Always Be Rehabbing (ABR) – Nutritionally and It Takes a Village

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Hello Wellesse fans!    My last blog disclosed my recent injury and the ALWAYS BE REHABBING physically mindset.  This blog post addresses rehabbing with nutrition!

 

WE are athletes!  We get hurt  in our sport, training for our sport or doing other things that humans do… it is life… the difference is how we choose to heal or perhaps; what we are willing to go through to heal,  might be the real question.

 

Proper nutrition is an increasingly valuable tool in rehabilitation and healing. There are times when I am not eating much that is not rebuilding muscle or repairing damage. This is NOT an age issue, this is an athlete issue.

 

THE VILLAGE:  I had a doctor do incredible damage to my hamstrings. I was willing to undergo surgery with no anesthesia and insane pain to be healed. I made a choice to fight back extremely and I did.  When you get this hurt, people are either for you OR against you very quickly.  It is human nature. More precisely this is a dividing line especially for an older athlete. To make a professional athlete it takes a village!

 

My Village is Wellesse, my exceptional medial doctors, Wroten, Brisco, Dewar, Carrington and Albano!! My PT geniuses Hughes, my NMT mastermind Reid, my legal counsel Michael Dement, friends, a key brother Tony, & my coach.

 

That said, if I am not 100% committed to my village then all their brilliance and support is a total waste.   Without a village at this level you might as well go to bed and forget about it!  Or said differently, NEVER EVER let the village down – NEVER!

 

Always Be Rehabbing nutritionally:  When an athlete gets hurt, nutrition plays a bigger role in how fast we recover.

 

So, I got hurt!  My brilliant PT is exactly what I needed.  Short version – she gets the rather extreme level of determination I have.  The diagnosis:  The Femoral nerve is chemically and mechanically injured, meaning a lot of pain and no strength.  The nerve is so messed up it is not sending any messages; consequently, my glute, hamstring and quad are worthless.

 

I am horrified and I tell her, “If you tell me to stand on my head for 10 days in a row, I will do whatever you tell me and then do it 100% more!”   Best to let her know the nut job she has to fix upfront. 

 

So how do you fix it fast? Or faster than the average person?  There is the crisis to manage too, the pain and the inflammation.  REALITY is get rid of all inflammation by what you eat; no sugar, no cheese, no shell fish, no peanuts, and no dairy, no chicken, no beef.

 

She says… “Now you go VEGAN.”  I really thought this woman was sort of testing me …..  But she was serious… I knew I told her I would do anything, and I meant it, but she better not think this is a joke.

 

I stated, “I am freaking out:  I have lost 8 lbs., my strength is declining and I need a great deal of protein. What am I supposed to eat?”

 

She says, “A head of romaine has 1 complete strand of protein.”   I seriously laughed stating, “I am not going to blend up 128 heads of lettuce a day”  She did not blink!  She stared me down and firmly said, “You eat beans and lentils.”   My reply, “NO I won’t do it!  I hate all beans, they all make me sick and I hate lentils too.”  But I am no fool and thought, at least I should ask, “why vegan?”

 

She says, “its simple, Prata, if you eat plant proteins or fast processed proteins the blood supply is being used to heal the nerve.”   Well, how do you argue with that?  Vegan here I come, no beans, but vegan.

 

I blended romaine, added my own insane concoctions of protein and started sucking down protein shakes at a stupid level.  But the thing that saved me was downing the Wellesse liquid protein. At least half a bottle a day! (Disclaimer- Do not do what I did- ask your doctor)  This is a brilliant product, designed for post gastric bypass type of surgeries.   Liquid Wellesse Protein is fast absorbed as a liquid and I carry a bottle everywhere and take a swig out of it like water… it tastes great, keeps me ingesting protein in a good dose.

 

I ate nothing I was not supposed to.  I made cookie sheets of a hybrid high protein calufutti created by my NMT and then “super-protein sized” by me that I think packs about 10 grams of protein per square.  My brain at every meal is thinking, Never quit, Never let the village down.

 

I cannot sit with this nerve issue so holiday meals are nonexistent – NONE! Party mode is standing, seltzer water and giant swigs of liquid protein.  It is lonely to eat like this when in pain.  I have fought back before but this injury and recovery has changed me, likely forever.

 

Nutritional rehabbing might include a lot of supplements.   I researched and take anything that will help heal this type of an issue.  Please always research well and talk to your doctors and specialists before taking anything new.

 

Now the really good part – Always Be Rehabbing & THE VILLAGE.  It is the holidays – I am a corporate executive that gets hired to grow, fix or get companies back on track and out of trouble.  I get invited to some awesome parties.

