Episode #7 – Rethinking Your Relationship with Food
This is a special double dose as this episode is about double the length of our typical conversations, but packs in a ton of nutritional information. Ali Brigham a functional medicine and health coach with over 22 years of experience shares her personal struggles with nutrition. She offers applicable advice to implement on a daily basis to start the new decade off right. Offering insight into do’s and dont’s with grocery shopping and recommending green vegetable juicing to nourish your body on a cellular level. Toward the end of the episode, Ali shares several avenues for increasing one’s knowledge through books and documentaries which are listed below.
Books and Magazines:
- The Miracle Mile by Hal Elrod
- Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
- Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson
- Experience Life
- Fat: A Documentary
- How Not To Die
- The Brain That Changes Itself
Eddie: [00:00:22] She’s a Functional Medicine Nutritionist and Certified Holistic Health Coach, as well as holding a Master’s Degree in Neuroscience and Biochemistry. She’s been featured on WCNC and WBTV Charlotte several times as an expert nutrition and health correspondent. Aside from her work and passion, transforming lives, she enjoys spending time with her family as a wife and mother. I’d like to welcome to the show, Ali Brigham.
Ali: [00:01:10] Thanks so much for and happy and healthy new year to you and all your listeners.
Eddie: [00:01:16] I appreciate that. And happy new year to yourself and also to your family as well. So today we are discussing New Year’s Resolutions pertaining to nutrition, which is one of your specialties, I should say. To give our listeners a little insight into your personal journey, what has motivated you to become so well versed in diet and nutrition?
Ali: [00:01:38] Sure. So firstly, I’d like to preface this question by saying there are two main reasons why I founded Charlotte Nutritional Wellness — firstly, it’s because I was just so sick and tired of seeing everybody so sick and tired and it really started to anger me, and I knew in my heart of hearts that we need to do something. I needed to do something! And the second main reason is because my younger life was riddled with health issues and weight struggles.
By the time I was 22 I suffered already with four chronic illnesses. I was 30 pounds overweight, and like many of my clients, I had tried everything under the sun to lose weight. Every fad diet you can imagine — working out with a trainer, cutting out carbs, starving myself. And it wasn’t until the later stages of graduate school when I was studying nutrition science and I realized that everything I was doing to get healthy and thin was wrong. I finally learned what it meant to feel your body with proper nutrition and heal the cells in your body and when that happens, my diseases began to disappear and the fat literally was melting off of me, and once I reached my goal weight. I fluctuated around. I’m tiny. I’m five, two, so I fluctuate around, you know, 106lbs or 107lbs.
I’ve been able to maintain the same weight going on 24 years now. The funny thing is I wasn’t even trying to lose weight. I was focusing on getting well; I didn’t have to use sheer willpower because as we all know that willpower’s going to fail us in the end because we’re human. We’re going to mess up. It was just happening. It was just happening naturally because I was giving my body what it needed. So I know that there is hope for everyone out there, and I wasn’t the most disciplined person when it came to food and exercise. I was in my twenties I wanted to go out and have fun and go out with my girlfriends and drink Cosmos after work.
And I also grew up on processed junk food, and I was a sugar junkie. Literally a junk in every sense of the word. I would leave my dorm in the middle of a snow storm — in the middle of the night in the sketchiest part of town and find a gas station that was open so that I can get my Twizzlers and my gummy worms and my gummy bears and get my candy fix. It’s a real addiction. Okay. I just want to finish answering your question about becoming well versed in diet and nutrition because I think this is really important. For me personally, I don’t think it’s enough to just have a degree or a Master’s Degree or, you know, sit in a classroom and learn. You know, learn a trade.
But absolutely, that’s the first step that we all need to do if we want to bring our skills to life. But for me, it was also about studying the farming industry, learning about the agricultural industries, factory farming, the pharmaceutical industry, the USDA and the FDA. And of course, Health care, which thankfully I had a background in. All of these components play a role in the food that’s made available to us and the food that’s sold in stores, the food that’s served in restaurants, and that’s really what is the most important to me. How did that piece of meat or how did that food get from your farm to my table?
