Alyssa Chang is a brain based health and movement coach helping clients get out of pain and discomfort. She teaches you what your body is trying to communicate with you and what those signs and symptoms look and feel like. If you thought you knew everything there was to know about your body, I dare say you are going to learn so much more and discover even MORE ways to enhance your performance and experience your extraordinary potential.
Alyssa, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I’m super excited to chat all things, neuroscience in movement, but also how the body and negative thoughts can impact you know, our health and how we move and what that looks like. So thank you again, for joining me. To kick this off. Let’s hear a bit about you and your story. Because I know that you’ve got a story that I think a lot of people and young women in general can can relate to as well. So um, let’s hear about you.
Okay, so, um, well, I think, you know, I haven’t, it’s been years since I’ve competed. And so I always forget that it has, you know, I would say, brought a level of connection to a lot of people and a lot of women going through very similar current struggles. So I previously was a collegiate athlete, I played volleyball. So I was in the mindset of really training for performance and training like an athlete, and everything I did eat was all for a specific reason, there wasn’t much like enjoyment, because I was so such a stickler on, like, I need to train now I need to do this. And so I was very focused. And you know, that focus after I graduated was kind of like just floating in space. Like, I don’t know what I do now. And you’ll see a lot of athletes go through this, like identity phase of, I don’t know who I am without my sport, you know, and I felt like a, like a little urgency of that. And I had a random friend just mentioned the concept of figure competitions, which is in the realm of bodybuilding. And I was like, I have no idea what that is. And so I went home, and I like googled figure competitions, and for your competitors. And you know, in my Google screen, there was just these women that, you know, appeared very happy, right? The big glamour stage smiles, the very lean bodies, the, you know, the whole production of it just looked glamorous in a way that I think, in my athletics, it was all about performance, where this was just going to test me in another way of like, the structure and the dieting and all of that, and, you know, as an athlete, you’re just like something hard. Sure, I’ll do that. And so I competed and unfortunately, you know, there are a lot of very cookie cutter type of programmes that truly disregard a lot of the you know, a lot of your health and so you know, I experienced what we call metabolic damage or a rebound post show. And with that, I developed a tonne of the anxiety, depression, a huge weight fluctuation because I was in such a starvation mode. I had pain in my body. I had weird bouts of vertigo. I had leaky gut like I mean, everything I was just so symptomatic. And yet I was doing everything what I thought was correct, right, still moving my body, so eating clean, but my body was just like rebelling against anything, I did anything. And so I was left in this space of like, I, you know, I don’t know what’s going on with my body, you know, and I felt very confused, very detached. And so, you know, I got into the work of neuroscience, right in the midst of like, one of my most, like, difficult times, and just my, you know, ally ship with my body. And it really opened up my lens to how much our nervous system is. So it’s always working for us, right? It’s working for us, it’s trying to protect us, keep us safe. And so all of my symptoms were just literally manifestations of like, everything that it was trying to protect me from. And so I learned extensively about the brain and how that intersects with our behaviours and our movements and our pain. And that’s currently what I do, and I teach with my students. I’m so excited for this.
So brain based health and movement coach, yes, explain this.
Yeah. And you know, it’s always funny, because I feel like in a year from now, I might be calling myself something different. Because I was like, you know, in the health space, right, you think of a trainer, and they think like I’ve had, you know, years ago, my clients would always be like, you know, I call you my trainer, but you do a little different things, you know, and I was like, you’re right. And so I think the concept of trainer while I coach movement, and I’m focused on your health, and I take your health in, like, careful hands, my lens on your health is from a neuroscience lens. So I look at all the ways, you know, we can become symptomatic due to stress due to COVID, due to the election that we have in the US, right, all of these things that create a stressful body, and we look at that from this lens of your brain, and help provide kind of your own therapeutic tools that you can feel much safer and grounded in your body.
Yeah, incredible. Well, let’s talk about the nervous system. Because I think, you know, as humans, if we think about training and movement, then we go, Yeah, well, how much am I going to lift or bench or whatever it is? How far Am I going to run? When I think about the nervous system? So what’s its role in our health and training and performance?
Yeah, you know, the so the nervous system in your so right, right? It’s like, here’s how many sets you do. calories you burn. And so it’s very prescriptive, right? So every single student I’ve had, right there so accustomed to these rules, and so when they step into my work, they’re like, Whoa, this is like literally shifting my entire paradigm of how I look at my body, how I look at health, in a way that’s like can be kind of confronting, because they’re like, why doesn’t eberyone else talk about this.
In this industry we train, everything from the neck down, right? We don’t talk about the jaw. We don’t talk about the tongue, the eyes, the ears, right? All of these things that are, again, so close to the brain, like why not, you know, and so your nervous system is your governing system. So she basically is controlling and interpreting and processing everything that’s going around going on around us, it could come down to temperature, light, people energy, right. And she’s always just scanning the environment like for, you know, how safe are you. And when we feel unsafe, we will have again, these very protective mechanisms put in place and mine is like I put on weight because I was in starvation mode too long, she needed to insulate my internal organs so that I could have like working digestive system, right, keeping my uterus and everything, just insulated. And so we look at our own process and are healing from this lens of like, Okay, how is she working for me? And what is she trying to tell me? And it just opens up this beautiful dialogue with your body in a way that again, the fitness industry bypasses because they’re like, No, no, just follow this. It doesn’t matter if you have pain you so fibre reps to go, whereas the nervous system is like, okay, you have pain, this is probably something we need to push, like, explore a little bit so you don’t get hurt more, you know, and it just opens up a dialogue with the body. And I think so many of us need more of that. Because we live in a world that’s very fast paced, that’s high stress that we become very detached and it’s no fault to us, right. It’s just this culture we live in. And so I’m always trying to get my students to like, you know, step back, push, pause and like ask themselves questions.
