This is the story of Jefferson, TX's James Mauldin.  James was born without legs and fingers on his left hand.  If you think this would slow him down, you are very mistaken.  James runs cross country for the Salisbury School and just finished his first triathlon in July.  If you've ever needed or wanted motivation to become active in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, here's one of the best examples of people that there could be.  This excerpt is courtesy of James Mauldin:

DISCOVERING NEW ATHLETIC CAPABILITIES

            Before living at school I had never imagined running, cycling, or swimming much less doing them back to back. However, the exposure to living at a boarding school provided me the opportunity to discover new athletic abilities. Starting in the summer after my freshman year to the summer after my sophomore year I learned how to swim, run, and cycle, in that order and from scratch.

For years I wanted to learn how to swim but I did not know how to start. Finally deciding swimming was a must, I took a course in Longview, Texas, at the Good Shepherd Medical Center’s Institute for Healthy Living. My instructor, Jessica Gee, taught me how to swim within seven days! She admitted she never guided an amputee before. However, showing confidence and persistence I pushed myself and by the end of the course I managed to swim three hundred meters! This was only the first step to my goal.

Feeling successful I pushed on again to learn how to run. At Salisbury School, we are given a choice each trimester to do a sport. In past years I played soccer. During the fall of my freshman year I played but towards the middle of the season I developed knee problems. This has happened in the past and I thought it would be ridiculous to keep hurting myself in a sport that I never truly enjoyed. By sophomore year, I signed up for cross country. Not expecting much from it, I thought I would just come for the ride. That was my first impression on the first day. For the following weeks it felt like boot camp. I had never run more than a mile, which took ten to fifteen minutes before, so running three point one miles was a huge stretch. Luckily, I never gave up. Running the cross country course felt like running a marathon. The struggle at the beginning made a strong foundation in my athletic skill.

Two weeks before the season was over I was fitted for my first pair of running legs. The carbon fiber ‘J’ shaped feet are my ultimate gift. Before I made excuses not to run but now I make excuses to run. Knowing that I am able to run more than a mile was an important milestone for me. One of my struggles as a novice runner was my time compared to all the other runners. It created a negative conscious in my mind to quit. Looking at this optimistically however, I persisted to compete against myself. Had I quit simply because everybody else would pass me would bring a sharp curb to my life. During my second season as a cross country runner, not only did I split my time in half but I discovered that I sincerely loved to run. With tremendous help from my peers, coaches, teachers, and friends at Salisbury school I pressed on; I was so close to my goal.

The summer before my junior year I dedicated my time to learn how to cycle. My coach, Amy Palmiero-Winters, guided me vigorously to just balance on the bike. For days I sat on the bike while we tried finding ways to balance. On the third day Amy suggested a brilliant idea for me to coast down a false flat in her driveway. Taking these small steps, I learned to ride within a week!

Learning to discover and push my athletic ability in the just a year and a half helped me to reach my goals. The best part is that I actually love what I do. Looking back I have done several road races, one full sprint triathlon and two relay triathlons. One of my favorite accomplishments is the triathlon relay I ran in La Jolla near San Diego, California. I ran a half marathon with Amy and Kelly Bruno. The second is the Jefferson Heritage Triathlon in Jefferson, Texas. I did a relay with an awesome and very supportive teammate, Shad Hicks. I did the half mile swim and five- kilometer run while he did the cycling portion. Fortunately I managed to do it despite training only for a week and half! The greatest feeling when I run, bike, or swim, during a race or when I am training, is the incredible support I receive from all my friends, family, and triathletes I meet. Discovering that I love triathlons, I cannot wait to sign up for the next race!

Learning to run, bike, and swim is an exciting feat, but it was still challenging; I am also learning something new all the time! In order to fulfill such great goals, I split them into three parts. Within each smaller goal I faced several challenges. Running may be my strongest suit but I thought of quitting my first week. At most I could jog a couple miles then stop. Before I was fitted for my running legs I used my walking legs which are significantly heavier to run. Swimming was a challenge in its own because I did not have the confidence or the concept of how to float. Balancing on a bicycle was another hurdle to get through. With the support and help from my family and friends, I forced myself not to give up. I am, in some ways, a stubborn person. Positively, my stubborn trait helped me get through the hurdles to my ultimate goals. I am very grateful for all the support and guidance from my colleagues and family. The best way to continue and increase my goals is to train hard, listen to myself, and seek others for advice.

