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Emotional Skill-Building

In today's episode of the Keep the Weight Off Podcast, Marchelle and I invite you to discover 5 new emotional skills that will really serve you in your weight loss journey, and in all areas of your life, actually! Especially if you identify as an emotional eater, these skills are a perfect starting point for you as you work at discovering new ways to soothe yourself without the use of food or alcohol.

Episode Highlights:

11:37 Developing a language for our emotions is really, really helpful. And recognizing that being a human being means, feeling these emotions, even when it doesn't feel good. This is really important. So emotional awareness is the FIRST skill.

22:27 Lasting weight loss, developing the skills that it takes to achieve lasting weight loss means a journey of growth and personal evolution. It's so very important. You'll become a totally different person when you stop fighting yourself all the time and you learn to accept every feeling that you have as just powerful information.

24:49 To discover that you have absolute control over your emotional response for whatever circumstances are in your life, because you actually have control over the thoughts that you think. And this is really, really powerful and a very highly evolutionary place to be.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---


Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:27):
Hey everyone. And welcome to the podcast this week. I am not in my usual place. I'm actually in a hotel room in Atlanta where I have been at the Obesity Medicine Conference. Marchelle you're back in Washington. Yeah.  

Marchelle (00:44):
Yes, I am. I'm in the same place I always am in.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:47):
Ah, how are things going back home?

Marchelle (00:51):
Doing really good.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:52):
Okay, good.

Marchelle (00:53):
Maybe we'll get some sunshine today?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:54):
Oh, that'd be a, yeah, Atlanta's full of sun, so….

Marchelle (00:58):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (00:58):
I am here though. I'm not seeing a lot of sun because I'm in this conference. It is the Obesity Medicine Association conference. They have one of these twice a year. I have not been to one in a couple of years because of the pandemic. So this is the first live conference I've been to. I think they had another live one in the fall in Chicago, but I wasn't comfortable doing it live. But anyway we just had a most amazing talk from a guy named Dr. Louis Aronne and he's, he's from Weill Cornell Medical School, Medical Center. He is one of the pioneers in obesity medications, and he has so much awesome stuff to teach us about some of the new obesity medications that are coming down the pike and how to use them.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (01:50):
And there was just a paper that just came out just this last week about a new medication. I can't remember the name of it. It starts with a T it's got a completely different mechanism of action, you know, rather than some of these GLP ones that we've been hearing so much about lately. And it has, it has weight loss results that are equivalent to surgery. So I know, so he's just, like he said, you know, he basically said the where we're at in obesity medicine right now in terms of the medications is the same place we were in in the 1970s with hypertension medications. Back in the 1970s, you know, we had some standards, we didn't have very many options in the seventies when it came to treating hypertension, but now all of these new medications started coming on the pipe with new mechanisms of action.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (02:45):
And now this is what's happening with obesity medicine. And so it's super, super exciting. So I will be doing a podcast on obesity medications in the near future. So I just wanted everybody to know that there's a lot of hope and a lot of excitement about all of this in my field right now. And a lot of hope for those of us who are struggling with this disease. So very very exciting. I've also learned all kinds of other, lots, lots of other stuff too. I'm just like hyped up excited. So, but what I wanted to talk about……

Marchelle (03:19):
That's awesome.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:19):
I know, I know, well, what I wanted to talk about today, cause we've kind of had this theme of understanding our emotions. And so I wanted to go into a little bit more into talking about building emotional skills, if that makes sense. Like how to manage emotions and understanding emotions and all of that.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (03:41):
And by the way, if you did not hear last week's podcast with Florence Christophers when you're done listening to this one, go back and listen to that one because Florence is absolutely amazing. She, she talked about the difference between sugar addiction and emotional eating and that was a brilliant, that was a, a brilliant topic that we got, I got the, from the vaults of the Keep The Weight Off Summit back in December of 2020. So that was awesome. So, so let's talk a little bit more about our emotions. I want to just help all of us to better understand our emotions and what they mean and how to manage them. And you might be curious, you might be wondering like, why am I so concerned about our emotions? Like we're talking about food and we're talking about weight. Like what's the big deal about our emotions, Dr. Angela? so, Marchelle, can you tell everybody why would it be that I would be constantly harping on helping us understand our emotions?

Marchelle (04:54):
Because if we are not willing to feel our emotions, we end up buffering them with food and alcohol.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (05:01):

Marchelle (05:05):
Yes. Yes. I've learned a lot about this in the last four years.  

