“Remember detox, living is life free of toxic thoughts, people, habits, and then foods. Foods is the last part, right? Because how we deal with our own, what we consume mentally and emotionally is going to determine what we consume physically.” — Coach Gessie Thompson
In this episode of Stories from the Field, Oana Amaria and Jason Rebello sit down with Coach Gessie Thompson, a Nutritionist who founded her own wellness company called The Detox Now. Throughout the episode they discuss self-care, the trauma of racism, and ways to heal and loving yourself. Thompson shares her story about her own 15-year journey with fibroids and struggles with infertility, that eventually led her to finding healing, creating TheDetoxNow.com, and becoming a mother to Nia.
LEARNING HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS EPISODE:
- Her journey with Fibroids and infertility
- Living a life free of toxic thoughts, people, habits and foods
- Learning how to choose yourself and recognizing your self-worth
- Ways to advocate for ourselves both in the medical space and the world
Hear the Full Episode On:
About Coach Gessie Thompson
Fibroids Survivor turned Nutritionist and Founder of online wellness platform TheDeToxNow.com, Coach Gessie works with celebrities and everyday women daily to eliminate the health equity gap by educating and empowering BIPOC women and families with resources, detoxes, herbal supplements, programs, coaching and a community support system that helps heal and prevent inflammatory conditions such as Fibroids, diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility and more.
Results of her programs have included numerous women completely eradicating their symptoms, naturally shrinking their Fibroids, having miracle babies and more. In one breakout case, client Annalise Henry eliminated an MRI documented 50 Fibroids naturally through the comprehensive lifestyle medicine approach. Follow her @CoachGessie and learn more at TheDeToxNow.com.
More than 50% of Black Women over 20 have high blood pressure and many don’t know it. I’m very passionate about health equity and currently working on a campaign to educate and empower Black Women to take control of their Blood Pressure. Learn more at TheDeToxNow.com/RTP.
Resources & Links
The Detox Now: https://thedetoxnow.com/
Irth App: https://irthapp.com/
Oana Amaria: So Gessie, thank you so much for joining us. We are so excited to have this conversation. I know we’ve tried to connect for a long time. I have personally been very inspired by your journey, both as a health coach and as a nutritionist, as you know I followed that seaweed jerky tip that you had that I love now. And it’s a great snack. I’d love for you to share with our listeners more about your story because I know it’s such a powerful story of transformation and we love our stories of transformation at Firefly. So tell us about your journey. Tell us about the Detox Now and your company and how that’s started. I know you’re a ton these days. I’d love to hear a little bit more.
Gessie Thompson: Well, thank you so much for having me. My story really started with my own painful journey. My work started with my own painful journey. I am one of the up to 90% of black women who battle fibroids by age 50. And I learned that I had fibroids when I was trying to conceive. Actually 10 of the years that I battle fibroids, I battle fibroids for 14 years, 10 of those years I was actually battling infertility that was caused by those fibroids. And what I call my million dollar baby journey, really it included everything from 15 surgeries altogether, 10 of them were specifically five for fibroids and five were complications from those fibroids. And for those who may not know what fibroids are, fibroids are smooth muscle tumors that occur in and around the uterus. And in my case, the first symptom I had was that they caused infertility.
Gessie Thompson: Okay. And it also caused me to have to do IVF, in vitro fertilization in order to conceive. And by the journey, I actually had a miscarriage the first time we did IVF, which was devastating and it was really a time of such deep pain. And it’s amazing how you realize how many women after you experience it may come and say, “Oh my God, I had one too.” They don’t speak about it until maybe they heard you speak about it. And that also included five IVF cycles. So with everything that I went through after the fifth IVF cycle, we finally conceived again. And it was amazing. I mean, the birds were singing. The sky was blue. We thought this is it. That was just another stage of my battle, where at 21 weeks they told us that the fibroids had come back.
Gessie Thompson: And now after even at this point had had three fibroid surgeries, they had come back and now the baby was actually struggling for life because the fibers were pulling away, siphoning away the blood supply. And they said that I might want to consider terminating this pregnancy that took us 10 years at this point to achieve, 10 years. And as a woman of faith, I just said, “I believe in miracles. I’m not giving up on this baby.” And my family all came around me and in support. And we were actually admitted to the hospital three at 26 weeks or five weeks later. And they said to us, “Really at this point, we don’t know that you’ll make it more than say 72 hours.” But thankfully that became eight weeks. And to the tune of our daughter being born, our Nia Thompson being born between 32 and 33 weeks.
Gessie Thompson: And she is an amazing miracle. Her name is Nia and it means purpose. We say she was born on purpose for purpose and we with a purpose. And it wasn’t until I came out of that personal hell that I started to learn that fibroids is actually a pandemic. I thought it was just my personal health. But I learned that, oh my God, that’s when I started learning that it was like up to 90% of black women, 70% of women at large. So it’s a pandemic that disproportionate affects women of color and black women. However, it’s a pandemic period. And that’s when I started to say, oh my God. And Essence Magazine published my story, a profile of my story that went viral and women literally from all over were saying, “Oh my God, you’re sharing my story. Thank you so much. Your story has given me hope, you don’t know.”
