Oh Snap… Check Out Ginger!

Thanksgiving brings thoughts of pumpkin pie, the spice and everything nice around the holiday. Many recipes include cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to bring tradition together. It hasn’t been until this past year that I’ve uncovered the lesser known benefits to ginger. You know, that herb first discovered in southeast Asia thousands of years ago and used in many of today’s western cuisines. Before I share this knowledge, I’d like to point out that the following is not intended to provide any medical advice. This information is solely for informational purposes, based on my own research and how it has been of benefit to my own condition. So without further ado… let’s dig in! Ginger contains a bioactive compound called gingerol, which is a relative of capsaicin. [1] Most people have heard about capsaicin due to the burning sensation chilli peppers provide. Since both are closely related, both have been shown to provide unique natural anti-inflammatory effects. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, controlling inflammation can go a long way in improving overall quality of life. Natural anti-inflammatories have been suggested to help reduce risk for disease and assist with pain management. Disease is rooted in chronic inflammation in the body. Diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer is now being linked to chronic inflammation. [2, 3] While it’s true that some inflammation is a good thing, like after an injury, it’s the long-term that can cause damaging effects. [4] Keep in mind refined carbs like white flour and sugar, have been found to increase inflammation too. Dr. Alejandro Junger, author of Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, wrote an excellent book discussing the elimination of pro-inflammatory foods from our diet.

Ginger helps control chronic inflammation by partially inhibiting two important enzymes within the body — cyclooxygenase (COX) and 5-lipoxygenase (LOX). While over the counter NSAIDs block COX, they don’t affect LOX at all. A small amount of COX is also good for the body as it helps to protect the stomach lining and digestive tract. It has been suggested that ginger effects both COX and LOX, for a milder and broader range in controlling inflammation. [5, 6, 7] Since it doesn’t shut down the inflammatory process entirely, ginger seems like a better option to manage muscular discomfort and pain.

Ginger, a natural alternative and powerful super food. In 2009 there was a clinical trial published comparing the effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on women with severe menstrual pain. The results indicated that ginger (250mg capsules) is as effective as the NSAIDs mefenamic acid (250mg) and ibuprofen (400mg) in relieving symptoms. [8] Ginger was also tested against the NSAID diclofenac. Two groups of osteoarthritis patients took either ginger extract (340mg) or diclofenac (100mg) for four weeks. Both treatments were equally as effective, but the NSAID group experienced undesirable side effects of digestive pain and degeneration of their stomach mucosa. [9, 10] So here’s the silver lining, ginger does not cause stomach ulcers with frequent and continued use such as an NSAID might. In fact, quite the opposite. Ginger is very soothing. Thus, ginger ale is commonly use as a home remedy to alleviate indigestion by influencing gastric motility. [11]

Speaking of ginger ale, have you ever noticed that leading soft drink manufacturers claim they use real ginger in their product? I suppose that could fall into the category of “natural flavors”, but why promote something only to leave it out in a side panel list of ingredients? Eww, the indigestion of that thought just doesn’t sit well with me. So let’s re-solve to come up with a practical solution. If we look closely at the studies above, the sweet spot appears to be at least one gram daily. Capsules are convenient, but if you are like me and already take a kaleidoscope of colored pills, consider it’s original form by making your own ginger tea. Take 2-3 handfuls of ginger root, peel it and slice it into several pieces. Peeling can be occasionally problematic for myself, in which case I’ll cut more. It just makes for a stronger end product. Afterwards, bring four cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it is boiling, add in the ginger. Cover it and reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain the tea, it will be pungent. Add sweeteners of choice if desired. Obviously this is a less than scientific approach. I believe for those that prefer tea to coffee and drink four or more cups a day, this method should get you in the ballpark. I find a cup or two in the evening is quite nice.

I also use ground ginger as well. Using a food scale, I measure out a 1/4 – 1/2 gram and throw into my Ultra Peptide 2.0 shakes. The Cinnamon Roll flavor makes for an excellent pairing. Go one step further. Sprinkle in nutmeg and instantly it becomes Pumpkin Pie. Now, where’s the almond flour to make those crusts? …Oh the possibilities a culinary mind with some healthy resolve can achieve!

1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gingerol
2. Strzelecka M, Bzowska M, Koziel J, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of extracts from some traditional Mediterranean diet plants. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2005 Mar; 56 Suppl 1:139-56.
3. Ramos- Nino ME. The role of chronic inflammation in obesity-associated cancers. ISRN Oncol. 2013 May 30:697521.
4. Tabas I, Glass CK. Anti-inflammatory therapy in chronic disease: challenges and opportunities. Science. 2013 Jan 11:339(6116):166-72.
5. Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG. Ginger – an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. J Med Food. 2005 Summer; 8(2):125-32.
6. Burnett BP, Levy RM. 5- Lipoxygenase metabolic contributions to NSAID-induced organ toxicity. Adv Ther. 2012 Feb;29(2):79-98.
7. Kiuchi F, Iwakami S, Shibuya M, Hanaoka F, Sankawa U. Inhibition of prostaglandin and leukotriene biosynthesis by gingerols and diarylheptanoids. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1992;40(2):387–91.
8. Ozgoli, Goli, Moattar. Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb;15(2):129-32.
9. Drozdov VN, Kim VA, Tkachenko EV, Varvanina GG. Influence of a specific ginger combination on gastropathy conditions in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):583-8.
10. Graham DY, Opekun AR, Willingham FF, Qureshi WA. Visible small-intestinal mucosal injury in chronic NSAID users. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Jan;3(1):55-9.
11. Hu ML, Rayner CK, Wu KL, Chuah SK, Tai WC, Chou YP, Chiu YC, Chiu KW, Hu TH. Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan 7;17(1):105-10.
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Stream of Consciousness

