The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 115: A Lifelong Struggle with Weight
Linda wants to lose 50 pounds, but feels like it might as well be 500. She continually criticizes herself for not being thin enough, smart enough, or lovable enough – for not being perfect. She’d like to break free of the cycle of self hate, but decades of dieting have not taken her where she eants to go. In this uplifting session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, helps Linda to see the ways she still thinks of herself as a disempowered, ignored little girl living in her parents’ house. Tune in as Marc coaches Linda toward owning her successes in life and embracing her authority as an adult so that she can finally begin to treat herself with love.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Welcome everyone. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We are in the Psychology of Eating podcast once again. And I am with Linda today. Welcome, Linda.
Linda: Hi. Thanks you for having me.
Marc: I’m glad you’re here. Let me just take a moment and fill in viewers and listeners in case they’re new to the podcast. Here’s how it works. Linda and I haven’t met yet. And we’re going to a one-time session. And see if we can do as much work as we can in a small amount of time and say something useful to move Linda forward on her journey with food, with body, with health, with whatever we’re going to be talking about. And we’re going to go about an hour. And the idea is hopefully we’ll have some information, some openings, some insights, some breakthrough.
So Linda, if you could wave your magic wand and get anything you wanted from this session, what would that be for you?
Linda: Well, it would be to change—and this sounds cliché because it’s the name of your program—but to change my relationship with the food. I feel like I have this love-hate relationship. And every diet in the world hasn’t worked. So it’s come down to actually just change the relationship.
And what is it? What’s this relationship with food that you want to change?
Linda: Well, I want it to just be not such a love-hate relationship, not such an emotional part of my life. If I think of it as if it was a person-to-person relationship, I know it’s very abusive, but I keep going back to it.
Marc: So what does it look like, that you don’t want to be doing that you are doing? So love-hate, I’m not sure what that means. Like on the most practical level, do you overeat? Do you binge eat? Tell me the nitty-gritty of what it looks like.
Linda: Okay. Well, I do overeat. I’m a compulsive eater. If I see it, it’s in my mouth. I don’t care how full or hungry I might be. If I’m walking by it and it’s sitting there, it’s just automatic. I’ll just pop it in my mouth, for one. And then for two, I overeat. I don’t care how much I’ve put on my plate, I have to finish it. Even if it gets painful I finish it.
I don’t know why. I was not forced to eat as a child like some people finish everything on your plate, that never was my parents’ issue. In fact they always would tell me, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Why are you putting so much on your plate?” that kind of thing. And it just seems like it wasn’t so much as what I was eating, I just needed a lot of it.
Marc: And do you want to lose weight?
Linda: Yeah. I’d like to lose about 60 pounds.
Marc: And when was the last time you would have been 60 pounds less?
Linda: Probably in 1990.
Marc: 1990. So we’re talking a couple of years ago.
Marc: Okay. And have you tried dieting? Have you done anything to get to a 50, 60 pound weight-loss in that time?
Linda: Well, let me go back a little bit. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life, since childhood. And so I’ve been up and down the scale many, many times. So I’ve tried virtually every diet out there, I think, since I was about probably, I’m going to say, 9 years old, 10 years old.
It’s kind of funny because all my life I’ve seen myself as huge. And I remember myself as just huge. But if I look at home movies, I’m not huge. I’m a little overweight. I’m a chunky girl, but not huge. But my perception of myself has always been huge. So dieting and my weight loss has been a huge thing in my life. I’m consumed with it.
And sometimes I wonder what would my life be like if I hadn’t had this problem? What else would I be thinking about? What would my other problem be?
Marc: Right. So, are you married? Do you have kids?
Linda: Married, 3 kids.
Marc: How old are the kids?
Linda: Thirty-five, 33, and 18.
Marc: So in other words, you’re not in your 40s. I would have guessed 40s.
Marc: Fifty-seven? Good for you. So, tell me again how long you’ve been married.
Linda: We’ve been married since 1979. So I don’t know the math right now. But it’s been about 35 years, 36 years, something like that.
Marc: Yeah. How does your husband feel about your weight?
Linda: He wants me to be happy. He would probably be fine with me at this weight, if I were fine at this weight. And he likes to do a lot of things like, we go snowboarding. We go bike riding. But it’s such a struggle for me. I’ll go after a lot of, “Let’s go. We’re going to do this.” And he pretty much has to push me to do it. And I usually have a lot of fun. But the thoughts ahead of time to go out and do these things is very painful.
Marc: Painful in terms of actual physical pain?
Linda: No, I just hate to think of me in the clothes that I’ll have to wear to do these things. How am I going to look? I’m going to be the heaviest one there. Recently I quit exercising, but I was in really good shape to where I could do it, 70 mile bike ride. But I just didn’t look like I wanted to look to do it.
Marc: Got it. So when you sit around and imagine, gosh, where did this eating challenge come from—so this is a totally unfair question, or it’s a fair question. It’s not a right or wrong—why do you think this challenge started when you were young? Where did it come from?
