Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss

Ep 30: Stop Overeating, Binge Eating, and Obsessing Over Food with Dr. Glenn Livingston

November 01, 2022 Dr. Glenn Livingston Episode 30
Wits & Weights | Nutrition, Lifting, Muscle, Metabolism, & Fat Loss
Ep 30: Stop Overeating, Binge Eating, and Obsessing Over Food with Dr. Glenn Livingston
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Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Glenn Livingston is a veteran psychologist and was the long time CEO of a multi-million-dollar consulting firm for Fortune 500 clients in the food industry. You may have seen his (or his company’s) previous work, theories, and research in major media outlets like The New York Times, ABC, or CBS radio, among many others.

Disillusioned by what traditional psychology had to offer overweight and food obsessed individuals, Dr. Livingston spent several decades researching the nature of bingeing and overeating in working with his own patients AND a self-funded research program with more than 40,000 participants. Most importantly was his own personal journey out of obesity and food prison to a normal, healthy weight and a much more lighthearted relationship with food.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Glenn's personal story with overeating and binge eating
  • Why the modern world is a perfect storm for overeating and binge eating
  • Practical strategies people can use to stop overeating
  • Starting with just ONE rule for the most troublesome trigger food or behavior
  • Why rules and a personal food plan are liberating, not restrictive
  • Why generalizations like "just eat everything in moderation" are not helpful
  • Why we should strive for perfectionism (with a caveat)
  • How someone trying to GAIN weight would use this approach
  • The difference between HUNGER and CRAVINGS
  • Challenging clients and situations that required a more intense approach
  • Dealing with overeating on the weekends!
  • The one thing Dr. Livingston wished he learned earlier in life
  • The one question Glenn wished I'd asked...and his answer
  • Where to get a copy of his free book, "Never Binge Again"

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Philip Pape:

Welcome to the Wits& Weights podcast, where we discuss getting strong and healthy with strength training and sustainable nutrition. I'm your host, Philip pape, and in each episode, we examine strategies to help you achieve physical self mastery through a healthy skepticism of the fitness industry, and a commitment to consistent nutrition and training for sustainable results. Welcome to another episode of Wits & Weights. I'm excited today to have Dr. Glen Livingston on the show, especially because of his incredible work and useful strategies on emotional and binge eating. Dr. Livingston is a veteran psychologist, and was the longtime CEO of a multimillion dollar consulting firm for Fortune 500 clients in the food industry. You may have seen his or his company's previous work theories and research in major media outlets like the New York Times, ABC or CBS Radio, among many others. This illusion by what traditional psychology had to offer overweight and food obsessed individuals. Dr. Livingstone spent several decades researching the nature of binging and overeating and working with his own patients, and a self funded research program with more than 40,000 participants. Most importantly, was his own personal journey out of obesity and food prison to a normal healthy weight, and a much more lighthearted relationship with food. Glenn, thanks for taking the time to come on the show.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Thank you so much. It's nice to be here. And looking forward to it.

Philip Pape:

Likewise, I think it's going to be a great conversation. And to start off, since we are going to explore the topic of overeating and binge eating. What is your personal connection with this your personal story with overeating? What inspired you to become an expert in the area?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Where do you live? Phillip?

Philip Pape:

I live in Connecticut.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Okay. My mother was in Danbury, Connecticut. And what was the name of the store, there was a deli there. It's right off Route, maybe for exit nine. And if you happen to stop there and find that they were out of pizza or pop tarts, I was probably there before you. So I have a very personal connection with overeating. It I'll try to encapsulate it a little more concisely. But when I was 17, or 18, I figured out that if I worked out hard because I'm six, four and just genetically lucky, little bit muscular. That worked out for a couple hours a day, I could eat whatever I wanted to like literally five 6000 calories a day and boxes of pizza and boxes of muffins and multiple chocolate bars. And if it wasn't nailed down, and then it was mine. And I thought that was great. It wasn't a problem. It was more like a superpower like Doug Graham says. And that worked for me until I was 22 or 23 years old. And I was married. And I was commuting several hours each way every day to go to graduate school and see patients and take classes. And then we get home and we'd have to work on the business a little bit. And God forbid my ex wife wanted to talk to me it was I just didn't have the time to work out. And so I discovered though that the food had a hold on me a life of its own. So I kept eating like that. And slowly but surely I got heavier. And my triglycerides went to well over 1000. And the doctors were yelling at me that, you know, I probably wasn't going to see 30 or 35 if I kept going like this and their heart attacks up and down the line of my family. And you know what, what bothered me the most though was that it interfere with my work, because I'm from a family of 17, psychotherapists, my mom and my dad and my grandparents and my aunts and my uncle, everybody, my grandmother. And so what was always most important to me was being a really good doctor. And I found that I just couldn't be totally present with my patients. And the thing is that psychology is not so much of an intellectual clinical psychology isn't really so much of an intellectual endeavor. I mean, you got to know a lot of stuff. But it's not like people come in and they present you with the puzzle of their life. And you say, well just rotate this here and you're missing this spot here and they go brilliant, brilliant doc, I'll get right on that. That part is actually relatively easy. Within you do a little bit of studying within a couple of sessions, you can kind of figure out what's going on with people. What's really hard is getting them to love and trust you enough so that they're willing to think new thoughts and go outside of their comfort zone and do new things. And to do that you have to learn them your soul, you gotta be right there with them. And I wasn't I was thinking, you know, sitting with a suicidal person thinking when can I get the next pizza? And I never lost anybody. Thank God, but but I wasn't fully there and that's what bothered me we're going anything and And being from the family I was from I went to very traditional roots. And I figured I must have a hole in my heart, a metaphorical hole in my heart. And if I could fill that hole in my heart, then I wouldn't have to fill the hole in my stomach. And so I tried to love myself then for lack of a better phrase, and nurture my inner Wounded Child, I went on a kind of spiritual journey, I went to, you know, doctors and healers and Overeaters Anonymous and took medication for a while and, and I don't regret it, because I feel like it enriched me and made me more compassionate person made me a deeper person as part of who I am today. But it didn't really help with the binge eating, or we get a little better when a lot worse, a little better and a lot worse. And it was up and down and wait, but like, gradually up, up, up, up. And what really helped me and was flipping the paradigm. And there are a number of things that happened that caused me to flip the paradigm from love yourself, Finn, to no be the alpha dog of your own brand. And kind of like a tough love approach. What what happened was, my ex wife was traveling for business all the time, she was a focus group, moderator and I had this extra time on my hands to start a second career. So because I didn't commute, and we didn't have kids. So I started consulting for big companies. Also, a lot of big companies in the food industry. I was on the wrong side of the war, I was like a hidden first wave sweater and advertising research. And I regret that I'm trying to make up for it now. But but but I saw that what they were doing was throwing billions of dollars. To have all these rocket scientists engineer, these hyper palatable concentrations of starch and sugar and fat and excitotoxins, and oil and salt and, and it's all aimed at reaching the bliss point in the reptilian brain stimulated the bliss point in the reptilian brain, without giving us enough nutrition to feel satisfied, which creates addiction, you know, and then every time you're looking for love at the bottom of a bag, or a box or a container, there's some fat cat in a white suit and mustache that's laughing all the way to the back.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, yeah. So those are the you never, you can never stop it. Just one, right? You can never eat just one. That's the food science industry. But it's hard.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

