Lynda Cloud And Ashley James
- Recognizing and honoring our uniqueness is going to be the key to our health and happiness.
- Primary food is what feeds us but it’s not because what comes on a plate. It comes in a bunch of different categories. It could be your relationship with health, it could be your physical activity, it could be your career, it could be spiritual, it could be financial. It’s all those things around you that impact who you are and so you need to think about those.
- Living a life of balance being our best self every single day, it’s just knowing what you want to do and how you want to get there you have to help get balance in your primary food.
- IIN’s philosophy and what it means to be health coach
Want to learn how to be the best version of yourself? Where you could have a life lived with balance in all sorts of ways. Find out on today’s podcast on how you can achieve with as Lynda Cloud shares her success story.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I am really excited for you to listen to today’s interview. It’s a little bit different than our other interviews because I’m interviewing the CEO of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The world largest health coaching training company. Lynda Cloud has some wonderful insights. It’s really interesting looking at the life of someone who was so accomplished and so busy working in New York City as a CEO of a major multimillion dollar company. Here she is focusing on how to create balance and health in her life. In a company who’s corporate culture puts the health of the employees first above all else. The emotional, mental and physical health of the employees above all else. Isn’t that interesting? Wouldn’t you like to work for in a company that treated your health as the most important thing? Of course, a very close second, the customer and customer support and customer satisfaction. What an interesting concept. Normally it’s about cutting corners and trying to figure out how to save money and pinch a penny here and there. With IIN, there are bowls of avocados for their staff. They have a chiropractor come in weekly and a massage therapist come in. they have yoga classes and meditation room. They set out to make sure that the staff really are making sure that their life is balanced. That they have joy in every areas of their life and fulfillment. What does IIN get in return for investing in their staff? They get amazing productivity, creativity and trickles down to us, the consumer, the customer. Me as a graduate, while I was going through the program, I felt so supported and the staff are so wonderful to work with.
Many of my friends and many listeners actually have gone through IIN’s program and they had also found that they get incredible service and they feel connected. When they call IIN they feel like they’re being listened to like a human and they’re not just another number. And there’s no high pressure sales that they’re just talking to someone who’s so passionate about helping people become the healthiest versions of their selves. Imagine what the world would be like if every company adapted the same corporate culture as IIN. What’s really neat is that there are companies, and this is what Lynda talks about today is that there are companies who’s training to adapt this. It’s very neat and she shares what she’s done in her life to balance her life in a way that has stopped illness from becoming a problem. I think no matter where you are in life whether you’re interested in becoming a health coach or not. You’re really going to like today’s interview because there’s so much to learn here. I wanted to let you know if you are interested in contacting IIN, they actually created a special phone number, a priority line for Learn True Health listeners. You can give this a call and you’ll be placed with a wonderful staff member at IIN. Most of them are health coaches already where they can discuss with you all the details you want just so you could gather more information and see If that’s something that’s right for you. It’s a major decision to make to want to dive in which of course I did immediately the second I heard about IIN.
I dove into that same day. It’s a major decision to make. If you think about it, you’re investing a year of your life into learning and growing. About half the people that jump into IIN do so because they want the personal growth. I got a lot of personal growth out of the program. I can see just doing it for that alone instead of making a career change. The other half are the people that join do make a career change that they want to add on to their tool belt that they’re already in the holistic health space or they want to join the holistic health space as a health coach. You could call this number, 877-780-5748. That’s 877-780-5748. That will also be on the show notes of today’s podcast on Learntruehealth.com so you can go there. If you’re driving or if you can’t give them a call maybe it’s the middle of the night, you could go to Learntruehealth.com/coach and that gives you access to one of their modules. You can just check it out and see if that’s right for you. I highly recommend giving them a call because having a great discussion with one of their staff members and getting more information from them, you’ll start to feel what it’s like to be part of that culture. Be part of the health coaching culture and you’ll learn more about the different areas that you can work and how it can impact your life and how you can impact others. That phone number again is 877-780-5748. Enjoy today’s interview. Please share it with those who you think would be a great health coach. This is the fastest growing sector of the health space and that’s really exciting. That very soon, I think health coaching would be as popular and as well-known as hiring a personal trainer. That it will be that popular that you’ll be able to go to any gym or any health clinic or hospital and you’ll be able to have access to a health coach. There’s so much potential here and also, with the new legislature. We’ve talked about this in the interview that in 2020 health coaches will be able to work with insurance companies. There are just so many doors that are opening, it’s very exciting. Excellent. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and a wonderful holiday season.
[06:09] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 399. I am so excited for today’s guest. We have with us, Lynda Cloud, who is the CEO of Institute for Integrative Nutrition, IIN. It’s the worlds largest health coach training program and the program that I graduated from and many of the listeners have been graduates or are currently going through the program. I’m so excited to learn from you today, Lynda. It’s such a pleasure to have you here on the show.
[06:49] Lynda Cloud: Pleasure is all mine, Ashley.
[06:52] Ashley James: This is awesome. Now, you have over 30 years of experience in the education space and a lot of it even online of course because we’ve all transitioned to learning online. This idea that no matter how old we are, we can go back to school. No matter how busy we are, we can go back. We can get a degree. We can get certification. We can continue our learning no matter where we are in life. No matter what country we are in. I love that IIN is in all countries. There are students from all around the world who come to become health coaches. I’m really curious. What happened in your life that led you to become the CEO of IIN?
[07:40] Lynda Cloud: Well, it’s an interesting question. As you said 30 years experience which makes me feel a little old. Not seasoned but old. Had the distinct pleasure of being in education online learning for really my entire career. I started out in education teaching for a bit and fell in love with the idea of learning and fell in love with the idea of trying to make learning as engaging as I could and accessible as I could. That took me through a journey working for the one of the largest at that time, education companies, Pearson and really grew up there. Learned a lot about instructional design, learned a lot about product management marketing, sales. Kinda sat in lots of different seats and that gave me the opportunity to really get a holistic view on customers and what’s important to them. Even what’s most important which is how we help students be successful. That foundation really led me into the next step on my career which is running a division in the K-12 space online learning. That was incredibly rewarding and we did a lot on innovation, a lot of innovative stuff there. Had a great run with that company and through my whole journey. I knew I loved helping make education and schools better. That’s what the first part of my story is, then as I went through this journey I realized as a working mom and trying to do a million things, the thing I let slipped and probably paid the least attention to was my own health of wellness journey. Because if you get only so many hours in the day, what you end up doing is sacrificing things. At the point in my life, I was really sacrificing the time I needed to help myself be the best person I could. Whether it was fitness and activity or meditation and good nutrition. These were all came together for me when I started to talk to the folks at IIN and learn about the school and learn about the mission. It felt like a natural intersection where I could take the general management experience and the work I’ve been doing in running large education companies and marry that really in a way I hadn’t been able to do personally. Where I could live my best self at work at all the time. That’s what led me her and I fell in love with the people and the school.
[10:26] Ashley James: I love it. Now you have mentioned that you were part of creating some innovative stuff in the K-12 space. Is there particular aspect of the K-12 program that you helped innovate the you’re really proud off?
[10:44] Lynda Cloud: Yes. There’s a couple of examples. I was really fortunate to be given a space in large corporations where I could do a lot of RND and a lot of disruptive stuff to help us re-imagine online learning and education. One area I’m most proud of was at K-12 was at one large online learning school. One of the things I did there as launch a new category for them around career destinations. A lot of the students going through that curriculum really, it was their last chance. They were struggling for what they were doing next and maybe to where four-year college wasn’t the right path for them. They were looking for an alternate path. We looked that where the jobs we’re going to be in the next 10 years and we put together a series of curriculum with partners to get people get their high school diploma online while they were getting certified and key areas and help them get a career advancement and opportunities. That was brand new school that was launched. That was fulfilling and mission-driven. Doing good and having fun.
[12:02] Ashley James: How many people would you say went through that program? Just thinking of thousands of people, the ripple effect that you’ve had that idea that you’ve ran with your team. Now because if that thousands of people have their career path and they’re supporting their families and feel proud of themselves like they belong to society.
[12:27] Lynda Cloud: It was a fun one. It was one of those that everybody was, “Who could say no helping kids be successful and getting a career path?” I don’t know the actual numbers. I do know when I left, it was fast growing part of the company. We had a lot of success there and longevity. Really for me, that would – your point the ripple impact is really what’s driven me. I have been lucky enough to be successful and I really attribute my success because I love what I do everyday and I feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives. I think that when success comes when you’re passionate about something and as you know, the days are long and to be able to make a difference and to take that ripple and pay it forward is awesome which is what I think IIN does.
[13:21] Ashley James: I love it. What inspired you to be the CEO of IIN? Did someone reached out to you or did you reached out to them?
[13:30] Lynda Cloud: Yes, they reached out to me and I started some conversations. I could tell you the moment that I knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted this role was, I spent a day with the IIN team and if any of you get a chance, which we would love to have you come visit us. Our offices in New York City are so cool. You’ll get a chance to meet the incredible team. You walk into the office and you can feel the mission. There’s bowls of avocados, there’s fruit, there’s a vitamin bar, there’s yoga instruction on Thursday night. There’s a chiropractor, there’s a massage therapist. We live our mission everyday and the people here are really passionate about what we do. We have over 78% of our staff are female and they’re mostly all trained health coaches. They are graduates of the program and so they know first hand what’s important to our students and help make our curriculum and our teaching better everyday as a result of it.
[14:39] Ashley James: I get to interview Joshua Rosenthal. The creator of IIN, the founder at episode 106. He talked about the corporate culture that he had created. That he wanted culture where people really did put their health first. Put the company second. Their health obviously everyone’s health is first and then the mission of helping the students is a close second obviously but we have to take care of ourselves. We have to walk the walk and talk the talk. I thought that was so brilliant. I interviewed one of your staff members and she sure enough said that it’s absolutely amazing. That it’s a culture that supported each other and each other’s health. I thought that is so brilliant. What if every business did this? I know that Microsoft did a test in their Japan office where they introduced a four-day workweek and they saw productivity go up. I think it was like over 60%. Every corporate needs to look at IIN and see what they’re doing and look at what Microsoft just did in Japan and see that by shifting the focus from let’s say Amazon. Amazon works their workers to the bone and it’s cutthroat and a really dangerous work environment to be in long term, shift from that to the more nurturing, making sure we have work life balance. We see that productivity goes up and that longevity goes up. The company flourishes long time and which is what is happening with IIN. So you walked for that space that day and you’re just re-pinching yourself thinking that this is different from every other corporation you have ever witnessed.
[16:35] Lynda Cloud: Yes, I did. For me, that was the personal shift I needed to make. I’ve been in corporate America for over 25 years, my typical lens as a general manger and former head of these divisions was figuring out, how do you take the cost out, does this makes sense, are we operating as efficiently. A hard look at business. When I walked in here, what went through my mind, “Gosh, these avocados must’ve cost a fortune” but as I got to spend time with everyone around the organization and realized that, they really are living their true best self here. As a result of it, yes, we have incredible creativity and innovation and productivity. Figuring out how you merge your personal best with your professional. I hadn’t seen in action life there before. So the avocados are staying for sure.
[17:43] Ashley James: Since becoming the CEO this year which is back in March. You’re coming up on a year in a few months and you’ve obviously just got a moment to step into the role and get the landscape. What have you changed or you personally brought in that has been innovative since you’ve stepped in as CEO?
[18:09] Lynda Cloud: The school is incredible. I can’t say enough great things about Joshua and his vision from how he developed and thought about the curriculum to the teams that he hired. Really, I was brought in to help build upon that solid foundation and how to take the organization from good to great. Trying to think through what that can look like ad how we can start to take the footprint that’s here. Really make a bigger impact around the world and so, we are known as the original, the OG’s are what the team calls it. Health and wellness, health coaching. He coined and created the category. Everything we do is about servicing the category and continuing to build the health coach industry so we can have the ripple effect around the world. The work I’ve been doing over the past few months was starting to transition the organization from the school that we are today and help with some professional development and training of the teams. We’ve brought in a new head of sales and marketing. We’ve bought in a new chief financial officer. We’ve kept a nice blend of the old and new guards to help us think through. How we can start to build and enter adjacent markets. We’ve kicked off a new business plan. We’ll be launching a new product line in April because we see how impactful our health coach training program has been and making difference in people’s lives we want to create versions of that. That then can enter for example corporate wellness and help make aspects of the content much more accessible for folks and giving them a taste of small or short-term course. The first courses will start in April. We’re on that which we’re super excited on that. That’s some of the new things we’ve done. We’ve infused new talent. We’ve invested in our existing teams and we’ve started to think about some of the new markets we’re going to be entering.
[20:24] Ashley James: Very cool. When I’ve had Joshua on the show, episode 106. He said that IIN was hiring lobbyists to advocate and educate politicians in DC on the benefits of health coaching and certified health coaches so that we can carve space out. First of all, protect our rights to be health coaches and also make sure that there is space moving forward for certified health coaches and then just this year, IIN announced that here was some movement in legislature. Can you share more details on that?
[21:04] Lynda Cloud: Yes, I’m happy to. We are the only health coach school really that has full time lobbyist in DC. I had the good fortune of going down and something on DC with him. About a month or two ago, meeting with different senators and legislators to talk about the category of health coaching. Part of what we are doing, is bringing awareness. Helping people understand exactly what a health coach is, how we can impact people’s lives and how we can work side by side with hospitals and insurance companies to help be the coach that based on help reverse chronic disease and looking for ways we can help implement new practices and support for people. The change that you’re mentioning is around it’s called CPT111 codes. That consortium in particular is instrumental in getting the work for the ground. Really what that does is positive for the market because it helps get recognized potentially for some insurance payees and different reimbursements in that area. We have right now was a category 3 and that enables us to collect data around the work that we’re all doing around the industry which hopefully results to category 1 which is what we’re striving for in that space.
[22:30] Ashley James: Does that mean that a health coach soon will be able to work with insurance companies?
[22:38] Lynda Cloud: For reimbursement. What we are hoping. Yes, exactly.
[22:41] Ashley James: Very cool. I see it everywhere which is so neat. I didn’t see it everywhere 10 years ago but now I see health coaches at the doctor’s office and even in the hospitals. My health insurance offers health coaches, health coach service. Because now health insurance companies see that they’re going to save money if they get their customers using a health coach because then it’s preventive medicine in a sense. People are cleaning up their diets and being motivate around their health and they’re less likely to get sick. So the insurance companies are investing in hiring health coaches. I’m seeing the space just open and open where there’s so many job opportunities. I know that IIN also teaches people to be independent health coaches. I think some people, they’re being interested in being health coach but they’re not interested at being an entrepreneur? Can you speak to that? For those who maybe a bit hesitant to jump into the health coaching space because they don’t feel like they could not be an entrepreneur?
[23:46] Lynda Cloud: Yes, happy to. Maybe just by way of context, your observations are spot on. I also couldn’t decide if it’s just because I’m living and breathing this every day and now enrolled as a student that I’m seeing health coaches everywhere but when you look at the data, the health coach market is estimated that it’s going to reach 7.9 billion by 2022. We’re seeing incredible acceptance and growth and I feel like we are just at this pivotal moment where we’re going to become ubiquitous in terms of health coaching and how we can help provide health coaches. Our students who go through the programs you know, we graduate close to 10,000 students each year. About 50% and the data’s been remarkably consistent. About 50% of our students are going through the curriculum for personal transformation. Maybe they have something they’re trying to solve in their lives. Maybe they just want to get themselves better. Maybe they’re stuck and they want to get unstuck but about 50% are going though for their own personal journey and personal transformation and betterment. The other 50% are going through it maybe they are a yoga instructor, a fitness instructor, chiropractor and they want to get additional certification or they want to pursue a career in health coaching and those 50% maybe in doctor’s office, they maybe insurance companies.
Where MDs hiring health coaches, hospitals all over the world are hiring health coaches. Our students who come out the other side are what we’re trying to do is we look at the curriculum is look at ways we could support them in their journey with different options at the end of graduation. One of the things you’ll hear from us early in 2020, I can’t quite announce it yet but we’re keenly focused on how do we help our health coaches who maybe loves what they’re doing. Some of our students are incredibly entrepreneurial but some of them really don’t want to spend their time doing all the business administrative stuff so what we’re working on is the solution where we can help them just push play. And it would be a way for them to get their business going on much more quickly. In the curriculum, we have way that you could help with. We could help you get your social page going, we could help you get your webpage going, we could help you if want to write a book and launch your dream book but this would be much more supportive very specific to the health coach graduate who want to start their own business.
[26:32] Ashley James: That sounds really exciting. That sound like another Lynda Cloud innovative thing since you –
[26:39] Lynda Cloud: Well, it is certainly a team innovative thing.
[26:42] Ashley James: Well, you’re the head right? Just looking back the ways that you carved out a whole new space for the k-12 online platform and help those students who were, they didn’t have a place, they didn’t feel like they belong and they had a place. That’s sort of the same. Right now, you’re doing the same for these health coaches who or people who wanted to be health coaches but they don’t have the entrepreneurial skill. They don’t have the time energy or the skill to break out on their own but they are amazing at health coaching. We’re expected nowadays to be a jack-of-all-trades to the jane-of-all trades. We’re expected to be a great mom and a great career woman or a great stay at home mom or a great homeschooler. Whatever we’re doing basically 15-hour days and then on top of that have these know everything we should know about internet marketing so that we can have a successful health coaching practice. It’s like, I would really want to see someone who’s an amazing health coach and I don’t need them to be a great marketer but how am I going to reach them or how are they going to reach me? I love that IIN is creating a way for these amazing health coaches to be able to get connected with the people to the people that are looking for amazing health coaches.
[28:09] Lynda Cloud: Yes, it’s interesting. I think that our students and the people in the health and wellness field in particular, were passionate people. We’re really are doing this because we want the world to be better place. Often times it’s hard for people to put a price tag on that. One of the first notes I got when I started here via LinkedIn was from one of my students saying, “Welcome. What do you think I should charge for my health coaching session?” I was like, “Oh, geez.” Because we just don’t know how to put a price tag and contemplate the business aspect of running a business which is so important. This side, I think what we’re working on people will be super excited about. It’ll all just help make their lives easier. They still have the opportunity to personalize it as much as they want or invest the time if that’s where they want to choose it but if as you say, we want a really good health coach spending their time coaching and advising and partnering and they want their tools and the resources they can get them.
[29:00] Ashley James: That is such a common question back when I was 19. I went to college to become a massage therapist. In Canada, it’s a bigger course. It’s like a 3,000 hour course. We study alongside nurses when we take the anatomy classes in college. That was one of the biggest question was, “What do we charge? What do we charge for a service?” I’ve seen that again in the NLP space. I was master practitioner and trainer and worked with the international training company teaching people how to become NLP practitioners. All the NLP practitioners didn’t know what to charge. That was the big question. You charge too little people don’t value what you do. You charge too much you’re unobtainable. You want the sweet spot and basically you want a price that honors the client. What I love about health coaching is it’s affordable. It’s accessible and affordable for people to go through your program but for people for clients who also hire health coaches. I love that it creates because you could do group coaching. Some people charge like $20 or $40 a month and they get a whole group together and by the end of it, the group learns more from each other. Learns even more from each other than they did from the coach but the coach was the facilitator. There’s so many opportunities for people who are even they can’t afford to go see all these holistic experts but they can definitely afford health coaching because health coaching helps them to identify the actionable steps they can take to bring their life back into balance. Now you started being a student at IIN. How far along are you in the program?
[31:00] Lynda Cloud: I am in early days. I think I’m in fifth module. I started working with the education team on the curriculum. We’re starting to look and refresh of the current and I thought I had to start taking this because this is just so compelling. I’m loving it, I’m doing it at night. I’m having fun with it. My family I think is feeling the impacts of it already.
[31:30] Ashley James: Now even before module five when you first joined IIN, there’s a foundation. The second you join even let’s say your class hasn’t started yet because there’s an official launch. The whole cohort of students go through it together even though it’s online you feel like you have this community. I love that because I connect with people around the world. All the students that were in it that the same time as I was. I participated in discussion throughout the whole year together online. Before your official start date when you join, so you can join anytime. You’re given the fundamentals modules and you have to have Kleenex with you because I bawled. I was crying tears of inspiration the entire time. I was like, “I am meant to be here.” It felt like –
[32:25] Lynda Cloud: You found your people.
[32:26] Ashley James: Yes. And it felt like I wasn’t the black sheep anymore. I was just crying and crying. It was so good. It was so cathartic. I felt like my favorite part of the entire year was the foundation. So don’t change that. Just add to it but don’t change it. It was so good. When you watched the fundamentals, the foundation modules what were you’re thinking as you’re going through it?
[32:56] Lynda Cloud: So for me, there are couple of things that happen. I feel like I cheated a little bit because of my role I have the opportunity to go to one of our live events. We had a couple of months ago that was incredible which I’ll talk about which felt like for me that was cathartic but it all made sense to me. There was a ton of common sense but then there’s this shift that transpired where what you were all of a sudden is primary food is not a primary food anymore. Once you start to make that shift and you think about the idea of what’s feeding your soul versus feeding your body and understanding. All those aspects. That to me was really substantial and how I thought about all aspects of my life. Then it was great to get to know Josh which you’ll do – you just feel like, he’s brought you into his world. As well as the other visiting teachers that are incredible. It’s been great. It’s been really helpful for me. Not just in my own personal life but also professionally.
[34:15] Ashley James: Tell us about the live event because it sounds like you enjoyed that even more than taking the online training.
[34:23] Lynda Cloud: Each student as you know who goes through our program has the opportunity to participate in a live event. It’s an event we hold one big event and that’s another area we’re actually looking at for next year is diversifying that and holding many more live events so that we could give people the opportunity the students the opportunity to come together. The live event that I attended was at the Lincoln center. It was a combination of incredible speakers, incredible community. We we’re dancing, we were swaying, we were crying, it’s like a revival meeting where you’ve come to gather and you found your people and people were just excited to be with other students. We have about 25% of people there who came outside the US, which marries the numbers of students we have in our curriculum who participate from outside the US. But was wonderful. It was just a good combination of wonderful speakers and community and people coming together.
[35:34] Ashley James: That’s really cool. What speaker was your favorite?
[35:37] Lynda Cloud: Dr. Weil was there. I just adore him. Andrew Weil I think is brilliant. He’s fantastic. Cherry Walsh talked about her protocol. I had the chance to visit with her and her daughter. She’s just an inspiration. From the business side, there was a woman there Meghan McCarthy. She is a hospital administrator from a hospital in the Pacific Northwest that we do a lot of work with. She’s like our first corporate client if you will. Meghan is an inspiration because she is breaking down those walls and saying, “I believe that health coaches can save the world and I believe that everybody needs to be health coach. “ What Meghan is doing is putting folks in the hospital through the health coach program and then doing a train the trainer model within her hospital community. She’s breaking it. She’s killing it. She’s just doing great work.
[36:48] Ashley James: Wow. Can you share which hospital it is?
[36:50] Lynda Cloud: PeaceHealth.
[36:53] Ashley James: I live in the Pacific North West, I’ve never heard of it but I bet I will be hearing about it. Sounds amazing.
