How to Get Unstuck Making Healthy Changes with Dr Lucy Burns Podcast Episode 172


Transcription of Podcast

Please note this transcription is generated by software. There may be some errors. I hope you find it useful.

Dr Orlena: Hello? Hello. Hello. Welcome to fit and fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena Kerek. I am super, super excited to welcome back. If you haven't checked out the first episode we did together, Dr. Lucy Burns. Welcome. Welcome Lucy.

Dr Lucy: Oh, thanks Orlena. Thank you so much for having me back to it is

Dr Orlena: yeah, we had an absolute amazing time.

Dr Orlena: So if you haven't listened to the first episode we did together, Dr. Lucy talking about fluffy the dog. Yep. And we were talking about carbohydrate cravings. It's a really, really good episode. And I will link to it in the show notes, but for people who didn't listen to that, Lucy, would you like to just introduce yourself a little bit and tell people what you do.

Dr Lucy: Absolutely. So my name is Lucy I'm from Australia. You can probably tell by my accent and I'm a doctor and have a special interest in weight management in particular. I guess emotional eating would be probably one of my, the biggest thing that we do coupled with insulin resistance. So helping people reverse their type two diabetes pre-diabetes And obesity with lifestyle changes.

Dr Lucy: But focusing a lot on the stories

Dr Orlena: in our head. Perfect. Perfect. We are kindred spirits. Yeah, exactly.

Dr Lucy: We are indeed. And do you know what, in some ways we need like matching superhero capes because it's yes. Us versus the toxic diet world of people. I kind of, I get so cross, when I see companies promising promising people that they will lose weight and change their life and you know, their, their solution is a shake or their solution.

Dr Lucy: Yeah.

Dr Orlena: Oh my goodness. Diuretics diuretics will help you lose weight. Well, yes, because you're going to wee out all the water and you will physically weigh less. And yeah, I love that idea. We're going to go with that. We're going to update the club. We're going to have our own capes and we will have to brainstorm that a little bit today.

Dr Orlena: We are going to talk about change. And when we look at the world, I would say people don't have a knowledge gap. Yeah. You might have a little bit of a knowledge gap, but in broad terms, people know what healthy living is. Eating vegetables, don't eat packaged foods, move a little bit, all of these kinds of things.

Most People Don’t Have a Knowledge Problem, They Have a “Doing it” Problem

Dr Orlena: But the big problem that people have is doing it. Yes. And we look at the world and so many people. Leading unhealthy lives, whether that means that they have a problem with weight, which is a big indicator of, you know, being unwell later, or either now or later, And so some people might even have changes and yet they still do not make changes.

Dr Orlena: And you and I are here telling people, Hey, it's so easy. You can make changes. We have all these stories from our clients who say meet these changes. It's so easy. I feel amazing. And yet still so many people who were there going, Hey, I'm not ready to change. I'm not ready to make changes. So you got to set us straight.

Dr Orlena: How, why is this happening?

Why Don’t People Make Healthy Living Changes?

Dr Lucy: Absolutely. Look, I think there's, I mean, there's a number of things that happen, but yeah, people who are not ready for change are often, they often describe themselves as being stuck. And I mean, you know, behavior change, there's a whole science behind it. Code behavior science.

Some People are Stuck in the “Denial” Phase of Change

Dr Lucy: And there, there was a model that was written a quite a long time ago and it's, it's an, it's an okay model. But I just like to tweak it a bit. And it will talk talks about when somebody is not even interested in change and, and we've all met somebody like that. We may have even been that ourselves. If, if you know, you've got, say, you're smoking and you don't want to give up and someone says, oh, it's going to kill you.

Dr Lucy: And you just tell you, just tell somebody to get lost. You don't, I don't care. I'm not interested. I'm not talking about it. I love smoking. I'm never giving. That would be someone who's who's nowhere near ready for change. And so in this behavior model it's called pre-contemplation, which I just actually think is a stupid word, because it's not a word that anybody would use in a sentence ever.

Dr Lucy: And they're

Dr Orlena: not, they're talking about denying

Dr Lucy: definitely. Which is exactly what I call it. Denial.

