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Carole Freeman, Certified Nutritionist, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, speaker, and comedian, specializes in a ketogenic diet coupled with behavioral psychology interventions to help people achieve lifelong weight loss. She  is a board Certified Ketogenic Nutrition Specialist through the American Nutrition Association and completed her master’s degree in Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology at Bastyr University, and a Certification in Clinical Hypnotherapy from the Wellness Institute. After a disabling car accident in 2014, Carole discovered the healing power of the ketogenic diet to relieve her Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, Post-Traumatic Hypopituitarism, and reverse metabolic syndrome.

Transcript:

Carole Freeman:
It’s going.

Brandy:
Okay. This is Brandy from [3 Health 00:00:27] and today I’m here with [Marlene Sexton 00:28:28] . She’s a psychotherapist and we are going to have a little chat with Carole Freeman. Carole, tell us about how you got involved in low carb and ketogenic diets and what you’re doing.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. My name is Carole Freeman and oh gosh, I’ve been passionate about psychology and nutrition for, I don’t know, 20, 30 years, probably. Probably goes all the way back to my first diet at 19 years old. I have multiple degrees from Bastyr University. I did an undergrad in nutrition and then I did a double masters in nutrition and clinical health psychology, and that was in my pursuit of trying to figure out how do we help people make long-term behavior change so that they can eat healthy diet in such a way that it would actually help them be optimally healthy. I’m really passionate about how nutrition affects the mind, but then also how the mind affects what we eat. And so getting that degree at Bastyr was my dream and it was a fantastic degree.

Carole Freeman:
However, I came out of school being trained in the health at every size model and positive psychology, which is all great. However, I had the belief that if we tried to put people on restricted diets, if we encouraged them to lose weight, we were actually doing more harm than we were good, that because there was no way to actually lose weight and keep it off, it was just much better, then, to help people learn to love themselves the way that they were and if we let go of all that diet mentality and accepted our bodies for what they were, then ultimately the belief was that people would make healthier choices and they would be able to eat mindfully and intuitively and just be at a healthier weight than they would if they tried to yo-yo diet and just keep gaining more weight.

Brandy:
Did you believe that or was that what you were taught?

Carole Freeman:
I did. I believed that. I mean, the health at every size model is based in research and I’m sure you know from the work you’ve done that it is a pretty common pattern that people diet, they lose weight and then they regain even more. I’ve since put everything together that I’ve been studying for so long to realize that it’s partially the dietary approach that most people take, but also then having the psychological support to be able to make long-term behavior change by addressing where cravings come from, natural appetite regulation, but also just behavior change in general.

Carole Freeman:
I came out of school having gained quite a bit of weight and was in denial or I was oblivious to the fact that I myself had metabolic syndrome when I graduated with this and I thought I was healthy and I was practicing nutrition, but I wasn’t creating a lot of big change in people. I mean, they liked the message of just love yourselves the way you are and let go of dieting, but I wasn’t creating a lot of big changes in people’s health.

Carole Freeman:
It took a horrible car accident. 2014, I was rear ended by a distracted driver. It was a five car chain reaction pile up. I suffered a brain injury and crush injuries to my legs. I developed something called chronic regional pain syndrome in my legs, which meant that the pain and swelling were so severe that I ended up bedridden as well as the brain injury led to post-traumatic hypopituitarism, which basically just meant I had a symptom list a mile long and the doctors were really stumped as to how to help me.

Carole Freeman:
Out of sheer desperation just to not be stuck in bed the rest of my life, I just kept searching for an answer. “What can help heal my brain?” And I remembered in grad school that we learned about this much about a ketogenic diet for epilepsy-

Brandy:
I was going to ask if it was ever even mentioned or taught to you guys at all.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah, it was mentioned and it was in reference to like, “This is the diet that’s used to treat epilepsy,” and that’s about it. We didn’t learn anything about implementation or anything like that. And so I reasoned that if it worked for epilepsy, which is something that’s not quite right with the brain, perhaps it was something that was going to be able to help me heal my brain injury just so I could get out of bed. And it was remarkable because just within days of adopting it, the symptoms that had me bedridden were resolving. I had massive amounts of energy. The weight was just falling off as well as the chronic regional pain syndrome went into remission, which is something that is a progressive degenerative syndrome that happens where people just get worse and worse. And mine is in remission as long as I stay compliant with a keto low carb diet.

