Psychology of Eating Podcast: Episode #209 – Dieting for Over 60 Years
Susan is 69 and knows she still has a lot of work to do when it comes to loving her body. She has been focused on her weight, her body image, and dieting since she was a small child. Growing up in the world of television and eventually building her own successful career as a writer and producer for a popular soap opera, she has inhabited a world obsessed with body image. Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, challenges Susan to rethink her thinking when it comes to weight. Feeling adored and supported by her father, Susan never felt the same acceptance from her mother. She felt her mother was in competition with her to have the best figure. With the best of intentions, her father also encouraged her to diet early in order to have a successful acting career. Both of her major relationships have also felt this sting of rejection or not being enough with the best body or perfect diet. Susan wants peace with food and her body. She and Marc explore where she is now, how she can step up into her Queenhood, and really own her worth.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Once again, we are back in the Psychology of Eating Podcast. I’m with Susie today. Welcome, Susie.
Susie: Hi, thank you. Good to be here.
Marc: I’m glad we’re here. And let me just let viewers and listeners know, for those of you that follow this podcast, thanks for coming back. I’m glad you’re here. For those that are new, here’s what we do, Susie and I are just meeting officially for the first time. A couple of minutes ago, we’ve been schmoozing online before we jump on board here and we’re going to spend about an hour together. Maybe a little less, maybe a few minutes more and see if we can move you forward or what’s going to help.
But in order for me to know what’s going to help, I would love to know if you could wave your magic wand and if you can get anything you wanted from this session, your big wish or wishes. What would that be for you?
Susie: It would be to be free of the obsession about food, about my body image, how I feel in my body. And free from the emotional attachments of food. I know I eat well and I know I eat the right things. I’m 20 pounds more than I think I would like to be. I can’t say it for sure if that’s the case. I’ve been a yo yo dieter my whole life. And every time I lose those 20 pounds, they come back on. I am done with diets and I’ve been on the no-diet diet for months now and I don’t weigh myself. But I still think too much about food, worry too much about food. I have guilt around eating, even though I’ve tried for such a long time to forgive myself or not feel guilty about it. I know the psychological terrain of my childhood and food was the basis of my relationship with my mother. And I understand all of that and yet still the emotional connection remains. So if I had a magic wand it, would be to be free of the obsession with food and my body and that I’m not good enough. I’m not thin enough.
Marc: Got it, got it, got it. Okay, that makes perfect sense to me. That’s loud and clear. Thank you for a very direct answer. So you mentioned certain thoughts about food that come up that kind of get you trapped or thoughts about food. Can you say a little bit more, like do you worry about it? Do you worry about what you should eat, what you already ate? Like what are some of the main kind of thoughts or some of the main highlights of the conversation that goes on in your head, just so I can understand better.
Susie: Always beating myself up for whether or not I’ve overeaten. I am in judgment of and afraid of my hunger. I don’t know—I don’t seem to have any capacity to understand fullness so I’m always assuming that I’m overeating. And there is a lot of, “Oh, what should I have for lunch? Okay, so I should have this or I should have that or I’m going out to dinner now. But what if I feel like a hamburger? Okay, well…” and going back over the day what I had. And this of course is, from years of being on Weight Watchers, which was my drug of choice, always counting points. And I would give anything to be free of that. I would give anything, Marc, to trust myself.
And I know that you talk a lot about this, which is why I’m so excited of this opportunity because I don’t trust myself. And I’m always in this push-pull where I’m always assuming of course I’m wrong. I’m wrong and I cannot enjoy food. I am not allowed to enjoy food. I’m not allowed to be relaxed on this subject in this area. Because if I am, I’ll be 300 pounds.
Marc: That’s a tough way to live, huh?
Susie: Oh, please. And you know how many years, because I just told you.
Marc: Yes, yes, yes, yes. So are you married? Do you have kids?
Susie: Yes, I am married for 35 years. I have one son who’s 26. And I guess that’s it.
Marc: How did your husband feel about your body?
Susie: Well, my husband is 20 years older. And he always preferred me thin. And he’s met me when I was very thin. And then he’s been with me on the yo yo aspects. He does not like the heavier weight, at all. But he is 20 years older and, frankly, our marriage has not been a really viable marriage for almost 30 years. So at this point, I’m kind of a caretaker and we’re companions. And frankly, I don’t think he cares anymore.
Marc: So how old are you again, sixty…?
Marc: You don’t look a day over 49, not so bad.
Susie: Thank you very much. And can I also say, I don’t color my hair. I don’t know why I haven’t got gray hair but it helps to look younger.
Marc: I get it. I understand. I do understand. So being that you’re 69, do you ever think about what you want this last kind of 30 years of your life to be like?
Susie: I love 30. Yes. Oh yes.
Marc: Tell me.
Susie: I certainly want to continue to work. I’m also a writer. I’m working on a memoir at the moment. And I’m a coach. So I want to continue working. I’d love to know what life is like without thinking about food. And I want to enjoy food. I love to cook. And I love to eat. I love the way it tastes and I have a very broad palate. I eat most anything. And I like to be adventurous. But what I don’t want is what I still do, which is eat at times not for hunger and not for pleasure or satisfaction but for something else. That anxiety level that using the food to calm something that I can’t handle. So when you ask me what I would like, I’d like to be able to handle whatever it is I still think I can’t handle. And I will tell you what, I’ve had a formal psychoanalysis so I’m no stranger to therapy and to this topic.
