Adapt and Overcome

I heard once that the best way to feel God laughing is to tell him your plans—that sounds about right to me. I cannot tell you how many times I have laid out the battle plan for my next big program, starting with the date of some competition and then working backwards, formulating a strategy that Sun-Tzu would envy, taking into account every foreseeable variable. And then, BLAMMO!! Patient Zero forgets to wash his hands after a snotty sneezing fit and decides to violate my perimeter with a handshake. Thanks, fucker!! Now my sleeping, eating, and training are all interrupted while my body rids itself of the infection shared by the guy who missed the day they taught basic hygiene in kindergarten. This scenario is just one example of infinite possibilities that can derail plans. Anything and everything has the potential to be an obstacle in programming, but unforeseeable does not mean unpreventable. Here, I’ll discuss some strategies that you can use to reduce your risk of derailment.

  • First and foremost, find yourself a great doctor who you can trust to pay attention to you. If you can assume that your doctor is going to prescribe antibiotics any time you go in under the umbrella of “sick,” find yourself a new doctor. I’m not going to get into the inevitable shit storm on the horizon, created by asshole doctors who over-prescribe antibiotics rather than taking the time to diagnose and treat. Only see doctors who have the courage to make you wait until they find out what’s wrong with you before getting out the prescription pad. Maybe they only drive Jags instead of Ferraris, but at least they demonstrate some integrity.
  • Drink a gallon of room temperature water every day. In my experience, this simple maneuver alleviates 80% of any unforeseeable health hiccups. It’s good for actual hiccups, too. Ha!
  • Do an extensive allergy panel. You are allergic to far more than the one or two things that cause your throat to slam shut or your skin to break out into hives. Blood work can easily identify most allergens. If you have not read The Art of Shen Ku, you are missing out on one of the coolest life manuals ever written. Among many other useful suggestions, it outlines a natural way to do an at-home allergy panel. If there is anything you eat, take as a supplement, or are exposed to on a regular basis that might not be on a generic allergy panel, you can take a sterile needle and poke that substance. Then give yourself a couple of skin pricks with the needle and observe the area for a couple of days. If you notice an abnormal reaction, then you may have an allergy. Eliminating these substances from your environment will leave you with more energy to achieve your goals.
  • Fast once in a while. This strategy is specific to athletes who rely on high-calorie diets to achieve or maintain their body mass. Now, I’m not recommending a Gandhi fast. Just give your digestive system a chance to reset. Try this little experiment if you’ve been on a calorie surplus for a year or so. For two or three days, only eat fruit and fiber—something like raisin bran with almond milk and some oranges and bananas—just enough to keep you from feeling severe discomfort. After 36 hours, probably you will have shit at least 5 times. Over the next 12 to 36 hours, cut out the fiber but keep the fruit, drinking as much room-temperature water as you can. You’ll have another 5 or 6 massive shits—can you explain where they come from? They’re obviously not from what you’ve been eating in the last couple of days. It’s shit that has been stuck in your pipes for who knows how long. My man Tim Ferriss might suggest that you try to weigh the excrement and compare it to the weight lost on the scale, but, unfortunately, the last half of the experiment will likely result in nothing that resembles a solid. After months on a high-calorie diet, you need to give your pooper a rest because, otherwise, it will become more difficult for you to consume the quantity of food you did at the beginning of your program. Varying your foods and eventually replacing solids with shakes is helpful here, too. You may lose a few precious pounds during your fast, but I promise that the days after your fast are not going to be lacking in hunger. And the crusty walls of your bowels will be able to absorb those nutrients in a far more efficient manner once again. If you are of the means and the motivation, post-fast is a good time to introduce probiotics into your diet; they’ll help replenish your digestive system with the flora and fauna necessary for healthy movement. Happy poopin.
  • Take two towels with you to the gym, one for your face and one for the equipment. This strategy seems so simple, yet I see it overlooked almost universally. You can catch all sorts of nasty stuff from workout equipment, including scabies, HPV, and MRSA. Crabs might not interrupt your training too much, but a flesh-eating virus definitely will. If you don’t love yourself enough to clean the sweat stew of a thousand dirty men off of the equipment before you use it, at least be a peach and wipe off your contribution after you use it. People may look at you weird for a second, but it really doesn’t hurt to use a mild antibacterial spray either. Some mega gyms even leave spray bottles around, mainly, I believe, as a social experiment to prove that we have evolved far less than we like to think since so few people actually use them. People generally consider themselves clean beasts, but if you lay down on a sweaty bench, you have just exchanged more germs than you would during a vigorous sexual encounter. Remember that just because equipment is dry, does not mean that it’s not a festival of dangerous microbes.

Despite all of your best intentions, everyone falls prey to the micro-bugaboos sometimes. When it happens to you, don’t be a freak. If you are sick, keep your infected and infectious ass at home until you’re better. Do not be one of these bullshit heroes who refuse to take sick days from work. Sick days are not for you, assholes!! They’re for everyone else, those of us who aren’t sick and would like to keep it that way, thank you very much. You are not important enough—anywhere, at anytime—to offset the fallout caused by you spreading a contagious situation. If you’ll lose your job because you missed a day, then take on some student loan debt and find a better job. Make sure to wipe your nose before you shake your boss’s hand goodbye—go ahead and sneeze on him for good measure, too. Hopefully, once he recovers from whatever you just gave him, he’ll learn to join the 21st century where people realize that one sick employee at home is better than 10 sick employees at home, not to mention all the sick customers.

Stay home from the gym, as well. And the grocery store. Just stay home unless you’re going to the doctor, you sick freak!!

Also, I am as dedicated to my training as someone can be, but I recognize that you have to stay rightsized. If a loved one is sick and you do not visit her because it would mean missing a workout, seek therapy.

I am obviously not a doctor. And I realize that my recommendations lie in the fringes of other advice you may have heard. I try to provide info outside of what I know is already available out there, filling in the gaps where I see them. I’m not saying that I think what I have to say is special; I’m just trying to give back to the culture that made me who I am today. There are so many great sources out there—gobble them up. Never lose your appetite to learn.

Leave any response or comment here or hit me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion.

“It happens.”—Forrest Gump

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