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Episode 72: Connecting Mind and Body

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The mind is a powerful component in our overall health. In this week’s episode, Michael Raviello shares how his journey led him to discover the power of the mind body connection.


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 The content of this podcast has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It is educational in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional to see if a diet, lifestyle change, or supplement is right for you. Any supplements mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that the opinions of the guests or hosts are their own and may not reflect those of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, Inc.

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Welcome to Supplementing Health, a podcast presented by Advanced Orthomolecular Research. We are all about applying evidence based and effective dietary lifestyle and natural health product strategies for your optimal health. In each episode, we will feature very engaging clinicians and experts from the world of functional and naturopathic medicine to help achieve our mission to empower people to lead their best lives naturally.

[01:18] Thank you for tuning in today. I am excited for our conversation with Michael Roviello, cofounder of Optimyze Mind Body Clinic, about various techniques to harness the mind body connection on your health journey. Michael is a New York City native who joined the US Navy in 1999 and after years of conducting helicopter search and rescue missions deployed around the globe and dedicating his life to active duty in the military reserve and veteran education programmes he has forayed into the world of natural alternative therapies. Welcome Michael, thanks for joining me for this conversation.

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[01:42] Michael Roviello: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate you guys reaching out and connecting. Happy to share my story and talk about wellness and Optimyze and natural approaches to therapies and health and all things.

[01:59] Cassy Price: Awesome. I personally find your journey very interesting. One of my favourite movie…emotions evoking thought to be in that kind of situation. I would love to learn a little bit about how your time in the Navy influenced your health and wellness journey and your perspective on this natural approach.

[02:18] Michael Roviello: That is a great question. I would love to talk through that. I would say The Guardian did do a good job of creating a lot of realities of what rescue swimmer squad actually is like. The US Navy and the coast guard are both very similar and the coast guard obviously works the coast and the US Navy does search and rescue throughout the world as they travel from continent to continent. Mainly we operate very similar. A lot of the same language. A lot of the same mottos. Obviously, a lot of the same gear. The same helicopters. I thought they did actually a really good job and I do like that movie. It was pretty cool to have a movie made about my old profession. When it comes to wellness and the comparison and the US Navy search and rescue. At the time I wasn’t really into wellness. I was into physical fitness mainly because I had to maintain a certain physique. I had to participate in annual rescue swimmer evaluations. I needed to be in shape. That was really important. I didn’t really do any recovery or anything that I would say was good for my mind and my body. What I would say is something that I learned in the Navy that was super powerful was resilience and learning that mental resilience, that really helped to translate into other areas of my life and also learning discipline, something that all military members learn.

[04:09] Michael Roviello: I didn’t realise how powerful discipline was until later on in my life where I learned that discipline was essentially one of the keys to happiness. Sometimes people grow up and they don’t necessarily have good discipline, maybe it is the home that they grew up in or they didn’t create it for themselves. The US military that is one thing that they really drive into you, it is creating healthy routines or routines in general so you can apply that to health. Everywhere you look today, in the bio packing kind of communities you hear a lot of people talking about morning routines/evening routines/ waking up and having a variety of different things that you do to get your day started right like waking up early with the sunrise, going to bed obviously as the sun goes down or shortly after that and getting in those rhythms like our ancestors did. A lot of overall health and wellness is really discipline and a lot of people who are having a lot of problems with their health I have seen that in many cases it is a lack of discipline with choosing the right foods or not participating in some sort of movement or exercise regime or not taking care of themselves or doing the things needed to get quality sleep like staying on the phone until midnight staring at screens, all of these things that we can talk through.

[05:49] Michael Roviello: I would say those are the things that really came out of my US Navy search and rescue background. When I was active duty, we had to have mental resilience because of the training. In the military we call it embracing the suck. It is really learning how to be okay with discomfort and I am so glad that I learned those skills so early in life because they did translate to other areas of my life as I moved into the civilian sector and also that discipline and just learning how to create and stick to routines and following through on what I would think and create for myself, actually following through on doing it. Those are also things that translated into my life, and I was able to apply those to essentially my personal wellness. I didn’t learn that until much later on. Those were skills that I had that I almost forgot about, but they came back in a very big way.

[07:04] Cassy Price: I love that you brought up getting comfortable with discomfort because I think it is a challenge for many people unless you have been in some of those adverse situations where you have been forced to deal with it. Many of us who aren’t in those really challenging situations on a regular basis have to really work at learning how to find that beauty in discomfort and becoming comfortable with it and using it to our advantage. I think that is a really awesome thing that you recognise how that has played a role in where you’ve come from and where you’ve gotten to. Now your actual journey into the natural and integrative medicine sphere began with cervical spine issues, correct?

