Holistic Health Bites podcast by Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nicholson featuring Dr Christina Bjorndal discussing mental and metabolic health

Episode summary:

Dr. Christina Bjorndal shares her journey into naturopathic medicine after a suicide attempt left her hospitalized, revealing how conventional medications failed to fully treat her mental health issues.  She emphasizes treating patients holistically by addressing their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, not just symptoms, explaining the four pillars' interconnected roles in health.

Simple changes like reducing sugar, coffee and carbonation intake make a difference by supporting the body's natural functions, while eating nutrient-dense whole foods better nourishes the physical, mental and gut microbiome.  Mindfulness practices like recognizing unhelpful thoughts, relaxing into stillness and rephrasing narratives cultivate presence and self-compassion, countering inner critics and core wounds driving self-sabotage.

To connect with Dr Bjorndal:

Full (unedited) transcript:

Podcast recording with Dr Christina Bjorndal - March 04

@0:00 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Welcome back to the Holistic Health Bites podcast today, we're going to have a fun conversation and a really informative conversation around how to handle mental health and how that relates to metabolic health.
I am joined by an esteemed expert, Dr.
@0:13 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Bjorndall, and welcome. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
@0:17 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Great to be here. Can you just take a few minutes to introduce yourself and tell everybody kind of how you got into what you do now?
@0:23 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Sure. So my name is Christina Bjorndall, a naturopathic doctor practicing in Edmonton. I'm also an author and a speaker, and I haven't always been those things.
So I started my journey into the natural world after I actually had a suicide attempt, which left me in a coma with kidney failure.
And at that point in my life, I was navigating my mental health using five psychotropic medications and just wasn't actually getting better on those.
So after that, would I, you know, sort of time, which I refer to as a spiritual crisis. I realized I need to figure out another way to navigate my health and so I've turned to naturopathic medicine for that and eventually made a career change.
So that is the story in a nutshell.
@1:13 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Oh that's such a powerful story and you know like so many of us we come into this because of our own journeys and you know that journey always looks a little bit different but that's ultimately what brings us to where we are.
It's either our own personal journey or someone in our personal lives usually that dictates this so it's not terribly surprising to hear that that's also how you got into this was from your own journey.
So can you tell us a little bit more about you know how you're managing things now and even what you recommend to the patients that you work with that's different than maybe the conventional model that you had been under that you found wasn't really helping you.
@1:46 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
What is it that you focus on now? So my book is called Beyond the Label 10 steps to improve your mental health with naturopathic medicine.
And so I explain to people that there's four aspects to you as a person physical mental, emotional, spiritual. Our Western system and a lot of functional people in the functional medicine space as well are really just focused on that physical level.
So what I do differently is, sure, I focus on that, but I also have training in six types of psychotherapeutic counseling techniques.
So I'm working on the mental, the emotional, and the spiritual aspects as well. So when it started for me in terms of my journey, it started by seeing an orthomolecularly trained psychiatrist.
So a nutritionally oriented psychiatrist is for people who don't know what orthomolecular means. It just means the right molecule to support your individual health needs.
And so I started with that. But what I wasn't telling people, practitioners, was that I also had an eating disorder.
So you can supplement yourself and you can make that choice over a pharmaceutical and you will hopefully, likely, if you're taking the right nutraceutical support and botanical support, get better.
However, if you don't look at the underlying eating issues that a person has then that may only be a band-aid on that side as well and that was the case for me.
So eventually I had to address my eating issues, I had to recognize that you know taking niacin and 5-HTP was not actually much different than that pharmaceutical still on the physical level once more natural obviously but it wasn't really the root cause and that's what I endeavor to do is figure out well what's the root of this person's issue, recognizing that there's more than one root.
@3:36 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah for sure and I think that's a powerful message because this applies to not just mental health disorders although directly of course mental and emotional things directly apply to our mental health but it applies to all kind of disease, all healthy living, all the things.
We have to take all four of those pillars into account in order to live a truly healthy life regardless of what your current condition is that you're trying to work on.
on. So I think that's really powerful. And I agree with you that so much in the functional medicine space has just used supplements instead of medications.
