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.

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.

Spotlight on Derek Retzloff

Hello! How’s it going? It’s Trevor here and I’ve got a great success story to share with you.

This story is about Derek Retzloff, and he has achieved some amazing results over the past 2 months with his training.

Derek rocking his Seahawk Air Jordans.

You know Derek, right? Or better known to you as Derek Scott, the radio guy from SunFM (now Virgin).

He might not look familiar but if you heard his voice on the radio, I’m sure you’d recognize it.  Derek is usually in at 9:30 am Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He has done numerous works for SunFM and other radio businesses for over 20 years. For a person who has had to face numerous challenges throughout life, it makes what he’s achieved even more amazing.

From a young age, Derek was at a physical disadvantage. His so called “condition”, which he’ll describe for you shortly, made certain tasks of daily living challenging. Tasks weren’t necessarily impossible to complete, but hard to be efficient. It might be tough to relate but consider the things you’ve struggled with in your life and eventually overcame. Maybe you broke your leg, tore or pulled a muscle, hurt your back and had to sit out from a sporting event or even had to take time away from work. You were presented with new challenges in your daily life, but eventually you got better and were back to health.

Remember how those challenges made you feel? Even better, how you felt when you accomplished them? Imagine if you had to live with them your whole life and each day there was something to accomplish. Sooner or later you work through those challenges more fluently and now you’re looking for even more ways to challenge yourself. You won’t let anything stop you or get in your way. That’s Derek for you. Each day he accomplishes something in one way or another. He accepts and embraces all obstacles in life as an opportunity for improvement. If anything, it’s all fun and games to him!  

Now, before I continue to ramble on about Derek and what he’s achieved in a short amount of time, I should back up, and have him tell you himself.

Here’s his story.

Trevor: Give us a background on your surgery and how you’ve carried yourself over the course of your life?

Derek: When I was born and throughout most of my young life, my doctors thought I had something called Charcot Marie Tooth disease, which affected my legs.  I had many heel cord lengthening surgeries and muscle biopsies to try and figure out what was going on. But when I turned 18 the medical system essentially gave up, and I was left undiagnosed.  The results of these surgeries didn’t really prove or help anything, but back in the 80’s surgery was the answer to everything.  I can remember one visit to the doctor, I was told I could end up paralyzed and could lose the use of my hands.  Thankfully that never happened. 

Even with all of this going on, I was always a happy little guy.  I would have been an easy target for bullies and such at school, but thankfully, I always had a great group of friends who looked out for me. Even a few of the bad kids too. 

When my Dad started seeing a massage therapist, he mentioned my situation to her, and that’s when I started with regular massage therapy. I really started to feel a difference.  I was told that my legs were like two cement poles with no muscle definition at all, but that all changed thanks to her.  My whole medical history was a lot of guessing and tests. When I got older, I figured out that I could change things.  Little things happening in my life that led me to believe that I could do more than I a could.  That’s why I have so much fun at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. They push me every day to do better and make me feel comfortable while having fun.  Not only do I feel better, but I get to learn how certain exercises work and how they transfer to my everyday life.

Trevor: What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face in your life? Could be day-to-day, things that you may have missed out on or really wanted to do.

Derek: Certain things in my life have always been a challenge. I’m now at the point where I don’t even consider them because I’ve come to accept it.  For example, I have a tough time with steps.  I need a handrail to go up a set of steps.  If I want to go to a sporting event or the movie theater, I need to make sure there’s a railing to hold on to, or it’s just not happening.  That could be looked at as a downside, but I choose to look at it as a positive. It means that I can use the disabled section and get a much better seat full of room. 

I’ve always chose to look at the positives and not think negatively about things.  I think that’s just the way I was brought up.  My parents always taught me to be strong, smart, and to always try my best.  I was in casts from the time I was a little guy, but still I was on my bike (two casts on my feet) and sailing over ramps.  When I was in school things were a bit more challenging.  I wanted to play sports with my friends, but obviously it was tough for me.  I still did play, but I couldn’t run or stay on my feet for very long. 

I can remember one time when I was playing on the basketball team in junior high. My coach had me wait at the other end of the court until we had possession.  Once my teammates were close, they would pass it to me.  I tried out for the team and didn’t think I was going to make it.  I was surprised when I did.  Years later, I realized that the coach didn’t want to cut me and let everyone else play. He was trying to be inclusive.  This might seem “okay” to some, but that’s when I realized I wasn’t going to be “that guy” and be made a spectacle of.  

