Imagine dieting and disapproving of your body for a lifetime. From a young age, Debbie was told that she was a sweet girl, but if only she could lose some weight, then she’d be someone really special. But that day never came. A lifetime of dieting got her absolutely nowhere, and even when she reached her target weight, she still gained it right back. Tune in as Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating helps Debbie discover that the key to finding happiness is right at her fingertips.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Eating Psychology Podcast with Debbie Cox
Marc: Welcome, everybody! I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here we are in the Psychology of Eating podcast. And I’m visiting today with Debbie. Welcome, Debbie!
Debbie: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
Marc: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad we’re doing this. And let me fill viewers and listeners in on what this is about for those of you who are listening in for the first time. So in the Psychology of Eating podcast, what we’re going to do is we’re going to spend about an hour together today.
And we’re going to have a session. We’re going to work on whatever Debbie wants to work on in terms of food, body, and health. And the idea is to take about six months to a year’s worth of coaching sessions. And we’re going to distill it down into one session.
So it’s a bit of an unusual circumstance because I watch to act as if this is the first and only session we’ll ever have and act as if this is the last session I’m giving on planet Earth. Some going to give it my best and make sure that we can help you get some good ideas, good insights, maybe a breakthrough, to get what you want to go.
So, Debbie, if you could wave a magic wand and have whatever you wanted to have at this session, what would that look like for you?
Debbie: I’d like to find a place where I was more peaceful with food. Food is so charged up for me. I’ve been thinking about it recently. I guess I’m pretty obsessed with when to eat, what to eat, how to eat. Did I eat too much? Did I not eat enough? Why, when I don’t seem to eat very much, do I stay heavier than I’d like to be?
So I’d like to have clarity around the whole subject of food to where it didn’t have such a strong presence in my life, to where it didn’t dominate so much.
Marc: So, get some clarity about you and food and weight. And ideally how much weight do you want to lose?
Debbie: Well, I quit weighing because you told me months ago to quit weighing. So I don’t weigh anymore. But fifty, sixty pounds that just seem to be stuck.
Marc: And when was the last time you weighed fifty or sixty pounds less?
Debbie: For any length of time, it would have been college.
Marc: So how many years ago was that?
Debbie: [Laughs] Almost forty. I turn sixty next week.
Marc: Oh. Happy almost birthday!
Debbie: Thank you.
Marc: Okay. So the last time you weighed the target weight you want to get to was decades ago?
Marc: Okay. So have you even come close?
Debbie: I did very briefly. I did a really harsh diet four years ago. And I lost it down to pretty close to that. And I think I stayed for two weeks. And then I started to gain it back. I was able to stop the gain, about half of it. And that’s where I’ve stuck.
Marc: Got it. So how long have you been aware that you’ve been wanting to lose weight? When did you first look in the mirror and say, “I need to lose weight.”
Debbie: I was probably thirteen.
Marc: Wow. And where do you think that notion came from for you?
Debbie: I was chubby at thirteen. And people told me I was chubby. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You have such a pretty face. If only…If only you could lose…” Since I was a child I heard that. I was told how smart I was and what a pretty face I had. So I guess I first became aware of that and the fact that meant I wasn’t okay when I was probably about thirteen.
Marc: Got it. And are your parents still alive?
Debbie: No, I’ve lost both of them.
Marc: When did your mom die?
Debbie: She died eleven years ago.
Marc: How was your relationship with her?
Debbie: I had really good relationships with both my parents. I did watch my mom. She kept her weight pretty tight. She didn’t really gain or lose much weight. But my perception was she also didn’t eat. She lived on coffee and cigarettes and bites, tiny little bites of food. And I always felt sorry for her because it just seemed from my point of view that she had to be awfully hungry.
Marc: Yeah. So do you have kids?
Debbie: I have three.
Marc: How old?
Debbie: Thirty-five, thirty, and twenty-five.
Marc: Okay. So are you married still?
Debbie: Yes, I am. We’ve been married almost forty years.
Marc: Wow, that’s amazing. So, fast eater? Moderate eater? Or slow eater?
Debbie: Moderate with an inclination to go faster. Long eater. I sit down to eat and I eat for a while. I don’t gobble it up and walked away in just a couple of minutes. I eat for a while.
Marc: Have you ever been tested for diabetes or prediabetes?
Debbie: I’m borderline. My blood sugar runs a little bit high when we check it, like 110, 120.
Marc: Have you been tested for thyroid health?
Debbie: Yes. Yes, and I take two grains of Armour to keep my thyroid closer to level.
Marc: Okay, so you’ve been taking Armour Thyroid for how many years?
Debbie: Ten, fifteen.
Marc: About ten or fifteen years. Okay. Have you noticed a difference at all since you’ve been taking it?
Debbie: A little more energy. More energy. But it hasn’t helped the weight.
Marc: Got it. And in two minutes or less, what do you usually eat for breakfast and lunch?
Debbie: I have a lot of food sensitivities, too. So I’m gluten-free, dairy free, egg free. And then there are lots of other foods that I don’t eat. So I eat a pretty restricted diet, which is probably part of the reason I’m so obsessed with food. Breakfast is usually two pieces of bacon and this little vegan waffle that’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, with a teaspoon of raspberry jam and coffee with goat’s milk. And that’s breakfast.
Lunch is either, depending on the day, it’s usually a piece of meat and either a salad or some vegetables, sometimes a small gluten-free sandwich. But if we’re at the Mexican restaurant, I eat some chips because I’m starving by then. But then I’ll have like a chicken breast and vegetables.
Marc: So what time do you usually eat lunch? Between what time range?
Debbie: It’s about 12:30 to 1:00.
Marc: Got it. Do you snack between lunch and dinner?
Debbie: Between lunch and dinner, I usually have almonds. Around 4:00, I start to get really hungry and really tired. So I’ll have almonds. And I may have some dried cranberries with it.
