512: Break Free: Defeat Cravings, Overcome Overeating with Dr. Glenn Livingston
This episode welcomes back a familiar voice, Dr. Glenn Livingston, the creator of the Defeat Your Cravings system. Dr. Livingston opens up about his personal struggles with food and how this led him to develop his groundbreaking approach. Together, we discuss his new book, Defeat Your Cravings, and share valuable insights into the process of making lasting changes in your relationship with food. We also share strategies for controlling cravings, defeating emotional eating, and finding pleasure in healthier options.
Ashley James And Dr. Glenn Livingston
- Food Industry’s impact on overeating
- Overcoming food cravings and addiction
- Stress response and defeating cravings
- Understanding the inner voice and discipline
- The importance of breathing techniques
- Things to do instead of overeating
- The negative effects of indulging cravings
Hello True Health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I went through something very interesting in October and that's why it took me so long to publish the next episode. I lost my voice for a few weeks and, as I'm hearing my own voice, it's not 100% back yet, but every day I'm getting better and better. So I had quite the adventure in health last month, which of course, included, like I said, losing my voice, and I'm very excited to compile everything I learned from the experience and I'm definitely going to be putting together something for you guys in the near future, where I'm going to share what I found out really worked.
So I was hit out of nowhere with really bad bronchitis. It was the weirdest thing. I went from totally fine to boom, 100% bronchitis, which led to losing my voice, and the adventure which was last month in my health journey led me to discover a few things that I hadn't used before. I used all my whole bag of tricks, everything I normally use, all the herbs and the homeopathy, the phototherapy patches which actually was the single most important thing in getting my voice back. I went from I'd open my mouth and no sound would come out. I put one of the patches on that, specifically designed to generate healthy new tissue and decrease inflation, and almost immediately I was able to talk again, albeit squeaky and a little gravelly, but it was really amazing to see how, just how fast it helps. So the phototherapy patches I was amazed by, as all my tools I use, but none of it was 100% helping me overcome.
And I really wanted to avoid the use of antibiotics for several reasons, one being that I am highly allergic to most antibiotics, so that is just not fun for me. In general, and, being the health nut that I am, I will choose antibiotics when I absolutely need it. But I wanted to challenge my body to overcome, and my Naturopath watched me the whole time and said yep, you're fighting it, you're good, you're fighting it, it's not getting worse. It definitely was a really bad case of bronchitis that came out of nowhere. It hit me so hard. It was the weirdest thing, but what I learned was amazing. And, of course, the whole journey is something that I take as a lesson to be able to pass on and help others. So I'm going to put together all the things that I use that really helped.
Now I have Episode 115 and I've done this a few other times in the podcast where I've shared the tips and tricks and the home remedies for overcoming cold and flu and supporting the immune function and also just making yourself feel better while you're going through the experience. So there's lots of information I've already shared, but I'm going to give you my updated version soon, based on what I went through for most of October, including some new stuff that my Naturopath had me do and it really helped, and it's not something I'm comfortable sharing on the podcast because it's pretty interesting. But I think what I'm going to do is compile a free course, just a free mini course to give you guys all my notes, which is great for anyone who wants to boost immune system and also help yourself when you are fighting something respiratory or when you're fighting, cold or flu. It's great to have these tools.
I believe in modern medicine, like I believe in that there's life saving drugs and antibiotics are some of them. But I also know, and I've seen so many times, that we overuse antibiotics and we tend to run to them first instead of helping the body fight the battle. So if you're like me and you're one of those people who really wants to support the body and fighting the battle and not wiping our entire microbiome every time we get a cold or flu, which can lead to so many health issues in the long run, including Candida in the gut. But also Dr. Joel Fuhrman talks about this I had him on my show before. He talks about this that there are studies that show that every time you use antibiotics, we raise our chances of cancer, and so we are damaging ourselves for our long-term health, our long-term gut health, but we're also significantly harming our immune system and leaving ourselves more susceptible to what they now call superbugs. So not to fear monger at all, but basically it's a tool. These drugs are a tool that we want to use when we need them, and we also don't want to run to them at the first sign of infection if we can fight it ourselves, and I have some amazing holistic tools that are scientifically proven to help our bodies overcome, which I did, and now my voice is healing. Every day. It's getting better and better. You should have heard me a few days ago. I sound like a Mickey Mouse, or Minnie Mouse if she had been a smoker for 30 years, which is kind of sexy but also not great for broadcasting. So I'm going to wait about another week before I start doing interviews again, but luckily I had actually done this interview right before I got sick, so I'm able to publish it now.
I am so excited to share something with you and that's a project I've been working on. I've compiled what I've done the last 12 years working with clients. I've compiled a list of health habits, of lifestyle changes that are so significant or so meaningful that they make huge strides in health. So if you want to increase your immune function, if you want to increase your energy, if you want to deepen your sleep, if you want to lower your stress, if you want to have more joy in your body and more joy in your heart, have better digestion all these things. I have these amazing and very powerful foundational tools that are daily habits, and habits are kind of hard when the at first right, because they're such a new thing. It's not one of our habits, right, so it's easy to forget or easy not to do. But I teach them in such a way that's fun and easy to implement and you see almost instant results. And by the end of this journey you will have all the foundational tools that I teach all my clients that really help them overcome major issues and feel like they're just loving the body they're in.
So I'm going to be launching in a few weeks my first book, which is more of a wellness journal. It's going to be the Learn True Health 12 Week Wellness Revolution Journal and in it, every week you get to do a new habit that I teach you. It's like a health challenge that you get to do for seven days and if you love it and you see a difference, you can keep implementing. Keep doing it. Most of these habits are things that are no cost or very low cost, things that are going to be easy to implement in your life and you'll see big rewards. So it's totally worth doing. It's going to be a lot of fun. And well, I think it's a lot of fun because I'm a health nut. I think you're going to think it's a lot of fun because why else would you be listening to this podcast? But I'm working on launching it so it'll be available before the holidays.
I think it's going to be a great gift for those you care about, those that want it, no matter where they are on their health journey. My goal with my journal that I'm publishing is that it is going to meet you where you're at. So if you're someone who is just taking their first steps into health, just taking the first steps into getting their health back, or if you've been walking the health nut path with me for years, both people will benefit from this journal. So it's going to meet you where you're at and help you build foundational health habits in a fun way that you get to see results and feel results in your body, and that's so rewarding. So you can give this to those you love. You can do it with your friends. You can even get friends or family or your sister, your sisters, or get your partner or your kids or your mom with you to do it with you. And how fun would that be. And it'll also be great going into the New Year's because I think January mentally is kind of like wipe this slate clean.
I remember just last January because we lost our daughter two years ago, and just last January I was at church and it was the New Year's and I just saw my hand. Just mentally it's like wiping the slate clean. I'm like I am closing the book on suffering, like I did my grieving. I love her, I miss her, I think of her all the time and yes, I get sad about it and I also feel tremendous love.
And what happened in January is I said, you know what, 2023 is a new year and I'm closing the book on that suffering. And It's just another day, right? December, and then, all of a sudden, January 1st, it's just another day. It's very mental. It's a mental exercise. It's not real, we made up these days. But there's something significant when we say January 1st, we feel like we can wipe the slate clean and we can start again and we can take on new challenges and it's all just your mindset, right? So I love that idea of saying you know what, I'm closing the book on those old health habits that no longer serve me. I'm closing the book on doing things in a way that's not serving me and today, January 1st, I'm starting new health habits that are helping me become healthier and stronger. And you could start it in December if you wanted to, or you can wait till the holidays are over, but either way, my journal is going to be amazing.
So make sure you subscribe to the Learn True Health podcast. Make sure you come into the Facebook group. If you're on Facebook, Learn True Health on Facebook you can go to learntruehealth.com and sign up for my newsletter. I send like maybe three emails a month. I promise I won't spam you, but I'll definitely be sending you updates as this journal is launched. And for my top listeners, if you are a big fan of the Learn True Health podcast or if you want to be, either way, I'm going to be offering a few of my listeners a book for free and I'm going to be updating you very soon on the details of that. So just pay attention, keep listening, because there's going to be a way to get my book for free. It's actually going to be a signed copy as a gift I want to gift some of you guys, and so just keep listening, keep hanging in there, and you'll hear from me soon about it as I launch it.
Thank you so much for being my amazing listeners and sharing this podcast and my podcast with those you care about, because together we are helping people to overcome. And just remember that, no matter where you are in your health, think about what you have overcome and what you are grateful for, because there's always something in your body, in your life, in your health, that you are grateful for. And think about the things you don't like about your health or your life, the things you want to change, and whatever it is. There are steps to change it, there are steps to improve it, and here on my show, I'm here to help you with that and my guests are here to help you with that. So let's turn this ripple into a tidal wave and help as many people as possible to learn true health. Enjoy today's episode.
Ashley James (0.11:38.719)
Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 512.
I am so excited for today's guest. We have back on the show with us, someone who is so near and dear to my heart, Dr. Glenn Livingston. He is the creator of the system, Defeat Your Cravings. You can go to defeatyourcravings.com to check it out. Glenn, you today are earning your frequent flyer miles pin, because you have been on our show now. This is your fifth time.
