Our first mentor is someone who I will forever idolize. My little brother. As a mechanical engineer his job consists of a decent amount of sitting. But he doesn’t let that get in his way of getting in his steps. Or should I say flips? Outside of work, Nick enjoys performing gymnastics with his friends, obstacle courses (he actually set one up in our parents’ backyard), rock climbing, yoga and has hopes to complete his first marathon this October.
Nick talked to Balancing Bicycle about his internal struggle to maintain a lifestyle of balance. When asked about a period of time he felt off balance he immediately remembers a five-week period last summer where he was unable to move as a result of a back injury. Here’s what happened:
While snowboarding in 2016, Nick landed off a jump that set the tone for the next two and a half years of his life. He had extreme pain that radiated down his leg. The pain prevented him from running, lifting, rock climbing and performing gymnastics to the best of his ability. However, his symptoms were maintained through physical therapy and visits to the chiropractor to continue doing the activities he loves at a modified level.
A year and a half later, Nick was tired of living in pain and visited a spinal orthopedist who diagnosed a herniated disc at L5-S1. This means a disc between vertebrae of the low back was protruding onto a nerve that travels down his leg, which was creating Nick’s symptoms. The doctor told him that it was not yet severe enough to perform surgery but eventually there will be a day he won’t be able to walk at which point Nick should come back to see him.
While some might consider this a warning to take it easy, Nick did not. He continued to perform all the activities he could within his comfort level. Nick had good days and bad days in terms of his pain but overall he was living his life the way he wanted to. He and his friends continued to flip around, his workouts were relatively the same and he even spent 6 months abroad in Germany (we’ll dig deeper into this later this week).
Fast forward to June 17th, 2019 when Nick did just one too many backflips on the beach. His last flip resulted in the inability to move his body without excruciating pain. He was unable to be upright longer than the time it takes to use the restroom. The longer he stood, the more severe his pain became. Laying flat was his only relief. So back to the orthopedist he went. Surgery was scheduled 5 weeks later.
As a person who relies heavily on physical activity for balance, 5 weeks in bed threw Nick into a depression that ultimately disrupted the balance in his life. He told Balancing Bicycle, “It was a pretty dark time. When you can’t do anything but lay in bed you start to get depressed.”
His approach to overcome this imbalance was to stay positive and find hope in that his situation was temporary. He found comfort in following fitness enthusiasts Nick Bare and Ross Edgley. One of the quotes Nick Bare is most known for is, “Go one more.” This quote helped Nick while awaiting surgery because each day he thought he was done dealing with his injury he told himself to go one more.
After 5 weeks of watching Netflix, how-to videos and inspirational talks on YouTube, he was finally given the relief he waited what felt like an eternity for. His surgery was a success, he immediately felt better (mostly from all the drugs requiring constant reminders not to do anything he would regret) and then ultimately long-term relief with the slow return to physical activity.
His positivity worked. It got him to the finish line where his life would turn around. Although exercise is typically what Nick uses to maintain his balance he was able to adjust and modify his lifestyle for what he had available to him. He wasn’t able to move without pain prior to surgery but he kept believing he would return to the lifestyle he wanted and used this downtime to reflect on ways to return to his goals.
Nick continues to stay positive and find balance through promoting a life long recovery. He balances his gymnastics and rock climbing with core stability training, yoga and daily stretching. And of course he is continually encouraged by Nick Bare and Ross Edgley who have inspired him to keep moving forward through good days and bad days.