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From addiction to rehabilitation

Subscribe to The Common Scents Podcast

Frank Palmieri’s life spiraled out of control when he became addicted to painkillers. Eventually, he found his way through Bikram Yoga.

[00:00:16.655] – TAMAR:
Hey, everybody, I am so happy to bring you episode 56 of the Common Scents podcast. I have Frank here and Frank is visiting from a classroom. He’ll explain in a moment. Thank you so much for joining. Where are you physically in the world besides the classroom and what are you doing right now?

[00:00:36.935] – Frank Palmieri:
Thanks for having me. So I live, my wife and I moved to Buford, South Carolina, last year, December 2019. We just got to the point where we were tired of the Northeast and wanted warmer weather. And so we we visited here and fell in love with it. And it was a wrap, six month turnaround.

[00:01:01.295] – TAMAR:
Where in the northeast were you before?

[00:01:04.295] – Frank Palmieri:
So born and raised in Brooklyn, Sheepshead Bay.

[00:01:07.385] – TAMAR:
Nice. Nice. I was born in Brooklyn also.

[00:01:09.875] – Frank Palmieri:
All right. Right on. So I was pretty I was a bad kid. I got into a lot of trouble. My father decided that before he had to put me six feet under, as he liked to say, he moved. So he picked up the family. We moved to Pennsylvania when I was 16, I think, what was that, circa 1986? And and I lived in Pennsylvania until 2019.

[00:01:35.405] – TAMAR:
Nice. Nice. So we’re in Pennsylvania? Now I have to ask you that one.

[00:01:38.195] – Frank Palmieri:
OK, sure. I’m sorry. Lancaster.

[00:01:40.335] – TAMAR:
Oh ok.

[00:01:41.405] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah. So south central, it’s it’s right in the middle of everything now and a half from Philly.

[00:01:47.645] – TAMAR:
Yeah. I went, I did a Turkey Hill museum and I did the Amish country stuff.

[00:01:52.565] – Frank Palmieri:
So the Turkey Hill Museum, literally two miles from where I live.

[00:01:58.565] – TAMAR:
Yeah. Those are the tourist attractions. It’s all familiar. Yeah. My my husband’s actually from Pennsylvania. Scranton. Yeah. Cool.

[00:02:05.915] – Frank Palmieri:
Home of The Office.

[00:02:07.145] – TAMAR:
That’s right. That’s really what they’re known for. And honestly, if you’ve ever been to Scranton, Pennsylvania, you would realize that there are just two types of people there. There are college students and they are very religious Jews. So, yes, we follow the second camp.

[00:02:19.595] – Frank Palmieri:
I think I actually spent a couple of nights in Scranton then and whoo, it’s special.

[00:02:24.005] – TAMAR:
It’s a very interesting dynamic, 100%.

[00:02:26.735] – Frank Palmieri:
Yes.

[00:02:27.505] – TAMAR:
Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Well, that’s awesome. So you are physically, what do you do?

[00:02:32.615] – Frank Palmieri:
So I am a teacher. I’ve been in education for 22 years. So my first job was in York City, York High. I worked in York City from 2000 to 2019. I actually thought I would end up retiring there. York City, it gets a lot of bad press. There’s a lot of bad things that go on, but it’s your typical like urban environment, high impoverished rate. But you know what? The community itself is just made up of some terrific souls. And to work there was really a gift. I enjoyed my time there thoroughly and honestly, that’s what sucked the most about moving, you know what I mean? Was leaving that job.

[00:03:20.205] – TAMAR:
Yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s funny, Not like I’m going to throw away, “hey, I’m from Brooklyn. My husband’s from Scranton.” I was just doing, I do genealogy and I like to know about my cousins, my distant cousins. And I noticed that a lot of I think that a lot of my cousins actually went to York High. I don’t know, I don’t remember which ones, because I go through a lot of people and names, but yeah, there are a lot of people in Lancaster who came from that area. So they probably have had, like these are just [super distant relatives], they have no idea that I exist, but I know who they are because that’s what I do. I like to, it’s not just about the ancestors, but it’s about the cousins and who they are. And I like figuring that stuff out. So you probably have actually you probably know them more than I do.

[00:04:08.545] – Frank Palmieri:
[I taught] quite a few kids. In the middle of my teaching career, also serving in York City, I was an administrator, so I co-ran there alternative building. And I basically hopped from school to school. And then I landed at McKinley for the last five years, no, the last three years of my wanting to be an administrator. And then I went back into teaching. I had enough of dealing with adults.

[00:04:38.435] – TAMAR:
Yeah, I get it. They’re not as easy.

[00:04:41.545] – Frank Palmieri:
Oh, I tell you what, I take kids and parents all day long. But as an administrator, I needed a vacation just from the people in my building and they were all good people. But when you’re that close for that amount of time and everybody is talking about something, they care a lot and have a lot invested in. Yeah. Makes for some long days.

