10 Lessons from the 2020 Olympic Swim Program

There was a lot of controversy about whether the Olympics should go ahead. And I could understand the points being made by both sides.

But now that they’ve started, and we’ve won some medals in the pool, I find I’m checking to see whenever there’s a swim event coming up.

And a lot of stories have come from the pool. Below is a recap of some of these stories and the value for all swimmers looking to get to the next level.

  • The value of the start – Have you seen Caeleb Dressel swim? I have yet to see a race of his where he isn’t half a body length ahead right at the start. Part of this is how quickly and powerfully he gets off the block. This isn’t by chance. Dressel puts the time and effort in the weight room to develop the speed and power to get off the blocks so quickly and explosively.
  • The value of the underwater – Maggie Mac Neil is so good on the underwater portions of her races. In the 100 m fly, which she won gold, she was 7th at the turn and came back to catch everyone. A lot of this has to do with how strong and streamlined she is during the underwater.
  • The value of confidence – I believe it was Kylie Masse that said being on the podium is starting to feel normal for Canadian swimmers. Physically there isn’t a lot of difference between gold and 8th place in most swim events. The medallists know and expect to be there and approach the races differently than those that have never been on a podium before.
  • The value of the process – All swimmers will go through low points in training and competition. And this can make it tough to stay the course. PBs may be hard to come by. You’re tired and sore and it can be hard to find the motivation. Sydney Pickrem made a great comment when she said some practices she would tell herself to have great turns and not to worry about anything else. When things aren’t going well, get back to the basics. And with time the rest will come along.
  • The value of competition – Texas has one of the top programs in the NCAA. And their coach attributes this to the culture of competition. The swimmers push each other to bring their best and work together to get better. Canada has a version of this with the High Performance Centre in Toronto. Having teammates swim fast encourages everyone to swim fast. Success leaves clues and they can learn from each other. And on the days when they’re not up for it, their teammates hold them accountable. You cannot achieve the same level of success on your own. You need a team.
Texas is a perennial top NCAA program because they compete daily as a team.
  • The value of consistency – Daiya Seto has a couple of world championship medals and a bronze from Rio in the 400 IM. But he didn’t make the finals in his home country for this event. There was a rumour he had been at altitude just prior to the games and perhaps hadn’t fully recovered from that training stress. It’s hard to say? But one thing for sure is the value of consistent training and competition. If training at altitude was something new, maybe it should not have been attempted before the biggest meet of every 4 years.
  • The value of win or learn – Some won’t agree with me on this. And that’s OK. But I feel if that if a swimmer qualifies 8th for a final, and that was an over-achievement, than they should just go for it in the final. For example, if you were seeded as 16th fastest and you grab the 8th spot in the finals, than just go for it. This is what Ahmed Hafnaoui did to win the gold as an 18 year old in the 400 m free. What do you think?
  • The value of a quality relay – The Canadian men’s and women’s 4×100 m free relays were both awesome races. And these teams can get even faster with a few improvements. Brent Hayden and Kayla Sanchez can show the others how to get off the blocks further and faster. Maggie Mac Neil and Josh Liendo could share how they are so powerful during the underwater portion. Hint…it might have to do with their strong butterfly. Rebecca Smith and Yuri Kisil would be able to teach how to be as explosive as possible at the turn. And well, you’re not going to teach Penny Oleksiak much about how to race. But she started without much of an arm wind-up and a neutral foot position. A track start with more arm propulsion would likely be quicker and more powerful. And Markus Thormeyer did a great final leg battling Kyle Chalmers who posted a 46.44 second anchor for Australia.
  • The value of kaizen – It only makes sense to include an acknowledgement of the concept of kaizen while the Olympics are in Japan. Kaizen comes from the business world and has to do with seeking constant improvement. It’s the attitude of never being satisfied and always trying to refine and get better. When interviewed in between heats and finals, Canadian swimmers were asked what they would be focussing on for their next race? And some of them answered they would review video of the race with their coach and then decide on a game plan. This helps them continue to improve.
  • The value of doing the little things right – In the men’s 100 m free final, the 8 racers all finished within 1.08 seconds from first to 8th. Dressel beat Chalmers by 0.06 seconds for the gold, and this is the same margin of their reaction times on the blocks. But besides reaction time, we could also look at how powerfully each swimmer got off the blocks. And for that matter, how far they pushed off the wall. Since the cameras all cut to an underwater view on the turns, it’s hard to see who takes a breath right after the turn. In the longer races i.e. 200 m or more, it’s surprising how many swimmers are breathing right off the turn. I’ll have to dig and see if there’s research to see how much this slows a swimmer down because it definitely doesn’t help with maintaining top speed.
  • The value of the placebo effect – Do you remember at the Rio Olympics in 2016 when Phelps came out for his first final? And when he pulled off his shirt the world saw all the cupping marks all over his back and shoulders? Soon every swimmer was seeking out a practitioner to give them the same treatment, and hopefully, improved results as well. Unfortunately cupping doesn’t do many of things it is purported to do, i.e. detoxification, but it may help with pain modulation. Even though the scientific evidence doesn’t exist to support cupping you still see athletes, such as Kyle Chalmers, use it. If he believes it works, and helps him swim fast, than it’s probably good for him to do.
If there’s something you believe helps you swim faster, than it’s probably a good idea to do it.
  • The value of training as a sprinter – This last point probably deserves an entire blog on its own. With more than 20 years as an s&c coach, specializing in coaching swimmers, I believe there is huge value in training and developing speed at a young age. This aligns with LTAD methodology and helps identify those with the best potential in the sport. As an athlete ages up, they can evolve into more of a distance swimmer. I believe this is a big reason for Canada’s success in the pool and there is evidence in other sports as well i.e. Usain Bolt is training for the 800 m, Malindi Elmore is now a marathoner etc. Stay tuned for a future post for more reasons to develop speed and sprinters in swimming.

