worked as a teacher for four years to just give people a bit of a premise. It wasn't a quit there and then moment. But I came home that Christmas, so we started in September, I came home that Christmas, and I was talking to my mom, who's the closest person to me, has been literally my pillar and my rock my whole life. And I was telling her how much I hated my job and what I was doing, and she asked me a question that I've since put to so many people, that I'd never considered in all of my 24 years on this planet up to that point. She said, “What would you do for free”? And I never thought about it, and I came back to her and said, “Well, I would work in a gym for free”. I was like, “I love fitness. I love working out, I love training. I would love to be in that industry”. And she said, “Okay, well why don't you go and do that”? It was such a simple but unbelievably profound way of thinking for me at the time. And over the next few years, I didn't make the jump straightaway, I went and got all my level two fitness instructor courses, in level three certified personal trainer, then my sports nutrition and my nutrition, my strength and conditioning over the next couple of years. And for two years, I worked as a teacher during the day, and I worked as a personal trainer in a gym at night-time. And it got to the point where I was getting paid to be a personal trainer in a gym, and I couldn't believe somebody was paying me every time. I'd get money handed over, I'm like “I can't believe I get paid for this”. And it gave me a little bit of a sign and a signal that I should probably try and make this full time and make a go of this. So in 2014 I moved back home, back very close to where I grew up in the west of Ireland and started from scratch. Before I had any social media, before I'd written any books, before I had any podcast, I basically moved back with my goal of what I call in books, “Getting my ladder against the right wall”. With teaching, the analogy that I've used is it felt like I'd spent years climbing a ladder, and then got to the top and it was up against the wrong wall. And with personal training and with fitness, it felt like, “Yes, I'm at the bottom of the ladder, but it's up against the right wall”. And over the last eight years, I've gone from one-to-one personal training to online coaching is what I do with people now. I've written several books that did phenomenally well. My first book, “The Fitness Mindset”, came out in 2017 and spent 16 weeks on the Amazon bestseller list and sold 1000s of copies, way better than I ever dreamed. Like, I'd love to be like, “Dr Lucy, I knew. I knew that book would do amazing”. But, but I didn't, I wrote it to try and serve my audience, because a lot of my clients were struggling with the mindset element of fitness. Like a lot of them knew how to get in shape, the you know, diet a little bit tighter, move more, train more, exercise more to a degree, but they were self-sabotaging, or they were falling off track, or they weren't setting goals, or they had unrealistic expectations, or their mindset was completely off. They weren't dealing with stress, or their anxiety, or their worry, all these things that were inhibiting their progress in the gym, or outside of the gym. And that book did so well cause I think it probably hit a gap that hadn't been previously covered. And then over the last few years, I've spent time with, you know, like I love what I do, I literally have one of those jobs that I can't believe I get paid to do, when it comes to speaking to cool people on podcasts, coming on podcasts like this and speaking with people like you, Dr Lucy, writing the books, and you know, doing the courses, the programs and working with my clients. And I have that balance, you know, I've got my family. I've got my daughter who's you know, nearly seven now, she's seven next month. And I've got that kind of wonderful life balance at the minute that I'm very happy that I've been able to build. And yeah, I've been very lucky. I specialise in that mindset side of fitness and mindset side of food. You know, not using food to soothe, making sure that you're not being an emotional eater, that you're making your nutrition work for you and you're not demonising food and separating it into good and bad categories, and all these things that can potentially hold people back. So that's a long-winded way of saying how I got to where I am now.
Dr Lucy Burns: I love that story and you know, have you heard of the concept of ikigai?
Brian Keane: No.
Dr Lucy Burns: Okay, so I love, so ikigai is a Japanese phrase and the way I remember it is it rhymes with sticky-i. And it is like a Venn diagram, except there's four circles that intersect. And with your circles, you pick something that you're good at, something that the world needs, something that you love doing, and then something that you can get paid for. And in the middle of that intersection is your ikigai, which becomes your life purpose.
Brian Keane: I love that.
Dr Lucy Burns: So you've basically just described beautifully, your life purpose.
Brian Keane: Oh, I'm definitely going to use that, ikigai.
Dr Lucy Burns: Ikigai sticky-i. I know, it's a goodie and I think it, you know, whenever people move off their path, if you come back to that it just, just makes sense.
