The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 1

Episode 20

S1E20 – Being Present with Carrie Eckert

Carrie Eckert is a mind-body health coach and “mystery illness” mentor at Avocado to Zen. Since overcoming almost a decade of debilitating illness symptoms herself, she now supports others faced with similar health challenges. She experimented for years with various treatments ranging from mainstream medicine to holistic therapies, and ultimately found her answers in what is known as neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to rewire itself.

In addition to her Master’s degree in Health & Wellness Coaching, she has trained with industry-leading professionals, including Martha Beck, Annie Hopper, Byron Katie, and Dr. Joe Dispenza. She shares these mind-body tools with her clients and helps them become empowered to direct their own healing as well.

Carrie currently enjoys introducing people to the incredible healing potential of TRE (Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises) and sitting in heart-opening sacred cacao ceremonies, both available to her clients via Zoom.

Connect with Carrie and find her new book at:

  • http://www.AvocadoToZen.com
  • https://www.facebook.com/AvocadoZen/
  • https://www.instagram.com/avocado.to.zen/

Head over to https://rebelhealthtribe.com/kit to get a free download of our loaded quick start guide to help you along your healing journey.  If you like us, subscribe, review, and share us with your friends, and come join our Rebel Health Tribe group on Facebook.

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About our Guest

Carrie Eckert is a mind-body health coach and “mystery illness” mentor at Avocado to Zen. Since overcoming almost a decade of debilitating illness symptoms herself, she now supports others faced with similar health challenges.

She experimented for years with various treatments ranging from mainstream medicine to holistic therapies, and ultimately found her answers in what is known as neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to rewire itself.

In addition to her Master’s degree in Health & Wellness Coaching, she has trained with industry-leading professionals, including Martha Beck, Annie Hopper, Byron Katie, and Dr. Joe Dispenza. She shares these mind-body tools with her clients and helps them become empowered to direct their own healing as well.

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Podcast Transcript

Michael: 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. I am joined today with Carrie Eckert in Florida. Carrie, thank you for joining us today.

Carrie Eckert:

Thank you for having me.

Michael:

Yeah, this is going to be fun. We just had an hour long chat before we even went on air, so now I feel like Carrie’s my, we’re new friends. And for those who don’t know, I’m going to share a little bit about Carrie, and then we’re going to get into her story. Carrie’s a mind body health coach in mystery illness, mentor at Avocado to Zen, which is her website. Since overcoming half a decade of debilitating illness symptoms herself, she now supports others faced with similar health challenges. She experimented for years with various treatments, ranging from mainstream medical to holistic therapies, and ultimately found her answers in what is known as neuroplasticity or the brain’s ability to re rewire itself.

In addition to her master’s degree in health and wellness coaching, she is trained with industry leading professionals, including Martha Beck, Annie Hopper, Byron Katie, and Dr. Joe Dispenza. She shares these mind body tools with her clients and helps them become empowered to direct their own healing as well. And she, depending on when you’re listening to this will already have published her book called, Going With My Gut, How Intuition Healed My Body and My Life. It’s not out right now, but it will be when you hear this because time travel. So, did I catch everything in there? That’s quite a journey.

Carrie Eckert:

I think so.

Michael:

All right. What were you doing in your life when your health went sideways? Sort of, that would be the starting point, I think is where we can kick off the conversation. First off, did you have an interest in health related things growing up?

Carrie Eckert:

No, not at all.

Michael:

Not at all. Okay. And then-

Carrie Eckert:

As a typical ’80s child.

Michael:

Okay. Yeah, me too. The things that were in my cabinet and refrigerator were not the things that were in my cabinet and refrigerator then. So, you were in pharmaceutical sales and you were a graphic designer, right?

Carrie Eckert:

Yes.

Michael:

Were you happy with what you were doing? Was your life fulfilling to you? Did you enjoy it?

Carrie Eckert:

I did pharmaceutical sales until I had kids, and then we decided I was going to stay home when we had kids, and the type A perfectionist to me couldn’t just sit home and take care of kids, which is a huge and rewarding job in and of itself. But I didn’t see it, that it was quite enough. So, I started my own graphic design business. I was self-taught, started doing stationary design and working really, really hard to try to overachieve in that area. But I enjoyed it. I loved that creative side of things. So.

Michael:

Gabo Monte, who I train with refers to type A overachiever as the autoimmune personality type. And so, that’s interesting. You just self-identified like three criteria. I’m wondering how that shifted. We’ll talk about that later. So, you had how many kids?

Carrie Eckert:

Two.

Michael:

Two kids, and you shifted your career to home, and we’re doing more graphic design. What was your first inkling that something is not right with your health?

Carrie Eckert:

I had allergies as a kid growing up, so that’s just how I lived. I always lived kind of congested most of the time. And just thought that was normal. And then I really didn’t think much was wrong. Once I had kids, I started getting colds every few months, and I just figured that’s what you do when you have kids, they’re constantly bringing germs home. And my health journey actually didn’t start until after we had some red alarms with both my boys. It was the end of 2011. And my older son was in first grade at the time. And he started having this weird cyclical vomiting thing. Every 10 days, almost like clockwork, he would throw up and it was often violently. He could be sitting in his little circle time in this little first grade class and just spontaneously throw up and fall over and it could be seizure-like, and it was really alarming to the teachers. And this went on for months and we tried to figure it out with his pediatrician.

