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Is there something in your life that you need to improve? Do you want to be the best version of you? In this episode, Kathleen Trotter teaches us different ways to become a better version of ourselves. She talks about how journaling can help, listing out past data, and creating systems to help us become a better version of ourselves no matter what our goal is.
Hello, true health seekers and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today, we have Kathleen Trotter on the show. I’m very excited for you to learn from her. She is giving away a spot in one of her upcoming courses, and it’s very exciting. So as you’re listening today and you think, I would love to learn from Kathleen, you could actually enter to win a free spot in her upcoming class. It’s an online, interactive group coaching class.
Please go to our Facebook group, Learn True Health Facebook group. There you will see a pin to the top. In the next few weeks, you’ll see a post to be able to be one of the winners. I ask that you share some unique insight that you really love learning today in the comments. I’ll have my 5 ½-year-old son pick at random a lucky listener from one of the comments. It would just be a wonderful opportunity. I just love it when guests give some of their work to us. Gift their books or gift a spot in their courses. I think that’s quite wonderful.
Now, as you’re listening to Kathleen today and you think, I would love to do the kind of work she’s doing. I’d love to do the kind of work Ashley James is doing. I’d love to be able to help people as a health coach. Help them gain more joy in their life, joy in their body, and joy with their food—consider becoming a holistic health coach. Consider becoming an integrative health coach. You can get a free module by going to learntruehealth.com/coach. That’s learntruehealth.com/coach and sign up for the free module to see if health coaching is right for you. Take the free module and you’ll know if it’s something that you’d love to do either for yourself or to improve the health of yourself, your friends, and your family. To add new tools to your tool belt, or to even start a new career.
What I love about IIN is that in the first half of the course, you are taught how to be a fantastic health coach. And then in the second half, in addition to learning how to be a fantastic health coach, you actually begin to already work with clients. So you’re still in the program, still able to be mentored while you’re working with clients, and they teach you how to build a successful coaching business. So if you’ve never even started a business before, and you don’t know if you’re confident enough to have those tools, know that their course teaches you how to do it. And it’s about coming from the heart and wanting to help people and getting such satisfaction from helping people.
So visit learntruehealth.com/coach or learntruehealth.com/coaching—either one—and you will get the fee module and check it out. If you have more questions, you can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org, or just google IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and ask some questions. Most of the time, those who answer the phones there are health coaches themselves that have been through the program and are really great in answering questions and giving you all the right information you need. The course was designed for very busy people, especially busy moms. You know that no matter how busy you are, you’re able to finish their online program to become an integrative health coach.
As you talk to IIN know that you’re given fantastic savings by being a Learn True Health listener. That’s something I was really honored that they were able to offer my listeners. Make sure you mention my name, Ashley James, and the Learn True Health podcast for fantastic savings. Once in a while, they have great specials as well. It’s good to plug in if you’re interested in becoming a health coach. It’s good to communicate with them and get all your questions answered.
And If you’re not interested in becoming a health coach but you are interested in gaining more tools for health, of course, Kathleen Trotter, our wonderful guest today, is going to teach you many things. You should absolutely follow her. She has some great information. But also, I recommend joining my membership, the Learn True Health Home Kitchen.
I go into the kitchen with my dear friend Naomi, and we show you how to cook healing foods and beverages that are wonderful for the whole family. You don’t have to be completely vegan to eat this food, although we teach you how to eat more plants, and you can incorporate that into your life. You’re going to get more fiber, you’re going to get more vitamins, you’re going to get more nutrients into your life by joining Learn True Health Home Kitchen and following our delicious, wholesome, and healing recipes. So check that out. You can just go to learntruehealth.com and on the top, on the menu, you’ll see join the home kitchen. Check that out.
Also, there’s a discount for listeners. Use the coupon code LTH. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with those you care about. I look forward to seeing you in the Facebook group. Come join us here. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy today’s interview.
[00:05:36] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 446. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have Kathleen Trotter on the show. Her website is kathleentrotter.com, and of course, links to everything that Kathleen does is going to be on the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Kathleen has a master’s in exercise science, and she’s a life and nutrition coach, which is really exciting because you encompass behavior, change, and looking at the person’s whole life when it comes to helping them do the best exercise routines for them.
Now you also have interesting specialties in fascial work. I mean, I just love it. I look down on your bio, and I love all the different training that you’ve been through. You’ve been doing this for over 20 years, you’ve written two books.
[00:06:34] Kathleen Trotter: I love it, really, and it changed my life—health and wellness—so I want it to change other people’s. I have this thing about the health discourse, and it’s too much framed on making people feel about themselves. It’s about how you should be somebody else, and it’s like no, you should be yourself. Thrive in your lane, but just be the strongest, most energetic, and healthiest version of you that you can be. And I think that’s why I try to look and learn as much as possible because the body is super cool. But it’s really complex and there are so many variables that go into who we are and why we change, right?
It’s not enough to just know the information. I mean, most of us know it. It’s like drink more water, exercise more. It’s all these shoulds—well do this, do that. And too often, we should all over ourselves without actually being well, what do I want to do? What would make me happy? What’s realistic? It might not be realistic to run every day for you because of injuries or time. The benefits of the best workout or best nutrition program are moot if you can’t actually make yourself do it.
It’s about thriving in your own lane and figuring out what’s right for you. But in order to do that, you kind of have to know yourself enough to know do I like having a shake in the morning, or would I rather have eggs? Or is it too crazy in the morning to have eggs at all and should I be having little egg cups that I make on a Sunday? I mean, that sounds like a silly example, but that in itself can be the difference between making a sustainable change about your healthy breakfast or not. If you say, well, every morning I’m going to have eggs and then every morning you wake up and you’re like oh man. I got five kids to get to school and they need breakfast and they hate eggs. Well, it’s just not going to happen. You got to do you, know you, and just consistency and realistic expectations.
[00:08:22] Ashley James: Before we hit record, we were talking about how the motivation to make healthy changes or the motivation to create a new fitness program is short-lived. We oftentimes will come from a place of emotion, right? Feeling guilty, feeling like we should do this, then all of a sudden feeling inspired. We could maybe watch a TV show about health and all of a sudden feel inspired. I remember so many times watching the Biggest Loser or the finale of the Biggest Loser and seeing these really buff chicks. I’m like, okay, I’m getting to the gym tomorrow. When you look at the statistics of gym memberships, there’s a huge spike in January, and then by March they’re cut in half and the attendance goes down and down and down and down, and then it goes back up right after the holidays.
We see that there are difficulties in forming healthy habits as a society around fitness, but also the idea of what is fitness? Is it heavily sweating in the gym on a treadmill, and is that really right for everyone? You understand how the body works and what’s best for unique people, right? We all need different things, and so that’s one of the things you specialize in is teaching people how they can create a fitness routine that brings them joy, that makes them want to want to get up and do it every day, but also would be the healthiest thing for them.
I can’t tell you how many times I injured myself pushing myself in the gym because it wasn’t really the right training for my body.
[00:10:08] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. Well, let me go back to where you started because there are so many amazing concepts that you just threw out, which are awesome, but let’s unpack it a bit. Motivation has to be thought of as akin to an emotion, which means emotions come and go. You get angry, you get sad. The half-life of an emotion is a couple of seconds and then it’s gone. It’s very fast. So what you want to do is if you are in that motivated state, you watch the Biggest Loser or it’s January 1, that’s great. Use that, but use it to create systems for the future you that is going to be sad, that is going to be frustrated, and that is going to be angry. So then, when you have those moments of low motivation, you don’t fall off your horse.
I guess it’s a matter of going back to realistic expectations. You have to know that you are human. You’re not perfect, none of us are perfect. You’re not a robot. Thank God. We don’t want robots. We want human beings, and human beings are messy, we’re emotional, and that’s one of our best qualities, but it also means that it’s easy for us to fall off our horse. Okay, a couple of weeks down the road we’ve got the gym membership after January 1, and then we get angry at our spouse or our kids or our boss and we’re just like screw it. I’m not going to go to the gym. And then you end up going home, you binge on some food, you feel kind of crappy, and then that starts this negative downward spiral.
So you have to, on January 1, instead of just thinking oh my goodness, I feel amazing right now. And then assuming you’re always going to feel amazing, you have to say, oh I feel amazing right now. That’s great. Let’s harness that feeling of amazing motivation, and let’s use it to create some systems. I know for the last 10 years in a row, by the third week of January, I’m no longer going to the gym. Okay, great. That’s amazing data. Now, how do I use that data from past years to help future me?
I think that’s one really key thing is just using your past history of what you like, what you don’t like, what works, what doesn’t, and then you create some systems. If you know that in the past you’ve always been really successful when you’ve had a gym buddy, then maybe have one. And if you can’t go right now with somebody to a gym because of COVID, then maybe you have an accountability buddy that you do over email, or maybe you go for walk and talks with your buddy in your ear. If you know that you really love Pilates, then find an online Pilates class. If you know you hate yoga, so then maybe don’t do yoga. Use what you know about yourself when you’re successful to set up a plan, but you have to set up the system.
Why don’t I give you an example? I love fudge bars, and I use this example all the time because I think it’s really, really common. You’re in the grocery store, and I’ll be standing next to the frozen food aisle. I’ll just be thinking, I can buy the bars. You know Kathleen, you’re a personal trainer. You’re going to get home. You’ll be fine. You’re dedicated, you have willpower. You just won’t eat them. The problem is after years of doing this, what I know is the future me at 11:00 PM at night when I’m really tired, I’ve worked a full day, I can’t resist those fudge bars.
So what I have done is a system where I don’t allow them to come into my home because I just love them too much, but I buy them and I always leave a box at my mom’s. If I want one, I can walk over. We can have a visit, I can enjoy one bar but I don’t binge on six bars at a time and then feel frustrated with myself. The systems are what you set up in the future for the future you.
If you know you need to work out in the morning because that’s what works for your schedule but you hate working out in the morning, then maybe you have to set out your workout clothes the night before so they’re there. I actually sleep in my workout clothes often if I know that I have to work out really early. This morning, I had to do my workout about 5:000 AM in the morning, so I slept in my workout clothes because it’s one less thing between me and my workout. You take out as much friction as possible, you take it away. You make those healthy habits as convenient as possible. You make your unhealthy habits as inconvenient as possible.
Put your alarm clock across the room so you have to get out of bed and turn it off versus just hitting the snooze button. Take all the crap out of your house because if it’s in your house, you or somebody you love will eventually eat it. One of the things that work is understanding this idea of present bias. The brain has many cognitive distortions that normally trick us a little bit. They trick us unconsciously. It’s not that we think, oh, I’m going to trick myself. It’s that we don’t understand until we become mindful of it that the brain feels that however we feel at this moment is how we’re always going to feel. Meaning, January 1 you think, I feel really motivated, without having to consciously think, oh well therefore I will always feel motivated.
That’s what your brain thinks, but you have to say to the brain well, no, I’m not going to always feel motivated. What are the systems? But it also goes the other way that when you wake up in the morning, it’s 5:00 AM, and you’re tired, your brain thinks oh my God, I’m always going to be tired. Because you’re tired at that moment. Okay, well I always snooze my alarm too many times in the morning, so my system is to set the alarm across the room. And then, I also have to have the self-talk ready to say okay self, you feel tired at this moment but future you will feel better. That’s something I get my clients to work with all the time. It’s just this taking a pause and realizing that the moment that you’re in is not going to last.
Emotions, as we talked about earlier, they dissipate. You feel something else. That’s the key to the emotion and the emotional wave. How you surf that emotional wave is so important because we all have moments of low motivation. There are lots of times I don’t want to work out. There are lots of times I want to eat tons and tons of chocolate, but I don’t have chocolate in my house. I have systems set up that nudge me towards the healthier choices, and I’ve learned a lot. This has been 20 years that I’ve been in the fitness field. I use every experience as data to help my future self. It’s a slow process, right? It’s not just like a pass-fail thing. You don’t automatically become healthy and then it’s easy. It’s always a struggle, and I wasn’t born fit either.
I think that’s also really key is I know that for the first half of my life I lived, I felt really ashamed of my body I had a lot of body shame. I did anything to get out of gym class. I never moved. I was overweight. I had to learn these systems. It never came naturally to me. Everybody listening, if you’re thinking, oh my God, Kathleen sounds like she’s got this all figured out. Believe you me, it has taken a long time, and I still struggle. I struggle, struggle, struggle, but it gets a little bit easier every single day as you learn more skills and as you learn to just say future me is going to be happier if I work out. I never regret a workout, and the future me is going to be happier if I have some water and I just take a moment to take a pause and think. What’s going to serve me at this moment? I don’t know. Do you have a trick? Do you have a system? Do you have a favorite system?
[00:17:00] Ashley James: I love what you just said about I never regret a workout. I love that.
[00:17:06] Kathleen Trotter: That’s so true.
[00:17:07] Ashley James: I do the future you feel better. Actually, what I do is when I’m lying in bed, just waking up, I imagine myself an hour later. An hour later I’m going to feel so good. I imagine myself already awake. I have a very comfortable bed. My mattress is the best mattress in the world. I actually interviewed the founder of the company that created this mattress. It has space-age technology. It’s like NASA technology in it, and it makes it so there’s no pressure points—absolutely no pressure points. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, it doesn’t matter what shape you are in. It actually is used to heal stage four bedsores—this technology—because it takes 100% of the pressure off and evenly distributes your body, so no matter what position you’re in, your spine is perfectly aligned. When I wake up, I’m floating on the cloud.
[00:18:02] Kathleen Trotter: You want to stay in bed. You’re like, I don’t want to move at all.
[00:18:03] Ashley James: If you’ve ever had a mattress where you wake up in the morning and you’re sore because you want to get out of that bed because it’s like, oh I’ve been lying in bed too long. I’m sore. That does not happen with my bed. You could stay in this bed for 24 hours. You’re not going to be sore from staying in this bed. When I wake up, every fiber of my being wants to continue to enjoy the comfort of this bed. I’m still a little tired. I’m groggy. I’m just waking up. But you know what, since I’ve done so many things for my health over the years, I have more and more and more energy in the morning, which really helps to get up.
So going to bed early, not eating late at night. Even doing a bit of intermittent fasting where I push supper back to 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM and then no snacking afterward. So you go to bed on an empty stomach. Drink enough water, so drink like 120 ounces of water a day, but finish that 120 ounces by about 6:00 PM so that you have enough time to pee before bed. But go to bed at 10:00 PM because the circadian rhythm gets totally thrown off and we have a huge cortisol spike. Therefore insulin is then affected. Then we have a blood sugar imbalance if we stay up past 10:00 PM. It doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in. Something magical about 10:00 PM has a cortisol spike if we continue to stay up past 10:00 PM.
So when I go to bed before 10:00 PM—falling asleep around 10:00 PM—I wake up in the morning with way more energy, way more vitality, no inflammation, and it’s easier to get out of bed. But there’s a little voice in my head that goes oh, this feels so good. Let’s just stay here. Or oh, I’m tired. Maybe I could fall back asleep, hit the snooze button. I have to imagine myself after I’ve gotten up, gone to the bathroom and put clothing on. That future me an hour from now is ready, pumped, and doing the day already. I’m like, yeah, I want to be my future self. Let’s get out of bed.
[00:20:09] Kathleen Trotter: I think you said a number of things that are really important, but I want to highlight the biggest thing is that you have got a lot of data about yourself. I think that with health, the problem is that we listen to people like you and me, and then you think oh my God, they have it all figured out. But we have it figured out because we’ve done a lot of trial and error. And this is really important. If anybody’s listening, if you get one thing from this, it’s that you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to get great.
So all the things you just said like you know you need to be in bed by 10:00 PM. You know intermittent fasting works for you. You know how much waterworks at what time. Well, that’s all great, but that comes from years of figuring it out and what works for you, and everyone’s going to be slightly different.
So for me, I definitely do windows of intermittent fasting as well, but I also work out very early in the morning. So 5:00 PM would be too early a cut off for me because then for me, personally, I won’t feel strong in my workout the next morning. So I think the trick with people listening is there’s no right or wrong. I mean, there are definitely principles that are important, but we can really get in our own way when we think that things have to be perfect. When we’re listening to a podcast and we’re like, okay, I got to be done eating by 5:00 PM. I got to be asleep by 10:00 PM. I have to do this much. You have to figure out what works for you, but you can’t figure out what works for you until you actually try stuff.
Be okay with your messiness. Again, I go back to we’re human, but more than that, think of life as like this science experiment. Everything you do is data. So if you do a workout that you hate, that’s great. Now you know you don’t like that workout. If you end up staying up and eating a little bit too much food and then you feel kind of gross and you can’t sleep, great. Don’t do that again. That doesn’t work. If you decide to work out every single morning and then listen to your kids get you up and you can’t work out in the morning and you have to do it at lunchtime, great. That’s data.
The trick is to have this really fine line of having compassion for your compassion for yourself but also holding yourself accountable. So it’s not like oh, I ate at 11:00 PM at night. Oh, this made me feel crappy. Oh, well, I’ll do it again because Kathleen told me to love myself. No, I ate at 11:00 PM. Oh wow, I can’t sleep. Okay, so interesting. Kathleen told me to love myself. If I love myself, I really need a good night’s sleep. So how do I figure out how to eat a little bit earlier?
It’s this really tricky thing of you act, then you analyze the action, and then you implement that action. But you have to act in order to analyze. Don’t get caught up on all the things we’re talking about and then just basically be like oh, screw it. I’ll never be as good as them, or I’ll never get it all figured out. I’m just going to stay in bed. To create an evening routine takes some work.
I just started intermittent fasting. I do it more just like I call it the close the kitchen window after a certain time. I never eat after 8:00 PM. Normally, I don’t eat after about 6:30 PM, 7:00 PM. But the thing about it is I didn’t do that until a couple of years ago, and I didn’t realize how great it made me feel until I started doing it. So if I’d done this podcast three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say like yeah I completely agree. That feels amazing. But if I had tried it and I hadn’t liked it, guess what, I then wouldn’t do it. So you try something. You try a Zumba class. If it doesn’t work, hey, it’s not for you. Try going out for a jog. You don’t like it, you had a bad route, or bad running shoes—it’s data. And then you have to decide what stays and what you ditch.
James Clear has this really lovely quote that you have to standardize before you can optimize, and that’s really key because we all get into optimization before we get the basics down. Just start drinking some water. It might not be “enough.” It might not be as much as I would drink or Ashley James would drink, but you know what, if it’s more than what you did yesterday, it’s trending positively. And then you can figure out maybe you need a little bit more or a little bit less. Yes, maybe over five servings of vegetables would be great. But if you’re eating zero right now, start with one.
Start, standardize, and figure out what works for you. Know that each of the choices that you make can change tomorrow. First of all, as you learn, not only can they change, but they should change as you get older, as your goals change, as you evolve. If I was still making the same choices as I did when I was 20, there’d be a problem. Every decade, things will change, the season that you’re in will change. COVID changed everything. Having kids will change everything. Any time there’s a life change there’s going to be a transition.
So you can’t be like Ashley James does this, Kathleen Trotter does that, or I did this last year. I did this five years ago so I have to stay with it. No, it’s about being curious, but also holding yourself accountable because you really care and you respect yourself, your life, and that data. Knowing that each thing that you choose is a vote for the future you that you want to be. Again, I’m quoting James Clear. I absolutely love him. I don’t know if you’ve read the book Atomic Habits, but if you haven’t, if anybody’s listening, such an awesome book.
He talks about all this stuff like how do you make habits small enough that they make it different. Small enough that you can do them, but big enough that they make a difference. That they compound, and that you’re creating the future you that you want. Because often, at the moment, things seem like not a big deal. Oh, it’s okay. I can have that hamburger, or I can skip a workout. But imagine if five years from now you skip everyday workouts, or you have hamburgers every single day and fries. That future you is not going to be the healthiest you that you want, but it goes the other way too.
You often think, oh well, what does it matter if I have a salad or not? But it’s like, well yeah, but if you have a salad every single day for the next five years, that will matter. The compound interest of everything really does make a difference. I encourage everybody to just listen to what we say and think oh interesting. This is all information that could work for me and maybe won’t work for me. I could try it. It could be part of my science experiment that is my health.
Most of the time, there’s really good principles that underlie all the actual information. What’s that Aristotle quote? It’s the mark of an educated man for the person who can entertain an idea without believing it or without taking it for certainty or something. You look it up. It’s a great quote, but basically, what it says is to listen to everything and decide what works for you. Try to figure out the underlying principles behind it.
Weight Watchers, for example, you count your points. You might say, well, I’m not somebody who wants to count points. I’d rather count calories, or I’d rather count macros or whatever. All of that is good, but it’s all just an example of doing the same thing, which is becoming aware of what you put in your mouth. So the principle of basically every single way of eating is to know what you’re putting in your body, and then how you do it will depend on what works for you.
If you’re somebody who’s really in love with having a community, then maybe you’re like oh, Weight Watchers is for me because that’s what I want. But if you’re somebody who’s not, maybe you do food delivery service, or maybe you’re more into vegan, vegetarianism, or whatever it is. But either way, no matter what you do, whatever food system you do, you have to be aware of what you put in your body. I’m a big believer in starting to just really see the principles behind actions and using everything as data for the recipe of success that will work for you.
[00:27:13] Ashley James: Yes. There’s a lot that I really like about Weight Watchers because they’re not telling you what to eat. You could be vegan, you could be whole food plant-based. You could do keto very well on Weight Watchers, but there are many healthy ways of eating that you could do. I love that there’s a system. I love that they really focus on more fiber.
We are not getting enough fiber as a society. On average, North Americans eat 15 grams of fiber. I don’t know about those in Mexico, but I know Canadians, the United States, and other countries that eat very similar sorts of American diets. You get about 15 grams of fiber a day, which is horrible. We want to aim towards closer to 50 grams of fiber. You have to be incredibly intentional to get to 50 grams of fiber. I love this advice—grab a variety of vegetables so you’re always doing different ones.
[00:28:07] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. Most colors.
[00:28:08] Ashley James: And as you’re prepping them, so you’re chopping them up, take a handful, put them aside, and eat whatever you’re chopping up. You’re going to eat a few handfuls of raw while you’re cooking, and then steam every day two pounds of vegetables and snack on them. Have them with your meals, have them as a snack while you’re cooking other stuff. Have it on the go. Do it al dente so it’s not like soggy vegetables, and then you can make all kinds of great healthy sauces you can make. I love spicy things so I can put spicy sauces on it. But there are all kinds. You can drizzle different balsamic, which can taste absolutely amazing, or mustard, or whatever.
If you can get two pounds of a variety of vegetables—both raw and cooked—into you, it doesn’t have to be a ton of raw, but just munch on some raw while you’re prepping it. Steaming is the easiest thing in the world. Boil water, throw it in the steamer. I have a bamboo steamer you get at the Asian market.
[00:29:05] Kathleen Trotter: Come to your house. You could cook for me.
[00:29:07] Ashley James: Yeah, I love those things. They stack, and I put it on top of a wok or a big pot that it fits on top of. Set a timer. I’ve forgotten that it was cooking something on the stove. Come back half an hour later. I’m like oh my gosh.
[00:29:21] Kathleen Trotter: Oh my gosh. I’ve done that so many times.
[00:29:22] Ashley James: So set a timer on the stove, or use the Instant Pot. You can steam stuff in the Instant Pot super quick as well. But basically, if you can steam, and always choose a variety. You want a nutrient profile that’s a variety, but also you don’t get bored.
[00:29:38] Kathleen Trotter: Each food has a different nutritional profile.
[00:29:41] Ashley James: Yeah, so today’s broccoli and cauliflower. Tomorrow’s a bunch of different colored green beans. The next day is different red peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. But basically, it takes less than 10 minutes to do it in the kitchen and just carry it with you throughout the day and snack on it. Then maybe bring some hummus with you, some baba ghanoush, or some kind of dip. There are ways to make it really quick and you’re getting way more new nutrition into you. You’re getting nutrient-dense but lower-calorie food by eating two pounds of vegetables. Two pounds of non-starchy vegetables is about 200 calories, and it’s so much fiber that it really makes a difference.
Fiber helps the body to eliminate hormones we no longer need in the body, toxins. It helps to balance blood sugar levels, helps with weight loss. I mean, the list goes on and on. It feeds the microbiome.
[00:30:42] Kathleen Trotter: I think that’s a great tip, and I think that the word you used really early on, you said intentional. I remember once being at a talk with Rachel Hollis, and she said, the trick to health is being intentional AF, intentional as fork, right? And I think that’s really, really important. I love that system, and I think that would be, for me, an example of what I would say to a client is a system.
Have a time where you’re prepping food. Prep a bunch of different things. Cut up vegetables, steam some vegetables, and have things ready and prepped because I think that’s a great system. Especially if you know at 3:00 PM you’re always feeling a little bit peckish for sugar. Then it’s like, oh, well but I have these vegetables already prepared. So it’s not like I “had to have this snack” or “it was just right there.” I think intentional is a keyword about your health because a lot of us get swept up by life, and we don’t design our habits. They sort of happen by default, and we often will say, well, I had to do this.
My clients would say this all the time. I was out and about and I got really hungry, so I had to have this chocolate bar. If they were taking your advice, they would be carrying some cut up vegetables with them, or they would have an apple and a couple of almonds. They would have a snack, right? So that goes with being intentional, and intentional is connected to having those systems ready. But it’s also connected to knowing yourself because if you know 3:00 PM is the time that you always have a sugary snack, then instead of just being like, oh well, I always have that sugary snack. Boy, I’m a bad person. And then feeling shame, guilt, and frustration. Then be like, oh, interesting. I always have a 3:00 PM sugary snack. What can I do about it?
