The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 1

Episode 18

S1E18 – Messy, Beautiful Journey with Jen Fugo

Jen Fugo, MS, LDN, CNS is a clinical nutritionist empowering adults who’ve been failed by conventional medicine to beat chronic skin and unending gut challenges. She has experience working with conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff + hives — with clientele ranging from regular folks to celebrities + professional athletes. Jennifer is the founder of Quell skincare + supplements specifically for people struggling with these chronic skin issues.

She holds a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and is a Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. Her work has been featured on Dr. Oz, Reuters, Yahoo!, CNN, and many podcasts and summits. Jennifer is a faculty member of the LearnSkin platform, an Amazon best-selling author, and the host of the Healthy Skin Show.

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About our Guest

Jennifer Fugo, MS, LDN, CNS is a clinical nutritionist empowering adults who’ve been failed by conventional medicine to beat chronic skin and unending gut challenges.

She has experience working with conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff + hives — with clientele ranging from regular folks to celebrities + professional athletes. Jennifer is the founder of Quell skincare + supplements specifically for people struggling with these chronic skin issues. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and is a Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. Her work has been featured on Dr. Oz, Reuters, Yahoo!, CNN, and many podcasts and summits. Jennifer is a faculty member of the LearnSkin platform, an Amazon best-selling author, and the host of the Healthy Skin Show.

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Jen Fugo

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein: Hello, and welcome to The Natural Evolution produced by Rebel Health Tribe, a radio show focused on providing you with inspiration, education, and tools for true healing and transformation. I’m Michael, and I’ll be your guide on this adventure as together we explore the very nature of the healing journey. And we’re live, I am recording now with my good friend, Jen Fugo. Jen, thanks for doing this.

Jen Fugo:

Thank you for having me. I’m excited for this. This is a totally different conversation than I normally have, so I’m waiting for it today.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. We’ve had you on a couple of times to teach us about skin and gut things, and we’re probably not going to talk a ton about that today. So it’ll be fun. This will be more like conversations we’ve had for the last hour when we weren’t recording. I’ve known Jen a long time. Our audience probably, most people are familiar with your work, but if somebody’s not, I’m going to go through a little short introduction and then we’ll get right into your own story.

So Jen Fugo is a clinical nutritionist empowering adults who’ve been failed by conventional medicine to beat chronic skin and unending gut challenges. She has experience working with conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, and hives with clientele ranging from regular folks to celebrities and professional athletes. She’s the founder of Quell Skincare and Supplements specifically for people struggling with these chronic skin issues.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and is a licensed dietician, nutritionist and certified nutrition specialist. Her work has been featured on Dr. Oz, Reuters, Yahoo, CNN, many podcasts and summits. And she’s a faculty member of the LearnSkin platform and Amazon Bestselling Author and the host of Healthy Skin Show. Not a lot there. Just a couple of things.

Jen Fugo:

No. Just a couple.

Michael Roesslein:

I didn’t even realize you’ve gotten your dietician license.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. In Pennsylvania when you register as a nutritionist you become a licensed… It’s an LDN, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist.

Michael Roesslein:

I saw that and I’m like, “Low-dose naltrexone?” [crosstalk 00:02:05] That’s cool. That’s a lot of schooling. I remember when you were in your master’s program [crosstalk 00:02:12] a few years ago now, right?

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. I almost quit. I almost quit. I’m glad that I pulled through. I’m glad I had a really great study partner that was like, “No, don’t quit.” I was actually talking today and I don’t know if this’ll just be slightly helpful for your audience, but I used to be the type of person that would just… I’d start things and then I would quit. And I felt like I was a really good… What do they call that personality type, the quick starter personality type that [crosstalk 00:02:39]

Michael Roesslein:

I don’t know, but I’m at that too. I’m that.

Jen Fugo:

But the last, I would say, maybe five years that I have realized that when I used to say, “That’s the way that I am,” it was almost an excuse to not do the work that was necessary to stay the course of things that I was really passionate about. And now I can say that that’s not the case for me because I have a podcast that now is 200 episodes.

So there’s moments where I’m like, “High five, Jen. Good job. You’ve actually learned how to stay the course, see things through and continue the level of enthusiasm you need to just make it…” It’s not just like just showing up. I actually genuinely love what I do, which I feel really grateful for.

Michael Roesslein:

I think that might have something to do with you finishing the things.

Jen Fugo:

Finishing the things [crosstalk 00:03:33]

Michael Roesslein:

No, but that you actually like the things that you’re doing-

Jen Fugo:

Yes. I mean-

Michael Roesslein:

… probably leads to more finishing.

Jen Fugo:

It does. It does. Although I will admit that I loved what I was studying in school, it was just so much. There’s a lot of times in life where you feel like you have this layer of every day stuff you got to deal with and then you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to do this. And I’m going to do that.” And “Oh, I’m going to go back for a master’s degree and I’m going to…”

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. And-

Jen Fugo:

And it gets to a point where you’re like-

Michael Roesslein:

[crosstalk 00:04:01] right now.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. It’s really hard because you feel like you’re being pulled in 1,000,001 directions and you start to say, “Well, what can I take off my plate?” And you begin to lose interest in things. I, at least, start to become resentful. When I’m pulled in too many different directions, I start to get angry and feel like my life and my time is not my own. And that’s not a healthy place for me to be [crosstalk 00:04:25]

Michael Roesslein:

I can absolutely relate. And I am right now in two professional trainings, running two businesses, launching one of them and planning an international move. So I’m in that, and then when I get resentful or angry, I am reminded lovingly that I am the one who chose all of these things to be doing and so there’s nobody to be resentful to-

Jen Fugo:

Choices.

Michael Roesslein:

… other than my own choices. So there’s light at the end of the tunnel though, both my training’s over in the fall and the move and then I’m not allowed to sign up for any new things until next year. Luckily I have someone who keeps me in line, in this regard, so I totally get it. And I’m glad you finished school too and the podcast has been a huge success.

I know a lot of our people listen to it and I see posts about it in our Facebook group sometimes. And our own… Usually people beat me to it. I tag you or put your website when people post in our Facebook group asking skin related questions. And now it’s got to the point where our people will usually respond to it faster than I do, and so we have-

Jen Fugo:

That’s really nice to hear [crosstalk 00:05:31]

Michael Roesslein:

… people in our community that link you in our group to your stuff when people ask for skin advice.

Jen Fugo:

Well that makes me really happy because I can’t do it myself. As you know, that’s part of the reason why when you started, Rebel Health Tribe is great because you have such a great community, but you realize in the grand scheme of things, we have so much control over our life, but the truth is, for ideas to spread and for change to really happen, we have to work together as a community.

And so having a community that really does support and look out for others around them, I think it’s important. I think there is an importance in life to being somewhat selfish, but in the same respect, we also have to look out for those around us and have a sense of a stake in realizing that other people who are ill, who are not well does impact us. It might not be directly, it might be, but it might not be.

