When All Inclusive Becomes All Abusive w/ Helene Philipsen (Video & Audio)
When All Inclusive becomes All Abusive
Many of us feel entitled to the ‘all inclusive’ lifestyle. We are tempted to ‘supersize’ our meal deals or take as much as is offered to us — whether in food, alcohol or even sex. But what happens when this take-take-take mentality pushes over into an abusive of addictive pattern?
In this enlightening conversation, Dr. Andrea and Helene Philipsen discuss the repercussions of this lifestyle. From mindless overeating, excessive shopping to addiction, eating disorders and unhealthy relationships, this dynamic duo explores how to return to balance and sanity.
About Helene Philipsen
Helene Philipsen is a Life Transformation Specialist based in Copenhagen, Denmark. She works with women worldwide who are passionate about nourishing their body, mind and soul – but struggling to find the right path. Helene’s expertise personally and professionally lies within life transformation, her core specialty being Freedom from Emotional Eating. Her educational background is in psychology, Recovery and Life Coaching. She has committed her life to helping others because she wants you to know, that living lovingly and confidently inside a healthy body – is possible for anyone
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You have probably heard me on America Out Loud before. I’m Dr. Andrea Pennington, co-host of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Pleasure. I’m an Integrative Medical Doctor, empowerment coach and personal brand architect living in the French Riviera and Monte Carlo, Monaco.
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Welcome to the slightly more provocative weekend edition of Liberate You Authentic Self with me, Dr. Andrea Pennington – the prescription for living your life out loud. Tune in Saturday and Sunday to get fired up with insight and inspiration for conscious relationships and soulful success.
So today we’re going to talk about the all-inclusive lifestyle. You know, in North America or maybe it’s almost all western cultures, there’s a little bit of a sense of entitlement. Like we feel like we should be able to have it all. And certainly in America, you can go to any fast food restaurant and they’re going to ask you, “Would you like the all-inclusive super meal deal where you can have everything for a special low price.” But what happens when all-inclusive turns into all abusive. I mean, you know, who can resist when you’ve got this unlimited all-you-can-eat resort lifestyle available 24/7.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Wait a minute, we’re just out of the throes of an economic crisis. Well I don’t know about you but it’s summertime and this is when people start to open up their mindset like they feel like they should indulge because we’ve been so good all year so far and the school year’s done – I want to let loose.
Well here with me today to talk about this very issue is none other than my illustrious co-host, colleague and friend, Helene Philipsen from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Andrea: Hello, Helene.
Helene: Hi, Andrea. Hi.
Andrea: Lovely to have you here with me on Liberate Your Authentic Self. Normally Helene and I co-host along with Malcolm Out Loud on the America Out Loud talk radio platform. We co-host a show called Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Pleasure where we mix it up all the time. But around here, we are dedicated to helping you live your most kickass epic life.
So let’s get into it, Helene. You are just back from an all-inclusive resort vacation in Turkey. What did you notice?
Helene: Well I used to always sort of in my mind categorize all-inclusive as being for a particular type of person. You know, you think all-inclusive and then we all have these images that pop up in our heads. And I thought to myself coming into this summer, I was like okay, I’ve been working so hard. I’m building a business. I’m seeing clients. I’m doing radio with you and Malcolm. And I thought, okay what I need is all-inclusive.
So I went ahead, went online, started searching and I thought to myself, okay I just want the whole package, right? I want to be shoved in a bus, on a place, pulled back out, you know, checked in to the hotel, pushed into the pool and dragged up to the buffet three times a day. I thought to myself, that sound perfect to me. That’s what I need right now. Make it easy, make it smooth, serve everything up for me. And that’s what I booked. I just went ahead and did it. My family was like, “Yes, we can do that.” We have three teens and they are basically constantly in the same mode. They could do this all day, every day, all year round. Well actually not but they were all aboard.
So we went ahead and did it. And like you said, I just came back. We spent a week in Turkey. It was beautiful and it was just really, really great. And it made me think about this all-inclusive concept and how we live our lives because I used to have this idea in my mind that there are a couple of months a year where we switch into these all-inclusive months, right? You sort of mentioned it right now and December is one of them. It’s Christmas, treats are all around. It’s all about the we-are-not-going-to-worry. I mean, why is there such a thing as a New Year’s resolution, right? Let’s make up for all the bad shit we just did all throughout December, spending too much money, drinking too much of whatever, eggnog or wherever you are, right? Christmas is beers. Eating too much – Christmas lunches, Christmas dinners, Christmas family parties, too many presents. It easily becomes this overload of over indulging, overspending which if you take into an emotional level can quite easily become self-abusive or self-harm.
