Fighting Back Against Cancer with Fitness: Koko FitClub Member Spotlight

We are getting closer to May 4th and the kickoff to the Koko 5 Million Point Challenge to benefit Relay For Life®.  If you have ever “Relayed” you know that the whole inspiring experience is about honoring and celebrating those who have fought, and continue to fight  cancer.

So, this blog post is one great big celebration of a Florida KokoNut named Terry Best who, in the face of a tough cancer diagnosis, is empowered to fight back with Koko FitClub Coral Springs as his battleground.

Research has shown that for people fighting cancer, exercise can mean a longer life free from cancer.

Besides enhancing overall health, mood and outlook, evidence suggests that exercise actually improves your immune system’s “cancer surveillance,” protecting you against future cancer recurrence. Terry’s story is bound to get you moving, and inspire you to sign up for The Koko 5 Milllion Point Challenge on May 4th benefiting Relay For Life®. (Which just happens to be the day after Terry’s birthday…) Read on!

A Fighter’s Story by Special Guest Blogger, Terry Best

May 3rd, the day before the Koko 5 Million Point Challenge, will be my 65th birthday.  My wife and I have signed up for 12 and 10 cardio sessions, respectively, for this Relay For Life® event.  Before I retired, I always encouraged my employees to participate in the various Relay For Life® activities that were being held in the area.  I never thought it would mean as much to me as it does now.  I never thought I’d be the one fighting cancer.

Sixteen weeks ago I went to my primary doctor to see why I was so tired all of the time.  I joked with my wife that I probably needed my oil changed maybe had to have some of my fluids topped off.  After all, I am someone who takes good care of himself. (I’m 64 years old; 5’9”; 165 lbs; athletic; never smoked or experimented with drugs; having a drink means a glass of wine; and did I mention handsome? OK, OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away.)  How could there be anything really wrong with me?  My blood tests were always fine, including my cholesterol that, for years, has been “in range” due to the pill that I take each night.  No cancer (EVER) on either side of my family, so that wasn’t even a consideration.  However, I was tired most of the time – unusually tired.  Well, that was sixteen weeks ago.

One look at my doctor’s face after he performed the always popular DRE exam to check my prostate said it all. I was in a state of shock.  There was no cancer in my family and absolutely no (none, nada, zilch) symptoms. During the next few weeks, it seems that all I did was schedule tests, spend endless hours in waiting rooms, take tests, wait for test results, schedule appointments to discuss test results with the appropriate doctors and then, start all over again. Life certainly had changed.

So, after ultrasounds,MRIs, PET Scans, bone scans and, my favorite, a prostate gland biopsy, the verdict was in:  I have a very aggressive case of prostate cancer.  It has spread from my prostate and is also now in my bones. That is labeled as “Stage 4” cancer. Lucky me – my cancer had no patience for Stage 2 or Stage 3 – it decided that Stage 4 is a much better place to be.  After all, with Stage 4 prostate cancer, it’s too late to operate. So, those smart, insidious cancer cells knew that they would be safe from the surgeon’s knife.

The protocol for my situation is hormone therapy, which deprives the cancer cells of testosterone. Without that fuel source, they die.  Unfortunately, at some time in the future, they will figure another way to thrive and we’ll have to go to Plan B.  Fortunately, with prostate cancer, (words that I never thought I’d use together) there are many other arrows in the quiver to use against it. The key for me, and all other prostate cancer patients, is to stay ahead of the curve and be in the right place at the right time when these new medications are available.

So, what does all of this have to do with Koko FitClub?  As it turns out, more than you’d expect.  When my oncologist told me that the depletion of testosterone will deprive the cancer cells of fuel, he also told me that it will cause me to lose muscle tone, gain weight and make me lethargic.  None of these side effects appealed to me, so I decided to do something about it.  While I’ve always been in decent shape, I’ve never liked the gym scene.  My wife and I used to belong to a health club, but I would head directly to the treadmills and spend all my time sweating and staring at a TV that was tuned to some channel that I would have never, ever chosen myself. (The treadmill must have worked at least a little, as I can proudly say that I was able to complete the Disney Marathon a few years ago.) I had no idea how to use any of the strength equipment and, even if I did, I had no idea what the correct weights, repetitions, sequences, etc. made sense for me.  But, as unappealing as going back into this situation was, when you find out that you have cancer, you tend to put things in perspective. I was going to work out.

