Pain – Drugs, Fitness and Food

Weight Loss and Pain

Hi everyone! As most of you know, I love listening to podcasts while driving. I love the fact that I can learn while I commute. Recently, I’ve started to listen to Lewis Howes’ podcast, ‘The School of Greatness’. I’ve only listened to a few episodes so far but I am a big fan of his interviewing style and skills. He asks impactful questions that forces the interviewee to dive deep into their psyche. The most recent episode I listened to was with JD Roth – the co-creator of the hit TV show, ‘The Biggest Loser’ and many other critically-acclaimed shows. As a trainer, coach and human, this episode resonated with me in such a meaningful way. Through his experience with the participants on ‘The Biggest Loser’, JD Roth displays such a strong understanding of weight loss psychology and the factors surrounding whether a person will effectively lose weight or not. He links weight loss, the use of drugs and other band-aid solutions with our inability to deal with our emotional pain.

 

Emotional Pain

JD Roth absolutely stunned me when he said, “There is no way anyone is hungry enough to eat themselves to 400 lbs. Hunger pains are usually not due to hunger. Hunger is usually a result of emotional pain.” I was in the middle of driving and I had to pull over to really absorb this statement. I had to write it down so I could revisit it when I had a chance to sit down and write about it. My mind was in shambles. What he’s saying is that being overweight is not a result of being hungry. It is a result of pain – usually emotional pain. He then segways into a powerful statement that drug use and alcohol abuse are in the same boat as overeating. Exercising too much and binge watching television may also be a result of pain. All of these things can be traced back to experiencing emotional pain. This resonated with me so deeply because I have experienced this and I’m sure everyone has as well.

The problem is that it is hard to face this emotional pain that we all experience. It’s hard to think about and it’s even harder to talk about. JD Roth explained that our culture does not address this pain that we are all feeling. We are offered band-aid solutions like prescription drugs, alcohol, 30-day diets and many more quick-fix solutions that never address the fact that people are in pain. This is the part that resonated with me so much. I have experienced pain – just like everyone else has. We experience pain constantly because that is life. The buddhist concept that ‘Life is Suffering’ is applicable here as well. My emotional pain started in university and basically lasted all throughout that experience because I was so unsure about what I wanted to do with my life. I experienced such a strong existential crisis that left me so anxious and confused. I didn’t know it at the time but when I look back on it now, I was definitely in a state of emotional pain. I masked this pain with drugs and deadlifts – to a point where I herniated my discs in my lower back.

I was experiencing such unhappiness with school and work at the time that all I ever had that felt good was doing drugs and going absolutely HAM on deadlifts. This was not healthy at the time and I understand why now. I was experiencing emotional pain and uncertainty. This pain lasted for a few years until a new pain took over my life. This was the pain of watching my dad hang on to his life after experiencing a traumatic brain injury. That was about 1.5 years ago and the first year of his recovery was a blur. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much of May 2016 to May 2017. It was just so overwhelming for my family and myself. I remember glimpses of bus rides to and from the hospital. I remember sitting in hospital rooms. I remember pretending to be okay when I was with my friends or my coworkers. But the whole time, I was drowning myself in questionable behaviour and actions that I now understand was due to this emotional pain that I was experiencing.

 

How do we deal with this?

About 6 months ago, things started to get better. I am not sure what happened. Whether this was a result of my dad’s progress or a change in my mindset, I can’t truly be sure. It could definitely be a result of both. This post wasn’t meant for you to feel sorry for me. That’s not my intention. Through my family’s experience of having to deal with our situation, it appears that we’ve all become stronger, more empathetic and generally, easier-going. Before his accident, I always thought I understood people’s problems. But this was false. I had no clue what people were dealing with until my dad’s accident.

So what has changed for me? I am really not sure. I feel much more optimistic about the future now. Things are bright again as opposed to being dark. I think it is a result of seeing my dad’s progress and simply being grateful that he is alive and we can have conversations again. You must understand that for the first few months of recovery, he was unable to communicate or even walk. Now, all I can think is, ‘at least he is alive’, ‘at least he can walk’, ‘at least he can smile and love’. Other people are not as lucky as I am.

But really, how the hell do we deal with this constant pain that is part of our experience in life? How do we deal with loved ones dying? How do we deal with this overwhelming rise of cancer? How do we deal with the pain of losing friends and family? I truly don’t know. What I do know is that writing down the things I am grateful for has helped me in the past few months. Every morning and every evening, I write down what I am grateful for and what small wins I experienced that day. I miss a few days here and there because after all, I am human. But I think this has helped me a lot. These are never massive things. They are usually small victories. “Today, I was very patient with my clients and was able to guide them through a great workout that put them in a great mood. This morning, I am grateful for my family’s health and my own health. Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to positively impact people through something I am passionate about.”

This leads me to believe that being grateful for the things that we do have will help us conquer the emotional pain that we inevitably have to face in our lives. JD Roth exclaimed in the podcast that we as a society, are currently failing in regards to addressing our pain. We are wrapping ourselves up in a 12-episode binge of our favourite television show in order to avoid our pain. We are getting high for hours and days so we don’t have to think about our pain. We are burying ourselves in enticing tubs of Haagen Dazs because this is the only way we can cope with our pain and suffering. My takeaway message for this post is to try to find the positives in life. Try to look at the bright side of things. For me, writing things down is extremely powerful. Try writing down 3 things every morning and every night that you are grateful for. See if this simple acknowledgement of gratitude can help you face the emotional pain and suffering of life.

If you’ve made it this far, I really appreciate you reading this. My hands are shaking as I write this and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s cold or because writing this helped me acknowledge my pain. Again, this was not intended as a sob story as everybody is dealing with something. Instead, think of it as permission for you to be in pain. It’s okay to be in pain. Face it head on. Pain creates character. Pain creates love. Spread that love.

 

Resources –

Here is the link to the podcast that I have reffered to:

‘The School of Greatness’ with Lewis Howes and JD Roth

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