Aaron Kennard: Hello and welcome to the truly amazing live podcast, where we explore different perspectives on. Well, what it means to live a truly amazing life. Go figure. Today, I've got my friend, Debbie Sarfati Steinbock on the show who is a certified holistic health counselor. I'm looking forward to sharing her stories with you. It's really cool to hear her explain the evolution of learning that she's experienced. As she went through 2 very extreme and very different physical health challanges. So, here we go! Today I'm excited to welcome my guest and friend, Debbie Sarfati Steinbock. And as a brief introduction to Debbie, she is a certified holistic health and nutrition counselor. And after years of being told, that she had an incurable chronic health condition, Debbie turned to her to help her understand her disease. To restore her body and regain control of her health. Her own life experience motivated her to become a nutrition counselor and natural foods cooking instructor who now educates and inspires others. She specializes in people with digestive conditions and food allergies. And I'm just super excited to have her on the line here today because our paths are so similar. We have so much in common. Actually as for more further information about Debbie, I came across her through quite an amazing experience or kind of a coincidental experience actually dealing with my own chronic degestive disorder which was the same one and similar to what she had. And at a crucial time in my life last fall, she actually helped me significantly to start down the path of healing. And so welcome Debbie.
Debbie Sarfati: Thank you! I'm excited to talk to you.
Aaron Kennard: Thank you so much for being here! I know that our listeners are going to gain a lot from hearing from you and your perspective on health and nutrition. It is a topic that is just so important for people and is just so misunderstood. I mean there is a lot of talk about it but even in the health industry I just think there's so much left to be desired. Would you agree with that?
Debbie Sarfati: mmm hmmm.
Aaron Kennard: And so I'm excited to talk and we're not necessarily focused strictly health today. I mean the purpose of our call is to discuss the principles of living a truly amazing life. But our health and our nutrition is such a key foundation piece to that and you're somebody who I see as just lives a full and rich life. And so that's why I want to speak with you and get to know you a little bit better. Highlight who you are, what you do, and why it is that you are happy and live such a fulfilled life. So are you ready to rock and roll?
Debbie Sarfati: I'm Ready!
Aaron Kennard: Debbie before I dive in to a bunch of questions, Just introduce yourself personally to us really quick. Can you give us just a little bit more about you and who you are?
Debbie Sarfati: Sure! Well like you said already, health and nutrition counselor and that's been something I am really passionate about. As you said I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was 18. It was actually about a month before I went off to college. And it really just changed the whole course of my life. And I went to college, and I kind of knew before I went to college, that I'm going to be a Psychology Major which I ended up doing. And really through the course of college, while I was studying psychology, I really anticipated that I was going to be a therapist or a counselor because that was I always wanted to do. As the events of my own life unfolded and my own healing journey that I went on kind of change the course of my own life. And here I am 18 years after that. I truly see everything that I went through as really a blessing to get me to where I am right now.
Aaron Kennard: So the hindsight has just shown. When you were younger, you saw wanting to be where you are right now. Maybe didn't see the path, the trials that we're going to have to go through to lead you there. But now you can see clearly how it was fulfilling really what you truly deeply wanted? Is that it?
Debbie Sarfati: Yeah, exactly! I kinda knew from the time that I was in highschool, I really knew that I wanted to do counseling. In my head, at that time, I had taken a couple of psychology classes in highscool, and I really thought therapy, counseling. I don't even know why that's what I thought, it's not that I have even been in therapy or counseling when I was in highschool, but that was kind of my framework of it.
Aaron Kennard: You don't know why you wanted that huh?
Debbie Sarfati: No. I don't know why I wanted that. But I am kind of those rare people who just, from the time that I was a kid I just knew what I wanted to do. As I said, when I went through college, I was a psychology major. I was doing psychology, research, my honors thesis, and was working with women who were victims of rape, and kids who were raised in intercity. I went to Emory in Atlanta, so kids who were raised intercity Atlanta and how violence affected memory. I was doing all this really important stuff with psychology and research, and literally I can remember the day I had graduated college with my psychology degree. I was taking a year off to apply for programs for my PHD. I went to live in Mahattan. I was on the phone with one of my besfriends, I literally can picture, sitting on my coach and talking on the phone with her. I said to her, all the stuff I am doing, in someways I wanted to like it but there was no connection. I hadn't had, thankfully, any of those experiences as a child in the intercity, Atlanta and all that stuff.