You have this diagram, and you call it the stress bucket model, and I’m such a visual person so that resonates with me so much. Can you explain that for the listeners?
Yeah, it’s so good. He brought it up. So I was like, I need to like actually shoot like an official video for this, because it’s something I learned when I was studying neuroscience. And I teach it all the time. And it just helps bring the puzzle pieces together, you know. So you want to think of that you start every day with your own bucket. And in this bucket, you’re slowly filling it up with things, right. And you can think of the things that it fills up with as a variety of different categories. It’s your own health history, or past trauma that maybe gets thrown into the bucket. you factor in your relationships? Are they aligned with who you are, you’re Are you feeling connected, which is really hard right now with COVID. A lot of people are, I think, are feeling the strain and the pole of feeling disconnected. So their buckets getting heavier. And then we have like, obviously, the nutrition piece, right, we have the movement piece we have how well you’re breathing. What else is in very interesting category. Um, I think, you know, when it comes down to like recovery and sleep, that’s also a huge influencing factor on how heavy your threat bucket is. So let’s say you wake up in the morning, right? You went to bed really late. So when you woke up, you’re a little dragon, right? You’re tired, and then you’re woke up late, you’re like rushing your morning routine, you’re grabbing your coffee, you’re eating breakfast in the car, then let’s say you are for some reason, second traffic, right? Slowly but surely, your threat bookie gets heavier and heavier. And imagine all these little threats that you experienced, right little stressors, they just fill up your bucket. And then at the end of your day, you get home and you’re like, I have this pounding headache. I feel like my body is just exhausted and depleted. And I’m really irritable. And so your your own bucket can only, like hold so much before it expresses itself. And the loudest signal you’ll give you is pain. And pain is so personal to each of us. So whereas I might get anxious, you might get knee pain, right? Someone might have digestive flare ups, while the other person gets migraines. And so when we start to explore, like, a common question I asked my students is like, what’s in your threat bucket? What are you carrying? And it gives them the lens to be more compassionate to like, my bucket is so full today, you know, versus like, just feeling like What’s wrong with me? You’re like, wow, I miss breakfast. I slept late, did it? You know, a few times.
I’m crying that’s hugging me or something. So Totally, yeah. So, you know,
like an analogy is so great from that lens. But it also, when we think about it, if you have the right tools, right, you can decrease your throat bucket throughout the day. So instead of continuing to compound to one another and get heavier and heavier, you’re like, ooh, well, I’m going to turn to my breathing strategy I learned, right, they do some deep breathing, then their throat bucket decreases. So then at the end of the day, they don’t maybe have a migraine. Maybe they’re just a little anxious, you know? Yeah, yeah. So
you’re trying to get in that deficit type thing? Yeah, amazing.
Now, I don’t know if this is a very broad and large question whether we need to break it down. But the gut brain axis and the influence on the vestibular system of the vestibular system on the gut brain access system. Tell us more about this. Do we need to break down gut brain access is first before we get into why the stimulus has an effect on it?
Yeah, so I’ll, I love this question. Because it’s a really into like the nerdy neuroscience word. And so you know, oftentimes, my students will come to me with some inflammation, some gut stuff, you know, they’re constantly bloated. Maybe their stomach hurts often. Maybe they have weird bowel movements, right? Yeah, that’s..
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COACH ALYSSA CHANG – How to use neuroscience to improve your performance and get out of pain
An injury and change in perspective was all it took for Steve McKenna to once again, take up his love for running and try his luck at triathlons. In the short span of 12 months, Steve gained his long course pro license and was talent scouted by the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) to race and train with the Australian high performance short course team. He has been awarded SA triathlete of the year 4 times in 4 years and has now moved back to long course racing with a Professional Triathlete Organisation World Ranking of #51. To say the move into triathlons was a good one, is an understatement.
Today on the show, I chat with professional triathlete and four times South Australian triathlete of the year Steve McKenna, Steve made the transition from football to triathlon back in 2015, after he broke his leg playing footy, and has since become a pro triathlete ranking 51st in the pro triathlete organisation world rankings. And if there wasn’t impressive enough for you, he achieved that in between studying law and marketing, and juggling a full time job since June 2019. His results in international races have either been first or second, which has resulted in him being ranked second in the world for the 2019 Challenge Family race series. He also debuted in the Ironman distance at Challenge Anhui, China, and finished second placed with one of the fastest Iron Men distance debuts in history. It was so awesome chatting with Steve and getting a bit of insight into what it takes to become a triathlete or a pro triathlete for that matter, and stay there. And also the fact that 2020 has provided more than its fair share of challenges. This was such a fun chat, enjoy this episode with Steve McKenna.
