Mind over Matter
Posted On Jul 12, 2016
When the scale gets stuck at an undesirable number, the likely culprit is your own negative thinking.
By Echo Garrett
illustrations by Shonagh Rae
In 2004, my husband Kevin—an adventure-loving photographer and writer—was rear-ended on his way to a photo shoot. He suffered a mild TBI, or traumatic brain injury, and the accident activated osteoarthritis in his back and neck. To deal with pain, he popped handfuls of Advil, often forgetting that he’d taken them already due to the TBI.
Two years ago, he collapsed in a parking lot. He insisted his colleagues drive him home so he could die in my arms rather than at the hospital. (I’m glad to say that this was not the last of him.) It was a turning point, for both of us. I had quit my job as editor-in-chief of Atlanta Woman magazine in the wake of his accident to make sure our family company, See Level Studios, stayed afloat.
Over the next seven years, I put self-care on the shelf as I shifted from lover and partner to caregiver, juggling the schedules of our sons and dealing with insurance companies and attorneys. I barely slept and rarely made it to the gym. Though we ate a relatively healthy diet, my weight gradually crept upward as I lived in a fog, grieving what we’d lost and facing an uncertain future. It felt like I was drowning.
Tired of trying new doctors, we were implored by my best friend to meet with chiropractor and applied kinesiologist Carl Amodio, DC, DIBAK. Following Kevin’s collapse, we agreed to explore two simultaneous paths—alternative and traditional medicine. Our medical doctor suggested that Kevin needed exploratory surgery for possible stomach cancer, and contributed more questions than answers. Dr. Amodio, on the other hand, gave me his personal cell number and showed genuine concern for our situation.
His philosophy is that everything is linked to everything else, and he deduced that the over-the-counter pain medications had taken a grave toll on Kevin’s gall bladder and liver.
He was dangerously close to experiencing sudden acute liver failure. Kevin’s work with Dr. Amodio made his ashen look and bloating disappear. He regained his model looks, and his thinking became clearer. Even his hair got darker. His pain levels were much better thanks to the use of herbs, supplements, and a tailored diet for his needs.
I was astonished by his transformation, and started working with Dr. Amodio on a book called Optimize You: New Hope for Optimal Health and Healing. Dr. amodio finds tension and imbalance through muscle testing. After pinpointing the main issue, he works with you to determine whether an issue is caused by a structural, nutritional, or emotional imbalance in the body.
If the issue is emotional, he determines whether it’s connected to a relationship or the material world, if it’s current or from the past, the organ in which the emotion is being held, and what exactly needs to be cleared. Once Amodio identifies the triggering event, he’ll ask you to put your hand over the organ where negative emotion is being held, and simultaneously put your hand to your forehead. You breathe deeply while thinking about how you felt during the initial experience.
Amodio gently taps on your spine in whatever area is connected to that organ system. Flagging strength indicates that there is another issue blocking you. If you have a structural problem, your body will demonstrate weakness when a certain area is touched. Amodio may do a chiropractic adjustment and then test again to see if the problem is cleared.
If the issue is nutritional, muscle weakness will reveal that, too. When Dr. Amodio suggested that negative thoughts prevent a person from reaching an ideal weight, I was skeptical but intrigued. I desperately wanted to get my life back—especially the romance and sense of fun that Kevin and I shared for so many years. By this time, I’d gone back to a regular routine of Zumba, yoga, running, and weight training. I couldn’t seem to shed the unwanted pounds layering my petite 5’4″ frame.
What did I have to lose, besides about 36 pounds? My willingness to explore Amodio’s way was a gift from my grandmother, Mimi. Mimi was an early convert to natural medicine in the 1960s after my granddad—a heavy drinker and smoker— dropped dead of a heart attack at 51. She threw out processed foods, subscribed to Prevention, took vitamins, practiced yoga, and dropped 30 pounds—maintaining that weight for the remainder of her life, until age 84.
Thanks to her, I have always looked to alternative medicine for answers. Dr. Amodio asked my body what my ideal weight was. I didn’t say a word, but through muscle testing, he came up with the exact weight that I had in mind—what I weighed in college when I first met Kevin. I was flabbergasted. Then he asked what my body would allow me to lose, which was 12 pounds above my ideal weight. “You’ve got some blocks around weight,” he said.
“Until we clear these blocks, your body literally won’t allow you to hit your ideal weight.” Icame to learn that self-sabotage is often the biggest obstacle to our elusive goals. We hear that notion time and again, but it finally rang true for me. “Our negative thoughts hold us back from doing what we want to do and losing weight is the most common example,” explains Dr. Amodio, an ex-Marine. “People reach a comfortable weight, and the body sets the thermostat at that weight.”