It's hard. They actually, besides the food science, there's the advertising. And people think advertising doesn't affect them. But it affects you more when you don't think it affects you because your cells resistance is down. And not only does the food science stimulate the bliss point in the reptilian brain, without the nutrition, so you want more and more and more. But it turns off your ability to know when you're full. It actually physiologically turns off some of the sensors in your body, a lot of them do to know when you're full. And they press other evolutionary buttons that you don't even know that you have, like, you know, when, when a bag of chips is engineered, it's usually not from a unitary assembly line, usually multiple assembly lines with slightly different flavors, just very slightly different micro differences in flavor. Because your brain is wired to look for diversity, because a diversity of different flavors should be a diversity of different micronutrients. So you keep going and going and going when you encounter. So there are lots of things like that, that go on that just keep you eating. So I said that's an external force, the advertising industry, they're good at faking us out. Also, for example, it was working with this food brand manufacturer, who shall remain nameless, so don't get sued. And the VP kind of hung his head in chambers, he was leaving the company and told me, you know, Glenn, the most profitable thing we did was to take the vitamins out of the bar, because they were too expensive. And we could put the money into the packaging instead. So they made these diverse, multicolored, vibrant packages, which looks like the rainbow in nature, like you're supposed to eat the rainbow because when you find a diversity of colors, you're also red, red tomatoes, green lettuce, blueberries, yellow carrots, you're reading a diversity of micronutrients. So there are buttons in the reptilian brain that says, go for the rainbow. But in this case, they were pressing those buttons, but taking the nutrients out. And so I said to myself back to your original question. These are two very powerful external forces. You know, the advertising industry and the big food industry that have nothing to do with the fact that it was in a bad marriage had nothing to do with the fact that my mom didn't love me enough where she dropped my on my head when I was a baby and her mother dropped her on her head when she was a baby. It has nothing to do with my personal psychology. It's just a very powerful external force pressing on the reptilian brand. Furthermore, when I started to study neurology a little bit and just just a little I'm known enough to be dangerous, but But I discovered the reptilian brain doesn't know love. Like if this Is the reptilian brain when it looks at something in the environment, it says, Do I eat it? Do I meet with it? Or do I kill it? It's like a bad college drinking game, eat made or kill. On top of that, is the mammalian brain, which says, Wait a minute before you eat meat or kill that thing? What impact does that have have on your tribe and the people that you love? And then there's the neocortex that says, Before you eat meat or kill that thing, what impact does that have on the person you're trying to become on your long term goals, on your fitness, your training, your weight loss, your health in general, and who you want to be in the world. So this thing here doesn't know love? Yet, I'm spending, I must have spent two and a half decades trying to love myself in. So I said, Okay, this is more a matter of controlling a bodily organ than solving a psychological problem. What's it's hard for me to admit as a psychologist from the family that I was in, but since it's more a matter of controlling a bodily organ, I already control my testicles. And my, my, my bladder, right? If if I had to pee really, really badly, right now, if my bladder was pressing me to go pee, I would say, Look, I'm talking to Philip, we have an agreement to talk for an hour or so. And I'm going to have to get to you later. We'll just have to hold it. I don't really have to pee now. So you don't have to worry about

