Is there a connection between weight and fear? Christie, early 50’s, dives into her life-long challenge with weight, as Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, guides her through some insights about the connection of her relationship with Mom, or lack there of, to her relationship with food and body. In this episode, we are taken on a journey to learn that the decades of struggling with weight bring Christie to now facing aging and the true desire to focus on her health. But instead of scaring herself into weight loss, Marc instead gives her the tools to uncover and shift the fundamental causes of her situation. She walks away with practices of affirmation, gratitude, and possibly a new way of looking at her body for the first time.
Below is a transcript of this podcast episode:
Marc: Hello, everybody. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. We are in the Psychology of Eating Podcast. And I’m with Christie today, Christie.
Christie: Hello. Thank you for having me.
Marc: I’m glad you’re here. And let me just say a few words to viewers and listeners who made the podcast, this is very straightforward. Christie and I are officially meeting for the first time now. We’re going to do a session together in front of you all. And the idea is to see if we can pack as many goodies to one session as humanly possible and help move forward.
So, Christie, if you could wave your magic and if you can get whatever, ever, ever you wanted to get out of this session, what would that be for you?
Christie: Well, I think the piece that’s concerning me and getting in my way is my inability to access my full capacity, my potential. I feel I’ve accessed my potential in a lot of ways in my life. But as far as the food and weight, it’s a stumbling block now. It’s less useful for me than, I guess, it’s been in the past. And in order for me to have the future that I see for myself, I have to have greater access to myself physically and emotionally and spiritually.
Marc: So food and weight, give me more specifics. It sounds like weight-loss is what you would like. Is that true?
Christie: Right. Because losing weight would give me more confidence. It would give me more physical capacity, physical ability. I feel like—I’m in my early 50s, so my body isn’t as forgiving as it used to be, more aches and pains. Family history of sort of tragic deaths related to health concerns. So my weight, although it’s been a problem since I was very young, been a part of me for almost my entire life, the problem, the stakes are higher. The stakes are getting higher.
Marc: Sure. So how much would you like to lose?
Christie: Well, ideally, I’d like to lose like 100 pounds, the dreamer in me would. But I’d be very happy and I think comfortable in the weight range where I feel like I’m physically safer, probably 60 pounds loss.
Marc: And what would that put you at, what weight, if you lost 60?
Christie: Probably about 140. And I’m 5’2”.
Marc: When was the last time that you might have weighed 140-ish?
Christie: Probably 14 or 16 years old.
Marc: Got it, got it, got it. So it sounds like you’ve tried to do weight loss strategies over the years. Is that true?
Christie: Many, many, many.
Marc: What’s worked for you, temporarily?
Christie: Well, I lost the greatest amount of weight under terrible, terrible circumstances. So I was actually living with a very alcohol-abusing person. Stress was super high, I owned my own business at the time—I do now but it was a different business. I was walking a lot on those days because I had car trouble all the time. So I feel like I lost weight under severe stress and anxiety. So of all the dieting plans that I’ve worked, that was kind of been the most successful. Certainly, don’t want to do that again. And over time I’ve lost—well, I guess when I had my daughter. She’s 23 now. The day after I had her I was 300 pounds. So over the years, Marc, I have been able to slowly, slowly whittle away. I lost my brother last March. He was only 18 months older than me. He died of a massive heart attack. And since March, I’ve lost about 12 pounds. Just really applying the methods that I’ve learned from you and being more conscious, being more willing to let go of the emotional uses of food. Exercising more—not exercising, be more active, really. Did I answer the question?
Marc: Yes you did, absolutely. And thanks for—just so honest and clear. So in your opinion, and this isn’t a question, no right or wrong, what do you think makes it difficult for you to lose the weight you want to lose?
Christie: So I think about this pretty much every day and have for the last 40 years or so. And I feel like it’s tied to my unwillingness or inability to let go of fear. I think it’s just like fear of existing in the world. My mom was fairly unstable in my early years. And my father just was trying to keep the ship from sinking. And I think I started in life just scared. And had a terrible time in school, hated school, ended up missing about a third of all my days in school because I was scared to go, scared of the kids. Did okay until kindergarten and then when I got into grade school, where there are all the levels of kids, little kids, big kids, riding a bus, dealing with lunch and homework, I just kind of started every day in a state of panic and anxiety. And I’ve never really shook that.
I mean, I’m a successful business person, I have a successful marriage. I raised a fabulous daughter. We live in a beautiful place and I have a very comfortable home. And every day I wake up feeling like, how am I going to get through just being here today? It sounds really crazy to say that out loud. I don’t know if I have ever said that out loud. But that’s what it feels like inside.
Marc: You know, Christie, I just want to say, in my experience, more people experience what you just said than talk about it.
Marc: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I think it’s a pretty big concern. People who are just, how do I be here? This is too crazy. This is too confusing. It’s not like we’re suicidal but it’s just like, how am I going to do this?
Marc: This is too much. This is too intense. So yeah, you get through your day but it’s like well, okay, I made it, I did it.
Marc: Got it, got it, got it. Understood. So how many meals a day do you eat these days, would you say?