We had a great children’s hospital nearby in Jacksonville, Florida. So, we went every specialist in the children’s hospital trying to rule out anything from brain, to gut, and everything in between. And he kept checking out as normal. So, the pediatrician just said,” We think it’s just a stomach virus that he’s just hanging onto.” And it just didn’t make sense for me. So, I decided I’d heard some things about elimination diets, and possibly diet being able to help. So, I had heard gluten and dairy were two big ones, two big bad ones. And he was really into his bread and crackers. So, I thought dairy would be the easier one to try first.

So, I just did it. I just eliminated every bit of dairy in his diet and he didn’t throw up again. I mean, I think in retrospect, he went seven years without throwing up after we did that. And we were strict dairy elimination for a couple years. And then I would say about nine months after that, my younger son started having the same phenomenon happen, that cyclical vomiting for months, every 10 days. And so, we did the same thing with him and started, and it went away as well.

Michael:

Literally 10 days?

Carrie Eckert:

It was weird. It was pretty much that, yeah, nine to 11 days, that timeframe. I don’t know what to make-

Michael:

That’s so bizarre.

Carrie Eckert:

I know. Other than maybe the dairy that they were eating kind of hit its peak and then they had to expel it. I don’t-

Michael:

I’ve never heard of anything like that before. So, you cut out the dairy with the both of them and it went away.

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. And they were not lactose intolerant. We did the lactose intolerant test with the gastroenterologist. So, it wasn’t-

Michael:

They’ve still never thrown up since then, had issues. Do they eat dairy now or are they still both dairy free?

Carrie Eckert:

No, they do now. We try to do it mindfully, not too much. We still try to do things that are not cow dairy when we can, Manchego or goat cheese, and just kind of listen to their bodies, but I’ve got a 17 year old now, so he’s learning how to listen to his own body, and not listen to mom, technically.

Michael:

Yeah, I hear you. That’s really fascinating. So, it just went away. So, you didn’t really, now I’m like, what was that? How does that work? What causes that? But so that happened. And then how did that lead into your own? That was probably pretty stressful in and of itself, especially when the second one started.

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. So, when it started with the first one, I of course wanted to join him. So, he wasn’t alone. He was in first grade. So, I eliminated dairy in my diet as well and noticed that my lifelong allergies disappeared. I was able to breathe again. I didn’t have to have a Kleenex in my pocket at all times. So, I realized we were onto something. Our genes were not cut out for dairy. And so, I didn’t know much about any diets at the at time. And someone had introduced me to this pH diet or something, it was a raw vegan type of diet. So, that’s where I started. I did that, my energy got a lot better for a few months, I felt great. And then going into 2012, early in 2012, I hit a wall and my energy just kind of started depleting.

And in spring of 2012, my husband and I went out to the West Coast, we had a great trip out to San Francisco, came home to the kids with the respiratory virus that was going through our house. We all caught the respiratory virus. And I was the only one who just never recovered. It was like any other virus to the rest of the family, but for me, I had a fever for a few days and then just never could get my energy back. And weeks turned into months, turned into years. So, I don’t know what was up with that virus, if it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back of-

Michael:

You felt sick? You felt ill, like you were acutely infected is how you felt for most of years or just, you got really sick. And then it was just fatigue, tired, exhausted?

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. I felt acutely ill for 20, 48, 72 hours. I just had a fever and chills. And then after that, I just never could get my energy back. I didn’t feel like I was sick anymore. I didn’t have a respiratory virus. I didn’t have a cough. I just had this weird fatigue, like mud in my veins, fatigue. I had to cancel spring break plans. We were going to have visitors, just, I don’t know, trudge through the summer, then just got on this journey of playing with different diets and reaching out to different practitioners and doctors, and that’s when it all began.

Michael:

What kind of diagnosis did you get when you first started going to doctors and saying like, because you probably did link it that the virus, so you’re like, ” I got sick, and then I’ve just been tired ever since then.” Or did you make that connection then?

Carrie Eckert:

I didn’t make the connection to that then. No, I just, I don’t know why, I just kept playing with diets at first though, I went with mainstream doctors. So, I first went to an endocrinologist. My cycles stopped. I started having hormonal changes in addition to being tired. And so, I thought, well, this has just got to be, something with my hormones is off. And my PCP was seeing that the thyroid numbers were a little bit off, and she suggested I go to an endocrinologist. So, I thought that would be the solution. He diagnosed me with hypothyroidism, got me on some Synthroid, which I did not tolerate even at a quarter of a dose, and went from there to just to becoming my own sleuth. I mean, I was started going to my PCP every three months, and having blood drawn, and having the whole panel done, and everything coming back mostly normal, and really just not having answers.