[00:05:02.585] – TAMAR:
I can only imagine. I could, I could totally. I hear you. Not if it doesn’t work for everyone. It’s challenging. 100%. Yeah. Yeah. So you and I met in the David Goggins Facebook group and you told me that you had a story. I was recruiting for the podcast, as I normally do across a plethora of Facebook groups that really align with me, and the goal that I have of talking about rising above adversity. So I wanted to hear your story from your own words where you have come, because you do have, I think, I block it out of my mind because I want to come from this blank slate, but from what I remember reading the comments, your story was definitely the most inspirational of those that of the few people who shared it publicly. So tell me a little more about that.

[00:05:51.985] – Frank Palmieri:
All right. So, I mean, I think my whole life, my life basically started in 2015. I think I spent every waking moment and sleeping moment up into 2015 just trying to find myself. And when you’re young, you really don’t know how to you don’t know what that means. You just know things are uncomfortable and you don’t know why and you don’t, how do you ask for help? You know what I mean? So I think when I look back, that was a lot of my problem going through school and just what came across as a bad kid was just the kid that was just trying to find himself. And that kind of like just followed me the whole way through. Before I wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to be a cop. And I had taken all the tests for the area police. I was living in Lancaster, but I was accepted the—I took the test for New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and during that time, I took a job at the Lancaster County Prison. And that job, even that job was actually, that was the universe talking to me, because it was during that time that I realized that I really didn’t want to be a cop. My idea of what I was going to do versus what it really was and then the type of people that I would be hanging around kind of made me very uncomfortable. And while I was in jail, well, while I was working in the jail, I did help a couple of guys get their GEDs and it just made [sense], like something clicked and so that’s when I became well, started school to be a teacher and eventually becoming a teacher.

[00:07:31.675] – TAMAR:
You said that was 2015?

[00:07:33.895] – Frank Palmieri:
Say that again?

[00:07:34.945] – TAMAR:
You said that that year was 2015?

[00:07:37.045] – Frank Palmieri:
Well no no no. The year like when I like when everything comes [together], 2015 is like the big pinnacle point. It seemed like everything in my life is working towards 2015. It makes sense in my head.

[00:07:52.375] – TAMAR:
No worries, no worries.

[00:07:53.545] – Frank Palmieri:
Because 2015, 2015, that’s where I decided to get sober. And so that’s when I was, that’s when I truly, really found myself I think, you know what I mean? Yeah. I become the teacher and the teacher really, it feeds my soul. It did back then. It was giving me something that I wasn’t getting and what this job has given me, I can never pay back. Never. But during that time, I also got married and my first wife, I have nothing bad to say about her, it was just the timing of the universe was just a little off for me. I think every relationship when there’s an issue, it takes two to feed that issue or to fix that issue, and I think we were just feeding because we didn’t know how to fix, so in the midst of that, we had two children and Joey and Maya are beautiful, I love them and they’re 20 and 21 now. So what happened in the middle of that marriage that was basically taking the downturn, I stopped to help a kid push out of snow one night. And it’s probably like the 20th year anniversary for that. And I’m pushing and I go over to the car to push them out of, help him push, I slipped on some ice, I fall backwards and I tore my quad tendon. And, you know, that just started a whirlwind of over the next 10 years, I have 13 operations and basically a doctor’s prescription pad at my at my asking, you know, I mean, I had a doctor that was that was basically giving me as many pills as I needed, and at first it was for the pain. I mean, I had some pretty extensive surgeries over those ten years. But eventually it becomes, for me, it became something more. And because of the bad marriage and just my unwillingness to address myself or anything around me, I just developed a pretty mean appetite for pain pills. And towards the end, the last year and a half, two years, there was a doctor writing me a script for three hundred pills every two weeks.

[00:10:07.645] – TAMAR:
Wow. Wow. So you said you had torn your, your what?

[00:10:12.925] – Frank Palmieri:
My quad tendon. So my left quad tendon, it attaches to your knee. And that’s a funny story too because this will give you a little insight to my dad was: so like after I put my hand down my leg and I’m checking my leg because there was a loud snap when I thought it was a bone. As soon as I put my hand on my hip, I realized my quad was all jumped up there and I knew what it was. So I had to call an ambulance. And this poor kid is just like, “man, I just wanted my car [started].” So I called an ambulance. I called my dad to come get my car. And my dad comes. He’s like he comes over to me, and he’s an old Italian guy, spent spent a tour in Vietnam, and he has no time for bullshit ever. And he looks at me, he goes, “What are you doing? What happened?” I said, “I stopped help the kid” and he kicks me. Why the fuck are you stopping to help a kid?” And he walks away. [laugh]

[00:11:08.335] – TAMAR:
He’s a hardass.

[00:11:14.135] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah, yeah. I think that was just him showing, you look back on it, he he didn’t know how to express any of those concerns, that’s how they came out. It’s things about him I didn’t realize until after he passed, you know what I mean? You reevaluate, you reflect on things. And it’s that’s how it came out because he never was taught it, he never learned it. So you’re doomed to repeat, right?

