Huguette can remember when she was the “pretty” girl and had what seemed like the perfect body. Still, she sought approval from others and when she was hurt and betrayed in some of her relationships, it was hard to bounce back from. She started binge eating to cope and slowly started to put the weight on. Now in her mid-20s, she is done with hating her weight, hating her body, and feeling controlled by binge eating. Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helps Huguette truly own where she is in her journey and just how far she has already come. They dive into her story with food, her body, and her relationships in life. Huguette makes a new commitment to herself and to her body that will positively impact both her and her clients as she pushes forward.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everybody, I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here we are in the “Psychology of Eating” podcast, and I’m speaking today with Huguette. Welcome!
Huguette: Thank you!
Marc: I am so glad we’re here, and let me just take a minute and explain to people who are new to the podcast how this works. So, we just met moments ago, and we’re going to have a one-time session together and just see if we can move the needle and make some good things happen.
So, if you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this session, what would that look like for you?
Huguette: I would say help me get the breakthrough in my life, career-wise, personal-wise. And I think that’s the most important thing for me now.
Marc: Breakthroughs—so if it was a personal breakthrough, and if it was around your relationship with food and body, what would that look like for you?
Huguette: Finish with the binge eating and get the weight lost that I’ve gained through the years because of my binge eating. I had a very bad relationship with food. I began binge eating two years ago and gained around 20 kilos.
So, I’ve been suffering with binge eating, hating self, a bad relationship with food, dieting, chronic dieting. So, I would say that for the personal level, I would love myself more. I want to love myself more; [it’s] the thing that I’ve never had. So, I think that’s it on the personal level.
Marc: Yeah, well that’s a nice, big wish. I like it. Where are you these days with binge eating? How often?
Huguette: I have decreased my binge eating since I started the course. For the people that don’t know, I took the course with Marc David—the 8-month program. It’s helped me a lot. It changed a lot of my beliefs. My binge eating decreased. I stopped dieting. I’m still at the same weight, I think, but the binge eating episodes decreased. I’m more aware; I’m less checked out. I’m trying to manage my binge eating, to decrease it, and to be then more calm. But if I want to compare them [the episodes] to one year or three years ago, I think it’s a huge decrease. A huge decrease. I used to binge eat every single day; now it comes like once per week, twice per week, maximum.
Marc: Ok, once or twice per week. Does it happen at a certain time of day or a certain day?
Huguette: When I’m super stressed.
Marc: So, if you’re super stressed. What are some of the things that might get you super stressed?
Huguette: Having toxic nutritional beliefs about myself. Talking badly to myself. Stressing about my career—that I’m planning to open my business within this field. I left my work a year ago to start this program, so I’ve been at home for a year. I’ve found that I’ve lost my motivation to wake up. I have nothing to do, although I have to study for the program. But I felt like I had more free time, so managing my time was stressful. Not having a job, not being able to get my money, not being able to prove myself was a bit of a stress.
So, within this year, there were lots of advantages but also lots of disadvantages in my personal life. I thought I left my job to focus on myself, to try to lose the weight. I thought that by leaving my job I would be more able to do the diet and the sports. I would have more free time. And it ended up being the opposite of what I had thought it would be. Because as you’ve always taught us, it’s not the problem with the food or the body, it’s something that is way deeper than that. And for me, it was.
Marc: So, Huguette, how old are you now?
Huguette: I’m 24.
Marc: Twenty-four. Ok. And when was the first time you remember saying, “I don’t like my body, here I am binge eating.” Like, when
did that start for you?
Huguette: The binge eating started like three years ago, but I started hating my body when I was 16. I was, if you want, underweight. I’m tall, so everyone used to tell me, “You’re a supermodel. You’re very nice. Your shape is very nice.” I’ve never loved myself, and I’m a huge giver [of myself] for people. I love my friends, my family. I give for them and help them more than I do for myself.
So, when I was 16, I got my period. I had some hormonal issues; I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. And I got hurt from my boyfriend—my ex-boyfriend—and my best friend, so I gained a lot of weight back then. And I think that I started binge eating, and it wasn’t only the hormonal problem.