[36:57] Lynda Cloud: You will, yes. We’re actually doing some outreach. She’s a force and she’s just great to work with. So we’re doing some additional work with her. Going out into committees and helping train the trainer within the communities and some of the work she’s doing with meals on wheels program, YMCA, etc.
[37:18] Ashley James: I love it. Since you joined IIN as their CEO, obviously you’ve been learning, you immersed into the corporate culture of IIN. You have gone to the live event, you’ve rubbed elbows with Joshua Rosenthal which you spent any amount of time with him and he is teaching you how to balance your life in a way that brings you joy. You have started to really absorb all of the education that IIN teaches. What changes have you made to your personal life since joining IIN?
[38:00] Lynda Cloud: My whole world changed when I joined IIN. I’ll tell you about it personally and the how IIN helped me get thought the change. I was living up in a town called Newton, Massachusetts right outside of Boston before taking the role at IIN. I moved to New York City. For the first time in my life, I’m living in New York city. That was a huge change. On top of that, my youngest left for college and we were instant empty nesters. You couldn’t have changed one more thing on our world if you wanted to. For IIN to New York City, that’s a big change. What I found though is I’m eating a lot healthier. We have organic breakfasts and lunches. I eat clean every day that has helped for sure with my energy and my stamina and my overall health. I’m meditating more because New York can eat you up. It can be a really frenetic hectic place. Overwhelming for a sensory perspective, IIN’s philosophy and methodology has helped me I think transition into the city in ways that I can focus on self-care in New York City which is not a an easy thing to do. But it has helped me think about ways to optimize my nutrition, my fitness and my health in a city environment.
[39:39] Ashley James: Very cool. As you’ve been going through the course, I know you’re only five modules in, there’s still a lot of content there. What homework have you implemented in your life from the course?
[39:56] Lynda Cloud: I have taken the spirit of bio-individuality and I’ve taken that from theory to practice. So for those of you who haven’t been through the course when you start to think about bio individuality and the term, it’s really that we’re all unique. Recognizing and honoring our uniqueness is going to be the key to our health and happiness. What you need each point in time in your life may change and it’s very personal to you and one of the things I’ve done in terms of theory to practice is taken that and apply that to a very diverse family that I’ve had. I’ve had vegetarian son and a husband who really loves meat and trying to figure out how do I introduce individualized meals and nutrition for them in ways that are going to make them the best they can be and enjoy what they’re doing and knowing that what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily always good for the other person. It’s really shifted my mindset I would say.
[41:08] Ashley James: Instead of trying to get your son to eat meat and your husband to eat vegetables.
[41:11] Lynda Cloud: Exactly. Which was not successful. We’re trying to find the one meal that would satisfy everybody. That’s been great. We’ve also been busy looking at what the next year’s going to bring for IIN and that’s been super fun. We’ve got a team of really talented people. There’s no shortage of ideas where we can take the company but we think there’s some really great stuff we’re doing in terms of working more closely with our affiliates and ambassadors and visiting teachers. That’s been cool.
[41:52] Ashley James: I love it. You’ve been around enough now to have heard some success stories. Both from the standpoint of the students and the staff and also clients. Can you share some really inspiring success stories that standout in your mind?
[42:12] Lynda Cloud: Yes. I think I’ll share a story of a woman I met at the conference. She was just absolutely fantastic. She just finished the program and she was sharing with me that she had her son who have diabetes and was just really struggling with of how to help him. She was telling me the story welling up at how this gave her clarity in ways that things hadn’t been able to give her family clarity before. She was able to take the philosophy of figuring out exactly what was right for him and helping him become healthier and the success he had. When you hear those kind of nuggets, when you hear those kind of stories, whether it’s health related or it’s just people feeling stronger or people feeling like they’re in a place that they didn’t realize they could get to and how the curriculum and the community which is I would say is the most unsung hero around IIN, is just how strong of a force the community is. Whether you’re posting something or sharing something or seeing someone in person just when the community comes together you feel as you were describing, you found your tribe, you found your people who all of a sudden understand what you needed. They are nothing but supportive and they’re just nothing but supportive and happy people that help you in your journey. That’s kind of the theme of the most of the stories and most of the impact. That’s the vision is to create this cripple around the world and pay it forward. That’s our goal.
[44:11] Ashley James: Back in the day, Joshua used to call this something else. It wasn’t health coaching, it was health counselling? Was it counselling? But then the word counselling, it wasn’t clear enough and I don’t think it was legal to be called counselor because that’s is more for therapy. What I thought is interesting is I went into – I signed up to IIN to become a health coach not knowing how much emotional support you learn how to provide. I thought I was going in because you learn in IIN in the yearlong course, you learn a hundred dietary theories and I thought I was going in to learn nutrition and how much vitamin C is in something. Which is you don’t really need to know. You don’t need to memorize how much vitamin C is in stuff, you could just google it but you actually learn skills in IIN. How to be with someone and hold the space for them to feel heard. Sometimes for the first time in their life. In a way that is not biased or doesn’t have an agenda. Because when we go to our best friend or when we go to our mom, or we go to people that are in our life, they have agenda. I remember going telling my best friend I was moving. I was moving to a different country. I’m from Canada. And she was really upset because she didn’t want me to move right? That was my path and I needed to. I wasn’t going to get a positive space. She wasn’t going to make a positive space for me. She had to process her own emotions about me moving. When we got to friend or a family member, to talk about what’s happening in our life that stop us from achieving our health goals. Their emotions come up. They can’t be a blank supportive space. Sometimes there’s even self-sabotage and I’ve seen it in my family. I have a family member that says to another family member, “When are you going to lose weight?” and then offers them a cookie. Over and over again. This level of sabotage that’s going on and we love our friends and family, they have their own agenda and maybe it’s unconscious.
Going to a health coach you have someone who listens to you who just sits with you listens to you and helps decipher what your goals are. What your true desires are. Then holds that space for you to achieve it and helps you to uncover what’s stopping you and then helps you create an action plan towards it. I’ve had some amazing times with my clients as a health coach that I pinch myself and Joshua says this happens when you as a health coach get as much growth out of health coaching as your client does. Every time my client had a success I felt like I had a success because I learn so much about myself and also my ability to hold the space for someone as they grew.
It’s this career that is constantly evolving you as a person and allowing you to feel human connection and love and care for someone in a way that is not co-dependent. In a way that is uplifting them. Letting them do the work but holding them accountable. It’s a beautiful dance because anyone could google the nutrition or the calories in something that doesn’t teach us how to help someone be the best version of themselves. IIN doesn’t teach us stuff that we can go an just google. It’s teaching us skills that we can really help someone achieve not only their physical health but the emotional health ad help them achieve their life goals. I’ve had clients who we ended up talking about their relationships and their career and things would come up and one of them was an entrepreneur something in her business but changing something in her business it actually affected her health because it lowered her stress. I like that IIN doesn’t just say, “Okay, we’re not talking about your physical health, we’re talking about your client’s entire life.
[48:38] Lynda Cloud: Every aspect of it you’re absolutely right. I love the way when you’re describing it. I pictured this swirl. I pictured this symbiotic imagery that what you’re doing on this side has a direct correlation in this side and this side and this side. So as you talk to a health coach it’s deconstructing and building up and understanding and as you say create the space but also these goals and creating this journey and creating this champion that doesn’t have an agenda. There’s somebody you know you’ve got in your camp that is helping you be the best person you can be based on what you want and what you want to do. That is such a gift. I agree with you, everyone whether it’s friends or families it’s really hard to be at complete objective and partial cheerleader for any of us. I know I try, not always successful with my kids but I’m getting better. It’s a really special space and we’re starting to look with some research behind the power of that in the wellness journey. The hospital I mentioned earlier for example is starting to do some work on we want this to be a third party study of folks who’ve inserted, health coaches into their wellness journey and how that has accelerated and impact what they’re trying to do both on the emotional and physical perspective.
[50:20] Ashley James: Wow. Are there any results back from that study yet?
[50:23] Lynda Cloud: No. Not yet. Just kicked off.
[50:24] Ashley James: I’m so excited. That is going to be so cool to hear about that. I love that you’re doing third party and you just because you want to get the truth.
[50:34] Lynda Cloud: We want to get objective, exactly.
[50:36] Ashley James: Yes. Now you mentioned primary food. For those who have not been immersed in the culture of IIN may not have heard the term primary food. Can you teach us what primary food is?
[50:48] Lynda Cloud: Yes. What I thought primary food was before I started IIN was probably what most of you think primary food is which is the food you eat. Actually when you go through the curriculum what you learn is, primary food is what feeds us but it’s not because what comes on a plate. It comes in a bunch of different categories. It could be your relationship with health, it could be your physical activity, it could be your career, it could be spiritual, it could be financial. It’s all those things around you that impact who you are and so you need to think about those how you balance and what imbalances you have to help get balance in your primary food. As opposed to secondary food which is the things we eat and we start to think about food and food is medicine and how that can help feed our soul but also give us balance in our primary food. It’s very spiral in terms of how you think about it. It’s all interrelated. That’s what generally what primary food means.
[52:02] Ashley James: Right and that’s one of the first things that when someone goes to an IIN health coach that they’re given this little on page quiz that helps them to determine the balance and actually see on this graph the balance of their life. How much joy and fulfillment they have, spiritual fulfillment. Emotional fulfilment, connection, fulfillment within their relationship, within their career. They get to see that. The areas that they’re missing. I’ll give a great example that I just witnessed in myself. I’m looking back at the person I was before IIN. I’ve been on a health journey for many years. In my 20’s, I was very sick. I had type II diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic infections for which I was on monthly antibiotics for. I’d wake up every morning feeling like I was hungover with a splitting headache feeling like I drank alcohol but I hadn’t. I was just sick all the time. And in your 20’s you’re supposed to feel the healthiest. I was so sick of being sick. I was also told that I was infertile and I’d never have kids. I had polycystic ovarian syndrome. Basically every day I was a prisoner trapped in my own body who look outside the doctor’s office for what I could do for my health because being given drugs every month. It was just keeping the infections at bay, it wasn’t helping –
[53:25] Lynda Cloud: The root cause, yes.
[53:26] Ashley James: Right. I was a really busy sales manager for an international training company. I lived in Las Vegas which is sometimes may not be a very healthy environment. Most of the time we’re always indoor in air-conditioning and it’s a very interesting place to live, let’s just put it that way. My husband and I started watching documentaries. Netflix has just started streaming documentaries. That was a new thing for Netflix back in 2008. Some health documentary said, “Eat organic and shop the perimeter of the grocery store.” Within one month, my chronic infections went away just eating organic and not eating as much processed foods. I thought, “If I could change my health in one month, what else could I do.?” That’s what led me down my journey to reverse all of my health conditions. We conceived or child naturally and were just getting healthier and healthier. I’m still on my health journey and what I noticed was before I joined IIN to become a heath coach. I already started the podcast I actually interviewed on of your graduates and I asked him during my interview, “How did you become a health coach?” because that was my first time interviewing a health coach. I almost didn’t interview him because I thought it was so cliché. I thought, “This sounds like a BS certification.” I really almost didn’t give him the time of day. Something me and I love that listen to your gut. Something in me said listen to him and it was a beautiful interview. He had ADD and was put on meds his entire childhood. He had side effects from it. He decided to take control of his health and he completely reversed his ADD using diet and healed his body. Then he went on to become a health coach. Now that’s what he does for others. In the interview he told me all about IIN. I immediately got skype from the interview. I called up IIN and I signed up that day. I was so inspired. Of course I turned to my husband and I said, “Is this okay?” he said, “Go for it. This is great. You should totally do this.” I talked to Juliet. By the way, Juliet is amazing.
[55:37] Lynda Cloud: She’s downstairs right now. She’s a rock star.
[55:41] Ashley James: Yes, I think she’s been there forever. Juliet’s fantastic. That I called up my best friend and then told her about it and then she signed up. So we did it together. Which I highly recommend. It was great. She’s in Canada and I’m here in the States. Being long distance and doing this course together was so wonderful. That was back in 2016. I graduated in 2017. The person I was before IIN, even though I was eating really healthy, I’ve reversed all those health conditions, I’m doing this podcast I’m totally on board with holistic health, that person I was would not have said “No” to the free sample of chocolate at Costco. That person every time and we go to Costco like twice a week at least because I buy a lot of organic stuff, we have a great Costco it’s filled with organic produce. The cart gets filled up with organic fresh fruits and vegetables every time we go and I will go back again and again for the free chocolate samples because they’ll give out as many. The Lindor chocolate they’re really decadent ones. I would just circle the Costco and go back and again and again and get as much free chocolate as they’ll give which they’ll give infinite amount of free chocolate samples but every year I would absolutely do that. And then would just not feel my best for a few days. I’m allergic to milk and so my immune system would be upset. My digestive system would be upset. I would be inflamed. I’d have brain fog. When you’re really healthy and clean, if you eat something your body doesn’t like it causes inflammation you really notice it. When you eat it all the time and you’re habituated, you don’t notice it as much. Even though I was on this great path I would still give into chocolate and then when I went through IIN. I started to look at my primary foods. Meaning, the food in life that brings me joy and happiness and fulfillment and balance. The food being connection with my husband, connection with my child. Feeling like I’m making a difference in this world. Now fast forward to now, I walked through Costco twice this week and didn’t even give them the time of day, didn’t touched any of the chocolate and didn’t feel deprived about it. I actually felt really happy. Because in the past I recognized that I was using chocolate even if it was free samples I was using chocolate to try to give myself joy and fulfillment because my primary food where out of balance. Just yesterday I had a package in the mail that had a bunch of Hershey’s kisses in it from a friend of mine who I guess – it’s just people send chocolate and it’s that the time of year that they send chocolate. I love that person. I’m grateful and I threw out the chocolate. I have no need for that in my body but I didn’t feel deprived and I’m not, I don’t have a ton of self-control. It’s not like I’m one of these people that has a ton of self-control. It just didn’t needed it. It doesn’t fulfill that I’m not using chocolate to self medicate because my primary foods are imbalanced. I’m deeply connected with my husband and my son, I feel fulfilled in my career. I’ve gone through and done the work in the primary foods. I recognized that my food addictive behaviors have subsided because I have done the work that I learned through IIN.
[59:36] Lynda Cloud: Your story is awesome and it is inspirational and it’s also very familiar. When you talk to a lot of before and after IIN, it’s very similar. That you don’t realize what was missing or what was out of alignment or what part of your world your primary foods weren’t in sync but once you actually make that shift tor work on making that shift because the way you describe it is exactly right. Just identifying that, “Do I have the strongest healthiest relationship I should? Do I have the most fulfilling career? Am I in the right place for my spiritually? Am I getting the right amount of physical activity?” Once you actually start paying attention to those aspects and then doing the work in those things that you know are going to help you create that balance, you have this Aha moment and you say – the way you describe it was your Lindor chocolate, you don’t actually think about that anymore. That used to be probably the first thing you thought about when you got into the car on your way to Costco. I know probably would’ve been mine too but now, your mission is different. Your priorities are different. Anyway, I love your story and I love your journey. It’s exactly what we want to hear from our grads.
[01:01:02] Ashley James: Thank you. Thank you for the work that you’re doing. I’m really excited for all the innovative stuff you’re going to be doing with you and your team at IIN. Is there anything that you wanted to teach today or homework you want to give? Is there anything that you really wanted to make sure that the listeners walk away with?
[01:01:25] Lynda Cloud: Well. I think what I would say is one of two things. One is I’ll just say some tips maybe as people are headed into the holiday season as you described, the baskets of chocolates, the baskets of cookies. Getting off your rhythm or your routine. It happens. And so I would just caution people to embrace what they’re about to embark on. Enjoy their family, enjoy their friends. Don’t beat yourself up over if you grab the Lindor chocolates a couple of times this months. It’s going to happen. Or where if you fell like you need to just remember that everything you’re doing is good for you and who you are. Stay true to your mission and vision of what you want to be and where your life to take you because we’re all – I think it’s not about being our best self every single day, it’s just knowing what you want to do and how you want to get there. For me, I go into this season I am still be an interesting one, I can tell you from the last 3 years, I have ended up with an incredible sickness that’s started the first week of December. Literally, I had been in an urgent care in the hospital every December for the past 3 years because of the stress of the holidays. It would often be end of year budget. I would have blisters on my throat. I would end up respiratory something. I’d have all sorts of illnesses and going into this December I feel so different.
One is because I’ve got alignment around – not that I haven’t loved my career but I feel like my career and my personal goals are so aligned for the first time in my life. I am paying attention in what my body is feeling so I’m drinking more great tea so I can help with some of the inflammation. I’m eating more mushroom because I know it’s going to help me in terms of detoxing and looking at some things that are going to be stressful for my body. I’m going into the season not that I’m going to live a completely different life but I’m paying attention to my gut and my body and what my body has been telling me for years that I never ever listen to. That’s my advice. People should just go on to the holiday season listening to their body, listen to what they need to be successful and happy and have a fulfilling holiday season. That’s some advice and then I would just, I’d close with keep your eye out for what were going to be, you’ll be hearing from us over the next year. I think we’re doing some super exciting stuff to help based on what we’ve heard from our students and based on how I think we could make a difference in lives around the world. So we’re launching a detox your life healing with alternative medicine, stress management, different types of specialty course that we think will be really interesting for folks to get a taste of IIN curriculum in ways that’s new and different and also our business tool kit which you’ll hear more about as I promise early next year.
[01:04:49] Ashley James: Very cool. Awesome. Listeners can go to learntruehealth.com/coach to sign up to get a free module just to get a taste of it and see if it’s right for them and learn more about IIN. So it’s learntruehealth.com/coach. They could also just call up IIN. I know that listeners get a really special deal for saying that they heard the Learn True Health podcast with Ashley James when they call IIN. I know that there’s a new lower payment plan for those who would instead of paying the price in one payment would rather pay it off monthly. What Juliet told me when I first signed up she said – I joined and did the payment plan. She said to me if you do the 12-month course because now you can actually become a full time student and do it in six but my understanding is that most people because we have full time lives –
[0105:53] Lynda Cloud: It’s designed for most people who have a full day and then want to do it on top of that. Yes.
[01:06:00] Ashley James: Right. For me, I had my son who was a young toddler at that time or just entering toddlerhood. I also had the podcast. I was very busy and I still managed to do it. Log in into the evenings, do 20 minutes a day oftentimes listen to the videos while I was commuting, while I was at the gym, while I was doing the laundry. I could listen and commute a lot I just pretty much anytime we are commuting we are listening and that was cool because I was like getting my husband to listen too and he enjoyed it. He actually went vegan. Went completely whole food plant-based and he went from a carnivore. Maybe play the videos while your husband listening.
[01:06:48] Lynda Cloud: I have been.
[01:06:49] Ashley James: I’m not saying that everyone should go vegan or everyone should go one diet. I don’t believe in any one diet dogma. My husband listened to his body. After listening to enough just sort of being the fly on the wall while I was taking IIN, he listened to enough lectures and he was also listening to my interviews and he was taking all these information listening to his body and he really wasn’t happy with the direction his heath was going. He just cold turkey said, “I’m never eating meat again.” So he just eats one to two pounds of vegetables a day. Potatoes and brown rice and he just says I’m ever going back. I can’t believe food tastes this good. If you told me that the whole food plant-based tasted this good, I would’ve stopped eating meat long ago and that’s just the 180 because my husband when I met him, was like would never ever touch vegetables. Pretty much just ate steak breakfast, lunch and dinner or eggs and steak breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Just very interesting that he started listening to his body. Really this videos do have an impact on the people who absorb them. I found that I could either listen to it little bits of it throughout the week or sometimes if I got really busy I would then to choose to spend a Sunday afternoon catching up for all the work that week. Just so I found it to be easy to go through the entire year but what Juliet said when she first enrolled me into the program, she said after the first six month, you start to take on clients. Some students get to the point where they actually pay of the entire course before they’ve completed the course because they’ve taken on some clients while they’re still in the course. Because the first six months gives you the foundation. The next six months you continue your training but you also learn how to work with clients as you’re working with clients which is just find brilliant.
[01:08:40] Lynda Cloud: That’s right. You’re moving from theory to practice. Exactly. Yes.
[01:08:43] Ashley James: I love that you guys don’t just like, “Okay, here’s all the information. Now you’re on your own.” It’s really you feel supported for the six months while you’re working with clients. It’s really a wonderful system and that people can immediately start to within the first after six months can start to basically pay off the course. It’s accessible to everyone and I love that. Any advice around those who want or interested or have more questions or want to sign up or any sort of want to make sure that potential students know some information?
[01:09:21] Lynda Cloud: I’ll just give you a quick little. As you described, you can do it on accelerated program six months or you can do a full year program. There are lots of promotions so you should check in to instituteofintegrativenutrition.com. You obviously – I think if you go through Ashley, you’re also going to get additional promotions. Logistically that’s just good to know. I think you should also know, Juliet is a really good example. We actually just did a town hall. We celebrated her 14th year with IIN. Our coaches down stairs are health coaches who’ve gone through the program. Even if you’re just on the fence and you’re saying, “I’m not sure if this is right for me. Can I invest this kind of time? Can I invest this kind of money?” I would have the conversation because you’ll learn something about yourself in that conversation. These are not folks who are going to give you a hard sell. They’re going to walk you through the philosophy and what it means to be health coach because they’re all health coaches and they’ve done this. You’ll get something out of the engagement in the call and learn a little bit about yourself. We would love to have everybody to join one of the cohorts starting next year. We think it’s going to be a super year next year.
[01:10:48] Ashley James: Awesome. Yes, 2020 sounds fantastic. Lynda, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing with us and I would love to have you or one of your wonderful staff members come back on the show to share all of the things you’ve said are in the works. Like the legislation and the new business thing that’s coming out next year who’s going to support health coaches to be entrepreneurs and successfully be health coaches. Also, the third party study implementing health coaches.
[01:11:26] Lynda Cloud: Yes. Our new events too. Yes, we have a lot in the works, we’re super excited, and I would love that. I’d love to visit in person with you so –
[01:11:36] Ashley James: That would be wonderful. If ever you’re in Seattle, let me know. If I’m ever in New York, you know I’m going to be popping by IIN.
[01:11:43] Lynda Cloud: Please do. Please do.
[01:11:45] Ashley James: Fantastic
[01:11:46] Lynda Cloud: Happy Holidays, Ashley.
[01:11:47] Ashley James: Thank you, you too.
Get Connected With Lynda Cloud!
Molly Christensen And Ashley James
- The Hero’s Journey
- Pattern to all myths – the details are different, you have this basic pattern
- People feel discontent because we’re not doing what we should be doing
- Parents are not here to control their children
- Every human being was born with greatness within
- Learn how to start listening to calls to action and acting on them
- The first voice is your authentic self; listen to the first voice
- When you start feeling stuck in the muck, that’s part of the journey
- Homeschooling – learn together but you connect it to yourself through principles
- Obstacles are learning opportunities
- Training with learning how to be consistent
- Family economy system – time and money
- Learn from real life skills that are going to affect them when they get older
- Play is an important part of child development
- Program for moms who want to learn how to become disciplined and create habits for themselves
- Brain principles
- Children model their parents
In today’s episode with Molly Christensen, listeners will get to know about the tools that Molly uses for homeschooling, tips on how to avoid procrastination and get past the overwhelm, and habits that moms should practice to be the best models for their children.