Dr Orlena: There is a denial phase and I think, you know, one of the things that's really interesting. Just sort of alluded to is that our brains do this thing where we basically adapt the evidence to fit in with our ideas, our emotions and what we want.

Dr Orlena: So that person who's there going, Hey, smoking doesn't kill me. They find evidence and they basically start believing things. That aren't true. And when you put your scientific hat on and go, yeah. If you carry on smoking, you're going to run into problems. Yeah. Belviq

Dr Lucy: none of that live to 110 and smoked cigarettes a day and yeah, I mean, look, it says some protection in there, so your brain is very.

Dr Lucy: If it's very safe for your brain, cause it doesn't have to change. So your brain's kind of happy. Your body's not happy. So, you know, I'll draw this little picture of a person and they've got a sad brain. They're happy brain happy brain. Doesn't actually change. Doesn't have to do anything sad body because the body just has to put up with whatever the person is doing.

Dr Orlena: And it's.

Dr Lucy: It's, you know, there's lots of reasons why there they'll be, they'll stay there that it's safe for them. The idea of change feels hard. There's a lot of stuff that's tricky. So they just stay there. But at the end of the day, most people can't stand and I'll forever something smacks them in the face and says, actually, this is a problem.

Dr Lucy: And depending on what. Talking about, you know, it might be that you, you get a diagnosis of lung cancer. It might be that, you know, you grow out of your undies. That was my one. Or it might be that, you know, your house, you've gambled all your house, your mortgage away. There's something that

Dr Orlena: eventually generation above you getting those illnesses, diabetes and things like that.

Dr Orlena: And that, you know that your on the same path, unless you make changes.

Next Comes the Contemplation Phase of Change

Dr Lucy: Yep. Absolutely. So at some stage you move out of denial and then you move into this next phase, which this behavioral model calls contemplation. And it's where you start to think about change. And that sounds quite lovely. I'm just thinking and, and, and I'm just contemplating.

Dr Lucy: And so, you know, it sounds quite benign, but honestly, for people I've seen who are doing things that are pretty destructive, it's actually not at all benign they're in this new. Part of life where they can pretend the problem doesn't exist, but to move forward, it seems really hard. And so, you know, they're, they start to have, or they may have tried and failed and they start to have a lot of negative thoughts, negative thoughts about themselves, negative thoughts about what they, you know, what they can achieve.

Dr Lucy: I can't do it. I feel stuck. They feel hopeless. They feel guilty. There's a lot of self-loathing they feel a bit useless. So I call that bit. Yeah. And being in purgatory is awful. You know, you've got to change, but it just feels too hard. So one of my things to say to me, well, whatever we do, we've got to get out of purgatory because it's where you have psychological damage about your self esteem and self worth, as well as the physical damage, because you're still doing what it is that you don't want to do.

Dr Lucy: And so you just miserable. So to get out of purgatory, you either scurry back to deny. And honestly, that's not an option. Long-term either. And I've got this little picture in my head of, you know, where you see a bear in the woods and the bear there's this giant bear trying to hide behind a skinny little tree.

Dr Lucy: That's us. When we're in denial. It is it's you

Dr Orlena: can't, he's playing hide and seek and they put their books sticking out of the blankets. Yeah, no, I

Dr Lucy: can see you. Absolutely. So, yes, we can't hide. So then the only option is to really go forward and move into this next phase, which was again in this change behavior model called preparation and not.

Dr Lucy: That's that term. It is the idea where you start to think, okay, I'm going to do something. And that's where people will, you know, if they're smoking, they'll go and throw out all their cigarettes and get rid of all the ashtrays. And maybe if they're eating, they'll go and clean out all their cupboard and buy fresh food or.

The Solution to Change is True Commitment

Dr Lucy: If they're gambling, Val, put a block on their credit card or something like that. So that's all preparation of your sort of environment. But one of the things I like to talk to people about is the idea that you actually need to commit to yourself that you are going to make a change. And what you're going to do is care about yourself, enough to.

Dr Lucy: Which sounds a bit esoteric, but the thing that happens when people start making changes and they hit a wobble is their line that they'll say is, I don't care. I'm not doing this anymore. I don't care. And so when you hear yourself saying that you can actually pull out your bit of paper that you may have made, or your declaration to yourself, that you do care.

