Home » A 72-Year-Old Man Releases a Lifetime of Food & Health Worries  – In Session with Marc David

A 72-Year-Old Man Releases a Lifetime of Food & Health Worries  – In Session with Marc David

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Podcast Episode 412 - A 72-Year-Old Man Releases a Lifetime of Food & Health Worries

In this episode, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, works with Richard, 72, who is living in a constant state of vigilance when it comes to his weight and health. 

Like so many of us, Richard has developed a belief that his diet must be perfect in order to maintain his health, avoid illness, and keep weight off.

And what happens if he can’t maintain the perfect diet?

The moment Richard gains a pound, he imagines that he’s just around the corner from a heart attack. He believes that if he doesn’t eat 100% perfectly all the time and at every meal, then his family history of arteriosclerosis will instantly catch up to him.

On top of that, Richard has an intense fear of gain … having bounced back and forth between extreme weight gains and losses starting in his early twenties. He acknowledges that his lifelong challenges with weight were born from his early struggles with dyslexia, learning disabilities, and childhood feelings of isolation. 

So even though Richard is a mature, successful and healthy 72-year old man, he simply can’t find a way to let go of incessant weight and health worries.

Listen in as Marc guides Richard into greater awareness of the emotional triggers that contribute to his quest for perfection and cause him to disconnect from himself whenever he eats. 

Together they explore how to put an end to his worries about weight and health by focusing on his deeper purpose in his remaining years. Because ultimately, Richard is here to do more than feel trapped by his constant worrying – he, like the rest of us, is here to have a fulfilling and truly meaningful life. 

You’ll also hear:

  • How savoring the experience of eating can enhance the mind-body connection, improve digestion, and help regulate appetite.
  • Why learning to minimize and manage stress is critical to lowering the risk for a variety of health conditions.
  • How embracing food and body challenges as great teachers can help us to live a happier and more fulfilling life.

We’d love to hear your own experience or thoughts about this episode – please drop us a comment below!

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Podcast Episode 412 - A 72-Year-Old Man Releases a Lifetime of Food & Health Worries

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

A 72-Year-Old Man Releases a Lifetime of Food & Health Worries  – In Session with Marc David

Marc David
Welcome, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. I’m with Richard today. Welcome, Richard.

Richard
Thank you very much for having me today.

Marc David
Glad we’re here. Glad we’re doing this. So the idea is, you and I haven’t met before. And we get to be in a conversation. And hopefully in that conversation, I can be of service to you. So if you could wave your magic wand, and if you can get whatever you wanted with food and body. What would that be for you, sir?

Richard
Well, the very first thing of course is, I have reached the mountaintop several times as far as losing weight. But I have never fully felt comfortable that I’m going to be able to stay on the mountain, and I’ve often tumbled down. Four times in my adult life, I have been seriously overweight, obese, and I have reduced my weight. I’ve been very fit my life. I’ve been very unfit my life. Right now, for almost five years, I have kept my weight relatively down. Actually, I kept it way down, 53 kilograms lighter. But with a stent around my heart there. And with my father having arteriosclerosis and died of that, I know that a time bomb is always ticking, unless I stay on top of my game. So I’m really concerned that I’ve gained about three and a half kilograms — about, I guess, seven pounds in the last year. And that was the first time I really had a significant gain since the second year, when I had lost all the weight.And I’m starting to eat a little bit more of the foods that I shouldn’t. Well, I won’t say shouldn’t — that I have to manage in order to be able to have a full life and not be riddled with disease. And so I guess rebounding is, first and foremost, the problem. And I know that this is — the fact that 90-something percent of people who lose a lot of weight gain it back, according to the statistics I know. Maybe you know differently than me. It’s really intimidating that I’m reaching a point where I’m feeling that I’m not quite on my game. I exercise still a lot. I do a lot of things to stay in shape. I don’t do certain things that I — if that magic wand was going, I would like to learn to like to drink water more. That would be something that I definitely would like to do. And I’d also like to be able to eat like it isn’t the last day of the Earth, because I am a very fast eater. And although I eat very nutritious food, I gulp it down. I think I love the taste of food even when I gulp it down, but I know I get much more out of it, if I don’t. And so those are probably the key elements that maybe we could discuss it.

