Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 151: Follow-Up: A Surprising Factor in Weight Gain

Lee has been struggling to lose weight for over 30 years. He feels uncomfortable in his body and would like to lose 150 pounds to relieve the stress on his knees and ankles. Each time Lee has tried to follow a diet, it ended in a backlash of compulsive eating. He knew that he was approaching dieting from a place of hostility toward his body, but he couldn’t seem to find a different way to create the change he longed for, until Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helped him to see that he still has some inner work to do around his feelings about being adopted. In this surprising session, Marc shows Lee how finally dealing with his past will allow him to truly step into his mature masculinity.

Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

To see Lee’s first session with Marc, click here!

Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we are back in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m here today with Lee. Welcome, Lee.

Lee: Hi, Marc. Good to be back.

Marc: I’m glad you’re back. And for those of you new to the podcast, here’s how it works. So Lee and I had a session, probably about six months ago now. And that was our first session, our only session. And this is just a follow-up to kind of check in and see, okay, anything useful, anything interesting to report.

So why don’t you just fill in listeners and viewers on just kind of the key things that you wanted to work on and fill us in what’s been happening, give us a weather report.

Lee: Okay. Well, it’s been an interesting six months. I’ll say I think probably the main thing that we talked about working on then was a sort of taking control and responsibility for myself, being in charge of what’s going on. And that’s been a mixed success with that. I’ve learned a lot of things in the process of trying to pay attention to that.

And honestly the first thing when I got the email to do the follow-up, I was like, “Oh, my God, I’ve not made nearly enough progress. I needed to do a whole lot more than six months.”  So that’s one of the things like but – then I’m like, “Well, you know, I have done stuff. And then what would have been enough or good enough?” I think back I wouldn’t even actually know how to say, “Oh, if I’d done these many things, you know, I would’ve been ready for this,” to have the follow-up.

So I am where I am. And so one of the things, I guess, in that sort of becoming more comfortable with myself is that I found that I have slowed a lot in a lot of different ways. Not just eating, but even just walking around. I’m kind of much more aware of how it feels to be walking around, what’s going on. How quickly I respond to people when things are going on, I don’t have to jump in real quick and do stuff.

I can kind of take my time thinking about what I’m going to say, what I’m feeling, and why I’m feeling it and then answer. That’s a lot I guess. So sticking with my own integrity and really saying what is right and true and honest for me. And other people don’t necessarily have to agree with it or like it. But I’ll say it and they can have their own reactions to it

And so that’s been interesting. It’s been empowering. And it’s been interesting in ways that places where I found that I’ve like held back and not done things, sort of either to protect myself or feeling like, “Oh, I’m going to protect somebody else from how I feel about this.” And it turns out that, that’s not really that helpful. People actually need to hear my honest opinion about things, which is kind of, I don’t know why that’s a surprise, but it was. So that was kind of a big thing.

I think one of the bigger surprises in sort of continuing to listen to these stories has been sort of how mistrustful some parts of me are about the process of or the idea of, again, changing the way I eat and changing my body. In fact, I talked before about a time when I had become suicidal. And I know some of the fears from that, but there’s something else there that I haven’t been able to pick apart yet. There’s a real fear inside me somewhere that says, “It’s not safe to be small.” And I don’t quite understand that part yet.

So I’m continuing to listen to the stories and learn from them and going along. Making some changes here and there, changed schools and majors. That was kind of a big step, so I’ll be starting with a new school and a whole new line of education, I guess, in the fall, which feels really good. It’s been an interest for a long time and I didn’t really appreciate it to give myself space to express that.

Marc: Yeah. Isn’t it interesting how the topic in the activity called weight loss and kind of learning to be with my body and love my body in a whole new way, isn’t it interesting how it, invariably, if we’re staying awake at the wheel, leads us to all these other places. Leads us to, “Oh, people need to hear my opinion. Oh, I need to show up and be the real me.” We don’t always think of that as part of the weight loss equation or finding the right body, like where is this body supposed to be at.

I really feel that the more we become who we’re supposed to be, the more the body can become what it’s supposed to be. It’s like we come first. Like what’s inside my soul and my heart, my being, that’s first and foremost. The body’s going to change. It always changes. It’s born. It’s tiny. It gets older. It morphs. It does this. It does that. It gets old and it dies. And all the whole time, we’re inside somehow witnessing this whole experience. And how can we have a good experience of it?

So I’m super pleased for you that you’re doing the work on self. Because, as you were talking, I was thinking, “I haven’t met so, so, so, so, so many people that when they step into the process called ‘weight loss’ everything gets focused on, weight, weight, weight, weight, weight. Attack the fat. Attack the weight. And weight loss can almost become a substitute for personal development. Meaning, we end up focusing on the pounds and not focusing on, “Okay, what am I supposed to be doing? How do I get more of the real me?”

So it feels like you’re kind of squarely on the road, in terms of – it feels like you’ve been on the road a while. It’s just the question of making the adjustments and really focusing on like some of the key places in life where you need to work. I mean, how does that all resonate for you?

Lee: Yeah. I think that’s very true. And one of the things I have kind of come to realize is that it’s very difficult for me to prioritize myself. It’s kind of like everything else has to be perfect. And you have to take care of everybody else. And get everything else done. And then if there’s any little bit of stuff left over, maybe I can pay attention to myself or make time to do stuff that’s helpful for me.

Marc: Yes.

Lee: So I’m still struggling with the grabbing meals quickly and things like that. And it’s just, a lot of that is – I know is prioritizing time and things like that, but it’s a real struggle, I guess, or a challenge for me to, I guess, part somewhere or don’t feel like they’re important enough or they’re not as important as everything else.

Marc: I think in your heart of hearts you know that, that’s not true. I want to say something about that. I’ve noticed with a lot of people who have had a life-long or a long-term kind of dance with trying to lose weight, that it’s easy for people oftentimes to – as an apology for being fat, we become people-pleasers. So we’re basically saying to the world. “I’m sorry. How can I put you first? Because, clearly, I don’t deserve anything because I’m fat. So let me put you first, and you first, and you first. And let me apologize and let me be really nice. And let me be the good little fat kid or fat person, so then you like me and you’re going to judge me for being fat.”

So I don’t know if that applies to you, but I’m just raising my hand and saying that we all need to check ourselves and see if there’s a place where were operating as if we need to apologize for who we are. Because if for any reason – because, clearly, if we’re attacking our body fat and attacking our weight and hating what we are and who we look at, then we’re going to assume other people are looking at us in the same way we are.

We will tend to treat other people the way we treat ourselves. We will tend to think other people see us the way we see us.

So if other people are judging you the same way you judge you, then, whoa, you better be super nice to them. There’s the coping strategy. Which my guess is, if you do that, you learned that puppy at a young age. That’s a survival piece. Which, if I may say, you said before, “You know, I had to have thought that, you know, wow, it’s not safe to be small when it comes to weight loss.” And you said, “I don’t know where that comes from or I haven’t figured that out yet.” Let’s figure that out really easy. I’ll tell you where it comes from.

It comes from the truth. It is not safe to be small and tiny. You look at a little infant, they ain’t safe. You leave them out on the street, some wild animal is going to come and find them or they’re going to die of exposure to the elements. Little things aren’t safe until they learn how to be safe. Little things are easily eaten by bigger things. So in nature, the little creatures are always getting protected by their mamas and their papas until we are safer.

Every small human knows – every kid knows that they are dependent on an adult to feel safe. You are dependent on the bigger people. So it makes sense that you come to the conclusion, “I ain’t going to be safe being small,” because on a certain level, it has an evolutionary truth to it. At this stage of the game though, it’s a falsehood. Because you are adult enough and smart enough and you know the ways of the world, where if you weigh 20 pounds less or 79 pounds less or whatever the heck it is, technically you’re still safe. You know how to drive a car. You know how to use your cell phone. You know how to get help. Part of that is catching up to adult time.

Lee: Right.

Marc: I’m going to guess that…

Lee: Now, one of the things I’ve been asking as these little stories come up and thing is, “Okay, was that really true then?” Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t. And then the next thing I try to ask is “Is it still true now?”

And very often it’s, “Well, no.” It may have been very, very true 50 years ago or whatever, but when I stopped, I said, “Well, what about right now?” And then just like, “Well no, it’s not true now.” And it starts to kind of reframe that and help me realize, “Okay, that isn’t something that I have to keep doing,” you know?

Marc: Lee, here’s what I think for you and I really mean this. I think that you’re so, so, so, so, so, so, so close to having what you want, like so close. And what I mean is there’s a part of you that just has to get that you don’t have to apologize for anything. You don’t have to be anybody different to deserve whatever it is.

You don’t have to be anybody different. You don’t even have to figure anything out. All you have to do is proceed as if, “You know something, I ain’t perfect. I’m a human being. I got my challenges that I deal with like other people have their challenges that I’m dealing with. And I can feel good about myself to a great degree while I’m working on myself.”

I think there’s a place in you where you might feel like you need to figure something out to really start to relax into yourself and take care of yourself better. And there’s really nothing to figure out in everything. So yeah, there’s always little bits and pieces that are going to enlighten us and enliven us. There’s no doubt about that.

But it feels like, at this stage of the game, it’s about you simply putting into practice self-love, self-care, self-nourishment.

And showing up as you. And learning at the ripe old age of whatever you are or the ripe young age of whatever you are, is just learning, you know something, if you be the real you and people don’t like you, who cares? Cross them off your list. And the ones that want to hear your opinion, the ones that are still going to like you, they stay on your list. Those are the people you want in your world.

I really think it’s as much as that. And as you begin to see that, “I’m safe. Even if people don’t like me, I’m safe.” There would be people who hate you and you’re still safe. And size then becomes less important in terms of needing it for safety. Those are just some thoughts.

Lee: Right.

Marc: How does that land for you?

Lee: Yeah, that sounds…Some of that was actually the start of internal talk I was having, kind of leading into this interview. I said, “Well, you know, I was–” Because I only say, I’m like, “Woah, what’s Marc going to think without, you know?” And I’m like, “Honestly, why do I care what Marc thinks?” I mean, I like all your stuff and stuff like that. But if you just are like “I don’t like what Lee’s doing and whatever,” I was like, “You know, the sun still rises tomorrow. I go to work.” It doesn’t really throw my world and stuff. So I was like –

And then the thing about kind of letting other people actually see me and finding out that their reactions are different than what I expected, it’s kind of like you were saying about if other people judge me the way I do and then finding out that, “Hey, they don’t.” And so – I kind of forgot where I was going with that. But it’s I guess as I let people actually see me, I’d see how they actually see me. I get that feedback from them and realize that it’s not the way I imagined that they would see me.

Kind of like my internal perception of myself is different than other people’s when they actually do see me.

Marc: Yeah. And I think the gold here is that when you say, “When I let other people see me,” which is another way of saying intimacy. Like letting people a little bit closer in, like being the real you. Like when we’re intimate with somebody, there’s a closeness. There’s a discovery. There’s a revealing. “Okay, there’s my normal mask that I wear for the world. And then when I get more intimate, here’s me being real. Here’s me being honest. Here’s me sharing with you like kind of what I’m really thinking and feeling right now.”

So that’s intimate and that’s a risk. Intimacy is a big risk, because people might not like us when we kind of reveal ourselves.

And I think weight loss and dieting and food often becomes a distraction from intimacy. Meaning, intimacy is the real healer here.

Like intimacy is what’s connecting you and helping you have revelations. And usually, that’s what people want. Usually when people are trying to lose weight and feel better or change their eating habits and feel better about themselves or gain weight and feel better or gain muscle and feel better, really, what they want is, we want to be able to have a better experience of ourselves and a better experience with other people, which generally means a kind of intimacy.

So what I’m saying is, I think you’re on the right track. And I think if you highlight the word intimacy and notice when you kind of give it permission more, good things are going to happen. Information – like just good things are going to happen. You’re going to learn about yourself. You’re going to learn about the people in your environment. And you’re going to embody more. Because the more we’re intimate, the more we’re in the body, I think by definition.

Lee: Right.

Marc: So, where would you like to be a year from now?

Lee: Oh, a year from now, I think I would just like to be – I guess where I started at the beginning of just being more comfortable in my own skin and that’s sort of all the layers of me, the physical part, the bulkiness that gets in the way. But then also just not feeling like I got to be something different for other people.

I don’t have to – actually one of the things that came up was sort of a feeling like Pinocchio, trying to figure out how to be a real boy. And it’s like, “Well, what do you have to do to be real? How much do you have to do to earn the right to be real?” And so learning that I’m already real, but still part of me gets that, some parts are still skeptical.

Marc: Sure.

Lee: I’m catching on.

Marc: That’s real honest. And if you can hold those two, meaning, “Yeah, there’s a part of me that totally gets it and I don’t have to wait for anything to be more real. And there’s another part of me that’s a little skeptical about it and thinks I have to be somebody else or do something.” So if you can understand, sure, those two parts of me are there and they’re present and they’re active. The part of you that’s skeptical and doesn’t believe, it doesn’t need to be eradicated.

Lee: Right.

Marc: That’s super important. It doesn’t need to be eradicated for you to move forward. That other part simply needs a little bit of airtime. It needs you to listen to it. And it needs you to go, “Okay, I hear you and I get it and I could see why you’d be skeptical and I could see why you have your foot on the brakes and that’s not how we’re going to do business today. Because you know something, it’s a different world now. I’m an adult. I’m making changes,” and that’s really kind of like the little kid in you that you have to take by the hand and bring him along.

So in a lot of ways, it’s you just learning how to be an adult for yourself. It’s you learning how to be a good parent to yourself.

Lee: Yeah, I like that kind of taking my own hand and then say, “Okay, I understand that. Maybe come along with me let me show you this. I’ll show you how this is really.” Like you said, you don’t have to get rid of it, but you can bring it along.

Marc: Yeah. We’re always looking for perfection, I think. We always just want to stamp out all the negativity or stamp out all the imperfections. And no, you just bring them along for the ride, because they’re going to come along anyways. And I think this is just about us being human and being real. And giving our imperfections, our beautiful imperfections, giving them a place to live and giving them a voice and not letting them run the show.

Lee: Right. Yeah, there’ll never be a perfect time. So we may as well just start doing something now, even if you can’t do everything.

Marc: Amen to that.

Lee: Even if you can’t do everything, do something, a little bit, a step.

Marc: I think you’re in a good place, my friend.

Lee: Yeah. It feels really good. And it’s going a little differently than I might have imagined back in January when we talked. But it’s moving. There are things happening. And that’s good.

Marc: Good for you. I really appreciate your efforts. I appreciate you getting on this call and being real and being honest. And I think it’s all about just keep standing by yourself. Keep standing by yourself. Stand by yourself. You don’t want to abandon yourself. You don’t self-attack. When we can be your best friend and stand by ourselves, especially when it comes to all the food and body kind of craziness and nonsense that we can go through, when we learn to be a good friend to self, nice things happen. And I see you doing that. And I see good things happening for you.

Lee: Yeah. Thank you.

Marc: Yeah. So you feel like we can put a nice bow on this conversation right now?

Lee: Yeah. I think we can wrap it up for this. And I’m just going to keep taking those steps and doing something. And we’ll see where it lands me in the future.

Marc: Good for you, Lee. Congratulations on a job well done.

Lee: Thank you.

Marc: Yeah. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast, I’ve been speaking with Lee. Lots more to come, my friends. You take care.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks for listening to the Psychology of Eating podcast. To learn more about the breakthrough body of work we teach here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, please sign up for our free video series at You’ll learn about the cutting-edge principles of dynamic eating psychology and mind-body nutrition that have helped millions of people forever transform their relationship with food, body, and health.

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About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.