David Zappasodi has been a weight loss professional for over 22 years, is an International Bestselling author, and is the founder of Brain Flip Weight Loss.
His approach, called “brain flipping,” is revolutionary in the world of weight loss, and is specifically designed for the most difficult weight loss cases: Those who have major food and body struggles, those who have been frustrated and stuck for years or decade, and those who have tried every program out there without ever having long-term success.
In this episode, we talk about his counter-intuitive ways to deal with cravings, binge-eats, and create a better relationship with exercise.
Table Of Contents
- Brain Flip Weight Loss: An Introduction
- How To Bust Food Cravings
- How Brain Flip Occurs
- Creating a Psychological Journey
- How Long Does It Take To Brain Flip
- Find Out More About Brain Flip: David's Special Offer
Connect with David
Brain Flip Weight Loss: An Introduction
Mike: What I've heard about you is that people come to you when all else has failed when it comes to nutrition. "I tried this thing. I tried this thing, and what I really…" What I've come to the conclusion on in this line of work is most people know that they shouldn't be eating that donut, or they know what to do in order to eat healthy, but they end up sabotaging themselves in some way, or they end up binge eating. Even though they know they're not supposed to eat the Snickers bar at three o'clock every day, they fucking do it anyway. It really fascinates me with the type of work that you're into, because you're able to help shift people's relationship to food all together. You call it Brain Flip. It's like a 180?
David: It is.
Mike: When I hear that, I go, "Oh, there's a 180 that happens here."
David: Yeah. They go from feeling completely imprisoned to feeling completely free.
Mike: Of what?
David: The attachment to the food. It's not that the food tastes any different, or that they don't still enjoy it, it's just that they don't have that stigma. They don't have the attachment that they need to have it in order to relax or to be unstressed or any of those kinds of things. There's no cravings any more for it.
Mike's shifting relationship with food over time
Mike: My experience has been I've always eaten pretty healthy, but I also had periods of time where I would binge eat on the weekends and things like that. I've also, as I've gotten older, and as I've been more cognizant of what I eat, and I've really shifted how I think about things and how I feel about things, a lot of stuff that I used to eat. I used to crave Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich in the morning, the chicken biscuit with a little bit of jelly on it. I would let myself have that on Friday mornings, and I didn't… I thought it was so good, and then I tried it again maybe a couple years ago. I was in the south, and I go… Nothing at Chick-fil-A excites me, but I used to love that, so maybe I'll try it out. It didn't even taste good anymore.
Mike: I've had a lot of people come up to me, and they offer me junk food at a party, and I'm like, "No. Really don't. I don't even want it." I used to have to use will power, but now I don't even want it. Then they look at me and go, "Oh, you must not love yourself," or whatever. I'm like, "No. I'm not eating that because I do love myself." I'll feel like shit if I eat that. It's not worth it. It's not good enough.
Mike: I've had that experience of shifting the relationship with food over time. I imagine a lot of people that have cravings couldn't even imagine the cravings not being there.
Brain flip the cravings
David: Yeah. Well, the people I work with, that's definitely the case. You can brain flip, or reprogram, these foods like you did through inspiration or moving in the direction you want to go in, and then that sort of lets things fall away. Like you said, it is a slower process, and it is more gradual. The people that I work with, their food addictions are call-consuming. They're thinking about it all day every day. If they're at a party, they're talking to someone, they might be looking them in the eyes, but all they're thinking about is getting over to that table so they can get the food.
David: Everything is about food as well as their body weight. They're very overweight most of them, and they really struggle with that as well. The way that I look at it, there was a famous TED Talk by Simon Sinek. It's one of the most popular ones to start with your why. Like, "Why do you really want this?" I don't start with why. With the people I work with, I don't find that that's an effective means for them. I'm a martial artist. I've done martial arts my whole life. I just take the energy of whatever's given to me, and I work with that.
David: If they're working with a lot of pain and struggle, I use that to brain flip the cravings. They actually brain flip the cravings with their own struggle that they have with them.
David's career as a weight loss expert
Mike: How long have you been doing this?