As many of us do, I went to the internet to find a solution.  The amount of gyms and health clubs in my area is overwhelming, but they are all basically the same.  Pay your dues and figure out the rest.  They had pools and saunas and juice bars and basketball courts and racquet ball courts and spinning and twirling and preening and flirting and . . . well, you get the idea.  What they didn’t have was something for me.  They didn’t have something for a guy who didn’t need to lose weight, didn’t want to have bulging muscles and didn’t have a clue how to use the machines.  I needed a place that would provide both the roadmap to achieve my goals as well as the equipment/atmosphere that would make me feel comfortable doing so.  Then, I found Koko FitClub.

I met with the owner, Rob, and explained my situation to him.  Having cancer was still new to me and he was one of very few people who I had told about it.  I guess I wasn’t expecting his heartfelt compassion and, more importantly, his sincere desire to help me.  Rob showed me how Koko had various customized programs for a wide range of people with different goals, including (amazingly) mine.  Being able to do my entire strength workout  on one machine with a computer screen actually showing me how to do the exercises and adjust to my range of motion and strength variations was a revelation.  Could it be that there actually was a place that met every one of my needs?  And, to top it off, the owner, his staff and the other members of the club had the same mind set as me?  Sign me up!

So, what’s happened in the last sixteen weeks since that “you have a cancer” conversation in the doctor’s office?  Well, my testosterone level is now 0.00.  My PSA level went from more than 22 (2.5 to 4.0 is the target range) to 0.2.  And, my doctors are now using the word “remission.” As I’ve been told my cancer is “treatable but not curable,” “remission” is a wonderful word to hear.

What about the loss of muscle tone and “turning into a dumpling?” When my doctor asked me if I was experiencing any of the side effects that he warned me about – loss of muscle, lethargy, weight gain, etc. – rather than tell him about it, I handed him results I printed from my Koko webpage.  While I had to explain “Q Score” to him, the numbers and graphs of the other results spoke for themselves.

My first Koko workout was on February 4th.  My lean muscle was measured at 137 lbs. (I weighed approximately 167 lbs.) and my eBMI was approximately 17.  My “Q Score” was 58, which was very good for my age group. My lean muscle has INCREASED (remember, I had hoped to just maintain what I had) to 144 lbs. My eBMI remains in the ideal target range at 18.  My strength has INCREASED by 48 percent.  My Q Score is now 88, which is better than the average of any male age group, including those cool young guys in their 20’s and 30’s.  I’ve walked almost 100 miles and have lifted 500,000 lbs. I’ve accomplished all of this without any testosterone and, remarkably, actually enjoyed myself.

My doctor’s reaction was priceless.  Sixteen weeks ago, in this same room, he told me that I had aggressive prostate cancer and, obviously, it was a very serious conversation.  Now, he used the word “remission” and he was smiling from ear to ear (me too!) Having the ability to print out my progress and hand it to my doctor(s) is something that I never thought about when I joined Koko FitClub.  It has turned out to be a terrific way to show them how I’m fighting back.

Fighting back. My treatment – receiving monthly shots in my hip and stomach and taking some pills each day – is relatively passive on my part. It’s up to my body chemistry to react to them.  However, by working out, I feel that I am actually attacking the cancer cells.  Each step, each completed rep, each scoreboard result on the Koko Smartrainer screen is evidence that I’m fighting back.  Koko uses the phrase “Stay Strong.”  That was the perfect reason for me to join.  I would have settled for “Stay Strong.” However, to my surprise, “Get Stronger” is much more applicable to what I’ve been able to achieve.

Terry Best
Certified KokoNut

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Office

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.

The Key to Performing Your Best in Sports

Single Rower In Sunrise

As you age, it becomes increasingly more difficult to execute certain motions, such as touching your toes, lifting objects, or raising your arms above your head. Mobility is a vital factor of your workout that most people leave out of their routines.