Dr. Angela Zechmann (05:10):
Well, and so many of us feel like, you know, like our emotions are a bottomless pit. And if I allow myself to even think about starting to feel everything that's going on inside of me, I'm just going to swallowed up in it. And so we just keep eating, we just keep stuffing it down, cause we're just like, this is overwhelming to me. So really want to help us because if we don't start becoming courageous and being willing to feel our negative emotions, we're just going to keep eating and then we won't be able to keep the weight off. And this is the Keep The Weight Off podcast. This isn't the lose the weight and put it back on podcast. Right?  

Marchelle (05:49):
That's right. This is a really, really important subject.

New Speaker (05:52):
It really is. So, so I see it as my job to help anyone and everyone who really wants to know how to keep their weight off, to understand that discovering and allowing your emotions and uncovering your own inner wisdom, which is what happens when you allow your emotions, it's absolute key. Like this is key. So you can't just keep walking around afraid of yourself and stuffing your emotions with food or drinking them away with alcohol and be successful at lasting weight loss. So I'm hoping that makes sense to everybody listening. So today I'm going to teach you some emotional skills. There are five of them that I'm going to teach you today. Some of which I've touched on in previous podcasts, but I'm going to go into more detail on them and some of them are new. So are you ready? Marchelle?

Marchelle (06:50):
So ready.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (06:52):
So ready. All right. I do want to mention right away and kind of reemphasize that we're not born knowing these skills and, but they are skills that can be learned and practiced and they do take practice. And I also want to say that most of our parents and teachers have never learned these skills and so they would not have understood how to teach them to us. So, you know, we just are learning more and more about our emotional makeup all the time. And so much research is being done and you know, understanding, compassion, self compassion, and there's just a lot going on. And so I don't ever want anybody to feel like there's something wrong with them if they don't know how to do this stuff, I just want you to know that our parents didn't know this. Our teachers didn't know this, especially if you're like older than 40, 40, or over our teachers didn't know this. Some of the teachers these days do know this stuff, but it's just not easy. It's not, it's not something that's taught. So…

Marchelle (07:58):
I did didn't know anything about this until I met you.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (08:01):
Right? Exactly. So, so skill number one. And so if those of you who are taking notes, take this down, skill number one is emotional awareness. Okay. Now, and I want to say this skill can be really, really tricky. I mentioned before, that according Brene Brown's research, most people are aware of only three emotions; happiness, sadness, and anger. So Brene called it the sad, mad, glad triad, right?

Marchelle (08:33):
I think that's so great.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (08:35):
But our emotions are actually much more nuanced and layered than that. So for example, happiness can be a sense of excitement or a looking forward or it can be a sense of peace or it can be just a sense of joy. You know, it was so interesting. I was just thinking about this. Last night we had an event at the Georgia Aquarium and we were in the ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium and it has a window looking out on the tank of Beluga whales.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (09:11):
And I was just watching the Beluga whales and they were just so joyful and it made me so joyful to watch that. And I was like, ah, this is one of those wonderful emotions. That's awesome, you know. So, so happiness, joy, excitement all of those wonderful positive emotions, or it could just be a sense of peace. And then anger think about that. It might not just be anger. It might be more like blame or it might be envy or it might be as severe as rage. Or take sadness. Sadness could be a mild sense of disappointment or it could be a full-on depression. So we want to work at becoming very aware of what's going on in our emotional lives. And I'm discovering personally that many people, if not, most people carry around with them, a lot of shame. So all day long they're beating themselves up in their heads.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (10:19):
There's this steady stream of self-criticism and self-judgment. And the more I talk to people the more I hear that that's what's going on in their heads. Of course they're not even aware that they're doing this to themselves and they're totally unaware of all of the shame and self-judgment they're feeling. Sometimes it does come out as depression which they interpret as sadness. And sometimes it comes out as frustration which they interpret as anger, but really it's this profound sense of shame. And it's likely because of what they were taught as children.e Think about this, you know, in the first five years of life, we're learning who we are in the world and where we fit in. And so many of our parents tried to control us with shame. I remember being told often shame on you. Did you ever get told that when you were a kid Marchelle,

Marchelle (11:17):
Oh yes.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (11:17):
Shame on you, like that's the way our parents controlled us.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (11:23):
So, you know, this is just one of the emotions that may drive us into the ice cream. We may be sort of feeling profoundly jealous. We may be feeling stagnant. We may be anxious or worried. So developing a language for our emotions is really, really helpful. And recognizing that being a human being means, feeling these emotions, even when it doesn't feel good. This is really, really important. So emotional awareness is the first skill. And I always recommend that when you have an urge to eat something, that's not on your plan, that you sit down with a piece of paper and you start writing and ask yourself what's going on. Like, I'll bet that can discover something new. I can almost guarantee it. So what do you think about that Marchelle?

