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Los Angeles Integrative Wellness Coach and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Carmina McGee, discusses her own way back to health as well as her client-centered, compassion-based, comprehensive approach to optimizing health, wellness and total well-being. Carmina is focused on coaching women to help manage their stress levels which in turn affect their health. She encourages women to download her FREE 7-Step Guide to THE WOMAN’S ULTIMATE VITALITY BOOST–7 Energy Upgrades To Take You From Exhausted To Refreshed! It will help you–
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Intro:Welcome to The Zen Leaderwith Lara Jaye. Whether you’re a leader at home or in the boardroom, Lara provides the tools to help you get unstuck in different areas of your life. Now here’s your host, Lara Jaye.
Lara Jaye:Welcome to The Zen Leader Show, helping you transform your life and find greater satisfaction and peace. I’m your host, Lara Jaye, international bestselling author and speaker, helping you find your happy. You know, that spot inside of you that feels calm and peace even when chaos is swirling around you.
My guest this morning is in the middle of that chaos and can still help all of us as we work with this. Los Angeles integrative wellness coach and registered dietician, nutritionist, Carmina McGee. Welcome, Carmina. How are you this morning?
Carmina McGee:Hi, Lara. Thanks so much for having me and I do ask your listeners to forgive my froggy voice, but we have been in the midst of these horrible fires in southern California. I live in Ventura County, where we got hit very, very hard, over 600 homes lost here.
Lara:You guys are still in the middle of the chaos right now. We’ve got lots to talk about this morning.
Carmina:Very much so. Very much. Yeah.
Lara:Oh, gosh. Well, I am so excited to talk about this, and I had you on earlier in the year, and we really dove in to your story. I want to reiterate that a little bit more because your story is so integral to what you do and what you do for women. Tell me a little bit about what happened to you.
Carmina:I think what I want to start with on my story this time is just I’ll just take us right to what happened. I was already living a very stressful life prior to moving out of the country, which is where I got sick. I took a position there. I was running a company for somebody else. We moved to Mexico with my husband, my young family, my two daughters. It was actually culture shock because things are very different when you’re there as a tourist versus living there and kind of having to find your way in a culture that is actually my ethnic culture of origin. But it’s a different culture because I’m a U.S. girl.
Shortly after we moved there, within a few weeks of moving there — I think it was about six weeks or so — I got bitten by a mosquito and contracted something called dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever. Let me tell you, it’s really well named because it feels truly like every bone in your body is breaking. It’s incredibly painful. Some of the highlights of coming down with this thing is I had very severe fevers. I was spiking fevers of 105. I had encephalitis. My brain was so swollen I was in the most excruciating pain you can imagine, and there was no relief, and I was living three hours away in a smaller community, in a smaller village three hours from the largest city where we could get any kind of medical help. There was no way I was going to be able to access that. There was nothing they could do, basically. I had to ride it out.
Lara:How old were you at this time?
Carmina:I was, gosh, I might have been 32 or something. I was pretty young and not only had we relocated there, but I was also supervising three older male men, [LAUGHTER] which was fairly interesting.
Lara:Good luck with that. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:I was not really a welcomed presence already. There was a lot of stress going on, and I say this now, because as I look back, I’m beginning to see more and more the profound effect stress has on, first of all, compromising our immunity. In our house where we were staying as guests with my aunt for a short time while our home was being taken care and put in place, everybody got the dengue. Not in my family, but my cousins who were in adjacent rooms all got the dengue. For them, it was like a mild, little flu. It was no big deal. I, on the other hand, was on the verge of death, literally, not even figuratively speaking. So why was that?
Looking back now, I look at the fact that I was under excruciating stress before we even got there. Everything was on me once we got there. I had a lot on my shoulders that I was responsible for, a lot. Now I’m 62 now and I look back 30 years and think of myself as that 32-year-old, and I don’t know how I did that. [LAUGHTER]
Lara:Don’t know how you did it, and on top of that, your body is traumatized by just being in the new environment.
Lara:Then you get sick.
