163. How To Approach Thyroid Imbalances & Autoimmune Issues for Optimal Health with Danielle Meitiv

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Why do so many women deal with autoimmune issues or thyroid imbalances? Often, it’s because we’ve put our bodies into circumstances that push them into survival mode. How can we get to the root of what’s making us ill, and what can we do to get better?

In this episode, I am talking to the incredibly knowledgeable Danielle Meitiv. Danielle is a scientist, health coach, educator, and mom with Hashimoto’s. She’s been dubbed the Thyroid Queen because she helps so many women with autoimmune issues (particularly thyroid-related ones) address the root cause and, ultimately, change their lives!

Today, Danielle is breaking down everything you wanted to know about thyroid, how our bodies deal with stress, and what we need to do to optimize our health. We’re also going to talk a lot about mind and body and this revolutionary medicine that needs to be more present in our culture for people to heal and actually feel good.

Connect with Danielle:
Website: https://thyroidhealingsolutions.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thyroid.coach.danielle/

Rachel: Hey guys, I’m so excited to be here with my good friend Danielle. I asked her to come back but she’s been on before talking about how she had an amazing challenge go viral on Tiktok. Today she is breaking down everything you wanted to know about thyroid. We’re also going to talk a lot about mind and body and also this revolutionary medicine that needs to be more present in our culture in order for people to heal, get out of autoimmune, and actually feel good. 

Danielle, I’m so excited for you to be here. Can you introduce yourself to everyone?

Danielle: Yes, I am so excited to be back. I love your podcast. Rachel is one of the people who got me going with health coaching by inspiring me both through her products and through her podcast. So I’m super excited to be here. 

My name is Danielle. I’m a scientist, health coach and mom with Hashimotos. I got into this health coaching, like many of us, as a second career. I did something completely different for 20 years, although still in the sciences. My own journey of healing is really what inspired me to change careers at 50 and become a health coach and educator.

Rachel: I love that. I look at you as the thyroid queen. I am all over your TikTok, which I’ve told everyone to follow you, because there’s a plethora of information that you share. And it’s information that we don’t get when we’re just going to our doctor. I’m sure there are great doctors out there. I’ve met some of them myself. But I would say that a good amount of them are not educated in some of the areas that we are educated in when it comes to looking at these other aspects of life. 

Why The Thyroid Is An Integral Part Of Healing Our Body

So before we dive into this mind-body connection and why the thyroid is such an integral part of healing our body. Talk to me about why the thyroid is important. 

Danielle: So I’m the big thyroid geek. I could go on about this all day. This is my friend Thea the thyroid, my little plush thyroid here. If your thyroid is this big, we really have to talk. Thyroids should be maybe the size of a walnut. It’s right here at the base of your throat. And your thyroid is actually very, very simple. 

In terms of what we’re talking about metabolism, it does two things. It primarily makes the thyroid hormone, which we call P4 or pyroxene. You may have heard about the medication levothyroxine, which is a synthetic form of that hormone. And it makes a tiny bit of something called T3, triiodothyronine, which is a very fancy way of saying the same thing. But with one fewer island, P4 and T3. And it’s just basically one molecule T that then gets converted and is responsible for so many things in your body. 

So why is that big a deal? You can’t just make it and take the hormone. But it’s actually more than that. And the more I dig into it, the more I realize that it’s simple in terms of what it does, but extremely complex. And this is why your thyroid in particular is one of the waypoints or waystations between your emotional, mental world and your physical body, how your body translates what you’re thinking and feeling into the thinking and feeling emotionally into how your body works. That all passes through this little gland here, basically. 

So stress is translated into your physical ailments, in large part through the function or non function of our thyroid. And that’s why we need to keep our thyroid healthy. Thyroid dysfunction itself is a sign of bigger problems often in that mind-body of things beyond just, oh, I need a supplement. It’s actually going well, thyroid isn’t working and my thyroid hormones aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. 

What’s the bigger picture? What’s further upstream? Conventional medicine just doesn’t ask that question. Which is why we got to acknowledge that they look at this tiny gland and say, Oh, you’re fine. Meanwhile, my entire life is falling apart. I feel like crap, how can you say I’m fine?

Common Symptoms Of Thyroid Imbalances

Rachel: What are some of the symptoms that somebody could encounter dealing with thyroid imbalance? 

Danielle: Yes. So they’re very classic. So it could seem like a lot of different things. One is weight gain that comes out of nowhere and you can’t get rid of it no matter what you do. I’ve had clients who gained 100 pounds in six months. The doctor said, Oh, eat less. That person would have to eat 750 calories or almost 1000 calories more every day for six months to gain that much weight. You couldn’t do that. Like your body could not do that. And yet the doctors are like, you must eat too much. What do you think, she moved into a donut shop? Oh, no. It’s a weight gain. Again, nothing you do, like you can’t get rid of it. 

Another is hair loss. You start seeing more hair on the brush and the drain and less on your head. Nobody gets this about hair loss, but your eyebrows thinning, especially this outer third. Another related one is being cold all the time. I have a stack of fingerless gloves. So cold, hair loss, digestive issues, sometimes people get these heart palpitations. I always describe it as, it felt like having a bird fluttering in my chest, just all of a sudden and then it would go away. It’s a scary feeling. 

Here’s one that most people don’t think of, especially in women, high cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol. If you haven’t changed your diet and your LDL is going up and your doctor wants to put you on a statin, they’d be better off putting on thyroid medication. Especially in women, high LDL cholesterol is due to low T3 hormone because our liver needs thyroid hormone in order to absorb and break down cholesterol. 

Danielle: So if some people have what we call, congenital or genetic hyperlipidemia, from a young age, they’ve had high cholesterol. But for a lot of us, all of a sudden, we’ll just start going up. And the doctor is like, oh, I want to give you a statin. Just add a new medication while you have all these other symptoms right. They’ll say, Oh, you’re just getting older. Oh, it’s just menopause. 

No. You shouldn’t be losing your hair or so exhausted and fatigued, no matter how much you sleep. And it’s not just, Oh, I’m tired. They’re exhausted, can’t hold myself off the couch. There are also a lot of digestive issues, skin issues, joints, swelling your hands and feet. 