And could we do something even if it’s just passing along one piece of information or an article or a podcast or whatever to… It might not immediately lessen that person’s suffering, but it may open the door to a path that they never even could have imagined. So I just think that’s really cool. [crosstalk 00:06:45]

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. For sure. Yeah. Our group is super active. I mean, it’s great. Yeah. People post questions and other people answer the questions and then I stumble upon the post four days later and it’s already been solved. So it’s a very low maintenance Facebook group to operate because they’re so proactive and knowledgeable themselves. So it’s great.

When we first met, I don’t think you… You weren’t skin. Gluten-free was your focus, which was your first step though, in your journey though because that was probably the first step you took back in your own journey that was like, “Oh, this makes a difference.” So I’m curious on that evolution sort of, but more on your own evolution was, did you want to be a nutritionist, an health person when you were growing up? Was this an interest of yours?

Jen Fugo:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

No?

Jen Fugo:

Not at all. No.

Michael Roesslein:

Only one guest has said yes to that question so far. It’s funny.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. I actually wanted to be a fashion designer, which is something that I actually pursued.

Michael Roesslein:

Did you?

Jen Fugo:

I did end up pursuing. I was very gifted in science and in art when I was in high school to the point where I had the-

Michael Roesslein:

[crosstalk 00:08:01] science and art?

Jen Fugo:

Science and art. Yes. And I had the head biology professor in my high school and then the head of the art department who were fighting over where I was going to go to college and what I was going to study. I was very proficient in both, with the exception of physics and chemistry. I hated physics and chemistry. And still to this day, chemistry is the bane of my existence. Biochem, I love, but not-

Michael Roesslein:

I am not a fan.

Jen Fugo:

But chemistry, not so much. And I think to some degree I was a sheltered kid in that I lived in the suburbs. I wasn’t from the city. I mean, we’re not far from the city, but fashion design is an incredibly toxic environment, which for anybody who’s seen… In hindsight, I had wished that I had read, or the book, Devil Wears Prada, had existed before I went to college. I would’ve made a different choice, because it was very accurate.

Michael Roesslein:

Is that about the clothing industry?

Jen Fugo:

Yes. And when I read that after I graduated, I was like, “Oh wow. I, would’ve probably made a much different decision.” But I love history. I love art history. I really love design. I actually am a very proficient crocheter when I have time. I hate knitting, but I love to crochet. I learned as a child.

Michael Roesslein:

I’ll pretend like I know what the difference is.

Jen Fugo:

One hook [crosstalk 00:09:32]. That was what I wanted to do but 9/11 really threw a huge wrench in that. I mean, in hindsight, I don’t know that I’ve ever said this before or thought of it, but maybe I’m kind of grateful that that happened. Just not in the grand scheme of things, obviously, because it was horribly traumatic, but it did push me in a much different trajectory because the fashion industry was falling apart at that point because of what had happened in New York.

We had the super warm winter and I was forced to basically go back home, and my dad was a doctor, so I ended up working in healthcare, believe it or not, as his, I guess, an aid, so to speak. I would work in the rooms with patients with him. And I got to see the disaster of a healthcare system that we have and just how awful people’s health situations were, because he worked mostly with elderly folks.

Our population was predominantly black and Hispanic. And so I got to see firsthand just diabetics coming in with missing part of their foot or part of a leg and just curiously asking them, “Hey what do you eat?” I don’t know why I started asking now, but I was curious and they would tell me, and they said that their doctor said that that was fine. It was okay to drink gallons of diet soda every day.

And I was just so perplexed by the fact that no one was being encouraged otherwise to take a more vested interest in their health and acting as if the food and their dietary choices played no role. And so it was really hard to watch, in a sense, because you’re seeing these people who are wonderful individuals and they’re well-meaning. They just weren’t given the greatest direction because that’s the standard of care.

Michael Roesslein:

So it wasn’t a thing growing up, “I’m going to do this. I want to be interested in this.” And you explored some of your other avenues first, which I did too. I was a teacher out of school, actually.

Jen Fugo:

Oh, you were?

Michael Roesslein:

I taught high school for two years. Well, almost two years, about a year and three quarters. Yeah. And then went back to the service industry because I could make more working less hours bartending than I could teaching which speaks volumes to the American educational system. But it was your own…

I’m guessing there was a reason that you got pulled towards this kind of work and the pattern I’m seeing so far in recording these podcast episodes is that it might’ve had something to do with how your own health was going and how your own life trajectory was.

Jen Fugo:

Absolutely. Well, this time… So I move back home. I have to. I have to go work for my parents, which felt at the time like not a great thing. I didn’t want to move back home. I wanted to be in New York. And I began… So I’m seeing all this pattern, this happening with the patients and whatnot and realizing the system’s not really messed up. And I started about, I guess, a year or two later beginning to have really bad health problems. And I [crosstalk 00:12:55]

Michael Roesslein:

Is this in your 20s?

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. So I had moved back around 2004. I’m not necessarily shy about this per se, but I really struggled after 9/11 mentally. I was in Times Square when all of that went down and it was my worst nightmare. And so I had to leave New York City for a while and I was not sure that I was actually ever going to go back because I just was so traumatized by everything that I saw and witnessed and everything.

I’d have nightmares. And I couldn’t, even for years… 4th of July was hard. I would freak out and I didn’t… I tried to be like, “No, it’s just fireworks,” but it just sounded like bombs going off, which, I mean, that’s essentially what they are, but-

Michael Roesslein:

Pretty much what it is.

Jen Fugo:

It would elicit this response and cause me to cry and be really upset. It was just… So I did eventually go back, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. Anyway, fast forward, I had to move home. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I spent the last four years planning on this one thing and I’m working for my parents, which was not great.

And so I started to have worsening diarrhea and gas and bloating and feeling really exhausted. I had blood work done and my doctor, who’s great, I love him, but he didn’t know what to make of it. He’s just like, “You look fine,” and I didn’t feel fine. I knew something was wrong. Stomach problems run in my family so it just felt like it was normal to have to go to the bathroom after you eat. And I just couldn’t get anywhere.

I wasn’t feeling better. I was probably also over-exercising. And I think that was partially a way to cope with feeling out of control. I didn’t know what I was doing in my career, in my life. I had no trajectory. I just didn’t really have a plan. And that was the one thing I felt like I could really control, was I could go to the gym for four hours and that’s too much. I’m going to tell you now that’s too much. And so I ended up…

A cousin of mine was really into holistic health in LA and I went out to stay with her for about a week, and she connected me with a nutritionist who was just like, “These are not normal symptoms.” And then asked me, “Do you know what gluten is?” I had never heard of gluten before. And I’m like, “You want me to cut out all the foods that… I’m Italian, what…”

So I did it. I did do it and I noticed a huge improvement in my symptoms within just three days. It wasn’t like a miracle, but it was pretty substantial for me to stop eating gluten in a short period of time because it stopped a lot of the GI distress that I was having. And that’s where I started to dig in and realized that I had to make some different choices.