[00:11:43.255] – Frank Palmieri:
So I’m in the middle of this. I’m coming to a crossroads with the addiction. By this time, I had my divorce. Me and my kids were on, I had custody of the kids, we’re on our own for about three years. And then Joy, who’s my wife, we reconnected. We dated back in the 90s. It was the wrong time. And somehow we managed, with the universe, brought us back together and it’s been beautiful ever since. And so I have everything in my life is like on the right path, but I’m still taking these pills. So I was really fighting that because I knew why I was taking them, I knew why I took them, because I was trying to numb everything. I just wanted to forget, I didn’t want to be with it. Now I know everything is good. I want to be with it. So while I’m struggling with that, I’m still eating the pills.

[00:12:39.715] – Frank Palmieri:
And then October 7, 2015, I’m sitting down just like I did every night and I drank. Drinking was never a problem for me, but it was part of the bigger problem, if that makes sense. So every night I would have a couple of scotches and I would crumble up some of those pills in those glasses and drink on them. And that was my nightly cocktail for like 15 years. So as I’m sitting there, I remembered that a friend had given me a fentanyl patch and I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s right, I got that.”

[00:13:14.005] – Frank Palmieri:
And I’m like, the kids are in bed. We’re watching TV. All right. I’m going to go check it out. So I go in the back and I grab it. I’m in the bathroom and I’m looking at it and I’m like, if I put it on me, Joy is going to see it because she’s like Superman eyes, nothing gets past her. So I’m like, fuck it. I open it up. I ripped it all out with a finger and I line my gun with it.

[00:13:38.725] – Frank Palmieri:
Now at that point. I’ve never done fentanyl, I didn’t know what to expect. When I told my wife this story and I just told her maybe a year ago because I didn’t want to upset her, which it did upset her, guess can’t protect people, but so I lined my gum with it. And, you know, my wife asks me, well, why didn’t you just do a little under my nail? There’s no such thing as a little when you’re talking to an addict. It is like all or nothing, right. So I go back to the couch and I’m sitting there and that’s the, and I still remember, it was like the biggest, best incredible high I’ve ever had. And while I’m laying there, literally just like one big blob, I notice that my breathing was getting very labored, like very labored. And I’m like, oh, shit. I think I’m going into, I think I might be ODing because there was nothing I can do to get my breath like where I wanted it.

[00:14:37.365] – TAMAR:
Great that you had a sense of awareness.

[00:14:38.925] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah. And I don’t even know why I had that awareness. So now I’m arguing with myself, “what am I going to do?” I don’t want to call an ambulance because that’ll just, I got my wife, I got the kids and I was ready to tell anybody yet .My kids didn’t know. Joy knew I took the pills and she gave me my space with it with a little pressure but she never came at me. It was never “this or that” because I honestly, I was functional and I wasn’t abusive, air quotes on that abusive because that could look a lot of different ways.

[00:15:14.745] – TAMAR:
Yeah, no, of course

[00:15:15.885] – Frank Palmieri:
Giving her the stress of me taking the pills was abusive in itself. So I’m arguing with myself and I’m like, “all right, we’ll just go for a fucking walk.” Here it is October. I’m in shorts and a t shirt and I’m like, “all right, we’re going to go for a walk.”

[00:15:28.635] – Frank Palmieri:
And then I’m still like, “but man, this high is pretty good.”

[00:15:32.835] – TAMAR:
Yeah.

[00:15:33.315] – Frank Palmieri:
So I get up and I put on my sandals and I’m walking and I’m like, “Joy, I’m going for a walk. I don’t feel good.” And she’s like, “what’s wrong?” I said, “the pills are hitting me the wrong way,” which is a believable story. And I went for the longe— I was out there for about forty five minutes. I walked it off like I was able to get my breath back and everything and it was at that point that I was like, all right, “I got to get sober because I can’t do this anymore.” So October 9th, one day later, I wanted to get everything in order. I wanted to get my head in order because I knew the detox, because I was doing it cold by myself. I knew it was going to be a challenge. And even though I’ve detoxed before it, I detoxed before many times but I wasn’t committed, you know what I mean? So I was only lying to myself going through the motions with those prior detoxes. This time I knew I meant it. So I had to mentally prepare for it because it wasn’t, I wasn’t necessarily afraid of getting sick. I mean, sick is what it is. It’s the the mental part of it, the mind, the mindset, the cravings and everything else that I had to get my mind wrapped around. So I went through the three days. It wasn’t bad. I was probably sick total for about four weeks. But the cravings, like my brain, was literally hurting, like it wasn’t a headache. Like it was just like somebody just like you just fell and splat. So I and I was struggling and I didn’t want to relapse. I went talked to my doctor. My doctor hooked me up with a Suboxone clinic in Lancaster. And I went on that and everything was cool. Everything was good. I wasn’t high and I wasn’t drinking, everything was moving in the right direction. I was just starting the and I went on the Whole30, which is a diet. It’s great for what it does. And I lost about one hundred pounds at the time. I got to seventy five and I went back, I went down to like one eighty and in about three months. Over the course of those three months also, what happened was the Suboxone started to get me high because my tolerance was tanking so I was about at this time I think it was about ten months maybe that I was on the Suboxone. I read about like with the detox would be every everybody’s talking about weaning off. And like I said earlier, if you’re an addict, there’s no such thing as weaning. You want it all. And so I just flushed it all down the toilet and went about it cold. Suboxone is the worst drug to ever like fuckin—I’m sorry about the cursing.

