Author Archives: allan
Author Archives: allan
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Adaptogens and nootropics are becoming much more popular as the flaws in Western medicine become more and more apparent. David Winston has spent over 50 years studying herbal medicine. Today we discuss his book, Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.
Allan: 01:02 David, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
David: 01:05 Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.
Allan: 01:07 You know, more and more, in the last 10 years. It just seems like it's a, it's kind of a building thing, which I think is really good, there's more discussion about some of the natural healing properties of plants and herbs. Looking back at some of the Eastern medicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda from India, and actually adopting some of those now as treatments and protocols and not going with the chemicals. So your book Adaptogens really kind of gets into the history of this and to what they are and how we can use them. It's fascinating to me how much as out there and we're just still just kinda scratching the surface.
David: 01:56 Well, that's true. You know, it's interesting. This year is the 50th year since I started studying herbal medicine. And I joke a bit, but I'm not entirely joking when I tell people after 50 years, I now consider myself to be an advanced beginner. There is endless amount to learn whether we are talking about traditional Chinese medicine aryuveda, the middle Eastern Teb Al Nabawi, Kampo from Japan, et cetera, Tibet Medicine, American eclectic medicine, physio medicalism, all these traditions are rich in the use of plants for medicine. So these traditions in some cases go back at least 3000 years. Plus you then combine that with the vast amount of plant, medicinal plant research that is occurring throughout the world.
Very little unfortunately in the United States, but extensive amounts in China, India, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, France, Germany. So all around the world there is a tremendous amount of plant research and in many cases, this plant research, this modern plant research is confirming, although sometimes going well beyond the understanding that people have had for thousands of years of how these substances can help us to live healthier, better lives.
And one of the things that's really important to understand, a lot of people have this idea that it's sort of an either or situation. It's either Orthodox Western medicine or it's complimentary alternative medicine, herbal medicine, natural medicine. And honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. Where Orthodox medicine is strong tends to be where things like herbal medicine aren't that effective and vice versa. Where herbal medicine is really strong, tends to be in areas, especially dealing with things like chronic degenerative disease where Orthodox medicine often has little to offer.
So when it comes to the individual, the patient, the client, the real win-win is understanding which is appropriate in a given situation. Herbs are not the answer to everything. Adaptogens are not the answer to everything, but then nor does Orthodox medicine have the answer to everything. So understanding which therapy, which treatments are most effective, most appropriate for a given situation, for a given person is essential.
Allan: 04:36 Now an adaptogen is not just a chemical compound they're pulling out of a plant to, to make a new medicine with its, it's actually using the whole plant. Right? Can, you can talk about adaptogens, what they are and what they do?
David: 04:50 Absolutely. And this is going to get slightly complex. Um, but I will do my absolute best to keep it as simple as possible. So initially, you know, in all these ancient systems of medicine, there are tonic herbs. So in Ayurveda they're called Rasanayas, in TCM, in traditional Chinese medicine, they're known as Chi Tonics or kidney youn tonics or blood tonics. But these traditional definitions of a tonic remedy do not necessarily equate to what we today call an adaptogen.
An adaptogen is a modern scientific concept developed initially in the Soviet Union. The initial research was done by Professor Lazaroff starting in the late 1940s. If you think, wow, they must've been very, you know, forward-thinking to do this kind of research. The reality was this was initially military research and the Russians were, the Soviets were trying to do what cruise chefs said, and that was to bury the West. They were trying to find ways to make better soldiers, better cosmonauts workers so that they could outdo us and literally win the cold war.
Basically what happens is the research eventually goes from the initially started looking at chemical substances and with Dr. Breckman who is considered the father of adaptogenic research. He switches over to looking at plants and they eventually settle on a plant called, at the time in the United States, we learned about it known as a Siberian ginseng, but the proper name for it is Eleutherococcus senticosus and that's where the initial research starts. And what they did is they first promoted a definition of an adaptogen using a very simplistic three parameters.
Number one, the plant was nontoxic in a normal therapeutic dose. Alright, so that's, that's fine. The problem with that is that describes almost every herb in the material Medica. I mean they ask, there are some toxic herbs, but most herbs are relatively benign in a normal therapeutic dose.
Secondly, they decided that these herbs would create what was called a nonspecific state of resistance to stress. So that means they help you to resist stress, whether that stress is psychological, physiological, or environmental. But the problem there is that other categories of herbs including nervines, which we think of as nerve tonics, things that are common also help you to deal with stress more effectively. So that doesn't really mean that is absolutely an adaptogen.
And thirdly that they would have what is called an amphoteric effect on the body, helping to normalize function of multiple systems, especially the endocrine system, nervous system, immune system as well as the cardiovascular and digestive systems. So that was the initial definition. And that last started, I think that was, that definition came out around 1969 so after that and the intervening where now 50 years later, the definition has changed.
Now those first three parameters are all still true, but they have added to the definition. So in the 1990s they determined that adaptogens work primarily through two master control systems in the body. One is called the HPA axis, that's the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis. This is the master control system of almost all endocrine function, much nervous system function, immune function and what also what deals with chronic stress in our lives. And then the second system is called the SAS, the Sympathoadrenal System. And this is your fight or flight mechanism, which deals acute stress. So in order for an adaptogen to be an adaptogen, there has to be evidence that it is primarily working through one or both of these two master control systems. Further research showed us that adaptogens also work on a cellular level.
So what does this mean? It means that they do several things.
Number one, they help reduce stress hormone production. So that's especially cortisol, norepinephrine, and they help prevent cortisol induced mitochondrial dysfunction. So for instance, some of the conditions associated with stress induced mitochondrial dysfunction include things like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome, which is one of the reasons adaptogens can be so useful as part of a protocol for treating those conditions because underlying those conditions is basically elevated levels of stress hormones, specifically cortisol, which shuts down the mitochondria, which are the engines of yourselves. So if your mitochondria are not working, you are going to have all sorts of problems with fatigue, with muscle weakness, with muscle pain, uh, with cardiovascular issues and et cetera, et cetera.
And they do this, not only do they shut down the excessive production of cortisol, but they do it by up-regulating certain stress modulators in the body. These are noticing heat shock proteins, fork head proteins and something known as neuropeptide Y.
So in order for an herb to be an adaptogen, it has to do every single one of these things. Of course the ancients had no idea about any of these things. So when they are talking about a Rasanayas or a Chi tonic, you know, those things, some of them actually turn out to be adaptogens, but of course, many of them do not because they don't meet the parameters of today what we know is an adaptogen.
Allan: 11:02 Okay. So kind of my key takeaways from this is that that one, adaptogens don't just address one part of the body. Like I think in the book you talked about how tumeric actually supports the liver, a single organ versus actually supporting the whole body through the, you know, HPA and through the SAS Yes. Right. And then the other piece of it is it doesn't just push us in one direction. It's sort of a balancing, getting us more towards homeostasis than pushing us in one direction just because we're stressed trying to push us unstressed. It's literally just kind of trying to find that balance.
David: 11:42 Correct. Now I will say that turmeric by the way of course is not in adaptogens. The turmeric, it just doesn't work on the liver. A tumor has much broader implications. In fact, the majority of herbs have a wider sphere than just working on a single organ. But adaptogens you could, yes, I think your, your definition, think of them as almost systemic remedies, but they're primary effects are on endocrine nervous system and immune function. That is where, because that's of course what the HPA axis and the SAS, those are the things that they are affecting. Now of course the reality is is that the SAS also and the HPA axis also affect skin function. They also affect circulation. They also affect reproductive function, both male and female. So again, very wide ranging effects.
And at the same time you'd mentioned homeostasis. Adaptogens work in a really interesting way. So think of it this way. We, we, anybody who has had anatomy and physiology learned about homeostasis, where the body tries to maintain its normal balance. So some things are maintained in very, very tight, like your serum sodium levels, your blood serum, serum levels of sodium have to be maintained with a very, very narrow range. And so the body will work exceedingly hard to make sure that it stays there. And the idea of homeostasis is everything's tries to stay the same. Well, in reality, there is a second process known as allostasis that the body uses to maintain homeostasis and adaptogens also enhanced allostasis.
What is allostasis? So any of your listeners who have ever gone surfing, and you don't even have to be a surfer, you could go skiing, you could go ice skating, skateboarding, anything where you need really good balance. So if you got up on a surfboard and you stand absolutely still, as those waves are moving you in every direction, you're gonna stay on that board for about a second. In order to stay on the board, you start moving and shifting your body weight to compensate for changes. That is allostasis. Allostasis is the body's ability to change in order to maintain balance and adaptogens help in that process.
Allan: 14:16 Okay. So most of the book we're talking about stress, so we're talking about our body is going through, it'll can go through acute stress, which just basically means, you know, I see a bear and Oh, I've got run, versus chronic stress where my CFO is the bear and he's on me every single day. And so that stress just sticks with me and my fight or flight is basically every waking moment. Adaptogens can kind of help us with that. Right. So can you kind of talk through the stress reaction process and then how adaptogens can support us as we deal with chronic stress.
David: 14:53 They're working on multiple levels and that's where it gets a bit complicated because, just to give you an example: I mentioned earlier that among these sort of molecular chaperones or stress chaperones that adaptogens affect, we have what are called heat shock proteins. These are molecular chaperones. And so these molecular chaperones heat shock proteins protect, mitochondria from stress induced damage. Then they also regulate a chemical called FOXO. It's a fork head protein and basically FOXO basically is a neuro. FOXO is upregulated and it promotes the synthesis of proteins that inhibit the effects of stress. It helps detoxify cells. It also has been shown to enhance longevity. I also mentioned it basically up-regulates in neuropeptide Y, which is a neurotransmitter which has been shown to relieve anxiety.
It's been shown to inhibit pain perception. It lowers blood pressure, it inhibits addiction, it inhibits cortisol release. So those are just some of the compounds that it is affecting and having a broad ranging effect on the body. So when we are under stress, there is a whole cascade of cellular and organ response in the body. And adaptogens are saying to the body, think of adaptogens as sort of like a stress vaccine. Some people call it a stress memetic. In fact, what adaptogens do is they say to your body, stress is coming. So let's get ready for stress. In that sense, it's a little bit like going to the gym. So many of your listeners probably work out, maybe some of them are runners. You did the first time you ran, you didn't run a marathon, at least not if you were smart the first time you start running a short distance and then the next day you run again and again, or you go to the gym and you start off with a low amount of weights and a small amount of repetitions and you gradually work your way up to where your muscles become stronger. We are more stamina, more strength and the ability to do more
Adaptogens work very similar to this. They basically say to your body, stress is coming yet ready. And so the body builds up so that it is more prepared to deal with stress when the actual stress comes, whether that is an acute stress or a chronic stress. The one difference between adaptogens and say going to gym is that if you go to the gym and you don't go to the gym for two weeks, you may lose a little bit of strength and stamina, but you still have a significant long-term effect adaptogens to be taken regularly because the effect doesn't have a long term effect. So these are things you would take on a regular basis. And of course, which adaptogens and individual takes are going to depend on the specifics of that person because it's important to note that adaptogens are not a one size fits all phenomenon.
A lot of people think, Oh, you need an adaptogens, just take any one. Well, that's not true. There are stimulating adaptogens. There are calming adaptogens. There are heating adaptogens, cooling adaptogens, drawing adaptogens, moistening, adaptogens, nourishing adaptogens. And so the key is, and that's more of course, one of the reasons I wrote my book, is that I wanted people to understand what I would call the personality of each of these adaptogenic herbs so that you can figure out which one or ones, because remember, traditionally in all of the great systems of verbal medicine, herbs are never taken as simple as meaning one herb at a time. They're taking in complex formulas.
