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How You Can Turn Addictive Behaviors into an Obsessive Focus | Dotsie Bausch on Impact Theory | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "How You Can Turn Addictive Behaviors into an Obsessive Focus | Dotsie Bausch on Impact Theory".
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Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of Impact Theory. I am here with Olympic silver medalist, Dotsie Bausch. Dotsie, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you. I'm stoked to be here. Very, very excited to have you. Um, when I, I've met a few Olympians in my life and I am always blown away by the extraordinary amount of effort that it takes to get there. And I know at least as of when you competed, you were the oldest. Person in your event to ever compete in the Olympics, which is pretty extraordinary.
Journey To Recovery
What has your journey been until now? (00:34)
39 if I'm not mistaken, which is, I mean, that's really, really unbelievable. Um, how old were you when you most Olympians start when they're young kids? But how old were you when you first picked up a bike and started to get into it? Um, yes, I was old. I hobbled up on that podium, but I made it both because I was old and because my legs hurt really bad. Probably it's just accomplished out on the track. But I was 26 when I, when I first picked up a bike, I mean, really, I mean, I have like a banana seat bike that I wrote around my neighborhood when I was like 10, but, uh, really, you know, picking up an actual bike and riding any distance further than five miles. I was 26. Wow.
How do you handle the addiction to rigidity? (01:16)
What when you think about, so first of all, and we'll, we'll get into your early story, but so you, you start in a pretty gnarly place and the bike sort of becomes somebody, your therapy, how do you begin to take something so seriously? Was that a long, slow process or was that something that is just a part of your personality? If you're going to do something, you're going to do it all the way. So picking up the bike in the first place was really a suggestion for my therapist. I was healing from, um, I was healing for Manorexia. It was very ill and, and throughout that, uh, couple of year journey of healing with her towards the very end, she really wanted me to be able to move my body in a healthy way again. And I was living out in Los Angeles at the time. It's still am. And, you know, it's sunny, 365 days. And so she said, you know, it's just select something outside, but I won't want you to pick a sport or an activity or some kind of movement that, you know, it's like, all right, this is something that I, I feel like I would enjoy doing. And it would be also something that we kind of lean out of, um, you know, prior bad behavior, which, uh, as an anorexic, uh, and oftentimes anorexics have over exercised disorder, which I had, which was multiple hours of the jam on the stairmaster and the elliptical and the treadmill. So it was like, those are not on the table for something you can pick. So I just really quite have hazard with those bicycle. I said, what if I get a bike and she said, I love that idea. So I got one. It's interesting. So one thing, um, I, I used to be about 60 pounds heavier and I went through a process of getting lean. I will say it's probably the most difficult thing that I've ever done. Um, I did it through essentially rabbit starvation. So I was only eating more or less boiled chicken and steamed broccoli. It was ruthless. Uh, but I remember thinking like, okay, I have an insane amount of discipline. I can get through this. There was a lot of pride in controlling like what I ate. There was a lot of pride in watching myself get leaner. And there was, there was like an enthusiasm to how much can I suffer? How hardcore can I be? And I remember thinking, ooh, like this is how people end up being anorexic. Like you, you sort of fall in love with how disciplined and hardcore you can be. So I remember giving my wife like a chip. She could cash it anytime. And I said, look, I know that I am racing towards body dysmorphia. And no matter how lean I get, I feel like I have more to get lean. Now I'm still trying to maintain muscle mass. So I wasn't emaciated or anything like that, but I could tell I was playing a dangerous game. And I remember saying to my wife, if I ever get to the point where you think, okay, this is now problematic, you say to me, this is problematic and I will instantly stop and turn around. But I'd be curious to know what you think about that level of discipline that anorexics have to have. And do you think that applied to your ability to get so fucking good and to suffer so much, to become as, as impressive as you were on the bike? Oh, I'm absolutely positive that the suffering aspect played a role because I remember always thinking when I was cycling and any kind of aerobic endurance sport involves an excruciating amount of suffering. So many people don't really recognize like the deep dark places you have to go to push past barriers to get better, to improve. And so when I was in the depth of suffering, whether I was in a race or whether I was in a training or whether I was in the lab, being tested on whatever it might be, I always remember thinking, A, it'll never ever be as bad as it was, ever. It'll never hurt that bad is when I was suffering with anorexia. And two, and almost more importantly, this is going to end. And it's going to end in the next 30 seconds to three hours. Whereas with my illness, I thought there was ever going to be a, so I didn't have that hope when I was struggling from anorexia, but was cycling. It was like, this hasn't been. And then all the beauty shows up of either I won the race or whatever, I helped a teammate or it's going to be something good at the end, or if it's just a big, huge pasta dinner. Something is going to be good at the end of that finish line. So it probably was one of the key reasons or vehicles that fueled me for being able to suffer like that on the bike.
