Skip to main content

Total Health: Kerry Loeb On How We Can Optimize Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing

Image of Kerry Loeb delivering in-person training services. The room has serveral people sat on yoga mats  | Self-Massage & Health Trainings
Click Here to view the article on Authority Magazine website. 

I also believe that It is important to remain consistent as many of the benefits of exercise and movement are cumulative, and can only be achieved over time. I can remember when I first started exercising, I was still smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. My form of exercise at the time was tennis, which I loved playing. But the day came when it was just too difficult to keep up with my playing partners because I was still dragging around my various addictions. So my decision all those years ago was to quit exercising and playing tennis and continue to be guided by my bad habits, or give them up and become a better tennis player. I, fortunately, chose the latter. My point is that sometimes to develop a healthy habit requires us giving up something that we think we need. This can be a difficult decision and not necessarily an easy transition, but my experience has been that it’s always worth it.
. . .
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kerry Loeb.
Kerry Loeb started on his health journey over 35 years ago, after many years of experimenting with how to survive a life of highly deleterious lifestyle habits. He did a 180 with his life, apprenticing simultaneously for 7 years with three master health teachers so he could teach others how to turn their lives around and live healthier, more fulfilling lives. He owned and operated an alternative health center in the San Francisco Bay Area for 20 years, where he would teach classes and see clients in private practice, as well as host well-known health educators from throughout the US. He now creates online learning platforms to help others to achieve better levels of health.
. . .
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in a small town in Kansas, and though the setting was somewhat idyllic (for those that remember Mayberry, it was like that). No one ever locked their doors, the neighbors treated us kids as if we were their own, the farming countryside was spectacular. However, it didn’t lend itself to the best of lifestyle habits. Both my parents were heavy smokers, my father and most of his friends were alcoholics, and the standard Kansas diet people ate back then had nothing to do with healthy eating, and left much to be desired. I used to joke with my mom and tell her she was the best canned-food cook in the world. For several years, I followed in my parent’s footsteps in terms of unhealthy habits, but at 23 I moved away, and a couple of years later started on a path of transformation that continues to this day.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I was extremely fortunate to have met three well-known health educators, who took me under their wings and taught me how to teach others to live more fulfilling, healthier, happier lives. Shizuko Yamamoto was an internationally recognized teacher from Japan, who taught me the powerful nature of healing from an Eastern Medical perspective -from a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual perspective. For seven years, I studied with her and her two main apprentices, Patrick McCarty and Edward Spencer.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I was around 25 years old, thrashing around in confusion and dysfunctionality, addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, a bad diet (my breakfast in those days consisted of donuts and coffee, followed by a cigarette and a beer). Even at that young age, I already had quite a few health conditions that I chose to ignore. Serendipitously, I met an older French woman named Jeanine, who had steeped herself for many years in meditation and Buddhism, and taught classes out of her home. I suppose you could say this was my first apprenticeship — I attended her classes and studied with her for many years and we became the best of friends. Her teachings and her friendship became the basis for my personal transformation. I gave up all of my destructive habits during this time and now, over 40 years later, I still meditate and am a lifelong student of Buddhism.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I surely made some mistakes along the way, but none were all that funny or interesting. However, one interesting, and now seemingly funny thing did happen during my apprenticeship with one of my teachers, Patrick McCarty. This apprenticeship took the form of me booking clients for him in my office, and then I would sit in and observe and take notes during the session. A woman came to be treated for anxiety, and so my teacher had her lie down and he put in many acupuncture needles all over her body. As she was lying there, the largest earthquake (this was in the San Francisco Bay Area) in 83 years hit, and the walls were shaking, things were falling off the mantle, windows were shattering. My teacher calmly, but very quickly, pulled out all of the needles, and then we all escaped outside. I admired that he thought of the client first and foremost, but I do remember her being quite shaken by the experience, and I’m quite sure her anxiety was very much exacerbated by the experience.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have a number quite a few go-to books by my bedside, that I like to keep at arm’s length and reference regularly. They have become my good friends, and all of them have been highly significant at different times in my life. One that I keep picking up and studying is called “Thoughts Without A Thinker” by Mark Epstein. In a nutshell, it is about Western psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective. It is about the synthesis/confluence of these two, and the writing is not only superb but also speaks to me in a meaningful way. Both of these disciplines have supported me to become a better person over the years, and the writing clearly lays out when one or the other may be most applicable in one’s life.