And that was honestly the moment when I started caring a lot more about what those patients were doing beyond their medication. I started asking questions that I would have never asked before, because now I’m reading these books and reading websites and looking at my health in such a different way that I never… It never occurred to me that…

I knew something was wrong in telling someone, “Oh, you’re diabetic, have some, I don’t know, corn flakes with milk and banana before you go to bed. That’s a good bedtime snack as a diabetic.” I mean, now I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s a disaster.” But these are recommendations that patients would tell me they were told.

Michael Roesslein:

My dad’s been a insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetic since 1998. So I’m very familiar with the eat-whatever-you-want, just-put-more-insulin-in-your-shot advice that he got from his doctor. If you eat a bunch of candy or other crap, you just put extra insulin in the thing. And I was like, “This is not good advice.” I knew that in 1998, when I was in college. I didn’t study nutrition at all. Just something about that.

He’s like, “Yeah, doctor says I can eat whenever I want. I just needed to put more insulin in my shot.” And I’m like, “I don’t think that’s true, but I’m a freshman in college and he’s a doctor, so maybe.” And then later on, I learned that it’s definitely not true, and then I would…

And it took a long time, but he finally stopped doing that, which is really exciting. But I’ve seen… And even within the diabetes, I don’t know the right organization to throw under the bus right now, but the association that tells them what to do will have a fundraising event with crispy cream or Dunkin’ Donuts.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. And let me tell you. So when I did eventually start my masters in nutrition, I took a… Okay. I admit I was trying to save some money. So I went to a local community college for this one introductory to nutrition class. It was a required prerequisite. It was taught by an RD and listen, I don’t… I’m not throwing RDs under the bus.

I have a ton of friends that are RDs, who think really creatively and are awesome people. So it’s not all RDs, but this RD was a diabetic educator and she said in our class that sugar consumption and simple carb consumption is not responsible at all for causing diabetes. And I was like, “Dad, you’re a doctor. What do you think about this?” And he’s like, “She’s absolutely wrong. I don’t know why on earth she would be teaching people that, and that’s really concerning that she’s a diabetic educator saying that.”

So I got this awful information from this class. Fortunately, the program I went to, I found through Robb Wolf’s website and it was just a list of programs that would think differently, more integratively. And it was the University of Bridgeport, which they still have a really great nutrition [crosstalk 00:19:11]

Michael Roesslein:

I have a bunch of friends who have been through that program.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. And it’s accredited. It’s a great school. I really enjoyed the program. It was hard, but it really changed the whole process of… I have never had severe, severe, severe, severe health issues like some of the people that I’ve worked with. I’ve coped with a lot of stuff in terms of… I’ve certainly had my fair share of mental health issues throughout my life. Not in a way that I would say…

I’ve told people, even on my podcast and such. I was on antidepressants earlier in my life, in my late teens, early 20s, because I had, I think it’s much better now, I think. I think my husband would agree. I did have really pretty intense issues with OCD and trichotillomania. And so I didn’t realize that until pretty late in my life.

I don’t think that that necessarily played a role in where I am now, but it’s helped me better understand that’s how people get lost in the process. And just being handed medications and not being told any of the side effects that can happen. I mean the one thing that I have come to learn about myself is that, and I think this goes back to that high school piece of, what did I excel at?

It was being creative and also having this introspection of asking what are the processes that allow for life to be sustained and created and all of this stuff that I’m so interested in, and I couldn’t do that with antidepressants. I actually almost failed out of school in college as a result of taking them.

So yeah, my stories are a little bit all over the place, but I will say that in my life, I have witnessed such… and having been a patient myself and having worked in healthcare, and I’m sure your wife can relate to this, you get lost in a system and it’s very difficult to find your way through it and sometimes out of it.

I got to work in medical billing. I got to work in the rooms. I got to figure out how to connect with doctor’s offices, because I worked for my dad and saw what he went through. But in my own journey, I saw this problem. I want to put that in air quotes, because I think I don’t want to label them as bad. They’re not necessarily bad. It’s just part of my story, my journey of growing up and realizing that I was different than other people and it was okay.

It was okay to be who I was. But unfortunately, the way that it was seen within the medical community was either, “Here’s a pill for that,” right? So, “Oh, you have OCD. You can’t get out of your house in the morning without spending three hours checking everything and doing all these things and whatnot and you can’t function like a normal person, so here’s a pill for that.” They’re just kind of endless…

I also want to say, I’m not against antidepressants or medications. Everybody’s journey is different. For me it did not work. It actually made my OCD and the trichotillomania problems even worse. So I think everyone is entitled to their own journey and their own choices, but I never got resolution or clarity on why these things were happening as a result of just seeking out like, “Here’s my labs. What do you think, doc?”

And it was always like, “You look fine. Maybe you’re just stressed.” I’ve been told maybe I was too stressed. Maybe I just need more B vitamins. Maybe I need to stop working out so much, which was probably true. It probably did.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Four hours of training-

Jen Fugo:

Is too much.

Michael Roesslein:

… is a lot. Yeah. Hey, if you’re enjoying the show, make sure you head over to rebelhealthtribe.com/kit, that’s K-I-T, and grab the RHT Starter Kit, which includes a sampler of four free videos from our professional masterclasses and webinars. The RHT Healthy Sleep Guide, The Wellness Vault Coupon book, which will save you money on all of our favorite health-related tools and resources, a professional product guide, and a coupon for 15% off your first order in our shop.

That’s rebelhealthtribe.com/kit, K-I-T, and you’ll get all that delivered right away. Also, if you’re on Facebook, we’ve got a fun engaging and supportive group over there as well with thousands of health seekers just like yourself. Just search for Rebel Health Tribe and you’ll find us. Thanks for listening, and now back to the show.

So you said you didn’t have any severe things, but I would argue that those OCD related issues, some pretty significant digestive issues, I’m guessing there is some skin problems in there.

Jen Fugo:

Yes. I had [crosstalk 00:24:26]

Michael Roesslein:

So eczema, digestive issues, OCD. I would guess that those things probably disturbed your piece of wellbeing and life in general.

Jen Fugo:

They did.

Michael Roesslein:

Those are all things that affect many aspects of life. From, you mentioned, taking a long time to leave the house, but also digestive responses to meals is not the most convenient thing ever. I’m sure that I know how… I had pretty severe acne in my teens into early 20s-ish years and I know what that was like to go through. It’s different than eczema, but still I remember the feeling of going in rooms and hoping nobody looks at my face and that sucks and affects quality of life quite a bit.

Jen Fugo:

It does.

Michael Roesslein:

So I think if you snowball all of those things into one ball, that’s quite a bit of life impact.

Jen Fugo:

While I would agree with you, I also work with people whose situations with their health are so drastically worse.

Michael Roesslein:

Oh, yeah.

Jen Fugo:

So I just wanted…

Michael Roesslein:

I think it’s all relative.

