Monday, March 13, 2017

Forced to Quit

There will be times in your life where you are forced to quit. You will not be given the choice of whether or not you want to continue, no matter how much you want to. It’s a cutthroat world out there, and you just didn’t make the team. What do you do then? Wallow in depression? Say mean things to yourself? Give up? Or do you use it to better yourself?

They'll never find me in here. I'll never disappoint anyone ever again.

As a youth, I was fortunate enough to have parents who saw the value in allowing me to try various sports, even if it was for just a short while just to see if I liked it. One of the sports I really enjoyed was soccer. I played all throughout elementary school on the community ed teams. I wasn’t any good, with my asthma, lack of limb-ball coordination, and great ability to get bored and distracted easily. I got moved from forward, to half back, to goalie, and finally settled in the fullback/defense position (as it put me in a position of the least amount of responsibility). I couldn’t control the ball while running, or even stationary. I had only ever made one goal in my entire soccer career, and that was during a practice with an open goal. I was terrible. But I really liked it. 

And then one day, I found out that in order for me to continue playing soccer, I had to play through the school system, on a team, because community ed activities were only for grades 6 and below. So of course, I tried out for the team. And of course I didn’t make it. That was the end of my soccer career. If I was allowed to continue, even on a remedial team, I probably would have still quite enjoyed myself, and developed my skills even more. 

On the flip side, another sport that I was actively participating in and enjoying at the time was martial arts, namely Taekwondo (turns out, I like to kick things). 

Thankfully I didn't have to defend my choice of wardrobe.

I also wasn’t great at it, but the difference was that I got a lot more instruction on how to improve my skills, and my progress depended solely on how much time and effort I put into practicing. It didn’t matter if the person next to me was better than me, or even if I was the worst person in the room. I was still allowed to stay, I was still allowed to participate. They never forced me to quit. Because of that, I was able to improve in a way that allowed me to actually be invited onto a traveling competition team, where I got to go to some fun places all over the country and the world, and experience things I never would have otherwise. Years later, I even entered in an MMA tournament last minute for fun while on vacation in Asia! This was all because they let the slow kid have an opportunity to continue. 

James Harrison and Michael Jordan are other great examples of kids who were kicked off teams in grade school, not allowed to play, and turned that into their motivation to excel. Albert Einstein was told he’d never amount to anything. 

You also don’t have to want to be great at something to do it. If you enjoy it, that’s enough reason. Isn’t that enough reason to do most anything? 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Everyone Needs Someone

If you want to be more successful, allow others to help you.

Coaches need coaches.

Teachers need teachers.

Therapists need therapists.

As a coach, educator, and therapist myself, I am a proponent of practicing what I preach. I move daily, play often, and try to take as good of care of myself as I can. But when I'm physically hurting to a certain degree, it can become difficult for me to retain the attention span and patience to be able to treat myself. I make a horrible patient if I am the therapist. I need help from someone else.

Over the weekend, I had the honor of helping my good friend and therapeutic movement guru Dr. Perry Nickelston from Stop Chasing Pain with a shoulder injury that quickly worsened throughout the day on his last day of a 4-day teaching event. Of course he could have probably done something about it himself, but teaching for 4 days in a row is draining, and he had some excellent therapists who were right there and were willing to help. After being asked, and assured he wasn't taking up others' time and energy, he succumbed to offers of treatment. Instead of going back go his hotel feeling drained, irritated, and in pain, he pushed any ego he had (which isn't much to begin with) to the side, opened himself to receiving help, and felt much better, more energetic, and happier.

(Getting out of pain can be fun!)

It takes a lot of courage and humbleness to be able to not hide a chink in your armor, show vulnerability and ask others for help in fixing it. Remember, you're not in this journey alone. There are people who are willing and ready to help you, just as you are them. Don't forget that accepting/receiving is necessary with giving.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Do You Really Need to Warm Up?

I haven't warmed up or foam rolled in over 2 years, and yet I feel fantastic physically. I move well, I lift heavy, and I enjoy my workouts/playtime more because I don't have to spend extra time doing things that aren't conducive to my workout goals. In fact, my movement quality has increased dramatically in the last 2 years, and I contribute not warming up or foam rolling to that.

Let me explain.