With summer winding down, the stark realization of a few missed opportunities have been slightly unsettling. At times, life has little disregard in pressing us to the point where we feel almost crushed. The pressure can make it very difficult to remain positive. Sometimes too much to bear. Self-reflection turns to harsh criticism, and one tends to forget it’s more about the journey than the destination. For myself, most notably, the photo shoot I had planned. Despite achieving virtually my best physical stature to date, something held me back – my own heart. As a mentor and friend I often tell others to follow what’s inside their heart and not so much the infirmaries of the mind. The mind can be deceiving. It can hold one back, and justify nearly anything. Yet it’s only the heart that can be felt – beating. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes even I forget my own gems of wisdom and forget to feel. I just react, and by constantly reacting, I lose perspective. However, God seems to have a way of bringing me back to center. Time and time again, he refuses to allow my struggles to go to waste. God has given me so many heart transplants in my 31 years, I no longer keep track. It’s this driving force that also inevitably propels me in life. It pushes me towards a state of happiness when the world around seems far too chaotic. So in terms of the shoot, I promised myself from the onset that I would not commit to this endeavor if I could not dive in with enough passion, tenacity and stone iron will in which champions are made. Well, as I started to embark on one opportunity, my heart quickly began to lead me astray. For what I found in it’s place, as unlikely as it may seem, a heart of a champion – only of a toadally different name… a blessing to be known as “A-Love.”

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after.” —Henry David Thoreau


As a young boy, my grandparents use to take me fishing every summer. I thought nothing of it back then. Frequently I’d ham in front of the camera with not a single care in the world. As time slowly matured me into a man, a deeper appreciation and value for open waters started to come about. With it also brought a sense of renewal, being able to cleanse the mind. Emotionally I was coming out from a place where I had just written “Embracing Emotional Growth”. I needed a reboot. So I decided to go fishing one day in early spring. I had not been at it very long, when in the distance, I saw what I determined was an overly attractive female with a small child. I remember thinking she was probably the type of girl that used her looks a lot in life to get ahead. She stuck out and was out of her element, but I was genuinely intrigued. What brought her to such a spot? She seemed like she had no idea how to even bait a hook. After all the observations, I approached using my classic cerebral palsy charm… By nearly falling for the girl! Haha …I suppose it was more like an awkward lunging spin move of sorts at the girl. You get the picture! Whatever it was, I had enough to break the ice. She gave me a big smile, asking if I was alright, and we began to talk. It wasn’t before too long that this complete stranger began sharing her personal story of living with Crohn’s disease.

Wow, I thought. As anyone who’s ever faced disease and disability knows, it’s really easy to become overwhelmed. The pain, frustration, setbacks, and isolation that can occur each day when you feel no one understands. I was disappointed in judging her book by it’s cover. Our lives were different and yet somehow the same. That day I felt the pull towards her spirit knowing we could share our struggles together. There are many days where my legs hurt, my muscle get tight and my joints are sore. The intensity and sheer strength radiating from her heart was hard to miss. I immediately viewed her as an ally, yet was still a little taken off-guard at the pace of our conversation. Although we were just getting to know each other, we spoke as if we were long time friends not missing a beat. She not only gave me a sense of pride in her ability to OVERCOME physical adversity much like myself, but also hooked me in how we’ve both chosen to outwardly express such a trait… as athletes.

A-Love was a softball player. Apparently, a rather good softball player might I add. It made complete sense as to why I could pitch her my ideas about life, and she would throw the sass right back. She’s was doing it for years. Strongly loyal to the game and fiercely competitive, she asked for a snapshot into my world. I told her about my foray into bodybuilding, my background with nutrition and what I’m most proud of – being a coach. A-Love shared she wished she could help others in the same capacity as I have done. I advised her it’s not for the faint of heart. I shared being a social worker by profession helps. However, I explained it takes a lot of TLC to one’s own well-being and emotional fitness in order to reap the rewards. Like any sport, one must practice daily and hone their own skill. It becomes a perpetual work in progress. But above all, I told her, one must keep an open heart and a honest transparency to yourself as well as those in which you care.

I felt a bit uneasy. A-Love’s hook was still bare. I offered to help. I think I triggered her in a way that she quickly and adamantly said, “No, I got it.” …No problem. One look at my palsyfied hand, and she probably thought I was joking. Then I thought about my flawless pirouette moments earlier. Still embarrassed, she had me wanting to pretend I was joking too! So I kept watching as she furiously fumbled around. A-Love almost succeeded on several occasions. But just shy of completion, for some strange reason, she would start the process all over again. I could hear her frustration. She voiced, “If it’s not on perfect, I’m afraid I’ll lose something amazing, ya know?” The light bulb went off inside my head. “I suppose” I said with a grin, “Ever consider using a lure instead?” I turned to show her my tackle box. Inside, I had placed creative affirmations under every lure: Forgiveness, Confidence, Faith, Healing etc. A visual reminder of self kindness. I encouraged her to take what she needed. I proclaimed, “Cast it out there far and wide… watch as it returns to you every time.” She laughed as if she were unsure of herself. A-Love asked, “Like a prayer?!?” I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud. That eerie sense of familiarity passed through me once again. I found her so cute in that moment. However this time, it also accompanied fear. It felt unstable, edgy, and uncertain. Where it was stemming from was unclear. It seemed to coincide with this underground welling I had. Perhaps the very reason I was out there fishing that day. Enough pressure to move my tectonic plates towards another layer of self-discovery deep within. But where was it shifting towards… and what could it all mean?

To be continued…

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Livin’ on a Prayer

032913143343The year was 2005. I was fresh out of college and graduated a semester late. You know how it is when you come out. You have this idea that the world is your muse. You come to think that since you’ve put in all those years, have a collegiate diploma in hand, prospective employers would be jumping at the chance to hire someone with your credentials… Yeah, unfortunately not so much. Despite my multiple resume submissions and countless interview attempts, I found myself unable to gain full-time employment.