Philip Pape:

it. No, I'm not worried.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Same thing with your testicles. Right? Like, if there's a really pretty woman that I've seen in the beach, I know we're running out to kiss her right away. Actually, don't do that. Anyway, because I have a girlfriend and I'm kind of shy anyway. But but you know what I mean, there are civilized ways of going about this. And I have to credit champ, Jack trampy, of rational recovery, who wrote about this kind of thing for kind of putting this together for me. And I said, Well, why can't I control this organ and the reptilian brain that says, you know, just hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt? It's it's a misfiring of the survival drive. stimulated by industry. Why can't I control that same way. So here's what I did. It's a little crazy, it's going to sound less than sensitive, I promise you, this whole thing comes together into a system that's very compassionate and loving. But it's gonna sound a little crazy at first, I decided and I was not going to take this public. It's just an experiment on my own, that I had to know when the reptilian brain was active in order to stop it. So I have had very clear rules like a very clear line in the sand. So I knew when this reptilian brain was trying to get me to cross it. So I'd start with something like, I will never eat chocolate on a weekday again, and never have chocolate Monday to Friday, only on a Saturday or Sunday. Because then if I'm at Starbucks on a Wednesday, and I hear this voice in my head that says, you worked out hard enough, Glenn, it's going to be no big deal to just start again tomorrow. Start your silly diet tomorrow, go ahead and have some chocolate, you're not going to gain any weight. I would say, wait a minute, that's not me. Here's the crazy part. That's my inner pig, and called me my reptilian brain, an inner pig are kind of, you know, fictionalized it. Chocolate on a Wednesday is pig slop. I don't eat pig slop. And I don't like farm animals tell me what to do. And as ridiculous as that sounds as crude as that sounds, it would wake me up with a moment of impulse and give me a few extra microseconds to make the right choice, which I wish I could say I always did right away, but I didn't. But it just it cleared away the muck, I no longer thought I had some chronic progressive mysterious disease, I didn't think I had some psychological problem that nobody was able to get to. It's just like, my reptilian brain was active. And now I was waking up. So I had to get better at waking up, I had to get better at turning off the lizard brain. We've talked a little bit more about that in a little bit. And then I had to adjust the rules, so that I found rules that I wouldn't could follow. Which was easier than I thought it would be. Because nobody was telling me what to eat. I was deciding myself. And they said, well, one of the most important thing is that I make rules that I can follow. What is the most important thing is that I prove to myself that I'm dominant over this stupid bodily organism ruining my life. And then after that, I'll deal with losing weight.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, so I want to unpack a lot of this because I really love the connection you're making. So a lot of people think this is a behavioral thing, a psychological thing, right? Like you said, there's some deep way to solve this with love or something else. And I like how you separate the primal from the psychological reminds me of a study I can't tell you who did it wasn't wasn't too many years ago, where they had the two groups basically locked in a in a room as part of the study and one group was asked to eat processed food and one group was asked to eat more whole foods. And they were basically left to their own devices to eat till they were full. And the group eating the process food ate about 500 calories more a day than the other other group, which which supports what you're saying because every single person in that group eating more calories because they have some, you know, emotional or psychologic The goal, right? Or is it, you know, the external force of making this perfectly delectable, highly palatable food that we just can't, can't resist, or we think we can't resist, which then leads to what you're saying is, if we're aware of that, and if we can name it, and we can then give ourselves our own rules, as opposed to following Peter, or following this or following that diet. I think it's matter. It sounds like it's a matter of self control. It's a matter of maybe a little bit of work, right, a little bit of thinking and thought and planning ahead of that, which I really love. And I think people can act on I mean, that's the key. It's not this years of what do I do? I'm so overwhelmed. Sounds like taking really act on this. Yeah. First, and I haven't read in your book, never binge again. So I'm gonna plug that for people. Where you talk about the food plan, you talk about the food rules, and you do mention this one rule for the one trigger foods. It sounds like, it sounds like that.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

With start with one simple rule. Yeah, what happens? My understanding is that overeating and particularly binge eating, but overeating in general, is a misfiring of the feast and famine response in the reptilian brain. It's this. It's this emergency response system that that was used to having evolved in an environment where food was not plentiful. And so when you came up on the harvest, or the catch, that would say, you better horrible you can. And what happens is, most overeaters are also good dieters, and so they keep themselves in this steady state of feast and famine. So there is an old nursery spring that says when she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad, she was hard. That's how most people live with their eating. Like they say, Well, I'm unplanned now. Screw it, I'm totally off plan, I'll start this again. And you want to beat that. And the way that you start to beat that is don't set the bar too high, come up with one simple practical thing that you could and would do, that doesn't feel too burdensome, so that you can experience success, I'll always put my fork down between bites, I'll never eat after seven o'clock, I'll never go back for second some, something you couldn't would do. That would make a really big difference. But it's not, it's not going to cause you to lose all the weight in 30 days, it's not going to totally fix all your health problems, it's just going to get you back into control and prove that you can do this thing.

Philip Pape:

So So going on that example, let's say alcohol is your problem. Just for an example. You drink drink too many drinks on the weekend, would would that first step be to have fewer drinks? Or would it be have none? I mean, which how? I don't want to say extreme Do we go but where does the rule make sense.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

So I prefer when it comes to drugs and alcohol that people use Rational recovery or, you know, though, those specific techniques, because first of all, he's been developing this for 20 years specific to drugs and alcohol, and it tends to work better, my system is more forgiving. In other words, people tend to make more mistakes with food. And you can't really afford to make mistakes with drugs and alcohol, you might get behind the wheel and car to killer games. And when that said, people do use this sometimes for moderating their alcohol. And you know that

Philip Pape:

Yeah, and that wasn't referring just everybody knows I'm not referring to alcoholism, specifically, I'm just talking about the average client that might drink a little bit on much on the weekend.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

So what typically happens with alcohol and food is that alcohol is a disinhibitor. So it makes it harder to follow your rules. And what I what I find is that with women, they'll tell me that if they have more than one drink at a meal, that they aren't able to follow the rules. And men will tell me that if they have more than two drinks at a meal, they're not able to follow their rules. So I said, Well, why don't you make a rule that says, I'll just have one drink at a meal or drinks? And yeah,

