BIRTHFIT Podcast Episode 100 Featuring Nick Horowski, doctor of physical therapy
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Hello, BIRTHFIT! This is Dr. Lindsey Mathews, your BIRTHFIT founder and CEO. All right. Special announcement, this is our 100th episode. What, what? Can you believe we’ve been around that long? No, I can’t, but seriously, thank you all for listening. Thank you all for giving input, feedback, suggested guests. If you have any suggestions for the podcast, don’t hesitate to email us, email@example.com. We’re always open to growth, making change, evolving and listening to you so that we can support you and make this an awesome community because it already is, so thank you all, 100th episode.
Today is a unique episode. I have Nick Horowski and hopefully I did not butcher that. He is a holistic health professional and he is a PT, physical therapist, as well as a trained CHEK Institute professional. Actually, I don’t even know if I said that correctly. Hopefully I did, but basically he believes in movement. He believes in food. And if you have any questions about the CHEK Institute, just Google CHEK Institute and it will pop up.
He’s all the way in Eastern Pennsylvania, so we crossed many time zones to chat with him today. He is a dad of two, a husband, a physical therapist, and he has his own podcast. So be sure to check that out because we basically go back and forth on this episode and it will be featured on both of our podcasts, so BIRTHFIT podcast and — let me make sure I say this correctly — it’s BareNaked podcast. Hopefully I did not screw that one up, but yeah, Nick’s an awesome guy and I really think you’re going to love this episode. We get into birth. We get into mindset. We get into some tips for dad and I really think there’s just tons of information in here.
All right. Before we dive in, we have a few announcements. As of right now, all of the BIRTHFIT Professional and BIRTHFIT Coach seminars are listed on our website for the rest of 2018. That means sign up because there will not be any more seminars added for 2018. Professional and Coach all listed on the internet now. Go check it out. Every seminar we’ve had has sold out, so get your spot. I’d hate to be the one on the waiting list, but sometimes that happens. All right. That’s the major announcement, so enjoy this episode.
Tell everybody who you are.
Nick: Who I am? All right, all right, so this is going to be a bit of a dual interview.
Lindsey: I know, back and forth.
Nick: I like this, Lindsey. So who I am, I actually just gave a little bit of a speech here this morning on this. I was just giving a lecture at a local PT school. I’m a physical therapist. By trade, I do that, but I also work — I also do podcasting.
I compete in strongman, so I like that, but my biggest thing recently outside of the PT world has been starting to work with strongman and not for their programming per se, but really a lot of health coaching from that end, so helping people dial in nutrition, sleep, the mindfulness, and that’s where I’m going with that. I’ve been really digging that recently because I think in strength athletics, that’s something that can be very overlooked, so it’s fun being able to expose people to not only the strength side of things, but really integrating health and wellness overall with that.
Lindsey: Yeah, that sounds awesome.
Nick: Oh, I was going to ask about your — let’s hear a little bit about your health journey too because that’s always something that I’m interested in, where do people start. I listen to you, but I want to hear from the horse’s mouth. Where did you start with stuff and where has it taken you up until this point?
Lindsey: Yeah, so I’m originally from Texas. I grew up in a town called New Braunfels. Hopefully some of them are listening. I went to Texas A&M University and then I came out to California for chiropractic school. And from there, my life’s path just took me in the direction of women’s health. After chiro school, I was in the sports rehab world and that’s where I thought I wanted to be. I was traveling on set for movies or with certain professional athletes and I just found myself drawn into women’s health with either some clients or patients that I had back in LA or on the road and I realized that I didn’t really know anything at that time even though I took this whole doctorate program and I did premed and undergrad. I realized I knew very little about women’s health and I realized that a lot of people don’t know about women’s health unless they choose to go down that field.
Even my friends, I had friends at the time that were going through med school and some friends that were going through PT school and just different schooling, and yeah, we just didn’t — I don’t know where this information is. So when I became just really curious about it, I decided to take all the extra trainings I could. At that time, there was ICPA Diplomate Program for chiropractors and it focused mainly on pediatrics, but there was one seminar in there called the Webster Technique, so I did that. I did Birth Doula training. I did Childbirth Educator training. What else did I do? I did Sacred Pregnancy training. I did Innate Postpartum training, HypnoBirthing. I did energy healing. What else?
Nick: You’ve just been really running — I mean that’s important because I think that’s huge. It’s so cool to hear you talking about this because I actually work closely — in our clinic, we have specifically a pelvic floor physical therapist, and so it’s really cool to be able to talk to her. And certain times, I might be working with a patient and I’ll say, “Hey, Lori, come out here. I have a question” or I’ll tell them like, “No, you need to go see her. There’s stuff that I’m not going to be able to do that you need to be able to talk to her about.” I think whether it’s PT, whether it’s chiro, this is such an untouched thing where — I believe I heard it was in Scandinavia where women after her pregnancy I believe are required to just do a certain amount of physical therapy just to help themselves recover, which I think something like that would be huge.
Lindsey: Yeah. Wouldn’t that just be a different world we live in?
Nick: I think that will help out so many people. It really, really would. I’m curious because when you’re working with somebody, what does that process even look like? Where do you start? Where do you finish? Walk me through the whole route because I know it’s more than just however long birth takes. There’s a lot more to it than that.