Carmina:The thing that happened because of that fever and what got me to doing this work, just to jump forward a little bit, is that my body just broke down in so many ways. I would get these huge kind of blisters and hives. I mean they were huge and fluid filled, after eating anything. One day I would get them after eating something, another day I wouldn’t, and it was just this kind of really bizarre thing. I didn’t even know what to eat anymore, not that I had much of an appetite or anything.
But this, again, looking backwards now, was totally related to the breakdown in my intestinal system. Our immune system is located in the intestinal system. It’s in our intestinal innertube, if you will. Now that I can look back again and put together all the pieces, a lot of things make sense. Of course, these are the areas that I work with with women because it doesn’t just happen when you get bitten by a mosquito in a tropical area of a country. It can happen right here, right at home.
Lara:Do you think you just feel like your body was failing you, like you didn’t understand what was… and you couldn’t bounce back from it and it was just frustration?
Carmina:Oh, yeah. Yeah, it just broke down and here’s what happened. When I came back to The States, which we made it through for about a year, we stuck it out, but I was very sick, very, very sick almost the whole time and still running a company, and still doing…
Lara:And still doing all the work. Still do it all everyday.
Carmina:Exactly, because I had to. I had to do it.
Lara:That’s what we do.
Carmina:When we got back, I got much worse. I came down with chronic fatigue syndrome. I had Epstein-Barr and it was very severe when they took my Epstein-Barr reading, the lab tests. The doctor said, “Oh, my gosh! I’ve never even seen numbers like this. But well, you have these numbers, but there’s nothing wrong with you. We can’t find anything wrong with you.”
Lara:Nothing we can do.
Carmina:I’m going, “Oh, my gosh!” They didn’t know. They didn’t know what to do with that. They hadn’t seen it. I kept going from doctor to doctor to doctor, and I experienced a lot of powerlessness in this process, Lara, and also, I really felt like I was not seen or listened to or taken seriously.
Lara:Or heard. Nobody heard you.
Carmina:I think a lot of that… pardon me?
Lara:Nobody heard. Nobody was listening.
Carmina:Well, the message I got was… I literally got this message from one specific doctor toward the end, which is what really… I talk about this was my pivot and that I went into looking at everything in the alternative medicine world, because I’d been trained in the Western medicine world. So that was supposed to work for me. But this one doctor who specialized in tropical diseases and in infectious diseases, it’s a very distinct specialty, talked to me for two minutes and basically said, “I think your problem is that all you’re looking for is attention. All you women want is attention.”
Lara:Wow! I […]right now, Carmina. [LAUGHTER] Really, yes. There are many of our listeners who experienced this as well. It’s just doctor after doctor, all you want is attention, nobody is helping.
Lara:Then you feel your body is failing you. You feel frustrated. You’re like, “What’s wrong with me?”
Lara:Then that was your catalyst.
Carmina:It was my catalyst and it also caused me to really take my health into my own hands instead of trusting everybody else outside of me to take care of it for me, which is another thing that we’ve all been indoctrinated to do, is let’s just go to the doctor and he’ll give us a drug for every bug and a pill for every ill. They just tell us what to do and we just do what they do, and I’m not maligning doctors. I’m not. Truly I’m not. But it’s kind of the way that our medical system is shaped in this country. That’s the way it’s done. We look at symptoms. They treat the symptoms. They don’t look at the patient. They treat the labs. They don’t talk to the patient and listen to the complaints.
With women, honestly, my heart is so strong with women’s health because I’ve experienced the sort of disrespect, and again, the lack of not being heard and seen, or being taken seriously. Women, I don’t know if you know this, Lara, but we, as women, are the #1 consumers of antidepressants. Why is that? Do we really suffer more from depression or are we just being given something to sort of try to shut us up…
Lara:Shut us up.
Carmina:…and not have us go look at what else might be causing some mood disorders or some mood problems like depression and anxiety?[00:10:07]Maybe our gut is impaired. Maybe our adrenal glands are on overdrive because we’re trying to do so much all the time. Perhaps, that could be some of it and maybe our medical people could be saying, “What are you doing to take care of yourself? Where’s your self-care in this? What does your nutrition look like? What are you doing to move joyfully, not some kind of grit-your-teeth thing?” So, yeah.