Burning Obsession Into A Positive Passion (05:39)
That's super interesting to me. And I want to get into this sort of deep, dark place that one has to go to do something extraordinary, which I will say is almost certainly a universal aspect, whether it's getting great, like you did at a physical pursuit, or whether it's something like business or whatever the case, like you're really going to have to dig deep. But the fascinating thing about anorexia is you can't give up food, right? So with drugs, you can just sort of give up drugs and you're done and that's that. But you can't do the same when it comes to food. Did you intentionally change your relationship to that discipline and that drive and point it at something? Or was it as you began racing, you began to realize that there was a sort of similar energy and you thought, okay, I'm going to co-op that? Like, how did that relationship? And I guess what I'm really driving at is, to me, it's what I call the sickness. To achieve something great, you need a sickness. You need something that pushes you so hard that people begin to worry that you're obsessed. And that can go in a negative direction or it can go in a positive direction. It seems like you've experienced both and I'm just really curious about how you manage that relationship. Yeah, I have so many people in the midst of my career towards the end as it was leaning into Olympics. And if that was just replacing this other disorder, this other disease, the obsession with training, which you are obsessed. If you are an Olympian for sure, it is your whole day, every day, day in and day out year after year. And I think the answer is probably so. But that was okay. The part of my personality that was so addictive in nature and so self-loathing that drew me into the anorexia was that exact same part of me is the Olympian. So, it was just, to me, it was just like the other side of the coin that showed up and it was something that turned into something beautiful. And now it's looking back on it. You can't believe that was the same side. You flip it and there's the other. I think so many people can learn from their pain and their suffering. So many people don't. They lose their life to whatever the addiction is. But once you can just crawl to the other side and just sort of peek in, so much goodness on the other side and it's the same you, but it is just doing something completely and entirely different with it. But you still get to be a, you know, addicted crack hit. And I say, I don't say that lightly, I wasn't also an addicted crack hit. So, along with the anorexia. So, but it's like a joyful, smiling, like healthy, good for the world and good for yourself addicted crack hit on the other side, for sure. Yeah, that to me, and I know you say that somewhat tongue in cheek, but I think there's like a key to the universe in that, which, so there's this Stanford biologist named Robert Sapolsky. And he talks a lot about understanding how disorder falls on a spectrum and that something when taken to its extreme, you can actually recognize that you may have some of those elements just there sort of on a lighter end of the spectrum. But once you realize that that it is sort of this fluid spectrum, then it becomes a question of, what am I aiming this thing at? So somebody who spills over into pathology, if you back up a couple steps, it may have actually been incredibly useful, which is why it continues on, right? So when I was, and I am making no claims, I was not anorexic, I did not suffer in a way, people that suffer from that is so brutal and I'm not trying to in any way shape or form insinuate that I was in that. But when I was dieting, I tapped into something that I thought, whoa, this is the first time where I grabbed the hold of something powerful and I thought, this could help me or this could hurt me. And understanding that now I get to choose what I pointed at, I get to choose whether I'm pursuing becoming an Olympian or I'm trying to disappear and I think it would benefit everybody to hear you talk about sort of why you were headed down that path. And I also want to tease apart two things you said, so there was the self-loathing and there's that hyper discipline of the anorexic and you said that both of those are the same as the Olympian. And so framing this for somebody who's going through this now and they can only see the bad, they can only see the negative and they don't see how quickly that coin can be flipped to now, hey, aim this at something incredibly powerful because you're touching on two things, some of the most extraordinarily divisive things I've ever said are you need to be obsessed and this is a competition that gets me in trouble every time I say it. And that self-hatred can be useful, but it can also be wildly destructive. And so I'd love to hear you sort of tease those two things apart or say no, like for me they've just been inextricably together and then how that was a part of your journey. Well, first of all, I don't know how quickly the coin can be flipped. For me, it was not a quick flipping at all. What was that timeline? Oh, it was, I was sick for about five years and it was, it was two years before I would say I was, you know, considered myself. Well, you know, I don't know. Two years of after you started therapy? Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, I went into different treatment centers, did all sorts of therapy with different therapists that I hated and lied to the whole time and so, you know, putting that behind and really the therapist that's been in the way that I was. And really the therapist that saved my life that I connected with almost on day one and stayed with for two years. Yes, our journey was two years. My healing journey was, you know, from the beginning of treatment was, you know, like three and a half or something. But the first year and a half I wasn't, I was like, I'm not signing up for this. So, you know, it's just other people were in my life saying, you know, you need to get help. So, you know, you kind of go through the motions to keep them at bay. And I was satisfied, but that it was it was a good, it was a good two years of pretty in depth, really in depth work, you know, in the beginning, three, four days a week, you know, towards the end once a week, but it wasn't. So it was a lot of unraveling of stuff and being able to locate and understand my inner pain and where it was coming from and we did it. She was a meditation therapist. So we did a lot of, you know, physical meditation of when I was really on the brink of a binge or a purge, you know, stopping and placing my awareness on the pain inside my body, giving it a shape, giving it a texture, giving it a size, even, and being with it because with my disease, I was completely disconnected from my physical self, you know, is mind and body and they were living two separate lives. So we had a lot of work to do to connect to, which is really interesting moving into life as an athlete because, you know, your body becomes your vehicle for success. And if the two aren't inextricably inextricably linked, it's at least a some degree, you're not going to be able to push through the suffering with your mind, right, but be able to explore what the limits are and with a possibility of a physical self can, can, you know, can get to. Talk to me a little bit more about getting into your body. That's definitely me putting more awareness on the pain.
Linking the Mind and Body (12:55)
So I think that's a lot of work to do. I think that's a lot of work to do. I think that's a lot of work to do. I think that's a lot of work to do. And you know, can get to talk to me a little bit more about getting into your body. That's definitely me putting words in your mouth, but the thought of sort of relinking the mind and the body. Why was that useful? I can see how you would need to pull them apart if you're going to ask your body to suffer as much as you did. But why does healing begin with bringing them back? Like, how does that function? Okay, so everybody out there that is, you know, has a disorder is addicted to a substance, let's say substance abuse or alcohol abuse or, you know, sex addiction or porn or whatever your candy is right. And, you know, a lot of people have a hard time putting eating disorders in that category, but it is addictive behavior and that's just the poison I chose was starving myself and then, you know, then eventually bingeing and purging. That was just the poison. And I also had, you know, like I said, sidekick with the cocaine addiction, but the real issue, my mean, my real poison was this, that's how I acted out on my inner pain. So all of us who have an addiction, whether there's a general addictive nature of you or not, 99% of us are acting out on inner pain in some way, shape or form, whether it is in the subconscious or it is in the conscious mind, you are acting out of inner pain. So when you're in the throes of, okay, I'm going to have my next drink or I'm going to have my next hit or I'm going to have my next binge and throw up. You are completely disconnected mind and body because you're so in that space of like I need to have this right now. And it's all here. It's all you're not experiencing any aspect of what that pain is that's making you, you know, step over the threshold to the next drink or that you're just you're completely ignoring it. You're not paying attention to it. You're not in it. You're not feeling it.
Automatic Context & Awareness of Intense Emotions (14:56)
So her, her mechanism was to, it really was pretty great, the way that she had me do it. I had to go to the office supply store and buy blue dots, blue sticky dots, like, you know, like this big, and I had to place them around the house on areas of the house that triggered me as you can imagine it might be the refrigerator and the toilet and the bathroom door stuff like that. Okay. So when I was, you know, mindlessly getting ready to go for a binge, because that's the space that you're in when you're, you know, even when I was, you know, snorting lines and nightclubs and all night long. You know, you're just, it's not like I am now going to go have a line of cocaine. Like you're just right. You're not in it. You're just. So when I saw one of those blue dots, which was me heading to, you know, do something destructive, I had to stop. I had to take five seconds, and I had to locate and experience the part of my body that was in pain. And I mean, at the beginning, I was like, I'm not in pain. My body's not in pain. What are you talking about?
