The Art Of Self-Accountability, with Joan Lunden

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In this fourth and final episode in series with “Why Did I Come Into This Room?” author Joan Lunden, she and the Amens discuss some practical tips to keep your brain and body strong as you get older. Tactics such as scheduling appointments for yourself and reframing the actions in your life that are important to you can get amazing results and totally change the way you think and feel.

For more info on Joan’s new book “Why Did I Come Into this Room?’ visit

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Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to the Brain Warrior’s Way podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel. Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to

Welcome back. We are here still with the beautiful, ever beautiful Joan London, and we’re talking about her book, Why Did I Come into This Room? We are having so much fun. So we would love for you to post what you have learned, what you want to learn, what your questions are, your concerns. What’s been concerning you about aging? Are you having trouble with remembering why you came into a room? Post it, tag us, go to brainwarrior’ Leave us a review. We would be ever so grateful. In fact, we will enter you into a drawing for either my cookbook or Daniel’s book, The End of Mental Illness, whichever you choose, but we’re just having such a great time. And I have to just tell you, Joan, you are magnificent. You’re just so much fun. And you are just so vital. I mean, obviously whatever you’re doing, I’m glad you put it in a book because you’re just amazing.

Joan Lunden :                   Well, I remember when I was writing one of my first books, I had gone through this transformation from 39 to 40. I decided one day… well, actually I remember we had a representative from the American Heart Association. On the show, and they had this little quiz. And so I was… we were going through all the questions in the quiz for people in the audience to assess their risk for cardiovascular disease. And I’m inactive, eating the wrong things. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m failing this test.” And it was almost like… it’s funny because it was the AHA. It was my aha moment. It truly was. And I said to myself in that moment, what do I want to be in 20 years? I want to… I don’t want to be watching from the sidelines.

I want to be in the race. I still want to be vital. I still want to be fit. I want to be in charge of my life. And I literally made a decision, and I took it on as almost another job. I think that that… but what comes out of that is that you can’t just let all these good things that we’re talking about just maybe happen. Make appointments with yourself. I make appointments. I make sure I know when my workouts are. I get up in the morning and I put on… I tend to like to work out better in the morning. I think there’s a science behind that as well, but I’ll put my workout clothes on. I’m way more inclined to work out if I’m in the clothes and my clothes are saying to me-

Tana Amen :                     I love that.

Joan Lunden :                   “Weren’t are you supposed to go work out? Because what you’re wearing says so.” And I make appointments with myself to do things. I make up an appointment with myself to clean out a desk. How about that one? I shared that one on Facebook and then I really had to do it. But if you make appointments with yourself, I think that then… and then look at them and say, “This is just as important as an important business meeting.” Give them some credence, give them some importance, and then go to your appointments. And after a couple of days of doing that… I do that even like water. I just was a bad water drinker, and it’s incredibly vital, not… for how our body works, for how our brain works, for everything.

And so I remember a fitness trainer of mine, she gave me these 10 little thin rubber bracelets that you get on Oriental Trading. She said, “Put these on in the morning, and I want them all on the other arm by the time you go to bed, because you’re not being honest with yourself. You say, ‘Have I had enough to drink today? Oh, I think so.’ Uh-uh (negative) Like maybe a glass of water?” So now I have… I had credit… I had to have accountability with myself. I learned really fast. You better have half of the load there by about one or two o’clock. Because if you try to move them all over at six o’clock at night, you’re going to be up all night. But there’s so much that if you learn how your body works and you understand it and you understand that are you really waking up at three o’clock in the morning to pee? Maybe not. Maybe you’re waking up at three o’clock in the morning because that’s the time that your thyroid has its chance to do all of its replenishing.

And it can’t because you’ve been stressed out all day long, and I forget what it needs to run, but in order to do that, it has to create adrenaline. And that creation of adrenaline, that’s what’s waking you up, and then you’re awake and then you have to go pee. Instead, find ways to manage your stress. And don’t just power your thyroid with bad fats and sugars. Be nice to it. I literally, you know how they say to plants? Now I could talk to a plant and it’ll still die. But Marie Kondo, who wrote the book that says how to organize your whole house and you’ve talked to your underwear. And I thought she was such a cuckoo. And then I thought, well, wait a second. Let me see if it works. I started going around the house and I’d say, “Do I use that anymore? Not really. I haven’t used it for the last three years.” And then she says, “Thank it for its service and then get rid of it.” Because clutter clutters up your brain.