Philip Pape:

yeah, so So speaking of rules, right? Some people might listen to this immediately. And I'm sure you you've always gotten this reaction that rules are themselves restrictive, and maybe cause people to binge I see the value in planning ahead. Mainly to avoid making decisions in the moment, at least that's the value I see in rules is having guidelines to avoid decisions, or, you know, spur the moment decisions. So what would you say to those who think rules are overly restrictive, or there's a danger in distinguishing good from bad when it comes to foods?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

So I have a lot of thoughts about that. And there is a whole philosophy of overcoming overeating, that says that making rules makes you feel too rebellious. And the cause of every binge is a restriction, even a mental restriction. And I will say that it's possible to make rules that overly restrict your food and you don't want to do that. So I think of rule is kind of like a good sharp kitchen knife. You can use them to chop vegetables or you can use them to kill your neighbor, and you shouldn't use them to kill your neighbor. Right? You could be you could also be self destructive with it. There. The idea of just learning to eat more mindfully is important. People eat less when they eat mindfully. There's some studies that say you are absorb more nutrition. If you eat mindfully, it's good to eat mindfully. But relying on that solely as a mechanism of overcoming overeating, I think is a mistake. The people that I talked to who have more or less done that, they still complain that they're not eating healthy enough, they would like to be eating healthier, but they're scared to to draw the line between healthy and unhealthy foods. And I'll say, Well, you know, do you know that there's flavored cardboard in the food system, like there's like, if you've seen some of the things these companies do, you wouldn't be. And at some point, you have to stand up and say, I opt out. That is a bad food that is an unhealthy food, I choose to eat healthier foods. And I'm not saying you can't indulge in processed foods, sometimes most of my clients two or three of them, they wind up making rules to moderate the food, like, I'll have no more than one bag of chips, and not more than, you know, every two days. Most people, that's what they do. But in the absence of rules, I don't really see how you can work it out to be mindful all the time. We don't live in a world where you can be mindful all the time. It's kind of like driving. When I'm driving around town. I'm mindful, I am. I'm daydreaming a little bit. Also, I am maybe listening to some music or a podcast or something like that. But I stopped at the red lights. And I'm thankful that the red lights are there, because there could be a guy coming in the other way, you know that those those rules protect me. And they actually expand my freedom, they don't contract my freedom to make it possible for my radius of locomotion to go farther. The other thing about that statement that creating rules is too much of a mental restriction. It's based upon the idea that it's going to stimulate your Inner Inner rebel. And it's true that it will, it will make you feel rebellious, you make a rule that says I want to have never have chocolate on the week, during the week again, watch yourself every time you go into a Starbucks, there's going to be a little voice in your head that says, Oh, my God, give me the chocolate. You have to be kidding me. Right?

Philip Pape:

And you're gonna see the chocolate more than you've ever seen it before. Yeah,

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

for a while, for a while, after a certain period of time you go through an extinction protocol, and your reptilian brain doesn't jump at that anymore. Because the brain is very efficient. It does not want to waste energy. So when it recognizes that this is a craving, you never get into, it stops, it stops the craving, we don't crave things that we're never gonna have. It just

Philip Pape:

Yeah. And I love that concept, the extinction protocol, which sounds like a habit. I mean, that's what I would turn it into. Well, there's a lot of research into that. Yeah, I love that. Yeah,

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

yeah, it takes 30 exposures or so to the, to the offending stimulus. And a couple of little bursts of cravings, like, people think it's just gonna go straight down like this, but it actually goes through a honeymoon period, then you get some significant cravings, then it goes down, then you get a little craving and, and then it just kind of trails away. I have offered the point that I never eat chocolate, I don't we didn't have a rule about it. I just became someone who doesn't eat chocolate, and I don't, I don't crave it. I don't think about it. I just I'm just I'm just someone who doesn't eat chocolate. But what I was going to say is that the essence of recovering from overeating is making the decision to move your important food decisions from emotions, whims and impulses, to your intellect. Now, rebellious ness is just another emotion. So you could feel angry, you could feel depressed, you could feel lonely, you could feel anxious, you don't have to overeat because of those feelings, you can sever the link, you're gonna have those feelings, but you can sever the link between those feelings and overeating. Just like a really good fireplace severs a link between the fire and burning down the house. Right? The fire can keep burning, you can still have all the emotions in the world. But it doesn't have to get out of the fireplace, it doesn't have to burn down the house, you can be as rebellious you can feel as rebellious as you want to. But if you don't eat chocolate, on a weekday, then you don't eat chocolate on a weekday. So I don't see it as any different than that. And I really see the ultimate goal is learning to control your important food decisions with your intellect rather than your emotions and impulses.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, so controlling with your intellect would then probably go counter to some of the old saying either there's an adage just eat everything in moderation. For example, I hear that a lot.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Yeah, well, I mean, what they'll say is eat well 90% of the time and indulge yourself 10% of the time. For things that have not established themselves as to Addictive a pattern. You could do that but for the things that are too addictive for you. It's going to be difficult because first of all, the cravings are very, very strong. They're artificially inflated by food industry, but they're very, very strong. It was a matter of habit. And secondly, when you say well, 90% of the time and indulge yourself 10% of the time, you don't have a vehicle for deciding, which is the 90% and which is the 10%. So you're forcing yourself into a situation where you have to make food decisions all day long. If I say if I say I'm just going to have chocolate 10% of the time, it's great in theory as a guideline, but every time I walk into Starbucks or any place that there's a chocolate bar, I have to make another chocolate decision. And willpower is the ability to make good decisions. Unfortunately, that ability is not like a genetic given where some people have it or they don't. It's more like gas in the tank, and you wear it down all day long as you make decisions, which is the reason that your decisions are better in the morning than they are in the evening. So if you create a rule that says I'll only have chocolate, on a weekday, I only have chocolate on a weekend that I've made all my chocolate decisions during the week, I don't have to burn my willpower all week long.

