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Wes: Welcome to episode two of Healthy Mind Fit Body podcast. This is Wes Bertrand and I’m doing the show by myself this week. Kevin will definitely be on for episode three. As you might already know by listening to the bonus audio or the first podcast, I am providing some of the psychological insights for the Healthy Mind Fit Body equation.
And the purpose of this podcast is to expand on the three pillars that we outlined in the bonus audio. And in case you missed that, just go to the website and opt in to get that and the free newsletter and updates that we have for the show. But just a brief sketch – the three pillars consist of having the right nutritional knowledge, and having the insights into yourself; so having the self-knowledge, and the third pillar would be the motivation which is the emotional component to getting to your optimal weight and living a healthy life in the process.
And of course these three pillars are really expanded on in our book that we have, the title of which is Healthy Mind Fit Body – How the Mind Body Connection Can Help You Achieve Your Perfect Weight, and you can find a link to that on our website also. And by weight we mean the ideal body fat percentage for yourself to be healthy and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
So I thought for this podcast we could go back to childhood and explore how it is that most Americans are really leading unhealthy lives in terms of their nutrition and how they deal with themselves. And I’ve spent a lot of time over the years looking the history of psychology, the history of philosophy, and the history of politics and so forth and I’ve written a couple of books on liberty, personal freedom and political freedom and so forth.
So I’m pretty keen on these issues and the ideas that cause the world to not be so free. And what we experience during childhood is kind of a precursor to what we experience as adults in terms of our lack of freedom and the lack of self-responsibility that people, especially in politics, play in society.
So here in San Diego we’re exploring creating a school that is based on personal freedom in an educational environment. And the model we’re looking at is called the Sudbury Valley School and I’ve been reading this book called The Sudbury Valley School Experience and it gets its name from the first school created back in the ‘70’s I believe and it has continued to present day.
And there are a number of schools, dozens in fact throughout the United States that implement these principles which are basically radical in the sense that they deviate from the status quo of the traditional model of how kids are supposed to learn is to listen to a teacher and do what is required of them to take a course and get the passing grade and move on to the next class.
And it’s very regimented and it actually comes from the Prussian model way back when in Germany, and it was designed to train people to either be good soldiers or good factory workers, not to be created high self-esteeming, independent, assertive, confident, and courageous people but rather obedient followers. So when kids are encouraged to not make their own choices, and not be responsible, and to follow an authority figure that tells them what to do, we can misplace our ability to set our own course and to take on challenges in our life with an effective mindset or efficacious perspective to feel that we’re able to cope with the challenges presented to us.
Whether it’s the kind of life we pursue, the career, the job, or the kinds of food that we eat and how that’s reflected in our self-concept and our self-image and so forth. So what I’d like to do is read a section in this book, it’s from an essay within it titled “Learning to Trust Oneself” by Allen White. And I’m not going to read the whole thing, but just the parts that I thought were really pertinent to the Healthy Mind Fit Body perspective.
And of course I’ll have some comments at the end to kind of wrap things up here. So Allen White wrote, “The accomplishments of young children up to the age of five are remarkable and have been acknowledged by many before me. They learn to sit up, to crawl, to stand up, to walk, to gain command of spoken language, even several languages, among other things. And since almost all babies accomplish these enormously difficult tasks, we are not as odd by our accomplishments as we should be.
Rather than recognizing how successful they have been at teaching themselves tasks that would be very difficult for any adult, we’ve gotten the idea that when they are four or five, we can now take over their education and really teach them all the ‘important’ things that they will need to know to be a successful and productive adult.”
And to skip ahead here he wrote, “Perhaps the most important disservice adults make in attempting to help children learn is to try to substitute the adults knowledge for the child’s own feedback system which was so successful in the earliest years. It takes away self-reliance and replaces it with ‘expert’ opinion. The child often becomes passive, confused; even angry.