Lara:So much. We’re going to take a break right now, Carmina. I can’t wait to come back and just really dive into this and all the different components of what propelled you to help women. We’re going to take a break, and we’ll be right back with The Zen Leaderand Carmina McGee.
Lara:Welcome back with The Zen Leader. I’m Lara Jaye and with me is Carmina McGee from Los Angeles, a registered dietician. Carmina, such an amazing story. Thank you for sharing that story and the catalyst for you helping women, and some of the things that you went through, and the lessons that you learned, you’re able to help, including me. You’ve been helping me for several years, and I am so thankful to you and how you’ve helped me.
Tell me. Your business now has taken kind of a new direction. Talk to me about it. Tell our listeners what direction and really what you want the world to know.
Carmina:Oh, thanks, Lara. Well, I have been a clinician for a very, very long time as a nutritionist, but I always had a hybrid of a coaching component, and then there was the clinical piece. In this last year, I have had some really extraordinary women that I’ve had the opportunity to work with. What I started to see is really the coaching piece is what really has me the most excited now and I’m most passionate about because it is that very piece that allows us to take responsibility for our own health. It encourages us to do the work, instead of looking at me as the expert and always dictating what you need to do or give you a specific diet, or something like that.
Those things are not as… they are useful in certain disease processes. Don’t get me wrong, but there is something wonderful about helping you bring out your own solutions and your own answers, and guiding you as you start to take the decisions on what you want your health, wellbeing, and wellness to look like. Because it’s individual for everybody. There’s no one-size-fits-all for health, wellness, and having a sense of wellbeing. It’s so subjective.
Lara:This is kind of a new concept, that we can take ownership of our health, [LAUGHTER] believe it or not, right? It was for me.
Lara:A few years ago I was like, “Well, don’t I have to just do what everybody tells me?” No, I don’t and I have to weigh everything and then there’s the emotional component. That, I think, is especially where coaching comes in.
Carmina:Exactly, and I think that unfortunately for me, as a dietician, I think as dieticians, oftentimes we’re seen as that field of the people that just kind of put you on diets. That’s not what we are about. Some people do that, but that’s not what we are about. We’re really about upgrading your nutrition and helping you work with food as medicine and helping to heal those tissues.
We have the most powerful pharmacy in the world at our beck and call, and it is inside of us. It’s inside of us. We really have the ability to marshal up powerful, healing processes within our body just like we have the ability to marshal up destruction of our health through the way we are nurturing ourselves or not nurturing ourselves, nourishing ourselves with food, right? The nurturing part is how we take care of ourselves. The nourishment part definitely has to do with food and how our body takes this food, which is really communication, and spreads that message throughout the body. Does the body, like in southern California right now, turn into a bonfire of inflammation? Or do we learn how our body works, understand its rhythms and start working with it instead of against it?
In the coaching process with me, anyway, we are definitely going to look at all those pieces. We definitely look at your nutrition. We want to upgrade it wherever possible. I want to encourage the people that I work with, the women that I work with, to work with food mindfully, to think about not just what they’re putting in their body, but the timing. I have so many women that just don’t eat. The bigger problem I have with the women I work with is they don’t eat.
Lara:I know, Carmina. [LAUGHTER] You always ask me that. “Lara, tell me. Are you eating?” [LAUGHTER]
Lara:Yes. [LAUGHTER] What is the definition of that? [LAUGHTER] Right?
Lara:It’s something you have to ask, right?
Carmina:Yes. Because what happens is we also have to recognize that we live in a very intense diet culture that, oh, gosh, where being thin is the promise of every dream coming true, right? If you’re just thin, you’ll meet the perfect person or have the perfect relationship, and you’ll have the perfect life. It’s such nonsense. It’s such baloney. We’re all sold on this, and we need to stop. We need to stop really recognizing that we can opt out of a diet culture that says, “Your only value is based on how you look, not who you are.” Looks have nothing to do with health, by the way.
There was this wonderful study. I just ran across it, in 2013, that was done by the CDC and they found that… I thought this was really interesting, that they showed that people who were classified as overweight actually had lower mortality rates than people classified as average weight or underweight according to the BMI.
Lara:So why do you suspect that was?
Carmina:Isn’t that interesting?
Carmina:Because the BMI is really not very helpful. It’s not really telling you anything about your health. The size of your body is not telling you anything about your health.
Lara:Well, that makes me feel better. [LAUGHTER] Otherwise, I feel bad. I don’t want to know. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:Well, a nice way to kind of see what’s going on — and is a better measuring stick for our health — is to look at things like what are some critical lab values look like? What are some labs that show you… there’s one, the hemoglobin A1C that gives us an idea of what our blood sugar control has been, for instance. With millions of people now struggling with prediabetes and moving into diabetes, that’s an important number to know. Then we can look at, “How can we use food to positively affect that?” There’s so much that we can do that way. Not just food, but timing and there’s some other things that go in with it. But it’s never about just the food, either, which is why I do a much bigger approach with everybody I work with.
Lara:You do a very holistic approach. Talk to me about that.
Carmina:Okay, great. We can’t just look at one parameter in our lives that’s going to measure our health. I’m interested in looking at your emotional, physical health, mental, and social health. One of the things I see more and more are a lot of women who do not have connection to bigger communities, and if they are single women, particularly, and they’re just buried in work and that’s their whole experience of their life. What do they do in that off time? What do they do with themselves? Where are their people? Where are their community? Where’s their downtime? Where is their ability to just be, but be in a place that they feel supported and loved? Again, this thing about community is very important.
That’s a really critical thing. That’s no small thing. Stress. This is my#1 thing with women. The #1 problem I see the women that I work with suffering with — and by the way, I’m not immune to that — is stress and how do we…
Lara:You’re in the middle of it right now. You’re in the middle of this right now with all of it, with the fires.
Carmina:Yes. Yeah, and I have been kind of observing this and saying, “Okay. Well, how has this helped or impacted me?” I’m craving carbs like crazy because my serotonin is probably crashing all over the place because of constant stress. I have got bags packed in case we have to evacuate. There’s just all these things going on that are affecting my ability to even move. We cannot go outside. The air quality is so bad. Everybody in my house is going crazy because no one of us can go out to do any exercise.[00:20:02]We can’t even go out and take a walk in the neighborhood.
Lara:Here we are holiday time, which is even added stress.
Lara:You can talk about probably in the next segment going into the new year and eating, but let’s continue on. So, lots of stress and we’re all feeling it. I don’t think we were this stressed a hundred years ago. I don’t know what’s happened.
Carmina:No. I think it’s gotten exponentially worse because we are all living in such a fast-paced environment globally now. There’s constant bad news coming to our attention. There’s turmoil everywhere, inside and outside. The question really is, “This is our world, but how are we going to mitigate that? How are we going to decide to take all that stuff in so it doesn’t harm us, so that we can deflect it, transform it, change it, reframe it, so that as it’s coming at us, it doesn’t consume us? It’s actually something that we can hold at bay and still stay strong in our practices.”
Lara:Is that possible? Is it possible to do that?
Carmina:It is possible, but it takes a lot of mindfulness. It takes a lot of attention. It also requires that you stop judging yourself, that we stop beating ourselves up, especially women. I find this is a little disease with so many of us is that we have this perfectionism thing all the time. So much is expected of us. We can talk about…
Lara:When we come back from break, we’re going to continue this conversation. It’s going deep now. [LAUGHTER] We’ll be right back.
Lara:I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand welcome back from break. With me is Carmina McGee. Karma, Carmina… not Karma. Carmina, where can they find you on the website? What is your URL?
Carmina:My URL is Carmina, c-a-r-m-i-n-a, McGee, m-c-g-e-e.com.
Carmina:Just my name .com. I just wanted to say I would invite all of your listeners to come. I just launched a brand new website a week ago.
Lara:It’s beautiful, I might say. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:I have a nice gift that I’ve created for women. It’s a new… I call it “The Woman’s Ultimate Vitality Boost.” It’s seven energy upgrades. It can take you from exhausted to refreshed, and there’s a lot of really good, practical things in there that you can start looking at and doing right away, especially right now that we’re in the holidays and moving into the new year.
We were talking about this a little bit, Lara, and I just wanted to say that we are in an interesting cycle in this country. We have been for a very long time, and it starts kind of around a little bit before Thanksgiving, right? I can tell you from all my years in clinical practice that this is when my appointments would drop off. Nobody wants to talk to a dietician as you’re getting close to Thanksgiving because people think we’re going to say, “Oh, don’t have any pie. Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that.”
But actually, for me, it was always just the opposite. It was, “Let’s take time to slow down and make choices that you really want. If you want that piece of pie, have it, but be with it. Really taste it. Savor it. Enjoy it. Don’t waste a drop of guilt and remorse over eating it.”
You know when we take out that hook, all of a sudden, a reasonable piece of pie is plenty. We’re satisfied. It’s when we tell ourselves, “Oh, I can’t have that.” Oh, my God. It’s all you want, right?
Lara:Be mindful. Bring in the five senses when you’re just really enjoying the food, whatever it is.
Carmina:Yes. Yes, and the mindfulness part is because too many people right now will tend to overindulge. Why do we do this overindulgence? It’s a very interesting thing, and in my opinion, what happens is we enter into this holiday season of Thanksgiving and then Christmas and Hanukkah and all the holidays that everybody celebrates during this time of year with a sense of scarcity, believe it or not. It’s like, “Oh, no! We’re having all the favorite foods. I’d better eat them all now because I can never have them again until next year when this time rolls around.” Some place internally we’re thinking that, but it’s such a lie! We live in the United States of America. We can get just about any ingredient from anywhere any day in the week. We are so fortunate and blessed that way, but we create this scarcity.
We create all of this stuff, and at the holidays, some much stuff is all so bound up into family memories — good ones and bad ones — and there’s this drive. Food can be such an object of emotional expression. We might “eat emotionally.” I got to tell you I’m taking a different take on eating emotionally these days. Why not eat a little emotionally? What’s wrong with that, right?
Lara:Oh, I like that. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:Why not? Yeah, why not be a little. If you’re feeling really joyful and you’re enjoying something, food is so unique in that aside from other things like drugs or alcohol or something, you don’t have to have those to live, right? You could really just cut those out if you wanted to and if they’re a problem and be done with them. But food, you have to eat all the time.
Why not enter into a totally different relationship with it where you get to actually enjoy it, savor it and remember that this was your grandmother’s recipe that she made, and you can feel her love when you take that bite in? You don’t have to have 20 pies to experience that bite of love in that piece of pie, for instance, or whatever the thing is.
Lara:We can eat like that without feeling the guilt.
Lara:Because that’s what happens with me around the holidays is the guilt, and then you feel bad for, “Oh, my gosh. I overate one meal.” Overeating one meal is not going to do anything.
Carmina:Exactly. Here’s a little secret, Lara, is if you actually allowed yourself permission with guilt-free, no judgment, you wouldn’t overeat at all. That’s what mindful eating is. You get to just have what you need, just enough. The overeating and the overindulgence really comes from a place of scarcity, and I can’t have it. It’s a big trigger for if you tell somebody they can’t have something, that’s just the thing they want, right? This is programmed kind of into us. It’s a scary place to go, to all of a sudden give yourself permission because, “Oh, my God. What if I never stop eating?”
Carmina:The truth is that little carton of whatever might be in your freezer or whatever thing calls to you right now because it’s forbidden, if you just say, “Hey, welcome. I’m glad you’re here. I’ll have some of you if I feel like it.” You might just walk by it and forget it’s there for months and not even care. It just doesn’t have that siren song of calling you in.