[00:18:30.675] – TAMAR:
Nah, it’s okay, don’t worry, this is a very open and vulernable and raw, it’s perfect.

[00:18:37.665] – Frank Palmieri:
Suboxone is the worst thing to [quit cold turkey]. I was sick for nine weeks, severe flulike symptoms for about five weeks. This is five years ago. There are days where I’ll get in a good yawn and I could still taste it. It’s a synthetic opiate. And I think the way in the way it attaches to you is just crazy. It helped me through a difficult point.

[00:19:08.625] – Frank Palmieri:
Had I known I had to walk through that, I never would have done it. I would have just bit the bullet, grind it out. But yes. This is my personal experience with it right away. It’s different for every other recovering addict out there. And for a lot of them, it’s saving their lives. For me personally, I detoxed off of OxyContin, which was like four days of like living hell. I’d rather walk through that and go through Suboxone again.

[00:19:46.425] – TAMAR:
Wow. Well, you know, I have a question for you. Forgive me for the ignorance of this type of thing, but, in the future, especially because you feel like you could potentially relapse off of pills, like, is it basically prohibited to ever, well, I guess you can’t take addictive medications or addictive pills in the future, but how does that work?

[00:20:10.005] – Frank Palmieri:
Well, it works that I just grit and bear. Basically, since I’ve been sober, I have had carpal tunnel surgery and shoulder surgery and I had a gallbladder out and no narcotics were used for any of those.

[00:20:26.955] – TAMAR:
Wow. That’s incredible. Incredible stamina.

[00:20:31.785] – Frank Palmieri:
Well, what I’m going to have to say is like every like everybody was talking about how bad the carpal tunnel is. And the doctor gave me the medication anyway. The scripts for the medication, which I just threw out. In five years, I’ve never felt tempted to take pills to get high. So I’m in I’m in a really good place.

[00:20:51.615] – TAMAR:
That’s great.

[00:20:52.845] – Frank Palmieri:
And the booze I don’t miss at all. I’ll have a drink on March 7th just to toast my dad, but that’s about it, but even with that drink, I feel that underneath my skin for about three hours. It’s horrible.

[00:21:09.045] – TAMAR:
But I have the same feeling about it. I don’t drink at all because I do feel underneath my skin. I don’t like the way that feels. I get very sensitive and my elbows—not my elbows, my wrists and my ankles. It’s not a feeling of drunkenness. I’ve never quite gotten drunk, so I don’t like it. Yeah, I get it.

[00:21:27.795] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah. I mean it’s poison. And again, I’m at work. If you drink, knock your socks off. Like I said, I’ll have a small little drink in honor of my dad. But, I forgot where I was. I was talking about the Suboxone, yeah.

[00:21:46.545] – TAMAR:
So Suboxone, no no, that’s totally fine. It’s great. So Suboxone was something you were taking when you had you had ripped your quad tendon or is that something that was given to you?

[00:21:54.585] – Frank Palmieri:
No. So through the ten years of surgeries and everything, it was just different grades of opiates. So I went from Vicodin to Percocet. I had about maybe almost ten months on OxyContin where I was probably had close to maybe about one hundred eighty milligrams in me a day.

[00:22:18.795] – TAMAR:
Yeah. Wow.

[00:22:19.665] – Frank Palmieri:
So it was a hefty habit and then detoxed off of that and I detoxed off of that and I went straight to Vicodin and then that’s how I finished up my career.

[00:22:29.815] – TAMAR:
Your career. [laugh] Yeah. Let me let me ask you a weird question, a very personal question. But Percocet is freaking constipating. How do you take that in such quantities?

[00:22:40.035] – Frank Palmieri:
So I was just talking about this literally to somebody yesterday.

[00:22:44.115] – TAMAR:
I’m glad I brought it up.

[00:22:45.375] – Frank Palmieri:
They were talking about opiates and being constipated. I’m like, you know what? Son of a bitch. I never had to deal with that.

[00:22:51.735] – TAMAR:
Yeah, I guess some people do.

[00:22:53.265] – Frank Palmieri:
So, yeah, I never had to do that. And I don’t know if that has to do with my diet or I have no, I literally have no idea.

[00:23:03.135] – TAMAR:
Well, you’re very lucky in that sense. Taking it after giving birth to kids, I mean, maybe that’s part of it. It’s really difficult.

[00:23:10.325] – Frank Palmieri:
Oh yeah.

