Many times ADHD in women goes undiagnosed for years. My guest today didn’t know about her own ADHD until her son was diagnosed–she just always thought she had a weird brain.
Today, in this Thin Thinking Episode, we are delving deep into the world of ADHD with none other than Tracy Otsuka, the brilliant mind behind the groundbreaking book, ADHD for Smart Ass Women: How to Fall in Love with Your Neurodivergent Brain.
Tracy, a certified ADHD coach and the charismatic host of the wildly popular podcast, ADHD for Smart Ass Women, is set to challenge stereotypes and reshape perceptions surrounding ADHD in women.
Prepare to be captivated as Tracy shares her expertise, personal stories, and the transformative message of her book. Whether you have a personal connection to ADHD or are simply curious about the intricacies of the neurodiverse brain, this episode promises to be an eye-opener.
Tracy also invites us to view ADHD through a new lens, recognizing its unique place in the beautiful tapestry of human diversity.
So, set aside that to-do list for a moment and join us as we embark on a journey of inspiration and challenge.
Come on in.
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Rita Black: Today we are exploring ADHD with Tracy Otsuka, author of the groundbreaking book, ADHD for Smart Ass Women, How to Fall in Love with Your Neurodivergent Brain. In this interview, Tracy, a certified ADHD coach and host of the Wildly Popular Podcast, ADHD for Smart Ass Women delves into the misunderstood world of ADHD in women challenging stereotypes and reshaping perceptions. Prepared to be inspired and challenged as Tracy Otsuka shares her expertise, stories, and transformative message of her book. Whether you're directly impacted by ADHD or simply curious about the neurodiverse brain, this interview promises to be an eye-opener, offering a new lens to view ADHD and its place in the tapestry of human diversity. So put down that to-do list and come on in.
Rita Black: Did you know that our struggle with weight doesn't start with the food on your plate or get fixed in the gym? 80% of our weight struggle is mental. That's right. The key to unlocking long-term weight release and management begins in your mind. Hi there, I'm Rita Black. I'm a clinical hypnotherapist weight loss expert, bestselling author, and the creator of the Shift Weight Mastery Process. And not only have I helped thousands of people over the past 20 years achieve long-term weight mastery. I am also a former weight struggler, carb addict and binge eater. And after two decades of failed diets and fad weight loss programs, I lost 40 pounds with the help of hypnosis. Not only did I release all that weight, I have kept it off for 25 years. Enter the Thin Thinking Podcast where you too will learn how to remove the mental roadblocks that keep you struggling. I'll give you the thin thinking tools, skills, and insights to help you develop the mindset you need, not only to achieve your ideal weight, but to stay there long-term and live your best life.
Rita Black: Hello friends. Welcome. Come on in. I am so excited that today we are diving into my interview with Tracy Otsuka. As a parent, I know many kids around my children were diagnosed with ADHD as it was becoming a very popular therapeutic diagnosis at the time, you know, in the last 20 years, especially for kids. But it wasn't until years later when some of my adult friends, students and clients discovered that they too had ADHD. Many people from our generation grew up thinking they were just weird or something, or something was wrong with them, rather than understanding that they just had a brain that operated in a different way. So I'm really excited to share this now with you.
Rita Black: Tracy Otsuka is a certified ADHD coach and the host of the ADHD for Smart Ass Women Podcast. Over the past decade, she has empowered thousands of students from doctors and therapists to c-suite executives and entrepreneurs to see their neurodivergence as a strength, not a weakness. Tracy leverages her analytical skills from being a lead counsel at the US Securities and Exchange Commission to identify the right questions to ask her clients so that they could boost their productivity, improve their finances, and save failing relationships and live happier lives. Tracy's expertise and experience as an adult living with ADHD are regularly sought out by top tier media, including Forbes Attitude Magazine and the Gold Digger Podcast. When she's not sharing her thought leadership around ADHD on other platforms, she hosts her own, which ranks number one in its category and has over 5 million downloads across 160 countries. She also moderates a Facebook group with nearly 100,000 members. A married mother of two, Tracy lives in Sonoma County outside of San Francisco. Her new book, ADHD for Smart Ass Women is due out in December, 2023. So it is out now. So let's dive into my interview with Tracy.
Rita Black: Well, hello Tracy, and welcome to the Thin Thinking Podcast. I'm really excited to have this conversation with you today.
