The Psychology of Eating Podcast Episode 131: Bariatric Surgery Worked But She Still Thinks She’s Fat
As a child, Terrie learned to use food as a substitute for love. Throughout her life, she continued to overeat as a way of dealing with painful feelings and stress. She sought bariatric surgery when her weight led to a heart condition, and has kept off the 150 pounds she lost, but continues to struggle with obsessive thoughts about food and with feeling “fat” when her weight fluctuates even a little. Tune in as Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, offers Terry some surprising advice on how she can begin to reclaim a positive and joyful body image.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Terrie Wurzbacher Initial Podcast
Marc: Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. And we are in the Psychology of Eating Podcast. I am here today with Terrie. Welcome, Terrie.
Terrie: Welcome, Marc. Thank you very much for having me.
Marc: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad we’re doing this. And Terrie, let me just explain to viewers and listeners for a moment, who are new to the podcast. Here’s what we’re going to do. Terrie and I haven’t met before. And this is a session that we’re going to do. I’m going to try to do the impossible which is squeeze a bunch of months into one session, which is impossible. But the reality is how can we drill as deep as we can, in one encounter.
Sometimes when I’m working with a client, I always think to myself, what if this was the last session I ever gave on planet earth? I’d want it to be my best. I’d want to give my all. So that’s kind of how I look at this experience. How can we push the pedal to the metal, give you what you want. And we’re going to go about an hour. And hopefully this will be worth your while, Terrie, and worth everybody else’s while.
So, my question for you is, if you could wave your wonderful magic wand and get whatever you wanted from this time together, what would that be?
Terrie: I would like to stop obsessing about food and having it occupy probably now 80% of my thoughts.
Marc: Wow, that’s a good one. So, I’m going to guess you’re not alone on that one, for sure. Can I ask how old you are?
Terrie: Sure, 67
Marc: Sixty-seven. How long would you say this has been a part of your inner world?
Terrie: Sixty years.
Marc: Wow. That’s a couple of years on the planet.
Marc: Has there ever been a time in your life when you noticed, wow, I’m not so much obsessing about all this stuff?
Terrie: Probably when I was in medical school and I didn’t have enough time to pay attention to it. Or maybe even in my internship, but the rest of the time. Especially since I was in the Navy, and we always have to pass height and weight standards, and physical fitness was not an issue but the weight standards were. So that and when I was asleep probably are the only times when it wasn’t foremost on my mind.
Marc: Understood. So you’re retired now?
Terrie: Well, I’m retired from clinical medicine and from the Navy, but I work in the disability system for the department of defense. I did that the last 11 years with the Navy and the last 10 years I’ve been working as a civilian with the Army. So we do disability medicine.
Marc: And when you’re busy doing that, do the food thoughts still come into your mind?
Marc: And what might they be?
Like, give me some examples of the creepy thoughts or the unwanted thoughts that might enter your brain.
Terrie: Well, it’s a combination of food and then that I think that I’m so fat. I had a gastric bypass operation 5 years ago, which was quite successful. And I’ve been able to maintain the weight-loss. But that still is an obsession that I have is that if I eat something I’m going to gain weight. Or that I already have gained weight. Those are the things.
And then once I do that, it leads to well, I’d really like to have this or I’d like to have that. I’m fortunate in a sense, and I try to look at the positive in anything. I’ve had for the last year what’s called SIBO, the small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which has significantly limited what I can eat. So that’s a positive thing because I don’t want all the negative effects if I eat some of the bad carbohydrates or bad from the FODMAP diet. So that helps there.
And I don’t have as much of the thoughts about ice creams, which is what my biggest problem was before my surgery. I can’t have that anyway because you could get [inaudible 3:57]. But I don’t really have an obsession for that. And I really do like healthy foods now. And taking your course has really helped with that. But even for the past year and a half I’ve been into healthy foods, but I still think that if I eat anything, I’m just going to get fat.
Marc: That’s so fascinating. How much weight did you lose with the bariatric surgery?
Terrie: Hundred and fifty pounds.
Marc: So, how much do you weigh right now?
Terrie: It fluctuates between 115 and 120.
Marc: And what would you ideally weigh?
Terrie: Well, since I’ve been down to 110 with the SIBO and everything, I’d like to weigh between 110 and 115.
Marc: So, you kind of lost half of your total population of body tissue?
Terrie: Yes sir, I did.
Marc: That’s a pretty wild weight-loss experience. Just thinking about it for a second. So, I’ve never had that experience. I’ve observed it in others. But what I’m imagining is that is such a profound transformation. Whatever your experience is, the fact is to lose more than half of your body weight, how did that impact you? Like, what happened when you got down to this weight? Like, what was your experience having been bigger and then smaller?
Terrie: It was interesting. I don’t think it was as profound as some people have. I really haven’t told anybody. That’s the only hesitation I had about the podcast. Because people at work, you know how they talk and everything. And I successfully avoided questions without having to lie because I don’t want to do that either.
