As you get older, your body responds to changing circumstances with changing chemical processes. Some of these changes, such as the ones that affect our hormones or our waistline, are not exactly welcome. So what can we do to counter these effects of aging? In this episode, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are once again joined by author Joan Lunden for an in-depth discussion on how to counteract aging processes.
For more info on Joan’s new book “Why Did I Come Into this Room?’ visit https://www.amazon.com/Why-Come-into-This-Room/dp/1948677296
Dr Daniel Amen :
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.
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 amenclinics.com.
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 brainmd.com.
Welcome back. We are here this week with Joan Lunden, who needs very little introduction for almost anyone in the world. We are just profoundly honored to have Joan Lunden with us. And we’re talking about her book, Why Did I Come Into This Room? which so many of our listeners, actually that’s why they listened to us, right? They want better brains.
Dr Daniel Amen : That’s why they come see.
Tana Amen : That’s why they come see us exactly. They forgot where their keys are. They left them in the refrigerator. And we’re just having such a great talk about… Really sort of what we’re talking about is eternal value. Why do… On the last podcast we talked about, how do you want to be seen at the end of your life? And it just, it brought up a funny memory. We’re talking about, we actually talk about that. What do we want at our funeral?
Which, I also want to be cremated. I love what you said. Cause it’s like your last chance to have a smoking hot body. Daniel talked to me about the music he wants played, and he wants when the saints come marching in. And I’m like, I do not want anything sad at my funeral. I want them to just rock out to Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses. I mean, I want them to go crazy and party, and tell the funniest stories about me they can think of. I do not want it to be-
Dr Daniel Amen : And we have funny stories.
Tana Amen : But really I do want to feel like I lived a life of purpose, like you’re saying. Like what did I do to help? What did I do to make the world a better place while I was on the planet? But also I don’t want people to just be sad and down and… No! Like have a good time celebrate my life.
So it’s just a really good exercise, I think. It’s really great. So welcome back.
Joan Lunden : You know that at the end of the book, I said… We’ve all heard the poem, The Dash. And the dash represents what you did with your life, between your birth and your death. That’s the dash. You can work on that dash, all on day in and day out. You get the opportunity to work on that dash. And then something’s usually said on your tombstone and my… I ended the book by saying, I wouldn’t mind if mine said she was classy, sassy and a bit bad assy.
Tana Amen : Yeah, exactly. Yes.
Dr Daniel Amen : Well you guys should be [crosstalk [00:00:03]:00], that’s exactly how I described her.
Joan Lunden : Well, my husband always says… Of course the funny thing he says is, “not that I’m looking forward to it anytime soon, honey. But when they do your autopsy, I want to be there to see what that little chip is that you have inside you, that the rest of us don’t”. Because, I’m the only person that says yes to everything. If you were going to take a page out of the Joan Lunden playbook, it is, if someone asks you, if you can do something or if you want to do something, just say yes. And then [inaudible [00:03:34] how to do them. I mean, don’t pass up the opportunity. I’ve had people say to me, “wow, you’ve had such an amazing life. You’re so lucky”. I said, that’s not luck. It’s like listening and being… Dreaming and pursuing. And when, I mean, I did a show called behind closed doors and I jumped out of a plane with the Golden Knights and I jumped with a 101st Airborne and I took the Island of Bay house with the Navy seals.
I did all this crazy things. I flew with tell U-2 spy plane at 85,000 feet. Do you really think that I was, as I got on the plane to go to that spot that I said, ah, I’m not fearful, I got this completely? No way. I would go out and say, am I really going to do this? [crosstalk [00:04:24] Like halfway through, should I tell him at this point that I can’t do this? No, you’ve got this crew here. You’ve pounded the pavement at the Pentagon to get this story. Now, live it and experience it. And that’s how you end up with a fun, exciting life.
Tana Amen : Oh, absolutely. And it wasn’t luck. You’re absolutely right. You couldn’t like wish it into being, you made it happen. And so that’s just a really important point that I think, it’s like when people say, well, I’m going to have positive thing myself into having no weeds in my garden.