Linda: That’s a good question. I’ve asked myself a lot of that. I’d love to get to the real root of it. And I feel like there might be a couple of roots. But I was the last child until I was about 9. And then my mother had another baby. And I had 2 older brothers who were, not so much like physically abusive, like hitting me, although that happened, but verbally, quite abusive to me.
And my little sister was the little doll of the family. And I became, I felt like the monster of the family. So sorry, this is such a subject, every time I talk about it, I get tears. And I hate it now because I feel I’m being just sort of pity party, “Poor me. Poor me. I got teased a lot. I got put down a lot.”
But it was pretty traumatic for me growing up. Because I think I’m just that kind of personality that takes things very, very internally and believe it.
If they told me I was ugly, fat, and stupid, then I was ugly, fat, and stupid because they were my big brothers and so they knew better than I did. And I looked up to them for their approval. And if I wasn’t getting it then I must be ugly, fat, and stupid.
So I think I started really overeating about that time. And even though I might have had some issues with food even as a younger child, which I don’t quite understand…My parents tell me when I was really young, I had a thing for butter. I would eat butter until I threw up. So I don’t know. I don’t really remember doing it. But they said I’d go around to the restaurants and pick up those little slabs of butter that they used to put in ice trays, and just eat it. I don’t know what that was all about.
But, anyway, I think my real issues with food became when I was growing up and my mom would work, and I would come home from school and take care of my little sister. And my brothers would be there. And I would just turn to food for comfort. I can remember just eating pretty much non-stop from the time I got back from school. And then my mom would be tired and she’d take us to a restaurant to eat. And I would get a full huge plate of chicken fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes, and a milk shake. Even though I’m already full from eating all day.
Marc: If you could describe your relationship with your mom when you were growing up in 2 sentences, what would you say?
Linda: Two sentences?
Marc: Describing your relationship with your mom when you were young.
Linda: She loved me with all her heart. And she worked hard to take care of me. Although—and this is more than two sentences—I remember her leaving to go to work, and I knew she was leaving me with my brothers. I would plead with her to stay. But it was out of her control, really. She had things she had to do.
My parents worked very, very hard. And we, as adults, have benefited from that greatly now. But at the time of growing up, I didn’t see my dad very much. And my mom and dad loved us tremendously. And they were really, really good parents. But they worked really, really hard.
Marc: So, are your parents still alive?
Linda: My father is. He’s 92.
Marc: Wow. Good for you. When did your mom pass?
Linda: In 2002.
Marc: Were you close?
Linda: Very close. I took care of her in her last days when she got unexpectedly ill. And I just love my mom. She was a person who would love unconditionally. She was just very, very, very sweet. So I can’t complain about my parents at all. I can’t say they were the cause.
I remember growing up my mother would say things like, “You might regret eating what you’re eating.” And my dad used to give me incentives to lose weight.
Like I’ll give you 30 bucks if you lose 30 pounds. I’ll give you a dog if you would lose some weight. And that’s I think why I thought I was so huge. Even though I look back on the pictures of myself and I wasn’t. I think I’m 5’ 9”. And then in 7th grade I probably weighed about 180. So I wasn’t really fat, I was just large.
Marc: Are your brothers still alive?
Linda: All my siblings are alive.
Marc: Are you in contact with your two older brothers?
Marc: How’s your relationships with them?
Linda: The one that gave me the worst grief growing up, the relationship is hugely better. It took me years, and years, and years. But I’ve really forgiven him and realized he was just a kind of a brat. And he’s apologized to me for the way he treated me growing up.
And then my other brother who most of the time would kind of stand and protect me in a lot of the incidences that would occur, as an adult he kind of attacked me and turned on me. And that really devastated me. And that was in recent years. And things between he and I now are not great, but not terrible. We’ll talk and I have also forgiven him again because I don’t like to hold grudges. I’m not that kind of a person.
And I don’t understand why he did what he did or said what he said fully. But I know he thought it was true at the time. And I actually went to some therapy for that because it really devastated me. I felt like he was probably trying to turn me against the family. And that was over money. It’s over inheritance money. And I just felt shocked. I didn’t think something like that would ever affect us. But anyway, so, on that level we’re doing okay. But I’ll probably never have the relationship I had with him again. I wouldn’t trust him 100%.
Marc: So forgive me for bouncing around here because I’m just trying to cover a lot of turf. And I really appreciate you answering so sweetly and so honestly. Let’s say next week the weight was gone, 60 pounds disappears. We’re able to push the button and it all happens. How would your life now be different? And you know those 60 pounds are off. And they are off for good. They are never coming back. Who is Linda now? Like, what’s the big payoff? What happens?
