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Weight is a Neutral Circumstance

In this episode of the Keep the Weight Off Podcast, we talk about the difference between circumstances and thoughts. Understanding this difference will bring much more clarity to your life and can help you to STOP the knee-jerk runs for comfort foods, especially when those thoughts revolve around your weight!

Episode Highlights:

4:20 One of the things that we do constantly in Empowered Weight Loss is to help people figure out what's a thought and what's a circumstance. And it's really, really important to know the difference.

14:05 So circumstances are always neutral, but our brain is going to make some thoughts negative. And so the next question is, why does our brain do this? Well, like I've talked about in the past, it's a survival mechanism. We survived because our brain protected us by labeling certain things as positive or safe or okay, and then certain other things as unsafe or dangerous or negative.

18:22 So here's what's interesting, and actually really freeing. If you understand that everything that happens in the world is neutral and that your interpretation is what defines your experience, you will start to know is that you are much more powerful than you ever could have imagined. And this is where it really starts to get fun because you begin to feel less victimized.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

Dr. Angela (00:27):
Hey everyone. And welcome back to the podcast and welcome back. Marchelle has been out with COVID. Oh my gosh.  

Marchelle (00:38):
Hey Everybody.

Dr. Angela (00:39):
Yeah, she sounds really good. We kind of have had COVID going through our office, I guess I had it a couple of months ago now, but

Marchelle (00:47):
Oh my goodness. And now it's sweeping through my family. My, I gave it to my son, my parents, and I, then we both gave it to my husband who is he's he's a ginger and he's really stubborn. So it took him, you know, a whole week of fighting it. And then finally , he, he gave up the ghost and he was like, I tested positive. So this is, yeah, this is just been, I just really am struggling with the fact that I got COVID cuz I I've just had myself convinced, you know, that I dodged that bullet for the last two years.

Dr. Angela (01:25):

Marchelle (01:25):
You know? And so I just thought, okay, there's no way I'm getting it. Nope. No way. You know, and I woke up last week and I, it, my heart sank like, oh, I mean, I am human!

Dr. Angela (01:37):
well, this is, this is really good because what I wanted to talk about on the podcast today was that the circumstances in our lives are all neutral circumstances. So getting COVID is actually a neutral circumstance. And then yeah. And our weight is a neutral circumstance. So

Marchelle (02:01):
None of these circumstances feel neutral.

Dr. Angela (02:03):
exactly. So then the question becomes, why do they not feel so neutral? So what I wanted to talk about, because, because this blew me away. When I learned about it, I learned about this in life coaching. Actually, when I did my life coach certification, that circumstances are all neutral. They're neither right or wrong. They're just, they just are right. Oh, it's

Marchelle (02:25):

Dr. Angela (02:26):
It's huge.

Marchelle (02:27):
That's huge. If like, if I would've known this a long time ago. Yeah. I would've not been such a stress case.

Dr. Angela (02:33):
Yeah, exactly. so I actually went to Google and I'm like, okay, how do you define a circumstance? Like let's, let's put a, let's put a label on this.

Marchelle (02:45):
Good, good one.

Dr. Angela (02:45):
What do I mean by circumstance?

Marchelle (02:47):
Define that.

Dr. Angela (02:48):
Yeah. So, so the dictionary defines it as a condition or a fact or an event accompanying conditioning or determining another, which is interesting. So it's a condition effect or an event, just something that happens or something that is.

Marchelle (03:06):
Okay. So why it's neutral is just because it's just a thing.

Dr. Angela (03:09):
Exactly. So circumstances are just those things that happen around us. COVID , you know, C is a circumstance. It could be whether your house is a mess, although the word mess carries with a judgment. So yeah. You could say that there are dishes in the, in the sink and clothes piled up in the bedroom. That would be the circumstance. But using the word mess is a judgment. Okay.