Even with Maureen’s history of athleticism, she discovered how Koko was the perfect system for maintaining and improving mobility. It helped her stay in shape for rowing, even after undergoing a few surgeries.

During my teens and early twenties I was not involved in organized athletics or committed to fitness. When I went to grad school many of my friends were engaged in fitness activities so I joined in with them.

Since that point I became more consistently invested in an active lifestyle, especially after starting to row in my early 30’s. I enjoyed the sport so much that for a number of years I was training and competing as a Master’s athlete.

The past ten years have been a little more difficult to maintain that level of commitment, as competing priorities and major health issues became [a concern].

A couple of years ago I realized that it was time to refocus on my health and Koko has been important to me returning to a stronger and healthier me. Yes, there have been some injuries/surgeries/travel that have caused some lapses in my consistency with Koko, but I always return.

The system is very user-friendly and I love the feedback. It is such an efficient program that it makes it easier to fit it into a busy lifestyle. Thank you Koko!

Maureen
Certified KokoNut

Staying active is a great way to keep weight down, maintain strength and increasing cardiovascular health.

Sports are the prime example of why training for mobility the way to stay limber, prepare your body for anything, which helps keep injuries at bay and allows you to play your best.

Stay Koko Strong!

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub


About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.

A Trick to Kicking Those Carbs at The Summer Cookouts

7.8 quinoa salad

Ah yes, the dreaded pasta salad. By far one of the best and easily-shoveled-into-your-mouth foods of July cookouts.

The downside of this dish is that it is loaded with trans fats and heavy carbs due to the large amount of mayonnaise and primarily pasta base. Too much of the pasta salad this summer can really knock you off course on your fitness journey.

Let’s replace that carb-heavy pasta with a grain superfood.

Quinoa has been around for thousands of years, is a tiny, high-protein grain from South America. According to Mary Sue Milliken from Food Network, it’s nicknamed the “wonder grain” because it cooks more quickly than rice, is virtually foolproof, and is lighter and more nutritious than other grains.

Here’s a zesty Summer Quinoa Salad recipe  that will go great with your burgers, but will stop your from packing on the pounds.

Ingredients
12 cups water
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
5 pickling cucumbers, peeled, ends trimmed, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and diced
1 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped
2 bunches mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 head endive, trimmed and separated into individual spears
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced, for garnish

Instructions
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the quinoa, stir once, and return to a boil. Cook uncovered, over medium heat for 12 minutes. Strain and rinse well with cold water, shaking the sieve well to remove all moisture.

When dry, transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Add the cucumbers, onion, tomato, parsley, mint, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and toss well. Spoon onto endive spears, top with avocado, and serve.

This will be a fan-favorite at your next cookout. You can also make a ton of it and save it for lunch or for snacks throughout the day, whether at work or having it in the cooler on the beach.

Kyle DeMarco
Managing Editor, The Stronger Blog

———————————————————-

Want to live the fitness lifestyle? Start with 30 days of individualized coaching and nutritional guidance that gets results. Try 30 days of Koko, just $30. Click the blue button below to get started…

GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

3 Ways To Stay In Shape This Summer

So, you have officially eaten an entire pigs-worth of hot dogs and a full farm of burgers. Gotta love Fourth of July!

Now, you’re struck with the predicament of working all of that back off so you can continue to look amazing in your bathing suit when you’re off to the beach.

Getting your regular gym sessions in with Koko is always a given recommendation, but there are ways you can expedite that extra weight loss and make your summer better at the same time!

Here are 3 easy ways to stay fit and healthy this summer (post cookouts).

HIKING AND EXPLORING
A Kokonut fan-favorite is hiking and random outdoorsy excursions. What’s better than getting bunch of friends or family members together, picking out a new hiking spot on a map, and conquering it together!

cook-whitney-koko-1_SMNot only is hiking a great way to explore and get in touch with nature, flat land hiking burns as much as 400-500 calories per hour. Uphill you can burn over 600 per hour. Of course this depends on your average weight as well, but natural terrain is the best way to really get your heart and muscles working. An hour of rock climbing can make you burn over 1000 calories.

These easy outdoor activities are also some of the best ways to work your quads, hamstrings, and calves. Uphill hiking and climbing are also amazing chest, forearm, and shoulder exercises.

