How many decades have you struggled with food from the outside in?
Trying to follow diet trends like restricting calories, eating high fat, low carb, lots of meat, only plants.
The list of trends is as endless as the list of stories of how the trends didn’t work…mine included.
So, why not try a new approach to nourishing your body?
One that works from the inside out and is based on the relationship you have with your body.
Wouldn’t it be great if you loved yourself so much that the only thing you wanted to do was treat your body well?
In this episode, I’ll share my own experience with fighting my body to get it to be what I wanted it to be and how the shift to treating my body with love changed everything for me.
I’ll share my thoughts on the mind, body, food love triangle. What it means and how it can work to support you in feeling the way you want to feel.
MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center
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This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.
Hello, hello, welcome to another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. Thank you so much for downloading the show and listening today. I'm so glad you're here. And I have some really exciting news. I'm super excited about this announcement.
So in March, March 19, 20, and 21st, I am going to do my first ever BIG workshop, it is called: The Better Than Before Breast Cancer Workshop.
And I am so excited about it. This has been on my mind for a long time doing something some kind of event where I could reach a large group of women. I've done that before through webinars. But for me, the missing piece in a webinar is I don't get to see you. And so I've designed this workshop so that we will be together for one hour a day, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8 am.
And I will teach and coach on specific areas that are really big pain points that are common to a lot of us survivors and thrivers. And I'll teach and coach for a little while and then we have an opportunity to be coached live on the workshop, if you want to just raise your hand, I'll bring someone up on the camera, we'll coach through whatever your issue is, you can ask questions through the Q&A box, and we can interact that way. And you can just sit back and watch and learn from seeing other people be coached as well.
So I'm very excited because I get to meet more of you, I get to see your beautiful face. And I get to actually talk you through and coach you through some of the thoughts that are maybe bringing suffering or resulting in less than the optimal thing you want them to result in your life. So super excited about this, please check out the information on this workshop, you can find it at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/btb (B as in boy, t as in Tom, B as in boy) better than before. Okay? thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/btb and you'll get all the details there. I hope to see you on March 19. Super excited about this.
So today, I want to dig into this very special love triangle that we all have, we all get caught up in the mind, body, food love triangle.
So let me give a little history about this first, you know, when I had my first diagnosis, and was in treatment, both in treatment and out of treatment, I felt very strongly and I know I've heard this from so many women, right, we get a diagnosis, and it's very, very frightening. And we turn to what can we do to discipline ourselves to eat better, to clean up our diet.
And in that, oftentimes, there's a lot of fear. And oftentimes there's a lot of shame or guilt thinking that perhaps you brought this on yourself, which is not the case at all.
And if you think that please come to the workshop, because I'd love to coach you through that.
But going back to that time. I remember, after getting out of treatment, I was so focused on being disciplined. I had been put into menopause by chemotherapy. I was suffering through all the things I know y'all know, we suffer through, you know, the hot flashes that where did this belly come from what is happening here. And so I was very focused on very, very clean eating. I heard he was you know, I have a pretty good diet.
But I was really, really disciplined and I wasn't getting the results that I wanted. I was very disappointed. I was angry. I was frustrated. And I was just being really hard on myself, really hard on my body.
And I know you know what I'm talking about? Because I know a lot of you do that. Even if you're in fantastic shape. You're hard on your body, you judge it worry about it. You focus on what's safe to eat, what's not safe, what's safe to put on it, in it, around it all of these things, right?
So I want to talk about this mind, body, food love triangle because I have had some, I don't know challenges. I'm working on this right now. It's something that for the last couple of months has really been front and center for me, and I've been paying a lot of attention to it. And in one specific area that I'll go into for you.
So I think that part of this also is that you know, at first, and I know for me after my first diagnosis, we're scared, right? So we want to do all the right things. And we tell ourselves that saying we do all the right things is a great cover for not looking at the things you're not actually doing. And not acknowledging the things you are doing that may not be serving and supporting you.
And here's what I mean by that.
