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.
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:Welcome to The Zen Leader. I am your host, Lara Jaye, international best-selling author, speaker, and spiritual mentor, and through my speaking, coaching, and programs and radio show, I help you courageously live life intentionally. I am so excited for the show and my guest today. I’ve waited a long time for this and you’ll understand as I explain this little story.
A couple of years ago, I was suffering with… I was pretty much bed-ridden. I had a lot of fatigue, anxiety, weight gain, massive hair loss, my face was all puffy, sweating. Let’s see… Can I go on? Difficulty sleeping, irritability, muscle weakness, depression. Those are just a few of my symptoms.
I was so desperate for nutritional guidance. For whatever reason, I was led – I forget even how. A mutual friend introduced me to this amazing guest that I have on today, to begin the process of unwinding. Unwinding my past fears of food, I got some answers for my health symptoms, I implemented a holistic plan of action for my body and life. I knew it wasn’t going to be fixed in just a couple of sessions, but I was very committed because I was very sick. And when you’re really sick, you either get sicker or you get committed to making things better.
Thanks to this woman, my guest today, her guidance, her expertise, all of the symptoms I mentioned, they’re completely gone on most days. I feel like I’ve healed this huge hole, this huge disconnect I had with my body ever since childhood. Now I love moving my body and feeding it healthy foods.
But my guest today is the amazing Carmina McGee from the Los Angeles area, and Carmina has her Bachelor of Science — I’m going to give you all the bio on her — but she’s so much more. She has her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degree in Nutrition, extensive training in counseling, motivational interviewing, functional medicine. She’s a Certified Intuitive Eating Coach, and I want to talk more about that. She has lots of training and experience in neuro, endocrine, and gut disorders. 30 plus years in this career of nutrition. Thousands of hours of helping people and training.
Outside of nutrition, she’s studied meditation and Reiki, and volunteered at her local cancer center. Just an amazing woman. Her mission and passion is to help women — specifically me and other women out there, listeners — create amazing, healthy, happy, and vibrant lives. My dear friend, Carmina McGee, welcome to The Zen Leader.
Carmina: Oh, thank you so much, Lara. I’m so honored to be here. Truly, I am just so humbled by your kind words.
Lara: You know I mean every word of it. You’ve helped me so much.
Carmina: Thank you so much. I have to just say, it was a joy being on the [INAUDIBLE 00:03:24]with you because you had to show up and have the courage and the open heartedness, and the trust to do what you accomplished. These are your accomplishments that you did with reclaiming your health.
Lara: Thank you.
Carmina: I’m just so glad that I got to be a part of it.
Lara: Thank you, Carmina. You’re such a blessing in my life. You know how sick I was. We started from square one. We’ll talk more about that over the hour, but there was just so much. You broke it down and you made it easy for me to just take it piece by piece and hormone by hormone, shall I say, [LAUGHTER] and look at the holistic view of it, and still be able to breathe through it and get well. It was amazing to have you on my support team and walk beside me, and push me sometimes, and other times, drag me. [LAUGHTER] So, it was great.
Carmina: Gently, though. Very gently.
Lara: Very tightly and lovingly, always. Always, always.
Lara: But it was amazing. Carmina, your story, blows me. I mean, my story is intense, but your story is even more. Of course, it usually is when we teach what we, ourselves, need to learn. You know?
Carmina: So true.
Lara: So true, right?
Carmina: So true.
Lara: And painful sometimes. I like on your website, you talk about your story and lessons learned. We all have that. Tell me a little bit about what happened to you and how you got in to this.
Carmina: When I was in my early 30s, I had an opportunity to move to another country — actually, it was Mexico — to run a company there. My husband took a leave from his job. I had two little girls, they were 4 and 6 at the time. We moved to this new culture, this new environment. Just a few months after arriving… by the way, I had a huge job. I had to travel all over the country, I had all these people to supervise, and most of the travel was done by car, not by plane and so forth.