Marc: And what time is still usually?
Marc: And that typically when you have for dinner?
Debbie: Meat and vegetables or meat and salad. I rarely eat any grains other than corn because that’s the only one I can seem to tolerate. And then some nights, probably three nights a week, will have popcorn around the clock, organic popcorn, olive oil, organic butter, small bowl.
Marc: But other than that, you don’t eat anything in the evening time?
Marc: Drink? Alcohol? Wine?
Debbie: Rarely I’ll drink wine. I like wine. I probably drink a glass of wine maybe three days a week. I really don’t care for mixed drinks.
Marc: Do you do any kind of movement?
Debbie: I do. I try. I work out with weights a couple of times a week. That’s about it. I tried to walk or move around or something more often. But work hours, tired. My intention is good.
Marc: Yeah, got it. So what are you doing for work these days?
Debbie: I’m working on my husband’s office. He’s a natural healthcare practitioner. And I helped him set up his office twenty-three years ago. And I administer it for him. I’m also studying coaching myself. So I want to move out of the administrative role. It’s not terribly satisfying to me, fulfilling.
Marc: Understood. So if you got to your target weight and you stayed there, how do you imagine life would be different? Who would you be? What would be so great because you’re putting a good bit of energy into getting there. So it must mean that there’s a vision, there’s a thought.
Debbie: Well, there is. For one thing, I’m turning sixty next week. My dad died when he was sixty I don’t live his lifestyle. But it still there in the back of my mind that at least from his side, there’s not longevity. So I feel like I’m going to live the link life… And then my mom died in her early seventies from cancer. So heart attack with dad, cancer with mom.
I don’t want to die when I’m in my sixties or seventies. I want to live life to eighty-five, ninety years old. I have grandkids. I want to have the agility and the energy I haven’t really ever had since maybe college.
Marc: Okay, so you want to live long. You want to have agility and energy. So let’s say what if we knew that you would live to be ninety-five at the weight you’re at right now and that you were just going to stay healthy until the moment you ascended to heaven. What would that feel like?
Debbie: That would be okay. I think I’d be a little disappointed never to have looked the way I would’ve liked to have looked. But if I was healthy… And it’s funny you say ninety-five. My husband and I talk about living to be ninety-five. That just makes sense to us that we probably will. It would be okay to be at this weight. But there would be a little part of me that would be disappointed that I never was able to achieve and live at what feels like the weight I feel like on the inside.
Marc: Yeah. How does your husband feel about your weight?
Debbie: He loves me. He loved me when I weighed over 300 pounds. He wants me to be healthy. And he wants me to quit worrying about it so much and quit being so hard on myself. He thinks I’m beautiful just the way I am. But at the same time, he honors the fact that I want my weight to be lower. He’d like my blood sugar to be down a little lower and to stay down below a hundred. That troubles him a little bit. But if I was healthy, he wouldn’t care.
Marc: So other than with diet, are you doing anything else deliberately to manage your blood sugar?
Debbie: I take supplements. I take gymnema. He works a lot with supplements. So I take supplements is specifically towards targeting thyroid support, adrenal support, blood sugar, and for my allergies.
Marc: And have you guys noticed the difference since you’ve been using diet and supplements to help with blood sugar regulation?
Debbie: No, it seems to stay. Well, it was up around 135. Now it seems to stay more like 110.
Marc: Got it. Okay. Do you have sisters, brothers?
Debbie: I have one brother and two sisters, all living.
Marc: Where are you in the birth order?
Debbie: I’m second.
Marc: And how is your sister’s relationship with food?
Debbie: My older sister doesn’t have any problems at all. She’s been very active all her life. My younger sister and brother, the three of us are close together in age. And we all struggle with food.
And it’s always fun to get together at the end of a year because you never know who’s going to be thirty pounds up and who’s going to be thirty pounds down. And next year will be the opposite. The younger sister has thyroid issues. I’m sure my brother does, but he doesn’t check it out.
Marc: And you live in Texas?
Debbie: Mmm hmm.
Marc: Have you lived in other places?
Debbie: We lived in other places for short periods of time and then came back to Texas because that’s where families were.
Marc: Do you do a lot of foreign travel?
Debbie: Not foreign. We wander around the states a lot. But we haven’t done any foreign travel.
Marc: And are there times that you notice that you just feel the best?
Debbie: The first thing that pops in my head is last summer when my granddaughter was here from Pennsylvania. And we spent every day in the pool. I was more active physically. We swam every single day, couple times a day. My other granddaughters came over and joined us. We played for a month. I went to the office, I think, once in the entire month. But we were outside a lot. And we were playing games and drawing. And that was the best. That was awesome.
Marc: So in your mind—and this might not be the world’s most fair question—but why do you think you have trouble getting to where you want to go weight wise?
Debbie: I think about that a lot. The only times I’ve ever gotten down to the weight I wanted to be, to get to that in college…In high school I was really heavy. And I lost down to my weight. And I maintained it through college and then started to gain it immediately.
I think it’s a two-part thing. The only way I’ve ever been able to lose large amounts of weight was through very punitive, horrible diets. And I just don’t want to do that again. And then the only times I’ve never been able to ignore food where it wasn’t a big deal, I wasn’t bound in an office. I was more free-spirited, doing what I wanted. And that doesn’t seem terribly possible either. So put those two together and it just seems really hard to get from here to there.
Marc: Got it. Got it, got it. So what does your husband think it is for you?
Debbie: Well, he keeps looking for physical triggers. He’s a clinical nutritionist. So he took looking for physical triggers. Don’t run some testing and he’ll find things. It’ll make those changes. And I’ll feel better. But my weight doesn’t change.
And, honestly, it’s like I discount the rest of it if my weight doesn’t change. The other doesn’t really matter very much. It’s like, “Well, yeah. I do have more energy. And my stomach doesn’t hurt so much. But haven’t lost any weight.” I haven’t had a cheeseburger and French fries in ten years. But I look like people who do. And I think I resent that.
