Manual Osteopathy: Towards a Model of Holism

“The job of the physician is to find health and give it motion, anyone can find disease.”

– Andrew Taylor Still

My journey to studying and practicing manual osteopathy was not a straight and direct path. I became very interested in rehabilitation and corrective movement at the age of 17 when I had to rehabilitate myself from a disc pathology suffered while lifting weights (some of the ridiculous things that happen in a high school weight room caught up with me). I already had a keen interest in how the body works from my Advanced Placement Biology class during my junior year of high school. I was particularly interested in Endocrinology (as I am still). Immediately out of high school I landed a job with a prominent local Personal Training company. Inside of a year, I was a finalist in the 2000 Met-Rx World’s Best Personal Trainer Contest (16 finalists out of close to 20,000 entries if I remember correctly).

At that point, I was exposed to the work of Paul Chek, HHP, Founder of the C.H.E.K Institute in Vista, California. As far as I could tell, Paul had the most comprehensive program on the planet for nutrition and lifestyle coaching as well as corrective exercise and high-performance conditioning. I dove head first into the material and immediately began seeing tons of clients suffering from a myriad of spinal pathologies. About a year later, in 2001, I flew to Rhode Island to meet with a group for a possibility of joining their team of rehabilitation professionals in a new clinic in East Greenwich. At that point, every single time I was in an airplane I would quite literally go completely deaf in my right ear upon landing. It would happen without fail every time I flew, which at that point was only a half dozen times or so, but it was still an annoyance. I would not be able to hear out of that ear for at least 2-3 days and it was super unsettling. Upon landing and being picked up by my soon to be colleague, I explained the symptoms of this hearing loss in detail during the drive to the clinic. Once there, one of their therapists, and now dear friend and colleague, Jennifer Beauregard, asked me to hop on the treatment table. She put me through a general and specific cranial treatment and my ear opened up on the spot. At the time, I had no idea how that was possible and was super impressed (not an easy thing to do). Jennifer explained things to me and mentioned that what was done was based on osteopathic principles within the cranial field. I was intrigued and began my readings in the area, which started with the work of Dr. John Upledger, D.O. and his contributions to CranioSacral Therapy.

Over the next couple of years, I read everything I could get my hands on related to the cranium, the PRM (Primary Respiratory Mechanism), and eventually came to the work of the founder of Osteopathy, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. I read his book Osteopathy: Research and Practice for the first time in 2004. I found myself drawn to Osteopathy and its philosophy of the body and its ability to heal itself when given the opportunity to do so. The philosophy of true Manual Osteopathy; Osteopathy the way it is meant to be practiced is based on four basic principles:

1    Each structure in the body supports the body’s functions. Structure and function are reciprocally related.
2    The natural flow of the body’s fluids – lymphatic, vascular and neurological – must be preserved and maintained.
3    The human body is the sum of its parts. Its physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and cognitive systems do not work independently -they work in harmony. The body is a system of systems.
4    When the body has no restrictions, it has the inherent ability to heal itself.

Osteopathic Manual Practitioners recognize a patient as an integrated whole. When all of the body’s components are in balance, a person is complete and in total health. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners work to maintain, improve and restore the normal physiological function of interrelated body structures and systems, enhancing the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

Using various manual assessment and treatment techniques and modalities, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners work to identify and ease restrictions, constrictions and pain; reduce swelling; improve tissue mobility; and promote proper function and healing in people of all ages.
Also, during that time (2002-2004) I took courses on Cranial-Cervical-Mandibular Disorders, some in person seminars and some via home study courses. I was not terribly confident implementing the complex “stuff” I was learning with regards to the cranium, TMJ, and cervical spine, but I began studying Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) after stumbling on Dr. Leon Chaitow, D.O., N.D.’s work on the subject. The results I was able to achieve with clients who had already seem their limits with conventional treatment for lumbar spine pathology spoke for themselves. I was led to the founder (depending on who you read of course) of MET’s work, Dr. Fred L. Mitchell, Sr. I read his work, and the work of others on MET for low back, hip, knee, and ankle issues. All the while I was continuing to work my way through Paul’s C.H.E.K Practitioner program. In 2005 when I completed my Level 3 training in that system, everything changed for me. At that time, I came to realize that a lot of what I considered to be the “cool stuff” in the CHEK Program is actually based in osteopathy (Paul himself started his career as a trainer on the U.S. Army boxing team and learned to care for athletic injuries from an Osteopathic Physician). From that point, I saw Manual Osteopathy as possibly the most comprehensive philosophy for care of the human framework that was ever devised. Over the next decade, from 2005 to 2015 I worked with what I would estimate to be between 1,200 and 1,700 clients dealing with acute and chronic pain syndromes of various types with the majority of my clinical work addressing neck pain, back pain, and headaches. Using a combination of all of the things that I had been taught throughout the years – CHEK, NMT, Trigenics, MET, CST, etc., I began to create my own style of assessing and correcting chronic pain syndromes in my clients. In 2015, I decided to take over a decade of self-study and officially complete my studies of Manual Osteopathy with the National University of Medical Sciences (Spain) / National Academy of Osteopathy (Canada). The journey will not end there (quite the opposite actually). Once I complete this D.O. program, I plan to continue my studies of osteopathy, particularly Cranial Osteopathy with the Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy in addition to continuing my studies and courses based on the work of world-renowned French Osteopath Guy VOYER.