So, I just found that if I had all… if I started telling myself and talking to myself, and I literally, sometimes when I’m having my warm water with lemon in the morning, when I get up before coffee or anything else I’m saying, “I’m being nice to you, thyroid. I’m being nice to you. I’m massaging you. I’m giving you a good start to your day.” I mean, it just… it’s like what you always say, Dr. Amen, it’s bringing… if you’re saying it, it brings your consciousness there. And so you live your life throughout the day, not wanting to clog up your thyroid. And I just found that by starting to put my attention to some of my… even my organs in my body and say, “I want them to work properly.” And I think it helps you. It helps you, whether you say, “Yes” to that chocolate sundae after dinner. It helps you when you say, “Yes. I want the broccoli because I know that that’s one of the things that can help my longevity and help my health.” So it’s just kind of getting your head in the right place.

Dr Daniel Amen :             But ultimately it’s about love. [crosstalk [00:07:15]. It’s about love. You’re doing the right things because you love yourself. You love your husband, you love your children, you love the mission. And choosing the wrong thing, it’s short term happiness, but long term trouble. And both of you had cancer, so you know what it’s like to come face to face with your mortality and it’s not what you want, right?

And so we all have to make trade offs, right? I love rocky road ice cream, but it doesn’t love me back. In fact, it’s… I used to be in an abusive relationship with rocky road ice cream, and I’m just… I’m not going to do it. I’m going to break. I was in a marriage that was terrible for 20 years and I’m not doing that again. And I’m damn sure not doing it with food, right? I have someone I adore who adores me back. So I’m really blessed, but you have to work on it, in order to have a great relationship. You have to work on it to have that relationship with your own body. And it’s ultimately… it’s not deprivation. When you miss, “Oh, I can’t have all this alcohol or I can have these doughnuts.” It’s just the wrong mindset. It’s, “I get to have the broccoli because it gives me what I want, which is energy.”

Joan Lunden :                   And the cupcake, or the doughnut, or whatever is depriving me of what, which is my mission. And you, you talked about this amazing life.

Tana Amen :                     Yeah.

Joan Lunden :                   It’s this that would deprive me if I feel tired or sick or if I just don’t have the energy and the vitality to maintain, to be able to do all these things. It’s deprivation.

Dr Daniel Amen :             And then to live it, you actually have to give it. And by you writing Why did I Come into This Room? it just reinforces I don’t want dementia, like my mom got. And I always say, if you knew a train was going to hit you, would you get out of the way? And people don’t really understand that Alzheimer’s is not something that just happens to you. You often invited it into your life by how you lived, by what you ate, by the toxins you put into your body. And it’s something we have way more control over. And it’s also why we’re never going to get one medicine to fix Alzheimer’s because it’s not one thing. There’s not one road to it.

Joan Lunden :                   I never realized before I got breast cancer, that it’s not one disease. It’s a lot of different diseases. And that’s why, now, they’ve come to learn that by what’s… it’s kind of personalized medicine. But it’s finding out now we can actually test the tumor and find out which medicines will work and which won’t work. And those are advances that have even come about since I was diagnosed, and I was diagnosed… I’ve now been… I was diagnosed six years ago. And I had a very fast growing cancer. So fortunately, I now know that I’ll never… that cancer isn’t coming back. If it would’ve, it would’ve. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still get another kind of cancer. So we always have to be just really doing everything that we can to make sure that we don’t get ourselves in a situation where we put ourselves at risk for cardiovascular disease or anything, any other chronic illness. IC

Dr Daniel Amen :             Did you see the American Cancer Society come out with a position against alcohol? I was so impressed because usually societies like that don’t take really big positions, but they’re like, “Any drinking is a risk factor for cancer.”

Joan Lunden :                   Well, if you look at… there’s a wonderful book called the Blue Zones by a guy named Dan Buettner, and he wrote another one that I loved, Thriving in the Blue Zones, but he got a grant from the World Health Organization to go out into the world and find out what populations lived exponentially longer. And he identified five. One of them is Loma Linda, California.

Tana Amen :                     That’s where I went to school.

Joan Lunden :                   Did you go to Linda university?

Tana Amen :                     Yeah.

Joan Lunden :                   Oh my dad-

Tana Amen :                     I worked there. I worked at the university medical center for a year.