And since then, I’ve been struggling with my body, always remembering and going back to the 16-year-old body that I wanted. I’ve never loved or accepted the fact that I gained all that weight. I always asked God, “Why did I gain all that weight?” when I had had the best body. I used to dress up however I wanted. I didn’t have problems going and picking sizes for my clothes.
And then, I got better. I did the breast reduction—it helped me a lot. I found that I was lighter, so I started dieting. I lost some weight, but I wasn’t ever happy with myself, because I was always looking back to the 16-year-old body that I had.
And then, three years ago, I always felt that I was less than other people. I wanted that body that the guys might [want]. I mean, for my boyfriend, I thought that my body was the problem. I always felt less than that. So, I was never satisfied with my body. I was never satisfied with myself. I have never loved myself enough, never treated myself well. I was always attacking myself, always asking God, and I felt like a victim.
But now, most of these things changed with the course that I’ve taken, but I’m still struggling a bit. I want to lose the weight, but I know that I’m not going to be able to go back. I used to compare myself a lot with people. “This girl has the perfect body, and I used to have the perfect body.” I will never have the perfect body. But I still need to lose some weight for my health. But I think that three years ago, when I had a boyfriend, it got worse. Because I used to feel that I was less than him, that I needed that body to be able to please him, to be able to make him happier, to be able to have him love me more.
But it’s not the body. I wasn’t my fully best version. I wasn’t loving myself, so he wouldn’t have loved me the way I am. I was always telling him that I was skinnier, I had the best body, I had a better body, I think I should get back to that. So, as you say, if we don’t love ourselves, other people won’t love us. We will reflect that bad thinking.
Marc: Mmm hmm.
Huguette: So, three years ago, my binge eating started. I was super stressed with my master’s [degree] and with these ideas. Fighting myself, dieting. I tried five dieticians, even though I was a nutritionist. I have a Bachelor’s in Nutrition.
So, I was more stressed because I was a dietician, yet I wasn’t able to heal myself. I wasn’t able to lose the weight. I thought that, as a dietician, I needed to have that perfect body to make people and to make clients come to me.
So, I started fighting myself more. I didn’t know why the “calories in, calories out” wasn’t working with me. I started doing sports with a person trainer. I’ve never loved sports, so I was obliging myself. I was dieting with low-fat diets. I tried some fad diets in 2014, and they never worked. Until this year, when I knew about the program—a year ago—I was dieting. But I stopped work, and I sat at home, so I gained back all the weight, like 10 kilos. And that’s it. I’m here now, talking to you.
Marc: You know, Huguette, I’m thinking how you’re actually, in my mind, in a really, really, really, really good place. And I mean that.
Huguette: I am. I am, yeah.
Marc: I really mean that. So, for your age, 24—it’s so important to remember, for boys, for girls, the 20s are--
Huguette: The hardest period I’ve ever had!
Marc: They really are hard! You know, it’s so strange. On the one hand, when you’re in your 20s, you’re not a teenager any more. So, there’s a little more responsibility. There’s a little bit more self-definition happening. And you could still be a young person, you still have your youth, you still can have fun, but at the same time, you’re starting to kind of figure out who I am.
So, it’s a hard transition time, especially because we’re forming who we are and what we really believe. And so many of the beliefs that take hold in our 20s stay with us for a while. So, it’s just an important time, and it’s usually a pretty rocky time—more so than I think the adult world remembers.
You know, once you pass your 20s, a lot of times you don’t even think about it. But because I work with people in their 20s so much, I see it. So, I’m just acknowledging that, for what you’ve been through, you’re in a really good place, because you have a great understanding. You have a good idea of where you want to go. You have a good idea of some of the things that are in your way.
Huguette: True that.
Marc: Yes. And so, really, the work for you is not necessarily discovering some new concept that’s going to change everything, or some epiphany that overnight is going to shift. What I think the work for you right now is just a little bit of work every day. Practicing the things that you’ve learned, and slowly and steadily including more self-love in the system. You know, what I’ve noticed is that there’s only really one way to love the body.
When people say, “I want to love my body more,” love happens in actions.
When somebody loves you—you could say, “Oh, my mother really loves me, my father really loves me, this person loves me”—in part you know it because of their actions. In part, you know it because of how they show up for you. In part, you know it because of the words they speak to you and how those words land for you. So, when somebody really loves you and says they love you, you could feel the truth in those words.
