Transcript – Episode 36

Fred Dunayer: Welcome to the Score Small Business Success Podcast … Been There, Done That. To get free mentoring services as well as to see the wide variety of resources available for small businesses, visit our website at:, or call 1-800-634-0245. Now, here’s your host, Dennis Zink.


Dennis Zink: Episode number 36 … Living Thin and Stress-free. Joining me in our studio today is Fred Dunayer, our co-host, Score mentor and audio engineer. Good morning, Fred.


Fred Dunayer: Good morning, Dennis.


Dennis Zink: Our guest today is Sylvia Goldman. Sylvia is a most unusual entrepreneur. At 97, yes, you heard that right, 97, Sylvia Goldman has published a book called, “Living Thin … An Attitude, Not a Diet.” Sylvia also produced a DVD titled, “Aging with Style.” She’s created a website,, and has a weight-loss program that actually works. Sylvia has hundreds of testimonials, and she has been endorsed by prominent physicians, psychiatrists, nutritionists and other notables. Sylvia, welcome to Been There, Done That.


Sylvia Goldman: Thank you.


Dennis Zink: Your program is a lot more than just losing weight. What is the Living Thin program all about?


Sylvia Goldman: Living Thin and Stress-Free, is a two-for-one package. A two-for-one package, it’s about weight-loss, and it’s about managing your stress. It’s a nine-week lifestyle program that gives you the skills, shows you how to have the self-confidence to take it off and keep it off, even more important. We all know how to take it off but keeping it off is the trick.


You’ll learn in just 9 weeks and less that you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods. You don’t have to feel deprived. You can even have a cocktail every night. I do, even though I’m 97. Believe me, that cocktail is important to me. What you’re really learning is that you can have it all, you just can’t have it all the time. The most important part of the program is learning how to manage the stress, and for many people that stress will cause you to nibble and nosh, when you’re not even hungry, so you’re getting a two-for-one package.


Dennis Zink: Sylvia, how is your program different from the other weight-loss programs out there?


Sylvia Goldman: Living Thin is absolutely not a diet. I don’t believe in diets. I don’t believe in pills. I don’t believe in gimmicks of any kind. What are you going to do when you stop taking the gimmick or the pill? So many of you have taken pills and gimmicks, and I know darn well you’ve gained it all back. I’m vigorously opposed to it. Your brother’s having … going to a wedding and you’re overweight so you don’t care about giving up food for a few weeks because you want to look good at the wedding. You don’t even realize nobody’s going to even look at you at the wedding. They’re looking at your brother, but that’s another story.


Another reason, and the most important reason of all is diets make you fat. How do diets make me fat? Because when you go on a diet you restrict your calories severely and that slows down your metabolism. When you go back to your old eating habits you start gaining more quickly. You think it’s your age. It’s not your age, it’s the diet you’ve been on. If the people who are selling you diets were as concerned about your health as they all are about making money we’d all be better off.


Dennis Zink: Why did you get involved with this program?


Sylvia Goldman: Oh, thanks for asking that question. How did I get involved? As a teenager, I was very fat. Being 97, that was a few years ago. I was not only fat, I discovered that boys didn’t like fat girls, so I began dieting and that went on for years. Sound familiar? Finally, I married, and my husband felt sorry for me so he took me to the best spas in the country where I always lost weight, eating delicious food. You can’t beat that. I always lost weight eating delicious food and guess what? Sometimes it took six weeks, sometimes it took six months but I always gained it back. What I really learned, because I’m a slow learner, I finally learned that they were more interested in my pocketbook than they were in my health. Eventually, I met a brilliant dietitian. She taught me what weight-loss was about and how easy it could be, if you’re willing to work at it, naturally. When I learned, finally, after all those years, I wanted to share it with others. That’s how I got involved.


Dennis Zink: Interesting. You have 100’s of endorsements, I was reading them before we met today, and what do you attribute that to?


Sylvia Goldman: First of all, I want to express my gratitude for having had the pleasure to be working with so many fascinating people. I think the reason I got so many wonderful endorsements is the fact that many of these people were on diets, just as I was for many years. When they finally got the answer they were relieved, they were appreciative, but even more important, they didn’t expect to learn about reducing their stress.


That was a bonus, that was an extra package. It was not only a package that helped them keep their weight off. There’s no way you’re going to keep your weight off if you are suffering from too much stress. Let me … I can guarantee that. They were very grateful, and they found that what they had learned in the Living Thin Program, helped them in every aspect of their life. Not just in weight loss. It was the rational thinking component.