Jen Fugo:

It relative. Right.

Michael Roesslein:

I think what you’re trying to do is to not put yourself in that same level of someone who-

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

… can’t get out of bed or can’t-

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. It’s just I’ve found that most people in this industry didn’t… I’m kind of an anomaly. I didn’t have health issues. I had skin issues when I was in my teens, 20s. Mira always complains I have an iron stomach, so I can eat anything. I don’t have any real health issues and I haven’t, despite my best efforts for about 15 years to get as many of them as I could. I lived…

If I wanted to mark off every box of how you could get sick or unhealthy, I did all the things a lot for about 15 years and my body’s just extremely resilient. And so I didn’t have health issues that flipped me into this field. It was more… I started… I went to grad school through my late 20s, which was hard. Funny how that works. You mentioned your grad school was hard, mine was also hard. And I was like, “Why is this so hard?”

And my roommate at the time was like, “You’re in a master’s program. I think it’s supposed to be hard.” And I was like, “Oh.” And mine was in 11 months. It was accelerated program in 11 months.

Jen Fugo:

Gosh.

Michael Roesslein:

And so I didn’t do anything else. I did school all day, every day. And it was mostly physiology minds and exercise physiology. So it was mostly just physiology stuff, some statistics, which is the one B I got in grad school was my statistics class. But I got into that because I wanted to work with athletes and I realized right away that I didn’t want to do that. That took me…

That was probably the fastest I’ve ever figured out I don’t like something. And it was about two weeks and I was like, “What the hell am I going to do now?” Because now I have this master’s degree and I don’t want to do the thing. And I started to do some training for people who had back issues, back pain, surgery, people who are really de-conditioned or injured and wanted to function. And I found that really fun.

I enjoyed helping somebody get to the point where they could walk up the stairs when they couldn’t before, rather than helping somebody jump a little higher or something. And that led me to nutrition, which led me to functional medicine, which led me to whatever, because my clients kept getting more and more complex and complex and complex. And then I have I-need-to-understand brain. And there’s an infinite rabbit holes that you can jump down in this field.

And so I just kept getting from fitness to nutrition, to functional medicine, to… Et cetera, et cetera. I never had health issues. And I’m the weird anomaly. And I always thought like, “Why am I in this?” And I didn’t have health issues. And what I realized is that my health issues were depression and anxiety and those kinds of things, which I only figured out in the last few years, and now I’m going through trainings to work in that area and that’s really my jam.

And I was just waiting to realize what my thing was really. And I was carrying that the whole time I was doing all that other stuff and I just didn’t realize it. So I can relate to the mental health piece quite a bit. And how that’s often you just push through that and do your normal life like I did and-

Jen Fugo:

You know what I’ll say about that though, too? I think a lot of times we are conditioned to think we have to push through that.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s what I mean.

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

In this society, it’s just something that like, “Oh, everybody deals with that. Just go ahead and do your things,” and it’s… Everything’s hard.

Jen Fugo:

Everything. Everything is hard.

Michael Roesslein:

When you feel like shit, everything is hard. That was just, when I was anxious, going to a place and doing a thing was hard. And when I was super depressed, doing really basic things was hard, and-

Jen Fugo:

I will say too, and I don’t know why I did this, I have no idea why, but when I was in high school, this counselor came around to each one of our, can you imagine a county counselor she’s like, “I’m unaffiliated with the school, but I’m here if you want to talk.” And for some reason-

Michael Roesslein:

We didn’t have one of those.

Jen Fugo:

Well, in my school we did, and I went to talk to her. And I think one of the reasons that… Well, I’m really grateful now that I did. I feel like I self chose therapy and I self chose the person that I started that process with at, I think I was 15 or 16. I was pretty young.

Michael Roesslein:

[crosstalk 00:30:06] OCD stuff?

Jen Fugo:

No, it was just, I didn’t have any friends. I wouldn’t say I had zero friends. That would be a lie to say that, but I was very ostracized. I was very different. I dealt with a lot of bullying. I did not fit in. I felt very alone as a teenager. A lot of it was the OCD issue and then we had a lot of things just going on at home that were very difficult to cope with and a lot of family dynamics and things.

I mean, I come from a pretty, I guess, traditional Italian-American family. My parents are literally second generation in this country. And so there was a lot of dynamics that were very difficult to deal with. My sister was always more popular than me and I’m the older sister and I just never fit in. I think, there was always these ideas of how my life should be, but it never ever even came close to that.

And then I did things to myself. Like I dyed my hair black and I would dress strange and I did it intentionally. And I got to the point where it took a long time, a long, long time of losing friends, of being humiliated in front of people, being made fun of and all sorts of things for me to realize that the words that people would say in the worst moments of being in a class of 25 kids and being literally humiliated, they had no power over me and when it didn’t have any power and I could throw a quip back, it was the end of that conversation because that person was seeking… It was really a power struggle.

Michael Roesslein:

When they don’t get out of it what they’re trying to get by doing it.

Jen Fugo:

Right. No, did that necessitate me? Did that mean I won, I’m great, I’m good? No, I mean, I literally still remained in therapy. I actually started, I didn’t know that I had OCD. I watched As Good as It Gets with my parents, and at the of the movie I’m sitting there-

Michael Roesslein:

That’s the Jack Nicholson movie?

Jen Fugo:

Yes. I was sitting there and I looked at my parents who were on the couch and I’m like, “Do I have OCD?” Literally I had no idea, never heard of this. And my parents look at one another like, “uh-oh.” And it spun this whole-

Michael Roesslein:

Maybe this wasn’t the best movie you did watch as a family.

Jen Fugo:

Right. It spun this whole conversation. I started going to see a behavioral psychologist, that then got me to a psychiatrist, and then I started Zoloft. I freaked out on Zoloft. So they changed it to Paxil, I think. And then at one point I was moved to-

Michael Roesslein:

Paxil’s what gave Joe brains zaps. Ask him about that next time you talk to him.

Jen Fugo:

I will.

Michael Roesslein:

Brain Zaps.

Jen Fugo:

I will. Yeah. And then I was on Prozac and then I moved to New York to go to college and then the psychiatrist in New York just kept increasing the amount of Prozac that I was on because I was getting more angry, more depressed, more isolated [crosstalk 00:33:09]

Michael Roesslein:

They give anti-depressants for OCD?

Jen Fugo:

One of the treatments for… Well, mine was a combo of OCD and trichotillomania. Basically it’s a cousin of OCD and that different things that can happen. So you can have hair pulling, skin picking. I still pick my skin quite a bit. And I talked about that on The Healthy Skin Show because it’s something…

Talking about this right now is not the most natural thing for me to talk about, but I know it’s important for people to know that you’re not alone in all of this, but I could not function. I had a really difficult time. I couldn’t get going in the morning. It would take me out. I cannot stress how many hours I could not get out of the bathroom. I lived with like six roommates and that made it even worse.