Andrea: If you don’t know your limits, if you don’t restrain yourself and cut yourself off.
Helene: Yes, but I think this is the really, really interesting thing about it. Some time ago, I wanted to launch and do a speech on freedom from emotional eating. People have been requesting this talk and I wanted to do it myself. What better time than to do it on December. December is the time when you most need guidance, where you most need the tools and the help. And then I ran across a really good friend of mine who happens to be dealing with these issues. Well emotional eating but as a private person in her life, she battles emotional eating. And she said to me, and this was actually very, very smart. She said to me, “You know what, Helene? I think that’s probably a really, really sensationally bad idea.”
And I said, “What?”
And she said, “Because you know what? In December, it’s legal. Everybody does it in December.” Everybody does it so you don’t stand out anymore. You get to kind of hide behind. It’s normal, right? But anyway, now it’s summertime. We’re in the summer vacation. Kids are out of school and it’s a little bit the same attendance used the way it is in my perception any year, right? So summer, we just want to relax, we want to hmmmnn and just get our bodies out in the sun and we want to eat and drink and chill and like recharge our batteries. So when is that tipping point of the scale that you go into a mode that ends up being not actually being nice for you where you keep thinking, “When I come home from this vacation, as soon as I get home then I’m going to diet. We’ve spent too much money. I’m going to just pull the plug as soon as I get home.”
Andrea: Well I think that’s the distinction. It’s okay when we get home or when Christmas is over, we have New Years. But in the rest of our lives for most people, they’re under pressure all of the time. And to be honest, unfortunately in North America, well at least with Americans they often don’t take a paid vacation. So most companies give people at least 2 weeks. And I know that sounds crazy. When I moved here to Europe, there are people here in France where their entire business is shut down the whole month of August. Everyone goes away. In Monaco, it’s like it becomes a ghost town. But in America, there are many people who do not even take their full vacation or they break it up into two days here, three days here, four days there. And so what I find is that many of my American friends tell me that they’re stressed throughout the entire year. And so when they flip into this mode of, I just need to be cared for, I just need to take off the brakes, stop ruling and restricting myself and I need to be pampered. That’s the danger because then it becomes a 24 hour, 7 day a week kind of cycle because we’re under so much pressure and stress that emotionally we don’t have necessarily the willpower to say, “Okay, I think I need to cut myself off.”
Helene: Yes, totally. And I think the key lies in balance. They key lies in balance. And I think it can be really difficult. I mean, I know what it feels like to work my ass off. I know exactly what that feels like and I’m not sitting here advocating you can’t spoil yourself or choose to be pampered or choose to go all-in. what I’m looking for is the balance because I know it’s easier said than done. That if you balance out the rest of your year, you don’t need that total unplugging, you know, just like going batshit crazy with the whole all-inclusive concept because then your need is just smaller because you feel better the rest of the year.
Andrea: You know what I would advocate for? I would advocate for an all-inclusive lifestyle year round but included in that all-inclusive is adequate rest, adequate nutrition, adequate rest or whatever recharges and refreshes you, whether that’s massages, going to a spa, staying out in nature just doing a 30-minute walk by yourself without the kids, or even just a hot bath by yourself without the kids or maybe with, you know. I’m just saying, if we program that in, and that’s the thing I don’t think many people do. They wait until they either hit a wall when their body or their brain is at near collapse. That’s when they say, “Oh, my god. I just need to recharge.” And the body will just demand it. But if we could get into a habit of having this all-inclusive lifestyle that says, okay sure, I’m going to work my little tail off and maybe, you know, like as I do I now work in two week sprints.
So I will program a big, for me as you know, publishing books, launching artists out into the stratosphere, we’ve generally got one or two big projects per quarter. But what I like to do is then break things down into a 2-week spread where I am very focused, very disciplined on getting that project done and then I program in some rest. So then I’m not waiting 6 months for my next vacation to recharge because then you’re starting to run on fumes and then by the time you get to that vacation or whatever you’re like… First of all, you’re dead for the first few minutes of it. You’re not even like enjoying wherever you are. You’re just like recuperating. And second of all, then you don’t feel like you can really take part in as much as you really would want.
Like I saw these pictures from you of what was it, paragliding or some kind of craziness? I’m like, that looks fun. But as I was thinking about myself, I’m like, wait now I just want to go and like you said, just be pampered. I want someone to just like rub me down with oils, feed me like green juices and smoothies. But your vacation looked like it had a little bit of activity in there.