Marchelle (12:20):
I think like when I just think about what usually drives me to eat off, or I mean to yeah, eat off plan mm-hmm , that's how we, how we're saying it, is when I'm frustrated yeah. And so I don't realize that's what I'm feeling at the time.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:36):

Marchelle (12:37):
later on when I go back and I think about, you know, what just happened mm-hmm then then I have to, I have to say a lot, a lot of frustration drives my frustration, my, my off, yeah. Plan eating .

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:53):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Marchelle (12:56):
I get frustrated really easy.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (12:57):
Exactly. I think we all do. I don't think you're alone. So that's the first skill emotional awareness. So that's, that's excellent. Okay. Now the next emotional skill, so, so when I say emotional awareness here, I'm talking up just becoming aware that you're even feeling a negative emotion in the first place, because a lot of us are just eating and we don't even know we're having a negative emotion.

Marchelle (13:22):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (13:23):
Right. Okay? The second skill is naming that emotion precisely. Okay? So sometimes what we think is anxiety, for example. I'm going to give you an example of something that happened to one of my patients and this is something that, that she didn't really know was really going on. So for example, what happened for her is she was feeling anxious and she was waking up in the middle of the night anxious and she just kept eating. And she's like, I don't know what to do. I just keep thinking about this. She was ruminating, ruminating, ruminating. And she labeled it as anxiety. Well, when I did some, I just asked some very simple questions; like, what is it that's bothering you? Well, it turned out, it was, her daughter was living with her. Her daughter was living in like a mother-in-law suite. Well, her daughter was in her forties and her daughter didn't seem like she was going to be getting, she was going to be moving forward with her life.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (14:32):
And so she was just like, I'm just really worried about my daughter. Well, as I, I probe deeper, she realized that underneath what she was calling anxiety was actually resentment about her daughter sort of mooching off of her basically. And not moving her life forward. Underneath resentment was shame for enabling her daughter. Does that make sense? Mm-Hmm so sometimes this is why I'm saying it's so important to get the coaching that you need, because until you name the emotion precisely and figure out what the underlying truth is, it can be really, really difficult. Until she understood that what was really going on for her was shame at not having at having, being, enabling her daughter, like until she gets all of this worked out, she's just going to keep feeling the anxiety. And she's just going to keep feeling the negative emotion that's going to keep driving her to eat. Is that making sense? Sometimes it can be…

Marchelle (15:41):
I think some of this, yeah. I, worked some of that out before with you mm-hmm because I always thought, oh, the only reason why I made bad eating choices was, was when I was bored. But that's yeah, because like, I didn't really dig deeper. Uhhuh. So sometimes just like talking it out with somebody, you know, on these 12 minute coaching sessions, you know? Yeah, yeah. You get to dig a little deeper. It's like talking to a really well informed friend.  

Dr. Angela Zechmann (16:06):
Exactly. Yeah. So there's always layers and layers and layers to this. So…..

Marchelle (16:13):
Yeah, definitely.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (16:14):
Definitely. All right. Now, so that's number two is to name the emotion, as precisely as you can. Skill number three is understanding that life is 50/50, meaning 50% positive emotion and 50% negative emotion and not freaking out about negative emotion. How many of us have been told that we should always be happy, right? This is crazy. We're living in a human world and you must understand that there's a yin and a yang to everything, that you cannot know happiness without knowing sadness. If everything was happy all the time, you wouldn't even know you were happy. So I like to compare this to abundance. So in our western world we live with so much abundance. We have no idea how abundant we are. And so we're not aware of it. And we don't appreciate it. It wasn't until I went to the Dominican Republic for a topical medicine rotation.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (17:14):
This is way back in med school in the eighties. I had no idea what an abundant life I was living until I was living in basically a hut with a dirt floor and pigs were going in and out. And we had outhouse and people there were perfectly happy. They didn't know how abundant life could be. But I did now that I had experienced that, right? So right. You can't know abundance without experiencing its opposite and you can't really know positive emotion without feeling negative emotion. So life is 50/50. And once you're used to this and you accept it as normal, then you're not freaking out and resisting it. And everything about your life is going to shift when you underst in that life is 50/50, and that you are supposed to have negative emotions sometimes. And it's been really super interesting for me because I just got over a pretty debilitating case of COVID. I was sicker than I'd been in a long time. I was in bed for like 10 days and my brain wasn't functioning. I was running these crazy high fevers and I just lay there in bed. And I just remembered, this is part of the 50/50 of life. And now that I'm pretty much over it, not completely, but pretty much over it, i've got so much more appreciation for my energy and my vitality. Right? So does I, that makes sense.