We were there for only… gosh, I think we’d only been there a couple of months. One day I was coming home, actually, from an aerobics class that I never found, and I’ll never forget this because as I was getting to our house where we were staying, I started to get a very severe headache. I mean it just went from 0 to 100 in nothing flat. By the time I pulled up to the house, my head was hurting so badly, I was losing my vision. I, in fact, did lose my vision. I went blind for the next… I was blind for about 3 days and had these excruciating headaches that were just horrendous, and these high fevers. I was in a very small town 3 hours from the closest big medical center, so there was just nothing to do. I was spiking fevers of like 105. It was very serious.
I found out later that I had encephalitis. My brain was swollen and I had been bitten by a mosquito and I had gotten something called dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever. And, let me tell you, it does feel like every one of your bones are breaking. Unfortunately for me, it went into my brain.
As a result of that, following the acute phase, which I won’t even walk you through because it was just awful… But when I kind of got over the worst part of it, my body just started to break down.
For instance, I would eat something and I would break out in these huge, fluid-filled blisters all over my body. I was allergic to, it seemed like, everything. There was hardly anything I could eat. I couldn’t think very clearly at all. My brain was really foggy. And here, I was the sole support of our family and I had made a year commitment.
I remember I was dictating reports and Baden [PH], my husband, God bless him, was trying to type them up to get them out where they were supposed to go.
Lara: Again, you were only in your early 30s, and two little girls.
Carmina: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Lara: Trying to be Mom, trying to take care of everything. Yeah. Yeah. And you’re so sick.
Carmina: It was extraordinarily stressful. The worst part of it was nobody could… The doctors that I saw there, just kept giving me course after course, after course, after course, of antibiotics because I had a lot of gastrointestinal problems going on. Part of the food thing, I know now, of course, was because I had developed all of these sensitivities. My immune system was on overdrive, basically. As a result of this condition, it took a long time to recover. But like many women, tough luck. Suck it up. We have to work.
Lara: Right. We have to push through.
Carmina: Yes. You have to push through and, certainly, that didn’t help any kind of recovery. During that time — I am going to be honest, which I am — I also went through a ferocious depression. I mean it was a very, very, very serious depression. At one point, again, the doctors down there aren’t quite as skilled, at that time, as the doctors we have here. They put me on the wrong medication, which made everything even worse. So, it was truly horrendous.
Lara: One thing after another.
Carmina: Yes. Then flash forward. We came home after I stuck it out for the year. We came back home and things, actually, did not get better. It got worse. I ended up developing chronic fatigue syndrome, where literally I could not walk from my bed to my bathroom without being completely exhausted. I would sleep all day and I never felt rested.
I began the trek of going from doctor to doctor to doctor to doctor. We spent tons of money and incurred tons of debt as I was going through all of these medical people, trying to search for answers, of course. I would go to them and they would say things like, “Well, you know, we can’t find anything wrong with you,” even though I was clearly breaking down right in front of them.
Lara: Yep. I’ve heard that one before.
Carmina: Oh, gosh. Yeah. It’s all in your head, right? And I remember a couple of visits that stuck out in my head, to this day. One doctor I went to — and he was [00:10:00]a tropical disease guy — and he took a lab test and found that I had a very, very, very high level of a particular blood count. I forgot what it was. It’s escaping my brain for the moment. But anyway, he just said, “Oh, gosh. I’ve never seen numbers like this before, but honestly, I don’t know what to do for you. So, try this guy.”
Then I went to another infectious disease doctor. This one is the one that was the pivot that made me do what I do today with the passion with which I do it. I sat, after waiting for months to get in to this man’s office, and what his words were he said to me, “Well, your problem is you’re just one of those women who is looking for attention.” I think, if I’d had the strength, I would have flown across the desk and probably struck him, but I didn’t have the energy.
It was so dismissive and so disrespectful. I had been hanging on by my fingernails that this was the one that was going to have the answer.
Lara: This is what so many of us run in to with physicians. All the time.
Lara: We are going to take a quick break and we will be right back.
Lara: I can’t wait to continue this conversation, Carmina. We’ll be right back with The Zen Leader.
Lara: Welcome back with The Zen Leader. I’m Lara Jaye. You can find me here at www.wsrqradio.comor www.larajaye.com. My guest today is Carmina McGee and you can find her… Carmina, what is your web address?
Lara: Awesome. At the very end of our show, Carmina, I know that you have a special offering for our listeners. We’ll wait and share that at the end, though. Right before break, you were talking about the pivot and what happened to propel you into this amazing passion of what you do today.
