Are you sick of being stuck inside?
You’re in good company.
When our survival and basic needs are threatened, our trust in authority figures broken and our human rights ignored, it’s pretty easy to lose your head.
So how can we protect our brain and nervous system in these trying times?
Well, I’m happy to say that returning to the show this week to help us out is Eliza Kingsford, a Licensed Psychotherapist and certified Mind-Body Practitioner. She’s the author of Brain-Powered Weight Loss, and she’s joining me on the show to share:
- Easy tips for navigating mental health while we’re in such close quarters
- The importance of protecting your nervous system right now
- How to manage kids and a career, at the same time
- The science behind why you might be struggling with food cravings more than usual (and what to do about it)
- And tons more…
Let’s go hang out with Eliza.
Eliza Kingsford: Kids in Quarantine, De-Stressing & How to Be Ok
Abel: Welcome back, folks.
Returning to the show today, Eliza Kingsford is a licensed psychotherapist, certified mind-body practitioner and author of Brain-Powered Weight Loss.
Her work is at the intersection of the science of nutrition and the psychology of eating with a focus on body image, weight management, eating disorders and food addiction.
Eliza, welcome back to the show.
So good to be here. I’m glad we’re talking again. It’s fun to see you.
Abel: Yeah, we need to connect. I wish we could do it in person.
But one thing we were just kind of catching up about is the different experience that people are going through right now, depending on whether they have a family of especially small kids or even grown-up kids who are stuck, cooped up all together right now, and also the people who don’t have kids.
So, you have a whole extra career layered on to your other very busy career. How’s that going over there?
Yeah. You know what a brain nerd I am—I’m always looking at things from a 30,000-foot view.
And there’s this interesting dichotomy going on for the people who don’t have children or don’t have children at home that are living with them or even, like you said, the age of children, depending on how old the kids are, and the people who do have children.
And it’s neither good nor bad.
One is not better than the other, but the challenges that are happening for parents who now have this, as you mentioned, this full-time job of school and teaching and helping a curriculum happen.
For me, what’s been so interesting is you’ve probably heard this concept of multitasking and how that’s a fallacy, and we don’t really actually multitask.
Our brain just consistently switches from one thing to the next, and we shut off that valve and then open the other valve when we multitask.
We switch back and forth, and that’s actually not very efficient.
What I’m finding for my daughter who has decided to set up her “office” in my “office” has been that I’m trying to get something done, and she, bless her heart, as she should, she’s in first grade, has all kinds of questions about what it is that she needs to do.
And so, that brain switching that’s going on for me constantly throughout the day is exhausting.
Just when I get into a flow of something, she has a question, which then takes my brain and switches it to her question.
And then it takes me 5 – 10 minutes to get back into my thing.
And so it’s a really challenging time, I think, for parents.
It wasn’t that we were able to add in some extra time to be a teacher. It’s this full-time job on top of what we were already trying to do.
And that’s been extraordinarily challenging.
Abel: And it’s not like you had months and months or years to prepare a curriculum and carve out time to get all this ready.
How does that work, hard shifting into not only taking on a totally different role but also providing hopefully some sort of real education?
Yes, then you have these ideas about how you want to educate your child and what type of education they’re getting.
And is it enough? And will they be behind in the next school year, or whatever?
In truth, with the limitations of even being able to go outside and provide a different type of education, most of the education is being done inside the house and on apps and technology.
And it’s like you said, there wasn’t time to prepare.
So, if your child doesn’t know how to use an iPad or a computer or a Chromebook or whatever, and the keyboard or the keypad—it’s all these little things that we don’t think about that when you suddenly have to switch your entire educational system and you don’t have time to plan or prepare, it’s all happening at once.
You add that on top of, really, Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs.
Which starts with our physiological needs of food and water and shelter, then you move into safety and security, then you move into love and belonging.
The bottom three rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are all in danger… or, that’s a little dramatic, but are all being threatened right now.
And so, as we try and function as normal human beings—or as functioning human beings even when we have all of our basic needs being threatened—it’s a really stressful and difficult time for people.
And the thing that I’ve been wanting to do most is to help people understand what’s going on in the brain and what’s going on behind the scenes.
You’re not crazy. There are so many things contributing to why we’re all feeling so stressed that are happening in the background.
Abel: And I’ve had a lot of people come to me recently, especially who maybe I’ve coached in the past or they’ve read my book or whatever, or even just listened to the podcast and heard a guest.
And so, they come back and they’re just like, “Listen, I kind of know what I’m supposed to do right now, but being cooped up, we’re baking cookies, and we’re drinking wine every night to just try to have a little bit of escape and relaxation from this.”
And my approach anyway so far with people like that, I’m like, “Listen. That’s okay. I’m doing a little bit of that too, to be perfectly honest.”
And I think it’s so important that we don’t try to put these different parts of health into different spaces, separating them.
Our mental health, as all of our needs like that are threatened, might be more important than a six-pack right now.
Now is not the time to be aggressively slimming down and getting your perfect body, I don’t think.
Maybe if we stay cooped up, and it’s like a lot of people get ripped in jail, you know what I mean?
You adapt and then you can come out of this just fine. You can adapt.
But in the meantime, I think what we really need is empathy for each other.
Yeah, absolutely. And you hit it right on the nail.
