I welcome my frequent podcast guest from the Primal Endurance show, Debbie Potts of Bellevue, WA. Debbie is a coach, podcast host, and personal trainer who operates an evolved personal training facility in her town.
Debbie is a former elite-level amateur ironman triathlete who destroyed her health from an overly ambitious approach to extreme endurance training. Since abruptly leaving the race course back in 2013, Debbie has been on a passionate quest to regain her health, lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and share her carefully considered approach with others. She is a devoted student of evolved athletic training methods, advanced recovery techniques, and the worlds of functional nutrition and holistic healing. Debbie delivers an extremely important message, having been there and done that with burning the candle at both ends in life. The WHOLEistic method helps you expand your horizons from the ill-fated Type-A approach to life to increase attention to sleep, rest, recovery, downtime, stress management, healthy eating, and a sensible approach to exercise.
In this fast-moving show, we give you a general exposure to some of the particulars in the WHOLEistic method, setting Debbie up for future appearances to help you go deeper into potentially life-changing practices and habit modifications. You’ll learn about the healthy balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system function. Today we are extremely out of balance with sympathetic stimulation such that we are either wired on adrenaline (racing through a hectic day running on fumes and not sleeping well) or experiencing a burnout situation where you are exhausted, craving sugar, storing fat, and experiencing poor immune function.
In this show, we focus on three elements of the WHOLEistic method:
Sleep: power down your cell phone, disable those dings and alerts and get some sleep! Napping and restorative activities activate the parasympathetic system. Important to switch on and off during hectic days!
Focus: Avoid multitasking, as this increases stress and reduces productivity. Correct your tendencies to respond constantly to emails, navigate between a zillion windows on your screen, or even talk on the phone while making a recipe or rushing out of the house for a busy day.
Eat: We talk plenty about which foods and healthy and which aren’t, but creating calm, relaxing, low-stress mealtimes are critical as well. It’s critical to be in a relaxed, parasympathetic state to allow your stomach acids to work efficiently. If you get gas, bloating, cramping or other issues during meals, make a better effort to enjoy relaxing and leisurely meals.
Debbie has a history that includes Ironman competition and then having to learn a hard lesson about not paying attention to the stress on her body. [03:33]
Everyone in the society is dealing similar problems of trying to improve performance and risking burnout. [11:05]
The world of functional nutrition presents some differences from some information that is out there. [13:45]
From champion world athlete, Debbie crashed!! What happened? [17:27]
There are a lot of times thinking the athletic experience is a stress relief from the other forms of stress in life. [20:25]
It’s tough to embrace the idea that doing less work can and will make you faster. [23:11]
Can you still be in the Ironman community if you are not racing yourself? [25:18]
It is truly the most dangerous state to be in because we don’t have any awareness that we’re burning the candle at both ends until the flame burns out. [28:38]
How do we reset and reboot? [30:17]
What are the symptoms you might see with clients who are stressed? [32:43]
If you are engaging deep diaphragmatic breath, it is physically impossible for you to be stressed. [35:30]
It’s important to learn to manage your competitive personality. [38:54]
Today we have constant distractions, multitasking and addiction to business that we have lost the ability to slow down, be present, focus and enjoy the moment. [42:09]
Sleep is so important. You must limit your computer and phone use. [44:27]
The use of phones can make or break your life balance. [48:02]
Are you relaxed so you can support your digestion system? [52:57]
If your HRV score is high, it is not necessarily an indication of health. [01:01:03]
Multitasking causes stress. Better make to do list and put things out of sight. [1:04:13]
Rather than take medication, look for the root cause of your health problem. [1:11:05]
- Dr. Tommy Wood podcast
- Debbie Potts
- The WHOLEistic Method
- Life Is Not A Race…It Is A Journey
- Mike Mutzel Podcast
- Ben Greenfield Podcast
- Paul Chek
- Joel Jamieson podcast
- Brad’s Speed Golf Record video
- Rhonda Collier
- Kelly Starrett Podcast
- “The harder you train, the more energy you need to devote to recovery.” (J. Jamison)
- “If you have a stressful day, you have to cut your intended run mileage from six miles to three miles for example, in order to stay healthy.”
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:00:08 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high stress modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: 00:03:44 Hi, it’s Brad to introduce a great recording I had with Debbie pots, the pride of Bellevue, Washington. She’s doing some amazing things up there with her Fitness Forward Personal Training studio and also her wonderful program called the Holistic Method, which identifies common sources of hidden stress for the whole athlete. She comes from the endurance athletes scene. She was a very accomplished Ironman distance triathlete performing amazing feats out there on the race course, qualifying for the holy grail of triathlon, the Hawaii iron man world championships on Kona numerous times, traveling all over racing like a champ, building this business in the personal training studio and generally caught up in that type A highly motivated goal oriented, super busy, super driven life. And then one day everything just fell apart. And it is a profound story of what can happen when you ignore the importance of balance, when you pursue your goals, especially in the endurance scene with too much competitive intensity and not enough reflection and intuition.
Brad: 00:05:03 And Debbie’s has done a fabulous job picking up the pieces and doing something good for humanity by telling her story and creating a complete program. Of course it’s targeted to athletes, but every one of us is out here in this crazy busy, high tech, overstimulated, modern life, trying to pursue fitness goals, oftentimes doing them the wrong way so that they become more stressful instead of health promoting and life balancing. And so her message is wonderful. We could talk for hours on the various facets of the holistic method. So in this show we got into it pretty nicely with just a few choice, big picture items, especially the importance of sleep and making sure that our beloved digital devices don’t mess with our optimal sleeping habits. We also talked about not the nitty gritty of diet which we talk about so much on so many podcasts and hopefully listeners have a basic notion of what’s healthy and what’s not by now.
Brad: 00:06:05 But we had talked about the importance of creating relaxing mealtime habits so that our bodies can be in the best proper condition to digest and assimilate the wonderful nutrition that we consume with our meals. And if we are eating on the go, grabbing something and carrying on to the next uh, matter in our hectic daily existence, we are going to disturb optimal digestive habits and not get the most from are carefully chosen foods. Finally we talked about focus and the importance of focusing on a single peak performance task at a time. The dangers and destruction caused by the overstimulation, our constant need to navigate different windows on our computer or multitask such as texting and driving or thinking and ruminating, all kinds of crazy thoughts, fears and anxieties while we’re trying to do something like walk the dog around the block or even enjoy some entertainment, a show, what have you.
Brad: 00:07:07 So really we just tip toed in the direction of the holistic method I aspire to have Debbie on as a regular guest because I think you can learn so much from her journey and from her reflections, hopefully saving you from falling into those traps that are so common today of just frying our fight or flight response. Getting into that burnout situation that’s so difficult to recover from and especially not noticing it while it’s happening. And I weighed in there. We both reflected Debbie and I on how when we were high performing athletes, a lot of times you’re riding this wave of the constant overstimulation of stress hormones so you feel fantastic. You’re energized, you’re performing well in races. You’re waking up the next day and you’re not even sore and you can go sit on a bike seat and pedal for many more hours, but what’s happening is the stress response is being activated again and again, so you feel alert and energized and have your blood pumping and your heart beating.
Brad: 00:08:04 However, what you are doing is you’re, as Dr. Tommy Wood says, that’s Debbie’s neighbor up there in the Seattle north Seattle area. He says, you are liquidating your assets to perform in the moment, and that’s when you head down the path to burnout and it’s not so easy to bounce back with a couple of days or a couple of weeks or one season off. You have to pursue this holistic approach, especially as a fitness enthusiast. Oh, I think you’re going to enjoy the recording and looking forward to many more from Debbie Potts. Check her out at debbiepots.net and her books on Amazon Life is Not a Race and the holistic method.