Lara: I want to just kind of rehash that because so many of us, especially women, hear this from our physicians, and it just stops us in our tracks, and then we go home so defeated.
Carmina: Yeah. It was this one particular physician who, basically, I was so extremely sick and debilitated, and truly had chronic fatigue, which at that time, by the way, hadn’t even been recognized as a real thing. It was one of those junk diagnoses that’s all in your head. Right?
Carmina: And because women were suffering more with it than men, sorry guys, but sometimes I think that plays into not having attention paid to them.
Lara: I agree.
Carmina: Then this doctor said that my problem was that I was just one of those women who wanted a lot of attention paid to them and so forth. That just enraged me so much. It really did. But it rallied me.
I thought, “Okay. My training…” because I had all of the scientific training. I came up in a very traditional medical model as a registered dietician nutritionist, had failed me. Utterly. Utterly, utterly failed me.
I put my science brain to work and I also decided all of these alternative care things that I’ve heard about, but have told that they’re not reliable or whatever, I’m going to go try. I’m going to try anything. The truth is, I did. I went to every possible modality that you can imagine, with the exception of a witch doctor…
Carmina: and only because I couldn’t find one, or I would have gone. Seriously.
Lara: That actually makes me feel better, you could not find one. Just kidding.
Carmina: No, I couldn’t find one or I would have gone.
Lara: Or you would have gone. Good for you.
Lara: I love it.
Carmina: You know, the truth is that each one of these folks that I went to, I found most of them to be compassionate, open-minded. That is not to say that our regular MDs are not. I don’t mean to say that at all. I don’t want that to be misunderstood. But they just had a different perspective and it was what we would know today as more holistic. They’re not just looking at one thing, they’re kind of pulling back the camera, trying to pan and see what else might be happening. From each one of them, I learnt a nugget. There were a lot of things that didn’t work and that I moved on to the next thing.
But, in that process, I did find this area of functional medicine, which was kind of a naissance at that time. Functional medicine is evidence-based medicine skills, just like our traditional medicine. But in traditional medicine, in the West, as we practice it, physicians and health providers are taught to look at symptom, and as Mark Hyman likes to say, “They prescribe a pill for every ill and a drug for every bump,” but they’re just treating symptoms. In functional medicine, the health practitioners are really pulling back again and looking for root causes. What was causing those symptoms? What’s causing those symptoms and let’s see if we can fix that.
That’s where I started to really get my foundational education in starting to look at this thing that we call health and wellness, from a very different lens. Over time, you mentioned I’ve had oodles of training. I am such a research geek. My family just makes fun of me, really.
Lara: You are. [LAUGHTER]
Carmina: I’ve always got like six books going at one time. Occasionally, I allow myself to read fiction.
Lara: You have to, to branch out a little bit. Give the mind a break.
Carmina: Just to chill out a little bit.
Carmina: A little Paul Heisen [PH]. A little author from your part of Florida.
Lara: That’s right. That’s right. I love it.
Carmina: That’s kind of what brought me in to doing the work the way I do it now. I have to say that from that whole experience what I really wanted was to also, ultimately, help other women as I begin help myself, because the good news is I began to get better. As I began to get better, I began to get more and more passionate about finding answers and I knew that I was not the only woman suffering from unknown things that were debilitating. You know?
By the way, that was just sort of a never-ending quest. You have to be a detective when you do this work. We just learn so much, literally, on a daily basis. We are bombarded, as you all know, with new information and the latest finding, whether it’s a genetic thing or a new superfood or whatever. We’re just inundated because a lot of people are suffering, and we’re getting upticks in certain kinds of conditions, more and more. Especially in the gut arena, by the way.
Lara: Yes. I cannot wait to talk more about that. But keep going. I love this story.
Carmina: Well, I was just going to say one of the things in functional medicine that I love so much is you take a look at the whole person. You’re not just looking at their nutrition, although that is definitely a critical piece. You are looking at environment. You’re looking at genetic factors and genetic influences. You’re looking at relationships. You’re looking at self-care. On the area of self-care, I have to say is the one that the women I work with and serve struggle with the most.
Lara: Same here. Absolutely.