Linda: Well, it’s just the thought of it. It’s totally freeing. I just feel like the 60- pounds didn’t only came off my body, but it came off my heart, and my shoulders, and my brain. And I just feel freed out of a prison. And I feel like I would just have more confidence and want to go out and do more things, with my husband like I said before, quite active, quite social. I dread going to social events right now. And I feel like if I was the person who I’d like to be, I would be more agreeable and excited to go along with everything he likes to do.
So you would feel more confident to just be you, to show up in social situations, to go have fun with your husband, and just enjoy life together.
You wouldn’t be worried about what you’re looking like or worried about how you like, what you look like, and what you’re wearing. You’d be free.
Linda: I feel like it. I have been thin before. And I still had honestly, thought I had more and more to lose weight. So it’s probably more psychological than physical because I know people who are overweight have as much fun and are very, very confident, even with their weight. Logically I can look at that and say, yeah, I would probably still have a lot of the same issues. But you ask me how I would feel if in a week it was gone, I feel like that’s how I would feel.
Marc: Sure, I totally get it. That’s very honest and I appreciate that. So, before I asked you, you said the last time you weighed 60 pounds less was in 1990 or so. So have you lost some chunk of weight in between 1990 and today? Like, have you had a time when you lost 20 pounds or 30 pounds or whatever it is?
Linda: Well, real recently I would say was the biggest chunk I had lost about 25 pounds.
Marc: How did you do that?
Linda: I went to a nutritionist and had some blood work done and found out that I’m highly sensitive to wheat and dairy. So I cut that out of my diet. And I was eating very healthy and the weight really came off fairly easily. But then life kind of got busy again. And we started going on vacations in the summer. And slowly but surely I just started going back to my old eating patterns. And it’s not like if I eat bread I’m going to throw up and be in the bathroom all day. I have friends who are, who can’t have any dairy or any wheat because they are literally just so sick.
But if I eat it, it catches up with me later in my joints. And I get a lot of knee pain. And I do experience some stomach pain if I eat wheat almost immediately. But I just feel it’s kind of like a lifestyle that takes work. So I gained all my weight back, the 25 pounds that I had lost. And I get so angry with myself about it because I felt like I was on the right path. And then I just destroyed it for myself.
Marc: And you feel like you’re on the right path and you destroyed it because you went off the diet. That’s what you’re saying?
Linda: Went off that, yeah, that way of eating. Started reintroducing the breads, the pizzas.
Marc: So when was that point that you lost that 25 pounds? How long ago?
Linda: I would say it was about a year and a half ago.
Marc: Wow. One other question I want to ask you. What prompted your older brother to apologize to you for how he had treated you guys when you were growing up? How did that happen?
Linda: I think as he grew up as an adult and he looked back on it, he knows. There was no secret how he treated me. And he actually really is a sweet guy now to me. And he’s always trying to actually make up for it in ways. He’ll come over and hug me, “Love you sister,” and stuff like that. So I think he just felt bad. And he recognized it. And he just wanted to make it right.
Marc: That’s very sweet that he did that.
Linda: Yeah it really is. And so, like whenever we would watch home movies and I would see myself…And I had my own style. I’d wear crazy clothes and whatever. And people were teasing me as an adult as we were watching the movie. I couldn’t take it. I’d have to leave the room and I’d be crying and everything. But now that pain is a little less. And the fact that he’s apologized, I feel like I can have a better relationship with him now. Although the effects of what happened I don’t think have ever left me.
Marc: Got it. Okay, so Ms. Linda, I think I have a few ideas about you, life, how to kind of look at all this, how to think about this, how to maybe context this as you move into the future. So you said you’re 57. Wow. And you’ve been doing this since a young age. This has been a battle. And over here, when I hear that, I just, as your friend right now and as a person being your guide or your mentor in this moment, obviously my heart goes out to you.
You’re a smart woman. You’ve been successful in your life. When I say successful, you have a long-term marriage. You’ve raised kids. This stuff isn’t easy. My guess is in a lot of ways you’ve had a good life into your adult years. And here you are. There’s this piece that has been like a nagging, nagging part of the whole experience, which I get. It’s been pulling you down. And it’s been draining your energy. And this is what happens to people. This is often what happens to women, to men, is we get caught up in, “If I don’t look a certain way, if I don’t weigh a certain amount, sorry I can’t be happy. It’s just the way it is.”
So, I want to say a few things to help you unpack this a little bit. And part of me thinks that you’re the type of gal that, you need some information. You like to figure stuff out, which is great. I’m that kind of guy. I like to figure things out. So I get that you like to figure things out.
And I also see the part of you that feels stuck in all this. And right now my intention is to do whatever we can, to help create the feeling of wait a second, I don’t have to be stuck here. So I’m not sure how all that’s going to happen. But that’s kind of how I’m taking everything you’ve just said and just looking at my intentions here and what’s possible.
So I’m going to say a few things. And see how they land for you. The first thing I want to say…I don’t know if this is fully true, but I’m just going to postulate it. It feels like, based on what you’ve said, and based on your presentation, it feels like you’re a very forgiving person. And despite the fact that hey, childhood was rough in the places it was rough, you kind of forgave both your parents.