It started with the idea of experimenting with getting my soft tissue to a higher quality tone (so, as few knots, sticky spots, etc as possible) without the use of massage (whether it be from a therapist or a lacrosse ball/foam roller). After all, old school martial artists (especially Kung Fu-type martial arts) never had these tools, nor did they get regular massages, yet they can move like none other! I began exploring different ways to manipulate my soft tissue through movement, and found that foam rollers, though useful with the right implementations, aren't necessary about 95% of the time.

How the hell am I supposed to travel with all this shit??

The key: Mobility work with attentiveness and intention.

I prepare my body to do what I want it to do later. I'm making sure the joints move as they should. Muscles follow joints. Joints follow muscles. I get them working as they should, and then they can be used correctly during my workout. If your joints and muscles work correctly during your workout, you get much bigger gainz, no matter what your goal.

Before any planned strenuous workout that I do (anything from hand balance stuff/stupid human tricks, heavy lifts, martial arts, mobility, flexibility, etc), instead of just going through a series of movements that will "get the blood flowing" or smashing my soft tissue with round objects, I'll do mobility drills, focusing on the parts of my body that will be worked (which 99% of the time is everything). I don't do any stretching, physical warming (ie jump rope/jog in place/jumping jacks). Only mobility. If I feel like my breathing needs attention, I'll give a couple minutes to breathing, and then be conscious about that while I do my mobility. If my back ("Stega") is feeling funky, I'll get it back in line and be conscious of that during my mobility and my workout. But the rest of it is simply just good quality mobility (NOT flexibility) work! The whole thing takes maybe 2-5 minutes before I start with my actual workout. I'm not sweating, I'm not tired, I feel refreshed, and ready to use my energy towards my workout, and not on my warm up. My brain and body also have a much better connection because of it, making my actual workouts even more effective.


(edit: If I'm lifting heavy that day, I'll do a set or two of lighter lifts after my mobility and build up to heavy....but that *should* be common sense to any experienced lifter)

After my workout, I might do some more mobility stuff if I feel like my workout would make me sore anywhere, or if something in my workout made Stega upset (it's pretty sensitive, despite what's depicted on social media). Making sure my body is working properly before and after my workouts/playtime allows me the freedom to not have to rely on outside sources to take care of my body, and is a more complete approach to soft tissue care.

To be absolutely transparent, in the last few years, I have gotten a few full body massages (for self-pampering purposes, not therapeutic), and each time, the therapist would assume I had regular bodywork done because of the quality of my soft tissue.

Since then, many of my physical capabilities have gotten better than they ever have in my life, I don't have to explain to airport security why I have a ball with metal in it (lacrosse ball) in my carry on every time I travel, and I don't have to look for "something to foam roll with" when I want to get a workout in. Less is more. Mobility is the the perfect movement prep. Ironic, isn't it?

Move it or Lose it. 

Move With A Purpose

There are many reasons for movement:

- Cardiovascular health
- Therapeutic (emotional/mental/physical)
- Strength
- Skill
- Energy management
- Mood elevation
- Creating an energy deficiency (ie, fat/weight loss)
- Transportation
- Survival
- Fun
- Etc...

If you move without purposeful intention, you will be less successful with your goal.

Example: If you want to increase active range of motion in your shoulder, but just swing it around as you would for fun, it will take you longer to increase your active range of motion than if you were to perform AROM-increasing-specific movements.

The "Wacky Wild Inflatable Tube Man" Workout Program won't get you very far in your shoulder rehab, sorry.
...But it'd be a great way to entertain!

Or, if you want to move for transportation, get from Point A to Point B quickly, but all you do is running high knees (like you would for cardiovascular health), it won't be very conducive to getting to Point B quickly.

Running in place definitely won't get you to the grocery store very quickly, 
but you might end up driving there because you're so hungry from using all that energy!!

Of course, there are some purposes that can overlap/be paired if done properly. Let's say you wanted to get from Point A to Point B quickly, you could sprint. Sprinting would qualify as efficient transportation as well as increasing cardiovascular ability and explosive power. You could also focus on sprint techniques/mechanics while you're sprinting to get to Point B, and use transportation as a secondary purpose that comes as a result from a primary purpose of improving a skill.

You can work on your sprint techniques while being chased by a hungry mountain lion. 
Bam. Multitasking.

Combining purposes of movement can be pretty fun, as long as you put some educated thought behind it to make them successful.

Find your purpose, and then structure how you move around that purpose.

