Do you feel trapped in a cycle of emotional overeating? Do you find that you sometimes eat when you don’t even want to or eat more than you intended to only to regret it later? Mama, you are so normal. Your brain is working exactly as it was designed to work only… it’s not helping. 

Sterling explains why our brains are so primed for emotional eating and how we can be compassionate to ourselves and stop giving in to the strong urge to overeat.

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Hello, mamas, and welcome to episode nine of the made for greatness podcast. I’m Sterling Jay. And today I’m going to be talking about weight loss. And as I was planning this episode, I thought like, how could I talk about weight loss in a way that is interesting to women who don’t want to lose weight? So hang with me because that was my goal for this episode, that it would be powerful for both women who have struggled with overeating for most of their lives and are carrying a lot of extra weight, or just find in general that they don’t have freedom around food, but I’m also going to be sharing some principles that helped me along my weight loss journey that could apply to someone who isn’t struggling with their weight and doesn’t struggle with overeating or stress eating. Okay. So as most of you know, I lost 70 pounds in 2020.

And what was so incredible about that was I have been heavy for most of my life, right. So I knew that I was chubby by the time I was 10. So I remember being 10. And I remember being like, Oh, you are chubby and you have to buy different sizes than your friends. And I didn’t like my school picture. And so that awareness happened then, and then there was lots of ups and downs, but I was never thin. Right. And so I was always I’m five, three. And I would say that I was mostly always in the one 60 to one 80 range. And then I would, you know, lose 20, 30 pounds and I would gain weight and kind of went through that. Yo-Yo over and over and over again. And my husband actually proposed to me at my heaviest weight, which was 205 pounds.

And I just love that. I love that a man on the planet, like decided to marry me at the most I ever weighed, which is just cool. I mean, it just shows that love isn’t about weight and you can find someone who really loves you for who you are. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad to want to lose weight, to have confidence and to shine brightly, but you don’t need to. And so I just love that in my struggle with weight loss, I feel like God gave me this gift that showed me that somebody could love me the way that I was. And so it was two Oh five. And and then I did the thing where you take HCG and you basically eat what I call water foods, which is like cabbage and apples and nothing there.

And then you lose a ton of weight and I did, I lost 40 pounds pretty quickly, but I will tell you, I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with HCG. And that if you just eat water foods and less than 500 calories a day, you too will lose a significant amount of weight, but you will be a grumpy bear while you do it. So I’m, I got married at one 65

And I think I gained 38 pounds. We got pregnant right away. I gained 38 pounds. So I was really, I think I ended up weighing exactly two Oh five on the day that I walked into the hospital with my oldest.

And so anyway, After that, I had five more babies, lots of ups and downs. There was a good year in there where I was really eating paleo food and CrossFitting, and I got down to one 47 and that was the smallest I had ever been really since I had remember remembered Wade and myself. And so I did that by kind of white knuckling it through and eating paleo foods and CrossFitting, which is pretty intense for a year. And so I was able to do that and then

I got pregnant. And so that’s when I started

Gaining weight again. Then I had three babies in three years and it was a lot

Basically means I was, you know,

Three months and got pregnant again. And so I didn’t have a lot of time to lose baby weight. And I was pretty good at losing baby weight in between babies. When I had time, I wasn’t getting thin, but I had never been thin, but I was kind of getting back to where it was when I had the babies. So

So let’s see. So I had the three babies. I don’t totally know what I weighed when I walked into the hospital with baby number six, but I want to say it was probably two 40. I think I was about two 40

When I had Peter and that was like Peter inside me and all of this stuff. So I think that’s what my highest was pregnant. And when I weighed myself

Three months, it was three months after Peter was born. It was January of 2020. I was two Oh five. So between having the baby and losing some baby weight, but I don’t try very hard to lose weight in the first three months because I’m trying so hard to bring my milk in and to breastfeed. And I struggle with that. So I’m just all in on that. And the, for example, I eat oatmeal because that helps bring your milk in, but then it’s not great for weight loss. So I don’t weight myself or think much about that for three months postpartum. And then in January it was two Oh five. So somewhere between having a baby and breastfeeding him, I got down to two. Oh, and then I went from two Oh five to one 35 over 2020. So that was absolutely incredible and blew my mind.