From earliest infancy, children develop their own criteria about what works and what does not. They constantly test new input against the feedback provided by their nervous system in order to correct and transform their criteria until they feel they have things right, at least for a time at their particular stage of development. For example their use of language in a family setting may need to be transformed when they try to communicate to others as their circle of contacts expands into that larger community.
And the feedback they receive as the circle expands helps them transform the language. Take something as basic as eating, even the youngest of babies know when they are hungry and will drink their mother’s milk until they have satisfied their hunger. In experiments conducted over forty years ago,” and actually it’s about fifty-five given the printing of this book in 1992, “to find out what kind of diet young toddlers would choose for themselves, a smorgasbord of dishes was provided. This research concluded that although children would often eat bizarre meals at any one occasion.
Over a month’s time their food intake was well balanced. An adult population that is grossly overweight that has to resort to bypass surgery to try to compensate for clogged arteries later in life, a population where heart attacks are one of the leading causes of early death and where mobility is seriously curtailed by deteriorating muscles is hardly in a position to substitute their knowledge of what is good for anyone to eat or how to care for oneself.
Even for that minority of parents who are health conscious, it is a mistake to rob children of the ability to develop their own criteria for good eating and caring for themselves. Normal healthy children are not self destructive, they do not walk over cliffs or expose themselves to known danger. Now it is true that they may in their inexperience expose themselves to an unknown danger and we cannot let them experiment by eating poison or walking out in front of an oncoming car.
But it is the rule and not the exception that should be followed. We should allow children to develop their own criteria for what is right for them whenever possible. Like many of my contemporaries, I have been struggling with an overeating problem over the years and I have become increasingly aware of the roots of my dilemma. I am tempted to eat when I am anxious or when I am restless.
I feel compelled to finish whatever is served, I also feel starved when my customary time of eating approaches. I have had a sense for some time now that all of these feelings about food are only partly related to any real need for nourishment, I also know that people can fast for days or even weeks without losing energy or feeling starved. It is only recently that I’ve begun to focus in on the problem.
I began by fasting for three days paying particular attention to my feelings of hunger and how my body was responding. Once I had made up my mind that I was going to start a fast, I did not feel particularly hungry at meal times. So I think that like Pavlov’s dogs, I have been conditioned to eat at certain hours of the day. Parents tell us that eating at scheduled times is for our own good but it turns out it is for their convenience.
The one who has to prepare food should be considered but it should be stated that way and not passed off as something that is good for the child. When people we trust and depend on deceive us, it teaches us to discredit the messages we are receiving from our nervous system. Now that I am paying careful attention to when I am hungry, I am finding out that I am much more relaxed, eat more slowly, I am eating much less, and I am not eating just because I am anxious or nervous.”
So then he goes on to explain his life on the farm and how they have these pets, domesticated animals, that they raised and then slaughtered for food and it was pretty traumatizing for him and he subsequently became a vegetarian, and he made a statement here that I take issue with. He says, “Moreover there were many warnings coming from the medical profession about adverse side effects that came from eating meat. I am now a vegetarian by choice and have been for the past twenty years.
I find that I am perfectly healthy. I have plenty of energy and I’ve lost the taste for meat and I do not need to live with the idea that I am taking the lives of animals for my own use.” And then he reports on the nature of experts and so forth, and how they can lead you astray and give you the wrong information. So there are lots of interesting ideas in this little section.
And I think it’s really important to focus on what it was like when you were a kid and how your parents treated food, how they dealt with food, what kinds of foods they ate, what kind of foods they gave to you. They purchased from the grocery store, stocked their fridge with, stocked the shelves with – I remember when I was a kid, I would eat Oreo cookies and milk; that was one of my favorites as well as toast, buttered toast was another thing.
And of course those things were not really nutritious for me, so to say that children naturally know what’s good for them and they find that healthy balance is not correct either because one of those three pillars that we all have to learn is nutritional information, nutritional knowledge is key. And there’s lots of tips that Kevin and I provided in the book Healthy Mind Fit Body to inform you about what is the ideal way to be eating things.