[07:52] Michael Roviello: Yes. That was kind of the moment that started to get me to go down the rabbit hole of health wellness and mind body connection.

[08:00] Cassy Price: So, can you share a little bit about that experience and how you went through, I assume you started in the conventional system and then moved your way into that natural sphere?

[08:10] Michael Roviello: Yes, as of that rend coming off active duty, I had access to the health care system. I had injuries from my military service. I didn’t quite know what they were, but it was really really deliberate pain that was in my neck and radiate throughout my arms and radiate down my back and come in waves where some days it would really stop me from participating in life and other days it was really manageable. I was still grinding and working very hard when I left the military. I went into a corporate role and was kind of working my way up the corporate ladder and eventually becoming a senior director of operations for the office of military and veteran affairs for a very well-known university here. So, I was balancing working hard and on the weekends I was playing hard but this wave of pain and numbness and muscle spasms would take over. It was this nagging thing that wouldn’t go away, wouldn’t go away, it was always poking at me until a moment when it got so bad that things went from pain to numbness. Prior to that I was doing all of the things that are typically recommended which is pharmaceuticals and lots os pharmaceuticals from pain killers to muscle relaxers to anti-inflammatory pills and all of that.

[10:00] Michael Roviello:  Then they would send me into these pain management clinics, and they would give me these epidural shots so I was doing those but you can only get so many because there is a limit. They would work temporarily and then when everything started to become numb that is when the doctors started to get a bit nervous, and I was going to different doctors and neurologists and they originally thought I had Multiple Sclerosis because I was losing balance and losing strength and I had some symptoms like neuropathy and something called Clonus. My nervous system wasn’t behaving right, and my hand strength was getting so weak that even holding a glass to take a drink sometimes I would just lose grip and it would fall and break and I was starting to lose my balance as well. That was one of the scariest moments because my grandmother had Multiple Sclerosis, so I thought this was genetic and I have it now and I saw her rapid decline over the years so I basically did everything that was necessary until they found out that actually my spinal cord was being choked and I was essentially losing spinal fluid and I was lose communication between my brain and the rest of my body. Just think about rope being squeezed.

[11:30] Michael Roviello: They went in with an emergency surgery and they removed the disks that were pressed against the cord and had punctured through the sheath, and we did this reconstruction surgery, it is called an Anterior Cervical, and then I started to recover from the surgery. Initially I started to feel better. I started to feel better, and I started to get back to exercise and all of those thing’s months later and I figured that this neck pain was a thing of the part. Unfortunately, about a year later, or ten months later or so, I started to experience all of the same symptoms in different parts of my back but also my neck too and it just seemed to be working its way down my spinal cord. Naturally, the surgeon who worked on me recommended another surgery to got through and start to fuse other areas of my spine. He did send me for a few epidural shots as well. They were just temporary. They were not working. I was kind of back to the same with trying to figure out what was going on and overall having to make a decision about another surgery and that was when I said I had had enough. I had enough and I was not going to do the surgery. That really started my journey to try to find some sort of other ways to deal with this and solve it and mainly I was only interested in finding natural solutions and that is where it began.

[13:21] Cassy Price: Talk about resilience. I can’t imagine going through all of that and the ups and downs that you probably felt that you were dealing with especially as your grandmother had MS so you knew what would be coming if that was the case. You would be going in eyes wide open kind of thing.

[13:38] Michael Roviello: Yeah. It was scary. Especially when you are waiting for the results because you have to go through the MRI and the MRI determines if you have these legions in your brain and that is how they will tell if you have MS. The waiting period was two or three weeks. It was probably the scariest two or three weeks that I have in my life contemplating what they future might look like if I have to deal with this difficult disease.

[14:09] Cassy Price: So, then did you incorporate any of the mind body treatments that you use now on a regular basis as part of your way to cope with that stress?