Why? Because we are dealing with complex people with complex problems. And so the idea is which adaptogens or adaptogens and the sort of supportive herbs or companion herbs for adaptogens such as nervines Nootropics, we'll talk about this more later, or restorative tonics that you take with them to help create something that is actually going to be beneficial and work for the individual. Great herbalists don't treat diseases. We treat people.
Allan: 19:17 Let's go ahead and jump ahead then and let's have that conversation about the nervines and the supporting components and, and, and the Nootropics. Let's get into those. Just a little bit so they know what we're talking about.
David: 19:29 Okay. So we just, we've defined what an adaptogen is and we'll talk more about them. But there are other, and I include this in my book, there are other herbs that I would call companion herbs to adaptogens. They work really well with adaptogens.
And so the three categories of these, and the first is nervines are nerve vines in England and these are calming herbs. I mentioned that briefly before and they basically helped restore the emotional foundation. So for people who are especially type A personality, for people who are emotionally labile, for people who have number ten reactions to number one problems. Nervines can be really useful along with perhaps calming adaptogens. For a person like that.
Then we have water known as no a tropics. Now I have to define this because nootropics, some people call them smart drugs.There are three different categories.
There are the chemical smart drugs, which are often designer drugs created in the laboratory with no history of previous use and no record of safety. Uh, I am very leery about these substances.
Then there are the supplement, nootropics and these include things like L-carnitine and things like that which have a very good safety.
And then there are our herbal Nootropics and there are a wide variety of herbal nootropics. These herbs tend to be neuro-protective. They are anti-inflammatory on neuro anti-inflammatories. They enhance cerebral circulation, they enhance memory, focus, concentration. And there is some evidence that at least some of them may help at least slow, if not possibly help prevent something like dementia or Alzheimer's. But that is a very, very preliminary.
Then we have what I would call restorative tonics. And these are basically herbs that are nutritive. They help to enhance overall function, but they do not meet the definition of an adaptogen. So now I'll mention a couple specifically.
We have herbs like the goji berry. Very, very popular herb. And the Chinese herb astragalus. Herbs like this are wonderful nutritive herbs, but they are not adaptogens, even though a lot of people tend to throw them in that category, unfortunately, they just don't meet those definitions.
Allan: 21:58 Okay. If I came to you as a client and generally, okay, you're just a general description, over 40 and high chronic stress and you were going to kind of put together a general protocol, what are some of the things that would be included in that protocol?
David: 19:17 Well, unfortunately, that's not enough of a definition, a description that I could come up with something because I need to know everything about you.
You know, as is somebody who is a patient of mine. I need to know not only their age and their weight and their blood pressure. I need to know their medical history. I need to know, I need to know everything I can about them, you know, and they would bring in their blood work from their physician and their diagnosis is that they have from their doctor. And you put together a protocol that is specific to the patient.
Because remember as I said, great herbalists don't treat diseases. Medical men, Western medicine focuses in on disease. We don't focus in on disease. We focus on creating protocols to help people be well, to help people prevent disease. To help people to gain maximal health, strength, longevity, et cetera. So, but what I would look at is, for instance, if you were somebody who was deficient and depleted, I might include some stimulating adaptogens and stimulating adaptogens would include things like, perhaps, Asian Ginseng or Rhodiola.
On the other hand, if you were really depleted, deficient, exhausted all the time, then I want to make sure I include some of the nourishing adaptogens. So there may be something like American Ginseng. If you were a type A personality, you know, you can't shut your mind off, then we might consider some of your calming adaptogens such as Ashwagandha or Schisandra. And so there are different ones that we would use.
And by the way, not every single person gets an adaptogen. And I don't want people to think that adaptogens are panaceas. Adaptogens are incredibly useful. Don't get me wrong, I do use them a lot, but I'm using a broad spectrum of herbs. Adaptogens are just one part of that. And I need your listeners to understand. Adaptogens are not a replacement for the foundations of health.
Foundations of health are adequate, good quality sleep, a good diet, exercise, healthy lifestyle choices. So if you are eating fast food three meals a day, only getting six hours sleep, running yourself ragged, training for a marathon, working in incredibly stressful job, and smoking, I don't care how many adaptogens you take, it is not going to make up for the fact that you are abusing yourself. And in fact at best it's going to simply allow you to abuse yourself a little bit longer until you finally collapse.
It's kind of the whipping the exhausted horse. You can make it go a little further, but it's going to collapse. So adaptogens are not a replacement for the foundations of health, but for the average American who is overfed under-exercised, not getting enough sleep, especially when it's a situation where, for instance, you're actually trying to take care of yourself, but maybe there's a new baby in the house.
You're not getting enough sleep. Or maybe you just graduated from a law school, passed your boards and you just hired on to a new law firm and they're expecting you to work 70 hour weeks. Or maybe you are in college and you're having to pull all-nighters and study, which I do not recommend as it reduces comprehension dramatically.
But you know, adaptogens under those circumstances where you mentioned the example earlier where your boss is on your case all the time and it's incredibly stressful and maybe you don't have the option to change. Maybe you're in a situation where you live in a small town where there's only one employer and you don't have a lot of options. Adaptogens can be incredibly useful. Again, helping to prevent stress-induced cortisol elevation, helping to reduce the stress-induced anxiety, helping to reduce the stress-induced elevation of blood pressure and the resultant of course, mitochondrial dysfunction that comes with elevated cortisol levels.
And I will point out that elevation of cortisol can come from lack of sleep, obesity or stress And chronically elevated cortisol levels not only basically shut down the mitochondria in the cells. Chronic elevation of cortisol is proinflammatory and of course all of our chronic degenerative disease is inflammatory in nature. It raises blood pressure, it interferes with sleep, it interferes with digestion, it decreases the immune response, and increases the growth of tissue including skin tags, benign prostatic hyperplasia in men, fibroids, uterine fibroids in women cancer, chronically elevated cortisol is really not good. And so anything we can do to help our body to reset and be at a, you know, a healthier baseline on a regular basis is going to a long term have profound positive implications for our health.
Allan: 27:31 So I guess the way I kind of take this, as you know, you can't just say, okay, I need ashwagandha. I need a Chinese Ginseng or Asian Ginseng root. I need American ginseng root and everybody needs that. The reality is you're going to have to kind of put together a protocol for yourself based on your own personal needs.
David: 27:51 That's actually true. You know, they're there. First of all, as I said, not everybody needs adaptogens, period. But if you do feel you need adaptogens, and again, that's one of the reasons I wrote the book is so that each herb has its own monographs. You can read about it and say, wow, does this make sense for me? And I often mentioned like, I often use it with this or that so that people can kind of get a sense if they don't have access to a clinical herbalist or a naturopathic physician who's trained in botanical medicine or a medical doctor who knows herbs. If they don't have access to someone like that. They can at least educate themselves so they can decide which of these things may, would be most appropriate for them. And again, not everybody needs them, but I would say that, you know, discounting cultures where they're either people are actively starving, suppressed or at war, Americans are some of the most stressed out people in the world.
Allan: 28:51 Absolutely. That's why I moved to Panama.
I define wellness as being the healthiest fittest and happiest you can be. What are the three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
David: 29:07 Well, three, let's go back to the foundations of health that I just mentioned. In 1910, the average American slept slightly over nine hours per night. Now, the average American sleeps less than seven hours per night. In the intervening 100 plus years, we have not evolved to need less sleep. We're just chronically sleep deprived.
So number one, make sure that you get minimum seven hours sleep at night. Eight is definitely better. If you're sleeping more than nine hours a night, that suggests some issues. So somewhere between seven and nine hours is probably ideal. But the key important thing is when you wake up in the morning, do you feel refreshed? Do you feel rested? Because even if you're getting 12 hours sleep at night and you wake up in the morning and you feel tired, you're exhausted, then you have some type of sleep issue. And so it is absolutely essential that you figure out what that is.
Because, no matter what you have, if you have sleep issues, your chances of having a heart attack increase. If you have sleep issues, your chances of dying from cancer increase. If you have sleep issues, your blood pressure's going to increase. It gives sleep issues, your cortisol levels are going to increase. So sleep is foundational.
Number two, move and move a lot. We sit too much. We are not active. And of course some people are not as capable as you know, heavy exercise. I'm not talking about you have to run marathons, do what you can, whether it is swim, whether it is dance, whether it is practice yoga, move
Number three (I'm going to go beyond three). Eat a healthy diet and I'm astonished at what people think is a healthy diet. I have my patients fill out a three-day diet diary and I'll just sit there and scratch my head sometimes. Because people tell me, I think I eat pretty well. And so of course, food is foundational.
You know, they say as computers, garbage in, garbage out. Well, the diet is the same way. Garbage in, garbage out. You are dependent on your food for what Chinese medicines called the Gushi, the Gransha, the nutrients of that food to feed every cell in your body. And so eat healthy.
I am not a big fan of fad diets. I think that you need to figure out what works for you. And some people can be very healthy vegetarians and I've met people who just can't do that diet. So it's not like there's one diet that is good for everybody. You have to figure out what works for you. But what I can tell you very clearly is fast food, for instance, fried foods, a heavy, heavy meat diet, things like that are generally not good for almost anybody.
Then number four, emotional health. Emotional and spiritual health are, in my opinion, again, foundational. Having loved ones, whether it is anything from a companion animal to friends, to a life partner, to community, social networks. these are incredibly important. And I am a big believer in the power of a higher power, of having some type of spirituality in your life. I am not necessarily talking about a specific religion, but having something that you realize that you are a small part of something greater than ourselves. So having a meaningful ceremony, whether you think of it as the Gaia, the power of nature, God, or Allah, that to me is not as important. Of course for individuals I'm sure it is very important. Their spiritual and religious beliefs and that's great, but find something that works for you and works within your life.
And so for me, those sorts of things are absolutely foundational to health. And then we have other things that can add to that. And some of them, like nutritional supplements can be useful. Although I am much more interested in using herbs because I think they are more, much more bioavailable. And in a form that people can actually utilize more effectively. Those kinds of things. Stress reduction techniques are sort of built based on that foundation.
Allan: 33:49 Well thank you David. You know, one thing I'll say about the book is if anything and everything that you want to know about adaptogens, this is the book, that's called Adaptogens, but it literally you, you covered the history, you cover what they are, how they work. You know, all the different types. Cause there's, there's lots of them. You said there was 250,000 plant species that we've identified and we're just starting to learn how those can help us. But this book really, I think you could have called it the encyclopedia of adaptogens or the complete book with androgens. It really is comprehensive. And so if you're interested in adaptogens, I strongly suggest you check out David's book.
David, if someone want to get in touch with you, learn more about the book or things you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?
David: 34:33 Well, couple things. Number one, if anybody is interested in the book, they can get it. You know, simply from Amazon, if they like or their local bookstore. It's widely available. You can also contact me or reach me through to websites. There is my school, I have a two year urge studies program for people who want to train to be clinical herbalists and that is herbalstudies.net and then I also have a website which is an educational website where people can download free articles, information articles from my library, which is one of the largest private herbal research libraries in North America. Information on my classes where I'll be teaching around the world. I teach all over the US, Canada, Europe, occasionally central America, and that a website is herbaltherapeutics.net and those are the two are places that people can get additional information or contact.
