Unfortunately life is like an off suit 2 and 9 in the pocket for many people born into this world. Not everyone gets dealt pocket aces, or pulls a royal flush. Some of us get hands that are good enough to play, and we play them.
Sadly, some of us get great hands and chose not to play them. However if you are like Jordan Frantz you are going to pay to see the flop, short stacked with bunk cards.
Let me explain.
Not everyone is so lucky to be born in perfect physical and mental condition. If you have your health you are truly a lucky person. You see, Jordan Frantz was born with Cerebral Palsy, a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. For him, throwing in the cards would have been easy - maybe even expected. Nevertheless Jordan decided, with a short stack and bad cards to pay and see the flop, turn and river.
As you will see the burning desire to be the best you can be is definitely in Jordan. As easy as it is to impose obstacles and unnecessary conflicts upon oneself, Jordan is doing quite good for him self. Without further ado, I proudly introduce you all to Jordan "The Unlikely Toad" Frantz.
[ J-Rod ] Hey Jordan, thanks for taking the time to share your story with others. Can you just give us some general, background information about yourself? How old are you and where are you from?
Jordan: Just turned 23 (May 3rd) actually... This kind of reminds me of my favorite Kenny Chesney song "Back where I come from"... but yeah, I come from a very small town -- Halifax, PA. You know the type, the kind where most people think they know your business before you do. I graduated from a class of 105 people if that puts things in perspective for you.
If I want to go shopping for clothes or to the movies I've got to drive into the big city. As much as I complain about it however, its home and there's no other place I could see myself because I'm big on family.
[ J-Rod ] Can you tell us a little bit about your condition? What exactly is Cerebral Palsy? And what are the main disadvantages you face in regards to day to day activity? Also, do you think you have any advantages as an individual because of your condition?
Jordan: According to United Cerebral Palsy, cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to one or more specific areas of the brain, usually occurring during fetal development; before, during, or shortly after birth; or during infancy.
Thus, these disorders are not caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. Instead, faulty development or damage to motor areas in the brain disrupts the brain's ability to adequately control movement and posture.
"Cerebral" refers to the brain and "palsy" to muscle weakness/poor control. Cerebral palsy itself is not progressive (i.e. brain damage does not get worse); however, secondary conditions, such as muscle spasticity, can develop which may get better over time, get worse, or remain the same. Cerebral palsy is not communicable. It is not a disease and should not be referred to as such.
A stroke at birth actually caused my CP which resulted in hemiplegia of my left side. This specifically means that I have lost motor skills/ dexterity in my left hand, as well as impairment in my left leg that causes me to walk with a limp.
Because of the disfigurement in my foot and slightly smaller in length leg, balance has always been a major issue. However despite all that, I've been very fortunate in life.
Most people with CP from my experience aren't so lucky. Where as I can walk, many are wheelchair bound. Issues with my hand have always been the most frustrating. I'd say I have about 70% use with it.
This limits what exercises I can perform. I rely primarily on machines and cannot do standard bench or curls of any sort. One small disadvantage I face every morning is tying my shoes. Point blank -- I can't.
I either wear pre-tied sneakers or have someone tie them for me. It's a humbling experience that always reminds me you're only as strong as your weakest link. An advantage would be my ability to sympathize as well as empathize with those of similar disadvantages or less fortunate.
[ J-Rod ] The pictures you have sent me are amazing. You truly have made tremendous progress. Exactly how did you get involved in weight training?
Jordan: Well, for me college couldn't have come at a better time in my life. I wanted to start fresh, seeing as though I burnt one too many bridges in High School. At one time an acquaintance of mine called me a chameleon and rightfully so. I was always on the fence. I knew what it felt like to be popular, but I also knew what it felt like to be the minority and discriminated against.
I learned quickly how to use this to my advantage and thus at times used people in order to get what I wanted. This was even used against my gym teacher in High School, as I knew I could get out of certain Phys. Ed. activities if I played the part of the 'gimp', most notably the weight-training unit.
People told me it was impossible and I believed it, so why even entertain the idea right? This became pivotal to my thinking freshman year. I knew by going away to college, I could have a clean slate and start over. So my goals became a.) To try to be as genuine as I could be without allowing people's opinion to influence me, and b.) To find myself a girlfriend.
The girlfriend part always bothered me, since having CP is physical in nature, so growing up I felt like I had two strikes against me from the start. I immediately thought, ok - so I might be damaged goods on the outside, but if I get a six-pack girls might find me more attractive and every little bit helps, right? Of course, it never dawned on me then what my attitude was like but even looking back now, I could tell it was time for a serious overhaul.
That overhaul came in November of 2000. That's when my whole life turned upside-down. In a nutshell I owe a lot to my old college roommate Kelby Hunt. Kelby was the first person (other than my parents) to actually believe in me. He actually took the time to find out what I could and couldn't do, even gave me ideas on how to modify exercises. Without him to push me and to take the time and experiment, who knows where I'd be.
I'd like to think that eventually I'd find these things out on my own, and I might have. However, the bigger picture may not have been realized until years later or not at all. It was as if someone had stuck the key into the ignition and turn me on.
With the added confidence came a better attitude toward life. For the first time I seriously felt like I had purpose. Over the following years I was consumed by the bodybuilding mentality. I read everything I could. I joined several bodybuilding message boards. An addiction had begun, and well... the rest was history.
[ J-Rod ] Tell me about what you mean by a fresh start... also, how exactly were you discriminated against? How did this make you feel? And how did you find the silver lining in the cloud?
Jordan: Just like most people, high school is a time where you really start wondering who you are as a person and what you're all about. Each and every one of us has to eventually come to grips with our reality sometime in life.
It's usually played out in the self-talk of our minds. I was no exception. All in all, high school was a great experience for me but in trying to mold myself as a person I got lost on quite a few occasions.
Looking back at it now I feel like I probably let a few close people down I shouldn't have all for the sake of being "cool", while spending time with others that could've probably cared less.
But like with everything in life, hindsight is 20/20 and if you're a sound person you learn from those mistakes. No longer do I try to be a follower, I see myself as a leader.
I wouldn't say I was discriminated against per se, but I think because of my disability, it cut me short of a lot of opportunities as a kid.
For example, I'd always get picked last to play sports or never got picked at all. Throughout high school the inability to get dates cut pretty deep. It was always something else though, never because of looks.
Yet you knew somewhere in your mind the reasons given were just as 'lame' as they made you out to be. The silver lining came with the reality check of learning who I wanted to be as a person.
[ J-Rod ] Many people reading this article know you from various bodybuilding message boards on the net under the user name The Unlikely Toad. How exactly did you come up with that moniker?
Jordan: I thought it was a unique screen name that could be seen multiple ways. The first and probably most obvious was a play off the classic Frog Prince story. Since I was seventeen and had CP, it was always reinforced to me that looks were deceiving and that someday someone would see me for who I was because I had a lot to offer.
At seventeen I really didn't buy into it, but none-the-less I went with it. The real story, however, came while living at my parent's old house. We lived in the woods and toads were all over the place. I never thought much of them until one day I saw one without a leg. It was trying to climb up an embankment. For some reason I was fascinated by this and wasn't quite sure how to feel.
I didn't know if I should help it or to just sit back and watch. I figured there would really be no point in helping it since it probably wouldn't be the last time it would have to overcome such obstacles. Then, in an instant, I realized just how much it paralleled my life and knew this metaphor was something I wanted to model my life after.
[ J-Rod ] What are you doing right now at this time and point in your life?
Jordan: Trying to find a full-time job in the Harrisburg Area. I graduated in December from Bloomsburg University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Currently, I'm substitute teaching at Halifax Area School District where I grew up.
I view Social Work like anything else, as another extension of my life -- focusing on helping people and giving back to those who've helped me along the way. That's really what I'm all about, making things happen.
Through my experiences, things always have a way of working things out so long as you have a proactive approach and an open mind.
[ J-Rod ] You really have a lot to be proud of Jordan! But what are you most proud of out of everything you have accomplished thus far?
Jordan: To be honest, its not bodybuilding related. For the past eight summers I've worked for The ARC of Dauphin and Lebanon Counties at Camp Sertoma in Linglestown, PA. They service young children and adults with both physical and mental disabilities. It was through this camp, that I've become the person that I am today as a whole.
I've never been able to duplicate the feelings of acceptance anywhere else on Earth as I do there. Campers see what I've done with myself; realize that I don't settle for less and that nothing stops me from achieving my goal. This in turn makes them want to succeed even more in life because they have someone to relate to -- a role model... and the realization of that in my opinion is the best high the world has to offer.
[ J-Rod ] That is very admirable. Can you tell us who is the person you are today?
Jordan: The Jordan today is a very modest and humble person who doesn't take anything for granted. He realizes where he's been in life and where he has yet to go. He is driven with a spirit that cannot be broken and has an insatiable hunger for knowledge and respect from his peers. He values work ethic and tries his hardest to be his brother's keeper.
Jordan uses his short comings to his advantage as he is always reminded to slow down and lives in the moment. He is of sound mind and body, an all around genuine person. I represent a limitation as nothing more than an obstacle to be overcome. But not only my obstacle, as if a person should say, "That guy has cerebral palsy, and still lifts." Rather, I want to present the obstacle as something we all have dealt with - an obstacle in general, only mine being of a specific kind.
[ J-Rod ] As mentioned earlier, you have made tremendous progress. What were your stats before you started working out and what are they now?
Jordan: Height-wise I'm 5'7. I've been seriously lifting for 4 1/2 years now. When I first started, I was somewhere between 125 and 130 pounds. That's what I weighed all throughout High School. At my heaviest I was 175 with 15% bodyfat. Recently with my latest cut, I've gotten down to 165 holding 14%.
[ J-Rod ] What goals do you have set for yourself?
Jordan: In terms of Bodybuilding, my original goal when I first started was to only be 150 pounds... but what a joke! That was well before I fully understood what I could accomplish. 150 took close to two years and by that time BIG-O-REXIA was in full force. There was no stopping. Like they say "You can't stop the unstoppable, break the unbreakable".
So I looked to the future and made a larger goal of 175-180 at 10-12% bodyfat. As time wore on I realized that this would be my holding point where I'd be comfortable maintaining while rationalizing my limits.
Outside of fitness, my main goal has always been to maintain these four traits/ideals:
... All while I motivate, inspire, challenge, and self-empower people -- to overcome.
[ J-Rod ] Can you give us a little insight into the mental aspect/challenges you have faced and exactly how you were able to overcome them?
Jordan: Geez, where do I start? You want me be completely honest and unfiltered? How 'bout fear? Yeah...FEAR! So you really know what I am talking about, I'm going to take you to a very dark place in my mind. Like when I think about getting yet another operation on my foot, which is inevitable.
Part of what scares me the most is that the body which I built might fall apart and there literally would be nothing I could do while I sit on my behind for 2 months. It's like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast... you know, the scene after he fights off the pack of wolves for Belle where he snorts. As if to take one last breathe before he collapses because he doesn't know if that was it or not, yet he's too tired to fight.
I go to that place in my mind and realize I don't wanna lose what I've become. Sure, I guess I'm a little too vain but am I wrong to be proud of what I accomplished? I view my body as a trophy for all that I've overcome. Yet, it's the experience itself that has traumatized me.
I went through 4 surgeries as a kid and it was a living hell. I can't even face the doctor who did the original surgeries. He actually strikes enough fear in me that I can't talk, I cry.
Those memories are forever present, you just don't forget them. They are tattoos of the mind. So just imagine going through something like that again. Only this time you're not guaranteed it will work 100% because there is nothing guaranteed in life. You just go through the motions, and all of this why? Because I am gaining weight and putting too much stress on my foot and big toe.
