The resolution: Making health a habit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Brent Parks and Norma Honeycutt have now pushed themselves through five weeks of sweat, a little pain, and more fun than they might readily admit. This morning, they were slinging some pretty good one-liners while pushing hard for 45 minutes of fairly intense stationary cycling. Here is just an example from each: Norma mentioned that she might someday want to retire to Florida and get away from the cold weather. Brent fired back, “Well then you better keep working on that beach body!” To which Norma readily responded, “My whole life already revolves around exercise!”

We visited Fowler Physical Therapy on Tuesday. Brent has had some heel pain and some discomfort in his ankles. Norma has a neck issue that sometimes doesn’t allow her to fully extend her left arm upwards, plus she is concerned about her balance.

Delaine Fowler has her doctorate in physical therapy and is an Ironman triathlete twice. The Ironman competitions include 2.4 miles of open water swimming, 112 miles on a bike, and marathon run of 26.2 miles, all back to back to back. Now that Brent and Norma are on their own fitness journey, Delaine offered to help with their issues.

By using a treatment called “total motion release,” Delaine hoped to free up their tight and sore areas. She said, “What we are trying to do is find the fiber restrictions and free them by balancing the system. The parts of our bodies are all connected.”  Delaine had them exercise the good side to help alleviate the restriction on the bad side.

Norma’s tight neck quickly improved so that her range of motion was almost the same with both arms. Brent’s heel and ankle issue showed some improvement but not quite as much as Norma’s neck.  Delaine advised him to get some compression socks and wear them all day. She also wanted him to wear a night splint to improve the heel issue. With regular use of ice and elevation of the feet, Delaine felt good about Brent’s outlook.

Norma often uses a bike desk in her office, meaning that she pedals while doing some of her paperwork and reading. Brent has a stand-up desk behind his regular sit-down one. Delaine advised him to use it, saying, “Human beings are meant to be upright.”

Patients do not need a referral from a doctor to be seen at a physical therapy clinic. Fowler PT specializes in helping people recover from everyday sports and work-related injuries. With over a decade of experience in reducing work-related stresses, the staff focuses on ergonomics, injury prevention and wellness awareness. Delaine said, “Our staff has a passion for helping people of all ages reduce pain, improve function and return to the activities they love.”

Another highlight of the week was a partial weight-bearing cardio workout that I had Brent and Norma do. Many of their workouts so far have been while seated on machines. With both of them wanting to move more and better, it was time to get the show on the road. They rode five minutes at a time on a stationary upright bike, then ran/walked for five minutes on the upstairs track. At the end of each segment, they quickly jumped into the next one. This went on for over 40 minutes. Both Brent and Norma have made significant strides already in their ability to keep their heart rates up for a longer period of time. The last laps on the track were their fastest, which was great to see.

One more significant issue was addressed mid-week. Norma is an expert on using, an app and website that records the calories eaten and calories burned off. Of course, the net result is supposed to be the number of daily calories that keeps them going but still continues their weight loss regimen. Brent had slipped and stopped recording his. We talked about this at the end of a workout, and Norma spent some time showing Brent how they could friend each other to see the daily totals that both ate and exercised off. Brent is back on the plan and rolling again. Brent’s wife, Wanda, is keeping a good eye on things at home, as well.

Every other week, I have asked them to report their total weight loss so far. Today was the day. Brent is down 13.5 pounds and Norma is down nine. We passed the Super Bowl with little more than a hiccup. Five weeks complete and we are on track. Once again, our goal for the first 12 weeks is a minimum weight loss of 20 pounds on the way to at least 50 for the year.

Jennifer and Ester at the Hurley YMCA have set up a Facebook page to follow the “Wellness Journey of Brent and Norma.” You guessed it. Norma is the expert and she is doing her best to get Brent and me more involved. Good luck on that.

We have a good week coming up. On Monday evening, Brent and Norma were to be the guests of honor at an exercise nutrition talk by Michelle Hendrickson of the Novant Health Cardiac Care Unit. They will find out a lot about serving size and the best things to eat to build energy while continuing to lose weight with a combination of diet and exercise. It looks like both will soon take a classical yoga class and get some swim instruction in hopes of increased efficiency and calorie burn while in the water.

The journey is becoming more and more fun. I truly enjoy seeing these bright smiles first thing in the early mornings while the smile owners are ready to keep the train rolling. Brent ran for four consecutive minutes this week and looked good doing it. Norma, who tried a kickboxing class for the first time, continues with her Wednesday night Zumba class. She said, “I actually jumped off the floor for the first time in years!” I think there are many more of those moments coming soon.

See you next week.