Steve, thank you so much for chatting with me today. You are ranked in the top 50 professional triathlete organisation World Rankings. When you’re having a shit day. Do you just remember that stat and “oh yeah things are right.”
In terms of training, yeah, yeah, that’s good. Everything else? Yeah, I think I am. I probably determine success by my happiness. So that’s gonna be irrelevant in the end.
What I think is pretty incredible, though, is I guess you’ve got that ranking based on your history, which is not going that far back. But you were training, what, up to 30 hours a week, full time job and study. So I think it’s pretty incredible that you’ve reached ou know, that’s so far and, and have so much to go. But before we get into all of that, let’s get some background on you. Where did it all start with you? And how did you eventually get into triathlons.
I was a runner at a national level as a junior so I was new I liked aerobic endurance sort of sports, but um, I used to get nervous as a kid so I’d always underperform at Nationals. And if you look up steeplechase stack on YouTube, that’s an example of retaking Yeah, it’s me falling headfirst into the water.
So not one we should put in the show notes.
You probably should actually. It’s pretty funny looking back. It’s funny now, but it’s devastating time. But basically, that’s an example of me in pre race nerves getting the best of me. So I gave up on it as a junior, and it was really sad. And yeah, it was it was all that mattered to me. And that’s the reason I got so nervous because it was all that mattered. But I gained, perspective by quitting running, going and playing footy with mates and having fun, drinking a lot more than I would have imagined as an elite level runner as a junior. And then yeah, with the perspective again, I eventually, you know, started loving running again but still playing footy. And I was in a footy club where it’s hard to leave, you’re kind of so close with everyone there and you know, if you were to leave without a valid excuse, like why are you going so eventually, I did get back into my running and I broke my leg really badly playing Footy one day, and that was just for an amateur League club roster of local agents, and we took it very seriously. But it was more about the social stuff, really. So yeah, when I broke the leg, and it made a big noise, it was a horrible man of pain. And as I was squeezing, squeezing the grass, pulling the roots out, and basically screaming, all I thought of was that the fact that I couldn’t do the City to Bay of a that year. It wasn’t like, I’m not going to be able to do finals in two weeks for footy. So, straightaway, in that moment, I realised that I should be running. You know, that’s obviously what I care about. And, you know, footy was stopping that from happening.
So, I decided straightaway to do a 180 on the way I was living my life. And but yeah, rehabilitation, obviously involved cycling and swimming. So I would, I was non weight bearing for, I think, 14 weeks, and on crutches for 14 weeks, so it was pretty horrible. But after asking physio, my physio and the doctor what I can do, they said, stationary cycling, take off the moon boot, and swimming. So I did that. And I just tied my feet together because the syndesmosis ligament. If I was to kick, it would ruin the recovery. So yeah, I got pretty good at both of those things, as good as you can with a recovering leg and eventually took the moon boot off and went up Norten Summit. And there was a SASI coach riding and he said, What’s your PB? And I said, I don’t know. I’ve never done it. And he said,
Oh, your first time on the hill,
I said, What was my first ride on the road ever?
And, and he said, Well, you’ve just done 16 minutes for Norton summit. I had no idea what that meant at the time. And anyway, they got me out training with them. With Cycling SA, South Australian Institute of Sport, it was just twice a week, I would join the group. And they taught me the gears and the bike and everything like that. told me that I wasn’t allowed to wear footy socks and footy shorts on the rides, eventually, I learnt that wasn’t going that wasn’t accepted by anyone in the team. So yeah, basically, I was falling off the bike, too often coming down the hills and all sorts because I would turn corners with my left leg down. If we were turning left and just didn’t know anything. I was so green in the sport. So it was it was really affecting my mental, you know, the happiness of just doing cycling because it was just a huge skill to learn. I didn’t do it as much as much as most people did as a kid probably. So this bike skills weren’t there at all. And it’s not just,.. it wasn’t going to be just learning… You know, how to be a professional cyclist or anything like that it was learning to how to ride a bike as well. So it seemed like a huge, huge task. And then eventually I realised once I could run that triathlon might be the go, so I immediately stopped this SASI cycling, which probably was a huge opportunity I was passing up. Because no 22 year old gets asked to join SASI cycling, but yeah, triathlon seen the way to go, because I love running so much. And swimming, I was enjoying that too. The SASI coaches said not to run, it’s gonna ruin your bike legs. And that wasn’t gonna fly with me so quit, did the first draft one locally in West lakes and won it and then that week I pulled back on… well I quit my landscaping job and decided I was going to do this as a pro, no matter what it took. So within a week, I was completely obsessed and taking it very seriously.
Can you talk about your first triathlon in a little bit more detail? Like, going into it? What were you even thinking like, did you think you w ere going to place? Did you know what you’re getting yourself into? Who the competitors were like, What? What was that all like for you?
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STEVE MCKENNA – What it takes to Win in sport and life with Pro Triathlete Steve Mckenna
Mindy is a Registered Psychologist with extensive experience in performance enhancement within organisations and on the sporting field. Having represented Australia in indoor hockey, and enjoying a career as a high performance athlete, Mindy has unique insights into the demands of elite sport and the immense pressure to perform.