Brad: 00:08:45 Here we go. Debbie Potts, how are you? My good friend and Seattle, Washington area. And I did make it up there for a podcast vacation binge this summer. And unfortunately, oh my gosh, we had a brief meeting at Mike Mutzel’s house and then you had to go off to catch a flight and uh, we just couldn’t click. So since we’re, since we have such a nice longterm connection relationship, we get to do this one on Skype instead of a get on airplanes. But I really like to sit down in person and figure out, you know, some of the great insights that you have. And that’s what we’re going to do with our nice video connection here too.
Debbie: 00:09:34 Yes, it’s, it’s always good in person, but you’re kind of like Brock, he does kind of get along with you. You’re just phonies and going, it’s like lifetime podcasts, friends. We meet online and it’s fun to meet in person too, so it makes it easier to podcasts.
Brad: 00:09:48 So what’s cool about you is you’ve been there and done that. You were deep deep into the highly competitive endurance triathlon scene going out there to the, the, the Mecca for all participants across the world is to qualify for the wonderful Hawaii Ironman world championships, which everyone familiar with, uh, with triathlon knows this is the ultimate championship race. But even people who don’t know about triathlon might know about the Hawaii Ironman. And so you did that many times. It was defining your life for so many years and then you kind of fell apart. And these things happen that we warn these type A enthusiastic athletes about and people don’t heed the warning and then assorted matters of crashing and burning, uh, occur with little fanfare. And so you kind of took this experience and shaped an entire, a lifestyle program to help others. And I think we talked about just before we got on the air, uh, You’re in the endurance athlete makes you train people, you write books and do podcasts for them. But this applies to any hard driving, high stress person who’s trying to burn the candle at both ends. And it’s called the holistic method.
Debbie: 00:11:05 Yeah. I find every day I, I feel the need that this isn’t my new passion and my purpose and to make impact as society is to talk about the whole athlete, to really train and increase, improve your performance in traffic on it really is more than just our training schedule. And I kind of learned the hard way every day. I was reminded that, you know, this is my purpose now to share my information and my knowledge and my experience with other people. And it’s not just triathletes is everyone in our society is dealing with these similar problems. And I have clients that come in my fitness studio that most of them, most all of them are not triathletes or in endurance sports. They just work out to slow the aging process down or improve the aging process. So I really feel this need to share this, my story and what happened to me and then here’s how you can avoid it. So that’s kind of a new mission,
Brad: 00:12:02 Right? So at this fitness forward studio, you are in fact dealing with normal everyday people. Uh, I guess there’s probably a Microsoft presence there because you’re near the corporate headquarters and you know, uh, high tech hard charging workers and people that of course have that desire for fitness too. But in many cases they’re bringing a lot of stuff into the gym that might inform their decisions of how they’re going to work out or whether they’re just going to go sit in your infrared sauna, which is so cool that you offer more than just sweating at the gym. You offer a place to, to get healthy in different ways.
Debbie: 00:12:39 Well, I learned that after I opened my studio almost 10 years and been a trainer for splash turning 47 somehow this year. But it’s been since I was at, you know, 27 years now since I was in college. I’ve been involved in fitness and running fitness studios and it is that there’s so much more to really getting people healthy besides training that because it was a personal trainer, you’re seeing a client wanting to three times a week and sometimes once a month and how do you really make an impact and help them improve their overall health. And it is kind of has led me to furthering my education as well as my own personal interest in nutrition and health since I was in college, but over time done different programs and coaching programs with Ben Greenfield and Paul Chek and additional therapy practitioners and I’m started Ben’s new Keon University, so it’s near primal program. Just so many ways to keep increasing my education, helped myself, but also help share this knowledge with athletes of all levels.
Brad: 00:13:45 So what about this world of functional medicine or functional nutrition? Can you describe what’s going on there? Because we’re usually only familiar with someone who’s a certified nutritionist and they studied the food pyramid and they learn the boiler plate from the USDA and the the, the general conventional wisdom sources which are telling you to eat many meals of greens and measure out your cottage cheese so you don’t get as much fat. And that’s the, you know, the long dated. Uh, yes I am ripping on it cause it’s ridiculous but it still goes very strongly. Right. You study in college and get a degree in nutrition and that’s where you’re looking at, you’re not looking beyond that and now we have all these programs that have launched on the Internet where you can get exposed to numerous different kinds of diets. We have the thing, like you mentioned the primal health coach coach program where we take people that are really interested in primal living and they can make a career of it. It’s so they learn how to become a coach and learn all the aspects of the philosophy and a lot of great opportunities out there. Yeah, I know you’re all over. You’re constantly improving and educating yourself. But tell me about that world where we drift away from the mainstream approach to diet in particular?
Debbie: 00:14:57 Well, I’ve learned from my own experience with my adrenal exhaustion, burnout. HPA disregulation is what it’s technically called, and it’s just such a domino effect on your body systems. So it’s just evolved to working on nutrition because I saw these different natural paths and functional medicine doctors and regular doctors. When I first started seeking help to figure out what the heck is going on with me, I’ve gained 30 pounds. I cannot train. I’m just a slug and I’m heavy and I just can’t sleep and fatigue every day. So my story is I saw so many different people and I’m just getting the same story, you know, the same results. Back lab testing, here’s some supplements and there’s just so much more to it. And if you see a ietitian, it’s here eat this way? You know, nothing really was what I find when I love about nutritional therapy association as a nutritional therapy practitioner.
Debbie: 00:15:52 Now we look at you as an individual and everyone’s different and we ever own any intelligence to find homeostasis. Sometimes you need to stop and reboot your system with the right nutrients, but it’s more, you know, testing it on your body, find out what you need. So nutrition, for me it’s, you know, the functional medicine does your question, but looking at, okay, what works for me isn’t going to be the same as the other person. I think that’s kind of a big thing for me right now because everyone’s into Keto athlete and low carb, high fat, which makes sense. But what we’re going to kind of dive in today is there’s a lot more to it. So what I eat is I really important many nutritional therapy. The main goal is to balance your blood sugar and not have the spikes of insulin. And then it’s also to work on digestion is like are we eating all these real good whole foods, nutrient dense foods, but are you digesting them properly and absorbing those nutrients, which a lot of us are not. And we’ll talk why. And then mineral balance, essential fatty acids, hydration are the other elements. So when you nutrition world and functional medicine, I think a lot of people are doing all the lab works with lab tests that you do not get from your doctor. That very much more detailed. I’ve been using athletes blood tests, I’ve used wellness FX, but there’s one step further you need to go. And that’s what I feel like nutritional therapy helps. So I don’t know if that answers your question around about way. I think you know is looking at nutrition for you as a bio individual.
Brad: 00:17:27 Well take me back to those uh, shocking quick comments you made because here you are a champion world level athlete who’s training for hours per day and going out and riding the bike a hundred miles and doing 20 mile runs and competing in Hawaii, in the, in the hot weather and putting up another great finish and then going back the next year and it, and all of a sudden you’re saying you gained 30 pounds, you feel like a lazy fat slug. You’re not even sleeping, which also is strange because if you’re tired and you’ve exercised too much, you would think you’d be sleeping like a log. So yeah. What was that all about and what did the doctors tell you when you finally went to seek help?
