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March 27, 2023

Agnis Pena-Toro - Whole Health - A Fulfilling Life as a System

Agnis Pena-Toro - Whole Health - A Fulfilling Life as a System

Are you a female entrepreneur who tries to be healthy but feel like they are still missing something? Or, do you ever wonder why you don’t feel more joyful even though you look like you have it all on the outside?
On this episode of the Wellness and Wealth podcast, Agnis Pena-Toro addresses whole health and how to live more fulfilled by living life as a system. She’ll also share how you can find a spirituality that works for you, even as an agonistic or atheist.
In this episode, Agnis Pena-Toroi answers the following questions:
What does whole health mean?
Who showed her that traditional medicine is not the only way to heal our bodies?
When it comes to female entrepreneurship, what are the warning signs that they are missing components in their life?
What is the first step for a female entrepreneur to live a healthy lifestyle?

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Are you a female entrepreneur who tries to be healthy but feel like they are still missing something?  Or, do you ever wonder why you don’t feel more joyful even though you look like you have it all on the outside? 

On this episode of the Wellness and Wealth podcast, Agnis Pena-Toro addresses whole health and how to live more fulfilled by living life as a system. She’ll also share how you can find a spirituality that works for you, even as an agonistic or atheist. 

In this episode, Agnis Pena-Toroi answers the following questions:

  • What does whole health mean?
  • Who showed her that traditional medicine is not the only way to heal our bodies?
  • When it comes to female entrepreneurship, what are the warning signs that they are missing components in their life? 
  • What is the first step for a female entrepreneur to live a healthy lifestyle?


Offer: Body and Food Liberation Online Coaching Program


Offer Link:https://agnispenatoro.com/body-and-food-liberation-discovery/


Connect with Wendy Manganaro:

Connect with Wendy Manganaro:  


S3:E6 - Agnis Pena-Toro

[00:00:00] Wendy Manganaro:Hi everyone. My name's Wendy Manganaro and I am the Host of the Wellness and Wealth podcast. I'm so happy to have you find us. And if you could take a moment and hit that subscribe button, I'd really appreciate it. This is the podcast where we believe when you show up better for yourself as a woman business owner, you show up better for your business. 

So sit back, relax. And learn from the practical to the woo-hoo, how to best take care of you. Have a great day. Stay blessed. And leave a review when you're done listening to the show, thanks so much. 

[00:00:38] Wendy:Hi everyone. Welcome back. We have a special guest, Agnes Pena, Toro. I'm gonna read her bio and then we're gonna get right into it.

Agnes is a trained psychotherapist and a body and food liberation coach. She's originally from Venezuela and bilingual. She has worked in mental health settings in the US for more than 10 years, including family therapy centers, community mental health clinics, public schools, nonprofits, and private practice.

Agnes speciality is to help women heal the trauma hurt and difficult memories from the past that have impacted their relationship with their bodies and food. Her mission is to support women on their healing journey towards liberation in body, mind, and heart, so they can grow, thrive, and dream again due to her

deep personal connection. She helps women discover that there are other ways of living other than restricting their food choices and forcing their bodies to look in a look a certain way, which is a consequence have always restricted the rest of their lives. Agnes graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Agnes earned her master's degree in a clinical mental health counseling and expressive arts therapies from Leslie University. She's also certified as a trauma recovery coach, home health medicine provider, intuitive eating counselor, and body trust provider. Agnes is trained in a numerous trauma, healing and recovery models, including I.F.S., Internal Family Systems, level two, polyvagal Theory, and have participated in several trauma trainings, including Somatic Experiencing Expressive Arts for trauma, D B T, et cetera.

Her framework and orientation are based on whole health body trust. HAES (health at every size), trauma, diversity, inclusion, equality, social justice, and power and privilege. Welcome Agnes. 

[00:02:26] Agnis Pena-Tioro:I'm excited to be here. 

[00:02:29] Wendy:Thank you. I'm excited that you're here too. I'm looking forward to this conversation, we'll get right into the questions cause I always love to ask people.

What their topics mean to them. Cause I think it's so important cuz everybody has different beliefs about what something means. So I'd love to know from you, what does Whole Health mean to you? 

[00:02:46] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Yes. That's a great question. Whole Health for me goes beyond, physical health and in my case that I specialize in healing the relationship

of the body and food and whole health also goes beyond nutrition and physical exercise. So if we think about all of the different areas that are important in our life, like spirituality, Relationships, sexuality, money, life work, pleasure, playfulness, all of these different areas, believe it or not, can impact our overall health.