A Quick 5 Seconds to Self-Forgiveness-Julia's Trick to Recovery (16:01)
Yeah. It is. It is. It absolutely is. So every time I would stop, she said, you could do it in five seconds. All you have to do is stop. Locate the inner pain. Where is it? What size is it? What does it feel like? Then if you still want to go binge and purge, have at it. Well, that was like the most brilliant therapy thing I'd ever heard because in the beginning, you just need someone to say, do this and then, then you can go do your thing because it's relieving because you're so scared to stop, right? So it was relieving. So how did I carry out? See, why were you scared to stop? Oh my God, because it was like my, it was your best friend and your worst enemy. Just like drugs or alcohol or stuff. It's, you're, you're, you're absolutely madly in love with it. And then when you're sober, it's the worst thing that's ever happened to you. But when you're in it and you're doing it and you're about to do it. Oh, God, the romance, right? Like it's just, it's everything to you. So over time, I would be able to stop for a minute, two minutes, three minutes, five minutes, 20 minutes, and go through the full meditation that she wanted me to go through when in the beginning, I was like, five seconds, right there, out. Okay, Ben Jumperge. Over time, once I was able to really deepen that practice and feel that I would open my eyes and go, I don't really need to bend right now. I think I can go outside and go for a walk instead. And that took some months. But wow, it was this freedom and because I had been able to connect and go, here it is, here's the shape. And then, of course, you know, without going, you know, on and on, on this show, you know, we were going into the depths of why that was in pain and where everything about it, right? Not just at shape and size, but what it was literally the nucleus of it was made of. So, yeah, it was, at the end of the day, a lot of it felt like, you know, fear-based work, right? Because when you do any kind of fear-based work, you're looking into unravel and unpack that pain. That pain, that pain, that fear, that anxiousness, that hurt, that, you know, that trauma, even though it's mind wasn't an event, there was a ton of trauma in there from just practicing my eating disorder, quite frankly, right, that was built in. So, yeah, I don't know if that answers your question, but it was never something like, here's exactly how this is going to work. Here's how I'm going to lay out, you know, I knew she was a meditation therapist, like you said that after her name. So, I think really, you know, yeah. Now that I resonate with that a lot, as somebody who's looked at cognitive behavioral therapy, you know, the difference between talk therapy, which I would expect you'd be talking about the food and your relationship to the food and how you think about your parents and all that stuff. And then there's a sort of more embodied cognitive behavioral therapy tends to focus on things like identifying what's going on in your brain basically. So, hey, if you're thinking that you're never going to be good enough, right, that you recognize that that type of thinking actually isn't true. You don't have any basis for believing that's true. Pattern interrupting, so the dots, you know, that, hey, you're so used to mindlessly going to the bathroom to vomit, like boom, the blue dot pulls you out of that and interrupts that pattern, it creates more space. So, it's just really interesting.
Why Is Obsessing Over Exercise Good? (19:24)
I find that when something is true, you get multiple disciplines converging on it from totally different directions. And so, it sounds like whether she intentionally is coming at it from a CBT perspective, or she just recognized a truth to the things that one needs to do to actually break these patterns, and that once you can get out of that pattern, get out of that death loop, now you can begin to form new habits and that brings us to the bike. So, I know that she was saying like, hey, as a part of your therapy, you should pick up a new movement. You grab that bike and let's pick that journey back up. So, at this point, are you realizing that, okay, I get this obsessive focus, can actually be usable over here? Or at what point does that become clear? Is that a couple years in? Is that a couple months in? Like, when do you begin to see that as potentially positive? Yeah, I love what you said about the confidence of therapy. Like, I have to say that was what attracted me to her most is that every therapist I had before that was like, wanted to spend what felt like a year on my childhood, and they had their yellow legal pad with their pen, and it was just, you know, oh, oh, yeah, you know, and it's like, I am sick now. We can go back to my family if you want to, but we need, I need step one through three in an hour in our first session so that when you leave, I can get to work, because I mean, I hit the real turning point was this suicide attempt, which it is for many people. And so I was there like, this isn't like, we can talk about my mom next year, literally, and she was like, you got it. And we literally started talking about my mom, like a year later, to when I was actually probably even more open and able to talk about, you know, any family stuff. But that was a big difference. And I just, I just had to say that because I feel like so many people need to, you know, find someone that's willing to go backwards and dive in, you know, and just, and because you're so desperate. And finally landing in the chair of someone helping you right is taking a lot of bravery just to get there. And so find someone that's willing to go backwards with you right start with what you wouldn't think start with now go back to childhood. But from the moment I started, you know, cycling when she said pick up a bike and, you know, I started riding just up and down PCH because it's gorgeous and you could ride up to Malibu and back with back when there wasn't too much traffic. And it was just, I just fell in love, like really insanely, really quickly, you know, and I think a lot of it was just the freedom and just feeling like I could just be, which I couldn't before because I wasn't connected.
