Category Archives: Grad School

Year in Review for 2013

It was by far by best year of blogging. Reviewing everything I wrote and posted this year, I am filled with joy at the memories I created and captured. Blogging for me is a way to process and a way to remember. It’s also turning into a way for me to plan; more on that at the end. Blogging is about creating a web log of what you do, but to be successful (intentionally leaving this undefined) you need to do this with some sort of routine. That’s where I’ve always struggled, and that’s where I started my year 2013.

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Bridging Grad school to the real world

Graduate school is done. I’ve poured over two years into earning a masters degree in kinesiology and I am very proud of the work I produced, the friendships I made, and the growth I experienced.

As I begin to process my time as a grad student and how it will transition my career, I keep asking myself what I learned. The coursework wasn’t as straight forward as I was expecting. But the two years taught me a ton about myself and the process of learning and working. I’m a naturally reflective person and so when I say “learning and working” I mean “how will I take what I’ve learned and apply it to a career?” This begins with a mental framework.


I keep visualizing a bridge. Graduate school was full of scientific papers and grant proposals. A bunch of the material was stuff I will never look at again. And all along the way I kept asking myself, “how do I apply this to make people healthier?” I learned from and worked along side brilliant professors, researchers, and other graduate students. Most of them are spending their careers in research, conducting experiments and writing in scientific journals. I don’t have a passion for that. But each semester I was coming across literature and data that was begging me to be applied to the clinical world. I often used the term clinical because we worked with so many doctors and it was easy to compare the research world with the clinical hospitals. This is where the bridge kept showing up in my head.

The scientific community is not perfect. They are not all-knowing. When you get into many of the topics we learn that we don’t know as much as we think we do. Or that there are conflicting reports about an issue. Nonetheless, there are brilliant papers and concepts in the literature that need to see the light of day. They need me to get them into the real world so that they can help make people healthier. And who knows, maybe my applications will lead to follow-up studies so we can make our adjustments and make the field even better.

The next step isn’t clear to me. But I am confident that I’m about to create a bridge to connect the scientific community with the real world.

Rob and Lisa (part 1)

Wednesday 10:52 pm
Tonight, probably for the last time ever, I got to hang out with Rob and Lisa. Schedules, jobs, life… from here on out they will most likely just get in the way and prevent the three of us from sharing each others’ company and a beer together. Tonight ended a season that spanned four semesters with Rob and Lisa. We entered grad school together and became friends fairly quickly. We struggled though classes together and battled to earn our Masters degrees. Now all the work is complete and three of us will be moving on to the next best thing, something bigger, something better.

But I need to document this. I need to reflect on my friends and put a rock down to remember this moment. I guess this post needs to be part one so that I document this specific moment when we said goodbye. Then I can come back and write part two and talk about the story we created together, the story we will take away from our grad school experience. Story is important. People and relationships are important.

I’m ok being sappy. Even if the three of us and our families are the only ones that get something out if this, that’s fine. That’s why it’s nice having my own blog. It’s mine! So when big life things happen, I’m compelled to mark the moment. Rob and Lisa marked a big moment in my life and I am honored to have made such great friends.

Tonight I had good conversation over good beer with great friends.


Building and the Resistance

I’m building a new model for care in the medical field. The original idea wasn’t mine, but I’ve adopted it and made my adjustments. The campaign is called Exercise is Medicine. It’s an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine. The idea is that people listen to their doctors and will respond if their doctors recommend that they get more physical activity. Just about all of us need more physical activity in our lives and doctors don’t have the time (or usually the expertise) to monitor a person’s fitness. I launched the initiative for Madison in January. I have two doctors that I’m working with and I’m happy with the dialog we’ve started and the program we have in place. The only problem: none of the recommendations have lead to exercise prescription.

The Resistance

Have you ever felt the Resistance?

If you have ever tried to do something creative, or something that would benefit other people, or something that would make your a healthier or better person, you have felt Resistance. Resistance, according to Steven Pressfield, is what tells us that we’re not good enough, that we are going to fail, that we’ll blow it, that we don’t actually want these good things anyway.

The Resistance for me right now is that next hurdle. How do I make some simple adjustments and get some clients to sign up for our program? How much information should I be sharing with the doctors? I put a lot of work into setting up the program, establishing the relationships with the doctors and making the ask for them to participate. It was exciting to launch the program but now I’ve entered the Resistance. The excitement is gone. Momentum has been lost. I’m questioning if this will work and even if so, what’s my next move?

Building a business, establishing relationships, determining your next move all take time. It’s a disciplined practice to plan and execute and I often find it therapeutic to just write it out like this blog post and share it.

Have you had any experience with the Resistance? What kinds of processes do you go through when you’re building something for the first time?


Exercise is Medicine Launches in Madison

Yesterday we officially launched Exercise is Medicine in Madison.  This has been a dream of mine for years, and an active project of mine for a few months now.  The premise is that when you visit your doctor for your regular check-ups, you would be asked about your level of physical activity.  You’re used to getting blood pressure taken, the doctor pokes and prods on your body, and now we want them to ask you how much you move each week.  If you aren’t active enough, your doctor should prescribe exercise or physical activity.

Exercise is Medicine

But doctors cant’t manage that prescription and they certainly can’t handle the management after the program has started.  So the idea is to team up with local exercise specialists and personal trainers to do this work.  I have two doctors who are very interested in this campaign by the American College of Sports Medicine and they’ve agreed to be in my pilot program, which is also a project for an independent study course this semester.  As I finish my graduate degree in Kinesiology, this project will certainly by my seminal work.  I’m very excited for this to launch this week and develop over the next couple months into a real model for the health care field.


I have a few ideas about blogging this process because if it goes as planned, other doctors and trainers will get involved.  My hope is to establish it as a viable program that can be implemented at numerous hospitals or even with individual doctors.


The Grad School Project – Psychological Effects of Exercise (weeks 1 and 2)

The first two weeks of the spring semester have started really well.  This group of courses is going to challenge me to freshen up on my stats.  My three courses include:

  • Kines 700: PA psychology
  • Kines 791: PA Epidemiology
  • Kiness 699: Independent study in pediatric fitness

The following is my reflection on Kines 700 from the first two weeks.

Exercise adherence is a very difficult issue.  Education isn’t working.  We know that 50% will quit exercise within 6 month, and another 50% of what’s left will quit by 9 months.  By one year, everyone is done!  We’re applying behavioral change theories in an attempt to be more successful at getting people to make healthier choices and be more physically active.  One interesting area of development is the use of technology, with all the apps and being plugged in.  The digital advances are particularly interesting to me – make it easy (and fun?) for people; also include social networks because it’s been shown that the social component is essential – does that include social networks?  “Be more active, watch less TV” isn’t working.  We need to look at it differently.

Regarding exercise and mental health, we talked about the iceberg profile – athletes show exactly opposite signs of mental health as the inactive population.  And exercise has been shown to be as effective as antidepressants, sometimes even exceeding their effectiveness.  How do we get this implemented in our society?  What is the dose-response necessary?  Lastly, there has been no follow-up for studies on children.  The childhood obesity pandemic is completely unacceptable.  We have seen short-term affects in children when the increase their physical activity; how do we follow-up and change their lifestyles?

Dr. Mogan visited us the second week and told stories from his career.  He is considered the father of Exercise Psychology!  It really was an honor to have him with us.  His experiences range from working with the U.S. Olympic Committee to working in State mental health hospitals.  He has a particular interest in hypnosis, which was surprising to me but difficult to refute some of the results, and thus possibilities.

Dr. William Morgan

One interesting bit of research that Dr. Morgan presented was the idea of association vs. dissociation.  The conversation here is with elite marathon runners: do they associate and think about the pain of their body as they are competing, or do the dissociate and think about other distractions and not their pain.  Elite runners associate with their pain and their body, while sub-elite runners dissociated.

The most interesting topics Dr. Morgan discussed was his concept called Factor P.  Presented at ACSM in 2006, he suggested that we need to think of exercise and physical activity differently.  We need to think of working with Factor P, namely purpose.  Commuting to work, taking the dog for a walk, being involved in exercise groups.  These are example where there is a higher purpose than to just lose weight or firm up.  I have had this view for years, suggesting to all of my clients that they need to sign up for a run to add context and meaning to their workouts.  I’ve said that working out for the sake of working out simply does not work for 95% of the population – it certainly doesn’t for me, and I’m becoming an expert in the field.  As he says, running on a treadmill to nowhere is probably not a good idea.  Dr. Morgan has had a profound influence on my training principles for years; he was an instructor in PE 100 back in my undergraduate days.  The concept of Factor P was easily the biggest take-away from our lecture Tuesday afternoon.