I just want to let listeners know about the other times you've been on the show so they can go back and listen to previous episodes with you if they'd like. Episode 56, all the way back when I was just a little itty bitty baby podcaster. Episode 56, you came on and talked about ending binge eating and that was like six, seven years ago. So lots happened. Yes.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.12:39.603)
When I still had my teeth and hair.
Ashley James (0.12:43.879)
Episode 231, he is gorgeous by the way. He definitely still has teeth and hair. He's just joking. Episode 231, you talked about willpower. Episode 249, we talked about the impact of eating right. Episode 423, stopping nighttime eating and cravings. But today, you're coming on the show to talk about your new system, which has been an evolution of the ongoing work you've been doing for so many years and you and your team have helped over 10,000 people, is that correct?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.13:16.955)
Well, the book has over a million readers. My Psychology Today column has over a million readers and we've had about 2000 paying clients. So, I imagine we've helped a hundred thousand people or so.
Ashley James (0.13:33.561)
Okay. So somewhere in there, it's in the thousand. So, but 2000 paying clients, you've followed their progress and seen them overcome and watch them. And your system has evolved based on working with 2000 people.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.13:52.070)
Ashley James (0.13.54.092)
Very cool. So I definitely want to jump into you talking about what is the difference between defeat your cravings.com, your new system and your book, by the way, holding your book right now. I love your book. I couldn't put it down. I've read your other books and they're all great, but this one I feel is, it was so much easier for me to work through the system and to look at myself and do some self-reflection and to set some rules in place. It's like a fine wine. You've refined it. And of course, after working with 2000 people, there's definitely something to say about your book, Defeat Your Cravings. And I want listeners to go to defeatyourcravings.com if you feel like food controls you in any aspect of your life.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.14:45.501)
You can get a free copy in the Kindle or Nook format there. Well, thank you, Ashley. I'm really excited to be here. We've always had in-depth stimulating conversations where I learned things too. And I've had you on my show, so I guess we're buddies. I guess we're in the mutual appreciation society.
Ashley James (0.15:04.977)
Absolutely. And you've really helped me through the years. And I don't know if you know that, but part of my podcast is that I'm on this healing journey with my listeners. I consider myself an expert. I've put in the 10,000 hours into research and working in the holistic health field, but there's no Mount Everest of health and mental wellness. Like there's just no like, Oh, I achieved it. That's it. Check that off my bucket list and I'm done. We're always growing, evolving, learning. And I just love what I've learned from you. And I've told my friends to see you and you're someone who I feel is so compassionate, so caring, but also will cut through the BS in such a loving way that you really help people just get to the heart of it and get results without having to do years and years and years and years of work. Like you just cut through in a very loving way. So I really appreciate your system.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.16:03.877)
I'm going to have to have you follow me around and introduce me everywhere.
Ashley James (0.16:08.013)
I will edify you. I hope to introduce you to other people for sure.
Well, for those who didn't listen to the other episodes, why don't you just give us the little tiny blurb about you so people can understand where you're coming from.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.16:25.755)
Okay. So I guess the thing to know about me is I'm not a doctor who just decided to work with obesity or, eating troubles. And by the way, part of what's different about the new book is it really expands to allow people to work with anything that's making them eat beyond their own best judgment. You don't have to have an eating disorder to benefit from this. But I'm not just a doctor that decided to do that. I had an awful lot of trouble with food myself. I mean, if you went by the Woodbury Country Deli in the late 90s sometimes, and you found that they were out of pizza or pop tarts, the odds were that I was there before you. I was almost 300 pounds and I was suffering, not initially. Initially, I thought I'm 6’4 and I'm modestly muscular just genetically and so I could get away with a lot when I was a kid and I was working out all the time, but when I got married and I got a little older and I was commuting two hours each way to see patients and I wanted to help my wife at the time with her business, I'm divorced now, but I wanted to help her with the business. I didn't have time to work out and the food started to catch up to me. And it wasn't so much the physical impact at first, later on it was, but it was more the mental obsession with it. Like I'd be sitting with patients and thinking, when can I get to the deli or when do I get the next pizza?
And to be a really good psychologist, which has always been really important to me. I mean, I grew up in a family of psychotherapists and I used to have my little friends come over and lie down on the couch and tell me about their mother and it was always the most important thing to me to really help people. But, I just found that I was a little too obsessed with food to be a hundred percent present. And thank God I worked that out eventually, but, I went the traditional route, and, I tried to love myself thin. I thought if I could heal the hole in my heart that I wouldn't have to heal the hole in my stomach. And I went to the best psychologists and psychiatrists and counselors. And I went on a spiritual journey and I went to Over It Is Anonymous and everything got me a little thinner and then a lot fatter, a little thinner and a lot fatter.
I learned a lot about myself psychologically. I feel like it made me a more compassionate, soulful, in-depth person. So I don't really regret having done the journey, but, it really wasn't until about 20 years later that I started to put it together for real. And there were three things that happened that changed my paradigm. What one was that my ex wife was traveling for business all the time. So I only really saw her on the weekends for the most part. And a lot of time into my hands, and I used to consult for some of the clients that she was consulting for, except in a different way, which unfortunately were clients in the big food and big pharma industries, right? I was on the wrong side of the war. Like I'm kind of like the Marlboro man later in his life when he felt contrite. You know, when I was kind of selling sugar all these hyper-palliable concentrations of starch and salt and fat and cytotoxins. It's engineered to hit the bliss point in your reptilian brain without giving you the nutrition to feel satisfied. And as I was doing that, I really started to see how much money and time and rocket science they were putting into engineering these concoctions, and it had nothing to do with personal psychology, like the fact that there are so many calories in such a small space for so little money in a package that mimics what we would see in the wild so that we hit those evolutionary buttons that say we really need that, advertised by, an industry which was spending an equal amount of money to make us believe this stuff.
And I saw there were, five to 7,000 messages per year beamed over the airways and the internet. But hardly, hardly anything more about just eating more fruit and vegetables, right? And I said, well, these are not psychological forces. This is not a problem with my mother having dropped me on my head or her mother dropping her in her head or, you know what I mean? I'm being a little silly, but it's not a depth psychology problem, this was a problem of industry where we're living in a society with a perfect storm for overeating and, overindulging. And then the addiction treatment industry was saying, you can't quit. Even if you want to, the best you could do is abstain one day at a time. And there's no evidence of that, by the way.
And in the meantime, there were all these fat cats and white suits with mustaches that were laughing all the way to the bank every time I'd look for love in the bag or a box or a container. And I said, okay, this is not necessarily an internal problem. And maybe I have to switch my paradigm to being the alpha dog of my own mind.
Maybe it's not so much, I love your inner wounded child, so that you can get thin kind of approach and maybe it's more so of a take charge and take no prisoners, tough love kind of approach where, it's very similar to other biological urges. Like if you really have to pee.
You don't pee in the middle of a business meeting. You tell your bladder that you're in charge and you've got some things you want to accomplish as a civilized member of society. And when you're done, that you'll take a trip to the bathroom. Or if you see attractive people on the street, you don't run up and kiss them. There are ways to go about these things. And actually, my way was usually to run the other way because I was shy. But, you know what I mean?
We're expected in our world to take control of our biology. We're not really allowed to say, well, the devil made me do it and I can't help myself. And we don't have to go to therapy for 20 years to figure out how, not to run up and kiss someone in the street. And so I kind of got tired of all the depth psychology. I loved all the personal growth, but I got tired of the implication that if I loved myself enough, I was going to be okay. And I think that was just a big distraction. Okay. Then I learned a couple of other things. I learned that the reptilian brain, which is the seat of, cravings, which is the seat of, food addiction, really, or any addiction that.
It doesn't know love. It looks at something in the environment, and its assessment is like a bad college drinking game. Like, do I eat it, do I mate with it, or do I kill it? I love your laugh. But I mean, that's what it is. It's eat, mate, or kill. The reptilian brain doesn't really care about your tribe or your loved ones or your romance or your connection. And it certainly doesn't care about your long-term goals or contributions to society, your spirituality, your art or your music or, your psychological growth, it's in an eat, mate or kill situation. And so in order to be the alpha dog of my own mind, I'd read a little bit of alternative addiction treatment literature and it suggested, this is by Jack Trimpe, the book was Rational Recovery, it suggests that you bifurcate your mind, that you separate your thoughts into two kinds. He was talking about drinking, so he would say there are the kinds of thoughts that suggest that you'll ever drink again and there are the kinds of thoughts that say that you never will.
And I thought, okay, so I just need a line. I don't have any trouble with alcohol or drugs, but food has always been my drug of choice. I said, I'm just gonna draw a really clear line in the sand. And one of my first ones was that I would never have chocolate on a weekday again. And that way, if I knew that if I was in a Starbucks and I heard this little voice that said, Hey, Glenn! You worked out really hard today. A couple of the squares are not going to kill you. You're not going to gain any weight. Just start your silly rule again tomorrow. I'd say, wait a minute, who's in charge here? That's not me. And this is a little bit embarrassing, but I said, that's my inner pig. And chocolate on a weekday is pig slop. I don't eat pig slop. I don't let farm animals tell me what to do. It's I'm actually a sophisticated psychologist and I've been all over the airwaves, but this is what it took for me to start to beat the thing. And it wasn't a miracle, like I wasn't better right away, but what did happen was that I would wake up at the moment of impulse. And I had the opportunity to make a different choice. There's extra microseconds. It's like I managed to pry a space between stimulus and response. And what I know now is that the brain really wants to automate the acquisition of calories.