Marc: Got it. Yeah, I understand. I really do. So how often do you weigh yourself?
Debbie: I haven’t weighed since I took your course last spring. I put a plant on top of my scale. It’s now plant stand.
Marc: Nice! So how do you know if your weight goes up and down? You just kind of feel it, look at?
Debbie: I feel it mainly, how my clothes feel.
Marc: And you see yourself losing about fifty or sixty pounds. You’re going to feel lighter. You’re going to be healthier. And it seems like there’s this part of you that this kind of wants to get to that weight and sort of be there, like finally do it because it’s been a long road for you.
Debbie: Yes! Yes.
Marc: Okay. I think I’ve got the information I need, oddly enough. And I’ve just been kind of computing it together. So let me start to give you some of my thoughts and some of my feelings and some of my observations. And we’ll see if this is helpful or useful in any way for you.
What I want to say first is that we, meaning the collective scientific we, meaning all of us, we don’t know how much anyone should weigh. That’s where I want to start. We like to believe we do. You can say, “I want to be ten pounds less, twenty pounds less, this amount that amount. I want get to this weight, that weight.” There is no hard science about how much somebody is supposed to weigh.
And as you are sharing your story with me, in a certain way it’s an intense story. It’s not an unusual one. It’s not unusual from the standpoint of if I had ten bucks for every time I heard somebody say, “I’ve been trying to get to my target weight and stay there for the last thirty, forty, fifty years,” I could retire if I had ten bucks for every one of those because there’s a lot of people who fall into that category of they’ve been doing this since they’ve been young and why doesn’t this work?
So sometimes there’s hidden food allergies. Sometimes there’s hidden metabolic issues. Sometimes there’s hidden nutritional triggers that we really have to look at. Sometimes there’s an emotional issues. And, for you, in a lot of ways the good news is you have access to good information. You have access to good insights, i.e. your husband and your knowledge base.
And some of the things that you’re doing, watching your blood sugar level, trying to regulate it better, the diet that you’re following, discovering that you’re allergic to certain foods, letting them go, on paper, your diet sounds great. And then here you are going, “And why the heck am I not losing weight? I feel better. How come I’m not losing weight?”
So I wish I had a quick, elegant answer for why you’re not losing weight. And I don’t. So when that happens, I could guess.
And I can conjecture. But when that happens, I like to say, “Okay, then let’s do something different that we haven’t done before.” That, to me, is the most logical place to go if I had to find a practical road.
Okay, so you’ve tried these fifty things over the last bunch of decades. Let’s try something else. That’s the first place my mind goes. And I have an idea of what to try. And I’ll return to that in a moment. I also want to say that in my experience, when I hear this story, this general story that you’re sharing, which is the weight fluctuates, and you feel like you legitimately have weight to lose, I usually notice one or two things for people. And this is from a lot of years of experience doing this.
When I usually notice is, number one, that person got an early start in life that wasn’t so good. In other words, they were brought up on a lot of junk food. And a lot of times when we’re brought up on junk food in the womb, and when were young, it sets a pattern in the body for some of us that’s hard to shake off. So I’m saying this observationally. And we’re starting to see that we have the research, we have the proof that this indeed happens that the incidence of weight gain and inability to lose it goes up as the quality of a mother’s diet goes down while she’s pregnant. And as the quality of the infants diet in the young child’s diet, as that goes down in the formative years, it just start things out harder foot. So that’s one piece that I noticed that’s not always easy to shake.
The other piece that I notice in this kind of story is that often times—not always, though—but oftentimes the key becomes what has to get unlocked in the personal world for things to happen? Because I’ve seen time and time again people who do everything right. So you’re doing a lot of things right in terms of what you should and shouldn’t eat and when you should and shouldn’t eat and what you should avoid and that sort of thing. So you’re doing a lot of things right. And it’s not happening for you.
So when I say the key is in the personal realm, it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you as a person. It doesn’t mean that you’re deficient in some way. It just means that in your growth, in your trajectory in life, there’s certain lessons to learn that you’ve got to learn and that have to get unlocked, that have to get exposed. So that’s another place that I start to think about.
So when I kind of put these things together, you might fall into both those categories, meaning my guess is you got not as great nutritional start in life.
Debbie: Absolutely true. We were tiny little babies in the womb. She didn’t gain twenty pounds when she was pregnant. It was all coffee and cigarettes. And I was an early C-section and went straight to formula, raised in a household where they smoked all the time.
And we ate the typical American diet of the fifties and sixties. Everything was white and sweet. And the only vegetables we ate were the occasional green beans, canned, or potatoes or corn. That was kind of it. Rare salads. So, yeah, I was absolutely raised that. That was done of the best of intentions. But that was the diet for upper-middle-class at that time.
Marc: Yeah, I get it. So a lot of what you just described was how I was raised. My mother wasn’t doing smoking. But we were all raised and she was eating while I was in the womb, all the Kool-Aid and the marshmallow fluff.
Debbie: Oh, Kool-Aid. We were big on Kool-Aid kids.
Marc: Yeah. And it’s pretty, pretty colors. And all the breakfast cereals. So you got a hard start in life. And what’s going to happen is you’re going to pop out of the womb nutrient starved and nutrient deprived. In the body is going to want to grab onto food. The body is going to want to hang onto weight, hang on to body fat because it’s nutrient deficient.
And that happens for us on a physical level. And it ends up happening in a weird way it affects the psyche. And we can’t be sure how. But in my opinion, the way it affects the psyche is on a certain level it has us starting out deficient. We’re always hungry, always looking for something. We’re always not quite right because how we begin things is how things carry through. So how we begin things in the world, how we begin things in the womb, how we begin things when you first pop out.