Tracy Otsuka: Well, I am so excited to be here because every time we talk about this subject, I'm telling you, there are women in your audience or people in your audience who think, oh, this doesn't apply to me. And by the time we've wrapped up, they're thinking very differently because, I just know that what we know about ADHD isn't what ADHD really is. So I'm excited too.
Rita Black: It's so fascinating when I heard about you because I have a very dear friend who lives in England, and she around my age, late fifties, and she literally went her entire life undiagnosed. And then she had a friend who was diagnosed and she said, I think that's me. And then she went and she got diagnosed and she said, my life has changed. My life has changed. I thought I was this weirdo. I thought like dark. So anyway, I'm sure we'll hear more about that, but that when I heard about you, I was like, I actually forwarded her all your stuff. I said, Rosalyn, you have to know about this woman. So I was very excited.
Tracy Otsuka: Well thank you.
Rita Black: Alright. So let's start by your defining what ADHD is for us so that we can be on the same page.
Tracy Otsuka: Sure. So the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, beautiful name, don't you think, would classify ADHD as a disorder, a neurobiological disorder. That means number one, you're hyperactive, or, and you don't have to have all of these components, right? But basically hyperactivity. You can't sit still, you're impulsive. You don't think before you act and you struggle with distractibility, you can't focus, you're all over the place. What I wanna start out by saying is that ADHD in my book is not a disorder. It is just a brain difference. And the reason I know this to be true is a study that came out of Canada last year in 2022. So in, I think it was February or March, and what this study showed is that 43% of people with ADHD are actually in excellent mental health. Not good mental health, not okay mental health, excellent mental health.
Tracy Otsuka: And so the first question, I was in the middle of writing my book, the first question I had was, and I knew this all along because I had met all these women, right? With my podcast, the first question I had is, why aren't we talking about this? Why are we consistently focusing on the pathology? All the things we can't do, all the things we struggle. Why aren't we looking at what those 43% of people in excellent mental health with ADHD are doing? And emulate that. So I think where it would be a good, a good place to start would be some telltale signs of ADHD that you don't normally hear.
Tracy Otsuka: So the first thing I would say is unexplained underachievement. So you work primarily with women, right?
Rita Black: Yes, for the most part.
Tracy Otsuka: Okay. So this would be a woman who you talk to her and you can just tell how bright she is. She's so interested, she's interesting, and her life doesn't match how bright she is. And you keep thinking what's going on with her? There's something wrong because she should just have achieved so much more given what comes out of her mouth, right? Her brain. This can also look like a kid who, let me hold off on that thought. I'm not, I'm not gonna, so it's unexplained underachievement where it just doesn't make sense. And I know what I wanted to say. You're gonna see my brain working, my ADHD brain working in full living color.
Rita Black: I think my ADHD brain is meeting your ADHD brain. They're gonna have a party.
Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. Really. So what it can also look like is outwardly to the external world, you look so successful, people think you've just got it going on, right? There is nothing you can't do. You are so, you seem so focused and like a straight arrow, when there's something you wanna accomplish, you accomplish it, but inside you feel like an imposter. You feel like, oh my gosh, if they only knew. So, you know, that you could accomplish even more than that, that you are still not living to your potential, even though by society standards you might look really successful.
Tracy Otsuka: Okay? The second thing is consistent inconsistency. And that is that you do the big things that nobody else can do, and you do them so well. But the everyday stuff, like your car's a mess. You can't get to work on time. You know, you never have food in the refrigerator. You could care less, you forget to pick up your kids, you forget you even have kids, right? Because you get so over hyperfocused in there on what you're working on. So consistent inconsistency can also look for kids like the kid who, this is my son who got A's and D's in the same subject in the same week. So it's just kind of like, you don't ever know, okay, when can I rely on my brain? When is my brain reliable versus when is it not? And then the third thing is that typical productivity tips and tricks that work for everybody else that everybody's talking about, they just don't work for you.
Tracy Otsuka: So I'll give you an example of the eat the frog. So, that productivity tip means that you're supposed to do the hardest thing first thing in the morning. And I will tell you that when I was writing my book, I'm a good writer, but I don't enjoy writing. It's really hard for me because writing requires linear thought. Especially when you're putting together, you know, something like a book on ADHD, and I'm all over the place. And so I, you know, to organize my thoughts was really difficult. And so I kept thinking, I need to do this first thing in the morning, right? It's right after I've worked out, my dopamine is firing. I could not do it to save my life. And I finally had to give up and just say, you're not writing until two o'clock. That is just the way it is. And that was a strategy that worked for my brain. You know?