Coaching swimmers is an amazing and rewarding group of athletes to work with. Success is determined by a higher placing or a faster time. And for most races, the performance is entirely up to the individual. It is much more clear to identify interventions made in training as effective or not. Swimmers should take note of the value of the lessons the Olympics have taught us and apply them to achieve future success.

Higher Quality Diets Lessen Chance and Symptoms of COVID

In the past year, there have been a number of things we started doing to lessen our chance of catching COVID. These include limiting our social bubbles, wearing masks, washing our hands, sanitizing surfaces and social distancing.

But what we don’t hear a lot about from our health authorities and governments is the value of exercise and nutrition.

We’ve written previously here about the benefits of exercise as it relates to COVID. Sleep has always been known to be highly correlated with how effectively our immune system functions. And now new research is showing that healthy eating plays a huge role as it relates to the coronavirus.

A joint study between King’s College in the UK and Harvard University looked at the nutritional habits of 600, 000 participants during the pandemic. The study had participants fill out questionnaires about the quality of their nutrition, whether the contracted COVID, and if so, what their symptoms were like.

The investigators defined higher quality nutrition as that which includes eating larger amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, oily fish and fewer processed foods and refined carbohydrates.

Study subjects that ate a higher quality diet were 10% less likely to catch COVID compared to those eating the lowest quality nutrition. Of all 600,000 involved in the study almost 19% contracted COVID. As well, those eating higher quality nutrition were 40% less likely to become severely ill. Lastly, consuming a high quality diet was associated with healthier and more diverse bacteria microbes in the gut, lower inflammation, lower body fat and improved blood fat and blood sugar.

Researchers aren’t sure what accounted for the difference in lower risk and lessor symptoms when eating a higher quality diet. They speculate that it is related to the level of inflammation in the body and this may play a key role in preventing and minimizing the effects of COVID.

Many of the measures recommended by our health authorities should be practiced and continue to be a part of our daily habits. But we shouldn’t overlook the positive impact diet and exercise play with keeping us healthy. And while the definition of higher quality nutrition did not mention meat, there is no need to remove this from the diet in order to experience the benefits listed so long as the other features, i.e. more fruits and vegetables, are incorporated into the plan.


Eating a plant-rich diet helps to protect against COVID-19 (joinzoe.com)

What a Pro Soccer Player Eats on Game Day

Do you remember when Michael Phelps was competing and there was an article that came out about him eating 12,000 calories per day?

There were some that said there’s no way this could be and was all made up. And others were saying they heard he liked to eat McDonald’s and therefore it was very reasonable that he could eat this much.

And then a metabolic specialist did the math and looked at Phelps’s size (he’s 6’4″), his training volume (swimmers can do up to 100 km a week in the pool), his age (he was 30 years at the time) and did the math to see if this amount of calories was reasonable. In the end they did deem this to be a possible (although not regular) caloric intake due to the fact that being immersed in and surrounded by water causes the body to expend more calories to maintain a normal temperature.

And whether it’s Phelps or any of our sports heroes it’s always interesting to learn what they do. While we not be able to match the God-given talents many of them possess, we can certainly mimic the positive habits that allow them to be great.

A recent paper looked at what a professional soccer player eats on game day. Here’s what they found.

1 – They eat 6-8 grams of carbohydrate per kg body mass

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo tips the scales at 83 kilograms which means on game day he will consume 498-664 grams of carbohydrate on game day. If he eats three meals on this day this works out to 166-221 grams per meal or 100-132 grams per meal if he eats five times per day.

The take home message is that carbs are crucial to fuel top level soccer performance. Low-carb and keto won’t get it done.

2 – Carb intake is often lower than this

While 6-8 grams per kg of bodyweight is the goal, some player fall short. When this is the case, fat should be reduced, and possibly protein as well. Eating a little less fat and protein may help some to eat the amount of carbohydrates required.