Debbie: 00:18:09 Well that’s what you know, my Life is Not a Race book is about is that I kept trying to get help. So these people aren’t telling me what I feel like I need to know. I keep, I kept searching for to get the right answer. And I think that’s what evolved to the holistic method and finding, figuring it out for myself. But it is, you know, that the training and the racing and the constant stress that we talk about all the time, that chronic stress and burnout is, it’s kind of what led up to this. And you know, it’s funny cause I did so many Ironmans but it, and I missed some years of Ironman Hawaii x, Micah, I don’t feel like it this year. And I did it last year. I don’t want to do it again. And then you know, suddenly 2012 of us in their last Ironman and I haven’t been able to race since 2013 it was when this all started and five years later I still can’t get myself together and my body doesn’t want to go run comfortably at my MAF heart rate under nine minute paced, you know, it’s just been a five years ongoing. So racing was not really the full part of my stress that caused this health breakdown from the inside out. It, it’s really that chronic stress from life and that’s why I feel like this topic can relate to everybody because it’s financial stress. It says, I own my own business, I have say $7,000 a month, I have to pay rent and I want to get paid too and I have to pay my trainers and you know, this constant stress trying to build a business, marketing, I mean all of that, whatever it might be for you. That’s the problem I think we, we have in our society is that we’re trying to do so much. We are trying to be successful. We’re trying to fit more into the day. And then as triathletes, we’re fitting, you know, swim, bike, run workouts plus or strength and our mobility and our yoga. And we’re trying to do that plus have a family and have a life and trying to be social and get your sleep. So it’s really hard to put that all in at the end of a day.
Brad: 00:20:09 Well, uh, I had that podcast with your neighbor, Joel Jamison, where he talks about his recovery based training and offering up these one liners, which has stuck with me when he says, the harder you train, the more energy you need to devote to recovery.
Debbie: 00:20:25 Yes.
Brad: 00:20:25 And usually, especially the athletic type who also has other responsibilities in life, like coaching their kids’ soccer team or carpooling them around or going and working in a demanding career. There are a lot of times thinking of their athletic experience as a stress relief from the other forms of stress in life, instead of being literal definition is that there’s all kinds of ways that you can stress your body and they all count the same, uh, on the scales of justice when you’re weighing, whether you’re needing a balanced life or not. So if you have a busy stressful day and you have an argument with your boss and then you get outside and, and lace up your running shoes and you say, oh, great, fresh air open space, getting a good sweat going and moving my body after sitting there and arguing all day in the office, this is a real way to balance my life. And it’s, it’s fundamentally untrue. And so now we have to have a completely different paradigm and reflection about, gee, you had a busy, busy, stressful day at work. Guess what? You have to cut your intended run mileage from six miles to three miles and that’s a tough one to swallow for people that have that competitive intensity and want to unleash it every single day to say, hey, you got to regulate that in order to be healthy.
Debbie: 00:21:39 Well, that’s what I think. You know, we’re talking about all of them. Red flags that people don’t see along the way, and that’s part of it is as writing the article of how you can improve your performance and triathlons, but it’s knowing when to reschedule a workout that, okay, I had a hard day, is busy, stressful day at work. I had all these meetings but not my workout. If I’m going to have this scheduled workout, that might require a little more intensity if you don’t have it that day. I think a lot of people don’t know when does, you know, reassess going, it’s not going to happen today. Let’s reschedule that workout another day. Today’s just going to be an easy jog or maybe in a walk. You know yesterday I just did that instead of going for one to three mile run after my bike ride to the snap, I just walked around the block. And you have to know when to listen to your body and get that recovery is more important. So it’s Joel is saying, you know, yes I say train hard, cover harder and adding more mobility training, adding more of the infrared treatment I just think is huge benefit for people. You’re cryotherapy, NormaTec boots, you know, all the different things that we can do as athletes, especially as we get older and I see the age, the age excuse, but I think we do need to take more time to take care of ourselves and add more recovery techniques and to our weekly routine to increase that performance as we get older, not use the ages excuse, but we need more recovery.
Brad: 00:23:11 It’s tough to embrace the idea that doing less work can and will make you faster
Debbie: 00:23:19 Less is more.
Brad: 00:23:19 and also more so then we have to get to that point where if the person is struggling to embrace this message, then we have to get to the point where you step in front of the mirror and say, hey dude, hey honey, what are you all about here? Are you just about burning energy for the sake of burning energy, uh, as an outlet for your obsessive compulsive personality tendencies? Or do you want to do something quality with your, including your competitive goals so that you can get the best out of your body? And I think a lot of people out there, not just in the athletic world where it’s extremely common, but in the workplace, let’s say they like to go work more hours than would be optimal productivity because they’re just in there grinding away and somehow they get a measure of satisfaction or they get to avoid a miserable home life or whatever’s going on that will get people into this workaholic type of mode.
Brad: 00:24:15 And a lot of times today in society, we celebrate this type of approach to life where the person says. Yeah. It was how was up til 12 finishing this proposal. And uh, you know, good morning everyone. Uh, uh, it’s, it’s 7:00 AM and we’re all a raring to go. So thanks for, thanks for stepping up. You guys are real warriors and our team is kicking butt because we work so hard! Whew, and that’s why the reflections in life is not a journey and the message and the holistic method is really a wake up call. Cause we, you and I learn this stuff the hard way as athletes where you go, go, go, go, go. And then all of a sudden, one day, just as you described, you’re describing burnout. When you say, my body’s not ready to go five years later. Uh, but also, uh, just as importantly, I think your brain is the one that’s saying, hey Debbie, don’t even think about it. Yeah. Cause, um, that, that’s, that’s our regulator. That’s our guide. And when you don’t have that motivation to go do what you used to do, really important message that you have to listen to them. Okay.
Debbie: 00:25:18 Yeah. I mean you have to listen to, it’s not that there’s nothing in there that’s not happening so you have to respect that. And then there’s a part that you have to be able to deal with it. All right. You know everyone’s doing half ironman Santa Rosa last weekend. Everyone I know is it was in whistler doing iron man or I’m a half Ironman. And then there’s all these different races and events. You feel left out, you can’t do, you’re not in that triathlon community. So psychologically, how do you deal with, okay, I can’t race and my body won’t let me do it, or my brain and how do I just enjoy that? So as interviewing triathletes and still trying to immerse myself in the culture is still feel that I love the industry. You know, I’m going Ironman Hawaii this year to connect with people and go to events and network. But it’s is we know that it’s, you love to do it, but how can you still be involved without actually racing yourself?
Brad: 00:26:14 That’s a good point. Um, when your identity and your social life is wrapped up in it, there’s more layers than just realizing, oh, I’m physically overstressed now so I’m going to pull the plug on my race schedule. Yeah. And it makes it a lot tougher, huh?
Debbie: 00:26:31 Yeah. I think it’s, you know, it’s their identity for so many years now. I’m kind of past that. But the first everyone would had asked me at least every couple days, when’s your next race? Now it’s, when’s your next trip? Because I’m with Neil when he goes for work. Like, all right, I guess I’m not an athlete anymore. People don’t, you know, I did Ironman triathlete. It’s my hobby, but now it’s more, okay, where are you going next? And so that is a positive. You know, we went to Italy and Greece last year. I’m going to Paris and, uh, London this September for a week and now you can do that stuff cause I’m not dropping how much thousand dollars per race now with, you know, your travel and your race. Entry fees are ridiculous. So there’s some positive sides of not racing yourself.