Today on the show, I chat with performance psychologist Dr. Mindy Simpson, having represented Australia in indoor hockey and enjoying a career as a high performance athlete. Mindy has unique insights into the demands of elite sport and the immense pressure to perform. She’s represented Australia and Victoria for many years competing at the inaugural indoor hockey World Cup in Germany in 2003. Her experiences help her understand the high performance environment of an elite athlete, she knows firsthand the pressures they face to perform. I had so much fun chatting with Mindy, and there are so many tips and ways that you can manage your performance and get the best out of your abilities. The great thing about this episode is that it is not exclusive to athletes. Anyone who’s looking to get the most out of themselves, whether it be performing at your best at work, on the stage, flying your jet, whatever it is, when you need high performance training, this is a really, really awesome place to start. So enjoy this episode with Dr. Mindy Simpson.
Mindy, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I’m super excited to get into this sport psychologies, incredibly interesting to me. I’ve worked with I work with a lot of different athletes. And we know that, you know, mindset plays a big role in, in performance and how we train. But it really it really goes deeper than that. So I’m excited to explore that with you today. But before we get into it, can you give us some background on your sports or sporting career and how you eventually came to be a sports psychologist?
Sure. Thank you very much for having me, Jackie. So I grew up in Melbourne and I lived there for most of my life. And when I was younger, I played lots of different sports growing up, tennis, gymnastics, I was actually quite a good youth sailor, swimming and diving and cricket. And I loved to play footy as well in the back garden. There was no pathway back then for females playing footy, unfortunately. But I still love the sport. And then I started playing hockey at the age of 30, which is quite late compared to kids today who are now starting at four or five years old. And I love the sport so much that I just spent all day Saturday at the Hockey Club playing juniors in the morning and seniors in the afternoon. It was so much fun. And I also played indoor hockey, which is a different type of hockey. It’s really fun, and it’s fast, and it’s skillful. And it’s exciting. And it’s played with five players on the field and a goalkeeper on a court about the size of a basketball court. And it has moderated hockey rules. And I made my first state team at under 21 level for outdoor hockey for Victoria.
And then I went on to play senior hockey as well for Victoria for a few years. And during this time, I really started to love indoor hockey and do well at it. And I played for 15 years in the Victorian senior State team competing in national championships all over Australia. I don’t think that there’s a state that I haven’t played in. And I love the experience of travelling with the team. We always had great team bonding. And you know, we were quite successful over those years. And then in 1995, I played a season of hockey in Germany, in Hamburg, which was an amazing experience and I’m still really good friends with some of my teammates that I made from there. And I made my debut for the Australian indoor hockey team. I think it was 1997 and we toured New Zealand. And then I remained in that team for nine years and the highlight really was playing in the first ever indoor hockey World Cup in Leipzig, Germany in 2003. That was a really amazing experience.
And then if we talk about the psychology side, straight from school, I went to Melbourne University and completed an arts degree majoring in psychology. And I’ve always been interested in psychology. And I wanted to study sport psychology, but there weren’t many options back then. And I didn’t think that there would be many opportunities for jobs either because it was kind of really at the beginning of sports psychology. So I actually went on to have a 17 year career in market research, which also allowed me to travel and compete in hockey during that time. And then I met my husband through a mutual hockey friend and he was based in Perth. So I moved over here and continued to work in market research. But I’d always wanted to go back and finish my psychology qualifications. So you need to do six years of study to become a registered psychologist. So while I worked here in Perth, I completed that and then a further two years of supervised practice to become an endorsed organisational psychologist. And I was still keen to work in sports performance psychology to combine You know, my experience as an athlete and my passion for supporting athletes and coaches and teams, you know, to help them reach their full potential through their practice of performance psychology. So I started my own business, called I thrive consulting about four and a half years ago. And I’ve also been consulting to a company called Condor performance for the last 18 months.
And now 50% of my work is in organisations, so running leadership programmes, team building sessions, delivering workshops on resilience, and emotional intelligence and coaching executives.
And the other 50% of my work is with AFL players, athletes from a variety of other sports coaches, teams, and also non sporting performance, such as doctors, studying for their specialist exams, stage performers, and pilots. And I work with people of all ages and all levels. So I think that the youngest client I’ve ever had was 11 years old. And the oldest client I’ve had is was a basketball referee in his 60s. So I really love working with different types and variety of people. And the other thing I love doing is developing young female leaders and I have created a lot of programmes around leadership within sport, and work with the AFL programme here, and basketball and cricket in that area.
And I also believe in giving back to my sport, which has given so much to me over the years. So I’ve been coaching hockey for a very long time, at all different ages, but particularly focused at the junior level, because my husband and I currently coach my son who plays and he’s 12 years old.
So yeah, it’s quite a varied history. Yeah. And they do say that, you know, people change careers a lot. Throughout the years, these days. I think the average is around five career changes. Is it? Yeah, something like that.
I, let’s go back a bit, because you mentioned your youngest is 11. the youngest that you have worked with.
Yeah. 11 years old. Yeah.