[00:00:00] Intro: Hello, true health seeker. And welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You are going to love today’s guest. Now, Molly Christensen specializes in working with moms, especially ones that are overwhelmed and doing homeschooling. However, I think everyone could benefit from listening to today’s interview because Molly shares some amazing tools that help everyone.
So enjoy today’s interview. Please share it with busy moms. Share with all the busy mom friends that you have. And all the homeschooling friends you have. Because they’ll gain benefit from it as well. Because she does share specifically some information about that. But she gives amazing advice for those that would love to master their mindset and no longer allow procrastination to stop them. So really, really, really great nuggets of gold in today’s interview.
And I want to let you know something really special. If you are a stay at home mom and you would also like to have a career in helping people, you can become a health coach. You can go to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It’s 100 percent online. I did their online program. It’s actually designed for busy moms. Now, dads can take it too. But the program is designed for women who are so busy that they’re taking care of a family. And even moms that are taking care of family and a career, but basically we’re so, so busy that they designed as you can fit it in in the evenings, maybe 20 minutes a day. That’s about how much I did, 20 minutes a day for an entire year and I became a certified health coach. What’s really exciting is that in 2020, it’s going to be covered by healthcare. It’s going to be covered by insurance. So it opens up the doors for so many people who maybe in the past couldn’t afford a health coach, would now be able to. Which is really exciting for you as a health coach and also exciting for people who want to hire a health coach that you can use your insurance which is really, really exciting. Give IIN a call. Just Google IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Give them a call and ask them for more information. You can also get a free module of the course by going to learntruehealth.com/coach. That’s learntruehealth.com/coach. They give you access to a module and you can see if it’s right for you.
Now, I got a special deal for my Learn True Health listeners. You get $1,500 off. It’s a huge chunk of the tuition is taken off for mentioning the Learn True Health podcast for being one of my listeners. They also have lots of great specials throughout the year. Sometimes they include things like a tablet or an Amazon gift card for additional books, because of course we love learning. So you know, call them up and ask them what kind of special is going on right now especially through mentioning the Learn True Health podcast and all of the great discounts that they give us as listeners. And please share this information with those in your life that you know would make an amazing health coach. It is the fastest growing field in the health field – n the health space. I think that we’re going to get to a point where health coaching is a household name and that it’s as common to go to a health coach as it is to have a certified trainer when you go to a gym. I’m very excited about that because we need to turn this around. The rate of disease is just increasing every year. We need to turn this around. We need to give the chance for everyone, give the education and the chance for everyone to have true health. That’s exactly what I’m here to do is to help you learn what you can do mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, to optimize your health.
Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing the podcast to help as many people as possible. Enjoy today’s interview.
Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is Episode 398.
I am so excited for today’s guests. We have on with us Molly Christensen, who is an expert in homeschooling and supporting busy moms. Helping them to no longer be overwhelmed. I came across — my husband actually came across Molly’s work. And as we were watching one of her videos, my husband said, “You have to have her on the show.” And I was like, “You’re right.” She has so much wisdom to share. I thought this is awesome. Even if you’re not a homeschooling mom, I think you can still take away some amazing gold information from Molly. Because nowadays, even kids that are in the public school system come home with, like, over an hour’s worth of homework and it’s overwhelming. And even if you’re not a stay at home mom and you have a career and then you come home and then you have to help your kids with homework and then you have to manage the chores.
So I just think that Molly even though your expertise is helping homeschooling moms, I still think that all parents could take away great wisdom from you because you teach that how to have balance with your children, with the chores, and with your own emotional state as well. Which if our emotional state is not in order, if our mindset is not in order, everyone in the household suffers. You know what I mean?
[00:06:00] Molly Christensen: For sure. Absolutely. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Right?
[00:06:04] Ashley James: Nobody happy. That’s right. Oh, Molly, welcome to the show.
[00:06:09] Molly Christensen: Well, thank you so much. I’m super excited to be here. And thank you for inviting me. This is exciting.
[00:06:15] Ashley James: Absolutely. You have three websites I want to let listeners know about. Your main website is buildingheroesacademy.com. Your book is homeschoolgetitdone.com. And your curriculum funnel is the number three, 3homeschoolsecrets.com. Of course the links to everything that Molly does is going to be in the show notes for today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com.
I want to dive right into your story because, man, you’ve got — like, I just want to, like, be a fly on the wall and absorb all the wisdom that you emanate from your years of experience. I only have one kid. I don’t know how in the world you’ve done it. You’ve done everything you’ve done. How many children have you homeschooled?
[00:07:09] Molly Christensen: Well, I have seven children.
[00:07:13] Ashley James: And you look amazing by the way.
[00:07:15] Molly Christensen: Thank you.
[00:07:15] Ashley James: So you definitely are doing – you are managing your stress levels. You’re managing everything really well. And I know it’s been trial and error. And now you love teaching people and teaching homeschooling moms how to do that. How to do just what you’re doing. But to take us back to your story, what happened in your life that made you want to homeschool your children?
[00:07:39] Molly Christensen: Okay. For sure. Yeah. So when I was growing up, I actually was kind of an angry child. So people who know me now are like, “Yeah. Right.” So the good news is that you can change that. I was always mad and blaming other people for things. And you know, my siblings now will say, “Yeah. We’re kind of scared of you.” But I was also a very determined person. And luckily, my mother also could see potential in me. She could see that if I put my mind to something, then I could do it. I would do it. But still growing up, I kind of thought, “You know, I’m a mean person. Nobody really likes me.” I remember when my mom came to me – let’s see how old was I? I was probably 14 or so. And she was very brave. She came to me and she said, “You know, if you smiled every once in a while, people might not be – they might want to be in the same room as you.” Okay. She didn’t exactly say that. But that was kind of the gist of it. Of course, I hated hearing that and I was mad at her. But I did take her words to heart and I decided to practice smiling. So I started smiling. And you’re like, “Wait. What does this have to do with homeschool?” Don’t worry, it connects in.
But I did start to smile and I did realize that it was better to be happy and to smile and to have people not be scared of you.
So when I was in high school, she actually started homeschooling my younger brother and sister. And let’s just say I still wasn’t that great at being happy about things. And I thought, “Why in the world would anybody want to do that?” And they even asked me, “Do you want to be homeschooled too?” And I’m like, “Heck no.” I thought it was the worst idea ever. Why would I want to be home with you? Which is really sad in retrospect. But I did get better. So this is good. So that’s why it was kind of interesting that when I started having kids of my own, and my oldest son was about four, I started thinking about homeschooling. And my brain was like, “No way. You can’t do that. Because not only are you a disorganized mess, It’s weird.” People think you’re weird if you homeschool. And what about socialization? Your kids, they’re going to be weird.
[00:10:29] Ashley James: Yeah. We all know that one weird that came in to, like, maybe junior high or something that was homeschooled. Like, we all know or someone told us. Someone told us, “Oh, yeah. I knew a homeschooled kid and they were just weird.” And so it’s, like, you hear about this one person or a rumor gets spread about one person, maybe you never even met them. And then everyone thinks that it’s like the stigma that all homeschooling kids are just weird, and unsocialized, and awkward, and they don’t know how to communicate. Oh, man. I’ve met some more schooling kids that are so brilliant. And they look you in the eye and they have wonderful conversations. And they’re so on and so connected. That is one of those stigmas that it’s just not true.
[00:11:18] Molly Christensen: I know. But everybody worries about it. And actually I can address that later if we want to go into that. Like, why it’s not even a problem. But I didn’t know that then. I was sitting there going, “I can’t do homeschool.” I don’t even know how. And seriously, I am the most undisciplined person ever is what I thought, you know, because I kind of was. I was kind of a mess. So I didn’t do it. I sent him to kindergarten. And I did not like that, actually. Because part of what I was seeing was he was bringing home some bad behaviors that I did not teach him. And he was learning things like, they had a whole two month unit on saving the rain forest. And I’m like, “You know, I am all for saving rain forest. But when you’re five, shouldn’t the focus be like learning how to clean your room first? Why are we putting all this pressure on him?” I don’t know. That just really kind of bugged me because – and I was thinking, “If you were home, that’s what we could focus on.” And I started looking at what was going on in the classroom. And I was like, “You know, this isn’t really rocket science.” Although, rocket science actually would have been easier for me because I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. I was like, “Yeah. I think maybe I could do this.” Only because I was seeing that it didn’t look quite as hard as I had been picturing it to be.
And so the next year in first grade, I decided that I was going to homeschool him. And I asked my husband about it. And he was like, “I don’t care.” He’s just like, “Yeah. If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine.” But he didn’t really understand what homeschool is all about either and neither does I at that time. So I pulled him out in first grade. And by then, I had another kid and she was four at the time. But I didn’t think about the fact that she might want to learn too. So I tried to send all my energy to this one kid, my oldest son, who’s six mind you. And we would go from, like, 9:00 a.m. to about 4:00 p.m. and still not get all the stuff done that I had planned for the day. Because I was thinking, “Hey, if I’m going to homeschool, well, then you’re going to be way ahead of everybody else. And I’m going to make sure that happens.”
Why are we laughing?
[00:14:07] Ashley James: Well, I’m laughing because it’s funny –
[00:14:09] Molly Christensen: I’m just kidding.
[00:14:09] Ashley James: – how much pressure we put on ourselves and also put on our children. On one hand, children really can excel in homeschooling because they’re getting one on one. If they went to – even if they went somewhere else and it wasn’t you that was teaching them and they had a teacher, a tutor, teach them one on one for a whole entire day, they would have learned more in that day than they would in an entire week at a school. Because a teacher that has to manage 15 or 30 kids is not going to be able to give your child the amount of attention. And also cater to where they are and their learning style. So I’m laughing because they can – and children, when kids are really young, their minds are like sponges. They can really take on and learn so much. But at the same time, I think that as parents, we can put too much on their plate. And I’m talking from my experience. I’ve noticed that with our four year old. I’ve put too much pressure on him. And then I backed off and realized, “Okay. Maybe I need to -” there’s got to be some balance. And I definitely want to talk to you about that.
But continue with your story. So here you have your six year old and you have, basically, created a college level curriculum for a first grader that he’s getting the best tutelage in the world. And what’s happening with the four year old? Is the four year old jumping in and wanting to learn also?
[00:15:38] Molly Christensen: Right. So this is what happens. It is kind of funny because so many of us homeschool moms think, “Oh my gosh. I’m going to make my kid be a genius or something.” And then reality hits and you’re like, “I can’t even get him out of bed in the morning.” Because there’s no place to go. So what happened was, my four year old would just kind of tag along. But I didn’t really include her much, which was kind of silly of me. But she was listening and she was soaking everything in. She would actually go off preschool, which is kind of funny, so that I would have free time to work with my other son during that time too. And then when she was home, I would let her do a little bit of stuff here and there. But I was mainly focused on this oldest child. And I was trying to get through this list of, like, 25 different subjects every day. And I was trying to have him do writing assignments that would be things like, “Write three sentences to describe this pencil.” And now if there was anything that was going to ignite passion in a first grade boy, that’s not it. Right?
So it was pretty miserable because I was trying to follow all those curriculum that said this is what I had to do in order to get him where I thought he should be. And it was a nightmare because we would end up crying every day. Because I’m like, “Oh, I can’t do this.” And he is like, “I don’t want to do this. I just want to play.” Because he’s a six year old boy, which is what they do. And they do learn a ton from playing. But I didn’t know that. And so I just started searching for answers. And I finally had this thought pop into my brain, which was, instead of trying to get him through all these checklist items and then rewarding him by reading aloud at the end. Why don’t you start off with just reading aloud at the beginning of the day? And I was like, “I can’t do that. That’s the fun part.” But I tried it and actually that made life so much easier when I just put read aloud first. Because what it did is, it was so fun and we had loved it so much to learn and hear different stories together. That what it did is it built our relationship, made us grow closer together. And we have this common learning ground here that was fun instead of miserable. So it was then that I was like, “Okay. If I’m going to homeschool, I got to figure this thing out.” Because it’s great to put the reading first. But how is he supposed to learn everything else? I can’t make him because we’re in power struggles all the time. And it’s miserable. And so that’s kind of when I really just started my journey to figure out what it was that I needed to do. And also at the same time when I’m trying to homeschool, I’ve got these two kids and we are a disaster at home. Because I was spending all this time trying to homeschool all day long that I didn’t ever get around to cleaning the house or actually preparing meals. I just go the fridge and say, “Hm. What’s not moldy in here? Let’s see what I can pull out.” Because they always keep getting hungry, strangely enough. They want food.
And I kind of as a free spirit, I’m like, “You know, I just want to be spontaneous and free.” Except for when you can’t find your shoes. You can’t go out anywhere to field trips. So it was one of these really kind of defining moments in my life rose just like, always – so I had started smiling. And so that’s how you could actually get married because I wasn’t so grumpy anymore. And I could have kids. But what I learned was that in my heart, I was still very grumpy. And I was still blaming people. And I was still complaining about everything. And I didn’t realize that it was me causing most of my problems. And so what I had to figure out was that If I really wanted to make homeschool work, I was going to have to change. I was going to have to do things differently. I was going to have to think differently. And so I started reading all the books I could. Because that’s what I do. I’m like, “I got a problem to solve. I want to solve it.” I’m going to start reading. I’m not a quitter. I’m determined. I am pretty stubborn. I have a stubborn card in my back pocket. I can pull it out when I need it. So I started reading all these books. I started learning all these things. But what I found is that I could hardly even ever implement anything because I really was that undisciplined. And I wanted my kids to be able to say they’re going to do something and then be able to do it. Just even with no one nagging them. I always wanted my mom there. Well, I don’t have my mom here to nag me to do the stuff I know I should be doing but I can’t make myself do.
[00:21:01] Ashley James: It took it took me many years of personal growth to get rid of that little nagging – my mom’s nagging voice in my head telling me I’m not doing enough.
[00:21:11] Molly Christensen: Well, I just wanted her told me to do it. You know, sometimes because I couldn’t make myself do it. But yes, we do have our moms that they love us so much and they wanted this so much for us. But I was like, at some point I just got to figure this out for myself. I’ve just got to do this. Because I do not want to ruin my child’s life by homeschooling but I felt pretty strongly that I was supposed to do it. So that’s when I had it turned to me. And what is really funny that happens first for most homeschool moms and probably just moms who are parents, they’ll do is too. They’re always looking for the magic bullet. And this happened to me too. We go through every single curriculum out there. We buy all of them because we want the one that’s going to work and solve all of our problems. And the same thing with moms just who aren’t homeschoolers, we’re trying to find things that will fix our kids, really. When really, it’s us as a mom who is kind of creating a lot of the issues in our own lives. So I did that. I went out and bought a ton of different curriculum and none of it worked, surprisingly. Not really. But that’s because I didn’t even have the discipline in the first place to be able to teach my kids good character. And this is not against my parents, by the way. Part of is just my personality and my mom’s personality. And my mom was just struggling to get through raising these kids mostly by herself. I do have a dad, who’s a wonderful dad. But she felt like a single mom because he was an international airline pilot and he was always gone. Always gone. And when he was home, which I didn’t even think about until I was an adult, was the fact that he was jet lagged when he was home. So they were doing the best they could. But somehow some of the training kind of slipped away. And I didn’t get it mostly just because I did whatever I wanted kind of a free spirit. I got away with it.
So as I started reading all these self help books and taking classes and all this stuff, I was just getting more and more discouraged as I went along. Because I’m like, “I am a reasonably smart person. I should be able to figure this out. Why is this so hard? Why is it so hard to actually homeschool my kids, and to keep my house clean, and to just stay sane? And as I was reading all these books, I was getting different bits and pieces here and there. And so I was improving but it was pretty slow. Pretty slow improvement. But as I did get through this, I did finally come up with some key things that really changed the way I thought about things. And how I could actually homeschool my kids without completely failing them and ruining them. And how I could actually have a house where I wouldn’t be completely embarrassed to have visitors come over. And where I could be happy and not always feeling like a miserable failure.
And so that’s kind of what the message that I want — well, that is the message. That is the message that I like to share with people because there is hope. Like, if me, Miss Super Disorganized can figure these things out, you can too.
[00:25:05] Ashley James: And you’re no longer super disorganized is the point. You have really conquered these issues because – and so much so that you’ve mastered them after homeschooling seven children. And now this is what you do, you teach others how to do the same.
[00:25:23] Molly Christensen: Exactly I mean some people say your mess is your message. Which I love because, yeah it’s the mess that I had to deal with and figure out how to get over. And that’s why I want to share that with other people because it’s all about having hope. And the other thing, too, is I have not mastered everything in my life. Which is actually pretty awesome because it just means I get to keep learning. If I had mastered everything, I’d be done.
[00:25:55] Ashley James: We are never done.
[00:25:55] Molly Christensen: I’m not done yet. I am not done yet. And I am still homeschooling as well because I have these seven kids. So that takes a long time to get through them all. But I have my three oldest who have graduated from high school. And actually, the two oldest have graduated from college. The third has gotten his associates degree and high school degree. He’s 18 now. So I still have four left at home. So we’re still doing this project.
[00:26:26] Ashley James: Nice. Man, by the time you’re done with the last one, all your kids are going to turn to you and hand over your grandchildren to you. And say, “Mom, can you homeschool our kids too?”
[00:26:39] Molly Christensen: And I’m going to be like, “Nope. That’s your journey.” That is your journey. But I’ll help. I would love to help and encourage and support you along your journey. That’s what I do.
[00:26:51] Ashley James: That is what you do.
[00:26:53] Molly Christensen: Uh-huh. And actually, that is the key to what really changed my mindset. So this is actually probably a good time to share that. So when I started homeschooling, I thought it was all up to me to make sure that my son knew everything. And my poor son, being my guinea pig, number one. Let’s just say he actually turned out really, really awesome. And he doesn’t remember all the hard things those first few years. I was like, “Yes. He’s forgiven. And he’s awesome. It’s so good, it works.”
Anyway, so I want to share with you – is this a good time to do that? Should I just do that? Share with you this pattern that I had come across that actually really changed the whole way that I thought about homeschooling my kids and just raising my kids in general.
[00:27:50] Ashley James: Yes. Oh, I’m so excited. Absolutely.
[00:27:53] Molly Christensen: Yeah. Okay. So I heard about this pattern of the Hero’s Journey, probably a good 10 or 15 years ago now. I don’t remember exactly. But I had heard about it and I thought, “Yeah. That’s pretty cool.” So what the Hero’s Journey is this this pattern that was discovered – or I don’t know if discovered is the right word – but noticed because you notice patterns, right? It was a pattern that was noticed by an Oxford English professor. And of course, right now, his name has slipped my mind. But he wrote a book called The Power of Myth. Anyway, he studied all this mythology of the world, you know, Greek mythology, Egyptian mythology, all the different cultures. And he noticed there was a pattern to all these myths. And he called it the Hero’s Journey, because while the details are different, you have this basic pattern. And then he also noticed, too – well, okay. We’ll go here.
The basic pattern is this, you start with an ordinary person or at least a person who thinks they’re ordinary, who gets a call to action. A call to do something bigger than themselves and they don’t know how to do it. And so the next thing is they refuse. They’re not going to follow up on that call to action because they can’t do it. But then something happens and they decide to commit to the action and dive in and do it. Along the way on their journey, they will have mentors that will help them. They will have friends and allies who are on the same path with them. They also have enemies who try to stop them or tell them it’s stupid. And they’ll also run into test traps, trials, and temptations that may stop them if they’re not aware that they need to get around it. And that they need to continue on this journey because that call to action was so important that they need to finish the journey. And then as they get to the final conflict that’s really big and they finally get around it, they have success. And they are transformed and they are changed as a person, but also just as part of the journey and whatever it was they set out to accomplish has been accomplished.
So when I learned that pattern, I started noticing it everywhere because it is. It’s in every movie that we like, so many good books, and it’s everywhere. And I thought, “Oh, yeah. That’s pretty cool. That’s a pattern. It’s everywhere.” But when it really became powerful for me was when I realized it was a pattern for our own lives and the lives of my kids. And so what it did for me is it made me realize that I cannot just fill my kids up with all the information that they need. Because that’s not the purpose of learning and education.
[00:31:05] Ashley James: Yeah. And it’s not how we really learn it.
[00:31:09] Molly Christensen: It’s not.
[00:31:09] Ashley James: I mean, school is really good at filling us up with facts that we can regurgitate. Like, when was the war of blah, blah, blah, blah, right? It’s like, “Okay. Great. You memorized that fact. But did you learn to think?”
[00:31:22] Molly Christensen: No. And I didn’t know how that knowledge applied to me. In fact, when I was in school, I hated history because it was so boring memorizing all the facts. It wasn’t until I started teaching my own kids about history where I was like, “Holy cow. History is amazing. Because it’s all just hero journey stories. How do people overcome.” And it’s telling us how to live life, what the success principles are. That’s what it’s all about. But we didn’t know that growing up in my AP – well, I didn’t take AP History. I took AP English. But whatever. In my history class, it was very boring because we didn’t know the stories. It’s all about the stories. And so the Hero’s Journey is the story of our own life. And most of us don’t know that. We don’t know that we are potential heroes who can go on the journey. We get calls to action do you think is greater than us but we listen to the refusals and then do nothing. And that’s why we don’t go on the journey of our life. And that’s why people feel discontent because we’re not doing what we should be doing.
[00:32:31] Ashley James: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, one thing I’ve noticed parenting is, I have this urge to jump in and fix things for my son and do it but I don’t. It is an uncomfortable feeling to watch my son struggle. And I consciously pull back and I just encourage him. He will get it. Encourage him. Let him do it himself. So like, we’re doing arts and crafts and he’s got to paint something. And if I just let him do it himself, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be messy. Because he’s still learning how to do that. And it’s also going to be his own creativity. And I hold back and I let him figure something out, like how to tie that knot or how to – whatever he’s struggling with. But that look on his face when he triumphs, when he does something he didn’t think he could do, he has now learned. And he had that moment where he was struggling, he was failing. I was encouraging him. And then he figured it out. It clicked and it works. And that triumphant on his face, that neurologically set that lesson in place. He now has that. Whereas, if I just did it for him and like, “Look what I’m doing. You do it this way.” There would be no emotion of triumph associated with the lesson for him. When we set up circumstances for them to have a challenge that they get to rise to, and struggle, and then learn from that, and then succeed, that has so much more emotion involved invested in the learning that it really solidifies the learning inside their neurology.
[00:34:18] Molly Christensen: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so that’s exactly why it changed my whole perspective of raising my kids because I realized that I am not here to control them. It doesn’t work anyway. You can try it. You get power struggles.
[00:34:36] Ashley James: I definitely want to talk about power struggles because setting boundaries and getting kids to do their chores and what happens when the kid says no to you? Like, I definitely want to go there.