Dr Lucy: And that you care enough to kind of move past whatever this speed Humpy is and the speed, how it can be lots of things. Sometimes it is just preparation of your you know, things. So as an example, I'll often say to people. If you've made a commitment, say you've got a little kid, you've got a small child and you know that they do an afterschool activity.

Dr Lucy: And the deal is that, you know, normally the coach waits around to all the parents come. And one day that coach says this and parents next week, I actually have to be, I have to leave at five o'clock. I've got a really important appointment, so I'm going to be going. So if you're not here, Bad luck. Little Johnny is going to be there by himself and you go, oh God, we don't want that to happen.

Dr Lucy: So in your head, you put it in your diary, you make all these plans and you're committing and you know, you might be at your friend's house and maybe they say, do you want another coffee? And you got it's tempting, but no, I've made this commitment. So I'm going to go ahead and as you're driving along, you know, maybe the traffic's really bad and your brain goes, oh my God, this is too hard.

Dr Lucy: I'll just get him next to. We just wouldn't do that. I love it because we've made a commitment to this person. And as we're driving along and we see something really tempting, you know, maybe there's a sale on it. Your favorite shopping, everything's like 50 cents you think, oh my God, I'm never going to have that bargain ever again.

Dr Lucy: But. You don't go there because you've made this commitment to this other, to this small child. So you just forego that temptation and keep going. And this is what happens in our life. You know, people go, oh, but you know, I didn't, I didn't buy any food this week. So I had to go and eat takeaway and it's like, yeah, but you've made a commitment.

Dr Lucy: And as that part of that commitment, you, you do everything to make sure that what you're going to do happens. So that's what you're doing in the preparation phase. You're really getting clear on that committee. And then it makes the next phase, which is called the action phase. Easy. You're doing it. Yeah.

Dr Lucy: Now the thing that happens for a lot of people with that action phase is that they rely on things that I call external. And what that is, is that people cheering you on. So again, if you're, if you're trying to do is wait, people will go, oh my God, you look amazing. How, how many kilos have you lost? How many pounds of you're dropped?

Dr Lucy: And, you know, you can sort of talk and it's all exciting and you get on the scales and you see all these numbers going down. But the thing is. All of that, we'll stop at some stage because it just does. That's what life is. And it's a bit like smoking again, people first stop and everyone's going, you know, Bob, how many days Bob says, you know, 35 and how many dollars have you saved?

Dr Lucy: And Bob gives some enormous amount of money. And then two years down the track when Bob's still not smoking, no one really gives the rats. So no one's asking him anymore. How many days, how much money have you saved? He's just moved on and he's now a non-smoker. So that's actually what happens in the action.

Dr Lucy: You you're the doing. And then the next bit of the phase, if you like is technically called maintenance, which I just, again, I just think it's a rubbish title. What it actually is, it's an identity shift. So you go from being somebody who was a smoker to someone who is quitting to someone who is now a non-smoker.

Dr Lucy: You go from someone who used a lot of, you know, maybe ate lots of junk food to someone who now prepares food from scratch. And now you're a healthy eater. And I think that that's actually the cycle that needs to happen. But in, in amongst all of this, there'll be the little speed humps. So there's three little bits that we are to call the slip, the lapse and the Creek.

Dr Lucy: So the creepiest, where, and again, depending on what sort of habit you're looking at, if it's safe food, it might be where you, you're not having any sugar. And then suddenly you have just some little bit of a spoonful of Nutella. I'll just have a spoonful of white matter. And. And it doesn't honestly one spoonful doesn't matter.

Dr Lucy: That's that's the trick. The problem is that 10 spoonfuls a day does matter and nothing, you know, no one starts off and until I have it with 10 spoonfuls a day, they always just have a little bit, so that's the Creek. The slip is where you have a really terrible day and you know, you've run over a cat or you've dropped something at work and you feel like an idiot.

Dr Lucy: And so you come home. Eight donuts or something. And I always say to people that, you know, the thing about emotional eating is we use food to soothe, really uncomfortable emotions, and we do it for two reasons. One, it works too. It's really cheap. It's not like, you know, expensive it's available on every street corner.