Maybe you’re not having enough vegetables, healthy fats, and protein at lunch. So that’s maybe why you’re craving sugar. Maybe you’re frustrated always at your boss. Maybe you need to go for a walk. Maybe you need to have those vegetables ready and prepped. But if you use that as data, then you can create a system that works for you because you’re being intentional and mindful about your health. I have to use every opportunity as I can to bring in Brené Brown because I love her. I think what she would say at this moment is it’s really important to understand the difference between guilt and shame.
We’ll just go with this 3:00 PM snack. If you always have the sugary 3:00 PM snack, then if you go into a shame spiral about it, it’s more often going to lead to further negative habits for your health like skipping a workout, having more sugar at dinner. So shame is connected to you as a person. I have a 3:00 PM sugary snack every day, so I’m a bad person. Versus guilt is connected to the behavior. I have a 3:00 PM snack every day. That’s not a behavior I want to replicate. How can I learn from that? You see the difference between a behavior and thinking it’s you as a human.
When you connect behaviors to shame and feelings of lack of worth and that that you’re never going to be good enough, then it just makes your nervous system and your emotional brain want to continue with those negative habits, right? Because we often do those emotionally soothing habits. We’re trying to self-soothe, we’re emotionally distant, or whatever we’re doing is normally because we’re very anxious or we’re stressed. But the problem is then you have that sugary snack and that causes more of that feeling or emotion that made you want to have that sugary snack in the first place. It’s this terrible self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a negative spiral.
So again, I go back to using it as data and understanding the guilt versus shame and being like, okay, so I don’t love that behavior. How do I change it? I circle back to that self-talk and the systems that we were talking about earlier because it’s about having self-talk that serves you because you respect yourself. Let’s say your kid came home and they got a bad math grade. You wouldn’t say to this child, you’re a loser. You might as well just quit math. That would be a shame-inducing response because that’s them of them as a person.
You would say to them, oh, interesting. You’ve got a bad math grade. Are you stressed right now? Do you need a tutor? How can I support you better? Are you being bullied at school? Are you not getting enough sleep? When you talk to yourself about your health, about your exercise, about your sugary snacks, about what time you’re finishing eating, if you’re having enough fiber. All of those things, you have to talk to yourself like you would talk to your kid who brought home a bad math grade. This is data to be analyzed and then think about the idea of cutting up the vegetables. That’s a great system because you want to make healthy choices as convenient as possible. And then you want to make unhealthy choices as inconvenient as possible.
Don’t have the crap in the house that you could snack on. So then you’re like, oh, well there’s nothing really to eat other than these vegetables and this lean protein. Okay, well, I’m going to go for it. I love that.
[00:35:46] Ashley James: But also, I think it’s very easy this day and age to order out. Oh, I don’t feel like cooking. There’s nothing in. Even go as far as to prep food and have meals already cooked in the fridge for sure.
[00:36:00] Kathleen Trotter: Or prep different ingredients. Have a bunch of quinoa, have a bunch of chicken breasts, have a bunch of veggies cut up, so then you can whip up—I call them hot-cold salads with greens on the bottom and then a bunch of hot stuff on the top. Or a quinoa bowl or whatever it is, but you want to make the healthy choices as fast as unhealthy choices or faster, and yummy too, right? You want to make it realistic and something that you find yummy.
I did a BT segment this morning, and we were talking about sort of similar ideas and I was using my mom as an example. I love my mom. She’s amazing, but she hates chocolate. I love chocolate as I said earlier. I was saying, if she was going to make a shake in the morning—because we were talking about shakes being healthy things you could pre-assemble the night before or have things ready and just sort of grab and go.
If I said to her that she had to have a shake with chocolate protein powder, avocado, and almond butter, she would be like that’s disgusting. I’m not going to do it. If I said to her she had to go for a run, she would be like I hate running. I’m not going to do it. Whereas she loves yoga, she loves walking the dog, and she loves vanilla things. If somebody said to me, well, your exercise routine is going to be yoga and vanilla protein shakes. I’d be like, oh gross. I’m not going to do it.
So part of it is like knowing what you love and what you will actually do. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be what you love but at least what you don’t despise so that you can do it on a consistent basis. It has to be convenient. What you do once in a while doesn’t matter. It’s what you do most of the time that’s much more important. So figure out what you do consistently.
[00:37:33] Ashley James: Yes, that’s a great point to bring up. In my intake form for my clients, I have a question. What percentage of food do you eat out, or what percentage of food is not home-cooked? What percentage of food is home-cooked, are not home-cooked? Either way. At first, my clients will say, oh 80% of my food is home-cooked or whatever. It’s a high number, and then about a week in they’ll say, you know what, I’ve spent the last week thinking about that question. I realized that it’s closer to 30% of my food is home-cooked. It’s so easy to forget. If you’re not keeping track of the last week, the last month, or the last year, it’s so easy to forget.
It’s so easy to eat out, so many food delivery services. It’s just so easy to eat this food. And the thing is, even if you think you ordered something somewhat healthy—some kind of delivery food—restaurants choose the lowest quality ingredients because it saves them money.
[00:38:36] Kathleen Trotter: And big portions too.
[00:38:38] Ashley James: You’re hard-pressed to find a locally-sourced, fresh, organic, no fried food, no oil. You’re hard-pressed to find this super healthy food if it’s takeout. One thing that I get my clients to do is we do these fun routines of stuff that they like so that they’re eating more and more and more food that’s home prepped. You instantly feel better when you’ve cut it out because there’s hidden sugar, there’s excess hidden salt, and there’s a ton of hidden oils that are really bad. They’re horrible. They’re polyunsaturated fatty acids that are absolutely horrible for us, and they disrupt our body’s ability to balance omegas healthfully.
There are other kinds there. Just think of what they’re cooking. These restaurants use non-stick, so there are toxins. There are all kinds of toxins in that food. Yeah, it tastes good because it’s excitatory. It’s salt, sugar, and oil, and it’s not the kind of thing that you would have in your food if you cooked at home. It’s just looking at what percentage are you eating out every day as a habit and figuring out how to get most of your food cooked at home where you know exactly what’s going into your body.
[00:40:03] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I think all of your points are fantastic, but I think what I was laughing at is you said people say, well, only a little bit do I eat out. And then eventually, they think, oh no, actually it’s more. I think that’s across the board with so many habits. I often joke with my clients that we all underestimate our unhealthy habits and overestimate our healthy habits. I’ll say, how much junk food do you eat, or what do you like to eat? Oh, I like chips. Oh, how often do you have chips? Oh, not very often. It’s a treat, they’ll tell me. I’m like, okay, great. Why don’t you just start to become mindful of how often you have that treat.
What’s funny is what most of us learn to appreciate is that what we think are treats are actually much more norms. I’m all for having a treat once in a while. I think that savoring something that you love is really important. I call it my love it rule. You want to make sure that you have moderate amounts of things that you love, but you don’t mindlessly eat a bunch of crap that’s not good for you. But I think the problem is people end up thinking what they’re doing is a once in a while love it rule treat, and really it’s daily. It’s not a treat. It’s actually just a normal thing.
Again, it goes back to that understanding the principles of healthy eating. Basically, the key principle is just awareness. I love the quote, with awareness brings choice. You can’t choose healthier habits or to change anything if you don’t know what you’re doing at this moment. Keeping a food journal is great for a couple of weeks just to see what are the things that are actually treats versus what are the things I’m doing on a daily basis that aren’t serving me. And then you can decide.
Because as I said, I love these fudge bars. They’re terrible for me. They’re full of absolute crap. But twice a year, in the summer, if I want to go and sit with my mom outside on the porch and have one, I’m fine with that. But I’m not fine with having like six of them a week because they’re both bad for my body. And then when you overeat, they’re also then bad for your soul, your emotional being, or whatever. If you’re going to have something that’s not good for your body, at least you want to savor it and have it only a couple of times a year. It should be something that you absolutely love.
That’s something I really talk about with my clients. It’s just this choice value of taking a moment, pausing, and just deciding is this worth it? What nutrition is this getting for me? What is this doing for my body? To circle back to what we started with, how is my future self going to feel if I have this? Because often, at the moment, we want things. But often, the things that we want at the moment are not the things that serve us long term. So much of health is not letting our momentary desires and impulses dictate our behaviors. I think that, unfortunately, a lot of us have learned that skill with other things. We want to skip work, but we still go. You might get really angry with somebody, but you don’t punch them in the face.
We’ve learned, okay, well my desire is to not go to work, but I have to go anyway. My desire is to get violent right now, but I’m not going to do that. But for some reason, a lot of us with our health, we haven’t figured out how to not let our impulses and desires dictate our behaviors as much. Some of us have and listen, that’s hard. But I think that’s where the awareness comes in because you can say, oh interesting. Every time I get mad at somebody I want to eat a cookie. Is the cookie worth it? Is it going to make me happy? If I’m angry at that person, should I just have a conversation with the person that I’m angry with? Maybe they shouldn’t be my friend, or maybe we need to set better boundaries.
I like to tell my clients, all emotions are data, but they’re not directives. You can feel something. You can use it as data, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the thing that you want to do or act the way that you have always acted. Maybe when you’re sad, as opposed to binging on food that you’re going to feel really crappy about later, you have a bath, you phone a friend, or you meditate. But still honoring the emotion that you’re in and then going from there. I think it all comes back to awareness, being able to figure out what are my norms versus what are my treats, and knowing yourself.
I think that what you just said about not ordering in and cooking, part of why it’s so important to cook is that it actually takes a lot more intentionality and a lot more of awareness. It’s really easy in your not aware self to comb the internet and be like okay, well, Uber is going to deliver me this, this, and this. It’s in a haze of emotion. Whereas if you have to cook it at home, you have had to think about what am I going to buy? You have to plan your week. Am I going to cook this salad, or am I going to cook chicken?
There’s a lot more thought that goes into what am I bringing into my house? Is it a good quality olive oil? Is it an avocado oil? What vegetables? Where did I buy it? Is it from a local farm? It’s slightly harder to be super emotional about it if you’re planning in advance all of your food.
[00:45:13] Ashley James: Right. Well, you can’t do some instant gratification too if you’re planning it out.
[00:45:17] Kathleen Trotter: Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. You’re taking away some of that desire. I mean, if you bring crap into the house, you can still at 11:00 PM at night binge on it. That’s where we go back to making as much tension between you and those habits as possible. I just don’t bring crap into the house that I don’t want to eat.
[00:45:40] Ashley James: Right. For me, this started a long time ago. I don’t bring alcohol into the house, and I don’t bring sugar into the house. I really love chocolate, but I find—and this is something I want to bring up—that my taste buds and my cravings have significantly changed in the last 10 years along my health journey.
Ten years ago, I would have identified as a night owl, a chocoholic. You could not keep me away from chocolate. Now, I really can take it or leave it, but I have a brand. It’s called Lily, and I get the vegan dark chocolate sweetened with stevia two bars a month, and I don’t even eat the whole bar. Before, 10 years ago, whatever bar I’d get I’d have to finish. Now, I can have a few pieces, be like, that was yummy, and then I’m done. I’m satisfied.
I just noticed that my taste buds, even in the last three years since I’ve been whole food plant-based, eating more and more whole ingredients. A variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and gluten-free greens. I just noticed that my taste buds have changed.
[00:46:54] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. You trended differently. You’re just slowly changing into it. I know for sure.
[00:47:01] Ashley James: Recently, I ate something that I used to love 10 years ago. I’m like, this doesn’t even taste good anymore. I don’t know. I used to get all excited about it. Now, I’m like, you know what, I can get really excited about a huge salad with 20 different vegetables. I start salivating. If you say the word kale, I have a Pavlovian response.
[00:47:27] Kathleen Trotter: Like brussels sprouts, roasted, oh my God.
[00:47:30] Ashley James: Right, roasted brussels sprouts are amazing. Any kind of hummus, any kind of hummus and carrots, or anything crunchy. These foods are fantastic and delicious. The past me from 10 years ago is like what are you doing? This is disgusting. And the me now is I love this. I think even if you don’t love-love vegetables now, just try them on and find the ones you do love, and your taste buds will change. There’s evidence to show that your microbiome is what causes us to have cravings because the microbiome hijacks it. It actually makes like neurochemicals that hijack our brain.
So when we have an overgrowth of candida, for example, an overgrowth of bacteria that is more negative, that’s more harmful to the body, it will tell us to crave things that are really harmful. And if we choose to eat healthier foods for a long period of time, we end up culturing a microbiome that then tells us we love those foods.
[00:48:37] Kathleen Trotter: I have to tell you a funny story. I grew up, as I said earlier, really unhealthy and really unfit. Do you guys have East Side Mario’s in the states?
[00:48:45] Ashley James: No, they don’t.
[00:48:46] Kathleen Trotter: Okay, it doesn’t matter. But it’s like a pasta place. I grew up, as I said, I was overweight. I was unhealthy. I never exercised, and I used to love East Side Mario’s.
[00:48:55] Ashley James: Me too.
[00:48:56] Kathleen Trotter: Not only did I love East Side Mario’s, but I loved the three-cheese cappelletti. It was pasta with cheese on the inside and then covered in cheese. It was disgusting. Anyway, around 17 I started to get healthier. My life changed. That’s a whole story that we can get into if you want, but around 23, 24, I hadn’t had East Side Mario’s for like six years. I was running a half marathon. I was running with my friend, and I’ll never forget. We went through a hard time in the race, and I was like, oh my God. I’m going to die. She said, if you just get through this, you can have any meal you want. I was like, okay. We’re going to go to East Side Mario’s. She was like, fine, whatever.
So that got me through the race, this idea of I’m going to East Side Mario’s. It’s going to be amazing. So we get to East Side Mario’s, and I ordered my food. I’m so excited. The food came and it was so gross. Not only did it taste bad. I literally did not like them. This is just exactly what you’re saying in the taste buds. Not only did I not enjoy eating it, because I hadn’t had pasta or cheese. None of that crap was I eating, but it made me so physically ill. It was so gross. That was when I was about 24. I’m now almost 38, and I haven’t had East Side Mario’s since. But it’s exactly to your point. Our taste buds change, and that’s why it’s really important to be curious about different things because we will, hopefully, evolve.
I don’t want to be the same person in 10 years that I am now like. That’s the whole point of living. I know 10 years ago I wouldn’t have told you that I love sauerkraut, but oh boy do I love sauerkraut now. It’s so good.
[00:50:30] Ashley James: Oh yes. Fermented food.
[00:50:32] Kathleen Trotter: But you have to be curious. Yeah, so good, and so good for your gut and all this stuff. At the age of 15, I would have told you that what I liked was Orange Crush, East Side Mario’s, and as much chocolate and sugary penny candy as you could. We’d go to 7-Eleven and you’d get these big feet and all that kind of stuff. Now, if you try to make me do that, just thinking about that stuff makes me vomit. Do you know what I mean?
[00:50:59] Ashley James: Yes.
[00:51:00] Kathleen Trotter: Okay. One more example of this, and this is just to give everybody hope if they’re listening they’re like, what, are you guys crazy? I’m not going to like East Side Mario’s? I, again, love chocolate, but I used to eat a lot more of it. Now, it’s really only a couple times a year, and it’s very good quality chocolate. Well, except for the fudge bars. They’re not good quality, but anyway. That’s beside the point. When I did my first Ironman—I think I was 25—and my partner James, he was like what do you want when you’re done with Ironman. I was like, well, for 10 years, I haven’t had a Blizzard. I used to love Dairy Queen.
We’re in Lake Placid and there’s no Dairy Queen. I just say to him you have to make me a homemade Blizzard. He goes to the grocery store and he buys all these ingredients. I finished Ironman and he makes me this thing. It had brownie bits and all these different stuff. I had one bite, and I was like, I want to vomit. Not only did this make me feel sick because I just did an Ironman, but it was terrible quality ice cream, terrible quality chocolate, and it didn’t taste good. I didn’t want it. But again, if you told my 15-year-old self that one day I would turn down a homemade Blizzard, I would literally tell you that you were crazy.
I would do anything. I used to lie to get out of gym class. I would say I was sick because I didn’t want to change in front of anybody. I would walk home to school and I would time my walks so that I could stop, get fish and chips, and eat it while I was walking. And then I had mouthwash in my bag that I would wash my mouth out so my mom wouldn’t know that I was eating this type of food.
I would go to the grocery store. I would buy a bag of M&M’s. I’d eat the entire bag of M&M’s, and then I’d go back to the grocery store. I was so full of shame that I would lie to the teller and say that I dropped the bag of M&M’s on the floor and therefore I needed to buy another one. These are the types of games I played. I would go to Subway and I want a 12-inch sub. So I would buy a 12-inch sub and I would tell the person I was buying it for me and my friend that we were going to split it, but I just wanted the entire 12-inch sub.
I lied, I would say, three times a day at least about my food to my mom, to my dad, to everybody. It was just my taste buds, my self-esteem, and my self-worth. Everything changed, but it changed gradually. It’s not that I woke up one day and is all of a sudden this Kathleen that’s 37. The first time I went to the gym, I walked for 10 minutes. I got off the treadmill, and I thought I was going to vomit. You know when you’ve never been on a treadmill and you’re on that belt, and then you get off and the room is all spinny? That’s what happened to me after 10 minutes. I was like I can’t do this anymore.
But then I just kept going, and I went back. The next time I went was 15 minutes, and then 20 minutes. You got to embrace the little wins especially when you’re first starting. Those little wins, that’s what accumulates and eventually makes those big changes.
[00:53:50] Ashley James: I like that you said trending positive. I think that’s going to be my new motto.
[00:53:55] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, it’s great. It’s not a linear journey. Also, that’s another thing that’s really important to understand is it’s a hill and you want a trend, but you’re going to have paradigm shifts. But within each paradigm, you’re going to go up and down. It’s not that every single day is better than the day that was before, but I can definitely tell you that in my 30s, I have healthier habits than in my 20s, and in my 20s I had healthier habits than in my teens.
On a whole, my demons have kind of softened, and on a whole, my habits are much healthier. On a whole, if I fall off my horse, the fall is much less severe. I get back on much faster, and I learn. I love the idea of everyone’s going to fall off the horse, but it’s how quickly do you course correct and how much do you learn from that experience?
My falling off the horse now might just be snoozing my alarm five times and missing half of my workout. But 10 years ago, what might have happened is if I’d snoozed my alarm five times, I might have been like, oh well, who cares. I’ll just skip the entire workout. Now I’m like, no. Even if I can only do 20 minutes, 20 minutes is better than nothing. The slips are different. I learn better, and I’m better at not berating myself and being so unbelievably mean to myself about the slips. It’s much more of a growth process.
I love the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. I don’t know if you know that book, but it’s all about growth mindset, and it’s so unbelievably important with everything. But particularly, I think about our health because I think we expect perfection and then I think perfection is not possible. And then when we can’t be perfect, most of us just quit. I think it’s so much, much, much, more important to have a growth mindset and to just trend in the right direction.
Know that you’re human and know you’re going to make mistakes. But can you make mistakes at a different level? Can you make mistakes on your jog versus on your walk? Or can you make mistakes on your workout versus making mistakes sitting and not doing anything? As you said, trend in the right direction and know there’s always going to be a struggle. What’s that phrase? It’s like a new level, new devil. Every level you get to, every paradigm shift about your health, there’s always going to be a devil that you’re fighting, but it’s just going to be a different devil.
[00:56:09] Ashley James: That’s really interesting. I don’t know if it’s the Kabbalah, but there’s a belief in the archetypes that the devil archetype is us standing behind ourselves with a pitchfork poking ourselves in the back. So it’s actually like a duplicate of you standing behind you testing your resolve.
Let’s say you’re a smoker and you’re like, today’s the day I’m going to quit. Five minutes from now you see people smoking outside, and there’s that little devil which is actually you. Little voice in your head poking you with the pitchfork in the back going, are you sure? Are you sure? How about this? Here, I’m going to give you people smoking in front of you. Are you sure? Now I’m going to give you a stressful situation because that was your go-to to handle it? Are you sure? Are you sure?
I’m not saying that the devil does or doesn’t exist. What I’m saying is that the archetype of any time we put out to the universe, we say this is my new norm now. This is my new goal. This is my new me. There’s an archetype of the devil testing our resolve. We just have to know that’s like, okay, I will not back down. Yes, I’m going to be tested and I’m going to prove to myself, I’m going to prove to that devil hitting me with the pitchfork, yes, I do have resolve. This is the new norm I’m working towards.
I wanted to touch on the guilt versus shame again because I think it’s really important. You talked about doing these little habits. Let’s say the person goes for a 10-minute walk and the shame might be there. Guilt is regretting actions or inactions.
[00:58:00] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, so guilt is the behavior. You can feel like, oh, I wish I’d done 20 minutes versus 10. I wish I didn’t go faster. It’s on the behavior. But as soon as you put it to, well, I’m the type of person who’s lazy, or I’m a failure. That’s what’s problematic. It’s one thing to acknowledge behaviors. I’m huge into growth and being—as I said, that balance between compassion and striving. I definitely believe in goals and striving. But you want to make sure that you have compassion, and compassion and shame do not go hand in hand.
[00:58:36] Ashley James: Yes. So shame, which is really interesting. I’ve had this woman on the show a few times. She’s an expert in magnesium. She’s led this group of women through a course. A big group of women through a course on healing their bodies and especially healing adrenal fatigue. What she noticed is every single woman except for about six of them got 100% results. She was like, what’s going on? She said, okay. She took the six women or this handful of women that didn’t. It was like maybe 100 women that did this and maybe six of them didn’t get results. It was a big number of people that got results. So she sat with them and said, we’re going to work through. We’re going to figure out why is it that so many of the women in this group got such great results, but you guys didn’t.
She saw it over and over again because she teaches this course often. She finally figured it out that when women have shame present as an almost daily thing, it stops them. No matter how much nutritional supplements, exercise, sleep, and rest, all those things, none of the positive things would allow their adrenals to heal because the shame was keeping them in that fight-or-flight mode. Keeping them and stopping their healing.
I think it’s just really, really important to identify if we do have shame, if we do have that self-talk that’s saying, I’m stupid, I’m fat, I’m ugly, or no one’s going to love me. That negative self-talk is shame. To identify that and to then know that we have to work on that. Is there anything that you can give us to help identify? First, like you said, becoming aware is the first step. Do you have any advice or guidance for healing shame?
[01:00:32] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. There are a couple of things. So I think often our biggest villain in our health is the voice in our own heads, and we have this evil roommate so often. If it was another human being who lived with us, who talked to us like that, we would say get the freaking out of here. You are not welcome. You can’t be my roommate. But yet it’s okay for us to talk to ourselves like that? I think part of it is just really recognizing that if you had a child that you talked to like that, if you had a parent that you talked to like that, they wouldn’t be your friend. Why do you think that you can talk to yourself like that, right?
So I often really just encourage myself that health is really a re-parenting process. It’s learning how to talk to yourself in the way that you would talk to your child or in the way that you would talk to your aging parent. In a way that shows that you love and respect yourself, but again, that awareness piece is really key. Maybe you have to keep a journal about your internal thoughts. Write down some of the loops that you have in your head and work on those.
Maybe every night you just take five minutes and just say, okay, what are three things that I did really well today—three positive thought loops, three actions, and how do I reproduce those? What was the emotional space that I was in when I had that thought? Or I went for a walk, what helped me do that? And then what are three things that I would like to eliminate from my thought process, and how can I do that? Step back and just take a little bit more of an objective view of it.
Okay, well if this was my child who was having this action like staying up until 11:00 PM at night and not being able to go to bed. Okay, how would I help her have a better evening routine? That can be really helpful. I call that the reproduce versus eliminate journal. It’s again using it all as growth. And even just taking a moment like just having an alarm that goes off once an hour and just take 10 seconds and just think, okay, what was the most recent self-talk that I used on myself? Was it useful? Because often these things are so unconscious we’re not even aware that we are using them.
Sometimes just free flow journaling is really useful, again, because we’re not even aware of how we’re talking to ourselves or how we feel. So just getting it out there and then you can look at it and be like, okay, interesting. Is this my critic? Is this like a parent? When you read this is it like, oh interesting. That’s how my dad used to talk to me when I was five. Well, that wasn’t helpful then. It’s not helpful now.
I think some type of objective view, however, you’re going to get that whether that is through morning pages journaling, reproduce versus eliminating, or whether that’s going to therapy, and just really, really trying to produce a relationship in your head with somebody like it’s a roommate or somebody that you care about. When those negative thoughts come up, the more you’re aware of the thought loops that you get into, the more you’re able to say, nope, I’m not going there. But the first step is to become aware of the thought loops.
Honestly, most people when I start to train them, they will say things and they don’t even realize that they’re shaming themselves or shoulding themselves. I should have done this and I didn’t. They’d go for a walk and instead of being like I’m so proud of myself, I went for a walk. They’ll be like, oh, I only went for a walk. Well, that’s great. It’s better than doing nothing. So now use that walk as a jumping-off point for more positive health habits.
Noting the little wins I think is really key. Noting the little wins of when you speak to yourself nicely as well as when you go for a walk, as well as when you have a glass of water. And also just realizing that none of us are perfect. In the example that you gave earlier when you said about the shame about when you did something stupid. I forget the examples that you gave. I think part of it is just recognizing that you are sometimes going to say stupid. I say stupid stuff. In this interview, I probably said some stupid stuff, and that’s okay because guess what, I’m human.
