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Podcast Season 3 Episode 7: Fitz Koehler

On this episode of the show, I am interviewing Fitz Koehler.

Fitz Koehler, M.S.E.S.S. is one of the most prominent and compelling fitness experts and race announcers in America. As the voice of the Los Angeles Marathon, Philadelphia Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Buffalo Marathon, DC Wonder Woman & Batman Run Series, and more, she brings big structure, energy, and joy to sports. She’s also passionate about guiding others to live better and longer through her company, Fitzness®. Fitz has appeared on national media outlets and has worked as a speaker and spokesperson for corporations like Disney, Tropicana, Oakley, and Office Depot. She has also inspired millions of kids to get active through her successful school running/walking program, The Morning Mile. In 2019, Fitz was diagnosed with breast cancer and has published a memoir My Noisy Cancer Comeback: Running at the Mouth, While Running for My Life, released October 20, 2020. 

Facebook: facebook.com/Fitzness-218599521492381/?ref=hl
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/fitz-koehler
Website: Fitzness.com 
Hello, and welcome to STL Active St Louis's premier health and wellness podcast.
STL Active aims to give listeners in the St. Louis area the information they need to succeed and progress with their health and
fitness.
This podcast is brought to you by St. Louis PT.com and hosted by Doctor of Physical Therapy Greg Judice.

Hey everyone, its Dr. Greg, owner and physical therapist at Judice Sports and Rehab. On this episode of the show, I'm interviewing Fitz Koehler, author of My Noisy Cancer Comeback. Fitz Koehler, M S. E. S. S is one of the most prominent and compelling fitness experts and race announcers in America as the voice of the Los Angeles marathon, Philadelphia marathon, Big Sur marathon, the DC Wonder Woman run series, and more. She brings big structure, energy and joy to the sport. She's also passionate about guiding others to live better and longer through her company Fitzness. Fitz has appeared on national media outlets and has worked as Speaker and spokesperson for corporations like Disney and Office Depot. She has also inspired millions of kids to get active through her successful school running and walking program the morning mile. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two kids and you can find her at Fitzness.com that's Fitzness.com Without further ado, let's get into the interview with Fitz Koehler.
All right, welcome to the show, Fitz Koehler, excited to have you.
Thank you so much. I'm excited to be with you.
Absolutely. Well, I know you're not from St. Louis, but I'm happy to have you on the show. I think you're gonna be a great resource for our listeners. So happy to have you here on STL Active. Let's get started with you telling the listeners briefly about your background.
Sure. So I do a lot of things that allow me to laser focus on one very specific thing, which is helping folks live better and longer by making fitness understandable, attainable and fun. I earned my Master's in exercise in sport sciences many years ago. I've been teaching fitness around the world for decades. And I do that in a few capacities. First of all is fitness expert I teach via mass media, TV, radio, books, magazines, any way I can reach a massive audience at once is what I crave most I do a ton of corporate speaking and spokesperson work for companies like Disney, Oakley, Office Depot, Tropicana, you name it, and I've likely worked with them to help either their workforce become fitter or their consumers become healthier. I own a large school running program called the Morning Mile, which I couldn't be any prouder of. And I also am a professional race. Announcer so I announced some of the largest most prestigious running events on the planet, Big Sur marathon Los Angeles marathon Philadelphia. Oh see Buffalo marathon, the DC Wonder Woman and Batman run series. So I make a lot of happy noise at the start of each race and at the finish line and make every athlete feel like they won. And I just truly love what I do. I also am an author for a second time. And this one is a bit out of the blue first book was the everything flat belly cookbook. And the second one, to my surprise, is My Noisy Cancer Comeback running at the mouth while running for my life. And it details my very shocking breast cancer diagnosis and how I battled through while traveling the country doing what I do. So. Yeah, yeah, still still working hard to make the best out of a bad situation and help others live better and longer through my experiences.
All right. Well, thank you for sharing all that. I know part of why I had you on for this for the show is to talk about fitness and cancer. And so I kind of want to jump into that if you're okay talking about it. Let's do it. When did you and how did you discover that you had cancer?