3 – A pre-game meal 3-4 hours before should include 1-3 grams/kg BW

Again, using the example of Ronaldo, he should consume 83-249 grams of carbohydrate in the pre-game meal. Doing so helps replenish and top up liver glycogen stores to be drawn on during the match to come.

4 – Drink 5-7 ml per kg body mass 2-4 hours before game time

To go along with his pre-game meal, Ronaldo should drink 415-581 ml before game time. If he drinks two cups of water, he would be meeting this hydration requirement. It would be best to determine this during training leading up to match day by weighing himself before and after training and hydrating to account for sweat losses i.e. a player that sweats a lot my have greater hydration needs than one that doesn’t sweat as much.

5 – After the warm-up and during half-time, 30-60 grams of carbs are consumed

The pre-game meal will have been 3-4 hours prior. And the effort of the warm-up will tap in to muscle and liver glycogen stores so it is important to replenish these. A large banana or half a bagel will do the trick. Failing to do will result in lower glycogen levels and a potential impairment on power production.

6 – The recovery starts immediately after the end of the match with 1 gram of carbs per kg BW and 20-25 grams of protein

By now you’ve recognized the importance of carbohydrates for the pre and intra-match nutrition. After the last whistle though it’s time to add protein to the mix. In Ronaldo’s case he would consume 83 grams of carbohydrates with 20-25 grams of protein. This routine can be repeated at 3-4 hour intervals.

7 – Avoid antioxidant supplements

Nuts, berries and dark chocolate are all excellent in conferring anti-oxidant benefits. However after training and competition we want the body to adapt to the stress of the sport and become stronger and healthier as a result. Eating foods that are high in anti-oxidants can cause us to limit, and potentially miss out, on these benefits. Save these foods for other times rather than the post-workout or post-match meal.

8 – Modify based on individual needs

Ronaldo runs faster than I do. He covers more ground on the pitch that I would. He plays the game at a higher level and intensity that I could ever imagine. And at 36 years old he’s younger than I am.

For all these reasons I wouldn’t match exactly what he is doing. I could probably get away with eating fewer carbs. And my total calories wouldn’t have to be as great either. Make sure to adjust the recommendations above based on the sex, age, level of play, goals and health of the player in question.


  1. Collins, J., Maughan, R. J., Gleeson, M., Bilsborough, J., Jeukendrup, A., Morton, J. P., & McCall, A. (2020). Infographic. UEFA expert group 2020 statement on nutrition in elite football.
  2. UEFA expert group statement on nutrition in elite football. Current evidence to inform practical recommendations on match day nutrition – YLMSportScience

Spotlight on Mike Lee

Nothing makes us happier as coaches to see one of our clients achieve the results they are seeking. Coach Trevor has been working with Mike Lee over the last year and wanted to share some of his successes.

Take it away Coach Trevor!

Hello! I’d like to present to you Mike Lee.

Mike is a sommelier who recently wrapped up an 8-year career at Quail’s Gate winery. He spent an additional 3 years at Mission Hill prior to Quail’s Gate and originates from the UK. Mike is a skilled golfer who plays about 2 times per week at the Bear and Quail and enjoys his free time cooking and going for walks with his girlfriend Deb. His favourite show is Seinfeld, and he loves a glass of white wine with a side of olives.

Currently, Mike is a part of Fine Vintage Ltd where he gets to share his passion and educate others on how to master the world of wine. There is no question Mike enjoys this culture, but he possesses the same passion for his own health and fitness. He gets himself to the facility 3 times a week with additional days to warm up for golf.

Mike enjoys going to the cabin and getting out for some fishing.

About a year ago Mike had injured his back on the golf course. He wobbled in one day and met with Chris. Together, they were able to relieve the pain and start picking up weights within a month or two. I think this was a turning point for Mike, as he saw results through his commitment and hard work. So where is he now?

Mike is currently eating 5 heads of lettuce every two days and has dropped 25 lbs in the last 5 ½ months. He is moving better than ever and continues to get stronger each week. He’s trapbar deadlifting 215 for 3 reps 225 lbs for 4 reps and jumping on and off boxes. He’s been feeling great on the course and playing some of his cleanest games pain-free. These are just some of the things he’s accomplished.

225 lbs for 4 reps!

Although he’s achieving so much, he finds a way to balance his life between family, recreational activities, golfing, cooking, fitness, and teaching. A few months back, I added some new stretches to Mike’s program, and I still get a kick out of his response each time I ask how it feels. Through all the moaning and groaning I think he’s saying nice things, but it’s tough to tell. And believe me, once Mike found out I was “burger boy” I knew I would hear about it. Mike has been great to work with the past few months and we’re all excited at OPP to see what he can accomplish next.

Keep moving those hips!