So, all I’m saying is, when it comes to self-love, it’s the same thing. It happens in actions. So, we often think, “Well, I’d love myself more if I lost weight or if I made more money.” So, we make it depend on something happening to us, on the outside. And, as you know, it’s a little different than that.
Huguette: It is.
Marc: Yeah, so, to me, you’re putting that into action, and it doesn’t change overnight. I wish it did!
Huguette: I wish it did, too!
Marc: Right? But at the same time, here’s the other interesting challenge for you personally, I think. My sense for you is that you’re a little, or maybe a lot, wiser beyond your years, so there’s a certain place where you’re probably smarter than most 24-year-olds around you. And you’re a little more worldly, and you see more clearly. That’s a wonderful thing.
Huguette: I was always mature, much more mature than my age. I had always dealt well with responsibility. I was always strong, but when I gained the weight, I felt like I was weak, very weak. I lost my strength. I need that empowerment back. I need to love myself more, as you said. It’s so true—I depend on others for my happiness, and I know that it’s…I know that when the self-love would come from within, it would be a sustainable thing. With my happiness, I had many ups and downs, and I know, after I took the course, that it’s because my mood used to change because I used to depend on people. And whenever I got hurt, I would fall back, because the happiness wasn’t coming from within me.
I was always depending on other people to make me laugh, and when something bad from them happened, I used to get down. It’s the two extremes. I know that this is not long-term happiness for a person, if they are not truly happy from within. It’s not easy, as you said. We can’t sleep and wake up like it never happened. It’s small steps. But when you see all these things I’ve gotten—I thought I had to give things up. It’s like I was playing poker, and I opened all my cards, and I said, “All in.” From the course, I had all the cards opened. From each module, I was noticing what was wrong with me. And it hit me that through these 24 years that I’ve lived, now I know all the things that I’ve been doing as mistakes or that I’ve been doing wrong.
And now for me, it’s the hardest time to move my career, to start changing all the things that I’ve been doing wrong, just to heal myself. And I think that God—I pray, I believe in God, I believe in faith—is the one that put me on this journey. If I didn’t gain the weight, if I didn’t know about the binge eating, I would have never searched online for binge eating and found out about Institute.
I would have never had this career. I know that this is a gift from him that he wants me to give to the world: to help people heal as much as I will hopefully be healing from what I’ve learned. So, it hit me that this is something big that I know I’ve been doing wrong, but now it’s the time for it to change.
So, I don’t know how we’re going to be able to change all these past 24 years, but I’m looking for another 24 years of happiness.
Marc: Yeah, well, I think it’s going to happen for you sooner than you think! It really will. And it’s going to be gradual, like most other things in life. We tend to move gradually, and there are these moments of explosion, sometimes. There are these moments where everything changes really quickly. You meet somebody new, you get a new job—so yeah, there are these events in life that really can kick us up. And when they come, they’re a special grace. We go, “Oh, wow! That really changed everything! Thank you!” But other than that, it’s every day, we wake up, and we do our work. And really, what it’s about is about staying awake every day.
So when you wake up, it’s about staying awake and noticing, and I see that you’re doing that. And before, you said something to the effect of, “I’ve been asking God, ‘Well, why did I gain this weight? Why did I gain this weight?’” And then you kind of answered the question. We’re often given challenges; and those challenges—though they’re not fun, and they’re not easy, and they’re work—hidden inside there’s always an opportunity for us to grow.
And in a lot of ways, this is teaching you that you’re more than a body, and we don’t just rely on the body.
Sure, we have to take care of this body, because we have only one, and it’s special, and that’s what we’re given; and it’s a privilege. I mean, think about it: all things considered, you’re young, you’re healthy, and you have all the energy that you need.
So, wow! The body’s been good to you. And here’s the place where God is asking me to learn through my journey with my body. Because you’re going to understand people in a whole different way, going through your own journey. You’re going to understand girls; you’re going to understand women; you’re going to understand men. You’re going to understand so much, because you’re observing people, but you’re also going through your own journey.
So, in a strange way, it’s the perfect setup. Let me ask you this question: After a binge, what happens for you? Where do you go in your mind? The binge is over. What happens?