For me, the philosophy of true Manual Osteopathy resonates very highly. Everything that is alive on our wonderful planet has an innate intelligence contained within it. The seed of a redwood tree has intelligence, a dog or cat has intelligence, and so to does the human body possess an intelligence that conventional medicine largely ignores.  Manual Osteopathy honors the Intelligent Designer and provides a means to allowing that innate intelligence to flow and foster health and well-being. Giving the body what it needs with regards to air, water, food, movement, thought, and rest unlocks its greatest potential. For me, nothing is more enjoyable to study, practice, and witness in my daily Life.


What Do I Do…Exactly?

I have been in the rehabilitation, health, and fitness profession since 1999. The vast majority of my work has focused on clinical applications and chronic pain since 2002, working primarily with spinal pathologies, back pain, neck pain, and headaches. To date, I have helped countless people overcome pain, where the more “traditional” approaches have failed. Have I helped everyone that has sought my services? No. Everyone has not met with success. Why? Well, as I often inform my 10 year old, “You get out what you put in.” Unfortunately, some people are simply not willing to put in the work required to overcome their pain syndrome.

After many years spent working and reaping success in my field, I am still questioned by friends, family members, acquaintances, etc. exactly what it is that I do. Apparently, the rather frequent inquiry is due to my own inability to effectively and efficiently answer the question. A question I will attempt to answer in this article as it pertains to the physical/rehabilitation side of my practice.

About the Physical Side of my Practice

To make a very long story somewhat short, the concept of my work involves removing tension that obstructs optimal mechanics in the body, as well as addressing musculoskeletal issues. No, I am not a Massage Therapist. I am not a Physical Therapist. I am not a Chiropractor. I am not a Rolfer, Heller Worker, Physiotherapist, etc., and I do not hold a medical license of any kind – nor do I desire to.

At present, I am finishing up my D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) in true, European-style, Manual Osteopathy – “official” title will be Osteopathic Manual Practitioner here in the States. I’ve studied and taken courses in many different disciplines, those of which you can interpret on my “About” page.

In my opinion (which is based on a decade of education, study, experimentation, and research), Manual Osteopathy is the most complete system available for care of the human framework. And as most of you are probably wondering, “What the hell is Manual Osteopathy?” Osteopathy is a philosophy that was founded by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. (1828-1917). Osteopathy is a client-centered discipline based on understanding the relationship between structure and function in order to enhance the body’s inherent ability to heal. It relies on skilled manual therapeutic techniques (though it is much more than a system of techniques) to assess and treat the client/patient, guiding the natural self-healing properties of the human body. The philosophy of Osteopathy is based on four basic principles:

1 The body is a unit – the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
2 The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
3 Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
4 Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, and the interrelationship of structure and function.

I was first introduced to Manual Osteopathy in 2001, and self-studied much of the literature for 2-3 years before undertaking training and courses for the use of manual techniques in the field. During my early manual osteopathy studies, I was introduced to Muscle EnergyTechniques (MET).  I am personally very fond of Muscle Energy Techniques and their original development by Fred L. Mitchell, Sr., D.O.  Reason being, I am a huge fan of shit that works, and MET, when applied correctly and at the appropriate time, works. Currently, I have a keen interest in the theory and mechanics involved with Osteopathy in the Cranial Field, and my thesis will cover a bit of this topic as it relates to permanent pain elimination. 

So (as I take a deep breath), what does that really entail for clients seeking my services…how do I help them, and, more importantly, how do I help them help themselves?

The Process

First and foremost, I orchestrate a consultation with my clients to discuss their case in detail, which is accomplished either in person or over the phone. Typically, I serve as a ‘last resort’ for the client. By the time they get to me, they have been through the medical ringer and have seen anywhere from a few to a dozen traditional professionals for their pain with little to no results. My job is to look where no one else is looking and “see” what no one else sees.

Following that, I conduct my assessment, which is based on evaluating the cranial nerves and Higher Order Reflexes in order to identify where the greatest roadblocks in structure and function are located (also a component of my upcoming thesis). From there, I use “non-manipulative,” hands-on, manual techniques combined with movement re-education in order to help clients eliminate their pain – for good. The client is always actively engaged in their rehabilitation process.

Clients will typically see me for one-on-one work for anywhere from 3 to 6 sessions (some less, some more, depending on the case), and I l always administer “homework” in order to speed the process along. Again, the client is always actively engaged in their rehabilitation process.

Ask anyone that has worked with me. They will tell you that I am a ‘why’ guy. My clients are extensively educated on why we are doing what we are doing for their particular case. I leave no stone unturned. Techniques I employ are very gentle, and the client’s body is the guide. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of aggressive or harsh techniques for joints or soft tissues. I prefer to work with the body rather than against it. As I always translate to my clientele, “Nothing I do is forceful…if you use force, the body will create a counterforce, and you will chase your tail forever.”

I am also a straight shooter. I do not blow sunshine up anyone’s rear end. I inform all of my clients that if they are not experiencing a pain reduction and an ability to move without pain within the first 3-6 sessions, I will refer them to someone who I feel may be better equipped to help them (this is rare, but it does happen).

It is not my objective to make clients dependent upon me. My goal is quite the opposite. I want to get my clients as self-reliant as possible, as fast as possible, and they can check back in every month or so, or as needed if something pops up for what I call a “tune-up” session. Those sessions may last 30 minutes and includes tweaks to their home program(s).

And there you have it: what I do on the physical side of my practice in a nutshell. I’m not sure if that effectively answers the question, but it’s what I have for you at the moment.

Thank you for reading!

Low Carb Bafoonery

Note: The following is an excerpt (about 5%) from the Truth about Carbohydrates Lesson in my Food First Program.

Sugar Got Hosed!
“Low-carb” approaches to DIE-ting have come and gone over the years since the approach of good ol’ Dr. Atkins became popular in the 90’s. We have now reached the point where just about everyone thinks that all carbohydrates are inherently “fattening.”