When I say I do all the right things, that means to me, I eat a really healthy diet, I exercise regularly. But then there's the fact that I'll have a cocktail whenever I want it, right? Or now, and then I'll have a dessert when I want it. And not saying that moderation doesn't play into this, and I'll touch on that in a minute. But here's what I mean, when I'm saying I do all the right things, and I don't get the results that I want from my body meaning still achy joints, or still more body fat that I want to have or not sleeping well, then what happens is, we start to get frustrated with our own body. And we start to send resentment and judgment and animosity really towards ourselves. Because we say I did all the right things. And none of this is working.
And then sometimes we're really not doing any of the things. But we're still living in a lot of fear of a cancer recurrence or of poor outcomes from cancer treatment. I was talking with a woman just the other day. And she was just really having a hard time with body aches and pains, and joint aches and pains, arthritis type aches and pains. And my question to her was, tell me what you're doing right now to support yourself through your lifestyle, everything that you're doing to help support yourself to get out of pain and to feel better.
And she just kind of looked at me like, what does that mean?
And I said, Are you following an anti-inflammatory diet? Are you avoiding alcohol, sugar, soda, things of that nature? Processed food?
No. Are you getting in regular activity? Are you walking? No, I don't do any of those things.
So sometimes when we're very focused on the problem and the pain, we overlook the fact that we're not taking action, we can support our body and treat it with love and kindness, and make the lifestyle changes that actually are showing some love to our body. Right?
And I started to realize that, and what it actually meant when I went through this really difficult and years-long struggle with trying to force my body into being what I wanted it to be, and it just wasn't having it. It just wasn't listening. It wasn't doing it, it wasn't having it. And that resulted in me feeling worse and worse and worse until I finally realized that what it actually meant to love my body and to have gratitude for it had nothing to do with the way my body looked.
As I reevaluated my diet, my exercise my whole lifestyle after the diagnosis of metastatic disease, I really tried to take a look at where I would justify to myself putting something in my body, even if it was just now and then if it was in moderation. And that's another excuse or justification. It's in moderation. I don't do this all the time. Or I deserve it. You know, look at how I'm feeling. Look at everything else I've given up. I deserve this. And I wanted to really get an understanding of where those areas were in my life. And I offer this to you. Because when we can look at this relationship that's a triangle that I'm going to go more into, then we can approach it from a perspective of loving ourselves and taking care of our bodies and not from a perspective of discipline or deprivation, which never works, never works.
Who wants to be deprived? Nobody.
So I know I've talked about this on the show before. I love craft cocktails. I love Top Chef restaurants, I enjoy the whole food scene. And for my husband and I if I can pick any night out on the town, do anything at all. That's what it would be to go to a lovely dinner with a fantastic mixologist craft cocktail type of menu, and it would be so great. And I want to just to say here that's not for the experience of getting drunk. Like I actually do not like the feeling of being drunk. And so one, two drinks, I'm done because I don't want to feel bad. I don't want it to interrupt my workout the next morning, all that kind of stuff.
But after I got this diagnosis, I started to really examine that and examine this relationship with alcohol. And what I started to realize especially when it came to when we would go out to eat or if I would have a drink or a cocktail, and I start thinking, why am I? Why am I putting this alcohol in my body? Like, how is this serving me? And for you, it may be alcohol, it may be sugar, it may be bread and maybe biscuits, who knows we all have our thing, right?
But I would notice when I have alcohol, it doesn't make me feel good. I don't feel good. I feel this. Funk this, haze about it. And it's not serving me.
So why do I order a drink when I go out? What is that about?
And I one of the things that I realized was, you know, in the very beginning of even after my first diagnosis, I would not do that, because there was still a lot of fear there. Right? Then as you get further and further away from treatment, oftentimes, you're doing great, right? You go in and you have your scans and you do your bloodwork, and you have your check, checkups. And everything is looking good. And so your like, mmm...I could have a little something, something now. And then you have a little something something and you think, well, nothing really bad happened so I guess I could do that again.