While the game was happening at the other end of the court, people in the stands would be staring at the guy all by himself with the skinny legs. It really made me feel different.  My coach’s intention was to have everyone become a star, and that’s when I realized I didn’t have to be like everyone else.  I quit the team shortly after and felt like I learned a valuable lesson. 

To this day, I know my limits, but that’s all from trying things myself and getting feedback.  Aside from these little things, I really don’t feel much different from anyone else.  At 40 years old, there are plenty of things I don’t want to do anymore, and I’m more than happy with that.  I should mention that I also played competitive wheelchair basketball for many years, and even managed to play for Team Alberta in the Canada Games.  I won a few medals and met a lot of great people. 

I’ve also been involved in the radio industry for over 20 years. I’ve met some of the most popular musicians in the world and have done a lot of very cool things.  My disability had nothing to do with that, that was all me.  That just goes to show that my disability doesn’t define me, it’s just something that adds to the person I am.  I believe that a person can be defined by something and let it defeat them, or you can recognize the challenge, address it and deal with it.

Trevor: Tell us about the huge WIN you had. 

Derek: I have such a great time training with Trevor each day. I told him after one of our first sessions that I felt bulletproof when I walked out of the gym.  I still feel that every day.  Not just at the gym but in everyday life.  Little things, like picking something up or having more stamina when I’m out walking around.  Due to my disability, I pretty much always need to sit down.  I compare it to an hourglass.  From the time I stand up, turn it over, I’m going to need to sit down shortly after.  That’s just something I’ve come to accept. 

Usually, wherever you go, you can find a bench or somewhere to sit down, but with Covid, those benches and seats have been taken away.  I can recall a trip to the mall recently where I walked from my vehicle, all the way to the back of the store, and then had to wait in 2 lineups. I got all the way back to my Jeep and wasn’t tired.  It was something that hadn’t happened to me in a long time.  That’s thanks to Trevor, Chris and everyone at OPP, but also thanks to me.  I’m not ashamed to say I’m proud of myself, or that it was easy to do because it wasn’t. 

 I work hard at the gym and I love seeing the results of my hard work.  I also want to mention as a result of the benches disappearing, I bought a walking cane for long periods of standing but have never used it.  If I decided not to take my fitness seriously, change my eating habits, and focus on myself, I’d be worse off.  Aside from my wheelchair basketball successes, I’ve never really considered myself an “athlete”.  I know it’s just a word, but it makes me feel special. 

When I get Chris’ emails calling us athletes and peak performers, it makes me smile.  One of the things I love and respect so much about OPP is that, never for a single second have they made me feel different, or like I couldn’t accomplish something.  Thanks to their extensive knowledge, they’ve set me up with a program that works for me and makes me feel great.  It can be intimidating in other gyms when you have skinny legs, or need assistance from a bar to stand up, but at OPP I’ve never felt that way.  Trevor has been such a great coach in recognizing what I can do and always pushing me to do “one more” or try just a bit more weight.  It makes me feel so good to push a little more, go a little bit faster, or dig deep for that last ounce of energy.  I don’t just feel it, I AM bulletproof!

Trevor: How have you been able to achieve these goals? And what are you looking forward to in the future?

Derek: I can’t say enough great things about Chris, Harry, Trevor, other staff members and OPP in general.  I also know a huge part of it is me.  I’m the one responsible for myself and if I don’t do all the things it takes to make my training effective, that’s on me.  I was that guy who always said, “I don’t want to go to the gym”, or, “yeah one day I might give it a shot”, but that all changed.  As strange as it sounds, I’m almost happy that COVID came. It gave me a lot of time to sit and think about myself and what’s important to me. 

I didn’t eat a lot of fast food, but I did eat more than I probably should have.  I want to get rid of my cheeseburger locker (tummy) but know that it’s going to take a lot of work to do so. Especially in my late 30’s.  I decided that if I was exercising but still eating the bad stuff, my training really wasn’t going to make much of a difference.  Just making little changes here and there, I started to notice some positives. 

I’ve only been at it for about a month and a half, but I’ve already noticed that my biceps are rock hard. I’ve got some muscles on the sides of my tummy that I never had before, and thanks to my trip at the mall, my endurance and stamina has increased big time.  As daily activities become less tiring, it takes longer for that to happen, and I’ll call that a huge win.  As I continue my training, I hope to continue improving my full body strength and stamina, so little things like steps, or tying my shoes aren’t so difficult.  As great as our coaches are, it’s ultimately up to us as athletes to work our hardest and to get the most out of our coaching.  And hey, what investment is better than yourself?!