Brad: 00:27:15 Oh my gosh, that’s great. I could see your big smile on the Skype where it’s like Italy, Greece instead of by grease on my chain and another $400 set of pedals and $800 a wet suits and all that crazy stuff. So a nice healthy adjustment and recalibration. And I talk a lot on my show about, you know, finding ways to maintain that competitive intensity and going through life with compelling goals and that passion that maybe, uh, that I referenced that I had when I was a professional and completely consumed. But now years and years later, now I’m trying to go break the speed golf record and it’s still a super fun for me and challenging. It doesn’t take 22 to 30 hours a week of training like I did when I was a professional triathlete cause that’s no longer a unnecessary or healthy component of life. But there’s ways to redirect that competitive intensity into something fun and become Debbie Potts, competitive kayak racer on the stolen course. And your time is two minutes instead of, you know, 13 hours and oh my gosh, you can still, you can still enjoy that buzz. That was what got you into compelling goals like triathlon in the first place. Uh Huh.
Debbie: 00:28:27 And your speed golf …There’s guys speed golf world record breaking video. You must watch it. It’s pretty intense. I was sending it to my golfer clients going, hey, check this out
Brad: 00:28:38 Dude. What do you do in planning for four hours out there? You can get this done in a matter of minutes. Um, one other part of your story that I want to emphasize is that, you know, you got that diagnosis of adrenal burnout, adrenal dysfunction, which we hear so often. And the idea that when you’re immersed in this and you’re, you’re deep into burning the candle at both ends, your body will respond for a given period of time and you will wake up in the morning and feel great and energized and your legs feel light and snappy and you go out and do another bike ride or another crazy workout or another long day in the office followed by a quick Uber down to the airport and a red eye flight to go bang the meetings out on the other coast. And you can go, go, go in this mode for a defined period of time because your body is responding to this chronic, chronically overstressful, nice style pattern by pumping out these fight or flight hormones that allow you to cope and actually feel good. So a lot times we hear people saying like listen to your body if you’re tired, don’t work out. And I do that really well. But guess what? I remember a lot of times throughout my career, I’d get up and I’d feel jacked up. I can let’s go, man, bring it on. And in fact, that guy that I rode with yesterday that dropped me on the last time, I’m going to torch him today, you know, so I’m amped up. I’m in the sympathetic dominant state where it’s fight or flight all the time. I feel fantastic. I can’t wait to get out the door and start hammering again. And that is truly the most dangerous state to be in because we don’t have any awareness that we’re burning the candle at both ends until the flame burns out.
Debbie: 00:30:17 Yeah. Until it’s too late and then you’re really messed up. That’s what I love in the industry now is I’m hearing more and more about the sympathetic nervous system versus parasympathetic nervous system and Rhonda Collier from sweet beat. I learned that from her, I think 2012 when I was, you know, workshop and she was working with Ben Greenfield and we’re doing some HRV testing and I got interested in that. And now finally, five, six years later, it’s coming out more and more. Even last night I had this yoga for Athletes Demo class at my studio and she was talking about the parasympathetic nervous system. This is pretty cool that we’ve evolved that that becoming more common to talk about the differences of the nervous system. Unique. Got those sympathetic nervous system fight or flight. And then we have the parasympathetic nervous system, which is rest, digest, recovery, repair and the challenges that we just get stuck over in sympathetics were supposed to go back and forth, recover, sprint, recover from from that lion, you know, and rest and be ready for the next one.
Debbie: 00:31:24 But we don’t have those rest breaks. So then we get that every day and going nonstops you get stuck in fight or flight all day that you’re not resetting a re booting your system. So then we become sympathetic dominant is more of a common word. It keeps learning about that were stuck over there. So how do we reset and reboot? Like you’re saying, recovery is really important. I think that’s part of it as well as will hopefully get into digestion and all the other processes that this parasympathetic nervous system does. And this is part of the reason why I bought our sunlight and infrared treatment. And you know, you need during your cryotherapy in your freezer that you know, all these different techniques are designed to help us shift back to parasynthetic. Like we do a parasympathetic oil that you can put on behind your ear and the vagal nerve and take a deep breath in, exhale out, and you can just feel that shift back parasympathetics. So there’s different techniques you can do, but I think that is what we need to focus on more doing is okay, how can I reset and reboot myself?
Brad: 00:32:29 Well, the oil sounds cool and I know there’s these touted techniques and strategies to, to kind of unplug the sympathetic and activate the parasympathetic. Ben Greenfield talks about doing the foam rolling and in a matter of minutes, Kelly Starrett sends it to where if you get down on the floor and foam roll out, even to that point where it might be a little painful if you’re tight and you want to work through that pain. So you get kind of this, um, hormonal response to the pain. The endorphins are enter the bloodstream and you can instantly or quickly, uh, get into parasympathetic state if you come home and you’re a little bit amped and wired. And so I guess you could maybe describe some more of those symptoms of when you’re in sympathetic dominance such as having that intense emotional, uh, baseline where you’re, you’re easily triggered or you come home and you blurt out a story of that adverse consequence that happened during rush hour traffic and then your, your leg shaking while you’re telling the story and you’re grabbing some food and shoving it down your throat as you walk from the kitchen to the TV room and you’re not really deep, deep breathing and doing all those things that are indicative of the parasympathetic function.
Brad: 00:33:43 Can you talk about some of those symptoms that you might see with clients when they come in the door and they’re there charged up about uh, their, their commute over there in the left turn that almost cooked their car and all that fun stuff?
Debbie: 00:33:55 Well. That’s why I think it’s so common with everyday people. Doesn’t matter if you’re doing competitive triathlon training schedule and racing, that is everybody that comes in, you know they’re stuck in traffic in Seattle or traffic’s really bad every day and people you can just feel, you can just feel it. It just is like you have this aura coming out of yoga because I’m going to strangle somebody and you just get really worked up and just aggravated and have this death. You just need to stop and even lie down as you’re saying in a foam roll or before you start working out or at the end of your workout. So like going for a bike ride, get off the bike and do some simple stretches that you can do to reset. Or when people come in the studio and I could see that, they’re like, okay, they’re, they’re really worked up and something I can tell totally. I know all my clients, I know when they’re off a little bit. So it’s like, okay, let’s change my plan and let’s work on starting them a little differently and just do some stuff on the mat and work on some foam rollers, some little pilates math kind of yoga stuff, and then go into something harder. Or if I’m not going to do a high intensity interval training, cardio bursts in between their strength sessions if they’re feeling kind of down that day or they’re just feeling kind of blah and stressed and anxious. So I have to change the workout based on that client’s mood that day. And so you can tell when people are adrenalease are sympathetic dominant kind of phase.
Brad: 00:35:30 Yeah. Not to just dramatic example helps with immediate understanding, but there’s also some more subtle signs of sympathetic dominant and overly stressful lifestyle. And that could be you sitting, not you, but anyone sitting at home and it’s 8:30 and they’re really supposed to knock off. But they’re, they’re fidgeting and trying to finish 10 more emails and then they’re getting thoughts in their mind about whether their proposal’s good enough for the presentation tomorrow. All those kinds of things where you look and seem normal and calm and you smile at the person who walks through the room. But you’re stressed inside because of your thoughts and your rumination. So there’s many ways that we can get to uh, this, this unbalanced state. And I love the, the concept that, uh, is dispensed by a yoga experts, breathing experts where if you are engaging deep diaphragmatic breath, it is physically impossible for you to be stressed.