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Well, I m a very big quote-collector and tend to have them all over my walls in my office, and on my desktop, so this is a tough question for me to answer. I think maybe the one that has had the largest impact on my life is “I can’t, therefore I must”. I don’t know who to attribute this quote to, but it has had me jumping in freezing-cold mountain lakes, traveling solo in Latin American countries to the most remote of places and during violent revolutions, riding extremely scary roller-coasters, trekking off-the-beaten-path through SE Asia last year, and four years ago, leaving the country I was born in, and lived in, for my entire life (the U.S.), to make my permanent home in Mexico. This quote has kept me young at heart, and welcoming of numerous wild life adventures that maybe I would have normally shied away from.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
After moving to Mexico four years ago, I decided to retire. But I kept feeling my roots in Eastern Medicine tugging at me, so I recently created an online self-care health program. I had built eight businesses in my iife and this was perhaps the most difficult as I had never used this platform for teaching before. I am in the process of developing several teaching modules, the first one was completed at the end of 2020, and has already reached levels of success I didn’t think would happen so soon. It is a Self Massage program from an Eastern medical perspective, where I teach people how to take control of their health, and be less dependent on doctors, medications, and health care practitioners.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Well, I would have to say diet may be #1. Having been a dietary/lifestyle counselor for 20 years, I understand the relationship between diet and mental wellness/clarity. It is huge and most people don’t understand this until they experience it. As I referenced earlier, I was the king of terrible lifestyle habits for many years and my diet was replete with congesting and energy depleting foods. I’ll never forget my light bulb, epiphanous moment when I first went into a health food restaurant many years ago, and when I was leaving, I felt this lightness of being, this feeling of renewed vitality, and from that moment on I was hooked on healthier foods. Prior to that, my mind lived in the realm of fuzzy thinking, spaciness, and an inability to feel grounded.
The second thing I would mention regarding mental wellness is exercise. As I was turning my health around many years ago, I become a marathon runner, and immediately noticed an uptick in my mental clarity and thought processes. About 35 years ago, as I was learning more about healing from an Eastern Medical perspective, I was taught a technique that I have practiced on an almost daily basis since then. It is a form of Self Massage (called DO-IN in Japanese) that I attribute much of my mental wellness and abundant health to. Let me first of all say that the theory behind Eastern Medicine is that when the energy is flowing unimpeded through the 14 energy pathways (called meridians) in the body and the correlative organs, then ill health, health imbalances, disease, and even chronic pain cannot exist. My entire teaching and health counseling career has been based on this theory. The Self Massage technique that I practice and teach very much assists in allowing for this free flow of energy by utilizing stretching, percussive technique, direct acupressure point work, and breathing. Mental wellness is one of the consequences of this free flow of energy.
Thirdly, my experience with mental wellness, for myself and others that I have counseled, is helped greatly by developing a practice that works with one’s thoughts. I believe it is important that we not identify and define ourselves according to the random thoughts running through our minds. This is one of the cornerstones of Buddhist practice-getting our foot in the door between our thoughts and our reactions. This requires time and discipline, but once we are able to do this on something of a consistent basis we find that we are much more able to experience responsiveness instead of reactivity. When we can come from this place, and not take things personally and react, our energies are freed up to focus on the more wonderful, inspiring, and fulfilling aspects of life.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
Well, things have evolved over the past 40 years for me in this regard, but some form of Buddhist meditation has always been my go-to all these years. This is inclusive of the Vipassana tradition from SE Asia and the Zen tradition from Japan to pretty much everything in between. Everybody is different in terms of what they gravitate towards, but for me, any form of meditation in the various Buddhist traditions tends to grab my attention.
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
OK sure. I will preface this by saying that Eastern Medicine involves a more synergistic approach to health and healing so that things that positively affect mental wellness will also affect one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Physical wellness can be greatly improved by any type of movement, whether that be stretching, running, walking, swimming, etc. Again, I believe that however we can move our energy through the meridians and the correlative organs can help greatly. I do believe that some type of cardio exercises where we are oxygenating our brains and bodies can be extremely beneficial for our overall health, not just our physical wellness. I believe developing a routine that we look forward to is important, because if we see it as something that is hard work and a drudgery, then we are setting ourselves up for failure.
