Certified Athletic Trainer | Educator | Motivator
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Jerry & Estella Hayes_BL

Team Diana Nyad – Goal Achieved

Diana Nyad’s recent achievement  is stunning in so many ways, but now that she has accomplished her latest GOAL, what’s next for the 64-year old aquatic wonder? The lessons learned by her feat are too numerous to cover in writing, but here is a start to this dialogue.

Nyad, accompanied by a support team of 35, departed Havana Cuba on a recent Saturday morning en route to Key West, Florida. She wouldn’t catch a flight or a boat, rather she would attempt for the fifth time to cross the 103 mile track by swimming the entire distance cage free and without fins! When we’re talking the ocean swim, that’s a big enough feat onto itself. Warding off jellyfish , sharks, the elements of weather, and the potential hyper/hypothermia: that’s simply another beast.

A long distance swimmer with years of experience and determination beyond belief, Nyad and her team would attempt the crossing after four previous failed attempts. Illness, weather, and jellyfish stings would hamper previous crossings.

The author of three motivational books and world renowned speaker continued to test her limits, reaching outside the box for the answers that would fulfill her determination.

We can talk about her age, the difficulties she had to endure, her discipline, her focus, her GOAL, and her TEAM.

Jerry & Estella Hayes - Biggest Loser Season 7Age is no barrier!  I call attention to seniors Jerry and Estella Hayes, recent contestants on the reality show NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Not only were they both lost in years of protective wall building and hiding, the Hayes realized their extended family would not have the chance to see their parents and grandparents much longer if indeed they both did not change their physical and mental well being. Jerry and Estelle made the commitment and learned how to prepare and eat smart foods, and exercise to the fullest of  their potentials. Each challenged themselves daily to change and better themselves. Each had their struggles but eloquently followed the course outlined for them by the BL TEAM.

The Hayes recaptured their health and well-being and now continue to spread the message of their successes with encouragement for others to achieve what once was only a dream.

Her lips blue and swollen as she swam through the night, Nyad was unable to hold down foods at called feeding times. Profuse vomiting and dehydration would ensue. To keep her core body temperature warm, the TEAM decided to have Nyad swim through the night until daybreak, extending her feeding time a bit so to maintain a solid core temperature. This way she could maximize her “running engine” vs. trying to stop and start like the breezy, thunderous night air. Kudos to her medical team for their efforts and guarded care!

A team of divers would advance the way to clear pockets of jellyfish and ward off any potential shark sightings. Remember she is not in a cage as in others’ previous crossings.

Basically her team and divers were saying: “Follow the path we set out for you and you’ll get to your destination!” How often have we had this done for us in our own endeavors and not accomplished the task? WHY?

Traveling at an average of 2.2 miles an hour, the trip would land Nyad and her team on the shores of Key West mid day, ironically 53 or so hours later, Nyad would accomplish her GOAL. There, so many sat and watched, content lying on the sand and cheering. Here comes Nyad and her dolphin esque skills, swimming to shore! No, not your average spin class, crossfit WOD, or treadmill workout. This lady was swimming from damn Cuba to Florida!

There was no quit, even from a cautious medical TEAM of doctors noticing slurred speech, nausea, swollen tongue, and vomiting from the sea water. Her core temperatures must have been crazy, and by all accounts she really may have been too sick to continue. No, not this time. The jellyfish would not get the best of her as she wore a specially made face mask to ward off such stingers. This too would cause another obstacle as the mask would cause severe bruising inside her mouth from the repetitive facial movements while turning her head to the side and breathing. Still, seawater would be swallowed.  WOW, how did Diana stay focused on her GOAL, how did she navigate, and stay desired?

There are no better examples of what the word TEAM means after watching this accomplishment. And to Nyad’s credit , she trusted her TEAM to help her achieve. Changes were made based on previous failures. Nyad afterword would praise the facial mask she wore as the tipping point to her successes. A silicone mask was indeed the savior of her two plus day escapade through dangerous channels. Doctors, drivers, divers, navigators, nutritionists, coaches and the like worked tirelessly to put Nyad in a position to succeed.  Nyad’s individual accomplishment would only be attainable if indeed all the Team’s components played in unison!