[14:18] Michael Roviello: At that time, I had no coping skills. The coping skills that I had was alcohol. I was not very kind to myself and that was the big area that I was missing. For all of this time I was looking at my body as a physical being. I was looking at it very much like you would look at a car, diagnostically, it is like “oh, this part is broken, it needs to be removed or rebuilt or replaced.” That was my mindset toward health. I started to change my perspective when I read a book called The Mindbody Prescription by Dr. John Serno and it was a recommendation that I got and he started to talk about how physical pain can manifest itself in the body, psychosomatic pain can manifest itself in the body as physical pain and he starts to talk about the regions of the brain and go into these mind body connection and the communication between the two. It was this big area that I was missing that I had never explored. That was really the beginning for me to start learning about the mind and stress and accepting that I was dealing with certain types of stress like anxiety and bouts of depression and PTSD, those were things that I wasn’t even considering having an effect on my physical body because when you think of that type of stress and if you don’t have a good fundamental understanding of how these things can effect your body just think about something as simple as the fear of flying.

[16:07] Michael Roviello: If you have a fear of flying and you go onto a plane and you sit down your heart rate is elevated, your palms are sweaty, you are having a physical reaction over essentially a thought and a feeling. We know that. It is common sense for the majority of people but I didn’t realise how my mindset was really creating a lot of disturbances in my body based on my way of thinking and my unhealthy routine and unhealthy behaviour, like my lack of good quality sleep, my not setting boundaries with people and things and taking on too much, my over prescription of pharmaceutical use and dealing with the side effect of all of those, my not having time to myself and having routines where I am connecting. The most important one of all is loving yourself. This whole concept of self-love with sounds like a good meme for Instagram but it is really one of the most important things for all human beings is learning how to love ourselves and accept ourselves. It was all of these things that I was not even considering so as I started to go down the rabbit hole of learning different techniques from different people and different books, I started to really explore epigenetics, I started to explore the power of the mind, the power of now, how our thoughts can create havoc if we are thinking too far into the future or worrying or anticipating things that haven’t occurred yet or creating a lot of unnecessary anxiety and if we are constantly thinking about past and revisiting things that already happened and we can’t do anything about we can put ourselves in states of depression. Really learning how to feel and accept feelings as well, which was a difficult thing for me from my upbringing in New York City growing up in a tough area in Queens and then being part of the military lifestyle and there are no room for feelings in the U.S Navy search and rescue program so I had to really unwrite a lot of programs and take the things that really helped me like the discipline and the mental resilience but leave behind some of the other walls that I had built up. That really started to help me to feel better little by little. Then my journey took me to the Amazon jungle and eventually I found the Wim Hof Method and there was other things as well.

[19:03] Cassy Price: The brain really is a fascinating thing. It is so powerful, and it is really interesting when you start diving into the research around building those new neural pathways or changing them from the negative to a more positive outlook with gratitude practices and meditation and what not. It is such a huge world to dive into and in my opinion a really interesting one with some many different techniques and technologies out there to help people do that nowadays. You use a lot of those cutting-edge technologies in your clinic and your treatments, correct?

 [19:40] Michael Roviello: Yes. We have quite a few and we are always on the look out for new stuff that is alignment and supported by science. We like to have a nice balance between science and spirituality. We believe that is an important piece of the healing process that we are not robots, and we don’t want to treat everything in a robotic way but the inner work process is done. Here is the issue that I see with a lot of gadgets, it is that a lot of us are getting away from this idea of going to the doctor and saying “hey doc, I have tons of bad habits and bad practices and I don’t eat well, and I don’t sleep well, and I stress about the smallest things, but can you fix me please? Can you fix me? Do you have anything to fix me?” You are essentially going there looking for someone else or a thing to fix you, like a medication right? A lot of people are moving away from that and what they are doing is just the same mentality with the therapies. “I have bad habits. I stress about everything. I don’t sleep well. I have no discipline. I can’t stop myself from putting the sugar in my mouth, or whatever it might be, but I found this really cool new gadget and I want this gadget to rewrite the bad programmes that I have or fix my pain.” I think it is really important to know that the healing process always comes from within and that a lot of these techniques and therapies will help to assist in that process. They are there to assist us and guide us in some way. Like The Cold. It is a perfect example. It is a wonderful teacher, and it is going to help you to learn to go within and it is going to help you to learn how to be present if you don’t know how to be present. It will make you present.

