Join me and special guest, world-traveling chef and coach, Jessica “Jess” Condy as we talk about setting goals, why we’re driven to set them, and how we can be kind with ourselves while pursuing change.
Doctor Neha Sangwan: Today’s topic is going to be around navigating change — whether it’s a new year relationship, new beginnings. And I have a special guest, Jess Condy with me. Welcome, Jess!
Jessica “Jess” Condy: Thank you! Glad to be here.
Neha Sangwan: Yes, I always have fun playing with you. So we met several years ago in Bali, and the adventure continues. You, of course, were on a grand adventure as a yacht chef around the world, and now you’re at home. Is that right? You’re home for a little while?
Jess Condy: Yeah, I’m back in South Africa staying with them after 16 months, so it’s beautiful to be back.
Neha Sangwan: Brilliant.
I was thinking that one of the important topics people are navigating right now is really around starting over. When the world is not what we thought it was, or what we expected or change comes on us unexpectedly, or maybe it’s just a new year — and we want to set some new goals, new ways of being. Some people call them new years’ resolutions. I don’t really like that, because by the end of January, everyone has all this negative self talk around it all.
So, I’m curious how you think about it and how you navigate it.
Jess Condy: Yeah, I definitely think it’s been a challenging time for us all, and I think as we are moving towards the new year, it is time to have a look at that stuff and take a little snapshot of where you are and where you want to go. What are the things that you want to create?
I think looking back, we can often see that the things we did before really didn’t work for us. Beating ourselves into submission is not going to work, especially for women. Women can be so hard on themselves, and then they wonder why they’re not getting the results that they want. That hasn’t ever worked for us. So I think the invitation to be kinder and more gentle with ourselves and to do things that are actually true for us — let’s get rid of the people pleasing and let’s start doing what’s real for us.
Also, getting honest with ourselves — that’s the hardest thing we have to do is to tell ourselves the actual truth. This is the actual situation. The actual situation is like,
- “I’m not happy where I’m at with my weight.”
- “I’m not happy where I’m at in this relationship.”
- “I’m not happy where I’m at my career.”
Okay, great. No one’s coming to save us, we all know this. So we have got to do what Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to be.” We’ve got to start showing up for ourselves in those areas of our life, so we’ve got to start to look at them closely. We’ve got to take a good, honest view of where we are and take it from there.
What can I do to move myself closer to where I want to be? How can I take myself seriously doing this and not beat myself during the process of change? I think the negative self-talk doesn’t get us any closer to where we want to be. What are the habits and what support can we bring in, because we create our habits and then our habits create us.
Having the right support in place is so important during transitions, because it’s hard, it’s tough, and we need someone to be able to support us and to hold the space. Any professional athletes or most professionals had a coach to get them there. And we know that in the coaching world. People need us to hold that space, not to hold their hand, but to hold a space to help them navigate the challenges along the way, showing them their blind spots.
Neha Sangwan: Let’s talk weight loss. It’s a very common experience, a very common goal — getting out of a relationship, starting a new year, starting a new job, wanting to look good, feel good, all of that. One of the challenges that I find most is that when we get into a place of desperately wanting something to change, we go for the quick fix. The quickest thing that’s around — you know, “no ice cream for me and double the length of the workout.” Whatever it is.
I think the really important thing about weight loss is to think a little bit deeper around whatever it is you’d like to change. You mentioned a few pieces of this. In weight loss, looking a bit deeper can be around a few things:
- Food & exercise — what we’re putting into our mouth and how much we’re moving.
- Self talk — how is it that we speak to ourselves? Ultimately, then how do we feel inside because of how we speak to ourselves?
- Support — Who do we surround ourselves with? Jess spoke of support.
Let’s explore a few of these. I used to lead a workshop called, “What are you hungry for?” Because it’s not the food. It was really about when people eat at times when they’re not hungry, that it’s been driven by something else in their life. So they need to change how their body feels due to uncomfortable emotions, sadness in their life, or disappointment, which is all being fueled by that negative self-talk.
So why are these weight loss industries Nutrisystem, Weightwatchers, all these industries — why do they do so well? Because if this was about the number of calories you have at breakfast, what you’re eating at dinner, and the combination of it all — if it was solely about that, we’d have this figured out. But weight loss and food is about being in balance with ourselves, and the most obvious way that it shows up is in our physical body.
The physical space is how we are perceived and judged in the world, or so we think, right? And our body is also fueled by our inner world. I remember a few years ago when I had gained quite a bit of weight, sitting and writing a book. (Okay, it also happened a few months ago. Let’s be honest here.) I know that weight roller coaster, because what I have to get me through writing is a cup of chai made with coconut milk. The warmth of it, the taste of it can fuel me even when I get tired. So what’s your comfort go-to when you need to change how you feel inside? How do you do it?