Marchelle (03:43):
I think that's why whenever I've thought of circumstances, as ha as being, as not being neutral is because I tend to like apply self blame to a lot of stuff. Mm-Hmm mm-hmm so when yeah, so when there's blame attached and that makes it not neutral. Exactly. I just like, why does it not feel neutral? Well, it's because I would say, I would've said, oh, the house is a mess and I would automatically have been like, oh, this is your fault. You haven't done enough. Mm-Hmm  

Dr. Angela (04:11):
You know, because yeah. The house is a mess is not a circumstance. The house is a mess is a thought.

Marchelle (04:18):

Dr. Angela (04:19):
All right. Okay. Circumstances, teasing out the difference between thoughts and circumstances is one of the things that we do constantly in Empowered Weightloss is to help people figure out what's a thought and what's a circumstance and it's really, really important to know the difference. Right.

Marchelle (04:34):
Getting into it.

Dr. Angela (04:36):
Yeah. so like, I often feel like I'm backed up at work. Well, that's not a circumstance. That's a thought like, but wait a minute, I've got all these emails. Yeah. The emails are a circumstance, but the thought is I'm backed up. Right. I'm not keeping up, you know? And then that is what causes the feeling of feeling overwhelmed. Right?

Marchelle (05:01):
Yep. That's that's exactly where I was going with that. When we were talking about the house being, I was like where my mind went. Yeah. Yep.

Dr. Angela (05:08):
So a circumstance could be something that somebody else says to you. It could be a feeling in your body. All of these things are circumstances and all of these things are neutral. Okay. So let's take about let's. I, I mean, it's huge. It's a really huge understanding because when you think about it, for those of us who struggle with our weight, what we weigh at any moment in time is a neutral circumstance. It just is. Okay. So let's say I'm 5'4", and I weigh 220 pounds. Now I realize, I have to apologize for our international listeners who use the metric system. so that's 165 centimeters, tall and 99 kilograms. So that makes sense to you guys doesn't make any sense to me but it makes sense to our international listeners. But let's say that I'm upset about this circumstance, and I'm feeling discouraged.

Dr. Angela (06:10):
So here's what I want you our listener to understand. It's not the fact that I weigh 220 pounds that has me upset and feeling discouraged. It would seem that way, but there's actually a step in between the circumstance of 220 pounds and the feeling of being discouraged. And that is the thought. There's a thought in between. Okay. So let's say that my thought, if I weigh 220 pounds at my height, is that I weigh too much. This thought "I weigh too much" is what's causing me to feel discouraged. It's not the weight per se. It's the thought about that weight? Does that make sense?

Marchelle (06:58):
Yeah. Expectations. I mean it's yeah. There's expectations involved.

Dr. Angela (07:02):
Mm-Hmm yeah. So there may be other lots of thoughts that go along with that. For example, I might think I eat too much or that, and that thought's going to cause me to feel undisciplined or guilty, or I might think I'll never be able to lose the weight and then that, and that thought's going to make me feel really discouraged or perhaps even hopeless. So those are, those are some of the things that can happen. So we will end up blaming the circumstance for the way we feel, but it's not the circumstance per se. It's our thought about that circumstance. So let's take another point of view. Let's say that I used to weigh 330 pounds and now I weigh 220 pounds. Well, what's my thought going to be then the neutral circumstance is a year ago, 18 months ago, however long ago it was, I weighed 330 today. I weighed 220. That's the circumstance. What's that thought going to be? It's still a neutral circumstance, this number on this scale that I weigh, but now I might have a completely different thought about it, right? yeah,

Marchelle (08:10):
I would. Yeah, I would. Yeah, I would definitely, at that point, you're going to think I'm not doing as bad as I used to be doing mm-hmm

Dr. Angela (08:18):
so I might be thinking, wow, I've done a great job. And I might be feeling really proud. Right. So can you see how the circumstance of what I weigh is actually a neutral circumstance?

Marchelle (08:29):
Yeah. The circumstance is neutral. What we think about it is not.

Dr. Angela (08:32):
Exactly. Yeah. So can you see how important it is to actually slow down a little bit? Yeah. Even stop. Yeah. Long enough to notice what your thoughts are about your,

Marchelle (08:46):
Yeah. That's hard. It's really hard. This is going to be some work to like minute. I mean, this can happen. I'm see. I'm just going like this could all day long.