Dr Lucy: And we've been taught to do it from a very young age by society, by advertising, by modeling in movies. That's what you show the other night, actually on Netflix or something. And yet the girl in there was having some fight with a parents. And so she runs into her room and opens the drawer and finds the hidden cookies and then stuffs them in.

Dr Lucy: So all of that is just modeled to us. And so when we do it and we can't control it, we feel bad. Like we feel hopeless like where the ones that are deficient and we're not, it's just a tool that you were taught that no longer serves. And so being able to let go of that tool and replace it with ones that actually help you instead of harming you, that's the key for the slippage.

Dr Lucy: And then the lapse is, again, the lapse is when people plan to have a meal, that might be something that, you know, isn't, you know, probably doesn't tick all the healthy boxes. Cause sometimes people go, does that mean I can never have any junk food ever again? And the answer is, of course, no, you can. I mean, you know, yes, you can.

Dr Lucy: What you need to do is just be mindful of what you're planning to do afterwards. And, you know, Christmas days, the exact example where I'm sure you've seen people go off plan Christmas day, that's fine. They go, you know, it's Christmas day, I'm going to eat whatever I want. And I go, yeah, that's fine. And then boxing day is still there and there's all that food around.

Dr Lucy: So they eat it then. And then, then it's three days in and they're still eating it and they're trying to get rid of it. And instead of just chucking it out that eat it, and then it's sort of new year's and there's parties and then bump and suddenly.

Dr Orlena: Yeah. Yeah,

Dr Lucy: exactly. Exactly. One meal six months later.

Dr Lucy: And so, yeah, so just understanding how our brain works is is, is really the key to being able to move through those, those phases.

Dr Orlena: Okay. So I'm just going to recap, and then I'm going to ask you some more questions. So we've got what we're going to call denial phase. Yes. And you know what I think thinking about this phase.

Dr Orlena: And, you know, I think there might be contemplation and denial, sort of like you can slip in and out of them. One of the things I see so often is people say to me, oh, I want to lose weight. I do eat quite healthily. And this is like the initial conversation that I have with people. And then when we really get down and start digging deep, it's like, oh yeah, I do.

Dr Orlena: Like, I do eat some vegetables, which is great. But I also eat a lot of chocolate after dinner or whatever it is, or I have emotional eating or carbohydrate cravings. And so this idea of, oh, I eat quite healthily. I always think you made healthy, but there's room for improvement. You don't eat doctoral leader, but it's the way people phrase it to me.

Dr Orlena: And it's almost like what I do eat healthily, so I can't do anything else. I'm already doing it and it's not working. And I think fat is a prime example. Denial and saying, you know, I, it's not paper. There's no way I can do anything else. I'm doing it all already. And the answer is, is that really true? You know, are there no changes that you can make that, and those changes are going to have.

Dr Orlena: Consequences, you know, they, aren't going to give you the results that you want. So we've got denial, contemplation, which is that purgatory with. So often I'm struggling. Your brain is like busy feeling guilty. Your brain is busy going, trying to work out. It's trying to figure out this problem, that it can't solve because you haven't created the sort of easiness for you to walk into.

Dr Orlena: And then we've got preparation, which is good. And they action phase. And you know, one of the things about the action phase, which you've touched on, but I see not even just the external things, but our brains like to do things. And one of the things I see people doing is they get really excited. They get amazing results.

Dr Orlena: They get, you know, they, energy level goes up. They start to see the weight falling off. And then after a while, they're like, I kind of feel I should be doing something else. And it's like, no, no, you just need to carry on. You don't need to do anything else. Just carry on, but my brain wants to do something else.

Dr Orlena: But so one of the things I wanted to talk to you about is this idea of preparation and commitment. And I think that this commitment is total key to everything. And until we've made that commitment, We're not moving forwards. And so often you and I, as health coaches, we talk to people and people are, yeah, all sounds really great, but I don't want to pay your fees.