I also have through, I believe it's herbal therapeutics website. I have a Facebook page where I do posts about every two weeks so people can tune into those posts and read the old posts every on thing. I'm mostly on the topic of herbal medicine and my travels and things like that. And so hopefully people will avail themselves. The book, Adaptogens, herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. This is the second edition and I think anybody interested in the topic will hopefully learn quite a bit and be able to make better choices for themselves in their use of adaptogens, nervines, nootropics, and restorative tonics.
Allan: 36:27 All right, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/403 and I'll have the links there for the book for David's sites and all that.
David, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
David: 36:39 Thank you Alan. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
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Rajshree Patel is a mind and meditation expert and an international self-awareness coach, trainer, and speaker. Over the last 30 years, she has taught hundreds of thousands of people in more than 35 countries the power of meditation, mindfulness, breath work, and other ancient tools for assessing the innate sources of energy, creativity, and fulfillment within. Today we discuss her book, The Power of Vital Force.
Allan: 02:06 Rajshree, welcome to 40 plus fitness.
Rajshree: 02:09 Thank you Allan. Happy to be here with you.
Allan: 02:11 You know, I was traveling back from the United States. I'd gone back to do a few things, work on my education is a personal trainer and then tried to get my house a little bit further shaped up so someone will actually buy it from me. And so it's been go, go, go, go, go. And then I had to drive cause I was trying to save a little bit of money on fly spirit, drive from Pensacola down to Fort Lauderdale. It's nine and a half hour drive. I do that drive and then I get on an airplane. I fly overnight, I arrive into Panama city at 1:30 in the morning, get to my hotel, go to sleep, wake up early. Cause you know, it's just normal wake up time. Uh, go ahead and do what work I can get to the airport, fly over to Bocas. And I got here last night and was just like, I just, I'm just drained, you know, all the, all of this is on me and I think we use that word a lot. Drains, you know?
Rajshree: 03:06 Yes, we do.
Allan: 03:07 And I think, you know, and when you, when you really kind of start putting that together and you say, well, okay, why is my back starting to hurt? Why is my posture suffering? Why do I, and why is my head kind of hurting? And it's that draining and so it is really, you know, we, we use that in the Western vernacular of, of force of energy, but we don't really break that down to think of it in terms of all the other aspects of our health and wellness.
Rajshree: 03:35 No, no, I don't think we do. To your point, I mean I was going through a similar thing at some point before I got exposed to what we're going to talk about it a little bit, this idea of a force or energy. I was a lawyer in LA doing all this stuff that anybody has to do. Going to court, managing my files, you know, family, friends. I had just moved from New York to LA, so I was isolated doing my own thing on my own and trying to find a place to sort of fit in, connect, so emotionally there were things going on. It was a lot of stress going on mentally in terms of a brand new job. It was actually my first job as an attorney and a new city and so on. I was somehow getting through things. I knew I was tired. Obviously I was waking up in the morning not bouncing out of bed and dragging myself and kind of wishing no, what the heck happened? How did this night go by so fast and to your point, I hadn't really connected the dots. When I say I'm drained or I'm wiped out or I'm exhausted, I was really talking about not being charged or fueled enough and your basic food or gym.
If I happen to have done it that day or that week just wasn't getting me through the day until by chance. In 1989 I discovered this whole notion of vital force and how really we have too fuel all the levels, you know, of our life in order to do what we have to and then some of the things we want to do.
Allan: 05:10 Yeah. You know, as I was kind of looking at myself and trying to, you know, kind of build a better me because I knew I kind of, same thing, I went the public accounting route and then into internal audit and worked my way up C suite and all of that. And when they finally let me go, uh, it was kinda like this gush of pressure of everything. It's like, Oh, and when I took some time kind of sit back, that's when it has kind of really dawned on me that I had never really gotten completely there because I had not really ever paid enough attention to the things that were going to bring me what I needed. So like I defined fitness as being the healthiest fittest, happiest person you can be. And, and even though I was doing things in my life, that brought me some happiness and some joy, I really wasn't getting all the way there all the time. And it was too many things pulling me, pulling me back into the abyss. Now in the book you talk about the three main pathways to happiness. Could you take a few minutes to talk about those? Cause I think this is, this is critical if we're really going to get to wellness that we address this, this first, you know, happiness. I actually did them in reverse order. I should uh, dealt with the happiness first and then started with the, the fitness and the health cause I think it would've been a lot easier.
Rajshree: 06:29 Oh sure. I mean, so I think everybody knows, you know, what it means to be happy at whatever level. But we never really break it down. There's this sense of happiness that we get. Just a quick thing, a momentary thing like you show up to play or watch soccer and you enjoy it. You want something, you get it and you enjoy it and you're happy about it. But the moment it's over, it's over. And that has its own impact in terms of how it wipes us out. Because if it's just that level, what I find is I need more and more of it, you know? Uh, I entertain myself with one thing and then the next weekend I want a little bit more. So yeah.
Allan: 07:08 I get depressed when football season ends.
Rajshree: 07:11 Yeah. Because it's, it's over like you need the next thing. And even in football you notice you want like the next game, the match has to be a certain way. And who the, who's really, you know, with each other, which player against what player, what coach with what team. So we want a little more of it. But then there's this other layer of happiness where you don't just watch, it's not momentary. A metaphor would be you actually go and play soccer so you engage, you participate. And that brings another level of joy or happiness. It stays with us longer. It has comradery too. More meaning, more engagement, you know, a sense of, Oh wow, I did something cause we kind of tapped into some part of ourself that we hadn't really expected. Perhaps we played well or something.
Allan: 08:01 To me, I actually do that now through tailgating. I, you know, obviously the college football team's not going to let me on the field. So I go to a tailgate beforehand and hang out with my friends and have conversations and all that. So that's, that's where that engagement comes in for me.
Rajshree: 08:16 Exactly. And it stays with you in a very different way because even when you go home, you're talking about the game and what you saw. But somehow that, that sense of belonging in this in a way is part of the whole picture. And then beyond that is this notion of coaching the game of soccer. You know, really getting involved in another level yet that's even more meaningful, more lasting. Where you contribute to somebody else's life as much as you contribute to your own joy. And I think that joy, that kind of happiness gives us, in my opinion, the resilience to get through a difficult time. It kind of boosts us from the inside out. It gives us a lot of energy and then we deal with the ups or the downs that are coming, you know, in the day.
Allan: 09:08 And I think that's why I so much more enjoy being a personal trainer and a coach then I did being an internal auditor. Yeah. I mean I'd go off for my weekend, you know, and I would, I would go to a college football game and I would engage with my friends. So I had the pleasure of being at the game. I had the pleasure of just the all of game time experience and then the time with my friends. And then yeah, there's the Facebook message group where we're all gonna be either really happy about the game or be really upset about the game or either side and everybody's arguing. And even that I like just kind of sitting back and watching all that, but then I, I kind of go to work and it's audit, you know?
Rajshree: 09:46 Yeah, yeah, exactly. But you know, there's another level to all this, which most people don't really connect the dots to. And that is like when we feel our best, when we feel like we have the most amount of life energy and doesn't matter what's going on outside, we feel really charged up. Like you come back from vacation, you know everything's still the same. You come home and all the things you have to do are still there. But somehow your outlook Monday is much more optimistic, much more positive, and you're ready to jump into the day knowing that it's going to be a lot of work cause you're out for a week or 10 days. And that kind of happiness, it's what I would call more innate. And it's directly, what I've discovered is related to how rested your mind is how much energy you really have. And I don't mean the caloric energy, you know, the food and, and the sort of your daily maybe green juice that somebody might do or coffee or sugar. I'm really talking about this thing called vital force, which you're sort of born with. Like if you look at kids, you know, they're not playing soccer, they're not watching and they're not hanging out. But there's a lot of joy and strength and stamina. And that's really what we're talking about when I say vital force.
Allan: 11:08 Yes. Now you got into a part in the book and as I went through it, I think I had to read it twice to kind of really walk myself down the line of, you know, the past, the present and the future. And how so many of us kind of get stuck in this loop and it prevents us from really kind of experiencing the joy the way that we could because of the things in the past that you know and, and the things we think are going to be in the future. And you kind of talk through that line because it, it's not a straight line. Like you would think like we had our past, is over. We have our presences now and then the future is there. But we don't live that way.
Rajshree: 11:51 No, no we don't. Um, so obviously depending on the event and how intense it was, you know, somewhere we store it in our system, our brain, our body, our mind, ourselves. Hold on. Two pleasant or unpleasant events and situations, you know, and we clearly know that if I bring up an unpleasant thing, depending on to what degree you've let go of it, you can have a reaction in this moment. And if we look when we're holding on to things, it brings with it a certain spectrum of emotions and we don't really realize it. But impatience, agitation, frustration, anger, regret, guilt, blame these emotions which are clearly not serving us, they're negative. That's what takes away our happiness are related to something that's already happened. It's done and gone. And if I asked someone, can you be angry about something that hasn't yet happened? Our general tendency is to say yes, of course.
But really if we examine it's not possible. If it's about something that hasn't happened, we're going to be afraid. We're going to be worried, we're going to be anxious, we're going to have doubts, insecurity. That's about something that may or may not happen. And I often like to use this, um, analogy of a, a computer. See a lot of times we're working on a file and in the background we have a lot of files open because we worked on something a week ago, 10 days ago, a month ago, and we kind of forget about it. But those files are still open in the background. They're doing something to our hard drive, our brain in the computer, the hard drive and what it's doing is everything from slowing it down, creating glitches, draining energy, taking the life away from the file, the moment that's in front of us. And a lot of times, you know, Allan, if you go to search something on a computer, you anticipate based on history, the computer anticipates based on your prior search and opens more options.
And I think that's really what's going on in our life. Our mind, our brain or body is filled with stuff that happened yesterday, year ago, 10 years ago in the moment we come in front of something. This moment, it anticipates all of that. We start hitting on those emotions and we're not conscious of it. And similarly the future, you know? I love to think that we have a future, but honestly we're so hardwired, we're kind of conditioned by the time we're 10 years old with through osmosis taken all kinds of things on with our friends and family and parents and school system that our future's really, us being anxious about, Oh my God, I hope what happened yesterday, last week or in my last job, it doesn't happen again. So it's really an anticipation of the past. Everybody talks about, Oh, live in the present moment and all of that. But we've never really broken it down to what it's doing when we are in the past or when we are caught in the future.
Allan: 15:09 Yeah, I, I was, as I was reading that, I was, I was kinda thinking back to like the last three years when I was, when I was doing the internal audit stuff and kind of the first year we came across like a downturn in the market and we got into November and the talks about layoffs started happening and then in December there was the layoff. And so I was like, okay. And it was, and that's horrible. If you've ever experienced that, I can tell you it's just as hard from the manager's perspective as it is from the employee's perspective because you're having these conversations that don't necessarily deserve to leave.
And then what happens is I got into football season and as we got closer and closer to November, which means, you know, September, October, when we're at prime of our football season, I just started getting this, this anxiety. As soon as football game was over and I'm driving back home, back to go to work on Monday, you know, my head's already into this funk. And so I didn't have that energy in that balance to go back to work. I had this dread and then you know, we got into November and these conversations started again. And then in December there was a layoff. And I can tell you kind the final year I was there, that dread started in July. And you know, I can't tell you how many wonderful things I did during that period of time that I couldn't be fully present for because of the anxiety I had for what my November and December were probably going to look like. There were no conversations about head count at that point in time. Everything was positive at the company. You know, we're going to do this, we're going to grow that. We're going to, you know, we've done this. All, all that was there. All those conversations were positive at work. I just had this looming dread that something bad was going to happen in November and I couldn't enjoy myself. Now what I had a dread for actually did happen. Um, so, you know, I'm not, you know, but, but there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. It was completely outside my control. And rather than kind of be rational about it and say, I can't stop this from happening, this is not my call, not my thing. All I can do is, but I missed for the better part of two years. I miss a lot of joy because I just kept letting that cycle play out in my, in my mind.