All of the stuff that happens in between is the most important. And when I began to dive in to my investigative research and drive around to farms and I was calling manufacturing facilities and calling food companies and asking questions when it really all came together, I was astonished as to what I found.
Eddie: [00:05:43] So to continue with that train of thought regarding where the food’s coming from and the choices that we have. How do you get, or what do you suggest somebody does to get the most optimal, you know, farm to table options? Do they not go to a typical grocery store? I mean, what, what kinds of things can people do that will help them to get the best kind of nutrition that they can?
Ali: [00:06:10] Sure. So yes, somebody who’s been shopping at Harris Teeter all their lives, not going to say, all of a sudden you need to never go to Harris Teeter again, but maybe poke around, you know, go to your local farmer’s market or go to the organic section. Start there, start small. It’s not a light switch where all of a sudden, you know, we flip a switch and you’re going to become this organic, healthy, clean eating person.
It’s a process. And the people who have the most success are the ones that take this slowly and treat it as a healing process rather than, “Oh my God, change everything overnight. I need to lose 30 pounds right away”. I usually recommend that you go to like a Trader Joe’s or a farmer’s market or an Earth Fare or a Whole Foods or a place that’s going to have more options in terms of organic foods, if that’s the route you want to go.
It’s for people who feel that they can’t afford to buy every single thing organic, start with certain things or just buy more fruits and vegetables. Just start with that. It’s still even healthier to eat the fruits and vegetables, even though they’re sprayed with insecticide. It’s rather than to eat at McDonald’s or fast food every day.
Eddie: [00:07:38] You work with a lot of clients, I’m sure, that have different goals and mindsets. Who do you typically work with and what type of goals do you generally see people looking to achieve?
Ali: [00:07:52] Yeah, that’s quite vast. So a large percentage of my clientele are men and women who are just at the end of their rope. They are like, Ali, I am so done. I don’t want another diet. I’ve tried everything. And there are also very experienced individuals who come to see me who are already eating clean and exercising, but they still don’t feel well. And I work with many elite athletes and members of sports teams because we all know now proper nutrition enhances performance on any field or any court, and I also work with individuals with severe chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, arthritis, and other autoimmune conditions. And even cancer patients.
The majority of my clients, yeah, they do want to lose weight because when you think about it, just look around everybody, almost everybody is trying to lose weight. I feel like everybody’s on a diet. Yeah. Our main goal in working together is more about optimum health. And when you find out, when you feel your body the right way, your body’s going to naturally gravitate toward the leanest version of you. Weight loss is always going to be a byproduct.
Eddie: [00:09:24] And so do you think that going back to when you were 22 and you had talked about going to the store to get Twizzlers and that sugar kick that you were looking for — nowadays it seems like sugar, high fructose corn syrup is in everything. Sucralose. It’s in everything, right?
So we have so many more people that are looking to lose weight and sugar is in so many different products that people aren’t even aware of. Do you think that’s one of the main factors or something that’s being overlooked by the majority of people when they are looking to lose weight?
Ali: [00:09:59] Absolutely. That is such a great point that you brought up so. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, the food industries put these addictive processed derivatives of sugar and corn and sugar beets, and even other additives that are highly addictive so that we become addicted to the foods and we continue to buy them. So, and again. You know, let’s say you were going to say to yourself, I am no longer going to eat sugar. I’m going to give up all sugar.
Well, first of all, I don’t think that’s the best route to go because when you deprive yourself of something and you expect that, you expect yourself automatically eat completely different with, no practice, nothing. That usually doesn’t pan out very well. You know, usually people fail when they tried to do that. So for me, the “not craving the sugar” and being okay with being around a full spread of desserts at a party or holiday, where I am not tempted at all. Literally, really not at all. I don’t even touch sweets. Not because I willpower myself not to. I don’t even crave them. That happens naturally when I, again, I always talk about this healing process and feeling your cells because your cells are looking for one thing, nutrients.