Christie: Three. Well, I’m working on eating three. I really, really struggle with breakfast. And I feel like I’ve just sort of turned the corner in figuring out how to get breakfast in. Just like you said, waking up in the morning feeling sort of that state of anxiety and maybe having eaten too much and too late the night before, there’s literally no appetite. I have figured out how to make a smoothie that works pretty well for me in the morning as my kind of breaking into the breakfast scene. But typically, for years and years, absolutely no breakfast, late lunch, and…
Marc: Like what time? Late lunch, meaning?
Christie: Like one o’clock.
Marc: Sure. And then next meal would come approximately?
Christie: Six or seven.
Marc: And then do you eat again after that?
Christie: Usually some kind of snack. Usually some kind of something so I can feel something in my stomach before I go to bed. There’s a comforting feeling to having food in my stomach before I go to bed.
Marc: So what you have like after dinner?
Christie: Like popcorn and a glass of skim milk, peanut butter on bread and probably skim milk. I have the glass of skim milk in the evening pretty regularly. I won’t eat like a whole other meal after dinner. But, generally, some kind of—I would say carbohydrate probably and a beverage.
Marc: Do you think you eat a lot at dinner?
Christie: Since I’ve been eating more slowly, again, because of the tools I’ve picked up from you, I notice that if I’m not paying attention and eating quickly, I can eat probably twice as much as my body really needs. Because when I’m eating slowly, I notice that there’s food still on my plate when I feel full.
Marc: Got it, got it, got it. Are you married, in relationship?
Christie: Been married for eight years. Really wonderful supportive husband. Loves me as I am. Fell in love with every ounce of me, probably the day he met me. And he’s very supportive of giving me what I want. He just wants me to have what I want and be happy. And for him, the weight has never been a concern or a problem.
Marc: How’s that for you?
Christie: It’s somewhat confusing because I have such concerns and problems about how I present and how I am with him physically. But I take a lesson from him in a way like, ‘Gosh, he just wants me to be healthy and live a long time so we could be together.’
Marc: Sure, sure. So when you imagine being down to 140 or even less, who do you imagine you would be? How would you be different, life be different, here you are at your ideal weight. Who’s the new Christie? What’s different about her?
Christie: More energetic; more present; more eye contact; more smiles; physically faster, I’m pretty fast mentally but I’d love my body to be able to do what my mind wants it to do; more outdoor things that are comfortable. My husband and I fly fish and we hike and we kayak but it’s a challenge. It’s a struggle to get in and out of the kayak. It’s a challenge to go up and down the banks of the river. And I’d like to do that with more vitality and more confidence even in my balance and steps.
Marc: Does your daughter live near you?
Christie: She lives about an hour East of here in Big Timber.
Marc: How’s her relationship with her body?
Christie: She is concerned about gaining weight. I think she would probably consider herself slightly bigger than she wants to be, she’s a very petite girl. She has very tiny hands and tiny wrists. And she’s gorgeous. And, of course, I think she’s perfect just as she is. But I know that she sees me and she thinks, “Well, I certainly don’t want to have a weight problem like my mom. But I also don’t want to be in an emotional pain like my mom around my weight.” But I know it’s a part of her thinking.
Marc: And your parents are both deceased now, correct?
Christie: My mom is still living, actually.
Christie: My father passed away about eight years, complications from diabetes. He was full dialysis, lost a limb. My mom is 78 and we’ve just moved her recently to a nursing home here close to us. She’s almost completely debilitated with degenerative bone disease and she’s quite overweight. She’s probably just under 200 pounds and very bent over and kind of crushed over because of the bone disease. Has trouble walking, moving, getting in and out of a vehicle is almost impossible.
Marc: Are you guys close?
Christie: The relationship is sort of flipped. I’m more the mother and she’s more the daughter. In my opinion, although I know I’ve always known that I’m loved, she never really stepped into the role of mother to take care of the things children need. I mean I was always lacking. And now the roles completely reversed and I’m the provider for the most part.
Marc: Wow, so not only didn’t you get what you need as a daughter but now you’re the mother.
Christie: Exactly, exactly. Right.
Marc: How does that feel for you? How did it end for you?
Christie: Crazy, frustrating. Getting better at accepting the loss of sort of never really having a mom. Going to school without the right clothes or without a lunch or having missed the bus, and not having her there to get us up in the morning and dressed. She was pretty incapacitated as a person in my early years. As I mentioned, I think, mental illness trouble. She was agoraphobic for my early years. And she was just really super busy trying to keep her world together and keep her marriage together. She had three kids, which I think is probably more than she should have had. I’m the third, I’m the last. I’m quiet, introverted quite a bit. And I just figured out if I just lay low and stay in the shadows, I’ll figure it out for myself. I’d make it through. And so now I spent not a great deal of time but plenty of time figuring out her life to keep her going at this point.
Marc: Got it. Okay. How often do you see her?
Christie: A couple of times a week. Yeah, I stop by.
Marc: How was it for you when you see her? Like is it hard, is it like…what’s the feeling for you?
Christie: It’s mixed, definitely. I feel angry sometimes because her choices brought her to a place where she’s so unable to participate in the world. And I think it could’ve been a lot different. She did not have any retirement money and ended up in this state basically because of—I’ll just say, I feel like she coddled herself a lot and chose not to make the changes that I’m attempting to make. I don’t know if I’ll succeed. I know she tried as well. So anyway, sad, angry, compassionate, just sorry that she’s in pain and she can’t do and be what she wants to at 78. She’s with it mentally now. I mean she’s very sharp that way but her body is another.
