Why Health-First Should Be Priority-One

Take care of your body-Quote-Jim Rohn

My entire coaching practice is based on a health-first approach. By helping my clients improve their overall health, body composition and performance goals inevitably follow suit- and in a sustainable manner. I pride myself on this approach and the results of my clients speak for themselves.

For me personally, 2015 has been quite the year. In March I finished in a tie for 4th at the Arnold Strongman World Championships (u175). I knew at the time that something was wrong with my knee, but I shrugged it off because I had a chance to win Worlds and subsequently re-qualify for the 2016 Worlds in May; at which point I knew I could take the necessary time to rest and let my knee heal. I had a plan, and I felt good about it. Here's how things played out after Worlds:

May 2nd: Won the Odd Haugen Strongman Challenge in Chicago and punched my ticket for the 2016 Arnold Strongman World Championships. On plan.

May 26th: Diagnosed with a partially-torn patellar tendon. Not worst case scenario, but a worse outcome than I'd anticipated.

June 25th: Received a PRP injection in my knee to repair the tear. Anticipated recovery, 6 weeks. Back on plan.

August 27th: Discovered my PRP injection had failed to help my knee in any way. Shit.

October 3rd: Met with a new specialist and decided that a bone marrow aspiration and stem cell injection was the only answer for my knee. Clock is ticking.

October 28th: Had this second procedure and stem cell injection in my knee. Doctor didn't argue with my timeline of competing in March. Feeling confident.

November 14th: Knee feels fantastic. After being off my knee for 2 weeks, begin walking and rehab exercise. Ecstatic.

November 15th: Knee feels like it's re-injured. Inflamed and painful. Anxiety attack.

November 23rd: Knee has gradually improved over the past week. Ultrasound shows knee is healing as planned. Realize that this is going to be a much longer process than first anticipated. Doctor finally mentions that competing in March would be stupid if I want my knee to heal properly. White flag is raised.

I'm really good at giving advice, but given that I'm stubborn and ambitious, I'm terrible at taking my own. I love Strongman and I love competing. I left a lot of points on the field last year at Worlds and I know how close I am to the top of my sport. I spent the entire summer working on my weaknesses- improving mobility, strengthening my pressing, erasing imbalances- in preparation for the day when my knee would be ready so that I could piece it all together, ramp up my strength, and accomplish what I set out to do. I'm not a quitter, and I don't accept failure. I set goals and goals exist to be attained. But this attitude, although noble, is how you can destroy the most important thing in life- health.

Without health, what do you have? I could go into a long diatribe here, but I won't. The answer is cut and dry: You have nothing. Without health you can't fully enjoy the things that make life worth living. This is what I preach and I'm going to make sure I practice accordingly.

My current decision has been hard to accept, but it's the right decision. I'm 32 years old and above all else, I want to make sure that I have 2 healthy knees for the rest of my life. Will I compete again? Absolutely I will. My timeline has shifted, but my goals remain the same. Instead of the 2016 World Championships, my first title will have to come in 2017. I continue to learn, I continue to grow and you can be damn sure that I will continue to get stronger until I've achieved what I set out to do.

At the end of the day, remember to step back and look at the big picture. Goals are incredibly important, but don't forget to consider the context in which your goals are set. Winning is fun and accolades are great, but don't put these things ahead of your health and future.

- DW

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