Joan Lunden :                   I gave the commencement address there to the [inaudible [00:12:09] medical school about five years ago on the 75th anniversary of my father getting his medical degree there.

Tana Amen :                     Oh, that’s fantastic.

Joan Lunden :                   [inaudible [00:12:18] The best job offer I ever had. I loved doing that, but why is that one of the blue zones in the world, that one little place?

Tana Amen :                     Where it’s smoggier than anywhere, right?

Joan Lunden :                   But we know why. It’s because of what they eat. They’re vegetarians. It’s because they don’t smoke, they don’t drink, they don’t do drugs, they don’t have-

Tana Amen :                     Like of temperance.

Joan Lunden :                   It’s a life of not always skirting the edges. And when you do that, you don’t have as much stress and you sleep better. They live a life that lets them live exponentially longer than the rest of the population. And we can learn from that.

Tana Amen :                     I have to tell you, I love that you brought that up because when I worked at the medical center… so I’m not Seventh-day Adventists, but I went to school there. And so at first I was thinking, “What am I getting myself into?” I had no idea because I had heard they don’t drink caffeine, they don’t eat meat. And I’m like, “What are you out of your mind?” So I used to show up to school with my Thermos thing full of caffeine. And I’m like, “Yeah. This is not going to work.” But there’s nowhere in that town, at that time, you could buy coffee. I’m sure now you can, but I’m like, “That ain’t going to work for me.” So these long days doing clinicals? No, that’s not [inaudible [00:13:30]. So then I started working at the medical center and… but keep in mind, I also had cancer.

I wasn’t all that healthy. I was a really unhealthy kid, really unhealthy. So I started working at the medical center, and I’m working in the unit that is… we have basically the sickest people in the hospital. It was neurosurgical ICU and trauma. And so we would get the overflow though from the medical ICU, occasionally. And I started seeing these 95 year old, 103 year old Seventh-day Adventists come in, sometimes from their first medical incidents, with no medications or maybe one medication that they were on. And I was like… and they’d have no lines on their face.

And I’m like, “That’s just creepy.” It’s weird. What’s happening here? It was so odd to me to see these people look… and maybe they came in because they were in an accident or they finally had something happen at 103. But I was like, “What is… this is odd. This is weird to see.” And that’s when it struck me because all through school, I kept hearing about this life of temperance. We don’t live a life of temperance, where everything’s balanced and we don’t eat meat, and we meditate, we pray, we walk, we do all this stuff, and we don’t drink alcohol. And I’m like, “That’s just odd.” And then all of a sudden it struck me. Duh, that’s why these people are living to 103.

Joan Lunden :                   And they found that in a lot of the other places are (something), and some of the other places that were found to be blue zones, it wasn’t just that they ate… a lot of them ate Mediterranean style, if you will, that kind of diet, and that they walked instead of taking a car, It was also because they were a community.

Tana Amen :                     Family.

Joan Lunden :                   Safety and comfort and love, belonging to a community. They were involved in the church. They had a real sense of family. They always ate together at night and talked, and they didn’t live this fast-pace, we don’t have anybody home at the same time night because this one’s got football practice, this one’s got tennis practice, and this one’s got this. They all came together. And there was this time that they smiled and talked about their day. That’s one of the… those are some of the differences. It’s not just because of what they ate.

Dr Daniel Amen :             Well, one of the blessings from the pandemic for so many families is they’re not running like crazy as they did before, and they have more bonding-

Tana Amen :                     I’ve never felt more rested.

Dr Daniel Amen :             … with their loved ones. Joan, what a joy.

Joan Lunden :                   So, so wonderful.

Dr Daniel Amen :             Thank you so much for being on the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. If you learned anything, hopefully some great things, write them down and post them on any of your social media sites. We would love for you to go to brainwarrior’ and write us a review or questions. We’re going to spend time answering questions, and we’ll enter you into a drawing to win the Brain Warrior’s Way cookbook, tennis, great cookbook, which you should send to Joan-

Tana Amen :                     I should.

Dr Daniel Amen :             … and also the end of mental illness. Joan, thank you so much.

Tana Amen :                     Such a pleasure. Such an honor.

Joan Lunden :                   It was absolutely my pleasure. Thanks.

Tana Amen :                     If you’re enjoying the Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD: If you’re considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code podcast 10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 855-978-1363.