So whole health includes all of these areas and more, Just because we are complex beings and if we wanna live a whole life, is it's a good idea to pay attention to all of these, areas. In a nutshell, that's whole health for me. It's just this way in which we are connected to all the different parts of life that goes beyond physical health.

[00:04:01] Wendy:So that leads me to a follow up question, when we're talking about whole health, because I think that's what happens, and I would love to know your experience, is that if somebody goes through a trauma or they go through a medical, emergency or something, a lot of times they go to that doctor for that trauma or for that

medical emergency. So in your experience, how difficult is it to get somebody to see that they're probably there for more than what they think they are. 

[00:04:31] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Yeah, that's another great question. And actually I have been, facing that lately with a very close friend, who had a really bad case of, covid.

And of course the logical thing to do is just to get all of the medical treatment that you need, and of course you have to do that. And in her case, COVID made her diabetes and blood sugar levels to go out of charts and the blood sugar doesn't wanna come down. It doesn't want to. And they have tried every single thing that is available in the greater Boston area.

We have some of the best hospitals in the whole world. There is nothing that we cannot get here related to medical care and still, And I know that sometimes it is so personal and me personally, I have so many ideas and resources and I just wait until people ask for, some kind of other, suggestions but me 

personally, I will look at that issue also from different angles. I will get the medical care, but I also will take a look at my stress levels, and just see why Covid is impacting me specifically in this way. I know that there are other people who get covid and it feels like a cold, and that's said, but if the person has been under a lot of stress beyond, before getting any medical condition or including covid, that would be something to pay attention to.

Unfortunately, if you see a traditional doctor, traditional nurse, they will just stay with the medical, the traditional medical procedure. But if you go to an integrative medicine hospital, like the one I go, they have chiropractors, they have therapist, they have massage therapist.

They do energy work, body work, energy work. So I would say that looking at the physical symptoms from different angles and not only from the medical point of view, because like you asked specifically about trauma. Trauma can manifest and can impact us as human beings in so many different ways.

Not only physically, but even spiritually. In so many other ways. So I think it's worth taking a look at the same symptoms from different angles and perspectives. 

[00:07:19] Wendy:Yeah, and I agree with that too. I've had friends too. It's been similar experiences and they go back to the doctors and they're like, this doesn't work, but they haven't changed anything in their lifestyle on the other side sometimes, and it's difficult to watch, especially when it's a good friend of yours. So for you, I'd love to know a little bit more about your story and what began your journey that you found that Whole health was important?

[00:07:42] Agnis Pena-Tioro:In a nutshell, I think since I was a kid, I was exposed to complimentary alternative, treatment for medical disorders. I was exposed to my mother who couldn't find a relief for a bone medical issue that she had, and she went to someone else, to a different provider who, help her with her nutrition, also with her spirituality and stress reduction and things like that.

So she combined both treatments and the problem that she had just disappeared. And the medical doctor thought that, oh, that's because of what I told you to do. . My mom was like, no, I did other things behind your back. I'm sorry. So that was the first time that I was exposed to this perspective that actually there are other ways to heal that in addition to medications and traditional medical treatments.

So I think that was my first exposure to that, and after that I became very interested in the in the relationship between body and mind. So I wanted to learn everything that I could about body mind medicine. Body mind psychotherapy. And that has been a passion for me for many years. What's the relationship between the body and the mind?

How the mind impacts the body and vice versa. And now I will add the heart too to that question. So, your body, your mind, and your heart. So I did several trainings, the Body and Mind Connection, which led me to study whole Health at a deeper level.

[00:09:35] Wendy:It's so interesting that you said that your experience was from your mom, and that's how you found that out. It's hard to believe that can happen until you see somebody go through it and go, oh, maybe there is something to it.

Because I think many of us are disbelievers of stuff until somebody personally around them goes through something or they go through it themselves and they like, okay, everything else hasn't worked. Now I'll finally try it. So I think those are usually a catalyst of one of those two things that happened to many of us before we go.

That may be a good idea to try that. So with your journey which is interesting that you had it through your Mom as you've done this and you've learned about this, has it been one of those things like the, that when you open the door, then like all of these other doors started to open?

Because that's what the other thing I find is like once you start seeking like this works, then you really start to see where it works everywhere else. 

[00:10:31] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Yeah, I think so and I think I was looking for something else that I wasn't able to find in terms of training and in terms of medical doctors,

other serious providers, who were also doing some kind of research and work, into account the Body mind connection and all of that. And that's how I found Lisa Rankin whose a medical doctor. She has several tech talks and she has written many books. And one book that was very, impactful to me is of her medicine, where she talks about Whole Health and her Whole Health medicine institute, and she's a medical doctor who totally also believes and specializes in having this Broader perspective of what health means, and she trains medical doctors and also psychotherapists to learn the model of whole health that she created.

