The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 113: 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:

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

Lee: Hi, Marc.

Marc: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad we’re doing this. And, Lee, let me just take a moment and check in with listeners and viewers. If you’re new to the podcast, here’s what this is about. We’re gong to be on for about an hour. And Lee and I have never met before. We’ve been chit chatting for a minute or two before we we’re going live here.

And we’re going to do a session. And whatever Lee wants to work on, we’re going to see if we can sort of move things forward with a one time experience. So I’m going to ask a bunch of questions for about 15, 20 minutes and then start to give some feedback, some thoughts. We’ll dialogue. And let’s jump in my friend.

My question for you—and I really mean this—if you could just wave your magic wand and get what you want out of this session, what would that be for you?

Lee: I think what I would like would be to figure out what is sort of blocking me or holding me back from getting a body that’s really comfortable. And I’ve done lots of diets. I’ve lost varying amounts of weight. I’ve gotten down to the textbook ideal weight, gained that and more back several times. And even when I was at that weight, I wasn’t comfortable with that body. And right now I’m at a weight where it’s literally just uncomfortable to have this big belly in the front. And it’s causing some issues with my back and my hips and knees.

So it’s not, this time, so much about trying to be a certain weight for other people. It’s just that I would like to be comfortable. And I would like to do it to sort of be gentle or kind to the other parts of my body that are starting to hurt because of this. But I just haven’t been able to actually sort of seem to get that going yet.

Marc: Yeah, understood. How long have you been trying to lose weight successfully, long term, sustainable?

Lee: Oh, wow. I don’t know that I’ve really been trying. I’ve been intending to try. But again, it just doesn’t seem to really catch on. In fact, one of the things that I had been noticing was that when I would consider doing something, the classic diet of restriction and stuff like that, it would really kind of propel me in the opposite direction.

And I would find myself just running off and doing the exact opposite of what I intended, a lot, which was quite curious. I think as I’ve done some of this, I’ve come to understand some of that.

In one of your recordings you talked about doing the food and body biography.

And I started doing that and started hearing a whole lot of stories back. And it’s like oh, that’s where I had heard that. That’s where I learned that. And so that’s clarified some of it. But I still don’t seem to quite do what I know needs to happen.

Marc: How much weight do you want to lose?

Lee: Probably at least 130, maybe 150, pounds.

Marc: And if you lost 150, what would that put you at?

Lee: 180.

Marc: 180, okay. So you’re 330 right now. How tall are you?

Lee: 5’10”.

Marc: 5’10”. How old are you?

Lee: 54 last week.

Marc: Got it. Happy birthday.

Lee: Yeah, I had to think about that because the number just changed.

Marc: Right. The numbers just keep going up. So you had mentioned you had reached your kind of ideal target textbook weight. When was that?

Lee: Oh, that was, let’s see, that was in ’88. So that was like 29 years ago or so. And I did that with one of the prepackaged weight loss programs. And it worked. At that time I lost 80 pounds in about six months. So it certainly took the weight off. But I remember, at one point, feeling like I had lost part of myself. It was a very strange sort of feeling. And at that time I was doing it because I thought it would solve a lot of other loneliness issues and things like that, and feeling unaccepted and whatnot, and that people would like me better if I’m thin, look better, all that kind of stuff. And what I found was it turns out not to really make a lot of difference. And that realization at that point kind of put me into an even bigger emotional tailspin, which took me to some very dark places at that time, which fortunately I got through.

And so I know that this doesn’t solve those issues. They’re their own set of work. And I’m still working on that. And a lot of that has come to realize, too, how I’ve used food for emotional numbing. I noticed that sometimes I would just crave sweets. So one time I said okay, fine. I’m just going to see what it is about this that I like. And so I just went ahead and ate all the sweets I liked. And then I realized it’s like wow, the sugar rush.

The sugar rush covers up sadness. And I was like oh, okay.

Marc: So let me ask you this question. Are you married?

Lee: Yes.

Marc: How long have you been married?

Lee: Let’s see, I should know this, 25 years.

Marc: Wow. Do you have kids?

Lee: Yeah, I have one son.

Marc: How old?

Lee: And he is 24, no 23. He hasn’t had his birthday yet.

Marc: And if I were to ask your wife right now, if you weren’t here, “Tell me why you think Lee can’t or doesn’t get where he wants to go in terms of his weight.” What one sentence answer would she give me? What do you think she would say?

Lee: Boy, reading her mind’s a challenge. I’m not sure I’ve mastered that one.

Marc: Oh, no, I’m sure you haven’t. But you could guess.

Lee: Probably that I’m just rushing around too much. I’m just on the go. And it’s grabbing meals here and there. And I think that’s why the prepackaged weight loss thing worked because it fit my typical mindless way of eating at the time, of just grab something, stick it in the microwave for two minutes, eat it, go on to the next thing.