When they get nutrients, they signal your brain that you’re full and your brain gets word that, okay, now I’m getting what I need so I’m going to reward you. So those addictive tendencies, well, slowly diminish and eventually you won’t even crave it.
Eddie: [00:11:52] That’s incredible. And you know, talking about, you know, diets nowadays, there’s keto diets, vegan diets, and it seems like everybody’s on some kind of a quote unquote diet, rather than maybe like a lifestyle change and to me in this may be outdated thought process that I have — I feel as though many people that have adopted some of these diets would actually be consuming fewer calories by cutting out specific, macro-nutrients and could have the same weight loss affects if they were eating the same foods as they had previously, but were more aware of like the portion sizes or the calorie intake.
So, you know, if someone goes to the keto diet, they’re cutting out carbs obviously if someone’s going to do a vegan diet, they’re cutting out quite a bit of products that they would typically eat and could that, just cutting those things out. Could that be a byproduct is, their caloric intake is, is less than what it was previously and if they did continue to kind of eat the same foods, if you will, and just were more aware of the portion sizes, do you think that they could have the same effects regarding their weight loss?
Ali: [00:13:04] Oh, absolutely. When it comes to dieting. Yep. Of course. With my clients, I always adapted this motto, “whatever works for you”, but there’s a difference between going on a crash diet and dropping weight and healing your body so it effortlessly sheds fat.
The problem I see with all of these fad diets is people are doing them to try to lose weight and that’s it. They want a quick fix because they say to themselves, okay, that diet didn’t work or that’s, I didn’t work. That one didn’t work. That program didn’t work. Okay, let’s try Keto, and they don’t really know what they’re getting themselves into. So I’ll give you a quick example.
The ketogenic diet, it’s been around since the early 1900s. It is miraculous for curing certain neuro-degenerative brain disorders as well as treatment resistant epilepsy. It only became a fad diet because all the patients in the studies were losing massive amounts of weight. So, and of course, I try all these new fad diets that come out just for the heck of it because I need to be able to speak knowledgeably to my clients about them. And when I tried, I tried Keto. I did it for a week. I felt awful. I felt disgusting eating all of that fat and meat. However, there are some people that may find it, may find it sustainable.
And if their blood work looks great and they’re healthy and their cardiovascular system is fine and they’re not getting diabetes and their, their triglycerides are not off the charts, Hey, more power to ya. But I think the moral of the story is to just eat real food. If we look at different areas around the globe and certain indigenous cultures, and you know, we find some that maybe have only access to fish or certain animals, let’s say, like in the really cold regions of the world. And there are some areas that have only have access to grains and plants, and then there’s some areas of access to all of the macros. So when we study these regions of the world there, there’s virtually no obesity. Even though some cultures may be living solely on animal products, some living solely plants, and some a mixture, they all have one thing in common, the food isn’t processed. That is bar none the biggest problem with the American diet.
Eddie: [00:16:17] You bring up an interesting point about how geography is really affecting what these people eat and it is not processed food. You know, McDonald’s has been around, I think probably since the 1950s, could there be some sort of genetic triggers that are being affected? Like epigenetics, for instance, when somebody, say, my grandfather, for instance, started eating McDonald’s and, is there something that could be turned on genetically by eating some of this process food and actually getting passed down through generations? And we’re kind of seeing the culmination of those things add up to kind of where we’re at today with people having these, you know, getting diabetes earlier, having higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol. Could it be a genetic factor as well from previous generations being exposed to these processed foods?
Ali: [00:17:05] Yes, absolutely. And I love talking about genetics because there are two types of genetics. There’s set genetics, and there’s epigenetics. So let’s say, well let’s take you, Eddie, what color eyes do you have? Blue. Okay, so no matter how much you hope and pray and hope and pray, you are never going to have Brown eyes that is set genetic.