That only makes sense. It's a survival response. So actually people who have stronger cravings actually have healthier brains. It's not a sickness. They actually have healthier brains. It's just that in the modern and food environment, those cravings don't really serve us, and so that was the birth of my recovery.
Over the course of the next eight years, and and it only takes a couple of months for people to recover now when I work with them but over the course of eight years for me I worked entirely with that cognitive operation separating my thoughts into– thoughts that wanted me to break the rule and thoughts that wanted me to stick to the rule.
When I heard a thought that wanted me to break the rule I would try to take a breath and calm down and then I would say, Well, how is that thought wrong?
Well, I mean, the way that particular thought is wrong, the idea that you could start your rules tomorrow, it'll be just as easy, is that the way the brain works, if you're craving chocolate, and you think, I'll just start my silly rule again tomorrow, and then you eat the chocolate, you've just reinforced that thought because what fires together, wires together, and you've made it more likely that you're going to think start tomorrow, tomorrow.
So if you're in a hole, you really have to stop digging and use the present moment to be healthy And that that's an example of what I would call a cognitive refutation We figured out what the pig was saying we figured out what was logically wrong with it. And what that does is It eliminates the justification in the absence of a justification if you make a commitment to a goal and then you can't justify breaking that commitment it becomes psychologically uncomfortable to break the commitment. Not impossible, but uncomfortable. because you don't have the excuse anymore. It's kind of like if it was previously a greased chute, now you've poured some sand and glass on that chute. You can still go down if you want to, but it's not really advisable and it's not much fun. And so that's how I recovered. But it turned out for me that there were a lot of things that the pig was saying. There were a lot of lies it was telling me.
I did it the long hard way because I only use these cognitive techniques and I hadn't really developed the methodology for flushing them out quickly, so I didn't have my systems available to me when this all started. It took about eight years keeping a journal. Then I eventually wrote a book. That book took off just around the time I was getting a divorce in 2015. I published it and it took off in 2016.
I wound up with a million readers and all these clients. Then over the course of the years, coaching those people, I develop ways to do it faster and better, still focusing almost entirely on the cognitive component, like how to fix your thinking about food, which is very important, so I was able to speed things up, but I started to see that there were things that people were doing where some people would do better than others. And they didn't have to do with fixing their thinking about food. It had more to do with self-care. Like the people who were eating more regularly and reliably and who weren't trying to lose weight really quickly, who were like prioritizing health and control over the eating more so than losing weight fast.
So they mostly would have three meals a day. They mostly weren't doing extreme diets. I would see higher levels of success with those people than the people that would say, well, I'm only gonna eat apples for a month, or I'm only gonna have one meal a day, or something like that. I've befriended many of the intermittent fasting podcasters and I don't dispute the medical benefits of it, but I just tell people that if you're struggling to get your eating under control, you should probably have somewhere between three and six months of regular reliable nutrition before you do that. And then you can go back and integrate it. So Ashley, you still there by the way? I didn't hear.
Ashley James (0.31:14.569)
I really agree with you about the intermittent fasting and actually that in your book. I'm again, love your book, Defeat Your Cravings.
I really want listeners to go check out defeatyourcravings.com. There's lots of great freebies. Like you said, you can even download the book for free if it's on Kindle. And in the book, you talk about intermittent fasting and I found it fascinating because I'm one of those health coaches who tells my clients not to intermittent fast at the beginning. And so many of my clients are like, okay, I'm ready to get my health back and I'm gonna only eat two hours a day. And I'm like, no, and fasting is really healthy and it's not healthy at the beginning especially if people have been eating more the standard American diet or processed food, but I love how you elaborated on that and explain that what you saw in your 2,000 clients that people who jumped on the intermittent fasting bandwagon, they ended up failing in their recovery or the recovery became much more difficult because they would relapse and they didn't really do the work. It's just harder to do the work and get to a place where food isn't this constant obsession in their mind or they feel like they have really great control over their cravings and their eating. And then later down the road, like you said, three, six, nine months down the road, when you really feel like you are at a really good place with your eating, then start to slowly transition into intermittent fasting and give it a try, but only when you feel like you're in control.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.32:55.102)
I think it's because you first have to normalize your blood sugar and get used to what it feels to be more even keeled. And I think you have to, getting a lot of the toxins out of your system. Your body has to do that work first. And also, when you get a lot of the processed foods, not my people don't have to give up anything necessarily. There are things in processed foods that turn off your ability to know when you're hungry and full and they mess with your leptin and ghrelin and the hunger regulating hormones and they really create cravings for themselves. And so, it's very, very uncomfortable getting off of those foods in the beginning. So if you combine that with
the fasting element that tries to speed up that production, the purging of it, it's more uncomfortable and I think a lot of people crap out because they can't get through that.
Ashley James (0.34:02.016)
Another thing about intermittent fasting that we don't consider, especially if someone has a blood sugar dysregulation, and you don't have to have type two or type one diabetes. Like you can just be like pre-diabetic or you could have metabolic syndrome or you could sort of still have somewhat okay A1C, but you could sort of go into hypoglycemia or you could go into hyper. You can still have problems with your insulin resistance and jumping into too quickly into narrowing your feeding window, your eating window, causes you to go into stress response. And the stress response then oftentimes will trigger our desire for comfort food, right? It's like our binky. I don't mean to like make fun of people, again, everything I say is because I've personally been on this journey. I am on this journey with you, but I have to catch myself. because like Glenn, you talk about how your inner voice is your pig. And I identified in one of our interviews, I'm pretty sure it was the Episode 56, that my inner voice is my inner brat. And I am like this total spoiled five-year-old little girl, like think of in the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What's her name?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.35:29.248)
I know who you mean. She went up having a big…
Ashley James (0.35:34.324)
She became a big blueberry! That's like me, this little brat, and she wants what she wants when she wants it. And so if anyone said to me, like, do you really need that dessert? I don't eat sugar anymore. I'm so much better than I used to be, but again, I'm not at the Mount Everest. I'm not done.
I want to keep getting better and keep getting better. But Ashley in the past would get very angry and I'm not an angry person, but there was just something in me, the brat came out and she's like, no, I want what I want when I want it. And now I'm gonna have two pieces instead of one. And it was really interesting to observe that and to them, like you said, almost like dissociate and become the observer observing the voice and going, Hey, that's not me. This voice is the brat, or for you, like it's the pig, which is great. I just love that because you call anything that is outside of your food rules that you get to create for yourself is pig slop. And and it gives us so much strength in the moment because it causes that pause. It causes that little break.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.36:47.443)
Because you'd wake up and wonder who's in charge and whether you really want them to be.
Ashley James (0.36:51.785)
And with intermittent fasting, it does trigger the stress response until you get really used to fasting. And anything that increases your stress response is going to have us be thrown back into that reptilian brain. And so that brat becomes louder, that pig becomes louder. And I just feel like it's we're shooting ourselves in the foot. As we're going through defeating our cravings, or using your system to defeat our cravings to then do stuff that increases stress. We want to do things that decrease stress and I love how in your book, you talk about how so many people have found that when we take just five minutes and anyone can take five minutes in a day or just even take three breaths, that kind of pause gives us so much more control.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.37:40.317)
So gosh, you said so many important things that I want to take off on, but let's talk about that stress response.
Psychologists might call this organismic distress. It's really the experience of something's wrong, I need resources. Maybe I need warmth or contact or food or water or sleep or space to think, but there's something wrong and I need resources. When the reptilian brain feels like that, and it is mostly a reptilian brain function, it wants to force you to be less discriminating with food. So this is why you get the screw it, just do it and response. And this is really what the evolution of the new book was about. The original book was about fixing your thinking with food so you didn't have the justifications. And we do that in the new book also, we took the best of the best of that. But the new book is more about, what is this screw it, just do it, response all about and how do you fix that? And there are a number of things that you said that I could take off on to help people to do that.
One of them is just taking those decision-free breaks throughout the day, because the ability to make good decisions, that's what willpower really is. Willpower is the ability to make good decisions. And we only have so much willpower in a given day. We can only make so many good decisions before our willpower tank is empty. And this doesn't only apply to food decision, it's that applies to- What do I do with this email? Do I delete it? Do I spam it? Do I delegate it to someone? Do I save it for later? Do I execute on it right now? Do I reply right now? Every little decision like that burns a little bit more of that brain glucose that lets you make good decisions later on. What are you going to wear today? Who's going to take Jenny to soccer practice?
It all feeds into it. And there are studies where they show that people have trouble resisting marshmallows if you make them do math problems before. So what we can extrapolate from that is if you can take a few decision-free breaks during the course of a day. Just five minutes where you put your phone down, you turn off your email, you take a walk by yourself, you go and you take some deep breaths and there's nothing to decide. Just five minutes, 10 minutes, twice a day, it makes a world of difference.