Marc: Were you overweight as a kid?

Lee: I remember thinking I was all through elementary and middle school. But then recently I was looking at some pictures of me. I was like I was absolutely not overweight. I found a picture of me in the eighth grade. Then I got to thinking about what I did. I was doing taekwondo. I had completed the advanced lifeguard course a year before they realized I was eligible to actually be certified. So I’m pulling adults out of the water and doing all this stuff. I’m like there’s no way I was out of shape or fat at that time. But I was sure that I was fat, and I was out of shape.

And in doing that food body biography, some of those things, I’ve realized, came from things that happened younger, in elementary school.

At one point my parents decided I needed to go jogging with my dad for some reason, in elementary school. And somehow I took that to mean that I was out of shape, that I was overweight. I don’t think they ever said that to me. But somehow that was the message that I got out of it.

Marc: Interesting. Are your parents still alive?

Lee: My mother is still alive.

Marc: Are you close with her at all?

Lee: A little bit, not extremely. And now, well, she would say she’s over 21, which is all anybody needs to know. But she’s into her 90s. So she loses track of a lot of things now.

Marc: Do you enjoy food?

Lee: Yes. And I’m enjoying it a lot more now that I’m actually paying attention
to it.

Marc: So would you consider yourself a fast eater, moderate eater, slow eater? What would you say?

Lee: Yeah, if I’m not putting really intentional conscious effort into it, I’m a really fast eater. And in fact I was doing pretty good with slowing down and stuff over the Christmas holidays when I was off of work. But then when work started again, all of a sudden I just fell right back into the habits of grabbing a breakfast at the drive through and probably having it finished before I finished the drive into work and stuff like that. And so, yeah, I’m very much a fast eater. And even when I take time, it’s a real effort not to do it with a distraction, to not have the TV or the computer on and be reading something else while I’m eating.

Marc:

So I want to see if we can do a dietary intake with you in 90 seconds or less.

What might be a typical breakfast?

Lee: Oh, probably like a sausage biscuit and eggs and maybe some hash browns.

Marc: And you’re doing tea, coffee, water, juice, milk?

Lee: A lot of times it’s a diet soda.

Marc: And lunch, what might be a typical lunch?

Lee: Lunch about half the time is maybe a chef salad. Other times it might be, again, running by and picking something up between places, between meetings and things.

Marc: So if you run and pick something up, would you call it fast food? Would you call it fast food healthy food? What would you call it?

Lee: Yeah, it’d be fast food.

Marc: So what do you go for, burgers, chicken, pizza? What are your favorites?

Lee: Usually burgers, sometimes chicken.

Marc: And what do you mostly drink during the day?

Lee: I’ve been cutting way down on the diet sodas. So usually I’ll have that one in the morning with the caffeine to kind of get going. Then after that it’s mostly water.

Marc: And typical dinner?

Lee: A typical dinner is usually some kind of meat and starch, so a lot of sort of meat and potatoes kind of thing.

Marc: What time do you have dinner usually?

Lee: Oh, well I’ll tell you, a lot of times, by the time I get actually home and to eat, it may be eight or nine o’clock at night.

Marc: And what time do you get to bed?

Lee: Maybe about 11:00.

Marc: 11:00. How’s your sleep?

Lee: Well, sometimes it’s pretty good. But if my hip is hurting, that’s been disrupting my sleep lately, which, again, goes back to why I’d like to be more comfortable and not have that pressure there. And one of the things I have noticed is those nights when I’ve had the tossing and turning sleep, trying to find a way that’s comfortable to lay, the next day by three o’clock in the afternoon I’ll be so dead tired. And I am craving carbohydrates just like crazy.

Marc: Sure. So are there times during the day that you would say wow, man, I really overate. Or I binge ate. Or I wish I didn’t snack on that?

Lee: Yeah, usually it’s after I’ve had an afternoon sort of a crash coming on and gone for the carbohydrates. I mean they work. They kind of perk you up for that last hour and a half, two hours of work. But I know that’s not really a good approach. And probably the thing I would say I eat most often, that, in a way, I know it doesn’t agree with me, but I find myself eating it a lot, are Fritos. And that’s kind of a curious thing.

Marc:

Why do you think the weight doesn’t come off, if you had to nail it?

Lee: I would say it’s the fast eating and the grabbing things on the go that are not really nutritious. They fill you up. They kind of occupy space. But I know they’re not really that nutritious.

Marc: A question, not that I haven’t been asking questions here. But given that you shared, wow, a bunch of years ago, I think you said 29 years ago, I hit that ideal weight. I was on this diet system, gained it back. What do you think now when you think about losing weight? Do you think oh my God, if I lose weight I’m going to gain it? Does that thought occur to that the same thing is going to happen? Or you don’t think about that?

