March 3, 2024
How to Know if You Have Inflammation and Lower Your Toxic Burden with Maggie Berghoff

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Katie: Hello and welcome to The Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and I’m here today with my friend Maggie Berghoff to talk about how to know if you have inflammation and how to lower your toxic burden. And Maggie is an expert in this both from her research and from her personal experience. She had a pretty incredible journey with autoimmunity as well and being told that she was going to be on some pretty severe medications her whole life. She was also a nurse practitioner at the time and like many of us she really kind of got to her wits end and decided to find healing on her own. And this led her to a complete career change and now helping thousands of people as well.

And so we go deep on this whole process today, how to know what’s going on in your body, how to get the right labs, how to start healing and how to be your own primary healthcare provider. And Maggie is such an expert on this. We talk about nutrition and lifestyle and labs and other factors that you might not even know to consider. She’s definitely a wealth of knowledge and let’s jump in and learn from Maggie. Maggie, welcome back. Thanks for being here again.

Maggie: I’m so excited to be here and to share with your audience.

Katie: It’s always so, so fun to have a conversation with you. And I know that you’ve been on before. I will of course link to your other episode in the show notes. But for anybody who might be a new listener or as context for the conversation we’re gonna have today, I would love for you to tell a little bit of your story, specifically like the autoimmune and inflammation link, because I’ve talked about how I used to have a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s and I no longer do and I don’t take medication. And I believe from knowing your story, you also had a pretty scary diagnosis that you no longer have. And I think there’s so much hope and power and stories. So I would love to start there.

Maggie: Yeah, I mean, it’s incredibly important because when I had my diagnosis, all of my doctors said that I would have that forever and I don’t. So I think it’s important for the listeners to know that. When I was going through my health journey, I had a lot of different symptoms. My symptoms were migraines, extreme fatigue, bloating no matter what. I could eat like the healthiest steamed broccoli bowl and I still would be bloated. I also was dizzy. My hair was thinning, I was gaining weight. So I had a lot of symptoms and the doctors told me at first that nothing was wrong with me because my labs actually looked normal.

So I went to the doctor and I was like, I’m falling apart. I feel horrible. What is going on? And all of my labs actually showed completely normal at that time. And so the doctors would just tell me, you’re fine. And I’m like bawling my eyes out, telling them, I am not fine. But it was just kind of too soon for the traditional lab work to find out what was going on in my body. But over time, since the doctors kind of ignored my plea for help, over time, my body continued to get worse and worse and worse. And throughout that next year, it ended up actually, I had a mini stroke when I was 24 years old. And that’s when all my labs showed abnormalities, including PCOS, severe hypothyroidism, severe immunodeficiency. Like I had no immune system. It actually also was showing for kidney failure of unknown causes. They diagnosed me with POTS, so POTS. And that was the explanation for the dizziness and things like that. So I ended up with a lot of things that the doctors told me that I would have for my entire rest of my life.

Katie: Yeah, I hear so many similarities in our story because like you, of course, with Hashimoto, as I was told, it would be lifelong. And I would guess many people listening either can relate to the experience of that type of diagnosis or the experience of going to many doctors, asking questions and not getting good answers. And I know for both of us, there came kind of a turning point where we realized, and I say this all the time on here, that at the end of the day, we are our own primary healthcare providers. And if the doctors can’t fix us, which truly they can’t, we have to make the changes that we have to take the ownership for that.

I also love that you brought up symptoms because I think in your book, you powerfully reframe this as far as like making sure that people understand they’re not fixed. They can change. And also just reframing how we think of them as sort of messages from the body that indicate that the body actually wants to heal. And I think that’s a point always worth repeating anytime the opportunity presents itself is the body’s natural state is to be in abundant, beautiful health. It wants to heal, which is awesome because that means if we have symptoms, it’s trying to tell us something that it either needs that it doesn’t have or that it needs to get out that it does have. And I know in the book you talk a lot about this, like the toxic burden. Can you explain what that is and some of the sources we encounter for that?

Maggie: Yeah, so I talk about the total toxic burden and I actually have an assessment in the book that you can take and assess your total toxic burden. And then we want to reduce this number. This number means… What your current exposure to toxicities are, and then combine that with your current health history, your past health history, combined with that, it kind of shows how susceptible you are for your nagging symptoms to turn into full-blown disease. And we want to avoid that, right?

So we want to get your total toxic burden levels down so that your body can heal. Like you said, it wants to heal. I truly believe that too. And I actually believe the body is way more powerful than any doctor in the world, like way, way smarter. So if you give your body less toxic burden, less inflammation. And more of what it needs to actually be nourished and heal, it’s going to do its thing. It’s going to rebalance those hormones. It’s going to heal that gut. It’s going to help, you know, you to mitigate your migraines or whatever it is for you. And so we just have to decrease that level. And our overall toxic exposure.

But it does not have to be overwhelming. I love, you know, you can go about this very dramatic like I did when I found out this knowledge, which is really cool in full circle, because some of it came from you, Katie, is like when I found this out and about the toxicities in our plastics and the different things that we’re using, I was like, oh my God, I’m done. And I like threw away everything and I got all these stuff and it was like a complete immediate change. But I have a lot of clients and even. You know, close friends and family who take this step by step and they change even just one little thing in their life. And that one little thing soon will add up to two things, which soon adds up to three. And even one year down the road, you are in such a better place for healing than you are when you started. So wherever you are does not have to be overwhelming. It can be really bite sized little implementation things that you do.

Katie: I love that because I know for many people, especially with any type of auto immunity that leads to fatigue, it can feel overwhelming, the idea of trying to switch everything overnight. And the good news is, and you explained this so well, is you don’t have to do that to heal. Even those baby steps compound so well.

