Objects in the Rearview…

Courtesy of L.E. Photography

Courtesy of L.E. Photography

 
In the words of Sonny Sandoval, “Everyday is a new day, I’m thankful for every breath I take…” Sometimes I forget just how lucky I am to be here… in this moment, sharing my successes with you. Sometimes I forget how my life could have changed in an instant and with it, perhaps plans for this website as well. There are times I lose sight of the promise I made to myself a few years back. It was to inspire, motivate, and challenge others to be their very best. In order to get where I want to go in the future, I need not forget the past. Those that know me, know how TheUnlikelyToad was born. Today I’m taking that story one step further. I’m sharing with you the turning point which clarified my life’s purpose, feeling the force of something much greater than myself. For a moment, just for a moment in time, it was a day my world stood still.

February 7th, 2007 – One month shy of a 6 year anniversary. 6:00 am… My alarm clock goes off. Like most mornings, I don’t feel like getting up. I look outside my bedroom window, frost and a light coating of snow on the ground below. I need to get moving. The aftermath of a heavy chest and shoulder routine is still felt from the night before. I have no time to be pokey before work. I grab for my container of what I like to call “Combat Cocktail” bedside and began the droning march of my morning routine. I go outside to start my car, clear the frost, and realize I’m about 10 minutes behind schedule. I rush back inside to gulp down my usual breakfast of a protein shake and more pills… I was then off to the races. As I began driving out of town, I can remember being appreciative for the ride I had just received a few months back in my great grandmother’s passing. It was a 2000 Chevy Cavalier. Not that it was a dream car by any means. However, it was a substantial step up from the 1988 Chrysler LeBaron I drove all throughout high school and college. My thoughts turned to what my plans were for that LeBaron. It sat in my father’s drive for weeks. Every week that it was there, he eloquently reminded me it was still in eye sight too. No one would buy it. Yet that car had some obscure sentimental value that I just couldn’t part with. Oh well, I thought. On my list of priorities, my old LeBaron came in second to none. At that very moment the only thing that mattered was trying to make up the morning’s lost time out on the roads. I pushed that petal a little closer to the floor.

Up ahead there was a large dip in the road. At the bottom is a known hideout for State Troopers on the morning commute. I’d better slow down I thought… Surprisingly, they weren’t there that day. Just beyond this point as I started to ascend the other side, the road began winding to the left. I saw the ice glistening through the dusting of snow. I knew I was going too fast for the conditions. The images that follow will forever be seared into my memory… I started to swerve into opposing traffic of about 2-3 cars passing by. I turned to the right but was running out of road. I did not want to be the guy who took out a house. I overcompensated while still sliding, losing all traction and fishtailed backwards. All so fast, all within seconds. It was just enough time for the other cars to pass. A fraction of a second sooner and I would have clipped the tail-end of an SUV before I slammed sideways into an embankment causing my car to roll upside-down. I often contemplate the speed in which life occurs. It’s funny how when you are a kid, days seem to go on forever. As an adult, it is a much more quicker pace. Yet when you honestly believe you might die, milliseconds of time stand still. Like a photograph, I can still see the impact. My driver-side door hit unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. In that instant, I closed my eyes as the glass from the car door window exploded into a million pieces. I felt the pieces graze across my face. In that millisecond, I called out in the recesses of my mind “If I’m in critical condition, take me and let it end here”…

Held high and tight just like a football… I opened my eyes. Trapped upside down, hanging by my seat-belt, all that glass and crushed metal. It almost seemed like a dream. I regained control of my bearings. What was my father going to think? I knew I couldn’t call him at work. Thinking of work, did I still have my phone? Yes. I called into work… “Sorry, I’m not coming into work today. I was in an accident.” I wondered how many times that excuse had been used. The blood rushing to my head started to make me feel sick. As I was getting ready to call my grandmother an ambulance passed through returning from another call. They thought I was seriously injured. They didn’t realize I had cerebral palsy. I couldn’t blame them, I forget I have CP too. I remained upside-down in my seat-belt for what seemed like forever until more EMS arrived. I asked if anyone else was hurt. Perhaps something else happened and I was not aware. “No.”, I was told. A sigh of relief. It seemed so surreal. An EMT instructed me to turned my car off. He then cut me down from my seat. Then it was time to try and crawl out of my steel cage. I was unsure how this was going to play out. I felt fine, but would my arms and legs respond? Miraculously I was able to crawl out under my own power. I stood up… and I cried. Outside of my hands looking like I had just gone through a brier patch, I was literally unscathed. I walked around and kissed the ground. I felt I had been spared for a reason. I felt this overwhelming warmth and sense of calmness with myself. I knew everything would be OK. Ironically, my air bags never deployed. An EMT on scene speculated that had they deployed, being how I landed, I might have suffocated in the time it took for help to arrive. I should have gone to the hospital on all accounts, but waved the ambulance off. My father held me in his arms, and drove me home.

