Friday, March 19, 2010

Fauquier Health Cyclist Sheds 50 Pounds on Way to Bike Tour

Al Maxey is a lesser man than he was when he began working at Fauquier Health a year and a half ago – 50 pounds lesser.

Thirty-five of those pounds have melted away in the last couple of months, after he and his family made some big lifestyle changes. Healthy eating habits and lots more exercise are now standard at the Maxey home in Catlett. In fact, Al is in serious training for the 100-mile Tour de Cure Hampton Roads bike ride on April 17. He’ll be raising money for the American Diabetes Association, a cause near and dear to his heart.

Al said, “There is a lot of diabetes in my family. My uncle lost both his legs and eventually, his life to diabetes. My doctors have been warning me for years about the dangers. My numbers were getting close; I was near to being classified pre-diabetic. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been working hard at eating right and exercising. My last blood work came back looking great.”

As if his genetics weren’t enough motivation, Al said he’s doing it for his family. He and his wife Paula have three daughters, ages 4, 9 and 11. “I want to set a good example for my kids. I didn’t want to be one of those fathers who tells his kids to go out and exercise – while he sits on the couch with the remote.”

About three times a week Al goes with his two oldest daughters to the LIFE Center. Al works out on the treadmill or uses the free weights, while his wife and girls take a Zumba class (exercising with a Latin beat). “They love it,” he said. “They know all the routines and which songs they like best. I know they are looking forward to today because John (John Ferguson, Zumba instructor) has some new songs for them.”

In addition to the LIFE Center workouts, Al has put in a lot of time on his bike. Last weekend he logged 30 miles – his house to the hospital – and he has ridden with the Warrenton Cycling Center. Of course, 30 miles in a weekend is a long way from 100 miles in a day. Al smiled and said, “I still have six weeks before the ride.”

Al’s oldest daughter rides with him some. “She rode with me last year in the Rappahannock Rough Ride. So many hills. It was the longest 12 miles of my life.

“It was tough, but I was hooked after that. And besides, you never see an overweight cyclist, right? It’s a low-impact sport and it burns a lot of calories.”

Exercise is only one part of the new regime for the Maxey family. “We have cut out almost all fast food. It’s toughwith three kids and a busy schedule, but we do it – mostly. We try to eat fresh foods whenever we can, lots of fresh vegetables, beans and grilled chicken, no processed foods.”

Al is a systems analyst for Fauquier Health, so he goes with his strengths. “I’m a numbers person. I’ve got to be able to measure everything. I count every calorie that goes in my mouth. I also use as a resource for tracking calories and activity. It has been a big part of this whole journey. Since I’m a technical person, I use the iPhone app as well as the website to track my calories consumed and burned, and I use a bike computer and spreadsheets to track my progress. The technology and numbers are all very important to me. If I can’t measure it – I can’t manage it.”
Since beginning work at Fauquier Health, Al said he has been more aware of his health and the health of his family. He participates in the health system’s Make One Change program for employees and is an enthusiastic participant in the twice-a-week Walk and Talk group on Hospital Hill.

Long-term goals? “I want to finish strong in the 100-mile ride next month. My goal is to end up in the middle of the pack. I don’t want to be last!”

Al would like to take off another 40 pounds and perhaps even finish a triathlon. But for now, he is enjoying the very tangible benefits he has realized already. “My blood pressure is down, and my cardiovascular health is much better. All of us have more energy, and we don’t feel lethargic during the day. My kids say they don’t feel yucky anymore. I’d like to say I’m sleeping better … but we have a 4 year old.”

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