Releasing Your Eating Disorder (22:16)
You got to tell me about the word releasing, releasing your eating disorder. What do you mean by that? I just, I had, I had beaten it. And now it was time to just kind of let it go. As in, I don't own this it isn't me. Well, as in, it's not my BFF anymore. Like this isn't going to be, this isn't going to be what I lean into when things get tough. This isn't going to be what I lean into when things hurt, or when I have a broken heart, whatever all the crap that's coming next in my life because we're all going to have it. I was no longer going to be my go to and I had, I was well, and I wasn't leaning into it, but I was still very fresh. And I hadn't had enough challenges to prove to me that that wouldn't be my go to, right, when stress and strain and hardship and, and, and, you know, just life anxiety came on. I had, I just remember having a lot of bike rides going. It's just, you know, it was, it was kind of like the, you know, the goodbye letter you write to the former lover. So I, I decided, you know what, if I'm going to ride this many hours and miles, I want to do something good with it. So I signed up to do the California AIDS Ride, which I'm San Francisco to Los Angeles. It's like, they don't go a direct route. So it was like 700 miles in seven days. And that's where I just, I was like, I don't know how I am going to make a living doing AIDS rides. But this is what I want to do. And it was like, obviously that's not going to be it. But the guys that I rode with on the AIDS Ride were, you know, pretty accomplished and they've been riding for a long time and I was, you know, suffering a lot, but staying with them. And at the, at the end of the AIDS Ride in Los Angeles, they turned and said, you know what, you need to maybe try a race or something because this is a little abnormal that you're on a mountain bike. And we're on road bikes, you know, you're on a mountain bike with shocks and you're keeping up with. So, you know, maybe you should take, you should just sort of just at least dive in and see if there's something here.
Any Strategy in Sight? (24:12)
Is there ever a point where you start putting a strategy together or is this just sort of one foot in front of the other having fun sort of chasing that high? Oh, shit, I was chasing a high wasn't I probably was. No strategy whatsoever. I mean, I just didn't know enough to put a strategy together. Like I literally sat down with one of the guys in the AIDS Ride and said, well, I don't know how to do a race. He's like, well, I think you need a license and I was like, who gives out licenses? And he's like, I don't know, maybe USA cycle. Good idea. Go to the Internet. I mean, it was like, you know, just, I was just true green. So, I did a couple of my first races and quickly realized that the main thing I was behind the eight ball in was what we call in cycling, you know, miles in your legs. I didn't have enough miles in my legs. I was also not technically good enough, which I never became really technically good enough in my opinion because I started in my six. About the time we went to silver medal. I think we've gotten about as technically proficient as we need to. No, I am absolutely 100% positive. I'm the only cycling Olympian in history that can only clip out with one. That is hilarious. I would fall over. It's like, really? Yeah, no, I never gotten really that great at the technicality. A lot of people were scared to ride next for probably many years. But anyway, I decided I need to get some miles in my legs. And I had a pretty, at the by that point, I was working again and I was working in commercials and music video doing like art department production. So, you know, set design. And I was making really solid money. I lived in Venice on the beach and I thought, if I get a job downtown bike messaging. It's 26 miles downtown, obviously 26 miles home. All the guys, because it was only guys that are bike messengers down there. They'll help me with my skills. I'm going to probably do 10 miles just down there. So we're upwards of 60, 65 miles a day if I go get a job. That was $4.19 an hour. And so that's what I did. I quit the production job, which was like, you know, 87 times that per hour and got this bike messenger job. And, you know, over a year, it got quite a bit of miles in my legs. And I don't know if that was the best way to go about it, but it was just the only way that I knew how to do it and make a little bit of a tiny bit of a living. I'll try to get the miles of my legs out. So that's what I did. All right. So trying to put these pieces together for people to grab onto and say, okay, I'm going to be strategic. I'm going to learn these lessons. I'm really curious to know to take that job. Obviously, that is clearly the beginning of a strategy, even if nothing came before that to leave this high paying job and to say, okay, bike messenger hours on my legs. I got to do this. I'm going to go down there. I'm going to take this huge financial hip and I'm going to pursue something that I love. How does that begin to escalate? Are you pushing yourself yet? Are you saying like, I'm going to try to get to work faster than the day before? I'm going to deliver these packages faster than anybody else. Because when I think about anybody pursuing real greatness and you talked about this deep, dark place you have to go through to suffer to get the results. How does that, is there some joy beginning to build and getting better and improving? Well, I was basically just getting beaten to crap every day. I mean, why keep doing it strategy? Well, exactly. I mean, there's that side that there's that suffering side that just, you know, kept showing up that like, oh, you know, I could, I could suffer more than the next person. And that was a pleasurable part of yourself narrative where you're like, I value in myself my ability to suffer more than the next person. I just knew that I love cycling and it was going to take suffering. I have learned that much. And so I was going to have to get good at suffering.