Lee: I have thought about it. And I think for a while there was some resistance because of what a bad emotional spot it led me to before. I mean at one point I was actually suicidal. And so I think there was a fear that if you get there again, you’ll be there again. But I think now, as I’ve kind of thought about that and why I lost that weight, which was for external reasons, now it would be for an entirely different reason. So other people’s reactions to my weight loss don’t matter. It’s to take care of myself and be kinder to all the other parts of my body. And so I think my reasons and motivations are completely different now.

Marc:

Makes total sense. So let’s say you lost all the weight you wanted to lose. Other than feeling better in your body, having a healthier body, less pain, who would you be?

Would you be different? I’m going to be lighter, less pain, healthier. What do you think in terms of you, Lee, the guy in there? Do you imagine you’d be a different person, or you’ll have different outcomes in your inner world, your emotional world, your outer world?

Lee: I don’t know. I think one thing I would have would be more energy to do things that right now I’m just too tired to do. And also things just don’t get done that I would like to get done. So I think I would be more productive, more energetic with things that I would like to do.

And I think part of the weight has been a bit of a shield, in a way, because I was adopted.

And although my adoptive family, I had no problems with them, they’re a very loving, supportive family, they’re absolutely my family, but they’re also different, a little bit, which I didn’t really appreciate it, how that’s a different thing, until I had my son. And it’s a little bit like having an awesome set of in-laws. You can love them, and they’re your family, but they’re a little bit different, too. But you had to fit in. You had to be part of that family. And so I was never kind of able to be me. I was always having to be sort of hidden. And I think part of it has been hiding inside this larger body and also somewhat not sure how other people would take me. I know that’s kind of an external thing.

I remember one of the things I was thinking when I was at that 180 pounds, and people were responding favorably to me, it was like well, okay, are they really responding to me or just because I now look like this.

Would they still like me if I’m 200 pounds, 250, 330?

So I think there’s kind of an element, and that’s one of the things that’s been a lot of internal work, is learning to sort of be myself now. And perhaps it’s time that I don’t need to both be hidden and don’t need to sort of push people away or see how they’re going to like me at whatever weight.

Marc: Yeah, well put. And it’s, I think, more so than the average person who’s looking in the mirror and saying I want to lose some weight. I’ll tell you that there’s more for you to unpack and unwind than the average person. One of the reasons, one of the main reasons I say that, is just from my own experience of working with people who are adopted or who were orphaned in any way, shape, or form. It’s a hard road. It’s a different road.

And it creates a whole different psychology and a whole different set of challenges, as you said, even though I had a great family. I meet so many amazing people who will tell you, yeah, I’m adopted. Yeah, I have this amazing family. And there’s a kind of sword that hangs over their head because none of us want to come into this world and be adopted. It’s not like oh, let me do that. If you cannot feel comfortable, if we can’t feel comfortable in our kind of nuclear family of origin, it makes it harder for me to feel comfortable in my body, because your family is your original kind of body.

They’re your immune system. They’re your extended physiology. They take care of you. They protect you. They guard you. They love you. They do all this stuff. And if that’s not safe, or if I can’t be me, or if it just feels weird, and I don’t know why because I’m a kid; I’m just trying to figure out all this nonsense, it gets harder to be in a body.

And when it’s hard to be in a body, then it’s easier to do things with the body, and to the body, that don’t work out so well for us.

I’m going to just tell you how my mind contexts your challenge that’s before you. Because it is a challenge. If it wasn’t a challenge, you’d be doing this. And we wouldn’t be in this conversation. Certain things for you, for me, are challenges more than others. Part of the challenge here is to really understand that at the end of the day, this isn’t really about food. It plays out in food. Your challenge will express itself with food and body, food and weight. But food and body and food and weight are actually not the issue.

So right now, when you say to me I want to lose 150, 180 pounds, to me your extra weight is a side effect. It’s not the problem.

Lee: Right.

Marc: And we’ve already proven that because when you did lose the weight the problem didn’t go away, whatever the problem was.

Lee: No.

Marc: And that’s an awful experience. I mean it’s an educational one. But it’s never fun to put in all that effort and then to realize oh, my goodness, I hit the target. And there were no bells and whistles going off. Nothing happened.

Lee: Right.

Marc: So it points us back to me. It points you back to you. And I think part of it is learning to let go of shame. One of the beliefs… I don’t want to say beliefs.

One of the hard to metabolize emotions that adoptees have is a little bit of shame.

Lee: Oh, it can be a lot of shame.

Marc: Yeah, okay, a lot of shame.

Lee: And it’s only been really recently that I kind of put it together, I don’t know, 50 something years, the question was well what was wrong with me. Why didn’t she want me?