Rajshree: 17:41 To add to a little bit of what you're saying, it's true. You had no control over it. You know, you lost two years at whatever with all the other beautiful things that may have been going on in front of your life. I also believe if we have so much attention on something, we invite it at some level, you know, if we really have a lot of attention on something being positive and uplifting and it's going to be great, then somehow I feel like the universe smiles back at us and we invite at least the positive vibe of the moment. And if we're really anxious and were concerned, Oh my God, this is going to happen, this is going to happen, this is going to happen. Just our vibe sometimes invites that. And so we lose on on multiple levels. We're just not aware of it. Um, the time now, the two years that you mentioned and who knows, perhaps if the outlook could have been different, maybe a different kind of result could have happened. We just don't know because life is so much more than just what we see, touch and feel and, and I think it's important to see that we can't change our future and we can't change our paths.
But nobody really not at home or in school has ever taught us how to get the heck out of there and say, okay, what's in front of me and how do I reboot myself to look at this moment fresh and new.
Allan: 19:04 Yeah. And I think that's, that's where I struggled with it as I just, I kind of just put that all on my shoulders and carried it. Yeah. And it just got heavier and heavier and heavier until it was lifted off my shoulders by the layoff. And then I was like, okay, now I have a wide open future. And I can just figure out how to make this the best I can make it.
Rajshree: 19:27 Sorry, I was just going to say I'm in, I'm in the middle of a, uh, sort of a big personal challenge at the moment. Yes. This book is coming out, but going through a lot of family things and I see that my mind wants to lock into that, you know, and not the joy of whatever's going to happen as a result of this book. And I have to consciously bring myself back. I need to take a short pause to say that's there and your worst imagination doesn't mean that's what's going to happen. Let's see what you can do about it now and get busy and get active in trying to address it. So it is a matter of being conscious and inviting a pause into my life to say, what can I do about it rather than how does it help me to sit here and worry.
Allan: 20:16 Yeah. In the book you put together an actual exercise where someone can go through and methodically put together these things and walk through the positive, negative, the emotion, the past future, the now can you kind of just briefly talk about how that exercise works?
Rajshree: 20:34 Yeah, absolutely. And I really invite people to sort of take inventory. Um, I do it for myself, you know, every three months or so. What I'm asking myself to do is to say, okay, what's keeping me up at night? What is the thing that lifts for me in my head? And I, you know, just make a list of it. And I always invite myself to make a list of 10 things that are going on. So like before I woke up, I saw my mind was running on, Oh yeah, I have to connect with Allan and how's he going to go and where's it going to go? And it's just a recognition that's not something that's happening now. It's about the future. I'm concerned about my mom's health. So that would go on the list, you know. My niece going away to college and the struggles that she's having as she's leaving home for the first time. So I make a list about 10 things that are either keeping me awake or I find myself talking about or thinking about, you know, or continuously somehow coming back to, and the moment I do that, first of all I've put light on it. It's not going on unconsciously in the background. Like those open files and then the exercise, ask the reader to look and see is it generating a positive emotion, feeling or experience or a negative feeling or experience. So I'm planning my vacation and that's positive. And at the same time somebody could have in the background, yes it's great, but Oh my God, so much work is going to pile up, or how am I actually gonna end up paying for this because things are more expensive than I had hoped for.
So just asking the reader to put a plus sign or a negative sign next to it to realize how much of our mind our time, our brain is caught up in positive or negative. And then to kind of label it, you know, there's a lot of talk on emotional intelligence, but we don't really know how to get cognizant of it. And if you'll look, um, not just positive or negative, but to say, wow, this is something that's already happened. It's about the past. And, and putting that down next to it or this isn't going on now. It may never happen. It's really about the future. It's a year away, 10 years away or I don't even know if it's going to happen. Okay. It's about the future and just making a list, taking an inventory about what is it positive or negative. And then if you add it up to see out of 10, is 50% of your life for time positive or 50% negative or is it more 60, 70, 80%.
And the unfortunate thing is we as human beings are hard wired towards a negative bias. Meaning if someone gives us 10 compliments and one insult, we really remember the insult more, it kind of sticks to us more. It's just how we are hardwired. So similarly, if we look at that list, I find that most people, we'll discover that 80%, eight out of 10 things are not working for them. It's not positive and they weren't cognizant of it. And the moment they notice it, they see it's a, a sort of a rude wake up call, you know, to do something about it and make a shift.
Allan: 23:55 Yeah. I um, you know, I was kind of looking at things right now that just weren't positive in my life that I had some control over. Uh, you know what, I had control over what I didn't and, and I just started saying, you know, I've got it all this negative on my Facebook feed for all this political stuff, you know, and so I said, you know, they have this pause feature on Facebook. What if I just pause this person for the 30 days? What will that do? And I did that for, you know, probably about, I'd say about six or seven people on my feed and my feet got nicer. It got more positive. I started seeing, you know, positive affirmations. I started seeing joy in people's lives. I started seeing birthdays and all these things that were good. And so I kinda got a little addicted to pausing people, sorry, friends.
But all you're gonna do is talk about politics and how terrible life is on earth. Uh, I need to take a break from you. And I did that as a kind of an experiment about a month ago. And my feet just kind of really got nice and I enjoyed the interaction with the people, enjoyed seeing positive things in their lives. You know, grandchildren and births and marriages. And there was some sad, you know, a friend of mine lost his wife and things like that. But all in all, I saw a real life and, and not that. So I, you know, I think you're right with those 10 things, I realized one of my 10 things was this, this negative Facebook feed and you know, rather than just walking away with it from it because that's, you know, next to impossible. I just, well what if I just tried this tweak to it and it kind of gave me an opportunity to be more in the now with my friends and what's actually going on in their lives.
Rajshree: 25:43 Brought a lot of positivity to the other people who are in the feed. Right? It's not just you by that simple act of putting a pause for a few people, you uplifted and up-leveled you, your energy, your vibe, what's happening for you and enjoying that. But at the same time it brought more of that for other people and, and it kind of becomes a conversation we spoke about earlier in terms of happiness. You know, it's, it's going to the football game and having the barbecue outside first and engaging with it and then driving home and going home and saying, okay let's guys stop over and get a beer here and see what happens. So you in a sense became contagious. The happiness became contagious. And so I love that. You know, why not spread something more positive and why not become more conscious about how do I want this to look for me in my life?
Allan: 26:35 Absolutely. Now I've always been a big fan. Well once I, once I figured it out, a big fan of breath and breath work you the meditation cause that's what a lot of us in the Western world as we start kind of getting into this whole, how do we deal with stress? How do we take care of ourselves? It kind of always comes back to, well you know, meditation and that starts with breathwork for most of us. As I got deeper into the thought about breath, it kind of has the two things. One, one that you've kind of bring up in the book, but the other is the energy processes. In our bodies require oxygen. So if we're not bringing in the breath, if we're just, you know, because when we're stressed, there's little short little breaths and we're not really giving our body the energy, the force that it needs to be successful. But it does also give us this opportunity to be right here right now.
Rajshree: 27:24 And both are valuable, right? They're actually synonymous. If you have a lot of energy, that's what allows you to be right here and right now. And the more you are in the right here, in the right now, the more energy you have. So it's a virtuous cycle. And to your point, when we're under stress, if we are caught in the fear, worry or anxiety or the anger or the regret, we notice that our breath gets shorter and shorter. The more stressed we are, the more we kind of hold onto our stomach muscles in a way we hold onto our breath and we naturally tell people, come on man, just breathe. Okay? Just breathe. You know, because we notice that physiologically the innate response to stress is to sort of shut everything down. What we call fear or freeze or flight, you know, and just that tiny awareness, Oh my God, I'm getting stressed.
Let me make my breath longer. Does exactly what you said. Both those things. I notice if I elongate my breath, I calm down, but then I feel refreshed again. If nothing else, you're dumping out the CO2 that's just sitting in the lungs, which makes you tired. You know, in a closed room, you go to a doctor's office or you're, you're sitting on that flight. This happens to me all the time. As soon as they close that door, there's not enough fresh air in the flight. I start to get drowsy, groggy, and I crash until they actually open up the vent and allow fresh air to come in. I don't know if people know that they kind of don't let enough air in until they reach a cruising altitude. You know, everything is is just the bare minimums. So fresh air has a lot to do with our perception our outlook. It kind of gives us a fresh way to look at things. So more energy, more present, more present, more energy.
Allan: 29:22 Yeah. I still tell you they don't, they don't have enough fresh air on that airplane.
Rajshree: 29:25 No they don't.
Allan: 29:26 I don't want to touch anything. I don't want to breathe, I breathe really shallow on a plane. Cause I just, I just know I'm going to get sick. I'm just like, I gotta be positive about it. But yeah. So, you know, I guess this was a disconnect I always had because did you get into the concept of breathing, meditation and mindfulness? That, in my head it's always been one thing. But in the book you kind of say, no, isn't it? Meditation and mindfulness are not actually the same thing.
Rajshree: 30:02 No. At least not the way we understand mindfulness today in the Western world. You know, it's, it's more of a noun rather than a state of mind. Mindfulness is become a name and the way we practice it here is really using more mental stuff, more monitoring, more, you know, labeling more attention to what's happening in the mind. And well, it's just really hard to do. If we could do it, we wouldn't need mindfulness in the first place. And unfortunately, or fortunately, of course there's a lot of value to it, but 60 years ago when it first came into the West, people went, you know, to the far East and went into monasteries, spent some amount of time there and they took a single thread of an entire system, which was to label and to monitor physical activity and what's going on in our head. And that had its value in that it gave us the ability to have more, what I call frontal cortex, meaning greater rational, logical decision making aspect to us.
And it was really necessary in those days because times were different. But today we're so hardwired with our computers in our cell phones, they're kind of like an extension of us, we are always on. So our thinking brain is always on, it's always processing. And so meditation, the way I'm using it is really letting all of that mental brain stuff to settle down, to get quiet, to shut it off somehow or another. And you'll see when I say we're always on, you see the sleeping industry is growing like crazy, meaning the pills and the pharmaceutical world. Because what was once natural isn't happening anymore. We're not sleeping. I know so many, many people, every course I do, students show up and if I ask how many of you feel like you go to sleep and wake up more tired in the morning, 60% of the room will raise their hand.
How many of you people feel like you had eight hours in bed but you're not sure it was I thinking all night or sleeping? 70/80% of the room will raise their hand feeling like, yeah, I just feel like I'm processing or thinking all night. And that means we're keeping that thinking brain on. And so what we really need to do now is to click off, not just close the file we're working on in front of us in this moment, but close the tabs in the back. So we conserve energy so that we give a rest to the whole computer. You know, the hard drive. And so mindfulness is good for something specific, but meditation is a conscious pause, a willingness to let the mind drift, not hold on, not be aware, not lock it into something, allowing it to drift, let it be as it is.