Brian Keane: It does. It's one of those things that I flip flopped when I'm offering advice to people because I had, for me, Lucy, I already knew for as long as I can remember how much I loved fitness and training and working out and eating a certain way. But I had like a fear disguised as practicality element when it came to setting up a career in the fitness industry. I was afraid to do something that I thought that well if I do it and I turned my, this sounds so stupid when I say it back in hindsight, but because I loved fitness so much, I was afraid that if I did it as a career, I would stop to love it and then I would have nothing effectively. And it's so silly, it's literally like saying, you know, you found the most amazing person, your romantic partner in the world, don't spend any time with them. Like, it is silly.
Dr Lucy Burns: In case you get sick of them, yeah,
Brian Keane: Just in case, it's the career equivalent of that. But that was fear disguised as practicality for me, where I was, I would have language like, you know, “I shouldn't leave a safe and secure job”, you know, inverted commas, you know, in quotes. That fear was something that held me back and it's funny because for me it was in the career sense, but I see it with people with their nutrition and with their diet all the time where they have these self-limiting beliefs and they're nearly afraid to either, in the keep the analogy I use, get their ladder against the right wall with their nutrition, or just get over whatever it is, or getting to the root of the issue. Like if you have, you know this better than anybody, Dr Lucy, with emotional eating, using food to soothe, binge eating and all things that I've struggled with myself, there's roots and there's something going on underneath that can be very difficult to get to and there can be fear around that. But once you remove or understand that to get to the root of that fear, like fear for the most part is the lack of data, like once you get more information and more data on what's going on within you, and why you're reacting this way and behaving this way, it makes it easier to put plans in place around it. So I think it's an important one for people, or definitely was for me when I first heard it and internalised it, that that fear disguised as practicality can really hold you back. And if you're trying to get to an end goal of healing your relationship with food, or even healing your relationship with yourself, when it comes to your self-care and looking after yourself, you have to make sure you're seeing it the right way. Because you don't want to get in your own way, and have your own obstacle being, you know fear, when actually that's the thing that's probably going to support you if you learn to get to the root of it.
Dr Lucy Burns: Oh, totally, totally and I love that fact that you've brought up, that fear, because our brains are so hard, I mean they're hardwired to avoid risk, you know. Which makes sense because risk comes with, you know, with the potential outcome of death and as a species, we're trying to avoid dying. So, you know, anything that's a little bit new or a bit scary, is something that we will often avoid, and the stories that our brain can offer to keep us safe, as you said, when you reflect back on them, they're so ridiculous. But at the time, they sound reasonable. You know, they sound like a reasonable story. You know, it sounds reasonable that you wouldn't want to make a career out of fitness and nutrition in case you then get sick of it and then you've got no hobbies left, because you know, that sounds reasonable. Except that it's a bit of BS.
Brian Keane: Exactly.
Dr Lucy Burns: And it's so interesting, because again, with weight loss, a common story I hear and you probably do too, particularly for people that have maybe got a lot of weight to lose, they then get worried about, “Well, what am I going to do with the loose skin”? And it's like, “I don't want to lose weight, because then I'm gonna have to deal with the loose skin”. It's like, “How about we just get to that point“?
Brian Keane: Yeah, worrying about spending your millions before you've earned it, yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah. And I think I've heard, I've heard a couple of like, money mindset coaches who talk about that idea when people start getting worried about, “Well, how am I going to deal with all the taxes”? It's like, “Yeah, well, how about you just get the money first”? So yeah, I totally agree, I think that's a really, a really good point.
Brian Keane: Yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: So when you have people who come to you and you can see them getting in the way of themselves, which you know, is human nature, what sort of advice do you offer them?