Marc David
Sure. Very, very helpful. So when was your first time in life when you looked in the mirror and said, I’ve got a weight thing that I have to deal with? How old were you?

Richard
Probably about 14 or 15. But at that time people call me husky. Like I was. My nickname in high school was Animal. I was a very strong guy, you know. And so when I was about 14 or 15, I was kind of isolated in my life. My mother father had a fractured relationship, and I was kind of left to my lonesome. And I was pretty lonesome. I was a very slender person until I was about 11 or 12 years old. And I was athletic, you know, and all those kinds of things. But when I reached teenage years, I started being called hefty. And I never really got seriously fat until I was in my 20s. But I got heavy to the point — I was a very fast runner, even when I was kind of hulky that like that. So I think it was in my mid teens that it started getting more clear that I was on the wrong path there. But I didn’t have any all the knowledge I do now that I use. I have used it several times and rebuilt over time, you know. So it was in my teens that I started noticing, but it was in my 20s that I started getting more gluttonous.

Marc David
Sure. So you mentioned about four times in life when you’ve had significant weight losses, which means significant weight gains before that weight loss. When you look back on things, why do you think that weight came on? Other than, “I ate more food,” or “I wasn’t taking care of myself.” But if you can sum it up?

Richard
Weight loss was feeling insignificant. I mean, weight gain was feeling insignificant. Feeling not noticed. I was finding I had a sense of humor. I had all these different things going for me. But my body told me –you know, bodies are not like a smoker. A smoker who is not smoking, you can’t really tell anything about their inner workings. But with a person who has weight gain, they’re wearing their problems, basically. And so I felt isolated, I felt like there was — that I also believed that, if I could only lose weight, everything would be perfect. But I know, after four times, in my adult life of having done that, it’s never perfect. You always got to be vigilant in your life, you know. You can’t ever slam the ball into the ground and say, “I scored a touchdown.” Because being — well, you could maybe, but a lot of people like myself could never do that. They have to be able to understand that you have to be vigilant over your thoughts and what’s going on.

And so each time I got fat, I think I was feeling more and more like I wasn’t succeeding, to the point I wanted to in my life. I felt extremely bright. But I had deficits in my young adulthood. One of the deficits was, I had dyslexia. And I didn’t know that, but I knew I was getting treated for something when I was in high school. And I took special classes. I didn’t read well. I almost had to use a finger, until I was 13 or 14, to read books and things like that. I tried to make up all these things as I reached late adolescence and into adulthood. And when I got into a university, which I luckily did — it wasn’t because I thought I was stupid, but I knew I couldn’t concentrate. ADD or whatever, you know. So I don’t know. I’m kind of wondering a little bit. So you can probably take me back to the…

Marc David
My question was, why do you think you had those weight gains? And what I’m what I’m taking away — and this might not be correct — but from the things you said, I’m taking away the answer that there was a part of you that might have felt lonely, and there was a part of you that might not have somehow felt good enough.

Richard
Yes.

Marc David
And in that process, it’s easy for weight to come on. Because I’m just not loving life or loving myself. So it’s easy to turn to food. How does that resonate for you when I say that?

Richard
I’m a very focused person, when I focus. And I think that weight loss, weight gain, these are all part of the extremes I live in. In my brain, and in my life, I think. They’re more under control now than they ever were before. But under control doesn’t mean they’re cured. These extremes in my brain still carry forward into my 70s. I’m 72 right now.

Marc David
Got it. So, but back to why the weight comes on. So I get that you’re focused when you’re focused. But when the weight is coming on, I’m just trying to determine who you are at that point in your life. When the weight is coming on.

Richard
I’m just basically trying to fill the gaps in the fact that I don’t know how to escape being less than optimal in my life. Food fills the gap of feeling unable to reach my potential in my life, you know? Yeah.

Marc David
Sure. Understood. So remind me again, how old you are now. 70…?

Richard
72.

Marc David
72. Do you ever think of how long you want to live?

Richard
I think I can easily live to 90.

Marc David
Okay, you think you could easily live to 90? So that would be about another good 18 years? Do you ever think about who you’re going to be in those 18 years? Like, what’s those 18 years for?