There was so many stressors that it was very difficult for me to just function. And so yes, they do… At the time, this was back in, I guess, around 2000, I don’t know if that’s still the case now, but they would use a combination of behavioral therapy and antidepressants to try to get you to lessen the urge. It didn’t work.

Michael Roesslein:

No, I would guess not.

Jen Fugo:

They’re like, “Put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it.” Yeah. I’m sure that’s not going to work. Let me tell you right now.

Michael Roesslein:

Tase myself. That’s 20s. And then you just started seeing those people in your teens, 20s, college, New York time.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

And then by the time you were working with your family, a lot of that had been improved, resolved, same, medicated, still struggling?

Jen Fugo:

No. Yeah. I only stayed on medication for a year. And then at that point-

Michael Roesslein:

You pulled the plug on that, when you realize that you were getting worse.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. Well, I mean, I was failing school. I couldn’t do my creative projects for school. That’s a problem. And then-

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Unfortunately, the… And I’ve learned to embrace this. I’ve recently found out the in last few years that I have severe ADD, really bad. And I never knew I always looked at it as something other people dealt with, but I could never focus on anything and concentrate for two seconds. And I was like squirrel and I never put two and two together and then when I discovered it, I said something to Mira like, “Do you think I have ADD?” And she’s like, same way your parents reacted, “No, I don’t think so.”

Jen Fugo:

I don’t want to be the person to tell you this, but-

Michael Roesslein:

And I was like, “Holy crap,” because I’m in training, Dr. Gabor Maté’s training and he has a book on ADD, and we had to read his books as part of the curriculum. And I’m reading this book and I’m like, “Huh, okay, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, all checks.” And I’m like, “Oh, I have this.”

And that actually helped me have a little more compassion for myself, getting the diagnosis and things, because then it made things make sense, unlike why I had certain issues and whatever, but I know they would have bombarded me with all kinds of things to take if I was a kid in school age now, for sure, and they’re usually stimulants. And if I over-caffeinate myself, not good.

Usually, people on ADD, I guess, you over-caffeinate yourself on purpose because then it does some sort of a reverse dynamic to your system. So I know that I would have bombed on the medication as well. And if they give people with ADD sedatives, I don’t want to say sedatives, but antidepressants to lessen everything-

Jen Fugo:

Sure.

Michael Roesslein:

… people with ADD are highly creative and then they’re not. You can’t choose what you’re going to muffle. So for those drugs, like you said, you were creative and then you weren’t even if it was helping your other symptoms, which it may have-

Jen Fugo:

It wasn’t. It wasn’t.

Michael Roesslein:

… but it wasn’t. But sometimes it does, but it’s non-selective.

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

You can’t selectively numb the things. It’s all or nothing. And for some people that trade off is great and necessary and essential and it helps them survive. And I also don’t want to be seen as throwing antidepressants under the bus.

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

But I just know that anytime I’ve taken anything that’s supposed to calm or numb or whatever, I also can’t, like you said, it’s like my brain doesn’t work like I’m used to it working. And I probably would have not fared well with anything academic or creative, especially creative. And if your schooling was involving anything creative or creative problem solving, in those times I would just stare.

Jen Fugo:

Right. I would stare at the paper and I’d be like, “What am I supposed to do?” And everything was gray. I felt like the color and the intricacy of what creativity is had just dissolved into grayness. And I couldn’t complete projects. I didn’t complete my final, which I got an F on, and I-

Michael Roesslein:

That doesn’t help?

Jen Fugo:

No. And so I went to this psychologist, I’ll never forget our last session, and I said, look, “I can’t keep doing. This is not working right. And I’m also getting angrier.” I’m fighting with my roommates. I’m really agitated. And she’s like, “Oh, well, you know what we need to do. We need to put you on a mood stabilizer. So maybe let’s add in some Wellbutrin,” and I’m like, “No. I’ve hit my point. We’re not adding in more medication to stabilize my mood. This isn’t even helping me feel any better.”

And so I called my dad and I feel really lucky that my dad was a doctor. And I said, “Dad, I don’t know how to get off of this medication. I know I can’t stop it cold-turkey because I was taking a pretty heavy… I was like almost at the max dose of Prozac that you can take. And so he helped me step down and get off of it.

But I wasn’t medicated for a long while and I just muscled through and I did still struggle with things, but when I got out of school, I started working with a life coach and that really helped me, I think, better find a place of empathy for myself, because understanding what I had, it was helpful and refreshing in the moment but I didn’t know anybody else like myself. I didn’t know a single soul.

What I experienced and I’m sure other people can relate to this, I felt alone and I felt a level of shame about who I was and why I would do these things that I couldn’t control. People don’t understand when you say, “I can not do this.” They don’t get it because it really doesn’t rationally make sense.

My boyfriends wouldn’t understand why it would take me two hours just to get ready in the morning and they didn’t understand. And I can’t explain it. I still to this day can’t. I just would get stuck and lost in patterns. And it was so destructive to me being a functional human being. But at a certain point I had to take a step out of all of that.

And I don’t know if going through the trauma of 9/11, forcing me out of these incredibly stressful environments and also working to start confronting some of the issues and the anger and also realizing that I used anger as… I was scared, I was afraid, I felt ashamed, but I would lash out in anger to try to protect myself. That was my wall and my weapon to be able to use against people who I felt were getting too close.

Michael Roesslein:

I think there’s almost always a secondary emotion. It’s always a superficial secondary emotion, because it’s safer. It’s a safety thing because to express the thing underneath the anger is way more vulnerable.

Jen Fugo:

It’s way more vulnerable. It’s way more scary. I mean, even to have this conversation. I’ve never really talked about this on a podcast before. I talked about it a little bit-

Michael Roesslein:

Oh, I appreciate it.

Jen Fugo:

[crosstalk 00:41:21] before. But I also recognize that there are people going through certain things and especially, like you said, you never heard of some of these issues. And I apologize, I have the podcast on skin picking and I don’t… I think it’s dermatillomania, when you pick your skin and a lot of people do that. Even people will… Sometimes men will pick at their beard, they’ll start pulling out hairs unconsciously.

Michael Roesslein:

I pull my eyelashes and it pulls the eyelid off the eyeball and makes this little sound. I would do it to the point where the teachers would have to come by and stick my hand on the desk-

Jen Fugo:

Stop you.

Michael Roesslein:

And they’re like… I can not do it.

Jen Fugo:

There’s these compulsive behaviors that are really difficult. I don’t have any grand message or solution to any of this. I Just know that-

Michael Roesslein:

There’s no light that came out of the sky and all these things have evaporated.

Jen Fugo:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

No.

Jen Fugo:

I mean, I’m 41. If it’s going to happen-

Michael Roesslein:

You’re ready.

Jen Fugo:

… there’s still some time.