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As we turned down our road, I could see my LeBaron up ahead. Things happen for a reason. I felt a bit of anxiety during the days that followed. My mother, who is an RN, told me to take it easy. We both thought due to the trauma of impact, I’d be sore once the adrenaline wore off. Strange perhaps but I almost felt guilty that I came away so unharmed. I just walked away after completely flipping my car. I experienced no pain and no soreness… as if it never happened. Like clockwork, the next day I was at the gym. After all, it was leg day and personal records were to be broken. It was during that workout, reflecting as I often do, I felt a momentum shift. It was as if this epiphany had been in the works all along. I had earlier rumblings of greatness way beyond myself as early as high school. These thoughts were largely left untapped and left to sit unusable on my mental shelf. I had yet to envision the direction my life was about to take. It took a chance meeting of Kelby Hunt, freshman year in college to unlock Pandora’s Box. But wait… what if it wasn’t chance? What if it was planned all along? Interconnected layers of my life building upon one another. What if there was a notion from beyond to regain a part of myself back after a stroke at birth? What if someone divinely knew in order to maintain my health and longevity into old age, I’d have to go beyond physical therapy as a child? What if the countless hours of working out, conditioning my body 4-5 days a week, to the point where I no longer get sore, had prepared me for my accident? Maybe some might say I’m out of my mind. But I’m remiss to think, you know… all this, my life, was merely just happenstance. In that moment I promised myself I would do whatever it took to be a successful fitness role model and use that platform to uplift the human spirit. By evolution or design, my purpose had been defined.

I felt so alive that day. Awakened for the very first time. Every morning is a new day for me to sing life’s praises. I still get amped up to tackle the day much like Ray Lewis stepping on the football field for one last home game. Even though our dances are quite different, deep within my soul the spark is still there. Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around… Sometimes traumatic events are needed to elicit a change in perspective and evoke personal growth. Today I relish the thought I can be this powerful catalyst for others, but more often than not I see my own transparencies in championing the heart of a lion. I recognize I may not be where I want to be yet, but I can look back & thank God I’m now awakened with a life purpose that will hopefully someday echo in eternity. Without a doubt, I truly believe things happen for a reason. Everyone undertakes a spiritual journey of their own at some point. For myself, my heart is open and receptive to being used as an instrument to help others live meaningful, healthy, productive lives. The plan has always been the same. View each day as a gift and not a given right. Use the hand of cards I’ve been dealt in life to make a mark on this world. Orchestrate a symphony of believers in overcoming the odds, making what once appeared impossible – possible. To quote Charles Lewis: “Maybe it might not be me that touches a million people, but maybe I’ll touch that one, that touches a million.” Welcome to 2007’s promise believers. Welcome to my vision, now our shared reality. Welcome to the new Toadallift.com.

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Driven from Within: Resolutions Reloaded

 

On-Point

With the new year quickly approaching and resolutions dropping left and right I thought it might be poignant to take a look back and rework and “reload” an old article I wrote back in 2005. In all honesty, it was a rush job done as a requested follow-up to an online interview I did with Joey Rodrigues. Now with a more focused spirit and fresh new perspective, I’d like to tackle it again… and it goes a little something like this.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why people are the way they are? What makes them tick? What environmental factors contributed to who they are as a person? I’ve often pondered these questions myself. At 30 years of age, many short-term goals I’ve set out to accomplish and was so passionate about throughout the years, I can actually say that I’ve achieved. Unfortunately, not everyone can say the same. Why is it some people have a certain undeniable ability to see obstacles as a challenge, reach for the stars and OVERCOME, while others cringe at the thought of ever leaving the starting gate?