Philip Pape:

Hey, this is Philip pape, letting you know that applications are now open for one on one coaching. If you're a busy working professional, who has tried dieting and exercising for years, with little in the way of results, and you want to lose fat, get lean or feel confident in your body without excessive dieting, cardio or restrictions, just go to wits & weights.com/coaching, to apply. Now, how does this How does this tie into people who are tracking right? So a lot of my clients the track is that's one way to learn about intake when we're trying to go for a specific goal, you know, generally fat loss goal, but it could be a muscle building goal, I have clients and myself who need to eat a lot of calories to go the other direction. The tracking itself is somewhat of a structure and that going into each day, you know, there's a limit on the calories, right? But it still leaves you open to making decisions potentially in the moment, and could be disruptive if those decisions are things that you just can't help but want to eat more of. What do you think of that? Yeah,

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

you know, I know a woman who was traveling and her business required her to eat at a restaurant three times a day for three months. And the way she worked it out, was to never step foot in a restaurant, unless she'd written down and tracked exactly what she was going to have beforehand. So she kept herself out of the environment of temptation, unless all of her decisions were met. And so the tracking, the tracking was a willpower preservative that she and she was perfectly fine, she's perfectly fine like that. If you have a rule that you write down your calories, or macros or nutrients before you eat them, it inserts a pause between stimulus and response. And it gives you a little bit more control. And it at least forces you to make the decision before your taste buds are stimulated. And you're right in front of all the smells and everything like that. So it kind of depends how you use it, some people use it after eating. And that kind of gives them a sense of control and help help them with the decision making. But it doesn't obviate the need for decision making in the first place. So it's a good tool. People sometimes get tired of tracking and so there are other tools you can use. Yes, awesome.

Philip Pape:

happens for sure. And the example you made about pre logging, that's the term I use has been helpful to people, I've seen it work a lot where things have maybe lately been going out of control on the weekends, and all of a sudden, you're just not sure how you're going to stay there. And we say Okay, tomorrow, for tomorrow, I want you to think about everything you're going to eat, pre log it in your app, and then execute the plan. And that usually works for a lot of people. So it's a great

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

event. And you think about it, like, you know, there's general Glenn that plans it all out. And then there's private limits, there's the application not to question why are yours to do or die, right?

Philip Pape:

Yeah. And actually, we apply the same thing to training, you know, plan out your sets, your reps, your exercises, and then go in and execute and then you know, you're gonna, that's what you're gonna do. So, I again, I've been reading your book, and there was a quote in there. And it's related somewhat to some things we've touched on already. You said, quote, you must authoritatively declare your food plan as 100% Perfect, or you're not committing to anything at all. And then you expound on pre the pre and post binging context, and we just touched on the pre, you know, doing things ahead of time. But can you elaborate on that philosophy of perfection?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Yeah, most people think that perfectionism is a bad thing, and that we have to strive for progress and not perfection. That's true, and it's not true. It's only true in context. If you made a mistake, then beating yourself up and saying, Well, if I'm not perfect, then I'm nothing and I'm, I am pathetic. I can't possibly do this. Your pet your pig is going to jump in and say, therefore, you might as well just binge binge binge binge binge at least till the end. then you can start again tomorrow, right? So, after you've made a mistake, you, you need to say, look, I'm human, I was practicing a food plot plan. Now it's time for the big leagues. Let's see, I missed the bullseye by how much and in what direction, so that I know how to make adjustments and aim again. And then I forgive myself, it's just like, if I accidentally touch a hot stove, I don't want to say oh my god, you're a pathetic hot stove touch here, you might as well put your whole hand down on the stove and just bring the whole thing off. Because you can't even do this right, or you could chip a tooth, you don't go get a hammer and bang the rest of them out. You have to forgive yourself with dignity. However, when you're aiming at the bullseye, an Olympic Archer, who only hits the Bull's eye 35 or 40% of the time, but when the Olympic Archer is aiming at the bullseye, before they lose the arrow, they see the arrow going in with perfection, they kind of have to be one with the target. They're not saying maybe I'll make it, maybe I won't, I'll do the best I can. So that, no, I'm gonna hit the target. Because I see the I Am One With that goal. You commit with perfection, but forgive yourself with dignity. By committing with perfection, you prevent your pig from draining your energy with doubt and insecurity. You purge your mind of doubt and insecurity, you claim the target. And you can make with perfection and do everything you can to hit it. Yeah, so you can make with perfection and forgive yourself with dignity, your pig will do exactly the opposite. Your people will say just try the best you can, which just means you'll try for a little while so you don't feel like it anymore. And then if you miss it, it'll say oh, you're an idiot, you obviously can't do this, just shoot the rest of the arrows into the audience. We wanted to the opposite of that. So perfectionism is being used anyway, no matter how you slice it. So let's let's harness the energy and use it as a commitment tool, not as a forgiveness and analysis tool

Philip Pape:

as a braiding tool. Yeah, no, that's, that's really good. And I think, again, you know, I'm a coach. And a lot of times people need that boost ahead of time and try not to say, hey, just do your best. It's more, this is our plan. Let's go get it. Let's let's execute to the plan. And then afterward, you didn't make the plan. Okay, that new day? Let's start again. Yeah. So I just wanted to clarify that because I know, you know, that could be a controversial concept to people with the perfectionism. So let's, let's say someone's not trying to lose weight, I was just curious, on your take on this, someone is maybe in a maintenance phase, or building phase or trying to gain weight, because I know, probably 90% Plus what you're talking about is about losing weight. Would you take any different approach and that scenario, in terms of managing overeating or binge eating,

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

we wouldn't take an approach in terms of the structure of mind or techniques that we use. However, the rules are different, we usually have anti restriction rules. You know, like I will, although we see 600 calories before 11am. Or I will have no less and no more than three meals per day and never less than x number of calories per meal. We'll have anti restriction rules in place to keep the calories up.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, anti Russia, okay, I was I was worried about that. I was thinking that exact same thing. Because if it's three o'clock, and I haven't hit, you know, 2500 calories, man, the rest of the day is going to be really tough to try to

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

be a bodybuilder. So we're going to gaming things on there. Yeah.

