Episode 083: Immunity to Change with Catherine Mulvihill
As nutritionists, wellness practitioners, coaches, etc., we can offer guidance, make recommendations and offer insights, but the ultimate key to your success is the mindset that you bring to the table.
Joining me in this podcast episode is Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Personal Development Coach, Catherine Mulvihill.
You’ll hear us explore:
What is the Immunity to Change
Why people feel stuck - what holds them back from making progress on their goals
Different kinds of challenges
How this applies to both nutrition, health, wellness and even business endeavors
How to uncover your unconscious beliefs that sabotage your successes using the Immunity Map
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Naomi Nakamura: One thing that I have come to learn in my work as a nutritionist, a wellness practitioner and a coach is that while we can offer guidance and while we can make recommendations and offer our insights, the key to your success is the mindset that you bring to the table.
In the last episode, Episode 082, we talked about how to decode human behavior and what it all actually means, and today, we are continuing this discussion on mindset. In this episode, I'm joined by Catherine Mulvihill.
Catherine is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, but she's also a Personal Development Coach who helps people who are feeling stuck learn how to break the cycle that they feel trapped in so they can get out of their own way and finally start thriving again.
Catherine helps people discover what exactly is holding them back from making progress on the goals that they deem important for themselves by focusing on how to better manage themselves and uncover the unconscious beliefs that might be holding themselves back and sabotaging their successes, so you will hear us discuss what is the immunity to change, and we'll talk about the different challenges that we encounter and specific examples of them and how to work through them using the immunity map. Then, we're going to discuss how this applies to nutrition and health and wellness and also business endeavors.
Now, as always, don't forget to check out the show notes for this episode at www.livefablife.com/083 for Episode 083, and there, you will find a special gift from Catherine to all of you listeners on how you can get started with your own immunity to change. As always, we will also have links to everything mentioned in this episode, so with that, let's get to the show.
Hi, Catherine. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Welcome.
Catherine M.: Hi, Naomi. Thank you so much for having me.
Naomi Nakamura: For listeners who may not know who you are, why don't you give us an introduction about who you are, what you do, and who you do it for?
Catherine M.: All right. So, I am a nutritional therapy practitioner and a personal development coach, and really, my focus is on helping people who are feeling stuck to break the cycle, get out of their own way, and just to really start thriving.
Part of my background, my education, was around psychology and sort of adult education, so I've been running development workshops for almost 15 years, and they were always focused on helping people improve, but it wasn't until about 2012 that I learned about this idea around the psychological immune system. I started to focus more on that and the concept of why aren't we changing even when we genuinely want to, and so, I was able to start incorporating this and really help others understand the reason that they were struggling to achieve their goals, and it was absolutely incredible.
So, fast forward a few years later and I actually found myself facing a health challenge. In 2016, I was diagnosed with Graves' disease, which is a hyperthyroid autoimmune condition.
Naomi Nakamura: I didn't know that.
Catherine M.: Yeah, so, this is actually something that led me towards my nutrition education. I started to understand the connection between food and your health and how much it can support the body, so that's what actually led me towards the Nutritional Therapy Association and to pursue that because I knew how powerful food could be, and I wanted to be able to help others to use this tool to be able to support their body and to rebalance. I was really excited about the nutrition, all of it, but I started to recognize that I had this other really amazing tool in my back pocket, which was helping people understand why they may still struggle to change.
So, I might tell them what they should start to eat or how they should change their diet, but a lot of people already know a lot of these basics, but they're still stalling. They're getting in their own way or maybe they can do it for a little while, but they just can't sustain. So, by integrating the two, I was able to start helping my nutrition clients to start to unpack what is actually getting you stuck. Why aren't you having the success that you really wanted to see when it comes to changing your diet?
Naomi Nakamura: That's exactly why you're on because in working with the number of clients that I've been working with over the past three, four years, is I found the same thing. I have a bunch of clients and people who aren't clients, people who listen to the podcast who I interact with on social media, they know a lot of the things that we teach in our nutrition programs because these are not rocket science things, but they have the same struggles like everyone knows sugar's not good for you and they might want to do this 21-Day Sugar Detox with a really sincere desire, but yet, they're not able to.