No, you got to go pull the weeds. So you have to make it happen. So it’s not luck.
Joan Lunden : And don’t you think that as soon as you take that dream or that hope, and you write it down, well now it’s a goal.
Tana Amen : Yes. It becomes possible because, your brain doesn’t have a sense of humor.
Joan Lunden : Yes.
Dr Daniel Amen : When you wrote, Why Did I Come Into This Room? What surprised you? Was there anything that you went, wow?
Joan Lunden : Yes. There were a few things. One of the annoying things that happens to women, especially is that your waistline, like somehow you’re like 55. And you say, wait a minute, swear to God, I did not eat that many Tostino’s last year. I did not. Well, as a matter of fact, when you’re, when a female’s body goes through… And this is why we experienced so many other kinds of changes through aging than men, because that estrogen level is going down. And that our estrogen and our insulin has done that nice little dance our whole life and all of a sudden, it’s not there to dance with anymore. And one of the things that happens is when there is no more estrogen there… For your whole life, your body has been in preparation for childbearing. So it’s had extra fat cells on your hips and your thighs, so that at any point in time, if your belly started growing, you would be balanced.
Well, now all of a sudden our body’s really smart. And when our body says, wait, there’s no more estrogen. That means she’s not going to get pregnant again, so she doesn’t need those there. And it makes those fat cells migrate to your abdomen. So you are right, you did eat the same and exercise the same and still get the expanding waistline. And I had no idea that happened. That was… To me, that was almost like enlightening and a little bit empowering because I didn’t have to blame myself for doing something. But at the same time, any weight above your belly button is the most dangerous weight. Any weight there that it can get into your organs and be close to your heart. And another thing I learned was one of the top predictors of type two diabetes and heart disease is your waist measurement. Now, I don’t know about you. Have you ever had a doctor, when you went in for an appointment, take out a tape measure and measure your waist? I’ve yet to find a person to tell me that a doctor has measured their waist. A Tailor has measured my waist.
So I immediately ran out, bought one of those little soft things and put it around my waist. And if you’re a woman, it shouldn’t be over 35 and if you’re a man, it shouldn’t be over 40. And if it is the good news is that if you lose about eight to 10 pounds, you can reduce your waist circumference by about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half. So the good news is “A” you learn why your body morphed like it did. So don’t beat yourself up over that. But then you learn how important this one little measurement is that nobody told us about. And then you learn what you can do about it. That was what I wanted to do in the book. And I wanted to be a conversation starter. Because, we all overshare on social media with such detail in our life.
That it’s ridiculous. So why should things like leaky bladder or loss of libido or inability to stay asleep at night. Why should these things be such taboo subjects? We need to be all talking about them. Because when we’re not, what happens is every woman starts to experience these things. And if they don’t realize that they’re natural biological things that are going to happen to every woman. They start to have this, Oh my gosh, I’m getting old. I’m breaking down. I’m not as appealing, I’m not sexy. I’m not… And that, then that goes to, I’m not as relevant and I can’t do things anymore. And it’s a terrible path to go down.
Tana Amen : What’s my purpose?
Joan Lunden : What’s my purpose? And so-
Dr Daniel Amen : Where they got loaded with the ANTs, the automatic negative thoughts [crosstalk [00:00:09]:10]. That, yeah when estrogen goes lower, the ANT population goes up.
Tana Amen : Yes so much happens. That just started happening to me, not that long ago. And I’m sort of late going into it actually. But am like wait, why do I just have no drive? Like my drive… I’ve always been highly driven. I mean, I’ve got like two different black belts in two different arts and all of a sudden I’m like, eh like whatever. But so I have to push myself. And like you said, everything just begins to change, so.