I wanted to say one other thing is the time of year when we start hearing the drumbeat for diets, right? Weight Watchers just rolled out its whole new thing. There’s going to be a zillion diets out there and a zillion new commercials, and all of this messaging telling you that you’re broken, you’re imperfect, you just need to lose X amount of weight or be a certain size, or look a certain way. You have this whole false promise starts up its cycle again in January, because we’re in that eat and repent, “Oh, my God. I can’t believe I ate all that stuff during the holidays. Oh, no! I’ve got to lose anything I might have gained. Oh, no! I’ve got to get into a boot camp program,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We go into these deprivational, punishing modes, and how long do they last? Not very long. Gym memberships soar in January, and by mid-February, people are already dropped off. They’re gone. They don’t show up. Yeah.
Lara:They’re gone. [LAUGHTER] I have done that. I’m not even going to start. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:We’ve all done it. Again, we live in a very, very intense diet culture, but there’s some exciting stuff happening, and there’s a whole body-positivity movement that’s really taking off and getting more attention now. Now that we’re getting more actual scientific information, I want to encourage anybody who’s listening to me, any woman and any man who’s listening to me to go please pick up Linda Bacon’s work, Dr. Linda Bacon, who has… she’s one of the founding people for Health at Any Size. It’s a wonderful body of work. She’s a scientist. She was a nutrition teacher, and boy, what she has to teach us, I was gobsmacked. I mean she brings the data and the science in, and when I first picked up her information, I said, “Why aren’t we being told this? Why don’t we know this information?” It’s probably because there’s no money in it, right?
Lara:There’s no… mm-hmm.
Carmina:There’s a lot of money to be made by making people feel miserable and like they’re not enough, because then you just keep buying stuff or doing stuff to make yourself feel better, right?
Lara:Oh, that not enough message. [LAUGHTER] Don’t get me started on that.
Lara:I actually, several years ago, had someone… I had mentioned that I might move out to California.[00:30:04]I had somebody say, “Well, you better start now to lose some of that weight before you get out there.”
Lara:But my jaw just… I was like, “Did you just say what I thought you said?” That’s where they were at and it was all… they’re very consumed with their body, and they work out. That’s fine. That’s your thing. That’s not mine.
Lara:For them to project that on to me… but that’s what people are doing to each other.
Carmina:Yep, and I want to go back to talk about the stress of that. It is extremely stressful to be dieting all the time. It’s extremely stressful to be constantly monitoring your body, looking in reflective mirrors, reflective spaces to check yourself out and go, “Oh,” or to compare yourself to other people. “Am I that big? Am I this size?”
This thing, we all do it. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for doing it. We just have to have a new awareness so we can start to filter it out and start changing the message to ourselves. One of the reasons that I love working with women — of course, being a woman — is we really do have some unique things that affect us as a gender. In fact, I talked about it in my new gift. If you go pick it up, you’ll get to see some little bits of really important information there. But the stress that we experience actually does affect our digestive health. It affects our moods. For instance, in our intestinal system, most of our serotonin is housed in our intestines, like 90% of it. Serotonin is one of those neurotransmitters that helps with mood regulation, helps with to protect us from depression and things like that. It has lots of other things it does, but that’s the shorthand that most of us know it from.
But what happens if you’re stressed out all the time, and your gut is not working well, and maybe you have some IBS or your stomach is in knots all the time? It affects that and starts to take down your immune system because that’s where most of your immune system is, in your intestinal tract. Your adrenal glands, those glands that make stress hormones are just running overtime. I talked about a little bit of that before, but when I work with women, there are really kind of some very key areas we work in for this very reason. It’s because women are most affected by four key things, which I’ll tell you about.
Lara:We are going to talk about those four key areas as soon as we get back from break. We’ll be right back.
Lara:I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand welcome back from break. You can find me here at WSRQradio.com or larajaye.com. My amazing guest today, you can find her at carminamcgee.com. Carmina, right before break, we were just diving into the four key areas. Let’s go right into those because I love talking about these four key areas. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:Well, the #1 key area we’ve already touched on quite a bit, which is your digestive health. That’s everything from the way you break down your food, to the way you absorb it, to the way you get rid of it, right? That whole inner tube that starts at your mouth and ends on the other end. That is a system that is the absolute foundation of our health, period, end of story. If that’s already not in good condition, it affects everything else in your body. The second area… I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Lara:Before you go into the second one, what would be some things in the digestive health area that we would look for if there’s an issue?
Carmina:Sure. One of the things you might notice is after you eat you start bloating or you start actually… you could also have pain in your stomach, but one of the most common things is to have bloat. You feel like, again, you feel like you’re getting fat, but really, it’s bloat. It’s air. It’s inflammation and you might feel like your food is just kind of sitting in your stomach and not moving through.
Another thing that often happens is you’ll alternate between having a constipated state with a diarrhea kind of condition, and it comes and goes. You might notice that foods that you normally ate before you can’t seem to tolerate them. Maybe you get a little gastroesophageal reflux, a little heartburn, or again, you get that bloating kind of sensation. I would say that any kind of stomach pain, bloating, if you notice that your bowel movements are irregular or… I hate to get indelicate, but you look in the bowl and things just don’t look right there.
Carmina:There’s something going on that needs to be attended to. Sometimes we’re not making enough stomach acid, and doctors often are prescribing antacids in the way of proton-pump inhibitors. The things like omeprazole is the generic name. What happens when you do that is you shut off all the acid to your stomach. You actually make things worse. You make things worse because now your body can’t protect you from parasites and infections. That’s part of what that acid does in addition to helping to break down food. So, we are not what we eat. We are what we eat, digest, and absorb, because ultimately, that’s what makes all the building blocks for our bodies. That’s why it’s so important to our foundation.
Lara:I love that. Eat, what we eat, digest, and absorb is huge.
Lara:We have to absorb the nutrition or we’re not going to go anywhere. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:Exactly. You could be eating the most perfect, organic diet, locally sourced, blah, blah, blah, but if you’re not absorbing it, so what? It’s going right through you. It’s doing you no good. We want to make sure that those processes are working well.
Carmina:Then the next thing that’s actually connected to that is our hormones and our neurotransmitters. A very big deal for us women because our hormonal communication systems are more sensitive than men. We have menstrual cycles. We have very distinct seasons in our life based on what’s going on in these hormones, right? So do men. It’s just a little subtler in them. But for women, this becomes a big deal.
Now a lot of the women I work with have thyroid problems. Why is… and it’s usually low thyroid, not high thyroid, but high thyroid happens sometimes. The low thyroid problem often is related to guess what? The S word: stress. Part of the stress that we create in our bodies is forgetting to eat.
Carmina:When you forget to eat, then your thyroid function actually drops and it may take a while for it to actually recover. It could take days. It’s like we’re holding ourselves hostage and going, “I am not going to give you any food or anything until you start to behave right.” On the other hand, it’s like, “Well, I can’t behave right because you’re not giving me all the stuff I need.” It’s a catch-22.
Looking at not just our thyroid, but also for women, looking at our other sex hormones, particularly, our estrogen, our progesterone, our testosterone. For women, yes, we make testosterone and need it, too. Also, some of our hunger hormones, things like ghrelin and leptin. There are hormones all over our bodies that are just little communicators that are constantly setting things in motion, and when they are out of balance, all of us is out of balance. But again, if our guts aren’t in good shape, it’s like the freeway is falling down and you have to take surface streets and everybody is blocked up.
Lara:It just starts. It starts there in the gut, which you talked about is the immune system and the serotonin. Then you’ve got, from there, the hormones.
Lara:Got all whacked out pretty quickly, especially…
Carmina:And your neurotransmitters.
Lara:And neurotransmitters, especially as we age, but keep going. I know you have lots more.
Carmina:Yeah. The other two areas are this area of self-care, which we women don’t do a good job with that. We just don’t. We are so conditioned to taking care of everybody else and everything else, and not only putting ourselves lowest on the priority list, sometimes we’re not even on the list at all, which is unacceptable.