And I went through that training and it changed my life actually, because it also helped me to look at life in a more systemic way and you can find systems within systems everywhere. And all of these systems impact other systems and the parts that confirm that system family systems, we have the solar system nature also

works like that is a system. So we also have this system of different organs and different areas of life that it would be a good idea to pay attention to all of them cuz usually. Especially in Western societies, we focus so much on work and producing and it's a source of pride.

The more you work, the more people are gonna say oh my God, you're amazing. You work 60 hours a week and you're such a responsible person and it's great to work and make money and all of those things, but what is gonna happen to the other areas of your life?

What is the other type of price that you have to pay for that including your physical health and mental health. So I really love this perspective of thinking in terms of systems, that there are several parts that confirm this system that that is our life. And so it's worth taking a look at all of those parts, different parts.

[00:13:15] Wendy:And that actually leads me to my next question, what are the warning signs that female entrepreneurs are not paying attention to all the components in their life? 

[00:13:25] Agnis Pena-Tioro:I have had clients and I have gone through the same situation myself where

Getting the titles that you wanted to get for so long, getting the degrees and even getting the salary is not really cutting it for you. It's like, oh my God, I should be happy with all of these things that I have, but, something feels off. I don't know why I'm not happy. So just noticing this dissatisfaction, like I don't feel this joy inside of me or balance.

It's not like we have to be happy 24 7, but this general sense of life satisfaction. So I think I had that voice for years. and sometimes we don't even know what to do with it. Especially when you have friends and family members who tell you, but you should be happy. Look at you, look at what all of the things that you have.

Or maybe there are some emotional needs. Maybe there are some creativity needs that are not being fulfilled. And having creativity in our life, having pleasure, having downtime, having our emotions, balance more or less that those are also sources of happiness and joy. And not only the money, the status, the degrees and things like that.

So I would say, Pay attention to any voices that you have been having in the back of your mind. Even if you don't understand them, you're not sure about what is the clear message. Maybe find someone that you can talk to about it. Someone who is not gonna be judgemental because I'm sure that there must be someone you know close by who also has experienced the same.

[00:15:27] Wendy:And I think that's what happens is, and people don't realize this, and part of the reason why I do this show is so that female entrepreneurs don't have to feel like they're alone when they have these feelings. Because everybody goes through those feelings and and I think we forget. I think if you know, especially if you're in the health and wellness field, you would know what you're supposed to do, and then life happens and then we forget.

And then from that it's like, okay, what component or what part of my life am I not paying attention to? Because suddenly I'm feeling quite off and I don't really know why that is. But if you look, it's because you're not paying attention to something that's probably really important to your self-care and your mental health and your spiritual health.

[00:16:10] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Absolutely. Maybe you're not paying attention or you're scared of paying attention. You're a little afraid of what kind of messages and answers you can find if you do that exploration. Something else that comes to mind is that, I mentioned the book, mind Over Medicine. That book has a lot of very hands-on resources. So Lisa Rankin, she, divided this system, which has all of these different areas of our life.

Into spirituality, sexuality, there are I believe seven different areas and there are some, questionnaires in the book. So for example, relationships. So maybe you wanna, you have been hearing this voice that tells you that your relationship is not really fulfilling, but maybe you're afraid of digging deep because there are some kind of, I don't know, stability that you have with your partner financially.

So you don't wanna you don't really want to change things around, even if it doesn't feel good, but doing some reflection about it. Doesn't mean that you have to change anything, but at least you can get more data, more information that could just serve you in the future if you wanna make any adjustments or changes.

So yeah, in the book there are series of questionnaires with a specific questions that are really great just to help anyone start exploring those specific areas. So that would be one way to do it. I have helped clients to do that. Some people need support or need some accountability so you can find someone, or maybe you can do it with a friend.

Let's do it together and let's compare our questionnaires and see what else comes up after doing this exploration. But it's amazing the amount of information that we can get from doing that. 

[00:18:27] Wendy:In your experience, do people start to see that each area affects another? 

[00:18:30] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Absolutely. For some people it can be a source of shame. It could be shaming to realize how much they have neglected some very important parts of their life because they have focused so much maybe on the work area of their life. And I understand, it makes a lot of sense if someone feels bad, but

in that moment it would be nice if the person has a support system, someone that they can actually share this with. Someone who is not judgmental and can help this person to also see that but this is part of the culture too. It's not just you maybe how you were raised.