And then the oldest, did you say 63? In his 60s? Yeah. So I mean, that’s a huge contrast. Do you find it easier working with that young athlete because they’re yet to kind of develop certain habits or mindsets? Or do you find it easy to work with that older person who? I don’t know, who is obviously is there, he’s seeing you for a reason. He knows that something needs to change, obviously.
Yes. So, like, I have three different types of clients. So the first type are clients that come to you that actually have an issue. So a barrier that they need to need help to remove in order for them to perform at their best. The second type is people who are already performing well but want to take their performances to the next level. And the third type are those who have who are struggling with mental health issues. So you know, either depression or anxiety, and that is impacting them as a person in general. And the younger sports, or the younger athletes come to me and and they’re just learning, you know, they’re just learning the mental skills and they concepts that are going to help them perform, I think the best age for juniors to start working with a sports psychologist or performance psychologist is around 13 years old, because they’re old enough then to kind of get it and take onboard the concepts. And they probably are the most likely to be at the level where they’re doing really well in their sport, and they really want to take it to the next level. And they just don’t know how to develop those mental skills that are going to get them there. Yeah, the app, on the other hand, working with adults, you know, I really love working with adults as well, because they get it a lot more quickly than what kids do. But you can break it down for children, you know, all the mental skills and content, you can break it down to kind of smaller steps in order to move them forward. But once they get it, you know, they can take it on board and really run with it.
What do you love about this work?
Well, I’m really interested in human behaviour and kind of what drives and motivates people to be the best that they can be. And I’m really passionate about working together with my clients to reach their potential and achieve, you know, all they want in not just in sport, but in their work life and in their life in general. And so the focus for me is really about the whole person, I take a holistic approach. And it’s not just about you, as an athlete, or you as a performer. And often I think the psychology side of performance is missed. And you know, individuals and coaches haven’t really learned the mental skills that can take their performance to the next level. And the other thing I love about this work is just the variety. I mean, you know, on one day, I could be running a session with 22, seven year old soccer players about creating a positive team environment, I could be coaching a managing director at a law firm, working with a doctor who’s stressed about their upcoming exams, seeing a client with anxiety, and then in the evening running a leadership programme for young AFL women. So that’s really, you know, I love to be doing all sorts of different things. So it’s fantastic to be able to have that variety in my work.
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DR MINDY SIMPSON – The psychology of Sport and how to achieve your best and manage the lows
Chris has been a recreational runner for almost 30 years and with PBs like 2 hours 42 for a marathon and 1 hour 16 for a half marathon, he’s sharing his passion and wisdom for running with his community.
Today on the show, I’m chatting with my good friend and go to person for all my running advice. Chris Taylor. Chris has been running for almost 13 years, and ran his best times in his early 50s. Yes, you heard correct, with the best times of two hours 42 for a marathon and one hour 16 and a half marathon. And did I mentioned that was in his early 50s. Chris has been coaching runners for the last 10 years. And in 2015, he started his own running club, running domain, a friendly and inclusive club that caters to runners of all speeds and abilities. Chris is an open book, and his enthusiasm for running and helping others to run and achieve their goals is evident in the way he runs his club. And in the community he has built, we talk about running through your ladies in life, how to start running, how to get back into running, we cover technique, we cover motivation, and the little voice in your head that may tell you not to run, how to overcome all that, how to get faster, and how to build your engine. I love it all. He was fantastic. I know you’ll enjoy this episode. Check it out with Chris Taylor.
Chris, thank you so much for chatting with me today. We have known each other since 2016. Now and you’ve pretty much been my go to running expert, you’ve helped me with my running and become more efficient. But before we get into all that running goodness, I’d love to know a bit more about you and your background because I know you got into running a little later on in life.
So I got into running later in life when I migrated to Australia, hadn’t really done any exercise since I left school pretty much. And I came to Australia and I was working in it at the time. And I found myself just working with some people who did a bit of recreational running. And they did the corporate cup. So I tagged along and was part of that team. So we did a few training sessions. And because I hadn’t done anything for so many years, I was pretty rubbish. And then I got a little bit better, did the City to Bay did a couple of half marathons early on. And I just enjoyed running so I kept running just as a recreational runner. It’s just something I enjoyed doing. It was something for me something for myself, that I could just go out and do and as a bit of a distraction from you know, life, the world and everything and and something that I just enjoy doing just gave me kind of a good feeling. So that’s why I got into running. And that’s why I stayed running.
I really like how you said that you are rubbish at first. When you feel rubbish, how do you keep going? What do you tell yourself to go to go through that again?
Well, I don’t know. I mean, I figured that everyone else could run so I could run. It was just that I hadn’t done it for such a long time that I just needed to kind of dig in a little bit and make it happen and found that other people could do it and I couldn’t. It’s just really me being unfit. And I think, you know, when you’re in your early 30s and you’re unfit, you know, it’s, you realise that something’s a little bit wrong. And so I just kind of persisted with it. And having persisted with it, I realised that I was actually not too bad at it. It’s just kind of getting over that hump. And I think that’s what a lot of people, you know, when they start running, that’s, that’s one of the things you think, you know, you see other people running and you think oh that looks so lovely, it’s so easy and, and it was the same for me, I’d have people around me who were really quite good runners, and I started and I was hopeless, and I look, you know, physically not that different from it wasn’t like I was carrying a lot of weight or I was, you know, had one leg or anything I was I was kind of well equipped to run I just couldn’t so yeah, it’s It was just a matter of digging in. And once you dig in and get through that hump, then then you’re okay. And it’s, you know, it’s that you have to be a little bit patient. I think that’s probably one of the things that we’ll talk about a little bit further on today. In this is, is patience and not wanting too much too soon. And, and being a little bit kind to yourself.