The current public view of carbohydrates and their role in human nutrition can be summed up in the following statements:

“Carbs spike your blood sugar.”
“Carbs make you gain weight and get fat, especially around the belly.”
“Carbs are not as important as proteins and fats.”

In many cases, cutting back on, or attempting to severely restrict, carbohydrate consumption can be tremendously detrimental to one’s physiology and health.

Here’s why:
The ridiculous statements above are taken out of context and represent an extremely narrow view of the biological complexity of carbohydrates and sugar. Oversimplification is the enemy here. In other words, they miss the forest through the trees.

The Price of Carbohydrate Restriction
“Low-carb” DIE-t, restricting your carbohydrate intake too drastically, or for too long a duration, can lead to the following:
• Decreased thyroid output
• Increased cortisol output
• Decreased testosterone
• Impaired mood and cognitive function
• Muscle catabolism (breakdown of tissues)
• Suppressed immune function

[Note: The above are magnified in the presence of any sort of regular exercise regimen.]

In other words, your metabolism actually slows down (both short and long-term), the stress response is initiated, and the output of stress hormones goes up, and your muscle-building hormones go down. None of these things are good if your goal is to build muscle, lose fat, and improve body composition (the way you look, neked!).



Carbohydrates, Thyroid, and Metabolism
Every single cell in the body requires thyroid hormone (T3) for optimal metabolic efficiency and energy production. Generally speaking, T3 is the most active of the thyroid hormones and plays a huge role in blood sugar regulation and proper metabolic function.

The thing is, the thyroid gland itself does not produce an abundance of T3; it does, however, produce quite a bit of T4. That T4 must be converted to the more active form, T3. This conversion is enzyme-dependent, and the majority of it takes place peripherally in the liver. The enzymes that are responsible for this conversion are known as type-1 deodinase and 5’ deodinase, respectively. The type-1 deodinase enzyme is glucose-dependent! This means that if enough glucose is not in sufficient supply, the conversion will be down-regulated (slowed or inhibited). This will lead to a decrease in overall T3 levels and a decrease in metabolic rate and efficiency. The other enzyme, 5’ deodinase, is actually selenium-dependent. Therefore, a selenium deficiency can also, potentially, lead to decreased T3 production.

Low T3 levels can lead to a condition some experts call euthyroid sick syndrome, in which people are constantly cold and very lethargic.

Research has demonstrated that T3 is very sensitive to caloric and carbohydrate intake. When calories and carbs are too low, and glucose is in short supply, your T3 levels drop. (Vermont Study)

It has, furthermore, been demonstrated that another hormone, called reverse T3 (rT3), is also sensitive to calorie and carbohydrate intake. Reverse T3, as the name implies, inhibits T3, and lowers metabolic rate and efficiency. What do you think happens to rT3 levels when one does not eat enough carbohydrates? You guessed it – rT3 levels go up and block the pro-metabolic effects of T3. On the flip side, eating the right amount of carbohydrates from the right sources can down-regulate (inhibit) rT3 production. That’s what we want!

Low-Carbohydrate Diet = High Cortisol and Low Testosterone
Yet another detrimental aspect of the low-carb approach is elevated levels of cortisol, particularly in those individuals who are participating in regular exercise. Keep in mind, that many individuals implementing the “low carb” approach are exercising themselves nearly to death on a weekly basis.

Research has consistently demonstrated that those who exercise with low carbohydrate consumption have a sharp decline in their testosterone and other anabolic hormones. These same individuals correspondingly exhibit higher levels of the catabolic (destructive) hormone, cortisol. This is the perfect recipe for losing muscle and gaining fat. I do not know of anyone with either of those as part of their health or performance-related goals.

Low Carb Bafoonery and Female Physiology
I have worked with countless women who attempt a “low-carb” nutritional approach in an effort to create short-term weight loss and/or long-lasting health. Unfortunately, this approach creates far more problems than it solves, long-term. The damaging effects of low-carbohydrate diets on hormonal physiology is far more pronounced in females than it is in males because, well, females are simply more fragile hormonally than males (no real shocker there).

Due to altered endocrine (hormones) physiology, here are a few of the issues that females are likely to experience as a result of their “low carb” efforts:
• Irregular or absence of menstrual cycle (amenorrhea)
• Decreased fertility
• Hypoglycemia and blood sugar swings
• More body fat
• Loss of bone density (cortisol and estrogen demineralize bone)
• Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues
• Chronic inflammation
• Swelling, water retention, and edema
• Chronic fatigue
• Various insomnia (sleep) issues
• A host of other chronic problems

None of the above issues are on any female’s “Wish List”. Yet, many of them continue to struggle with one or more effects as a direct result of the low-carbohydrate diets that are endorsed by the so-called “experts” in the world of nutrition. In some cases, I have seen females struggle with this approach for years, even a decade or more, and CONTINUE the same nutritional strategy. The amount of metabolic damage created with this approach is staggering. More of the same equals more of the same.

The End Game…
The $64,000 question is, “How many carbohydrates should I eat in a day?” The answer is…I don’t know. Carbohydrate consumption is highly individual and depends on a number of factors. Your goals, genetic make-up, the sources of the carbohydrates, activity level (type, duration, and frequency), total caloric intake, current carbohydrate consumption, total protein and fat intake, and many others.

It takes time and work to customize your carbohydrate intake for YOUR PHYSIOLOGY. Simply dropping carbohydrate intake in the basement because some “expert” says its a good idea is playing Russian Roulette with your physiology and metabolism. It’s not about “high carb” or “low carb.” It’s about the “right carb” intake for you at this moment in time.

