The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 119: Weight Loss Surgery Didn’t Help. Now What?

Tired of dealing with obesity for most of his life, Kevin had weight loss surgery – but after three years, he had gained most of the weight back. He’d like to be 100 pounds lighter, but he feels stuck, and can’t seem to get himself motivated. In this fascinating session, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explains that sometimes, our extra weight really IS stuck energy. Marc helps Kevin see that in order to make his weight loss goals a reality, he might need to dive deep into his past to recover his inspiration. Once these missing pieces are in place, Kevin will finally be able to step into his manhood like never before and become the captain of his own ship – his body.


Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:

Marc: Welcome, everybody. I am Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we are here with the Psychology of Eating Podcast. And I am with Kevin today. Welcome, Kevin.

Kevin: Hey, how are you?

Marc: I am doing good. I am glad you’re doing this. And give me a moment so I can update new viewers and listeners about what’s happening. So if you are new to the podcast, here’s how it works. We’re going to be together for about an hour.

I have not yet met Kevin in person before. And we’re going to try to squeeze as many minutes as possible into one session and see if we can give some good advice and help move things along for you, Kevin, on whatever you want to work on. So I’m going to ask Kevin a bunch of questions. And hopefully, we will create a little bit of daylight.

If you could wave your magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this time together, what would the big win look like for you?

Kevin: I think the big win for me would like getting back on track with the weight loss. I had weight loss surgery about 3 years ago. And I lost a whole bunch of weight and then started gaining it back. And I find it difficult to create and maintain momentum in getting it back off again.

Marc: How much weight did you lose?

Kevin: I’d lost about 160 pounds with weight-loss surgery.

Marc: And how much came back on?

Kevin: Probably about 90 of that came back on.

Marc: And when did the surgery happen?

Kevin: December of 2013, so 3 years ago.

Marc: Three years ago. And at what period of time after that surgery did the weight come back on?

Kevin: Probably about little over a year. Maybe 15 months later.

Marc: Okay. And then the weight came back on but it stabilized at this particular amount now. Is that true?

Kevin: Right. I’m stable now. I’ve probably lost about 8 pounds since the highest of the regain. And that’s the stuff I have been learning with the course I’m taking.

Marc: So, in your ideal universe, how much would you like to lose right now? What feels reasonable and doable for you?

Kevin: Probably about 100 to 120 pounds. Right now I’m about 365. And I was down to 275.

Marc: Got it. And what inspired you to do the surgery? How did you get to that point where you said, okay, I’m doing this?

Kevin: I had spent many, many years as morbidly obese and not really able to do anything about it successfully. Every time I’d diet, I would gain it back. And I could lose 50 and gain back 60. And it got to the point where I was having lower back problems. And I went in for an injection. And both the orthopedic surgeon and anesthesiologist said, “This man’s not going to make it to 50 if he doesn’t get his diabetes under control.”

I had high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, it was starting diabetic neuropathy from that, which was affecting probably second level, where it was starting to affect my balance, so I was falling. I had a pulmonary embolism, 6 months before the surgery. So, I was not in a good place.

And I knew I had to do something about it.

And I just let everything pretty much get away from me, and my health completely.

So I went through a long battle with trying to get insurance to cover it. And finally got it covered. And my surgery date was December 28th because we had to get that done before the end of the year.

Marc: Got it. That was a brave move. Are you in relationship? Married? Single? Divorced?

Kevin: Relationship. I’m divorced. I was married for 10 years. I’ve been divorced for 17 years pretty much. So my kids are grown and doing well.

Marc: And the relationship you’re in now, how long has it been?

Kevin: Probably a couple of years. It’s more really like a best friendship than a love interest. But it’s a great companionship.

Marc: And if I would ask that person, who kind of knows you probably better than I do, if I said to that person, “So, why do you think Kevin has trouble with his weight?” What would your friend say? What do you imagine?

Kevin: Well, there was one thing back 2 years ago, when I went in for some lab work and the doctor said, “Your blood levels are all normal.” And kind of what I heard in my mind I think was, you’re okay. You’re done. You’ve gotten your health back. You’ve kicked diabetes and all those kinds of things.

And as I started spending more time with my friend, I started spending less time working out, and doing those things that I was more diligent with. It was a regimen that I was under.

And through conversations with her, I started realizing that I’m still just as much a slave to my relationship with food, being a weight loss surgery patient as I was when I was obese.

I’m just not as heavy. But it was still what do I eat? When do I eat? Got to work out. It wasn’t truly living my life at that point.

Marc: Understood. So, let’s go back before the weight loss surgery. And I’m not asking you for a right answer here. I’m just asking you, sort of trying to understand you, and what goes on in your mind. When you think to yourself, Kevin, I’ve had this challenge with weight for x number of years, why do you tell yourself that that challenge was there?

