188 Cynthia Pasquella-Garcia: The Healing Power of Entrepreneurship

Cynthia Pasquella-Garcia overcame extreme trauma as a child to transform her own life by helping others transform theirs as a phenomenally successful entrepreneur. Well-known to many as a celebrity nutritionist, bestselling author, in-demand speaker, TV and media personality, and philanthropist, Cynthia is the founder CEO of the Institute for Transformational Nutrition (ITN) and creator of the show, What You’re REALLY Hungry For. Learn how to overcome obstacles in your life for business success.

Melinda Wittstock:         Cynthia, welcome to Wings.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Thank you, Melinda. Thanks for having me. It’s really, really an honor to be here.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, it’s an honor to have you. I think what you’re doing in the world is so important. The world, to me, is transforming at rapid pace. It’s sort of like you’re almost going with it or not, and the people who are going with it seem to be just, I don’t know, accelerating their joy and their happiness, and their flow, and their success. And the people who are resisting it are not having such a great time. Do you notice that, too?

Cynthia Garcia:                 I have noticed that. It’s a very interesting trend these days.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right. It’s polarizing in a really interesting way. So you as a transformation expert, as an alchemist of sorts, where do you see that going? Do you feel that your work is having more impact than its ever had before?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. That’s a great question. I do and I’ll tell you why. Because I think for the first time in a really long time, people are very open to taboo conversations that I don’t feel like they’ve been open to in the past. We are talking very openly about pain, and about struggle, and about how other people’s opinions, and words, and actions impact us. We are diving deep into topics like depression, and suicide, and past trauma. And I love that. I think that that’s a really exciting time. And what we’ve all done up until this point, I feel, is just numb in a really big way, and it’s clear that that hasn’t served us. And what I … Even though things are chaotic, is probably an understatement, in the world these days, I have hope. I really do, because I feel like at least we’re all being honest now.

Do you know what I mean? I feel like at least now we’re starting to speak our truths, we’re starting to be open, and we’re starting to be vulnerable, and we’re seeking out, actively, ways to change that. So for me, that’s a really powerful thing. I’m super excited about that right now.

Melinda Wittstock:         I agree. I love what you say about the honesty. It’s incredible on this podcast where we’re talking about business, but at the end of the day we’re really talking about what’s going on in our hearts and our minds. The one pattern that I’ve seen with, god, hundreds of episodes now into this, the pattern that I see of women who really truly succeed in entrepreneurship and life, they’ve figured out how to transform their minds, right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. For sure.

Melinda Wittstock:         How to be kind of in the power of now, how to recover from all those limiting beliefs, how to figure out all this stuff, and it’s an endless journey, though, isn’t it?

Cynthia Garcia:                 No matter how far you go on this path, it feels like the work is never done. Not to be discouraging, but it’s actually kind of … You get to the point where, I don’t know, I’m at the point now where I just really enjoy it. Even when things are tough, I’m like, “Oh, this. Oh. There that is again.” I mean, look, you have to. This is a really funny story. I had kind of a situation, a breakdown, a breakthrough, whatever you want to call it, many, many years ago. And I thought what I would do, this is a true story, I thought what I would do was just go and get enlightened. And I thought, “I’ll do whatever I need to do. I’ll be a Buddhist. I’ll read Rahim Das. I’ll meditate.” I really did. And I thought, ’cause I knew, this was way back in the day. I knew nothing about spirituality, transformation, nothing, Melinda.

I knew I needed help. I knew I wasn’t in a good place and I knew something needed to change. And people, I kept reading about people being enlightened and how much better their life was. So I thought, “Okay, I’m going to just go. I’m going to spend some time. I’m going to get enlightened and then everything will just be fine for the rest of my life. I will be so good.” And that’s kind of the thing that pulls you in, but then the truth, the dirty little truth is that once you know, you can’t un-know. And you can’t stop the work, because what you know now is that enlightenment, which by the way I think is overrated, it never ends. There is no sage on a mountain point that you get to where everything else is just downhill.

So, it’s a blessing and a curse, that knowledge and that wisdom. But we’re doing it and that feels exciting to me.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s liberating in a way to know that happiness is not actually a destination. I think a lot of people go through their life thinking that they’re going to get to someplace, they’re going to climb some mountain, and they’re going to get there.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Then there, where’s there?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         There’s only … You can walk down the other side of the mountain, right? So …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         … and there’s only one view at the top.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         So this idea of a destination that you work hard for, you sacrifice … No, no, no. No, no. It’s more like you’re living a piece of music …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         … and it’s an ongoing thing.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. I think that we do this a lot. I think … I mean, there’s so many books written on happiness. People are like, “I just want to be happy.” But you can’t know how precious that light is if you’ve never been all consumed in the darkness.