I realized that a lot of what was missing from the things that I spoke about, and I especially recognized this after the last group program that I did was that I really was not speaking enough on mindset and the importance of coming into especially a nutrition program or really any change that you're wanting to make, and that includes lifestyle changes as well, if you're not in the right mindset, you're really not setting yourself up to be successful.
I don't remember how you and I connected on this topic, but I remember we're on a Zoom call. I don't know what it was, but you were telling me about this personal development workshop that you teach called Immunity to Change, and this was several months ago, and after you told me, I really couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought, you know what, we need to have you on the show because mindset is so important for anyone especially when it comes to wanting to make nutrition or lifestyle or any type of behavior change. So, why don't you go ahead and tell us what is the Immunity to Change?
Catherine M.: Okay, so I'm glad that it stuck with you because that's honestly the experience that I had when I first learned about it. I thought, "Oh, my God. Why don't more people know about this? This is so incredible."
Essentially, the concepts, if you think about a physical immune system, so we have this incredible system that is constantly keeping it alert and trying to say, "Okay, is there a threat to the body?" So, if you think about our immune system, it is adaptive, it is powerful, it works under cover, and it's protective, so it is trying to keep us safe. If you think about, say, an autoimmune disease like I have, sometimes, the immune system gets it wrong.
Naomi Nakamura: That's essentially what an autoimmune disease is. It confuses the immune system.
Catherine M.: Exactly, so it's making a mistake, but it's trying to do a good job. It means well, and it's responsive because it sees a threat, and so, it's kind of swooping in and taking action unbeknownst to you. This is all happening unconsciously. We don't go around thinking about our immune system all day. It just does its job, and so, it's very similar with our brain. It's like a psychological immune system that is constantly scanning for possible threats, it is very powerful, it's really adaptive, and it's completely subconscious, so we're not thinking about these threats all day, but our brain is paying attention. So, any time there's a potential threat, it will swoop in, and it will try to stop us from experiencing that.
At the end of the day, really, it all comes down to fear, but we just don't even realize that this fear is there, so our brain is doing a lot of the work for us, but sometimes, our brain maybe gets it wrong because it doesn't have all the information. That's where this idea of this psychological immune system comes into play, is that when we're trying to take action towards a goal, so whether that's changing your diet and wanting to feel better, our brain starts to identify, "You know what, something might go wrong. There's a possible threat, so I'm going to stop this person from taking these steps and making these changes to their behavior because there could be a bad outcome."
Naomi Nakamura: So, is that maybe why we feel stuck or feel like, gosh, I can't do that, maybe not even just apprehensive to try something even though we know it can be really good for us?
Catherine M.: Absolutely. I think the key part to understanding the immune system is that it is subconscious. So many times when I work with people over the years ever since learning this, the entire idea behind this framework is to ask the right questions, so you can start to identify these hidden, sort of competing assumptions or these hidden and competing commitments that we have. We have a commitment to this goal, but at the same time, our brain has this commitment to protect ourselves. So, if one of the actions that we take can start to threaten our identity, so that's really important to understand is that we all have a way that we want to be in the world. We want to be shown a certain way and-
Naomi Nakamura: Thought of a certain way.
Catherine M.: Yes, exactly. We want to portray an image to others. If us changing our behavior might threaten that and maybe bring up what we call a dreaded image, so this version of ourselves that we don't want to show the world, then we will protect ourselves from that, and we will stop it.
Naomi Nakamura: Fascinating. I'm sure everyone who does the same type of work that we do will be like, "Oh, my gosh, I need to use this with my clients."
Catherine M.: It's absolutely transformative. The thing about it is that not everyone who learns about it necessarily makes all the changes, but just being able to identify consciously what's happening and the system at play, as soon as you see the system, it's really hard to un-see it, and so you can have a little bit more compassion for yourself because you can actually understand, okay, it's not because I didn't want it enough. It's not because I am just not good at doing this thing. It's actually because there is some sort of undercover competing commitment that is trying to protect me, and it's trying to do the honorable thing, but it's usually using information that's flawed. So, if we can uncover, okay, well, what are the beliefs that are making my brain thinks it needs protection, we can start to sort of push back against those beliefs and get a little bit of distance from them and maybe be released from some of these beliefs that are causing our brain to want to come in and do that role of protecting.