And that unwinding actually gives us deeper layers of rest. When we go to sleep, we kind of connect better with people in front of us cause where are we listening in instead of our own stuff that's going on in our head that's constantly on, you know, it gives us more energy of course, and so on and makes us happier.
Allan: 33:27 Yeah. I, you know, that was one of the challenges that I've, I had when I was, you know, kind of in my hyper stress state of how do I, how do I actually get my brain to stop this stuff? You know, I'm drinking out of a fire hose every day. How do I shut it off, you know? And that made sleep very, very difficult. And so I worked on things that, it started with breath work. It started with taking just short pauses during the day, uh, where I would sit down in a quiet office and say, okay, you know, and I had the Headspace app on and I'm kind of going through this process of, of getting mindful or at least, you know, being aware that all these thoughts were actually out there all at the same time.
And then I was jumping from one to the others before I even got to play out. One idea, one thought, one fear, one anxiety. I was onto the next one. So they were, they were just constantly looping in my head and I had never really figured out how to get somewhere else other than in those stress loops.
Rajshree: 34:28 But, but what if we didn't even have to figure out or even notice those thoughts? What if we had an on off switch to all this thinking, you know, that's really what I'm kind of talking about. Let's go past that. Having to be aware because the truth is, look, if you see parents tell their kids at a dinner table or while they're studying focus, you know, be here, be present. Come on, stop thinking about all those other things in focus. If that kid turns around and says, okay, mom, okay dad, how?
They really wouldn't have an answer to that question. If you ask adults to sit still for a few minutes, it's not easy. If you ask them to close their eyes, they're like, no, I can't do that. Right? Eight out of 10 adults will say to me, I don't know if I can sit that long. I don't if I can sit still, I don't know if I can close my eyes and so what I say is, okay, don't worry about it. Use the breath like an exercise. You don't have to close your eyes. You don't have to find, you know all the paraphernalia of sit well in, in a proper place, in a quiet place or anything. I just say three times a day create a pause. Any way you have to breathe. I'm just asking you to breathe consciously as an exercise, not as something that you focus or have to pay attention to.
And so first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up, I tell people just lay in bed, doesn't matter or sit up and lean against your headboard and do 10 long breaths in and out. You're just consciously breathing. I don't care if your mind is focused or not focused thinking or not thinking. And you know, looping from one thought to another, just 10 long breath thing, it'll do exactly what you said earlier. Number one, it brings in more oxygen. We've been, you know, laying still, we haven't been active. Our lung and our breathing capacity has reduced. So number one, it brings in more oxygen. For number two are out-breath is an off switch to thinking. And a lot of times we wake up in the morning processing stuff that we were entering into sleep with. So 10 long breath, first thing. Second thing is I always say before lunch, if nothing else, you've ordered your food.
Maybe you're sitting down in your office cafeteria just before you eat or as you're walking to the cafeteria, nobody knows you're doing it. You don't need to close your eyes, do 10 long breath in and out because you're breathing. Number one energizes. It's going to bring in more oxygen, but number two on the out-breath, you're going to empty something from your head. You're going to lower the number of thoughts that are going on in your head and that's going to change how you digest food, how fit and well you feel around what eat. It's important that we absorb, we assimilate, we digest with a calm state of mind because we're not just our body. We are what we eat and yes, we eat carbohydrates and protein and all of that, but if we're sitting there stressed out, you're kind of chewing that stuff back in and in an old traditions, you know, there was a time when we sat quietly to eat, not just because, Oh, it was some ritual, but it did a lot.
And today we know about gut health, we know about biome, we know that friendly bacterias thrive when we're not under stress and when we're under stress there's too much acid. So we don't thrive. So again, if not every meal, at least before lunch, 10 breaths, then go ahead and eat. And the most necessary if you do it nowhere else is before bed because how you enter sleep is really gonna determine the quality of sleep. I just know that I could be so wired with so many things when I get into bed, say, okay, a day in a life is over. I did the best I could and then I start to take long breath in and out. By the time I get to my fourth or fifth breath, I'm asleep, I'm out. And what I'm doing is shutting off the would of could of should of, you know, the yada yada files that go on.
And if we enter sleep like that, our emotional brain, our unconscious or subconscious is going to be processing that. That is a computer that's getting drained and then we wake up feeling like somehow I just feel like I got up on the wrong side of the bed or I'm not so rested and I wish I had more time. So just these three pauses, nobody needs to know you're doing it. It doesn't matter if you've got your eyes closed or not. Honestly, if the listeners out there, you know, if they just do it, they'll say, wow, okay, this is something I'll not let go of anyway. I have to breathe. I'm going to do it consciously three times a day.
Allan: 39:40 If they listen to last week's episode, when I had Amy Serin on and I and Dr. Serin, We actually talked about this specific thing with the parasympathic nerve, that nervous system and the, and the stress switch and, and everything there. And so you're, you're, you're, you're talking right up my, I'll have, you know, we've got to turn this thing off. We've got to get our brain to think, okay, we're safe. We don't have no fight or flight to go on right now. We can go to sleep and actually get good rest.
Rajshree: 40:08 Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and I don't think that, I mean when unfortunately we've never taught that. Like your breathing is connected between these two, right? The sympathetic stress response, as we say, fear, freeze or flight, which was meant for emergencies in life and it's connected to the parasympathetic meaning the rest, the calm, the happy, the loving state, the easy-going state. Internally body can be dynamic. But internally calm, I mean if you see any, you know, professional, any athlete, their mind has to be calm but their body is in high gear, high-performance mode and your breathing is connected in such a way that if you elongate your breath, if you make it longer, you move from, Oh my God, Oh my God to I'm going to do it. Your mind naturally shifts in attitude and so anybody can do it.
The kid or the adult, you know, as busy as we might be, you do it while you're moving in a board meeting. I often tell people, because by the time you leave an hour of a board meeting or any meeting for that matter, you just kind of sat there, wiring yourself up with, Oh my God, one more meeting. Why is this happening? Why do we need to listen to this? Oh, it's the same old stuff. All that's happening is we're getting wound up and then you gotta go sit at your desk and do all that work. And so I just say to them, just sit in the board meeting any, anyway, listening isn't gonna get taken away because you're breathing. So do both of those activities. Let the listening be there, but breathe a little bit long in and out. And you'll walk out of that meeting and say, okay, well that's that. Let me get back to what I have to do.
Allan: 41:56 Absolutely. I wish I'd had that advice three years ago. Um, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Rajshree: 42:13 So for me, uh, again, I say, you know, no matter what breath is your number one tactic to stay well physically, your body needs the oxygen mentally, it brings your mind in there, present in the here and now. To some degree it lowers thoughts depending on how well and how long you breathe. Number two, I always invite people and I do it every day when I go to bed, I really tell myself, you know, sometimes out loud, even my hand sort of lands on my chest and I say, this day is over.
It's like a life over. However it's been, tomorrow I invite new possibilities. I really consciously let the day go even if it's in words and a concept only. That's the second thing that I will always do. And the third thing is I invite people to say, no matter what, you're the driver behind your life. You got to take five minutes a day, morning or evening too, just quiet down and reflect. To be grateful to recognize that everything that we think isn't as bad as we think that you know, the universe is behind me. Just five minutes, maybe as you enter your, your bed, maybe as you get up in the morning after the 10 breaths, just to say, I'm going to make it a great day. It's a type of meditation. It's self-connection self-awareness saying I matter because I'm the driver of my life, I have to take a break. Five minutes.
Allan: 43:52 Rashree great. Thank you for those. If someone wanted to connect with you, learn more about the book, where would you like for me to send them?
Rajshree: 44:00 So certainly for the book they could just go to Amazon. The Power of Vital Force. Actually, I don't know how to make this available to your readers, but if they just go to my website, Rajshreepatel.com and put down that you came from your show. There is an online course with a lot of tools and tips available to people. It's 11 sessions. The last session is a live webinar. That could be a big bonus gift in terms of the book and how to use it. So the Power of Vital Force on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles or rajshreepatel.com.
Allan: 44:40 Great. Uh, well I'll definitely have links so let's stay in connection at that. Thank you so much for that gift. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/402 and, and I'll make sure to have those links in the show notes. So Rajshree, thank you so much for being a part of 40 plus fitness.
Rajshree: 44:59 Thank you so much for having me. Happy to share my morning with you. Absolutely.
I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Rajshree. If you'd like to continue this conversation or talk about anything else, health and fitness related, I'd like to invite you to join us at our Facebook group. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/group. It's a really supportive group of people, not overly, you know, bombastic a have too many posts and whatnot, but just a nice group of people to hang out with, ask questions, have some support, have some accountability. I really enjoy interacting there. It's the best way for you to get in touch with me and interact with me. I'm on there every day talking to folks, so that's the best place to go. If you want to be a part of my community, go to 40plusfitness podcast.com/group.
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Our guest today is a world-renowned neuropsychologist and stress expert. She's literally written the book on how to turn off your stress.
Allan: 01:50 Dr Serin, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Serin: 01:54 Thank you so much for having me. Allan.
Allan: 01:56 You know there was a quote in the book and sometimes I get stuck on numbers. I'm an accountant by trade before I got into fitness. So I get stuck on numbers. So you're hearing me talk about numbers and lists all the time, but every once in awhile I run into a quote and I'm like, okay, I need that quote in my life. This was, this was exactly what I needed to hear today. And this was one that was in the book.
“When you resolve trauma, reduce stress and heal, what lies beneath the layers of soot of suffering is pure beauty. When a person on covers this love and kindness towards the self and towards others is the only thing left.”
Dr. Serin: 02:37 Yup. That's the truth.
Allan: 02:39 You know, and it's funny because I sit back and I've said it many, many times, I wrote it in my own book is, you know, our journey to health, our journey to wellness, it has to include self-love. It has to start with self-love. And I think I struggled with stress so much I never really got where I to be because of the layers of soot.
Dr. Serin: 03:03 Well. Yeah, you know, and I think I, I think that we need to get to self-love in order to get to other things, but we cannot access self-love when we're stressed out. And this is, I think the big, you hit really the nail on the head. The big thing that we're missing and the big way that our thoughts about stress and our thoughts about our lives and who we are are misguided, is that when you are in a state of stress, I call it the stress, which when you're stressed, which is medium or high, you can not access self-love. You can not access love for other people, you cannot be your best self. And we, we think we are what we do on a daily basis. But if we have a lot of stress [inaudible] in our lives and I'm not talking about we have a crazy mother-in-law and we have a stressful job. If our nervous systems in too many moments or putting our stress, which is on high right? We cannot access the deeper parts of ourselves. We cannot access the goodness. And it doesn't have to do with who we are as much as it has to do with how much we're stress. And this is why, you know, this is the stress is the main thing that we need to look at and we need to reduce in order to have a better life.
Allan: 04:11 Now, I've had other authors on because uh, and you don't know a lot about my story, but I was, I was in corporate in the last three years of my corporate career was just a series of merry Christmas layoffs. And so I just was constantly going through this cycle. And so I actually, at that point I had started doing the podcast and I'm like, well, I have access to all of these authors and I would bring them on, granted, they all had value. They all brought value to me as I listened to what they had to say. Most of them though. What I found was that they, okay, kind of focus more on tactics and less on, you know, what are the things that are inside of us that we just need to know to actually resolve stress rather than cope with it.