The first half of that weight, I did the way that I had done before, which was eating paleo and intermittent fasting and walking, I, at that point was just walking, maybe some kettlebell swings here and there, but I certainly was not CrossFitting. And then I discovered Brooke Castillo and the life coach school and life coaching, and it completely blew my mind open. And it showed me that my thoughts create my, my feelings and my feelings drive my actions, which gives me my results, which always reflect my thoughts. Okay. So if I had the thought, this is so hard, then I would be feeling hopeless. And from that place, I would make a not great choices and then went and ended up with the result of making my life harder. Right? That’s how that works, especially with weight loss, but with any problem, if you find yourself consistently thinking I’m stuck, this is hard.

I don’t know what to do. Those are what I would call indulgent thoughts. And they usually create indulgent feelings of, you know, being a victim, feeling stuck, feeling hopeless. And what’s interesting about indulgent thoughts and feelings. And I’m sure we’ll do a whole episode on this at a different time is that they keep us stuck in those places. And they are themselves a form of buffering. So instead of taking responsibility for our own lives and looking at them, head on and saying, how am I, I contributing to this problem and how can I be part of the solution instead we just buffer with, I don’t know, confusion. I just don’t know what to do. Nothing seems to work, work for me. And so a lot of you are doing this about your weight. You’re like, Oh, I just don’t know what to do. I’ve tried everything.

It’s so hard. It’s hard, not fair. Why doesn’t she have to do it? Why can my husband, he, whenever he wants. And a lot of you are doing this about different areas of your life, maybe with a strong-willed child. And you’re like, why is he so hard? I don’t know what to do with him. This isn’t fair. The other moms don’t have kids like this. It’s never going to get better. Okay. Mama’s those thoughts are weeds planted by the devil and it is taking over the lovely garden in your brain and it’s making it a painful place to be. And for those of you who have struggled with the prison of stress, eating and overeating and eating, when you don’t want to, and not being able to kick this problem,

I know how painful that feels. It feels like a prison. It feels like a death sentence. It feels like it steals all your

Joy, but it’s your fault because you keep doing it. It is really hard. It is so hard to watch myself binge eat something, hating myself all doing it. Oh, that makes me kind of choked up. Like

For sure, I’m not talking to the moms who were like, I had a baby and I have 15 extra pounds to lose. I’m talking to you mamas who have been chubby since you were 10

Or 20, ors ince that first baby, and it’s never gone back.

You know, if you are an emotional eater, when you just can’t imagine handling your life without carbs and sugar or alcohol, all of those things are things we use to Sue ourselves. And I’ll tell you, I’m not really that into sugary things actually. So, you know, my problems were more around like pizza or Thai food, or I dunno, I kicked bread a while ago. So not, not that so much, but

Even rice like, Oh, I love a lot of rice because it just sits in my tummy and it fills up that space. So I don’t have to feel the pain of my own life, but here’s what I wanted to share with all of you today. And I talk about a lot of the reasons why we overeat in the masters weight loss program, but here’s my favorite

That I wanted to share with you. So our brains, we’re designed to keep us alive in very difficult situations. And we had thousands of years of our brains trying to keep us alive, where we had to forage food and not get eaten by tigers.

And we had to fit in with tribes because that increased our likelihood of survival. So right. Like a tremendous amount of time that our brain has been programmed, that these are the most important things. And then relatively a short amount of time that we’ve said, you know, we’re actually fine. Now we have indoor plumbing.

If we don’t make friends, we don’t get kicked out of the tribe and starve of, you know, and serve, right? Like we’re going to be okay. There are no tigers, okay, we’re eating us anymore. So the things that got us to this place as humans was that our brain was designed to do three things. And we call this the emotional triad. It was designed to seek pleasure because if we didn’t eat food and if we didn’t make babies,

They wouldn’t have worked. Okay. So it was really, really hyper-focused on seeking pleasure. Then it was focused on a voice

Pain, Hey, you don’t like snakes or spiders or bats or tigers or red berries. Let’s be careful of those, right? Like it began to form these patterns of danger and said like, Hey, let’s avoid danger. And then the last one was avoiding effort. So it was always

Looking for ways to conserve energy because we needed to save our energy

Energy in case that tiger did come. So we wouldn’t want you to spend extra time gathering

Food, if you could do it in a faster way. And it would remember the fast way that you did

It. And it’d be like, let’s do that again. Cause it totally worked. Okay.