[00:23:11.075] – TAMAR:
Yeah. Good to know. Some people are very lucky I guess. Yeah. But then again, the alternative is you take it and then you it’s addictive to some and it’s constipating to others. Yeah. I guess I prefer the constipation although it is, it’s like I just want to kind of walk away from because there is—

[00:23:28.755] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah, and it’s not something that I wish because when you’re living that life you tend to be around more people who are, you know, you recognize the pill heads. That’s a conversation I can literally say I’ve never had with any other like pill head.

[00:23:49.005] – TAMAR:
Yeah, yeah.

[00:23:54.665] – Frank Palmieri:
So I [got] sober. I had lost 100 pounds using the Whole 30 and I put it all back on inside of a year and I contributed that to, the Whole 30, I’ve seen it work wonders for people and it does a good job. It just didn’t resonate with me. And I think that’s how diets go in—

[00:24:18.785] – TAMAR:
It’s very difficult. The Whole 30 is basically eating whole foods for like—it’s not whole foods, but you can’t have. The protein bars I used to live off of, I remember I was very dependent on them when when I learned about the Whole 30. You can’t really have processed food at all. It’s basically I guess. Right. But do you want to share?

[00:24:36.365] – Frank Palmieri:
Basically it’s carbs that that’s what they essentially take out, so it’s almost like it’s almost like an Atkins diet.

[00:24:44.225] – TAMAR:
Right.

[00:24:45.185] – Frank Palmieri:
A variation of Atkins. So it just it just didn’t resonate with me.

[00:24:51.275] – TAMAR:
But you did it. You did it. You were able to do it. I could. And I thought about it. I read about it. And I’m like, no.

[00:24:55.895] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah, I did it. But I put it right back on it and it was also going this time I found Bikram yoga and and man, Bikram yoga, that’s what saved my life. I mean, I’ve always been an avid runner. I played rugby, I ride a bike a lot and but and I just started swimming, which is incredible. With Bikram yoga, it’s just you in this very hot room looking at a mirror and it’s just you and your shit and and you just got to be there for 90 minutes in the middle of all that and suffer through it. And the only person who could control how bad or how easy that suffering is, is you. I’ve put hours in studios where I just like no mercy on myself whatsoever. And that’s kind of true now, depending on the exercise, I might be a little bit harder on myself, but it’s coming from a place of love and kindness, not of like eating myself. So that’s how it started. But through that, I became I found a plant based diet. Weighing 275, I was on six medications, type two by diabetic, me and my wife were on vacation, my buddy text me. He goes, “Hey, do you have a favorite watch, ‘what the hell?'” And we’re in Ocean City and it’s like Friday night. We’re not doing anything. I’m like, “Oh, let’s put it on.” And that was it. We got home Sunday and we were full fledged plant based family.

[00:26:36.805] – TAMAR:
I’m very into Veestro, the plant based mail order company, they’re a great option.

[00:26:42.485] – Frank Palmieri:
I’ve heard about them.

[00:26:44.015] – TAMAR:
It’s good. It’s good. And I’m picky about food. Sometimes.

[00:26:47.895] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah. So yeah. And that’s been for years now. And so when I became plant based the yoga started making more sense.

[00:26:59.405] – TAMAR:
That makes sense.

[00:26:59.405] – Frank Palmieri:
And I felt like there was a big shift coming. I didn’t know what it was, but I know is I felt uncomfortable being in my own skin. And what happened was my gallbladder got sick. I’ve had a lot of painful things happen to me. That gall bladder flare up is by far the worst.

[00:27:19.895] – TAMAR:
Wow.

[00:27:20.405] – Frank Palmieri:
Like because you can’t get a peak, there’s no valley, it’s just constant. So I went to the hospital just to make sure I was OK. Not like blocked and I wasn’t blocked in there, like, so “what do you want?” They’re listing the drugs. I’m like, “man, just give me some like ibuprofen or something through the I.V.” thinking that would help. After eight hours I was tired. They had me with like a very low grade level narcotic, and that was the first time in my system in a long time. And that sent me down the rabbit hole. It was like maybe like with the dentist gives you Tylenol 4.

[00:27:58.125] – TAMAR:
Yeah.

[00:27:59.225] – Frank Palmieri:
But man, it hits so different than it did like five, you know, four years ago. Three, three years prior. So while it was a bad experience, I thought it was proof that, it has just shown my growth because if I was still in a dark place, it probably would have made me feel good as opposed of like just making me feel like, oh, “this is really bad.”

[00:28:24.395] – TAMAR:
Transformation day.

[00:28:27.965] – Frank Palmieri:
So what happened was with the gallbladder, this is why this is important, because this is where everything just comes together. I’m already now on a plant based diet for about a year. I came off most of my medications, but I haven’t really lost weight. I went from 275 down to 235. The gall bladder hits and for that I went to talk to the doctor and he’s like, “it’s bad, but it doesn’t have to come out.” And I’m like, “OK, you say could that thing happen again, like a flare up?”

[00:28:55.965] – Frank Palmieri:
He goes, “Oh that’ll happen again.” “Then we’re taking it out.” I don’t want it.

[00:29:00.605] – TAMAR:
It’s not worth it.

