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S1 E27: Rewiring Your Brain with Theresa Piela

podcast Jan 08, 2022

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Amanda: Hey, this is Amanda, women’s health dietitian.
Emily: And I’m Emily, nutritional therapy practitioner.
Amanda: And this is the Are You Menstrual? podcast where we help you navigate the confusing world of women’s hormones and teach you how to have healthy periods.
Emily: Each week we will be diving into a different topic on women’s health and sharing our perspective using nutrition, female physiology, and metabolic health.
Amanda: Our goal is to help you wade through conflicting health information and empower you on your healing journey.
Emily: We hope you enjoy it.

Amanda: In this episode, we're talking about how to rewire your brain and support your body during the healing journey with Theresa Piela. Theresa is the founder of Living Roots Wellness. A colon hydrotherapist by training, she works as an independent health researcher and brain rewiring coach. Theresa holds space for one-on-one group coaching and hosts a brain rewiring membership—that I've heard really great things about—emphasizing brain rewiring and EFT tapping for those with complex histories of gut-brain trauma disorders. She focuses on supporting the most complicated cases of chronic illness that may have lost hope and the ability to connect to joy as a result of their illnesses. With pro-metabolic nutrition, learning to truly embody safety at the level of the nervous system, and release inherited and stored trauma, she empowers her clients with simple tools to reclaim their elegance, confidence, and strength and to ultimately heal themselves. Thank you so much for being here, Theresa.

Theresa: Thanks for having me, Amanda. I've been so excited for this.

Amanda: So why don't we just start right off with what is your story? How does someone get into brain rewiring and, like, EFT tapping, especially coming from that background of colon hydrotherapist?

Theresa: Yeah, I think like a lot of your listeners, a lot of your clients, I didn't even really know I was so sick until it was almost too late. And my story starts very early. And I think research is really beginning to show the impact of the mother's health on the developing fetus and the child. But even further back, the impact of generations before us completely changes the way we come into the world. And so what was showing up for me was as early as second grade, I just felt off, I had a pretty distended stomach, I always felt tired, I always felt really sad. I felt very removed from the other kids, like, as if I were in this gray bubble. And at the time, I didn't have the understanding, the language, anything to really, really place myself in what was happening. And it kind of grew and intensified as the years went on. I just thought it was normal. I just thought oh, okay, this is how I am. Maybe other people feel this way. And I had maybe a little bit of evidence showing that some people just felt different, okay, not a problem, we have diverse experiences.

But it kind of snowballed in my adolescent years. And the classic Western approach, again, is to kind of medicate and treat symptoms. So as early as seventh grade, I was put on Prilosec to deal with my acid reflux, I was given a bunch of antibiotics for all the ear infections I was having, I was eating pretty terribly, because again, I had no awareness of the importance of food. And as a young adolescent, you know, it's just not something you really think about in terms of a long-term approach. And from there, I just continued to go downhill and started developing even more intense symptoms of just fatigue, joint pain, panic attacks, just feeling completely unwell. So again, the approach was, oh, give her some Prozac, give her some antidepressants, put her on birth control, it's good for her bones, all these things that I blindly accepted. So that was the first phase of thinking, okay, I'm, I'm gonna feel better this is going to be leading me where I want to go. You know, it was not the quick fix that I had hoped. And it only left me feeling more out of body, more sickly, more overwhelmed.

And it was my junior year in college, actually, where I feel like it was a very pivotal time in terms of getting my first diagnosis of Lyme and a bunch of co-infections. And it felt like, yes, finally, I had an answer. This is why I've been so sick my entire life. It's like, okay, they can fix me awesome. As a lot of people can probably relate that took my pretty dismal health and basically destroyed it even more. I was put on massive doses of antibiotics for about seven months, I was getting injections of antibiotics. I had basically a binder of supplements, a lot of toxic supplements that I now would never recommend to anyone I love, you know, the classic fish oil, zinc, glutathione, iron. The one thing they did right was put me on a thyroid supplement so I can thank my doctors for that.

But that kind of opened up this world of getting testing and diagnoses and trying to find answers that started to feel extremely overwhelming, because what first was just oh, Lyme and co-infections then turned out to be, oh, wow, you have severe osteoporosis and you're 20 years old. Oh, you have extremely high levels of lead and mercury and thallium and cadmium. Oh, why is there toxic mold in your pee? All of these things that just felt completely out of place, you know. I just didn't feel like there was any rhyme or reason. It made sense, given how awful I felt, but it didn't give me a clear way out.

And backing up from this picture for a moment. A lot of the recommendations that the doctors would give me I would do right away, because I wanted to feel better. So the first thing was a low carb, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free diet, which is kind of like a modified autoimmune paleo approach. Like, really heavy on the nuts, really heavy on the proteins, you know, seven cups of vegetables. Everything that, okay, looks beautiful on a plate, but when someone's gut is already pretty ravaged and dysfunctional, it's, like, maybe the last thing you want to do to someone.

So yeah, it was basically like a downward spiral into more and more levels of dysfunction. And I was losing basic ability to function, I was so brain fogged, so panicked, just, you know, someone you probably wouldn't want to be around. I think one of the biggest symptoms for me was I so badly wanted to heal and was willing to do whatever it took. So that led me into starting to do some self-exploration in terms of okay, what are some other options aside from what the doctors are giving me, aside from what the Western model is giving me. But even with the naturopaths, and the more of the, even Chinese medicine doctors and acupuncturist and shamanic healers…even with their protocols I wasn't getting better. And I started to notice that everything I was thinking, as I was telling you before, every thought that would pass through my head was just panic, despair. I didn't believe I could heal. I didn't want to stay alive. I didn't see any point in staying alive just given how dysfunctional my body was.

And I've mentioned to you probably in the past, but one of the symptoms after heavy doses of antibiotics for Lyme disease was I had lost all gut motility. And some people call it gastroparesis, but what we're understanding now is that the Lyme infection can actually damage the vagus nerve. And basically, even if you're doing everything right, the gut loses the ability to have the normal contractions and the normal peristalsis. So whatever you put in stays, and that was, that was probably the worst of it. Because if anyone hasn't had a bowel movement for, like, three days, you probably know how uncomfortable that feels. I would go about five to seven-ish days with nothing. And that's when I started to realize, okay, I have to do enemas at home. And that opened up my interest into colon hydrotherapy and really seeing this as such a helpful tool.