And really that's still not getting to the problem. I mean, in a temporary state, it can help fix and imbalance can help kind of bring the body back into balance.
But ultimately, yeah, you want to get to the point where your body is doing what it's supposed to do.
And you don't need those supports.
@4:23 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, exactly.
@4:25 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
what are maybe let's just go through each one of the pillars and let's talk about a couple of things that maybe people do wrong in each arena.
And then some things that maybe they can do, you know, low hanging fruit kind of stuff that they can really prioritize.
@4:37 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, sure. So with that physical level, first, we want to understand there's three macro systems kind of running the show.
So you've got your neurotransmitters, you've got your neuroendocrine or hormonal systems, and then you have your immune system and your organs and detoxification.
So those are the three sort of big players in the field that is your body, when you're working within your body, if you will.
So that's sort of the first job as a health detected. You got to figure out which of these macro system or systems do you need to be supporting?
my case, it was all three. So then the 10 steps I talk about the first one is no surprise.
It's going to be nutrition, right? And then with a little bit of supplements, then you might be on a little bit of medication.
So with supplements, I'll just mention it that there's three things that people are doing wrong. When it comes to supplementation, they're taking the wrong form of a nutrient, they're taking the wrong dose, or they're taking one with non-medicinal ingredients that aren't beneficial.
So those are the things that you want to be looking into and making sure you're correcting if those are not correct within you.
And the three rules of prescribing, whether it's nutraceutical, botanical, it's same as in real estate, which is so in real estate, it's location, location, in dosing is, I just gave it away, dose, dose, dose.
That's the most important thing is the dose. So we start with nutrition. So it's like we're going to build a health house.
the foundational for building blocks, nutrition, sleep, exercise, managing stress, the second level of your health house relates to the stress management piece.
your thoughts, your emotions, how you behave and react in the world and your ability or inability to set boundaries.
Third level of your health house, we're building a beautiful mansion here, is the environment from three perspectives. Quality of the air, food and water, understand there's chemicals disrupting all of us.
This is really important. If you start taking a pharmaceutical, for example, and by all measures, it should feel better if it's the right neurotransmitter.
So if you don't feel better, you've got to ask yourself a few questions, maybe it's the wrong neurotransmitter, maybe it's dopamine, I'm supporting serotonin.
Maybe there's something from the environment blocking the receptor and it can't get in, so it's not a deficiency problem at all, it's a blockage problem.
Or maybe it's the wrong macro system, maybe it's my hormones actually. So that's It's important to really consider it.
Second idea under the environment, there's three pieces of that puzzle, is epigenetics versus genetics. genes load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger.
Super important. In my case, with my mental health labels that I've had, which is vast and long, I would ask the doctor, well, why, why, why?
Great, common question to ask, why is this happening to me? And he said, well, it's genetic. And I'm adopted.
So I'm like, well, how do you know that? Can't look to my left or my right to verify the truth of that statement.
So I didn't adopt that as the truth. So it's very powerful. So remember that just because you might have this long history in your family of condition A, B, or C, doesn't necessarily mean it's gonna manifest in you.
There is something also sort of on the flip side of that though, if we're gonna play devil's advocate, there is something called intergenerational trauma.
But the same thing, I love the title of this book. by Mark Wallen, which is it didn't start with you.
So even though you might be bringing something in intergenerationally, you can stop that. So third area under the environment is neuroplasticity, which is very important to understand not only from the brain perspective, but body perspective.
You're not the same person from day to day. You give yourself some new substrates to work with. You can build a new you, essentially.
I feel better at 57 than I felt at 17. Right? The concept of aging we have in our society is not healthy.
We need to rewire that and age well so other people look forward to it. So that's the environment. Next area is compassion, area of spirituality.
That's your health house that you're living in. We're going to plant that on a property that's rooted and grounded in love because at the end of the day, it all comes down to that.
Do you love yourself enough to take this steps that I'm going to ask you to take. So that's really important because I can tell you, when I woke up out of that coma, you think I was happy just to be here on the planet?
Not at all. In fact, I think I was more depressed than prior to the attempt. So I was not loving myself, and people who are struggling with being here on the planet with us, they are rubbing themselves either.
So this is really important. How much do you love yourself on a scale of one to ten, attending the best?
Super rare for me to get an answer over five when I'm asking that. So take a second to answer that for yourself.
And a similar question along that same vein is the compassion piece. How compassionate are you with yourself? Now I can tell you, me, I had an inner critic running the show, right?
And while that served me to be. this overachiever type A success type person underneath it all was this mask of insufficiency of not good enoughness that was really driving me to overachieve and then that led to burnout.
That's the steps, that's the journey and it's doable, it's possible, you can heal, you can feel better right as you age like there's so many myths we can bust here.
@10:33 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah, I love it and I think that it's 100% true. I am the same way I feel much better at my present age than I ever did before because I'm focusing on all the right things now.
Instead of just sort of letting life happen or letting circumstances dictate how I feel about things, know, I empower myself to take control over the choices that I make and the way that I live my life and all of these things.
I think it's not an easy journey by any means. There's a lot of work that goes into it, but...
@11:00 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
it's so worth it when you get to the other side and you just feel amazing every day.
@11:05 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
So there's obviously a lot to that whole building the house appropriately and finding the right foundation to put it on.
So what do you usually start with? How do you unravel this for people who want to employ something like this to figure out, is it a neurotransmitter?
it a hormone? Is it a toxin? What's the underlying problem? How do you approach getting started with someone?
@11:27 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, so I always start with the first piece of that, the first building block, which is nutrition, right? And then connection with yourself, your relationship to food, and there's just so much that someone can do just with that nutritional piece alone, and that's where I started for many years until I settled.
So, you know, and there lies the unraveling of looking at everything else, right? So starting with that, and because we're really off track with nutrition in our society, like,
really off track. like Michael Pollan. He wrote a book called In Defense of Food, right? Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.
I'm not here to necessarily advocate for any particular, I just think we've made it super confusing as well as in the health space about people are just really confused about what to eat.
And so for me, it's pretty, I'm pretty simple. I'm pretty basic person and you can get fancy for sure, but if you just do the simple basic things, then I think, you know, you can, and it's starting even just as simple as your coffee water intake.
Most people ought to balance there. Let me get sugar, right? This is metabolic health, so sugar is a huge disruptor.
It's also a super addictive substance and I've mentioned I've had an eating disorder, so sugar was my drug of choice, right?
So, you know, navigating that as best as you can, that's where I often start, but then I'm also always figuring out, you know, of those three, the reality is for a lot of people.
The first question is, you know, when do things begin? So that gives you an insight into the hormonal piece of the puzzle.
So if something begins in your teenage years, then that is the hormones are rapidly changing in your teenage years.
So that's what we have to really focus on. And then with women, you know, how is that correlating with your cycle?
you know, is there mood shifts in the luteal phase? so that gives you insight into that macro system. But the reality is that it's often all three with people.
You know, especially with mental health.
@13:35 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah, and that because there's so many things that feed into it. You know, the brain isn't just this own little thing.
It controls everything. It's impacted by everything. Really our whole body is. There is no one simple fix for any health challenge because we're so interconnected.
We're a complex ecosystem. so, yeah, I think most health conditions probably on some level do involve all of those things.
Obviously, some are driving the show.
@14:00 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
more than others, but they're all involved.
@14:03 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
I mean, spiritual stuff can manifest as diabetes, can manifest as, you know, cancer, can show up in lots of different ways.
And so I do think those are the appropriate things to pay attention to regardless of what your health challenge is.
@14:15 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, two things I was going to say about that. So I recently spoke at a cancer conference on the spiritual aspect of cancer, right?
So that is really important. And the other piece I forgot to mention, which is really crucial, is the year before I developed the eating disorder, which is when I was about grade nine, I took antibiotics for several months to address acne, which, as we know, as a suppressive therapy, didn't really address anything.
Well, you know, at the time, it up, but then you go off of it, your problem comes back, you haven't solved anything, right?