Aaron Kennard: Yeah, the people you were working with.
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly! I literally said to her, I just want to work with people like me that has had a health problemand have worked through it to get better.
Aaron Kennard: Interesting. Because you went through college after you had gone through this healing experience right?
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly! So that was kind of a sideline of my whole experiences of what I studied in college and then what I did personally on the side with my own health. I had learned so much on my own but never had got to merge the two things. And as I said that, and I can tell you the things I did in college on my own as an amateur. But literally that moment when I was on the phone with my best friend, what she said to me is, she mentioned a friend that we both grew up with. She said, "You remember her older sister? Well , there is a new school in Manhattan that she just went to, and it's to become a certified holistic health counselor. I think she's doing exactly what you just said what you wanted to do.". She gave me the phone number, I called the school, went in for a little intro to the school, and was signed up and enrolled withing a month or two. And I never went for my PHD after that.
Aaron Kennard: That's cool that you would just follow you heart and went after it like that. Well, that's awesome! Let's kind of take this back. I want to frame this conversation now. I want people to get a kind of get a picture of what your life is now. You really followed your heart throughout this process. Taking this various paths and having some really amazing experiences and it's led you to where you are now. Living the way it is now. Describe for us now, what makes life truly amazing for you, right now? And we'll jump back in to some of your stories and how it got there.
Debbie Sarfati: Sound great! For me right now, I think the biggest thing that makes my life truly amazing is my family. Like every aspect of that. My kids, my amazing husband, my parents, my siblings. That's definitely the foundation I think why my life is amazing.
Aaron Kennard: And why is that? Tell me more. Why is that such a core thing for you? And what does that do for you so much?
Debbie Sarfati: I feel really fortunate to have the community that I have. The support through my family and my friends that I've always had. I have friends that literally I have known since I'm two weeks old. Two months old.
Aaron Kennard: That you're still just close with.
Debbie Sarfati: Yeah. I mean ofcourse close when you have three kids. You get to talk on the phone once every two months. I feel just really grateful to have the connections and the support that I have in my life. And what I am able to bring to my own kids as a result of that.
Aaron Kennard: That's really cool. So is there any other aspects of your life right now? Relationships and what you can bring to those sounds like a huge core part. Would you say there's anything else that comes up for you just off the surface of what really makes life really meaningful and full for you right now?
Debbie Sarfati: Yeah! Definitely my career. You know, I really feel lucky to bear witness on a weekly basis to amazing people and to be able to see again and again with my own eyes what the body is capable of doing. And that I feel truly fortunate to be able to do something that I love and to watch other people's lives transform for the better as a result.
Aaron Kennard: That's really cool. Okay, good. So that kind of explains to us what your life is now. What brings your fullfillment. I mean those are two pretty big things, family and career. I mean those are the two biggest chunks of our waking hour and it sounds like you've got really amazing things going on with those things. That would explain why your life is so fulfilled and why you seem so happy. Would you agree with that?
Debbie Sarfati: I would agree with that!
Aaron Kennard: So let's go back then. Was it always this way? Did you always have those connections? Was your life always this fulfilled? And I think you've eluded to some of the stories and some of these disconnections. So I think obviously we've answered that already. You weren't always feeling quite this in tune right?
Debbie Sarfati: Absolutely not. I would say there's been a couple of key times in my life where the past has really veered Off for me. I kind to have to work to get back to center and gain whatever lessons can be gained from that veering off.