Within the realm of normal, you have to just allow yourself to be human. You’re not always going to speak to yourself perfectly because perfect doesn’t exist. You’re not always going to be the smartest. You’re not always going to have the best run. You’re not always going to be having the healthiest dinner. It’s about the trends, and it’s about when you make a decision and be like, okay, so am I proud of this decision? Am I not? Okay, well, let’s learn from it. You can’t be perfect all the time.
I remember listening to this podcast once. It was actually about parenting and the interviewer was saying, well, I just tell my kids just always do your best. The woman who was being interviewed, her name is Kristin Neff, and she writes a lot about self-compassion. She said I just want to hold you there. She said, I actually think that it’s not about teaching your kids to always do your best because that’s just going to put them in the hospital. They can’t always do their best. It’s about teaching your kids when it’s important to do their best and when it’s important to just go to bed, or when it’s important to just read a book and chill.
It sounds like a weird connection to the question about shame and guilt, but I actually think it’s really important. You can’t always do your best because then you will get adrenal fatigue. That’s what causes it. It’s like oh my God. If I’m not perfect I’m going to die. Oh my God. But that’s a thought loop that so many of us women get into. Listen, you can do anything but not everything. You have to choose what are the things, what are the battles that are worth battling, what are the hills that are worth dying on, what are the things you’re going to do your best on, and what are the things that you’re just going to say you know what that’s not that important to me. Goodbye. I’m setting my boundary. I’m going to say no to this because a no to that is a yes to something that I do care about.
I think a lot of getting rid of shame is just getting rid of this idea that you have to be perfect and you have to do it all. You can’t do it all. You can’t be perfect, and nobody is perfect. They might pretend to be perfect on social media, but let me tell you, nobody’s perfect because we’re all human. We’re messy humans, and that’s what’s great about being human. We’re just this hot mess.
[01:06:43] Ashley James: I totally celebrate being a hot mess. I’m like, no one has it all together.
[01:06:49] Kathleen Trotter: No, and they would be freaking boring if they did. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t grow and learn. What’s a great example? About a month ago, I did my first Skype media segment for CTV, and I’d never done a Skype one before. I’ve done lots of podcasts, but never a video. Honestly, it wasn’t that great. It wasn’t terrible, but 10 years ago, oh my God, would I have berated myself. Kathleen, you were frenetic. I was a little bit too far away from the camera, so I was yelling. I would have just been so mean to myself. And instead, what I said to myself was you know what, I did do the best I could, but anytime you do anything new, you are never going to be great at it because that’s the nature of doing new things. They’re hard, and now, what can you learn from this?
I watched it a number of times. I learned. I realized I needed to be sitting in a chair so I could be closer to Skype and I could get a better camera angle and all this stuff. And then I did the next one a week later and it was 10 million times better. But it wouldn’t have been better if I had berated myself about that first segment and be like oh, Kathleen, you’re a loser. You’re never going to be really good. The second segment would have probably been twice as bad because I would have been so nervous, I would have been shaking in my boots. I would have felt like a loser. And instead, the second one was way better because I learned and I grew.
I think the net is just the first time you do anything—and this is circling back to you don’t have to be great to start but you do have to start to get great, standardizing before you can optimize. People listening, Brené Brown has a podcast Unlocking Us, and her first episode ever was on FFTs, Forking First Times. The point of the podcast is that any time you’ve never done anything, you’re going to be bad at it. It’s going to be messy and just embrace it. That’s the only way you get better.
If you’ve never gone for a run, the first time you go for a run it’s going to suck. Embrace the suck. If you’ve never cooked a dish, it’s probably going to not be that great. Who cares? Try it. Learn. I’m trying to think of workouts. The first time I went to a CrossFit gym, oh my God, I was scared. I was like, I’ve never been here, but it was kind of fun and everyone was nice to me. I sucked at a bunch of things, but it didn’t matter. The first time I went for a run I was terrible. The first race I ever did was terrible. But now I’m way better, and I’m a better runner. CrossFit’s not really my jam, but I go every once in a while, and when I go, I’m way better than the first time. I don’t know. Persevere, learn, grow, and be kind to yourself.
But that doesn’t mean let yourself off the hook. I think people take this advice and they think, oh, well, Kathleen says being nice to myself. That means eating 17 cookies, watching 14 hours of Netflix, and never working out because I love myself. No, if you love yourself, you respect yourself enough to go for a walk, drink some water, and get some sleep. It’s a really fine balance of striving but with compassion.
[01:09:41] Ashley James: What I got from what you just said is when we stay in shame we’re stuck and we can’t grow.
[01:09:50] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, I love that. Oh my God. I need to quote that’s. Okay, I’m going to quote you. When you stay in shame you’re stuck and you can’t grow. Yes because shame keeps you in—I don’t know if you know the polyvagal theory, but it’s a nervous system theory basically. They would say that when you stay in shame you don’t get to go in the ventral vagal system, so you’re not in that creative place where you can be their best self. That you’re stuck in your sympathetic nervous system. Your nervous system is basically teaching your body to stay stuck because it’s that paralyzed, it’s messing with your hormones, and it doesn’t put you in the mental space where you can grow.
[01:10:32] Ashley James: Once you’re in sympathetic nervous system response, you lose access to your frontal cortex. We actually shunt blood away from the logic centers of our brain so we can’t think critically, like you said, create creatively. We can’t do three-dimensional problem solving, and also, it harms our digestion because we shunt blood away from our core.
[01:10:58] Kathleen Trotter: Absolutely. It’s a whole bunch of bad stuff.
[01:10:59] Ashley James: Right. Identifying when there’s a shame. So here’s the thing, I’ve had clients who I’ll say okay. Every week I’ll give them homework to decrease stress. I want to get them out of fight-or-flight mode, or I want to get them out of that sympathetic mode. They won’t do the homework. They’ll eat what I tell them to eat. They’ll do all these health habits, but when it comes to like, okay, I want you to do 15 minutes of watching a comedy that makes you laugh.
[01:11:27] Kathleen Trotter: I love that homework.
[01:11:30] Ashley James: Go find a comedian on YouTube. I love the stuff out of Canada. Just for Laughs is the best. I want you laughing like you’re almost going to pee yourself for 15 minutes a day on your lunch break or whatever. I want you to walk out of the office building and walking around the block out in nature trying to find a park. Those kinds of things. Those are the hardest, so any de-stressor any habit. I’ve told several clients, okay, when you get home the first thing I want you to do is put on amazing music and have a dance party with your kids.
What are fun activities that are going to like take you out of stress mode and bring back the feel-good hormones? I want you to hug your husband. Oxytocin. Hug your husband for three minutes straight. Just get into cuddle mode. And the funny thing is, these have been the hardest habits to get people to do. I’m like what’s going on? It’s easier to get someone to eat kale than it is to hug their husband or laugh. What’s going on?
You’d think it’d be easy, but then the feedback I’d get is that well, I don’t know why I have to do this. I don’t feel stress. I don’t feel stressed out. I’m like okay, great. Stress is not an emotion. I think that shame, for some people, people are so disconnected that they don’t actually know they’re in shame. That they don’t feel it. How we can identify it is the self-talk. If you’re beating yourself up, if your self-talk is abusive, and your self-talk is akin to I’m not good enough. No one loves me. I’m stupid. That was so dumb of me, wtf. If your self-talk is abrasive and tearing you down like an abusive spouse basically, like an abusive partner, you are in shame.
[01:13:20] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. It’s interesting, you were talking about the sympathetic nervous system. I think that’s very interesting. But if you look at what the polyvagal theory would say, and I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I just think it’s interesting to noodle on. They said there are three ways that you can be. You can be ventral vagal, so that’s in that creative mode where you make the best choices. You feel very content. Then there’s that sympathetic, which you were talking about. And then they would also say there’s what’s called dorsal vagal, which is almost like comatose, unable to make decisions.
I think what they would say is it’s important to understand or start to note the self-talk, but they would also say it’s really important to start noting your somatic experiences. When you are in that dorsal vagal space, and I’m just learning about polyvagal. If anybody’s interested in this, don’t take my word. Go research it yourself. I’m using it for myself. I’ve been in therapy for 20 years. I’ve done a lot of talk therapy, and I’m just starting to look into more of the somatic therapy of starting to understand how different states feel in my tissues. And the idea of that dorsal vagal system is that you actually feel almost like paralyzed. You can’t get that ignition energy to start doing anything. You feel sort of a lack, and you almost feel like a disconnect or disassociation from what you’re doing and your life.
Again, all of your suggestions would still be very helpful no matter which of those two systems you’re in, but that’s just another route to get to this idea if you’re feeling shame, if you’re feeling blocked, or if you’re feeling stuck. Start to feel how your body feels. Are you feeling almost away from your body, disconnected? Like that ostrich with the head in the sand. Because that could be showing you that you’re almost so in shame, you’re so in a fear mode that you’ve actually like left your body almost, and that makes it even harder to do any of those things. Because sometimes, when you’re in this sympathetic state—that stressful state—you actually have a lot of energy because you’re like nervous energy. That could be the time where you actually do things. You go for a walk, you go for a run. It’s not necessarily good for your adrenals, because you feel sort of more like I have to do something. Oh my God, if I don’t do something… It’s like that anxious state versus that dorsal vagal, which is almost like comatose. I need to go to bed state.
Anyway, I just find that really interesting. There’s a Derek Sivers quote. It’s like, if knowledge was enough, we’d all have six-pack abs and be billionaires. The truth is that everybody listening just needs to get on board with the knowledge of what to do with everything in life but particularly to do with your health. That knowledge is not enough. We know to drink more water, eat less processed foods, and go to bed earlier. But if that was enough, we’d all be healthy and health wouldn’t be this million-dollar, billion-dollar industry.
It’s a billion-dollar industry because it’s really freaking hard to do what we know how to do because our emotions get in the way. Our nervous system gets in the way. Our history with our self-talk gets in the way. Our history of how our parents talk to us gets in the way. How we were bullied in school. If you were bullied over your body, or if you were laughed at playing sports, of course, you don’t want to go out and go for a run. You might not consciously be thinking like, oh my God. I’m going to get bullied, but your nervous system has these memories of like people are not nice to me when I go. I have a shame feeling when I go exercise.
Part of exercising is retraining your nervous system. The reason why I hated it for so many years was I was overweight. People teased me. I would try to do things, I’d try to do sports, and I sucked at them. And then I got so embarrassed, and talk about shame— so filled with shame that I then didn’t want to do any of those things. I’ve been exercising for 20 years, but mostly I’ve been doing a lot of independent stuff like biking and running. It’s only been in the last five years that I’ve had enough confidence to go play basketball with my partner James. We play tennis, we play basketball, but for years he played all these different sports. I would go watch him, but I didn’t want to play team sports because even though I was fit and even though I loved exercising, I had such a nervous system memory of the shame that went along with not being able to hit the baseball very well and people teasing me. That I was like, hell no. I’m not doing that.
Like what we talked about with food, gradually my palate has changed to do with exercise, and I’m slowly learning to enjoy more team sports. But that goes along with letting go of the shame and realizing if I suck at a sport, who cares. It doesn’t matter. I’m not being paid. I’m not a professional basketball player. I don’t need to be good at it. I just need to be getting some exercise, moving around, and getting slightly better each time. That shame response, it’s not useful, it’s not helpful, it doesn’t make me happy, it doesn’t make me the best version of myself, it keeps me stuck, it keeps me basically on the sidelines, and I don’t want to be on the sidelines.
I want to be strong. I want to be empowered. I want to be energized. But it takes a lot of retraining growth mindset for the nervous system, right? A growth mindset for my brain to know that even if somebody does laugh at me, I don’t care. Somebody can go and laugh all they want. The doctors use the quote, those that mind don’t matter and those that matter won’t mind. So, people who love you, they’re not going to mind if you suck at basketball. People who care that you suck at basketball, they don’t matter. They can go jump on a river. But in order to think that way, you have to let go of shame. If you’re filled with shame, you care what everybody thinks.
As soon as you let go of shame you can be like, oh right, you don’t think I’m a very good tennis player? Guess what, I don’t care what you think. You are not part of my core five. I care what my partner James thinks. I care what my mom thinks. I care what my dad thinks. My best friend Emily, I care what she thinks. But if you’re not part of the people that I respect, and you don’t like what I’m doing, how I play a sport, or what I’m eating, I don’t care. But that comes with letting go of shame.
[01:19:39] Ashley James: I love it. There was this really interesting quote that changed my husband’s life. It’s none of your business what other people think of you.
[01:19:52] Kathleen Trotter: I love, love, love that quote, and it’s just so true.
[01:19:56] Ashley James: it’s none of your business what other people think of you. My husband almost fell off his chair. This was about 12 years ago, we were listening to this really cool dude. He would just spew Buddhisms and very Zen sayings. We’ve been into listening to alternative media. We shut off our cable TV 12 years ago, and we just streamed stuff on the internet—all kinds of amazing podcasts and stuff. This is a guy we followed like 12 years ago.
But my husband really struggled his whole life by worrying about what other people thought. He wouldn’t hold my hand in public. It was just weird stuff. I’m like what’s going on? He’s like I don’t know. I just can’t. I don’t know what I can do.
[01:20:39] Kathleen Trotter: It’s very common.
[01:20:40] Ashley James: We talked a lot about it. Ever since I met him, he’s always been super into personal growth, growing spiritually, and growing as a person. He loves really doing deep dives, he’s a man that wants to talk about his feelings. But he wants to grow. We’re like, okay, what’s going on. He’s like I’m stuck in this area. What’s going on? And then when he heard that, it gave him so much freedom because he really got that he was so worried about what everyone else thought, but it’s none of his business.
Just like you walk down the street, let’s say you see someone running funny and you judge them. You’re like haha, that person looks silly. It’s none of their business that you’re thinking that about them.
[01:21:19] Kathleen Trotter: No, it’s all on me. It’s my problem.
[01:21:23] Ashley James: That’s your thoughts. I see someone running down the street, and I have really great thoughts for them. I’m like, good for them, really good. You know what, whatever your thoughts are, they’re your private thoughts. Other people’s private thoughts are none of your business.
[01:21:40] Kathleen Trotter: It says much more about them than it says anything about you. I agree, but I would make a caveat on that though. I do love that quote, and I’ve heard that quote, but I actually do think you need a little asterisk beside it. Because it’s none of your business what other people think, but here’s the thing. I think that it is your business what your core five think. It is my business what my partner James thinks about me.
[01:22:07] Ashley James: Oh, sure.
[01:22:08] Kathleen Trotter: Now that doesn’t mean I have to agree with what he thinks about me. The thing about quotes and the thing about social media, we like these really broad generalizations. There is so much nuance in it. It’s just like the idea of like well, you shouldn’t care about… That book the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The whole premise of that book is we as human beings are programmed to care, we’re programmed to problem solve. But the idea is that if you’re going to care and you’re going to problem solve, you have to decide what problems are worth your time.
That’s I think the same thing about that quote. We as human beings are programmed. We’re meaning-making genes. We’re tribal. We’re bred for connection. We’re wired for connection as Brené Brown would say. I think you have to appreciate that you are going to care what people think, and the trick is that you should care. You can’t be in a good relationship with somebody if you don’t care what they think about you. But the trick is you need to care about what people think that you respect.
I decide on five or ten people in my life, and those are the people that I’m like, I wonder what James will think about this. And again, it’s not that I necessarily think that what he thinks I’m going to be like oh, well he says I shouldn’t wear red. Well, I’m not going to wear red. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is if he says something, because I respect him, I’m going to at least entertain the thought. And then I can say, well, no, you’re wrong. But it’s a very important thing.
I think it’s really easy to be, oh well, no one else’s opinion of me matters. I don’t think we live in a vacuum. I don’t actually think that that’s true. I don’t think the key is to care about nothing. I don’t know. I just think it’s trickier, and I think that life is a little bit more complicated than any of that. But then it’s about being intentional. Who am I going to care what they think about me? Who am I going to interact with? And who gets my attention?
[01:24:10] Ashley James: So it’s coming back to shame. One of my teachers, Tad James, of no relation. He’s a master trainer of neurolinguistic programming, and he says if you lived on an on a planet where there’s no one else, that you were the only person in the world ever, you would never experience shame. Shame exists because we live in a society with other people and because it’s our judgments of ourselves in relationship to other people. That quote, it’s none of your business what other people think of you, is directly about shameful thoughts and decisions that you’ve made about yourself. That’s what I mean.
If you’re so worried about strangers observing you while you’re exercising, it’s none of your business what they’re thinking. You do you. Go do your exercise. But if you catch yourself worrying what about other people think and that’s part of your shame spiral, then that’s stuff to work on.
[01:25:10] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, absolutely. And I’m not disagreeing with any of that. I completely agree with that. My point only was I just think these things are a little bit nuanced, and I think that part of the intentionality of all this is deciding who do you care what they think about you, and who do you care about? When I’m thinking about life and how to make my decisions in my day and what’s important, what do I say no to, and what do I say yes to? It matters the idea of you do you.
Okay. Well, again, that’s great, and I love that quote. But I think that yes, I do me, but I live in a world where I really care about James. I care about my mom. I also have to take those. I don’t have to do anything, but I decide that taking those people’s feelings and emotions into account is really important. I’m never going to do me at the expense of that, or at least I’m going to have a conversation with James.
Again, I just think it’s all about awareness and intention. Nothing that I’m saying is discrediting. I think you’re completely right. Shame is an internalization of the criticism we’ve had as kids from our peers, from our parents. All of that stuff is correct. I just think part of getting to be an adult is taking an inventory of what you care about? What do you want to say yes to? What do you want to say no to? Who do you care about? Who do you care what they think about you? What conversations do you want to have? What do you want to say hell yes to? What do you want to say hell no to?
If it’s really important that you get to bed by 10:00 PM, for example going back to you, okay, that means saying no to a bunch of things. That’s great. But every yes is a no. But in order to know what to say yes to, you have to know what to say no to.
[01:26:58] Ashley James: It sounds like really healthy boundaries and figuring it out. And then, like you said, not the expense of others. You use the example of doing team sports or doing exercise and other people are seeing you. You sound like you have very healthy relationships with your partner, with your mom, and your best friend, for example.
[01:27:19] Kathleen Trotter: It took years of therapy.
[01:27:23] Ashley James: Other people don’t have that yet, and they would never exercise in front of their partner, in front of their mom, or have their mom come to see them do team sports because they still have things to work through. That’s where I say, okay, figure out how you can get physically fit in an environment that fills you with joy and not shame or fear. Maybe it’s putting on a Zumba. Amazon Prime, free Zumba classes. There are so many great on Amazon Prime. Just as an example, so many great free fitness classes. Put it on the TV, do it in your bedroom, or do it in the living room when no one’s around.
But when you go out to do any kind of fitness and you notice that there are shameful judgments that you’re having about yourself, is it because you’re around people—those are toxic friends or toxic relationships? Is it because of the people you’re around, or is it because it’s you and you’re just worried about what everyone thinks of you? It’s stuff to work through. Like you said, awareness is the first step.
[01:28:36] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I just lost my train of thought. Look at me being messily human. My first book was called Finding Your Fit, and I think this is an excellent segue to that. It’s about meeting yourself where you are. Maybe, right now, you need to be what I would call a home bunny. That’s you’re working out at home, and then maybe in 10, 20 years, then maybe you go to Zumba class. If right now you can’t work out in front of other people, that’s fine. Exercise has to be non-negotiable, but the way you move your body is completely your fit.
[01:29:13] Ashley James: And where you move your body.
[01:29:15] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. Where, how, what you do. I’m going to use my mom because she is an amazing woman, and she’s the one who helped me figure out this concept. Basically, in a nutshell, unhealthy child, unhealthy teenager. I hated my body, was super full of shame. My mom said to me, “Listen, I know you hate gym class. I know you hate team sports, but we have to find a way that you can move.”
We lived in a small town, and my mom said, “You’ve always felt better around grown-ups versus peers, so why don’t we go to the YMCA because the Y, the demographic is over 40, under 5. No one in the teen years will be there.” I was like, “Okay, cool.” And she said, “Listen, Kathleen. All you have to do is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. You can totally do that.” So she made the win so small that I could do it, and I think that’s the key because then I went once. It wasn’t like you have to go do an hour aerobics class. And in fact, before I even went to the gym, we did Jane Fonda workouts at home in our kitchen.
The trick was I started with stuff at home. We did Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. And then Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda then turned with me going to the Y walking for 10 minutes, and that slowly spiraled—upward spiral. Then I was doing more walking, then weights, then I started taking aerobics classes, and then I started teaching aerobics classes. That’s what made me decide to go to school for kinesiology.
But what my mom did for me was she said meet yourself where you are and figure out your fit. You thrive in your own lane. Don’t compare yourself. It doesn’t matter what works for your best friend, your father, your mother, or your favorite celebrity. You figure out what you can do, and what you can do can change in six months, in a year. Again, we go back to the idea that you have to standardize before you can optimize. Just standardize that you move your body every day, and then you can optimize with whatever you want.
My mom was really the one. I wrote the book 15 years after that experience, but she was the one who said to me, “You just have to make the motion a non-negotiable, and you figure out what works for you.” In the book, I talk about the four fitness different personalities. You have the gym bunny, you have the home bunny, you have the competitive bunny, and then you have the busy multitasker. You don’t have to be just one of those. You could decide that normally, you are the gym bunny, but when you get really busy at work, you become the competitive multitasker, which is the person who takes a conference call while they walk right. Or they exercise while they’re watching their kids play soccer on the sideline—they’re doing lunges and squats.
The idea is that you can mix and match the different personalities depending on the season you are in your life. Maybe in 10 years, you go from doing Zumba at home to doing Zumba at a gym. But no matter what season you’re in and whatever you’re feeling, you always know that some type of motion is non-negotiable.
[01:32:07] Ashley James: I love it. Can you give more examples? I love the example of doing lunges on the sidelines while watching your kids do soccer. Can you give more examples of how we can incorporate movement into our life instead of being sedentary?
[01:32:21] Kathleen Trotter: Oh, yeah. A lot of it is you have to set an alarm to make sure you don’t just what I call tunnel into work. Sometimes I sit down and it’s like eight hours later. I’m like, what just happened? Conference calls as you walk is a great idea. Gamify your fitness. Have a challenge with your family for getting a number of steps per day. Setting an alarm goes off in between Zoom meetings and doing three minutes of a dance class in your living room. If you’re commuting to and from work, walking to and from work, taking your bike. In Toronto, the city bikes are a really big thing now that people don’t really want to take the subway because of COVID. People are doing the city bike rental where you can get a bike at one end and then get a different bike after work.
If your kids are going out for a bike ride, you can jog beside them. You could skip outside in the backyard as they’re playing. You can do planks and lunges and stuff as they’re indoors. They’re playing, you can get them involved in a push-up challenge or plank challenge. You could, instead of sitting in your car and doing iPhone stuff while they’re doing their sport, you could go for a jog and then meet them when they’re done practice. You can say, instead of watching television tonight, we’re all going to go to the park and we’re going to play some soccer together as a family. Making sure you get out of your car a couple of blocks away from wherever you’re going to walk there. It’s just peppering exercise into your daily life is that idea of the multitasker.
I’m a really big believer in what I call the plug and play solution. What that is is a list you create in advance of things that you can do in 5 minutes, things you can do in 10 minutes, things you can do in 15 minutes. If you “found time,” you can just look at the list and then know what to do. Because part of the problem is we often will find 5 minutes or 10 minutes in our day. And by the time you realize you have 10 minutes and you think, should I do this, or should I do that? The 10 minutes is gone, and you’ve wasted your opportunity to do some motion. But if you have a list and you just like look at the list, you’re like oh, okay. Well, I know in 10 minutes I can do a set of lunges and jumping jacks or 10 minutes of—I love Yoga by Adriene. It’s free. You know those things in advance, and then you just sort of like blah blah blah just do it. You don’t have to waste cognitive energy thinking I should do this or I should do that.
That’s a great plug-and-play solution. That’s like “fitness snacking” with the idea that it all adds up, right? I really want people to ditch this idea of perfection because perfection is tied to shame, and it’s just not helpful. If you think, well, if I can’t do an hour-long workout, then it’s not even worth it, or if I can’t do 10 kilometers… You just end up doing nothing. Whereas if you “snack” on 10 minutes of exercise here and 10 minutes of exercise there, by the end of the day you’ve done an hour, and that’s great.
[01:35:04] Ashley James: I love it. Snack on exercise.
[01:35:08] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, snack on exercise.
[01:35:09] Ashley James: Because sometimes it’s daunting to think about an hour-long workout, 45-minute workout, 90-minute workout. Totally daunting. I get into the dorsal vagal. It’s just too big, can’t do it. Where you’re like, oh, I could snack.
[01:35:23] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, I can snack. It’s doable. And so much of health feels so overwhelming. Listen, life is freaking hard. Life’s hard at the best of times, but it’s particularly hard right now with the pandemic and everything. So much of health is just learning how to struggle well. You have to appreciate that the struggle is not a bug in the system. It’s part of the system. It is there.
[01:35:45] Ashley James: That’s beautiful.
[01:35:46] Kathleen Trotter: It is there. It’s part of the operating system, so you got to just be like okay, I’m going to struggle. I expect it, and how do I struggle well? How do I ride the wave of this? How do I surf really well—surf the wave of this struggle, just do the best I can, and learn from the experience. But you got to go in with realistic expectations. You don’t just find the perfect miracle workout or diet, lose a bunch of weight, then it’s easy peasy, and you never have anything go wrong. It doesn’t work that way.