So what’s a young aspiring bodybuilder to do in order to support his increasing nutritional demands? I became a part-time substitute teacher, that’s what. Having a BA in Social Work, it provided me a start. Still, there were many anxiety filled mornings not knowing whether I’d have a job to go to that day or not. I was in need of some supplemental income. Income to purchase some protein supplements. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head. Ah yes, I thought. What I needed to do was to hustle some of my mental muscle.

Almost a decade ago, bodybuilding and fitness message boards on the internet were not anything like what you see today. It may be hard to imagine for some, but boards were mostly centered around training, nutrition, and self-experimentation. Supplements were not pushed as magic pills or powders that were essential to working out. Instead they were discussed as adjuncts to optimize recovery. Today, one only has to check out the Bodybuilding.com forums to see company heads and representatives advertise their latest kitchen sink or Dr. Oz hyped formulas. For the most part, the message boards are void of what made them so great in the first place – stimulating conversation centered around working out!

I must have tried well over a dozen different brands of protein powder back in the day. Everything from the cheapest whey I could find to what was considered by some as the higher-end blends. They all had one thing in common – no discernible taste. Slowly but surely a small buzz began to grow for one small company out of St. Charles, Illinois that was determined to change the landscape of protein products forever. Recognizing the need for something completely different, Xtreme Formulations launched their flagship product “Ultra Peptide” just prior to my graduation. As if it were a Christmas memory from childhood, I remember mixing and drinking my first shake. The impact of what I had tasted was of seismic proportion. It almost had my taste buds confused for a McDonald’s milkshake.

From that moment forward I became a repeat customer. As my progress in the gym continued, I considered it a staple. Eventually there came a time where I bought so much of it; the company owner took notice. We started corresponding through email, talking shop and becoming friends. From the beginning, I had a great deal of respect and appreciation for Dave Rosland. His passion and craftsmanship for the company grew more and more evident as we conversed. Not only is he a businessman, but he’s also an avid lifter who also uses his own products. Best of all, Dave is completely transparent. I tend to believe we are the sum of the friends we allow into our lives. Friends can help lift us up in life, or tear us down. Friends can also be a guide or mentor and inspire us stay true to what you believe in, even if it’s a hard road to travel. While some supplement companies skirt around quality control and cGMP compliance protocols, Dave has prided himself in going the extra mile. Although slightly more costly to the consumer, Xtreme Formulations can certify that all products are produced in an FDA, USDA, and cGMP inspected facility. As a result, the integrity of the brand has spoken for itself over the years. As consumers are becoming more aware of just how unregulated the supplement industry can be, it’s always welcoming to know there are still a few good guys left.

Upon hanging out together the following year at the Arnold Classic in Ohio, Dave offered me a position within the company as a consultant and sponsored athlete. As one could imagine, I was ecstatic. A very proud moment for me. I was officially able to stand behind and endorse not only a brand, but a mindset of quality nutritional products that others could benefit from all over the world. Sure, while Xtreme Formulations caters to the dedicated athlete at it’s core; I knew going in a great tasting protein powder could also be enjoyed by the weekend warrior or to supplement the dietary needs of those with cerebral palsy as well. Over the years I’ve received multiple emails from those who have seen my articles from Bodybuilding.com. Whether it be friends of friends or parents of those directly affected by cerebral palsy, the most common question I get asked is my opinion on creative ways to increase their loved ones protein intake that is also easy to digest.

Dave Rosland, Myself, and Layne Norton - 2006 Arnold Classic

Dave Rosland, Myself, and Layne Norton – 2006 Arnold Classic

For many years, whey protein isolate has been the gold standard within the athletic community to enhance overall recovery. Whey protein isolate is considered easy to digest due to being low in lactose and having the ability to run through the gastrointestinal tract in about 20 minutes. Here’s two studies worth checking out showing whey’s beneficial aspects on digestion in CP:

Whey- vs casein-based enteral formula and gastrointestinal function in children with cerebral palsy.
Savage K, Kritas S, Schwarzer A, Davidson G, Omari T.
JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2012 Jan;36(1 Suppl):118S-23S. doi: 10.1177/0148607111428139.
The effect of protein composition in liquid meals on gastric emptying rate in children with cerebral palsy.
Brun AC, Størdal K, Johannesdottir GB, Bentsen BS, Medhus AW.
Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb;31(1):108-12. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.07.009. Epub 2011 Aug 11.


Having cerebral palsy myself, I know that it is important to eat a diet high in protein. This is because my body’s added spasticity creates a greater stress and demand for my muscles both in and out of the gym. Without taking steps to promote active recovery through dietary means, I’ve noticed my mobility begins to suffer. I become more fatigued with less stamina to keep up with everyday tasks of living. For those looking for a whey only product, Xtreme Formulations created Ultra Peptide Whey to serve this purpose. Unfortunately, whey does have a few downfalls to note.

Upon mixing in water, whey tends to be thin and lacks volume. In other words, whey protein offers little in the ‘whey’ of satiety. For this reason, whey can be difficult to be utilized as a meal replacement. It also doesn’t lend itself well to making other food items such as protein pudding, mock ice creams or mini cakes. All of which recipes can be found online. The solution to this problem came in the form of Ultra Peptide 2.0 – an all inclusive low-carb meal, specifically targeting the repair and acquisition of lean muscle tissue. To do this, Xtreme uses a 51/49 ratio of a slower digesting micellar casein to whey isolate as a protein component. They also included healthy fats or essential fatty acids to the mix after pioneering efforts to bring you the world’s first sunflower oil powder encapsulated in caseinate. This ensures these nourishing fats will remain protected and not go rancid from high summer temperatures. Rounding things out, a small dose of creatine monohydrate was included as well. Just like what’s found in a typical serving of red meat… For my goals, there is no question. Ultra Peptide 2.0 ranks as my favorite protein product of the brand. With flavors like Chocolate Mint, Cinnamon Roll and Lemon Cream Pie, getting enough daily protein isn’t a hassle by any means. I drink a 2 scoop shake or mix up a batch of pudding every morning for breakfast. I love it because while it’s not technically ‘Paleo’, it is in-line with my otherwise low-carb lifestyle.