But my biggest transformation was what I was looking for, was I was able to run again. And I’ve been able now to do ultra-runs. I completed a 314 mile run this past summer because of that. So there’s been a lot of positives. It’s helped my self-image I think a bit. But obviously when I still have this obsession and think that I’m fat, there is a lot of the self-image problem still remaining.
We realize that bariatric surgery is just a tool and fortunately I’ve been able to adapt some other lifestyle changes such as the healthy eating, to help maintain it.
And obviously I love exercise. I always have. But there is these inner things that I’m sure kind of go back to my childhood, that are still in there and eating at me. Isn’t that an interesting analogy?
Marc: So, if you had to self-diagnose, why would you imagine that, wow, I still carry this kind of nagging fear, like oh my god, I’m going to gain the weight back. Like, where do you think that comes from?
Terrie: I don’t know and especially since taking your course last year, I’ve tried to figure that out. I imagine it goes back to everything that I’ve been taught when I was a child, which was, you’re fat, you’re fat, you’re fat, you’re fat. And that was pretty much my first memory and I know also that I ate to get my love.
That was my comfort food, was ice cream. And that wouldn’t abandon me. It wouldn’t yell at me. It was there for me. Granted it was a transient thing. But I couldn’t get that in any other part of my life. So I think I’ve probably just stayed in my childhood even though I’ve chronologically grown, but emotionally I probably am still way back there.
Marc: Join the club. We should all probably have a nice big sandbox that we play in, every once in awhile.
Terrie: Exactly, right.
Marc: So, was it more mom or was it more dad who had the kind of negative messages towards you?
Terrie: Well, they both had negative messages towards me but the weight was from my mother.
Marc: What would she say?
Terrie: You’re fat. Don’t eat that, you’re going to gain weight. You’re fat. And
it’s interesting, I was probably chubby as a child from looking back at pictures. But pictures from my high school and college, I wasn’t that fat. So I’m not sure where all that came from.
My mother was a depression era child and you always had to clean your plate because you might not have any more tomorrow that type of thing.
I’m sure that was ingrained in me. But I’m not positive why I had all of those messages given to me.
Marc: So, are your parents still alive?
Terrie: No. neither of them.
Marc: When did they pass?
Terrie: Twelve to fifteen years ago. Actually I’m sorry, it’s probably closer to 20.
Marc: Were you at all close with them in later years?
Terrie: Yes, I was very close with my mother. My father, I was okay with. But we’re German and there wasn’t that closeness there. But I was very close with my mother. I have a brother who’s still alive. But he kind of estranged himself from the family for 32 years up until 10 years ago. So it really was just my mother and I.
Marc: And did you ever talk about it with her?
Terrie: No, because I believed it. And she wasn’t alive when I started learning about any of your teaching. I just believed that I was fat and I think because I believed it, then I became fat.
Marc: If you could go back in time, and you had the superpower to kind of whisper in your mother’s ear, and teach her how to be a better mom, what would you have told her, if you were able to do that? Hey lady, here’s how to be a better mother to Terrie. What would that be like?
Terrie: I’m not sure I’m good at giving that advice. Fortunately I don’t have any children. But I think, not to be so critical. And to be supportive and that maybe I wasn’t as bad off as she thought. Because, this is funny, I’m from New York and so are all the people around me. But I had to do to speech lessons because I had a New York accent. Well, you can’t live in New York without having a New York accent. And then I had to wear a back brace because I was stooped over and probably that was a self-image thing too. And I had to wear special shoes.
All of these things were foremost in her mind and not paying attention to my accomplishments which were pretty good. As a child I was smart and athletic. But I’m not sure if this wasn’t something inside of her she was projecting. So I probably would tell her to come see you and find out what’s going on with Terrie.
Marc: But you did say, and I’m going to paraphrase, that you would have told her to be a little more kind and be a little more loving.
And celebrate the victories and not be so judgmental, which is really on one level, it’s just sort of almost common sense parenting. But the reality is, we’re humans. And nobody comes out of the womb with a parenting license or a parenting certificate. It’s kind of like driving a car. You have to pass a test. Nobody gets a test to have a baby and raise kids. If we did, first of all, who would give it, how would they assess us, but the reality is, there would probably be a few people who would have to study a little bit more.
Marc: So, you’re 67. Did you ever think to yourself how long you want to live?
Terrie: Not so much how long, but I’m not ready to go yet. I have some friends who are in their 80s. And that’s kind of what I’d like to aim for at least. But that’s only 13 years. So as you get older, you want to go even further. But I want to stay healthy, that’s the whole thing.
Marc: And healthy, just give me two sentences, what does healthy mean for you?
Terrie: Free of chronic illness and continuing to be able to move physically as well as think coherently.
Marc: So, how do you want to spend those years that you have left on planet earth?
Marc: Running? How about work-wise? You want to retire at some point?
Terrie: Yes, I would love to retire but unfortunately the lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed, I have to continue to work. My retirement pay from the Navy, I could live on that but I wouldn’t be as happy.