This also is connected to the value system and to the belief system where we grow up with. I'm sure if we learn all of these things since preschool, everybody will do it. So it has like an individual component, but it also has a more like of a structural component Cuz we don't live an island.

We are born in this specific culture with specific structures bigger than us. So we have to do the work and at an individual level and also a macro level and see what service from the culture and what we don't want anymore. Give it away. And it takes a lot of preconfiguration of your life

And that can be tough. Absolutely. It's like changing religions pretty much but it's worth it. It's totally worth it because we got one shot. One life. This is the only one we have. 

[00:20:12] Wendy:Yeah. I love that. And as you say, re switching religions. I had three religions by the time I was 16.

I was born one religion, my father in a business deal because the man wouldn't do business except if we didn't join his religion. Switched us when I was six and then at 16, because my mother divorced my father that church threw us out and as you're talking about wholeness and whole health and spirituality as part of that.

And I consider myself a very spiritual person. And I've made peace with that over the years cause that was a bit confusing cuz each religion has their own doctrine of what they believe and how you should act. And so that was a interesting turnaround in my life as I grew older. But I'd love to hear about that because I think a lot of people, especially if they're agnostic or atheist, they struggle with that spiritual piece and they think that it has to be a God and I think there's some sort of confusion still that we hear about religion first. 

[00:21:11] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Absolutely. Yeah. That's a great question. It just reminded me that I had this client, she was a lawyer and she was very logical and she didn't wanna have anything to do with spirituality.

But I was guiding her going through the whole health protocol, doing the questionnaires, all the worksheets and when we got to the spirituality part of it, she was like, no, no, no, I'm not interested in believing in any God right now. So this is not gonna work for me.

And I told her, can I ask a question? Do you remember last time that you went to the woods and you sat maybe under a tree or next to a river? What did you feel? And she told me that she loved the Berkshires and that every time she went there, after spending so many hours in school or working, she felt this sense of peace and almost like being embraced by the trees and nature, and that is something that she didn't really feel anywhere else and that she couldn't explain it, but she did feel she felt like a little thing. That's what she said compared to nature. And I told her many people experience spirituality through nature, and you do feel like nature is bigger than us. Nature has a way to go back to homeostasis balance after every natural disaster. It doesn't get stuck there.

After, every storm, then there is regulation. I don't know how nature does it, and I'm okay not knowing why, having an explanation but nature has its own rhythm. It knows exactly when to switch from one season to the other. So then she started to connect. And then she was like amazed like, oh my God, Agnes, now you're making me spiritual.

No, I'm not. I just asked you a question and you share with me your experience. And I'm letting you know that spirituality is so personal that you can define it in your own terms. And if it is something, I think something that maybe in general terms can define what a spirituality is. One element that is common for most people who say that they're spiritual is the sense that there is something beyond you as a person, there's something bigger than you as an individual.

And that said, and that you feel this connection to yourself inside of you to your core when you are in the presence of that spirituality. And she then said, well, I guess, I'm spiritual after all, because that's how I relate to spirituality through nature and that's totally fine. So we were able to continue the work and she said that actually became a strength for her.

So she knew that she didn't have to count only on herself, on humans when she went through difficult situations. So she could just go to nature to the Berkshires, and most of the time, Her mind got more clear and some ideas came to her about what to do about the problems at her law firm and things like that.

And I'm like, yeah. And spirituality and that spiritual experience, being in nature, being relaxed can be also a source for creativity and invention and creating new things. So, yeah. 

[00:24:59] Wendy:Yeah. I love that. And one of the things you said that is my belief system. It's anything bigger than you.

And I had an experience I'm from North Jerseys and I moved down to be closer to the ocean. Oh, I don't know, about 22 years old, 23 years old. And I remember standing there because I was struggling. You switch Three religions as a kid, might struggle a little bit with spirituality and religion and

little confusion. But I remember standing there going, oh, this ocean is so much bigger than me. Now I get it. It's something bigger than you that you don't have to have all that dependence on yourself, which is really yes, in a way. Not that you're not responsible for yourself, but you don't have this overdependent on.

There's nobody else, or there's nothing else out there. And that was my moment and I've grown and it's changed since then. But that was my start was, oh, if I went out in the middle of the ocean, it's gonna do what wants and I'm gonna really have no say, maybe I don't have as much control as I think I do.

Yes. Over everything else. And yeah, and I think that's when we were talking about even with Whole Health is like when you have that component, then the rest of it isn't as scary as when you're trying to be so dependent on yourself. 

[00:26:09] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Oh my God. That is so true. And yeah, and after we did this work with spirituality, we got into that actually, that's part of the following worksheets, talking about control and surrendering.