Carmina: Absolutely struggle.
Lara: I was surprised, when I first started working with you, how prevalent it was part of it. You would ask me about relationships and support, and “Where are you living? Who are you talking to?” I’m like, “I thought we were talking diet. Why are you asking me these questions?” [LAUGHTER]
Carmina: I know.
Carmina: Sometimes, I have sessions where their nutrition isn’t discussed at all.
Lara: I know. Right? Right.
Carmina: Because it’s just a piece of it and we are not just… we’re not just a body; we are so much more than that, as you write about so beautifully in your book. This totality of what makes us up also applies to our health. Our thoughts can certainly cause a state inside of our bodies that starts and forms genes and starts to tell stress hormones to be released, and other things that actually influence our health very directly. So when I hear now, “Oh, it’s all in your head,” I’m going, “Right on. It is in your head. Let’s fix that head.”
Lara: It is. That’s right. And it starts there and it really does and we have to be aware of that.
Carmina: Yeah. Those beliefs that we hold on to, those stories that we hold on to. I can’t remember. I wish I could give credit to where I heard this from, but I think it’s just wisdom, so I’ll just share it. It’s basically what you say you believe is true. If you are really sick and you believe, “Oh, God. I am never going to get better. This is never going to get better,” you know what? That’s true.
Lara: That is true.
Carmina: You’re never going to get better because everything will show up in such a way to make that be truth. But if you say, “I’m going to find a way to get better,” then that’s your truth and that is what will happen. That’s how powerful those thoughts and beliefs are. [00:20:00]You see it all the time.
Lara: Those thoughts, beliefs, those words. Yes. They are because our body feels it. It sends out that chemical reaction into our body.
Carmina: It sure does.
Lara: That’s what we attract. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Carmina: I heard of a very interesting study once about a woman who was told that she had cancer and she was Stage 4, and all this stuff. It was the wrong patient. They had mixed up the samples and she didn’t have cancer at all. Yet, she got sicker and sicker and sicker, and almost died until they said, “Whoops, sorry. Wrong diagnosis. We mixed you up with another patient.”
Lara: But she thought she had cancer.
Carmina: She completely recovered, but her body was believing that, and therefore started to act as though. So, this is just a real thing that operates in us.
Again, you don’t want to just look at one, narrow piece, which is why I am all about creating not just health, but wellness and well-being. Because the thing about well-being is that that is a less tangible thing and so many things influence it: Our careers. Are we okay financially? Are we moving regularly? Are we sleeping enough? Do we have good relationships? Do we have close friends? Do we have community and a sense of belonging? Can we change? Are we in safe physical environments? All of those things create this big concept we call well-being, which is individual for everybody.
Lara: It is. I remember when you and I first started working together, the first thing you said was, “We have to get you sleeping.” I wasn’t sleeping.
Lara: “Before we can touch anything else, we have to get you sleeping.”
Lara: Until then, my body could not rejuvenate because it wasn’t getting any rest at night.
Lara: It just amazed me. We took one piece at a time and we…
Carmina: Yes. And taking that one piece at a time is important.
Lara: We went slow. Oh, it was hard. I was like, “Where is this quick fix pill?” There wasn’t one. [LAUGHTER[
Carmina: Right. Because you’d been feeling miserable for so long, too. When we’re in that place, we want to get well, like yesterday.
Carmina: Unfortunately, the sicker we have been, the longer it might take to get into our full recovery. Everybody is different and everything happens at a different speed. That’s another thing that’s always just a miracle to me – no two people have the same path. At all. That’s why when I work with people, I just take them where they are, on an individual basis, and we go from there. I can have three people that sound and look like Lara and have all the same complaints, but we will have different pathways for each and every one of them.
Lara: Completely. Unreal.
Lara: When we come back from break, we will continue our conversation with Carmina McGee. We’ll be right back.
Lara: Welcome back to The Zen Leader. I am Lara Jaye. You can find me here at www.wsrqradio.comor www.larajaye.com. My guest today is Carmina McGee. Carmina in Los Angeles. You can find her at www.carminamcgee.com.
Carmina, during break we were… we’re always talking, you and I. You have helped me so much. Your passion is just pouring out, the more we talk. You said something really… like, it just poured out. Do you remember what it was you said that you wanted to share?