And I love any time, whether it be in business or in life or anything where you can take advantage of the law of compounding, because just like you explained, like those little things add up over time. They also little tiny changes can actually compound in a positive direction. And it seems like this is often, at least for me, a very nonlinear process where it can seem like you’re making these little changes and maybe nothing happens for a little while. And then all of a sudden, once you cross that threshold and the body’s in a better place, it’s like you can see dramatic shifts very, very rapidly, which is incredibly encouraging, I would guess, to a lot of people.

Maggie: Yes. And two things on that is, yes, it takes time, but once you get past that threshold and your body starts to rebalance, then your symptoms may start to go away and you start to heal. You know, I mean, I feel like you’re not making progress for eight months, but then on that nine months, Oh my gosh, overnight, you feel amazing. And then the other thing that I want to say about that is that as you make these little changes and your body becomes healthier, I promise you, it becomes easier to continue to make more healthy choices because now your neurotransmitters are balanced. Your hormones are more balanced. You feel more energetic. You feel happier and it’s, it’s just you’re at a different state in your life. And so it becomes easier and more desirable to choose more healthy options and continue on that path.

But when you, if you’re struggling right now, cause I’ve been there done that and you are like in the tank on E, you can hardly get through your days. I used to call this like a food hangover. Sometimes I would eat a food and I’d feel hung over for days. If you are in that moment, it probably does feel daunting, but I promise that as you make these little steps, your, you, it changes everything. Instead of continuing down that downward spiral of sicker and sicker and, you know, worse and worse, you start to go on that upward spiral. And just like a downward spiral can go really fast to the dumps, upward can go really fast to, to feeling amazing. Really, if you have the right tools, this could be six months down the road where you feel like a different human. And that is so fast, that goes so fast.

Katie: Yes, absolutely. And I think of the parallels with a few years ago, I started being much more consistent with strength training in the gym. And it felt like for the first year, like I was getting stronger in my lifts, but I didn’t feel like my body was changing visually that much. And then there came a point where all of a sudden I looked like I noticed I had all this muscle that I didn’t have before, but it was like all that foundational work. And then it almost like happened overnight. And now the same lifts are so much easier and I can maintain that with much less work.

And the same seems true with this aspect of health is that as you go in that positive direction, eventually, I know you’ve had this experience as well, you don’t have to be restricted for the long term in such an extreme way. You don’t have to put so much effort because A, these things become integrated habits in your life. And B, as your body heals, you’re able to tolerate the occasional choices that you want to make without all those negative effects.

Maggie: Yes, you build resilience. And so your, your mindset is changed because you have these new habits. So it’s easier. It’s not like a decision you have to make every day or you’re reading labels all the time, because you know, now you have the knowledge and then your body actually builds resilience and your immune system is so much stronger. So if you do have things, um, you know, say you are tailgating a football game and you’re eating the barbecue and you have a beer, it’s not the same impact to your body. You’re not going to have the same negative impact that you once had currently. So if you can get over that threshold, it becomes much easier to maintain and really enjoy your life to the fullest. While just having a different set of habits.

Katie: Yeah, I love that. I think that brings so much hope. And I know having been there as well like you have, it can seem so difficult when you’re in that phase. But to know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and that that shift’s going to happen, I feel like makes it much more sustainable to stick with it in the short term until it becomes integrated and becomes an easy habit. And to circle back, I know many people listening have also had the same experience we did where they weren’t able to get answers from a doctor. And I love that we live now in a time where access to our own health information is more accessible than it ever has been, whether it through running labs on our own. I know there’s now ways you can even get labs even if you don’t have a local doctor. We have wearable data. There’s so much that we can track and so much information that we can get, which sometimes does feel overwhelming as well. But you talk about this in the book, too. What labs do you recommend as a starting point, especially if someone hasn’t been able to get answers through conventional medicine but has the ability to run their own labs and start kind of digging in themselves?

Maggie: Yeah, it’s so cool and so fun because when I was going through my health journey, I was so upset and disappointed by all these doctor after doctor after doctor appointments and leaving with no answers. So the cool thing is, like you said, you can find out the answers yourself now. So if you are frustrated in that model and you’re not getting the help you need, help yourself. And some labs that I think are essential for everybody would be a stool exam. I know that that’s super important for myself, for a lot of our clients. A stool exam will show you if you have a parasite, if you have bacterial overgrowth, what you may need to do. Are you eating the right amount of nutrients, but your body’s not absorbing them? Or maybe it’s not breaking it down. And the labs will actually also help you to review your information. They’ll actually give you a PDF of your results and kind of help guide you in that right direction. They don’t know everything going on in your life, of course. So it’s not 100% personalized, but it’s very helpful.

Another test that I would do is a micronutrient test. So just figuring out all your nutrient levels, If your nutrients are in the tank, and I’m talking like magnesium and D’s, B’s, all that kind of stuff, if your nutrient levels are in the tank, that’s what your body needs to live. Like that’s what your body needs to function. And so you are gonna feel crappy and it’s gonna be harder to heal. But if you know what you’re deficient in and you can support your body, whether that be through food or supplementations to boost those things, that’s an easy step that you can take that will allow your body to start to do what it’s supposed to do. You don’t have to worry about, you know, all the complexities of healing the body. You just have to give it the right nutrients. And so you can find that out about yourself.

And then a third test that I think is, it was critical in my healing journey. And I think that it depends on your personality of if this is helpful or not. But for me, a food intolerance test was very helpful. And there are some on the market that I think are not very accurate and not very good, but there are a couple that are more of an investment that I do think that they do a good job testing this. And for me, it was just helpful to know like, okay, here are the things that might, even if it’s not harmful, perfect. Here are the things that might be causing me more inflammation. I’m just gonna take that out because I’m already like fighting this upward battle, right? Trying to fight inflammation. If I know that perhaps celery is causing my body grief, I’m just gonna not eat celery right now. And so that was really helpful to me, for me to see a black and white guideline of perhaps the foods that are not nourishing to me, even though they’re, you know, thought of as healthy. They are causing inflammation in my body. And that was really helpful to see for myself.

Katie: Yeah, I think that speaks to another beautiful thing happening with this access to our own health data is understanding that there’s essentially no universally healthy food or universally damaging food, although I would put things like vegetable oils and sugar in the category of never necessary. But realizing there’s such a personalization aspect to this and an individualized aspect to this. And I’ve said before, that’s where the real power lies for all of us is in finding out our own answers because there’s so many people we can learn from. And I love that the Internet has made that accessible.

And also, when someone, even speaking as myself, has found out what worked for me, that’s what worked for me. And that blueprint directly is not going to work the same for another person. But the framework of understanding how I got to that point can be really helpful. And so I feel like that’s how your approach works is you take people through the framework to find their actual personalized answers versus like a cookie cutter. Eat this, not this. But no, find out what works for you and build from there.

And a couple of things you touched on also reminded me, it seems like almost always, if not always, there is some sort of gut connection anytime we’re talking about inflammation. But I would love for you to break this down for us, because I think often when we have a skin issue, for instance, or a hormone issue, our first thought isn’t necessarily like, oh, I need to look at my gut health. But often this seems like a thread that is woven through everything.

Maggie: Yeah, it is all connected. And so, you know, your bloating might also be the cause for your hypothyroidism. Like it might be connected that that’s the reason, or anxiety and depression. We know a lot of the neurotransmitters that contribute to those emotions and those moods. Are made in the gut lining. And so when we focus on an overall body healing system, we’re not gonna just target one thing. The gut actually has been seen to be a very, I guess like the biggest bang for your buck. You heal your gut, you’re probably gonna heal a lot of other things that you’re struggling with.

And so even if you’re not having gut related symptoms right now, like constipation, bloating, diarrhea, etc, it might be an area that if you focus on that, if you do a stool exam and you find out, oh, I have some abnormalities here, it might be possible by fixing those, you’re gonna fix five other problems that you have. So it’s just a great way to help to rebalance your body and to focus on, like I said, kind of like the biggest thing for your buck, you heal your gut, you’re gonna heal the other things too. And it’s not always the opposite if you focus on perhaps healing your hormones only, and that’s your big objective is, I have hormonal problems, so I’m gonna heal my hormones. If you only focus on that, you actually might not get the answers you’re looking for.

But if you focus on your gut health, you may. Because you’re kind of focusing at that root cause complication. Now, I believe it’s not one or the other. I believe it’s everything. Because I personally struggle, I told you, with hormonal problems. This was back when I was a kiddo, before I had the big symptoms. I never even had a period growing up. I was like a teenager and I never had a cycle. The first time I actually had cycles was when I went on birth control. So clearly something was messed up prior to my body and having all these complications that I knew of. And so look, it’s a long-term thing.

But if I had only healed my gut because of the bloating. I might not get to the same answers because I had such hormonal dysregulation that I was anxious, I was craving carbs and sugars all the time so I wanted to binge eat, but then I also wanted to be fit so then I would like yo-yo and restrict. It was horrible. But by simultaneously looking at my labs and looking at what’s going on in my life and prioritizing certain things, reducing inflammation, reducing toxicities, healing my mindset around everything, you know, lessening my stress and targeting hormones and gut health, it just comes together to this beautiful state of health. And so, yes, focus on the gut, but also it’s a holistic approach to everything.

Katie: Yeah, and I love this about functional medicine in general. It’s always a both/and. Whereas often in conventional medicine, not always, but often it seems like the tendency is to laser focus on a symptom, which as you just explained, sometimes lets you miss the thing that’s actually causing the symptom and that could actually help you undo it.

And also with the caveat that we talked about, everything is so personalized and individualized. I know there are also, especially for someone with a high level of inflammation, some good general guidelines when it comes to nutrition especially. So I would love to delve into kind of your general guidelines starting point for nutrition and then obviously someone can build with food intolerance testing or gut testing what their specifics will look like.

Maggie: Yeah, so when you’re in this state, you want to get better. So there are certain things that we know are going to help you get better and certain things that are not going to contribute to that journey. And so if you are serious about this, I really think you should go all in on reducing inflammation in your food as much as possible, which would be eating real food. So less packaged goods, because we know that they contain inflammatory oils, artificial flavorings, perhaps, food dyes. That is not going to contribute to your wellness, but a nice amazing meal of actual real whole foods would contribute to that.

I would say the three things I think would help you decrease inflammation the most is reducing grains, not just gluten, but actual grains. So grains, dairy and sugar. There’s no way that if you reduce or eliminate grains, dairy and sugar, you are going to cause more inflammation. There is a hundred percent chance that that’s not going to damage you. And there’s a huge chance that’s gonna help you a lot. And so even if you don’t know for 100% sure if you should take those things out, it is going to help you. So if you are ready to get help, reduce that or eliminate that for a period of time. And not like a week and then say it didn’t work. I mean like three solid months. You do not eat grains or dairy or sugar for the most part. And you’re coming at it not from like a place of fear or like, oh, I have to do this or some diet. You’re coming at it because you are excited as heck to feel your best and you know that those foods cause inflammation and you’re like, I’m not going to give that to my body right now. We’re on a journey. We’re going to get better. I want to feel amazing.

And so I would say general guidelines, you know, eat real food and reduce those three things or eliminate those three things. And I would say, I guess another one is alcohol. It’s not going to help you heal. You know that, right? And I’m not saying you have to give this up for forever. You can if you want, but you don’t have to. But if you are wanting to go on this journey, that is not going to help you heal. And you know that. So if you can remove alcohol for maybe that three months, you will feel better. And so it’s just a matter of, do you want to feel better right now or not? And it’s up to you. It’s not up to your doctor or up to your bestie to tell you what to do. It’s up to you. If you do, you want to feel better. And if you do… Following those guidelines that I just said, you’re gonna feel significantly better in three months.

Katie: And I know you and I have both talked about and or enjoyed at conferences, Dry Farm Wines. And I love that their founder, even when I’ve had him on this podcast talks about that, he’s like, alcohol is objectively toxic, full stop. That said, like you said earlier, if you’re in a place where you’ve built resilience and you have all these other things in line, it’s something the body can handle once in a while, especially in moderation. But I love that he even owning an alcohol company really is transparent about like, this is not something that is health promoting. That doesn’t mean you can’t have it. That doesn’t mean you can’t mitigate it. But if you’re in that active healing phase, you may be a little more gentle with yourself than once you’re healed. And then you have that resilience and you get to choose where you put that resilience and how you sort of spend that resilience that you’ve built.

And I love that because again, it goes back to that hope and knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. None of this has to be a forever and ever, never again will I ever do these things. It’s a, I’m gonna take however many months or years and really just heal and give my body some grace and know that it’s got me, it’s got my back and that we’re friends. And then in the end, there’s gonna be resilience and energy and I’m gonna thrive. And to piggyback on the nutrition side. I know there are also a lot of lifestyle habits that are extremely supportive. Again, also some that are not supportive. So with the understanding, again, once that there’s personalization and individualization, what are some of the baseline kind of good and bad lifestyle habits?

Maggie: Exactly. And this off the lifestyle habits, it comes down to you. Like no one can make you do this, but you do. So it’s really a mindset thing of I’m going to be the person who does this thing and, you know, faking it. So you make it for a little bit. That’s not going to be easy because new habit you make, but then it becomes second nature. So things like sleep quality, right? We know sleep is critical. Like you are going to have a much harder time to heal. If you are not getting accurate quality and quantity of sleep, not just like the hours, the actual deep, good healing sleep.

So in the book, I talk a lot about sleep hygiene and how to optimize that. And sometimes it even starts in the morning time to set your circadian rhythm and start to get into this new body routine, because then your body can work during the day like it’s supposed to and heal and rest during the night. So that’s one area.

Another lifestyle thing is just really mindset. Stress and anxiety is poison. And it can even be good stress. I talk about that. I have a lot of good stress in my life. I’m very excited about a lot of things. I’m going to awesome places and I’m excited about it, but it’s still putting my body in a sympathetic nervous system state, like sustained. So you don’t know how to activate, whether it’s good stress or bad stress. If you don’t know how to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for healing and digesting and rebalancing, you’re gonna come into trouble. You’re going to have health decline. And so really just focusing on reducing overall stress.

For me, full disclosure, a lot of my stress when I first was sick, and maybe this is something that you relate to as a listener, a lot of my stress was around decisions. I personally had such a hard time making decisions and it would stress me out. I would like to stew over something so silly. Or like, at the time it felt so important to me, but I would just stew over things and worry and it would cause so much stress and anxiety. And then I would eat from my emotions and then I would not sleep because I was thinking so much about this. So for me personally, like chilling out and not caring so much about stuff really helped. It really, really helped. And so that’s another area.

And then the third thing I’ll talk about is the non-toxic living. So just generally, or generally living a more less toxic lifestyle is a great lifestyle habit to have. You know, the less toxins that you have in your household cleaners and your hygiene items and your beauty products day to day, that adds up to make such a big impact in your health. And the coolest thing about that is that once you replace an item with a more non-toxic item, it doesn’t matter. You wake up every day in a healthier state and you don’t have to do anything extra. So it’s really, really a great place to focus to reduce inflammation without it really impacting you at all, or you having to think about it at all.

Katie: That’s a great point. And I would say now as compared to 16 years ago when I started this journey, there are so many more products available to make that an almost seamless switch, whether it be non-toxic laundry products or cleaning products or personal care. Like all those things I was having to figure out how to make in my kitchen are now easy to buy and often similar pricing as the toxic ones. So I love that we’ve started to see the mainstream shifts around that.

And to highlight what you said also, I know when I was in the kind of intensive healing phase, I had to lean into sleep a lot and I had to pay attention to realizing like, oh, I’ve been in sympathetic nervous system dominance for at least a decade, probably without getting into parasympathetic at all. And so right now I’m going to be so gentle with myself and I’m going to sleep a ton and I’m going to just do gentle movements. Like I would do walking and swimming and I was not doing high intensity. I was not trying to push it in the gym and I was listening to my body and now I have the resilience to push really hard in the gym. But I didn’t then that would have kept me probably from healing as quickly.

Maggie: That’s a great point. I stopped working out completely. But when you are in the tank and your body has no energy, you don’t have energy to crush it in the gym and build muscles. And so that is a really important thing. And I’ve had a lot of my clients stop their workouts and just trust the process. And all I need you to focus on is healing your body. Like act like you’re a little child and you are sick and give yourself the TLC you need. And then yes, exercise is great for us. We know this, da da da, you know, do that later. But it’s actually damaging if you’re doing it in a state of health define. It can be counterintuitive.

Katie: Yeah, I’m so glad you highlighted that. And yeah, like you, I didn’t work out like anything that would have been exercise. I think movement and exercise should be their own categories. And I like found like only gentle, like I mean, gentle walks in nature, getting sunshine, breathing fresh air, ideally barefoot on the beach. But no, I was not jogging. I was not lifting. I was definitely not doing high intensity. And it was, I think, really helpful for that healing. So I love that we talked about that.

And I guess in hindsight, we could have actually swapped this order, but we just talked a whole lot about the physical side of this. And I know from reading so much of your work, that you also are very aware of what I feel like is at least equally important or potentially more important, which is the mindset that goes into healing. And I think often, if we can take a mindset first approach, it makes the physical changes and the practical changes so much easier.

And I know for me, this was a missing link for a long time, because I thought I could just like plan my way and logic my way and willpower my way into all these changes. And I’ve talked about my story before, but it wasn’t until I actually addressed my mindset and my emotions, that actually all those other things sort of like caught up and were able to be effective. And you also talk about mindset so well in the book. And you mentioned when you were in that acute phase, you had decision stress, and you had just like fatigue and all these things. So I would love to now delve into the world of mindset around healing and how to support our body through supporting our mindset.

Maggie: Yeah, well, I would never have healed if I didn’t fix my mindset around food. That was one of the big ones for me. And we talked about like stress, of course, and anxiety in my decision making, but specifically food, I typically used it to be fit in the gym. Like I would follow workout plans and not from like a weird, toxic place, I was just online and whatever plan they would give me aligned with that workout. That’s what I did. But those plans are not healthy. And so that and so that I the mindset of ground to just really viewing food as nursing, not being afraid of any kind of food. If I eat any kind of food, even if it’s not conducive to wellness, there’s zero shame guilt around that at all. Like if I want to eat, you know, pecan pie and ice cream and it’s not dairy free and organic and all this kind of stuff, truly enjoying the moment that I’m in eating that and enjoying the company and being together with everybody because then it’s not going to actually cause that much damage to your body.

But what I used to do is either not eat it, and then I would be like bummed I didn’t eat it. And then I’d be craving things so bad that eventually I would like binge out on whatever by myself. Or I would eat it and then I would feel guilty around that. Like I did something bad and the next day I would want to like go on a cleanse or a juice or go work out extra hard. That cycle is so toxic. And I promise if you’re stuck there, like there is hope to get out of there. Cause I remember feeling like there’s, I remember being so nervous even to have children in the future because I didn’t know how I would be able to have like peanut butter and like snacks and not just binge out on them. That’s how much of a toxic relationship that I had with food.

So in like healing that and truly addressing nutrition, as I’m nourishing my body and how awesome that I get to choose how I feel each day by the food I put in. And even if that’s a pecan pie with ice cream and it’s not all of those things, that’s fine. And truly being in the moment, that was critical. There’s no way that I could heal without that missing component.

And then the other missing component is, like I said, caring less about stuff. I cared just too much about things and that causes me mental stress. And so instead of caring so much about my decisions or my path in life or the outcome of my health journey, I really took a step back and just started to embrace the journey that I was in right now. The process. I embraced and fell in love with the process of healing or the process of building my life instead of even thinking about the outcome. Because I knew and I realized if I do that, I’m going to get the outcome. And it’s probably gonna be even better than I would imagine in the first place, which spoiler alert it is. I feel healthier and happier and more vibrant than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. And it led me to a career change, helping people in like a different type of way because I just feel so much better. And so really focusing on those two areas of mindset is a critical piece of the puzzle.

Katie: Well, and for context, for people who don’t know your story, you, I believe, were a nurse practitioner, right? So you had like a pretty big career shift and I’m sure have been able to take a lot of that knowledge and the best parts of conventional medicine and then now you’ve added on so much more deeper understanding. But I can only imagine that must have been quite the career shift from what you had planned originally.

Maggie: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, I planned to be a nurse practitioner my basically my entire life. And I did it. I graduated from a school I was really proud of, university for undergrad and grad school. I got my dream job at the hospital that I wanted to work at my whole entire life. And I worked really hard for that. I mean, I was I worked really hard for that. And but as I healed my body, it’s interesting. My my whole world started to open up in a different way where I’m like, I had different goals than I once had. I and I have so much more energy. I have so much more passion. I have ambition toward a different thing.

And I honestly was so mad at traditional medicine after I healed my body and was left told that I’d be on IV therapy the rest of my life and medications. There’s a lot in my life. My doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to have babies unless we do like deep treatments and things like that. When I completely got off all my medications, healed my body fully, felt more better than I ever felt, lost weight naturally that I had gained from the inflammation and had three babies naturally. I was kind of mad that like no one is helping other people in this way. At least they weren’t at the time as much as they are now.

And so I really, I knew that being an respite conditioner, although that used to be my dream, my true dream, that was no longer the dream that fulfilled me. And that was no longer my mission in life. I knew that I had a bigger mission in life to help people through health and wellness in a different way. And it’s where my passion was. So I did have a big career change. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that, to build companies, if I was still stuck in my health problems. There’s no way. So it really, all is just connected. And I’m excited for everybody listening because imagine what’s gonna open up for your life. If you spend the next X amount of months or years on your health and you become a completely different human because you’re like the best version ever of yourself, imagine what’s gonna change in your life, your relationships, how you are as a mom or a business owner or an employee or whatever it is, you know? It’s gonna change everything for you.

Katie: Yeah. Well, it sounds like for you, it wasn’t that your purpose changed because it seems like your whole life you had a desire to help people, but your context for how you were able to do that changed and got much more robust and you were able to do it in all kinds of new ways you hadn’t even imagined before that shift.

To circle back to the mindset stuff too, I love that you talked about falling in love with the journey and being in the moment. I’ve read several times now the book Be Here Now, and it’s become almost like an inner mantra of sorts. When I feel myself getting stressed, I’m like, deep breath, where am I here? When am I now? Just be here now. And I feel like almost always stress is at least tied to the past or the future. And if we can come center back in the present moment, it makes whatever the decision is easier, it makes the stress less. And I think those simple things are often so overlooked because they are simple, whether it be just breathing in a certain way to reset your nervous system or kind of auditing and paying attention to your inner speak and your thoughts. But I would love to hear any tips from you because I know you have several in the book for kind of like resetting mindset, resetting the nervous system, coming back to the present moment.