Philip Pape:

And then you and then you're prone to maybe scarfing on processed food on purpose. And that could be an issue over time, you know, just to get the calories. And I was curious about that. So you talked about cravings. I think language is important. Is there a difference between hunger and cravings?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

I believe that most of our hungry and foam meters have been broken by industry, especially if you're binge eating or like seriously out of control. But even if you're just overeating, a little beyond your own best judgment. And the traditional approach is to help you become more in tune with your hunger and fullness so that you can eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. Which I think is a good guideline but I don't think it's enforceable via these never binge again methods. Because I don't think we have a true sense of being hungry and full I think it's it's distorted from from industry that says there isn't that said there is a difference between a craving and true hunger. I think you feel true hunger kind of in the back of your throat. true hunger will make the meal taste better. You'll know if you really were hungry, but hungry because hunger is the best sauce. If you're really hungry, you'll be happy with fruit and vegetables. If you're not so, if you're if it's more of a craving, it's got to be the chocolate bar and the Doritos Right? So there's definitely a difference but I don't rely on that difference to help people overcome overeating.

Philip Pape:

Okay, but it sounds like if you if you ask yourself what I what I eat as bullets calorie? And the answer is no, you're probably not hungry. Okay. So what have you dealt with, I'm sure you have a client or situation that was just very, very challenging someone who had, you know, maybe a lot to surmount, and had to pull out all these tools and strategies and help them overcome their personal speaking points.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

The hardest thing we have to deal with is people hiding. There two things people hide, and they fall in love with their emotions. There's so much emphasis on emotions and overeating in our culture that people think they have to solve their emotional problems. And I just had a session with a client and home session, she was crying and told me it's so frustrating. And I kept saying, but what do you want? What do you want to accomplish? If people will do the work to like, pick a very specific goal and then analyze, I guess we didn't really talk about that one. The the pig will, once you have a rule in place, the pig will usually squeal in such a way. That sounds true. It's like a half truth and a bigger lie, to convince you to indulge in the cravings. So for example, the one I used before when the pig says, you know, you worked out hard enough, it's going to be just as easy for you to start your diet again tomorrow, go ahead and have the chocolate back are now. Well, it's true that I worked out harder enough. And if I just had one bar that I probably wouldn't gain weight. But it's never just a bar. It really wasn't for me, chocolate was my thing. And it would lead to pizza and everything else. Secondly, the way that the brain works, the principle of neuroplasticity says that if I have a craving and I indulge it today, that craving is going to be stronger tomorrow, as well. The thought that just came right before the indulgence. So the thought and just start tomorrow is going to be more likely to recur tomorrow with a stronger craving. So it's not just as easy to start tomorrow, it's harder. I can only ever use the present moment to be healthy. If you're in a hole, stop digging. So what you want to do is is disempower those irrational thoughts. That's the work of what we do. There's, there's more to it, because there ways to get out of the reptilian brain and into your higher brain to kind of calm down and think rationally. But that's the essence of what we do. The biggest problem I have is that people won't do it. They'll, you know, they'll, they'll say, I just have to solve these emotional problems, or they won't show up for recession, or, you know, they want to do the little assignments that we give. And that's, that's the biggest problem I have not really that the techniques themselves don't work or that you need a stronger one to help someone who's 500 pounds than you do to help someone who's 200 pounds. Yeah, same techniques work.

Philip Pape:

So it's it's not the winner. People know what to do. They just don't do it. It sounds like it's an accountability and a momentum thing.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

The pig talks him out of it. May I say a little bit more about emotional eating, please. Okay. The paradigm we have in our culture is the belief that I have these uncomfortable emotions, and I escaped from them with overeating, right. And this is not really my hands are not really the best analogy, but it's like it's this one way relationship. We're eating to, quote unquote, numb out. And it's true that when you overload the digestive system, the nervous system has difficulty conducting the emotions. So there is a kind of numbing anesthetic effect on the feelings when you overeat. That's true. However, several other things are also true. First of all, the things we overeat are not typically broccoli, it's more likely to be these concentrations of calories and starch and sugar in these hyper palatable things. Which we didn't have in the Savannah, we didn't have chocolate bars and Doritos on the savanna, right. And these artificial concentrations of pleasure are really akin to drugs. I mean, they're legal. And I'm not advocating that the manufacturers be put in jail or anything like that. But really, how is it that much different, it's an artificial concentrations of pleasure that evolution didn't prepare us for, and we get more and more and more involved with it. So when you're going to the chocolate bar, or the potato chips, or the pizza or the pasta, you're kind of sort of going to a drug. And so there's this piece of us that wants to get high with food, right? It's this is the stuff is not just numbing out. Do you ever go to the dentist? And he says I'm sorry, I'm Adam Novocaine? Could I inject you with some potato chips instead? Right because the potato chips have more than just a numbing effect. We're going after something else. There's an even more important difference though. It's not just a one way relationship. It goes both ways. Let's take anxiety. A lot of people say I'm too anxious to fall asleep without overeating. A lot of people say they can't fall asleep without eating something heavy. And no the middle site serotonin rich things you know, potatoes, pastas, there'll be eating very heavy, hard to digest serotonin producing things. So it seems to make sense. However, when you're looking at anxiety to get got several physiological correlates, your blood pressure goes up a little bit, you start to perspire, your respiration goes up, your heartbeat goes up a little, the galvanic skin response go was up a little bit. These are all very measurable things. Now, if you're looking at a group of animals, and you, you give them a sugar reward or a starch reward, when their heart rate goes up, or their blood pressure is up or any of this other. There's a study with baboons, for example, where every time their blood pressure was up a little bit, we reinforced them with sugar transit that those baboons while at the moment, they're having sugar, the the blood pressure goes down a little bit, overall, their blood pressure goes up, that whole group goes up. And so you could infer that perhaps the anxiety is raised overall, their body is learning to produce those experiences more because of the sugar reward, because his experiences led to a sugar reward. So you think that you're getting yourself back to sleep by doing this, but really what you're doing is creating progressively more anxiety. So what are the Yeah, but if the inability to sleep is actually caused by the rewards that you're giving it?