Lindsey: Yeah. So I’ll give you BIRTHFIT in a nutshell and this is good practice for me because we’ve evolved and hopefully the listeners have seen us evolve. BIRTHFIT started as a blog in 2011 and then we added affiliates that are now known as regional directors starting in 2014. We started with five and then we grew to 12 and then around 25 to 26. And then this year, we’re at 93 and that’s just across United States and Canada, but there’s definitely interest in growth in other parts of the world.
For instance, we’re going this summer to Europe for BIRTHFIT Coach Seminars and we’ll be in London and Germany. Our goal is to educate and empower women. It sounds pretty cliché. Those are hot words these days, but we strive to give the best information and the best information may not always have research on it. It may just be from our experience in clinics across the United States or our experience within our classes, or it may —
Nick: Which is important to note because people all of a sudden dispel something, “Oh, you know what? It doesn’t have all this peer-reviewed evidence.” You know what? People are out there doing this every single day and it’s working very well. Research is still ten years behind. Half the time, what’s happening in the clinic —
Lindsey: I was just about to say that, yeah.
Nick: So that’s huge.
Lindsey: Yeah. I once heard this quote from somebody that I thought it was just hilarious, but it was, “Science only advances one funeral at a time.” I was like, oh wow, that’s kind of true. We’re lucky because we obviously live in the age of the internet, so hopefully it advances a little faster these days.
We started as a blog then regional directors were added. Basically, they wanted to have the same classes that I at the time was having here in Los Angeles. So I started something called a BIRTHFIT Prenatal Series and a BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series. The BIRTHFIT Prenatal Series is our version of Birth Education and this is basically based on my experience as a chiropractor, as a doula, as a child birth educator, a HypnoBirthing instructor and everything put together because I felt like all of these birth educations before us paved the way, but we needed stuff that was 2018, stuff that is happening today. And for us, this meant breath work, this meant positions, this meant incorporating some science along the lines of the polyvagal theory and having access to our breath so that we can move our body and have freedom in birth and the labor scenario.
That’s all in our Postpartum Series, which also includes Postpartum Planning. It’s a four-class birth education with mom and her partner, so whoever she’s going to have at her birth and this could be her husband, it could be her boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, whoever, but it’s whoever mom is going to have at her birth. The BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series was basically our answer for birth rehab like we were talking about earlier. I think I was pulled into the medical world based on my experience growing up like I was one of those asthmatic kids and then I tore my ACL and had surgery in high school. At that time, I had a super progressive surgeon and before I could even go into surgery, he made me go see a chiropractor. He made me go to PT. He made me go to a Rolfer, which I was like, “What the heck is a Rolfer?” and this was in 2000. I was probably —
Nick: Oh, so this was 2000. That’s like super progressive, right.
Lindsey: Yeah, in Texas, yeah. I was like, oh my God, this doc, he’s going for it. At the time, he was the orthopedic surgeon for the San Antonio Spurs and he wore scrubs and cowboy boots into every appointment. Yes, so you’ll listen to him, but yeah, I did six weeks of prehab before my surgery. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now looking back, that was my first exposure to intentionally training for an event and that’s where we come with BIRTHFIT. We’re intentionally training for the motherhood transition and then recovering intentionally on the other side of birth.
Like we talked about a few seconds ago, there’s nothing as far as a standard postpartum care plan in our country and the only thing that there is six weeks, you go get checked by your healthcare provider whether it’s an OB-GYN or a midwife and then they’ll most likely clear you for sex and exercise. And as women, where do you even begin? Where do you even start?
When I found this out and coming from an orthopedic world, I was like, wait, I knew exactly what I was doing post-op for my ACL, MCL, PCL, whatever, and anything in my knee I blew out, but I knew exactly what I was doing the minute I woke up from surgery, two days in, six weeks out, three months out, nine months out, 12 months out.
Nick: Yeah, it’s exact every step of the way.
Lindsey: Yeah, and there’s nothing like that for postpartum women in our country and there’s nothing like that differentiated from vaginal versus cesarean birth, or if you have a ton of drugs, cocktails going on in you because even that plays a part into recovery. If you get epidural, if you get Pitocin, if you get all kinds of medications, that’s going to alter your body’s physiology and affect recovery. I was just floored at that and that was where the postpartum rehab started coming about with the BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series and since then — those were our first two classes — we’ve evolved.
Each regional director now teaches something that’s called the BIRTHFIT Breath & Flow, which a lot of our movement philosophy and rehab is based on DNS, which is Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization and it’s from the Prague School of Rehab. And for me when I found this, I was like, oh my God, this is the missing link. This is breath because our movement, everything starts with breath. Our diaphragm is basically the muscle that breathes for us and it connects the physical and the nonphysical. And when I found this, I was like, okay, this is gold. And so our BIRTHFIT Breath & Flow course was born. Our BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series was updated. BIRTHFIT Prenatal Series was updated. And now we have BIRTHFIT Basics Workshops and then we have the BIRTHFIT Coach Seminar and the BIRTHFIT Professional Seminar, so there’s a ton of stuff that grew since 2011.
Any woman can start with us at any time. For instance, we’ve had women as late as 37 weeks come to us in Los Angeles in various locations around the country and they’re like, “I want to get BIRTHFIT” and you would think like okay, come back after the baby is born, but we just start with the breath work. We meet mom where she’s at that day and then go from there. Anytime throughout the motherhood transition, we like to connect and progress together.
