Why I Became A Health Coach

Our health and well-being is one of the most amazing gifts that humanity has been blessed with. Many of us have the ability to breath, move and provide for ourselves and those around us. It would be difficult to imagine life, not being able to walk up a flight of stairs, run to catch at bus or taxi (depending on where one lives), lift a heavy object off the ground or even leap in the air to the highest ability. We go to the gym on a weekly basis, perform our favorite routines and exercises, never thinking about what life might be like if we got injured in some way, how would we adapt? Would we have the mental, emotional and even spiritual faculties to not only endure what has happened to us, but also adapt to the circumstances? My name is Brandon Ryan, and for the past five years, I have been an online health coach, with certifications in personal training and nutrition.
My niche or scope of practice, focused directly on the adaptive community, primarily those with varying degrees of cerebral palsy. Though I do also work with abled bodied clients as well. Why did I choose to work this specific population of clients? Because I myself have cerebral palsy. Being born with cerebral palsy, might parents fought to get me to gain the weight needed to survive and grow, in the name of shattering the narrative that doctors laid before them. Which wasn’t good or inspiring to say the least. They told my parents that I’d never be able to do anything for myself and be dependent on others for care the entirety of my life. That’s a very stark reality to set before anyone. Yet my parents made the choice to fight, which required more mental and emotional resolve than anything else.
Mental and emotional resolve to endure the handful of surgeries that I went through as a child. My mom always told me about how she would run to the bathroom to vomit, while my first operation took place. Which was on my spine. Other surgeries were on the lower half of my body. My dad would have to lift me from my wheel-chair to the bed, and from the bed to my wheelchair and from my wheel chair to the toilet and back. He would also drive me to and from physical therapy. Physical therapy as a kid was very daunting at times, as it would be for any child recovering from any operation. Going through these chapters of my life, though they were challenging on all human levels, it burned into my mind that my dad was one of my biggest supporters.
He is one of the many reasons I am what I am today. At a young age, encouraging me to be strong, through weight training, various calisthenics and martial arts. It’s not as though my adaptable spirit and mindset formed from nothing. No, the Lord saw fit to provide me parents that could help shape who I am today. I’ve always burned with passion for fitness and helping others become the best they possibly could be. To me, it didn’t matter if a person was in a wheel chair or not, used crutches or not, had range of motion or not. I would find something that they could do. After all, the moto for me growing up was “if there’s a will, there’s a way.”
The idea of becoming a personal trainer, always lurked in the back of my mind. People would sway me from the reality of doing so, some would say that the money wasn’t good or that it would flat out be too hard.
Yet when given the chance to work with someone with cerebral palsy or otherwise in any compacity. When all was said and done. Everything seemed right in the cosmos, it seemed as though a shade of my purpose was being fulfilled and the person that was set in my path even felt the same. When the idea of obtaining a certification kept surfacing, it was very apparent that it was now or never. There were a wide range of certifications from various institutions, a lot of them were out of budget. Yet when the International Sports Science binged on my horizons, they weren’t just affordable but they fit the context of my life. It allowed me to study slowly and at my own pace. Though I’m pretty sure that all my questions and concerns annoyed my advisor to no end. Now, as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, I have been able to let my passion for mental and physical health be put to use. And while I’m well aware that there is much room to grow, I do honestly believe that I am the best person for this path. That isn’t to say that other trainers, coaches or what have you don’t do a good enough job. They do. I’m only implying that more often than not, it takes one that is or is in a similar position.
There’re days when things are slow, or it seems as though that I suck at my job. And yet, as cliché as it may be. If I can help one person, each day I done very well and have succeed in the mission set before me. With everything inside me, I hold the belief that every person with cerebral palsy and other adaptive needs are worthy of health. That they have what it takes inside them to reach their desired goals, be that physically, mentally or vocationally. From the very beginning, it has been a goal to show clients that their body is the machine, that if they can open their eyes to their environment that can many times accomplish a very effective workout simply by using what they have around them. Once again, I’m not implying that a gym is not needed, it can be. The deeper point that I am trying to make, is that sometimes or rather frequently in my personal experience. The gym can be either hard to get to, due to transportation issues. On the other hand going to a gym can be a very daunting and ever scary experience.
For some it can be the reality of having countless people looking at you as you enter the gym. Or it could be the possibility of doing something wrong and having people laugh, it happens. Or it could be the reality of not connecting with a trainer and or feeling like a burden. And so to mitigate these realties very often I’ve had clients start with themselves, their bodies and the environments around them. Then if and when they are comfortable, they are more than willing to try their hand at being in a normal gym. For the vast majority of the clients that I have worked with though, they have been more than content with environmental workouts/calisthenics. And strength training through the pathway of dumbbells and resistance bands. Trust me, I know it’s simple stupid and not the “sexiest” of approaches, but that isn’t necessarily what the adaptive community needs in my professional and humble opinion. Many times in physical therapy as a kid, it was the simplest of things that accomplished the mission.

My Heart As A Trainer and Coach (For the adaptive community)

Being a personal trainer/nutrition coach, has been something that I have wanted to do for a long time. And as I have written in a previous post, it was something that I hesitated from doing. For reasons of there not being enough money etc. I went ahead and ignored all the antagonist thoughts in my head and got certified in both!

I’ve been working the up hill climb at trying to gain a steady clientele, it’s difficult and even frustrating. Yet, at risk of sounding like an ego filled/puffed up human being. I’m going to brag about a few accomplishments , because I’m very proud of them.

