Category Archives for "guest/interview"
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Beth Shaw is the President and Founder of Yoga Fit Training systems. The leader in mind, body education, yoga fit has trained more than 200,000 fitness instructors on six continents. Today we're going to talk about how yoga can be used to address trauma, both emotional and physical.
Allan: 01:12 Beth, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Beth: 01:14 Thank you very much, Allan. It's a pleasure to be here.
Allan: 01:17 You know, I was excited to get an opportunity, I haven't had anyone on to talk about yoga in quite some time. And you know, most of the time when we're talking about it, we're getting into the strength aspects or the mobility aspects or the stress reduction aspects of it. But it was pretty cool to see that there's also some opportunity for us to use yoga in a therapeutic way around trauma.
Beth: 01:41 Yeah, it's a wonderful tool for anyone who needs to heal.
Allan: 01:45 And that's what I, that's what I really got out of your book. And I guess, you know, I grew up and I, you know, obviously I kind of went through your ACE tests and I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I, I'm going to say I scored better than 50% on your test, but I guess I tend to be maybe a little bit more resilient at some level. And, and that was where you kinda got into in the book is that trauma doesn't affect everybody the same way. And so we all are kind of dealing with our own battle with trauma at some level.
Beth: 02:17 Yeah. You know, we're all like snowflakes, whether it's physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically. So we all handle things differently. But, you know, I think that it's common to the human condition for people to struggle.
Allan: 02:33 It is, you know, it's kind of a core tentant of Buddhism is that, you know, that's what life is really kind of about. And it's more about embracing that than running away from it. And yoga kind of gives you a tool to do just that.
Beth: 02:48 Yes, it does. It really, it gives us the opportunity, um, you know, not only to heal but also to be the witness to our own process.
Allan: 02:57 Now in the book you shared something, it was called the ACE test that I spoke about a little earlier. Can you kind of go through this ACE test and what it, what it does and some of the questions that you ask and that would be asked in that test. So, you know, we can kind of figure out where do we lie on this and what are some of the things we may want to address as we go forward with, using yoga as a therapy?
Beth: 03:21 Well the adverse childhood experience test is a simple test, with under 10 questions. Basically asking if anyone was abusive to you, uh, in your household while growing up. If there was violence in your household, if you had a parent who died, you know, if he was a witness to any type of trauma, if you had any head injuries. So it kind of, it's the opportunity for us to index ourselves physically and emotionally and just answer yes or no questions. And, and typically if you have more than five yeses on that test, uh, you are susceptible to a lot of trauma related issues, including addiction, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety and so on.
Allan: 04:15 Okay, and I guess that's why we really kind of piqued my interest because I took the test and I'm like, okay, this is not a test you want to score high on. But I did and so as I got into.
Beth: 04:26 Allan, I just wished that that one, I wish that I had had that test when I was 18 years old. And two, I wish that they would give this test to everyone who's, let's say a junior in high school. Um, because, you know, had I've understood myself better as a young adult, my life, of course probably would've been a lot easier.
Allan: 04:50 And I agree with you, I think, you know, some of the choices and decisions I made, you know what I mean? We kind of sit there and tell ourselves, uh, when we're at that age, it's like, Oh, I would never do that. I would never act like that. Uh, you know, that's not who I'm going to be. Uh, and then you find yourself 10 years later doing some of those exact things you said you would never do. And so I think that's how, you know, and in a sense, you know, I, I had always told myself when I was younger, it's like, well, I'm always going to be fit. I'm always going to be in shape. Um, I'm always going to take care of myself. Uh, but my kind of my drive to perfection with my job, cause I think maybe that's where I buried a lot of this stuff was just okay, I need to be successful.
Allan: 05:32 That's how I'm going to be a measure of, you know, difference is to be successful. And I applied a lot of that energy to my job and I didn't apply it towards some of the more healthier pursuits like eating right and doing yoga. And so eventually kinda things fell apart for me. Uh, and it wasn't until after I kind of rebounded and said, okay, I've got to fix this, but I started doing some of these things. And I think I was able to turn it around. But from your book, I'm kinda getting an idea that I, you know, I may need to do a little bit deeper exploration. Guys don't tend to want to do that that often, but I think it might be worth it for me to do a little bit deeper dive. And one of the areas that I was…
Beth: 06:18 They said that they say that the unexamined life is not worth living. And yeah, I think it's good for anyone at any age to continue diving because sometimes even workaholism can be just another way of escaping one's pain. It's perhaps healthier than you know, being an alcoholic. But nevertheless, and this is just speaking from someone you know, I'm a workaholic. I excessively exercise their coping mechanisms.
Allan: 06:52 Yes. So when we're trying to do this, obviously trauma, trauma is not just a, it's not just an emotion. It actually physically changes our body and our brain. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Beth: 07:05 Yeah, trauma really does affect both our body and our brain in terms of what it does to the brain. It overstimulates different parts of the brain in particular the amygdala. And this is an almond shaped mass located deep in the brain and is responsible for survival related threat identification as well as tagging memories with emotion. So after a trauma, uh, this part of the brain can become highly alert and activated, which makes us perceive threats everywhere and also can make us hypervigilant. Also it affects our hippocampus and increases, uh, cortisol levels. And this, you know, can cause a whole variety of problems. Inflammation in the body, keeping the body and mind stimulated in a reaction mode constantly. And, also our prefrontal cortex shrinks and this is our decision making part of the brain. So we're not always making the best decisions for ourselves. Uh, so there are lots of changes in the brain and you know, your brain is really responsible for a lot of things. So it becomes problematic because of the very motor that's running us is not functioning properly.
Allan: 08:23 Yeah. Now, so obviously, uh, you know, as, as folks can go through the ACE test, is that something they could find online or is it available.
Beth: 08:31 Yes, they can find it online. They just need to Google adverse childhood experiences test and it will pop up.
Allan: 08:37 Okay. So if someone goes through that test or they suspect, okay. There, there was some or know that there was some trauma in their, in their past, uh, because of various events that were still kinda there. How has yoga going to help them with this journey?
Beth: 08:52 You know, well, first of all, yoga in its very is calming and relaxing. It lowers blood pressure, it lowers the heart rate, it gives us a pause. So it's just going to kind of take you back to a more neutral place. Um, it also gives you the opportunity to witness the body and the mind so you can kind of see what's going on in your body. If you're, you know, with repetitive practice, you'll be able to observe mental patterns that perhaps are not serving you. Perhaps you can then if you're a more contemplated person, witness patterns in your life that aren't serving you, you know, whether it's with relationships, friendships, job, and then also it, uh, helps our bodies produce GABA. And GABA is a calming agent produced by the brain. And when we're really stressed out our GABA levels are really low. So yoga is actually one of the only, it's not the only way other than if we take a GABA, you know, supplement or, or pharmaceutical, which strips you of your emotions. By the way, this is a great way to get GABA active in the body.
Allan: 10:04 Now when, when you start talking about trauma, this is just one of the things that kind of hit me because you have some case studies in the book that are really, really good and men, men and women, uh, and some with PSTD and other things. And I was just thinking, um, because one reason to hit home was I was in that unit, that guy, I can't remember his name, the plane crash. I was in 82nd airborne. I mean not not 82nd a hundred force airborne. Just right after that I joined the military and I was stationed at Fort Campbell. So we were hearing about the plane crash, you know, cause it was a peace time thing. And so you know, you would have these accidents and it was a question what's going on? Because we had some helicopter accidents, we weren't actively involved, but it was some people in our unit.
Allan: 10:51 So you kept, we kept having these, these series of accidents and you're like, okay, we're in peace time and we're, you know, we're at risk. And so every time you're getting on the helicopter, everything doing something, you just, like you said, hyper villaging you're, you're, you're watching out for your buddy, you're watching out for yourself. You're like, okay, we don't want to be the ones that had the accident. So it was, that's when I say it was kind of drew me in because I was like, okay, I can, I can feel with this guy's feeling at some level. It's hard sometimes to kind of lean into those feelings though. So you know, you're thinking about going into yoga. It just seems to be that there has to be a trust factor between you and the Yogi that you're learning from to take that step.