Marc: Yeah. I think your mother was the way she was, just her ID and I get she probably had a few too many kids? What do you think, What if your mother was the way she was when she was raising you, nervous, agoraphobic, i.e., not really present as a mom? Do you have any idea of her early life?
Christie: She was the last of, I think, four siblings. And she was born much, much later after her brothers and sisters. So her parents were essentially seniors when she was born. And so they really did treat her like a princess. She got everything she wanted. Her mother was overprotective to the point of mom tells me a story about her mother saying to her, “Oh you can’t go to birthday parties, sweetheart, you’re too nervous and you might get sick if you go to the party, so we’ll just stay home.” That kind of overprotection. Really sort of spoiled, I would say. And not allowed to experience the world. So my father’s Hispanic. And I think he was kind of a charismatic, suave guy, entertainer, really kind of exotic. And she left home and married this exciting musician as kind of a breakout. And he was probably not any more prepared to be a father as she was a mother.
Marc: Yes, yes, yes. Good. Okay so, Ms. Christie, I would love us to start kind of diving in and seeing what’s possible for you here.
Christie: Great, great.
Marc: And I have some thoughts. So here’s my first thought. And I’m trying to find the right words for this. Let me say this and then let me explain what I’m trying to say. So what I want to say to you is I would love you to completely kind of let go of losing weight as something that’s going to benefit your health. I would love for you to let go of losing weight as a motivator. I know it’s going to motivate you healthwise. I know it will be potentially good. I don’t know that, but it’s a good guess. You said, “I am lighter if I lose this weight.” You said, “Hey, now, it’s like I’m getting older and I have an extra weight on my body, there’s more of a risk.”
What I want to say is that may or may not be true. There are plenty of people who science consider overweight who lived to be longer than anybody and as healthy as anybody else, okay? So those are the statistics. If you go and you Google health at every size, health in any size, you’ll find the interesting phenomenon called the obesity paradox, where it’s not always a great predictor of health or un-health. The reason why I say that is because if you are going to weight, you have to approach it, I think, very differently. So I’m not saying lose weight. I’m saying I want you to look at it in a different way. And I think you’re looking at it slightly different and potentially be very beneficial to you.
So I’m going to say again, I’m going to backtrack and explain why. To me, when you keep focusing on health, health, health, health, health, that’s a surface phenomenon at this point when it comes to you and your body. What I want to say to you, and this is just from my experience, if I’m dealing with somebody in their 50s who’s trying to lose weight and they’ve been trying for 30, 40 years, then what I know most of the time, and I think it’s for this time as well, is that we have to do some fundamental shifting that we have done before in order to get the result that we haven’t gotten before. So you want the result that you haven’t gotten before. It makes total sense to me. I’m completely on your side.
Marc: So I say, “Okay, you want a result that you haven’t gotten before. There is a darn good chance that you’ll do something you haven’t done before.”
Marc: Okay. That’s why the first thing I said, “Ha, I’m just hearing a lot about health in relation to your weight.” And 99% of the time that’s a smokescreen for people. It’s a smokescreen because it doesn’t really—we don’t purposely do it, but it doesn’t really drop into the phenomenon of, “Hey, why is this weight not shifting? What’s going on here?” Well, it’s a health issue, I got to do something to get rid of it. That does some of the action is all I’m trying to say. Because if it you for nutrition you would’ve done so already. I don’t know if you can scare yourself doing anything and I don’t know what you would do anyway. If you scared yourself enough, what would you do, not eat? What would you do, access your brains out more like if you scared yourself enough? So none is going to work.
So there’s a level to me where what can work? What can work, again, is you making fundamental shifts. Here’s the fundamental shift I see as kind of on the docket. What you’ve described, I’ve listened to you describe some of your early life, some of your relationship with your mom, what she went through, what’s going on with all that, and what I hear a human, a person, a girl, who’s now a woman, who has basically never learned how to be in her body. Quite honestly, we come into this world and we learn how to be in our body largely from our parents. You come from your mother’s body. We observe our parents. They train us. They feed us. They potty trained us. They do all these things. They teach you how to tie your shoes. Here’s how to be in your body. So you know a lot of basics about how to be in your body but you were never given a solid foundation. Not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just were never given a solid foundation. You’re not confident. And then you get to school and it’s like mayhem.
Marc: You’re not safe as a body. As a person, as a tiny thing, you were not safe. You didn’t get that message.
Marc: So it makes sense that the body isn’t in our control. It means that you just don’t have the operating manual. It doesn’t come natural to you.
Christie: Right. I didn’t get the wiring for that.
Marc: Yeah, yeah, clearly. So your struggle is really, really what the struggle is learning the thing you should’ve learned when you were seven, eight, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, learning that at age 50ish…
Marc: …okay, it’s weird. Just so you know, it’s weird to have to learn that at a later age.
Christie: I agree.
Marc: It’s just weird. It’s not what we want to be doing at this stage of the game. It makes no sense. But that’s what a lot of us have to do. Significant number of humans, you are not alone in this. You are not in a minority either. There’s a sheer number of people who never got those tools, skills, and understanding of how to be in their body. You never felt safe. You never felt comfortable. On top of that, your same-sex parent is always your role model. Like it or not, we’re not thinking it, we’re not conscious of it, same-sex parent equals role model. So I will model after my father. You will model after your mother. Will you take some things from your father? Sure. Will I take something from my mother? Sure. But, overall, we model after our same-sex parent for most people.