I also believe that It is important to remain consistent as many of the benefits of exercise and movement are cumulative, and can only be achieved over time. I can remember when I first started exercising, I was still smoking, drinking, and doing drugs. My form of exercise at the time was tennis, which I loved playing. But the day came when it was just too difficult to keep up with my playing partners because I was still dragging around my various addictions. So my decision all those years ago was to quit exercising and playing tennis and continue to be guided by my bad habits, or give them up and become a better tennis player. I, fortunately, chose the latter. My point is that sometimes to develop a healthy habit requires us giving up something that we think we need. This can be a difficult decision and not necessarily an easy transition, but my experience has been that it’s always worth it.
The second factor in achieving optimum physical wellness is, as mentioned above, a good diet. We can exercise all day long, but if a good diet doesn’t accompany it, then I think we are cheating ourselves out of a long-term sustainable state of well-being. The tricky thing is we all have different definitions of what constitutes a healthy diet. When I was doing dietary counseling, I would always ask new clients if they thought their diet was healthy, and almost invariably, they would respond in the affirmative. Of course, when I would drill down a bit deeper, it would become obvious that their diets were anything but healthy. This would then require re-education of what foods would support them based on their condition and constitution, and what foods would contribute to the underlying health imbalances that had them coming to me in the first place. So, based on my experience, if someone is serious about eating a diet that would support them in achieving optimal physical health, I believe it is important that they find a good health counselor, someone that can offer guidance based on their specific health condition.
I would say that another factor that contributes to optimal physical wellness is knowing some good home remedies that can help with specific conditions and also overall health. In the winter, hot baths can not only be relaxing and help with sleep but can also help support the Kidney function according to Eastern Medicine, which has everything to do with immune function and vitality. Just make sure you put 2–3 cups of Epsom salts in to help with alkalizing. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil to help you relax. Something that is very good for lung function is to get some high- quality eucalyptus oil and rub it into the lung area, then bring the palms of your hands in a cupped position to your mouth and breathe deeply into the lungs a few times (very good in the time of Covid). Another great health habit is to do a dry brush massage before entering the shower or bath. In Eastern Medicine the skin is related to the lungs, so the more we can open up the pores of our skin, the more we are positively affecting our lung function.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
This is a very good and important question. In my experience in counseling people around diet, I found that most people, unless they are motivated by fear or desperation based on a serious diagnosis, will over time slip back into bad dietary habits. There are exceptions to this of course (I was one of them), but I think the reason this happens quite often is that there is an emotional component attached to foods that aren’t so good for us. Many people refer to these as comfort foods. When we are sad, lonely, fearful, etc., some part of our mind tells us that if we eat a portion of comfort food (generally sugary foods like ice cream, but can be salty as well, like potato chips) these feelings will somehow vanish. Indeed, when we are in the middle of a sugar high, we don’t feel these feelings, at least not as intensively. But the pendulum will always swing and we will feel even worse when we crash. If we choose to pump ourselves up again, and we continue to do this over a sustained period of time, then we are taxing our systems in ways that will most likely have some serious consequences at some point. When I used to counsel people, I would follow the rule of “2 in, 2 out”, which means I would transition most of my clients to a healthy diet by adding in 2 healthy things and eliminating 2 unhealthy things. Each session would be along these lines, as I found that when people tried the “cold-turkey” method of turning their diet around in a short period of time, it would usually backfire and they would just give up. This more gradual transition would also slow down the dreaded “detox” stage people experience when they change their diets.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Well, for the first one I will go back to the importance of a meditation practice, because the thoughts we think can create the emotions we feel. So to develop some consciousness around our thoughts, to get our foot in the door as I mentioned before, is so important to nip any emotional downward spirals. To be able to watch our thoughts, and question them, instead of reacting to them, can help us so much in terms of not allowing negative emotions to dictate our lives. A good example of this is something I used to do a lot (much less these days). I would make assumptions based on other people’s actions/lack of actions, and then take it personally and feel awful and wonder if I said or did something wrong. So if someone didn’t answer an email or text I sent to them, I would then assume I must have offended them in some way and then the cascade of negative emotions would begin. These days, I am much more able to watch this thought process, question it, see that I’m falling into an old habit pattern that is no longer necessary, and let it go. 99% of the time what my mind was telling wasn’t true, so why listen to and react to it?