Mental health is the thing that I’m most concerned about for people right now.
You think about the people who are already kind of teetering on the edge when it comes to mental health, and the things that they use for coping skills and coping mechanisms—whatever those things may be that they don’t have access to.
Mental health, I think, is going to be the wave of this thing that comes long after we’re whatever normal looks like again.
Long after we’re back to “normal,” mental health is going to be this huge wave that comes after that. People being able to recover from what we’ve just gone through.
And I agree with you. I feel like there’s this really delicate balance of being really mindful of your behaviors right now, and the wine and the cookies and all of that.
I am not giving strict advice either.
However, I’m also educating a lot on why people are suddenly reaching for the wine and the cookies and the sugar and all of that stuff, so that they understand what’s happening in the brain.
The brain function that’s saying, “Here are those things that I really want to eat right now.”
And then you can make this mindful and really intentional decision about what you want to do with that information, but at least knowing that it’s there.
Why We’re Craving Cookies, Wine & Sugar
Abel: Well, even you look at our dopamine and serotonin and all sorts of things are depleted and whacked out right now.
And our bodies will fight to try to figure out some way of doing it.
So, let’s talk about that. Why are we craving cookies, wine and that sort of thing right now?
Yeah, exactly, you started it. That’s one of the pieces.
Our dopamine and serotonin levels are already wacky right now because of our needs not being met, those basic survival needs.
But then also when we do eat a lot of sugar and processed food, alcohol, that also messes with our dopamine and serotonin level.
And so you’ve got this sort of chicken and egg thing going on.
You’ve also got this hyper-activated stress response system. So, you’ve got that nervous system dominance, that sympathetic nervous system dominance happening right now.
And when we have that sympathetic nervous system dominance—which everyone is in—every time you read a news article, talk to a friend, listen to a well-meaning podcast that’s talking about what’s going on…
Abel: Or see someone in a mask. This is one thing that’s been following me on the Internet now.
It’s like I’m trying to get away from this, and there are people in masks just popping up.
And you go, “Keep going.” But you can’t escape it now.
No, you’re right. You can’t. You’re right.
And that visual of seeing someone in a mask, it triggers your brain that says, “Danger.”
Your brain is just on alert. “Danger, danger, danger.”
And when that happens, it wants fast-acting sugar that can be converted to glucose right away to be able to fight the danger.
It’s just a survival mechanism.
So, your brain is going, “Give me all the food that I can convert really quickly to sugar.”
Well, what is that? That’s processed food. That’s sugar.
And it wants that, so it’s going to seek that out. So you’ve got that going in the background.
Then you’ve got sugar begets sugar.
So, the more sugar you eat, the more sugar your brain wants to eat.
There’s some of those kinds of addictive properties.
Then you’ve got the threat response system of, “We’re in danger, and I’m stressed out. And what’s going to make me feel better?”
Well, there’s good research to show that fat and sugary foods help turn down that threat response system, at least momentarily.
It does actually make you feel better in the moment. So, it’s looking for that.
Then you’ve got this decision fatigue. We are all under severe decision fatigue.
We wake up already fatigued because of the activation of our nervous system.
And then throughout the day all of our energy is going to kind of fighting the nervous system. What decisions need to be made throughout the day?
And by the time you get to the end of the day, this ability to access your prefrontal cortex that helps you make good decisions as you know, it’s barely even online anymore.
And you’re just going, “Give me whatever’s in front of me.”
So, you have all of these systems being activated in the background that are propelling you towards sugary and processed foods.
I don’t have to tell you this. You know this better than anybody.
But these are the foods that are not natural in our environment, and they have been inadvertently designed to trigger parts of the brain that are not supposed to be triggered by food.
And it’s all working in this, it’s like a perfect storm to be over-consuming mostly sugar and processed foods.
And I’m not necessarily trying to pick on those two, although I kind of am.
But those are the foods that our brain wants when this type of environment happens.
And it’s a really good indicator of just how unnatural it is in the body because those are the types of foods that the brain is going, “Hmm. Those are the things that are going to get me quick sugar. Those are the things that are going to turn down my threat response system.”
It’s a good indicator of just how, “damaging” sounds a little dramatic, but I guess it is. Of just how damaging those foods can be to our system.
Abel: Cavemen didn’t know about chocolate cake and Twinkies. They didn’t have the option.
They probably went after a big ol’ raw liver, or a joint bone, and a broth soup or something like that.
And actually, that’s one thing I will say is there are many traditional foods that you can cook with your family, getting everyone involved, that are comfort foods. But they’re not packed with sugar or nonsense.
And if you can double down on the savory broths, soups, pretending that it’s kind of a stay-at-home holiday on the weekend and making a turkey or a ham or something like that, and especially getting the kids involved.
This is the time to do that. And let’s go back to that.
The Importance of Daily Routines
Abel: How are you getting the family involved in a time when it’s like, you don’t have that shield or option to be alone or to have your private space or whatever.
So, you’re a little more vulnerable and maybe a little more cranky or short with people or whatever.
How do you educate and try to be a good example in spite of all this?
Yeah, man. That’s definitely been another big challenge when we’re all cooped up at home, is “How do you get that alone time and that space?”
Me, personally, when it’s not snowing 16 inches outside my window, I’m spending a lot of time walking and outside for a number of reasons.
That’s where I feel most grounded and connected to the Earth.