Carmina: Yeah. Sure. I do. I was just saying to you, Lara, how incredibly appreciative I am that you invited me on just to be able to get this message out to women who are out there and suffering so that they can get the help they need. It doesn’t have to be with me. It doesn’t matter where. But it’s possible and there’s no need to stay in that suffering. I want women to be liberated from that. I want them to know that they can have the life they want. They can have energy. They can have clear thinking again. They can remember where they left their keys and things like that. It just kills me when I see women who have been silent or are afraid to go to the doctor.
I just want to make a quick side note about this because this is something that’s really on my radar these days and this is this idea of so many women who will not even go get medical care if they are overweight, or carrying a lot of extra weight, because they feel very stigmatized when they go in to see the health professional. They are put on the scale, which can often feel shaming when it’s not handled right.
Lara: I completely agree. Yes.
Carmina: You can refuse to be weighed, number one. A little-known secret.
Lara: I did not know that. Good to know.
Carmina: Yeah. And you can also ask for a blind weight. If they have to see it for some specific clinical purpose… and sometimes they do. If you’re going to get medications, sometimes your weight will be a factor in what the dose is and it becomes a critical thing; however, they don’t have to share that with you if you don’t want to know it. Because another prevailing myth is that only thin people are healthy and heavier people aren’t, which is a bunch of nonsense.
Lara: That is just not true.
Carmina: I promise you. No. I have worked with thousands of patients and sometimes my thinner patients were often sicker than the ones who were carrying extra weight, who might be actually quite fit and maybe just had a few things that they were working on. You can make no judgments from the size of somebody’s body. That is not a litmus test for health. Not a litmus test for health. The size of your body has nothing to do with it. Okay? Very radical statement, but I stand by it.
You want to look at more meaningful things like: What is going on with your lab work? What is going with any disease processes you might be struggling with?
I know I segued a little bit but, truly, this is becoming a social justice issue and there are a lot of us out there now just working on body positivity. There is a fantastic organization called Health at Every Size. I just encourage all women who are interested in this topic to please go see it. Linda Bacon is a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant woman who is a professor, who is a researcher, who has some very valuable information to share on this. Very well-researched, by the way.
But getting back to the medical piece, a lot of times women avoid going to the doctor because they’re afraid to go, because they are going to get lectured again. “Well, just lose weight,” as though that is going to fix something. It’s backwards. It’s backwards. When we are losing a lot of weight unintentionally or gaining weight unintentionally and holding on to weight, often times that is your body’s way of communicating to you that something is wrong inside. Something is out of balance.
Lara: I’m so glad you brought that up. I was going to say that. Yes. We need to slow down and listen to our bodies. What’s it trying to tell us?
Lara: It’s trying to protect us. It’s doing something for a reason.
Lara: And we fight it. We disconnect from it. We try to numb it some more, tell it to be quiet.
Carmina: We call it names.
Lara: We call it names.
Carmina: We denigrate ourselves.
Carmina: We call ourselves names and do all of that stuff when, in fact, there’s that book, “The Love Languages,” it is sort of like that. It’s like learning the body languages. Right? Our bodies are constantly in communication with us, if we would just listen to them.
In this case, here’s the other way to think of it, which is the way I approach it, is let’s not look at the weight. Let’s look at, okay, your body is screaming it wants some help. Let’s look at what’s going on with your underlying health and let’s address that. Let’s get you healthy and then your body will settle in to where it wants to be.
If I can add a little piece about what I think ideal weight is, it’s not an actuarial chart that was made up by insurance companies where if you’re 5-foot tall, you should weigh 100 pounds and you add 5 pounds for every inch after that, that’s just nonsense. It’s based on old, old, old actuarial charts basically betting on death. Right? That’s what those are about. They have nothing to do with body composition, have nothing to do with size.
Lara: We look at that and then we still feel ashamed. You know?
Lara: We think, “Why can’t we fit in this box?” It’s because we’re not meant to.
Carmina: Exactly. The other thing, while we’re on this topic, because this is something that’s one of the core things that I work on with my clients.
Lara: It is.
Carmina: This concept of weight being king. You know, ladies… ladies, listen up. Throw your scales out.
