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Welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast, the weekly podcast where Dr. G gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
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Being a doctor for nearly half a century, helping people like you transform their health has been one of my life’s greatest blessings. But all of that would not have been possible without the support of my amazing wife, Penny Gundry. You may have heard me mention her throughout this podcast, including how she’s an amazing athlete. While that’s true, there is so much more to the wonderful person I call my soulmate. And in today’s episode, I’m bringing the episode featuring my favorite guests, my wife back and honor of Valentine’s Day, after a 20 year separation, you’ll get to hear how fate brought us together via watching the news. It’s a romance novel fodder for sure and how our marriage has survived serious issues like pending bankruptcy and blended family hurdles. Plus how yours can do just the same. I think you’re gonna love this episode, because you’ll learn it’s never too late to find your soulmate, like we did. Stay tuned, because you don’t want to miss it.
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This podcast was brought to you buy pro health save today by heading to pro health.com/gundry to receive 20% off new orders or 25% off subscriptions that’s pro health.com/gundry. And this special deal is only for our listeners.
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Penny, welcome to the Dr. Gundry podcast. It’s great having you on the show. Thank you, sweetie. It’s nice to be here. I feel like this is bonus time for me to spend with you since our time is so infrequent together. Yeah. So yeah. So this is our that’s why it’s a special episode because we get to spend an hour together that we normally don’t know. Exactly. All right. So first question that people always want to know is how did we first meet? You want to start with? It’s such an interesting question, because that is the first question people always ask us and I think that people feel the energy that we have together and they just want to know how that energy evolved. We met
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on spring break in Jamaica, in Montego Bay, in 1970. You were singing down there for the Yale Baker’s Dozen, which was a singing group. And I was down there on on spring break vacation. And yeah, and I was in the in the audience. It was an after dinner concert you’re performing. And you and I made eye contact. And that that was it. I was I was smitten after that initial night. Spending with you learning learning a little bit about you. And the next morning I told my parents I had met the man I was gonna marry. No, let’s let’s clarify. The first night we spent out on a golf course. Just talking. Yeah, just talking. That’s what you did kind of back then.
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Yeah. And with the problem, and I had to leave the next morning, right. Early in the morning, you literally walked into your parents room and said, I met the man I’m gonna marry. Yeah. Problem was, what? Well, what, there’s no problem. It was just a little bit of a difficult relationship, because you were going to school in New Haven at Yale. And I was going to school in Santa Barbara at UC Santa Barbara. So we did have a long term relationship. Back then we still had telephones, landlines, and we would talk to one another every Sunday, because it was cheaper to talk on Sundays. The rates were lower than to talk during the week. And then, when we had any time off from school during the summertime, my parents lived in Connecticut. And your parents lived in Atlanta, Georgia. So we would reconnoiter either at my parents house or your parents house. And we did that for almost three years. Yeah, actually. Three years. Yeah, exactly. And then
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you tell this, this part of the story, it’s gets better. Yeah. So I got into medical school at Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. And you actually graduated from UCSB and started working at a bank Bank of America, still living in Santa Barbara. And at the end of first year medical school, I flew out Santa Barbara and I mean, we had picked up China. Our parents had met each other
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And, you know, I flew out and say, Well, you know, it’s time to fish or cut bait started to get married. And you know, you need to move to Augusta, Georgia. And you said, Well, no, no, no.
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You know, I hate I hate Georgia. No, I didn’t say that. I just said that. I said that you were geographically undesirable, because I was living in paradise in Santa Barbara. And, you know, I had left the East Coast having been born and raised on the East Coast, and really didn’t want to move back in that in that direction. So at the Santa Barbara airport, we kissed and shook hands and said, Have a happy life. But I knew I knew you’re going to call me right away. As soon as you got back to Augusta. I just knew that. How could you not call? Well, you didn’t call? I didn’t.
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Said Doyle. She said, That’s it. I’m not moving to Georgia and have a nice day. And you know, so I was so brokenhearted, that six weeks later, I was engaged to be married to a woman I actually did not know until I returned to school. And
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yeah, so talk about rebound holy.