Marc: Bingo. So the task here – I’m just fast tracking this. And I’m probably telling you things you kind of know – the task here is to realize the truth, which is it wasn’t about you. It never was about you. It never will be about you in terms of why me, why did this happen to me? You are beautifully unique. But you’re not the first guy or gal to go through this, to have these exact feelings, to have suicidal feelings about this, because it cuts to the core of our identity.

As infants, as young children, we are so vulnerable and so susceptible. And when we are feeling that we’re being let go of by our biological parents, whether you’re thinking anything or not, it impacts us. It’s impacting us at a very cellular memory. And it takes a while to figure this out.

So you’re at the time in life where you have enough wisdom, and you have enough experience, and you have enough of you where you can start to look at this because what’s going to happen is, when we’re going ‘what’s wrong with me?’, whether you’re adopted, whether you had the best family, and it’s your biological family, people still walk around with ‘what’s wrong with me?’. We have all different reasons for ‘what’s wrong with me?’. How come he divorced me? How come she didn’t like me? Why did I not get that job? Why me? And then we try to fix ourselves.

So part of the healing for you is to let go of having to fix anything.

It’s a subtlety here. I get that you want to lose weight. I am in full support of you losing weight. However, there’s a difference between losing weight and fixing something that’s broken. You’re not broken. The belief has been I’m broken. And you’re a smart guy. I’m a smart guy. If something’s broken, you fix it. The masculine mind figures that out quick, broken, fix it.

Lee: Yeah, especially for engineers. That’s what we do.

Marc: Yeah, your mind is wired that way.

Lee: Yeah.

Marc: So you’re going to have to make a big leap here. And I mean that. And I know you’re making it already. I get that. But you’ve got to go full on to this, as much as you can, to really wrap around.

I want it to become your mantra, that there’s nothing to fix. I’m not broken.

Fixing automatically implies broken. Do I want to transform my body? Sure. Do I want to lose weight? Sure. Do I want to make more money? Maybe. Sure, you can change things, not broken, not guilty. There are emotions in the system that are just too heavy for you. And they don’t belong there anymore. They’re not yours. You don’t need them.

And one of the reasons why it’s even hard for you to begin a diet, or part of is, is you’re not quite sure what to do. We’re going to talk about that in a little bit in terms of the practical pieces to go about weight loss in a sustainable way.

But part of beginning the process is because it hasn’t worked for you in the past, you are wisely very circumspect, like I don’t want to do this. I want to do this, but I don’t want to do this because I don’t want to fail again. And there’s actually a wisdom in there. So I want to acknowledge that the wisdom is ‘I don’t want to do the same thing again and end up with the same result’. So if you’re not sure of a better strategy, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to start. Do you follow me?

Lee: Right.

Marc: So great, don’t waste your energy. And at the same time, what did we say, 52 is your age now, or 54?

Lee: 54.

Marc: 54. So 54, now’s the time.

Lee: Yeah.

Marc: Now’s the time, not five years from now, not two years from now. Now is kind of the time. And for no other reason than now’s the time. You have the wherewithal. You have the smarts. You have the energy. Even though you might not think you have the energy, you have the energy. And now’s the time to make the shift.

So what I want to say is that on the one hand, you’re going to have to love yourself into this process.

You’re going to have to respect yourself into the journey of weight loss.

This weight loss is not making you a better Lee. I will not like you better. I like you enough. If you gain 20 pounds, I will not like you worse. I still like you. And if there’s anybody out there that’s going to like you less if you don’t lose the weight, they shouldn’t be your friend. You don’t need the nonsense. So you are not doing this to be a better person.

Lee: Right.

Marc: You’re really not. Yeah, might you end up learning some things about yourself? Sure. I’m going to say you’re not doing this to be a more lovable person. That might be a better way to state it. So part of it is really embracing, maybe for the first time, being your own good parent in this process. A good parent loves you.

A good parent stands by you. A good parent loves you no matter what. Yeah, they might get annoyed or irritated. But a good parent doesn’t abandon you. And they don’t make their love so ridiculously conditional. “Well, I’m going to love you if you make this amount of money, if you run faster, jump higher, and lose weight.” “Gee, thanks.” No, that’s not such a great parent. If you love somebody into change and transformation, that works. That I have found to be the best strategy.

So on one level your parents couldn’t hold you. They couldn’t contain you, for whatever reason. And they had to let you go.

What’s going to happen is, we as humans, we will often repeat the wounding that’s happened to us.

We introject it. We bring it within self. So if she left me because I’m no good, and she was abusive, then I’m going to constantly be self-abusing and repeating that in myself. If I was picked on when I was a kid, it will be easy for me to pick on myself and bully my own self. People do that. People who are the victims of being bullied actually introject that and have a whole system of statements about why they’re not so good.

So you being your best parent means you really inquire with yourself what would it be like. Yeah, you’re Lee. You’re you. Obviously you’re not your own parent. But to hold that place inside you in this process.