Do you understand? It’s like you can’t experience happiness if you haven’t known sadness. You can’t experience this level of high and elation and just pure bliss if you haven’t experienced the lowest of lows and the struggling and the pain. You can’t know that.

So we think we just want to be happy, but without any frame of reference, then we don’t even know if what we’re experiencing is true happiness. Right? You’re right. It’s not an endgame.

The other thing is we tend to wait for one day. “One day, when I’m happy, I’ll do this. One day, when I’m thinner, I’ll do this. One day, when I have more money, then I’ll blank.” Right?

Look. This is not a dress rehearsal for your life one day. It is happening right now, in this moment, and this is it. This is as good as it gets. So be present in this current moment. Be here. Show up for yourself. Life is happening right now, with or without you, so stop waiting until one day, when you’re richer, thinner, happier, whatever, because that day doesn’t come. You have to harness that and choose, right in this moment, to have that – right now.

Melinda Wittstock:         I agree with you so … Sorry. I’m just going to pick up there. Cynthia, that’s just so beautifully said.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Thank you.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s interesting, though, how we do play this waiting game in our life. Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. Yep.

Melinda Wittstock:         Now, it’s difficult to succeed as an entrepreneur if we’re waiting.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Sure.

Melinda Wittstock:         Just to remind everybody of your extraordinary success and what you have built … I mean, it’s like … It’s an empire, and you are helping so many people. It looks like a destination. To look at you from the outside, you think, “Oh, Cynthia has it all.” Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Sure, sure.

Melinda Wittstock:         Okay? Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 I mean, I think we all do that, yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right? Yet, to see you with this massive business and so much ahead of you and so many people that you’re helping and so much value you’re creating, but you still have these peaks and troughs, as we all do, as we navigate through that.

So when you were starting out … ‘Cause this is an interesting marker for women who may be listening who are about to take the entrepreneurial leap or they’re on that startup sticky floor or they haven’t really gotten to revenue yet or they’re trying to get to their first five figures, their first six figures, they’re trying to crack a million, wherever they are on this journey … Right? They look at you and they say, “Oh, she’s arrived.”

When you were starting out at that same stage, did you have that same sense of, “Oh, when I’m at seven figures, when I’m at eight figures, when I’m at nine figures, oh, everything’s going to be fine”?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. 100%. I still have that thought.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yeah, that nine-figure thing. When I’m at ten …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, exactly. I feel like it’s always that next step. What I have learned to do is to be present and grateful in this moment. I don’t … I celebrate, Melinda. I celebrate the wins, because I didn’t used to. I think that women entrepreneurs especially, it’s another checklist. Okay, you hit five figures. Done that. What’s next? Six. Okay, done that. What’s next? Oh, get on TV. Okay, did that. What’s next?

Well, we never really stop to celebrate these huge accomplishments that we have, and we should. We should. That’s what it’s all about. Right? The journey is the destination.

I also think that … You’re talking about looking around at what everyone else is doing. It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” That is so true. Have you ever been really proud of something that you’ve done, and then you go looking around to see what everyone else has done? Or you’re feeling really great that morning when you get up and you’re super passionate about what you’re putting out into the world, and then you start reading the Internet, and you’re like, “Oh, but I’m not doing what she’s doing. I don’t have that.” Right? Comparison is the thief of joy.

The other thing is it is a journey, and I certainly didn’t start where I am now. I certainly still have fears every single day. I think if you’re not afraid, you should really question what you’re doing. I think that there’s power in fear and that if you can find a way to let that push you from behind, you’re unstoppable.

But I’m still looking to that next thing. I’m still channeling that fear. I still doubt myself at times, and I think that that’s part of it. Right? It’s all just a tremendous opportunity for us to grow and expand not just our businesses, but ourselves. Right? I feel like my business is really a direct reflection of me, and I’ll tell you – I’ll be super honest – I have noticed in my past, when I was shrinking, so did the business. When I was rising, so was the business.

So I feel like … I had a business coach tell me this a few years ago, and I didn’t really get it. I didn’t. I acted like I did, but I didn’t. But now I do. I do. Your business and the success of that business is a direct reflection of you and what’s going on.

So I think that’s just a really important thing to remember, and also remembering that no one starts at the top.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. That’s so true. I think it’s a reflection, too, of … When you say a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of what you think about, insofar as we know now – and even science is proving this out – that we are what we think. Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yep.

Melinda Wittstock:         Our thoughts have power.

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right.

Melinda Wittstock:         We can do this whole thing from The Secret and set these intentions, but if we have a counter-intention underlying that …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         … the minute out of your mouth you say, “I’m going to make a million dollars this year,” and then, two seconds later, there’s some little thing that says, “Wait a minute. What makes you think you can do that?”