[00:29:02.775] – Frank Palmieri:
Because I’m on a plant based diet, I’m doing everything that you would want me to do. That means it just needs to go. It serves no purpose anyway. Let’s just get rid of it. So I had to wait two weeks and for two weeks, man, I hit my yoga twice a day and Bikram all Bikram and I truly believe that held off another flare. I got my surgery on a Monday. That Tuesday night, I was back in the yoga room just sitting there. But five days later, I was at a full practice. I went into the doctor. Two weeks later, he’s like, “what’d you do?” And I told him. He discounted the whole thing, the whole process, the plant based diet, the yoga, just being mindful, using yoga food as medicine. He discounted everything like he didn’t even want to talk to me. I think that’s just because he knows it works and he stands to lose money by telling people. So that’s what everything came together and eight months later, I had dropped the remaining like 90 percent.

[00:30:05.185] – TAMAR:
Wow.

[00:30:05.625] – Frank Palmieri:
So, yeah, without even thinking about it. Because the weight had been the focus. Now it was mind, body, soul, spirit, everything the like a holistic approach. And the weight loss was just the byproduct.

[00:30:22.425] – TAMAR:
That’s awesome. Makes it easier.

[00:30:26.335] – Frank Palmieri:
And I went two years, almost three years out and I’ve sustained it. I fluctuate depending on the time of year, 155 to about 170.

[00:30:38.865] – TAMAR:
Good for you. Yeah.

[00:30:40.245] – Frank Palmieri:
Thank you.

[00:30:41.445] – TAMAR:
Awesome. So I guess I would ask you the self-care [question], but you talk about Bikram yoga, that’s your big focus?

[00:30:48.615] – Frank Palmieri:
So Bikram yoga, that was like that was my shit, that was it. Bikram yoga and running. So when I moved from Pennsylvania, I moved to an area that doesn’t have Bikram yoga. The closest Bikram yoga studio is in Hilton Head. It’s a great studio, but when I commit to going there, it’s a four hour commitment.

[00:31:19.905] – TAMAR:
Wow.

[00:31:20.475] – Frank Palmieri:
Because it’s an hour to get there, 90 minutes in the room and then clean up and then an hour to get home. And I can’t justify it, you know what I mean? That’s too much, I’m stingy with my time and even though I know I need it. So what real what really saved me in a funny kind of way was the shutdowns, the pandemic, because I had a couple of people reach out to me and like, “oh, do you have any yoga videos or anything?” because they lost their studios. So I looked at my wife, I said, you know, “I think I’m just going to go live a couple of days a week, three days and give these people something that they can use,” not asking for any money, just, you know, try to give them a little sense of normalcy. And here I am a year later, still doing it over, I think, over we’re two thousand hours, over 200 hours of yoga.

[00:32:13.755] – TAMAR:
Wow. And it helps you because you benefit from it as well. So that’s great. Oh, yeah.

[00:32:17.835] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah. I mean, I more or less, “life of service.” That’s where I’m at. So.

[00:32:25.035] – TAMAR:
Yeah, yeah. Good for you. That’s funny because I was going to say as an entrepreneur I sense an opportunity, but you figured out a better opportunity and you benefit from it and it’s helping everybody in this in the context of coronavirus.

[00:32:36.195] – Frank Palmieri:
Right, and I also started running. I had a lot of people reaching out about plant based and this and that. So I looked at my wife, I’m like, “let’s just run a group, do a six week plant, a lifestyle change, a plant-based fitness, lifestyle change” We’ll run it for six weeks, but what we’ll do in the beginning is spend about three weeks giving them everything they need, telling them what they should be doing to get ready to do the six weeks so that they can hit the ground running and they’re not doing it cold. And we had a group of I think it was eight that went through. Everybody had something positive to say. The ones who were more mindful of their activity and what they were putting in their mouth. One guy lost thirty pounds.

[00:33:25.485] – TAMAR:
That’s great.

[00:33:25.485] – Frank Palmieri:
So we were just starting a second round and the group of people, we had. Nothing is random. Like I feel like certain people are just being sent, but in a way, everybody’s connecting and vibing at the same level, and it’s just amazing to sit back and watch because, well, we just had a Zoom meeting and just sitting back and just watching how everybody’s just connecting with. It’s been pretty cool. Yeah. So, yeah. So I’m working that end and see where that takes me.

[00:34:05.315] – TAMAR:
There are opportunities. You know what you’re doing.

[00:34:07.295] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah.

[00:34:07.715] – TAMAR:
Cool. Awesome. So I have one final question before I bring you back to your students. And that question is: if you can give an earlier version of Frank, ignoring your what your dad said about helping the kid, I’m going to put that one aside, if you can give an earlier version of Frank some advice, what would you tell him?

[00:34:26.585] – Frank Palmieri:
Be patient. Good, good. Be patient.

[00:34:29.675] – TAMAR:
Yeah, that makes that says it all. You know, I also feel very I identify with that a lot. I didn’t feel like I was living until like my late thirties. I totally get it.