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anyhow, you, you pined away for a while, a couple of years, because I knew that you were going to come to your senses and and call me. So waited a couple of years, and then I two, in fact, got married and but you and I never I just cancelled your wedding three times two or three times. Yep. But I did go through with it. And but I never, I never forgot you. And
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in those days, there were telephone books. So when I did a lot of traveling, I would look in the telephone book and see if there was a Steve Gundry living in the town that I was that I was visiting. And
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no, no, Steve Gundry never heard from you again. Yeah, and we both had, quite frankly, horrible marriages. Long, horrible.
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I was blessed with two beautiful girls. And
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so I guess that’s a blessing. So let’s fast forward 20 years, and I became a very famous heart surgeon living in California, in Loma Linda, California, and Professor and Chairman at Loma Linda medical school. And living in California where it really I never thought I’d ever live, because I thought California was Florida with cold water.
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And so and I had moved with my husband, at that time to Atlanta, Georgia, where where I you would never Yes, where I had declined to live with you. But I was living there with my husband at the time. So so we had just reversed. Yeah, locations. So anyhow, I was on today’s show with Brian Gumbel. And we had done a baby heart transplant. And I was doing 60 Baby heart transplants a year. You know, I wonder why this got picked up by the day show. So there we are. We’re getting interviewed and who would be watching the Today show that morning from her home in Atlanta, Georgia. Then Penny. And so you, you called your I couldn’t I couldn’t first of all, I couldn’t believe it as I think I was doing the dishes. Then I heard Brian Gumbel say Dr. Steven Gundry. And I just kind of did a double take. And yes, that was Steve. But his hair had turned from dark brown to white. So that was a little bit of a shock. What was the shock of you turning me down?
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It went away like That’s right. So I didn’t really know what to do. I called my best friend. And I said, Dewey, what should I do? And she said, well send him a note. But back then we didn’t even have
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email going on. Yeah. So I wrote you a very professional, nice note congratulating you and you and your husband were separated. And I and my wife were separated at that time, right. So so I wrote this nice note, congratulating you on your successes, and saying PS, what are you doing in California? And I mailed it on a Friday and I thought okay, Tuesday, he’ll be calling me. And sure enough, Tuesday, I got I got the phone call. My Yeah, this is nice little note. My longtime Secretary brings it up to me, you know, she opens all my mail but she didn’t need it because
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This is personal confidential. She says this is from Penny Gustafson. I don’t know anything. Gustafson, she’s the one. It’s personal, confidential and open it up and perfume waafs. So not sure.
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And she’s got her business card. You were selling. I was selling real estate in Atlanta. So yeah. So I’m reading it. And she’s, I look up Barbara, my secretary, and I said, Barbara, this is the love of my life. I said, What should I do? And she said, we’ll call Are you idiot. So actually had a case down in the hour. And so I got in the elevator, go to the bar, and I picked up the phone in the hour,
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Tuesday, and she’s sitting probably by her phone at the office going three to one ought to be him that injury should be calling. Yeah. And so we actually helped kind of a pleasant chat for quite a while. And oh, you know, if you’re ever in, you know, Atlanta, stop by etc, etc. And then you used to call me Gundry. Never call me my first name. And kind of how the blue? She said, Oh, Gundry. And it was literally for me, like 20 years had gone away. And next thing we know, we were on a plane to Greenwich, Connecticut, to where your folks grew up. Right. And you grew up, and we haven’t been apart since. So you moved out back to California. Real fast. Yeah, real fast, real fast, real fast. And so um, yeah. So that’s how it happens. So we’ve been together 25 years now. And
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I remember always
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being unhappy in my first marriage and talking to my mom about it. And my mom would always say you should have married Steve Gundry. Yeah. And those were pretty much her last words before she passed away. You should have married Steve, about one a couple months before we reconnect. Yeah, so I figured that she’s, she was up there orchestrating us getting back together. So one of the first things we did when we voice connected, I called my mother and I said, Mom, I call this 404 number, which is Atlanta area code and just say that my son Steve told me to call. So go ahead. Yeah, the phone rings and
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I pick up the phone and hear this little voice say, this is Bev Gundry. And my son, Steve Gundry, told me to call this phone number and Bev and I had been soul mates to when you and I were dating. And of course I just I can’t even tell the story. I started crying. I just burst out crying and oh, it’s me. Yeah, she’s Oh, my gosh, are you back in our lives? Yeah. Yeah. So it actually turns out that we spent incredible quality time with both of my parents until they passed away a couple years ago, we were always going to the world when
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in San Diego. So it was, it was a whole family got reunited, right, lost both of your parents. So it was like having you got a new family, as well. And then Bevin and myself look so much alike, which is kind of freaky. It’s very freaky.