Carole Freeman:
It was the final piece that I had been missing in order to create the transformation that I’m so passionate about helping people recreate. I’ve been doing nothing but this for about the last three and a half years in my practice. It’s all virtual. I work remotely with people all around the world and I’m really passionate about integrating a way of following keto that does address the psychology as well. So I’ve got a starter program that’s a nine week comprehensive program and then I work with people longer term as well once they’ve gone through that initial training program.

Brandy:
Cool. So tell me a little bit about the metabolic syndrome. How much weight did you lose and how did that go?

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. Metabolic syndrome is, there’s five different criteria and if you meet three of those, that stamps you with that. It’s not considered as a disease is it? It’s more of a syndrome, right?

Brandy:
[inaudible 00:06:37] of things, yeah.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. Yeah. So low HDL, high triglycerides, waist measurement for women 35 inches or greater, high blood pressure and high blood glucose. Am I getting those right?

Brandy:
Yeah.

Carole Freeman:
And so I met the low HDL and waist measurement and then the high triglycerides. My blood pressure was normal independent, actually it was really high with the post-traumatic hypopituitarism, it skyrocketed. And then my blood sugar was always, we never tested like A1C or anything like that. My blood sugar was still considered to be normal. So those are the three criteria I met. So the first six months of following a ketogenic diet, I lost 60 pounds and 10 inches off my waist. And so I no longer fit any of the criteria. Well, I think my HDL still struggles to be pretty low, but otherwise I didn’t meet any of the criteria besides that one.

Brandy:
Wow. That’s an amazing amount of weight loss and a big change in your metabolic situation. I’d like to go back a little bit to this year, because I think you were telling me that you had helped change a little bit of what was going on there at the cafeteria and dietarily for the campus.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. I mean, they have a great cafeteria there where, at the time when I was in school, it was a hundred percent vegetarian cafeteria and it was really old school vegetarian, which was like, rice and cheese was basically the foundation of most meals. So it wasn’t whole food based, but it was vegetarian and getting into the curriculum for all the degrees that they have there, there was nobody promoting that vegetarianism was the healthiest way to eat. And so I saw that disconnect there and I was like, “Why does the cafeteria not align with actually what’s being taught?” Because most students that came in as a vegetarian to one of the nutrition programs believing that was the healthiest way. Once they learned about things like B12 and how it’s really hard to meet a lot of your mineral needs as a vegetarian, they had a lot of awakening to that and a lot of them, during their course and training there, they were no longer vegetarian and starting to incorporate some animal proteins in there.

Carole Freeman:
The naturopathic program also didn’t promote that vegetarianism was the healthiest way to eat and so I saw that misalignment there. And so I formed a group on campus. I called it CHIP, Cafeteria Holistic Improvement Project I think is what we called it. And I wanted to be a conduit to change instead of, so there were groups that were just like, they would complain about it but nobody was ever doing anything. And so I started some monthly meetings and we just started a dialogue and it turned out that part of it was that their head chef at that time really believed in a vegetarian diet and he’d been there so long, they didn’t really want to rock the boat. And so we opened that dialogue and then there was a new, I don’t know, director of cafeteria services or something like that that came on board and then they started to incorporate some offerings that were animal protein based.

Carole Freeman:
It’s been seven years since I’ve graduated from there. I haven’t been on campus in a while. I have no idea what’s currently-

Brandy:
What’s going on? Yeah.

Carole Freeman:
… being served there. But that’s what happened during the time I was, I was there for five years getting all of the degrees that I did.

Brandy:
Okay. Cool. So you said in your program you incorporate both the keto and implementation of keto. Do you ever do different types of low carb or is it straight keto?

Carole Freeman:
Everyone starts out with a very similar approach to start with because the goal is to get them into ketosis as fast as possible and to minimize cravings and facilitate behavior change as quick as possible. During the course of the nine weeks, I teach them several things so that each person, with my guidance, that we’re finding a way that keto low carb fits their lifestyle, their needs. So I do start out everyone with a very similar approach, but it gets fine-tuned along the way to find what works for them and what’s going to be actually sustainable.