Aaron Kennard: Well I love you perspective and what you've already eluded to and told us that you can see. And it's such a general common thing that I see from people that go through hard things, and they realize after that was the perfect thing to get them what they truly wanted. Everybody that I talk to and in my own life it's just such a common thread that I love it. And so as we're doing these shows I think it's just cool to keep highlighting that and remember because people that are listening maybe going through super crazy challenging things. And I think all these affirmation from everybody that it's all happening for your good and for some reason. That you'll see sometime you don't need to.. I think that thing helps people through that. So let's go to what story, you've had multiple different experiences, but take us to one place, one story. Let's dive deeper in the biggest impact in changing your perspective and getting you to living a truly amazing life.
Debbie Sarfati: I think there's really two to three that come up for me. So the first one, we talked about already, when I was 18 and I got diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. And that really did change the course of my entire life. It really changed my nutrition, my health, and then, as I have told you already, my career path for sure. And then going through, I would say. After my daughter was born three years ago, and you and I have talked about this a little already, that I went through another health crisis and it's been really interesting for me to reflect on that one. For a long time, if I'm really truthful with myself and with you, I was really bitter to have another one on my plate. Because I already had this story. This, "Look what happened to me and I overcame it.", and you look how good my health was that I really got stuck for a long time. I would say a good year. I got really stuck and you know, "Why is this happening to me again? There's nothing to learn from this.", I already had my healing journey, I have a career that I love, I help people. And like I said, for a good year, I really got stuck in that. And those health things that I encountered after her birth were entirely different. They were not Crohn's disease related at all. And like I said, it really took me about a year to see the gift that were coming out of that one because I was really closed off to getting them initially. Like I said, I've mistakenly believed that I didn't need anymore.
Aaron Kennard: Let's stop for just one second because I think we should focus on that second one.
Debbie Sarfati: Okay.
Aaron Kennard: And I'm going to give the listeners a brief overview of kind of just what happened. I'll tell them in my story and you just correct me if I'm wrong here because we're kind of give them more background. So you've got Crohn's disease when you were.. You've got diagnosed when you're 18 but you have been dealing with it for about four years.
Debbie Sarfati: Yes for 5 years, from the time I was thirteen.
Aaron Kennard: So you grew up as a teenager just suffering immensely with pain and I can 100% relate because I've got the same disease, Crohn's Colitis. And many can't people relate to this, but it is an intensely painful, life debilitating disease that the medical community claims that it's chronic and that you will never get rid of it. So I'm going to short track that story. We could spend a lot of time on that. That is an amazing story in of itself but let's bring people up to speed. You found out after taking pills. You had a longer version of my same story.
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly! Yours is fast and furious Aaron, and mine was slow and long.
Aaron Kennard: I dont know which one was more painful. They're probably equivalent because your's was so much longer and mine was intense. It's pretty amazing how similar they are but different. I just want to kind of bring it to you for people to hear. First of all, Crohn's disease is not a chronic disease per se. You healed from it. I healed from it through natural whole foods. We could go on to this topic for a long time but I want to focus more on our belief sets. So that's why I think this second story is more intriguing. But I just want to put it out there for people that you came through an amazing trial and you learned so much through that. About life, about yourself, about health that has led you to being able to bless people's lives and it's just a core part of you are and the gifts you now have to offer to the world. Is that a good summary?
Debbie Sarfati: Yeah! And if I were to add some of the lessons that I learned back at 18.
Aaron Kennard: Yeah, just briefly hit us on those and then let's spend a little time on the other one.
Debbie Sarfati: I was gonna say your phone went out for a second but I got the jist of what you said. Back then when i was 18, 19, 20, and 21, I really just went down the conventional medical route of taking of the pills and enrolling myself in medical trials of drugs that were not yet FDA approved. That was the only thing that I knew that medicine was the only cure for me. It took me a couple of years to realize that I was taking all these pills and doing all these things, and I truly was not one ounce better than I was prior to that.
Aaron Kennard: Well they don't even claim that it's curing you. All they do is treat it. They don't even believe that you're going to get cured, they just think you should take this pills the rest of your life
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly. And I've shared with clients over the years, for me stopping my medication was actually easier than it is for some of my clients who are actually getting symptomatic relief from it because I was not. I kind of got to the point where, I wrote this on my bio, I was taking nearly 28 pills a day of different anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, etc. And I just started to feel like there is no way that this is truly healing for my body. And I started to just dabble with nutrition on my own. Back at that time there was literally one book written on Crohn's disease which was the Elaine Gottschall: Breaking the Vicious Cycle diet. I put myself on that diet for a year and a half and this was way back before you could order almond flower on the internet.