A lot of people hold their parents hostage until forever. You got their shortcomings. You got where they could have been better. And you’ve done your best as an adult to forgive them. You’ve done your best as an adult to forgive your older brother who came and apologized. It’s going to be hard for you to forgive the other brother or it’s going to be hard to go back to the same way it was, understandable circumstances.
All I’m trying to say is you’re a forgiving person. And the person that you forgive least is you.
Linda: Me, yeah. That’s true.
Marc: Right. But the funny thing about that is—maybe funny is not the right word—there’s actually no major offense that needs to be forgiven. That’s the bizarre thing about it. So right now, to me, I’m talking to a person who is just saying to herself, “I do not forgive you. You’re in prison. I’m holding you hostage. You’ve done something wrong.” You’re not doing that consciously. But you’re doing it. And for a very forgiving person such as yourself, we know you have the capability.
And there is this place inside you where you drop into, where you hold yourself as guilty. You hold yourself as unforgiven. I will say to you, intellectually easier said than done, but until you get that, a) not guilty, forgiven, and b) in the first place there’s no crime committed anyway. It would just be like you walking over to your best friend who’s never done anything to you and say, honey I forgive you. Like forgive you for what? Okay, so whatever. But there’s a place where you actually do need to forgive yourself for the offenses that you believe you have committed. That’s number one, first and foremost.
Here’s the challenge. Let me try to turbocharge quickly what I think the psychology is here, how the mind takes life, grabs on to it, creates beliefs about it, and then locks in patterns. The mind is very strong. As children we are brilliant observers. You were a brilliant observer as a kid. I was a brilliant observer. Poor interpreters are children.
Children do not interpret well.
Why? They’re not intellectually savvy. They are not worldly. They don’t really know what the hell is going on. They do their best. But the children watch. So you looked around. You watched as people beating up on you emotionally and verbally, they are telling you that you’re no good. You love these people. They apparently love you. Mother loves you. Father loves you. You know your brothers kind of love you. You look up to them because we do. We look up to the giants, to the big people that love us. And they were giving you love. But there is another place where they don’t love me because I’m not good enough. And if I was only good enough then I would really be lovable.
So to the child’s mind, the child grabs on to, “Well, they love me, but…I’m okay, but…Not really.” So the kid takes on, “Until I look a certain way…” Why? Because dad has given me these cues. Mom has given these cues. I’m getting these cues from the outside world. And on top of that, forget about the weight thing for a moment. What happens is, when there are challenges in life, as children we will often move to food as a symbolic place to try to work out those challenges.
So in other words, as a child if I can’t control my parents’ fighting, I might develop a habit where I constantly wash my hands. We can say, “Oh, my God, this poor person. This poor kid, he’s so obsessive. He washes his hands all the time.” Well, there’s actually a reason inside in psychology. And the reason is the psyche, the mind is trying to gain control. “Oh, my God, I can’t control this. I can’t control that. What can I control? I can control how clean my hands are. I can control my food.”
Why? Because I could say I don’t want to eat this. I don’t want to eat that. Or I’m just going to eat whatever I want. That’s control. If somebody tells you not to eat something and you eat it, that’s control. If, “Oh, every time I see food, I’m just going to eat it,” that’s you rebelling. “I don’t have to listen to your nonsense.”
So there’s a level where what you do with food these days—“I see food. I eat it. I overeat. I just go for it, and I haven’t any control,” that’s your rebellion. That’s the rebel in you who didn’t know how to express herself. The rebel in you is unconscious. It doesn’t know how to say when you’re a 7 year old or a 9 year old, “Wait a second, brothers, you can’t be mean.” The 7 year old or the 9 year old doesn’t know how to say, “Wait a second, this isn’t good. I don’t like that my parents are doing this. I don’t like that you adults are saying, ‘I don’t like this.’” Instead what happens is, we protest the best way we can.
And it is very common to use food as a place to work out our psychology. In this case for you it’s a combination of protest, just like, “Screw you all. I’m in control here. You can tell me I am fat. You can tell me I’m this. You can tell me I’m that. Look at this, I’m going to go eat. Look at this, I can do what I want.”
And then there’s another part of you that wants to actually try to really control it and try to lose the weight, so then you’ll all love me.
So go back and forth into those personas. Of first I’m going to rebel, then I’m going to try to be a good girl. I’m going to try to diet. I’m going to do what you say I should do. And if I’m a good enough girl, then you’re really going to love me. And I’m going to stick to this diet. So you have these warring parts of yourself. I think the rebel and the good girl in you are absolutely warring. They are not aware of each other. They don’t know that they live in the same house together.
And as an adult, those parts of you are still operating. And it’s time. It’s time for you to take this on in a whole different way. One of the ways you take this on in a whole different way, in my experience, particularly for a woman who is in her 50s, is you have to get loud and clear that this is your time now, that you are an adult. And you have to go head on—and I mean this—you have to go head on into looking at how you still live in your parents’ house.
