This week’s guest is Michelle Shapiro. She is an incredible functional and integrative nutritionist and dietitian. She helps people to heal holistically from anxiety disorders and those who are suffering from gastrointestinal issues. She looks for the root cause of issues to get down to the reason why someone is not feeling their best.
Today she shares her own struggles with anxiety while growing up which led to her passion for helping people find relief from all types of anxiety issues.
Table of Contents
Michelle Shapiro’s story
Before going to college, Michelle says she occupied a larger body. She wanted to lose weight so she can have the same experience as everyone else – which she thought required a smaller body. She went on a crash diet (basically had stopped eating) and lost 100 pounds in 3 months and started having panic attacks frequently.
She started to look into what was causing her anxiety and panic attacks. She made a battle plan and listed the physical, mental, and spiritual things she can do to deal with anxiety. And then she put them into place and got around 75% to 80% better.
A while later she went to a naturopathic physician who found that her body was in a survival state and that she’s still feeling the effects years later. They decided to make a program together called Anxiety Proof – now he is her colleague and business partner, and they are now spreading the message of anxiety healing in a holistic way. No matter where you are at, it is possible to heal your anxiety. After putting her plan into place, she hasn’t had a panic attack in about 8 years! It took a multifaceted battle plan to get her to become healed.
Michelle works with people who:
- Are looking to lose weight but in a way that feels authentic, in alignment and body neutral and positive
- Want to change their body while respecting it
- Want to heal holistically from anxiety disorders and who are suffering from gastrointestinal issues
The difference between anxiety and stress
Michelle puts anxiety and stress on a scale. Stress is the first step which if you’re not recognizing your stress, it can build up and then you get into the category of anxiety.
Stress can be anything from an upset stomach and when something’s not right. We can have too much stress and not notice it.
Anxiety is the sensation that comes when you’ve ignore other pains and when you ignore other stressors for a long period of time. You usually start to notice your stress once it has become anxiety.
Panic is the last step on the level, is when you do not acknowledge your stress or anxiety, and then becomes a physical reality which is a panic attack.
Root causes of anxiety
Picture that you have a stress bucket in your body, and if you fill it up and it overflows, anything over that amount is going to cause you to have a panic attack and cause you to have physiological stressors. During times of stress, you don’t recover from intense workouts the same way. This bucket can be filled up with physical or mental stressors.
Your body responds to all stressors the same way. Our bodies are trained to run from what causes us stress since the ancient times. It’s a fight or flight response. If you’re doing something like a low carb diet, the reason you have a panic attack is because your body is protecting you from starvation.
This is your body’s way of communicating with you. Stress is our alarm system to let us know that something’s going on.
Anxiety is a messenger and needs to be heard. The most powerful thing you can do when you’re stressed is listen and accept your anxiety in the moment. You can’t just keep pushing and diminishing it. You need to embrace it and ride the wave.
During through really stressful times in history, just like right now, just at baseline your stress bucket may already be 50% filled when you wake up in the morning. We need to be more gentle with ourselves during times like these.
Nutrient deficiencies that can also cause anxiety
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Protein (30 g, 30 min after waking)
- Amino acids (tryptophan = serotonin precursor)
Nothing can make your body more scared than the potential threat of starvation. Having small meals throughout the day is important to keep balanced blood sugar. Having a snack before bed with carbohydrates included will help keep your blood sugar balanced while you’re sleeping, so you won’t wake up at 2 am.
Hormones and anxiety
The more stress you have, the less able to handle stress you become. We are not really that resilient to stress – there is a finite amount of stress that we are equipped to deal with.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, blocks the production of a lot of hormones. Elevated cortisol will prevent you from having normal periods because your body thinks it is running from a tiger and is not the time for you to become pregnant.
You need a professional help you make a battle plan for anxiety that is just for you. It’s not just about eating healthy or getting exercise. It’s about listening to what your body truly needs.
What are your tigers? What are the things that cause your body to feel threatened? And how do we get you to feel not as threatened?
Social support is SO important, following the right people and having the right people in your community. Finding ways to soothe your body is also important, whether it be through physical means, eating more carbs or protein, and meditation. You need to find what works for you.
The micro-trauma effect
A micro-trauma is anything that is incurred by an event or a person that causes subtle harmful behavior. There are events in our lives that are hugely impactful. It could be something as simple as your mom telling you not to eat anymore, or a stranger commenting about your body.
We store these memories as physical energy, and these things can guide and dictate our actions if we don’t gently move through them. We can fight, flight, or freeze during micro-traumas, and if you freeze during the event then you don’t handle it as well. When you’re feeling uncomfortable, the best thing to do is to make yourself feel safe.
None of what we’re talking about is a replacement to therapy. Therapy is the gold standard and these things should be done to complement therapy. Also, working with an energy worker is very powerful in solving micro-traumas.
4 – 7 – 8 breath work
This breath work is very helpful for people who are uncomfortable with meditating.
You breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then exhale for 8 seconds. It’s a perfect balance to get your O2 and CO2 to feel really synched and in rhythm.
Do this while holding your hand over your heart while thinking of something powerfully positive. This can also get your brain into flow with your heart, moving together to heal your anxiety.
Things to do to tackle stress and anxiety
- Assess your anxiety so you can make your battle plan
- Get your labwork done to assess micronutrients and hormones
- Balancing your blood sugar throughout the day and at night
- Shaking your body (feels so good!)
- Tolerating discomfort (anxiety “smells” your fear)
- Doing tapping
- Be mindful while eating (intuitive eating, eat slowly and mindfully)
- Food journaling to understand what you’re eating and why (not the same thing as myfitnesspal)
- Grounding (going out in nature and putting your feet on the grass)
- Get a balance of nutrients by eating a variety of foods
- Don’t under-eat, make sure to get enough food
- Don’t overtrain
- Pay attention to what kind of conversations you are having with your body
- Adding 1/4 tsp Celtic sea salt to lemon water in the morning
- Having electrolytes to help combat stress, especially if you exercise
Herbs for anxiety
- You can mix glycine powder with passion flower (make sure to check with your doctor first because you can build tolerance to passion flower)
- Phosphorylated serine will block cortisol response at night
- CBD oil can also help you sleep – make sure to use a high quality brand that is 3rd party tested
- Reishi mushroom
- Magnolia bark
**Any supplement recommendation we are giving, please be sure to first check with your doctor or naturopathic physician to make sure it is right for your body.
Everyone is unique – we all respond to different supplements and adaptogens in different ways. Many of these things interact with each other.
Be careful with adding too many adaptogens – they work with what your body already has
Taking medication for anxiety
It’s never wrong to take medication. You have to work with your health provider and see if medication is good for you. You are the expert of your body and have your own journey. If you feel confidently that you want to take something, the ball is always in your court.
There is always hope for you in overcoming anxiety and medication is a part of that journey then don’t be afraid to go with it.
There’s nothing healthier in the world than listening to your body.
Michelle’s program – Anxiety Proof
Learn what anxiety is and learn how to heal anxiety for good. No matter where you are at, you can heal and they will help you gain the power to access it.
They bring messages of true healing, friendship and true health through this program. They have sold out the first program but they are going to open it back soon for new enrollees.
Online 4 week holistic program for people who are dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, to get them to a good relationship with stress. This supplements the work you’re doing with your therapist, and it also can work as a stand-alone program.
Check it out at www.getanxietyproof.com!
If you join the waitlist, you also receive a free guided hypnotherapy video training from Dr. Robert Kachko to help you reduce anxiety and increase feelings of peace and calm.
Michelle Shapiro’s info:
Michelle’s anxiety healing program: www.getanxietyproof.com