And I didn’t like that the endocrinologist didn’t have anywhere for me to go other than the Synthroid that I couldn’t seem to tolerate, it made me manic. And so, I just started researching, and diet was really the first place. It had been so helpful with my kids that I thought maybe I just need to tweak it. Maybe I just need to change and figure out what’s going to work for me. So, I went from vegan, raw vegan pH type diet, all the way to the other end of the spectrum into a GAPS diet, and reached out and found a GAPS practitioner who helped me through that remotely.

Michael:

So, GAPS, did that shift things for you at all?

Carrie Eckert:

Nothing shifted anything?

Michael:

No. So, you did a lot of diets trying to shift it. And this fatigue, I mean, was it just feeling tired all the time like you need to go to sleep or was it like a physical, my body can’t do things kind of fatigue or both?

Carrie Eckert:

IT was both, it was a mind fatigue, it was the brain fog, it was the, just heaviness on the head, like this pressure coming down. But it was also a body fatigue like I said, where it felt like mud in my veins. There were months there where if my husband was out of town, I couldn’t even put my kids to bed upstairs. I would have my, at this point, he was probably second grader put my five year old to bed for me at night, because I couldn’t make it up the stairs. I would sleep a good 12, 13 hours at night. I would have some energy in the mornings, but I knew that my energy was going to be gone, if I could even get through carline without falling asleep, it would be gone by the time I got the kids home from school. So, I’d have to get them home from school and set them up in some, in front of TV or a device and go back to bed, just so that I could get back up again and be there for dinner. Oftentimes my husband would cook.

Michael:

And how long was it that severe for?

Carrie Eckert:

Probably nine months to a year. I was productive in the morning, so I had a good four hours in the mornings.

Michael:

So, there’d be a little cortisol kick in the morning and then once that wore off, it was sluggish through the rest of the day?

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. Yep.

Michael:

And you were trying the diets during that time window?

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. So, then a lot of those four hours were spent cooking food [crosstalk 00:12:46].

Michael:

And labor intensive. Yeah. Because it’s, we do all of our stuff here and it’s hours and hours and hours, so.

Carrie Eckert:

Yep. That and research were the main things I was doing during that time, and then trying to keep up a little bit with the graphic design work, but I ended up losing most of my business and my contracts during that time. I just couldn’t keep up with the demands, so.

Michael:

Wow. Was there a point during that nine months to 12 month area that you thought like, ” This is just how my life is going to be now?”

Carrie Eckert:

Oh, that’s terrifying. But yes, that’s how I thought it was going to be. And there was so much guilt about why does this have to happen during these critical years in my kids’ life? Is this how they’re going to know their mom? Why is this happening now? I’m missing all these great years and this is how they’re going to know me, and just battling, that guilt was a big part of it. Didn’t feel like the right timing.

Michael:

No, it never will. But especially when you have little ones that are really, it’s tough to explain something like that to a kid, and it’s hard for them to understand why mommy can’t get up and run around and play. And so, it was the super severe for the that time. But it was longer than that, that it existed, that the symptoms were there, but it was just really severe for that, that nine months. And I say just nine months, but having been my wife going through that nine months really severe autoimmune flare, nine months feels like five years. So, I got some grays up here that resulted from the last one. And it’s intense not only for the individual going through it, it’s intense for everybody around them too. And it’s a lot to handle for, nine months is a long time to juggle something like that, especially if you’re trying all the diets, that’s extra labor intense life, and research, because when you’re in the afternoon researching things probably wasn’t really that effective.

Carrie Eckert:

No. And I do feel for the spouses and the partners, because it’s a lot of burden for you guys. And women, whoever the spouse is or a partner is, because I know how much you care. And yeah, my husband was juggling being both parents, being the main provider for the family, starting a new job and getting his nighttime master’s degree at night, all while this was happening. So, and it was hard. He got plenty of grace doing those.

Michael:

Yeah. Probably he should get a trophy or something. Shout out to Carrie’s husband. I understand, I’ve been on that end of it too, not with two little ones in the house, but I’ve run all the things, and done all the things, and done my work and all of that too and its… After going through it though, I finally started to understand why so many of my clients in the past when I was working with chronically ill people were caretakers. And I never really was able to put it together because I’d never been a caretaker for anyone. And it’s like, your life doesn’t stop when you become the caretaker. So, you do your life and the other things. And then over months of time, plus I was freaked out the whole time, I was not sleeping, I was panicked, anxious, spending my waking moments trying to research and make phone calls.

This shouldn’t happen to me, I’m in the health field, we should be able to figure this out, this is… And so, I wasn’t sleeping for months at a time and it’s, yeah, it’s a crazy window. And it’s kind of what I’m trying to want to get across with some of these stories, there’s people that are going through that. You’re not alone. A lot of people have gone through it and are validating, like, yes, this is really hard, this is objectively hard. So, if you can relate to what Carrie says about beating herself up, about feeling guilty around, I’m too tired to play with my kids right now, we see you, this is a thing that people can relate to, that you’re not the only one.

And so, what was it from the diets, and you saw probably a bunch of doctors and other types of people who help people, and maybe made little dents in the situation, but what was it that really started to turn the dial a little bit, to move the needle forward noticeably to where you’re like, “I just went through a whole day and I didn’t crash.” Or your energy level really started to improve, was there one thing or moment or action that you can think of or was it a shift overall what you were doing? What have you tied it back to?