Thanks Coach Trevor. That’s a great recap on what he has accomplished with his coaching at OPP. If I were to add a few comments as to what has allowed Mike to have such great success it would include the following:

  • He has a great attendance record. Remember in school when they gave an award for the students that never missed a day of school? Mike would get this award for attendance in the gym. His continued commitment is what helps him get stronger and leaner.
  • He has increased his intensity. Mike started with us after an injury. We made sure to align his posture. Next we looked to increase his mobility and added some core stability to control this new range of motion. Once these were addressed we stepped it up and added some load to the bar and introduced some box jumps and med ball work for power.
  • Mike keeps notes. He is a fan of the expression ‘what matters, gets measured’. While he was seeking a weight loss goal, we kept track of the metrics relevant to this goal.
  • He doesn’t try to be perfect and enjoys the process. Nobody should strive to do all the right things, all of the time. If you like wine, have a glass. Don’t say no the things you love all the time. Find the time and place and control the dose.
  • He has a great attitude. Mike knows as he finishing his last reps of his set I’ll be there to tweak something with the exercise to make it a little harder. And you heard how he refers to Coach Trevor as burger boy. In other words Mike enjoys the banter and the community in the gym. And he’s a big part of it.

As a colleague is fond of saying, ‘achieving a health and fitness goal is simple, but not easy’. Eat a little less. Move a little more. Get to bed on time. Simple, right? But not so easy.

If you’re struggling to achieve the goals you’d like, steal a page out of Mike’s playbook. Success leaves clues. And if you’d like to find out how OPP can customize your plan and support you all the way along, make sure to connect with one of our coaches.

3 OPP Athletes to Compete in Tokyo Olympics

Three Okanagan Peak Performance Inc athletes will compete next month at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Kierra Smith and Taylor Ruck will compete in swimming with Malindi Elmore joining them for the marathon in track and field.

Tokyo bound Canadian marathon record holder Malindi Elmore.
Kierra Smith (2nd from left) and Taylor Ruck (right) heading to Tokyo for swimming.

And while their stories are all a little different as are their sports and events, there are a few things they share in common.

1 – They chose well in university

Kierra studied communications. Malindi did a double major in French and International Relations. Taylor was undeclared in her first year at Stanford (where Malindi was as well btw).

But it wasn’t the choice of major that I’m referring to but where they put their time and attention. In university there are three things you can do including academics, athletics and partying. And you can do two of these things really well. These three women chose well and worked hard in the classroom, the track and the pool.

Take home message: There are a lot of options, and distractions, in life. Success comes from putting in the work and turning down opportunities and fun times occasionally.

2 – When it’s time to be all-in, they’re all -in

At the top levels of any sport, everyone is talented. What distinguishes the good from the great is the commitment to the process, day in and day out. They get the sleep they need. They eat the foods to fuel training and enhance recovery. They take care of their bodies and make decisions which move them closer to their goals.

I remember Kierra sharing a story after the end of a season at Minnesota. She finished last at the NCAA championships. This wasn’t what she wanted or was happy with. And so she made the decision to go all-in for the following season. She revamped her training. She increased her loads in the weight room. She changed her mindset to one a champion.

And the following year she won at the NCAA meet.

When I asked her what made the biggest difference from being last to first she said she put a top priority on her sleep.

Take home message: If you haven’t optimized your performance or potential, what is holding you back? Where are you leaving the most results untapped. Focus on this.

3 – They balance life well

Malindi is married with kids and is the head coach of a university cross country team. Kierra works for Can Fund 150, Head-to-Head and Fitter Faster swim camps. Taylor balances studies as a full time student at Stanford.

But all of them find time to enjoy life as well whether this be getting away camping, up to Big White for skiing, going for bike rides or time for a coffee and a bagel after training.

An elite athlete needs to be focussed. And they need to make the right decisions and say no to a number of opportunities from time to time. But they don’t try to be 100%:0%. In other words they don’t try to be perfect all the time with no opportunity to let off steam and have some fun. They know their bodies well and what their passions are so when time and opportunity present for some fun they make the most of it.

Take home message: Make healthy decisions that you can sustain for ever. Build in fun times to celebrate hard work and results.

4 – They are great with developing athletes

When you’re the best in your country at something it can bring some notoriety and fame. You might appear on the cover of magazines. Local media seek you out for an article or TV segment. And for an individual that isn’t grounded and comfortable with this attention it could go to their head and be expressed negatively.

Not so with these three women.

Malindi remembers all the young athletes at OPP, whether in track or other, and asks how training and school are going. She asks about their plans going forward. Kierra and Taylor participate in the events we host for local swimmers, getting to know these young athletes and taking selfies with them.

Take home message: Maybe you don’t a medal to wear around the house and get recognized in public for your athletic efforts. That doesn’t mean someone isn’t watching you. And perhaps you are inspiring.