Beth: 11:31 Well, yes and no. If you know, we take that test and we decide, okay, I recognize that I do, you know, I have, I have this issue. Um, and I just want to explore a yoga practice. Cause I also recognize that, you know, I've got high blood pressure, I'm hyper vigilant. Uh, I'm highly reactive, you know, or, or whatever the case may be. Um, you know, you can go to yoga, you can partake in the practice. You don't have to discuss any of your, uh, trauma with the instructor. Um, if, you know, if you were the victim of a violent attack, uh, you're gonna want to make sure that, you know, you're not getting any surprise hands on the chest by your instructor. Uh, we really focus on this a lot at yoga fit. In fact, there was a reason article in the New York times about yoga teachers who are, uh, let's say getting a little too handsy with their students. Um, that just came out in the New York times, uh, over the weekend. But we teach our students at yoga fit too, to make sure that, um, they tell students that they're going to make hands on adjustments if they do and, and give the student an opportunity to refuse because for people who have had physical or sexual trauma in their lives, the wrong touch at the wrong time can trigger them be highly triggering.
Allan: 13:06 Yeah, I could see that. So as we talk about yoga fit, cause you mean your training, you've trained hundreds of thousands of instructors, uh, there's seven steps of yoga fit. Could you kind of go through those to get us a little bit more familiar with the yoga fit?
Beth: 13:21 Uh, well, the essence of yoga fit is breathing, feeling, listening to the body, letting go of judgment, expectation and competition and being present in the moment. And we encourage anybody who takes a yoga fit workshop, retreat or training to really embody these principles in themselves because yoga is a practice and it's a process and it's not a a one, one time event, nor is it a one size fits all proposition. So, um, you know, allowing that to be our foundation. Uh, and when we practice to, you know, we don't want to be competing with the person next to us or competing with the body that we had 10 years ago. Um, we just want to show up for ourselves in that day. And just, you know, when I practice, I'm just, some days I have an injury, some days I'm tight, you just kind of, it's an opportunity to just be with what is and do a little inquiry into the body and see what's going on.
Allan: 14:25 You know, I as a hyper competitive person, I could, I, I would, I would still struggle a little bit. I think it would take me a long time of practicing to get comfortable with just not competing against myself. I'm not going to compete against anyone else, but I, I still do have this strong inclination in myself to just want to see if I can be a little bit better tomorrow. So I, I like the seven steps. So I think, you know, the, the, particularly when you're talking about breathing and just kind of being aware of yourself, I don't, I don't think we give ourselves enough of that on a day to day basis, but I do see that this is a kind of a process that you'd have to practice for a while to really get comfortable. I would have to practice for a while to get comfortable with.
Beth: 15:05 Yeah. And you know everything's a practice in my usually. So, um, I just think that engaging in the process is very beneficial. Whether it's your first time doing it or your 1000th time doing it, it's just you're always going to get some benefits. And that's the beauty of it.
Allan: 15:24 Yeah. Awesome. Now I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Beth: 15:35 Well, I believe, uh, listening to the body is very important. I believe in setting an intention and action plan and then you have to follow your plan. And then lastly, be a little bit flexible.
Allan: 15:52 I really, I really liked those, especially the action part. So many people plan, plan, plan and don't act. Thank you for that. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about your book Healing Trauma with Yoga or about Yoga Fit, where would you like for me to send them?
Beth: 16:09 Healing Trauma with Yoga, which is now out and available and shipping from warehouses everywhere and available in bookstores also can be ordered off of Amazon or off of yogafit.com if you're interested in the yoga fit workshop, conference or training, we have over 50 different educational programs as we run over a thousand trainings worldwide every year and 15 conferences across North America. They can go to yogafit.com. If you're interested in more health and wellness articles, anti-aging hacks, uh, information on dealing with depression via supplementation, red light therapy, weighted blankets, and all the other alternative and not so alternative things that I'm up to. You can visit me at bethshaw.com.
Allan: 17:03 Great. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/410 and I'll be sure to have all those links there. So Beth, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Beth: 17:14 Thank you. It was my pleasure and I wish everyone a fit and peaceful day.
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The following listeners have sponsored this show by pledging on our Patreon Page:
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When Lisa Boucher saw that she was following her mother's path into alcoholism and loss, she turned things around. Now she helps women break free from alcohol and live better lives for it. In this episode, we discuss her book, Raising the Bottom.
Allan: 01:03 Lisa, welcome to 40+ fitness.
Lisa: 01:06 Thank you Allan. Happy to be here.
Allan: 01:08 You know we're getting into that time of the year when there's you know, holidays and you know, we're going to have Thanksgiving coming up. And of course then after that there's all the Christmas parties. And then of course, New Year's. And you know, we associate all of these holidays, all of these events with alcohol.
Lisa: 01:27 Yeah. And you forgot Halloween because that's becoming a huge alcohol. Um, I know when I was raising my sons, my husband, we're still together and he's a drinker. And when they were taking the kids around when they were little, we had, um, I had a problem with the happy hour at every single house. So the parents would have their kids dressed up in their little costumes and each house would offer a cocktail. And I said, ah. So I ended up making my husband stay home and give out the candy. And I took the kids because by the time you get around, we had a, like a big circle. Half the parents could barely stand. So it starts, I mean there's, there's just no holiday. There's no event that doesn't say, hey, it's all about the parents. And we got to drink too. So what are we modeling?
Allan: 02:22 And, and I, you know, I, I moved, I moved to Bocas Del Toro and you know, there's an expat community here and uh, you know, we get together and we have dinners and go out and watch our friends, you know, perform and you know, but it's, it's kind of a cycle of things of it. All of this is always going to involve alcohol, you know, bring your own beer, bring your own wine kind of mindset to all of it.
Lisa: 02:44 We live in a boozy culture and you know, for your listeners, I'm not opposed to drinking moderately, but I think Allan, we have normalized alcoholism in a lot of ways. And what I mean by that is people, I quit drinking before I was a daily drinker and I'm around a lot of people that drink daily and I'm not talking just one drink a day. They're drinking four or five drinks a day. And they walk around saying, well, I'm a social drinker. Well, actually, yeah, that's more like getting into alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse. They may not be full blown alcoholics, but it can have a detrimental impact on a life when if you're going to work, they say 80% of alcoholics have families and have jobs. So if your life looks like something like you go to work and every night after work, especially when you live in, in the tropical place like you do, if every day your social life, your after work life is at a bar drinking for the rest of the evening, at some point, by making that choice, you're choosing not to do a whole lot of other things.
And so I just encourage people to say, is this really what I want to do or am I just going along with the flow? I know when I quit drinking, there's so many things that I have found to do. I just went to a bird lecture this morning. I mean it's kind of a nerdy thing to do, but I'm really interested in nature and the birds and things that when I was drinking, I didn't even see the blue sky or the birds, I didn't notice. I wasn't really present on a daily basis or a moment to moment in my life. So there's a lot of things that you miss too with, with the drinking. And it's just a matter of really rethinking all the drinks and saying, is this who I want to be? Is this how I want to spend my time? And I know with like the people that do get sober, there's a lot of deep heartfelt regret of the things that they missed or the things they didn't do with their family, with their children, with their spouse or significant other, because drinking can take up a lot of time.
And I sobered up in my late twenties and I literally just squandered that whole decade of my twenties when you're trying to set up your life. And I had a lot of regrets about that, but much less so than someone who waits till they're 45, 50, even 60 to get sober.
Allan: 05:40 Yeah, you had a statistic in the book kind of hit me in the face. Um, it was up 10% of the population is an addict or an Alcoholic.
Lisa: 05:51 Yeah. I mean that is true. So think about it. Here in the United States, we have about 320 million people, roughly. So there are truly about 32 million addicts and alcoholics. And that's probably, that's probably under-reported because there's a lot of people like me, I did not go to rehab. I did not go to the doctor. I knew about this disease by being raised by an alcoholic mother. So I've been entrenched in this whole thing from the time from birth my whole life.
And, and I've had siblings who are addicts and alcoholics. And now that I've been sober 30 years, I work with a lot of people in recovery. My first husband was a raging alcoholic, so I've just been around this and they say, and I'm also a registered nurse. So here's another scary stat, is 14% of doctors so I've noticed working in healthcare, there are so many doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, that end up in recovery. So that's a pretty high stat. 14% of doctors and 10% like I said, in the book of the general population. So these are people and the people that I focused on in my book are people that you would never suspect they had a drinking problem because I think that's, that's why more people aren't finding recovery. There's this stigma, there's this picture in our heads of an addict is, is the person, the homeless guy on the street, the people that are passing out in cars that we see on the six o'clock news and that is one face of addiction, but that is at the end-stage.