But really ultimately, I’d like to retire so that I could focus completely on my Psychology of Eating coaching.
And then of course run. But I can’t do everything at one time because I’ve recognized my limitations as I got older. I still need sleep more than I did before. So if I could retire, then I could focus on the coaching more.
Marc: Do you have anybody in your circle, like friends, who are overweight?
Marc: How do you see them, when you’re around a friend or somebody in your social circle who is overweight? Like, what conversation happens in your mind?
Terrie: It’s not so much my friends as it is when I’m observing other people. And if I see people who are overweight, I then start to worry that I’m going to get overweight again. Or if I see them having struggles walking or sitting, then I think, oh my god, I don’t want to get back there.
Marc: Got it. So, you’re 115ish now.
Terrie: Probably 118-120, yes sir.
Marc: So, how is your eating these days? How is your experience of eating? Like when you’re eating, do you enjoy food? Do you look forward to it? Like, if you were describing to me, here’s Terrie and her relationship with food.
Terrie: I love it. And I love it even more since I took your course. Because I learned to chew, and go slowly, and savor it. And it’s kind of interesting because a year ago was the first time I ever learned to cook. My first thanksgiving dinner was the first time I had cooked in, that would have been 66 years. And then, I did that for about 5 or 6 months and then I ended up having to have surgery, then I got the SIBO. So all this learning to cook, I’ve been restricted. But I love the food that I can eat which is like spinach, all the greens and fruit. And I look forward to it. And I know it’s healthy and it’s good for me. And I do have a good, loving relationship with it, which I’m very grateful. I would not have had that without your course.
Marc: Who diagnosed you with SIBO?
Terrie: Well, a couple of people. Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, I can’t pronounce her name. I don’t know if you know her. But Stephanie Jackson, they all work with more of the alternative and integrative medicine. And so I was very fortunate I have a pretty liberal GI doctor. And I went to him and he did a test and it was positive. So I’ve had a few courses of antibiotics. And a lot of that is related to the anatomical changes from my surgery.
Marc: Sure. Yeah, that will definitely impact things. How is your appetite?
Terrie: It’s great. It’s not fortunately as ravenous as it was before the surgery. And I think it’s even improved since the SIBO. But I do get hungry more. Some people say you should only eat 3 meals a day. I generally like to eat every couple of hours. I don’t know if that’s just a psychological thing. People say that’s not good for your blood sugar. But I don’t pig out the entire time. Fortunately I know how much to eat. And I eat small amounts, which I of course didn’t do before.
Marc: Do you have a dog? Do you have a cat? Do you have pets?
Terrie: Not anymore. I had two Siberian Huskies and the last one died two years ago, now. And I haven’t gotten another one because I like to travel to run and then I’d have to board it and that’s not fair to the dog.
Marc: Yeah. It’s like having a kid. So, how many small meals a day would you say you have?
Terrie: I have two decent meals I have right now with the SIBO, I’m restricted. I have spinach and chicken. And I have that for lunch and dinner. And then I’ll have some kind of fruit at mid-morning. And then sometimes mid-afternoon I’ll binge on spinach. I love baby spinach so that’s what I binge on. But sometimes I’ll have two little snacks of fruit and then I’ll have my lunch and dinner of the spinach and chicken.
Marc: So, if you didn’t have any more negative thoughts about your weight and if food wasn’t occupying approximately 85% of your airtime in terms of worry, where would that energy go? Because that’s a lot of brain power. That’s a lot of life force in there. What would you do with it?
Terrie: I think it’s a coping mechanism for me. I think if I occupy my thoughts 80-90% of the time, then I probably don’t have to go back and deal with any of the other emotions like, do I have enough friends? Am I good enough to have friends? People don’t like me, all of those things.
It’s much easier to just focus on the food because I’m used to that.
If I could get rid of that, then I think what it would do is, it would free me up. I have 2 or 3 books inside of me, 2 of which I’ve started. But then of course, I procrastinate and don’t finish because I’m not good enough. And don’t have anything to say is what I think. And I think if I could get rid of these thoughts, and all those worry, as you said, the energy, I could focus more on producing something that would help other people.
Marc: I like that answer.
Terrie: Good, I’m glad.
Marc: No, I’m just saying like, wow. It’s really what you said is, yes I would want to have, it sounds like more of a social connection. But you really want to kind of mine the depths of your own knowledge and share what you’ve learned.
Terrie: Yes sir.
Marc: But it’s easy to say no and stop if my brain is preoccupied with weight. But I’m not good. I’m too fat. I gain a few pounds. And then go down that tunnel. So that’s interesting. So, are there any particular times of the day that the thoughts are more prevalent than others?
Terrie: Well, this is kind of interesting too. It used to be, up until a few months ago, in the evening. And I’m sure that that’s related to being bored and lonely. I don’t feel lonely but I’m alone and I’m bored. So why don’t I do something about it? Well, then we get into that vicious circle.
