Different and Same

The backstory

Six years ago I met a man and his son.  His son was eleven years old, wiry, and pretty funny. He was a normal kid. He had a prosthetic for his right leg.  He wrestled.  I trained them both together and have for the last 6 years.  They are awesome people.

 

I have worked with clients, and still do, with MS, Cerebral Palsy, one leg, no legs, and many other forms of human that have challenged and excited me.  My default, work them harder (as is necessary and often harder than they ever have) and treat them more like an athlete than they have ever been treated.  It empowers them, challenges me and everyone is happy.  The science of exercise and performance can be artful with a little creativity.  Blake, in this video, was no different.  He is a wrestler so he knows how to work hard but never harder than during sessions with his pops.

 

Earlier this summer they brought up hiking a 14er, one of Colorado’s 57 peaks over 14,000 feet. I had led many groups up one of the beginner peaks and was pumped to put together a training plan for them.  For six week we worked on hills for the up and the downs.

 

Built eccentric strength for the downhill and built on top of his fitness for the ups.
An early morning two days before Blake’s first day of his senior year in high school we hit the trailhead at 7 am.  By 9:15 we had summited.  He killed it.  I videoed a bunch of it and decided that the years of knowing and training him should be put into a short video.  I used what limited editing skills I had and put all my heart into the lyrics and narration.  Below is what came of it.   Hope you enjoy and if you were on the fence, you may now realize that everyone is an athlete, EVERYONE!

Winning the rough days

Goodness. It’s been a while! Things have been shifting over the past month and a half for me! This year, April brought exams, two unexpected injuries, and (after 5 years in London, Ontario) the reality of packing up my life into two big suitcases and moving home (permanently?) to Alberta! It’s both scary and exciting knowing that I won’t be returning to London in the fall, but rather, I’ll be embarking on a new adventure… as a Master’s student at the University of Alberta. (What?!?!)

 

Though I’m so ridiculously fortunate to have a fantastic family and job to return to, I always struggle a little bit when I move home — many of my friends from high school aren’t around anymore, so my summers are typically filled with work, running, and family. It’s honestly so wonderful, but it’s definitely a change of pace! During the school year I like to keep my schedule packed, but when I come home, things slow right down. For the past few summers, running has kept me busy after work, provided an outlet for me to release my extra energy, and given me something to focus on.

 

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My family is the bomb. I’m a hardcore fangirl of my fellow Frissell’s. <3

 

But this year, things are a little different. I’m struggling with a few injuries and adapting to some new stresses. It’s been a real mental challenge not being able to run lately — since that’s my usual release, I’ve got some pent up energy and stress!

 
So to help ward off negativity and frustration, I’ve identified a small list of daily personal goals that, when achieved, keep me feeling my best. These are the tiny things I need to check off each day in order to feel good — when I feel good, I’m more motivated, optimistic, joyful, focused, and more likely to make the choices I know are right for me!

 

 
In order to feel good each day, I need to

 

  1. Connect with nature — for me, this might be as simple as a 10 minute walk or watching a rainstorm from our deck. I just need to feel an intentional connection with the natural, outside world.
  2. Take care of my body — this might mean using it and/or resting it. Whether I’m sitting on the couch icing my leg, heading out for a tough workout, or doing some focused breathing before bed, I feel good engaging with and taking care of my body (and indirectly, my mind).
  3. Go to bed a little bit hungry — this one’s pretty specific, but I sleep noticeably better and wake up feeling much more energized when I go to bed with a bit of an empty stomach!
  4. Connect with family/friends — I’m a notorious over-thinker, so it’s crucial for me to get out of my head and connect with people I care about.

 

 

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I get to connect with nature every day at the cemetery. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to meet this little angel, Margo!

 

Super simple tasks, but they make a massive difference in my mental state! Perhaps your list looks similar, or maybe there’s no overlap. I challenge you to notice what your ‘feel good’ list is made up of, and write it down. Even if you’re injured, travelling, sick, or if your day just doesn’t go quite as planned, you can fall back on these simple things and turn even the roughest day into a win.