However we are born predisposed to many different illnesses, things that run in our family and not just from our mom and dad, but you know, going back generations and generations. However, you actually have to turn that gene on to get that disease. It’s called gene expression, or what you mentioned earlier, epigenetics. So how do we turn that gene on?
Well, by putting bad stuff in our body, putting bad stuff on our body, eating these processed foods, lowering our immune system, and making us more susceptible to disease. And there is many, many people who come from regions like there, I’m half Italian. So the Mediterranean though, the Italian side of my family, they live very long.
My dad is 90 years old, so, and he’s still alive and kicking. Those good, we call them longevity genes, are slowly start to die out over generation, after generation, after generation because of all of the process foods, because my I dad and his parents and grandparents were eating real foods when they were younger. And you know, now my dad’s eating more processed foods. So now, you know, all of these little diseases are catching up with him.
So it’s really interesting when you study that. Some people were like, oh, I have great genes in my family. I’m never going to get sick. Well, that’s only going to get you so far.
Eddie: [00:19:07] Right. Their lifestyle choices and what they’re choosing to do are affecting the way that their genes are being expressed. So. Yeah. They might have great genetics from their grandparents, but their grandparents weren’t eating, you know, bread that’s got high fructose corn syrup in it, or ketchup that’s got more sugar in it, or whatever the case may be. It could be pesticides that are in the food, and those things are affecting the way that the genes are being expressed. Is that all correct?
Ali: [00:19:35] Yes. More so than ever before. The latest medical research is showing now that environment in terms of your predisposition to chronic health conditions, environment plays a much larger role in, don’t quote me on this — it’s upwards of like 70 or 80% over your genetics. Yes. So we have full control over whether or not, we may get these diseases and according to many doctors, 75% to 80% of all chronic diseases in America or in the world are 100% reversible and 100% preventable with diet. So food, I teach my clients — stage one is recognizing food as the most powerful way to transform your health.
Eddie: [00:20:32] Looking at food as a medicine rather than nourishment
Ali: [00:20:37] Correct. Look at food as a means to provide energy for the cells in our body so that we can wake up and move and talk and use our brain rather than comfort. So. That’s a whole other topic because of the diet culture we live in, and there’s a lot of emotional components now that come along with having good relationship with food.
Eddie: [00:21:03] So keeping on the same track. There’s a lot of folks this time of year that are focusing on their nutrition, trying to get in better shape, trying to lose a little bit of weight, whatever the case may be. Could you cover. Maybe some of the do’s and don’ts for folks that are looking to set goals around eating healthier and having a better, I guess, balanced diet. What would some of the do’s and don’ts be, that you would recommend?
Ali: [00:21:30] Sure. Let’s start with that. The first, the most important, “don’t”. I think the most important first step is to let go of the “diet” mentality. The cells in our body thrive wonderfully on healthy proteins, healthy carbs, healthy fats. We eat all of the macro groups.
We don’t have to cut out anything. It’s about the quality of the food, and I feel like we’re all in prison. Like I call it “diet jail”. We’re all in prison by our emotional reaction or feelings of being around food and not having a good relationship with food or feeling guilty that you went into the break room and you had two donuts, you know, throw all that away.
We’re human here, we’re going to mess up and it’s okay. You know, get back to the foundation, you know, have those little mini steps that you’re going to take to start your journey towards this new lifestyle. So, you know, like let’s say just switch to organic produce. That would be a first step. If you fall off the wagon?
It’s okay. Get right back on. Don’t beat yourself up. And the another piece of advice, I have is a very practical one. Get more plants in your diet. That’s where the micro-nutrients are. The micro-nutrients are more important than the macro-nutrients. They’re the things we can’t see the vitamins and minerals, the essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, the polyphenols, the phytonutrients, all of those things that catapult our health. Easy, convenient things.