Gessie Thompson: That literally, I always say when I birth Nia, she birthed me into this work as a health coach, as a health activist as now a nutritionist and founder of our integrative online wellness platform, the detoxnow.com where we really get to help women every day, who didn’t have the support I had along the way, in terms of understanding the knowledge of what they can do, what power is in their hands, to actually have better health outcomes, to secure optimal health with their providers, as well as control what they can with regards to their own health. And empowering them with everything from detoxes to fast, to nutrition plans, to supplements, to coaching, to support systems that help them to not be siloed, to close the health equity gap. Because we know that there are too many issues that happen because of us not being heard as people of color in the health system or us being dismissed or not being given the kind of attention and care that we need.
Gessie Thompson: So that has become my life’s mission and work. And it’s really a joy and it’s amazing, we get to… I mean, now I’m an auntie to so many babies. I mean, there’s so many now that, one woman was unable to conceive for 12 years and came and did one of our fasts and she and her husband together. And literally our first miracle baby, she was unable to conceive for 12 years. And now she has two miracle babies. We have women who’ve eliminated fibroids.
Gessie Thompson: I mean, one client eliminated up to 50, five zero naturally eliminated 50 fibroids through our balance program, which is again, it’s a healing system of it’s coaching, it’s nutrition planning, herbal supplements, and daily practices because we believe so much disease is lifestyle born. And when we attend to the root issue, which is a lifestyle of toxicity then we can reverse so many things. My ethos and my mission is helping people to power their what I call detox living, which is life free of toxic thoughts, people, habits and foods.
Oana Amaria: That’s powerful. I just wanted to throw this in there, because our listeners who follow us that miracle baby is authentic, Nia. That is all over our feed. And if you don’t believe she is made with purpose for purpose, you need to go watch a couple videos because that is a legit name.
Jason Rebello: Go sing along with her, go sing along.
Gessie Thompson: Speak up, speak up. Got it. So that’s honor.
Jason Rebello: Gessie, your story is so, so incredible. Thank you for sharing it. It’s an incredible story of triumph. And I love the, this kind of like never be defeated spirit. That was when I heard really power through your own spiritual practice and faith, which is a true gift. I want to connect some dots on what you just said regarding the challenge of a lifestyle born in toxicity. Are these root issues and in doing some just like prep and homework and discovering all the greatness that is you. I came across an article that you wrote. I think it was over almost two years ago, maybe like a year ago now in commemoration of George Floyd’s murder, not in commemoration of it, but honoring his life, honoring his life. And I want to read it and then open it up, a space for you to continue to share the trauma of racism. “Today we remember George Floyd and discussed the true pandemic plaguing our nation, racism and hatred.
Jason Rebello: We carry it in our spirits, souls and bodies. The stress it produces floods us with cortisol and as black people living in America, we were born into it and it has passed down from generation to generation. It affects us externally. The opportunities were afforded and the way others see us and treat us. And it affects us internally the way we see others, most importantly, the way we see ourselves. It threatens our comprehensive health, cardiovascular, digestive, reproductive, psychological and more, leading us to be disproportionately affected by inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, fibroids, obesity, and increases our risk for viruses such as COVID 19.”
Jason Rebello: And this is where it really connected with me. It’s time we radically love and care for ourselves. This we can and must do. We’re here for you. And I read that and I felt like it really encompasses this holistic kind of approach to healing. Not just the medical aspects, but all these other aspects that you pulled in that affect our bodies. And you called out specifically racism and hatred as one of these core toxic elements.
Jason Rebello: And I would love for you to continue to expand and share on even realizations or insights in this last year, two years of this pandemic because I see a lot of our community really starting to have more awareness around all these different elements and how it’s not just we can operate in silos as it relates to our health. But I would love to kind of create the space for you to share even expound on that idea of how as a community, we can really look at it from this holistic approach, understanding that it’s all these different elements that we have to figure out ways to thrive in and heal from.
Gessie Thompson: Thank you so much for sharing that. When we look at, I say that love is the ultimate healer and that begins with, of course our self love, our spiritual practices, but our self-love is very deep. And how that manifests is having to protect, having to create boundaries around, having to call up and speak up for ourselves. And it’s not never been more, but it’s so manifested, so amplified in how loud this was visible. And we could hear it and see it in this pandemic that we’re literally trying to emerge from. As a people, not only did we have to deal with the disproportionate effects of COVID 19 on our bodies, then there’s of course the economic crisis that was connected to. But there was this uprising, this racial uprising because of literally it was like, do you not see that the trauma of racism is something that we carry in our bodies every day?
Gessie Thompson: Literally it is, people often ask me every, I get this question all the time. Well, why are black people more affected by this? Well, why are black people more affected by this? Why are they disproportionately affected by this? And a lot of people want to throw in, “Oh, they just eat crazy or they don’t this or they won’t exercise.” I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. Let’s pull it back the covers here. And let’s look at why are we disproportionately affected by because we’re carrying that stress of the trauma of racism in our bodies every single day. It’s literally, I was talking client who had been, his colleague was reading the book, White Fragility and she said she read something and it said, how often do you think about race and racism?
Gessie Thompson: And she said, “I don’t really think about it.” Like she thought about, she was thinking about it herself. She was reflecting. And she asked him a black man. And he said, “Every minute of the day, I’m thinking about how I am being perceived. How am I communicating correctly? Am I saying…” Because how I’m going to be received is going to turn around and determine what I experience. What we have to literally name is the fact that this trauma literally it bleeds into everything about us. And this is why we cannot afford to not be radical about our self care. We of all people cannot afford. I’m watching this series right now. And it talks about black love. And it talks about how black love has to literally over and abound. And it really starts with loving ourselves, caring for ourselves, because there’s so much of a disadvantage that has been a gap that has been created by a virtue of what this stress has done to us.