[21:43] Michael Roviello: It will help you to learn how to breathe and accept stress and find piece in the face of stress. This is where the real learning is. That is where the power is, right there. Not necessarily the cold water is going all of these wonderful physiological things as well. Those to me are added benefits but ultimately it is the practice and the mentality and your approach toward wellness that really goes far. We have all kind of cool gadgets. We have a bio charger. We have cold water therapy at Optimyze. We have infrared saunas. We have contrast therapy. We have something called the Pandora Star. We have restorative sleep device called New Calm which really helps people to get out of the stress state and help get them into more calm brainwave states like theta and alpha and more parasympathetic in the nervous system. We have breathwork classes. We have sound healing. We have a new PEMF technology called Pulse coming into our Phoenix location. So, we have a wide variety of different things, also read light therapy which I am big fan of and really love. You know something? What’s unique about all of these therapies, one thing that they all really have in common, essentially, they are all mimicking nature. So, our ancestors lived in nature. They had their feet in the dirt. They had their hands in the dirt. They moved. They didn’t have warm up showers. They did things like bathe in cold streams. They were connected to the pulse electromagnetic fields by grounding. They were up with the sunrise getting the red-light energy into their bodies. All of these things are essentially mimicking nature in this very interesting world that we live in full of boxes and rubber soled shoes and wifi and not being able to put the phone down because we are tethered to it in a weird way that is so new to humanity, and it is having an effect on our nervous system. So, a lot of these therapies are really just mimicking nature. I know a bio charger for sure mimics nature. That is the beauty in our new way of being in humanity present day.

[24:35] Cassy Price: Now you mentioned the Pandora Star. I saw that actually on your Instagram profile and it has flashes of light. What about that is supposed to calm your nervous system?

[24:49] Michael Roviello: Well the Pandora Star is taking you on a journey. They have different settings for different things and in nature pulsing is very common. If you ever go outside in a lightning storm everything is always pulsing. Nature pulses and there is something about pulsing energy that is good for us. The bio charger works the same way. It pulses energy at different frequencies. The Pandora Star is really an upgrade. We have a time period in our therapies where people sit and relax for twenty minutes, and they use these compression boots to move circulation and drain lymph and they add the Pandora Star to their journey which will help to put them in this slight state of euphoria and deep relaxation because as the light starts to pulse through the eyelids it starts to have an effect on the brainwaves. If your mind is super busy and you just got done driving in traffic and maybe you are on a phone call or a conference call on your way in and all of the hustle and bustle of life that is common today, the brainwaves re typically in high beta, high beta waves, where much of our attention is focused externally on the external world. When you start to go inward and you use therapies like restorative sleep device, new calm or the Pandora Star and they are using different technologies a lot of them are all working on the same concept. They are helping to relax the mind, focus your attention within and as you start to go within you start to go on that journey almost like a daydream in a sense and the brainwaves are starting to come out of the high beta into the more alpha and more theta waves. That is when you start to feel more calm and relaxed. Your heart rate starts to come down as well and then also the nervous system starts to dial itself into more of a relaxed and restful state verses being on this alert state all of the time. A lot of those technologies are working on that principle.  

[27:12] Cassy Price: Awesome. So, from your time in the Amazon were there any non-technological techniques that you brought back with you to utilise in the clinic?

[27:22] Michael Roviello: In the clinic not so much. What I learned mostly about in the Amazon was the world of plant medicine. I was super intrigued. I was watching documentaries. I had met somebody who had lived in Brazil back in 2014 that was well versed in ayahuasca plant ceremonies and different sorts of diets, this type of snuff called rapé, all kind of things used by native America cultures from the Amazon base. They were starting to spread into Western culture. I had watched documentaries and read some books and learned about these things and I went down there really for my own self-healing and self-exploration and really to learn more about native practices. In our Western world everything we have learned is all about European history, European culture, it was very much based in that, and we knew that as an American coming to North America and there were people here and they had their own practices and their own spirituality and their own healing modalities and a lot of that was just kept secret. It is not something that we learn about. It is not something that we are taught.

[28:54] Michael Roviello: When I moved to Arizona coming from the concrete jungle of New York City, the native American spirit is very alive and well here in the Southwest unlike it is the Northeast where obviously Native American people inhabited those areas as well. I started to becoming more interested in what they had to say and their approach toward wellness and I learned about North American traditions but then I because very fascinated with South American traditions mainly from the different tribes at the Amazon bason. What I really learned in the Amazon jungle was the practice of ceremony and how important ceremony is to human culture and how we are missing ceremony in our everyday lives. I do incorporate the music, the feel, the vibes and the different types of smokes whether it be the organic jungle tobacco, sepals or smokes or sages and palo santo. I do my breath work classes in very much a ceremonial way which is things that I learned from my experiences working with the plants like ayahuasca and learning about Native American traditions and North American, Central American and also South American lineages. That is definitely something that I brought back for sure. People are really fascinated about these concepts and also their approach towards wellness. Really a lot of the education that I share, and learning is something that I also bring to Optimyze as well.