Dr Orlena: And this, you know, there is this mental block. We were talking about this before we were recording, but that being able to say, do you know what I can invest in myself? And you know, we haven't asked each other how much are our fees are, but I know that my fees are not. So like, you know, they're not like, oh my goodness.

Dr Orlena: That's like money I have in my back pocket, but it's not like the vast majority of people couldn't get the amount of money that I asked if, for example, They needed an operation. You know, my fees are much Teper fan and operation. I was talking to somebody recently and she, her mother had to get an MRI and she was saying that the price of the MRI costs half as much as my year program.

Dr Orlena: So, you know, they managed to get money for the MRI, but when it comes to looking for the program, oh my goodness. There's a lot more drama going on in your brain.

Dr Lucy: And you know, our brains, I love this concept of the reasonable story. So what it will do is it'll put up some resistance, it'll put up a story and the story is reasonable.

Dr Lucy: It's not an outright lie. Cause then that would be hard to kind of work with. But if the reasonable story is it's a bit expensive, I can't afford it. You bogus. Yeah. Yeah. That's reasonable. And it's a bit like when people, you know, they don't want to have any chocolate, for example, or they don't want to eat any cake and then they bring us just have a little bit, it'll be all right.

Dr Lucy: You go. Yeah. Yeah. That sounds reasonable. And then the victim, the whole box it's, they're reasonable, but they're not actually true. Yeah, reasonable and true. And so being able to distinguish what your brain is putting up as a, as some resistance, cause remember it doesn't matter. All O'Briens hate change.

Dr Lucy: Nobody loves change because we even, you know, even when we're stuck in purgatory, the idea of getting out our brain goes, oh yeah, but like, and this is a classic, oh, well I'm really, really want to lose weight, but I'm worried about the loose skin. Is that really that interesting. Isn't that interesting?

Dr Lucy: That's what your brain is giving you as a reason to not do not do the change. So it will come up with, you know, when your brain goes. Yeah, that's reasonable.

Dr Orlena: Yeah, no, no, totally. And I think, you know, that. Making a commitment going. Yeah, I am going to stretch myself. So you don't want to be working with a health coach.

Dr Orlena: Like, you know, I used to, when I first started online business, I did everything for free. Well, not totally free, but so super cheap. I remember the first program I did. I charged like, I dunno, 10 or 30 pounds or something. You know, this three week program, 30 pounds, and I still had problems selling it.

Dr Orlena: People. It doesn't matter if you give things away for free. But what I noticed was that people don't turn up in the way. And when you make that commitment and you have to stretch yourself a little bit to go and find that money, because it feels a little bit uncomfortable to you. Oh my goodness. You're really making a stand for yourself.

Dr Orlena: I am investing in my future. And what I really want is not 40 years of feeling amazing and leading along and healthy. Is that worth it or is it not worth it? And I think when people look at it like that and they will say, yeah, you know, if I'm standing at the end of my life, I'm thinking at this point in time, I made a decision and it costs me this amount of money.

Dr Orlena: And what it bought me was this would I, would I pay that? The answer is absolutely with bells on when you're standing there, people are thinking, do I want an iPhone or do I want. Long and healthy life for 40 years. Well, the long and healthy life for 40 years is going to happen so much in the future that they just, you

Dr Lucy: trade your, you basically sacrifice your future self to a, your current self.

Dr Lucy: Yeah. It's so interesting. I, and I really think that the other story that keeps people stuck is this idea that they should be able to do it themselves, need help with this. I should be able to do it myself. And the, all I would say is what. You've been brainwashed for, you know, 40 years by commercial television, by people saying, you know, things that are really unhelpful for certain people.

Dr Lucy: So, you know, when you've got those well-meaning friends that say you come on, just have the chocolate, you've got to leave. That's often unhelpful. And so then they start getting resentful because they feel like they're not living. Somebody keeps telling them you've got to do this. You've got any, can't be strict all the time.

Dr Lucy: And it's so interesting because I just strictness. If that's even a word and restriction are entirely about what you, the thought about it. So often say to people, well, somebody who's got, you know, a peanut allergy, they don't feel restricted that they don't eat peanut butter. They feel happy that they're alive.