Gessie Thompson: So I’ll give you an example. So stress is a chemical reaction. And when you are, what happens is when your body is in a fight or flight mode, your body releases the hormone cortisol. And it’s necessary for your body to heal or for you to go through something sometimes because your body needs it. The adrenaline pumps, your body pumps that and then you experience something called like a temporary inflammation. But that’s supposed to now have time to recover, so that your body now can recover from that and then return back to normal. But as black people living in this world, I’m not even going to just say America, but in this world, we literally are always in a constant state of radical inflammation. Because whether it’s macro, I’m looking at George, my cousin wasn’t killed, but George Floyd is my people.
Gessie Thompson: So I’m seeing that this could be my husband. This could be my brother. This could be my nephew, right? That’s the macro view of what’s happening. And that’s happening every single day. You cannot turn on the TV. You can’t turn on social media without being literally just attacked in terms of every day, the onslaught of these injustices happening, they’re happening all the time. And then there’s the, what about when it affects your home personally? Because somebody in your community has been affected and understand what that does, going back to that chemical reaction, what it does, stress is called an up regulator. And this is very important because whether it’s microaggressions you’re dealing with work, or because you’re constantly trying to… Remember we talk about how I have to work 10 times as hard as my white counterparts.
Gessie Thompson: So 10 times as hard I’m sitting here constantly in this state of inflammation, because I’m trying to work so hard to be accepted. I’m trying to work so hard to be approved. I’m trying to work so hard to have a seat at the table. All of these things, what they do now is going back to stress being an up regulator, that inflammation now it multiplies the impact of any negative impetus, any negative stimulants going on in your body. Let me give you a very solid example. When in 2014 I had one of the easy and one of the most successful and stressful years of my life. I had a lot of good things happening and a lot of bad things happening at the same time, challenging things happening. That year my fibers literally tripled in size in that one year. In a normal year they would just grow incrementally. So let’s say it was a three centimeter, it may go to three and a half.
Gessie Thompson: It may go to four. But because of my cortisol levels being off the charts, it went from three to nine. You understand what I’m saying? So now for instance, I have even a more recent example. In 2020 in the height of the pandemic, my blood pressure was very normal. In fact, I had optimal blood pressure, 110/70, even with all my health issues, meaning I’m a woman who, I’m a health coach. I have a lot of health issues that I’m healing from. And I’m taking people along on the journey with me. So here it is 2020 in the middle, like George, Floyd, everything, the kids are home. My pressure is going crazy. And I’ll talk about blood pressure and black women later, but crazy and I didn’t even know it, but I developed high blood pressure that was unchecked to the point where I developed a brain aneurysm, a brain aneurysm. Why? Because of how things were.
Gessie Thompson: And I didn’t know things were because it’s a silent killer. So again, like I said, we could talk about heart health later. But so I go back to that because let’s… So that’s how it showed up in my health. But then you got to think about how it’s going to affect you relationally, emotionally in your workplace. What we’re dealing with, it’s going to have outward external manifestations and inward manifestations. That’s why we have to literally be non-negotiable about our self care. We have to be non-negotiable excuse me, about how we allow ourselves to be treated. It has to be radical. And I say this, whether it’s in the work environment where, and we know if I say I have to call you out on what you said to me, I’m literally putting myself at risk.
Gessie Thompson: But look what my choices are here. Either I stand up for myself or I put my job and I put my job possibly at risk because I may not have someone who’s an ally at the table or I swallow it. And what do I do when I swallow it? I multiply that cortisol further because I’m swallowing the very toxicity and it starts to create resentment, self hatred. And then we develop other conditions, whether it be cancer to thyroid issues to… You see what I’m saying? So it’s very hard. And the one thing I say is choose your health because you know what? As long as you’re alive, you can find someplace else to work. As long as you’re alive, you can use your gifts in another way, choose yourself.
Jason Rebello: That so much of what you said resonates with me on so many levels. In my own health and wellness journey, I’ve had the various roller coasters. And it really wasn’t until this past year where I was able to really shift my mindset around my own wellness and health. And it was rooted in what you’re saying, which was self love. But what the gap for me or my challenge for most of my life, I would argue my entire life has been trying to overcome what we call like these core limiting beliefs about myself.
Gessie Thompson: Yes.
Jason Rebello: Mainly in that I am not worthy. And that core limiting belief kind of it’s finding a way to root itself in all these different aspects of my life manifesting certainly with my physical health in ways that just were damaging. And even knowing all the things, oh, fasting, oh, juicing, oh this, oh that. Having all that awareness and knowledge wasn’t enough to create sustainable change in me until I dealt with that core limiting belief, until I came to terms with-
Gessie Thompson: That’s powerful.
Jason Rebello: … I’ve not been loving myself. And the moment I decide to shift that everything about my life, including the way my body responds as a result of that.
Gessie Thompson: That’s critical.
Jason Rebello: I say that to say, and I would love you to share more about that aspect. That I think a lot of people don’t connect the dots with that missing [inaudible 00:21:17].