And most people they don't like that word. And you said it's not about not taking responsibility for the things that you have to do, but there is so much that we can do sometimes and thinking that we have control of everything, it can create so much anxiety and worry that is unnecessary

that is actually put your nervous system in a stress mode, which is not good for your immune system. So see how everything is, impacts everything. You do what you have to do, you do your work, and then you let it go for a little while and have trust, have trusts in life, the universe, whatever you wanna call it, and just surrender.

Knowing that you already did everything that you could possibly do and let life do its thing. Sometimes life has a way. To also come back to us and maybe out of the blue, we meet these new people, connections. Maybe we end up going to a networking event and you start meeting all of these people and you get a new deal because you relaxing.

And if you're not relaxed and you're super stressed out, I don't think you're gonna be able to go to a networking event like that. 

[00:27:42] Wendy:And you're certainly not gonna be open to what's in front of you, so That's very true. Very true. So I have one last wrap up question, which I always like to ask so for female entrepreneurs who are in wellness, but they're not looking at as a whole health type of lifestyle, what's a good first step to find out more information or to dip their toe into it?

[00:28:03] Agnis Pena-Tioro:Yeah, I would say that maybe get a notebook, a journal and start writing down. What are other things that are important to you besides your, maybe your business, your career, what else is important to you that you probably haven't thought about in a while? What else? And. Don't worry about others thinking that, oh my God, that's so superficial.

Or , that doesn't make any sense now because this is about you. What fulfills you? And you're unique. So maybe come up with a list of. Other areas of life and don't think about limitations, like, no, but I don't have enough time to do these things, so why bother thinking about it? No just write it down.

It's just an exercise. Maybe, you want more time to play. You want more time for your hobbies and things like that. So pay attention to other things, in addition to work that fulfill on your business, that fulfill your life. So maybe sit down and make that list and again you can.

Maybe get the book that I recommended Mind Over Medicine. It has all of these questionnaires and you can make this inventory of what is happening right now with these other areas of your life. What is the status? So that would be, a way to start thinking about living a whole health lifestyle.

Maybe you can also think about what that would mean to you. What would be to live a whole health lifestyle? 

[00:29:45] Wendy:Thank you so much, and thank you for being on the show today. I really appreciate it. I know that you have a coaching program that you wanna share with us, so I'm gonna let you do that.

 I will have the link for your coaching program in the show notes, but if you wanna share about it, that would be fantastic. 

Sure. Yes. I have an online coaching program to help women heal their relationship with their bodies and food.

And I also use this whole health system and in addition to IFS Internal Family Systems. So I provide, two individual coaching sessions a month. The rest can be done on your own time when you have time. And for me, this is also a way to empower women to do the work on their own

and then they can check with me and I can guide and I can help with the most difficult parts of the work. So thank you for sharing the link to the program. It's called Barium Food Liberation Program. I also will be happy to help anyone who wants to also take a deep dive into.

Their life as a system because that's also that's part of my foundation of the work that I do. And yeah, it's exciting to help someone to explore their life in that way for the first time. 

Thank you so much for being with us, Agnes. If you love what you heard, please subscribe for more self-care tips, and of course, if you loved Agnes and everything she had to share today, please leave a review. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful abundant week and we will talk soon.

Agnis Pena-ToroProfile Photo

Agnis Pena-Toro

Psychotherapist/ Coach

Agnis Peña-Toro, M.A. is a trained Psychotherapist and a Body and Food Liberation Coach. She’s originally from Venezuela and bilingual (English/Spanish).

She has worked in mental health settings in the US for more than 10 years including family therapy centers, community mental health clinics, public schools, nonprofits, and private practice.

Agnis’ specialty is to help women heal the trauma, hurts and difficult memories from the past that have impacted their relationship with their bodies and food.

Her mission is to support women on their healing journey towards liberation in body, mind and heart so they can grow, thrive and dream again. Due to her deep personal connection, she helps women discover that there are other ways of living other than restricting their food choices and forcing their bodies to look a certain way, which, as a consequence, have also restricted the rest of their lives.

Agnis graduated from University of Massachusetts-Boston with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. Agnis earned a Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapies from Lesley University.

She is also certified as a Trauma Recovery Coach, Whole Health Medicine Provider, Intuitive Eating Counselor, and Body Trust Provider.

Agnis is trained in numerous trauma healing and recovery models including IFS (Internal Family Systems) Level 2 and Polyvagal Theory, and have participated in several trauma trainings including Somatic Experiencing, Expressive Arts for Trauma, DBT, etc.

Her framework and orientation are based on whole health, body trust, HAES (hea