Aaron Kennard: It was a lot harder back then.
Debbie Sarfati: Just coming out and I did it. I always say that diet definitely did not cure me but it got my eyes open to what real unprocessed whole food were.
Aaron Kennard: It's definitely good. It puts you in the right motion, in the right frame of mind.
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly. So for me, part of it was being 20 and naive, I went to my doctors and told them that I was going off all of my drugs. They were basically, "Okay. We'll see you in 6 months when you're going to have you colon removed.". And I was like, okay. maybe that's what happen on but that's not what I believed. I just discontinued everything that I was doing and focused on diet and just saw my health start to really improve. The onset of my disease, it was kind of slow and insidious, the past act to help for me as well.
Aaron Kennard: Yeah. Not immediate.
Debbie Sarfati: No. It really wasn't. It was many years of slight improvement.
Aaron Kennard: Which is interesting because if there's anybody who has Crohn's or Colitis, it's so different for every person. Where as mine came on super fast and in days of changing my diet, left. Yours was slower on slower off. Just tell us, on this piece, one or two main key lessons through that part of your life, that process.
Debbie Sarfati: The biggest lesson that I learned was just really trusting myself. To not drown out my own voice to the voices of authority. And to really just be true to myself and ask myself the question, did I believe that I was on the right path for me. And when I was really able to do that, which feel in hindsight so remarkable that I was at 18, 19, 20 able to do that. It was a huge gift and a huge lesson for me. Especially what I went through after my daughter's birth, trying again to really tap into that intuition and that trust in myself and what I know to be true for me.
Aaron Kennard: That's cool. So that was like your first big experience with learning to trust yourself. At which then potentially prepared you for this next phase, if you will, of needing to trust yourself even more? Is that it?
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly. And I found a lot of irony in the fact that, at 30 something years old, I had a lot harder time doing it than I did at 18. And I reflected a lot on that. I think that at 18, like I said before, it was part being naive. Also, that there was really not a whole lot that I had at stake. Not that I didn't think my life was precious or anything like that, but I think when you're making decisions all of a sudden with a husband and three children, you really want to make sure you're right with you decisions. Does that make sense?
Aaron Kennard: Yeah. So when you were 18 and single, it was like it's just you. Now that you've got all these committment and responsibilities, now it is that much harder to trust your gut and follow it.
Debbie Sarfati: That was what I found. And ultimately, the lesson that I learned from it is that, that's still the past and that's still what you need to do. But as I said, I found it a lot harder because the decisions we're making were not just about me anymore. And If I was, quote unquote, wrong or doing something that was a disturbance to myself, or I'll rephrase it. I had really wanted to make sure that I wasn't because of all the people that I knew were in my life and depending on me at that point which was different than the first time.
Aaron Kennard: So that word trust, I just remembered as you just told me that, you had a little medallion made up with that particular word. That was a pretty meaningful word for you, right?
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly. I had a necklace made that I wear everyday that says trust and I have a rock engraved to say trust that is over my kitchen sink where I wind up doing dishes about 20 times a day. [laughs]
Aaron Kennard: I can relate to that. With kids, it like there is always dishes it seems. [laughs]
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly.
Aaron Kennard: That's really cool. Let's not spend a lot of time then on describing the most recent pain you went through but just to give people context on that exact thing. And then let's just focus on, as we finish up here, the lesson that you learned from it.
Debbie Sarfati: You mean actually what I physically what I went through?
Aaron Kennard: Yeah. What did you go through physically just three year ago with your daughter?
Debbie Sarfati: I can't even sum it up in a minute because iw was basically, it started with my thyroid and then led into every system of my body. And I found myself again in a place, at 30 however I was years old I was 33 maybe, where I was again being told that my gallbladder was going to need to come out. That this was wrong with me, that I had this, I need to take this drug. After 16 years of not being on any pharmaceutical drugs at all, literally for 16 years the most I've taken was maybe 5 tylenol in a year for headache.
Aaron Kennard: So to have this huge health crisis where now all of a sudden you are being bombarded medications again was like a big shock to you. To your system as well as your emotional system, right?
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly.
Aaron Kennard: And you to shut down you practice for a while because you were debilitated and you had this newborn right?
Debbie Sarfati: And I had a newborn. Exactly. I had a newborn, two stepkids, and all of a sudden it was one health thing after another. And for me, and I've shared this with you personally, what I got from my first experience with Crohn's disease, as I said already, it changed my life nutritionally, you know physically. What I got from the second one, the words that I always use was, it cracked me open. My entire world shifted. I was consumed with so much being fear of being told something wrong with so many systems of my body. That I just kind of got to this point where I just believed once again, but in a very different way, modern medicine was not going to get me out of this. This time, it was just me looking at spirituality for a lack of a better word, that word trust that came up for me. It was just I needed to trust myself, trust in the universe, trust that there was a bigger picture and lesson in all of this. And that I didn't need to work out every minute detail but just take a step back at the bigger picture of letting go of all the things that were just so confusing and so fearful. That doesn't mean to neglect them, I certainly treated what needed to be treated, but for me it really brought me to meditating.
Aaron Kennard: So before that you weren't really meditating?
Debbie Sarfati: Wasn't at all meditating. Yeah. Zero. I would do savasana and the yoga for 3 minutes.
Aaron Kennard: Yeah. I mean because that was exactly what happened to me. Like, meditation was one of the biggest gifts that I received from this illness. And I think you emailed me on that. Yeah, I remember that now.
Debbie Sarfati: Yeah, when you listed your points Aaron, we had the same ones. For me, they came over these two different things in my life. Three, if you include what I went through around meeting Roy which was wonderful. So anyhow, this one really brought me to asking the questions of kind of the bigger picture of life for me. As I said already, meditation and spirituality and all that stuff.
Aaron Kennard: So now, health wise, how are you feeling?
Debbie Sarfati: I feel good! I'm definitely over the top of the hill. But I think it's kind of my M.O. is that, things come on for me more slowly. This whole thing come on over a two year period and that's probably my cycle out as well.
Aaron Kennard: Yeah. But you're better. It seems you're like a little better everyday and you're able to practice again. You're not debilitated anymore and you're still improving daily from a health stand point, right?
Debbie Sarfati: Yeah. To be quite honest people that have no idea of what I've went through, when they see me, they have no clue that I'm not the same Debbie that I was before, for me.
Aaron Kennard: But your physical body isn't at exact same feeling, health wise, as you were two or three years ago?
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly. And then in some ways, and Roy is so wonderful to point this out to me, like when I focus on certain things that are not quite where i want them to be yet. He so beautifully points out to me how there's so many things that are so much better than I ever was. I reprogrammed my whole nervous system after this experience which I didn't even know that needed reprogramming. But I feel like I function on a different frequency than I did in most of my life.
Aaron Kennard: Just recap for me then. What are the biggest take aways and lessons that you got from this last trial that you went through?
Debbie Sarfati: Definitely the biggest one is trust is really learning from how my body feels. When I start to fear again and I notice that I get in to that franatic mode of being scared and needing to solve things. To really just lean back and trusting the bigger picture that everything is going to be presented to me in due time and work out in the way that it should.
Aaron Kennard: What gives you that now? Just kind of dive a little deeper into that one thing. How do you trust and how do you actually do that in the face of that fear?
Debbie Sarfati: The words that came to my mind when you said that, is to really try to respond but not react. Like give me a little space between what I am feeling and acting on it so that I am acting on it coming from a place with more trust than out of a place of fear. Does that make sense?
Aaron Kennard: Yeah.
Debbie Sarfati: Some days are harder than others or some situations, I should say, are harder than others. But ultimately, just centering myself and coming to, whatever I'm coming to, from a place of calmness instead of a place of fear.