Huguette: Before, I used to feel so much guilt, and I used to isolate myself and sleep at home and not want to go out. Now, I feel less of the guilt. I say, “It’s ok. I’ve binged—there’s a reason behind that. I hope it won’t happen again, and I will try to manage it better next time.”
I will try to be less stressed and anxious about food, less stressed about my weight loss. Most of my binging is emotional since I’ve stopped dieting and am eating better now. So I think the binging now is not because of the calorie deficiency or the nutrient deficiency, but it’s because of the emotions and the stress that I have. So, that’s why I think it’s decreased, because the part with the nutrition is ok. I’m eating more fat, more proteins. I’m trying not to focus as much on food, because I used to focus a lot on that.
Huguette: And trying to nourish myself. I’m trying to apply whatever I’ve learned from the course. But I tried them all at once, and I got stressed more. So, I’m trying now to take each one ahead so I can step-by-step get on with all of these and get to a better relationship with food, get to a better relationship with myself. Because, I don’t think it will happen [in a] day and night. It needs a little bit of time.
Marc: Yeah. Do you have people in your life that feel like support for you, that you can talk to about what you’ve learned and what you’re going through with your own body?
Huguette: I do talk to my parents, and some of my friends. But my parents, now they are like, “You’ve learned what you need to learn, so why aren’t you healing? Why didn’t you lose the weight?”
And I have a very similar character as my dad. We’re totally alike. He binges, and he’s obese. So, he knows that it hurts me to hear him telling me that I’ve gained weight, but now I think he’s stopped saying it because I got hurt. I’m always hurt when I hear people telling me, “You’ve gained weight.”
My mom is more responsive because we have different characters. I tell her, “You need to understand me. This is not a joke. I’ve got a disorder. I used to binge eat; that’s why I gained all the weight.” She tries to talk in a more beautiful way and a supportive way, but I know that in the back of her mind she wants to see me happier, healthier, losing the weight that I gained. So, they are not that fully supportive, because they don’t understand what we’ve learned.
Huguette: The same applies to my friends. Some of them used to binge. I have a friend who used to binge a lot. I think she’s lying to me. I think that she had an operation because she lost a huge [amount of] weight since last year. And she’s never admitted it, but each time we go out, she eats tiny, small pieces of food and she stops. I’m not stupid—she can’t fool me. I’m a dietician, and I know everything about this stuff.
So, if she wants to not say, I’m not here to oblige her to say that. So, I think she stopped binge eating. She’s happy, and she’s interesting to know all that because she wasn’t the same thing. I don’t have that much support, because people here don’t know that much.
But, I’m happy to have my friends. Some of my friends are skinny, and they fear food. I have one best friend—she is here to listen to me. She is very supportive. She is happy whenever I tell her something that she does wrong, so she’s always supportive.
But other than that, all of my countrymen here in Lebanon are obsessed with food, obsessed with diet, obsessed with doing sports. And the comments that they give each other are so bad. So, I’m fighting in a circle of bad ideas. I don’t blame them. If I didn’t get this or know about the course, I would have still believed the same old signs that I learned when I was in my bachelor years [studying] nutrition.
Marc: Yeah, so you have a fascinating challenge, because you are living in a culture and a country that might not have as much momentum around this kind of thing as we do here in the United States. There’s that piece. And because of that, in a strange way, you’re more, I want to say, isolated—alone—at least in terms of what you know. There are not going to be many people around you who can be a peer for you.
Huguette: True that.
Marc: So, that’s going to be an interesting part of your journey, and it has been. Because, what I’ve noticed is, when that happens for a person, one has to be accepting, in a strange way, that that’s your fate. Sometimes you’re part of the crowd. There are just some people that are part of the crowd. You’re not going to be part of the crowd. You can hang out with the crowd, but there’s likely always going to be this part of you that, because of your knowledge, because of the maturity for your age, because of what you’ve studied relative to what people around you know, is always going to be seeing different things.
Marc: And on the one hand, that can be very positive and exciting and helpful and interesting. It makes your life very fascinating, because you’re very unique in that way. And on the other hand, it could feel lonely. It could feel like, “I’m isolated,” and for that reason, it would make it easier when you’re stressed to want to turn to food. Because you don’t have a lot of other options in terms of relaxing and [turning] to people who could be such a great support system for you. Do you follow?