Yeah, huge. When did you realise you were good at it?
Not for quite some time I like so I started running a long, long time ago, probably 30 years ago. And I ran on and off mostly on my own. And I was never really brave enough to join up with a group because I never thought I was good enough. And I was never really that organised either. And I’ve never really been one for team sports, I was never really one to kind of hang out with other people or need other people I was quite solitary in that, which again, I think is fairly typical, from a lot of runners, I was hopeless at sports at school, you know, just wasn’t really wasn’t at school teams for anything. Basically, I was quite good at running, and which I just enjoy doing for myself. So it was probably only when I joined a running group and found myself amongst a group of other people who were of similar capability. And then you start running together, and you start challenging each other by getting a good cohort of other people. But it was only it’s only when you you know, when you’ve got when you’re running on your own, you got nothing to measure by. And I was doing a few events. I did, you know, half marathon fairly early on in the pace, probably after two or three months of starting running. I did. Wow. Which was actually good. It took me like 10 years to beat that time. Like it was just a bit of a fluke, I think,
wait a minute, what do you what do you mean by it took you 10 years to beat that time?
Well, I think I think I did about a 90 minute half marathon, I never got under 90 minutes for a nother 10 years, I didn’t do that many half marathons, I did do a few through that period, probably not five or six, but it took me quite a long time to actually improve on that time. So kind of set the bar high straightaway and then couldn’t beat it. But so I realised when I was doing that I was okay. But there were a whole lot of people who are a whole lot better than me, like, you know, you see the people at the front and you think they’re gods, you know, like, how can they run those times? You know, and you’re just a hacker in kinda in the middle of the pack. And, but I enjoy doing them. I enjoyed the events, and I enjoyed the atmosphere and being around people in there. So and it does give you a bit of a measure. I mean, it’s one of the things I guess with, with COVID. At the moment, when the lack of events, it’s hard to keep the measure on yourself. But back then, when the back in the day before COVID, when there were events, it’s it’s, you know, it was one of the ways that you kind of know where you are in the scheme of things.
Yeah, you’ve said that your best running times have come in your 50s. Yeah, and your best marathon times at 2hours 42.
Yeah, ran that somewhere around there..
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CHRIS TAYLOR – How do you start running? Remove all barriers of course…
Ange’s positivity in herself, her health, life and business would make you think she won the lottery.
But in her early 30’s she was diagnosed with 2 chronic conditions, Hashimoto’s Disease (when your immune system attacks your thyroid and it stops producing hormones) and Fibromyalgia (a condition that causes pain in the muscles and bones, along with fatigue and poor sleep). Wanting to educate herself in her conditions and take ownership of her life, she did extensive research and made health and wellness her number one priority.
But her next health challenge would prove to be her biggest. Ange was diagnosed with severe dilated cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle, where the heart cannot pump blood as well as it should), putting her at risk of needing an automated external defibrillator (AED) or, potentially, a heart transplant.
An incredible woman with a zest for life despite her challenges. This is her story.
Hey, hey, this is Jackie Tann, and welcome to the body’s built better podcast. On the show, we chat with experts, athletes, coaches and authors to educate and inspire you. We explore the body’s incredible ability to heal, adapt, and evolve so you could crush limitations reconnects your body and mind and discover your extraordinary potential.
Today on the show, I chat with Kaylee, entrepreneur Ange Foster. I learned of Angela’s story this year at the start of the COVID restrictions around Australia. And if you met her at a gathering or bumped into her on the street, you’d never know that she has to take medication to keep her heart, doing its job. diagnosed with heart failure back in 2017, gave her a renewed outlook on life. She started a premium gift box business that helps other businesses showcase their products and get their name out to the public. She volunteers as a committee member on the heart Foundation’s supporting young hearts programme. And she has a full time job. Her story is so important. And she wants everyone to know that no matter what you’re dealing with, there is help and support for you. You are not alone. Be inspired by this incredible woman, Ange Foster. Ange thank you so much for chatting with me today.
What people don’t know is that we only met e-met cyber met, whatever you want to say it, this year in the beginning of the year, because we both own a business. And we were looking to collaborate. And then COVID hit and I remember talking with you, and it was the time where I had just closed down or shut down my business temporarily. And and it was through that, that I began to learn your story. And more importantly, your health challenges, which is one of those things when you’re in a situation And you know, I remember thinking back then, and in my situation, I’d close down the business and I was pretty distraught. After talking with you, I’m like, well, holy shit. I mean, I’ve got my health I’m, I’m pretty good, like otherwise. And so I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re an inspiration to me. And I think your story is a really important one to tell. So thank you for for sharing it with us today.
So let’s kick this off. Can you give our audience or the audience a bit of background on you?
