2022 Goals

I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions for the same reason many aren’t – most people don’t stick to them, myself included. I do like to set goals. In 2020, the goal was to get back in shape, and last year it was to complete in the maximum allotted time frame of a triathlon, I managed three.
 
This year, my goals are to find a traditional publisher/literary agent. If I can apply the same tenacity I did to losing 200 pounds and completing triathlons, I may have a shot at it. However, the primary goal is to not only complete four or five (planning to do Malibu California Triathlon depending on COVID) triathlons of varying distances, but to finish in my age group’s TOP TEN.
 
Of the five, I had planned to enter the three I had done in 2021, however, “The Pocono Triathlon Festival” falls on the same weekend as “Escape The Cape.” I really wanted to do Pocono since that was the first I had ever done. Yet my friend, colleague and fellow triathlete, Dr. Scott Leslie was really excited for me to do “Escape The Cape,” and with spots filling up I entered.
 
For those of us who know Scott, we are aware that he has had a cancerous brain tumor removed and is now going through the rehabilitation process. Scott is an Ironman, and he will get through it, there is no doubt in our collective mind. Additionally, I am confident that Scott will be at the Cape to cheer me on.
 
Scott, I am dedicating my 2022 triathlon season to you. I am going to have your name embroidered on the wetsuit and Hawaiian Tropical Tank Top I wear in every race, so as each mile passes by, and I both praise and curse you for getting me involved in this insane athletic endeavor, I will carry you in my heart and mind – as well as upon my sweaty, stinking, stank-laden body. 😮🤯
 
Scott, I am grateful for the advice you have given me, for encouraging me along the way, and believing in me when I was sure triathlons were never even a smoldering spark in my very vivid, and at times disturbing, imagination 😀. We are all here for you my friend. We love you.
 
I will see you in June – be sure to have a couple of home brews for us to celebrate.
 
 

Veterans Day Radio Interview

I was honored to be interviewed by Nikki Stone of WILK, for Veterans Day and my book, “War Springs Eternal.”

In case you missed it and would like to listen, just click, or copy and paste, the below link and then press the play button at the bottom.
Thank you,
Joe

https://www.audacy.com/wilknews/podcasts/wilk-newsradio-on-demand-47641/navy-veteran-joe-leonardi-author-of-the-book-war-springs-eternal-933954457?fbclid=IwAR1XZ3Qq0vIPdfjSmWLZSlfmryhXIXaQc9XnpHABRuWPoXkz-GuwAKJY2KM

Fun – Does It Matter?

“…. to go into a cold gym takes a lot of discipline, boy, I’ll tell ya. … I never liked to exercise, but I like results.”   Jack LaLanne

“One can exist for an indefinite period without exercise, but one cannot really and truly live without it.” Bernarr MacFaddenSee the source image

I was reading on one of the many Facebook pages I belong to and someone was asking about not feeling up to a workout.  Some

of the responses suggested that workouts must be fun.  As I read them I had to ask myself two questions:

Are my workouts fun? Do they need to be?

My exercise routine is spit into two portions:

Strength training, in which I use weight lifting.

Endurance training, in which I use a combination of jogging, sprints and rope skipping.

Yes, I will admit that there is something exhilarating about pitting myself against cold, unyielding iron.  I look forward to my mornings in the gym.  If I am pressed for time, I always get in some sort of weight training. While I do relish weightlifting, I’m not sure if the word fun would be an apt descriptor.

When it comes to jogging; I like the the time alone, free from distractions, outside enjoying the weather, but do I have fun? Not really. I am not even sure I even enjoy the activity itself.  I am not really built for running, either physically or mentally, but because of the results I attain,  I get out there and I do it.

I am not sure if fun should be part of the criteria for going out and exercising or even in  the choice of a particular exercise.  I pick and chose my routine for the results I am going to achieve.  When I am bulking up and adding strength, my weight training is slower and the weights I use are much heavier.  I still jog, but I cover less distance and I do it at a much slower pace.  When I a leaning out, I decrease the poundage and I move much quicker.  I cover more distance when I jog, I do it at a faster pace and I include rope skipping and sprints.

No matter what my particular goal is, I always include both progressive resistance and endurance training.  They both contribute to the overall result I am looking to achieve.

Is fun important?  I guess it could be, but it isn’t a requirement.  Exercise should be done to improve the overall quality of life.  While I don’t really consider my exercise routine fun, it makes much of the other activities that I engage in much more fun. When I was in Chiropractic school I spent hours upon hours studying for classes, quizzes, exams and boards.  Did I have fun during all that study time? I would have to say no, but it was necessary to achieve my goal.  I look at exercise much the same way.  My goal in regards to exercise is not to have fun during my exercise time; it is to achieve an improved level of fitness. The fun is in the results —

European Jet Ski Championship, Crikvenica, Croatia

Image via Wikipedia

-because I am fit, I am able to hike longer and more difficult trails.