Naomi Nakamura: Can you walk us through the framework?
Catherine M.: When I think about trying to break it down, there are really a few things that are important to understand. The first key concept to understanding this framework is that there are two types of challenges. There are what we call technical challenges, and then there are adaptive challenges. A technical challenge is when you are actually missing information, so you cannot change because you don't have all the information that you need, so whether that is a specific skillset or a set of instructions.
A really simple example is if you download new software, the very first time you download it, there's usually a tutorial because you don't automatically know how to use it, but once you walk through that tutorial, you get a little bit of experience, you now have that information or you've got that skillset to be able to use and. Then, you would just start using it.
The second type of challenge is the adaptive challenge, and that's where you actually have the information, but you're still not making the change.
So, maybe you have this program, you know how to use it, but you just keep going back to the old one that you are used to. So, you haven't adapted this new software. I know that's a really simple example, but I think most people understand the concept is we know the information but we're still not doing it, that idea of the knowing-doing gap. We know we shouldn't be eating sugar all the time, but we're still not avoiding sugar.
So, that's where if you're facing that, you know better but you're not actually changing, that's where you're coming up against an adaptive challenge.
Naomi Nakamura: Let's stick with that for a minute. In terms of, say you're working with a nutrition client, what would be some technical challenges that they might struggle with there?
Catherine M.: Actually, a really great technical challenge is when a client comes in and they have some of these older ideas about what is healthy.
So, when someone comes in and they're using canola oil because they're told that's heart healthy, I can actually explain why a polyunsaturated fat is really delicate and that it shouldn't be exposed to heat and to light and that the only reason that canola oil that they have is so great for frying is because it's already been oxidized. That's a really great example of a technical thing that someone just genuinely does not know that they should avoid these oxidized vegetable oils and that they're not healthy. So, that's a technical challenge I can tell someone. Now, let's say someone goes back to their house and then they look around and they see the canola oil but they cannot bring themselves to stop using it, then that's an adaptive challenge.
Naomi Nakamura: So, how do you help somebody work through an adaptive challenge?
Catherine M.: That is where you need a new mindset, and that's the big difference. When you have a technical challenge, you need a new skillset, but the only way to solve an adaptive challenge is to actually change your mindset and-
Naomi Nakamura: That's some deep work there.
Catherine M.: That is actually, I think, the biggest thing that people need to understand because I think it's actually the biggest reason why we keep struggling and why we get stuck in these cycles, is we treat every challenge like it's a technical challenge. We think if we buy this next new book or if we pay for this new program or if we do the thing that my friend is doing because it works for my friend, this is us trying to solve this problem, and a lot of us every January, we have the same New Year's resolution year after year, and this year, it feels different because this year, I'm going to try this approach. We invest all this energy into these technical fixes, but it's not a technical problem.
So, I think once you understand that, that's your first step, is to recognize, "Oh, I actually have to change my mindset," and that's not easy work, but just recognizing that is actually so valuable.
Naomi Nakamura: I'm thinking of all the different other scenarios this could apply to. Why don't we run through some of them?
Catherine M.: I think a couple of really straightforward ones, like let's say that there's a woman who wants to change her diet to eating more real whole foods and understands that it's nutrient dense and she will feel a lot better, but she's got a family, and so, she has this commitment to change her diet and to feel better, and she genuinely wants to make this change. It's coming from a place of health and respect for health, but what happens is that she starts to come up against ... she's not doing it. She doesn't understand, "Well, why am I struggling to actually make these changes?"
When you start to dig into, okay, what is this maybe a dreaded image that I'm trying to avoid? So, one person who has a family might say, "Well, I don't actually want to disrupt the family dinner. The idea of disrupting what we have ... We've had a routine. We've had it for years, and now, all of a sudden, I'm going to be the mom who comes in and changes everything." Maybe another mother might say, "Okay, I don't want to be the one who has to say no, and my kids are crying, and they say, "You're such a disappointment.""