Pleasure avoiding pain and avoiding effort. Now what sucks about this is that these three things are completely working against us in our modern society because we have access to pleasure life. The brain has never known. We have television and sugar and advertisements and social media. We get flooded with dopamine really at like drug levels, lll the time. And the brain is just like nom, nom, nom, nom, nom. I’m so happy. Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom. I’m gonna eat all these things. I’m going to do all these things. This is so wonderful. Right. But it’s kind of Fritz sing out because it’s getting flooded with this desire. And it’s creating over desire for things. And an over desire is a kind of a disordered

Want of something. And so it’s like if I told you that I was going to take your phone away for five days and you started to have like some drama about that, it’s because you have created an over desire for your phone. And it totally makes sense because your brain was designed to seek pleasure and to avoid pain.

And so every time you’re looking at your children and you’re like, Oh, these children are causing me pain in whatever way that they do. And they do because they’re human. And you’re like, okay, I’m going to go into my phone to seek pleasure. And it immediately gives you relief. And so your brain goes cool. That worked really well. It did not take a lot of effort to remove that pain. So you hit all the points on the emotional triad. Okay. And this is exactly what happens when we eat food, right? We’re like, Ooh, is there tension in my marriage? Am I worried about our finances? Do I just not like myself? And I feel like a big screw up, do I have social anxiety? And I just can’t even handle thinking about that event that I have to go to tomorrow, whatever your pain is,

When you actually eat the pizza or the brownies of the ice cream, it floods your brain with the pleasure that it’s looking for. It crowds out those feelings of pain. So it avoids pain. And it’s very fast. Okay. I’ve said this a lot, but even just seeing an ad for food will begin releasing dopamine. It works very, very well. So here we are in this society, which is like a perfect storm for our brain to make us overeat and gain weight. And we are only overweight because we eat more than our body needs. There is like a minuscule, super tiny speck of the population that actually has some sort of medical condition that keeps them overweight. But for the vast majority of us mamas it’s that we just put too much food in our mouth.

Okay. Okay.

And so this is one part of the program where I just explain why our brain has gotten us here and rewards us for this and really drives us to overeat because it’s like, Hey, this makes us feel so good. And it works every time and we can’t be in pain. And this is what’s confusing to your brain. And the mindset work that we do in the program is that we begin to tell our brain, listen, honey, I’m feeling really nervous about Lucy, not reading well, or Nathan’s math skills, not being up to par.

There isn’t a tiger. It’s okay.

That I’m uncomfortable about this right now, but we’re not in danger. And this amount of pain is completely fine. And so we began to talk to our brains to kind of talk them off the ledge. Like, listen, this isn’t a life or death issue. You don’t need to flood me with cortisol to prepare me to save myself, right? No one is under a burning car. I don’t need the editor-in-chief

To lift it. Yeah.

That sounds awesome. Like that we can get a flood of energy and do incredible things, but actually that level of cortisol wrecks our body. And we really don’t want to go into those types of responses.

But a lot of you, I have a tiger level cortisol response. When you look at your calendar, it feels that scary. And if you struggle with food, you’re going to look at that calendar. You’re going to feel tiger level overwhelmed. And then you’re going to go eat something to make that pain go away. And it’s going to work very, very well. And this is why most diets don’t work because they just tell you what to do, but they don’t tell you why they don’t tell you why you’re eating. And they don’t tell you how to stop thinking that way. And that’s why the food isn’t even that important.