Again, most of these can also go with other problems when you put them together, especially weight gain, cold, and hair loss. Those are classic. There’s really nothing else other than hypothyroidism that does that. You’ll have those doctors who are like, oh, virtual labs are normal, you’re fine. You’re not fine. You need to find doctors who are actually taking this seriously because those are classic hypothyroid symptoms, and somebody who will actually do a full thyroid panel. 

Thyroid Panels You Can Ask Your Doctor To Perform

Rachel: What are the ones that you suggest to clients to speak to their doctor about?

Danielle: So for a full binary panel, most doctors –even at this conference I was telling you about the American Thyroid Association last week– they’re like, oh TSH is all you need. No, TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is made by your brain to stimulate your thyroid. So I still do not understand why doctors are so reluctant to test the actual thyroid. 

If we want to know if your liver is functioning we test liver enzymes. Now, if your thyroid is functioning, we should test thyroid hormones. So TSH is the first, but then you need three T4 and three T3, not total three, reverse T3. Especially with hypothyroidism, you want to check thyroid antibodies, which are TPO and TG, thyroid peroxidase antibodies and thyroglobulin antibodies, but you could just call them TPO and TG. So that is six different types, not one. And that will give you a better picture. 

Because the thing is, an endocrinologist wants to know if your thyroid is functioning. And this one makes me crazy. So on the American Thyroid Association website, the official organization for endocrinologists and practitioners all throughout North America –on their website, they say hypothyroidism is defined as not having enough thyroid hormone to have normal bodily function. That makes sense. 

How do you treat it? How do you normalize TSH? I didn’t have enough hormones for normal bodily function. So don’t you think cured would be having a hormone for normal bodily function? We want to make sure we have enough hormones for normal bodily functions, not just one number on a lab sheet is correct. So we need to check all of those things to really understand what’s going on.

What Happens When We Enter The Autoimmune Phase With Thyroids

Rachel: Tell me a little about when we enter that autoimmune phase with thyroid. Because we’re in an autoimmune-inundated world.

Danielle: It’s unbelievable. So autoimmune illness is when your own immune system is no longer able to distinguish between self and nonself and starts attacking your own tissues as the enemy. Now one thing I really want to emphasize to people when we talk about chronic illness, there’s a real shift we need to make from the conventional medical view to what science is actually showing us to be the case. 

Chronic Illness is not evidence of your body being broken. I wasn’t saying they will not have immunity, right your body is not broken. The medical field makes it out like the body’s broken and the doctor is the expert and is gonna fix it. No.

Symptoms are your body responding incorrectly to the signals it’s getting. So if you want to change the output, you need to change the input. So autoimmunity does not mean the immune system is broken. But why is it doing this? Either your immune system is so overworked, that it can’t fire properly. It’s like friendly fire in the chaos of a battle. And there’s people, there’s so much going on that the immune system cannot distinguish. You can’t tell the green helmets from the black. 

We’re just starting to get some evidence suggesting that autoimmunity is almost your body’s way of saying, I don’t know any other way to stop this. So we’re going to attack the organ that’s doing this in order to slow it down. So it’s almost like if the car is going towards a cliff, and the brakes aren’t working and nothing’s working, you shoot up the tires, because you just got to stop it before it goes off the cliff, on top of your own immune system. It’s a last ditch effort to try to save you.

So what we need to do is go back upstream and figure out what the inputs were. What’s the problem that caused this downstream problem? Not, Oh, we have to stop the autoimmunity and suppress the immune system. No, no, no. How do we get the immune system to calm down so that it’s no longer attacking you and causing inflammation and so on? So that’s really what happens in autoimmunity.

The Different Types Of Thyroid Related Autoimmunes

Autoimmune thyroiditis, also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is the most common form of autoimmune illness and that’s when your immune system is attacking your thyroid and making you hyperthyroid because it’s damaging your ability to make thyroid hormones.

Rachel: Tell me, what are the autoimmunes in the thyroid world? What are those different areas?

Danielle: There’s two main autoimmune illnesses. One cause is hypo or low thyroid function and or lack of thyroid hormone activity in your body, and that’s called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. And that is when your own immune system is attacking either thyroglobulin, or thyroid peroxidase to proteins and your thyroid so that you’re not making enough hormone. 

Then there’s Graves disease, which is when your immune system creates an antibody to the thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH receptor. The way I explain this is that Hashimotos is like  putting the gas pedal down on the highway but it’s just not going fast enough. So the car’s gonna go slow. Graves is like you’re jamming that pedal down, you put a brick on it, and it’s stuck in the down position. So your heart’s racing, anxiety, sweating, it can be really scary.

So hypo is high, Hashimotos and hyper crazy. And what’s confusing is people can have both and switch between the two which is why we need to deal with the auto immune activation in the first place, not just take a pill for the downstream effects.

How To Approach The Root Problem Of Thyroid Issues

Rachel: What are things that we need to take into consideration when we’re looking at the upstream?

Danielle: Well, with the thyroid most people don’t have enough energy when they are hypothyroid. I have a little acronym I call fibroid energy, E N R G so energy. E is you need to eliminate those things that are stimulating the thyroid part stimulating the immune system so eliminate often requires. I usually start with diet because multiple times a day we have an opportunity to eat something healing or not. So we eliminate foods that trigger the immune system. 

N is for nourish, so add foods in your body that it needs to heal and stay healthy. The first R is rest. We need sleep. Americans seem to be allergic to sleep. We think it’s optional. We think only wimps sleep. Last night, I was not sleeping well because I’d just gone to a conference and the Airbnb had a terrible bed. So I didn’t sleep well for a week. I fell asleep at nine o’clock. I woke up at 7am and I felt like a new person.

Rachel: I thought of you coming out of recovery and my adrenal fatigue. I now look at sleep as my best friend. I’m out by 9:30 and I sleep till 8. It’s the best sleep and it’s been the best remedy.

Danielle: Yeah, that’s it. And it’s not optional. Your body has so much wisdom and so much work to do, but it can’t do it while you’re running around all day. So sleep and rest. 