Richard
Those 18 years are to try to do — I’ve written out many game plans of what I wanted to do in my life. I have a very altruistic goal set that I’ve written down. I’ve written big plans about what I want to do. One thing I really feel, and it crosses streams, is that, for example, you’re in the nutrition field, or a diet field or the health field. Okay. I feel that so many of the programs and things that are going on in the world do not really benefit enough people. I was reading something today about vitamin K-1, or something like that. It’s a very esoteric type of thing. And I really couldn’t understand why people cannot — why the common person cannot have access to the things that would make what I’ve had to suffer, what many people in this broadcast, who are part of it have to suffer. And that is, that it’s not available to them. It’s not financially available to them to be healthy in the ways that are necessary to have longevity. So I have not given you all the details. But I’m trying to give you an overview that I have a very clear business plan, a kind of a nonprofit type of thing, of how I want to make the accessibility of the things that I’ve learned just through hard work. But I also realized I have a lot more to learn. But I want the common person who is not getting that information, or can’t receive that information because of different things.

Marc David
So you have a reason that you want to be alive for those 18 years. Yes. Okay. And I’m gonna circle back to that, because I think that’s going to be important in this conversation. Let me give you a little feedback, a couple of thoughts, based on what I’m learning about you so far. And all this feedback, all these thoughts are all along the lines of how to help you be your best self. How to help you be your best self. Obviously, part of you and I being our best selves is we want to be healthy. That helps. Part of being healthy is to feel like I’m taking good care of myself with food. So that’s going to help for sure. And that’s, you know, the crux of our conversation.

And so what you’ve told me is that, you know, from the beginning of your life, you’ve had your particular — everybody has their own journey with food and body. Everybody has a different journey. So you’ve had your unique journey with food and body, and it looked a certain way. You know, you might have been slender and athletic, and then you might have gotten a little more husky. And then at some point, you might have started gaining weight. And at some point, you might not have paid so much attention to your body. And then at some point, all this weight comes on. Now what I want to say is, in order for a human being, absent of any kind of medical condition. So in order for a human being to, all of a sudden, over time, have a really big weight gain — there’s a part of us that has to check out. There’s a part of us that has to not be present during that time. And something triggers you in those times. It’s some combination of, I don’t feel good about who I am. Whatever it is, it might show up as loneliness. It might show up as, I’m not being the person I want to be. It might show up as some specific event that happens in your life. But whatever it is, the net result is the statement that we make in our mind that says, I’m not good enough.

And for you, because when we come from a family, when we come from a marriage, when we come from parents who — if they didn’t have it together, and if we didn’t feel like we were being focused on and we didn’t get the love and attention and the nurturance that we need, because we’re coming from a household where our parents had their own challenges, and they didn’t know how to raise you in the way that you needed to get raised — then there’s going to be a certain imbalance. There’s going to be a certain — there’s going to be a boo-boo. There’s going to be a little wound. There’s going to be a hole. And this is what we do — we, all of us do, as human beings. We look for, how do I fill the hole? How do I feel better about myself? And every single human being knows: feel bad, eat food, feel better. It’s not rocket science. And there’s nothing bad about that. Because that’s what we do as infants. You’re crying, you’re screaming your head off as an infant, you get the bottle, you get the breast, and all of a sudden, you relax. So we have in our DNA, the memory of — yeah, I feel bad, I eat food, I feel better. The challenge is, when we don’t have control over that truism, then the weight comes on. But the reason why we don’t have control over “feel bad, eat food, feel better” is because we’re feeling so bad, and we don’t quite know how to manage that. There’s a place where you go, I think, that you just don’t know how to manage it. The way you figured out how to manage it is, at some point, there’s an alarm that goes off in your head: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Could be somebody saying something to you. It could be…

Richard
It always is. It’s always somebody. Yeah.

