Author Archives: MGrodski

Hi Protein… Bulls#!t

Every chance the food conglomerates get to generate some new “super food fad” or new diet that will take you to immortality, they jump on it. How many diets have we gone through in recent months? Paleo, Keto, Atkins, etc… One thing they all have in common: they are all high in protein. Isn’t that a little interesting when you actually think about it? Protein is the most expensive form of calorie… fruits, veg, grains and nuts are much much cheaper, so why would food conglomerates be jumping onto promoting protein?


Can it have anything to do with their need to continue reporting higher and higher revenues and higher and higher profits to keep C-class executive bonuses flowing and to keep shareholders satisfied with a growing stock valuation?

Wait… are you suggesting the switch to hi protein diets has nothing to do with actual health and has everything to do with the economics of food companies?

Thats preposterous… no food conglomerate would ever ‘manufacture’ evidence in order to boost sales, profits, stock valuations, hence salary and bonuses… or would they? Gee… its not like it hasn’t ever happened before with the demonizing of fats where everyone had to turn to margarine and low fat and no fat foods (which just so happened to create an entirely new category of products that food companies were able to make billions and billions).

Still think protein is all that healthy? Let alone necessary?

Considering that athletes coming out of the Eastern African nations – typically long distance runners coming out of Somalia, Ethiopia, & Kenya – all live on diets that are 95-99% carb mainly because they cannot afford protein are the same athletes who tend to dominate at the Olympics. What happened to all that business about protein? Huh?

Exactly… its business, its not health information, its all about revenue, profit, and bonuses.

Like getting sold…

Well keep buying all that hi protein business because you are being sold a boatload.

A Tale of Two Economies

Our economy bifurcated somewhere in the late 80s/early 90s when first mobile phones became available and then in the mid 90s when email became available. Since, the divergence has magnified considerably as mobile phone technology became smaller and more powerful, and as the internet became larger and equally powerful.

The first economy is the ‘old’ economy, the economy upon which we have grown ever since mankind developed forms of exchange of workmanship. This economy of workers producing valuable and desirable products and services for consumption is changing the landscape of our world… from malls of all sizes, to legions of delivery trucks driving throughout residential areas dropping off what was once purchased in store to what has become purchased online. The distance between production and consumption – the supply chain – has shrunk and with technology, the chain continues to shorten as consumers gain greater and more direct access to producers. The era of the middle man is ending. The process of creative destruction is well underway in industry but the full effect has not been felt because of banking and political policies which have been implemented to prevent – at all costs – the wildfire which is needed to clear the forest of deadwood, the fire which would provide the ash for new growth. Subsequently, the ‘old’ economy is being held back from new growth by armies of zombie companies which have continued to crawl out of their graves (e.g. Sears/Kmart) time and time again due to financial wizardry.

The second economy is not necessarily a new economy, but it is one that without technology would never have exploded to the impact that it has today: the Attention Economy. Correct, an economy based not on the production of anything valuable, instead based on attention… as in the number of ‘likes’, ‘followers’, thumbs up votes, and so forth. At one time, this Attention Economy was known as sales & marketing and was limited to those companies with the budgets and the means to engage Madison Ave Advertising firms. In the past, you would have to have a gargantuan budget in order to ‘get attention’ for your product or service, case in point, 30sec ads during the Super Bowl would cost millions upon millions of dollars. Why? Because there was a time when Super Bowl ads were guaranteed to get the ‘Attention’ of the average American so the value of advertising your product or service was immense.

It all changed with the platform of both mobile technology and the internet, and liberated by apps such as Youtube, and the entire host of social media applications. Now advertising and marketing firms are in the process of losing their grip on the market because they no longer are the gatekeepers to the average Americans attention. The typical person skips through TV commercials, doesn’t listen to old fashion radio stations nor the ads played on them, nor does the typical person read a paper newspaper or glossy magazine anymore. Everything is online… which means our ‘attention’ is entirely online.

Its not an entirely new economy because the Attention Economy existed in the past with mainstream media (i.e. TV & radio ads, etc…) but what is new is that as the end consumer we now have far more control than ever before. In the past, we had to sit through commercials because there was no option not to sit through commercials. In the past, we were subjected to advertising and marketing; but now we have the option to opt out.