The other R is restore, we need to restore ourselves. And that means actually taking time for stress reduction, for rebalancing, restoring, rejuvenating, put whatever you want in there, deal with stress. I don’t just mean oh, take a few deep breaths. No. You actually need to change your relationship to the pressures in our world. Sometimes it means removing them. Sometimes it’s realizing this relationship is not healthy for me. 

I’ve been going through that lately and it is a tough process but you have to do it because while you and I have talked to us before, fantastic books have come out over the last few years especially just finished one called The Myth of Normal Trauma: Elicited Healing In A Toxic World of Amati, one of the world’s leading experts on trauma and illness. And little did we know it’s a one-to-one correspondence. 

People with autoimmunity have trauma, emotional trauma, either in their childhood or in their present, or both. A big setback can be a huge trigger. That trauma keeps us in fight or flight.

It’s the foundation of our immunity. There was a big study of Army veterans coming home from combat with PTSD, they were 70 to 100% more likely than the average person to be hospitalized with an autoimmune disorder. Because emotional trauma translates into inflammation. 

Establishing The Mind Body Connection For Optimal Health

So this is a little bit of a philosophical tangent. What are emotions for? Why do we have emotions? There’s nothing that goes on in your body that was not honed by evolution over thousands of years to help you survive. So what are emotions? 

Our brain has all this machinery to create emotions. So basically, an emotion biologically, is your brain’s evaluation of a situation. Fear. This isn’t a safe place, we’ve got to get out of here. Anger, Oh, I better be ready to fight. Love, oh, this is somebody I need to connect to. And all of those emotions are a judgment about what’s going on. They translate into physical things. 

I’m afraid. Heart rate goes up, muscles get ready to run. You’re literally in flight. Anger. I’m in fight mode. Love, I can relax. Happiness, you have a big grin. If we can come down, all those stress hormones can go down, all the happy hormones can come up. So the idea of a mind body connection. 

First of all, I often don’t use the word mind body, because it implies that somehow the mind isn’t part of the body. This is a big hunk of tissue up here. So our emotions are just another piece of information. If it’s cold in the room, my body is going to shiver. If it’s hot, I’m going to take my hand off the stove. If I’m afraid I’m going to get ready to run. If I’m happy, I’m going to rest and relax. It’s another piece of information. 

So we act as though being stressed out, being unhappy, being afraid, being angry all the time isn’t an effective body, but of course it is. It’s going to tell our body what to do next. And if we’re constantly in that fight or flight mode, or it’s constantly racing, we can’t sleep well, and there’s no way to heal the body.  

I know for myself, putting myself in trauma therapy and doing the different therapies that I’ve done, has significantly changed my autoimmune to the point that I can go packing on vacation and where I used to take like 20 supplements. I am now down to three. I was really shocked when I went for a little vacation, and I was packing and it’s like that nervousness of what am I going to eat when I travel? Nervousness of the supplementation? It didn’t even exist.

It’s funny because I have my 85 year old father living with me and I’m glad he’s with us but it is insanely stressful to have to be responsible for him. And then we parent and so we travel and will go away for a month. So last year we went to Peru for a month. This year, we’re going to Italy for a month. And it’s funny because I can’t eat much except for potatoes. I can’t eat peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, goji berries, ashwagandha and can’t eat Nightshade. Except when we’re in Peru. I get tomatoes and peppers. No problem. I didn’t have hives or anything. 

Is it just a different atmosphere? Maybe it’s a different pepper? No, it was a month of knowing my dad was at my brother’s house. I wasn’t stressed out. My stress levels weren’t stressed. So my immune system was not reacting to the food. Gluten, I’m still never going to eat. You have autoimmunity, I’m sorry, there really is no healthy level of burden. But it was just purely inflammation. It was because I wasn’t emotionally stressed out. My immune system wasn’t going crazy. 

So there’s like a one to one relationship between the emotional health and physical health. I’m coming to the conclusion you just cannot have a body that can be healing the mind and the heart. You just can’t. You may be able to hold back your symptoms from day to day. But all you need is one slip up, if you catch a cold or something stressful happens and you have to bring the overall level down in your whole life. And that means really doing deep trauma healing for sure. I’ve done the same and there’s no alternative. So much of my stress level of needing to be perfect, needing to overwork to prove myself, needing to have all these. 

Especially for women who grew up with conditional love, right? I need to be valuable to people in order to get love. I need to show my usefulness and I need to not have any needs that anyone else is making up. I think it’s so connected to the thyroid.

Rachel: Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about in Ayurvedic medicine. The throat chakra is your voice. 

Danielle: And it’s funny because you see on TikTok and I’m really chatty and really talkative. Really outspoken. So it took me a long time to realize, wait, it’s not how much you talk it’s what you talk about. What’s that feeling? What do we say? I was choking on emotion and what do we usually choke on? On our anger, especially when we go and we don’t express when somebody violates your boundaries, when somebody is threatening you. That’s healthy anger. And yet women are never allowed to express that. Is it such a shock that we all have these thyroid issues that are so common and way more common for women to cope with. So in holding our emotions and needing to be that perfect person that’s saying, I’m fine, but your immune system is saying hello, we’re not fine. We are not fine. 

And that’s what Gabor Matta’s book is about. He has actually also been on The Body Says No, and this is interesting, because he was talking about ALS and multiple sclerosis, which are deadly, debilitating autoimmune conditions. And it’s known in the medical world that there is an MS or ALS personality. This is not to blame the victim because, of course, these people have these personalities because they were shaped by trauma. Because they’re not inborn. 

How To Quiet Your Stress Levels As A Woman In Today’s World

Often a lot of people with autoimmunity are too nice, myself included. We’re like, Oh, we’re fine. And we just pushed down everything ourselves. No, I don’t need help. And that makes us sick. We need to recognize our own needs and stop pushing them down for everybody else because it’s killing us or it’s going it’s a lesson learned. 

Rachel: Learn to forgive, I think part of forgiving is to be able to quiet the autoimmune. 