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes, yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Catching that little voice and turning that around … and that’s a life’s journey, because we all have these different journeys. You get old enough – right? – and you begin to see what your theme is. What’s your pattern?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Our relationship with money …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         … or love …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         … or your own body.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. But, see, that’s the sweet spot, right? That’s the great thing. So when you get to a place where you can understand what your triggers are, where you can understand why you have those triggers … I like to play the “I wonder” game, right?

So it’s a really simple little game, and here’s how it goes: So if I … Let’s use the example that you just gave, with comparing yourself or looking at other people who are at different places in their career. I can be triggered by that. So I could, all of a sudden, be like, “Oh, why does she have that and I don’t? Why is she doing that thing and I’m not?”

So what I do is I play the “I wonder” game and I say, “I wonder why I feel that way. I wonder what else this is … I wonder what that is. Well, because I’d like to have that, too, because that’s a success I want. Okay, well, when is a time that you didn’t feel successful? Well, that time that I tried this new thing and it failed, and that was really heart-breaking. I felt like a loser, and I felt like I had no business being in business. I kind of felt worthless.”

You’ve got to be really honest. “I wonder when there was another time that you felt like that. Well, I remember this time when I was a kid” … This is a true story. I remember a time I decided to start a little business printing newspapers. Now, I couldn’t have printed a newspaper. My brilliant idea, Melinda, was to cut letters out of potatoes, dip them in food coloring, and stamp each letter like …

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh. That’s so beautiful.

Cynthia Garcia:                 You can’t make it up. It was such a disaster.

Melinda Wittstock:         I love … But I love it.

Cynthia Garcia:                 I’m, like, seven years old. It seemed brilliant at the time. I remember this. I was going to print the newspaper for the little town I lived in, and I was going to do it one page at a time, and I was going to sell them for a quarter. That was my thing.

I remember a family member said to me, “Well, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh.

Cynthia Garcia:                 “What do you know about business? What are you talking about?” ‘Cause I grew up in extreme poverty, and we can talk about that if you want. But it broke my heart, and I was crushed, because I wasn’t in this place of …

I mean, my home situation was a living hell, to be super honest, and I knew that the way out, Melinda, was money and success. I knew, in order to get that, I had to sell something. I had to make money. I had to do something. So it wasn’t that this person just was like, “Oh, that idea’s never going to work.” It’s that they took away my hope.

So when I play this “I wonder” game and you get back to the root thing, you’re like, “Oh, that’s why. I felt like there’s no hope for me to do that, ’cause who am I to do that?” Like you said, right?

So now, knowing that and having done that work and playing the “I wonder” game … I do this with every aspect of my life, by the way. It’s a coaching technique that we use in transformational nutrition. But every time I do that … So now, when I see someone, I’m like, “Oh, man, why am I not doing that, or what” … and I have those triggers, I can just become the observer.

I can say, “Oh, this is me, doing that thing again, and I’m not that little girl anymore. It’s okay.” Instead of just beating myself up for not being as successful as whatever, as … my videos don’t look as good, I can have compassion and care, and I can nourish myself and just give that little girl inside a hug and just say, “You’re going to get there. You’re on your way.”

So it completely shifts the way you start to look at these challenges, which I consider to be opportunities, that really come your way.

Melinda Wittstock:         All the clues are in our childhood, for the most part. I mean …

Cynthia Garcia:                 All of them.

Melinda Wittstock:         … when someone says something like that to you, we all have a version of that kind of crab pot – the crab pot…

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         … where they don’t have to put a lid on it…

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         … because the crabs in the bottom will always pull the one trying to escape…

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right. That’s right.

Melinda Wittstock:         … back down again. So you’ve talked a little bit about growing up in poverty, and it gave you something. It gave you the determination to get out of it. But there’s also a legacy, I guess, with that – all those attitudes that you think, “Oh, I’m not worthy of this” …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         … or whatever that is.

Cynthia Garcia:                 For sure. I mean, look, just because you overcome something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still affect you. Right?

The thing is, we don’t deal with the past trauma that we’ve had. We don’t deal with the pain. We think, “I’m over that. That happened a really long time ago. I’m over it.” We numb it, and we don’t think about it. We can numb it just by not thinking about it. We can numb it with food. We can numb it with drugs, alcohol, meaningless relationships, sex, gambling, shopping, you name it, right?

We’re just filling those voids. But when you do that, what you’re doing is taking … You’re filling these voids that are essentially hungers with things that will never, ever fill it. I don’t care how much food you eat. That void will never be full.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh my God. I mean, I’ve been through this in my life, so I’m just going to be radically honest here for a while. I, like you … Well, my parents were very wealthy, and then they lost it all when I was six. So you go through these things like … So I had this idea that, “I’m different from everybody else,” or …

Cynthia Garcia:                 For sure.

Melinda Wittstock:         … “I’ll never really be accepted by the wealthy people.”