Treadmills and ellipticals? Forget it. Go climb some mountains.

FARMER’S MARKETS
‘Tis the season to take advantage of the fresh growing season and exploring your local town’s farmer’s market or locally grown produce stores.

You can stack your breakfasts with fresh fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries all of which are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. And you can hoard good carbs for before the gym by getting fresh apples, peaches, banana, and plums.7.21 summer coahcing nutrition

The best part about farmer’s markets (besides how fresh the produce is) is that they are – for the most part – void of toxic chemicals found in pesticides, insecticides, and artificial fertilizers.

You may even find some freshly butchered meat at some as well, for all you carnivores out there.

PICK-UP SPORTS

When was the last time you played a sport? Kicked around a soccer ball with the kids? Or shot some baskets with a buddy?

The only way to keep yourself healthy, fit, and happy, is to stay active. Don’t fall victim to leftovers and Harry Potter marathons on TV. Get up, get out, and play.

Pick-up games with a bunch of others are a good way to incite mass fitness sessions! Soccer itself can help men burn around 800+ calories (700+ for women), and that is only an hour of playing.

A solid competitive basketball game is actually a great way to work your body in all different ways while burning calories… Up to 900 calories to be exact. The varying movements needed to play a good game of basketball keeps your muscles guessing and allows them to develop in more ways than one.

As long as you are out and enjoying the sun and doing something, that is living a healthy lifestyle. Everyone has a favorite activity, find a crew and do it together for that extra motivation.

Stay Koko Strong.

Kyle DeMarco
Managing Editor, The Stronger Blog

———————————————————-

Want to live the fitness lifestyle? Start with 30 days of individualized coaching and nutritional guidance that gets results. Try 30 days of Koko, just $30. Click the blue button below to get started…

GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

We Are Going to Make Dinner Great Again

MAKEDINNERHEALTHYBLOG.png

Ah finally, you’re commuting back after a long day of work and you just can’t wait to kick those work pants off and be home.

But wait, you don’t know what you’re having for dinner! Queue the mad rush to figure out what you have in the pantry and what you can make in the least amount of time possible.

Quick and healthy don’t always coincide with each other. It’s typically one or the other. And to quote Shakespeare, “Therein lies the rub.”

So what do we do about this?

Cut out those preservative-rich ready-meals, get rid of the carb-loaded pasta dishes, and move over fatty fried take out. There’s a new meal in town.

Here is a wonderful (and easy) stir fry recipe that will satisfy your craving for salty soy sauce, but in a way that won’t pack on the pounds.

Simple and Healthy Chicken Stir-Fry

Ingredients
Sauce
Water
Soy Sauce
Red Wine (we recommend Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 tbspn white flour

Stir Fry
4 Whole peeled carrots
3 Broccoli crowns
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
½ lbs chicken breast
Salt
Pepper

‘Noodles’
1 bundle of bok choy
soy sauce

Instructions
Prep your chicken breast and clean it. Slice into thin strips and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Chop up your broccoli, carrots, onions, and garlic gloves. Heat 2 tbsp’s of olive oil in a large skillet and put in the carrots. Cook the carrots on high for 5 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables. Season with salt, pepper, and spices of your choice.  Turn the heat up high and stir occasionally for 5-10minutes. Add your sliced chicken. Cook until slightly brown.

Combine ¼ cup of water, ¼ cup of red wine, and 3 tbsp’s of soy sauce. Pour into skillet and reduce on medium heat. You may add more soy sauce or less depending on preference. Add 2 tbsp’s of flour as a thickening agent. Cook until everything has married and alcohol has reduced.

Take your bok choy and slice it thin and long (to create bok choy ‘noodles’). Place these in a boiling pot with a ½ cup of water and splash of soy sauce. Bring to a boil until bok choy is tender but not soggy. Drain and place on a dish. Spoon stir fry mixture over the bok choy. Enjoy!

The best part about this is that the bigger skillet, the more you can make and save for later. Kill 3 dinners with one stove!

 

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub


Interested in Koko?
Try 30 days of complete fitness and coaching for just $30.


GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.