To get a better understanding, I had to take a good hard look at myself as well as others around me. A stroke at birth caused me to have Cerebral Palsy, resulting in hemiplegia of my left side. So from an early age, I was presented with two options 1) be a survivor and fight an uphill battle to increase overall quality of life, or 2) be a victim resigning to my circumstance, never realizing my fullest potential and squander the opportunity God has provided me. Lucky for me I had great nurturing parents that helped facilitate growth early on. However, it has been a timely process. I’ve grown to learn that I may not be able to control what happens to me in life, but I can control my attitude and how I react to what happens in my world. So why handicap oneself by thinking negatively? That’s really the true nature of a disability. A disability is the inability to do something, the inability to think positively. With a positive attitude I can do anything, I’ve proved it. As you will too. I’ve gone out there and dug a little deeper in the trenches when I thought I got no more. I’ve gotten dirty through my own sweat, and tears. I’ve actually worked for everything I have, and I think that’s what truly defines me. Not to say the struggle to adapt while pushing through my own shortcomings isn’t still going on today. We’ll all have our moments, our bad days. While you may not be where you want to be yet, you’ll be one step closer to your personal goals when considering Rome.

Yes… If Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your resolutions come to bare fruit that quickly in 2013 either. Perhaps those who fold against what seems to be insurmountable odds, do so because they’ve grown comfortable with society’s theory of instant gratification. We as a nation are perpetually caught between lazy and overwhelmed. This breeds mediocrity and the instinct to settle. Suffocating, we fall to the path of least resistance. It’s a shame, it really is but I’m here to reach down and lift you up and pull you out so you can breathe new life into your Body, Mind, & Spirit… To quote Elbert Hubbard: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” The shortest distance between success and failure is taking the first step.

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Time and time again, everyone will be faced with some derailing life event. Whether it be an accident, illness, divorce etc. one can easily stress out to the point of mental and/or physical depression exhausting any of your initiative to move forward. It’s always good to keep in mind that stress is very much in the eye of the beholder. By setting realistic goals in the moment, you can begin to harness some of that anxiety or anger towards motivation and productive drive. Having a close friend, like-minded family member, or a network such as a support group to hold you accountable will all help to provide steady goal-oriented traction. Make efforts to love yourself, find sanctuary in things that make you happy and understand that a failed attempt is not the same as a failed goal so long as you’ve learned something in the process. Everyone’s journey in life is different. We should embrace those a few steps ahead, as well as a few steps behind. Much learning can take place to those with an open mind. When listening to the news, there are days it seems we should all be living in a bubble due to the detrimental effects of living! Trust me, I feel you. Where I come from, I’m a big fish in a small pond being looked at as a person of premier health and fitness. But in someone else’s world… maybe not so much. Perspective… Be an active learner to better yourself and pick up things along the way to improve your lifestyle and get one step closer to that personal goal, whatever it may be. Regardless of what happens around you, nobody can take your personal goals and achievements away from you. Another great quote from Hubert Humphrey: “It is not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.”… Your life is yours for the taking. It’s up to you to map out the steps needed to make life happen.

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True passion needs to come from within. Facilitating growth just doesn’t happen if there is nothing to spark the flame. You have to believe and go after your dreams. It’s possible. Take the first step… make baby steps. Even if you hit the wall smoking and spinning, keep thinking about nothing but winning. You’ll win by attrition. You will succeed as did I. Nothing replaces the hard work you put into it. For real results, remember there are no shortcuts. Stay positive and visualized what you want your life to be like to transcend that energy and make a commitment to yourself that you will OVERCOME any obstacle life brings your way. Remember 2012 is in the past. That chapter of our lives has already been written. 2013 comes with blank pages to write on. What is your goals for 2013? Write it down and LIVE IT… Lets make the best of it together my friends!

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Product Spotlight: Haleo Aqua Red

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Up until very recently, I was not a fan of Krill Oil at all. A liquid Fish Oil will always be tough to beat, yet a reputable capsule product seemed to garnish the most attention in my niche of the world. I thought Krill Oil was just another clever marketing tactic to capitalize on the uneducated consumer. Being closely linked to the supplement industry for the last 10 years, I’ve seen many trends come and go. Some initially promising and worthy of further investigation, others – completely laughable. So as the saying goes, there’s a sucker born every minute. I was fairly confident right out the box that when it came to Krill Oil supplements, they were nothing more than fluffed up marketing hype. This is not to say I thought they weren’t effective at all. Rather, I assumed they would probably have some therapeutic effect depending on the amount consumed. Plus, to be fair, you also get the additional awesome antioxidant properties of Astaxanthin. Something Fish Oil doesn’t contain. But putting that aside for a moment, why would I pay in some cases up to 10x more for EPA and DHA content, while providing LESS total than regular Fish Oil? Ah, yes… the better phospholipid absorption. It is true that phospholipids are known as the gate keepers of human cells as make up every cell membrane in the human body. Yes, there is benefit to this. I began to dig deeper.