Marc David
Yeah. So somebody says something to you, and then it sinks in, because it’s you. Wow, somebody said — oh, my goodness! Alarm! Ding, ding, ding! I gotta do something. And then, you’re able to focus all your energy. And then, you’re able to do the thing that you want to do. So you make the conclusion: My problem is, I’m not focusing my energy all the time. The solution to a bunch of extra weight was focusing your energy, but it’s not a sustainable solution. It hasn’t been sustainable for you. It hasn’t brought you peace. So anybody can gain it, anybody can lose it. We could, we could like lock you in a basement for the next 18 years and starve you, and you won’t gain weight. But who cares? That’s not going to help you live your best life and be your best self. So the strategy that you’ve learned is a temporary, kind of a band aid. Yeah, it helps you lose weight. But it doesn’t really take you where you want to go. Because, like you identified, you’re going to extremes. Like you’re sort of the all-or-nothing kind of person. I’m either all-in — man, I’m watching my food, I’m on it, I’m focused — or you’re out. Meaning you’re not present. You’re not there with yourself.

Richard
One thing I can say about that is that I think, over the years, I’ve become more knowledgeable of the past rebounds. And that I’m a little bit more able — you know, when I rebounded before, I remember my first or second year in Japan, I think it was — third year in Japan, I took off a tremendous amount of weight. I was in great shape, all these different things. And then my — I’m not blaming my wife. My wife was just the catalyst of that moment. But we’re sitting in a restaurant, and she said, “You look too thin. You really need to look at yourself in the mirror and see what’s there.” And I remember, we sat down for cheesecake — we sat down for lunch, and I had a healthy lunch. And then she said, “Why don’t you have some cake or something? You haven’t had it yet.” When I lost my weight this time, this past time, I didn’t eat sugar or sweets for three and a half years, you know. No, that’s not true. That’s actually false. I didn’t eat any processed sugar or sweets for three years. I ate lots of fruit. I love fruit.

But that day, I remember my wife said, “Have a piece of cake.” I had a piece of cake. And then she got up, and I said, “Wait a minute. Waiter, can I have another piece of cake?” Like that. By the time I got home, I had eaten a box of Malamar type of cookies here in Japan. And I had eaten a carton of Breyers ice cream. And I was on my way back to the hellhole again.

Marc David
Yes. So here’s the thing. Here’s what happens. Here’s what I think happens. I’m gonna say this in my languaging. Because there’s sometimes a part of us that doesn’t feel secure in me. We can be easily knocked off our center. So here you are, following this good, rigid diet to keep your weight in line. Wife says something harmless — “You know, you look a little thin. Have a piece of cake.” And then there’s a part of you that goes, “Whoa.”

First of all, part of you might feel bad about yourself, being like, “Oh my god, am I a little thin?” And then, the part of you that starts eating all the sugar and all the cake and all the cookies, or all the whatever — that’s the little kid in you. That’s the little kid in you that’s going, “Party time.” So there’s the kid in you that wants to have the sugar. Because you’ve been denied it. Because you have said, “I’m not going to have that.” But there’s this other part of you. And it’s learning how to manage the different voices in us. Because there’s a committee in your head. And part of the committee wants sugar. Part of the committee wants health.

And here’s the challenge, I think, is that there’s a voice that I want to see you bring forth. Because you’re either in the child who like I just want to eat whatever I want to eat when I want to eat it. And the wisdom part of you checks out. But it’s not really the wisdom part of you checking out. It’s the “I’m going to be just so on it. I’m going to be Superman, I’m going to be perfect.” And when you go into, “I’m going to be Superman, I’m going to be perfect,” you are, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Always around the corner from perfectionism is going to be some form of self abuse, some form of self attack, some form of failure. Why? Because we’re human. We’re not perfect. So your solution, and a lot of people’s solution — I’m not just saying you, but a lot of our solutions to, “Oh my god, I just gained all this weight. What am I gonna do?” — I’m gonna be perfect.

So not only just does being perfect assure me that I’m on the best strategy for weight loss. It also soothes the part of us that feels I’m not good enough. You said it. You know, I thought, “Well, hey, if I lose this weight, everything’s gonna be better in my life.” Because when I have my perfect weight, I’m perfect. Nobody can criticize me. Everybody’s gonna love me. My life is gonna be perfect. Because I’m perfect. Because of perfect weight. So what I —

Richard
I wouldn’t go quite that far. I would say that I kind of knew that was a delusion. But I wanted to believe that when it happened, it wouldn’t be a delusion anymore.

