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Podcast: Relieving Stress and Building Resilience with Dr. Robyn Tiger


Transcription of Podcast

Please note this transcription is generated by software. There may be some errors. I hope you find it useful.

Hello and welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena. Super excited. Today I have an amazing guest called Dr. Robyn Tiger, who is going to talk to us all about stress. I love talking about stress because hey, it's an emotion. Dr. Robin, Dr. Robyn Tiger. Welcome, welcome. Thank you so much for spending some time with us.

Dr. Robyn Tiger's background and approach to stress management

Thank you, Dr. Orlena. I am really, really honored to be here today. Perfect. Well, I think over to you. Would you like to introduce yourself? Tell us a bit about yourself, and I know you've got an interesting story to tell. Yeah, I'd love to. My name is Dr. Robin Tiger. Yes, tiger, like the animal. And I am a double board certified physician in diagnostic radiology and lifestyle medicine.

And I'm the founder of Stress-Free md, where I love to share a whole person approach to relieving stress, building resilience, and improving your overall wellbeing through multiple different ways. In addition to being a doctor, I weave in yoga therapy and meditation and life coaching and all of the lifestyle medicine principles to educate others in this whole person approach to improving their health, wellbeing, and ultimately the joy that they feel and experience in their lives.

Fabulous. It sounds very, very similar to what we teach and what I teach and fit and fabulous, which is how to get to Healthy, amazing You is is the way I phrase it, but all of those amazing things. So I'd love to hear your story and how stress affected you personally. Yeah. And I do feel really aligned with all that you share as well.

Dr Robyn’s Personal experience with stress and its symptoms

And me, you know, they say make your mess, your message. And essentially I was a mess about, mm, I'm gonna say maybe 15 ish or so years ago, I started to develop over time lots of symptoms and I. Was and still am married to an amazing man. I had two at that time, very small children. Now they're young adults.

And so I was this doctor mom, I was working, I was taking care of the house and the dog and doing all the things, you know, room mom on this board, that board this committee, you name it. And. All of these symptoms over time just started to creep up and they seemed completely disconnected and the symptoms included migraine headaches with vomiting.

I had vertigo, which was very, made me very dizzy, just simply turning my head. Tinnitus, which that ringing in your ears? I developed bleeding gums that would bleed even when I wasn't eating, just they would just bleed. It was very, very, Awkward and confusing. I had really bad reflux where I would get burning chest pain sometimes.

You know what? His heartburn, where I would just feel that burning feeling coming up from my stomach into my chest, and. My body hurt a lot. Like I just had so much pain in my body. I felt really, really trapped and tight all of the time. And I describe it as being like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz, where, you know, I felt like I needed oil, like someone needed to do something to help even my joints move.

And I had a, you know, really scary symptom that. It's called intermittent prestigious, which is I had this numbness in tingling that would come on out of nowhere involving my hands and my feet and the left side of my back. And as a physician, I was terrified. I had a debilitating neurologic disease because, What else would that be?

I would be trying to cut vegetables and I couldn't feel the knife. I would be driving my car and I couldn't feel a steering wheel. I would be in a breast biopsy holding a biopsy gun and lose feeling of the biopsy gun in my hand. It was really, really scary. And I wasn't sleeping. I couldn't digest my food.

My bowel habits were all over the place. Diarrhea, constipation. And I had a lot of dark thoughts. Started to think like really bad things went to lots of doctors, right? That's what we do. I went to my internist of course, and I went to a gastroenterologist. I went to a neurologist. I went to a physiatrist.

I went to a a A mental healthcare professional. I went to a periodontist. I had every lab test. They were all negative that you can imagine. I had lots of imaging studies. Of course, being a radiologist, they were all negative. So all these tests are negative, and yet I'm feeling horrible and I'm, I feel like, I'm like, am I dying?

