Let me tell you about today’s show. I’m interviewing Cynthia Pasquella. Cynthia’s a friend of mine and just an amazing, amazing person. You will really love it. Today we’re talking about the three keys to creating lasting transformation and permanent change.
Cynthia Pasquella is known as the transformational nutritionist. She helps women who struggle with their weight and self-worth by using a method that combines nutrition, psychology, and spirituality so they can finally experience permanent change and radical fulfillment. Cynthia is a clinical nutritionist, spiritual leader, media personality, and bestselling author. She’s the founder and director of the Institute of Transformational Nutrition, the only nutrition certification program where students receive an in-depth understanding of holistic health through science, psychology, and spirituality to help people create permanent change in their health and life. She’s also the co-founder of SoCal Cleanse, an award-winning cleansing and detoxification company, and the best-selling author of The Hungry Hottie Cookbook and The P.I.N.K. Method. She’s a nutrition expert for The Doctors, the Doctor Phil Show, and the Today Show, and has been featured in popular media outlets such as Access Hollywood, E News Live, Fitness Magazine, Shape Magazine, and Marie Claire. You can find out more about Cynthia and grab her free toolkits for fast weight loss and spring-out-of-bed energy – I love that – at cynthiapasquella.com.
Cynthia, welcome to the show!
Cynthia: Hi, Evelyne! Thank you so much for having me. This is great!
Evelyne: You are so welcome! So I know I just read your official bio but what is your story? I know you have a very interesting story, let’s just start with that.
Cynthia: Sure! Yeah, it’s always so funny hearing those bios, by the way. It always feels so strange, I don’t know. They just seem so cold… Yeah, my dirty little secret I’ll share with you first, Evelyne. How’s that?
My dirty little secret is that I never wanted to be in this field at all. Ever. Period. The end. I never had an interest in nutrition, or wellness or health, or spirituality or any of that. It just was the farthest thing from my mind, but it kind of found me and I’ll share the story with you of what I’m talking about.
So, I’ll preface the whole thing by saying that growing up I was very, very poor. My family didn’t have a lot of money and we struggled to make ends meet and I remember things like we didn’t have running water inside the house. So we would have to go outside to use the bathroom and we couldn’t shower. There was no indoor plumbing. We had an old wood stove that we used for heat in the winter. And a lot of times we were so poor that we didn’t have money for food.
So I remember very clearly going hungry many, many nights. And so I didn’t know it at that time, but this was really sort of setting up my distorted relationship with food that was to come in the years following. You know, when we didn’t have food, of course you were hungry. And when you had it, you ate it because you didn’t know when you would have it again. So as I got older I kind of had that same mindset. It was this sort of “lack mindset,” and if it’s there, you consume it.
And it lead to many, many eating disorders. It only got worse as I got older. I had issues with my weight. I was working a job where I was going from morning until night. I was completely exhausted. I wished I would have had your Elevate Your Energy then, but I didn’t. I was really tired and it got to the point where I got really, really sick. I was about 25 pounds overweight. I was exhausted, as I said, from morning to night. I had horrible cystic acne on my skin and cellulite in places that I didn’t know you could get it.
And I also had these psychological things happening, too, as well as the physical. The physical were all of those symptoms I described, plus fibrous cysts in both of my breasts, and this pain and aches. It was like I was getting the flu every day and no doctor could quite diagnose it.But from a psychological and mental standpoint I was probably even more sick than physically. I was super depressed and I was trying everything. I wasn’t working because I was obviously too sick to work and the little bit of money I did have I was using on everything, Evelyne – like, the doctors and the trainers, and the programs. And I drank the shakes and I took the pills and nothing worked. I remember being hypnotized and using crystals and I literally tried everything: acupuncture, acupressure – nothing would work!
I never got any better. And if I felt better it was for a few minutes – sometimes a full day – but that was it. And so I had no money, I was essentially broke and I wasn’t working and nothing was getting better in my health. And so I was really depressed. I got so depressed that I was suicidal. And I remember one night, sitting on the floor of my little, tiny apartment in Hollywood, California, I literally had hit rock bottom. I was on the floor, in the corner. And I was sitting there and I thought, “I can’t do it anymore. I had really given it a good shot. I really have tried. You can’t say I haven’t tried. But I just can’t do it. I am mentally and physically exhausted.”