There’s no perfect day to work out. No perfect week to start the program. You just got to do it. You seize the moment because the moment is the only time you have any direct control over. And if you take advantage of the moment and then the next moment and the next moment, five years from now you’ll be like damn, I feel fit. I feel strong. I’m no longer loving East Side Mario’s. It takes time. It really, really does. It takes finding your version of fit to know your version of fit will change and really being okay, thriving in your own lane.
I’ll tell you one more story about my mom. I love my mom. She came with me once when I was teaching a spin class, and she got off the bike. She’s a super supportive woman. I’m sure you can feel that from the podcast. She got off the bike, she looked at me, and she’s like white as a sheet. She goes, “Kathleen, I love you more than anything but if you ever try to make me do a spin class again I will disown you.” I just laugh at that because I have a peloton and I die for Cody classes on the Peloton. Literally, if I’m in bed and I don’t want to get out of bed, I just say, Kathleen, you can do a Peloton. You can do a Cody, and that is motivational for me.
If I said to my mom you could do a Cody class, she’d be like, well, that’s terrible. I don’t want to do a Cody class. My point only being is if I said to her the only way that she could be fit is if she did Cody Peloton classes every day, she’d be like well I’d rather be fat and never be fit. That does not interest me. But if she said to me, well, every day, you have to garden and walk the dogs, which is what she does, I’d be like well that doesn’t really interest me. You have to find what works for you.
My dad’s another example. He plays hockey four days a week. He loves hockey. If you told me, well, Kathleen, to be fit you have to play hockey four days a week. I’d be like, oh no. But that’s his bliss. The great thing about it is because he loves hockey so much, that inspires him to do the stretching and the strength workout that he needs without falling over and without rolling over an ankle in his skate. It’s similar for me. I love running. I don’t love stretching and strength stuff as much, but I make myself do it because I know that that’s the way that I can do the thing that I love. Part of fitness is finding what you love, and then it’s also using what you love as self-talk to make yourself do the things that you might not necessarily love but that’s really important.
[01:38:26] Ashley James: Fantastic. That’s so great. For those that don’t know what a Peloton is, I know it’s a really cool bike that has a screen on it so you’re like watching these spin classes from home, right?
[01:38:39] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, pretty much. The reason why I love it is because it has so much. Classes go live. There’s a bunch of classes every day and then they get archived. Speaking earlier, we’re talking about finding the ignition energy to get going. I’ve always found an hour long spin feels really daunting, but what’s great about the Peloton is you can filter things. So you can filter by the instructor you like, the type of music you like. I like pop music or country music. There are two or three people I like, but I really like Cody, but you can also filter by time.
You can say 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour, and I often find that in order to get myself on the bike, I actually just start with the 20-minute class, and then as soon as I’m done the 20-minute, I’m warmed up and then I’ll do a half an hour. So then it ends up being 50 minutes or I’ll do 45 minutes. It’s easier for me to put together a couple of smaller classes. The thing that I like the most about the Peloton is that first of all, you don’t have to leave your house to go do a class somewhere else. If a class you’re doing 45 minutes of spin, you’re actually doing 45 minutes of spin. But mostly, what I really like is that you can trick yourself into exercising.
I often end up doing a full hour, but I start with just saying, you know what Kathleen, 20 minutes is better than nothing. Just get your ass on that bike do the 20 minutes. And then I enjoy myself. I’m smiling and laughing and I just keep going. This morning, I started with a 30-minute class, and then I finished the 30 and I was like I’ll do 10 more minutes. I ended up doing 40 minutes.
The lesson for everybody out there if they’re like, well, I don’t have a Peloton. Why is that useful? What I would just say is it’s all about the mind games. It’s about self-talk. If you can’t bring yourself to do an hour-long workout, you just say to yourself, Kathleen would say do 10 minutes. Because once you’ve done 10 minutes, most likely you’ll just keep going. It’s easier to find the ignition energy to do 10 minutes, but if you do stop after 10 minutes, at least you’ve done 10 minutes. And 10 minutes a day is 70 minutes over the week. It’s better than nothing. But honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever done 10 minutes and just stopped at 10 minutes. By the time you’ve done 10 minutes, you’re like, oh well. I’ve already started. I might as well do at least 15. And then you do 15, you’re like, I might as well do at least 20. It’s all about mind games.
[01:40:49] Ashley James: That’s what I do with hikes. There are wonderful trails near our house. I’m like, okay, I’m just going to make it down to where the trail forks. By the time the trail forks, I’m like I’m doing the long trail. The thing is you’re lost in the woods and then you have to come all the way back. The last hike I did was like two hours long, and it’s up and down and through the woods. It’s beautiful. I am always surprised when two hours goes because I’m like it feels like 15 minutes. I mean, my body definitely got a great workout, but it’s fun so time really flies. The getting going it’s like, okay, I’m just going to make it down to that one point where the trail forks and then I’ll totally turn around. And then by the time I’m there I’m like, okay, blood flowing. I can keep going.
[01:41:36] Kathleen Trotter: Exactly. I think with the people who are listening, if they get anything from this story, it’s just like blah blah blah go work out. Just start. The hardest part is starting, and you just have to realize that your future self is going to be happier. Remember what we talked about before, the present bias, and knowing that just because you feel crappy at this moment doesn’t mean that you’re going to always feel crappy. Your future self is going to be so happy that you moved.
[01:42:00] Ashley James: Do you have any techniques for getting us out of that dorsal vagal mode where we are stuck, disassociated, unable to start? What ways can we break through and switch so we’re no longer in that dorsal vagal?
[01:42:15] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. I think part of it is this idea of changing your state requires a physiological change. Even just some deep breathing, some meditation, or just talking to yourself nicely or phoning a friend that helps you bring into that ventral vagal state. Those are all things that can be really, really helpful. Journaling, any of those things would be great. Even just going for a 10-minute walk, which can feel very hard to do when you’re feeling very unmotivated. But just really being kind to yourself and just saying I will be happier if I even do two minutes. Even playing music and not dancing around but just having that energy out there in the universe. It really is that sort of first 30 seconds of anything that you can do.
I think the key is just understanding that that dorsal vagal is a nervous system response based on feeling unsafe, insecure, unhappy, and it could be based on childhood unsafe, insecure, unhappy. If I go play baseball, my first instinct would be to go dorsal vagal because of being bullied as a kid, so I have to realize that I’m dorsal vagal. I feel it in my system and then I just say to myself, okay Kathleen, it’s okay. You’re okay. That’s a triggered state. At this moment, you’re actually okay.
I think the most important thing is to take a pause and say is this real in this moment? Because it could be that you are unsafe. If you’re in an unsafe relationship or if somebody is bullying you, sometimes retreating is actually a really good coping mechanism. First, say, is this serving me? And if it is serving you, then it’s telling you something about the environment that you’re in, and then you can use that as data. Maybe you’re with friends that are really, really evil and then they should no longer be your friends because they’re putting you in that. But most of the time for us, the idea is that it’s actually not serving us. It is somehow triggered by childhood.
Maybe your boss triggered a sense of shame in the way that your mother or father used to talk to you or the shame in the way that a teacher used to talk to you. Part of it is just sort of saying to yourself, I’m an adult, and I was treated purely as a child, but I’m not a child anymore. I have the resources in my current me to deal with this.
Once you figure out that it’s not a current lack of safety, then you can proceed with the meditation, with the breathing, the walking, or phoning a friend. You just have to make yourself feel safe basically when they’re in that space and realize that a lot of procrastination is a feeling of shame or lack of safety. Because you’re worried, well, if I exercise and I don’t exercise perfectly, I’m going to be shamed. If you just say to me, it’s okay to not be perfect. I’m a human mess. I’m a messy mess, and that is okay. Talk nicely to yourself, basically. As long as you are actually safe. If you’re in an unsafe environment, get rid of that. Then you have to use that differently, but once you’ve figured out that you’re safe, then you just have to be kind to yourself.
[01:45:36] Ashley James: Yeah, and a lot of procrastination is focusing on what you don’t want to have happened instead of focusing on what you do want to have happened. When we’re visualizing all the things that could go wrong when we’re exercising—people laughing at us or whatever. Just these thoughts come into our heads. Oh, it’s going to be so difficult. I’m going to get an injury. I’m going to have a leg cramp. We just are imagining all these bad things are happening. We’re putting ourselves in a state of stress, and then that triggers our procrastination because we’re feeling unsafe. But if we focus on and visualize the successful completion of that workout and how great it was, just like you said, your future self, imagine yourself after the workout. You’re like, okay, I want to get there. Let’s go.
[01:46:17] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, but also say to yourself, those bad things, they might happen. But guess what, that’s okay too because I’m an adult and I can handle it. Part of it is that we procrastinate because let’s say you tried a sport when you were a kid and then you were bullied, then you felt like a failure, and then you stopped. But you were a child. You didn’t have the resources you have now. Part of it is also saying to yourself like, probably I will succeed. The data shows I’m very successful. I’m very perseverant. I’m probably going to get through this workout. But guess what, if I don’t, I will be able to deal with it because I’m an adult.
Life isn’t perfect. There will be times that I go out, my run sucks. It’s terrible. There are probably times where I’m going to go out and somebody might snicker at me when I throw the basket and I’m bad. But guess what, I can handle it because I’m almost 40. My 10-year-old self couldn’t handle it, but I can handle it. That’s also part of it.
[01:47:10] Ashley James: Yeah. I love Tim Ferriss’s method for dealing with this.
[01:47:16] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, the fear setting.
[01:47:18] Ashley James: The fear, right? At first, when I was listening to him, oh this isn’t good. And then I was like whoa, this is really good. You write down everything you’re afraid will happen, but then you write down what’ll actually realistically happen? Because our mind is making up these big monsters, and they’re probably not going to happen. The entire gym is not going to turn and laugh at us, right? Or if we fall off of equipment, it’s not like everyone’s going to turn and laugh. A lot of people will actually be concerned and come up and help us.
[01:47:41] Kathleen Trotter: Yes, are you okay?
[01:47:43] Ashley James: Are you okay, and genuinely want to help. But he has us write down. Everything you’re worried about will happen and then what’ll actually happen? Realistically, what would happen? And then how would you handle it? When you do that you realize that it’s just a paper tiger that you’ve been worried about. That you, as an adult, have resources and you would be able to handle real situations as they arose. So instead of obsessing and fixating on all the perceived threats that you’ve made up, fixate on the solutions and how you would best handle those situations and then you feel a bit of confidence.
But we’re starting out. We’re newbies. Like you said, 10 minutes on the treadmill. We’re complete newbies. I love, for example, I think it’s Hulu. I have all these different Hulu, Netflix, those kinds of things. But I think Hulu has this subscription where you can subscribe to exercise videos. My favorite is the kickboxing ones, and they have a total beginner—like beginner-beginner-beginner 10-minute kickboxing, and you don’t even have to use weights. They have that option. They usually have three different levels, three different people standing there.
It’s like, okay, follow this guy if you’re the beginner-beginner-beginner. This is your first-ever time exercising, or if you have mobility issues. After 10 minutes, I feel amazing and then I go and do another one, and I pick another one, another one, but I love that you can find beginner-beginner-beginner stuff. I can’t believe how just punching and kicking in the air while listening to some music is so soothing and so confidence building.
[01:49:24] Kathleen Trotter: It’s very empowering. I actually did boxing when I was in high school, and it was the best feeling. That’s what I love about health and wellness—when it can be empowering and energizing versus discouraging and oppressive. It can just make you feel like I can do anything. I’m powerful. The data shows that I’m strong, and then you take that data from your exercise and you go off your daily life. You’re like I can do this and it becomes a model. When your exercise becomes a model for how you just interface with the world, right? It’s like, oh yeah, this is scary.
My bike ride today was hard, but guess what, I did it anyway. Work today is going to be hard, but guess what, I’m going to do it anyway. I felt a little bit of niggly shame, but guess what, I persevered and now I showed my shame to take this backseat that I don’t need it anymore. I really love this idea of exercise just being a model for how you can live your life and build your relationships intentionally, purposefully, and with mindfulness and attention.
[01:50:26] Ashley James: Beautiful. I love that you talked about how to find things that you love, find things that are fun. Of course, try new things.
[01:50:32] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, you never know what you’re going to love.
[01:50:35] Ashley James: You never know what you’re going to like, but try new things. Exercise does not have to look like sweating in the gym. It doesn’t have to look like what Hollywood shows us or what Jillian Michaels does. It doesn’t have to look like any TV show. It can be cleaning your house like vacuuming. Dude, you can work up a sweat. You can work up a sweat cleaning your house. Your mom does gardening. Dude, I do squats when I garden, and the next day I feel it. You can really get a workout doing anything. It’s about moving the body in a way that brings you joy.
Then one thing I wanted to say is about your fudge bars. Something that’s really, really, really helped me the last 10 years on my health journey is figuring out the healthiest versions of something. I’m sure you’ve done this where you’re like what could I eat that’s like a fudge bar but more like an avocado and a sweet potato? What can you eat?
[01:51:27] Kathleen Trotter: I agree with that, and I think for most people and most times and 97% of my things in my life I have replaced with healthier versions. But guess what, I don’t want to replace my fudge bars with something healthy. I think that is okay too. Again it goes back to sometimes—
[01:51:42] Ashley James: Not being perfect.
[01:51:43] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, it’s not perfect. And it’s living the life I want to live. I don’t want to be on my deathbed and be like I loved these fudge bars and yet I didn’t ever have them. I don’t want to have them every day, but I buy one box a summer, and so over a four-month period, my mom has a beautiful backyard. We sit. That’s fine with me. There are tons of things I’m happy to do a healthier replacement, but if that’s my one sin, I’m okay with that. Part of being an adult is just deciding what you’re okay with and not living by anybody else’s rules, right? That’s what I’ve decided so I’m cool with that. But I do think you’re right in a lot of other things.
I make lots and lots of wonderful frozen things that are avocado and fruit. I put them into bars. I do lots of other things as well to complement the fudge bars, but we got to live the life that we’re going to be happy with on our deathbed as well, right?
[01:52:42] Ashley James: You know what, looking at my life, I’m not going to regret the junk food I didn’t eat. Me 10 years ago wouldn’t have agreed with that. If I died right now, I’d regret all the living I didn’t get to live. I want to live the healthiest. I would regret letting my shame hold me back from new experiences.
[01:53:08] Kathleen Trotter: Yes. A beautiful, beautiful way to put it. Yes, I agree.
[01:53:13] Ashley James: Thank you so much. This has been such a wonderful conversation.
[01:53:16] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah, you’re amazing.
[01:53:17] Ashley James: Thank you, you too. I’m going to make sure the links to everything that Kathleen Trotter does are in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com including the links to her two books. Your website, kathleentrotter.com. Pretty easy to remember. And of course, we could follow you on social media. Can people work with you around the world? You’re located in Toronto, you have a studio in Toronto, but can people telecommute with you? Can they work with you over Skype around the world? How does that work?
[01:53:44] Kathleen Trotter: I don’t have any open spots for one-on-one spots. I have clients who’ve been with me for basically 20 years, and they have my one-on-one spots. But I do group coaching. It’s a five-week group coaching course. It’s called Kick Your Ass with Compassion, and you can find out about that on my website. That is group coaching. It’s usually between 8 and 12 people for five weeks. We do once a week on Zoom, and there’s a lecture group coaching, and then you get unlimited emailing with me over the five-week period about your goal.
Everybody has different goals. Some people quitting smoking, some people are trying to eat more vegetables, and some people are trying to do more exercise. The course is really about how you set goals and the principles of goal setting and having a growth mindset. A lot of the stuff we talked about today, but we break it down. I give you resources. We use my two books as textbooks. That would be the way that people from all over the world work with me. You can find information about that on my website.
[01:54:45] Ashley James: Awesome, very cool. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Is there anything you’d like to say or homework you’d like to give to wrap up today’s interview?
[01:54:51] Kathleen Trotter: The piece of homework I would give that ties everything we’ve done together is try some type of journaling, and it doesn’t have to be the way that you think. Journaling about your time spent, for example. If you are trying to find time to exercise and you’re like, I don’t have enough time. I bet if you journaled how much time you spent on TV or social media you’d be surprised at the frittering away of time that you do. Either journaling your time, journaling your food, journaling your exercise, or journaling your mood.
One of the things my therapist got me to do many, many years ago is do a journal of pre- and post-exercise what my mood was on a scale of 1-10. That data just showed me that I was always in a better mood post-exercise. You could also journal your emotions connected to food. I call it the X versus O journal. You put three circles on the page, and if you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, eat unprocessed foods, then you just put an X through the circle. You don’t have to write anything. But if you eat, overeat, eat when you’re not hungry, or eat a lot of sugar processed foods, then you would write down what you ate. But you then write down the emotions that were connected to why you ate those things with the idea of trying to learn to connect emotions to your food.
If you look on my website or you google Kathleen Trotter journaling, I have done lots of articles on different types of journals. But they all just come back to building your awareness of the type of choices you make, why you make those choices, and how they’re connected to your emotions. You could journal sleep, you could journal anything. I think homework would just be work on knowing yourself.
[01:56:28] Ashley James: Yes, I love it. Michael Weinberger, I’ve had him on the show several times. He is bipolar—very severe. He’s got himself under control now, but he’s been suicidal many times and has been out of control many times. Been in manic mode many times, and he’s been in therapy his whole life. He’s a motivational personal growth speaker now because he shares his experience about mental health, spreading awareness, and how we can become healthier with wherever we are, whatever state we are in our mental health.
He created an app actually based on all the habits that he used to go from wanting to kill himself to leading a healthy life. It’s like a journaling app. It’s very quick. You wake up first thing in the morning and it asks you on a scale of 1-10, where are you at? Happy, sad—where are you at basically, 1-10. He might say three. Three is like I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m depressed. I don’t want to get out of bed. And then it has you journal in the app three things you’re grateful for.
[01:57:39] Kathleen Trotter: I love that. This is great.
[01:57:40] Ashley James: And it’s very quick. What does that take, a minute? And then after that, it immediately asks the same question, on a scale of 1-10, how are you doing? He doesn’t see individual people’s information. It’s all private. He can’t go see what you said, but he collects the data. Statistically, everyone feels better after one minute of focusing on gratitude. Many of the people that have this app have mental health issues they’re working through. Just imagine, regardless of where you are in your mental health, whether you consider yourself incredibly mentally healthy or you’re working on some challenges, one minute of focusing on what you’re grateful for makes us so that some people go from not wanting to get out of bed—that’s how depressed they are—to being able to get out of bed.
[01:58:26] Kathleen Trotter: That’s fantastic.
[01:58:27] Ashley James: And that’s one minute of journaling. So I love your idea of journaling because not only does it give you awareness, but sometimes if your focus can be on positive things like things you’re grateful for, that can make a big difference.
[01:58:40] Kathleen Trotter: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a great place to end and just have gratitude that we can move our body and eat healthy food. It is a hugely positive thing that we are able to do for ourselves, and I think often we think about health as something that we have to do, something that’s forced upon us. I love closing on this idea of gratitude. It’s something that we get to do. It’s a privilege.
[01:59:02] Ashley James: Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much, Kathleen. It was a pleasure having you on the show today.
[01:59:06] Kathleen Trotter: My pleasure.
[01:59:07] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Kathleen Trotter. Please join the Learn True Health Facebook group so you can enter to win a spot in Kathleen’s upcoming live and interactive group health coach program. It’s very exciting. Please visit learntruehealth.com/coach to get a free module from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition if you’re considering becoming a health coach. And join the Learn True Health Home Kitchen. Go to learntruehealth.com/homekitchen and check it out. Use the coupon code LTH and learn how to make delicious, nutritious, and healing recipes. We also have some wonderful recipes for Thanksgiving and the holidays as well. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.
BOOK: Invisible Rainbow https://amzn.to/300Sn23
Cellular Phone Task Force, www.cellphonetaskforce.org
International Appeal to Stop 5G on Earth and in Space, www.5gSpaceAppeal.org
Check out IIN and get a free module: LearnTrueHealth.com/coach
5G is here, and while many people are excited about this technology, Arthur Firstenberg describes it as the most urgent threat on earth today. In this episode, he explains why 5G is bad for us. He also enumerates different sources of electrical pollution and how we can lessen exposure to electrical pollution.
[00:00:00] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 445. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have the author of The Invisible Rainbow, Arthur Firstenberg. Arthur, one of my best friends was freaking out when she read your book. Her husband read your book, and he just was blown away. And then I started getting requests from a few listeners saying that your book has been mind-blowing, and it’s the most important book people have read in the last 10 years or more. It really caught my attention, and I thought I have to have this man on the show. We have to let more people know about your work.
So I recently got your book, and I cannot put it down. I’m holding it right now. I could probably use it as an exercise device because of how thick it is. Based on the picture on Amazon, I was expecting a little paperback I could finish on the weekend, and it’s almost 400 pages. And then there’s what seems like about 75 to 100 pages of references. I mean, you really did your homework.
[00:01:23] Arthur Firstenberg: There’s actually 150 pages of footnotes and bibliography.
[00:01:30] Ashley James: Yes, I was guessing. I’m holding it. I showed my husband. I’m like, “Do you see the scientific references?” I’m quite impressed. But reading your book, it’s very, very interesting. The first thing that came to mind is that I would love to see your book become a documentary or some kind of movie because of how—
[00:01:50] Arthur Firstenberg: Somebody called me yesterday that wants to do exactly that.
[00:01:55] Ashley James: Yes, please do. I mean, as long as you have control of how it goes, but it is phenomenally well-written. Well-researched. If everyone knew what you lay out so well in this book it would change the world. I want to dive into understanding—for those who’ve never heard of you or your work—I want to dive into it a bit. But first, I’d like to know a bit about you. What happened in your life that made you want to write this book?
[00:02:31] Arthur Firstenberg: I went to medical school, and midway through school—at the end of my second year—I had some dental work and a whole lot of dental x-rays in the course of a summer. The last series of x-rays did something to my head, and I felt something give way in the back of my skull. I felt an electric current travel from head to toes and out into the floor. The next morning, when I went around in the hospital, I could feel electric currents emanating from every piece of electrical equipment in the hospital. My life has not been the same since then.
I found out that I couldn’t finish school, essentially. I attempted to stick it out and get my MD. One day, on the inpatient pediatrics, I collapsed with all the symptoms of a heart attack. I had a year to go for my MD, and I left school. Before I had done that, I did a trade with my plastic surgery professor because being in the operating room was no longer possible. Every time I assisted a surgery I would have crippling pains in my hips so that I couldn’t walk for three days. He excused me from the OR in exchange for writing a research paper on a topic of my choice. I chose the effects of radiant energy on living organisms.
[00:04:33] Ashley James: Wow.
[00:04:33] Arthur Firstenberg: This was in December of 1981. In doing research for the chapter, I went to the medical school’s library—this was the University of California Irvine—and lo and behold, there were many shelves full of books on the effects of electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic fields on biology and on health. We were not being taught this in medical school, and this seemed very strange to me. So I started doing research. That’s been my life, partially, since 1981, and full time since 1996 is researching being an advocate, being a support person, and being an activist. Trying to educate the world to this biological and environmental factor that nobody’s aware of.
[00:05:43] Ashley James: Did your professors believe you when you explained that being near electronics gave you excruciating pain?
[00:05:52] Arthur Firstenberg: I never asked him that question that way.
[00:06:00] Ashley James: Do you feel like they treated you as if they believed you? If they believed you, wouldn’t they have wanted to help?
[00:06:12] Arthur Firstenberg: I didn’t get any feedback because I submitted the paper in December, and I collapsed at the end of February. So it was only a couple of months before I quit school, and I never got any feedback from him.
[00:06:26] Ashley James: Do you still experience pain when you’re near electronics?
[00:06:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Not to the degree that I did then, but yes. A lot of people do. In fact, I would venture to say that most everybody does, but they’re not educated as to what the cause is. So a lot of people are on various pain medications. It causes sleep disorders, and the people are on sleeping medications. It causes anxiety, so people are on anxiety medications and antidepressants. They keep their cell phone in their hip pocket, and that causes excruciating pain, but they don’t connect the cause. So they end up going to the doctor, and the doctor tells them their hips are worn out. Let’s give you a hip replacement, and the nerves are cut, so it doesn’t hurt anymore. This is not confined to a few people. This is affecting the entire population of the globe.
[00:07:36] Ashley James: My husband and I both noticed—he has an iPhone, I have an android—our hands hurt when we hold our cell phones. That we can feel something. There’s something there. I mean, if you weren’t really paying attention, you could ignore it, but we’re very in tune with our bodies, and we can feel it. His hurts his hand more than mine does, I noticed.
[00:08:00] Arthur Firstenberg: Right. And that is the sign that you should stop using it because you can get cancer of your hand.
[00:08:10] Ashley James: Jeez. I was going to say, what damage is being done by being exposed to—and there are so many different forms of electricity like you say in your book. The cell phone is like the microwave, right? But we have electricity going throughout our house, our laptops, the Wi-Fi, the cell signals, and the radio waves.
[00:08:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Okay, so now you’re talking about two different types of electrical pollution. The electricity going through your wires creates an electric field. That electric field is not intentional. That’s not part of the product, and it can be shielded with proper engineering. You can twist the wires. You can put it in a conduit. You can eliminate the electric fields to a great extent. They’re not necessary. The difference with wireless technology is that radiation is the product. That cell phone and Wi-Fi will not work unless you’re getting irradiated, so it’s a different idea.
It’s actually the first form of pollutant in history that is intentionally being spread over every square inch of the planet. In other words, pesticides are designed to kill pests. They escape into the general environment, but that’s not deliberate. With wireless technology, the pollutant is the product, and that’s a big difference.