Brian Keane: It depends on the person and where I think they're holding themselves back, because it generally comes into two forms, in terms of I'd say 80 to 90% of people, when they start to hold them back, I've seen it come in two shapes, in two forms. One is they can't focus on the present moment and what they need to do because either they're so daunted, or they've completely overanalysed, and analysis by paralysis and all the work they'll need to do to get to the end goals. So if they've got 20 pounds to lose, 50 pounds to lose, 100 pounds to lose, they're so focused on, “Oh my god, where do I start? There's so much to do”. And I tell them to focus on what I call in books the acronym for WIN, how can you WIN? WIN - what's important now? So what's the thing you can do now that helps you get towards that specific goal? I get people to focus, “Well, what's the thing you can do now? Is it preparing a meal? Is it making a good food choice? Is it you know, doing some form of meditation? Is it journaling because you're feeling stressed? What's the thing you need to do now that's going to help you in this moment”? With a lot of people, the more we do that, you know this better than anybody, Dr Lucy, it becomes habitual because that becomes your routine. Where instead of focusing on this anxiety in the future and all this uncertainty, you're like, “Well, what's in my control right now? Controlling the controllable. I can control this moment in what I do next”. That helps a lot of people and over time it becomes conditioned. The other area where people tend to fall down from my experience when it comes to not knowing where to start, is not knowing why they're doing it and not being clear on the underlying driver or motivation or desire to why it is that they want to get to where they want to go to. And an example I use in the last book, “The Keane Edge: Mastering the Mindset for Real, Lasting Fat-Loss”, was a story from when I was a one-to one-personal trainer. I had one of my girls come in to me, who said I want to lose 20 pounds. And I have used the same category or the same line of question over and over again, for as long as I was doing one-to-one person training before I moved online, a little bit even now. But I asked her, I said, “Okay, that's great. Why do you want to lose 20 pounds”? She said, “Oh, well, I've got my sister's wedding coming up”. I said, “Okay, that's brilliant. Why do you want to lose 20 pounds for your sister's wedding”? She goes, “Well, there's a dress I really want to fit into. I was like, “Okay, brilliant. Why do you want to lose 20 pounds for your sister's wedding so you can fit into a dress”? She goes, “Well, I want to feel sexy and confident when I'm at the wedding”. I was like, “Okay, great”. Well, I was like, “Why do you want to lose 20 pounds for your sister's wedding to fit into your dress so that you'll feel sexy and confident”? She goes, “Well actually a guy that I've really fancied for years is going”. I was like, “Okay, gotcha”. And what that did, was it helped me understand why she was here. But it also made her figure out, “Well, this is my underlying driver. This is my motivation right now for this goal I'm trying to hit”. And it doesn't have to be something like that, it can be completely different. You get people who are like, “Well, I want to be able to run around with my kids”, or you know, “I want to live longer”, or, “I want to feel better and I just, you know I feel crap or rubbish within myself because my energy is poor and you know, I'm stressed out all the time and I'm turning to food”. You have different underlying drivers and whys, but you need to know what that is. Because otherwise it gets too difficult, because you're relying then on motivation which I would argue is a terrible strategy for long-term success. Like motivation is a state, it's a feeling, it changes. It's, the analogy I use is it's like if you're out on a paddleboard and a gust of wind comes, that's motivation. Your paddling is your habits and what you do consistently every day. You can't rely on that wind; you can't rely on that motivation. It's just basically the way you feel. Successful people, one of my mentors used to always tell me that successful people do what they have to do, regardless of how they feel. And I think when it comes to nutrition, and it comes to exercise, or fitness, or whatever regimen, it's not about how you feel. Because there's days when you're not going to want to work out and there's days when you're not going to want to go for a walk after work. And there's days when you're not going to want to eat, you know, a nutrient dense meal, and you're going to want to eat the box of cookies, or the box of biscuits or the chocolate that's there. And I'm not saying to avoid those foods, like I think, I think an area I try to bring awareness around with people is, you know, there's no good or bad food. Like you know this, Dr Lucy, like, I'm a nutritionist on my site. And I tell people, “Food has no morals”. Like a piece of broccoli is not going to save you from a burning building and a chocolate bar is not going to stab you down a back alley. I'm like, “There's no good or bad food, they have no morals. There's nutrient dense food and there's calorie dense foods. There's food that's void of nutrients and food that has loads of nutrients and everything in between”. And it's not to avoid chocolate and cookies and biscuits, etc. If you want to eat those foods, and you can heal your relationship and the way that you approach them, then that's not going to be a problem. The danger really is in the dose, particularly with people who have you know, food to soothe, emotional eaters, binge eating, etc. From my experience anyway, again, other people better qualified to speak, but from my own experience and working with people, they're areas that you want to look at. And I think based on where you fall in the spectrum, whatever your goal is, particularly if it's weight loss, know why you're doing it and then focus on what you can do today, if you're finding that you're getting that analysis by paralysis, or where you're overthinking everything that you need to do to hit your end goal. And that can normally help when it comes to hitting whatever it is you're looking to do.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And you know what I love, what you just described there was the idea of what can you do right at this moment right now? And I think, we share often this picture and I'm sure you've seen it, which is a ladder and one of the ladders has like lots of tiny little rungs, and the other ladder has maybe just giant rungs. And so when people focus on these giant rungs, they actually can't reach them, so they stay at the bottom. Whereas when you just do the little rungs and you scramble up them, you get to the top. And it feels like, “Well, what's the point of just doing this tiny, insignificant thing”? Except, it makes all the difference.