If you are willing to put in the work to customize your carbohydrate intake (and overall nutrition – don’t get it twisted it’s not only about carbohydrates), you can repair metabolic damage, improve your physiology, and look and feel the way you want.

For those willing to put in the work, the “low carb” world of nutrition can be forever a thing of the past. More importantly, your physiology and health will thank you for it!

Experts, Calories, and Metabolism

I would like to preface everything below by stating that it is my personal style to point out when there is a problem with something. I have been this way my entire life, perhaps to a fault. Some see it as being negative or condescending. Some people think I am the most arrogant prick in the Western Hemisphere. Others love me for it. I see it as observation. When we know there is a problem, we could be very well served to call it out and then seek more effective and efficient ways of solving said problem. The problem must first be acknowledged. With that said…

How exactly does one become anointed as an “expert?”

I ask this because I have seen more so-called “experts” saying some of the dumbest shit I have ever heard and people actually believe the nonsense that comes out of their mouth.

Where nutrition is concerned, filed in the ‘dumbest shit ever folder’ is the “expert” advice that says losing weight is as simple as “calories in versus calories out.”

Let me be extremely clear here…any expert that spouts off this kind of ridiculousness is no expert at all. I stand by that no matter what “expert” is in question.

If you can spare a moment, I would like to share a story with you…

During my 16 years of helping people overcome virtually every health challenge you can image, I have had a ton of people seek my help for “weight loss.” One of the very first things that I do with most of my clients is to ask for a 3-5 day food and exercise log. What I have observed amongst the individuals that are seeking “weight loss” is that they are typically eating somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 to 1,400 calories on an average day. Most of said individuals have been eating that way for a very long time…sometimes a decade or more (true story – and I immediately got hungry after typing that). Along with their low calorie intake comes numerous hours at the gym doing some form of what can easily be classified as physical abuse.  So…we have a large population of people that are barely eating enough food to survive while at the same time beating the living crap out of themselves in the gym (as much as 10 hours a week in my experience), and they are getting bigger while they do it.

The thing that people need to understand that many of the “experts” dispensing advice are not telling them is that the human body is not stupid. In fact, for my money, it’s the smartest thing that exists (right up there with Mother Nature herself). If you go on a diet that involves radical caloric restriction – yes, the ever-popular 1,200 calories a day classifies as caloric restriction – the body will respond to that stressor appropriately.  True, you may lose some weight; hell, you may even lose a lot of weight initially, but eventually the metabolic damage you create will catch up with you. If you are in a hypocaloric state (not eating enough calories) for an extended period of time, you do not have a snowball’s chance in hell of having optimal thyroid function. Why that’s important is because it is the thyroid that governs pretty much your entire metabolism. In fact, it does not even take much longer than one damn day for the negative effects of not eating enough real food to begin to manifest. Consider this – within 24 hours, yes just 24 measly hours, of going on a low calorie diet, which is defined as eating less than 1800-2000 calories per day (according to the World Health Organization), you immediately begin to disrupt your brain chemistry. You also are likely to increase fat storing (lipogenic) enzymes in the body.  This is particularly important for females who already have three times the amount of fat storing (lipogenic) enzymes as fat burning (lipolytic) ones.  This does not even take into account what happens to the thymus gland and your immune system (hint – the thymus begins to shrink and immunity starts a downward spiral into the toilet). Any changes in brain chemistry (neurotransmitter balance, etc.) will lead to cravings; another reason people who are on such “diets” tend to binge eat.  Low calorie dieting is especially damaging for anyone with a history of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or alcoholism.  Remember, all of this occurs after a SINGLE DAY.  Why set yourself up for failure by eating this way?  Anyone with a history of chronic low-calorie dieting is most certainly going to have severe issues with their physiology, including but not limited to, altered energy production, hormonal imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and so on.

When I see someone essentially eating the nutritional equivalent of a cardboard box on a daily basis, the very first priority is to have that individual SLOWLY increase their caloric intake until they are eating like an actual human being. Once we have an acceptable amount of food and calories actually being brought on board, we can then begin the process of fine-tuning meal frequency, macronutrient ratios, and discussing effective weight loss and body composition strategies.  Quick side story…I recall one of my clients in Canada who was in her late 30’s and could not drop an ounce of weight no matter how little she ate or how much she exercised. Turns out she was eating about 900-1,100 calories a day (some days struggled to get that much in) and had been doing so for over 4 years!  Roughly eight months later, she had doubled her caloric intake, decreased the amount of time she was exercising, and lost 13 pounds from where she started (initially gained 12 so actually lost 25 total). On top of that, she had a regular cycle for the first time since she was 16, was sleeping better, and her skin cleared up. That’s not a long period of time to accomplish something she was trying to achieve for over 6 years time. She is certainly not the only story of her kind.

A lot of people do not enjoy this process.  Admittedly, the above client did not enjoy it either.  Why?  Because it often leads to weight gain initially. Most see this as a bad thing, but the truth is that this is the healthiest way to repair the metabolic damage created from months or years of abuse. Sadly, I have had more than a few clients work with other professionals that unfortunately further decrease their caloric intake in an effort to shed the weight. How someone can make such a recommendation is honestly beyond my comprehension.

In the end, I have seen people gain weight eating as little as 800 calories a day while exercising themselves to death – very little calories in and an assload (that’s a technical term) of calories out. I have also seen people get leaner and lose weight eating 3,000 calories per day exercising less than they ever have previously – more calories in and less calories out. The calories in versus calories out game for weight loss and improved body composition is completely full of shit. People or “experts” promoting that as any kind of a solution to anything need a hard lesson in physiology and metabolic efficiency because they clearly know very little about either.