But also, managing that threat response system, managing my nervous system response includes time in nature and outside, vitamin D and all of those things.
It really has that impact, a physical impact on the body. I’m getting up earlier.
One of the things I’ve been talking a lot about is right now especially, when you say yes to certain things, you’re automatically saying no to others.
And it’s really important not to just try and pile a bunch of other things on top of what you’re already doing.
You really want to start to distinguish, “What am I saying ‘yes’ to which inevitably means I’m saying ‘no’ to something else, and that’s okay.”
For me, I say “Yyes” to getting up at 5:00 in the morning, which I realized some people are going, “What? That’s crazy. I want to say yes to sleep.”
I’m saying “no” on purpose to an extra hour of sleep so that I get that hour by myself.
I’m really saying “yes” to that moment by myself. No one else is up. Everybody’s sleeping. That’s my moment.
But your question about getting everybody involved, I think the other thing that’s really important, especially the people that I’m talking to, women are still sort of stereotypically taking on the role of managing the household.
Managing, “Where are we with the groceries? And what is the 30,000-foot view of going on with the household? Are we out of toilet paper yet?”
Not to stereotype. I’m certain that there are a number of men who are doing the same.
But as we take on some of those roles of managing the macro-level things going on in the house, it’s important for people to put on their oxygen mask first, is what I keep telling people.
I noticed for the first week of this, before I kind of figured out what it all was and how I was going to fit into it, like you said, I was short-tempered.
I was getting irritated easier. And I realized it was because I had stopped meditating. I had stopped belly breathing. I had stopped walking.
I had stopped doing all the things that I am very proactive and intentional about doing to manage my, just mental health and well-being on a daily basis.
And when we stop doing those things, everyone else suffers.
And so, while I think there’s a lot of people out there going, “I don’t have time to be selfish like that. I don’t have time.”
This is the moment where I say, “That is the only thing you have time for right now, is to start with you, is to start with your mental health and well-being, and then everyone else will benefit from you coming from this peaceful, calm place”
I hate to even say those words “peaceful” and “calm.”
I’m not sure anybody’s peaceful and calm right now.
But I can honestly say that when I am doing the things that I know I need to do to take care of my mental health and well-being, I have been pretty peaceful and calm during this time.
So yeah, it’s important. That oxygen mask needs to go on. That needs to be priority number one.
Abel: And it’s worth saying that a bomb just went off in everyone’s habits, as good or as bad as they may have been.
And I think the tendency for everyone, especially in this atmosphere of fear, is to scramble to try to solve every problem right now and then give up on all of them at the same time.
At least that’s how I feel.
And to your point too, like you stopped meditating and doing some of the other stuff you’re supposed to be doing, and me too.
One of the reasons for that is I realized the threat level went up to red, and it’s like, “Oh, security now is way more important than meditating to me today,” is what it felt like.
I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it felt true for a while.
Abel: But as this has gone on longer, it’s like “Oh, no. This is exactly when I do need to meditate more than ever.”
And it’s not like people say they don’t have 5, 10, 15 minutes a day.
If you’re stuck at home all day long, and even if you do have kids, like we’re all having quiet time.
That’s what we had growing up. It wasn’t meditating. It’s just like, “Everyone shut up for a minute.”
Yeah. Oh, for sure.
Abel: And we can ask for that. And we’ll all appreciate that, I think.
Resetting Your Nervous System
You can ask for that. And what you’re describing is this bomb went off, and everybody reacts to the bomb. It’s very reactionary.
“Okay, what are all the things? What are all the things I need to do? What are all the things? Where can I read? What can I ingest? How can I? How can I? How can I?”
That’s what we did for the first couple of weeks.
But then your nervous system, while it’s still activated into that sympathetic nervous system dominance, it starts to understand what to do in this new environment.
And so, all of the things that we layered on starts to shed and fall away, and we come back to our habitual patterns and behaviors.
And so, at least, I’m sure you saw it as well, when this whole thing happened, there was this bomb of, “Do this, do that. Free this, free that. Pivot this.”
There was all this information to be consumed and everything was happening all at once.
There is now a settling out of, “Alright, I’m kind of doing life in this new environment. And what is the cream that is rising to the top and what is falling away?”
The new online yoga class system that you got the same day that you got the new online cooking class at the same day you got the new whatever.
And all of that starts to kind of flutter away. And what rises to the top, are the things that your brain is used to doing.
And it starts to say, “Remember this thing. This is the thing that we’re used to. Homeostasis is what we like. Go back to that thing that we’re used to.”
And I think now that we’re starting to settle into a new normal, which we all know is temporary because we’re going to eventually be let out again.
Then there’s another new normal to get used to.
Now you can start to be more proactive and say, “Okay, I get it. How do I want my day to flow? Again, what am I going to say ‘yes’ to, which inevitably means saying no to other things?”
And that part is so important because people need to start letting things go.
Abel: Yes. Like misinformation, hopefully.
Abel: Fear-based media.
Yes. Please, yes. I don’t know about you, but when this first happened, I was reading a lot of news.
I’m not really reading any news anymore.
Abel: Yeah. I would say the same thing.
Didn’t you? Right? You felt like there was this moment where, “Consume, consume, consume.”
And then, again, the fear-based media, you start to let it go.