Right now, the way your psyche is managing your life, it’s as if a part of you still lives with your parents and your brothers and your younger sister. And you’re this little girl who’s like, “Wow, younger sister, she’s the one that everybody adores. Ouch! So now all of a sudden now, I’m marginalized as woman. My older brothers are making fun of me. My parents are disapproving of my body. Nobody’s really seeing me. Nobody’s really getting me.” Nobody is really attending to your emotional needs.
So on some level, you really felt the love but on another level you weren’t purely gotten. So you were loved but you weren’t truly seen for who were you. Your parents couldn’t sit you down and go, “Whoa, Linda. Whoa, sweetheart, here’s what’s really going on for you.” I get it. They couldn’t drop in with you, is what I’m imagining.
Linda: It’s true.
Marc: And you are reproducing that whole environment now. You don’t drop in with you. You’re a loving person. You love yourself. You take care of yourself. You love your kids. You love your husband. You’re very unconditional, I’m going to guess, like your mother.
But also like your mother, you disappear on you. So oftentimes—oftentimes not always; this isn’t for everyone—many times a woman’s relationship with food tracks her relationship with her mother, woman’s relationship with food and body tracks her relationship with her mother.
So there’s a part of you that loves yourself. There’s a part of you that wants to take care of yourself. There’s a part of you that gets that there’s a baseline love. And there’s another part of you in relationship with your mother, where she couldn’t really be there for you. She couldn’t be a good woman role model so you felt empowered. So now you reproduce that. There are places that where you just don’t empower yourself. So there’s places that where you’re still that 7 year old and 9 year old little girl.
Linda: Yeah. I kind of feel like I’m still that girl.
Yeah. So here’s the thing. You’re not that girl. I know you feel like her. Okay? You’re not her.
And there’s the leap that you have to make. There’s the conscious daily leap that you have to make because what happens is, you will hypnotize yourself every day when you wake up thinking, I’m that 7 year old girl. I’m that girl who my parents were looking at my younger sister, my older brothers were doing this, I dropped through the middle, nobody really gave me what I want. And I’m kind of dazed and confused. And sort of, but I am an adult, and I have raised my kids, but now I look back on my life and I think, god I wasn’t that fat. I wasn’t that bad. I wasn’t that huge. Oh my goodness, I took on all these intense beliefs, which on the one hand, that’s where you’re not forgiving yourself in part.
And the two pieces here are you’ve got to forgive yourself for all of it, for anything, for whatever you’re imagining you’re guilty of. And it’s a feeling. It’s a feeling where you absolve yourself. You absolved your older brother. You have to do the same for yourself. And this is a self-initiation. So forgive me if I’m sounding very directive here, but I really want to deliver to you the things I feel strongly about for you so you can move forward.
What has you stuck I believe is holding yourself unforgiven when you know how to forgive. You’ve demonstrated it. You’ve done it in your life. And as important, if not more importantly, your belief that I’m still that little girl. Your whole operating system when you try to go lose weight, when you try to do stuff, is that little girl.
You’re a 57-year-old woman. You have raised children. You have been married for 35+ years. You’ve had a life. You’ve made stuff happen. You have every right to show up at a social situation and feel empowered about yourself, whatever you’re wearing. If you’re wearing nothing, you have a right to show up and feel like, here I am. But because of the history and because of the pattern, and because you haven’t known how to get out of it…And this is all of us. We often stay a certain age. A part of us stays a certain age where we didn’t kind of get to work things out.
So in order for you to become an adult, you have to self-initiate yourself, meaning you have to consciously take this on, meaning you have to use adult strategies, to become an adult in this area. A child’s strategy is, well, when I marry prince charming, then everything’s going to be great. A child’s strategy is, when I look like the perfect, beautiful princess, everything will be great. A child’s strategy is when I have the white picket fence and live happily ever after, then everything will be great.
So, you still have, “When I lose the weight it’s going to be okay.” You’ve got to take that off the table. I’m telling you right now. You must take it off the table because if you hold that out, I think you’re going to waste another 10 years until you figure that one out. Might you be able to lose the weight? Sure. The weight is not your issue. If you focus on the weight, then you’re focusing on the wrong target here. The focus has to be on you.
You’ve tried to lose weight all these years. You’ve tried. Hasn’t worked. Okay, you found a good way to lose weight. You found out, whoa, I’m a little sensitive to gluten and dairy. And if I go off that, I could lose 25 pounds. And then you went back. And so that proves to me that it’s not about the weight because you could have conceivably kept going.
So the weight is serving as a false promise right now. It’s a distraction. It feels true. Just as you’re looking back on your life and going, wow, when I look back at these young pictures, it wasn’t so bad. Forty years from now, you could do the same thing. You could look back on your life when you were 57, and go, “What the hell was I thinking?” So, that same thing would be possible. So what I’m saying is, you have to nip that in the bid. As much as I know, you’re believing to yourself, but wait a second.