A Quick and Easy One Minute Ultra Peptide 2.0 Microwave Cake

A Quick and Easy One Minute Ultra Peptide 2.0 Microwave Cake

Obviously Xtreme Formulations (XFMuscle.com) has been great to me over the years. I’ve been ever so thankful to be a part of their team. I wanted to use this site to give recognition to my sponsor for the great products and customer service they provide. But there’s a little more to the story. Xtreme Formulations has been a huge supporter of my charitable cause – United Cerebral Palsy. When Xtreme heard I wanted to work with United Cerebral Palsy of Central PA on a fund-raising opportunity and give back to those that helped me the most as a child, they were eager to help. They had more exposure, and helped by placing links on their website for orders of my “Overcome” wristbands. It helped also by saving me time and money by absorbing shipping and handling costs. Xtreme had all that was needed, with everything there to ship immediately. Even though it’s been a major blessing to me, I could still use some help from my loyal followers.

Upon selling out of my initial run in 2008, we were able to raise a $600 donation. I was proud of this accomplishment and didn’t think there was enough demand for a second run. Little by little over the years, I received many emails, Facebook messages and text asking where they could get one. After seeing production cost go down and realizing I could get almost double the amount for the same price as I had made 5 years ago, a second run was considered. I was hesitant. The first run took a while to sell out. Then I remembered, what wearing my own wristband represented. Overcoming not just some, but all of life’s obstacles, making what once appeared impossible – possible. The plan was set with a certain goal in mind – $1500. Quite the amount to be donated this time around. A combined estimated total from what I’ve sold locally, has us about half way there. The finish line is in sight. So grab a band, and we’ll make it (to our goal) I swear! Haha, sorry. That one was far too good to pass up… but you get the point. Until next time, be kind to yourselves!

‘Overcome Band’ Direct Link:



Edit: Since UPS shipping is based on weight, please consider patronizing my sponsor to keep shipping costs from exceeding your charitable donation. Thanks again for all the support!

– Toad

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Client Testimonial: Mark Bohn

Every once in a while I’ll receive an email that really makes me smile and reignites the passion in my heart for what I do. While life seemingly hasn’t been all too kind as of late, I am reminded of my greatest fear – Failure. It is through my faith and the inspiration of others that I shall not fear failure. I will fear mediocrity instead. If I resolve to NEVER quit then there is no failure in life, only setbacks.


The background story… Mark Bohn, former drummer of the band Hierosonic, contacted me a couple months ago inquiring as to whether I had the time to work with him again since relocating from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. I previously hadn’t worked with Mark officially, but had known him for quite a few years and offered my help as I do many of the locals when I see them out and about in the gym. I had always admired Mark’s work ethic and I’d be half remiss to not graciously accept his opportunity. He required very little guidance and is honest in his own accountability. As a coach, you couldn’t ask for more willing client to work with. Naturally, it wasn’t before long that I spotted the following on his Facebook wall:

“So I know this is a superficial [Facebook] post, but it makes me happy. In 3 weeks I lost 30 lbs gained over 20 lbs of power per workout each week and still going strong. Amazing workout cooked up by my friend Jordan Frantz! Thank you man!”

As Mark progressed, we also talked about life in general and each of our endeavors as I typically do with clients. I shared with Mark this website, albeit a little apprehensive at first. After all, Mark does an excellent job as a graphic designer and built his wife’s website (www.sugardame.com). He encouraged the idea of adding testimonials to the site. I agreed, however I told him I had yet to have anyone offer. I had no qualms displaying one proudly on my site… Well, I guess he decided to change all that for me. Quite honestly, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you Mark for being the first. May both our businesses prosper and grow as a result of your kindness.

“All my life I lifted weights, nothing serious, but I wanted the arms, the chest and so on. I didn’t become real serious about it till about 7 years ago, I joined a gym in my home town of Halifax, PA. I couldn’t get the size, couldn’t gain weight, I was stuck at a scrawny 150 lbs at 5’11”. About a year into it I started talking to Jordan about lifting, seeing the amazing progress and ability he gained. He informed me about certain nutritional regimes and lifting strategies, I started getting more size and great lifts, and feeling fantastic! I moved about 4 years ago to Nashville, TN, I didn’t have a gym or anything till about 6 months ago, in that time I lost the strength, gained some weight (not the positive one) and felt bland. I messaged Jordan, let him know what my goals were, what equipment I had available to me and so on. With my job being a graphic designer and studio drummer, I traveled a lot so hotel gyms were key in the beginning. So he took all of what I gave him and he concocted this amazing workout, I joined a gym and started right into it. Within weeks I gained almost 10 lbs of power per work out, gained insane size in my arms, legs and chest. I have remained on the same program even to this day, I am doing weights and lifts I couldn’t even come close to when I previously started lifting 7 years ago. The thing that impressed my the most, was the power and how fast it came back and how fast it increased, and I give all that credit to the program designed by Jordan. Thank you so much Jordan.”