For instance, make it a point to make your salad bigger, the green part of your salad bigger. Or if you’re having steak or chicken for dinner tonight, triple your portion of broccoli if that happens to be your side. Add more lentils, beans, nuts, and seeds into your diet because they’re plants too. They grow out of the ground. And get some wonderful blueberries and raspberries and strawberries and blackberries into your smoothie. I mean, these are really easy things. And, another big “don’t” is, again, going back to don’t, don’t restrict yourself of foods that you love to eat.
It’s miserable and it comes from a place of negativity. Have you ever heard anybody say, I can’t wait for Monday when I start my diet? I’m so psyched. No. It’s like, Oh my God, I’m going to binge all weekend because I have to start this stupid died on Monday and there they’re mad. They’re angry, they’re negative, they’re negative because they have to restrict, restrict, restrict. So again, that’s going back to our brain and our emotions, and that’s going to fail you in the end. So sometimes what’s more important is what we add into our diet initially than what we restrict eventually. I call this the “crowding method”.
Eventually we’re going to start to crave those good healthy foods because again, that’s what the cells in our body are looking for, and that’s what they want, and they’ll start to “crowd out” the other bad foods naturally, just going to happen. If someone were to ask me, Ali, if there’s one thing that you can recommend, one thing that for people to do, if they’re only going to pick one — to literally catapult their health and weight loss, what would it be?
And it’s always going to be green vegetable juicing. Buy a juicer for 30 or $40 or go to a juice bar and get fresh green juices in into your diet. I mean, you will notice a difference in a matter of days because it’s so nutrient dense and concentrated with those micro-nutrients, those polyphenols, those antioxidants — and those are the ones that we’re missing in our diet. And we as a society are very nutrient and mineral deficient, unfortunately. So we really gotta almost like overdose on nutrition to get well.
Eddie: [00:25:41] So for the green vegetable juicing, there’s all kinds of juicing that’s going on these days. I know that a lot of people do it with like fruits, and I’ve read that a lot of times with the fruits — it’s so concentrated with the sugars that are in there that, that can be bad and sometimes you’re not getting enough fiber to help, slow down the digestion of that. When people are doing, fruits, for instance, what types of green vegetables, like what would an example of a juicing with the green vegetables, what would that include? A Kale? Spinach? What does that kind of look like? Please correct me if I’m wrong about the fruit juicing or whatever the case may be, there.
Ali: [00:26:27] You, you hit the nail on the head when we go to these juice bars, a lot of the juice recipes that you see are filled with, you know, they put like maybe like a handful of spinach, and then there’s Apple, carrot, pineapple, beet, all of the sugary stuff.
So you’re walking out of there drinking upwards of 40 grams of sugar that’s going to spike your insulin, your glucose, that’s going to cause weight gain. So that’s why I always say green juice. Now for the purpose of getting, flooding your gut microbiome and getting these micro-nutrients into your cells as quickly as possible, assimilating them. We don’t want anything to get in the way. We don’t want the fiber. We don’t want the cellulose. You’re going to get plenty of fiber if you’re eating a proper diet, but for, for the purpose of this, of vegetable juice distraction, it’s not blending it. It’s actual juice extraction. And so what you’re left with is the water and the micro-nutrients, and they’re very concentrated.
So a great recipe would be, and you know, I tend to, you know, go a little bit more bitter because I can handle it, but I do the kale and the parsley and the collard greens, and the Swiss chard. But I would say start with spinach, and add cucumber. And celery and sure a little bit of grapefruit is okay because it’s very low in sugar — and you can add mint leaf and they’ll make these for you. You can walk into any juice bar and make your own and make your own concoction. When you add the, the cucumber and the celery it’s gonna be a much milder taste, whereas I would go in there and I would order kale, spinach, cilantro, parsley, tumeric, ginger, and probably a have a bitter taste.
But when I started veggie juicing 25 years ago, there came a point where I would. Literally salivate because it was getting nutrients and I cannot even imagine a day now that goes by that I don’t have veggie juice,
I crave it so much. There is a really cool phenomenon called the “wisdom of the body”. There’s a biochemical reaction that occurs on your taste buds in the ends that want it, it’s craving it. And it’s not going to stop craving it. Better veggie juice, than the soda and the Kool-aid, don’t you think?