Why Do You Love Something that Forces You to Endure So Much Suffering? (28:18)
Out of curiosity, why do you love something that forces you to endure so much suffering? Well, there's obviously many, many more aspects of it than the suffering part. You know, that's just an aspect of it. I was madly loved with learning something completely new. I, you know, I had never been good at any of it. It was kind of cool finding out that there might be just this like little bit of a hidden talent in something that I had absolutely no idea existed. Like I said, I loved just, I loved the freedom of just riding bike. I mean, that just felt so good. And then I started doing group rides, which is just, you know, a bunch of dudes because again, it was mostly dudes. You know, just kind of getting together on a weekend morning and it's basically a race. And I started doing those and I was getting, you know, dropped from the first, let's say, 10 miles and then the next week I would go and I'd get dropped at mile 11. And these are like 80 mile rides. So bad. One time that we were in CME Valley. I didn't know where I was. And I had to take a cab back to where my car was because I was so lost and dropped. And there was no cell phones and, you know, so, but I think that, that just, it's like the curiosity of that kept me in there. Like, could I next time maybe stay in 15 miles. And by that point, I had gotten a coach who was very encouraging. You know, there's definitely people along the route that kept me believing. If it was just up to me, I don't know if I would have believed all the way to the Olympics, you know, necessarily, but it was like, there was just enough every time. But it was never like, I never sat back. I'm going to write the, like, 10 year, 15 year strategy plan to make it to the Olympic Games. Like, there was definitely, definitely none of that. It was just, I always feel like it was just, okay, here's the road and choose the harder, the harder turn. This is a little bit easier if you keep going this way. Choose kind of the challenging one, a little bit harder one. Tell me more about that. Why do that? Because I think it made me better. You know, going on these group rides were like, I had no business on them at all in the beginning. And so every time I would do it, it was hard every time. And I knew if I pushed myself just a little bit more, or I went just a little bit harder, I would get just a little bit better. So it taught me that if I take the hard road, instead of the easy road forward, then I'm going to learn more. I'm going to be better trained. I'm going to be better set up for maybe eventual success. But at that point, I was just thinking about success, meaning like finishing the group ride, not success, like going to the Olympics, just like that is what is going to be able to, you know, get me there, I guess faster.
On not being extremely competitive with others during racing days (30:58)
And do you enjoy competition? Is that a part of your identity or your makeup? I'm very competitive with myself. I've never been extremely competitive with others. And that was kind of a problem. Like, it was a little bit, I mean, I don't know. It's maybe a blessing and a curse, you know, because I had some teammates that were highly competitive with other people. And the problem with that is you don't have any control over the other people. So that can be a, you know, a spiral downwards as well. But yeah, so very, very competitive with myself and seeing what's next. But I never felt extremely competitive with others. And a lot of my teammates that were very competitive with others, they would have to develop like this hatred of the competitor. And that never resonated with me. You said that it was maybe a problem though. Why would being competitive just with yourself be a problem? Well, towards the, towards the end of my road racing career, I had about a 10 year road racing career and then I switched over to the track more out of interest and excitement and because I was scared of it is really why I wanted to try it. I was just, I wasn't, I had gone so far beyond what I ever thought that I could do that I became kind of complacent and satisfied because I wasn't competitive with anyone else so it was just, that was the end of the road for me with road, which I guess would have been fine because I was, you know, very pleased with the races that I had won and what I had been able to do in Europe and, you know, it felt very fulfilling and, but because I wasn't competitive with other people all that much, you know, I was probably going to end your career too soon. Very interesting. Okay, now I want to talk about that deep dark place that one has to go through to suffer well and get the results. What, what does it mean to go to a deep dark place?