[00:34:39.755] – Frank Palmieri:
And they say they say we spend our whole our entire life, you know, being a baby and a child. We spend a whole time running away from being those people and then we spend our later years trying to get back to it.

[00:34:54.285] – TAMAR:
Yeah, it’s true, that curiosity.

[00:34:56.975] – Frank Palmieri:
It is true. It is true. You you want that ease. You want that likeness in your life. You know, I love Goggins. I love what Goggins has done for everybody. But, you know, as much as I believe in the stay hard mentality, I do believe that can hurt also. Right. And I think if a person can learn to be vulnerable and honest with themselves, that’s where it all starts.

[00:35:23.475] – TAMAR:
Honestly, and I had previous guest, Carl Johnson, and I was telling him, Goggins is nuts. It’s an amazing book. Great book. Yeah. But he’s just, I’m sorry, he thinks he’s human and all humans can relate to him and they should read his book and become superhuman like him. But he’s totally superhuman and we’re all just readers of this book. We’re not going to get there.

[00:35:44.645] – Frank Palmieri:
He’s like the same guy that happens to become like a football player, a professional footballer. You know, he’s just in a class by himself. And yeah, I think he’s just always so [exclamation].

[00:35:56.655] – TAMAR:
Yeah, I mean, it’s incredible. It’s incredible. I think everybody should read that stuff, but you can’t wake up one day and be like, I’m going to be a football player. It’s just, you can’t, but he could! He could! That’s that’s a great analogy. I love it.

[00:36:09.575] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah. Yeah, and how many how many of those people are actually walking around? A better a better question would be: a better question would be how many of those people were walking around who haven’t tapped into it or are afraid to?

[00:36:24.185] – TAMAR:
Right. And that’s that’s why I think he really he is able to exploit that because I think he has that within him. But I think the average being we could definitely try to beat our mental defenses. And that’s really what his book is about, going beyond mental defenses. But it’s still, I’ll tell you, my mileage pace, if I’m lucky, maybe one day I could get a sub-ten minute mile. Maybe. And that’s normal, like a lot of people, people my age, they’re doing, some people, I’ve seen some people on Strava, she’s doing six minute mile. She’s insane. It’s amazing, but she’s insane. It is. But it’s—

[00:37:00.785] – Frank Palmieri:
That got to be laughing because I was listening to a podcast earlier and it was some guy who almost broke the American record for a 100k at some Boca event. He ran 100K six and a half hours.

[00:37:19.475] – TAMAR:
Yeah. I have to figure out how that works out to miles but that’s, that’s

[00:37:24.545] – Frank Palmieri:
Oh, it was like a 6:08 mile.

[00:37:28.635] – TAMAR:
No, but the mileage 6:08 miles, but that’s sixty something miles. It’s crazy, it’s 62 miles.

[00:37:35.675] – Frank Palmieri:
It’s like 63 miles. That’s a 100K. Yeah I think, 63. He’s talking about how he felt the day after, he’s like “the first day, I was a little sore, so I went out for a very slow jog, like 7-8 minute mile.” I’m like, what?

[00:37:55.595] – TAMAR:
Right. Yeah. A “very slow jog.” That would be me running at my fastest, and I used to be a sprinter, I was definitely more of a sprinter. I was not a cross-country runner until, maybe, until 2018, and I still don’t consider myself anything of that sort. But that’s insane. I admire those people. I realize that there are, like you said, there are people sitting on untapped areas of potential. Yeah. And that wealth that’s there and, how many people, if they were to pick up a violin, would be able to be like an incredible, incredibly amazing violinist? I’m sure there are people out there. I’m sure. I’m sure. I’m sure there is somebody living here right now, who has never touched, the violin who is likely to be the best ever player and they will die never having touched it. I think about that all the time as well.

[00:38:48.595] – Frank Palmieri:
It’s cool and sad at the same time.

[00:38:50.445] – TAMAR:
Yeah. There needs to be a maybe, you’re in education, so you got to think about this, but I think there needs to be like a school program where we just try everything, just try everything. The “try everything school.”

[00:39:01.185] – Frank Palmieri:
I agree. You know, when they when they talk about teaching to the “whole child,” I almost have to laugh because the first things they they cut are the arts.

[00:39:11.995] – Frank Palmieri:
You know what I mean? The physical activity. And you can’t cut programs and say you’re addressing the whole child.

[00:39:19.285] – TAMAR:
Yeah. There’s so much out there. I think there’s a lot. And I mean, I’m glad..

[00:39:23.185] – Frank Palmieri:
Kids love yoga.

[00:39:26.035] – TAMAR:
I’m not flexible enough for [yoga]. I don’t know about Bikram yoga because that’s not something that I’ve done. But I can’t do the downward dog.

[00:39:35.035] – Frank Palmieri:
Here’s the thing. Here’s the thing, right. No one starts off being able to do that stuff.

[00:39:41.275] – TAMAR:
Downward dog is easy.

[00:39:45.025] – Frank Palmieri:
But I’m just saying so Vinyasa and Bikram are two different philosophies. So Bikram, you want to force the pose. You want to feel, you want to feel pain.