-because I am fit, I am able to participate more actively in beach and ocean activities

-because I am fit, I am able to live every aspect of my life much fuller and with much greater joy.

So, is fun a requirement when it comes to choosing an exercise routine? Perhaps to some, but it wasn’t to Jack LaLanne and it really isn’t to me.  I am much more concerned with the results of the exercises I pick.  Taking into account travel to the track, then to the gym, showering and dressing — only about ninety minutes of my day is focused on exercise. While fun is nice; I prefer effectiveness, which in turn  improves the quality of  the remaining twenty-two and a half  hours (and, yes, I sleep better because of exercise) of my day.

A Fit Fifty Seventh Birthday

As I commemorated my fifty-seventh birthday, I have contemplated changes over the last eighteen months.

 

January 2020 was not all that long ago. I was fifty-five years of age, I decided that the bastard obesity had finally won the war. I was ready to give up, not solely on life, but on living itself. Mounting stress and ill-treatment had allowed my frame to morph into a shell of the person I had once been. It was time for that shell to accept, even seriously consider hastening, his demise.

 

For some unknown reason, I opted not to hasten. I cannot say why, but in February, again for an unknown reason, I opted to fight back. I was NOT going to lie down, I was NOT going to roll over, I was NOT going to “go quietly into that night,” or any night – at least not with the bastard obesity as the ultimate victor.

 

Along the way, I have had the support of many. For that support, I am grateful. To say I have been touched, would be a gross understatement. To say I have been humbled, would not do justice to the word humble.

 

Each step down from 375lbs was met with highs and lows. For every high there was excitement, for each low there was stronger determination. I would not lose this battle with the bastard obesity.
 
Earlier this year, my friend and colleague Dr. Scott Leslie posted his following of a young man with Down Syndrome being the first such individual to not only compete but complete an Ironman Distance Triathlon. He had not overcome some bad lifestyle choices; he had simply played the hand which he was dealt. He did not let “perceived” limitations stop him. He went ahead and achieved.

 

His achievement inspired me.

 

I started looking around for a triathlon in which to compete. Initially, I was looking for an Ironman distance. Scott talked sense to me. Next, I found an Olympic distance race and entered. However, with COVID-19 still dominating our lives, I found no way to get into a pool to swim, that didn’t happen until the end of April. Additionally, winter had decided to go out with a vengeance, so getting out on a bike was also not happening, that didn’t happen until the beginning of April. With only about two months of triathlon specific training ahead, once again, the rational mind of an experienced triathlete helped me see that the Sprint distance was the way to go, and the organizers made no argument in changing my registration.

 

As of this past Sunday, just days before my fifty-seventh birthday, I completed by third triathlon in a four-month timeframe. There are a lot of people who helped me along the ways. I have mentioned them at various times. I feel the need to mention them again. When naming names, it is always possible to miss someone. If I missed anyone, please do not take offense, and please message me so I can revise and include. Remember, I am going to be seventy-seven years old (in 20 years 😏) so my memory isn’t what it once was. 🤭
 
• My little dog, who means the world to me.

• My sponsors, Mark Leffler for providing the bicycle. Ed Charney, of Charney Farms, for providing the swim gear. Racquel Hettesheimer, of Tailored Kneads, for providing therapeutic massage. Dr. Adriene Zulkoski for Chiropractic needs. Mary Ann, Nicole, Jennie, Kim, Nicole, Nicole, Nicole and Shawn who donated via GoFundMe. Patient Amanda Reardon who wanted to contribute the entry fee to the latest triathlon. I’ve been treating Mandy since she was fourteen years old, I am grateful, because she is much more than simply one of my first patients nearly a quarter century ago, she is a close friend who entrusted the care of her family to me; so for more than the fee, but for that trust I am eternally grateful.

• Annie and Racquel. My co-workers during the worst of COVID. We helped each other get through crisis, and you two helped me stay focused and on track.
 
• My one true love, Florence  who kicked me in the ass when I was ready to completely quit.
 
• My friend Brian, who had to listen to me prattle on about highs and lows. Yet, still had me on his radio show to discuss my journey.
 
• My sister Oliva, for allowing me the use of her SUV to transport my bike and myself to the first two events. It alleviated a great deal of stress, worrying about taking the bike apart and putting it back together on race day.

• Each and every person on social media and my blog. Your thumbs ups, words of encouragement and reassurance have been a big help along the way. And you wouldn’t allow me to quit on myself.