Abel: “Oh, this is junk food. It just makes me feel terrible about myself, and I can’t sleep anymore.”
Like, “Oh,” yeah.
But if anything, I can empathize even more with what a lot of people are going through.
And to your earlier point, I think something worth bringing up is that a lot of people are taking on mental damage during this time, and financial damage, and emotional, all sorts of things.
We’re all kind of digging a hole right now, and it’s going to take a while to undo that damage.
It’s not going to be, “Back to normal, everyone’s back to work, everything’s cool again,” even if everything were and that went okay, which is a whole other conversation.
But the damage is being done now, and we’re all going through different stages of this.
So what are some things that we might be able to do to mitigate the damage of isolation, of social distancing, of not being able to see or hug your mom or grandma, and all these really unprecedented things for humans?
Yeah. Yeah, I’m telling everybody that now is the most crucial time to pay attention to your nervous system, and to do things actively on a daily basis to make sure that you’re resetting it back into that parasympathetic rest and digest mode.
And these are really simple things, things like my favorite one is belly breathing.
I’m belly breathing as much as humanly possible right now, which is so easy to learn.
If anybody looks at belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, it’s super simple.
And every time I think about it, I think about belly breathing, because we’ve gotten in this bad habit, before any of this happened, of breathing really shallow into our chest cavity, which doesn’t allow the appropriate amount of oxygen to get to the lungs.
It doesn’t matter all the reasons why, but belly breathing has been shown to reset back to the parasympathetic nervous system quickly, efficiently and effectively.
It’s so easy, you don’t need anything to do it.
So, look up belly breathing. Do that as many times a day as possible.
Being outside in nature. We know from research that being in nature helps to reset the nervous system.
A 10-minute walk, a 10-minute moment outside.
And yes, I understand that probably some of your listeners, maybe they live in a city or a place that’s more difficult to get outside, but if you can, to the extent that you’re able, getting outside for 10 minutes.
Again, it’s so easy, that’s accessible to most people.
Meditation, that you’ve already mentioned. Look, even one to two minutes of breathing.
I know that meditation can be really overwhelming for some people, and they think they need to sit in 45 minutes with the chanting and mantras, and whatever.
If you do that, awesome. It does not need to be that, as you know.
A couple minutes in meditation, all of these things, they’re not luxuries.
From a physiological perspective, resetting the nervous system and the brain do a lot to tell your body it can calm down and it can function, the digestive system can function, the endocrine system can function, the musculoskeletal system can function.
All of these things are impacted by stress, and so, it’s a necessity for us to do these things, not a luxury.
So, belly breathing, meditation, walks, vitamin D, nature, gratitude.
Gratitude is my favorite thing right now. I don’t know if you have a gratitude practice.
Yeah, I’m sure you probably do. Again, I think people think of gratitude as this luxury of, “isn’t that nice?”
People who have airy-fairy ideas or writing down their gratitude list, now more than ever, to direct your brain, direct your attention to where it wants to focus.
You mentioned earlier the fear-based media that’s coming out.
The more you consume that fear-based, the bad news, all of those danger messages, the more your brain seeks out all of the fear, all of the bad news, all of those danger messages.
So, if you want to re-activate your brain to a place where it is experiencing more peace and calm and ease in this moment, it’s going to take intentional action to do that.
Because right now, just the reptilian brain looking for danger, it’s going to automatically go down that fear-based path.
That’s where it’s designed to go, that’s the neural pathway, the path of least resistance.
So, in order to switch that, which I’m doing on a daily basis, on purpose, I’m thinking of every tiny to large thing that I am grateful for, which trains your brain to continue to bring you those things to be grateful for.
And then, you get to go down a different neural pathway and have a different life experience, even in the worst of times.
It sounds hokey, but it’s incredibly powerful.
Abel: You’re programming yourself, is kind of how I think of it.
We want to think that we’re better, that we have some sort of higher function over our monkey body, but we really don’t.
And even over our minds, we don’t, unless we’re truly enlightened, and I’m not that enlightened.
Abel: To be able to do anything like that. We do need to, literally I write down lists and journal every day.
Sometimes it’s very work-based, sometimes it’s extremely creative, but gratitude is always a part of that.
And just writing down 3 simple things that you’re grateful for can take you 30 seconds.
It’s better if it takes three minutes, but you’re probably topping out in a few minutes.
But you feel it, and the psychological state that it tunes you into once you start doing that, maybe not the first few times, but after you do it for a while it is real and it matters.
And it makes a massive, massive difference.
And so are the masks and the faces with the masks that are following you with targeted advertising. That’s totally real, too.
When you go and see all of these headlines—which may or may not be true, let’s be honest—anyone who’s out there looking for information, and we all are, the sources that you’re going to, have they been true 100% of the time, or have they burned you a bunch of times?
And if they’ve burned you, then you’re probably still being burned.
And we’re all desperate to fight to find some sort of information.
I think one of the most frustrating things about all this is that a lot of the alternative sources of information, the real sources of information, have been snuffed out or censored and you can’t find it.
So, we’re all being shuffled into the fear-based media, but we want to be informed and we kind of have to be.
That balance is very difficult, but I think what I’m hearing you say is that it’s okay.
It’s okay to feel like you’re struggling, and that this is difficult, and that we have to find a way through this because we do.