But this is not the aspect of the Attention Economy that is of interest at the moment; what is of interest is the fact of what we have done now that we each have the ability not only to opt out but to create our own advertising and marketing.

All of a sudden, with apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram every single person has become their own advertising agency. We woke up one day to realize that every single person seems to have registered themselves on some social media app and has taken to ‘advertising and marketing’ not products and services as in the old economy, but advertising and marketing themselves… as in their life, actually worse… as in what they are eating at this instant, what they are wearing, what they are thinking… as if anyone actually cared or cares, but they did it with such enthusiasm and energy that we figured the world does care. With that we all jumped on thinking that advertising and marketing our lives online… mattered.

Then it went to an entirely new level where it wasn’t good enough just to advertise and market your life, it became a competition. Now every aspect of our live is up for grabs… was your meal as superb as others posted on line, what about your latest clothing and accessory purchases, what about your car, your music, your hair, your make up, everything is a competition.

And we are suffering as a result.

Suffering from trying to keep up with an endless stream of uploads and posts and pictures.

Suffering from trying to keep one step ahead of who we consider our competition.

Suffering from spending our energy, our lives on meaningless time wasting pissing contests which amount to nothing yet drain our existence out of us… and we wonder why we are unfulfilled, unsatisfied, empty, and exhausted.

Anger, anxiety, depression, and a long list of other mental and emotional health challenges are skyrocketing in prevalence. As people we are becoming dysfunctional not only in relating to one another, but even in relating to ourselves. By competing with everyone else on every possible aspect of our lives, we no longer engage meaningfully with anyone, we compete to see if we can one up them in some way. Few remain with any connection to reality, to their direction and purpose in life as the many have become so wrapped up in this endless competition of lifestyle advertising and marketing that they have literally lost themselves to the battle.

We used to seek the attention of others because we had something of importance, of value, because we had created something that we wanted to share, that we thought others would benefit from, because we had something we believed would help others.

Today, we seek attention for no other purpose but for the sake of attention. Like toddlers who lost the attention of their mother or father for an instant, we resort to any and typically an incendiary action in order to regain attention… from anyone! Because we see others getting attention, for fear of not getting any attention ourselves, we are raising the stakes and ramping up the means which use to get attention.

No longer is positive attention the sole goal.

Attention, period is the goal. Any attention.

For what, from whom… doesn’t matter.

All that matters is getting attention.

For no other purpose than because everyone else is doing it.

Think about it.

Quick Fixes and Bandaids

As a regulated health professional I had to make a decision whether or not to continue to work in a clinic where with someone else as ‘boss’ I risk having to bend my standards to those of the business, hence the boss.

Why did this even arise as an issue? The following video summarizes it well…

With patients increasingly coming into clinics in search of ‘bandaids’ and quick fixes instead of actually seeking health, wellness, restoration of function, and with clinics run more and more as for-profit businesses where maximizing number of treatment sessions, prolonging treatment, anything to maximize billing is the standard… well we end up where we are now.

Where are we now? Health professionals (like in this video) who are actually trying to heal patients, to cure patients as opposed to ‘managing’ the signs and symptoms of their patients to essentially addict their patient to ongoing and never ending treatment (hence never ending billing) are a dying breed. Either run out of clinics because they hold themselves to a standard and thus expect others to also hold to a standard, or leave clinic work as a result of being unable to maintain the state of cognitive dissonance required to maintain an ethical practice yet comply with the ‘boss’ or the business wants of more and more billing opportunities. And on the other side, we end up with the patient population coming to believe that there is nothing other than endless cycles of treatment, with actual healing, full restoration of function, where pain free living becomes a fantasy… and the resulting epidemics in chronic lifestyle diseases, prescription and illegal drug addictions, overdoses and deaths, as well as the epidemic of chronic pain, chronic fatigue, et al… all of it a footnote as to how far we have fallen from pursuing health, wellness, hence our potential to live out our lives at the fullest.

