I have said it before and I will say it again. You all make my job a breeze! I am continually inspired to program, train, write, and come into work. I love being around all of you-young and old, tall and short, man and woman, athlete and couch sitter, post partum and recent retiree! Somehow we find our way to each other and we end up having a blast. My friend Paul, though quiet and reserved at first, is someone that I have come to look up to as a leader, and intense motivator. As our time training in group fitness classes has gone on, he has stepped in with great energy and enthusiasm. When Paul is not there due to illness, family, or business travel, something is missing. Hear a little more about his story and you will grasp onto that something I am talking about…
You appear to be such an athletic, fit, and healthy individual. When I see you perform in and outside of the gym I see someone who embodies all the elements we talk about with Habitude Fitness. Tell me a little about your healthy habits and why you choose them.
I do a variety of things, including endurance/aerobics, strength training, martial arts & manual labor. I find that variety allows me to cover the various aspects of fitness; diet (we will talk about that later), strength, endurance, and flexibility. It also helps with boredom. In terms of my current fitness goals, I am more focused on changing my stride and improving my 5k times now.
On the endurance/aerobics side of things, I run, bike, and participate in Cassie’s classes. I also would include normal activities like walking the dog (the four-legged treadmill), working the yard/garden, etc. When I was younger I ran a couple of marathons. When you are training for marathons that’s just about all you are doing. By doing different things, you allow your body to be ready for anything. It’s not very often that you need to run 26 miles, but being able to walk or jog a few miles can come in handy if your car breaks down (when I started diving there were no cell phones). Also having a basic aerobic base is good for your heart.
For strength training, I rotate between body weight exercises, weight vest training, free weights, kettlebells, and Olympic lifts. I got into weight training back in the late 80s hoping to put on some weight, but I don’t have the genetics for it. I focus more now on maintaining and improving my strength and generating power. I like bodyweight exercises for three reasons; they can be done anywhere, you can focus on strength or endurance, and they are very scalable. I use free weights to assess my strength, either you can move or not. I have recently gotten into kettlebells and Olympic lifts for developing power.
I have studied the martial arts for several years. I have focused mostly on the Chinese internal martial arts. These included Tai Chi, Ba Qua, and Hsing Yi. The internal arts focus integrating the body as a single unit. It does this by starting by moving slowly then increasing the speed. Lowing down allows one to focus on body mechanics. It also works on your balance, which gets more important as we age. I also spent a year studying Krav Maga when I was an expat in Amsterdam. Krav Maga is a quick way to learn to defend oneself but is not for the faint of heart.
I believe everyone has a story, and we all have something. It may be a past, a present, or a future. But that something is what makes us who we are. Many people crumble when faced with their something’s and others persevere. Paul, you have a chronic condition, and I can see in training when it is bothering you. Could you tell us a little about it and how you deal with it on a daily basis? Also, could you let us know how you have chosen to deal with this and chose to make healthy choices both mentally and physically in dealing with it?
I am what they call a frequent kidney stone former and I normally have high cholesterol (See plant-based diet). For my kidney stones, I drink a lot of fluids and I am currently working on a new strategy for dealing with them. Since I started having them, I have been careful with what I eat to reduce my risk of forming them. As I indicated, I am still working on them. I have learned to adapt to having them. When I first started having them, the treatment was to give you an IV with morphine, later the practice was to blast them with sound waves, now I have had them removed. I am hopeful that we are moving in the right direction, they are a part of my experience that I would not mind leaving behind.
How has having your diagnosis made you stronger?
Since I have had so many (>130), I have conditioned myself to not mind some discomfort and even pain. I have also taken to heart that even though it may be painful if it does not kill you, it can make you stronger. I pass stones now that would have put me in the emergency room earlier. That also goes for working out; I would rather workout hard and even be sore for a day or two than coast through the workout. By getting outside our comfort zone we allow our bodies to improve so that next time it is easier.
What has been the hardest part of having a chronic condition and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Or, what are the biggest obstacles?
Sometimes my range of motion is affected. It also limits how hard I can push myself. You also have followed up on whatever conditions you may have to make sure you are taking care of things.
Tell us why your family chooses to eat a plant-based diet?
Carol has a background as a dietitian, so eating healthy is important to us. I went vegetarian in the summer of 1991 when I was living in Houston. With the heat and humidity, I found that I had more energy. I have kept with it for health and animal welfare reasons. My father’s side of the family has issues with high cholesterol. I figure being vegetarian keep me off statins for about 4 years. A few years ago I decided to go vegan mainly from a concern for other living creatures. So as a family, we have been moving in that direction.
You have a large summer vegetable garden. How long have you been doing this? Why did you choose to do this?
I started growing vegetables in 1994 in Utah, where we had a garden alongside the driveway. I have had a garden ever since, except when we were expats. I enjoy working in the soil and seeing the magic that happens as things grow. I also like to know what goes into my food so I have always practiced organic gardening. It is not a pretty as other forms of gardening and you end up sharing some of the crops with bugs and assorted rodents.
I also find that organic gardening can be a good work out. I turn the soil and pull weeds by hand, so plenty of work for the back, biceps, and hamstrings. Nothing like moving or turning the compost pile to get a good sweat on.
Do you help in the kitchen? Can you share with our community one of your favorite vegetarian recipes?
You can buy wanton wrappers
2 cups Semolina Flour
1 tbsp Canola oil
1/3 – ½ cup water (enough to make the dough just pliable)
Mix the ingredients and kneed for 15-20 minutes let rest for at least 30 minutes
1 lb extra Firm Tofu drained & pressed
1 Carrot sliced fine
1 stalk celery sliced fine
8 oz of Mung Bean Sprouts
tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp Fresh ginger paste
1/3-1/4 cup of lite soy sauce
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze with hands to create a uniform paste. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes
You can use wanton wrappers, but I prefer to roll my own pasta dough (see above)
Run a portion of the wrapper dough through a pasta press and cut into squares
Using a teaspoon place some of the filling in the dough in the square and fold or pinch to seal. (you may need a little water on the edges of the wanton wrappers to get them to seal)
Keep making dumplings
Place dumplings in a steamer that has been coated with cooking spray
Steam the dumplings for 10 minutes
Combine soy sauce, chili paste and/or ginger paste to taste
How has Tai Chi and the other forms of martial arts you have studied and practiced complimented your fitness and wellness goals?
The martial arts start out using your body. In this, it allows you to focus on body alignment and movement. The slow movement of Tai Chi strengthens the ligaments and improves one’s balance. By moving slowly, you can be aware of how shifting your weight affects your balance.
It also teaches to move the body as a unit, thereby maximizing whatever technique is being used. For example, if you punch with only using your arm, there is less power than if you add the twisting of your waist, which has less power than if you add shifting weight through your legs, which has less power than if you add moving your entire body.What advice do you have for others who are facing trials, may it be in health or in other areas of life?
We all have trials, that’s just life. Exercise allows you to deal with the craziness. It also strengthens you for the unexpected.
So well put. I am always encouraged by Paul’s authenticity and drive. We are all on a journey, and indeed all have faced, are facing, or will face obstacles. I thank Paul for sharing a piece of adventure!
Your Trainer and Friend,
Cassie and Paul