[00:39:55.135] – TAMAR:
Right.

[00:39:57.415] – Frank Palmieri:
It’s all about the suffering and the pain; that’s the philosophy. All right. The instructor will even say you should feel pain. That’s good. On the opposite side, you got Vinyasa, which is you’re being easy, kind, and loving to yourself.

[00:40:15.355] – TAMAR:
I didn’t know that.

[00:40:15.995] – Frank Palmieri:
So, yeah. So it’s two different [styles], where in Bikram you want to force something, in Vinyasa, if I can’t get my my leg parallel to the ground, it’s OK. I don’t have to force it. So you could be as easy or hard on yourself, but that’s just up to you and your practice.

[00:40:38.755] – TAMAR:
OK.

[00:40:40.745] – Frank Palmieri:
So you want a quick story about how I got into yoga?

[00:40:42.805] – TAMAR:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, sure. Go for it.

[00:40:44.495] – Frank Palmieri:
So I was in Bikram. I was starting to meditate. I knew what it was doing for me. At this time, I was the assistant principal at a K-8 school in our district. And there were certain kids you see every day because they were always getting in trouble. And I had about 23 of them out of a population of about 850, good kids, but just, you know, they just needed [love]. So my buddy started working at the yoga studio downtown. The house of Gilda in York, PA, give Jackie a little shout out if I’m allowed, and I partnered with them and I brought them, and we developed a program to service those kids. Only 15 signed out of out of the group, and then we had a web and stick it through and kids that were normally cursing me out every other day, were now maybe doing it like once a week, but owning it. The accountability was there and that was after several weeks of doing yoga for an hour with with Jackie and Jason for three times a week. So my principal leads it to me and I believed in the program, so we actually put money towards it, which if you know, inner city schools, we don’t have a lot of so it was an investment for sure. It was during that time that I had just gotten sober, just found Bikram and Jackie was running a teacher training. Now, you talk about your old self. Well, all I could see is my 16 year old self, like laughing at me like, ” a fucking yoga teacher, really?” It was never on my radar. So I was just like, “no, it’s just not something I’m looking to do right now.” She asks me again, maybe a couple of weeks later and I was like Jackie, “nah, I just I don’t see myself like, this isn’t why I’m doing it.” She’s like, “OK.” And for whatever reason, she just saw it; she just saw what was there. And so two weeks before the yoga training started, I was at the house yoga, doing Vinyasa practice. And afterwards she comes up to me, she goes, “what about if you take the training on a scholarship?” meaning I wouldn’t have to pay for it. So I’m like, then, I feel like the universe is like shouting at me now, like you’re either going to do this. And if you don’t, the universe is just going to kick me in the nuts. So I agreed to it. Those two weeks, so yoga training isn’t about yoga. It’s about your and your own shit. At that point, because I just got sober and everything, that was like the exclamation point for everything and actually gave me the tools I needed to go into like next year and a half where my dad would get really sick and eventually passed away. I mean, he was already sick, but everything just kind of came to a head. And if I didn’t have those tools, I would have been dead one way or another, I think, especially if I was if I didn’t gain my sobriety, that I think that might have killed me with just because I know how it was with that. So yoga training is definitely about you and your own shit and just getting clear of it so you could be good for other people.

[00:44:19.385] – TAMAR:
Right. And you know, I’ve read something about this or rather I heard it in a different podcast about how there was a guy who like went on a meditation retreat for like a week. And it’s it’s like the hardest thing ever. You’re like, basically sleeping on straw. But, it’s all about mental preparation more than anything else. Yeah. It’s really interesting.

[00:44:38.105] – Frank Palmieri:
If I wasn’t married, I probably go to India and look for an echelon to become a monk. Yeah. That’s kind of like that’s kind of like where I am in my life right now. Like I would like to know what that feels like and experience.

[00:44:52.895] – TAMAR:
I identify with that, but I don’t know if I could ever do it, although I do have that curiosity, that innate curiosity as well, living that kind of lifestyle.

[00:45:00.955] – Frank Palmieri:
Yeah, just to be happy with nothing.

[00:45:03.405] – TAMAR:
Exactly. Yeah. So I have one final question, I guess, and I don’t know how practical is because we met in a different context. But how do people find you if they’re interested in learning more?

[00:45:14.165] – Frank Palmieri:
I’d say the easiest way is through Facebook. I’m also on Instagram, but I don’t show that a lot of attention. I think it has something to do with my age and it’s just too many platforms. My daughter is going to help me out with this. She likes that social media stuff. And so she’s you know, we all saw him on Instagram by my name, Frank Palmieri. Same thing with Facebook. Feel free to shoot me a message. Yeah. I’d be more than happy to help anybody that need to, you know, go from there. Oh, cool.

[00:45:45.695] – TAMAR:
Thank you so much for your time. It was really, really fun to learn from you and sharing your journey and. Yeah. Thank you again.

[00:45:52.595] – Frank Palmieri:
Thank thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure. I really enjoyed this.

 

 

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