And for everybody listening into this, humans, we can get a little bit lazy. And we can get a little bit sloppy sometimes. And we really believe that if I just had a $100 million, everything would be okay. If I just had oomph, everything’s going to be okay. And you’ve gone down that road of trying to lose it. And now what I’m saying is, you’ve got to give up trying to lose the weight first and foremost and focus on the real work, which is forgiving yourself, number one.
And number two, claiming you’re adult, claiming your inner adult and noticing when you wake up in the morning and you become that little girl. You literally have to catch yourself every single day, first thing in the morning, and say, today I’m going to be Linda, the queen. What does a queen do? A queen is royal. A queen is dignified. A queen sits on her throne. A queen says, “Here I am. This is my queendom. I love you all. I’m beneficent. I give my queendom good things.”
A queen doesn’t sit on her throne and go, “Do you love? Am I okay? Am I good enough everybody? Do I need to lose weight in order for you to all respect me and love me? Oh, yeah, I do. As soon as I lose weight, oh, I’ll be such a good queen.” If that’s what the queen was saying, nobody will follow her. Nobody would respect her. They wouldn’t listen. So that’s what you’re doing in your world. You’re setting that up as your silent queendom, that your self-worth, your worth as a person is about your weight. That’s the 7 year old in you talking.
You have to catch yourself when you’re in that dialogue. And what I’m saying is you have to invoke yourself into your queenhood. It is an effort. It is a willful practice. It is no different than saying today I’m going to make coffee. You have to open up the cabinet, get the coffee, put in the water, put in the this, put in the milk, whatever you do. You have to do the steps to make coffee. This is the same thing. You have to do the steps to affirm, “I am Linda the adult. I am Linda the queen. Here I am. How does a queen act? How does a queen conduct herself?”
You can go in circles for the rest of your life, trying to figure out why, how, who. And trying to figure out how to lose that 60 pounds so then you could feel like a good queen. Whereas when you are half-way there, you couldn’t make it all the way a year and a half ago because it’s the inner change that has to happen, for you. If the out change is going to happen first, it would have happened already. Are you with me?
Marc: So I’m speaking very direct and very deliberate because you’re not 20 years old and time is of the essence. We have to get very rigorous once we hit around 40. Ah, you’re in your 20s, you’ve got a little more time. Once you hit 50s, there’s no playing around here. We have to go right for where the action is.
Now, what I’m saying to you is that as you learn to forgive yourself for crimes that haven’t really been committed, just forgive. It’s okay. This is my life, this is the trajectory. This is what happened. It’s okay. Absolved. Imagine at your death bed, can you forgive yourself? Imagine you’re someone you love. Imagine you’re your mother. You forgave her. Do the same for you. It’s a gift you give yourself.
On top of that, it is willfully placing yourself into present time. You can go into psychotherapy. Traditional psychotherapy will be years. Nah. It doesn’t have to be that long. You can do this in less than a year. You could do this in months. You can make tremendous headway by placing yourself in present time. It will be hard for you because you’ll want to go beat that little girl again. And she’s going to go, “Wait a second. What about me?”
So, here’s another way to look at that. You become now your mother for that little girl in you. As soon as that little girl starts to act up a little bit, instead of squashing her down, you have a conversation with her. Big girl Linda says to little girl Linda, “Hey, it’s mommy talking. It’s good momma. Here’s what I need you to do. Here’s what I need you to understand. You’re beautiful, you’re wonderful. It’s okay. You don’t have to feel guilty. You don’t have to feel ashamed. You don’t have to go eat all these foods. Because guess what? You don’t have to rebel against anything. I love you. I’ve got your back. I’m taking care of you. I’m here for you.”
There’s a place where you’re beating up that little girl in you. You’re doing the same thing your environment did to you. You’re telling her, “You’re no good, you’re not okay as you are, you’ve got to change.” So you have to get that you live in your house now, not that house. You make the rules now in your house. You live with your husband, not with your father. You live with your husband, not with your mother. You live with your husband, not with your siblings that you grew up with. It’s a different world. You’ve got to get caught up.
So, let me pause for a moment. How is this landing for you? Because I’m just kind of going hard here.
Linda: I feel like you’re hitting it right on the head. The guilt thing kind of just floors me because like you said, what do I need to be forgiven of? And I don’t really know. But I do carry a lot of guilt all the time. I feel like I should be doing something that I’m not. Or I should have done this or I wake up in the morning with a heavy guilt on my mind. And I have to almost search my head, what is it that I’m feeling guilty about? And I guess I could just forgive myself just forgive myself. But I almost want to point it to something. Like what am I guilty of?