Kevin: I don’t know really. Well, I think part of it was just I was single and living alone, and I’ve always struggled with weight since probably in my early 20s. All growing up, I was told, you need to lose weight, blah, blah, blah. I look at pictures back when I was in high school, I don’t look like I’m super heavy or anything like that. But I was always wearing the husky sizes and things like that. And I was kind of told, you should be losing weight. You should weigh this. And I don’t know if I was rebelling against that as a child, and just eating things. I can remember hiding things and bad habits like that.

And then, when I got divorced, I sort of let myself go a little bit. And I didn’t have a scale, I didn’t step on a scale. I didn’t realize where I was with weight. And then one day I stepped on a scale, it was actually in a restroom at a sports bar. It was one of the ones where you put a quarter in, it tells your fortune and what you weigh.

And it said 401 pounds. I was like, whoa, where did that come from?

So it was a period of several years that all of a sudden I just kind of checked out pretty much. And then once I was there, that’s when the struggle started with NutriSystem and Atkins.

Marc: Sure. So sounds like that was a quarter well spent.

Kevin: Yeah.

Marc: Well, what was the fortune? Do you remember the fortune you got out of it?

Kevin: I have no idea.

Marc: Probably not that important.

Kevin: Probably, “You will lose weight.”

Marc: So, are your parents still alive?

Kevin: My biological father is not alive. But my mom separated when I was very young and remarried. And he legally adopted me. So, I call him dad. But, then they divorced years later. And they are both still alive. But, my biological father passed away.

Marc: When did he pass away, your biological dad?

Kevin: I think it was like 1990.

Marc: Were you in any kind of contact with him?

Kevin: Very little contact. I was kind of kept apart until I was like over 18 and then I had the option I could meet him and see him and develop a distant relationship. But it was kind of ask the questions, who are you and that kind of stuff.

Marc: So, by the way, I’m asking some personal questions here. You have all the power to not go there. And so no harm done. So just make sure you maintain your boundaries. But I might be poking around here.

So can you share why your dad was not allowed to be in contact with you?

Kevin: I think that was part of what my parents felt at the time was the best thing to do. In fact, my biological grandmother was the one that promoted, I think he should be adopted, so that I could grow up with the same last name as my brothers and sister. And this was back in 1970, around that era. And those were decisions that were not for me to make, but they made them. And so part of it was sign away the rights.

But later I learnt that he’d watch from afar and he kind of kept track of things I was doing because I still had maintained a relationship with my biological grandparents. So they are very much a part of my life.

Marc: So, if I was able to ask your biological dad, if he was around and I was able to ask him, “Why did this happen? How come you gave up the rights to really raise your son?” If he had one sentence, what would he say?

Kevin: I think what my grandmother told me was that she basically told me it was the right thing to do. And he listened to his mother. And did that.

Marc: Why was it the right thing to do? Give me a hardline reason.

Kevin: I personally don’t know that it was the right thing to do. But I guess she felt just in that era it was the right thing to do. And he had made mistakes I guess, and left my mom and I when I was very young. I don’t know why he did that. Or why he agreed to do that. Other than probably it was suggested strongly.

Marc: Do you personally—you don’t have to share this with me—but do you know what those mistakes were that he made?

Kevin: I don’t know exactly.

Marc: Do you wish to know.

Kevin: It would be nice to know. And some of them I think were financial mistakes and there was a lot of pressure I think, from my maternal grandmother that they should be in certain social circles and pressure to do more than the means that they had. So I think he maybe gambled or did some things that weren’t acceptable, I guess.

Marc: Yeah. Did he ever abuse you in any way?

Kevin: No, not that I know of.

Marc: And your adoptive father, so you said he’s still alive?

Kevin: Yes.

Marc: How’s your relationship with him?

Kevin: It’s distant at this point. As he’s gotten older, he’s gotten more grumpy. And he still lives back home in St. Louis. I’m in Dallas. And it’s just difficult sometimes to have a relationship and talk to him. He was never the warm, loving type. It was very strict and stern in the household for me and my siblings as well.

Marc: So it never really felt like dad?

Kevin: Right, yeah.

Marc: Interesting. So when did you leave your parents’ house for good? How old were you?

Kevin: About 22, 23.

Marc: And so leaving then going to school? Or just going out on your own?

Kevin: Well, I went to school when I was 18. Went away to school for a couple of years. Didn’t do really well, so came back home and finished my degree at home in St. Louis. And moved out when I met the woman who became my wife and we lived together while we were engaged. And then we married and spent 10 years together.

Marc: Got it.

So when you think of losing the weight, I get that there is a health component for sure. What else?

Are you motivated or inspired for any other reasons to lose weight? Or do you just think, I want to get my health in place?

Kevin: Well, primarily the health. But then also I’d like to be more active. I’d like to be able to do more things that the body is just not capable of doing at a heavier weight. I’d like to travel more and just be able to do more things and experience more things in my life that I’m just inhibited by being overweight.

Marc: Got it. I just want to jump back to your biological father for one second. Tell me how old you were when that kind of separation happened and he was no more directly in your life? You were how old?