 

SCENE:  Invitation is in NY to a Black tie event.  I graciously contact the host, hostess in advance and explain I am an athlete, an Olympic hopeful injured but healing and I mean no disrespect; but may I please bring my own food  (protein bars) and Wellesse liquid protein?   I promised to be full black tie and that my Wellesse liquid protein would go in an antique sterling silver flask. They were delighted I was coming, quite curious about my dedication to The Village and fascinated with my flask idea!  I volunteered to let the bar tender test the product to ensure I had not brought my own booze.

 

The PARTY:   I show up – I did warn my date, and my VILLAGE discussion with him was clear or …. So I thought.  The evening was lovely; I stood during seated presentations.  People had heard whispers of my flask and my dedication to “THE VILLAGE.”  I ate my salad, discreetly ate protein bars and of course, the flask was its own topic.  Like anything in life, it is how you say it and how you manage it. 

 

I have absolute confidence and am never embarrassed by my choices.  Well, throughout the evening people asked for help with supplements, docs, PTs, NMT etc.  I always help where I can. As the evening wore on my village grew. Eventually, the host and hostess were at the door saying good night.  I had said my good nights and turn around to look for my date.  He was fantastically angry at me and I am not going to guess what the root cause of his problem was.  But people are moving toward the door and he loudly says in anger at me,

 

“How dare you embarrass me like this (I had actually invited him as it was my party invite), not eat the scallops, the fillet, and I know you like martinis and you did not even have one. Your stupid idea of toasting with liquid protein is embarrassing, what is wrong with you?  Your commitment to that stupid sport, YOUR VILLAGE AND YOUR COACH IS going to be a waste of time and look what you could have had .. What do you say to that?” 

 

There are times in life when it only takes a moment; and I happen to have a mouth that when given a moment I often take it! At this point people had gathered with eyes as big as saucers just staring, as he was loud and this was a small forum.

 

I was sort of alone near the door as I had said my good nights.  Without even blinking, I looked my date square in the eye and firmly with calm and undying confidence said, ”Frankly Scarlett, I  don’t  give  a   damn!”   I  turned and walked out! I heard an immediate outburst of applause.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Hostess came after me and were beaming and thanking me for what I brought to the night in terms of commitment & dedication.

 

I end this blog with a similar vein as to the past one:

  • You must have absolute confidence in what you are willing to do to achieve the goal.
  • ABR is NOT an option PHYSICALLY OR NUTRIONALLY
  • NEVER LET THE VILLAGE DOWN!

 

FINALLY, I think we can safely conclude that my determination to ABR nutritionally will result similarly to my physical ABR where wearing a weight vest to work guarantees I always be single! Although, I have to admit, “Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.”

 

Yours in Ice, Prata

 

Guest post by Anna Prata, an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day.   In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround.  Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR.  Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical  or psychological advice.  




How does an older athlete train? ABR!

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How does an older athlete train?  In three words I can summarize all of it…

 

ALWAYS BE REHABBING! 

 

There are things in life that we embark upon that we call a WIP or Work in Process.  These are ongoing, never ending projects.  Similarly, a 1992 movie called “Glen Gary Glen Ross” features Alec Baldwin delivering  a sales speech that to many is very harsh and greatly contributes to ill perceptions of sales people.  He says to his team, “ABC”, that means Always Be Closing!

 

People love to say things like “Well, you are older, you just do not heal the same” or frankly they want you to get hurt simply because they are jealous of the fact that you are even trying.  As you get closer to your goal, at each milestone that gets you closer, you have to be stronger, faster, cleaner and leaner, which means dealing with increased risks.

 

 I propose that people analyze the age factor incorrectly.

 

An older athlete has to be more careful because we often do not have an extra 5 hours a day to be in the gym, sleep, or text as the hardest part of our day.

 

Not surprisingly, being in the gym as an older athlete, I have life on my mind.  I am burning my retirement remember?  So if oil futures suck I am not so happy.  Net, net – this kind of a distraction is what can get you hurt!  Not just chronological age, but the complexity of life that mentally comes with age when paired with having to stay in Olympic condition means taking seriously measurable risk!

 

If you are 20 yrs. old and throwing around weights with your headset on – you are NOT listening to an earnings report or a conference call on mute so your focus is scattered.  You pick up too much weight, so what, you drop it.  If you harm a muscle, you often have parents or some other immediate help to start repairing the damage and minimize the inflammation.

 

I am more careful and this means I am not going to drive to back squat 2.5 times my weight.  1.8 x my weight might be enough.

 

The key is how do I get and stay in Olympic competitive condition?

 

Do I do 3 sets of 65 lb. flat bench weights,  or do I choose 5 sets of 6-7 reps of 45 lb. weights?   I find as I get older, my muscles benefit from the endurance as well as strength.

 

HOW I choose to be effective and successful might be very different than a 20 yr. old.