This is completely unprecedented for anyone alive right now.
And we’re going to have to find a new way out of it.
But I think, for me anyway, it only emphasizes the things that have always been important.
If you don’t want to catch a bug, then you’ve got to practice some prevention.
And that starts with mental health, I think, and ends with mental health, too.
I mean, yes. You’re talking to the… Yeah. It starts and ends with mental health.
Abel: I’m not just kissing up to you. I swear. I really believe that.
No. No, no. I believe that you do, and I am a person who wholeheartedly believes that it starts and ends with mental health.
And you said, not only is it okay, it’s so normal.
And in fact, it was biologically designed so that we would stay alive.
If your brain didn’t know how to quickly pick up on dangerous information right away, then our species wouldn’t be here, because that’s how we survive.
So, it’s giving ourselves a little slack and going, “Okay, there’s nothing wrong with me.”
The full range of emotions, whatever you’re experiencing.
And that’s another thing I should mention.
There is no right way to experience emotions right now. Because of our history, because of our conditioning, because of each individual circumstance, we will all experience a crisis differently.
Some people are experiencing anger. Some people are experiencing panic. Some people are experiencing grief and loss.
Some people are experiencing peace and ease.
There are a lot of people whose brains were developed, actually me in particular, so my brain was developed in trauma.
I lost my mother at a year old, and so my fight-or-flight mode has been triggered pretty much my entire life.
Strangely enough for me, at a time like this, I am almost in my natural environment.
As my husband is like, “This is eerie. You’re doing fine.”
And the truth is there’s no right or wrong to it.
I have certainly experienced my emotions go up and down.
But depending on your very unique and specific to your situation, you could experience a whole broad range of emotions from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed.
So, it’s another important piece of information to not then judge yourself on top of the emotions of what you’re supposed to be feeling or how you’re supposed to be experiencing this time.
What I keep telling everybody is, “The only thing I want you to do is to not try and numb it or make it go away.”
That we need to teach our bodies and our neural pathways that we are capable of experiencing big emotions.
Your body thinks it’s going to kill you. It’s not. No one has ever died of an emotion, but that’s what it thinks.
So it says, “Oh, stop. Put something on top of it. Numb out, eat, drink, watch TV. Do something to stop whatever feeling is coming up.”
That’s the only thing I don’t want people doing because being a mind-body practitioner, when we don’t let those feelings come to the surface, they stay.
They live in the body in a different place, in a different organism, in a different area of the body.
It will come out at some point, and it probably won’t come out the way that you want it to then if you don’t experience it now.
Abel: Yeah. What about kids? How are they dealing with all this, at least in your experience?
Man, it’s funny you asked that.
My first-grader this morning just said to me, “Mom, I feel like I’m skipping through life, like I’m growing up too fast.”
Abel: That’s very profound.
And I just went, “Ah.” It took me a minute.
It took my breath away for a minute because I’m like, “That’s exactly what it feels like, doesn’t it?”
That we’re skipping through, we’re kind of being catapulted through life right now, all at the same time, where it feels like Groundhog Day every day.
Man, kids, this is really important to me because kids, especially little kids, pick up on all of the energy around us so acutely.
They’re absorbing not what you say, but who you are and how you feel and the energy that’s emanating from every room.
They’re so perceptive like that naturally until as adults that gets kind of beaten out of us, and we get told how to feel and whatever.
But kids so naturally, if you watch them, are able to pick up on energy.
So without a doubt, we have felt it as adults, I’m sure.
Any grocery store you walk into, even if you are blissfully calm and you’ve meditated before you’ve gone into the grocery store, you don’t even have to talk to a soul.
You walk into that grocery store, and man, you can feel that energy. It’s heavy, right?
So kids are feeling it all. And I think it’s more important than ever to acknowledge this is really hard.
You may have some emotions or feelings that you can’t even describe right now.
“We can do hard things,” Glennon Doyle always says. “We can do hard things.”
I love her for that phrase. We can.
We can experience a full range of emotion and survive and be okay and come out stronger.
And so it’s sort of allowing them to and giving them the space to go, “You don’t have to be afraid of this big thing that you’re feeling even if you can’t describe it. It’s okay to feel it. I’m feeling it with you.”
And you can do it. You’re going to come out okay on the other side of it, whatever that big emotion is.
Because I think what happens for them is they feel this big energy, depending on the age of the kids, even into teens. They don’t know how to describe it.
They don’t know how to understand what it feels like to feel their safety being threatened, to feel the lack of connection and love and belonging, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
They don’t know what that means. They just know that it doesn’t feel good. It just feels kind of icky.
So we need to give them the space to be able to experience whatever this big emotion is and also let them know, “I have faith in you that you can have this big emotion and feel it all the way through. And it’s going to be okay on the other side.”
Which gives them that permission to go, “Okay, whatever this is.”
In my household, we’re dancing. We’re shaking. We’re crying. We’re moving the energy through our bodies.
If you were to come over to my house, you might go, “Wow, that is some woo woo stuff going on over there.”
Abel: It’s so real, though. I’m sure you’re familiar with the animal models of that, like after a prey animal is chased.
They shake, and they do all this crazy stuff. It’s exactly how you deal with that.
That’s what we do. You’ve got to get it out of the body because when it lives in there, that’s when it becomes something you don’t want it to be.