Brad: 00:36:26 In other words, if you are, if you are cycling through those deep breaths, you are in your blood, your blood chemistry is representative of a parasympathetic state. And so when you, let’s say, get in a fender bender and rush out of your car to, you know, start arguing at the person who had just slammed into you, what were you doing? What’s going on? You’re breathing in a shallow, panting manner and you’re activating those fight or flight hormones because of the intense situation that you find yourself in. And if someone comes over and puts their arm around you and says, calm down, take some deep breaths, you go, but, but, but, but this person, it wasn’t even watching. And you are physically incapable of slowing down and taking deep breaths because you are so stressed. And I have this in my mind a lot, when you feel like you’re spinning out of control and someone says, calm down and you say, you calm the fuck down, your car got smashed, right? You cannot, you cannot do it. It’s too difficult. But in those, in between moments of our busy days where we’d get a little triggered by something that happens in the workplace, indeed we can go sit in a chair, a stare at the, uh, the picture of the ocean on the wall and take five to 10 deep diaphragmatic breaths and have a measurable impact on regulating and getting back in that sympathetic to parasympathetic balance. And of course the sympathetic isn’t all bad. That’s what gets us out of bed. We jump into, uh, into, into the bike seat and begin the class and we’re stimulating sympathetics so that we can have the energy to go. So we just want to get back to that, that concept of balance and having hey, seven minutes on the park bench during your work day can have a fabulous effect on keeping the, you know, the runaway train back on the tracks.
Debbie: 00:38:11 Yeah, and I think that’s a good word is triggers is part of when I’m coaching people now and what I’ve done for myself as I’m aware of my triggers. Like when we were meeting at Mike’s House and I got all worked up. When I feel like you’re rushing to appointment to appointment and you’re going to be stuck, there’s traffic and have a plane to catch. I hate being late and I’m always like to be on time or outside. And then I knew I saw all his traffic and like, oh I gotta go, I can’t stay. I got to go is, and then I had plenty of time when I got there. But I know myself now that I can’t, I have to leave gaps in between stuff cause I get worked up if I’m going to be late. So I like start to melt down. You get worked up, but it’s just knowing your own triggers.
Brad: 00:38:54 Yeah. Right. And, and, and not only knowing him, but accepting that, right. Cause if we said, yeah, Debbie, relax, what’s the worst thing that can happen? And you answer well, missing my flight to Minneapolis. Uh, so, uh, you go the next day you pay 400 bucks more. What’s the big deal? Right? So we can’t live like, uh, the, the surfer bomb that doesn’t get stressed about anything. We have to pick and choose our priorities and manage and navigate and not. So I want to keep the listener focus that we’re not talking about just um, you know, letting go of your highly focused competitive personality because that’s probably not going to work. But managing it appropriately it was, is the big one. And then the other thing you said about your clients coming in the gym, you’re either going to see someone who’s wired like crazy and you want to get him into breathing, stretching mat work and kind of settle them. Or you’re going to see someone who arrives in that burnout state where they’ve already burnt the candle at both ends and the flame has been extinguished and they show up and they dragged their tired body into the gym. So we have this burnout situation and we have this hyperstimulation situation that occurs before burnout. And we’re trying to kind of avoid both of those and find this happy medium where you’re balancing your health with your fitness aspirations.
Debbie: 00:40:16 And that’s where, you know, I always have to coach people, not as a personal trainer. That’s why he caught the whole athlete or the holistic method is that you’re as a good coach, you’re aware of your client, what they’re doing for their, when they come in, if they’re stressed out as you’re saying, but it’s also okay, how did you sleep last night? What are some other things? So like the holistic method, I talk about their nutrition and their exercise is what they’re coming to me for it, but I’m talking about their nutrition and their sleep and their stress movement. What are you doing the rest of the day? Are you, how’s your digestion? You look a little bloated today. You know, when did you eat last night or you didn’t sleep well? All right, well what happened yesterday? And kind of have to add that coaching into it because to train an athlete is just, you know what?
Debbie: 00:40:59 I’m trying to coach other athletes. Eventually. It’s like our other coaches to coach. They’re asleep, but you have to look at these other elements. All right. Am I training you 30 minutes today and then you’re getting going to go sit in a chair and be in meetings all day. Okay. What movement can you add during the day? How many steps are you taking a day and getting up and doing some stretching, mobility drills, and then how much water are you drinking a day? And then the big one I find is really important is that happiness, the gratitude. And you know, there’s that all the other parts that when I’m, someone’s walking in the door, yeah, they’re worked up and I figured out workout program for them that day, which is, you know, typically just prefer new 30 minutes with people and then they can warm up, warm down in foam roller and stuff. But it’s just so much of, it’s what they’re doing the rest of the day that is triggering those stresses. Or if you know, they’re like said they went to bed at midnight and they’re coming to see me at 6:30 in the morning and they didn’t get enough sleep. It’s like, all right, I’d rather you cancel and sleeping, you know, take care of you. And that’s why I would say take care of the whole you from the inside out.
Brad: 00:42:04 Yeah. You’re getting these wonderful quotes in when you’re describing your program, where you, you say quote today we have constant distractions, multitasking and addiction to buisiness that we have lost the ability to slow down, be present, focus and enjoy the moment. This is what I’ve learned in life is not a race and also the holistic method manual. So, um, now we’re getting into maybe some of the best practical tips to kind of regulate these dangers of burnout or being in that hyperstimulation state. And maybe I should ask about sleep because you tell your story of being, having poor sleep even though you were exhausted and burnt out from excessive exercise. Does that, is that what you see commonly where people are complaining that they’re not getting a lot of sleep even though they’re tired?
Debbie: 00:42:54 Yeah, they’re, they’re tired. I always ask people in nutritional therapy as well because if you’re hyper or hypo adrenals, you have to also see came to you and blood sugar disregulation. No. Do you wake up Milanai you’re wide awake. Do you wake up, cause you, you know what bring you just eating all these carbs before bed that caused you on that blood sugar roller coaster or are you waking up because your Melatonin cortisol rhythm’s out of whack and you’re wide awake and it’s 2:00 AM so you have to just kind of ask a few questions and interview him. Okay, what’s, what’s exactly going on with your sleep? Then we can kind of dig deeper and finding the root cause of some imbalances or just what’s going on in the rest of the life. But sleep is huge and I’m serious about my sleep after my experience and I know sleep is where you recover, you’re repairing detoxification happens. You know the internal housekeeping service comes along when you’re asleep, but so if you’re not sleeping,
Brad: 00:43:53 the Zoomba vacuum comes through your body when you’re sleeping and love that. The internal house being yes, hello? Oh, it’s the automatic vacuum machine that’s going to clean my whole house. Well, your sleeping imagine. Yeah.
Debbie: 00:44:07 Every night of sleep their service isn’t coming over. So you’re gonna miss the housekeeping service, right.
Brad: 00:44:12 Zoomba. It gets stuck in the corner and get, get stuck in your arm pit instead of, you know, cleaning your entire corpse while you’re lying there. Beautifully. So what are the, what are the big mistakes? Is it that that uh, might after dark, the screen use?