The first notable one, was when I stared working with a young woman who had a worse form of cerebral palsy (CP) than I did. when I first started doing online coaching with her (which is what I do with all my clients) she could barely make her hands in the shape of a fist. In fact, doctors wanted to perform an operation on her to correct it. I didn’t think that surgery should be an option, unless we explored all the options.

After learning about my clients goals, I went ahead both a nutrition and fitness plan for her. For the simple reason, that I wanted her to be healthy and strong from the inside out. Long story short, after several weeks of staying as focused and disciplined as possible. She was able to open and close her hands! Much more, she was able to take a few steps assisted.

This to me has meant so much, and if as coach this is my greatest victory. I’m some what okay with that. There have been others with CP and other adaptive needs, that I have helped, in the areas of weight loss, gaining mobility and strength and so on. But the above story is most notable. Of course, I strive for others with CP and other needs to be their healthiest selves.

For we get one life and one body, and if we don’t take care of it. The consequences are much greater. My heart as a trainer, is to help clients adopt a healthy mindset and vision for their lives. Everything is mindset, which I believe sets me apart from other trainers, because some just focus on the body. Without taking stock of whats going on in the mind.

Our bodies are a gift, they might function differently, but they are a gift non the less. As such, we should be doing all that we can to take care of them each day. Eating more protein, drink more water, consume less sugar and so on. We should be doing all we can to make our bodies strong, even if all you can do is work your arms, do that! Make the most of what you got.

Learn to lay aside the fear, the doubts, the what ifs and start carving out the person you want to be. It’s not as difficult or impossible as you think, it just takes discipline, time and focus. But it can be done!

I’m here to help!

When Your Not So Skinny…

 

The other morning, I was laying on the couch with my niece, my nephew had just gone off to school and I was probably in an out of sleep probably more than a handful of times. When I awoke, my niece was still there beside me watching videos on her Ipad. Most of the videos were toy reviews on YouTube. But one thing that stood out to me was a cartoon we were watching.

I don’t remember the name, but a particular scene a small group of kids were in a science lab, observing two girls who drink a green concoction. Girl A, after drinking it became tone and slender like, and was able to run for a long time on a treadmill. The small group of kids then had eyes bigger than their own heads as they awed over how pretty Girl A looked.

Girl B drank the same green drink and she went from a skinny girl, to a large muscle pound person. The kids were disgusted by her appearance. I couldn’t help but feel sad after watching this. I realized that in this instance, our culture still puts so much esteem on the tone person. But has much less esteem for the bigger muscle bound person. In fact, some think it is down right ugly.

But I ask, what are we teaching the future generation? Is the standard of beauty and fitness still given to the slim and slender type? Though there is nothing wrong with it. The average women who does CrossFit today, that has a lot of muscle to her and a six pack on her is seen as manly looking. And in fact they are ridiculed and shamed by those who do not approve.

I gather that one might not find it attractive on a personal level, but to shame them and say ugly things about them is filled with stupidity. For unless you spent time with them daily, and you saw how hard they worked to get to that point, then you wouldn’t be able to say much. But you damn sure would stand in awe and applaud.

As for the fat shaming that our culture puts into practice, I say this: 1) they probably already know that they are not as healthy as they could be or want to be. So rather than ripping them down all the more, how about you try and spur them on with words of hope and encouragement? I bet much more good would be done in this way. Plus, the filth we have to say about others, is more often than not aimed out ourselves.

2) When you see a larger person in the gym, trying to better themselves. Don’t shame them or speak ill of them. They got out of bed, decided to get after it and make changes to be better and live better.

The culture at large is slowly being revamped, but we have a lot of work to yet be done. We can’t change everyone’s mind. But to those that we can, it’s a job well done.

 

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Adapt And Rise

Our excuses to not take care of ourselves are no more.

The reasons we have to not better ourselves, don’t stand up to what the modern day adaptive athlete can do.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy, I was told that there was a low chance of survival, and if I lived. I wouldn’t amount to much. If you heard this story before and feel like you’re reading the same blog over again, I’m sorry but this is my story. And I will gladly proclaim how God took a frail child and turned him into a warrior.

On this day, maybe you feel down and out, depressed, suicidal, feel alone and feel like you could never amount to much. I get it, I’ve been there, but I’m here today to tell you that you can rise above and conquer all of that. Maybe you have bad health, or hate the way your body looks. Okay, lets start making changes right this second.

Maybe you have no use of your legs, okay, you can have a strong upper body!

Maybe you have one leg or arm, that just means that you have to be willing to adapt to your circumstances. There are ways to adapt upper body lifts to those with only one arm. If you have a prosthetic leg, awesome  there’re so many ways you can adapt exercises and functional movements to fit your needs.

Have an autoimmune, still not the end of the world, take the journey of finding good coaches that can help you. Go slow, listen to your body. And go fourth in your journey.

Please understand that, in no way do I intend to sound un-compassionate. Nor am I implying that any of this will be easy. It is because of compassion and love, that I am imploring you  today to not sit in your excuses and settle for anything less then your best.

Do I have my bad days? Yes,  but warriors rise after they fall, they get up after a needed rest.  Greatness comes from darkness, use the pain, use the hurt to drive forward to a better tomorrow. I’ll say it again, there are no short cuts, no self help books or remedies that can make the journey any easier.

What will help is hope. faith. Love and community. These are real things with eternal significants. Whatever is holding you back today, whatever is keeping you from progress. Face it. Don’t give it authority a second longer. Your life matters. Make the most of it.

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