Philip Pape:

Yeah. Okay. So it's, it sounds complicated. But it also, in a way simplifies everything you said before in that, why don't we just focus on what we do have control over focus on that pig and focus on planning ahead? And like that concept, so what if a lot of my a lot of my clients face the temptation on the weekends, right, this is a pretty common approach. And they might describe it as emotional eating, in many cases. And I don't know, I don't know if it is or not, you know, in terms of the technical definition you were describing. But it's extremely common, right? Because the routine is broken. On the weekends, often for people, they have social events, they go out, they travel, hanging out with family, and so on. What would you say is maybe the the big go to approach or strategy for that case? It's it probably affects a lot of people.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

I plan to have more in the weekends, but but planted out? Right?

Philip Pape:

Okay. It's higher calories. And on the weekends? Yeah. Yeah, maybe

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

maybe a little less every day during the weekend, a little more on the weekend.

Philip Pape:

Okay. And that's, and that's effectively that, that's something you write down as a plan. So that's one thing we didn't talk about. When you come up with this food plan, it's you actually write down the rules for yourself? Yeah, so

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

maybe, maybe I would say, I will never have read on a weekday again. And no more than two slices a day on the weekend? They'll just be an example.

Philip Pape:

And then how do people hold themselves to that besides having written it down? Or is that is that the extent of it? Is that usually enough?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Well, well, okay. So whenever you create a rule, now, you know, that a pig squeal, and you don't have to call it a pig, you can call it your food monster. But a squeal is any thought filling impulse or reimage, which suggests that you're going to break the rule, either now or in the future. So you're kind of separating your thoughts into two, there's you and then there's the pick where your food master. And so if you say, I will never have more than two slices, on slices of bread on the weekends, and I will never ever during the week, your pickers going to squeal all the time saying at first saying, oh boy, you can have this, you know, forget about it on Wednesdays like Saturday, you first recognize that that's what's going on. That this is not you, this is a destructive thought, by your definition, this is a destructive thought of your pig. Okay, now what you want to do is move the battleground, what's happened is your reptilian brain is active, you're, you're probably have activated your sympathetic nervous system, which is the part of our nervous system that gets us ready for immediate action. You know, like, if a hungry bear is chasing you, it gets you all revved up. So you can take immediate action for your survival, your brain is misperceiving or to be in an emergency, you just got to have that extra piece of bread or you're going to die. That's that's literally what the brain is thinking. So now you know that it's active, you want to step into your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part that says it's okay to rest and digest and stratotype strategize and plan for the future. So, one way you can do that, once you realize that it's active, is to take what we call a 711 breath, where you breathe in for a kind of seven, and that for a count of 11. We do that a couple of times. The reason that works is that if we were in a true emergency, if we're being chased by a hungry bear, we'd be breathing as fast as we can, we wouldn't have time to breathe out for you know, 25 30% longer than we were then. And so the brain says okay, there must not be an emergency here so it starts to come down. Once you've done that, you can further move from the Chilean brain to the neocortex by writing down specifically what the pig is saying. Just the act of writing it down even if you can't disempower it will take you from the reptilian brain to Leo cortex because writing is an upper brain experience and binging as the lower brain experience. So now you're right down. Just start tomorrow, it's no big deal, right? Then you look at the squeal, you take another couple of 711 breaths, you look at the squeal. And you say, how is the pig wrong? How is it lying to me? Well, it's not easy. It's all the things we said before, it's not as easy to start tomorrow, because XYZ, take another couple of 711 breaths and you say, Why would I be a happier better person, if I kept the pig in the cage? Why wouldn't be a happier better person if I don't have the chocolate bar now. And maybe that has to do with feeling in integrity that I'm walking the walk in the world or, you know that I can climb to the top of the mountains as a tall fan man, or, you know, one of the reasons I have for the rules in the first place, you kind of come back to your big why. And then you take a breath out, you should feel calmer. The last thing you want to do is ask yourself, is there any genuine, physical or emotional need that I need to fulfill? Usually, it's physical, often these cravings are louder and more appealing when you're hungry or tired. So ask yourself, how do you take care of that? For chocolate for me, I eventually really got off of chocolate, not just with the rule. But you know, the rule gave me the power to recognize when this was happening. And it would experiment with a lot of different things that I could eat. When I realized that kale, kale juice, celery and bananas together seem to it doesn't didn't give me the same feeling I didn't get high with it the same way I got high with food. But I felt content, like it scratched the itch. And it was taking care of some genuine physiological need. So that whole routine together with it's what gave me the power to never have chocolate. That's that's how it happened.