So you modeled after your mother. And your mother wasn’t comfortable in her own body at all. Never quite learned to take care of her own self, let alone her kids in that way. So you had a different challenge and with all the challenges of the home environment, finance, your parents’ relationship, all that kind of stuff, which is not easy. That stuff isn’t easy. So you were caught in the crossfire and now here we are. Here we are. So I’m saying you don’t have a health issue. I don’t want you to focus on some imaginary health issue, you’re fine right now.
Marc: Overall, your health is fine. Correct?
Christie: Well, I take medications to kind of keep me leveled. And because I do that and I do that regularly, all my blood work is good. I keep my sugars under control. My cholesterol’s good. So yeah.
Marc: So you’re relatively healthy, all things considered. Here we are, we’re talking, you got energy, you woke up this morning. So all things considered, not so bad.
Christie: Right, right.
Marc: Good situation, not so bad. So let’s ask—let’s see if we can ask some new questions for you. Moving forward from this time and I’m trying to think what those questions might sound like. The question might sound something like what would it look like for me to start inhabiting my body in a way that’s more natural for me. What if I started to embody really now, for the first time, I started doing the thing that obviously would have been best if it was done when I was a young kid?
Marc: Given my upbringing, but what if I started to really give to myself now, what would that look like? Because what I want to say to you is that is the ticket. The ticket is to get the thing that you needed to continue forward in managing one’s body in a good way. So let’s say there’s an essential discomfort that you have about being in your body. There’s an essential discomfort understandably so. Right now, the way you haven’t wired, your belief is that when I lose the weight then the discomfort will be gone.
Christie: Right. That is what I think.
Marc: I know that’s what you think and that’s what I want to unpack with you.
Marc: Because that makes sense what you just said. I just want to let you know, I think that your tact, your approach makes sense but it isn’t the right one.
Marc: Just because it makes sense, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Okay?
Marc: Sounds good, logical sense. But it actually doesn’t play out. A, because you tried it; B, because you’ve done it a long time; C, because it hasn’t worked…
Marc: …D, because I’ve seen this a thousand times.
Marc: ‘Oh my goodness, I have this basic uncomfortability. If I can lose the weight then I will lose the uncomfortability.” Now, I will tell you, you probably know people like this, but there’s a million people who lose weight and they got their ideal weight and they’re as uncomfortable as ever.
Christie: Or more even.
Marc: Or the discomfort is not gone. So losing the weight doesn’t guarantee one will lose the discomfort. And what I want to say to you is if I’m a betting man and I had to bet money, I would bet, if we could zap the weight off your body right now, the discomfort will not be gone because the discomfort is deeper than the weight.
Marc: The discomfort to him, this place is not safe.
Marc: That has nothing to do with weight.
Christie: No, it doesn’t.
Marc: That has everything to do with, “Holy, crap. This place isn’t safe. Parents don’t know how to manage their stuff. Nobody made me a lunch. I get to school and it’s mayhem. I don’t know how to regulate all the crazy things that I see and that I’ve witnessed.” And kids are great observers, poor interpreters but great observers. And as kids, we look around to see all these things and we go, “Whoa!”
Marc: And we’re a little kid so we can’t really do anything about it. So we just have to kind of roll with it. So what’s happening is you have to get current. So you have to get current right now. Here’s what I mean when I say get current. Getting current means you’re getting there. You’re getting there, you’re getting there. You’re there to a great degree, which is, yes, you are the mother to your mother. So what I want to clear with you is this is the universe’s way of putting a period, a punctuation point, an exclamation point on the part of your lifetime. I’m getting a little cosmic here. The universe is putting an exclamation point on the part of your lifetime called you are your mother’s daughter.
Christie: Got it. That’s great news to me.
Christie: I accept the period.
Marc: Yes. Of course, on some level, my parents are both deceased as their child on some level. But I don’t walk around being their child. I walk around being an adult. So there’s a part of you that walks around still as that seven-year-old girl trying to figure out how to get into her body. So whenever you’re resenting your mother, you’re stepping back in time being out of your body and there’s a part of you that’s like, “Damn, you’ve given me this, I didn’t get that, I wish I would have got that. Because if I would have got that, I wouldn’t be in the mess I am right now. Now, look at the mess that you’re in mama because you made those bad decision.”
So what I want you to do is I want you to see her as a child because you’re taking care of her and just move all expectation of needing her to grow, needing her to change, needing her to wake up one day, apologize, understand, get it, make it all right, be different, say something smart, let it go. Just let it go. Let it go, let it go. As best you can, keep letting that go. And I really mean that. And just accept, yeah, this is the stage called I’m taking care of my old parent and I’m the parent. And they can get, humans can get a little more childlike or childish as we get older especially if we haven’t been able to do our work and especially if we’re in physical pain and unease. It’s hard. Because we get so focused on getting old and our disease. So that’s where the energy is going. She doesn’t have a lot of energy for personal growth right now. It’s just not there.