Brian Keane: It is. Success leaves clues. And when you're speaking to people and you're talking...
Dr Lucy Burns: Say that again, I love that saying. Success, what was it?
Brian Keane: Success leaves, success leaves clues. Like, if you look at people who are successful in what they're doing, there's a common thread running through all of their lives and the things that they do and you can either model or take the best ideas from them because they're leaving those clues behind. And successful people with weight loss, with fat loss, this goes for most areas of life, are taking those small steps and compounding that positive choices that they're making consistently throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the month, throughout the year. Like the days lead into weeks, the weeks into months, months into years. It's about what you do consistently every day that determines how it will go. What I say in books is, “Tell me what you do every day and I'll tell you how you'll look in a year”. That's effectively breaking down your food, your exercise, your stress management, your sleep quality, etc. Success leaves clues. I think it's a very, it's something that I've done in terms of modelling and taking advice from other people, but also it's a recommendation I give to clients and people who are struggling. When they're not sure what to do, I'm like, “Look at the other people who have been successful who you would trade positions with and look what they did”.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yes, it's totally true. In fact, I was talking to a client the other day and lots and lots of women, and men, lots of people struggle with weight management and a lot of it is about their relationship with food. And this woman has had a number of weight loss surgeries, including a gastric bypass. So pretty extreme surgery. But we talked about the idea that her husband, he doesn't care about food. Like, he doesn't think about it. It's not important to him. And so I said to her, “Why don't you just think like him”? She goes, “What do you mean”? I go, “Well, just, you can change your thoughts. You could just think like him. And the more you think like him, like just start small, then the more you will be like him and then food becomes, you know, not your dominant thought all the time”. And yeah, you're absolutely right, you can totally think like anybody you want to if you, if you choose to.
Brian Keane: It's such great advice and particularly if you're fortunate enough that there's someone in your circle, or in your day-to-day network who has that opposite thinking. Like, one of my best friends is the complete opposite to me in nearly every way when it comes to personality. Like I'm very type A, go go go and I struggle with like, gratitude journaling, and gratitude and being present in the moment, things that I've spent years trying to cultivate because they're not my natural default. He's the opposite. Like, you nearly need to kick him out of bed every morning to get him to get up and go, but he is happy with his life, he doesn't need any more. And he takes the best of my personality and I try and take the best of his, and you try and get this perfect kind of balance in between where you've got the sweet spot. And I think as you said there with, you know, the girl and her husband, the exact same, you can take those personality traits and apply them in your own life to get the benefit.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely and then it just gets rid of that struggle. But you know, like everything, doesn't happen overnight but with some time and guidance, you can. You're the master of your destiny, you're the driver. And Mary and I will talk often about this idea that you are not, you're not derailed, you're not falling off a wagon. They imply that you've got no control over the situation. You actually have, you're the driver of the vehicle, if your vehicle goes off path, you just can drive it back. You just need the skills and the knowledge and maybe some support to know how to do that.