Sure. Well, firstly, thanks for having me on Jackie. I think it’s really important as part of my house journey, to hear from others and connect with others. So that’s why I’m so passionate about sharing my story. I guess it’s not so people, can have that oh shit moment where they go, Oh, poor Ange, I have had to deal with a lot. But you know, I share my story because I hope that it inspires others to face life head on, no matter what’s thrown their way. And we all have different curveballs thrown at us. And I reflect on when we met and hearing your story and the challenges that you were going through, particularly because we’re in different states. I’m in you know, Victoria here in Melbourne, you’re in South Australia. So it was really interesting to hear, from your perspective, what was happening in your world.
You know, I guess in terms of my health journey, it’s really been, gosh, I guess, over 10 years that I’ve been experiencing challenges with my health. So really, things sort of started to feel a lot better. I you know, I wasn’t on top of my health too much in my late 20s and right through to my late 30s. I’m now in my 40s but um, I guess it’s just been a really long road over those 10 years of discovering how to listen to my body and seeking help and making sure that I kep t going until I received diagnoses and was able to pinpoint what’s going on.
So yeah, over the last decade, I’ve had a lot to deal with, I have now three chronic health conditions. The first one I was diagnosed with, in my late 20s was hashimotos disease. So that’s an autoimmune disorder that affects your thyroid.Specifically, basically, your body attacks your thyroid, so it stops working. So it’s similar to how some people have type one diabetes, that’s also an autoimmune disorder where the pancreas stops producing insulin. So for me with the thyroid, basically, it stopped producing the hormones my body needed to operate and, and run itself, essentially.And the second diagnosis, I received the following that so about three or four years after that diagnosis, I was still feeling quite rundown and fatigued.And I had had a lot to deal with in my personal life as well.
And I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is a really tricky kind of, I guess, condition. But mainly it’s fatigue and lack of being able to sleep for me that I found, and particularly a lot of pain and my muscles and bones and joints. So the way that that was diagnosed was basically a process of elimination. And there is no test definitive tests that you can really do for fibromyalgia, but I had sleep studies and blood tests, and I saw, you know, lots of specialists and spoke to my GP, and essentially, based on ruling out anything else and seeing a rheumatologist. to diagnose certain trigger points in my body, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and both of those conditions are treated with medication and lifestyle change. So I was going along pretty pretty well, all things considered. After that I had learned a lot about my body and how to look after myself. And, you know, in regular contact with my GP and my medical team, I guess, different specialists. And then the biggest surprise of all was when I was diagnosed with heart failure.
And that happened about actually, nearly three years ago to the day I was diagnosed, with heart failure, severe heart failure. So I was in hospital for a couple of weeks. Until all the tests around and like and the the team could figure out what’s going on. So that’s been my, my significant health curveball, I think so, you know, a lot has happened in the past three years as well.
Jackie, Ange 07:53
That’s, that’s Yeah, past three years and decade. But some, you know, it is it is part of who I am. But obviously, it doesn’t define who I am. And I think that’s a really important point that, you know, I do have challenges like everyone.
And those, I guess, the more formal health diagnosis I’ve received over the last 10 years. But also with that comes challenges with mental health, challenges with navigating the world around me my career, my family life.
Where to Find Ange:
DISCOUNT CODE: Type LGL10 at The Little Gift Loft checkout to receive 10% off (Use by 31st December)
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ANGE FOSTER – How Heart Failure gave Ange a new lease on life … and a side hustle that supporting small businesses
“The essence of pushing to your limits in endurance sports is learning to override that instinct so that you can hold your finger a little closer to the flame – and keep it there, not for seconds but for minutes, even hours.”
Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure, talks to us about the limits of human endurance, what tests us physiologically and psychologically and how to achieve our full potential by understanding our own perception of pain. A must listen for anyone who wants more from their body, mind and ability.
Hey, hey, this is Jackie Tann, and welcome to the body’s built better podcast. On the show, we chat with experts, athletes, coaches and authors to educate and inspire you. We explore the body’s incredible ability to heal, adapt, and evolve so you could crush limitations, reconnect your body and mind and discover your extraordinary potential.
Today on the show, I chat with author and journalist Alex Hutchinson, Alex wrote the book: Endure Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance. This book has completely changed the way I think about training and what I’ve been thinking during training. He asked the question, what defines a person’s limits, fascinated by the extremes of human endurance testing, both physical and psychological limits?… [Listen to more on the Podcast]
Sure, well, first of all, thanks for having me on. And congratulations on saying that the title of the book without stumbling over it, that it curiously elastic limits human performance even if I stumble over it, and we’re trying to be made. You know, you executed it perfectly. So, congrats on that. And thank you for that. Yeah, so in terms of who I am. And, you know, while you’re talking to me, I guess I would describe my current position in the world as a I mean, I’m a journalist, but more specifically than that I’m a science journalist, and even more specifically than that I’m a Endurance Sports Science journalist, but just kind of a title that I made up for myself. And so my niche in the world is that I, I, I write for, for outside magazines, mostly these days, I’m a freelancer, but I do most of my writing for outside magazines. And I watched the scientific literature to do with a lot to do with endurance sports, I mean, more generally, also with health and and, you know, exercise and fitness and these sorts of areas, but but with a specific focus on endurance sports, and I try and understand what it is that scientists are learning about the way our bodies work and the way we can push our limits, and then try to translate that in a way because there’s this huge sort of firehose of scientific studies that are coming out all the time, but they’re not always accessible… [Listen to more on the Podcast!]