Nick: I find it so interesting that you bring up the breath work so much right there because we’re talking like your crowd, you’re speaking more to either potential mothers, mothers-to-be, current mothers. I’m speaking more to strong men. It still comes down to that’s such an incredible part of any and all of this that people have to understand that breathing with any lifting technique, it’s the same thing. It might be a slightly different type of breath work, but the breath and proper breathing mechanics throughout whether it’d be child birth, whether it’d be going for a max squat or deadlifts or something like that, still the breath is so critical either way, so I find that fascinating actually, just the link between the two as well.
Lindsey: Yeah. I was going to ask, do you find a big disconnect between the strongman and the breathing or do you find that they’re able to access breath? Because it’s almost they have to do it kind of innately especially on the bigger lifts.
Nick: Yeah. I think it’s so dependent on the person and it also just depends on how ingrained they are. Actually, I think more of where I notice it with is depending on the mobility of just the rib cage and the spine. If somebody has been doing just very limited movements, they’ve been only doing more static lifts and they never learned how to access that, that’s where I just see more problems with that.
it’s just the higher level of the athlete, usually the easier it is I think to be able to find something like that and be able to really — we talk about coachability a lot of times, right? So if you’re coachable, you’ll be able to pick up on that, but it still comes down to [0:24:56] [Indiscernible] like saying okay, it takes 300 to 500 repetitions to learn something. It takes 3000 to 5000 plus those extra 300 to 500 to relearn something. So no matter what, it’s going to take work to really be able to get that just ingrained as just an automatic movement.
Lindsey: Totally. I’m really glad you mentioned that because one of our biggest hurdles is helping moms shift their minds in the postpartum period. We consider the whole first year postpartum and when they hear that six-week clearance or when they compare themselves against somebody else like they feel like they should be further along than they are, it takes — well, you and I both know soft tissue has a certain amount of time to heal and we can’t see this with the female body. It’s usually healing on the inside and healing from the inside out.
So it’s completely unrealistic to think your body is healed at six weeks or even three months, but if you’ve been doing — and we talked about this during our coach seminar — something like Olympic lifting or running and your biomechanics have altered then those shitty movement patterns get stored in the primitive brain, and then like you said, you have to re-learn everything in that postpartum period. So adjusting stuff throughout pregnancy is important, having that patience and I guess just that trust in the process on the postpartum side is key because it’ll come back, but like you said, it does require a certain amount of reps, time, intentionality. It takes a while.
Nick: Going off the mindset and stuff, I was listening to I think it was either a show that you’re on or one of your more recent podcasts and talking about intentional eating. Would you mind just going into that? Because again, I don’t think this is isolated to any one person, but I thought it was incredibly impactful when I was listening to it from the standpoint of thinking about a mother who is not only feeding herself, but feeding a baby inside of her, so if you could go into that a little bit. I think this is a really important concept, please.
Lindsey: Yeah. I probably won’t do it justice, but Melissa Hemphill, she’s on our squad. She’s the BIRTHFIT coach director, so she’s the director of that program, but she’s also trained in Eating Psychology and I believe it’s called the Eating Psychology Institute. It’s in Colorado, but —
Nick: I know I’ve heard of something, a psychology institute, yeah.
Lindsey: Yeah. It’s great. The guy’s name is Mark David and they basically study nutritional belief systems and archetypes and the whole emotional aspect around eating. And one thing that she’s told me early on — and I believe I heard her because we tag-team the coach seminar for the last year we have, but one of the things she said is that basically mom equals love and mom equals food. So if you think about that, that’s all the baby knows whether the baby’s inside mom’s belly or outside, and that’s the first exposure of on earth side. So having that “mom equals love, mom equals food”, that’s already being programmed in babies’ brains. So as we grow older, we have to shift and become more aware of how food equals love or how we speak love through food.
For instance, if you go to grandma’s house and she bakes a pie and she’s like, “Oh, I love you so much. I baked your favorite pie” and she stares at you and tries to encourage you to eat the whole thing because basically if you eat the whole thing then you love her back, but having that awareness around acts like that and saying, “Thank you, Grandma. I’m just going to have one slice, but I hear how much you love me,” that’s one example of equating food to love.
Also, we live in a world I guess that’s dominated by masculine energy. Well, there’s a big shift right now, but there’s supposed to be a balance of both. We’ve been programmed especially in the fitness world to count food, count calories, count macros, do blocks, things like that. And when you’re going through the motherhood transition, it’s almost a call back to your feminine energy like the power that resides in you, which is more intuitive, listening to your body. I kind of think we’re called back into that feminine energy basically to prepare us for birth and what’s to come and to gain that next level sense of being a mother.
Mindful eating is pretty powerful and one of the simplest exercise we encourage people to do is just start with taking ten breaths before you eat and think about it through breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth and slowing down those exhales because slowing down exhales, making them longer, that will help to downregulate your autonomic nervous system, which will basically put you in a calm state, rest and regeneration state, and that’s the state in which we can basically consume the most nutrients. If we’re operating in the fight or flight or even — I mean parasympathetic shock, we wouldn’t be operating, but if we’re operating in a more stressful environment then we actually don’t consume the same amount of nutrients. Two people can have the same meal and have a much different experience.
Nick: Well, I wouldn’t say consume, but absorb probably. That’s exactly what I would think about it. I think that’s such an overlooked part of it because just because you’re eating something doesn’t mean your body is taking it in by any means. Why waste your time trying to get all this good food in you if you’re just shoveling it in just to have it come out just the other end? There’s no reason you’d be better off even a little bit less, but —
Lindsey: Yeah, just to check the box, yeah.