Marchelle (18:51):
Yeah. I used to have a problem with this because I, I used to measure like my value on how happy I felt, I guess. Oh, I don't know how else to explain that. Like, if I was going through anything negative, then I felt like, like my life was, shit. So….

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:08):

Marchelle (19:10):
That's been something for me to figure out is that like, it's okay to go through, you know, the ebbs and flows and you don't and your self worth doesn't really depend on that. If does that make any sense?

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:21):
It does. That's a whole different nuance to it. Like we think there's something wrong with us and we judge ourselves for our negative emotion. That's a really good point. Right.

Marchelle (19:31):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:32):
Yeah. Yeah. So what a relief is that guys, if you're feeling negative emotion, , nothing's going wrong. There's nothing wrong with you. Don't judge yourself if you're having a negative emotion. Right. So true. Thank you for bringing that up. That's awesome. Thanks, Marshall. Yeah.

Marchelle (19:48):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (19:49):
Okay. The fourth emotional skill is to learn how to allow yourself to actually feel the emotion instead of buffering against it. Okay? So, so this is going to, this is a really powerful skill and it's not easy. I just want to preface that right away. So it's like, okay, you get an urge to eat and you say, okay, I'm feeling something here. And what is this feeling? And it's like, you stand at your front door and you open the front door and you say, come on in. I want to get to know you. Okay. And you say, you let this emotion in and you let it talk to you and you let it tell yourself. Now I want to say that the reason this is hard is because remember, you've got a primitive brain that is telling you you're going to die if anything, if you feel anything negative, because your primitive brain thinks that means that you're not going to survive if you're having a negative emotion. So…

Marchelle (20:55):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (20:55):
So be aware of that. You have to overcome, you have to reassure your primitive brain, I'm not going to die if I allow myself to feel this negative emotion. It's okay. And so, so you just remind your primitive brain it's okay. It's okay to let this negative emotion in and it's okay to actually feel this negative emotion. And there's a process that you go through in order to allow yourself to feel the negative emotion. It has to do with becoming very, very observant about what it is that's actually going on in your body and naming what's going on in your body and allowing yourself to feel it without judging it. Okay? And again, this is something that we, we really help you with these skill, with this skill building in Empowered Weight Loss. So if you want to help with this, I would….

Marchelle (21:47):
I just want to add, this takes practice.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (21:49):
It does. It takes a lot of practice.

Marchelle (21:51):
It takes practice.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (21:52):
It is not easy.

Marchelle (21:53):
I didn't get it right the first time. No, No worry about it. I know I didn't. I still struggle with it. Really hard. I really fight negative emotions and, and always have and…..

Dr. Angela Zechmann (22:03):
That's normal

Marchelle (22:04):
Be happy. Mm-Hmm so

Dr. Angela Zechmann (22:06):
Yeah. Yeah. That's for that's really normal. Your primitive brain is like happiness means survival. Negative emotion means death. So yeah, really normal. So your primitive brain is going to be all about, let's just find some way to buffer against this. Let's just like, no, we're not going to feel this right now.

Marchelle (22:23):
So right.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (22:24):
But, remember what I always say, lasting weight loss, developing the skills that it takes to achieve lasting weight loss means personal evolution. It's a journey of growth and personal evolution. And it's so very important. You'll become a totally different person when you stop fighting yourself all the time and you learn to accept every feeling that you have as just powerful information. Okay. So that's the fourth emotional skill is allowing yourself to actually feel your emotions. The fifth and last emotional skill that I'm going to talk about today is to become aware that the circumstances of our lives do not cause us to feel emotions. This is huge.