Brian Keane: It's so true and it's one of the language or the phrases that I use with people very similar to that “falling off the wagon”, because that's an Irish terminology as well, as well as an Australian and other places, I'm sure. And I tell people when they fall off, I've got two trains of thought when it comes to things like self-sabotage with food in particular. One is, and you can blurt this out because it's the phrase I use in books, it's, “Don't press the f*ck it button when you've gone off track”, meaning that something has happened in life and you've like, bang, “f*ck it button”. You know, stress at work, you know, “I've eaten one bad meal, I may as well eat 10 bad meals. I've had a bad Saturday; the weekend is gone”. You're pressing the “f*ck it button” and you're just spiralling. What's effectively, you know, digging yourself in a hole and you're digging down deeper. And I have a philosophy of just resetting when that happens. If you go off plan for whatever reason, if you've gone to a wedding, you've gone to an event, there's been something at the weekend, somebody brought cake into work, you've gone off plan, that's cool. You're not a bad person for eating cake. But yet, they can, and we have, it's weird, we have the language where the guilt and the shame around the food, I'm like, “Well look, you're not a bad person, you ate some cake, enjoy it. Like I would argue the opposite side. Cake tastes amazing, enjoy it. But don't let a slice turn into the whole cake. Like you reset and you go back on plan. And I know that's such simplistic language for somebody who might have a deep, underlying emotional root and trigger for their cause for binge eating or anything along those lines. But the tactics are pretty much the same, and it just might take you longer to get to that point in terms of how to use that strategy and how to use those tactics, but it can be really useful for people. Like if you're finding that you've gone off plan, the analogy I use in books and on podcasts is if you have one bad meal and then say “f*ck it”, and you go off plan for the rest of the day, or the rest of the weekend, or the rest of the week, it's like driving down the motorway or the highway, getting one flat tyre and then getting out and slashing your other three tyres because one went flat. It's the dietary equivalent of that.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yes.
Brian Keane: And we wouldn't do it with our car, but we do it with our nutrition. And I think if you can stop yourself doing that and just resetting every time you do, similar to that “what's important now” philosophy, it becomes the new conditioning, where you don't press the “f*ck it button” and you reset and you do that consistently. Like, that's a really useful tool that I found with a lot of my clients when it comes to dealing with self-sabotage around food, particularly those who don't have the healthiest relationship with food, because it stops them demonising themselves first and foremost, and then allows them to get back on track and it's about what you consistently do. Like, one chocolate bar is not going to put you off plan, one slice of cake is probably not going to put you off plan. It's your overall nutrition, your overall caloric intake, your overall macro split, all these other things that determine that. But if you eat a full cake every night, yes, probably not going to help with your weight loss goals, like, the danger is in the dose. So you're applying context to your situation and then using tools that can potentially help you.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yes. I love that phrase, “context to you situation”, because you're absolutely right. I mean, it's tricky, because I know there's this story in our head that will go, “Well, one slice of cake's alright, it's no big deal”. And that, that's absolutely true, it's a true statement. Except for lots of people, don't stop at one slice. And for a lot of people, they'll then keep going back to the fridge until it's gone because then they get to the point where they go, “Ahh, this cake's driving me nuts, I've got to just get rid of it”, and the way to get rid of it is to eat it. And it's like, it's interesting, isn't it, because really, the way to get rid of it is to shove it in the bin. If you don't want to have it, if it's bothering you, if it's causing you distress, chuck it in the bin. But instead, we use our body like the bin, we eat it instead. We go, “Oh good, now it's gone”. It's like, “Hmm, is it really”?
Brian Keane: But you know what Lucy, I, the language I had to use around that, as somebody that didn't have the healthiest relationship with food, is when those moments would come, I would ask myself, “What's this next slice of cake gonna satisfy that the last slice didn't”? And I think when you bring a little bit of more awareness to that, it can be helpful, because it's so tempting. And I've been there, I've been the person that's gone, “One slice, two slices, three slices, well, I may as well finish it now”.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah.
Brian Keane: But in those moments, when you ask, “Well, what's this next slice going to satisfy that the last slice didn't”? it can be quite helpful to just kind of knock you out of that automatic eating, and then it's gone, which can happen. Like I used to always feel like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, like somebody else took over, took the wheel, to keep to your analogy, took over the wheel for temporary moments of time, and then the cake was gone. And it's just bringing awareness to what you're doing, I think is important there. Again, as I said, I don't want to simplify something that can be a lot more difficult based on behavioural issues and history and all the reasons that people potentially numb out and food soothe, but it is something that has helped me so I wanted to share it.