Gessie Thompson: So that’s huge. In fact, all of our programs, we always say, “Listen, if you can, coaching is really important or follow the videos.” That’s why we do so many videos of airing this information. So there are free resources, you can have hand on coaching, whatever it is that you need. Because remember the key for us is your practices. Remember detox living is life free of toxic thoughts, people, habits and then foods. Foods is the last part, because how we deal with our own, what we consume mentally and emotionally is going to determine what we consume physically. So when I see in a consultation and I’m looking at a woman who may be dealing with, maybe she’s dealing with fibroids, or she’s dealing with some other issue. She’s pre-diabetic, or maybe she’s dealing with something else or she’s having struggling losing weight. And say, okay, let’s look at what are the stressors in your life, right?
Gessie Thompson: What are the thought patterns that you’re having? And most of these people, you know what they are Jason? Most of them are high achievers. They are the A-listers. They are the people who are the go-to in their families and in the communities, everybody knows they will get it done. And you know why that is because they have literally, they don’t understand it. And it’s just what you were saying, that they are still trying to prove that they belong at the table. And when I say that it’s just self acceptance and a self-love that has been rooted. Now think about our generations. The generations before us, they were just trying to be alive. They were just trying to keep us alive. So it was, you got to work harder wherever you are. And remember, you can’t afford to do that. If you’re a woman, you can’t afford to do that.
Gessie Thompson: If you’re a person of color, you got to work 10 times as hard. So what was that message saying to us? That means it takes 10 of me to be as good as one of you. And that is a mess, even if we hear all the positive affirmations in the world. When I work 10 times as harder to be as good as one of you, what that does to me internally is undermining my self worth. It’s literally undermining my self worth. And it’s saying to me that I’m not as good, but I literally have to deconstruct that in my head and in my heart that you know what? I can say no to you, because I’m afraid to say no. I become afraid. I develop a poor relationship with healthy boundaries. I have no relationship with healthy boundaries. A horrible relationship with the word no, because I need you to approve of me.
Gessie Thompson: And so many of our high achievers are in that world because all they know is yes. And what happens? I remember this book emotionally healthy spirituality said, “Saying no, it may make you sad, but it doesn’t make me bad.” And that is something I’ve taught our clients over and over that you’ve got to love you because when you say yes to someone else, you know who gets the no? You get the no, because you say yes to everybody else, but you say no to yourself. And that means that the very yes’s that we need to give ourselves whether it’s space, proper sleep, opportunity to do the things that bring us joy to help recover our health and our healing. Being able to again, focus on those things that give us purpose, being loved and cared for and also dignity and respect, all of these things.
Gessie Thompson: When we literally, we put them, we subject ourselves to them because we need their approval, we lose ourselves. And it doesn’t matter what diet we do, none of that until we’ve learned that I’m enough just because I’m drawing breath, literally. I am enough because I draw breath. I am not more worthy because you say I’m worthy. I am not more worthy because I have a title. I am not more worthy because I’m making this much money. I am not more worthy. And that’s really important, until we’re able to say, I am worthy just because everything else will undermine our self worth. And that is at the root of us being able to live in a place of inner peace. We can’t live in a place of inner peace when we’re still trying to fill our tank to be made worthy and think about it.
Gessie Thompson: You’re talking about rooted self-hatred. It’s been rooted in, “You’re not enough. You’re too black. Your hair’s too curly. You’re this, you’re that.” All those things, right? You’re not so hard enough. You’re not even human. So of course there’s an onslaught of information that we have to fight through to actually come to the discovery, wait a minute. I am not those things. I am not those things. I am worthy just because… So the very fundamental part of healing, the most fundamental part of health and healing and including our mental health, emotional health is self acceptance and self love. And until we have that in a place where it is our root, we don’t need anything else to… What is it that I says, I cover the ground that I stand on. I cover the ground that I stand on.
Gessie Thompson: I don’t need you to make me whole. I don’t need you to make me worthy. And until I can stand in that, everything else will eat away at my worthiness. And it will be literally me trying to chase, trying to fill a bag that is empty, that is ripped at the bottom. Something that’s got a hole at the bottom and I’m trying to pour and fill it in. And understand there’s no judgment. When I look at our history and what we’ve been through, this is what it’s cultivated. This is what it’s created. I was listening to a song by India Arie and it says, “I am not my hair. I am not my skin. I am the soul that lives within.”
Gessie Thompson: And this morning, those words sat on me. And I said, “I love my hair. I love my skin. Yes, I am the soul that lives within, but I am all of those things too. I am my skin and I love my skin. I am my hair and I love my hair.” Meaning I don’t need you to just see the person. I need you to see who I am, all of me, exactly how I am and celebrate it, because I celebrate you in all that you are.
Jason Rebello: Yes. Love that.
Oana Amaria: Can I just share that Lauren Hill song that singing my life with his words, like I feel like you were singing my life Gessie was, just with the achievement, like you described it completely. And it took me two years to get on the other and maybe will never on the other side.
Gessie Thompson: It’s a journey.
Oana Amaria: Yeah. But just to connect it to the examples that you gave with your health. In our 30s, we’re like really trying to make something of ourselves. And I felt like I spent a decade more trying to find purpose and meaning. And then through that process, you go through all the stress and you know, I’m not going to detail out all the stress that has been the past decade professionally. And then I got so caught up in becoming and achieving. Something that I shared recently, I got to this point in my life, I’m turning 40 next week, So it’s like my big [inaudible 00:29:10].