Carole Freeman:
I am working with a niche of people. It’s primarily women that have died their entire lives and they already are sold on keto. They want to follow a ketogenic lifestyle and everyone does get end up getting their own, you know, not everyone needs to be 20 grams of carbs or less per day for the rest of their lives. And that’s part of the education and teaching that I teach them is let’s figure out what actually works for you and what you need to do that’s going to be sustainable because yeah, some people don’t need to be strict forever. Some people can have all the health and sustainability from doing a lower carb approach. Part of that, too, is just the psychology of where somebody is, as well. Some people don’t do well with the gray area. For me that’s a slippery slope of well, a little this, a little that, a little more and then pretty soon I’m back to 300 grams of carbs a day. That’s part of it as well, is helping people figure out what fits with their personality and what is going to actually be sustainable for them. Some people do better with having black and white rules to follow than they do with like, ah, all foods fit, which is what I was doing before.

Brandy:
Right, right. Do people come to you on medications and things like that that need looking after and monitoring as they’re losing weight?

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. I mean, yeah, sometimes people do. I know the ones to watch out for and so I will work with their doctor or instruct them. I’m sure you’re familiar that there aren’t necessarily a lot of doctors that are used to people being able to get off of their medications and so I empower them with some words to work with their doctors. So I always tell them it’s not within my scope of practice to tell you how to take your medication, how to stop taking it. What I have seen is that for this medication you’re on, this is something that we need to monitor very closely. You need to go see your doctor first, let him know this and ask him or her what that looks like, when is it that you need to change that and how frequently that. So I have them work with their doctor.

Carole Freeman:
Certain diabetes medications, blood pressure medications, those are the primary ones that need immediate adjustments. So that’s part of the screening I do is to make sure, what medications are you on? These are the ones that you’re going to need to work with your doctor to monitor the dosing. But that is their doctor that does that. And again, not everybody’s doctor is used to, I’ve had plenty of them that their doctor says, “Well, no, you can’t ever get off of this.” And so I said, “Well, that’s okay. So here’s how to approach that,” when they think that that’s going to happen. Because it’s normal. They’re not used to seeing people actually get off of medication. So that’s what I do with those.

Brandy:
Good. Any pushback from primary carers about what you’re doing? Or have you had patients go to their primary carer with great results and then they end up telling them that it’s dangerous and they shouldn’t be doing it?

Carole Freeman:
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, there’s a lot of, I’ve referred people to other doctors that their doctor freaks out about what they’re doing, even though the labs and everything show how much better they’re getting. I’ll find another keto-friendly doctor and say like, “In the Seattle area here, we have Dr. Ted [Naman 00:14:58] .” So a lot of times I will refer people to go to him. And he says, “Well, why do people need my stamp of approval?” And I said, “Because their doctor tells them it’s dangerous and bad. They just need another person in a white coat to tell them it’s okay and then they’ll have peace of mind, right?” They’re not going to believe me over their doctor that’s telling them this is dangerous and so if I just have another doctor that can say, “Yeah, you’re doing great, everything’s healthy,” then that will help them give them some peace of mind.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. There’s a gamut, a continuum of the reactions of their physicians. Some of them are like, “Oh my gosh, wow, everything’s better. Whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.”

Brandy:
That’s beautiful, too.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. And then there are some also that have said, “You should follow keto. I don’t know how to help you do that.” So they’re seeking out somebody to help direct and guide that for them. Then, yes, there are the other ones that like, “Wow, your labs all got better, but this is dangerous and it’s going to kill your liver.” You know, all these myths and things like that. And so then they say, “Well, even though that got better, you can’t do that, that’s not good.” And so that’s part of where I’ll give them some books and videos and research presentations and things like that to help them understand that, yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there about keto and if doctors haven’t actually implemented or seen a lot of their patients follow it and get those improvements, they have beliefs and misconceptions about what is going to happen.

