Roles Redefined

Photo: Derrick Johnson

Photo: Derrick Johnson

Lost….do you ever spend time reflecting on how you got to where you are now?  We start our lives in the care of our parents developing our personality, character, interests only to have these shift as a result of our own experiences and choices in life.  

One of the most, if not the most, trying times in my life was directly after college.  I grew up a baseball player.  Like legitimately, my grandmother bought me a left handed and right handed baseball glove while I was still in utero.  It was my destiny.  From the time I could walk and throw, baseball was life.  We watched the Baltimore Orioles games every night at my grandparents’ home.  Once I was old enough to start giving a crap about practicing (8ish), my dad would hit me 100 grounders every night sometimes even in the rain or freezing temps.  He would toss me batting practice in the church field across from our house (until I started hitting the ball far enough where there was a solid chance that I would hit a porcelain statue of Jesus on the cross…don’t want that kind of bad luck).  We got a family membership to a local batting cage when the cold weather began to move in.  All summer, neighborhood friends would arrange backyard ball games.  It was life.  This carried into high school where off-season weight training became important.  My family would travel nearly every weekend from May to September to chaperone me to games on Saturday AND Sunday.  All the effort and time led to two Delaware First Team All State Selections and eventually a partial scholarship to a Division I college (every ball players dream…aside from getting draft to the Majors).  

In college, I had 3 pretty successful seasons including a top 100 batting average in the country my junior year.  I thought maybe I had a shot at taking this to the next level.  Then two weeks before my senior season, it happened…I got hurt…season ending.  I took a fastball to my wrist, breaking it and rupturing some ligaments (doc thought the ligament tears might’ve been some old injury exacerbated).  At first, no big deal, I thought.  I can red shirt (take the year off of baseball) and still play the following year.  In that time period, I had to make a call that at the time didn’t seem that big of a deal but would significantly change my life.  I had to decide between spending the next year finishing up a degree to be a school teacher OR take two summer classes and start a Master’s Degree.  I chose Master’s.  When I made this decision, what I didn’t realize was the impending changes and time dedications that it would entail. 

College baseball was a full-time job in itself.  2-3 hour practices 6 days a week, on top of 1-2 hours of weight training/conditioning 3-5 times a week and because I wanted to be the best, an extra 1-2 hours of hitting and fielding outside of practice at least a few times a week, if not daily.    What I didn’t anticipate is the extra time my internship would take, travel time to and from it, extra workload because, well, it was a master’s degree.  This resulted in missing practice from time to time and those extra hours outside of practice started to become non-existent.  I was tired; it was a lot.  After our season ended, I had to continue to work into the summer to make up some of my internship hours.  I saw my batting average drop well over .100 points from the previous year.  I went from starting nearly every game for my first three years to seeing some bench time.  It wasn’t the best way to end a lifetime in baseball.  But it was over.  I was done playing. 

I managed to hang on to team sports for another year as I was offered a graduate assistantship for the athletic department.  It basically meant that I was in attendance of all sporting events to help setup chairs, clean floors, rake fields, do all the things need to make the games flow.  The behind the scenes stuff.  I’m forever grateful of this experience.  It helped a lot to keep me in the flow of sports but wasn’t the same.

I promise I’m not writing this to, not so humble, brag all my baseball accolades and accomplishments.  I didn’t write all that to give you the insider on how to become a collegiate athlete or the rigors of college sports.  I wrote that to show you how much baseball was my life.    I honestly did not go to college to get a degree; I went to play baseball.  Legit.  It worked out that I did end up getting a couple degrees, but I went to play ball.  So hopefully the above illustrates how invested I was into a single thing.  My second hope is that this may be somewhat relatable to you.

See, when my baseball career was over, I had no idea who or what I was.  I was always Trey Bell the baseball player.  That was my role; that’s what I did in my free time; that’s what I dreamed about and what kept me up at night before I went to sleep.  Baseball, baseball, baseball.  Once school was over, I was totally 100% lost.  I was lucky enough to do some international traveling to somewhat avoid defining who or what I was.  Then I moved around a lot, across country a couple times and through different jobs/potential careers.  For a moment in time, I was a crossing guard, maintenance contractor, food server…all with a Master’s degree.  

I didn’t know what to do, and I feel like a lot of people go through this.  Whether it’s transitioning from being an athlete to an employee, a mother/father to an empty nester, “midlife crisis,” single to married, married to single.  There are tons of questions marks out there.  The transition SUCKS sometimes.  But it happens to pretty much all of us.

So what do we do?  

Search.  We have to search.  We have to be open to try new things.  We have to be open to new experiences.  We have to be open to….CHANGE.  