Michael Roesslein:

Well, I’m curious. That is a lot at the beginning and I totally get you not wanting to compare yourself to somebody who can’t get out of bed. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of stuff. You’ve thrown a lot of stuff down here that you are dealing with between the digestive issues and the OCD-related stuff, and the phase of the medication, the feeling isolated, which is probably the worst of all of those things, is feeling totally alone.

You said nobody is like me and not being seen or understood and people think you’re weird or they just like, “Don’t do the thing.” Really simple, like telling a heroin addict, “Just stop using heroin and you’ll be fine.”

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

That type of approach is patronizing. It makes things worse, makes you feel like you’re crazy, all these things and a burden and just these people have to deal with me or whatever and the lashing out as a cover. And then you might not like being called out on that being your cover right but it’s your cover.

Jen Fugo:

I’ve done a lot of-

Michael Roesslein:

Anger’s always a cover, so-

Jen Fugo:

I’ve done a lot of work around it so I appreciate.

Michael Roesslein:

I can tell. The reason I’m still carrying on the conversation on those lines is because I can tell that you’ve done a lot of work around it and you can handle talking about it. You said you haven’t talked about this on a podcast, so I’m not trying to get you to the point where you don’t ever want to come on anything again.

Jen Fugo:

No, no, no.

Michael Roesslein:

But I can tell you’ve done a lot of work around it.

Jen Fugo:

Michael, listen. And I know your audience and I also know you. And so one thing that Mike… And I feel really grateful. I’ve known my husband since high school. We were friendly in high school and so he heard a lot of the things that people would say about me and the comments and things, he was aware. And so it’s not like he doesn’t know where I’ve been. You know what I mean? And where I’ve come from.

And the one thing that’s been really great is he has increasingly encouraged me. He’s like, “You got to start getting out of your comfort zone of being so used to pretending like the past doesn’t exist, at least in how you…” It’s hard with skin stuff. People don’t necessarily… It’s not necessarily… I don’t know. Maybe I’m thinking it’s not as connected. Maybe that’s a defense mechanism. I don’t know.

I’ve talked about the skin picking issue because that is important. A lot of people with rashes do pick at their skin as a result of it, but it is important. I recognize, and I wish that I knew someone who had the same issue as me when I was younger. When I found out that Olivia Munn also. She’s an actress. I don’t know her, but I read that she had issues with trichotillomania.

And for the first time I was like, “Wait, this famous actress has this issue and she’s there. She did…” Because I had like no sense that I could accomplish anything because I felt so, I’m going to nicely use the word damaged. I would probably use a harsher word, but I don’t know what your language [crosstalk 00:45:26]

Michael Roesslein:

No, you can use whatever word you want.

Jen Fugo:

But you get the point.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jen Fugo:

I did not feel like I ever had any value and I was constantly living in this state of shame and fear.

Michael Roesslein:

Like these things aren’t possible for me-

Jen Fugo:

Right. Because I’m used to this.

Michael Roesslein:

I feel like, “I’m limited to, this little thing is possible for me.”

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

Which isn’t very much.

Jen Fugo:

And I didn’t know until that moment when I found that out. I was like, “If she can do that, if she can go on TV and be in a movie and do all this stuff and she has the same thing, then what’s stopping me.” And so, like I said, my husband’s encouraged me to share with people, especially people that I’m friendly with and stuff. If they don’t like you, if they’re going to judge you or make a nasty comment about you, then they’re not really your friend.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. It’s a good self identifier.

Jen Fugo:

It is. It is. And no one who I’ve ever told has ever come back to me and been like, “Oh blah, blah.” Sometimes people have questions and I’m okay with that because you know what? It is different. You might not know what it is. You might not have heard of it. And it might actually help explain what’s going on for someone who you do know that it is confusing, you don’t get what’s going on with them. And now all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh.” I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve also-

Michael Roesslein:

And the more people accept you knowing X, Y, Z, it’s easier to accept yourself too.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

That shouldn’t be linked to [inaudible 00:46:51] it shouldn’t in quotes. Everything’s intrinsic and it comes from within and it’s just-

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

Like how you said at some point you were like middle finger to the bullies and then their power went away. The same thing goes for other people’s approval or acceptance or whatever shouldn’t technically matter. But the more people that see you for you and know your things and your quirks and your weird whatevers, and they’re like, “Cool, let’s go out to lunch,” that part of you that’s concerned about like, “What are they going to think? Or how are they going to… It can kind of chill out a little and then that gets reinforced that this is okay.

Jen Fugo:

And also too I recognized-

Michael Roesslein:

That was good advice, I think.

Jen Fugo:

I think so.

Michael Roesslein:

You should keep him.

Jen Fugo:

I will also recognize that the more that I embrace what’s different about me, the more it’s okay for me. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Just what’s okay. What I see is okay about myself. The more I realize I can put the energy into helping others and doing what I really love to do, and if someone doesn’t like it, that’s fine. I don’t really care.

I’m not going to spend energy trying to convince someone that I’m valuable or I’m worth it or whatever. I think I’ve spent enough of my life being having my self worth tied to, could I get through the day without someone humiliating me? I’ve lived enough of that. I’m good. And at this point, do I still have issues that come up? Absolutely.

I know my mom has a lot of, I don’t think shame. Probably guilt is the right word because she didn’t know how to help me as a kid and I didn’t know how much she had actually tried to do. She had reached out to a lot of organizations and all sorts of stuff. I mean, this is the ’80s. [crosstalk 00:48:45] writing.

Michael Roesslein:

There wasn’t the internet. Anybody under 30, there wasn’t the internet.

Jen Fugo:

No internet. So she’s writing letters or typing letters and getting pamphlets and making phone calls.

Michael Roesslein:

All in Yellow Pages.

Jen Fugo:

And trying-

Michael Roesslein:

It’s a book that used to have phone numbers in it.

Jen Fugo:

Right. Yes. Yellow Pages. But I didn’t realize how much of a burden it was to her too. And I didn’t realize that until I was probably in my 30s that it was also really traumatic and hard for my mother. And she, even to this day, will be like, “I’m so sorry.” I mean, she’s 70 something. She’s, “I’m so sorry that this happened to you and that I couldn’t help you more.”

And I’m like, “Mom, you just have to let it go. You did your best and that’s all you could do.” No one is given a book to figure out how to help somebody who’s dealing with something like this. If I was a completely, quote unquote, normal person and I didn’t have any of this, I might not be where I am. And I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

Michael Roesslein:

Probably not. Yeah.

Jen Fugo:

But I have a lot of empathy for people who feel very alone on their journey likely because of what I went through.

Michael Roesslein:

And that’s essential for the work that you’re doing now.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. To be the champ. I feel like sometimes I’m the cheerleader. I’m like, “We can do this. We can do this.” [crosstalk 00:50:07]

Michael Roesslein:

Well, no one’s going to say anything to you on a consult call that you’re going to be like, “I don’t know about wanting to work with you,” because you’ve been on the other side of that. It’s that harsh judgment and some of it I’m sure was real and some of it was projected. You would just project, “Oh, they think this about me or whatever too.”