I get it… bills have to be paid, as well as staff having to be paid, etc… There is nothing wrong with generating profit, as without profit there is no sense for anyone to ever start a business so profits are necessary; however, when profit becomes the obsession with profit to be achieved at any cost, even at the cost of the long term health of your client, or as in the case of an health care business the long term health of your patients… that is plain and simply wrong. You can try to convince yourself all you want but there ain’t no convincing me.

There is a middle ground, and its called compassionate capitalism… but that requires standards, it requires ethics, a moral compass, it requires us to be able to say ‘no’ to one another, it requires not giving in to the debasement of excellence in pursuit of short term gain; but thats work… and today the belief seems to be that work is for losers… winners don’t work.

Let me share one experience that puts a tidy bow on this…

I had a patient come to me complaining of knee pain. After assessing the joint, surrounding joints, muscular strength, neural health and function, there was nothing that I could find ‘wrong’. Instead of the patient being ecstatic that nothing is wrong, they were upset… they wanted something wrong in order to justify the pain, to justify the need for treatment, to justify who knows what else in their life they needed justified. Instead of a treatment plan including some modalities, and manual therapy, the prescription was for the patient to start exercising… like walking on a daily basis as they did none, as in no exercise whatsoever. It was evident based on the evaluation that the increasing level of a sedentary lifestyle at work and at home was leading now to signs and symptoms that made it appear that something was wrong with their joints. Nothing was wrong… yet, with the joints, the joints were just starting to make noise to the fact that what was wrong was how inactive the joints were becoming, and that any small amount of movement, even standing up from being seated was becoming problematic. But this is not what the patient wanted to hear… they wanted to hear that they have degeneration in their joints, perhaps even a diagnosis of arthritis would have likely tickled them because then it would validated even further whatever they wanted validated. If I suggested an orthopaedic surgeon consult because of the potential for knee joint replacement surgery, then perhaps they may have even done cartwheels in excitement that something that horribly is wrong with their joints that they have to have surgery. That is how upside down, backwards is the thinking of so many patients. And you wonder why there is a crisis in public health care budgets? With patients excited about the degree of disease and hoping for expensive and extensive treatment, then budgets are only going to be more and more challenged in the years to come… that is unless we actually get excited about being healthy, not diseased.

I read a recent article how a physician had to deal with a patient who recovered from cancer. Again you would think that the patient would be ecstatic… nope. Instead they were now depressed that they were healthy and MISSED HAVING CANCER! Well, it wasn’t the cancer they missed, but the support group, the other cancer patients on the hospital unit that they were on while receiving treatment. They missed the smiling friendly faces of the nurses, they missed belonging to a group… a real live group, not a Fb community or other online fake community, but a real live group of human beings interacting honestly and openly with one another on a regular basis. Imagine that… a patient depressed that they are healthy. And we wonder why there is a crisis in our health? Wonder not.

How do we change course? As per the video… we have to allow ourselves to breakdown and realize its not a sign of weakness, its a sign that we are broken… and been broken for a long long time and all the external efforts to stucco, renovate, upgrade and remodel over the brokenness is no longer able to keep all the plates spinning. We need to drop the pretense, the spectacles, the show that everything is alright, that we are holding it altogether, that we have it all figured out, that there is nothing whatsoever wrong. We have to give ourselves permission to not be perfect, to admit that perhaps not all aspects of our life is as magazine cover as we want to pretend they are. And then we need to sit down with the pieces and start to piece together a life that is worth living, a life where we pursue health, and not disease, a life which leads us to jumping out of bed in the morning excited to see what will come with this new day. Not living that way… why not? Hoping instead that you contract a deadly disease today… just so that you can get some real human interaction? There is an alternative way of living…

Maybe Not A B-Lister

In the prior post I suggested that Lionel Sanders is a B List level pro athlete.. then it occurred to me, maybe I was generous.  Let’s think about this for a second…

Who would be on the A List of pro triathletes (specifically focusing on Ironman distance triathlon, leaving ITU accomplishments aside for the moment)?

You would definitely have to have Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Paula Newby Fraser, Natasha Badmann and Chrissie Wellington on the list. Craig Alexander, Mirinda Carfrae, and of course Daniela Ryf would need to be on the list.  All of these athletes won in Kona at least 3 times. Athletes such as Canadian Lori Bowden could be on the list as a 2x winner in Kona, but considering she was on the podium for 7 consecutive years… thats gotta count too. Would this years Patrick Lange be on the list… considering his back to back wins, plus the course record, plus the first sub8 hour time at Ironman Worlds, I would bet he would be on the list too.

Jan Frodeno, Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack, Peter Reid, Tim DeBoom, Normann Stadler, Scott Tinley, Erin Baker, the Puntous twins, and Fernanda Keller along with others could be A Listers, but more likely B Listers (again, just looking at IM WC results). If we add on the contributions that someone like Scott Tinley made to the sport, well then we are into an entire different categorization system.

Point being… yes, Sanders may be an A List athlete in Canada, but internationally… B List may have been generous, especially if ‘other’ contributions to the sport (e.g. ITU wins) are taken into consideration. Sanders make be a C or D List athlete, making those who I compared him to D, E or F list pros.

Why go through all this trouble?

Because I believe its important that aspiring athletes appreciate that making it to the top of anything, including sport, is not a straight line from unknown to family dinner table first name recognition status.  For those on the A List, their years of consistent success was on top of many many years racing at lesser known events, and on top of many many years of training. But this is not what sells in the sports media…

And, this is not what the sports media does… it doesn’t respect that the development of an individual to the point that they achieve A List status and more importantly develop to the point of being able to maintain such status is a long long journey. Instead the sports media is always trying to find the ‘next great one’ and commentators and coaches alike are always trying to link themselves to the hopeful ‘next great one’ so that they hopefully gain fame and perhaps some fortune as a result of ‘discovering’ the talent.

What is not disclosed or discussed is how many athletes this destroys – first psychologically, and then physiologically.  But, hey … who cares is the attitude.  Blow one athlete up, there is always another one coming up that we can try again with.

Case in point, the story of Canada’s first top swimmer: Elaine Tanner. Not familiar with the story.  Click here to read a post summarizing it, but in short… at 17 and returning from the Mexico City ’68 Olympics with 3 of the 5 medals the entire Canadian Olympic team won… all that the sports media wanted to know (in order to sell sell sell) was why did Tanner fail? You see, the expectation was that Tanner would return home with gold, not medals of any other colour. Can you imagine being 17 and being considered a national failure, a disgrace?

Athletes, learn the lesson and learn it good… the sports media will chew you up, and spit you out. They only see you as an opportunity to further their own agenda, to serve themselves, to profit themselves; there is no goodwill towards you, you are just the story of the moment. If you get lost in thinking that you are something or someone because your name was mentioned, your picture published… well, when you have your first setback, you may not be prepared for how ruthless the media can be on the other side. If you aren’t prepared, then in all likelihood the treatment you receive – like Tanner – could be career ending.

Athletes, be cautious of those who are eager to blow you up to A List status. They are not doing it to serve you, but to serve themselves, their own agenda. If you want a long pro career, don’t be in a rush to get into the spotlight, and don’t seek those who rush to get you into the spotlight. It will likely be the worst goal you have ever set for yourself.

Athletes, you need to build a support system that will be there all the time… not just when the wind is behind your back and you are climbing the ranks as you climb on top of podium after podium. In all careers there are setbacks, obstacles, tough times, challenges… those who came across eager to celebrate you on the way up, are not likely to be there when times change, and they may very well become those who want to pull you down. 

Athletes, you need a support system if you are going to see your journey to the end… pick your team wisely, for it is upon their shoulders you will stand on when succeeding, and upon their shoulders you will be carried in difficult times.

Make sure those around you have good shoulders.

Life Not On The A-List

Comedian Kathy Griffin had a show called “My Life on the D-List“. It was a show that awakened me to the striations within the world of actors, actresses of celebrities. I mean if you stop and think about it, its something we would all appreciate, but if you don’t stop and think about it… well, its one of those things that aren’t necessarily self evident unless you have lived your life on any list other than the A-List. In short, living life on the D-List ain’t anything like living life on the A-list… which was probably the entire point of the show: to show that life for those not on the D-List may appear as glamorous, as fabulous as the life of A-Listers on the red carpet, but the rest of the time… its work to be a D-Lister. There is a lot of hustle, a lot of struggle and challenge to remain in the industry when producers, directors, script writers aren’t chasing you.