Kevin: I believe I was maybe a year and a half when he left. And I don’t remember any contact with him as a young kid. And then my mom remarried when I was four and a half.

Marc: Got it. So at what point did you realize to yourself, at what point were you able to say to yourself, huh, Kevin, my biological dad ain’t in the picture. And, huh, that’s interesting. Like, when did you realize that I don’t have my dad here and dad is alive somewhere else?

Kevin: I’m sure it was after my mom had remarried and I was adopted. I knew that wasn’t my biological father. And there were probably 7, 8, 9 years old and growing up and wondering, what is my dad doing? I know he’s out there somewhere. And I’d see my grandparents all the time. I know that they are his parents, but just wondering.

I know there was a time in my life where it got probably around, I grew up Jewish, so right around my bar mitzvah, I kind of asked, could he be invited? And I was quickly told no. But it was just curiosity. And I was like, wouldn’t he want to see his son? So there was a whole discussion as to, well, he’s never been here anyway. So I hear one story from mom and maybe another story from my grandmother who’s passed away.

So the truth may never be known.

Marc: Got it. So you never got the straight story. I get the picture. How old is your mom now?

Kevin: Mom is 73.

Marc: Are you guys close?

Kevin: Relatively close.

Marc: And does she ever talk about your biological dad?

Kevin: No, not at all.

Marc: Got it, okay. Can I ask what kind of work you’re doing these days?

Kevin: I’m an accountant right now, currently.

Marc: Are you working with a firm or are you on your own?

Kevin: In government. Working for the City of Dallas.

Marc: Got it.

And when you think about the next 20, 30, 40 years on planet Earth, do you have a sense of what you want in this next kind of half of your life?

Kevin: Well, I realize I’m not really happy in the work that I do anymore. When I did lose 160 pounds and I was more active, it was very hard to sit still. I was very public about my weight loss journey. I developed a lot of followers through Facebook and social media and was quickly learning that the journey I had gone on for myself was one that inspired all kinds of other people to make changes in their lives. And people from facing anorexia issues, to wanting to quit smoking, to wanting to pick up running.

And it was very humbling to me. But it also felt like that was something that I needed more of. I felt like I had a calling to inspire and help other people do that. So hence I was looking for something in that direction. And found your eating psychology coaching program and I’m working towards doing something different with all that.

Marc: Got it. Good for you. If you were on your deathbed right now, other than weight loss, you’re on your deathbed, and I or somebody that you felt like answering, asked you the question, “So Kevin, what’s undone here? What remains unfinished that you wish you would have finished before the moment happens?” what do you think you might say?

Kevin: Wow. Tough question. I wish I would have seen more of the world, done more things, been closer with my parents, been closer with my children than I am. I know that I felt that the years that I spent being morbidly obese, I cheated my children of a more active father, somebody who, when they spent time with them.

And I was divorced for a lot of the years during that, that they would come over to my place and pop in a video or play in the computer or do something but it wasn’t the quality time that a father should spend. But we did our trips to Disney world and those were tough for me. But I did what I had to do. And I enjoyed it. But I wish I could get some of those years back with them. One of them is 24, the other one just turned 20.

Marc: Boys, girls? Male, female?

Kevin: One of each. My son is the oldest. And then my daughter.

Marc: And where are they geographically?

Kevin: My daughter lives with me now, strange living situation. But my son lives out in Lubbock, Texas where he went to college.

Marc: And are you close with your son at all?

Kevin: Yeah, we’re close. We talk several times a week.

Marc: Nice.

Anything else about the deathbed experience that comes to mind right now?

Kevin: Not really, I guess. I’m sure I wish deeper relationships with a lot more, and those kinds of things. The companionship that I have right now is wonderful. But I wish there was something more.

Marc: Understood. So I have some thoughts about you and your experience that I would love to share. And before I share those thoughts, I want to qualify where I am coming from around them. So where I’m coming from and sharing the thoughts is I’m trying to listen for what I think sort of hangs out as the root, kind of ground zero, of you and the extra weight. We’re not talking about the 20 extra pounds, 30 extra pounds, 40 or 50, we are talking about a lot of extra weight for you, that you’ve carried at different times.

So that’s an extreme. And people go to extremes in all different ways. So when I hear that level of extreme, in part what it tells me is that you have a damn good reason that’s equal and opposite to that extreme, as to why one would gain that much weight. So gaining a lot of weight is a strong reaction to something. It’s a strong reaction to something strong that you’ve experienced, to something big that you’ve experienced. That’s how I look at it. A 10-pound weight gain, a 20-pound weight gain, not as big, sorry to say. If somebody has the problem of they drink a little too much, that’s different from the person who’s drinking all day. So that’s an extreme reaction.