 

I am small and very strong for my size.  My sled, Gabriel, weights 78 lbs.  Being able to carry Gabriel 150 meters in the snow and still slide without huffing and puffing onto the truck which hauls my butt to the top of the track is highly important to me because I want to stay strong and safe.

 

Consequently, I train differently.     I am mindful of the “ALWAYS BE REHABBING!” mantra.

 

I do not run blindly onto the truck without looking for patches of ice!  I have seen many an athlete dash and damage!  Yes we are on trucks with no heat, in the dark, in the middle of the night often with ice patches as we carry our sleds across them…. it takes an astute athlete to even contemplate navigating these frozen waters.

 

Let’s get back to the ALWAYS BE REHABBING- I am and always have to be rehabbing!

 

My warm up looks like a PT routine in a rehab center for who knows what.  Seriously, ask me if I care what I look like and obviously the answer is HELL NO!  What I care about is that I am careful.  (NOT cautious – there is a difference) I am careful; as you all know by now I had a bad doctor.  I fought back from hamstring injuries and am stronger & faster; but how I warm up my glutes to refire my hamstrings is likely very different than a 20 year old (although if a 20 yr. old has pulled hammys- you will see their warm up look like mine HA! – again NOT an age thing, but an “always be rehabbing thing”.

 

I recently had a bad injury that impacted my femoral nerve- I will write about this in my next blog on what do we eat!

 

Rehabbing is constant:  I work- I have a yoga mat at work to do PT and to work micro muscles that are often forgotten. ABR!! I sleep on a piece of plywood to help heal faster.  I do more core training during rehab and I wear a weight vest to recover faster from any injury down time.   I wear a suit to work; I look like I have a bomb strapped to me. Always be rehabbing, MEANS ALWAYS!  It is a warm up, a work break – or in front of the TV or how you drive… how you sit, how you walk.. 24 X 7 if you are serious then you better always be rehabbing!   

 

On a lighter note, I am a single older athlete, wearing a weight vest, or leg weights with a suit is a guarantee for one thing only – that I will in fact always be rehabbing and always be single… NOT a good look.  You can’t have it all! But I have what I need!

 

Older athletes are constantly juggling; but even if you are not multitasking, you are focused.  I take Wellesse Glucosamine and Chondroitin every day, but I better be mindful of my form during that earnings report!

 

One friend stated last week, “ As long as I have known you, Prata – I have never seen anyone endure the pain you are willing to endure to repair and get stronger.  I am sometimes embarrassed by what you are willing to do and I would never even spend 10 min of one day doing what you are willing to do 24 X 7, day after day, year after year.”

 

One of my secrets to “always be rehabbing” exists largely because of the way I was raised.  “Go conquer the world – It is yours!” was my Mother’s mantra.

 

HERE IS MY SECRET!!  I have never EVEN ONCE in my life doubted myself or my confidence or conviction in what I am capable of doing. Never had a fear of anything! (Except being buried alive…) I HAVE ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE IN WHO I AM, MY TRUE NORTH AND THAT I WILL ALWAYS BE REHABBING!

 

Guest post by Anna Prata, an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day.   In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround.  Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR.  Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical  or psychological advice.

 

 

 




Is There Any Difference Being An Older Athlete? The Loneliness Factor

Past articles in this series selected gritty topics to examine, with our families and loved ones affected – not always positively – by our choice to be an older athlete; even when there is great communication and commitment to the goal between the athlete and their family or spouse.  This series did have a great deal of discussion about what the loved ones or inner circles in our lives (as professional athletes) actually encounter.

 

This blog is all about the athlete.   How lonely is it?  

 

Being an older athlete means juggling a lot of issues between career, training, spouse, children, finances, medical visits, and sometimes intimacy issues and competition.  Any and all of these issues can create a feeling of loneliness.

 

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely!

 

Let’s be clear:   We own our choices and that is that – no whining, or as I was raised “no blood, no Band-Aid.”

 

It is rewarding to be an older athlete, it is invigorating, and it keeps you healthy, young and well, not sure about “wealthy or wise.” But I would not trade my choice for the world – until the moment I do.

 

Being an older athlete means that at any point in time you might have to make a different decision for the family, for the retirement plan, for the career.  A younger athlete usually does not face these decisions.

 

Being an older athlete can be extremely lonely!  It is exhausting!  I do not mean physically because of a hard work out – I mean the juggling of life. 

 

I am going to use my specific sport because it is my experience. The sport of skeleton is what I chose somewhat blindly to go “all in”.  Everyone’s journey is different.

 

I am a winter athlete which means if I do not live near an ice track.  I have to go find one in EU, Canada, Japan or the USA.  We train at the gym in the morning – we train on the ice at night, on a track at higher altitude.  By the time the athletes commence training, it is cold and dark.   We warm up, we slide, we go down the hill, and go back up in a truck, in the dark, at temperatures of -10 degrees, in a paper thin speedo.  If you are in Alberta it can be -20 (-25 and they close the track).

