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Move With Deb the Podcast

Feb 12, 2021

Hi! In this introduction episode I share a little bit about my background as a bodyworker, former plus size fashionista, fat activist and new my work as a pain recovery coach.

You'll hear my story of osteoarthritis knee pain and how I discovered my new paradigm about neural circuit theory pain, my introduction to Dr. Sarno and the Curable app.

Find out more about my Fear Brain & Chronic Pain recovery program at

Transcript - 

Welcome to Move With Deb. I'm Deb your friendly neuroplastician. And this is a podcast that explores the relationship between the body and the mind from a health at every size, judgment, free perspective. I teach you how developing a new internal conversation based on curiosity, self friendship and simple neuro-plasticity techniques can rewire your bodymind out of pain and emotional overwhelm to help you build the rich full life that you want to live. Disclaimer, this is not a replacement for medical care.

[00:00:50] Hello, and welcome to the move with Deb podcast with me, Deb Malkin. So I am a pain recovery coach. At least that's what I'm calling it now. And my primary mission is to teach people about the relationship between their brain, their mind, their body, their nervous system and how most pain is understood to be a problem of the body.

[00:01:25] I'm a body worker, now trained in pain, science education and a life coach. I used to work in plus size fashion. I owned a store called Re/Dress NYC back in the day in Brooklyn and I spent many years active in the fat liberation movement. I also studied restorative exercise, biomechanics with Katie Bowman. of, move your DNA and nutritious movement fame. 

[00:01:52] I am a Vodder trained lymphatic therapist as well as a certified massage therapist. My bodywork practice, uh, is focused on creating accessible judgment, free bodywork.  For folks who usually did not feel like they had access to traditional wellness spaces.

[00:02:13] I am a recovering perfectionist, among many things. And I am what I call a high somaticizer  which means I feel my thoughts very acutely, which is not the most fun. But it is helped lead me to understand the physiology of pain in a very personal and powerful way, which then helps me help other people get rid of their chronic pain and overwhelm.

[00:02:40] I currently have an eight week program that teaches the latest science around neurocircuit pain, as well as supportive, personalized coaching. Which is really just a fancy word for having conversations to practice these skills in real time. So far, my clients have found relief of decades, of migraines, years of back pain and fatigue.

[00:03:04] And we're just getting started. I'm so excited to share my belief that chronic pain is solvable. That it's a signal for attention, not damage. 

[00:03:16] So, I guess my story around learning the new neuroscience of pain, that's kind of what I'm calling it, um, starts when I was having very intense knee pain, um, back in September of 2000 and 19.  I had on and off relationships with knee pain over the years, I tore my meniscus on my left knee, had surgery. It still took about two years,  for it to heal. It actually now, that I understand pain and healing. I would actually say it took me two years to become pain-free. Which is not the same thing as healing.

[00:04:06] I believe that my tissues healed long before the pain signal stopped. Um, so I was working as a body worker. I had climbed Kilimanjaro with an amazing group of plus size women called the Curvy Kili Crew. And, um, I had been wanting to do more hiking and I was just having this knee pain that would not go away.

[00:04:34] And it was very, very distressing to me.  It was interrupting my ability to work. It was interrupting my hobbies and things that I like to do to take care of myself. And at 50. I thought, well, I might be heading towards a knee replacement and I have a lot of people in my life who have had joint replacements and some people who have had very scary and negative experiences with joint replacement surgery.

[00:05:14] And, um, so that was very worrisome for me. And I also thought, well, I'm only 50. And of course I'm fat. So I'm thinking, well, all of the stories that go with that, this is my fault. Um, I should lose weight. And then I also had this biomechanics history and my own training to climb mountains. And that also told me, well, I couldn't be in this weight and not have knee pain.

[00:05:43] So it was a very confusing jumble of thoughts and feelings and fear. Had a lot, a lot of fear. Looking back now only a tiny portion of it was I really allowing to show up, but I had a lot of fear and I think it was through a friend that I learned about the curable app. And then I learned about the work of Dr. Sarno. 

[00:06:17] I read his book, the mind, body prescription. And I got started with the curable app and anybody who knows me. I usually jump into things with both feet. So I was like all in.  The moment that I understood that the pain that I was feeling in my knee could be driven by my thoughts and feelings and fears, my unconscious experience. And that, that was in fact, what was creating the sensation of pain that I was experiencing. As soon as I heard that, I was like, well, let's try this out. Let's examine this idea. Oh, I forgot to say, I also had gone to the doctor. Had gotten x-rays of my knee. And they told me that I had osteoarthritis that it was, um, kind of mild to moderate, moderate osteoarthritis. And some of it was erosive. 

[00:07:25] I could go look it up and get the details, but that was not a surprising finding, but I heard this new information and I decided to take myself for a walk with the idea that, what I needed to do was tell my knees that they were okay. And I took a walk with a friend's dog through my neighborhood,  looking at the pretty flowers of the neighbor's houses while I'm walking this dog, I'm having a conversation with my knees and it kind of went like, all right, me, this book, and this app tells me there's nothing wrong with you.

[00:08:05] And my knee was like, well, I know you are always looking for what's wrong because my biomechanics background was, was I was like training my brain to always be evaluating my alignment.  What I didn't realize that I was actually doing teaching my brain to scan and interpret any nociceptive input as being dangerous as needing to be fixed, changed or altered.

[00:08:39] So my knee said to me, well, you're the one stressing me the fuck out. And I was like, oh wow. That's not what I want to be doing. So how do we not stress you out? Then it was like, maybe, you know, I'm going to tell you you're okay. And then my knee  is like, well, but I don't believe you. I was like, oh, all right.

[00:09:07] You don't believe what, what I'm saying. Well, I'm going to tell you that you can trust me. And then that was such a deep wound. Like I could, I mean, you can hear me now. I could feel such huge emotion. Well, up when I kind of asked my knee to trust me in what I was telling it. And then I was saying that I know that you're okay, that we're going to be okay together.

[00:09:39] And I took this walk and I just kept telling my knee that he could trust me and that we're okay. And any time then it could, it, it wanted to be like, I don't know this crack in the sidewalk, or I don't know this we're walking a lot. Um, and I just kept repeating that we're okay. And that you can trust me.

[00:10:01] And then slowly through this walk and it was at this very moderate pace, the tension in my quadriceps and behind my knee caps relaxed. And the more that I felt that relaxation, the less pain I felt, the less pain I felt, the more emboldened I felt about the message being true, that I could trust myself.

[00:10:26] And that was this very essential life altering experience with my body. And I woke up the next day in 80%, less pain. Whereas I had been waking up in the mornings and having a lot of difficulty, lot of pain, getting out of bed, walking to the bathroom, excruciating pain. I woke up the next day in a lot less pain.

[00:10:52] And then I went to my work day, which was massage. I stand, I move a lot and I work on lots of people. And by the end of the day, I was in 95% less pain. Because throughout that time, while I was working, I changed the messages that I was delivering to my body. Whereas I used to spend time while I was working kind of scanning my biomechanics, scanning my body for the proper alignment, always judging and scrutinizing. In a way that I believed was helpful, but it was not received by my nervous system as helpful. My own life, my own family history, my experience growing up fat has given me a lot of belief around what's happening in my body and trust was definitely not a strong belief that I had. 

[00:11:56] And so my biomechanics education wasn't offering me this idea of peace. I was using it as a tool to become perfect, to do things the right way, all in service of my getting stronger feeling better. It was all for the right reasons. But they were not the right messages to deliver to myself. And so what I have learned through this work is that my nervous system listens on that internal level.

[00:12:29] So you may be saying words that sound helpful. But what I was really offering to my body, into my nervous system were messages that were very critical, that were fear-based and that created a relationship of danger and,  high alert. So when I took this walk and then the next day when I went to work, I really focused on delivering messages of safety, calm and okayness that no matter what I felt I was okay. 

[00:13:03] And then my pain changed and it changed very, very quickly, more quickly than say rehabbing, my knee in physical therapy would, or, or resting would. So my pain experience was clearly not related to the condition of the tissue, of the joint, of the muscle. None of those things changed overnight. I did not miraculously lose weight overnight. 

[00:13:39] So all things being the same between one day and the next day, having a dramatic reduction in pain proved to me, without a doubt, that pain is a protection. That pain is a signal to pay attention and that we can train our brain into continuing to deliver pain signals long after there is a reason to be receiving them. And that there's a deep relationship between fear and pain. 

[00:14:15] And I think what's important to unpack is. Fear is where we get to do all the work. And there's so much work to be done around fear in the body. And if you're aging, if you're fat, if you are person of color, if you do not have access to adequate healthcare or housing or have your basic needs met, there is a lot of fear.

[00:14:43] We are given messages of fear from everywhere about our bodies. And unfortunately this work doesn't make those messages go away, but we can change the way that we metabolize them and that alone can help with your pain. And then we can all work together to change the messages that we receive. Sometimes what's helpful is to do the both, and, instead of waiting for one before the other.

[00:15:12] So that's my story. I hope that you will join me on my Instagram, Move With Deb, and then you'll come back here and listen to the podcast. 

[00:15:22] Now I'm going to get more into tools and tips and how to listen to your nervous system, how to create peace, the ideas behind the neuroscience of neurocircuit pain, the brain as a predictive coder, the role of emotions and thoughts as sensations in the body. There's a whole lot of stuff to learn, explore, get curious about. 

[00:15:49] And if you're ready to jump in with both feet. And want to book a consult call with me, or just sign up for my eight week,  pain recovery program, which I have so aptly named, fear brain, and chronic pain and other conditions feel free to hop into my website at

[00:16:12] And it has a whole link about how to sign up for a consultation with me. And if you sign up on my email list I will send you a resource guide as well. Thank you so much for listening. I am thinking about you and I'm here to share everything I understand about pain, about the nervous system, about the brain, about having a body about feeling better.

[00:16:40] Thank you.

[00:16:41]Music by John_Yasutis from Pixabay