Philip Pape:

This is This is gold gland. I love this. I'm gonna have to rewatch this a few times. Because there's so much great stuff in there going from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic, using the 711 technique, right? Sounds like it takes us out of the I don't know if it's the fight or flight. That's a colloquialism that feast or famine. Yeah, feast or famine, to telling our brain that, no, we're not in this emergency situation. And then the having substitutions. I know one substitution where you know, hunger is disguised, or thirst is disguised as hunger. And you may just need to drink could often work with people, but you found a specific food that maybe scratched the itch, but without all the other side effects, and it's not something you crave. So I just love that whole story, as well as the steps I think people are going to be able to take a lot from that. So thanks. I do want to ask more of a philosophical question for you. Is there something with everything you've learned that you wish you had learned earlier in life?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

I wish I learned that all earlier in life, but it's just not as complicated as it's as it sounds, it's, you know, you, I still thoroughly believe in psychology as a mechanism for soul enrichment, solving other problems in life. I wish that I didn't spend all those years looking for psychological solutions to overeating. Because I had damaged my body a lot in the process. I suffered a lot in ways that I didn't have to. The other thing that happens when you start to have control like this is that the food obsession goes away, because the pig doesn't crave things that it's never going to have. And it also will stop craving things that you don't do except for a very specific context. Like if you only have read in a restaurant on the weekend, you'll find that the pig stops craving bread during the week, most of the like one out of three people will have to give bread altogether. But mostly you'll find that it starts craving bread during the week. And, you know, I have to tell you that I'm really happy to live in a relatively thin and healthy body. I am infinitely happier that I can think about other things besides food all day long. Because I was always thinking, When is the next meal? When's the next pizza? How am I going to control myself? How am I going to make up for it? Do I go to the gym for three hours tomorrow? How am I gonna hide the evidence? It's just it was a nightmare. All the obsessing about it was a nightmare. And if I just knew that I could start with one simple rule and I didn't have to go through all this deep soul searching to to fix this. I think my life would have been a lot better. Sometimes I think if I had a, I had a time machine, I can go back and mute myself when I was nine years old. What would I say? I'd say Glenn, step away from the Pop Tarts just step away from the puck.

Philip Pape:

And at the same time, though, right, like if we hadn't gone through that experience, you wouldn't have actually learned what you have. Now we know that but it's fun to hypothesize. So the takeaway there is it's a lot simpler than we might make it out to be. Maybe we there scapegoats we use to try to link this whole thing to something more complex regarding emotion psychology. which is, which is good that we that we don't have to do that, especially someone like me who doesn't have a background, and then I just want to help people, you know, succeed in life and get the results they want to get. So it's very helpful. Before we get to the last question, is there anything you wish I would have asked you? And if so, what's your answer?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Okay, you did a really good job. I wish you would have asked me what do you think about people who are frightened that setting up these rules will restrict their freedom. And what I would have said is there were two famous quotes, one from Jim Rohn, that said, a life of discipline is better than a life of regret. There was some Peter McWilliams, who said, you can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want. And so to really get what you want, you really do need discipline. And I think about discipline is creating freedom. I think that it's only because of the discipline of the engineers have put my car together, that I can turn my wheel further degrees to the right, and the wheels actually turn 30 degrees to the right. And I can drive all over the state if they want to, oh, they're not in Florida this week because of the hurricane. But, but. Or I wanted to be a jazz pianist when I was younger. And it was only because of the discipline of knowing the scales and practicing the skills that I was ever able to express my soul in an improvised way. Right. Discipline creates freedom, it doesn't restrict your freedom. So that's what I'd say about that.

Philip Pape:

Wonderful. I totally agree with that as an engineer, too, and you're throwing in an engineering analogy, I can totally appreciate that. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So all right, final question. Where can listeners get a free copy of your book that we've been talking about the fantastic book Never binge again? And where can they learn more about you?

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

Both the same place that never binge again.com Easy enough. If you click on the big red button, I'll give you three things. One is a free copy of the book and Kindle ebook or PDF format. If you want the audible or the paperback there is a charge, reasonable charge, there's a charge. When you do it, though, when you sign up for that reader bonus list to get the free copy, you will also get several other things. One of which is a set of recordings that shows how this crazy psychologist coaches people through feeling hopeless and powerless and confused and despairing to feeling excited and optimistic and confident that they can do this in just one session. So recorded a whole bunch of that this is all free. And that's just so that you don't think I'm too crazy. And why does Philip have a psychologist with a pig inside him on the coffee. And then you'll also get a set of food plant starter templates. Personally, I'm a whole foods plant based person, but we work with people across all dietary philosophies. We have a lot of keto people, we've got point counters, calorie counters, macrobiotic vegan carnivores. And we thought through a set of starter templates you could use, you need to customize them and own them for themselves. These are not diets. I'm not a medical professional. I don't have a nutritionist license or dietitians license. And more importantly, we found that to overcome over eating, you really have to make your own rules. But yeah, three things that never binge again.com click the big red button, including a free copy of the book.

Philip Pape:

Wonderful. I will make sure those links are in the show notes. I've already been a recipient of the resources myself and I love the regular emails that come in too with clips that are that I think are super helpful to people. So Dr. Glen Livingston, this has been enlightening. It's also been very educational to me and the listeners, I'm sure. I really appreciate you coming on the show and having this conversation.

Dr. Glenn Livingston:

I really enjoyed it. Phil, thanks for having me on.

Philip Pape:

Thanks for listening to the show. Before you go, I have a quick favorite ask. If you enjoy the podcast, let me know by leaving a five star review in Apple podcasts and telling others about the show. Thanks again for joining me Philip Pape in this episode of Wits & Weights. I'll see you next time and stay strong.

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