And we weren't talking about the gut microbiome back in the 1980s. So, So there really want people to know this and as you know, there's this huge relationship between the gut and the brain bi-directional and it's really, you know, I sort of feel like goodness me, what is leading the show here?
actually think it's, you know, we talk about it's the brain leading the way, it's really the gut leading the way.
So for people, and I'm not saying, you know, be clear here, I'm not saying never to take an antibiotic.
I guess I am saying, don't take an antibiotic if you've got acne, that's not the indication for it, right?
That is not the indication for taking an antibiotic if you've got a bacterial infection that's going to take your life out.
Take the antibiotic then, right? But don't take it for what it's not intended for, right? Anyway, and if you do do it, now you've disrupted the gut microflora and that's fine, you can fix all that.
But if you don't fix it, then we're going to be running into probably some health issues.
@15:53 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah, and that's where the gut is so powerful because it's changing all of those levers. Your bacteria are directly responsible for what nutrients you absorb, what directly responsible for getting rid of waste products, directly responsible for neurotransmitter production and elimination and usage and self signaling and just all the things.
That's really what's driving all of those different pillars.
@16:18 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
So, yeah, we definitely have to pay attention to that. Yeah, stay peace.
@16:23 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
So, I know you don't necessarily subscribe to any one particular diet plan, which I think is great because we all have different preferences and needs and, you know, purposes in our lives.
what are some nutritional strategies that you have found either foods that really make a negative impact on, you know, this overall mental and physical health standpoint and also some foods that really do drive the needles for better, you know, to make things better.
@16:49 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, actually, you know what, I do subscribe to buy a nutritional plan and it's my, the essential diet that I wrote.
So just a little nutrition book. that gives you two weeks eating plan is I call it the essential diet why because there are essential nutrients you need that you can't get and you cannot make right we upgrade the iPhone every year but we don't upgrade the human being and if we did upgrade the human being there's a few things we would upgrade we would upgrade your ability to make trip to bed right your ability to make phenylalanine ability to make vitamin C right there's things that we would upgrade but anyway so that's what I subscribed you but to answer your question I'm like my philosophy because I've had an eating disorder my philosophy has always been to increase the good within and that out you know over time the intention hopefully would be that it's going to out compete some of the bad when I went to see a naturother doctor the first time I had to cut out wheat dairy sugar eggs chocolate tomatoes I think those are the six things and I'm like what's left to eat right I didn't know what quinoa was I didn't know how to say it spell it cook it I do nothing right like nothing so being a pig
I understand what it's like when you come in and the doctor says cut out we you know all those things It's like whoa right if you're used to eating all that, but really I Like JJ virgin you know She has seven foods that you can eliminate for seven days is more from a weight loss perspective But the thing is if a person has these beliefs We do have to get to that and the emotional side too, right?
But basically increasing the tryptophan forming foods so that's protein tryptophan's an essential amino acid But you cannot make it so I was a vegetarian and I was a horrible vegetarian There weren't even any vegetables in my diet like I was a carbitarian and a total addict with sugar.
Okay, that was me Pretending I was a healthy vegetarian My friends would be like what vegetables are you eating?
know, like what are those? So I've come a long way in the nutrition world believe me But yeah, so eating making sure so I'm not anti protein, but if you are
a vegan or a vegetarian. That's fine. You can do that then but make sure you're eating those essential. You got to get them somehow and you can do it vegetarian from a vegetarian perspective, but you got to make sure you're doing it.
wasn't. And then to eliminate, I think the biggest evil is our fen sugar. think it's the biggest evil and it's more addictive than It cranks up that dopamine center in you.
It's leading to all the metabolic dysfunction. You're getting on the chain to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. There is no sweet reward in sugar.
then the whole fluid thing as I mentioned to you, you're 70% water. You're not 70% Coca-Cola or Pepsi. You're not 70% coffee.
So just that alone. Getting those things out pot, diet pot, carbonated, carbonated vegetables.
@20:01 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Are we going to start a new thing? Carbonated vegetables. Carbonated, great.
