On this episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Brenda Walding on the show to discuss Whole-Hearted Living. Dr. Brenda Walding is a Women’s Holistic Wellness Expert & Coach, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and HeartMath certified coach. Brenda specializes in supporting women health/wellness professionals in overcoming burnout and health challenges in order to truly thrive and give their gifts to the world.
In this episode, we discuss:
-Brenda’s incredible story of illness and recovery
-The 9 Essentials to Whole-Hearted Healing
-The importance of the biopsychosocial model in healthcare
-And so much more!
Brenda Walding Website and a Free Gift: Dr. Walding is offering a complimentary 45-minute consult for any woman dealing with burnout or health challenges that has a deep desire to THRIVE. Schedule your consult and see how she may be able to support you in creating a life you love.
The Outcomes Summit: Use the discount code LITZY
For more information on Brenda:
Dr. Brenda Walding is a Women’s Holistic Wellness Expert & Coach, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and HeartMath certified coach. Brenda specializes in supporting women health/wellness professionals in overcoming burnout and health challenges in order to truly thrive and give their gifts to the world.
She currently resides outside of Austin, Texas on the beautiful Lake Travis with her husband and dog. Brenda loves spending time in nature, connecting with her family and friends, dancing, facilitating women’s circles, and learning about holistic wellness.
Read the full transcript below:
Karen Litzy: 00:01 Hey Brenda, welcome to the podcast. I’m happy to have you on.
Brenda Walding: 00:06 Oh, thank you so much for having me, Karen. I’m excited to be here today.
Karen Litzy: 00:11 And like I said in the intro you are a recently published author of the book sick of being sick, the women’s holistic guide to conquering chronic illness. So without giving away the entire book, can you give the listeners a little bit more about your background and your story of illness and where you are and how that led you to where you are today?
Brenda Walding: 00:36 Yeah, sure. I’d love to. You know, it’s really, I’ll give you do my best to give you the cliff notes. It’s spans the time period of over a decade. So really I grew up seemingly really healthy and vibrant. I was a collegiate athlete. I played soccer at TCU in Fort Worth. And then I went on to physical therapy school to get my doctorate in physical therapy. And then after that moved to Austin, Texas with my now husband. And during that time we passed our licensure exam, got new jobs, moved to a new city, got engaged, got married, and then after this whirlwind of all these major life events, my health started to rapidly decline. And you know, I was in a busy physical therapy practice and seeing a lot of patients, and you know, all of a sudden I’m just getting weaker and more tired and getting sick more frequently.
Brenda Walding: 01:35 And then it got to where I could hardly even get up and down the stairs. I was experiencing chronic fatigue and experiencing, I broke out into these rashes that literally covered my entire body for two and a half years. No one could really figure out what was going on and I just kept getting more and more sick and I was seeing specialists all over trying to figure out what was wrong with me at this time I didn’t really know much about natural health nutrition, holistic wellness. I was just kind of in the conventional medical model, taking the steroids and the pills and you know, my blood work had come back pretty normal, so they couldn’t really figure out what was wrong. But literally I had oozy itchy rashes, like covering my entire body where I had to pack my body full of ice in the evening to fall asleep and eventually developed in a systemic infection that led me to going on disability from my job as a physical therapist.
Brenda Walding: 02:40 And granted, this is, you know, I am in my late twenties, not even 30 yet, so very young. And you know, I got to the point where I thought like doctors kept giving me antibiotics and they were worried that the infection would get into my bloodstream and I thought I was dying. I was really, really at that point of like, okay, I think this is it. And by the grace of God, I had, I took four rounds of antibiotics and a month and a half, kept being sectioned, kept coming back, had pus all in my mouth and throat, couldn’t swallow, couldn’t hardly eat. So this was a pretty intense experience. And I found this article I was looking, researching and found this article called natural solutions to drug resistant infections. And it caught my eye and I thought maybe I have a drug resistant infection. And it talked about wild Mediterranean, Oregano oil and how it was, you know, healing people with malaria and different, you know, chronic.
