Nov. 7, 2022

Transform Your Brain for Better Mental Health with Dr. Ruth Allan

In this episode, Michael Anthony interviews Dr. Ruth Allan, a lead Certified Amen Clinics Brain Health Professional and Trainer in the UK, a Certified High Performance Coach. Together, they explore practical ways to improve your mental health by changing your brain....
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In this episode, Michael Anthony interviews Dr. Ruth Allan, a lead Certified Amen Clinics Brain Health Professional and Trainer in the UK, a Certified High Performance Coach. Together, they explore practical ways to improve your mental health by changing your brain.

Dr. Allan shares her insights on how the brain works and offers actionable tips to help listeners cultivate healthier habits and thought patterns. From the impact of exercise and sleep on mental health to the benefits of mindfulness and gratitude, this episode is full of valuable information for anyone looking to improve their well-being.

Whether you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or simply looking to optimize your mental health, this episode offers a wealth of knowledge and actionable advice. Tune in to learn how to transform your brain and improve your mental health.

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, Dr. Ruth Allan. Dr. Ruth Allan, how are you today, my friend? What is going on in your world?

Dr. Ruth: I am absolutely brilliant today. It's a sunny UK day, which is very rare, so I'm enjoying the heat of the sun that we finally got here in the UK for the summer, so exciting.

Michael: Yeah, I lived in Cordon for a bit and I was like, at one point I was like, is the sun ever gonna come out here? So, I understand that entirely. For those who don't know you, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today.

Dr. Ruth: So, I'm a certified brain health professional and high-performance coach, and I really help people win back energy and time doing what they love, through the lens of brain health. But I got there through a very unexpected route, and that was particularly back in 2016, I thought I was on track for promotion in a firm and worked my socks off, gave up loads of time, gave up family time, doing what I loved to get myself in that position of promotion, smashed all the firm targets that they set for me, and around that time also wanted make a family and I got pregnant, it was super exciting. And just before the year end, I had a miscarriage, which was really traumatic and straight after that I was put on a very unexpected performance review by the firm. And they told me I had no emotional intelligence, and that was just a real shock to the system because I already felt like a biological failure and then to be told that I was an emotional failure, I quickly started spiraling downhill and started having suicidal thoughts that I wasn't enough. And so, I reached out for coaching, first in the form of high-performance coaching, and then subsequently discovered brain health coaching through the work by Dr. Daniel Layman in the states, and realized that really joined the dots between what I'd done as a PhD student on medical imaging in spectroscopy and what I love to do, which is help people optimize their self and get their best out of themselves. I really, truly hos their potential so, it really connected the two for me and I went on an amazing transformational journey. Lost 27 pounds in weight, became the fittest I've ever been went on a ski touring expedition, which is one of my bucket lists across the French, a skiing from Shaman to Zermatt, for those that may know that region. But it was a six-day expedition across the Alps on skis. And eight months later, our daughter Lilly was born so, it was a truly transformational experience from what was a very dark place for me personally. And subsequently trained as a certified brain health professional through the Amman Clinics. And that's what I do now here in the UK, is help people get the best out of their engine of life, which is their brain.


Michael: Yeah, I love that. And congratulations. You know, I think that's kind of like a blind-siding experience, right? I've mentioned it on the show a couple of times, but when I was 24, and obviously I do not relate in the same capacity, but when I was 24, my girlfriend at the time, she had a miscarriage and it was like, devastating and that come, you know, piled on with your employment telling you that you have no emotional intelligence. I'm like, that's like a holy shit moment, right? Where your kind of like, what is happening right now? Here's what's interesting thought is how could they possibly determine that? Like, what hap did you sit down and take a test? Like is there a bell curve? Like, what is going on here?


Dr. Ruth: No. Of course, they didn't. It was all someone's perception or people's perception. And I think it was really, we weren't the right fit for each other and that was their way of ousting you out of the system. People I spoke to who were in the firm said that some of their feedback that they gave as part of my performance review was being twisted to reflect what the firm wanted to portray. So, I know I'm not the only one that's been in this position, you know, at the time you think your whole world is crashing in and you're all alone. But you realize that actually a lot of people have experienced, whether it in the firm that I was working for or big falls in the city or beyond have had unpleasant experiences where you think you're doing really well, nobody tells you that you aren't, and then suddenly get to your year end. And despite all the metrics saying something different you get told the opposite.