Gessie Thompson: [inaudible 00:29:10] go girl.
Oana Amaria: And I found out I had early stage Hashimoto disease, which is a thyroid-
Gessie Thompson: Thyroid.
Oana Amaria: … issue. And so it’s amazing because it’s literally what you mapped out. I was so busy, not taking care of myself, achieving so that I can feel worthy. And Jason and I, we’ve gone through this huge transformation process as part of our own development. And we’ve created this great program called Level up Leadership, but it gets at the heart of healing with love. And it took me 40 years to get to a point where I say me showing up is enough period. Not me showing up with all my ideas or with my amazing presentation or with whatever the thing is, it’s me showing up has to be enough, because this is what you’re getting.
Gessie Thompson: I am the gift.
Oana Amaria: Yeah. And wow, I mean, I know you know, but figuratively speaking, it’s like what it took to get to that place. And my experience is nothing like the BIPOC experience in America or the world. And it’s just beyond powerful to get to the heart of something that is so profound as to what you shared. Jason, your story, I mean, it’s just incredibly moving. And as we think about where we are, so as I’m mom and I know Gessie, we share a lot of, you give me lots of great tips all the time. You’re way ahead of me in your mom journey. But like when we think about the health equity gap, the article just that just came out in the New York times today about the deaths of black and Hispanic women, it just, it blows my mind that we are still as the wealthiest country in the world at a place where maternal deaths upon birth has increased something like 14%.
Oana Amaria: So when I think about the conversation we’re having, it’s really about the real impact of what it caused us, if we don’t do these things. So I wanted to ask you, because I think this is a really big one. For women who are dealing with whether it’s fibroids or whether it’s inflammation, which is another big one or whatever the thing is, weight loss, hair loss, all of that is connected to other blockers. And they’re not being heard, they’re not being listened to. And I say this because my husband’s a physician and we talk about it all the time and I’m always pushing back on him. And thank God, bless his heart, he is really good at switching in and thinking like, “Yeah, is that the case?” I’m like, “Well, did that happen because she’s black or did that happen because she’s a woman?”
Oana Amaria: I don’t know. What do you think, right? And so what is the one piece of advice that you can give for them? Because I know as a mom, the closer I got to giving birth to Charlie, the reality of like, I could die here, hit me. And when you’re in the process of giving birth, you’re like, “I don’t care if I die, just like get this kid out of me.” But the truth that in this country, this is what women have to look at comparatively across the world. It just leaves me speechless. There’s no reason to be here as a society.
Gessie Thompson: Yeah. And it’s something that’s, because of the near misses, one of the things I didn’t share was that my heart stopped on the operating table when I was having Nia. And it was because of all the complications from the previous surgeries that I had, that looking back, I realized I didn’t necessarily have to have, now that I know. And black maternal health, mortality, and morbidity is something I’m very active in terms of helping raise awareness. And one of the things, no matter what the health issue is, and I’ve specifically purposely definitely share this with women who are on their maternal journey is that, I’ve coined this, which is called listen to your bae, your B-A-E, your bae. Now, your bae stands for your body, the B, your advocates and the E is your experts.
Gessie Thompson: And the reason I say listen to your body first is because there’re going to be a lot of times that you have to be, we have to be our strongest advocate and never stop advocating for yourself. So listen to your body as if… If we don’t listen to the whisper of pain, we will have to respond to the scream of crisis. No question. All right. Literally we have to listen to our pain. And when we do, when our bodies are telling us something, let’s listen. I always say how disease an oncoming train. And I say let’s change tracks before it comes too close, where it has to become a crisis. You can change tracks in intervention mode, whether it’s transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, that’s why we have a free detox living kit on our website, which is specifically full of like the free food list and different resources to equip you to now focus on the second P in listening to your body is prevention.
Gessie Thompson: So it’s listening to your pain and focus on prevention. And this is really important because too many of us are in reaction mode when it comes to our health. So if we aren’t proactive with prevention, which is that self-love and self care that we talked about. Proper sleep, using your food as your medicine and not your addiction, which is really important. But going back to Jason [inaudible 00:35:09] said, let’s looking back and peeling back. Well, what’s the real cause of why I’m treating food this way? What’s the real? Maybe it’s making sure we’re talking to a therapist, dealing with a health coach specifically to help us with that. And then there’s the A, which is your advocates. Now here, this is important because we have to have a community of people who we resonate. Their voices resonate. We resonate with them.
Gessie Thompson: And they hear us. We hear them, but they hear us. This is important, whether it is your health coaches to your sister network, your friends. People who you know, if you need to call somebody who has your back, they’re the people you trust. Because it’s like my husband calls them the board of directors of your life. So you have them in every area from your relationships to your friends, to your business, to your work. It may look different for each sphere. And there are people who like, Felicia she’s in pretty much almost every sphere of every board of my life almost. And then, so you’re listening to our advocates because sometimes they’re telling us something and we will not listen.
