Tag Archives: stress

Most Advanced & Most Depressed

“The term “addiction” is no exaggeration. The average consumer checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day, making more than 2,000 swipes and touches. The applications they use most frequently are owned by Facebook and Alphabet, and the usage of those products is still increasing.”

Roger McNamee – The Guardian, to link click here

“In an interview this week with Axios, Facebook’s original president, Sean Parker, admitted that the company intentionally sought to addict users and expressed regret at the damage being inflicted on children.”

“He [Parker] said that he, Mark Zuckerberg and others understood this, “And we did it anyway.”

Mike Allen – Axios, to link click here

“That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever … It’s a social validation feedback loop … You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology … [The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway.”

Sean Parker quote from Mike Allen/Axios interview

“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains”

Thuy Ong, The Verge, to link click here

“The sad truth is that Facebook and Alphabet have behaved irresponsibly in the pursuit of massive profits. They have consciously combined persuasive techniques developed by propagandists and the gambling industry with technology in ways that threaten public health and democracy.”

Roger McNamee – The Guardian, to link click here

“The US, the most technologically advanced nation on the planet is also the most depressed: 3 in 10 Americans will battle depressive illness at some point in their lives, an estimated 10 fold increase since WWII.”

Stephen Ilardi – The Wall Street Journal

“The addictive pull of social media: the idea that we can substitute a carefully controlled social-media substitute (avatar) for our less-than-perfect real-world self.”

Charles Hugh Smith – of two minds.com, to link click here

 

Wonder why we are uneasy, down, depressed, wonder no more… every time we reach for our smartphone – 100 or more times a day – we toy with neurotransmitters and hormones that have a profound effect on our mental and emotional states, hence our overall well-being and health.

So what matters more… your health, or the online status of your social media avatar?

If its your online status, then when your health, the health of your family, your children, your grandchildren deteriorates then at least you will know who is responsible… you are.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google may be guilty of toying with your physiology and psychology in the name of corporate profits, but now that you have been informed of their agenda, you have the ability and the responsibility to decide whether or not to continue to use them to the extent that you have been, or at all.

Again, what matters more… your health, or the online status of your social media avatar?

Does Daniel Clarke Have A Death Wish?

After reading the title of Clarke’s Vlog #047 “Nutrition Breakthrough”, I wondered what was the epiphany this triathlon neo-pro had today. I don’t watch all of Clarke’s vlogs but once in a while I give in and think… why not. It tickles me now being in my 40s, with two kids of high school age to watch the arrogance/ignorance of youth, especially youth which has been put on a podium or puts itself on a podium.

Today, there was no tickling… I watched Clarke’s video and was gob-smacked.  He didn’t really say what I think he just said… did he? Hold on, let’s play that back and listen… and then I had to listen again. He did! He really did say what he said… and the thought crossed my mind…

Does Clarke have a death wish?

Below is a transcript of Clarke’s vlog #047 starting at 2:39, and here is the link to the Youtube video if you want to hear for yourself:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14LqTn0cglY

Daniel Clarke:

“Usually when I do longer harder workouts, I feel like literally everything has been drained out of my pores, I feel really weak, sometimes I would have headaches, there would be a little bit of dizziness, sometimes my vision would be a little bit blurry. I always in the past just attributed that to the fact that triathlon training, Ironman training its hard, its meant to be hard, you are pushing your body I just accepted that’s the way it is and I never investigated it further. The big takeaway… just because you are doing something one way doesn’t mean that its optimal for you. And because what I was doing wasn’t broke then there is no reason to fix it… but in Tremblant it broke and fixing it is something I needed to do.”

Clarke’s fix… salt pills.

—————————————————–

Cadel Evans, leader of cycling WorldTour team, TEAM BMC, winner of the 2010 Giro d’Italia, winner of the 2011 Tour de France, winner of 2009 World Road Race Championships shares in his book “Cadel Evans: The Long Road to Paris” that on one mountain stage he started to lose vision as a result of the effort he was putting forth.

Its one thing to be a GC (General Classification) contender, to be a leader of a cycling WorldTour team, to be leading a team of top professional cyclists with the expectation of winning the Tour de France, to be competing in the Tour itself, a race that lasts 21 days covers 3,500+ km of horizontal and 35+ km of vertical distance, to be on a mountain stage at altitude, in the moment of competition against the best of the best in the world of cycling, to be an athlete with over a decade of training and racing experience at an international level as a pro, to be an athlete who knows what they are doing to their body, who understands and is able to weigh the risks of their actions.

Its one thing to be the leader of the Tour or to be going after the yellow jersey – because there are a select few times in life where it may be appropriate for an all out effort – BUT…

Its an entirely different thing for a neo-pro, who demonstrates little evidence of having enough knowledge or understanding of basic human body function, let alone advanced physiological and psychological principles and training concepts to push themselves routinely to extremes. Besides, Clarke is talking about training; he is not experiencing these medical signs and symptoms while competing in the race of his pro career, he is talking about headaches, dizziness and vision loss in regular training! Worse, he is talking about training during a long distance session… as in training which should be aerobic, not at or beyond VO2 max.

Clarke inflicts upon himself signs and symptoms that anyone else would seek medical assessment, emergency medical assessment if these signs and symptoms were severe.

[Honestly, tack on slurred speech and you have ALL the symptoms of a TIA or a stroke!]

Clarke, thinks its A-OK to repeatedly subject his body to stress & strain of such intensity and duration that pain, vision, and balance are compromised.

FYI… its NOT!

Hey, Clarke… ya think asphyxiating yourself on a regular basis to the point that you’re dizzy, to the point that you have visual disturbances is in an way healthy?  Can you consider that maybe you are so high on yourself that you falsely believe that the account from which you constantly overdraw from (i.e. your health) to bulk up your fitness is not endless and maybe, just maybe, one day the piper will come calling, and your debts will have to be paid?

Think about it…

Your brain – the most important organ in your body, the organ your body will defend to ensure that it gets the resources it needs – is FAILING IN ITS ABILITY TO FUNCTION… ya think that there may be an issue with what you think is “not broken”?

If your brain is going blue (as in blue from vasoconstriction), then how do you think your liver, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, intestines, all your other internal and vital organs are doing? If your brain is blue, how do you think your heart is doing? If your brain is blue, then what sort of training are your muscles, your nerves getting?  What sort of resources are they receiving if your brain ain’t getting what it needs?

What’s the plan?

Do Ironman entirely an-aerobically, holding VO2 max for 8+ hours?

Is this what you deem a smart race strategy?

Is that why you think what you are doing can in any way be called “training”?

I assure you… what you are doing is not training; unless your goal is near death experiences.

“No pain, no gain”, “PR or ER” are impaired mental states and not philosophies that consistent peak performers follow to achieve their fullest potential. These are sales & marketing ploys used by industry to sell you on narratives such as “Beast mode” and other absurd, juvenile, insane concepts of health and wellness.

Clarke, you needed things to break @Tremblant – i.e. you needed a crisis as a pro athlete – in order that your eyes and ears open to the fact that… you might not know everything there is to know about training, racing, lets not mention just basic human body physiology… so do tell… what happens when you are in your late 30s, maybe early 40s and all this catches up to you? I mean… surely you have stopped for a moment and considered what asphyxiating yourself will eventually do?  Right?  You have, haven’t you… stopped and considered the consequences, the side-effects, the long term risks of what you are doing?

What’s the plan? When you hit 40, or maybe ‘old-age’ doesn’t catch up to you til you are 50 and the headaches, dizziness, and vision difficulties don’t go away… then what?  Head to the doctor scratching your head as to why, or how, or what ever could be the source, the cause, the root of all these impairments?

You may not even need to wait til 40, as there are athletes of your age who as a result of their own or their coaches mantra to go hard, harder, go til you pee or cough blood led to them suffering heart attacks, developing heart beat irregularities, even brain aneurysms. I’ve met an athlete who had to have a defibrillator implanted into his chest. Imagine needing a device the size of a deck of cards to be implanted under your skin to make sure you don’t die on a daily basis. Sure, lifesaving device, but what if the need for that device was self inflicted, or perhaps coach inflicted from chronic overtraining, overstressing a young body, demanding that it puke up one more rep, even faster than the last, and then another and another?

Then what?