The other thing that can minimize the pressure on your willpower is using the hard and fast food rules. People have a lot of objections to using hard and fast food rules. They're afraid it's gonna stimulate their inner rebel, a whole bunch of things we could address if you want to. But the real benefit of it is that rules make decisions for you. If I say I'll never eat chocolate during the week again, that I don't have to make any chocolate decisions every time I'm at Starbucks during the week. If I say, I'm going to have chocolate 10% of the time and avoid it 90% of the time, that might be a great idea in theory, but how do I decide which is the 90% and which is the 10% and in the absence of a heuristic that helps me to do that then I have to make these decisions all week long and it eventually wears down my willpower. So one of the benefits and one of the reasons why people got so much better when I helped them to overcome their fear of making hard and fast food rules was that, they eliminated a lot of the pressure on their willpower because decisions were made for them. We had them make a list of all their trouble foods and only their trouble foods. You don't want to make rules about everything because it'll drive you crazy but you make a list of your trouble foods and you come up with hard and fast rules to define what role you want that food to play in your life. And it can be anything from I'll never have it again to I'll have no more than two ounces or four ounces per day, whatever it is. We have the good humor person here as we're talking, which is after a poke right. The ice cream truck is here passing by. Can you hear that in the back?
Ashley James (0.42:07.561)
Oh no. See your mic is so good. Maybe heard a tiny bit, but no, that would have been really funny if we all could hear that ice cream truck go by. That's hilarious.
Yes. Glenn lives in Florida where people eat ice cream all year round. I mean, I'm up here in Washington state where it's like 50 degrees. It's 13 Celsius for I have my computer set to Celsius. So I'm, I'm thinking it's in the fifties, but anyway, yes, we're not eating ice cream anymore up here. I love your thing about rules. Sorry, I'm going to interrupt, because you talked about how it's like when people object about, Oh, I can't follow a rule. You're like, well, would you rob a bank? No, of course I wouldn't rob a bank. Well, would you murder someone? No, I wouldn't. So if you think about there's things in life you've decided you'll never do.
And you know you actually you don't have to have willpower to do those things. They just become part of your character. And over time, these rules that you decide, not you, Glenn, but you, the listener, decide a food rule, then it becomes part of your character. It's like, I don't do that. That's not what I do. Like, I don't murder people. I don't rob banks. I don't eat chocolate during the week or something like that.
My food rule lately that I created and have been implementing is I never eat past 7 p.m. unless it's apples or algae, like a handful of chlorella or spirulina with my tea. I do like a golden milk, it's not milk, it's a type of Ayurvedic tea that has all these wonderful herbs. And I like to try to eat as early as possible during the day, not intermittent fasting, but I don't want to catch myself at night eating dinner, because I want to go to bed an empty stomach. And I also find that like the willpower, like you talk about, we run out of willpower. So it's like at night, if I'm hungry, the inner brat is the one making the decisions for me. Oh, what sounds good? What sounds delicious? I'm like, no, it's not at night. I don't need calories. I'm about to go to bed.
If I'm hungry, I could drink some tea. I could have a few apple slices or I could have a handful of chlorella and, or I could just drink some water and be fine. But that inner brat, if I don't have that rule in place, that inner brats like, let's make sushi at 10 at night. I mean, I love cooking. I love cooking healthy food. I cook whole food, plant-based. I don't eat processed food, but I can still over indulge.
I can overindulge a kale salad. It is ridiculous how that inner brat, no matter how healthy you eat, could kind of go off the deep end because you said like the brain really wants to secure as much calories as possible for our survival. And I'm not in a desert. Hopefully none of us are gonna ever be in a famine, so I want to be conscious of eating healthy, but also eating healthy portions that are getting the right amount of nutrients in me. And late at night, if I let myself just eat whatever I want, I almost always will eat too much. And so when I learned about your rules, it's like, yes, at first, there's definitely a part of the brain that goes, no, I'm a rebel, this'll just make it worse. Don't restrict me.
And then when you follow the rules, it's like, oh, there's so much freedom because like last night, I came home from volunteering at the church and I'm like, okay, it's seven o'clock and that's my rule. I'd already eaten enough today. It's not like I was starving myself, but already eaten enough that day, but I came home and had slices of apples and I was so happy and proud of myself following my rule. Instead of, I did not feel like I needed to rebel.
Dr. Seuss, that was his pen name. I don't remember what his actual name is, but he wrote about this, that in restriction, we actually gain more creativity and we gain more freedom within a set of rules. And he talks about that because he wrote his bestselling book. He was only given 50 words in order to write his bestselling book. I think it was Green Eggs and Ham. I'm pretty sure that's what it was, but he was given 50 words.
And he ended up making a masterpiece. And he said, it was within that restriction that he found freedom. And I found that by following your system, it gives me so much more freedom. Because like you said, now we don't have to constantly rely on willpower and decision-making. We have set rules up for ourselves that give us so much freedom.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.47:06.061)
Jim Rohn said that a life of discipline is better than a life of regret And I found that to be very true and there was a philosopher. I forgot his first name. I know his last name was a Bell Anyway, he explained that Freedom sits on top of discipline. It's not opposed to discipline so for example I'm actually a jazz pianist or I was 25 years ago. I wanted to be.
And I could improvise my soul and you would hear it if I was sitting and playing. But I couldn't do that if I hadn't had the discipline to study the structure of music and if I hadn't had the discipline to study the scales. So I know how to improvise away from that structure because I know where it is and how to get back to it and I know how far I can improvise away from that structure before the ear starts to hear it as noise.
And so that discipline has given me the freedom to express myself. You could also think about driving. It's only because of the discipline of the engineers that work it out so that when you turn your wheel 30 degrees, that the wheels of your car turn 30 degrees. And a lot of other things that the engineers, put into your cars only because of that discipline. That your radius of locomotion is expanding greatly, that you can drive all over town and even all across the country, all around the world without that discipline, you wouldn't have any freedom. So it's a mistake to think that discipline restricts your freedom. Discipline is actually the foundation, which enhances and expands your freedom. And I really think that life is about, as we get older, implementing new disciplines and then working on them so that they become part of your character because then eventually character trumps willpower, eventually you say, this is just who I am. I don't have a rule that says I'll never eat chocolate, again I'm just someone who doesn't eat chocolate, period end of story.
Ashley James (0.49:16.473)
I love that because the pig, the brat, that little inner voice that's always constantly, always ready to get us to break our own rules, right? That wants to convince us that discipline's bad.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.49:35.725)
Ashley James (0.49:37.235)
And so we have to get that like, what part of us doesn't like discipline? And is that part of us really for our best interests? Does it have our best interests at heart?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.49:49.107)
Right. And you don't even necessarily have to go that deep. At the moment of impulse, you don't have to be asking yourself, is this good for me or bad for me, or you don't have to have that, that in-depth conversation with yourself, you need to set up your rule so that you firmly believe that these are the best ones to follow.
So it's kind of like you do all the strategy work. You do the General, like a General in the army. You would be General Ashley when you're sitting and thinking through the rules and setting them up. But then you're Private Ashley when you're executing them.
Ours is not the reason why ours is put to do or die. That's a really good motto when you're executing the rules in the moment. If you want to put on General Ashley's hat again, that's perfectly okay if you think you know something, but you do that when you've got a full belly on the rules that you followed and you've got time to think and strategize and you're being rational about it. You don't do that at the moment because the pig wants a piece of chocolate cake or the brat wants a piece of chocolate cake.
Ashley James (0.50:57.358)
So let's talk a bit about the screw it, just do it attitude. I've seen that in myself. I've seen that in my husband. I've seen that in my clients. I've definitely seen it in Hollywood, right? Like mainstream media, like, Oh, you had a fight with your husband. Just go get that pint of ice cream.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.51:13.874)
Or on the Golden Girls when they went to get cheesecake, right?
Ashley James (0.51:17.361)
Yes. Right. It's this idea that tomorrow is a better day. And I love that you talked about how it over time builds the neurology of our brain so that we end up just always doing that behavior. We have to think about a behavior you accept is a behavior that repeats. It's not a one off. It's not a one time thing. How do we catch ourselves in the moment and like refute the pig when the pig says, screw it, just do it. You deserve it. We can start tomorrow. Why are you following this rule today? You know, life's been hard. You deserve the food you're craving.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (0.52:04.433)
So the first thing you need to do is create at least one simple rule so that you will wake up at the moment of impulse. If you're trying to eat well or eat healthy and you tell yourself, well, I really know how to eat healthy. I just need to do it more. That's not going to cut it because there's not a clear bullseye to aim for. So you're not going to wake up if the arrow is pointing away from the bullseye. So you start with one simple rule and examples of those could be, I'll never go back for seconds, I'll always put my fork down between bites. It doesn't have to be something that restricts a particular food oir it could be, I only have pressables at major league baseball parks or I never eat bread during the week, but on the weekends I can have two slices when i'm out to dinner. You need a very clear rule so that you'll recognize any thoughts which suggest that you're going to break it so that's what creates the separation between you and your inner food enemy, but once you have that, you'll start to become aware that there are things that happen before those thoughts emerge. Like, your mouth might get a little dry or you might get goosebumps or you might start sweating a little bit. There are signals of activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that gets us geared up for action. That's the part that says there's a little bit of an emergency here. Now it might not be rational, but we need resources. We might have to fight off that hungry bear. We might have to find heat or shelter. We might need to reconnect with the tribe. We need resources one way or the other. This is not a time to be discriminating about food.