That can be different for everyone, but ultimately, it's trying to figure out, what is that dreaded image? What's that when you imagine people seeing you that way, it makes you really uncomfortable and kind of that gross feeling in your stomach when you picture being seen a certain way? A personal example for me is that when I discovered I was lactose intolerant, I still could not seem to quit dairy. I knew I would feel better, and I knew that when I stopped it, my insides were so much happier, and yet I kept eating dairy.
When I started to ask what is that dreaded image that I'm trying to avoid, that I don't want others to see, it became very clear, I didn't want to be "that girl." I didn't want to be the person at the restaurant who's asking all the questions about what's in this dish and what are the ingredients, and yes, can you please ask the chef? In my mind, that was this image I did not want to portray. I didn't want other people at the restaurant to roll their eyes at me. This was because I had a belief that if you're a person who ask these questions at a restaurant, everyone's going to want to stop inviting you to dinner, and the restaurant's going to be really annoyed with you, and all of these ideas that we can build up over time.
So, once I recognized that that's a dreaded image that I was trying to avoid, I could start to push back on some of these assumptions that I obviously had about what it means to be that person. Then, I started to recognize, okay, when I go to a friend's house for dinner and I tell them I can't have dairy, I can maybe bring something so that they don't have to worry about it, but often, I would find when I got to their house, they would be so excited because they found this dessert that had no dairy, and they were so excited to be able to share it with me. It started to make me reflect on, okay, what is this belief that I have, and maybe it's not accurate.
That's the whole thing with confirmation bias is that we tend to look for evidence that supports our beliefs, and we tend to discredit any evidence that refutes it. I had probably experienced this in the past, but I hadn't given it any credit that I'm not always the drag.
Another simple example for challenging a belief is looking at other examples in your life. If I went out to dinner with a person who had a seafood allergy, I would never bat an eyelash if they asked if there was shellfish in a recipe. I would never even question that they would say it to the server because, of course, they would, but how come a person who does not tolerate dairy should not be expected to disclose that? So, it started to make me sort of push back a little bit, which really helped me feel a little bit more freedom about this idea, and it changed what I believed about being that person. It just started to fade away.
Naomi Nakamura: There's a word that you used that I really want to zero in on, and it's the word that you said, assumption.
I can think of so many different scenarios where I went into a situation having assumptions about how someone would react to something much like the scenario you just shared, and it turned out not to be true. I did an episode on this about like a year ago (Episode 036), but it was really on how do we come to form these beliefs. I learned about that from one of the nutrition training programs I did a while ago, the Balance Bites Master Class. It really talks about mindset things there, and one of them was the scarcity mindset and how did you come to form your belief. I think this aligns very well with that.
I'm going to use a little bit of a different example here. You and I are both practitioners, which means we are both trying to build our side businesses, which we can get into that in a little bit as well, but working for someone else in a corporate setting for most of my career, starting my own business and being an entrepreneur was really exciting, but it wasn't something that I was necessarily skilled in, so there's a lot of technical challenges there, but there are also a lot of adaptive challenges because I had a lot of assumptions on how I thought I would be perceived by others.
The one thing that no one tells you when you start your own business, whether it be a coaching practice or a Beautycounter business because we're both Beautycounter consultants, is that no one ever tells you that there's going to be all of these things about yourself that comes up that is going to cause you to challenge everything you know about yourself.
I always say, and I firmly believe that the entrepreneurialship is the biggest lesson in personal development. Really, what you just described, I really had to go down that route of mindset and thinking about, well, what am I afraid of here? If the work that I do with my clients in my health coaching practice or in Beautycounter, which I've now tried to bring more together, if I really believe in it, why am I afraid to share it? It really came down to my own scarcity mindset and my own assumptions that I was projecting onto others that really were not true, which is why when you shared this with me, I was like, "Oh, my gosh. This can apply to so many different levels for all of us whether it be with our clients, whether it be with ourselves and just so many different situations."
Catherine M.: Yeah. I think that what you touched on is that you had some experiences where you learn some things about yourself that started to challenge your beliefs, which is some of the stuff that needs to happen in order for us to make these mindset changes, and so sometimes, they're conscious where we are actively trying to look at, okay, what do I believe and what maybe have I learned from other people?