But long story short, it was when I finally started stepping away from doctors and healers and the idea that someone else was going to fix me, and started to check in with myself and realize, okay, if I don't want to be here, if I don't believe that I can heal, that's on me. It feels like a dark night of the soul if you, if you know that phrase. It's like when everything has fallen apart. And literally, I was 79 pounds, I looked like ET, I was terrified of my body, I saw no future for anything. And yet, I had a beautiful partner who's now my husband. And something about having his company and his reflection that okay, we're going to do this together. It's like that planted a little seed of hope, where I started to realize, well, wait a second…what if I believe I can heal? If both stories are, you know, if we're making up both stories anyways, I'm going to be sick and I'm going to die very young or maybe I can heal. I've seen other people do it. I've seen, I've heard amazing stories of people overcoming Lyme and cancer and all sorts of pretty intense diseases.

So that opened up this beautiful box of starting to change the brain and that really informed a lot of the research into trauma and just rewiring the nervous system, supporting the vagus nerve. And really understanding more about how the nervous system and that feeling of safety impacts every physiological process in the body. So, while diet is important piece, is an important piece for so many people, if they're still stuck in the fight or flight and panic mode, even the best, most beautiful mineral-rich diet is not going to be as healing as it could be. If we start to really change the brain and allow the body to start to say, okay, well, even though I don't think I can heal, what if I at least focus on the fact that I'm still here, my body's still keeping me alive, my heart’s still pumping, and really, really opening up, like, a gentle one step forward at a time. Because there's a lot of ideas right now about, like, how people manifest diseases and, like, you just have to think your way out of it. You have to manifest the vitality and the life that you dream of, which I'm not a fan of, because it puts a lot of guilt and shame on people that are truly very sick. But I am a fan of learning to take responsibility for your thoughts, because, as we've talked about before, your body wants to heal. And part of that schism that I see so often, that I saw in my, in myself is that we forget that the body is desperate and begging to be healthy. And we shame it, we torture it, we criticize it, we create all sorts of stories about how it's not good enough, how it's not trying hard enough. And that's a big piece of this too. So I'll leave it there because I could go 30,000 directions.

Amanda: But, I mean, think about it, like, I didn't realize it started for you so young. Like, that's a lot to recap. Second grade? Like, yeah, thank you, you know, that's a good chunk. I'm still so caught on the fact that you were on Prilosec so young. Oh, my gosh, I just, like, I feel like that would stand out to anyone, like, even if you have family members on medication as being, like, this is kind of weird. You know what this is probably not good.

Theresa: Yeah. And the recurrent ear infections as well. I'm thinking anyone should have seen that as a sign that something's not right. So maybe these days people are a little bit more informed with the microbiome. And, you know, just thinking about the gut-ear axis, and what might be going on there. But I'm sure we have all sorts of listeners. So this is not to make anyone change their mind about anything. But it really made me question the Western medical model, because I'm just, like, wait a second, looking back, I'm like, is that really the solution?

Amanda: It's the solution if it works, and then, until it doesn't, and then they're kind of like, well, we don't know what else to do with you. And I think that's the frustrating part. If someone has an ear infection, they take an antibiotic, it goes away. That's amazing. That's great. But if it doesn't, and it keeps coming back…you know, my nephew had the same issue, like, recurrent ear infections, and I'm, like, we can't keep giving him antibiotics. I think we like it's my choice. I just, I'm always like, like, sharing advice with my sister and stuff, because I would just, like, she does with me. And I was, like, we got to try something else. Because it doesn't mean he can never take another antibiotic again. But I'm like this kid’s two, and he's been on four rounds of antibiotics already and he still is getting these. And it's scary, because you want to do the best for your child, for yourself. You're scared for the situation. And I guarantee that's what your parents were thinking that it's, like, you're just doing the best you can with what you have. And it's so interesting.

You were still really young in college and getting that Lyme diagnosis. That's heavy, that's a lot to be, like, my health is falling apart, I'm super young, I shouldn't be feeling this way. So I can totally see how that spiraled out, it's, everything that it did.

Theresa: The restrictive diets I think was a piece of rewiring my brain towards panic, towards doom, because not only did I start to become so fearful of foods or messing up or not healing, I actually started to become fearful of having symptoms from meals. Because a lot of the foods I was eating to heal actually made me feel awful, you know, like, very extreme flu-like symptoms that compounded over the years. And the more I just had food sitting in me and didn't even realize that was a problem. You know, I didn't know that if you're not having multiple bowel movements a day you're constipated, you're reabsorbing that through the gut lining. Now I know better, but at the time, it was just the cycle of panic, panic, panic, scared to go out, scared to travel. So I'd be at home eating my perfectly prepared, you know, GAPS meal but feeling, ugh, feeling like I could just lay down and just be in comatose position after a meal. So all the things we learn.

Amanda: I know and it is hard. And anyone listening that they've had a lot of food fears developed from restrictive diets, a lot of it does come from, like, not wanting to do the wrong thing. Like, they're trying to follow the list of recommendations given to them by their doctor who probably had great intentions. It's when we're always looking for information outside of ourselves and then never listening to what's happening in our bodies that it creates this huge disconnect that can make it really hard to heal.

Theresa: Yes. And I think as a result, the body learns to not feel safe, because it doesn't know how to trust itself. For an example, like, even just eating a restrictive GAPS diet, like, they start you off with just broth, ghee, and I think a few different types of vegetables. It's so restrictive. Oh and meat. And say you keep forcing yourself to eat that, coming from that really good place of I want to feel better, I'm going to do whatever it takes…it's almost like we forget to even take in the signals that the body's like, ah, this doesn't feel right, this is not working for me.

So part of healing from that is learning that you actually did know what you needed all along. And that everyone's always going to be presenting ideas, but learning to honor that there is that little voice, that it has this pull towards certain things. And there's a reason why when maybe a doctor or a coach gives you a protocol, and all of a sudden, it feels like intensely overwhelming and so stressful. That's something to listen to, because the stress response is so closely tied with that intuition, with the vagus nerve, telling you that maybe this isn't the way. And I think if, for a lot of people honoring that, that that could be a piece of the puzzle for you. Because if something is causing more stress, it's counterproductive—basically preventing the body's innate ability to heal.