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Girls are supposed to marry their father but and guys are supposed to marry their mother. But you’re not supposed to look like your mother. You know, it’s like,
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that’s scary. When people see you they see pictures of them. We’d always play a guessing game. Yeah, who’s the parent? And everybody would guess that my parents were actually, yeah, parents because of this resemblance.
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And then we got it. Then we got a bonus gift that no other OS was expecting. You want to talk about that? Yes.
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Melissa, your daughter, she was your daughter now. She was 13 years old, when I had the opportunity to help raise her. And it was such a blessing at some of the hardest times I’ve ever gone through. And she had she had some acting out issues that we had to deal with. And it was a very hard time. I grew up so much in those What 1010 plus years as did she and she has become the one of the levers of my life. Yeah, no, she and she runs your store and yeah, I always tell her I say the reason I didn’t have children is because I could never love my child as much as I love you. So now you’re gonna start crying. She’s crying.
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Yeah, no. So
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Want to handle things always seemed to have a way of working out for I guess everyone involved in a lot of ways we could never imagine.
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So, we’ve we’ve talked to other people who have had kind of similar experiences of reconnecting with their highschool sweetheart or their college sweetheart, or, you know, someone they know. Often it’s because of the death of a spouse that seems to have done it. But, um, what do you think?
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If you were going to do it over again, how do you know when it’s time to call it quits? And how do you know when it’s time to come back? Any thoughts?
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I think you just, you just listen to your heart.
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And I think that’s what I did with you for many years if my heart was just somehow attached, attached to you.
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And I knew that well, if it was attached when you come to Georgia, so that’s yeah, we’ve already discussed that.
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Yeah, I think Well, I think I’ve talked about this on other programs.
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I think one of the things I learned from the experience from my first marriage was you, you go into something thinking that either you can change, or you can change that person. And having dealt with human beings now for 50 years in my career. You if you go in with that attitude, it’s not going to work. And I think at least for us, if you actually have to work at a marriage, I think that’s the wrong way to approach it. We have never worked, we have never worked at our marriage. We would we wouldn’t know how to I think.
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So. I think that’s advice. And I do think that, you know, at least our experience, there is a soulmate who you don’t have to work with to, you know, do things right, and it just fits and my advice is don’t don’t give up looking until you find Yeah, and you know, it gets back to that the heartstrings, I think, yeah, you just know, and we have so much fun together. And we know how to laugh, we know how to joke with one another. We’re always optimistic, always looking on the bright side of things. So let’s talk about looking at the bright side. Because,
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you know, as we well know, when we made the decision to leave Loma Linda, and start a practice out in Palm Springs
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basically means a substantial change. And, in PE, we probably didn’t realize how big that would be, but, and a lot of us, we always are hopeful. And so shortly after a few years, in practice, I wrote my first book, which was Dr. Gundry is diet evolution. And it was supposed to be a major bestseller Random House bought it. And it came out literally right when the great recession hit. And we had, we had said, you know, times are rough times are rough, but you know, the books going to be a best seller Random House, you know, is going to make a big deal out of it, and it’s gonna be a best seller. And everything’s going to be fine. And sure enough, I mean, it sold well, but it certainly wasn’t the monster best seller that we would have hoped. Put us on easy street, so to say. And the the recession really, you know, hurt everybody. And so there we are,
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you know, should I go back and start a surgical practice again, should I, you know, go get recruited to another hospital, another university. And you kept saying, which you will or a stubborn person? Well, you know, I’ll miss you. And, you know, you can certainly get come and visit on vacations and weekends, but I’m not leaving California. I got it back here and I’m not leaving. So that makes me think you really only came back for California and not for me, but that’s another story. So, you know, what was it like? We you know, we, when I was traveling all over the world as a very famous or
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It surgeon, we flew business class, you know, stayed at very nice hotels, and then you and down, we couldn’t do that. And let’s let’s merge into you started a business because quite frankly, we needed the money and you had had a crazy idea. So why don’t we talk about what’s it like, I made a career change 50. And you, you’ve had multiple careers, you were a Pan Am flight attendant, you sold real estate, you got to Gree and design. And then what happened?