Dr. Angela (08:56):
Yeah. When I learned this

Marchelle (08:57):
Having to stop myself and my

Dr. Angela (08:59):
Friends mm-hmm exactly. Well, when I learned this, it just totally blew me away. Oh

Marchelle (09:04):
No. I'm I'm getting blown away right now. Just like picking this apart. Like, okay, this is big.

Dr. Angela (09:09):
It is big. Yeah. So if you want to feel good, it's really important to start to notice what thoughts are going through your head. Like, because they're going to cause you to feel certain ways and your feelings are then going to drive your behavior. Right.

Marchelle (09:23):
Right, right.

Dr. Angela (09:26):
Okay. So all circumstances are neutral. All circumstances are neutral. If your partner says words to you, like, I don't love you anymore. This is actually a neutral circumstance.

Marchelle (09:39):
Okay. Everybody listened to this

Dr. Angela (09:41):
Uhhuh if you are feeling a negative emotion, when you hear those words, it's not the words. It's your thought about what that means. Right. And truth be told there's likely going to be a lot of different thoughts and a lot of different feelings. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't have these thoughts and we shouldn't have these feelings. I'm just saying it helps us to be more purposeful in our lives when we can separate out the circumstances of our lives, from the thoughts that we have about those circumstances. Does that make sense?

Marchelle (10:14):
Okay. So I think I can break this down and, and just tell me if I'm, if this is correct or not, because I'm trying, I'm thinking of like, I'm going back to the, okay. My house is a mess because mm-hmm, that's that happens to me a lot where I get overwhelmed because

Dr. Angela (10:26):
Yeah. But you do just

Marchelle (10:28):
Come home. Did

Dr. Angela (10:28):
You did just have COVID OK.

Marchelle (10:31):
Talking about,

Dr. Angela (10:33):

Marchelle (10:33):
Just do that. We're going to get rid of that thought because that's just its contemporary circumstance. So okay. If this is like, so this is something that I, I deal with, you know, just in general. And I talk to my husband about it. I'm know, I get really overwhelmed because you know, I I, I have to, I have these high, you know, high expectations for myself. Right. Mm-hmm and so last week before I got COVID it was like, it was like the weekend time, you know? And I was like, oh my God, the house looks it's so dusty. And you know, mm-hmm the house is just a mess. Right. Mm-hmm and then I started getting really overwhelmed mm-hmm and in, and you know, what wanted I wanted to do, I wanted to go eat a donut mm-hmm and some ice cream mm-hmm or drink a soda or even drink a beer, honestly. I mean, my mind goes there as well, you know? Like you can relax. And so that's, you know, that's, that's what was causing me to so I was craving stuff and mm-hmm so I was trying to think, okay, like what's going on right now? All of a sudden, because it was a very quick leap from, oh my God, the house is so messy to, I want to donut.

Dr. Angela (11:40):

Marchelle (11:41):
And so then what, what helped me though is when I, I, when I said, what is making the house so messy, I thought, okay, well I need to do a little laundry. I need to empty the dishwasher and reload dishes. I need to run the Roomba across the floors and you know, and one, I broke when I started to break this stuff down mm-hmm and not be judgemental of, oh God, the house is messy. And I was like, okay, well, if I just take this one thing, like at a time mm-hmm and I started to do, I became, I became more powerful and not so powerless over the situation and nice job. The cravings started to kind of go away because I did, I did try to break that down and say, okay, why do I keep going here? And what's causing me to get to this place where all I want to do is like, you know, eat a candy bar or eat, you know, because mm-hmm, , that's my go-to is sugar. Yeah. And that's why I'm here doing these boxes.