Today is a couch day

Earlier this week (despite knowing better) I did a workout that was too much for my body at the time.

 

I started thinking:
If I’d done that workout on a day that I was feeling better, it might have been okay.
If I’d gone just a little slower, it might have been okay.
If I’d warmed up a little better, it might have been okay.
Or, if I’d allowed myself some extra time for a more sufficient recovery after that workout, it might have been okay.
If I’d done any of these seemingly small things, who knows — I might have been feeling a lot better than I do now! Or, maybe not.

 

Unfortunately, the damage is done, and there’s nothing I can do to change that!
But I can choose to make smart decisions now.

 

Here’s what that looks like for me: instead of doing the hill workout I’d planned for today, I’m hanging out on the couch with some ice and a not-so-fun minor calf strain. The bright side is, it’s only minor! If I’d decided to push it and do those hills today…. well, that would be a different story! So I’m studying, watching Gilmore Girls, doing some light stretching/core work, and decorating cookies with friends!

 

It was difficult deciding to stay on the couch this morning, since my agenda had a workout in mind — and I find it tough to stray from that!

 

As tempting as it is to use my body, I know that pushing it today means more pain tomorrow. So, after a short pity party, I came to terms with the fact that the couch will be my friend this weekend, and that’s okay! I’ll play it by ear, and hopefully I’ll be doing some cross training in a couple days.

 

I’m by no means an expert at running. It teaches me something new about my body, my limits, and my potential every week! But I think, regardless of your experience with the sport, there’s always that challenge of finding the boundary between progress and injury. To improve, you have to explore your limits and push yourself. But pushing too far can lead to injury and set back.

 

I don’t know the secret to avoiding injury entirely (CLEARLY), but I think a flexible mindset is a massive asset if injury does sneak in! For me, this means understanding that the past is out of my control, but that the choices I make in terms of recovery are entirely in my hands (regardless of what my training schedule had planned for the coming week).

 


Ultimately, we all have to be champions of our own bodies. We have to work with them, and make decisions that are best for them. Sometimes that means challenging our bodies, and sometimes it means resting them. But in either case, what the body needs may not match up with what the mind wants, and that can be challenging!

**The purpose of this post is simply to share my experience with a minor injury — something we all go through at one point or another! Even though these injuries aren’t that a big of a deal, injuries of any kind are hard to ignore and can be really discouraging! My injury is nothing to complain about in the big scheme of things, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t frustrate me — and I think others have been in a similar boat!

STSS 6: Leptin — The Satiety Hormone

 

Leptin is a neat little hormone that tells us when we’ve had enough to eat.

If there’s a hormone for this, why do we often tend to overeat?

Note: While this video focuses on leptin, other players (ie: hormones like orexin and ghrelin) also influence appetite. It’s important to remember that the body is incredibly complex, and there are always a number of factors at play!


It should also be noted that the general process discussed in this video is not as instantaneous as I make it out to be! The amount of leptin released is directly proportional to the amount of body fat that an individual has — and that body fat does not increase instantaneously when you eat 3 mini eggs. On the whole, an individual with more body fat will have higher levels of leptin in their circulation than an individual with less body fat. 

 

Walking on [an excessive amount of] sunshine

I’d like to share a few boring, self-centred facts with you:

 

Fact 1: This past summer, I spent tons of time soaking up the sun. My sister and I spent several weeks wandering around Europe, and I spent the remaining summer months doing maintenance at a cemetery (I know, I know. Dream job, right??).
So yes. Lots of time in the sun.

 

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Sending our love back home from Porto, Portugal!

 

Fact 2: Throughout the summer, I was taking a multivitamin. I’ll admit, I’m not the most consistent person when it comes to taking vitamins, but I was trying to remember to take the recommended dosage of one a day.

 

Fact 3: On occasion, I was also taking a calcium gummy vitamin. As a woman and a runner, I know calcium and vitamin D are of particular importance for keeping my bones healthy. As a person in general, I was pretty excited that these vitamins were tasty gummies (because let’s be real, they’re the best kind), so that was a bonus. Since calcium and vitamin D work in tandem, these calcium vitamins also contained vitamin D. Like I mentioned, I only took these on occasion; the recommended dosage was 2 gummies a day, and I was maybe having 2-3 a week.

 

 
Ohhhhkay Kalli. Enough with the random, insignificant outdoor/vitamin facts. Please get to the point.  

 

 
I’m getting there!
So in what seemed like unrelated news at the time, I ended up getting very sick in July. At first, I thought it might be the flu. The nausea came on quickly — one minute I was driving down the highway, scream singing (You know. The kind of terrible, ridiculously loud singing you do when you’re alone in the car?), and the next, I was crumpled over the wheel due to intensely painful nausea. Seriously. I just wanted to pull over, curl up in a ball, and cry! I spent that night on the bathroom floor, and it was, of course, less than fun. To my relief, this whole episode only lasted about 15 hours, and I was back to my regular self by the morning.

 

I was glad it was over, but I was puzzled. No one around me had been sick, so it didn’t seem likely that it had been the flu. I also had some weird symptoms that I’d never experienced with a flu in the past. Maybe it was food poisoning? I decided that it must have been something I’d eaten and I left it at that.

 

Unfortunately, two weeks later, the exact same thing happened!
Same symptoms, not fun.
So I started to get a little bit worried about this. I must have done something, eaten something, changed something… but I couldn’t think of anything out of place in my diet or routine!

 

As it turns out, I had overdosed on vitamin D.

 

If you’re thinking it seems a little bit weird that simply spending time outside and taking a few vitamins (less than the recommended dose, in fact) would result this, you’re probably right. In this case, there was more going on….

 

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I don’t have a photo of myself working at the cemetery, but this is probably a pretty accurate depiction.

 

On top of the 8+ hours/day spent in the sun and the multivitamin I was taking, I found out that that seemingly harmless gummy vitamin had been recalled that same week. Apparently the gummies had more than 4x the tolerable amount of vitamin D in them.
Not 4x the recommended amount… 4x the tolerable amount!

 

Needless to say, those vitamins met the trash can in a hurry.

 

There’s no big lesson here. It was a fluke and could have happened to anyone. How was I to know that those innocent little gummy vitamins were actually working against me?

 

So why am I writing about this…
Well, first off, it’s just kind of a ridiculous story! I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t betting that there would be a dark side to a tasty little gummy!

 

If anything, I suppose it serves as a somewhat violent reminder that too much of a good thing might turn into a really bad, not-so-fun thing. As athletes focused on improvement, I think we can easily become obsessed with ‘good things,’ forgetting that moderation is healthy and perfection is… impossible. Overtraining can lead to injury, excessive diet restriction/control can lead to health issues and/or eating disorders, etc. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that too much of the ‘Happy’ vitamin can leave you feeling much less than happy!


More from this Author

Winning the rough days

Goodness. It’s been a while! Things have been shifting over the past month and a half for me! This year, April brought exams, two unexpected injuries, and (after 5 years in London, Ontario) the reality of packing up my life into two big suitcases and moving home (permanently?) to Alberta! It’s both scary and exciting […]

Read More

Today is a couch day

Earlier this week (despite knowing better) I did a workout that was too much for my body at the time.   I started thinking: If I’d done that workout on a day that I was feeling better, it might have been okay. If I’d gone just a little slower, it might have been okay. If […]

Read More

STSS 6: Leptin -- The Satiety Hormone

  Leptin is a neat little hormone that tells us when we’ve had enough to eat. If there’s a hormone for this, why do we often tend to overeat? Note: While this video focuses on leptin, other players (ie: hormones like orexin and ghrelin) also influence appetite. It’s important to remember that the body is […]

Read More

Walking on [an excessive amount of] sunshine

I’d like to share a few boring, self-centred facts with you:   Fact 1: This past summer, I spent tons of time soaking up the sun. My sister and I spent several weeks wandering around Europe, and I spent the remaining summer months doing maintenance at a cemetery (I know, I know. Dream job, right??). […]

Read More

Achilles Pain: Three to do’s, one not to do.

Let’s talk about nagging chronic injuries like achilles pain.

As a lifelong Exercise Physiologist/Trainer/Coach/”whatever you wanna call me” I have helped athletes and recreational athletes alike get over common ailments with basic regimens that are universally prescribed.
 
Often, after they go through physical therapy and they are ready to move on and often as a preventative measure for athletes in redundant sports, like running.
 
In any case, until I experience some of these nagging issues I can never feel 100% confident that the exercises are working.  So, you must understand the joy I had after dealing with ITBS ( iliotibial band syndrome) for 4 months a few years ago and being able to kick it with what I was using to help others kick it for good.  So now, in the spring before running the trails of Colorado will be a weekly occurrence, I have some achilles pain that I need to treat.
 
The main causes are increased load or volume, bio-mechanic (efficient movement)  issues, tight calves and muscles of the lower leg.  There are many other things like glute weakness, ankle mobility, and nutritional deficiencies but let’s deal with what we assume is the issue for this athlete (myself).
 
I get to guinea pig myself for my future clients and so far, it’s working with only three additions and one omission.

Three things I am doing to treat for now:

  1. Heel drops:  From the top of a calf raise on a step or other raised surface (plantar flexion) slowly drop your heels as low as you can.  This mimics and trains the eccentric contraction that may not be as efficient or powerful as needed to support the lower leg, ending in this pain in the achilles.  3 sets of 15-20 per day.  It burns (muscle burn) a bit but feels really good. Excessive pain and you should stop, hopefully obviously.
  2. Manual massage and foam rolling the calves:  Both of these serve to loosen the calf at the belly of the muscle.  This will and should take some of the tension off the achilles.  The foam rolling feels good but I think I am getting the most bang for my buck from manual massage.  Yep, I’m massage my calves and lower legs for 10-15 minutes a day.
  3. Ice:  Especially with obvious inflammation.  Ice over drugs as many of the orals you take could eliminate blood flow to area, not good.  I hate icing but it seems to be helping.

One thing I am dropping for at least a month:

  1. Basketball:  The sport is still fun for me but I am noticing major inflammation from playing.  I have hypothesized it is more from the shoes, they are digging into the achilles, than the movement but I want to back off to make sure.

Notes:

  • As long as it doesn’t get worse, I’ll keep running.  When it worsens, I will back off and cross train.  Usually a decent model if you treat everything to get better in theory the nagging issue should resolve.  It’s worked with many of my clients and my past injuries.  That blood flow is a huge benefit so keep moving.  And, there are plenty of things to omit but basketball is mine for now.
  • Get a legit diagnosis if this is new to you.  These tips are for athletes that are somewhat experienced and typically won’t stop for anything anyway.
  • A little rest now is better than a lot of forced rest later. Be smart and don’t turn it into something bigger.
  • Lastly, as someone with my M.S. in exercise physiology, I always refer outside my scope.  If I don’t know something for fact, it’s time for a real diagnosis from an ortho or PT.  Some of my pals in the industry. Good coaches and trainers work with these pro’s, not in spite of them.  Goes both ways.

What chronic issues have you had?  What worked with your achilles pain?  Let’s talk.  For now, I need to go ice….damnit.


AOF Signature BeanieScott Jones is the founder of Athlete On Fire and still trains a handful of clients one on one in his hometown in Colorado and virtually. Athlete On Fire was founded to inspire 1000’s every hour instead of just one every hour! Reach out, always. scott (at) athleteonfire (dot) com

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Acknowledging the Sneaky Things: A Lesson on the Knee Joint

The body has many sly little processes that it carries out everyday — processes that are crucial to our health, but they don’t draw a lot of attention to themselves. We probably don’t even know they’re happening! To give an example, I’ll share a little knee anatomy lesson from a class I had last semester. Hopefully it might help you to question what silent things could be going on in your body right now, and to better understand the importance of these sneaky, highly specific processes that take place in your body every day!

 

The knee joint is, of course, a very mobile joint. Specifically, it’s a ‘synovial joint’: a type of freely moveable joint contained inside a ‘joint capsule.’ Inside the knee capsule, there are two key components: menisci, and synovial fluid.

 

 

1) You’ve probably heard of the menisci before — these are essentially two pads of cartilage that provide cushioning between your femur (thigh bone) and your tibia (weight-bearing bone in your lower leg). They’re impressive shock absorbers (obviously essential while walking, running, jumping, etc).

 

2) Synovial fluid is a thick fluid with a couple of jobs. It a) lubricates the joint and b) provides nourishment to keep the menisci healthy so they can continue to be the wonderful shock absorbers that they are.

 

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Now that we know the components, here’s the cool part.
When there’s no pressure on the joint, the knee takes a break to replenish itself. The menisci act like sponges, sucking up the synovial fluid for nourishment. But when the joint is forced to take on some stress (like when we stand up), these ‘sponges’ release the synovial fluid into the joint cavity so it can act as a lubricant, rather than a nourishing agent. In the absence of lubrication, there’s friction. Not something we want!

 

Let’s put this into some context. Imagine jumping those well-nourished, but non-lubricated knee joints out of bed and straight into a hard workout. Ouchies! Warming up before a workout gives your knee joint some time to get that fluid moving again so it can properly lubricate the joint. Of course, we don’t see that, and we don’t immediately feel it, so, like so many other processes in our bodies, it’s easy to ignore.

 

 

Challenge: Be kind to your body! Work with it, not against it. Do yourself a favour and do your warm up drills! 

 

Yes, there’s value in having the mental strength to carry out a challenging workout… but there’s equal (or more) value in having the mental strength to back off of a workout/training plan when you know it’s best for your body.

 

 

 

 

STSS 5: Macronutrients & The Role of Glucose

 

Carbs, fats, and proteins. Mmmm!

 

How does your body use the food you consume? How does it take what you eat and turn that into running, jumping, swimming, and thinking?

The 8 Reasons You Should Train For More Than Your Health

Everyone knows how important it is to work out, stay in shape, be healthy, lose weight.

Tone up, trim down. Whatever terminology you use doesn’t really matter.

And, for somewhere like Athlete On Fire that truly believes that everyone is an athlete even if it is buried deep down, we would never use that terminology. You should be moving your body for far better reasons.  You should be training for something bigger.

Those things that the industry and magazines and pop culture use for you should be thrown out the window because if you train for something more than just your health, the byproduct will be what you have been looking for all along.

The why…

This thought is not new but it has been more and more apparent.  I have been getting in front of people fairly often lately and speaking on health and fitness, my career path, running efficiency, and goals.  I’ve had these ideas about training for things being the glue that keeps people accountable forever.  It’s how I work with clients, reverse engineering their goals from a specific goal to where they are today and moving forward. I wanted to know how much experience I really had.  12,000 sessions. At the low end I had put my clients and athletes through at least 12,000 one on one sessions.  The ones that failed.  They were the ones that came in and slogged.

They only thought about what their doctor told them they had to do “or else”.

Lose 50 lbs. or your blood pressure will be out of control.

I need to see you BMI under 25.

You are at risk for osteoporosis, get to the gym.

What?  Well those are all important but have you ever been more bored or scared in your life.  The stress alone would paralyze the most well intentioned.

These are just the extreme cases.  If you are reading you know what it feels like to desperately want to lose the extra belly fat, or finally build some definition in your arms.  These aren’t goals.  They are byproducts of an active, goal filled life.

Pretty early on, I started attaching big goals to my clients.  As long as they were healthy enough to reach for a goal, I would force them to find one.  These are typically people who would never see themselves as athletes to “train” for something.

Here are some of the goals they came up with:

  • Do an Ironman
  • Hike up a 14er
  • Run a half marathon
  • Run a 5k
  • Do a sprint triathlon
  • Train to play in a hockey league
  • Do a pullup

There are a tons of others but they weren’t all “events”.  Some were just personal goals they really wanted to be able to do.

The recent inspiration…

Two women I have been working with are probably the biggest inspiration for this post and podcast.  In one day last week I had both of them, one with cerebral palsy and mastocytosis, the other with MS and a recent 150 lb weight loss, sign up for events.  The ramp up to a stable place where signing up for something was reasonable was over.  They threw their hat in the ring and now, I have no doubt, will learn more about themselves then they ever thought possible.

Now for you…

So what are you training for?  Why?

Don’t go slog on a treadmill.  Train for a 5k.

Don’t lose weight. Get more efficient climbing that wall at the obstacle course race you just signed up for.

Don’t stress about your fitness, have fun moving.

The byproduct of a life of moving is a life worth living.  In my humble opinion!

And yes, there are 8 reasons we put together in the podcast.  You can listen to it below but to honor the title, I’ll list them here:

  1. Your training has meaning
  2. You coach or training plan has purpose
  3. It’s measurable
  4. You learn new skills
  5. You get out of your comfort zone
  6. There is no guarantee of success
  7. The accountability is built in
  8. It’s more FUN

The audio (AOF:152) dives a bit more into every one of these.  Get out there and train!


Everyone truly is an athlete.

Everyone truly is an athlete.

Scott Jones is the founder of Athlete On Fire and still trains a handful of clients one on one in his hometown in Colorado and virtually. Athlete On Fire was founded to inspire 1000’s every hour instead of just one every hour! Reach out, always. scott (at) athleteonfire (dot) com

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When in doubt move….more than your body.

We have all been there.  Doubt creeps in.  Should I be here?  Doing this?
Have I wasted the last 5 years, months, weeks, hours doing this thing?  There are so many others doing it so well already, why should I even try.
 
It could be for a sport, a business, or a relationship.  The thought that we have invested time that we will never get back is scary.  This singular thought has paralyzed us often.  And it’s funny.  The fear of losing time to a thing causes us to freeze up and inevitably lose more of that time.
 
This website and podcast has created that doubt more than once.  Actually, more than 20 times.  Daily sometimes.  The passion that this thing that was created from the heart doesn’t fade but the confidence that it will turn into my vision does. It happens with runners.  It happens with athletes from every sport.  The doubt at the free throw line.  The lost confidence in a hitter in a slump.
 
Businesses change and pivot and figure it out. So do athletes.
 
Every day I wake up I know of 5 things that could make Athlete On Fire better.  The resources and media, the angles I haven’t taken yet. Marketing in certain ways.  I’ve been handcuffed from the fear of NOT failure.  It’s the fear of success.  This post will address this fear from this point on in less words than you have already read.  The fear of failure isn’t the thing.  The fear of SUCCESS is rooted in the subconscious.
 
Really think.   The fear of success might look like some of these thoughts, buried deep.

The Fear Of:

  • Being different(or seeming different) than family and friends you’ve been connected to forever.
  • The attention you just aren’t comfortable with for doing something great.
  • The work that comes with success.  Once you have something successful, it needs your attention.
  • Knowing you’ll have to lead, you have to lead as you grow.
  • Getting comfortable with the work. If you haven’t made it, it’s probably because the work hasn’t been done yet.

Here is the fix.

Move.

Write an article.

Sharing your thoughts on how to make it helps yourself and hopefully, others.

Do that thing that scares the hell out of you.

Sign up for a race.

Produce some videos.  The things in your gut you’ve wanted to do every day that you KNOW will help. Do them.

And do the small things.

They build your confidence by building a base of skill and character. Then again, you can just do what you have always done, settle in and be ordinary.  You ALWAYS have a choice.

 


When not trying to get others to move, Scott is moving with his young family, ideally in the mountains.

When not trying to get others to move, Scott is moving with his young family, ideally in the mountains.

Scott founded Athlete On Fire and knows a thing or two about getting people to move. With over 12,000 training sessions under his belt with people from all walks you get to see the fear of success and failure. This piece was an observation as much as a self reflection everyone should go through occasionally.