Like, what's going on here? It was just terrible. And Western medicine, as amazing as it was, wasn't really solving the issues. Nobody could help me. And everybody saw me as an individual symptom. We call it a pill for an ill, right? So every ill that you have, someone gives you a pill for, and I had this big pile of pills that I was taking every day.

And so at this time I had three physician friends who had died from suicide. And that really scared me because I thought, oh my goodness, like I'm starting to have these really bad thoughts, like I'd rather not be here. I feel so terrible and you know, I don't, I don't think I wanna spend another day feeling this way.

And so I had to figure it out. You know, I had to decide there was this fork in the road and I'm like, am I gonna continue down this path and end up like my colleagues or you know, am I gonna try and see if I can help myself? And so that's what I did. You know, I was already exercising a lot. I was already eating what I thought, a pretty healthy diet, and so I'm thinking, Hmm, it's not either of those things, so, so what is it?

And I kept hearing more and more about yoga and meditation, and I have to tell you that I used to do a lot of eye rolling. You know, I thought those were for those weird people wearing the weird clothes, listening to the weird music during the weird stuff, twisting their bodies upside down, what have you, down the hall.

Taking a whole person approach to stress relief

Well, I was in the gym training for my races, right? Because I was, I was a gym rat. Like that's my thing. I'm doing that other stuff. But you know, I kept seeing this advertisement for this yoga Meditation 1 0 1 series, and it was being led by this anthropology professor from the local university, and she seemed left brain and really authentic, and not Molly Moonbeam.

Sounded like she, she was a pretty smart, smart woman, and I thought, all right, well, Maybe she has something here. So I grabbed my next door neighbor who's a nurse, and I said, Hey, you wanna go do this thing with me? Take this course. And she kind of eye rolled as well. And I said, if it's terrible, we'll go out to dinner.

I'll take you out to dinner. We'll just leave. So she said, okay. So off we went. And that was a day. I mean, I can't tell you how many cases I read, how many biopsies I did, I got home, I. Fed my kids. I bathed my kids. My husband also a physician, is working a later shift. He got home. I handed the kids off to him.

I made it to this class, seven 30 at night, barely like dragging my body in there thinking, what am I doing here? And after the first class, I noticed this incredible shift. I felt clear. My mind wasn't like full of a million thoughts. My body felt relaxed. I wasn't tired. As tired as I was when I walked in there, I actually didn't feel tired and it was just so interesting and I thought, what just happened?

The mind-body connection and its impact on stress

Like what just happened? And so I remember driving home and just couldn't wait to get, to get to the computer and to my books to start trying to figure out, cause my doctor left brain wanted to unpack what was happening. And what I came to understand was that, I was learning how to relieve my stress and that as I continued to go to these classes more and more and then continue on in studying and becoming certified in all of his different disciplines, my symptoms all went away.

Everything I described to you, that whole list of what seemed to be disconnected, symptoms disappeared, even the dark thoughts, and so that's the physiology and anatomy of our body, our dysregulated nervous system, our stress response on overdrive. That was causing all this cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and all these cytokines, which are inflammation, inflammatory markers in the body to show up in me as all these symptoms.

And when I learned how to decrease my stress and decrease the inflammation and decrease the stress hormones, I started to feel better and the symptoms just went away, essentially healing myself. So that is the story as to how I got. To where I am now in terms of wanting then to share what I learned with everyone else.

That's an amazing story. I absolutely love it. Thank you so much for sharing. And it's absolutely incredible, isn't it? What our body is capable of. I dunno is the word creating, but you know, I can totally understand why as a physician you are there thinking, oh my goodness, this is just not good stuff that's happening.

Techniques for reducing stress and building resilience

And really it's all just down to stress and the simple things in life have changed it. So how do you now help other people on their journey? So it's really been an evolution. I started. About 15 years ago, as I mentioned, I think with my symptoms and, and then in about 2010 was when I decided that I wanted to learn more.