Nick: Yeah, bring it in with that love, with that intention, and it’s going to have so many more benefits to you, baby, whatever it is that you’re looking to enhance even.
Lindsey: Totally. We did a podcast last week with Lily Nichols and she wrote a book. It just came out. It’s called Real Food for Pregnancy and if people want to go into the sciencey stuff of prenatal nutrition or postpartum nutrition, that book is the best thing I’ve seen to date. She’s done her research and God bless her because I’m sure she spent hours and hours researching. It has so much in there and it relates basically real food and how we need as close to the source as possible, as close to end season as possible, and relates basically or compares our culture to other cultures around the world, just how we’re missing the mark as far as nutrition for the motherhood transition and her research is just brilliant. I would recommend it to anybody thinking about conceiving or pregnant. Definitely get that book.
Nick: Right on. That’d be great. Okay. Lindsey, I was going to ask you about — I had a question because I wanted to see — I’m drawing a complete blank, but it was —
Lindsey: Aren’t you a dad?
Nick: Yeah. Thank you. That’s exactly where I wanted to go. I’m looking at my list of questions because this was going to be something — you read that perfectly. That was fantastic.
Nick: I wanted to know how can dads help whether it’s a first time dad, whether it’s you already have kids, but you also have a list of resources on the BIRTHFIT website and I’m curious if that would be the same, if that’s for dads as well to read or if you have any other recommended readings as well.
Lindsey: Yeah. I haven’t found a —
Nick: And/or a podcast guest that you’ve had on that would be helpful for anybody too.
Lindsey: Yeah. About two weeks ago, we released a podcast. I just totally veered off of another thought, but about two weeks ago, we had a dad on and his name was Jaxson Appel and he’s —
Nick: Yes, I listened to that. That was very good. I would recommend people checking this out.
Lindsey: Yeah. Whatever you believe or anything, I think the greatest thing that he got across was that he took action as far as postpartum depression goes. When he saw that his wife was experiencing this, he was like, “Okay. We’re going to do something now. When the next baby comes along, we’re going to plan ahead.” I thought that was — basically the initiative that he took was pretty astounding. I would say dads and partners communicate. Communication is huge. Your relationship with mom is going to change. It’s going to evolve. There’s going to be depth that you probably did not know were there, but communication is key and letting mom know that she’s still beautiful and sexy and wanted especially after birth in the first six weeks or the first three months.
That’s pretty key and that’s stuff we hear, is that message gets lost in translation because oftentimes, dad or partner, they only know how to communicate that through physical touch or through sex, and it could be a different act of love, or just simply saying something like, “Hey, you look really beautiful doing this” or anything.
And then — who was this? Okay, Lane Gauntt, she was on our podcast probably about a few months ago. She was sharing — I wish I could take credit for this, but this is brilliant — reintroducing sex after birth. She said, “Basically, if I’m not comfortable touching myself then why should I be comfortable with somebody else touching me?” So basically, they started reintroducing sex again with just her feeling herself, touching herself, and either dad was in the room or dad wasn’t, but she said, “That took a few weeks and then we slowly became more and more intimate.” I thought that was just brilliant.
Nick: However you would want to do that, that makes sense because no matter what, no man out there is ever going to understand what a woman just went through and/or what she’s experiencing at that time. We can do our best to communicate. We can do our best to — when you were saying telling her she’s beautiful and sexy, I immediately thought of Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, showing that outside of just physical touch, but trying to show her that you love her in other ways.
Lindsey: Was there anything that you did differently or that you were aware of on your end that you remember?
Nick: I’ve been trying to think about this. When our first son was born versus our second son was born, I’m trying to think how I did that differently. There were differences, but it’s hard to say for me. It’s hard because when there was only one, it was easier from the standpoint of we’re just caring for him. And other than that, now it’s just okay, I can just go get everything else done that needs to get done just to help out with whatever I can versus when there’s the second one and it definitely does make it challenging for everybody because now you are going to try and get everything else done around the house or whatever else, but then you’re trying to take care of one while trying to either maybe give her a little rest and watch both of them. I think communication really is the biggest thing. I think anything that you said there, I don’t think anything else can replace that.
I will say for us, communication was the easiest because my wife, she can also recognize it too. Her hormones are being thrown off at that time and she might be very upset. There were certain times where I’d almost laugh and I would try not to because I knew that wasn’t her. And then minutes later, she’d be like, “I’m sorry.” We could go about it and we’re fine with that, but I also had to recognize. I think that was probably the biggest thing for me, is recognizing when I screwed up versus when she’s just yelling at me because she’s frustrated and just is yelling at something.
Lindsey: Right, not to get personal.
Nick: Exactly because coming back to where I said, I will never be able to understand — I will never have empathy. I could have some sympathy for her, but I’m never going to give birth, so I can only do my best as far as understanding what she’s going through and helping her out in really any way I can. So I think at that point, pay attention to the little things. That would be my biggest advice probably, is pay attention to every little detail you can and take care of any little detail you can so that it’s not on her or she’s not having to ask you about things multiple times, really just getting stuff done.
Lindsey: Yeah. How far apart are your kids?
Nick: Just about two years.
Lindsey: What would you say was the biggest shift you all? It may be that you all had an enhanced communication system or you shifted into knowing, being more aware of the small things, but was there any big, big shift in the action between the first and second?