Mark also attached a picture of his current progress to be posted as well.  He voiced concern and wanted to make sure my audience knew this photograph was not altered due to his chosen career path. I wouldn’t stand for it any other way but legit. Quite inspiring indeed…


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Embracing Emotional Growth

Wow, it’s been nearly two months since my last post. Time flies when you are out making life happen. I apologize for not being more responsible and writing as much as planned. My initial hopes were to add new content every two weeks, but since this site has taken off I’ve been keeping myself rather busy with inquiries about working with some really cool people, which I hope to showcase sometime in the future. Not only has business increased, but I’ve also been preparing to do a potential photo shoot this summer with a good friend. All the while, striving to find some resemblance of balance with a social life and attempts at dating.

Speaking of dating…

The thought of dating sometimes conjures up a mixed bag of emotions, as it would almost anyone. Throw something like a cerebral palsy into the bowl of chips and you have yourself a certified bag of party mix from the stories one could tell. But like with most things in life, things aren’t always as they appear. I’m going to go a bit deeper and show some raw vulnerability here. Most would believe for as positive and successful that I’ve been, it has come with little cost. As if the “overcome” mantra resonates on high every moment of each day. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. I’ve had my fair share of demons to battle, nasty and painful demons; the type that have eroded and consumed me. Even in the face of what appeared to be an otherwise positive and rich life, I’ve been miserable. While most days have not been nearly as dark, often times I still reach out to pursue my own courage, patience, and determination.


Presented by my grandmother upon my last orthopedic foot surgery.

Outside of faith, many of times I have only to look to my grandmother who inspires me with her own resiliency to rally our family in times of great need. Not only does my grandmother possess multiple positive traits to help pilot our family, but she has also passed on a few of those traits to me as well. Above all, the one idea I’ve learned to value the most — transparency in accepting our own faults. It has been by virtue of this progressive thinking that has unlocked several doors for me in a journey to full consciousness. I’ve since come to realize, if I allow fear of judgement to get in the way of expressing who I am or what I’m learning, I will never become an effective life coach, mentor or role model. It’s through ones own trials and tribulations, that others can benefit. Taking a proactive stance, the key is making effort in bettering ourselves in the face of adversity. Even though outwardly traumatic events appear painful, for those courageous enough to begin the healing process, the end result is a gift that can be shared much like paying an act of kindness forward. Looking back, there was a time where the fear of failure would provide such an anxiety filled response, I would automatically initiate self defeat. Most of these feelings stem from childhood, but as I came into my own as an adult and more aware of my feelings, I started to overcompensate. I suppose I could call it an ‘unintended consequence’… an unintended consequence of taking control and self-empowerment to the extreme. Obsession… a personal hell giving way to a life unbalanced, and in this case, the high price of a love lost.

Throughout adolescence I tried desperately hard to seek acceptance and fit in. Most of my self-worth was wrapped up in my outward appearance. I was less concerned about my character and the type of person I was from the inside. Instead, all that seemed to matter was how I looked. I often felt devalued and had this reoccurring belief that I would always be subjected to settle for less in life. So in that respect, it’s astonishing to realize just how far I’ve come. A bit humorous honestly. After all those years of longing to be loved in spite of what I looked like, I now desire the exact opposite. I give much credit to my passion in bodybuilding for completely transforming my body, mind & spirit into what it is today. As you can imagine, getting there was not easy. Along that journey, there were many firsts, love was one of them. It was not that long ago that I met a woman to whom I was instantly attracted. It was very surreal to me in that I could not understand why I felt so initially mesmerized. Sure, I had been attracted to others before, but not like this. It was so strong that she literally changed the game for me. She embodied everything I ever wanted, I ever dreamed, and best of all she desired me too. She desired me for who I was as a person, long before the muscles. She made me feel safe, nurtured and provided me respite from my past hurt. We both had similar circumstances growing up. It was an epic pairing of two individuals complementing each others emotional needs at a time when they needed it the most.

For years our relationship continued to grow and plans were made for our future. From the outside, things appeared perfect. But little by little those long forgotten seeds of doubt started to create space between us. Neither of us knew exactly what was going on, or were insightful enough to know how to change the course of our own trajectory, but both of us felt the familiar pain of abandonment equally. Somewhere we had lost ourselves in the darkness and could not find a way back… to each other. You see… when bodybuilding is all you have known for a decade, it has a way of getting you through the tough times. It is always there for you to fall back on. There were many times I saw her in pain and did not know how to help her. I felt terrible and tried desperately to talk things out. No matter how hard I tried, it seemed as though the only resolution was to weather the storm. So that’s what I did. In my mind, I put us on hold thinking our relationship would get better in a few months. I saw no reason why it wouldn’t. We were just going through a rough patch and this was probably just the first of many in a life together. My line of thought was that life would be completely miserable if I allowed both of us to be affected by such a setback. So to keep me positive, I reverted to what I knew best – working out. It was my exit from sustaining hurt. Little did I know, she felt more abandoned in the process.

As our relationship spiraled more and more out of control, the reality was I had felt tremendous guilt and shame. Numerous times the thought occurred to me, perhaps I was placing too much time and effort into my bodybuilding endeavors. What appeared from the distance to be a perfect life, was in reality being maintained with exhaustive effort. The obsessive drive had taken over, draining my energies such that I literally did not, and could not, focus my attention on anything outside of those pursuits. To regain control, I pushed myself harder and longer in the gym — not outdoing myself physically was not only unacceptable, it was truly frightening. She had given me much praise throughout our relationship when I was at my leanest. Then nothing… Those painful demons of insecurity had come back with a vengeance. It felt so good to be empowered, to see how far I’ve come in my achievements, and have others proud of me. She at one time was proud of me and I was proud of her for seeing that in me. I thought perhaps the reason I was no longer attractive in her eyes, was because she had wanted me to look even better. I had become so hyper-focused on fulfilling an image, on pursuing goals I didn’t fully know the origin of, that I didn’t even realize how distant I’d become to her. When you’re after perfection, the idea of missing your regularly-scheduled meal time in favor of a dinner date with your  lover isn’t fully embraced. Even though a part of me yearned to comply, the daily structure of a bodybuilding lifestyle kept me safe from the fear of her rejection. The routine had become me, and I had become the routine. Yet some small part of me, the part I feared, was screaming to escape the monotonously distant and robotic existence that I had unintentionally created.