David: I've been a weight loss expert for 23 years. I don't know how to say how long I've been helping people with brain flips, because it was a gradual process through years of tinkering and fine-tuning and streamlining what works and what doesn't. It wasn't until maybe in early 2018 that I really solidified a specific sequence of working. First I work with brain flipping cravings for unhealthy foods like ice cream, donuts, chips, whatever their issue is. Fast food. After that, I then brain flip overeating, which is a very different kind of challenge from cravings.
David: There's a lot of people I work with that they don't have cravings from unhealthy food. They eat healthy food, but they eat so much, they don't know when to stop. Then they feel gross and bloated after every meal. They're sick and tired of it, and they gained weight from it.
David: After those two, the cravings and the overeating, are completely done, then they're starting to feel excited. They feel like a new sense of power, because, "Wow. This is an addiction or a struggle I've had my whole life," for most of these people, "and now it's gone." They literally can't drum up a craving anymore, and they get excited. At that point, then we brain flip the body, so that it's safe for the body to lose weight.
David: It's not just about nutrition and exercise, as you already know because you're very in personal development, but it's not also about mindset, just mindset, either. It's a sensory experience. It's not a psychological experience. It's a sensory experience is how I'm flipping the brain to help them to become free of the struggles.
Stopping exercise at first
Mike: What about people who… I know quite a few people who they're not way overweight, but they can't see to lose that last 20 pounds, and it's due to those cravings or that over-eating. You work with those people?
David: Yeah. I know this is going to sound completely radical to people, but when I first start working with people, I tell them I want them to stop exercising, because the people I work with usually… This might not be the case for your listeners, because if they're listening to you, they probably are exciting about exercising, fitness, and getting in shape, so if a person comes to me and they're-
David: I mean, if they're doing it out of a sense obligation than from a sense of inspiration, I have them stop doing it all together.
Mike: I would say a lot of my training, the majority of my life, the training I did was more out of obligation. I would have told you I loved it, but looking back on it I go, "Oh. I probably…" What I know is true is when I started, when I shifted my relationship with training, I cut my training in half because most of it was out of obligation, but not all of it.
David: That's in a way sort of like what I do. Not cutting it in half. It's quite a bit more than that, but basically I have them stop exercising at first, and then I have them go and buy the junk food or the sweets they have the strongest cravings for, and I have them eat them every day whenever they have a desire. They have to be really honest. If I have a desire, I'm going to eat it.
Rewiring the brain while eating
David: Then thing is, I have them eat it in a way that rewires or reprograms their brain while they're eating it, and they become free of the addiction through the very act of eating it in a different pattern than they ever ate it before. We can get into in a minute what that looks like… Then after they are free of the cravings, then we move to over-eating. Then once they're free of cravings and over-eating, all the food struggles are gone at that point, they start to feel excited. At that point, I then reintroduce exercise, and I reprogram the exercise with the excitement.
David: Now, in the beginning, I'm only having them exercise for about five minutes, maybe six minutes. Depends on how long the vision tool is that we create that we use to reprogram them. In the beginning, they're just doing it for like five minutes, six minutes, until they are dying to do more, and then I allow them to increase it. Like how you cut it in half, it's sort of a similar thing to that. You're just cutting out the fat, getting streamlined, getting lean on what you really want to do.
Mike: I cut it more than half. I cut it to the point where if I didn't feel like going at all, I didn't go. I ended up doing a lot of stuff at home just for 10 minutes at a time. It's funny, because what you're talking about is, "I kind of did this with myself in a way." I wasn't trying to do it. It was just I started listening to my body, and I go, "Oh, it wants something. This isn't what it wants. It doesn't want me to squat heavy three days a week."
How To Bust Food Cravings
Mike: All right. How do we bust these cravings?
David: Excuse me. When a person has a struggle with cravings, We all know of it as a vicious cycle, right? Where they want to stop eating it, but they find a way they keep getting drawn, sucked, back into it. The reason for that is because there's a paradox going on. There's two aspects of the brain, and these aren't like technical things you're going to find in a book. This is just my functional way of describing it.
David: There's the thinking brain, which is all about our ideas and perceptions about life, and then there's the sensory brain. Some people call it the reptilian brain. Some people call it the survival brain. I call it the sensory brain, because that is actually literally what it is. It's the sensory experience of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
Mike: Is that feeding into the limbic system?
David: But without the thought of what we're experiencing.