[00:09:57] Ashley James: You know what scares me is hearing that Elon Musk is launching satellites so that he can bathe every square mile in the entire earth with 5G waves, basically. There’ll be no escaping this electric pollution, as you put it.
[00:10:19] Arthur Firstenberg: That scares me more than anything else that’s going on right now on the planet. I am scared of climate change, pesticides, deforestation, and everything else that’s destroying our beautiful earth. But he’s putting thousands, in fact, he plans to put tens of thousands of satellites in low orbit around the earth. And I am less concerned about the direct radiation reaching the earth from a few hundred miles up than I am how they’re going to alter the electromagnetic environment of the earth itself in which we evolved and which we are dependent on for life and health.
In other words, atmospheric physicists study what they call the global electrical circuit, and people are not aware of our electrical environment. We’re not taught this in school. Electricity is thought of as something useful that can accomplish things for us. That can turn on our lights, power motors, and so forth. But we actually live in an electric field—a natural electric field of 130 volts per meter on average in fair weather. And it’s a complex electric field.
In thunderstorms, the direction of the field reverses, and lightning actually completes the circuit. So you actually have a complete circuit traveling horizontally through the ionosphere, then vertically down to the earth in fair weather, beneath our feet horizontally through the earth, and then back up to the sky during thunderstorms. This circulates all the time, and it goes through the bodies of every living thing. It actually goes through our bodies, circulates through our acupuncture meridians. Doctors of oriental medicine study a little piece of this science, but basically, it’s little specializations and nobody’s looking at the whole picture.
If you put 12,000 or more or 42,0000 or 100,000 satellites, there are a lot of players in this game. Space-X is the first entrant, but there are others waiting in the wings and starting to launch satellites. If you put tens of thousands of satellites up there, each one emitting thousands of different frequencies because you’re serving thousands of different users from each satellite, you’re going to pollute this circuit that travels through our bodies, keeps us healthy, and gives us life. This is what I’m frightened of, and this is imminent. This is much more imminent and life-threatening than any of these other environmental threats.
[00:13:50] Ashley James: I love studying astronomy. Why is it that earth has a perfect environment than any other planet in our solar system for life? And we have this beautiful electromagnetic field that you just described that allows us to have life. That allows the earth to prevent solar radiation from fully hitting us. It’s a shield. It protects us, but it also is what we’ve evolved from. Something you brought up in the book that we evolved from wherever we came from. Whether you believe we came from Adam and Eve, or whether you believe we came from single cells in a swamp, we have been here—for as long as we’ve been here—living with this natural electricity that is moving, that we are part of.
[00:14:51] Arthur Firstenberg: And in the 18th century, when people were beginning to study electricity in depth and when they were beginning to find ways of storing it and using it, it was initially used in medicine before it was used for any other technologies as kind of a panacea for a lot of illnesses. Isaac Newton also believed that electricity was the life force. That this is what gave us life. And my conclusion after studying this field for the last 40 years is that probably that’s right.
Electricity is either closely related to or identical with the life force, with this substance that travels, that acupuncturists work on, and travels through our acupuncture meridians. It’s modulated in complex ways. There’s what a lot of people have heard of, the Schumann resonances, which are the resonant frequencies of the biosphere—8, 14, 20, 26, and 32 hertz. That’s part of what circulates to our bodies. But it’s all controlled by the ionosphere. The ionosphere is a source of high voltage. It’s the earth’s source of high voltage. It’s charged to an average of 300,000 volts, and this is what powers and regulates the electricity that circulates in the biosphere and goes through every living thing.
[00:16:33] Ashley James: So what are the dangers of our modern electricity, of our modern devices? I love that in your book, you show very clearly that at each point in our history when we had a new introduction to the widespread use of electricity, that there was an uptick in disease. Could you go over some of that?
[00:17:05] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah. The first major use of electricity was for telegraphy. Millions of miles of telegraph wires were strung all around the earth, and there was a new disease described during the 1860s called neurasthenia. And nobody knew where it came from. Its sufferers were tired all the time and couldn’t sleep. Had aches and pains all over their bodies. A lot of things that people who call themselves electrically sensitive complain about today. I don’t use that term by the way—electrical sensitivity—because it gives the wrong impression that people who realize what’s making them sick are not normal. We’re just like everybody else. We just have figured it out. This is what’s making us sick.
Like every other toxin in the environment, there’s a range of vulnerability in the population. If you poison the population with anything—with arsenic, not everybody will get sick at the same time. But if you expose people to high enough levels of electromagnetic fields, as we are doing today, eventually, everybody gets sick. Everybody gets affected. But in the 1860s, there was this epidemic, actually pandemic, of what they called neurasthenia. And for 40 years, it was in the literature. Nobody could figure it out, and along came Sigmund Freud in about 1895. He said this is a psychological disorder, and he called it anxiety neurosis, and that has stuck.
So today, we have this thing called anxiety disorder, and 1/6 or 1/5 of the population is being diagnosed with it. And everybody’s being put on anti-anxiety meds, but still, the cause is not being realized. Telegraph operators suffered from it to a large degree. In the coming decades, in the 19th century, telephone operators suffered from it to a large degree. And then in 1889, when AC current essentially spread all over the world, and it spread extraordinarily rapidly. Basically, 1889 was in the space of a year the earth became wrapped in electric wires with alternating currents in them. And that was the year when the first modern influenza epidemic broke out all over the world.
Following that, the Spanish influenza of 1918—according to my research—was triggered by the United States’ entry into World War I with the latest in radio technology. The most powerful radio stations in the world. The first radio stations in the world that broadcast voices that could be heard over most of the earth. These were extraordinarily low frequency, enormously powerful radio stations that were turned on in September of 1918. The one in New Brunswick, New Jersey. And that month was when Spanish influenza became deadly all over the world. I traced the epidemics of influenza throughout the 20th century. 1957, the advent of radar for civil defense especially by the United States 1968. The Hong Kong flu coincided with the launch of the first fleet of military satellites into space.
That’s a brief summary. The advent of the wireless revolution in 1996 in this country a couple of years earlier in Europe and some of the rest of the world, the illness that was caused by that was also caused influenza, but it was not simultaneous all over the world because antennas and cell towers were not coordinated quite as well throughout the world as some of these earlier technologies. For example, where I was living in New York City, the first digital cell towers were turned on citywide commercially on November 14, 1996. A so-called influenza epidemic locally to New York City began essentially on that date and lasted officially until the following May. As a previously injured person living in New York City, I escaped one week later. It felt like I barely survived, I barely escaped with my life.
That’s when I started the Cellular Phone Task Force and put an ad in the New York City newspaper saying if you have been sick since November 15, 1996 with the following symptoms, please contact us. And we heard from people all over the city who thought they were having a heart attack, a stroke, or a nervous breakdown on approximately that date. And that was the foundation for my nonprofit, which I have been running ever since then, since 24 years ago. And I got mortality rates. I downloaded mortality rates from the CDC’s website.
[00:24:07] Ashley James: Really?
[00:24:09] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah. I called up the doctor—what was his name in Israel? His name escapes me. Anyway, he directed me to the CDC’s website and said there’s where you can find mortality statistics. Indeed, there was a spike in mortality in New York City that lasted two to three months. I think it was three to four months in New York City. It was particularly devastating. I did this later. There was an increase in mortality between 10% and 25% lasting on average two to three months in every city that deployed what we now call 2G technology that began on the date in that city when the first 2G system went commercial. And I documented this for dozens of cities.
[00:25:11] Ashley James: Going back in the late 1800s when they had the major influenza outbreak after the modern world basically had electricity, had the wires everywhere, and the homes had access to electricity for the first time ever. Had there ever been a documented case of influenza to that extent, or was this the largest we’d ever seen?
[00:25:45] Arthur Firstenberg: Sure. Influenza is an ancient disease. It’s been known forever, but it was never an annual disease. When the worldwide influenza hit in 1889, a lot of doctors had never seen a case of it before. The previous influenza epidemic in the United Kingdom, I believe, had happened in 1854 or 1856.
[00:26:20] Ashley James: That skipped like 20 years?
[00:26:24] Arthur Firstenberg: Forty, forty-five years.
[00:26:25] Ashley James: Oh, huge difference.
[00:26:26] Arthur Firstenberg: Forty, forty-five years previously. And the last influenza epidemic in the United States had been in the 1870s, more than 20 years previously. Suddenly, in 1889, there was influenza throughout the world, and it returned every single year worldwide after that. In 1890, there was in the winter—every year.
[00:26:54] Ashley James: Every year until now.
[00:26:56] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah. It was never an annual disease before. It was never a seasonal disease before. It had something to do with solar radiation. There has been any number of studies correlating historical influenza epidemics with sunspots. So it seemed to come with the maximum solar activity until modern times.
[00:27:22] Ashley James: It would disrupt our electromagnetic field or disrupt our cells in a negative way, and that would leave us susceptible or weakened?
[00:27:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Something like that. And I also explored the Maunder Minimum in the 16th and 17th centuries when there were no sunspots for a period of 75 years, something like that. And during that time, there were no influenza pandemics. That’s consistent with influenza being—as I propose—an electrical disease, and not a viral disease, although it is associated with a virus.
[00:28:10] Ashley James: Well, the viruses live dormant in our body and are opportunistic, many of them, right? Chickenpox becomes shingles when someone’s immune system is compromised, and warts—herpes outbreaks. I mean, that’s one thing that could be hypothesized is that we have the influenza virus dormant in our body, and then when we are in a weakened state, it comes out as opposed to being caught by people.
[00:28:37] Arthur Firstenberg: That is what a number of influenza specialists have proposed in the past.
[00:28:43] Ashley James: And that’s radical.
[00:28:45] Arthur Firstenberg: Exactly what they proposed.
[00:28:46] Ashley James: I mean, what a radical concept because the pharmaceutical companies would not want us to believe this because they want us to take a flu shot every year. And now they’re saying we should take two flu shots because of COVID. I just thought it was really funny. I saw this video yesterday that Dr. Oz was saying that those who get flu shots have, I think he said, 36% more chance of developing COVID and they cut him off. I don’t know if it was CNN, but it was some interview and they cut him off.
[00:29:16] Arthur Firstenberg: That is actually based on a peer-reviewed published study that says that. Back in 1918 actually, doctors attempted to prove the infectious nature of influenza. These were doctors in Boston, and they published their research in public health reports in The New England Journal of Medicine and prestigious publications. They failed.
This was during the height of Spanish influenza. They tried to infect 100 healthy individuals with secretions from sick influenza patients by having sick influenza patients cough several times into their faces, by injecting blood from sick influenza patients into healthy people. Not one of the 100 healthy people got sick, and they ended up saying we don’t know how influenza is spread. There were veterinarians because horses got influenza. They caught the epidemic about a month before people did. They tried to transfer influenza via secretions from horses into healthy horses, and the healthy horses didn’t get sick. So there was a resounding failure to infect healthy people with sick people by influenza.
[00:30:46] Ashley James: I don’t want to call it a conspiracy theory, but there’s been a chatter that areas in the world where COVID has taken off are the same areas where they’ve been introducing 5G or testing 5G technology. Have you heard of this? Is there any basis for it? It sounds like it’d be up your alley.
[00:31:11] Arthur Firstenberg: I have investigated it personally. There is a basis for it. My hypothesis is that the COVID-19 virus causes hypoxia by preventing oxygen from binding to hemoglobin. That the radiation from 5G causes hypoxia by interfering with electron transport in your mitochondria. So the COVID-19 virus starves your blood vessels of oxygen. The 5G starves your cells of oxygen. And when you put the two together, they are deadly. At first, I didn’t believe this, but when I investigated it, 5G officially got turned on in Wuhan, China two weeks before the first known cases of COVID-19 broke out there. 5G officially was turned on in New York City about two weeks before a very bad COVID-19 epidemic broke out in New York City. 5G was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
There seems to be a pattern here. Here where I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico—at least when I checked a week or two ago—there had been zero COVID-19 deaths in Santa Fe county to date. We don’t have 5G. Albuquerque does. They’ve got a bunch of COVID-19 deaths. As to why COVID-19 is rampant on the Navajo reservation could be due to other forms of pollution. It could be due to the fact that Native Americans have high rates of diabetes. There’s a lot of factors here. It’s not black and white simple, but there is a correlation with 5G.
I did a search last week because I was curious. The Gaza Strip has one of the highest densities of population in the world. I wanted to know if they have a problem with the coronavirus, and it turns out to date, out of 1.8 million people, they’ve had 10 deaths from COVID-19. Essentially, they don’t have the disease there even though they are more crowded than any place in the world.
So there seems to be a correlation, and as I said, I have a hypothesis as to why there is a virus. It is deadly. My opinion is that there was—for the first few months—a pretty bad pandemic, and that has more or less passed. People adjust to it, people have immune systems, and the world is pretending that nobody has an immune system. We have to continue locking down the world, wearing masks, and social distancing. From my research, it doesn’t make sense that the places that have the highest number of deaths and the highest rate of illnesses are the places that have the most radiation.
[00:35:14] Ashley James: Why is it that ever since we have electricity and radio waves—we have all this electric pollution. Why is it that influenza comes back every year in the winter? Is it because we’re indoors more? Because I think people are indoors and are exposed to this all the time, so why winter when a few hundred years ago, it was like once every 40 years?
[00:35:42] Arthur Firstenberg: We don’t know. It has something to do with either the amount of solar radiation, which goes down in the winter, or the amount of artificial electromagnetic fields, which goes way up in the winter because we’re indoors. But that’s just speculation. I certainly don’t know all the answers.
[00:36:04] Ashley James: Like you said, there are other factors. Perhaps vitamin D levels, which are already dangerously low. Many people don’t have their vitamin D tested. To a naturopathic physician, if you’re below 60, it’s unhealthy. You want your vitamin D levels to be between 60 and 100. I’ve had a doctor come on the show—very experienced doctors—say that he has never seen toxic vitamin D levels and he prescribes incredibly high amounts of vitamin D, and he’s never seen someone above 100. But he does see chronically low vitamin D, and chronically low vitamin D leads to and there’s a correlation to cancer and to lowered immune health—lowered immune function. And of course, the more we spend time indoors, the less vitamin D we have and the more exposure to electric pollution, right?
[00:36:57] Arthur Firstenberg: It could well be.
[00:37:00] Ashley James: Right. Very fascinating. What other illnesses are commonly seen with exposure to electric pollution? You yourself had it when you had that x-ray. Can you give us some more examples?
[00:37:20] Arthur Firstenberg: Well, the chronic diseases that we are all living within the 21st century, and I show this in my book. Not only I explained the mechanism, but I showed historically when it began the trend, I graphed it out, and I published all the data—cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These three diseases were rare or virtually non-existent before electrification, which means before telegraphy began in the 1840s, was well underway by the 1860s. And there’s a good reason for it because electromagnetic fields interfere with the movement of electrons. So this means that it interferes with electron transport in your mitochondria. In the mitochondria of every cell of every living organism.
Electron transport is the last stage of metabolizing your food and utilizing the oxygen that you breathe. So when you metabolize your food, you’re producing electrons, which get transferred to the oxygen you breathe. It generates ATP, and this is how we live. If you interfere with electron transport, you are not efficiently metabolizing sugars, fats, and proteins. You don’t efficiently metabolize sugars at the rate at which you should be able to. Sugars back up into your bloodstream and excreted by your kidneys and you have diabetes.
You don’t efficiently metabolize, fats they back into your bloodstream, get deposited in your coronary arteries, and you get heart disease. Cancer thrives in anaerobic environments. That’s actually how it’s diagnosed. So you’re effectively starving your cells of oxygen forcing them into anaerobic metabolism and cancer cells love it. So these three diseases, in my opinion, are predominantly caused by the escalation of what in some parts of the world is called the electrosmog. It hasn’t caught on in this country, but electromagnetic pollution.
[00:40:01] Ashley James: The rates of those diseases back in 1870, for example, before the widespread use of electricity in our homes. What were the rates of those diseases then?
[00:40:18] Arthur Firstenberg: Cancer, before it started to rise, was the 25th most common cause of death. About as many people died of accidental drowning as died of cancer. Diabetes was almost non-existent. The first book in English that was ever written about diabetes in the 1780s, the doctor who wrote it had only ever seen two cases of diabetes in his life. Heart disease was a disease of old people and infants—people with heart defects. People in the prime of their life between infancy and old age never got heart disease. This started to change in the 1840s and 1850s with all those three diseases.
[00:41:21] Ashley James: But that was before electricity was in the homes though. Was there electric smog or electric pollution being developed back then?
[00:41:31] Arthur Firstenberg: It was not in the homes but there were telegraph wires in most populated places.
[00:41:40] Ashley James: That’s right.
[00:41:41] Arthur Firstenberg: And not only most populated places, but running around alongside railroad tracks and elsewhere in rural environments.
[00:41:48] Ashley James: Yeah. It’s absolutely fascinating that you go through in your book all of the electric pollution that we’ve experienced in the last few hundred years, and then the rates of these diseases going through the roof.
[00:42:01] Arthur Firstenberg: And back in those days, the return current for telegraphy did not go through a wire. The return was through the earth itself, and that meant that there were ground currents from—well, nowadays it’s the power grid. But then those days, it was the telegraph grid. All of the return currents went through the earth, and so people were exposed to it just by walking around.
[00:42:32] Ashley James: I have a friend who has fibromyalgia, and there was a thunderstorm. It was so violent that when I woke up in the middle of the night, I could see the lightning—the light of the lightning. There’s so much lightning that I could walk down the hallway in my house and I could see everything. After that, I think it was August 1996 in Muskoka, Canada. And after that day, she was in the hospital for six months unable to walk in excruciating pain.
That just stuck in the back of my mind that she had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Back then, it was really hard to get diagnosed with it, and doctors really don’t know what to do about it. But that anytime there were electrical storms, she was put out for days or weeks. And this one was so bad she was in excruciating pain for six months. That’s a natural phenomenon, right? So imagine what is happening to our bodies when we’re around this electric pollution.
I love to point out in the show that we really don’t focus enough on the fact that our body is energy. When you go to a hospital, if you’re having weird symptoms, they’ll put electrodes on you and they’ll read the energy coming from your heart, coming from your brain. They’re reading the energy our body is putting out there in order to diagnose. That every part of our body is using electricity in some way. So when we’re exposed to this electric smog, of course, it would have an effect on us. Why do we think that we’re immune? Why do we think we’re immune to microwaves, Wi-Fi, and 5G? Why do we think we’re immune? Is it all through marketing? I mean, why is it that we think we’re totally immune and then we get sick and we take meds. Why are so many people blind to the fact that our body is energy, and our body is disrupted by the artificial energy we have surrounded ourselves by?
[00:44:54] Arthur Firstenberg: I do discuss this in my book. We have been in denial since the year 1800 as a culture. That was the year that the electric battery was invented. There started to be uses invented for electricity stored in batteries, and then in the 1840s telegraphy was used with essentially electric generating technology which had been invented in the meantime. The fact that it can make our lives easier and take over the work, the animals—industrial society has grown up completely dependent on electricity since about the year 1800. It has to do not so much with marketing, It’s a societal addiction. It has to do with our self-concept of who we are as human beings.
It’s like if you took away electricity from us, who would we be? How would we live? People don’t want to think about it. There was a medical controversy in the year 1800 as to even the existence of what in the 18th century, the 1700s had been called animal electricity. As I said, people believed that electricity was a life force.
Along came Alessandro Volta with the electric battery, and he demonstrated that you could generate electricity without the use of animals. He said there’s no such thing as animal electricity. There were a big controversy and a debate between Volta and Galvani in the 1790s as to the source of electricity, and Volta’s pronouncement that electricity had nothing to do with biology was widely believed and became the standard teaching in medicine and in society and people forgot. But they didn’t totally forget because electricity was still used very widely for electrotherapy to cure a lot of different diseases basically until the end of the 19th century when it started to be used for lights and power.
Once it started to be used for lights and power, electrotherapy died out. People couldn’t continue to think that it was the life force if it could do all these wonderful things and be so powerful.
[00:48:21] Ashley James: I love the chapter where you gave the history of how they used electricity and medicine. That’s what made me really want this to be a movie, like a documentary or something. It’s so fascinating. That electricity can be harmful, but you also documented the thousands and thousands of cases where they saw healings from it. Many people who were deaf gained their hearing after using a specific electrode in and around their ear that physicians used, or back then, they called them electricians I think you said in the book.
[00:48:58] Arthur Firstenberg: They were called electricians, yes, in the 18th century.
[00:49:02] Ashley James: Quite fascinating.
[00:49:04] Arthur Firstenberg: Yeah, it cured quite a number of documented cases of deafness. It cured some cases of blindness. It was reputed to make the lame walk but at really low power levels and brief exposures. They would expose somebody’s ear to a few pulses of electricity for a few minutes and that was it. When they tried to use higher powers of electricity, it didn’t work. It just injured them.
[00:49:41] Ashley James: There are medical devices that I’ve used and that show great results. Ionic foot detox spas that use a platinum energy system, it’s called, that uses almost a rife frequency. The BEMER, which is a mat out of Europe and used as a medical device in the hospitals there, is documented to increase blood flow right at the capillary and also make red blood cells function in a better way, not stick together, and it stimulates mitochondria to function even better. So there are lots of devices out there that use very, very, very low frequencies—gentle, and they see that it stimulates health and healing.
[00:50:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Gentle and brief, it has to be.
[00:50:35] Ashley James: Right. Gentle and brief.
[00:50:36] Arthur Firstenberg: Not chronic, not for long periods of time. And in today’s world, when we’re all immersed in a sea of electromagnetic radiation, I tell people to exercise extreme caution before using any of these devices because it has some therapeutic effects, but you don’t know what else it’s doing to you.
[00:50:58] Ashley James: Exactly. And wouldn’t it be even healthier to take a break? I mean, I daydream now about going to a cabin in the mountains or somewhere far away from all of this and living like a pioneer by candlelight and just having a break, having a detox from electric pollution.
[00:51:20] Arthur Firstenberg: But you can’t do that anymore because it’s everywhere. It’s coming down from satellites. It’s going through the earth. It’s being broadcast from very powerful radar stations. For example, the entire Amazon Rainforest is being blasted by 28 super powerful radar stations so they can track anybody that moves through the forest. It’s unbelievable what’s going on on the planet.
[00:51:56] Ashley James: This episode wasn’t designed to be doom and gloom. I do want to wake people up, but we also want to give people tools. You do talk in your book about what we can do to protect ourselves given that there’s nowhere to run. Electric pollution is everywhere. I mean, I have friends that live out in the Okanagan Valley in a very remote area of Washington, and there’s no cell service. There are almost no radio waves, and they live off the grid, so they have solar. They heat the house with firewood.
You can lessen. You can decrease the amount of electric pollution. I mean, you have to really go out of your way. You can’t live in a city.
[00:52:42] Arthur Firstenberg: The most important thing that people have to do is get rid of their cell phones. That is the single most powerful source of radiation that everybody’s exposed to nowadays.
[00:52:52] Ashley James: Fascinating.
[00:52:54] Arthur Firstenberg: You’re getting more radiation from your phone than from all the cell towers and from the satellites, and people do not realize this because you’re holding it in your hand, holding it next to your head. The exposure level goes up exponentially with the proximity to the body.
[00:53:15] Ashley James: You had outlined that when 2G went live back in—I believe you said 1996.
[00:53:23] Arthur Firstenberg: Six and seven.
[00:53:24] Ashley James: 1996, 1997, which was right around that time my friend got sick for six months in the hospital after the electric storm. That’d be interesting to see when 2G went live in that part of Canada. So when it went live, you could document, you could pinpoint in the different cities the death rate going up and strange influenza outbreaks only in these specific cities during that time. Well, since then, we’ve had 3G and 4G. Have you been able to repeat this? Have you been able to see that once 3G and 4G went live that you could again see a spike in deaths and a spike in illnesses?
[00:54:04] Arthur Firstenberg: I have not tracked it in as much detail as I tracked it from zero radiation to 2G. That was very dramatic. Locally, I collected anecdotal reports here in Santa Fe when AT&T upgraded all its towers from 3G to 4G, there were lots of reports of illnesses around Santa Fe. I don’t have statistics to back that up. Those are only anecdotal reports, but it’s very consistent.
[00:54:42] Ashley James: It would be interesting to go back and look at because, of course, the biggest leap would be from zero to something. But then 2G to 3G to 4G, I mean, those just ramp up incredibly more powerful and more pervasive.
[00:54:59] Arthur Firstenberg: There are also so many more providers. There’s AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Each one does a different thing at a different time, and it’s just a kind of a gradual increase. Then you added Wi-Fi in about 2001. Yeah, it’s a gradual increase. 5G is no longer gradual. 5G is very dramatically different.
[00:55:29] Ashley James: Why is 5G so different than 4G?
[00:55:32] Arthur Firstenberg: Because it uses millimeter waves instead of centimeter waves—a very short wave, high frequency. It uses phased array technology, which is focused pencil-like beams where the cell tower tracks your user device and vice versa, or the satellite tracks you in a narrowly focused beam. And the power levels are very much greater. They’re 10 to 100 times greater than with 4G, 3G.
[00:56:08] Ashley James: If 5G comes in my area, I’m going to get rid of my cell phone. I mean, that is just it. What you just described was the final straw. I have a friend who doesn’t have a cell phone, and she’s a dear friend. I’m kind of just perplexed at how she survives in life, but she does. She gets around, and she has a home line, has a landline, and a computer and does just fine. I know it would definitely be an interesting experience.
[00:56:36] Arthur Firstenberg: There are a few of us that still live like that.