Side090708After she left and moved out of my life, I spent countless weeks ping-ponging between denial and anger. Only later to be accompanied by bouts of severe depression. I could not fathom, for the life of me, how a person of her magnitude could come into my life and eventually betray my trust. Her departure was too much for my brain to handle. It was a near fatal system error that threatened to completely crash my internal hard drive. None of it seemed to make sense. It was as if with a mere flick of a switch, life as I knew it had flat-lined. Even still, I could not escape the projection reel in my mind playing the same loop of dead memories over and over again. In complete solitude, I was left with the pain of knowing she was GONE. I had a hand in her leaving. It made me more sick emotionally than I’ve ever felt. The worst part of it all wasn’t losing her, it was losing me.

Thoreau once said, “Not til we are lost, do we begin to find ourselves”. It is in life’s darkest moments that we discover within ourselves an inextinguishable light. So maybe I briefly forgot just who I was. We all do from time to time. There are times when you must, you will, when having nothing else to fall back on. I was in sad shape and everyday was a constant battle to love myself enough to move forward. I knew I needed help. I received some counseling and started uncovering some long forgotten boxes of emotion I had stored away in the depths of my soul for years. Little by little I revealed secrets of a lost self I had suppressed and tried desperately to believe were in my past. It never occurred to me that much like storing belongings in a dark basement, one must process those feelings eventually. Otherwise they are stored and never leave you until one day you find yourself drowning in your own repression. I was scared. I was scared to think that I may never feel the same way again. I was even more scared to allow love back into my life and allow it to ever happen again. I took things one day at a time, sometimes by the hour or even minute. Then came a turning point… I mourned her loss.

Up until that point, I had this preconceived notion I needed to be strong, at all times. After all, what kind of fraud would I be if I couldn’t get over my own broken heart. I was told multiple times by several acquaintances that it was in the past, I just needed to forget and move on — Simple right? I had forced myself to become so busy, I never had any rest. I had things to do. I had no time to feel weak. One day I got so sick, and so tired of being sick and tired, I just gave in. I finally gave myself permission to fully live in the moment and feel something. I felt the frustration, I felt the impatience with my own recovery. I cried out and got as angry as I needed about not having my needs met. The flood of emotions overcame me. Reminiscent of the scene in ‘Forest Gump’ where Captain Dan is high atop the sail mast cursing at God during the storm… yeah, life can be pretty stormy at times. But, as it’s been said, every storm eventually runs out of rain. Just like Captain Dan’s, so did mine, and with it came acceptance. Once I accepted and embraced my loss, it clicked for me. The more I resist my feelings, the more those feelings will persist. Resist long enough and those feelings will grow into resentment, and just like any emotional burden, the end result is baggage we carry.

After I had surrendered and completely processed my feelings, I was free at last. What emerged was a man who had a greater respect for his own childhood wounds. By acknowledging my past, it had forced me to reevaluate those inner demons which had played a role in defining myself as a person – feeling devalued. I bounced back and got in the zone of what made me feel alive again; enriching the lives of others. I was not cured, nor was I fixed, but I was at peace knowing I found the insight and courage needed to shift momentum from being obsessed to a more balanced and compassionate person. I became more accepting of my faults, understanding my journey would not stop there. In fact, dieting down to do this upcoming photo shoot I mention has me on edge as it has a very familiar unhinged feel to it. It’s okay, I’m now aware to these feelings. My faith is bigger than my fears. My heart now stronger than my heartbreak, I’ll continue on. A constant work in progress, as we all are. Resolve to embrace those suppressed feelings deep inside. It does not make you weak. Seek ways let go and be free too. True strength is not giving up on yourself when life gives you every reason to do otherwise. That’s what makes us champions. With this new found determination, I have been able to face more of my own fears. I can better appreciate that difficulty and challenges create opportunity in life. The whole experience has encouraged me to be more transparent and a better role model for those I mentor. Thankfully through God’s grace I’m able to share a story that may begin to open some dialogue and promote the healing process for the ones who are desperate for something more. Be well my friends.

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Got Guts?

Being in the midst of cold and flu season, I frequently get asked what measures I take to remain healthy during the unpredictable winter months. My answers typically vary from person to person depending of their depth of understanding towards the topic, as well as what category they currently fall into: Lessening the Duration or Preventative Maintenance. If strictly the former, I highly recommend the acronym ACEZ plus rest. Out of many of the over the counter nutraceuticals currently available, I find a combination of Astragalus, Vitamin C, Elderberry, and Zinc to be the most effective in myself as well as my clients. Perhaps in a future blog post I can go more in depth as to why I’ve chosen these special four and a review of the current scientific data.

However, the more enlightening of the two, in my humble opinion, is what we can do on a day to day basis to prevent illness. I’m going to attempt writing a layman’s version that most can follow, so bear with me. If you didn’t already know, seventy-to eighty-percent of your immune system resides in your gut. The super selective mucosal lining in your small intestines is much like your own skin and act as a barrier to protect you from environmental pathogens. At any given time, there is an estimated three to four pounds of  bacteria and yeast living within your intestines. In a perfect world the good bacteria outweigh the far less beneficial yeast as they all compete for nutrients from the food you eat. So we live life to the best of our abilities, and just shy of living in a bubble, to a greater extent most of us really can’t control many of the environments we subject our bodies to everyday. We all get sick from time to time. Every time you swallow antibiotics, you kill the beneficial bacteria within your intestines. When you do so, you upset the natural balance allowing yeasts to thrive. Yeasts can use their tendrils to literally poke holes through the lining of your intestinal wall , allowing your digestive tract to become more porous [1]… Yeast is also used to make bread, making me hungry… to continue enriching the minds of many, HA!