Dr Lucy Burns: Oh, absolutely, and I think, you know, you're right, I just love the idea of a “f*ck it button”. I think that, you know, you can decide at any stage, you can decide mid-mouthful if you want to, that you don't actually want to eat this food anymore, you can spit it out. It's funny, you're obviously a storyteller and I love a raconteur and we did the saying, and one of my analogies is the idea that if you were cleaning out your shed, say you've got a shed or a garage, and you've got all this junk, and you've decided to clean it all out, and you're getting halfway through and you know, it's getting a bit hard. And you look down at your feet and suddenly you've realised that a box that you put out has somehow managed to find its way back into your shed and you go, “Oh, that's interesting”. You don't then go around to the neighbours and ask for all their junk: “Can I have all your junk and bring it back into my shed”? Because that would be ridiculous. But that's kind of what we do when we've made a little, maybe a slip and we go, “Ah, well, stuff it, now. I might as well just go the whole hog. I might as well just go and find everything that I haven't been eating and eat it all now in one day”. It's kind of the same. So, I think the interesting thing is that this is clearly the way our brain thinks around the world. It's not just Australians, it's not just New Zealanders. You know, it's Irish people, it's English people, it's Indian people. It's all, it's the way our brain is often, some of it's wiring, but some of it is just conditioning as well. And I'm sure that you are experienced with things like untangling stories in people's heads around, particularly with things like emotional eating. This idea that, you know in movies, in fact I watched a movie the other night, and this young girl and it was having a fight with their parents, I think, and she just sort of ran into a room and she opened the drawer, and in the drawer were this batch of cookies, and she sits down and she eats them, angrily. And that's to kind of deal with the annoyance of her parents. So when people talk to you about that sort of thing, what sort of advice do you give them?
Brian Keane: One of the most popular things that made its way into my last book was off the back of something that I would regularly put to clients, and that was separating emotional hunger from physical hunger. And this is something that was very obvious to me, a little bit of cursory knowledge on my side for sure, as someone who's kind of been through it, is qualified and can speak to it. A lot of people weren't able to differentiate the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. So in the book, I give a table of the difference between the two. But two very simple check ins is emotional hunger tends to be a lot more head-based, where it feels like it's all above the neck and then physical hunger tends to be lower down. And the other is emotional hunger tends to be very sudden, and physical hunger is a lot more gradual. And those two check ins for people can straightaway identify that, “Oh, I'm going to emotion, this is emotional eating now. I'm actually not hungry. I'm feeling emotional and now I'm using food to soothe that”. Physical hunger is a natural thing, it's a physiological response. It's how we all are, it's how we've evolutionary and biologically evolved. Emotional hunger isn't, it's conditioned. It's down to either past traumas or conditioning around food, or a whole host of other things that could potentially be setting it off. And that check in, if you're feeling it right now off the back of listening to this podcast and you're not sure, they're the two. How quickly did that hunger come on? And is it in your head or is it in your body? And I think that check in gets you up and running and started and then it's just about, “Well, what happened”? Like, with clients I work with who will have, and people fall off track, I actually, I'm totally fine with clients falling off track. I'm like, “Well, now is the best time. We're working together so we can actually use this failure as feedback now and see what went on here so that it won't happen again”. Like, I don't want you working with me for the rest of your life, that's not my job as a coach. It's to facilitate you and give you the tools so that you're able to do all of this yourself. And when that happens, I'll get people to go back on what happened prior to the binge eating, what happened prior to pressing the “f*ck it button”, what happened prior to saying stuff it and just eating what you wanted? And there will be clues there, you know they had a fight with a partner, or they're super stressed out at work, or they didn't sleep well at night. There'll be something that happened and when they go back on past experiences when it happened, they're like, “Oh, actually, I always turn to food when I'm stressed at work”, or, “I always have really poor food choices if I've had a poor night's sleep”, and they'll start to see that thread, or they'll start to see that connection or that line between, “This is how I'm feeling, this is how I'm reacting, and this is what happened right around that time”. And once they have that awareness, it makes it easier to put a plan in place around it.
Dr Lucy Burns: Totally. I totally love that, and we use a similar sort of, we use an alliteration, the SLC. So SLC can be the things that people do when they have a little slip, a lapse, or creep. So that's when they're off their plan. But you can then use those same letters, which are self-reflection, learning, and you do it with compassion. And we always say that, if you do it, you can't berate yourself well, and you can't hate yourself thin. If you are able to actually look and listen to what's gone on and reflect, because often what happens, you press the “f*ck it button”, and then you go, “Oh, fine”, and then you just, you don't actually want to think about it ever again. It's like, “Oh, my god, that was such a terrible time. I can't believe I did that. I ate a whole lot of cake. And now I don't want to think about it”. And so you just try and move on. And it's like there's no, you don't give yourself the opportunity to work out what happened. And when you can do that SLC, you can actually as you said, use the failure, the slip, the lapse, whatever word you want to use and learn from it so that you can go, “Oh, I do see this pattern emerging”. So I do, I love that. I love what you're saying there.