@20:07 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Carbonated, know, lot of people have soda streams and stuff. Carbonation, that's not how nature intended your water to be.
And that leads to long term use of carbonated water leads to osteoporosis. So anyway, I'm going off target little bit, but there's so much you can do with just one, like pick one little thing, you know, one thing and dial that in, then get to the next one, right?
@20:31 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah, I'm a big fan of just eat real food.
@20:34 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
@20:34 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Get rid of stuff that doesn't exist in nature as much as you possibly can. Of course, we're all going to have those moments when you you just have to eat something convenient because it is what it is.
But the less often you can let that stuff happen and the more often you can eat real food, whatever that looks like for you, yeah, the better.
And so I think that's great advice.
@20:54 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, circle. Or yeah, don't go up and down. I started off, don't go up and down those I started up, I did mention Michael Paul and I and I meant to mention the quote that he came up that he that I heard him say, which is we've given up two hours a day in the last 30 years or more.
We've given those two hours up to technology and we've lost eating, cooking and exercise.
@21:20 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
@21:21 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
And it's true.
@21:22 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
@21:23 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
So back to basics, like you're saying, back to basics, whole food, real food, grow it yourself if you can and then and then adjust your fluids and see where you are.
@21:36 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah. I see people so often that they try to make it this big, fancy, complicated, you know, extensive thing that they're obsessed with, frankly, which you're just trading a food addiction or a, you know, whatever your current lifestyle situation is for this new obsessive, healthy, complicated, tracking everything, counting everything.
and weighing everything, packing all your foods and snacks and all the things in these complicated recipes and meal plans and all the things in it.
Of course, that only lasts like a week. then you're like, I'm exhausted. I don't know who has time for this.
Well, yeah, don't make it so complicated. Exactly. Simple. If you're an omnivore, eat meat and vegetables. Simple. You don't need a recipe for that.
It just couldn't. Meat and vegetables. Same thing with eggs. You could make an omelet. You don't need a recipe for this.
Like, we really just need to get back to the basics. Do the foundational things. fancy stuff is great. You can do all these fancy lab tests.
You can do all these fancy supplements, all the things. That's great. But none of that will work if you haven't done the basics.
@22:38 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
That's right.
@22:39 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
You gotta do the basics.
@22:40 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah. Yeah. And it does. It comes back back to those foundational building blocks. And you want to make it sustainable and doable for yourself.
And that's where that keeping it simple is so important. You can batch book. You can just a little bit, you know, cook up a bunch of chicken breasts and then
You know, you've got them and then whatever, you know, I'm pretty, I'm very, keep it very simple. I mean, the other piece when you're ready to sort of dial it up a notch is to look at this organic piece of the puzzle.
So I know that for myself, when I looked at the, because I mentioned the chemicals from the environment, they play a big role.
There was a study done on umbilical cord blood. They looked at the level of chemicals across 10 umbilical cords, and there was over 270 contaminants found.
So our children are being born with their cuts full already. And then, you know, you enter the world and perhaps you came out via C-section.
So now you've missed that first inoculation of good bacteria that we were talking about a few minutes ago, that starts, that gets seeded your gut microbiome when you travel down the vaginal canal.
So there's a lot of people on the planet now that miss that step. more important to dial that in for yourselves.
then the food that you eat, right, fermented foods are are going to help your gut. So there's so much that we can do that is simple, but yet really impactful.
@24:09 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah, I think that's great advice. And just we just really have to get back to the basics, get back to the simple things, get back to focusing on what we've done throughout all of human history.
Eating real food, sleeping when it's dark, drinking water, fermenting stuff is great. That's what we used to do before.
We had refrigerators. That's how food lasted longer.
@24:31 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
mean, these are all the, like, and that's really appropriate things. Yeah, canning, right? absolutely more.
@24:39 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
We do in our home, but most of the people don't.
@24:42 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah. to preserve, right? have to preserve your food, because in the north, as I do, winter is coming. So you got to preserve the harvest to get you through when there's no food to be found, right?