Thanks.

Trevor: I hope you’ve enjoyed the read so far, and hopefully you have a couple more minutes to listen to what I’m most proud of Derek for. You’re already aware of how hard Derek works and what he’s accomplished with his training. Instead, let me tell you what he does for me and the rest of us at OPP.

From the moment he rolls up in the parking lot, a wave of energy spreads through the facility. He always walks in with a smile from ear to ear and can’t wait to be the first one to say “hello”. He’s a spark. What I mean by that is, his positive attitude and friendliness projects on to the people around him. Whether it’s chatting about football (he is a huge Seahawks fan), hip hop, daily adventures, or his low-key obsession for Jordan shoes, the conversations are endless. Looking back on our first couple weeks together, we didn’t chat as much. It’s kind of funny now, but he was always trying to catch his breath from the previous set. Since that’s gone, there is more time for chit chatter, and don’t get me wrong, when it’s time to work it’s time to work! He continues to improve strength, endurance and competence each week. Keep bringing that A-level effort day in and day out!

All of us at OPP are so proud of what Derek has achieved in such a short amount of time. When you have a moment, take some time to reflect on the things you do everyday. Where can improvements be made? And how can you get the most out of each day?  

Well done Derek! And thanks for sharing.

Enjoy Picking Up Poo

So we got a dog.

And it wasn’t a decision we took lightly or came to quickly. We’ve been considering this for a number of years, even before we had kids. In fact, when Olivia was 3 she was asked if she thought she’d be getting a dog. She’s 7 now by the way.

Sorry to all other dog owners out there
but Poppy is the cutest puppy in the world.

Anyways, she thought about this for a second and then gave a great answer. She said “she’d have to get a new family first”.

That comment has haunted me ever since. Nobody wants to be the bad dad. But we do enjoy to travel. And we head up to the hill in the winter. And I couldn’t see how we could continue our current lifestyle with a dog in the mix. And to be honest I’ll still don’t.

To give you an example of how ‘on the fence’ I was about getting a dog, we told the girls we were going to babysit the dog for a few nights. And so the dog would have a few nights sleepover with us. This would allow Alexandra and I the chance to evaluate how everyone was adapting to this new member of our family. And how this little puppy was adapting to us.

Because let’s be honest, a new puppy can be a lot of work. And if we realized we weren’t up for the challenge or we’d bitten off more than we could chew than we still had the option to take the dog and the girls would still be over the moon about having a dog stay with us for a few nights.

Win-win, right?

Plus, since we decided to keep the puppy you should have seen the girls faces and their reactions when we told them we were going to keep the puppy forever. It was Christmas in July and they were pumped.

So, now we’d had this little 10 week old puppy with us for a couple of weeks. And the girls have had fights over whose turn it is to take the dog out to do her business. And more importantly, whose job it is to pick up the dog poo.

Let me repeat that last line.

The girls are fighting over who gets to pick up dog poo.

I am now convinced that everything in life is simply perspective. I could offer the girls money, candy or anything compared with getting to pick up dog poo and they’d pick the poo.

So how does this relate to you and your fitness or performance goals?

Well, often times we can become focussed on the outcome. We can imagine how great life will be when we lose the weight, when we rehab our back or when we win the championship.

But here’s the thing…

There’s no guarantee that we’ll achieve everything we set out to do. And in sports the final outcome usually involves an opponent. So we can worry about doing our best and can’t really control what someone does or doesn’t do. As well, we may expect certain emotions to be associated with the end goal but who knows what it will feel like when we get there? This year has been a great example of this. How many sports events were delayed or cancelled due to COVID?

Instead what we should do is change our perspective.

We need to enjoy the process. We do this by having training partners that challenge and encourage us. We do this by working with coaches that guide, support and educate us. We do this recognizing small changes in habits that are taking us in the right direction.

When we can approach our training in this way we are more likely to attend all of our sessions. We are more likely to arrive early. We are likely to give a best effort. We are more likely to get enough quality sleep. And we are more likely to fuel and recover from training with the best nutrition. We are likely to be receptive and open to criticism or feedback that could help us.

Training can sometimes feel like a grind. But when we change our mindset to enjoy the process it’s not so bad. And we may just get better results in the end also.

Just like enjoying picking up poo.

Move for Your Mood

Accountability for gym routines – coaches are just like you!

Accountability to go workout or be active must be one of the biggest barriers or fall outs of an exercise routine. That is what most people who work with coaches need the most help with. But it is important to know that even the most fit people and coaches themselves have trouble with accountability and sticking to exercise routines.