Mike: Right. That part of the brain forms… I mean, if we're talking about the limbic system, that forms first, and that's… The rest of the brain doesn't experience full development until after somebody's born. Even they start developing language, and that's a different part of the brain.
The vicious cycle of craving
David: Here's the thing. With that sensory experience, the sensory brain is only aware of the sensory experience itself. That's it. It's not aware of any of the thoughts, right? Let's say that a person has a vicious cycle with ice cream. Let's say that they're addicted to ice cream. Maybe when they were a kid, they came home every day and at night they hung out with their family, and they all had ice cream, so there was a sense of connection. You know like Pavlov's dogs how he'd ring the bell and give the dogs food, right? The ringing the bell and the dogs eating food, that happened simultaneously, and the dogs linked them together, because they have a sensory brain just like we do. It's no different.
David: The only difference is that we have higher thinking capacities than they do, but the sensory brain is literally identical. When we're younger, let's say that I'm eating ice cream, and I'm always doing it with my family, so ice cream on some level equals connection because it's happening enough at the same time to create that link, that association.
David: Now, what ends up happening later on when I'm older, and I have an addiction to it, there might be pain all around the cycle, around the vicious cycle. Before I eat it, there's the pain of having to use discipline and will power and trying to escape it or avoid it. Don't go down that aisle in the grocery store, because I might be tempted. Right? There's that, and that's exhausting. That's very painful. It's exhausting for people to have to live that way.
The paradox of the brain
David: On the other side of eating it is a different type of pain. After they eat it, now there's the pain of feeling ashamed and beating themself up and feeling like they're a failure. Negative self talk. Those kinds of things. In the very point of eating it, they're just like, "Screw it. I'm just going to eat it." They sit back. They watch TV. They do something. They check out with the food.
David: That part, where they're eating it..That's the only part that the sensory brain registers. The sensory brain only knows ice cream as a relaxing moment. All the thinking brain stuff, all the struggle beforehand of the discipline, all of the struggle afterwards of beating themself up, the sensory brain doesn't register any of that stuff.
Mike: It doesn't know that there's suffering happening.
David: It doesn't know that there's any… Well, it might know that there's suffering happening. Like during the thinking brain cycle, you might think something that makes you feel bad, and it can sense that feeling bad, but it doesn't link that feeling bad to the ice cream because you're not eating ice cream at that time.
Mike: It's like, "Every time my mom says this to me."
Mike: I've got to eat ice cream to feel better.
David: This is the paradox. What the thinking brain knows to be the problem… It's true. It is a problem, right? The thinking brain knows it's the problem, but the sensory brain experiences it directly as the solution.
Mike: I've also heard about this as thinking about that part of the brain, the sensory brain, as the main driver. Trying to overcome a sensory brain with a thinking brain is tough. It's like trying to direct that is unlikely.
How Brain Flip Occurs
David: It's the same in the other direction too. It's hard also, at the same time, to be so present in the body that you stop thoughts. I don't necessarily… I know that the sensory brain does develop first. The sensory aspect does, and then the cognition develops later on as the body gets more complex, and as the brain develops more, but over in functional everyday life, they're both influencing each other all the time.
David: Basically, the way that a brain flip occurs is what I do is I have people take all the pain that they're feeling in their thinking brain around the cycle, and I have them put it into that point of indulgence. I have them eat the ice cream in a really stressful way. Most people, when they hear that they're like, "Oh man. I don't want to have to do that. That's my one point of escape. That's my one point to just chill out and relax." I tell them, "This is where faith comes in, because if you put the pain into the one point of the vicious cycle where it's not at, it's going to get rid of all the other pain around it." It's going to demolish all of it.
Mike: You break the wheel.
David: It's going to demolish the whole… The whole vicious cycle will completely dissolve is what ends up happening.
Will Power & Discipline
David: Will power is a useful tool when you don't know how to get to the root of the problem. The reason it's useful is because it's just the best thing you can do, but because it doesn't get to the root of the problem… You can't get to the root of the problem through will power. It has to come from a change in the actual pattern.
David: When a person has an addiction to let's just say ice cream since we're talking about that, most people what they're trying to do is they might psychologically try to look like, "Well, how did that start? When in my life did I develop this issue?" Then maybe if they can figure out how it started, then they can dissolve it.