That feeds this self-care, the digestive health, the hormones. Those all feed into most of the problems that we have as women, particularly with fatigue, with energy depletion, with just all the things that we women uniquely seem to run into in problems. Guess what? What is a symptom ultimately of all those things going awry? Your weight not being in a place that’s good for your body or at a regulated weight for your body, I should say. That’s not based on a number. That’s based on, “Okay, am I flexible? Do I have energy? Can I move well? Am I happy? Do I have community? Am I taking time out for myself and am I sleeping?” Because sleep is the #1…
Lara:I was just going to say sleep is huge. Let’s talk about that.
Carmina:Yeah. Sleep is the other big one. Sleep is one of those four things. It’s sleep, self-care, hormones, and digestive health. Those are the things that are really critical to pay attention to, to bring back into a beautiful harmony in your body so that it can really give you the benefits of living in a really free, happy body and mind. [00:40:14]
Lara:Wouldn’t that be amazing? A free, happy body. I mean just to think about that and not beat ourselves up as women. Yeah, that would be amazing.
Carmina:It is possible. It is absolutely possible. That’s why when I… you were asking me earlier about what’s changed coming into the new year. One of the things I’m changing is the format in which I work with women. Now, I’ve just created a foundational approach, so coming in to work with me, we’re probably going to start off working together for a good four months, to be very honest with you. That’s the shortest route because that’s the time it takes to really look at all these systems to unpack everything that’s going on for you, to help you with your habits, with your beliefs, with all those things that might need to be changed so that you can get a different outcome.
Those things just don’t happen overnight. We don’t get where we are overnight. It takes time to develop that, and it takes time to change it. It takes patience, time, non-judgment, support, guidance, somebody to listen and hold that space with you so that you can then make those changes in the midst of being hit with all the other kinds of messages that we’re constantly getting, right?
Lara:Absolutely. Carmina, can people sign up online to schedule a session with you? Is that how they do it?
Carmina:Yeah. If they go to my website and go to the “Connect” tab, there’s a place there where you can just fill in a very short couple of questions for me, and then I get it, and then I’ll get right back to you and we can set up a no-cost conversation just to see. I really want to understand where you are, and then if it makes sense for us to go forward, we can go forward and talk about all the possibilities for each person, because everybody is unique and has a different focus of what their needs are. If I can’t help, I always really do try to help you find the right connections for what needs you might immediately have. Yeah, I’m happy to do that.
Carmina:Again, I want to really encourage everybody to at least go get that guide. Go get that guide because it gives you some really practical steps right now that you can do on your own.
Lara:I love that. We’ve got about a minute left. Carmina, tell me that guide. Right off the bat, the pervasive myth that we have to do it all.
Carmina:Oh, yeah, that we can do it all. Oh, my gosh!
Lara:I can’t? Are you telling me I can’t? [LAUGHTER] Now you tell me. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina:I know. We cannot do it all, but we are, ourselves, push ourselves to try to do it all and to live into that myth. But the truth is that it does create a lot of damage for us in doing that. We set up standards for ourselves that are impossible to meet, and that ends up making us feel like we’re less than. Not to mention, again, it triggers that whole S word. Stress, stress, stress, which is a giant cascade.
It is a myth, and I do talk a little bit about this. But what happened is there were some studies done where they did MRIs on men and women in certain tasks, and they could see that our brains literally are wired to multitask. Men are not wired that way, which is why they have trouble, guys, sometimes when 25 things are coming at you and you’re like, “No, I just need to do this one thing.” Well, we women can do all that because from time immemorial we’re having to make babies, watch babies, cook the food, do this, do that, do that all at the same time. Our circuitry is wired to multitask, but it’s not good for us to multitask. Just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should do it. It’s actually very hard on us to do that. It’s more helpful, if you will, if we just try to slow down, focus, take one thing at a time, and be gentle with ourselves.
Lara:Oh, I love that. Thank you, Carmina, for joining me this morning.
Carmina:Oh, thank you, Lara, for having me. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to speak to women out there. I really appreciate that.
Lara:I love having you on.
Carmina:Happy holidays to you.
Lara:Happy holidays to you, too, and thank you, listeners, for joining us here on The Zen Leader Show. I invite you to listen in every Saturday at 10AM here on WSRQ, and for ongoing inspiration, go to larajaye.com. Until next time, choose happy.
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