Tracy Otsuka: Another one of these productivity tips and tricks that they always talk about is time blocking where you're gonna block out your whole week in advance. I could never do that. And part of that is my ADHD brain, you know, we like to operate in this free space of time that we do things when we want to do them. If you are gonna tell me that I have to do my writing at 10 o'clock in the morning, what happens if I don't wanna do my writing at 10 o'clock in the morning? I don't do it. So it's those three things that I think paint a better picture of what ADHD looks like. Now, I will say for women, we tend to be, they don't know many, you know clinicians don't even know what that, first of all, women have ADHD because for the longest time we thought it was, you know, prepubescent, white boys climbing up the walls, being annoying to their parents, their teachers, their coaches, and everyone around them, right?
Rita Black: Right. Yes.
Tracy Otsuka: Girls often don't present like that. So they were not diagnosed. Girls tend to have twice the amount of inattention than boys do. So the boys are externally hyperactive. The girls are more internally hyperactive. But when you're internally hyperactive, when your brain is constantly moving, you can be, you can ruminate, right? You can do a lot of second guessing. And what ends up happening is those you're internalizing your symptoms. So you're beating yourself up with all those thoughts and those voices versus boys externalize their symptoms. They're outwardly, you know, they can be aggressive, you know, hostile, obnoxious, loud, all of those things. Versus a girl within a 10 of ADHD can be like the model girl, right? She's sitting in the back of the classroom and she's in her thoughts and she's in her whole little fantasy world. Does not even have a clue what class she's in until the teacher's like Susan. And they're like, huh, what? You know? So those girls and women, what ends up happening to them is they go to the doctor, they tell them how they're feeling, and they're immediately diagnosed with anxiety or depression or many other, you know, personality disorders, et cetera, et cetera.
Tracy Otsuka: When really, if you treated the ADHD, I mean, you can imagine why you'd have anxiety and depression if you constantly feel like you don't measure up, you don't fit in, you can't do the things the way everybody else seems to be able to do them, right? So they're diagnosed with anxiety and depression. A lot of times those medications make the ADHD symptoms worse. If they were properly diagnosed with ADHD, were treated for ADHD, often the anxiety and depression resolves.
Rita Black: So the other thing with girls is boys are typically diagnosed. You see the symptoms seven to nine years old with girls. It's usually not until puberty. And that is because we are finally discovering that hormones, excuse me, estrogen regulates dopamine and what our brains don't make enough of. Or maybe it's that our brains don't process it the same way is dopamine. So you're talking about how your audience tends to be older women? So my circumstances was that my son was diagnosed with ADHD. I didn't see my symptoms in him for eight months. I read everything I could find out about ADHD to support him after we went to a psychologist and she told us that our job as his parents was to reduce his expectations, because he was far too ambitious, and he was going to be disappointed in life. So we never went back, of course.
Tracy Otsuka: And I was like, everything I read about ADHD was so depressing, so morbid, you know, all the car crashes, all the, you know, lifespans gonna be less. And so I decided I was gonna do the research, did all the research on him. It took eight months for me to figure out that, oh my gosh, he got it from me. And the two things that flipped it for me were, number one, drivenness is a form of distraction. Oh, I was nothing if not driven. I was go, go, go. I had gone to law school. I had gone to graduate law school. I had started a high-end women's wear company. You know, 60% of our business was Saxon Emmans, Nordstrom. I had worked with two dozen banks like this sounds all over the place, doesn't it? I had worked with two dozen banks to help them with their foreclosures in the RES.
Tracy Otsuka: And so, you know, I thought ADHD meant that you're just not very accomplished and you can't get out of your own way, and you're not very smart. So not true. The second thing I learned is one of the signs of ADHD is heightened interpersonal intuition. And what that means is you walk into a room, you may not even know the people, but you can read exactly everything that's going on. And if you think about it, if you've always felt like you haven't fit in, if you've always felt like you're doing things differently and you're trying to, you know, do it their way, but you can't, what ends up happening is you stop trusting your brain and you start really listening to your intuition. And so a lot of ADHD women, usually when there's autism, there's less of this. And autism and ADHD go hand in hand a lot as well. But typically you'll find that ADHD women have heightened intuition. So I've thrown a lot at you. Is this helpful?