Marc: So let me help you out here for a second. Trying to point it at something makes perfect sense. It’s a logical strategy. It’s very logical. The challenge is the guilt doesn’t follow logical thinking. Right now that guilt is global. It will attach itself to anything. So you could say, okay, it’s guilt because I could have been thinner, I could have been this, I could have been that, oh the guilt is, oh I should have figured this out sooner. The guilt is I could have been a better this. You will find a million different things to attach that guilt to. Every time you figure out, oh, it’s this. It’s like this weird monster in a movie, it then grabs on to something else.
So the guilt is free-floating guilt. It will attach itself to anything. As soon as you give it a place, and give it a home, and give it a reason, it will pitch its’ tent somewhere else. So I want to say to you, it will be a futile exercise for you to wake up in the morning and go, “Oh, my God, I’m guilty. What am I guilty of?”
No, wake up in the morning and go, ha, here I am, waking up in guilt. Incorrect, that is not who I am.
Who I am is the following. I’m a woman who is doing my best. I’m a woman who’s had an amazing life. You have to learn how to acknowledge yourself. And you have to learn how to honor yourself. And you have to learn how to celebrate yourself. You don’t know how to do that. You’re buried in a hole thinking I haven’t gotten anywhere.
In your mind, the score is, the world 1,000, me 1 and you’ve got to catch up somehow because everybody has more points than you. That’s not true. You’re making that up, I’m telling you. It’s a made up thing. So you’re waking up feeling like, I’m so behind. Part of that is you didn’t learn when you were young, how to acknowledge yourself, how to celebrate yourself, how to go, oh, job well done. Oh, you’re a good person, Linda. Oh, that was really smart, Linda. Oh, you achieved something, Linda.
So what I would love for you to do and I really mean this.
I would love for you to start keeping a journal of Linda celebrating her life and her successes.
Every night before you go to bed, I would love for you to write down the littlest, the medium-est, and the biggest successes you could think of from that day and from your life.
If you got in the car and drove somewhere, that is a success. I mean it. If you had a decent breakfast, that’s a success. If you kissed your husband good morning, that’s a success. If you were able to be kind to yourself for 10 minutes without going into self-chatter and self-hate, that’s a success.
I would love to see you journal down my big successes in life. Raising kids, success. Long-term marriage, success. Whatever you’ve done with your work, whatever you’ve done with your relationships, whatever you’ve done with friends. There’s a lot of successes in there. You’re acting like your bank account is empty. Stop. So you have to turn that around. So it’s you teaching the 7-year-old girl in you how to have a little healthy ego here, how to celebrate her successes, how to feel good about herself.
It’s you teaching you how to feel good about you, in your own skin. Because you don’t feel good in your own skin, we have the believe—this is not just you; this is all of us or many of us—we are taught to believe, well if I’m not comfortable in my own skin, just let me change my skin. Let me change my look. Yeah, it might work for a few people.
But what you’ve discovered is until you change you, the outer you is not going to change.
So if I was getting paid $100 million to help you lose 60 pounds permanently and sustainably, meaning you don’t have to exercise 5 hours every day, and eat 500 calories every day. If I was getting paid untold millions of dollars to help you, this is what I would do. This is how I would go about getting my $100 million is I would look to make the inner change first and foremost because all the outer change activities that you’ve been doing, since 7 years old, hasn’t worked. So now we do something different. So this is about you doing something different.
So, again, some of the strategies you could do, is when you wake up in the morning, I want you first thing when you go into guilt, when you go into shame, I want you to actually not leave the bed until you agree with yourself, the queen is stepping out of this bed here. And today I’m going to have a day of royalty. And sure you might lapse into the old pattern, but you catch yourself. You learn to catch yourself.
So this is a practice, Linda. It’s not perfect. So, you’re going to be 5% successful, 10% successful. And you’ll get better and better at this. So you’re going to shorten the gap in terms of how long you hang out in life as this little girl living in her parents’ house with your brother bullying you, your sister getting all the little princess attention, and you falling into this black hole where you can’t feel good about yourself and nobody’s really getting you and seeing you. And you’re getting a little emotionally abused. And nobody is helping you.
So you’re not in that hole anymore. You have to let yourself know that every day. You have to affirm it.
It’s waking yourself out of hypnosis.
And it’s going, “Here’s me. Here’s how old I am. Here’s my husband. Here’s my house. Here’s where I live. Here’s my life. Here’s my accomplishments.”
Now, as you start to feel better about yourself, it will be easier to adopt a diet that supports you in where you want to go. You already have a very brilliant hint that a diet that is more free of common food allergens like wheat and like dairy, when you do that, do you have to do that 100%? No you could do it 90% and still get a great benefit. But you’re not going to be able to do that sustainably because if it’s coming from a place of, “I’m no good, I’m not enough, unless I do it perfectly, I’m screwed,” you won’t be successful. You’ll sabotage yourself. Because what really needs to happen is you need to step into your adulthood, I forgive myself.
So you can say — this could be a mantra for you — “I’m forgiven. I forgive myself.” You find the words that resonate for you. And if you have to say it silently 100 times a day, to give your mind the message, because previously, the message you gave your mind is, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. It’s a radio station you have playing 24×7. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to you.