Cynthia Garcia:                 Right. Right, right.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Then once you find out…

Cynthia Garcia:                 Or I don’t want to, because wealthy people are bad.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right, right. So this sort of thing started coming up. I had to heal that. But the numbing thing that you talk about is so interesting. I think I numbed it with competitive shopping in my twenties.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, as so many do.

Melinda Wittstock:         Like retail therapy, they call it. Whatever, right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         When I think of how much money that women waste on that stuff…

Cynthia Garcia:                 Oh my God.

Melinda Wittstock:         … they could be investing in themselves, their self-care, and their business. So there’s that. There’s all the kind of workaholism as well, like where you can numb with that. You can numb yourself on the task treadmill, right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         You’re running and running and running, and you’re ticking off things on the list. You’re getting a dopamine hit every time you check something off the list, but you’re still not advancing, even though you feel like you’re advancing, because you haven’t fixed that thing. It’s actually … The work is a numbing thing.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes. It 100% is. I mean, we are so hungry, and not just for food. Our souls are hungry. Our spirits are hungry. We’re hungry for recognition. We’re hungry for ourselves. We long to be who we really are, and most of us don’t do that, because we’re afraid, “Well, what would they think if they saw the real me?” Right?

Melinda Wittstock:         Right.

Cynthia Garcia:                 We’re so hungry for that truth of who we are, and we’re hungry for validation. So you talk about buying all the things, whether it’s the Louis Vuitton or the Birkin bag or whatever. Somehow, that validates us. Somehow, that gives us value. Right? Being on the task treadmill, growing a successful business – That’s validation. It means that you’re worthy. It means that you’re important. It means that you’re valued. Right?

We are all hungry for that, and we seek that out in different ways. But here’s the thing: The bags and the work and the success, those things will also never fill that void. You are hungry for that reconnection with yourself and the truth of who you are, because if you owned that and you saw how great you were, you don’t need validation from anywhere else or anyone else. Validate yourself.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, I love the web show that you do that’s actually called, so appropriately to our conversation, What You’re Really Hungry For.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         What is it, at the end of the day? I mean, it’s as simple as, yeah, we’re hungry for validation, for love, for acceptance. We’re hungry to have the permission, just, I guess, to be ourselves. Just …

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right.

Melinda Wittstock:         That’s so much what it comes down to.

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right, and you should stay hungry. That’s a … People think … Oh, see? See? Again, back to that story that we were talking about, just about enlightenment and all of this. I feel like it’s …

We seek out the endgame, right? We’re just striving for the destination, whether that’s a seven-, eight-, nine-figure business, whether it’s your New York Times bestseller, whether it’s that relationship, whether it’s the body you’ve always wanted. We’re just seeking the endgame, and it’s not about that, right?

Because, as soon as you get something, you’re thinking about the next level already, right? We are never quite satisfied, and that’s okay. I mean, that’s why we’re here, in this Earth school. Right? That’s why we’re here. If you didn’t need these teachings, then you wouldn’t be here. Right?

So we should stay hungry. We should keep striving for the next thing. Now, there are healthy ways to do that and better ways than others, but I’m hungry on any given day for 20 different things. It might be connection in one moment. It might be love in the next. It might be validation that I’m doing all right and that I’m showing up and that what I put out is okay, even if it’s not as amazing as it could be.

I might just be hungry for a cheeseburger, Melinda, but I am always hungry, and I don’t think that we should ever stop. What I do think that we should start is filling those hungers, filling them with things that we’re really hungry for, and not numbing them out and choosing the default – food, shopping, sex, whatever.

Melinda Wittstock:         So, so true, and it’s so tempting to numb out … I want to talk to you a little bit about depression, because I know that you have struggled with that, and so many entrepreneurs do. I don’t know whether it’s part of the entrepreneurial gene, if you will, or whether it’s just because to live an entrepreneurial life is necessarily to ride that roller coaster of the ups and downs. It makes you sort out your shit. I mean …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 For sure, for sure.

Melinda Wittstock:         It does. It’s going to challenge you at every step of the way.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yep.

Melinda Wittstock:         So does depression often go with the territory?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. It’s … Sorry, I don’t want to cut you off, but it’s shocking at how it goes … how much it goes with the territory.

So let me just say this: Mental health … So Berkeley, UC Berkeley, did a great study on this, and they published it in the Small Business Economics journal. They found that, when it came to entrepreneurs, that mental health issues either directly or indirectly affected 72% of them, which is huge.

Now, when you compare that to the general population … ‘Cause sometimes it’s hard to take that number and be like, “Well, what does that mean?” I mean, first of all, 72% of the entrepreneurs in this sample had mental health [inaudible 00:42:51] … That’s concerning. 72%?

But here’s the kicker: So, in comparison to people who weren’t entrepreneurs in this study, they found that depression affects 30% of entrepreneurs, while, for people who weren’t entrepreneurs, it was only 15%.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wow.