Now not fat weight mind you, but muscle... yes muscle. The very same thing I desire to have... could also be my undoing. That's why I don't want to put on much more weight than I stated previously.
This is due to having a clubbed foot with a severe bunion. My big toe is lodged up under my index toe. Because I bare a lot of weight on that toe, I continually stress the joint out and my gait suffers a bit.
Sometime in my life I'm pretty sure I'll have to go under the knife yet again or else that toe and joint might break and who knows how I'm gonna be able to walk. I guess my point with all of this is that worrying does nobody good.
If I sat around and thought about this 24/7 I would literally go nuts. I would hate myself so much that I would never accomplish anything and all I would do is use this disability as a crutch. I would forever be a woulda, shoulda, coulda man and that's just not me.
I broke those chains that bound me long ago and buried them with all those who never believed in themselves. Like you've always said Joey, you got to dig deep if you want to make things happen. Well, guess what? I've arrived.
[ J-Rod ] What advice would you give to others?
Jordan: As I just alluded to, persevere and overcome. It's as simple as that, yet people tend to make things complicated. Look, life is like a poker game. You just gotta play the cards you're dealt, ya know? Everyone gets a hand and the point is to win right? Otherwise you wouldn't be playing.
So you get dealt a bad hand. It's your job to make the best of what you have. If not, you might as well fold. But let me tell you something, if that's your attitude don't even bother with me-- seriously.
From my experience those are the same people that are going to drag you down in life, and I don't have time for that crap. That's not to say we all can't have bad days because obviously I have had my share.
In the end though, it's those moments of self talk that I realize negativity doesn't facilitate growth as a person. So take life lightly, live in the moment, and remember life is too short to sweat the small stuff.
[ J-Rod ] WORD! I am feeling you TOAD! What type of workout program has worked best for you? What type of bulking diet do you follow?
Jordan: Because I have some endurance issues; I tend to tire easily. I keep all workouts under an hour and do twelve sets max focusing on one major muscle group at a time. Usually it consists of a 4-day split adding in an extra day for bicep work or if something is
All in all it looks similar to this:
To truly bulk, we know that you have to be in a caloric surplus on a week by week basis. So it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to say that I practically eat everything in sight on the days that I lift.
My only rule is that I try to have the majority of the foods low glycemic and something of nutritional value, but I'm only human and bodybuilding is a lifestyle. In other words, if I'm going to cheat and eat something like ice cream it better be a day that I went to the gym. To keep my metabolism humming along I also try and cut back on the days I don't lift. In bodybuilding terms this means calories just below maintenance.
[ J-Rod ] What supplements have given you the best results?
Jordan: When it comes to supplementation I keep things fairly simple. Whether I'm bulking or cutting I use a good protein blend such as
Syntrax Matrix 5.0, an anti-ox/partitioning agent like
Primaforce Pure ALA and
Insopro-R, high dose
fish oil or Avant Labs Sesathin and Omega Flex for total joint support.
Over the past year I've noticed that the combination of oils and ALA really help me to stay leaner while achieving my bodybuilding goals. That way I don't have to be so strict with my diet. Occasionally, if I have extra money to spare and when I'm cutting I'll up the Omega-3's, add in some creatine and buy a good next-generation fat burner such as MAN SCORCH, or Avant Labs H.E.A.T.
The reasoning behind why I don't use creatine on a bulk is because I'm a typical non-responder, yet for some reason the effects can be felt during periods of low caloric intake.
[ J-Rod ] Do you have any closing thoughts or comments for our readers today?
Jordan: Definitely, first and foremost I want to thank you for doing this interview. I want to thank God for utilizing me as an instrument to self-empower people.
For all my close friends who stuck with me through the years and last but not least my family. They could have given up on me a long time ago and it's their love and patience that has helped mold me into the person I am today.
[ J-Rod ] Thanks for taking the time to let us inside the man that is the ultimate obstacle destructor! If any of you would like to share your thoughts with Jordan, feel free to contact him at Sega56@hotmail.com.