And granted like you said, your parents were doing the best they could. They thought they were doing the right thing because that crazy processed food, that was considered technology in the fifties and sixties. So you had a challenging start. So right then and there on a certain level, there ain’t nothing wrong. And you’re trying to deal with it difficult to genetic challenge because our genes, our DNA, is impacted by our early environment and how things get started out. Our DNA is impacted moment to moment by what we’re eating.
So you’re already starting out with a little bit of a deficit. So I just want to acknowledge that. On top of that, what’s happening is you got the message early on, “Oh, you’re so nice. But if only you could lose weight, then we’d actually really approve of you. We kind of approve of you. We like you. But, man, would like you a lot better!” That’s sort of the message you got. The message you got was, “We love you. But we’d really love you a lot more if you finally looked a certain way.”
Now, it’s an interesting way to program a human being. And just bear with me for a second. When you get the message… And it sounds like you had a loving family to a great degree. But there’s these two fascinating messages. “We really love you. And, wow, we would love you more.” So all of a sudden, you’re set up that you have to hit this target. Because who wants to be just loved halfway, for God’s sake? I want the whole package. So I want my parents to really love me. I want people around me to really love me. And thank you for telling me how smart I am at how pretty my faces. But that ain’t enough. Because you tell me it’s not enough.”
Debbie: That’s so true.
Marc: So I’m just reflecting back to you what on one level is the obvious what on another level, but on another level because you’re in it, it’s hard to see it. So that kind of programming, that kind of input sets up your psyche for a lifetime of, “I’m okay. But I’m not good enough. I’m okay, but I’m not good enough.”
And in a weird way you’ve reproduced… And we always do this. We humans do this. We will reproduce our early environment that we get brought up then, but on the next level, or on the next few levels. So, in other words, your husband loves you. He loves you just the way you are with your 300 pounds, 200 pounds, whatever. And, of course, you’d like to see you be happy. Now, he’s probably not delivering the messages to you that you used to hear. But you’ve got a husband who knows a lot about clinical nutrition. And he’s trying to help fix you. So there’s this little subtle thing.
Debbie: Yeah, it is. I hear what you’re saying.
Marc: And then there’s you. And my impression of you honestly is that while this is a really cool lady who’s really grounded in herself and in a lot of ways. You’ve raised three kids. You’re a grandma. And you’re healthy person. And you’ve got a good marriage. And I feel like you’re the sort of person that basically respects yourself. And you’d like yourself a lot more if you lost the weight! [Laughs]
Debbie: Yeah, exactly! [Laughs]
Marc: You really love and respect yourself. And wow, you love and respect yourself a lot more if you lost the weight.
Debbie: That’s so true.
Marc: So that’s kind of the psychic environment that’s been set up from a young age that you’re still continuing. So where my mind goes because on one level, I would love to see you get what you want. So I’d love to see you get what you want to get. And on another level, part of me knows you either get there or you won’t. So where I think to myself is, “If she gets there, great. But if she doesn’t get there, how can we make that great? And if she gets there, great.”
But is it really going to be great because you’ve been at your target weight before and you gained it. You gained a bunch of it back. So changing the body…And granted what you shared with me was in order for you to get what you want to go, you have to do very punitive—is the word you used—extreme measures. And, yeah, who wants to do that?
And you know. You naturally know this sucks. Punitive weight loss ain’t the road to take because it’s going to rebound. And it’s on the way for a human being to live. So it’s a very artificial situation. I might as well tie your hands behind your back and put a gag over your mouth and walk you around like that. You can lose weight like that. But, eh, it’s not very dignified.
Marc: So the first thing I would like you to do… I’m not going to say that just yet. I want to preface that and say that—and this is advanced. But you are smart lady—oftentimes, oftentimes, oftentimes we can’t really shift our body. We can’t shift our body weight or shape if it legitimately can be shifted unless there’s a character shift that matches that, unless there’s a shift inside us that matches that weight loss.
So I meet tons of people who lose weight through extreme measures. And then they gain it back because you can’t continue the extreme measures. And what’s happened is they’ve had a change in body shape. But the inner character of who they are has stayed the same. So body and mind are connected.
So if my inner character is staying the same, it’s going to want to go back to where my body was. You follow me?
So if there was a part of you that needed to shift in order for your body to shift, then I’m interested in exploring that because usually if that’s the case that there’s a part of us that needs to shift, change, grow, transform, heal, whatever it is in order for the body to shape shift… I’ll give you an example. I’ve worked with a lot of women before who are doing everything right to lose weight. They don’t lose it. Their bodies are healthy. Their blood sugar is fine. Their exercise is off-the-hook great. Their diet is off-the-hook great. And not a pound drops. And they could lose fifty, sixty, seventy pounds.
And for a lot of them, it’s all about past history of sexual abuse. It’s all about past history of physical or emotional abuse. And then the body wants to hang on to weight. So there’s a reason for the body to hang on to weight. And until that person can feel safe in the world today, they’re actually still carrying some of the old feel. They’re still carrying some of that old stuff.
So until they can let that go, the body is going to stay the same because that’s how the body has learned how to be in the world.
So, for you, what I’m saying is at the very least I’m starting to ask myself the question, “What’s the character shift that would need to take place that, even if you didn’t lose the weight, it would be a great character shift? And it might give you a chance to help shape shift your body if you made that change and transformation inside yourself.” So that’s where I go because oftentimes, Debbie, that’s with the magic happens. Magic happens when we transform who we are at a deep level.
So what I want to see transformed for you is this pattern called, “Well, Debbie is really great. She’s really nice. But she’d be so much better if…”
Debbie: And that cuts all the way to the core.
Marc: Yeah. And it’s nasty. I just want to say there is a level where I make fun of it a little bit. But I want to acknowledge there’s a level where it does cut to the core. And it’s nasty because it’s usually said with a smile. And it’s said with a smile. But what it really is is it’s a hurtful statement. And when we take that on, it’s a strange double message because on the one hand, you’re being told to, “Be just the way you are because you’re so sweet. And we like you like this. You’re really nice. But we really like you to change. But we like you like this. But would like to change.” It’s actually both messages.