Helene: Yes, absolutely. But you know what, I need to just like grab a hold of what you just said because I’m like happy like a little, you know, we’re surrounded by kittens and puppy dogs right now because you just said it. So live the all-inclusive lifestyle and that’s actually like one of my new next big project that I want to do for my clients and mentees because my point in all of this is that we should, we could choose to live the all-inclusive lifestyle all the time.
see, the way I would describe my life up until four or five years ago when I hit my total, total rock bottom was that my life has been all-inclusive but in the self abusive way. I have not held back in picking and choosing everything in this life from both good and bad. I have taken everything I could get my hands on from all the most crazy insane vacations to the overspending and the grief and the bankruptcy that came with that. I have had the most insane love fairytales, crazy romances, palm trees, blue seas but also some of the abuse both physical and emotional that came with that. I have had a weight that was yo-yoing going up and down and crazy and the food that came with that both really good and really… So my life has been all-inclusive.
Andrea: Where did that come from? Because Helene, I mean, I’ve hung out with you and I see you definitely living life to the full. You’re out there. You’re gregarious. You’re fun loving. So it seems hard for me to imagine that because you’re like this picture of the Out Loud lifestyle, you know. Smiley, happy, full on. So where did that start for you? Were you like that even as a kid, are you saying? Or when? When did that start?
Helene: Yes, a really good question. You know what, I was thinking about it the other day because we did a show with Malcolm called, The Tipping Point of Your Addiction where we talked about emotional eating and where it all comes from. And he kept pushing for a… He wanted to understand why. Where does it start? Where does it come from? What happens? And very, very often in my experience, there is no one incident you can point to. Yes, I was attacked and assaulted in the streets when I lived in France by white nationalists when I was 16, 17 years old. But I was eating emotionally before that. Yes, I had a very troubled relationship with my father and some very difficult things going on when I was a child and that may rather be one of the causes. But when the really bad stuff happened, I was already eating emotionally before that.
I can mention all these things that normally people would say, and I do believe in some cases yes, you can have a very traumatic experience happen in your life and then find a way to medicate your trauma whether it is food, or love, or sex, or money spending, or drugs and alcohol – you can. But I think honestly, really let me drive this point through with the most power I can, I think when you grow up and what I would call co-dependency without healthy emotional foundation as a child, you develop survival strategies. One of my survival strategies was eating. I found comfort in it. I focused on it. I started thinking about it and fantasizing about it and I would get like… And I remember, Andrea. I must have been about 10 years old. It’s one of my first memories of planning to binge eat. I clearly developed a plan in my head of how I would go the local bakery and pretend that I was from the youth club that I went to that the adults had sent me so that I could be 20 Halloween buns, which is a Danish thing with cream and jam and it’s, you know, whipped cream and it’s these like voluptuous bastards of a calorie farm that actually tastes really good but that’s a different story. And I did it. At 10 years old, I went to the bakery pretending to be sent by the adults, signed some sort of very dubious signature on a receipt and went home with 20 of these, you know, Halloween buns.
Andrea: Oh, my gosh!
Helene: Yes. And I remember eating them one by one. And I think I got to about three maybe into the fourth and at this point, the disgust overwhelmed me. If you think about it at this age, I mean, it normally takes a while. In the beginning, you just enjoy the food. You enjoy the food and then pooh, you feel stuffed and then you start feeling ashamed. The shame came almost instantly for me because I knew it was wrong. I’ve started feeling bad. It didn’t feel good in my body to stuff myself with all of that, right? And also I knew I had lied to do it. So my whole soul knew something is really, really wrong here. Something is just going terribly wrong.
So when I say, use the term all-inclusive, that’s actually exactly what I mean. How do you go from that kind of all-inclusive to this kind of all-inclusive? Because you said it, I am living out loud today.
Andrea: Yes, but here’s the thing that I’m curious about. I think it’s easy for a young person to really feel that twinge of knowing this is not right even if they’re still going to go ahead and do it. They have that twinge. They know it’s not right. And I think there are adults who have lost their sensitivity to that little conscience.
Andrea: And because well everyone else around us is also either overeating, overspending, over sexing, whatever and we get into the rational mind that we start to justify. “Well I did work an extra 20 hours and I did this and I sacrificed that.” So people could add up all the reasons why they’re entitled to whatever that binge is.
So where do we regain the control? I think it first has to start with regaining awareness of what is healthy for us. And maybe that’s different for everyone. What is healthy for me? Where do I really need to draw that line so that I can have still this wonderful all-inclusive out loud life but with the sensibility that means my body and my brain will still be here for the next 20, 30, you know 80 years, right?