Thankfully I’m going to spare my audience the handful of research studies I found on the topic and break it down for you – Toadnam style. The fact is, Krill Oil is only absorbed about 2-2.5x better than Fish Oil. Yes, that’s it… bummer right? Up to 10x more expensive, for only 2x greater bio-availability. Yeesh. Still… Astaxanthin and a slightly better increase in absorption. Got it. Let’s think out of the box for a moment. When in life is the all or nothing approach a good thing? Equilibrium is sought through balance. What if we could combine both worlds? I surmise we could get the added benefits of Astaxanthin without buying a separate product, yet not gamble the mortgage that smaller amounts of Krill Oil would be enough to supplement on a regular basis. Add with that extra EPA / DHA amounts typically found in most high quality Fish Oil supplements, and it sounds like we have our answer.

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Haleo’s Aqua Red is the first (and at the time of this writing) only omega-3 supplement that combines both Krill AND Fish Oil into a small easy to swallow gelcap. In fact small enough that a single capsule could be hidden in almost any yogurt or sauce (for those that may have trouble swallowing). It’s a product unlike any other in it’s category. I like to think of it as a Fish Oil plus. Aqua Red is the only “Krill” product I can honestly recommend based on my own use. When doing side by side comparisons of single serving Aqua Red vs. a more widely known Krill Oil supplement, Aqua Red wins. Even when placing Aqua Red against a serving of “Double Strength” Fish Oil, Aqua Red’s effects are marked with a greater calming of chronic inflammation. Being an athlete and having Cerebral Palsy, reducing inflammation is important to me. The degree in which I can control inflammation, I can also provide support in lessening my chronic fatigue therefore naturally increasing my body’s ability to repair itself. In about a period of two weeks, I began to see subtle improvements in the complexion of my skin as well as a substantial lessening of joint pain. This allowed me to cut back on my dedicated joint care product and saved me some greenbacks in the process… Which leads me to another good point. While Aqua Red’s online price tag of 26.99 seems a bit pricey upon first glance, once the full picture comes into focus, it’s not hard to see the value in such a quality assured product. Haleo has gone great lengths in product development, in-house testing and it’s manufacturing process under cGMP / TSP guidelines to ensure what is on the label, is actually what you are getting in the bottle. This can be concerning for the unaware as poor quality standards have notoriously given supplements a bad rap and have opened the gates for further FDA control. But without going too far off-topic, Haleo is a brand I have complete trust in, so you should too. With the ushering in of a few new companies I’ve been getting excited about, hopefully I will no longer feel the need to ask my doctor for an OTC supplement prescription… really, how silly is that!

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‘Tis the Season (Keenan’s Story)

I have to admit I’ve been quite inspired as of late by a few of my friends embarking on their own spiritual journeys. In many ways I feel as if my own life has been completely transformed in one way or another throughout this past year. Time and time again, I look back upon my life and have a deep appreciation for bearing witness to events that forced me to take a step back and recognize God’s presence in my life… As an aside, I think the first time in which I really started to view my life differently was upon reading John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany in HS… one of the few books I actually read that year. Earlier this year I had posted on Facebook an excerpt of something I wrote a few years back detailing one of the very first times God shown himself to me in a way I just could not dismiss. It would be about two years later that God came to me yet again, holding me high and tight like a football in a near fatal car accident…

For whatever reason, I was thinking about this one quote. It reads “I get the most wonderful high when I know that I’ve just affected a person’s life in a seriously positive way. To me, this is much better than any high and it NEVER goes away. I can always look back fondly on these memories and feel the satisfaction and pride just like it happened at that moment…it’s overwhelming to me. So I’m always seeking it out.” These words came from my friend Steve and are very meaningful to me for a whole host of different reasons. In fact it’s how I try and live my life day by day. There will always be times where you find yourself doing things you just don’t want to do, or living life at such a pace where you are constantly trying to get ‘ahead’. These are times where you say to yourself “Man, I can’t wait for the weekend”. Yet you fail to realize it’s 5 days away. So instead of wishing your life away, or bitching about tomorrow I’ve always tried to heed Steve’s advice and live in the now and for my sake keep it in perspective. Because in the end, that’s all you have… memories and if you take the time to smell, feel, taste and see you could be able to recall it as if it were yesterday. This is one of those stories.