[00:56:41] Ashley James: It would definitely be an interesting experience, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my health to that extent. Either that or I’ll have to move to an area where 5G doesn’t exist anymore.
[00:56:52] Arthur Firstenberg: Well, I want people to wake up to the fact that they should not sacrifice their planet.
[00:56:57] Ashley James: I know.
[00:56:58] Arthur Firstenberg: For the convenience.
[00:57:01] Ashley James: I think there’s so much more to discuss about 5G, and I’ve had a few people come on the show and talk about it a little bit. It is so fascinating, and if there’s more for you to share, I’d love to do that. I also want to talk about Wi-Fi because we haven’t touched on it. Dr. Klinghardt, who I’ve had on the show, is an MD from Germany who is actually local to me, but people come from all around the world to see him at the Sophia Health Institute. He regularly helps children who are on the spectrum no longer be on the spectrum. Now, were they ever truly autistic in the first place? That’s debatable.
He says the first thing he does when the parents come, from all around the world, with their autistic child or autistic-like symptoms I should say—non-verbal, beating their head against the wall, looking like they’re in incredible agony, these children. He says to remove them from Wi-Fi. Zero Wi-Fi in the house. Have them be nowhere near Wi-Fi. In his clinic, there are no cell phones allowed. There’s no Wi-Fi allowed. Every computer is hardwired. And he says that heavy metals, which have accumulated in the brain, the Wi-Fi vibrates those heavy metals at 60 hertz, and it’s heating up the brain and causing the autism-like symptoms. And then he does a natural detox, a natural chelation of heavy metals. And these children become verbal, stop hitting their head, are able to communicate, are able to look their parents in the eye and say they love them, and give them hugs. It is miraculous what we see come out of his clinic, but he says the first thing is to stop with the Wi-Fi. It is basically cooking their brain.
[00:58:53] Arthur Firstenberg: I agree with him. People have to stop with the Wi-Fi, and schools have to stop with the Wi-Fi. Children have to start living in a non-irradiated environment. They’re growing up much more unhealthy than previous generations of children. Why? Because they go to school with Wi-Fi and they grew up with cell phones. If we want to have a healthy future and a healthy planet to live on, that’s the direction in which we have to go.
[00:59:27] Ashley James: Do you see any correlation between the use of cell phones, Wi-Fi, or electric pollution, and mental health issues? You did mention that anxiety, which was never previously documented, was widespread after we used the telegraph. We’re now seeing that the second leading cause of death in the ages between 10 and 24 is suicide or the second leading cause of death of suicide, and that is new. As of the last few years, suicide has now jumped up to the second leading cause of death in our youth right now, and all these children have cell phones in their hands and are constantly exposed to Wi-Fi. Now, of course, social media bullying is all a factor. Do you see that there is a direct correlation between the amount of electric pollution that our youth is exposed to and mental health issues?
[01:00:23] Arthur Firstenberg: I would say it’s a big factor. It’s not the only factor, but it’s a big factor.
[01:00:29] Ashley James: So, what can we do to protect ourselves? Okay, so we get rid of our cell phone, that’s one thing. If someone can’t because of work, they completely limit their exposure at all costs to the cell phone. What else can we do in our home?
[01:00:48] Arthur Firstenberg: Well, I’m on a campaign to save this planet, not just to have people individually be healthier because it’s becoming impossible. If you own a cell phone, if you’re dependent on your cell phone, which means you expect it to work wherever you go, then you are dependent on the wireless infrastructure. Your cell phone cannot work wherever you go unless the entire infrastructure of the planet is there. All the cell towers have to be there. People more and more, even when they go on an ocean cruise, they want their cell phone to work so all the satellites have to be there.
The demand has to stop. It’s an insatiable demand for connectivity that is driving a lot of this. Yes, there’s a desire to make money, but at the base, it’s an insatiable demand for connectivity. We’ve gotten so used to—as alive human beings—having the right to connect to anyone, anywhere, anytime, wherever we happen to be. That’s killing our planet. It’s got to stop.
[01:01:59] Ashley James: So my friend Sean, who loved your book has some questions, and I think these are fantastic for everyone. He says that it’s a logistical question that in your book, you talk about aluminum or copper mesh to block EMF. How would you do that? Line your roof, cover your walls? How can we live in a city with, for example, 5G? Or how can we live in a city with electric pollution and best protect ourselves within the walls of our house?
[01:02:30] Arthur Firstenberg: I live in the Southwest where a lot of the houses are made of adobe, which is mud, it’s earth. Earth blocks the radiation, and that’s partly how I survive in Santa Fe. If you do not live in that kind of a house, there’s a big problem with smart meters.
[01:02:55] Ashley James: Yes.
[01:02:56] Arthur Firstenberg: That is increasingly everywhere, and they put a meter that emits radiation on the outside of your wall, and there’s basically nothing you can do about it. But a lot of places have an opt-out. If you opt-out and your neighbors got it, you can line your wall. You can actually paint that wall with paint that contains metallic fibers that are usually silver fibers that you can buy from places like Less EMF and paint the wall. It’ll block radiation from that side of the house. If your neighbor’s Wi-Fi is bothering you, again you can block that. You can even do it cheaply. You can put a sheet of aluminum foil over your wall and it’ll do the same thing. The thicker the sheet or the more layers, the better the blockage.
The problem comes if the shielding material, if it’s metallic, becomes too large then it starts acting like an antenna. And it actually draws in and amplifies electromagnetic radiation from your environment. Then it depends on the size of it and what its resonant frequency is. But basically, I tell people that they do not want to live in a house with a metal roof because a metal roof is a huge antenna. Unless you want to live in a Faraday cage in complete metal structure. Not terribly healthy.
A lot of people sleep on their sleeping canopies, which shield them from everything in their environment, and it’s not terribly healthy, but it does block the radiation. The reason it’s not terribly healthy is it distorts your own body’s electromagnetic field, it reflects it back at you, it blocks (to some degree) some of the earth’s natural frequencies, which you depend on for health but unblock all of them. It’s not a terribly healthy thing to do. But sometimes it’s a tradeoff. If you want to survive, sometimes you’ve got to do it.
[01:05:22] Ashley James: How effective is it to turn the circuits off in the house, or at least to your bedroom when you sleep?
[01:05:29] Arthur Firstenberg: Somewhat effective. The problem is when you turn off the circuit breaker, it only disconnects the hotwires and not the neutral wire. The neutral wire is at the same potential as the earth, supposedly, and it’s the return current to the power plant. So when you turn off the circuit breaker, it disconnects the hotwire, leaves the neutral wire connected, and when there’s dirty electricity in the power grid it still gets into your house. So it’s somewhat effective and not completely effective.
What I’ve done in my house is I’ve installed a three-pole switch on the outside of my house, which allows me to disconnect all three wires at the same time.
[01:06:16] Ashley James: Oh, yes. I had a Ph.D. electrician—a really interesting guy. His whole life work is about helping people to get clean electricity and minimize electricity in the house. People will call him up with weird symptoms. He comes into their house, he tests, and he either sees that their entire neighborhood is dirty electricity from the transformer, or they’re sometimes an entire town has dirty electricity and the whole town is experiencing weird symptoms.
[01:06:53] Arthur Firstenberg: I’ll tell you a secret. Every wire in the world now has dirty electricity because there are computers connected to them. There are billions of computers connected to the power grid.
[01:07:08] Ashley James: Fascinating.
[01:07:09] Arthur Firstenberg: And that did to use to be the case 30 years ago
[01:07:13] Ashley James: Yes. This man, Sal La Duca, when I interviewed him, he talked about how after he helped people stop having dirty electricity, all of a sudden everyone in the house could sleep. The insomnia the whole house had, even the baby had it. The father who is an MD didn’t believe any of this. Everyone had insomnia. All of a sudden, the insomnia went away overnight. And I’ve said this many times. I live in a rural area 45 minutes outside of Seattle, and when we have storms in the winter, our power will go out—sometimes for two weeks because of the wind storms. And it’s the best sleep I ever have when the power is out because there’s no Wi-Fi, no electricity.
[01:08:04] Arthur Firstenberg: It used to be that when I would tell people when you go home tonight, turn off your cell phone, take the battery out of it—which mostly is not possible, but it used to be. Either that or put it in a metal pot is just as good. Unplug your computer, unplug your modem, unplug your television, and see how you feel in the morning.
[01:08:34] Ashley James: And leave the electricity on in the house?
[01:08:37] Arthur Firstenberg: Yes. Turn off your cell phone and all the wireless. Unplug your TV, computer, and modem, and they suddenly can sleep and feel better in the morning. It used to be. Nowadays, when everybody’s got a smart meter on their house, it might not make so much difference.
[01:09:00] Ashley James: When I was pregnant with my first pregnancy, I had a blanket that had lead in it. It was quite heavy. It was a lead blanket. And I would wear it over my belly when I was at the computer. I experimented with my cell phone to see that my cell phone lost all signals when it was in this blanket. There are videos of people using these meters to show that the blanket really does block. I’m just wondering, should we be wearing these blankets when we’re sitting at work or wearing clothing that has this lead or some kind of copper or aluminum mesh?
[01:09:38] Arthur Firstenberg: Copper is the best shield.
[01:09:39] Ashley James: Copper is the best shield, okay. We should be wearing synthetic clothing?
[01:09:43] Arthur Firstenberg: Copper and silver are the best. Well, there are companies that sell clothing like that. To some extent they work. To some extent it depends. They don’t surround you completely. They’re not complete barriers. If you’re wearing a shielding hat, for example, and radiation bounces off the floor ad up into your hear onto the hat, it can get amplified from the inside. It’s a two-edged sword shielding.
[01:10:18] Ashley James: Oh my God. I never thought of that. You’re right. Oh my gosh. For those who have to use computers to work—I mean, now, think about the education of these children.
[01:10:32] Arthur Firstenberg: If you have to use a computer, turn off the Wi-Fi. Use it wired only.
[01:10:38] Ashley James: Hardwire your computer. That’s what we do at our house. We hardwire everything.
[01:10:42] Arthur Firstenberg: Hardwire everything. Hardwire your computer. Hardwire your phones—simple answer.
[01:10:46] Ashley James: Yeah, that’s right. You can get an adapter to plug into your phone to hardwire it. And then keep it on airplane mode if you need to.
[01:10:55] Arthur Firstenberg: I do not recommend using the cell phone even that way because it still got the resonant circuit in it.
[01:11:00] Ashley James: Okay. So get a landline.
[01:11:04] Arthur Firstenberg: Get a landline. Use it only hardwired, not cordless, and use a wired computer.
[01:11:10] Ashley James: Got it.
[01:11:11] Arthur Firstenberg: And disable the Wi-Fi on your computer. Disable the Wi-Fi in your modem or your router.
[01:11:18] Ashley James: What about earthing or grounding as a way of helping the body with exposure to electric pollution? Have you looked into earthing and grounding as a form of mitigation?
[01:11:35] Arthur Firstenberg: It’s very popular. It used to be very effective. Nowadays, when the earth is polluted with dirty electricity, most places on the earth, when you plug yourself into the earth, you actually can draw up the dirty electricity into your body. So it no longer is as effective as it used to be.
[01:11:56] Ashley James: What do you do on a daily basis to clean yourself of electric pollution or mitigate electric pollution?
[01:12:08] Arthur Firstenberg: I feel well in my house in Santa Fe. Mostly, there’s nothing that I have to do. If I am overcharged, I fill up a bathtub full of water and put some sea salt in it, and that will draw out the electricity from your body, or a handful of clay.
[01:12:30] Ashley James: I love it. As we wrap up our interview, I’d love to talk about how we can help your movement. I think we’re all on board. We all want a healthier planet. You have laid out very well that there is a definite problem that we have, and we are rapidly getting worse and worse. I mean, I don’t want to be doomsday about it, but if we just run with this technology, we’re just going to get to the point where we kill ourselves and the planet. There needs to be checks and balances. We need to slow down and really take the precaution seriously. What can we do to prevent 5G, for example? What can we do to tell these companies that we don’t want this electric pollution anymore?
[01:13:26] Arthur Firstenberg: I think the single most powerful thing that anybody can do is get rid of their cell phone. Stop being part of the demand for it. That’s the single most important thing to do. They can also monitor my websites, which are cell phonetaskforce.org. I send out newsletters, and there are posted on the website—a number of languages. And my other website is 5gspaceappeal.org. That’s the international appeal to stop 5G on earth and in space. It’s got about 300,000 signatures to date. And they can make donations on either of those websites to support my work and to support legal action that we’re taking. We have a case before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals right now to declare laws that facilitate 5G unconstitutional.
[01:14:42] Ashley James: Yes. Arthur, that’s wonderful. I’m going to make sure the links to everything that Arthur Firstenberg does is in the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. And the link to your book, which I want everyone to read. It’s a fascinating book. I really can’t put it down. I’m very excited to finish it. I’m in the middle of it.
[01:15:08] Arthur Firstenberg: Our third website, which is not so popular yet, is echoearth.org, and it stands for End Cellphones Here on Earth.
[01:15:20] Ashley James: Okay, echoearth.org. I’m going to make sure that that and all the other links are on the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehalth.com, and a link to your book, The Invisible Rainbow, which is fantastic. I think everyone should read it. Arthur, is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?
[01:15:39] Arthur Firstenberg: We live in dangerous times. Our earth is under threat from many directions. Electromagnetic radiation is just one of them. We have the burning of fossil fuels, which has got to stop. We have deforestation. We have pesticides. We have a lot of threats, and to me, the single most urgent one—and the one that I have become an expert in—is the electromagnetic radiation. It’s more urgent because it’s escalating faster than the other, and society is in total denial that it even exists. This is what I’m working on.
[01:16:34] Ashley James: Arthur, thank you so much for your work. I really appreciate you coming on the show today and sharing this information. I can’t wait to see The Invisible Rainbow as a documentary. It’s going to be such a great movie. Please, feel free to come back to the show anytime you have more to share. We’d love to have you back.
[01:16:51] Arthur Firstenberg: Thank you, Ashley.
The Body Electric by Robert O. Becker
Check out IIN and get a free module: LearnTrueHealth.com/coach
How does the moon affect our lives? In this episode, Jenny Fenig explains the lunar cycle and how we can incorporate it into our lives. Jenny shares how we can manage our time better daily. She also explains the importance of breathing, grounding, and listening to the body.
Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today we have entrepreneur, coach, and homeschooling mom, Jenny Fenig. What I love about her message is she is a very successful, busy entrepreneur, busy mom, busy homeschooling mom, and also a fantastic coach. She figured out how to pack in all these activities while working from home, while taking care of her kids in homeschooling. She figured out how to do it, and she loves teaching others how to make this transition. I thought it’d be great to get some wonderful guidance from her.
As you’re listening to Jenny, if you think to yourself, I would love to be a coach. I would love to help others mentally, emotionally, and physically become healthier, become more fulfilled in their lives, and be able to gain more joy. I’d love to work with clients to help them achieve their life and health goals; then I highly recommend checking out IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I took IIN’s program. It’s a year-long health coach training program. It’s 100% done online. They also have an accelerated 6-month program for those that want to be full-time students.
The year-long program is designed for busy people, and you can fit it in about 20 minutes a day. I’d like to do it in the evenings or sometimes I’d listen and do the coursework while I was driving, exercising, folding laundry, or cooking dinner, but I was able to get it in with my busy schedule. It’s absolutely fantastic. IIN’s program is life-changing. About half the students that do it do it for personal growth, which is pretty phenomenal. You could do it for your own personal growth, but of course, I did it because I also wanted to help my clients. I want to gain new tools to help them as a health coach, and they even train you on how to start your own business and become a successful health coach, which is really exciting. So not only do they teach you how to help your clients with mental, emotional, and physical health; gaining life goals; and increasing joy and fulfillment in every aspect of their lives. You’re also taught how to find clients that would resonate with your coaching style, and that clients you would just feel incredibly fulfilled and happy to work with. It’s a wonderful program.
I partnered up with IIN and they give a huge discount to the listeners of the Learn True Health podcast. So you can just google IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and when you give them a call, most of their staff have actually gone through the program and become integrative health coaches. What you can do is you can talk to them. They’ll help you work out your goals in terms of becoming a health coach and joining their program and then when you mention my name, Ashley James with the Learn True Health podcast, you will be given a huge discount. A few times a year, they do have some great specials as well, so always be on the lookout for that.
If you’d like to try their program for free, there’s a module that they give you for free. Go to learntruehealth.com/coach. That’s learntruehealth.com/coach. Sign up, put your name and email, and then you’ll be given a module for free. You can just put your toe in the water, try it out, and see if it’s something that resonates with you. See if it’s something that’s right for you. It was absolutely incredible when I did it. I highly recommend it. There have been over 100 of the listeners that I know of that have reached out to me that have told me that they’ve been through the program. A lot of them, because they heard about it through me through the podcast, so I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and share that they’ve absolutely loved their experience with IIN. It’s a wonderful stepping stone because you can go and specialize in other things. You can specialize in gut health or mental health. There are just so many ways so that you can specialize as a health coach, which is really exciting.
You become a health coach, but there are so many tools that they teach you around life coaching because health encompasses every aspect of our life. IIN is not about counting calories or teaching you how many grams of protein are in something. That’s not what IIN is about. It’s about giving you the real tools to help make huge differences in people’s lives, in working with clients to help them become more fulfilled in every aspect of their life. Check it out. Go to learntruehealth.com/coach. Get your free module. And when you call IIN, make sure you mention my name Ashley James and Learn True Health podcast so you can get access to the great special that they give all the listeners.
Thank you so much for being a listener of the Learn True Health podcast. Please come join our Facebook group. It’s a wonderfully supportive community for holistic-minded people. Just search Learn True Health on Facebook. Thank you for sharing these episodes with those you care about so we can help everyone to Learn True Health.
[00:05:26] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 444. I’m so excited for today’s guest. We have Jenny Fenig. Her website is jennyfenig.com. All the links that Jenny has are going to be the show notes with today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com. Jenny’s going to teach us today how to co-create with the cosmos and align ourselves with the energy of nature to help us achieve what we want to achieve in life. Also, there’s a bit of—from what I understand—tapping into your human potential, tapping into your life purpose. It’s going to be a really fun and light-hearted episode. I’m looking forward to it. Welcome to the show.
[00:06:15] Jenny Fenig: Thanks so much. I’m excited to be here, Ashley.
[00:06:18] Ashley James: Yeah, absolutely. What led you down the path to becoming an expert at co-creating with the cosmos?
[00:06:26] Jenny Fenig: Well, that’s a good question. I think the larger conversation is looking at how I’ve experienced so much loss in my life and so much death. We’re just going to go there. I mean life is death is life is death is life. We go through so many deaths in a lifetime. Death of an identity, a particular career path, a place that you used to live that isn’t working for you anymore, or what have you. For me, when I was 16 years old, I experienced the death of a significant person in my life. That person was my sister Julie—still is my sister Julie. Energy is energy. I absolutely have a strong connection with her still to this day. It’s been over 25 years since she died. But that experience of wow, life is so mysterious and it’s not “fair.” It’s not what you thought it was going to be, yet it all is lining up for your biggest opportunities to grow, to learn, to be who you came here to be, and do what you came here to do.
With that death of my sister when she was 12 and I was 16—she died of cancer—I just skyrocketed into this experience of grief, loss, and what just happened? This isn’t supposed to happen. This goes against the natural order. And then six months later, my best friend’s brother died. That was just another example of what? These things aren’t supposed to be happening. At that point, we were seniors in high school. You’ve been looking forward to this moment your whole life. I grew up in the south in Georgia and Florida. At that point, I was living in Florida. This friend and I had just gotten onto homecoming court, which is this dream that we had. It felt like such a big deal.
My sister had died earlier that year and then her brother dies that fall, and it was just this bizarre experience of this feeling that I hadn’t ever felt before ever, and then no one can prepare you for it. It allowed me to go really deep into my own process, my own faith, and my own questioning of all of it, really all of it. My sister was quite connected to God, and that was not anything that I really knew much about, to be honest with you. That was her thing. It was my dad’s thing, but it just was something I witnessed from afar like what’s that all about? I don’t really understand what you all are talking about. And then once my sister died and I had this huge pain and then my best friend’s brother died, you go deeper into this hole. That’s what it felt like just sitting with this and trying to understand something that can’t really be understood in a logical rational way.
As I journey forward going on to college and just doing my best to keep showing up—keep showing up for the work, keep showing up for my talent, keep showing up for my ambition—I kept being led to the places I was supposed to be, the people I was supposed to meet, the experiences I was supposed to have so that I could do what I’m here to do. What was fascinating was early on in my sophomore year—that best friend whose brother had died our senior year of high school—that best friend died.
I basically had three deaths in three years from the time I was 16 to 19. I wouldn’t wish that on people. It’s very, very challenging as you can imagine, but it cracked me wide open and it allowed me to really come to this place of I am still here because my work is not done. I am going to really feel the energy of these people who meant so much to me. I know that they’re guiding me on because this work that I’m here to do, you’re here to do, and we’re all here to do, it requires all of us. It requires all of us to be awake. It requires all of us to be courageous. It requires all of us to approach each day like it is a gift because it is, and to go after the things that you’re most meant to do.
Once I moved on into my career, I moved to New York City after I graduated from the University of Florida. I found my way into the career of public relations. I thought I had struck gold. This was a thing I was here to do. I’m working at this major agency, on these big clients, and eventually traveling globally on these big projects. Although it was exciting and I felt like I was at a good place and working on interesting projects and with interesting people, I had this feeling inside, which was really me connecting with that small still voice within to come face to face with the truth. The truth was this isn’t what I was supposed to be doing.
It was such a tough pill to swallow because it looked good on paper. It looked really good on paper. You try to ignore it. You try to just push it away, push it down, and question yourself. I thought there was something wrong with me. I wondered why I couldn’t be satisfied or I couldn’t be happy when other people might think this was fine or awesome. But that small still voice within just kept nudging me along, nudging me along to say, Jenny, this isn’t it. You got to keep going. You got to keep looking. And most importantly, you’ve got to take care of yourself.
That environment that I was in, I graduated from college in 1999. You can go back to that point in time. The internet was very new, so there were no social media. That wasn’t taking our time, but when you worked on these big projects, I had to be at work a lot and I worked a lot. I was under a tremendous amount of pressure and stress. It’s not something that I found to be healthy, sustainable, or desirable.
A big breakthrough for me was that I realized I had to start taking better care of myself. I really needed to learn how to mother myself, nurture myself, take a pause, take time, and not feel like I was racing all the time. You asked the question of how did I really find this work. I found the work by diving headfirst into the work that I felt I was here for and was talented at but then realizing that it didn’t quite hit the mark.
The way that I had to like deconstruct it and figure out what was a better path for me was to choose health, to choose vitality, and to choose to trust that small still voice within, which has continuously guided me on. It guided me to eventually quit that job, move into a different job, which is a thing I didn’t even know was a thing until I found it. I moved out of public relations and into conference producing, which again it just kind of fell in my lap when I was in sheer desperation to get me out of here, I can’t do this anymore.
That opened me up to interesting thinkers, thinking like an entrepreneur, acting like an entrepreneur, putting on these big events, solving problems in the market, and just understanding that I really can do anything that I want to do. I just have to decide what that is. I believe that’s true for your listeners as well. We are in a choice. We can come into this place of I have these distinct skills. I have these gifts. I have these talents. When we can really blend everything up and understand what problems we solve in the market and then communicate with an audience that is excited for us to help them solve that problem, then amazing things happen.
A big pathway for me—I know your show is really a lot about health, vitality, and all the different ways—was I dove headfirst into yoga those first few years in New York. Once I could afford to belong to a gym, I started taking yoga classes. I took my first one in college. I thought it was the weirdest thing ever, and I wasn’t ready for it. But then once I was ready for it, in those New York City days, I realized it was a source of comfort and a source of peace. It made my body feel so good. I allowed myself to just feel that and to come to this place of oh my goodness. When you’re in a yoga class, you’re not competing at all. I thought so much of my life I had been competing. That was the game, you competed. When you’re in yoga, it’s not about competition. It’s really about being present with yourself, what’s going on that particular day, and honoring that.
By following that path to yoga, eventually, I got this download to train to become a yoga teacher. I didn’t know where that was going to take me, but I trusted it. Again, that small still voice within, I trusted it. I said, okay, let’s see. Let’s see what happens when I commit myself to 200 hours of training on anatomy, on yoga philosophy, on the different asanas on meditation on just that whole realm. Once I did that, the next level of my career opened up, and I discovered the field of coaching. That has just taken me on this incredible path, this incredible journey. I realized that serving women was my passion.
As I got deeper into my study and work with women, I remembered how connected we are to the moon and the way our bodies are designed. They’re so intelligently designed. The way the lunar cycle is designed, the way nature is designed, there’s such intelligence and such wisdom in that. When we can tap into that wisdom, we come into that place of alignment. That is something I practice. That is something I teach. And that is something I want to remind everyone of. It’s very much been taken away. We live in such a society with technology and go, go, go, you’re falling behind, and all of it. Nature’s never behind, you know what I’m saying? It’s not behind. When I look outside, my trees aren’t like oh my gosh, I don’t have enough leaves yet. Or this tree is bigger than me and I must be less than. Nature is just so sure of who it is, and it’s always right on time. I find there’s such wisdom in that. It’s something I love talking about.
[00:18:27] Ashley James: Can you take us back to the moment when you realize that there was an energy of the moon to tap into? And explain how you figured it out and how it helped you.