Ultimately, the key to all of this is not defining ourselves by our activities, by our job, by our role in the family.  We are all defined by our values.  What we are to one person is often quite different than what we are to someone else.  It’s ever changing, but if we stick to our values, our morals, and keep an open and curious mind everything is going to be pretty dag on good.  We learn a lot of skills through our earlier life experiences our last “roles.”  Both what to do and, maybe even more importantly, what NOT to do.  And we can use these to pursue further life situations and stances.  We often find that the search is the destination, and as long as we’re true to ourselves, we’re going to be just fine.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, I found my path…for now.  After trying my best to avoid any careers in the social services field, I realized that it’s been my calling all along to help people through tough situations in life.  I’m an outpatient therapist/wellness coach helping people with their mindset around life as well as food and fitness interventions to create an all encompassing feel good human.  On occasion, I’ll still dust off the glove and play some slow pitch softball, but I found some new hobbies in rock climbing and surfing (would’ve never guessed that twenty years ago).  I currently live in a van, sometimes down by the river, climbing, surfing and sharing the word of well!

Kids Have It Right


Kids Have It Right

Kids seriously have it right.  Especially the younger ones.  While us adults are walking around planet Earth, worried about all the what ifs, deep emotions related to what someone said last Monday about the way our hair sat, kids are just solid in that particular moment.  Playing with dolls, nothing else exists in the world.  Building a sand castle, the only additional thought is if it’s Princess Elsa, or Princess Rapunzel living inside.  

Oh, and one of my favorite parts of kids is the whole redirection deal.  They will be completely mortified that they can’t have mac and cheese for dinner, but then you remind them about the action figure in the living room and there are no cares in the world.  We adults get cut off on the highway and it ruins the next few minutes/hours of our day.  Sometimes it even goes beyond that.  

Somewhere in the mix of childhood to adulthood, we become conditioned away from letting things go and into letting things eat us up, A LOT.  Somewhere in this mix, we allow ourselves to become distracted with negative emotions rather than just paying attention to what we’re doing in that moment.  And somewhere in this mix, we feel such strong emotion that we begin to use activities as a way of distraction from our emotions rather than participating in an activity because it brings us joy.  

So I guess I’m challenging you to take the mind of a child.  When you’re doing something, do that.  When you’re struggling with emotion, maybe sit with it and see if it’s something that’s truly worth contemplating some future action, or realize that, yeah that dude cut you off and all, and maybe it wasn’t super cool, but you’re ok, he’s ok, so let’s keep it moving.  And if it is something that needs your attention (maybe a relationship issue, or a career change), take action.  When we start moving in a direction of movement, we undoubtedly feel better because when not allowing it to fester.  

Hope you have a kick ass day!


Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

We currently live in a life where’s it’s much easier to distract ourselves than it is to know what we’re really thinking!  I mean let’s be honest, the thing you’re reading this on can be an amazing device of unlimited information from topic to topic.  Anything you want to know can be found in an instant from almost anywhere on the planet!  Super freaking cool!  

On the flip side, how often are we really able to sit there without something to hold our attention?  Something to pull us away from observations.  Something that takes us away from awareness.  

It’s rare nowadays that we’re “bored.”  Like truly bored.  When there’s nothing that can stimulate us.  I mean we even take our phones with us to take a #2.  Wtf???  I’d argue that most of the greatest minds of all time were ones that “got away from it all” to put thoughts to paper.  Thoreau went to Lake Walden.  You hear of writers renting cabins in the woods, ALL THE TIME, to finish or write a book.  I mean, heck, as I write this, I’m in an area with no cell signal.  But we are all enamored in our lives with the phones, with the computers, with the social media dopamine hits.

More than anything else, I’m writing this in an effort to help create even the subtle hints of awareness around what we’re doing, what we’re thinking.  If the next time you even think twice before picking up your phone, that’s awareness.  If you start to type in the URL for that site that you’ve already visited 8 times today and just acknowledge that, hmmmm…that’s a lot of visits, you’re creating awareness.  

It’s my belief that awareness is the key to effective emotional management, we react rather than respond in this period of time, and I think that if we were just a little more thoughtful about what we were thinking (see what I did there), it would go a long way in having a lot more happiness and a lot less strife.  