Rita Black: No, that was good. This, that painted an amazing landscape. So I guess my next question for you is, what did you decide to write this book? Not from your son? Like, how was your, like, what was the moment you decided to write this book for women? Because I know you work with women.
Tracy Otsuka: Well so I wanted to learn. So my kids were growing up. My daughter had already, no, she hadn't left yet for college, but she was getting ready to leave for college. And I was always so ambitious. But once I had my kids, I just loved being a parent so much. And I still worked. Like I knew I had to do something else besides, you know, stay at home mom. And I, that empty nest stuff was coming up for me. And I knew I hadn't lived to my potential. But I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I kind of always go with my interest, which is how the ADHD brain works. That's the secret. And so I decided to learn everything I could about ADHD.
Tracy Otsuka: So the first thing I did is I started a Facebook group. Well, there was a lot of interest. And I was meeting, I've always had this goal my entire life. I wanna have friends all over the world. So if I, you know, stop into a city, I can ring someone up and say, let's go for coffee, or let's go for lunch or dinner. That was always a goal. I don't know why, but it was. And so I thought, oh my gosh, I've got this Facebook group. I'm meeting women from all over the world. I finally feel like these are my people. Like, they get me and I get them. Like, they're not, you know, sometimes I'll walk into a room and with my energy, people are like, you know, against the wall. It's like, you know, a wind blowing in. And they were just like me, many of them. So I realized that there was so much interest, and I'd always wanted to do a podcast.
Tracy Otsuka: I think a lot of ADHD women feel like this. They've got this voice and they need to get it out. And I think, again, if you feel like you haven't always been understood, we try so hard to be understood. And a podcast is the perfect platform because nobody can really talk back. Right. I mean, if they don't like it, if they don't like it, they can. But, so I started this podcast and really quickly it caught on. And then what really lit the flame was COVID, because a lot of women suddenly found themselves where they were just managing, right? They had their career and they had the kids and the family and all that. And then COVID just pulled the lid off of it because suddenly you weren't managing everything else. You'd already been kind of struggling to manage, but you also then had to manage your kids' education.
Tracy Otsuka: And everybody was under the same roof. So a lot of people started to talk about ADHD, and I know medical professionals were so upset about it, but I'm sorry, we've been talking to you for a long time, trying to figure out what is this, what's going on? I mean, I literally went to, and this was perimenopause time. So remember estrogen, modulates dopamine. So I'd been doing just fine. I'd always been different, but I'd been just been doing just fine. It was perimenopause that really flipped the switch for me. I ended up going to, obviously my regular doctor. I went to a gynecologist. I went to a hormone specialist. I went to a psychologist who told me, oh, the bloom's just off the rose. Just, this is just how life gets. Don't worry about it. You don't have anxiety, you don't have depression. And then finally I'm trying to remember where the last place was that I, oh, they tested me for Parkinson's because everything seemed to change for me. My confidence levels my handwriting. I was having trouble, like buttoning things. But you know, they're all, they're always gonna tell you, oh, honey, it's just hormones. Right? They pat you on the head. It's just hormones.
Tracy Otsuka: And it's true because we know that in perimenopause, our estrogen levels go down, but, so you've got perimenopause, and then you stack ADHD on top of it, and your dopamine levels are even further down. And you really start thinking, oh my gosh, I have dementia. I literally walk to my car to go get something. And I can't even remember why I'm there. And I know that's a common refrain from women going through perimenopause and menopause, but it was literally everything. And the person that I was, I no longer recognized. Like, I love to entertain. And I always struggled with the time management. Like, when do you put this in and take it off? And, you know, all of that. But I loved it so much that somehow I was able to work around it. I couldn't even have had two people over for dinner because I couldn't follow a cookbook. Everything was all stacked up in these little words. And then when it came to the time I, you know, me who could cook for 75 people, I was burning everything. I just, basic simple things I could no longer do. So hence, I thought, interesting, I had Parkinson's or some form of dementia.
Rita Black: Well let me ask you a question then. So it sounds like you had a really hard time as many women do, going through the medical field, trying to get some answers and trying to get, you know, guidance basically, right? You want some guidance, and all you're getting is negative downer information. So is that like what also made you decide to kind of like, challenge the medical, you know, the shift, that conversation around ADHD? Obviously you wanna, you're bringing it out and your book is bringing it out as a new conversation for people to have.