Carrie Eckert:

So, I had the first plummet, nose dive after that respiratory virus in 2012. The second nose dive came in 2014, once we had moved into a new house, we moved from Jacksonville, Florida down to Sarasota, Florida. Was still recovering, still trying to figure out, and more kind of diagnoses and symptoms were piling on.

Michael:

Then you hit mold.

Carrie Eckert:

Then we hit mold. And so, as I was still in the muck of all this, we ended up moving into a house that was moldy. And I had not identified as having mold illness, so I didn’t know what CIRS was at the time. But when I realized that this was exacerbating symptoms, I started doing the research on that, came across CIRS, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, started studying Dr. Shoemaker’s work, and then reached out to a Shoemaker protocol doctor, found a great one and started working with him.

And after our first few appointments and all my blood work, I was given this diagnosis. Undoubtedly, of the 10 markers, I had eight or nine of them. So, I definitely had it. And I had the dreaded gene, and then you mix that with all the other things I’d been told by my functional medicine doctor, MTHFR and all that stuff. And I basically was told that I can’t detoxify. And in terms of mold, I wasn’t going to be able to be in a moldy building for the rest of my life, I was told, for any amount of time. And the chemical sensitivities that I’d started to develop were going to require medication for the rest of my life. And so, these rest of my life sentences felt like shackles. And even though it felt good to be validated and have a real diagnosis and have real, I don’t know, lab work to back it up, and have doctors seeing me and validating me and all that, having a lifelong sentence felt really icky to me.

I was starting already to feel like I was creating a bubble for myself, keeping the external world away from me, and protecting myself in this little bubble. And now this bubble was getting ever tighter and stronger. And so, as appreciative as I was in starting this new protocol, I also was thinking there had to be another way. And serendipitously, it was within days of having one of our appointments, I got a notice that this woman, Annie Hopper, who does DNRS, Dynamic Neural Retraining System that I had heard about a few years ago, was bringing her program to Florida. Now, mind you she’s from, I want to say Western Canada. So, for her to bring her program to central Florida was pretty much unheard of, and she was bringing it here within a few weeks. So, I felt like that was divine timing. So, I reached out, got into her program, went to the DNRS training course program, whatever, and started to feel a difference immediately with doing that training.

Michael:

DNRS primarily works on recalibrating the limbic system, right?

Carrie Eckert:

Yes.

Michael:

Like the emotional responses in the body. Yeah. It’s gained quite a bit of steam in the mystery chronic illness world the last five years. And I’ve heard from some people that did it and didn’t see a lot of results, but more that did than didn’t. It is time consuming though. Like what, did you do about 30 minutes a day or 60 minutes?

Carrie Eckert:

30 to 60 minutes a day. And see, I had been introduced to this by a functional medicine doctor two years before that we didn’t get into. And so, I had done the home program back then, and I had seen some results and I understood it from a logical perspective, and I actually did see some results from the practice, but doing it on your own, it’s really hard to stay motivated to keep doing it. And two years previous, I was just in the beginning stages of exploring diet and supplements, other holistic modalities, other magic pills outside of me that could do the work.

Michael:

Yeah. So longer you felt not good, the more motivated you are to stick to something that might help yo, like when you’re just starting out like, ” Oh, this is a hassle or this is this, or whatever.” Where if you start to see results and you’ve not felt good for a long time. ” Okay, I’ll do this every day. No problem.”

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. That’s how it was.

Michael:

And you had a coach the second time around you did the workshop, it’s like a bunch of days and then you…

Carrie Eckert:

I didn’t get a coach, but I think the difference was one, like what you just said, I was finally had more motivation because I’d been feeling bad for so much longer, but I had also been with a group of 20 people who were just like me in person. So, I felt that comradery and I didn’t feel so alone. And so, we could held each other accountable. I became pretty close with some of them, and I did get coached a little bit when I needed it. But I think just having that community was huge.

Michael:

It’s an often overlooked aspect of healing. It’s much harder to heal anything, whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, if you’re doing it on your own. And there’s just a medicine in it of itself, of being in a group and being seen and being part of something, and feeling like you belong somewhere, that you’re not the weird one. That is really overlooked a lot.

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James Masco is a friend who’s doing a lot with community based functional medicine care, where they’re doing group care and things like that that are trying to integrate aspects of community and connection into functional medicine approaches to health, which I think will drastically increase patient outcomes. And I’ve heard great things about that workshop in particular. Now they’re a lot bigger than 20 people a lot of the time. The DNS ones, yeah. But so that started to shift immediately. Once you came home from that you noticed you were feeling better.

Carrie Eckert:

It’s hard to say. I mean, emotionally I was feeling better. I felt more hopeful. I was beginning to sense joy again. And just even that was enough. Even if my body was still heavy and I was still tired, just getting those glimpses of what life’s really about again gave me hope. And so yeah.

Michael:

Those little tastes of victory, right?