So you try to become more aware of the activation of your sympathetic nervous system. And then you also become aware that between the moment that you first have the thought about breaking the rule and the time when you actually execute the behavior, there's usually a series of fantasies that ensue. For example, I recently gave up all caffeinated beverages whatsoever. I was down to just drinking decaf for a long time and I decided that I had to give up decaf. I'd done it before, but it was harder this time. And the reason for that, by the way, that was my blood pressure was still a little bit high, even though I was eating so well and exercising and not having any truly caffeinated beverages, I was still having gobs of decaffeinated. So I said, okay, I got to get off that. So I made a rule that I never have any caffeine whatsoever, even in decaffeinated drinks. I'll only ever have herbal tea or, non caffeinated beverages. And once I made that, I was aware that, my pig got very active, but I was aware that there was a fantasy that would ensue the moment I started considering maybe that was a stupid role. Maybe I could actually get a little caffeine, maybe I could handle one a day. I would think about, first of all, stepping away from my computer and stopping my work and getting in the car and driving about five minutes to my favorite coffee house and getting the coffee and I put a little plant-based milk in it and schmoozing with the people behind the counter who would often give it to me for free because I was there so much. And I realized it was just this whole pleasurable experience then I'd go back into the car and I'd maybe listen to podcasts while I was drinking it or I'd call friends or my sister or something like that. And it was just this incredibly pleasurable fantasy, even before I began to get in the car.
And then I learned that I could stop that fantasy in the cradle. I don't have to let that fantasy grow up. So I started to ask myself, what authentic pleasure can I redirect that to? Now, with food and drink, it might be something that's on your plan. Like for me, having an herbal tea with a little bit of plant-based milk was almost as delicious as the coffee itself. I couldn't really get it because they didn't have that kind of tea at the coffee house, so I didn't have the whole coffee house experience, but it was equally as delicious, and it would force me to take a little break as well. So I started to immediately recognize when that fantasy would start and I would redirect the fantasy to making my mint tea at home and putting in a little bit of the plant-based milk that I kept in the refrigerator. And so you can do that. You can try to catch the urge before it gets out of hand. Then you can also do a type of breathing, which takes you out of the sympathetic nervous system, and puts you into the parasympathetic nervous system. And Ashley you told me that you were going to add a piece of this-
Ashley James (0.57:12.645)
Oh, yes I'd love to. Yes So you discuss in your book the 7-11 breathing. And we had a little talk about how I teach something, very similar to that. But I add a few details because they've done studies around or observations around, Increasing heart rate variability. So they discovered heart rate variability, I think. I'm 99% sure this is how it was discovered. That there was a Russian cosmonaut up in the space station and he was sleeping, how they kind of harness themselves to the wall or otherwise they'll float around. Allegedly, I've never been there. Just guessing on how they do it. And they were monitoring his heart rate in space. And they started freaking out because his heart rate became what they thought was erratic, but he was sleeping and he's incredibly healthy. And they noticed that when he took a breath in, his heart rate was significantly different from when he exhaled. So like heart rate speeds up and then it slows down with the breath. So imagine breathing, especially when you're sleeping should be a lot like an ocean wave, very just up and down, up and down, just very gradual, slow. And the exhale is much longer than the inhale. And to recreate this, there's no pauses.
So we inhale for seven seconds and then we exhale for eleven. There's no pauses. So you inhale, count to seven, and then immediately begin to exhale, but exhale longer. Now, for some people, this is like eleven seconds is too much or seven seconds is too much. So you can start, because some people have never really taken deep breaths and their connective tissue, the ribs, everything is, it's sort of like you're at the gym, you warm up before you do stuff. We kind of got to warm up the back, warm up all the little joints, get the ribs going. So you might start with a deep breath that's five seconds and then an exhale that's eight seconds. And then if you keep that up, you might get a little lightheaded. So then you gotta slow it down. So take the deepest breath you can. And when you breathe, they call it the three point breath, where you first of all, soften your belly. because a lot of us, especially, I don't know, there's certain cultures which people don't care, but in where I'm from, everyone kind of tries to suck in their tummy and look skinnier than they are. So you gotta let your belly just hang out, just rest and soften your belly. And then when you take a deep breath, feel your diaphragm go down, feel your belly come out, like just give yourself room in your abdomen to let yourself take a deep breath. And then on your next breath, so do the same thing, let your abdomen go down, just relax, let your diaphragm go down, so take a deep belly breath. And then at the height, at the peak of the belly breath, now try to get a few more inches in by expanding your ribs. So now you're breathing like to your sides. You can put your hands on your sides and feel them move. And then the next breath, you're gonna do the same thing. Soften the belly, lower the diaphragm, really get that deep belly breath, feel the ribs expand. And the last part is put your hand on your clavicles, the sternum and the collarbones and feel them rise. So that's the three point breath. So it's belly, rib cage, rising of the clavicles or the collarbones. And that's a really big full breath. And then slow down in the exhale and there's no pauses. So you inhale and then exhale slower and you try to get to a point where your inhale is seven seconds Your exhale is eleven you could even if you're more athletic or you're just more practiced or as you practice this you can even get to a point where maybe it's eight seconds in and twelve seconds out you can play with it, but the idea is you're slowing down your breath, you're getting full deep breaths, you're not pausing between, and your exhales always longer than your inhale. And if you do this every day, you will increase your heart rate variability. And the exciting part about heart rate variability is it's one of the accurate ways that we measure whether we're in fight or flight or not. So whether you're in the stress response, which is the sympathetic nervous system response, or whether we've switched that off and we've switched on the parasympathetic response of rest and digest, of healing. This is the response where the body is able to gain nutrients from our food, where it's able to calmly make healthy hormones, healthy sex hormones, just healthy everything. The body goes into heal mode. The body is constantly triggered to be in stress response and we're seeing this in our food. Actually the processed food triggers stress response. Looking at your cell phone triggers stress response. Looking just at every aspect of our life is constantly triggering this fear. And we're thinking about things we're afraid of, even just thinking about things you don't want to have happen triggers the stress response. So we're bombarded with stress response triggering input all day long. And yet we've never really been taught or raised to perform a habit on a daily basis that intentionally gets us out of stress response. And this is why so many people are so anxious and have sleep problems and have hormone problems and have digestion problems because when we're in fight or flight, the body stops putting resources towards long-term health and healing. And it shunts blood away from the core, so we don't digest. It shunts blood away from the logic centers of the brain. So we have a really hard time focusing and concentrating on critical thinking and higher thinking. And we become more into that reptilian brain. Now, of course, we can override this. That's the cool part is that this is not, this is not like a life sentence. This is not like you're doomed to be controlled by the reptilian brain. This is just what happens if you're not the one driving the bus.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (1:04:03.682)
Well, and the exciting thing is that you can drive the bus. The exciting thing is that the first step is awareness, but once you have the awareness, you can start with a simple breath out for longer than you're breathing without any pauses. So you can push yourself into the parasympathetic nervous system and then you have a lot of options.
See, then you've really pried yourself apart from the automatic loop that the brain really wants to set up in the acquisition of calories. And I have to admit, I didn't know everything that Ashley was just saying now. She just schooled me a little bit.
Ashley James (1:04:41.618)
Well, I love learning from you, so it's mutual.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (1:04:45.094)
What I would tell people is, think of it like this. If you were running from a hungry bear, you wouldn't have time to breathe out for longer than you breathed in. You'd be going, “Hh–Hh-Hh-Hh-Hh”, because there was an emergency. And so it only makes sense that when you can breathe in slowly and breathe out for longer without pausing, that your brain says, there ain't no hungry bear around. I guess we can work on your strategic rules and your weight loss and all those other things. So that's how you open up the window where you can do things. Often that's enough. Then you can remove the justification we talked about that.
Ashley James (1:05:31.226)
Oh, I want to just jump in right here because I think some people's pig or inner brat might've just said to them, it's not enough. The breathing is not enough. You will always go back to eating the foods. And this is what I love about your book is that it helps us to identify that the second we start on our path of gaining control, that pig, that inner voice is constantly telling us we can't do it.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (1:05:59.902)
That you're in a pig. No self-respecting pig will let you get away with just learning how to stop eating because you started breathing. There's no self-respecting in a pig that's not going to put up a fight. But we're wired to be superior to the reptilian brain, the neocortex.
Part of its function is to delay the gratification of impulse because it turned out to be a survival advantage to be able to do that. So the neocortex and even the mammalian brain, it's layered above the reptilian brain. Reptilian brain is really in the brainstem. So, we have the advantage of tens of millions of years of evolution on our side. And by the way, some people make the creationism argument and say, this wouldn't work for them. It doesn't matter if God put it there or if this is just something that evolved, that the bottom line is we are wired with the ability to, inhibit the reptilian brand. I think it's even in the Bible sometime, like there's no temptation that I haven't given you the capacity to resist. I'm not an expert with that, but so once you have that space, you can look very specifically at what your pig is saying and disempower it. That's fixing your thinking. You can ask yourself, what do I authentically need nutritionally? Sometimes this scruge occur because you're genuinely hungry. Maybe you had a skimpy breakfast. Maybe, it's been too long between lunch and dinner.