5 – They are coachable

The physical isn’t what allows these women to succeed, it’s the mental. All elite athletes are freaks of nature in some way.

But how do they handle adversity? How they respond to critique and feedback?

All of these athletes wants to get better and want to know how. They want feedback, correction, coaching and above all honesty.

They ask questions, without questioning the process. They listen to what is asked of them, ask clarifying questions and then execute.

Take home message: It’s OK be a skeptic. It’s alright to ask questions. But once you’ve decided on a path, trust in it and give your best effort.

Taylor, Kierra an Malindi you’ll have a big OPP family cheering you on from Kelowna when you’re in Tokyo. Based on everything above you’ve already achieved the ultimate. Now go out there, feed off this virtual support and show them what you do.

Another Reason to Eat Breakfast

‘It’s the most important meal of the day.’ ‘I fast and don’t eat until noon.’ ‘I’m never hungry when I wake up.’ ‘I train in the morning and feel nauseous when I eat before.’ ‘I’m so rushed in the morning I don’t have time to eat.’

Maybe you’ve heard, or used one of these before? Because when it comes to breakfast there are more options and opinions compared to lunch and dinner.

Breakfast is kind of in a category by itself. But may it deserves a little more attention and priority.

We’ve written previously here how nutrients are used differently in the morning compared to the rest of the day. We are also more likely to overeat at dinner compared to breakfast. And those that lose weight, and keep it off, are more likely to eat breakfast.

And now a new study suggests skipping breakfast may leave us lacking in certain nutrients.

The study looked at the diets of 30,000 Americans and found them to be missing the calcium in milk, the vitamin C from fruit, the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in fortified cereals, and were never made up during the day.

So when you don’t eat breakfast, you miss out on certain nutrients, which you don’t get later in the day and this creates gaps in the nutritional profile.

Low levels of calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin D, as well as iron for expectant mothers, can lead to health problems including weak teeth and bones, digestive issues, cramps and anemia. If you suspect any cause of concern for your dental health, then it’s best to contact professionals such as emergency dentist canberra. For children, nutrient deficiencies can impact cognitive function, concentration and lead to behavioral issues.

In this study a little over 15% of participants admitted to skipping breakfast. Missing this meal meant lower levels of folate, calcium, iron and vitamins A, B, B2, B3, C and D. And breakfast skippers tend to eat lower quality nutrition for the rest of the day. This was because those not eating breakfast would eat more carbs, sugar and fat from the extra snacking during the day. Those eating breakfast were less likely to snack and indulge in these extra calories and lower quality foods.

If you’re already in the habit of eating breakfast, that’s great. Keep it up. If you’re not, hopefully you’ll give it another shot. Your health, performance and weight loss will benefit as a result.

Not sure what to eat for breakfast? Reach out to one of our coaches here and we can help you get started.


Fanelli, S., Walls, C., & Taylor, C. (2021). Skipping breakfast is associated with nutrient gaps and poorer diet quality among adults in the United States. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society80(OCE1).

The Bachelor and Your Fat Loss

Do you watch The Bachelor?

If you’re not familiar, this is the ABC show that involves a young bachelor dating 25 young women to find his future partner. And there is a comparable franchise, The Bachelorette, where the set up is the opposite and the 25 suitors are men vying for the hand of one fair maiden.

Contestants on the show spend six weeks living in a mansion during which time there are a variety of challenges, dates and other opportunities to compete for an engagement ring at the end.

There have been over fifty seasons of this show since 2002. And although the goal at the end of each season is to have two young people get engaged, the long term success of these couples is about 10%.

Shocking, right?

While on the show contestants have time off from work and family commitments, they are whisked around the world on private jets, staying in luxury resorts, enjoying gourmet meals all while living in a mansion in Southern California staffed with chefs, maids, chauffer and stylists.

Once the show ends all of these amenities and perks end. The clock has struck midnight for Cinderella and the day-to-day grind resumes.

Is it any surprise 90% of these relationships fail? This is completely ignoring the fact that the best relationships take time, and not just six weeks, as is the time frame for this show.

The Bachelor relationships fail because:

  • All stress is removed from the individual’s life
  • The end goal is fast-tracked
  • Contestants focus on the end goal of getting a rose and then a ring
  • All the experiences during the show are the best you’ll have in life
  • People act differently in front of the camera
  • Everyone shows their best side and tries to hide their warts
  • Alcohol typically worsens decisions and relationships

The reason The Bachelor fails is very similar to the reason many people fail with their fat loss efforts. They wait to get started until all conditions in their life are ideal.

This could be when they’ve got some time off work. It could be when the kids are away for a while. It might be when they’ve come into a financial windfall. Or any other variety of reasons where life is as good as it gets.

And that’s the problem.

We cannot approach the process of fat loss as a best case scenario. If we do than we are doomed to fail.