Danielle: Yeah. And quiet those stress levels because I know the moment somebody violates your boundary, or steps over something that you feel is just not right. Those stress hormones go right up. And then all of a sudden, past experiences, past trauma gets triggered. And all of a sudden you’re sick.

The thing that’s important about forgiving, especially for women, is we have to be careful that we don’t jump too quickly to forgive, in the sense of, you can’t forgive somebody unless you first acknowledge what they’ve actually done wrong to you. We often want to forget. 

Rachel: What about the point of like, here’s how I was wronged in the past. Now I can move past it. I’m gonna move past it. I don’t know you need to actually.

Danielle: Well,I think so much of that is, oh, I’m just gonna move past it and shove it down and then have that same thing just come up again and again and again. We really need to honor the child that was hurt because for most of us it’s childhood trauma. It’s the girls that are told, it’s not a big deal. Take care of yourself. Don’t have any needs. There’s a reason why. 

Again, even in the book, The Myth of Normal, he talks about this, why women have it worse because women are the emotional caretakers for everybody else. For men, for children, for their bosses. 

We are judged as women by how well we can ignore our own needs. Oh, no, we’re fine. We’re selfless. Martyrdom shows up automatically so we need to have healthy boundaries. Ask for help. Saying no. Want a really good word most want to learn? No. It’s a really short one, but it’s really hard to say. We say yes to too many things. You say, no, I can’t go to sleep early. It’s not optional. It will show up. 

All human beings have a need to be whole and fulfilled and respected and if we do not create those conditions for ourselves, we will get sick. There is no super person who can be a selfless martyr their entire life and not be ill. All the women in my family, my grandmother died at 43 of breast cancer. My aunt died at 43, she had multiple sclerosis. And then she had a brain tumor. My mom was diagnosed with cancer at 43 and died at 64. I told my husband, it stops here. I have an autoimmune disease. My mom and Aunt Musi, who was my grandmother, probably did too. I’m done. It’s not going on. And my daughter, no, we’re done. We’ll learn to take care of ourselves.

Superfoods To Enrich Your Diet

Rachel: I want to circle. What are the things that you add to your diet? This is your personal experience. What are those super foods that you feel are the good things that you need to add?

Danielle: Well, for one, I was a vegetarian for 24 years. And for me, that was a bad idea. We tried to do the vegan thing too. Don’t me wrong plants are phenomenal and power healing. Overall, I do have a plant based diet and eat tons of vegetables, lots of healthy fruit. But in terms of protein, I need animal protein. We just need nutrient dense protein. 

If you have an autoimmune condition, by definition, you have impaired digestion because as we know from research that came out of the Harvard School of Medicine and Public Health by Alessio Fasano, that all autoimmunity starts with a leaky gut. So we already know we have a compromised gut. Even if you kill it, you already know that your body is sensitive so it means we cannot digest as well. We often digest proteins well, but we don’t absorb nutrients well. So meat is the best way to get protein, B vitamins, minerals, zinc, iron and so on. 

Some people want to eat beef and lamb, others want chicken and then fish and so on. I do eat red meat now. Love fish. Salmon or any of those cold waste fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring, cold water oily fish are phenomenal for you and also tend to be low in mercury. Those five are high in omega threes and high in protein, so those fish and liver.

Tell grandma to just make chicken liver. It’s so good for you. There’s beef liver and chicken liver. A lot of people find it pretty cheap. You can get it at most farmers markets. Also cod liver is really really nutrient dense too.

Blueberries. I love making smoothies with berries or even in the winter. I will take berries and warm them up with a little bit of coconut oil on them, warm them up in the microwave and sprinkle cinnamon on them. Just warm berries. And then all vegetables are phenomenal. Green veggies. 

Rachel: Okay, right here. We have to put a myth to death: you can and should eat cruciferous vegetables. Yes or no?

Danielle: Even I remember when that came out. And I was like, oh my god, am I supposed to tell people not to eat broccoli? What makes me crazy is all these doctors who were like, oh, don’t eat broccoli. Anybody with thyroid issues should not be eating soy. That’s another reason why I was a vegetarian all that time. I would drink soy milk but soy really is a terrible glycogen. 

But broccoli sprouts are fantastic for your thyroid. It’s actually been shown to lower thyroid antibodies. So cruciferous vegetables are fantastic for you if you’re all concerned. Just steam your veggies. You don’t have to eat raw broccoli or kale. I don’t know how people eat it. Go steam it.  

I love bok choy, radishes, turnips, collard greens, and kale. Tatsoi, arugula, they’re all in the same families, all cruciferous vegetables. Cauliflower, cabbage, fermented foods like sauerkraut. We make our own sauerkraut and it’s super easy. Salt, cabbage, water, and weights. And that’s it. That’s how you make sauerkraut. It’s amazing. 

When you’re talking about vegetables we’re gonna say eat the rainbow. All those bioflavonoids are amazing. Beets, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, carrots and yellow squash. Eat as many colors. 

So I would say again, fish, liver either chicken or beef liver, cod liver, berries, cruciferous vegetables, and overall colorful vegetables and fermented foods. Those are the ones that were just so critical. 

Oh, and bone broth is fantastic. You can get bone broth powder and make your own. Just put it in water, sprinkle garlic powder and salt and sip it like bullion and use it as a base for soups. Make your own. You can get it after you’ve roasted a chicken. Saving the bones after Thanksgiving is my favorite thing. You carve the turkey, settle those bones, go down the pot with a hole you’re covered with water and simmer that. Put it in a hot pot or slow cooker overnight, or in the Instapot or in a pressure cooker. Bone broth is amazing for gut healing. 

Also glycine, that’s good for your gut, and also collagen powder. So I know I just gave you a long list. Let me say again, okay, fish, liver, dairy, eat the rainbow, fermented foods and bone broth. And also you can add in addition to bone broth, collagen powder. Bones have collagen in it, collagen powder, like in smoothies and so on.

How To Destress Your Life

Rachel: We talked about stress and how it really does impact us in so many ways. What are your favorite ways to relieve stress?