What's your purpose for movement?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Preventing the “Gradual” Disaster

The most dangerous thing we can do to ourselves is to let things happen to us gradually. It’s the little things over the long run that shape us, physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. If you’ve ever heard the anecdote about the frog that got cooked in a pot without even noticing, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who put on 15 pounds in 3 years, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who’s been in a shitty relationship for a long time, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who went bankrupt after years of keeping their head above the water, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I swear, I just walked in and the dog was just there. 

How the hell did this happen? definitely wasn't overnight, I'll tell you that much.

It’s easy to overlook or ignore the little things we do or allow to happen to us in daily life. An extra snack or meal once in a while is fine, but on a regular basis can turn into an extra 3 lbs gained a year. 5 pounds doesn’t seem like much, nor a year seem like an inappropriate amount of time to have weight “fluctuate” 5 pounds, but after 5 years (which comes sooner than we realize, as we all know), and 25 pounds later, we’re wondering how that much weight “snuck on” when we didn’t have any changes to our lifestyle. 

Getting in 5 hours of sleep versus your necessary 7 or 8 is ok once in a while, but when it becomes a habit and your body adjusts, it will start to increase in cortisol levels, leading to higher stress levels, cravings, weight gains, weight loss, and possibly other hormonal issues. A couple years later, and you find yourself 15 pounds heavier, digestive issues, moody, and always tired. But you didn’t change anything. 

Allowing tiny irks from your romantic partner that you know bother you might be ok at first, but if not addressed, could turn into a relationship filled with resentment and annoyance that is hard to get out of, simply because of convenience and amount of time already invested. Even abusive relationships start out fun an innocent, and the first instance of abuse may not have been very severe, or just brushed off, but allowed to continue, can turn into years, decades, or even generations of abuse.

Spending the $5 on a coffee might seem like chump change because it’s only $5, but do that on the weekdays equals ~20x/month, $100/month, and $1200/year. Just on coffee. Add other regular small purchases, like a subscription you never use for $10/month ($120/year), the occasional pair of shoes ($100 avg) once a month ($1200) that you probably will either only wear fewer than 5 times if at all, gym membership you never use but is just too cheap to cancel ($14.99/month = $180/year), an extra meal out a week because you were too lazy to cook ($15x50 weeks = $750/year), and then you find yourself at the end of the year with no money for Christmas presents (which to me is a whole other blog-worthy topic), even though you effectively wasted $3,450 on just the said items above. 

It’s the little things, done regularly, that shape who we are, and what situations we find ourselves in. So, like we would do for children and puppies, we want to keep things in check for ourselves to prevent future “not sure why/how it happened” disasters. Do a regular “check in” with yourself. This way you can identify any issues early on, and choose to be proactive to prevent the continuation of those issues. Perhaps it’s once a month, once every 3 months, or even once a year. I like to do a bit of each. Every month, I do my financial P&L for my businesses, goals/projects progress check, and personal life check. Because one month is only a small snippet of time in the year, I will also take a quick look at the past 3 months while I’m doing those checks. I’ll look at trends along with evaluate what reasons things might be fluctuating or continuing at a steady rate (good or bad). Then I’ll decide if I want to take action on those items, and then go from there. It seems like a lot of work, but it’s kind of like keeping the house clean. Do a little bit frequently, and you won’t end up waking up to a house that looks like 100 people had a party in episode of Hoarders. 2-3 times a year, I’ll do a little more serious of an evaluation of how things are going, to see if I need to change my big plans of actions/goals. And at the end of the year or beginning of the new year, I’lll use those results from the previous year to make new goals and plans of actions that are realistic and measurable for that year.

Try keeping yourself in check this year, frequently, and you won’t likely find yourself in those frustrating “how did this happen?” situations. 

Happy 2017!!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hangover Prevention

As the season of parties culminates to tonight's final bash, we tend to want to start the New Year on a good note. That being said, waking up with a hangover on the first day of a "fresh start" is probably not ideal.

Instead of having to deal with a hangover and yet another obstacle that would get in the way of your resolutions, you can prevent the dreaded feeling of wanting to die upon waking.

Of course, being smart about how much/what you drink is a gimme. Though everybody is different, mixing types of alcohol and drinking too much is typically a no-no if you want to wake up anywhere near bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 

They have those hangover shots you can buy as well, but let's see what we can do to prevent hangovers without the added mystery ingredients.

