How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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NYC Marathon 2015: The Why

NYC Marathon 2015: The Why

My Why – PKD

The human brain is an advanced computer that controls many different systems.  The body is like a room full of servers each independently managing a different system with one major system, the brain, as the master controller for all of them.

When the master controller has a difficult task to undergo, the systems will cluster together in order to complete the task as efficiently as possible.  If one of the systems begin to fail, it doesn’t mean the task will not be accomplished it just means another system will take over the lack of work.  The work may not be handled as efficiently, but nonetheless, it will be completed.

Only when the master controller issues a command to stop will the other systems desist what they are programmed to do.  The question would be “Why did the Master Controller issue the command?”

This long analogy comes right down to a quote I use all the time.  Internally, and with my client athletes.  “The mind will quit 100 times before the body does.”  Every excuse will come to mind while an athlete may be suffering, but it is the reason “why” they are challenging themselves that will override the mind’s command to stop.

My 15th Marathon was the 2015 New York City Marathon, and my “Why” was tested.

In 2014, at the completion of the New York City Marathon, I said to myself, “Self, I am really happy I did it.  It was a tough race, in tough conditions (sub-40 degree temperature with 33 mph winds), but we did it.  It may not have been the time we wanted, but scratch the largest marathon in the world off the list.  I will probably not do this one again.”

My reasoning was the logistics of the race.

First, it is located in New York City.  That just says a lot of $$$ is going to be spent.

2) Getting around the big apple in a timely manner is difficult for someone not living there.

3) I have a lot of friends that live in the city and I want to see them, which means, more travel, meals and more $$$ spent.

4) The race doesn’t start until 9:50 which at 4 hours means 1:50 which is after the usual 12 pm checkout time.  Again, more $$$.

5) In order to pack the corrals with 50,000 runners, it is required to be in the runner villages close to 3 hours early, and in sub-40 degree weather for someone from Florida is somewhat uncomfortable.

6) After leaving the finish line when the legs are burning and everything is getting stiff, it is another mile to get to checked bags and then another half mile to get out of the park where there are no cabs.  Then another 5 block walk to the subway.

Other than that the race is amazing.

This year, the reasons above meant nothing to me, because I ran this race not for me, but as a member of Team Tampa PKD for Erika Bragan, Jennifer Thomas and all of the other people affected by Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

Team Tampa PKD Scott with PKD Patient Erika

Scott & Erika Bragan

In 2009, Scott offered me a chance to run the Chicago Marathon for the Polycystic Kidney Disease.  At the time we were both in a boot camp class at a Lifestyle Family Fitness.  He mentioned it to a few others as well, so I brought up the idea of a team concept, where we could organize events to raise awareness and funds for PKD and then split up the money so everyone could reach their goal.  it actually worked for the 10 of us that competed that year, as we raised around $26,000 for the PKD Foundation.

Team Tampa PKD 2009

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2009

In 2011, we resurrected the team and signed on twenty-two members and raised over $56,000 for the foundation. Again in 2013 we had just Five members and raised over 25,000 that year as well.

Team Tampa PKD 2011

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2011

Team Tampa PKD 2013

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2013
(-1 not pictured)

This year, we again signed five members.  Scott, Rich, Myself, Kevin, and Karen.  we raised over $25,000 again, but this year we also accomplished something else.  Over the last few years, Erika’s kidney functions were reduced to less than 5% apiece.  A normal human being can survive on 5% of one, but with PKD it is inevitable that the kidneys will fail.

Team Tampa PKD NYC 2015

Team Tampa PKD – NYC Marathon 2015
(-1 not pictured)

Erika had already been put on the donor list for over a year, but it had yet to pan out, so we added not only raising as much financial assistance for the foundation but finding a donor for Erika as well.

For over a year, Erika has been in pain, not sleeping and basically been in a state of misery.  Scott has recounted this for me numerous times, so when he said that it was time to start thinking about a transplant, I immediately asked him for the details to get tested.  I wanted to help any way I could and if it meant giving up a kidney so be it.

The Bragan’s waited to see if being on the donor list would pan out, but as Erika’s kidney functions continued to deteriorate, family and friends stepped up to be tested as donors.

I was tested as a kidney donor, with the preliminary tests proving positive, meaning I was a match.

However, the secondary tests diagnosed protein in my urine which is common in endurance athletes.  Unfortunately, for the medical staff, it is a risk for kidney stones which have a small probability to clog my ureter and if that was the case now, I would have another kidney to fall back on.  If I donated one, it could be fatal.

I was heartbroken when I found out, but I understood the reasons.

On July 10, my friend and Team Tampa PKD teammate, Rich O’Dea was on a blind date at the Imagine Dragons concert.  While getting to know each other Rich made mention of Team Tampa PKD, the marathon and Erika.  At first, it seemed a nonchalant question when she asked how to get tested, so Rich took as her just being nice, but even after she ended up returning to a long relationship, she still communicated with Rich she wanted to get tested.

Team Tampa PKD, Rich with Jennifer Thomas, PKD Donor

Rich O’Dea & Jen Thomas

Her preliminary tests proved she was a match, and the secondary tests proved she was healthy enough to donate, so on Friday, Oct 23, the Tampa General Hospital Transplant committee approved the living donor kidney transplant from Jennifer Thomas to Erika Bragan, and scheduled the surgery for the 18th of November.

When I found out that Jennifer passed the second round of testing, I was absolutely ecstatic that she would be able to do what I and three other people could not.  I am still absolutely overjoyed that Erika will lead a longer more normal life and Scott, Madison and Spencer will continue to have their wonderful wife and mother.