Danielle: So one thing that we are taking a functional medicine program at school for Applied functional medicine, and one thing we talked about is Vitamin J and that is enjoy. We need more pleasure in our lives. More joy. I don’t mean Oh, I like watching TV late at night because it makes me laugh. No. 

I mean, running around with the dog in the yard Joy, laughing ridiculously with your kids over memories, joy. Putting on your favorite music and just dancing. Close the door of your office, put some music on and just dance for 20 minutes to your favorite 80s hits or whatever. Just that thing that brings a big smile to your face. 

It isn’t about consuming media. It’s not about movies or TV, it is just about manifesting from within things that just make you happy in that relationship. They said it could be with other people, it could be by yourself, just bring that big smile to your face every single day. So that’s a huge one. 

The other one is a free app called Insight Meditation Timer. I now do a 15 minute meditation every day. You can do it as a guided meditation. So they have all kinds of free guided body scan to drift off to sleep. I spend more time flipping through TikTok or laying a stupid puzzle on my phone. Just carve the time for meditation. 

Rachel: I think in today’s world, it’s really about being extremely intentional and conscious within the day. Because I was just listening to Dr. Amen talk about the brain and thoughts. And it’s really mind blowing how much we as people over worry, overthink, over stress. It really affects our thoughts. And then it affects all of the different messages that are being sent to our body. And then we wonder why we feel anxiety or depression or we have an autoimmune. So it’s really spending 15 minutes to just slow down and give yourself a gift for the day.

Danielle: So I have this five day thyroid healing challenge. And one thing I tell people is take a notebook and write down how you’re feeling, write down your symptoms, write it down. Don’t just type in your phone, but just think about it because what you’re doing through the physical act of is you are sending a powerful message to your brain saying this is important. I am important. 

If I can’t take 15 minutes for myself, what message am I sending? Reinforcing that I’m not worth 15 minutes. I don’t want to spend 15 minutes with myself. And if we don’t, that itself was a powerful lesson. 

If we’re so busy, busy, busy, what are we running away from? Because often, especially for women, the urge to keep ourselves busy all the time is so that we don’t have to spend time with our thoughts. You don’t have to spend time with uncomfortable feelings. And it’s those things that are going to come out another way. Either they’re going to come out during your 15 Minute Meditation or they’re going to come out as a rash on your face. Which one would you rather have?

How Our Bodies Are Dealing With Stress

I look at my history of autoimmune, there are so many things that were explosive like Android D, and all these different health issues that just came with emotions. I can definitely tell at different times in my life when there was a certain emotion that was running. But I wasn’t willing to step into that emotion. I wanted to run from it. But my body was like, No, sorry. It’s right here. It’s not right. Pick, you don’t want to deal with it here or here? Okay. Because no one’s here. We could do your joints, we’re gonna deal. Literally, I will get my God, and then I will get my phone again. start feeling like I can’t swallow. I have a cold. And it’s because my body is well, there must be some urgency. So we’re getting the immune system all revved up. And that’s it. 

The thing we need to realize is that our bodies are actually incredibly sophisticated. But in terms of the strategies, or body, evolution has developed a couple strategies, and those are the only ones we have. Inflammation is how your body deals with stress. That’s it. There’s only one way. 

Think about 200,000 years ago on the savanna, stress meant you’re being chased by something that’s likely to bite you so we better be able to run fast, hunt, heal broken bones and fight infection, because that’s what’s gonna happen if you’re running from a creature and it bites you, right? 

So one fast parts gonna pump my bloods gonna move away through your digestive tract into your muscles, immune factors, all cytokines are going to zoom around the the body because either you’re wanting and the body’s after repair, or muscle damage, or you’re about to trip or fall, you might get bitten by something. So your body’s like, Okay, getting ready to deal with what’s going to happen, right? Or you need to be able to fight. 

So again, getting my muscles around. So that’s fine. And that’s life saving for 15 minutes, or even like a day. It’s life threatening if it happens for 15 years. And that’s when our body goes, Oh, my God, we’re stressed. It must be that there’s an enemy. No, it’s the mortgage. But there was no mortgage, there was no fight with your boss on the savanna 200,000 years ago. So your body’s oh, stressed out better just do everything that we’re programmed to do, which is the immune system fight gets pumped up, the heart rate goes up, the blood pressure goes up. Right, because the threat is supposed to go away in an hour, not a decade. 

So we need to recognize that your body thinks some things are an emergency. Your physical body is always eavesdropping on your thoughts. Your hypothalamus, which is part of your endocrine axis hypothalamus to the pituitary, talks to the thyroid. Our hypothalamus talks. The pituitary talks to the thyroid, the adrenals, also the sex glands, the gonads. 

If you’re stressed out, your body is saying, emergency. The pituitary gland is like, okay, Army, we have to get ready to fight. So you don’t have time to have babies. There goes your menstrual cycle. Now is not the time to build muscle, there goes your repair. This is certainly not the time to rest or digest. So you’re not sleeping well tonight and you’re gonna have a terrible stomachache if you try to eat anything. Are you gonna have sex, sleep, and eat a big meal while you’re running from a tiger? Have sex later. For now, we’re not making adequate sex hormones. We’ll do that later. Except that later never comes. Guess what? Now you have infertility.

So that’s how stress comes. If you’re stressed out and suffering from infertility, probably your body is not broken, it’s that your body thinks it’s an emergency and now is not a time to have a baby. Fight off the emergency and have a baby later. Who wants to have a baby when it’s all stressful because then your life is stressful for 20 years. 

Rachel: One of the reasons I wanted to have you today is to really talk about how our bodies are impacted so much because of our thinking because of our way of life and how it really shows up in the chakras.

Why Our Bodies Aren’t Broken But In Survival Mode

Danielle: Again, it’s not your body being broken. Your body’s number one priority is survival. Fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, PCOS, all of this is evidence your body is trying to survive difficult circumstances. 

So we need to take the body out of survival mode, not by taking medications and suppressing the symptoms. No. By changing the circumstances that triggered survival mode, whether it is eating a high sugar diet, not sleeping enough, not getting enough exercise, not getting enough joy, not dealing with stress, not eating enough nutrition, whatever it is your body symptoms are is a sign that your body is desperately trying to survive given crappy circumstances. What we need to do is change the circumstances. 