But in the last couple of months, probably since I signed up for the podcast, I’ve had less of those thoughts in the evening. I’m less preoccupied with them. But it’s always been in the evening. I could go all the day long without any problems. But in the evening is when I don’t have as much to do. So that’s when I start to think like, oh, I’d like to have something to eat.
Marc: And so then, when you think that thought, I’d like to have something to eat, do you let yourself have something to eat? Like, what happens?
Terrie: It depends. Again, nowadays, it’s not as forceful as it was before. When it was forceful, I would have no control and I would go and I would eat whatever. Before my surgery, I would go get ice cream. I would always have ice cream. That was what I was. Since the surgery, unfortunately I can’t remember much up until last year. Now I know that I can have some of these cookies that I make myself, because they’re gluten-free and I use almond meal.
But again, I’m very surprised and happy that I don’t want to continue to eat them. In the past, like Lay’s potato chips, you can’t eat just one. Now, I’ll have a couple and that’s it. And I’m fine.
Or again I’ll go binge on my baby spinach.
And that will be fine. So I’m a lot better. I don’t know what has caused that. I’m not complaining. I’m happy about that though.
Marc: I get it. So, Terrie, I’ve got some thoughts.
Terrie: Okay, great.
Marc: And I would love to just kind of dialogue back and forth with them and I’m going to say first and foremost, this is a fascinating task that you face. And that a lot of us face, which is, how do I take this mind that has all this thinking and all this thoughts, and in particular, a lot of thoughts that get in my way, that I don’t like, that kind of pull me down, and that occupy my creative airtime. How do I sort of decommission them, to the greatest degree possible? That’s what you’re facing. If it was easy, you would have done this a long time ago.
One would expect, I go into surgery, I have successful bariatric surgery, I lose more than half of my body mass and I’m still a little bit haunted by the thoughts. So, to me, and I’m just going to sort of state the obvious, when that happens to us, what’s happening is, there’s a physical change, for sure, but there is not quite the inner change in character that would match that new physical form.
So there’s a place where the body that you’re in right now, it’s almost like you’re not in it. Like you’re in it, you go jogging, you go running, you feed, you take care of yourself. You do good things for yourself. I get that. I totally get it. And there’s another part of you that still lives in the other body.
So, on the one hand we want to get you into this body that you’re in right now, but really what we want to do is, we want to get you into the character of this body. And what I mean by that is, the old body, the bigger body, the fatter body, on one level. And I’m just kind of just talking out loud here and thinking out loud. The older body that you had, was one that you had to apologize for. It was one that you had to change to be lovable. It was one that was not acceptable to other people, particularly my mother who made that very abundantly clear.
And from all that, it’s easy for you to therefore drop into, wow, this body and other people accepting it, like that’s the biggie. That’s what I have to focus all my energy on. It doesn’t matter that you become a doctor, it doesn’t matter that you do some amazing things with your life.
What matters is, what you were taught young, which is, I’ve got to shape-shift this body, so you all could like me.
So, there’s the old little, kind of hanger-on’er. That’s what’s kind of hanging on. And it makes sense. It really does make sense that that happens to us. Because there is an inner shift that wants to happen.
So, what I want to say is that your surgery is on one level, it’s half successful. And that’s good. Like, I think that’s good because we’re halfway there. The half successful is, okay maybe a few complications from the surgery, but basically mission accomplished. Weight is down. You’re a tiny person.
Terrie: Thank you.
Marc: You’re tiny. So, I’m just giving you a little feedback here, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, we’re going to call that little tiny. You haven’t caught up to tiny. Tiny doesn’t make sense to you, I get it. It doesn’t make sense. You probably don’t even hear that.
Terrie: I hear it but it goes right through.
Marc: Yeah. I’m glad we could laugh at this. Because on the one hand, you’re too old for this nonsense. You really are. But on the other hand, here we are and we’ve got to deal with it. Because the fact is, nonsense does not discriminate via age. Nonsense thoughts and input from the world, from the culture, from the past, and it’s no blame. Who knows what your mother was raised with. Who knows what happened with her. So it’s not about blaming our parents. They did the best they can, based on where they were at.
So what I think is that there’s a part of you, understandably so, that wants to kind of fix this. And one of the ways that seems reasonable to fix this is to kind of go back into the past and figure out where to fix. Because clearly it began in the past. And that strategy can work for sure. So, to me that strategy sort of means like going into psychotherapy and just digging in. And you can do that and that can work. I’m a believer in that. And there’s other ways as well. There are other doorways to walk through.
So I’m going to suggest to you, if you told me, Marc, I hate that psychotherapy stuff. I don’t want to sit in a therapist’s office. It’s going to drive me crazy. Here’s what I would suggest, based on that hypothetical answer that I’m not even sure you would give me. What I would suggest that you do is, number one, to begin to notice the attributes of your ideal mother.
I asked you before, for a reason, hey, if you can go back in time and teach your mother how to be a better mother to you, what would you tell her? And it was all about a different way of speaking to you. It was all about kindness. I think you said the word acceptance. And you also said something to the effect of, hey, like, I’m doing some pretty other good things here, like whoa, let’s focus on that. Let’s focus on my accomplishments because the truth is, we’re human.