A few years ago when I first started lifting at Bloomsburg, there was a guy there named Brian Keenan. He worked at the Student Rec Center and often his shift would coincide with Kelby’s and I ‘s lifting time which was right around 9-10 at night. Brian was one of those guys who people looked up too. Even if you thought it was uncool to look up to someone or admire someone of the same sex in college, you could just tell by the people he associated with that many thought similarly. He was of different caliber all together. The girls knew this too and it was fun to sit back at times and watch them swoon, but he had a girl and a lot of times because of this he had tons of clout in playing matchmaker for friends. You can imagine how Brian was an ideal Wingman, but that’s not where I’m going with this… I think I first met Brian that first semester as a freshman and we chatted here and there on occasion like most gym-goers do. At that time I could tell he seemed like a cool person but what was usually overlooked by him was names. He kept getting my name wrong. Every time he saw me it was always something different…. Jared, Jason, Johnathon etc. I guess there was a time where he saw me across campus, yelled out my name and rushed to catch up with me just to say “Hi” but I had already boarded the shuttle bus and never even gave him the time of day because I didn’t know the fool screaming “Jason” really meant “Jordan”.

As time went on, so did our friendship. Because Kelby had a different schedule than I, there were times where I had to lift on my own and it was always nice to have Brian greet me at the door. One day, after my workout, we were standing around bullshitting and I asked him if there was anyway I could get a T-Shirt like the one they wore for work. I’m not quite sure why I asked since I knew it would be next to impossible but I liked how they had STAFF on the back and it was the only Student Rec shirts available. “Sorry buddy, you gotta work here” he replied. I figured as much and left it as that. Over the next few semesters, if I’d see him and there wasn’t anything to talk about, I’d tease him about those shirts. I’d come up with humorous ways in which I could possibly get one, just for a laugh. For example, asking him if he could hook me up with one of his female co-workers just so I could “sleep” with her, but instead of actually sleeping with her, I just wanted to take off her clothes. Then I’d hi-tail it out the back door with shirt in hand. Brian would always end our conversation with “For you Jordan, I’ll do what I can to get you one”.

I never realized how much those words meant to me until his last semester at Bloom. Like me, he graduated in December instead of your typical spring graduation. This would have been my Junior year, and for me personally this was one of those ‘hit you like a ton of bricks’ moments where God revealed Himself to me. It was about a week or two before finals. Once again I was doing my usual routine, hitting the gym up late at night. Brian asked me something like how late I was going to be here (in Bloom) and when my last final was. I told him I was going to stay til Friday, the last day possible. He kinda shook his head; I laughed and thought nothing more of it. Before you knew it that THURSDAY came in a blink of an eye. I really felt bad driving to the gym that night. I knew it would probably be the last time I saw Brian. You try to find the right words to say yet somehow no matter how many times you play it out in your head, it never comes out the way in which you want it too. After my workout we said our goodbyes. I thanked him for his friendship and as always, like I tell everyone, I told him it’s been real. We shook hands and then I made my way towards the door as the rest of the staff including Brian turned off the lights and shut everything down. I was just about ready to open the door when Brian yelled “Jordan, wait man, I have something for you”. I turned around and gave a smile as I saw him and the three other girls rushing towards me. It was then that it happened. He said “It might not be the best Christmas present to get this year but at least I hope it means something”, and with those words, in front of everyone, he took off his shirt and gave it to me… I really didn’t know what to say and to be honest the next few seconds are nothing but a blur. I just remember the four of us getting into cars and Brian without a shirt on, and it snowing outside. I thank God I made it home safe that night because I cried like a child all the way to my apartment. I was dumb struck, and it was then that I knew God had his plans for me. Brian touched me as much as I touched him. “I get the most wonderful high when I know that I’ve just affected a person’s life in a seriously positive way. To me, this is much better than any high and it NEVER goes away. I can always look back fondly on these memories and feel the satisfaction and pride just like it happened at that moment…it’s overwhelming to me.” It is something I will never forget.

You want more irony? Fast forward a few years… I began working at the same gym where I train – and now have my very own personalized staff shirt.

 

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Eat Your Sprouts!