Yeah, so after having regular mammograms yearly since my daughter was born, and I found a little lump which turned out to be nothing special back in the day, but I learned quite quickly that my insurance covered mammograms for free and I thought well, why the heck not because my philosophy was if I was ever, if I ever had one, just one cancer cell in my body, I would want to know about it instantly. So I thought let's get those annual mammograms as well as skin checks and vision checks and pap smears etc. Because I believe in annual exams and self exams and so December of 2018 I went in for that annual exam came out with a clean bill of health. So the scans are is absolutely nothing on my breasts that weren't supposed to be there. less than seven weeks later, I was in a hotel bathroom at a race weekend, and it came out of the shower and I rubbed my under boob because I had an itch, and I felt it, it was felt like a bean. And I knew instantly what it was me. Of course, I didn't have, you know, confirm, but I knew in my heart that it was breast cancer. And so this is a big pivot point that saved my life is that I didn't sit and dwell on it. I didn't Google it. I didn't call my mom or girlfriends and cry and say, What do I do? I picked up my phone instantly. And within 30 seconds, I had the gynecologist on the phone, reporting my lump. And the second I got home from that race weekend I went in for an exam A few days later, I was in for the mammogram and an ultrasound. And they said, yeah, we see this mass is disconcerting, but you also have three hard, swollen lymph nodes were concerned about. And at that point, I knew, damn sure I had breast cancer. And yet we did the biopsy The next day, and I had a very aggressive, rapidly going type of breast cancer. And if I had waited till the following mammogram, 10 and a half months later, I'd be a goner, or you'd be talking about me instead of to me and so I definitely saved my own life with that decision to address my cancer instantly from lump to chemo, I think was three weeks. And from there, you know, my life went on spin cycle, everything somewhat went out of control yet, I held the reins, and I continued to control the things I could, which really made a difference.
That's amazing. I mean, that's, that's scary. I can't imagine ,terrifying, there had to be a part of you that was just like, wow, what can I what can I even do, but you never really let that slow you down?
No, nothing slows me down. Well, that's a lie cancer, chemo definitely tried to slow me down for some of my abilities. But, you know, I'm always the philosophy that I control the things that I can. And so I couldn't undo the fact that I had breast cancer, one in eight women in North America are diagnosed and you know, I'm the perfect Exhibit A of if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. And so everyone has to be proactive on behalf of their own health watch, watch what you put in your mouth exercise off and get to sleep, do everything you can to be the healthiest person possible. And then if you end up with one of those bizarre freak red flags, which I did, I addressed it, you know, if the check engine light goes on in your car, you instantly go to mechanic, you know, drive around for two months with a check engine light, and you don't go drive around for two months with with a lump in your breast or a stabbing pain in your chest. So, you know, the things I could control was finding the best doctors and I got the a team and then I chose to accept the treatment they recommended I didn't have to, I could have gone a different route. But you know, those are the choices I made. I also from the start decided that come hell or high water, I was not giving up quality time with my children. And I was not giving up my career, I earned my rightful spot on those stages, with those people at the helm of those events. And I was not giving it up cancer was not going to take that away from me. So I decided, this is what I'm gonna do. And I'm going to figure it out along the way. And I did.
That's just so inspiring. I mean, you're, you're one of the most proactive people that I've ever met. I mean, you don't just let life happen to you, you know, go and get it. That's awesome. So one of the quote that I read on your website was Don't be a be a victor. Not a victim. Yeah, I love that. Go into that just a little bit for me. Yeah,
we're in a victim culture. I mean, it's a little bit nauseating. And it's like well, I can't because I'm a woman and you don't like me because I'm a woman or my skin is darker than yours right this is my this or that and you know what I see are incredible people of all races genders religion, ecetera at the top of every game I see prime ministers and presidents around the world that are you know, have girl parts and dark skin and you know pray to different Gods and so I know success can be attained if you choose it for yourself if you're willing to work darn hard. And so yeah, I I you know, I'm the train coming down the tracks and thankfully for the world, my intentions are good. And I do I do a lot of help no harm But yeah, I get it I'm coming Get out of the way because I'm very intentional, life doesn't happen to me, I control much of what I can and then I control my attitude. You know, it's none of my business what people think of me and too many people are worried about like, oh, what if they don't like it? Well, that's their problem. But you know, I feel good about the person that I am the work that I'm doing. And you know, the biggest critic I ever faces the girl in the mirror every morning so you know I live up to her standards so yeah, I'm and I have faith in me. That's the other thing is I never second guessed Fitz Koehler. She's proven herself time and time again and she's proven herself after making some critical mistakes and having stupid ideas and you know, I'm a grown up now. I've been through it and I have I have faith in me So, so yeah, if I, if I can't trust Fitz Kohler Who can I trust?