- James Mauldin
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Before starting any exercise, diet or health routine, first consult your physician to make sure that your body is healthy enough for physical activity.
 
One of the biggest helpers when it comes to working out and providing motivation is definitely music!  You get into a groove when you run or lift weights.  It can give you an extra motivation to run faster, lift another set or pedal faster!  On my iPod right now:

Serious workout
1.       Run – Snow Patrol
2.       Re-Education – Rise Against
3.       Fall Into Sleep – Mudvayne
4.       Savior – Rise Against
5.       Coming Undone – Korn
6.       The Feel Good Drag – Anberlin
7.       Storm to Pass – Atreyu
8.       ‘Till I Collapse – Eminem & Nate Dogg
9.       Invincible – Adelitas Way
10.     Given Up – Linken Park
11.     St. Anger – Metallica
12.     Rapture - Hurt
13.     Two Weeks – All That Remains
14.     Actions & Motives – 10 Years
15.     All Nightmare Long – Metallica
16.     Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones
17.     Nitro – The Offspring
18.     Still Waiting – Sum 41
19.     Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons
20.     Don’t Stop Believin’ - Journey

These are all songs that get me pumped up to do an hour or longer run and inside the gym.  I personally get the edited version if there is one.  If you like to listen to easy listening music, listen to easy listening music.  The sky is the limit.  Just find something that provides that extra motivation to push a little harder each time that you hit the gym, trail, track, road or the next step in front of you!

-Colin McElroy

Before starting any exercise, diet or health routine, first consult your physician to make sure that your body is healthy enough for physical activity.

 
Watching, listening and reading about the Women's World Cup got me thinking about the pride Americans have for anything American.  Would the nation be so entranced to the Women's World Cup if Team USA wasn't in the Championship Game?  Probably not.  With that said, pride is a slippery slope.  It is one of the seven deadly sins and considered possibly the worst out of all of them.  It is a negative when you a person uses or has it to better themselves at the expense of others.  That is not what times column entry is about.  This is about taking personal goals and accomplishments and building on them to become healthier and happier with who you are as a person.

I have a friend named Dusty.  He is a former offensive lineman for the Texas Tech Red Raiders.  At his heaviest, Dusty weighed 330 pounds.  He is big, strong and somewhere along the way he gained weight to the point where he felt he needed to do something.  Couple that with being diagnosed with diabetes, he decided to make a change and he made it.  Today, Dusty weighs 235 pounds and continues to see the weight drop.  I saw him for the first time in a long while just a couple of weeks ago and he looks like a completely different person.  Dusty gave his main three things that helped him lose it and keep on seeing the scale tick lower and lower:

1. Diet.  Adhering to a diabetic diet and watching what he eats.
2. Proper exercise program.  Dusty works out with weights, cardio and is always be changing it up to keep his body guessing.
3. Discipline.  It's ok to give into small vices. It's ok to go out and have dessert once a month, but don't eat the whole cake.

Dusty took pride in how he feels and looks on the inside and outside.  He likes the way his body responds to being healthier than it was before.  Dusty and I were workout partners when we both lived in Lubbock.  He is much stronger than I am, but it was never a competition to who could do more or workout harder.  We pushed each other to be the best that we, as an individual could be. 

Take pride in what you can do.  Take pride in being able to take the first step to a healthier lifestyle by parking a little farther away from the grocery store.  Take pride in knowing that if you cut your portion in half and the next week when you step on a scale it is one or two pounds lighter.  Take pride in looking in the mirror and being able to see a change in your body and how it makes you feel on the inside.  When you take pride in who you are, where you have been and where you are going, you can accomplish any goal, overcome any obstacle to leading a healthier and more fulfilling life than before.

Good luck on your first, second or 1,000th step to becoming

-Colin

Before starting any exercise, diet or health routine, first consult your physician to make sure that your body is healthy enough for physical activity.
 