Coaches have all the components to keeping to a routine best; unlimited access to a gym at any time of the day, and unlimited knowledge of what to program for a workout makes it that coaches have no excuse to miss a workout, yet it still happens! There have been weeks at a time where I am unable to fit in a solid workout in between work, studying, and general life activities.

Eventually, missing workouts leads to lower self efficacy and impacts on our mental health; we feel that we cannot control our time as much as we hope to fit in those important healthy activities like getting to the gym or going for a run. It affects coaches as well because they are supposed to be the ones leading by example when it comes to healthy living. However, we also have the resources to get you back on track!

The first part of the solution to get back to a regular exercise routine is to:

1) recognize that you are in a dry spell of gym workouts so to speak. After you recognize that there is a need to get back to being more active, then

2) find an amount of time you can commit to being active (on any sort of level or intensity); say if you can commit to 30 minutes of activity everyday, then cut that in half to being active for 15 minutes each day; this gives you more control and a higher success rate to give you those small wins!

3) Once you have made a time commitment, pick an activity that you enjoy the most! This could be walking the dog, hiking with a friend, skiing, joining a group fitness class or yoga class, or visiting you favourite coaches at the gym. Whatever you enjoy the most, you will have a better chance of completing it regularly!

4) Finally, it is important to plan for relapses and understand that it is okay to miss a day of exercise! We are human after all, and things come up. But if this is to happen, then try to plan for it and repeat the steps above to get back to your routine quickly.

To help prevent relapses and stay accountable, there are many tips and tricks that can help, such as having a friend or fitness coach message you to remind you to be active, schedule it into your daily routine, have your gym clothes laid out the night before to be worn for the next day morning workout, or visit the gym or go for a walk over your lunch break. It is all about building small habits, starting with 5 minutes a day or less, and slowly building. For those of you who are interested in building healthy habits, I strongly recommend reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Some of the strategies Clear writes about includes focusing on one small habit at a tiny and growing it and associating a healthy habit with something like you do daily (such as every time you brush your teeth – do 5 squats afterward). If you are interested in this topic, keep a lookout for some future blog posts on building habits!

Having clear goals for healthy habits is important, and your fitness coaches are here to help define these goals and find ways for you to be successful for them during your days. If you need some guidance on setting goals, feel free to contact the coaches at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc, and we can set up a Strategy Session for you.

Lastly, as I mentioned above, being out of a healthy routine does affect mental health and even mental performance. As some of you may know, exercise is an excellent modality to improve all aspects of mental health. Being physically active helps to reduce anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms, as well as increase your self efficacy and self worth.

To bring more awareness to mental health and how physical activity helps, we here at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. are holding a group fitness fundraiser on January 25th, 2020, called Move for Your Mood. Current Okanagan Peak Performance Inc clients can join by donation, and non-clients have a minimum donation drop in of $10. All proceeds raised will go to Third Space Life Charity, which provides programs for mental health and counselling services to those in Kelowna, BC. If you are interested in attending the event or donating online, contact us at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc! Door prizes and healthy snacks will be available the day of, and group fitness classes will run each hour between 8:30am-12:30pm. Come join us for a good sweat session, and to learn more about the benefits of exercise for mental health!

Why We Do What We Do

I’m always curious about what drives people? Especially when we’re talking about ‘the best of the best’ or impressive performances. Take professional athletes for example, they typically don’t need the money and have already won at the highest level.

How to form new exercise habits

I’ve misplaced my motivation somewhere between the soft pillows and biweekly Timmies runs.

You gasp and sit up. The alarm on your phone is blaring its obnoxious wake up call, urging you to move your butt out of bed, from beneath the warm, comfortable, soft…..zzzzz…. ARGH, HUH, WHAT???! For a moment, you can’t remember why on earth your eyes are open, or what day it is.

A Few Recommended Reads

Reading is probably one of my favourite ways to relax. While I don’t mind catching up some shows on Netflix or watching a movie there isn’t the same kind of relaxation involved with reading.

Fitness Training – Whose Decision Is It?

If you’ve trained with OPP for a while you’ve probably seen the wide variety of clientele that we have the pleasure of training. From post-rehab to body transformation and sports performance there is a huge range in training goals.

What Motivates You?

What motivates you? I mean in terms of your health and fitness what encourages you to do the training, to eat healthy foods, to get enough sleep and to basically care enough to take of your health?

My Weekend Trip to Spokane

Have you ever done something that you thought ‘This is not what I signed up for’ or ‘I’m not sure if I want to be doing this’?