Amanda: That's a perfect way to put it. It’s just literally preventing your body from actually healing. But it can be hard, because you're trying to do the right thing. One thing that you said at, like, the very end of telling your story is how you kind of came to this place where you recognize your thoughts. And how if I, like, just kind of start making some small changes here and there, like, I think this could actually help me. Is that, like, what you mean when you're talking about rewiring the brain? Like, what does this phrase mean?

Theresa: Yeah, so great question. I think it really starts with the awareness of starting to look at the chatter in your brain. And for a lot of people, there might even be a disconnect there. Because in a way, life requires us to kind of ignore, mind over matter, or we do certain things and we're not even realizing what we're doing. And an example of this would be we almost expect ourselves to feel awful. Say we've been feeling sick for a while, the brain will start to imagine, like, I'm going to feel so tired when I wake up and I'm going to feel so panicked. And then I'll eat that certain food and I'll feel absolutely miserable. And I absolutely cannot work out because I'll feel exhausted afterwards. And stories like that, where again, we don't even realize what's happening until we really start to look at that. And you can start to question, wow, is that true? Is this helping me? How did this even start? And starting to play around with that.

But yeah, I think it's, it's, it starts with that awareness, and then starting to really ask yourself, okay, well, how would I like to feel about the situation? Am I adding suffering to this situation? Is this real? Is this helping me at all? So that, I mean, brain rewiring could look so different for a lot of people, but it's really just noticing, okay, what's the programming I'm running on? How did this develop? That's a piece of it, but not necessary. And what's the new framework I'd like to think about? And it helps to look at this from different perspectives, I think it's really helpful to even look back on your life.

Because that was a big part for me, realizing life felt so finite, like, it, it truly felt that I was so close to death when I had just reached a point of such extreme dysfunction and extreme sickness. And it was starting to even see that as, wow, if this is my last year on this earth, how do I want to be moving through that? So that that can open up a doorway, because in a way, it's obvious that you'd want to enjoy it, you'd want to remember something beautiful, even if you're feeling sick. What else is there, thinking outside of the body, because you know, that's a piece of it, too. We've become so hyper vigilant scanning for bloating, pain, discomfort, if we have pretty intense gut issues. Teaching the brain okay, yes, you've mastered the art of self-body scanning. What else is there?

So part of my personal process was starting to look outwards and distracting in a, in a healthy way, but distracting from body scanning and starting to look outside. And I would literally watch the birds. I started watching the crows where we were living at the time. And I would get these little gaps of noticing that I wasn't stuck in a panic mode. I wasn't thinking about the next treatment option. I wasn't thinking about how uncomfortable my body felt. And it was almost teaching the brain that, oh, wow, there, there are other things to think about. And there's a lovely idea, I’m forgetting the name of the psychologist, but basically what you, what you put your attention on is what your experience is, which is so true, and easier said than done. So that's why the term brain retraining makes a lot of sense because it's, it is an active process.

And it does take some time, especially if you've really created some deep grooves in the brain. They, it's almost like we can see these highways or imprints in the brain, you've been wiring and firing certain thoughts for years and years and years. Time to start to shift it. And another piece of this, too, is I think a lot of people, they have tried everything and they're doing everything right. And they might even be in a really good place in terms of finally feeling like, okay, this, this new pro-metabolic, mineral-rich way of eating, this actually feels pretty good. But they still have all of these habits and basically triggers that create that state of panic that could be worked on to maybe make that healing process more enjoyable, a little bit more relaxed, you know, a little bit more easy.

Amanda: I find, too, and I don't know if you see this with your clients, but especially with women, when they start eating enough food and like getting a variety and balancing their meals, they have more energy to recognize all the stuff that's going on in their head, and it can bring up a wall on your healing journey.

Theresa: That is such an important point, because brain function requires nourishment. And a lot of these restrictive diets, even if it's, you know, cutting out a macronutrient or just being way too calorically limited, it's no surprise that anxiety, panic, overwhelm, inability to make decisions is what we see time and time again, because the brain’s literally shutting down. I see that as a, an amazing cry for help, of, okay, we need to really boost your vital nutrients. I mean, some of the things that I think it, yeah, really overlooked in the world of mental health and mental illness, you know. Time and time again someone's diagnosed with depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder, and really they, their body's just nutrient deficient.

Amanda: And it's, you know, it's our body's trying to compensate. Like you said, our bodies want to be well, they want to heal, they want to be in balance, and they're constantly compensating based on, like, what we're eating, what we're doing throughout the day, how much sleep we're getting…all these different things are just constantly compensating, trying to keep us healthy and alive. So it's, it's just interesting. I tend to see that a lot in women that maybe they're, like, oh, like, I feel like all this stuff from my childhood is like starting to come up now. And like, like, yeah, cuz you have the energy to deal with it now.

Theresa: Yes, and the body feels safe enough to finally look at what's there. Because I think part of that dissociation and the way we package away trauma is the body wisely says, I don't have the energy to deal with this in the same way that when life's overwhelming, it's like, I don't have the energy to deal with this. So it's a good sign when things are finally coming to the surface. It's like, I guess sometimes I even see acne as a really good sign. I'm like, ooh, wonderful, your body's pushing stuff out. Great. We don't want to keep that tucked away. We don't want to keep that you know, stored in the fat cells somewhere creating all sorts of inflammatory conditions. Awesome, it might not be the most comfortable to deal with, but better out than in.

Amanda: That's, better out than in, I love that. I'm going to use that when someone struggles with acne next. I'll be like, listen to this podcast I did with Theresa. Because that is really challenging, and a lot of women experience acne on their healing journey. And they always want to pinpoint, is it hormonal? Is it based on my gut health? You know, stress related? And it's, like, it's probably all them, and inflammation related. And so it's, like, you just, sometimes you have to let it take its course, which is not always easy.