The takeaway messages from Nyad’s triumph will continue to develop over the days, weeks, and months ahead. Her powerful message and inspiration directed to so many, almost begging us all to take note. “Find the obstacles that may present and be prepared for anything to the best of your ability!” This foresight prevented  the unexpected to take place.

Here are some of the messages I took from watching this incredible accomplishment:

AGE- Never a factor!

DESIRE- Never in question!

DISCIPLINE- Never questioned!

TEAM- The overwhelming winner here!


What’s next for Nyad? I would only hope she continues to spread the all important messages she so beautifully exhibited. This, my friends, is a powerful message that was delivered to our laps so eloquently. Now, the better question is how can we incorporate her powerful display into our own protocols and ventures? Will we listen to the trumpet she played for us? Do I have a support TEAM in place and am I following the lead they are displaying?


Don’t let this superb accomplishment go unnoticed. Take the will and desire from Diana Nyad and play your own trumpet.



Weigh In at Doctor
Medical App

Hope all finds you well! I was thinking about the upcoming season and what it takes to actually make it on to the Biggest Loser reality television show. For all the contestant hopefuls, the single wish I have for each of these folks is that they  have an established rapport with a physician in each of their respective home towns and cities. How many of you have not been to the doctor in ages? The questions I pose to you for today’s writing is, “ Do you have a physician and when is the last time you paid him or her a visit?”

I know for most of us, Health Care costs are through the ceiling. Health Insurance premiums are skyrocketing when overall preventative measures are declining. The affordability of reaching out to a doctor for preventative care is mind boggling alone.

Professionally , I have always urged my athletes and private clients to establish a relationship with their own personal physician. I want them taking a proactive approach to their medical care and not a reactive one.

How often should I see my physician? There really is not an exact answer to this but there are varied opinions, and two respected physicians from The Mayo Clinic came up with the following for Healthy individuals: internal physician and geriatrician Kevin Fleming, M.D. and gynecologist Petra Casey, M.D., made it easy for you. Here are their recommendations for how often to have the screenings you need most. Annually you should have the following evaluated:

weight, blood pressure, a dental exam, a skin exam, STD/STI testing, and a Mammogram (for women 40+). A fasting blood panel should be standard to identify cholesterol and other markers as well as a glucose tolerance test to determine blood sugar values.  Similarly for women , a PAP SMEAR is indicated every three years (every five years if HPV contesting is used). For men over 40 , annual prostate exams are indicated.

Besides the normal screens your doctor will perform, the evaluation time can also be spent dealing with counseling matters, family planning, STD prevention, quitting alcohol or tobacco use, and Nutrition and Weight loss. The simple evaluation can be the force that drives you to bettering your health.

For those of you looking to start or restart an exercise routine, the MD eval is a must. This is the way you are going to learn about your current cardiovascular fitness, your blood pressure, your blood lab values, and your past or current medication use. It is a time to discuss your goals and have your medical support TEAM in place. When it comes to the doctor patient relationship, I stress honesty and openness. I stress the direct route versus beating around the subject and stress a level of comfort in your ability to understand your personal findings.

The wellness package you are trying to achieve starts with the building of this ever important support system. Do you have the right physician for you? Robert Wergin, MD, a practicing family physician in Milford, Nebraska, and member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians says, “It’s about establishing a relationship with someone who cares about, and can help you with, your health.” You may not need to see a doctor when you’re healthy, but when you come down with a nasty bug or mysterious ache, you’ll be glad to have someone with a knowledge of your medical history to turn to. Your relationship with your primary care physician, if well established, can provide peace of mind when you’re not feeling your best.

As a new season approaches , these are some of the values I will be sharing with the contestant hopefuls. Although not all of the finalists we evaluate will make it onto the show, I know we can say we have done an exhaustive battery of tests on each of these people and hopefully identified any areas of concern that need to and can be addressed.


References: Sizensky, Vera: “Do You Really Need an Annual Checkup?”. Women’s Health, Oct. 2012