Gail Kraft: Hello everybody. Gail Kraft here from the Empowering Process podcast, and I have with me a dear friend, Dr Brian Stenzler. He’s the CEO and president of an organization called D.R.E.A.M. Wellness. Brian has over 23 years as a chiropractor and full circle wellness. He is an advocate for his clients and their families, and is the founder of, like I said, D.R.E.A.M. Wellness and a framework for healthy living.
Dr Brian Stenzler encourages families of all ages to take control of their lives, improve their wellness, and prioritize healthy living. Listen today to Brian and me discuss his philosophy and his new book, D.R.E.A.M. Wellness: The 5 Keys to Raising Kids for a Lifetime of Physical and Mental Health. Welcome, Brian. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today.
Dr Brian Stenzler: Thanks for having me, Gail. I’m so excited about this today.
Gail: This is so amazing. We’ve known each other for quite a while now. I’ve seen you go through some transit- and you’ve seen me go through some transitions in life, and I have seen you work with families. I have seen you work with children. I’ve seen you work with pregnant women. I’ve seen you work with me, and what I love is your full circle approach. What I’d like to do is talk to you a little bit about how you got into this business in the first place, and how you went from being a chiropractor to really full circle, everything when it comes to health and wellness? Share that little story with us.
Brian: Being a chiropractor is probably the last thing in the world I ever thought I would do for a living. I grew up in New York. It’s hard to tell with the accent, right? [laughs] I grew up in New York and my dad used to take me to LA in California. We used to go to Universal Studios and everything, and I loved movies and TV and I always wanted to be a movie producer. Told my dad when I was young, ‘I’m going to go to college in California’, and ‘I’m going to go to UCLA or USC film school’.
The magic of movies was something that I was so passionate about, and when I was growing up going through high school, all the classes, all the electives I took were in the arts. I played music. I played piano, trumpet, keyboards, drums, but movies were something I was really intrigued about. I grew up in a house where my dad made pretty good money and I always had what I needed. Even though I worked, I’ve had jobs since I was 12 years old. I had to work myself, I didn’t have everything handed to me, but education was the one thing that I always expected to have covered.
When it came time to apply to colleges I told my dad, ‘I got the UCLA and USC applications’ and that was when my dad told me that all the money for my college was no longer in existence. My dad worked for a company on Wall Street that was actually on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center, and he’d talk about how things happen in life. This was 1991, when I graduated high school, so well before 9/11, but the company was taken over by other leadership and all the high executives were sent away.
My dad went and started another company with some other friends, and back then Bell Atlantic was the phone company, and it went on strike, and my dad was dealing with bond trading all over the world. For the first month or so he couldn’t get the phone lines going and lost the business and lost everything within a month or two. That was the story with my dad. He didn’t have anything anymore and said, ‘If you want to go to college, son, you’re gonna pretty much have to pay for it yourself, so plan on going to a state school in New York’, so I looked at all the SUNY schools and none of them had any film programs.
There was one that had a theater program — two that had a theatre program, one that I was willing to go to one that I wasn’t. I decided to go to Oneonta, and that was in between Albany and Binghamton. My first year in college I did the theater major, and it did not feel right to me. I was not connecting with the people, with the teachers, the environment. I pledged a fraternity my first semester there, nearly failed out of school and I was a B plus, 87 to 88 student through all of high school, but when I was in college, I just wasn’t passionate about anything that I was doing.
I was spending most of my time in the gym and trying to figure out what life was going to be like. After my first semester, it was below a 2.0, I think I got a 1.56, and the second semester was not good either. I think I got a two something. I ended up with a 1.98 after my first year, and I took a vow to myself that if I didn’t have a 2.0 in Oneonta after my first year I don’t belong in college, and I was prepared to go into the military, and figure out what I was going to do with my life, and my parents convinced me not to do that. Begged me not to do that. So, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll give it one more shot’.
During that break trying to figure out what I was doing people started to ask me did I ever think about doing anything in healthcare, and really, I didn’t know anything about healthcare. Science was one of my weakest subjects in high school, so it wasn’t really anything I was interested in, but I was interested in working out and exercise and fitness and healthy living.
It was a value of mine throughout my entire life. I never did drugs, pushed or prescribed. I was always in the gym, not a meathead, but I did healthful workouts, and it was a big value of mine. Somebody had mentioned physical therapy, ‘You ever think about being a physical therapist?’ I’m like, ‘No, I know nothing about it’ but it sounded like it’s a personal trainer to the next level, where back then it was a master’s degree, it was before a doctorate. I changed all my classes from theater and the arts to pre-med. So here I am practically failing out of school, a one nine eight after the first year, switching to pre-med.