Dr. Angela (12:33):

Marchelle (12:33):
I'm a super addict. So so yeah, so I mean, is this, is this kind of like along the lines of we're working

Dr. Angela (12:40):
Here? Yes. It's perfect. Yeah. Yeah. So you noticed that what you, what happened for you? If I could break it down is yeah. Yeah. You notice, oh my gosh, I've got cravings for a donut or a candy bar or a beer. Right. there must be a thought error going on because you're smart enough. Now you've heard us, you know, we've done these podcasts for a while. You've heard me talk. Like, there must be a thought error going on here. That's causing me. Yep. To feel something negative about myself.

Marchelle (13:05):

Dr. Angela (13:06):
And that is what causing me to want to buffer. Right. Yes. Right. So you corrected your thought error. Good job. You said, oh, this isn't that bad. I can actually stop the self-judgment and I can, it's not

Marchelle (13:20):
Easy though. Either. It's not, it's not easy. It was a simple thing to do, but it wasn't easy thing to do because I still, once my thoughts went there where I wanted, you know, the sugar, it was really hard for me to let that go because once it was in there, you know, it's like, oh, okay. So I had to get, I had to back up a little bit, you know, and start breaking this stuff down. And then what I did is I started putting, you know, things into action, like okay. Went and actually did a load of laundry. It's like, OK, I got one thing done. And then I started to feel good about myself. And there you go. I felt good about myself. The cravings went away.

Dr. Angela (13:52):

Marchelle (13:53):
So I made it through. Yeah. So nice

Dr. Angela (13:54):
Job. Yay. It was, it was that's how you do

Marchelle (13:57):
It folks experience. Yeah.

Dr. Angela (13:58):
That's how you do it. yeah. Good job. Thank you.

Dr. Angela (14:02):
All right. All right. So circumstances are always neutral, but our brain is going to make some thoughts negative. And so the next question is, why does our brain do this? Well, I've talked about it kind of in the past, it's a survival mechanism. So we survived because our brain protected us by labeling certain things as positive or safe or okay. And then certain other things as unsafe or dangerous or negative. So our brains have a tendency to make these judgements about other people and about ourselves. So just realize that, like you said that you were labeling yourself in negative ways. That's actually a normal brain, but what you're doing is you're retraining your brain. And the interesting thing about your brain is it takes time to get the new pathways to develop, right? So you're in that process right now where the old pathways feel easy and the new pathways feel a little bit more difficult, but as time goes on and with more practice what's going to happen is the new pathways are going to feel more natural to you. Okay.

Marchelle (15:11):
Yeah. It was not, it was not a natural feeling at all. It was because each time I accomplished something, I felt good. Mm-Hmm but it didn't feel, it didn't feel comfortable.

Dr. Angela (15:23):

Marchelle (15:24):
Yeah. You know, at all. Yeah. You know, I was like, okay. Okay. I did it. Okay. This is different. Like, and I just sit there, dwelling in the bullsh*t of my mind going, oh yeah, everything is so bad because my house is messy. I might as well go eat a donut and then I would've gone eat in the donut. And then I would've felt about that and that, you know, mm-hmm so, so doing the, the new thing, I was like, okay, that was weird. Mm-Hmm I mean, it had just, I mean, it was just, it was weird, but it felt so good.

Dr. Angela (15:50):

Marchelle (15:50):
When I was done with no guilt, it was guilt free.

Dr. Angela (15:54):
Yeah. Awesome. So, so if you begin to recognize what's going on and you start to question the thoughts in your head, especially those thoughts that create emotions that make you feel bad and send you into a pint of ice cream or a bag of chip or a donut or a candy bar or beer or whatever it might be. Yeah. Yeah. Then just, it's just a matter of slowing down and becoming more aware. A lot of people blame the circumstance for their eating. They'll say, well, I was at a party and I eat the dessert and they think that the solution to not eating the dessert is to change the circumstance, which means stop going to parties. yes, but they're not willing, like not going to do that and not going to do that, but it's not the circumstance that cause them to eat at the party.

Dr. Angela (16:42):
It's the thought that created an emotion that inspired the behavior. So I was a, if let's say I was at a party and there was a dessert, that's a neutral circumstance, dessert at a party. Okay. That's a neutral circumstance. So what happened then is there was a thought about that dessert I'd like that that would taste good. And that thought created desire and desire is an emotion that's going to drive your behavior. Okay. It wasn't the party and the dessert that caused the behavior. It was the thought that would taste good. That created that desire. Does that make sense?