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Well, I got this degree in design. And I thought, Well, I’ll start working with clients and
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designing homes and that sort of thing. And I realized, Oh, my goodness, I can’t be with a client for a year, choosing the white paint that they wanted to use throughout their house. So I said this, this isn’t going to work. I said, How can I use my design degree. And so I thought to myself, I’m going to open up a retail store, knowing nothing about retail, and I’m going to sell accessories, women’s accessories from around the world.
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So I presented this idea to you and you’ve thought I was kind of half crazy, but you were very supportive of me. And I found a wonderful little storefront on El Paseo in Palm Desert, named the store Zentz.
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And then said, Okay, now what I do, I designed the store, according to my idea of what a retail store should look like it was it’s only about 600 square feet. But I did some very cool design work inside. And then needed merchandise, and started buying some very unique, unusual handbags from
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a Korean man who is living in New York City. And then I thought, no, I need I need more than just handbags in here. Make a long story short, ended up going to Europe, and literally back streets and in Paris and in Florence, in Rome, and finding designers that really didn’t have any sort of presence in the United States and introducing their product into my store. And it was wildly successful. And I just was so proud of the job that I was able to do and making this store work. Yeah. And you had literally no retail experience. Yeah, absolutely none. And it was trial and error.
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But I was always very optimistic that I knew this. I knew I had something that would do well. And my dad was so cute. He would call you every afternoon. Yes, at the close of business and say pennyways helped me this year.
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He said, How do we do today? Yeah, you’d have to give him the totals. Yeah, that I had to report to him on just how much we had made. So that was just so soon, of course, I’d call you and say how do we do today? I’m not bringing in any money.
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And yeah, so we, you know, we really depended on you, you know, having this career. And so anyhow, so when everything hit, we still had to get over to Europe several times a year to meet with here then designers and find new designers. And we, you know, now we’re in the back of the airplane back of the bus. I’ll tell you a funny story. First time. We are in the far back row of Air France. big jumbo jet going over to Paris. And you said I can’t be back here. I get claustrophobic. This is not going to work. I just looked. I looked down the aisles of the plane. It was just people, people people everywhere. And I said I can’t do this. I just I need to be a little bit closer today. People are hearing Oh, pre Madonna. Well, you actually were scared. You know, claustrophobic. Yeah. Well, the first thing the minute the engines went on, she closed her eyes and she didn’t wake up until we landed in Paris.
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back in coach. So I said hey, sorry.
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Coach, guess what? And the funny thing was we we had to find hotels that were
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really cheap. I mean really cheap. Sometimes it was places where it was by the hour. Yeah, it was. It was interesting. True.
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And we we kept calling it the pizza tour because we all we could, we’d get a croissant for breakfast and you know, pizza and that was all we could afford. And we just have a
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great time and we laugh about it. And we’d say you know next year you know we’re going to we’re going to be you know, back in business class and we’re going to be at that hotel. Well next year took a long time but we always just said you know, this is temporary. And you know, let’s make the best of what we can do and learn that we can adapt to any situation. Yeah, I think that’s a very important lesson.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai