Insight Mind Body Talk

Free Your Brain & Allow Your Body to Move Well with guest, Annie Forest

June 06, 2021 Jessica Warpula Schultz, LMFT Season 1 Episode 11
Insight Mind Body Talk
Free Your Brain & Allow Your Body to Move Well with guest, Annie Forest
Show Notes Transcript

In today’s episode, Jess and her guest Annie Forest talk MOVEMENT.  Movement isn't just about fitness! It is a full brain - body - mind experience that opens us up to deep connection, healing, and growth.   

 Annie is the owner of Forest Coaching and Studios.  She is 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, a Strong First Level II Kettlebell Instructor, and Certified TRX instructor.  She'll share new ways to experience exercise. She’ll give tips on "freeing up your brain to allow your body to move well", explain how to increase your understanding of your body as something that is empowering, and we’ll talk about showing up for your Whole Self in - and out - of the gym.

Continue Learning

-Forest Coaching and Studios
        Instagram: @forest_coaching

       *Learn more in Annie's free Cornerstones Class (a self-study course in neurology and the ways that mindfulness, metabolism and movement create a holistic approach to health) :

 -The Polyvagal Theory  

        The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-regulation.  Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D.   

        Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation.  Deborah A. Dana, LCSW  

        Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of the Polyvagal Theory. Deborah A. Dana, LCSW  

        Stephen Porges, PhD.  

        Deb Dana, LCSW 

  -Z Health


Produced by Jessica Warpula Schultz
Edited by Jessica Warpula Schultz

Music by Jason A. Schultz

Insight Mind Body Talk. Also, check out our e-courses!

Freeing Your Brain to Allow Your Body to Move Well


[00:00:00] welcome to Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-based mental health podcast. We're your hosts, Jessica Warpula Schultz  and Jeanne Kolker. Whether you've tried everything to feel better and something is still missing or you've already discovered the wisdom of the body.  This podcast will encourage and support you in healing old wounds, strengthening relationships, and developing your inner potential- all by accessing the mind body connection.   

Please know, while we're excited to share and grow together. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment. It doesn't replace the one-on-one relationship you have with a qualified healthcare professional and is not considered psychotherapy. 

Thanks Jess. And thank you for listening. Now, let's begin a conversation about what happens when we take an integrative approach to improving our wellbeing. 

In today's episode, my guest Annie Forest and I talk movement. Annie is the owner of Forrest coaching and studios. She is a 200 hour registered yoga teacher, a Strong First level, two kettle bell instructor, and a certified TRX instructor. So movement isn't just about fitness. It's a full brain, body mind experience that opens us up to deep connection, healing and growth.

Annie's here today because she and I both believe fitness coaching and movement practices should be rooted in radical acceptance. And self-awareness it's on this path that we stop hurting ourselves  in the rapid pursuit of results. And instead achieve our goals in an effective neurologically safe way.

We'll dive deeply into the ideas of mind, brain and fitness, increasing your understanding of your body is something that's empowering and we'll discuss how to show up for your whole self in and out of the gym.

Oh, [00:02:00] Annie. Welcome. I'm sorry. I'm so excited to be here. Thank you.  Ever since I knew I was going to do this podcast, one of the first people I thought of was you because you have such wisdom to share And I couldn't help, but want to share what you have to say with the rest of the world?

So I'm just, I've been waiting for this day. I'm glad you're here. Thanks for having me. Okay. So let's talk about your perspective on the new type of fitness experience, being a person instead of just a body,  yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. I think, the fitness industry way back, in Venice beach with people lifting weights because Arnold and so it developed as this anatomical experience, right?

Like way, way back. It was basically, how do you change your anatomy or your musculoskeletal anatomy and over the past, how many years, 40 years, 50 years. It's shifted into this healthcare industry, almost like a, a subset of the healthcare industry, because people are going, Hey, my knee hurts and I know I need my legs stronger, or my back hurts.

And I know I need my core stronger. And really, especially in the last two years, it's become I know that exercise will change my brain chemistry. So can you help me with that? And obviously we stay within our scope of  movement professionals. But we start to need to look at people as people, right?

We can't just go, yes, you have biceps and yes, you have quads and yes, let's do that. If we're really going to help people at the level at which we have the opportunity we have to back up and go, Oh, you have a heart and you have a life outside the gym and you have hopes and dreams and all of this other stuff that's tied up in and creating barriers to and creating pathways for your fitness experience or your exercise experience.

And it's so important that as professionals, we recognize that and honor it as opposed to. Why aren't you doing your squats? Exactly. Which is why you became a coach for, for quite a while in that [00:04:00] I had an injury, which caused a lot of psychological distress as well as pain, as well as limited my mobility and movement.

And I had been trying to figure out how to navigate that path by myself and I just kept hitting these walls. And then when our friend and colleague, Kristen Radtke referred you to me, I knew it was.

Immediately the right fit because you considered not only that I wanted to be able to squat again, but what is my nervous system feeling all day long? What is my brain doing? Am I feeling safe? Who am I as a person? How can I adapt and change my world in a way that supports my body and set of just  let me see your form and your squat and see what's wrong, right?

Yeah. Yeah. So that's one of the main reasons why I'm so happy. You're here. Let's talk about how neurology and fitness go together.  So that share, fill us in. So it's twofold. I have a giant pile of certifications from a company called Z-Health that does basically neuro centric education for movement professionals.

There is a company that came together and said,  movement professionals knew a lot about bodies, right? Were most of us are highly trained and anatomy and physiology and movement and function and how the human body works. And somewhere along the line, we forgot that there's a brain that actually could trolls all of what I call the meat puppet.

You've got muscles and bones and things and strings that hold them up. And we're this cool, like really complex tensegrity marionette puppet that the brain can.  One of the things that Doc says is that you're always practicing neurology. You just don't always know it. So when you're doing a squat, you're not just strengthening your glutes.

You're not just strengthening your quads. You're actually triggering reflexes in your eyes and your inner ear. You're triggering reflexes in tendons and ligaments and all these other pieces, you're changing your gut function just by going up and [00:06:00] down and changing your metabolic. Really, even if you don't know anything about neurology, you're practicing it all the time in the gym.

And whether you're going the direction you want to go or not, what does it look like when you're not going in the right direction?

Yeah, so frequently it will look like one of three things either. It will just create frustration, right? You just won't see results. People will come in with one thing or another in their history and they'll try to get stronger or they'll try to get leaner or there they'll try to get out of pain. And that just plateaus.

And I saw this a lot early in my career where I was doing all the right exercises with clients and they were sort of getting better and like, all the textbooks said, this should fix it. And it wasn't. Oh, I remember a moment training with you and you're like, how are you feeling? And I was like, angry getting really, I get angry sometimes when I'm living.

And you're like, then let's not do that. Starting to think about that fight response is not where you want to be when we're moving our body. Yeah. And that was actually number two. So you like totally got there for me is we'll see emotional responses. If your brain is going. I'm not willing to let you do.

And I should preface this with your brain is wired for survival by prediction, wants to know what's going to happen so it can keep you safe. And if you're doing something that either it can't predict, or it thinks isn't safe, based on the pre previous experience, it'll kick you out and emotions are a big one.

We'll see people cry for quote, unquote reason. We'll see people get really angry with us. We'll see people laugh inappropriately, it just for no apparent reason, just, borderline hysterical, laughing, or like maniacal sounding laughing. Yeah. And that's a really clear indication to us that their brain is like, yeah.

Yes. Yes. That's so true. . Output we'll see is pain, right? If your brain is really not cool with what you're doing, it'll go stop and throw your pain signals. So back pain, knee pain, and what pain. Whatever. So if we don't see plateaus and we [00:08:00] don't see limbic escape, we'll often see pain responses kick in . That's why I really sought you out was pain. Can you describe the concept of the threat bucket? Because I've told people about this before, and I love the idea of informing our listeners on how they could maybe even do the threat bucket exercise on their own. Okay, great. Thank you. Yeah. So pain in our world is a request for change.

It's an indication from your brain that something either could potentially go wrong or that something is currently about to go wrong. And not even that you've created damage, but that there is something going on that your brain considers threatening. And one of the. The exercises that we do with people is you've got a bucket.

And at the base level, this bucket always has some water in it because we're mammals living on a planet that at one point it was very scary for us to live on tigers and famine and lack of water and, whatever. And then over the course of our lives, more and more threats. So to speak goes in the bucket, right?

You fall off your bike when you're a kid and you hit your head really hard. Wow. Going forward in space often means I hit my head. Cool. Noted. It goes in the bucket. Yeah. Over time, that accumulates. And especially when there's childhood trauma, when there's acute trauma of any kind, whether it's a head injury or an interpersonal experience, or, any kind of massive trauma event goods put a lot of water in the bucket.

Cause now your brain goes, the world is not a safe place to live, but operate on that. Understanding. And so the water in the bucket is threat and it keeps rising. The level of water keeps rising closer and closer to the top of this bucket. Exactly. And then when the last thing goes in the bucket and frequently the last thing, isn't the thing that's actually like the catalyst, it just happens to be the last thing in the bucket. You'll get overflow. And we consider that overflow to be a pain output and it varies from person to person. Sometimes the pain output is chronic back pain or chronic neck pain, because when you hurt, you'll probably more likely [00:10:00] to stay home and in your safe cocoon.

I share a lot of times with people, I don't really have the nerve pain and the migraines I used to have, but I'll have mood disruption. Right the minute I start to notice that my moods don't line up with my environment. I know my buckets full and it's overflowing because that means I'll stop interacting .

I'll stop doing things that require a lot of fuel and resources. And I'll like cocoon for a little while. Yeah. Yeah. It could be mood, disruption, metabolic, disruption, pain, like actual physical pain shows up that way, but it is your brain going like too much threat. Please go somewhere safe. Okay.

Okay. And even things like not eating enough, that day can be the thing that  makes the bucket overflow, or it can be sleep disturbances can be all these different factors in our lived experience. So I know when we did the threat bucket experience,  identifying all the threats going into this bucket.

And then some, we can't take out  SIM just we can't, but what can we do? Oh if I. introduce a snack mid day that decreases the water level in my bucket. If I purposefully meditate for five minutes, in my car before going into the house that might decrease the water level in my threat bucket. And then things of that nature may actually influence the pain output in my body.

when  having pain from a squat, most of us naturally think, Oh no, I heard something, but what if it's, Hey, you don't have enough fuel. Hey, you're dehydrated. Hey, you need to sleep more. So I love the idea of considering all the different influencers coming in when pain is the output and how can we explore if it's pain or if it's our body telling us it needs something and you introduced that to me.

It becomes really interesting because then all of a sudden your exercise and your movement practice becomes, how can I better inform my nervous system about the world around me? Yeah. You brought up the nervous system. This is a great time to share something  I have found  in an article about the parasympathetic nervous system [00:12:00] and recovery.

And I want to see what you think about it.  In this article, it talks about people who are more likely to experience challenges with recovery due to their nervous system state.

 In polyvagal theory, we have this ventral vagal state where we feel calm, safe, grounded. Then there's a danger in our state shifts in this sympathetic 

 then if the danger becomes a life threat, we  either freeze or shut down. 

this article Is talking about sympathetic. Dominance how chronic, physical and mental stress can overtax the body and the body's ability to adapt and maintain homeostasis and feel safe. For example, people who are pursuing weight loss on a calorie restricted diet, or performing at a higher volume of training may find that they're stuck in this sympathetic dominant state or athlete's training for an event and performing multiple training sessions a day, or clients who have a more stressful home or work life or clients who have experienced chronic, psychological or emotional stress. Considering that  monitoring the amount of stress, a client endures in their workouts.   What are your thoughts on it?

The terms that we often use are adaptive or maladaptive stressors. Adaptive stressors are where we push the physiological systems enough to force a change. And that's the whole idea of fitness is you want to stress the system enough that it adapts and steps up. Yes. And then maladaptive stress is where you're pushing the system so hard that it cannot keep up with the demands that you're putting on it.

Okay. So when we're looking at programming, right a lot of times, in the world out there naming no names, there is a lot of like push as hard as you can and it'll work, how hard can you work to achieve change? And what happens is you end up in this maladaptive stress response where your nervous system is literally going well now I don't have enough resources to even get through my day.

[00:14:00] You're now requiring resources. I don't have to get through this workout. So I'll just lean on adrenaline. Okay. And it's not even a cognitive process. Your system just goes, okay, adrenaline. It is got it, man. And starts this adrenaline cortisol cycle to meet the needs that you are, or the demands that you were putting on your system.

Okay. The smarter way to strain, you know, and the, the self way to train they'll in way to train. Yeah. So whether it's optimized or caring or both, a lot of, performance athletes. I have to optimize my training and a lot of us who live day-to-day lives go, I just want to feel good in my skin at the end of a workout in the end of the day.

Yeah. We start going, can we get you to a parasympathetic state by the end of your workout? And can we keep your system in a place where it feels safe enough to actually do the rest and digest and rebuild processes? Because when you're in adrenaline and cortisol cycles, all you're doing is basically surviving, right?

Yeah.  And your body doesn't have enough resources  the resources are going towards survival instead of going towards recovery and healing,  yeah. And the whole. Goal would be, can you set up, but workout that is hard enough to create a little bit of stress.

So your system adapts and not so hard that your brain goes, Oh my God, I have to do something about this and kicks into too much adrenaline. And we use adrenaline and fight or flight is a dirty word. Sometimes it has not. It's incredibly useful and it makes really cool things happen. There is just a need to also come down far enough by the end of a workout or often in cycles throughout.

Okay. Workout. Yeah. To help your system feel safe enough. To sleep well and allocate resources to recovery and metabolic resets and Oh cool. I can actually make the neurological wiring rewire, right? Like it's expensive to build new dendrites and [00:16:00] make new neuronal connections and 

they won't happen if you're just slamming yourself against the wall repeatedly. So we want to create an environment in which you can actually rewire the neurological structures to go, Hey, put more muscle there. Hey, create more strength and tense Island. Tegrity there. Hey, allow that muscle to actually contract harder as opposed to please just don't die.

Yes. There is a point where it's go until you feel like you can't go in a safe way, go until you need to pause. And then you rest until you feel ready, , rest until you feel safe and then go until you can't go anymore. And  listening to that body and allowing for your right, that parasympathetic activation was sympathetic,  building.

Resiliency really for life,  and you're practicing that in the gym. I'll say all the time that kettlebells are yoga, right?

Like lifting a barbell, lifting kettlebells, going for a run. If that's your jam, it is at its heart. If it's done mindfully, it is it's practicing for life. It's going, wow. I can meet resistance and I can do hard, hard things and I can come back down and feel peaceful and joyful and engaged and ready for the next thing.

Yeah. Awesome. All right. Let's talk a little bit about behavioral neurology, something my clients want to know a lot more about I'll tell ya.

So it goes back to the threat bucket, really. It's this idea that change is really expensive. So making a change in your life, stepping out of your habitual way of being is expensive. It requires resources. It requires prefrontal cortex activation, right? The part of your brain that gets fuel lasts and uses the most of it to be totally honest, has to be prepared to make a decision that is outside the predictable pattern.

So we go in and hear people say I really want to do this thing, but I just can't [00:18:00] seem to get myself to do it. And I'm trying, and it's hard and more often I'm failing, right? Yeah. This is the. I've tried so many diets. I've tried so many exercise things and I just don't have enough discipline. I just don't have enough.

Willpower is often the language that we'll hear. And when it comes down to it, like building a movement habit in your life is hard because it's expensive. You're not only making the changes, but you're making the decision to expend resources on discomfort. You're literally expending resources on discomfort instead of , reserving resources and recognizing that first and foremost gives so much grace and eliminates a lot of the shame loop that comes up when people are doing the, I want to work out, but I can't, I just suck at this. I should work out, but I can't because I just can't seem to get myself to do it.

Yeah. And so just first and foremost, recognizing that you're choosing to do something dangerous and expensive instead of allowing yourself to do something that you always do that safe and cheap. Yes. Yes. So behavioral change is expensive. Yes.  

Yeah. And if it's going to be one of those  expensive days, instead of making it a big thing. Make it smaller. So one of the biggest things we teach people is to make it the smallest, most non-threatening change possible.

So can you change in a fitness clothes when you get home for a week, don't even work out, right? Just change your clothes. I like that. And prove to yourself for a week that you can do something out of your normal routine.  One really simple change that I've seen make a big difference is having someone fill up their water bottle and drop a nun tab in it before they leave work for the day.

And simply proving to yourself. I can do a really small thing for my wellbeing can actually push your brain into that space of, Oh, it's safe to do things for myself. It is [00:20:00] safe to take care of myself in new and exciting ways. Yeah. So often the advice is we'll work out three to five days a week for six weeks, and then we'll circle back and talk about it.

And that's a lot, especially if you're going to go to a gym where there's bright lights and loud sounds and spelling things and weird equipment you don't understand. And people staring at you threat response. Yeah. Any people can have not only a dangerous sponsor, but it can feel like a life threat to walk into a place that you don't know.

Everything is brand new. The lights you're right. Are super bright. All this input coming into your brain  and you don't feel like you belong yet. So even this idea of not belonging, as you're trying to navigate, to figure out how to move, how to use machines, how to lift a weight. I mean it's no wonder that.

60% of people never go back into a gym after they purchase a gym membership no wonder it can be scary. Yeah. So you start with non-scary non-hard changes and build a little bit and build a little bit and build, and I'm talking with my hands here, but you just add small little increments to what already feels manageable and safe.

And again, we talked about sympathetic and parasympathetic that keeps you in a safe, relatively parasympathetic state when you consider taking the next step, because some part of you has already figured out, Oh, I don't have to protect you from yourself. Yeah. Yeah. And especially when.  Our system is trying to decide that's every person, right? Neuroception our nervous system is continually scanning, trying to decide, am I safe? Am I safe? Am I safe? And pattern is a big part of how the brain figures out if it's safe or not. It needs that pattern to recognize? Yep. I've done this before.

I've made it through. All right, let's keep doing this. Let's keep building on this.  So the Forest method and the Forest, [00:22:00] the Forest method, it's for athletes, home bodies, everyone in between. You help teach freeing up the body to move well and freeing up the brain to allow the body to heal well.

 I know you have three skills ready to share with our listeners. So let's begin first one sensory before movement. What does that mean? So again, this idea of freeing up your brain to allow your body to move. You're constantly riding the gas and the brakes in your back brain, right?

Your brain is constantly deciding, should I let you move that way? Or should I not? Should I hit the brakes or should I hit the gas? And one of the biggest reasons it would hit the brakes is if it doesn't understand that part of your body very well. One of the fastest ways to inform that part of your brain about that part of your body is to touch it.

One of the first things we teach people is if you're going to move something, especially if it has had a previous injury surgery, scar sticky spot sprain, whatever you touch it first. So you start telling what's part of it's called your parietal lobe. You start telling your parietal lobe, Hey, there's a knee here.

And it has all these different facets and it's got the front and the back of the inside and the outside and the, the top and the bottom. And so we'll have people actually touch, like use their fingernails and sensory experience, paint, brushes. We'll use like washcloths work really well, but just even if you don't have specific areas, but taking something and brushing your whole body before you start a workout, actually gets blood flow to the part of your brain that preempt your movement patterns.

Your sensory cortex lives right in front of your movement cortex in terms of that, when you start debating that part of the parietal lobe, although Christmas lights blink on, and then it goes, Oh, we should move. It's okay to move.

So One of the first things you can do to improve movement patterns and I'll have your brain go, yes, you can move. That is to touch it. Yes. [00:24:00] I love this because when we were working on my squat, it, you asked me and I still do this with some of the people I work with. Can you bend your ankles? And everyone's  Oh yeah, I can bend my ankles.

And then they try and their ankles don't bend very much. And  I say, do you think your brain knows where your ankles are? Well, of Of course it knows where my ankles are. And  I say, Let's really tell it. Let's map it. Let's expand that map sometimes, especially in regards to trauma our body and our brain disconnect, or if we don't use certain areas of our body, very often our body and our brain can disconnect and it needs a little bit of a reminder.

So then we spend a few minutes,  adding some sensory to the ankles and lo and behold. Every single time, suddenly that squat improves and those ankles are bending because we told the brain, Hey, here's my ankles. Let's bend them. It's so cool. So for anyone, if you're feeling like you're  struggling with anything of that nature when you're doing movement, add some sensory to it and see what happens. Yeah. The only other sensory things. If you've got have had surgeries or honestly, if there's been trauma breathing is a really nice sensory experience.  If touch doesn't feel good and for some people touch is really overwhelming.

Just being able to breathe, into different places on your insides and noticing that can be a really nice  if touching skin doesn't feel good for one reason or another, or it's just not working. So I like to double back on that as well, because touch can be tricky sometimes.

. That's a great point. Thank you. Visual resets with movement. Let's talk about vision and how that influences our brain and safety. So your eyes. If you look at band like a bandwidth perspective of all the information coming into your brain, every second, your eyes really have the vast majority of it, because that's how we don't get eaten by tigers or trip over rocks or fall off of cliffs.

Or, it's how we visualize our see intruders coming to the cave. So evolutionarily your eyes [00:26:00] really have a lot more say in what you're allowed to do, then we sometimes respect her honor. And in today's society in today's age, we flood our eyeballs with unnecessary information. That's moving very fast with large amounts of true.

Yeah. Yeah. So again, you walk into a gym or you're doing a, an exercise routine online where you're watching a video that's very high flash rate, a lot of blue light, right? It's a lot of your bandwidth, right? We talked about that bucket. Even. There's a lot of the bucket that's coming toward managing what's coming into your eyes.

So when you're working out or moving, or even just going for a walk, if you're noticing that you're starting to go downhill or something's starting to ache, it can be really useful to just stop, get to a safe place and close or cover your eyes to allow that bandwidth requirement to drop for a little bit, two big ones.

We most often teach our close your eyes for a little while and just decrease the requirement, right? And if that makes you feel a little yucky or unsafe, make sure you do it in a safe space that you do it in a quiet, seated space. Or again, if there's trauma and closing your eyes, doesn't feel good putting on really dark sunglasses so you can still see your environment and it doesn't trigger that response, but you're re you're reducing the light requirement.

The other one we teach a lot is the 2021. Every 20 minutes you look, 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Interesting. Yes. If you're used to looking at a screen or a book or a person or your environment, every 20 minutes, stop what you're doing. Look 20 feet away and hold a point somewhere in space. 

Oh, that is so cool. What does that do? So you have two sets of muscles in your eyes.  You have your oculomotor muscles and those are the ones that like move your eyeballs around in your head.

So you can look in different directions and then you have the ciliary muscles that actually control the shape of the lens, which means it gets clearer or less [00:28:00] clear based on distance. So by changing your eye position you start giving new and novel stimulus to the ocular motor muscles. So instead of only being locked in one place and very tiny little flicks around a screen, you get a bigger look out into the world and then those ciliary muscles get to relax a little bit.

So instead of being humbled on the thing in front of you, they get to expand and soften a little bit to look at what's called divergence and you get to open up into your wow. I also read how sometimes treadmills or AMT machines, which are like elliptical type machines.

For some people, they actually create a sense of unsafety or they can be triggering because  when our body's in that movement pattern, it's used to vision changing and what we see changing. And yet when we're on those machines, our eyes stay in the same place 

and that can be a mixed message to our brain.  We explain that a little bit more. Yeah. The easiest way to explain it is that you have  a graph, in your head, you got an X axis and a Y axis that your brain is constantly calibrating off of.

So you have this horizon line and then you have a vertical line of gravity and that's going to be your inner ear. The part that gets all swoopy in an elevator, when we walk or we run or we jump, or we stand still, there is  unless there's been head trauma information coming in, going okay, X-axis and y-axis makes sense.

There is a grid here. I can I get it also, something is coming toward me and then moving past me. Yes. So if I'm walking forward outside, I see things coming toward me. And then they go past the sides of my eyes, into my peripheral vision on a treadmill. You will notice that things go up and down, but they don't come towards you and go past you.

Great. So your horizon line is there's nothing moving past you. Some part of you is going well, I'm going up and down, that little elevator slosh and your inner ear is going up and down, but it's not actually moving forward. So we get what's called sensory [00:30:00] mismatch on a lot of ellipticals and treadmills because part of your brain is yes, I'm running.

And part of your organ is no, you're not. Something's wrong. This is what can call it, which maybe is why. So people love running outside or walking outside so much more.  I don't really know very many people who are , yes, I love the treadmill. I prefer that over being outside, or even being on the elliptical machine. Maybe considering, what is your emotional response to this? How are you feeling when you're using these tools? Some people not a big deal, other people? No. Don't want to do the elliptical ever again. This is a no machine for me. Okay, good. I'm glad we figured that out your system.

That's a mismatch. Yep.  I have a lot of stories of people who do really well at an elliptical. Because their brain really likes the uppy Downy, but not the forward. Oh, interesting. So it really is individual, so individual to their own neurology, just paying attention, creating that awareness around what's happening and what information you're getting from your body.

Cool. Okay. What about chunking? Explain, chunking. Chunking goes back to a little bit of that behavioral neurology.

So how can we take something really big and not understood or not safe and make it small enough that you can do this piece of it? We talked about sensory, right? Like touching things to your brain, know where they are, making sure that your visual information is in align with what you can tolerate given your current circumstances, and then is what you're doing actually manageable.

So if we take a kettlebell swing, this is one of my favorite examples. If I were to just tell someone, okay, go do a kettlebell swing. It's really likely that they would either do it wrong or they'd try to mimic what they've seen in the past. Or they look at me like I was absolutely nuts. No way, man.

That'll hurt my back. Yeah. So we actually take a kettlebell swing and break it all the way down into its smallest components and go, can you do, what's called a hip hinge. And sometimes people are like, yep. I can [00:32:00] definitely do a hip end. And sometimes it takes two weeks of practice to get into this particular movement pattern.

Okay. When that movement pattern has been established and they can do it without thinking, there's no threat, there's no pain. There's no weird responses. Yeah. Cool. Now let's give you a little bit of wait and see what happens if you hinge with a little bit of weight.  And then we stay with that chunk until such a time that the brain is yeah, cool.

Whatever. I got it on board it's taking any type of habit or movement and going, which component  can't you do it. Okay. And that's like the chunk. So you're breaking it down into chunks.  Here's the first part. Doing it with safety.

Move on. Here's the next chunk. Yep. Repeat, learn until you feel safe. The hard part about chunking is that we don't do it as adults. Very often. We do it. Don't I was just thinking about that.

We don't ask a kid to write their name. We teach them how to write the first letter of their name and then the second letter. And then the third letter, you don't ask a four-year-old okay, just write your name. It looks like this. Just do it. We'll just do it. But as adults, we somehow expect ourselves to just understand this massively complex movement pattern or complex behavioral pattern.

an often the chunk is this little piece over here. That's the hard part that you're skipping. Because you're doing it all at once. And how can you have  true awareness if you're taking this big movement pattern and just doing it all at once versus slowing down mindfully observing, figuring out where the shift needs to happen before you can move on.

Yeah. So just giving yourself permission to take the smallest, often very challenging piece, because you don't understand it yet and spending some time with it and then plugging it back into the larger piece of the puzzle, whether that's a behavior change or a movement pattern change. . That's awesome.

Thank you. Thank you. 

Annie, you coach and teach from a place of radical,  acceptance, and grace.  Finding how vulnerability consistent skill development and [00:34:00] focus on the whole self leads to places of deep healing and strength. You founded Forest Coaching on these practices and your mission is to teach your staff and your clients, the importance of the whole self, I love that.  It really summarizes who you are as a person, as a coach, as a business owner, in that,  what we're doing here creates and leads to positive change because when people are feeling better and living from their whole self, they go out into the world and do what they're meant to do.

What does that mean? What does that look like? So it's twofold. Threefold really? It looks like accepting and embracing. Every single human that we work with as being separate and beautifully different from every other person that walks in the door. It's recognizing that yes, we are working with bodies and primarily people are coming to us saying, I have a body. Can you help me do something with it? Move it, change it, do whatever with it. So the first piece is recognizing that it's fitness, right?

That it's neurologically informed. So we've got the body, we've got the brain, right? Recognizing that there is a central processing unit controlling the thing that they are asking us to move. And part of our job is stepping back and looking for. Areas that may not be safe areas that may not move well areas that may be throwing out that hit the brakes or overflow the bucket response.

So we look at movement patterns in anatomy, we look at neurology and why it may or may not be allowing the anatomy to shift. And I think really what has made the biggest difference in my coaching practice is going, and we have these beautifully conscious minds and hearts that we're also considering because the central processing unit is great and it controls this really cool thing that we walk around in.

and How can I help you see yourself as a whole empowered, capable person? It's our job to teach [00:36:00] you that you have the capacity and teach you to hold that space for yourself so that you can do it forever in every area of your life.  It's our job to be emotionally and trauma informed as professionals and say, Oh, this might be affecting your experience and how can I help you hold that for yourself as well?

Not just us being aware of it, but also reminding a client like, yeah, you've got some big freaking stressors at home.  Please give yourself the grace to miss a workout. If you need to, or dial down a workout, if you need to or recognize that it might not look the way you think it, quote unquote should because you watched a lot of YouTube.

 I really appreciate that. I don't think there's very many fitness agencies or fitness professionals who are trauma informed.

And I would love if there, you know, so reach out people if you want some trauma informed, keep listening. I, because we are we're whole people. And if you're a human you've most likely experienced some form of trauma. And it's those experiences where you haven't been spoken to in a way that is sensitive or caring or made space for you being human.

That adds to people's trauma in regards to the fitness industry or to movement, or even to nutrition. I know you're big on. Feeling your heart as much as Feeling  your body. Will you speak on that  briefly? Yeah. The words I've grown to really enjoy is that you have optimal foods, right?

You have foods that will, for your particular physiology feel you best and you'll be able to metabolize them and integrate them and use them best. And everyone's going to be different. There's no one way to do it. So you have your optimal foods. And then you have your easy go-to foods, right? The stuff that's quick, and it's less, it's low stress. 

And it means that you get calories in and you can keep moving throughout your day. And then you have like your joyful foods. You have these foods that just Oh, like your body can relax. Like [00:38:00] I sat in my car before this and I ate an Apple cinnamon muffin and I drank a decaf latte with whole milk with the windows open.

And it was like, Oh, muffins are not an optimum food for me, but they're fricking delicious. And every part of my system was able to just relax from the sensory experience from the self care of going, I'm going to do this for myself, and I'm going to stop my day and do it for a few minutes first. And if you are eating an optimal diet all the time and never nourishing your nervous, then you want to see your nervous system nourishing your heart's experience of the world.

You might get optimum performance. It'd be really unhappy. That's a good point. Such an it's something we need to hear more about food. Is it satisfying us? Is it meeting all the different parts of who we are  

so thank you for that. That's really helpful. 

 For all our listeners out there, what can we take from today? Please consider your brain, your nervous system. Practice those drills. If they help me feel safe, integrate them. If not, it's okay to set them down and honor your emotional experience.   All right. So I have one last question for you, Annie. Yes. I know you're a big fan of the polyvagal theory and autonomic nervous system regulation. Have you ever watched the karate kid or Cobra Kai? No, I totally missed this when I was a kid and somehow like I am, because I missed it as a kid.

I have not watched Cobra Kai now as an adult Oh, you know what, I take it back. It did watch the karate kid. Okay. But I don't have any like visceral memory of it. And I have not watched Cobra, Kai.  maybe you will want to, after you hear next week's episode. So hearkening back to our eighties roots, Jeannie, and I use the world of Cobra, Kai, the hit Netflix show based on the karate kid to bring original content explaining the polyvagal theory. The polyvagal [00:40:00] theory is the simple, yet very complex survival system that  all humans automatically use to bring balance to our lives.

We explore the childhood trauma of Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso. Looking with great detail at how Johnny and Daniel's survival responses influence not only their lives, but 34 years later in the world of Cobra, Kai, the lives of their children and the students.

They mentor. We are super excited. We fan girls during this whole episode because it brought together. You need to watch it now 

 so any who, Annie, I don't want to let you go, but I'm  thankful you were here. Thank you. Yeah, you as well. Thank you for doing this and for bringing this out into the world it's important to have it accessible, right? And just in terms of what time people have and bandwidth, they have, it's such a gift that they can listen in their car or while they're going for a walk or just doing dishes or whatever.

So thank you for putting this together. Welcome. You're welcome. Thank you for saying that. 

 Thank you again for joining us on Insight Mind Body Talk, a body-centered mental health podcast. We hope today's episode was empowering and supported you in strengthening your mind-body connection  please join us again next week as we continue to explore integrative approaches to wellbeing. Until then, take care.