Maggie: Yeah. So like you said, the be here now, just really embracing that the things you’re stressing yourself out that much, it feels so big, but it does not matter. It just, it does not matter. Just like starting to really embrace that for me, some mindset things that helped me to be in the moment, um, around nutrition, it was kind of mantra. If I talk in the book about grocery store mantras instead of grocery store lifts. So I would say to myself all the time, it’s not like, you know, I already knew the basics of ingredients because I educated myself on that. And I figured that out and you’re going to learn that too in the book. But then from there it’s more so consciously choosing what I want to eat. And I would say to myself, I eat to nourish my body. And even so if that was a smoothie and I have like all this great stuff in it, I eat to nourish my body. I’d be like so excited. And I would visualize, I still do this, like the nutrients just like flooding my body and just soaking up into my cell and like giving me everything that I need. So I eat to nourish my body. And I still would say that exact same thing if it was a chocolate brownie, I eat to nourish my body and I would appreciate that. And I would love that.

And I would have healthy swaps available for myself, which I talk about in the book, healthy swaps. So instead of eating maybe a traditional chocolate brownie, I would opt for the one that’s organic, maybe a little less sugar, real ingredients, gluten free, dairy free. I would opt for that. Cause I know, although I’m going to eat a chocolate brownie regardless, so I might as well eat the one that is less inflammatory for my body and then appreciate the heck out of it. So that was helpful around that.

Other things is breathing techniques. I would definitely feel like, I wouldn’t say that I ever had true anxiety, but I would be anxious at times from stress and decision. And so a breathing strategy that really helped me was to slowly breathe and just count to five, hold my breath for five seconds, exhale for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and do that a couple of times. No one even has to know you are doing that. You can do that in the car, at work, around your kids, whatever, and just really resetting and getting in the moment again versus reacting and thinking and doing in a state of… Anxiety and stress. So breathing techniques.

You mentioned outside nature slow walks that every time that you take a walk, even if you don’t want to take that walk, if you’re out in nature and you take that walk, I guarantee you’re going to feel better. You’re just going to feel more relieved, more relaxed. It’s going to reset like what’s important to you in life almost, you know, and just kind of being in that moment versus in survival mode of your day to day. So even a quick walk outside really, really helps to reset that nervous system.

Katie: Yeah, I think what you said about our appreciation around food and our energy around nourishing ourselves makes a huge difference, of course, in our mindset. But also, I’ve seen at least a few studies. I’m not going to probably remember the exact percentage change they noticed in these studies. But when they actually gave the two different groups the same exact food or milkshake or whatever it was, but they were told different things about what was in it. And the ones who were told it was more nourishing and had more healthy fats or whatever actually reported feeling more nourished and their body, like their labs even changed in relation to how they perceived the food.

And so I think this is like not a very well explored yet area of understanding nutrition, but it does seem like perhaps our mindset is so much more important to how our body absorbs food and how we feel with the food in our bodies. So I love that you said, you know, even if you’re going to eat the brownie, like appreciate the heck out of the brownie, definitely don’t have guilt. I would say guilt is probably the worst junk food we can put in our body when it comes to food.

Maggie: 100%. I know what you’re talking about. And it’s so intriguing because, um, yeah. And then the people who thought that this movie was like bad for you, like they had different chemical reactions to that. So it’s, it’s number one, if you go through life and you’re happier and you care less and you’re enjoying the process and you’re, you’re thrilled and excited about your journey. I, I call this, um, you know, being so obsessively grateful for where you are while simultaneously striving for your future growth. But in that moment, just being grateful for that, you are going to have a happier, healthier life.

Or you can choose to stay super stressed out, super anxious, always worried about the outcome. Always thinking that you’ve got to do xyz and all this kind of stuff and just focus on the outcome and the to-do list versus embracing the journey, you’re not going to have the same outcome. And it’s been shown that you might not heal. I mean, truly, your mindset toward being open to healing your body and truly believing at your core that you can heal your body, that will help you heal your body. If you are negative about this, no, not hiring a doctor or getting your labs done, or even taking a supplement, you might say stuck because your mindset’s not ready to heal. And there’s a lot of science behind this.

And this is not my expertise, but I can tell you from experience in working with clients, the clients who are open and excited about healing and they’re like, tell me what to do. Oh my gosh, I’m so excited. I can’t wait to feel better. They start to feel better. They’re implementing the thing. This comes more easy to them and they have a more fun time doing it. Then there are clients who come and they’re already like shocked. And then like that they’re hiring you or like they want to do this stuff, but they’re just, they’re already thinking to themselves, I know this isn’t gonna work. That they’re going to have a harder journey and might not heal. Um, and so I just think it’s so important to. Maintain the hope and also believe in yourself so deeply like you will you will heal and you are going to change your life that one thought hang on to that. So it’s gonna help you every single day of this journey.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. And this is another area where the studies fascinate me because we know actually statistically, placebo is the strongest drug that we have, period, across the board. And that’s why we test against it because our mindset is so powerful that can actually alter our response to something that actually could be totally inert and not doing anything for us, but our mindset is. And so I love this because I feel like that is an area that can be a lot of work to curate, but we have control over our mindset. And a little bit more in the world of gratitude, but studies have looked at this as well, like having a gratitude practice, having reminders of gratitude, it actually shifts your physiology over time as well. And I know for me, this was a journey that’s still ongoing, but I realized looking backwards in my life, I can see even the things that seemed so difficult and almost like unsurvivable at the time became things that led to beautiful changes in my life or strength I would never have known otherwise or meeting people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. And so in hindsight, I’m super grateful for them.