Ok, so it’s not that hard to understand that Cerebral Palsy and cooking don’t always mix well together. Especially when considering one’s spasticity concerns and the certain amount of dexterity needed to cut, chop and peel. Being health conscience and fully embracing the notion of allowing food to be thy medicine, I’m always searching for ways to blend practical convenience with life enhancing functional nutrient based foods. Foods that would naturally contain copious amounts of B Vitamins, Sulfur, Magnesium, and Omega-3s. All nutrients needed to support both Myelin and Neurotransmitter function lessening the effects of CP. I readily admit, far too often I’d be satisfied with some protein powder and nut butter of choice. At 30 years of age I decided I had enough. It was about time I started cooking.

Enter Erin Mackin. I became familiar with Erin through an internet based health and fitness based internet radio show called Super Human Radio. During her interview, she had mention her work as a nutrition coach specializing in Paleo style eating. This piqued my interest as I too followed a Paleolithic diet, however more of a lower carb variety. Through the power of Facebook, we became friends and quickly started discussing the virtues of Cacao. Since Erin lived across the country, my original intentions were to see if she would be able to produce homemade Sriracha, protein bars, and paleo trail mixes. All items I could pay for and have shipped to my door. Using this as a stepping stone, I envisioned plans of utilizing her services later down the line for my own meal prep needs.

Before I knew it the opportunity arose for Erin to provide me additional hands-on experience in person. To be honest, I was quite intimidated. Erin has served our country as a Marine and for as attractive as she is on the outside, she possesses every bit a genuine heart of gold on the inside as well. Major Mackin, the Goddess of Paleo, wanted to spend the weekend in PA and cook for me and my family. What meant the most to me was her desire to make a lovingly healing bone broth for both my ailing grandparents. Wow…

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Eat your sprouts, Yo’… One of the very first things Erin taught me how to do was to cook Brussel Sprouts. I’ve never had them before. Up until this point, I hadn’t found them all too appealing. Wrong. These small nutrient packed dynamos are high in Sulfur, Magnesium and Vitamin C. It didn’t take much to prep and roast in caramelized bacon fat.

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Erin also taught me how to correctly prepare Summer Spaghetti Squash, as seen above. This dish also included some of her special fermented Sriracha, which if you can handle the heat, it great for digestive health. Fermented foods in general assist with reversing auto-immune diseases, leaky gut, and IBS. Think Probiotics… Erin showed me how to make my own custom probiotic strains to get the most of of what I eat. If you don’t digest food properly, you cannot absorb the healing and healthful nutrients your body requires on a daily basis to survive and recovery from frequent bouts of exercise. This is a noteworthy concern for CPers do to our chronically tight muscles. Whether we are exercising or not, life demands extra R&R. The right food and/or supplementation will lessen fatigue and manage your pain.

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Coconut Oil is something I caught on to earlier this year that I had been adding to my morning protein shakes. It’s very soothing to the gut, is anti-inflammatory, helps to repair the gut lining, has both anti-diabetic and cancer properties as well as a whole host of other benefits. I encourage everyone to further educate themselves on this wonderful natural food item. In my humble opinion, It would be a mistake to allow the saturated fat content to scare you. Trust in Toad, it’s good stuff! Anyhow, pictured above a Coconut Chicken Scramble with Kimchi (fermented) Cucumber and Salsa. A perfect combination of nutrient dense foods to meet my individual goals. I previously had not been familiar enough to cook much with Coconut and Coconut Oil, so I found this very helpful.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. I learned so much in such a short amount of time. I am grateful to Erin and her services. Cooking is a true art form. I could appreciate the love she put into each and every one of her dishes. She’s very passionate about her craft and it shows in everything she does. It’s her true calling. If you would like to contact Erin for a consultation and see first hand what the power of REAL FOOD can do for you, her information can be found below:

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http://www.paleoeffects.com

ehmackin [at] gmail.com

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Overcoming challenges and raising awareness for United Cerebral Palsy

I’m going to kick this blog off with some words near and dear to my heart, from a good friend I’ve known for many years… Brian MacGregor. 🙂

It is rare that I have an opportunity to write about someone in whom I have such profound affection and respect. It is also not often that such an opportunity be so personally relevant, intimate and dear to my heart.

The friendship that I share with Jordan was initially sparked through on line bodybuilding message board dialog that we frequently shared. The world of message boards is so anonymous and you can come across many people of different walks of life. This was no different with Jordan and me. We have vast differences in our lives. Jordan, being a young, single, man in his early 30’s living in PA. I am a husband and father of three, in my early 50’s and live in AZ. We did find, however, through further message board dialog, that we were traveling a common road in our passion for the sport of bodybuilding.