So I wanted to focus on the people again that were, that were more like myself or the 80% functional alcoholics. For instance, Caro, she's one of the, I have 10 stories in the back of the book of various women and, and out and a guide. Um, she was a surgeon. She was coming home every day making dinner, had two children that were well dressed, well fed in good schools, lives in a great neighborhood. All of these trappings that we look at from the outside facade and say, Oh, that's a great life. However, inside she's falling apart. Her kids are miserable. They can't stand her drinking. They are losing respect for her. And she finally one day just came home from work, started to open that bottle of wine and said, you know what, she went back, didn't drink that day, went back to the hospital, told her partners, Hey, I think I have a problem.
These are two other surgeons. And their response was, surely you jest, this can't be. So this is the attitudes of what we've got going out there and still working in healthcare a couple of days a week. I like to keep my foot in so I can tell you what's going on currently. And the attitudes are shameful. People come to the hospital, they are not getting the help they need. They get a lot of the times, all this anxiety, depression on happiness. The underlying issue is substance abuse, drinking too much, um, taking perhaps too many prescription medications like Xanax, volume, Adavan these benzos do not help a person's life go well. A lot of times they're meant to for anxiety. People get rebound anxiety, which is even worse than their original anxiety. So all of these medications are not helping. And what I'm still saying is the doctors are throwing medicine at these people.
They leave the hospital, their lives continue to spiral out of control. They're unhappy, they're gaining weight, they're losing their marriages, they're losing their children. It is a mess. And the doctors though still rarely address the underlying issue of substance abuse. And I'm saying, Allan, we need to get people clean and sober before we start labeling them with anxiety and depression diagnosis because that is what happened to my mother back in the 60s who was also an RN. She went and got on volume them, which was the pharmaceutical industry's first billion dollar drug that led into a 25-year addiction that escalated into alcohol to where she was nonfunctional. My mom was the woman laying on the floor like you would see in wine and roses, you know, she was a hot mess. So this is where it led for her. And so 10 years into my nursing career, I really started to wake up and I'm looking around and I said, my God, nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed. And let's not forget, there's children on the backside of all of these men and women who are caught up in addiction. So we are in essence cultivating a whole new generation of addicts and alcoholics because growing up in these environments with drug and alcohol fueled parents. I know as a child I was traumatized by it. My father was rather abusive. He's trying to control my mother's alcoholism, which is absolutely uncontrollable. She was incapable of parenting. So we basically raised ourselves. I have two older sisters and a younger brother and we've all been touched by addiction in our own lives. So this, you know, we're just perpetuating the mess. And so celebrating all these boozy outings and events, it's like what happens behind the scenes? Is anybody aware of that? Does anybody care?
Allan: 12:02 Yeah. And you know, from my perspective, you know the times that you know, where, where I would think, you know, I kind of get, for lack of a better word, dependent on the alcohol is I'm very much an introvert. And so if I'm going to go to a party or an event, which obviously here on the Island, just because all the time, you know, a couple of drinks makes me human. Um, from their perspective, um, when I'm not drinking and you know, there's always, my wife will get some questions. It's like, what's wrong with Allan? Just like, Oh this is, this is just half. He hasn't had a couple of drinks. I'll give them a couple of drinks and he'll be nice. There'll be a normal person in small groups, one or two, one on ones. I'm fine. But when I get into larger groups or you know, in places with people, it just, I shut down. And so the alcohol kind of just helps me loosen up a little bit.
Lisa: 12:51 Well, I get it. I think you're not alone. I think the majority, I know that I was very similar when I was drinking. It's like you have to have a few drinks before you get to the party. But when I got sober, I started to number one, be true to myself. So I'm not a big large gathering kind of person. I stopped going to a lot of them. My husband's more of an extrovert and I talked about this in the book. So how do you juggle a relationship, a marriage, whatever when one person drinks and one person's social and the other one is kind of how like you Allan. So I just told my husband there was, you know, pick a few parties that we are regularly invited to that you really want me to go to and I'll go. And the ones that are just, I don't feel the need to go anymore.
I prefer more meaningful activities, smaller intimate dinners or gatherings. Like I said, I've just had other things that I do with my time now then suffer through some huge event or gathering that I really don't want to be at to begin with. So it's, it's picking and choosing and being true to myself. And you know, I started to, when you work on your inner-self and some of the drinking was fueled by low self esteem. Some of my drinking was fueled by thinking, people are focused on me. This self-centeredness, that alcoholism breeds where we think people are going to notice us or look at us. And so we're self conscience. But the reality is is most people are in their own heads, focused on their own stuff and they're really not paying attention to us. I used to say that all the time, I have two grown sons now, but when they were in high school, my one son was always so worried what everybody else would think. And I used to say to him, they're not focused on you. Get out of yourself the, I mean, you're just another kid walking. They're not even paying attention to you. And I hope that that helped them get some of that spotlight off of thinking that people are focused on them when they're really not, when they're really not. So we can find other ways to love ourselves and just to say no, it's okay to say no and just not do certain things that I don't want to do anymore.
Allan: 15:15 Yes. Now in the book, um, you're coming from a woman's perspective, but that is in this book was somewhat written more for women and their perspective. Why, why is alcohol more of an issue for women, uh, than it might be for men?
Lisa: 15:29 Well, I don't know that, that it is actually in Raising the Bottom. I focus more on women only because I am a woman and I can intimately relate it to. But I will tell you before I scare off the guys, there's men love the book. Men love Raising the Bottom. In fact, there was a guy who founded in Seattle, he's a merchant Marine. He took it out to sea with him. He found me on Twitter months later and said it was life changing for him. And he's still sober by the way. So I think men really like it because they can read it and almost say like, wow, I can relate to all of this without feeling threatened at all. So I don't want to scare men off by reading the book, but I can relate to more of the women's issues and how we're responsible a lot of times for family and we get a lot of things dumped on our shoulders.
And I know men have stressors as much too, but I will say this, it seems like men do better at saying, Hey buddy, I quit drinking and their friends kind of respect that boundary I think better than women because I have a lot of women that tell me they really struggle with their so called friend groups who don't really want to be friends with them once they quit drinking and all this. And I find that so disheartening for many reasons. Number one, if your friend group is of that mentality, they're probably super heavy drinkers and they probably, I know when I was drinking, I hung out with people who drank like me. I was not hanging out with normal drinkers. And so I didn't realize there were people who didn't drink like I did that there were people who might have drinks a couple of times a month and then that was it.
And they were the true social drinkers who had a big life and were involved in many other things and their life did not revolve around alcohol. So the people that I socialize with were very much different and we drank every night and had parties and gatherings and we called ourselves social drinkers. So when you have that, like I said, want to boot people out or say they can't be friends or whatnot, and women seem to care about that and I tell them, well you don't need those people then find new friends. And I don't know why that's so threatening to some. And I think in order to change your life, to get sober, to maybe drink less, whatever it is that you decide you want to do, you have to be willing to face a little bit of pushback, which leads me to, as adults, why are we pushing back?
Why do we have to have this peer pressure, this adult peer pressure? When I used to go to gatherings early in my recovery and you're, I'm so uncomfortable anyway cause you feel this shame cause you're like quitting drinking and I don't, now I look back and go, Oh my goodness, what was I thinking? Um, but it's like we feel shame for doing something good for ourselves. If you go to a party and they have all these sweets and you refuse a sweet, nobody questions you. But if you go and you refuse to joy a drink, you get the 20 questions. If you're a young woman, Oh, are you pregnant? Oh, why aren't you drinking? Oh, are you on medication? I mean, it's ridiculous. And so I tell people, men and women, no, is a complete sentence, no thank you. We don't need to explain ourselves. And if somebody has a problem with me not drinking, it's usually because they have a drinking problem and they're very uncomfortable with that mirror of someone not drinking to kind of almost co-sign on their BS. So we can navigate these drinking. I go wherever I want, I do what I want. I have a very big life, but I just don't drink. And for the most part, nobody really cares. Like I said, the only people who I've ever really cared that I'm not drinking are people that ended up having their own problems with alcohol.
Allan: 19:51 Yeah. Now, this last month, uh, we ran a challenge, um, and I included an alcohol piece to it and I didn't say completely abstain from alcohol, but we're going to cut it back and continue to kind of regrets it and cut it back. I've had no alcohol challenges in the past and the turn around was relatively small. Um, so it'll be interesting as people get into, you know, the results of going through the challenge. People are improving their health there, they're losing weight. Uh, you know, that's part of the, the gist of the whole thing. Uh, so alcohol, you know, I think we all know alcohol can lead to weight gain, uh, and stopping drinking can actually help you in your weight loss journey. But there are other health things that we should consider with regards to alcohol. Could you kind of get into some of that?