Understand that it’s not you. Your body’s not fighting you, it is desperately trying to keep you alive. We need to say, yes, survival is guaranteed. We are sleeping, we’re getting adequate food, good rest, dealing with stress, fabulous. Oh, really, great. Now you can have great sex and great hormones and get pregnant. Now you can have a good sleep. That food that we eat is actually going to help our hair grow, and our muscles develop and our skin look good. 

Take it down a notch and give yourself the love, that 15 minutes. I think that’s extremely realistic, Think about the messages that you’re sending yourself internally. Because I know when we do actions of self care, that in turn also heals those childhood wounds.

Rachel: It’s the childhood wounds. We don’t realize it but our psyche is shaped in the first seven years of life. 

Danielle: So I’m 53 years old, and I am doing the most amazing mindfulness space therapy with this woman. And we are talking about inner child work and people are like, Oh, that seems so woowoo. No, your brain was built by the experiences of the child, which makes sense because babies born have to learn about what the world is like so that it can prepare to live in that world. 

If that world was a scary, stressful place where the adults were absent or stressed out, or whether it’s because of alcoholism or their trauma or racism or poverty or whatever, even that’s the world you lived in your your child, your body’s like, okay, there’s gonna be a battle every day and I better be ready to fight it. And that’s your immune system is gonna be like this all the time. And you have to go back and go, Okay, child, what you learned wasn’t wrong. It’s just that those strategies may have helped you get to childhood, and that was very valuable. But they’re not there anymore. Thank you for helping me then. But now I need to see the world as it is now and not like that. 

Remember, we’re talking to a small child.Your seven year old comes to you and says Mom, do you have 15 minutes for me? No, sorry. Who’s gonna say that to their kid or their best friend? I just need 30 minutes your time? Nope. We would never say that to somebody we care about. So why are we saying that to ourselves? Are we sending the message that we really care about ourselves? 

So if you have trouble making time for yourself to step outside, and imagine you’re talking to somebody else. Would I make time for a seven year old who came to me wanting 15 minutes of my intention? Of course I would. Okay, so then let’s pretend this is somebody else and make those 15 minutes.

Rachel: It’s just been so awesome to have you. Can you tell everyone where to find you so they can hear you on a daily basis?

Danielle: Yes, I do a lot of outreach and teaching on TikTok, which still cracks me up to this day. 2.5 years ago I thought it was where teenagers have dance videos. Now, we are 53 year olds with dance videos about thyroid. I sometimes do ridiculous things when it comes to it, but I mainly just talk about nerdy thyroid stuff. So TikTok at thyroid.coach.danielle That’s the same on Instagram as well. I have a Facebook group called Coach Danielle’s Thyroid Solutions. And if you go to any one of those places, you will find links to the other places. 

My website is Thyroid Healing Solutions. I have a free five day thyroid healing challenge that I run four times a year. So you need to join me live or you can download the free guide and it will give you the same five days of recipes. The whole five day guide idea came from Rachel who took me down this path of five day challenges. And at this point over 10,000 people have done this challenge. I think the guides have been downloaded about 25,000 times or something in two years.

Rachel: That’s unbelievable. I love the work you do. And I’m so grateful that you are here today.

Rachel: Definitely follow this woman. If you are ever thinking about thyroid, she should be the first on your mind. So go over, listen to her. Nerd out. Listen to her, watch her dance – she’s amazing on TikTok, and definitely sign up for that challenge. Thanks so much, Danielle.

Danielle: Thank you, always fabulous to talk to you.

Michelle: Messaging is so important for your health and wellness business because you want to reach the right type of ideal client, and you want to attract them organically, especially if you’re just starting your business.

You don’t have a ton of money to toss around with Facebook ads. So it’s really great to really get that concept of, okay, I’m attracting people organically on my social media, they’re connecting with me, they’re scheduling a wellness consultation, health discovery call, and they’re reaching out. Maybe they’re opting in to your freebie. All of that is so important.

In order for that to happen. You have to know who you’re talking to and all about them. But there’s so many things that go into it. You might even find that you have more than one type of person that you’re speaking to. So you might have to have some variation in your messaging and individual posts that go out or cycle them through or do something that.

But you should definitely know, the biggest things are: What’s that big problem that they have? What are symptoms that come from that problem? And really think about them. How old are they? Where do they live? Paint the full picture of what they do on a daily basis. That’s your ideal client avatar.

Rachel: If you’re looking to Google something, go to digital marketer, it’s Ryan Deiss. And Google ideal client avatar, there’s a great download that will take you through that process. You want to know age, demographics, dislikes, TV shows and movies they watch. Really play out the scenario of each of these ideal clients.

But before we dive into ideal client avatars and messaging, let’s talk about nailing your hook. Because I see clients left and right, who are saying, I specialize in gut and I just want to work with people to get them healthier. But it’s not going to work if you just say I want to work with everyone or I just want them to feel better. We want to get really specific.

So can you walk me through an example of a hormone specialist who deals with blood sugar, weight loss, and hormone balancing.

Michelle: Yeah the first thing, let’s say, you’re a hormone coach, and you’re saying something similar, I help women get their hormones in check, and lose weight and do things in the process, but get healthier. If that phrase comes out at all, the next question that I always ask is, well, what is healthy defined by that particular person that you’re speaking to? Because health is so different for everyone.

It’s really, really personal and based on that person’s goals and their problems and what they’re dealing with and what keeps them up at night and what’s their daily struggle.What’s their big goal?

So the hook really needs to be the biggest problem that you help solve for that person that dramatically changes their health or dramatically changes their life. But be so specific with it. Is it balancing hormones? Well, what does that mean? Are you talking to somebody who’s going through menopause or perimenopause? Menopause really messes up the cycle.

The more specific that you can really get with that, that’s going to help you attract the right people into whatever you’re putting out there like your freebie or workshop. So it’s really important to have the hook relate to that big problem that you solve for the person that you ideally would dream about working with.

