Ep 132 – Healing Through Functional Movement with Dr. Amy West

- No Comments

“What does good movement mean?  And what are the principles of good movement?  And sometimes people have a hard time articulating that, physiatrists, physical therapists included.  Because we focus a lot on, “is this person strong, do they pass these strength tests?”  But we don’t look at that necessarily from a more central nervous system standpoint of how is this person moving, what is the coordination and neuromuscular involvement in certain tasks. Even in physiatry that’s a bit of a novel concept, surprisingly.” – Dr. Amy West

Dr. Amy West is a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation specialist, also known as a physiatrist.  This little-known specialty treats a wide variety of medical conditions affecting the nervous and skeletal systems by focusing treatment on addressing root causes and restoring function.

Dr. West is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, and she completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.  During her time in medical school, she also earned her Master’s of Education with an emphasis on video technology and medical education.

As a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and active participant in the CrossFit Health movement, Dr. West sees many parallels between the medicine she practices in the clinic and the CrossFit methodology she sees practiced in affiliates.

I was excited to chat with Dr. West at the Winter Classic to learn more about how physiatry can be used to bridge the gap from acute sickness to wellness,  and to hear how she explains her pro-CrossFit viewpoint to critics in medicine.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dr. West’s career prior to medicine, and the driving factors that led to her career change
  • Why she chose to pursue Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), also known as physiatry
  • Dr. West’s athletic background and how she became involved with CrossFit
  • What is PM&R
  • How PM&R works alongside physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • How physiatry focuses on root causes and functionality
  • The parallels between physiatry and CrossFit
  • How Dr. West overcomes the stigma against CrossFit within the medical community
  • The opportunities she sees to bridge acute rehab/sickness and wellness
  • What her practice is like, and how she incorporates CrossFit-type practices with her patients
  • Her response to people who think they “can’t do CrossFit”
  • How Dr. West navigates the strained relationship between the NSCA and CrossFit, and how she thinks the recent ruling against the NSCA will impact the fitness community
  • The challenge of corrupt research studies
  • Three things Dr. West does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Dr. West

You can follow Dr. West on Instagram and Twitter.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.

 


Ep 131 – Dave Castro on Changes in Life and the CrossFit Games

- No Comments

“I’m still the Director of the Games.  I’m still Director of Training, also.  I still have that responsibility to conduct it.  I still have a lot of freedom to conduct it the way that I see… the direction that I want that event to go.  I was still in a very good place.” – Dave Castro

As Director of the CrossFit Games and Co-Director of Training for CrossFit Inc, Dave Castro has witnessed the growth and evolution of CrossFit from a grassroots fitness movement to a worldwide professional sport.

Dave served as a Navy SEAL from 1998-2010 and first caught wind of CrossFit in 2005 when he started following CrossFit.com to support his training. By 2006 he had begun training at the original CrossFit HQ affiliate in Santa Cruz, CA and was soon helping out at Level 1 seminars.

The following year, he hosted the first ever CrossFit Games competition at his family’s Ranch in Aromas, CA. Since that time, the CrossFit Games has grown exponentially into a professional sport under Dave’s direction.  He has been there every step of the way, devising tests that select for the fittest man and woman on earth and programming events at all 13 editions of the Games.

In his second visit to the podcast, Dave and I sat down at CrossFit HQ following an MDL1 Seminar.  Our last show was in May of 2016, so we had a lot to catch up on!  We talked about the positive changes he’s witnessed as CrossFit transitions its focus to CrossFit Health, his reflections on the 2019 CrossFit Games, and why he’s okay with not being everyone’s friend.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Dave’s life has changed since we last spoke in 2016
  • His intentional choice to keep his family out of the limelight
  • Dave’s role in the transition and changes that CrossFit underwent in 2019
  • How the CrossFit Games team has changed
  • Some of the positives that have come from the changes to the CrossFit Games season
  • Why he says Greg Glassman saved his life
  • Why Dave doesn’t pay attention to Sanctional events
  • His goal for the CrossFit Games
  • His thoughts on preserving the integrity of the sport through drug testing and more intense scrutiny of videos
  • Dave’s reflections on the 2019 CrossFit Games
  • What Dave’s process for programming for the Games looks like, and how that process has changed with the shift in the Games season
  • His reading habit
  • Dave’s thoughts on the move to Madison
  • His thoughts on being a polarizing figure in CrossFit
  • The importance of upholding high standards in himself and in others
  • What Dave’s fitness routine and daily routine is like these days
  • His perspective on the CrossFit Health movement
  • Three things Dave does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to him