As all of you know, this sport requires that we be willing and able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our present physiques, and that we implement the actions required to turn our present physical weakness into a physical strength. Much action is required on our part. Training, diet, and rest disciplines are all prerequisite to actualizing our goals. At the end of the day we can only do so much with what we were born with. For few that is a blessing that is a blessing in disguise.

For many of us this sport is a whole person experience and lifestyle. By developing and nurturing the disciplines and character traits that are required to successfully and happily live this lifestyle we can also master the disciplines and character traits that we need to be successful in many other areas of our life. The sport of bodybuilding is a platform for the lifestyle of the lifelong transformation process that we desire. It is the passion for the process of self-improvement, self-discipline, and the mind, body and spirit connection that Jordan and I share in the sport of bodybuilding.

We all have a starting point from where we begin the transformation of our lifestyle. The process will take time, discipline and patience. The process may not be easy, pleasant and pain free. We will all need to make sacrifice. We will all have physical and psychological barriers and obstacles that will hinder our progress. We will all make mistakes along the way. There is no short cut to the process of becoming what we want to become in the physical aspect of our lives. The process will not work if we are not committed to doing whatever it takes.

If we honestly assess our strengths and weaknesses, establish achievable short and long-term goals and develop and implement a successful program we all have a tremendous potential for success.

I have come to believe that there is really no way to become what we truly desire, without being truly honest about our strengths and weaknesses and the way that we look at them. Exploring of strengths and weaknesses, how they manifest themselves in our lives, and how to accept and overcome them is where Jordan and I share many courageously candid and intimate details of our lives. It is in this place that I have found a friend, a friend who I keep as close as a brother.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, though Jordan and I have many vast differences, there is a fellowship that we share and it’s relevance I will attempt to share with you as well as I can.

There are many aspects of our relationship that at times are extraordinary and more than just happenstance. There are many aspects and parallels of the trails and tribulations in the process of self-actualization that we share. Many of these I have hardly shared with Jordan, or anyone, as they are at times very profound revelations on an intimate and deeply personal level.

Those of you who know Jordan know that he has a lifelong disability. His disability occurred just before birth. It was in his mother’s womb, during birthing labor that his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and restricted blood flow to his brain. This restriction of blood flow caused irreversible damage to his brain. The name for the condition is cerebral palsy.

Most of us who have been delivered into this world under traditional and normal circumstances have experienced the customary trauma of being born. Let’s face it; leaving the safety, warmth and comfort of our mother’s womb and traversing the birth canal is the first, and in some cases, the most traumatic event that we will experience in our lives. It has been several years and I am still recovering from the experience myself.

Jordan has never known a normal life, as we would consider it. Though his disability is not as extreme as many others who are afflicted with cerebral palsy, it is rather significant and handicapping to many aspects of his life.

When you take at look at Jordan today you see that a whole lot of his successes have to do with what Jordan believes about the limitations his cerebral palsy has put on his life. When you consider how physically limiting the handicap of cerebral palsy can be and was to Jordan you can understand how important what he believes about himself has to do with his ability to overcome these limitations.

We all have experiences throughout our lives that shape us or develop us into who we are physically, emotionally and psychologically. All experiences, negative and positive, are ingrained in who we are. Some experiences are a process that takes place over a lifetime and others are immediate experiences. Some are born with physical and or psychological struggles. Some develop physical and or psychological struggles over the course of a lifetime. Many people over a lifetime experience physical neglect and or abuse that leave physical handicaps. Many people over a lifetime experience psychological neglect and or abuse that leave psychological handicaps. There are far too many us, more than some care to realize, that carry lifelong physical and psychological handicaps and limitations to one degree or another. The spirit with which we embrace these handicaps and limitations has a tremendous influence on our future and the future of those we influence.

When Jordan was born he became destined to be someone who was going to have a lifelong challenge with cerebral palsy, at the very least, and possibly the very best. The fate of that destiny is entirely in his hands when he considers the opportunities that the challenge would provide him.

Jordan has a life that he wants to live. He wants to live it on his terms, as much as is possible, within his own physical power. By every account he has just as much, if not more passion for life as any one of us. He wants to make a difference with his life. He wants his life to have purpose.

A thing I find most spectacular about Jordan is that Jordan is solidly and comfortably grounded on the fact that he has been blessed with a tremendous opportunity to make a difference. Period! Jordan is most passionate in his belief that he has been blessed with an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others who are afflicted with cerebral palsy expressly and precisely because he is afflicted with it himself.