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
Ah, one of my favorite topics — smiling (and laughing). To create a fulfilling life by having healthy emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being will naturally have us smiling. The interesting thing is that according to a system called neurolinguistic programming (NLP), when we are feeling in a negative emotional state, just try smiling and see what happens. It’s sort of “fake it until you make it” strategy, but it works. Try feeling depressed and smiling at the same time. It’s not possible. An extension of smiling is laughing, and I believe one of the most healing things we can do is to find something to laugh at. If we can belly laugh until tears are rolling down our cheeks, that is one of our human opportunities for achieving an ecstatic state and contributes so much healing power to all that ails us.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
This question is right in my wheelhouse as I feel a rich spiritual life feeds everything else in our lives. I mentioned before the power of meditation and being able to nip our thoughts in the bud, so they can’t lead us down the rabbit hole of negative emotions. But the other real benefit is that as we disassociate from our thoughts, we can also begin to disassociate from what we define as ourselves (our egos), and our opinions, our righteousness, begin to feel less important. What we might be left with is more presence in our lives, more compassion for others, more appreciation of the birds singing, the sound of water in a stream, the wonderful feeling that can come from a simple breeze caressing our faces. After over 40 years of Buddhist practice, I took a 2-month long trip to SE Asia, specifically to be around people that walked the talk of their religion. I hung out with the monks in their monasteries on an almost daily basis, observing, feeling their peace, and I was forever affected by this experience. I sank into a deeper part of my being and that feeling still resides in me. It’s all about slowing down enough to access these mostly hidden treasures that we get to experience by being in our human bodies, and not always in our heads.
The other spiritual habit that I have found works for me is staying close to the wisdom of teachers that I respect and admire, by reading their books and listening to their lectures. These are mostly the contemporary teachers, but I also try to stay close to the ancient teachings, some 2500 years old. I find if I do this just a bit every day, I experience more peace and presence in my life. Some people are drawn to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, others by a different tradition. If someone feels that their spirit is moved by whatever the teaching it is, then that is the path worth exploring and enjoying.
The third habit that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness is to find a spiritual community where we can find sustenance and support. This can be going to a church or synagogue or going to meetups of like-minded individuals where we can discuss issues that are troubling us and/or talk about deeper things that sustain us. For me, I participate in a weekly men’s group where anything that can be discussed at Starbucks (weather, sports, politics) is off the table. We try to stay more focused on matters of the heart. My other place of spiritual sustenance is a Zen Buddhist meditation group that I help to coordinate in my town in Mexico. It’s held for 2 hours every Sunday and I always feel spiritually full when I leave.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
I believe that nature can provide us with a connection that we may not be able to find anywhere else. We are always surrounded by nature, even in big cities leaves are shimmering, birds singing, the breeze is blowing, rocks are displaying their various shapes and solidity, the rain or snow might be falling. We always have the opportunity to tune into these things, listen to them, feel them. Many spiritual traditions believe that nature is as alive as we humans are, and I don’t doubt that. So being present with nature can provide so much spiritual sustenance if we can slow down enough to make ourselves available to it.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Well, I can think of several things but what jumps out the most is the vision I have held for many years, and that is inspiring others to live lives of optimal wellness and health. I believe that when people are living optimally, then they can discover and share their unique gifts with the world. I mentioned earlier that in Eastern Medicine, if the energy is flowing unimpeded through the 14 meridians and the correlative internal organs, then illness, disease, health imbalances, and chronic pain cannot exist. Optimal health is the result of this. I have a vision, and am in the process through my online programs, of creating a large community of people who are dedicated to a regular practice of living in their most optimal state. I have established a Facebook group of people who share in this commitment, as a place to swap stories, share feedback, ask questions, etc. It’s new and still small but growing daily. I find this so inspiring and soul-fulfilling.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)
There are so many it’s sort of difficult to narrow it down to just one, but I would have to say, Stephen Curry, the phenomenal basketball player for the Golden State Warriors. He seems egoless, very humble, and has a childlike innocence that shines through when he is on the court, having great fun exhibiting his superlative skills.
Also, he’s not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to social activism, and I respect this greatly. He just seems like an all-around great guy and to be able to have a conversation with him would be amazing, and a great honor.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website is and also people can like my business Facebook page at

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.