Brenda Walding: 03:45 Very, very severe illnesses. So I thought I would try it. It’s like $20 and I know bought it online and in, within a few days the infection went away. And for the first time in years I got some relief from the pain and itching on my skin. And so that really was the portal to opening me up to natural healing. And I thought, what is it? What do I not know? What else do I not know, you know, about this? And so that really became this entry point into studying natural healing and nutrition. And I started seeing more alternative and holistic type practitioners. And that over time started to gradually heal. I started to get some answers. I was full of toxins. Had lots of infections and a poor ability to really clear toxins from my system. So I started to get more answers, started to change my diet, slow down my life a little bit, you know, as that type a over achieving, you know, hardcore athlete and academic.
Brenda Walding: 04:54 And I realized that also was part of the puzzle here ever learning to slow down and then, you know, so for eight years I really focused on healing my body. Like it was a full time job. I was able to go back to physical therapy after a while and start working again. But it really opened up my passion into natural healing and started a nutrition lifestyle company with my husband and helping people heal their bodies through nutrition and lifestyle changes. And you know, it was a slow and gradual process and I started, you know, getting better gradually and then almost to the point where I felt okay, I think I’m almost ready to, you know, start a family. I had a few lingering symptoms but I was like, you know, I’m doing pretty well. Got my strength back. This is eight years later. And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Brenda Walding: 05:51 And so this was a few years ago. So this was like, what am I missing? What am I not getting? Cause I was really, you know, dialed in my diet lifestyle. I started meditating. I was really, you know, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on healers and treatments, natural remedies. You couldn’t find somebody more committed to their healing. And it was like a full time job. And I wasn’t really living, I was just trying to get better and feel better. And then the cancer diagnosis came and so I had to step back and go, what am I not getting? And I really, you know, I share this in my book. I had to step back and I was in, this is actually, I found the mass in my breasts right before this, we had planned this epic trip to Italy where we were going to start our family.
Brenda Walding: 06:50 So it was this tragic, you know, oh my gosh, you know, why is this happening to me? And then, yeah. And so, you know, in the middle of the night at 3:00 AM I’m, you know, tears coming down my face going like, God, what do you want me to do? Because I knew that conventional chemotherapy and radiation was not going to be my path. I just didn’t know what I was going to do. And you know, I heard this, I call it the divine whisper that said, if you’re going to survive, you’re going to have to learn to listen to your heart. And I just felt this immediate peace. And then I started to kind of panic because I thought, I don’t know how to do that. I really don’t know how. I don’t know, like maybe like so many of the listeners and people and my clients that I work with, we’re really stuck in our heads so much of the time.
Brenda Walding: 07:42 And, you know, my immediate reaction to a challenge would be to research it, to try to figure it out, to strategize. And this was like, no, no, Brenda, it’s time for you to really go within and listen and allow your heart to guide you. And, so I knew there was a level of emotional and spiritual, you know, healing too that needed to take place. And so I committed at that point to learn to listen to my heart. And over the next few years I had a pretty interesting and incredible journey through healing, holistically and wholeheartedly I should say from cancer. And it really became the catalyst for me to live in even more extraordinary life. Now I can say that I can access joy and just living a life of purpose and wholeheartedness that I’d never experienced before cancer. And so now that’s really why I’m, you know, I kinda quit physical therapy and I’m focusing on helping women, especially women, wellness professionals, to truly heal and thrive so that they can give their gifts fully to the world. So that’s kind of my story in a nutshell.
Karen Litzy: 08:56 And are you now cancer free?
Brenda Walding: 09:01 Yes. So I’m doing great. And yeah I’m doing awesome. And that’s really where my focus is now, is helping women to heal and thrive and connect more fully to their hearts.
Karen Litzy: 09:15 And quick question on, you know, so you’re diagnosed with cancer, you did not do traditional cancer treatments.