But my kiddo, she’ll scream into a pillow. She’ll run around the island in our kitchen, whatever it takes.
It’s her body dispelling whatever this weird energy is.
And it’s exactly right. Animals, after they’ve gone on a big run or have escaped whatever danger, they shake.
Abel: Yeah, and it helps just get all those nasty stress hormones kind of flowing again and getting everything flowing again.
And for me even just using the muscles, I’ve been trying not to run too far and too hard or lift too hard or anything like that right now.
And I think that’s really important, that people kind of reevaluate what their goals are because you have to.
No matter who you may be, you have to re-evaluate your goals.
One thing that’s been really powerful for me has been just, if I literally go through the motions of an exercise and just feel me use that muscle, then that’s enough.
And I might keep going a little bit more, but for me that’s enough right now.
I love that you’re saying that. I love that you’re giving your community permission to not to push it too hard right now.
More people need to be giving people permission to not overdo it.
The body is so taxed in so many different ways that the go hard, work hard, train hard, all of that right now is going to make it worse in the long run.
So, I’m sorry I interrupted you. I love that you’re giving people permission to do that.
Abel: Well, yeah, and it’s hard.
And I think especially if you’re struggling financially—that’s the whole agent of control in our whole society, let’s be honest—and that especially, the financial future of ourselves and our kids.
Unless you’re a giant business or friend of politicians who are getting trillions of dollars printed for you right now, your savings is being completely destroyed and maybe your children’s future.
Unless you’re a giant business or friend of politicians who are getting trillions of dollars printed for you right now, your savings is being completely destroyed and maybe your children’s future. Click To Tweet
And it’s like, during times of normal when it feels like the stakes aren’t totally high, it’s easy to go crush your workout. But that’s probably going to be the hardest thing you do that day.
And for us now, our workouts aren’t the hardest thing that we’re doing.
And so, yeah, I think we have a set amount of energy, and what you said as well is profound. When you say “yes” to one thing, you have to say “no” to something else.
For me, it’s like, I did not drink last night because I knew that I’d be recording 5 or 6 podcasts today, and I don’t want to feel bad.
But, like the nights before I will have a couple of glasses of wine or a beer or whatever and just try to relax for a bit.
And then I’ll wake up the next morning and not be able to work as hard and not crush a workout or whatever.
So I think it’s important that we really kind of spread those things around, and you don’t try to hyper-specialize right now.
Yeah, I agree. Yeah, what you just described is the exact definition of intentionally trying to prioritize and being really mindful of what you’re prioritizing.
It is not all about everything that we tried to cram into our lives before this.
Which, side note, maybe a really interesting way of Mother Nature saying, “Guess what? It was always too much. And let me teach you how to slow down.”
And I love the description of, “Listen, I know what my day is going to be like, and here’s what I am willing to accomplish today.”
Versus, “Here’s all of the things that I can accomplish and how can I put this in and squeeze that in, and squeeze this in.”
At least for me, it’s been this beautiful opportunity to practice surrender.
No matter how hard I push right now, there are just so many things that are beyond my control.
And if anything, this has been a moment to go, “You know what? Maybe it’s the opposite of pushing that is what is necessary in this moment.”
Abel: How un-American of you.
How un-American of me.
Look, it’s been something I’ve been trying to really lean into in my life for a couple of years now, this idea of surrender.
And this has been a sort of forced experiment in it.
And I’ll be honest, it’s woo, I get it. But the more I let go, the easier it becomes.
And that’s not a let go and, “Forget it, I don’t care about anything.”
You of all people probably get this concept of surrender of, “The more I stop pushing and forcing and trying and harder and more in control.”
That is the reptilian part of the brain.
The more I let go and get into rest and digest, and ease and flow and take the foot off the gas pedal, everything else becomes easier and also comes more naturally.
What an interesting time for us to let go.
I think that for a lot of people, it sounds really scary.
“Oh, my gosh. I don’t know where my paycheck is coming from. I don’t know where I’m going to live.”
These are all very real things.
But what’s so interesting is that when we grip so tightly and when we hold on so tightly, the very definition of that puts us into that stress dominance, which shuts off our access to creativity, ideas and other ways to actually get out of that situation.
So the harder we grip, the harder it is for us to see a way out, which is, that is the paradox of it, right?
Abel: Yeah, but as our external environment and world is completely out of our control, especially right now, it seems, maybe we can take more ownership of that internal world like you talk about.
Whether that’s just your home or literally inside of your temples.
Abel: We can practice that right now, and you need to be intentional about it, though.
I think one thing that’s good is, since I’ve allowed myself, I took a few weeks off from some things to work on other things like getting our house in order.
And if I had been recording 5 or 6 podcasts every day throughout this or even every week throughout this, I’d be insane right now.
And so, everyone needs to find that different balance.
But I don’t forget that I love doing this and connecting with you and doing my work right now.
It’s a great time to get some work done when you set time aside for it and prioritize it.
It’s a great time for not getting work done, too, and especially if no one’s making money out there.
If everyone’s hurting, it’s not a great time to be gunning it hard and trying to make your next $10 million or build a $200-million company or whatever else may have been the goal someone was attached to, or even just try to get above water.
A lot of people don’t have that luxury, including ourselves right now.
Pretty much everyone who’s trying to do anything is incurring some amount of cost and hardship right now.