Dr. Serin: 04:57 Right. And the tactics are great. You know, everybody wants recipes. Everyone, we're really hungry now for, okay, how do I follow this? The Paleo Diet. You know, how to like do this. The things we are culture of addition and we're a culture of doing. So we always want somebody to tell us, do this different, add this to your day, do all these things. And it's very easy to kind of bite off those pieces and think that you have something tangible that's worth doing. But honestly, we're completely misunderstanding stress. So while there are some tactics in my book, a lot of it is just I have to retrain you and understanding what this stress response really is and what it's doing. Because it's not what you think. You know, people are like, well I know it's you know about cortisol and it's about right hemisphere and left hemisphere and it's about debriefing and all these things.
And it's like, no you don't. There's a new neuroscience of stress that we've discovered. We have amazing brain imaging technology now and amazing the things that have just come on the horizon, the last three, five that people don't know about and we're still thinking about it in the old ways. And the result is, we're taking the tactics that people or telling us, and it's the same old stuff. Take deep breaths, meditate, exercise more, do yoga, but we're missing the point. And we're also giving people so much to add to their day that stress management becomes stressful. Because what that does is leave people feeling like, oh, I should have done all these 50 things today and I only did 20 of them and now I feel bad and now I'm more stressed out and I'm depleted. So we have to look at it a different way and we have to give people things to do in the moment to reduce their stress that are actually going to work. Because deep breathes are great, but they only work when you're mildly stressed. If you're moderately stressed out in the moment or higher than that, you cannot access the part of your brain and you cannot actually access deep breaths to override that system. It literally shuts down. So we're telling people in the moment that they need these techniques to use techniques that break down and then people are disappointed with themselves. It just doesn't make sense.
Allan: 07:00 Yeah. It's like you rush up to a 10 and you're, you're peaking at a 10, you know, red line all day, and then you say, okay, I'm to do this deep breathing and it gets you down to a nine, which is 10% better, which is, you know, in the moment it feels good. Uh, but you're still at a nine and you, you know, ratchet, right back up to 10 within a limited amount of time. Now in the book. And I like this, you kinda like walk us through, I guess for lack of it, the process of what stress is and you know, focus and core of our central nervous system. Could you take just a moment because I don't, I think I've ever really sat down with anyone and just talk through the central nervous system and how stress manifests there.
Dr. Serin: 07:44 Right? So stress is your body's in the moment reaction to a trigger. And so you have a network in the brain called the salience network. And what this network does is it's actually, it actually dictates what you get to pay attention to. So if you all, you know, whoever's listening, if you think about how you're feet feel right now, you were not paying attention to that a minute ago probably. And the reason why is because it's not salient. It's not important for what you're doing. If your salience network is working, you're mostly focused on this conversation with maybe distractions being woven in here or there, but if there's a loud sound, you will actually orient that loud sound as those and that becomes salient. And so the salients network is dictating how you pay attention to things because there's too many things going on in your environment versus how much you can consciously be aware of in the moment.
Okay, so it's funneling all the things that are getting processed and giving you a tiny little snippet to pay attention to. It's also turning up and down your stress, switch so you think about your stress switch like a dimmer is turning it up and down in the moment without your awareness based on what's coming in. So if you are listening to this conversation and you have a distract, a distracting thought gets automatically generated something like, oh no, I forgot to turn the oven off. Oops, I forgot to feed the dog. Your salience network is actually sending you that alert and it's also tacking up your stress switch so you will feel more stressed out than you did a moment ago because you had that automatic thought. Okay. Now this is being done for you in pre-conscience network. So we used to think, okay, I see a snake, I recognize the snake, and I go into fight or flight.
Nope, you see a snake, your salience network puts you into fight or flight, and then you recognize consciously after the fact what happened. It's two consciousnesses too slow of a process. That's why our bodies are biologically wired to go into fight or flight first. But what people don't realize is your body goes into moderate states of stress first without you even knowing why. And so then you have to go back and kind of explain why I think I'm stressed out because of this or that or this. You know, your heart's pounding and your stomach hurts and whatever else. And we're always trying to figure it out on the backend. But the reality is, is that these networks in the brain are automatically, and we call it the, that's why it's called the automatic system. It's automatic. It's doing it for us. And then we're trying to control it with the wrong networks.
And it doesn't work. So if your heart's pounding and you're in fight or flight and eat, you can even access the thought to breathe. You won't be able to breathe. So you can actually use breaths to bring your stress, which is from like a five down to a three but you really can't use that to bring yourself from a 10 down to a nine actually, because you can't access that you're hyperventilating at that point. And you're only all of your brain resources are focused at that moment is survival and sometimes it is a matter of survival. You know, I have snakes coming at me, right? And I have to run, but a lot of times it's my cell phone's ringing and I can't find it in my purse and I'm going into the state of fight or flight. That's not a matter of our survival.
But our nervous system is confused and it's turning on our stress, which too often, too much. And the result is poor quality of life, poor health outcomes, being irritable, lack of sleep, all these things that stress moderates.
Allan: 11:13 Now, in the book you talk about this, this concept called the pleasure principle. Could you take just a minute to go over. that?
Dr. Serin: 11:22 So when we're talking about pleasure, we're really talking about an in the moment. We are going to move towards things that have been pleasurable in the past or that are we think are going to be pleasurable,unconsciously. we're going to move away from, we're going to avoid things that are unpleasant. And again, these are choices that are being made for us. You think that your consciousness is doing all of the work, but it's not. So there's a lot of things people avoid and they don't even know why.Oor there's a lot of people, things that people do via the pleasure principle that they don't want to do. And this is where we get into addictive behavior. Um, you know, gambling, shopping, eating chocolate, you know, drinking, all these things. Anything that has brought us pleasure in the past and has regulated some of our neurochemistry, we are more likely to do in the future. So one of my biggest things when people say, well, if you know, let's say something terrible happens, like, um, your parent dies. Okay. What is your recommendation about behavior? And my recommendation is don't start any new bad habits because in those moments of despair, of grief, of stress, of whatever, if you start a new bad habit, then that is going to get locked into the, what we call the pleasure principle. And what it's gonna do is your brain is going to unconsciously signal you to keep doing that.
And so, and if you have an old addiction that's been dormant, let's say someone's been sober for 20 years and something really bad happens, they are way more likely at that point in their lives to go back into the addictive behavior. And this is why we get people relapsing after so many years, right? Because the need for regulation is so high. The need for relief, the need for feeling better because of the stress that people will look forward to in ways that are dictated by the pleasure of prince. So we want to understand that our behavior is not under as much conscious control as we think, but it's being controlled by the pleasure principle sometimes. And also distress, which and what it signals you to do. And when we understand that we can kind of do a better job of, staying away from some of those behaviors or regulating ourselves and also not beating ourselves up when we do do the things that don't make sense to us that have consequences.
Like, oh my gosh, I just, you know, went out and I'm on a diet and I just ate, you know, consumed a thousand calories of dinner and like, why did I do that? We have the answer. Well, you know, why you did that, you needed some regulation and your consciousness in that moment wasn't that powerful. But what we can do is we can hack into the stress system and lower the stress and then the cravings will go away. The likelihood of going into those behaviors go away. And even if you do the behaviors when you're not stressed out, you don't get that reward. Okay? So teachers know this, right? If teachers have a rough day with their class and they drink wine at the end of the day, it's really, really great. But if they have a fine day and they go home and drink wine, it's just like I could take it or leave it. So it's the in the moment reward that you're giving the brain. It dictates how good it feels, how likely you are to repeat that behavior.
Allan: 14:33 Okay. Now there's one final piece that I want to put together because what I'm kinda building a layer here, and you kind of did this in a book as well, which I really liked, was the 10 cognitive distortions. Can you kind of quickly go through those? Cause I think when you, when I put these three concepts together, you know, the central nervous system, particularly the salient network, a pleasure principles, and then these cognitive distortions. I think we kinda build a, the platform to understand why tactics alone really isn't enough when you're in that state.
Dr. Serin: 15:08 The cognitive distortions are basically ways of just thinking this is where we, we get consciousness in the mix. Now they said these other things we're talking about, well, very little to do with consciousness, but now we bring consciousness in and go, what is the quality of our thinking? Right? And if we can identify the cognitive distortions, we can lower stress through that and we can kind of put these all together. So an example of a cognitive distortion would be emotional reasoning. Well, and that's when you have a feeling and then you think it must be based on some kind of reality. And the reality is that we have feelings based on how much sleep we got that night or certain triggers.
I mean, we can show pictures of you, and or we can show pictures to people in psychological research. Let's say that they don't even encode visually. So you don't even know what you saw. But let's say if I flash really quickly a picture of an angry barking dog and a gun and something, you know, really like a, a terrible scene, you don't even know you've seen it. And then we start talking, you know, you'll have a more negative view of me. You'll have a different feeling about me than you would had I not done that or have you not seen those you know, preconscious pictures beforehand. So the brain isn't just this passive thing taking in information. We can prime the brain to go into all kinds of states. So if we think, oh, I have this feeling, therefore something horrible must have happened or this person might be bad or whatever.
We're using emotional reasoning and that can get us into trouble and increase our stress. The other thing we can do is, um, fortune-telling. We have no clue. Allan. No clue what is going to happen in five minutes tomorrow or the next day or in 10 years. We have no idea. And yet we all are making these predictions and depending on whether the prediction is negative or positive, we feel stressed in this moment. So we want to be mindful of, oh, that's me fortune telling again. And people with OCD and generalized anxiety, they have a really hard time with their brains automatically. Fortune-telling and also doing something called catastrophizing thinking that things are going to be horrible. Right.
So my mom has anxiety and my brother got laid off from a job a few months ago, he was a very high paid salesperson and she calls me going, oh, this is so he just, you know, his whole life is ruined. His wife's going to be so mad. He's not going to find a job… I said, stop, stop, stop. And I go, mom, go back to the book or put your touchpoints on because you have no clue how this is going pan out. And my brother's very intelligent, very resourceful, top in his field. Sure enough, within a week he had another job. He's doing great. Loves it. It's fine. Now, not everything works out fine. But the point is, is that in a moment you're making a prediction. You're fortunate telling you're catastrophizing. You're actually creating a tick up on the stress switch. So you may start off a three and then start to work yourself up and your thinking all the way up to a nine or a 10 or full-blown panic if you're not stopping yourself and realizing, oh, this is where my consciousness actually can help me when I'm a three, I can use my consciousness and this understanding to make it not go up to a seven or an eight at a level three you can take a deep breath and go, okay, I'm catastrophizing. I don't know how this is going to go. He's always had a job. He's resourceful. Things are okay, you know, and then your stress can stay at a low level. So sometimes our stress, which is our being turned up without our awareness and sometimes are conscious process is actually with our awareness, pushing our stress switch up. And that process is the one that we have the most control over. But all of the stress, which issues now can actually be hacked into with some new technology and some things that are not just thinking and paying attention and being mindful.
Allan: 19:17 Now, I had always, I, and I guess it's, you know what I've read what I've thought, how I've always viewed, stress is that it's, you know, it's just something you have to, you have to cope with it. Just something. But I guess recent research and particularly research that you've done, it's showing that, you know, we, we can actually flip that switch as you will, uh, the stress switch and cure stress from, from the perspective of putting ourselves in the position where we're in mildly stressful states that we can then through tactics deal with. Can you talk a little bit about that concept of curing stress?
