The Problem Is In the Culture, Not Your Body – Ep#032 Interview With Lindo Bacon, PhD

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Lindo Bacon who has been a well respected researcher and professor in the fields of physiology, psychology and exercise metabolism for almost 20 years and who is widely known for transforming the discourse on weight with the body positivity movement.

They are the best selling author of paradigm shifting books: Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight and the co-author of Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, or Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight. Both these books have helped to expand the Health at Every Size philosophy which at the core is a social justice framework that respects the diversity of body shapes and sizes, supporting equitable access to health care, and rejecting weight discrimination and stigma.

In this heartwarming conversation, we talk about Dr. Bacon’s newly released book Radical Belonging – How To Survive and Thrive In An Unjust World (While Transforming It For the Better). In this authentic consciousness raising memoir, they ask us to explore the ways that power, privilege and disadvantage complicate the experience of our bodies. Dr. Bacon invites us to an elevated conversation about diet, size and weight that goes beyond the self help approach and through the lens of social justice.

Their paradigm goes right to the root cause of our body struggles by evaluating the social conditioning and culture that gives rise to all the self harming habits, compulsions that derail our health. It lightens the burden of toxic shame and self blame but it’ s also beautiful all to action for building a more compassionate and equitable world.

Dr. Bacon’s book touched me deeply because it goes to the heart of our shared struggle – we all know in one way or another the pain of living a life based on not who we truly are – the pain of not feeling at home in our skin – safe in our very own bodies. The cost of being deprived of this basic sense of belonging taxes our health and wellbeing on all levels.

Visit: https://lindobacon.com

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Podcast Transcript

0 (1s):
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you are so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.

Christine Okezie (23s):
Hello, and welcome to the soul science nutrition podcast. I’m Christina KZ. Thanks so much for tuning in today. So today I had the pleasure of speaking with dr. Lindo bacon, who has been a well-respected researcher and professor in the fields of psychology physiology and exercise metabolism for almost 20 years. And who was widely known for transforming the conversation on weight with the body positivity movement. Dr. Bacon has taught courses in health, weight, nutrition, and social justice, and conducted federally funded studies on health and weight. That’s been published in top scientific journals.

Christine Okezie (1m 4s):
Dr. Bacon is the best-selling author of paradigm shifting books. The first one published about 10 years ago was health at every size, the surprising truth about your weight. They were also the coauthor of body respect what conventional health books get wrong, leave out, or just played fail to understand about weight. Now, both these books have helped to expand the health at every size movement. That’s HAES for short, this philosophy, which has at its core is a social justice framework that respects the diversity of body shape and body size that supports equitable access to healthcare.

Christine Okezie (1m 49s):
And we jacks, weight discrimination and stigma, the HAE S philosophy promotes the idea that it is possible to be healthy or to pursue better health without changing the size of your body. It rejects the traditional diet model and supports people in appreciating their bodies and learning how to trust their bodies and take good care of them in their work. They share the abundance of evidence that shows dieting does not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits, but rather how chronic yo-yo dieting has proven to have negative consequences on your health, on health behaviors and wellbeing advocates of the H AEs movement recognize the fact that the science clearly shows that the relationship between health and weight is far more complex.

Christine Okezie (2m 41s):
And we need to take into account the individual circumstances that affected such as socioeconomic status, psycho, emotional history, gender identity, even cultural background, and how these factors play important roles in shaping our health outcomes. So today we talk about dr. Bacon’s latest, just released book, entitled, radical belonging, how to survive and thrive in an unjust world while transforming it for the better in this beautiful book, dr. Bacon presents a consciousness raising message, asking us to explore the ways that power privilege and disadvantage complicate the experience of our bodies.

Christine Okezie (3m 27s):
Readers are invited to an elevated conversation of diet size and weight beyond individual prescription beyond self-help and self-improvement, but rather through the lens of the collective through social justice, dr. Bacon’s paradigm asks us to go right to the root cause of our body struggles by evaluating the social conditioning and the greater culture that gives rise to all our self-harming habits. And compulsion’s that derail our health. Dr. Bacon’s book touched me deeply because it goes to the heart of our shared struggle. We all know in one way or another, the pain of living a life based, not on who we truly are, but rather who the world told us.

Christine Okezie (4m 12s):
We had to be the pain of not feeling at home or safe in our skin, in our very own bodies and the cost of being deprived of this basic sense of belonging taxes, our health and wellbeing on all levels, their message in this book lightens the burden of toxic shame and blame, but it also is a passionate call to action for building a more compassionate and equitable world. Radical belonging is a poignant reflection for these times, how the power of seeing our shared humanity, the web of interconnection, that is life is a powerful force for real positive change in our world.

Christine Okezie (4m 58s):
I hope you enjoy this beautiful heart opening conversation, and if you do enjoy the episode, please leave a rating and review. It helps me keep the podcast growing. Thank you so much and enjoy the show. Hello, Lindo, and welcome to the podcast. It’s really an honor to have you here.

Lindo Bacon (5m 17s):
Oh, that’s sweet. And I’m really happy to meet you. And I know you’re doing some great stuff in the world, Christine, so I appreciate the opportunity to talk. Thank you.

Christine Okezie (5m 30s):
So I would love for you to just dive in and, you know, walk us through how your personal journey of transformation evolved really from the anti diet, body positivity movement and all the wisdom that you shared there to the new paradigm that is unfolding right now in this new work that you’ve brought into the world, radical belonging.

Lindo Bacon (5m 53s):
Sure. You know, it’s kind of fascinating because in some ways it’s almost like a repudiation of some of my old work, because I realized that the old story I used to tell about my eating disorder, that I always believed in just really wasn’t true. And it caused me to relook at how I’d understood eating disorders and bodies in the past. And in the first book that I wrote health at every size, I was talking about my eating disorder, the way that most people conceptualize eating disorders, you know, there’s this, like every woman’s story, this belief that, you know, there’s this ideal female body that everybody’s supposed to fit into and it’s a thin body and all women want to be thin to get the cultural acceptance that they’re looking for.

Lindo Bacon (6m 56s):
Yes. And that starts them on the path of dieting, which then turns into an eating disorder. Yes. And that’s a story that is true for many people, but, and it’s a story that I was told about myself and that I bought into and long time that kind of idiot a certain path of healing. And it wasn’t until much more recently in my life that I realized that that really wasn’t my story. That that was a story that everybody was pushing me to believe about myself.

Lindo Bacon (7m 38s):
And no one else had really written my story, or at least not in, I wasn’t seeing it. I never saw myself represented to know that there was another, there were many other ways that that story either gets complicated or just isn’t true for people. And I think what I came to realize was that it wasn’t, that I was trying to, to be a more successful woman. I think instead that my, the real story behind my difficulty with my body was that I never felt like a woman in the first place And that there wasn’t room in the culture to have, like, I’d been assigned this role as girl.

Lindo Bacon (8m 35s):
Right. Right. Which I believed in everybody else believed about me. And I didn’t know that there were other possibilities and that we’d all gotten it all wrong. Then I never really was a girl .

3 (8m 52s):
.

Lindo Bacon (8m 52s):
And that’s the story that I came to understand as my, and that’s why Radical Belonging is very different from how I started out with Health At Every Size. What I realized as I started to own my story is that, that old eating disorder story, it’s actually not true for most people, or at least it’s very much more complicated than right. For most people. Right. It gets complicated for people, for example, of different races. Yes. It’s very white story take into consideration like histories of colonization and what that would mean for how someone looks at their body.

Lindo Bacon (9m 36s):
It doesn’t take into consideration issues like poverty and you know, what that might mean for our bodies. And so what I realized was we’ve got to add nuance to the story and we’ve got to change the story. And we’ve got to recognize that our relationships to our bodies are complicated by the identities that are of society establishing yes. To some degree. Yes, yes. And that most of us just don’t feel like we belong.

Lindo Bacon (10m 16s):
And so I felt like I had to write a new book, which is what belonging really looks like when we add identity into the picture and stop just talking to people whose stories have always been told and are in positions of power and who actually also can benefit quite a bit by expanding the paradigm to absolutely. So this new idea of belonging I think, is beneficial to everybody across the spectrum.

Christine Okezie (10m 55s):
Thank you. Yes. You know, most of the books and teachings out there around, you know, food, weight, health, body image come from the lens of self-help. They come from the lens of self-improvement my, my book included five years ago. Right. And while again, like yours, it shares, you know, wonderful guidance on stress management and changing your relationship with food. All that’s really valuable. But what I love about the new paradigm is that it’s not just about that. Right. And it can’t just be about that, that our issues, while they may be very individual to us, to your point for our story, that there’s a greater context of healing that’s available when we changed the lens.

Christine Okezie (11m 42s):
Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Lindo Bacon (11m 45s):
No matter. And this is a realization I know you’ve come to it as well, but no matter how much personal change we go through, no matter how much we change our eating habits or exercise habits, no matter how much we love ourselves, we’re still coming up against the world that doesn’t treat us fairly. And for those of us, with marginalized identity, it doesn’t treat us with compassion or kindness. It doesn’t see us. So all the self-help in the world doesn’t make that go away. You know, the fact that I am immediately othered in the world.