You can follow Dave on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional


Ep 130 – Kristi O’Connell on Training for Joy and Balance

- No Comments

We, ultimately- we love CrossFit, but we also view CrossFit as a way for us to be fit and do things outside of the gym.  And do them together.  We always try to continue reminding ourselves of that, so, in the spring we’d like to do an obstacle course race.  And I think that’s a new mindset shift for me, is that, it used to be, oh no, I can’t do that, I’m going to get hurt.  But then it’s like, we’ll why do you have all this fitness?  So, you have it to compete, but I think for me it’s like, I’ll go to the Games. I will do my absolute best.  I love to compete, I’m not gonna just go there and not try.  I’ll try my hardest, and I think just knowing that I’m taking a different approach this year.  And knowing that ahead of time and preparing myself for that. Whatever that outcome means, I’m still gonna work hard.  I’m just gonna make sure that I’m not sacrificing my family, my body, and everything else in order to maybe get into the top five or the top ten or whatever it may be.” – Kristi O’Connell

Kristi O’Connell, formerly Kristi Eramo, has been passionate about fitness her entire life.  A former collegiate swimmer and endurance athlete, she made her first appearance at a CrossFit Regionals competition in 2014, and by 2016 she placed first at the highly competitive Central East Regional.

Following three CrossFit Games appearances as an individual between 2016 and 2018, Kristi placed 26th in the world in the 2019 CrossFit Open, qualifying for a spot at the 2019 CrossFit Games as an individual.  Instead, she made the surprising choice to decline her invitation as part of an effort to be more present with her friends, family and her community at CrossFit Polaris.

As fate would have it, an unexpected invitation to join Team Invictus X, had Kristi competing at the 2019 CrossFit Games after all, but this time as part of a team who prioritized FUN.  The experience helped re-ignite Kristi’s passion for training, and also helped her to evolve her approach.

These days, Kristi enjoys working out daily alongside her husband and her friend, Dan Bailey.  Her training volume is much lower, and her focus is primarily on running her affiliate and making time to disconnect and be present with the ones she loves.

I had the chance to catch up with Kristi and we chatted about the importance of connecting your training to your inner “why,” how her mindset and approach has shifted over the years, and what she’s doing to make sure she continues to find joy in fitness.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Kristi’s recent marriage & name change
  • How her approach to training has evolved
  • Her plans for the 2020 CrossFit season
  • The importance of using your fitness to enjoy life
  • What led Kristi to compete on a team in 2019 after qualifying as an individual
  • Connecting her training to her inner “why”
  • The hormonal impact of training as a competitive athlete
  • How Kristi is learning to slow down, disconnect, and be more present
  • The impact of technology and social media on her training and her stress levels
  • How Kristi started doing CrossFit
  • How she met her husband, Patrick
  • The challenge of switching her career path from an accountant to a gym owner
  • What it’s been like to compete with her mom, Donna Eramo, at the CrossFit Games
  • Why Kristi decided to join Team Invictus X for the 2019 CrossFit Games, and her reflections on the experience
  • Three things Kristi does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Kristi

You can follow Kristi on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 129 – Improving Your Fitness from the Ground Up: Nutrition Basics with Nicole Aucoin

- No Comments

“I believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated, and if you keep it simple, and you help people make changes, and you encourage them and find bright spots- find positive things in what they’re doing… They’ll make those changes.– Nicole Aucoin, MD, RD

When it comes to fitness and disease prevention, regular exercise is just one piece of the puzzle.  Quality nutrition lays the foundation for better health, and yet it’s a component that is often overlooked by both fitness professionals and their clients.