Marc David
Sure. I understand. I understand. I’m exaggerating to just make a point. So the voice that I find wants to show up more is the part of you that understands — the part of you that’s more of a king. The part of you that is more the king of your kingdom. And the king sits on his throne. And the king knows who he is. He knows you’re not perfect. King needs advisors. King needs help. But a king is basically giving his gifts. He understands his kingdom. He understands his mortality. A king isn’t sitting on his throne saying, you know, “Do I need to lose weight? Do I look good enough?” Like, yeah, a king takes care of himself, for sure. But at the same time, the king isn’t obsessively taking care of himself. And he’s not, 100% of his time, focused on his own body because he’s got a kingdom, i.e., he’s got gifts to give.

So no matter what diet we eat, we’re all gonna have the same end result. We’re all gonna die. You’re gonna eat the healthiest food in the universe, we’re gonna die. Sure, there’s a part of you, I think that believes, that has a very strong correlation with you gaining some weight, and that leading to some horrible disease condition. We, the scientific we, has a very — I want to say, backwards and antiquated view on weight and health. You can be a — you know this. You’ve known many people — they can have, looks like they got the ideal weight, and they’re not healthy. And they might got cancer. They might have heart disease. A thin person can die of anything. An overweight person can die of anything.

For a long time, there was something called the obesity paradox. They’re starting to clean that up now from from the search engines. But it was it was a very fascinating concept. Because the obesity paradox basically was, that when you did all the research, as it actually turns out, people who are a little bit heavier, had a longer lifespan and greater incidence of health. So scientists didn’t know what to do with that. My point is, in the extremes — extreme thinness, extreme obesity — there’s going to be problems. Within a certain range, we don’t know. And everything depends on life, the fates, God, the mind. So everything depends on, a lot depends on our inner world. If I’m sitting around, eating the healthiest food in the universe, but I’m stressed out about, “Oh my god, am I gonna die? Oh, my God, am I gonna gain weight?” you’re creating stress chemistry. Stress and nutrition are the two biggest risk factors across the board and just about every single disease.

So I would love to see you, in the long run, begin to let go of — what I’m going to say is, certain self-chosen stress. Of course, you should advocate for your health. Of course, you should do healthy things. But notice the part of your brain that goes into, “Oh my god, if I gain a kilo, that means something about my health.” That could be health-protective, for all we know. So according to the sum total of all the research on obesity, scientists cannot say with certainty that obesity is genetic, that obesity is a psychosocial issue, that obesity causes and is a major disease risk factor, or obesity is a factor in long-term health. And why can’t we say any of those? Because it’s actually all of it. Science wants to make it one thing: Being fat is bad. Gaining weight is bad.

Richard
I don’t know how this really affects me, but when I think about my mother, who passed away a few years ago now — she was 93. And she was a very strong-willed woman, as she was one of the first Navy waves and met President Roosevelt. But she had a very strong mind, and sometimes a very abrasive manner about her. And I remember, when she was 72, she was coughing. She smoked, like, two and a half packs of cigarettes, drank six glasses of Scotch, every day, for God knows how many years. And when she was doing that, she coughed up blood one day, and she went to the doctor. And the doctor said to her, of course, the normal things that doctor says: “Mrs. Dreier,” her remarried name, “I think you need to refrain from smoking.” And my mother looked at him and said, “Young man, how old are you?” And he said — you know, he gave his age, and he said, “Let’s come back in 20 years to discuss this again.” And she lived to be 93. And she was driving until one month before she died. But they found she had cancer and all kinds of stuff in her. But she had determined in her mind that her her life was not based on what doctors or anyone else told her. It’s on the fact that I have a will to live, or I don’t have a will to live. And when she was ready, she was gone.

Marc David
Yes, that’s such a beautiful story. There’s such an X-factor, when it comes to health and food and nutrition and weight. You know, people can be overweight and live into their 90s. There’s a place where it doesn’t matter. So what matters is who you wish to be in the next 20 years of your life, how you wish to conduct yourself.

Richard
I want to be an advocate. I want to be an advocate of just trying to feel happy about yourself and realize that being fat or thin is not really the problem. That the reason why you’re fat, or anything else, is because you’re trying to fill a vacuum with something that can’t be filled, can’t fill it. You know, and that’s all I want to be able to do, is be a — what do you call it? A spokesperson for that kind of living style. A writer, those kinds of things.