Helene: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think it’s… The point where it changes comes when you’ve had enough. That’s my experience. When you cannot bear to live that way anymore, you’re not willing to go through life being filled with shame and regret, hating your body, or hating your habits, or hating whatever your problem is, or whatever you may be medicating your emotions with. It’s not my experience that the awareness is there of exactly why you’re doing it or what the mechanisms are. And I think you go from an all-inclusive in the self-abusive way into a standing still point of completely calmness in which you then have a window of opportunity to start developing a healthy foundation. And that would be a non-inclusive like a total this is where you start building a fence around yourself because you need to build your core up. Your insides need a foundation to be built.
Andrea: But what you’ve just described is first hitting rock bottom. So when we get back from the break, I wonder if we could at least maybe empower our listeners to find, I don’t know, maybe a few signs so that… I mean, that’s what I’m always trying to help people do. It’s like avoid the dumb shit that I’ve done. Avoid those consequences. You don’t have to smack yourself to the side of the head like I did. But when we get back, I think that’s where we need to pick it up.
[Break] You’re listening to Liberate Your Authentic Self with me, Dr. Andrea Pennington. Check out the live version of this show where I answer your questions in real-time. Visit www.facebook.com/drandreapennington. You can also submit your questions via email. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s D-R-A-N-D-R-E-A at americaoutloud.com.
Andrea: For many of us, human nature dictates whether we’re going to be successful, healthy, happy, wealthy in life or whether we’re just going to have a mediocre existence. But if it really is human nature, where does awareness or consciousness or the soul step in? Is it possible to maybe shortcut our way to the happy blissful life without going through some of the drama and trauma that our little ego mind can get us into? Well we’re going to chop it up a little bit further here with my guest, Helene Philipsen.
So Helene, you talked about getting to a rock bottom. What you described is for someone who may be emotionally eating, so they’re driven to eat to soothe, to calm, to self-medicate whatever drama or trauma is going on in their life. And what you’ve described is that we can get to a point where we’re so physically and physiologically just feeling like crap and then emotionally and psychologically we get to a point of disgust both with our self, both with our behaviors. And we finally say, enough is enough. I cannot go on living this way. But that hitting of rock bottom, that getting to that point of utter disgust, I just wish we could avoid it.
So in your own estimation, now you’re tracing back all the way to the age of 10 when you can remember plotting and planning a binge episode. And I imagine your little brain was going, “Yes, I’m just going to savor it and just…” You know like we get when we think about some delicious meal but you went and got yourself like 20 of these little Halloween buns.
So how do you think you might have… and I know, you’re much wiser, more enlightened right now. But if you could have pinpointed one little, I don’t know, sign or one little action where you could have chosen to go in a different way, where you could have chosen the path to recovery even then. Maybe it was your teenagers, maybe it was your early adulthood years so that you didn’t have to have all the emotional eating and the relationships that were a little cray and all of that. Just let me know if you yourself found any clues.
Helene: Yes, I didn’t. No, listen. This is really, really clear because my best answer would be, I wish that I had met me on Facebook or I wish I had met me online or somebody like me so that I could see and feel the recognition because had I encountered the recognition, I know I have such an inquisitive character and personality and I’m curious and I wanted to feel better even as you said it, from a really young teenager. Even then, I knew I would have examined it. I would have looked into it. I would have followed it even it was baby steps.
Andrea: That makes me wonder, did you know anyone else doing it?
Andrea: So you just found the eating thing on your own. You recognized it soothe you. Did you have any parents or family members who started at an early age? You know how we always say, a kid falls of their bike. Where do they have to go and get a shot? And someone says, “Here’s a lollipop. Or here’s a cookie. And then obviously, you give us a sugary or high fat treat, you’re going to get the brain chemicals that make you feel like, “Oh, that was great.”
So it typically starts with someone else feeding us where we notice that we get the benefit. Did you ever notice a pattern like that?
Helene: Not really. I mean, I remember that my father who wasn’t ever really battling weight issues so it was one of those emotion on either of us where the weight never showed it which is actually very, very common. He would have a special treat, that special candy that he’s obsessed with even today. At 70 something, he’s still obsessed with the same candy. But I think it’s just so normal.
When I got sick, I would see my mom more. My mom was a real bad-ass. She would work and study at day, you know, at night to make the whole thing – single mom, two kids, that whole type of thing. And when I got sick, I would get cold ice creams and I would get to see my mom a lot more. But I think it’s more complicated than that and that’s okay. But I think this is exactly why I do what I do because these days everybody has social media. So almost no matter your age, you need to be at a certain age as well to develop that awareness and that, you know, to have the actual capacity to tackle this which is totally okay. That’s fine. But if you can see it out there, if you see people talking about it on social media and you’re like, “Wait a second. I feel like that sometimes. I feel like I eat when I’m not hungry. I feel like I can’t stop eating even when I’m full. I feel like I plan these special things around food. Or I feel like I lose my mind when I go to a buffet.”