Marchelle (17:25):
Yeah, that definitely have done that myself.

Dr. Angela (17:28):
So, but if I go to a party and I see a dessert, I still do have that thought that that would taste good, no question. But then I have another thought that's actually pretty well practiced by now. And that thought is that sugar is poison for me. And that thought causes me to feel repulsed by it. So I avoid it. So it's not the neutral circumstance that creates our experience. It's our thoughts. Does that make sense? So I can go to a party and I can be around that stuff. And I just think to myself that stuff's poison for me. like, and that

Marchelle (18:06):
I am just, like you said, takes practice.

Dr. Angela (18:08):
It takes lots of practice, years of practice. It

Marchelle (18:12):
Takes practice to get there. Mm-Hmm that, you know, it's not going to happen overnight with the, I think that's a great way of thinking about it though. Mm-Hmm and I'm going to definitely put that to use.

Dr. Angela (18:22):
Yeah. So here's, what's interesting. And actually really freeing. If you understand that everything that happens in the world is neutral and that your interpretation is what defines your experience. What you will start to know is that you are much more powerful than you ever could have imagined. And this is where it really starts to get fun because you begin to feel less victimized. The world is the world. The world is just going to do what it does. The circumstances are happening all around us. And they always will be. That's never in question what's in question is what do you want to think about it? Okay. Are you thinking about it from a knee jerk, primitive survival response, or are you thinking a little bit more deliberately? That's the question? Right. So I would argue that when we have negative thoughts about ourselves and our weight, these are actually very primitive thoughts.

Dr. Angela (19:20):
They're self critical thoughts, and they're a survival mechanism. There are primitive brain turning on ourselves. So if you are having self disparaging thoughts about your weight, these are likely unconscious negative thoughts. So does that mean you shouldn't try to change it? No, it's not what I'm saying at all. But what I am saying is that the first step is to recognize that weight is a neutral circumstance and fighting against reality is always a losing battle. you can't fight reality. Accepting reality is where your power lies. So your power lies in accepting the circumstances that you're presented with. And then just noticing that you have a choice as to how you want to think about them. So you have this neutral circumstance of what you weigh, just be very careful what you think about that and make sure that the thoughts that you think create emotions that will support you in achieving your goals. So thoughts, like I want to feel healthy and vibrant will create emotions that will fuel behavior that will allow you to lose weight and feel better. Thoughts like this is terrible and never be able to lose weight. I always gain it back. All those kinds of thoughts will create emotions that will keep you really, really stuck. Okay. So the circumstances are neutral. Our thoughts about those circumstances need to be chosen very wisely and with intention. Okay. Makes sense.

Marchelle (20:54):

Dr. Angela (20:54):
I'm going to give you a few more examples and I'm going to use some extreme examples too. We all recently heard that children got shot in school. So if you hear that you're most likely going to decide that's a horrible, devastating thing, and you will most likely want to feel horrified and feel compassion for the parents and the family members of those children who are suffering. I know, I sure do. But there may be other circumstances in the world that may not be so black and white that you, and you may decide to start choosing less negative thinking about them. So for example let's say somebody cuts you off on the road. This actually is not a neutral circumstance because when you use the term, they cut me off. There's a judgment there. Okay. So you would define the circumstance as somebody moved in front of me in traffic very quickly without signaling their intention.

Dr. Angela (21:52):
Okay. And you might decide at that point that this circumstance doesn't necessarily have to have a negative thought attached to it, not necessarily. And you could just leave it as a neutral circumstance and move on with your life. Then you get to be in charge of deciding what to think and how to feel about it. You could decide, this is a horrible thing. This person's an idiot. And then you could, you could do whatever you want. Most people do that knee jerk response, that's their knee-jerk response. And then there are a few people who live lives of pious joy, and they say, oh my gosh, that person must not be aware of what they're doing. I hope they're okay. And send them a blessing. you know, so yeah. So, but, but that person moving in front of you in traffic is just one of those neutral circumstances.