I love that. So is that is that mindset, that mentality? Is that something that you've always had? Have you always been that way? Or was there a shift at some point to get to where you are now,
it's a sunny disposition I was born with. So I was born an optimist and a happy girl. And that's so lucky that I'm a joy addict. You know, I prefer joy over misery any day. And so I choose that for myself, however, I definitely was insecure, and I made some dumb decisions, and I let opportunities pass me by because I was unconfident. And so what I've done to counteract that is I've become as educated as humanly possible, as experienced as humanly possible. And I also, you know, I believe that perfect is boring. So I don't expect perfection out of myself, which really goes a long way, which totally decreases the disappointment factor. If I flub some words on national television, and, you know, I actually prefer live television to recorded because we're pre recorded, you have to keep going back and back and trying to be perfect. And with live television, we just let it fly. And I know I'm given three and a half minutes to get this point across. And if I've gotten that point across, even though I might look silly, or or stuttered, or something like that, I don't stress over it. I know that the information I've delivered is life changing to someone who's listening. So yeah, it's it's come. I've this confidence. And this level of commitment has come after years of being uncommitted and learning the hard way that I would have been better off having faith in myself. Got it.
I love it. I totally understand the live versus recorded. And I do that with my podcasts as well. We typically do it in one shot. And if we fumble on words, that's just the way it is. It's really like that. I had a coach, tell me one time done is better than perfect. Hell yeah. Do something. Rather than what is that the paralysis by analysis? So yes,
yeah, those things are real. For some people, they just are stuck, and they can't move forward. And it's, it's, it's a lot harder than being them than it is to be me, I assure you.
I believe it. So going back to your diagnosis, what was the hardest part about it? Was it just? Was it the knowing that Oh, my gosh, this is this is a big deal? Or is it it's gonna affect my, my relationship, or it's gonna affect my job? Like, how, what was the biggest thing about it?
Um, I definitely believed I was dying. And as I say, I'm the most positive person in the world. But I thought, you know what, I'm the fitness professional, who does almost everything, right? Who has this perfect career and perfect family. Nothing's perfect. But you know what I'm saying, I thought I would make the most perfect, tragic tale. So I was convinced I was dying at that. Oh, here it goes. And the worst part about that is I'm a mom, I have these two humans I made are spectacular in every way. I'm so desperately in love with Ginger and Parker, and the thought of missing out on their life was agonizing. And so it took a couple of weeks for my doctors to convince me know 94% of breast cancer cases are curable, yours is specifically curable. And so then I took my eyes and I put them on the prize at the end of the tunnel, there is a light, and I just have to get there, right and adore the cure. And so that was the hardest part. And then some of the other hard parts were just five months of feeling like I had a tequila hangover every single day, I was violently ill. And then I had 10 more months of chemo after that which wreaked havoc on me in different ways. You know, the weight loss, fingers and fingernails ripping off, my vision changed. There wasn't one iota of my body that was on affected by chemo and radiation and the surgery. So it just was it was a tough road. And I still look back and I can't believe I went through it. It was it was brutal.
I believe that man. I can't imagine that for myself, for sure. Yeah. And I'm glad you're still here. I'm glad to everything. You know, what, how did you? How did you continue on with work? I feel like part of me, and I'm sure a lot of people would be like, Oh, well, I've got this diagnosis. It's easy to just kind of, you know, sit back and just concentrate on getting better and not worry about profession. How did you focus on that as well as getting better?
Right, so that's the magic of finding a career or creating a career You're so desperately passionate about. Right? So if, if I worked any sort of job and I wanted to take a year and a half off because of my treatment, nobody would have nobody would have blamed me right? But I would have blamed me I I couldn't have tolerated missing out on my events and my people and the opportunity to do the work that I love that I earn. So, yeah, my passions were that the key to keeping me up on my feet now, what I can tell you is that when I wasn't on a stage, it felt like everything hurt, and I was I was dying at the moment. You know, I spent almost every one of those nights in a hotel on the bathroom floor, you know, like sleeping on the towels near the bathroom near the toilet. So I cause I was sick, sick, sick. But again, the magic of my career is alarm would go off at 4am I would drag myself off the bathroom floor and I would put on my clothes and I go over to my stage. And the second I turned my microphone on it was though, I got to be full fifth full force Fitz Koehler again, I was running exclusively on runner, generated gogo juice and adrenaline. And I got to be me. And the reason I got to be me is because the thing I do is focus on other people. So I didn't have time to focus on my crazy tummy, or my, this or my head pain, all I focused on was these wonderful people in front of me that deserved a really good time and deserved all of my support and energy. And congratulations. So it was, it was magical. It's hard to describe. But yeah, I truly was Fitz Kohler on those stages. And and here's the thing is, it wasn't accidental, it wasn't accidental, we went through a lot of efforts to keep me going, I ended up having IV fluids every single weekday for five months, and that included on the road. So I would get on a plane, just to figure out how to get to California or New York, from Florida or wherever I was going. And then when I got there, a race director or a friend would pick me up and bring me to a place to get IV fluids or there would be nurses waiting in my hotel room for me, to give me IV fluids in it, I would literally go like wake up, do a race come back and hooked up with sailine, and anti nausea drugs. And you're probably familiar with some of them. It was ludicrous. And that's why the book is kind of exciting. I could have called it adventures and cancer treatment or breast cancer because it just was insane. And I don't know if you saw but some of my chapters, I've got one called the bright side of poop on my face. And that happened. And one of my other funniest chapter titles is when things go wrong, don't go with them naked in the airport. And that happened to so you know, things went a little bit wacky, but I was determined. And you know, we always say my stubbornness is my greatest asset. And my greatest curse. I do believe it was an asset last year.