And the longer I sat there, and I was like, “this is kind of my fate, I get it.” But it wasn’t getting any better and I would think back over my life and childhood and things I had experienced – I mean, things I haven’t even shared with you yet, like domestic abuse and sexual abuse and all these crazy things. I got so angry during that time, Evelyne. I kept thinking, “Why me? Why me? Why am I going through all of this? Why doesn’t it get better? Why, on top of everything I’ve already gone through, why this?” And I was super angry. And the more I kept saying “Why me, why me, why me?” the more the answer started to become really clear.
And I realized that night that this was my journey and that I was chosen to be on this journey for a very important reason. And that was to help other people who were going through what I was going through. Because I realized that there’s no way I could really dedicate my life to doing something that I hadn’t experienced on this level before. I realized that I had to go through this in order to find my own way out in order to have solutions for other people. So I got it. And I got it in a big way that night and I thought, “Wow, there’s something here. This is my calling. This is my work.” And so I made a pact with the universe that night and said, “If you help me get through this, I will dedicate the rest of my life to doing this.”
And so that’s what I’ve done. I remember I went online that night and started studying and researching and you know, Evelyne, our dear friend Sean Croxton likes to say that he got his PhD from Amazon.com. So I got mine from Google starting that night. And I continued the work ever since. And we’ll talk about this message I’m sure later on, but I was able to pull together three different aspects of nutrition, of health, of healing, of transformation, that really made all the difference for me. And when I started putting them all into place, the weight fell off like it had never been there, the skin cleared up, the aches and pains went away. I had this vibrant energy – you’d be so proud, Evelyne. Things were just going right and so this is the message and the message that I’ve used with my clients now for over 15 years. We’ve been able to impact hundreds of thousands of women locally, millions worldwide. I’m just so honored to have been chosen for this work. So the work chose me and I’m so honored to be here with you tonight. So thank you for letting me share that very long story.
Evelyne: Thank you. Wow, I heard you tell it before but every time it just gets me. You know? So you coined the term “transformational nutrition.” What is transformational nutrition?
Cynthia: Yeah, that’s a great question. People always say that! Transformational nutrition is really a method that combines science, psychology, and spirituality to create permanent change in individuals so that they can live their best life, have this radical fulfillment, have the energy that fuels everything else, and live a life that they were meant to live.
You know, I believe that we were all meant for greatness. I do. I believe that we are meant to do things that we can’t even comprehend right now. But I often feel like our health and our mental health holds us back. And so transformational nutrition really works to combine those three aspects – those three cornerstones, if you will – to help people create that life that they’ve always wanted for themselves.
Evelyne: I love that, because that’s what we’re all trying to do, which is trying to get people to make a permanent change – not just to do a detox once or try it out a little bit, but really change their lives. So I love that.
Let’s get into the three keys for creating lasting transformation and permanent change. What’s the first one?
Cynthia: Sure. Well, the first one is science. And I know you love this as much as I do, because we’re sort of big geeks. Do people know that about us, or did I just let a little cat out of the bag? We are sort of nerdy, and we like all this science stuff. But here’s the thing. There are so many different science-based things that we know that are required to have optimal health. They’re basic, common sense things, like don’t eat fast food or processed food. Those are the key things. But even foods that we thought were maybe healthy, like whole grains… you have Dr. Tom O’Bryan coming on talking about how gluten sensitivity is impacting every area of our health. So I think that there is a huge body of science that’s emerging just over the last five to seven years, I would say, where things are no longer what we thought they were.
Plus there’s this big food fight. You and I have had this conversation before, Evelyne. It’s like, “Vegan is right!” “No, Paleo is right!” “No, it’s the Atkins Diet that you want to follow!” And I think what we’re seeing now is that those people still have their followers, and I think that’s great. I think that if a diet works for you, you should do it.