You are free to do as you please with your body and brain… they are after all your body and brain, but what I believe is 100% careless and reckless is that there are amateur athletes both age group (as in kids) and masters who watch your vlogs and will think to themselves… oh, you mean that’s how hard I have to push myself in training.  You mean that’s what I have to do to myself in order to be considered a ‘serious triathlete’, this is the expected ‘payment’ in blood that has to be made to call oneself a pro? And without any further investigation whether or not its the right way to train, whether or not its healthy… will monkey see, monkey do, and train in similar ways as you.

Clarke, are you prepared to handle the consequences of your “advice” falling on unsuspecting amateur athletes that wanna be like Clarke, who then do like Clarke, and train like Clarke… train til they cannot see straight or retain balance while standing? Are you prepared for the call when they are in a bike accident having pushed themselves til they can’t see straight… when they trained like they heard you train?

I worked in long term care, in convalescent care, in pre and post surgical units, with the chronically and terminally ill for over a decade. I can tell you one thing for certain… not one patient I ever met thought that when they were young that they were living ‘wrong’, unhealthy, in a way that would have consequences on their health as an adult. When we are young, all of us think we are invincible, immune to anything going wrong. When they were young (for example) smoking cigarettes was new, was cool, was the ‘in’ thing that all the ‘in’ kids did. Today, struggling for each breathe, able to function only because of the oxygen they inhale through nasal prongs, dealing with chest infection after chest infection… some will still deny that the pack a day, or two, for a few decades has anything to do with their lung disease, be it cancer, COPD, or however it manifested. Why? Because we do not believe, we cannot believe that we could inflict upon ourselves such injury, that we could ever cause ourselves harm, dysfunction, let alone disease.

Wakey, wakey… we can and we do it to ourselves all the time. We just don’t like to admit it.

Clarke, I hope you and everyone else who trains in a similar manner receive this blog not as a slight, but as a wake up call. Read it appreciating that I have true concern for your well being, for your state of mental and physical health, concern for you from the damage you are repeatedly inflicting upon yourself. Damage that unlike @Tremblant, I guarantee you do not want to ever experience, because if you do, it could very well be too late for a salt pill to make it all better.

We Are Wrong About… Fat [2]

In post [1], the concept of fat used by our body as an electrical insulator to protect all our vital organs from excessive periods of load and/or excessive electrical spikes of loads illustrated that the calories in vs calories out model is overly simplistic. A model based on calories simplifies the weight loss process to calorie restriction plus HiiT exercise, but when that process fails to deliver results we are left with either self loathing because we failed to eat less or exercise more, or denial that there is a problem at all. We end up back at square one, we feel like failures yet we fail to question if the model is accurate.

So why then does the calorie based model seem to work, at least on occasion or at least for some? Because it will when you become either neurotic or obsessive (i.e. when you create an anxiety about your weight) and use that chaotic energy to fuel a behavioural pattern towards achieving a desired weight loss goal. Problem is… when you ‘slip up’ even for an instant, when you ease up just slightly, when you loosen up the rules, fudge on the points or on the charts a teensy bit, it all falls apart.

Proof #1 that a calorie based model doesn’t work is that it is unsustainable. The closer you come to your target weight… the more compulsive, the more obsessive, the more excessive, the more neurotic you need to become in order to hold off whatever weight you lost.

Proof #2 that a calorie based model doesn’t work is that it is not scale-able: the process does not apply equally to the first 5% as it does to the last 5% towards the goal. The first 5% is relatively easy… do something different and the pounds fall off, but that ease doesn’t last long. Soon you have to restrict more and more calories, and you have to exercise harder and harder, longer and longer in order to see the gains that you made simply by getting off the couch a couple times.

We are marketed constantly that the calorie based model of weight loss is “the” model, especially since so called experts recite conclusions and data from research studies which all point in one direction (as if quantity of research trumps quality or real life applicability).

At some point, you have to lift your head up from blindly following the herd, look around, listen, and ask yourself… if everyone is doing the same thing, and if it isn’t working consistently for everyone, then either we are all doing it wrong (which advertising tries to convince us), or the model doesn’t work.

The model doesn’t work.

This is proven by the grim reality that our society is now 2/3rds overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, with juvenile obesity yet another epidemic in the making. If calorie in-calorie out worked, then we shouldn’t be becoming more overweight, more obese, more unhealthy… yet we are.  Either we are all stupid, or the model doesn’t work.  My vote is that the model doesn’t work, no matter how many Ph.Ds and their doctoral research state the opposite.


This post aims to provide another explanation for why we are becoming more and more overweight.

Adding to the electrical model (as described in post [1]), there is a mechanical model which provides another explanation as to why we pack and protect our vital organs using fat.  Best of all, the mechanical model does not conflict or contradict the electrical model in anyway, and can stand alongside the electrical model yielding multiple explanations for how and why we gain weight.

The physical/mechanical model to explain the use of fat by our body to protect our organs starts by reviewing the relationship between temperature and pressure. Gay-Lussac’s Law states the following:

That is, pressure and temperature are directly proportional to each other. As temperature decreases, pressure decreases, and as temperature increases, pressure increases (where k is a constant).

With this relationship in mind, lets return to the concept of the abdominal cylinder and piston as was both described and illustrated in the posts titled “Worst Innovation in Triathlon“. Below is the image of our abdominal cylinder: the diaphragm forms the top, the pelvic floor the bottom, and the abdominal walls and spine and ribs make up the sides.

Recall, that our vital organs (i.e. liver, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, stomach, intestines, uterus, spleen) are incompressible, meaning that under pressure they do not squeeze smaller.

Recall also, that our vital organs along with our breathing (provided it is diaphragmatic) move in a rhythmical pattern that can be referred to as the abdominal piston (see images below).


Click Image to Enlarge
Piston Gif Attribution: R. Castelnuovo

To review… when you inhale the piston head (vital organs) shifts down and when you exhale the piston head shifts up. This is proper use of your anatomy, this is proper and healthy breathing biomechanics.  The result of these healthy biomechanics is that you do not create excessive intra-abdominal pressure, you do not compress and stress your vital organs (e.g. stomach, pancreas, intestines, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, spleen, bladder, uterus, ovaries), you do not stress your pelvic floor, you do not pinch or compress blood vessels and nerves which travel through your abdomen. With healthy biomechanics – i.e. with proper use of your musculo-skeletal system – you do not lock, brace, make rigid any of the musculo-skeletal structures in your core. With healthy biomechanics you do not stop the abdominal piston from moving… not ever.

So what happens when you do stop the abdominal piston?

When you lock your abdominal piston, that is when Gay-Lussac’s Law comes into play…

When you lock the piston, you build pressure in your abdomen, and along with the pressure you build temperature.

Do you really think all your vital organs respond well to being ‘pressure cooked’?

Do we really need to wonder why our body starts to bubble wrap all our vital organs in a protective layer of insulating fat [fat insulates against cold, it equally insulates against heat and as in post [1], against electrical activity]. If we are constantly subjecting our vital organs to pressures and temperatures that are best left for making diamonds out of coal then why wonder why your body takes protective steps to ensure your survival?

We need to stop seeing fat as unhealthy, and start seeing the lifestyle that causes our body to create a protective layer of fat as what is truly unhealthy.

Layering ourselves up with fat is the byproduct of excessive intensity or duration in stress, or an individual who lacks the capacity and/or strategies to engage stress.  Either way… the issue is not fat, the issue is stress, or stress management.

If that wasn’t enough, do you really need to be shocked when you find out that you have developed food sensitivities, intolerances, blood sugar issues/symptoms of early diabetes, other digestion issues including diarrhea, constipation, or that your blood pressure is increasing, that your resting heart rate is anything close to resting, or that your kidneys, your liver, your reproductive organs are unable to operate when being ‘pressure cooked’ on a daily basis?

We lock our abdominal piston because we have too much stress in our lives, we take on too much stress, we fail to properly train to physically have the capacity to endure stress, we fail to properly study technique and strategy to have the wisdom to engage and manage stress, we fail to learn how to express ourselves honestly so when we are stressed instead of flowing and using healthy emotions to fuel us, we absorb, retain, repress and suppress toxic feelings.

The fact that we are still alive after repressing emotions, after subjecting our organs to temperature, pressure, to spikes in electrical activity is what should be surprising… not that we are overweight or obese. Becoming overweight or obese is simply millions of years of evolution programmed into us trying to keep us alive, trying to help us survive until the stressful period passes us.

