It Is NOT Normal To Be Having Strokes/Cardiac Events In Your 20s and 30s

When I started working in the movement field just over a decade ago, my specialty was (and still is) special populations, neurological conditions and pain management. Special populations meant anything from a young person with a disability to an active senior (over the age of 55). The average age of my clients was 75 years old. As such, it was required that I had basic knowledge of commonly prescribed medications, their side effects and their possible interaction with exercise eg beta-blockers reduce heart rates so you are careful when adjusting target heart rates. I also dealt with strokes, pre and post heart surgeries, pre and post orthopedic surgeries, Parkinson’s, dementia etc.; everything associated with aging.

About 5 years ago, I received a call from a doctor asking if I would take a 32 year old patient who just had a stroke. Of course. It was unusual to see a young person experience a stroke but it does happen.

Then it happened again, and again, and again. Strokes and abnormal cardiac events in 30-somethings, then 20-something.


Believe it or not, this is NOT normal.

I started looking closer at my clients and the general area in which we live. A lot of Type-A personalities who thrive under stress, companies driven by the need to “innovate” and turn a 10x return for their investors, start-ups in overdrive wanting to be the next best thing and no one actually taking a moment to look and listen to what is happening to their bodies. No one willing to take the slow, careful path to anything. It might be great for the Silicon Valley economy, but absolutely detrimental to the bodies who populated the Valley.

Two things became clear:




I started noticing a lot of people going on anxiety and sleep medications. When questioned further (because they didn’t show signs of anxiety when they were with me) they start talking about how these medications help them “come down” from a day of work. When I ask if we need to look at their sleep hygiene (yes, it’s a real thing) instead of heading straight to a pharmaceutical, they look at me as if I am crazy. For an area that is all about clean eating, organic fruit and vegetables, grass-fed meats, cage-free eggs, biodynamic sustainable farms, gluten-free everything, polypharmaceuticals is the dirty underbelly that no one talks about. Prescription cascade (again, something that use to be only seen in elderly patients) is also now a norm.


This is NOT OK!


Provigil (a narcolepsy medication) has become the drug of choice for many software programmers around the world. For smart people, this is honestly a seriously stupid decision. They say the medication helps them focus better and they are more productive at work but they have a hard time unwinding when they get home, so they take Lunesta to sleep. They have also started getting anxious and antsy at work, so their doctor added an SSRI or a SNRI to the mix. Are you kidding me?!!?? You are a neurologically normal person taking a narcolepsy medication; what did you think was going to happen?


Think more “Flowers for Algernon” than “Limitless”.


To compound the situation, some clients are seeing multiple doctors who do not necessarily share information. Some clients are either embarrassed to talk about it or disregard its seriousness.


Everything and anything you ingest will have a side effect, everything and anything you ingest will affect your body’s response to stimuli, everything and anything you ingest will influence what we can do with/to your body. Don’t lie about it.



If your job requires you to sit for over 10 hours a day, and then you decide you are going to run an obstacle race or a half/full marathon on the weekend without training because someone dared you or the gal/guy you think is cute asked you to, and really how hard can it be? You are courting disaster.


Your body will break under a force it is not prepared for.

If you are throwing up before/during/after your workout, you are doing the wrong workout. It is NOT a badge of honour. You are hurting yourself. How many times do you think you can recover successfully from rhabdomyolysis?



If your clients are throwing up before / during / after the workout you designed and you are proud of that fact, get a new job.

We, in the health/fitness/wellness industries, are here to help people take care of themselves. We are not suppose to add stress to their lives or over-stress their bodies. Above all else, teach self care and self love. Teach your clients to slow down. Change takes time. The most miraculous transformations are the ones that last for longer than 12 weeks.

Clients, be kind to yourselves. Be patient. Prioritise. You can have everything and do everything, but maybe not all at once.


— Fiona

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