As an athlete, educator, trainer, and coach, I am ever in pursuit of rediscovering, cultivating, and sharing how not only I, but all of us can have
sustainable full health, full life, and the fullest potential for adaptable movement and athletic expression that is built-in to human nature.
We don't have to settle for anything less,
and we're not doing anyone any favors by settling either.
On the contrary, I am constantly researching, learning, experimenting with, and sharing in workshops, seminars, with my clients--and now on my website and social media-- ways that anyone can continually progress to fuller, more truly sustainable health and athleticism no matter our age or context, and I want to share with you how!
What do I mean by "truly sustainable?"
Think back... When you first decided you wanted to start getting healthy, running, working out, or training, did everything else in life suddenly come to a stand still, go away, or come to perfect alignment and coordination? Suddenly you were a full-time athlete and healthy person, with no other care in the world except to train, recover, and eat, with all the money and time in the world and no other care, responsibility, relationships or financial constraints to distract you?
... No? Didn't happen to you either, huh?
Here lies the all too common gross oversight of most training plans and suggestions, even those concerned with sustainability:
We're real people. Unique individuals with a life outside of the gym.
Unique context, genetics, relationships, jobs, finances, schedules, experience, goals, stress, and joys.
We bring all of ourselves to our training and athletic potential, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually--
for better or worse-- to fuel, inspire, build on and recover with, or strain, drain, weigh-down and inhibit our fullest potential.
often times training and eating healthy can feel like just one more thing to fit into our budget and our schedule, and, even if it's quality, sustainable training (in theory), and you're someone that really enjoys it, you're still not an abstraction.
Life outside of the gym isn't likely going anywhere, nor should it, and it doesn't have to!
However, if training isn't balanced for sustainable quality in every other area of your life, it could be that one more thing that pushes you over the edge, to more breaking down than building-up, more wearing thin than strengthening and energizing, and thus unsustainable and poorer quality of life and health, sooner than later.
Truly becoming a sustainable athlete, then, implicitly means becoming a sustainable full human.
That in mind, for the pursuit of full health, life and adaptable athletic potential to be a truly sustainable day-to-day reality for us all, it must involve the following:
1. Sustainable Training
The goal is to build a sustainable, holistically strong and adaptable athlete.
Certainly there can be some specialization for sport, but not the point of sacrificing foundational natural movement ability, adaptability, longevity or health in any area.
Mobility must be balanced with strength, power with endurance, connective tissue as well as major muscle groups, Speed with agility, effectiveness with efficiency, and the desire for quickest possible results without sacrificing longevity of athletic ability.
True sustainability allows for improving and refining efficiency, skill and ability with age late into life, rather than breaking down, exhausting and succumbing to chronic inflammation due to unsustainable, imbalanced training and lifestyle practices.
I err on the side of simplicity rather than unnecessary complexity. Most of us are more likely to stick with simplicity in an already overly complex life.
Train smarter, not harder.
Find the minimal effective dose (MED) for the maximal desired result (MDR), then rest and recover.
2. Sustainable Rest & Recovery
Sustainable training is inseparable and impossible without Sustainable RR (rest & Recovery).
Without adequate RR, diminishing returns per energy expended begins immediately.
Error on the side of too much RR rather than over training.
However, not all RR is equal.
The principles of smarter not harder and finding the optimal MED:MDR ratio apply to RR as well.
The better one can recover and adapt physically, mentally and emotionally in the least amount of time, the more productive the next training session will be in actually improving results and not just wasting energy.
That said, it's important to understand that we are not just recovering from direct training, but from the accumulative total of every energy and nutrient expending, inflammation creating, stress load of our lifestyle.
3. Sustainable Schedule
Training, work, family, friends, eating, rest, recovery, yard work, and the commute between it all. There comes a point that nothing more will fit, somethings got to give. We all have different demands for our time, myself included. So I am constantly searching for ways that health, training and movement practice can integrate into any lifestyle such that it enhances our ability to live full, and fully bring-it to everything else on our schedules, rather than complicating, draining, interfering or stressing us all the more.
Don't settle for anything less than Full You just because you don't have time.
You don't have to give everyone else your best, and be left with the rest for yourself.
This is where it becomes critically important to find the minimal effective dose (MED) for the maximal desired results, the most efficient use of time in all things-- expediting results with minimal change in schedule flow.
This is what allowed me to be in the top 30% in the world in Obstacle Course Racing my first year of competing with far less than 10 hours a week training (probably less than 5 hours of actual training usually).
Training aside, time-and-energy-efficient nutrient-dense meals and snacks alone can be a complete game changer for most of us. I know it is for me, and I get excited to share tips and tricks when I find a new way to have healthy and delicious food, quickly, and on a budget.