Or to give you a really typical example that all my mentees, almost all of them experience is , if you have a best friend or a partner like boyfriend, husband, whatever and you’ve planned to go for this meal or this buffet and he wants to leave early or he doesn’t want the dessert. You spaz out. You literally lose it. You literally lose it because you hang your hat on him, right? So he’s hurdled this planning. So if you recognize out there, “Okay, somebody else is actually talking about exactly how I’m feeling and the shame of it.” You’d be so terrified just to go grocery shopping because you’re so ashamed you want to make it look like you’re shopping for a child’s birthday party but you’re not. You’re just shopping for you. Or you want to add three cucumbers. Just symbolic, three cucumbers that you put on top of everything else because you’re terrified that the next person on the line is going to look into your cart or your basket and be like, “Oh, fuck! That’s the last thing she needs to buy!” Like all of those feelings. Shame keeps our mouths shut. And as long as we think that we’re alone with the problem or that it is so shameful to mention, then it’s very, very difficult to get the tools or the help or to break the cycle.
Like you asked, how do I break the cycle? Do I have to hit that, you know, terrible doom rock bottom. But everybody’s rock bottom is also different. So for somebody else, rock bottom might be at a place which is prettier than mine was.
Andrea: Right. I think it’s really helpful what you’re doing and how you’re very vocal and the stuff that you share on social media is kind of honest. It’s frank. Obviously it’s your personality. It’s in your face.
So you’re saying, if a younger version of you happen to be scrolling through Instagram or Facebook or whatever and saw one of these posts, you would probably say, “Oh, my god. She does what I do? But she looks so happy and yet I feel so miserable.” So I think that contrast might actually help people to see there’s life beyond the emotional eating.
Helene: Yes, to know that you’re not alone. I always say that. I try to end most of my posts with, “You are not alone.” Whatever you’re battling, I think that goes for everything, Andrea whether it’s depression, whether it’s obsessive-this or obsessive-that, or anxiety, or emotional eating, whatever. You’re not alone because once we get the hope that we’re not alone, somebody else made it to the other side. Hope drives us really far. Hope gives us the courage to look for a solution, or to look for help, or to look for tools. So putting it out there, putting it out there. There is a hope. You’re not alone. This is not the end of the world even though it feels like it. There’s a future for you. There is weight loss for you. If you become really obese, if you’re battling your body as well as your mind, there is hope. And there are other people who feel exactly the same way and there are those who have gone through it and are now standing in a way, way better healthier place like me. That’s why I keep talking about it.
Andrea: Yes. But you’re passionate. And I know that you genuinely care. How big were you at your heaviest?
Helene: Let me see. I lost about 130 pounds and I halved my weight. So I must have been about 270, around 270 pounds.
Andrea: Like you literally lost one of me. I’m probably 135-ish. I don’t even know what I weigh now.
Andrea: That’s freaking great!
Helene: I lost myself. I basically… I halved my weight, 50% after having tried everything else that you can even combine the universe. Finally it clicked in my head that there is no external solution in this world that is going to fix my internal problem.
Andrea: Right, because you tried everything including bariatric surgery. People usually think, okay that’s going to fix it. because if you’re going to go under the knife and they’re either going to put a band or reattach some things, one would think that that solves the problem but, you know, mother nature created this beautiful human body with ways to get around even the trickery of surgery meaning, you could restretch that little stomach that they’ve made for you. Is that what happened in your case?
Helene: Yes. We’re flexible. I can eat as much as you and the next person right now. We are flexible. And I remember my mother saying to me. She looked at me and she said, “You realize this surgery is dangerous. I support you. You realize it’s going to change your life. It’s going to have health consequences just from getting this surgery that you will never get rid of probably.” And she said to me, “Do you really think it’s going to help cutting into your stomach if the problem is in your head?”
Andrea: Wow! How old were you?
Helene: I was 38, I think. 38. 37 or 38. And that really struck me but at the time, I was so desperate to try like that one last major, I felt like this is going to just… this is just going to fix it. This is the final. You know, I’ve done all the dieting, had all the temporary salts. Like all this works, it’s a beauty. But you know, come back and ask a year later because that’s what we do. As emotional eaters, we keep seeking, seeking, seeking solutions that are external. And when you I think come to peace with it that one day where you decide, okay I’m not willing to lay down my weapons, I’m laying down my arms and I’m ready to go a different route.
A lot of people don’t realize. When I encounter people who are battling anxiety and depression, one of the first things I ask them is, “What are you doing to yourself that is so scary?”