Aaron Kennard: That's cool but we're coming to the end of our time and I want to hit just a couple of more quick points and then wrap up with letting the listeners know how they can get in touch with you. So let me just ask you a couple of quick questions and we'll try to wrap up and see if we can leave the listeners with some good valuable nuggets here as we wrap up. You know the 12 pillars of a truly amazing life that I've outlined of my poster.
Debbie Sarfati: Yeah.
Aaron Kennard: Which one of those stands out to you most right now and why?
Debbie Sarfati: Okay, briefly. As I circled three. But I would say the one that stands out to me the most is growth. And I think that, for me, I want to be constantly growing in every facet of my life and not be afraid to look at anything or question anything or get the bigger picture from anything.
Aaron Kennard: Awesome. I love that one too. And what would you say the number one most important thing you tell somebody to help them start a full and truly amazing life today?
Debbie Sarfati: To align with people that are doing what they are looking to do. Whether that's people that have overcome the health thing that they are trying to overcome, or live the kind of life that they want to overcome. I think we all need inspirational models for what it is we want to become.
Aaron Kennard: Well that kind of correlates with what you said at the beginning. Your biggest thing for you right now is that connection. And that really aligns with that aligning people that are connected. I mean you've talked about your family but I guess in this sense you're talking about aligning with others with similar mindsets that can help you in your path. Is that what you're saying?
Debbie Sarfati: Exactly. And I say all the time in my practice. If you want to heal your body naturally, going to a G.I. doctor is probably not going to be the person that's going to help that happen. You need to align with the person that is going to be in that space to help you achieve it in a way that you want to achieve it.
Aaron Kennard: Is there any one book you would most recommend to people right now?
Debbie Sarfati: I'm an avid reader and I would say I really loved the book recently by Wayne Dyer: There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem. And I'm not sure if you read this one.
Aaron Kennard: I haven't read that one by him but I love Wayne Dyer.
Debbie Sarfati: And there is another one by Rachel Naomi Remen, who also had Crohn's disease, and she's an M.D.. She wrote this book called Kitchen Table Wisdom which is basically just inspirational stories of healing.
Aaron Kennard: I'll also check that out. Awesome. Thanks for doing that. Well, to wrap up, just tell the listeners how they can get in touch with you real quick. And then, maybe give us one final parting piece of advice and we will call it a day.
Debbie Sarfati: Okay. Well, my website is the best way to get in touch which is http://www.wholenourishment.com/. And one final piece of advice.
Aaron Kennard: On how to live a truly amazing life. How to be happy and fulfilled. Give us one final thought on that.
Debbie Sarfati: One final thought is every part of our life is all connected and sometimes we get crippled by the sheer volume of things that we may see, we need to change in our life or our relationship or our career or whatever it is. And one of the things that I've learned is that if we start with one, it's kind of a domino effect. They're all interrelated in one way or another.
Aaron Kennard: That is fantastic advice because it's so easy to get overwhelmed especially when you're no feeling great. You start feeling bad. Just do one thing to make you feel better.
Debbie Sarfati: And then see where that one leads you too. Exactly.
Aaron Kennard: That is awesome. Thanks for wrapping up with that. And Debbie, it's been a true pleasure hearing from you. I loved the points you've made. I love the discussion on trusting. I think we could go into that a lot more. I wish we had more time to even talk but we've got to end the call here soon. Thank you so much for all those. I look forward to keeping in touch. And we will talk to you soon.
Debbie Sarfati: Okay, great! Thanks so much Aaron.
Aaron Kennard: Alright! Thanks for tuning in today. If you want some grat advice on nutrition and a partner in health who truly understands healing, go talk to Debbie. You can find links to her website and notes from this call over trulyamzinglife.com/episode6. Go check it out! And feel free to get in touch with Debbie. She's wonderful! And leave us a comment over there on the blog and say hi. Tell us what you think of this call and anything else. Until next, this is Aaron Kennard signing off for the Truly Amazing Life show. Make today amazing!