And I realized, wow, what if I could shift my mindset to find gratitude even in the moments that seem difficult? And I’m still by no means perfect at it. But what I’ve noticed is when I do that, those moments seem much less difficult. And my mind naturally goes toward the gratitude piece and also to the hope and the healing and the solutions versus getting stuck in that sort of like loop of negativity that can happen when we’re going through something difficult. Very understandably, but it seems like that mindset shift alone, just having a daily gratitude practice and learning to look for things you’re grateful for, can it shift not only your mindset, but over time, your physiology too.

Maggie: It can. And I think that that’s a powerful reason of why I was able to heal. Really. And all people is that gratitude component. Knowing that, no, I’m not where I want to be in life right now. I just gained 40 pounds in the last couple of months. I’m miserable. I look like crap. I feel like crap. But still being grateful for the process, it didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen at first. I was not grateful at first. I was mad that I was sick and all this stuff was happening and nobody was helping me. I was mad.

But once I took control of that power and I took my health into my own hands and I changed the story, I was telling myself and I truly embraced the journey. Everything changed. And so wherever you are in your life, if you can just learn to be obsessively grateful about all of it, it can be the tiniest little moment, the tiniest little thing like, you know, you’re sitting next to your kiddo during the day. Eating lunch and you’re just like, oh my God, they’re so cute. I’m so grateful. Yeah, they were screaming their face off 15 minutes ago, but like, oh, I’m so grateful for this moment. That, it changes things in your life and it changes how you go through your life.

And so even if you’re not where you want to be right now, instead of being mad or upset that you’re not there or jealous of other people who are there or thinking about your past or what got you and why you’re stuck, instead of thinking about those things, Focus on your day right now and be grateful for where you are, knowing that everything happens for a reason, this is a part of your story, and you get to write the next chapter. And your actions right now are going to dictate what that next chapter says. So you have the power to change everything, and it’s up to you.

Katie: And I’ve heard it said before, I thought this was beautiful, that gratitude is the emotional feeling of having already received. And so if we start to have that emotion within us, I feel like makes it easier to receive whatever it is we’re working on, whether it be healing or whatever. And I think also it reminds me of the importance of our inner language, because I’ve heard psychiatrists talk about how our body does not actually know the difference between what’s happening in our physical world and what our subconscious perceives or is emotionally imagining is happening. And so our thoughts can have such a powerful effect on all aspects of our life.

And I noticed this in myself, and again, it was a slow journey, but realizing I was asking myself at the time when I was trying to heal and wasn’t, I was asking really bad questions. Like I was asking like, why is this so hard? Why am I sick? Why can’t I lose weight? And of course my subconscious would answer those questions and be like, oh, well you’ve had six kids or oh, you have thyroid disease or whatever. And so it was answering the questions I was asking. I just wasn’t asking the questions because I actually wanted to answer.

And so I started trying to pay attention and audit my questions and also pay attention to the words, anything that came after the words, I am. So I stopped saying I am sick and I started saying I am healing or every day I’m healing more and more. And I know those are subtle, like subtle small things and they can seem so insignificant, but over time I felt like my inner voice actually changed and I expected to get better and I expected to feel better and better each day. And I chose, I realized I couldn’t punish myself into losing weight, but when I changed that language, I wanted to nourish myself more. It became an easier shift, an easier choice because I was doing it out of love for myself instead of punishing myself.

Maggie: Yeah, and you’ve accepted that you’re not to your outcome yet, but you’re excited to get there. And it really is, it’s not a tiny detail to, like this is critical that you understand this piece and you embrace it. That’s also why I talk a lot about in the book, it’s not like a list of what you can’t have. I know that messed me up, and I’m sure it’s probably messed a lot of you guys up trying to follow something of what you can’t have. So instead I focus on what would be most nourishing to my body. And then you get this whole list of amazing things that you should add. And it has you add those things and you heal your body. The other things kind of naturally mitigate, but it’s just a change of focus. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have or what’s bad, what can you add and what’s amazing and what’s gonna flood your body with these nutrients. And it really starts to even out.

Another thing that I tell my clients a lot is I have them, you know, I don’t like like the fake it till you make it type of thing, but I do think mindset is so important. So even when they feel like crap, I have them say in the morning, like, like you said that I am. So say someone struggles with rheumatoid arthritis. I’ll be like, I am so glad I’m not in pain today. I’m so glad I finally healed my RA. I’m so glad I know exactly what you’re, I’m so glad I’m confident around my choices. I’m so glad that I’m so glad I’m not worried about my weight anymore, or whatever it is.

And every morning, just like waking up and first thing, saying that you’re going to shift your whole day and you’re actually going to make choices that lead to that outcome that you’re so glad about. So suddenly it’s actually reality and it just, it’s critical to this healing journey. And if you haven’t tried it yet and you’re struggling with your health, I bet you’ve tried a diet before and I bet you tried a lot of other things or supplement or whatever. So if you haven’t tried it yet, be open to it. And like here, Katie and I will say, like this was transformational for us and the open possibility that that might be one of the missing keys in your life is your mindset and how you’re talking to yourself.

Katie: And you mentioned that you’re now a mom to three kids after being told you would never potentially be able to have kids. And I’m curious how these life lessons that you’ve learned and that you help your clients with come into play in your family environment as well.

I talk a lot on here of as we as adults, like heal from physical things, from emotional things, whatever it is, as moms, part of our focus is also like, how can I make this an easier journey for my kids? Or how can I give my kids a good framework so that perhaps their learning curve isn’t so steep when they’re my age? And so I would love to hear any tips you have as a mom of practical ways you implement these things with your kids at home and or like, how do you help them develop a healthy mindset from a young age and how is your language around them, you know, built on what you’ve learned?

Maggie: Well, first and foremost, every single day, my kids, since they were born, they get to wake up with less toxin burden because I prioritize, you know, organic bedding for their cribs and… Healthier meals and we don’t shop, we do shop our pantry fridge you know, things like that. We shop organic, we shop, you know, gluten-free, we shop really great quality things. So every single day they’re already set up for success.