Yeah. Because you're layered in 10 inches of snow.
@24:57 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Right. So what are some things that people can do more on the emotional and spiritual side of things that are maybe not food directly related, but that are just, you know, daily habits or things that they can start implementing?
@25:11 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, so this is this is an important piece. So for myself, I was taught this by my naturopathic doctor.
So the first step is you really want to be mindful of the niche of the thoughts that you're thinking.
Because if there is an inner critic running the show, then those thoughts are going to move you more into a sympathetic or stressed state.
So you want to understand that the nervous system is the queen system in the body. It's the top system running the show, and there's two branches, and parasympathetic.
So think stressed or and as I mentioned, love is the thing that we're always wanting to be. Mindful level how are we relating to ourselves so this is important also when it comes to nutrition because nutrition and when you're eating and your food and digesting your food that only happens in a parasympathetic state.
So if you're chomp chomp swallow on the run driving through the drive through shoveling things down your throat and you don't aware that you ate the hamburger and now you're reaching for another one.
You're in a sympathetic state and you're not going to be getting full benefit from your food number one and number two that just leads to lots of digestive concerns, gas, loading, constipation, or loose stool, pain, heartburn, all of that stuff.
So that is really, really important that you understand that your thoughts create neuropeptides, neuropeptides affect the hormones that get produced and the hormones that get produced affect how you feel.
That is called psycho-neuroimmunology. basically a big fancy word to say, your thoughts affect your physiology. So for me, it starts by teaching this approach, which I will refer to as the Rs, so basically the first one is recognizing the nature of your thoughts.
Are they serving you or sabotaging you? Then you want to refrain from following those thoughts around and around and around if you recognize that they're sabotaging and you refrain by relaxing into the body.
We just do two deep breaths. Usually I ask patients to just pause and then take two deep breaths connecting with themselves and understand that we want to get in the gap between one thought, leading to an emotion, leading to the next thought, leading to the next emotion, to the next spiral that you can get stuck in.
And I will tell you that every suicide attempt I've had, when there's been three, started with a thought, started with a thought, right?
mean, didn't start with a thought, maybe it started with with the poor nutrition and not having the neurotransmit, all that kind of stuff, but I guarantee you that there was a thought involved, okay?
And I followed every single thought down, and I didn't know how to interrupt it. So, my doctor, my naturopath, he taught me that I am not the cloud of depression that I'm currently in.
Up until that point, I felt like I was the cloud. I'm like, just walking Eor, right? I'm just one with the cloud.
And he taught me that Chris, no, man, you're the sky. And that's the sky. Actually, the sun is still shining.
And you can hold all kinds of weather, i.e. all kinds of motions. You can hold them all. You're the container for that.
You're the home for that. But your thoughts, actually, you got to learn to get a little discerning about those.
And so, that's sort of this R approach. So, recognize, refrain, and then the fourth step is repeat. The first three steps.
over and over. This step, I added as this recovery of overachiever that I am, is constant cognitive behavioral therapy, which is to take the thought you recognized and to then rephrase it.
Now, for me, that was very difficult and I was very resistant to this idea for, I'd probably struggle 20 years longer than I needed to because of that.
was resistant to affirmations because if you had said to me, oh, hey, Chris, change your thoughts, change your life, I would have rolled my eyes at you because I felt like you were implying that I was intentionally causing my issues on purpose and I didn't feel that I was.
But no one had taught me that there's another voice that lies within me other than this critic. There's actually a soul that's whispering to me and some of my depressions I really feel like this is an out there view that I have that I felt stuck between two masters, if you will, used to listening to the inner critic, that's like, that's.
telling me, you know, you're not good enough to got to keep trying harder and telling me that I got to keep pursuing success on the material level.
And there's other voice inside of me that's like, you know, Chris, why don't you just listen to us over here?
Come this way. I didn't know who to listen to. So I just kind of get stuck. And then I cave in and I fell into many depressive episodes.
Right. So Dr. Hughes taught me to listen to this to finally not silence, but you know, just allow, I mean, is a fantasy way to say meditation, I guess, right?