You have those lessons, and so those can start to frame how you see the world, they can start to frame your assumptions about the world, which is really your mindset changing sort of in real time.
What happens with this concept of the immune system is we're uncovering these assumptions we didn't realize we were holding. By trying to tap into what is this dreaded image, what am I trying to avoid experiencing because that will lead us down ... Okay, if I think I need to protect myself, what must I believe about the world? How do I see the world if I think that I need to avoid having this outcome? When it comes to being able to make strides and to ... You said when you're an entrepreneur and you learned all about yourself, you are taking the things that you have learned from these lessons, and you're applying them, and you're starting to move forward.
What we're trying to do with the immune system is really helping people discover this more quickly and then actually take action to try and push back. Are these beliefs valid? Are these assumptions that we hold about the world actually legitimate because in most cases, once we recognize these assumptions and we start to test them, we realize, "Hold on. These aren't actually true." As soon as you start to realize they're not true and the foundation they were built in starts to erode, then we can really start to see progress because we're not restricted the way that we were when we thought that was a threat. Suddenly, this threat is lifted. When I lifted the threat of being that person in the restaurant, I was able to make behavior changes that I wasn't previously because I was always trying to avoid being that person.
When you mentioned Beautycounter, I think direct sales is a great example where I had this image of the dreaded direct sales friend, and I just thought, oh my gosh, I care about this company and about the mission, and I care about product safety. It aligns with my beliefs, but I so desperately do not want to come across as a person that people go running from that it really held me back. So, when I started to think about, okay, am I using a confirmation bias? Am I only looking at these bad examples of these people who I truly have run from in the past? Maybe I'm not actually recognizing evidence that refutes my belief.
So, I actually started thinking about times when someone that I've known or someone else in my community has been selling a product I was really excited about, like truly excited about. A good example for me, Norwex products. When I learned about Norwex products, I was like, "This is fantastic. I want to be friends with someone who sells this product." All of a sudden, I was not using the same criteria, and so that started to make me think, "Okay, hold on. There isn't just this one version." So, it started to cause me to rethink what does it mean. So, it enabled me to take on this role in a different way than I had before, but it was by actively seeking out information that sort of disconfirmed this belief that I had about what it means to be involved in direct sales.
Naomi Nakamura: It's funny you should say that because I actually have some of the ladies on my team do the same thing and some of my clients as well when they encounter these apprehensions or these fears that may or may not be assumptions.
I ask them to pay attention to themselves and see what makes them excited and what makes them lean on to pay attention and hear a little bit more about something and then, what makes them finally take action about something. That's what I tell them to emulate.
Catherine M.: Yeah. The paying attention, that is all about learning from our experiences, and that's the only way that we change our mindset is if we actually learn from the things that we experience in our life, and so often, we just kind of go through our day to day and we don't ever question what is driving our behavior, but at the end of the day, a lot of our behavior is often driven by fear because we don't want to experience something negative.
There's a really great example that shows up in a lot of people when they're working through these immunity maps. You're asking these questions, and you're trying to get to the bottom of, why can't I do this thing I really care about? For a lot of people, they're not making progress on something that matters to them. When they start to uncover the thing they're afraid of, a lot of people are afraid of failure. They're afraid that if I actually give this all my energy and I'd really jumped into this with both feet and just go for it, the dreaded image I have is falling on my face and being a complete failure.
Someone might say, "Well, if you're not doing the action, you're still not going to achieve the goal, so in both cases, you're not achieving the goal. In one case, you haven't done anything, so you don't achieve it. In the other case, you try and you don't achieve it, so why don't you try because the outcome's the same?" I would actually argue they're very different because if you don't try, you have a very clean excuse as to why you didn't reach your goal. Well, of course, I didn't reach my goal. I didn't try, but if you try and you give it your all and then you don't get what you want, it's because you failed. You gave it your all, and it didn't work, and so, those are two totally different outcomes event though they might, on the surface, look like they're the same.
What's going on there though is they have an assumption that they're going to fail, and so they're not actually acknowledging that there's a whole other outcome that's possible. You could go and try all these stuff, and you could totally thrive. You could exceed your expectations.
Naomi Nakamura: You could feel so much better physically.