Well, I mean, Oh my gosh, alcohol impacts really every organ in our body. So let's quit diluting ourselves and say, Oh, it's not that bad. It caused the seven types of cancer that's been proven definitively. Alcohol is a class one carcinogenic. So it is in the same class as asbestos. Now nobody is going to tell you that. And the research on that is when you, if you Google it, you're gonna have to dig a little bit. Cause that's not something that pops up immediately. But Oh, believe me, it's there. So in addition to like for men, there's a lot of throat cancers, esophageal cancers, stomach cancers, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and women with breast cancer. I know when I got into recovery here again, I started paying attention and I'm like, Oh my God, so much breast cancer in these women. And then years later I'm researching, doing all this research for Raising the Bottom.
And the light bulb went out and I went, well my God, no wonder all these alcoholic women have breast cancer. It's the booze. I mean we can't say for sure that it's the sole cause, I'm sure there's environmental factors. Stress is a huge one, but a lot of people drink because they can't handle their stress because they don't have good coping skills. So it all ties in together. Um, you've got people, when I was working in the ER, people who are diabetic drinking heavily, their blood sugars are all over the place. They're coming into the hospital because now they're having kidney failure from their unchecked diabetes because they were drinking too much. They're getting coronary artery disease from their unchecked diabetes because they couldn't stop drinking so much. So there are so many ways that alcohol and the alcohol turns to sugar in our body.
So you're just getting this bombardment of sugar, which causes inflammation. Let's move on to the brain. The extended care facilities. Nursing homes are filled with people who have a long history of drinking. Lot of alcoholics end up in the nursing homes. Lot of people with longterm benzo abuse or I don't even want to say abuse, people tend to get on those benzos and they stay on them for the next 30 years because the withdrawal to get off is so awful. They just stay on them. And I think that's how they were designed by the pharmaceutical companies. So they give you this benzo when you're 25 to help you not feel anxious and when you're 60, you're still taking it and pretty soon the mind just goes to mush. So these are things that people don't really understand about how and what it can do.
In the last five years I've seen a big uptick in women that are yellow because women do not have, we lack the chemical that helps to break down alcohol. Men have more of the, Oh, I was, that's a tongue twister for me to say. It's ADH is the, the short, but we women lack ADH. Men have more of it. So that's why men can kind of skate along and drink maybe a little longer and a little harder without it totally impacting them physically. Like at, well a woman, um, women go downhill much faster. And that's, I talk a lot about that Raising the Bottom because that was instrumental for me. Why I got sober when I did, because I saw how quickly once my mother crossed that line from drinking martinis at lunch to becoming a full blown alcoholic. Her demise was Swift.
Her, she ended up looking like she was nine months pregnant, her skin was yellow, she was dying, she was, she was dying. And that happened in a span of five years. So I'm seeing a lot more of that that I didn't see 10 or 15 years ago. I've been in health care for 25 years now. So that is new and it's all attributed, I believe, to the pharmaceutical, or I'm sorry, the alcohol, big alcohol is doing a very, very good job of spending their billions of dollars in ad budgets to target women. And so the new alcoholic often is well educated. She makes a good living. She wears designer pumps and she carries a diaper bag. And this is the new alcoholic of what we're facing. So now let me ask you this, Allan, what happens to those children on the backside in this boozy mom? Well, they end up like me probably will land in their own addiction later on because when you have a mother who's all about the party time, you're not present. You're missing a lot of the nuances that I know with my twins I was able to pick up on, I was two weeks sober when I found out I was pregnant with twins and I'm so grateful that I was a sober mom who was fully present. Both my sons went on to become division one athletes. Both of my sons went to college, they graduated college playing football. And I can just assure you it would've been a very, very different picture had I not been sober. Our family would've been very different.
Allan: 26:32 Now there are a lot of people that will say, okay, you know, and I don't drink that much. You know, I just have a couple drinks here and there and like you said, social drinkers. Um, I was actually reading a study the other day or there's actually several studies out there that show that we're, we're really not good at self-reporting what we eat, what we drink. Uh, so you know, if they ask you what you had for dinner last week and in general, um, you are going to under-report your calories, um, you're gonna report more healthy food than you actually ate. Um, and if you drank alcohol, you're probably gonna report less drinks than you probably drank. But you know, this is an alcoholism is actually something that unless you self-diagnose, nothing's going to change for you.
Lisa: 27:15 And you're absolutely right. So what changed my life was getting honest with myself because the standard alcoholic answer is I had two, Oh, I only had two beers. I only had two drinks. They always only have two. Yeah. So you're right, people lie. And so that's why doctors that are tuned in, most doctors are clueless about alcoholism. Some of the stuff that comes out of the psychiatrist's mouth that I hear like, Oh, it just drives me crazy. They'll say things like, Oh, they used to be an alcoholic, but now they just, they're using meth or something crazy like that. So like they just switched addictions is what they did. But back to your point. Yeah. So we lie, alcoholics lie, we all know that. Um, if you want to change your life, be honest. Nobody can, you know, I knew two years before I quit drinking that I was drinking too much, that I was crossing a line.
I had a home bar that I loved and I knew everybody kinda like on cheers. Everyone knew my name. And when I go, we used to go in there and start asking the person sitting on my right and left, who, or by the way, drinking right along with me and say, do you think I drink too much? And of course they're like, ah, I have no, you're fine. You know, what are they going to say? Yeah, you're drinking. So, but, but that was already, that was those early warning signs. Something was not resonating within my soul. And I knew, I knew that it was not, um, I don't even want to say abnormal, but it was abnormal for me because it's like people get so caught up on quantity. Like I said, I was not a daily drinker. I did not drink a fifth a day.
However, when I drank, I get a few drinks in me. There were times I absolutely could stop and I would be your designated driver. And there were other times I could not stop. So there was that unpredictability factor, which is indicative of potential alcoholism. There was the fact of how it affected my personality. I'm a pretty even keeled person. I'm not a drama queen by any stretch. Give me a few drinks. I know we're going to have drama. It's either going to be, I'm going to create something, I'm going to start a fight. I'm going to shoot my mouth off inappropriately pick, pick anything I would just do and things that I'd never would do and say sober. So that was another clue to me. I was losing my moral compass. That was another tip off where you start to rationalize and justify lying.
You know, I don't know, it was never really a thief, but I'm sure that could have come where, you know, you take 20 bucks out of your husband's wallet, don't bother to tell him, Hey, I took 20 bucks and you start, you know, I didn't do that then, but I could see where I could have maybe segwayed into that kind of behavior. And we tend to rationalize things like, Oh, that's fine, that's fine. Well now actually in sobriety it's about getting rigorously honest, living right, doing the right thing. And so I was really losing my way that way. And I don't know that I would have saw it as early as I did had. Again. My mother was instrumental in my recovery because she sobered up when I was in my early twenties, and I saw her change dramatically. So by the time I got sober, my mother had seven years sobriety under her belt, and she had morphed into this amazing mom that I think I wished I always had.
But it can impact us in so many ways. And I just really want people to understand you've got to throw out all these old ideas that an alcoholic has to look a certain way because no, there are no demographics, there are no boundaries. And I'll tell you the worst nightmare for an alcoholic is money. There's a lot of alcoholism. My father goes to Benito Springs in the winter and I go down there. So you've got a lot of affluent people in the Naples, Sarasota area. And as a nurse I see the loose blouses and the big livers and the guys in their golf shirts with their big livers sticking out. And it's just, Oh my God, I almost can't stand it because there's just so much. Their lives are golfing and drinking and eating and there's going to be a lot of, you know, earlier deaths because this is what they do and they, this is their social life, which is fine, but it's, um, it's scary and a lot of ways to me when I see how sick some of these people look and they don't even see it.
Allan: 32:01 Yeah. Now in your recovery and in your mother's recovery, you utilize the 12 step.
Lisa: 32:07 I did. Yes.
Allan: 32:09 So even that wasn't on your plan. Can you kind of just quickly kind of go through, cause I think you kind of hit on some of those points of getting honest with yourself. Um, and, and I think the 12 steps is actually kind of that approach to actually making that happen and making it real in your life. Not just an exercise you do over the course of a weekend, uh, at a seminar. But this is something that you have to live and do over course of quite a long time,
It becomes a way of life. Allan, I know people go to rehab and I just need to throw this out there. So many people go to rehab in their families think, Oh, they're cured. No, Nope. That is just the tip of the iceberg because a lot of people go to rehab just to get people off their back and they have no intention of really doing the hard work. It takes working on the core insight issues. However you choose to do that. I like the 12 step because it gives you a roadmap to do that. And really the first step is we have to admit we have a problem. So I don't care what recovery method you're going to use, smart recovery, whatever. Um, you have to admit you have a problem because you can't, I mean, it's almost like if someone who's overweight, you have to admit, okay, I decide I need to lose weight.