Dennis Zink: Rational thinking component. Okay, so I’ve read your book and I’m assuming that has to do with Dr. Albert Ellis, could you explain who he is and how that influenced you?


Sylvia Goldman: When I began teaching I didn’t have too much success, and when I analyzed it I realized that so many people were gaining weight because they weren’t managing their stress. As I said a moment ago, if you’re having too much stress … a little is normal, and natural, but when you’re having too much there’s no way you’re going to stop eating, or cut back on your eating habits. I wanted to find the most important person I could on helping with that topic. How to manage your stress, and what I found out and this was a long time ago, remember I’ve been teaching for over thirty years. I found out that the most important person in that area was Dr. Albert Ellis who started a program in 1955, which he called RET. Rational Emotive Therapy.


In spite of the fact that his co-psychologist not only admired and respected him but made him president of their organizations. In spite of that, he rejected conventional therapy. He said it takes too long and, besides, it doesn’t work. Rational emotive therapy can be summed up in one sentence. What Ellis is telling us … that it’s not what happens that upsets you it’s what you choose to tell yourself about it. It’s your attitude, so that’s what rational emotive therapy is really all about. It’s about your attitude. Ellis was considered to be one of the two most important psychologists in the 20th Century. His work is respected and taught all over the world. As recently as a year ago I learned that it’s even being taught to the children in the school system, because once you learn that it helps you in every part of your life.


Dennis Zink: Speaking of the school system you were involved in the Baltimore School System, weren’t you? Didn’t you have a school there?


Sylvia Goldman: Actually, I was a high school dropout, and I did manage to get my high school equivalency. I was in my early 40’s and I was discouraged from going back to school. I was encouraged to just keep learning. During this period I fell in love with learning, so instead of going back to school for degrees, which I would have done if I’d been younger … instead of doing that, I decided to start my own school and because I was so in love with learning, I wanted to help others. I actually got approval from the Maryland State Board of Education. My school was called, Adventures in Learning. What I would do is find outstanding teachers, outstanding instructors, and collaborate with them. I’d tell them that what we all want to learn is that we really don’t care about their degrees. I’d say let your wife and let your family be happy with the degree. We’re interested in the topic, and that’s what we should be doing in our entire system.


Dennis Zink: Wow, that’s interesting. Why is the program so successful? Is it a personalized program?


Sylvia Goldman: Of course, it’s entirely personalized, because what works for Mary won’t work for Margaret. Everybody develops the confidence to make his or her own choices.


Dennis Zink: What’s the problem in our society? People are being heavier and heavier. What’s the reason for that?


Sylvia Goldman: There is a reason for it. First of all, a lot of it has to do with the food we’re eating. As I said earlier, if the people who have diet programs were interested in your health, then they would be encouraging you to learn about … you have to learn what to eat. Much of the food we’re eating is filled with toxic chemicals. These toxic chemicals are not regulated. They are not government-regulated. They’re articles being written in the New York Times about this topic. Those toxic chemicals will not only make you fat they’ll make you sick. If you’re not educated, and you don’t know what you’re eating, and you don’t have time to find out, you’re going to get old and fat.


Dennis Zink: Sylvia, in your book you discuss, “Stinking thinking,” can you explain that?


Sylvia Goldman: Yes, stinking thinking, it all comes from Dr. Ellis’ work. Stinking thinking is simply another way of talking about your attitude. If you have a rotten attitude, if you say dumb things like, “I can’t stand this. I think it’s terrible,” instead of saying “It’s disappointing.” Can you hear the difference between feeling disappointed and feeling horrible? It teaches you the essence of Ellis’ work, which is, it isn’t what happens to you that gets you so upset it’s your stinking thinking. It’s the way you think. You hear the phrase stinking thinking, so you’re thinking stinks, in other words.


Dennis Zink: I love that. Another one of your great sayings which keeps running through my head is that, “You could have all you want, any kind of food. You just can’t have it all the time.”


Sylvia Goldman: Another good statement. I had a very, very bright psychologist teaching for me many, many years ago when I was teaching so many people. Dr. Miriam Levin, and I remember her turning to a class and saying, “You just have to remember to grow up and assume responsibility for yourself. No one will die for you and no one can diet for you.”