Nicole Aucoin is a Registered Dietician and the founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, a consulting program run at hundreds of gyms and nutrition practices worldwide.  In addition to empowering her own clients to make lifestyle changes through diet and exercise, she works to help gym owners share the importance of nutrition with their own members. Nicole is also the author of Nourish: Grow Your Nutrition Business From The Ground Up. 

Nicole is actively involved with CrossFit as a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, co-owner of CrossFit HSN, member of the CrossFit Certification Board, regular contributor to the CrossFit Journal, and active supporter of the CrossFit Health movement. I had the chance to sit down with Nicole at the 2019 CrossFit Games.  We chatted about the challenges of practicing dietetics in a clinical setting, why affiliate owners should prioritize consistent nutrition messaging as part of their program, and the methods Nicole uses with her own clients to facilitate accountability and long-term lifestyle changes.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What inspired Nicole to study nutrition, including addressing her own disordered eating as a cheerleader in college and her mom’s experience using nutrition as part of cancer treatment
  • Her experience learning conventional nutrition advice while in school, and the challenge of practicing as a Registered Dietician in a hospital setting
  • Nicole’s experience with conflict of interest between the food industry and the nutrition industry
  • How Nicole got into CrossFit and how it influenced her approach to nutrition
  • Ways affiliate owners can help members make nutrition a priority
  • Tips to help gym owners be consistent with their nutrition messaging
  • Nicole’s general nutrition philosophy and how she gets her clients started
  • Ways affiliate owners and coaches can further their nutrition knowledge beyond their CF-L1
  • When to defer nutrition advice a registered dietitian
  • Nicole’s thoughts on the CrossFit Health movement
  • Methods she uses to help clients with consistency and accountability
  • Nicole’s take on the ketogenic diet and what a general CrossFit athlete can do to fuel their workouts
  • The importance of being able to enjoy a treat and move on
  • Three things Nicole does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Nicole

You can reach Nicole via email or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.  You can follow Healthy Steps Nutrition on Facebook and Instagram, and you can follow Grow Your Nutrition Business on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 128 – Dr. Jeffrey Geller on Loneliness and the Power of Groups

- No Comments

“But if my model works, I am positive people can copy it.  And group visits certainly have been part of the solution.  You see a lot of patients, you provide more services, you overcome barriers, you do it in a culturally competent way.  People get to know one another, they have a better sense of community, they’re less scared, they have less anxiety, less stress, and then they have better outcomes.  And I get credit for, as a doctor, when my patients have better outcomes, and have so little to do with it, that at least if I can put them in a good spot to get healthy, I’m moving the right way.” – Dr. Jeffrey Geller

Jeffrey Geller, MD, practices family medicine and integrative medicine and has been a pioneer in group medical visits.  He is widely recognized as an innovator in the delivery of health care by creating and using an empowerment model for shared medical appointments.

Dr. Geller began his work with groups in 1996 during his residency when he noticed that loneliness played a large role in his patients’ well-being.  He has since completed research studies showing a relationship between loneliness and increased hospital visits, as well as identifying a link between loneliness, depression, and chronic illness.

Dr. Geller has a particular passion for delivering care to underserved communities.  By sharing his experiences and training others to deliver health care in a group setting, he hopes to provide efficient care in a financially sustainable way that eliminates barriers to health and provides services otherwise unavailable to many patients.

I recently sat down with Dr. Geller to learn more about how loneliness plays a role in our health, how he’s implemented group visits in his own practice, and the lessons he’s learned along the way.

*Dr. Geller’s bio adapted from im4us.org

In this episode we discuss:

  • Dr. Geller’s background and what drove him to change from a career in engineering to a career in family medicine
  • How loneliness plays a role in our health
  • His first experience with group visits and what he learned
  • The Empowerment Model
  • How Dr. Geller facilitates groups to allow others to be comfortable and vulnerable
  • The criteria he uses to select and form groups
  • The mistakes that he’s learned from
  • The logistics of billing and running groups within a medical practice
  • How Dr. Geller utilizes Integrative and Functional Medicine into his group visits
  • Some of the biggest things he’s learned from his patients
  • 3 things Dr. Geller does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Dr. Geller

