This is about my education and real life experiences that might qualify me to speak about health and fitness. Although I have formal training by way of physical education type courses as well as Anatomy & Physiology, Applied Kinesiology and General Nutrition and professional certifications, it’s the real-life laboratory experiences that have had the most profound effect. By this I mean that my education goes way beyond the classroom. In fact it began before I was even old enough to go to kindergarten.
As all parents know, things don’t always work according to plan and I was not the healthiest of kids. In fact, I almost died at the age of four during one of my tougher bouts with bronchial asthma. This event really got Mom’s attention.
My Mom joined forces with some of the original ‘health nuts’. She wanted her new baby boy to be in perfect health and never get hurt and never cry and be very smart and handsome and happy. To this end, Mom jumped on board with health pioneers like Adelle Davis, Carlton Fredricks, Gaylord Hauser, and the guy on our black & white TV with his dog Happy… none other than Jack LaLanne.
Her diligence helped her uncover all kinds of ways to naturally support my immune system and minimize my dependence on pharmaceuticals. By high school, she even had a year-round system in place that kept me from wheezing every time I exerted myself and from catching every cold, sore throat, flu and other disease that came near me.
So from the very beginning the lab rat was… me. Brewer’s yeast, cod liver oil, calf’s liver once a week, lecithin, vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, other minerals, Tiger’s Milk, fresh fruit and veggies were staples when I was a kid. And never white bread. It was peanut butter and jelly on Whole Wheat bread or cream cheese and walnuts on raisin bread.
One of the best lessons I learned was that eating is not just supposed to be about pleasure for the palate. I learned that food is fuel and nourishment. And when used correctly, can contribute greatly to one’s life force.
Over the years, I’ve made some adjustments to Mom’s system. The crazy thing is, that at age 52, I was healthier and physically stronger than I’d been in my entire life. And I'm still going very strong at 66!
Lest you think that my only physical challenge was some bronchial asthma, let me tell you a bit more. There was a period of years when I did not take care of myself and ignored Mom’s wisdom. This resulted in mind-numbing headaches (from allergies), a displaced vertebrae in my neck thanks to a hit in football, no cartilage in my right knee from a ‘me-being-out-of-shape’ basketball injury, alcohol and drug dependency issues. Add to that a motorcycle crash that shattered my left elbow & severed my tricep, tore a hole in my right shin that measured 6x12 inches, ripped up my left knee that took multiple surgeries & spare parts from a cadaver to repair. In addition, I’ve had a series of low back injuries that from time to time have left me incapacitated, a hiatal hernia, a displaced knuckle on my left hand, rosacea, a skin condition on my right foot, problems with bicep tendonitis in my right rotator cuff, acne, and very high cholesterol (probably a combination of genetics and an inability to properly deal with stress). Oh and a busted up hip from a 20 foot fall with a running chain saw in my hand. But the Tree Story is quite famous now and a great source of encouragement for many.
I’ve probably left something out but you get the picture. And I’m not complaining since it’s good to be alive. The knowledge gained by living through this stuff gives me a perspective that goes beyond a formal classroom or lab. The good news is that I'm loved & excited about every day I am given. It’s really hard to believe how incredible the human body is and how it can comeback from near-death injuries and sickness.
If I could overcome all the health problems and go on to be a world-class strongman at my age, I know that you can get on track to reach your health and fitness goals as well. I’ve also been asked to address the issue of training around and through injuries. No problem.
Russell Jones is an author, co-owner of My Back and Body Clinic in New Jersey, a Master-Level Rehabilitative Trainer, Strength Athlete & Motivational Speaker...
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