Dennis Zink: Tell me about the success of your program.


Sylvia Goldman: I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the success I’ve had. My latest course was about two years ago, and there was a Dr. Pete Grant, quite a few people who would love to talk about it if they were invited to, and I attribute it the success of it to the fact that the whole issue of weight-loss is worse today than it ever was. When we found a cure for polio we stopped hearing about it, but we haven’t found that cure because they’re too many diets.


Fred Dunayer: Sylvia, can you give us a few, specific tips that our listeners can put into their lives this afternoon, that will start them down the road?


Sylvia Goldman: I’ll give you tips on weight-loss, I’ll give you tips on stress. Let’s start with the stress, because if you can control your stress you can control your weight. If you can’t control your stress, forget it. Okay? Let me say it again. This is … and incidentally, I have a huge sign in my office that says, “It’s not what you say that upsets you, it’s your attitude. The words you use.” If you can just walk away and be aware of these words, you’re not going to change overnight, but, for instance, if you’re feeling sad you can stop yourself from feeling depressed by asking yourself, “What am I saying that’s making me feel so depressed? How can I change that?”


To feel depressed you must be saying things like, “This is horrible. I can’t stand it. It’ll never be better.” You can change that to say, “Now, I’m not going to accept it, I’m going to do my best. I’ll accept what happens, but I will also do my best to change it.” That sounds simple but it’s hard to do. Listen to what you’re saying and change those words. You have that power. Or, another way of saying it is, “Fake it until you make it.” You may not feel great, but tell yourself you do. Guess what? If you fake it long enough you’ll make it.


Dennis Zink: We’ve done that with this program, Sylvia.


Fred Dunayer: One thing that I’ve learned … a couple of points. Number one is that I tend to look at the clock and say, “Well, I may not be hungry now but it’s time to eat.” I suspect that’s probably not a good strategy?


Sylvia Goldman: A good strategy for eating is to, first, have an idea of what you can afford. What can I afford? You don’t have to count calories, that’s very boring and I’m very opposed to counting calories. I very much favor being aware of the calories. I don’t have to count every nickel I have before I go to the movies, but I have to be aware of whether I can afford to do what I’m doing. It’s the same with food. If you want to eat less make a plan. When you’re ready to get married you make a plan. I’ll get married here, and hopefully have no more than 14 children … it’s the same with weight loss. You must make a plan, and if you’re too busy or it’s too boring to make a plan then give up your unreasonable expectations. You’re not going to make it. You know what they say. The way to get Carnegie Hall is to practice.


Fred Dunayer: That’s right.


Sylvia Goldman: Another good idea for weight loss is to get weighed every day. In other words, it has to be important. It’s like anything else in life. Get weighed every day.


Fred Dunayer: Somewhere I learned, and you can confirm this or not, that a lot of times when people eat they’re actually thirsty. If they got a glass of water instead of reaching for a bag of chips, they’d be just as satiated and be perfectly happy for a while with just having had a glass of water.


Sylvia Goldman: I don’t think I’d be satisfied with a glass of water if I’m hungry. Thanks a lot but no thanks. When you talk about chips I talk about … I do a preview. Before I would accept anybody into my program they would have to deserve it. In other words, I only want people that are willing to practice what I’m preaching. You talk about chips. I usually have a large bag of potato chips and I say, “A potato chip is a slice of potato that’s been dipped in salt and oil. You might ask yourself, ‘What happens to the salt and the oil when you swallow it? Do you defecate it? Do you urinate it? No, you don’t. The salt and oil become very friendly and they roll around not in my body. They roll around in your body, and your body doesn’t like it.'”


Let me tell you a wonderful tip about … not only being thinner, but healthier. That’s what my program is about. It’s about being healthy. If you’re healthy you’re not going to be fat. Think about your body … that your body needs certain foods everyday. You need some vegetable. It can be one or two, it doesn’t have to be just loads of vegetables. A piece of fruit. A protein … it doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be very simple. Let me tell you what I’m learning.  I’m learning that the food you eat, that what you put on the end of your fork and put in your mouth, that’s what’s going to keep you healthy and living longer.


Dennis Zink: You certainly walk the talk. You’re 97, you’re in great shape. You were kind of running ahead of me, getting here today. I could barely keep up with you. I just … you’re amazing.


Fred Dunayer: As a golfer, I always try to … the goal is to shoot less than your age. I guess you probably weigh less than your age?


Dennis Zink: You were quite a golfer, too, I understand?


Sylvia Goldman: Yes, I was. I was a fairly good golfer, and I’m even considering going back to it.


Fred Dunayer: Oh, good for you.


Sylvia Goldman: I love that game.


Fred Dunayer: You’ll beat me, I’m sure.


Sylvia Goldman: I’m going to try.


Dennis Zink: What makes the program work? Is it just weighing yourself, but knowing where you are? Explain that a little more.


Sylvia Goldman: I think what makes it work is once you get sold on the fact that you’re into health, not just weight that gives you the energy. That gives you the confidence to know. We didn’t talk enough about exercise. If you want a good recipe for aging well, what you eat and how much you exercise, that’s the ticket. The older you get the more you need it. When you’re young, when you’re in your teens you can get away with eating rotten food and not exercising, but when you get older, your body will not allow it. Your body will get even with you. When you pick up something to eat you better say to yourself, “How will my body like it?” I like it, but does my body like it? Because if you’re body doesn’t like it it’s going to get even with you. Oh, yes, what you eat can even affect your brain. These are facts coming out from some of the brightest people in this country, that dementia, much of dementia, comes from rotten eating habits and not thinking enough about what you’re doing.


Dennis Zink: Sylvia, how is RET, rational emotive therapy applicable to our listeners for their businesses and in their lives?


Sylvia Goldman: I told you earlier so it’s good for you to hear it again. It’s all about attitudes. A healthy attitude can make or break a relationship. It can help or break a business. RET applies to every part of your life. The way you handle your children, the way you handle your business partners … there is no part of your life that’s not affected by your attitude. If you had one thing to take in your life I would study rational emotive thinking, because it absolutely applies to every part of your life.


There is no way you can be really angry with somebody. You can be disappointed, but there’s no way you’re going to accept people because we talk a lot about rights. Everybody has a right to be wrong. Everybody has the right to disagree with me. As much as I believe in my program, I believe that you have a right to do without it. I want to end with this. Nutritionists tell you, “You are what you eat.” Psychologists tell you, “You can if you think you can.” I do all this, and I’ve helped thousands of people do it and you can do it, too.


Dennis Zink: That’s awesome, but I want to ask you a couple more questions. You have a DVD, which is spectacular, your personality really comes through on it. Can you talk about your DVD a little bit?


Sylvia Goldman: My DVD is a lot about some of the things I’ve talked about today and, in spite of the fact, that I had been teaching healthy weight loss for thirty years when I did research on aging, I want to tell you the research I did on aging came from The MacArthur Foundation. They studied aging, studied it for fifteen years at a cost … hold your breath … of 10 million dollars. This is all authentic, 10 million dollars, and their goal was to find out why some people in their 80’s are still skiing while other people in their 60’s are in wheelchairs. What I discovered, that as important as I thought food was, and controlling your weight was, it’s even more important than I thought it was. What you eat, controlling your stress, leading a healthy life is what aging is all about in a nutshell. It’s all the things I’ve talked about earlier.


Fred Dunayer: When you talk about stress, a lot of our listeners are entrepreneurs, that’s the main target of our discussions. They, naturally, have a tremendous amount of very real stress, because they may be trying to make payrolls. They may be trying to come up with money and those sorts of things. Do you have any specific techniques that you recommend for people? I understand the idea that a lot is how you deal with the stress not the stress itself.


Sylvia Goldman: Exactly.


Fred Dunayer: Are there some techniques that you can use to help reduce that?


Sylvia Goldman: Yes. First, I want to begin … I’d like to give you an example. A woman who works for me is telling me she really thinks she understands rational emotive thinking. She tells me that she used to work for a very busy doctor, and at the end of the week she would have to get a massage because of all the stress she experienced during that week. What I learned was she knew about the techniques but she didn’t practice them. It only works if you work at it. Again, I say, the way to get to Carnegie Hall … let me talk about entrepreneurs. Can you give me an example of a stressful situation? That’s the best way to learn it.


Fred Dunayer: Sure. I am about to start a business, but I realized that I don’t really have enough money. I’ve gone to a couple of banks and they don’t seem to be enthusiastic. I need to come up with this money to get this business going.


Sylvia Goldman: Okay, now what I’m going to tell you applies to any problem that you might have. What I’m going to tell you that you will use the same formula for any problem. If you were to come to me and ask me that I would say, “I heard what you said. You’re looking for money. You’re going to banks and you don’t know whether you’ll get it? You want to start a new business. How do you feel? That’s the key. How do you feel about that?