Brian Keane: Yeah, I love the SLC, that's so good. And that relationship with failure and seeing failure, quote unquote, as a bad thing, I think is a detriment to most people hitting their end goal because failure isn't a bad thing, it's not even an end product. Failure is feedback on what didn't work, and you can use that feedback to improve going forward, so rewiring your relationship with that I think is really important as well.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. I think that this idea, if we could sort of reframe that everything is like an experiment, like you get to decide, and the thing about an experiment is it either works or it doesn't. So you can decide something and if it doesn't work, well you go, “Oh, well, that was an experiment. Now I know it didn't work. Good. Excellent. I won't do that again”. Whereas it's not just, “Oh my god, I'm useless. I'm so weak, I can't believe I did that. I'm never going to get there” and go down that spiral of negativity.
Brian Keane: That's so true and it's, what's so funny about it as you said earlier, doesn't matter if you're Irish, Australian, New Zealand, American, Canadian, wherever, we all have the same stories and dialogues that go on in our heads and that's all they are, they're stories. And when you can start to question that story, because the story is effectively just what I would argue in support a sense when it comes to weight loss or whatever you're telling yourself, it's just a behaviour pattern that you've repeated to yourself over and over until it's became a belief. And that is all it is, you can change that. If you put new information into your head and you're listening to podcasts like this and conversations like this and then you're doing the reflection yourself, like I think journaling is a very underutilised tool when it comes to identifying what's going on with your weight loss, self-sabotage, particularly. Because those things that keep coming up over and over again, you know, keeping with the “success leaves clues”, failure also leaves clues, but you can learn from that if you're documenting it yourself with journaling, or even just making notes on your phone or, you know, talking back and forth with a coach or whatever it is. I think once you have awareness around it, and as you said, you're bringing that SLC to it, I think that's important, that compassion, self-love, all of those things. Like there's no point being hard on yourself when you've gone off plan, like, it doesn't help. And I would be the first to be like, if that works, you should use that, but you know, you can only whip a dog so long before it stops, you know, coming back to you and that's effectively what you're doing with yourself so it's not a good strategy.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely. And you know, we, I love dog analogies, I use a lot of them, and I will often talk about a dog and...
Brian Keane: I would never whip a dog by the way, just to clarify. I'm a dog person, I wouldn't whip an animal, yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: I know, don't worry, I would never skin a cat either. I know there's many ways to do it. But yeah, I totally agree, and I will often talk about this idea that if you have a dog and you, you just yell at it all the time, yes, it might be obedient, but it cowers in the corner. And it, it's not thriving, it's not living, it just spends its life in fear. Whereas if you, you know, encourage the dog, you reward the dog, you tell the dog it's doing a good job when it's doing a good job and you're firm but fair, because again, if you're not firm with the dog we all know what happens, we've all seen those people who've got dogs that just are out of control. Firm but fair, rewarding. It just makes such a big difference.
Brian Keane: I couldn't agree more. I think applying that to ourselves is, it sounds so simple, but there's genius and simplicity because it's so true.
Dr Lucy Burns: Ah, seriously, I reckon if I had $1 for every time I'd said something is so simple. There's simple and easy and they're quite, they can be different. I think we use them interchangeably but they're not. It's a bit like meditation is simple. The concept is so simple but it's not that easy.
Brian Keane: Yeah, yeah. So true, yeah.
Dr Lucy Burns: Yeah. So if people who have slightly fallen in love with your Irish accent and want to contact you or work with you, or find you, how do they do that?
Brian Keane: Ah, thanks so much, Lucy. I've had an absolute blast and it's been a lovely chat, so it's been awesome to connect. But my podcast, The Brian Keane Podcast, if you like the sound of my voice and podcasts, which you're listening to now, that's probably the best place and Instagram. I'm on all the social media channels. I'm on everything, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, etc. But Instagram is...