Where is this coming from?

Recently a C3 Newsletter congratulated Lionel Sanders on his ‘win’ at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells. The post from the newsletter seems to have made its way to Triathlon Magazine Canada as you can read on the website. These posts made me think…

Back to his winning ways?  Really?

When Sanders came 30th in Kona at Ironman World Championships, there was not a single mention that Sanders even existed in the world of triathlon. All of a sudden, all the build up that accompanied Sanders going into Kona vanished. No one could remember his name… there was no mention from the C3 Newsletter that came out after Kona, and there was no mention from Triathlon Magazine Canada.

Then Sanders heads to Indian Wells, wins, and everyone remembers his name again and are quick to tout that Sanders is ‘back’!

Back from what?

At Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells, Sanders’ competition was a list of Pro Men that few would recognize by name. Joe Gambles? OK, so Gambles has placed in the top 10 of a variety of events, but he has not qualified to race in Kona so calling Sanders’ win a win… its a bit of a stretch. I don’t think Sanders was celebrating his win as if it was equivalent to a win in Kona.

Lets say Sanders is a B-List level athlete, what kind of win is it when you compare the success of a B-Lister to the performance of a bunch of C & D listers? I don’t think it says anything about anyone, yet this is exactly the point that is trying to be made about Sanders… he’s back.

Put Sanders up against Lange, Aernouts, McNamee, et al and if he podiums then I think it would be fair to say he is back… for how long… well, thats a different point altogether.

So why did Sanders go to Indian Wells?

For those unfamiliar with the less glamorous side of professional sport, there is the reality that pro athletes are not exempt from bills, need a roof over their heads, food on the table, etc..

My guess would be – and I think its a fairly accurate one – that Sanders went to Indian Wells in pursuit of an easy paycheque. Having gone to Kona figuring that he would podium which would pay off the expense of traveling and competing in Kona, and leave a bit over for life back at home and that not happening… Sanders was in need of some positive cash flow. Thats it. No back to winning ways… he needed a paycheque, plain and simple.  With Kona in the rear view mirror it probably wasn’t hard to find a race where there wasn’t going to be competition from A-List level athletes, and Sanders could bank on an easy (relatively) win.

On top of a paycheque, we have all read that Sanders has a new sponsor in Canyon. So.. why not check off two items from the to-do list at once… race Indian Wells, get a paycheque AND get a podium which would impress his new sponsor and put his new bike setup on the map.

If Sanders is back as is being claimed… then we will see it next season at Championship events, and we will see it consistently for years to come (as Crowie said… its easy to win once, winning year after year, now thats the hardest thing to do in sport)… not at some B or C List event.

In the meantime, Sanders has to make a living.  That’s what life is really like for a pro athlete. It ain’t all sponsor events, media interviews, and photo shoots… there is the necessary aspect of figuring out sometimes just how to get another paycheque.

It would serve well if we stop blowing the bullshit and put perspective on what athletes are doing so that up and coming aspiring athletes can start to appreciate what life really is like as a pro. Indeed, there are A List athletes who are paid to race, paid appearance fees, are paid through endorsement deals on top of podium wins… and then there are all the pros not on the A List… all the pros that have to “work” as in race in order to eat & sleep in comfort.

If we used these opportunities to educate aspiring athletes, then the culture shock of life as a pro being a rise from couch surfing to potentially red carpet would be far less of a shock. Lets stop pretending that all pros live on the A List and it ain’t anything other than fame & fortune… or more importantly that the A List is within reach with just a handful of wins.

Those actors and actresses on the A list didn’t just get there… for the majority it was years and years and years of D, and C, and B level movies… years and years of acting classes, and perhaps waiting tables in LA as they awaited their big opportunity. Aspiring athletes need to know that there are no short cuts to the top of anything and reflecting on the lives of current pro athletes can serve as a greater learning opportunity.

Its Time to Get Out

Found this video in my Youtube suggested viewing feed of Daniel Mackler who was a US based psychotherapist explaining why he quit being a therapist. I highly recommend you watching at least the first few minutes, it may awaken you – as a patient – to the realities of what it is like to be a regulated health care practitioner and to the effects that these realities have on the health care you are provided.