Carmina: Take a hammer, crush them, throw them in the trashcan. They’re telling you nothing useful. Honestly. Do you not look in the mirror and see maybe your clothes are getting snug? I think you do. Again, going to a doctor and saying, “Well, just lose weight,” is not going to make you healthier, so it’s important to start shifting that thinking again so that we are not at war with our bodies, [00:30:00]so that we befriend our bodies, we love these earth foods that we are given to walk around on this planet while we exist to experience all the wonderful things that are here to experience.
Lara: I love this viewpoint. Instead, we beat ourselves up mentally. Physically, we’re like, “Why are you fat? Why are you bloated today?”
Lara: Not even “why,” it’s… we curse ourselves.
Lara: Then it just makes it worse to fight back. We resist ourselves.
Carmina: I think one of the biggest illnesses we have out there, as women, is — I’m going to call it that — actually lack of self-compassion. There is a wonderful professor out of Austin, Dr. Kristin Neff. Go to her website. It’s wonderful. She’s done a lot of work on self-compassion and, actually, brought it in to academia. There is a great quiz on her website where you can see how much self-compassion you have. It’s shocking when you take it. I was shocked. I keep trying to get better, myself. I’m no different than everybody I work with.
Lara: Oh, you’re not perfect? What?
Carmina: Yeah. Yes, I was perfect. No, of course not.
Lara: I know. I’m just kidding.
Carmina: Of course not.
Lara: I know.
Carmina: I’m on the same journey as everybody else.
Carmina: That’s another reason I feel really so blessed to be able to do this work because everybody that I get to work with and support, and help and guide, reminds me of my own journey and strengthens my own resolve to keep doing all of those things for myself.
Lara: You were able to help me because you had walked it ahead of me, and you were able to turn around and help me and say, “This is where I was,” and then bring in all of the medical stuff that I didn’t… I thought I was hiring a registered dietician…
Lara: …and I had no idea. I want… I know we only have a couple minutes before this next break, but I do want to talk about how you work with people and how unique it is because you can work with anyone, anywhere in the world.
Carmina: Yeah. Yeah. Right now, across the US, I have an online practice. As of January, I became just an online practice. I closed my brick and mortar office and said I wanted to just be able to do it this way, for a number of reasons, and I actually really love it. It’s so much fun to be able to work with women in other areas. I have clients in Florida and Hawaii and Colorado. Just all over the place. It’s so interesting because each area also has its own challenges. There are geographical things that we have to work around like finding medical care, being able to find a place to even go get simple things done. I worked with a woman in Montana who had to drive 3 hours just to get blood work. Three hours.
Carmina: It’s really funny. Yeah. I was thinking about this with all the kerfuffle going on with healthcare in our country as it is right now. It’s imperative, imperative, that we really become owners of our own healthcare more and more and more, and not rely on just the doctors and just the medicines and all that stuff, but really use the power of nutrition, lifestyle and everything that that encompasses to save ourselves. Because I just got a notice that my insurance company is pulling out and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m not really worried because I hardly ever go to the doctor anymore, but — but — if I get hit by a car, that’s going to be a problem.
Carmina: What we want to do is we want to preserve and care and curate our own health as much as possible.
Lara: And take charge of ourselves. You and I have talked about this many times, about how important it is that we take charge and not just depend on the system to run us through because we know where the system is going to run us, if we let it.
Carmina: Exactly. Exactly.
Lara: We are going to take a quick break and we’ll be right back with more on The Zen Leader.
Lara: Welcome back. I’m Lara Jaye with The Zen Leaderand you can find me here at www.wsrqradio.comor www.larajaye.com. Carmina, my guest, you can find her at www.carminamcgee.com. She’s located in the L.A. area, but has an online practice and you can work with her.
Carmina, you and I, right before break, we were talking about how I know you did not say that I was a client. I want to reiterate that. I am the one who… I’m always, generally, totally open with my health issues and who I’ve worked with, and how I’ve worked with people because people that are part of my support team have helped me so much and I want other women and listeners to just know what’s out there. We don’t know what’s out there until you start hearing. I want to introduce people to these amazing folks who have helped me along my route, and you’re one of them, for sure.