Tracy Otsuka: So I believe in science, I believe in medicine, I believe in doctors, all these clinicians, right? That's not my message. However, we can get to the point which we've done in a number of areas. I think, where all we do is listen to the medical professionals and the people are actually experiencing the symptoms. They're just ignored, right? I mean, if you go to a doctor and they're telling you, oh, don't worry about it, it's nothing. It's hormones. But they're not willing. I mean, they didn't do any further tests. They didn't do anything. It was just kind of a knee jerk. That's what they say to all women of a certain age, right? So ADHD people tend to like to challenge the status quo. And that's why we are comfortable being outsiders instead of having to fit in. And I started to do this podcast, and before you know it, between the Facebook group and the podcast, I had thousands of ADHD women that I'd met.
Tracy Otsuka: And every single one of them, bar none, and I'm talking about an ADHD woman who somehow ended up living in her car, right? You start talking to that woman and you realize how brilliant she is. And if she only knew where to challenge that brilliance, she would be enormously successful. And so I saw what the medical professionals and the books were saying, Save for Dr. Ned Hollowell, who literally is one of the pioneers of ADHD taught at, you know, schools like Harvard. And he has ADHD. So he understood, you know, what that brain was really about, but he had been fighting the establishment for decades. So nobody was talking about this really. And they certainly weren't talking about it as it relates to women and how the experience can shift. So, you know, what I call this late in life diagnoses is maturity onset ADHD.
Tracy Otsuka: And if you look at the DSM five, you have to have had all the symptoms by the time you're 12. Well, yeah, I had some of the symptoms. I was always super chatty and precocious and a little loud, and I could be, as my dad used to say, melodramatic, right? So I had big emotions, but when it came to actual productivity and getting things done, I would run rings around most people. So there really was not an understanding that you can be and I think, you know, entrepreneurs, most of them, if not all of them, are somewhere on the spectrum of ADHD, because it's a spectrum. You can have only a few symptoms. Like if only symptom is drivenness, that's a pretty good symptom, right? Or you can have a lot of symptoms. And we've got the 43% in excellent mental health.
Tracy Otsuka: So what what's the rest of them? Trauma. So trauma symptoms mirror ADHD symptoms, right? You feel like you're all over the place. You feel like you're impulsive, you're distractible, you can't focus, you're in your head all the time. So if you have big T substantial, especially developmental trauma, childhood trauma, you have those ADHD symptoms. And then again, just like perimenopause and menopause, you throw ADHD on top of that, it can be really, really difficult. And it's those women that struggle the most, and I don't wanna make light of ADHD, like, oh, everybody's doing great with it. So 24% of all women with ADHD have attempted suicide. That's how serious it is.
Rita Black: That is stunning.
Tracy Otsuka: And we haven't studied women, so how would we know this? Because that is eight times the rate of suicide Asian for men. So what is the difference? And I think the big difference is how women, gender roles, social stereotypes, sexism. Because if you are a man and you have ADHD, think about it. Even if you don't have ADHD and you're a man and you're in a powerhouse career, it is expected that you get help versus women are expected to do it all, right? We're expected to do the career and then do all the other stuff related to executive functions, which we don't do well, the planning, the scheduling, the time management, all of those things. That's executive functions. We have to do it not only for ourselves, but often for our family, and sometimes also for our partner. And so I think that's where the shame comes in. So these women compare themselves to other women who can do all these things.
Tracy Otsuka: Now, what I will say is the career part, the part where there's interest, they're never gonna do it as well as we do it. So, yeah. You know, if you're kind of, you know, we hyper focus. And so we go all in. And that means that all the other things around us can kind of get lost because we don't care about them. They're boring. They're like, groundhog day, you finish it one day, and then you gotta get up and you gotta do it all again. So I think it's important that we know that yes, ADHD, you know, my whole goal is to help women fall in love with their brains, but understand that trauma does play a role in this. And it doesn't even have to be big T trauma. It can be all the little traumas. If you think about you are a young girl and you're daydreamy, you're in the back of the classroom, people think you're stupid. Nobody ever thinks you're gonna amount to anything. You can't seem to, you know, do things the way they want you to do them. And you know, it goes from your parents to your, your educators, to your coaches, to your partner, to you know, your boss, right? You just feel like, I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm just a loser, I guess. And so you can imagine how that can affect a woman over the course of her life. And that all those little cuts, that little T trauma can end up being one big T trauma.