I know that for me, I started having kale and banana smoothies when I would have chocolate cravings. So the pig will present to you that your only options are to white knuckle it and starve without the chocolate or else to really indulge and go to town. But the truth is you have a lot of other options. You could get the energy in another form, right? And for me, that was the kale, I think it was the energy and also the minerals and the kale banana smoothie and then kale celery also helped. Sometimes you just need a break, we talked about that. Sometimes you need some human contact. We're a pack animal and we get a little bit frightened. We experience that organismic distress when we are separated from the tribe for too long. So we can tolerate it for a certain amount of time. But if we really don't know where I try this, then, sometimes we really need that attention. So you can ask yourself what you authentically need and you can remind yourself that, you do deserve some pleasure in your life. Your pig will say the only pleasure you can get is from the slop, but I've got a long list of things. I like to watch movies. I have a long list of movies that I could watch again if I want to be happy. I like to take a walk on the beach. I arrange my life so that I'm right by the beach. I like to look at old pictures of my dogs and friends and family and kind of reminisce about things. There's a long list of things that give me a little dopamine hit that I like to do. And you're entitled to some pleasure like that during the day. So you can make a long list of things that would give you some pleasure, take a break from the rat race. And, it's kind of interesting. People will give themselves permission to take a break to go get a chocolate bar, but they won't give themselves permission to just take a break.
Ashley James (1:09:46.159)
Actually, I have a list right here. I made this list. Yes. So you can hear it. It's my list. I made this, this was years ago, probably right around the time that you and I did our first interview together and I had it up on my fridge and that was two fridges ago, cause I've moved twice since. And I just found it as I was going through some boxes. because I had it up on two fridges ago for about seven years or so, just under seven years.
Things to do instead of overeat, which was the title of it. But overeat for me could also be considered, because it wasn't like I sat there and ate 20 servings, right? For me, overeating could be, I had one serving, I'm full, but then I went back for half a serving more. Like for me, that's like anything beyond what I actually needed was an overindulgence trying to find pleasure in food. And, I think you can definitely find pleasure in healthy food. And then there's that responsibility of like, okay, I'm full. Anything beyond this is just gluttony, right? Or for me, overeating might be categorized as, the screw it, just do it, just eat what you want or eat what you're craving. So here was my list. Drink water, listen to music, adult coloring, which is surprisingly fun. Clean the house, which I know that doesn't sound fun, but you can get a dopamine hit from like decluttering an area or organizing area. We just did the bedroom this weekend and every time I walk in the bedroom I feel so good. And then when I declutter and organize the bathroom for like a week, every time I go in the bathroom, I get a dopamine hit. because I'm like, Oh yes, we re reorganize the bathroom. This looks so good. So cleaning in the moment doesn't sound fun, but once you start putting on some music, once you declutter an area, for days later, you get these pleasure hits from the accomplishment. And that feels really great.
Sauna. because I've got it. Here's my- (knocks at portable sauna) Can you hear that? That's my Sunlighten Sauna right beside me in the office. Soak in magnesium. The livingthegoodlifenaturally.com. I just got to do the plug coupon code LTH. My favorite is to soak in magnesium. That gets you out of the stress response. And you could be reading a book or watching TV or listening to music or being in a sauna while soaking in magnesium. So that's usually what I would do. Take a bath, walk outside.
There are some water stains, so I don't see what these are, but let's see, exercise.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:12:27.564)
What is adult coloring?
Ashley James (1:12:30.357)
Oh, adult coloring, it's coloring books for adults. Don't knock it till you try it.
Go on Amazon and just type in, adult coloring book and you could do kid coloring books but the adult coloring books are like mandalas or way more like detailed. I have some that are like Bible verses and yes. And you can, I mean, you could use paint or pencils, color pencils, you could use crayons if you wanted to like get out your inner child.
You could just grab the book and do it for five minutes. The only decisions you'd be making are like what color goes where, but it's very calming. The whole world kind of melts away and you're just staring at this piece of paper and filling it with color. And it is surprisingly calming. Then as you're doing it, you're like, I'm gonna give it to this friend or I'm gonna put it on the fridge, cause why not? Yes, I'm gonna, why not? Let's see.
You could give yourself a massage or go get a massage. Do some goal visualization. Play with a child or a pet. I wrote play with our son or play with a niece or nephew or something. I wrote Marie Kondo. Yes. Well, the list, I'm not even halfway done the list. I don't know if you want to hear all of it, but I sat down and I wanted to fill a piece of paper with every activity I could do to gain pleasure instead of, eat food for pleasure. My thing is I will get pleasure out of the healthy food I eat and the healthy portions I eat. And my inner brat or the inner pig will constantly tell me that I could never get pleasure from healthy food and I could never get pleasure from healthy portions. And to sit down and write this out, that inner pig would be screaming like, you have to eat, you have to eat the chocolate or you have to eat the whatever you're overindulging in. And by writing this huge list with like the page is full, it's 39 things, once you write this list, it's like, yes, and I'm sure I could come up with even more activities that I could do to gain pleasure. And what's great is that it's way more pleasure to do these things than to say, screw it, I'm just going to give into the craving. Because for some people, for days after they binge or after they give into that craving, they feel horrible. They feel horrible about themselves. They might have eaten food that made them feel bad.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (1:15:16.160)
Most people do.
Ashley James (1:15:17.442)
Yes, they beat themselves up and they're no better off. And I love that in your book, you talk about how there's actually studies that show that when you indulge in the craving, the pig lied to you and said, this is going to give you pleasure. It actually doesn't. We think it will, but it just shows that when they did tests, they found that it didn't increase pleasure. And in fact, in a lot of cases, it increased stress and decreased pleasure.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:15:47.371)
Well, and it decreases your ability to get pleasure from the natural pleasures in life. Like if you have a chocolate bar every day, your taste buds and your dopamine response down regulates as if you've been sleeping under a subway, and you can't hear the subway anymore after a while. And you won't taste the natural pleasures in fruit and vegetables and, fish or meat. You won't taste the natural pleasures in food after a while. And that's why so many people feel trapped.
When you listen to the pig's interpretation, that the only viable pleasure is slop. You know, these concentrated forms of all the things we talked about. And you ingest that every day. Your nervous system has to downregulate it. It can't respond the way that it's supposed to respond because it's a supersized stimulus. And so over time it downgrades its response the same way that your hearing would downgrade its response if you're sleeping underneath the subway. And because it's downgraded the response you can actually get to the point where chocolate doesn't feel pleasurable anymore. It just you kind of feel like you need it to feel normal.
I was just looking at some research on this, that it does generalize to a type of, depressive mood, this thymic mood, and even the inability to think logically as well as you did before you went through this.
Ashley James (01:17:29.176)
This is so important because we see that porn, pornography, when people first start out, largely men, but I think women, there's a percentage of women that watch porn, when they watch porn and they ejaculate or they have an orgasm, that first few times.
It's a huge dopamine, like just massive dopamine, and then it crashes for two weeks. There's a dopamine low for two weeks, and people often will then chase that high. And like you said, it desensitizes to the point where they have to go for more and more extreme porn and find just more and more extreme things to participate in or visually participate in order to even accomplish the same or try to chase that high, I accomplish the same pleasure they got the initial time. Like you said, chocolate, the first bite of that chocolate wedding cake is going to give you the most pleasure and every other bite after that will be less. But yet we'll eat the whole piece because we're chasing the high, we're trying to get back to the first fun thing. And that's what a lot of people describe meth, for example, their first or second time doing meth was amazing. And every other time they did it was just trying to get back to the pleasure they got the first time, but they were always dissatisfied. There's a study about obese people and naturally thin people when it came to expectations around food and pleasure. So they like hooked them up to brain scans and did whatever they did to figure this out. But obese people will think about or obsess about food, think about their meal that's coming up and think about the pleasure they're going to get, like sitting there going, I can't wait to get the pizza, I'm gonna go to Costco and get a whole pizza or whatever it is, like whatever food, insert food that you are daydreaming about.
And they're thinking about the pleasure they are going to get, but when they actually sit down to get it, they are disappointed. They do not achieve the amount of pleasure that they expected to. Whereas skinny people, naturally skinny people hardly ever obsess about or think about the food or the pleasure they're going to get from food. And yet when they eat, they actually experience way more pleasure than the obese people do. And that described my life so accurately, it really shook me because at the time I read that study, I hadn't become conscious of just how much I thought about food and obsessed about and thought about the pleasure I will be receiving from food and the disappointment that when I ate it and then the chasing the high and trying to find more and more pleasurable foods in order to find that high. And it is such a frustrating and disappointing journey to be stuck on.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:20:28.375)
Yes. But the good news is that there's also a phenomenon called upregulation. And so that if you're having a chocolate bar every day and you stop doing that, or maybe you go back to once a week or something like that, your taste bud and your dopamine response system, upregulates to the point that I think it doubles in six to eight weeks.
You don't have to believe me about this. You just have to try it. But before you know it, you are tasting the natural differences between different types of apples or vegetables, or, you're able to garner pleasure from more things that nature had to offer. So it's not all doom and gloom.