More is often not better anyway, especially if it means adding stress and sacrificing RR or quality of life.
If we attempt to maintain or even increase training by sacrificing time, energy and attention for self care, nutrition, and RR, not to mention relationships, we quickly create an unsustainable cycle of diminishing returns and a drain of full health, life and potential for athleticism.
4. Sustainable Financially
I'm sure the importance of this doesn't take much convincing for most of us, especially if we have family relying on us or debt looming over us.
Gym memberships, shoes, athletic clothes, trainers, competitions, the newest gadgets and gizmos, not to mention the food to fuel it all. It adds up.
I want to spend as much of my life doing what I love with the people I love, and I want the same for you too!
That is why I've structured pricing for my services as I have.
Rarely a day goes by that I'm not brainstorming ways to practically make full health and the education and services I offer more accessible and affordable for everyone.
Don't settle for working to fund what we can just "fit in" with what's left because some "expert" says it's the only way to meet our goals.
From training and simple recipes, to gardening and body care products, and DIY injury healing and recovery, I am constantly searching for the most affordable and effective tips and practices to make full health, life and movement potential accessible and affordable for everyone.
Being healthy and athletic is human nature, we don't have to be wealthy to be healthy or fit, and anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.
However, It does require intention and time investment, especially when todays modern standard lifestyle is working so hard against us.
That said, if you care enough about your health to consistently invest minimal time and make a daily practice of choosing even in small ways fuller, more sustainable health and life, I can help you be among the top 10% healthiest and athletically adaptable on the planet.
On ANY budget.
I apply Minimal Effective Dose to time as well as money, both for myself and those I work with.
Depending on goals and needs, there are definitely some worthwhile financial investments to give one an extra edge if budget allows,
Along the way I will share what I think the most worthy investments are, but most are not truly foundational.
5. Sustainable Nutrition. Which includes the following:
- Nutrient Dense
Meaning the greater variety and quantity of nutrients per calorie or ounce is generally something to seek for optimizing fueling, recovery, and sustainable progression from training, while also maintaining full health and sustainability outside of training. Put another way, a good starting point is to seek food that brings more good, health promoting properties to the plate than potential negatives or health inhibitors.The most nutrient dense, affordable, and widely accessible foods tend to be less processed, real, whole food. Some will find this to be an over simplification, but I think most of us can find a common ground in it as a starting principle.
- Real, Whole Food
These tend to not only be the most nutrient dense, but less potential for cross contamination, and a pro-inflammatory response. Also, they are more affordable by the ounce and especially by the nutrient, than their processed counter parts. Chips, for example, are often 10x more expensive per ounce than the whole potato in the next aisle. can be grown or foraged for by anyone with a little education, thus having greater potential for accessibility in any context. They require less overhead, processing, packaging and overall corporate intervention.
- Sustainably Grown and Raised, #FullFood
More to the point, not cutting corners which disregard, exploit or abuse any life form involved in production.
Instead, optimizing for the sustainable, fullest quality of life for all, from the soil, microorganisms and worms, to the farmer, local community, and we the consumers.
For example, rotationally grazing herbivores (cows, buffalo, etc) on pasture actually promotes and nourishes soil health, in-turn promoting environmental health via increased carbon sequestration in soil, the health and longevity of the animals and the nutrient density of the animal products we then consume.
Moreover, such practices are actually as much as 10x more productive and profitable than conventional industry practices.
Just one example of how it is better for all when it is best for all. #FullForAll
Taking into account all of the above, as well as affordability, the best way to sustainably make nutrient dense, whole food available and affordable for all people, is to grow and raise it locally and sustainably.
With a little education and time, anyone, just about anywhere in the world can grow food right outside their door that's more nutrient dense than the average retail Organic options for a fraction of the cost of most processed, junk foods.
Moreover, accessibility of nutrition for the athlete must also involve simplifying and minimizing of external reliance and the necessity for a controlled environment or carrying additional weight.
Perhaps most nutritionally fundamental to being adaptable and sustainable as an athlete in any context is being able to efficiently burn our fat stores, should we find ourselves on an endurance effort without the consistent availability of sugar.
Moreover, being able to adapt nutritionally to our environment in its fullest potential requires knowledge of edible plant life for foraging or hunting skills.
Finally, awareness of nutrient dense, compact and lightweight nutrition that can be carried in most situations and require minimal prep.
These are all things that I have continually researched, educated others in and experimented with myself over the years, and I'm excited to share tips, tricks, and all that I've learned and continue to learn with you!
Money and time are the two most common reasons why most people say it is hard to eat healthy.
Moreover, if you're consistently training hard, you are going to need quite a bit more nutrition than you would otherwise to fuel, recover and progress. It adds up.