So you’ve just gotta let it go. Just got to let it go and just look at her. This lady who did her best, given the tools she had, she did her best. Do we wish she could’ve been better? Totally. But she totally did her best just as you’ve done your best. And you’ve done a great job. And, to me, what you’ve described your life and your journey, you’re the improvement on her lineage. You’ve been an improvement. You’ve stood on her shoulders and said, “Okay, I’m going to do this better.” And it sounds like you raised a relatively healthy daughter. Does she have challenges? Sure. Do most women have challenges around their body? You bet they do. So all things considered, you have a functional healthy daughter. And so you’ve had some successes here. And now you want to do something different…
Marc: …with your relationship with your body. So what I want to say to you, and it’s interesting because this is coming up a lot lately that I see with women that I’ve been talking in your age group, in 50s and 60s, who if you’re still looking to shape shift your body and if you’re still nothing like you own this and that’s what you want to feel. You want to feel like you’re owning this experience like you can wait. So that’s what you want. Not the discomfort of 70 pounds less but the comfort of going, “I’m okay here. Everything isn’t easy, it’s not always good. But you know something, I got the tools. I got the skills. Oh my goodness, I got a guy who loves me. Oh my goodness, I got a child who loves me. Oh my goodness, I got a successful business. Oh my goodness, I’m taking care of myself all things considered.”
Marc: So I need you to start seeing that you’re not that seven-year-old girl anymore that you do have a winning hand. And we want to build on that winning hand right now. It’s you beginning to have feeling even if it’s that tiny feeling that you belong here and that you can do this. Doing this means you can work today and essentially be okay being here. “Okay, today’s another day. Okay, I don’t have a perfect body. Don’t have the perfect life. Didn’t have the perfect parents. And it’s a beautiful day.” And that’s an adult understanding. Your mother’s not going to tell you that because she can’t. You could tell you that. You’re smart enough and wise enough. So in other words, you be your own mama from here on in. You have to start to mama yourself. Only it has to be like a separate voice that talks to you and catches when you become seven-year-old Christie.
Marc: Because you are operating as all humans operate, we have different voices inside of us. Some voices tend to get the microphone…
Marc: …more than others. And they take over and they like having the microphone. Now, it’s the voice of awareness. Awareness is consciousness, the higher self in me, the you that’s always been there since you’ve been a kid, the one voice that’s always been there is the witness that notices you, that sees you, that looks at you from a higher perspective. That’s the one who I want observing you, like, oh my goodness, here I am dropping into that little kid again in me. Or I’m like I’m not okay being here and I’m waking up.” You literally wake up like that little kid. And it’s a conundrum because you’re not her.
Marc: But you are, but you’re not, but you are. So you wake up and that little girl speaking, it’s like, “I’m not safe today, this is not okay. The world is dangerous. And oh my God, I’ll step outside…” and then you get outside and you have this successful business and at some point you realize you and you’re trying to resolve that.
Marc: Okay. So what I’m saying is we’re going to—I want to make a dialogue that you have in your head that kind of runs the show, we’re just shedding a light on it right now. We’re saying, “Hey this is conversation that’s going on.” Unchecked.
Marc: So now we’re going to check in on it. And now we’re going to have a say in that conversation. Because that conversation runs the show and it keeps you not where you want to go. So you never ever, ever, ever have to ask the question, “Why can’t I get where I want to be? What’s in my way?” Answer? What is in me is this unchecked dialogue, this understandable dialogue, this completely reasonable dialogue between this little girl and me who knew what she needed and the adult in me that kind of has most of what she needs, most.
Marc: And they are both so differently. And one is like, “Oh my God, enough, I’m not okay. This world is not safe. How do I be in this body? What do I do?” Other part of you is like, “Hey, wait a second, it’s like good life, good husband, it’s all good.” And that little girl ends up kind of driving your experience of you as a woman and you as a body. So the adult in you is the business, the adult in you does the mothering.
Marc: The little girl in you does the woman in you.
Christie: Not good. Not good.
Marc: Bingo. No, it’s good when you’re a girl. And it’s good to pull out of your bag of tricks. Yeah, it’s like every once in awhile, cool for Christie to act like a girl. It’s sweet. It’s cute. It’s sexy. It’s wonderful. It’s great. And have that under your control.
Marc: Pull it out of your pocket if you want to as opposed to have it running the show.
Marc: So this is where you step into your adult and you re-parent yourself. What I’m suggesting is the only way—here’s my postulation, the way to get where you want to go is to inhabit your body. Because when we inhabit the body, then we can have a say in what the body does. I’m inhabiting my body so I can choose up my cup or not. I have that facility. A person who has a neurological disease cannot inhabit their body the proper way to pick up the cup, okay, because of a disease condition. A lot of times humans inhabit our body emotionally, energetic in our relationship with food in a way that we can become unempowered just because of our past, the way we were brought up, and all the nonsense that was put into our heads. We don’t know how to inhabit the body so we’re walking around going, “Oh my God, this is not good, I don’t know what to do. I need this. Did I eat too much? Did I eat too little?” So we don’t have a center. There’s no center there.
Marc: So whatever you do with food, it will feel good. Even if you’re late, you still don’t feel like is this going to work. So that’s why I’m saying letting go of weight loss, it’s learning how to inhabit your body so the woman in you starts to feel herself more. So you have to own this body, first and foremost.