My advisor was like ‘You’re crazy’, so I was like, ‘I think I’ll do another year or two in Oneonta and if I’m successful I’ll go to Syracuse and finish out my physical therapy degree there’. I started getting really passionate about the body and about health and my grades went way up, and this time I ended up on the Dean’s List. Not the bad Dean’s list, but the good one, for getting over a three five, and after that first semester, my mom was dating a guy named Matt who was a retired police officer, NYPD. The real NYPD blue guy. A rough, gruff kinda guy, and he asked me, ‘Did you ever think about being a chiropractor?’
I wasn’t very passionate about physical therapy at this point, but I was very passionate about health and wellness, and I said, ‘Chiropractor? I don’t know anything about it’. I couldn’t even pronounce the word. I thought they were just people that crack people’s backs, and they were fake doctors. Knew nothing about it. That they were ambulance chasers, only help people in accidents. Didn’t have a clue. Matt, my mother’s boyfriend at the time, said, ‘My son, Steve, just started chiropractic school in Atlanta and he loves it. I don’t know anything about what he’s learning, but I’ve never seen Steve happier and more focused and dedicated. Maybe you should talk to him’. I said, ‘Okay, what do I have to lose?’
I got on the phone with Steve a few times and we would just talk for hours, and hours and I was so intrigued by the philosophy of chiropractic. About how the body heals the body, and how health comes from above, down, inside, out, and all the principles that I’ve been living my life by were so in alignment with chiropractic. It had nothing to do with accidents and ambulance chasing or anything like that. It had to do with health and improving the function of the nervous system. I was going to meet Steve the first time at our parents’ wedding.
Our parents got engaged and Steve was planning on taking that week off. He was gonna be away from school because it was during winter break. He was going to take me around to all different chiropractic offices, in that week. A day and a half before the wedding, Matt, Steve’s father, drops dead suddenly, so I ended up meeting Steve at his dad’s funeral instead of his dad’s wedding. Of course, I give him a hug, give him my condolences and everything, and Steve says to me after the funeral, ‘What time should I pick you up on Monday?’
What? I did not think that we would still have this tour on. He’s like, ‘Oh no, we’re going’ because Steve’s passion and dedication towards bringing people into this field was so much bigger than the existence of even his father. That week I went around with Steve, and I became a chiropractor that week and not only a chiropractor but a chiropractor who was dedicated towards helping prevent needless, senseless deaths like Matt. Of people who wake up in the morning thinking they’re healthy and suddenly cease to exist by the end of that day.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Matt thought he was healthy that morning, and so many people wake up in the morning thinking they’re healthy and either it’s their last day on the planet or maybe they get a horrible diagnosis that day as if they were healthy the day before. They may have been asymptomatic, but they weren’t healthy. This journey began with a bang, like, oh my gosh. Not only am I going to be a chiropractor, but I’ve got to help people with lifestyles, and as I was going through chiropractic school and everything else, I realized that adults don’t really care much about their health. Most of them, not all.
They care about getting through day by day. They don’t plan. There are certain areas of the country where people are very health conscious, but in general they just want to get through the day. When I was in practice I would ask people, ‘Do you want me to fix this, or do you want to just be able to get back on the golf course?’ They just want to fix it, but one thing they care about more than themselves is their kids, and I figured if we could save the kids, it’s worth it, because I’ve had kids coming through my practice for the past 23 years drugged up on every medication.
On this, that, and the other thing. Uppers, downers, ADD/ADHD medications, allergy medications, antibiotics, constantly and if the parents knew what we knew, hopefully they would do some of what we do. That was why I geared my life towards educating parents on how to raise their kids healthily. Even if they don’t want to do it for themselves, because ultimately kids play follow the leader. We hope that parents now want to be the leader for their kids to follow.
Gail: Exactly. I will honestly say, Brian, when I first started with you, I had some minor things going on. They certainly didn’t manifest in anything, but it was through your testing and like, ‘This is wrong, and this is wrong’. Fortunately, I respond really, really well and very quickly can turn around. That’s also what’s amazing, how quickly your body, with the right care, can respond to getting into alignment and into healthy being. I was also working out. I also eat well. It’s the whole package. Talk to me about DREAM, the whole package, because that’s what drew me to you. Not that you could crack my back, but there is so much more to it.