I’m sure most everyone has heard of the word gluten, and the term “gluten-free” or someone choosing to eat a gluten-free diet. There is much value to be had in understanding why. We can and do set-up the environment in which our intestines work 24/7 with the foods we eat. Gluten (think grains), along with eggs and corn are among the top most common intestinal irritants one can consume. This is in part because the ancient grains of yesteryear are not the same grains of today due to extreme efforts towards modern industrialization leading to some serious unintended consequences… Here’s the take home. Every time grains (or any food allergy you may have) touch the intestines, an inflammatory immune response is mounted which damages it’s mucosal lining. Irritable Bowel Syndrome begins and with time Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs, which refers to an inflammatory state of the bowel, and causes the gut’s inability to regulate the trafficking of nutrients leading to malabsorption.  Still despite digestion being poor, nutrients can be absorbed big and small along with serious toxic agents and chemicals contained in many of today’s processed pre-packaged “convenience” foods [2]… and from what I’ve read, there is at least two studies linking leaky gut to cause auto-immune diseases [3] such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis to name a few. The latter as a result of total systemic inflammation as nano-molecules from the food we ingest migrate towards our joints. In an effort to stop this process, the body then launches white blood cells to those sites. Unfortunately because of the constant demand and stress on our system, our bodies can’t always keep up.  Gastroparesis – otherwise known as delayed gastric emptying, is thought to be due to an auto-immune response triggered by a viral infection. [4] Chronic intestinal inflammation also causes a widening of the spaces between cells allowing bacteria, viruses, parasites and yeast to pass into the bloodstream. Again, I question what part of these conditions are convenient verses a proactive dietary approach to prevention?

The main reason I bring up Gastroparesis is because there appears to be a recent influx of cases within my family and network of friends. I believe it’s only going to get worse in years to come, unless we begin taking a hard look at what we are putting into our mouths. My own grandmother is currently battling with the condition and has made some great strides with a few dietary adjustments. So allow me to be a guide in pointing you towards the right direction. There is literally tons of insightful and practical information regarding this topic. The information I’m about to provide is just a condensed version. Start by eating more of a paleolithic diet and embracing the lifestyle that comes along with it. Refer back to my post entitled: Eat Your Sprouts! Grass-fed meat, green vegetables, fermented vegetables (probiotics), rice, coconut oil and various essential fatty acids is a solid foundation to build upon. Lots could be said for homemade bone broths and soups as well…  By default of changing the way you are preparing and consuming food, you will be eliminating the majority of both processed foods and sugar. The need to eliminate sugar is important because if the body has been overpopulated by yeast (think also yeast infections), restricting sugar will effectively starve them to death.

Second tip, utilizing supplementation. Consider supplementing with L- Glutamine. One of the reasons why bone broth is great. Glutamine improves functioning of the intestinal walls and is critical for immune regulation of intestinal IgA. IgA is an antibody that that attacks virus and bacterial pathogens. Probiotics are another piece of the puzzle. Probiotic supplements assist with replacing the species of bacteria that foster inflammation within the intestine and help aid digestion. Among their many tasks, these live microorganisms aid in fermenting (and utilizing) carbohydrates, aid the body in absorbing nutrients from food, and boost immunity within the body. Any excellent probiotic formula will include Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). These compounds are found naturally in fermented foods. The FOS helps feed probiotic bacteria and allows them to flourish.[5] One of my absolute favorite formulas out on the market for daily use is EvoMuse’s Gut Health. It contains a unique set of good bacteria along with FOS to help alleviate and manage the symptoms of IBS, leaky gut as well as whole body inflammation. According to a 2011 study published by the Public Library of Science, L. ccasei DN-144 001 improves symptoms of colitis by strengthening the gut wall function. This is also true of L. ccasei DN-144 001 for cases of IBS, and Crohn’s disease.


Last but certainly not least, do not underestimate the power of sleep. Lack of sleep will decrease the body’s ability to manage stress. When you are stressed and eating on the run, poor digestion is often the result. If you digestive tract is inflamed to begin with, you end up falling into the same vicious cycle over and over. It stands to reason that if our bodies recover from exercise and recharge our brains while we sleep, so wouldn’t the same repair happen to our guts at night?

1. http: //articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/06/18/antibiotics-bacteria.aspx
2. http: //www.helpmychronicpain.com/blog/?Tag=Leaky%20Gut
3. http: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896
    http: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19538307
4.  http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastroparesis
5. http: //www.jackkruse.com/the-leaky-gut-prescription/
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Experiences with Spinal Manipulative Therapy

I often find myself thinking about the permeating thought that people come in and out of one’s life with a purpose. This thought touches deeply upon my own faith in God and his ability to guide us towards the best possible outcome wherever life take us at any given point in time. Frequently I remind myself that specific collisions are not always meant for the betterment of myself, but rather perhaps more geared towards the one who seeks for something more. I struggle a lot with making sense of this world, organizing and consolidating into tinier little more digestible packages for my mind and heart to process. However, maybe that’s how I’m able to remain so positive in life, despite the challenges of Cerebral Palsy, by focusing more on trusting my own power to persevere and re-solve whatever perceived problem life throws my direction…