But that’s okay, because the more people I talk to and connect with, anyway, whether it’s on a coaching basis or it’s with other leaders like you of the movement, the better I feel about how much we are going to figure this out together.
And it’s not like these problems that we’re up against, the idea of a massive bug going around and tons of people getting it, this is something that happens very cyclically.
It was a very predictable thing to have happened.
What wasn’t as predictable was that everything would collapse at the same time.
But maybe that’s an indication that this wasn’t the best system to begin with, and it was not serving us.
We’re surrounded by poisons. We’re up against so many things.
So maybe from the bottom up—it’s not going to be from the top down—but from the bottom up, we can put in the work over the next few months and years ahead to make that world we want for your children to grow up, and where they don’t feel like they’re skipping in into this dystopia that they don’t deserve, that we didn’t vote for.
So, I think the longer this goes on, the more I realize that when you take ownership of your internal world, the external world, hopefully, will start to reflect that a little bit more.
Oh, man. I love that you’re getting into that.
I feel like there is a collective consciousness—and you’re part of it—that has been trying to sort of rise up and talk about exactly what you’re talking about, this internal world, and taking responsibility for who we are being on a minute-to-minute basis and how that affects the entire ecosystem.
And I just, I think this is a beautiful moment for those of us who are really connected to that movement to step up to our calling.
For me, yeah, my business has been impacted, and my life has been impacted.
I’m in no different place than anybody else.
And yet I have felt more than ever, this call to just serve and help people and be there for people and, “What do you need, and how can I help?”
And in this world that I think some of us would really like to see emerge, that is the basis of business and how the world turns is, “How can I take ownership of my own internal landscape and then use that to be the best, to be in service to everyone around me?”
And if that was the collective consciousness of our universe, think about all the amazing things that we could do together.
That is the calling that I’m feeling.
Side note, you can’t even cough these days without people getting like… it’s like, “I’m just thirsty, I just need a drink of water.”
Abel: Well, something comes to mind.
If the tyrants are going to be so opportunistic right now, trying to take over the world then why can’t we be?
Why can’t we say, “You know what? We’re going to stand up, not for that world. We’re going to ignore that to the extent that we can because that’s not what we want. And we didn’t vote for it and we never will. We never will.”
And so it’s up to us to kind of create our own woo world in our own woo way.
It’s going to work, at least for a portion of people. And I know that because we’re never giving up. You’re never giving up.
Yeah, that’s right.
Abel: And we’re not the only ones who feel this way, so we need each other more than ever.
Where o Find Eliza Kingsford
Abel: We’re almost out of time. Obviously, we could talk all day.
Oh, man. Are we already?
Abel: But let’s talk about what you’re working on next and where people can find you, as well.
Honestly, it’s been interesting. You talk about what are we doing right now and the next $10-million business and whatever.
Abel: You don’t have to talk about that.
I’m not talking about that because, honestly, right now, I have changed my practice.
I’m seeing people on Telehealth who need help.
It’s sort of like this moment where I’m going, “What do you need? How can I serve?”
I’ve got some online courses.
And people are struggling with food, and they’re struggling with their relationship to food and body. That’s kind of my specialty. That’s what I do.
And if you need help, if you’re struggling, I’m there.
Just come find me. Reach out. I do answer all of my emails.
People think that’s funny and they go, “Wait. It’s you. You’re writing back to me.”
I do. I still answer all my emails.
And would just love to be of service to anybody who feels like they need help in that area is kind of what I’m doing right now.
Abel: And I would encourage all of you listening to go check out Eliza’s work and also the past interview that you did on this show, talking about some more of your specialties.
But I think, yeah, what’s most useful right now is connecting one-to-one, it seems, or really connecting with people, not necessarily buying another book or doing another course.
It’s like, “Let’s talk to each other. What do you really need right now?”
Absolutely. What do you really need? Where is your community?
That Maslow’s need of love and belonging, we’re all really struggling in that.
Where can you find your community and connect to people in a personal way?
I think that’s a good uprising which I’m in favor of.
Abel: Absolutely. Well, Eliza, I love your work and I love what you do.
Abel: Thank you so much for doing it. All of you who are listening, please go check out Eliza online.
Before You Go…
Here’s a note that came in from Nitiana. She says:
Hi! Since you ask for reviews, here it is!
I have listened to your podcast on and off for quite some time, well over a year. One of things I like is the perspective of opinions.
For example, you recently had a speaker during a podcast that commented on Game Changers. I had never considered his point of view. Right or wrong, it makes us think and reconsider what we watch.
Secondly, I especially like how you interlace some of your core concepts into almost every podcast, creating a sense of consistency, and not a one time thing.
For example, you have several podcasts about intermittent fasting. But you also often, during other podcasts, comment on how your intermittent fasting is going.
Most of all, I love that you speak highly of your wife!
My husband does the same, and that’s one of the reasons I listen.
Thank you again for what you do.
These words touch my heart. And I mean what I say about my life, I wouldn’t be standing here literally without my wife—she’s saved my life in multiple ways on multiple occasions, and we’re in this together.
I really mean that, and not the clichéd way. My wife and I have been at this for coming up on 10 years, working on this podcast, the website and the coaching community and all the rest of it, and I really appreciate that you listen to the show because of that relationship.