Carole Freeman:
Even for me, when I first started it, I was seeing a naturopathic doctor and I embarked on it on my own. Two weeks into my keto diet, my inflammation markers and my CRP dropped 62% just in two weeks. And my doctor that I was seeing at that time said, “No, you can’t follow a ketogenic diet long-term because it’s inflammatory because you’re eating all that red meat and bacon. So this is not going to be,” and I said, “But my labs just showed that my inflammation dropped 62%. Why?” “Well, I don’t know, but,”

Brandy:
Thank you. I’ll be seeing somebody else now.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. Yeah.

Brandy:
I think we should form our own Washington state low carb, keto-friendly directory.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah.

Brandy:
Being listed on other more, well, there’s even international, like Diet Doctor, but I’m listed on the Obesity Medicine Association and Low Carb USA obviously. But we need something that’s more central to the area, I think. That would be nice.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah.

Brandy:
Because it’s really hard. It’s so disappointing when people get such good results. It’s very undermining when they hear from their primary carer that “Yeah, everything’s getting better, but I don’t want you to do it anymore.” Just so confusing.

Carole Freeman:
Right, right. Everything got better.

Brandy:
Yeah. I also noticed that you are trained in hypnotherapy.

Carole Freeman:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brandy:
Do you do much of that or how does that work with your practice?

Carole Freeman:
Yeah, I picked that certification up in the middle of my grad school and part of it was just due to, so, my psychology degree, basically the goal of that degree is to train me to be a mental health counselor and to go on and do the advanced, what is it, like 2,000 or 3,000 hours supervised hours to be able to get that licensure, but I never wanted to go that route. I just wanted to have the psychology, I wanted to have the counseling skills and knowledge to be able to just help people be able to make behavior change for diet-focused, you know, healthful food changes.

Carole Freeman:
And so I knew I didn’t want to go and pursue the licensure. I just wanted to have that training. And so about halfway through my coursework I was just still baffled about, what are we learning that actually helps people make change? Because we were trained that you might take years of therapy and here’s the different approaches you could do. And my own experience before that of attending counseling and therapy and always feeling like we’d go in and we’d talk about some really painful stuff and I leave after an hour just completely emotionally wrung out and crying and upset. And it was like, how is this helping? And I remember asking one of my professors at one time, like, “So how exactly does psychotherapy, how does it help people make change?” And he says, “That’s a really good question.” I was like, “What?”

Carole Freeman:
So something popped up on Facebook where somebody was talking about doing hypnotherapy training and I thought, “Oh my gosh, this seems like a really good fit. It’s another tool in my toolbox of being able to help people make change.” So I did that training in one of the summers while I was in grad school and it’s a special hypnotherapy training specifically for people that have advanced psychology degrees. So it’s not just a online program. It was actually an immersive six-week program that we did with all either a licensed psychologist or they let me into the program because I was completing coursework in that. And it’s great because it’s actually really aware of the things that we need to be mindful of when working with people on a deeper level of psychology.

Carole Freeman:
So I picked that up as, okay, this is what’s going to help people be able to make change. I do really like the hypnosis because it’s a way of helping people make real deep work, but at the end of the session you can actually suggest, you’re going to wake up and you’re going to feel happy and content and complete and closed. And so people wake up feeling or they come out of a session feeling really positive and instead of like in tears and crying, like sometimes therapy can be when you’re working on some really deep stuff. And so in the beginning, before I had my keto tool, I was doing one-on-one hypnosis in a clinic. My original business name was Hypnotic Nutrition and I did hypnosis for nutrition.

Carole Freeman:
And it was frustrating for me, actually, because people came to me wanting to lose weight and I was still of the orientation that that was a bad thing, that we shouldn’t have a goal of trying to lose weight. And so it was frustrating because that’s what people wanted to pay for, but it didn’t align with what my beliefs were at that time. And hypnosis all by itself is not a magic wand. People have this idea that if I just get hypnotized, I’ll lose the weight and I don’t have to make any other changes. It doesn’t work that way, and so that also wasn’t, all by itself was not the magic wand.