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 127 – Fighting Breast Cancer with Barbells: Barbells for Boobs Founder Zionna Hanson

- No Comments

“She said when she went in with the lump they basically denied her mammogram and said, “You’re too young for breast cancer,” and they wrote on her medical documentation “mammography recommended at age 40.”  And, once I heard that, I knew that her story needed to be heard.  And that, number one, I wanted to make sure that that never happened to another woman again.  And for me, it was more about advocating, I think that’s what CrossFit has really taught me, is how to advocate for my own health, how to advocate for my body, how to be aware of my own health, and how to take ownership in that, right?  And so, while I was teaching that to people everyday, my friend, and the healthcare system we have, kind of failed her in a sense.  And she failed herself.  You ask Cecy today, and you ask her what does she want to tell people from her story of breast cancer, and she’s like, ‘advocate for yourself!’” – Zionna Hanson

Five years ago, our family first gathered around the living room on Christmas, put on our favorite holiday movies, and took turns rowing until we reached a marathon – 42,195 meters.  Over the years, what started as a small way to stay active and spend time together during the holidays has grown into a worldwide fundraising event.  Last year, we had teams from across the globe competing in support of a charity run by Dani’s family, Educar es Avanzar.

This year, we’re choosing to raise money for Barbells for Boobs – an incredible organization that works hard to improve the quality of life of those diagnosed with breast cancer.  Breast cancer has hit our family in a big way over the past couple of years, with my Aunt Nancy currently in remission and Dani’s mom, Barbara, just recently diagnosed and beginning her treatment.  We know personally how difficult it can be to navigate this process, and want to give back to an organization that is working hard to make it easier for so many.

As a part of this initiative, I was excited to speak with Zionna Hanson, the founder of Barbells for Boobs.  Zionna’s life has also been greatly impacted by breast cancer:  in 2009, her best friend was diagnosed at the age of 26. Zionna rallied the CrossFit community to support her friend, and from that small event, Barbells for Boobs was born.  Over the past 10 years Zionna has guided Barbells for Boobs as it has grown into a global movement.   What started as a nonprofit with a focus on funding mammograms has evolved into an organization dedicated to providing community and resources after diagnosis through fitness.

Zionna and I caught up to chat about the challenges breast cancer patients face, what donors should look for in a nonprofit they’re choosing to support, and the importance of being open to opportunities for evolution, change and growth.

If you’d like to join in the 6th annual Christmas Marathon Row in support of Barbells for Boobs, please sign up here!

In this episode we discuss:

  • My experiences with Barbells for Boobs
  • How Zionna came to have a passion for CrossFit
  • The origin story for Barbells for Boobs
  • How CrossFit helped catapult Barbells for Boobs to success
  • What is was like for Zionna to begin a nonprofit, and the lessons she learned along the way
  • Things donors should look for when selecting a nonprofit to support
  • How Barbells for Boobs has evolved to its new focus of supporting women in getting back to the gym after treatment
  • What prompted Zionna to step down from her position as CEO and how that’s changed her day-to-day routine
  • 3 things Zionna does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Zionna

You can follow Zionna on Instagram, and you can follow Barbells for Boobs on their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.

 


Ep 126b – Nicole Christensen on Coaching Pregnant Athletes

- No Comments

“It was really fascinating because I think there’s such a disconnect, right? So, on one hand, we have the whole population of people that are criticizing women doing CrossFit while they’re pregnant. And it literally helps develop the natural– squatting, CrossFit, and doing it while you’re pregnant– develops the natural anatomical position for how people want to have babies, or how they have babies naturally. And then here, on the other hand, all these women that want to have a natural birth couldn’t get there. “ – Nicole Christensen

Nicole Christensen started CrossFit Roots out of her one-car garage in 2008. Since that time, she and her husband Eric have grown Roots into a 10,000 square foot facility with an accomplished team of full-time coaches and staff. She got her coaching start as a swim coach in the Northern Virginia Swim League. 10 years later when she found CrossFit, she knew that it combined her passion for coaching with her belief in a lifelong pursuit of fitness and health.

In 2009 she was hired to the CrossFit Seminar Staff, and for more than ten years Nicole has traveled around the world to teach and coach the CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate Courses.