And to the mind it’s very confusing. And this is probably not conscious for you. But that double message of, “We really like you…” And people really do like you for who you are. But you’ve got this supposedly loving message. It was intended with love because people wanted to see you lose weight. But the the mixed message is, “But we’d love you more.” And if you change that’s not going to guarantee there’s still going to love you because you’re not going to be the same person that they love because the truth is what happens is a lot of people—and this might be the case for you to some degree—what happens is at an early age when we are bigger or—I’m going to use the F word—fatter than other people around us, one of the ways we cope with that is we become really nice. We become the good little fat boy or the good little fat girl. And we just people please everybody because they may really freaking like us.
Marc: Because if you don’t do that, people hate on fat people. There’s a lot of fat haters out there. There’s a lot of weight hate. And we as young children look around and go, “I don’t want that. So I’ve either got to lose this weight or got to be really nice.” Now, I’m sure you’re a nice person. And you’ve got a lot that you’re carrying because you’re going to get loved more if you lose the weight. But, actually, if you do lose the weight, you’re going to be a different person. Do you still have to be nice? Do you still have to be all sweet? Do you still have have to have this winning personality?
So in a lot of ways, we don’t always know the full spectrum of who we would really be because the world tells us—and you didn’t invent this—the world tells us you have to apologize for your looks in your weight if it ain’t what the world wants. On some level there’s an apology there. So what I’m saying for you is… How old did you say you were?
Marc: Okay. So we’re on the road to sixty here. So you’re on the road to sixty. So here’s what I would like you to do between now and the time you die at ninety-five. But I don’t want to wait until you get to ninety-five. I want this to happen in the next couple of years at the most. Where I’d like to see you go is, number one, to stop apologizing. You don’t apologize outwardly. But I think you apologize inwardly for who you are, how much away, and would look like.
Now, I’m not saying you don’t have to still want to lose weight. But what I’m saying is I don’t want there to be any inner apology anymore. So this is the goal.
I’m saying this is the goal. I’m not saying it’s easy to get there. So what I’m saying is it’s just like when your mother if you have three young kids, the goal is to raise them to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. You don’t how you’re going to get there because your new at it. But you know that’s what you want to go. So, seem in this case. You don’t know how you want to get there right now. But you know where you want to go.
So I want to see you let go of the apology. I want to see you be whoever it is you would be if you didn’t have to apologize for your weight. If you had the perfect body right now, what would your personality be like? Would you have to be nice to people if you didn’t feel like it? Who would you actually be? Would you piss more people off?
I have a feeling you’d be a little bit more outspoken if you were completely confident about your body. I have the feeling you’re one of those people who would be very outspoken. Because my guess is you’re a strong woman. And you see a lot. And you see a lot of this nonsense that other people don’t always notice or speak up to. So, to me, you’re sharp and you’re perceptive. But at the same time, you might have some moderate what you say—
Debbie: Exactly, yeah.
Marc: —because you want people to like you because you need to lose weight. And you haven’t. So this is the only way to get people to like you. So I want that whole pattern to evaporate because if that evaporates, then all of a sudden your body is pliable. Then all of a sudden, you’re starting to be the real you. We get down to who you really are. And when we get down to who you really are, the body finally has a chance to be what it really is. You follow me?
Marc: Body-mind are connected. It’s magic. Body and mind are connected. Mind-body science understands this.
But on the deepest of deepest of deepest of levels, that rabbit hole is so profound, that mind and body track one another. Emotions and body, soul and body. Who we are at the deepest level, body and mind are going to track each other. So when you shift and you become the person you really are inside, all of a sudden you’re more pliable. You’re more open. You’re more the real you. That positions the body to have the best chance to be the real it.
So if the real body that you’re in legitimately has weight to lose, what I’m suggesting is because your closing in on sixty and you haven’t been able to get there through dietary means and through metabolic means, then I’m saying this is the next logical place to look. And it’s the hardest place to work, by the way. It’s way easier to manipulate your diet. It’s way easier to manipulate a bunch of supplements. It’s way easier to exercise your brains out.
It’s actually easier to do that than to try to plumb the depths of your psyche and understand, “Who am I? What’s going on? And what are the deeper tweaks that I need to do?” That’s not easy. That’s why we don’t do it. But it’s hard to understand that knowledge is always out there. And a lot of times it’s a little painful because we have to look at our patterns. And you have to look at changing your way of being from the core.
So I don’t know…And this is a weird statement. I like you. But I don’t know how nice you are, meaning…
Debbie: I honestly don’t know either. I’ve pretended for so long.
Marc: Yeah. And I don’t want you to pretend anymore. I want you to be the real you. I don’t know how nice you are. I think there’s a person in there gets angry.
Debbie: Yeah, yeah. [Laughs] And I tell her to be quiet because you can’t do that or people won’t like you anymore.
Marc: Exactly. Now, what I want to say…And thanks for pointing that out. It’s like I feel the anger. And you went like this. Your hands went like that. “I push it down.” Well, you know something? I want to say this, Debbie. And I mean this because I’ve seen this so often that when our emotional metabolism gets a little blocked, is easier for the body for many people—not all—for many people to hang on to weight.
So when I get emotionally blocked, I become irritable. I become cranky. I become fatigued. When you get emotionally blocked, my sense is you get more bloated and you hang on to more weight. Other people get emotionally blocked and it affects their heart. Or it might affect their liver. It’ll affect their weak link. So we’re all different.
So it’s up with your bad. Because there are plenty of people who are in way worse emotional shape and psychological shape than me and you. And they express it differently. Every body expresses it differently. For you, you probably express things by hanging onto weight, which in this day and age is challenging because of all the weight hate.
So what I’m saying is I’m interested in you being the real you. And I’m interested in not putting down emotions. I’m interested in not putting down anger. I’m interested in you not putting up with nonsense that you don’t want to put up with, not putting up with people you don’t want to put up with, not taking people’s insults and laughing off smiling off.
And I would be fascinated to see what makes you angry because there’s an angry person in there. And that’s not bad because anger is our power. Anger is our passion. Anger is our energy. We get angry because we should get angry. There’s a lot of bad baloney that happens in the world. And even though your parents meant well, you might look back on it and get angry. And even though people meant well, you might look back on it and get angry. You know what I’m saying?
And it’s not just anger that gets pushed down. It’s other feelings, as well, for you. It could be sadness around at all. It could be the grief around at all. It’s like, “Why me?” And then you constantly have to be nice. And then you have to make your efforts again. So I see you being very diligent. You’ve been extremely diligent. And you’ve kind of been doing your absolute best to be a good girl like in the classic good girl. That’s you.
Debbie: Yep. Absolutely.
Marc: So I don’t want you to be a good girl anymore because people love you. Your kids love you. Your husband loves you. People love you. You don’t have to do anything more for us to love you anymore. I personally don’t need you to lose weight. I think you’re amazing. I don’t need you to lose weight.
If you want to lose weight, then I’m sitting here going, “Great. Good for you. I support you. I think that’s wonderful.”
If you told me you want to make more money, I’d go, “Good. Great. I support you. That’s wonderful.” But I’m not going to love you more if you’re making $50,000 a year more. I’m not going to think more highly of you. I already think highly of you. I’m not going to think more highly of you view lose weight. And I want you to get that it doesn’t matter one damned bit. If there’s human out there who you’re trying to please, stop trying to please them. Stop trying to please them. So then you can say, “See? Now the good girl.”
So part of you has been set up. There’s a setup that goes on in there that your subconscious keeps playing, which is, “Okay, I’ve got to prove myself. Got to prove myself. I’m going to be a really good girl now and lose this weight. And now my husband is going to be happy because I’m going to be healthy and live to be ninety-five. I’m going to be happy. And all these other unnamed people will be happy—the live ones, the dead ones.”
And you know this. If we had to make everybody happy, our heads would explode. It’s too much work, too much work. And then there’s you. You’re thinking you’ve got to make you happy. And what’s going to happen is you’re going to twist that just a little bit and go, “Well, I need this to be healthy.”
I understand that. Both my parents died before they hit sixty. They died of cancer. I take care of myself great. Do I worry about not making it? Sure. I do. So I understand that. And at the same time, what I want to say is for you, it’s time to live your life and be the real you.
And, Debbie, I would love to see you for the next four or five months, I want you to let go of losing weight. I want you to actually let go of it and go, “Okay, I’m letting go of losing weight. I might pick that up again. I might pick that up again in five more months. It’s my prerogative. Why? It’s my life. I can do whatever I want. But I’ve been trying to do this since I could remember, since at least twelve, thirteen years old. I’ve been hearing this nonsense and trying to please all you people have trying to please me of trying to please whoever. Time out. Who would I be if I took that off the table for little while?” We’re just taking a little vacation from it. We’re giving your psyche, we’re giving your soul a little rest from having to be something different.
So I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to lose weight. What I’m saying is we’ve got to push the pause button first. Because you’re tired of this. Right? Yeah. You’re tired of this. I get it. You’re too old for this nonsense.
Debbie: And too young.
Marc: Yeah. And your life force is precious. It’s valuable. And you know that. You want to be around for your grandkids. So you have to start loving yourself for who you are for the first time ever. Love yourself for who you are. And if anybody has a complaint, adios. If anybody has a complaint, put it in an envelope and we’ll put it in the complaint box. And we’ll get to it in a few years.
Because you’ve already proven yourself. You’ve got nothing else to prove to anybody. You’ve got nothing else to prove. What are you going to prove? There might be things you want to prove to yourself. That’s fine. But I would love to see you just take a vacation from that. And start to ask the question, “Who would I be if I don’t have the please anyone? Who would I be if right now this is the body of going to have?”
If you start to live into this body, live in to this body, meaning stop apologizing for it and stop thinking that, “This is the body that is not the body I’m supposed to have,” if you can let that go and start to inhabit it, it actually gives you the best chance of being able to operate it in the manipulated and shape shifted.
It’s no different then there’s a car sitting in your driveway and you go, “I hate my car. I don’t like it.” Okay. “I hate my car so much I don’t even want to get in it. But I want to get to downtown. But I ain’t getting in my car. But I want to get to downtown.” That’s kind of what this sounds like. In order to operate that car, you’ve got to get in it. You don’t have to love it. But at least you’ve got to get in it. You’ve got to relax. You’ve got to turn on the key. He’s got to sit there. There’s a sense of being in the car and operating it in accepting, “This is my car. I might as well enjoy the ride to downtown because that’s what’s going to get me where I want to go.”
And once you get comfortable in that car, then you can start to make things happen. Then you might want to drive around and look at a new car. So we’ve got to get you in this body in a way where you’re finally going, “Okay, here it is. I’m getting into this body.” Because once you start to get into your body as it is right now, what you are trying to do, what people try to do as we make this promise that, “I’m going to really be in my body. I’m going to be light and feel good when I get down to this weight,” which seems to make sense. It makes logical sense.
But it actually doesn’t work in terms of logic because this is the body we have right now. And we’ve got to start with what we have in order to have any hopes of shifting it. So that’s why I want you to let go of the weight loss goals for a bunch of months and really completely de-focus on it because it’s been getting all your focus and all your attention. And it pulls you away from where the real action is.
And the real action is Debbie being the real Debbie. The real action is unearthing, “Who is this person?”
If you didn’t have to apologize, if you knew that no matter what you weighed really love you… Here’s the thing, you know on some deep level of the matter what your husband loves you. But a part of you still doesn’t believe it. You know? Part of you doesn’t believe it.