[00:34:48] Molly Christensen: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Let’s go there in a minute. But I’ll finish this thought. So what I realized is my role is not to be the bucket filler. But my role is to be the support team, to be the mentor, to be the trainer, to be the coach. So I heard this quote – well, I don’t know if it’s a quote but it’s kind of one of those things. But a pastor got up in church and he said to his congregation, “Are you preparing your kids for the path? Or are you preparing the path for your kids?” And I said, “Yeah. Wow.” There’s a big difference there.
[00:35:33] Ashley James: Because we can never- we won’t be around their whole lives. So we can never put padding and safety, whatever, make it safe for them. We can’t just go around and keep preparing the path for them. We have to give them all the tools because we want them to be independent.
[00:35:54] Molly Christensen: Right. And also, we don’t even know what their path is. They have a totally different path than mine is. It’s their own path. It’s their hero’s journey. And the hero’s journey is just full of things they need in order for them to learn to become the person that they are meant to be.
So the other part of why that pattern was so powerful for me was not only did it shift my role, but it shifted how I thought about them. Because I think sometimes we think that people are intentionally mean or naughty or whatever. And you know, “You’re bad. You’re bad boy,” or whatever. But really, every human being was born with greatness within. Every human being desires good. Every human being has that inside of them. And when you shift your focus to believing that and focusing on the good intention rather than how it comes out, then it changes things. Your kid accept and this is, maybe, where we can go into more obedient stuff. It’s not because they’re horrible people or you’re a horrible person. It’s just because they are human. And they are learning how to become better and they just haven’t gotten there yet. And that’s actually a really good thing to remember for teenagers, especially. Especially when they start going, “Mom, you just don’t understand. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” And they get a little grumpy and all those hormones are going around. It’s not because they’re bad. It’s only because they do have all this hormone stuff coming up. They’re confused. They don’t always know how to manage themselves at all. They haven’t learned it all yet. But they are good people. They want good. They want to be kind to other people. But it doesn’t always come out that way. And so it’s always really good to keep that vision of who they are. They are potential heroes. I mean, they are. They have the goodness inside. They can go on the journey to get to the greatness but only if they choose not to listen to all those negative voices in their head that tell them why they can’t do it.
[00:38:13] Ashley James: So how do you help them to not hear the negative? How do you help them to focus on what they want – the positive and create the positive behavior?
[00:38:27] Molly Christensen: So it really had to start with me first. Because I was so sucked into that negative thinking. I had to learn how to start listening to calls to action and acting on them. Because the Hero’s Journey is a pattern for your whole life but you’re also getting calls to action all the time. You don’t even hear most of them. Because you rationalize them away. And when I say you, I mean me too. It’s a learned skill there. And so to get out of the negative thought patterns I had to lead the way in. And the beautiful thing about having kids is you love them so much that you actually change for them. Because you want to lead the way for them. I figured that if I’m not willing to go there, why would I expect them to,? Even though it’s hard. So I started working hard on me first.
And so what I did one year, I had this thought pop into my head that I should make this blog called Kindness Daily, where I would do something kind every day. And I would blog about it. Now, the funny thing about that is, I’m not a disciplined consistent person. But my oldest son and I were just talking about how, with marketing or with a business really, people are attracted to people who can be consistent. Very consistent in their message, right? And so I blurted it out one day, I’m like, “Oh, you know, this would be kind of cool.” And he’s like, “Yeah. You should do it.” I was like, “Oh man, why did I say that out loud?” And as soon as I got that call to action to do this for 365 days, to write a blog, my brain immediately came up with all the refusals. And I sit and I said to myself, “I can’t do that. I don’t even know how to make a blog. And what if I can’t think of anything kind to do and I’m not consistent, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” And, then I was like, “You know, I think I’m just going to try it. I’m going to do it.” I decided I was going to do it because I was at the point where I was like, “You know what? If I’m not going to do hard things then why are my kids?” So I thought, “I’ll give it a try.” So I started it. And the first few days, I was worried because – well, I wasn’t too worried. I just made cookies for the neighbors.
But after like three or four days that I was just like, “You know what? I really cannot make cookies every single day. I’m not that kind of mom.” And it’s going to get out of control. So I’m going to have to come up with different things to be kind about.
And I realized that I was getting thoughts to do kindnesses that I didn’t want to do. So I didn’t do them. So like one day – I know, right? One day, I had my neighbor’s kids over because she had to go to a doctor’s appointment. And I had this thought, “You know, you have to make dinner. Why don’t you just make her some dinner too?” And I immediately got these refusals in my brain that said, “Well, they’re not going to like what we’re having. I don’t think I have enough ingredients. I probably don’t have enough time.” So then I went, “Wait. That was a call to action with refusals. Oh, I should do it.” I did. I committed to doing it. And it turns out, I didn’t have enough gradients and I did have enough time. And she was – I don’t know if they liked it or not but it doesn’t matter. Because when she came home a lot later than she expected, I said, “Hey, I knew you’re going to be running late and you’re not going to have time to make dinner. So I just made it for you.” And she was just delighted. And she felt just so loved. So I learned from these experiences when I was doing these kindnesses every day that if I get three refusals, I darn well better do it. Because that’s part of my hero journey. I need to act on those things to become better to develop the character that I need to become the example for my kids. To go through this hero’s journey. To do the hard things that I’m asked to do.
And so I did do this blog where I recorded a lot of my kindnesses. Some of the days were super – I mean, they were so uninteresting to write about. But other days were really awesome. And I was like, “Wow. This is cool stuff.” And I actually ended up – I told you I wasn’t consistent, which was actually true. I was not consistent. And I did not do it for 365 days. But I did do it for 180 days out of the whole year. And I thought, “You know what? I have a choice here.” So I could look back at the year and I had a choice. I could look at it and think of it as a miserable failure because I did not do what I set out to do. I did not get 365 days. But I also could look at it and say, “You know what? I did do half of it. And I did learn so much just from the process of that.” I learned so much about how my brain worked, and how I was refusing calls to action, and how I could learn what calls to action I actually needed to follow. And so you asked me, “How do we teach this to our children? And then I went off on this big long story about how we have to lead our way – lead the way and figure it out ourselves first. And that’s actually what I did.
So after I did these kind of daily challenges – after I started doing them, I introduced it to my kids. And I had them do the similar thing. I said, “Here’s a jar. And here’s a bag of pompoms. Whenever you think of something kind to do and you actually do it, you can put a pompom in the jar. And when the jar is full, we’ll go do a fun family activity or something like that.” And they started to realize that their heroes on this hero journey. They get calls to action and sometimes they really don’t want to do it. They get refusals. But they can listen to those and not do them. Or they can listen to the call to action and then hear the refusals and then say, “No. Those are not true. I’m going to do it anyway because it’s a good thing.” So that that’s been huge in teaching the kids how to overcome those negative thoughts. So that’s an awesome tool right there is really – because heroes – this is probably one thing I didn’t say earlier, but heroes are not in it for themselves. They’re not going on this journey just for all the honor and glory. Maybe some of them are in some of the movies. But they’re doing it because it’s for a cause bigger than themselves, is to serve other people. That’s why we’re here. And so that’s why – I’m sorry. I totally neglected to say that earlier. That would made more sense. But that’s why this little smaller scale hero journey works out so nicely and it preps them for the real thing. It’s a good training.
[00:46:04] Ashley James: Can you give us an example? Like, when working with your kids, an example where they did some – they came up with an idea and they heard the refusals in their head. But you encouraged them and they then did it anyway. And it was a project that served others.
[00:46:22] Molly Christensen: Yeah. For sure. My 16 year old daughter just the other day, she said, “You know, I had this thought that I should text this friend that I hadn’t talked to for a while and just say something nice to her.” And she said, in her brain she heard, “No. That’s weird. You haven’t talked to him forever. And besides, what would you say if that’s a bad idea?” And then she’s like, “Wait. I got to do that.” And so she did. She texted this friend anyway. And it turns out that friend had been feeling really down that day. And when my daughter texted her she just felt so loved.
[00:47:03] Ashley James: I love it. Because when you first started sharing this, I immediately went to health related topics. So we’ve had Naturopaths on the show. Naturopathic doctors share that our body has a language. It speaks its symptoms. The symptoms of the body are the language that it speaks. So if you have a headache, don’t just go take a medication for it. Or if you’re tired, don’t just go drink coffee. But that’s the body actually speaking to you and saying, “Hey, there’s something I’m missing. Help me.” This is how it speaks to us. So when we think to ourselves, I want to run a marathon or I want to go to the gym. And then there’s these little thoughts that come up, like, “You can’t. That’s going to be too hard. You can’t do it.”
[00:47:53] Molly Christensen: I got a story about that one. No, it does. It’s the goodness inside of us that’s speaking. Because we are good. We do get those good thoughts. I got a call to action to run a half marathon. And I can tell you some of the refusals I got. My husband and my two sons had actually run it the year before. And I got the call. I was like, “Well, why don’t you run it within them the next year?” That was in my own brain. They didn’t say it to me. And my refusals were, “No way. I do not run. I am not a runner.” The last time I really seriously ran was when I was in high school, which was like 20 years before. And I had run a-mile-and-a-half for the PE test, you know, to show that you’re fit. And I passed it. But then I pretty much felt like I was going to die afterwards because I found out later that I actually had bronchitis. So I probably shouldn’t have run it. But they told us to. So I had that thought in my head that I was going to die if I ran more than a-mile-and-a-half for 20 years. And it was actually right around this time where I started experimenting with controlling my thoughts and my brain with the calls to action and everything that this call to run the half marathon came up. And I thought, “You know what? This will be a really good test. Let’s see if I actually have power of my thoughts in my head.” You know, can I actually do this? And so I had all these reasons not to. And I thought, “You know what? I’m going to do it anyway.”
So the first day I get out there and I go running like half-a-block before I feel like I’m about to die. And my brain kicked in. Because our brains are there to keep us comfortable. When you’re trying to change, that is not comfortable. And so it’s going to give you all the reasons to pull you back to where you used to be. That was more comfortable for it. So my brain starts going, “This is a really dumb idea. You can’t do this. What are you thinking? You’re about to die after half-a-block.” So what I did was I just told my brain, “Thank you for sharing that with me because that’s good to know. I’m on the right path.” I’m getting refusals, which means that if I keep going, I’m going to grow. So thanks for sharing but we’re going to keep doing this. So I did. I kept running. And I kept going slightly farther every day until I got to a-mile-and-a-half. And what was really funny is I didn’t realize I was doing this to myself. But for about two months, I only ran for a-mile-and-a-half until I was like, “Wait a second. I can run a-mile-and-a-half and I don’t feel like I’m about to die. Well, why don’t I just go farther?”
[00:50:41] Ashley James: You had to bust through a belief system that you unconsciously created in high school.
[00:50:46] Molly Christensen: Totally did. Totally did. And so I just kept going. And I did run the half marathon. I did post a pretty good time for somebody who was never runner before. I mean, I was just over two hours. I was like, “Holy cow. Look what I did I could do that.” That is what you’re talking about, it’s that feeling of triumph, which is awesome. But I would have never got there had I not failed along the way.
[00:51:13] Ashley James: Yes. And listen to the first voice. I really love that you have deciphered this. The first voice is your authentic self. The first thought happens really quick. And sometimes it’s actually quieter than the refusals that come after. They can be pretty loud. But the first voice like. “I should go to the gym. I should do a juice fast. I should eat more broccoli.” Like whatever, right? The first voice, that’s your authentic self. That’s the part of you that wants you to grow, that wants you to live a healthy happy life full of lessons and learning and just joy. That is the authentic self. But that’s the self that wants you to go up against the wall and push yourself and to really grow. And then the refusals –
You know, it’s interesting because I’ve had different interviews on about self-talk. And one Naturopathic physician, the whole episode was about self-talk. And she talked about how this voice, as you call, the refusals. She calls it self-talk that it is part of our survival mechanism because the pessimists are the ones that survived. All of our ancestors were the pessimists. If you think about the ancestors that were like, “There’s no bears in the woods. Let’s go frolic.” They were all eaten by the bears. It was the ones that were very pessimistic. And was like, “Fire burns you. Don’t touch the fire. Don’t go in the woods, the Bears are over there.” The pessimists looking for all the bad things that could happen were probably the ones that ended up surviving. So we just have this genetic predisposition to looking at conserving our energy as much as possible, which is talked about in the book, The Pleasure Trap by Dr. Lisle and Dr. Goldhamer. He talks about the evolution of our brain and what motivates us in an unconscious level to survive, which is to procreate, conserve energy, and consume food.
So we basically want to be lazy as possible. Consume as much calories as possible. And we’re motivated by procreation. Because that’s just genetically what all animals do to survive and to carry on the species. So that little voice inside of us is like, “Don’t run a marathon. That would not be conserving energy.” That would not be part of fulfilling the genetic – this genetic programming. So on one level, it’s genetic programming. On the other level, it’s this voice in our heads that tries to keep us safe. But safe is not – there’s no happiness in safe. There’s no growth in safe. If being safe is being stuck in the gray zone of just – what’s that? – purgatory. It’s like purgatory. You’re just stuck. And that is where depression sets in. That’s where people end up self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and sugary foods. Because their life is so safe that they bring a pint of ice cream home. Because it’s like that’s the only joy they’re going to get. So that’s like when we’re feeling stuck in life, that’s because we’re listening to all the refusals and not the first voice.
[00:54:31] Molly Christensen: Right. And we also don’t realize that a lot of times we get stuck because we hit a wall or a tract or something on our journey. So when you start feeling stuck in the muck, that’s part of the journey. It’s got to happen. But if you can see in the perspective of the Hero’s Journey, you’re like, ” Oh, wait. I’m stuck. I don’t have to be stuck here. This is a journey. I can get out.”
[00:54:55] Ashley James: Like a Disney Princess. This is just the middle of the movie, right?
[00:54:59] Molly Christensen: That’s right. It’s just part of the journey.
[00:55:00] Ashley James: Right. I’m just hitting the wall. I need to overcome it. On an esoteric level, there’s a consideration that the refusals are the devil or the negative spiritual energy that wants to keep us down. Which it has no power over us if we refuse it. If we go, “No. I’m not listening to those voices. I’m not listening to that. That’s not me.” You know that t-shirt, Not today, Satan? It’s like, “No. That’s not me. Thanks.” But I like that you think it. Because that’s actually what the Naturopath that I interviewed does. She says, thank that voice. “Thanks for letting me know I can’t run a marathon because I’ll probably collapse. Thanks. I take that into consideration but I’m going to prove you wrong.”
[00:55:50] Molly Christensen: Well, and I think it because it’s letting me figure out where my blocks are, where my walls are, what’s keeping me stuck. Because now that I see seen it, I can do something about it. Talk about empowering.
[00:56:03] Ashley James: Yes. So when you hear the refusals, you go, “Hey. Thanks for letting me know where my blind spots are and what’s keeping me in purgatory.”
[00:56:12] Molly Christensen: Uh-huh. Yeah. Exactly. I mean, the whole journey is all really just a battle in your brain. Because it’s a battle about whether your bodily appetites are going to control your brain or if that goodness, your soul, your spirit, whatever you want to call it, is going to control your brain. Because it’s much easier to sit on the couch and watch TV. Not that I’m knocking that. Sometimes you got to do it. But it’s much easier to do that than it is to get up and go wash the dishes.
[00:56:46] Ashley James: Choose your hard.
[00:56:48] Molly Christensen: Yeah. I mean, so your bodily appetite is the one that’s dealing with easy. Your goodness is getting up and doing what’s right. Which one’s going to control your brain?
[00:57:01] Ashley James: I love it. I love it. So this is how you – you took this and designed your entire homeschooling curriculum around the concept of the Hero’s Journey.
[00:57:10] Molly Christensen: Yes. That is what I did. Because what I realized is knowledge right now in the internet age, anybody can get knowledge. It’s free all over the internet. You don’t even have to go to school, really, you could just Google if you just want to get knowledge. And what I did with my homeschool curriculum is I feel like, “You know, there’s a lot of great knowledge out there.” But unless it is relevant to you, unless you can connect it to you, it’s not really helpful. So knowledge is still important. I’m not saying it’s unimportant. But it’s knowledge that’s applied wisely that really makes your life better. And especially with little kids, they love to learn. They love to learn new things. But sometimes they get crushed down because we’re trying to force feed it to them. And so they’re like, “Well, what’s the point? Why are you trying to make me do this?”
So what I did with my curriculum is I went through and I got all the basic knowledge in the different subject areas, you know, topics. And I created it so that you can just sit down with your kids, your family, however many you got. And then you just learn together but then you connect it to yourself through principles. So you’re using it as a vehicle to teach principles, like for success in life and for good character. And that’s how it makes it relevant. So we’re not learning it just to learn it to pass the test. But we’re learning it because it brings us together. It’s exciting. We can love learning because it’s so interesting. And then we can make connections. Because when you make connections, it sits those neurons firing off in your brain. And it’s like, “Oh, this is so cool.”
A funny example is when one of my little daughters figured out that green beans and re-fried beans were both beans. Oh, my gosh. She made that connection herself. And she was so proud. And the more epiphanies you can get – and you get those from when you make connections – the more exciting learning is going to be. And the more excited you are about learning, the more you’re going to do it. And the more you’re excited about learning, the more excited you are to go on that hero journey, too, because you’re going to hit the obstacles. And those are all about learning. In fact, I call the obstacles, learning opportunities. Because that’s what they’re all about. And so we want to love learning but some of the learning is hard when you get stuck. But you have to look and go, “Oh, this is a learning opportunity. Isn’t this exciting.” So that’s the feeling I want – it’s more important to inspire this feeling. That’s the feeling I want to inspire. Rather than, “This is miserable and I’m not doing what mom says because it’s stupid.”
[01:00:10] Ashley James: So then they get really excited about their homeschooling because they’re taking charge.
[01:00:18] Molly Christensen: Yeah. I mean, you’re setting the environment by learning with them and showing them what it’s like to make connections and to just love it. And then they can take that off into the other parts of their lives, too, when you’re not there actively learning with them.
[01:00:37] Ashley James: Since you have so many children of different ages, you’re homeschooling different grades, right? Your different levels at the same time. Can you give us an example of what a day looks like?
[01:00:53] Molly Christensen: Yes. And it’s kind of funny because I actually did a Facebook Live on my day on Monday. And everybody felt very validated because it did not look as perfect as they were picturing for what my day might look like. So I can tell you the ideal and then I can tell you reality. Okay? So we do family style homeschooling because people are going to learn at whatever level they are on. They don’t have to learn at whatever level some expert says that they should learn on. Because it’s their own journey. If they’re not ready to learn something yet, then why am I trying to make them? So we do family style learning. A big part of our homeschool is actually training with learning how to be consistent. Probably, I might be – I’d like to focus on that just maybe because it was such a big struggle for me. For some of my kids, it’s not as much of a struggle just because their personality type is just different. My husband is excellent at being consistent at things and disciplined with himself. Every kid is different. They all have different personalities. But we do work a lot on consistency. They do a lot of chores. Or at least they think they do. I don’t. I want them to know how to work.
And we also have a family economy system where my kids, when they turn eight, they have to purchase their own clothing. Which is interesting because they don’t get an allowance and they can’t really go out and get a job so they get creative. I will pay the minimum wage though. But this is probably a whole other talk. But I will let them work extra money for me to earn money. And people wonder how I afford it is because I don’t have to buy their clothes. Anyway, so we have systems in place where they can learn from real life skills that are going to affect them when they get older. And big ones, big challenges for people, for adults, for most adults are time and money. So that’s why we have those two systems in place for the work because that helps with being consistent with time and then for the money. So that’s a big part of our homeschool is just life, just living life and doing that.
So we do, do like a morning devotional in the mornings most of the time. And we will have breakfast. And we will clean. And then if we haven’t gotten all distracted like, we will sit down in the morning and we will just learn together as a family for about an hour. Now, sometimes my older kids who are in high school and have other – when I say they’re in high school, they’re not really in high school but high school level. But they’ll have projects and stuff that they have to work on their own. And Austin, my older kid, will be in Co Op. So they’ll have classes that they need to take. So they’ll have homework. And so they start just self studying themselves. And so me and, usually, the younger kids and, sometimes, the older kids will join it, too, we will learn together. So we will read aloud and we’ll just learn things together. And there’s no pressure. There’s no homework on that. It’s like we just do activities. Today, we drew drafts. So that was fun. Some of them want to do it. Some of them didn’t. And that was fine.
And we also usually eat a snack. Because snacks just make life better. I don’t know.
[01:04:39] Ashley James: Yeah. They definitely keep kids engaged.
[01:04:44] Molly Christensen: Yes. And it keeps their mouths full so they can’t talk as much if you want them to listen. I like them to talk but not when I’m reading aloud. So we always try to have a shared learning experience. Then in the afternoons, my kids play. I work so hard to protect my schedule so I don’t over schedule them. I want them to be able to play. I want them to run outside. Because play is such an important part of their development. And a lot of people think, “Oh, they’re just wasting time. Nuh-uh.” No. They are learning so much through play. And in he afternoons, if they do have classes, they’ll usually take those then. So that’s kind of the basics of it. That’s kind of the ideal day to kind of flow through that. Because, really, homeschooling is just life. But it’s not a free for all. It’s structured. But sometimes it might look like a free for all. And what I mean by structured is, I’ve thought a lot about how to set up the environment of my home. Like, what feeling do I want there and how do we get that in here and how do we flow. And I always got it adjusted because it never just stays that way. I’m like, “Wait. The feeling I want is not chaos. So how do we fix that?” You know what I mean? So there’s always things you can keep adjusting. But for me, it’s more about creating this environment of learning where they know that they are heroes and that they’re meant to have a mission in life where they’re doing good for other people. And so instead of me constantly telling them what to do and how to do it, it makes my life so much less stressful. And in fact, that’s how I get everything done is because I realized the only one I can control is really me. And I can control the household feeling and the environment. But I can’t control them. But I can love them.
[01:06:46] Ashley James: So what happens when you need to control them? Like they’re defying house rules, like, power struggles? And of course it depends. Obviously, a 16 year old and a four year old are going to be treated a little differently, I imagine. But how do you handle disobedience or power struggles?
[01:07:05] Molly Christensen: Yes. Okay. So the thing here is I’m still not controlling them. I’m training them because they’re heroes. I am training them for the journey. And that’s how I had to reframe it. And it’s the same principle whether they’re four or 16. I, here again, have to realize they are good. I have to remember that they’re good. And they’re not acting up because I’m a failure. They’re not acting up because they’re bad. They’re just acting up because they don’t know another way yet. So it just simply means that they need a little extra help in training and learning how to obey.