Marc: Sure. So let’s say the whole food piece was handled. Let’s say we took a magic pill. Tomorrow, you woke up. You don’t emotionally eat. You eat when you want. You love food. You enjoy it. You eat. You don’t gain weight. Maybe even lose 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 pounds. So that’s the case, so let’s say that’s handled. The who you want to be for this next 30 years of your life, it sounds like I heard creativity around writing, around coaching. Anything else that this kind of last third of your life wants to look like?
Susie: Oh, I definitely want to be in love again and have another love relationship, which I expect to have. I’d like to have a nice close friendship with my son. He’s 26 and he’s sort of separating right now. He lives in Atlanta. And so our contact is a little strained. But I hope that we’ll move into an easy friendship in that 30 years. And I want to stay healthy. And I want to move, I’ve always exercised and moved my body and I want to continue to do that. I want to be vibrant and I’ve always had a lot of energy and I’d like to continue to have energy and feel alive.
Marc: Good for you. What’s your biggest regret in life?
Susie: Oh, wow, that’s a really hard one. That’s a hard one to answer. I’ve made a number of decisions and one of them was to marry. Out of my desire to please others and because I believe that I wasn’t desirable or worthy of being loved and I made decisions to shore myself up in areas where I was insecure that now I am less insecure and have more of a sense of myself. And frankly, this marriage that I am in now probably would not have lasted had our son not been born. That changed everything. And it’s fine but I wanted to get married more than I wanted to marry him. And it’s not that I regret that decision so much as I regret the need to get married. Because I couldn’t be with myself or that something was lacking, that I’m somehow not whole and I needed somebody to do something. I’m not even sure what.
Marc: Sure. That makes perfect sense by the way. And you’re probably not the only person that’s ever done that. But I hear it loud and clear. And it truly makes sense. So when you think about that today, how do you digest that? Like where do you put that in your mind so you can kind of go about your day?
Susie: Well, a lot of the times I don’t deal with it and don’t think about it. It isn’t often that people ask this question and it took me awhile to answer actually. I’m not happy in my current living situation and it is stressful, it is difficult. And I have fought a lot and coached a lot on whether or not I should change it. I do not want to change it. And what I want is to find peace in my choice. So that’s, I guess, where I focus more than thinking about how I got here or why I’m here. Does that make sense?
Marc: Yes, it does. It absolutely makes sense. How many years ago did your dad pass?
Susie: In 1994. And it was a very significant year and at a very significant moment.
Marc: How so?
Susie: I was a television writer and producer in soap operas for 20 years and I was executive producer of One Life to Live at this time. And he had a stroke. And my father was in show business and so I grew up in this world. He was extremely proud of me and he had a stroke shortly after I took over the show and died. And months later, we were nominated for an Emmy. I had been on the writing team before I took over the show as producer. And we were nominated for an Emmy and we won. And the flipside of the story is that my mother was babysitting my son up in the country and I called her the next day and I said, “Did you watch?” This is in the days when they broadcast these shows on television. And I said, “Did you watch?” And she said, “Hmm?” And I said, “Oh.” And I wanted to say how did I look, of course. And I was in a size 10 pantsuit and the button couldn’t button in the back because I was already beginning to put on a little weight and that’s all I was thinking about, by the way, on the stage. And she never said anything about the Emmy. He, of course, would have been so proud. And I don’t know why I went into that story because you asked about my father.
Marc: It’s okay. Yeah. So your mom couldn’t really celebrate with you. There was nobody there to really get how huge this was and reflect that back to you. Your father would’ve done that.
Susie: Yes. And also my husband while he was supportive, he was an actor, and he was jealous. And my son was too little to understand what was going on. So yeah, in my little family—and he would’ve just been over the moon. And I remember being at the after-party, you’re holding the statuette and everybody’s crazy and thinking—and crying because thinking he would’ve been the one.
Susie: You know.
Marc: Yeah, yeah.
Susie: So being successful and also being thin is something that I—it was very threatening to my mother. So it was something that I really wasn’t supposed to do.
Marc: Yeah, yeah.
Susie: At the same time, because he was in show business—and I was an actress before this, by the way, in theater—he always wanted me to be on diets because he was in the business. And he knows that if you wanted to be an actress you have to be thin. So the diet started at six. So it was a confusing message. And my mother had a gorgeous figure, beautiful figure. And that was her only source of real security. She was insecure about her talent. She didn’t do anything with it. She was insecure about her intellect and it was just me, I was an only child. So it was complicated.
Marc: Got it. So in a lot of ways, succeeding in the ways that you would succeed in would make your father happy. But at the same time, it would threaten your mother. Whoa, that’s a conundrum.
Susie: I know, I know. And so I think that’s one of the reasons why my weight problem has always been like 20 pounds as opposed to more or as opposed to undereating. I was trying to assuage both of them. So it was sort of acceptable to be 20 pounds. But not too thin to threaten her.