Carmina: Oh, thanks. Thank you, again, for being courageous enough to put yourself out there because, in my practice, I absolutely guard confidentiality. I want everybody to know that.
Carmina: I’m not spilling information about other people.
Lara: No, no, no. Not at all. How you and I worked together was so unique, and I want listeners to just really… before break, we were talking about the taking charge of our own health and our healthcare and control of that, and it was new for me. I had this new diagnosis of Hashimoto’s and then, when I got the diagnosis… actually, I think I got it when I had just started working with you, as “Okay, I need diet and nutrition help,” and you were the one who was like, “You need some bloodwork.” Then I still go to a doctor and you help facilitate.
I then bring the lab work back to you and you can piece it all together for me, and for other clients, and give them an overview and help explain these 12 pages of lab reports.
Carmina: I know.
Lara: That was so helpful for me, as someone who is not proficient in this field. Instead of just looking at it and crying and going, “I don’t know what this means,” high/low numbers on every page. “What does this mean, except I feel horrible? Help me.” You were able to piece it together. One little hormone off affects another. My entire endocrine system was messed up.
Carmina: Oh, yeah.
Lara: We had to start with sleep. One thing at a time.
Lara: “Next, we’ll go to this hormone. Next, we’ll go to this one.” It was piece by piece and how important that is.
Carmina: And it’s because it’s a very complex system. The lab work is really interesting because I look at it with a different perspective than a physician might look at it.
Typically, physicians will look at things to see if they’re in the reference ranges. Right? And they’re either high or they’re low. Usually, if they’re high, they’ll address it. If it’s within the range, the reference range, which is kind of like a bell curve, they go, “Oh, everything is fine.” Well, I don’t look at it quite that way.
I find blood to be a storyteller. If we’re asking the right questions, it will tell us where the deficiencies lie or where imbalances are. Also, because I am a functional medicine-oriented practitioner, I’ll […] ranges.
For instance, let me give you an example. Vitamin D3are very, very important hormone that we need for a lot of metabolic things in our body. The reference range of that is 30 to 100. I know this by heart. You can drive three Mack trucks through that reference range. Why not just 1 to 100? It’s huge.
In my purview, I like to see people somewhere in that 50 to 70 range, so I consider that an optimal range and we move to that. But you can go to a doctor who says, “Oh, you’re 31. You’re fine.” Well, the truth is, you’re at the dregs of the bottom. You’re just like getting the crumbs of what you actually need, instead of having enough and having reserves. So, the bloodwork is important.
What I was saying in the other segment that you can tell nothing by looking at a person’s body or just by looking at their weight, because that doesn’t really tell you anything except, “Hey, your hair, your fluids, your bones, your tissues all relate to this number.” This is a way for us to look […]. “Okay, you’ve got a new car. It looks good on the outside, but let me go look at the engine. Holy smokes! Look at all the stuff on that engine. Look at those broken hoses.” It’s important to do that.
We can do some functional nutrition tests that are also helpful, not just blur. It tells a story so that we can understand this communication of our body trying to tell us a sign. It helps hone into where some imbalances may lie.
Now, the thing with hormones that’s always tricky for neurotransmitters is that they are all communicators. A “hormone” means “chemical messenger.” [00:40:00]So, just the communication system in our body, and it works more like a Rubik’s Cube than it does in a linear fashion.
When you tweak one, something will happen with others. That is why you can do one thing at a time. When I’m doing work with people and trying to balance their neurotransmitters — let’s say their serotonin is showing up as being really low or their GABA, but also their dopamine and maybe their norepinephrine, which are on two different systems — we don’t hit everything all at once because you’re just going to cause a big bunch of chaos. You start with one thing. You start low, you go slow, and you let the body then recalibrate. There is this constant recalibration that we want to do with your body, and it’s capable of doing it if you give it time and give it enough of the materials it needs to do that.
In my practice, I do use a targeted approach with supplements. Supplements, to me, are in addition to. They are not in place of food and doing all of these other practices correctly. But when used correctly, in a very targeted way, and sometimes just for a very short time, it helps to speed us along to getting into that balance faster than we could do it if we were just trying to do it with food. I wish I could say we could always do it just with… it could take a very, very long time.