Anatomy of a Goal

There are basically two types of people in this crazy world: proactive people and reactive people. Believe it or not, that’s it. Everyone you know will fall into one of those two simple categories. While a dissertation with a ridiculous word count could be written to compare and contrast the two, from my perspective, the basic difference is that proactive people co-create the Life they want while reactive people sit around and hope things will happen.

My intent for this article is to share an “on-the-surface” outline of how I feel proactive people are able to co-create exactly what they want. [Please note that what follows is my take on an article written over 12 years ago by Coach Charles Staley entitled Goal Orientation]. With the dawn of yet another New Year comes the nauseating (at least for me) New Year’s Resolutions and attempted goal setting. Here is how you can actually achieve what you are looking to achieve in 2016!

When looking at setting and achieving goals, the questions that must be answered are:
1. What exactly do you want? Stated differently, what is your goal?
2. How badly do you really want it?
3. How serious are you? No…really, how serious?
4. Have you considered what you will have to give up to get it?

Let’s explore each of these questions individually:

What Do You Want / What is your goal?
For the purpose of this post, I will use Charles Staley’s definition of a goal (as a side note Charles is one of the best Physical Preparation Specialists and strength coaches in the world and has been for a very long time).

A goal is: a written expression of desire to accomplish a specific, personally meaningful objective within a specific, predetermined time-frame. It might interest you to know that there is good research that shows that fewer than 2% of all people have even a single written goal at any time.

A couple of points to make with reference to the definition above.

A goal must be stated in writing: If it is not written, it is not a goal. Writing something down is the very first step in manifesting a goal as a physical reality. The ancestor to every action is a thought. Write those thoughts (goals) down. It may be a wish, or a weak desire, maybe even a fantasy, but it is not a goal if you do not write the damn thing down. Period. This is where you reach for pencil and paper…

A goal must be specific and measurable: Emphasis here is the word specific. Your desires to “be a better business owner” or “look a little better in a bikini” are not goals. They are merely statements that are entirely too vague. We need to specify which parts you want to look better and in what way, or in what areas you plan to improve your entrepreneurial skills. For the latter goal, we need to discuss body composition and what kind of objective we have here. In order to be specific, your goal must be measurable in some way. In this bikini case, specific body fat percentage and circumference measurements are warranted.

Why Do You Want It?
Few people investigate this aspect of goal setting. This is a disservice to the process of goal attainment because as Simon Sinek (author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last) says, “It all starts with Why!”

A goal must be personally meaningful and be worthy of your unconditional love and resolve. The most important word in that previous sentence is “personally.” If the desire to achieve your goal is being driven by anything outside of yourself – trust me, you have set yourself up for failure right from the start. Your ‘why’ must have real value to YOU. The desire to lose a few inches off of your waistline because your wife says you are looking a little soggy around the midsection is not the best energy to place behind your goal of achieving a better looking body. Next, consider if this goal is really worth the considerable time and effort that it will take to manifest. If not, redefine your goal or go back to the drawing board and create an entirely new one altogether.

What will you have to give up in order to achieve your goal? This is an important question to consider. In order to achieve your goal, you will have to dedicate substantial energy and resources to the cause. There may be “things” that do not serve to move you towards your goal at the appropriate speed that may need to be given up. As a rather crude example, if you desire to improve body composition, you may have to give up eating a nightly bowl of ice cream. You may also have to give up partying until 2 a.m. in the morning in favor of restorative sleep. Time glued to the television may be better served dedicated to food preparation and gym time.
Given that the following is true:

More of the Same + More of the Same = More of the Same…

You know that in order to achieve something other than what you currently have, changes will have to be made and “things” that do not serve you in becoming the greatest version of your Self are best if given up and discarded.

A goal must be challenging, but definitely not impossible: If your goal is not challenging, you are not likely to set in motion the energy it will require to attain it.

How Long Will it Take?

Most of the “experts” will tell you that a goal must have a specific date of completion because time-frames and dead lines are what create pressure to get the job done. I disagree. How long will it take? Who cares? For me, it’s about falling in the love with the process of achieving the goal – the process of becoming the greatest version of your Self.

Anyone who is truly great at their craft – be they an elite athlete, coach, therapist, entrepreneur, musician, singer, author, etc. has been in love with the process of becoming great (no I am not saying that it is always sunshine and rainbows). Greatness may or may not have been the goal the entire time, but the love of the process was a pre-requisite to their greatness. If you do choose to place a deadline for your goal, the time frame for your goal(s) must be aggressive, but also realistic as well as flexible. Your time-frame can be modified on the fly in the event that you experience set backs or advances during your journey. A sound strategy that I have observed in proactive people is that they are always prepared for a “setback” and respond readily and positively to them. Above all, enjoying the journey to obtaining the goal is a critical aspect of the proactive individual.

To Share or Not to Share?
Let’s face it – a LOT of people just plain ol’ suck; and really do not want you to succeed – if that offends you, too bad.  In fact, deep down, many of them are routing for you to fail. These people take many forms and are quite often some of the people that you are closest to (spouse, parent, child, sibling, and co-workers, all the way down to the nonsensical, random acquaintances that you may experience).

Depending on your personal psychology, you may not want to automatically express your goal to everyone you know. Considering the various levels of consciousness around you, you are likely to receive a wide array of responses when you share your goals with others. For example, if you thrive on proving people wrong (picture me raising my hand with a really excited look on my face here), then it may serve you to express your goals to those who are most likely to doubt your abilities. By the same token, if you have thin skin and prefer only positive feedback, avoiding such people like the plague in favor of those who will be nurturing and supportive of what you are trying to accomplish is probably a better battlefield strategy.