Dr. Serin: 19:58 Right. So we need some stress. So, you know, when we're going to go perform, when we're giving a talk or if we're an athlete, we're going to, um, go into some states of stress. So we, this isn't to say that we're going to give people zero stress because zero stress means that you're dead, right? But we're talking about coping excess stress. I'm talking about that when your cell phone is in your purse and you cannot find it, you're not going into fight or flight because that's a waste of, that's a waste of stress, so to speak. Right? We shouldn't, you know, we should only be in the stress when we are in a life or death situation or when we're under, you know, extreme time pressure or things like that. And then we should go back to baseline. But that's not what's happening.
People's stress, which is are on, you know, maybe they're at a four or five pretty much day long, fluctuating up and down from that and their bodies are inflamed and they are, you know, their quality of their thoughts is automatically negative and those sorts of things. So what I'm talking about sharing, yeah, excess stress. I'm talking about a default level, a default stress, which motive of being pretty low. Okay. And then your stress will go up. If there's a really loud sound right now, Allan, or let's say a fire alarm went off and you and I both heard it, we would go into fight or flight. But we would go into fight or flight and our stress switches would be a 10 and then our bodies quickly lower it down to a default level, somewhere between zero and two that's what's ideal. This is what happens in nature.
You know, I'm a predator, starts chasing a zebra and the zebra runs away, goes into fight or flight and as soon as the Predator's gone, the zebra goes back to, well we call homeostasis low stress and then it starts grazing and hanging out and doing all that. The Zebra is not sitting there thinking, well what a lion that was, oh my God, I nearly escaped and I'm sure going to die tomorrow. These things. And so this is sort of the price we pay for consciousness. So we owe it to ourselves to create a low default stress switch, and depending on who you are and what you've been through, the prescription for that is different. But the technology that I talk about that I developed to prevent PTSD is one of the first steps. So you can actually have this technology on your body. It's noninvasive. It's just haptic micro vibrations that vibrate back and forth. And believe it or not, that adds an input into the salient network that's deciding what to do with your stress switch. And it lowers your stress switch. So the research is that it will lower your stress about 62% in 30 seconds. And that's with the sample of over a thousand people. And so if you have access to this, it can bring your stress, which down very, very quickly. And then people spot use it throughout the day to keep their stress low.
So we use that and then we also have people, the other, you know, cure part of this is a base of healthy behaviors and that's where you come in, right? A base of healthy exercise and diet and sleep regulation. And I don't mean when I say diet, I think people freak out. They're like, oh my gosh, I have to start counting macros and I need to, you know, go on the LCHFdiet, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about a reasonably well balanced diet where you're not drinking two sodas a day, right? You're never ingesting things that have a huge spike, create a huge spike in insulin. You're not binge eating. You're not only eating white and brown foods. I'm talking about very basic, healthy diet principles. Okay? So you don't have to add two hours of obsessiveness to your day trying to maintain a healthy diet. Right? But just the basics, okay. You have the basics of the exercise, the Diet and sleep regulation, and then you add the technology and then you add some of the knowledge in the book. And I think that is all the recipe that you need for success unless you've been extremely traumatized or have PTSD, had a terrible upbringing. If that's the case and there's a lot of trauma in your childhood, then we add to the prescription things like EMDR therapy and maybe neurofeedback in our clinics. And so, um, but whatever the reasons or the case or however bad it is, we can cure the excess stress.
Allan: 24:23 Yeah. And I think, you know, as, as you know, as I talk to a lot of people come to clients, you know, on online, uh, just the conversation. I'm actually, I mean, I used to have this mindset that, you know, there can't be that many people with, you know, PSTD but I guess I'm coming to understand that as the world and the technology and everything has, has moved forward at this pace, all that kind of piled on to potentially childhood trauma to you know, just major things that are going on in our lives right now. Um, we're just over, we're over done. And it's really pushed a lot of people over that line to a point where yes, you need proper nutrition. Just make sure you're getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs, the protein it needs to rebuild and do the things you're getting, the proper sleep, so that your body can heal and recover and you're moving, you know, you have a movement practice where you're building a fitness level to be the kind of person you want to be.
And do the things you want to do. If you, if you're doing all of those behavioral things right, you still might find yourself just not able to flip that switch. Um, so I do want to talk a little bit about the technologies. So let's start with the EMDR. What is that? What's that kind of therapy like? And um, you know, if someone really does, they've got, they know they've got trauma, they've tried all the tactics, they aren't, they're eating well, they're exercising, their sleep isdisrupted because of the stress more than likely and maybe haven't figured out the sleep part, but they just know they're not getting where they need to and it's time for them to consider some therapy. What is this like, what would that be like for them?
Dr. Serin: 26:08 Yeah, I get patients like this all the time and you know, some of them have been to therapy. Some of them have been to talk therapy and while it was moderately helpful and they liked their therapist, they're still having these responses and it's not getting resolved. We have to resolve it at the level of the nervous system. If we don't do that, every time you get a trigger that's associated with something, your stress, which is going to go up to what it's default is for that trigger. So I think about, you know, someone goes, well I think about my ex-husband and it goes up to an eight and then I, and, and we're not, again, consciously trying to think about it. It's just sometimes the thoughts happen automatically or sometimes we get an email from them and then boom, eight, eight, eight, right? We want to change that.
So the EMDR therapy incorporates a lot of the ingredient of some other therapies. So it's sort of like cognitive behavioral therapy plus the therapists will use eye movements and also similar technology or the technology in the touchpoints which you can now use at home. Um, and those are just the vibrations that bring down stress. And so you process the trauma or whatever happened and sometimes you didn't even know what it is. All you know is that when something happens in your life now it creates such a stress response or panic that we start there and then you will start processing everything in your memory networks associated with that, whether or not you think it makes sense and then that gets resolved in the nervous system and then it doesn't take your stress switch up anymore. So it's that simple.
But we are so obsessed with consciousness and convoluting things and thinking that, you know, defining ourselves as our anxiety or this or that, that that I just need to whittle it down for people and say if we were thinking of something, and while you're thinking of that, you can get your body calm instead of the stress that becomes your new normal for that thing and then that will generalize to other things. And that's how we heal trauma. And that's how we create a different default in the stress switch. And the EMDR therapy does a beautiful job of that. In fact, research shows that if someone's got post traumatic stress disorder from a single incident, like let's say a near death experience or one combat experience, then they actually only need about six sessions of EMDR to cure it.
Allan: 28:31 Okay. And then the blast technique, which is the bilateral alternating stimulation tat tie, which you kind of talked about the touch points, it's, it's Kinda tapping into the salient network. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that works? Cause that's something that someone can use at home as, as needed, right,
Dr. Serin: 28:50 right. So if you think about, you know, if you in a loud, if you're at a conference and or a restaurant even and it's really loud and there's all these jarring sounds, you're going to feel more stressed out because your salience network is ratcheting up your stress switch based on all of that sensory information. But if you are in a dimly lit room with music and with calming things, your stress switch is actually going to be turned down for you because of that sensory information. All the blast does. Bilateral alternating stimulation in tactile form. I know that's a mouthful. Nobody, nobody's going to be tested on that. So we just call it blast. All that is is it's a better sensory input that will lower stress faster than let's say listening to a calm song or in a bathtub or something like that.
We're using a sensory network to downgrade the stress response in real time and we can do it very quickly with these alternating vibrations. It's amazing. So people can use those in situations where they're normally stressed out. So we have people using them during tests for test anxiety. Or, um, parents often struggle with kids who are sitting down to do homework and they hate homework and you pop it on the kids for kids and Tantrum or for cravings. Remember, if you're stressed out, you're more likely to want to reach for a donut versus a salad. But if we lower your stress, those cravings, will go down because there's no stress to regulate in that moment with a donut or alcohol or something else. Um, so there's all kinds of applications at home that you can use this technology for. And what I like about it is you don't have to stop what you're doing.
People go, well, what do I have to do? Like leave my desk at work and you know, meditate for five minutes and then go back. And I'm like, no, you, you don't need to do that. Um, in fact, good luck leaving your desk and trying to meditate for five minutes. You're probably not going to be able to willfully get your stress down enough to get into a meditative state. If you can that's wonderful, but most of us can't. So at your work desk is something stressful. You just put them in your pockets because they just have to be on one side or the other side of the body. So you can put them in pockets, socks. You can hold on to them with your hands. They come with a wristband so you can wear them on your wrists, but a lot of times people want to hide them so they don't want them on their wrists. Anyway you want.
Allan: 31:19 Yeah, someone's going to ask, why do you have two watches on,
Dr. Serin: 31:22 right? What is going on? Right? And actually we're using these incorporate wellness. So in a, in some companies now it's just sort of like, you know, everybody just knows what they are. It just becomes part of the culture. Like, Oh, I'm using my touch points, you know? And, or if HR has to deliver some bad news to people, they put the touch points on to lower their stress. So there's becoming a part of some companies, cultures, and it's becoming kind of this normal thing that you would do. Um, but for most culture companies it would be like, what are these weird vibrating things that you have and you know, what's going on? But the cool thing is, is that I'd had some, you know, mavericks in their companies just go, hey, think of something stressful. And people are like, okay. And they go hold these. And then people are like, wow, you know, and then they get it. So it's so instantaneous. It's relief that people get from it, that it's very, very easily, um, demonstrated. It's harder to explain than it is to just get these in people's hands and they feel an immediate relief and then it's very easy to understand, you know, why the person next to you ask these on. So,
Allan: 32:26 Yeah, I think if I, when I was in corporate and you know, as I was reading through, I was thinking I would just need wear them 24, seven one I was when I was in corporate, but, uh, hopefully they would, they would act a little bit faster than that, but I would have no qualms telling them, okay, look, you guys stress me the heck out. So, uh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna wear these on, on both of my wrists and a pair, all my ankles if I had to. But it's very interesting in the technology. It's very interesting, you know, kind of where we're going with this and just to say, okay, if the tactics aren't working for you it's probably because your stress switch is just way too high and some of these therapies are just something that you're gonna need to consider as a means of getting their stress point down to a point where you can actually use the techniques and get some benefit from them.
Dr. Serin: 33:13 Right. And not procrastinate and not avoid them too, you know? I mean, how many workouts have we not done because we wake ups, we're stressed out and we're like, oh, I just can't handle it today. Those are all cognitive thoughts that aren't true. You know? Of course we can handle it because if somebody forced us to do it, we could absolutely do it. Right.
Allan: 33:34 If a bear showed up you'd start running.
Dr. Serin: 33:36 They would run right? Oh, I can't run today, right? No, you can run today. But this is what you're telling yourself and what you're telling yourself is exactly correlated with where your stressed switches and that moment. So again, a lot of people think, oh well I think something and then I get stressed. It's not true. Your body is stressed. And so then you think something. So a lot of times with just the technology, you know, in touchpoints and certainly with things like EMDR therapy, positive, spontaneous spots are increased. just from that, so we know that it's not a one-way street where we're, it's not a top-down process of, Oh, I'm either going to choose to think positively or negatively. If you're stressed out, you can not, a lot of times you can choose to think positively. You don't have access to that level of thinking, but as you lower the stress switch, the positive thoughts suddenly emerge.
Things like, well, I guess I could handle that. I can do that. You know, I'm, wow, that's interesting. I had that thought that I couldn't run today, but I absolutely can and I know I'm going to feel better if I do it. So I'm going to do it. You know those things spontaneously re-emerge it's just way too hard to try to white knuckle this from a top-down perspective all the time. And just try to use consciousness, consciousness, consciousness to produce what we want. Um, we have to kind of fight ourselves to create these new habits. And it's really hard. We know it's really hard to tell people to change their behavior without some other kind of intervention.
Allan: 35:06 Dr Serin, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Dr. Serin: 35:15 So the, the overarching principle is do things with high impact, right? So the first strategy I would say is to look at, um, the top three things, sleep, diet and exercise. And what would create the biggest boom, you know, what create the biggest impact you, if you were to shift. So a lot of people are only getting five or six hours of sleep a night. And if that's the case, the no brainer in that is seven to nine hours of sleep every night. And you know, make that a goal. So that's the first strategy I would use is to kind of tackle the big things, the big things that have the highest impact. Um, switch those up. Okay. And if your sleep is off, that's the absolute number one thing as you get your sleep back on track, if you can't get yourself sleep by on track, just by putting down your cell phone or know turning off the TV at a decent time.
There's other things you can do like ad orange glasses that will block out the artificial light and things like that. But you know, we don't need to get too detailed with it. So slay the major dragons is kind of the first thing. The second thing I would say is too, you asked me for three, right? Okay. So the second thing I would say is too pay attention. And this is in my book. Pay attention to how your choices perpetuate your own stress switch. So a lot of times, like I said, your stress, which is being turned up and down for you, that's not necessarily a choice. What is a choice is if someone does something that I don't like, it's a choice for whether or not I have three phone conversations that night to kind of complain about that to other people. That's me actually consciously ratcheting up my own stress switch.
Yeah. I want people to agree with me. Can you believe she said this and did that? Yeah, I know. That's terrible. Oh, you know, that's, those are the things that you can consciously cut out of your life. I'm not going to spend time complaining right, to other people. I'm not going to try to get other people upset about the things I'm upset about. I'm not gonna watch people fighting on the news. Right. That's a conscious choice. When you watch people fighting on the news back and forth, that's actually a conscious choice that you're making to be embroiled in upset. Okay. And anger and all these emotions while you're stress switch gets turned on. Okay. Why do you want to be in that state?
Right. You, I'm telling you right now you don't, it's terrible for your health. It's terrible for things that you have no control over. Like the political climate, unless you're in politics and all these things, why do you want to spend an hour or two a day surrounding yourself with people that are stressed out that don't need to be in your lives cause they're on TV. Right? And so paying attention to when am I choosing to engage and get other people riled up and what am I choosing to become riled up by things I can't control. And then you wipe that out and then you have energy to do things that are more positive. Right. Okay. So that's two. And you asked me for one more. I'm trying to think of one more. I think that my advice be if your default stress switch is high, if you're somebody that wakes up and it's high in the and you do have sleep disruptions and you can't seem to just choose all the healthy behaviors that you want to choose and maybe you had a traumatic childhood or you know, have had really traumatic things go on in your corporate life or whatever your family life, then I would consider therapies like EMDR, um, and really getting some professional help not because you're damaged but because you want to be well.
Allan: 39:07 Absolutely. So thank you so much for being a part of the 40+ Fitness Podcast. If someone wanted to learn more about you, your book and uh, touchpoints, where would you like for me to send them?
Dr. Serin: 39:19 So I have a website at amyserin.com that's amyserin.com and there's links to the book and or just touchpoints. Also, the book is available on Amazon. In fact, it hit number one for preventative medicine in kindle on Amazon a few months ago. Thank you. Yeah. And then I have clinics too. I'm at serincenter.com so if anybody's interested in working, you know with more of that cutting edge neuroscience and some of the treatments we talked about, then I do have clinics and um, would just love to help anybody that is seeking a more fulfilling, happier life.
Allan: 40:01 We'll have the full show notes 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/401 you can find all those links there. So Dr Serin, and again, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Dr. Serin: 40:13 Thank you so much Allan.
The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:
Links mentioned in the show:
|#||Guest||Book Title||Get Book|
|385||Dr. Marc Bubbs||Peak|
|242||Dr. Sara Gottfried||Younger|
|248||Jeff Galloway||The Run Walk Run Method|
|317||Dr. Adam Nally||Keto Cure|
|369||Kathleen Trotter||Your Fittest Future Self|
|256||Maria Emmerich||Keto Comfort Foods|
|338||Dr. Jonny Bowden||Smart Fat|
|275||Gretchen Rubin||The Four Tendencies|
|382||Michael Matthews||Bigger, Leaner, Stronger|
|331||Dr. David Friedman||Food Sanity|
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Before we get into today's episode, I would like to ask you if you would take just a moment to vote for The Wellness Roadmap in the Author Academy Awards. We've made it as a top 10 finalist in the health category. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist, and that'll take you to their website. You'll find a little arrow down the page a little bit. You can scroll to page 7 of 16 that's the health category. Just click on the book title, you don't have to give them any information about yourself. Just click on the book title and that will secure your vote for The Wellness Roadmap. Again, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist. Thank you. This award means a lot to me and your vote means the world to me. Thank you.
So today's episode is the third part of a mindset series. On episode 397, we talked about prioritization and time management by utilizing a tool that I created called the identity grid. You probably do better to go back and listen to the last two episodes, but you don't have to. I'm gonna try to make each episode stand-alone, but if you want to get the whole picture, I will probably be flashing back to that grid.
Also on episode 398, I kinda got into the getting the wellness, the things that you'll need to do to make that happen that include pushing outside your comfort zone, uh, applying your energies the right way and not overstressing yourself. Um, and then just looking at it more like a program rather than a project. So I'd encourage you to go back and listen to 397 and 398 if you haven't already, but I will try to make this episode stand-alone.
Today we're going to talk about commitment. Are you committed? I talked to my clients, uh, fairly regularly about this topic. I've talked on the podcast about it a few times, uh, but I can't under stress or overstress that the importance of commitment. If you really want to accomplish major wellness changes in your life, it's really just not going to happen if you're not committed to change. Because change is probably the hardest thing for a human being to do. Our bodies are naturally designed to find balance, are naturally designed to get to a comfortable place under what stress and daily living requirements we have today. So if you can get away with being 200 pounds overweight, your body's gonna let you be 200 pounds overweight, uh, because you can, and you can get away with it. And we can work around all these different things that used to set us back, but we figure it out.
You know, um, if you're unable to get up from a toilet because you're older and your legs aren't strong enough, put rails in the bathroom now that's going to help you for a period of time and then eventually you'll probably lose that arm strength. I don't want that to be my future. So I've made a commitment to ensure that I keep myself healthy and strong. So that isn't my future. That isn't who I am. That isn't how I identify. So I've set up an identity for myself that includes doing regular fitness training. And so as you look at that though, showing up is hard. Our bodies naturally want to be in that balance. So what do we do to break that balance? To break what our body calls, what they call in our body homeostasis. While it takes stimulus, stimulus takes work. So if we want to improve our overall health, we improve the foods that we're eating.
If we want to improve our overall fitness, we have to push ourselves across the different modalities that we use to define fitness. If you've read the book of The Wellness Roadmap, uh, that's up for an Author Academy Award. I talk about that in the book. Fitness is basically fit for task. It means that you're capable of doing the things that you want to do in your life. So for me, at 105, I want to be able to wipe my own butt. I want to be able to get up off the toilet. So I'm going to need to be fit enough to make that happen. For some of us right now, fitness can be, I want to basically be able to go on hikes and spend time with my family and not be overly fatigued or down and out the next day. Um, I want to be able to lift things that need lifting around the house.
I want to be able to open jars for myself and my wife. I want to be able to do those basic things that as we get older, sarcopenia and Osteopenia kinda take away from us if we're not doing something about it. So how do we make this commitment and how do we make it a commitment that we're going to stick to? Because face it, all of us do resolutions. All of us do our diets, all of us have done fitness regimes before and failed. And the reason most of us fail is this lack of commitment, a resolution, a goal, a diet there. They're all words. We used to fail that because so many people do. There's no, there's no jeopardy to it. There is no disgrace to it. It just, yeah, I tried a new diet and I fell off the wagon. I'll get back on it on Monday.
Well, today's Tuesday a well, okay, well, yeah, Monday. Um, there's all these different reasons we don't do it. But a commitment is very, very different. When you make a commitment, you're starting from a point of self-love. You're starting from a point that's very, very deep and emotional. And if you've ever made that type of commitment before, you'll really begin to resonate and understand what I'm talking about when you say you're going to do something for someone you love, you do it. Um, if you say you're going to pick up your spouse at the airport at five o'clock, you're at the airport at five o'clock. So if you make the same kind of commitment to yourself with the same basis of self-love, that you're going to be at the gym at five o'clock, then you'll be at the gym at five o'clock and not at the drive-through at McDonald's.
So that's where this comes from. The commitment comes from this really, really deep, deep emotional well, it's gotta be something that really touches you. It has to be a part of, as I've said over the course of this last few weeks, it has to be a part of how you identify. If you don't identify yourself as someone who's getting fit, it's not going to happen. When you get married, you make the commitment. You go from being engaged to married. You go from saying fiance to spouse. Now, you might verbally trip that up a few times, but in your head you know that commitment's there, you feel that commitment, you've made that commitment and you made it in a rather public way. So I encourage you, if you're really looking to to make a commitment, start with something deep and emotional and then make it public.
Now I provide online personal training and you can come to me, go to the website, 40plusfitnesspodcast.com and you can find links there to look up our group training and you can make that commitment to us. We're on a Facebook group, we're on our regular weekly calls. You can email me, we can have regular conversations about this commitment you have and keeping you on track. So make it deep, make it public and then beyond all kind of know what this is going to look like. You know a lot of people get married young and they don't know that type of people they're going to be when they get older, they really haven't set that vision. That's why a lot of people will say, wait a little while before you get married, so you really know what you're getting into. So you really know the vision of the direction that your life is going to go and where you want it to go.
I got married when I was 21 now. Was that a mistake? I guess so because I'm not married to her anymore, but at the same time it was just a part of my life lessons and I learned from it. So I'm not going to call it a mistake, but I do know that if I had known my path a little bit better at that point in time and had a better vision and we shared that vision and it was the same deep and emotional thing, that commitment would have stood time. It just would have. But we didn't do that. So make a commitment. And again, I can't stress this enough, deep and emotional, make it public and know what it means. Have that vision. So you have the why and you have the vision and you put those together and you make it public. That's your commitment and it needs to be based on self-love.
It doesn't need to be based on fear. Fear will only get you so far before you forget the fear and you revert back to old activities, but love sticks with you. Fear is something you feel in a movie theater and then you walk out of the theater and you're not afraid anymore. Love is something that you just keep on feeling. It's deep. It's emotional, it's chemical. It's a part of who you identify as. So take the time to build a solid commitment so we can make this fitness and health thing happen for you. Like I said, if you need a coach, reach out to me. I'd be glad to get on a 15-minute call with you just to kind of fare at some of this stuff out so you can get a little, get to know me a little bit better so I can get to know you a little bit better.
Online personal training isn't for everybody, but if you want to just get on the phone, have a consult, absolutely free. Come check it out. 40plusfitnesspodcast.com and you're going to find a link right there on the sidebar. If it's, if you're on the phone, you may have to scroll down a little bit before you see it, but just get in there, get to know me and figure it out. We can help you set this commitment. We can get to your why, we can get to your vision. We can put that together into a very solid commitment that could change your life, so do check it out.
before you get too far away, please do take a moment to go over to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist scroll to page 7 of 16 find The Wellness Roadmap. It's actually the first book on the list for health category at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist and then you just click on the cover and it'll take just a couple minutes for you to get over there and find the page and and vote for the book. I really do appreciate it. Go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/finalist and vote for The Wellness Roadmap today.