Cynthia Garcia:                 So addiction, in the normal population, 4%. In entrepreneurs, 12%. Bipolar, 1%. Entrepreneurs, 11%. ADHD, 5% in the normal population, 29% in entrepreneurs.

So it’s not even just, “Wow, I think that entrepreneurs really suffer from depression.” It seems like they have that more.” It’s proven. We have numerous studies that have been published in numerous journals – this is just one example – that show that. You see this.

As a matter of fact, we have a 30% rise in suicide in the US since 1999. 30% is crazy, and we see this with people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, who we lost earlier this year. There’s so many of them. Aaron Swartz from Reddit is another one, back in 2013. There’s so many, especially in the tech space. So it’s absolutely a conversation that we need to be having.

Melinda Wittstock:         Well, we do. I think when we fail as entrepreneurs, which is …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         … often …

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         I mean, honestly, everything’s a hypothesis until it’s not. So I think that the issue is that it’s so easy to take it personally.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Of course.

Melinda Wittstock:         You think, “Oh, there must be something wrong with me,” ’cause then you pick up Ink or Forbes and you see all these tech entrepreneurs that…

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right? I come from the tech world. It’s so hard. It’s so hard to succeed in that. It’s so hard to get the capital. It’s so hard to make sure that the timing works for you.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         You put all this investment into the technology, and you just don’t even know anyone will buy it.

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right, and heaven forbid it fail, right?

Melinda Wittstock:         It does.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Because when the work fails, that means you’re a failure.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, yeah. So this was the biggest issue and has been … For me, honestly, and almost every tech entrepreneur I know, we’ve all had more failures than successes.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Oh my God.

Melinda Wittstock:         There’s so many things. There’s so many stars that have to align, and, frankly, there are so many other, easier businesses to do.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         But I think the toughest thing – and I think you have to know, going into it – is that there’s so much beyond your control. So to take responsibility for stuff you can’t control is just foolhardy, and yet we do it. We’re like, “I should’ve been able to control the gods here.” No.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah. I mean, entrepreneurship is a dirty business. It is volatile. It is chaotic. You are on the verge of combustion at any given moment. That’s intense, Melinda. That is intense. We don’t get up and put a peg in a hole every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

There might be something wrong with us, to be quite honest. We voluntarily put ourselves in these situations, and, like you said, I’ve suffered from depression my entire life. I know better. I know better, and, as a matter of fact, the reason I do what I do was from a place … I got to this place, many years ago – gosh, 15 years ago now – where I decided that enough was enough and suicide was the only way out.

So I know. I mean, I’ve suffered with this my whole life, and, still, I still succumb to it. There are still times when the darkness comes in and it’s almost too much. So I try really hard to be proactive, and just massive amounts of self-care. I can tune into my body. I can do a little … a check-in and see where I am. But I’m not perfect at it, and you would think I would be, after all this time. But I’m not, and it is very real.

What I love – again, back to where we started – is that we’re talking about it now and we’re telling our stories and we’re telling our truth. It’s interesting. Depression is also … It’s so confusing for people, and it’s so hard to grasp. I’ve been in these dark places where … Just really suffering from depression, and people would say, “Cheer up.” But I’m not sad. I’m not sad. That’s not what depression is. Do you know what I mean?

So I think that there’s a lot of things. Especially for entrepreneurs who suffer from depression, there’s a lot of things that you need to be aware of. I think that, because we haven’t talked about this, because it has been taboo, because no one wants to share their pain and their shame and their trauma, we haven’t had ways to deal with it. It hasn’t been accepted, and it hasn’t been okay.

So that shame, on top of the depression, that is a very, very heavy burden to bear. Sometimes, for some of us, it’s just too much. Sometimes the world is just too much, and that’s unfortunate, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Melinda Wittstock:         So beautiful what you say. I mean, being able to talk about it and get past that shame. Because I can see that. That feeling like why me or … Right? Or that I’m somehow different. Or it can lead to all sorts of beliefs. And Cynthia, honestly this is so top of mind for me right now because I have a 15-year-old daughter who struggles with this. And it’s so interesting. All the different things that can cause it. Whether it’s a trauma in your childhood or … and in her case, an integrated medicine specialist found that she can’t process folate, or B12, or B6.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Wow.

Melinda Wittstock:         And there’s a direct correlation.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, there is.