Brian: Exactly, and it’s all about the lifestyle because the true goal of a chiropractor should be to make his profession obsolete. Nobody should even need to get adjusted. First off, let’s look at what a chiropractor does, because chiropractors say that we get to the cause of the problem. No, we get to some causes before they become real problems. What a chiropractor does is they want to make sure that the spine is in proper alignment, so the brain and the body communicate optimally, because ultimately, you live your life through your nervous system.
Every organ, every muscle, every gland, every tissue, every cell in the body knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it because the brain tells it so. How does that work? Brain sends electrical messages down the spinal cord, out the nerves of different body parts so they know how to function. What causes a person to go out of adjustment or out of alignment that puts pressure on the nerve, messing up the message between the brain and the body, we call those subluxations. What causes that is the inability to adapt to a stressor in life, and we have chemical, physical, and emotional stressors everywhere we look.
Chemical stressors could be foods that we eat that we might have an allergy to, that might not look healthy, may be genetically modified or has pesticides, pollution that we breathe in. Those are all examples of chemical stressors. We all have them; we can’t get rid of them all. Then you have emotional stressors. This could be finances, relationships, your occupation, your schooling, testing, loss. There are so many different emotional stressors that we have. Then of course, it’s physical stressors. That could be exercising improperly or not exciting at all. It could be a fall, an accident, sleeping improperly, walking on bad footwear. We all have physical stress.
Every single one of us have chemical, physical, and emotional stressors every day in life. and when you don’t adapt to a stressor it can cause you to go out of adjustment or to subluxate, in which case, now you need a chiropractor. The idea is if you live the DREAM lifestyle you should be able to adapt to and neutralize chemical, physical, and emotional stressors. DREAM is an acronym for those five facets, or the five keys of a wellness lifestyle. D is for diet. Diet is everything that goes into your body from the outside world to the inside world. It’s everything you eat, drink, taste, touch, smell, feel, hear, all the movies you watch, and all the people you spend time with. It’s just as much part of your diet as the food you consume.
Many of us have heard the old computer term GIGO, garbage in garbage out. You put garbage in your body whether it’s through your mouth or through your eyes and ears. You don’t get garbage out. R is for relaxation. That’s giving your body a chance to call timeout to reset, repair, regenerate, rejuvenate yourself. That state of respite and tranquility is what allows you to reset your body and get ready for the next moment in life. The next day, the next minute, the next week, whatever it is. We need to relax. We need to sharpen our axe on a regular basis.
E is for exercise. That’s any physical or mental activity. That could be obviously, working out in a gym, but also mental exertion such as crossword puzzles, reading good stimulating books and magazines that keep your mind sharp. Skip A for a second. M is for mental wellness. That’s connecting your inner purpose and passion to your outer goals and tasks in all things of life. It’s being aligned with self-esteem, self-worth, self-values, and so on and so forth. It’s creating a process in life where when you wake up in the morning instead of saying ‘Oh God, it’s morning’ you say, ‘Oh God, it’s morning’. You’re excited, you’re happy and you’re ready to go.
You’re putting on that armor and that mental wellness is the process of creating that. There are tons and tons and tons of things that you can do to make sure that you’re living compatibly with the D R E M in your life, and if you are you should stay in adjustment, which is the aim, which is being in balance mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally, and having optimal brain-body communication through the nervous system. The key is when you’re living that DREAM lifestyle, you are avoiding, and whatever you can’t avoid, neutralizing chemical, physical, emotional stressors which are ultimately what are causing dis-ease leading to disease in our lives.
Gail: That’s amazing, and your DREAM Wellness facilities, if you will, are all about that. It’s not just chiropractic. You have coaches there; you have personal trainers there. You have all of the access so that the full DREAM tools are accessible to your clients because it is really the full package which is really amazing. Through all of this you’ve decided, number one, to move to Florida. You left California, you have sites in New York and in California, you’re now in Florida, welcome to the east coast, and you wrote a book. Why did you move and tell us about your book?
Brian: I did not actually want to write a book, I had to write a book. I started writing the book over a decade ago, and it was always important to get this information out there because I know I have a lot of information because you’ve been to my wellness workshops. People come back even though I gave the same workshop over and over again, they came back over and over and over again because they needed to hear all this information. I would start jotting down all this information, this is over a decade ago, like I said, and I would go weeks or months without even writing in the book, then I would write four days in a row, and then not write again.
Then COVID hits and my book went from being important to urgent because the people that were, unfortunately, being hospitalized and dying from COVID, most of them had comorbidities that could have been prevented by a better lifestyle. I said, ‘I need to get this book out there’ and at the same time a publishing company reached out to me out of the blue, and I’m like, ‘Okay, if that’s not the universe, if that’s not God speaking, I don’t know what is’.