It's just, it would just to let the thoughts go by. know what? don't need to cling and attach and fuel and feed.
And I can lean into stillness, into the gap, and then embrace what that has to offer. And that is relaxation, parasympathetic calmness, right?
Peace. So that's, this is just, it's so important, so important. Because we have this subconscious mind that's really, finding 90% of the show here.
And it's when you bring the subconscious conscious into the conscious, then you can do something with it. When it's hiding in the recesses and in the shadows, and this is where self-sabotage comes in, super important.
People with nutrition, you probably see, I see lots of people who wanna adjust their weight, right? Have to address the self-sabotage piece of the puzzle.
Because, and that's at play, whenever you ask someone to do something, and they don't do it. So they come to you, wanna lose weight.
you say, eat whole foods, they come back, and then you ask, did you eat whole foods? And they're like, no, okay.
So there's something going on here that we need to investigate what's at play here in the subconscious mind. Not from a place that judgment blame, criticism, not at all.
like, hey, let's try to figure this out. What's going on? You know? So it's, I'll give you a concrete example.
how that might look. So in my life, I worked in a corporate world. reported to a CEO. Meanwhile, you know, I'm wearing this mask.
Oh, I've got it all together, but I, you know, had two suicide attempts in that timeframe. So clearly didn't have it all together, was suffering a lot, but not feeling like I could say anything about it.
And I wanted to leave my job, but I never would leave my job. My friends would be like, come on, after a decade, they're like, come on, I'm sick and tired hearing about you.
What's your problem, right? And my problem was that you're always going to do what you feel more safe doing, whatever is going to keep you safe, safer.
So even though that current job was sucking the life out of me, it felt safer to me to stay there than to risk rejection looking for another job because my core wound being adopted is rejection and abandonment.
So I'm going to stay over here because there's no risk for me, even though it's sucking the life out of me, you know.
I'm never going to put myself up for refusal because that's my wound. That's my core wound. So until I learned about that, I wasn't able to leave my job.
And when I did leave my job, I had to go back to high school to become a naturopathic doctor.
I went back to high school at the age of 33. It was not an easy road for me to walk to become this into this profession.
But I also realized that I can't keep walking down that road the way I'm walking because I don't know if I'm going to be alive, you know?
Anyway, wow, where did we ask? question did you ask?
@33:34 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
No, I think that's all amazing. And I think, you know, I've heard similar stories or similar explanations that I mean, literally our thoughts do become our lives.
The trick is identifying that thought because it seems so just like automatic. It just is what it is. This is my state.
It feels like like for you, the abandonment or the that. fear of rejection kind of thing, which I think is a pretty common one.
@34:03 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
think a lot of us have that one.
@34:05 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
But identifying what that is, because then you can take action on it. You can be intentional and direct your brain to think something different.
And it's much easier to get to that rephrasing once you identify it. But if you haven't identified it, then you can't rephrase it.
And so that's the real work to do is identify what is that sentence in your brain that keeps replaying that's taking you down the wrong path that feels so automatic that you don't have control over it.
But you do. You just have to learn that little trick. you identify the thought, then you can rephrase it.
@34:38 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
I think that's a powerful story. Exactly. Exactly.
@34:41 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
I think so much of our lives, we live in that place of just automatic living and the subconscious is really driving the ship.
But that's what makes us human is we can direct our brains to think something different. We have to train it, but we can be much more in the conscious brain and
less so in the subconscious brain. Let the subconscious brain like tell your heart to be, and tell your lungs to breathe, and do all the things that you need to do to survive, and direct everything else that actually leads your life to the conscious brain.
But it takes work.
@35:14 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
It does. Yes, and it does. But it's doable.
@35:20 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
It is.
@35:20 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
And it's not hard. You know, a simple exercise I can give you is, so one of my teachers that I've studied with many, many people in the mental emotional spiritual realm, one of them is Eckhart Tolle, who is the guy that's, you know, about the power of now.
And I did a retreat with him, and one of the exercises he gave us was to just pay attention to something that you do every single day, like, you know, having a cup of tea, or taking the elevator, driving to work, whatever it is, because there's so much repetitiveness to our day.