Michael: Yeah, totally. And that's such a part of like the corporate experience. You know, I worked for a Fortune 10 company when I was a kid, and like they did not give two fucks about you. Right. And it's like, that's such a part of the Global Society of Commerce unfortunately. I think a lot of people are driven by this idea they're like, I want to go be a professional and I wear the suit and tie to work or the, you know, the pants suit, like whatever it is, carry a briefcase like that was kind of my idealization of success as a kid. I was like, oh, if I can get to that, that means maybe I'm doing things right. And I realized like often there's a lot of sacrifice involved in that. And you mentioned it, you were sacrificing time with your family. I'm sure you probably weren't taking care of yourself since you lost 27 pounds. Right. You know, all of those things happening. So, what happened in your life in that moment that actually inspires you to create change? Because I think that happens, that happens to a lot of people and nothing comes from it. But why were you inspired to do something different in that time?

Dr. Ruth: Well, that's a really great question because I actually joined the firm that I work worked for because I was previously an entrepreneur running my own business and I thought, do you know what? I wanna see the different side of the fence and see what it's like being an employee. And I joined the firm specifically to do per get personal development opportunities and get all the training and experience that the firm offered. And actually, that point when I was told I had no emotional intelligence, I reached out to the firm and said, well, I'd like some coaching, please to help me. And they said, oh no, I'm really sorry, you're not the right grade to get coaching. And I was like, oh, okay, that's an interesting thing. So, I had to write my own performance plan, get assessed against the performance of my own performance plan to prove that I had could perform better and they wouldn't give me their professional coaching support. So, I thought to myself, you know, I've got control because I have my own business previously and I have the power to get the support that I need. And so, I paid for the coaching myself, the professional coaching that I wanted to have, and I started with a business coach who really kind of focused on the business issue, which was this performance review. And he was a really great coach and he helped me realize it wasn't me, the firm, you know, there were a lot of moving parts beyond just me as be being the problem and reaching out to a high-performance coach; my coach was Diane Shrock, who was part of the High-Performance Academy, she's actually emotional intelligence coach and she quickly helped me realize that it wasn't just me, it was the system that was broken and that's how I pulled myself out is taking back control and not allowing people to steal my own personal power, which is what they, in essence had done in the corporate space, is I wasn't able to be myself. You know, I got told, oh, you're too rough around the edges, I said, I was likened, I was an oval and I needed to become a circle. And it's like, well, stars don't fit in circular holes. You don't wanna get rid of the spot, you know, the pointy edges cuz you want that start to shine brightly if you think about back to your kids, kids gains and that you know, I might be a bit pointy and I might be a bit rough at times and a bit direct, but that's me and that's just the way I am and yes, I have softened of course cuz I've been through this coaching journey and I've looked at myself in the process. But I think the core thing there was that I wasn't able to show up as me it in that company, it was diminishing me and so taking back control of who I was and who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go was always there and I'd just given it away as being part of that entity of that firm.

Michael: And so many people do. You know, you're not playing the game. Right? And that's kind of what it is, I must have gotten a bazillion performance reviews working corporate before I went on my own and started my own businesses. And I got kicked outta team meetings, I would get kicked out of, like, people would be like, if you say one more thing, like you're outta here, and I'd be like, yeah, but you guys don't get it, here are the answers, here are the things that make sense. And look, I'm not gonna say sometimes I wasn't wrong, cuz I assuredly was but you know, to work for companies where you're not valid and I don't even know if necessarily validated is the right phrase that I want to use, but to work for companies and corporations in which you are not appreciated, like for your words and you're given the space to speak up, which is the entire point of working for a company. Yeah. You gotta dip because that's gonna end up really bad and that's obviously what happened for you. And so, you're in this transformation, you're seeing the impact that coaching is having on your life, I can relate to that entirely there's a huge reason why I am a coach today. And in that, what starts to transform in your body, in your mind, in your spirit, in your energy? Like what are some of the telltale signs of growth for you in this?