Ashley James (01:10:23.915)
No, yes, no, absolutely. Well, this is why I learned so much from you is that when I had cut sugar out many years ago, probably around Episode 56, somewhere around there, I had a whole episode about doing a 30-day challenge, no sugar, and I was blown away by how much sugar is hidden in our food. We have like a Whole Foods sort of and I sat there and even though it's a healthier store They say there's no GMOs and they have a list of things that they will never have their food. Almost every single hot sauce had some form of sugar in it and I was really blown away by that. That it's very hard to find an oil-free hot sauce with no sugar. And it's even impossible to find a salt-free, oil-free, sugar-free hot sauce. So I just ended up, I mostly make my own for the, for the most part.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:22:07.278)
I found one last week. I've had the same problem. It's called Melange of Peppers and it's from Whole Foods. It's a little expensive, but I was looking, I eat salt oil and starch free also. And it's called Melange of Peppers. It's really good actually.
Ashley James (01:22:28.260)
Nice. Well, just to prove my point, I went through every single thing I ate, looked through the ingredients, which I, at the time, was still eating some processed foods, so you still have to read ingredients, and it would annoy my husband because we'd go in to grocery shop and spend 90 minutes reading labels. But you have to be a food detective, and I just was blown away at how much sugar is hidden in our food, and also, it might not say sugar, it might say maltodextrin or fructose, or there's over 20 words that means added sugar.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:23:00.078)
Actually, when I work with people to make a sugar rule, I'll tell them that it's usually not sufficient to say, like I will only have sugar once a week or I'll never have sugar again. You need to make an inclusive rule rather than an exclusive rule. What that means is you say the only sweet tastes that I'll ever eat again are X, Y, and Z. Like, for me, it's whole fruit and berries. For other people, it might be whole fruit, berries, and honey in my tea or whole fruit berries, whatever. I mean, I'm not preaching you have to do any particular thing, but if you make a list of the sweet tastes that you will eat, as opposed to those that you won't eat, then your pig is not gonna fool you about all those other words.
Ashley James (01:23:41.738)
Yes, but you have to know the words in order to avoid them, because then you accidentally eat sugar because there it says maltodextrin and you didn't know that was sugar, as an example.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:23:50.646)
Oh yes, and in all sorts of savory foods, there's a lot of added sugar too. Yes
Ashley James (01:23:55.382)
Yes, it's just wild. So when I gave up sugar, which I was a sugar holic, I loved it. And it's been years. I talk about upregulation. First of all, I don't even enjoy it. If you talked to Ashley 10 years ago, she'd be like, who are you? I don't even get pleasure from it. It's sickly sweet.
And when I eat an apple, I have to put cinnamon on it just to dull down the intensity of the sweetness. It's just apples alone are too sweet to me. But now when I taste kale, like there's a burst of flavor. When I eat fruits and vegetables there's a burst of flavor I did not experience 10 years ago. So you talk about upregulation, it is possible, and that's why it's so exciting that you can get such pleasure from healthy foods. I still though have to separate and put a pause in between me and that brat or that pig, because that that it still comes out, especially in the screw it, just do it. If like it's really late in the day and I'm hungry and I've been really busy, oh, just order in or just get takeout or just let's just go to restaurant or just let's just get X, Y, and Z.
And that is such an easy trap to fall in. Let's just go through the drive-through, right? Like so many people fall into that trap of processed food that's fast food or easy food, because the pig says, you're tired, you've worked a long day. This is so much easier, let's just do this.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:25:28.904)
There are a few other things that we've learned in the last eight years that make the new book different than the old book. Do you think I could mention a couple of them?
Ashley James (01:25:36.813)
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:25:38.019)
The first one is that overeating isn't a unitary habit. It's a collection of habits. And in order to really overcome it, you need to make a list of those habits and extinguish them one by one. So for example, suppose that you want to give up pizza. Suppose you're just eating way too much pizza and you need to give it up. I'm not saying you have to do that. Two out of three people will be able to moderate it, but let's say you need to give it up. And let's say you've developed a habit of stopping at a pizzeria on the way home from work at your new job. You just moved to a new city and every time on the way home from work, you stop at the pizzeria. And so you say to yourself, I will never eat pizza again. And you drive past the pizzeria and you feel the cravings and you do a lot of the things we talk about and your pig will say a bunch of stuff. Oh, come on. You could start tomorrow. You worked out hard enough. A couple of bites are not going to hurt a couple of slices, whatever it's going to say. And you disempower that and you do your breathing and all other things we talked about. And then about 30 days later, you probably should not be too bothered by the pizza cravings anymore. Research shows that somewhere around 20 to 30 exposures without rewarding the craving is what it takes. So you, right? So you have the pizza place as the stimulus as you're passing by, you don't go in, your brain tries to get you going, but you don't go in and eventually, your brain will label that craving as dormant because it no longer wants to waste energy on things that you're not going to do. Remember the brain's job is to acquire calories and automate the acquisition of calories.
So it will label that learning as dormant. That means if you do it again, it will wake it up pretty quickly, but it's not gonna bother you about it after about somewhere between 20 and 30 days. Well, then you find all of a sudden that you go to your mom's place and you're playing bridge with her and the girls. And you and your mom are accustomed to having pizza every time you go to the place and play bridge with her and the girls and you get this incredible craving and it's hard to resist and you go to time on the pizza. Well, what a lot of people do at that point is they say this is too hard, I failed. But you didn't fail. You succeeded in extinguishing the pizza place as a signal for pizza. You didn't make a plan to extinguish your mom's bridge game as a stimulus for pizza. And for most cravings, there are usually about 70 to 80 percent of the problem is tied to one particular stimulus. So you can make tremendous progress by just working on one thing But there are infrequent stimulus stimuli that you haven't thought of and they comprise the other 20 or 30 percent and it's really important that you know that so you don't give up and think that you failed.
It just means that you're going to have to have 20 or 30 bridge games before you feel like, the bridge game doesn't bother you anymore. You don't really want the pizza at the bridge game. We often have people when they make a list of all the different places they expect to be exposed to a pizza stimulus. Well, we'll kind of order them in order of how frequently they occur and how much they bother them. And then we'll have people send themselves an email to arrive, just before that's going to happen. So if you know you're going to be playing bridge with mom on Saturday the 14th, then in the morning of Saturday the 14th, an email shows up and it says, Hey, this is your higher self. Just want to remind you, you're going to be, really craving the pizza at the bridge place. I want you to have this meal before you go there. So you're not too hungry. I want you to give your mom an extra big hug. So she feels love without having to feed you pizza. I want you to figure out what you're going to do instead while you're there. And here's all the things your pig is going to say. And this is why they're wrong but you send yourself an email and that arrives that morning. Then you're going to be alert. You're not going to be caught by surprise that there's this other stimuli that you're not used to, which you thought she already fixed the problem. And this turns out to be a big vehicle for defeating the cravings.
The other thing that misleads people sometimes is that they think that the extinction curve should go straight down. Let's just go back to talking about the daily drive past the pizza place. You would think that if you decided I'll never have pizza again, day two would be less of a craving than day one, and day three would be less of a craving than day two, all the way on down to day 29 or 30 when it wasn't occurring anymore.
But that's not actually what happens, because in nature, the brain, it wouldn't be advantageous for the brain to give up on the acquisition of calories that quickly. Let's say there's this caveman named Thag, 100,000 years ago. And Thag figured out that chimpanzees, following a chimpanzee could lead him to a banana tree. Well, Thag follows a chimp to a banana tree, he cordies himself on bananas, takes him back for his family. That's great survival advantage. Thag follows the chimp the next day to the banana tree, does it all week long, he's living high on the hog, right? And then all of a sudden the next day, the chimp leads to a banana tree that doesn't have any bananas in it. Well, is it more advantageous for Thag to keep following the chimp or to go try to find other banana trees on his own?
It turns out it's more advantageous to keep following the chimp because probably that as the bananas get a little scarcer, the chimp is going to find banana trees 80% of the time and then 70% of the time. And so what Thag would actually do is double down on his efforts because it would be more painful to lose that signal and have to go find another tree, make an effort on himself to go find it, than to just put up with the 10 or 20 or 30% of the time that he doesn't get rewarded. So how this plays out in everyday life is that when the reward starts to be available intermittently, we actually crave it more. It's kind of like a slot machine. And so you have to push through. So there's like a little temper tantrum somewhere around like five to ten times. There's a little temper tantrum that your brain will pull where you're actually going to get worse cravings than you ever had before. And if you push through that, then the brain starts to go and it goes down more or less literally. And then somewhere around the 25 to 30 day mark, it's got a tiny little blip and cravings, and then it mostly goes away.
So having that technical scientific understanding of how cravings actually work and the function they're supposed to serve, it'll help you to power through. It also helps you not to go into battle with a plastic helmet. Like this is a serious thing to extinguish your cravings. You've got to figure out what else are you going to eat? What are you going to do to take care of yourself when that temper tantrum hits? Make a list of them, but don't try to extinguish every last one of them at onceand be proud of yourself, celebrate the success when you get through. So I wanted to be sure that people knew that.