Yeah, right? I wish you could’ve seen your…so you got to own this body just like a seven-year-old kind of has to own this seven-year-old body. You want to learn how to jump and own that seven-year-old body that’s trying to jump. You want to learn how to throw a ball, you have to own that body trying to throw a ball. So whatever stage, we are trying to learn at any stage of the game, you have the body that you’re in. This is how we’ve learned. We do not come out the womb all coordinated and such. We come out the womb knowing how to eat when we’re hungry really. Yeah, infants have a certain instinct but you feed them a bunch of junk and just completely confuse your nervous system. So all I’m saying is for you to get where you want to go, you need to own this body, this body that you have right now. You have been trying to get rid of this body for a long time.
Christie: Right, right.
Marc: We haven’t been able to get rid of this body because we need to do the opposite.
Marc: We need to do the opposite of getting rid of the body so I can feel good in my body. We have to own the body because I’m comfortable in this body, then I can make this be more pliable because this is the body we’re stuck with. This is very logical by the way, you have to be in your car to make it go where you want the car to go. You can’t be in the car and go, if I had a Mercedes, it would be there. So I’m just going to stand here and wish my car was a Mercedes.
Marc: No. Drive the car you know, get where you need to go. Own that car. Be a good driver. Understand how it works. And then you get where you need to go. Your life will work and become more comfortable in the car. Then we can learn to look at other cars. But let’s start where we are because that’s the starting point. So we’ve been trying to get rid of this body and change it so it would be acceptable and comfortable. So right now, your woman’s way here is for the mother to accept the child. Would you ever not accept your daughter if she gained 5 pounds? Would you love her less? No.
Christie: Ridiculous, right.
Marc: But you do that to you. You are little less. Well I’ll love you a little more maybe if you lose a little, it’s like ouch that’s very conditional. Sorry, can’t love you. You wouldn’t do that to the people you really say you love. So we want to catch ourselves. We want to catch when you do that. Putting in a lot. So you want to be the good mother who loves your child no matter what. So okay, this is your beautiful body, we want to start to inhabit this.
So when I ask you who you’re going to be when you lose the weight, some of the things you said within the first six responses, some interesting things, you said I’m going to look people more in the eyes. That doesn’t depend on how much anybody’s—
Christie: No it doesn’t.
Marc: No. You could’ve said you’d be more confident. That doesn’t depend on how much you weigh. There are some big, beautiful people out there.
Christie: Right there are.
Marc: Who are very confident.
Christie: I know there are. I’ve been noticing that lately.
Christie: Angela Merkel, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, I mean, wow, they’re just amazing people.
Marc: Thank you. They’re big and they’re beautiful. And they’re not sitting around going what…
Marc: Might they have thoughts? Sure. We all have negative thoughts. We all have self-limiting thoughts. It’s about not letting those thoughts run the show. And you’re at the age—and when I say age, I mean level of wisdom.
Marc: Where you can do this. You can do this. You can rally late in the game. How do I know? Because I’ve seen this. How do I know? Because I’m a good character. And what I’m seeing over here is you’ve got the smarts. You got the wisdom. You just got the right stuff to do this. And what I mean by this is you can actually, at this stage of the game, give yourself the thing that you never got, which is “Honey, Christie, you’re okay. This body is okay. We are going to love this thing until it gets what it needs.” We’re going to love this thing until it gets what’s… So you’re going to love your body to the place that you want to get it to. As opposed to poke it, punch it, prod it, hate it, judge it, upset it, whack it over the head. No, it hasn’t worked.
Marc: So instead and the thing it means, when you go kayaking, you make this body work and you feel how good it feels to be in this body and that. When you’re climbing up that hill, you go “Whoa.” If it’s a grunt then you grunt. If it’s hard, let me tell you something, I’m in pretty good shape and you can find me a lot of hills right now where I am going to be grunting and grunting. And nothing to do with weight. You’re going to grunt and grunt and grunt at any weight. Athletes are doing it all the time. They’re on the TV grunting and groaning. And they’re professional athletes.
Marc: So weighing less is going to not grunt and groan. Are you going to feel lighter in your body? Sure. But you could feel lighter in your body at any moment by not being so heavy. We get heavy here and it makes our emotional body heavy. So our body feels heavy. I watch big-bodied men and women all the time light. It’s fascinating. I think big-bodied people who are so in their body, they are lighter than a skinny person.
Christie: Wow, this light feels heavy. That’s really resonating. It all feels heavy. It feels serious. It feels scary. It feels heavy. It feels like when I get moments of lightheartedness, that’s not usual. Usually, I take things very seriously.
Marc: Yes. Bingo. So what we’re looking to change—this to me is ground zero. And we’ve been around at ground zero, we’ve been using different language. Ground zero is you into this world and learning how to feel is okay. If this life feels heavy it makes perfect sense to me one would have a body that matches that.
Christie: Right, yeah.
Marc: Now, does that mean that everybody whose life is heavy has to have a bigger body? No.
Marc: I’m not saying that. There’s no one-to-one correlation but it makes sense. We will create an experience in the body of what we experience in the world. If I experience the world as terrifying and scary, then I will deal with anxiety. If I experience the world as like tons of fun, then I’m going to have all this excitement in my system.