Brenda Walding: 09:24 I did sort of a mix. I didn’t do traditional chemotherapy and radiation, but I did do surgery. So I went to a couple of different clinics in the United States that focus on holistic and alternative cancer treatments. And so I did. It was a pretty wild ride. So we spent our entire life savings and did this treatment but then I also had a mastectomy.
Karen Litzy: 09:56 Okay. I guess sort of a combination. Yeah. Cause I just don’t want to give the listeners the impression that you don’t have to go through traditional medicine when you have a very serious diagnosis as cancer and that, you know, sometimes that is the route that one needs to take. And like you said, combining it with other holistic treatments I think is perfectly reasonable. But I don’t want people to think that we’re saying no shun traditional treatments.
Brenda Walding: 10:27 Exactly. And you know, for me, this is what I do. What I do know to be true is that, you know, a decision made out of fear is never the highest best choice. So when I work with women, where you’re working with people on their healing journey is like learning how to really access the heart to be able to tune in to that guidance to make decisions. So yes, you get the tests and get the information from doctors and healers and then trust your own heart to lead and guide you down that path. And that might look like conventional therapy for some people and that might look like alternative therapy for others. And that might look like a combination. So it’s really, you know, definitely not shunning conventional medicine. But I knew for me in my heart that in this particular moment, you know, chemotherapy and radiation wasn’t going to be my choice, that I was going to do a combination. And it really does differ for each person. And that’s the thing is, you know, oftentimes we get scared into, you know, doing things because someone else tells us that we have to do this and we have to do that. And you know, my recommendation is to take the information but also really listen within and let your heart guide your journey as well.
Karen Litzy: 11:42 Right. Yeah. Yeah. And I think in combination with your physicians and other practitioners that you’re working with as well.
Brenda Walding: 11:53 Yes. It’s important to have an amazing support team.
Karen Litzy: 11:54 Yeah, I just don’t want people to think that we’re saying, no, don’t, don’t listen to your doctors, because that would be really irresponsible. But yes, you have to, and it’s like what we say within physical therapy as well as you as the practitioner and wanting to give the patient all the available information and guidance that you have and then along with the patient, you make those decisions on what is best. And I think that that is what every healthcare practitioner strives to do and strives to educate patients as best as they can. Give them the knowledge, give them the odds, give them pros and cons and then along with the patient and their support team and physicians and nurses and whoever else you have working with you kind of make that decision on what is best for you. And, those decisions aren’t always easy.
Brenda Walding: 13:01 No. Yeah. And Yeah, work with people, you know, work with people on your support team that you feel good about. That you feel supports you fully and is in alignment with your values. You know, I definitely navigating this path, you know, I definitely had practitioners that, you know, were trying to force me into something or I just had a gut feeling that didn’t feel good. And so to really follow that and find, you know, doctors that are really on board with you and are listening to what you desires are. Because they exist, they exist for sure.
Karen Litzy: 13:31 Yes, of course. Of course. Okay. So you’ve obviously gone through a lot, over a full decade plus it sounds like, of your life. So let’s talk about kind of what you’re doing now and how you’re helping other, like you said, mainly women kind of navigate through a healing process.
Brenda Walding: 14:00 Yeah. So like Karen mentioned earlier, that I felt really called to write a book. And so this book really is my love letter to all women and it’s applicable to men as well. But you know, it’s really all the information I wish I would have had 10 years ago to really truly to heal and to really thrive. Cause it’s, I spent eight years really focusing on the physical aspect of healing. And I think that’s where we’re naturally inclined to as sort of these physical beings is that we’re like, okay, nutrition, lifestyle, medication, you know, the various things, focusing on our physical body. But, what I’ve come to find out that, you know, really looking at ourself holistically, taking into account our mental and emotional and spiritual bodies, so to speak and healing on those levels are equally as important as the physical.