Eddie: [00:29:05] Yeah, definitely. I couldn’t agree more with you on that. Back when I was working out quite heavily, I had a really strict diet and I didn’t crave any sweets. It just didn’t cross my mind. I didn’t. Know, it didn’t affect me. Now it’s a little different, but it’s still not big on the sweets. Ice cream is probably my biggest downfall.
Ali: [00:29:30] And it’s not to say that you can’t enjoy those things. I certainly am not perfect. No nutrition, no nutritionist is perfect. And my family and I, we’re very social. We go out to dinner or we go to parties. I drink wine. I have a chocolate and sweets. If I want it, which typically, again, which is really cool and I’d still blows my mind to this day, how I don’t crave sweets anymore when I used to live on them.
This is not about torture, deprivation, live in a bubble lifestyle. This is about making incremental changes. And it’s about building up the cells in your body, building up your immune system, healing your gut microbiome, recharging your brain so that when you do go out into this toxic world that we live in and you, you know, go out to dinner or go to the bachelor party or go on vacation, you’re not going to get sick and you’re not going to gain weight because you’ve set the foundation in your body and you’re not susceptible to those things anymore.
And my clients jokingly asked me all the time, they’re like, what do you do when you go on vacation? Do you pack a giant suitcase of all of your organic foods and snacks and everything? I’m like, no, no. I eat what’s at the resort. Because, yeah, maybe I might gain a couple pounds, you know, from, you know, drinking a margarita or whatever, eating the food, but I’m gonna rebound in two seconds once I get back to the foundation.
Eddie: [00:30:59] Right. And if you’re doing the work, you know, 80, 90% of the time, that 10% isn’t going to ruin all of the healthy choices that you’ve made.
Ali: [00:31:09] Absolutely. Bingo.
Eddie: [00:31:11] I feel like a lot of people critique themselves. They go on vacation and they splurge. They just beat themselves up over it. Not realizing that it doesn’t erase all of the healthy decisions, decisions that you’ve made that have brought you up to this point. That could probably be better subject to talk about in itself. What kind of qualifications should somebody look for, or what kind of background should somebody look for when searching for a provider, to help with their nutrition and diet so that you know, that you want to work with somebody that knows what they’re talking about, but is there like certain certifications or certain background that you would recommend look for?
Ali: [00:32:07] Yes, and there’s, there’s various avenues you can take. There’s that many professionals take. There is health coaching. That’s absolutely a certification has to be renewed each year. I do have a certification in that. The dietitian curriculum is written by the American Medical Association, and I do not want to be governed by the American medical association, for my own personal reasons.
And I’m not into telling people to follow the food pyramid. Not that’s not all they do. Some of my best friends and colleagues are well-respected, registered dieticians. But I, being a Holistic Nutritionist, you have a little bit more leeway as to what you can recommend for your clients. And I don’t have to be so stringent in sticking to a particular diet because I don’t have one single diet or handout for everybody who has diabetes. Or everybody who wants to lose weight. Every single nutrition program for my clients is customized to them. It’s built out. It’s typed out just for them. There are no two alike.
My biggest piece of advice when looking for a nutritionist is ask a lot of questions. This is a very personal journey. I tell my clients, this is a one time process. You will have all of the tools and your reference manual to carry with you, which is your customized nutrition program for years to come. For success for me is them not coming back. Because I want to know, and I love when clients text me, 10 years later saying that they were able to keep the weight off. Like, this is why I love what I do. So ask lots of questions and ask about their background and you know, ask if they study…
Just as crucial, like the agriculture industry in the farming industry and what do they feel about organic foods? Because there’s many nutritionists out there that will just put you on, let’s say they’ll cut your calories, for instance. Not, not everybody, but some people could say, okay, based on this test where you blew into this tube, you should be eating 1200 calories a day.
