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Dr. Molly Lupo: “Listen to your breath”

Tap into your intuition. Listen to your breath. When you get that frenzied, anxious feeling, and want to binge eat everything in the pantry closet, slow down, and feel the feelings. It won’t be easy, it will feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s the only way that you can keep coming […]

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Tap into your intuition. Listen to your breath. When you get that frenzied, anxious feeling, and want to binge eat everything in the pantry closet, slow down, and feel the feelings. It won’t be easy, it will feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s the only way that you can keep coming back home to you.


As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Molly Lupo.

Molly lupo is a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She is a certified Adult Nurse Practitioner, Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Certified through Precision Nutrition, and she has Lifestyle Medicine training from The American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

She tried every diet under the sun, always looking for an external system to trust instead of her own. When she realized the power of eating in a nutrient dense way by counting macros, she gradually eased off macros, using them as a framework, but ultimately developed her own framework to trust — which she calls the 4 Ms!
 
She found that when she started turning inwards focusing on eating mostly nutrient dense foods + satisfying foods, putting time on her calendar to meditate, practicing mindfulness by using presence, and moving her body because it made her feel better, her whole world shifted.
 
She did lose weight, but it was more of a side effect from taking care of herself the way she knew how. It was a matter of leaning into her own intuition instead of the next fad diet that was out there. When she found a way to take care of herself, she could take care of everyone else around her.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Sure! I grew up in the heart of the midwest — Kansas! I have a twin brother who is a pharmacist, an older brother who is a physician, and was lucky enough to have two parents who supported us all and pushed us along the way to be our best selves.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I was having a hard time deciding what I would major in when I was in highschool. I prayed about it one night, and had a dream I was taking care of oncology patients. You would think (and most people do think this) that working in oncology would be sad. And, yes, of course there are really difficult moments. However, in my dream the people were filled with hope, and there was a lot of love going around on the unit. I woke up and knew I wanted to be an oncology nurse. I applied to nursing school, and loved learning about oncology, and my first job out of school, and most of my career thus far was spent in taking care of oncology patients.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My parents have always supported me. Whether it was on the field of an athletic event, or pursuing the next educational endeavor. They have always been there, always at my games, my graduation ceremonies, moving… they were there. I think that’s what you need..just someone to be there for you. Even when you lose, even when your heart is broke, they were there. I think that’s the most important thing.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

For me, I think the most interesting mistake if we want to call it that is that I failed out of a class in my Master’s program to be a Nurse Practitioner. I had to sit out an entire year. And, when I came back, I had outlined and developed a way to study that I had never done before. I was 100% committed, and there was not room for error. I ended up scoring a 98% on my first test that I took when I retook the class, and have been dedicated ever since. It really doesn’t matter how many times you fail, it literally only matters that you get back up. I went on to win an award at graduation that year, and pursued and was accepted to one of the most prestigious Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs at that time at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I love Tara Brach’s book “Radical Acceptance.” She talks all about instead of will powering your way out of feelings to welcome them in. Find a way to be in a relationship with them. Show yourself compassion instead of berating yourself. It’s where growth lies. Her book changed my life in terms of mindfulness and meditation practices.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Fall 7. Rise 8. It says it all. It does not matter how many times you fall, only that you keep rising back up. You will do great things if you can apply this. Life isn’t perfect, so we’ll make mistakes, we’ll fall, but the sooner you can get back up and keep on going, the sooner you can unlock your power.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am very passionate about helping women and moms especially lose weight by using macros as a way to understand food composition and nutrition in a sustainable way. I am even more passionate about transitioning them to mindfulness practices around food, tuning into their hunger/fullness cues, their hearts, and ultimately their own intuition so they don’t have to rely on another diet, they can rely on their own system and framework they develop.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

I love this question. I think it’s important to ask yourself what each of those categories look like for you because they may be different from the next person in terms of what you need. For me, I like to practice my 4 Ms- Macros (short for macronutrients), or focusing on nutrition daily is important to me because food affects the way we feel. The next “M” stands for meditation, I find meditation to be such an important piece in my life — it helps us slow down, activate our parasympathetic nervous system, and feel what is actually happening in presence. The next “M” stands for movement. For me, movement makes me feel good, empowered, and energized. So, whether I get a walk, a spin ride, a run, or some strength training, I try to move my body daily. The last “M” stands for mindfulness. The more mindful I am in my day to day, moment to moment practice, the more present I can be. When I’m more present the other demands in my life relax a bit because there isn’t room for that when we are truly experiencing each moment.