You and I are humans. And if people keep telling us what we do wrong, and what we’re not good at.
And they don’t focus on all the other places where we shine, we find ourselves feeling very small.
And from the place of feeling small, one of the things that human does is, one thing we could do is, we can let go of our body. We could leave our body. We could abandon it a little bit. And we can get fat, we can get bigger. I’m not saying that’s what everybody does. It’s probably in a strange way, your body validated them and what they had to say. So it kind of like validated like, okay, here it is. Because they seem to believe it and you seem to believe it. Which is understandable because that’s what you were taught. We are impressionable as children. And things get into the system.
So, I would love to see you start to, I’m going to use a little bit of a psychological term that certain schools of psychology uses, to start to re-parent yourself. Re-parent yourself means you become the mother for you that you didn’t have. Be more accepting. Speak more kindly about your accomplishments, and your value, and what you’ve done.
So your mother isn’t here to kind of excel and grow beyond where she was and say, honey, I’m on your team now. God, I was a bad mother. Cross that off the list. Do over. Let me do this a little bit better. That’s what the child in us wants. Whether we realize it or not.
The child in us wants a do-over. The child in us wants better parenting. A lot more love. A lot more unconditional love. None of the embarrassing nonsense that gets heaped on us about who we are, and how we look, and how we show up in the world. So, it’s now your job to do that for you, so I get that you’ve never been a mother before but now you have to be a mother. And you have it in you. We all have it in us to be a parent. You could mother yourself. You could father yourself. You could sister yourself. You could friend yourself. All of it. But I’m saying, you have to consciously take that role on.
It is no different than when you are in an environment where you’re a military officer, you assume a certain role. The same role that you’re in as a military officer, is very different than if you’re shopping in a supermarket. You’re a different person. You’re a different person when you’re hanging out with a friend. You’re different in different places.
So I’m asking you to assume a different role that you just kind of carry in your hip pocket. But it’s always there. And the role is, the good mother who is unconditionally loving, who doesn’t abandon you, who doesn’t insult you, who celebrates your victories. And who couldn’t care less if you gained a pound, lost a pound, I love you anyways. That’s a practice. It’s something you practice every day just like you practice medicine and you get better at it. Just as the first time you ran, you didn’t run 20 miles. You start out with whatever you can do. This is one of those adventures. By the time you are done with this, you will be an unbelievable parent to yourself. Nobody is going to ever notice it or see it except for you. But you’re going to be speaking kindly to you. You’re going to be catching yourself when you’re a bad mother.
So, part of it is, here’s another school of psychology that I know you know about, but I want to mention it, which is the school of understanding where certain theorists, practitioners look at the human psyche as kind of multifaceted.
So, we’re not a person. It’s not just you. Terrie, one person, it’s more like we are a crowd. We are a multitude of individuals. There is Terrie, the military officer. Terrie, the doctor. Terrie, the friend. Terrie, the eater. Terrie, the angry person. Terrie, the smart person. Terrie, the witch. Terrie, the teacher. There is so many of you in there. There’s Terrie, the child. There’s Terrie, the fat kid. There’s Terrie, the tiny lady.
And there’s all these different personas. And in any given time, any of them is kind of driving the boat.
And I would like to see the good mother in you start to drive a lot more. To start to sit behind the wheel. So this is you, I believe, digging a little deeper into yourself because this is a pattern that’s been running itself for a while. So I’m just suggesting to you a tool that I know chips away at this in a very deliberate way. Because you’re giving yourself the thing that you didn’t get.
And that is one of the ways we heal for goodness sake. If you had a nutritional deficiency, how do we heal? By giving you the thing that you didn’t get, that you were deficient in. And all of a sudden the body shifts. So you were deficient in positive regard, unconditional love, and positive words, when it comes to your embodied self, your physical form. You were deficient in that. Not your fault. So now you’re contending with the repercussions of that.
And I love that you’re 67 and you’re going after this. And you kind of have to be a bull dog a little bit. You kind of have to sniff this out and you’ve got to keep tracking it down. And you notice it. You know how dogs are? Something comes up in the environment, they’re barking. They could hear their own noise and they bark at it thinking it’s something else. But it’s that state of vigilance where you’re watch your mind. Where you watch the insult come up and you step in as the parent. And you go, no. and you speak a different language to yourself. So, that to me is step one. That’s happens in the inner you, in your inner world.
And what may help you, I don’t know if this is the kind of thing that helps you, but what may help you is to just do some journaling and write down what would, if I’m invoking my good internal mother, what would she be like? How would she speak? What would she say?
So actually begin to write down words.
In fact you could be even a little more playful and write a letter from your mother to you, your actual mother.
As if she was speaking to you from the beyond but she is now the perfect mother. She has learnt her lessons. She’s been to school. She’s wizened up. And now she’s like, oh damn, I got it now. And from that place she could write a letter to you, what would she say to you?