Catherine M.: Yes, exactly, and so we have all this potential, but a lot of our assumption is like, "Well, if I give this a try and it doesn't work, I am going to look so foolish that I can't even handle that." That's the other assumption is, well, maybe if I do fail, I won't be able to recover or maybe people won't take me seriously anymore. A really, really common one is impostor syndrome. People will start to question, "If I give this my all, someone might discover I don't even really know what I'm doing. I'm a fraud, and I shouldn't be here."
That's another one that I see. It sounds really deep, and you might have something simple like why don't I eat dairy? Well, I don't want to be that girl. That doesn't seem like that serious, but for a lot of people, we have insecurities about the world seeing us exposed and being vulnerable. So, all the stuff that Brene Brown talks about that's so powerful, it's because there's that vulnerability, and so, it is easier to just not take the steps, and so you're not getting your goal, but it's for a very obvious reason, because you didn't put the effort on, but if you put all the effort in and it doesn't go well, suddenly, that's on you, and it's different. It's a very different thing.
Naomi Nakamura: You mentioned something called the immunity map. Can you share more about that?
Catherine M.: Yeah, so the immunity map is a four-step process that I use when I'm either running a workshop or if I'm working with a client. That is all about identifying what your goal is, identifying the current ways that you're getting in your own way whether that's doing something that contradicts your goal or maybe not doing something that contradicts your goal. Then, you start to explore when I talk about that idea of the dreaded image. The third step of the map is really starting to tap into, what's that uncomfortable feeling when you imagine someone seeing you in this dreaded light or when there's a threat to your image? So, there, you're trying to tap into that protective mechanism, like what are you trying to protect?
Then, the final step is really saying, "Okay, what must I believe about the world? What assumption do I hold that makes me think that I need to be protected?" Once you've uncovered that, you end up with a list of assumptions that then, it's your job to push back on, so you test those assumptions whether that's like me when I started paying attention to how my friends react when I tell them I can't have dairy or whether maybe there's a person who wants to start exercising more, but they are worried that if they start spending time on themselves, they might be seen as selfish from their partner. Maybe they just try and kind of dip their toe by spending a little bit more time but maybe not so much that they're worried that there'll be a threat. They can start to gather some evidence. They're acting like a researcher, and they're testing these assumptions.
Sometimes, it can be even safer like considering another person. Maybe there's someone else in your life that has no problem acting a certain way. Pay attention to them. What do they do because they obviously don't see the world the same way you do because they don't believe there's a threat, they're not stopping themselves from acting because they see the world differently? It is like wearing a pair of glasses. Sometimes, we don't even realize we're wearing glasses, so this immunity map is so wonderful, and it shows you the system, so it's like a way of taking off the glasses and looking at them up close. What prescription am I wearing? How am I seeing the world?
Naomi Nakamura: I love that so much. That's a really powerful tool to have.
Catherine M.: Absolutely. It's funny, I've told some people about this, and they just said, "Oh, my God. That's so powerful. You should write a book." I was like, "Well, there's already information out there," so I feel like one of the things I really want to do is to get more people aware about this, and even if the only takeaway is understanding the difference between a technical challenge and an adaptive challenge, I feel like I've done my job because I think that that can really make people not be so hard on themselves.
Naomi Nakamura: I was going to say I think that is one of the biggest reasons I wanted you to be on here and talking about this is because I see so many people who genuinely want to take action in their health, and they're not able to, and they beat themselves up. They think they're not good enough or they have that defeatist attitude whether they've tried or not. You provide such a great framework in this exercise in self-awareness and self-discovery about there's actually reasons why you may not be able to do this, and it may not be your fault.
Catherine M.: Isn't that the most wonderful message, that this isn't your fault? Naomi Nakamura: You're not a fraud. There are reasons behind this. Catherine M.: Yes. I think that, I want to say every year, we have countless people start a New Year's resolution, and odds are it's not the first time. They've got so much enthusiasm and so much motivation, and it's coming from a genuine place of wanting to be a better person.
Naomi Nakamura: Of wanting something more for themselves.