Nick: I think just by having the other one, you’re already maybe hyper aware of what you need to be taking care of because there’s already less time. Really obviously it is a huge time commitment to have kids and you have to understand that. I’m trying to see how to word it because I think it’s a difficult thing to word for me. We’re already aware of — and I think there’s also just less surprises, at least for us there was, and I’m sure there can always be more surprises with a second, with a third and so on, but I would say you’re at least more prepared just as a parent and I think just having that learning from the first one, and I say learning, not just experiencing because that’s an important distinction.
That might be my advice, is actually taking what you did learn from the first time whether it’s between your communication, whether it’s making sure that things are done around the house, making sure you know what is going on with your baby. Like you said, you just find less surprises so you’re just more prepared overall, but actually implementing that and not just taking it from the first time and just throwing it out the window.
Lindsey: Yeah, that’s good. That’s really good.
Nick: How about — well, I was going to say do you have any recommendations? Because I’m somebody — well, I don’t like to necessarily read a physical book as much anymore, but I love listening to podcasts and I love listening to audio books, so I was going to ask you just recommendations on just even other books or anything, or would you still say that a father or a partner in general could get a lot of out of the books that you had on the website recommended there?
Lindsey: Yeah. I try to stay — and I think this is what’s cool about BIRTHFIT, is that a lot of our classes, seminars, podcasts tend to be I want to say approachable for all sexes or anybody that identifies with either sex. There’s definitely some of the podcasts that are more emotional, spiritual, stuff like that, which may relate more to females at certain times in their lives, but I think the more a male can dive in and at least try to understand where mom is coming from even if it’s listening to a 60-minute podcast or a 30-minute then he might gain a little insight and maybe approach the next situation that they’re in together from a different lens.
But I just think one of the best books out there which is not birth-specific is Mindset by Carol Dweck and everybody on our team is required to read that. If I could make all my doula clients or everybody read that, I would because it’s basically talking about a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, which is like growth mindset basically every obstacle is a learning experience. Fixed mindset is something where you say, “I’m bad at math. I’m never going to be good at math, so I’m not even going to study it” or there’s no growth possible or evolution possible in that fixed mindset.
Nick: Well, how do you take that form of a mindset, thinking about it in those terms and applying to the birthing process?
Lindsey: This is a super simple example and I give this one a lot, is if I have a woman that comes to me and she says, “I want to do BIRTHFIT but my mom had a cesarean and my sister had a cesarean, so I don’t know if it’s for me.” My biggest comeback to that is, well, cesareans don’t run in your family because it’s not possible. If you have that mindset then yeah, I can guarantee that you’re going to have one, but if you want to start taking steps and exploring options like okay, was it a provider situation? Was it a health situation? There are a number of things that are in our control that we can adjust or bring attention to when it comes to preparing for birth. And then maybe she does want a cesarean and that’s her choice and maybe she has the most beautiful cesarean birth ever, but yeah, that’s one little example.
You can apply the growth or fixed mindset basically to anything in life. We try to use it at our gym a lot at DEUCE Gym and we say — we have this phrase. Basically, it’s, “What an opportunity!” Basically anything we can learn from, we’re like, “Okay. What an opportunity” or “A lot of room for improvement there.”
Nick: And I think it’s important though because like you said, I could think of multiple ways to use this whether it’s centered around birth or it’s centered around just life in general, business. We’re talking about in a gym, lifting, strength, anything like that, but it really goes to I think coming back to the physical repetitions we were talking about before. You just have to put in the mental repetitions that something like this too, to have it be ingrained. Otherwise, it really is going to fall on the same thing like you’re going to just revert back to the old habits of poor breathing or in this case like a negative or poor mindset too.
Lindsey: Totally, totally. Yeah, so I think you do a really good job of staying curious with your growth mindset. Can I ask you how you got into being a CHEK practitioner?
Lindsey: You’re the first one on our podcast that’s a CHEK —
Nick: Oh, really?
Nick: All right. Cool. Actually, I’m curious. What do you know about the CHEK Institute? Do you have much insight on Paul Chek or anything like that?
Lindsey: I’ve read — I have his books, some of them, but definitely not a practitioner like you are. I’m into it.
Nick: So if we’re talking books, for me, the ultimate health book that encompasses a little bit of everything is going to be “How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy!” by Paul Chek. You’re going to get so much — I usually try and read it once a year still. It’s funny. The first couple of years I’ve had it — I’ve been studying at the institute about eight years now.
Lindsey: Wow! Okay.
Nick: So the first couple of years, I’ve probably read it two or three times a year and I’m still getting new stuff out of it, which is —
Lindsey: Growth mindset.
Nick: Yeah, there you go, but I think that’s something you can do or should be able to do with any book, but the book aside — okay, so it actually started through the Underground Wellness Podcast with Sean Croxton.
Nick: My friend and I, he got me hooked on podcasts, like you said, around eight years ago and we heard Paul Chek come on and just blew everything out of the water. It’s just absolutely awesome. We’re both like — hey, I’m absolutely open to hearing anything. Being a PT or like any healthcare practitioner, you can become very intimidated by Paul very easily not because — again, he doesn’t necessarily have the doctorate or anything like that, but he knows his shit just flat out. He’s got it down and he wears it on his sleeve.