And they go, “Huh? What…?” Or some of them go, “Okay, that’s an interesting angle.” Because in my experience from my own life, personally and professionally, when I discovered… I had a huge anxiety, Andrea. I was pretty obviously depressive because I was, you know, my body was shutting down on me. My emotional life was just, oh my god, it’s disaster. Like disaster. I’ll go into details later if you want me to. But when I realized that I have the level of anxiety that I have, the panic attacks and the… because the killer lived within me. How can you run away from a killer or an abuser that lives within you? That is the ultimate terror to live with.
So I could go do this, I could try help, I could try therapy, I could meditate. I have to do all of these things but until I started treating my soul and my core and this body where my heart is still beating despite everything I had done to it. Until changed the way I treated that, the anxiety didn’t let go. But when I did change that, the anxiety did let go like this. Poof! It just went away.
And so I’ve seen that ever since I implemented that in my work. I see it all the time. Almost all my mentees battle pretty bad anxiety and it goes away, poof, once they build that foundation, once they start treating themselves completely differently. I mean for me, that’s just been a major, major key. We’re so focused on the side effects instead of treating the actual illness. We can put on as many Band-Aids as you want. I can put Band-Aids all over your pretty, you know. I was going to swear there. I could put Band-Aids all over your pretty ass but it’s not going to help. I want to treat what is actually hurting you.
Andrea: So it’s still going to require, I mean, your approach then is I would imagine, pretty scary because if we feel like, okay, even though surgery is radical and scary we figure, okay, well they’re doctors, they’re surgeons. They know what they’re doing. And you know whatever diet fad we get sucked into, we look at it and if it sounds enough scientific or they have some really good before and after pictures, we’re like, “Yes, maybe that will work for me too.” But what you’re saying is, we’re going to forget all about this Band-Aid crap, this surface shit. We’re going to go to the root of what’s really causing your emotional disturbance. We’re going to take all that shit out, clean it up and you’re going to be healthy, whole, and rebuild from that solid foundation.
When we get back, I’d like you to explain a little bit about the fear process because let’s be honest, it’s pretty scary to face yourself. Even if we know that okay, I’m the one inside my own head sabotaging myself. I am the one who keeps abusing myself by eating, and binging, and purging, or doing whatever else I’m doing. The shopping, the hoarding, the relationship jumping, the lying, all of that. If we recognize that it’s… At the end of the day, when you start to look at all the things we’ve tried, from diets to this approach and that approach, and this detox and that cleanse. What is the one constant? The one constant is me.
So what you’re saying is, I have to just come back home, come back to the self, clean up my own interior mess. And yes, the picture that you’re painting of my potential future is rosy and beautiful and it’s also scary. Because if you’re telling me that the solution does not exist outside of me, then none of those diets, or surgeons, or pills, or shakes, or whatever that are going to fix me. What if I can’t do it? What if I tried to face it and it’s either to scary, too overwhelming, or I just fail again?
When we get back from the break, Helene, I hope you’re ready. I’m counting on you. Give us some solutions.
[Break] You’re listening to Liberate Your Authentic Self with me, Dr. Andrea Pennington. Check me out on Instagram @drandreapennington. And now, back to the show.
Andrea: So we have decided we are going to live our life out loud. We’re going to liberate our authentic self and pamper and nurture ourselves and really get into this authentic true self love. Sounds like a dream, right? Sounds all perfect and rosy and scary as shit. I mean, let’s be honest. If we mess it up again this time, what does that leave us with?
Well before we went to break, Helene Philipsen, an expert in freedom from emotional eating. She’s a life transformation expert.
And Helene, I’m really shocked to hear that you got a look at this, you know, hitting of rock bottom and deciding to change your life. It’s almost like agreeing to ride a rollercoaster. You lock that belt in and you just put your trust that hopefully the ride is manufactured properly and the driver knows what they’re doing.
And what’s interesting is, I love roller coasters. So I look at it as, I’m excited for the thrill whereas other people look at it as very scary. And what you said to me during the break was, many of your clients are actually not scared and I find that really interesting. So tell me more about that.
Helene: Yes, they really aren’t. Some of them are, of course, but most of them aren’t and I think it’s because they’ve come to a place where continuing their living is more scary. And they look at me and I’m, as you already know, a really, really upfront and honest person. I walk the talk every day of my whole life. I don’t bullshit about this stuff which is hard. Some of it is hard work but it is a constant reward.
So yes, there are both sad tears and happy tears in the work we do. But I think the fact that I stand for what I do. I’ve done it myself. I’ve worked with so many people now. I’ve been in touch with thousands of emotional eaters. And there’s a level for everybody. I mean listen, emotional eating which of course is my specialty. You can replace that with any emotional dependency. You can replace it with whatever you want. It still works. My method still works for everybody.