Catherine M.: Exactly. I've been there where you say, "Okay, this time, it feels different. This time, not only do I have the right motivation and the right approach and now, I've got this tool. Maybe I got this new program." What they don't realize is they're in a trap, but they have no idea. So, once you can step back and realize that you are actually struggling with an adaptive, not a technical one, and the only way for you to deal with it is to adjust your mindset and ... I mean, I make it sound simple, and it's not. Changing your mindset is actually a lot of work, and it takes reflection, and it takes introspection, and it might take falling down a few times on the way there but-
Naomi Nakamura: It's going to scary places.
Catherine M.: Yes, and it's worth it.
Naomi Nakamura: It is.
Catherine M.: It's so worth it, and so I'll give you a really simple example of how you can gain some distance from these beliefs in a way that maybe not even that complicated. I know I got into some stuff saying like, "Oh, people think they're a fraud or a failure," whatever. Sometimes, it's actually really simple.
When I was first exploring my immunity map around making more meals at home, why was I so resistant to making meals when I knew I felt better doing it, but yet I kept finding myself reverting to getting takeout or eating at restaurants, and one of the things I noticed is that I felt like I was drowning in dishes. Just every single night when I would start to make home cooked meals, I would come home and I'd have Tupperware from bringing my lunch. Then, I would make my meal, and then I'd have all these more dishes. I felt like it was a never ending trail of dishes. An assumption that I discovered is I genuinely feel like me spending time doing dishes is a waste of my time. It is not a good use of my time, and there are so many other important things in my life I should be doing that I cannot keep this up because this pattern of constantly being washing dishes is just terrible.
A test that I decided to do was to actually time myself, to set a timer, wash the dishes, and then check how long it actually took because if you had just asked me how much time I was spending each night on dishes, I easily would have told you half an hour easily, and it actually took closer to eight minutes. As soon as I timed it, that totally flipped how I saw it because, well, one, I felt foolish for thinking that it was so much longer, but once I realized how short it was and then I paid attention to how much better I felt when I just took control of that situation and just did them, and then all of a sudden, my whole night felt freer because I started to just change how I saw the dishes. I laughed because it just sound so simple, but honestly, for a person who's trying to make their meals at home, they might have a very similar experience. So, doing a test like that can be so powerful to make it seem like you're not stuck in this trap that just feels like you would never be able to sustain making meals at home.
Another really simple example might be people who eat out all the time because it's faster. Okay, well, have you ever actually timed how long it takes from the moment you decide to get a takeout meal or go to a restaurant till you finish eating and then actually time how long it takes to make something at home? I mean, a lot of times, it's probably the exact same amount of time, but we aren't paying attention because we have a confirmation bias. We just look for the evidence that supports our belief, and our belief might be that it is faster to eat out, but maybe it's not.
Naomi Nakamura: I love that you use these examples because these are actual real life examples that I have helped multiple clients work through. Your assessment of how it worked out for you is exactly the same of how it worked out for many of them as well. I want to kind of reverse engineer into this because for someone like you and like many of the listeners of this show, you have an autoimmune disease, and it is imperative that you address it through diet because what you eat and how you nourish your bodies and what you feed your bodies has a direct impact on if you're going to have a flare-up or not and how you're going to feel every day.
Eating out all the time, we don't have control over, going back to using canola oil or what is actually going into the food that you're eating. You have 100% control over that when you make a home cooked meal, but if you have this barrier that's preventing you from making a home cooked meal, that is going to be a big issue that has a direct impact on your health and how you feel. While that may seem like it's a simple challenge, it has a much larger ramifications.
Catherine M.: Absolutely.
Naomi Nakamura: Also, results.
Catherine M.: Yeah. I get questions about this. Recently, a friend was diagnosed with a thyroid disease and said, "I don't think I can do it. I don't know that I can actually cut out food groups." I was honest. It's not easy. It's not easy especially if you have a whole lifetime of these beliefs that you have built up for all different reasons, and like you mentioned earlier, you have a scarcity mindset. That is a huge challenge for me is that I grew up, for whatever reason, with a scarcity mindset around food. I think it had something to do with the fact that I had two older brothers, and so if you wanted some cookies, you ate them on the first day they arrive in the house. Otherwise, they're gone. That sounds silly, but I genuinely have this feeling of if I don't have it now, it's gone.