5:30am - Woke up. Very, very early
7:05 - Start of Doug Collier and my ride. In a wave of 300 people. Ride past a dad holding a sign, "Sports Massage at the Finish.". His little son, age 7-9, holds a small sign saying, "We correct cheap massages!" Two thoughts, #1: What is a cheap massage? #2: He's kind of young to be a masseur!
Miles 0-36 - part of a pace line averaging 21.6 mph.
Mile 1 - Notice my bike computer is not working. This is mildly unpleasant and frustrating.
Mile 13 - Big speed bumps. Barely miss screwing up my fork and great unpleasantness in the lower part of my body.
Mile 20 - Two women driving a white F-150 pass our pace line and lay on the horn. DON'T DO THAT! #1: Share the Road. #2 Have some respect.
Mile 36 - First rest stop - Gatorade and water. And "rest." Back on the road with four out of the nine in the pace line.
Mile 38 - Man riding a mountain bike keeping an 18 mph. Impressive.
Mile 42 - First sighting of wildlife "sleeping" on the side of the road. A skunk. SMELLY!
Miles 43-46 - The map given at packet pick-up says "Rough Road 3 miles." Uh-hu. That. Part. Of. The. Ride. Hurt. A. Lot.
Mile ? - Lost the black Camelback water bottle. That was Brittany's. Oops. Colin is going to have some "exsplainin' ta do." This will come back to bite me in the keister on the ride! More on that later. Side note - I have lost many water bottles. I have never lost Ol' Blue, my first Camelback. Every other one since...gone.
Mile 47 - Doug's water bottle tries to make the great escape.
Mile 49 - Think about getting to mile 50.
Rest stop #2 - Doug stops for Gatorade and sodium pill. We "rest." Still thinking about mile 50.
Mile 50 - Thinking about the next 50 miles. Happiness turns to the thought of pizza and a shower.
Mile 50-62 - Feeling great. We decide, "Let's skip rest stop and keep going." I didn't immediately regret this decision.
Mile 62 - Sign saying, next rest stop 17 miles.
Miles 62-69 - Heading North with the wind. 22 mph average.
Mile 70 - Run out of Gatorade AND water. Hence losing the water bottle bites me in the keister.
Mile 71 - Getting thirsty
Mile 72 - Thirsty
Mile 73 - Getting cranky. Turn on the road and Doug asks the flagger, "How far to the next rest stop?" "Just a mile." She. Was. Wrong.
Mile 74 - Turn on the road and I ask, "How far to the next rest stop?" "Just a mile." Heard that one before. She was at least closer.
Mile 75.5 - REST STOP! Drink a full bottle of Gatorade and a water. Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Crankiness starting to leave. Drink another Gatorade and "rest." Happiness comes back.
Mile 75.5 - Get in with a large group. They only go 16-19, but it's a nice change of pace.
Mile 75.5 - It's been mile 75.5 for about 5.5 miles. Forgot to reset watch. Oops.
Rest stop #5 - Get Gatorade and water. Only 13 miles left.
Mile 97 - Turn down the final road and getting close!
Mile 99 - Turn into Jack Rhodes Stadium and... Crash. Made it 99 miles and then my wheel gets caught in a crevasse and "McElroy goes down!" Small scrape, hand hurts and bruised ego. Kind of funny, though. Doug laughed.
Mike 100 - Check that one off the list!
Post race - BBQ sandwich that resembled third grade Sloppy Joe day at Miller Elementary. Go Mavs!

100 miles ridden
5:30:00ish
5741 calories burned
At least a gallon of Gatorade and water consumed
1 not ego boosting crash
2 rocking knee sunburns
Doug had no troubles
A heck of a lot of fun
Now rest for 115 mile ride with Push America's Journey of Hope ride from Shreveport to Monroe on Thursday

 
Just the other night, KSLA News 12 ran a story about Louisiana being the 5th most obese state in the nation.  You can find the story right here: http://www.ksla.com/story/15045343/louisiana-5th-most-obese-state.  If there is ever a time to start a healthy lifestyle, I think now would be a good one.  Here is a story about a very good friend and fellow Shreveport journalist Doug Collier.  He chose to make a lifestyle change and he hasn't looked back since.
-Colin McElroy

Written by Doug Collier:
Time has a way of catching up with everyone and for me my early 40’s was the wake up call. Weighing in at 340 lbs I realized that time was running out. I felt that if I didn’t change my lifestyle 350lbs was next and it would only get worse. Diabetes, high blood, pressure were all on he horizon and I don’t like shots. So I began slowly at first  “learning” how to eat.