For a year, year, and a half, I delved into the book. In the first 10 years I had written half the book. In the second year, year, and a half, I wrote the other half of the book, and it’s an extensive book. The book is a journey. It is the entire wellness lifestyle. It’s everything I talk about in the workshop but built so many layers into. Some people will read it cover to cover but I know most don’t, so I’ve created the book as a resource and a reference. The first hundred pages of the book is all about building the case for the why and how you go about living this wellness lifestyle. Talking about paradigms, lifestyles, philosophies, and everything else.
The middle of the book, which is the biggest portion of it, is what I call wellness wikis. Where I take every single thing that can be a physical, chemical, or emotional stressor and break it down. About what you should know about it, how can you avoid it, what can you do to improve it. The final part is the conclusion tying it all together. I was gonna originally call it the Wellness Bible but that could be taken in many different ways; but to make it through this Bible of a book, if you will, I created a lifestyle assessment tool, a survey called The DREAM score.
You take this 85-question survey, it’s gonna take about 25 minutes to do, and it asks you all types of questions about your lifestyle. It’s not gonna ask about your blood pressure. It’s not gonna ask about your BMI. It’s not gonna take your blood or anything like that. Those are all effects. I don’t want to know that stuff. It’s important, but I don’t want to know it. I want to know why. Why does someone have a blood pressure like this? Why are they not sleeping? Why are they in terrible relationships? Why do their kids not want to talk to them? Why do they have no relationships with their siblings, and so on, and so forth? Why, why, why, why? That’s what this questionnaire will do, this lifestyle assessment tool, and then you’ll get a report, and the report will tell you exactly where to go in the book.
If you don’t want to read the book cover to cover it will take you through it as a tour guide, and that assessment tool is absolutely free. It’s all part of the book. You buy the book, and then you get the assessment tool, and you get all the resources that come with it. I’ve got over 50 different resources and guides that go with helping you live that DREAM.
Gail: That is absolutely amazing. I know you and your beautiful, darling wife have been about assessing who you are, what’s important to you, what your lifestyle should be like for, oh my God, it’s over 10 years now. Is it that long? It’s been a long time, and I know, for me, one of the assessments that came out during that is that I’m a complex case, no kidding. On many levels, but I need to rest and that means corporate nine to five does not work for me and it is true. If you talk to anyone who used to work for me, they will say, ‘After 2:30 don’t even bother. She’s toast after 2:30’.
Now, because I have my own business, I have nap time. I take a 20-minute power nap, and I can go ’til nine or ten o’clock at night and I’m up at four o’clock in the morning ready to go. It’s all because I can accept that this is who I am and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s who you are. What you do is help people figure out what’s going on in their life, but who are they, right?
Brian: Yes, who are they and what are they? What makes them tick? By the way, you were so helpful to Brooke as she was getting her business started out there, you did some business coaching for her. So, for your audience out there that’s listening, I know you still do coaching, right?
Gail: I still coach, yes.
Brian: You’re one of the best out there. Not only a great podcast interviewer but an amazing coach, and you helped Brooke really got started with the business. She offers a tool called the ULT, the Ultimate Life Tool, and it lets you know not only who you are, but what are you? What drives and motivates you? How do you learn and download information? How do you perceive life? What’s your tolerance towards people, places, and things? Do you see the cup as half full or half empty?
It helps somebody understand that perfection, for somebody like you, Gail, since you brought it up, one of the things that that test revealed was that you need to get that relaxation. You need to take a nap in the middle of the day, and there are so many people that would be considered lazy, but it’s just how they’re built, and when you understand everyone’s perfection you learn to accept them. Not just tolerate them, but to accept them in their own perfection. I did write about that quite a bit in the book so anyone that gets the book will learn all about the ULT, as well. It’s a great resource for them to have access to, of course.
Gail: It absolutely is. I’ll tell you; I refer to it frequently. I’ve not had anyone who’s asked to take it because then I would send them to Brooke immediately, but what it did for me, and what you’ve done for me, is not only identify, but like you said, accept that this is who I am. When you accept that this is who I am, you drop the resistance and opinions or perceptions from outside don’t matter because it’s accepting who you are. That is a huge stress reliever, and I honestly think that has a lot to do with the fact that when I do have to see a chiropractor — you worked on me twice because of my shoulder just a few months ago where I couldn’t do this.
Do I need more work? Yes, I do, but I could not even raise my arm and it’s that simple. ‘Gail, this is what’s wrong and this is what’s wrong. This is gonna hurt. Are you ready? [click] Done’ and I’m like, ‘I didn’t like that’.