David: There's a lot of people that know exactly how it started. They know that their parents fed them that whenever they were feeling bad. It was a dependency type thing to get them to relax. They know that, and that still doesn't solve the issue. You can't solve the issue through will power.
Mike: Yeah. I think the awareness thing is interesting, because I've worked with a lot of people where they go, "Oh, I know. I know. I know where that came from. I have awareness." I go, "Great, have you made a change?" Awareness isn't doing shit for you.
David: It's not awareness. It's what they're aware of. Not to contradict what you're saying, but what happened in the past is not the root of the problem. The root of the problem is always what's happening in the present moment. When they're eating the ice cream, and they're relaxing, that relaxing is the problem. That's the root of the problem right there.
Creating a Psychological Journey
David: I have them create what I call a pain tool where they create this psychological journey that gets worse and worse. Basically like if they were to never become free of this addiction-
David: It's not something in the past. It's not something in the future. It's what happening right then. In the beginning, they create this psychological journey. It's basically the journey is if they were never to become free of these addictions, what's going to happen in their life? Maybe they'll gain weight. get diabetes or cancer. Maybe their kids will get diabetes. All the worst things that could possibly happen, and they're putting it into a script that I have them record. They're listening to it while they're eating the ice cream.
Mike: They start associating ice cream with that?
Mike: Will they just never eat ice cream again?
David: Well, no. They just become from of it by the end, the attachment. What ends up happening is that when they dive into the pain tool, and it's really painful, my first job is to help them get as deep into the pain tool as they can so that the cravings start to go away. The sensory brain is like, "We don't want to experience this. Ice cream equals experiencing this, so we don't want ice cream." The cravings start to go away. Then I switch roles, and I start trying to find ways to tempt them.
David: I try to do things to get them to be more tempted, and they keep using the pain tool. Eventually, I can't tempt them anymore. There's nothing I can do. Then I move on to overeating. That's how it works.
Why weighing in breaks brain flipping
David: The biggest sabotager of the third brain flip is weighing themself. That's like… I'm actually recreated the modules of my program. I'm going to be creating a whole module on how the scale completely demolishes people's success with my process, because what they need to do is they need to keep exercising until they're feeling light, and then when they're feeling light, it doesn't matter if they've lost weight or not.
David: Everyone knows that experience of waking up one morning and being like, "Oh, I feel great." When they're in that place, they can dive into their vision tool even more, which is going to get their body even more excited and reprogrammed for lighter. When the sensory brain registers that light equals safe, it'll keep losing weight.
David: The reason that people have a hard time losing weight. Usually it starts with addictions, like they have this addiction to ice cream or junk food or whatever, and in some way or another they gain weight. The last brain flip I have them with, it's the most important one, but have to do the other ones first. That one is that being heavy equals being alive.
David: They try to lose weight. They're struggling to lose weight. It feels heavy to lose weight. It's harder and harder and harder as they keep going. That's a sure sign that you're going to yo-yo back up, because you're not losing it in a way that's reprogramming the brain for lightness so that lightness is familiar enough that it feels safe that the sensory brain knows it can stay there.
Will power doesn't last
David: I'll tell you right now, from my experience, I've been in this industry over 23 years, a person can try to lose weight all they want, but if they don't reprogram the sensory brain the losing weight is safe, it will disrupt their hormone levels, it will get them to be exhausted, it will throw thoughts in their head that something's not working, or it will try to distract them with something else. It'll create a sabotage. It'll do whatever it needs to do to stop them from losing the weight. If it they do happen to lose the weight through sheer willpower, they will gain it back again because it doesn't last. Will power doesn't last.
Mike: Yeah. That's been my experience is you could use a lot of tools to try to keep the lid on it, or to get a result, but its exhausting.
David: That's why a lot of people when they gain weight back, they gain more than they had before. Putting a lid on, you're trying to cage an animal. When it comes out, it's even more ferocious than when it went in.
Mike: Yeah. Same thing. Having success with something should be easy in my opinion. The process to get there may be really difficult, like your process sounds like it's hard.
David: It does get easier as it goes on. I agree with you on that.
Getting to the root of the problem
David: The reason it's hard is because they're not getting to the root of the problem. If they don't get to the root of the problem, the problem stays there. I mean, you and I both know that from being in business that if we don't get to the root of what we're trying to do, everything that we do is going to fail, right?