• My accountability buddies, initially Carol, and now Monica, Candace, Karen and Bernie. Keeping each other on track made this all possible.
 
• A MONSTEROUS SHOUT OUT to Sharon and Matt Detwiler, who when they found out I had no one accompanying me to the first event, asked if they could make the trek up to Lake Wallenpaupack and be my side. Tears touch my eyes as I type these words. Thank you, you made one of the best days of my life a day which I did not have to experience alone.
 
• Another MONSTEROUS SHOUT OUT to Candace and Christopher Kopiak who ventured down to Quakertown to be my support system for triathlon number two. They cheered me on, took pictures and helped me with my gear. They touched my heart and made sure I would not forget the experience. As Sharon and Matt had done for event number one, they were there to ensure I did not have to experience the results of hard training alone.
 
• A BIG SHOUT OUT to the staff and volunteers and other competitors on each race day. You were encouraging from the moment of arrival, to the first steps into the lake, and along each mile along the courses, making each race an experience which this newbie will not forget.
 
• And one more BIG SHOUT OUT to new friend Janet, who I ran into with her friends, Sophia and Jill (who was not only competing, but is also a fellow indie author) as we trekked the mile from the parking spot to transition area. Janet would not take no for an answer and lugged my gear back to my car. Additionally, she took some photos for me to commemorate the day. I am learning the triathlon community is one of which I am glad to be joining.
 
Going through all of this allowed me to realize, that for whatever the bad in life has been; I am blessed much more than I deserve. Even at the times of a momentary lapse in that realization, when self-pity and anger express themselves in annoying venting, in the long run, I vow, I will not forget exactly just how blessed I am.
 
The Aloha Spirit with one and all.
Mahalo,
Joe
 

One More…

Last triathlon, at least I think so, for 2021 tomorrow..

Bag is packed, gear is ready.

Alarm(s) are set.

For tomorrow’s post race celebration two bottles of Kona Brewing Company’s Longboard Lager is chillin in the fridge along with 5 hard boiled eggs, 2 for dinner with my salad later and 3 for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Honestly, it is hard to believe that looking back a year and a half ago when I was tipping the scales at 375 pounds that tomorrow I will be participating in a 3rd triathlon in 4 months.

The low carb lifestyle can make such a difference in health, wellness, fitness, mental energy and living a better life. Aloha and Mahalo to everyone of you who hav been here for the ride. I did not do this alone, and these achievements are not mine alone, you all share in them and each of you will be with me during each phase of the triathlon. 

🏊‍♂️🚴‍♂️🏃‍♂️

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There Are Times I Don’t Believe It

When I see an a pic from a mere 18 months ago, sometimes, I find it hard to believe where I was and where I now am. I had some serious doubt about ever dropping all that weight, and I never imagined I would one day call myself a triathlete. A big shoutout to David Michener who not only, with his team of volunteers, put on a fantastic event; was kind enough to send me the STEELMAN tee-shirt I forgot to pickup on race day.

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Race Day Was Almost Over When It Began

The race started as a jump off the pier and go. With this being only my second triathlon, and the first was a run in, I was unprepared for my goggles to fill with water, leaving my vision impaired and distorted for the entire race, very grateful for the kayakers who were there to keep us safe. Additionally, the water was choppy and I ended up with quite a bit of lake water in my belly.
Not even to the first buoy, I had swallowed so much water, I almost panicked and gave serious consideration to raising my hand to get out. However, I switched to the breaststroke (to keep my head above water) for about 1/2 the swim, and once I was calm, switched back to freestyle and ended up knocking 13 1/2 minutes off of my first triathlon swim time.
Funny, I went from almost surrendering to having a great day.

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Coming out of Lake Nockamixon at the Steelman Triathlon

The Day Before

 

Thanks to my generous sister, I was able to go down and get checked in for tomorrow’s triathlon this afternoon instead of waiting until morning. So glad I did, that extra hour’s sleep will come in handy. Additionally, I had a chance to check out the course and transition area so I know right where to go when I get there. Looking out over the water, a 1/2 mile swim seems much shorter in a pool 😁
 
The race director Dave and his crew of volunteers were getting everything set-up and ready to go, and as busy as he was, he didn’t hesitate to take few minutes to answer this newbie’s stupid question. LOL
 
Stickers are in place, gear is in the car, body is marked, k-cup is in the machine, hardboiled eggs are in the fridge for a quick early breakfast.. this low carber is ready to tackle his second triathlon in as many months..
 
Now all I have to do is wait to go to sleep, wake-up and get there….
Thank you to all for your support, encouragement and kind words along the way. This former 375 pounder did not do any of this alone…
 
I’m so f’ing pumped..
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