Lara: Right. The supplements, they’re supplemental and provide such a support depending, like you said, on taking it one at a time and needed.
It was really interesting. I did not understand, until you and I started working together. It seemed like I was eating healthy, but my hair was falling out. Nutrition was not getting into my body.
Lara: I mean, it was getting in my stomach, but then it did not get in to my cells, and you helped me understand the digestive health part of that. Almost, before each session, you would ask me digestive questions and I thought it was very odd until you explained it. I know that’s really what’s happening with a lot of people today.
Carmina: Yeah. Well, you know what? We are not what we eat. We are what we eat, digest, and absorb.
Carmina: It’s that absorption piece that’s really important. If your digestive system is off track for any reason, it can make that very difficult, and there’s a lot of things that affect the digestive system. If you’re somebody who is stressed out all the time, you might even have IBS, there are just all sorts of things that can go on with digestion that impair our health.
Now, I kind of work in four clusters of areas: The stomach and the digestive issues are one, the hormone imbalances are one, the mood is another one – which has to do with adrenal health and stress, and then the weight and body image stuff. Those are the four clusters I work in because they all are related to each other perfectly.
Let me give you a quick example. If you are suffering with a little bit of depression or low mood, it’s very probably that your serotonin might be low. What does that have to do with your stomach and your digestive system? Everything. Because about 90% of our serotonin is actually made and stored in our gut. Therefore, if you don’t have that, your mood is going to be affected by it. And other things, too, because serotonin also does other things. But do you see that connection? You would think, “How are those two things related?”
Lara: Yes. Yes. It all comes together.
Carmina: But it does. It’s actually literally our second brain. Somebody actually wrote a fantastic book that a lot of us practitioners use, called “The Second Brain.” We have so many neural pathways and there are so many things going on in there, it actually does function just like the brain that we identify as being in our head. That brain.
Lara: That’s amazing.
Carmina: We have these two brains that are talking to each other all the time, but if communication is cut off in one, it’s going to affect the communication going on in the other. Does that make sense?
Lara: It does. It’s amazing how it’s all connected.
Carmina: It really is. How things like you could be eating a perfect diet, whatever that is, but perfect for you. You said the thing about, “I thought I was eating healthy,” I always say healthy based on what? Is it on something you read or something that’s out there in the information highway?
Carmina: And you think, “Oh, we’re supposed to do this and this and this, and that’s healthy?” Honestly, what’s healthy is going to be what’s healthy for you. Somebody might have certain sensitivities that, if they eat certain foods, that’s going to impair their health, whereas other people could have the same thing and it’s no problem.
Lara: Because every body is different.
Carmina: Every body is individual.
Carmina: Every body truly is unique.
Lara: I know.
Carmina: So, that paying attention. You talked a little bit about intuitive eating, and intuitive eating is this wonderful tool for really getting attunement into your body for recognizing not just when you’re hungry and you’re not hungry, but “Wow, do I even like what I’m eating?”
Lara: Does it even taste good? Do I even want it?
Carmina: Am I eating it because I’m supposed to? Yeah.
Lara: You and I, Carmina, could talk for days. Unfortunately, we have 30 seconds. I know you have something that you want to offer to our listeners.
Carmina: Yeah. If they want to go to my website at www.carminamcgee.com, I have a free Vitality Quiz: Your Health Report Card. It’s just a very quick little quiz. It goes through and takes them through some of the areas I was talking about, with the gut and the hormones and so forth, and just kind of gives you an idea of where you are.
In addition to that, I also have a little extra bonus in there, which is 5 keys to creating health that gives you some actionable things that you can pay attention to. You mentioned sleep. I wish we could go into sleep. That’s a whole hour by itself.
Carmina: Those are some of the things. It’s sleep, it’s nutrition, it’s self-care, and more.
Carmina: I invite your listeners to please come over and get those. I am also going to be starting a podcast in a few months and I will be informing anybody who is on my mailing list when that goes live.
Lara: Awesome. So, sign up at www.carminamcgee.com. Thank you, Carmina, so much.
Carmina: On the Home Page. Just scroll to the bottom.
Lara: Awesome. Thank you for joining me today. It was wonderful to talk to you.
Carmina: Thank you for having me, Lara.
Lara: Everyone, have a great day.
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