Marc David
Yeah. Good for you. And I think that all begins — as you’ve said, it begins in one’s attitude. And I want to suggest a couple of practices for you. How often do you weigh yourself these days?

Richard
Almost every day, but I’ll say one little thing about that. I won’t I won’t interrupt you very long. But the first times, all the other times before I lost weight this time, I never weighed myself. I always looked at my belt loop and felt my stomach. But this time, I’ve been religiously weighing myself every day, to be to be honest with myself of what I was eating the other day, the cause-and-effect relationship.

Marc David
Okay, so I want to suggest a couple of practices. And actually, before I suggest those practices, I want to suggest a guiding principle. And then those practices. Here’s the guiding principle. Guiding principle that I want to suggest you consider is that our relationship with food and body, our journey with food and body, is a great teacher. So your journey with food and body is here to teach you. What is it here to teach you? It’s here to teach you how to be your best self. How does it do that? By us being curious. By us paying attention. By us doing the best we can, being in conversations like this. And trying to understand, like, what is this experience trying to teach me? And part of what it’s trying to teach you, I think, is — how do I be in good relationship with my body, in a way that works? Such that I’m taking care of my body. And then I can have my moments, where I’m letting it go. Letting it go means I’m not worried about it. I’m now going about the business of living my life and doing my thing and — okay, here comes a meal. And I’m going to engage in my meal. I’m going to choose foods that I think are healthy for me. Choose foods that that I enjoy, and nourish myself with good food, and then move on to the next experience.

So I want to suggest that, even at the ripe young age of being in your 70s, that you train yourself — and it’s going to take time, because it’s been a lifelong habit. You train yourself to be a slow eater. But slow doesn’t mean a speed. Yes, it’s a speed. But slow really means a mindset. If you want to be a good teacher, a good mentor, a good guide, a good spokesperson, you can’t be talking 100 miles an hour. You can’t have your thoughts all over the place. You have to deliver in a way that people can hear. So you have to deliver food into the body in a way that it can receive it. On a physiologic level, the body is designed to digest, assimilate, pulverize a meal, and calorie-burn it in the relaxation response. When we’re in a relaxation response, parasympathetic nervous system dominance, you are in your optimal digestion, assimilation, natural appetite regulation, and calorie burning capacity.

When we’re in a stress response — I’m freaking out about something, I’m running from the lions, I’m upset about this — then, depending on the intensity of your stress, we’re in some degree of digestive shutdown. We’ll excrete nutrition. We’re producing more stress hormones. Those stress hormones signal the body to store weight and store fat and not build muscle. And stress deregulates the appetite. It confuses the appetite mechanism. Because when you’re running from a lion, you don’t need to be trying to determine if you’re hungry or not. All your metabolic energy is going into survival. So what happens when we eat fast, the act of eating fast puts the body in a stress response. You can be the most relaxed person right now. And if I say, “Here, have this meal. But you have to eat it really fast,” that puts your body into stress. Because the only time one should be stressed when one is eating is, you look at animals in nature — a lion makes a kill, and all of a sudden every other animal wants to get in on it. So you have to fight for the food that you just killed. A lot of times, animals are in a stress response, fighting for their own food. Humans? You don’t need to do that as a human being. You got the food on your plate, there’s no fight.

Richard
I’ve been in some family meals when I was younger, that was —

Marc David
Yeah. That’s where we pick that up, oftentimes. But what I’m saying is, when you learn how to be a relaxed eater — relaxed means pleasured. It means getting all the experience from that food, the taste, the aroma, the satisfaction, the visuals of the meal. When you get that, the brain becomes satisfied. And the brain says, “Thank you. Filled. Feel good. Don’t need to eat anymore.” And what you’re doing is you’re staying present and conscious when you eat. The only reason that you can go and gain a lot of weight in the past was because a part of you checked out. So you’re eating, but you’re not really present. Sure you’re eating, sure it tastes good to some degree. But we’re not fully present. A part of us checks out. When we introduce the habit, the practice, called eating slow, pleasured, sensuous, aware present, you can’t check out. You have to check in. Checking in is what’s going to heal your relationship with food and body.