So I chose the shower thinking, and if you'd asked me going into the shower, if I thought I was thinking anything when I was in the shower, I would have
People do know I don't actually think I'm thinking anything. Well, when I got in the shower actually, there was like an entire committee set up in there criticizing my body, right?
But I had zero awareness of that going in. But when I'm in there, and I was just, and I was like, it was shocking, shocking.
So that's the narrative, the dialogue of your subconscious mind. It's this hum that's running in the background constantly. When you tune into it, then you can, and then you can redirect it, right?
Is what you're talking about. And it's so important because, but so much of our day, we're not even aware that we're having this dialogue going on.
And so we want to bring that into the forefront. And then you can work with those pieces. And often, there's something, some woundedness that has happened in people's lives, whether it's trauma from, it could be the same to as much.
It could be anything,  abuse, emotional abuse, abuse. It doesn't have to be a big T trauma, though, can be a little T trauma, know.
I was, I'll use the word bullied in grade three. They set up this, I hate Christina Club, you know, that was hurtful to me.
Again, I'm somebody who's looking for belonging and connection, thinking that I'm someone who's not wanted and then they set this up.
So that was, that was a little T trauma for me, big T, I don't know, whatever, doesn't really matter whether it's big or little.
The point is, and this is what my other teacher says, Gabour Maté. says, trauma is not what happened to you.
It's the beliefs you've made as a result of the experience. That's trauma. So how is, what beliefs did you make to survive that situation, right?
And now you want to not make yourself wrong about that. It's about understanding you did that to survive. You formed those beliefs to survive.
But now, as a 40-year-old woman, or however... You are, though that strategy isn't needed anymore. So what were the beliefs?
And now what's a new belief we can use instead? Yeah, I will serve you.
@38:11 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Yeah? I think that's such a powerful exercise to go through. And I think if everyone could just learn that tactic to really examine those thoughts and figure out what those really are, we could seriously change the world.
Like if we could just stop living in this automatic, inner critic state. I can change the world. I think that's really powerful.
So I can talk to you all day. This stuff is fascinating. I love talking about the brain and how we can direct it to more useful things.
But if people are interested in learning more about you, what, how can they do that? What does that look like?
@38:49 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yeah, well, the usual suspects, right? Social media, and then my websites and I guess those would be the main places.
I have a a program that I've created for patients, which is lovely. I have a traditions training program as well.
It's the books and those are and then I'm offering a retreat to in the fall in Kanmore and then in March or in the spring of 2025 in Peru, which I'm pretty excited about.
Two, so there's lots of ways to connect and you know work together if we if that so resonates.
@39:26 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
I love it and will you just say your website for everyone and we'll of course link it up in the show notes as well and then people can reach out.
@39:33 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Yes, my last name is a bit of a doozy, but so it's dr Christina Bjorndal.com.
@39:38 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Perfect. We will get that link up so you can just click on the link in the show and I will not have to rebot trying to spell it right.
@39:44 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
Exactly. I love it. I of you for saying it. My name properly, you got it right off the bat.
@39:49 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
I'm the fan. I've known a few Bjorndals in my day, so that was not a new name to me, thankfully, because I can imagine it gets butchered a lot.
Yeah. Okay. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing all of your amazing information. know this has been a powerful lesson, and I think people need to probably listen a few times and then definitely stock you in all the places and hear all the amazing things that you always share with people.
@40:11 - Dr. Chris Bjorndal
So thank you so much for sharing today. Thanks so much.
@40:14 - Andrea Nicholson (healthylifewithandrea.com)
Absolutely. To everyone out there, be blessed and have a great day. We'll see you on future episodes.

Dr. Bjorndal unravels cases by considering neurotransmitters, hormones and the immune-gut axis, gleaning insights from symptoms' origins to pinpoint each person's unique macro-system imbalances.  Our subconscious dialogues shape our lives, but conscious awareness allows redirecting thoughts to healthier beliefs, as she demonstrated overcoming rejection fears to transform her career path.


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