It has been my experience for the past 16 years that if you are pursuing challenging goals, especially those that involve taking your health, body/fitness, and vitality to the next level, “herd mentality” will view you as a freak, an outsider, a weirdo, an outcast, or perhaps an idiot. It is also my opinion that these people are simply pissed that you are doing what they themselves want to do, but do not do for various reasons. If this drives you, use the negativity of others as fuel and enjoy the journey of completing what others say cannot be done.

Fear of Failure
F.E.A.R. stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Do not let fear stand in the way of you achieving a meaningful goal in your life. As Caroline Myss, PhD has stated, “Take the riskiest path you can find.” There is much more to say here but I will leave it at that for now.

Are You Moving towards the Goal at the Appropriate Speed?
Once you have created your achievement plan and have put your nose to the dirt, you need to have a reliable way of assessing whether or not your plan is working. You must test quantifiable outcomes on predetermined dates, and then implement changes if these tests do not reveal the kind of progress you seek (being prepared for setbacks). When implementing change, it is critical to change one variable at a time, while holding all other variables constant. This will allow you to fine-tune your approach to achieving your goals most efficiently and effectively. Remember, even if things do not go according to plan, one with a plan will usually outperform one with no plan.

And there you have it – The Anatomy of a Goal. Take these things into account and enjoy being proactive. Having said all of that, and I realize that was a lot of stuff, I would like to leave you with a quote to meditate on which basically makes most of what is written above completely irrelevant – how great is that:

I am personally a pretty big fan of Taoism.
“‘Tao’ means the way — they don’t talk about the goal. The goal will take care of itself; you need not worry about the goal. If you know the way, you know the goal, because the goal is not at the very end of the way, the goal is all over the way — each moment and each step it is there. To be on the way is to be in the goal.”

Creating the Body You Really Want

Webster’s defines health as, “the condition of being sound in body, mind or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain.” In just a few short days, gyms across the country will be flooded with people (many of them for only about a month or so) engaging in the annual New Year’s quest of creating a new, happy, healthier-looking body in 2014.

First, let me say that health, wellness, fitness, etc. are all relative terms and depend solely on an individual’s perception. What is healthy to me may not be healthy to you. Further, health and fitness are not the same by any means. If you have no health issues or pain of any kind but cannot get up off of the sofa without grabbing your own head to lift it off the pillow – you are not fit. By the same token, if you can dead lift 600 pounds, run a sub-5 minute mile, and perform 50 consecutive wide grip chin ups on a 4010 tempo, but you have cancer – you are fit, but not healthy.

My personal definition of health is as follows: an individual can be deemed healthy if s/he is capable of living his/her life according to his/her own truths and principles; as well, one must view his/her life as one with meaning and purpose while optimally integrating the elements of mind, body, and spirit. That is my definition and it may or may not be a far cry from what your definition of health is.

What Do People Want?

Being in the health, fitness, and rehabilitation industry since 1999, I have been fortunate to learn a thing or two. One of the things that I have learned is that most potential clients and people in the general population are solely after improving the way they look. In other words, people want to look better naked. It does not matter that they have headaches, chronic sleep deprivation, disc pathologies, blood-sugar problems, joint instabilities, gut dysfunction, parasite infections, blown shoulders, torn knee ligaments, cranio-facial pain, neuropathies, central nervous system problems, etc., etc., they simply want to feel great about what they see when they look into a mirror. I have mentioned in previous posts that I am all for being motivated to make radical body transformations, as most people think that if someone is “fit” that s/he is also healthy and that they must be “fit” in order to be “healthy.” The issue at hand here is whether or not people know what it really takes to make the type of body transformations they seek?

What It Really Takes

When I ask audiences that I speak to what they believe the number one contributing factor to successful body transformation is – I typically get one of two responses: (1) Discipline or (2) Consistency. These are great answers, but in my opinion they only scratch the surface of what it really takes to make a real body transformation successful.

Most feel that in order to create that new body, they have to have a great training routine that they religiously stick to week in and week out. Though this is true, training is only one piece of the body transformation puzzle. Training is definitely important, but along with the training routine, someone requires proper hydration, the correct nutrition and supplementation, adequate rest and recovery, proper stress reduction techniques, and perhaps above all of that – living a lifestyle that is actually conducive to building muscle and losing fat.

Not to make it sound more difficult than it is, but creating a new body is not something you can focus on for a few training sessions in a week, or for a few meals per day.Creating a new body is literally a 24/7 commitment. Why? Because everything you think, say, and do, impacts how your body is going to look. There is no aspect of your life that does not have an effect on what you see in the mirror. I will say that again – there is no aspect of your life that does not have an effect on what you see in the mirror.Therefore, yes – mindset and discipline are important, but we are still on the surface of what it really takes to make real, lasting body transformations.

Discipline is Outdated

If you peel the layers of the onion back a bit, you will find that there actually is no such thing as discipline. Yes, you read that correctly – I said there is no such thing as discipline. Rather, there is only Love. World renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin wrote an article entitled The Myth of Discipline where he explains this concept very eloquently. Basically, it all boils down to what you truly love. Either you are in love with your Self and the new body that you desire, or you love cupcakes, donuts, lattes, etc. more. That’s it. It is really not that complicated. What you love is what you are going to be truly willing to work for.