But then there also was the ruthless people and all of that, but that feeling of aloneness and feeling of damaged and that you’re limited and that you can’t do X, Y, Z things, having that experience enables you to meet people that are in that space in a way that someone who hasn’t had that experience can’t do it and that’s a gift in what you’re doing now so it’s an essential thing.

It’s something I see lacking in a lot of health practitioners across the spectrum from doctors to nutritionist, to health coaches, whatever. I’ve run into several who may be brilliant at the biochemistry and the physiology. And they’re just not capable of seeing the person they’re talking to as a person, as a human being with all of these things rolled into it, instead of just lab results and a number and a robot that they need to figure out a formula to give them a protocol based on a lab test to do this thing. And I think that you will not struggle with that because it’s now built in. It’s built in.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. It’s a part of who I am now. I don’t know if it’s in my DNA. I don’t know. I don’t know what it is, but it is a part of who I am and [crosstalk 00:51:53]

Michael Roesslein:

That part of you that went through it will see that in others too. It’s like, like seeing like thing and they can feel that too. A lot of the work that I’ve done over the last two years has been energy-based, and trust me if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Energy? Whatever.” Three years ago from now, if you’d brought that up, I’d have said the same thing.

And then I’ve had a lot of experiences and witnessed and experienced a lot of things that have shifted me, but on an energetic level, which I’ll keep it light, it’s like when you walk into a room and you’re like, “This place is awesome.” Or you walk into a room and you’re like, “Yeah, I don’t want to be in here,” and nobody’s said or done anything yet.

That is an energetic intuition that you pick up from the space and from individuals, those people you meet. And they might be saying really nice words to you and then inside your… Something is like, “Ew, gross. Get me away from this and that’s energetic intuition.

And with one-on-one relationships, whether it’s professional or not there’s a connection on that level as well and just having that, that you have, that aspect, that’s been through the ringer as far as I don’t belong and people telling you, you don’t belong and I’m limited and I’m a burden and I’m all these things, the part of them that feels that way can tell that you’re an ally, that you’re safe, that you can see that whether they mentally think about it or consciously think about it or not.

I’m learning that in the work that I’m doing, that this is something that’s picked up subtly. And so I think that you’re well served by what you’ve been through because you can bring that to the table. So I am curious. Sorry about that rant. It’s just something I felt was important to share that. I don’t know if you realize that, but it’s a gift that you’ll then have that you can transmit without trying, just by having been through the fire.

And I’m curious, you’ve obviously made a lot of progress with a lot of these things. Your skin looks great. Your digestive issues, you’ve told me, are, in the past, when we’ve shared things, better. And I don’t know if you still take two hours to get ready to go somewhere still.

Jen Fugo:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

All that type of stuff. In short, we don’t have a ton of time left and I don’t want to get into teaching X, Y, Z protocol things, but what were the big needle movers for you? And at what point did you realize maybe that bubble of limitation that you had put on yourself, “I can’t do this. I can’t do that,” wasn’t real?

Jen Fugo:

I will say that a lot the talk, I don’t want to say therapy per se, but being very conscious about meeting with someone and being held accountable by someone on a weekly, sometimes twice a week basis was really helpful.

Michael Roesslein:

I did twice a week for six months. There’s no shame there.

Jen Fugo:

No, and I’m not ashamed of it.

Michael Roesslein:

I worked with somebody for six months twice a week before I left San Diego a couple years ago, and it’s what I needed.

Jen Fugo:

And there’s been a lot of moments where I’ve had to… I try my best in every situation. When I get frustrated now to say, “What did I potentially do to contribute to this situation?” Whether it’s in my business or my life or whatever, to try to really make sure that I’m taking responsibility for my end of things. And not resorting back to old patterns as well. I do know… I’m not going to say that… I mean, I ate really poorly as a kid and a teenager and in my 20s. It really-

Michael Roesslein:

I did too. Who was your favorite fast food? I was team Taco Bell.

Jen Fugo:

Ooh, I did like Taco Bell. I liked the potato wedges from KFC.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. I know [crosstalk 00:55:53]

Jen Fugo:

Really into those.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. What was your favorite snack food that you would admonish yourself for eating now?

Jen Fugo:

Ooh, I don’t know, but I always-

Michael Roesslein:

[crosstalk 00:56:04] was Cheez-Its.

Jen Fugo:

Cheez-Its. I can’t say that, but I can tell you I was a big Honey Bunches of Oats cereal fan. I used to have that every day for breakfast.

Michael Roesslein:

Which were desserts in a bowl.

Jen Fugo:

Pretty much. And then my mom would make her pasta sauce and I would make pasta. That was pretty much what I ate all the time.

Michael Roesslein:

Same. My mom’s maiden name is [Devito 00:56:28]. I grew up with plenty of pasta in the house too.

Jen Fugo:

I mean, it wasn’t… I do think improving my diet and such was really helpful. And I do think that I did see a pretty sizable shift when I started to eat more real food. I do think that you can go too far and that everybody can find information on my feelings on Excess Elimination Diets, you can look that up.

But at the end of the day, I also had to do a lot of meditation, I had to do a lot of soul searching, a lot of self-work to start unraveling years and decades of… I mean, I was afraid to go to school. I lost best friends. I had best friends that humiliated me. They were the ones that would humiliate me in front of people.

I, to this day, I can be in a room with them, I can talk to them. Would I want to be friends with them? Probably not. I haven’t gotten that far. I’m not perfect, but it’s been a lot of self inquiry and asking questions and saying, “What can I take responsibility for? What can I forgive? What can I acknowledge that I just didn’t know enough at the time and I know better now and I can do better now?”

And that this is a journey that I can always try every single day to show up a little better. But, I mean, definitely the meditation and yoga helped. I think you can go too far with that too to some degree, and I think I did for a while. But I got to a point where I found a much healthier balance and I understand myself probably better. Well, I don’t know. How can you not better know yourself as you get older, but I feel Like I know myself [crosstalk 00:58:14]

Michael Roesslein:

I think it’s possible.

Jen Fugo:

Okay. You might be right about that, but I do feel like at this point in time, I do feel like I know myself the best. Not like I know everything, but I love the idea of realizing that I don’t know everything and that I can be engaged in conversations and be challenged in beliefs and the way things are so that I can keep evolving who I am and the relationships that I have with people and hopefully do my little tiny minuscule part to leave this world a better place. And as far as…

I think people get too caught up in protocols and wanting to know exactly what you did. This is 40 years. I don’t know. There was a lot of good things that happened and there are setbacks and there’s… I mean, I had 9/11 mixed in there. I don’t know. And other people have other really serious traumas that I’ve never experienced. I think we’re just all on a messy, beautiful journey. I think we all serve a purpose.

I think we’re all here for a reason, and I’m just trying to do my best every single day to get up and be passionate about the things that I really love to help people figure out. And that’s where I am right now. And I feel really grateful for it.

