Thursday, August 31, 2017

Random Thoughts From Unicorns to Invisible Casts

I was listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast with Andy Galpin and since then a few ideas I had been thinking about, I'm thinking about more.  Heres a few.

The Fallacy of The Unicorn
Unicorns are by definitions, mythical animals that despite my 5 year olds deep desire, don't exist.  Yet many of us in the fitness/health field and a lot of our patients or athletes can fall for the unicorn.  The unicorn is something that is the panacea, the answer.  The One Thing.  When I was in high school, I thought if I found the "perfect" workout plan I'd be sure to get bigger/faster.  I was up for the latest supplement that was sure to put all the muscle on.

Even today, I'll find myself slipping into this train of thinking.  Wow, beet root supplement increased the performance by 6% on the bike.  I MUST HAVE!  But then I calm down and I think it through. Usually it goes something like this, hmm...I didn't even eat any vegetables today, lets hold off on the 50 dollar beets.  

The Unicorns strength is that it can be used to be that one thing you need that is sure to put you over the top.  It can be almost anything.  Oh, If I go Keto, I'm sure to be (insert superlatives)  If I do this magic exercise I'll never strain my muscle again.  This supplement will make me lose all the weight I've ever wanted.  

Just remember, Unicorns don't exist the next time you start getting super geeked for...

Adapting or Optimizing
While the concept isn't new, how I've thought about it has changed since the podcast.  Adapting means your training session for that day is designed to adapt to something.  Perhaps it's learning to do a harder workout with less carbs, less sleep, or even less water.  Optimizing is making things as perfect as possible to create the best environment to perform your best for that particular workout on that particular day.  Now I find myself deliberately doing both.  Adapt to get better, optimize to express your better-ness.  

Sticking with the adapt and optimize theme, Asker Jeukendrup puts out some great information.  This article "Intestinal Absorption," was about getting your body used to using carbs for a race.  You train your stomach/guts to use carbs.  If you go to long without carbs, you are teaching yourself to run on fats, which is great if you don't plan on optimizing race day.  But, if you do, start increasing your carb intake 3 days prior to your race.  It's essentially a solid article pointing us to the concept of Metabolic Flexibility.  

How To Eat
Most people that aren't in a diseased state benefit from metabolic flexibility.  Mike T Nelson is one of the leading authorities on this, if you want to dive deep into this.  Metabolic flexibility is teaching the body to run on carbs and fats.  Training in both environments.  Getting the body capable of thriving in multiple conditions.  One of the points made in the mentioned podcast was that you would never say this is the one way I'm going to train for all my goals for the rest of my life.  How boring.  Why do we do this with nutrition?  

Patient Dialogue 
As a clinician/manual therapists I've had a few incidences when the patient didn't need manual therapy, but a friend that called them out on their misguided notions.  This takes tact, because you run a good chance of losing the patient.  I don't do it often, but every now and then I just feel like I have to.  My record in these instances aren't good.   

My mentor once told me whatever you are, be that, every day.  Be consistent.  If your ornery, be that, if your quite, be that.  If your boisterous, be that.  But, don't be someone new every day.  I've always tried to do that.  He also said, you don't get to have bad days.  People are paying you to help them, not listen to your struggles, or feel your negativity.  Every now and then I've found myself losing my patience, I always feel like I've let him down, when that happens.  Be better.  

Patients that are in the most pain, are also usually the most scared.  I always try to remember that.  The ones that are the most scared are the ones that had been in pain, got better and then for some reason it came back again.  Falls, time, accident, you name it.  One of the reasons, I always try to get my patients to view themselves as athletes, is because everyone knows athletes have highs and lows, but you wake up and try to get better and better isn't usually a straight line.  

Recently a patient of mine got diagnosed with stomach cancer.  It's never a great day when this news hits your ears.  He was being prepped for chemotherapy and was advised to take a protein shake to try to mitigate the muscle loss.  He asked what to take and was given something.  My patient did their own research and realized it was complete garbage and asked if I could recommend something better.  Of course.  You have to control what you get to control.  Don't leave your health to someone else. 

So where do you go for information?  This day and age, we are inundated with so much stuff.  It's hard to filter when you are not trained.   I can tell you the future of research is in supporting people you find doing awesome stuff and supporting them.  Patreon is a way of crowd funding people you want to help out.  I currently support a few people, Dr. Ben House a functional medical doc that consistently writes outstanding information.   Dr Rhonda Patrick that puts on very informational videos and podcast and Bill Lagakos that writes on health topics I have an interest in.  Patreon is a way of basically saying your doing great work keep it up and hopefully enough people support you to keep it going full time.  

This past year I've gained a new found appreciation for the endurance athletes mental game.  To be honest, I've always known the life of an endurance athlete was hard just from the amount of lonely hours practicing their sport.  Endurance often comes down to willing to suffer.  Pushing the brains impulse to let up.  Until recently I've never been "fit enough" to race though.   Recently, I've gained enough of an aerobic base where I can actually worry about racing instead of just riding.  All of a sudden a new found mental game is being played that I never had to worry about before.  Strategy, boredom, watching the competitors, going with racers, letting racers go, hydration, nutrition.  I found myself mentally tired half way into a race.  I found myself coasting instead of racing, even though my legs could go faster.  It was a very interesting realization.  Always be racing...

In this video Kobe talks about losing focus in a game in high school and losing the game and the next day realizing he was letting his mind wander in Geometry class, just like he let his mind wander when he lost that game.  So teaching himself to focus in geometry was actually teaching him to stay focused, which was training him to be a better basketball player. Great lesson from one of the all time greats.

Katie Bowman writes a lot about living in a more natural state and that we are often limited in our health of our human bodies by the "casts" we have built into our lives.  If we don't do things that help off set the casts, then we are slowly becoming less healthy as a human.  Often the casts are so inundated with our life, that we don't even think of them as "blocking," our health.  They are invisible. Shoes are a cast for the feet, go barefoot.  Chairs are casts for the hips, get down on the floor.  Modern stuff (computers, phones, walls) are casts for the eyes, focus far away through out the day.  Cars are casts for the heart.  Walk more.  In a way, casts can be quite a few things, sometimes its beneficial to do things the hard way to wake up our physiology to provide a different stimulus.  

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Commitment Can Be That One "Thing"

I'm a big fan of bike riding.  I can't actually remember a time when I couldn't ride my bike.  One of my first memories as a kid is my older brother taking my training wheels off and telling me I didn't need them.  Ever since, biking has been a part of my active lifestyle.  This last year has brought not only more time on my bike, but a little more commitment to training and getting more aerobically fit.

It's probably not coincidental that this was the first Tour de France I had payed attention to since Lance did his thing, then Floyd did his thing and on and on and on.  This years Tour was highly entertaining and by way of watching more I ended up reading a book about cycling by Phil Gaimon called "Pro Cycling on $10 A Day."

It was a really enjoyable read and I learned quite a bit about the subculture, the lack of money, the struggle and sacrifices that pro cyclists deal with daily.  It was far from my notion of signing a pro contract with a healthy salary.  It was more like the namesake.  I highly recommend the read as his sarcasm and literary wit comes through.

There was a page and half of writing that really resonated with me in terms of key principles.  In this one section of the book Phil describes future Cyclocross National Champion Jeremy Powers coming to see where Phil was living.  Jeremy was described as angry that his friend was not living like a pro athlete should.  "What is this?  You don't have any food.  All you eat is deli meat, sandwiches and rice cakes.  You've got to eat real food!  You don't live like an athlete!  

"You can sit here and half ass this thing, and you'll always make $20,000 a year, or you could do it right, invest in yourself, and make 10 times that.  You know you have the talent, so stop being scared!"

Phil goes on to say that it finally made sense to kick in the last 1% of commitment, in his own words..."otherwise, my sacrifices would be for nothing."

"I turned the thermostat up, bought a few bags of organic groceries, and made a weekly massage appointment.  I treated every training ride like a race, timing my breakfast to maximize my energy, with a recovery meal when I finished and as much sleep as I could get. ...If I was going to be a pro athlete, it was time to embrace it."

Those few pages speak volumes to what I think is missing in a lot of athletes lives, but even going further what is missing in a lot of peoples lives.  That 1%.  A lot of time it might be embracing what we don't like or think is that important.  Perhaps it is your cool down, you may have heard of its importance but have never paid much attention to it.  Perhaps it was sleep, one more 30 min late night talkshow won't hurt will it?  My doctor told me to walk, but walking can't really be that beneficial right? Perhaps it is the boring aerobic rowing class that your coach tells you would benefit you.  Being more aerobically fit will help out a lot with your recovery in your sport, but it meets at 6am on a Saturday and that means choosing it over a late Friday night.

Committing to the 1% will always mean different things to different people.  Whatever it is, I hope you learn to embrace it.