Nicole has an extensive competitive background and competed in five CrossFit Games Regionals, placing in the top ten four times. She is a well-known resource for women interested in continuing CrossFit throughout their pregnancies, drawing on her own personal experiences of training and competing while pregnant alongside her experiences coaching Roots athletes through own their pregnancies.

Nicole and I had the opportunity to chat at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and our conversation ran the gamut. In part a, we talk about her background, how her education as city planner influences the processes and systems that have helped grow CrossFit Roots into a thriving affiliate, and why she loves the community aspect of CrossFit. In part b, we do a deep dive on best practices for training while pregnant, to how she maintains her fire and love for CrossFit after 11 years in the business.

*Bio adapted from crossfitroots.com

In Part B of this episode we discuss:

  • Her experience with CrossFit and pregnancy and the guidelines she uses when training others
  • How CrossFit Roots accommodates pregnant and postpartum athletes
  • How Nicole and her husband balance their work/life relationship
  • The systems and planning she uses to streamline her business and personal life
  • 3 things Nicole does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Nicole

You can follow Nicole on Instagram, and you can follow CrossFit Roots on Facebook and Instagram.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 126a – Nicole Christensen on Growing a Thriving CrossFit Affiliate

- No Comments

“I think I talked about nutrition so much, and I talked about functional movements, and I talked about scaling and intensity so many times in blog posts that I was just like, “Yeah, people get it now.”  And you forget that it has to be a constant message.  Because, while you and I might live and breathe CrossFit daily… medicine, you know, whatever it is. This is three hours of someone’s week.  So, we do have to give them more tools to ingrain it into why it’s important.  So, the education piece is huge.” – Nicole Christensen

Nicole Christensen started CrossFit Roots out of her one-car garage in 2008. Since that time, she and her husband Eric have grown Roots into a 10,000 square foot facility with an accomplished team of full-time coaches and staff. She got her coaching start as a swim coach in the Northern Virginia Swim League. 10 years later when she found CrossFit, she knew that it combined her passion for coaching with her belief in a lifelong pursuit of fitness and health.

In 2009 she was hired to the CrossFit Seminar Staff, and for more than ten years Nicole has traveled around the world to teach and coach the CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate Courses.

Nicole has an extensive competitive background and competed in five CrossFit Games Regionals, placing in the top ten four times. She is a well-known resource for women interested in continuing CrossFit throughout their pregnancies, drawing on her own personal experiences of training and competing while pregnant alongside her experiences coaching Roots athletes through own their pregnancies.

Nicole and I had the opportunity to chat at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and our conversation ran the gamut. In part a, we talk about her background, how her education as city planner influences the processes and systems that have helped grow CrossFit Roots into a thriving affiliate, and why she loves the community aspect of CrossFit. In part b, we do a deep dive on best practices for training while pregnant, to how she maintains her fire and love for CrossFit after 11 years in the business.

*Bio adapted from crossfitroots.com

In Part A of this episode we discuss:

  • Nicole’s background as a swimmer, softball player and hiker, and how she developed from being a poor swimmer to becoming a collegiate athlete
  • How our physical environment impacts our health
  • How Nicole got into CrossFit
  • The factors that led her to open an affiliate, and the process for opening CrossFit Roots
  • The practices that have led CrossFit Roots to become a thriving affiliate
  • How Nicole uses education to communicate with her athletes
  • How she creates a culture that recognizes the importance of modifying workouts
  • The most important qualities that she looks for in coaches
  • What drove her to be a competitive athlete, and how she motivates herself to perform beyond competition

You can follow Nicole on Instagram, and you can follow CrossFit Roots on Facebook and Instagram.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 125 – Bridging the Gap Between the Hospital and the CrossFit Affiliate

- No Comments

We are trying to reach the populations that would otherwise never consider walking into a CrossFit gym.  That was goal #1 was, when we first put this out to people, if you’re the least likely person to go to a CrossFit gym, we want you.  And it was followed pretty closely after that with, we will meet you wherever you’re at.  And, got a pretty good response just from that.  We have targeted two primary populations.  One we call special populations, and that covers everything from the severely overweight to chronic disease: diabetes, COPD, you name it, we’ve got it.  And, that was our primary target was a special populations class, and then reaching seniors, and the people who didn’t have exposure to any kind of physical activity, let alone CrossFit, and teaching them some of the skills that would be necessary to keep them living independently.– Michele Mootz

When it comes to helping seniors and other “unlikely exercisers” become active and functionally fit for a lifetime of health, Dustin Jones and Michele Mootz are leading the charge.