Debbie: 00:44:27 Yeah, the Blue Light. I just did an interview. It’s coming out soon and our podcasts on that Swannies using the blue blocking glasses, it really helps if you’re on your computer or reading on your Ipad, that’s blue light makes a difference I think. And for me it’s working. If I’m working on emails and computer or writing, I’m trying to write more and study and do research that my brain’s wired and I can’t settle down and try to relax and go into sleep. Sleeps. I have to shut off my computer maybe at six o’clock if I’m trying to, I have to go to bed at 7:30 because I have to get up at four 30 in the morning and so my, to get my full sleep, I was thinking this last thing, I have to miss out on a lot of social life and find activities at night because at this time of my life, I have to, my work starts early, but you know I have to make sure computer work. I stopped about six o’clock if I’m working until seven that screws up my sleep. If I can’t, I don’t really watch that much TV during the week, but I’ll read a book and I’m trying to catch up. I have so many books I’ve got ran that I buy all the times I’m reading at least a three pages is my goal. It takes really long time to read a book that way. But I tried to read a chapter at night and and do some just relaxing and I have the fan on. I have yoga music, I play sometimes on the timer on Sonos and which is, you know, the whole thing of emitting in that Wifi EMF is a big thing we need to work on in our house. Make sure you turn off Wifi by, that’s a big area of learned a lot about, there’s a lot of things.
Brad: 00:46:07 You’re kidding me. So we get an unplugged or our wifi every night or keep it away from our bedroom. Ideally.
Debbie: 00:46:12 Yeah. Do you do that?
Brad: 00:46:14 Uh, no. It’s, it’s far away from the sleeping area and the, you know, you go to these shows and listen to the expert presentations and it kind of freaks me out a little bit and I, I want to have a little bit of a critical eye going in so that I’m not living life, eh, you know, in constant fear and panic. But this stuff is quite interesting and I do feel like those of us who are least lucky, most vulnerable and susceptible can develop some serious issues, uh, relating to just existing in modern life and consuming food out of plastic containers and getting exposed to environmental estrogens. And some people going along just fine and uh, have their six pack and their crossfit games participation while they’re microwaving their salmon in the plastic bowl. But boy, if you’re not feeling right and you, you aspire for, uh, more energy, more peak performance, which I of course always am. That’s why I do podcasts and write books is you know, constantly on that quest, man, it starts starting to become an eye opener for some of these things like your wireless signal or the thing that really freaks me out, Debbie, is when you go and you’re logging in somewhere and you see 18 other wireless connections pop up on your laptop as options and it’s like, oh my gosh, we’re getting bombarded with signaling noise now that, keep in mind, uh, 22 years ago there were zero wireless connections, right? And so that’s a huge change that we have no research and no validation that this stuff is harmless because we don’t have enough.
Debbie: 00:47:48 The research isn’t there yet except for it. Yes,
Brad: 00:47:51 People are saying this stuff is dangerous and horrible and we’re either going to take their word for it or try to make some amends or ignore them out of hand. I don’t know what to do.
Debbie: 00:48:02 Well, I tell people at least put your phone, it’s in your room on airplane mode and I get mad at people and if by text and respond to texts in the morning when they’re still sleeping in the answer I’m like, why is your cell phone on? And so I have my little pet peeves of full cell phone use is whole different topic. I just at least you know if you’re having your phone in your room, which way too many people have their phone plugged in by their bed because it’s an alarm clock and it drives me nuts because you’re still being connected and you’re still stimulated by all these beeps and alarms and everything driving me nuts. Some people’s phones and all their, oh someone said your name on Facebook or you Instagram message or you this many links, just turn it all off. Those are distractions that are causing that constant stimulation that are related to our constant stress. So I think easy step to look at your sleep and your stress is looking at our cell phone usage and disabling all this stuff that you can use and sell your data or take off all those notifications. You really don’t need any of them except for maybe your schedule and phone calls and texts. But you know, it’s all this sounds drives me nuts.
Brad: 00:49:11 I mean the notifications and the sounds are causing a dopamine trigger in the brain. We get an immediate castle response or rush when we are exposed to novel stimulation in our environment, which is what every text message Ding is. You know, it’s going to be novel stimulation. You don’t know who sent it or what they’re going to say or you’re waiting for a text and you’re going to get that rush. And so that’s a great starting point. Um, I’m thinking that, what if I want to be, uh, uh, reachable and an emergency, you know, I got kids running around in life. They are 20 and 18. They might be driving their cars. And who knows? My friend’s kid ordered a pizza from Uber delivery at 2:30 in the morning. This is down in LA after a night of playing a night video games with his buddies. And he didn’t of course tell his parents like, hey, expect a pizza guy to come up to the door. And so they thought they had a prowler and they were freaked out, but they never did connect with their son until the morning to realize like, Oh yeah, that was me. I ordered a pizza. So is this huge event that happened where they’re like, you know they can’t even sleep because they think someone’s munching around their house at 2:30 in the morning.
Brad: 00:50:24 So, but if you need your phone on case someone calls in the middle of the night, like my sister’s on call a physician, she’s not going to turn her phone to airplane mode, but can you put it, let’s say further away and turn off every possible potential noise making thing except for an emergency phone call. And the answer is yes. I know on my iPhone you have this do not disturb window. I set it for 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM except for uh, uh, these people in my favorites can call me during those, uh, overnight hours because that’s the most likely person to call for an emergency. I know we’re spending goofy time on this during a health and wellness podcasts, but this is the stuff that can make or break if you think about the last 365 days and how many stupid text message dings and what they’ve done with your life. It’s worth considering. And I think we have to get out of this um, self absorbed point of view that we’re so freaking important that we can’t miss a text message. Uh, and, and, and kind of transition to like, well, you know, I’m not available right now cause I’m taking care of myself and my health comes first. And so let the world be aware, unless you’re my sister waiting for that call that someone’s about to deliver a baby, I’m going to argue that you might be a step or two or 12 down with your constant engagement, like your example of someone answering your texts that you know in the middle of the night instead of in the morning.
Debbie: 00:51:50 Yeah. So as you say, get over yourself. You don’t need to know your Facebook updates or your cheers, Instagram post and everything. I don’t have any of those words. So that kind of connects to stress sources of stress because there are distractions and the full thing I think to help you eliminate stressors are to focus on one thing, not to multitask and to be present with the people you’re with, with the workout you’re doing. When you’re eating, to digest your food properly, you need to get your body and your mind relax and, and parasympathetics so you can digest your food properly and enjoy the moment. So all these people doing 10 things at once, rushing while they’re eating, driving and eating and you know, shoving food in there in between a workout session. I think if you want to improve your performance in life and sports triathlete or non triathlete, you have to work on doing that pause, reset, reboot, recalibrate before you eat, before you sleep and that’s how you’re going to get healthier.
Brad: 00:52:57 That’s interesting to talk about the eating one because if we’re not deep into this, we are looking at food as a source of calories and a source of energy to burn as we go through our busy life. That’s what the multibillion dollar energy bar industry is, is grab this thing and go and you will get more energy. Just like five hour energy. This podcast is brought to you by garbage, crap, five hour energy that you can find at your recent gas station to Jack you artificially and cover up for all your crappy lifestyle practices. Eh, no thanks. Sorry, five hour energy. Dang, I just blew a potential and same with the energy bars. It’s this grab and go mentality that this thing is going to keep me powering because I get so celebrated from my workaholic tendencies or my overtraining tendencies. And so when you connect that parasympathetic state with, I mean the title, the nickname is rest and digest. Yeah. Why is it so important to relax while you’re eating a food meal?