Huguette: Yeah, yeah.
Marc: So, I’m just acknowledging what I see on this end here, which is that you’re going to have it a little different than most of your peers. And as long as you can keep being good with that and accepting that this is part of your journey and part of your faith and that it’s going to help you grow as a person—it’s going to be part of your special gift— it’ll help you move through all this just a little bit easier I think.
Huguette: Now that I’m building my business, everyone asks me, “So you’re getting the scale, you’re getting the automatic machine for the body composition?” When I say no they’re like, “Oh and how will you weigh patients? And how will you be able to know if they lost weight? And how would you treat patients?” It’s like, I treat people in a very different way. I don’t care about the number. You won’t succeed. It’s not a job. I told them, “I’m not a typical dietician. I did something that is the psychology of eating. I work more on the psyche. I will help people reach their weight loss. But I don’t care at the first time about the weight loss.”
I know that once I launch my business, the dieticians here in my country will be amazed by what I do. They might fight me, because our knowledge is different than theirs. All the dieticians here in Lebanon give low-fat diets. We have the cheese, the Lebanese yogurt—all of them they give as low-fat.
So, when I’m going to go out and say, “Don’t eat low-fat stuff; try going organic; try switching to more fat in the food,” I think they would not be that happy with the knowledge that I’ll be giving. But I hope that it will work. I hope that I will have the courage to educate ordinary people so they can understand what we’ve been going through, and we’ll be able to heal them from this diet culture and diet consciousness.
Marc: Yeah! It’s a disease of the mind, and it becomes a disease of the body. And you see how easy it is for people to get gripped by this.
Huguette: I was obsessed with the scale. I used to weigh myself three times a day. I used to weigh myself every single day. Well now I’ve stopped. I don’t care about the weight. I know that I’ve gained the weight. I don’t know how much now. It’s been two months; I’ve never weighed myself. I know that if I’m going to see a huge number, I won’t be happy, and that’s why I won’t go on the scale. I know it would do nothing for me.
Huguette: So, I want to convince people, because I know how horrible it is. When I used to gain one pound, I used to go crazy, cry, binge more, sleep, and isolate myself from people. So, I know that there’s a number that you need to lose. Yes, maybe you gained 20 kilos. Maybe I did, but I don’t know if I’m going to lose them. I want to, but life is uncertain, as you say.
So, I just want to be able to convince people about that. I will be hopefully able to help them with their journey and with their weight loss—with their health issues, with their food issues. But as well, it’s like I’m fighting alone in this country when I open my business, hopefully soon.
Marc: So, when do you think you will open your business? Do you have a date in mind?
Huguette: Yeah, in maximum one month. I already have the location, I’m just working on the interior design and getting the furniture and hopefully I’ll be open in 2 or 3 weeks, maximum one month.
Marc: So that’s going to really change your schedule. It’s going to fill you up more. But it’s going to give you more momentum, because you also mentioned in the beginning of the conversation, that leaving your other life, you thought you would have more time and energy to take care of yourself.
Huguette: True that.
Marc: So, it sounds to me like having a little more structure and focus is going to just be good for you. Because, part of it is, you just need to be plugged in. You just need to be plugged in and start helping people. Here’s the other weird thing, which is the great thing: the more we help others in this realm, the more we’re helping ourselves.
Huguette: That’s what I was going to ask you.
Marc: It’s just shocking how it works like that, because we’re reinforcing what we know. We’re reinforcing what we believe. We’re reinforcing the messages that we’re giving to ourselves, and we’re supporting each other.
So, it’s not just me going through this, it’s not just you going through this—we’re supporting each other. And that creates some momentum, and it makes it more real for you in your own personal life. And it also inspires us to just do a better job with self, you know?
We could use it to make ourselves go crazy: “Oh, my God, I have to have the perfect weight if I’m going to see clients!” No! I want to love my body if I’m going to see clients. I want to be taking care of myself. But you can take care of yourself and be all different kinds of weights.
So, what we’re doing is we’re letting go of a very specific number, and we’re just learning how to be people. We’re learning how to be good people. We’re learning how to discover, “What are my talents? Who am I? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to talk to? Who do I want to be in a relationship with?”