Rita Black: So, right. That totally makes sense. This is so fascinating. Now as you know, our thin thinking audience is we work on weight management. So in your mind, you know, 'cause I can see what your power is and what, and superpowers like shifting ADHD into a superpower, right? Or Yeah.
Tracy Otsuka: Well, I don't think ADHD is a superpower because if I could have all my drivenness, right, and all my wonderful qualities and not have, I have horrible working memory, oh my gosh, I would trade it in a second. However, I do think we have qualities we can turn into superpowers. So it's just a little bit shift in the language.
Rita Black: Gotcha. Okay. No, thank you for redefining that. So yeah, let's talk about weight management, how that might, if a woman had ADHD, how would that affect her taking care of herself? Obviously planning ahead, thinking about like a lot of the skills around and the habits around weight management require some sort of thinking ahead. So talk to us about that a little bit.
Tracy Otsuka: Absolutely. So having ADHD means that you're 10 times more likely to have issues with your weight and or have an eating disorder. But again, as girls and women, like, how would we know this? Because all the early studies were on the boys, they didn't even look at eating disorders until recently. And it took a team of, I think it was four women with ADHD, you know, who started to look at that. And when they looked at girls, what the study showed is that if you had combined type ADHD, so you had symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity and inattention, you were much more likely to have an eating disorder. And this is true not just for girls, it's true for women especially binge eating disorder. And the reason again, is because of this lowering of dopamine, right? Our dopamine levels are lower. And so what our brains do naturally is we go and we seek dopamine.
Tracy Otsuka: That's why all this like you hear people say squirrel or looking for the bright, shiny, we're constantly seeking dopamine and sugar and carbohydrates just happens to really fire up our dopamine. And so as humans, we're all not just people with ADHD, we're naturally wired to search for that feeling of satiety, you know? But when there's ADHD, we often don't get it. And the reason we don't get it is because of something called reward deficiency syndrome. RSD. And RSD is basically, it's a disconnect. The brain reward cascade. So we already don't always, you know, 'cause dopamine is the motivation neurotransmitter. So we already don't feel enough motivation to work towards a reward, certainly if it's not corrected to our interest. But then once we do go for the reward, we do the thing, we're waiting for the reward. We don't feel the same amount of satisfaction as someone who doesn't have ADHD once we get the reward. And so what that can look like is, oh, I'm going to, I'm gonna reward myself with that piece of cake. That cake looks so great, and we eat the cake. And we're like, you know, I don't feel the reward that I thought I was gonna get. So how about two pieces of cake. Two didn't work? Three. And you can see that happening with wine and any kind of addiction, frankly.
Rita Black: Absolutely. That's fascinating. So I could see how binge eating and also a lot of the other little creating strategies, planning ahead, those kind of things, following through might be more challenging. Is there anything, 'cause I know you're not a weight expert, but is there anything, if our listeners are saying, oh yes, Tracy, you've got me to the T, what you might suggest for them to help them you know, not with their weight management, but brain management wise, like what, what you would do?
Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. So I mean, impulsive, right? So you just grab whatever, don't even think about, you know, okay, well we have problems seeing into the future. And so that is really important that we can put ourselves into the future. This may feel really good to eat right now, right? But how am I gonna feel when I'm done like a half an hour from now, right? I mean food, it's not like alcohol, right? Where you can just not go near it and you can survive. We need food. We have to eat. And I remember, I don't know, you can tell me if this is true, but I remember hearing a statistic that we make 150 decisions every day on food. Is that true?
Rita Black: Oh, 250, I think.
Tracy Otsuka: Oh My god. So, so I'm low. And guess what? Every single one of those decisions, it's a self-regulation decision. What do we struggle to do with ADHD? We struggle to self-regulate. You know? If we're impulsive, we just grab whatever. If we have, you know, we're in hyperfocus. When I'm in hyperfocus and I'm working on something, number one, I don't wanna stop to go eat. And even if I wanted to stop to go eat, I would probably forget to eat. That is my big problem. Like, I don't eat regularly at all. I've gotten better about it because I do something, which I don't know how you feel about it, but intermittent fasting, that seems to work for my brain. And there have been studies about it and the ADHD brain that it, you know, when I feel full and sluggish, my brain feels full and sluggish. And so if I don't, just don't even have to worry about food until that window, I just find that I eat better, I'm happier. And my working memory is so much better when I'm a little hungry. So I don't know how you feel about that, but -
Rita Black: No, I think that that fasting for a lot of people is really helpful. Not just with weight management, because you can certainly eat a lot of food in your eating window, but and -
Tracy Otsuka: Eat garbage, right?