As Ferris Bueller said… “life moves pretty fast, if you dont stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I encourage you to slow down, take inventory of what is truly important to you, and evaluate whether you are on the path that you want to be on, today, for the rest of your life. If your path has taken you away from taking care of yourself, from health, then perhaps this is the moment to get back on it.

We Are Wrong About… Fat [1]

I believe our attitude, our approach to dealing with being fat, overweight, and with obesity is wrong.

I do not agree and I do not believe it’s a matter of calories in vs calories out.

It’s overly simplistic, mechanistic, and ingrains a mindset that we are merely machines.

I do not agree and I do not believe that it’s a matter of determination, drive, willpower.

Again, it’s overly simplistic, denying that beliefs, narratives, emotions play any part.

I believe that our model of how the human body functions is stuck in the steam engine period, while the world has evolved into an era of lithium battery powered remotely controlled drones.

Overeating, over-exercising or under-exercising are the result of individuals having excessive intensities of stress and/or excessive durations of stress in their lives and unable to effectively manage the stress levels that they have taken on. We incorrectly use eating and exercising (or lack thereof) as short term solutions when we fail to maintain healthy levels of stress in our lives, and/or fail to engage the stress we have in an healthy manner.

The root of the obesity epidemic is that we – collectively – are not handling appropriately the effects that advancements in technology are causing on our lives, on our work, our careers, our finances, our social structure, social interactions, on the nature of how we live each and every day. Our failure to integrate and ‘keep up’ with the accelerating rate of advancement is not only making us outright sick, it is driving us to addictions and in worst cases to an early grave (despite the hoopla that technology is a one way street to an ever improving quality of life).


What’s the difference between a dead body and an alive body? Both have organs, muscles, nerves, and both have a brain… so what is the difference? What is the aspect of being alive that makes us alive, that differentiates us from being dead?

You are pronounced dead when there is no longer detectable electrical activity in your heart and in your brain; when the electrical signals of these organs stops… you are pronounced dead.

What defines us as alive, is energy, the electrical signals constantly flowing between individual cells (e.g. within an organ), or between different groups of cells (e.g. between organs).

Like anything that conducts energy – as in electricity – there must be some sort of segregation of signals so that signals remain distinct, discrete, preventing short circuits.

In electronics, the part of the wire which surrounds, protects, and isolates the energy traveling in the wire from coming in contact with any other wire is the wire insulation.  The insulation is typically a rubber or plastic coating that surrounds the copper wire within.

In the electrical wiring of the body we too need to have an insulator that ensures that the signals – the electricity – along nerves, between groups of cells doesn’t come in contact with other signals, short circuiting the message or overloading the system.

What does our body use as insulation?  It uses FAT!

That’s right… FAT is the insulator. You need fat in your body, you need fat in your brain, you need fat everywhere in order that each and every electrical signal you generate remains distinct throughout its journey from start to finish. Fat is also needed to insulate to prevent an overload of signals.

Fat as an insulator is critical to the proper function of every single organ in our body, brain included.

Fat is not only needed in the wiring (i.e. our nervous system) but fat is needed wherever there is the risk or the potential risk that short circuits and system overloads can happen.

In healthy systems, where stress loads are appropriate and balanced by rest (e.g. cooling) periods, then the insulation required is minimal.

In systems where the stress load – or stated another way, in systems were the flow of electricity is excessive in intensity and/or duration – then the amount of insulation required increases.  If the stress load is so high that there is a risk that organs could be damaged, then in order to protect itself the body starts to insulate itself… it uses FAT to surround and protect the organs.

To visualize what happens when electrical devices are placed under excessive stress loads for which they were not designed, (as in there is insufficient insulation to prevent overflow of the stress), here are computer motherboards being overloaded with electricity:

The above are not situations that your body can allow to happen to you… that would be capital ‘B’ bad.  To protect and prevent total organ overload and organ failure, your body insulates organs using fat.

If you stop and think for a moment, that its not just your brain that handles stress, but every single organ in your body… your heart, your lungs, your liver, your pancreas, your stomach, every organ… then insulting to prevent a burn out ain’t such a bad strategy.

Your body is not stupid. Your body is not rebelling against you when it stuffs insulation between each organ. Your body is working to protect you, to keep you alive. Your body is simply responding to the fact that the stress load you are placing it under is more than it can handle.

Millions upon millions of years of evolution are not working against you, but for you, to keep you alive.  Your body is hoping that it can keep you alive long enough that the threats that you are under that are causing the excessive stress loads will decrease.  Until then, stuffing every crack and crevasse with fat is simply your body being smart about survival.


We need to reconsider the paradigm with which we think about fat, being overweight, and about obesity. It is not calories in vs out, its not willpower, its not laziness or lack of motivation; the issue is much much larger… its about stress.

In fact, its not about stress per se, its about our ability to engage stress in an healthy manner, its about our ability to eliminate, reduce and manage stress, its about our ability to train, preparing to live in a world that is only becoming more and more stressful.

We cannot eliminate stress.  The only people without stress are those in a cemetery 6ft under.

I believe that an electrical model, not a caloric model needs to be considered because at the root of our function, each and every cell in your body is a tiny little battery, a tiny little capacitor, which depends on proper electrical charges existing and flowing across its cell membrane to function properly.

A caloric model of obesity thinks of the human body only as a mechanical object.

The human body cannot be thought of in a steam engine manner… we need to upgrade our model from the steam engine era, to the era of the super computer. An era that is not fueled by calories, but by the flow of electrons.

Are Desroches and Duncan Mad?

Last week Triathlon Magazine Canada posted on their Workout Wednesday installment, a session designed by 70.3 pro triathlete Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches. If you missed it, then here is the suggested workout (here is the link):

10 x 4 min as:

  • 10 seconds all-out, 50 seconds rest
  • 20 seconds all-out, 40 seconds rest
  • 30 seconds all-out, 30 seconds rest
  • 40 seconds all-out, 20 seconds rest

These were the follow up notes to go along with the workout:

  • This is an aerobic workout.
  • After each set, there is no rest.
  • Add a warm up and cool down as needed.

Alrighty then, let’s get something clear… (i) this is what an all-out effort looks like (below), and (ii) an all-out effort is the absolute furthest thing from aerobic training:

This is National Champ, World Cup Champion, and Olympian German track cyclist Robert Förstemann giving an all-out effort (approx. 1min averaging 700watts). This is what an all-out effort from an athlete who has stood on national and international podiums 22x looks like.

This is what Robert Förstemann looks like after giving one, just one all out effort…

To see the entire video, click here

Just let that sink in for a second.  That is what Förstemann looks like after giving one (1) all out effort. It does not appear to me that this Olympian is ready to deliver 40 all-out efforts in a row, not even with 50 whole seconds of rest Desroches offers in his workout.

If an athlete who has been training for over a decade, who has stood on the podium of international competitions innumerable times, needs to lie down after an all-out effort, then who is Desroches expecting the readers of Triathlon Magazine Canada to be? Machines?

Triathlon pro Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches goes on to suggest (his words not mine) that:

“No matter how fit you are, you can still do the workout.”

Say what? Anyone? Any fitness level? Novice athletes, brand new triathletes, athletes training for Try-A-Tri to iron distance events and all in between, anyone coming to Triathlon Magazine Canada for a workout idea can and should do this workout? An Olympian is on the ground trying to recover from one all out effort and Desroches advises that anyone can do his workout of 40 all out repeats.

Madness!

What about athletes returning from an injury, or who recently suffered an illness, or time off due to business or family issues? Anyone can do this workout? Anytime? No conditions, no risks?

Unrestrained madness!

Obviously Desroches has never heard of the J curve: that the risk of cardiovascular accidents rise exponentially with hi-intensity training. Why would Desroches offer coaching without taking the time to appreciate the risks to the well-being of individuals who trust that his workout is well thought-out, appropriate, and safe? Why would Triathlon Magazine Canada published coaching advice from one who is unqualified? Are the editors failing to perform their own due diligence, placing their readers at risk of fake coaching and fake coaches?

This workout is careless and irresponsible. I leave the reader to decide if it indicates incompetence and/or negligence.

This mindlessness led to the following comment submitted to Triathlon Magazine Canada, which was never posted… (surprise surprise)


Click to enlarge

At the time that this workout was posted, I was reading Jens Voigt’s autobiography titled “Shut Up Legs” (fyi… awesome book, especially for cycling enthusiasts), anyhow… on page 110 of the hardcover version Jens reviews one of the workouts that Bjarne Riis had him do: 40/20s, as in 40secs hard, 20secs recovery. Before Riis, such workouts were not part of Voigt’s training. The first time Voigt did a workout similar to what Desroches prescribes was a decade into his professional career.

Who is Jens Voigt? A former cycling pro who rode on multiple UCI WorldTour teams during a career that spanned nearly two decades. He raced the Tour de France on several occasions, and took the podium in stage wins a few times. To become a cycling pro Voigt put in thousands and thousands of kilometers during his early years (teens), continued to put in thousands upon thousands of kilometers annually as a pro, and on top was racing thousands upon thousands of kilometers annually. Voigt was no amateur, he was no neo-pro when he started such training.

Yet Voigt’s workout of 40/20s wasn’t all-out, during the 40secs Riis expected him to go hard, not all-out… and he was a cycling pro at the time.

Meanwhile, Desroches suggests that banging out all-out efforts for 40mins is appropriate for anyone and everyone.

It is this sort of mindless, ignorant, non-individualized coaching that infuriates me.

It is such incomprehensible disrespect and carelessness towards the health and well-being of a fellow human being that is unbearable to me.

To assume that the reader knows how to train, how to deliver an effort properly, how to do it while retaining proper technique, that training beyond one’s technique is incorrect no matter what effort level is called for, and worst, assumes that the reader is healthy enough without ever checking, without asking, and without listing any conditions or criteria is inexcusable.

Maximal, all-out, 10 out of 10, red zone efforts are not given the respect required despite the fact that training at these intensities poses a serious threat to those without a minimum level of health, and to those who lack sufficient awareness of their own body and its signals. They are called red-zone efforts for a reason… red is the colour of danger.

This sort of ‘all-out’ advice is coming more and more from those like Desroches who apparently seem to lack even a basic understanding of physiology, psychology, let alone pathology, yet feel obliged to dish out advice on training, diet, nutrition, injuries, rehab, and anything else since they have concluded that they are ‘experienced’ because they once had an experience, or because lo and behold they are registered as a pro athlete.


Triathlon Magazine Canada [TMC] wasn’t finished promoting madness (where is Mr Wonderful aka Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank when we need the madness stopped), in this week’s Workout Wednesday installment the editors of TMC posted this workout from someone who calls themselves a coach.

Yet again:

  • No explanation as to who this workout is appropriate, as in what is your ‘A’ race? Try-A-Tri, Sprint, Olympic, iron distance events? FYI.. no iron distance triathlete needs all-out sprint efforts of 10-30secs for races that the bike portions are hours long and 100% aerobic.
  • No explanation as to who this workout is appropriate, as in what is your level of fitness? Just getting started, novice, intermediate, top age grouper or pro level? There is not a single newbie, novice or intermediate athlete that needs maximal/all-out sprint efforts, even if they are doing sprint events.
  • The first sentence states: “this workout will test anyone’s limits”… hold on, is this a workout, or is this a test set? If its a test, there ought to be conditions as to how to prepare for the test. Physiological tests are supervised, never conducted without supervision because pushing an athlete to their limits is simply a set up for an emergency situation. If its a workout, then why is the effort anywhere close to the athlete’s limits?
  • The second sentence states (paraphrased): this is a standalone workout, or a workout which can be incorporated into a longer session. Hold on… Duncan says that “if you do it right, you will have nothing left to give”… well how can this workout be part of a longer workout if I will have nothing left to give? Which is it?
  • There is no identification of the risks associated with hi intensity training, namely injury, illness, nor any suggestions as to how to handle the effort, or how the effort should feel.
  • What if an athlete is returning from an injury or illness or time off from training, is this workout still appropriate?

If that wasn’t enough Duncan down plays the intensity of an all-out workout stating that ‘the efforts are short enough that they will not beat you up’. Really? Did you see the image of Robert Förstemann above? He kinda looks a little done, and all he did was one all-out effort. Duncan on the other hand has 18 all out efforts in his workout… as if that’s not gonna leave a mark.

Once upon a time, coaching had something to do with teaching, educating, raising the understanding and knowledge of athletes… no more.

Now its about trying to figure out how to hurt people.

The definition of coaching has been perverted to the point that the belief is that the one who comes up with the gnarliest workouts of all, is tops. It’s absurd.


You want generic, verging on random advice which encourages you to harm yourself? Well, there is most certainly loads of it online. And believe it or not, these ‘coaches’ are so bold that they will even charge you for the ‘training programs’ they offer.

You want to improve as an athlete, then find a coach who teaches technique, skill acquisition and the development of energy system capacity. Find a coach who wants you to achieve your goals, but not at the risk of injury, illness, or ending up as an exercise addict. Find a coach who wants you to become healthier in the process of pursuing your fitness goals.

You are an individual, give yourself the respect you deserve… unique individuals require individualized solutions, not prescriptions arrived by CTRL-C (copy), followed by CTRL-V (paste).

Stop asking, stop taking, and stop receiving advice from those who have no skin-in-your-game.

If your advisors are not accountable to you, if they are not willing to be accountable to you for the counsel they give… then find those who respect you enough to be accountable.

If you truly seek health, wellness, develop a team of trusted professionals in your community who you can hold accountable and who want to be held accountable for the advice they offer.

Take the time to build a long term relationship with a professional or a team of pros. In time, as they get to know you, and you them, the advice they will be able to offer will become more and more attuned to you. You will achieve outcomes impossible with generic online downloaded programs, where coaches can only guess at how you respond to their training, how you recover, how you execute skills and sport specific technique, and essentially are gambling that they won’t put you into an early grave or an hospital ER in the process.

Is VanderLinden Healthy?

Background

Stress is the basis for 80-85% of all diseases and medical diagnoses. We cannot eliminate stress in life, therefore it is the inability to manage the  stress of life that is the source of almost all major ailments, injuries, illnesses and diseases.

The corollary is that health is the ability to manage stress: physical, mental, and emotional stresses under varying circumstances and durations.  Health is a level of robustness, a type of flexibility that allows us to rebound from stress. It is a state of anti-fragility achieved by balancing training and rest, while developing and rehearsing strategies in preparation for the next time that we do engage a stress/stressor.

It stands to reason then that a professional athlete should be an expert in health as the entire focus of a pro athlete is to develop themselves to handle the physical stress of training, the mental stress of competition, of competitors, of juggling their sport organizations, sponsors, of home and work life, and the emotional stress of failing forwards in order to achieve their goals.

For a professional athlete to be unhealthy, to have failed at managing stress is a contradiction of states, its an incongruency. To be an athlete and to be unhealthy is to fail at the exact skill set that you are supposed to excel, to model. For a pro athlete to compromise or sacrifice health to achieve performance goals contradicts the very meaning of athleticism. To be a pro athlete means to be equally adept at planning and laying out appropriate timelines for goals, preventing over-reach, ambition, desire, and covetousness from taking over.

As a coach, to have an athlete who is unhealthy is to have failed in the role of teacher, mentor, advisor. It is to have overexposed your student to stress without appropriate preparation, with insufficient training and/or rest. It is to have demanded too much of your apprentice too soon.

I believe that we have forgotten what it truly means to be an athlete, what it truly means to coach.

To be an athlete used to mean pursuing your potential through exploration, learning, skill acquisition and development. Now the objective seems to be all about sourcing the short cuts which will deliver desired goals, where the attitude is anything goes, including the sacrifice, compromise, gambling and leveraging of health to cut the process to a minimum regardless of consequences and repercussions. We go so far as to call this approach active, healthy, balanced living.

As a health professional, a coach and athlete, I see swimmers, cyclists, runners, and triathletes all trying to achieve ‘healthy’ using this mindset, but instead of developing robustness, flexibility and capacity, they have become brittle, fragile, rigid, inflexible, chronically injured, ill, and overweight. Instead of gaining and enjoying freedom, they have become jailed and debilitated by their training and racing. The belief at the root of this dysfunction is that if we only try harder, push harder… the health which has eluded us will finally arrive.

Discussion

In a 2016 Triathlon Magazine Canada article, pro triathlete Alex VanderLinden shared that this summer he dealt with ” low energy, poor recovery, lack of motivation” and having some blood work done was informed that he had a B12 deficiency and low testosterone.

Pro athletes who are unhealthy tend to make it seem as if their issues are mere inconveniences, ‘flesh wounds’ as in the Monty Python Dark Knight skit, not an indicator of anything significant.

To be injured, to be ill, to be unhealthy is a state that a pro athlete cannot be in. It is no different than a bank going bankrupt… its not supposed to happen, banks are supposed to be impenetrable institutions, no different than the body, mind, and spirit of a pro athlete.

When things don’t go as planned, we should stop.  We don’t.
Instead we resume training, typically training even harder.

To progress, an athlete must honestly evaluate training, recovery, competitions, appraising the value of each and every aspect to adjust upcoming cycles. When an athlete begins to suffer pain, dysfunction, injury, illness, or ends up developing symptoms to a syndrome, or a full blown medical condition training should come to an absolute halt so that a thorough autopsy is performed to ascertain what went wrong.

In Formula One, Indy, and World Tour racing, the cars and bikes used by the athletes are routinely stripped down to the frame. Every screw is examined, regreased, and retightened exactly to spec. Cables and fairings are inspected, repaired or replaced, and engines or gears and chain are taken apart, then put back together. Nothing is left to chance, absolutely nothing.

Apparently we respect cars and bikes more than we respect ourselves, more than we respect our bodies, minds, and spirits because how often do you hear athletes taking such care of themselves? How often do you hear of coaches analyzing training and racing to such a degree to improve performance while preventing over-training, injury, burn out or blow out by their athletes?

Instead, we have set our narratives of athlete and coach precluding us from seeing what needs to be seen, preventing us from stopping. Our narratives as they stand now:

  • Athletes are models of health, of vitality, of physical, mental and emotional capacity.  To be an athlete is to be healthy.  Athletes achieve this health, by training. Therefore, to be an athlete is to train. It follows then that not to train, implies that you are not being an athlete, that you are not pursuing health or are not healthy since you are not training.
  • A coach is someone who is educated and experienced to train athletes, hence coaches are reservoirs of information and wisdom in how to achieve health: physical, mental and emotional well-being. To coach is to train athletes. If a coach is coaching, then their athletes are training. It follows then that athletes who are not training, are not being coached.

See the problem? These narratives preclude stopping, resting, recovering.  As a result, athletes cannot rehabilitate fully, cannot rest, recovery or heal completely, because not to train means not to be an athlete.  We have cornered ourselves where we cannot stop even when continuing on causes us pain, causes us injury, causes us illness… we are driving ourselves into disease and cannot stop because we are trapped in a negative spiral, a doom loop of our own creation.

We can be on a handful of medications, need regular medical appointments, require taping, bracing, medical grade compression stockings, receive regular adjustments, massages, and therapy, we can ever suffer a heart attack or stroke, but as long as we get in our training… because of these narratives, we are convinced that we are truly healthy.

In psychology, a state of contradiction is called: denial.

Bent on upholding that our lifestyle, our training, our coach, and our lack of recovery is healthy, athletes will injure themselves, drive themselves to extremes of over-training with the resulting physiological and psychological chaos written off as bad luck, bad genetics, or just bad timing.

Bent on upholding our narratives, by refusing to question the status quo:

  1. Training is never questioned, never doubted, never evaluated to ascertain if it is truly delivering desired goals without undesirable consequences;
  2. Coaching is never questioned, never doubted, never assessed to determine if the philosophy is capable of delivering desired goals without undesirable consequences; and,
  3. Rest, napping, sleeping, downtime, real recovery including appropriate pre-hab & rehab, total rejuvenation, full healing are all impossibilities because none exist in the narratives we use to define health, wellness, well-being.

As an athlete or coach, to have your training methodology questioned is one thing, but to have to consider your training methodology as wrong… well, that’s just not going to happen, and if it does happen then there will be no admission to being wrong.  Too much rides on being right despite the risk of harm that we refuse to admit ignorance or incompetence when it comes to our own health, hoping that ‘good intentions’ will insure us against unwanted side effects.

In psychology, the term describing the refusal to challenge and confront narratives, thus to live in contradiction (i.e. denial) is: cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance:  The mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time; performs an action that is contradictory to their beliefs, ideas, or values; or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values.[1][2]  [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Cognitive dissonance regarding our health and the resulting lack of health is our new normal. How else do you explain the popularization of the adage “no pain, no gain”? We deny the deep pain we live in, we normalize inner turmoil to the point that we inflict harm to ourselves to override the divide, to deaden the inner conflicts we struggle with when we refuse to deal with our fears.

OVER-TRAINING in the best cases, DEATH in the worst.

Ask athletes or coaches if their athletes over-train, are over-trained and the reaction will be… get outta here, no way, never! There can be no such thing as over-training because by our own narratives over-training is synonymous with being over-healthy. No one would admit to being ‘over-healthy’ therefore over-training is an impossibility.

Physical injury, mental impairment, and emotional fragility should suffice as clues to an athlete and their coach that something is wrong. But nothing is ever wrong in a society where “no pain, no gain” is the reigning mindset towards life: you weren’t wrong, you just didn’t suffer enough, you didn’t try hard enough. Its a society where crawling across finish lines is heroic (instead of mindless), where inflicting and tolerating pain is a testament to manliness or womanliness.

Where does it end?

Stage 1 Over-Training ends typically with an injury, an impairment, or illness of some sort. If proper rest and recovery or rehab are provided, then the athlete can return to a balanced state, a state of being healthy, truly healthy, but these days the mindset is screw that, get adjusted, get taped, foam roll, wear compression clothing, add a brace, get a prescription, pop the pills, get back out asap to training as these imply health. Its cosmetic health, but hey, cosmetic health is good enough because at least you look healthy. As a result we skip Stage 1, and we speed right along into Stage 2.

Stage 2 Over-Training is marked by weight gain or weight retention due to increasing and/or unmanageable levels of stress and the subsequent flooding of cortisol into our blood. The availability of so-called sports nutrition products (i.e. candy for adults) gloss over the signs and symptoms of Stage 2 leading most to continue along, unaware of the damage they inflict to their physiology and psychology. The fueling with gels, sports drinks, and every other sugar laced product power the adrenalin-cortisol hyped workouts and state of mind, ushering the athlete onto Stage 3.

Stage 3 Over-Training starts with diminishing or negative returns from training as the credit account of health is nearly depleted, leaving nothing further to leverage. Stage 3 is when athletes start to suffer from issues such as metabolic disorders, food sensitivities and intolerances, hormonal imbalances, neuro-endocrine fatigue, arrythmias, anxiety, insomnia amongst other signs and symptoms. Whereas in Stage 2 athletes start to underperform in competition, in Stage 3 athletes start to dislike, even hate competing. The stress of competition simply overwhelms them, but being so far gone these athletes come to the conclusion that they are simply bad at racing, good at training, so they train even harder as a compensatory reaction. Stage 3 makes its presence known in a myriad of ways which is why it confuses athletes, coaches, even health care professionals: multiple signs and symptoms develop over a period of time dilute connections. Signs and symptoms pop up across all 3 dimensions: physical, mental, and emotional, and to further confuse the matter, pop up in combinations. Stage 3 asserts itself when the individual finally breakdowns, often ending up with a physical or mental medical diagnosis (a diagnosis that they fall on as a crutch to explain their condition, as opposed to realizing that how they have trained has resulted in this condition). In the worst scenarios, the individual never makes it to an health professional until after they suffer a heart attack, a stroke, fall into severe depression or worse, skip right to the final scene: dead.

I encourage all athletes to consider… if your training, if the coaching you are receiving is not moving you towards your goals and improving your health, then what is the end game of the path you are on?  Think about it now, before you end up any farther down the path, and hopefully long before you end up in an hospital Emergency Room.

Here are links to a series on the topic of Over-Training from the website breakingmuscle.com:

  1. Part 1 – Overtraining Can Kill You: The 3 Stage of Overtraining
  2. Part 2 – Overtraining Can Kill You: The 3 Stage of Overtraining

VanderLinden isn’t the only pro triathlete with health issues… fellow pro triathlete Cody Beals shared that he faced similar issues earlier in 2016, and now pro Matt Bach wrote an article on these exact same health issues. Question is how many more pros are there who are not healthy, but are training and racing as if they are? How many are pressing on like Monty Python’s Dark Knight believing that “tis only a flesh wound” and that they are fit to fight? For their own sake, and for the sake of all those that these pros serve as role models… I can only hope that they are awakened to the fact that they are hurting themselves by how they are training, that how they train is what is inflicting the damage. Health and returning to training and racing healthy is possible, but not on the path that they are currently on.


P.S.  An acquaintance shared that they heard of a young guy, 40’ish, a husband, a father of two who recently played a game of shiny. After the game he had an heart attack and died. What would we have said if he was 70? Likely, sorry, that is sad, but considering his age an heart attack is not entirely unexpected.  If he was 60 we would have said, oh, that is unexpected. If he was 50, we would be shocked, saying wow, that is young. So what do you say when a 40 year old dies of a heart attack? It says our definition as a society of health, of being healthy, of exercise, of being active and fit are wrong, totally wrong wrong wrong. It says that how we are pursuing health, fitness, performance is incorrect. Think about it. Know anyone who was too young to die?

Simon Sinek: Understand the Game

When you have a moment over the holidays, I ask you to watch this talk, uninterrupted from start to finish. If it doesn’t alter the course of your life, then I am sorry, but I can assure you that the information within has already altered the way I think, the way I want to think, the way I want to be, act, and how I want to influence my children. I believe it will have a similar impact on you.

For whom is this talk relevant? If you live in the information age and want to live in it, in control, not controlled by it, if you have children and want them to grow up as independent, physically, mentally and emotionally healthy adults capable of contributing to society, if you are a kid and especially if you are a Millennial, then this is one talk that I believe offers the insight into the obstacles you are encountering and pose a direct threat to your health, your well-being, to your success in life.

Transcript (video time from 5:29 to 7:05mins):

“Alcohol, nicotine, gambling all release dopamine, its why they feel good and its why almost all addictions are dopamine based addictions. We also know that almost all alcoholics discovered alcohol when they were teenagers. You see when we are very very young the only approval we need is the approval of our parents. Then when we go through adolescences we make this transition where we now need the approval of our peers. Very frustrating for our parents, very important for us, but it allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families and to the broader tribe. It is a time of high stress and high anxiety and we are supposed to learn to rely on our friends.  Some people – quite by accident – discover alcohol and the numbing effects of dopamine, and unfortunately that connection becomes hardwired. Then for the rest of their lives every time they face significant stress they don’t turn to a person, they turn to the bottle. Now as I said before, we know that social media and smartphones release dopamine. We have age restrictions on alcohol, we have age restrictions on tobacco, we have age restrictions on gambling, but we have no age restrictions on social media and smartphones. Its as if an entire generation is going through adolescence and their parents have thrown open the liquor cabinet and have said “try the vodka, it’ll help you get through the teenage years.” That is what social media and smartphones do.”

“Understanding the Game We’re Playing” by Simon Sinek

A few points on addiction…

  • The issue is not whether or not we are addicts: if you are alive, then your nervous system functions and depends on the neurotransmitter dopamine, and as a byproduct of the addictive qualities of dopamine, everyone by default has the potential to be an addict, as addictive tendencies are innate to us all. The addictive tendency of any individual is the outcome of how they live out their core beliefs: core beliefs are expressed through the narratives they have written and repeated to themselves (consciously and subconsciously), and the behaviour patterns and habits they repeat and which rule their day, programming their physiological and psychological states (hence their ‘addictive-ness’).
  • To be addicted to exercise is no different than being addicted to anything else, the only difference is that society approves of an addiction to exercise, just as smoking and domestic violence were once socially acceptable addictions.  Just because society approves of it, doesn’t mean its right, or that its healthy. You may want to consider the fact that the collective we is known to change its minds rather frequently as to what is ‘in’, what is right, what is healthy.
  • Any addiction, every addiction is unhealthy, because by the definition of addiction it is to live unbalanced. The immediate impact of an addiction to exercise may be positive: weight loss, fitness gains, but if the addiction grows, then where does the addiction end? Body image issues, eating disorders, winning at any cost… where does the it end? Lance Armstrong once was a role model, til his addiction overtook him. Lance Armstrong was an hero, then he wasn’t.  There is no clear line in the stand, so no one, not one person has the ability to honestly state that they are in control when living addicted. The delusion of addiction is control: all addicts are ‘in’ control, that is until they aren’t.
  • I would encourage you to live healthy, by living in control, living in balance. I would encourage you to model for your children a life of balance, a life of control, so that they can grow up having experienced parents living in control. It is rather convenient to want your children to be ‘in control of their lives’, but for you to live a life of reckless abandon.
  • To live in balance, requires retraining daily behaviours, and rewriting narratives which are the lens’ through which we see life. Simple? Yes. Easy? Absolutely not. Worth it? You cannot even begin to imagine how worth it, it is.

A few points on gambling…

  • When the term gambling is used, most will think of a casino, a poker table, or the slots. These are indeed forms of gambling, but ‘games’ are not the only form of gambling. The way we drive can be a form of gambling: barrelling down the highway at excessive speeds, cutting off drivers, perhaps with a drink or two in us to lubricate our thirst for risk.  The way we handle ourselves professionally, we gamble with our licence, our ability to practice, to conduct business. Ever heard of ‘ER or PR’? What healthy adult of sound mind risks hospitalization in pursuit of a finish line t-shirt, medal, or selfie? Excessive insanely intense exercise performed in an attempt to burn extra calories, or to achieve an outlandish and unrealistic finish line goal are also forms of gambling… this time with your health, your life.
  • Want to function at a higher level?  Want to explore your potential, in business life, in home life, in sport? Then it starts with an honest appraisal of how you are living today. Addicted? Addicted to socially acceptable, so-called healthy addictions, or addicted to social no-no’s? Doesn’t matter, its all the same, just painted with a different brush stroke.
  • There is another path. It will likely require starting over, unlearning old ways, old habits, but the path – unlike that of addiction, of gambling – has no limits, because at no point does it risk you, your health or your life.

On being an athlete…

  • If you are addicted to sport, to exercise, to fitness, to smoothies and protein powders, to watts on a power meter, to a fitness app or tracker, to split times, to spreadsheets with data points tracking results, then I can assure you and can guarantee that you are not on the path that leads to your vast potential that is waiting to be unearthed.
  • Champions, consistent peak performers are in love with freedom, the freedom to move, to explore, to play, to learn, to have fun, to enjoy the hidden potential of their body and mind when unleashed from all earthly addictions.

It is not addiction that leads to exquisiteness and excellence, its absolute freedom from addiction that is the narrow path (the one less chosen).

Why Do I Blog

After graduating from the UofT with a degree in Rehabilitation Medicine and having started to practice as a Registered Physiotherapist, I spent the next decade working with the elderly, specifically those residing in long term care facilities (aka nursing homes), and assisted living facilities (aka retirement homes/senior apartments).

I blog because… not once did I meet anyone living in any of these facilities who purposefully planned to end up requiring ANY level of assistance with their activities of daily living in the early or later years of being a senior.  No one planned to lose their drivers license, thus requiring help to get to appointments, to the bank, to get groceries; not to mention losing the independence and freedom of simply getting around.  No one planned to lose their flexibility, their strength, their endurance, becoming unable to keep up with the upkeep of their home, their yard. No one planned to lose their dexterity, their balance requiring help with their own upkeep. No one planned to have a fall that required surgery, total knee or hip replacement surgery that then decreased their level of function to the point that simple tasks were no longer simple.  No one planned to become overweight to the point that they became obese, impairing the function of their heart, their breathing, their other vital organs to the extent that it would require daily medical care. No one planned to end up with pain, nor believing that mild pains would become debilitating pain, that pain in one joint would lead to pains in other joints, that their pain would become unmanageable, that their pain would limit life.

Not one planned to end up in long term care or in assisted living, yet they all did.  In the vast majority of cases (i.e. 95+% of admissions) it wasn’t some rare or unknown disease that was impossible to prevent or foresee that was the cause of their admission, it was directly due their  lifestyle or its consequences.

Lifestyle Disease: dis-eases we cause ourselves, to ourselves as a direct result of our lifestyle choices, our daily decisions of how we live.

I blog because… everyone I met had one thing in common:  they all thought that they were healthy or living healthy in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.  They all thought that they were taking care of themselves, doing ‘enough’, making healthy choices in activity levels, their eating and drinking.

It doesn’t matter from what walk of life people came, I met people from all walks while working in care facilities: from former CEOs who were once titans in business, to legends of the music industry, to those who served in our Armed Forces, to business and health care professionals (even doctors and nurses despite all their knowledge), to those who lived simple.

I blog because… what people thought was healthy or was healthy ‘enough’… wasn’t.

If your definition of health today requires medications, ‘superfood’ smoothies, routine health or wellness appointments, intense sessions of exercise, dependence on braces, support and compression clothing, then compare your lifestyle to those living in care facilities:

  • Average # of meds taken by a long term care resident is 13.  This is not pills, this is medications prescribed, meaning that if 1 med is taken 3x per day, its counted as 1 med. How many are you poppin’ a day (e.g. anti-inflammatories, pain killers, blood pressure, sleep aides)? On your way to 13?
  • Average resident who is on blood thinners, who is at risk of clots, who has venous insufficency, and/or is bedridden wears compression stockings.  Yup, just like those marketed as “performance socks” to athletes, just like those worn by runners, CrossFitters, and triathletes.  Only difference being is that those in care facilities are usually white or beige, not funky neon pink. If you are healthy, truly health, would you really need to wear compression socks, especially while exercising?
  • Average resident has virtually every data point tracked… calorie intake, water input and output levels are compared, # of pills taken, their heart rate and blood pressure is taken on schedule, and when it is time to stand stand up, to walk, every step is counted to see if they took more than yesterday. Are you tracking your ‘health’ in the same way?
  • Average resident spends the predominant amount of time in their day sitting or lying in bed. Is that any different than your average day of sitting while you commute, sitting at your computer, sitting through teleconferences and meetings?
  • Average resident joins in to get some exercise by sitting in on a  wheelchair tai chi class, strength ‘n’ stretch class using weights or stretch cords, or takes a walk around the facility grounds.  Is that any different than your average amount of daily exercise?

Those who reside in care facilities are not healthy. If they were, they wouldn’t be living there.

If your lifestyle doesn’t come up significantly different than that of a resident in a care facility, then maybe you need to reconsider whether your lifestyle and choices are all that healthy.

Their health is being ‘managed’. Is that your goal? To be managed. To break even with your health? On the verge of pain, injury, burn out, break down or a disease, but good enough to keep it going another day? For what? Just to survive? What about thriving, not just surviving.

The average resident in long term care today had a better chance to have a healthy lifestyle in many cases when compared to your generation growing up.  When they were growing up…

 

  • Meals were typically made lovingly by mom at home, and were shared around the dining room table, along with family conversations about the days events. Meals were made from natural ‘real’ food, not pink slime, fillers, genetically engineered or fake factory foods.
  • Portion sizes were a 1/3 or a 1/4 of what is served today in restaurants and at home, and no one was starving as a result, few were overweight, and even fewer were obese.
  • Food products didn’t have to be enriched in order to make up for their deficient quality in vitamins and minerals, as fruits and vegetables were grown on nutrient rich soil, not barren wastelands that had to be sprayed and fertilized in order to yield.
  • Exercise did not have to be planned, because you walked or biked to and from school, and then right after dinner you ran back out to play, staying out late only racing home to desperately make it back before the street lights came on (so you didn’t break curfew).
  • Imagination was required to create games, to make up rules to figure out how to make this game of tag or capture the flag more challenging than the last.
  • Climbing trees and playing in the ravine didn’t require the principals permission, a game of soccer didn’t need a city permit.
  • Getting out of breathe was a normal part of play, never a concern over one’s well being. Falling down and scraping a knee wasn’t considered a medical emergency, you brushed it off and kept going because who wants to be out of the game?
  • The work day and its stress ended at 5pm, because there wasn’t technology to make it 24/7.
  • Dehydration was a non issue, no one carried around water let alone salt pills. If it so happened that you became hungry, you waited til meal time (as spoiling your dinner came with its own consequences). There was no snack time and again, few were overweight and even fewer were obese.

The average care facility resident grew up when being and living healthy was far easier, yet how many still ended up in a care facility?

Today I see age group athletes and masters athletes striving for health, exercising intensely, madly trying to burn calories, squeezing in fitness and performance into their life, as opposed to health being the priority. I see athletes straining to generate watts to improve a bike time, power to decrease swim or run splits, but few realize that they do not have the capacity nor conditioning to attempt such training, and what they are performing is not what is meant by healthy exercise. Hi Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is appropriate only if you have years and years of simple base training, only after you have transformed your physiology and psychology to handle the volume and intensity of training for competition. Completing any event, a 10k, a marathon, a triathlon, least of all an iron distance triathlon on next to no training is in no way any indication of health.

Today I see former National level athletes, athletes who went on scholarship to university, returning to sport as a masters athlete. Many return broken, having had to walk away from sport because they were pushed outside themselves to produce results, not for themselves, not on their timelines, but for others. They return hoping that they can once again find the joy that sport once brought them, but they struggle with inner conflicts, facing truths about dreams they did and did not accomplish, about their own met and unmet expectations, and those of others.

Today I see people doing loads and loads of stuff thinking that its all for their good, following the headlines of what food to eat, how much to exercise, what supplements to consume in order to be healthy, but the point is being missed.

Health doesn’t come from the outside in, you cannot buy it, you do not put it on like a pair of new kicks.  If you could, then how do you explain all those who I met that despite being abundant in financial wealth still ended up in a facility? There is no amount of financial wealth that can buy health, return you to being healthy.  We say… “if you don’t have your health, you have nothing”, yet we live believing that if we aren’t dead or at the hospital then we must be healthy.

Today I see people thinking that either they have their health because some aspect of their lifestyle has been sold to them as a ‘healthy lifestyle’ choice, or because they don’t think they need to worry about their health until later in life (e.g. youth will get them through), and if it so happens that something does happen… well, the assumption is that there will be time to get things right or that there will be a pill for whatever ails them.

Before I was hit by a car – while on a bike ride during 3rd year of university – I thought that life would go on for forever. You could not of convinced me that I was anything but invincible.

After I worked in care facilities I realized that everyone believes that life will go on for forever, convinced that they are immune, invincible, or that there would always be enough time to get things in order (ahead of any health problem arising too).

We may hope its true (that we are invincible or immune), but hoping is not a winning strategy: hoping for what is clearly not reality is delusional. To hope that a disease doesn’t take us down, hoping that what we are doing is enough, is gambling with our health and with our life.

I blog because…

I want to share that there is an alternative to hoping and to gambling.

I want to share the difference that I have found between those who do live healthy, stay and remain healthy, who continue to explore their peak potential, and experience peak performances across the spectrum of life.

I want to share that those who are health live differently, and how they live differently.  Those who are healthy work, exercise, eat and sleep just like everyone else, but how they do it is unlike anyone else; it is unequivocally different.

I want to share that what is packaged and sold to us on store shelves, in magazines, in pop-up ads online, and during commercial breaks is business. Business focused first and foremost on generating revenue and profit for shareholders. Whether their products or services are actually healthy, or yield health is secondary to quarterly sales.

I want to share that health is available to all, to anyone who wants to take their health into their own hands, to anyone willing to invest the time and effort and energy into themselves, into becoming healthy.

I want you to experience the difference in quality of life available to you. I am certain it will surpass anything you can imagine, as it has already surpassed anything I could have ever imagined.

Please visit the Blog Library for posts on topics ranging from biomechanics, on various aspects of training, on coaching, and for sport specific information.  Thank you for reading.

Skill Acquisition/Learning [5]

On the left is your brain when it has enough oxygen, like when you train aerobically.

On the right is your brain when it doesn’t have enough oxygen, like when you train anaerobically.

brain oxygenationGuess how much learning the brain on the right is capable of versus the brain on the left.

Exactly.  None.

When you are performing Hi Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), when you are in the red zone, when you exceed the capacity of your core muscles, when you can no longer breathe diaphragmatically, when you are working at a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) of at 8 or higher… you are training anaerobically.

RPE 2016-01How ‘smart’ do you think you are when your are training at this intensity, training HIIT?

Exactly. You aren’t. There isn’t enough oxygen available to the higher functioning/executive decision making parts of the brain for you to be smart (hence why any child diagnosed with attention deficits and/or learning impairments in either academic, athletic or performing art environments should have their breathing assessed).

How ‘smart’ do you think your decisions are when you are in such a state?

Exactly. They aren’t. How can they be when you aren’t thinking, when you are reacting, when you are in survival mode depending on flight-fight-freeze reflexes. Ever reflect back on a moment while training or competing and wonder to yourself what was going through your mind that made you… run a red light through an intersection, cross a road without checking twice, taking that double black diamond trail, doing that extra interval, that extra hill, that extra rep with extra weight? Now you know.

How ‘smart’ do you think you’re becoming at executing skills, at learning strategy, at refining awareness and performance evaluation, at coordinating patterns of movement to move with greater ease, with greater efficiency, with greater agility, balance, speed, strength, and with greater endurance?

Exactly. Not at all. You aren’t improving in any facet of the execution of sport specific technique in an anaerobic state.  You are resorting to hormonally induced surges of power to attempt to cause yourself to lift heavier weights, to run faster, to pedal harder, to last longer. And we call this… fitness? Fitness is not based on training the neuro-endocrine system to pump out more hormones while temporarily inducing a state of perceived stress. That’s blatant ignorance, all out stupidity, and not only is it unhealthy but it it risks causing cardiovascular accidents in the short term, and cardiovascular disease in the long term. If that’s our definition of fitness then we truly are walking around with blue brains (i.e. no oxygen reaching the brain).

HIIT is not training because you cannot and will not gain any skills, nor will you improve in the execution of any skill while performing HIIT.  HIIT is peaking for competition, that’s it. HIIT is last of the last bit of training, to push the needle just a bit into the red zone prior to competition. It is not a lifestyle, because it leads to lifestyle diseases.

If you want to improve in sport, its not about how much adrenalin you can force your adrenal glands to puke up mid workout by resorting to getting all psyched up, ramped up, or by how deep into beast mode you can go.

If you want to improve in sport, then its all about skill acquisition, and skill acquisition happens at low RPEs, at low intensity, where oxygen and blood are in abundant supply to the brain, muscles, all vital organs and when the conditions are non threatening ensuring that survival instincts are not triggered, when the athlete is able to oscillate between diffuse and focused mindsets, when learning, attempting, experimenting, and then evaluating, tuning, refining, and applying the lessons to be smarter are possible.

Smart training leads to a mentally nimble, physically flexible, and emotionally stable athlete who is able to evaluate moment by moment while training or competing all aspects of both their performance and that of their competitors leveraging all their skills simultaneously and consistently to deliver peak performance after peak performance. Smart training yields resilient, robust, dynamic, capable athletes who can translate their skill set from sport, to academics, to the arts, to business, leading a life that is as dynamic out of sport, as it is in sport.

Hard training leads to a hard body, hard muscles, a hard heart, hard arteries, hardened joints, a hard head, and an athlete who is hard fixed in their belief that every problem is a nail, and hitting those problems harder and harder with a hammer is the definition of training. In time, this athlete will suffer either a self inflicted injury, heart attack, stroke, breakdown, melt down or will simply blow up. Because of their hardness they are blind to see that they have done it to themselves, not because they are lacking in anything, but because they have hardened themselves to the point that they have become fragile, brittle, the exact opposite of what they wanted.

Pain and Stress [5]

Afraid to acknowledge and address the internal incongruencies which lead to our injuries, our illness and our diseases, we create false flags, create false positives and then conclude that we are in fact not only doing something about our health, but that we are in fact healthy.

What’s trending now in health & fitness?

  1. Hi Intensity Interval Training (e.g. CrossFit, Tabata, circuit training, cycling and running interval sessions)… because we have come to believe that health is obtained in neat little packets of working out for 10mins at a time at our maximum.
  2. Probiotics… because after you kill all the bacteria in your personal biome with hand sanitizer, body scrubs, shampoos, deodorants, and antibiotics, you need to replace them with probiotics.
  3. Higher fat content foods… because the research today is unequivocally correct, yet the research which stated the diametric opposite three decades ago is now undeniably wrong.
  4. And of course… some veg, right now beets are all the rage, also a leafy green with kelp replacing kale, and some form of supplement, minerals are key… acting as if these items were just released into grocery stores no different than Apple releasing its latest iPhone.

Hi Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is not healthy, end of discussion.  The research that links higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and higher rates of upper respiratory infections with HIIT is not new, it has just been conveniently wiped under the carpet.  In short, HIIT sells, so why would the fitness industry want to admit that despite the short term results, HIIT leads to nothing but illness in the long term.  Are there exceptions, absolutely, when used appropriately, by those of sufficient training, and when applied by experienced trainers and coaches, but that is the rare rare exception. With nary a trainer or coach having any practical understanding of human physiology or pathology, most see all ‘clients’ as nails, and apply the same hammer solution to all. When the first blow from the hammer doesn’t work, then clearly the second, third and fourth blows will make’em healthy. Besides, isn’t the mantra ‘no pain no gain’, ‘PR or ER’, right? So sold are we that HIIT is the solution that when professional athletes die of heart disease, retire due to heart rhythm abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, chronic injury and pain, when a masters athlete dies on the start line of an event, or when age group children ‘retire’ from sport at 14 or 15 years of age, we refuse to connect that one has anything to do with the other.

Probiotics would not be needed if we didn’t constantly sterilize ourselves and our environment with all the fresheners, cleansers, disinfectants, and antibacterials we use. Probiotics would not be needed if our food items were grown without being inundated with pesticides, herbicides, germicides and every other ‘cide’ know to mankind stripping our food of its nutritional content. Probiotics would not be needed if we didn’t incapacitate our immune systems with excessive HIIT that we can no longer fight off a simple cold causing us to rely on prescription medications – which kill bacteria indiscriminately – to sustain us. Probiotics would not be needed if we didn’t overwhelm ourselves with stress levels beyond our capabilities.  Probiotics would not be needed if we recovered between stresses, rested, recuperated, and slept sufficiently. Instead of doing what is healthy, we rather do something that looks healthy or is sold to us as healthy.

Low fat content created an entirely new product category and made the food industry into the behemoth that it is today. The “research” has never conclusively shown that saturated fat is in fact heart unhealthy.  No matter we will trust this new research just like the old research. Too bad that the French diet which derives as much as 40% of calories from fat, with as much as 16% being saturated fat was never considered healthy. Meanwhile the French are only second to the Japanese in terms of longevity. Instead what we picked up from the French was their habit of drinking wine which we are now learning is not as healthy as claimed to be. Yet another industry seeking to stretch reality to sell product and profit irrespective of the consequence on human health?  Wouldn’t be the first time, won’t be the last time.

kelpshakeAnd of course, there is always some food item proclaimed to be the ultimate detox, cleanse, healer, or miracle tonic that if you only sit in it, bathe in it, rub yourself with, and maybe on the odd occasion eat will do everything that everything else you are doing healthy hasn’t been able to do, ever.  Last year wasn’t it Acai berries, or Goji berries or was it blueberries. Grapefruit came and went, now its beets. Kale in every form imagineable including kale chips were or are the miracle cure, and now its kelp. Actually, now that I say kelp, wasn’t there a Spongebob Squarepants episode where Kelp shakes we’re all the rage, and doesn’t Mr Squarepants eat Kelpo cereal? Thought so…

kelpo cereal

We chase, and chase, and chase our tails believing that HIIT will give us the strength to endure stress, Kelpo, sorry kelp will give us the energy we need to hop and skip through our days, probiotics will restore our immunity by repopulating us with healthy bacteria, and now that research has set us straight… we can resume copious consumption of high fat food products now that we have been told they won’t harm us, and are in fact good for us.

Ever get the sense that we are being played with?  Toyed with? Chasing a red laser light no different than your cat and dog. Eat this, no eat that, no not that, that other thing we genetically modified to meet production and margin quotes and buried the data showing its link to cancer.

Meanwhile, we refuse to address the toxic relationships in our life, avoiding any discussion of the repressed anger which pops up more and more frequently, requires the Reboboam size of red wine bottle to be drowned and silenced, forget the anxiety that we feel each time we step on the scale, or the depression we sink into driving to work, when we fail to sustain the momentum of life, when everyone else has posted a superb weekend and we have nothing to share. Instead of rooting out our problems, we medicate ourselves with toxic relationships, toxic food, toxic exercise, toxic mental narratives and wonder why are we unhealthy?

We are so captured by the external appearance of health, that where health truly emanates from, bubbles up from, arises has been forgotten.  You do not put on health like a pair of pants, paint it on like putting on mascara, force it on the way we funnel our body into the sausage casings called support underwear or compression fitness apparel.

You want health, then you have to toss aside all pretense, and go after health as if you have no other priority.  In fact, is there any other priority? Perhaps cliche, but there is a saying: “When you have your health, you have everything.  When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.” Augusten Burroughs