The next time you get into a relationship, I want it to be so clear that you’re loving yourself for who you are, and that’s the kind of man you want. You don’t want to exercise your brains out, lose 20 pounds, and then some guy says, “Oh, that’s who I love!” So, what happens when you gain three pounds?
Marc: What happens when you get pregnant? It’s all about you treating yourself in the way that you would want others to treat you. And, to me, I see you doing that. I see you practicing that, and you’re making steps, and you’re making strides. And it’s never going to happen fast enough, because you’re also the kind of person, I’m getting, that likes excellence.
And you like to see results. So, it’s like, “Ok, this should be working now.” And life is going to ask you to be patient. And I think you’re doing a great job. I really do! I think you’re doing a great job. And, again, for your age and where you are and what you’ve been through and the environment that you’re in, A+!
Huguette: Thank you! That’s amazing to hear. And as you said, yeah, when I was a dietician back then, I thought that I needed to lose the weight to be able to get clients back, so they can believe me. If I am not at that weight, they will just check my body and see that I don’t have that body, so I can’t convince them to do this diet.
When I started this program, I thought that I needed to get over the binge eating, I needed to lose all the weight back so people will believe me. If I can’t heal myself, how will I be able to heal them? But now, through all that you’ve said, I think that we teach what we need to learn. And I will hopefully be able to heal them and heal myself along the way with my journey.
Marc: Yeah. You know, for some reason, I just flashed on someone as we were talking. I flashed on Beyoncé, and I was thinking how Beyoncé is a big girl!
Huguette: I am a big girl.
Marc: Beyoncé’s a big girl, and she fully owns her body. She owns it. There’s nothing about her that says, “Oh, do you love me for who I am? Do I need to change for you?” It’s like, here she is. “This is me!” And you can’t do anything but go, “Wow!”
Marc: And you have that quality in you—the part of your womanhood where you just own who you are. There’s a part of you that really owns who you are. It’s pretty remarkable. And it’s learning how to apply that as well to your own physical form. So, no matter who you are: if you’re pregnant, you own it. If you have the 16-year-old body, you own it. If you have this body, you own it. Whatever it is, you own it—“This is me, take it or leave it.”
Marc: And, it’s having that ability to just inhabit who you are right now, exactly as it is.
I’ve been wanting to reflect back to you some of the things that I think you should be celebrating, because I know you push yourself hard, and I know you work hard.
But I also want you to be able to take a moment and pause and go, “Wow! So far, so good!” You’ve accomplished a lot in your own personal growth, in your own life, in your own maturity, in your profession so far. And you have a beautiful vision for where you want to go. All I’m saying is, that’s awesome! That’s absolutely awesome. For a young woman your age, it’s incredible, and you couldn’t be doing any better.
Huguette: Thank you!
Marc: Yeah, I really mean that.
Huguette: Thank you so much.
Marc: Yay! So, Huguette, we’re going to have the opportunity to have a follow-up session just a handful of months from now.
Marc: So, I’m looking forward to connecting and just sort of seeing what’s happening for you and where your business is at. I just want to leave you with reminding you to celebrate your success. And just remember to acknowledge, “Yeah, I’ve come far! There’s still a long way I would like to go—”
Marc: “—and I’ve come pretty far.”
Marc: Just reminding yourself a couple days a week.
Huguette: Will do.
Marc: Ok. Great job! I so appreciate you being so open and so real and so honest and so out there. And I hope every girl in their 20s watches this. I really mean that. Because I just think you’re such a great role model, and you’re going to understand people and women and girls so well. So, congratulations. I’m super proud of you!
Huguette: Thank you so much! I’m super happy that I got the chance to talk you and get all your feedback. I’m looking forward to our next session, and I hope with this podcast we can help the audience out there who’s going to listen to my story. And thank you so much for the course, for all that we’ve learned. There is amazing information. They are more than the worth of the money that we’ve paid for this course. So I’m very happy, and thank you so much for everything.
Marc: Oh, that’s so sweet, Huguette. You’re so welcome, and I want to thank everybody who tuned in. Once again, I’m Marc David on behalf of the “Psychology of Eating” podcast. Lots more to come, my friends. Take care.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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