Dr. Ruth: So, I think the biggest shift for me was, so the obvious one that was really rock bottom when I started was energy, which is really what I focus on in my coaching now. So, my energy at the time was rock bottom…

Michael: And energy defined that, please.

Dr. Ruth: So, being able to get out of bed in the morning, you know, was one of the first things when you're in a really dark place. I was just sick all the time, you know, I was sick with sinus problems. I was always crying all the time. I was exhausted emotionally. I exhausted physically. I was exhausted mentally just because of all of the rubbish that I was having to deal with in the firm. And you know, and I was exhausted spiritually cuz I wasn't doing what I was passionate about. And the big shift that started me realizing, do you know what, this is not me, this is the firm was when I would, at the time, I'm in the military as a reservist this is not the firm, this was a separate thing, but I'm a military ski instructor and I was asked to lead the team of people in the Alps teach them skiing and that's part of my reservist commitment. When I was doing that, it was a really stressful environment, really complex personalities, and I did perfectly fine. I was the only instructor on the trip, which is very rare and I did totally fine doing all of that and delivered it, you know, exceptional results. And everyone was super happy and pleased with me and I couldn't have been put in a harder, harsher environment white out all the time, diverse range of experiences, and I performed at my best. And I wasn't stressed, I wasn't flustered or anything, but as soon as I put myself back into the work environment that I was in and exposed to, I just turned into a crumbly mess kind of thing. I just didn't wanna be there it was like this flight thing. And so, it was a real sign that, do you know, it's how important your environment is for you to flourish. And once I realized that it wasn't just me, it was the toxicity of the environment and that includes people that really allowed me to shift the lens, to putting the power back into myself and knowing that, do you know I can own this? I've got this. I know I've got it. There are examples of how I can do it, and I can pull myself out of this rut. And that really started me on that trajectory. And then the second one was when I went to the High-Performance Academy live in the state, when I decided at the academy that this was my time to train as a coach, as a high performance coach at that time. And I was gonna hand my notice in at work cuz it was just not serving me and go back to being an entrepreneur, which was what I loved. And as soon as I got back, I handed my notice and served my term, which was unfortunately a bit longer than it is for you guys in the States but then left.

Michael: Yeah. Is that when you got into that training, is that HPX? Is that Brendon Burchard's?

Dr. Ruth: Yes, it is.

Michael: Yeah. So, Brendon is actually what I would call my original mentor.

Dr. Ruth: Oh, is he?

Michael: A hundred percent. Like without that dude, I would not be here right now. And so, you know, it's really interesting that when you look at and you understand all of the things that create high performers, it's really never anything about money, it's never about accolades, it's never about accomplishments. It's about how you show up as yourself every day like are you in your habits that make your life better? Are you assessing yourself like his HPX journals unbelievable. I stopped using it because I feel like I'm really in tune with myself these days. But you know, four or five years ago it was awesome, awesome thing that I did. And I think that people who will get into coaching or find coaching will find that, that Brandon is like the OG in the game. There's a lot of people doing it, but like him, Tony Robbins, like I always kind of go to those guys first and foremost. So, I resonate a lot ‘cuz he's played a massive role in my life. One of the things that I'm curious about, so as you're going through that, like being in person in that environment, which I know has just gotta be like mind melting, right? Like what is happening in real time? Because I think like a lot of people are like, oh, I'm gonna go get a coach, or I'll go get a coaching certification and then everything's gonna be different. But like, there's steps, there's progress, right? When you're here and you're witnessing and you're looking at it and you're like, there's opportunity here like what is actually going through your mind that's leading you to, I'm gonna go quit my job.