Debbie: 00:53:56 Well it can put the chart. Let’s look at a chart and can Google images for this parasympathetic versus sympathetic nervous system because everything that happens when you are digesting. So stress is on digestion is turned off. So you want to think to have your body in this. Stop and breathe in gratitude. Do prayer, sit down and relax because if stress takes priority over everything else, everything’s shut down cause I was called faced or emergency response teams. So digestion and needs to be a pair of sympathetic because your stomach acid, so digestion starts in nutritional therapy we talked about starts the very north end point. That’s your brain. So when you are starting to think and seafood and think about what you’re going to eat, digestion is already starting. So your stomach acid is a big part. That’s the whole conversation as well. But stomach acid needs to be released to properly digest your food in your stomach. And if you’re in sympathetic nervous system that inhibits systemic acid. So our stomach acid should be 1.5 to 3.0 ph scale. And if you’re not having that acidic environment, well what’s going to happen to the rest of the digestive system? Has your food moves south is going to be all not broken down properly and cause all this other stuff not to happen. So you’re, you know, your gallbladder releases bile and the, all this hormones are released and get the stomach breaking down the food. Well, if it’s not the right acidity level, it’s not gonna be broken down and it goes in the small intestine. And then there’s this whole chain of events. It’s going to be dysfunctional because you didn’t properly digest your food and your stomach’s. So then that’s a problem. And if the gallbladder, the bile is not being released, you’re not going to have fat digestion properly. And so the and the activity of the small intestine, large intestine has this mobile motility moving. So that’s going to not happen if you’re in sympathetic. So all this stuff, digestion is so important to be parasympathetics. So people wonder why they have all this digestion problems. We’ll let’s work on how you’re eating first and then work on improving your digestion with supplement.
Brad: 00:56:06 So I guess the gas, bloating, burping, farting, inflammation type of experience that we’re so familiar with could possibly be traced back to the fact that we ate standing up shoveling the food in really quickly and then got off to our meeting on time.
Debbie: 00:56:26 Yes, exactly.
Brad: 00:56:31 That’s not okay.
Debbie: 00:56:32 Yeah, I know. It’s so easy. You know, people just coaching methods when I’m working with nutritional therapy clients is like, all right, let’s work on your nutrition and digestion and absorption first, stop, stop when you’re eating and relax and eat. So even if you’re doing a low carb, high fat, or at more of a higher fat, Keto type of food plan, you still have to look at how you’re eating and when you’re eating. Yes, we’re fuller, longer is satiated. We feel good. I don’t have to eat three meals a day and two snacks because I’m eating more fat. But are you digesting it? And what I keep talking about with people, are you absorbing those nutrients but are you causing your body to release increase your blood sugar because you are having stress alerts still cause every blench, every stress response is a blood sugar response. So even if you are Keto low carb, high fat, if you are continually stimulating your sympathetic nervous system to run from that lion every 30 minutes, your body’s going to respond with this quick energy. I need to run from that line as fast as I can. So it’s going to increase your glucose levels, your blood sugar, and what’s going to happen if you keep doing that, anything repetitive? Become resistant. So it’s going to cause your insulin to be released to lower that blood sugar. And we’re going to continually have that stimulation because we’re continually being stressed running from that lion nonstop. Well down the road you could become insulin resistant. So, even if I’m a low carb, high fat, Keto type of athlete, but if I’m continually being stressed and in sympathetic dominance, I’m, I’m having this problem here of losing weight and burning fat. Even if I’m eating the way we tell people eat right? Metabolic efficiency.
Brad: 00:58:27 Well that’s a heavy message. It’s often overlooked, not understood. Uh, Mark and I talked in the Quito reset diet about this whole segment of the approach where you have to make sure that you’re exercising in a sensible manner, not a chronic manner, that you’re getting enough sleep and the you’re managing stress well because if you don’t, you will drift in the direction of sugar burner as you just described. I just don’t think that’s, that point is hit hard enough. We’re obsessed on the choices of food and counting our macro nutrients. And should I switch from 1.2 grams of protein to 1.3 and all this nonsense while we’re running around, uh, with, you know, chicken with head cut off in high stress mode and as you described, making sugar to fuel our fight or flight needs. That’s a fundamental component of the fight or flight response. Another great example is when you’re staying up late and you’re suppressing, that’s the sleepy hormone that makes you feel sleepy and want to go to bed. And if you’re blasting your screen with artificial light, what you’re actually doing is making more sugar, increasing your craving for sugar, and then when you do go get a midnight snack, being more likely to store those calories as fat rather than burn them as energy because you have these sugar burning elements to your busy, stressful life. I wonder if that’s part of the, um, the recovery process after burnout where you’re, you’re referencing these recent five years time when you stepped off the, the triathlon mode and don’t have the energy to function normally through the day or to go put in a quick 50 mile bike ride in between clients like you used to do back in the day. Is that dysregulation of even giving you a baseline of blood sugar stabilization?
Debbie: 01:00:12 Yeah, that’s why I haven’t done it all week, but it’s testing your blood sugar levels regularly I think is important as well as people that want to do their ketones. But the main thing in nutritional therapy we’ll teach people is balance your blood sugar. That’s your main goal and then you should be burning fat and ketones. But if you’re testing your blood sugar and it’s still not right, even if you’re eating this lower carb, high fat way, you guys describe it really well in your book, the Keto Reset because you talk about cortisol and the stress and most, I haven’t read any books that really dive into that so that’s a good thing that you guys added that because it’s so crucial. Part of all these people trying to burn fat and beef metabolically efficient athletes that it is looking at the stress factor and testing your blood sugar levels will help as well as doing your heart rate variability testing.
Brad: 01:01:03 Yeah, that’s fun stuff too. I got a new insight from Joel Jamison that I’d never heard in years of uh, exploring this heart rate variability concept. And for listeners unfamiliar, what you do is you have a special application. You can get it on your smart phone where you’re not only checking your heart rate in beats per minute, but it’s also giving you this other value, which is the variation and beat to beat intervals, uh, as your heart’s beating over the course of a minute or five minutes. So the more variation and beat to beat intervals suggests that you are in a nice state of balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic. You can listen to a whole show that I did with uh, Rhonda Collier of Sweet Beat, uh, over on the primal blueprint channel. Uh, but the main insight here is that if you track this on a daily basis, you can understand your baseline pattern that indicates that you’re healthy and well rested. And then if you see a number that’s lower on the HRV scale, it suggests that you’re probably in a state of sympathetic dominance and need to adjust your behavior to, to emphasize rest more. So the, your, your heart rate variability can get back up to normal. But check out this part, Debbie and for you people a really familiar with it. He said that a high heart rate variability score meaning more variation and beat to beat intervals higher than normal. Most athletes will celebrate this. I remember taking a picture and putting it on on Twitter, like, uh, you know, this is my highest HRV score, thinking that that was the ultimate state of uh, improving my fitness and staying rested. But he suggested that if your HRV score is higher than normal, that means your parasympathetic nervous system is over dominant and working so hard to get you recovered from the sympathetic stimulation of whatever you did, crazy workout period. And now you’re in heavy duty recovery mode. It means that you’re out of balance in that manner and that also warrant a reduction in training because you’re not fully recovered, you’re just working super hard to recover, still bouncing back from the previous periods of stress. So that was a mind blower to me that there’s a such thing as being too good with your high number on the HRV.
Debbie: 01:03:17 I always say that too much of anything is toxic, too little or anything’s deficiency. You find that right? Goldilocks effect is how much can you tolerate to not have that tipping point or the optimal level. And it varies per person. But yeah, not more is not better in more ways than one.
Brad: 01:03:36 Uh, we’re, we’re getting some, some big hit items here. We talked about the sleep factor and turning your cell phone off. We talked about just briefly, um, focusing rather than multitasking. And maybe we’ll, we’ll get a little bit more into that and then wait, we can finish up the show with like, you know, a short to do list of items where we can get our, our sleep, our focus, our eating, and uh, maybe a little bit more attention to movement. So when you say, uh, avoiding the dangers of multitasking, how does that figure into the stress response and getting a sympathetic excess stimulation?