So I’m therefore listening for what I think is, where the true action is because there’s a level where we can talk about diet, we can talk about food, we could talk about, okay, what’s going to motivate you. But what I’ve heard is this problem’s been around for a while. You had the surgery. You lost a lot of weight. A chunk of it came back. You’re not happy with that. And you know that you took your foot off the gas. There’s a reason you took your foot off the gas. You’re not quite aware of it, is my guess.
It seems like the reason is, “Well, I got my blood test back and they said it was good. So I took my foot off the gas.” That’s the worldly reason. That’s a trigger, but it’s not the reason. It’s the reason we could turn to and maybe agree on, but it doesn’t go deep enough. Because you’re dealing with a powerful life issue, that when you handle it, you get back your power in a big way. So that’s the good news. It’s a powerful issue. And on the flip side of that, is a lot of power really. On the flip side is a ton of power.

So, I like to say that extra weight is potential energy.

It is just stored energy. I lived in Hawaii for a bunch of years. And Hawaiians have a whole different take on people who are different and have a lot of weight. Hawaiians will tell you that, and I’m talking about you can have an extremely obese Hawaiian and what Hawaiians will say is that person has a lot of mana.

Mana in Hawaiian means power. They don’t go, “You fat slob. You jerk. You idiot.” They go, “That person has a lot of power.” Interesting. Because I think they are noticing something that we don’t always notice because there is a lot of power there. And what happens is, a lot of time it is that power isn’t being expressed because it got waylaid into the weight.

So, what I’m trying to kind of tap into based on the questions is that I immediately went to your early life because extreme weight gains are often connected to extreme life experiences. And you had an extreme life experience called dad disappeared. I don’t care what anyone says or doesn’t say. That is intense. That is extremely intense. And I want to say something else. For a boy, it’s more intense when it’s the same sex parent. Now had this happened to a girl, would it still be intense? Absolutely. But if she lost her mother, it would have been more intense when it’s the same-sex parent because we are looking to model off of our same sex parent.

Parents are our first gods. Your father is your first model if you are a boy. Your mother is your first model is you’re a girl. It’s just what we do. We imprint in a very specific way off of the same-sex parent. You couldn’t quite do that. And you had this other dude, who showed up in the house. He’s another dude. He’s not the real deal.

And let’s thank him for taking this on. It takes a big person to adopt. And I’m not saying he did his job perfectly. But what I’m saying is he probably did the best he could. But more to the point, let’s put him to the side for a second, like thank him for doing that.

And you took a big wallop. And especially because it was masked in secrecy, you’ve never got real answers. So consequently, you’ve grown up with a big gap. Now, I’m going to suggest something. So this all comes out of my, I call them opinions, based on how my mind works, based on my experience in this field, the mind, the brain is very metaphoric. The soul is metaphoric. So on some level what you experienced was a very intense abandonment. That’s what the child experiences. It’s abandonment. Abandonment is a pure energy. Imagine if you got left in a little box on the street somewhere. That’s abandonment.

Our parents according to biology, are supposed to be there.

You’re supposed to wake up, and they are there. So when a parent disappears, and especially if it’s shrouded in mystery, you couldn’t quite give me answers, because you weren’t quite given answers. Other than like, yeah, we’re going to push that one aside. In fact we’re not going to do a direct hit.

So that sense of abandonment that you experienced, what happens that humans often do—and I’m saying humans because we all do this—we reproduce the wound in a metaphoric, symbolic way that happened to us, in order to learn how to heal it.

We will take the offense that was committed to us, in some way, shape, or form, and reproduce it.

So you were abandoned by your same sex parent, by your dad, you gaining a lot of weight is you abandoning your body. You abandon you because that’s what you were taught. You were given that model. Dad abandons you, okay, I abandon me. If you were given the model, dad is a stickler, dad is always on top of you, then you would be a stickler, you would be on top of yourself. If your model was, dad was this, this, this, then you’re going to follow that. Your model is dad disappeared.

In order for you to gain the amount of weight that you did, you had to just say adios to yourself in a certain way. I asked you the question, if you were on your deathbed, what would you say you regretted rather than weight. First thing you said, you tapped in right away. You said, “Wish I would have been there more for my kids.”

So in a weird way you enacted with your kids some of what was enacted upon you. You kind of weren’t there even though you were there. You did the best you could, under the circumstances. You did the best you could. I’ve got no doubts about that. But it’s a boatload of emotional pain and duress and trauma to the system for a young child, in this case, a young boy, to have that sense of abandonment and not know how to make sense of it. How old are you? Forty, 50?

Kevin: Fifty-one.

Marc: Looking pretty good for 51. So here you are as an adult. You still don’t have a freaking story. That annoys me, not because of you, because of what you were not given. So, here’s what I’m trying to say in all this my friend. I’m sorry I’m yakking away, and I’m going hard here. Let me just pause a moment. How are you doing, my friend?