So how about this…over the next few days, just take notice of how often you pick up your phone or use the screen time setting on your phone? Maybe even put some time limits on those apps? Could be a good start in reclaiming some awareness…


Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

I was just reading an excerpt from a book “Know Where You’re Going” and paraphrased it mentioned something like-when you’re sitting and looking out a window your perspective is different than when you’re standing and looking out the same window. You notice different things that you may have not seen when you were sitting, and you don’t see some things that you were able to see when you were seated. Something I try to instill in others is that we all see the world in different ways. When we try to understand the way others see a situation, circumstance, view, we are gaining more perspective. We are less judgmental. We are more accepting. We become less (insert negative emotion) toward another. We are able to be more united. And we begin to notice more of the subtleties of the world. Hope this helps ya kick ass a little more this week!



This isn’t the kind of values like morals or ethics…well kind of isn’t.  This is about the value of….…

I was recently speaking with a client about how much we value things.  I asked him how much he values his happiness?  He responded with, “that’s deep.”  So we started the discussion on the values we put on various aspects of our lives.

I brought the conversation back to material things.  When you spend a bunch of money on something, you typically get a product that is much superior to that that costs much less.  With that, the product normally lasts longer and long-term, in most cases, ends up saving you money in the long run or even making you money if it’s something that you may use for your work.

So I pose the question to you: how much do you value your happiness…your health…your family time…your higher learner…your career/business…your travel…your (insert word)?  Now, let’s rework the recent metaphor and exchange money for time because that is the ultimate equalizer for us as humans.  In order for us to achieve desired result (emotional, physical, whatever it is), we have to understand that we must prioritize ‘said thing.’  What does that mean?  Shaving off the things that aren’t necessary.  

My client put it a more palatable way.  He said, “It’s like eating healthier.  You have the junk foods you need to cut out, and the salads you need to eat more of.”  Everyone’s “junk foods” are different.  This could mean rolling out of bed and stretching rather than grabbing your phone and scrolling through your social media feed…guilty, it could mean cutting toxic people out of your life, it could mean shutting off the TV 30 mins earlier than normal, it could mean pursuing a different career, it could mean anything for you.  But in order to start having more salads, we have to shave off some of the junk food.  Some folks can throw all the junk food in the garbage tomorrow and insert salads, and some of us need to say we’re only going to have two pints of ice cream a week vs every night.  We’re all different and need to do things in different ways/time frames.  We all need to add in different kinds of salads.

So I ask that you think about the salads you want to add to your life (could be metaphorical or actual salads) and think about the things to shave off that can still leave some room for you salad.  Think about how much you value your salads and know that the more you value it the more you have to do to make it a reality.  There’s a high likelihood that if your salad is actual physical health and you prioritize this, yes, it may cost more to buy produce, yes, that gym membership is going to eat up some funds, but in return, you’ll more than likely end up having more energy, a longer life without major health issues, less medical expenses, the list goes on.  This works with whatever salad you want to put in there!

And if ya need any ideas on how to organize your daily/weekly “intake,” just tap that contact button on the top and let’s chat!

Robot Humans

Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

Health and wellness coach, talk therapist, personal trainer, nutrition junky, all the holistic things.  This guy must have it together all the time, I mean look at all those letters behind his name.  

As much as I wish this was the case, even the people that know exactly what to do and work in the industry get caught up in talking the talk but not walking the walk.  Ever happen to you in your “field of expertise?”  Well, let me tell ya a little story about how this all happened to me.

Over the past fifteen plus years, I, as well as everyone else in the world has been working towards the situation they’ve come to at this particular moment. Everyone’s story is different.  Mine built from changing my college major three times and getting my master’s in social work, neglecting the field, getting back into it, loving it, hating it, getting a personal training cert, getting a certification in holistic health coaching, and combining them all into the website/business you’re reading this through right now.

After all these things really fell into place, I got super passionate about the health and wellness field, a field I never dreamed I would be involved.  So I created a vision, a business, and started helping people.  I wanted to advance it and grow it, so I realized that I needed to cut time in other areas of my world to get this thing bigger.  What do you think the first things I cut were?  Meditation time because come on my meditation time is right when I get up and that’s of course my most creative time too!  Obvious drop, duh!  Let’s cut yoga out too.  By the time, I drive to class, take it, and then drive home it’s like 2 hrs!  You know what I could do with 2 more hours of time???  Next up, time outside.  Those Monday afternoon surf sessions or walks in nature or even a light jog is going to eat up AT LEAST an hour!  And I can get WAY more done before my office job if I don’t make up for those lost events in the mornings that I go to the office.  Let’s set aside all those things and just totally take the fun out of life.

So what’s left you ask?  Work, hardcore training to become a better rock climber, some more work, and a little more work.  You’re probably thinking, so he took out all the self-care stuff in his life aside from healthy eating, and some hardcore fitness training and he’s a heath and wellness coach???  WTF???