Gessie Thompson: I’m like, “Wait a minute. I have to trust that the voice.” Like that morning when I listened to the pain that morning when I had that headache, that was crazy with the aneurysm. And Lise just said, don’t ignore that pain. Yeah. She was my advocate. My husband said, “We’re going to the hospital.” And in the past I would’ve been like, “It’s a pandemic, I don’t really.” I was like, “Uh-uh (negative), I’m going to go.” Because I listened to my advocates and the E is your experts. Now, here are your experts. Number one is you got to be the first expert on you. Your voice, no voice is more important concerning your health than you. And that’s important because when we go to the doctor, as you said with your husband, I’m so glad he gets to hear your voice and your challenges, but too many times.
Gessie Thompson: And there are too many cases, especially in the maternal journey where a woman look at Serena Williams, her pain was completely dismissed. And she’s like, “No, I have a history of an embolism, pulmonary embolism. I take this medication.” And here she was literally one of the most powerful women in our world fighting for her life. What about the women who don’t have access to those kind of resources? When I had the brain aneurysm, the neurologist said to me, I can fit you in eight days, go home and come back. And I said, I literally had to fight and I said, “Listen, if you can get this pain under control, I’ll go home. But I know that until we get this pain under control, we can’t get my blood pressure under control. And if that blood pressure doesn’t get into control, it will cause this thing to rupture.”
Gessie Thompson: But I’m an advocate already. I’m a health coach. What about the women? How many women went home? How many went home? There are too many cases of women who are not listened to, and they’re not here to raise their children or they’re not here to do whatever they were purpose to do. So the experts, you don’t discount your voice. Don’t surrender the value of your voice to the voice of another very important, because if the doctor is saying to you and you still feel something’s wrong, find another doctor. I don’t have any [inaudible 00:38:30] go above their head. That means call out racism if you feel like if it’s something’s present, call it out in the room. There’s so many studies that talk about ethnic concordance and so many studies that talk about the impact of black maternal mortality.
Gessie Thompson: There are just too many studies to call it. Everybody knows it now. We don’t have to prove it. Okay. It is literally everywhere. So call it out in the room and say, “You know what? I feel like I’m being discriminated against. I want to speak to someone else.” Because now the accountability is, this is my life we’re talking about and I’m not going to let you dismiss me. How many women are dead today because they let someone send them home?
Oana Amaria: I think something you’re describing that’s really powerful that I think it maybe needs to be called out is also the role of how we have been trained by the medical complex in traditional medicine to not see the value of things like functional medicine, which is what you’re describing. Right.
Gessie Thompson: Absolutely.
Oana Amaria: And what happens, so for example, just back to your idea of like your voice, my husband looked at my labs, he’s like, “Oh, look at the bell curve. You’re fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.” He is a doctor. He’s a physician scientist. I should take his word for [inaudible 00:39:48]. I was like, “No, this is not okay. Whatever’s going on, this is not me.” And there’s right now, the way that it’s set up instead of creating this ecosystem where we support these different types of medical practices, functional and traditional.
Gessie Thompson: Integrated.
Oana Amaria: Integrated medicine. Yeah. And really what it does is our current system is like, it’s setting them up against each other because-
Gessie Thompson: Exactly.
Oana Amaria: .. he’s got his biases and he hasn’t taken one nutritional course in his entire medical career. But if this idea that like, but I know I have the authority. So I think the other thing that you’re describing that I want to say out loud is we have to learn, the power of educating ourselves on what’s out there based on not just what was given to us.
Gessie Thompson: Absolutely.
Oana Amaria: And not just what we inherit. Like you have to do the work to learn more. And we’ve shared a bunch of resources, even with our great unplug around like what you could do to learn. But I think that’s a big call out as to what you’re sharing that a lot of people aren’t aware of.
Gessie Thompson: That’s my, I was a traditionalista. I didn’t know anything about herbal medicine. I didn’t know anything about nutrition. And to the tune of 10 surgeries right later, and I was into full blown menopause at 44 years old. And I was a very symptomatic and now they wanted to put me on hormone replacement drugs. And I was at the point where I was like, “I know the studies show that it unfortunately can accelerate the development of cancer.” And I was like, I’m not going to go from fighting fibrous, fighting cancer. I know that I got to find something else. You know what I mean? And that’s really what sparked me saying, “Okay, what else is available?” But we don’t have to wait till we get to a crisis to be there. And that is why my thing is, let’s just start making number one, wait a minute, listen to the, expand the voices, expand that advisory board.
Gessie Thompson: That wait a minute. It doesn’t have to be one [inaudible 00:42:00] all. That’s why I say integrative, don’t tell me it is I have to do only traditional medicine. Don’t tell me I have to do only holistic medicine, because if I get hit by a car, I don’t want you to put some bird route on my arm. I want to go to the ER so they can set my arm. You see what I’m saying? But I also don’t want you pumping me with drugs when I need to look at maybe something like, I’ll give you an example. My grandmother was here visiting us 94 years old. And unfortunately she does. She lives down South and her diet was just trash. She came and I fed her holistic foods, whole foods plant, not all plant-based because she’s not vegan.
Gessie Thompson: But I tried to give her, I gave her a lot of combination. Three weeks and we’re and this is monitoring her heart health that she’s on all these medications. And three weeks in and her blood pressure’s gone from like the 160s down to like 108 top number, bottom number was like 59 where it was in the 90s before. And healthy blood pressure is 120 over 80 and a little bit below that is optimal and above that getting into pre hypertension and then hypertension. And she was like we said, I said, “No, before we take your medicine, let’s call your doctor so that he can direct you as to what you need to do next. Because if you take medication right now, if you take your high blood pressure medication and your numbers are healthy and normal, it can because you to go into a crisis.”