Carrie Eckert:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Michael:

Yeah. Like when you start to come out of it a little, like when you have that first day where it’s 5:00 PM and you haven’t crashed. It’s so motivating to keep going with the rest of it then because it’s, the needles moving this way instead of that way, or stagnant. Yeah. We would celebrate the smallest little wins, like during the flare, like she had a day where her pain was only minimal and was able to go for a walk with the dogs. It was like, ” Oh my God, this is so amazing.” And you always say to yourself, I’ll never take normal life for granted again. And when we got back to normal, normal felt like a paradise. It was pain free and she could move and do these things. And it’s like, we have every little taste of victory along the way, I think needs to be celebrated too.

I know there’s a hesitance, at least with my mental programming, there was a hesitance to celebrate anything, because then my hopes are up and there’s this, and then it could get crushed again. Because healing is not a linear journey. I’m sure you had days that you felt great and then another day would crash, and it was like, ” Oh no.” But overall, if it’s kind of moving in this general trajectory up, down, up, down, but up, each one of those little up days, celebrate the hell out of it, enjoy it, enjoy the experience of it.

And so, you went from DNRS to, there’s some more stuff I saw on your list there. So, I know you got into another [inaudible 00:26:28], I know Joe just spends his work. And you’ve mentioned neuroplasticity on your site. So, you’ve gone the full brain rewiring nervous system, limbic system type of route. At that point, you were kind of sold on that as an area of focus or the capability of it, and went into more things like that or how did that evolution take place?

Carrie Eckert:

Well, I had spent two years really hoping that diet was going to save me. And I had gotten a little bit orthorexic, I guess, a little bit of orthorexia. I think my-

Michael:

It’s obsessive about healthy food, just so people aren’t familiar with the food.

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. My obsession with doing it right, not messing up, was actually hindering my ability to heal at this point. And I could sense that. And I was also getting a master’s in nutrition at that at time because I wanted to support this way of healing. But after that DNRS, this was another kind of synchronistic event, I went online to sign up for my next course, for my… I was about halfway into my master’s in nutrition and I needed to sign up for the next trimester.

And I go to the page or what I thought was the page, and I start seeing all these courses that have to do with neuroplasticity and neuro immunology and these things that seemed a lot more fascinating to me than the physiology and the nutrition courses. And I was like, wow, I didn’t realize these were in here. Maybe these are electives. And then I look at the top of the page and it’s a master’s of health and wellness coaching at the same school where I went to, but I just landed on the wrong page. And I didn’t even realize this existed and what the courses involved were, so I just-

Michael:

Sounds like the right page.

Carrie Eckert:

It was the right page. I switched my applicable credits over and switched gears, and changed my masters. And then shortly after that was introduced to Martha Beck, her work, and at the same time I was getting that master’s degree, I started doing the coach training through her Institute online. That was a nine month course, and those worked synergistically together.

Michael:

What made you want to get into coaching? Because that’s a different thing than healing yourself. So, somewhere along this journey you decided you… Did you just want to learn all the stuff to help yourself or were you with the intention of, ” When I get better I want to help other people.” Where did that come from? That’s a shift, self-healing is one thing, getting a master’s degree in coaching and doing all these trainings to be a coach, that’s a next step. Not everybody who goes through a healing journey becomes a practitioner or a coach or a, so where did that come from? Was there like a-?

Carrie Eckert:

I don’t think there was a wake up moment. I think that’s just innate in me. I just think that I knew early on if I was going through this, that there was a reason for it. And so, I think my inner knowing just knew that healing me meant I was going to use this to heal others. And when I first was introduced to Martha, I got on an informational call with her about her program. And she took one of my questions, and it was a question about neuroplasticity. And then as we were talking, I told her that I had chronic fatigue, and she shared her story of fibromyalgia.

But I can’t remember the exact words, I put it in the book. But she talked about shaman sickness and how those in cultures who are in these indigenous cultures who are sick, are often sick like this until they find their way into the shaman role. And once they’re there and they’re doing their life’s purpose, the sickness is no longer needed. And that just gave me chills, I mean, I’m no shaman. That was never, but I knew that I met healer in some way. And I don’t use the word healer either. I like to empower people to find their own inner healer, but semantics, whatever. I knew that was the way I was headed, so.

Michael:

Interesting. Mine’s been kind of the same trajectory. I got a master’s in exercise science thinking I was going to be a trainer of athletes. And I trained athletes for two weeks, and at USF actually in Tampa, well, Clearwater.

Carrie Eckert:

Oh, good. Yeah.

Michael:

Yeah. I started grad school at USF. And I lived in Clearwater for nine months. And I realized very quickly that I made a mistake, that I didn’t like training athletes. And I started a little hodgepodge personal training business in my garage. And I was working with people who were really deconditioned, who had back problems and were really out of shape. And I found that much more rewarding to help people be able to lose a little bit of weight, walk up the steps, play with their kid, do things that were life things, rather than trying to help a guy who can already jump this high, jump that high.