As a home health physical therapist, Dustin Jones works to keep older adults resilient and independent at home.  He is also the founder of Geros Health and the Geros Health podcast, where he connects thousands of clinicians to share information and education about caring for older adults.

Michele Mootz is a true CrossFit original, getting her start in Santa Cruz back in 2004.  An experienced physical therapist, she fell in love with CrossFit methodologies and ultimately left her formal work as a physical therapist to become a full-time coach.  Michelle has worked on the CrossFit Seminar Staff member for 10 years, currently serving as a Flowmaster.  Most recently she has taken over the CrossFit Heath program at CrossFit HQ where she works with older adults as well as those struggling with obesity and chronic disease in an effort to help them regain their health and independence.

Michele, Dustin and I met up at a recent CFMDL1 seminar to share a discussion on how we can bridge the gap from the hospital to the affiliate.  In this episode, we discuss the considerations that go along with working with these special populations, how affiliate owners can get start their own senior and special populations programs, and how healthcare providers can get involved with their local affiliates.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The stereotypes surrounding CrossFit, and the initiative CrossFit HQ is undertaking to reach populations who would never consider trying CrossFit, including obese populations, those with chronic disease, and seniors
  • How a box owner or a dedicated coach can create an inviting environment for those who need CrossFit the most so they feel welcomed
  • The criteria CrossFit HQ uses in allowing those interested to join their CrossFit Health program
  • Scheduling and programming considerations for special populations
  • What primary care physicians should look for in an affiliate in order to feel comfortable referring patients
  • How healthcare providers can get involved with their local affiliates
  • The Derelict Doctors Club or “DDC”
  • The trickle-down theory: why the MDL1 is not open to all healthcare providers
  • How HQ is working towards a directory of doctors who CrossFit
  • The reasoning behind CrossFit HQ’s decision to track quality of life over other health data markers
  • Michelle’s action steps for box owners and coaches who would like to get started helping special populations
  • Julie’s action steps for medical providers who would like to consider using functional movement to help their patients
  • Dustin’s thoughts on why functional movement is so important for rehabilitation patients

You can follow Dustin and Geros Health on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and via his podcast.  You can contact Michele Mootz via email.

Links:

Related Episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 124 – Breaking Barriers with Adaptive Athlete and Coach Kevin Ogar

- No Comments

“I think we’ve seen a lot of these to-be athletes, these persons with disabilities be told no, or that they can’t, and then they just give up or they stop and they’ve never actually tried, and they’re only told no because of some statistic that says they’re probably not going to.  But they’ve never tried for themselves, and I’ve always thought that was kind of weird.  And what we’re finding is that when we get these people to try, those statistics are wrong, and they’re based off people who don’t want to do any better.  And so, they have this whole vast life of functionality that they haven’t even begun to tap because someone somewhere along the road said, ‘Hey, don’t do that.’  Or, ‘Hey, you can’t do that.’  Or, ‘You should be careful because you’re already broken.’  I think my big goal is to allow them to understand, yeah, you may have some broken parts and pieces but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to better those things.  You shouldn’t [stop trying] to push and the limits of your athleticism just because someone told you no.  I mean, imagine an able-bodied person, imagine the CrossFit Games if half of these athletes had been told no and they just stopped and hadn’t pushed the limit.” – Kevin Ogar

In the blink of an eye, Kevin Ogar’s life dramatically changed while weightlifting during a fitness competition.  An erratic bounce of a barbell clipped him in the back, injuring his spinal cord and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

At just 28, Kevin went from being an active CrossFit coach and aspiring Games competitor to being paraplegic and learning how to navigate life from a wheelchair.  In the aftermath of the accident, Kevin was surrounded by love and support from the CrossFit community, and his passion for CrossFit helped him navigate through some dark times as he focused on getting back in the gym and to the community he loves.