Think about this…

This therapist who seems to have his moral compass pointed towards True North, who seems to have a high set of ethical standards, who seems to place his patients needs far above his own needs (including his own financial and personal needs to have a career that compensates him appropriately)… and this is a therapist who has removed themselves from the field of psychotherapy.

Which begs the question…

What sort of health practitioners are left in the system when you have therapists such as Daniel Mackler pulling out?

Now you may say that health care here in Canada is different.  As a regulated health professional I can assure you it is not.  In the past couple of decades the shift towards managing by spreadsheet has taken over… and revenues, profits, utilization rates, Rx per patient, everything is being managed in our health care system as if we were manufacturing widgets where the goal is optimize optimize optimize until the system is streamlined to the max.

Works when you are making widgets. This optimization does not work when you are dealing with human beings, because there are no two humans – even two humans with the same diagnosis – who are identical. There is a line between optimization operations when dealing with things, and when dealing with people… and in health care that line was crossed long ago.

This is why top health care practitioners are finding themselves unable to practice within the regulations, standards, and guidelines of the health care systems: because the demands of the system in many ways are now in complete conflict with the needs of patients.

Its not apparent at the top where decisions are made (e.g. by politicians, by Ministers of Health, by administrators of health care facilities or arms of the Ministry), but on the front lines it is… and that is where actual health care is delivered.  As much as politicians may want to believe that the government delivers health care it doesn’t… health care is not delivered on the level of a population, but on the level of the individual.. and that is what has been forgotten.


If we consider movement to be a language, then what is the alphabet, what are the words and phrases through which the language is communicated? How do we form words and phrases in order to ‘speak’ in the language of movement?

Wiki definition of kinesthetic learning:

Kinesthetic learning (American English), kinaesthetic learning (British English), or tactile learning is a learning style in which learning takes place by the students carrying out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.

In Howard Gardner’s Frames Of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner describes activities (such as dancing and performing surgery) as requiring great kinesthetic intelligence: using the body to create (or do) something.

Long long ago, children were allowed to be children, and being children, they took to learning, to progressing, to advancing, to being… children.  Without the dopamine triggering effect of device screens which radiate blue light, the only option was outside under the big blue sky. Children learned how to move because they played. There was a time when climbing trees was not prohibited, when scaling down ravines, wading through creeks and along river banks was not banned, back when children actually needed to be reminded to come home from being outside all day and playing. It was a time when children developed kinesthesia – the intelligence of movement – by playing in trees, in backyards of friends, on the street in games of 21, pick up, shiny, by riding bikes until the street lights came on serving to put everything on hold til the next day.

Legends of sport developed by taking play from a one-off experience to a purposeful daily pattern of practice… Wayne Gretzky, Rory McIlroy, Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Chrissie Wellington, the Brownlee brothers, and so on.

In a tech obsessed world, where infants are baby-sat by the TV, toddlers by ipads, tweens and teens and adults by their smartphones, how will the language of kinesthesia be developed, let alone retained? It isn’t.  We are losing the ability to speak in the language of movement, and the rising toll is becoming clear (e.g. articles titled “sitting is the new smoking” reveal our growing awareness). We are losing our ability to move, we are losing a sense of ourselves, and the evidence is in the rates of obesity and lifestyle diseases.

Google definition of kinesthesia:

noun: kinaesthesia; noun: kinesthesia
  • awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs (proprioceptors) in the muscles and joints

Problem is that we take kinesthesia for granted. We accept that there is specific intelligence to math, to finance, to communication, but movement… there is a general assumption that the ability to move, let alone play a sport is more an issue of conditioning not an ignorance in movement.

A lack of conditioning, we can reconcile: having led a sedentary lifestyle, commuting for years, being a desk jockey at the office, and then again at home in front of a labtop or desktop, couch surfing, internet surfing, its easy to admit that we are out of shape. Admitting that we are ignorant in how to move, is just plain ridiculous. Who would admit that they do not know how to walk properly, run or bike efficiently? We can admit to being out of shape, to having a few extra pounds, to getting a little winded with a brisk jog for the GO train or subway or with a flight of stairs, but a lack of movement intelligence, no way! Our ego cannot take that sort of bruising.