Terrie: It’s a good idea.
Terrie: Yes sir.
Marc: So, give that a try. It’s very useful. And this is all about changing our emotional metabolism a little bit. And the challenge for us, linear or scientific types is that it could sound a little spacy, or woo-woo or airy fairy. But it’s really learning how to dialogue with the content of our mind.
Because the truth is, the mind is wreaking havoc on us, unless we attend to it and learn how to address it on its own terms. The mind is a set of processes that left unchecked will do whatever the heck it wants to do. And oftentimes will wreak havoc until you leash it. So this like you having an unruly dog. And you’re learning how to leash it. It’s a practice.
So, here’s the other piece. I asked you, if you didn’t have all this food stuff going on, and 80% of your airtime wasn’t going into the worry, what would you do? And one of the places you immediately went to was around your creativity. And you went to pouring your content of your experience and your brain, into writing and into books. But then I go into, well, I’m not worth anything. That’s the old you. That’s the you that lives in the fat body that everybody was hating on. So you’re not that person anymore. You’re literally not that person and this is you, kind of starting to land in your new body. And it would be really interesting for you, okay a couple of things.
So first, I would love to see you put first things first. First things first is not I get rid of all this mind talk and then I go creative. And then I unleash my brainpower on the world. It’s the opposite.
It’s I unleash my brainpower on the world and then we let the chips fall where they may.
Might the inner noise get in your way a little bit? Sure.
The truth is, if you had the perfect relationship with food, and you were a writer, or you were trying to write, other nonsense would get in your head. I’ve written 2 books, I’m working on my third, and I still have to deal with nonsense in my head.
So, there’s always going to be whatever, the mind chatter. What I’m saying is, now is your time. Now is your time. This is it. There’s no future. This is it. Now is the time. I would love to see you start scripting out those books. Write some outlines. Choose one that you’re going to write. Write them both at the same time. Doesn’t even matter. It’s up to your creative self. But it feels like this is your time.
And this is going to sound weird but what it feels like to me is that this is your time to give birth to 2 things. Number one you’re giving birth to the new you. And it is a birthing process because you’ve been for 67 years in this particular identity. Humans change, we change. I think you’re birthing into a new identity. You want to. You definitely want to.
So I’m saying, it’s happening. In my observation it’s happening because we’re in this conversation. I experience your earnestness and your desire. So that to me means, it is happening. Maybe not as fast as you like. Maybe not as easy as we like. If it was easy, we would be done. So, to me it’s happening and you’re doing it.
So you’re birthing the new you. But you’re also birthing something that’s not you, it’s your gift. It’s your baby. It’s your experience. It’s your knowledge. You pick your audience in your mind and you talk to them. And do not underestimate your experience because you have a lot of it.
If possible, I would love to see you have someone in your life, be it a friend, or ideally a professional who could just be a coach for you, and their job is to cheerlead you on.
I would love to see you have a cheerleader. And that’s something you could even advertise for, and say, I want to do an exchange for someone.
Terrie: That’s true, yeah.
Marc: If it’s a money issue, it’s like, hey, I want somebody who thinks that they could be a great creativity coach for me, be my cheerleader. I’m in the process of writing my book and I want somebody I can call up whenever I feel a block, whenever I need a little pep talk. That’s it. You need somebody standing on the sidelines cheering you on, simple as that. It’s really not that complicated because I’m concerned for you that you’re self-sufficient to a fault.
Terrie: Yeah, very much so. I don’t like to ask for help.
Marc: Yeah, I get it. And that’s a beautiful thing. And it also will hold us back in certain ways. So I was that guy so I understand where you’re coming from. And once again, this is you birthing a new you.
Terrie: And that is kind of why I am proud that I was willing to step forward and ask to be on the podcast. That took a lot of courage for me.
Marc: I’m so glad you did that. I really am. And to me, you are a beautiful, shining example of what a human being can look like when they start to get into their golden ears and they ain’t slowing down. They’re not stopping. They’re not stopping growing. They’re not stopping working on themselves. And they’re not stopping life. Like, you’re still living your life. And that’s amazing. That’s absolutely amazing. So, this is how we, the collective we, stay young, is we keep learning.
And what I’m asking you to consider learning here, is learning how to ask for support, learning how to ask for help. And if you need to be creative about that, then be creative about it. This was a creative way to ask for help, hey, yeah, let me throw my application in there.
And great, reach out, you might know people already, who you think, wow, this could be a good coach for me, a good cheerleader for me, somebody I could do an exchange with, however it works for you. Whatever it is, I would love to see you have that kind of support simply because, now and moving forward, I believe you need community more. You need more community.
Terrie: Yes, right.
Marc: and you need more people like you. I mean it.
You need people who are happy to be creative, happy to be supportive, and happy to grow, and who are caring, and who are kind.
And there’s tons of them out there. Don’t let the news fool you. There are so many good people out there. And, sometimes we just have to make the choice to say, I want that. And I will start to make little steps to create that for myself.