In the years since the accident, Kevin has not only become a prolific adaptive athlete, he has also dedicated himself to helping others use CrossFit for fitness and recovery.  He travels the world teaching CrossFit Level 1 seminars and Adaptive Training Academy courses, runs his own affiliate, CrossFit Watchtower, volunteers with Craig Hospital to run a therapeutic recreation program, and is on the board of directors for The Reveille Project, a non-profit that provides tools to aid veterans as they adapt back to civilian life.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Kevin at the 2019 CrossFit Games, and we chatted about his recovery process, how he adjusts his mindset when he’s having a down day, and his passion for helping others push beyond their limits to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How Kevin got into fitness, and what it was like to be doing CrossFit while the sport was in it’s infancy
  • His competitive drive and how that helped him succeed as a Regionals athlete
  • The injury that severed Kevin’s spinal cord and resulted in paralysis from the waist down
  • The overwhelming support he received following his injury and his desire to give back to the community
  • The mental, emotional, and physical stages of his recovery
  • Kevin’s partnership with Craig Hospital which helps other rehab patients try CrossFit
  • His own drive to resume CrossFit during his recovery
  • Opening his affiliate, CrossFit WatchTower, and how he keeps the focus of his gym on creating a community for those who need CrossFit to help with recovery
  • Getting started as an adaptive athlete
  • Kevin’s goals for the Adaptive Training Academy (formerly the CrossFit Adaptive Athlete Certificate course)
  • His non-profit, The Reveille Project, and how they’re helping veterans get involved with CrossFit to restore their lives post-active duty
  • His work on the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Staff
  • Kevin’s process for changing his mindset when he’s having a down day
  • How Kevin hopes to impact people
  • Why it’s so important to continue trying, even if someone tells you no
  • Three things that have the biggest positive impact on Kevin’s health
  • One thing he struggles with that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Kevin

You can follow Kevin on Instagram and Facebook, and you can support The Reveille Project here.

Links:

Related Episodes:

Ep 37 – Steph Hammerman on overcoming obstacles, teaching CrossFit, and crushing cancer
Ep 60 – Chris Spealler on training for longevity and becoming a Master
Ep 75 – Growth through Adversity with Kyle Maynard

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 123 – Zoë Harcombe on Dissecting Nutrition Research and Dietary Guidelines

- No Comments

“For me it’s so easy, it’s just so easy.  So, if we could put aside the conflicts, would we all be able to agree that we should eat real food and not processed food?  Surely, that is a starting point that we could all agree on.  And it’s actually where carnivores and vegans should be on the same plate.  So, please guys, can we agree, we know… horribly conflicted in the US, with the dieticians in bed with half the fake food companies in the world, it’s the same in the UK, it’s absolutely the same in Australia although they’re trying to clean it up a bit…  So, that is getting in the way of what should be just such an easy first principle.  Eat. Real. Food.” – Zoë Harcombe

Zoë Harcombe, Ph.D., is a researcher, author, blogger, and speaker in the fields of nutrition and health.  Her particular area of expertise is public health dietary guidelines, especially dietary fat, nutrition and obesity. She has a BA in Economics and an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge University, and she earned her PhD in Public Health Nutrition from the University of the West of Scotland.