I do really try to follow the people who have been able to maintain healthy relationships throughout their lives.
And thankfully, both on my side of the family and on Alyson’s side of the family, our parents are not only still alive and doing well, but they’re together. So we have wonderful examples, generations ahead of us, of happy couples entering into the next stages of life.
And so, for all of you happy couples out there, thank you for listening and we love you.
And all of those aspiring happy couples out there, don’t give up, even during these very challenging times. There are wonderful people out there and they’re waiting for you.
One other quick thing that you said that I’ve heard other listeners echo, is that you appreciate that I have a diversity of opinions and a wide variety of guests on this show.
I think it’s very important to maintain an open mind and be able to ask questions throughout all of this.
I don’t mind if I’m talking to someone who’s 100% carnivore, or someone who’s 100% plant-based, I think we are all experts in our own ways, and we need each other in these different self experiments that we have going on.
And I think that’s why we’re all here.
So I appreciate the experimenters and the scientists out there and everyone in between. We need all of the health nuts we can get.
So please do keep in touch, and if you want to help this show keep on coming to you, if you want to help support our team and keep us well caffeinated, now there’s a way to do it.
We just set up a tip jar and a Patreon channel, where you can get our uncensored and un-shadowbanned content.
And you can also get in touch with me, my wife and the team, personally, one-on-one.
We’ve set up coaching and I’ve already started coaching some folks from across the pond.
So if you’d like to get in touch with me one-on-one or you’re looking for a bit of extra help, whether it’s health-related, performance-related or even if you are a small business, I’m coaching some entrepreneurs, as well.
So the way that you can get in touch is by going to fatburningman.com/tipjar.
Also, you can look me up on Patreon, look up Abel James, you can find my channel there.
And for as little as a few bucks a month, you can join our coaching communities, and we have a lot of exciting announcements coming up.
This is worldwide internationally, no matter where you are, if you’d like to join our community and also get in touch personally, then please visit fatburningman.com/tipjar.
We couldn’t do this without you.
And I really mean that, and I love hearing from you. You guys and gals are our people.
Alright, so another way, if you’re in the States, that you can help support this show is by visiting Wilduperfoods.com.
And we have some very exciting news to share with you here today.
We have a couple of new products that are finally ready for you, after years, and I’ve got a couple right here.
We have Adrenal Stack. And this is a combination of adaptogenic herbs and nutrients. I’ve been taking this personally for years.
It includes a combination of B vitamins, vitamin C, ginseng, ashwagandha, rhodiola, liquorice, many things that can help support us and give us a little boost during challenging times.
So, if you’re in the U.S., you can find Adrenal Stack now over at WildSuperfoods.com.
International folks please hold out or join us over on the Patreon channel. We are working on the international thing, but especially given the modern world, it’s getting quite challenging.
Okay, so the other one is Collagen Cocoa. This is a grass-fed bone broth protein.
Man, we have tried literally hundreds of different powders of various kinds, proteins, all sorts of different formulations.
And we do stand behind that this is some of the very best tasting hot or cold protein-based powder, but you can also use it in some of our recipes as a substitute for Cocoa powder.
So, you’re actually getting bone broth, and I know that that sounds kind of weird, that tastes like chocolate.
And we really enjoy this. Drinking Collagen Cocoa is a lovely little ritual. It doesn’t have any caffeine in it, it doesn’t have any nasty fillers or anything like that.
So, hot or cold, it’s a really wonderful way to get your protein in from a high quality source, without having to go to the farmers market and get all these joint bones, and pieces of cartilage, and bird feet, and whatever, throw it in the slow cooker for hours.
We do that as often as we can, but that’s really for the more hardcore people.
And if you’re in this for the nutrients, for the health and the lifestyle, or especially if you’re looking for something that lasts on a shelf that’s convenient for families, please take a look at Collagen Cocoa over at Wild Superfoods.
One of the things that I’ll just bring up quickly, because if you are international, I’ll just say this, since we can’t offer Wild Superfoods internationally, if you do, especially if you join our Patreon channel or our coaching community, one of the things I’ve been able to do is answer your questions about your own supplement companies, that you might have in your own country.
And I can help point you in the right direction, or say, “This is an ingredient that you really have to watch out for” or “I wouldn’t go with this company because I know the dirty laundry that I would never say publicly.” But trust me, I have a lot of that.
So anyways, what you want to look for is not the cheapest supplements out there. You want to look for a high quality clean source, and the way that we do it and the way that I would recommend that you find any company out there is that you look for a premium but valuable source of high quality nutrients, that’s also a clean list of ingredients and doesn’t have a bunch of nasty fillers.
So these companies, if you look for the right one, only make a small amount of money, and they’re charging you because they actually fill up your containers with quality ingredients.
We spent working on this one. And when you open up our containers, it’s not like a bag of chips, when you opened it up and there’s just a tiny amount in the bottom. You get value and these are literally the supplements that we take ourselves.
So please, if you’re interested, go to WildSuperfoods.com.
And if you’re international, and if you have questions about supplements, I’m very happy to answer them and point you in the right direction. So go to fatburningman.com/tipjar for that.
Okay, enough rambling, thank you for listening. We’re really excited about this, if you can’t tell.
What did you think of this interview with Eliza Kingsford? Drop a comment below to share your thoughts on mental health while we’re living in such close quarters.