What this means is that there will be times when:

  • Work is busy
  • Family and life commitments pile up
  • Sleep is lacking in quality and quantity
  • Motivation and accountability bottom out
  • Our nutrition and supplementation are off track
  • We don’t have a coach or training partner
  • The things that help us achieve fat loss goal are lacking

So what we need to do is get started when conditions aren’t ideal. When are you busiest? When is your stress the highest? When will committing to a health and fitness lifestyle be the biggest challenge for you?

Figure this out and start then.

It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be intense. You may not set records or get a ton of shares on social media.

But you will be establishing a habit. You will be building a foundation. You will generating positive momentum that spills over to other areas of your life. For example, a 10 minute mobility routine will lead to a better nutritional choice. A walk around the block after dinner will encourage better sleep. A bike ride to work will help increase blood flow and a positive mood to start the day.

There’s nothing wrong with initiating a healthier lifestyle when things are going well in life. But you need to develop the strength of commitment to withstand the challenging times in life.

No one would ever say about brushing their teeth ‘I’m too busy right now. I’ll get started when things settle down.’

This would be a crazy proposition. You make the time and invest in things that matter i.e. your relationships, your family and your health. And the more battle tested these things are during the tough times in life the stronger they become.

So question for you???

Do you have a health and fitness goal that you haven’t achieved because conditions aren’t ideal?

If this is the case, see this as an opportunity. You can get started when things are tough and crush it when everything gets better. The alternative is to put off getting started which delays results, and you won’t be ready for the tough times to come.

Reach out to one of your coaches here if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity and start living a better life now.

Relief of Morning Back Pain

There’s a story I heard about a special family pot roast recipe. And the recipe would include the type of meat required, the ingredients needed, how long to cook the meat and at what temperature.

And one of the steps involved cutting six inches off the end of the roast before placing it in the roaster.

Every family that had a copy of the recipe for this special meal would follow the instructions to a tee. It was such a delicious and memorable meal to enjoy that no one dared making any changes or substitutions.

One year when the family had gathered for a holiday meal the question was posed to grandma, ‘ why do we cut six inches off the end of the roast?’. And grandma’s answer was that otherwise the meat wouldn’t fit into the roasting pan.

There can be other things in life where what we’ve been told or always believed isn’t actually the case. Or sometimes not even necessary.

For example, think about what you’ve been told about low back pain. It used to be we were supposed to spend the day in bed and not move. And once we were able, we were then encouraged to do some stretches to prevent a future occurrence. Neither of these are the best plan to help with low back pain.

But, Have you heard about this Joint Pain Relief in Westover Hills, TX? It is one of the best pain relief centers in Texas, that has proved to cure any kinds of joint pains and find permanent solutions to alleviate your pain.

More specifically, a number of people may have back pain in the morning. This can happen because we’ve been in bed for up to 8 hours and the vertebral discs are unloaded and not subjected to the same vertical force of gravity. Without the vertical loading on the discs while sleeping the discs can accumulate fluid and swell, increasing their size. A larger disc then has less physical space to the adjacent vertebrae. With less physical space between the disc and vertebrae, normal movements done at this time can result in back pain.

Besides the swelling of the discs other reasons to be cautious with morning movements include:

  • When we don’t move, we have less mobility. The joints where we normally need to move, i.e. ankles, hips and thoracic spine, are less mobile when we’ve been static for a number of hours.
  • If you are a stomach sleeper you may be putting additional stress on the low back.
  • A mattress that is too soft may not be providing the support needed and the body may be sinking into an un-natural position during sleep.

If you do experience low back pain in the morning, give the following a try:

  • Hold off on the toe touches and hurdler stretches first thing in the morning. You can also try creative solutions such as a heat therapy for back pain.
  • Go for a walk. This helps get the hips, ankles and t-spine moving, increases circulation and helps dehydrate the discs of the additional water taken on during the night.
  • If your mattress is more than 10 years old, and you have back pain, it may be time to see if a new one would provide some relief.

Once you’ve been awake and loaded (i.e. standing) from some time you can ease into some light activity. The combination of less swollen discs, increased circulation and mobility will allow you to move well and avoid putting undue stress on the low back. But if it’s still bothersome for you, it’s best consult a medical expert because you might need some kind of physical therapy, like the ones from physical therapy in Idaho Falls, ID.

These are just a few of the things to do, and not do, if you experience low back pain to start the day. For more suggestions and solutions specific to your needs and goals make sure to connect with one of our coaches or trainers at the link here.

Running Out of a Rut

Even athletes will sometimes find themselves in situations when they don’t feel like training. This can be after a long playoff run. It could be during the rehab of an injury. Or it could near the end of a career when the drive just isn’t the the same as it once was.

So what do you do to overcome a rut? How do you get going when you have no momentum? What helps you develop inertia to fuel future efforts?

Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the first step. And trail running offers a great analogy to help us get going.

Here’s how.

1 – The Arms Are the Drivers

If you’re a runner you’ll know how important the arms swing is for success. The arms help propel us and help us maintain balance. And because the arms don’t have to overcome the same resistance to gravity and are shorter levers than the legs, they can dictate the cadence of our stride.

What this means is that our legs will follow the speed of our arm swing. Want to move your legs more quickly? Swing your arms faster.

This is a great technique when climbing hills and near the end of races when fatigue may limit how quickly we can turn over the legs.

There will be something health-wise that comes easier to you than most. Maybe you are really good at meal planning. Maybe you are good at getting yourself to sleep on time. Maybe you are always punctual. Maybe you are good at keeping notes and journalling.

All of these things lead to success. The key is to do what you’re good at to start. Other positive habits will spin off from the good effort you are making in another area of your life.

2 – Lean Into the Hills

When I go for a trail run I typically lean forward slightly on climbs. This helps me maintain balance and get the best push to get up the slope.

In marketing, there’s an expression about ‘leaning into’ something. For example, if you blog and are married with kids, have a dog and like Seinfeld you should tell this story when you write.

But the other aspect of leaning into something means to tackle your goals head on. If you’re injured, you need to rehab the injury before you can get stronger, more powerful or faster. If your injury was caused by a bus accident, consult a bus accident lawyer to secure the maximum compensation you need to pay for injury-related expenses.

Imagine if we were talking about improving a student’s GPA in school. If in every class they had a 90% average and one class was a 50%, there is more potential to increase the overall GPA if they focus on the class where they’re getting 50%. The same is true with training. If all we focus on are our strengths, our overall results won’t be nearly as good than if we put serious attention to where we need it the most.

3 – Getting Started Changes Things

Have you ever had a preconceived notion about something? And as things started to develop around that notion you were looking for ways to prove you were right in your thinking? In research this can be known as a confirmation bias.

Recently I was out for a bike ride with some neighbours. And near the end of the ride we had the option to take some back roads home or take the rail trail. I really wanted to avoid the rail trail as it’s less direct and can be very busy on weekends.

As we were rolling along we kept getting caught up in groups not paying attention and breaking our rhythm. In my mind I was thinking ‘see I knew we should have avoided the rail trail!’.

Soon after we linked up with some other friends that are really good cyclists. I was able to ‘grab their wheel’ and draft off them for a good while. When we got to the next stop at a light I noticed I was smiling and had really enjoyed the last segment. And I had totally forgotten that I wanted to skip the rail trail and go the other way.

4 – Let the Pace Come to You

When I went to university in Regina there would be winter days when your car just wouldn’t start. It wasn’t uncommon to have to plug your car in during the day and maybe need a jump from a friend after class.

Your car wouldn’t normally start the first time you turned it over. And once it did start you had to let it warm up for a bit before hitting the road.

When we want to get back into exercise we need to ease into it. When I go trail running I’ll do a few laps. And the first one is always a slow trot before everything starts to warm and loosen up. By going slow at first there’s a better chance I can finish fast(er) at the end.

The same is true for our training in the gym. Be patient with the process. You’ll get better results and have fewer setbacks if you take the needed time to realign your posture, open up your mobility and stabilize your core. Alex Van Nieuwkerk took this approach when he started back a couple of months ago and is now killing it with his training.

So to summarize…

  • Find an area of your health and fitness that easier for you i.e. similar to swinging from the arms to build speed.
  • Go after your biggest deficiencies first and tackle them head-on i.e. like leaning into a steep hill.
  • If at first you don’t enjoy the process, be patient and give it a chance. You won’t be at this phase of your training forever and you may just find something about it that you enjoy i.e. like riding the rail trail.
  • Start slow to finish fast. Rushing back into a training routine can be a recipe for poor results and potential injury i.e. similar to letting your car warm up in the winter.

5 Ways to Get Lean – With No Dieting or Exercise

Abs are made in the kitchen. You just to need to move more. Weight loss is 90% nutrition. Consistency is key, don’t skip a workout. You can’t out-train a poor diet.

Maybe you’ve heard some of these sayings before. And maybe you know a few others.

We hear them all the time, don’t we?

And the truth is that in order to get lean, exercise and nutrition matter. But sometimes we’re making consistent, intense efforts and yet the pounds don’t melt off.

This is when we tend to hear a number of the other comments including:

I have a slow metabolism. I have a thyroid condition. It’s my genetics.

And for some, these may apply.

But before we throw our hands up and wave the white towel we should know that while exercise and nutrition are important for weight loss they aren’t the only players in this game.

Visit healthyw8 and use the body fat calculator then check below five more things to try if achieving a lean physique is your goal.

  1. Reverse Your Eating Schedule

Do you eat breakfast? A number of people will say no to eating in the morning and cite no appetite, no time or that they use intermittent fasting. The truth is that those who lose the most weight eat breakfast. And they eat more protein at breakfast.