Gessie Thompson: Too low is not good at all. So her blood pressure, long story short, normalized, because as we changed her diet. It was simple as that. And she was taking like two different meds a day with the guidance of her doctor. So it’s not either or it’s and, it’s looking at what are the things that fit you? What are the things that you can do? One of the things that has been incredible for me is, I’m really working with the Release the Pressure Coalition, which is made up of the American Medical Association, The Heart Association, and some other key organizations to deal with this all hands on deck, heart health crisis for black women. Because as you can imagine the heart, cardiovascular system, it’s literally the more killer of black women is heart disease.
Gessie Thompson: And why is that? Because more than 50% of black women ages 20 and over have high blood pressure and many don’t know it. These numbers they’re staggering. And we’re not talking about just older women, 20 and over. So your millennials, they’re dealing with high blood pressure and don’t know it. And the reason they don’t know is because high blood pressure is the silent killer. So after I had my whole heart health ordeal and I found out, I didn’t learn about this until after I had the brain aneurysm and I was in my recovery. I was learning about, oh my God, it was actually brought on by unchecked high blood pressure. And I didn’t know it, like I said to you, because it’s a silent disease until it’s too high, you’re in a crisis when you actually become symptomatic.
Gessie Thompson: So we’re on this education campaign to educate and empower women because the reason they end up in this scenario is that they don’t know their numbers and they don’t have the tools to monitor them at home because we’re waiting to monitor them at the doctor. So what about when we say I’m taking the power back and I’m going to now, we want to normalize monitoring your numbers at home so you can stay on top of that before it becomes a crisis. That’s where that again, it’s many black women don’t have blood pressure cuffs at home. So we’re working to give away blood pressure cuffs and give away this information with the free heart health kit so that they know what pressure should look like.
Gessie Thompson: How do you take it at home? How do you measure at home? How often are you supposed to measure all of that? Because with the information you now can close the gap and take, own your power. And this is all about creating. I said something that got me, you were talking earlier, Jason was what about if we lived like radical self-love and self care was our number one success strategy? What would life look like?
Jason Rebello: Right. The other way I’ve asked myself that question in the past is what would my life be like if I let go of these limiting beliefs?
Gessie Thompson: Yeah.
Jason Rebello: Because I just truly stepped into my power and realized to your point that I cover the ground where I stand, just showing up. But also connected to a real sense of deep mission and purpose, for how we can support our communities near and far in this journey towards healthy and happy lives. I think that like doesn’t have to be anything…
Gessie Thompson: Life changing! Because I’m so healthy and whole, I show up in this world in a whole different dimension. I’m sure Oana when you came to the table said, “I’m enough,” you came with it too.
Oana Amaria: Oh Jason knows. Yeah. No. And it truly is life changing. And Jason going through his own journey to, we talk about this all the time. I’ve known Jason for a really long time, probably as long as you and Felicia have known each other. And boy, as Jason’s shown up in a way where I’m like, “Dang you, go rock star.” Like that reel that’s out there, it’s powerful to see people show up as themselves. Like, wow. Imagine if we could all be that in the world, imagine where we would be.
Jason Rebello: Love it. And we would love to figure out a way for Firefly to work with you and your team to do a shared giveaway or sponsor some of those kits. I think it’s…
Gessie Thompson: Well, the kits are free. So well the heart health kits are free. Everybody should come to the detoxnow.com, they’ll get those as well as our free detox living kit. But I would love to talk about how, definitely we can do a giveaway, I have no problem with that. But people think about, what does it look like to come to work your whole self and loving yourself? There’s so many things that try to disconnect you from who you really are, your real power. And what does that look like because I think that so many organizations in this corporate world, they’re looking for bots and they’re not understanding that, when they take the limits off by creating an environment that supports real wholeness and wellness that they create, what blossoms is amazing. It’s literally amazing.
Jason Rebello: And that requires a shift in mindset as well, that there’s that potentiality like what’s possible if I help on, if we create a system or transform system to allow for everybody to show up as the best version of themselves.
Gessie Thompson: Absolutely.
Gessie Thompson: Absolutely. So one of the things I would offer for anyone who is dealing with, you feel like I’m stuck somewhere whether it’s, I’m stuck in my health, I’m stuck in how to even think about my health. I know I’m not living. I don’t feel good when I wake up every day. I just feel like I’m not showing up as who I can really be. We have everything from free group consults on a weekly basis. If you just go to our website at thedetoxnow.com/gift, that is going to be your hub to get what we call our free detox living kit. And it helps you to find out what number one connect with who on our team will help you to find out what you need, whether it’s through one of our private consults or our free consults, et cetera.
Gessie Thompson: But I just want you to know that there’s so much more for you. There’s so much more for you. You shouldn’t wake up in the morning in pain. And the thing is, if you’re waking up in the morning in pain, or you’re waking up in the morning, sluggish, or you’re unable to get certain weight off, why? It’s because your body is telling you something. So let’s listen while we’re in intervention mode. And if you’re in a crisis, we’re here for you too, because we just want you to know that life, literally your body and your mind can live in this place and your heart of total alignment and joy when we are loving and caring for ourselves.