And so I took my first CHEK exercise class with Dan Hellman and a few months after I heard of Paul. I just became completely just enveloped in all of his info, so I did that. I’ve taken a couple of us on the practitioner side, taken the holistic lifestyle coaching, and this has really just been — it’s an amazing transformation. I’m 32, so I started probably when I was like 24. Maybe I was 25. I don’t remember.
Lindsey: Oh, awesome.
Nick: Those first 20 plus years, yeah, I feel like I did changes like I learned a lot, read a lot, but I think just even in these last few years, I’ve seen myself just go through so many changes, and again, not just physically, but we’re talking physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, all of the above, and I would have to trace it back to that. I don’t know that there’s any one particular thing that really changed me on there because again, I took that first class there and then I took the Holistic Lifestyle Coach with JP Sears, and now it’s just a whirlwind of just diving into some of this, and then HLC 2, HLC 3, when Paul’s teaching stuff.
Just sitting in a classroom with him for a week, you will just go — you’re talking about mindset. You’re going to go through every and all iterations that you can from high to low to left to right to up to down. It’s an incredible experience. I can’t thank Paul and everybody who I’ve worked with at the institute enough for what they’ve done, but it’s amazing to me how simple he makes everything. And I think that’s why I gravitate towards him because he can spit out all the science, spit out all the research he’s done at all, but he has applied it to himself and he just boils everything down to really meet people where they’re at and I think that’s what I’m loving.
Just even talking to you, Lindsey, everything still comes down to a few simple principles, a few simple action items, and if you can do that then you truly understand something, then you truly know something because you can teach it simple all the way up to complex. Complex doesn’t work for everybody, so you have to be able to go across that spectrum.
Lindsey: That’s awesome. If you were thinking back when you first did your first seminar, do you remember one of the first changes you made to your lifestyle?
Nick: Oh, yeah. It was an exercise-based class through the practitioner program, but again, they’re all very holistic from a health standpoint. Within a couple of weeks, I just had gone gluten-free and for me, it was just an experiment. I was going to try it for a month and see what happens. Well, seven or eight years later, I haven’t changed. Does that mean that I necessarily have celiac or anything like that? No, but —
Lindsey: The way you feel.
Nick: Right. As I said, I think I was 24 or maybe I was 25 or whatever. If you’re a 25-year-old kid and you all of a sudden lose about 15 to 20 pounds in one month, but you actually get stronger when you do that, you go and instead of needing nine hours of sleep at night, I’m down to — I can still sleep nine hours, but I rarely need that anymore. Seven to eight, I’m really pretty good. I don’t have any more joint pains, anything like that, just that kind of stuff. And then the other thing too is just the afternoon crash. I would still crash like mid-afternoon like three or four o’clock. I would be exhausted. I don’t get that anymore. Really it was just a snap of a finger like within that first week, I was like, “Well, this is pretty cool.” I was just like, “What else is going to happen?”
So whether I have a sensitivity, where I’m intolerant, whether I have celiac, I don’t really care whatever you want to call it, I feel better without it. That led me then to understanding that we still all have to somewhat experiment on ourselves and I think this is where — I hadn’t thought about it until you were saying it earlier when we’re talking about the intentional eating. I hadn’t thought about that so much as a feminine energy, but that’s something that Paul really goes into and teaches a lot of and making soul connection and being able to really just feel your food, feel the energy from it. I hadn’t recognized that as a feminine energy I think until you’ve said it. Just the way that you said it, I’ve learned to tap into both sides of both yin-yang, male-female, whatever it is, and being able to do that has probably just led so much more growth for me as a person because now I’m able to do that self-reflection and really not just say, “Oh well, science says this, so I should just do this.” Yes, the science says that, but how does it make me feel? How do I react to that? And I’m able to really blend those two together much easier now.
Lindsey: That’s awesome. How do you do it as a parent? Are you intentional with the foods you introduce to your kiddos?
Nick: Yes. Well, Max, he’s just starting to dabble in solid foods right now, so for him, some avocado, some cooked sweet potatoes, pretty simple. I might do egg yolks for him tonight for the first time. We’re going organic and/or when in season, we’re getting from the local farmers around here or from our backyard. For Cooper, he can make his own food decisions, but what are the food decisions? The choices that he has, we have in the house. So sure, we’ll get snacks like he’ll get it and it’s not about depriving him of things, but it’s trying to give him the best possible options and seeing what his choices are that he wants to make and that still is going to be up to him.
Lindsey: Yeah. That’s pretty awesome.
Nick: I must say the big thing that I’m happy about is he likes eating goat butter just by itself and he loves liverwurst, so I’m super happy about those.
Lindsey: I love liverwurst. It’s so good.
Nick: So yeah, we have that multiple times a week usually.
Lindsey: Oh, that’s awesome. So what is your life — I’m sure people are wondering. You’re a professional. You’re a PT. You’re a dad of two, a husband, so you wear many hats. What does your week look like or your day to day? How do you manage it all?
Nick: Julie and I help each other, first and foremost, and I have to say that is where that communication is ever evolving. Communication comes into play. I was thinking about actually just doing a short podcast on — or maybe I did. I don’t remember, but it’s one of those — we all have 168 hours in a week, right?