Going to a constant deep dark place for results in recovery (32:42)
It's hard to put words on, I think, it's very hard to like just use language to describe what it is like or what it feels like. If that's what you're asking, like what it feels like? It is, absolutely. Yeah, like so I, I'm a huge believer in the darkness. I'm a huge believer in one learning to harness the ability to demand more from yourself than anyone else thinks is possible. And David Goggins has a great quote. He says, "When you think that you're broken and you couldn't possibly go another step, you're only 40% of the way there." And I thought that is so true and so powerful. And, but what does it take to convince yourself when you, when, when a part of your mind is screaming at you, this is it. There is no more. And you find something, a reason you find an anger, you find an animalistic impulse, you find something and you grab a hold of it and you leverage it. I know what I do, but I'm super curious to know what that moment was like. Like I know you had, I think it was called the anger stick or something that your therapist had you smashing the force. You obviously had learned how to take anger from a very diffuse place and channel it into something very specific and very concrete. And I don't know if it was something like that for you or, you know, what, what would you be harnessing? I think at the, you know, I think at the base of it, one of the, one of the biggest issues with our society and the lack of productivity with some is an extreme fear of being uncomfortable. No one wants to be uncomfortable. Every, every, every single company out there that's marketing anything to us right from pharmaceuticals to food to whatever it is. It's about us being comfortable, right? And just feeling pretty good or sort of good or kind of good. It's never about being uncomfortable. And so I knew that being uncomfortable was going to be the, it's always the key to change, not just in cycling. I mean, every single time it's, it is the key that unlocks change is being uncomfortable. So I knew that if I could push just a little bit more, I would get a little bit better. And some days I was able to go into, you know, a darkish cave. And some days I was able to go into pitch blackness. It depended on the day, but I knew that there was no way to getting better unless I got pretty damn uncomfortable almost every single time. So I just knew that to be the case. And like I said before, I think the ability to push really hard past the initial, you're in pain, you're in pain. What are you doing? Stop right now. You know, like your body says for survival mode was just a reality that I knew that it was going to get make me better. And it was going to be over soon. That was really part of it because it was not ever over for a very long time in my eating disorder. It was like, what is this going to be? You know, I mean, 30 seconds, we're doing minute intervals, you know, we're doing 10 minute intervals, or we're doing five, you know, five minute intervals. Like that's nothing. That's not really a real amount of time. And so that was just, I think, just that history that I'd had that I knew this is going to be over. And then what might I get from it? I was just way too curious of a person to see what might materialize if I was if I was able to go there. So, you know, curiosity, something that I think. And what did materialize for you? What has awaited you on the other side of that grand pursuit? Well, almost every single time is improvement. You know, it was just I was better. It would be five more watts that I could hold it threshold or, you know, incremental, right? But it was, you know, 50 more pounds times, you know, five sets times 60 reps on the legs on the inverted legs sled. I started out at about 300 pounds in before Olympics. It was 600 pounds. I was pushing times 60 reps times five sets, you know, but that wasn't like, I didn't go from 300 to 600 pounds overnight. You know, it was just, it was just little bits every time. And, and then it's so motivating, right? When you get those little incremental bits of movement forward that starts to show you, you know, there's, there's a real root to what now has become a dream that it's addictive. And I have a little addictive side of me. So that probably was part of it too.