Theresa: You just reminded me, too, of this idea. That's a perfect opportunity to rewire a thought, because say in the past, you see your acne and you feel so ashamed. You maybe start to feel, figure out, or try to find a way to fix it. Maybe you're scared to go out, because you're scared people are gonna judge you, and you just feel all of that negativity spiraling. That's your cue to think about, okay, well, what if this acne is here to help me? What if this is a sign that my body is healing? What if this is a sign that yes, I'm in a healing phase, and I'm still learning to balance my hormones, I'm still battling, still learning to balance my stress, my liver clearly needs a lot of work, my gut still needs a lot of work. And this is a sign that I'm on a journey, you know, and what would it do for me to show up with a sense of confidence and a sense of trust in my body and a sense of love for my body as it's healing? And you know, that could completely change. Again, that physiological response if all of a sudden we're, like, yes, body, you're doing great, get that shit out, and just letting that change how we show up for our lives.

Amanda: And then it's, like, the acne goes away.

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Hey, Amanda here, just giving you a quick break, hopefully a break for your brain in the middle of this podcast episode to remind you that if you haven't gone through our free training, Optimizing Hormone Health Through Mineral Balance, we really do recommend starting there. And the main reason for that is because you're going to hear us say things like mineral foundation, having a solid foundation, are you putting the foundations in place, especially as we get deeper and deeper into different hormonal topics and specific imbalances in the body. The mineral foundation is always going to be so essential. So if you haven't watched the free training, you can find it in our show notes or you can go to hormonehealingrd.com and it's going to be right on that front page there. But we really recommend starting there so that you can understand how is your current mineral status, how do you assess this, and how to get started with all that just so you can get as much as you possibly can out of the rest of the podcast episodes. But that's it. I hope you enjoy the rest of this episode.

Theresa: It's amazing what happens just by thinking about, if the liver is handling and processing so many of the stress hormones that we're creating, and it's busy trying to detoxify estrogen and endotoxins and the mold that we're accidentally breathing in from the air conditioner that we don't even know is releasing mold…all the things. If we can take out a significant load of work for the body, who knows, it might be the thing that's just tipping the bucket or overflowing the bucket.

Amanda: And one thing that, like, we kind of were touching on that you actually talked about on your Instagram quite a bit is trauma. And I feel like this is a tricky one, because not everyone feels that they relate to this. But I think the more you learn about, like, what is trauma. And I love how you have one post that breaks down, like, capital T trauma versus like micro trauma. So can you talk about how you define trauma? And then how it can, like, differ from person to person?

Theresa: Yeah, really good question. I think we're starting to realize it's so much less about the actual event. You know, it doesn't have to necessarily be, you know, a traumatic car accident or a sexual assault experience or your parent dying when you're young. Yes, those leave a mark on the body. But we forget that just reacting to a certain situation can shift the brain. It basically heightens the fear centers of the brain.

And we might not even realize that we have reacted in the past or that we are reacting, say to our, even our diet plan or something like that. Something that's so insignificant that we don't realize that the body is stuck in this state of fight or flight. So I think when people start to realize that it is so much less about the event and much more about what happened internally, it almost takes the pressure off. Because again, a lot of people are, like, my life, my life is perfect, I, you know, I've had supportive parents, I have a wonderful partner, I have access to resources, I live in a beautiful home. And then you start to ask them more questions, and you realize that there's, so there are so many factors that could have been interpreted as traumatic to the nervous system that might be exacerbating their current state of health.

And just seeing that, yeah, it just provides a sense of freedom, realizing, whoa, it's not about working harder, it's not about doing more, it's not about finding the next protocol—it's about really honoring that, oh, your nervous system could use some support. And thank goodness, you're nourishing yourself, because it's going to work so much better, the body is going to be able to handle so much more stress. Even just having balanced blood sugar completely changes the way the body responds to micro stressors.

Amanda: I think the biggest takeaway of the whole trauma thing is that even if you don't necessarily feel like you had any, like, really big traumas or even, like, little ones, it's the reaction. When I read your post, I was like, oh, okay, it's not necessarily the thing. It's not about the thing or what happened. It's about how your body responded to it. And then how that could still be hanging around.

Theresa: You know a wonderful example is the medical trauma I see a lot of clients coming to me with, and I'm sure you do, too, where maybe they got that diagnosis, they were diagnosed with PCOS or they were diagnosed with early onset ovarian failure, or whatever it is…that alone could send, could create this feeling of, oh my gosh, I'm not safe. Oh my gosh, I'm sick. Oh my gosh, I'm broken. What's the rest of my life going to look like? Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. That alone can change the functioning of our systems.

So, yeah, it's, it's, uh…and not to, I never want to, like, bring something up like this and re-traumatize someone where all of a sudden someone's like, oh, my gosh, this is exactly, you know, all the things I've done, all the things I've experienced have created this illness. It's much more about this empowered approach of you’re a human having a human experience. Life throws all sorts of experiences at us. It is challenging in a lot of ways to be a human. And, and honoring yourself in that process, realizing okay, even if you have been through something significant or seemingly insignificant that felt significant to your body, there is a way forward. And we really have to notice how that event, how that situation, how that experience impacted you. And what we can do to start to transform it, shift it, you know, appreciate it, learn from it, so many different ways to move through it.

Amanda: And I think, too, it, it is really nice, because sometimes it just gives you that permission to give yourself a little grace of like, okay, so I have been through a lot. Like, I have clients that have suffered with things like endometriosis, chronic pain, for decades, for decades. And they're like, why am I not healing as quick as, like, maybe if they're in a group, it's like the other women in that group. Or how come I'm, how come it's been a year and I'm still, like, just starting to see progress. And a lot of it does go back to that you've been in the fight or flight mode for the majority of your life. We have to give your body some space.

Theresa: Yeah, exactly. And I'm sure you see a lot of people with pretty intense food sensitivities and, like, even maybe diagnosable, say they got a some kind of lab test done showing their food sensitivities. But oftentimes, it's because they've been in that state of panic, fight, flight, freeze, collapse, whatever, whatever stage they're showing up as in the stress response. And then everything they put in the body is then labeled as ooh, this is a foreign invader, this is dangerous. So it is honoring, okay, yes, this is not your fault. And we still have to do something about it.

But you get to do something about it. That's a wonderful shift as well, because with the victim mentality that, again, no shame, it can sometimes feel like why me? Like, why is life doing this to me, but even starting to see that as this is my opportunity to actually live a life that's healthy, to actually fully nourish myself so that I can age well. To prioritize taking care of this wonderful body so that I can enjoy my life, so that I can soak in the beauty of the world around me, so that I can help other people so they can leave an imprint on this world. You can just really expand and it's not forcing that positivity. It's really kind of looking at, okay, what matters to you here? What are the thoughts that feel more in alignment with who you actually want to be, how you want other people to feel when they're around you, and knowing that you're not stuck, too, even if you've been dealing with pain for 20, 30 years. You're not stuck there.

Amanda: I think that's the other big thing is, like, well, how does this trauma, or the response to that trauma impact someone's nervous system, the rest of their body? Like, how you talked about the food sensitivities, which I'm so happy you mentioned that because I get a lot of messages about food sensitivities so I think that's a great example. But like, how, how can someone kind of expect that to show up in their body?

Theresa: Yeah, great question. I think reactivity in all of the ways, so whether that's food, sound, light. The one I see time and time again, is just really disturbed sleep patterns, which can sometimes be just the nervous system loses its ability to regulate. And it even, I mean, it takes metabolic energy to relax. So a lot of people are burning through their energy in other ways, maybe just trying to keep their bodies alive. Their body is wisely putting energy where it needs to go. And you know, they're losing the ability to sleep. But it could be something as simple as, like, all of the autoimmune diagnoses I see. Oftentimes, if you start to talk to people, there is a history of significant and prolonged stress. And it's not to say that the body is confused, I think the body knows exactly what it's doing. But it's just showing up as a less than ideal circumstance where the body is not feeling safe. And it's starting to try and create safety, which might mean attacking its own tissues. And I know there are tons of different theories on this. So that's just a piece of it.

Amanda: I don't think we can ignore that stress theory, though. So much more research has come out, and it's especially, when you look at case studies and stuff, there has to be a piece of the puzzle.

Theresa: Yeah, and Amanda, you write beautifully on this, but also the idea that just being in that stress state, we're burning through minerals at such a fast rate. And those minerals are what allow us to create energy, to repair, to detoxify, to build hormones. So many things rely on something as simple as like copper and magnesium. So if we are so stressed out, if we're undereating, if we're panicked about undereating, if we're, you know locked in that cycle, we’re unintentionally digging a hole and creating more of this, you know, state of confusion. It's a state of confusion where the body's like, this is not right, it knows it's not right. You know it's not right based off of the way you feel. But there's just so much misinformation out there in terms of how to take that step towards health.

Amanda: I always say compensation, you know, because you're dealing with autoimmune disorder, reflux, like, bloating, gut issues, all those things, like, your body's compensating.

Theresa: I think we both get a ton of questions, like, help my hair is falling out, you know, what do I do? And even that, I'm like, well, this is a good sign, because your body's letting you know right away that it needs some love. It needs some help. Just starting to look at, I mean, if you think about the metrics, the true metrics of health, an image comes to mind of, like, strength, calm, robust libido, sleeping well, the ability to play, the ability to think critically, to change your mind, the desire to explore, the desire for new experiences, wanting connection, wanting alone time, like this fluid way of being a human. So I think whenever there's a disruption in that, that's oftentimes where we can start to look at okay, well, what is going on on the stress level? How do you even feel about your life? Are you even aware that there's maybe something that could be shifted or improved?

Because some people, again, the awareness needs to be that first place to even reconnect with the body, to even know, okay, are you bloated? What does it feel like down there, not to get over focused on that sensation, but you know, a lot of the normal symptoms we see these days, like painful periods, mood swings, energy dips, rashes. Bloating is a big one, like bloating comes up in almost every conversation for me. Absolutely that, those are the wonderful cues. We can thank the body and say, oh my goodness, thank you for letting us know that it's time to change what we've been doing and change the way we've been doing things.

Amanda: It's hard, because then we want to hyper focus on fixing that symptom. When in reality, it's like, this is communication, we have to take this information in from our body, it, because it doesn't have any other way to communicate with us.

Theresa: I'm glad you said it that way, too. Because so many of the personalities that I know we both talked to are, how can I fix this? How can I do it now? I need to heal this right away. And it's kind of that type A, like, the only way to get through this is to do more, work more, figure out more, research more, be more diligent, when that might be one of the core patterns that could use some attention. Because what if what we know about the body being in that parasympathetic healing restorative state, what if that's actually doing less? What if that's actually taking a break from being so diligent about certain things? And maybe giving yourself, like you said, that grace to say, okay, my body’s speaking to me, thank goodness. Now is my time to master the art of relaxation, to master the art of not scrolling on my phone, and learn to be okay with not feeling okay. There's so many different ways to, to look at what that shift might look like for someone.

Amanda: I'm still thinking about how you said it takes, it requires energy to relax and to get in that relaxed state. I'm like, whew, that one's gonna stick with me for a really long time, I think.

Theresa: Yeah, you know, I started to dive into this when I was reading a lot of Ray Peat's work. But he was the first person to explain that in a way that really clicked. And he was even explaining how, you know, kids that are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, when they give the cell and the nerves the proper environment to function with a stimulant, it actually allows them to calm down. So again, it's this idea of, there's nothing wrong with that child, it's, their body's lacking something.

And that's why we see a lot of people actually sleeping so much more deeply through the night when they have a pretty hefty snack right before bed and they've been eating consistently throughout the day. Because the body has that metabolic energy to continue, continue a lot of the functions that need to happen while we're sleeping and it's not, you know, woken up with a drop in blood sugar and then a surge in stress hormones, so.

Amanda: I feel like most of the women that I work with, they have a really hard time not doing. They're always doing, going, going, going. Like, when they actively try to, like, okay, I'm going to put boundaries around my phone screens, I'm going to try to make more time for myself—it's extremely difficult. And coming from that mindset of, like, well, this requires energy. So just, like, we try to pack as much as we possibly can into our days and get it all done. It's like, we actually have to take some of that energy to relax.

Theresa: Yeah, and you just reminded me, too, the ability for, say the nerves or the, the tissues in the colon to relax, that requires minerals like magnesium to have that softening effect. Contracting with something like calcium. But oh, we need food, fuel to relax, to release and even to repair. You know, if we think about healing the gut. It doesn't happen in a fasted state. So I'm glad that people are starting to realize, whoa, actually it's nourishment that allows the gut lining to heal. It's eating more of certain nutrients and yes, staying in that resting state that allows the gut to heal. It's not about removing and juicing and fasting and cleansing and detoxing. It's more about building and letting the body feel safe with energy.

Amanda: And you know, you don't need a two-hour morning and nighttime routine, doing all the things, ticking off your list in order to heal your body. So I think that's really important.

Theresa: Yeah, I mean, talk about a way to stress yourself out, if it's thinking about I have to do my castor oil pack, and then I have to dry brush, and then I have to go on my rebounder. And then I have to do my red light. And people feel so overwhelmed versus what's the least you could do? What's the easiest thing you could do tonight. And that's when I hear people come back, they're like, I had ice cream, and I fell asleep and I feel amazing.

Amanda: One, like, kind of concept—I really like how you talk about it and I think a lot of people probably aren't super familiar with it—that I want to dig into is how you talk about our limbic system loop? And how to release this, like, three F loops. So can you talk about, like, what is our limbic system loop? What are these loops? And how can they kind of create, like, that wall that we hit when healing?

Theresa: Yeah, you ask such good questions, just have to say that. But the limbic system is basically the more primitive regions, refers to the more primitive regions of the brain that have evolved to keep us safe. So those are the, those are the panic regions of the fight, flight, freeze mode, where if there's a threat, if there's something that feels dangerous, those regions light up, our ability to critically think—more of the prefrontal area of the brain—shut down, and most of the blood flow actually shifts towards the more primitive regions. So if someone, say, got a diagnosis of PCOS 10 years ago and they've been in fight or flight or whatever kind of panic mode perpetually, those limbic older regions of the brain basically stay hyper active. And it literally changes the way we start to think. So the three F loop is something I, I refer to when people are future, forecasting, fatigue, something I mentioned earlier. But it's basically any of those protective loops that the brain gets stuck in as a result of being hyper stressed, as a result of being sick. I mean, even gut inflammation, for example, can send signals up the vagus nerve to the brain stem and it sends off those alarm bells.

So these limbic loops could be something like, we become hyper attuned to scanning for danger within the body, scanning for discomfort, we might assume we're going to be tired. Let's see, that's the classic future forecasting that I see time and time again. We see negativity biases as part of that limbic loop, where we just assume the worst-case scenario is going to happen, which fatigue is a part of that. But just assuming that it's not going to work out, I'm not gonna heal, I'm going to be sick forever, my body's letting me down. Those types of spirals.

Amanda: Pain, do you see a lot of chronic pain people?

Theresa: Yes, pain and heightened awareness of that pain. Again, the brain basically becomes so attuned and hyper vigilant to noticing, oh, you know, my, my knee hurts, my joints hurt, oh, my gosh, and the spirals from there. So it's basically any limbic loop is any pathway that comes from a good place, the body's trying to avoid further harm, it's trying to avoid further discomfort, and it becomes disproportionately focused on avoiding that harm. So what, when the brain rewiring comes in is starting to notice, okay, well, if this is the cycle you're in right now, how can we shift that? And sometimes it's doing the opposite. Literally looking at the loop that we're stuck in and doing the opposite, starting to engage these regions of the brain again.

And that's one of the reasons why I love tapping so much as a tool, because research is showing that the tapping points actively lower the activation in the amygdala, the fear center of the brain, which I think is amazing because we have other ways of doing this too. But there's something really, really special about hitting the acupressure points and even cooler—I get really excited about this—but even without saying any of the phrases, to actually rewire, even just hitting the points, and I know people can't see this but even just hitting the acupressure point, dabbing under my eyes right now, just hitting those points—and we're not hitting them we're tapping them—starts to lower the reactivity in the fear centers and starts to calm the nervous system.

And we can we can measure this. We see, we see dips in cortisol levels, we see heart rate variability improve, we see inflammation markers start to improve—it's pretty amazing how something as simple as touch can start to shift it. And then the phrases that we get to add on and tapping sequences, I think kind of seal the deal. Because it gives the brain a blueprint of where to go. Because once we're stuck in a limbic loop, it's like, this is all I know, I'm just an anxious person, I'm just sick. I'm dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, oh, thank you for reminding me, just talking out loud, remind me.

One of the biggest limbic loops that I see is that, just the idea that, you know, my body is sick, I'm just broken. So then the body's like, you're right, I'm sick, and I'm broken, let's collect all the data points to confirm that. If we start to teach the body that actually, what would the healthy version of me do? What would a healthy person do in this situation? And starting to almost act as if that were true. Not to bright side, not to pretend, but it's almost, like, just getting curious about, okay, what happens. And oftentimes people notice, wow, they stand up taller, they act differently, they, you know, they might be more animated, they might be smiling more, all these things that the healthy version of them would do. And then it starts to lock in, because the body gets a glimpse of that. And it's, it wants more.

Amanda: And I, the whole reason, I brought up this like, limbic loop thing that people probably like, why, why are we, why do I need to know this about my brain? Is when in the beginning, it is essentially what you were talking about, right? Like we get into these spirals, our brain completely masters this art, like you say in your post, of assuming that worst case scenario, and I think so many people can relate to that. But the whole point that I, the, that I wanted you to get across, and I think you did beautifully, is that this happens to our brains, right? It is a protective mechanism. And it's just another example of our bodies trying to protect us, trying to do things for us. And I think if we can look at that whole healing journey, when things come up, like, if you feel, like, oh my gosh, I, I definitely have, I’m in that loop completely, of like, it could be negativity, could be fatigue could be, like, fear around symptoms, whatever it is for you. Knowing that, oh, I actually can, like, retrain my brain to think differently. And then that could completely shift where you're at in your healing journey.

Theresa: Yes. And you nailed it. It's, it's not like I'm sick and I see the world this way—that might have been how it started. But oftentimes, it's the, that limbic loop that's keeping the body sick, because it basically keeps the body inflamed. And then from there, the body isn't able to repair, it isn't able to shift back into that normal state of homeostasis where we're building and releasing and doing all the things we hope we, doing all the things that a body wants to do. So I think for a lot of people that have been sick for a while, that sometimes is exactly, like, the reset, they need to give their body a chance to heal.

