The popular podcaster brings his health and wellness column to the Torch Online Media
HEALTH -- Welcome to the new home of Athletics for Life articles. I am very excited to be writing and releasing even more content for every one as much as possible.
In this first introductory article, I am going to cover a couple things. The first is, most importantly, who I am and why I’m writing, the second is going to be what you can expect from future Athletics for Life articles, and thirdly, well we will see if we get that far today!
So, if you haven’t already noticed, I’m very informal when I write for Athletics for Life.
This has purpose.
I do this because although I have an educational background in Health Sciences, I speak in terms of experience when I am writing for Athletics for Life. This means that some of the stuff I talk about is anecdotal experience (something I have experienced rather than researched).
I speak from an emotional, yet intellectual side. I write with a purpose of helping others as opposed to teaching principles.
Yet, this is not to say that we will not talk about the latest and greatest research; this simply is to let you know that I am not just another lab-coat wearing scientist trying to push an agenda for a quick buck. Rather, I am just a guy who has fought through (and continues to fight) his own disease, and wants to help others in their struggle against whatever it is they may be fighting.
With that said, I guess it is time to introduce myself.
My name is Michael Short. I am a 28-year-old who was diagnosed with an incurable disease six years ago. On that fateful day, in 2011, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
What is ulcerative colitis?
Well, it is an autoimmune disease (yup, my own immune system seems to find my own organs as the enemy) that attacks the large intestine and colon. The severity of the disease can range from very mild to a point where the only option is surgery.
I’ve lingered on the cliff of surgery a few times, but each time I refused to give in. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis, like severity, will range but ultimately include things like abdominal pain and cramping, urgency to use the bathroom, diarrhea, blood when you poop, and then associated symptoms like joint pain and mood swings.
But enough about colitis! I am quite sure that there will be enough colitis talk in the articles to come.
Anyway, I graduated from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology last year (2016) and went right back to school.
I am currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Community Health. Furthermore, I have worked as a coach and a personal trainer over the years.
Along with the coaching, I have been an athlete all my life, except for a brief period of time after my diagnosis. I grew up playing hockey until the age of 18, where they kick you out into the world of beer leagues.
I wasn’t so cool with this, but found a home training in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) for a few years. I also played football throughout high school and recently have found a passion as a goalkeeper in the sport of soccer.
On top of all that, I also have a passion for lifting weights and running, biking, or doing anything else that I find physically challenging. I can honestly say that without sports and fitness, I may have never gotten over my diagnosis and would have never finished my degree.
The thing with disease is that it is an easy downward spiral to fall into. You don’t feel well at first, but you ignore it if you can. Then slowly, the signs start to progress. You feel worse and worse until one day you go to your doctor.
Usually, after a bunch of uncomfortable tests, you will receive your diagnosis. It’s not always well received, as in my case I just straight up denied it even existed.
You get medication that hopefully works, but the side effects can cause you to feel bad. You stop working out, playing sports, and seeing your friends.
Your new favorite hobby becomes researching why you feel so bad and how you can fix it. At least, this was my case. Soon I found myself trapped in my own house out of fear of embarrassment. Sometimes, colitis can make you have to run to the bathroom and that being said, you don’t always make it.
Pretty soon I was living a solitary existence in my mom’s basement. I never saw my friends, and I was wondering how I was ever going to graduate school. The idea of dropping out was not far out of reach.
I was desperate for a solution. I was slightly depressed and anxious all the time. Then one day, out of nowhere, I read an article about a professional soccer player who had ulcerative colitis.
He said in the article that playing soccer was the only time he felt human. It was worth a try. I soon began lifting weights in my basement, trying to work up the courage to take my fitness workouts and move them to the soccer pitch.
Eventually I joined my school’s intramural soccer league. After my first game, I realized the potential playing sports had for controlling my symptoms, and I haven’t looked back since.
As I said, I graduated, I got married to the love of my life a year later, and I’m not afraid to go to work or school.
I present weekly to groups of 30 people stress and symptom free and I have regained control over my life.
I even rekindled friendships I once thought were lost.
All this because I played a sport and lifted a few weights. It is remarkable. I had help with medication but on its own, the medication was only having a dampening effect. I have since made it my life mission to spread the news about physical activity and the power it has against disease. And so here I am. But what can you expect?
Well, I believe a lot in the power of leading by example. To do that, I often write about my own experiences of what has worked and what hasn’t worked for me.
That being said, different things work for different people, so my word is not scripture. It is simply something to keep in mind.
Furthermore, I will only write about things I have done myself. I’m not going to advise anyone go on a ketogenic diet if I’ve never tried it first.
What I will do though is try to help guide you through living with disease and living an active healthy lifestyle. I will attempt to motivate you but I will also share my own embarrassing or sad moments to show you that you are not the only one going through it.
You are not alone in your journey.
So, at the end of the day, what I’m really trying to say is that I’m here to share my story and experiences, but most importantly, I’m here to try to help you.