Dr Daniel Amen : And getting that tape measure. So I actually measure everybody’s waist. Because [crosstalk [00:09:49] and they lie to you. Cause the go, Oh, well my waste is 26. And I’m like, okay. And then I’ll like, go, well, that’s not actually, the tape measure says 34. Or I did one really well known pastor. He’s like, Oh, it’s 40. And I’m like it’s 48. You’re four feet around. [crosstalk [00:10:13]
You’ll need important. Waist to height ratio is actually more important than your BMI or your Body Mass Index. And with COVID-19 because of the chronic stress, most people are experiencing. Even if your weight is the same, your waistline is often expanding. And so it’s a time to be thoughtful and careful
Tana Amen : They’re calling, COVID-19 sort of like freshmen 15. [inaudible [00:10:44]-
Joan Lunden : Women all the time on Facebook. And so then that, then that stresses them out.
Tana Amen : Right.
Joan Lunden : So I kind of feel like I have to be that annoying little nap. That’s there all the time to all the women following me. That’s going to say, okay, I don’t mean to be annoying again, but all you need to do, like even just go outside and walk and let that sunshine. Sleep at night, get the sunshine in the morning, so that you like get your clock back on schedule. And they, I think women especially just really need that motivation. And I mean, and obviously I can only speak for women.
Dr Daniel Amen : So we’re alike in many ways. Cause I often say, I want to be the little voice in your head that helps you do the right thing. And when people email me or text me and said, when I went to make that decision, I heard you say, “make one decision, not 30”. Like they’re going to buy the ice cream at the store. It’s like, well then you’re going to make 30 decisions not to, or to eat it. So, better to make that one lever decision. What was the intention behind writing, Why Did I Come Into This Room?
Joan Lunden : You know, I had been working on a book for a few years because everybody always used to say, how do you stay so, young and vibrant looking. I thought, so that’s the book I should write. Live younger, longer. And it just wasn’t getting me. And then finally I said, it’s not a matter of living younger longer. It’s a matter of living the most vital. Your life with vitality and energy and passion and effervescence at each point of your life. So I said, I need to write a book about aging. Many, many years ago, I’d written like three books and they’d all been bestsellers. And a publisher came to me and said, “alright, we want you to write another book”. And I remember I went to my agent, my book agent, and I said, when you finish a book, you feel like you kind of just squeezed every last thought out of your brain and you have nothing else to say for a while.
I don’t even know what I want to write about next. Then he said you, should always, you will always write about that which you want to know more about. And he was so right. And if I always just keep that perspective and say like, unlike a lot of the women out there that follow me, so what do we want to know about? And the obvious answer was we wanted to know about the aging process. The more to me, knowledge is power. And so I wanted to give them the knowledge. I wanted and I, so then I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And as soon as I figured out what it was, I mean it just came pouring out of my brain onto the page. And I knew what experts to go to. And I have a wonderful friend who works with me and I would let her see it.
And then she kept saying why? Where’s the evidence for this? So I like dig a little farther, but I think that the thing that bothers us the most of all the things that happen to you as you age, as a man or a woman is, when you start not being able to remember things. And that’s why I chose… And my husband says, you can’t call this, Why Did I Come Into This Room? Even when I went to take the picture, you’ll know that I didn’t take a beauty picture. I was like, what!
Tana Amen : But you’re still beautiful.
Joan Lunden : And so, because I wanted it to really speak to people, like I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned. And this is the most worrisome, but I was also happy to learn that when most people say that, Why Did I Come Into This Room? And then of course the first thing, when you’re… When you’re 20, you don’t think anything of it, but when you’re 50 or 60, you think, Oh, is this the beginning of something bad? And most of the time, it’s not. Most of the time as doctor will tell us, it’s just natural aging. But there again, we can do something about that.
Dr Daniel Amen : I’m not a fan of natural aging. I’m fighting it every step of the way. When we come back, we’re going to talk about memory. And what are the things you can do to enhance your memory.
Tana Amen : So please post. If you learned anything, we want to know what you’ve learned. We want to hear your questions, your comments. We would love to get a review from you at brainwarriorswaypodcast.com and be sure to pick up a copy of Joan Lunden’s book at any major outlet, where you can buy books. Why Did I Come Into This Room? And we’re just having so much fun talking about this. And we will be back.
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