So they put them on a diet of 1200 calories. That’s not the way I practice. And that’s not the way I ever want to practice. I don’t think that’s doing a service to a client. There’s so many components that go into weight loss that are heavily overlooked by all the diet industries, not to mention hormones and epigenetics and the gut microbiome and the quality of the food factory farmed meat versus grass fed meat, organic food versus non-organic foods, the stress management, the emotional aspect of it. So many things that are covered when you are a holistic healthcare practitioner. So I think that’s another important thing to ask me. Do you practice holistically? Do you practice functionally? Functional medicine means or functional nutrition means you’re getting to the root cause of what’s ailing you? That’s super important.
Eddie: [00:35:32] So there’s a lot of factors. I appreciate you sharing that insight, and I’m sure our listeners will also appreciate that because there are a lot of factors that people aren’t aware of. When, you know, you said to ask questions, you gave some great examples of the types of questions that people should ask that they wouldn’t necessarily know. So I think that’s really, really helpful. So as we come to the conclusion here. I was wondering if you could share with us something that you’ve currently been learning about, whether it’s from a book that you’re reading or a documentary maybe you’ve recently watched, just maybe where did you learn it from and what did you learn? What was your takeaway?
Ali: [00:36:08] Sure. So, yes. I am that crazy person who drives around and looks at farms and again talks to people and I work with people in the industry, but, I listen, I get most of my information from peer reviewed literature and, health summits and podcasts, but there are some, my favorite books I have to tell you that I’ve recently read, one is called the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
Another one is a Psycho-Cybergenetics by Maxwell Maltz and another one is Sleep Smarter. And another one is Healing Cancer by Chris Mark , and there’s a magazine I absolutely love. It’s called Experience Life. I also like Life Extension, but I think I like Experience Life a little bit more. And that’s cool.
And with regard to documentaries, I’ve seen them all. Some of my favorites are, an all you have to do — the easiest way to do this is gone. Amazon Prime or go on Netflix and in the search bar type in “documentary health”. So I love, How Not To Die. I love In Search of Balance. Vegucated. The Gut: Our Second Brain. There’s one called, Why Are We Fat? There’s one called, Cow’s Cash and Cover Ups, Food Matters, Foods That Cure Disease, What’s with Wheat? There’s one called Fat, a Documentary. There’s so many. And they are amazing in terms of education.
And also I do want to point out, I love talking with people on the phone, even if they don’t live in Charlotte. I do work remotely with people all over the U.S., but if people, listeners have questions about what to look for. I encourage them to talk to me. I, I offer free telephone consultations. You can schedule that right on my website. I’m flexible enough to make this work for you. So if I have a client who travels, three times a month, that’s going to be a whole different program. If I have a client that is allergic to 20 different things, that’s going to be different. We have to be willing and a little bit flexible too, to meet our clients halfway and work with them so that they can make this a doable, easy and sustainable lifestyle for them. Otherwise, what’s the point.
Eddie: [00:38:43] Exactly. I think that’s one of the best parts about what you do is the fact that you are able to help people regardless of their location and give them insight and tell them — a lot of people travel these days, like you said. So to be able to be flexible that way is awesome.
What I’ll do actually is include, some of these documentaries that you’ve listed as well as some of the books, I’ll get those from you and include those in the show notes as well. That way our listeners can check those out and expand their knowledge on the subject matter as well.
Ali: [00:39:12] Awesome
Eddie: [00:39:15] The final question I have for you is how do you deal with stress?
Ali: [00:39:22] Oh, okay. So stress is a biggie. It’s toxic. It causes us to overproduce stress hormones. So when we do that, our body thinks that we’re in trouble. So when our body thinks we’re instinctively in trouble, what happens? Our metabolism stops. Everything comes to a screeching halt. So it’s real important to manage stress “in the moment”. And I want to repeat that “in the moment”. So it’s one thing to be around a stressful, toxic, work atmosphere, a factor situation, and have your boss hounding you all day and you just, your blood boiling all day and then you leave, you go to the gym and you burn off steam, or you leave and you go to the bar and you have a couple of drinks to relax.