But I also think that what we’re seeing is people starting to transcend all of these ideas of this perfect diet. And the “perfect diet” is what works for you in this moment. And whatever that is, I feel like that’s what people should follow. I feel like now we’re starting to look at nutrients more. And a friend, JJ Virgin, did this food intolerance diet called “The Virgin Diet,” which even looks at healthy foods that you may even have an intolerance to. So I think the science obviously is important. If you don’t know what to eat and why you should eat it for your body, then you’re already a step behind the game.
Evelyne: Interesting. And then what would you say the second key is?
Cynthia: The second key is psychology. Think about this for a second. We are no strangers to diet books, weight loss programs, and books written about health. I mean, you have everything, as I said, from The Virgin Diet, to Wheat Belly, to the P.I.N.K. Method, to The Hormone Cure with Dr. Sara Gottfried. And there are so many things – so many books. I don’t think that anyone would argue that what we need in order to radically transform health and well-being in this world is just another diet book. And I can say that because I’ve written diet books.
Cynthia: But I don’t think that’s what we need. Clearly, we know what to do. We have great experts out there – people who are doing phenomenal work. And they put things together in these books, and they give it to people. And so we know what to do, but we just aren’t doing it. Why is that? Why do we know what to do, even to the point where we may be very ill? Right? I’ve had clients come to me who were literally knocking on death’s door. And they knew what to do, but they still weren’t doing that. And that has to do with all of these psychological triggers that have been imprinted in us even from the time that we were small, tiny little things. A lot of this occurred even before the age of eight. And then of course over time we have certain things happen to us or certain experiences, and it creates these neurological pathways in our brain that become very difficult to overcome. That’s why we have so many emotional eaters, and people who sort of go through the motions of eating, and they’ll eat a whole bag of potato chips and never taste them. We’re caught up in a cycle where that’s the only way we know how to deal with some of these psychological things that have happened in the past. So what’s really important to do in this respect is to figure out what those things are and work to unravel them so that, again, you can create that permanent change, because no diet in the world is going to fix your mental way of being. That does make sense?
Evelyne: Yes. So what are some of your favorite tips to actually do that, because this is something I struggle with myself, you know? Tom O’Bryan tells me how bad gluten is all the time and I still sometimes eat it.
Cynthia: Yeah, it’s so good sometimes, though. I think there are lots of different ways to start. We actually talked about this in The Hungry Hottie Method that I put together. But one of the things, the first step, is really for you to reconnect to where these feelings are coming from. So when you think “Wow, I really shouldn’t eat gluten but I’m going to anyway.” You know? Start really looking back at what’s going on in your life right now. Is something happening that you’re not happy about? Are you a little nervous? Are you worried about something? Do you feel less-than? Maybe great things are happening in your life, but you feel like you don’t deserve them. What a lot of people do is they eat as a way to self-sabotage themselves, or as a way to numb themselves so that they don’t feel nervous and they don’t feel afraid. And if they don’t feel worthy then they’ll eat and that sort of knocks them back down a rung or two no matter what their financial or other success. So they don’t necessarily have to experience it full out.
People love to say “You are what you eat,” and I don’t agree. I don’t think that’s right. I think that you eat what you are.
Cynthia: Meaning, if you are tired and you’re depressed and things aren’t going the way you want and you’re in this dead-end job and your real passion is something else but you aren’t doing it and you’re going through the motions, and you’re sitting on the sidelines of your own life, then you’re going to reach for the burger and the fries and the shake, because sometimes those are the only things that make you feel better, right? Or they numb that pain that you’re feeling, or at least that’s what you have control over. And even though you know it’s not the right thing to choose, at least you have control over that, and so you’re going to do something about it. You’re going to make your own choice.
You can’t control the fact that you have to go to this awful job that you don’t love every day. Some would argue that you could, but let’s say that you can’t control that — but you can control what you’re putting in your mouth. And so that’s your time to rebel and people do. So all of these psychological triggers build up.
However, if you’re coming from this place where you realize that you’re this amazing bright light of this being — this amazing person on this planet who’s here with a powerful message and a way to help others, and you are meant to do nothing but amazing, great things — then you eat the foods that are conducive to you doing that. You know, you drink the spring water, you avoid the gluten, you eat the fruits and vegetables, right? You enjoy them and you make it an experience that you really honor yourself by nourishing your body. So when I say you eat what you are, that’s what I mean.