Debbie: It’s true because I don’t.
Marc: Right. So the proof is there. So what I want to say is the proof is there. The proof is there. If you look at the paperwork, the proof is there in terms of your husband. And that’s all we care about, the people who love you the most. The proof is there. You kids still love you. The proof is there. You hang out with your grandkids. She’s not going, “Grandma, you are really a nice grandma. But I wanted grandma that…” Grandkids don’t say that. They don’t care.
My grandma was a big woman. She lived till her late eighties. I didn’t know she was fat. I never looked at her and said, “I’ve got a fat grandma.” All I knew is my grandma was the most loving woman the universe. That’s all I knew. And that I had the best grandma ever. I don’t think she thought she was fat. I never heard complaint from her. And she lived a long, healthy life.
So, anyway, this is about you finally being you and saying, “Time out with all this.” And you find that love for you. And you find that unconditional acceptance. When you can find that place for you—and this is between you and the Creator; this is between you and a higher power; this is between you and the deepest part of you—when you can find that place, magic happens. And I really mean that.
There is a magic that happens that is indescribable. And it’s going to impact how you feel about yourself as a person. And it has a very good probability of impacting your body. It might not. Your weight might stay the same forever and you live to be 105. But the point is we don’t know. But again what I’m saying its probability wise.
If I was getting $20 million to help you get what you want to go sustainably for the rest of your life, this is how I would do it. I wouldn’t put you want some two months fast. I wouldn’t staple your stomach or anything like that. If I was going to get paid millions and millions of dollars to get you where you want to go, if this was reality TV, this is exactly what I would do to win all my money because it would give you the best probability of truly getting what you want to go. And if you didn’t get where you wanted to go weight wise, you’d still be happy. You follow me?
Debbie: I do, yeah.
Marc: So, Debbie, you’re being a really good sport here because I’m saying some stuff that’s a little powerful and a little bit getting in there. I just want to check in with you and see how you’re doing. What’s happening for you?
Debbie: I didn’t realize that I have loved myself conditionally. I haven’t loved myself all this time. I spent my whole life performing to be the person that… It was exactly what you said. They loved me better, so I had to be better by being more of a pleaser. And, oh, my God. I’m such a people pleaser, always have been. But I didn’t know that I was doing it because deep down I felt like I was having to buy love.
And I feel such a sense of being understood and relief, and at the same time I really grieve all the time I have screwed myself over. It’s like I’ve become the real me. It’s like I’m going to have to go back to the five-year-old because I think I checked out a long time ago.
Marc: That’s a lot of us, Debbie. And I appreciate you being so open and honest and brave about this. And, in my opinion, this is what keeps us young. And this is why you’re so young because you’re willing to go there. And youth means that were constantly growing. That’s what it means, always growing.
And what I hear you say is when you say, “Gosh, going to have to go back to when I was a five-year-old because that’s when I checked out, “that might be true. But that means you’re willing to change and grow. And that’s what keeps us young. That’s what keeps us really healthy because that’s what youth is. And there will be grieving. There will absolutely be grieving because we’ve got to look in the mirror and go, “Oh, my God. That’s how I’ve been showing up from a young age.”
And it was all what you needed to do to survive. So every decision you made was brilliant. Children are actually brilliant observers, but very poor interpreters. So you brilliantly observed, “Huh, they love me. But, man, would they love me more if I didn’t have all this weight. And, man, would people not like me if I was a mean girl because nobody likes the mean, fat girl. They like mean pretty girls and skinny girls, but not the mean fat ones. So, wow, I’d better change my personality really quick to adjust so people love me.”
So you did a survival strategy, which makes perfect sense. So now people love you and they’re not hating on you. So people pleasing is a really smart strategy to have people like you because nobody wants to go through the world getting hated on. And there’s a part of us that has to sell out to do that because the truth is we shouldn’t have to sell out to be lovable because some people are going to love you and some don’t. Some people like you and some don’t regardless of what you weigh and what you don’t weigh.
You know this. There’s men and women that are super handsome and super beautiful and people hate on them. So there ain’t no guarantees there. And the grieving is, yes, there’s places where you’ve sold yourself short. The good news is you can start to turn that around. And I want you to notice in your interactions with people where you don’t even realize it but you start to sell out.
And it’s a little automatic for you. It’s automatic. It’s built into your software program here. You just do it. And I just want you to notice that how you’d be with people, how you’d be with somebody just bumped into in supermarket you don’t even know and the demeanor that you put on. And I want you to gradually notice what you do and gradually notice, “Who would I be if I wasn’t running that program? How would I show up?”
Maybe you would smile. Maybe would be a nicer person. That’s very possible. Maybe there’s times you’d kind of be mean or you’d think mean thoughts or you just wouldn’t give someone the time of day because you don’t feel like it.
So you never need an excuse. Here’s one thing I want to say that might be helpful. You never need an excuse for not being nice to someone. “Well, I wasn’t nice because…”
Debbie: Hmm, yeah.
Marc: You don’t need to automatically be nice to someone. You don’t. If you want to you can. But you don’t have to. I think there’s a part of you that thinks you have to. I want to take that “have to” out of there, which means maybe even starting to experiment not being so nice and just seeing how that feels because what’s going to happen is you’re going to start to tap into who you really are and how you really feel moment to moment and how you really want to show up. And it’s going to be a little strange for a while. I’m telling you because you’re going to be reintroducing yourself to a new self here.
And you’re not going to know because you had this persona since childhood. And now were going to start to peel back the layer and see who’s there. And it’s going to be a mystery. But that’s the beauty of this. And that is honestly what I know is going to help you get where you want to go because you’re either going to lose weight in this way eventually, or you’re just going to finally love and accept yourself for who you are. Or you’ll love yourself and accept yourself for who you are. And you’ll lose this much weight or that much weight, whatever. Who cares? The people who love you love you anyway.