Debbie: 01:04:13 Multitasking? Well, that’s why I like bike riding because I’m just bike riding or running by myself because you’re just doing one thing. You can’t multitask. I get in trouble when I’m working and there’s so many distractions, like, okay, I need to pay bills, I need to follow up with those nutritional therapy. Then I got this. They’re just like, ah, squirrel. You know, there’s just so much going on. So I think it’s the challenge always is when, for me, it’s when I’m on my computer and I have 20 things opened, my web browser, and then I have this pile of stacks of stuff to do and reorganize. And so many different areas of your job in life you might have is how to just make a list and do one thing at a time and turn off everything or move it out of sight. So it’s not distracting shutoff through your email or whatever. So whenever you’re trying to do, you can do 100% focused and do it well instead of trying to do five things at once that you’re not doing 100% you’re just kind of half ass doing it. So I think for me, that’s my problem.
Brad: 01:05:16 Yeah, mine too. You’re talking to a receptive listener. This stuff hits me really hard. I mean, I’ve had a, an adult career of writing many books, right? And so somehow I look on the shelf and gee and go, Dang, how did that happen? How did that level of focus happened? Because my daily life is drifting further and further in a different direction where I have many windows open and I’m remembering, oh, I have to order more Ziploc sandwich bags on Amazon, right in the middle of writing an email to you and going over our, our outline for the show. And then, oh, then here comes, here comes the reminder that I’m 15 minutes late to starting the show with Debbie this morning. Sorry about that Debbie. And then I want to go do my fitness activities and stick with my morning routine, but we get pulled and pushed and forced away. So I think back to the suggestion about the iPhone at your bedside, turned some stuff off and force yourself to focus. And I’m relating this, a wonderful practice that I have that helps increase my productivity is uh, I show up at my girlfriend’s office. She works late at night sometimes and I love going in there. And, uh, joining her because they don’t have wireless access in the building. It’s a government building. They there, you’re not allowed, there’s no password. You can’t get in there unless you work there. Right. And so I have a, uh, a designated area in my life and my daily pattern where there’s no internet access. And that’s when I get my most of my writing done and my creative work and content. And it’s such a pathetic example of, you know, what I need to do to be focused and productive is to go to some building where there’s no wireless access, but it works.
Debbie: 01:06:56 It works. That’s not authentic. I do the, I wrote my book, my manual, and I’m trying to write more because I went to a hotel room when Neil’s on a trip at a food show or something, trade show. And I just stay in the hotel room all day and take walk breaks and work out and then go back and work on something else and turn everything off. It’s the only way I can get stuff done. So it is, you know, a big part of being productive. But also if you’re tying that into how to improve, how does this help me improve my performance and my triathlon or life? I think it helps the whole overall way to improve performances, reduce stress and stress is coming from the small d tasking and leading us to the sympathetic dominant that were just on the go all the time or always on. So if you don’t know how to turn yourself off and you have to figure out what works for you to help you improve your ability to switch back and forth between those nervous systems so we can enhance our recovery pair, which will help us improve our performance when we go work out or else you’re going to go for that bike ride or run and feel like crap and go, okay, this isn’t happening. I’m not even moving. My times is my heart rate’s high and I’m not even moving. Blah, blah blah.
Brad: 01:08:15 So quick ways to activate parasympathetic would be so gentle. Movement. Debriefing.
Debbie: 01:08:27 Yeah. Walking outside. And I know we’re going to study that in the program I’m doing next is uh, that, you know, walking outside with your bare feet, the negative ions and all that. Way cool. Um, I think just simple breathing and I do a lot of the, we use vibrant blue oils is the parasympathetic oil to stimulate the vagal nerves. So I’ve been doing that and just things that you can, easiest thing is breathing, just breathing exercises, helping that reset reboot button is just your breath work and just stopping. And another day I felt like I’m, I’m like all over the place and I’m just, I can feel it when I’m revved up and I laid down on my bed, it was fifth and I got up when I was ready to get up and it was 15 minutes and then he falls asleep. I kind of was half asleep and cause I was thinking, I feel like you need a nap and I need to lay down and be still. Know when, okay, before I go for my workout, before I start working, I just need to reset. And to me that was lying down and it was just 15 minutes. But that’s all I needed to just, hi, I’m back. I feel energized again. It was weird. So sometimes you just need to figure out what works best for you and your body and your personality.
Brad: 01:09:38 Well then you have to get skilled at it too and build these skills in many cases. And I talked to a lot of people about my, uh, fondest for, for napping, which started back when I was an athlete was part of the drill when you were competing at elite level and training that hard is that we all took naps in the afternoon because they, we were that dedicated to performance that we had the time, of course that was our objective for the day was to train and, and rest and recover from it. So I took a two hour nap for a 10 year period of life. And um, that was something that carried forward into today where I can go for a 20 minute nap and get really skillful at. But people say, oh, I can’t nap. You know, uh, I’m, I’m not used to it. Or I just, I just can’t wind down. You go there and force yourself to do it and then you wind down.
Brad: 01:10:26 So yeah. Debbie, that was some heavy stuff. I’m, I’m, I’m seeing a part two in my mind and in my notes because there’s so many other things to cover, but I think we did hit some big points here, which was the sleep aspect, the focusing and then all, all the, uh, the, the commentary about eating and creating that healthy, a relaxed environment to eat your calories, eat your food. So thanks for, thanks for getting into a little, a little dip into the holistic method. Much more to come Debbie Potts up there doing her best at her, at her, uh, Fitness Forward studio to share the message with our clients and keep going yourself. Thanks for all the great work you do.
Debbie: 01:11:06 Yes. That the next thing we might want to dab into a endocrine and the hormones and been trying to write some articles on that this week of athletes have so many hormone imbalances. And what does it relate to? Stress. Chronic stress will cause this whole cascade of events for your hormonal system. So people that have low t and low progesterone and pregnenolone and thyroid, we’ve got to look at the root cause instead of just taking all these hormone replacement. So that’s what I’m trying to write about this week and get a little more into that. So love to share that information with listeners and that our athletes, triathletes, huge.
Brad: 01:11:44 Just like your, your neighbor buddy Mike Mutzel said, if you go take a testosterone because you have low t but you don’t address those causes and those imbalances, you’ll just grow man boobs cause it will get converted to estrogen. It’s like, holy crap, that doesn’t seem isn’t as compelling as it did when my doctor said, I’ll feel like a young man again.
Debbie: 01:12:01 No, everyone’s on thyroid medication. All this. It’s like you’re just putting a bandaid on people. Look at the root cause of why you need this and doctors just to give you this stuff without even figure out why. So yeah, there’s lots to go into. So thanks for having me on the show.
Brad: 01:12:17 Debbie Potts going into the root cause. Next time we got in a little bit of it here, what’s the best place we can find you and connect with the stuff you’re doing?
Debbie: 01:12:24 The Holistic Athlete on Instagram, I’ve been doing more of that way in trying to do a little more videos and on DebbiePotts.net you can find updates in our blog, my blog and our podcast, the whole athlete.
Brad: 01:12:38 Thank you for listening. Have a great day. Stay balanced. Stress and rest by day.
Debbie: 01:12:46 Squirrel, Squirrel.
Brad: 01:12:49 Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback. It firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars and it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. Thanks for doing it.