Kevin: I’m good. I’m used to playing at a hard level. But I went through a program 2 years ago called Pathways. It was a Dr. Phil hard level experiential training that, everything played from a hard level. My whole philosophy, and even with Eating Psychology, it’s you’ve got to break somebody down before you can build them back up. So I become more direct, like you are. This is what I see. How does that ping you? And those kinds of things.

Marc: Understood. So I think, in my opinion, Kevin, this is ground zero for you. This is where the action is. And if it’s uncomfortable, it should be because it is.

And I personally believe that as you are able to digest this whole experience more, you will be able inhabit your body in a different way.

So part of this is, I’m not quite sure how to go about this.

I would love for you to give one last major effort to shake your mom a little bit. And I want you to get more story. I want you to get more facts. I want you to be able to look your mother in the eye and say, “Listen, I need to know some shit here. I need to know some details. I don’t want you to hold anything back. I want you to tell me the truth.”

It’s like, “Hey, no blame. I know you did the best you could, mom. I’m not asking you to admit anything. I’m not trying to put you on a corner. I just want information for my sake.” Because there is information that you need, I think. That will just round out the picture to help you metabolize this a little better.
The ultimate task to me that you need to do, such that you can shape-shift your body…See when you shape-shifted your body after the surgery, it didn’t hold because you were unable to hold it. You were not able to hold it.

You had the body shift but you did not have the full internal shift that you needed.

So to me the full internal shift happens when we do something with your dad, your biological dad. And we do something in the present that helps move your lack of good parenting forward.

My suggestion around that would look like this. Here’s kind of what I think is the road. The road is there is a place where we get stopped, a part of us gets stopped. The pause button gets pushed on that time of your life. So there is the part of you that’s that little kid who got abandoned. I was trying to ask you, “So when did you start to notice that your dad is not your dad and this is another guy?” So it was probably when new dad showed up. And maybe it really started hitting you 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, not so sure, but right around then, is when there is a part of you that got hurt and froze a little bit. And it’s that part that gains the weight.

So there’s different people that live inside of us.

So I’m talking to the adult Kevin, but I’m also as well engaged with the 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 year old Kevin who was living in this weird mystery and this weird abandonment. So we’ve got to get him caught up. We got to get him on the wagon. And we got to move him forward. The way you do that is you start becoming a better dad, A, a better dad to your children, whatever that means to you; and, B, most importantly a father to yourself.

This is the time to father you like your first dad couldn’t do it. And kind of like your second dad couldn’t do it. There’s no one else to do it right now but you. And what that means is a good father does not abandon his children. Plain and simple. A good dad does not abandon your children. So, it was hard for you to stay present for your children because you didn’t have a good model, my friend. And you did the best you could.

Kevin: I think there was a time in my life where, when we moved to Dallas, I’d already been divorced for 4 or 5 years. And my ex-wife had a tremendous job opportunity to move to Dallas and wanted to take the kids. So I decided there was no better choice than for me to just pick up everything, move to Dallas, too, because I had to be here. I wasn’t going to let that distance happen between me and my children.

Marc: Good for you. So you’ve taken steps to move in that direction. So now let’s point and shoot that good fathering energy towards you. And I would really love for you to kind of consider, noodle with, and if you’re the kind of guy that could journal, I would love for you to spend some reflective time, some honest time with yourself on what abandoning yourself means to you.

How do I actually abandon myself? How do I check out? How do I disappear from me?

I want you to look at how you do that on a daily basis. And we all do this. We all check out in different ways.

We check out for only one reason, and one reason alone, because it ain’t fun being in. So we check out. It ain’t fun being in, which means it ain’t comfortable. There’s something that hurts. There’s an emotion or a collection of emotions that we don’t know what to do with them. And likely, it’s a mixture of anger, sadness, rage, depression, apathy, all of it. You name it. So, rather than have to try to figure that all out, because it ain’t easy, we check out because leaving the body is a way to help the feelings. And it’s a way to not feel the feelings essentially.

So what I’m saying is that’s been a strategy of yours and that is a common strategy that we all do when it’s too uncomfortable for you to stay checked in. That’s really where the action is. It is less about what you eat. It is less about sticking to a diet. Sticking to a diet really doesn’t say what the task is. The task is not leaving yourself. The task is not disappearing on you, you not disappearing on you. So it’s, okay, Kevin, I’m standing by you. I’m being present with you. I’m not checking out.

And one of the ways we check out is we don’t notice the subtleties. So a lot of times, when people don’t notice the subtleties, they will notice, “I am extremely hungry,” or, “I am extremely full.” Those are extremes. People who are numbed out, oftentimes they have to go to a horror movie to feel something. They have to go to a movie that is so intense that it pulls their emotions out, because they are not feeling the subtleties.

We don’t feel subtleties because a part of us isn’t paying attention because a part of us is checking out. So I would love for you to become a master of subtlety. You already do this probably in the accounting realm. In order to be a decent accountant, man, you have to master the details, for goodness sakes. Talk about subtleties, all the little numbers, you have to notice all that stuff.

Kevin: I was just saying last week that sometimes when it comes to hunger and fullness, I don’t really see anything in the middle. I know when I’m really hungry and I know when I’m really full. But anything in the middle is just hard to feel and hard to register with me. So that kind of just hit home with what you just said.

Marc: Yeah, bingo, because that’s what happens when we have taken a painful hit. We often will go numb because go into a hospital, get a surgery, you better get numb. Otherwise it’s going to be too painful to get cut open. Emotional experiences that are painful will often cause us to numb. And when we numb, then the only experiences we can feel are extremes. You will feel extreme hunger, extreme fullness. And now is your time to start to feel the subtleties.

And the truth is when you start to feel somewhat hungry or somewhat full or a little hungry for this, or a lot hungry for that, when you start to feel the subtleties in food and in body, you will also start to notice other subtleties in your life, in terms of feelings. We don’t even know what they are going to be. But it’s you learning a different strategy. And those subtleties are all about what you’re feeling. They are about your emotions. And they are about bodily sensations. It is hard to feel and experience bodily sensations if we don’t want to be here.

So part of it for you as well, is to start to ask the question, what will it take for me to say, I want to be here and I want to do this. Not I want to do this, but I want to be here. There has to be a compelling reason for you to be here alive on planet Earth. Sometimes that compelling reason is just, I want to do this. I want to make my life work. I want to see if I can make it. I want to give it my best shot. That just might be your compelling reason.

It is not going to be easy because you will have to feel stuff that doesn’t feel good.

I’m just telling you from my experience with these kind of things. This is why any human will avoid anything because it’s too difficult to feel. And the truth is you can do it. The truth is you’ve probably gone through enough at this stage and I believe from what I’m getting about you and what I’ve experienced about you is that you want this and you’re trying to fill in some of the blanks here about, “Okay, but how?”

I am suggesting to you very strongly, this is how I think you’re going to get there. I think anything else that you try to do is not going to zero in on where the action really is until you start to integrate this father piece. Now, here’s what it is. People get afraid of psychology. Very simply I think psychology should be so simplified as best as humanly possible. We are creatures of unfoldment.

Developmental psychology is all about there are different stages of development.

We need different things during those stages. When we get to things that we need at various stages, we can successfully move on to the next stage. That’s called school, that’s called a career, that’s called any field of learning, including life. We need to graduate. And you need the right stuff in each phase. When we don’t get the right stuff in a certain phase in order to successfully graduate to the next phase, whatever the glitch happened in the system gets reproduced into that next level.

So the abandonment that you experienced that never quite healed for you, that your parents could not fix for you, the abandonment that you experienced got reproduced. And the way it got reproduced is you took it on yourself because that’s what humans do. You reproduced it in your system. I abandon myself. I abandon my body. And then, oh, my goodness, I do the best that I can, to get back in.

So now we’re doing a strategic strike. I don’t always do strategic strikes into the past. This is a time, honestly my friend I think we need to do a strategic strike. And really land there and get that this is about you kind of helping yourself become a man in a different way, truly helping yourself into manhood in a whole new way.

So you have raised 2 kids, you have gotten to this point. You’re here. You’re alive. You’ve worked hard. You’ve put out your best efforts. I wish you can coast right now. That would be nice. But I don’t know that any of us can to a great degree. If you can’t coast then you can’t coast. It just means there’s more work to do.
So, to me, this is you stepping into being a good father to yourself. I would love for you to do some journaling about what that actually means for you, if it does mean indeed anything to you.

How would you father yourself now, right now?

What ways can you internally, in how you talk to yourself, in how you treat yourself, in specific things that you do, how could you be a good father to you?

Hint: the best way you could be a father to you is to keep hanging by your side and not disappearing. In order for you to take your foot off the gas pedal of eating what you know you need to eat, there’s an abandonment that happens. There’s a checking out that happens. I want you to stay by yourself. You might decide, wait a second, I need to follow a different diet, one that has a little bit doable.

I want to make sure that diet you’re on is sustainable for you and it’s not super hard. And I want you to start to notice the little sensations around when you eat. And just start to feel the smaller details. How does this food feel in my body? Whoa, how did I get to the point where I was so ravenous? Whoa, how did I get to the point where I was so full?

While you’re eating I would love for you to stay awake as you can, because if you can stay as awake as you can, while you’re eating, that’s a huge victory.

Because you’re a smart guy and you’re going to start to notice things instantaneously. It’s hard to stay awake there because the body is a painful place to be if there’s pain from the past. So it’s about you learning simply to stay awake when it comes to food, when it comes to eating. Just stay mildly awake. Notice yourself. Notice your eating. Slow it down. Enjoy it. How are you doing so far?

Kevin: Good.

Marc: What’s landing in your system? Are there any ways that you’re taking some of what I’m saying and languaging it better for you? How is this landing in your system? And how would you, if any way, say it differently, so it’s more appropriate for you?

Kevin: It’s a direct hit with everything. Everything sounds logical. It sounds like it’s all making sense.

One of the things that I just started working on over last few weeks is trying to be more present in everything.

Religiously, I made a shift to Christianity about a year and a half ago. And one of the things I was telling people is that, I like going to church on Sunday because I feel grounded. I feel like I can go and it’s my opportunity to look back on the past week and see everything that I may have missed. And then I start asking myself this question, why do you miss it? Why do you miss the things that god’s doing in your life? And it’s because I’m not present.

So that’s just a mirror to my relationship with food and everything else, is that I’m going through the motions. I’m a passenger in my own car as I’m driving through life. And so I said if I could just work on being more present, being more aware. So I started 2 things. I started doing some breathing exercises, just being here, noticing sensations, all those kinds of things.

And then the second thing I started doing was I told myself anytime I’m about to put food in my mouth, I have to ask myself a question.

It can be any question, but it just requires thought instead of being numb. It brings you very present, right here, right now, what am I doing? It could be, does this contain gluten? Is this carbs? How many calories? I didn’t need to have an answer for it, but what it does is it just brings my thinking to present. It forces me to, at least for the first few bites, I know what I’m doing.

Marc: Kevin, beautiful. You are so on track there. I’m really happy for you that you’ve discovered that. I want to make it really clear. From my perspective—and I really mean this—you do not have a weight problem. Okay? Your weight may be a problem for you. But the problem is not the weight. The problem is at this point staying present to yourself and not checking out.

The problem of staying present and not checking out is related to a very challenging past, which was not your fault.

It is totally understandable that you would respond in this way to the past experience that you had. So what I’m trying to say is that, not guilty, you didn’t do anything wrong. There is nothing wrong with you.

You’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole that you found yourself in. Okay, it’s your hole. And we’re your friends. And let’s do what we can to help you get out. Because we’ve all got our own little hole that we’re navigating, so to speak. And yours looks like this, and mine looks like that. So the weight is a side effect of all that.

There is so much ridiculous, stupid weight hate in the world that is completely unfounded.

And the weight hate comes from the people’s own insecurities and just their own low consciousness around understanding another human being.

Anyway, in those moments that you’re training yourself to be present and to not check out, I want to see, consider adding in another little tool there, every once in awhile, which is, when you’re trying to stay present, and you’re talking to yourself, and you’re talking yourself into being here, a few times, say to yourself, how can I best father myself in this moment? What would the good father in me, the smart father stay to me?

And channel that smart father. You want to put it in religious terms? What would the father in heaven say in that moment who’s being a great father? What would Christ say if he was being a great father to you in that moment? So let that voice come through you because that’s the voice of a higher power. It’s the voice of a higher knowing. And it’s that father energy that you need. And you need to find it in yourself at this point because then when you can do that, then you can start to steer your own ship.

When we’re young and dad’s driving the car, dad’s driving the car. And dad’s driving the car because he’s present. If you and I are not present when we drive the car, there’s going to be some issues. So you’re present enough in your life to drive the car and get where you need to go and bring in the income and make sure things are working.

And now your next task is to get so good at being in the car—your body—and driving the car, being present to the nuances, red-light, green-light, here comes a car, here comes this, like all the little details of being in the car. The car is your body. You want to inhabit it. You want to be a man, your own man behind that wheel.

Step one is just be behind the wheel. And be attentive to that. And if you have to take baby steps on this for the next 2 years, so be it. Because as you take those baby steps…And you have to be a baby here. You have to be a beginner. You have to be generous enough with yourself to know, I am starting something that might not be easy, I might not be great at it. I’m great at other things, but not this. But I’m going to learn.

And if you’re willing to be a beginner here and take baby steps and celebrate the small victories, I am super confident that you will get where you need to go.

Because it feels to me like you’re gathering your resources right now and you’re making some good moves. You’re gathering your spiritual resources right now and that’s a great thing. Because oftentimes for many of us to make the shifts that we need to make in our life, some of us, many of us, need that spiritual, religious shift, opening, breakthrough, change, whatever the right words are for you. So you’re doing that for yourself. And I’m happy for you.

And now it’s about you giving yourself the gift of loving yourself enough to stand by yourself and to be present in the littlest ways, with food, with my body, with how I’m sitting.

And almost, Kevin, what I think for you is that you’re going to be inhabiting your body in a whole new way, for the first time.

Now, I will say the same thing for me. I’m inhabiting my body in a whole different way I’ve inhabited my body in the past. But I’m a new me now. I know different things than I knew 5 years ago or a year ago, or 50 years ago. So we are always inhabiting our body in a different way for better or for worse.

And for you, I want to say that in a lot of ways, you’re kind of like a newborn. You’re kind of like born again. And you’re this young kid entering your body, going, okay, how do I make this work? So if you can be that and be willing to be that innocent and be willing to be that humble and know, “I’m like a little kid in this body. I’m learning how to feed myself. I’m learning how to be with this body in such a way that it can right-size itself. So I feel good. And I’m healthy, and I’ve got the life I want. And I’ve got the freedom I want,” that’s your right. That’s your inherent right.

It is totally doable. I promise you, it’s totally doable. And it takes baby steps, baby steps, baby steps, baby steps, to get there. There is no overnight hit after this. There is no more big surgery. There is no more lottery ticket after this.

This is about you doing the baby steps to help you get where you need to go.

Kevin: Sounds good.

Marc: I think it sounds good. So are you the kind of guy that likes to journal, that sort of thing?

Kevin: I’m reluctant. Well, I don’t like my own handwriting. It’s hard to read it.

Marc: What will help you mull over some of the things we’re talking about, specifically mulling over what are the attributes for me of being a good father to myself? Like, how can you best play with that? Like, lying down in bed thinking about what does that look like for you?

Kevin: I think I can try and journal. Or at least maybe sit at the computer and journal about it that way. I have had discussions with my friend over when you type versus when you write. That you can get a lot deeper when you’re actually using your own handwriting. I think I’ve been more reluctant to do that because I’m reluctant to take a look at myself, at a deeper level. But I know it’s where you’ve got to go.

Marc: Yeah. It’s time my friend. It’s really time. Now is the time. You have the capabilities now. You have the wherewithal now. You’re at the right age where this is a stage of develop where you are ready to step into your manhood like never before. You’re not 20, you’re not 30, you’re not 40. Fifty is a whole different stage. So there’s a momentum that naturally built in.

But you have to—and I mean this—you have to take the throne. It doesn’t appear. It doesn’t happen magically. It’s like you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to ascend the throne. You have to walk up the steps to your big king seat at this point. And these are going to be baby steps. But this is to me how you do it.

So I’m just concerned that you stay on task with yourself. So I’m being a dad here right now. So this is me being a dad, saying, “Well, wait a second. We just talked about this stuff. How are you going to now implement?” So it’s either you journal, it’s either you write at the computer, it’s either you lie in bed at night and think about it, which is how I often do it. Or I do it in the shower. Or you go to your friend and say, “Listen, here’s my homework assignment, would you be my sounding board and keep me on task about really exploring this?” if that feels comfortable for you.

But I really want you to stay on task to notice what makes me a good father to myself. What makes me a good adult to myself? And what are the practical ways that I stand by myself when I start to notice myself checking out. If I was teaching a young boy how to drive, I would be a stickler about watching the road.

So you’ve got to be a stickler with yourself about watching the road, so to speak, which is your body, which is your sensations, which are all the little things. So I want you to figure out how you’re going to work this, after this conversation. So I’m going to leave that up to you. Fair? Final thoughts, feelings that you want to share about this experience, about what you’re thinking right now, anything that’s come into mind for you?

Kevin: I’m thinking all those avenues for journaling or the thought process could work in various times. I guess the question is, I guess it is acceptable to do several different methods of writing it out, working it out, and things like that. Yeah, it all rings true, hits home. It’s right what I needed to hear. And it’s a road. It’s a journey.

Marc: It is. And I think this road’s going to open up a lot for you. Whenever you look in the mirror from here on in, I would love for you to look at your weight as potential energy. This is what science says about weight. That extra weight, extra fat is stored energy. That’s what they say, stored energy. And I’m like, yes, I agree.

But it’s not just stored caloric energy. It’s stored mana. It’s stored power. This is your power that is, okay, it’s living in body tissue.

We want to get that power into your bloodstream. We want to get it in your mind, your heart, your spirit.

And in order to do that, you’ve just got to stay awake at the wheel with yourself. And it will naturally start to take care of itself.

So, those are my thoughts. Do me a favor, if there’s anything from this conversation that after we finish, at some point where you go, “Huh. What happened? What was he talking about? I don’t quite get that,” shoot me an email. Shoot me an email to the email you’ve been communicating with. And say, “Marc asked me to get this to him.” And it will get to me. And I don’t want you to feel in the dark or unclear about something that I mentioned or said. Or if you want some clarification, I’m more than happy to do that. Okay?

Kevin: Yeah, sounds good.

Marc: Kevin, I think you are a very brave man. I really mean that. To have this conversation publicly, to be at this, and working on this at this stage of the game, after taking a few hits and getting the surgery and then gaining some weight back.

And to see you still going after this one, you’ve got a bulldog in you.

And I really like that. And that’s very honorable and it’s a good kind of dog to have inside you. So I’m super appreciative of that. I really honor that. And take that energy and make it work in your favor. And I know on the other side, there’s going to be one powerful dude here.

Kevin: Yeah. I agree.

Marc: Alright. Thank you so much, my friend.

Kevin: Thank you.

Marc: And for everybody else listening, thanks for hanging in there with us. Thanks for being part of this conversation, part of this tribe. There will be lots more to come, my friends. You take care.

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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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.