And you don’t have to apologize for how you look. And you don’t have to be nice because of how you look. That’s old. That was in the past. So you’re going to be trying on new clothes, so to speak. Making sense here?
Debbie: Yeah, yeah. Really thinking of it like a mystery to unravel and discover… Because my first reaction is panic. If I turn that off, I’m not sure it who’s there. And it’s scary. But I think if I approach it like investigating and solving the mystery and having fun, figuring out who I really am, then it’s not quite so scary.
Marc: Yeah, exactly. And it sets you on the road to being you, to being the real you. And as you become the real you, your body has the best chance to become the real it. That’s what I’m banking on here for you. And I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
And it’s kind of a magic formula. Personal power equals metabolic power.
The more you become the person you’re supposed to be, the more your metabolism has the best chance to become the metabolism it’s supposed to be. It’s as simple as that. So you’re doing the inner work. You’re letting go of the weight loss for now for a while.
Marc: And it doesn’t mean you don’t eat what you eat. But now when you eat, I want you to eat the food because it’s the food. We’re not eating to lose weight. And that actually like to see you not to be super hungry. I’d like to see you eat a little more, especially protein. I don’t want you coming to any meal ravenous. If you come to a meal ravenous, it means you didn’t eat enough in the meal or the stack before.
You don’t have to limit yourself in that way because the signal you’re giving your body is, “I don’t trust my metabolism. I don’t trust. I don’t trust. I don’t trust.” That creates a stress response. You’re looking at food and your body is the enemy. When you’re perceiving food and body as the enemy, we’re in stress response, fight or flight chemistry, insulin, cortisol. Stress hormones go on the rise. They signal the body to store weight, store fat, not to build muscle.
So we create with our mind and emotions, where literally creating a biochemical milieu. We’re creating our metabolism with how we see the world. And then we create our metabolism because there’s times I believe for you you’re shortchanging your nutritional needs because you’re tying to limit the amount of food.
And when you do that, you’re hungry. And when you do that, you’re giving your body to signal that it’s on a constant desert island and that your body needs to hang on to weight because there’s not going to be enough food. And all bodies understand from a survival standpoint that when there’s not enough food in the environment, metabolism automatically slows down. So there’s a part of you that’s doing that. So you say, “Well, I don’t know why this is happening.” This is one of the reasons why it’s probably happening.
So in order to let go of that, in order to change your chemistry then, you have to change you. So you have to start saying, “I trust food. I trust my body. I trust life.” So it’s good that you’re not weighing yourself because sometimes you start to eat a little bit more protein, you might gain a little weight. But it’ll be muscle weight. And that muscle weight is going to be what brings your calories.
So a lot of times people actually, believe it or not, need to gain a little weight so they could lose it because they add on some muscle. And muscle is ninety-something percent of your calorie burning tissue in the body. So what I’m saying is you have to eat food because your human being who eats and you enjoy it and you eat enough. And stop looking at it as the thing that makes me gain weight and that I have to control and manage. And if I just somehow get it right, I’ll be okay.
But I want you to enjoy food. I want you to go, “I’m turning sixty soon. Congratulations.” Let every meal be a little bit of the celebration. Enjoy the food. You’re eating some good food. Enjoy it. Really get the pleasure out of it. Don’t let yourself get to intense hunger because, like I said, I think you’re shortchanging yourself. I want you to feel nourished and fulfilled at every meal.
Marc: And I think this is going to work for you. Have a very good feeling about this. And it’s going to be not an easy road because you’re going to have to face yourself in a different way. You’re going to have to look at yourself a different way. And you’re going to have to see who the real Debbie is.
And I have a feeling that there’s a gal in there who’s got a bone to pick. You know what I’m saying? She doesn’t want to take anymore nonsense. That’s kind of what I sense a little bit. There’s a part of you…And that’s not all of you. It’s just a part of you. It’s a part of you that’s ready to draw a boundary line here and say, “Don’t cross this line, people. No weight hate.”
And it’s you learning how to do that, like you said, for you, finding that place and you where your accepting you for the first time ever. And you don’t have to have conditional love. Just like you’re not saying to your little grandkid, “Okay, when you have six pack abs, I’m going to love you more.” Imagine saying that to your grandkid. Well, that’s kind of what you say to yourself. “I love you, but…” Eh, that’s old. Time for something new.
Debbie: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Marc: So we’re going to reconvene in a bunch of months. You and I, we’ll have another session. And we’ll check in. Do you have any final thoughts or words that you want to share, anything that you’re thinking?
Debbie: I really am excited. And this absolutely resonates. But it’s a connection I never made myself. Food was the problem or my metabolism was the problem.
And I was always looking from this standpoint of what was I doing wrong? So this is such a huge mind shift that I’m just fine, just me.
And I think it’s going to be fun figuring it out and just letting it go. I think I wasted so much energy fighting myself. And I think that’s why I’m tired.
Marc: Yeah, you are. Yeah. And as soon as you let go of this fight, you will have a lot of energy. You’ll have a lot more personal energy, emotional energy, and metabolic energy, too. So this is the slow shift that we want to do because that’s what’s going to get your body to its rightful place is the slow, sustainable shift where you need to change because these patterns were set inside you from a young age, not your fault.
So you’re just correcting them, not just for yourself, but for your kids and your grandkids and for the future generations. You’re putting the new into the system because we need men and women in their fifties and sixties and seventies and eighties who a empowered, potential, who were not just getting cranky and miserable and unhappy and crotchety, but who are finding the gold inside themselves and finding the magic.
Debbie: Sounds great. That just sounds great.
Marc: I’ve got every confidence that you can do that, Debbie. Thank you so much for being such a good sport.
Debbie: You’re welcome. Thank you so much. This is really meaningful. Thank you.
Marc: Yay! And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. I’m Marc David on behalf of the Psychology of Eating podcast. I really appreciate your time, your energy, and your attention, my friends. And lots more to come.
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