Brenda Walding: 15:00 And then this sort of heart centered approach of really learning to get out of the head and allowing the heart to lead. So that is where I call it, like this whole hearted healing or this whole hearted living approach. And so that’s what I share in my book along with my story. And, I did research on, you know, what, who are these men and women that were not only healing from catastrophic illness but that were really thriving and using that illness as an opportunity to create an even more extraordinary life and what did they all have in common? And so that’s really how I, you know, navigated my journey. And also, you know, taking that research into consideration really came up with these nine wholehearted healing essentials. And I share that in my book. And that’s really sort of the framework I use when I work one on one coaching with women.
Brenda Walding: 15:55 And then I also do, you know, create a curated experiences, a women’s circles and workshops and things to help women to have an experience of some of these things. So that’s kind of what I’m up to now.
Karen Litzy: And can you share with us what your wholehearted healing 9 essentials are?
Brenda Walding: Yeah, I’d love to. So the first one is taking responsibility for your health and your life. And that really, it just, it kinda comes down to so many of us, we kind of rely on other people, maybe it’s even relying on a doctor or relying on, you know, other people to tell us what to do or to have authority over our life and our health. And this really is just taking your life and your health in your own hands, stepping away from that victim mentality and really taking ownership of everything that’s ever happened in your life and taking responsibility for you right now so that you can be in the driver’s seat of your life and what happens moving forward.
Brenda Walding: 17:06 And so the number two is creating a vision. And this is really, I have a mentor that I said, it’s better to be pulled by your vision than pushed by your problems. And so there’s a lot of research that has come out in the realm of quantum physics and the power of imagination of using our mind and elevated emotional states to actually change to affect us on the level of our DNA. And so I really got fascinated with the work of, you know, like Dr Joe Dispenza and Greg Braden, and really tapping and honing in the power of imagination and vision when it comes to healing. So that is something I really work with, with people to do is like what is it that we want to create and when we tune into that and imagine and tap into that elevated emotional state, that really helps to begin to pull that event towards us, whether that’s healing or creating more of what we want in our life.
Brenda Walding: 18:12 And number three is thoughts and beliefs. So just learning to manage our mind and harness the power of our thinking mind to create healing and really looking at beliefs because our beliefs are our underlying beliefs can be something that is really in alignment with our vision and what we want to create. Or it can be subtly sabotaging if we don’t really believe we’re worthy of healing or we have beliefs that are contrary to what it is that we really want. So that’s a piece I think often a lot of people overlook. And number three is feel your feelings. And so that is sort of tapping into that emotional part of healing, which I feel like there’s a lot of energy that we deplete in waste because we are dealing with a low to moderate level of anxiety and stress a lot of the times.
Brenda Walding: 19:12 And that has a really huge impact on our physiology. So there’s that whole element, it can dive into that more. But that’s number four. Number five is nutrition. So really looking at what we’re putting into our bodies, the quality of food, but not just what we eat, but how well we’re able to digest and absorb and assimilate that food. Number six is live to thrive. And so in this essential, I really dive into lifestyle factors. So this is where exercise and movement and connecting with nature and getting sunshine and play and you know, these different how we go about living our life on a day to day. And then the next one is connection and relationships. So really looking at the quality of our relationships and, you know, found that in our relationships.
Brenda Walding: 20:17 That’s where a lot of people can experience a lot of emotional drain. And we know that how our emotional state, you know, negative quote unquote depleting emotions affect our physiology. So really looking at the quality of our relationships and this piece around authentic connection. And I love this topic because this was actually a huge blind spot for me in my own life, is really learning what true connection really was, which is, you know, the ability to be, this sense of being, feeling connected energetically and being able to be seen, heard and valued and deriving strength and sustenance from the relationship. And, you know, there’s so much research on the impact of chronic loneliness, you know, we’re so disconnected. We’re connected very much with technology, but there’s so much loneliness. I think it was one study was talking about how chronic loneliness is equivalent to smoking, like several cigarettes a day.
Brenda Walding: 21:25 And the impact that has over time on our body of not being connected with one another in a deep and meaningful way. So that is a really incredible piece to look at. And then we have self love and self care, so love yourself and that really can encompass a lot of different things and can be an even bigger conversation. But really I found underneath it all is really healing and thriving is about all about truly falling in love with who you are and loving your life. And how does one do that? And then finally trust and surrender. So I found that, you know, of all the people that I researched, they all spoke about elements of really having this higher power that they were trusting, trusting, you know, source God, trusting within themselves, you know, and surrendering the outcome really learning to trust and as a power bigger and greater than them to guide them on their path. And so that is the last one is learning to trust and surrender.
Karen Litzy: 22:36 I mean, that’s a lot.
Brenda Walding: 22:38 Yeah!
Karen Litzy: 22:40 That’s a lot. But if you think about it and break those down, that’s as human beings kind of what we need. So it seems like, oh my gosh, this is so daunting. This is so much work. This is going to be work. But if you take each one individually and break them down, I mean, it’s pretty simple. It’s what we all need to be happy and healthy and live our lives. So I get it. I’m on board.
Brenda Walding: 23:04 Yeah, exactly. And you know, like I said, they intention really was to create this holistic healing living roadmap. So it’s like these are, I wanted to like, I’ve got this, all of this information downloaded and experienced in my life over the decade and I got the little bits of information here. Oh, you need to learn about nutrition. Oh, okay, great. I will focus on that for many years. Oh, okay. I need to understand how my emotions impact my health. Okay. You know? And so I got these little, these, this information and different from different books or different teachers. Then I realized like, oh, really, it’s really about it. All of these things. And they’re all important to really living your best and most full life. And it takes all of those things to some capacity to really, really live and thrive. And it doesn’t, you know, like you said, you know, you don’t dive in and try to do them all at once, right, yeah, you focus on one thing and you began to implement that.
Brenda Walding: 24:08 And that’s why coaching is really amazing. It’s like I had so many coaches and mentors and teachers that helped me begin to integrate all of these pieces. And so it’s helpful too. Yes, my book is a good resource, but it’s also helpful to have, you know, someone that can see your blind spots and can see, oh, hey, you know, let’s dive into, you know, there’s this emotional piece that you have held on to all these emotions from the past and that’s taking up a lot of energy and negatively affecting your body. But I didn’t really see that. And so let’s work through that together. So there’s a lot of things that can be helped when you have someone to help you move through some of these things together.
Karen Litzy: 24:52 Sure. And how has your training as a physical therapist, how does that play into the role that you’re doing now with coaching? Because I know there are a lot of physical therapists who might be looking for nonclinical roles or nontraditional roles. So how has your training helped prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Brenda Walding: 25:09 How has my physical therapy training help me in what I’m doing now? Well, I think, well, and you know, I actually had the really beautiful experience recently of going back and doing some physical therapy part time. And so I’ve been able to kind of go from both directions. See the difference, how my training up until this point with all of this work has made me and even different, physical therapists how I interact. So from that perspective, I can, and I think there’s a lot of value for physical therapists and any healers or practitioners to interact and address the patient or the client from this holistic perspective. Knowing that coming in this person with chronic pain or this, you know, ailment has, there’s many pieces. Generally speaking, generally speaking, especially if it’s a chronic issue and that it’s more than just the physical aspect, oftentimes that there’s an emotional piece and that there is a mental piece perhaps. And so being able to relate to that person in their wholeness can help me be a better overall practitioner to be able to offer some insights or how to relate to that person and help them, you know, experience a greater outcome.
Karen Litzy: 26:37 Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it’s that shift from a strictly biomedical to a biopsychosocial framework of treatment, which we talk about all the time on this podcast. I’m sure people are sick and tired of me saying it, but that is the way things should be in healthcare. So I will keep saying it many, many times. Now before we finish up, is there anything that maybe we didn’t touch on that you’re like, oh wait, I really want the listeners to know that.
Brenda Walding: 27:10 I think really a piece that I think is really helpful, especially for practitioners and you know, I don’t know much if we’ll have time to go into this, but this, I am a heart math certified coach and really we look a lot about energy management. And so we waste a lot of energy in the domain of emotions and repetitive negative and repetitive thoughts. And that affects our physical abilities and our physiology. And so really learning to manage our energy. And we do that through being able to get into a coherent state. So getting our heart, mind and emotion and energetic alignment through slowing down the breath and experiencing elevated emotional states like love and gratitude and can actually get the heart into a smooth coherent rhythm, which impacts the way that the rest of the body feels and how it can heal. And so I think if we learn some techniques, as practitioners to help manage energy we can improve outcomes for our patients and our clients. So this is sort of that combining of going beyond the physical and that heart math has some really incredible tools so that you can check them out heartmath.org I think it’s a really great tool for a lot of practitioners. I just wanted to throw that out. Yeah. So I think that, yeah, that’s helped me a lot in my own coaching on and with physical therapy.
Karen Litzy: 28:48 Great. And we’ll have all of that info at the show notes over at podcast.healthywealthysmart.com. So if people want to learn more about heartmap.org they can just go click on it and you’re there. So thank you for sharing that. And now the one question I ask everyone is, knowing where you are now in your life and in your career, what advice would you give to yourself as a new Grad right out of PT school?
Brenda Walding: 29:16 Right out of PT School? So I would definitely, I wish I would know now is really learning how to listen and lead from my heart. I feel like I got myself into a position where I was burned out running ragged, just trying to do the best I can as a new Grad. And I’ve missed a lot of the cues, you know, internally of Hey, slow down. These other aspects of your life are important to you. And you know, I think that was really the catalyst for me to start to get burnt out and sick. And so really to slow down and really listen to my heart is what I would tell myself.
Karen Litzy: 29:42 Great Advice. And burnout is real. This year at the women in PT Summit in Portland, we have a whole panel on burnout. I’m really looking forward to listening to, cause I am not part of this panel. I’m not part of the creation of it. It was sort of pitched to us and I’m really excited to hear what the women on that panel have to say. Cause it’s a thing and I think it’s happening more and more with the newer grads because they’re trying to work more and more. They’ve got student debt out the yes. What? Um, so I feel like it’s a real thing, you know, and like you said, just to take a moment to slow down and focus on other parts of your life is, is something that that can help. So thank you for that. And now where can people find you if they have questions? Where can they get your book?
Brenda Walding: 30:49 Yes. So you can find me. I’m in the process of creating, readjusting my website. So right now you can really connect with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And then I’d also love if any of this resonated with you, if you’re a woman that is dealing with burnout, exhaust exhaustion. I love working with wellness professionals. If you’re interested in some of these heart math tools that I use, I’d love to hop on the phone and I’m happy to offer your listeners a complimentary 45 minute consult.
Karen Litzy: 31:32 Oh, that’s awesome.
Brenda Walding: 31:34 Yeah. So if you’d like to take advantage of that and you can go to www.Brendawalding.com and that is my calendar link. And so you would just set up a time to chat with me. Okay. And I love hearing your stories and hearing where you’re at and what you need most support with. So happy to do that. And then my book is coming out in hard copy at the end of this year, but you can find it on Amazon.
Karen Litzy: 32:02 Perfect. And you’ll give me all the links. I’ll put all the links up on the podcast website under this episode so that way people can get to you, they can chat with you. And thank you so much for offering a session for everyone. That’s so nice.
Brenda Walding: 32:21 Yes. Awesome. I look forward to connecting with some of you.
Karen Litzy: 32:24 Great. And, again, Brenda, thank you for coming on and sharing your really incredible story. And we are all very happy that you are today healthy and happy and moving forward. So thank you so much.
Brenda Walding: 32:39 Oh, thank you, Karen. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being here, so thank you for the opportunity.
Karen Litzy: 32:44 And everyone, thank you so much for listening. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.
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