And as doctors and as humans, many times we're just lifelong learners. So I put myself in yoga teacher training, never think I was teaching anybody else anything, just because I wanted to learn more. And it was there that I learned about the field of yoga therapy. So yoga teacher training is a 200 hour base level of education and yoga therapy is at least 1000 hours of training over a three year period that takes the basic principles and allows you to apply them to help people with symptoms, illnesses, and diseases.

And I was like, wow, I can doctor in a different way. This is so amazing. This is so cool. So I went on first to become certified yoga therapy and it was there that I learned about this specific type of meditation called iRest Little I Big R. It's like the iPhone cuz it came out about the same time. And it was initially created for Walter Reed Army Hospital, which is our military hospital here in the us.

To help our military relieve their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or post-traumatic stress growth, as we like to call it, and it was found to be so incredibly beneficial for chronic pain. In addition, that our Department of Defense declared this type of meditation, a tier one treatment for chronic pain.

The importance of self-care and self-compassion in stress management

It was essentially equivalent to taking pain pills. And so I went on and studied another three years to become certified in this specific type of meditation, which is evidence-based and secular, and really safe for everyone. And somatics and some other types of learning to really understand body-based work, to really understand more about how the body functions with respect, respect to the brain.

I study trauma as well, and so that was the body-based work, and I like to call that bottom up, like how do we regulate our nervous system and get our nervous system in balance instead of being out of balance? We call that homeostasis. And then there are thoughts, right? And so we work from the top down as well as like, okay, well what about those 60,000 thoughts your brain is offering you every day that aren't really beneficial, most of them.

And then I be, so I learned about life coaching. I was a client in life coaching. I found it so beneficial that I went on, became certified as a life coach to add what I like to call the top down approach to stress relief. So we have the bottom up, the body-based and the top down approach. And then in addition, my clients over the years, as well as my own interest in other areas such as nutrition and sleep and fitness and connection drew me to lifestyle medicine, which is a newer field of medicine requiring a board.

It's actual boarded exam that you take to become certified. And it involves a lot of what you talk about Dr. Orlena, and it involves so many key pillars that the medical literature tells us all are needed to help your wellbeing and to help you become the healthiest version of you. I serve as lead faculty and subject matter expert in stress management for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and actually spent the last year and a half developing the board review materials for physicians that'll be certifying in emotional mental health.

Integrating stress management into daily life

And those pillars include stress management and sleep, and social connection and fitness and nutrition and external substances, and really focusing on those six key pillars to allow you to have this whole person approach to wellbeing. So I package that all together and I work with people individually.

I work in groups. I lecture, I get workshops, I do retreats anywhere in any, any place I can. To share. That's amazing. And you do all of that without getting stressed. No stress. Stress is not something that you can prevent all the time, but the key is to know how to relieve it. And I'm actually writing a book, which will be out in September, and that is called Feeling Stress is Optional, which goes along with what you're just saying.

So, Oh, fabulous. Well, we'll have to have you back in September when your book, talk about your book. Awesome. That sounds absolutely amazing. What an inspiration you are. Any last thoughts before we go on to where people can find you? Any last thoughts that you would like to share with people? Yeah, I just would like people to know that, you know, if you see anything in yourself and what I described, you know, I just gave you a whole bunch of symptoms.

You may experience one or two after you've checked with your healthcare professional and found that it's not anything else I. Over 80%, sometimes over 90% depending on what you read, symptoms that you experience are related to stress, and most of the time you don't actually need to take any pills or have any procedures for them.

Final thoughts and advice on managing stress

So I would say to you that if you see yourself in anything that I was describing and you've gotten cleared, It's most likely related to stress. Don't feel badly if you don't know how to relieve it because you just haven't learned. And I do actually have some free short five minute videos on my website that you are welcome to try out in different ways to relieve your stress.

And you can find that at www dot stress-free And you can also listen to my podcast, the Stress Vmd podcast, and you'll catch Dr. Orlena she just recorded an episode. So make sure you listen to her on my podcast as well. Perfect. Thank you so much for spending some time with us. Thank you for having me.

Connect with Dr Robyn Tiger



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