Melinda Wittstock:         And so now she’s on ejections and … I mean, so the science and the care. Being able to talk about it is helping people.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, I believe that. And look, I didn’t always used to tell my story either. Because I was ashamed and I thought if they really knew the truth, what would they think and-

Melinda Wittstock:         Right, like your worst fear. Like, oh, they’re not going to like me, they’re not going to accept me, or no one will work with me, or I won’t get funding. I mean, there’s a zillion of those right?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, exactly. I’m a liability. Who’s going to fall in love with me knowing that my brain is trying to murder me every day of my life? That knowing that I am broken. Knowing that … So you don’t want to shine a light on that. But that’s the only way to heal. It’s the only way to heal. The more we talk about it, the more we can connect, the more we can say, “Me too. I get it. I know,” that’s where the healing starts. Right? We need to come together and have these open, honest communications like we’re doing. And when these things strike like the deaths of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, it’s a huge opportunity for us. And what I think … What I see happening is it renews the conversation and then it sort of dies down. But it’s almost like being a business. It’s never just a straight line shooting up to the right. It’s always up and down, up and down, up and down. But what you want is gradually over time for that line to go up on the right. And it’s the same way with these conversations around depression and mental health. That’s what I’m seeing is that even though it [inaudible 00:50:46] and flows at times, I feel like right now we’re on a rising trajectory. And so for me that’s exciting.

Melinda Wittstock:         It is. And Cynthia, I think of all the love and goodness that you’re putting into the world. How inspiring you are, how many people you’re helping. And how brave you are honestly for talking about this. I appreciate it so much. It helped so many people. All the women and men who are listening to this, who struggle with these things. Thank you. I mean, really thank you for talking so honestly.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, well thank you for providing a safe space to do that and a platform so that maybe sharing it can somehow make a difference. And even if it’s just in one person’s life, that’s enough. It really is all of us coming together to have these bigger conversations. It’s about you having the platform. It’s about me sharing my story. It’s really the work of all of us that are so brave to take on this endeavor because it is not easy and it never gets easy. I will say it gets easier for sure. I mean there’s still parts of my childhood I don’t share anywhere. And I’m pretty open about my story now and everything that I went through. But there are still parts that I’m still working through processing. And I think that’s the thing too.

I think that when we share our stories, especially as entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs, we have to remember to share what serves. Do you know what I mean? So if there’s something that you can share that can make a difference opposed to just sharing gratuitously, I think that’s what’s important. And there’s nothing wrong with sharing gratuitously and recounting your stories and healing from that. And there’s a time and a place to do that. I don’t … What I don’t want is for the message to get lost, I guess is what I’m trying to say. And anyone I feel like that can step up and step out and share any bit of that darkness, they’re my hero. They really are. They’re really, really special humans. And they are powerful examples for all of us, I think.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. And I think also too, as women, collaborating, and co-creating, and helping each other along the path is so, so important.

Melinda Wittstock:         So one of the things that I am finding transformational and am seeking to create that transformation for other people as I know you are too together with JJ Virgin. You brought us together into this magnificent thing called the Unicorn Club. Which it feels such a privilege to be part of. To actually get together and really not only work on our business things together, but just feel that love and support from peers.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s so transformational isn’t it?

Cynthia Garcia:                 It is. And truly, I mean science has shown this. Our levels of oxytocin rise when we’re together. Its’ critically important. I mean, it’s great for balancing your hormones, boosting serotonin, all of these things. So when we feel good, it’s because there’s actually a chemistry that’s happening that’s allowing that, right? And this is one of the things we focus on with transformational nutrition. And I keep saying that so let me just say quickly, that transformational nutrition is really the scientific study of human health and wellness on multiple levels including the biological, the psychological, and the spiritual areas of life. It’s a method of personalized nutrition that really moves us beyond food and physical symptoms to explore and really uncover those root causes of dis-ease and unhappiness. So that people can finally live fuller, more fulfilled lives.

That’s what we’re talking about here. So when we kind of go down … And when we think about health in that way as truly transformative. It’s not just what you eat or if you work out that day. It is connecting with others. It is creating a spiritual ritual. Now whether that includes religion or not is up to you. What I’m talking about here is connection. Connection with others, connecting with yourself, connection with the environment, connection with something higher if you so choose. We have to nourish and feed all parts of ourselves if we truly want to transform into the very best version of us. This is how I live my life because I realize a long time ago that food is not going to fix us. It’s not about the food. It’s never been about the food. It will never be just about the food. There is a deeper hunger as we’ve been talking about that we are all seeking to fill. And we have to do that not just with the science of nutrition and biology, but from a psychological perspective. And this is where healing those past traumas that we’ve been talking about and really cultivating a strong, mental environment comes into play. And you have this foundation then for all of that in spirituality in connection with others. Does that make sense?

Melinda Wittstock:         It does. It makes complete sense. All these things are connected.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, they are. But we don’t always treat them that way. And we don’t always focus on them in that way. It’s usually one thing or the other. And then we wonder why we’re falling short. You can’t stick to a diet if your mindset isn’t right. You can’t follow a spiritual practice if you’re eating junk food. You’re trying to put 1000 bolts of electricity through a 40 watt vessel. It doesn’t work that way. We tend to just pick and choose one of the three. The biological, the psychological, or the spiritual. When in reality, it’s about cultivating all three at the same time. That’s transformation.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes, it truly is. I love the work that you’re doing, Cynthia. And I want to know … We were talking before that there’s always something next. There’s always a bigger vision. Where are you taking everything you’ve done? What’s next for you?

Cynthia Garcia:                 Gosh, that’s a big question. I’m doing a lot right now with the Institute of Transformational Nutrition because as I said earlier, I didn’t really share my story but … Again, over 15 years ago, I found myself on the cold floor of my tiny studio apartment in Los Angeles. And I had a handful of pills and I just made the decision to end my own life. I had been very, very sick up until that point. That morning I hopped in the shower, found lumps in both of my breasts, and that was my breaking point. That’s the day I hit rock bottom. And for months, I had tried everything, Melinda. I worked with doctors, trainers, nutritionists, I did energy healing, body work, I popped the pills, I drank the shakes, nothing worked. And so I got to a point where I felt hopeless and worthless. I felt defeated. I thought the only way out was to take my own life.

And I mentioned I had suffered from depression my entire life. And these health issues had created a dark hole that I just couldn’t climb out of this time. So I was resigned to my fate and I was okay with it. I thought, “You know what? They can’t say I didn’t try.” They can see where my money went. I was also broke at the time, by the way. I couldn’t work because I was so sick I couldn’t remember anything. I was overweight, I suffered from brain fog, chronic fatigue, and nothing was fixing me. So I thought they can’t say I didn’t try. The longer I became resigned to my fate I thought, “Why me? Why me?” And I started to get really angry, Melinda. I was angry at the people I went to that didn’t help me. I was angry at myself for getting there. I was angry at God.

And I’d been through incredible challenges my whole life. I mentioned that I grew up in extreme poverty. We had no running water, there was no indoor plumbing. There was one old wood stove that heated our home. I remember going hungry many nights. In fact, I was just thinking about this because I’m writing a new book. And I was remembering a time when I was just maybe seven years old, six years old. And I went to the cupboard because I was hungry. And I couldn’t find my parents. I’m not really sure where they were. And then my memory doesn’t serve me. I don’t remember. But I opened the cupboard and there was an onion skin and a rotting potato. And that was it. And so my home was filled with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, domestic abuse. My father tried to kill my mother in front of us. I was sexually abused the first time starting when I was six years old.

So the point of this is that night when I’m on the floor, and it’s cold, and it’s dark, and I had a handful of pills, I just thought, “I have been fighting my entire life and I am so sick of fighting. I’m so sick of this. I cannot do it anymore. And that’s when I had my aha moment. That was my rock bottom. And that’s when I heard this voice say, “It’s not happened to you. It’s happened for you.” And so from there I thought, “What?” And I realized in that moment that it was happening for a reason. That I was going through this for a reason. And I knew what I needed to do. I knew that I needed to overcome these health conditions. I had no idea how I was going to, but I knew I had to.

And so I made a deal with God that night. I don’t know if you’re supposed to do that or not, but I did. And I said, “I will commit to doing this. I will share my life, my work. I will help others heal. If you open the door, I’ll walk through it.” And what I did, Melinda, was I went to Google and I was so grateful for Google in that moment. I knew nothing about nutrition by the way. I didn’t know a protein from a carb. But I found a nutrition certification program online. I didn’t have any money so I put it on three different credit cards because I was investing in the only thing I had left to invest in. And that was me.

And so this is how my studies began. And this began a very long process of healing my own body, working with clients. And this is how I developed this method of transformational nutrition. And I went on to use this with numerous celebrities, I’ve written best-selling books, I’ve been on TV all over the globe, I’ve worked with Dr. Phil, and The Doctors, and Khloe Kardashian on her show. Which is great. And I don’t say that to impress anyone. But rather just to impress upon you the turning point for me. And that was this program. So I knew after I had done this, I had the success, I proved the method. I knew the method worked. So many people are getting results with it. I decided to share with others. I knew that was the next right step.

And that’s when I created the Institute of Transformational Nutrition. So now I coach other people on how to do this because I’ve done it and I know what works. It’s a system. You can’t mess it up. You don’t have to … It removes all the fear from coaching and helping people because so many of us are pulled to that. We’re so pulled to helping people and giving back and taking away their pain. So I created a business system because I knew now how to do these things because I had done it. And so that’s what we do at the Institute of Transformational Nutrition. And like I said, we just came out of this huge project where we created a second masters program. We’re officially accredited and approved now as a school with the state and federal government. So I’m so excited. And what’s next is really now getting this out into the world. And maybe as you would say giving it wings so it can fly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, I’m so moved. I honestly … It’s hard to speak. I just feel so much love and gratitude, Cynthia, for you and what you’ve been through. And in that moment, hearing that voice. It’s for you. Not to you. How powerful.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, it changed my life. I mean, you can call it a aha moment or a coming to Jesus moment or a voice from God. Whatever. I call it my turning point. It was the wake up call.

Melinda Wittstock:         And you asked for help.

Cynthia Garcia:                 I did.

Melinda Wittstock:         You asked for help, you asked for inspiration, you asked for the door to be opened. This story is actually a relatively common story for people who are really successful.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah, way more common than I think most people think. And i was asking for help because what I was trying to do before, Melinda, was everything on my own. And yes, I went to people and I went to experts and I did all of these things, but it was I, I, I doing this. I was trying to make these things happen. It was clear that that was not going to be the case. And so I’m very much a control freak. Because for me when I was little in such a volatile home. Safety, like “controlment” safety… And so if I could control the situation, I was safe. And so that led to me trying to do that throughout my entire life. And so what I had been trying to do was to control, control, control. Right? I’ll control my health, I’ll control who I go to for help. I’ll go …

And what I needed to do … And this was the lesson that came with that moment that night. That just rock bottom, was surrender. Surrender to something bigger. And let the message come through you, not from you. I let my ego get in the way. I thought I knew better. I thought I got this, I can do this, I’m a survivor, I can do anything. And I didn’t have it. And I couldn’t do it. But would I surrender to something bigger than myself and I finally just said, “Fine. I give up. I give up.” That’s when that greater power really came through me. And I notice that even to this day, even to this day if I am trying to hold on too tight, or if I’m trying to control something too tight, or I’m trying to force something and make it work, it never does. Never does. It’s always listening to that intuition, that voice inside, that voice from beyond. That’s what is always the turning point for me and so I think that’s a big lesson for many of us to learn. Especially as females and especially as entrepreneurs. Is sometimes we have to surrender to something greater than ourselves and trust in our inner knowing.

Melinda Wittstock:         And that’s really when we become an instrument rather than a doer. I think that’s the difference between a human being and a human doing.

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right. I mean that’s-

Melinda Wittstock:         Truly transformational.

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right. That’s what I was going to say. That’s transformation. That’s when you truly transform. And you said this earlier. It’s when we’re faced with those challenges. The challenges are really what drive us. And I think that that’s a really important thing to remember. And to always remember it’s happening for you, not to you. I firmly believe that everything that happens is preparing you for the thing that’s going to happen down the road. We have to get through the small things before we can handle the big things.

My little daughter was baking and she was baking pretzels of all things. She’s learning to cook. She went to a cooking camp and she is in it to win it. And so she was baking pretzels. And I just knew, Melinda, I felt it. I was like, “Oh, she’s going to get burned.” And she did. Bless her little tiny, precious heart. And this little, tiny blister popped up. And I said, “Baby, that’s okay. You were made to do hard things. And we get the little burns when we’re young so that we avoid the big burns when we’re older.”

Melinda Wittstock:         Beautiful.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Yeah.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful.

Cynthia Garcia:                 And she got it. And she was like, “Oh, yeah. I could totally see not burning both my hands on a pot one day because I didn’t understand what that was when I was younger.” And we’re no different. We’re no different. I mean, she’s seven and we’re not. But we’re still in different stages of growth, and learning, and development. But if we learn those small lessons along the way, they prepare us for the big things that are coming down the road.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, so beautifully said. I have goose bumps, which I’ve had through much of this interview. Cynthia, thank you so much. And I know you have a very generous gift to … For everybody that’s listening today. Plus, a little bit about the hungry method. It’s a six week program.

Cynthia Garcia:                 That’s right. It’s a six week program. It’s all online. It’s videos, audios, worksheets, guides. And it really helps you to get to the core of what you’re really hungry for. So it’s based on the principles of transformational nutrition. And so we look at things, again, biological, psychological, and spiritual, to really help you feed your deepest hungers. To help you transform into who you’ve been wanting to be. To help you realize that the path that you’re on is perfect and right and that this is it. Right? And so we had great success with this. I’ve used this with celebrity clients, and the official nutritionist for Khloe Kardashian’s show. And we used it with all of their participants. And it was just so transformative.

We’ve had … Gosh, I think over 25,000 people go through it. And I wanted to offer it to your audience today. It’s a program that we sell, but I want to give you all free gifts because I support women entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs have my heart. Women in general have my heart. But, man. When you as a woman step up and you own your business, and you run it, and you set that example, I’m inspired by you. So if I can give back in any way, and I can serve you, and I can help you understand those hungers so that you can feed them and do even bigger work in the world, I want to do that. I mean, this is my mission, this is my purpose. So you can grab it for free. You can just go to cynthiagarcia.com/wings. And as you’re always saying, Melinda, I hope it feeds you and I hope that it helps you to fly.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh, thank you so much for your generosity in that. I know it’s transformational. And gosh, Cynthia. Thank you so much for putting on your wings and lifting us all up so high today. So inspiring. Thank you so much.

Cynthia Garcia:                 Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s truly a pleasure to connect with you any time.


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