Zoë is well known for her thorough examination of nutrition research studies and journal articles, and she advocates for the public to be educated in evidence-based dietary advice.  After many years as a vegetarian, Zoë herself now follows a low carb, high fat diet and believes that eating real food, including animal protein, is the key to long term health.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Zoë at the 2019 CrossFit Health Conference where she was presenting on the corruption plaguing current nutrition advice.  We covered a wide range of topics including what prompted her to leave a successful human resources career to pursue her Ph.D. in public health nutrition, and how, as she completed her thesis, she learned that much of current public health dietary advice is not evidence-based.  We also talked about what she believes research shows to be the best diet, why there is so much misinformation regarding nutrition out there, and what listeners can do to influence change in the current dietary guidelines.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Zoë’s background and how her brother’s diabetes spurred an interest in nutrition
  • Her interest in studying eating disorders while at University of Cambridge
  • What her experience of writing a book was like while working another job
  • Why she decided to leave a successful human resources career and return to school for her Ph.D.
  • The research she pursued as part of her Ph.D.
  • Why Zoë believes the current dietary fat guidelines were released in spite of lack of significant research findings
  • What Zoë thinks the research is telling us about which is the best possible diet to follow
  • The nutrients we need to survive
  • Her take on the fat-carb combo, and how that makes our appetite insatiable
  • Why she was initially vegetarian, how she made the transition to eating meat, and how she reconciled the change with her ethics
  • The changes Zoë noticed when she began eating meat
  • How eating meat benefits the planet by improving topsoil
  • The addictive nature of carbohydrates
  • Vegetables and fiber: how the evidence for 5 a day isn’t as strong as we think
  • The difference in fiber in vegetables versus whole grains
  • Zoë’s process for dissecting research studies
  • How she advises the layperson to analyze articles they are reading, and what red flags they should be looking for
  • Why Zoë believes revising the current dietary guidelines is so important, and what she’s doing to create change
  • What listeners can do to influence change in the current dietary guidelines
  • Three things Zoë does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
  • One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Zoë

You can follow Zoë on her blog, her YouTube channel, her podcast, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Links:

Related Episodes:

Ep 35 – Coach Greg Glassman on CrossFit, Chronic Disease, and the “5 Buckets of Death”
Ep 71 – The Sugar Free Revolution with Karen Thomson
Ep 80 – Greg Glassman on Networking CrossFit Physicians and Fighting Chronic Disease
Ep 93 – Debunking Nutrition Myths with Gary Taubes
Ep 118 – The State of CrossFit with Coach Greg Glassman

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.


Ep 122 – Competing in the CrossFit Games while in Medical School: Singapore’s Fittest Man Ian Wee

- No Comments

There was, of course, a lot of shock, a lot of happiness, a lot of pride because we all knew that this was the first time that Singapore gets to send athletes to the Games.  Of course, within the box… members were proud, the box owners were very happy.  Outside of the box I received a lot of support from people I don’t know- people overseas via social media, and of course, my family.” – Ian Wee

Ian Wee, the Fittest Man in Singapore, is one of 236 athletes who qualified for the 2019 CrossFit Games by earning a National Champion title in the CrossFit Open.  This feat is all the more impressive when you consider that he’s also in the process of completing medical school, so his time spent training has been quite a bit less than many of his competitors.

A student at the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Ian has been participating in CrossFit off and on since 2013.  Over the past six years, he’s taken time away from the sport to focus on medical training and research (he’s published over 50 papers), and to compete as a National Olympic Weightlifter for Team Singapore, where he’s set national records in the snatch and total.

With the announcement of the changes to the 2019 Games selection process, Ian re-committed himself to regular CrossFit training and found ways to squeeze in extra sessions while keeping up with his studies.  His efforts paid off when he finished the Open in first place for his country, securing a berth to his rookie CrossFit Games.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Ian the 2019 CrossFit Games, and it was fun to compare notes on what it’s like to be a medical student while training as an elite athlete.  We talked about his experience representing his country at the Games, how he balances school with training, and what plans he has in store for the future.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Ian’s athletic background and how he made the transition from working out at home to training at an affiliate
  • His experience competing as a National Olympic Weightlifter for Team Singapore
  • His interest in research and some of the studies he’s published
  • Where Ian is at in medical school and how he fits in his CrossFit Games training
  • The factors that led him to pursue a career in medicine
  • Why he’s considering a career in surgery
  • The process for arranging to take time off to attend the Games
  • The support he received from his family, affiliate, and community as he prepared for the Games
  • His CrossFit Games experience
  • The next event on the horizon for Ian
  • The changes Ian made to his training to prepare for the Games
  • His approach to training for the 2020 season
  • Three things Ian does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on his health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to Ian

You can follow Ian on Instagram and Facebook.

Links:

Related episodes:

If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.

Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.