So, I had to really step back and watch myself, and I haven't perfected it, but I'm conscious of the system at play where there are times where I feel this scarcity around food, and I can fall prey to it because it's a powerful belief that I built up over a lifetime, and I'm still working on it. What I can do for other people who are asking me questions about, "Okay, how do you actually change? How do you cut out an entire food group in order to address your health?" because feeling better is not enough. You can do anything for 30 days, 60 days and feel like a million bucks, but how do you actually maintain that?
This is where every single person's going to have a very different approach, and everyone is going to have their own challenges. One of my challenges is around scarcity and feeling like I don't want to miss out on this thing because it might never come around again. I know on the surface, that doesn't necessarily makes sense, but I guess the point is that there's all this work that we need to do around our mindset in order to make a lasting change and in order to even picture being able to change our diet in order to improve our health.
Something I said to my friends, don't think of it as an eternity because you might not actually be able to picture that, but this person in particular, because she had had a baby and I said, "Okay, for those nine months, you made some changes because you were pregnant and you knew how important it was to make those changes for that duration, and picture this new diagnosis with your autoimmune disease like a pregnancy. So, for the next nine months, you are going to restrict some things maybe you won't have restricted before, but are doing it for a very specific targeted reason that is so worth it. You've done it before. You've proved it. You can do this, so maybe just think of it in a chunk." It's going to be different for everyone, but it is all about paying attention to all of the information that we get from the world because we're very quick to just dismiss any of the proof that we are able to make these changes and that they can stick.
Naomi Nakamura: Like I said, very deep but very relevant and powerful work. You teach this in workshop, don't you?
Catherine M.: I do. Typically, I run it in a workshop where everyone will work through their map together, so everyone picks the goal that they want to work on. We have some tricks for how do you pick a really good goal to focus on, and people will actually get real time feedback. We'll have them partner up and start to make sure, are you asking the right questions? Are you really getting to that dreaded image? Are you really getting this rich map that can teach you about yourself? I also do it individually with people, so whether that's someone who just wants to say, "Okay, this is the thing that every year, I keep trying to change, and I'm not making any traction. Let's explore it," or in my nutrition setting, I'll actually bust out a map with my nutrition client, and we will go through.
It's not always specifically food. Sometimes, we're exploring sleep. Sometimes, we're exploring movement. Whatever it is that has been a recurring theme and that is something that they truly want to change, making a change in one area of your life can also teach you lessons that you can take into other areas of your life. Once you start to see progress and start to, I don't know, prove yourself wrong in other areas of your life, it can actually flow and trickle into other areas. You can start to believe in yourself and maybe see the world a little bit differently, and it can be incredibly empowering.
Naomi Nakamura: So, how can people find out more about you and how they might be able to work with you on this?
Catherine M.: I have a website called My Happy Insides, which is actually sort of a tribute to an old blog that I used to have called My Angry Insides, which I no longer keep up, but once I started to discover the power of nutrition and that I didn't have to live a miserable life of always having digestive upset, I created My Happy Insides. It is all about getting unstuck and about breaking the cycle and really starting to feel your best. On there, I do have some information, and I've set up something that's just for your podcast listeners, so I will share that link with you so that you can share it with listeners. I've actually sort of broken down sort of three questions that you can ask yourself to figure out the real reason that you can't change. I think that's a really great starting point for working through some of the things that we talked about today.
Naomi Nakamura: I will have links to all of those things over on the show notes for this episode at www.livefablife.com/083. We'll also have links on how you can connect with Catherine on social media as well.
Catherine M.: Yes, I would love that.
Naomi Nakamura: I want to thank you for coming on the show. Like I said, when you first told me about this, and this is months and months ago, I was just so blown away by it, and it's really been on my mind. So, I'm so happy that we were able to connect and get you on for this episode, so thank you so much for coming on and sharing your time with us.
Catherine M.: Thank you so much, Naomi, for inviting me. I always love to talk about the psychological immune system, and I was happy to be able to do that with you today.
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Naomi Nakamura is a Functional Nutrition Health Coach. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, programs, coaching services and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop!
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