What types of foods do we want to be consuming, what is going to be the best for us in the long term to extend our longevity and give us plenty of energy and so forth? And neither Kevin nor I agree with the vegetarian diet, it’s very hard to get adequate protein when you’re on that diet and a lot of vegetarians really skimp on fat consumption too.
So you’re depriving your body of two major macronutrients that are essential. You can actually live without carbohydrates, but you cannot live without protein and fat. So however you feel about the killing of animals to sustain yourself, you could always become a ovo lacto vegetarian I suppose where you could eat eggs, and cheese, and products of animals but not actually the animals themselves.
So there will be no animals harmed in the eating of those foods. But the important thing is to have that nutritional knowledge and to impart that to your kids in a way that is still respecting their own choices. So when you were a child, did your parents treat your food choices with respect? Did they force you to eat foods, did they make you stay at the table until you finished your plate? Did they refrain from providing dessert unless you ate certain things you didn’t like? Did they send you to your room without food if you did something badly? I mean all these forms of punishment are not really treating kids with respect.
And it’s important to realize how those messages get integrated in our mind or subconscious mind in relation to how we are treating ourselves today. So if you’re overweight, if you have excess body fat, one – you need to know how to lose that body fat and that is outlined in our book. But basically in a nutshell it means that eating more fat and less carbohydrates because the insulin secretion from the carbohydrate consumption is likely keeping all those extra fat pounds on you.
And by lessening that insulin creation by lightening up on the carbs and increasing your fat intake, you’re going to unlock that ability to burn off that fat. And you don’t have to actually exercise like a mad person to achieve your ideal weight, but exercise is obviously healthy. It’s just not the key component to losing that excess body fat, so having that nutritional information is important but also the self-knowledge.
How did these messages get sent to you when you were a kid? How did your parents relate to you? How are they still relating to you in fact when you go to family dinners and so forth about the types of foods to eat? Because it’s really important to get in touch with your subconscious and that leads to motivation. The emotional perspective that you have in relation to the food that you’re eating or the food that you’re not eating is critical too.
So to get in touch with that emotional perspective entails delving into your subconscious mind and in the back of the book we actually have a seven-day sentence completion program. And essentially sentence completion exercises or sentence stems are a way to really effectively and efficiently get at your subconscious premises and help you understand what is motivating you, why you could be at war with yourself, why are you doing one thing and thinking another, or believing in one way but acting and doing the opposite.
So it’s all about becoming more integrated with your subconscious mind and by doing these sentence completion exercises, you can really get to know that deeper level of self. And I have actually a couple of days in there that I structured to delve into your child’s self which is really, really important because again, these ideas of how to treat ourselves and the images that we have of ourselves, and the images that we want of ourselves, how to align those two things in a way that is wholesome rather than be conflicted about the image that we have of our own body and the image that we’d like to have and how to attain that, or our frustrations about not being able to attain that.
So it’s all really important psychological information, and those other pillars of self-knowledge and motivation kind of work together to help facilitate the acquisition of the nutritional knowledge, or the implementation of what you know about nutrition because so many people in America do not have the right nutritional information. And I was going through the list of various podcasts today that are offering ways for people to lose weight. I mean there’s dozens and dozens of podcasts out there to help people lose weight and many of them are based on the calorie theory of weight loss and the exercise theory, and we explore some of that in the first podcast. So I encourage you to go back and listen to that one.
But we’ll be delving into more of these issues in a later podcast and if you have any questions or comments about this one, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can email Kevin at Kevin@healthymindfitbody.com. And if you go to the homepage you can follow us on Twitter, we just got that going on our website. And of course you can subscribe through iTunes, and if you go to iTunes you can also write a review of the show.
So anyway, we’re going to keep these podcasts about 15 minutes in length, short and sweet so you can definitely fit them in your schedule through the week. And we look forward to talking with you on the next one. Take care and have a good week!