Now, sometimes when I talk about obedience, I know there’s two extremes here. You got some people who just don’t even believe in obedience at all. Because they’re kids. Let kids be kids. And then you got other people who believe in very strict obedience. I’m hoping that I fell somewhere in between. I expect that my kids are going to obey when I ask them to do something. And it’s not like I’m asking them to do unreasonable things. But I have to be very careful with what I’m going to ask them to do. And I’m going to also usually train more on obedience with chores rather than education. Because education, I want them – if I require it, then they’re going to do the bare minimum. You know what I’m saying? So, I want them to get inspired and want to do more. So I have to be very careful with what I require and what I ask them to do. So I do have to train them to be obedient. But I do it from that perspective that they are good and I am just helping them to become better. And I’m doing it because I love them and I know they’re good. But I just know that sometimes it’s hard to be obedient because you don’t want to do it. So I don’t get into a power struggle because I don’t get mad. And I set the expectation up front. They know, if you don’t obey, then we’re probably going to have to do kid training. And once I’ve done the initial kid training, they sometimes slip a little bit. And all I have to do is mention, “Oh, I’m sorry. You don’t obey right now. Do we need to do some extra kid training right now?” And they’ll be like, “Nope. I’m going to go obey.”
So it also helps with teaching emotional regulation as well .Because if they’re going to throw a fit, that’s not obeying. Because they got to obey when they’re calm. So basically, when they’re younger, ideally three, four, or five, sometimes it goes into six and seven, it depends on the kid, I will just be very intentional about training them in obedience. And sometimes that’s what my homeschool days would look like is all I did was train in obedience. And I would have to keep myself very calm. And then sometimes go in my room and give myself a timeout.
[01:10:31] Ashley James: Mama needs a timeout.
[01:10:34] Molly Christensen: Oh, yeah. Yes. So I’d be very intentional. And if I ask them to obey and do something, I would expect them to go do it right away. If they didn’t, I would say, “Oh, I’m sorry. Just now I asked you to obey and you didn’t. So now we’re going to have to go into – now, you’re going to have an extra chore.” And if they scream or yell or whatever, I would have to say, “Oh, I’m sorry. You’re not calm enough to do that chore. So we’re going to have to go into level two where you’re going to get another chore.” And lot of times they still scream and yell until they know you’re really serious and that you’re going to actually follow through. And so we’d get to level three. And they’re still screaming and yelling. They don’t want to do it. And they got three extra chores. So you can’t blame them, right? It’s usually just little things that I could think of on the fly that they could do based on their age. And they can do
fairly easily. They just have to be obedient to do it. If they got all three levels, I would just say, “Well, I’m sorry. We’re doing this kid training so you can learn to obey because it’s a really good skill to have in life. So right now you’ve lost all your privileges for the next day. So that just means you can’t watch any shows. You can’t have any snacks.” Just whatever you decide were privileges. You can only have the basics. You can’t play with friends. After doing that a couple times, although it depends on the kid, like some kids it only takes one time of getting that far. Other kids would take me like ten times because they’re very stubborn. But it was it was mostly just me, where I would just have to stay calm and consistent, which was really, really hard for me to do at first.
But I just realized, “You know what? There’s no sense in making them feel like they’re bad.” You do it all in a loving way. Because they’re not. They’re good. And they have this journey. And it’s not like I’m a failure if they’re acting up, because this is just part of the journey. This is just part of what they’ve got to learn. It’s okay. And it’s really all about that consistent training at first. But it takes – your mind thinks it takes way longer than it does once you do it. Initially, it doesn’t take as long. But, like, maybe a week or two of just intense training. So it’s a lot more intense maybe than your mind thinks of it before you do it. But it doesn’t take nearly as many weeks or days or months as you might think. You know what I’m saying? So that’s how I deal with the obedience part. Because you do still need obedience in there. They need to know how to obey and how to make themselves obey. And they also need to know who to obey to and why.
[01:13:20] Ashley James: So you’re making it to be a lesson in obedience. Like you’re training if you’re training a hero, you’re the coach, or the trainer. And if they don’t obey, they get more and more chores until it’s like strike three. And then they have all their privileges removed. How do you get them to calm down though from that? I mean, if they’re in a power struggle and they’re really upset and they’re maybe throwing things or they’re just very upset at you and upset of the situation. How do you get them to the point where they’re like, they’re happy they’re learning the lesson of obedience?
[01:13:57] Molly Christensen: Their time doesn’t start for the loss of their privileges until they’re calm. So it’s their choice. I just tell them that, “You know what, buddy? It’s your choice. When you want to get out of this, I’ll be so excited when you get your privileges back. But we got to do this. We can learn how to obey.” And then I also teach them, too. It’s like we’re learning how to obey those voices in our head too. It’s the same principle there. Because the obedience pattern, it starts with learning how to obey in your family. You got to be your parents. And then you’ve got to learn how to obey the good. Your conscience, really. You need to learn to obey your parents first. Because that’s kind of the physical thing that they can see. And then you learn how to obey the more spiritual aspect of your brain. You got to learn how – right?
[01:14:58] Ashley James: So you’re teaching them obedience not because you are like a general and you just want some good soldiers. And children should just do what we say without question. You’re not coming from that at all. You’re coming from you want them to learn the life skill of self-discipline.
[01:15:17] Molly Christensen: Exactly. Yeah. It’s not because – yeah. It’s not because I’m so lazy that I want them to do everything for me either. Sometimes they’ll say that but no.
[01:15:27] Ashley James: Wow. That’s harsh.
[01:15:30] Molly Christensen: I know. Well, it’s just because that’s what their brains come up with as a reason why they don’t want to do it. You know what I mean? I’ve thought that before. So it’s not that. It’s not that I want to control them. It’s because it’s a life skill. It’s because we grow up as adults and we don’t know who to obey.
[01:15:53] Ashley James: I love it. You know, we weren’t taught how to listen to the first voice and how to deny the negative thoughts that tell us not to follow through. No one taught us the self-discipline or how to foster it. And I love that you made, like, manners and following the rules and obedience be a lesson in how they can listen to their authentic voice and then follow through with it. That’s really beautiful.
[01:16:36] Molly Christensen: Yeah. Isn’t it though? They don’t always understand that when they’re kids. But as we keep repeating it, they’ll get it when they’re adults.
[0:16:46] Ashley James: Are you seeing that now and your three oldest children?
[01:16:49] Molly Christensen: Oh, yeah. Yeah. They’re awesome. They’re really awesome at self-regulating. And following their consciences.
[01:17:00] Ashley James: Now, I’ve seen videos where you’re talking more about this. Is this part of your training as well? The training that you sell? Do you also teach this, how to discipline and ideas for different age groups?
[01:17:17] Molly Christensen: I haven’t got a specific program for this yet. But what I do have is I have a program for moms who want to learn how to become disciplined and create habits for themselves. Like even the habits they’ve never even been able to do before. Because a lot of times those habits that we wish we had, that’s a big call to action. But the refusals are so strong. And they’re just so hard to do because we tried them so many times and failed that we can figure out how to do them anymore. So I do have that program for moms and then a lot of moms take it and teach their kids how to do that. It’s really how to – like for me for example, I was such a night owl. I could never get to bed before, like, 2:00 in the morning. And I would rationalize that away. And whenever I would think about changing it, so I had the call to action, “I should go to bed earlier.” And then I’d be like, “Oh. But the kids are in bed and I’m getting all this stuff done, blah, blah, blah.” And I finally realized – well, I finally came up with all these different keys of how my brain works partly by doing that kindness daily blog. I learned so much about how my brain works and how it’s not just my brain that works like this. So I teach a lot of those brain principles from that. And also from reading other books and mentors and stuff, too. But I teach moms how to listen to what’s going on in their brains so that they can lead the way for their kids too. So if you want something that’s just going to fix the kids that way, I don’t have that program yet.
[01:18:54] Ashley James:Yet.
[01:18:55] Molly Christensen: Yet.
[01:18:57] Ashley James: But we have to be the example. Like you said, we have to be the example.
[01:19:00] Molly Christensen: Right. We have to lead the way.
[01:19:02] Ashley James: So as parents, we need to learn how to do that. And then we can be the example but also teach our kids.
[01:19:08] Molly Christensen: Exactly. And that’s what I encourage the moms – and I have some dads too – of how to do that, how to get control of your brain. And we do it with the vehicle of creating some of these good habits that you wish you had but could never figure out how to get.
[01:19:28] Ashley James: I love it. I love it. So I watched some of your videos and they’ve got lots of free content as well that people can absorb and learn from you. And I did one of your webinars where I was – and even there was like a link to watch some videos on your curriculum. Because you teach a homeschooling – you sell a homeschooling curriculum that can be taught to all ages. Because the parent would then adjust it for the age level. And I loved it. I got so excited about it. Actually, I really want to do it with our son. You were showing how like day one, they’re starting reading about Egypt. And so they’re getting excited about learning about the cool things about Egypt. But they’re learning about geography and history. And then they’re learning about architecture. And it’s all kind of wrapped into one, which I love that whole learning where it’s not – they could be drawing and then writing at the same time. And it’s like art and language and science are all wrapped into one. It’s not like, “Okay. Well, put down your pencils now we’re learning math.: It’s like math could be part of that, right? So it’s all wrapped into one. And that’s how the brain learns so well when it’s a whole lesson learning.
But I looked through your curriculum and I was inspired by it. And there’s so much of it as you turning to the child and getting them to share their creative ideas and to come up with new ones. And then they’re so excited about the lesson that they’re not bummed out about writing something or doing a writing assignment because they were so inspired by it.
[01:21:21] Molly Christensen: Right. Right. And that’s what the whole idea is, is because it’s all connected, they can make connections too. It’s like subjects are a new invention of the modern age. And we do actually have it broken up into subjects. Kind of funny. But even though I know it’s so much better when it’s all connected. But we do it in subjects just because that’s kind of – well, for one reason, the reason why I came up with subjects for industrial ages was just because it made it more systemized. And so that’s one reason why I just kept it that way. But all the subjects are interconnected.
[01:21:53] Ashley James: That’s what I meant. They’re all connected so that they get the connections. My husband and I are both very creative and smart. Not to toot my own horn. But we both struggled in school because we’re the kind of learners that need to know why do I need to know this. Before they’re just like, “You have to learn this”. And I’ve always found it so frustrating in high school when – I loved science. And I was in physics. And they hadn’t taught us the type of math that I needed to know yet to do the physics work. And I went up to my physics teacher, I’m like, “I haven’t learned this yet in my math class.” And he’s like, “Oh, we’ll go talk to your Math teacher.” And they’re like, “Oh, yeah. We’re doing that next quarter.” And I’m like, “You are just all not talking to each other. How is this possible?” And then I was writing my first history exam in grade ten. And it said, “Write the answer in essay format.” Never ever in my life had I heard of the term essay format. And my history teacher was so upset for me. And he advocated for me. I remember him grabbing my hand and storming into my English teachers office saying, “How is it possible she’s in grade ten and she has fallen through the cracks and she has never learned how to do an essay. This is not okay.” And it was like how many children are falling through the cracks that we’re learning these different – the separate subjects?
Whereas, if you are doing homeschooling, for example, you’re talking about the middle ages. And then within that theme, then you’re learning some math, and then you’re learning some geography, and then you’re learning some history, and learning the science. But you’re using a theme that connects it. And that maybe even a project like, “Okay. We’re going to make a castle out of popsicle sticks. But we have to do the math and we have to do the architecture.” So it allows them to apply it and understand why they need to know all these things. And then they end up coming up with all their questions that they want to have answered. So it makes sense to their brains and then it solidifies the learnings.
[01:24:24] Molly Christensen: Absolutely. And also, if you think about the famous men and women of the Renaissance. They did not just limit themselves to going deep in one subject. They need all the different subjects. When you call a renaissance man a renaissance man is because they are well read in all the different areas. And that’s the kind of person that’s going to come up with the most creative ideas because they can make the connections. And that’s where they come up with the new things. So like our industrialized age, we go really deep and specialized, which is great if you’ve got somebody who’s a heart surgeon or something. I want them to be specialized. But if you’re going to be creative and come up with new ideas, you want to connect everything. So what I did in my curriculum is I just used history to connect everything. Well, not just. We used history and principle.
So each month, you have new principles that we call the superpowers. Superpower principles, and they’re just like success principles, leadership principles. Because that’s what I wanted my kids to learn the awareness they’re getting until they’re a little older, especially. So I wanted to put it in my family style curriculum because that’s what makes life worth living is knowing how to go on your journey. So when you connect everything with history, it’s awesome because it’s the story of why and who we are and why we came up with things. So I loved the math part, especially because a lot of times we’re just throwing in all these calculations, which is boring.
[01:26:03] Ashley James: There’s no story.
[01:26:04] Molly Christensen: There’s no story.
[01:26:04] Ashley James: There’s no reason. And the thing is, when you get out into the real world as an adult, there is a story. I am balancing the family budget, there is a story. Because if I messed that up, we don’t have food on the table. So there’s an emotional – when we’re out in the real world or doing math for our job, like doing payroll or something, there is a story. There’s always, always in the real world an emotional component and a story behind math. Or if you’re doing math for NASA, like people could die because you’re flying out to outer space. And that math needs to make sense. So there’s always a reason why we’re doing math in the real world. But when we’re learning it, it’s like just figure these situations out.
[01:26:50] Molly Christensen: Just do it.
[01:26:50] Ashley James: Just do it. Just do it. And that’s just not how math – that’s not how we do math. I the real world, we do math with a reason with our emotional component. So I love that you’re including that because it helps us learn and really solidify that learning.
[01:27:03] Molly Christensen: Well, and also, you look at, let’s say, 12 years of math, right? It took mankind 6,000 years to learn most of that math. So they had to figure it out for a reason and why. And so that’s the stories I’m including in there. It’s like, “Well, why did they have to figure this out? Where did this come from?” So it’s pretty fascinating that way. And it really does make kids pretty excited because it brings in the music of math. I mean, you still have to learn the calculation skills. But that’s just something that I use to practice consistency and discipline. Because that doesn’t require thinking so much once you got it – once you understand it. So it’s all about inspiring them to love it, to love it more so they think. But then also training them so they get the skills. And the training is just the stuff that they don’t have to think about. But just practice.
[01:28:06] Ashley James: I love it. Oh, it’s so cool. So in all of this because you, after seven children, have developed a really amazing curriculum that now you sell. And so many, many other families are doing it and sharing with you their success. Can you tell us a bit about that? Like, what had you – because you told us your story but you didn’t get to the part where you then sat down and taught yourself how to create an internet course. And how to make this replicatable. And it is so – it’s so good looking, by the way. It looks like you hired a company to put it together. It looks so good. It’s like a textbook. It looks so good. I could tell you really put a lot of work into it. So I’m congratulating you on the hard work because I know what it takes.
[01:29:00] Molly Christensen: Thank you.
[01:29:00] Ashley James: I know what it takes. But you thought, how can I then make this replicatable so other families can do it? And now you have had other families do it. So can you share a bit about that?
[01:29:12] Molly Christensen: Yeah. Sure. Okay. So another big part of my journey is the entrepreneurship journey, which anybody who’s an entrepreneur knows is a journey. But I mean, that too, is just another hero’s journey of life. I was always kind of entrepreneurial when I was a kid. But I also got tons of refusals. Like, “I don’t like to talk to people. People think I mean.” So I kind of just hobby entrepreneured. Entrepreneured, I don’t know if that’s a verb. But I tended to set it down because so many people think that entrepreneurship is bad. It’s a lot of people losing a lot of money and they’re kind of crazy and all this. I had to really just shift my mind said about entrepreneurs. But as I started developing this program, because I wanted this program for my own kids. To systemize it because you can follow rabbit trails if you want. But my brain, we get so distracted that I would never come back to earth. And I just wanted a simple easy system that I could sit down and just cover all the basics in an hour a day.
I actually had a friend who said – well, where this really came up? I should back up a little bit. Is that I thought, you know, when our kids are teenagers and are Co-Ops, we do a really good job of teaching them leadership principles. Because we created that culture of teaching them that. And I thought, why don’t have something like this for the whole family and especially for the younger kids. Why not introduce them earlier to these principles? And I said that to her. And she’s like, “Oh, that’s a great idea. You should do it.” And I was like, “No. No, no, no. I don’t have time for that.” And then all the refusals came in. You know how that goes, right? Now, you’ve seeing this pattern. And I said, “I do have a lot of experience though. Maybe I could do this.” I own every single curriculum out there since I bought them all in my days when I was insecure and thinking a curriculum would solve all my problems. But I thought – you know, I have researched a lot of curriculum and I’ve noticed there’s not anything like this out there. And so I just thought, “Okay. I will do this.” But as many homeschool moms are, I’m a real DIY-er, you know, do everything yourself. And one of the big things I knew I was going to learn on this journey was that I was going to have to allow other people to help me, which has been fantastic. I’ve done a ton of it myself, for sure. But I have had other people come in and help me with this. And I did have a graphic designer. I don’t know how to do that. Thank goodness.
[01:32:04] Ashley James: Well, it looks so professional. So good job. Good job.
[01:32:07] Molly Christensen: Yeah. Yes. So she came up with kind of the ideas there too. But I was like – we’ve been writing the content. I write the math and the science. My sister came in. She homeschools too. And she’s wonderful. And she’s been writing the history and the language arts. And as we keep growing, I’m hoping I can bring more people on to help with it as well. But it’s really been a wonderful journey to learn all this stuff and to learn how to let other people help you too. Because guess what? That’s another huge chunk of the hero’s journey. Because when I was describing that hero’s journey to you, I said, the journey includes mentors. It includes friends and allies who are going on the path with you. It also includes enemies sometimes. Sometimes you hear things that are just aren’t so nice. And you don’t worry about it because you just know it’s part of the journey. And you feel compassion for the enemies because you think, “Oh, I’m so sorry that you haven’t found your path yet.” And maybe they have. But it’s just different.
So yes, really, it’s been an amazing project to do. And I love that I can share this with other homeschool moms so that they can see that, really, you can cover all of this basic knowledge in just an hour a day and to conspire them to want to go learn more. And to become the person that they’re meant to become. And to travel on their hero’s journey.
[01:33:38] Ashley James: So you just spend an hour a day homeschooling?
[01:33:43] Molly Christensen: Essentially, yes.
[01:33:44] Ashley James: And the kids are doing other things throughout the day like reading, and doing projects, and playing, and doing art, and stuff like that. But you sit down and you basically have a classroom for one hour a day. Is it seven days a week?
[01:33:59] Molly Christensen: No. We have a couch. Not a classroom. And the kitchen table. And no, we actually usually only do it about three or four days a week. Because the other – I definitely wouldn’t do it on the weekends. But I say three or four days because sometimes we’re going to go on a field trip or maybe we’re just running errands or something, you know. So yes, it takes surprisingly a lot less time than one might think to teach your kids because of this, we think it takes 9:00 to 3:00 like the public schools, but they’ve done all these studies about how much time is wasted there. But also, it’s because of the teaching style is different. I’m focusing on the feeling. If they have the right feeling, they’re going to learn it so much faster because they want to. Public schools, because there’s so many kids in there – and I’m not knocking public schools. It is what it is. And it’s a good option for many people. But they have to focus more on repetition. It does not take six years of grammar worksheets to learn grammar. It just doesn’t. If they’re ready and they have something they want to say, they can learn it really fast. And if they’ve been read really good books to, they have it in their brain when they read. A lot of the stuff they just pick up. I don’t even have to teach them because it’s like osmosis, you know. So it really is not as – it’s not rocket science as we think.
[01:35:31 Ashley James: There’s this type of school – is it called the Sudbury School? The type of school? Yeah. So I was looking – when we were pregnant, my husband and I – well, I was really motivated too. Because when you’re pregnant, you’re like – or at least with the first baby because I only had one – I was trying to consume all the information possible about my child’s future. Like, you know what kind of schooling and all this stuff. What are we going to do and how are we going to discipline, and what kind of birth are we going to have. And I came across this type of school called the Sudbury School. And it completely blew my mind. It is totally – I don’t know. I feel like I’ve entered – I’ve gone into a time warp but entered like 1969 and we’re surrounded by hippies. Because it’s basically a kid commune where you drop your kid off on a place with buildings and a few acres. And you leave your kid there and there’s no formal classrooms, there’s no teachers. There are adults and they’re called coaches or something. And the child is just allowed to do whatever they want. Of course, actually the children come up with their own rules. Because they come up with their own government. And the kids get to run the place. And the kids could actually vote to fire one of the adults should they want to.
And so the adults really who are there because they love to share and teach. And so the kids, if they’re interested will go to the computer room and ask the adult to teach them how to do – how to make a video game, how to code. Or the child would go to the music room and say, “I want to learn how to play the guitar.” And I’ve watched a lot of videos of graduates of this system. And the they go on to college. And they say, for the first year, you might just – the kids might spend the entire time playing video games. And he says, “Yeah. They do.” They kind of get it all out. They get it out of their system. They do whatever they want and they get it out of their system. And then they start to look around and go, “How does this work? How does that work? Oh, man, I really want to try this. I really want to do this.” And they start getting inspired by things. And then they go ask the adults for help to learn those things. And then if they decided they want to – because they get so inspired, they go, “You know, I really want to become an engineer.” Well, they have to ask, “What do I need to do?” “Okay. Well, you have to learn this, this, this, and this. And in order to pass this test to go on to college.” And then they want to and then they’re constantly asking for help because they’re learning. So it’s like the Wild West there. And there are children who don’t excel in that environment because – for whatever reason. Bt there are children who excel incredibly well because their learning style is just, “Leave me alone and let me come to you when I’m ready. And I want to completely have my education be based on my motivation.”
And that blew my mind. I think it blew a circuit in my brain. Because I was raised in the system of you, you shut up, you sit down, don’t talk until you’re spoken to. Children are seen and not heard. Raise your hand if you need to go to the bathroom. You have to have a hall pass. And really made to feel afraid of adults and afraid of the teachers. And education is not supposed to be fun. That was the system I was raised in. And I was always – I always had a belief that I was stupid because that was the system I was raised in. But then as an adult, I’m like,” I want to learn how to code. I want to learn how to make a website. I want to learn how to video edit.” And I found myself picking things up so quickly that I realized I am a really good learner. But it has to be something that I love to do, which is how our brain works. So that’s why – and so I think Sudbury is the type of that schooling or unschooling is this one end of the extreme. And then military school would be the other side of the extreme.
But I like that what you’ve done is you’ve picked mindset and teaching them how to be the best versions of themselves as the core of your curriculum. So you’re building – like you said, you’re building the their character but you’re also building your own character as a parent, which is really beautiful.
[01:39:56] Molly Christensen: Yeah. You nailed it. That’s exactly what I wanted to do. Because I love the idea of Sudbury. But part of me wonders where does the character coming in especially if they’re being sent away all day. Plus, I don’t want to send my kids away all day. You know what I mean?
[01:40:12] Ashley James: Right. I imagine it like Lord of the Flies. You just get a bunch of kids together –
[01:40:16] Molly Christensen: That’s kind of what I would do.
[01:40:18] Ashley James: Oh man, Lord of the Flies. It just scares me. But it did open my mind and expand my mind to this idea of there are aspects of this unschooling that make a lot of sense or child led learning that makes a lot of sense. Not 100 percent of the time for me as a parent. But it opened my mind up to, “Well, how do we learn?” And I really want my son to want to learn and get excited about learning. And he is. And I don’t want to thwart that, which we do. By the time we send our kids to school, a lot of the school system thwarts their desire to learn because –
[01:40:55] Molly Christensen: Absolutely. And the comparison culture to. I mean, you even said you thought you were stupid. It’s like, none of those kids are stupid. They all have their own unique abilities. And they all have goodness inside. They just have different journeys. I’ve had some kids learn to read when they were four. And I have another kid now who’s eight-and-a-half and it just hasn’t quite clicked yet. It’s just about to though. But because I can let her go on her own journey, I can just keep saying, “This is awesome. You can keep working out. You’re going to get there.”
