On today’s episode, we’re talking with Margy and Hoang Lam. The Oklahoma City couple produce the Defining Moments podcast. Hoang hosts and Margy works behind the scenes.
Together, they have built a great following because they believe in the power of positive people with unique stories, including our very own CEO, Mike Brose, who appears on Episode 21. By sharing stories like Mike’s, they hope to inspire a more positive world.
It’s an honor they’re both here because we love their mission. And, full disclosure, the Mental Health Download simply would not exist without Margy and Hoang being our podcasting yodas and friends. They are always there to take crisis calls, give us pointers and to cheer us on.
So let’s get to the highlights of the interview.
I want to talk about your defining moments related to mental health, especially Margy. I believe that you've been on a journey and so can you walk us through how that experience has been for you?
Yeah. I guess I'll start with the Defining Moments Podcast. We interview people about their defining moments in life, from all walks of life. And so that's been a real journey. Another defining moment of mine is getting to meet all of these people and do and participate in these interviews. My husband does the interviews, but I was on actually episode two of Defining Moments Podcast, just talking about my own experience with my defining moment.
My defining moment was when I was younger, I actually battled anorexia. That disorder led to a lot of health complications for me. I started probably in my teen years when I was in middle school. And it's harder with just, you know, limiting food intake and this desire to look a certain way. Um, and that led to progressively worse health issues and to the intervention of my parents. And then, finally, the intervention of my doctor. She told me what all could end up happening to me if I continued down that path. It scared me enough to knock me out of it, not without some challenges and stumbles along the way, but I was fortunately able to work my way out of it relatively quickly and get right back onto the healthy eating path. But because of the period of time that I was under the influence of anorexia nervosa, I did end up with some health complications later in life. So that kind of spurred my own health journey, to kind of self-discovery of what was going on with my body and how could I help heal it a little more naturally. That led me to actually getting a certification in health coaching and becoming a certified health coach.
Now I help people develop a healthy lifestyle habit through a company that I own, Healthy and Hustlin'. I do personal coaching and I help kind of help people navigate that kind of crazy health world where there's a ton of misinformation. There's a ton of people that have ideas on and opinions about what you need to do, what you can eat, what you cannot eat. And I try to help people navigate that world and really just simplify it. It's a lot more simple than people make it because I think you can develop eating disorders off of just trying to be healthy, too. And so I really try to work people into habits that are truly healthy but sustainable for them.
So a lot of people don't think that anorexia is a mental illness, but it most definitely is. Some people see it as a moral failing. They see it as vanity. There's horrible judgment on people experiencing anorexia. There's no understanding. There's no compassion. Hopefully that's changed over the years. I would hope so. Did you feel that you couldn't talk to people because you were worried that they would judge you or you would get in trouble?
One of the statistics on anorexia, and I'm by no means an expert on it, but a good predictor for anorexia is social anxiety. And so they say about 50% to 80% of the people that develop anorexia have some sort of social anxiety attached to that, too. So I think that, really, is it the chicken or is it the egg? You do not want to talk to people because there's, there's also perfection tendencies in people that develop anorexia. And I'm certainly one of those people. I have perfection tendencies and I really do try to strive for perfection and that can be a downfall. And that is one area that it can be a downfall. I think that specifically led me to not want to reach out for help. Um, it's that idea of, well, I'm trying to be perfect in all these different aspects, which then leads to some of the social anxiety, which then leads to me not wanting to reach out for help from doctors or from my parents.
So what was that moment? What was that defining moment where you changed your life and saved your life?
It truly was my mom taking me to the doctor finally and saying, "OK, I want her to tell you that if you continue down this path, this is what it's going to look like for you. This is going to happen and these organs are going to start failing and this is what the end of your life looks like." People don't realize it, but anorexia has one of the highest death rates among all mental illnesses. I think it has the No. 1 death rate among all mental illnesses. And only 1 of 5 of those is actually by suicide. So you think about that, it is a life-ending illness. So after hearing that from the doctor, that just terrified me. That was enough. It could have hit the perfectionists tendencies, or just the social anxiety of being in the doctor's office. It was just enough to scare me out of it. Like I said, it wasn't without its struggle to work my way out, but that really was a defining moment of "OK, yes, this is a problem and I do have to change it.".
So what was the treatment like?
I didn't actually go through any therapy after that initial visit. It was a lot of just working with my parents and just my own determination to just turn it around ended up really working for me. Yeah, it's not recommended for everybody and it's not truly a treatment path. It depends on how far advanced you are in the illness. I think my parents were involved enough in my life that they were on top of what was going on and trends that they were seeing. And so, fortunately, it wasn't too advanced for me to just kind of be able to pull myself out of it with the support of my family.
Hoang, what was it like interviewing your wife and hearing her maybe open up about these things in details that maybe you hadn't heard before? I mean, what, what was that like interviewing her about that?
Yeah, that's a great question. So when I interviewed her and just actively listened to the story, you could tell that the struggle at that time was real and the passion she developed to say, "Hey, what can I do now to help myself?" And she basically surrounded herself with great parents. They're amazing people, strong people, mentally-strong people. And it takes really strong people that you surround yourself with to get out of that. So when I was listening to her story, I got chills because like, man, that's my wife or soon-to-be wife at the time. And then also it gave me strength to be more open with actively listening …