Rita Black: For brain management. Absolutely. For mental health, for a lot of, you know, health markers, you do so much better when you're doing some, at least fasting, you know, 12 to 14 hours a day. And I think in the weight community, a lot of people are pushing, either pushing back that first meal or stopping eating after dinner because I think a huge thing for yes, weight is snacking at night. And if so, if you're starting to fast after dinner, that removes that whole decision making process.
Tracy Otsuka: Yes, yes. It's a structure, it's a system. And as much as we balk against structures and systems, we need them. We need them more than anyone else. This is the key though. You have to set up the structure and system that works for you. You can't go take someone else's and then beat yourself up because you couldn't follow it. Right? So I know you know Christine Lee Mm-Hmm.
Rita Black: A lot of our audience does too. 'cause I've had her on the podcast and they've -
Tracy Otsuka: She's one of my favorite people. I was lucky enough to spend, oh, I don't know, four days with her last week. She says it differently than I say it. I always, she always says, you have to wait. What is it? You have to feel well to be well, is that what she says? Something like that?
Rita Black: I think so.
Tracy Otsuka: I always talk about positive emotion. So the ADHD brain thrives with positive emotion and it positively withers with negative emotion. So if you are, let's say, signing up for your program because your spouse told you you need to lose weight, there's no intention. And I know you talk about intention too. There's no intention behind that. You don't wanna do that for yourself. You wanna do that sort of because someone else is telling you this would be good for you to do.
Tracy Otsuka: And that's what happens to a lot of people with ADHD, you go through school, you go through you know, life and you develop this learned helplessness. I don't make decisions for myself because it seems like whenever I do it their way, it's the wrong way. So why bother even trying? And you can see how suddenly everybody else is making decisions for you, running your life that are great for them, but they don't take you into account. And so how would you ever stay with the program when that's not your intention? Maybe you like the way you look or maybe the way that they want you to do it isn't your way. So really what I recommend for anything, when you start developing a system, because we need them focus on what generates positive emotion for you. How can you make it interesting? How can you make it novel? How can you make it fun? How can you make it challenging? And that is for any structure that you wanna set up in your life. If you approach it from, oh my gosh, I'm signed up for this program with Rita and I don't wanna do this, well then you're not gonna do it. You know, chances are. Versus if you find Rita on your own, you connect with her, you just like who she is, you trust her. Guess what? Your chances of being successful are going to be so much better. Right?
Rita Black: Absolutely. Well, I think what you're saying, and I'm going to say it a little differently, is there's the psychological term external locus of control versus internal. Right. So like, if you are making the decision for yourself, if you're cultivating something within you, like you said with your writing your book, two o'clock worked for you, right? You weren't looking outside. I think any long-term change and definitely with weight management, nobody's gonna be successful within people. You know, my audience, they're smart. They could write their own weight loss book and people would lose weight. That's not the challenge. The challenge is working with themselves and the inner communication system that is gonna allow them to be successful and it comes from them. So absolutely. I love your process and how you've laid it out for us. 'cause It's very easy to understand the ADHD brain and I think the future is brain management.
Rita Black: I mean, I think, you know, when I work with very high level clients here in Hollywood who are like directors and producers and people who are, you know, thought influencers and they, they are managing their brains and they've, they've come to have a understanding of who they are. And then there's that confidence that comes with that. And what I'm hearing you are saying is that your understanding your ADHD, having a more powerful relationship with it and ultimately shifting your inner communication system is the bridge to confidence focus and your own mastery of your brain management.
Tracy Otsuka: Absolutely. And you know, I've had women that are 70 years old who come to my program and they are like, my life's over. You would be shocked at how quickly at 70 your entire life turns around. Your relationships turn around. Because once you educate yourself on ADHD, then you're in a position to educate your partner and they suddenly look at you in a completely new light. It's like, oh my gosh, you weren't doing that on purpose. You weren't doing that to be a jerk. This is just a different brain that works using a different operating manual. And it, it changes everything. And then six months later after that, you'll see that, oh, they've started a new business. You know, and they're just so much happier because they understand who they are. The shame is gone. And they realize that again, it is not, there's nothing wrong with them, it's just a different brain.