Brian: Of course, you still have your regular subluxations corrected, also when you’re under lifestyle care, as well. But yes, your body was so resilient because you live that DREAM lifestyle. You are practicing what we are preaching here that ultimately, when you are taking all the right measures to avoid the chemical, physical, and emotional stressors, you shouldn’t need a lot of chiropractic care, you shouldn’t have a lot of health ailments, and you shouldn’t need lots of medications.
Gail: No, none. Zero medication.
Brian: Zero to one, exactly. People blame their woes in life on bad luck, bad germs, and bad genes, as opposed to, in many cases, it’s bad choices. Not always, but in many cases. We can avoid a lot of bad things and promote really good things by being conscious in our living and having that lifestyle consistent with the DREAM.
Gail: We’ll go down one path and then I want to come back to the children. I really do want to come back to that book. I have some very great, dear friends, more than one, they have chronic Lyme disease. In one case it will never be cured because she had it for 30 years before they discovered it. By then she had holes in her brain, in her heart, and the American Medical Society doesn’t want to even touch her. She lives a DREAM lifestyle. She eats healthy, she works out, she works through the pain.
Sometimes when I was in San Diego, she would call me and I’d go over and just hold her because the pain was too much, but because of that she dances. She’s supposed to be in a fetal position in her bed, and she competes and dances because she does everything she can to live as healthy as she can, regardless of what’s going on in her life. There’s a person who is an inspiration. If she can live a healthy lifestyle, I have no excuse.
Brian: Absolutely, and she doesn’t complain about it, does she?
Gail: Not at all.
Brian: Somebody I was introduced to in San Diego, Eadie Egger, she’s a holocaust survivor. She’s written New York Times best sellers. An amazing, amazing woman, and she said something that was so profound. She said, ‘Just because you’ve been victimized doesn’t mean you need to be a victim’ and I know your audience has dealt with a lot of pain. Emotional pain, physical pain in the past, and whether it was victimized by another person, by themselves, or whatever it is, you don’t need to be a victim. You can choose to be a victor, and it sounds to me like your friend has chosen the victor path even though it hasn’t been an easy path.
Gail: It has not been easy, but like I said, she will call me from time to time. You cannot navigate through this stuff alone and that’s why people like Brian, people like me, we’re here to help you when you’re at that edge and it’s like, ‘Okay, I can’t do it alone right now’, and it’s fine. Reach out. That’s why we’re here. Your DREAM Wellness book is specifically written for children, but It’s not. It is, but it’s not.
Brian: It’s written to parents for the children. Children are not gonna read the book. It’s not a children’s book. It doesn’t have color pictures in it and stuff like that, but it’s for the parents. Even if somebody doesn’t have children, 80 to 90% of the book is going to be valuable information because everything we’ve talked about, about the D R E A M and health and wellness, 80 to 90% of that book is going to be good for anybody who just wants to be healthier, but I specifically geared this towards parents because I want the kids to live a better lifestyle so they don’t feel the problems that so many parents have dealt with.
Gail: Absolutely. We could go on and on, I could talk to you for hours, Brian, about all of this stuff.
Brian: And we do.
Gail: I know, but we’re going to cut this off. What I want you to do is to let people know, number one, how they can get in touch with you personally if they want to, and then how they can get the book. Share that with us.
Brian: To get in touch with me personally you can always shoot me an email. Put in the subject line, ‘Gail Kraft something’ or something about the podcast so I know it’s not spam. I get about 200 emails a day and it keeps ramping up more and more. My email address is email@example.com. That’s the email, and the book is dreamwellnessbook.com. You’ll get all the information about where to purchase it on Amazon and all the other websites, or through my website directly. Either one.
There’s also lots of bonuses. I have a bonus there, it’s a 60–70-page e-book that I created called Mastering Self Love, learning about how to understand you. I’ve got how to read food labels, everything about vitamins and minerals, I’ve got digital detox on there, getting kids to reduce their screen time. Like I said, the book has 50 bonuses, but if you go to the dreamwellnessbook.com website page, by putting in your name and email address you’ll get those downloads immediately. Lots and lots of bonuses and opportunities for you.
Gail: Fantastic. I’ll have all of this in the write-up so people will be able to get to it. Thank you so much, Brian, for your time in this, and honestly, if this has inspired you or excited you, or even piqued a curiosity, comment below. We’d be happy to respond to you. Share it if you know someone who could use this information. We’d be happy to spread the good word, and again, this is Gail Kraft from the Empowering Process podcast. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you, Brian, so much for your time.
Brian: Thank you, Gail.
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