Nick: So we are all free to make whatever decisions we want. I can come into the clinic or I don’t have to every day. I still have that choice. Every day I take the dogs and the boys and we’d go on a walk and part of that is so we all get out in nature, part of it is so we spend time together, but part of it is so even Julie gets a break a little bit too and sometimes we’ll go together, but we make those choices and there’s a reason. I make time to get sleep. Sure, right now, is that interrupted in the middle of the night? Yes, it’s interrupted, but making sure that I’m not going to bed at ten and getting up at three. No, it’s not just that I’m giving myself a five-hour window that I know I’m going to be up in. No. I’m going to bed and giving myself a minimum of eight hours to at least have the chance to be asleep.
Lindsey: Got it.
Nick: I think it comes down to making those choices that are not only best for me, but best for my family. This has actually gone back to something Paul has taught me. I used to be an “I” like where it was just me. I really didn’t have to worry about anybody else. And then my then girlfriend and wife now, Julie, we became a “we”. So you have one, you go to two, we had some dogs, so there’s still some responsibility there, but it still isn’t the same. But then we go really into an “all” where now every decision that I make, sure, I do have to think about myself, I have to think about the both of us, but I also have to think about our entire family. So that comes into really what my week looks like. Am I going to go 60, 70, 80 hours or am I going to put in enough time at the clinic? I’m going to get on and be able to talk with people like yourself and be able to hopefully share this and really enjoy doing that.
So this is part work for me, but this is part just playtime if you will where you just get to have fun and enjoy it, so thinking about all of those things that I need, but I also need to give to my wife, give to my family. That’s what it’s really about, is what are my core values, what do I value truly, and making the time for those as best I can.
Lindsey: That’s huge. I would have probably a ton of moms, females, partners asking you, how do you help them figure out their core values or how do you help dads plan their week? Any secrets there?
Nick: Well, it’s just core values.
Lindsey: How did you figure out yours?
Nick: I would still say it’s in evolution.
Lindsey: Yeah, I agree.
Nick: But in terms of — okay, let’s talk about just nutrition. That’s been a big talk today. You need to know what it is that you value about nutrition and why. Well, I just sent out a couple of hundred dollars again last week for our CSA that’s upcoming this year, so we’re putting our value, I should say, into that. So we value a local organic farmer that we eat from over half of the year. I also just this past weekend had Cooper help me plant seeds down the basement, so they’re starting for our garden. It’s things like that. And then what do we value? We value again basically whole foods. We value spending a little bit more for when we can the local foods, the pasteurized meats, all of that.
So you have to understand, say those are your values, but you know what, price still comes up. Well, how can you get the most bang for your buck? You should probably be starting with again any of the meats, the fish, the eggs because they’re going to be the highest contaminants if there are going to be anything, right?
Nick: So you can take your values and maybe you can’t implement all of those values, but you can do good, better, best.
Good is you’re already going just maybe with the whole foods. Better is I’m going to buy the highest quality that I can. Maybe it’s not the best, but you’ve made that conscious decision to go towards that.
Lindsey: Yeah, in that direction.
Nick: Yeah. We can do it with a movement practice. Movement, again, you’re looking at what do I value. I value being able to — I want to be strong. I do enjoy being strong, but I want to be able to move the way that I’m moving now for myself, but also I am a physical therapist, so I sure as hell better be able to show people how to move properly too, right? So I have to do that now, but I don’t want to do that just now. I want to be able to do that when I’m 80 or 100, whatever it is, however long I live. Sure, it might not be the same strength, but I have to value now — okay, so I value good movement. Well, what does that mean? We talked about breath work, right? You don’t think of that as a core value, but if you actually get down to it — and this will take time.
Lindsey: It’s like the freedom to move, yeah.
Nick: Right, but this isn’t something that I just all of a sudden came up with. I said I’ve been working on this for eight years now pretty hard, so I recognize that that’s what I want to look at, and you can take this now to all areas of your life. You can take it to whether it’s your job, career, whether an entrepreneur, any of those things. It depends on what you are, what you value. It’s going to reflect the way in which you get paid from the world, whatever that looks like.
Lindsey: Right. Maybe it’s the way the world values your services or the energy you put out.
Nick: Exactly. So how do I apply this to somebody else? You have to just think about those things. I would suggest come up with the columns — you could take your four pillars if you want. For me, I look at Paul Chek’s Six Foundation Principles. We can look at any of those things and you can just put those down. “Okay. These are my things here.” Yeah, you can say you value health, but you still go to McDonald’s. No, you don’t. I’m sorry. I wouldn’t even —
Lindsey: The actions are bigger.
Nick: Right, exactly. You’re not giving that action. Now, you might be eating low quality food, but if you’re still eating whole foods then I can say you’ve actually taken that step to go in that right direction, so it really comes down to — and I hate saying “being honest” because it’s like everything I say better be honest. Otherwise, why am I talking? But that’s how I look at it. You have to be very introspective and honest with yourself regarding health or otherwise what your core values are. Like I said, write them down maybe. That might be the best way for you to get them out. Well, if you’re an “I”, you can talk about it with yourself. You can write it down. If you’re a “we” and you’re just a couple at that point, well, you two can communicate about it, but then when you become an “all”, you can communicate about this with your kids.
My son, he still has the choice. He can still eat other foods and you know what? Christmastime, one of his favorite new words is “cookie” and he likes to eat cookies with Julie, but they’re still going to use the best quality ingredients that they can to make those cookies and they’re not having it every single night either. So it’s finding what those values are and finding out what those values are of those around you and you have to have that communication about all of those and I really emphasize that.