I’m going to be there. I’m going to love you no matter what.

I’m standing by you. And even if you’re having trouble, even if you go off your diet, guess what? I’m still there. I’m not going to yell at you and call you an idiot or call you stupid names or withdraw love.

So your task is to not withdraw love from self. And the weird thing is, you could have all kind of people around you loving you to pieces. It’s nice. It helps. But it ain’t going to do it for you. You have to cross that threshold yourself. And being that we’re two guys here, I’m going to frame it as a man thing, even though this applies to men and women.

This is a time of self-initiation for you into another aspect of your manhood, is saying okay, I am going to start to be the commander in chief of my own body in a different way. I don’t know how to do it. Why? Because I haven’t really done it before. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. There was a point at which you were not an engineer. And you knew nothing about it. But you became one.

Lee: Right.

Marc: So there is a point right now where you don’t exactly know how to get there. But that doesn’t matter because it’s doable. I’m telling you, it’s very doable.

Lee: Yeah, I can learn anything.

Marc: Yes, you can. Yes, you can. So this is your time to self-initiate. And by self-initiating you have to use a couple of new tools. And again, I’m going to say new tool number one is being a bulldog about noticing when you withdraw love from you.

Another way of saying that is noticing when you start to go into self-rejection, disbelief, apathy, and all of the mind talk that doesn’t sound so nice.

Lee: Yeah, that inner critic that chatters away.

Marc: Yeah, listen to it. Go thank you. That’s annoying, not interested, been there, done it. And start to harness your mind by really noticing it and seeing how the mind can torture you a little bit. And you are then learning to take a deep breath and kind of use your psychic immune system to sort of say ‘no’. Because there is always a point where at some point you stop belittling yourself. Maybe because you fell asleep. Or maybe because you turned on the TV. But we have to develop that on and off switch where we can control the mean dogs or the bad dogs that are talking.

So it’s you standing by yourself with love. It’s you getting that there’s nothing broken here.

And the fact that you’re carrying around a lot of weight has probably saved you in a lot of ways.

It’s helped you ground more. So for many people, we have to look at the gift in it.

Before you start to kick this thing’s butt, you want to look at the gift in it. In a lot of ways the gift in carrying around extra weight is protection. The gift in carrying around extra weight is you are your own universe. The gift in carrying around extra weight is that it does slow us down in a certain way. And slowing down ain’t so bad. And it can make a person more inward. I don’t know how it is for you.

And extra weight will be a placeholder for us. It’s a placeholder. And it’s letting us know, hey, okay, there’s something that maybe needs to be worked on here. I’m not saying this for everybody. Some people who think they have extra weight don’t. They’re at the perfect weight. My guess is for you, the extra weight, it’s kind of a placeholder. It’s kind of been saying, Lee, when you’re ready for this, good, because the issues and the energies and the emotions that you have to face are not always easy.

You shared, wow, there was a point in my life I was suicidal. That’s not easy to face. Many humans face suicidal thoughts. Many people will never share with you that they’ve thought about suicide. But they have. It’s way more common than you think. Even the passing moment of, damn, I wish I wasn’t here. I’m done. I’m over. I’m finished.

So yet another piece for you is deciding that you want to be here.

It’s like I want to do this. Not do this meaning lose the weight. Forget about that. It’s deciding I want to be here. What I’d love for you to do, this is an assignment to consider, is… let me first ask you the question, does a number come to mind if I ask you how long you want to live until? If it’s up to you, I, Lee, would like to live until the age of…

Lee: I’ve never thought of a number. I don’t know, maybe 100.

Marc: Okay, so I want you to give that some thought. Give it more thought. And really play with it, really notice is it 100? Is it 101? Is it 80? Is it 86? But really feel into it. Honestly, it’s less about the number, and it’s more about starting to project into the future and look at how many years left you have on the planet. What’s your range? And then ask yourself what will make life worth living in that chunk of time? So if we did choose 100 for you, that’s 46 years.

Lee: That would make me almost exactly middle aged. That means I’ve got as much to go as I’ve done so far.

Marc: Bingo. So then the question is, how do you want to spend those 46 years? Who are you going to be? What do you want to do? What do you want to make happen? What is that 46 years for? What’s it for? And don’t answer that now. But that’s what I would love for you to really consider. You might not have an answer right away. This might be a question that you need to hold because losing weight so your body can be healthier, if indeed you are having repercussions of extra weight that’s affecting your body and affecting your health… so we could all agree that if something is affecting my health, like excess weight, then losing it is a damn good idea.

So I’m with you. But what I want to say is help, for a lot of people, is not enough. It’s not enough to inspire them or to motivate them. I don’t think for you, now you might prove me wrong, but I’m going to say this, and I want you to consider it.

I don’t think, if I had to bet money, that you being healthier is enough to motivate and inspire you to lose weight.