Amanda: Or just, and sometimes people just, I feel like if you have that type A personality, or like, whatever, however you want to describe it, like, very ambitious people, very, like, productive people that want to get things done, fix it, and move on… I do think it's helpful for them, too, because you do, I feel like you tend to get in that mindset of, like, what's the problem? Can I fix it? Can I, what can I do to fix it? And then when those things don't work, it just creates this, like, fear and, like, stress in the body.

Theresa: Yeah, I keep pointing to that limbic region, but that's exactly it. It's like, the brain just gathers more evidence, like, see, I relaxed and things got worse, or, you know, and it just collects more and more data versus okay, what, what's the opposite of what I've been doing? If my state of dysfunction has changed my brain and it's furthering my disease, can I change my brain to go in the opposite direction and let the…and almost, it like, starts to transform the picture of disease or the picture of symptoms too. Because we can even train to the point of seeing all symptoms as good signs, as an excuse to really rest, to get excited to rest, to get excited to live differently, because we could keep living at that crazy fast pace. Go, go, go, fix, fix, fix, do, do, do.

But I think a lot of people realize too late in life that, oh, my gosh, is, you know, they live in such a way that just isn't fulfilling, it doesn't feel meaningful, and they're maybe at the point of retirement or later in life and health issue comes up or it gets worse. And that's normally their cue. And one of the things I like to remind people of is you don't need to wait until that point, you can really start to live in a way that feels so meaningful, so juicy to you right now. That everything is worth it even while you're healing, especially while you're healing. If anything, that's more of your, that's your little cue right there to say, okay, yep, I gotta really enjoy this life because it's going by very quickly.

Amanda: I love that—juicy living. Can you, we'll, we'll end with this, because I know I have to let you go. But can you talk about, like, what EFT or tapping is? And then how you help people and use it within your practice and your membership?

Theresa: Yeah, I guess we didn't explain that. But, or I didn't explain that, but…

Amanda: You kind of, you kind of did. I was like, let's just really get into it, because I feel, like, we'll know, like, some people probably have no idea.

Theresa: The Emotional Freedom Technique is what most people refer to it as, or just tapping in general. And there's so many different branches of this. But it's basically the idea that by lowering the stress reactivity in the brain with specific tapping points. And if you watch a video, you can easily Google or you can check out some of my free videos. We're going along a series of pressure points, while basically acknowledging the symptoms, acknowledging the fear, the panic, the worry, the overwhelm, even the meaning of that of, oh, my gosh, I've been sick for so long, I'll never be able to have kids, I'm going to be alone for the rest of my life. I, you know, all the stories that build from those symptoms. By acknowledging those, counterintuitively it starts to deactivate them in the brain. It's almost like the brain finally is able to release the charge of that emotion. And then, as the sequence continues, you basically get to start to shift and lead your nervous system towards the thoughts that you do want to be thinking.

So again, it's not about that. It's not about bright siding, or just saying affirmations over and over again, or just thinking up, thinking better. It's about literally honoring where you're at, what this means for you, and the smallest step forward for you, so that your nervous system can safely take that, too. Because sometimes if we change things too quickly, the nervous system says, ah, another stressor. Yeah, I use tapping as my primary tool with the most complicated cases that have literally tried everything. They've maybe even tried EMDR, DNRS, other brain rewiring tools that just haven't worked. And time and time again, it's like, for some people, it's just like, it clicks. It was for me.

And I know, I didn't really get into that very much, but that was part of regaining hope for me. When I realized, wow, it's way easier to just acknowledge that, yes, I'm scared, that I feel overwhelmed, that I feel so paralyzed in life. Oh, and by acknowledging this, then I can actually move forward wisely and peacefully, as opposed to just pretending it's not happening or wishing it weren't happening. So it can be used for anything from fear of symptoms, overwhelm of symptoms, anxiety, self-consciousness, fear of judgment…I mean, a lot of people use it for, like, weight loss, or just dealing with body image issues, appetite issues, insomnia. The list basically goes on in terms of whatever it is that's coming up for someone that might be adding to that stress load. That's where tapping comes in. It's acknowledging and shifting.

Amanda: And I feel like it's, it, that's the part of healing that isn't always addressed. You know, we're not, sometimes, I mean, I feel like a lot of my clients share a lot of things with me. So I do feel like maybe they're getting some of that out. But having that, getting it out, stimulating different parts of your brain during that, in your nervous system, throughout that process to, like, retrain that and make it less powerful is huge.

Theresa: Yes, that's a big point of it, too. Because there's something so cathartic about talk therapy, or even just someone you love, hey, I'm having a really hard day or, wow, I'm so overwhelmed, or, oh my gosh, I'm so stressed or wow, my belly hurts again, all these things…but in a way that continues fueling the same panic loops. So there is something kind of amazing about tapping that it allows the brain to say, well, and so what, and I'm going to do this anyways, and it breaks those, those stuck patterns. So absolutely, it's, it's very, it's yeah, it allows for that shift, it really opens up the space to shift as opposed to just trying to shift and it's not working.

Amanda: And if people are listening to this and are like, what the heck is a sequence? What is this? Where am I tapping on my body? Theresa has a YouTube channel that I'm gonna, she has, it's on her Instagram too, the IG TV. But if you prefer, I feel like they're so beautiful and nice and big and stuff on YouTube. So if you want to check them out, I'm going to link both her Instagram and her YouTube channel in the show notes right in the description of this video. And you can go watch those and just get a feel for, like, what is a tapping sequence? And how, like, what does it look like? What do I actually have to do? What do I say? Because you really do walk through exactly what to do during it, and it's basically just, like, you do it with you as you're going through everything.

Theresa: Yeah, exactly. And it's, I was so skeptical at first until it started working for me. And different tapping practice, practitioners have different styles, so it's, it's worth trying out different people. And also really honoring, okay, well, what are, what do I really want to work on. So the more detailed the sequences, the more focused it is to you, the more effective it is, because the brain, there's something to be said about using even your own language. That's why I just love this tool so much. Because there's, it's basically completely open to you to use as you want. Like, I even have some people using it in their car on their way to work or, at a stop sign, they'll just take some time to tap on something.