Fred Dunayer: I’m upset, because I’ve got this great idea, and other people don’t seem to be getting it. I’m very disturbed by that.


Sylvia Goldman: It’s the degree of your disturbance that this is what I’m talking about. Is the degree … let me give you an example. If I’m so disturbed that the more disturbed you are the less clearly and rationally you can think. You cannot think clearly, you cannot think rationally when you’re excessively disturbed. If you’re just a little disturbed, that doesn’t stop you from thinking clearly or rationally.


For example, if I were in your shoes and I say, “It looks like it’s going to be very difficult, but I’m not going to give up. I know I’m going to get it.” If you insist on talking that way you’re going to naturally be a little upset, and hope you’ll get it but you’re not going to be very upset. If you say, “I know a lot of people, smarter than I am, who tried to get it and couldn’t get it, I’ll try but I’m sure I won’t.” You not only won’t get it you’re going to be very, very upset, and you’re not going to think very clearly. You cannot think clearly or rationally … I cannot say that often enough, when you’re very upset.


Dennis Zink: Did Dr. Ellis work with people that were really depressed with life? Is that what he did?


Sylvia Goldman: What he did and now what I love to do … every week you could come up to his institute at 45 West 65th Street in New York. 45 West 65th Street used to be the RET Institute for Rational Living. He lived there and he worked there. You would come up and for five dollars you could just give somebody a problem so the problem was the same kind of problem we just talked about. It didn’t matter what the problem was and he would handle it the same way I’m handling it … handled it just a moment ago.


Fred Dunayer: Sylvia is there anything that we haven’t talked about in the course of this discussion that you’d like our listeners to either come away with, or something you want to reinforce?


Sylvia Goldman: Yes. What I want to reinforce is that most people can get better in every area of their life if they’re willing to grow up and assume responsibility. What Ellis tells us, we all have a natural talent for not only stinking thinking, but we have a natural talent for wanting somebody else to do it for us. Like a weight control program and how to get rid of our stress.


We all would like that. There ain’t nobody out there so my advice to you is if you really want it that’s why I interview people and I have previews for my weight loss program. I’m not interested in taking anybody’s money who can’t make a commitment. Who doesn’t want it enough, who isn’t willing to do enough, and I want to tell you, I’ve met some wonderful people that way, so if you don’t want it you have a right to not want it. Forget it.


Dennis Zink: 95% of diets fail. What’s your success rate, approximately?


Sylvia Goldman: My success rate was in, I’ll be modest, at least fifty percent.


Fred Dunayer: That’s good in that field.


Sylvia Goldman: I might just tell you this. I forgot to tell you this. When I first started I called a doctor … somebody told me about a doctor who calls his patients. Imagine, to see how they’re feeling. The minute I heard that I don’t want to know who he is, I don’t want to know what he looks like, I don’t want to have dinner with him. I just want to talk to him. I called him and asked him to have lunch with me. Of course, my friends thought I was crazy, and I was. I found out that this was Dr. Harry Kleinfelter. He’s part of our medical curriculum, so if you want to be a doctor you’re going to study his philosophy. He learned about my program. It wasn’t easy. I had to give him the success rate, all the things you’re asking me. Eventually, it was Dr. Kleinfelter who helped me launch my program in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m from Baltimore.


Dennis Zink: Is that the same Dr. Kleinfelter … is there something called Kleinfelter’s Syndrome, or something like that?


Sylvia Goldman: Yes, yes, yes. It’s the same one. Dr. Harry Kleinfelter.


Dennis Zink: Okay, great. Sylvia, thank you for being our guest today on Been there, Done that. I’m totally amazed by your story and what you’ve accomplished. You’re one of our youngest entrepreneurs certainly in spirit. It’s been a pleasure having you.


Sylvia Goldman: Thank you for having me.


Fred Dunayer: Thank you, Sylvia. You’ve been listening to the Scores Small Business Success Podcast, Been there, Done that. The opinions of the hosts and guests are theirs and do not, necessarily reflect those of Score. If you would like to hear more podcasts, get a free mentor, view a transcript of this podcast or would like more information about the services we provide you can call Score at 800-634-0245. Or, visit our website at Again, that’s 800-634-0245, or visit the website at



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