Lindo Bacon (12m 30s):
And so unless we’re S we’re simultaneously working on changing the culture and kind of supporting one another in navigating that unjust culture and finding community, you know, we have to be working on community care as much as we do self care. And it’s when those two are aligned, that the possibility for freedom and body liberation can come, but individually we can’t, we can’t do all this stuff on our own.

Christine Okezie (13m 14s):
You a quote that I love around that is that you say, self-love, can’t fix the world that causes the self-loathing in the first place. And for me, that resonates so much because, you know, I use the term root cause a lot when I’m helping people through some health conditions, but really it occurred to me. I said, the root, root, root, root cause of why we need self-love and self-compassion, and self-acceptance right. And self-improvement for that matter, right. Is because they’re conditions in our society and our culture that we’ve decided are just the way they are. And, and wow. So you kind of blow the lid off on, you know, individual healing, the limits of individual healing when it comes to our struggles.

Christine Okezie (14m 1s):
I love that.

Lindo Bacon (14m 4s):
Good. Yeah. I’m glad that’s so meaningful to you because it really is so important. And for me, it was really quite transformational when I recognize that, as you’re saying, it also recognizes that I made some mistakes in the past and that, you know, that like, and my first book health at every size, which is very much a self-help book out of that genre still sells really well today. You know? And it’s full people’s first introduction to the concept of health at every size.

Lindo Bacon (14m 44s):
And, you know, I feel of that. And, you know, I feel, because I feel like there is, like, I do know that there is some power in that book that people are getting a lot of value out of kind of the personal journey stuff. But alone, I feel like it’s kind of still contributing to some damage and that old mindset.

Christine Okezie (15m 11s):
Yes, yes, yes. And, you know, occurred to me. We were talking before we started the interview, I work a lot with folks in the holistic healing space, integrative and functional medicine space. And it, I think there tends to be a overemphasis on individual behavior change, right. Myself included, guilty as charged. You know, your health is in your hands, you’re responsible for your health and help us understand why that can be, you know, not so appropriate when it comes to this new paradigm that we need to step into.

Lindo Bacon (15m 52s):
Yeah. Well, one thing that’s always valuable to recognize is that we don’t have a level playing field right now that, you know, like, let’s say somebody wants to get a better job. They’re not all gonna have equal opportunity. You know, if, if you have an African American sounding name, your resume is less likely to get read, then somebody who might have a white sounding European sounding name. Right. So there’s all these ways in which it’s documented that people are trying to get jobs, right.

Lindo Bacon (16m 36s):
But then they run into structural limitations that don’t allow them. Whereas other people run in get have, are much better resources, resource, and are much more likely to be able to get their resumes read. And so when, what typically happens then is the people that have all of these roadblocks in front of him blamed themselves because they’re told, you know, anyone can succeed if you just try hard enough. Yes. But you put in the same level of trying and you’ll get to get different results based on the resources or the roadblocks that you have in your life.

Lindo Bacon (17m 27s):
Yes. So there are a lot of people who want to better their lives who want, you know, more opportunity who are really smart, who work really hard, who try really hard. And because they have more roadblocks or less opportunities, life’s just not turning out the way they want to, or the way we’re led to believe it. Yeah.

Christine Okezie (17m 57s):
Health is not a meritocracy, you know, just like many other areas. I think COVID, you know, has one of the, if you can say gifts of this experience that we’re all having is it’s really shown the spotlight, you know, so brightly on, on the disparities, on the fact that the playing field is not level and what that means for our health.

Lindo Bacon (18m 22s):
Yeah. And then you can also access to being able to take care of you and how different that is, because it’s certainly true that things like what you eat, how much exercise you get, do play a role in your health. I’m not going to discount them entirely. I am going to say that they’re blown out of proportion in terms of how much they help. They affect our health. That it’s the structural issues that play a larger role in health. But nonetheless, they do play a role. We also have to look at that whole idea of choice that, you know, being able to eat intuitively, for example, you know, you want when you want, but if you don’t have money to right.

Lindo Bacon (19m 11s):
Make the choices that are important to you or that you feel drawn to, it’s going to be a lot harder for you to make those same choices. Yes. So if you’re working two jobs, exercise might not be something that you can easily navigate and work into your life. Absolutely. And it becomes like there’s more challenge in to how to move your body more possibly based on your life circumstances.

Christine Okezie (19m 48s):
Yes. Yes. The context of our lives, you know, and the individual stressors. Now, one of the things you go into the book, you talk about, you know, the importance of having a trauma informed approach and you kind of shed some light on how we need to see trauma and even social oppression and structural, you know, discrimination as a social trauma. And, and can you go into that? And it’s just such a, again, a game changer when we look at behavior,

Lindo Bacon (20m 19s):
Right. I know I had to put an entire chapter to trauma just by itself. And of course, traumas worked in throughout the book in other ways as well, because I think that number one, there’s a huge misunderstanding about what trauma is and that to Prama is the key to understanding self care. So first off, I think that most people, when they think about trauma, they about like a discrete event, you know, like maybe you’re in a war and you, you you’re seeing people killed, or maybe you’ve been raped.

Lindo Bacon (20m 59s):
And sure those things are trauma, but there’s also a lot of other things that have that imprint on our bodies in the identical way that those explicit traumas do. And as you’re mentioning, one of the things that I discuss in detail is the ways in which oppression is trauma. So for example, if you’re experiencing microaggressions throughout your life, say for example, you’re constantly getting the question from people, where are you from?

Lindo Bacon (21m 41s):
Right. And, you know, what’s the root of that question. It’s because now people usually think of white people as the only true Americans. And if you’re a person of color, for example, it’s a statement of, you know, that you don’t truly belong here. Your roots are somewhere else and that makes you different. And that’s what I’m curious about. And so while it might be a very innocent and naive question where the person posing it is basically just curious. And once they get to know someone, it’s also making a statement that I see you as different.

Lindo Bacon (22m 30s):
Yes, yes. Is often quite when, when you have a lifetime experience of feeling like you don’t belong, the person being asked that question, it means something very different than when a white person has asked that same question or, or someone without an act without an accent that might betray them as coming from a different country. So anyway, that question will have very different meaning, which asks to, and to some of some people, it, you know, it triggers, it triggers a stress response.

Lindo Bacon (23m 10s):
You know, it it’s because it’s a way of feeling others. So that’s just one example of like a basic microaggression that happens on a fairly regular basis when you have a lifetime experience of all of these ways, in which you’re constantly reminded that you’re, that people don’t see you as a true American or see you as different in some way, each time it elicits the stress response. Okay. And repeated stress response changes your body physiologically in the same way that an individual act of trauma can change your body.

Christine Okezie (24m 3s):
Yes, yes, yes. Yes. And, and so it’s interesting because again, you know, we, we understand the narrative of blaming the diet industry or with a wellness culture, you know, mainstream wellness, you know, we blame, we we’ve tended to blame all of our unblocking, all of our othering on that particular circle. But when you look at the bigger picture, which you bring up in radical belonging, it’s actually so much wider than that. It’s the society. So it’s social media, it’s the education system, it’s the healthcare system.

Christine Okezie (24m 43s):
It’s the, it’s the business world, you know, all of that with all of the messages, right. That you don’t, we don’t fit in right. Where we are. We’re you got to try harder to look like this, be like this, you know, be accepted so that you can go, like, you know, you have to kind of conform. So hence all the self-improvement right. That we do, which to your point, some of it’s okay, you know, it’s good, but there’s a shadow side to it. Right. And that, because we’re doing it more just out of survival or a basic sense of survival sometimes.

Lindo Bacon (25m 20s):
Right. And I want to add to that. It’s not just all of these systems that are harming us because we, as individuals absorb these systems. And so we, without intent are constantly othering other people and we participate in it. And we all, as individuals need to do a lot of work on ourselves to see the ways in which we perpetuate racism and sexism and you know, all of our misinformed ideas about poverty and that we impose on other people about unworthiness.

Lindo Bacon (26m 8s):
Like there there’s just our, or our ideas about this that we end up then imposing on other people, our judgements about other people. So, yes. So it’s not just that we’re getting these from systems with the systems, get lodged inside all of us as individuals, and then we put it on everybody else. So what that means is belonging has to be an active act of working on anti-oppression.

Lindo Bacon (26m 49s):
Thank you. We’re not just say colorblind and immediately like accepting of other people, right. That if we want to create this world of belonging, we have to be working on ourself constantly to be able to be open to other people, to seeing other people and to making space for them in our world. And there’s so many ways that we all can be doing it, whether it’s challenging our ideas of healthcare and who has access or what kind of services we think are important for our clients.

Lindo Bacon (27m 34s):
Yes. It’s a constant it’s, it’s constant work to expand this so that we really can create this culture where everybody can thrive.

Christine Okezie (27m 48s):
Oh my gosh. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s such a, an ongoing kind of commitment to awareness and to, you know, starting with, with our own biases, with our own limited perceptions to your point.

Lindo Bacon (28m 5s):
And I think he does. I think the scariest thing there is what we don’t know that when we need to know

Christine Okezie (28m 14s):
Absolutely. I mean, this is, this is the, the consciousness that needs to inform, you know, all of it, all of our discussions around health, even, you know, I think more people need to know what the true determinants of health are and what the science shows. You do, such a wonderful job of sharing the data and all the research of what it actually shows when it comes to weight loss and weight loss and improving your health and diabetes and, you know, weight. And if you could just maybe share some of those really powerful facts, that would be so helpful,

Lindo Bacon (28m 52s):
Right. Because certainly what we’re told, just isn’t true. One example that I use in the book quite a bit is talking about diabetes, because I think that out of all of those physiologic diseases that we tend to blame on weight, you know, that seems to come up as number one, people blame it on weight and they blame it on eating habits. And, but when you actually look at the data, what you find is that diabetes is very much aligned with oppression. That it’s of much higher incidence among people of color and people in other marginalized groups, which is not to say that that automatically means it’s caused by that because we also know it’s more common among heavier people as well.

Lindo Bacon (29m 50s):
But when you start to then unpick all the data to try to understand all of these relationships, what you find is that being treated poorly is probably the biggest contributor to diabetes. Wow. Yes. And that the more we can support people in, in easier lives, the more we can solve the problems around diabetes. I remember reading one research study that just floored me, where they were looking at diabetes among low-income people.

Lindo Bacon (30m 31s):
And they decided to do one intervention, which was to give people vouchers so that they can move into much nicer houses. And the rent was paid for every month and they saw dramatic improvements in their diabetes, just from this. They never talked to the people about their lifestyle habits or eating less sugar. Right. But I don’t know, was medic powerful. And we’re way too quick to blame, wait for problems. When there are so many more important things that we can be paying attention to.

Lindo Bacon (31m 15s):
What we also know is that when you give people the usual admonishments around diabetes, when you tell them to lose weight, it doesn’t help their diabetes in the long run. Absolutely. That there’s, there tends to be the same thing we always see in, in, in diets is that on a short-term basis, it looks like there are a lot of improvements, but when you follow people over time, number one, the vast majority of people tend to regain the weight and diabetes and goes back to what it was before.

Lindo Bacon (31m 59s):
And there’s also research studies that are showing that even for P for the small minority of people who have actually lost weight and kept it off the diabetes symptoms tend to return. Yes. And, and I want to be clear here. I’m not suggesting that dietary change doesn’t help. It does. Right. Absolutely. Right. Does it help? Yes.

Christine Okezie (32m 27s):
No, it’s, it’s brilliant. Right. And again, this is the, the, you know, the manipulation of, of, of, of this information so that it sells, right. So it supports the $65 billion diet industry and big pharma, all of it. And I always, you know, see myself saying, okay, well, so let’s say we take a person and we magically flip a switch and they drop 20, 30 pounds. Right. And they’re diabetic, their diabetes doesn’t go away because we flipped the switch. And all of a sudden magically the scale is reading a different number. Right. But somehow we’ve equated, you know, it’s causality and the, and that’s the relationship it’s by association. So normally to your point, you know, if a person is working on their stress, if they’re feeling less disempowered in their life, because they have a better life, they have more, you know, better opportunity.

Christine Okezie (33m 19s):
You know, they’re more able to take care of themselves in simple ways that actually do make a difference. Right. Right.

Lindo Bacon (33m 27s):
Right. And I also want to be clear too, that I think we’ll never really understand the relationship between weight and diabetes, but what we do know is that a prescription to lose weight is never, ever helpful for sure.

Christine Okezie (33m 45s):
Yes. Amen. Yes. Yes.

Lindo Bacon (33m 49s):
And what we also know is that people who have, are fatter meet up with a lot more discrimination in the world and just aren’t treated as well. There’s clear research that shows the relationship between the stress that comes from that and disease.

Christine Okezie (34m 13s):
Yes. Yes.

Lindo Bacon (34m 15s):
So really what we’re seeing is that weight stigma is far more damaging to health and fat tissue itself. Everett can be

Christine Okezie (34m 25s):
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s weight, stigma, weight cycling, you know, the yo-yo dieting. That’s always a given when you embark on this, you know, on, on that prescription. Right. Yeah.

Lindo Bacon (34m 36s):
I should also say that. I don’t want to blame the dieters. You know, I have a lot of compassion for why people grow onto these diets. That that’s what they’re told by health professionals succeed, smart thing to do. And it’s not just that it gives you more social approval, but it, you know, you’re told from so many sources that it’s the responsible and right thing to do. So, you know, I understand why so many people are dieting and I just have so much compassion for, for how difficult it is to figure out how to take care of your body when the messages that we’re getting from the world are so disrespectful.

Lindo Bacon (35m 31s):
And so not science-based.

Christine Okezie (35m 34s):
Yes. Oh my goodness. Absolutely. And how hard is to

Lindo Bacon (35m 39s):
Buck the system and to listen to a message that’s going to be more supportive and that’s gonna like value you more.

Christine Okezie (35m 52s):
Yeah. And, and so it’s a call to action, your book for a more compassionate, you know, world. And therefore they’re a bio more inclusive world.

Lindo Bacon (36m 3s):
Yeah. Compassion for, for other people and self compassion for how hard it is for some of us,

Christine Okezie (36m 13s):
There’s such a cycle of, of shame and blame when it comes to, you know, our internalizing of these messages, whether they’re from our own conditioning, you know, in our family unit or whether they’re in, in the greater system, you know, social environment, how does this new paradigm help with shame and blame?

Lindo Bacon (36m 35s):
Oh, there’s so many ways. But the first to just go off on a little tangent, I’m thinking about something like addiction. You know, we think that there’s something wrong with the addict. We blame them for their choosing their drug of choice. When, you know, there are so many other ways to deal with problems, but we don’t recognize that like self care is something that is learned and that you need support in being able to develop self care. You know, when I was a kid developing the eating disorder was one of the smartest things I could have done.

Lindo Bacon (37m 23s):
Like my world was painful and I didn’t know how to find joy and how to take care of myself and ice cream. Sundays were a way of temporarily feeling happiness for Y right. And nobody told me there were other ways to do that. And I didn’t have like the friends and the family to turn to that would have made me be able to weather the difficult times to be able to talk about some of the things that was so challenging for me. You know, my parents were so busy trying to make the, into a real girl that it wasn’t a place for me to tell them, but I don’t feel like a girl, you know, maybe that’s not what I want or what’s good for me.

Lindo Bacon (38m 11s):
Right. So eating disorder and later cocaine were ways of helping me to manage my world when I didn’t know there were other options. Yes. And, you know, over time I became exposed to the fact that there were other ways of kind of sitting with my pain, that there were other people like me in the world that, you know, if had just pulled me aside when I was a kid and said, Hey, kid, you’re trans, there’s nothing wrong with it.

Christine Okezie (38m 42s):
Right, right, right, right. Absolutely.

Lindo Bacon (38m 47s):
I wouldn’t have had to run away from all the feelings that were coming up, you know, or if someone had just sat with me. Right. And in my pain. Yeah. Right. So this is the transition we need to make right now is instead of shaming people for choosing drugs or food or whatever it is, and shaming ourselves with voices, it’s recognizing that maybe we’re making the best choice we can in the moment. Right. Or we did in the moment, that’s all we knew.

Lindo Bacon (39m 30s):
But recognizing that we always have opportunity to expand our options for how we take care of ourselves. Absolutely. There are these other ways of managing our pain.

Christine Okezie (39m 46s):
Yeah. I always like to say, you know, more options on the menu, you know, to, to, to meet what really needs our attention, you know, and our, our, our care. Absolutely.

Lindo Bacon (39m 59s):
You know, and, and so for all those people in these COVID times that are reaching for food, because, you know, the ways they usually support themselves aren’t as available, they can’t just go hug a friend.

Christine Okezie (40m 14s):
That’s right. That’s right.

Lindo Bacon (40m 16s):
It’s not as easy to go out and be with people either. Like our options are becoming less available to us. And so of course, people are going to be reaching for things that, you know, they didn’t like it it’s COVID is making things more difficult for people. For sure. So what I want to suggest to people is, number one, like if you could just celebrate the fact that you’re finding a way to get through difficult times, instead of adding more shame for the choices that you’re making, recognizing that you found a survival mechanism, and that’s great for survival mechanisms also causing some pain and difficulty.

Lindo Bacon (41m 11s):
Right? And so now you can also be exploring what are some of the other ways that you could be taking care of yourself right now, and you need to, and you may want to be developing those options and recognizing that it’s not going to be easy, right. That you’re going to have to be learning new ways of taking care of yourself when not as many are as accessible to you.

Christine Okezie (41m 43s):
Yes. Yes. You know, you, you, you share so many different skills and tools to build up our resilience, to deepen our, you know, more authentic self care, you know, get our, our, our emotional and mental and physical needs, you know, met. One of the things you talk about in your book is mindfulness and meditation, which arguably are wonderful, wonderful practices to calm our nervous system and, and all of it. But what you take one step further, which I think is really brilliant. You say, you know, it’s, it helps us individually, right?

Christine Okezie (42m 24s):
But again, to your point about radical belonging, let’s up the game. Let’s elevate, you know, the, the sphere of influence we can have through our own meditation and mindfulness practice. Can you share like, kind of your lens through that? I was really tickled by that.