David: The process with weight loss, to answer that, it does get easier over time, but challenges do come up. I find that the biggest thing that people need… If they find something like I do that gets the core of the issue, that can actually transform their life, what they need the most is not discipline. What they need the most is the courage to get out of their comfort zone and actually do it.
Mike: Pull the trigger.
David: Yeah. I tell people in my program there's two major things that they could do to sabotage themselves with this programming. In the foods, the big thing that could sabotage them is if they eat the ice cream without their pain tool. I tell them, once you start on this process, you have to do it every single time, because it's like raising a kid. If you punish a kid one time, but you reward them another time, they don't learn a lesson. The sensory brain needs the same consistency. If we're going to do this, you got to do it 100% until you're brain flipped. Once you're brain flipped, you're completely free.
How Long Does It Take To Brain Flip
Mike: How long does it typically take? I'm sure people go, "Fuck, man. If this is going to take three years."
David: No, no, no. It doesn't take that. Here's the thing. When I first was really looking at streamlining the process, I was looking at how short of a time could I get it down to. I got cravings down to about roughly about six to eight days. Overeating was shorter, but that's because they had already done a brain flip with cravings first. If they did overeating first, if they didn't have cravings, it was also about six to eight days.
David: With cravings, I'd say the average right now, if they do it every single time… They actually dictate the pace of their own brain flip based on their consistency they use their pain tool, how deeply they are willing to engage and really dive into it and feel that pain while they're eating it. The more painful it is, the quicker the brain flip.
Mike: I love this conversation.
David: Yeah. It really is. I tell them it's about creating the most painful pain tool that you can, which I help them to do, and I always help them to make it way more painful than they make it themself. Then it's about really engaging and diving into it, immersing themself into it. The more they do that, the quicker it occurs.
David: Most people that I work with, the cravings start to decrease within a week, and then over the next week or two we're really like I'm struggling to find ways to get them to be tempted. When I'm really struggling to find ways, I then get them into the overeating brain flip.
Typical clients before and after brain flip
Mike: Yeah. What does life look like for your typical client before and your typical client after?
David: My typical client before has tried like every program out there. I typically most of the people that I market to are people that are in… They're into the current stuff like paleo, keto, even though I'm not a big fan of all these things for everyone, they're trying vegetarian, they're trying organic food. They're trying to be healthy. They're into bio-hacking and life hacking and, excuse me, all that kind of stuff, but they're overweight, and they don't know how to lose the weight. They're using that stuff to try to lose the weight, and they're not doing it. They have these food struggles that are all consuming, and they can't get away from them.
David: Afterwards, they are literally the opposite of that. They're complete the master of their own food. If they decide to have ice cream one time, it's like, "Yeah, I'm out with some friends, and they're like, 'Let's have ice cream.' Okay. Maybe I'll do that." It's enjoyable, and they don't beat themself up after it, because it's not a big deal. They lose the weight, and they feel good. There's no chance of backsliding, because there's nothing to back slide. The new place that they're at is their new set point, so there's nowhere to backslide to anymore. They're free, and they're very, very calm. They become very calm and relaxed.
Find Out More About Brain Flip
Mike: Where can people find you? Where can they find out how to brain flip?
David: If anyone who's listening to this, what I want to offer you is if you're relating to what I'm talking about, if you have these major food struggles where you're trying to get away from them, and they keep coming back, or if you have a good amount of weight to lose, or you've been trying everything, you're working your butt off, you're spending hours at the gym, and nothing's working, what you can do is you can schedule a call with me. I'll take calls with your listeners.
David: The way you're going to do that is you're going to go to brainflipweightloss.com/talk. All right? You can schedule your call. All I ask is after you schedule your call… Go ahead and pick an appointment on my calendar. Afterwards, all I ask is that you fill out the form that comes up afterwards. It will only take you about a minute to fill it out. It's real quick, but it will help me to get a good gauge of where you are and what your struggles are, so that I can be prepared for when we get on the call.
David: When we get on that call, I'm going to really unearth what's going on with you, and take the stuff that we just talked about in this conversation, and really look at how it specifically applies to your life, so that I can help you to put these practices into action in your everyday life basically.
Mike: Right on. Thanks for joining us today.