[30:52] Cassy Price: Do you find the roots at which someone is coming from or where their triggers are for stress and that sorts of thing changes which therapies work best for them or is it what your personal preference is and any and all of them could work for anyone?

[31:09] Michael Roviello: You know as different as we all are and we all have different experiences throughout life and we all have a variety of unresolved things in our lives and triggers and traumas, we are all very different, but we are all very the same and you see trends in behaviour. You see trends with people who come in and you can tell how they are, their state of being, their nervous system, they are always on super high alert all of the time. You can tell that they tend to worry a lot about things they can’t control. You can tell very early if somebody has a controlling mentality and all of these things. You hear about their story, and they are like “oh yeah I am fighting this auto immune disease and I have been diagnosed…auto immune, auto immune, auto immune” it is just constant. I hear auto immune all day every day. It is so common which is interesting. You start to see trends in pattern and behaviour. I think at the end of the day there are doctors who physically work with people to get people in order which is great, we refer people to local naturopathic doctors who will do extensive blood work, who will work with that person one on one to help get certain biomarkers back into order or bring them into an optimised state or get their biomarkers in an optimised state whether that be their hormone or their vitamin-d levels and those types of things. As a whole we are opening our facility to helping people change their philosophy on health which is being more proactive instead of reactive. The best defence is a great offence. 

[33:10] Michael Roviello: Keep being offensive in a sense of putting in the work, you are doing the variety of therapies. You are doing the blood work very six months where you are checking on things and making adjustments to diet and sugar levels and all of that kind of stuff. we are helping people to change their perspective to help and also helping them to learn that natural approaches are effective and powerful. They are not immediate. They require your participation and that is the part that most people don’t want. They don’t want to participate in their own health. They want someone else to fix them outside of themselves, this pill, this person, this conversation with their psychiatrist. No one is going to fix you except for you. We help to create healthy routines. Discipline. Obviously, we sell a variety of different supplements which are beneficial. We know that gut health issues are big problems in our society, so we have gut health supplements and things that we like. We know that low vitamin-d is an issue in our society which we saw a lot throughout Covid. We know that sleep is a big problem in our society. There are lots of people having lots of issues getting into restorative sleep stages and they are just way too sympathetic throughout their day and lifestyle is going to create lots of different ailments, so we are more about giving people access, educating them and creating community because community is a big part of health. It is important. It is the one area that I think is not utilised because everybody is so used to the doctor patient relationship where you just go and you have your one on one and you leave and you are not connecting with other human being. Community is part of the three pillars to what we offer and how essentially, we are meeting the mission of Optimyze.

[35:34] Cassy Price: Yeah, I think one positive that has come out of the pandemic over the past year and a half to two years is that people are starting to think a bit more about their health and we are seeing a shift to that more proactive movement actually having health care instead of sick care which I think is great. Not that we are where we need to be necessarily, but it is awesome that clinics like yours are out there to help people make that shift and find the tools that they need. Now, we have only just scratched the surface here there is so much more we could go into and even specifically the different technologies and all that they can do for you. So, if listeners want to get more information about what you offer at your clinics, they can visit your website at optiimyze.me and is the best place for them to get information and get a hold of you or would there be other ways that they should get in contact?

[36:23] Michael Roviello: Yeah. Absolutely. Our website. We have two locations here in Phoenix, one in Phoenix and one in Tempe Arizona which are about twenty minutes apart. Our website has a lot of resources. We have some blogs. We have a list of the different therapies and the benefits of the therapies. If they want to follow us on our journey the best place is to follow us @optimyze_me on Instagram. We are very active on Instagram. We also have a Facebook group where people post different articles or conversations around health wellness and natural approaches. That is Optimyze Facebook Group #OMB. If they want to follow me on my specific journey, the easiest way to find me is through Instagram as well. That is @Michael_the_arc. That is it. Those are three easy ways to follow the Optimyze journey. Follow me and our unique approach to health and wellness.

[37:35] Cassy Price: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. I think it is really interesting how you got to where you are and there is lots for people to take from your personal experience, so I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me today.

[37:51] Michael Roviello: Awesome. Thank you so much for reaching out and connecting and I’m happy to share.

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Thank you for listening to Supplementing Health. For more information about our guests, past shows, and future topics, please visit AOR.ca/podcasts or AOR.us/podcasts. Do you have a topic you want us to cover? We invite you to engage with us on social media to request a future topic or email us at [email protected] We hope you tune in again next week to learn more about supplementing your health.

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