Lindo Bacon (42m 43s):
Right. And I actually have one of my, my three graduate degrees is actually in contemplative psychotherapy where I stay, I got a degree studying psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective. Beautiful. And when I was in school, you know, anytime we would bring up social justice issues, the advice was basically like, you’re taking the world too seriously. Right. Like, go sit on your cushion and meditate. Right. And it all falls away and you’re just in the present moment. Right.

Lindo Bacon (43m 22s):
And everything. Okay. Right. And I think that there is extraordinary value in meditation. Yes. But not that like that. And that’s not even how Buddhism originated. Yes, exactly. There are Buddhist traditions, which are so much rooted in social justice. Beautiful. And the idea that meditation can actually help us get closer to the world that’s right. And to experience yes.

Lindo Bacon (44m 3s):
And that we need to bring whatever we’re learning from meditation out into the world and how important that is, but how much that tends to get lost in this very sanitized version of meditation that exists in the United States today.

Christine Okezie (44m 27s):
Yes. Yes. Again, the, the moving from the healing, the individual healing in your book is really becoming, it’s, it’s clear that it’s, it’s got to collect it. There’s a collective energy that needs to benefit here, you know, that needs to be connected to it. And yeah.

Lindo Bacon (44m 48s):
Yeah. And when I think about it too, like one of the beauties about meditation is a lot of people are doing it in community. Like they’re coming together in like the Buddhist word for it is Tsonga that’s right. To share experiences. And yes, like there is so much beauty and possibility in creating community around our meditation practices. Yeah.

Christine Okezie (45m 22s):
Community. So again, you know, and, and taking it back to our own individual traumas and struggles, so much healing can benefit when we realize we’re not the only one that feels this way, you know? Oh, you know, it’s, it’s, we’re not, we’re not isolated in our, in our struggle. And therefore, why should we be isolated in our healing to your point? Right. I guess. Right. Yeah. Oh my gosh. So beautiful. Explain what you mean by the role of agency. I think that’s a really wonderful concept that you bring into the work.

Lindo Bacon (45m 56s):
Okay. So agency refers to our ability to have power in the world did to actually make things happen. Like whether or not we are the agents of our experience, if you think of it in those terms. Yes. And we all have very different agency. So for example, if you think about someone who’s a fast food worker, they may not have the ability to just take a bathroom break when they need to, but may only be able to take it during prescribed times that the job allows for, whereas someone who is a chief executive officer in a company has that kind of power to take a break whenever it is that they need to.

Lindo Bacon (46m 49s):
And what we find is that how much agency you have in the world diff tends to play a big role in health. Yes. And so, even though that chief executive officer may have a tremendous amount of stress from their position, yeah. There’s a way that that stress can get mitigated. So it doesn’t play out as disease in their body as readily as it would in the janitor’s body. Right? The research shows that despite the, that old idea, that you’re going to get a heart attack because of the stress in your life from being a, that’s just not true, that the janitor is much more likely to get a heart attack.

Lindo Bacon (47m 35s):
Then the CEO is, and what mediates that whole physiologic process tends to be the sense of agency that the more power and control you have over your life, the more it helps you to manage the stressors so that the stressors don’t have as much of a negative impact.

Christine Okezie (47m 56s):
That’s huge.

Lindo Bacon (47m 56s):
And what we know is that, well, that fast food worker might not have access to a less stressful job. Like they might not have as much opportunity, but there may be other ways in which they can increase the agency in their lives. So for example, it may just be that in their, in their free time, they’re playing on a softball team and they can become captain of the softball team and people look to them to kind of be a leader that’s right. Right. And that’s the way in which they have agents.

Christine Okezie (48m 40s):
Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. I think, I think it’s huge because what it speaks to is the belief, which is really the feeling that comes with having control of our lives, having the ability to have a positive influence on our lives. Right. And I think that that really resonated with me because there’s such a powerlessness, you know, degrees of powerlessness that we need to acknowledge when people are struggling, you know, with what they’re struggling with, you know, and, and if we can help people feel, we can recognize that when people are embarking on a path that is empowering, right, that’s the path to change, you know?

Christine Okezie (49m 29s):
And, and that’s why dieting and quick fixes and magic wellness bullets, and conf, you know, conforming to a mythical norm, as you outlined in your book are the opposite of that. They dis they further disempower the individual, which is the opposite of healing. So, yeah, it’s so beautiful.

Lindo Bacon (49m 51s):
And what we know is that one of the biggest ways you can empower yourself is through helping other people and just showing compassion for other people, making other people’s lives or earlier easier. All of that stuff benefits you physiologically, it improves your own health.