Dr. Amodio works with executives, athletes, and other high performers. Muscle testing allows him to quickly identify and delete psychological blocks that hinder us from being our best selves. When we have strong negative emotion, it can form a Neuro-Emotional Component (NEC) that takes up physical space in the body. This NEC collects toxins around that area. Candace Pert, PhD, author of Molecules of Emotion and a molecular biologist from Georgetown University, has scientifically shown how emotions impact our cells.
Dr. Amodio’s technique combines Quintessential Applications—a neurological hierarchy for assessing the body, developed by Walter H. Schmitt, DC, DIBAK, DABCN—and elements of Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), developed by Scott Walker, DC. The weight issues of Amodio’s female patients are often linked to emotional insecurity rooted in a relationship or a trauma—especially physical or sexual abuse. “They are literally carrying extra padding to protect themselves,” he says. “Once we identify what those limiting beliefs are, we eliminate those destructive thought patterns and replace them with empowering thought patterns.”
My initial block was linked to an incident that happened when I was 18, a college freshman. “The emotion is low selfesteem and hopelessness, and you are holding it in your pancreas,” he said when he first treated me. Instantly, I made the connection. My then-boyfriend had gotten angry about something and had shoved me across the room.
I hit my back on the doorframe and crumpled to the floor. I spent the next two nights in the infirmary, flat on my back in a dark room. I was embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone. Dr. Amodio asked me to take a deep breath, and think about how I felt in that moment as he tapped a certain place on my spine. As I exhaled, I felt lighter. He asked me to look over my left shoulder. “Now look at my right eye with your right eye, and declare that you are ready, willing, and able to attain your ideal weight,” he instructed.
My arm immediately went weak. “That means there is another event from your past behind the weight issue,” he said. The next event happened when I was age 32. The emotion it generated was despair, and I was holding it in my large intestine. At seven months pregnant, I had been accosted on the New York City subway system. The man threatened to kill me. I went into premature labor the next day.
Eleven months later, this same man killed several people on the Long Island Railroad, including one of my friends who looked eerily like me. I was so traumatized that we moved to Atlanta with our toddler and infant sons. I suffered from unusual symptoms after our move, but my gynecologist swept aside my concerns.
A new doctor deduced that I’d gone through trauma-induced menopause at age 33. There I was, age 39, and he told me, “You look fine on the outside, but your sex organs are shriveled like those of an 80-yearold woman.” I felt old and unattractive, and now I had to deal with the news that we’d never have another child. Following the emotional release from my longburied issues, I lost 23 pounds over the next several months—without a tremendous shift in effort.
When I’d hit a plateau, I’d ask the doctor to see if there was an emotional component to my halt in progress. As these blocks would occasionally emerge, he would explain that a “triggering event” had likely occurred, causing a file in my brain to open. Then one day my weight started creeping up. Alarmed, I asked him to unravel the mystery.
He uncovered a host of emotional issues in my subconscious mind, connected to weight. Kevin and I had gone skiing in Taos for the first time since his accident. I hurt my knee and had to forgo classes. When Dr. Amodio gave the all-clear to resume regular workouts, my knee still hurt and I experienced dizzy spells. My tibia had shifted ever so slightly backwards, causing pain.
“When the knee is involved, it usually means you’re anxious about moving forward in your life,” he remarked, explaining that anxiety was being held in my spleen. “Your dizziness comes from confusion about how to deal with the situation affecting your future.”
Over the next two hours, he proceeded to identify and “clear” 25 issues, ranging from low self-esteem to feeling the pressure of impossible expectations, which manifested as pain in my shoulder. “When you feel shoulder pain, if it’s emotionally- based, you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders,” he said.
Once he had released those emotions, I could lift my arm above my head; moments before it would barely move above my shoulder. This work allowed the burden of unreasonable expectations to lift. Why hadn’t cognitive therapy touched these issues, and how was I suddenly ready to deal with such emotions? “Your brain has a way of managing itself,” Dr. Amodio insisted.
“You apparently weren’t ready to process them.” When he tested my body again, it signaled that it would cooperate in reaching 114 pounds. “Don’t be surprised if you drop significant weight in the next few weeks,” he said. The scale indeed confirmed that I was indeed five pounds lighter the next morning.
I’m still on my journey to reach my ideal weight, as I write this, yet I’m no longer sabotaged by my long-buried emotions. Letting go of emotional baggage has become just as important as my daily nutritional and exercise regimen. In fact, I feel lighter than I have in years. l “The scale confirmed that I was five pounds lighter the next morning. Letting go of emotional baggage has become as important as my exercise regimen.”