Marchelle (23:15):
That's hard to comprehend.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (23:18):
It's not the circumstance. It's your thought about the circumstance. So I'm going to take an example. Things happen to us all the time. So here's an example. Let's say you have a circumstance. So circumstances are absolutely and completely, totally neutral. So let's say you have a totally neutral circumstance where you have $100 in your bank account. Okay. Now, for some people they would say having $100 in my bank account makes me feel very, very anxious. Well, it's not the fact that there's a hundred dollars in the bank account that causes the anxiety. What causes the anxiety is the thought, right? What's the thought I don't have enough money. And that's the thought that creates anxiety. So it's not the fact that there's a hundred dollars in your bank account. That's causing the anxiety. It's the thought I don't have enough money that's causing the anxiety.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (24:20):
There might be somebody else who would be absolutely ecstatic to have a hundred dollars in their bank account. And why would that be? Because their thought is, I'm so proud of myself for saving a hundred dollars. So you see the circumstance is the same, but there are two very different emotional responses to that circumstance. And the emotional response depends on the thought that the person is having. The thought that they're thinking. So this is absolutely huge in your understanding and evolution as a human being, to discover that you have absolute control over your emotional response to whatever the circumstances are in your life, because you actually have control over the thoughts that you think, and this is really, really powerful and a very highly evolutionary place to be. Does that make sense?

Marchelle (25:17):
Definitely makes sense.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (25:18):
$100 in the bank account. Yeah.

Marchelle (25:21):
, There's something about working with doctors. I think that I, that I noticed a long time back that, that, you know, there were times when something would happen during surgery mm-hmm and, and I would start to feel very anxious. And I would notice, you know, that the, the doctor that I was in the room with would just be very calm mm-hmm and, and it used to make me think about it. I, after work, like why, you know, how can they handle things so well, mm-hmm and I think that's just like one part of an emotional mastery is, is you know, when you learn these things, you know, that you don't, that you don't have to be swayed by your circumstance. Mm-Hmm on what, whatever way you feel. So that's something that I've noticed that other people have had in the past. I didn't have control over and I couldn't figure that out. And so it's something, you know, that I've had to sit and think about a lot.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (26:14):
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So circumstances are neutral. Your thoughts about the circumstances are what's going to create the emotion that you that you experience. So there you go. And one thing I do want to say is the behavior of other people in your life is actually a neutral circumstance. Other people's behavior is completely neutral. Even if they're yelling at you, it's completely neutral.  

Marchelle (26:46):

Dr. Angela Zechmann (26:47):
Yeah. Yep. If they're blaming you for something, even if they're trying to make it your business, it's a completely neutral circumstance, and you can have any thought that you want about, about that circumstance. And you can create any emotion that you want to create about that circumstance. This is huge guys. This is absolutely huge.

Marchelle (27:07):
I was going to say. This is something to think about guys,

Dr. Angela Zechmann (27:09):
Uhhuh is how many of us, you know, we're having issues with a parent or a child or a spouse or whatever. And, and there's an argument and we have all of these thoughts about what's happening and that's, what's driving our emotional eating. And so we, we don't have to have automatic knee jerk responses to the things that people say to us. So alright everyone. That concludes today's podcast. I want to just review for you the five new, emotional skills to practice. The first is emotional awareness. So becoming very aware of what emotions that you're feeling. The next is becoming precise in naming the emotion that you're feeling. And sometimes it requires you to dig deep. And I do also want to say, I forgot to mention earlier that skill of naming the emotion is actually a highly evolved skill, but that will calm you.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (28:07):
Naming the emotion brings a different part of your brain into the equation, a higher level of thinking when you name the emotion. And so you might experience relief just from naming the emotion that you're feeling. The third emotional skill is to recognize that life is 5050, and we don't want to freak out or judge ourselves about our negative emotion. The fourth is to allow yourself to feel the emotion without resisting it. And the fifth is to recognize that emotions are generated by your thoughts and not your circumstances. Okay. So circumstances do not create emotions. Thoughts about circumstances, create emotion.

Dr. Angela Zechmann (28:53):
There's actually a lot to do in order to learn how to practice all of these skills. And again, if you want help, we can help you. So just go to the, go to Journey Beyond Weight Loss, and join us in Empowered Weight Loss. It starts with the done with dieting the 30 Day Done With Dieting Bootcamp. And if you just go to, you'll see a tab you can sign up and join us. And I would encourage everyone to, because I just really, I just want to help. like, this is so hard sometimes, and there's so much resources there. So, okay. I hope you guys all have a great week and that concludes our podcast for this week. Have a great week everyone. Take care. Bye-Bye

Speaker 2 (29:37):
Hey, if you really want to lose weight and keep it off for good, your next step is to sign up for Dr. Angela's free weight loss course, where you're going to learn everything you need to get started on your weight loss journey, the right way. Just head over to course to sign up. Also, it would be awesome. If you could take a few moments and write a review on iTunes. Thanks. And we'll see you in Journey Beyond Weight Loss.

--- End of Transcription ---

Dr. Angela



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