Marc: If I experience the world as magical, I’m going to feel magic. If I experience the world as heavy, I’m going to feel heavy. And the more we feel something, the more we will embody that feeling. So you lose weight doesn’t make heaviness go away.
Marc: That’s why it has not worked. Because using the wrong tool and technique for the situation. Now, are there certain people who they lose weight and it helps them? Sure. And they don’t have to do any inner work? Sure. It will exist. We’re all different. We’re all at different stages. I don’t care about anybody else right now. I care about you. I care about your journey, your story. So this is about you, I mean, how old you are again?
Marc: Okay. So this is a beautiful age, 51. A woman is officially unique. You’re queen. I want you to be sitting in your throne, 24 hours in a day, at least 23 hours. It doesn’t mean you have to be sitting on a chair but I want you be in your throne meaning I want you to be in your queenhood.
Marc: Be in your queenhood. And what does a queen do? A queen doesn’t sit on the throne. Oprah is not sitting on her throne and go, “Okay, everybody, do you love me and accept me for who I am? Is this body okay? Do I need to lose pounds? Oh, right, if I lose three pounds and then I’m going to be more loved.” No. No. A queen owns herself. A queen owns her body. A queen owns her experience. A queen is proud of who she is. A queen is giving her gift. You could want to lose weight, I got no problem with that. You know you want to shape shift your body. But what I’m saying is the way to do that is to own it and love it and occupy it first. Feel what this body feels like. If you could do that, you will graduate.
Marc: This is a life lesson. This isn’t a small lesson. Life gives us different kinds of lessons in my experience, small, medium, large and everything in between. This to me is one of the larger life lessons that a human faces because we’re age 51 talking about it. So you know, you and I know that, wow, if you could do this, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Christie: Oh yeah.
Marc: Yeah. Okay. It’s different kind of work than you’ve ever done. It’s not pushing harder at exercise. It’s not pushing harder at controlling your—that’s not what this hard work is about.
Marc: This hard work is more inner. It’s catching yourself. This hard work is noticing, “Oh my goodness, the way I came into this world given my upbringing, given my environment is that this isn’t safe. This is a heavy world.” It is perfectly reasonable for you to make that conclusion given your upbringing. Your upbringing and your environment and your parenting gave you the information called this is a heavy world. Your child’s mind looked around and said, “Oh my God, look at my parents, look at what I’m going through, look at all this nonsense, look at what I see around me, heavy world.”
Marc: That is an accurate conclusion based on the input given to you. However, now you know more. Now you know that, yeah, life is hard but life also has this other piece. And you no longer live in your parent’s house but there’s a little part of you that does.
Marc: So right now, in a sense doing, as you’re leaving your parent’s house, truly for the first time. You with me?
Christie: Yeah, I’m with you. Well, I’m with you and I’m not. My brain’s loving this. Like intellectually, I’m like all over this. But I can almost physically, Marc, feel an absence of any substance between the head and this body. So in the last little bit of time that we have together, I’m not quite sure how to be in my body or how to practice that.
Marc: Hundred percent agree. Thank you for saying that. You wouldn’t know how because otherwise you would’ve done it already. So that’s an accurate state and nothing to be ashamed of because you’re never taught how to do it. That’s like, if you’ve never played tennis and you’re telling me how to hit a tennis ball, it’s correct, you don’t. So there’s a lot of things you don’t know how to do that, honestly, you could. Meaning, I don’t know, maybe you don’t know how to speak French. But if I gave you the challenge of learning how to speak French, you’d figure that out.
Christie: Yeah. I would figure that out.
Marc: You would go on…what program do I buy? What do I do? Okay? So you would figure it out. So this is—and I’m going to try to kind of tie a bow around this because we have a few minutes left here. So what it is and I don’t want you to worry about this piece so much. I really mean it. Because it’s everything else we’ve spoken about that’s important I really want you to wrap your head around, which is that you learn how to embody for the first time. And embodying also means treating yourself to realize this world is safe.
So I want you to think of the words trust. I want you to think of the words gratitude. Starting to notice you’ve actually gotten from the world the goodies you’ve gotten from it: husband, daughter, business, life, health, good place to live, full state where you are. Start to notice that. As we take in gratitude, the system relaxes. We feel safer because we’re acknowledging that this world is okay. So instead of fighting the part of you that goes, “Oh my God this is not a safe place,” I want you to acknowledge the place where the world is good.
Marc: Do you see the difference?
Christie: Yes, I do.
Marc: So instead of fighting the part of me that thinks this is not a safe world. Let’s start to acknowledge, “Wait a second how did I end up with a guy that loves me no matter what.”
Marc: Think of how many women you might know that wished they had like that in their life.
Marc: Okay, you have to start absorbing that into your cells. And when you feel that gratitude, you feel it here, you feel it in your whole body. So it’s starting to have a feel in your body. So when you feel gratitude, you feel it in your body, like thank you. You could practice that when you’re lying in bed, how to feel feelings in your body. How to feel grateful for the fact you’ve raised a good daughter. Just like a love like [grunt].
Marc: That feels so good. I did it. All things considered, I did it.
Marc: Trust is looking back on your life and know that despite all the difficulties in all sense, you’ve always been given the light. You didn’t get thrown under.
Marc: Okay, I get there’s been some tragedy in your family. But here you are—it is reasonable that you could begin to trust more that there’s the worst in your life that has been guiding and protecting you, just the difficulties around you.