Amanda: I love that, it's, like, kind of, you know, like, any other practice, breathwork, whatever it is, it's like you need a second, you can tap into that literally, and give yourself that space to calm down. And look for specific videos, like, on your Instagram, you have on YouTube, they're like four different things. So I, try to find the specific thing, symptom, whatever that you're trying to work on, and go through that sequence if you can. If you're in the Master Your Minerals course, I know a lot of you listening to this are, she actually made a video for us inside the course. It's under the healing journey section, and it's specifically meant to help you with kind of dealing with that whole process.

And then lastly, Theresa, when did you launch the membership?

Theresa: Yeah, a couple months ago. Yeah, it's, it' feels like my, my baby in a lot of ways. But I add to it every single week, based off of requests, we add, add a new video every Friday, sometimes Saturday if we have some IT issues. But that's been fun, because I love to have people in mind when I'm making a sequence to make it that much more effective. Just really knowing okay, what's going on in their brain? Okay, let's shift it. So there's basically everything for PMS, fear of not sleeping, PTSD, panic attacks, bloating, flare ups, really just I tried to just keep expanding the library. So that's been really fun. And it's the most important piece of it, I think is there's a community aspect to it as well. I think it's good to know that you're not alone, and that so many other people are working on healing. And knowing that you kind of get to do it together.

You know, I firmly believe that we all do better when we all do better. I say this all the time with my husband. But truly, we all do better when we all do better. So just by you starting to work on yourself, you're going to have ripple effects, you're going to be creating ripple effects for the rest of the world, people will notice. You know, it's like, think of a time you go to the grocery store and you just see someone you're, like, wow, there, there's something about them, they just have this sparkle, this, like, magnetism. Realizing that you can be doing that for the world too. You can show up differently for the world, and how, how great is that? That, you know, that there are hundreds of other people doing the same.

Amanda: One other thing that you offer, like, definitely check out the membership. I just love that it's so accessible. It's a really reasonable price point. I think most people could probably handle that. And then if you do want something a little bit more, like, personal, obviously, you work one-on-one, but you do have those group classes where you do those sequences too, right?

Theresa: Yes, yeah. So I, I honor that financially, it's, looks different for people right now so I offer a range. And again, the group calls are fun, because it is good to share. And even some of the tapping studies show that even just watching someone else tap, even if it's something that you're not dealing with, an issue that you're not working on, still has that calming and regulating effect on the nervous system, which I think is fascinating. I mean, that comes back to more of, like, the mirror neuron side of things. But yeah, those are great. And I try to, or I choose a different topic every single month based off of what I get the most questions about in my, in my DMs. So that's been kind of fun, just to see the similarities and letting it serve as a reminder that you're absolutely not alone. Because it can feel isolating to be healing, to be seeking answers, to even be trying to heal and not getting better in the ways that you want to. So good to know that you get to have support that you can share some of that and work together to find what works.

Amanda: I love it. And I love that you have the range of offerings and you're able to create the Tapping With T membership. I think it's gonna be, it already is really special. But I do think it's gonna be a really great resource that I know, I forget who I was talking to…but I was, like, this is a cool thing for practitioners to have as a resource for people too. Because not everyone, if you're working one-on-one or in a group, you can't always afford to work with another practitioner. So it's a really great resource.

Theresa: Thanks, Amanda. Yeah, I'm personally excited about it and sometimes I even use it, which I didn't think I would, because I've actually kind of stopped, I've stopped tapping personally because I feel like I'm in a really good place. But sometimes I'm like, you know, I could use a little boost right now and just, yeah I’ll, I'll do one for just something simple and it, it's amazing how simple it is. And you know, it's kind of funny watching myself but it works.

Amanda: I feel like you're a very calming person, so I can imagine, like, when you said the mirror neuron thing, and, like, I could totally picture people, like, doing the group classes or doing the membership. And even if they don't feel comfortable tapping right away, they do still get benefit.

Theresa: That's how I know this works for me at least. And I always tell people, like, if you don't believe it's gonna work, just try it and see, you know, your body's not gonna lie. Most people get a pretty profound relaxation response right away, they're yawning, they feel kind of floaty, but… I used to be such a psycho. I was a completely different person. I was so stressed out, so panicked. I was, yeah, like I said before, just no one you'd want to be around, you know. And now I feel like a completely new woman. I find myself just laughing at most things and feel like playfulness is my predominant mode of being, which I wouldn't have believed would be possible, given where I was at during my sickest days. So it's, it's good to even just notice, whoa, what, what does this do for me? How does this work? And if it does work, get after it.

Amanda: I think that playfulness being the predominant feeling is my new life goal. I think that's a really good thing to kind of strive for, because it is easy to, like, let things upset you, to overreact to different things. And imagine what life would be like if you had a playful reaction to most things.

Theresa: Yeah, especially looking down at, well, I was gonna say your belly, but your own belly, say you deal with significant bloating as you're trying to heal. When I started making jokes about it, you know it's kind of treating it like a baby? And like I'm saying like, here's, here's Jessica again, you know, when my belly would be completely distended. Again, such a different experience. You know, I was actually having fun. It was turning into a comedic routine with my husband, something that I wouldn't think would be possible until it was.

Amanda: Yeah, that's really cool. And I hope that, I hope people connect with this and feel hope after listening and curiosity, because I think that's one of the coolest things about your posts on Instagram. I often will share them with people, is like they do spark that sense of curiosity of, like, what is possible, like, maybe this is, like, the limbic loop thing. I remember reading that being like, wow, that's powerful to really try to recognize that in yourself. So thank you for everything that you do. All the free tapping videos you make, the content that you share, and for coming on here. I really appreciate it.

Theresa: Thank you, Amanda. This has been fun, really fun.

Thank you for listening to the Are You Menstrual? podcast. If you enjoyed today's episode, please consider leaving us a review and sharing the podcast with someone you think it will help. If you are new here, we can't recommend enough to start with our mineral imbalance quiz. This is going to give you an idea if you are at low, moderate, or high risk for mineral imbalances. And then of course, make sure you follow us on Instagram @hormonehealingrd. And consider signing up for our newsletter if you like nerding out and you're just loving these podcasts but maybe you're a little bit more visual and you want to see things too. We go into a ton of detail in our weekly newsletter. So we would love to have you join us there. Alright, thank you and we will see you in the next episode. 


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