And we start to slide back into the quote, unquote, what we think of as "normalcy." Even if some of the habits and that normalcy aren't supporting the health of our body. And for me, and I want to just emphasize this, that as breast cancer survivors, we've already had that disease manifest in our body.
Now, there's a great chance that it will happen one time, and you'll go through treatment, and you will go years and years and decades and the rest of your life without ever having to re-experience that. But there's also the chance that a reoccurrence will happen for some people. And so the question is, where's your comfort zone? How do you feel about what is happening in the things you have control over, the things you put into your body? Right? We have control over other things in our environment stuff. But today, we're just focusing on what we put in our bodies.
So for me, I got this diagnosis of metastatic disease. And I just went, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, let me reevaluate everything here. Right.
And I know you often do that after you get out of treatment for breast cancer and like, what is safe? What can I eat? What do I have to avoid? And we can be really hard on ourselves and really disciplined or we can tell ourselves and beat ourselves up because we keep eating things we say, don't serve us, and then tell ourselves, we're bad for having done it. And neither, either way, it's not good.
So I was diagnosed in October. And when my family was getting together for Christmas, I hadn't had alcohol, I completely, I went completely plant-based for the first couple of months. I had no dairy, no gluten, no alcohol, no meat. And then and I was doing great. And every week my tumor markers dropping, dropping, dropping, feeling better going through radiation, Christmas comes up. And one of my sisters lives in Santa Barbara in California. And there is a brewery there that makes an incredible Russian stout that I love!
And I said to her, hey, you know, what, can you see if that brewery has some of those on hand and bring some of that down for Christmas? So I told myself, I'm it's planned, it's okay, I'm gonna have a little bit of this delicious, dark beer that I absolutely love. And I did, I had a glass of it. It was delicious. And I gotta say, there was a little bit of fear, like an anticipation inside of me of Oh shit, what if next week, I get my bloodwork back and my tumor levels have gone up because I had this beer.
Well, they did it. They went down more and I was like, Okay, all right. Well, the alcohol didn't seem to affect it. And so then in January, one of my sister in law, it was her birthday. And there's an amazing Italian restaurant by my house. And on Wednesday nights, you get half off bottles of wine with every entree, and it's nice wine too. So we went there, we ordered a beautiful bottle of Justin cab and we shared a bottle of wine. And I thought, Oh, God, Oh, geez, what if I add pasta and wine? What if, you know the tumor markers go up on Monday, but they didn't. They went down again. And then I thought, Okay, well, it be that bad, right? And so then-husband says to me one night, Hey, can I make you a cocktail? And I thought about on-site, you know, I'm not hungry. I'm not going out. It's not like we're doing a special dinner or anything together. We're just kind of hanging out. We're gonna watch TV tonight.
And I debated over you know, why would I want to put alcohol in me right now?
So I said, No, no, I don't think so. And he kind of gave me this, you know, sad puppy-eyed look because I could tell he wanted to have a drink and he didn't want to sit down on the patio by the fire pit and drink alone. And so I said **sigh... All right. All right. I'll have one with you. And he's like, Oh, okay. So excited because that's actually something he loves to do is make special cocktails for me. That was just a thing. He's always done.
So anyway, I'm having this drink and as I'm having a drink, I'm really not enjoying it that much. Because I'm thinking, I don't really want to be putting this in me, why am I doing this.
So this is what led to several week-long examination investigations into my relationship with food and alcohol because I want to make sure that my daily focus is doing everything I can to support the healing of my body. And if I'm not doing that, then I have to ask myself why I want to be very, very intentional about what I do. And that's how I came up with this idea of this mind, body, food club triangle.
And let me explain to you how I look at it. And maybe it will help you with something in your life and your body.
But the first part of that love triangle is the relationship between your body and food and drink.
And the second part is the relationship with your thoughts about your body.
And then the third part of that triangle is a relationship with your thoughts about your food and drink.
So Mind, Body, food. Not good, bad, cheat, moderate?
Because I feel like those are all very external concepts. Right? I did this, it was bad. I did that it was good. I cheated. But really, who are you cheating? And who says it's bad? And where does that judgment come from? Those are very external concepts, that people say you should eat this, you should need that. But it doesn't connect you to what's really happening in your mind when you make that choice in your body as a result of you making that choice, and what you're really thinking about the food or the drink when you make that choice.
And I think it's really important that when we're learning to love our body, and practice self-compassion, that we take our thoughts to that place where the primary idea is how we are treating ourselves, what are we doing? How are we treating our own body, which is the whole point, we're here, right?
We can't do this life without our bodies.
We don't want our bodies to feel ill or bad or be in pain. And then also, as humans, we really don't like restricting ourselves. So when we can approach our lifestyle choices from this perspective of loving and supporting our bodies, then that gives us totally different energy and opens up more possibilities and opportunities for thought about how we're treating ourselves. And for understanding and realization without judgment and condemnation, and shame and guilt, because that has no role in learning to love your body, and experiencing positive emotions in optimal health, right?
We don't beat ourselves up to feel better. Does that make sense?
So let's touch on each of them, you know, I was always horrible in math. So I don't remember what you call the sides of a triangle. But let's touch on each of the sides of the triangle, in this mind, body, food, love triangle.
Somebody's probably gonna send me an email and tell me what those are called, which is welcome. That's great.
So the first part of that love triangle? Is the relationship between food and your body? How does food make your body feel? Do you notice it? Do you pay attention to it?
In my sugar challenge that we always have so much fun doing. It's really based on this mindful approach to food. It's not about counting calories or looking at how many grams of sugar are in anything, but it's when you approach any kind of food. And you thinking about why are you putting that in your body? How does it serve your body? How does that food cause your body to feel once you put it inside of you? And do you have an awareness of it? Is the relationship between food and your body something that you're aware of that's on your mind, and that's a priority for you? Do you stop and realize, wow, this food is going to become a part of me when I'm preparing a meal or dinner, or chopping up a salad, or whatever, and I'm taking in colors and fragrances and I'm thinking this is about to become a part of me. And that's a part of a mindful eating practice to really connect into that food as you're preparing it. But thinking about it coming in and actually being the material that your cells regenerate off of.
And so examining that relationship between food in your body, how food causes your body to feel, if your body responds well to certain foods or not well to other foods, and how you handle that. How aware are you of that relationship?
Now, the second piece of that triangle is your thoughts about your body. What you really think about your body, do you even think about your body other than when you put on your jeans are like oh my god, I need to lose some weight... These are too tight, but really, what do you think about your body? Do you value your body? Do you realize the importance? Do you have gratitude for it? Do you look at your body and send love to it?
And, ahh there was a beautiful post from one of my empower members a couple of weeks ago, and she just talked about how she appreciated all the things her arms had done, like hugging the people that she loved, and the things that her body had done for her and just looking at this beautiful support for our spirit that our body is.
What are your thoughts about your body? Are you connected to that? Do you think about it and just go, Oh, it's fat, or it's missing a breast? Or it's missing two breasts? Or it's totally flat or whatever, whatever? And are you sending love energy or resentment? Or are you just in complete denial and ignoring your body?
Because if you are, then why would you care what you're putting into it? Right?
If you don't care about it, then you're really not going to be that concerned with the choices you make to serve it, the choices you make to treat it with compassion. You know, I know I've talked on the podcast before about looking as you're at your body, as a friend or as someone outside of you, and ask yourself, what would your body say, you know, what would your body say if it was outside of you and talking to you, and about the way that you treat it, or about the way that it feels from the things that you do or the things that you put in it?
So that's a really cool thing to kind of think about these thoughts about your body. What is that relationship? And is it a healthy one, regarding the way you think about your own body? And if not, then there's a place we can work on that relationship.
And the third part of this relationship, are your thoughts about the food itself? What does food mean to you? Do you actually think about food? And let's say, let's expand this as a food and drink. Okay, so food and alcohol, food and juice, or sodas, or whatever, so food and drink? What are your thoughts about food?