However, I am confident that full health is affordable for everyone, everywhere in the world, no matter the context.
As I already mentioned, it starts with how we grow and raise our food and, whenever possible, doing so locally.
If you are consuming twice as much food as someone else you know because of training, but it is all what I like to call "full food", meaning real food that is sustainably grown and raised, promoting health and life all the way to your plate, then you are not only doing right by your own health, but you are actually promoting positive growth and change in the world with the food you eat.
Isn't that awesome!?
That said, my search for the most affordable, nutrient dense foods around the world will never stop, nor will my passion for sharing the best of the best, and what's wrong with the rest.
- Supports Inflammatory and Hormone Balance
If it seems like this should go without saying, I agree.
However, You may be surprised that the majority of what modern humans put into their bodies day-in and day-out, even a lot of what is thought of as health, does just the opposite to our bodies, contributing to increased inflammation, hormonal imbalance and thus increased risk for just countless more disease.
6. Sustainable Consumption as a whole (apparel, shoes, gadgets, gizmos and nutrition)
Going along with all of the aforementioned regarding sustainable nutrition, for me this is a continual journey of intentionally looking for ways I can choose to work with, promote, and spend my money on brands and products which sustainably promote full health and life of all involved in production.
I am far from arrived in this effort, it is just something I try to choose to live out a little more each day, and I invite you to join me.
It can be difficult to find brands even moving the direction of such standards, but there are more showing up all the time, and others I admire who just won't quit pushing to do better for everyone involved.
I am constantly searching for such products and brands and you can be sure that I will spread the word about all that I find, as well as shedding light on companies that are especially unsustainable.
Any brands you see me promote or partner with will be one such brand.
So there is the issue of where things come from and that side of a product's environmental footprint.
But where does it all go?
At an average IRONMAN event there is 2,500 athletes, 3,000 volunteers and around 10,000 spectators over the course of a four day event. Can you imagine how much waste is generated in disposable packaging of liquids, gels and bars alone?
Choosing less processed, or even whole food, DIY alternatives, and reusable packaging over individually prepackaged items whenever possible can go a long way to increasing sustainability on the waste front as well as budgeting, in most cases health and recovery, and possibly even performance.
This may also be another good reason to minimize and simplify, not only our food and fuel, but our external reliance on gear and accessories.
After all, for those of you who train often or have been at it a long time, how much gear and accessories have you gone through? Do you know where they came from, how they were manufactured, or where they went when you were done with them? It adds up.
Don't get me wrong, their is definitely some well engineered gear out there that can promote performance and recovery, whether sustainably manufactured and biodegradable or not.
However, I have to question whether I am truly a sustainable athlete if my performance relies on gear that is unsustainably created somewhere else in the world?
I believe there is a better way.
Minimize our reliance on gear will not only result in a more sustainable environmental footprint but will generally also mean saving money, making it a more sustainable approach for everyone.
My goal in opting out of some bells and whistles is not to sacrifice performance, though.
More is not always better, or as Thoreau put it in Walden,
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone."
If we are able to rely on less gear and accessories, it means we have trained our body to grow its adaptive potential to a variety of context.
Sometimes gear and accessories can get in the way of discovering and cultivating what the body itself is built to be truly capable of on its own.
If we're continually relying on a controlled environment like a gym, with conditioned air and all things designed with smooth edges to be comfortably lifted or pushed, or relying on gear to do some of the work or make a harsh environment more comfortable, can we truly be training our body's fullest potential to be sustainable and adaptable to any context or challenge?
I believe you are capable of more. Don't settle.
7. Sustainable For Relationships
I have seen too many athletes and people trying to do the "healthy" thing who work full-time, then train for hours on end, then-- if they know what's good for them-- spend hours recovering and, if they are getting adequate sleep and finding time to eat healthy, have maybe a small handful of hours left a week for their family and friends.
This is not sustainable, it's definitely not full health or full life and it doesn't have to be that way.
There is no shortage of studies clearly showing the importance of quality relationships to human life.
It's probably no surprise that quality relationships improve one's subjective perception of happiness and of quality of life, but they also result in increased positive brain waves and neurotransmitter production, as well as modulating inflammation.
In fact, studies show that quality relationships are not only associated with decreased rates of a host of chronic disease, but show lower than average rates of disease even in the presence of otherwise elevating risk factors, such as poor diet, and tobacco use.
Moreover, positive relationships can directly and indirectly even improve performance.
Our relationships are likely our greatest asset, yet too often they get whatever is left of us or we feel like we have to choose between self-care and training to meet our goals, or our loved ones.
That's a lie.
There is a better way, and it's built-in to your human nature.
Join me to rediscover and cultivate your human nature for sustainable full health, full life, and your fullest potential for adaptable natural movement and athleticism.
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