They’ve been drinking out of glass water bottles since they were born, you know, the pans, all that kind of stuff. And if you’re feeling like, oh, shoot, I didn’t do that, don’t worry, there’s still time for you, you can make the change whenever you want. And so number one, that. I know that when they wake up in their house where they spend a lot of their time, I’m reducing their toxic burden.

The other thing is mindset around food. Although I know that some foods are conducive to a vibrant, healthy life, and some you’re not gonna feel so well, I never want my kids to be afraid of food. I hated that I had that mindset. I personally grew up with a mom who was always dieting and always on like the next drink or the next whatever and always also upset that she never was at her dream weight. And that definitely impacted myself and my sisters, like for sure. And so I never want them to see that from me. I want them to see me nourishing my body from a place of love. And me never, like having an ice cream cone and then be like, oh shoot, I shouldn’t have had that. I don’t want them to hear that from me. I’ll never, I’ll never do that. And so just showing by example, how I eat and nourish my body and then never telling them that, you know, something is bad for them. Rather the restaurant and they order mac and cheese. I’m like, oh my gosh, it looks so good. How is it? I’m not telling them that’s not good for you. Do this instead. I would never do that.

So I just think that those two components are huge and we’ll help them through a lot of things. And, you know, you mentioned mindset naturally their mindset and their mental health will improve because of those two things, because of the nutrition, the less inflammation and the less toxicity. So they’re not going to be working so hard against something. It’s going to be more, it’s going to be easier for them really.

Katie: I love that. I think that’s a great balanced approach where you’re not, and I do the same thing. I’m not restricting what my kids eat, especially if they’re not at our house. When we’re home, like you, I cook nourishing healthy food because that’s what we do in our house and that’s what’s in our house. But when they’re out somewhere, I’m not going to be the mom that steps in and is like, you can’t eat that. Or again, with telling them food is bad. Because I feel like that mindset is actually, especially for kids, more important. And it’s to me the priority that they learn how to listen to their own bodies.

Because just like we talked about, everyone is so personalized and individualized. Long-term, they have better data about their own body and their experience and how they feel than I do, even as their mom. And so wanting to keep top of mind, like how do I help them curate that awareness at an age long before hopefully I learned how to do that. I love that. And you’ve shared so, so much wisdom. Another question, a little bit off topic. Well, I want to make sure we mention your book as well. We’ve touched on it a little bit through this, but let people know what it is, where they can find it. And of course it will be linked in the show notes as well, but it gets so much more comprehensive than we can cover in just a podcast. So where can people keep learning from you?

Maggie: Well, it’s called Eat to Treat. So you’ll wanna, you can get that anywhere you would buy a book, but if you want just to go to eattotreat.com, you can find it. And the book is really a three part series. Part one is figuring out what’s going on in your body. Why do you have these symptoms? What’s wrong with you? With the part one.

Number two is the lifestyle. So anti-inflammatory lifestyle. I guess, like I go, we would have to talk for like 10 hours to go through all of this stuff. But anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

And then part three is eat to treat, but I’m sure you can gauge. It’s not a diet plan. I’m going to teach you how to have a lifelong tool to have a healthy body, to heal your body, and then to maintain resilience so that you’re not pristine, perfect, and have to isolate yourself from all these situations anymore. And you know, that’s a temporary perhaps thing to. To be more cognizant of what you’re eating, but I want you to have long-term wellness. So that’s what the book is. You can check it out and I’m excited for you guys to read that.

Katie: And I will also link to your website because you have so much information on there as well that people can just read and jump in immediately as well. Speaking of books though, I would love to know if there is a book or number of books that have profoundly impacted you personally and if so, what they are and why.

Maggie: So actually I’m not a huge reader, but there was one specific book that changed everything for me. And we both know the author, JJ Virgin. When I was struggling, I had never heard of functional medicine. I did not know this world existed. And I was a nurse practitioner, remember. So this was not that long ago, which blows my mind. But my aunt had told me like, just Google functional medicine, Maggie. Like there’s hope for you. You can heal, you know, just Google it. And that kind of led me down this rabbit hole of enrolling into IFN and all this kind of stuff. And my aunt or my mom, one of them gave me JJ Virgin’s book, The Sugar Impact Diet. And reading that clicked something for me where I’m like, I mean, I swear, I highlighted the entire thing, but it was just like talking about the ingredients in your food and the chemicals and the impact that, you know, corn and sugar may have on your insulin levels and how that impacts your hormone and your mood. And that just helped me because it made me realize like, you know, maybe I’m not broken. Maybe like, this is not my path. And maybe I just had no idea that what I’m doing, my body from what I’m eating is impacting me this bad. And so that was huge. And I’m hopeful that you should get that book or check out Eat to Treat because obviously I mirror a lot of that because you need to know it. And so that, if you know, like that was huge for me. That changed everything.

Katie: I love it. I’ll link to that as well. I’m also friends with and love JJ and I know she was one of the early voices in this world. And I think we owe all of us so much to the work that she did and that we’ve all now gotten to build from. And again, also highlight and recommend your book because I think there’s so many just gold tips in there woven throughout the whole thing. I definitely highlighted a lot in your book. So both of those will be linked in the show notes for you guys listening. Those are always at wellnessmama.com. But Maggie, it’s always such a joy to speak to you. Thank you so much for going so deep today and sharing so much of your wisdom and your story. So grateful for your time.

Maggie: I’m so grateful to be here and you know, my hope is that just even one of you is inspired today to take change of your life and just know that you can be a completely different human than you are right now. Your story’s not cut in stone and you can heal. I’m excited for all of you guys to do that.

Katie: And thanks as always to all of you for listening and sharing your time with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of The Wellness Mama Podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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