To set you up for the story I’m about to tell, we have to travel back to my childhood. Growing up in a small town has it’s advantages with regard to it’s sense of community. Some of my fondest memories were Wiffle Ball, or Kickball games in the backyard with neighbors down the street. Sometimes we’d also rally around the television to have a Power Pad tournament on the original NES too. There was about 5 or 6 of us all within a couple years of each other and throughout elementary, it made for some great times after school. One day I was introduced to a cousin of my neighbor named Heath. Outside of having one of the coolest Nintendo games I’ve ever seen, Heath seemed a little more aware about the world around him. At the time, I didn’t completely recognize nor see the value in such a future gilded trait, but apparently it was enough to leave a lasting impression. I saw Heath very infrequently and as the years past by the memory of those interactions faded, almost forgotten…

Power Pad

Flash forward until about two years ago. I’m 28 and the close thing to a  ‘Power Set’  I play these days is on the Leg Press. I was set deep in the hole to maximize my range of motion and getting ready for my first attempt at pressing 400 pounds. I was very close to getting this a few times before, but it kept eluding me. Call it the survivor in me, call it the warrior. I looked down at my wristband and thought this would be the day. I was hell bent on my own success… Unfortunately, It wasn’t meant to be. I pushed it too far, and this time bit off a little more than I could chew. I hurt myself, badly. For several days I could not bend at the waist. I was miserable and in agony. I quickly became depressed as mentally I thought my lifting career was over. Physically – well, I couldn’t have thanked my girlfriend at the time enough. She did quite a bit for me. Best of all, she quelled the anxiety and animosity I had against myself in order to seek some professional help. As it’s been said, ‘When you are down to nothing, God is up to something’.

My father had been a great football player back in his prime playing high school, college and even signing as a free agent to the Philadelphia Eagles. He had been introduced to chiropractic care and espoused it’s benefits for as long as I could remember. Having CP, chiropractors in general had always been on my radar due to the different length in my legs as well as having mild scoliosis. Chiropractic treatments used as an adjunct to physical therapy certainly warranted further investigation. Since my injury was specific to the back, instead of seeking the advice of my PCP who didn’t work with too many athletes, the day of finding a good chiropractor came sooner than ever anticipated. Initially, I tried getting in with the same doctor my father saw. No luck there, $ 300 upfront for X-Rays and wouldn’t accept my insurance. I started asking around my gym a bit for recommendations and to my surprise, quite a few dropped the same name – Altland. The name didn’t ring any immediate bells, but it was unique enough in my world that it came with an odd familiarity. I called the number I was given and was set-up with an appointment for the following week.


After filling out the standard medical history forms and liability waivers the day of, I was taken back to one of the treatment rooms. Prior to the doc seeing me, I was given some percussion massage while laying on my stomach with my head buried into the table. “Hey, I don’t know if you remember me? … but I surely remember you.”, a voice said. OK, that’s not hard, I chuckled to myself. Being blessed with the CP curse, it has provided a heightened perspective to the world around me. I know what it’s like to be both popularized and discriminated against for something beyond my control. I’ve been able to live on both sides of the tracks. Merely due to just who I am, people know me. Sometimes without me really knowing them. He continued to talk. His voice combed the Rolodex of my mind… it was Heath! Wow, I thought. This is crazy. From that moment forward, my mind was at ease. Heath was going to be my new body mechanic and I had complete faith I was in good hands. He educated me on the value of custom orthotics and talked to me a bit about nutrition. What made my initial treatment such a breeze was that we were on the same page. Heath’s insight was refreshing and found his genuine concern for my well-being to be second to none. I had always thought my left (CP side) leg was shorter than my right. To my surprise, my right is shorter due to bearing most my weight on that side causing major imbalance. Compounding that issue, I also have more muscle mass on my right side. This causes my spine to naturally shift causing disc problems effecting my gait and balance. To me, this information was invaluable. Heath taught the importance of stretching daily, especially my hamstrings as they can be notoriously tight for those affected by Cerebral Palsy. Truly an incredible guy who has help me immensely, probably more than I could ever repay. He’s exactly the type of person I find even myself inspiring to be like. That aside, it took about 8 weeks to get feeling close to normal. Since that time, I’ve visited Heath in his office once a month for a tune up both mentally and physically. I didn’t just stop with aligning my spine. Heath has had this innate ability to set my mind right too, providing me an outlet for mental clarity and perspective … the toadal lift!

If you were ever on the fence about chiropractic care for you or a loved one, I say do it. It has been nothing but a rewarding experience for myself. I can honestly say I’ve been overwhelmingly pleased with the results. When your spine is not properly aligned, you could lose more than half of your total nerve and muscle function. Think about what this could mean for those of us with CP… an even greater reduced quality of life. A good qualified licensed chiropractor can treat kids, even pets. With regular treatments, I was finally able to press that 400 pounds and then some. Today, I’m virtually pain free. My overall sense of balance and range of motion has improved. I have better digestion, leading to increased nutrient uptake. Also my tactile hypersensitivity has also been reduced. In my humble opinion, chiropractic care is not junk science. Like with any doctor, do your research and get recommendations. Good and bad doctors abound, my store was worth sharing in the hopes of helping others. Over the course of the next year, Heath has plans to work with me on a new technique which apparently has been touted as a potential “cure” for CP from the pioneer of this method. A bold claim, I know. I am extremely skeptical, but trying to keep and open mind that it will elicit some additional positive effects. The technique centers around optimizing the body’s ability to re-energize, repair and perhaps regenerate both myelin and meninges. As I previously hinted in my post: Eat Your Sprouts!, it is essentially important for all of us, including those affected with CP, to consume generous amounts of vitamins B-1, B-6, B-9, B-12, magnesium, and sulfur along with omega-3 fatty acids, choline and iodine. These nutrients provide the raw building materials needed to insulate healthy myelin, setting the environment needed to lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and you guessed it – Cerebral Palsy. So stay tuned, updates to follow.


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