Dr. Ruth: Yeah. So, I think the first thing you know, one of the first sessions we did with my coach, which is the first session you do when you do the high performance coaching program is to get clarity and you know, I was all over the place in terms of where I was, but I had quite good clarity as to where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. And you don't have to have the supervision in your mind, but it's helpful to know, okay, by the end of this week, this month, this quarter, this year, this is what I want my life to look like and this is where I want to be. And just kind of really visualizing the struggle which Brendon talks about as you honor the struggle, it is visualizing that, you know, it's not gonna be an easy road, it's gonna be bumpy, it's gonna be rocky, you're gonna fall over but just keep going. So, I think the big one for me was just doing the clarity initially energy, as I said, was rock bottom when we did the energy session. And so, there was a huge focus, as you said, on my nutrition because I was comfort eating, you know, at the time when I was at the firm, I was drinking copious quantities of wine in the evening to numb the pain of the situation. I was eating deserts, like there was no tomorrow I'd have a double, double latte in the afternoon with double shot of coffee to get me over the energy slump in the afternoon. And that would be coupled with a brownie. So, you know, had all the really bad enjoyable obviously cuz it is a nice quick fix, but as a long term pain, eating habits that I had to turn around. And once I kind of paid attention to that and you kind of think, well God, you're a ski instructor, don't you know all this stuff, but you don't, cuz you kind of think you're invincible and you're invincible until the point that you break. And then you realize you're not invincible anymore and that you actually are human and you have to do the work to fix yourself. So, it was a really big learning journey about myself personally and understanding what my strengths are and not letting people diminish that and letting my own self-talk diminish it as well was really key too is, is pulling out the strengths that I can leverage to move myself forward on that trajectory.

Michael: And that, there were for myself when I went through a lot of the beginning of this journey and even still today, depending on what it is, there is this massive, massive reframing that takes place, this massive kind of sitting down, creating acknowledgement, looking at how I got to where I was and then making these shifts. Now, obviously with the work that you do around brain health, neuroplasticity plays a huge role in this, right? Understanding how all of the aspects of your brain work from your prefrontal cortex to your hippocampus and all those things like play a massive, massive role. What do you think is a piece of information about brain health that you've learned that changed your life forever?

Dr. Ruth: Oh, wow, that's such a good question. I think the biggest thing bearing in mind, you know, my medical imaging and spectroscopy was not associated with the brain, but of skin looking at skin cancer. I think the biggest thing for me was knowing that I had the power to change my brain. So, we are kind of, people grow up with this concept that once your brain, if your brain is broken, you can't fix it and it's totally not true or we give our power away to the medical profession to expect them to fix it. And actually, they don't have very much power at all in the scheme of being able to fix your brain, a lot of that power sits with you and a lot of it sits within your mindset and how your software, your programs that you have in your mind are running, what programs are operating and being aware of all the programs that are operating in your mind. You know, if you think your brain is you've got your hardware, which is physically what you've born with and how fast your processor works. And then your software is all the programs that get in inserted into your brain as a through the course of your life. And you have an awful lot of influence over both of those, you can upgrade your hardware and you can upgrade your software and you can purge or cleanse the software there isn't serving you. And I think that was really the biggest thing is just learning that I can fix my brain. I have the power to change it. I'm not stuck with the brain I have. I can make it better. And there's so many different ways in which you can do that. And that's what I love to do with people now is they have so much more control than they think they have in terms of shaping their mindset and then shaping their future.

Michael: What do you think is the biggest thing that you changed in your own brain?

Dr. Ruth: I stopped poisoning it because I was poisoning it with, I used to bring drinks, so much alcohol as a kid, and I know you had a few tendencies yourself. But I used to drink just stupid amounts of alcohol from a young age and especially in the context of, you know, being a reservist, there is a propensity to use it as a social tool, it's much less so now. But 20 years ago, it was very much we do sport to go and drink in the pub here in the UK, that's what we do. There's always a pub associated drinking establishment associated with many sports. And so, I just used to ruin my brain with vast quantities of alcohol, right up until I learned, you know, how much damage it was doing to me both from a killing my brain cells, which we all get taught, but don't really necessarily pay attention to and decreasing my cognitive function. And you know, we use it as a numbing tool so it turns off your prefrontal cortex, which is your logical thinking part of your brain so you can't think clearly that's when we often do stupid things if we're under the influence of alcohol ‘cuz we've turned off the adult part of our brain. And we've gone back to sort of child state and it can heighten or depending on the brain type you have is obviously numb your emotional senses as well.