Lee: No. And in fact I can remember thinking something like that, of well, it wouldn’t matter if I physically felt better if I’m still going to emotionally feel the way I felt. This was years back. But I can remember at one point when I was undertaking a weight loss program kind of thinking about well, really, so what.

Marc: That’s why I’m asking you to consider these things because if I was getting paid $20 million right now to help you lose weight, permanently, to help you lose 150 to 180 pounds I get $20 million, and I have two years to do it, this is what I would do. I would start out with this kind of conversation. I would not put you on a diet right away. It’s not the first thing I would talk about because putting you on a diet without this other piece will be useless.

I can help you lose weight. Tons of people can help you lose weight. You could help you lose weight.

You’re going to gain it back because it’s not about the weight.

It is about you being here, you being alive on planet earth, you getting that this is a place I want to be, this is a life I want to be in. And I might not be comfortable. But I’m going to find my comfort zone as best as I can.

And there are challenging emotions to face. And you can do it. Now’s the time. You’ve probably been through worse than what you’re going to have to face in order to take this next step. So the threshold is you claiming that I want to be here. I want to be alive. And I want to step into my Kinghood. So right now, even though you’re 54, what I want to say to you is, my sense of you is, yeah, there’s a part of you that’s a 54-year-old guy, that’s raised a human being, that’s been married for years, that has a job, that gets stuff done and makes things happen. And there’s also this part of you that’s a little kid.

Lee: Oh, yeah, there are definitely little kid parts.

Marc: And that’s beautiful, by the way. May we always have that. And your little kid, a lot of times that little kid ain’t happy. That little kid’s a sad kid. That little kid is the kid that got moved all around for a little while. And that little kid was the kid that’s kind of living in this home with these parents who, they’re really sweet and loving but where am I? Where are my people? So you didn’t have the benefit of growing up comfortable in your own skin.

So consequently a part of us will always kind of pitch our tent in a place or two in life that we really didn’t get what we need.

So a part of us pitches our tent there. So there’s a part of you that’s going to be this little kid and a part of you that’s going to be adult Lee who gets stuff done. So the net result of that, and I’m going to talk more in archetypes for a moment right now, the net result of that is there’s a part of you that I’m going to guess, other than when you’re at work, for the most part you’re in your young prince mode. You’re in your uncertain prince.

For a boy, age zero to about 21 is young prince. Age 21 to 30 is slightly older prince. Age 30 to 40 is mature prince. 40 to 50 is king in training. So the prince is discovering himself. He’s figuring out who he is. Who am I in this world? What do I do? What do I want? What’s my relation to women, to men, to the world, to money? What do I do? Where do I fit in? It’s not easy to figure all that stuff out.

A king, on the other hand, knows who he is, knows what he’s about, knows who he serves, knows what his gifts are. Think of whatever great movies or books you’ve ever read where you saw an image of a good king. A king doesn’t sit on his throne going okay, guys, I’m really not sure, but do you love me? Am I okay who I am? If I lose 20 more pounds will you like me? Hey, look at me. I lost weight. Is this okay?

That’s not the king you want sitting on the throne ruling your kingdom. A king is okay if he’s not perfect. A king is okay if he’s got a couple of gray hairs. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that a king knows who he is. He sits in his power. And he’s answering to a higher authority. He’s answering to bigger principles. He’s answering to a bigger mission. He’s answering to something that’s more than himself. So I would love for you to discover what that is for you. And it might be what you’re already doing. But it just means doing it
from a different place.

And it would be very interesting for you to start to imagine into the future what your movie’s going to be in these next 46 years, living to be 100 or so, of the good king Lee. What’s he going to be like? See, if you take off the weight right now, or ten years ago or 20 years ago, you achieved the body of what you wanted. But you didn’t get the character of who you wanted to be. Many times we shift the body.

But our character doesn’t shift. And when that happens, nothing changes. This happens to women. It happens to men. People get plastic surgery. They look better. And they’re still uptight. And they’re still insecure.

And they still don’t love themselves because their character didn’t change.

They didn’t develop more self-awareness, more self love, more self-compassion, more confidence.

So to me, that’s the name of the game for you, is transitioning into being a king, asking yourself – here’s another journaling exercise – what would being a good king mean to me, meaning you. I leave. What’s a good king? How can I be a good king? How would I act? How would I conduct myself? What thoughts would I think?

From there, as you start to move into that place more and more, it will be a hell of a lot easier for you to then make the nutritional and dietary shifts to help your body find it’s natural weight. I am not interested in you losing weight. Let’s change the term. I am interested in you shape shifting into your natural weight. I don’t know, you don’t know, not a single human being knows, on this planet, what your natural weight is. We can guess. I can probably guess within 25 pounds what it is. That doesn’t matter, really. You’ll know when you get there.

Lee: Right.