It’s not fair to the rest of us because we need an empowered Linda to change the world here.
We need empowered humans who aren’t draining their energy on nonsense around food and body, who are using their energy to do good. So that’s what we need from you in your royal years, in your queen years, in your golden years, for you to step into your power.
So I’m just saying these are the strong baby steps how to do it, what I believe. There’s others. These are the ones I’m able to come up with right now based on this brief conversation. So any other thoughts, comments that you have to make, insights about anything we’ve been talking about?
Linda: Well, I feel like you really have a good insight, from what you gathered from what I said, it does seem to hit home very strongly. I guess just one real quick question. I don’t know quite how to phrase it. So, like if I try to empower myself and say what I want, I feel like I still get this, like from my husband maybe, like it’s become an argument because it’s not what he wanted.
I didn’t want to turn this into a marriage counselling session. But I feel like I don’t know how to get my point across without it seeming like I’m disagreeing with everything. But then I feel like I’m not empowered anymore. Like I’ve turned back into that little girl that doesn’t get to express herself.
Marc: So are you talking about any topic that you might get into arguments about with your husband, or a specific topic?
Linda: For me it feels like he has an opinion and I express mine and mine is different from him. It can’t just be my opinion. It has to be to him. It’s an argument. So, like I said, I don’t want to take your time up on something that’s not pertinent to what we’re dealing with here. But some of that causes me to have more guilt or more rebellion. Anyway, that might be a whole another session.
Marc: It is. But I’m going to say very briefly, there’s two pieces. There’s the one piece which is just the couples piece, the relationship piece, where you learn how to clean up communication. And you have to take your dialogue to a new level, make it more conscious and create an agreement with your husband that, “We have to agree to disagree sometimes. And I need you to respect me even though we are saying something different. Even though you say the Mets and I say the Yankees. It doesn’t mean I’m wrong.” So there has to be an agreement there. That would be very helpful.
Even if that never happens, your task regardless, is to not take it personally then. “Okay, so he’s going to be argumentative and be a jerk. Great, that’s his issue. He’s being an argumentative jerk”. Sometimes your husband can be an argumentative jerk. That’s him. Means nothing about you. So this is you educating yourself that means nothing about me.
This is in part your relationship with men. This is your relationship with your brothers and your dad formed your relationship with men or informs your relationship with men. And one of the things was, you had these 2 older brothers telling you what to do, telling you about life, being the older brothers. They popped out first. They know more than you do. And so you’re looking for men to be respectable and to be able to guide you. And guess what? They don’t do that so well all the time.
So instead of making it about me, and, “Oh, woe is me, and now I’m going to collapse and I’m going to rebel,” it’s like, no, you stay in your power and you don’t take it personally.
And it might mean you’re not agreeable. It might mean, “Honey, you’re being a jerk. Honey, here’s where I cross the line. You can’t insult me like that. Honey, you can’t use those words.” So this is you empowering yourself and not collapsing. And this is with husband, it’s with your thought process, it’s you have to start noticing where you collapse. It’s kind of what we’ve been talking about. There’s things that inspire you to go collapse. So this is you just catching yourself in those moments. That’s all.
Linda: Yeah, that sounds good. You’re right. I just quit taking this so personal because I think that’s what I’ve done all my life. Whatever anybody how they ever act or anything, I take it internally and form an opinion of myself through what they just said.
Marc: Right. So that’s what you’re turning around in this phase of your life. You’re literally reeducating yourself.
Linda: Yeah. It’s really good.
Marc: Yeah. So, Linda, thank you, thank you, thank you. That was a lot in a little bit of time. I really hope it was helpful. This doesn’t solve everything. But what I’ve done my best with you in this conversation is to kind of point out what I think the road is that you need to take to get where you want to go. To me, to get where you want to go is, the empowered woman that you know you are. And to get there you have to use different strategies than you’ve used in the past because your strategies haven’t got you there. And you have to change them.
So, to me, it’s not easy. If it was easy, you would have done it. So this hard work, but it’s the kind of hard work where the results and rewards are extremely forthcoming, meaning you put in the time and the energy, and results show up sooner than you think.
So, I’ve got confidence for you. I feel good about what lies ahead. And this is you becoming your own advocate and if you can get support around this, coaching around this, that would even be way more better. And I just wish you the best of luck.
Linda: Thank you very much. It was very good. I enjoyed it. And you are amazing. You brought out a lot of things that I believe you hit right on the head in a short period of time.
Marc: Great. I’m glad to hear it, Linda. Thanks for being a good sport. Thanks for being so open and willing to share your story because I know there’s pieces of it for all of us to benefit from because we’re all unique, we’re all different, and at the same time there are some interesting things that we share around food, and body, and life. So, this is a service for a lot of people. Thank you.
Linda: Thank you.
Marc: And thank you everybody for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David, on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. More to come, my friends. Take care.
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