Christie: Right. That is more than reasonable.
Marc: Trust is a feeling that you feel in your body. Kayaking is something you feel in your body. Walking is something you can feel in your body. So it is inviting your body to feel the feeling that you’re doing in the moment. Simple as that. It’s a practice.
Marc: And instead of judging what is 40 pounds less, this would be much easier. This will feel better. No.
Marc: This is the body that I’m in now. Right now let’s just call you big beautiful woman and like, great, bring in that archetype.
Marc: Like get in touch with a beautiful, black woman. I mean, really, that’s what used to happen here.
Christie: Right, yeah. I hear that. I know exactly what you’re saying.
Marc: No archetype, it is one of the most important archetypes out, I think, for women is the big beautiful woman, the big beautiful woman that is unashamed.
Marc: And unabashed about here it is, take it or leave it. And if you leave it, great, because that crosses you off my list, makes me—don’t waste any time with anybody.
Christie: Right, right.
Marc: And for you, really, it’s also less about other people, it’s more about how they feel about you. It really is. It’s more about you and you feel safe in this world. So this is you really, in a strange way, this is about you being born again.
Christie: This is. I’m with you. We lost our wonderful commentator Gwen Ifill last week, A gorgeous, big, beautiful, black woman that I admire. I felt like she was a sister in some ways, Marc, in that how she carried herself and I can relate to having access to that. I want that for myself.
Marc: Yes. So the way you do that is start practicing it. It is to, in that woman, look at the attributes that you loved and you admired. And you pick out things and you do them. Your behaviors, I don’t care if you fake it until you make it, I mean that.
Marc: Act it out, try it out. Try. Put on the costume. You actually do those behaviors. You act like that person. You got to try it on. So this is about you being born again. And born again means you are choosing, for the first time, to live in a world that is safe for you, because it is. As you change to see that, this then has a different experience, you inhabit your body. Letting your body know, “Okay, it’s safe now.” When you let your body know it’s safe then your body can feel more. Because you’re not safe, they don’t always like to feel because feelings can be very harmful, difficult, challenging.
Marc: So your body needs to learn how to feel. As your body learns how to feel, then your body is more free. Your metabolism becomes more free. There’s a beautiful mind-body connection that we really don’t have the exact science down but I could tell you I see it again when people have the internal shift, the internal character shift. That’s what’s up for you. This isn’t what our body needs, who’s trying to lose weight, at all. But this is what I see for you given where you’re at, your stage of life, is you are learning now to live in a world that’s safe. But you have to gather the evidence and you have to prove it and then you have to practice living as if the world’s safe and it’s okay. And you have to base it on all your past experiences. You have to look at your past experiences and start to bless it. You have to look at your past experience and see the positives where you’ve been taken care of despite all the nonsense.
Marc: And then when you wake in the morning, maybe you have an affirmation or a mantra that you say to yourself. Maybe you have a song that you play first thing. I just want to get different input in your brain in the morning somehow.
Christie: Yes. I think that’s really important.
Marc: I want you to think of the most positive, happy-about-the-world song that you know that would make sense for you to play, “Oh wow this song would make me feel good about life and the day.” Think what that song or songs would be, this is a homework/assignment, or think to yourself what would an affirmation be for you, positive affirmation, a positive statement that just waits for you. Something to the effect of teaching my life and living in a world that’s safe. Today, I’m going to gather evidence to live in a world that’s safe and that’s on my side. Can you gather evidence of a mean world? Sure. There are tons of evidence for that, there is. There’s also evidence that it’s a safe world.
Marc: It’s a paradox. So you’re learning how to discover the safe world for yourself so then the body could feel more safe. Now, would it be great for you to have a coach in this? Absolutely. It would be wonderful. Our graduate directory for the Institute of the Psychology of Eating, all kinds of coaches around this, somebody can just be a support system for you, a cheerleader. That would be great. And really, a cheerleader for you, it’s really about cheerleading you about being in your body and being positive. That’s all it is.
Marc: So how was the conversation? You and I will get to have a follow-up session in a few months. Christie, this was a lot. This was a lot. This was a lot.
Christie: It was. It was a lot.
Marc: So I went for the big punch line here. And this is, if we were working together for five months, we wouldn’t have gotten to this place after five months. So this is kind of like climbing a mountain but like on a motorcycle, like really fast and it’s a little bit bumpy and rocky. But what I want to say is I think you have a good roadmap, I really do. And I think you have all the tools, you come ready and locked and loaded again with the wisdom to get where you need to go right now. So you’re going to mother yourself and you’ll be the good mother.
Christie: Okay. I feel excited. I’ve heard some really, really new things. My brain is really just on fire right now. And it’ll be interesting to see how these pieces drop into place. And I’m excited to get into practice.
Christie: Yeah. Absolutely.
Marc: I’m so glad for you. Great job. Great work. Thanks for hanging in there. Thanks for being so open and real about your journey. I think this is going to definitely serve a lot of people.
Christie: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity and I look forward to our follow-up time.
Marc: Me too, Christie. Thank you so much.
Christie: Thank you.
Marc: And thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Once again, I’m Marc David. On behalf of Psychology of Eating Podcast, always more to come, my friends, take care.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
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