And notice how we’re not so much focusing on the food. Because honestly, if I had the next 6 months to work with you and we were meeting once a week, I probably wouldn’t talk that much about food with you, literally. Here’s what I would say about food for you. I like the fact that you’re eating a number of small meals, that works.
For your condition, for the surgery you’ve had done on your body, my experience is that it is good to tune into your body. And oftentimes, for different people, different experiences, especially with bariatric surgery, give your digestive system food in chunks that it can handle. And you just have to be responsive to it and receptive to what your body is telling you. To me right now, your body is telling you, hey, small amounts of food, high quality, here’s a specific diet that you need right now, so you’re following that. So, that’s great. And yeah, does your mind go into, oh my god, I’m going to gain the weight back, I’m going to get fat, that’s the old you.
Instead of going back in time and fixing the old you, I want to get in present time and move forward and become the new you. As you become the new you, the old you will lose steam. It’s just going to starve because you ain’t feeding it. You feed the old you when you go, oh my goodness, I gained a pound. I gained 2 pounds. I’m going to get fat. This is what’s going to happen. I’m no good. I can’t create. I can’t be the person I want to be. And, then you drop into that old place that’s very familiar.
Terrie: Yeah, it’s comfortable, yeah.
Marc: It is comfortable. That’s what’s so weird to me about life. Even though we don’t want those habits, they’re comfortable. So we’ve got to make ourselves uncomfortable. But the way I’m asking you to be uncomfortable is, to start to become your own best parent internally, and speak to yourself. Practice speaking to yourself every day, especially at night.
I want to see you as soon as the Ghoulies start to come in. I want you to sit on the couch, play some nice music, and find a way to talk to yourself. That would be the same way that you talk to somebody that came to you in a panic and said, Terrie, help. I just need somebody to help. Just give me some loving attention. And tell me that I’m not this horrible person that I’m thinking I am. In those moments, that’s how you need to mother yourself.
So that’s one place to step out of your comfort zone.
Next place is to start to take on your creative projects now. Start to take that on now.
Absolutely 100%. And in an ideal universe, have somebody who can coach you in that realm or cheerlead you, and help keep you on task. So set goals. Okay, what are we writing this week? Are we going to write 5 pages? Are we going to write an outline? Like, what are we going to be doing? And then you report at the end of the week. Here’s what I did. Here’s what I’ve done. Let me read it to you. Or read this to me and tell me what you think. However you want to do it. Make it up, invent it. That is all about you starting to gather support for yourself.
I would love to see this next phase of your life be Terrie’s social phase. I mean that. There are meet-up groups. There are people who are lively and connected and they want to engage. And we get isolated. Especially if we’re good at it. So, you’re good at that. Congratulations. And now is the time to branch out more. Because I think also, Terrie, what that’s going to do, is it’s going to start to prove to you that there’s people who accept you, and enjoy you, and even love you for who you are. They could care less how much you weight. They can care less how much you weighed. They can care less how much you’re going to weigh. They don’t care. They care about you. I’m sitting here thinking, if you gain 50 more pounds, I get that you would be upset, it wouldn’t change my feelings. It wouldn’t change my level of respect. It wouldn’t change how I see you. And what I want to suggest is that it ought not change how you see you.
If you believed that you would stand by you even if you gained 10 pounds, you wouldn’t worry so much. In a weird way, the fear is, the more I weigh, the more alone I’m going to be. I think that’s part of the deeper fear. Because clearly you got isolated. You were put into isolation, sort of energetically, emotionally, when momma was judging, wow, she’s gaining weight. And you took that on. You isolated yourself in a weird way. It’s like, okay, I’ve got to be more alone in my space. Because then you can control it more and keep the bad guys out.
And what I want to say is, it’s time to do it completely different. And the risk is, letting people in. it’s a risk. And it’s a beautiful risk. There is none better than letting people into your life in a whole new way. And letting the love in. and letting the love out. It’s just kind of circulating it in both directions. And it’s kind of overcoming your dramatic upbringing, you know what I’m saying?
Marc: It’s overcoming that. It’s kind of transcending that a little bit. And you have all the tools, I believe, to do it. I really feel that way. So, just give me a sense. I’ve been yakking at you a lot. How is all this landing for you?
Terrie: It makes a lot of sense. And the hardest part is, what you say, the last part, the social part. But I think I can, especially the re-parenting, that will be difficult but you’ve given me some ideas so I think I can do that. And I think that will be very helpful. The creativity, I know you always say, you don’t say well, what am I going to be like when I lose 50 pounds, do it now. So I just need to follow the advice that you’ve given. The social part is something that I’m going to have to work on. But I am more social even than what I was before. I just need to get out more.
Marc: Yeah. I think that’s so important. Because once you have that connection, it’s going to fuel you. And it’s going to give you energy. It’s going to give you juice.
What happens, Terrie, and I think for all of us, or for many of us, is that when we’re too isolated, our deficits will tend to get emphasized in our own mind.
So when I’m all alone and my mood gets a little low, I will go to the lowest common denominator. Oh, nobody loves me. I’m not good. I’m too fat. I’m too thin. I’m too this. I’m too that. We go there and it’s kind of human. It’s not just you. It’s not this thing that you’re doing wrong. We’re social creatures. We really are.
And we’re especially social creatures in the way that we need social connection. Your way is going to be slightly different than my way, is going to be slightly different from somebody else’s way, in terms of what feeds you, what you need, what kind of people, what kind of conversation. Great. Let’s go find it. Let’s go find that. And it’s a beautiful exploration. And it makes you young again, because it’s almost like, here I am in college and I’ve got to find a new set of friends. Here I am in medical school, got to make a whole new set of friends. Here I am in the Navy, whole new set of friends. So it’s not like you haven’t done this before.
Terrie: Yeah. That’s a good point, yeah. I’ve got to remember that. Because it’s hard for me to make friends but you’re right I have done it over and over again. So I just need, kind of like the re-parenting, to go back and draw from my experiences then.
Marc: Because you have proof. You have done it. And forgive me for being simplistic here, but there might be two kinds of people in the world. Those who have an easy time making friends, those who have a harder time making friends. I notice people who have an easy time making friends. And it’s like wow, okay, that’s a nice skill. And some of us are more introverted. And we’re a little more shy.
And we need to be drawn out a little more. We need to push ourselves a little more. It’s okay. It’s just okay. That’s the hand that you’re dealt. You’re a little more shy in that regard. And you have done it before. And you can do it. And the truth is, you’re a whole different person now. And the people you’re going to draw into your space are different. They’re going to match you more. And part of that is, the intention I think that you put out as well. The intention to yourself. Like, here’s what I want to create.
I think you are far more of a powerful creator than you give yourself credit for.
So, you have become a physician. You’ve had a successful career. You’ve done it in the military. You’re still working at the ripe young age of 67. And serving people in a good way, in a job that’s not so easy. Working with people who are pretty challenged.
So, wow, you have a lot of creative strength and a lot of creative power, when you set your mind to it. And it’s that same level of commitment and self-knowing you could borrow from these other parts of your life and start to say hey, if I could do it over here, then I could do it over here.
Terrie: That’s a good point.
Terrie: Right. That’s good. I like that Marc.
Marc: I’ve got all kinds of confidence for you here. But I really, really, really want to see you create a network of support for yourself. And I would especially love to see you find a person who can be a support, a coach, a cheerleader, whatever you want to call it, for your creativity and starting to write your book.
Terrie: I have someone in mind that I met in November. He lives in Arkansas I think. But I think that will work. And I’m willing to ask him. I like that.
Marc: Good for you.
Terrie: And that’s risking because I don’t know him well enough and he might say no or I don’t want to. But I’m willing to risk that. And before I would have never said that.
Marc: Good for you. That’s really great. Because worse comes to worse, the worst case scenario, he’ll pull out a gun and shoot you, he’ll be so angry. Probably not going to happen.
Terrie: Because he’s in Arkansas and I’m in Texas.
Marc: Exactly. So, worst case scenario is, he says no. Huh, I’m a little disappointed and the next right person will show up. Then I’m going to assume he ain’t the guy and there is some other guy or gal that’s going to fit the bill a lot better. And just a little trust in the process.
Terrie: Yeah. I like that. You’ve helped me and opened my eyes quite a bit Marc, I appreciate that.
Marc: Well, you’ve opened my eyes as well. I really want to say that. I’m just sitting here in a ton of admiration for how hard you’ve worked and how much you are continuing to work this. Because the strange thing is, there are certain aspects of life that we’re in it for the long haul.
There’s certain things that just don’t get handled overnight.
Clearly this is one of those things for you. We all have the pieces in life that don’t get handled easily. That’s more of a soul victory, by the time you get to your deathbed, you can go, okay, I did it. I handled this. I stepped into my power. I stepped into my queen-hood. So just keep your eye on that prize. And to me, I’ve suggested deliberate steps that I believe you can take to really move you in that direction.
Terrie: Right. Okay, that’s great.
Marc: And I’d love to follow up with you in a bunch of months. We’ll reach out to you and schedule something. And just sort of check in and see how you’re doing.
Terrie: Okay. That sounds great, Marc.
Marc: Yeah. Terrie, thank you. Thanks for being so generous.
Terrie: I appreciate it. It wasn’t as painful as I was worried it was going to be.
Marc: It was fun, right?
Terrie: I know, it was very good, yeah.
Marc: Yeah. Change and transformation doesn’t have to be like surgery without anesthesia. It can be a little fun.
Terrie: Or tooth pulling, right?
Marc: Right. Thanks once again, Terrie.
Terrie: All right, Marc. Thank you.
Marc: And thanks, everybody, for tuning it. Once again, I’m Marc David, on behalf of the Psychology of Eating Podcast, I look forward to more. Take care.
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