Michael Roesslein:

And we could have this conversation in five years and you might be somewhere else.

Jen Fugo:

Possibly.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. And that’s fine. It sounds to me, I’ll translate what I took out of that, is that really building a relationship with yourself was the needle mover and realizing who you are and what’s important to you and how you show up and interact in the world and with people, and that’s not the normal needle mover we get hearing talking about an health space. And I think people always underestimate that aspect of that internal world and what’s going on there and how it affects physicality.

I would guess that someone with a history of digestive issues or skin issues, that if you get really stressed or if somebody really upsets you, if you’re really upset or you get pulled away from that connection to yourself in some way, get pulled into patterns or [inaudible 01:00:32]. You know when you respond to something and then you’re like, “Oh, shit. I said that thing and I wouldn’t mean to?” You know when we react and then we realize it later?

Jen Fugo:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

When you get pulled into that space, I wouldn’t be shocked if some symptoms of yours pop up from from time to time.

Jen Fugo:

Yes. OCD and anger.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. And people don’t usually equate. They just look at only, “What did I eat?” And it isn’t always necessarily what you ate. As someone married to a person with multiple autoimmune conditions, all three of her flares there were things in common, one being mild and one being periods of extreme stress.

And now that’s part of the reason we’re moving to where we’re moving and pulling her out of the emergency room is to negate one aspect of that. And so that work of figuring yourself out is, I think, as important, if not more important than what you’re eating or things of that nature. So it’s refreshing to see that come up in conversations and so.

Jen Fugo:

And to be okay with doing what’s different. You don’t have to… Look, I don’t have children. I made a choice I didn’t want. That wasn’t for me and I’m okay with that.

Michael Roesslein:

People love to chime in on that.

Jen Fugo:

I know. My dad had this patient, she was some sort of pastor and she had asked me… My sister has two children and she got… Sometimes his patients would get us confused and that’s fine. And she’d be like, “Oh, how are your children?” And I was like, “Oh no, no. They’re my nieces.” And she’s like, “Oh.” And the way I said it, she must have taken a little bit of embarrassment.

And she said, “I don’t know if I’m overstepping here, but it’s okay if your flock that you tend to is not biological children.” She’s like, “I know that you work with a lot of people and your flock that you came into this world to tend to might not look like what everyone else does. And that’s okay.”

Michael Roesslein:

Wow.

Jen Fugo:

And I was like, “Wow.” That was one of the most enlightening moments of something that some person I’ll never forget her that she said to me, and I was like, “You’re right. Because that wasn’t my flock and I’m okay with that.” I’m okay with the things that I get to do and it’s okay that my life doesn’t look like everyone else’s. I’m really grateful for it now that it doesn’t.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s amazing. That’s so backwards compared to how most people in this society respond to that situation, both being slightly embarrassed because then there’s usually a defensive reaction that would be a lashing out.

Jen Fugo:

Right.

Michael Roesslein:

And then people love to tell other people what they should be doing with their life and that should match what they do. I won’t get into why I think that is, but that’s great. That’s a really cool story.

Jen Fugo:

So if anyone is struggling with that, there you go.

Michael Roesslein:

That’s amazing.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah. I think she was a Pentecostal minister pastor for her church.

Michael Roesslein:

[crosstalk 01:03:35] for her.

Jen Fugo:

I was just surprised by that answer that we all have our own flocks to tend to, and it’s okay if yours does not look like everyone else’s.

Michael Roesslein:

Brilliant. Well, it was a great discussion and I appreciate you sharing stuff that isn’t on the top of the things you usually talk about on podcasts. I know that, speaking from experience, some of the stuff that I now can talk about pretty easily where it doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal to me, it used to be. And so I totally want to honor that and thank you for sharing some inside info on Jen’s life and how you got to where you are.

And I’m sure a lot of people can relate to a lot of it because it doesn’t have to be the same symptoms. It doesn’t have to be the same conditions or the same challenges, or the same anything. I think most people with any chronic health issues can relate to feeling alone, to feeling like an outcast, to feeling like they can’t do things and that they’re in this bubble and everyone else is living in this world that they get to do all these things and in your world sucks and it’s this little small world and nobody gets it.

And so I hope that they feel seen and understood from this conversation. And I’m glad you went through all those things that suck so that you can bring that experience to the people that you work with now.

Jen Fugo:

Me too. Gladly me too.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Yeah. I wouldn’t have said, “Me too,” in my stuff that I went through too. I was suicidally depressed a few years ago and out of that has come a whole bunch of cool stuff. And if you’d told me then, “Oh, you’re just going through a really difficult time right now and it’s going to turn out great and you’re going to be better off for it, and you’re going to gain all these amazing insights and thing,” I would’ve been like, “Dude, go die over there. I don’t even want to hear this.”

And I get it too. Sometimes when you’re in it, you don’t want to hear. If it was right after 9/11 and your symptoms are really bad and you’ve just gotten traumatized and all these things are going on and someone’s like, “This is going to be really good for you. They would’ve got their bully fingers.” So we’re not trying to patronize anybody that’s going through a really tough time right now-

Jen Fugo:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

And say, “Oh, it’s going to get better. You’re going to love this, whatever.” It’s just personally from both of our experience the gifts that came through the challenges are the things that you learn to identify when and you make that relationship with yourself and you’re like, “Oh, I can do this.”

And so cheers to us for going through a bunch of crap and for what came out the other side and I just appreciate the candid discussion and it’s always fun to connect with you and where’s the best… I got a bunch of links they’ll see below. So you don’t have to name off everything you do, but where’s the first and best place for people to go to check out your podcast, your work.

Jen Fugo:

Yeah, I would say, well, it’s skininterrupt.com. But for those who find that hard to spell, you can just go to healthyskinshow.com and that will take you to the website where the podcast page is and you can find everything from There.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. Skininterrupt.com. Actually I had commented before we went live on how clever the name is. And I ended up knowing the person who helped her come up with it. So it’s a small world, but you get an A plus for that. That’s the most creative, original name of a website or brand of anybody I’ve ever interviewed.

So go there, check her out. All the links are below. We’ll have a bunch of links. So go look at those. You can find everything Jen does over there. Check out her show. You got a lot of catching up to do. There’s 200 episodes. So I want a full report back. Go check those out. And it’s not just about skin. I’m sure Jen talks about a lot of things over there.

Jen Fugo:

So many.

Michael Roesslein:

Thank you, Jen. It’s always super fun and I appreciate it.

Jen Fugo:

Thank you for having me.

Michael Roesslein:

And this brings us to the end of today’s episode. Head on over to rebelhealthtribe.com/kit to access the RHT Quick Start Bundle, which includes four full length presentations from our RHT master classes, two downloadable PDF guides and a 15% off coupon, which you can use in our retail shop. If you’re on Facebook, come and join our Rebel Health Tribe group over there. And finally, if you like the show, please subscribe, leave a review and share with your friends. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you again soon.