I began buying frozen “lean”, “healthy” dinners at the grocery store.  This taught me portion sizes and I lost some weight this way. The process was slow and I knew this was not the answer. I still wasn’t mentally committing to the process. So like an addict I went cold turkey.

This was the breakthrough I needed. I thought to myself, I know how to loose weight. I know what I have to eat. I know I have to work out and exercise. I just have to do it. I didn’t set a goal weight I just set a time. One year.  For one year I would eat right, exercise and commit. 

My first step was joining the Broadmoor YMCA. I began working out 6 days a week. I started walking on the treadmill and lifting. Slowing building. Soon I began running my neighborhood. Running one block and walking to the next for a mile. Before long I was running a mile without stopping. Then two. Then I began running to the YMCA to work out and running home.   

The second step was throwing away just about everything in my kitchen.  I downloaded the app “Lose It” for my Iphone. The app is free and with it I kept track of EVERYTHING I ate. It helped me set a calorie max for the day. This was the most important step of the whole process, knowing how many calories I was consuming and burning. 

Within 9 months of my year goal I was down to 190 lbs. I had begun running in local 5k’s, something I thought I would never do. After about 8 or so 5k’s I wanted to do more and running 5 miles every day for workouts left me a little board. A friend at work suggested I do a triathlon. I picked up a used road bike and I did my first duathlon (run, bike, run) then a couple months later I ran in the first of three Sunrise Triathlon Club races.

I then set my sights on The River City Triathlon. A training accident on my bike a week before the race left me with a broken collarbone and unable to swim so I had to miss the race. I was able to forego surgery long enough to ride in the Hotter N’ Hell 100 mile bike ride in Wichita Falls, Tx. that I was also signed up to do that month.  I was proud of myself for completing that ride. I now understand the thinking of athletes that play injured.

During the down time of my surgery I put on 20 lbs in about 2 months. I see how easy it is to reach a goal only to yo-yo and put the weight back on. If it weren’t for that lifestyle change I probably would have put a lot more weight back on. I plan to take that 20 lbs back off but not in the extreme way I did originally.

I’ve continued competing in triathlon’s even doing my first half Iron Man in New Orleans earlier this year. I exercise almost daily running, biking or swimming. I plan to ride in the Katy Flatland 100 mile bike ride next week. Baring any injury I’ll race in the River City triathlon in August followed by my second tour of the Hotter N’ Hell 100. 

BEFORE:

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Doug, April 2009

CURRENT:

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Doug, May 2011

Before starting any exercise, diet or health routine, first consult your physician to make sure that your body is healthy enough for physical activity.
 
With the spirit of the Tour de France starting back up, it's time to get on the bike!  Whether that means a road bike, a triathlon bike, a touring bike or a 20 year-old mountain bike that you just dusted off in the shed/garage/closet.  Get on it and ride!!!  One of the greatest things about biking is the fact that you can get a good exercise without the large stress on your legs from many other sports like running.  If you do not have a bike, here is a list of a few places in Shreveport-Bossier that sell, service or allow free looks/drools/dreams when it comes to bikes.

Scooter's Bike Shop
River City Cycling
The Bike Pedaler
Bikes Etc
Dick's Sporting Goods
Academy Sports & Outdoors
Your best friend

If you are new to the riding or you have not been on a bike in a few years, "it's just like riding a bike!"  Besides for a bike, the most important thing when biking, WEAR A HELMET.  Your head is one of the most important parts of your body, don't have Mr. Noggin meet Mr. Road.  Next, always bring water when you ride.  Especially if you are riding in the middle of the day or towards the evening hours.  Always hydrate when you are doing physical activity.

If you are in the mindset to try and become a Thor Hushovd, current World Champion and holder of the yellow jersey following stage four of the Tour de France, here are a couple of the organizations in Ark-La-Tex that can help:

http://www.teamlasport.org/
http://www.sunrisetriclub.org/
http://www.texarkanacycling.com/

Good luck on your bicycle adventure if this is the fitness route that you choose to go.  The Tour de France is currently airing in the morning from 7-10 on the Versus Network.  Most of all, have fun and keep those pedals turning!