Marc: Yeah. You found the right balance.
Susie: Yeah. And by the way, they’re both gone now. It’s like one of the magic wand wishes is can I just accept myself the way I am?
Marc: What do you say to yourself when you ask that question?
Susie: Oh, well, the problem is the image that I have of what I should look like and what I see in the mirror is so onerous. I mean the judgment that I have about the way I look. I mean the large part of which is interjected from her, there’s no question, because she always used to size me up to see where I was. And she never had a weight problem, ever.
Marc: When you were young, did you want to look like your mom? Like when I grow up, I want to be like her.
Susie: Yeah, she was beautiful and had a gorgeous figure. And they met because my father—she was in acting class and her legs were in the air. They were doing some sort of exercise and all the legs were in the air and he spied her legs. It was just the story. Her legs, which were so gorgeous, and that’s how they… So, yeah, I wanted to be like her.
Marc: So another question for you, I’m just kind of gathering information here. And we’re kind of playing here. There’s no right or wrong answer. I asked you before biggest regret. What would you say is one of the places where you feel a lot of guilt, maybe some of the most guilt around? I feel guilty because…
Susie: I am sometimes very judgmental of other people. Impatient. I feel guilty feeling and expressing anger, which I do. I have humiliating thoughts—thoughts of humiliation towards others, judgment towards others that I feel not just guilt, shamed, ashamed of. And I feel like my appetite, not just food, but my appetite for life is too big, too much, and I feel guilty about that.
Marc: So I like this. Thank you for answering so honestly. So my appetite is like so big for life that I feel guilty about it. So how do you have a big appetite for life? Give me some words around that.
Susie: I laugh too much. I laugh too loud. I hug too much, too loud—too strong. I guess I want to be the center of attention or I certainly feel guilty about any desire to want to be the center of attention. I can be too opinionated. And certainly I eat too much, be a glutton, slovenly, not as thin and trim as I should be, that’s too much. Too much body, too much energy, too much voice, too much passion, too much me.
Marc: Did anybody ever tell you, you were too much?
Susie: Well, both of them. Both my parents.
Marc: Your dad too, huh.
Susie: Tone it down. Tone it down. Turn it all the time. And my father by the way was a big energy guy. He was very funny, very smart, very charismatic. My mother was—she was also charismatic and charming and pretty but also very, very kind of contained and pinched. She watched everything she ate. She never overindulged. My father did overindulge. But even he would say, he would say tone it down. She said it more but they both said it.
Marc: Does anybody else give you that message these days? Or it’s just like voices from the past?
Susie: No. My husband is English. Actually too, he’s my second husband. My first husband was English too. Oh I forgot, that’s a point, and another actor. But he also was always telling me, like he would see me do a performance and he’d say—and I got like a good review in the paper and he would say, “You know, you think that you are better than you are. And really, your performance was just sort of a common garden performance and just don’t get so full of yourself. Don’t be too big for your britches.” Heard that a lot. And it’s certainly true of my husband today, too. He’s British. He’s a narcissist and he wants to be in the spotlight. And I’ve gotten that message from him too.
Marc: Who supports you? Who is most supportive in your life of you just kind of being you? Like who’s the person or persons that when you’re being a big personality, when you’re kind of cutting loose, who are the people that are like ‘Yeah’?
Susie: I got like a ton of friends, a ton of friends who love that about me. And we are all that way together. And I’m blessed in that regard. Very blessed. I have a whole slew of very close friends.
Marc: Favorite fairytale?
Marc: Or one that sticks in your mind?
Susie: I guess I would say Cinderella.
Marc: Yeah, it’s a good one.
Susie: I do want the handsome prince.
Susie: And I guess being chosen. It’s interesting that there’s a wicked stepmother and two wicked stepsisters in that fairytale but that may be some of the—I still believe I’m still trying to separate from my own mother. That I have so much of her in me, the judgment, the humiliation, the coldness, the ‘it’s all about appearances,’ which was her own insecurity. I understand where it comes from. But I have a lot of her in me that I don’t like. And then the other bigger part is my father and I like that part. But I’m also a little embarrassed about it.
Marc: I get it. So I have a question, I just want to try to phrase it so it’s how I want to ask it. Have you ever felt chosen in your life?
Susie: Yes. Recently, I have met someone and I have felt chosen.
Marc: Previous to that?
Susie: I felt chosen by my father. Now, this could be also there was a—the story that they love to tell was that when my mother got pregnant, he was certain it was a girl, he was certain she would have dark hair, and she would have green eyes, and her name would be Susie. And that is what he got. So, yes, I definitely felt chosen by him. And I certainly felt chosen by the—I’ve had a lot of success in my careers and I felt chosen then and acknowledged for my talent.
Marc: Got it. Okay, Susie, I have some good information about you.
Susie: Oh good.
Marc: Yeah. I’m going to speak in just kind of generalities first and just kind of circle in. But it’s sometimes good just to kind of start wide and start with the big picture. Just some impressions that I have about you and from our conversation is that you are figuring out who you are.