Very much. And there’s so much in the book, it’s, it is quite mind blowing, really. So in the first chapter, you talk about John Landy, he basically declared that the four minute miles were beyond his capabilities, and then less than two months after Roger Bannister beat him to become the first man to break the four minute mile. He too breaks the four minute mile. Does it really come down to what we believe we’re capable of?
Yeah, so you’ll find people with strong opinions on this question. And I think anyone with a super strong opinion is, you know, in my humble opinion, wrong. It’s not all in your mind. But it’s not not in your mind. Your mind matters, too. And so, you know, this sort of Roger Bannister versus John Landy is one of the great debates of the ages. And one of the great sorts of questions is, what would John Landy have done if Roger Bannister didn’t exist? Because, you know, Bannister, I mean, Landy ran 3:57.9 or something like that, I think was 3:507.9 weeks after Bannister broke the four minute mile and he’d been running for like six times in a row. So on the surface, it’s like, he spent years running just over four minutes and then bam, as soon as Bannister does it, he does it. And he didn’t he did it again, too, you know, he wasn’t his only sub four minute mile. You can tell the story the other way too, though, because he’s all his four oh, twos. Were you know, low key meats in Australia and no disrespect to the level of competition in Australia in 1950. But it was he was running by himself and a lot of cases on windswept tracks, you know, and, you know, then he flew to Helsinki or justice to Finland rather, which was kind of the heart of the near the heart of European track and field at the time. The Finns in the early part of the 20th century were the dominant track country with Pavel Nermeen and a lot of other people so we finally got a chance to race against people close to his caliber. And sure enough, then he beat you so you can slice it a bunch of different ways. But to me, there’s no question that there was a mental barrier, and that once Bannister did it, other people set their sights because it wasn’t just Landy, you know, then a few You know, I think three or four other people did it within a year. And then pretty soon, it’s still not easy. And I say this is a guy who’s I was a 1500 meter runner a miler, basically, my best 1500 equates to a four flat point 02 for a mile. So, you know, that’s agonizing to me. And, and, you know, so I have to hugest respect for the four minute mile barrier. It’s, it’s, it’s enormous, but it’s no longer impossible. And I think part of that is thanks to knowing that someone else did it.
Yeah. And I guess there’s being an athlete. Is it one of those things where you look at go Okay, well do the training, got the mindset now I got to compete against those of the same caliber.
For some people it is yeah, some people are gifted at doing it by themselves. You know, some, there’s a lot of different mindsets in the same way that some people need to be in a happy place to compete their best, some people need to be angry at something. Some people need the crowd. Some people find the crowd to be a real, you know, a barrier. They get too nervous so there’s everyone you know, optimal place is different. But in general, if we’re talking generalities, yeah, having someone to push you makes a huge, huge difference. And there’s amazing studies, or at least studies that I find I’d really fast anywhere, that they bring people into the lab and have them race their bicycle as fast as they can…[Listen to more on the Podcast]
Yeah, absolutely incredible. will tell us about the studies that show how our performance is limited by our brains.
Yeah, well, that’s 300 pages of my book. Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s yeah, exactly. It’s, it’s. I mean, there’s studies and there’s real world observations, too. So let me start with one of the sorts of smoking guns that led to this area of research. And just by way of background, what I would say is, you know, the 20th century was a huge leap productive time, in terms of understanding how the body works in the sense of the body as a machine, how do how do our lungs get oxygen to our muscles, how to our muscles, you know, use food, energy and all that. And so there was this vision, or this, this image of the body is just like a machine that we know, and if we know the components of the machine, we can figure out how fast or how far the machine can go. And it’s really since the late 90s, and early 2000s, that scientists have started more explicitly to try and incorporate the body and their understanding of the brain rather than their understanding of, of limits. And it’s, it’s an ongoing process. It’s still people. So lots of arguments. But one of the sort of observations in the late 90s and early 2000s, that was used to sort of argue, hey, this picture of the body as a machine is not sufficient, it doesn’t describe things is the fact that almost everybody sprints towards the finish of a race. So if you think of your body as just this machine for turning food energy into motion, the farther you go in the race, the more tired you are. And so if the fact that you’re slowed down is due to the fact that your body is limited, you should be slowing steadily throughout your race in the last part of the race, you should be as you know, as slow as you can go. And if you’re pushing to your limits, you should be going you should be basically making it to the finish line, hopefully, and then Keeling over, because you’re completely out of energy, you’re completely unable to get any more oxygen. But what we observe is the opposite, right? Like if you go to a local road race and stand near the finish line, you see everyone turn that final corner, see the finish line, and all of a sudden they’re high stepping as fast as they can go if they’re completely fresh. And my assumption was always that this is just a sign of inexperience, right. Like, these people didn’t pace themselves well. And if it was me, I didn’t pace myself. Well, when I get better, I will be able to run myself to the point that I’m pretty much out of energy. And I’m just sort of coasting across the finish line on fumes, because I’ve got all my energy… [Listen to more on the Podcast]
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