Another step is to really know, signs, symptoms, and also what they want to achieve. So it’s really know those symptoms because that’s how people identify, and really know what they want to achieve. What is that big problem that you’re solving that they so desire on a physical, spiritual and mental aspect as well?

It’s really important to know those symptoms and what they’re dealing with, because a lot of times, it can be very easy to just fall into general language like, “I help women get their hormones healthy.” That’s good ground to start with. But then what’s next? And how deep can you go with that?

Get so specific and talk about things that might be uncomfortable to say out loud, but really connect with your ideal client? Is she having night sweats? Is her libido low? Did she gain weight during perimenopause? You have to get really specific.

When I think of copywriting and sales, if it was a sales page, these are your individual bullet points that have to be on your messaging everywhere, so that you can connect with them. You might have more than one type of person you want to work with.

So let’s say, you specialize in three things. Maybe it’s hormones, gut, and weight loss. Really sit down and think about, is this the same person that I’m talking to every time? Are these things connected? Or do I have different audiences for each of these? Which is fine, too. So it’s just really important to know that as you present your offer.

Rachel: Well, you just brought up a great point, because when we sit there and think of different audiences, we also have to think of that ideal client. So let’s say it’s a woman who’s dealing with weight gain during perimenopause. You might have a person who’s a stay at home mom, you might have a person who’s working in an office, and you might have a person who is a high powered CEO. But remembering that in your messaging, it’s okay to narrow it down and leave out your other ideal client.

So if you’re messaging and really talking to that CEO that has high stress, really go in and talk about high stress, maybe emotional eating, stress eating, or the weight that’s caused by perimenopause. Really speak to her in those pain points that she’s struggling with so she actually identifies with you and says, I’m going to opt into this freebie today, or I’m going to watch this masterclass where I’m going to sign up for this discovery session.

And I always look at it as someone who also loves health. If I’m going to hire a natural health person, whether it’s a doctor or someone else, I really look for specifics. What can they really help me with? When I’ve had breast challenges in the past, before I looked for natural, holistic experts that specialized in breast health. I wanted to know, is this someone I can hire who knows their stuff, and can really help me with this specific problem?

It’s the same thing when you go to your general MD. They refer you out to someone who can really help you go deeper in that specific problem. So it’s the same thing. So how specific can you get in your messaging as a health coach to those people who are really looking for that expert who can really help them solve those problems?

Rachel: Well, when we’re talking about messaging as well, we’re not just even talking about social media, we’re talking about messaging on your website. Can we talk a little about that? Because you brought up something that I would love to talk about, which is key words.

Before we jump into websites, how do you find your key words? I always say, do your market research, get 5-20 people on a phone call, interview them, take that time out to hear the words that they are saying. Take the exact words and write them down on a word bank. What would you suggest in addition to that?

Michelle: From an SEO standpoint, don’t be too creative. Use words that are so common that people are typing them in Google. So if you specialize in gut health, you should have keywords on your website that are digestion. Do they have a specific issue? Is it IBS? Irritable bowel syndrome? Gas? Bloating? Probiotics.

If you talk about that often, and you think your ideal client might be searching for those words that they are using every single day, use them. Make sure they are problem specific because that’s really important, because that’s what’s going to pop up in Google when they go search and you can even do that yourself. Go to Google and start typing it in, how to heal my gut. Notice all the things that pop up and look. Notice those common keywords and put those in on the back end of your SEO on your website.

Rachel: Such an important topic. Because so often we use health coach words that our ideal client wouldn’t use. Let’s talk about messaging on our website. So somebody comes to your website, and I forget what exactly is the amount of time you have to capture their attention?

Michelle: You’re lucky if you have three seconds. It’s so fast, because we’re a population that is just busy. So aesthetically, you want it to also be visually appealing, you want it to be attractive, you want it to be easy to read and then have pictures and things like that.

With these words, you want to think about the ‘above the fold’. The header needs to be so specific. And if that’s all they read on the website page, is that enough to keep them scrolling? Is it something they get over, whatever the problem is? Is it enough for them to take action on? “Click here and download my free guide.” It just has to be specific, it can be a question. “Are you struggling with your diet?”

Rachel: Your list builder should definitely be up on the top as well. So it should really be that big hook. The headline is that question in very, very bold, like Melissa Ramos.

Michelle: What I’ve loved about her messaging is that I remember her talking about super uncomfortable topics. She talks about UTIs, she talks about bacterial vaginosis.

For me, that is some clear, specific messaging. Most people get afraid to go that deep. So that’s when you fall back to that general messaging and general language, but do you say the things that they’re really struggling with? Because that’s what’s gonna make them opt in and click and hire eventually. So it’s important to be really specific.

If you’re focusing on a woman with Hormonal Health. Is it really balancing hormones naturally? Or is it really down and dirty to the women’s hormone health issues? Is it about her sex drive? If she could fix that, would it save her marriage? Really thinking about exactly what it is that that person is struggling with?

Rachel: That really comes down to that market research. In the beginning, say you’re coming right out of school, and maybe you haven’t done that market research. But for me, I asked friends, people who I felt had similar issues, similar health problems to that of my ideal client, I asked family members, I asked as many people as I could to get clear on what was the biggest thing for their gut issue?

For me, people came to me for food allergies and food sensitivities that was something that in their gut, somebody could deal with like Belly Bloat. But I found that food allergies and food sensitivities and weight loss were my big A’s and I never thought that I would ever be a weight loss coach with gut. But I found that so many people had bad bacteria that was leading to weight gain. At least that’s how I viewed it. And that’s what also set me apart from other people. I do gut differently. I do weight loss differently. Come and work with me and get down to your weight loss issues because you’re on a diet and nothing’s even working.

Michelle: That’s so important. I remember health coaching and I was scared to. It’s easier to write for someone else, right? Even writing for myself, I remember going and doing that inner work to be able to be confident in my own messaging. It took really being comfortable looking at my problems.

So for me, my ideal client was myself in the past, and that might be very similar for a lot of health coaches, that’s why we usually get into the field, right? We want to help the people how we helped ourselves. So it took a lot of feeling comfortable and being able to just push the limit a little bit. Am I talking about bloating? Am I talking about how messed up my stomach was or how I leave a party if I felt sick? Things I never wanted to share with anyone who knew me personally.