[00:18:41] Jenny Fenig: Well, it’s interesting because my mom, growing up, would often say to me, look up at the moon. Since the time I was in college, I have lived away from where she was living and then beyond. She often would plant that seed with me and sometimes I thought she was a little wacky for going all right. But that has stuck with me. What’s so fascinating, no matter where you are located on this planet, every single one of us is looking at the same moon. It’s not different in the Philippines, in the United States, in Canada, in Spain, and in Antarctica. It’s the same moon. It’s the exact same moon. I just think that’s so cool. We live on such a giant planet, we’re all looking up at that same ball of light.
When it really became clearer for me was when I just started reading various books about women, history, energy, and our creative process. Women are natural creators or creatrixes. A creatrix is the female term of a creator. We just naturally do it. We naturally create. Some of us are called for motherhood where we create a child inside, or we adopt a child. However that comes to be, or somehow a child comes into our life. I think I got deeper into it when I became a mother. My oldest child is 11 years old now, my youngest is 6. I also have a 9-year-old. When I became pregnant for that first time, which was so interesting because for a lot of years I didn’t want to become pregnant. That wasn’t something I was ready for. And then once I became ready for that and wanting that, I saw my body in a whole new way.
As women cycle, a lot of us have had a menstrual cycle. We know what that is. Menstrual cycles are the same as the lunar cycle. It’s around 29 and ½ days. Think about that. Those are the things I wish I would have been taught in school. When I was growing up, it was very much like when you’re on your period, that’s dirty. That’s dirty. It’s something you want to hide. Maybe you were made fun of, especially if the boys knew you’re on your period somehow in school because you took your purse to the bathroom. It was something that almost felt shameful. There wasn’t a real big rite of passage around it when I was growing up.
I will tell you, when my daughter moves into that phase of her life, I will do it differently with her. I will give her something that I didn’t have that I’ve had to learn for myself. When you really tune into the fact that we cycle, our body cycles the same as the moon, that’s something to take note of. With the moon—what I’ve come to learn through practice, study, and just applying this in my own personal life, in my business, and helping my clients do this—is that if you really want to understand how to work with the energy of the moon. When you are menstruating, there is energy. You might have read the book The Red Tent. I read that many, many years ago. It’s a fantastic book. It’s really that energy of being still, resting, renewing, and not go go go. You’re just receiving it. Your body is doing the work, your body’s cleansing, and that’s the energy of the new moon. That’s the energy of that new moon.
If you were to start tracking the lunar cycle—and most calendars have this represented on the calendar. If you have a wall calendar, if you have a printed calendar. I still use those. I mean, I have a business. We have a lot of digital things going on, but I have a printed calendar that I keep on my desk and often in my purse. I’m not going as many places these days as I once did pre-COVID, but I’ve got my printed calendar, and I’ve got my calendar in my kitchen that I keep up on the wall. The moon phases are represented there. Take note of those. Some people have no idea where the moon is right now in terms of the phase of the cycle, and I suggest that you start paying attention—if you haven’t already—and just tracking your own energy around what’s going on in the moon.
Sometimes, as women, our bodies might be in that same phase. If you’re still in your bleeding years, you might bleed at the same time as the new moon. If so, the energy is really synced up. If not, there’s still a lot that you can glean from the moon. And you really want to understand what’s happening out there so you can better take care of yourself. That’s the whole thing. Isn’t that what true health is all about is you know how to take care of yourself, and you know how to have others help take care of you if you have other people in your life—really helping to nourish you and support you?
So that new moon is all about rest, renewal, and ultra-vision. And then about a week later, we move into the first quarter moon. That’s when you look up in the sky, and just last night it was the first quarter moon. I looked up and it was just like magic. It was so captivating, and it looks like a half-moon where that right side is glowing. And you don’t see the light on the left side. It’s just that right side of the moon. That is the energy of growth, action, and commitment. What you can do at the new moon, as well as resting and renewing, is that you get the vision for what you want to focus on in this upcoming cycle.
With moons, there are 13 moons in a year. There are 12 months in a year, but there are 13 moons in a year. You have an opportunity 13 times in a year to really set your intention, and it doesn’t always happen at the first of the month. That’s not how it works. It happens when it happens based on that lunar cycle, and the lunar cycle is set. You could go look ahead a few years and you’ll go see the lunar cycle like when the new moon of 2025 will be. Scientists have this down. It’s really extraordinary what can be tracked and looked at as you move forward.
What I like to do at each new moon is set my intention. What is my intention? What do I want my energy and my focus to go to for this lunar cycle so that as I take my steps forward? As I put my energy out there, my actions out there, and my words out there, I can see the seeds that I’m planting blossom.
I’m setting my intention. I’m establishing some goals to support that intention at the new moon, so when I get to that first-quarter moon I’m really quickening my steps. I’m like okay, let’s go. Have I sent out that email? Have I talked to that person? Have I gone to get that thing? Have I planted my seeds, and if not, what seeds do I really want to be planting now or in the next few days? Because then, about a week later, we’re going to get to that full moon. And that’s when you look up in the sky. Everybody knows what a full moon looks like.
There tends to be a pretty powerful energy at the full moon. There’s just such powerful sensations that are happening right there, and we’re all feeling it. We’re all feeling it. There’s a lot of data to support that hospitals and emergency rooms in particular have a lot more action around the full moon. There’s just this heightened intensity that’s going on. And when we can understand that, we don’t have to be blindsided by it and going like why do I feel all this? You understand. You understand it intuitively, and you can really make space for it.
What I know at full moon is that’s when I’m in my fullest power. That’s when I’m going for it. As women, that’s when we would be ovulating. That’s when we could conceive a child. You think about that, and there are only a few days in a woman’s cycle that that could happen okay. When you then understand your own energy at that point, the energy of the full moon at that point, you can harness some things.
In my business, I might have some big activity going on at the full moon where I am putting something out there. I have hosted lots of retreats all around the world and tied that into the full moon. Where I will look ahead and go, all right, I’m going to have this event in November. I’d like to bring the women together around the full moon. When’s that full moon going to be? Okay, it’s this point. Let me check with my retreat center and see if they have space available at that time. You see, that’s how you can really line it up. Some people might decide that they’re going to have some special thing there, they’re going to put this thing out there, they’re going to whatever. You just know. That is maybe you want to go camping, like there’s just something that you want to do around the full moon.
And I do a lot of this with my kids, especially my daughter. She’s super into it. We really talk about the moon together. If I take my dog for a walk around the property at night, I’m always looking for the moon. What’s interesting is you don’t know where she’s going to be. The moon is a feminine energy, p.s. So you don’t know where the moon is going to be. I can’t always look up over this particular tree and see her. It’s not how she works. She’s very mysterious, and I love that. I just love that energy. I love that idea that she’s always there, I just don’t know where she is all the time. I know what’s up. I know if she’s at this phase or that phase, but I can’t always find her in the sky. It’s just an interesting thing to play with, and it also helps you deepen into your faith. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Get it? And that we have to trust. We have to trust. And we have to trust planting these seeds. I’ll give you an example and I’ll tell you about the last phase of the moon.
A few months back, as we were really in the throes of COVID here in Massachusetts. I know that you have listeners all over. Everyone is being impacted in different places, and it’s just horrible. It’s this horrible thing. A few months back, we really weren’t leaving our house. Except I was able to go to the garden store and be outside, and I eventually got these seeds—these sunflower seeds. Now I have never planted seeds. I just recently have gotten into gardening. A few years back, I kind of just all right. Let me try this, let me try that. But I’d always buy plants that were already formed. They were in the pots, and I could transfer them into my land into the earth.
Well, I decided to just see what happens when I would plant seeds, and sunflower seeds in particular, which is really interesting because that was my favorite flower in high school. I campaigned for it to become our senior class flower, and it did, which is very exciting because we had had the rose for 20 years straight. My whole thing was okay, rose is a great flower, but can we just have a different flower? Let’s be creative. So we got the sunflower.
I decided to get these seeds, and I put them on the earth. I remember thinking to myself is this going to work? These things are really small. Is this really going to work? I’m going to follow the directions. I’m going to space them the number of inches they’re supposed to be spaced apart. I’ll water them. Okay. But I had that doubt in my head like really, could something as big as sunflowers grow out of these little things?
Oh my gosh, Ashley, if you could look outside my window right now, these things are so huge. These stalks are taller than me, and I’ve been checking on them. There’s one in particular that I can see the yellow starting to peek through. I’m like oh my goodness, I think this week the flowers are going to come out. Because at this point, it’s been the giant stalks. Then I still know, within the stalks, the flowers in there. It’s just not ready. It’s not ripe yet. It’s not time yet, but can I still believe? Can I still believe? For everyone, can you still believe? Even if you can’t see it, you have to believe it to see it. Some people have it backward like I’ll see it when I believe it, or I believe it when I see it. Okay, I’ll believe it when I see it. No, you will see it when you believe it.
That’s really how I feel what the moon allows us to do. She’s so consistent. As I’ve used her energy and really worked with her energy and co-created it, I’ve been able to come into deeper communion with my own body, with my own wellness, with my own groundedness and connection to the earth, and to my place on this earth. Then I’ve helped my people really tap into this wisdom as well.
So the last phase of the cycle is called the last quarter moon, and that is when you look up and you see the light on the left side. So you don’t see the light on the right side, and that’s how you can always know. When you look up, if it’s on the right side, the moon is waxing. It’s getting bigger in the sky. And if the light is on the left side, it’s called waning. The energy is waning and it’s getting smaller. Eventually going back to that new moon and then starting the cycle again.
So with the last quarter moon, that is the energy of letting go. Letting go to rise higher. That is when you have seen what has started growing. What has become real? You’ve put in the effort, you’ve put in actions, you set that intention back at the new moon, you set those goals, and you work towards them. And some of them were meant to happen the way that you hoped they would or the way that you semi-envisioned that they would. Others you realize you know what, that wasn’t aligned, maybe not yet, maybe I need to simply be more patient, or maybe I need to let that go because this other thing is freaking growing and it looks really exciting. I want to align my energy with that. I know that I can’t do all the things all the time, so I’m going to double down on that, and I’m going to let go of these other things that can’t come with me into the next cycle.
That is the lunar cycle in a nutshell. I’m actually looking up at this gorgeous lunar calendar. In addition to the ones that I mentioned that come printed in a lot of these calendars you might buy, I had my designer on my team—we collaborated on this really cool one sheet and it just says Lunar Calendar 2020. What was so interesting is that I had her put all the names of the months at the top of the paper, so going across horizontally, and then the numbers go down vertically.
January there’s 1 to 31, February 1 to 29, and they’re just these long rows of numbers going down the page. And then she would go in and plot out each phase of the cycle and go across the page. What is the full moon in January, February, December? And it looks like—if you ever had or ever saw those really cool beads that you could hang in a doorway, they’re kind of like circa the 1970s, but they’re cool. You could hang these beads in a doorway and then open the beads and move into another room. They kind of look like those beads. They’re so pretty when you look at it. To me, it’s just exquisite art the way that nature was designed. And the more that we understand that, the more that we understand ourselves.
[00:34:57] Ashley James: Beautiful. It’s amazing how there’s so much in nature that really affects us, and we often just don’t think about it. I mean the moon is powerful. If you think about it, the moon is strong enough to change the tides and pull the water, the ocean in one direction and then in another and create the tide. We’re made of water. Why wouldn’t the moon have some kind of pull if it can pull the water in the ocean? Why wouldn’t it have some kind of effect on us? I mean, it’s not a huge effect, but it can be felt, and we can see it. You can see it when we go to the ocean, and we see the tide come in and out. What other instances in nature do you keep your awareness of and tap into?
[00:35:51] Jenny Fenig: Well, I look at where I am each season. Really honoring seasonal shifts and planning around that. I didn’t realize how important honestly nature was to me until I did. I grew up in the south, as I mentioned. When I lived in Florida, I lived near the beach, and that was really nice having that ocean near me—speaking of tides and oceans. And then once I lived in New York, you’re in a concrete jungle. We had Central Park. We had some trees there, but typically you had a tree carved out in a little plot on the sidewalk and cement. I did have the Hudson River, thank goodness. I lived on West End Avenue, which was overlooking the Hudson River. Oh, that brought me such a sense of calm.
But once I moved to the country 10 years ago. I left New York City. I now live in the country, Western Massachusetts. I felt like I could exhale. It was something I really needed but didn’t know that I needed it. New York was so wonderful for my career. I met my husband there. I had my first child there. I got pregnant with my second child when we lived there, but it didn’t provide me with enough nature. Now I have it. I look around these windows and the office that I’m speaking to you from and all I see are trees. That’s it. I see the trees. I live in a forest. I consider the trees my friends, which may sound funny but it’s true, and I take such cues from these trees. We have nature here, and we have four seasons here. Not every place has four seasons, but we have that here.
I’ve learned to really be seasonal in my approach. My energy in the summer is different than my energy in the fall is different than my energy in winter is different than my energy in spring. And I encourage you all to really tap into that for yourselves as well. How are you in summer versus winter? And what changes do you need to make or modifications do you need to make so that your body stays in a natural state? I enjoy being warm. Cold is hard for me so winter here is hard. It’s really, really challenging. And I learned to layer. I learned that clothing really matters. Wool matters. I wear lots of layers of wool pretty much since it gets cold until it’s not cold anymore, I have a layer of wool on my skin. And that makes a massive, massive difference. What I’m eating during wintertime, in particular, are warm foods because my body is cold. And my body gets anxious when I’m cold.
There’s something that I studied, which is pretty cool. It’s an ancient science and an ancient practice really. I went to India a few years ago, and I went through my yoga teacher training back in 2007. When I did that and I was reading all these books around yoga philosophy and really understanding the mind. The purpose of yoga is to achieve mastery over the mind. It’s not to contort yourself into these shapes, although the shapes help you achieve the mastery of the mind. So when I went through all that, I just had this pact I made with myself that I would go to India. I didn’t know when I would go to India or how that trip would come into being. It was like a seed. I planted the seed, and about 10 years later, the wish came true. The opportunity presented itself, and I walked through the door and I said I’m going to go on that trip.
I had the opportunity to study something called Ayurveda. There are ayurvedic doctors. This is a form of medicine, and it’s a very natural form of medicine with the usage of herbs, being intelligent about what you eat, and understanding your body constitution. In Ayurveda, there are three body types: vata, pitta, and kapha. You can just dig into this if anyone’s interested. You can look around and see what you find here. There are these assessments you can take. You can answer questions and get a better read on what your constitution is. We all are a mix of all three, but you’ll have one that’s dominant and one that’s a clear secondary.
For me, I’m vata pitta. Vata is very airy. We are predisposed to being cold. My husband’s pitta so he’s predisposed to being hot. So you can imagine that we battle over the thermostat. He wants it to be on the colder side and I’m making it warmer. If you know that your body is predisposed to certain things, then you need to be prepared.
If my body gets too cold and I’m not prepared through the foods that I’m eating, through being mindful of me waking up first thing, I shouldn’t drink an ice-cold glass of water ever first thing. It’s going to throw me out of alignment. I’m going to just head into a place I don’t need to be, which is anxiety which is just too cold. I start just getting too amped up, and I’m not grounded. I’m kind of floating, and not in a way that’s super peaceful blissful. I’m just too out there. And I need to come back to this place of groundedness. So for me, understanding this, me going to India, studying with an ayurvedic teacher, working with ayurvedic doctors there, and staying at this really amazing Ayurveda retreat center in a town called Gokarna, which is just out of this world. I’ll never forget it. It was one of those incredible experiences. I understand now what I need to do.
So when I wake up, my go-to ritual is I fill my kettle with water, turn on the stove, and then I pour myself two cups. One, warm water. It’s hot water when it goes into the cup. I wait so it cools off a little bit and I put lemon in there. And then I have my second cup and I fill that with my favorite jasmine green tea. And then of course with my lemon. One of my clients makes this really cool chai concoction. She’s just this herbalist and she gives me these batches of what she makes. So I stir a little bit of that in there and it just is this magical blend, and it gets me going on the right foot. My body starts really waking up. I’m moving. Things are really good, and I feel connected. I feel grounded because I haven’t gone to that ice-cold thing.
You all can study that. You can really look at how your body is designed. Our body wants to feel good. We want to feel healthy, but things are set up right now that you forget all that. And if you’re on your computer all day, your cortisol levels get jacked up. You’re looking at this screen, your eyes are getting fatigued, and you’re out of touch with nature because you’re just looking at these machines.
I’m grateful for all my technology, but I’m not living my life in technology because that’s not where I want to live my life. I want to live my life out there, and then I come to tech to connect with people. Like connecting with you today, Ashley, knowing this podcast is going to go out and serve people. I will connect on social media with my people, but I’m doing that from a place of wellness. I’m doing that from a place of understanding how I need to take care of myself every day with the moves I need to make with what I’m drinking, what I’m eating, and then how I move through nature.
You all can really look around and check on your own energy levels that each season you might decide that in the wintertime, in particular, you want to bring more fire into your life to warm you up. Maybe in the fall, you’re looking around—where I live, the leaves change colors. You might tap in at that point, what kind of transformation are you undergoing at that point? What are you shedding? What leaves are dropping for you?
And can you come into that place of faith knowing that winter is coming, but you’re strong enough to handle winter? Not just handle it, but really enjoy it. What do you need to do to prepare for each season? And then can you take a page from the playbook of trees, if you will, and say yeah, I know. And then my leaves are going to grow again. And then they’ll be green again. And then eventually they’ll fall again. The leaves will drop or they’ll change colors. I just think it’s so interesting. The whole thing is so interesting.
This pandemic has given me an opportunity, as I mentioned, I never thought I’d be a gardener ever. You have no idea. Before this interview, Ashley, I went to my local hardware store and made the first-ever purchase. Do you want to know what I bought?
[00:45:08] Ashley James: What’d you buy?
[00:45:09] Jenny Fenig: A chainsaw.
[00:45:13] Ashley James: Electric or gas?
[00:45:17] Jenny Fenig: I went with the gas. I have an electric lawnmower, weed whacker, leaf blower, but they explained to me that I really need the gas to do the work that needs to be done. I think it looks like we’re going to be cutting our own firewood. I never thought ever. But as I was building out this one particular place of my land with this garden, the tools that I had weren’t adequate enough to get through this particular—it’s like this vine thing. We have these vines on the property that kind of wrap around trees and hurt the trees. There’s this one spot, this has to go and my tools aren’t enough. They’re not adequate. Sure, I could go hire someone to do it, but it’s really cool.
You come into your power, I do anyway. When I say I can do that. I can do that. I felt a sense of pride. There are all guys helping me in that section of the store, but I’m like yep, first-ever chainsaw purchase. They were so excited for me, and I’m so excited for myself to come in and say we can do that. We can do that. When the temperature, when the weather is nice to be able to do this, I feel like such a responsibility to the land, and something I want to teach my kids how to take care of that. How to take care of things. How to really work with this land.
Even before the pandemic, we were homeschooling, and we’ll continue on that path. This is something I want us all to learn together, how do we do this? Once you know how to do a lot of these things, I know for me, I feel proud. I feel like, hey, I could get some help with this, and there’s nothing wrong with getting help. But gosh, what a wonderful feeling to know the things that you can do.
[00:47:05] Ashley James: Brilliant. Now one of your claims to fame is your ability to homeschool, manage your business, manage your household, and just be so busy juggling everything. Many people are overwhelmed right now. It’s a new experience for them homeschooling in the light of the COVID lockdown. Many parents have chosen not to send their kids back to school because of the restrictions and requirements. But instead of choosing to homeschool, many people work from home now like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. They’re keeping a lot of their staff at home. So it’s a new dynamic for many Americans, Canadians, and people around the world.
A new dynamic where many families are working from home and homeschooling at the same time. And they’re not used to juggling all these things, or they’re planning on it because it’s still the summertime. They’re planning on it. And even for those who are going back to school, many districts are only doing two days a week. So for public school, they’re still going to be home for three school days. And if parents are home with them, potentially working from home, then it’s just a whole new dynamic. Can you walk us through and teach us how we can be more effective at getting all this done? I think you talk about how you can get more done by doing less. What are some ways that you can really prepare the listeners who are stepping into a whole new routine, a whole new reality?
[00:49:04] Jenny Fenig: Yeah. I really like talking about this. Thank you. Well what we talked about obviously understanding the moon in particular and just what’s happening out in nature, that’s tremendously helpful. That just becomes your way of living. The more that you practice that, the more you’ll understand. You’ll understand, and it makes your life so much simpler. It really, really does. All right. So there’s that.
The other things that I practice are what I call time chunking and task batching. So you become so intelligent and efficient with your moves and your time. I’ve always been pretty strong with time. It was interesting. Even in those first New York City jobs I had, I was like 22. My managers must have seen my ability to do this because myself and this other colleague of mine, she was also about 22, 23, I’d say. We were tapped to lead a time management training for the entire organization. I looked back at that, we were young, but we had something going on.
I think some of that is probably connected to the deaths that I experienced at such a young age because I knew right away—time is not guaranteed. It’s not. It’s not. Every day is an absolute gift, so don’t squander it. Don’t squander it. This is going to require you to be super disciplined to have very strong boundaries to know how to say no, not now, or let’s look to do that in a different way. You really want to understand, if someone’s asking you to do something, what that looks like. Because I think too many people just give their time away, and it’s often because they’re afraid of being perceived as mean or rude if they say no, ask for things to be a bit different, can we do it next week, or whatever. I think some people really like that word busy. I actually don’t consider myself busy. I don’t use that word. I don’t believe that is something that we have to subscribe to. I think being busy makes a lot of people sick, really.
[00:51:18] Ashley James: Well, absolutely. If we’re just talking about the stress response, the idea of busy is creating the autonomic nervous system fight or flight. Being in the sympathetic nervous system response of fight or flight, which turns off the healing mode in the body. If the story you tell yourself is I’m busy, I’m busy, I’m busy, then you’re triggering fight or flight. And that is a very unhealthy state to be in chronically.
[00:51:47] Jenny Fenig: Chronically, absolutely. I think it’s so interesting, especially for people who are trying to figure out if they’re in a reinvention right now. Which I know many people are that COVID has given people the opportunity to go is this what I really want? When my regular life is stripped away, all the things that I typically did, is my work—is this good? Is this what I want? Is this framework for this working? What’s interesting is you can look back at your life and go wait, I’ve always been fascinated by this particular thing. What was that through line? What’s the through-line?
So for me, I was always stressed growing up. I remember feeling this immense pressure. In college, I took a stress management class. A whole semester, I took a stress management class because I wanted to understand. I mean, no one had taught me that in high school. There was no class that was like okay kids, let’s help you all be less stressed. It was like be stressed. Join the club, everyone’s stressed. No. So I took a class in college. I wanted to understand what stress really is and how to work with it. It’s the number one cause of death. I mean, it really is. It leads to so many issues. We don’t have to subscribe to it. It’s not just something that is a given because we’re human. We can reclaim being versus doing, and then when we do things, that those can be intelligent actions.
What you can look at is how you can organize your day, your week, again, working with the lunar cycle if you’re going to play with that, so that you’re getting the maximum results from your efforts. And that you don’t do it maybe in the way that you used to do it. So I had to really retrain myself when I left my last corporate job. Once I set out on my own and became an entrepreneur without even knowing that that was what I was going to do when I quit that last job, I applied for other jobs and nothing was exciting. I was like I don’t want to do any of these things. Oh no.
And then I just discovered coaching and just kept okay, I’m going to stay on this path. And then before I knew it, I had a business, and here we are all these years later. I had to train myself to do it differently. It was not required. There was no rule that said I had to sit at a desk Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM or beyond. There was no rule that said that, but at first, I thought I would be in trouble. I mean it sounds silly to say it, but I really was like who’s going to come? Who’s going to knock on my door to see that I’m not here. That I’m at a yoga class at 11:00 AM on a Wednesday.
You know what was so interesting, there were other people at the yoga class at 11:00 AM on a Wednesday. And I’m going, oh my gosh. It’s not just me. Well, okay. What do they do for work? And I just saw that I wanted to have a different kind of existence where I could know my natural creation times or my mind was really sharp when my body had a lot of energy. And I could provide a tremendous amount of value in terms of writing, speaking, working with clients, and strategizing. It didn’t need to be all day because my body really isn’t designed for that. My mind isn’t designed for that, and I have a family. I have three kids. I can’t do all the things I need to do with that old framework, with that old dynamic.
Listen, I know a lot of people are still in that space where that’s the rule, that’s the protocol. You are responsible for being on the computer or being at this physical location from this time to this time. I would simply challenge you or encourage you to be willing to shake things up a bit and look at how you can look at productivity and see. Okay, if I were to batch all my meetings on one particular day, batch my writing on my mornings on these days, or my client work on these days.
Now, this might be really provocative to some people and make you nervous to even consider doing this or having a conversation with someone who might be more senior to you that you need to get this through, but there’s plenty of organizations that have done this with extraordinary results. There are places especially abroad, I’ve seen studies where they just decided that people would work Monday through Thursday, not Monday through Friday. And productivity went up through the roof. Efficiency went through the roof because you weren’t just wasting your time going, well, I can’t leave before this time. So I might as well just shoot the breeze, you know what I’m saying?
This is about reclaiming our time and reclaiming that energy. This is how I homeschool. I’m very fortunate my husband and I both work from home. We have relatively flexible schedules. I get to decide when my client calls are, when these group calls are, when I’m going to do a podcast interview, and then when I’m focused on the children, and when I might be working with my daughter on something. My boys are at an age where we’ve been working with tutors in the last few years. Pre-COVID we’d have tutors coming into the home. Right now, we’re going to have a pause on that and we’re going to do online classes and tutors.
