It’s Not Either/Or; It’s Both/And

I started my website four years ago because I wanted to share my story of surviving mental illness, and I wanted to give hope for healing for those that are continuing to struggle with errors. I wanted to share how it isn’t just chemicals in the brain, how it isn’t just in your head, and how there are very real physical deficiencies and imbalances at play, just as much – if not more than – imbalances at the brain level.

I have never been anti-medication, and I have never recommended anyone go off their medication without consulting their health practitioner. But I have always wanted to be realistic about the risks that come with taking medication. While medication may have served its purpose for me in the short term, there were plenty of unpleasant side effects I experienced when I took the wrong medication, or medication at too high of a dose, or because the medication I was given didn’t fit the disorder that I was experiencing. I never hallucinated or heard voices or saw strange things… until I started taking an antipsychotic.

With that being said, there are plenty of people in the world that do benefit from medication and will need to be on that medication long-term. For other people, there may be different solutions that improve their quality of life more than medication does. There is no one-size-fits-all to mental health.

I started my podcast because I wanted to seek out experts in the field who are doing things differently, who are looking for new solutions to an age-old problem that isn’t being solved with medication and talk therapy alone.

Because of what we know of the gut-brain connection, the HPATG axis, the vagus nerve, and even mitochondrial function, we know that there is so much going on under the surface when it comes to mental and physical health. We know that our body works as a network, one huge spiderweb, and nothing occurs on its own.

We are living in a time when everything is being polarized and divided into either/or categories. If you look at alternatives to medication or vaccines, you must be anti-med or anti-vaccine. If you take medication, you must be anti-natural health. If you are promoting any kind of nutritional support, you must be promoting dieting. These things aren’t true. It isn’t either/or. We can live in a both/and world.

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How to Survive Stress Without Burning Out

It is well-known that chronic stress contributes to chronic disease. Research shows that as much as 90% of illness is attributed to the impact of stress. Finding a way to manage stress in our very busy world of constant notifications is a challenge. So I was excited to connect with Erica Cuni for this recent podcast episode. Spoiler: multiple listeners have written in to tell me that this is their favorite one!

Erica Cuni, known as “The Burnout Professor,” is a stress and burnout expert. She teaches high-achievers how to consciously thrive through an integrative approach. Erica is the founder of “The C.U.N.I. Method” – which stands for Create Undeniable Natural Impact. She is a former Trauma Psychotherapist, Clinical Director, and Adjunct Lecturer and Clinical Professor at Central Connecticut State University. Her mission is to help make the mental health field more effective, accessible, decolonized, and non-stigmatizing.

Download this episode here or listen wherever you get podcasts.

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Five Things I Do For My Mental Health Every Day

While I was officially given a mental illness diagnosis over 22 years ago, I struggled long before that.

That means I’ve spent most of my life battling my brain.

These five things help me manage my symptoms and keep me checking in with myself. When I’m feeling off, I check in and ask myself how I’m doing in each category.

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Mental Health Solutions: Where Are We Now?

We are in the middle of a serious mental health epidemic (I feel like a broken record when I repeat that statement). More and more people are suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses that ever before. We have medication and talk therapy, but how many people are actually receiving relief from their symptoms and actually getting better?

This recent podcast episode with Dr. Josh Friedman tackles why we are stalled in our current mental health care treatments, and he proposes ways to get unstuck.

Dr. Josh Friedman earned his doctorate in Psychology from New York University and did post-doctoral training in Psychoanalysis from the Training and Research Institute for Self Psychology (TRISP) in New York City. After working in the field for a few years, he realized that something was missing from traditional mental health treatment. Curiosity and a chance meeting led him to discover the world of Nutritional Psychology, which teaches that many psychological issues are caused or made worse by underlying biochemical/nutritional deficiencies. Dr. Josh started Alternative Mental Health Solution to help people find and fix the ROOT cause of their mental health struggles.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Everyday Practices for Whole Body Nourishment

Dr. Michele Kambolis is a mind-body health specialist, registered therapist, meditation teacher, and an acclaimed author and speaker who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Her second book, When Women Rise, was published in Fall 2021.

In this episode, we discuss how Dr. Michele is an unshakable believer in our innate capacity to self-heal and thrive, while also being wholeheartedly committed to developing evidenced-based resources to help people create the consciously healthy life they were born to live. 

Download this episode here or listen wherever you get podcasts!

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75 Hard? That’s a Hard Pass… And Here’s Why

To all my hard-working, go-getting, goal-digging female friends:

Oh, how I wish I could sit you down and tell you how amazing you are and how hard your body works for you to keep you alive. How I wish you could truly see yourself the way I do. I would tell you to take a big deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. I would remind you that your body is safe. Your body is on your side.

Instead, I see the pressure. The pressure to punish the female body. To do extra hard things (as if your body isn’t working hard enough already). The latest and greatest in this masochistic movement masquerading as “discipline” is the 75 Hard program.

In case you’re unfamiliar, let me break it down for you.

In a program designed by a man (we’ll get back to that in a minute), it aims to promote mental toughness by engaging in the following activities DAILY for 75 days. Apparently, if you mess up, you start over.

  1. Follow any food plan designed for your goals, but zero alcohol and no cheat meals.
  2. Complete two 45-minute workouts every day – one of them outside.
  3. Every day, drink a gallon of water.
  4. Every day, read 10 pages of an educational or self-improvement book.
  5. Every day, take a picture of your progress.