And the athletes, and I’m sure there’s fantastic athletes to work with out there but the ones I worked with, they didn’t want to be listening to me or dealing. It was just not a fun thing. And so, I went and got that whole degree in exercise physiology, thinking exercise and nutrition is the way. And nutrition, what I mean by nutrition in that world is, starve yourself, don’t eat any fat, eat 22 servings of grains a day with broccoli with no butter, with tuna fish. That was the nutrition. And then starve your clients and then pound the hell out of them on a treadmill. And that was what I learned in my master’s program basically. And then, I got introduced to the CHEK Institute, and Paul Chek, and holistic work. And I went to the first HLC course and unlearned everything I’d learned in my master’s program, and was like, ” Oh my God, that was the wrong thing I did. This is the way.”

And even that still has gone layered and layered. That was more functional health and wellness. Then I went to FDN and started doing labs, but all of this was my own level of depth, that I was going with my own. At first, it was super superficial and I just went to the gym. Then I started to introduce healthy food. So, then I learned about that. Then I started to learn about deeper things of health. So, I started to learn about that. And then naturally I just started teaching them. I can relate to that. As my life shifted, the only thing that made logical sense was to just do this.

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. And I think we make those wrong turns or wrong decisions. They’re not wrong. They’re helping round out everything so we can see the full spectrum and understand.

Michael:

It never seems that at the time that this makes sense why I did this or whatever, but then yeah, it’s always the right move. Because your first master’s program got you to click on the wrong page to be in the second one. And my master’s degree got doors open to me that wouldn’t have been open to me that allowed me to build the career that I have in functional wellness, because there’s people that need to see those degrees and those credentials and those initials and those things. So, and I wouldn’t have gone to the CHEK training, and I wouldn’t have gone to any of the other things I’ve done since then. And even mirrors health crisis, that forced me down a completely different road which involves steeper yet levels of healing, which is more along the neuroplasticity and the nervous system.

And I’m doing trauma work and somatic practices, and, oh, really heavy meditation things. And I never would’ve done that if she didn’t get sick, and we didn’t go through that thing. And you wouldn’t have been doing what you’re doing if you hadn’t have got sick in the mold and everything else, and gone through that hell. And you definitely don’t want to hear that when you’re in it. So, if you’re in it right now and you’re listening to this and you’re thinking like, ” Screw you, Mike, I don’t want to hear that right now. I just want it to stop. Don’t tell me there’s something good on the other side of this, or this is for your best or whatever.” I understand.

Because when people were coming to me during Mia’s flares and being like, ” Oh, this is for some divine high.” I wanted to choke every one of them who would tell me it. And when you are struggling, if somebody would’ve came to you and said like, ” This is going to lead you to better times.” You’d have been like, “I don’t care, I want to play with my kids.” And there is such a resentment because now when she’s been sick recently, I now have a circle of people in my life who are those people who say things like that, they mean well, I love you all, but I would get a lot of messages like, ” Just keep in mind, this is a blessing or whatever.”

And I was like, ” Tell me that in two years when I’ve already figured it out my own.” So, I don’t want to come across like we are negating that. If you hear us talking about how our lives went and how this was for the better. Yes. And it was really hard during those periods of time, and you don’t see the forest, you don’t see the rest of the path. I guess, what I would throw in is that, have faith there is a rest of the path.

Carrie Eckert:

It would be nice, if family and friends want to know how they can help, if they can just meet us where we are on the path, and be there with us as we’re headed towards the forest or whatever.

Michael:

Yeah, yeah. Be with. And I’ve learned what be with means, and it doesn’t mean fixing it. Because immediately everyday I was trying to, ” Get me out of pain, and fix it, and fix this, and try this therapy, and try this thing.” And I was always frantic trying to do this, do this, do this, do this. And I took me three flares to learn how to actually just be there with her in it, and resist my urge to try to fix or try to cheer up.

It’s the same thing we do when somebody is grieving. You’ll do what you can to get them to not be sad because you feel uncomfortable being sad. And so, you want them to feel better. Our culture is that way. It’s unacceptable to just not feel good. Somebody has to try to cheer you up or they have to try to shift it or fix it or whatever. And I’m sure you had plenty of well-meaning people. Look on the bright side or at least you got to do this this morning, or I’m sure you’ll get better, or those things. And I think what would be more valuable to hear is, ” Wow, that’s really hard what you’re doing.”

Carrie Eckert:

Yep.

Michael:

And that’s it. It doesn’t have to go further than that. Just acknowledge it and see it. And so, if you’re listening to this and someone in your life, I don’t know, how would you phrase that? What would you want to hear as the person who’s going through the challenge?

Carrie Eckert:

I don’t know that I even need for me so much words as their presence, because one of the biggest lessons I’m learning now as I’m healed and really in [crosstalk 00:37:45].

Michael:

Put that in air quotes.

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. Is the difference between being and doing, and I don’t need somebody to do anything for me. Just like I don’t need to be doing things to fix anything or make me well. Being is just being with everything, being in the moment, being with the sadness if you’re grieving, being with the pain and not running from it, if you have a fibromyalgia flare, being with the fatigue, listening to their messages, and if you have somebody who wants to help you then just their presence of allowing you to be is, I think the most helpful thing.

Michael:

That whole presence thing was the challenge for me to be able to sit with whatever was. And that’s super cliche, and I read 27 Buddhist books and meditation books and other kind of books before it ever even started to stick. And it’s really the training I’ve done at Luminous Awareness Institute that’s taught me tools and skills that I’m able to truly not BSing myself be with what is in the moment, even when it’s really hard. And the power in that for the other is, yeah, there’s like a, I don’t even know how to explain it, it shift the experience. Because the suffering is not wanting to be what is. It’s not the thing itself. The thing itself, yeah, sure, that’s not fun, but the more you resist it. And you’ve probably learned things on how that heavy resistance actually causes more nervous system haywireness, and probably contributes to you not getting better.

Carrie Eckert:

Right. Right. There’s so much resistance or so much pain in the resistance.

Michael:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. And it’s stressful on the body too. That feeling of resistance probably, I don’t know this, I’m not speaking as an expert here, but I would guess there are physiological reactions to that resentment, and that resistance, and that anger, that are definitely not conducive to putting the body into a state of healing. So, I’ve come full circle. I used to hate it when people would suggest that, the gas lighting that people get at the doctor that it’s all in your head is way different than what we’re saying. I just want to be clear on that. That’s way different. So many of our community at Rebel Health Tribe are predominantly women who have gone to doctors with symptoms similar to yours, and been told this is all in your head, here’s some antidepressants. And what we mean by acceptance and presence. I am not trying to say that. So, I want to throw in a disclaimer there because I know how painful that is to be in that boat.

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. That’s one of the first things I say when I talk about neuroplasticity, it’s not that it’s mind of over matter or all in your head, that is dismissive. That is not what this is. It’s more trying to convey this understanding that there is power. You do have power in the ability to rewire your brain. At the same time I’m not dismissing. Yeah, imagine[crosstalk 00:41:12] you’re saying.

Michael:

Yeah. I just wanted to hit, I know how sensitive people are to that. And so, neuroplasticity is like literally rewiring the nervous system connections in the brain. It’s not like you made yourself sick because you think this thing. So, now you do work with clients, yes, coaching work, revolved mostly in that area. Do you do nutrition and wellness stuff too or is it mostly neuroplasticity and neuro reprogramming?

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. It’s no nutrition because the rules were so strict in Florida, that that was another reason that it didn’t make sense for me to get a master’s in nutrition. There were-

Michael:

Oh, so you can’t do that.

Carrie Eckert:

You can possibly now, but when I was in it, it was one of three states that wasn’t allowing nutritionists, you had to be a registered dietician, a physician or an acupuncturist. And so, I haven’t even checked into it because I don’t do any counseling on nutrition at this point. When I’m coaching clients, I use different modalities to help them, some of the work of Byron Katie, a lot of somatic type work now is really what I’m leaning more toward, is really helping clients connect back with their physical body. Because the Western model of healing that we’ve grown up with in our culture tends to be about numbing and separating from our bodies, not feeling our bodies, fixing our bodies, fixing any sensations that don’t feel good, dampening them, numbing them, becoming separate from them. And this somatic work is really the opposite.

A lot of holistic modalities are more intuitive, and to be intuitive, you need to be connected to your physical body. So, we’ve got to get through this storm of resistance and partner with our physical bodies in a way that is loving and that can be really incredible to feel. Most of us are not taught to know how to feel our physical bodies, and that goes a long way into healing. So, that’s some of the work I do too, through several different modalities, through meditations that I can do over the phone to help, coaching clients over the phone, but also through therapeutic tremor and various other body centered modalities.

Michael:

Somatic work’s been kind of game changing for both of us too. I have a lot of access there. So, like my system is really well designed for somatic work. And I didn’t know because we are taught actually to not feel, especially men. And so, our culture as a whole, but men, it’s kind of like on steroids. And so, just learning to feel the things in my body and name them and acknowledge them and be with them was like a totally foreign exercise at age 39, that I learned how to do. And the power there is incredible. And a lot of the work I’m now doing on the trainings that I’m in, even with Gabo’s work is mostly psychology, but there’s a component to it where you’re always leading the client back to the body. Because you don’t heal anything with stories in your head, things need to be felt.

And so, it’s been really powerful. So, that’s exciting. Somatic meditations are amazing. That’s my favorite meditation doorway for the most part. It’s a really similar trajectory, I think. You made the progression faster. It took me 12 years to go from overeducated trainer to doing somatic work and meditations and things. But it’s a similar trajectory that’s landed in a similar place. And I think that that is really, that kind of work DNRS is getting some headway, and it’s a lot of people’s toe in the water to that kind of work now in the functional medicine space. But the deeper level work of somatic practices and somatic therapy and neural reprogramming, and a lot of different things in that energetic healing and all of that is the elephant in the room to me, when I’m in the functional medicine space now, when I’m in at conferences or with other professionals. And it’s that thing that still isn’t talked about a ton or a lot, or even in some rooms at all.