Richard
It’s kind of interesting that, when you say that — for this session, I reread parts of this book. And one of the parts I was reading, as I was sitting just before my meal, was the part about the breathing between bites. And I did it, but I realize very often, I completely forget to do that. It really takes a lot of effort to remember to do that. Because I haven’t been doing it for most of my life.

Marc David
Exactly. It takes time to learn a new habit. But that’s going to be what’s going to set you free, not being in the old pattern called, “Oh, I gotta really focus 100% and do everything right and be so vigilant.” Of course, we have to be vigilant as human beings. I get that. I’m not arguing with that. But it’s not the part of you that needs to be vigilant. It’s the part of us that needs to be relaxed and present in the thing that we’re doing. That’s what’s made you successful. If you’ve been a teacher, if you’ve worked with other human beings, you’re successful with them because you’re there. You’re not somewhere else when you’re talking. You’re not somewhere else when you’re teaching. You’re being with them. You’re listening to them. So this is the same thing. You’re bringing your presence to the situation. And you’re bringing your presence, not because you have to fix something that’s broken. You’re just learning, at this age, how to, better and better, be in your body as an eater.

Richard
Yeah, and be happy about who you are in the present moment.

Marc David
And what a beautiful lesson to learn at this time in your life, because every day counts. Every day is special, you know. And every moment is precious. So this is absolutely your time in life to really make it count. And if you want to be vigilant somewhere, you be vigilant about noticing when I go into the thoughts called, “I’m not good enough.” That’s the junk food you want out of your brain. Because there’s nobody judging you, other than you. People that love you, they love you. Yeah, if somebody wants to criticize you, let them criticize you. If it’s constructive, great. Use it. If it’s not constructive, who needs it? But junk food thoughts are way more important, I think, for you to be vigilant about, than actual junk food. And the junk food thoughts are anything where you are thinking that you’re less than, where where you’re not good enough, where you need to be better. No.

Richard
Or I think that the fat lady has already sung, and I’m going down the drain.

Marc David
Exactly. That’s why I asked the question —

Richard
[inaudible]

Marc David
Oh, sorry.

Richard
No, I’m sorry. I was actually kind of meandering there.

Marc David
No, that’s why I asked you the question before, what you want to do with the rest of your life. Because in your golden years, in your kinghood years, when you focus on giving your gifts, that’s the focus. And it’s not focused on, “Oh, my God. Am I over the hill? Do I not have value? No. Wisdom is more valuable than just about anything else. Wisdom can change a person’s life in an instant. So wisdom has tremendous value. You have to know that. I have to know that. The people who are wisdom holders, or who’ve learned some wisdom over the years — we have to know that. We have to believe that. We have to stand by that. And that’s where you start to feel good about yourself, because you feel your value. And when you feel your value, I don’t need to turn to food to feel better about myself. I’ll turn to food to feel good, because food makes me feel good. I like any food that I like. Nothing wrong with it. But I don’t need to use it as a crutch in that moment. Because the rest of my life is on target.

Richard
I remember when I wrote in a journal. I’ve kept six journals since I was about 25 years old. And I remember writing in my journal one time, that “I may be happy. I may be sad. But food is never the answer.” And I think, you know, I was hitting on something really important. But it faded away when I gained weight. And then it came back again. And I always remember it. It’s kind of like being on a bridge in San Francisco. Many years ago, I — this is kind of a reveal. But I had had some magic mushrooms. I was much younger, and I had some magic mushrooms. I’m on this bridge, and I’m looking down with a friend. And I said, “You know something? The best way to have freedom is to know that, if you jump — and that doesn’t have to be physically, but spiritually — if you jump from the bridge, but you never look back, you’ll pass through.” You know, and that message is always — I’ve written a lot of, I think, pithy things over my life. And that message still resonates in my brain, even to these days. You know, even though it was written on a drug. It still was meaningful. You know, I had a religious — I was in a religious cult, and got out of a religious cult. I like extremes in some ways. I even experienced levitating. And I’m sure I experienced it. I wrote about it too, you know. I experienced — but most people would never believe that could happen. But it did. So I have some beautiful memories, and some great victories in my life. But it’s always too extreme. I wish I was just more in the mellow yellow field of my life at this point.