Until you're ready to accept that about yourself, you're not going to change it. And then the 12 steps really help a person look at their issues. I can. So what were some of mine? I was a very fear based person, which I didn't realize that. Um, so I had to look at how as a child my predominant emotion was fear. And I covered up with that fear with a lot of false bravado. A big mouth, that kind of thing. So I had to look at that. I had to forgive my parents. They did the best they could. I didn't think they did a great job raising me. Um, since I did kind of raise myself along with my siblings. Now I have a sister who stayed in addiction 40 years because she couldn't, she liked to blame my parents as opposed to taking responsibility as an adult.
Okay. Our childhood wasn't great, but it, it could have been worse. And I'm an adult now and I'm going to make the choice to make my life better and be a different parent to my children. And, and my sister couldn't do that. So yeah, you have to. And then it's about, it really focuses too on getting out of yourself. I mean, alcoholism is, We have to get humble. It's that I'm going to do it my way disease. It's a disease that is riddled with pride. People can be almost homeless and they still think they know what they're doing. They're unwilling to listen. They've lost four jobs, they're on their third marriage and they still swear they don't have a problem that you see over and over again. Anybody who's been married more than well, even three times, it's usually alcohol is in the picture there somewhere.
One of the persons involved was drinking and my older sister, she's on her third marriage. Yep. Alcohol has been involved in each one of those marriages, so we have to get honest about, we can't blame everybody else. It comes back to what are we covering up inside of us and dealing with that and working on the issues. Having that humility to say, I can't do this. Making amends to the people that we have harmed people. Moms especially, they say, Oh, I'm not harming anyone. Well, yes you are, because your kids may be well fed and you might get them to their soccer practices. But when you're standing on the sidelines with a cocktail in your hand, you're not really focused on the present moment. You're focused on, Oh, when this cocktail is empty, I got a hall over to my friend's cooler and get a refill.
And it's just a very selfish, myopic way of life, the drinking life. And most people don't really see it until they do get sober. And then the last factor is it's about helping others and doing it freely and willingly and giving of, you know, I do, I work with a lot of women. Recovery coaching is like really big now. I don't charge because it was freely given to me. And so it's an honor and a privilege to help a woman who is struggling, who says they want to change their life and then to give them some simple directions that they follow and their lives begin to change in amazing ways. So that is a gift. So it's, it's really a way of life and it's part of my life that I've just incorporated into my life and it's just who I am and what I do.
I go to meetings three a week, I work with others and I write books and I'm still in there sometimes.
Allan: 37:17 Lisa, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get that stay well.
Lisa: 37:22 The obvious Allen exercise, eat right, but here are, here are the three that I think are really helpful. Number one, stop people pleasing because that a lot of times people, people please. Then they have resentments which fuels eating and drinking and anger. So people are very angry, so stop people pleasing. If you really don't want to do something, I mean other than things that like we have to do, like go to work or whatever, but stop people pleasing so that you're not resentful. Number two, get engaged in something outside of yourself. As I said, help others. People are depressed, they're anxious.
Well, when you're only focused on your own depression and anxiety, it almost fuels it. Whereas if you're focused on helping somebody else, getting out of yourself, the anxiety and depression is cut in half. So I would suggest find something, find a hobby, find a way to help others. And you will watch happiness. Um, quotion expand exponentially. And number three, which is no problem for you down there in Panama, get out in nature people, 89% of adults spend 15 minutes or less a day in nature. Oh my gosh, no wonder we're drinking, right? Because you're around, you're in these sterile environments, be it an office or whatever. And then you go from that to your car, to your house. And I don't think, I mean, well, let's go back to hunters and gatherers. We're meant to be outdoors. You know, the trees, the greenery. There is a chemical in this greenery called Fido signs, and it is proven in Japan.
They call it shouldn't ring Yoku. They don't give out a lot of antidepressants in Japan, they prescribed nature walks and force bathing. So this fight assigns in the trees, helps to increase your immunity, decrease depression, decrease anxiety. So why are we not doing more of these sorts of things and forth? The drinkers know this does not mean you go sit under a Palm tree and have five drains that doesn't count, but maybe go walk amongst the butterflies or I think you mentioned early, maybe before we started taking that you'd have a rain forest nearby. I mean, what a gift. I can't imagine how amazing that would be to walk through this rain for some of this nature. Chirping and chattering above your head. These are things that really can make you feel so much better. And I wonder if people just, if they decided to do something like that every day as opposed to drink five drinks, maybe have one drink after you go on a nature walk and maybe that had be enough and you just had a drink. Your life could be really different in just something as small as those sorts of little changes can have huge impacts when you realize like, wow, I took that walk and I was fully present and engaged in my surroundings. I mean, I can't tell you how many people get sober and say, Oh my God, for the first time I like, I smelled winter or I saw spring. This is what taking alcohol out of a life can do. It's like ripping off the veil or the scales. It's like you see things just totally different.
Allan: 41:06 Lisa, thank you so much. If someone wanted to get in touch with you, learn more about the book (Raising the Bottom), learn more about what you're doing, where would you like for me to send them?
Lisa: 41:15 They can go to my website raisingthebottom.com. I'm on Facebook under Lisa Boucher award-winning author. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram at raising the bottom.
Allan: 41:26 Okay, well you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/406 and I'll be sure to have them there. So Lisa, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Lisa: 41:15 Thank you, Allan. This was a pleasure. I enjoyed talking with you.
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At the age of 35, Moira Berman decided to use weight lifting to change the way her body looked and felt. Despite the late start, she went on to compete in bodybuilding competitions and to work as a trainer. She is producing an online video summit called Fit Beyond Fifty set to release later this month.
Allan: 01:18 Moira, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Moira: 01:21 Thank you so much, Allan. This is really exciting to be on your show.
Allan: 01:25 Thank you. And I was very proud when you invited me to be a part of your summit, the Fit Beyond Fifty. I really enjoyed our interview. And so I know, if, if you liked the podcast and you'd like today's showing that resonates with you, you're definitely going to like that conversation with Moira and me because it was a really good interview and, I really enjoyed it. So thank you for letting me be a part of the summit.
Moira: 01:48 Oh, sure. And I think the best part was maybe when you knocked over the mic.
Allan: 01:57 The summit is video. So you know, this is, this is an audio podcast, so you don't see me moving my arms around and you know, just doing all the things that I do while I'm articulating and talking. But yeah, had my computer propped up so I had good angle and better lighting in the house we have here in the jungle and boom, I knocked the computer over. It was, it was a moment.
Moira: 02:22 It was pretty good though.
Allan: 02:26 One of the things I like about your story that, and I really wanted to kind of get into is that like a lot of folks, you knew that eating well was, was something that you needed to do to kind of maintain your weight. So you would, you would go on a diet, lose a little bit of weight, put on a little bit of weight, and finally you kinda heard someone or resonated with you at least a little bit better. That maybe weightlifting resistance training was, it was something you needed to do.
Moira: 02:57 Yes, I had, I said being dieting, you know, you sort of do the yoyo. I was doing writing, I took exercise classes, but someone said to me, you know, if you used weights, if would change your body shape. And that was all I had to here, body shape will change. Okay, I'm in. So that's how I got started. But I didn't really know what I was doing. I had a friend show me how to use the weights and one of the small YMCA gyms that is now near us. And then when I got hooked on that cause it, it seems like fun. I was being, I was able to push a little bit more and more weight and I thought I was just really terrific. So I joined a gym and there weren't many, they weren't many gyms. There was, there were women gyms that were purely women and they had a few machines or some they aerobics and there were men's gyms.
Moira: 03:56 You know, this was going back a while, but one enterprising gym owner had opened up a women's gym above his men's gym because the men wouldn't let us work out with them, obviously. They were hardcore. So we had our own gym above there's, but we had access to the men who would show us things and, and they had some trainers who would show us. So that was really the start. And it absolutely did as I went forward because I was hooked, it did change the way my body looked, so I was really happy.
Allan: 04:34 Yeah, it is hard to explain to somebody that once you start lifting and you start getting stronger and you kind of get that rush of the pump of moving weight and feeling it, it, that it is something much like running, much like most other exercise programs, it's easy to get addicted to.
Moira: 04:56 It really is. And I was definitely, I was definitely addicted to it that I moved forward and got so involved that I did a contest. Luckily I was so naive. I had no idea what I was really doing or what I was in for that. I just followed the directions of some of the guys in the gym and just went for it, lost some weight. Put on a little bit of muscle and entered. I think that's probably the best way to do these things when you don't know too much.