Dr. Angela (22:43):
The world is the world. Okay. This is when, when you, when you start separating this out, this is when you truly begin to feel more authority and more power in your life. And eventually you can begin to take some of the circumstances that are neutral and put a positive spin on them, interpreting them in a way that serves you. And that creates emotions that drive you to do things that will bring even more awesome results into your life. So imagine that when you're doing that more consistently, you're just going to add more positive emotion into the world. Right. And that's always a good thing. So

Marchelle (23:26):
Yeah. What do you think? I feel like this is really, I mean, to, for me to learn this and relearn, this is so huge. Just, you know, I feel like I'm becoming a better person just talking about this today. Yeah. Yeah. Cause it's cuz it's and at least I more of a free thinker.

Dr. Angela (23:41):
Yeah. Because I

Marchelle (23:42):
It's like won't be, so yeah. I'm not going to be so burdened with, you know, those automatic judgemental, high expectation type of thinking thoughts mm-hmm and and yeah, this is so great. I'm so glad that we talked about this today. Thank you.

Dr. Angela (23:59):
Yeah. And you know, having just come outta COVID and everything, another neutral circumstance, I know in the beginning, when you had COVID you were like, wait a minute.  

Marchelle (24:08):
I wanted to find out who gave it to me so I could blame them.  

Dr. Angela (24:11):
Yeah, exactly.

Marchelle (24:12):
Like that. Wasn't doing good.

Dr. Angela (24:14):
So glad it wasn't me.

Marchelle (24:16):
Right. I was like, who gave this to me? But no. So this is, this is just such a great way of thinking. And like I said, I mean, just relearning this, cuz I know that, I know that we've talked about this before, but every time that we discuss this, it sort of hits me in a different way and yeah. Then, you know, it sinks in a little bit more and I, I just, I just love, I love when we talk about this kind of stuff.

Dr. Angela (24:36):
Yeah. That's cool. And

Marchelle (24:38):
Well, we talked else wants to hear about it. Yeah, we can talk to them about the Sugar and Flour Busters. Kickstart Challenge.

Dr. Angela (24:48):
Yes. We are. In the midst of the challenge, we just did. We're recording this right after I finished day one of the challenge, which was so much fun because we have all these people in this Facebook group and then we get on live and I can't actually see them. I can only see their comments, but I am a teaching. Really interesting, cool stuff. About what sugar and flour does to the body and how your body metabolizes it. And like, this is stuff that your own doctor probably doesn't even know so it's really

Marchelle (25:23):
Be able to talk about with anybody. Yeah.

Dr. Angela (25:25):
Yeah, exactly. So so I just have a blast teaching this stuff. And so we're in the midst of the challenge right now. So this podcast will drop on Wednesday and it's still, it's not too late. If you're listening to this podcast on Wednesday or Thursday or even over the weekend and you want to sign up for the challenge, it won't be too late because you can watch the replays and I have prizes I'm giving away so I know. So mm-hmm, watch the replay and do the assignment and then you're eligible to win a prize, which is very cool. So, so be it feel free to join us in the challenge. It's at And we'll put a link in these show notes so that you can get that if you want to do that. I think I, I just, I love teaching this stuff. It's great fun. So it's, it's interesting because I love teaching the biochemistry stuff and I love teaching the emotional stuff and I love teaching the self mastery stuff and I just love teaching. So there you go. It's fun. Yeah. All right. Do you have any other, any other last minute comments Marcelle?

Marchelle (26:37):
No. Just

Dr. Angela (26:37):
Okay. We're good to go.

Marchelle (26:38):
Thank you everyone for listening.

Dr. Angela (26:40):
Yeah. Yeah. That's all for this week. Remember your goal for this week is to remember that your circumstances are always neutral. Join us in the, the sugar busters kickstart challenge, if you would like to learn more and we will see you all next week. Take care. Bye.

--- End of Transcription ---

Dr. Angela



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