Ashley James (01:33:53.798)
Absolutely. Well, we only scratch the surface of your whole system. I definitely encourage listeners to go read your book, Defeat Your Cravings and go to your website, defeatyourcravings.com. So we have a book. Now you've got these other books in the past. And what you have now, the Defeat Your Cravings, is the evolution of all the work you've done with so many people.
And I feel it as I've as I read through your book, I felt like it was it was so much more complete, even though the stuff in the past helped. You've got more insights after working with so many people and it's concise. And as you said, people are going to get faster results with this new system. So they go to defeatyourcravings.com and they can read your book. What if they want to work with you? How does that work?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:34:46.882)
So what I suggest that you do is click the big blue button on the website, defeatyourcravings.com, and sign up for the reader bonus list. When you do that, you'll hear what it's like to work with me. You'll get a list that you've got a set of coaching sessions that I recorded, in full so you can see how this process transforms people from feeling hopeless and despairing and desperate about food sometimes to feeling confident and enthusiastic and, and hopeful. You'll get a set of food plan starter templates to help you see samples of food rules for any dietary philosophy. So we're diet agnostic. You can do this on any reasonably nutritious philosophy.
And a whole bunch of other things like little recordings to walk you through difficult moments and it's all free. So it's a whole bunch of free stuff and I recommend people start there. There's also a podcast you can subscribe to. Once you do that you will be led or you can look at the coaching part of the website if you want to we do have a coaching program, we call it the Unlimited Coaching Program because you have as many sessions as you need to with your coach with certain conditions like, you guys have to kind of agree on what you're going to do between sessions. You don't schedule another one until it's done and that kind of thing. But we do have a 90 day program with a lot of success. Part of that program are daily life support groups. So every day of the week, there is a group you can come to. If you're struggling with anything, I run several of them myself right now. I'm running four of them. I can't promise to always do that, but four days a week, I'm running a daily support group.
If you wanted to go directly there and see that set to defeatyourcravingscoaching.com, but I highly recommend that what you do first is just immerse yourself in the free stuff. Click the big blue button, sign up for the reader bonus list, listen to the podcasts, read the articles, join our free community and talk to some of the people there. I highly recommend you do that. So defeatyourcravings.com big blue button. It's that simple.
Ashley James (01:36:59.309)
Nice. Very cool. Have you ever looked at the statistics around your system and compared it to other systems to see that you're more successful or as successful? Or like, can you talk a bit about the results you guys get in the long term?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:37:19.721)
Over the last three years, this is in the previous program, because the new program is, well, it's new. But over the last three years in the last program, in the first month, people would get an approximately 90% reduction in over-eating episodes. And that's by self-report. It's not like a double-blind controlled study published in a…
But still that's pretty darn good. When we go out to about six months, it's more like 60%, but you divide that up into people who are still using the tools and people who decided not to do it anymore. And you can see that the people who use the tools do well and the people who don't don't. So at some point I'm looking to get third party clinical trials funded so that I can really prove this and maybe work with insurance companies to bring it to the world at large.
But I'm getting a little old and that's, that's a 10 year process. So right now I'm just focusing on helping as many people that want to come from a homegrown personal coaching. I've got some coaches that work with me. But really we get much better results with people who've been listening to the podcast for a little while first. So I just recommend that you go sign up for the free stuff.
Ashley James (01:38:39.750)
Yes, I love that you give away so much and then so many people can transform themselves on their own and get such great results on their own. And it's those that a small percentage of people after doing all the free stuff, they're like, you know what I really want? I shouldn't say small percentage. I don't know what percentage it is, but you did have like a million readers and then out of that, 2000 people were like, no, I really want to work with someone one-on-one and man, all the amazing reviews for all of your books.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:39:09.082)
Oh, I mean, we have more than 20,000 reviews. So not on the new book, we're just starting with a new book.
Ashley James (01:39:19.358)
Yes, exactly. You just came out with this book, but again, your latest book and your latest program is the evolution of everything you've done over the last eight years. So seeing that you have is the best of the best. You really figured it out. I mean, I know you figured stuff out before, but you really figured it out this time and the 20,000 reviews, people's lives are transformed. Like so many people's lives are transformed by following your system. And I love seeing that. And then people who, in addition to that, need some extra help, they can get that through your coaching program.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:39:51.255)
I haven't held anything back in the book, just like I'm not holding anything back in this in this call. I don't have a lot of money, but I used to make a lot of money. But I was on the wrong side of the war. I feel like I did the wrong thing. And so it's money is still important to me, but it's kind of on my second list. My first list is really how many people can I help? And let me get this out there. That's why the book is free for Kindle on The Nook.
That's why we put out so much free material with the podcast and all the freebies to help you walk through those hard moments.
Ashley James (01:40:31.067)
Love it. Sometimes people can go through all the programs and all the free stuff and still really want that personalized one-on-one attention and then they can do the online course with you. But like you said, you're not holding the good stuff back for working with you one-on-one. It's all laid out for free. And should someone want the additional support or like the daily calls or the coaching, any of that is also available, which I think is really beautiful. And I love your system.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:40:59.918)
You could read an exercise book and use it to get in shape, but most people want to go to a gym with classes, and some of those people want to work one on one with a trainer also. So it's kind of like that.
Ashley James (01:41:13.254)
Nice. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I can't believe 90 minutes has just flown by. Is there anything you'd like to share or say to wrap up today's interview?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:41:23.995)
Boom, chug a lugga boom, chug a lugga boom, chug a lugga la boom.
Ashley James (01:41:30.871)
That was probably the best out of over 500 episodes. That was the best one. I love it.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:41:37.947)
I don't have anything else that's brilliant to say that I didn't get to say. I mean, I probably do. Oh, there is one thing. There is one thing, earlier you were talking about the comfort food in response to the stress response, it's important to stop thinking about it like comfort food because what you're eating is not just for comfort.
I often highlight this out, highlight this people to people, because they'll say they have to numb out. They were emotionally upset on the answer to them out. And I said, it's not really what you're doing. You're actually getting high with food and I'll prove it to you. Did you ever go to the dentist and they say we're all out on over cane and referred, we're going to have to inject you with some chocolate. But there's something else going on besides numbing out.
The things that we go to at those times are unnaturally concentrated concoctions, industrially concentrated concoctions of starch and sugar and fat and all that kind of, and then another word for that is a drug. So that's why I think it's apropos to think I'm getting high with food. The other thing is that the relationship between emotions and overeating is two ways. Most people think you have this uncomfortable emotion that causes you to want to eat some chocolate. They don't understand that the chocolate also causes uncomfortable emotions by the principle of operant conditioning. So for example, a lot of people tell me they can't get to sleep without overeating and, but because they feel too anxious.
And I'll tell them that, well, do you know that anxiety has a physiological correlate? Your blood pressure goes up a little bit and your galvanic skin response goes up and your respiration and your perspiration. And all of these are measurable. In animal studies, for example, they give baboons a sugar reward, whenever they have raised blood pressure, don't you know that those baboons can be conditioned to have a raise of blood pressure more frequently as a group.
Ashley James (01:43:57.552)
Oh my gosh, that's right.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:43:59.888)
And so if you're telling yourself that you need this comfort food because you're anxious, you might also tell yourself this comfort food might be making me more anxious. It might be reinforcing it in the long run.
Ashley James (01:44:12.364)
So your body creates anxiety, so you will go eat that food.
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:44:17.840)
Yes the body is a calorie acquiring machine. And when you show it that it can get a lot of calories, if there's a certain physiological state, it's more likely to create that physiological state in the future.
Ashley James (01:44:32.516)
Yes and that's what we really want to have clarity over. We want to just be consciously aware of that and not reinforce that. Does the Defeat Your Cravings system help us to really be conscious of that and make sure that we don't reinforce our body creating a negative stimulus in order to gain “comfort food”?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:45:03.770)
All of that.Yes
Thank you, Ashley.
Ashley James (01:45:05.019)
Love it. So cool. Yeah, that's wild. Thank you. Thank you for coming. And so excited for the listeners to learn your new system and help them.You call it Defeat Your Cravings, but I think there's a lot of different words for it. It could be that nighttime eating binge eating, overeating, emotional eating, just all of it. It's that big soup. And some people say, well, I'm not an overeater. But if you feel like food is controlling you instead of the other way around, if you can't eat a healthy diet because you're going here and there, your brain is kind of guiding you. Your inner pig or inner brat is guiding you. Then you're going to benefit from doing Dr. Glenn Livingston system. defeatyourcravings.com. Awesome. Can't wait to have you back on the show. Because, you're just going to keep evolving and growing and learning. And you'll have new stuff to share with us next time. So I can't wait to have you back. And what's the name of your new podcast?
Dr. Glenn Livingston (01:46:08.718)
Ashley James (01:46:09.234)
Okay, there we go. You know how to brand yourself.
Glenn Livingston (01:46:14.730)
At the DefeatYourCravingsPodcast.com. It'll just take you to a different page with a website where you can sign up for that.
Ashley James (01:46:18.606)
Nice. Okay, great. Of course, all the links to everything that Dr. Glenn Livingston does is going to be in the show notes of today's podcast, so learntruehealth.com. It was great having you on again. Can't wait to have you back.
Glenn Livingston (01:46:28.956)
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Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing
Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.
Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.
In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!
The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine
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