So, I think that was the biggest one is really taking a radical new perspective on what toxins I'd been shoving into my brain, one being the alcohol and the second being sugar. So, I think that was the biggest thing for me.

Michael: Yeah, that's incredible. And I can tell you right now that all of the dumbest things I've ever done in my life involved alcohol or drugs, all of them, every time I'm like, I was literally just thinking about this morning about one of the experiences I had in my early twenties out at bars with friends, and it's like we would just, it's like the more you can drink the better. And I'm not anti-drink, live your best life. Right. That's what I always think. But like, pay attention; pay attention because a lot of those things that we're doing, that we're consuming, they're taking away from us, they're taking away from your ability to be successful, to be a great parent, to be physically fit. You know, I've had my own battles with sugar and alcohol, eliminating both of them from my life of various points of time it's like, you coming back to where you kind of started, it's like you get massive clarity. How can you understand who you are when you're constantly like numbing, when you're constantly putting poison in your body? And that's what's so crazy about alcohol especially it's literally poison, right?

Dr. Ruth: Yeah. I was just gonna say it is, but it doesn't go just into your brain. You know, it wipes up your gut and your gut are called your second brain. So, we all have like, you know, thanks to Covid has reminded us of the importance of alcohol in terms of killing bacteria, well that's what we are shoving to our gut. So, if you are wiping out the good gut, good bugs in your gut, as well as the bad bugs. So, you're depleting all of that lovely gut microbiota or microbiome that's so important for not only your gut health but your brain health because not up to 90% of the neurotransmitters that help your brain function are made in your gut. So, you know, at least a double whammy effect on your body and obviously it goes into your liver and damages your liver and your kidneys have to work harder as well and it's not something that loves you even if you do love it.

Michael: That's such a great point. And not that we're gonna harp on this, but I remember seeing those commercials or may not even be commercials, just research studies, quote unquote that a glass of wine a day is not bad for you. And then you come to find out that those studies are actually sponsored by the alcohol companies. So, you might want to double think that. And again, if you wanna drink, drink, like whatever, I don't give a shit like that's up to you to figure out. It's just like understand first, like have the information. So, when you're working with clients, what is the biggest thing that people are coming to you for?

Dr. Ruth: So, majority of people come to me because they can either relate to my story and they feel that they're in a similar space, you know, where they're feeling burned out or not having the support that they need, or they're not taking the time to look after themselves or what is becoming more prevalent is people are not being served by the medical profession in the way that they need to be to take back control of their brain health it's just the support that they need to be in charge of their health and wellbeing and know the steps that are necessary to get the best out of their engine of life they're not being served by medicine in its traditional form. And so, they'll come to me and I feel the gaps between coaching and the medical profession and bridge it really to help educate people and equip people with the right tools so that they know how their engine of life is working, whether it's working too hard or not working hard enough, and then refer them to specialists as appropriate if they need medical intervention and they want it. And if they don't want it, then we carry on and refer people to other specialists outside the medical profession to help them get the best out of themselves. So, I think that's really what I know, it's quite broad, but I mean, I have people ranging from seven years old who've been missed by medicine and, you know, struggling with their brain and whole-body health to people who are nearing retirement. So, it's quite a broad range of individuals who I serve.

Michael: Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense to me. When looking at your journey and working with clients, what do you think is outside of eliminating alcohol, tobacco, sugar, drugs probably. What are some of, or if not some, maybe even the most important other thing that people can be doing to take care of their brain health.

Dr. Ruth: Yeah. So, I'm just gonna touch on the five pillars of brain health, ‘cuz I think these all kind of touch into the same thing. So, the first one is people is feelings. So remember it by the pneumonic facts let's look at the facts.