So what happens?

One day after randomly standing on the scale and having to take a double look at the number, or after an annual check up with our doctor, or after a love one draws a line in the sand concerned about our health, or after a coworker (in better shape or younger) suffers a heart attack or stroke, we figure we need to get back into some sort of shape.

Then what?

If you follow the advice of the online health websites you have one of two options:

  • Join a gym and start doing a blend of cardio, weights, and classes (e.g. yoga, spinning), or
  • Pick an event (e.g. a 10k) and start to train for it.

See the issue?

There is nothing about gaining knowledge, increasing movement intelligence, its all about re-conditioning your body.

The assumption made, and the assumption perpetuated is that everyone is “kinesthetically intelligent” (i.e. knows how to move, and how to move well) and all that is missing is the physical effort to recondition the body. If that was indeed the case, then why do each of all of the online websites spend as much if not more web space on injury, injury prevention, recovery training, mobility aides, recovery nutrition, and so on?  If everyone is such a kinesthetic genius then why is there so much written about injuries, recovering from injury, over-training, burn out, illness, etc…?

If you were a varsity level athlete who had exposure to training, to cycles of returning to sport after an off season, building during the season, and preparing for competition, and then recovering in an off season, then the issue may be more of a lack of exercise, a conditioning issue but for how many does this apply? A small minority at most.

NOTE:  Dara Torres upon her return to swimming (the 1st time she was swimming competitively was in the ’90s) had to have her entire stroke reconstructed because she returned to the pool with the same stroke she swam as a teenager. Sounds obvious, but the point is… Dara Torres had to gain movement intelligence – kinesthesia – in order to return to competitive swim training. Dara went on to become the most decorated female Olympic swimmer… think about that (actually she is tied by Natalie Couglin).

Allow me to suggest an alternative…

If you do not have prior training or exercise experience then start simple. No bootcamps, no health club membership, no personal training, no fitness apparel shopping spree, nothing except you (and a loved one if available) heading out the front door for a walk. No devices, just you or the two of you. Take the time to hold hands, smell the air, enjoy the season. Make it a routine. It may start as a weekend routine, but I would encourage you to progress to it becoming a daily routine. Once you have re-accustomed your body to a daily routine of taking time to yourself, then you can start to really explore your potential.

When ready, I would encourage you to find a sport, not a device nor a machine.  Machines don’t teach you about your body, neither do fitness facilities, or health clubs. Find a sport, and find a coach who will start you at the beginning, with the ABCs of movement: agility, balance and coordination. Being able to bench press, snatch or run 5k is not where you need to start, you need to be able to bend, twist, reach, hop, jump and lunge quickly and with ease before you attempt anything complex. These are abilities and skills you need for life, and these are also the foundation for all complex movements such as running, swimming, cycling, and lifting… so why jump to the finish line when you have yet to cross the starting line properly?

If you make it a journey of discovery of your potential then you cannot be anything but enthusiastic.

If you make it a process of learning the language of movement – kinesthesia – you cannot get bored.

I’ve been swimming for as long as I can remember, and I am nowhere close to being bored of jumping in a pool. There is so much to master… how can anyone get bored with the complexity of technique of a Phelps, Dressel, Coughlin, Ledecky, Hosszú, or a Sjostrom?

Oh yeah… the reward.

You will develop a new language, kinesthesia, and with it you will not only start to enjoy your body, your body will start to reward you with freedom of movement, the ability to move quickly and easily, and then with speed, endurance, and power.

All the best in your journey.

Quantified vs Qualified Training

There is a plethora of gadgets, gizmos. and devices today which track everything and anything… heart rate, skin temperature, breathing volume, pace, GPS location, distance, speed, cadence, watts, calories, etc… etc…

This is quantified training; training which can be plotted on a graph, manipulated, compared and contrasted on a spreadsheet, uploaded to the internet.  Objective data provides outcome measures, but that is all that it provides.  It provides the what, but not the how, at least not when it comes to the quality of the movement, the ease with which power was generated, the calmness of the mind the athlete had available to them to meet challenges during the competition.

There is a problem with objective data, with a focus on outcome devoid of any other factor being relevant to deriving peak performance.  The ‘how’ fades to the background.  The ‘how’: the technique, the form, the posture, the mental and emotional state in which training is performed and the athlete competes becomes irrelevant, and with it the leveraging forces which take physical training from one level and elevate it to consistent peak performance are eliminated.

Watching age group and master athletes, listening to coaches today, the obsession with short term results, the compulsion to cause, force, strain, til an outcome is obtained reveals that we have taken sport too far into the scientific realm with all our metrics, and have forgotten that human movement in all its forms is equally art.

The Olympics, a World Championship event, any of the Tours in cycling or the Opens in Tennis display the gap, the widening gap between sports as performed by age groupers and masters, and those on the national and international level.  There are few if any athletes at the highest level which perform their sport with brute force, muscling, grinding their way to the podium.

Yet how many age group and master athletes and coaches train in a manner mirroring the desired outcome displayed on the international level?  No. Age groupers and masters seem bent on driving their bodies to deliver more power, more speed, greater endurance, but without any heed of how they move, the quality with which they move, whether their movement is fluid, and arises easily or whether it is constantly in a fight against inflexibility, stiffness, rigidity, both in body, in mind and in spirit.

Swinging entirely to the opposite end, where movement is entirely art is not the solution for sports either.  There are objective measures determining the level of performance in sport, so goals must meet these objective measures as well.

The solution is a balance between quantified training and quality training.

The problem which arises for most athletes is that quality training requires a coach, and not just any coach. It requires a competent and capable individual able to assess quality of human movement AND provide a solution appropriate to the skill level and capacity of the athlete; an individual with specific progressions from start to finish on how to modify and improve the quality of the athlete’s movement.

If you are searching for a higher level of performance, and quantified training has resulted in a seemingly inescapable plateau, then consider consulting or contracting a coach/health professional experienced in human physiology, biomechanics, and sport specific technique to evaluate your current level, with the goal of providing insight onto where and how your technique can be improved. You may be amazed at how much more there is to training than simply puking up data… splits, wattage, lap times, whatever.

On Doing No Harm

I highly encourage you to watch this video of UofT Psychology professor Jordan Peterson responding to an answer as to what advice he would give our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau…

Do no harm, or at least stop before introducing legislation, passing bills, before taking action hoping that harm will not result and actually consider the costs and consequences ahead of time… is the message.

Is this not the Hippocratic oath (or at least a variation) of the oath taken by medical doctors?

Indeed it is.

In fact it is the code of ethics that all health professionals are to abide by when interacting with patients… do not provide a therapy, or treatment, or ‘solution’ if the risk of harm is such that the value of the ‘solution’ compromises the overall or long term health of the individual.

Yet this is not what we do in practice, and it is not limited merely to politicians and health care professionals.  Today, it is do first, act immediately, for ‘doing nothing’ is considered worse than actually doing something even if it does result in harm, in the short or hopefully in the long term where the connection to the ‘solution’ is blurred by time.

In the fitness & sport industry its even worse… those posing as trainers, as coaches, as ‘fitness and wellness professionals’ dish out ‘solution’ after ‘solution’ without any understanding, any comprehension, any basis for being in a position to offer ‘solutions’. Having taken a weekend course all of a sudden they are proclaimed to be ‘professionals’ relating to all things health & wellness and are unleashed upon the public at health clubs, gyms and fitness centres proclaimed as ‘the’ individuals who will take you from fat to fit, from unwell to well… yet none of them even have a concept of what harm they are capable of doing.

This is what passes today for ‘solutions’ for our health & wellness.

Is should therefore be no surprise that our society has only become increasingly overweight, obese, anxious, depressed as it is taking advice from those who don’t have the slightest idea of what is health, what is wellness, nor of any harm that there ‘help’ results.

If you truly seek health and wellness, then it falls upon you to find an individual who is a true health & wellness professional. One who will stop and consider what harm is possible, what harm is likely, and the cost and consequences of the ‘solution’ before offering any advice.  One who has experimented on themselves first and has first found health and wellness before starting to experiment on everyone and anyone willing to subject themselves to their help.

The full video from which the above video is dervied: