The Weekend Warrior Syndrome

I recently had a very candid conversation with one of my rehabilitation colleagues who expressed irritation, and rightfully so, at the attitude of some clients who regularly exercise and are at the same time experiencing pain and/or discomfort with their current program and activities of daily living. I will share my contribution to the conversation…

This is for all of the “weekend warriors,” or “regular exercisers” out there.   Just because you regularly go to the gym “x” times per week to see a “trainer”, take regular Pilates or Bar classes, play games in CrossFit on a daily basis, etc., does not mean that you know how to properly exercise, strengthen, or condition…anything.

As I am fond of saying, context is everything, so allow me to provide some. As a Rehabilitation and Health Consultant I see many people for various pain issues. Many of these people have rather significant pathologies in various parts of the body, most notably the cervical and lumbar spines. Many of these people have also failed to achieve results through standard approaches to their issue(s). After performing a rather thorough and comprehensive assessment, I am in a position to create a comprehensive program that will give my client what is needed to overcome the given pain syndrome(s) that plagues them. In most cases, these individuals are “Weekend Warriors” and have some sort of regular “exercise” routine that they are currently, or were at one time, engaged in.

A key point here is that there is no correlation between the consistency with which someone participates in regular exercise and the effectiveness of what they are doing. While I applaud just about any effort to avoid being the average American whose a$$ is only exercised when moving from the couch to the fridge, one must understand that there actually is a science (and an art) to exercise Program Design. How does the outcome of what you are doing match the objective? This is true from the rehabilitation stages all the way through the strength and conditioning of an elite athlete.

When someone who has studied these things designs a program to bring about a specific outcome, it pays to listen to what they say. What stretches, mobilizations, movements, and exercises go into a program have rhyme and reason. The acute exercise variables that are prescribed (sets, reps, tempo, rest interval, etc.) are selected to bring about a very specific result. This means that randomly throwing in one of your favorite exercises during the program is not going to help you. This means that only performing your corrective stretches and/or mobilizations when you feel like it and in no particular order is not going to help you.

Just because you are doing something regularly does not mean that it is effective. For instance, one can regularly engage in urinating on a forest fire. This, no matter how regularly it is performed or well intended the act, is completely ineffective and useless.

In many cases, it is not the individual’s fault. S/he is simply ignorant and does not know what s/he does not know. The issue here is that when it comes to exercise and movement, what you don’t know (or what your “trainer” doesn’t know) can actually hurt you long-term.

I’ve had clients bring in copies of their workout routines designed by Trainer So-and-So and the routine is a series of nonsensical exercises in random order designed to basically just kick the s#!^ out of the client.  Anyone can do that.  Anyone can make someone tired and sweaty, but tired and sweaty does not always equal being effective!  I have seen the same scenario all the way up at the professional and Olympic sport level. This is a widespread issue with no end in sight.

Never mind the fact that the client or athlete has chronic low back pain, a knee issue, and a left hand that goes numb and starts to feel like it is being set on fire when performing any overhead work (shoulder press, pull downs, etc.). These types of “routines” are executed 3,4, and sometimes 5 days a week with a bunch of cardio stuff mixed in. Most of the programs that I have seen appear to be designed by someone who suffers from a severe blood sugar regulation and energy production issues (what the average person would refer to as an attention deficit disorder).

I used to spend a considerable amount of time and energy explaining to my clients why the training program from Jo-Blow Trainer is NOT helping and in fact hurting them. Now I simply ask one straight-to-the-point question, and the conversation sounds something like this…

Client: “Oh, I know how to exercise. I see a trainer two times a week for weights and I do some cardio on my off days, and sometimes some more weights too.”

Me: “How long has all of this been going on?”

Client: “Oh, about two and a half years or so.”

Me: “How’s that training program working for you?”
[The answer usually highlights the complete disconnect that the average person has with their body and how it works.]

Client: “Well, it’s working fine because I’ve lost some weight and I really sweat a lot when I train so…it must be doing something to help me.”

Me: “Yes, okay…so how does your back, knee, neck, and arm feel?”

Client: “I mean they hurt all the time but I just push through it to get a good workout and my trainer makes sure I don’t do anything to hurt myself.”

I will give you time to read that answer again and let the utter ridiculousness of it sink in a bit more.

Me: “So what you are saying is…you have what I call “weekend warrior syndrome.” You love to exercise, but all of the exercise that you love to do is not in your best interest for overcoming your pain syndrome at the current time, so you are still in pain…and it’s getting worse.  Are you familiar with the definition of insanity?”

Movement and exercise can have very beneficial or devastating effects on the body. Using and performing the right movement at the right time can help unlock the body’s natural healing properties. Using or performing movements incorrectly, or at the wrong time, or with an improper frequency (how often the movement is performed) will create altered mechanics, dysfunction, and pain in the neuromusculoskeletal system…period.  Just because your “trainer” says you should do the movement/exercise, or you do that exercise because you really “feel it” does not necessarily mean that it is the right movement/exercise for you.

How do you know if you are performing the right movement/exercise program for your body’s needs? Simple…have your posture, joint range of motion, joint play, and movement mechanics assessed by someone trained to do so. Many individuals can help here – well-trained Physical or Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths (European or Canadian preferably), Kinesiologists, etc. can all assess these things with great precision. Keep in mind though that the letters behind someone’s name do not guarantee competency.

The trick is finding someone who understands exercise and exercise program design/periodization from both a rehabilitation and a strength and conditioning perspective. Or perhaps you have a team of professionals who are open-minded enough to not try to be an expert in everyone else’s field that communicate with one another for your benefit. Such individuals can analyze your body, movement, and your current training routine. Based on those findings, a properly designed and periodized training program can be implemented that will improve mechanics and function and foster long-term musculoskeletal health. This is of particular importance if you experience any pain before, during, or after training.
Take home message…assume nothing when it comes to movement, particularly if you are in pain. Seek help from the appropriate movement professional(s) and listen to the expertise and advice for which you are paying.


Rehabilitation and Exercise Thoughts…

I don’t post about this much, but I am very active in the rehabilitation and corrective exercise field. I spend several days a week mostly helping individuals overcome chronic neck pain, back pain, and headaches. Currently, my practice is mobile and I see clients in the Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and Mandeville areas.

One thing that continuously shows up in my clients with these issues (and others) is that they all want to rush to start “exercising.” And by “exercising” they are usually thinking of the typical stuff that goes on in a commercial gym, programs seen in a magazine, or some of the nonsensical circus acts that pass for exercise programs seen on television. Most of this stems from a desire to lose weight (in many cases) which is born out of the consciousness that beating one’s self nearly to death with “exercise” is the only way to lose said weight.

Another potential reason for the rush to exercise is that many of my clients have already been “through the ringer” with traditional approaches to eliminating their pain – massage therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic work, acupuncture, and on and on. When all of those modalities fail to produce the desired result (elimination of pain), the individual is left feeling that “exercise” may be the only way to solve the problem.

Here’s the thing…

People could benefit from applying one of Stephen Covey’s habits of being highly effective…putting first things first.

If you have what I call a “mechanical threat” you need to get that taken care of FIRST. If you currently are experiencing pain, it is to your benefit to find someone (such as yours truly) who can help you identify why you are experiencing pain, and then guide you through the steps you need to take to eliminate your pain. Here’s a really quick tip – where you are hurting is very rarely where your actual problem is! In other words, your low back pain may not actually be coming from your low back – it may be coming from your foot, your neck, or maybe even your jaw and cranium.

Once you are pain free, then you need someone (again, such as yours truly) to design and properly periodize an exercise program based on your needs analysis and goals. Trying to exercise through pain is a lot like trying to help by pissing on a forest fire. It may seem like a good idea, but it won’t help much, and the fire (your pain) will continue to rage out of control despite your best efforts.

I often hear people say, “I just want to get back to where I was before I had all this pain.” My response is always the same…”No you don’t!” If you get back to where you were before you were experiencing pain, you set yourself up to be back in the same position you are in currently – experiencing and dealing with pain. You must strive to correct things to the point where you surpass where you were prior to pain so that when you take your body back into that same environment, injury potential is slim to nil and you can continue to do all of the things you love to do pain-free.

Some of you might be saying, “Easy for you to say, you’ve never been injured or in pain.” Not true. I have had several injuries in my life that have required extensive rehabilitation prior to returning to training the way I want to. I am actually currently dealing with that. I have a right shoulder issue involving a 17 year old injury (Type II separation of my right AC joint) in addition to a partial rotator cuff tear. This has required that I change quite a bit in my own training program(s). As I have done before, I will do what is necessary to overcome the injury and return to the type of training I love to do. But when I do so, I will be more structurally sound and there will be no issue of concern.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing pain and having a difficult time overcoming that pain, feel free to contact me or be sure to find someone to properly assess your musculoskeletal system for somatic dysfunction as well as your movement mechanics.

Ask Yourself if Brandon J. Alleman is Right for YOU

I have been very active in the health, fitness, and rehabilitation fields since 1999. During that nearly 16 year period of time, I have worked with close to 2,000 individuals. I have celebrated many case successes and learned through many case failures during my career. I have no issue saying that not everyone that has sought my help has met with success. I understand that I have to approach every case that I work with as a fallible human being. If a day comes and I am unable to do that…I’m done in this industry (and perhaps in Life).

I have no issue admitting that I am NOT a “people” person. Even though I work with people on a daily basis, the truth is I am much more of an introvert. I have never been a fan of the “night life.” In fact, my feeling is that the “night life” is completely stupid, useless, and pretty much sucks all around. I prefer quiet settings with friends. I would much rather cook a really healthy meal, have a select few special friends over, and have some deep, meaningful, solving-the-world’s-problems kind of conversations. I cannot stand large crowds where I am forced into meaningless conversation that essentially does nothing except create more stress on my tempero-mandibular joint and limbic system.

I am a HUGE fan of relaxing during my down time. I love movies and educational, informative documentaries. I read a LOT. I love reading books, journals, articles, and any other form of literature involving the body-mind, physiology, and biomechanics. I am fascinated by quantum and advanced theoretical physics and read literature related to those topics constantly. I continuously study the mechanics of consciousness. I LOATHE mindless conversation. It means absolutely nothing and helps nothing and no one.

I am completely against dogmatic approaches to anything – especially food and exercise. Whatever is in discussion, there is more than one way to look at everything.

I eat things that most Health Professionals would deny they ever look at. I thoroughly enjoy Haagen Dazs ice cream (particularly chocolate-chocolate chip, caramel cone, and vanilla flavors), dark chocolate fudge, gelatin marshmallows, just about any cheesecake, and red velvet cake (no, I have not experienced the red velvet Oreo’s as of yet, but I will have those on vacation in a few months). Do I eat those every day. Hell no – although I did once eat a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream every night for 17 straight days. Oddly enough, I actually got leaner during the process (no I don’t have pictures to prove it but I do have my skin fold measurements documented).

I don’t tell clients that they can think themselves healthy and well. The whole New Age positive thinking movement is a crock of s#!t. Surprise! You can think positively until you give yourself a migraine headache, unless you actually put in the work to accomplish what you are positively thinking about – nothing is going to happen. You can spend hours meditating and using visualization techniques to acquire a sexy new body, but unless you get your ass in the gym and dial in your nutrition, your body composition is not likely to change.

I have many FEARS. Having to “work” a job that I hate. Living a life that is unfulfilled and without purpose or meaning. Being a “normal” human being is absolutely frightening to me, especially when one considers what passes for “normal” these days.

I have misunderstood myself for a large part of my past, and out of that misunderstanding has come a huge disconnect with the “average” person. I have been told that I am “unrelatable.” I have been told on many an occasion that I am an ass****. Are these things true? Possibly…

At present, there are people who think that I am one of the smartest people on the planet and love what I do. There are also those who feel that the cheese has slid way off my cracker and that I am full of the biggest s#!t. That is not likely to change and I feel that both are really cool and afford many learning opportunities.

I have very little tolerance for stupidity and nonsensical bafoonery. I tend to point out when something is said or done that makes no sense or is based on nothing. I tend to require strange things like logic and reason when engaged in a conversation of any kind. Statements like, “Sugar is bad for you,” really piss me off.

I have avoided saying things that I have thought that others would not want me to say. I have avoided sharing opinions on certain topics in order to “keep the peace” in family situations and with clients. In doing so, I have lost pieces of myself. Regaining those pieces requires being truly authentic, even in situations that are very delicate in nature. Being authentic has the ability to give others permission to do the same. For me, this is important in a world that has most people wearing the mask that those around them prefer they wear. Over the years, being truly authentic has come easier but is certainly not without challenge – at least for me.

I tend to look and think about things a little bit differently – well, a lot differently – and I have finally fallen in love with that fact.

I want to continue to create a business that helps tons of people overcome chronic pain and health challenges, particularly those that have all but given up hope. I want to make a real difference. I want to make enough $$ to sustain the Life that I co-create and LIVE. I want to continue to grow personally and professionally – and I will do so on my own terms…I am that stubborn.

I am necessarily selfish. It is a Universal Law that you cannot give what you do not have. It is fairly common sensical to understand that one cannot help anyone else until one helps one’s self. I suppose the issue here is that common sense is not all that common.

I have no issue stating that I do not choose to share my energy with those who are not interested in helping themselves. I did this for years and felt like I was literally slamming my head against a wall wondering why individuals would not care enough to help themselves despite paying doctors, therapists, surgeons, and myself to be guided towards the help that they supposedly were seeking. This led to a large-scale study of mind-programming and mind-control over the last 10 years. What I learned, and continue to learn in this arena, has changed my world view substantially.

At the end of the day, I view my Life as one with meaning and purpose. I am dedicated to using my Life’s energy to helping people even though I may do that in ways that some do not approve.

If you work with me as a client, you get a Practitioner that will give you the truth about your situation. You get someone who is interested in helping you help yourself. You get someone who will back up claims with logic, reason, and common sense. You get someone who is every bit as invested in you restoring your health as you are.

We all get out of Life exactly what we put into it. I plan to continue to put a LOT of work into my own Life and to help others do the same. That is all…

How to Stay “Motivated”

“I just cannot seem to stay motivated to exercise, eat right, and take care of myself. How do you manage to do it day in and day out?”

I am often asked this question by clients, friends, family, people in line at the grocery store, at the end of lectures – you name it.

My answer to this question is actually pretty simple – I love my Self!
Now, before you start thinking that I am some sort of narcissist (which may be true depending on who you talk to), let me explain myself.

I really do not care what your goals are in life. In order to look better naked, set the world record in the dead lift, become a professional Playstation player, be a better business owner, or to complete an IronMan or marathon, you must first cultivate a significant amount of love for your Self.

I am speaking about a true love here. An interesting point here, and I first heard this from Stephen Covey, is that the word love is, in fact, a verb. IF we look at the language of every progressive society since the dawn of “man”, the word love is, in fact, used as a verb. Love is not an emotion. Rather it is a way of being in the world which is reflected in your thoughts, words, and deeds. It is not an emotion – it is a quality of being.

We are not speaking about an “ooey-gooey” feeling here. We are speaking about a way of being in the world that allows you to listen to the innate wisdom of your own body. We are speaking about cultivating enough love for Self that you are intrinsically motivated to not buy shitty food when you go to the grocery store, to exercise regularly in a healthy way, to not use your stomach as a garbage can, to go to bed on time, and to rest when you feel like you are tired instead of working yourself into a hormonal stupor.
People often ask me why I spend so much money on food and supplements, why I tend to not miss workouts (or why I make them up if I do), why I am so picky about how much sleep I get, why I do not eat bread, why I do not use a microwave, why I only drink certain waters, why I do not drink alcohol, why can I not just be a “normal” person, and on and on the list goes. Again, I do these things because I choose to out of love for my Self.
Self Love and Your Programming

Many people do not realize that Self Love is quite literally programmed out of you. Society, schooling and “education”, religion, culture, government, medicine, language and “phraseology,” and to a large degree even your very own family, play a very large role in programming you for self-sabotage. This ensures that you remain part of a system of “human farming” that has been running for a very, very long time. About a million pages could be written on this, so in the interest of time I would say for those that are interested in this topic, read and study the following: (not an exhaustive list by any means but a decent introduction in my opinion)

The Book of Understanding by Osho
Fame, Fortune, and Ambition: What is the real meaning of Success? by Osho
Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie
Mind Programming by Eldon Taylor
Memetics: Memes and the Science of Cultural Evolution by Tim Tyler
The Language Codes by R. Neville Johnston

Another thing that I hear all the time is that, “If I only had someone to help keep me accountable I would be able to _______________ (fill in your preferred goal here). The roots of this statement are very deep and beyond the scope of a simple post. What I will say is that accountability, much like discipline and motivation, is a complete joke. The very statement indicates that you have lost something very valuable somewhere in your past. Anytime you need someone outside of yourself to hold you “accountable” for anything, you completely give up your personal power. You are placing your energy and well-being in the hands of another. This is very dangerous, particularly when it comes to your health and well-being. We must all “reprogram” ourselves to hold ourselves accountable for our lives. To be truly healthy, one must take complete and total responsibility for what is created in life moment to moment, short, and long term.

How to Cultivate Self Love

The first step, and often the most frightening one, is to investigate your own psyche. Identify where the cracks are in your prior programming. Challenge the beliefs that you hold and investigate where they came from and whether or not they are serving you at this juncture in your Life. If they are, keep em. If not, replace them with something that is more serving – something that not only benefits you, but also those around you who are on your “Dream Team.”

Ask yourself, “What is it that makes me truly happy?” It is not common for individuals to know the answer to that question in my experience. If you do not know what makes you happy, I encourage you to stop reading this, go sit in silence somewhere alone (under a tree, on a beach, wherever) and get very clear about what makes you happy. After all, if you do not know what makes you happy, how will you know when you have it? There are some great individuals that I know and have worked with personally who can help with this kind of self-exploration and “reprogramming.” Visit these sites for two of my favorite people in this area:

JP Sears

Rony Reingold

Most take for granted the fact that you are in constant communication with your body with every thought you think, word you say, and deed you perform.

If unhealthy habits continue, the continual lack of respect creates in your body a feeling of being unloved. This ultimately leads to shame and that feeling then triggers a specific emotional and chemical response. When we experience any emotion, polypeptides are produced for that specific emotion by the hypothalamus in the brain. In less than a second, these chemicals begin to flood the bloodstream. The bloodstream carries these chemicals to every one of your 100 trillion cells, flooding your body with an emotional and chemical cocktail. These chemical messengers then set off a chemical cascade in your cells driven by that emotion (shame, anger, fear, love, etc.)

Research shows that the average human being has between 56,000 and 100,000 thoughts in any given day. Research also shows that less than 2% of these are positive!

When you have any negative thought about yourself, such as, “I hate my thighs,” or, “I don’t like how big my butt is,” or decide not to act in a healthy way, the basic message to your cells is that you do not love them. Yes, I am aware that that sounds “airy fairy” but that does not make it any less true. This decreases immune function and efficiency, magnifies the stress response in the body, rapidly increases physical aging, increases death of brain cells, and breaks down muscle tissue, all of which will ultimately slow your metabolism. What this leads to in a nutshell is that you look older than you actually are, you gain fat, lose muscle, make it more difficult to lose the fat and more difficult to rebuild or gain muscle, and eventually you get sick – period.

If you are looking for a new aesthetic appeal, you will need to feed your cells (all of them, including your fat cells) thoughts of love and gratitude, in addition to clean air, clean, organic food and clean water. Getting in touch with your Self will also help you find your weight loss solution – if that is what you are after – and it seems to be all anyone cares about these days (again, that’s a programmed desire).

Here are the “things” that I recommend you do to begin the process of loving yourself, and in turn, staying “motivated” to be healthy, etc.:

1. Figure out what makes you happy.
Many people struggle with this. Very often when I ask a client to answer this question, the answer is always something outside of themselves. I get, “My kids make me happy,” or “I really enjoy riding my bike and that makes me happy,” or “Working out makes me happy.” I would invite you to find something that makes you happy that is not outside of yourself. Why? Well, if your happiness is outside of you, there is a chance that it can be somehow taken from you. The result is that people live in a perpetual state of fear of losing that happiness. This leads to a lot of stress and internal chaos. No, I am not saying that you should not love your spouse and kids unconditionally, so spare me the backlash bullshit on that one.

I am often asked what makes me happy when I pose that question (there’s always someone willing to play ‘Stump the Chump’). My answer is simple. Creating something that another person can use to improve his/her overall quality of life is what makes me happy. Living my life with a sense of purpose makes me happy. I do my best to use my life as an example that others can follow, if they choose, in order to achieve abundant health and vitality. Some people choose to follow that example, which I think is pretty cool; and others think that I am completely full of shit, and that is pretty cool too!

An easy way to figure out what makes you happy is to sit quietly in a room alone and meditate on this question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Or, “If money were no object, what would I do?” In many cases (but not all) the answer to these questions is usually what will make you happy. Do more of the things that would have you reach that goal and you are on what Taoists call “the way.”

2. Accept the truth that your decisions and actions have created the body that you have today.
This is difficult for many because there is nothing more exquisitely pleasant than to place blame on something outside of yourself for the way you look (genetics, thyroid problems, etc.) Caroline Myss, PhD, states that a truly healthy individual is one who can look back on ALL of their past experiences with gratitude. Be grateful for your past actions and accept that these actions happened in your past. It all happened for a reason – to teach you a very important lesson and to bring you back into your Self. You could potentially be well served not to make decisions based on your past. What is important is what you do with the energy of now.

3. Embrace the “F” word – Forgiveness.
Now that you have accepted what has happened, you must forgive one very important person – yourself. Until you can forgive yourself for your own actions and reactions, there is still a “thing” in your way of achieving the motivation to achieve the ideal body that you want. This “thing” has a consciousness and will continue to attract energy and create a reality until it is resolved. You must decide that your past has no power over you. Today is new, a day for new decision, new thoughts, and new habits.

4. Find the Bright Spots
Be grateful for the wonderful positive people, circumstances and objects in your life today, and for those that are not. Every night write a list of 10 things for which you are most grateful. Read this first thing when you awake as a reminder of all that you are grateful for. It is also helpful to find something that you do like about a body part that you desire to change and focus on the love that is there.

Remember, the people around you, your spouse or partner, friends and family do not interact with your physical body. They interact with your Soul. As Pierre Teilhard of Chardin stated, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
5. Be selfish enough to love your Self.
Realize that being selfish enough to love yourself is the most unselfish thing you can do. It is a fundamental Law of the Universe that you simply cannot give what you do not have. As you learn to love all parts of yourself, including your body, accepting and loving others will come easily. You can then also lead others by example on how to love themselves. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Gandhi who said, we must, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

By having more love for your Self, it will be much easier to “stay motivated” to eat right, exercise right, drink right, sleep right, and think right; and by doing those things I am confident that you can achieve any dream and create whatever kind of body you so desire.

9 Things I Learn (Relearn) Every January

Preface: The offering below may very well be offensive to some, and perhaps, many people. I do not apologize. These are things that are true for me looking through my lens of reality. Feel free to leave any comment(s) that you feel are justified – I do, and will always encourage that.

1. New Year’s Resolutions are Worthless

If you were truly intent on accomplishing something, you would not wait until the New Year to “resolve” to start the process of getting that s#*t done! People “resolve” to do things that are not part of their Core Values in Life. Therefore, in most cases, failure is near certain.

2. The Circus always comes to Town
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus must hold open auditions for the year’s circus tours at every commercial gym in January (and February). Based on what I see every January in the gym, Ringling Bros. will never have a shortage of very entertaining acts for their show!

3. The Illusion of Health is alive and Well
People will jump on anything that gives the appearance or illusion of health this time of year. From worthless “detoxes” and “cleanses” to the most ridiculous of dietary strategies, the illusion is worth more than actually putting in the real work necessary to create lasting health and wellness.

4. Pseudo-science has great Influence
In line with number 3, if you are aware of the power that the illusion of health possesses, you can make a fortune on some of the world’s dumbest exercise gadgets and dietary “practices.” Throw some fake scientific jargon and data on a blog, website, video, commercial, etc. and take advantage of the ignorance while lining your bank account. The cycle continues…

5. People love playing the Blame Game, but no one plays the Right Way
The average person spends February – December treating their bodies like absolute s#^t. Then, come January, swear that it was the Holiday Season that is responsible for their lack of health and weight gain. I’m not saying that pounds may not have been added during the holidays, but what about the other 10 or so months where you did not feed, exercise, or rest yourself appropriately. Heads up…It’s not the Holiday’s fault. Be an adult – Take responsibility for your health and your Life.

6. People’s Priorities are really f*@ked up!
People will spend hours and even days or weeks of time during a given year following a celebrity, reality TV show, watching the bought-and-paid-for news, but ask them to make a little time to actually learn how the body works and how to care for it – and you are asking for way too much. This, for me, represents the height of social ignorance and programming.

7. Everyone is suddenly an Expert
Come January, everyone knows exactly what you should be doing in the gym, with your nutrition, what you should be thinking, etc. in order to get healthy. Never mind the fact that these same individuals have not seen the inside of a gym in over 10 months; cannot name 3 kinds of root vegetables, and the only tropical fruit they eat comes in a bag with the slogan “Taste the Rainbow.”

8. Truth Seekers are a Rarity
When it comes to health, most will believe whatever they are told to believe by mainstream media, reality TV, celebrity stupidity, and the list goes on. The people who are truly willing to invest the time and energy into learning to care for their body are very few and far between. Those are the individuals, however, that experience permanent results in my experience.

9. You get Out Exactly what you Put In
Unfortunately, occasionally I have to train at a public gym. Each year I see the same people show up in January and February that have not made an appearance the other 10-11 months out of the year. I also see people trying “miracle” products to melt the fat off their bodies with “no change in diet or exercise.” I see people buying self-help books and trying to “positively think” themselves into better health and a better body. Listen, your body and your health are just like everything else in Life – you will get out of it exactly what you put in. Put in no real effort – get no real results. Period.

Fibromyalgia – Myth and Truth

At the risk of upsetting a lot of people, I am going to say right out of the gate that I am of the opinion that Fibromyalgia is not actually a condition or syndrome. Rather, it is simply a label that is placed on individuals that have an integrated array of symptoms and no one knows or can clearly identify what the source of the issues actually is.

I have had the pleasure of working with many clients who were diagnosed with Fibromyalgia over the last 16 years. In all cases, my clients were placed on a variety of medications (one client was on 17 different medications) and in the vast majority of cases, no one inquired into my client’s nutrition and/or lifestyle habits. While that is not at all surprising, what I have come to learn in working with Fibromyalgia cases is that the Foundation Principles have to be addressed in order to overcome this pain “syndrome” – more on those factors a little later in this post.

So what is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia is described as a constant dull ache, typically arising from muscles.


According to the National Fibromyalgia Association, currently there are no laboratory tests available for diagnosing fibromyalgia. Physicians must rely on patient histories, symptom reports, a physical examination, and an accurate manual tender point examination (which very few can carry out accurately according to some recent research). I have learned that this physical exam is based on the standardized American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Proper implementation of the exam determines the presence of multiple tender points at characteristic locations.

To receive a diagnosis of FM, the patient must meet the following diagnostic criteria:

• Widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months

• Tenderness or pain in at least 11 of the 18 specified tender points when pressure is applied.

I can tell you from my personal experience, about 98% of my chronic pain clients fall into the above 2 categories quite easily. Do they all have Fibromyalgia? My opinion – nope!

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia (according to National Fibromyalgia Association)


The pain of fibromyalgia is profound, chronic and widespread. It can migrate to all parts of the body and vary in intensity. FM pain has been described as stabbing and shooting pain and deep muscular aching, throbbing, and twitching. Neurological complaints such as numbness, tingling, and burning are often present and add to the discomfort of the patient. The severity of the pain and stiffness is often worse in the morning. Aggravating factors that affect pain include cold/humid weather, non-restorative sleep, physical and mental fatigue, excessive physical activity, physical inactivity, anxiety and stress.


Fatigue is the number 1 reason for physician visits in the world today, however, the fatigue of FM is much more than being tired after a particularly busy day or after a sleepless night. The fatigue of FM is an all-encompassing exhaustion that can interfere with occupational, personal, social or educational activities. Symptoms include profound exhaustion and poor stamina in Activities of Daily Living (ADL).

Sleep Issues

Many fibromyalgia patients have an associated sleep disorder that prevents them from getting deep, restful, restorative sleep. Medical researchers have documented specific and distinctive abnormalities in the Stage 4 deep sleep of FM patients.

Other symptoms/overlapping conditions

Additional symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia include but are not limited to: irritable bowel and bladder (IBS), headaches and migraines, restless legs syndrome (periodic limb movement disorder), impaired memory and concentration, skin sensitivities and rashes, dry eyes and mouth, anxiety, depression, ringing in the ears, dizziness, vision problems, Raynaud’s Syndrome, neurological symptoms, and impaired coordination.
Some Interesting Research

The main cause of fibromyalgia has been postulated and investigated very extensively by a number of physicians and researchers. According to Dr. John C. Lowe, fibromyalgia is caused by inadequate thyroid hormone regulation of cell function. Dr. Lowe details his research and experience, and the research of others in his ground-breaking work, a 1, 260 page book entitled The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia.

Dr. Lowe sites studies by several research teams that indicate that 90% of fibromyalgia patients have underlying thyroid diseases. Studies by researchers in the U.S., France, Germany, and Italy show that these thyroid diseases include primary and central hypothyroidism and peripheral cellular resistance to thyroid hormone.

It’s important to note, however, that most patients’ fibromyalgia symptoms caused by thyroid disease are compounded by other metabolism-impeding factors. The most common factors are poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, poor physical fitness, and metabolism-impairing drugs.

Dr. Lowe has also headed up a research team with the Fibromyalgia Research Foundation which conducted double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover studies. In them, they tested the effects of T3 and placebos on fibromyalgia symptoms. They report being able to repeatedly turn the patients’ symptoms off and on by switching them from T3 to placebos, much like turning the flow of water off and on by switching a faucet handle one way and then the other. Additional research cited by Dr. Lowe includes the following:

• A study showed that thyroid hormone’s effectiveness at relieving fibromyalgia symptoms isn’t a placebo effect. This study was the first to show long-term effectiveness of a fibromyalgia treatment. The study was a 1-to-5-year follow-up comparing untreated patients to patients treated with metabolic therapy including thyroid hormone. We matched 20 fibromyalgia patients who hadn’t undergone treatment with 20 fibromyalgia patients who had. We matched them by sex, thyroid status, and the time since their first evaluation.

• They first evaluated all the patients 1-to-5 years before the follow-up study began. They compared those baseline measures with the follow-up measures for each group. Treated patients had improved on all measures of fibromyalgia, and they had decreased their drug use. Untreated patients didn’t improve at all, and they were using more drugs. The fact that treated fibromyalgia patients maintained their improvement 1-to-5 years compared to matched untreated patients compels us to formulate a conclusion: Relieving inadequate thyroid hormone regulation produces long-term recovery from fibromyalgia symptoms. That the recovery is not due to a placebo effect is evident from patients’ improvement lasting from 1-to-5 years—a span of time that outlast that of documented placebo effects.

In addition to all of the above, compared to other people, the fibromyalgia patient has an extremely high level of substance P in his/her spinal cord. Substance P is a chemical that increases pain perception. It amplifies pain perception so much that the patient perceives as painful something that ordinarily is not, such as the pressure of a mattress on his/her back and buttocks.

• There has been research to suggest that Thyroid hormone inhibits the production of substance P in the spinal cord. When researchers create hypothyroidism in laboratory animals, substance P production is no longer inhibited. The level of substance P then rises steeply in the animals’ spinal cords. The high level magnifies the animals’ perception of pain, and like fibromyalgia patients, the animals perceive as painful something that ordinarily is not, such as a light squeeze of a rat’s tail. In humans, the increased pain perception is experienced as chronic widespread aches and pains.

What else could it be?

While I do like the research that Dr. Lowe presents in his book and on his website (, I am of the opinion that Fibromyalgia has to do with much more than just thyroid dysfunction (and an expanded look at the research of Lowe and others indicates this as well). Why? The thyroid is a very complicated gland and is impacted by a number of other glands and issues. These include, but are not limited to:

• Issues anywhere within the H-P-T-A-G-G Axes
The thyroid communicates with your hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal glands, gut function, and gonads (testicles/ovaries) just to name a few.

* Estrogen dominance/progesterone deficiency.
Excess or unopposed estrogen is a key inhibitor of thyroid function.  As well, a sluggish thyroid will decrease the liver’s ability to detoxify excess estrogen thus perpetuating a negative cycle that cripples the  body’s energy production leading to chronic fatigue.

• The thyroid is also impacted by the health and function of the liver. This is where the body converts T4 to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. A lesser amount of that conversion also occurs in the kidneys and the gut.

• Several minerals are necessary for the production of thyroid hormone, T4. These minerals include iodine, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, chromium, selenium, cobalt, and possibly other ultra trace minerals. These minerals and other nutrients which work with these minerals must be in the diet or can be supplemented.

• One major mineral, selenium, is necessary for formation of an enzyme called 5’ deiodinase enzyme, which converts T4 into T3.

• Copper is also necessary for suppressing the production of immune system malfunctions which cause autoimmune Graves’ disease, and appears to have other critical functions in preventing hyperthyroidism.

• Other minerals, including potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium, regulate the passage of minerals and T3 through cell membranes. Imbalances of these “gateway minerals” can limit T4 production by interfering with the transport of minerals into the thyroid cells and can also limit the amount of T3 which gets into the body’s cells, thereby limiting the rate of metabolism. T3 is a big player in regulating metabolism.

• Macronutrients – proteins and fats need to be present for the minerals to work properly to perform normal endocrine functions optimally.

• Issues with mineral deficiencies can often be traced to hydrochloric acid deficiency (hypo- or achlorhydria), which is necessary for proper digestion of foods.

• Issues in the small intestine, such as leaky gut syndrome (increased intestinal permeability) can also lead to the mineral issues mentioned above. The majority of your nutrients are absorbed by the small intestine. If it is dysfunctional, it stands to reason that mineral deficiencies are likely to result.

• Food intolerances can be a potential etiological factor in thyroid disease in which auto-immunity is implicated. This is particularly the case in Hashimoto’s Disease, which is now the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.  The key here is to identify the “why?” behind the food intolerance.  What is actually causing one to be intolerant to a given food?

• Women are more likely to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia than men (interestingly, they are also more effected by hypothyroidism than men are). This is likely due to a hormonal link.  In addition, consider this:

Many women, at the advice of their physician regarding osteopenia and osteoporosis, supplement their diets pretty heavily with various forms of calcium thinking this will protect their bones. However, in order for calcium to be adequately assimilated into the skeletal structure, magnesium levels must be optimal and adequate saturated fats have to be “on board” as well. Up to 83% of the population is magnesium deficient; and how many women do you know run around on low-fat diets because they have been brain-washed by politically correct nutrition into believing that saturated fat is bad for you and should be avoided? Potential magnesium deficiency and avoidance of high-quality saturated fats leads to an accumulation of this supplemented calcium in the soft-tissues of the body. This encourages muscular contraction, spasm, trigger point development, and ultimately, musculoskeletal pain. Just a theory of mine and I have no “significant scientific literature” to back that up (sadly, I only have human physiology to back that up), but it does sound pretty good right?

•The potential sources of Fibromyalgia could go on and on, but I will stop them here.

So What Do You Do?

The solution is to figure out why the individual has Fibromyalgia. You can put 100 Fibromyalgia patients in a room and they are all likely to have the “condition” for slightly different reasons. There is no “end-all-be-all” when it comes to how to overcome FM.

Education on all Foundation Principles – Breathing, Hydration, Nutrition, Movement, Sleep, and Thoughts – must be implemented on an individual case basis if results are to materialize long term. I have used these Foundation Principles to address the “issues” mentioned above to help my clients return to a pain-free and functional lifestyle.

Nutrition must be customized to the physiology of the individual in question. On top of that nutritional needs of the individual will change as they go through the peaks and valleys of the process of creating health. Food selection, meal frequency, and macronutrient ratios all must be completely customized to the individual in question. All of these things are covered in my Food First Program.

I hope some aspect of this offering has led to more questions, got your wheels turning, and has you ready to get out there and do some more homework and arrive at your own conclusions about how to stop Fibromyalgia in its’ tracks.

Defining “Health” and “Fitness”

We’ve all heard it before. Someone rambles out some meaningless comment like, “Yea, I want to be ‘fit’,” or, “I wouldn’t mind looking like so and so, s/he is really ‘in shape.”

What does being “fit” or “in shape” even mean?

It’s funny, but if you ask 100 people off the street to answer that question, you are likely to receive 100 very different responses. Chances are also likely that approximately 60% of the time those answers will make absolutely no sense every time (for all you Anchorman fans).

Some lay folk might say that someone is ‘in shape’ if they are simply not overweight and are skinny. Others (people who exercise or attempt to exercise) might argue that point and rightly state that being thin does not necessarily equate to being healthy and that someone can be ‘skinny-fat.’ People often perceive skinny with “fit” but most often ignore any health component to the individual’s body and physiology.

To be blunt, the fact that someone is skinny is not an indication of “health” or “fitness” level. In fact, for me, it means very little altogether. Especially when one enters into a health and fitness related conversation with said skinny person and said skinny person starts the conversation off with how s/he eats egg whites and Kashi or Special K cereal for breakfast to “start the day off right” and follows that up with their gerbil’s favorite mid-morning snack. This is usually about the time I want to give myself one hell of a face-punch in hopes of rendering myself unconscious so as to avoid a lowering of my health and fitness IQ by the next nonsensical statement said skinny person will make.

When someone starts to run their mouth or offers health or fitness advice, make sure you ask questions, and a LOT of them.

Where did they get their information for this “advice?” It’s usually a worthless magazine, news story, or something a ‘trainer’ once told them.

What types of physical activity are they currently engaged in?

How long have they been following this “advice?”

What is the “advice” actually based on? Something that Dr. Oz said? Something Kim Kardashian said? Those two are about on par with one another.

What makes them think that the “advice” will work for you?

Many people are quick to dish out advice and tell everyone and their momma what they should be doing and why just in casual conversation. I have a little secret to tell you…such people are even less worth listening to than a dentist who looks like s/he has a mouthful of dice when smiling.

How can someone give you nutrition, health, fitness, or rehabilitation advice simply by standing next to you? This is about as unprofessional as it gets and I have personally witnessed MANY so-called “trainers” do this very thing. You do not know anything about this person standing next to you. How can you say something like, “Oh no you should not be eating that many carbohydrates, that’s way too many, and you will end up with diabetes if you keep that up.” Really? How do you know? What are the sources of the carbohydrates for this person you are mis-advising. In what ratio to other macronutrients are they being consumed? What is the individual’s micronutrient density like? What are the metabolic demands placed on his/her body? Are they eating that carbohydrate content on training or non-training days? And on and on the list of questions could go.

Another related situation which I have personally witnessed with ‘personal trainers’ is that Client X has been experiencing low back pain during and after training sessions. This goes on for a couple of months and then the trainer tells Client X to “strengthen their core” (whatever the hell they mean by that), stretch the low back, and hop on an inversion table. Really?? What assessment was conducted to arrive at this conclusion? How do you know that Client X will benefit long-term from hopping into an inversion table? What was the basis for the recommendation? Turns out, Client X has a deranged disc and a space occupying lesion at L4/5 along with a sacral torsion and every recommendation the “trainer” gave made things worse. This is a classic case of when one must know to refer out to someone more capable of delivering the appropriate service to the individual in question.

The same thing can be said for exercise recommendations. I have written on exercise numerous times, but the trend is for trainers and coaches to simply dish out random forms of physical abuse on their clients and athletes because that is what is popular. Again, to be blunt, any idiot can make someone tired. But that does not make a great training session. If all you are looking for is for someone to make you tired, anyone can do that. Hell, just jump in place for 30 minutes while standing in a 140 degree dry sauna. That’ll do the trick, but it won’t really do a damn thing to improve your body composition. Better yet, grab a fly swatter and wave it back and forth violently about 700 times. Your tricep will be toast. But no matter how many times you do that, your tricep will not look any better. Being tired and sitting in a pool of your own vomit does not mean that you are doing yourself any favors. The training stimulus must match the desired outcome in order to receive the training effect. Otherwise, you are just chasing your tail doing whatever exercise Trainer Numbnuts just read in Muscle & Fiction magazine.

In conclusion…

Everyone has a definition of health and/or fitness. Make sure the person you are taking advice from knows your definition inside and out and that the advice that is given has the end result in mind. As well, use objective markers to verify results. If you are after body composition changes – take regular skin fold measurements (yes, there are other methods) to track progress. If you want to look better naked, take regular progress pictures in your birthday suit with the same lighting in the same room at regular intervals.

If you are not seeing results, seek advice elsewhere (please note that if you want the results you want in a few weeks and you are coming to the table with a long history of bad habits, you will need a healthy dose of reality and patience because that is not how the body works). If it took you 20 or 30 years to look less than stellar or to develop an illness/disease, it will take more than a couple of months to achieve a new aesthetic appeal or to overcome any chronic health challenge.