In my experience, most people love lots of things and the majority of those things are outside of themselves. They struggle with making decisions for themselves because of that. As an example, how many mothers do you know who have completely lost themselves in their role as mother? I know a lot of them. Every decision they make is based on the wants and perceived needs of others (their children, a spouse, family, co-workers, friends, etc.) and this has them sacrificing themselves as a result. They are always at the bottom of their own priority list. This will produce a progressive energy drain on the vital systems of the body leaving the mother with no energy left to invest in her wants and her needs. This kind of behavior can lead to an individual who harbors a tremendous amount of resentment towards Self and others. They want to invest the time and the energy to train and eat properly to create a new body but they “don’t have time because of my kids.” This is usually where I share with them the simple truth that you can only be as good to others as you are to yourself. How can you take a gallon from a 10-ounce cup? The answer is….you can’t. Now, before I get slammed with e-mails from parents – no, I am not a parent, so I have no practical experience to speak of when it comes to children. My lack of parenting experience has no bearing on the fact that you cannot give what you do not have. How effective of a parent can one really be if s/he is tired, irritable, angry, resentful, depressed, never invests in themselves, and is generally unhappy all the time?

So What is the Real Question

What is it that you really love? Ultimately, as my mentor Paul Chek has taught me, self-esteem equals changeability.The more self-esteem, or Self Love someone has, the easier they are capable of making changes, particularly when those changes have them doing things that go against “herd” mentality. The less Self Love someone has the less apt they are to make positive and loving changes for themselves – so they stay in relationships that they hate and keep jobs that make them miserable for years and even decades. That, by any definition, is not healthy. This is an important point that has immense carryover into being able to create a body transformation of any kind.

So when you go to a restaurant and decide to order a steak with grilled vegetables and request that your vegetables not be grilled with some synthetic, genetically modified oil in favor of real butter and you request your steak to be cooked without seasoning so that you can add your self-brought organic Celtic Sea Salt and cracked black pepper to it, while everyone else is ordering fried chicken fingers with mashed potatoes and gravy with extra gravy, French fries, and a diet coke, do you Love your Self enough to not give a rat’s ass about all of the flack that you will likely take from the others at the table? Can you hold to your decision in the midst of ridicule, or will you fold like a tent and give in to the pressure of the “herd.” In accordance with my personal definition of health given in the first paragraph, a “healthy” person can easily “stick to their guns” and will let the “herd” think what they want.

Being honest with who you are and with what you really want is what it will take to transform your body. If your desire to create a new body is backed by Love, nothing can stop you from creating it. Love is the most powerful and transformative energy in the Universe and it dissolves any fears or roadblocks to success. It is a lack of Self Love that has so many people running from diet to diet, seeking the next miracle supplement or fitness gadget that will melt the fat off of their body with “no change in diet or exercise habits” – I love that one (pardon the pun). Bottom line – they do not love themselves enough to make greater loving decisions for themselves.

Always ask the question – “What would love do?” If you are trying to create a new body and you go to the gym and are debating whether to do chin ups or lat pulls downs, what would a loving and compassionate expert tell you to do?Chin ups of course. Front squats or leg extensions? Front squats – without question.

Success Through Selfishness

Caroleen Jones has coined something called the 15% Rule. I am a huge proponent of this rule. She states that 15% of the hours that you spend awake in any given day should belong to yourself. Therefore, if you typically wake up at 6 a.m. and go to sleep around 10 p.m., a little over 2 hours in each day needs to be devoted to your Self and doing things that you love and that will bring you joy. These are to be activities that are to be solely for your benefit and no one else’s. I can share with you how I spend my 15% – in the gym, meditating, and reading/learning. Those are the things that I enjoy that are for me and no one else (though it can certainly be argued that my clients benefit from my learning, but hey, hopefully you get my point).

Personally, I feel that devoting 85% of your time to others and only 15% of your time to things that make you happy does not even qualify as being selfish, but so few of us adhere to the 15% Rule that when we come across someone who actually does – s/he is labeled as selfish. It is only out of a Love for Self that Love for anything else can really manifest. Sadly, many people feel that making themselves a priority is somehow “wrong.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

So How Do You Change Your Body?

If you are looking for a new aesthetic appeal, you will need to feed the cells of your body thoughts of Love and gratitude, in addition to clean, organic food and clean water, along with a properly designed exercise program, the right amount of sleep, blah, blah, blah. Getting in touch with your Self will also help you find your weight loss solution. You can begin the process of loving your Self in the following ways:

Figuring out what makes you happy. Many of us struggle with this. An easy way to do this is to sit quietly in a room alone and meditate on this question, “What would I do if I knew I 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.”

Accept the truth that your decisions and actions have created the body (and Life) 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. By that definition, not many of us are truly healthy, but it calls for you to 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 and to help you progress to your next level of development at the appropriate speed. You would be well served not to make decisions based on your past. What is important is what you do with the energy of now.

Next, you must forgive yourself now that you have accepted what has happened. Until you can forgive yourself for your own actions and reactions, there is still a “thing” in your way of achieving that ideal body that you want. This “thing” has energy; it still attracts consciousness and will continue to 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 decisions, new thoughts, and new habits.

Be grateful for the wonderful positive people, circumstances, and objects in your life today. Every night write a list of 10 things for which you are most grateful. You can call this a Grateful Log. Read this first thing when you wake up 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.

Love how you look. Realize first that the body you currently have is the only vehicle you get to navigate this physical journey we call life. Since it is the only one you get, you would be well served to love it now – in its entirety – exactly as it is. Your physical body does not even belong to the “you” that you know. Try this little exercise: Hold your hand up in front of your face. Now ask yourself, whose hand is this? Meditate on your answer for a while and see where it takes you.

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 de Chardin once said, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings who are living a physical experience.”