Your loved ones, partners, anybody that you share intimate contact with, you have to know what each other’s core values are as well. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough because if you place great value on nutrition but your partner doesn’t, that’s going to lead to a lot of butting of heads and especially if you add — so that’s at the “we” level. If you take that to the “all” level and now you add even one or more kids into it and one of you goes ahead and, “Oh yeah, you can just eat cake. You drink your juice, no problem” and the other one says, “No, I would like to at least maybe have a snack once in a while, but we’re going to try and eat whole foods. We’re going to go into the farmer’s market,” it’s going to be tough to make that work and you’re going to have to communicate what you really want from that.
Lindsey: That’s so true.
Nick: I’m curious from the working with a lot of moms, how do they see that as far as maybe their core values are — I don’t know if that’s something you initially go into with them or is it more like what do they want to get out of this.
Lindsey: Yeah. I would relate this to our birth desires almost and that’s super specific, but we basically narrow down to, “How do you want to feel during your birth?” So we haven’t even said —
Nick: That is an awesome question to ask. Wow.
Lindsey: Yeah, because you may want to feel safe and secure. You may want to feel natural and free. There are all different kinds of adjectives that people use, and then to make sure that our partner, how they want to feel too in that setting can be honored as well, and then build your birth experience around that. And so sometimes when they realize, “Oh, I want to feel this way” and you start to put things in action around that feeling then maybe your healthcare provider doesn’t line up with what you want to feel or maybe the setting in which your healthcare provider wants you to deliver in doesn’t line up or whatever, so then it goes back to, “This is how I want to feel and I’m going to be in action around it.”
You can even take that — let’s say mom, she’s been laboring for two days and she wanted basically to have a vaginal birth. Maybe that was somewhere in there. Maybe the choice comes down to getting epidural or not. And if her desires and feelings are still being met then maybe the epidural is the right decision at that time. So yeah, I think what you’re saying very much relates to the birth scenario specifically, which is kind of cool.
Nick: Very nice, very nice. Well, I know we’re coming up on the end of our hour here. This has been awesome. We’ve been going all over the place, but it’s still so cool how everything has been relating to each other wherever we go. So if you wouldn’t mind sharing where we can go ahead and find out about BIRTHFIT for any moms-to-be, current moms, anybody across the board, or I should say partners, families. I think this is an awesome resource, if you wouldn’t mind sharing, please.
Lindsey: Yeah, so birthfit.com, pretty simple, or BIRTHFIT on Instagram or BIRTHFIT Podcast. We’re on Facebook as well. We have just a general BIRTHFIT Facebook group that people share a bunch of stuff in and it’s open to the public, so anybody who wants to join that, they can. Those are all the sources. There are regional directors in various locations throughout the country, so I’d look for one near you.
Nick: That’s what I actually want to check out. I didn’t think to look at that ahead of time, but I’m going to just check out to see who’s around me in this are too.
Lindsey: Where are you at?
Nick: Eastern Pennsylvania.
Lindsey: Oh nice! We might have a new one out there.
Nick: All right. I’m going to have to check this out then to see.
Lindsey: Yeah. We’re actually updating our website and our map and everything this week, so I’ll tell you to wait until Saturday to check.
Nick: All right. Perfect!
Lindsey: So where can people find you at?
Nick: Here, barenakedhealthpodcast.com or Evolution Health & Fitness, but it’s just evo-health.com, pretty much on any of the social media platforms, Evolution Health & Fit I think it is. I don’t know exactly what the handle is, but again, everything is on all of the websites there. Lindsey, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much.
Lindsey: Yeah. Thanks for sharing and thanks for chatting with me.
Nick: Yes, for sure. I can’t wait to catch up and maybe do this again. I encourage everybody to go check out the regional directors, I think, because this is something — and I can’t wait to be able to look at this because this is something — I want to actually quickly share that for a moment. I should’ve started maybe with this.
I reached out to you and we’ve been trying to connect for I think almost a year at this point because I had heard you on another podcast and my wife was pregnant. It was still just one of those things like I was so in tune just with what you’re saying, sharing, so I’m really excited to have been able to finally get to catch up and talk and hopefully share this and help a lot of people with this because I think it can be an amazing process. I should say it should be an amazing process for everybody involved, so I think this is a great way to help out with that too.
Lindsey: Well, thank you and I appreciate all that you’re doing and yeah, you’re definitely leading from the front, so that’s pretty rad.
Nick: Awesome! Thank you, Lindsey.
Lindsey: Yeah. Thanks, Nick! Enjoy your Tuesday.
Nick: I will. You do the same.
Lindsey: All right. I’ll talk to you soon.
Nick: All right, sounds good. Bye-bye.
All right, BIRTHFIT, what an episode! That was awesome, Nick definitely leading from the front. I wish we could sit down and have coffee and chat in person much more. I’ve got to get out to Pennsylvania apparently.
I think Nick is very aware of how intentional he is with his actions and he touched on this and I’d like this to be the takeaway, being intentional in every action. He used the example and it’s a really simple example of if you’re trying to be healthy and you’re aware of your nutritional habits then why would you stop at McDonald’s? That’s just a really obvious example, but there are other things I’m sure going on in your life or your relationship with anybody really whether it’d be your significant other, your kiddos, whoever, but make sure your actions match your talk or your values or how you want to feel. Be intentional with them and I think that will go a long way.
Thanks again for listening. Thank you, Nick, for chatting with me and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week. Bye!
[1:11:57] End of Audio