Marc David
Yes, so that is a beautiful wish. And I have no doubt you can make that wish come true. And it’s just about making it, I believe, your spiritual practice. And noticing when you go to the extremes, and noticing when you can bring yourself back. That’s why I’d like to see you not weigh yourself every day. In fact, I would love to see you not weigh yourself at all, and liberate yourself. Who cares? Like, literally, who cares? You care. But I’m not sure why. Okay, I lost a kilo, I’m a good boy. I gained a kilo, I’m a bad boy. Really, you’re letting the tiny little machine determine how you should feel about yourself that day. And the reality is, a scale by itself — it has a certain margin of error. I guarantee you, if you move the scale to four different places in your house, you’ll get four different readings. And depending on what clothes you’re wearing that day, whether you went to the men’s room or not — weight’s gonna vary. But who cares, if you just live your life?

Live your life and decide that, “Yeah, of course, I don’t want to gain 100 kilos, or whatever it is. Of course, I want to take care of myself.” But put first things first. Your weight — of course, taking care of your body is of primary importance. Otherwise, you can’t do all the other things that you do. Yes, but you do take care of your body. There’s a place where it’s letting go of the worry. And letting go of having it the most important thing in your life, which is keeping your weight in a certain range. If that’s the most important thing in your life, then that’s the most important thing in your life, and the other things in your life are not going to really show up. You won’t be able to do the things you want to do in your last 20 years, because weighing yourself came first. So it’s just downsizing where it lives inside you. And that’s putting yourself in the more middle of the road. That’s putting yourself in a more balanced place. But you have to do that. It’s a practice.

Richard
[inaudible] You say that. It’s something which I also have had trouble doing. I used to go to zazen sessions in Tokyo, and things like that. And I sat for 45 minutes at five o’clock in the morning, meditating and then having a priest meal after that, after cleaning up. But I didn’t continue that practice. It’s very difficult for me. I get distracted. But maybe that’s exactly why I probably should make that part of my schedule is to meditate in whatever fashion I possibly can.

Marc David
Well, do it in your daily life. Make eating a kind of meditation. But it’s a different meditation, where you’re not getting rid of all your thoughts, but you’re doing what you’re doing. Zen is about doing what you’re doing. So if you’re eating, eat. Taste, get pleasure, feel good, enjoy it. If something feels good, we want it to last. If something feels good, you don’t want to do really fast. It’ll be over with. So I would much prefer you do that kind of meditation. And you could do it every time you eat. And it’s not like you have to do that at five in the morning. You just do it with food. And you train your mind in a whole different way. Because your whole life has been a certain habit. And tons of people have that habit. You didn’t invent that habit — the habit called eating fast and checking out when I eat. Yeah. But it’s just training yourself to be comfortable in your body. And part of it’s training yourself to trust your body. Like, just trust that your body is going to do the right thing. It’s gotten you this far. Gained weight, lost it, gained it, lost it. Here you are. Okay, you gained some kilos in the last year. And here you are. You’re smart. You’re alert. You’re bright. Life is not so bad. Maybe that weight is exactly what you need. I don’t know. But regardless, there’s a place where it’s trusting that your life doesn’t hinge on a bunch of pounds. Your happiness doesn’t hinge on a bunch of pounds.

Richard
One little thing, a little kind of side note. When I lost all the weight — and this maybe is helpful to some other people who are listening to this, you’re gonna get what we call stretch marks around your middle, like that. And I was very concerned about that, at first, like that. But you know that — I’m just guesstimating, but I think I’ve lost 90% of that stretch mark, even though I was told it’s impossible to do. And actually, I’ve gained weight, but I realized something. I was saying to my friend at breakfast this morning, that I feel like I’m actually more muscular than I was before. And that supports the idea that I don’t have quite the low weight that I was having before, you know. And so I’m trying not to make it the focus of attention, but it’s still still to a degree is.

Marc David
That was a very powerful conversation. And some good lessons learned. And it’s never too late to improve your relationship with food and body. That’s such a big part of it. And life is precious. And when we put weight loss first, and on top of things, and make it the one religious thing on our altar, then our priorities are not necessarily in the right place, you know. Weight loss — make it at least second. Make living your best life first, and then things will tend to fall into place more. My friends, thank you very much for tuning in. Take care, everybody.

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