Robot Human, that’s what I turned myself into.  Zero depth, no personality, lack of energy.  No longer was I a human being, but now a human doing.  Not to mention, incurring multiple injuries, illnesses, and barely spending time with anyone else outside of clients and me.  I was literally a walking Robot Human and doing NOTHING THAT I TELL OTHER PEOPLE TO DO.  I was burnt out, and it literally took a trip of getting away from it all to realize it.  Self-care was my number one trait, and I totally blew it off because I had this vision.  I knew there was an end in sight, but when the next thing and then the next thing and then the next thing happened, the end got farther and farther away.  It happens to most of us.  We put off everything and just start cranking.  We neglect the stuff that really makes us who we are and leads us to become robots.

So what do you do?  You make sure to make time for you and what you love.  That could mean ANYTHING.  Scheduling a class at the gym, a walk on the beach on your lunch break, dinner out with a friend or love one.  When we do these things regularly, we are more fresh versions of ourselves.  We are more motivated to work hard.  We are more creative.  We are more energetic.  And we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing: having fun.  

Take some time out every day for you.  Whether that be a 2 minute meditation, reading a few pages in a book, or taking a full day to knit a scarf.  Give yourself more things to look forward to and I bet you’ll feel more motivated and more accomplished.


Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

This word comes up a lot in my practice working with optimizing people’s lives. It’s a word that comes up a lot in my personal life. It’s a word that comes up in your life. 
We all have wants, desires. We all have changes we want to make. “I want to lose 10 lbs.” “I want a new career.” “I need routine to help with my time efficiency.” But with all these wants comes sacrifice and changes to be made which comes back to taking action.

What are your goals and what’s your plan of action to get there? Most times it’s an uphill walk to get to where you want to go. Some times you get to the top of the hill and it’s super cold and dark and someone is already climbing the route you want to do (pictures above). But even if that’s the case and you can look back down to all you did to get there, you always come out on top, and you always have personal growth. 

Do Shit You Love Then Go To Bed

Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

Photo: Vasyl Hnyp

Do shit you love then go to bed. -Athena Allread

Simplicity is this word that we all allow to get away from us. In our core, we all have the things that truly makes us tick, make us be the best versions of us. But most of us (myself included) also allow standards of our society or our peers or just flat out the environment we place ourselves in to dictate our actions and behaviors and above all, our mindset.

When we break free of these ideologies and just genuinely be ourselves, and “do shit we like,” life falls into place for us. We’re more creative. We think more clearly. We have more drive. We open ourselves up to the lives we’re supposed to live. And maybe even more importantly we spark others around us to do shit they like and that sounds like a lot of happy shit.

Under Pressure, Part 2

Photo: Drew Smith

Photo: Drew Smith

We’re back with Part 2 on stress and the effect of adrenaline on the body.

If you’re just tuning in, here’s a quick review of Part 1:

We discussed how our bodies are placed in constant stress through our choice of activity (climbing, strength training, etc.) and everyday lifestyle factors (traffic, busy schedules, etc.).  We also looked at how the body responds similarly to these stressors, releasing hormones like adrenaline, and how this can impact the body.  That being said, let’s take a look at some methods for stress recovery and stress prevention.

Stress is an inevitable part of life.

But sometimes we create extra stress for ourselves. This happens when we do spur-of-the-moment activities like pounding out a one rep max, or sprinting up a mountain. So how can we prep our bodies for that stress?

Well, the obvious answer here is to adopt a lifestyle where you’re able to consciously control your stress, whether that stress is in your mind or body. Assuming you’re trying to live that lifestyle, I know you’re still going to go for your personal best on that next race, or tick off that high-ball boulder problem you’ve been eyeing forever in your Buttermilks guidebook. Oh, and you’re probably going to keep your hectic schedule job, right?

So what’s the practical solution here? 

Let’s start with food and supplementation. Proper nutrition intake is going to make you feel better, everytime.  Also, finding the right fuels to go along with your meals is key. We don’t get enough nutrients from our food alone, especially when we skimp and eat fast food. A pre-, during-, and post-exercise nutrition regimen is of the utmost importance, especially when you’re training about demanding more from your body. Whether that’s BCAAs, protein, and/or electrolytes, finding an effective nutrition strategy for your training will decrease the stress your body will undergo, which reduces long term inflammation. This all adds up to your body working effectively and not having to work so hard to recover. This in turns leaves more energy to help you cope with stress.

Caffeine: This stuff is pretty awesome. But be smart with it.