[01:41:30] Ashley James: Beautiful. Now, let’s talk about socialization. Because I think that’s on everyone’s mind. I mean, the fact that you did have seven kids so those kids are all working together so they’re not alone. But there’s a lot of parents that just have one or two kids. And so if they’re at home all day, how are they going to be amazing adults to connecting with people and knowing how to communicate if they’re those oddball kids who are isolated at home as we often think or that’s the mainstream media’s idea of homeschooling.
[01:42:03] Molly Christensen: Right. Well, what I learned really quickly was that basically children they model their parents. So if you feel like somebody else unsocialized, it could come from the parents. Sad to say. And we got unsocialized kids at public school too. The outcast. The social outcast. So for me, because I was worried about that, I was like, “Well, I guess I better lead the way.” So I am a total introvert. I went through high school and was I socialized? Did I learn how to communicate with people? No. Not really. I felt awkward all the time in high school. Like, why do we think that’s a good environment to learn how to communicate with people? I just mostly just felt awkward. And so I just decided I just need to learn how to love and serve other people. And I figure if we can do that, hey, we’re going to be socialized. We’re going to know how to get along with other people.
So I just remember some of my first few Co-Op activities I took my son to. What I really want to do is just go sit in the corner and hide and he did too. In fact, he didn’t even want get out the car. But I just made myself go introduce myself to other people and get to know them. You know, what, people are amazing. People are great. And it was really like, as I practiced my socialization skills, they followed suit as well. I was a little worried at first when he wouldn’t get out of the car ever. But he figured it about. He’s an amazing kid. And so, really, what socialization is all about is just loving and serving people. And you can absolutely do that in your home. You can absolutely do that and take your kids to other places and just love and serve people. And there’s so much of the other socialization stuff that comes from sending your kids to school that I didn’t want. Like, I mentioned that my son was bringing home some bad behaviors. I was like, “Why would I want that?”
[01:44:15] Ashley James: Bullying. And it’s really sad that the number two cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24 suicide right now. That it raised up to, I think, it’s 56 percent in the last ten years. I mean, suicide is at an all time high, basically, with our youth.
[01:44:38] Molly Christensen: Yeah. It’s horrible.
[01:44:38] Ashley James: And that’s something we have to stop and say there’s something wrong with our system. And I don’t think there’s only one thing. I don’t think you can only say that it’s the school system. Or you only say that they all have cell phones or social media. I think it is -and we have to look at everything. We have to take the shotgun approach. We have to look at everything and go there’s something wrong with how we’re addressing mental health, with how we’re addressing bullying, with how we’re addressing online bullying, with how we’re addressing it in the schools.
There was a child – this is such a sad topic to bring up. There’s a eight or nine year old child just this week that committed suicide because he was knocked unconscious when beaten in his school. And it was filmed by one of the students. And the school tried to suppress it and deny it. And I don’t know what kind –
[01:45:31] Molly Christensen: He didn’t feel heard.
[01:45:31] Ashley James: So he didn’t feel heard. And then he killed himself. And that is so wrong and so sad. And we should all feel very angry and want to take action to fix this problem. I think that we all need to fix the problem. That we all need to take – we need to take personal responsibility because we can only change ourselves. So we need to figure out what can we do as individuals to make this world, to make this society, to make our community, a place where mental health can be addressed and what is the root cause of bullying. What is going on? The root cause of bullying and figure that out. We have to figure it out. And then we have to address it with our children, with our children’s friends, with all the parents that were around. We need to take action as individuals. Because we can’t wait for the government to fix it or the school system to fix it. If we just wait it’s going to just get worse and worse. And so that’s my little soapbox about this that we need to take responsibility for our own actions. And the first voice, the little voice that everyone just heard in themselves go, “That is wrong. And I want to help stop this. I want to help turn this around.” That voice was our authentic self. And then all the refusals that came after, “Well, who am I to do that? And I’m just one person. And I don’t know anyone -“
[01:47:08] Molly Christensen: What to do.
[01:47:09] Ashley James: “I don’t know what to do.” All those little refusals, that’s the party that wants to keep you safe. But we need to go. “Ah. Thanks for pointing out where I’m stuck in life. I’m going to break through that. And I’m going to prove those voices wrong. Listen to the authentic voice.” So all of us could just do one thing like you did your blog. You did 180 beautiful acts of kindness in a year. And what if we all just did one act of kindness dedicated to lowering the suicide rate among youth? We don’t have to know what it looks like but just start. Just start by saying, “I’m going to do something and be part of this change to turn the world around.” And I don’t know what it looks like yet but I’m declaring it. I’m declaring it right now. And then I’m going to go and talk to other parents. And maybe we’ll create a little organization or get them all together for tea and just brainstorm what can we do as individuals to turn this around. Because this is our mission. As long as we’re in service of others with love and service of others and being an example for our children, then we will have a positive impact.
[01:48:21] Molly Christensen: Well, absolutely. And I actually think that so many elements of the hero’s journey address this as well. Because I think our nation is a nation with an identity crisis. People do not know who they are. They don’t know that they have goodness inside because they have no purpose. They don’t understand so many of these principles. And I think this as long as we’re doing these kindnesses and we see people who are lonely. We reach out and we teach people and love people. That’s what we can do.
[01:48:54] Ashley James: It’s so beautiful. Molly, thank you so much for coming today and sharing. This episode would help anyone. Although the formal topic was on homeschooling, you addressed some principles of personal growth that I find to be so beautiful and so, so, so helpful to everyone that wants to break through and to grow. So thank you so much for coming on and sharing. Of course, the links to everything that Molly does is going to be the show notes of today’s podcasts at learntruehealth.com. Your main website which is buildingheroesacademy.com is fantastic. Also, your book is homeschool get it done.com. And then your curriculum funnel is the number 3homeschoolsecrets.com.
Molly, is there anything that you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview? Is there anything left unsaid or anything that you want to make sure that you’ve got to share?
[01:49:52] Molly Christensen: Yeah. Thank you so much for inviting me. This has been great. And I love that you are sharing your message. And that’s actually another thing that many of us are called to do is to share our messages. But we have fears and we shut ourselves down. So I guess really what I want to end we’re with is just that, to remember that you are one of those heroes that we’ve been talking about on this hero’s journey. Everybody listening to this and Ashley, for sure. Because just knowing that just makes such a shift in your life. And I love the visual that that can bring to you so you can remember, when you do get down, when you do hit obstacles, it’s just part of the journey. And it’s a great thing because it just means that you are on the right path, that you are just going to be learning and growing. And as you’ve learned how to get through those obstacles and you’re changing so many lives as you go through because you are doing what you were meant to do. You were called to the action that you did it. And that’s really what life is all about, it’s just doing that so that you can serve people. So thank you so much for having me on. And I hope to talk to you again sometime.
[01:50:58] Ashley James: Absolutely, Molly. This is not our last conversation. This is just the first of many. Thank you. It’s been such a pleasure to have you on today. Thank you so much.
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Dr. Vincent Pedre And Ashley James
- What gut health is really about.
- Acid Reflux is not really having too much acid in our stomachs but actually less of it.
- Mindset id the first thing we should change when accepting the challenge of being healthy also goes with lifestyle changes.
- Having a healthy gut is the start of being healthy all throughout.
- How concussions can sometimes be the cause of gut dysfunction.
- The health of the body is really dependent on the health of your entire digestive system.
- Medication is not going to build good health for a person, it’s going to be lifestyle, it’s going to be the way they eat.
Sometimes we have to listen to our bodies when it’s telling us that something is wrong. A certain symptom can sometimes present itself with a different root cause. In the instance of having an unhealthy gut, an upset stomach or maybe even heartburn can manifest when our bodies are fighting off the imbalances in the acids within. Dr. Vincent Pedre shares some of his expertise towards having a healthy gut in this episode I’m sure everyone is interested to know about.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s show with functional medicine doctor, Vincent Pedre. He has some amazing information about healing the gut and I know you will just love it. I wanted to share an email I got. I love emails from you guys, from the listeners. They often bring me to tears and this one from a listener that I’ve received a few days ago and I got permission to read it. I won’t share their name. They’re actually really excited for me to share because they wanted to spread hope. They say, “Hey there, Ashley. Hope the start of your holiday season is treating you and your family well. I just wanted to sincere thank you for the incredible impact you and your podcast has had in my life. After struggling with nervous system issues, digestive system issues for over 5 years, after a concussion landed me in the ER, after years of bouncing around to numerous practitioner and following countless protocols and spending way more money that I’d like to admit. It was two episodes of your podcast in particular that introduced me to the missing links in my healing process. I was able to locate an atlas orthogonal chiropractor in Seattle after hearing your episode with Dr. Patrick Gallagher. And I happen to see Eric Thorton who literally put my brain back in place. I imagine you get loads of emails like these but just wanted to extend my appreciation and gratitude for you and your work. All your shows are so jam-packed with valuable information that I will continue to listen, learn and pass along the information. Many cheers and hope you have a very happy and healthy holiday.”
Thank you so much for this letter. I wanted to share this because this listener had spent years and years over 5 years going from doctor to doctor with all kinds of issues and they didn’t give up hope. They’ve kept educating themselves and through some wonderful episodes, they really unlocked and unlocked what they’re looking for. I’ve had similar emails recently saying that specific episodes were the missing links that they were searching and searching and something just clicked. That was the missing link. Sometimes its diet. Sometimes it’s really simple like removing something out of your diet. Sometimes it’s a nutrient deficiency. Something as simple as magnesium or zinc. Sometimes it’s taking the time to breathe. Something really simple. And sometimes it is a lot of things. It’s the shotgun approach needing to do many changes. If you’re suffering and you are feeling sick. You’re tired of feeling sick, know that there’s hope. Keep moving forward and every little change matters. You’ll look back and you’ll realize, today you’re better than the day before. That’s how I was. I was so sick for so many years and now looking back, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how sick I was because I feel so good now. It took me years to build this. It’s the foundation of health you’re building, it’s funny that this listener wrote this about having a concussion because in today’s interview, Dr. Pedre talks about one cause of gut dysfunction, is concussion. He explains that.
Concussions are really common and often overlooked by regular doctors. When I say regular, I mean just like, run of the mill doctors. Not ones that have more advanced training like in functional medicine. So you go to an average doctor and they wouldn’t know when you’re having digestive issues to actually look at your brain health. Very interesting. So you’ll enjoy today’s interview if you have gut issues and that you’re looking to heal because Dr. Pedre has a wonderful book called, Happy Gut and he teaches some and brings us some great information in today’s interview. He’s going to come back on the show because even after 90 minutes we just got in the surface. I’m very excited to have him continue to come back and teach more and more. I want all of you to have wonderfully healthy guts. That doesn’t sound good. I want all of us to have wonderfully healthy tummies and happy healthy tummies and digestive systems. Enjoy today’s interview. Please share this episode with those you love who you also want to extend having healthy tummies with. That would be great if we could include all of our loved ones. Build happy healthy tummies with us. Enjoy today’s episode and have an excellent rest of your day.
[05:25] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 397. I am so excited for today’s guest. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and my gut. We have Dr. Vincent Pedre, who is an MD that specializes in healing the gut, holistically. Man, your bio, we could spend 2 hours just talking about your bio and your credentials. You have been on some amazing TV shows, you’ve hung out with Dr. Oz, you’ve done so many interviews. You’ve written so much great articles and books and your website, Happygutlife.com. I’m really excited for us to talk about this today because so many people complain. A lot of my listeners that they have bloating, they have constipation. That they’re on medications for heart burn that they just don’t know where to start or maybe they’ve been trying to do some diet to heal their candida, or heal their small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It’s such a long path and they’re not getting the results that they want to get. Gut health is the foundation. If we don’t have our gut health, we don’t have anything. Because if we’re not absorbing and utilizing our nutrition, everything falls apart. That’s where it all begins.
[07:03] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Totally. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast. I’d like to think of the gut as the root system of the body. The same that the roots are for a tree. They are foundational. Imagine the health of the tree is guided by the health of the roots. Same way, the health of the body is really dependent on the health of your entire digestive system.
[07:27] Ashley James: Absolutely. Yes. Then more recently, people have been talking about how they’re seeing a direct correlation between gut health and brain health. That the vagus nerve can become inflamed and they’re seeing that also in the gut. That we make some of our neuro chemicals in the gut and that even our T3’s converted, 25% of our T3’s converted in the gut. The gut is not just for digesting food, it’s also affecting our brain and our hormones.
[08:03] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Let’s say, metabolically active organ system that is involved in making if we include the gut microbiome in that picture, is included in making neuro transmitters. It makes it’s own hormone that affect things like your appetite also your sense of that you’ve already eaten enough. It control so many things, it regulates blood sugar. It’s a really integral part of the entire picture of what makes up our health.
[08:39:] Ashley James: Now you wrote a book called Happy Gut. The cleansing program to help you lose weight, gain energy and eliminate pain. I heard about the study where they took obese, I think it was obese mice and mice of a healthy weight. They did a fecal transplant from the healthy weight mice to the obese mice and then the obese mice then became, without changing their chloric intake, the obese mice became not obese. So they’re saying that even our gut health has to do with the obesity and since we’re seeing that that is one of the largest health problems occurring today. Would you say that gut health and that almost everyone doesn’t have gut health right now?
[09:28] Dr. Vincent Pedre: You could argue for that. That we are in an epidemic of gut disorders. Let’s say in gut related disorders all throughout the world. It’s fascinating because I teach – I’ve had the honor to teach in Australia and Mexico. I just came back from Peru. Obesity is a problem that is a worldwide problem and the rise in diabetes and metabolic syndrome which is a precursor to diabetes that’s growing all over the world. You could argue which is the chicken or the egg, what’s coming first. There has been so many changes in the way that we eat. Our dietary patterns are so skewed from our ancestral patterns because of the availability of food, but also just the preponderance of sugar-laden foods, the refined carbohydrates, packaged foods. All sorts of things that are convenient but they’re just not healthy for us and certainly not healthy for the gut microbiome which then regulates things like how your body processes sugars. That’s going to relate to how much fat you pack into the middle of your body because that’s regulated by the hormone insulin.
You could argue, look at just the trends for example. The second most prescribed medication worldwide is a proton pump inhibitor, which lowers the acidity of the stomach. If you just look at this just as a late person. Even just like of an innocent child asking questions like, “Weren’t we made to have acid in our stomach for a reason? Is it okay to go in and alter that?” And think that we are solving a problem without a problem without creating downstream problems. That was my question in the 90’s when the proton pump inhibitors became the new panacea for gut issues if you’ve’ had acid reflux, let’s give you a proton pump inhibitor. You know, even back then, I asked the question, “You know, our physiology evolved to have a PH in the stomach around 3. We evolved to create stomach acid, why is it okay to change that? Are you sure that by changing that we’re not causing some downstream problems?” Early on in the days of the proton pump inhibitors, I swear if you spoke to a gastroenterologist, they thought it should just be added to the water and there were no problems with it. We know now, more than two decades later, that they lead to all sorts of things like calcium malabsorption, iron malabsorption. It could cause B12 deficiency. They lead to low bone mass eventually maybe to osteoporosis.
[12:46] Ashley James: Would it also lead to something like H-Pylori and allow for other parasitic infections to occur because if we don’t have enough acid in the stomach, like that’s our line of defense, it’s kind of a like a mote around it’s castle. It’s preventing stuff from getting in right?
[13:06] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. It’s initial line of defense, let’s say bacteria that might get through the food that we eat. Yeast for example. Candida has a hard time surviving stomach acid but if your stomach PH is raised and much easier than to colonize the stomach and really the small intestine and large intestine with yeast. H. Pylori’s a different story because PPI’s actually inhibit H.Pylori. Slow down the growth H.Pylori but they don’t eradicate the infection. They could actually perpetuate an H.Pylori infection at a very low grade but never fully get rid of it.
[13:52] Ashley James: That sounds like, you could insert that into almost any condition where chronic drugs we’re given to mask how the body functions. To sort of manage symptoms but not solve the problem. It persists. Something persists.
[14:10] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Exactly and for many people, we’re starting with stomach acid. For many people, acid reflux, heart burn is both an issue of diet and lifestyle habits, but it can also be an issue with not enough stomach acid production which is counter intuitive. Most people think that acid reflux means you’re making too much acid. For the majority of people what it means they making too little acid. They’re probably not making enough stomach acid because there’s different levels of malfunction they could be nutrient deficient so maybe they don’t have enough zinc in their diet. For example, they could have vagal nerve malfunction and thus they’re not getting the nerve impulses that would stimulate the stomach to produce enough acid to break down protein.
[15:06] Ashley James: What causes that? What causes vagal nerve malfunction?
[15:09] Dr. Vincent Pedre: The probably the easiest thing to understand that could cause that is a concussion for example. How many people have had concussions in their life where they lose consciousness and they recover for it. At least they think they’ve recovered from it but then something is not quite right after that. We know that if you have a concussion with loss of consciousness that within 30 minutes, you have vagal nerve malfunction and because of that you get leaky gut syndrome. The vagus nerve also regulates the gut barrier and the permeability of the gut. The other thing that I see in my practice that is more common that concussion that causes vagal nerve malfunction is stress. I would say that’s the number one reason people are – just think through a time where you’ve been really stressed and you eat but that food feels like it’s like a rock in your stomach? That’s because you’re not making enough digestive enzyme. They say you have to rest to digest. Or another word is you have to be in a relax state in order for your body to be able to digest foods. If you’re not into a relax state your body thinks that you need to be ready to run because something’s going to come and attack you. That’s the state of our modern lives. It’s maladaptive stress response because we’re not out in the wild. We don’t need to protect ourselves form some animals that going to try and attack and eat us. We’re living in a state as if it exists and we don’t resolve that state so a lot of people live in that chronic fight or flight response.
That will then affect your vagal tone that reduces vagal tones and terms has cascading effects of reducing stomach acid production. You might get stomachaches, maybe you start getting some reflux and then you think, “Well, I’m producing too much acid so I should take some of the acid lowering medication.” For the most part, that is the wrong thing to do. Now you’re going to create new problems because once you’re reducing stomach acid, I’ve mentioned calcium malabsorption, B12. They’ve also found that people who take PPI’s long term so proton pump inhibitors, these acid reducing medications out there that they’re at increased risk for some pneumonia and for being hospitalized with a pneumonia. They’re also at an increased risk for an infection and infection that you never want to get which is C. DIFF Diarrhea which is caused by bacteria called Clostridium Difficile. Which is extremely difficult to treat has become more and more resistant to the classic antibiotics that were used for that because of the overuse of antibiotics. It’s something that you don’t want to get. Along with yeast overgrowth and potentially I had a patient who came in who develop C. DIFF as a result of being on a proton pump inhibitor.
[18:28] Ashley James: There just doesn’t seem like there any positive news that comes to taking these medications. They get temporarily relief but they’re going to have worse side effects down the road.
[18:43] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Right. It’s either the quick solution versus what is going to be a little bit harder work. Which is figuring out, “Okay, you need to look at yourself, change your lifestyle.” Maybe you’re coming home at 8pm at night. Eating dinner and then you’re in bed by 11. You haven’t had enough time to digest your food and then at nighttime that food is sitting there putting pressure and stomach acid comes up because you’re lying down. A lot of times it takes making some tough choices about changing lifestyle habits. A lot of people, they’d rather just take a pill than change lifestyle but honestly, the lifestyle’s going to have the most favorable effects. The other thing is not breaking down protein properly. We started talking about neuro transmitters and hormones, what not. If you don’t break down your protein properly, you’re not going to have the sub stream necessary to make the neuro transmitter that help keep you happy and help life feel satisfying. Then you know you can go down the path of depression and anxiety because you’re not breaking down your protein properly.
[19:57] Ashley James: I’ve been advertised to recently, Zantac which is an anti-acid and anti-histamine now there’s a big recall because it’s now linked to causing cancer.
[20:12] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Let me explain it. There’s an ingredient in there, the scientific term for it, it’s an inert ingredient that’s used as filler to make these tablets.
[20:25] Ashley James: So it’s not that anti-acids directly causes cancer.
[20:28] Dr. Vincent Pedre: No. It was an ingredient within Zantac and it was a lot of the generic manufacturers. It was actually a recall that affected other generics as well because I have patients that take blood pressure medication that was also within that recall and it’s because they found that it had an ingredient that had an increase suspicion of being increasing the risk of cancer for people. So it was basically not the active ingredient itself, but another ingredient in the – which is scary because there are over the counter medications that you can just go and buy without a doctor’s prescription. And it had a substance in it that had been found to increase the risk for cancer.
[21:17] Ashley James: We live in a world where we feel that because it’s been sold over the counter that it’s safe. But if we go to Costco, you can buy one purchase of cough syrup because they sell this both too so that there’s two bulk giant, it’s like half a liter I think or something. It’s some crazy amount of cough syrup and they’re strapped together but two bottles of this big cough syrup and if you were to accidentally, maybe you were just sipping on it or you have a cough and you don’t read a label, you could kill yourself. It has a lethal dose of acetaminophen in it. It’s sold over the counter like we can go to a drugstore and buy something that doesn’t seem excessive and kill ourselves. We have to like really be careful taking any medication at all and make sure that we’re talking tour doctor and doing our research and like you said, stopping and looking at lifestyle and diet.
[22:16] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. I think a lot of doctors are trained within the system. You know, I hate to say it but I was trained in that system. That in some ways and this is what really turned me off to medicine at the end of my training is that, we’re just glorified reps for the pharmaceutical industry. That’s the way they train us. We’re constantly being marketed to by the different companies and back in the day and the early 2000’s, we were wined and dined. They found that doctors that were visited by pharmaceutical reps with the newest most expensive drugs tended to prescribe those newer and more expensive medications. When maybe there were alternatives that were much cheaper that would have been out for the long time. Obviously, the push is always to sell the newest because those are the medications that are unpatented and the companies that are going to make most money with. It’s horrible to say but in some ways I feel like until you wake up as a doctor, you’re basically a glorified rep for pharmaceutical companies writing their medications.
[23:37] Ashley James: This is so refreshing because normally I’m the one that gets into the soapbox that starts ranting and raving about the allopathic medical system but I decided to just hold back and you just filled in everything. It was perfect. I love it.
[23:52] Dr. Vincent Pedre: I can say that now because what I do as much as – I’m talking about the system, medications can be lifesaving. They are definitely places where medications can help change the course of the disease that has gone too far to be able to make and immediate change by using natural means. Even when and even with because I sit on both sides of the fence as in internal medicine trained doctor but also functional medicine trained. I kind of mewled the two and there are places for each but I’m always regardless having a conversation with a patient about nutrition, about lifestyle, about stress management. Everything that I think builds good health because a medication is not going to build good health for a person, it’s going to be lifestyle, it’s going to be the way they eat. That’s what’s going to help build good health for people.