Hangover prevention is all about helping your liver function as much as you can, after abusing it with all the alcohol you're about to drink. So plan accordingly. Hydrate. Eat foods during the day that will help liver function:


Ever wonder why people drink Bloody Marys the morning after drinking? Look at the ingredients, and see how many of those you can find on that list of foods that help the liver. That's why Bloody Marys work.

Now, let's apply that to preventing a hangover, versus treating it. 

Have some of those ingredients before you go to bed. The more you drank, the more of those foods you should eat. Do you have to eat a little of each? No. You can stick to one type if you want. Go ahead, eat an entire tomato before going to bed. Or just make yourself a bedtime Bloody Mary. 

Perfect Solution for Midnight Munchies and hangover prevention!

If you want to cheat, take a B-complex vitamin. Make sure you drink a tall glass of water as well. No aspirin needed. Go to bed, wake up in 2017 feeling like a champ, and ready to take on the New Year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Serendipity via Assistants

I spent the last 4 days in Singapore (my first time), the last 2 teaching a group of 28 movers Neurokinetic Therapy. I had the pleasure of having 4 wonderful assitants to help me facilitate the learning process for these students. Every group of assistants I have is appreciated and different, but this one was particularly special to me. Let me tell you why...

Carol was NKT's first student from Malaysia, she flew to Taiwan to take both Level 1 and Level 2 this year because it was not available where she lived. She was in Kuala Lumpor all by herself for the better part of a year, NKT-wise. This week, she flew to assist the first NKT seminar in Singapore, where there were a few students in attendance from KL as well. She will no longer be alone in NKT in KL. This mirrors my initial experience with NKT as well. When I first took Level 1 (I flew to Australia to take it), there was only one other person in the country who had also taken NKT, and neither of us knew what the hell we were doing. Later that year, I assisted the first NKT seminar in Taiwan, where I was living at the time, and was forced to up my game and understanding in an instant. All of the sudden, we weren't alone anymore, and I had to step up to be a leader. My learning and understanding of NKT skyrocketed because of that. Carol, you will do well with NKT if you keep continuing on the track you're on.

Jayda is one of my coaches at my gym in Taiwan (Live to Play). She also runs it while I'm gone (so basically, all the time). I hired her blindly, putting faith in her that she would enjoy working with me and my crazy gym family I had worked hard in building. I encouraged her to have a specialty, something to separate her from other trainers, and gave her some examples from my path. She took interest in the rehab world and decided to take NKT. Without me being there all the time, she still chose to continue with it, learning as much as she could, and being as involved as she was given the opportunity to. She is my rehab replacement at Live to Play. She has given up several weekends (her time to Play) to assist me in NKT seminars, and this time flew out to Singapore to do the same. Watching her grow in the fitness/rehab world is so amazing. She has come so far. I'm so proud of her, and am forever grateful for what she does for me.

Lewis and! I met these two when NKT came to Taiwan 3 years ago. We assisted together in an epic group of both assistants and students led by David Weinstock. There was so much synergy in that group, it was amazing! I went on to shadow pretty much everyone who assisted that class, traveling to Dubai, Denver, San Francisco, Japan, Washington, and Santa Barbara (from Taiwan), learning so much from each and every one of them. The only ones I didn't get to shadow were Lewis and JX (Junxian). No idea why. JX took Level 3 a year ago in Taiwan, which was the last class in Taiwan at which I was an assistant. A year later, and 3 years after our original introduction, these fine practitioners are assisting me in the first NKT course in their home country (and I was given the privilege of presenting JX with his Level 3 cert!). What a great honor for me! I also habitually ask those who assist me what they liked and what they thought I could improve about my teaching. Their words gave me the warm fuzzies and tugged at my heart strings. The individuals who I looked up to 3 years ago now were saying they looked up to me and saw me as a great teacher. They saw me grow from less than novice to what I am now. They were there at my beginning, and they just experienced me at my current ability. I can't describe exactly what this feels like, but it's something like an amazing, humbling, and grateful feeling. I'm in awe.

Having this group of individuals support me in Singapore teaching an awesome group of movers (usually we end up teaching a majority of feelers, and minimal movers) the last 2 days was simply serendipitous, amazing, and mentally jaw-dropping. You guys are so phenomenal. Thank you.