And I tell you that in the program, you can eat whatever you want. I make some very specific recommendations that you can do whatever you want. Like weight Watchers style, right? That’s weight Watchers thing. They’re like, listen, you can eat whatever you want. As long as you count the points. If you want all your points to be wine and Oreos rock God. And I agree with that because food is not bad. How we use food serves us well, or it does not. And that is what I want to teach you. I want to teach you to listen to your brain

To talk yeah. enough allege when it’s telling you that you’re in Supreme danger. And instead you’re going to be like, listen, honey, I have a headache. Okay. I’m going to be okay. I can handle headaches. Yes. It’s uncomfortable. I made a plan for when I have headaches.

Yes. I’m really good at managing pain. And I have a protocol for what to do when I experienced pain. This is really important for those of you that have chronic pain or auto-immune diseases, right? Like instead of your brain saying, Oh no, we’re going to die. And you’re living in that energy all day long, which is of course going to create terrible actions and results instead just saying like, yeah, we have Hashimoto’s today is not a great day, but I know how to deal with not great days. I’m really good at living with pain. I have a plan.

And it’s the same for those of you that are soothing yourselves with food, we’re going to take emotional responsibility for our lives. Nothing that has happened in the past predicts, what’s going to happen in the future. Listen, I have been a person who has struggled with overeating my entire life and I am not now. And I’m not at zero. I still struggled over Christmas. I was surprised about that. And I talk about that in the program. I wasn’t intending on talking about that in the program, you guys, but there was an audio glitch. So I had to rerecord all of my videos, but it ended up being wonderful because I loved getting to talk about my Christmas experience, which was that I struggled. Like I wasn’t fixed it. Wasn’t over. I lost 70 pounds. I ate completely unplanned for my birthday, no cake at all. So I was strong enough to handle my birthday and eat really good food. And I was so proud of, but the amount of pain that I experienced around Christmas was just too high for my emotional level right

Now. But the other thing I teach you in the program is how to love yourself and be so kind to yourself when you eat off plan. And I knew that that’s how I was going to treat myself, that I was going to be like, Oh honey, of course you did that. The holidays are really painful for you. You really struggle. And you feel like an orphan

And you tell yourself a lot of stories and they’re, they’re deeply more working on it, but they’re still there. And between that amount of pain and some other things that had happened, like there were just a lot of things stacked against me.

And I ate some things the few days before Christmas.

I loved myself through that. I was proud of myself for not going off the rails and eating like buckets and buckets of things, which is what I had done every other year.

And that is just so crucial that we learn how to repair our relationship with ourselves. And then we learn how to speak kindly to ourselves.

Yes. So this is my message for you,

All of you, but especially those of you that are struggling

Lose weight and you just don’t even want to try again. Cause I know how that feels

Or you’ve been counting down the days to January 1st because you love that as like that burst of motivation,

Even though in the back of your mind, you’re kind of scared, like this never lasts.

I want you to be compassionate with yourself and say, I overeat because of the culture that I live in because of the emotional triad that drives my brain, there is nothing wrong with you. It is not a willpower issue. You are not bad.

You are not a screw up, right?

Like it completely makes sense why you are overeating. Your brain is operating exactly the way it was designed to operate. It just hasn’t caught up to 20, 20 or 2021

On it has not caught up yet. And so your

Job is to begin noticing your thoughts

And really challenging them. Is that true?

Don’t you want me to experience right now? What kind of pain am I avoiding?

What does it feel like to just actually feel the pain of rejection or disappointment?

Can I just sit in that energy? It’s usually less scary than we think the way,

How can I speak to myself with love and compassion and learn to feel my feelings and what new thoughts can I choose to have about myself? The new thought may be I’m becoming a woman who doesn’t struggle with food. I’m learning how to feel my feelings instead of eat them. My past has nothing to do with my future. Those are all really good thoughts. So I hope this episode was helpful for you, whether you’re struggling with weight or anything else. I hope there were some gems in there for you. I would love it. If you came over to Catholic, mom’s social, I post every podcast episode there and then we can talk about it. And more than anything, if you are struggling with your life, come join us in masters because we will help you untangle what’s going on in your mind so that you can actually feel like you have control over how you show up in your own life, because that is really possible. And let me tell you, it feels like freedom. All right, mama said, love you. I’m praying for you do this work because remember mama, you were made for greatness!