Marc: It’s about your natural weight. It’s not about losing this something that’s not you. It’s about you gaining your life. It’s about you gaining your authority, your dignity, your self-love, charting a course for yourself, for now, best you can, you could change it but starting to chart a course of what a good king is for you. And from that place, you’re now trying to get rid of ugly pounds. You are being the best king that you can be. And a good king loves and respects and honors the people around him. A good king delivers his best gifts to the world at work, when you’re out at the supermarket. A good king takes care of himself, plain and simple. If you can’t take care of you, how are you going to take care of anybody else, really?

Lee: Right, yeah, that was the first lesson in lifeguard class.

Marc: Right.

Lee: You can’t help anybody else if you’re drowning.

Marc: Bingo. That’s a great analogy. I love that one. You have to have your head above water. You can’t have anything dragging you down under, not for very long.

So what I would like you to do at some point in the future is when you’re ready to go on the kind of nutritional program that’s going to be sustainable for you and bring you to your natural weight, I would love for you to get nutritional help. We don’t have enough time to map that out for you. But I would love to see you on, essentially, what would be a modified paleo diet, modified paleo, modified ancestral, which has healthy fat; it has healthy protein. We ain’t limiting you. I don’t want to put you on a diet – diet that’s a bunch of milkshakes and weight loss this. You don’t need that.

Lee: Yeah, and the last time that I was sort of eating in a way that felt good and that my body was really responding to well, was something like that. So it feels good when I eat that way.

Marc: Yeah, so I hit the nail on the head for that one because you’re confirming with your own bodily experience, which I trust as much, if not more, in this case, than my own belief in myself as an expert. If you concur, then great. We’re both on the same page here.

For you it’s also about focusing on quality.

When you think food, I want you to think quality. When you think food, I want you to think this is the real health insurance.

Your health insurance is not the money, the stupid amount of money, we have to pay in the United States of America to have health insurance. Excuse me for being pissed off for a moment about that craziness. That’s not your real health insurance. The real health insurance is the things that you and I and everybody that we know do every day.

Lee: Right.

Marc: To care or not for oneself and one’s body, that’s health insurance. How you feed yourself is health insurance. How you move your body is health insurance, how you sleep yourself, how you relax yourself, how you vacation yourself. All that stuff is health insurance. So I want you to start to see food as your beautiful friend. So I’ve got no problem with junk food. I just want junk food to be the occasional thing that you do.

Lee: Right.

Marc: And I want quality food to be the thing that you go for on a consistent basis. But it’s got to be food that tastes good to you. So if you’re the kind of guy that likes a good burger or likes a good steak, then great. Go for the best quality you can get. If you’re cooking it in the house, great. We’re getting free range meat, an animal that was raised as humanely as humanly possible, who ate real food, running around in the real outdoors, just the way our grandparents and great grandparents were doing it.

So I would love to steer you in that direction. Think high quality meats, high quality protein, high quality fat, and a lot of fiber, fiber meaning mostly vegetables. Not so much a crazy amount of fruit. People tend to lump fruits and vegetables into the same category, which is a bad misnomer. Fruits and vegetables are very different.

And what I got from you is you do have a little bit of a sensitivity to sugar. So that might be the kind of thing that triggers you. The more you are getting consistent protein, consistent fat, that’s how you’re going to sustain yourself. The more you start to slow down… do you know what slowing down is doing for you?

Slowing down is allowing you to be in your dignity and your authority and enjoy your meal.

On one level, that’s what it’s doing. On another level, it puts you in the optimum state of digestion, assimilation, and calorie burning. It puts you in the optimum state of your natural appetite. But I want you to focus more on when you’re eating. Yeah, it’s about slowing down. But it’s about you nourishing yourself. This is me taking time to take care of me.

And then how could you make that eating experience something that you can enjoy? You’re not always going to be able to do it. I get it. You’re running around here or there. But sometimes, even when we’re running around, we can create a dignified moment. I’ll stop the car if I’m eating in the car maybe. I’ll eat the food in the parking lot if I have to. Find a way to create dignity in the moment for yourself and start to live from that place in relationship to food and body. And it’ll gain momentum.

And there is no such thing as failure here.

If you take a step back, you’re not allowed to self-punish. You’re not allowed to go into blame and shame. You might. But nobody else is cheering you on in that way. I’m not sitting here going gee, Lee, you screwed up. I want you to feel so shameful about yourself. Imagine me sitting over here going great, you fell off the horse. Let’s get back on. Let’s just do it. Done. Forgiven. Forgive yourself fast, my friend. There’s not enough time in this life to spend too many hours, days, weeks, or years not forgiving ourselves.