And they’ll say, “I have these clients who take all the supplements, and do all the diets, and do the nutrition, and I can’t figure it out, and they don’t get better.” And there’s one person in the room who said, ” Oh, have them go to this.” And they try that, and it’s like this huge shift. But then they don’t really know what’s out there yet. The functional medicine practitioners are really inexperienced, what I’m seeing in these types of things. So, they might have one person they sent to hypnotherapy that had awesome results, and then they sent everyone to hypnotherapy. And so, it’s just teetering right now. It’s the thing in functional medicine that they’re realizing that a lot of the most stubborn patients who make some progress, this is the level on which they need to work. And so, the people you see probably have been through quite a bit of that.

Carrie Eckert:

Yeah. Yeah. And there’s not a one size fits all and, but I do think that we need to reconnect with our physical bodies. And people are going to resonate with different ways of doing that.

Michael:

Yeah. And that’s where the goal is, I think. And there’s jokes, our culture’s completely designed to not do that. So, don’t feel bad if this is sounding foreign to you or strange, there’s a comedian that says that the only two drugs that are legal in this culture are the ones that get you to work harder and forget how much you hate it, which is caffeine and alcohol. So, to drink the caffeine all day to do the job that you hate, and then drink on the nights and the weekends to forget how much you hate your job. And that’s literally two of the biggest industries in this country. And both of those pull you out of your body. Caffeine in a different way it pulls you up here. But yeah, so don’t feel bad if you’re not there yet.

Carrie Eckert:

And so, then you see when you’re doing these things, why your body has, for those of us who’ve had mystery illnesses, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, why the body has to scream to get your attention with these big messages because you can’t hear them with the caffeine and in this and that, the things that are disconnecting you, it has to scream. When you kind of let go of that and come back you can learn to hear the body’s wisdom through its whispers instead of its screams. And it’s so much more pleasant.

Michael:

Yeah. Yes, definitely that. The volume doesn’t need to be turned up as loud if you don’t have as much ambient sound. And that could be zoning out any way you want, Netflix, binges, shopping, food, drinking, smoking, all the things, plus the chaos of life, and the stress, and this and that. It’s yeah, the body will get louder and louder and louder until it actually stops you from doing what you’re doing. And I can say that I notice subtle changes in mine now at a level that I never would’ve before and I would’ve got sick. And now it’s like, ” Oh, I feel this weird thing going on.” Or your intuition of knowing this, thing I’m doing isn’t right for me. And you’ll feel that, whereas before I would’ve gone like four years doing a thing and hating it every second and knowing that, but shoving it down. And so, I think that’s brilliantly worded, the whispers instead of the shouts, because the shouts are not fun.

Carrie Eckert:

They’re not fun. And for this type A perfectionist go, go, go personality in me did not want to succumb to the fatigue. So, I would fight those naps every afternoon. I mean, I took them, but I was mad at myself for having to take them, and I would lay down and I’d just try to go to sleep and get it over with so that I’d be rejuvenated. And it’s taken me years to come to a place where I actually look forward to those times.

And I don’t have to have the screaming need to lay down and nap anymore. I just am called to my little meditative space with my headphones, and I want to lay there and feel my physical body and listen to this meditative music, and just be. I can be there for an hour, hour and a half. But if I don’t have it one day, it’s not that I have to have it to get through the day anymore, I truly miss it, I miss that connection with myself which is creating a stronger connection with my inner knowing and my intuition, and messages that I’m able to receive in multiple ways in my body.

Michael:

It’s such an important relationship to build. There’s no more important relationship that you have than the one with your own body in your own true nature, essence, self that knows the way, and knows the right things for you to be doing. And yeah, this has been a fun conversation. So, I hope everybody got a lot out of it. I know that I learned something during this, and it sounds like when we’re chatting, it sounds, ” Oh, I’ve got this all… I can respond. Yes, yes.” And when I’m talking, it’s almost like I’m learning while I’m talking.

It’s like we’re piecing things together. And so, it was a lot of fun, and I’m really excited for the book, congratulations on that. I know how much work goes into that. And so, when they joke and saying, ” My baby’s being born.” It’s like having a baby. So, it’s a book baby. And so, congratulations on that. Well have links to your site, Avocado to Zen, underneath this when people are watching this or on the show notes, there’ll be links to your site, links to the book, links to everything they can find. How would be the best way for people to get in touch with you if they want to?

Carrie Eckert:

The contact form on my website is good. It’s at the top tab, AvocadotoZen.com and there’s a contact.

Michael:

Great. And-

Carrie Eckert:

Oh, Instagram too is the main social media I use. And that’s Avocado.to.Zen.

Michael:

Okay. We’ll make sure the link is there for them to go straight there, I’ll gather the links and we’ll get them all there. So, check out the Instagram, check out the website, the book, the book will be on the website. And we already were chatting before we came on air about some other collaborations we’re going to go forward with. So, you’ll be seeing more of Carrie on stuff that I’m doing in the near future. And I look forward to that. And thank you for sharing so openly about your story and your journey, and what you’ve learned, and where you’ve really landed I think is such a healthy spot to be in, that it almost kind of emanates and I hope people can feel that. So, thank you so much.

Carrie Eckert:

Thank you.

Michael:

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 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 next time.