There is excessive use, there is abuse and there is addiction. And each level has an appropriate treatment, of course, designed especially for that to reach people exactly where they need to be reached and touched. But to get to the core of this fear you’re addressing, of course, some people are scared shitless. Of course, they are because it is unknown territory. When they make that choice to step into my space whether it’s virtual or physical, it’s my experience and my belief from the feedback I get, of course, all the time that when you stand in front of somebody who is radically honest with you, who has gone through it themselves, who shows you both the testament of their life and the famous or infamous before and after pictures, usually they’ve followed me for quite a while, while they muster some courage to speak out their own truth. Then I feel like a load is lifted from their shoulders.
When I set the rollercoaster reference, we have this old fashioned rollercoaster here in Copenhagen. Whether it’s a guy sitting in a seat in the middle of it with the stick, he controls it. It’s the brake and the speed. And once you sit on it, you know. Okay, he’s got this now. He’s got it. And I guess in my world, I am that person with that stick or my method and my tools are.
And so one of the very first things we do is we look at, how the hell did you get to where you are now? How much of a warrior are you? Like how much of the warrior, badass princess, queen, goddess, you know, sweet baby many names right? Are you to be sitting here in front of me today whether that is on Skype or in my live workspace? And that realization, the very first time I speak to a new mentee and she realizes like, “Okay, yes. I have tried everything, everything I could get my hands on. I have battled my ass off to beat this beast that is somehow living within me. I have even come and sit and talk to this woman that I don’t even know about my most inner shameful feelings.” And once the awareness comes within us about how strong, how much of a warrior we are because you know what, Andrea? When you’re battling emotional dependency, let’s just say emotional eating in this case. We often get sort of lulled into… it’s a Danish word. What would you say in English? We almost fall asleep in this belief that society keeps pushing at us which is, you’re weak, you have now willpower, you have no self-control. And honestly, I find it as quite the opposite. These women are some of the strongest women I have ever met. They have just put their strength to use in a self-destructive way.
Andrea: Yes. That is definitely what I’ve seen working with people with eating disorders and addiction. It’s like, dang! You’ve got some serious strength and some serious power. You just directed it in a different sort of way.
Helene: Yes. And so that takes care of the fear. I mean, that takes care of the… and then the fear will pop up along the way. If we have a 10-week program, you know the fear will pop up like, “Okay, I’m about to change this way of communicating with my close relations.” That feels kind of terrify in but then we deal with it. We talk about it. I mean, we talk about the control, the perfectionism, the fear of the unknown. And all the time, I provide the tools you need to do it. This is not just empty talk, blah, blah, blah. “Go and meditate on this and I’ll see you next week.” You need certain tools. You just can’t let go of shit without replacing it with something else. We’re human beings.
I think it’s about the process. It’s very much about the process and the resources uncovering all these amazing resources that every single one of us have.
Andrea: Yes. I love what you’re saying because it means we can take our strengths and then just redirect them. Learning these new resources that you’re talking about. A new way to process life and function in life but utilizing our strengths. So it doesn’t mean that we’re broken, defective, useless, worthless, or whatever. No, we’ve got some innate strength and abilities and now we can just redirect it.
The other thing that you mentioned that I can relate to is this idea of surrender. Now I never had problems with emotional eating but with my depression, I hid it. I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with the whole world that I was depressed. I was a high functioning, very successful, I looked like I was happy on the outside but I was faking the funk. But when the times that I’ve been most willing to just be natural and be open, it happened once when I was at the pediatrician with my daughter and she was just a tiny baby at the time. And I thank God for Dr. Rossi was her name back in DC. Beautiful, beautiful heart centered woman and she just looked at me and she was like, “You are not okay.” like she saw the rue because I was basically just like, you know, I was depressed. I was sleep deprived. With this little baby, I’m like, I don’t want to break the baby. I don’t want her to pick up my negativity. And that’s when she pulled out of her roll of decks two names and sent me to a therapist. And that, it’s like you were describing light works or your virtual light workspace. There’s this safe protected space where we can surrender.
And when I went to see this doctor, that’s exactly what I did. I said, “You know what? At least in this safe, therapeutic environment, I’m a lay it all out there. I’m a tell them all the stuff I’ve done, all the terrible thoughts I had including the really dark ones that I was ashamed of. The ones that even scared me that I was having these thoughts.” And I just threw it all out there. And it was so… I was just telling my daughter one little piece of, not the whole dark story but one thing that I found is what you’ve just described as sometimes we have society telling us, if you’re overweight or you’re an addict, it just means you’re useless. You have no willpower. You just can’t get your S-H-I-T together.