It helps with alertness and blood flow which gets you jacked for that full-on physical exertion.  Used in an effective way, caffeine can really give you that needed jolt to get you through your proj. However, let’s look at the flip side of caffeine. Overconsumption gets that adrenaline all tapped out, meaning possible exhaustion, irritability, potential weight gain, and issues with restful sleep. So use caffeine to help with training, but be smart about using it too much, as it could disrupt productivity in other activities throughout the day.

So how do I counteract my body’s response to stress?

I’m glad you asked. Engaging your relaxation response is the quickest and most effective way to recover from stress. The quickest way to get your relaxation response moving is through deep abdominal breathing. Activities like Tai Chi and yoga can work to deepen the breath while linking it to the exercise. The key here is that deep abdominal breathing. Even singing and laughing can boost up relaxation and get that stress response down (so maybe keep a comedian or two on your cool down playlist).

Speaking of playlists, music can also help your body and mind to relax.  Finding music that matches your mood has been shown to lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels.  So make sure to keep that throwback Ja Rule track pumping on your way back from the gym.  Also, social connectivity is vital in stress management.  When you spend time with others, especially the ones you feel closest to, and even some physical touch increases oxytocin release (a feel good hormone) and reduces cortisol.  So that bro hug with your buddy might do a little more than you think.

Stress is a part of everyone’s life, no doubt.

Remember that you have control of how you prepare yourself for stress everyday. Carving out ten minutes to tune into your breathing will make a big difference in how you respond to stress triggers. And with proper nutrition and fueling, you’ll be able to channel your stress in a way that’s healthy for you long term. These stress tactics will also bring you incredible results.

Try it out! And don’t be surprise when you suddenly start seeing improvements.

Good luck out there!

Picture Credit: Drew Smith

Under Pressure, Part 1

Photo: Savannah Cummins

Photo: Savannah Cummins

250ft off the deck on the third pitch of your climb. The last piece of gear you placed was 15ft ago, and it wasn’t that good. You’re about to blow off this hold, but you go for the next move, stick that good hold, walk your feet up, and get a good piece of gear in. You remember that breathing is okay, and allow yourself a little rest before heading to the anchors.

Race day: you’re cruising that 5K, look down at your watch and you’re on mark for a personal best. Then, someone comes out of nowhere and passes you! You’re dueling back and forth, you push ahead, dig super deep and not only get your new personal best, but win your own mini race within that race.

Or that 100 burpees for time challenge. Or max out day. Or pretty much any day doing High-Intensity Interval Training.

All these things have one major thing in common: adrenaline release.

Adrenaline is this super amazing hormone that our bodies use on a daily basis. So what does it do?  Basically, it decreases the body’s ability to feel pain, heightens its awareness, and increases strength and performance. All of these functions are triggered through stress. That’s pretty sweet!

One major problem though….we only have a certain amount of adrenaline our bodies can release, and if we use more than our allotted amount, issues might surface. But before we hit the symptoms, let’s get a little info on how adrenaline works.

Here’s the breakdown: when we get stressed out, hormones/neurotransmitters (including adrenaline) are released, superhero mode is engaged, we perform, and then we crash. The interesting part of this whole process is that thousands of years ago your stress wasn’t the crux clip on your 5.13 proj or dialing in your sub 16:00 minute 5K, the stress was literally being chased by a bear or lion or some other substantially sized creature that could do some serious damage to your body. And today our bodies give the same exact response to stress whether you’re living through a real life version of Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant  or you’re stuck in traffic, late for work. Unfortunately, for us here in fast-paced 2017, our society is in a constant state of stress.  

Wake up at 5am, go to the gym, train hard, shower, go to work, meet that big deadline you’ve been talking about, go to your afternoon presentation, get off work, make dinner, get drinks with friends, maybe hit a second gym sesh. Not to mention the stress you experience with relationships, careers, and personal obstacles. We have zero downtime day to day, and these life stressors, coupled with that extra adrenaline release from physical output, is a potential recipe for adrenal fatigue.

So you’re probably asking what adrenal fatigue looks like?

This is what happens to your body when it’s placed in stress overload: High blood pressure, restlessness, irritability, decreased sleep, feeling jittery, even weight gain or obesity can occur from amped up stress and adrenaline levels. Really, these are only a few of the symptoms, and if you’re anything like most athletes or fitness enthusiasts, you’ve had one if not all of these bad boys at some point in your training.

After all this, your curiosity may be peaked on what to do to counteract or even prevent the effects of adrenal fatigue. While the answers vary for each individual, we have some tried and true tips that may help you. Stick around, Gnarly’s next blog post will address more on how to keep those adrenal thresholds in check.


Picture Credit : Savannah Cummins