In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Daily Movement. It can be a walk, a spin class, strength, or yoga. Move your body in some sort of way everyday to feel empowered, clear in your thinking, and focused.

Incorporate Mindfulness Practices around food. Pay attention to which foods leave you full and satisfied, adn pay attention to which foods just leave you craving more and more.

Tap into your intuition. Listen to your breath. When you get that frenzied, anxious feeling, and want to binge eat everything in the pantry closet, slow down, and feel the feelings. It won’t be easy, it will feel like the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but it’s the only way that you can keep coming back home to you.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

I love all of Tara Brach’s meditation and spiritual teachings. I love @onepeloton yoga. I love flow yoga, yin yoga, and actually just practicing my headstands. It’s a way to go back into the body and get out of our heads.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Developing a morning routine. If I get up early before my kids, I can have some coffee, do a meditation, workout, and journal. The more practices that come back to myself, the more deeply I can pour into the cups around me.

Breathing instead of Bingeing. It’s going to be hard. It will be the last thing you want to do. But, in order to engage the parasympathetic nervous system (the calming nervous system), we have to find new action steps to take when we want to binge.

Get 150 minutes of movement in a week. If you are nowhere close to getting that many minutes, start where you are, and gradually increase by 10 minutes or so until it’s become a consistent habit. Walking has been associated with decreased levels of depression, anxiety, and helps clear our heads. It’s good to take a break!

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

I love this question. Of course it’s important to eat more vegetables, and to watch your sugar intake. However, I think it’s the opposite of healthy to start banning foods, food groups, etc…especially with someone who may struggle with disordered eating. I think it’s so important to learn how to be around the foods without bingeing on them. With that being said, the hyperpalatable and processed foods are literally meant to make our brains crave more and more. They don’t satisfy us. Think about it…you can’t eat 5 apples, but you could eat a whole bag of chips. So, develop mindfulness practices around those foods, notice when you have the energy to deal with the craving brain, and notice when those foods aren’t worth it to you. But, always always, find a sustainable way to be around all foods.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Meditation- even starting with 30 seconds a day, and building up. The more you can tolerate and see what’s going on within yourself, the more you can observe thoughts, pivot, and make changes you want to.

Gratitude- this one you hear over and over again. But, even having a daily practice…and also, coming up with 3 new things you are grateful each day. It shifts our brains.

Write a note. Writing is so good for our brains and souls, and we forget about it. We get so busy we don’t think we have time. But, it enriches relationships when you take the time to sit down, write someone a note, and let them know you are thinking about them. It changes you, and it changes them.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

I love it! Anything that can brighten your spirits or someone else’s spirits are wins to me.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Meditation. Find a kind you like. If you like loving kindness, if you like guided, or visualizations. Find what you like, and do that.

Journaling. Journaling is a way for us to get our thoughts that are swimming in our head onto paper. It’s a way to separate ourselves from our thoughts, and see what’s going on, what we want to change, and how we want to live authentically.

Meditation Readings. I love Melody Beattie’s work, and I love starting by day by reading something that grounds me, puts things in perspective for me, and reminds me that no feeling can consume me or is bigger than me. There is a whole big, and beautiful world out there for us.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

All of the research about nature and our wellness checks out. I think it’s something like 10 minutes outside is a way for our brains to start to relax. We have no other choice when we go outside, we hear the birds singing. We see a beautiful sunrise. We feel the crisp air on a cold, winter morning. We taste what’s around us. We can touch the grass. It’s a way to engage in presence because we can use all of our senses.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would hope to inspire people to breathe instead of binge. Tap into themselves instead of diet systems. Learn how to hear their own intuition, and listen to it. It’s ok to rest. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to keep showing up.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Geneen Roth (author of Women, Food, and God).

Tara Brach

How can our readers further follow your work online?

www.mollylupo.com

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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