[24:58] Ashley James: Exactly. The thing is, by the time they go to get on the medication, they’re really sick of being sick and they’re sick of that symptom. They need some relief and pain is the biggest motivator. When we’re in pain –
[25:14] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Anything that makes us uncomfortable. Right? You know, thank goodness for podcasts like yours that are out there educating people because if you think about it, 20 plus years ago, pre internet age, the place that people got their medical knowledge was from doctors who were trained to prescribe medications and to treat disease with bandage rather than to look at the root cause. Now we’re in an era where information is wide and open. You would probably chuckle if you saw the sticker that’s on the side of my computer that faces my patients because I think it’s funny but I also respect the free flow of information and the searching that this is created in. It’s really the last 20 years I think empowered patients to see that they had played a bigger role in their health than they were made to believe by our paternalistic allopathic medical system. My sticker says, “Please don’t confuse your google search with my medical degree.” [Laughter] As I say that I still encourage people to be their own doctor and part of what I do with my patients is I teach them to listen to their body and to basically evolve their own intuitive awareness of what is right for them and what is wrong for them. I think a lot of people are moving through life and we’re talking about gut health here and just think the gut is the intuitive center of the body. It’s really about tuning into your body and seeing that if you eat this, how does it make you feel? If you don’t eat it? Do you feel better? Do you feel more clear headed? Some people are really not living by that level of awareness. They’re feeling horrible. They’re not connecting the two together that the way they’re eating is part of the reason they don’t feel that great.
[27:27] Ashley James: About 2 years ago, I started to get this sore throat and my glands were swollen and I went to my Naturopath and she did swabs for everything and everything came out negative. I’m so weird, I’m like, “What’s going on?” I didn’t feel sick other than my glands were swollen, my adenoids, and my throat was always sore just out of nowhere. It was around February so I thought, “Okay, I got to have something, some kind of bug.” I was talking all this herbs and stuff for anti-viral and anti-bacterial and when again few weeks later, I said, “This is ridiculous.” I got to the point where I couldn’t do interviews because my throat was so sore, my voice was so sore. She was swabbing me checking again, nothing. Everything came back, all the cultures came back negative and she looks at me and she goes, “This could be heartburn.” I thought, “There’s no way this is heart burn. I eat so healthy.” Then she says, “Okay, let’s do a test.” She doesn’t think that Tums are a healthy thing to take but it’s an easy diagnostic tool. It’s the cheapest diagnostic tool. She was like, “Take Tums for 3 days and if you get relief and your sore throat goes away then we need to look at your diet. We need to look at what’s going on.” Sure enough, within hours of talking some Tums, my sore throat starts to subside. I thought, “Shoot. Are you kidding me?”
That heartburn can appear as just a sore throat. It doesn’t have to be that classic, sensation in the tummy or in the esophagus. I figured out that I – because I was my husband went vegan like whole food plant based and I was trying to adapt to that way of eating so I started to eating tofu at every meal. Because I hadn’t really learned yet how to do this way of eating and my body was going, “What are you feeding me?” My body was giving me heartburn from eating tofu so I cut tofu out. I all went away and then I had to learn that I can eat lots of beans and peas and nuts and seeds and all other kinds of foods for fiber and protein and all that. Now I can eat tofu once in a while and I had absolutely no problem but it was sort of the daily eating at pretty much every meal my body went, “This isn’t happening.” I thought that was really interesting because if I had gone to an MD, I don’t know, they would started probably with anti-biotic. I had classic look like infected throat and maybe later on I would’ve been put on some antacids. Never looking at adjusting the diet whereas going to you, the functional doctor, you would’ve started with, “Okay, what’s going on with your life? What’s going on with your diet? What changes have you made? How was your stress level? What are you eating?” You know, you’re looking at the root.
[30:28] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Exactly. Definitely. We’re looking at a much bigger picture of where the symptoms are coming from.
[30:38] Ashley James: What can people do if they’re currently on anti-acids and they want to get their gut to the point where it’s making healthy levels of acid, they no longer have those painful symptoms. What kind of steps can they ate to get themselves so healthy so that they no longer need that crutch?
[30:58] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That is a really great question. It can be tough for some people. That ones that I’ve had that are the most challenging, part of it can be also belief system. If you’ve been on anti-acid mediation for over 10 years, you’ve learn that you can’t live without it. The first part of it is changing the mindset around that because there is almost like a psychological dependence around taking the medication because if you don’t, you’re going to have acid reflux. You’re not going to feel well, you’re not going to be able to eat but the way I used to do presentation where I showed a picture of hoover dam and that was my analogy of the PPI is that, it basically slows down the acid production. It’s blocking those proton pumps but the body has a response hypertrophies, the proton pumps so it actually makes more of them but then they’re all getting blocked right? Now say you stop taking the PPI, now you have more proton pumps than you had before. Guess what’s going to happen?
[32:21] Ashley James: Is it like a flood?
[32:23] Dr. Vincent Pedre: You’re going to start producing too much stomach acid. You stop the medication then you feel worse, and then you think, “Well, that means, I can’t be off of this medication.” Right? A lot of the work that I do with patients is that transition point which can be a multi-month process. It could be a 6 month process. A lot of times involves looking at full lifestyle because we started talking about the role of the vagus nerve and stress and how that affects stomach acid secretion. How acid reflux is probably for the most part, low stomach acid not high stomach acid production and yet yes, it does respond to going on a PPI because it raises the PH o the stomach acid so if it does come up it doesn’t bother the esophagus. You don’t get those heartburn symptoms in the same way. The transition can be tough for some people but very slow taper of the medication we don’t go from on to off knowing that there is a hypertrophy of those proton pumps that if you stop if suddenly you’re going to get a flood of acid.
Then we work on giving them nutrients that help heal the gut barrier. A lot of people are zinc deficient and zinc is very important for the health of the stomach lining. We may supplement with some zinc carnosine. A lot of times use combination supplement with marshmallow roots, slippery elm bark, aloe, DGL, which is a licorice derivative. Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice. Then we might also start and this is so counter intuitive and hard for people to understand. I may start to introduce a hydrochloric acid supplement with meals where they’re eating protein. That’s to help them break down the protein better. A lot of times that’s the hard part for patient who’s been used to being taught and told that you’re producing too much stomach acid now I’m going to give you more stomach acid, like, “How is that going to make me better?”
[35:00] Ashley James: But they were taught a lie. For those who don’t know the physiology of the esophageal sphincter, isn’t that why they get GERD because they weren’t producing enough stomach acid so the sphincter wasn’t closing. The sphincter is triggered by a certain level of acid? Can you explain that?
[35:27] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That is part of the picture. Then you have to think about all the things that people might be doing that we can or relax the lower esophageal sphincter which is a protection from that acid coming up. For example, chewing gum excessively or eating too much chocolate or drinking a bunch of coffee or smoking. All of these things affect the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter. Then that can also allow acid to come up.
[36:09] Ashley James: Does stress or the vagal nerve malfunction also affect the lower esophageal sphincter?
[36:18] Dr. Vincent Pedre: I’m going to say that there’s stronger influence on what’s happening on the stomach. It probably has some level of defect because stress definitely can affect the ability of the esophageal sphincter to contract or relax but it’s probably the bigger role as it effects on stomach acid production.
[36:47] Ashley James: Got it. So someone stressed out one of the listeners, busy mom. Stay at home mom or a guy that one of the listener’s is a male and he rushes off to work or a female who has manage taking care of their elderly parents and a job. They’re basically burning the candles at both ends. They’re stressed. Maybe they’ve had a concussion in their past, who knows. Concussions are really common. They have that, they’ve got the stress. Maybe they’ve had in the past, a few years they’ve had some antibiotics that they’ve been on so their gut flora isn’t that great. Maybe they have like you said a nutrient deficiency of zinc so they’ve sent out his perfect storm. Maybe they’re sort off so tried that they’ve pounding back the coffee just to like be able to get through the day. Have some adrenaline going on. Now they start getting this heartburn so they start popping this over the counter medications, TUMS, whatever they’re doing which is lowering stomach acid because that gives temp relief but what that does is persist the problem of malabsorption of nutrients, might even allow for Candida overgrowth or other dysbiosis to occur. Now they’re having more and more symptoms. So then it just grows and grows and grows and grows.
[38:15] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. So you see like this is like a snowball or avalanche effect. It starts small and then before you know it, you feel sick. You feel fat. You feel like you don’t have you’re bloated and you don’t have energy for anything and you’re supposed to be this super mom.
[38:42] Ashley James: Yes. And it’s really hard because we, I can only speak from my experience as a woman. We will put the oxygen mask on everyone else first especially when we’re a mom. Especially if we have family member who are in need of help. Right now, so many baby boomers or even our grandparents who are still around need us. We’re taking care of a lot of people and then we have to pay the bills. We sometimes put our needs last and sometimes, we self-medicate.
[39:17] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Sometimes or a lot of the times. I have such respect for women do in the world. You have to hold so much space for so many things. We are in an era where it’s just in many ways so difficult because it would be much simpler if you’re a mom to stay home and take care of the kids but I have a lot of working moms that have a child. They’re giving 3 months maternity leave which in my opinion is not long enough. Then they have to say goodbye to their baby child, leave them with a nanny or in best-case scenario it’s the mom or family member. Go back to work and now they’re supposed to work full time, maybe pumping breastmilk. I feel like it’s a huge load on women because you have to be like superhuman. That is a huge stressor. Huge stressor. Then of course, you know we’ve talked about snowball effect of stress and how that affects the body. It affects the gut microbiome. It affects the way the gut functions from acid productions to digestive enzyme production to the permeability of the gut and also for the makeup of your gut microbiome. All of that is sensitive to the stress signals within the body.
[40:46] Ashley James: You know, so many listeners are really intrigued by, “What’s the perfect diet?” Like, “What should I eat to be healthy?” I keep saying there’s no one perfect diet for everyone. Right? Because if an athlete, 40-year-old athlete came in versus 70-year-old woman with osteoporosis versus a 20-year-old with the recent diagnosis of type two diabetes. Those three people might need a different nutrient plan, right? They have different needs. Their body one person might be in a histamine response and great amount of inflammation whereas the other person might have zinc deficiency and calcium deficiency. There’s not one perfect approach like a one diet that fits all but diet isn’t the first thing we should be asking. What you’re sharing is really gut health is the first thing, we should be asking. “Do I have gut health?” Because if I don’t have gut health, it doesn’t matter what I’m eating. My body’s not digesting and absorbing it.
[42:00] Dr. Vincent Pedre: It could be problematic because you could think that you’re being super healthy. Eating lots of salads raw vegetables and if your gut is disordered, you don’t have the right microbiome to break down those very difficult to break down plant cell wall fibers, then you’re not going to feel well. Perhaps in that moment in time, timestamped, you would do better with cooked vegetables, healing the gut microbiome. Healing the production of digestive enzymes then over time then Segway the diet back towards a mix of cooked and raw or maybe just lightly steamed. Even what is the right diet is not just what is the right diet for you as an individual but what is the right diet for you now. You know you almost have to put that out also in the timeline because the right diet changes. I do see general trends. We know that the more plants you eat, in my opinion and that’s what the science had showed its what’s better for you but then there are really interesting studies have been done. Like the Hadza people of Tanzania, the hunter-gatherers. Which is I’m so excited because I’m going to be travelling there to meet them next year.
[43:39] Ashley James: Wow. Cool.
[43:42] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Then there’s about little over a thousand of them but at least a quarter still lived in their more traditional way which is eating tubers, berries, the baobab fruit. They eat the seed, also the meat the pulp of the fruit. It’s very high in fiber. They also hunt. They eat large two medium sized animals. Sometimes bigger. They also eat honey but when I say that, you have to take your western mind out of it. It’s not honey that comes in a jar. They’re actually going and getting the honeycomb and they’re eating the entire thing including larvae inside. Their gut microbiome when they’ve done test, they’ve done PCR testing had a much greater variety than in one study they’ve looked at Italian group of control. You can imagine an Italian diet, pasta and meat dishes and lots of fresh tomatoes and vegetables from the garden.
Their gut microbiome was not as diverse as the Hadza people. So you ask, “Okay. What is the missing element?” The Hadza are certainly not eating the diet that as varied as the Italian group. So why do they have such a diverse microbiome and probably part of it is their contact with nature and living out in the wild and contact with dirt. They’re not living in this hygiene, over clean environment. They’re not washing their hands when they come home from hunting. Maybe they have some blood in their hands before they hug or kiss their wives. That’s something else to look at is the missing element of just being connected with nature. Being out there. That’s part of what builds diversity in our microbiome and creates a healthy gut.
[45:54] Ashley James: I’d be really interested to know that what they incorporate in their – when you go there remember this question, what do they incorporate as an anti-parasitic because when we looked at traditional ancient cultures, they have like in India, Mimosa Pudica seed for example is used commonly to deworm eating pumpkin seeds deworms. That was normal. Like a hundred years ago, it was normal for farmers twice a year to deworm their animals and the farmers would take the same herb themselves. That was normal. So I’m wondering what do they do to deworm themselves. Like, is it honey? What is it that’s just cleaning them out because parasites they happen.
[46:47] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Exactly. Also, the question is are they living in a different state of balance with parasites than people in the west do? Because of a slightly different composition of their gut microbiome. I would keep that in mind. It’s so crazy to me that I will be out on the middle of the bush in Tanzania and get to live and spend a couple of days with them in this various small group. It’s going to be really amazing because I’ve been looking at their microbiome and the studies on that and seeing it’s just a big curiosity. Like, why do they have such a diverse microbiome and why do they have no diabetes, they do not have cancer.
[47:43] Ashley James: What do they die off? When it comes to illness, what do they die off?
[47:47] Dr. Vincent Pedre: When it comes to illness, they die of a lot of times from accidents. Funny enough. There might be some infant mortality but otherwise if they don’t die in the young age or because of an accident, they live into their 60’s, 70’s. Not as long of a life span that would think but still pretty amazing for hunter gatherer.
[48:17] Ashley James: I’d be really curious thought when they die in their 60s or 70’s. What illnesses do they die from? Is it all heart disease? Is it all infection like that? It would be interesting to see the correlation between their lifestyle and then what they die from.
[48:35] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That would be another question for my research when I go.
[48:37] Ashley James: Nice. All right. I want to have you back on the show after that trip because I want to hear all about it. I think that sounds fascinating. That is a true, average and all diet. That’s like if all of us were picked up some reality TV show and threw us on an island, that’s how we have to eat to survive.
[48:57] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Oh my gosh, can you imagine eating like –
[49:00] Ashley James: Larvae and honey?
[49:03] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Can you imagine eating honeycomb? That would be – [laughter].
[49:07] Ashley James: I think my 4-year-old would fight me for it. I think he would be so excited. He has this fascination with insects and I don’t think he would mind eating them at all. There has to be something primal in there.
[49:19] Dr. Vincent Pedre: There’s a lot of nutrition in the honeycomb that helps support the gut microbiome. It’s also interesting how- I’ve looked at their microbiome every time as they go from a rainy season to a more dry season. During those two different seasons, their diet skews in one direction and in the other. I see that there are parts of the microbiome that appear during the season because they’re being fed, let’s say the honey and when their diet skews in another direction that part disappears, seemingly disappears but then it comes back the next season.
[49:56] Ashley James: Yes. Isn’t there like a whole season where all they eat are tubers for a few months and that their microbiome adapts for that?
[50:05] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That is a really big part of, at least my understanding a big part of their diet. Also interestingly, when they wean kids off of breastmilk what they do is create a porridge of the baobab. The baobab is kind of really hard fruit. It’s got a lot of fiber inside. They grind that out and they make a porridge out of it. The kids are getting anywhere between 50 and a hundred grams of fiber a day. Their bellies will be bit extended because that amount of fiber is going to produce a good amount of gas which I think about because in the west, we don’t want to be distended. We don’t want to look fat. For them, it’s like yes, whatever it’s part of. In comparison, the average American gets about 10 maybe maximum 15 grams of fiber in a day just to put it in perspective and the recommended amount of fiber we should be eating is anywhere between 25 and 35 grams of fiber and yet the Hads are eating up to 50 grams of fiber per day.
[51:26] Ashley James: Can we eat too much fiber? Is there any point where it’s like, “Oh, 100 grams of fiber’s dangerous.” I mean, as long as you’re consuming enough water and you feel fine and you’re not hurting, it’s okay to have 100 grams of fiber?
[51:39] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. I have a feeling if you have a 100 grams you would be really bloated and uncomfortable. Yes, the danger is you get really stocked inside, constipated because you’re not drinking enough water with the fiber or maybe you’re not getting enough healthy fats to lubricate things and help move things along. I always think it’s important to be careful to make sure you’re balancing all.
[52:10] Ashley James: Right. I made this chia seed pudding. It’s amazing. It tastes exactly like pumpkin pie and my husband swears he can taste the crust in it too. It kind of something like Willy Wonka, would make where you can it tastes like an entire pumpkin pie with the crust and there’s a ton of chia seeds in it, like a ton. Your gut is getting so lubricated but it tastes just like pumpkin pie and it’s great for breakfast because it’s so filling. Such good fiber in it.
[52:46] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Oh my god, that sounds so good.
[52:46] Ashley James: I will give you the recipe. I’m launching a membership called Learn True Health home kitchen. Where we’re doing cooking videos and teaching people how to cook whole food plant based. For those who don’t want to give up meat entirely, they can just learn to have more vegetables and have more fiber and more whole food in their life but people who want to try to learn whole food plant based and experience it, they can jump in and do everything. That’s one of the recipes that I’m adding to the membership. We’re going to launch it soon. I got so excited because my son really wanted some pumpkin pie and I really wanted to make something healthy for him for breakfast. I was just like, “I’ve got a lot of chia seeds and a lot of pumpkin, let me see what I can do with that.” Yes but I was just thinking, how much fiber is in it. It’s crazy. It’s a crazy amount of fiber but you feel so good afterwards. Obviously, it’s moist and it’s not dehydrating but you definitely want to drink a lot of water if you’re adding chia or flax to your food. I’ve learned that the hard way once. I thought I was safe to just adding some flax meal to my salads and I didn’t drink enough water and I found out pretty quickly that it’s not a smart move.
[54:04] Dr. Vincent Pedre: No and it just can kind of condense things in the gut and not let things move. You definitely want a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibers that’s also important. You think of insoluble fibers a roughage. Kind of like cleans out the inside of the gut. Gets things moving, provides a lot of the fibers that are fermented and the soluble fiber which are things like oats which then allow for control of how nutrients come into the bloodstream so they help slow down the sugars like the sugars that are getting broken down, carbohydrates from entering too quickly and causing an insulin spike. It’s important to make sure you’re getting a balance of both types of fibers. Apples are another great example. Organic apples.
[54:58] Ashley James: Organic apples are my favorite. The outside the peel of an apple is insoluble fiber and then the inside is soluble fiber.
[55:07] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. Basically you’re getting both types of fibers in an apple. I don’t know if your listeners know this but if you’re eating non organic apples they are sprayed with up to several different types of pesticides that have up to 40 something different neuro toxins. If you ever follow the environmental working group, the Clean15 and the Dirty Dozen, you know that apples are very high up on the list of the dirty dozen. Anything that has a thin skin like an apple that is sprayed with pesticide is going to be infused with that pesticide. You cannot wash it off. So you should never and if you can choose that, if you’re going to choose where do you spend your dollars on groceries, buy organic apples. Don’t buy non-organic. You can get them at them farm – you’re in Seattle so you’re like in an apple state and I’m in New York which also is a great apple state. I think it’s either pay a little bit more now or pay later for the consequences thereof.
[56:20] Ashley James: I’ve told the story before on the show but I’ll share with you. I was really sick in my 20’s. I was just eating the standard American diet, I had type two diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, chronic monthly infections for which is was taking antibiotics monthly. I had polycystic ovarian syndrome and told by an endocrinologist that I was infertile and I’d never have kids. I’ve spent my 20’s on medications and sick and getting sicker and sicker I ended up actually on medication for heart burn. I mean the whole thing and I remember watching – I was also completely stressed out to the max. I was in an abusive relationship. My mom had died, I was very depressed,
[57:02] Dr. Vincent Pedre: You sound like our talking patient. Like what we’re talking about.
[57:08] Ashley James: Exactly. I was going through the ringer. I found joy in the day-to-day things but I was just going downhill and I was gaining weight even though I was exercising like crazy and I eat like all the other guys in the dojo. I was doing martial arts 6 days a week. I would eat like all of them because they look healthy so I go to subway with them and get like whole wheat. Think that’s like super healthy, “I’m getting whole wheat subway sandwiches thinking, Oh I’m eating healthy.” Of course, then I immediately have heartburn after and then I popped my heart burn pills. This is my 20’s when this happened. I happen to turn on the TV and then there was this show, I guess a Naturopath and they were just some kind of talk show and she was saying, “If you have heartburn, it’s too little stomach acid not too much. Drink some apple cider vinegar and drink some aloe.” I threw away that box of over-the-counter meds, started drinking aloe, and started listening to my body a bit more. And my heartburn went away I’m like, “Whoa.” Then a few years later, it’s 2008 we watched the documentary on Netflix right when I started doing streaming of videos and it was some health documentary like Food Inc. or something. They said, “Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and eat organic.” At this point, I was so sick. I’d wake up every morning with a pounding headache. Feeling as though I drank a bottle of vodka and got hit by a mad truck the night before. I was out of control sick. I felt like a prisoner of my own body. I cried daily because of how much pain and suffering I was in because I felt like such a prisoner of a sick body. We did it. We went to whole foods and we shopped the perimeter of the store and we bought organic and within 30 days my chronic infections went away. I thought the only thing I changed besides, I probably cut out some sugar like accidentally because I wasn’t buying processed food. I’m still eating meat, I’m still eating dairy even. I was eating just fruits, vegetables, meat and I wasn’t even gluten free at the time. I was still eating grains but I was just eating less processed food and cutting out all the pesticides. It just hit me, I’m like, “Pesticides were the reason that I was getting these infections. It was the stressor on my body and in my gut.” When I went organic, that was the biggest shift that happened within 30 days. That’s what had me keep seeing how to heal my body. With food and lifestyle changes and supplements, I healed my type 2 diabetes. My chronic adrenal fatigue went away. I got rid of my polycystic ovarian syndrome. I’m now completely free of that. My numbers are amazing. I get regular bloodwork with my Naturopath. We naturally conceived our child who is almost five and he’s so healthy.
[1:00:10] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That is so great.
[01:00:11] Ashley James: So that’s what shifting to organic and then shifting lifestyle looking at stress, taking supplements to fill in those nutrient gaps. That’s why I do what I do know because I know my listeners are suffering and I want them to find the answers that they need so that they don’t have to suffer anymore because it’s possible. That healing is possible. That’s why I love the message that you give and what you teach because you’re showing people that they can be free of the suffering of the heartburn or the bloating, of the constipation or the small intestinal overgrowth. That they could be free of it.
[01:00:55] Dr. Vincent Pedre: I’ve always been, as much as I can be the type of practitioner that walks his talk because I also was subject to multiple rounds of antibiotics when I was a child. As a teenager and I didn’t realize at that time because I was getting 2 or 3 rounds of antibiotics. Every year the doctors, the pediatricians were telling my parents my immune system is weak. I couldn’t gain weight, I was super thin. I ate probably more than 3,000 calories a day but I was eating cereal with milk in the morning and maybe a sandwich at school or pastry. Then there was breaded dinner and maybe there was ice cream after dinner. A lot of times I used to go and get a milkshake on the way home from school. It’s crazy how much sugar and wheat and dairy that I was eating. I can look back and now say that the multiple rounds of antibiotics was probably the instigator of the dysbiosis of the balance of the good and bad bacteria in my gut. Then lead to leaky gut and allowed me to become sensitive to wheat, gluten and dairy. It was over the years figuring that out because by my 20’s I’ve had IBS and I just thought this is just the way my life is going to be. I’m always going to have sensitive stomach, I’m not going to be able to tolerate a lot of things. I had to be careful when I ate out. I never knew what is causing what.
It wasn’t until I discovered and started making changes in the diet but I was always even though when I was in my medical education and not being taught nutrition I always had a gut intuition, pardon the pun, that nutrition was a big part of the picture. I was always trying to hack, it’s perhaps a little bit selfish on my part but I think it guided a lot of what I’ve strived to learn. Then what I do with my patients was I – just back in my early 20’s wanted to hack, “Why do I get sick so often and how can I not get so sick so often?” I was in medical school, experimenting with my diet. Reduced the amount of dairy in my diet and then immediately noticed that I wasn’t getting sick as often. Without anybody teaching me back then, there was not teaching around dairy and it’s inflammatory effects. I just kind of concluded by being an observer in my own body that dairy was problematic for me and I had to be careful about consuming dairy as much as I loved in my 20’s, ice cream.
[01:03:53] Ashley James: Who doesn’t? [Laughter]
[01:03:54] Vincent Pedre: I know. It’s still a weakness. Thankfully now, there’s vegan ice creams and coconut –
[01:04:01] Ashley James: You can get a vitamix and make your own ice cream.
[01:04:04] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Exactly. I’ve made avocado ice cream.
[01:04:08] Ashley James: Oh my gosh, that sounds crazy.
[01:04:09] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. Over the years, there was one point when I was in my residency training in New York. I was going out with my friends and late nights and eating out and I wasn’t feeling that great and I was dragging. I just told all of them, I’m going to disappear for the next month and I’m going to do some self-care and I went to the supermarket. I bought organic, I started coking for myself more often. No more take out and within, I kid you not, in two weeks I felt so different. Just eating food that was more vital. In 4 weeks, I felt great. At that time, I had also been doing yoga and had started meditating. I was meditating 5 days per week and when I went back, and met up with my friends they looked at me and like, “What did you do? You look totally different.” All I did was reduce my stress by meditating and eating right. That was it. I was listening to your story and thinking, you know, I have a very similar story. But even then, I had not completely hacked the gut issues and it wasn’t until I ran into a functional medicine and started learning functional medicine and understand the role of the gut and the gut microbiome and really the complexity of all that. That I was able to heal my gut. Because of that, I had such a big fascination with gut health and patients who came in with gut problems because we’re really not taught in western medicine all the potential root causes of gut problems. We are taught – let me clarify it.
We’re taught from the perspective of western medicine but we’re not really taught the root root causes which could be yeast overgrowth. Which could be dysbiosis, which could be low stomach acid, which could be not enough leaky gut with damage to the brush boarder in the small intestine then affecting your pancreas ability to produce enzyme because it’s not getting the right signals. I got a much more complex understanding of gut health and all the interconnections and how it’s connected to allergies, asthmas, migraine, auto immune disease and that became a fascination for me and working with gut patients was just something that I enjoyed. Of course, when you enjoy something, you want to do more of that. Just accidentally one gut patient would get better, they would refer a friend. The friend would get better. A friend would refer another friend. It wasn’t like I was out there saying, “I want to be a gut expert.” It was more like, “I’m just pursuing my passion. My passion is helping people heal at the root.” It turned out that had to do with even my own plight growing up with gut issues. That was where my book Happy Gut was born from. Was from my own struggles figuring that out and working with patients and seeing them improve and seeing what a dramatic influence you can make in people’s lives by healing their gut health.
[01:07:36] Ashley James: I love it. How long have you been practicing functional medicine?
[01:07:43] Dr. Vincent Pedre: My first conference was in 2006 and soon after that, I started learning and I dove into their advanced practice modules starting in 2008. The institute have not had a whole certification program built out and they came out with that over that time period and then I started doing the advance practice modules. Over 10 years that I’m integrating that into my practice. Obviously, you learn it in theory but then you have to practice it, you gain a lot of experience by dealing with a bunch of different patients and scenarios and then as you become more of a recognized gut expert which I am now. You then get the more difficult cases.
[01:08:38] Ashley James: Nice. Very cool. So my listeners who have really or the difficult cases, I have listeners out there who feel that they’re complex, can they see you? Do you take consultations over Skype? Or could they come see you in person?
[01:08:56] Dr. Vincent Pedre: They could come see me in person. I take very few patients now because as you can imagine, I’ve got a pretty full practice but my plan is to, next year to bring in a functional trained nurse practitioner who can train with me and start to see patients. Because I recognize it’s just funny how you go from not being known to known and then everybody wants to come in and see you and you realize, I just can’t serve everyone. That’s part of the reason why I wrote my book because I realized there are so many people out there who need help that I can’t possibly ever see in my lifetime. Because there’s just – I’m very much into balance and I’m very much into also my own self-care and bringing my best foot forward which means that I don’t work a 12-hour day. I don’t see patient every 15 minutes because I believe in quality over quantity and I think that’s what the people who come see me know that I’m about is I’ll spent significant amount of time with you. To me for any doctor’s practicing functional medicine, it’s a collaborative effort. It’s me and the patient both facing the path into the future together. It not the old paradigm of I’m a fatherly doctor, you come in and I give you this medication and you just take that and you don’t have to do anything else and you’ll be better.
No. I give my patients homework but realizing that it’s impossible for me to see all the people that I would ever want to help in my life and I wanted to have a bigger impact that why I do things like interview with you and give this information for people to hear this and then think maybe they could do things a little bit differently. Or maybe there’s something that they could change that could help them heal or at least start a conversation with their health practitioner with, “What is really going on here? Are we really addressing the root cause?” That’s why I wrote my book because I realized partly honestly I don’t know if you have felt this but even from the early 2000’s, I started getting this feeling inside that I had a book in me that had to be written. I didn’t know what that book was.
If you look at my files in my iPhone, I’ve got so many book ideas that have been written down but it wasn’t until I landed on this idea that was also connected to my own story. That it felt authentic enough for me to put the work in because doing a book is like running a 50-mile mega marathon. It is a toil. It is a labor of love. It is not for the weak hearted. Yes, I mean you could produce a really short book but for me, it was like my manifesto was like me putting all my work everything that I had learned together to teach people how to have healthy gut. Why did I get sidetracked on that?
[01:12:41] Ashley James: Oh, well your book, it’s a marathon and you have more books in you. By the way, you’ll definitely going to write more books but that Happy Gut is you’ve poured your passion into it, your over 10 years’ experience of helping people heal their gut but also your own story, healer heal thyself. You healed yourself and you walk the walk.
[01:13:10] Dr. Vincent Pedre: You’re always a better healer I think when you have to face your own challenges that have made you human. The hardest thing about being a doctor is being put on the pedestal and people think that you’re like this super human. We were talking about super women and supermoms, in some many ways walking the walk of the doctor sometimes being that super human but we are also human. I have been so grateful in my life for all the challenges that I’ve had that have really condensed me into just being a grounded human and understanding things not just from theory, from learning in the book but from having lived it myself. One thing, I don’t know if you ever watched Grey’s Anatomy?
[01:14:04] Ashley James: I do.
[01:14:06] Dr. Vincent Pedre: There was an episode where the chief of surgery I think was speaking with the woman doctor that was also in surgery. It was about being a parent and he said, this was I remember seeing this episode when my son was probably two or three years old and he said, “Being a parent makes you a better doctor.” I totally connected with that because having a child was that first moment of, “Wow. It’s not about me anymore. It’s not just about me anymore. It’s about this new life that has arrived.” It really puts you in a place of service. I looked at for me, my work with patients is almost like a in some ways, I almost feel like it’s almost like the service that a priest does. It alike vocation. Sometimes I think of my patients as my sheep. It really does require a great deal of sacrifice on our part but with that sacrifice and kind of tied back into the important or realizing that at some point, the balance can shift too far and you have to come back and look into the mirror and realize, you also need to take care of myself. Put your oxygen ask on first, then put on everyone else’s oxygen mask. Because what you don’t realize is when you’re not doing that, yes, you might be taking care of everyone, you’re not doing it as well as you could if you are in your best light.
[01:16:09] Ashley James: Right. We absolutely don’t take care of those we love best if we’re neglecting ourselves just like, I mean it’s funny, people will take care of their car more than they take care of themselves. They’ll make sure it gets an oil change. All the foods are topped of. It’s clean.
[01:16:25] Dr. Vincent Pedre: I have patients who will cook an entire dinner for their kids and then just order in for themselves. Or they’ll cook for their dog and then their dogs eats better than they do. Okay, if you’re taking trouble to do that, let’s refocus here. Let’s see how can get care back to self and that was part of the reason that I named the program, when I was trying to come up with an acronym for the program. That would be like the system that I used for healing the gut, I called it Gut C.A.R.E. Care being an acronym for cleanse, activate, restore and enhance. It’s a whole system for healing the gut that I wrote in my book but in the bigger picture it’s also care. Caring for self. I think it’s so important because the commonality I find in patients that come in with gut health issues is a lot of times, they’re really putting themselves last.
[01:17:33] Ashley James: Yes. I love it that you started at the beginning of the interview talking about how the first thing you do to help someone get off a medication and heal the gut to the point where they no longer need that crutch is mindset. I think a lot of people will go, “Pfft, mindset. Whatever, okay.” Really that is everything. We can actually create a placebo effect or a nocebo effect based our belief system. Based on our mindset.
[01:18:00] Dr. Vincent Pedre: This is a crazy fact. Patients who feel more connected and liked their doctor have better results than patients that don’t.
[01:18:12] Ashley James: That’s the nocebo or the placebo effect. If you like your doctor then you think it’s going to work even if you got a sugar pill –
[01:18:22] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Just think of the blue zones around the world and the factors that affect the reason that people lived past a hundred and part of it is a sense of community. Being together and that’s a very important part of I think for humans healing is to feel like they’re in community connected. Whether it’s with family, with friends, for some people it’s church. For other people it’s their CrossFit box. Whatever it is. It’s a sense of having community where you feel you belong. I think that’s a very important human need and something we don’t often talk about in health is that importance of community. If you think about it, each individual is a community. We are the this symbiotic organisms that some people argue couldn’t not exist without the metabolic byproducts produced by the gut microbiome because some scientists say there are not enough genes in the body to encode for everything the body needs in order to function optimally. That you also need the microbiome and the genetic pool of the microbiome which is hundred times greater than our own genetic pool to create metabolic byproducts that regulate and help support the body.
That to me is super fascinating because if you only thought that your gut microbiome is one of the most complex eco systems on the planet, think of it that way. How would you treat that? Now that you know that within you, you have this treasure. This really great treasure that is evolved over centuries with us passed on from human to human through our environment. Through our interaction with nature that helps support health or it can be a detriment to health. Depending on circumstances like antibiotics. Over use of antibiotics. How do you treat your body? What would you eat if you know you have this really important internal garden. I think that there is a lot of mindlessness that happens with people. A lot of unintentional eating, they’re not really thinking about how they feel and how things affect them. I think that’s really important.
[01:21:19] Ashley James: I was just grabbing a few studies that are printed out on my paper on my desk that’s why I was making some noise because what you said goes exactly with, I love the serendipity of this. I’m holding in my hand some studies on the gut biome and that they’re seeing that the signaling in parasitic nematodes that there’s a psychochemical communication between host and parasite and the indigenous molecular transduction pathways governing the warm development and survival. That was one. The other one was parasites nutrition and immune response in the biology of metabolic tissues but in these, they talk about not only are they talking about negative pathogens, like negative stuff in your gut but basically the gut biome which could have parasites. Not all parasites are worms, right? But parasites are good bacteria, bad bacteria. Anything living in the gut is sending their seeing that they’re sending signals. There’s these studies now that show that they can see that their psycho chemicals being created by whatever it is in your gut. Let’s say you want fast food every day, that’s the gut biome you created. You created the Homer Simpson of gut biomes. That is signaling to you. The gut biome is actually telling you to feed it more fast food because that’s what feeds it.
[01:22:57] Dr. Vincent Pedre: And the most blatant example of that that I see in practice is when someone has yeast overgrowth or candida. They have an irrational craving for sugar or for refined carbohydrates. It could be sugar or it could just comfort foods like potatoes, pasta, rice. Yes, that’s another really blatant example of where it’s like who’s in control. Is your brain in control or is your microbiome in the gut in control?
[01:23:35] Ashley James: Yes. Who’s craving? Who’s having the cravings? Right. A dear friend of mine is going through a parasite cleanse right now because she was having very strange symptoms around the full moon for about 4 months now and I kept saying, “Dude this is parasites. You’ve got to look at this.” She was having heart palpitations, mood swings and just feeing totally off but it was only during the full moon. Which of course someone might think that’s hormones. But she was like, it was pretty consistent around the full moon so she started a parasite cleanse and she can tell a difference and that is just very interesting that the parasites and even gut dysbiosis can cause crazy symptoms in the body but it an also tell us what to eat to feed it. That’s what I noticed when I started eating whole foods plant based. I didn’t like love vegetable but I admit I hate them and now, when I see kale I actually have a pavlovian’s response. I actually stare salivating. I started getting a little excited. Just like someone might get exited if they see Krispy Kreme donuts which I will have like a revulsion towards now. Not even interested but man if you made me a kale salad, I’m like I’m getting a little happy actually salad my mouth is getting watery just thinking about it. Just because the gut biome I created over the last few years is like super happy with eating that way. I get almost a high off of eating these leafy greens.
[01:25:14] Dr. Vincent Pedre: For me, because I travel a lot and sometimes to foreign countries, when you’re missing the amount of greens that I’m used to eating on a regular basis, you started to crave it. It’s almost like you’re – that’s yet another level of that intuitive awareness where you sense a craving but then you actually honor it. You realize, oh it’s because my body needs this.
[01:25:46] Ashley James: Now we’ve got to catch ourselves now because if we’re having that craving for processed sugar of –
[01:25:51] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That’s a whole different – I was going to say actually I’m glad that you come back to that because I was going to say that, what I’ve seen with patients and it was amazing because you can take a person who feels like they cannot live without sugar and if you can put them on a sugar cleanse. You take all processed sugars out of the diet and keep them on that. The first day or two they’re going to feel horrible. They’re going to feel like they’re not going to make it through the day. By day 3, they’re a little bit better. By day 4, they’re really not needing sugar and by the end of 7 days, they’re off of sugar.
[01:26:34] Ashley James: It’s like getting on heroine.
[01:26:36] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. We know sugar has the same effect on the brain as cocaine. It affects the dopamine pathway which is the reward pathway in the brain that makes you feel good when you do something. So, of course. Everyone wants sugar. The interesting thing. I know you don’t eat processed sugar, eat a lot of sugar. I’m the same. I find that I’m also dogmatic but I also allow for fussy boarders because I think that in my own eating because I think if we just are strict all the time, that can get a little too much and that becomes a stressor. You know, I might be travelling and someone offers a dessert but they didn’t tell you if there’s too much sugar. I actually feel horrible. I can’t feel it immediately. My heart rates goes up as soon as I eat it. I have the reverse effect like I’ll have sugar and I’ll realize, you know what, this is not worth it for me. You heard me unwrapping this earlier was my dark chocolate form Peru.
[01:27:45] Ashley James: Right. I was like, “Is that a candy wrapper in the background? What was going on?” And you’re like, “Well, let me tell you about my 85% Peruvian dark chocolate.”
[01:27:57] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes and that is my go to because it’s low in sugar. It’s not going to bump my blood sugar. It’s not going to give me sugar cravings and it satisfies a little element of sweetness. There’s we were talking about dark chocolate with stevia. You know, sometimes I need that little bit of sweet but I also know if I have something too sweet it’s going to actually feel pretty horrible for me because once you get your body accustomed to being cleaner it actually tells you when you don’t, when you step outside of that.
[01:28:33] Ashley James: Yes. Just yesterday we are filming for the Learn True Health home kitchen and we made brownies. Whole food brownies. And it’s sweetened with yams, with sweet potatoes and there’s raw organic cacao powder but when you bake them your whole house smells like brownies. Now they’re not as sweet as store bought brownies because obviously, they’re whole foods but they tastes really good and my son loves them. He thinks they’re the best thing in the world. If you can get a 4-year-old to eat something that’s healthy and love it, oh man, you’re hitting a home run. He likes that. That’s his new go to food. Between that and the chia seed pumpkin pie pudding.
[01:29:25] Dr. Vincent Pedre: What is the base for the brownie?
[01:25:26] Ashley James: It is yams. I call them sweet potatoes but they’re orange yams. They’re organic. The big bag of them from Costco is really cheap right now and we make them in the instant pot and then we blend them with cacao and vanilla. You can put in some maple syrup if you want. Or stevia if you want. If you need more sweet because sometimes you need more sweet if you’re first of all giving it to people who are neuro adapted to eating no sugar. Just help them transition or if sometimes yams, sometimes they’re really sweet or sometimes they aren’t so you just got to play around basically taste the batter. We just blended it and then we –
[01:30:15] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Japanese yams.
[01:30:16] Ashley James: Yes. Oh my gosh, seriously. Yes, you can play around with the different kinds of sweet potatoes and yam because some of them are sweeter than the others. Then you bake it for an hour and that creates that brownie crust as wonderful. Very moist and it really does feel like there’s flour. There’s no flour in it.
[01:30:37] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That sounds like a dream. Last year I tried and failed. This was my first try to make black bean brownies for the holidays. Needless to say, my family doesn’t share the same zest for healthy renditions of things as I do and I thought they were actually pretty good but they did not.
[01:31:02] Ashley James: I love black bean brownies but one thing I’d say is, do one can of black beans with between 1 and 2 cups of yams. That really balances it out.
[01:31:16] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. To keep it a little more sustenance.
[01:31:19] Ashley James: Yes and you can add some vanilla powder in there. There’s a few things you can add in there like some cinnamon. You can play around it and then lots of the cacao powder which has caffeine in it so don’t eat it late at night. I learned that the hard way. I’m like, “Why am I so awake right now?”
[01:31:43] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes, I have to be careful because usually my desire for dark chocolate is right after dinner. By the way the benefits of dark chocolate partly and due to the microbiome. They’re processing of the I believe it’s an endemite in the dark chocolate. You need the microbiome to convert the chemical in there to a version that is antioxidant for the body. It’s kind of a little fascinating fact.
[01:32:16] Ashley James: That is so fascinating. It’s amazing the microbiome is needed to convert so much of what our body needs. It really is that garden in our body. We have the most complex garden inside us. It’s somewhere between I heard between 4 and 6 pounds of bacteria living inside us. I have so many more questions for you. We have to have you back on the show. Isn’t it wonderful? It’s been so much fun.
[01:32:43] Dr. Vincent Pedre: I know. How did this fly? How did this go by?
[01:32:44] Ashley James: I know. It’s just amazing.
[01:32:45] Dr. Vincent Pedre: You’ve got to have me back after I get back from Africa.
[01:32:48] Ashley James: Please. Yes.
[01:32:50] Dr. Vincent Pedre: The Hadzas, that’s going to be so wild.
[01:32:52] Ashley James: I’m so excited. When are you going next year?
[01:32:55] Dr. Vincent Pedre: February.
[01:32:56] Ashley James: Awesome. Okay. I need to get you on the calendar when you get back and after you’ve recovered from the wonderful trip. While you’re still on the glow of how amazing it was I have to get you back on the show. I think I’d be wonderful. I’m definitely going to make sure that links to everything that Dr. Vincent Pedre does is in the show notes of today’s podcast at Learntruehealth.com. Dr. Vincent’s book, Happy Gut making sure the link is there as well. We should all get it for Christmas and give it to each other. What a great Christmas gift. Let’s all give each other the gift of a healthy gut.
[01:33:28] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That sounds like a great idea. [Laughter]
[01:33:45] Dr. Vincent Pedre: That was my practice website.
[01:33:46] Ashley James: Got it. You know I see you hiring five nurse practitioners and maybe like 12 certified health coaches. You should just hire a bunch at once and train this whole team, it’ll save you time. Instead of training one person at a time you should just hire a whole team.
[01:34:03] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. Well guess what, you’re ahead of me but I have already shot the video for and I’m going to be rolling out probably quarter two of 2020, a health coach certification in Happy Gut.
[01:34:22] Ashley James: Awesome. Well you know what, I’ve got a ton of health coaches as listeners especially a lot of IIN graduates. I’m an IIN graduate as well. I know a lot of my listeners who’d be really interested because we have a lot of health coaches and a lot of holistic health professionals that are listeners that would love to take your course. When you come back and tell us about your trip, you’ll also going to tell us about your Happy Gut health coaching training.
[01:34:50] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. Can I briefly end with a funny story?
[01:34:54] Ashley James: Yes, please do.
[01:34:56] Dr. Vincent Pedre: Yes. I was just with my family in Washington DC for Thanksgiving. It’s my sister with my niece and nephews and obviously, the kids, a lot of their high school friends get back there. My niece is 25 years old. So she was with a friend of hers and she was raving about this book and how it changed her life and how she had IBS and now she’s followed the diet plan and it took away all her gut issues. They’re out at a bar and she pulls our my book, and it’s like, it has notes and bent pages and she’s got marking everywhere and she says, “I never travel without this book.” She didn’t know that my niece was related to me and my niece tells her, “You know, that’s my uncle?” Because my sister she has a different last name and so she says, “You know, my uncle’s in town if you want to meet him.” and she’s like, “Oh no, I don’t think I could handle it I think I would faint or something.” I thought, it’s so funny, I told her, “Yes, if she wants to meet me. Yes, I’m in town.” I thought, that why I did this. To help people that I probably maybe would never have the opportunity to meet but to be able to change their lives in that way. That’s why I did what I did. That’s why I continue to do things like these, be on podcasts and interviews. I just want to help as many people as possible.
[01:36:45] Ashley James: I love it. That’s my mission too. We’re right in alignment. We have a really active Facebook group, the listeners. The Learn True Health Facebook group. I know that my listeners after they get your book and they start reading it and loving it and writing notes in it and everything. They’ll start talking about it in the Facebook group and we’ll start having some wonderful discussion about it. I can’t wait to have you back on the show. Thank you so much. This has been wonderful. I love this topic. Can’t wait to continue exploring happy gut and gut health and how to balance ourselves naturally in our next interviews. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip. Have a very safe and very enlightening trip. I can’t wait to connect with you when you come back.
[01:37:31] Dr. Vincent Pedre: I look forward to it. Thank you.
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