No, it was really necessary for me to be able to have people reach out and say, Hey, I’m so glad you did that post. I connected with that, can we have a talk? That’s how you attract people. It’s really just an honest vulnerability. So when you’re doing the market research also do the inner work.

Rachel: If you’re a different topic, because I’ve seen coaches who say, I’m scared to share my story. It doesn’t mean that we share everything. We share the things that we know our ideal client is going to say that is me. I remember sending an email out to my newsletter list when I had Rachel’s Wellness, when I was coaching about gaining weight when my probiotic wasn’t working.

I talked about this realization that I had for myself that I needed to rotate my probiotics so my body didn’t get used to it. All of a sudden, I got five clients from that email. People were like, Oh, my God, this is happening to me, I’m gaining weight, these pounds are so hard to get rid of. What’s going on? Let me try this.

All of a sudden, people were like, I need to work with you. Look at all these tips that you have. And just sharing that personal story with somebody. I also shared how it made me feel because people were identifying with my story as somebody who was recovering from food addiction, stress eating and not having a very good relationship with food. I struggled with food for years and it just helped me bring my client closer to my own life.

Michelle: Yeah. It provides a nice, comfortable platform for them to share in return. No one feels comfortable walking into a room and sharing something super personal. But if someone shares it first, then it feels like others can share, it’s a natural reaction. So it’s nice to be able to get those emails back or someone hitting the contact on your website, or having someone DM you because they’ve read your story.

It’s also just nice to be honest in your messaging, too. So if you’re struggling with that, just draft it a bunch of times. You don’t even have to put it out there yet. But draft it. Sit with it. Get comfortable with it yourself. Would this be the information my ideal client needs to hear from me in order to hire?

Rachel: Yes. I did with every post, whether it was posted on my personal page where I was laying the foundation for my brand, or posted on Rachel’s wellness, my business page, or on my Facebook groups. I always tried to really share with my ideal client, the very struggles that I had with asthma, the struggles that I had with food allergies.

Also even when I would have a flare, that was an important thing. If I had a flare, I used to get Angela Diem on my eyes. So my eyes would blow up after a food reaction. I remember posting that picture and being like, if you’re in a flare, this is what I do, and helping my ideal client to understand what was normal, autoimmune reaction and what was a flare. That landed with clients too. Be vulnerable in those situations where we would be so scared to share something because it also helps our ideal client to identify with us and humanize our work.

Michelle: Your message isn’t going to be for everyone and the people that it’s not for, that’s okay. I’ve heard from health coaches who were like, Well, I want to share this, but back before they did custom audiences on Facebook and everything, you can’t even do that on Instagram. They’re afraid for people they know to see it. You’re not sharing it to help those people. They should be there to support you wanting to help the people you should.

A lot of that comes down to that inner work that you’re talking about. It’s getting over the fear of what people are going to think. Because you declare that you are going to start this business. And you can’t just start this business by doing a few posts that are not speaking to your ideal client with your own messaging, it’s almost impossible to get hired.

Rachel: So let go of that self doubt and what are people thinking of me? That only leads to procrastination. So when we’re not doing the things that we need to do in our business, or when we’re questioning that, that just leads to procrastination. Then all of a sudden, we don’t have a business at all. We feel we’re failures. And it’s a vicious circle. Instead of just saying I’m going to let go of what people think of me, I’m going to make this post, I’m going to do it. And I’m not going to question that or look back.

Michelle: What was actually very therapeutic for me, is I went to other websites, third party websites, MindBody Green, Thrive Global, and I started doing some blogging there. Because even though it was a big audience, the chances of someone that knew wasn’t going to be reading it. And it was an awesome experience to have strangers commenting, thank you, this helped me so much. It just gave me this reassurance and confidence to build me up a bit.

So even if you can do some guest posting or guest blogging somewhere, and really get comfortable with that messaging, that can really help boost confidence to write.

Rachel: Whether you’re building your signature program, or blogging or doing things within those programs or within the blog, there has to be something that brings your story into relation to what you’re teaching. It’s not having that fear to go for the work that you need to do, or not having that fear to put out your signature program and find those stories that are relative to that signature program that you are selling to your ideal client. You have to really know the why of it. I think that’s important. Knowing why you’re messaging a person, knowing the journey that you’re going to take them on, whether it’s a blog, a workshop, or your signature program.

Michelle: Yeah, that’s really important, which goes right back to, who’s your ideal client? What’s their problem? Because when you know that everything else becomes crystal clear. Your freebies, your programs, your offers – everything that you do is there to serve someone. Once you know who that someone is, all the messaging becomes so much easier.

Rachel: Do you think that we’ve missed anything during this episode?

Michelle: I don’t think so. But I would definitely say if you’re really struggling with it, have a friend or a peer record you or record yourself. If you’re struggling with your messaging, look at the places that you’re struggling. Is it in your about me page, your website, social media posts?

First compartmentalize the areas, then actually say, I’m going to sit here and focus on a social media post, or I’m going to write down my story timeline. What happened? What was life like? What brought you to your knees that said, you’re going to change into this as a business? What do you teach now? Actually write it down and figure out the stories that you need to extract to infuse into your messaging and then actually record it. Record some of the verbiage that’s going to be on your website. It will take you out of that fear of struggle, because when we just let go and record it into our phone, it’s so much easier.

Rachel: Yeah, I can’t count how many times I’ve done that. I play it back too. Then you hear it and it just helps. It’s definitely a great way to express myself.

Remember, you have your messaging. You want to know what you do, who you do it for, what problems you solve, get very specific in that. You want to also make sure that your messaging is specific. You can have more than one ideal client avatar, just make sure that ideal client avatar works.

Lastly, really believe in your story. Believe in the story that you went through. And if you didn’t go through a health issue, you still need to get down and dirty doing the same work and figuring out what are the problems and what is your ideal client’s desire? Don’t be scared to get specific. In this, specifics is where you’re going to make the magic and that’s when your ideal client is definitely going to opt in, sign up or hire you.

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