Christine Okezie (50m 13s):
It does amazing. And, Oh my gosh. So Linda, I wanted to ask you, if you could turn your, you know, turn back time and talk to your 18 year old self, what would you say at this point?

Lindo Bacon (50m 31s):
Wow. Well, I think that really what the 18 year old self was missing was someone else who understood them, you know, some place where I felt safe.

Christine Okezie (50m 51s):
Hm.

Lindo Bacon (50m 51s):
So what I tell that 18 year old self is there are other people out there who are going to love you and see you for who you are and get value you and appreciate the lovely person that you are. Yes. When I say that, I don’t mean to be critical of my parents because my parents really tried. And they loved me in so many ways, and they provided so much opportunity. And I’m so grateful to my parents. They’re no longer alive, but I love them very much.

Lindo Bacon (51m 34s):
And there were certain ways in which their love was conditioned on me being a way that was acceptable to them. Right. And that’s what I was missing was unconditional love and belonging. And so that’s, and that’s what I created for myself in my life day. And this is what we can create for all kids, for all people. We have the capacity to love other people and to create that space of belonging for everybody.

Lindo Bacon (52m 17s):
And I want that for my 18 year old self, and I want that for everybody. And it’s always possible.

Christine Okezie (52m 27s):
Wow. Thank you so much. That is so beautiful. Do you have a, a personal kind of mantra that goes through your mind or that helps you navigate, you know, your life these days?

Lindo Bacon (52m 45s):
Well, Christine, you’re actually asking me great now, and it’s interesting how I’m so raw and vulnerable that just you having asked that question and tears are in my eyes right now. And I don’t know if it’s coming across in my voice, because you’re asking me that question at a time when I am particularly challenged, when as you know, I’ve recently had an accident and by, I kind of destroyed my right arm, it’s, I’ve had some surgery and there’s and waiting to see the healing and what the future is, whether there’s more surgery and I’ve had a lot of other physical injuries that have been compounded.

Lindo Bacon (53m 33s):
And so right now I’m basically spending a lot of time in bed, you know, and I just don’t have access to with, with COVID going on, you know, my friends over there easily available, I can do things. So I’m having a hard time dealing with a lot of pain. Okay. So the mantra I’m using right now is not the mantra of all times, but it’s the mantra for now, which is recognizing that this too shall pass. Yes. I know. Like I just have to accept the fact that this is difficult times and yeah, I’ve been paid and running away from it is not the answer, but just accepting that I’m having a difficult time right now, this isn’t always what life is about.

Lindo Bacon (54m 31s):
You know, I will, it won’t be as acute. I will, even if my there’s a lot of damage to my arm permanently, like I’ll adapt and come up with a new way of kind of being in the world in this changed body, because our bodies are always changing. Whether it’s about aging or whatever is going on. Right.

Christine Okezie (54m 58s):
Oh my gosh. Thank you. Yeah, no, it’s very profound actually. You know, I think it brings home, you know, it’s one thing to have, and this is why, why your book is so powerful because it goes beyond conceptual understanding. It goes behind beyond intellectual explanation. This is an, this is embodied work that you’ve produced. You know, you you’ve, you’ve infused your experience of not belonging and, and given us permission, I think given the reader’s permission to just be okay exactly with what our journey has been to date.

Christine Okezie (55m 39s):
Right. And that’s the lesson I’m hearing from you is to understand that our bodies are always there for us. We just need to have, you know, kind of the open, the open hand to it, you know, instead of saying, Oh, I wish it could be that shouldn’t be was better last year, 20 years ago. I’ll never, you know, it’s right now, your body is here and it needs your love and attention more than ever. Right. And I think if we can give ourselves permission, you know, to let go of all the noise that you talk about, that we announced so much more aware of, there’s so much noise, you know, not just the diet industry, but how even we, how we relate to each other.

Christine Okezie (56m 21s):
I think that our bodies will be relieved. So thank you. Thank you so much. Is there anything maybe that I didn’t know enough to ask you that you would like to, As we wrap up?

Lindo Bacon (56m 38s):
No, I, this was a beautiful conversation, Christine. Thank you,

Christine Okezie (56m 43s):
Lindo. You’re a gift to the world and I wish you a speedy recovery. And thank you so much.

Lindo Bacon (56m 50s):
Thank you, Christine. It was delightful talking to you

Christine Okezie (56m 53s):
And for all our listeners out there, please visit www.lindobacon.com to get more information and please go out and purchase your copy of Radical Belonging on Amazon or wherever you get your books. It is a powerful, authentic, revolutionary read, and in my opinion, truly medicine for all of us during these times.

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