So for me, food is fuel. Food is medicine. Food is healing. Food is also a celebration. Food is love.
When I cook for someone, when I prepare food for someone, it's an act of love for me to give food to someone. And I, you know, has a lot to do with the way I was raised and the way we grew up around food and treated food and my family. But my thoughts about food are very loving. And for the most part, I view it as this beautiful relationship of something that my body can build off of.
But I know that there are other thoughts about food, some of them can be, you know, food is scary. Food is addictive. Food is an emotional buffer. Food is an escape. And so when you're really considering treating your body with self-compassion, with care, it's so important to consider how you think about food.
So it's this beautiful triangle, food in your body, and how it makes your body feel, your thoughts about body, do you love it and value it and want it to feel well, and you're willing to put effort into doing something about that? And your thoughts about the food itself and the meaning food has in your life.
So I share this with you because so far over the past few months, I found this to be a really helpful and successful approach to supporting my healing, and to helping me not feel guilty or shameful, with the story that I told you about, you know, sitting on the balcony and having a cocktail with my husband. And you know, really, because I'm aware of it. And I realized, you know what, in this moment, I really don't want to be putting this in my body. So I didn't, you know, I just sat there and I enjoyed the visit with him. Because I had that awareness. And I didn't want it to be a mechanical process. I don't want anything to go into me mechanically, just because it's there, it's available, someone offers it. I really want to be very mindful and intentional about loving my body in the best way I can through the food and drink that I put into it.
And my experience has been that that not only supports the way that I feel physically and emotionally, but it's also supported the loss of extra body fat that I have been wanting to shed. And that I know also supports my healing, right, the less extra body fat we have, the better chance we have of having good health outcomes. And when I compare that to what I shared with you in the beginning of my experience, you know, years ago after my first diagnosis in 2011, it's remarkable. I mean I did I've measured everything, I wore multiple body monitors to calculate, how many calories I was burning and what my calorie deficit was, and nothing changed.
But here in this small shift of letting go of treating myself with resentment and literally like harassing my own body, what's wrong? Why isn't this working? You know, why are you doing what I want and responding how I want and looking how I want, and changing that, to this perspective of man, I'm telling you, I love this body, I wanted to stay around as long as possible. And changing my perspective of that has just been an amazing increase on the awareness of the way I treat it.
Now, I want to be really clear, that doesn't mean have a piece of cake, never have a piece of pie, never have a cocktail, it doesn't mean that at all.
It means just increasing the awareness and considering these three aspects of the mind, body, food, love triangle. Is it out of love, that you're putting something into your body? And is the relationship between your mind, your body, and your food working for you? Is it making you feel good about yourself? And that doesn't necessarily mean again, I said you could be in the best shape of your life and still be hard on your body.
So are you doing what I did in the beginning, which is just to say it has to be disciplined, I have to be careful this I have to measure this and does that steal the joy from the experience of loving, supporting, and nourishing your body to support your ultimate health?
I'd love for you to try this out, I'd love for you to consider these three parts of this love triangle. And I would love to hear what you think about it, I think it's a really important perspective and can get rid of just all the shitty things that come along with the pressure we put on ourselves about food and drink and the shame and the guilt and the societal expectations and pressures that come along with it. That would love to see nothing more or hear nothing more, I should say, then never hearing the word I cheated or I was bad when it comes to food and your body again.
You can't cheat on your own self, you can't cheat on your body, you can be unintentional. Or you can be intentional about your relationship with your body, your food, and the way you think about both of them.
All right, so come and find me on Facebook and let me know to join the breast cancer recovery group. And let's talk about this. Let's hear about your thoughts on the mind, body, food, love triangle, and how that works in your life or which leg of that triangle is strong for you or really needs some help in that area and in that relationship.
And, again, I would love to have you in the better than before breast cancer workshop. So please go and check that out at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/btb and it's going to be such a great time. I can't wait to see you there.
So I'll talk to you again next week and until then be good to yourself and expect other people to be good to you as well.