Rita Black: Yeah. I love it. So tell us a little bit about, 'cause I'm gonna send everybody to the show notes, to the link to find a, you know, find out more about your book and hopefully purchase it or get it for their best friend or someone they know that might be struggling with ADHD so that they can be a badass ADHD woman. So tell us a little bit about your book.
Tracy Otsuka: Just so happens I'm like Vanna White, I have my book here.
Rita Black: This is gonna be audio. But what I'm gonna describe, because we might use this visually at one point, is a beautiful hot pink book.
Tracy Otsuka: Yeah. I wanted to make sure that this book did not look like all the other medical books about ADHD that are on the shelves. Right. Well, and this is the thing, like my whole branding, I didn't do total outsider. I didn't do anything that anybody else does. And the reason I didn't do that is because I just felt like my message was so different and what's going to attract an ADHD woman, a hot pink book or a blue and gray book. Right? I wanted them to be able to see it across the bookstore. So really the goal is to show you how to fall in love with your ADHD brain. And I am telling you that this is possible for anyone. Again, you know, I ran a program, I haven't done it this year 'cause it's been so busy, but it's called Five Days to Fall in Love with your ADHD Brain.
Tracy Otsuka: And when I gave it the name, I thought, can I do this in five days? I think I can, but can I really? I could do it in five days. It was amazing how once we understand how our brains work, and we just do that 180 in terms of the self-concept, everything else falls into place. So yes, if I could give you the link, ADHDforsmartwomen.com forward wait, ADHDforsmartwomen.com/book. And if they go there, they will also get all kinds of bonuses that start with what does ADHD look like in women? It's a training with me.
Rita Black: Fun. That's great. Oh, doesn't it feel awesome to be changing so many people's lives and how they see themselves?
Tracy Otsuka: It it does, you know, I got a message, so my book isn't supposed to be available until December 26th, right.
Rita Black: We are airing this in January, so just yeah, it'll be perfect. Yeah.
Tracy Otsuka: It'll be perfect. So I got a message, I got two messages actually. One from a woman who said my, my kids bought me the book and she had a picture of it. I'm like, where did you find it? Well, apparently you can now get it in Barnes and Noble there early. But it was the second message from an ER nurse that I got last night and she was like, Tracy, I was in the aisles crying because now I finally understand. And she's an ER nurse, right? They're all ADHD. Like, think about what an ER nurse has to do, right? They need to be able to think off the fly and just, all the ideas. So it does, it feels really good, especially now that the book's written.
Rita Black: Yay. I know. Amazing. How fantastic. If you have one last word of advice or advice or idea thought you wanna leave our audience with here today.
Tracy Otsuka: This is about so much more than turning the pages of a book. It's about changing chapters in women's lives. And I don't wanna just flip the script, I wanna literally rewrite the whole ending because when we rewrite the whole ending and women with ADHD actually fall in love with their ADHD brains and women who don't even know they have ADHD suddenly fall in love with what they now know is their ADHD brain, we change lives. And it's a ripple effect because those women get their daughters right when they're younger and their sons when they're younger. And so they don't have to go through decades of shame like they did. And so that ultimately is my goal. It's a mission. So thank you so much for allowing me to express it here.
Rita Black: Well, it's been such a joy to meet you and to have you on this has been really enlightening and we'll look forward to having you on again. Good luck with your book tour. I know you're doing a lot of touring around, so that will be lots of fun for your ADHD brain, right?
Tracy Otsuka: I think so. I think so. I'm starting to have some fun, so, hey.
Rita Black: Yes. Okay. Well thank you so much Tracy, and good luck with everything and thank you. We will look forward to having you back again sometime soon. Thank you.
Tracy Otsuka: Thank you so much.
Rita Black: Thank you so much, Tracy. I so enjoyed that interview today, and I hope you lovely listeners did too. And please grab her book for yourself or any neurodivergent friends that you might have. Check out the link. It's in the show notes, and that's where you're also gonna get those cool additional bonuses that she's offering right now for a limited time. So have an amazing week and remember that the key and probably the only key to unlocking the door of the weight struggle is inside you. So keep listening and find it. I'll see you next week.
Rita Black: You wanna dive deeper into the mindset of long-term weight release, head on over to www.shiftweightmastery.com. That's www.shiftweightmastery.com, where you'll find numerous tools and resources to help you unlock your mind for permanent weight release tips, strategies, and more. And be sure to check the show notes to learn more about my book From Fat to Thin Thinking. Unlock Your Mind for Permanent Weight Loss.
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