Transition From Negativity To Positivity
The Anger Stick (37:46)
Talk to me about the, was it called the anger stick? Yeah, the anger stick was, was, you know, it sort of she had me work with that. It's almost the very beginning of our time together. And it's just like a, you know, like a bath towel rolled up super tight with tons of rubber bands on it. We still have it downstairs in our storage. And it was one of the ways that she helped me connect me to me, right? Connecting that mind body again. So that experience of, of course, in any therapy journey, you know, you're going to hit anger spots where you're just so frustrated with something or you're so mad at something or you're just, you know, you can't get over this one thing or B. And so she would literally have me take this anger stick. I would get down on all fours and I would literally take it and whip it back and down on the ground like I was beating the ground, which is what I was doing. I know my downstairs neighbors were like, this is awesome you and therapy. But it was an extraordinary release of so many emotions that would come out. Mostly I did it by myself, but I got to where I could do it in front of her, which was a little bit of a process because you feel like a complete idiot when you're doing it. And then I would be able to stop, you know, always brought hysterical crying. I mean, I just could never do the anger stick without ending up in just a, you know, a bucket of tears. But when I was able to finally do it in front of her, then we could, we could sess through all of that. You know, what was coming up that was sadness and fear and everything. It was, it was really helpful when I started to be able to do it in front of her. But I didn't do the anger stick, you know, cycling was enough. Enough. You know, the anger stick was, was our first year of therapy. I would say we used it quite often. I asked because I once heard you say that, you know, going through therapy, the anger stick was a big thing for me because I needed somewhere to aim my anger or needed something to aim my anger at. And I thought, ooh, that's really interesting. And one of the things, one of the reasons I'm so drawn to Olympic athletes or any athlete that competes at that high level is you're learning to leverage something. So you've learned to leverage your addictive personality, your ability to be obsessive, your ability and willingness to suffer the way that you value yourself for doing hard things that, you know, like you said, instead of taking the easy path, you're always just doing that harder thing, that harder thing. And what I find so beautiful about your story is your life was bifurcated for a brief moment. I'm sure it felt forever at the time, but, you know, five or six years in the grand scheme of how much you've now ended up accomplishing, it, you know, was this blip of this, all these powerful elements of coalesced, but they're aimed at something that doesn't make sense. And it's destructive and self coercive, corrosive, excuse me, and you're telling yourself a self narrative that is self defeating and there's no joy and obviously you attempted suicide multiple times, if I'm not mistaken. And so to go from all of that to finding a way to aim it, all the same things, it's still you, right? You are the same person that was going through the hard times, is going through the amazing stuff, but you've learned to aim it at something incredible, so much you do. So much you talk about how you're beyond it, and I don't know if you've ever used the word cured, but you know that you're not struggling with it on a day to day basis, and that to me is so incredible that you were able to find this outlet, you know, whether it was the anger stick or racing, or now I know you're going super hard on activism, you know, you're finding things to aim these very intense traits that you have, but now at things that are giving you these extraordinary outcomes.
Switching from Negative Output to Positive Output (41:26)
And you know, I think about why do the show and like what all of this stuff is, it's about helping people do that, you know, to find a way to take something and find a new outlet for it. Like I tell people, don't try to get rid of the negative voice in your head, try to leverage it, use it for something. And your story is one of such extraordinary shift of output, and your willingness to suffer goes from trying to make yourself disappear to being able to do the inverse sled with 600 pounds for how many reps? 60. I mean, that's crazy. So the amount of like lactic suffering that one would go through doing that is insane. So yeah, it is absolutely breathtaking what you've been able to aim all of this stuff at. Yeah, that is a truly extraordinary story. Well, I mean, you know, when you're in it, it certainly doesn't feel like anything that you're describing right now in terms of its extraordinary mess. You know, it's just, you just, it's just, you just, just your story, you know, just those were just the decisions that I made or lack of decisions that I made and just kind of just happened. And it just, when I look back on it, it really just feels like there was just a whole lot of times when I couldn't, when I could have given up and I didn't, when I really look back and really sit there with the pivotal moments. It wasn't anything heroic. It was just like, I just decided not to give up. It's just the opposite of is, you know, just chose the opposite of giving up. That was it. Really, and, but just a lot of times put together, you know, not just once, but I don't know, probably three or 400 times. I had to make that choice, you know, just, I'm going to, I'm going to keep going. I really want to see what's around the next corner. And that's it. So I think so many people, you know, just instilling themselves with some of it just becomes just comes natural, but I think you can. Be more curious. And as I mentioned that before, that was a big driver was my curiosity of what was around the corner. Like, if I just suffered a little bit more, I just did something a little bit different than the next person or I just worked a little bit harder. So, you know, envelop yourself in, in, in curiosity of what might be if you sort of take that path that maybe not everybody else would take.
Jessie's Work (44:18)
And that is the perfect place to end. Where can people find you? Thanks for having me. Where can they find me? I'm terrible at social media, but I try, because like you said, I'm an activist now. Animal rights activist. So on Instagram, I am at vegan Olympian and I run a nonprofit now in that same space and the nonprofit is switched for good. So switch the number for good. And then we are switched for good on all the social media channels too. Amazing. Well guys, check her out. It's extraordinary. Her journey, as you just heard, is absolutely mind blowing and speaking of mind blowing. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe here. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. And that next step is the first step to evolving, changing, growing and learning and becoming literally the best version of yourself. That's the most beautiful thing. It's not going to kill you. And putting yourself in the game, you're giving yourself an opportunity to achieve something that everybody else had wasn't possible.