And I had also internalized some negative voices. And one of them was just, you know, you’re not smart enough. You’re not clever enough. You don’t have what it takes to hold this all together. And when I confessed that, I remember this therapist looking at me going… You know, I think he was very, very good about kind of holding that non-judgmental demeanor but I could see his face kind of going like, “What did she just say?” Because I literally, not that I think I’m a genius now but at that time, I did not think I was smart. And he broke something down for me like, just understanding the way the world looks at intelligence, or the way I had been thinking of intelligence in a very one dimensional way. Anyway I won’t bore you with all the details but it made me understand that my resourcefulness that I hadn’t even given credit to was my strength. And if I could redirect those strengths and that resourcefulness and my intelligence – thank you, Dr. O’Neil, I could be better.
And so I love that you’re describing this sense of surrendering is not a matter of defeat. It’s a matter of being open and willing to take in some new information. Am I getting that right?
Helene: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I usually use the quote which goes something like, “To share your vulnerability is to share your ultimate strength.” And my life used to be that I have a pretty tough shell on the outside. I was pretty hardcore. I would, you know, stomp through the village and get a lot of stuff done. And if anybody said the word impossible, I’d be like, “What did you say? Can you say that again? Just try me. Say that again.” Because I would just push through, push through, push through. And then I would fall into the other dark side of the moon on that and be totally lethargic. I would be passive. I would be eating, eating, eating, eating, eating and not be able to do absolutely zero.
So I think the understanding that having a hard shell on the outside and a really soft mushy interior may sometimes not work very well for us. It works better to build, in my experience, to build a really strong healthy core and then be soft of the outside. And strong healthy core for me does not mean cold of heart. It means solid. It means resilient. It means creative. It means giving. It means just wisdom, your core wisdom is reconnected.
But I think what you just said, that story is really, really great because sometimes people will like, I love it when you meet. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of filter. I just speak. You may have noticed.
Helene: Has anybody noticed?
Helene: I just speak, you know, what’s important for me. And sometimes when I meet somebody who don’t have a filter as well and they look at me and go, “Holy shit. So you were that overweight? And you just tell people about it?” as in their instinct, they’re, “Damn! Aren’t you just like so embarrassed? Like you show them pictures even in the bikini? Like before and…” And I can tell they almost die inside just asking me about it. And that’s actually one of my keys also when it comes to the fear part that we talked about before right is that because I have been to such extremes on there. And I really have. I’ve realized I’ve been to more extremes than most people will ever go to but that is one of my ultimate strengths. It is that by sharing that honestly, openly and shame free, I have been able to look at every single one of my mentees up until now, at every single person I’ve met in this line of work and say there is nothing you can say to me that I haven’t either heard before or done worse myself. So you don’t got to fear nothing. I call it shame free talking, tax free talking. This is the shame free zone, baby. You can just lay it out. Anything you want to talk about – infidelities or fraud or crime. Bring it on. And that room, of course, releases. We are only as sick as our secrets.
Andrea: Wow! So there it is, you all. We are only as sick as our secrets.
Well Helene, I know that you’ll be back because we have some more stuff to talk about. What I’m really curious to dig into without like putting you on front street. I don’t want to, you know, dig up any skeletons but I think the other thing we need to talk about in looking at this all-inclusive lifestyle and getting out of abuse is relationships. Because I know you’ve got some wedding bells that are going to be played soon. So we’re going to have to leave it there for today however.
So first and foremost, I want to thank you for just being here, being who you are in the world. You know, raising up the consciousness of our friends and our tribe and sharing the love.
So first and foremost, you can get your book, your free e-book. It’s an e-guide, really comprehensive on what is emotional eating. You can check it out on Amazon. We will put the links in the description as well as at www.helenephilipsen.com. Correct?
Helene: That’s correct.
Andrea: And what other resources? Like you have some free resources that can help us right now. So if you have been listening and you feel like you have some emotional eating or other behaviors that are just edging towards out of control or they’re already out of control. Helene, what else have you got for us?
Helene: So important is that anybody listening to this who feel like they’re battling an unhealthy emotional foundation whether it comes out as eating or whatever, go to my website. There are two free quizzes. One is a free quiz on self-love which is about co-dependency and there is, I call it the world’s best which I often, you know, get comments from people called Andrea but I won’t go into that. I have a really, really thoroughly developed quiz on emotional eating. So if it pops up as something, okay, I recognize that. Take that quiz and it will give you a feeler as to where you are. It is totally free and it’s on the web www.helenephilipsen.com. So emotional eating quiz, definitely worth the while.
Andrea: All right. Well thank you again, Helene. And I look forward to our next conversation.
Helene: Thank you, Andrea. Thank you so much for talking to me. It was awesome as always.
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