Lee: Yeah, I realized with this coming back to work, I feel like I have no time to eat the way I feel like I should. And then I’ve also been trying to go to school. So I was supposed to start this semester. I was like you know what? I need to prioritize taking care of myself here because it does me no good to get these classes done in the next couple of years if I give myself a heart attack in the process. So it was kind of a really big step to say you know what? I’m important enough for school to wait. And I’ve got to figure out how to do this and take care of myself.

Marc: Beautiful. That’s the king in you who made that choice because that was a big choice.

Lee: Yeah.

Marc: There is every good reason, I’m sure, for you to go back to school, every good reason. And there are even more good reasons for you to take care of yourself first and, as you said, figure it out. And again, it’s not figuring it out from a place of I’m broken, because you’re not. It’s not figuring it out from a place of oh, I’m shameful. And as soon as I figure it out, I am more lovable. No, that part is done.

Lee: Right.

Marc: Okay.

No pound you lose will make you more lovable to you or anyone else.

What’s going to make you more lovable is you just getting wow, this is me. I’m good. I made it this far. Congratulations. Life has not been easy for you. And here you are.

Lee: Yeah.

Marc: All things considered, not so bad.

Lee: Yeah, one of the things you were talking about was not being broken. And I’ve had people say that before. It always felt stuck, though, because as an engineer, well if it’s not broken, you don’t fix it. And you’re talking about well, there’s nothing to fix. But the other thing – I don’t think you said it tonight but another recording you did – there are stories to be heard and lessons to be learned.

And I was like, “That’s it.” And as I started hearing these stories and realizing that these assumptions and beliefs that I picked up along the way and listening to these little boy parts, I realized that, well, in some cases it was just a misunderstanding because my six year old self didn’t have context for what it was experiencing.

So now we can sit and talk. As he’s telling me this story, I can explain it to him because there was nobody to explain it to him then. Or in some cases they got it right. It was like yeah, that was really true then. But you know what? It’s not true now. And so yeah, we can keep remembering that. But we don’t have to act on it because it’s not true now.

Marc: So I think you have a lot of good material to work with here. I wish I had more time. But you’ve heard from a nutritional standpoint, do some type of paleo or slightly modified paleo diet. I do not want you getting hung up on all the specifics.

You have to make it fun. You have to make it interesting. The moment you start to feel like, “Well, they said I should eat this, but I don’t really like it,” then don’t do it. There are so many things within that universe of healthy fat, healthy protein, quality food, high quality vegetables, all that stuff. There are so many good things you’ll enjoy in there.

Lee: Right.

Marc:

So it’s not about you limiting yourself. It’s you beginning to find a
natural and sustainable way to eat.

And it’s you just doing and learning the little things you could do during your day where you’re not being a little kid or the little boy, where the king in you is making decisions in the moment around okay, how am I going to nourish myself? What am I going to eat? I don’t have enough time. Can I slow down even though I don’t have enough time? Can I create more time for meals? How do I prioritize nourishing my body? What needs to shift? So those are the kinds of things that you have to start looking at so you gain a whole different sort of momentum.

Again, this is not about you losing weight. This is about you claiming your body and your life and claiming your future.

I want to be alive on this planet because… Here’s what I want to do. Here’s what this life is for. So when you start aiming your compass in that direction and asking yourself okay, what’s this next 46 years going to be, when you can start to feel a little bit good about that, you’re going to start to feel even better about taking care of your body because your body’s going to get you there. You must take care of the machine, the biological machine, to get you to that number, to get you to 100. You’ve just got to take care of it. And that’s not a moralism. That’s not a religious thing. It’s just the way it is.

Lee: Right.

Marc: You’re an engineer. You understand that. It’s just simple logic. So that’s a lot that we’ve been kind of bouncing back and forth. How are you feeling?

Lee: I feel pretty good. I kind of like the idea of being the king. And like you say, he’s got a lot to do to take care of himself and the others that are part of his kingdom. And so like you say, I think there’s a lot to work with there.

Marc: There is. There is. And I think that’s a good path for you to really hold in mind, that that’s everything for you.

Really think about that, about stepping into your Kinghood.

And every decision, every thought, every moment, when you find yourself being a little confused, a little bit like whoa, what’s going on here, I’m a little shaky, what would the king do? How would a king act? What decision or choice might the king in me make in this moment.

And you will create a momentum because that builds on itself. And because it’s natural, because it’s your natural archetype, if you try to do this at 23 and be a king, nothing’s going to work. But it’s your natural place now. So it’s going to create its own momentum. And it’s sort of invisible. It’s an invisible way, I think, that humans work. But I’ve found it to be very powerful and effective. And I just want to thank you for being a great sport and for being generous around sharing your story and being real and being honest and just being willing to kind of put yourself out there. And I have no doubt, my friend, there are a lot of people listening who will very much benefit and see themselves in your journey. And thank you.

Lee: Thank you.

Marc: Alright. And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast, always more to come, my friends. You take care.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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About The Author
Marc David
Founder

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.