While in an interview with ABC, Jennifer was asked why should give up her kidney for a total stranger.  Without skipping a beat, or even taking a breath she said, “Why wouldn’t I? The more important question should be, why is it so shocking that I would.”

I happened to be in the room when she was getting interviewed and I just about fell over.  Without trying to sound conceded, or take away any thunder from her, but I felt like Jennifer was someone who actually thought just like me.

Jennifer’s medical bills will be taken care of 100% by the Bragan’s insurance, but the recovery time may cause a little bit of financial hardship.

Of course, Team Tampa PKD is stepping up and hosting an event called Tailgate for a Transplant prior to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New York Giants NFL Football game on November 8th at 1 pm.  (If you would like to help, but cannot make it to the tailgate please click here)

This is my “Why”.

What is your ‘why’?

Carpe Vitam!

9-11 : 11 Years Later

September 11th will always remain a significant event in the history of this country.  The day when Osama Bin Laden dared to bring terrorism to the United States and unfortunately succeeded, at least at that point in time.  Where were you on that day?  I bet everyone I ask that question will remember exactly where they were.  Me?  I was getting ready to go on an interview for a job.

I was just coming out of the shower when the phone rang and it was a neighbor and really good friend of mine, Sue.  She told me that a plan had struck the twin towers and to immediately turn on CNN.  I swear I told her it must be a hoax until I actually did turn on the TV.  I was completely wrecked at the site of the replay of the first plane hitting the tower.  As the camera went back live to grab a shot of the destruction,  the other plane struck the towers.  I was completely floored and I felt like my whole body was over stimulated with anxiety.  Then the worst thing happened, I heard another explosion except this time it was not coming from the television.  It came from a distance outside my condo.  Oh, I didn’t mention that at the time I was living just outside of Washington DC and I had recently separated from the United States Army where I was stationed at the Pentagon.

Within three minutes CNN was relaying the story of the Pentagon.  I put some clothes on grabbed my Pentagon badge and left.  When I arrived just outside of the gate, guards were already posted at the parking lots and the entryways were fortified.  A soldier came to my window and told me to turn around, so I flashed my Pentagon badge and told him I wanted to help.  I had people in there and I was a trained EMT and I could at least help triage.  He wouldn’t have it.  I then asked to him to radio the head of security because I knew him and he knew me very well, but he had his orders and he was not going to make any special provisions.  I couldn’t argue with that.  All of the military police, security, and medical personnel were all under a great deal of pressure and being that I knew what that was like, I wasn’t going to argue.  I turned the car around and went home.  It took twice as long for me to arrive at home as it did for me to get there, but after walking in the door and immediately turned on the TV and there I sat, on and off, for two weeks.  I was a sponge for information.  I made frequent calls back to my old unit asking about people I knew.  On that day there were three soldiers who were, subordinates of mine at one time, missing.  Friends in other units also missing and two of my mentors pronounced dead; Sergeant Major Robert Strickland and Lieutenant General Tim Maude.

It was a crushing blow for me.  I had dinner at both of their houses.  General Maude would take me to the Officer’s Dining Room where “a little lunch” was a huge steak and baked potato with all the fixings.  SGM Strickland filled in instructing a couple of classes at Ft Jackson when I was in training and then continued my mentorship when I ended up at the Pentagon after Korea.  The only thing I could think of was that if I felt this bad, it had to be 100 times worse for any of the victim’s families.

My best friend Sean was living outside of Times Square at the time, and his auditions and work took him all over the city.  I immediately picked up the phone and gave him a call, but the circuits were overloaded.  I wouldn’t talk to him for three days.  The mood around DC and Virginia was somber throughout the coming weeks.  It was heavy with dread and confusion, but something positive happened.  I noticed that there was very little hostility toward one another.

Everywhere I went I could see citizens going out of their way for one another.  For example, an incident that happened to me; the roads were slick after a little rain and I ended up in a 4 car fender bender.  Maybe not a fender bender, but a hard love tap.  The front car hit the brakes, the car in back of her hit their brakes, then me, then the guy in back of me.  We all, got out, looked at our cars and we all had some small dents or paint nicks.  My Xterra had part of the bumper had come askew but it looked like it could be fixed pretty easily.  The weirdest thing was, no one was mad.  We looked at each other shrugged asked if anyone was hurt and basically agreed there was just too much crap going on at that time to worry about such a minor incident.  We didn’t call the cops, we didn’t exchange insurance info, we didn’t even exchange names.  We shook each other’s hands and went on our way.  I saw this happening everywhere I went.  Their were customers actually moving their carts to the corral at grocery stores or even helping the employee stack them.  I saw two, three, sometimes four cars stopping on the side of the road when a motorist was changing a tire asking if they could help.  The whole country was supporting each other.  It seemed to last for months before it started to slowly return to the normal disdain.

It was just an amazing sight.  I guess the question is why can’t we always feel that way toward each other?  Why does the country have to go through an incident of massive destruction for citizens to realize we need each other?

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people that read my blog, but those of you who do, I challenge you to take an hour every day and think about other people before yourself.  As you are in your car, and you see another car that is really trying to merge into traffic but no one is allowing them to enter the line, stop and let that person in.  If you notice someone having issues loading groceries into their trunk, offer to help.  It is just these little acts of kindness that can change the world as we know it.  Lets prove that we do not need a major incident to bring our country together again.