The human instinct is to change our circumstances and condition to meet a purpose that we desire. We strive to change things we cannot accept rather than accept things we cannot change. All too often we fail to recognize that some circumstances and conditions are intended to allow us, even more so, empower us to fulfill an other purpose.

In order to become an influence and inspiration to those who desire to overcome the lifelong and potentially overwhelming disability of cerebral palsy, you have actually had to been born, lived, struggled and overcome as someone who is afflicted with cerebral palsy. It would appear that Jordan is a textbook example of what it is to be one who overcomes.

Jordan is actually doing a lot more than just overcoming his own personal struggles with cerebral palsy. Jordan has educated and employed himself in the field of social work. His work is specifically related to assistance and rehabilitation for those with physical and psychological disabilities. Not only is he personally involved with helping others he is intimately connected with their struggles. Jordan’s empathy is a tremendously invaluable asset to those within his influence and care.

The influence that Jordan has had on me is not what I had first expected it to be. The age difference between us has me old enough to be his father. Considering I have been around the block a couple times, I have had my full share of trials and tribulations. I figured I would do some mentoring and take the kid under my wing. I really had no idea the life changing relationship I was in for.

I have recently overcome in a lifelong struggle with issues related to physical and psychological abuse, abandonment and substance abuse. At the time I met Jordan I was in the early stages of rebuilding and restoring some broken areas of my life. Many of the broken areas of my life had been broken from the earliest years of my life. My parents divorced when I was young and my father chose to relinquish his parental rights and obligation and quickly disappeared from my life. My stepfather was intimidating, abusive, violent and alcoholic. I am basically a textbook product of my environment with a lifetime of wreckage behind me and a lifetime of recovery ahead of me.

There were many times that Jordan and I confided in each other about various struggles we were having in our lives. There were many trials that Jordan supported me through. There are many things about my relationship with Jordan that have had an impact on my life. But there is one in particular thing that sticks out the most. Jordan made me realize that in order to become an influence and inspiration to those who desire to overcome the lifelong physical and psychological handicap of abuse, abandonment and alcoholism, you have actually had to been born, lived, struggled and overcome as someone who was afflicted by abuse, abandonment and alcoholism.

Jordan has helped me to realize that sometimes the pains and struggles we experience in our life can be the very thing that grooms us for a purpose. The courage and perseverance it takes to endure and overcome a lifetime of struggle develops strength in us where one day there was only weakness. What once was a handicap has now developed in us a powerful tool of character, inspiration and influence.

Jordan and I also share a faith in God. We believe that God created us perfectly and with a purpose. We believe that all aspects of our lives are designed to fulfill a purpose that he has destined for us. We believe that through our abilities to overcome our struggles He has made us fit to serve.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Jordan has supported and encouraged me on many occasions as I have endured personal struggles. He has been my advocate when the opposing forces seemed insurmountable. His sincere and honest interest and concern for my cares and struggles has endeared him to me. Throughout our friendship he has been like a brother to me. That is why it is only natural for me to encourage and support him in a cause he is most passionate about. I ask you to join me in supporting my friend Jordan as he tries to give back to a group that has been a very influential part of his life over the years.

“To help raise awareness and support the cause, Jordan has teamed-up with UCP in creating a one-of-a-kind Overcome silicone wristband. For $5 you will receive a Hunter Green wristband that has been made in the US with ECO friendly materials, per Jordan’s request. The word “Overcome” complete with a barbell emblem printed on one side and “TheUnlikelyToad” (whom many in the bodybuilding world know Jordan as) on the opposite. Embossed on the inside, the motto “OUTWORK”, which has inspired Jordan throughout the years with continued friendship and support of IFPA & NGA natural pro bodybuilder Layne Norton. 100% profit of this fund-raising event benefits United Cerebral Palsy of Central PA.”

Please join me in showing your support for Jordan and his passion to give back to UCP by purchasing a one of a kind Overcome wrist band at http://www.xfmuscle.com (see comments section below). Even if you don’t know Jordan, it is a great way to help out an organization that has helped so many others. If you do know Jordan you know that you will be showing your support for someone who is destined to make a difference in the lives of all he touches.

Thank you all for letting me share a small glimpse of the kind of man and the kind of friend I have found in Jordan Frantz. He has been a tremendous support and inspiration to me for many years. I only hope that some day I am able to be as much of a positive influence to others as he has been to me and so many others.

Sincerely yours,

Brian MacGregor  “B5150”

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(Dr. Layne Norton and Yours Truly)

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