Dr Lucy Burns: TikTok, are you doing TikTok?
Brian Keane: I have, I have nearly a quarter of a million followers on TikTok, would you believe, Dr Lucy?
Dr Lucy Burns: Oh, serious.
Brian Keane: For some, for some ludicrous reason I have people following me on TikTok and it's all just silly videos. Now, to be fair, I was on it quite early during COVID and I was putting up a lot of home workout stuff and it exploded. It went from like 2000 to, you know, 200,000 in like six months because of the workout and home workout videos. So I, it's COVID that got me that as opposed to having in-depth, great content on TikTok. I think it was more right place, right time. But I'm honoured, I'm honoured.
Dr Lucy Burns: Wonderful.
Brian Keane: It is my main platform. It's where I'm normally on myself.
Dr Lucy Burns: Oh, awesome, wow. I might have to get some TikTok lessons. And in fact, this is one of the things that Mary and I often talk about is the idea that if you don't know how to do something, or you think you should know how to do it, like I could probably go and Google a video on how to do TikTok, but it doesn't mean I'm gonna be able to do it. And you know, Instagram reels is something that Mary and I keep thinking, “Oh, we should do those”, and I've watched a couple of videos. I'm gonna have to go and get a “reels coach”, because it's just something that I struggle with, even though it seems so simple. And I think that's what our brain says, “It's so simple, I shouldn't need someone to help me do this. It's so simple, I shouldn't need a coach. It's so simple. I should be able to do this by myself”. And you know what, if you've tried and you haven't been able to, then just go and get yourself a coach. Like, seriously, it's not you know, it's really the answer, because at the end of the day if you want to get where you want to go and you can't do it by yourself, there's no shame in asking and getting help.
Brian Keane: 100% more. Funny you mentioned that because one of the best investments I ever made was a puppy course, when I got my dog Rocco. He's a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and I spent, I think it was $100 or $120 on a course on how to train my dog. So from the day I brought him home as a pup, I started training him and now he's the best-behaved dog. He's nearly one now. And I just didn't know how to do it. And I was like, “Well, it's simple to train a dog”, you know. “Teach them to sit and teach them to stay”. And I was like, “Do you know what, this guy's an expert. I'm gonna go and see what he does”. And I was like, “Oh my god, I actually wouldn't have thought of some of these things”, and it was the best investment I ever made. So I couldn't agree more with that. If there's something you don't know, regardless of how, quote unquote, simple it might seem, sometimes you're just better and that might not be me, you know, Dr Lucy and it might not even be you. It might be someone else you've interviewed or somebody else that people connect with, but there's someone out there who can help you and it's about finding who is going to be a good fit for you, you know, square pegs and square holes. Try and find who's going to be the best fit for you and help you with your journey.
Dr Lucy Burns: Absolutely, I love that. And you know what I also think is that, and you mentioned it before, that you don't want to coach somebody forever. The idea is that you give somebody the skills, you help them, you support them, and it's basically like you're the mama bird with the baby birds in the nest and the idea is that you want them to go. You do, you want them to be able to fly independently. What we don't really want is a baby bird just to sort of splat on the ground, that's unhelpful. But you know, the greatest joy is to see your baby birds fly off.
Brian Keane: I couldn't agree more, and I think any coach and most coaches, and you'll see that a lot of people have that same philosophy, and that's who you're looking to seek out that can help you.
Dr Lucy Burns: Wonderful, wonderful. Brian, thank you so much for your time today. It has been a delight; I've had a hoot. And I think that a lot of our listeners will go and look you up. Can you just remind me of the name of your two books? Because I think that, our listeners are readers, we love, we've got a little book group going on, so yeah, tell us.
Brian Keane: Amazing. So, “The Fitness Mindset” was my first book and the most recent one was, “The Keane Edge: Mastering the Mindset for Real, Lasting Fat-Loss.” So both are kind of similar in the sense of they're addressing the mindset side of fitness. The most recent one's a bit more in depth, and the first one is a bit more shorter to kind of get it as an introductory point for people.
Dr Lucy Burns: Beautiful. All right, lovelies. Beautiful listeners, thank you so much for joining us. I will catch you next week and hope you have a wonderful, wonderful week ahead. Have a lovely time. Take care, 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 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.