Dr Lucy: Yeah. Restriction is always about your thoughts about it. And so again, same thing, you know, you've had years and years of telling people, telling you all sorts of things. And you're trying to untangle all of that. It's very hard to do it by.

Dr Orlena: Yeah. Well, I, you know, I think this idea that we should be able to do it by ourselves.

Dr Orlena: It's one of those ones that I totally agree. It just, it doesn't make sense. We don't expect our kids to go to school and get a maths book and learn math. We send them to a teacher because yeah, we totally expect them to be able to learn math, but we don't expect them to be able to do it by us, by themselves.

Dr Orlena: And it's exactly the same thing. And I think, you know, this idea also stems from, well, I should be able to do it by myself. It's just eating. I can eat. I don't need to be taught how to eat. No, but that's not the right question is that you need to be taught how to eat in such a way that it's easy, that it just happens.

Dr Orlena: Easily and enjoyably and supports your health and weight goals.

Dr Lucy: Oh, absolutely. And I mean, there's, you know, you, you look at all the tennis coat, all the tennis players. If I've got a coach, exactly.

Dr Orlena: These

Dr Lucy: people are the best. Retrofitters the best tennis player in the world. He can play tennis far better than any of the coaches.

Dr Lucy: But he still has a coach because he needs somebody else with objective eyes to be able to tell him, yeah.

Dr Orlena: Yeah. He started off with the new normal human body. And he made choices of, you know, this person's going to coach me and this person's going to coach me. And you know, I do see the world's changing, but I.

Dr Orlena: I feel that sometimes it changes too slowly and the people are up to help. But this idea, like, you know, when we look at the world and so many people are in this place of not leading a healthy life and just not prioritizing making those changes and not getting the support that they need. And, you know, I always say it's easy.

Dr Orlena: To carry on, but it's easy to make changes, but I do think it's easy to make changes when you have the support that

Dr Lucy: helps you. Absolutely. And I think, you know, some of it has got to do in, in medicine with our medical models. And I know you've got well in England as the NHS in Australia, we've got Medicare, they're slightly different, but there's some similarities, but I think.

Dr Lucy: Doctors are not always the beacon of health. They're not to pillars of health. They're not, you know, often doctors don't look after themselves. They're too busy looking after everybody else working crazy hours and sacrificing themselves to look after other people, the same could be said of mothers, mothers do the same that run their kids around that, taking everybody to ballet, footy, whatever and making sure that everyone else has got everything they need.

Dr Lucy: And they just get the drugs at the end. And so I think, you know, again, doctors are the classic example of thinking I should get a daughter or myself. I'm a doctor for God's sake. Well, no, if you're doing it all yourself, then why aren't you a beaker of health? Because you can't do it all yourself and that's okay.

Dr Orlena: Well, and we weren't taught any of this stuff. And you know, I do think medical, the medical model is to help people who have problems and that we don't have a healthcare system, which is, and I don't see it really anywhere that the healthcare systems don't have. Time and money and resources to teach people.

Dr Orlena: How to avoid their healthcare system, but that's where we come in. So on that note, do you want to tell us where people can find you and what services you offer?

Dr Lucy: Absolutely. So I ran a business called real life medicine. One of my things is that I'm real. I'm really real. I just, I'm not fancy. I, you know, I make mistakes just like normal people are.

Dr Lucy: You know. So, and I run this business with another beautiful doctor called Mary Dr. Mary Boston. And so our website is called R L medicine. Real life medicine was already taken by some person who then wanted to extort an enormous amount of money for the website address. So it's just RL and we run 12 week programs, which are a combination of prerecorded educational material, and then life coaching, live group coaching and, and a community.

Dr Lucy: We've been blown away with how enthusiastically they've been taken up. So we feel that maybe we've got a good formula. And in particular, it's really about helping people who have had trouble with emotional eating and particularly people that just feel bad about their, their relationship with food, where suddenly their lives are dominated by food, where they spend all their time thinking about it.

Dr Lucy: And it's all this. It just all consuming. So we often talk about, you know, giving people their ticket to food. Freedom.

Dr Orlena: Fabulous. Fabulous. Well, thank you so much for spending some time with us today. A

Dr Lucy: wonderful, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.


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