So, the first one is feelings. Often people don't pay attention to their feelings or they deliberately choose to ignore them. And feelings are a signal, there're a signal that we want to move towards something, or there a signal that we wanna move away from something and not paying attention to them doesn't make them go away it actually amplifies them because you bury them inside your mind and your mind still wants to communicate to you that there's an issue and you need to take some action.

So, what ends up happening is it takes action for you and the action it takes tends to express it in another way, so it'll express it to you physically, you'll either get, um, aggressive as one classic example that's sort of low end of the spectrum, you'll start getting hives or physical symptoms of stress because you're not paying attention to your emotions and your feelings or express it over the longer term in chronic illnesses and diseases such as such as cancer can be, you know, it's been, now they're seeing that's attributed to unaddressed trauma, emotional trauma which is a lot of work by, Dr. Gabor Maté so that's the first one; Feelings.


The next one is, thoughts. So, that's tears for thoughts and paying attention to the thoughts. And I know you talk about this in your amazing book, Think Unbroken. But, you know, we often they're like the background operating system. We are often our own worst enemy. We wouldn't say the things to our worst enemy that we say to ourselves but we say it to ourselves all the time and it's paying attention to the thoughts that you are having, the beliefs that you are adopting. And often that goes back to what we've been told as a child through whatever experience you may have happened, or for me, I could be adopting that, I've got no emotional intelligence as my labeler for me for the rest of my life. But I mean, that's just something that, you know, a couple of people have said it's not true and I believed it at the time of course you do. But I did the work to break that thought pattern and prove to myself and to the world that thought is not true and they can think it, but that doesn't mean I have to believe it. So, I think that those are the two things that are the most important that people don't pay enough attention to, and they both completely control you. So, your thoughts drive your emotions, your emotions drive your actions. So, we've done feelings and thoughts.

The other one is actions. So, FACTS going, A is for actions. C is how we Connect with ourself and so often we have a very poor relationship with ourself, and the relationship we have with ourself reflects the relationships we have with others. So, first of all, we need to fall in love with ourselves in order to effectively love other people cuz we just exude often most of the time subconsciously, if we're not aware, is how we are treating ourselves we'll, reflect on how we treat others.

And then finest is our surroundings. So, feelings, actions, connections, thoughts and surroundings is paying attention to the surroundings, that you are in and the surroundings of the people you have around you, going back to the toxic people, and making sure that you rid yourself of toxins, whether that's what you're ingesting or who you are seeing, and that you are growing a garden that's going to be fruitful rather than rotten.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And I think all of that is super profound because, you know, I used to think like, oh, if I just do this one thing, everything will be different and then I realized it's actually doing a lot of different things all the time that makes life different. And I love this conversation. Thank you so much for spending time with us here today. Before I ask you my last question, can you tell everybody where they can find you?

Dr. Ruth: Oh, for sure. So, you can find me at on the internet or search for at Ruth Mary Allen on any social media platform and I'll be happy to answer any questions people have just connect with me through those means.

Michael: Brilliant. And my last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Dr. Ruth: That is such a great question. I think to be unbroken is to be able to show up with all of your scars, with all of your marks of life and be proud of who you are and be able to share those scars with pride because it's got you to the person that you are and want to be, today and tomorrow. And so, I think that's really what is thinking unbroken is just giving yourself permission to be you, and permission to wear those scars and not feel like you have to hide them.

Michael: I love that. Thank you so much for being here, my friend, Unbroken Nation. Thank you so much for listening.

Please like, subscribe, comment, share.

Tell a friend.

And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Dr Ruth AllanProfile Photo

Dr Ruth Allan

Brain power & performance coach

Industry and family leaders hire Dr Ruth to win back their energy and time doing what they love by boosting their brain power and performance because most are chained to their past, don’t use the right tools and techniques and have never measured and optimised their unique brain.

Dr Ruth is a Certified Brain Health Professional and Trainer, High Performance and Trauma Recovery Coach, Motivational Speaker and Trainer.

In her spare time she’s a Reservist British Army Officer and military ski and mountain leader. She loves adventure and has been on expeditions to climb unclimbed peaks in Greenland as well as ski tour across the European Alps. She is married to Dave and has a daughter Lilly aged 3.