Gessie Thompson: And here’s the deal. When we have a lot going on and we’re in that place where we are the go-to person, you know what happens is? We are team everybody, but nobody’s team us. And this is what we’re saying to you. Come on, come over here, because you need your team. You need a team, Oana. You need a team, Jason. Because you are out here trying to save everybody else and somebody needs to snatch you up so that you can show up to be you for real.
Oana Amaria: I love that. Gessie, we typically ask people to give us their parting requests and you just did it naturally. So I’m not even going to bother. So you heard it folks, you need to sign up and be team you.
Gessie Thompson: Yes.
Oana Amaria: I’d love to end on this last question for you. What are you working on right now that you’re really excited about that you’d love for our listeners to know. We want to know. We’re all going to go get your toolkit now. We’re going to figure out how to give away blood pressure bands or whatever the resources.
Gessie Thompson: Blood pressure cuffs.
Oana Amaria: Yeah. Cuffs. There we go. Yeah.
Gessie Thompson: Go ahead. I’m sorry.
Oana Amaria: Go ahead. So what are you excited about what’s new or what’s happening or what’s coming up? I know you’re always up to something good, so give us the scoop.
Gessie Thompson: It’s funny because I’m literally everything that I have told you that I’m working on is stuff that I’m so excited about. I mean, I’m working on, we just released our show, Detox Living Show. Everything is at the website where you can look at it. And the reason I work on creating all these things is so it meets you wherever you are. So whether it’s, this heart health campaign is something we’re going to be working on all year long. And why? Because we want to give away up to 100,000 cuffs by 2027. We want women to normalize, “Hey, look, I took my pressure today, taking it for seven days straight in the morning and in the evening. And I know what my pressure is and I’m going to continue staying on top of it.” I want you to normalize everything from taking care of choosing and knowing, oh, it’s better if I eat…
Gessie Thompson: I’m going to start having fruit in the morning, instead of something that’s heavy in car, because I want to support my health system. “Hey, I’m going to start intermittent fasting.” Why? Because it allows my body to actually complete the processes of digestion that are so necessary for my body to eliminate waste that is literally sitting around waiting to create disease in my body. So I want you to know that really is what excites me every day. We’re coming up with new products all the time, because we’re listening to people, whether it’s a new, like we’re working on a new distress supplement because so many women are like, “I just need something to help me with my anxiety every day that is not a Xanax.”
Gessie Thompson: You know what I mean? Like I need something that, because we’re just listening and people are saying, “I need that, holistic options in terms of, for food.” So I know it’s not really specific, but if you’re following us in community, we’re always doing new things. So there’s not one big thing, not one new thing. There’s all these things that we’re working on all the time. And if you know someone and I didn’t say this earlier, but if you or someone you know has just given birth or you are actually pregnant, we’re really, I’m on the board of this organization. This app called the Irth app. It’s for birth without the bias. So it’s called irth, I-R-T-H app. It’s irthapp.com. And what we’re creating is it’s a Yelp like app specific for black birthing experiences for black and brown birthing experiences.
Gessie Thompson: And it’s important because while we’re working to change the system, while vice president Kamala Harris is working to create birthing friendly hospitals and all these things, we need to know where it’s safe for us to give birth. We need to know where it’s safe for our children, for our babies, to what pediatricians and hospitals are safe for us. And in the civil rights movement, there was a green book where they knew where it was safe to go get gas or where it was safe to go eat or to go to the hospital, because literally your life dependent on it. Well, these maternal numbers that you talked about are so critical, they’re so critical that we need to be all hands on deck with regards to sharing the information of where we’re getting good care and where we’re not getting good.
Gessie Thompson: Because when you look up doc reviews, they don’t tell you very culturally sensitive and great listening, very attentive to black mothers. They don’t tell you this because the reviews are all they’re catering to the majority, right? They’re catering to the, what do you call the majority voice, the dominant voice. And they’re not speaking specifically to our situations, but the only way we’re going to close that gap. So if you can do something for me, if you or you know someone, there’s two things, get the free heart health kit. But if you know someone who’s just had a baby, who’s pregnant, who’s their child is up to 18 months old, please have them go to irthapp.com and post reviews about their doctors, the hospitals, the pediatricians, so that people, it literally can save a life.
Gessie Thompson: It literally can save a life because that doctor that you go to can be the person who makes sure that your friend or your sister or your niece, whoever it is actually makes it out of birth alive. And many deaths happen in postpartum. That is why it continues to 18 months postpartum and also the care of your baby, which is a lot of mortality when it comes to black babies. So that’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart. It’s a collaboration I’m doing in terms of supporting the Irth app. And they’re actually they’ve been named by… March of Dimes is doing some work with them specifically as well. And if we can just save our sisters from their cardiovascular health and save our mamas.
Oana Amaria: And the babies.
Gessie Thompson: And the babies and ourselves, let’s not forget ourselves. Okay. We can have a [crosstalk 00:57:53].
Jason Rebello: So Gessie, this was incredible. And we will make sure that we link all the details that you just shared regarding the Irth app so that we can spread the word. And on behalf of the Firefly team, I just want to say thank you. True gratitude and appreciation for showing up with your incredible energy and for sharing all the wisdom and insights that you shared with us today and our listeners as well. Thank you so much.
Gessie Thompson: Thank you so much for having me. It was really an honor and it’s an honor.
Jason Rebello: Yes.
Oana Amaria: Thank you, Gessie.