That’s all fine and good, but we need to manage stress in the moment. So the best thing that works for me is diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing, deep breathing. I will set my alarm on my phone because I’m a workaholic and I will sit in consultation or working on the computer, compiling somebody’s nutrition program all day long, but I set my alarm at to get up out of my chair and I go out on my front porch, I put on my, even in the dead of winter, I put on my winter parka and I go on the front porch and I sit where the sun beats down in my comfy chair out there. And I close my eyes and I just breathe really deeply and slowly for five minutes. And when I come back into my office, it feels as though I’ve just taken a nap. Everything is clearer. All of the muscle tension and stress has melted off of me. It’s truly miraculous. Not to mention meditation and yoga and exercise are crucial. Yes, I’m a nutritionist, but it’s, it’s very important to move your body. And get your blood flowing and help production of nitric oxide. Exercise is a great way to release stress.
What I find also is affirmations and journaling. I do a lot of these things. I do visualization. I just close my eyes and visualize how my life is going to be and what I want. And I give myself one goal for the day. Just say three things. Oh, I have a really, a really cool trick I’ll share with you in a sec. I’ll just say three things that I’m grateful for, and it doesn’t always have to be your husband, your family, and your children. It could be like, hey, it’s been raining for the last five days and today it’s sunny. I’m so grateful for that. We have this running joke in this house because my husband and my daughter like, stop asking me that.
So I always say like, when somebody is about to throw their computer out the window, or, you know, an email comes in and they, they get so angry and just built up and I say, okay, stop for a sec. Ask yourself these three questions. One. Is this life threatening? So life threatening being you are, there’s a scale. So 10 would be like you are sitting on a boogie board in the sea, the Caribbean sea, or the ocean or sharks circling. So you know, you’re probably going about to die if you know. So that is so stressful. If you are in that situation, I give you carte blanche to let all of your stress hormones rip through your body because you have every right to be stressed.
And let’s go back to the other end of the spectrum. A one on a scale of one to 10 would be like you laying on a beach in Hawaii with, a Mai Tai in your hand and somebody giving you a foot massage, like pure heaven. Yeah. So, so ask yourself, firstly, is this life threatening? Secondly, ask yourself, am I going to remember this in a year?
And thirdly, rate it on that scale of one to 10. Usually when I do that, I wind up giggling and I’m like, Oh my God, this is so ridiculous. I’m not going to remember this in a year. Oh my God, why am I sweating this? I mean, this is, no, this isn’t life threatening. And, and usually I wind up giving it. I usually wind up giving a rating of a two. Not stressful at all. So it’s so funny that sometimes when my daughter gets, you know, angry at something or mad, and I’m like, okay. Are you going to remember this next year? She’s like you’re crazy with this stuff, but I do with myself and it works every time.
Eddie: [00:44:01] It’s interesting because it kind of pulls you out of whatever the situation is. You can put it into context. Yeah. So you’re not necessarily being swamped with whatever the situation is, but being able to put it into some sort of context, like one of the things that, I recently was learning about was stoicism and following like Marcus Aurelius in the idea that, you know, simple question. Can I control this or can I not control this?
Ali: [00:44:28] I’m all science. Prove it to me. I need to see it, to believe it. I need to read it. I’m like the least transcendental, om Yogi-type person. I’m just all science. But when I tell you these things work, you know, take the five minutes, breath diaphragmatically, do the visualization, meditate…you know, do that little trick. They work, they work, they work.
Eddie: [00:44:56] Ali, thank you for being here with me today and sharing your knowledge and expertise.
Ebb & Flow located in Charlotte’s Villa Heights neighborhood. It’s a local movement studio offering classical Pilates instruction, yoga and dance and wellness services, including massage therapy and Reiki healing. The objective of Ebb & Flow movement studio is to help improve the quality of life. For members of the community in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment. Movement heals, come feel better!