Allan: 05:26 Yeah. Because there's, there's less opportunity for you to overthink it.
Moira: 05:31 That's right. Or get or find stumbling blocks because, you know, once you have a lot of information, then your mind starts telling you, Oh, but you can't do this. Oh, but you don't compare with the others or you know, Oh, but. But I just thought, I'm gonna get, you know, 90 seconds on stage. Wow. That's more than I'm gonna get for anything else. So yeah, I'm going for it.
Allan: 05:56 We did about something, and I, and I want to kind of get into this because this is one of the major objections. I'll, I'll have a conversation with a woman and invariably she'll tell me, well, you know, I don't want to get huge. I don't want to get bulky. If I lift weights, my legs are going to get just bigger and I don't need them to get bigger. I want them to get smaller. When you talk about changing body shape, you're not talking about turning into a man?
Moira: 06:20 Oh no, definitely. When I was talking about body shape, for me it was losing kind of what I thought was excess fat on my thighs, my legs, toning my arms, you know? That's what I thought about body changing. It was clear to me from an early age for some reason that women had a lot more trouble building muscle and this is borne out. We don't build muscle as readily as men. And when you do see, bulking of sorts, usually it's a little bit of muscle that's developing and women are still carrying the fat over the muscle. But once you lose that fat, you can, you get these long lean muscles. So it's hard to bulk up with a lot of muscle for women. And this you really go out and try, you know your genetics are right. You might get some help with some pharmaceuticals.
Allan: 07:19 That's where I wanted you to go with this because I think that's what they say, that there's two. I think there's two real huge misconceptions when they look in the magazines or they see one of these huge muscular girls that's a bodybuilder. There's two things that that woman's doing that you're not going to do. One is she's going to take steroids and a lot of times you can see it in their face because they're faced with structure changes. The other thing that you'll often see is, is the fact that they're in the gym six hours a day and sleeping the rest of the time. Because the sessional bodybuilders, that's, that's their job is to lift weights and exercise and get big. So they're in the gym. If they're not lifting, they're working on their posing. If they're not working on their posing, they're working on their tan, and they're trying to cut the body fat down to just is really unreasonable number that you can't sustain for a long period of time. And so they're doing these things that you just, you wouldn't do, you just wouldn't spend the time to do this because it's not your priority in your life. If you're looking to get healthy, you do need to do resistance training because you are losing muscle mass and you're losing bone density pretty much every day.
Moira: 08:31 Yes, that's right. And you know, I heard those same stories when I was, body building. You know, I was influencing friends or they were asking me and invariably the questions came about, aren't you worried about getting too big? And my answer was, I wish if I could, if I could get some more muscle, that would be absolutely wonderful because it does take, and I was already thirty-five, thirty-six. So I had age against me in terms of rarely getting a lot of muscle. So yet we don't as women, unless you get some outside assistance like pharmaceuticals as we said, you know, steroids and it's really important too. And what I found then was, okay, now I have being doing the body building. I'm not competing anymore, but I still need to maintain working out with weights. And then the motivation was because I realized that it was going to help keep my bones strong. Just keep my muscles from atrophying, my muscles strong, keep me healthy, I'm going to look more vibrant. And just the hormones that you release from lifting weights, especially if you work out, you know, reasonably hard, the hormones are going to release, they're going to just have a bearing on keeping you younger. That's definitely important
Allan: 10:03 Heavy lifting, and this as something, women do have testosterone, they don't have as much as men. That's why they can't get as muscular as men. Um, unless they, they use steroids then then anything's possible. But lifting heavy weights helps men and women release a little bit more testosterone and a little bit more testosterone is just kind of one of those chemicals in our bodies that just make us feel a lot better, look a lot better. And our muscle tone and quality of our movement is just better.
Moira: 10:34 That's right. And I, I learned recently that women actually produce more HGH, the growth hormone when they work out than men do. Men produce more testosterone but women produce more HGH, which is the hormone to keep us younger. So we've got an advantage when we workout. We may not get the testosterone, but we're gonna look younger.
Allan: 11:01 Now you said something and I, and I think this has changed quite a bit, but, um, I do want to talk about this cause I had lots of clients and lots of people I've talked to over the years and it's, you walk into the gym. And most gyms, you see the treadmills and then after the treadmills, then they have some of the machines and then after the machines over in that little corner over there and sometimes a whole section in the gym. Now you see all the free weights and yes, the big guys are back there lifting probably grunting and doing their thing. And there's now whole series is of chains and whatnot that are trying to get away from that so people feel less intimidated about the gym back, you know, 20, 30, 40 years ago, it was all guys in the gym for the most part. Then they started coming out with women's gyms and most of those were like you said, not so much designed for muscle building, resistance training, strength training, those types of things. But things have changed a lot. You know, the advent of CrossFit, other things, people, we're more used to having women come back into the freeway section and lift heavy. We're seeing it more and more so it's not as different or, you know, I guess unusual, as it was 30, 40, 50 years ago.
Moira: 12:20 That's so true. I think there's still an intimidation factor for someone going in for the first time, but it's not the same as it was. It isn't just because there are men there. I think it's because the thing, all these fit people, and as you said, CrossFit, that can be intimidating for anyone walking into that kind of place.
Allan: 12:44 Yeah, I agree. I think the, you know, but what I mean by this is, and this is the point, okay, yeah. You see this, this big hunky guy, you know, he's, he's lifting heavy weights. He's grunting, he's there with maybe two or three of his buddies. You know, they're doing their thing. And I can tell you straight away they're not interested in you. They're, they're happy you're there cause you're helping to support their gym. You know, their gym membership. If it was just the three of them paying for this gym, it'd be a lot more expensive. The fact that there's 200 people that have signed up for the gym means a gym membership is affordable for everybody, and they're not all having to buy their own equipment and they can come work out. They're happy to see you in the gym. They're happy to see you do things for your health. They're not staring you down. They're not watching you. And I'll tell you just from my experience, okay, the only time I notice anyone in the gym is when they're doing something that could hurt themselves.
Moira: 13:38 Yes.
Allan: 13:38 But I, I reserve and I stay back. Now I'm, I own a gym. So if I were to see someone doing something, I thought that hurt them, I'm going to step up and say something. But those individuals are there for a particular purpose. They didn't get big and strong by sitting around watching other people are playing on their phone. They come in the gym, they do their workout. Yes, they may have longer rest because they are lifting heavier weights, but they're not really there too to watch you. They're there to get their workout done and you're just as welcome to that equipment just as welcome to being in the gym as anyone.
Moira: 14:12 That's true. In fact, I was kind of hit, you know, going to hit there that we were intimidated at one time by seeing those men in the gym. I think, I think that most people are less intimidated, especially if you, if as you said, you just realize that they are only too happy that you are joining so that they don't have to pay the full cost of keeping a gym open. But I think that there are some of us just as people were intimidated going into a new situation. Yeah. I think for, for women in particular, if it is the time, I'd suggest that you go with a friend to a gym. And especially if you're going into one of the chains, they're immediately going to offer to show you around because they don't want you doing something. It might hurt yourself and they'll offer you one or two days, maybe have some free advice, free training just to get you going. And so that's really good. It is good too. If you are going into a gym for the first time to get a trainer, to get someone to show you how to use the equipment to find out what you should be doing for your body. You know, the kind of work that you do, Allan is just perfect because you actually analyze what the person needs and then give them a program. So anyone who got that advice from you would feel quite comfortable going into a gym
Allan: 15:45 And you've hit on something that's really important there. You know the gym thrives on, on people not hurting themselves for the millennial coming in there and continuing their membership, and for them to get stronger and show improvement. And they're going to probably, when you get in there, they're going to probably ask you if it's particularly, it's a big box, you know, franchise style gym. They're going to introduce you to their staff. They're going to introduce you to the gym. They're going to, you know, probably do some general assessment work with you and that may or may not be free, but they're going to make sure that you have a, an opportunity to start and access to support of a trainer to help you do that. Now, most gyms will also do this. They will have their personal trainers walking the floor when they're not training someone.
Allan: 16:34 And it's their job to help you if you have a question now that, yeah, not going to train you for free, but if you walk up and you say, look, I want to move from the barbell over here for the bench press or want to move away from this press machine and I want to do the same exercise with free weights, with the dumbbells. Could you show me how to do this properly? And they will be glad to do so. So if you feel uncomfortable, ask a trainer that's there, asked the person at the desk if someone can come show you how to do an exercise properly because it's, that's very, very important that you not hurt yourself. Particularly when we're over 40, over 50. Those injuries don't heal nearly as quickly as they did when we were in our twenties.