We’ll just schedule things in a way that everyone gets what they need, but even within their schooling, it’s not 9:00 AM to blah blah they’re in classes back to back to back. I don’t believe in that. We need space. We need space to creatively come up with ideas to go outside and work in the garden. To go on a hike, bring your art supplies, and create something that you see. To be bored. The best ideas come through boredom. We try so hard to avoid boredom like it’s this horrible thing. That we’re a bad parent if our kids are bored. That’s really going to come up with a great idea. We don’t need to over-schedule them to the point where they don’t even know how to think.
As you all are considering how you’re going to move forward, keep that all into account. Again, it goes against the systems that we thought were unbreakable, but they’ve all broken.
[00:58:18] Ashley James: No kidding.
[00:58:20] Jenny Fenig: They’ve all broken. And I say that with love but with all certainty because I know for many people, you’re still in this state of it’s hard and you might be grieving. I’ve been homeschooling for a few years now so I’m not freaked out. I’m sad that we are where we are. It’s horrible, it makes me mad, and all the things. I think we should feel our feelings. I feel for educators, I feel for schools, and I feel for administrators. I mean this is not fun, and there’s no playbook really.
The last time we had a global pandemic was more than 100 years ago, and the world looked very different at that point. So here we are, luckily we have more technology that can support us. But I would suggest—especially for those of you who are looking into homeschooling, how distance learning is going to look, or what you want to do—to be really mindful of what system you want to be a part of. Because whatever system you’re choosing, you’re choosing for your child as well. They are experiencing the energy of that system.
I’m very grateful for homeschooling because we get to design our own system, really. We have the blessing of our local school district. We submit end of year reports. We submit a plan at the beginning of the school year to say here’s where we’re going, and we have very supportive public school principals and superintendents who have our back every year because they know that we have our heart in the right place with what we’re doing, with what’s best for our kids, and the way that we see it. And they’re learning the things that they need to learn.
I actually just did a workshop on this a few days ago called charting your path as a homeschooler. I just want to make sure everyone knows too, distance learning is not homeschooling. It’s not. It’s not, okay. You are still in that system. If you like distance learning and it’s working well, then do it. But that’s not homeschooling. Homeschooling is when you unenroll your child from that school and you really set out on a different path. You have a lot more flexibility, a lot more freedom. Your kids aren’t going to be absent if you decide to go on a trip. And they’re not going to be logging in at a certain time. It’s a whole different deal. I’m very grateful for it. It’s not for everybody, but it’s for more people than people might think. I could talk about it all day.
I feel like where we are now as a society is one where, again, you have an opportunity to choose the system that you’re going to be operating in. And make sure that you can be healthy within the system. For me, Ashley, in that corporate existence—and this again was in the late ‘90s almost all the way through the 2000s. I quit that last corporate job in November 2007. I realized that system was making me sick, and I remember being so afraid to leave because well, I get health care. My husband and I got health insurance through my job because, at that point, he was freelance in his work.
We got health insurance through my job, but I remember that small still voice within was saying, but Jenny, you’re getting sick so you can keep your health insurance. And it was just this whole thing of this is backward. This is so twisted. So I had to get that courage up to quit my job. I went on COBRA for 18 months as long as we could, then we found private insurance. We were so blessed and grateful. My husband ended up getting a full-time position, and so we do have health insurance through his company now. The way his company is designed, he’s not getting sick by working there. I’m not getting sick doing the work I’m doing. My work keeps me healthy because my work keeps me honest.
[01:02:17] Ashley James: Beautiful. Do you have any other lessons, homework, or techniques that you’d like to teach those who are stepping into this new world?
[01:02:34] Jenny Fenig: Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh. I’ve loved having this conversation. It’s been really special. As much as you can, remember that you’re breathing. This is another thing that we take for granted and we forget. Breathing, it’s the first thing we do when we’re born. We take that breath, and ah, rejoice. And then the last thing we’re going to do as we exit the body is we will take that final breath. So it’s a profound process—breathing.
For many people, and I know for me too before I discovered conscious breathing. In the yogic realm, it’s called pranayama. Prana is that life force energy. All right, so prana. We have this life force energy moving through our body, moving through our veins, our blood. It just keeps everything just beautifully connected. Oh my goodness. We often move through life—if you’re unconscious of it—and you’re in that whole busy trap, you’re just eating fast food on the go, you’re constantly out of touch with nature and really with your truth, and you’ve said yes to lots of things that you’re like, ugh, I don’t even want to do this but I have to do it. You’re in the shoulds and the obligatory stuff. That we’ve come out of connection with our own breath, and then you’re often breathing shallow. So it’s just from that upper lung capacity. You’re just breathing to the heart and up, but the lungs and the body can hold so much more.
If you were to take some time and really sit with yourself, and we could do it right now. We could just breathe very deeply together, and you can count your breaths. You can count just the beats of the breath. We could play right now and simply come into this breathing exercise where we are mindfully inhaling, and just breathing as full as you can on the inhale. And then going as high up as you can in the body. Then as you exhale, slow methodical trusting that exhale. And then as you inhale the next time, feel that you’re pulling the inhale up from the core of the earth just bringing it all the way up the body, all the way up to the body, and can you come to the top of your head, the crown of your head. And as you exhale down from the crown of your head, putting that breath back into the earth.
You’re recycling the breath over and over again, remembering that the earth gives us so much. I mean so much. It gives us food, it gives us sustenance, it gives us air to breathe, oxygen. So bring yourself into that place of just conscious breathing, especially if you find yourself getting stressed or anxious. Can you come to that place of breathwork, and it’s breathwork like there’s actual work involved in the breath, instead of that just unconscious, I don’t even know. I’m shallow breathing. You’ll find yourself feeling a lot of pressure and a lot of tension, which let’s be real, even the most experienced those of us are with breathing, with exercise, or mindfulness techniques—coronavirus COVID will test us all. This is the work. This is really the thing that we’re meant to see how deep our practices are, and where we still have work to do, blind spots, or where we might be falling in certain holes.
Practice isn’t something that we’re here to become perfect at. It’s something that we just show up for every day. So whether it’s you when you go for your run, you get on your yoga mat, you just sit outside and look at nature, or you do this deep breathwork. They’re all the other things that you do. You play tennis, you’re into baseball, or you’re into all the wonderful things that we can do with our bodies. It’s knowing that we can come into this place of that quiet, and you can access that small still voice within, and just breathe. That’s it.
If it’s newer to you, there are apps you can get into. There’s that Insight Timer app. I use that for years. I have that on my phone. I’m a Peloton owner and user. I have the Peloton app on my phone. And often, if I’m preparing for—let’s say I’m going to lead a training for clients, I’m going to give a presentation, I will turn on meditation, even though I know how to meditate. I lead meditations, but it’s really nice for someone to tell me what to do. I like to be told what to do sometimes and to be guided through an experience.
So I’ll just open up the app, whatever app you want. There are so many that are available to you these days, and you can just pick one. If you have three minutes, it’ll be 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes and beyond, and you can tune in and receive. Just tune in and receive. Allow yourself to be in that moment. Don’t worry about what just happened or what you’ve got next. Just come into that place of, I’m taking five minutes. I am not going to feel guilty for taking these five minutes, and I’m going to breathe. That’s it.
And if it’s a guided meditation, you’ll listen to the words that are being spoken. You’ll listen to maybe the music or the sounds of nature that might be on that meditation track, and you’ll go where you go. You’ll go where you go. And you might find that you’ll get the answer to something that you’ve been struggling with. Some kind of feeling will come over your body. You’ll get what I call an intuitive hit, and you’ll realize, oh my goodness. That’s it. I’m going to go call that person later, I’m going to go sign up for that thing, or I’m going to go make that decision.
It comes to you in those moments of stillness, and then your job is to then respond. To do something with it. That’s something that I know that you all will get so much from just that conscious breath and that coming back to that thing that is so special. Talk to anybody who is having trouble breathing, or has some kind of illness where their breathing is affected. They will tell you how they wish it could be different. So when we have this gift, use it. Really use it. And take note of how it allows you to show up differently for the important people in your life. I think this is an opportunity for all of us to really honor the relationships that we have.
We are living in a very hard time. There are lots of challenges now, and I know that many people are experiencing hard things at home, in their work, or with people in their lives. Maybe you can’t see the important people in your life right now, which is heartbreaking. Totally, totally heartbreaking. But can you come into this place of stillness so that as you show up for the relationships, you can show up from a place of groundedness, kindness, and compassion? Even though you might see some craziness happening on social media. Anytime you go there it’s loaded. You’re like, okay. Am I ready for this?
So we’ve got to come back. We have to do our own work. And then if you have kids, can you teach them how to do this stuff? Can you model it? But the way you teach is to do it. It’s to be it. Can you show it to your partner? Can you embody this with the important people in your life? It’s such a simple tool, but so few people actually use it. And if you were to use it, it would change your life.
[01:11:06] Ashley James: Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your insights. Another website of yours is magicmakerscoach.com, and you have a Magic Maker’s Coach Certification. What’s that all about?
[01:11:27] Jenny Fenig: Yeah. I’m really passionate about serving women, coaches, therapists, wellness professionals, fitness professionals, and those who might have come from that corporate background like I am. Women who know that they’re here to guide their people to their greatest potential. They do that through transformative coaching and really working with a lot of the concepts that we talked about today. It’s listening skills, it’s understanding energy, it’s understanding how to work with the lunar cycle, understanding how to help your clients move through energetic blocks, and just old patterns that aren’t healthy or sustainable. Really look for old stories that they’ve outgrown and aren’t serving them and aren’t serving this beautiful life that they’ve been blessed with.
Once I became a coach all those years ago and then set out on my path to create this business and help people, I then realized there was a huge gap in the market for a coach certification that blended up how to honor the craft of coaching in this particular style of coaching. Which is very much about working with your intuition, your body, and energy, and then how to have a great business doing this? How to have an online business doing this? And that’s what our coach certification is dedicated to.
I feel so grateful that especially in these days, often women were in careers that were really important and valuable, but often they might get to a point where they have to choose. If they decided to become mothers or have families, that it became a real sense of tension and stress because that old system meant okay well you’re in this office, then your kids are over here, and then you’re dealing with who’s with them after school. If you really want to go far in your career, it can come at odds with the desire you might have to spend time with your family. Or you might be in a career that is so valuable, but for some silly reason, it’s not valuable from a financial compensation perspective. So that has also held women back.
We’re in a new era now. Online has very much put us on different terrain. Women have an opportunity to earn really well, and to do incredible things with these gifts and talents that they might have used again in that corporate space. What was so interesting, Ashley, I didn’t even know what coaching was really. I had sports coaches growing up, but once I discovered it after my yoga teacher training, it was like a huge light bulb went on. I said I’ve been doing this my whole life. I didn’t know this was a job. This is the part that I liked most about all my jobs. The other things I had to do I didn’t enjoy, but I just thought that’s how it was.
So once I discovered that coaching was this wonderful way to use these gifts and talents that I have, and so many women are naturally blessed with this. And then once they really are given the tools, the guidance, the training, and the community to really honor the craft and come forward with confidence as they work with their clients, and then understand how to create an incredible business. Mostly have it online, if that’s their desire. That’s the way I do it in my business. They don’t have to choose between motherhood and a lucrative career. It can be something that they can really integrate, and it can evolve with them. It can evolve with their family. It can evolve with the seasons as we talked about.
That’s why we’ve created Magic Makers Coach Certification. I’m really proud of the work that we do. And if this calls out to anyone tuning in, I’d love for you to check it out and submit an application if you feel called.
[01:15:29] Ashley James: Wonderful. In closing, I’d like you to give us some homework. I know you told us before to breathe, pay attention to the lunar cycles. What kind of homework can you give us? Perhaps homework that would help people to better tap into their life purpose, tap into why they’re here and feel purposeful. Some people are feeling a little untethered right now. So what kind of homework can help to empower us?
[01:16:02] Jenny Fenig: Yeah, oh my goodness. That’s such a great question. Really to come into that place of purpose. If possible, and it should be because we’re in summer. It’s warm, in most places. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, I know you’re in a different season, but play with me on this. Go walk outside barefoot.
[01:16:26] Ashley James: Yes.
[01:16:30] Jenny Fenig: So simple, but goodness, it gets you back into that place of, oh, this is how my feet feel on grass, on the sand, or even on concrete. Just the warmth from the sun that’s being pulled up. Or maybe if you can, go jump in some water. Get in a pool. Go to a lake. Go to an ocean. As much as you can connect and with nature—the natural elements: fire, water, air, and earth—the more you are going to feel good in your body. And it feels good to feel good. You are allowed to feel good. That right there could be this monumental breakthrough for some of you. Oh, I’m allowed to feel good more often than not, right? What would happen if you felt good more than you do right now? What would happen?
I also encourage you to get honest with yourself about what you’re putting in your body—when it comes to your thoughts, when it comes to what you’re looking at. Your digital diet. Do you need to unfollow some people on social media? Do you need to scroll less? Do you need to be more intentional about the information that you’re taking in? Again, not to go into a bubble. I believe in being informed. And I think now, more than ever, we need to keep our eyes open about what’s happening in the world, but be really mindful of what you’re subjecting yourself to. Just know maybe reading things is better than watching videos for you because you’re way too impacted by some of the scenes. I have subscriptions to certain publications that keep me informed.
Also, look at what your body is telling you about what is good for you and what’s not. Is there something that you are consuming right now that really is toxic for you? A few years ago, I received a strong message from that small still voice within, that it was time for me to let go of alcohol and not drink anymore. If you would have known me as a teenager, Ashley, or during my collegiate career, you would have not believed that I would one day not drink because that was just so part of my identity. That’s what I thought you did to have a good time.
My body made it very clear as I had been those years of practicing yoga, having my children, and I wanted a natural birth with them. I did that with two out of the three. My middle child was breech, and so I had a c-section with him. So I’ve had all these different experiences with my body. I’ve come to appreciate her in ways that I never did before. I look back and I know I was horrible to her for many years with how I treated her, what I said to her, and what I put inside of her. I don’t do that anymore. I’m not perfect, but each day, I commit to being more in tune with what she needs in terms of fuel sources. So we need this fuel to go all the places we’re meant to go in this life, help the people we’re meant to help, and be there for our family. Be here as long as we can in vitality with our people.
In my case, I realized that alcohol just didn’t have a role for me anymore. It couldn’t be a character in my movie any longer. I was ready to move into a new chapter, so I let it go. For other people, they can have it. But there are others who can’t eat gluten, they can’t have sugar, or they can’t have whatever. The certain people in your life, they’re just holding you back. This requires a lot of discipline, a tremendous amount of honesty, and some grief of oh my goodness, this thing that I’ve known for so long—or this person I’ve known for so long—we just can’t do this thing anymore.
I encourage you to have those honest conversations with yourself and just get curious about what might be on the other side. Just be curious. Sometimes you can make a decision, and it might be well let me just try this for a month or a lunar cycle. We play with that, or a season, and just see. Run experiments. Run more experiments. Be curious. When you find, you know what, my life is better. My body feels better without this or with this, then run with that until it doesn’t make sense anymore. And then you’ll redesign something from there.
[01:21:24] Ashley James: Alcohol, it’s an interesting thing. We go to alcohol, sugar. There are over-the-counter things like sugar and dairy. The very stereotypical woman sitting with a pint of ice cream crying or something like that. When COVID first came about—and I saw this in our grocery stores—were completely sold out of baking goods, materials for baking. All the baker’s yeast was gone. All the flour and the sugar. People just sat at home, baked, and ate their feelings. I get it. I only stock healthy food in the house, but I definitely caught myself eating my feelings in the first few months of this crazy year. Alcohol is something that I cut out of my life really young.
I was a bartender when I was 19 because, in Canada, the drinking age could be 18 or 19, depending on what province. As a bartender, I was great as a bartender. I’m such an extrovert. I love people, and I love talking to people. It was fun. I didn’t think I’m serving people poison. At 19, I’m having fun. After a season of babysitting drunk people, it just turned me off so much. I just stopped drinking. I just didn’t like it. I don’t like feeling out of control. It didn’t give me any pleasure, but I watched my parents growing up. My mom would come home and take the vodka out of the freezer and have a shot just to calm her nerves. And then a few hours later, my dad would come home and they’d split a bottle of wine. They’d sit together at the dinner table, and they’d drink their wine.
Sometimes, on special occasions, they’d put a little wine in a glass and fill it with water. They thought it was fun, they’re sharing it with me. It became their way of de-stressing, just grounding or unwinding from the day. In looking at physiology, we know that the moment you drink even one serving of alcohol, your body goes into a state of stress for 24 hours. You can actually measure your heart rate variability, which is the most accurate indicator of stress. And that your heart rate variability becomes very poor for 24 hours after drinking even just one serving of alcohol.
If it’s doing that to us, then it is affecting the depth of sleep, the depth of being able to regenerate your body through sleep. And then the next day, psychologically, it changes the brain chemistry so we’re more narcissistic. We’re less able to be empathetic. We actually have a harder time with emotional quotient or emotional intelligence being able to delay gratification. So we become people who need more instant gratification. This is all from one glass of wine.
[01:24:42] Jenny Fenig: One glass, yeah.
[01:24:43] Ashley James: Because now we are less likely to delay gratification, we would tend to then have another one. And we would tend to have another the next night, and the next night. It becomes a habit, and then we live a story. The story is I need this to unwind, or I deserve this to just have a break. This is going to make me feel good. Well, I can say that about sugar. I can say that about ice cream, right? We can say that about a lot of things that are over the counter, right? This is going to make me feel good.
Now you can say that about street drugs too, but most people who are listening are not currently choosing street drugs to relax at the end of a stressful day. But most people who are even very health-conscious do find that they have their—I don’t want to call them vices, but they have—self-medication. We have to look at it, not from a point of guilt and shame because that then just perpetuates the vicious cycle, but to break out of the vicious cycle and go, what? So what are my deeper needs? If I’m trying to fulfill a need with alcohol, with sugar, with flour, or with dairy, if there’s something that is ultimately not healthy for me, but I’m using it to kind of band-aid a need, what’s that deeper need and how can I serve it in a healthier way? How can I get to the root cause?
I used to work with a woman who was into personal growth and development and yet she couldn’t quit smoking until she finally realized why she couldn’t quit smoking. When she ever did quit smoking for periods of time, she would never take a break. She would work at her desk. She owned her own business, and she’d work out her desk from morning until night, never once getting up to stretch. Just never eating. Just really never taking care of herself. And then she would go downhill very quickly. But smoking, she caught herself and realized that it made her get off her desk, go to the balcony, take between 5 and 15 minutes and just relax, and breathe. Even though it’s breathing in a cigarette it’s still breathing
[01:27:05] Jenny Fenig: Breathing in nicotine, yeah.
[01:27:07] Ashley James: And then she would maybe grab a drink and grab a bite. And then she’d go back to the desk, and she was just as effective at her work because there comes a point when you push yourself so hard that you don’t have efficiency, as you talked about. But she used cigarettes as a way of mandating breaks. In order to successfully quit—and she did eventually—she implemented mandatory breaks without cigarettes. So she’d go outside and just breathe air without the cigarettes. She’d go for a walk, or she’d just do something else to stand up, stretch, walk around, get a glass of water, and take mandatory breaks. And then the deeper need that was being met by the cigarettes as a Band-Aid was no longer there.
I just think that if we can choose to, like you said, do a lunar cycle with no alcohol in the house, with no alcohol in your life. And instead, ask yourself what’s this deeper need? If what you really need is something to relax and de-stress, knowing that alcohol temporarily makes you kind of feel out of it and disconnected, we think it’s relaxing us, but it’s actually stressing our body more for 24 hours. And if we can get outside, like you said, and do grounding or earthing—and I have some great—I was about to say great documentaries.
I do have a great documentary actually on that linked in the Learn True Health Facebook group under announcements. There’s an amazing documentary that we have uploaded into our Facebook group that we got permission to upload. But I have a few episodes on earthing and grounding. The importance of it, and that there are 26 studies that prove that by getting out in nature and putting your feet on the ground, or using a grounding mat if you live in a condo and you have no access to grass. By releasing those excess electrons, it decreases stress in the body, and it decreases inflammation in the body. Even people with MS and other autoimmune disorders that are triggered by inflammation see great success.
I love your very powerful and doable advice of breathing, of tuning into yourself, and of walking as much as you can out in nature—barefoot so that you can earth and ground. And then try cutting out alcohol, or try taking what’s in your diet that that little voice that you talked about, that wise but quiet voice inside you that knows that it really is time to stop drinking the coffee and switch to green tea. Switch to nut-based milk instead of cow milk because it’s affecting your immune system. Or give up the alcohol for some kombucha. Or some herbal tea.
[01:30:06] Jenny Fenig: Oh my gosh, I love kombucha.
[01:30:07] Ashley James: Right, so good. It’s so good
[01:30:09] Jenny Fenig: Oh, yeah. I have one on my desk right now. Jalapeño-kiwi-cucumber blend.
[01:30:14] Ashley James: Oh my gosh.
[01:30:14] Jenny Fenig: I just recently discovered that one. It’s that Health-Ade kombucha brand and they have a jalapeño-kiwi-cucumber. Those of you who might experiment with no alcohol or you love kombucha, I highly recommend that variety.
[01:30:27] Ashley James: Yeah, switch to kombucha.
[01:30:30] Jenny Fenig: That jalapeño has that little kick. You still want the kick in your life, that’s the thing. You thought alcohol gave you the kick, but you can get kicks in other ways.
[01:30:37] Ashley James: Absolutely. I go to the farmer’s market and there’s a local company. They fill up my big glass bottle with it. They have the most delicious strawberry one. They also have a pineapple one, and a ginger one. I love it. My husband’s addicted to the cayenne.
[01:30:56] Jenny Fenig: Cayenne pepper? Cayenne cleanse?
[01:30:58] Ashley James: Yeah. I think it’s the cayenne and ginger or something. There are so many out there. There are just fun things to swap out. But at the root of it, I want us to just ask ourselves, is this serving me? Is this really serving me on a deeper level? Or is this masking something? Is this really fulfilling a need? Or is this just masking some symptoms? If you had a headache and you just take Advil, you’re not really serving yourself in the long run because that headache is your body trying to say something.
[01:31:35] Jenny Fenig: Exactly.
[01:31:36] Ashley James: I think your life is going to express in different ways to show you that there’s some deep healing you can do, but you have to stop masking things. I don’t think we can truly do deep healing if we’re drinking alcohol every day.
[01:31:50] Jenny Fenig: Totally. That’s the thing is we’ve been fed a narrative that we aren’t strong enough to feel things. So the way through that is through drugs, through some kind of numbing technique, or some kind of numbing substance. Alcohol numbs you. I experimented with plenty of drugs growing up. I numbed out from feeling things, from feeling stuff that felt very, very hard to feel.
The same thing when I went through childbirth, and I did so much study. I actually want to feel it. It’s okay, every woman can decide what’s right for her, but I wanted to feel the contractions. I wanted to feel the birth happening. I trusted my body. I didn’t need to numb out on that. You reclaim your power when you know that you can feel things. There are people who can help you feel things. I’ve worked with plenty of healers, therapists, and all the things. But gosh, there is liberation on the other side of feeling that stuff and knowing that it won’t kill you. It’s just going to make you stronger. You’re going to be reminded about who you are, and it will prepare you for all the other journeys you’re going to take in your life.
[01:33:12] Ashley James: Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. It has been such a pleasure to have this conversation with you, Jenny. I look forward to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re all seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but I look forward to implementing everything that we learned here today and possibly having you back on the show to see how things are progressing and have you come to share more with us.
[01:33:41] Jenny Fenig: That would be lovely. Thank you so much. It’s been a really, really powerful conversation. I send so much love and courage to everyone. We’re really creating the future today. We’re living it, and we’re living in a really fascinating time. I know it’s hard, but I also keep reminding myself when I say it to others, what a fascinating time to be alive. We could have chosen different times, you know what I mean? And we’re here now. Okay. Let’s show up, and let’s just do our best. Let’s keep choosing health. Let’s keep choosing the healthy path as best we can.
[01:34:24] Ashley James: An ancient Chinese proverb, “May you live in interesting times.” And that can be taken many ways. I love that. Let’s just keep choosing health and keep choosing the healthy path no matter what. Thank you so much, Jenny. It’s been a pleasure having you on the show.
[01:34:40] Jenny Fenig: Thank you.
[01:34:42] Ashley James: I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Jenny Fenig. Please check out IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition by going to learntruehealth.com/coach. That’s learnturehealth.com/coach, sign up for a free module, and see if it’s right for you. See if taking the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s health coach training program is the path that you want to take either for your own personal growth to help yourself, your family, or your friends, or adding tools to your tool belt, or having a career. This is the career that you can do from home. Now is the time to invest in our own education and experience. Now is the time to dive into personal growth.
I don’t want to say we could turn these lemons into lemonade, but sugar-free lemonade. We can take the hand we’ve been dealt right now, and we can turn it around and figure out how we can gain the most benefit. If you have to be at home right now, then find ways of enriching your life, enriching your experiences. Things like doing online school. It’s a fantastic way to spend your time to grow and to learn. If your kids are doing school from home, why not you as well?
So check out IIN. And you know what, I’ve heard a lot of parents have shared the IIN course with their whole family. My husband watched some of the videos and some of the training modules with me and really enjoyed it. I know that older kids often love learning from it as well. It’s something that you can share with your children and maybe make it part of your homeschooling. So go to iin.com, check it out, and give them a call. Make sure you mention Ashley James and Learn True Health podcast for the listener discount.
Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing these episodes. Come join the Learn True Health Facebook group, and have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.
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