Okay, at first glance it really seems like a great combination of holistic health – we’ve got the food piece, the movement, hydration, internal processing…. but hold up. A picture? Every day?

That’s the first thing that stands out to me that is troubling. I’ve posted many times about my personal issues with before and after pictures, so I can’t imagine the obsession a daily picture would create in me. I can just picture myself zooming in on every single roll, bulge, speck, spot, zit, crease, and stance. Making sure my pose is the exact same every day, or sucking in, not sucking in, sticking the hip out here, booty out there. Man, by the time picture time is over I could’ve been reading my 10 pages from a book! This seems to be quite triggering for anyone who struggles with body image issues – which is probably the exact type of person targeted for a program like this. Big nope for me.

Now, let’s get back to the whole “program started by a man” thing. I’m sure Andy Frisella is a very motivating person. He’s a CEO of a large company, and he gets things done. He’s created a movement. But Andy’s body is driven by a different kind of rhythm in order to get work done – the circadian rhythm. And while we females have a circadian rhythm as well, we also have something called an infradian rhythm. And where we are in that infradian rhythm – meaning, which phase of our menstrual cycle we fall into – makes a huge difference in how our bodies are going to be functioning optimally.

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How to Stop Dieting in 2022

2021 was a year of emotional upheaval for me, and I know I’m not alone. Aside from the division and tension caused by a certain virus and all the politics (unfortunately) intertwined with it, our family went through a major transition. My husband made a career change and we moved cities to follow our dreams. We left family and close friends. I grieved the loss of what we left behind, along with broken relationships that didn’t get mended.

This took a toll on my hormones and digestion. While food consumption and movement didn’t change, my emotional environment did. And my body decided to protect me by storing weight. While I can wear my clothes still, I’m a little fluffier in them. They don’t fit the same. I don’t have the ease of movement in certain yoga poses that I used to.

Because I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, I also know this is where many of us are tempted to go on an extreme diet to lose the weight.

Here’s the thing I want to remind you – your body cannot let go of excess weight until it is in a place of safety and healing.

Trying to drastically cut calories and restrict food consumption in order to lose weight quickly may work at the beginning… at the expense of putting your body into a greater state of survival and fight or flight. This is why 95% of diets fail.

There has to be another way to restore the body to a place of healing.

For me, the key has been creating a healthy relationship with food and exercise. Here’s what that means:

  • Food isn’t something to earn.
  • Exercise isn’t punishment for poor eating.
  • Overconsuming food that has been chemically altered and designed to be overconsumed isn’t a moral failure. It doesn’t mean you lack willpower or discipline.
  • While calories are units of energy, calories in carbohydrates alone provide different types of energy than calories in protein and calories in fat, not to mention calories from a piece of cake and calories from a sweet potato. This looks different for every individual.
  • My response to certain foods changes throughout the month as my hormones shift. What is filling and fueling one day, may not be filling and fueling on another.
  • The state of stress I’m in while I’m eating may matter more than the content of what I’m eating.

Instead of placing an emphasis on food restriction and punishment, I must emphasize nourishment. What can I do for my body that is healing? What can I do that gives it a break from the stress? I think for many of us, it looks like changing the mindset first.

Until our perspective on food and health changes, we can’t make progress. We will always be battling a negative attitude toward our body and food, which perpetuates a state of survival in our already stressed out bodies.

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You Are Not Your Feelings: How to Make Peace with Your Mind

Amy Johnson, PhD, is a psychologist, coach, author, and speaker who shares a groundbreaking new approach that helps people find lasting freedom from unwanted habits, anxiety, and self-doubt via insight rather than willpower. 

She is the author of “Being Human, The Little Book of Big Change: The No-Willpower Approach to Breaking Any Habit,” and “Just a Thought: A No-Willpower Approach to End Self-Doubt and Make Peace with Your Mind.” In 2017, she opened The Little School of Big Change, an online school that has helped thousands of people find freedom from anxiety and habits and live a more peaceful life.

Download and listen to this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Your Weight Is The Least Interesting Thing About You

I had to step on a scale for life insurance this week and it triggered crazy anxiety and numerous unpleasant emotions.

I haven’t looked at the scale in years. According to the BMI (which is a mathematical calculation never intended to be used for health purposes but that’s a whole other post), I have been overweight since I was 16 years old. Because I’ve suffered from chronic health issues my entire life, I know when I’m in a healthy place and I know when I’m in an unhealthy place. The scale has never been a reflection of that. But it can tell me when my body is on high alert or fighting to restore balance. 

Yes, I am a health coach, but I don’t use the scale as a measure of health.

I dig deeper.

Because my endless hours of training are in integrative nutrition and functional medicine, I care more about what rapid weight gain or weight loss tells me about underlying imbalances.

Often times, weight is a protective mechanism. Body fat tissue is biologically active, producing hormones and immune-system proteins that act on other cells. There is a REASON for the inflammation. It’s how our body stores toxins and manages internal or external imbalances, not to mention physical and emotional stress.

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Holiday (Detox) Soup

The coolest thing about “un-dieting” and choosing to partner with my body for nourishment – instead of punishment – is that I know when my body is craving nutrients.

After the Thanksgiving leftovers were gone a couple weeks ago, I threw this together. Then I made it again this weekend, because I was missing it. It’s just what my body asks me for after enjoying heavier, richer food this time of year.

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