Moira: 17:21 That's right. You know, things have changed a little bit. Um, I worked in a gym at the time that I was training for, or sorry, after I had completed the competitions, the gym kind of offered me a free membership. If I would work in the gym, you know, a couple of days a week or a few hours a day. So I would, I would be one of those trainers. I would train people if we had a meeting set up or my job was to walk around the gym. I find it much less so today that they actually walk around helping people. They use the up back at their stations looking at, you know, who else is signing up. So that is a shame. I just have to mention now that isn't every gym, every, you know, all gyms are different, but no one should feel intimidated to go up and find a trainer or find one, you know, one of the staff and ask them to help you with something even if they're not walking the floor because that's what they are really there for. And they will, you're right there. They will be absolutely helpful once you ask them because they don't want anyone to be hurting themselves. So don't feel shy about walking up to someone who happens to be sitting at one of the desks and ask them for advice. Just show you how, how maybe there's a machine that you don't know that you haven't used before. Ask them to show you how it works.
Allan: 18:43 Yeah, it's, it's, it's just, it's funny, you know, because to me, the, that's part of the lifeblood of any gym is their willingness to help, help people without having to make an extra buck, you know, on the side. I actually, you know, with the gym now, one of the things that I've done at my gym is I actually will throw free weight lifting clinics for beginners. And I'm like, okay, come in on a Saturday, I'll come in for an hour, I'll show you how to use all the equipment in the gym absolutely free and you'll leave here with a workout program, the basic workout program to get you started. And so, you know, I did one of those and it went over pretty good. The people that came really enjoyed it. I'm going to host another one here soon at the gym. Gut I also do the online training.
Allan: 19:30 So you know, there are other options out there if the gym is not supporting you by, having the support there with people walking around or you know, you're able to afford to have personal training sessions because if you're having them all the time, which is actually really good for accountability, for doing the exercises properly and, and just, you know, somebody that is going to be there to kind of push you a little bit harder. If they're not doing that, you know, give me a call. I'll be glad to help you out.
Moira: 19:57 Yes, that's true. And I agree with you that having a train particularly when you starting out is absolutely worth the money because you want to learn how to do things properly. You want to get a program and you want that accountability. And then when you feel comfortable to workout on your own that you're motivated to go into the gym without having to, you know, show up for an appointment, then it's great. You've got your program and you can continue. I think I once wrote an article in a blog going back a while, so it's probably out of date was how to hire a trainer.
Allan: 20:35 I've actually done an episode on what to what, what to look for in a trainer. And when to fire a trainer (https://40plusfitnesspodcast.com/fire-personal-trainer/). A trainer should be listening more than they're talking. A trainer should be paying attention to what's going on with you? Um, you know, I have some clients, they're not always happy with what I tell them to do. Sometimes I'm actually asking them to do more and there's times I'm actually asking them to do less. And they don't always understand the do less part, but it's when I see a client can't handle the exercises they're doing or the form is just not right there. I'm not going to put load on them. And I think what a lot of people forget, it's like, well, I can lift more weight. And I'm like, not the way you're doing it. You're going to break and I don't want to break you. You and I have something very well in common. We both tore our rotator cuffs.
Moira: 21:25 Yes, we did. I think we we empathize with each other, but we didn't approach it the same.
Allan: 21:33 We approached it very differently. I went through the surgery and when the doctor got in there, he was like, this was a bad one. Uh, but I went through the surgery, went through the therapy and I'm in pretty good shape. All things considered. I lost a lot of strength as a result. I have a little divot in my shoulder as a result. But you know, I have full range of motion with my shoulder, and I'm able to do most of the things I was able to do just not quite as strong. But that was my path. You chose a different path.
Moira: 22:04 Yes. I think when I had, when I tore mine, I was a little older than you were when you tore yours. We won't go into detail, but the doctor I went to, you looked at me very, I thought very honestly, he spoke to me very honestly and he said that I had an 80% chance of recovery. And I know that you said that would have been a plus for you. For me, that was a minus. And I was very fortunate that I found a functional rehab trainer, online actually. He lives in Australia, but he did marvelous for me because he said to me, he looks at the MRI size and said, I can help you get your full strength back in a different way and not have this pain and not have the surgery. So it wasn't that if you decide to have the surgery, I'll help you recover.
Moira: 23:01 But he said, I would recommend that you don't. So I decided to trust him and I'm very pleased that I did because I do. I have full range of motion. I have a lot of the strength back. I won't say it's exactly the same as it was, but I just am using the muscles differently and using different muscles to compensate, and I don't even notice it anymore because I've trained my brain, I guess, to just do things in a different way. So yeah, we chose different paths. Both had success, which is, which just I think shows there's no one way, and I think whatever you believe is going to work for you is the thing that's going to work
Allan: 23:41 As long as you're willing to dedicate the time and the effort to do what's necessary. So the one thing we did have in common was I was in therapy, physical therapy. I had the surgery on Thursday, I was in physical therapy Monday. And you listened to your therapist and you did exactly as he instructed you to do and you built compensating muscles to allow you to move and do the things you needed to do. So we chose different paths for different reasons and different ways that we look at things. So I agree with you. There's a, you have to look at this and say, but the injury is not a give up. The injury is actually a flag for me, do more, but do it differently or do something different to, to fix this, to solve this, to work around this. But, so many people will injure themselves and decide, okay, this hurts. Therefore I'm going to stop.
Moira: 24:41 Exactly. It's so tempting to do that. I have to say that I have a functional trainer that regardless of what I say I've heard, he will give me an exercise to fix it so that I don't slow down. It's a, it doesn't mean I go, okay, I can't go running, you know. No, no, you can just use your leg this way. Not that way. You know, he said he does not believe in stopping for a second. And if you have someone that you trust like that, and if you're the kind of person, as you said, who is motivated to continue around, over or through what might be a challenge, then you definitely come out stronger and better on the other side.
Allan: 25:26 Yeah. I, I have a client and, um, he right now and he's, he's done so good. He works so hard and he's addicted to it, for lack of a better word. He's having issues with his elbow. So when we do any kind of pull movement, we have to be very careful, with his elbow. And he has now some arthritis in his shoulder. And so when we're doing push movements, particularly overhead, we to be very careful about those push movements and he's, you know, he's making some decisions on how he wants to deal or if he wants to deal with those medically, but there is pain involved. So we're, we're trying to modify the movements, we're trying to do all of those things that you said functionally allow him to do the things, because I told him it's basically tendonitis in the elbow.
Allan: 26:13 Rest is the primary prescription, but we've tried three weeks of rest and then the pain comes back. So it's like, you know, that this is something more than just what rest might do. He still wants to pull. So I'm like, okay, let's talk about where the pain starts, where it finishes, let's figure out ways to modify the work so that you're still able to build muscle and build strength, without putting yourself in a compromised or painful position. And he's working with me. We're diligently through that process. And it's, it is a process. And it's, it means he's actually had to work harder to get past this. And I'm so proud of him for doing it because a lot of folks would sit there and say, I don't like the pain and I'm quitting, but the pain is actually probably a signal that you need to change something and you probably need to work a little harder to make sure you're doing the right things.
Moira: 27:06 It's actually fascinating because usually we're working with clients who are putting up their own blocks, you know, missing a session, going off exercise for awhile, giving up. But you also have to be careful of clients who are the act the opposite who maybe want to push too hard, push through the pain. You have to slow them down just slightly,
Allan: 27:28 Just slightly. Yeah. Yeah. Because when he told me, I had to do a back workout. I'm like, okay, well let's talk about how you did it, what you felt, where were we, you know? And then we get into the actual exercises and I'm like, okay, let's change this exercise and do this this way. Let's change that exercise and do it that way, and then let me know, report back how that felt. And so each, each week we get on our calls and you know, where we're going through this stuff. And yeah, I've got other clients that if something goes wrong in their day, they're gonna, completely just miss a workout miss, scheduling a call with me. Something like that. And I'm like, no. So I have, I have both sides. You're right. I do have clients that, that required both and I understand both. I've been in that situation where, you know, you can't work out and you really want to, or you just, a time when you, you feel a lot of something going on or DOMS or something like that I really don't want to waddle into the gym today.