BE SELFISH ENOUGH TO LOVE YOUR SELF! Realize that loving your Self – contrary to popular belief – is the most unselfish thing you can do! As stated earlier, you simply cannot give what you do not have. As you learn to love your Self, you will also serve as a shining example for others to be able to travel that same journey to Self love and release their shame about their own bodies and come to peace within themselves. As Gandhi has stated, you must, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

By having more love for your Self, I have no doubts that you can create whatever kind of body you so desire. So………… much Love do you have?

Yours in Health and Happiness,

Brandon J. Alleman

Creating Health

How many people do you know that have been on a “diet” or a very strict eating plan of some kind?  I know of, and have worked, with many.  Some of these individuals have even been very successful in their efforts.  I have known more than a few clients that have lost 50+ pounds through aggressive exercise routines and strict, regimented eating programs.  The thing is – not a single one of them were ever successful at keeping the weight off permanently.
These individuals have demonstrated a tremendous amount of determination, self-discipline, and willingness to put in the effort to lose the weight – only to end up right back where they started.  As a matter of fact, most of these people end up gaining all of the weight back PLUS at least 8% of the lost amount.  So if you lose 50 pounds, within one year, you are likely to gain back at least 54!  Sound familiar?  Sound frustrating?  Having to go through all of the pain and suffering of endless hours in the gym, probably executing exercise that is not even enjoyable, along with ridiculous strict dieting only to have to start the process all over again.  What is the definition of insanity again?
The situation at hand here is that individuals in the above scenario have learned to be effective dieters, but they have not learned how to be inherently healthy people.   Being able to “diet” does not create health…in fact, it often has the opposite effect.  Throughout the journey of dieting and destructive exercise, these individuals were never taught and certainly never cultivated the attributes of actually Be-ing healthy.  After working with clients with just about every imaginable health issue – and some that are unimaginable – I have observed certain characteristics of successful and truly healthy individuals.  Some of them are listed here:
1. Healthy people have a healthy relationship with food.  Healthy people do not view food as an obstacle that they must overcome to achieve a desired look.  They have an appreciation for the food that sustains life supporting biological processes.  They enjoy the food that they eat and recognize that eating good food is a way of nourishing mind, body, and Spirit.  They are conscious of the effect(s) of the foods that they eat on their energy levels, mental clarity, sleep quality, mood, and overall disposition.  They Love food for the opportunity it affords to sustain Life and Live the physical experience.
2. Healthy people do not follow the advice of “diet” books and are rarely on “diets”.  Truly healthy people have no need for “gimmick” diets and the so-called “expert” advice of the commercially available “diet” books.  Skipping meals, restricting calories, tapeworms, and feeding tubes from the nose to the stomach are completely foreign concepts that have no hold on their consciousness.  They eat freely of healthy foods as close to the way that Mother Nature herself provides them.  They do not go to extremes when it comes to their nutrition – in fact, they will steer clear of extremes in favor of balance, always.  They eat plenty of food and enjoy doing it.
3. Healthy people accept and Love their body and treat it with respect. The somewhat unpleasant fact here is that most people treat their body with blatant disrespect.  Using their stomach as a garbage can and giving no thought to what effect processed foods, chemicals, GMO’s, etc., have on the only vehicle they have for this Lifetime (not to mention the effect on the planet as a whole).  Truly healthy people have a great appreciation for the vehicle used to navigate the physical journey we call Life.  As such, they respect their bodies by choosing to put good “fuel” into it so that they can offer their best to the world each and every day. 
4. Healthy people do not attempt to compete with anyone – other than themselves.  Healthy people know the truth – there is no point in competing with others when it comes to body shape, size, or anything for that matter.  The only person a healthy individual competes with is themselves.  To better themselves a little each day is the only real concern.  “Keeping up with the Jones’” can be left to everyone else who is a fan of being a slave to the good opinion of other people.  A truly healthy person values their own opinion and makes decisions based their defined Core Values.  
5. Healthy people participate in enjoyable movement.  The locomotor system was designed for movement.  All healthy people move regularly in some way.  That movement may take any number of forms – Tai Chi, Yoga, Weight Training, Pilates, Walking, Sports, hiking, bike riding, Qi Gong, etc., etc.  Movement is Life and healthy people know this.  Having said that, stagnation is not the enemy – it can be quite useful.  Stagnation is an illusion of the Mind to spark the Body to change its repetitive tendencies.  If you are stagnant for long enough, the Body will encourage movement in one way or other.  Engaging in the right amount and type of exercise each day, week, and month is a necessary component of keeping the body healthy.  Movement is needed to pump fluid and energy through the vital organ systems of the body.  All healthy people choose to engage in a form of movement that they enjoy and they use it to establish a more intimate relationship with their body and how they feel. 
6. Healthy people take time for themselves.
Every single person on this planet makes decisions in their Life based on a given set of established/learned priorities.  What people are really saying when they say, “I don’t have time for ——,” is that they do not value ——, therefore they are unwilling to make time for it.  Healthy people value themselves and choose to make themselves a high priority in Life.  As such, you can regularly find them taking time for themselves to enjoy something that is authentically their own.  Some might mistake this for selfishness – it is not.  Taking time for yourself to do something that you truly enjoy is realizing the truth – you only get one Life (that you consciously remember in most cases) and it important to spend a good chunk of it doing things you enjoy.  A general rule of thumb is to dedicate 15% of the time you are awake each day to yourself.
In conclusion – truly healthy people do not take the Body for granted.  They take time every day, in one form or another (food, breath, movement, etc.) to get to know it, understand it, and learn from it.
Truly healthy people Love their Body.

Realize the truth – you already have a perfect body.  It was created that way.  Simply learn to give the Body what it requires and get yourself out of the way.
You will be amazed at the state of health that is created in the process.


Thanks for reading : )

Brandon J. Alleman