Marc: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so what’s fascinating, and let’s look at this as fascinating, so even though your story, your journey, your history, is one of some lovely success, not everybody gets to be in the world of entertainment. Not everybody gets to be in the world of entertainment in a number of different roles as you have been in. And not everyone gets to have some success in that realm where they can say, “Wow, I accomplished here.” So that’s very difficult. And society—we put the entertainment industry on arguably the highest pedestal that we have. And with that and having a life and raised a child and been through a couple of relationships and had some fascinating parents and having all kinds of interesting friends, you’re still figuring out exactly who you are when you grow up. And I say that affectionately right now. I’m trying to place you on the map. That map when you go to the mall and you don’t know where the heck you are and it’s like “You are here.” So it really feels you’re in…how old are you? Don’t tell me 69. How old do you experience yourself as?
Susie: Oh, 30.
Marc: Okay, I get it.
Susie: You know what, maybe even younger.
Susie: You know what, to be really honest, to be really honest, four or five.
Marc: Okay, I buy that. So what I want to guesstimate is that, in your good moments, you’re a 30-year-old. You got energy. Life is ahead of you. It’s like, “Hey, I’m just getting rolling here, isn’t this great, got life on my side.” So you definitely have aspects of a 30-year-old, you will definitely have aspects of a 69-year-old, and you will definitely have aspects of that 4- and 5-year-old. And the 4- or 5-year-old in you, to me, is kind of confused. She’s pulled in completely different directions. She doesn’t know what the hell is going on quite frankly and cannot figure out her conundrum. She can’t figure out this conundrum. Because probably when we’re little people, our parents are gods. Your parents were especially gods because they occur that way to other people in your universe.
Marc: So it was like, “Wow, these people really are gods.” So you look up to gods. You look up to your parents. And you grew up in an industry that is god-awful on one level. That is absolutely god-awful. I’m going to just say it. You grew up in an industry that is god-awful when it comes to respecting the humanity of who we actually are.
Susie: Yeah. It’s all about that.
Marc: It’s awful. And it puts nonsense in one’s head that is very difficult to remove. So if you’re in the acting world, if you’re in the modeling world, and you’re a woman especially, you’re essentially screwed. If you transcend that, you’ve either worked hard or you’re damn lucky or both. Okay. So what I am trying to say here is that if this has been difficult for you to individuate, to become you, to learn to love and accept your body. All I’m saying is given your trajectory, it makes perfect sense.
Susie: And this brings tears to me because I blame myself.
Marc: I know. I know you do. And that’s what a child does. That’s what a 4- and 5-year-old does. Because as children, we are brilliant observers, we are extremely poor interpreters. So the brilliant observation is, “This is weird, this is not right. Something doesn’t feel good. Wait a second, mom is going in this direction, dad’s going in this direction. They’re asking me to do—I don’t get it.” And whatever is not working, therefore, I must be doing something wrong. I got to be better. Because if I’m a better kid, then these people will love me more and then just like everything will be better. So what do I got to do for you people to love me? And okay, I could be a good actress. Okay, I could be a good writer. Okay, I could be a good producer. Okay, oops, gained a little weight, but I can lose it. Or whoa, I’m a little loud but I could tone it down. What do I got to do?
So as you know kind of, sort of, but not really, it’s not your fault. And you really, really, really, really have to start getting that. That you were initiated into the living pits of hell in terms of the kind of environment that would support a healthy body image. Plain and simple.
Susie: Wow, wow.
Marc: Plain and simple.
Susie: I just never thought about it this way.
Marc: Yeah. You were raised in the belly of the beast for this kind of stuff. I work with all kinds of people around body image stuff, the most difficult cases by far, I’ve worked with supermodels who are some of them are so far gone in terms of how bruised their psyche is.
Marc: From what’s been imparted into their brains that they didn’t invent, that you didn’t invent, that none of us invented but we find ourselves in it. So you have found yourself in it and there’s a part of you that’s still in it. Even though that world doesn’t have the same compelling grip on you, it still lives in you. You’re detoxing.
Susie: Yeah. Ouch.
Marc: You’re detoxing. You’re detoxing. You’re detoxing. So what I want to say to you, and I really mean this, there is a level where we can have a conversation about how incredible your industry is. How incredible the entertainment industry is, all the benefits, all the possibilities, all the goodies, all the things it can afford one, we could have that conversation. I can have the opposite conversation as well. We can have the conversation about how it crushes people, how it crushes women, particularly crushes women. And how it sticks the dagger in our most vulnerable places.
So you have learned to succeed in that industry despite its toxicity and you didn’t escape unharmed. So what I am doing right now is I am trying to give you a different context for the challenge you have faced because there is a level where you have wisely gone after this in a very personal way. This is my experience. These are my thoughts so I have to fix this shit. I’ve got to handle this. It makes sense. That makes perfect sense. One of the ways sometimes that we are able to handle things, manage things, and fix things better is to have a deeper understanding of their origin and where they actually do come from. And what I am saying is, this is a strange case where you are a home for toxic beliefs and concepts that are invented by the world. They found a home in you for understandable reasons. And you’re trying to unwind that and it is understandably massively difficult.
So if you say to me, I’m 69 and I’m still trying to handle this, I’m over here going, “I get it.” That’s how hard it is. That’s how hard it is. And you’re a smart lady. And you have resources. And it’s still hard. So what we’re doing is we’re acknowledging how hard it is.
Susie: They take the blame off me.
Marc: Yes. Because they, the proverbial they, the people that invented this nonsense and some are just kind of carrying on and they do it unconsciously, and a lot of ways, it’s very deliberate. There are a lot of people making a lot of money off of their misery. The more you hate your body, the more you hate yourself, the more you do not feel good about who you are and what you look like, the more nonsense you will buy.
Marc: That keeps the wheel greased. So you have been given a very difficult, I’m going to call it, sole task. What’s a sole task? When I call it a sole task, I mean it’s not the task of I don’t know, figuring out how you’re going to live in Mexico. It’s not the task of determining what kind of car you should buy. This is a lifelong task that should you achieve it, it’s a powerful achievement. It’s a powerful breakthrough. It’s a huge evolutionary leap for you. Why it’s difficult is because, on the one hand, you actually have the smarts, you have the intellect, you have the knowledge, you have life experience under your belt, you could actually do this. You can get where you want to go. And it is a twin charter for you than it is for a lot of other people, honestly, given the way your brain has been programmed by your industry. It’s harder because it’s drilled into your head, even when they’re not drilling into your head. All you got to do is walk into the studio. All you got to do is walk into the office. It’s in the atmosphere. Nobody has to say anything. It’s understood.
Susie: Yeah, you’re right. You’re so right.
Marc: So you bring that atmosphere with you. You still live in that atmosphere. That atmosphere actually surrounds you. It’s attached itself to you. Nobody has to say it. No one has to say anything. But the atmosphere around you is like you got to be thin. You got to be thin. If you want to get somewhere, you got to be thin. And like, yeah, we need you to be out there but like don’t be out there, really. Be out there when we tell you to be out there. Okay, go.
Susie: Be out there the way we want you to be out there, not the way you want to be out there.
Marc: Exactly. And you’re trying to do that and you’ve been trying to do that. And it works to the degree it works. And there’s another part of you is going, “Jesus, this isn’t right. This doesn’t fit.” There’s a place where that universe doesn’t fit for you. It doesn’t actually match all of who you are. Does it match a lot of who you are? Absolutely. Absolutely. But it doesn’t match all of who you are. So to me, you’re at a time in life where you have to get a good perspective on what your challenge actually is. That’s what we’re doing right now. I’m trying to give you a slightly different perspective on what the challenge is because you’ve taken it a little bit too personally.
And because you’ve taken it a little bit too personally, it then becomes easy for you to self-attack and to self-doubt because you’re not seeing headway. You’re not seeing the kind of results that you want despite all this work that you’re doing because the methods that were given, the tools that were given, the tools that psychotherapy uses, as good as they are, much of the time is not enough. We’re given a screwdriver and a hammer where we need a big power tool. And you’ve been working diligently with the screwdrivers and the hammers, doing your best. But you haven’t been given the tools for the job here because it’s so much bigger than you and it’s so much bigger than a personal issue.
So what I would love to see you do is to start addressing this challenge. Yes, it’s about you, I want you to hold the paradox. The paradox is this is about Susie, because this lives in you. So you’re working on you. But how many people do we know dealing with this? That’s how I make a living speaking to people, talking to people, teaching people, there’s just so many of us. So many.
Susie: It’s an epidemic.
Marc: It’s an epidemic. So I want you to know that you are not battling this on your own and you’re not battling this just for you. This is not just for you. Okay? This is because if you can rise up and meet this at age 69, 70, 71, then that is a victory that we can all celebrate.
Susie: Oh my God.
Marc: All of us. I will celebrate. You will celebrate. Invite me to the party. Okay? It’s worth celebrating. It’s worth talking about. It’s worth owning. Right now, what happens is you spiral down into shame. The shame is really what gets you by the ovaries the most. Shame and guilt gets mixed in there too. They’re slightly different but the shame and the guilt just kind of come over you like a wave and it throws you off your horse. So instead of trying to counteract the shame by beating it up, fighting it, trying to avoid it, I don’t know, we’re going to do a little bit different here. We’re going to introduce honor into the system. We’re going to introduce a little bit more mission into the system. We’re going to introduce a bigger storyline.
So yes, you’re doing this for you. But consider this a play. Consider this theater. Consider this the story. And we’re kind of writing the script as we go along. But the way the story is starting here is it starts now. And it starts with a 69-year-old woman who has had this path, this journey, this trajectory that has caused her, amongst other things, to have a body image that can be debilitating, can have a relationship with food that feels debilitating, can have a relationship with her body that feels debilitating. So we are now going to follow this woman on her journey where she reclaims herself. In a way, you’re reclaiming yourself. And I am appealing to your archetype. I am appealing to your age. I am appealing to the queen in you. Don’t just do it for you. Set a freaking example. You’re smart. Amongst the challenge that you’ve been given, you’ve been given a huge blessing in your life. Don’t squander it. Use it. Use it to marshal your forces and understand that you’re doing this for more than just you. This is more than just you looking svelte.
Who really cares at this point? You do. But does your husband care? Not an issue. That’s off the table. Your friends love you. Nobody’s walk—I promise you there’s nobody in your universe looking at you going, “Damn, if she can only lose 20 pounds, I would like her so much better. This will be so…oh God, I would like talk to her and it would be so…” Nobody cares.
Susie: I know, it’s just a distortion in my mind.
Marc: Yes. It’s a distortion in your mind that was implanted there by the world and it’s a powerful distortion. It has a life of its own. And what’s happened is it keeps you in 4-, 5-year-old girl. So what I would love for you to do is to start to notice the 4- and 5-year-old girl in you. You noticed her quickly. I asked you the question. How old are you? First you said 30. And then you corrected yourself because you tapped in. And I jumped in and said, yeah, there’s different ages. We’re different people. We’re playing different roles. We pull them out of our pockets when we need them. The 4-, 5-year-old girl in you, you don’t have control over her. She’s kind of reading the lines most of the time, more so than we would like.
So I want you to start to notice when she takes over. You’ll know when she takes over because you go into shame. As soon as you go into shame, know that you are four or five years old. As soon as you go into guilt, know that you are four and five years old. Now, when you go into that shame moment, I’m going to suggest a tool to be with shame, which is to be with shame. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing wrong with it.
So what I’m asking you to do, here’s the move. Here’s the trick. The trick is love the person who is feeling shamed. “Oh, here’s me feeling shamed. Totally understandable given all I know about myself, given all I know about life, given all I know about the world, given all I know about my upbringing, given all I know about the entertainment industry. Of course, I would feel a little shame here and there. In fact, a lot of shame here and there.” So I want you to have compassion for her because, man, you’ve been given a tough piece to overcome. Women are given a very tough challenge to overcome when it comes to all the looks and the body nonsense. It’s so hard. It’s unbelievable how hard it is. I’m a male. I observe this stuff. It’s getting harder and harder for men, for sure. Honestly, for women, it gets so deep into the bones and the cells. It’s awful.
Marc: So we want to have love and compassion for that person. We don’t want to smack her when she’s down. So what that also means is when that 4- and 5-year-old girl is showing up and you know she shows up because you’re feeling shame, that’s an interesting time to also invoke and think of this like acting. You invoke another character and I want you to invoke your ideal parent.
Susie: Can I interrupt you for a second?
Marc: Please, of course, yeah.
Susie: You said queen before.
Susie: When I was in my coach’s training we worked on what was called a life purpose statement. And mine has remained, for me, true. And the statement goes I am a ‘fill in the blank’ who does ‘fill in the blank.’ Okay, CTI. So here is what it was, I am the bubbly benevolent queen mother who opens her heart to others so that they may open theirs.
Marc: Huh. How perfect?
Susie: So when you say call up another image, I mean there it is.
Marc: That’s it. That’s perfect. Bubbly. Okay, tell me, say it again. I am a benevolent…
Susie: I am the bubbly, benevolent, queen mother who opens her heart to others so that they may open theirs.
Marc: That is you. That is you, bubbly, benevolent. Benevolent means you’re focused out there. You’re giving. And you know why you’re giving, because your tank is so full. Your coffers are so full that you can give. We can’t give when we’re empty. You actually have a mostly full tank. You fool yourself into thinking as drained. But you’ve actually got a full tank, you do. You do. For your age—
Susie: That’s part of the theory. You see the fear is the full tank that you’re talking about is too much. That’s where it comes from.
Marc: Understood. Understood. So we know where it comes from. The fear is that it’s too much and here we are. It’s time to be too much. Make a big freaking mistake and be too much. Like start to let yourself be too much and let me know what happens. Who’s going to like—I’d be interested to know who’s complaining and what they’re complaints are and if they’re legitimate or not. I think it’s time to be too much because what I think you’ll find is what you called too much is just you. It’s this interesting, fascinating, passionate woman. There’s actually nothing that’s too much. And the reality is, are there people who you are too much for? Of course. That I’m too much for? Yeah. That your husband is—anybody is too much for somebody, right? So please don’t take this personal.
Susie: All right.
Marc: And there’s going to be some people we aren’t enough for. Go figure. Okay, I’m too much for you. Not enough for you. How about you people, where do I fall in? Who gives a shit? So stepping into your queen—the queen when she sits on her throne, she doesn’t sit on her throne and say to her queendom, “I just want to ask everybody, am I too much, like do I need to tone it…should my chair be lower? I could wear more muted colors. Is this…”
Susie: I wear black all the time.
Marc: Okay. So you’re sitting in your chair being a tentative queen. You can’t be benevolent from that place. You can’t be empowered. You can’t be bubbly from that place nor can you truly open your heart because you’ve closed it to yourself, nor could you help other people open their hearts because you’re coming from fear. And the queendom collapses a little bit. And the distance between that and where you want to be is so tiny. This isn’t a chasm here to cross. This isn’t 40 years in the desert to cross. The distance between where you are—and I really mean this, I am not kidding you.
Susie: And you say this because, why?
Marc: Because I’ve been doing this for so long. And I watch people. And I observe people. And I’ve been through this journey with people. So it’s easy because I’ve been stupidly obsessed with this kind of thing for 40 years that I can more easily see just like, I don’t know, you might look at a 13-year-old and spot talent, “Oh, wow, I see something there.”
Susie: Oh so what I was asking was your sense is that are, for me, the distance is not great? That’s what you’re saying.
Susie: That’s what I didn’t understand.
Marc: Okay, sorry, sorry. So where you want to go and where you are right now is like a step to the left.
Susie: Oh that’s really empowering to me.
Marc: Yes, I know it doesn’t feel that way because it’s a concept. It’s a thought. It’s a belief that keeps you locked in, it’s actually a few. Okay. So what I’m suggesting to you is first place to work is noticing the shame. I want you to notice feelings. I want you to notice shame and guilt. Soon as you see and feel shame and guilt come up, I want you to notice that and I want you to note that as a moment where you are being asked to hug that little girl. I want that bubbly, benevolent, queen to show up in that moment and be with that little girl. What would that bubbly, benevolent, queen do with that little girl?
Susie: Oh pull her on her lap, hug her, hug her, rock her, tell her she’s beautiful, and it’s okay, and it’s okay.
Marc: Bingo. Bingo, bingo, bingo. Now, hold that thought for a second. One of the things you said at the beginning of this conversation, which I’ve been waiting to circle back to. And I’m not remembering your exact words but these are pretty close. You know waving your magic wand, what would you get? At some point, you said, “Let go of this emotional attachment to food.” Okay, so I’m going to save you so much work right now, you’re going to love me. Okay?
Susie: Love you more than I already do?
Marc: Yes. You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to get rid of your emotional attachment to food. I don’t want you to. Nobody wants you to. Why? Because we’re emotional creatures. We’re emotional people. Humans are emotional. Not only that, some of us are more emotional than others. We have emotions. What are emotions? Love, hate, pleasure, pain, happiness, sadness, all that kind of stuff. What would you prefer to be? The opposite of that? An unemotional eater.
So I’m asking you to be an emotional human. I’m asking you to be an emotional person. I’m asking you to be an emotional either, meaning bring your emotions to the table. Bring celebration to the table.
And you know something, when you’re feeling guilt, great. Note it. I’m feeling guilt. When you overate because you were nervous and you were tense so you weren’t liking yourself, I want you to notice that, I was nervous and I was tense because, you know what, I’m a human being and I get nervous sometimes and I get tense. And sometimes I get sucked into my past. I’m an emotional person. Big hug, okay.
So what’s going to happen is, over time, by honoring the fact that we are humans who are emotional and therefore—I get behind a car sometimes, I’m an emotional driver. Yeah, sometimes I’m unemotional and I’m cool and I’m calm and collected. And you put me in a car in New York city and I’m yelling out the window. Is that so bad? Okay. So by and by what’s going to happen is you will notice that, yeah, there are certain times when you’re in certain emotions that you know it’s not best for me to eat or you know I got to really watch myself or you know I’m going to tread lightly here.
So I’m not saying just, “Oh, you’re feeling depressed, just eat whatever you want,” I’m not saying that. I’m saying let’s just pull back for a second and not try to fight emotions around eating. Because really, what you’re doing is you’re trying to fight emotions. And what’s happening is you’re allowing you’re emotions to come out around food because that’s when they’re coming into awareness. Otherwise, they’re just kind of being a little bit stealth, hanging out where they are, and then food—because food is food and we have this interesting relationship food and it’s very symbolic. So as soon as you’re dealing with food then emotions come out, then there’s this whole other drama that happens. So I’m saying stop fighting that drama. Be it. Live it. Experience it. Love it. And by not fighting it, you actually start to befriend it. Ah, see I’m right.
Susie: My phone just dinged.
Marc: No. That, to me, is the “you’re right” ding.
Susie: That’s right.
Marc: That’s what I tell myself anyway to make myself feel good.
Susie: You are so right. This is so profound. And I hope I’m going to be able to watch it because I know I’m going to need reinforcement.
Marc: Oh, for sure.
Susie: What you’re saying is so profound and I can feel it resonating inside me. And I want to make sure that I remember my assignments and go this course.
Marc: Absolutely, absolutely. So I’m just pausing for a moment to see if I want to introduce anything else. We’re coming close to that time. Let me just kind of start to put a bow on this for you. To me, you’ve just gotten a really good snapshot of yourself that more accurately identifies where you are that takes you out of the zone called “I should be ashamed of myself” and puts you in the zone called “we,” the human family and the women of the human family particularly that I have been given a very fascinating and intense challenge of how to live in this world where we could own our bodies. Where we can feel empowered about who we are. Where we could have a healthy and nourishing relationship with food. And where we are largely immune to the nonsense that would pull us down and make us feel shameful and guilty about who we are.
So you are learning that the body that you have is worthy of love. To do that is a practice. There’s no morphing or shifting of weight right now that you can possibly do, in my opinion and my experience, that will give you any kind of permanent shift, the kind that you’re looking for. Right now, to me, your task is to sit on your throne and get comfortable there.
Sit on your throne and get comfortable there. Get comfortable with this body, 20 pounds, who gives a shit? No, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a legitimate—like yeah okay, you might have that desire to lose 20 pounds. But you know something, in the scheme of things, that desire needs to be put to the side. Not behind you, just put it to the side. It’s right there. You could see it. You could always pick it up again. It’s right there. I’m not calling it a bad desire. I think it’s a fine desire to want to morph and shape and shift one’s body in a good way. And we have to examine all the time our desires to see, is this in alignment with who I am and where I want to go? Am I going about this in a good way? Am I going about this in a way that serves me, serves others, that works for me? Previously your strategies have not been helping you. So that’s why we’re doing something different here. So that’s why I’m saying, we’re going to put this to the side for a little while. And just take it off the table.
Susie: You don’t know what a relief that feels like. Such a relief.
Marc: Yeah. You’re giving yourself the gift of taking time to be and to get to know yourself because your whole life there’s always been a freaking carrot in front of you. Do this, you’ll be loved more. Achieve this, you’ll be loved more. Weigh this, you’ll be loved more. Okay, you did that, you did that, you did that. But if you do this, people will love you more. It’s freaking exhausting. Let’s have an experience called, “Okay, nothing else to do but celebrate who we are right now and just hang out for a while and love this expression of you,” really love her like you would love anyone else that you love for who they are. Give that to yourself. And as an actress, sometimes, as you know, you play that role. You fake it just a little, just a little. It’s okay for you to fake it. I’m fine with that because you’re trying it on.
Marc: You’re invoking that voice. You are bringing her forth. You know what I’m saying.
Susie: Yeah. And when you said get comfortable on that throne that really, really resonated.
Marc: Aahhh, how beautiful.
Marc: So I am especially, especially, especially, I want to tell you something. So I get for this podcast, we get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of applications. I read through every freaking one of them. I kid you not, I read through every one of them. Why? Because I want to pick the right mix of people. I want to make sure it’s not all kind of the same person with the same… And one of the reasons, one of the main reasons that you popped out for me when I looked over what you wrote—yes, it was what you wrote. But then when I saw your age and that you were 69, I was outraged. Not at you. But I was outraged that a human would be 69 and not sitting on her throne. That’s not okay with me. I want a different world. I’m not saying that’s your fault. I’m not outraged at you. I’m outraged at the world.
Marc: So this is us doing something about that. This is us getting together because we can’t do this alone. There’s all kinds of things we just can’t do alone.
Susie: Yeah, yeah.
Marc: It doesn’t work. So this is us coming together and being a collective immune response against a big nasty thing that’s hard to defeat. So really what I’m saying is, it is so important for me personally, I’m being selfish here, that you get where you want to go because that makes a statement. That is such an ‘in-your-face’ statement. And you’re a bubbly lady, okay. You got a lot of life. And at 69, for you to still be in the ring going I want to handle this, how great is that? How great is that? So this is not just for you. This is a yes. It’s for you. Yes, it’s for you. Get comfortable in your throne. But I’ve got my eye on a bigger prize for you, which is that this is a service that you do for the world.
Susie: Oh, God. Wow. Wow.
Marc: Set an example. The world needs good queens.
Susie: This is amazing.
Susie: This is absolutely amazing. You have broadened the perspective of my whole life, this whole issue that I have been talking about since I was six to a vantage point that I have never been at before. And it changed everything that I see from this vantage point. I’m so grateful to you. Your vision, the size of your vision for me, for us, for the world, for what all of this represents is so inspiring and I wasn’t thinking of my little self in that way.
Susie: So I am beyond grateful, Marc, really.
Marc: Hmm-mm. Well, thank you so much. Those are beautiful generous words, I really appreciate it.
Susie: And really from the heart. I mean, as the Brits say, I’m gobsmacked right now.
Marc: Well good, that was my intention. So then it worked. So it absolutely worked. And I really want you to know, you have everything that you need to get where you want to go. I have zero doubts. Zero doubts and I’m over here cheering you on.
Susie: I know, I feel that. I really feel it. Thank you.
Marc: So, great work. And we get to meet about five months or so down the line.
Susie: I know. I’m so excited to see what will be here then and to have another session with you, wow.
Marc: And feel free, feel free to reach out, email us at whatever email you’ve been using. If you want to just like send me an update, say, “Hey, Marc offered that I can send them an update and make sure this gets to him.” It’ll get to me. And happy to hear it, yeah.
Susie: Great, great. I mean really, truly, this has been life-changing. Thank you.
Marc: I’m so happy for you.
Marc: Yay, Susie. Great, great work. Thank you for being so available and so real and so honest and so willing. Good for you.
Susie: Well, thank you. You engender this though, you do, in all the work you do. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity when the email came to apply for this. Because you do engender that and it’s a two-way street. And I feel part of me also feels like I want to do this for you too.
Marc: Yay. Good. As it should be. We’re here to cheer each other on. And we’re doing it for each other in so many ways, that’s okay.
Marc: This is all okay. Okay, so I look forward to more with you, for sure.
Susie: All right, thank you so much, Marc, really. Thank you so much.
Marc: Yay. Thank you, Susie. Thank you, everybody, for tuning in. Thanks for being along the ride with us. And I’m Marc David, once again, on behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast, more to come, my friends. You take care.
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