Moira: 28:27 That's right. I actually found that happening after I'd been competing, that I was kind of burned out. I would drive to the gym because it was habit, you know, the car just went there and I would sit outside and I remember there were one or two times when I never actually went in. I just thought, no, I'm going home. It was very strange. It was a very strange, I, that's why I remember it so clearly because I just couldn't get myself to go in. So I do understand people who do that.
Allan: 28:58 I've actually had that happen myself. I was working a very stressful job, at a very stressful point in time at that job. And I just like you did, I remember the alarm going off in the morning. This is back when I actually used alarm clocks and the alarm went off in the morning for me to go to the gym and I hit the alarm and I was thinking to myself, I am either going to the gym or I'm going to work because I can't do both.
Moira: 29:27 Yes.
Allan: 29:28 And it was just that understanding that, working out is a stressor. If you're already chronically stressed, sometimes the workout, you do better to spend that 40 minutes meditating or are soaking in an Epson Salt bath or something that's going to distress you, than actually getting in the gym and pushing yourself really hard. So yeah, I think there is an aspect where you do, you do listen to your body, uh, but, but, but don't let that body just to eventually talk you into, uh, well let's, let's drop by Dunkin Donuts and do those types of things. It's more of a conversation of saying, okay, I understand, you know, very stressful week. I'm fatigued, I'm not sleeping well. I would do better with an extra hour of sleep than I would by spending that hour in the gym and gave yourself that permission.
Moira: 30:25 Right, exactly. As long as it doesn't become the habit, it's a very good thing to do. I know you probably had this too. I have friends who will not miss a day. And I keep saying to them, you don't understand that rest is actually good for building muscle and rest is good for the rest of your workout. And you can miss a day. Their habit is to go in every single day and it's almost like an addiction.
Allan: 30:54 Yeah. I just tell him this, professional athletes have de-load periods. A bodybuilder will work hard for, eight weeks and then they'll take a de-load week where they don't lift. The other thing they are doing that a lot of us are not doing is most professional athletes will sleep for eight or nine hours every single night.
Allan: 31:23 And that's because they understand the value of recovery. So you need those de-load weeks. professional athletes that put like the football players. I can tell you as soon as they finish their football season, they take three or four weeks off and unless they need to go in for some form of surgery to rehabilitate for the next season, they just take an act like normal people for three weeks. And they don't go to the gym and they don't exercise and they don't train and then they let their body recover and with that recovery they go to the gym hungry because they didn't feed that desire, that work, you know, that, that, that thing for three weeks. And when they went back in the gym, it was, you know, they were ready to go. But you need that. You need that recovery time.
Moira: 32:09 Absolutely. I'm glad you mentioned that because we are, we are discussing here how to encourage people to get into the gym. But you also say everything in moderation, especially when you start out.
Allan: 32:21 Oh yeah. The way I like to put it, I put it in the book is what you need is you need gentle nudging your body, your body will change. You just have to give it these gentle nudges, the progression to make that happen.
Moira: 32:34 That sounds like a good description. Very good description. I like the gentle nudging. It sounds so much better than get in there and push.
Allan: 32:42 There's little bit pushing in there, too. You want to find that line and, and you know a lot of people you'll hear this term when we talk about resistance training of failure, pushing yourself to failure. You don't have to get to failure for your muscles to grow. You just need an adequate stimulus. Now failure is a is typically a good indication that you definitely have that stimulus. DOMS can be an indicator that you have affected that stimulus, but they should not be the objective. The objective should be where, you know, the muscle was worked, it was worked through the full range of motion and you can feel that you worked at, now you may wake up the next morning and feel just as capable of, go in and do that workout again. Most cases probably not. But as long as you're giving your body that stimulus and then you're giving it the food and the nutrition it needs and then you're giving it the rest, then you're giving full cycle for your body to grow and to get better.
Moira: 33:43 Yes. Exactly, that full cycle. And I like what you said about the sleep because when I, when I was seriously into it, during the competition, I would be in bed by nine o'clock every night getting up at five or six to go train. But I, nothing stopped me from going to bed and getting the full eight to ten hours sleep. I wouldn't, I won't say ten but definitely eight, eight or nine. I get out of that habit
Allan: 34:15 I'm in bed at eight 30 and nine o'clock almost every single night. I have not used an alarm clock in four years unless I have to catch an early morning flight and I'm just don't want to make sure that extra sleep cycle happen. I sleep until I know my body's gotten at least five sleep cycles, which is seven and a half hours. And occasionally my body will want a sixth one, which will put me up to about nine hours. But I just let my body sleep until I wake up and say, okay, I'm good to go. And where I am here in Panama's actually really nice because the days and the nights are relatively the same.
Moira: 34:50 Same, right.
Allan: 34:51 Gets dark around seven o'clock. So by 8:30 it's, it's been dark for a little while. I'm able to just go ahead and go to sleep very easily. And then it gets light around 5:30. So you know, right now pretty much it just the, just that Twilight morning stuff, you know, it's like can see it coming through the window. That's usually my spur to get up. And if I feel it, I do, if not, I'll, I'll go back to sleep and sleep for about another hour and a half, a good sleep cycle. And then I'm up really good at seven o'clock so I know every morning I'm going to be up by seven o'clock for sure. And I plan to start my days usually at nine o'clock. So no problem. I have time to shower and do all the things I want to do, but I don't use alarm clocks and I try to keep my evening activities to a minimum.
Moira: 35:38 I think that's excellent. Um, I think I got into, you know, working full time in corporate field. I got into some bad habits of working late. It was almost expected really. You just had things you did at night. And so I'm slowly getting back into the longer sleep cycles and switching earlier nights and then earlier mornings.
Allan: 36:00 Yeah, I guess I just got, when I got towards the end of my corporate I was like, you know, I've worked my way up to this point. I deserve to rest when I want to rest. And so I would sit down, I'd pull up my phone and I would check email at about seven o'clock at night and after I checked that email at seven o'clock, I'd set my phone in the, in the living room and I'd grab the bedroom and go to sleep. I don't even have the cell phone in my bedroom and so I was out of sight, out of mind. I'd go to sleep when I woke up, like I said, 5:30 in the morning, I would go in there and check my work email because I figure if they stayed up till 11 o'clock working and they sent that email and went to bed, wake up in the morning, and my email response would be there and then I didn't have to be up at 12 o'clock to answer that email if I answer it at five o'clock in the morning. So, I had my own system.
Moira: 36:47 Good habits.
Allan: 36:47 Still stress was a big problem for me and it caused me some issues and so I've, I'm still working on that whole thing, but you know, just say, listen to your body and give it the rest of needs, push it a little bit. It'll grow and it'll get better. And then it just the patients and persistence of keeping at it,
Moira: 37:05 Definitely. It's a keeping at it. That's it. To be consistent. Yeah.
Moira: 37:10 I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well,
Moira: 37:19 And of course this would be personal. You know, everyone has a different approach. So yeah, here's what I thought about this for quite a while actually. And I decided one is to do something active every day, whether it's going to the gym, taking a long walk, going for a jog, taking a hike, but do something active every day.
Moira: 37:41 Have a morning routine. And I've really gotten into my morning routine, which includes the meditation, some deep breathing, perhaps a 10 minute yoga or some exercise just for 10 minutes or something to wake me up. And then some abs. I want always do some abs in the morning, just do it then. Okay. So that's my, my morning routine and that seems to be good for what I do. And I think whatever you choose to do your morning routine should be consistent because it sets you up for the day.
Moira: 38:18 And then the third thing would be to connect with friends as often as you can because that's really one of the things that gives us the internal hormone boost that keeps us happy, content and feeling connected
Allan: 38:34 I really liked those. Thank you for that. Moira, If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the fit beyond 50 you haven't set up the website yet so I'm going to, I'm going to tell them the link actually summer [inaudible] break in and say, okay, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/fit50. Again that's 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/fit50 and that's going to take you to the signup page for the Fit Beyond Fifty Summit. But Moira if there's any other address, is there anything else that you want them to know about? Feel free to let us know.
Moira: 39:10 No, I think that that's great. Signing up there is the best strategy because they could email you or me, but I'm having, I have a feeling they're just signing up. There is going to be the easiest. And the, the, the summit is going to air on the 28th of October. I have a variety of speakers including a special speaker, Allan Misner.
Allan: 39:40 Yeah. I don't know if you cut it out, you probably said you said you might be cutting it out. But yeah, I didn't knock over my computer while we were talking. So it was a very fun conversation. Much like this one was some way. Right. Thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
Moira: 39:56 Thank you so much for having me as a guest. I really enjoyed the conversation.
You can learn more about the Fit Beyond Fifty summit at https://40plusfitnesspodcast.com/fbf.
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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.
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