Jess Condy: It depends what kind of comfort I’m looking for. But I’m a coffee girl, so I love a really good oat milk flat white — that’s my my happy place. I’m definitely a chocoholic, that’s my guilty pleasure. Really good dark chocolate, I love it.
Neha Sangwan: So I think something really important would be to first notice — when we say “my jeans are tight,” and it’s hard for me to button them. The first thing I notice is going from expandable pants and sweats to actual clothing, which reminds me that something’s changed even though I didn’t notice. I find myself beating myself up.
“What’s wrong with you? You totally lost control. Get it together, get it together, because look, now this is going to be uncomfortable. You deserve this.”
I can go into a whole negative self-talk cycle.
Jess Condy: Yeah, I think we all do, even though it’s something that I coach people on. I find when I’ve completely fallen off track, I’ve heard those same conversations in myself, and they’re not pretty.
Neha Sangwan: I’m going to propose a new way that we do this. As a doctor, I’ve decided to see the beauty in the body and its ability to expand, and so the new way that I speak to myself around weight is around having grace and compassion. Lately what I’ve been doing is saying to myself, when I notice this tightness or whatever:
“Thank you body, thank you for expanding to absorb the stress that I couldn’t. As soon as I can, I will take over.”
How does that strike you?
Jess Condy: I absolutely love that, and I think it’s so important for us to start looking at body image through different lens. For so long, we’ve just been hurting on the inside and not trusting our bodies, not feeling safe in our bodies. As women, in particular, our most fundamental need is to feel safe, and not being able to feel safe in our own bodies, in your own skin is a pretty scary feeling.
Having a different conversation with ourselves is so important, and it’s self-talk — that’s how we connect with ourselves. How are we connecting with ourselves in this process of discomfort and change? Because we are uncomfortable, we are getting upset, there’s pain, there’s past trauma, or whatever it is — how are we relating to ourselves and our bodies in that time, in those moments of pain? How are we relating to ourselves and giving ourselves grace and compassion?
Neha Sangwan: Also another way to start tuning in, is literally to slow down. When I when I’m craving something (a cup of chai, whatever it is), the idea that I slow down a little bit — enjoy the aroma, put my lip on the cup, literally feel the warmth moving down my throat. I don’t make myself “bad” or “wrong” for whatever it is that I needed in this moment of stress or difficulty. But it’s a way that I can be a little more mindful of it. Notice what sensations are happening in my body that tell me I need it (comfort), and then be kind, like I would to the younger version of myself.
I created this little paperweight of a version of myself when I was struggling, and it looks a little bit like me now, with the curly hair and all of that. Whenever I’m struggling, I remember her, and if I am the adult that in that moment she needed — how would I treat her? So as I reach for whatever will comfort me, I tried to do it with the angle of this younger self in mind, and I’m kind to her. I wouldn’t be mean or rude to a little kid who wanted something or was asking for something. So, that’s another way that when I’m soothing myself — I do it consciously, intentionally, mindfully, and I treat myself like I would if I was cradling that beautiful little girl (me).
So, for any of you that would like to create a new goal, a new balance that you would like to come into with your body — please don’t only focus on a physical level. Pay attention to the self-talk that’s going on in your head. Pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself about what has happened. Can you find a way to thank your body for its ability to expand? It’s kind of a miracle that the body can expand to absorb the stress that we cannot in this moment. What an incredible physiological feat it is that the body does this balancing mechanism and gives us feedback — we’re a little tighter in our jeans! What a gentle way to say, “Hey, knock, knock, knock, pay attention, something’s changing.”
Thank you, Jess! Thank you for your attention, your wisdom, and for all the women that you help in the world. And I think it’s time to have a little mindful chocolate as I sip some of my Chai.
Jess Condy: Absolutely. I’m gonna go and grab some gorgeous 70% dark chocolate.
Neha Sangwan: So beautiful. The other thing I would say is that I need less of it, when I’m mindful with it, because I feel more satisfied. You know that idea when you scarf it all down, you didn’t even taste it? Then you get the guilt that comes after all of that, which then makes you only want more of something to soothe you.
So let’s let’s all avoid that cycle. As we make our goals moving forward, let’s do them mindfully. Let’s do them holistically. Let’s pay attention to what’s underneath them. So this time, you not only reach your goal, but you change your relationship between the food that nourishes you, your body, and your self talk.
Any last thoughts, Jess?
Jess Condy: I just love what you’re saying there, and for me, food is the largest act of self-care we can do for the body. Do it in a mindful way. Slow down and get present in all areas of your life, and watch things change and transform. When you slow down and connect with yourself, and then you live life from that place, everything’s very different.
Neha Sangwan: Thank you.