 

The cold alone can create emotional fatigue and loneliness.   In addition, there is something more challenging about training for something in the dark – Special Forces Navy Seals and other divers train in the dark underwater.  Darkness brings an entirely different dimension to any sport or training.

 

My alarm goes off at 3:17 a.m. and again it is dark and cold.   wake up to silence and my own energy -mixing the right protein shake, planning food for the day and packing the car for the gym and then the laptop for a days work – There is no one to say “come on Prata, you can do it! – we are doing dead lifts and core today!” except the voice in my head.

 

During the day I train, mix protein shakes, take my supplements, try to stay warm, work on my sled, call the insurance, the 401K investment research, and work a minimum of 12 hours in corporate America – do conference calls on mute while sanding the runners on my sled in a basement that I rented with a hat on my head, because it is damp and cold.  No one has checked on me to see how I am or if I have eaten enough or am I ready for the night.

 

3:30 PM – I still have to get my sled ready for night training, get to the track, make my runs, load up my gear after sliding, drive home, (often chaining up to get out of snow) and arrive home around 11:00 p.m., wet, cold and insanely hungry.  This is lonely and I love it –  but, after four days of intense physical and emotional pushing, even the energizer bunny is tired.

 

I have stood in curves of the track with my love for the sport and the ice in the dark studying what I did wrong on that steer and cried.  I have cried hard knowing I am older and have to learn faster.  There is no learning faster in this sport – a friend said, “You cannot force it – it will come.”

 

I have always been able to conquer- there were nights the harder I tried the worse I did. And after working so hard to do well and missing that mark, I still have a full night ahead.  This is lonely.

 

Being an older athlete can or might mean you do NOT have emotional support.  Even your most inner circle does not really know why you are doing this, let alone agree with your choices.  

 

No champion means you start every day out emotionally alone.

 

You have to dig very deep to find the drive.  I have tenacity and determination in spades and I use these to prevail.  I also happen to be a Girl Scout and survival trained, so when I am stuck on the pass at night after training cold and hungry,  I already have protein bars, a sleeping bag and shovels and lights to dig out if I have too.  Talk about lonely!!! All you want is someone in that moment to care, love or support you or take a turn with the shovel!

 

This is when being an older athlete, you dig deep and ask why you are doing it?  For Fame?   Wrong answer!  FOR the purity of the sport?  YES!!.   

 

Do not expect support from someone who does not understand-that will never happen.  Do not pursue a dream like this while trying to impress anybody!

 

For me, I fell in love with the ice.  Often falling in love is a beautiful thing.  In this case it has proven to be one of the most amazing blessings and also a curse.

 

Pursue your dream no matter what and if that means you learn to deal with a deep loneliness on occasion- I assure you, it will make you stronger, your resolve more intact and your focus more clear.

 

To illustrate my point, here’s a scenario:

I have pulled up to my temporary den, the snow is blowing and I cannot get down the driveway and into the garage without shoveling 40 meters of driveway.  What the hell!  At this point in the night I am thinking, “BRING IT!”  Another workout!   30 minutes later I am in the garage, unloading my sled and gear bag (sled weighs 34.5 KG /75+lbs) I still need to shower and get food in me fast so my muscles recover.  My heart rate has been high enough for such an extended period of time, being in survival mode after training, that I will burn in excess of 8000 calories this night.  I am so hungry!   I am emotionally processing my runs in the shower. It never stops!

 

There was no one to have watched or videoed, no one to say, “Nice job Prata! or what the hell was that?”  No one to make sure the salmon does not overcook (I prefer my salmon quite rare), no one to dry the clothes, dry off Gabriel (my sled); yet, as lonely as this can be, I have no regrets.

 

I fell in love with the ice, and anytime anyone falls in love and you are fortunate to have that happen in life, then you have to play it out! It is amazing what one will do for love and in my case the true purity of the sport. I have no regrets!  

 

This blog is dedicated to Louis Cardello- a precious kind human who has supported me emotionally from a distance and asked me on many nights, “Well, how did curve 6 go?”  He has never seen a track, he never will, he simply knows and trusts my commitment and passion for this sport and he respects that I must play it out.

 

Anna Prata is an Olympic hopeful Competitive Skeleton Athlete. Otherwise known mainly by her last name of Prata, she is 100% committed and passionate about living every moment of her life and leaving it on the field every day.   In her non-athlete time, Prata is a highly successful executive in the niche of corporate turnaround.  Both her corporate life and her sports life have similarities of stealth, intensity, and speed in creating value and less time down the ice; while wearing Kevlar to protect from the dangers of companies in distress and from potentially hitting a wall of ice at 90 MPR.  Ms. Prata is not a nutritionist, a physical therapist or in any way should her opinions be considered medical, physical  or psychological advice.