Carole Freeman:
The training I’ve had in hypnosis and the way that the brain works at a subconscious level does have influence over my approach and the psychology thing. Occasionally I will do some one-on-one sessions with some of my VIP clients, but it’s not a primary thing that I’m doing actively week in and week out with people. But it does have a big influence on what I do teach my clients and the approach that I do have. A lot of it has to do with the subconscious motives of the brain and how we can influence behavior change at a subconscious level beyond our awareness.

Brandy:
Yeah. Cool. Do you ever get any clients that you think you’re doing good work with them and they’re on keto but they just don’t seem to be getting the results that you’d expect and think that they could use medication to help with things like appetite or cravings?

Carole Freeman:
I haven’t had anyone that has been in that boat at all. All the people that I’ve worked with, when they’re following the program and the outline that I have, all have fantastic results. So I don’t know. I’ve not worked with everyone in the world. I tend to work with women that are somewhere between 50 to 100 pounds overweight. I think that there may be probably people that are more than a hundred pounds overweight, I’m going to guess, probably are ones that would do well with some kind of appetite regulation medication. I don’t know if that’s what you’ve seen or not. But I tend to work with people, then again, that are in that 50 to 100 pounds overweight and I think people that are of a higher weight have a different brain chemistry, different food addiction going on that probably could benefit from that. But that’s not been my experience or at least the people that I’ve worked with.

Brandy:
Okay, good. And so your program is how long?

Carole Freeman:
Well, the program that I have currently is, the initial one is nine weeks, but I’m working on a complete revision of that. So probably coming out in the next couple of months, it will be like a six-week starter program and then a long-term support a year at a time after that. That’s likely what the change is going to be. because I found that the training that I have that’s nine weeks right now, people get through about four weeks of the material and then that gets them going. And a lot of them, the feedback is like, “Well, I haven’t finished the other modules yet, but what I’ve got already has been so great and helped me get started with this.” So it may be that we do a four to six week starter program and then we have an advanced program that follows that for more long-term stuff. I’m in the process of revising all of that currently.

Brandy:
Okay. I met you through the keto Meetup group, right? So tell us about how that started and what it is and who’s involved and who’s welcome.

Carole Freeman:
Yeah. In the Seattle area, we do have a keto Meetup group. We’ve gotten better at having a monthly meeting. I started more than a year ago, but it just never really got a lot of traction. It was interesting because we had quite a few group members in our Facebook group, but when it came to actually meeting up, even though the group is about meeting up, it was always hard to get people to actually come out. I don’t know why that is. But after low carb USA that we’ve had in Seattle in May of 2019 we actually had a group of people that were much more interested in having regular meetings and so we’ve done, what, three of them now and it’s open to the public. We’d love to have anyone that’s interested in low carb, following it or just learning more. Practitioners as well. We’ve got psychologists and nurse practitioners and well, myself. Certified keto nutrition specialist. Yeah. So anyone is welcome and the best way to get that, if you want to join our Facebook group, we can put some links below, right? I’ll send you those information. Or we’ve also got an email list for people that we send out information about those meetups, too.

Brandy:
Cool. Well, it’s awesome to meet another passionate keto practitioner out there. We need to multiply ourselves, I think, by a lot to help people, but we’re doing good work and you’re doing good work. Appreciate it. Where can people find you and get to know more about your program and what you’re doing?

Carole Freeman:
All over social media and the internet. You can find me as Keto Carole. Carol has an E on the end. That’s the fancy French spelling of Carol. So Keto Carole. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and my website is ketocarole.com and that’s how anybody can find me out there.

Brandy:
And YouTube, right?

Carole Freeman:
Oh, yes. YouTube. Yeah. My YouTube series is Keto Chat. If you search for Keto Chat, you’ll see I’ve been doing that series for about three years now. I don’t know. We’ve got maybe 120 episodes.

Brandy:
Cool. Good job. I appreciate you being on and sharing your experience.

Carole Freeman:
Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to know you and yeah, we need to band together and multiply the good that’s happening from this.

Brandy:
Yeah. Yeah. I agree. All right. I appreciate your time. Have a good one.

Carole Freeman:
Thank you so much. You’re welcome. Bye.

Brandy:
Bye.

Marlene Sexton:
Bye bye.

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