More interesting still is that we’re starting to understand our chronotypes and circadian rhythms. Our bodies use and store nutrients and calories differently depending on the time of day. In the morning, our bodies convert calories from food to glycogen for use right away. And we are more likely to burn these short term energy stores during the work to come. At night however we are more likely to store these calories as fat rather then burn them.

Making this even more problematic is that many North Americans will tend to overeat at dinner. A better approach would be to eat more at breakfast, less at lunch and the least at dinner. This also helps with better sleep and encourages appetite upon waking in the morning.

2. Get More Sleep

When we hear recommendations for nutrition and exercise we are quoted the minimums, not the ideal. For example, 150 minutes per week of exercise is the starting point not the ultimate goal. And for sleep we need to get at least 7 or 8 hours per night (more for younger athletes).

When we are sleep deprived good things drop. This includes things such as our blood sugar, our production of growth hormone, our mood, our sensitivity to insulin, the ability to resist temptation and the hormone leptin.

A lack of sleep also increases negative things in our bodies including cortisol (stress hormone), the breakdown of our lean mass (muscle), our bodyfat and bodyweight, an over-stimulation of the reward center of our brain and the hormone ghrelin.

To keep your muscle mass, control your cravings, have more stable blood sugar and even moods, make sure to get the best sleep you can every night.

3. Take Care of Your Bacteria

Our gut biome consists of hundreds of different types of bacteria numbering a few billion of these in our gastro-intestinal tract. Some of the bacteria, gram positive, help us maintain health and others, gram negative, cause illness and disease.

Ideally we’d like to keep our healthy bacteria as plentiful as possible but certain things can diminish their prevalence. Poor nutrition, i.e. processed, sugary and fried foods, can disrupt the balance of good to bad bacteria in our gut.

But even when we’re eating as healthily as possible we can still inadvertently disrupt the gut biome. If you’ve had to take anti-biotics this wipes out many of the bacteria in the body, both good and bad. If this is the case for you, look to eat a diet more favourable to your gut bacteria for the next while. A round of anti-biotics can take 6 months to restore so this should give you some idea as to how impacting antibiotics can be on our bacteria.

Be aware that gram negative bacteria flourish when we consume low quality nutrition such as fried, sugary, refined and processed foods. Extra care should be taken with consuming these when on a round of antibiotics.

4. Pump Up the Parasympathetic

Recently my wife and I were walking the dog. And we met some new neighbours from the East coast of the USA. They said they were really enjoying the West coast lifestyle as the eastern USA is all go-go-go. When we’re always in the state of pushing and looking to achieve more we can end up in a sympathetic state.

With too much sympathetic stress, i.e. fight or flight, our cortisol levels can rise. And with this we can see an increase in our hunger or cravings, a decrease in our metabolism, a drop in our energy, impaired sleep and difficulty on maintaining focus on our goals.

A few things we can do to restore the balance to our stress include:

  • journalling
  • going for a walk and getting some vitamin D
  • watching a fun show or movie
  • hanging out or even just talking to a friend
  • finding some quiet time to meditate, listen to music or read

The last thing to keep in mind regarding stress, is that the time we feel we can least afford to take a break is the time we need to take a break the most.

5. Keep Score

Sometimes I’ll take the dog around the block for a walk. Other times we’ll head above our house and go for a run. It’s not overly long, maybe 30 minutes. And although I’m not timing or measuring our workouts I know Poppy (our puppy, 1 year) and I are getting fitter and faster. For the first few weeks there would be a lot panting and slurping of water for about an hour after our run. Even Poppy was tired and thirsty. Now when we get back we’re both recovered within a few minutes and ready for more play or work.

The point is that if I was serious about getting faster with my running I would measure it. I would use Strava and see my splits for the various segments. I would know the total distance, elevation and my pace. And of course I would time myself and be striving for a PB from time to time.

But I don’t do these things and so I delay my progress.

This is true of everything in life.

Want to get your financial house in order? Start by checking to see where the money goes each month? Often times we’re surprised to see that our perception of reality can be quite different from where things actually are. For example, we might think we spend about $30 per month going for coffee and this number is actually $54, or 80% greater than our estimate.

What matters gets measured. And for the best long-term sustainable results measure something associated with the process. For example, how many hours of sleep do you get every night? How many days per week are you active? How many days per week do you eat breakfast?

There’s nothing wrong with measuring an outcome goal i.e. weight loss, bodyfat, tape measure etc. But you’ll have better overall results that last if you change your focus to the process and measure this.

If your nutrition and training are as dialed in and intense as they can be and you’re not seeing results try one of the five tips above. By trying one a time you’ll know which one made an impact. Give it two to three weeks and then layer on the next tip. It may take time but you will get there.