I believe it so when So was that through 2020 or 2019.
I'm diagnosed in February of 2019. And I finished treatment in May of 2020. Got it? Okay.
I do not envy that. But that I think having something to focus on other than just feeling like garbage was probably a great thing.
It was it was the thing. And so, you know, a lot of the themes I share within the book, and then whenever I talk about cancer is number one having perspective. You know, for me, it was I wasn't a kid with cancer. Can you imagine, you know, it wasn't my kid with cancer, which would be way worse. And last but not least for me, I it wasn't one of the more typically lethal type of stuff cancer or I didn't just get hit by a bus and killed that day, you know, I had a fighting chance and that really kept my spirits up. Also, I kept pursuing my passions and I think that's a huge secret people don't just lie there and be miserable. If you love animals, spend time with your animals if you can't be with them because you're in the hospital fine. Watch funny animal videos on the internet. They're everywhere and they're they're bound to fill you up with joy. If you love music or sports or friendship keep those things going in your life you don't have to give up on life because you're being cared for and this is part of the COVID nightmare I mean the shutting down the world because of COVID obviously made all these people who could have been diagnosed with stage one or two cancers and last March, April, May when they said elective procedures are wrong. Now these people are being diagnosed with stage four nightmares because of you know, our friends Cuomo and Newsome and so forth, but you know, these people now they're being isolated. Terrible, terrible for your stress. And, you know, for me, I even though I was the most officially the most immunocompromised person on the planet when I was being treated. I never missed a flight. I never missed an event. I never missed an opportunity to hug 1000s of sweaty germy strangers because my life is better with people. My life is better with smiles and hugs. And so, you know, passions go a long way and my passions are people and doing what I do for people. And so, you know, let's let's get our patients of any sort and let's gauge them and keep them alive and keep them going with, you know, the things that matter most. And then last but not least, I chose positivity I learned quickly that even though there was a lot of suffering going on, I was going to get no extra points for being the status girl in the room. And so I did cry a ton, I cried every single day. In fact, I sobbed on a regular basis, I sobbed alone in my room or alone in my car, you know, I tried to, I tried to just get it out as I could, because it was stressful. But if somebody said something funny, I took the opportunity to have a laugh, you know, again, you don't have to be miserable every day, because you have chemo and so forth. So, you know, my attitude isn't for everybody. But golly, if everybody had my attitude they probably be and probably enjoy every day a little bit more.
Absolutely. And I mean, you're right, there's this year has been crazy. I mean, we're talking via zoom, which has become the norm, but a year ago, it wouldn't have been in a zoom was the thing, but it wasn't the thing. That's right. And so I totally feel that all of my are hanging out with friends or doing business networking, all that's virtual now. And it's not the same, you don't get the touch, the nuance of communication is just gone. Well, so it's frustrating.
So it's not just length of life, it's quality of life. And if this is the quality, I mean, I'm in Florida, so we're back to being kind of a free society again. But that quality of life in March To hell with that I don't that's not what our soldiers died on the shores of Normandy for you know, we're supposed to be together if we choose and and of course, it's the big word is freedom, freedom, overarching, give me freedom or give me death. But yeah, people matter to me. And you know, my mom, at some point, she's 80. So she was, she was being a, the hysteria was getting to her a little bit. I said, you know, Mom, these rules you're suggesting are okay, if I were on if I were dying of my breast cancer today, they wouldn't let you in to be with me. We do understand that there's a good chance I could if if my cancer care went a different direction. I could have been in the hospital alone dying without my mother, without my husband without my kids. In what planet? Is that acceptable? How many 10s of 1000s of people have to die isolated alone, for us to get our heads on straight and start actually paying, taking care of people and interaction. This is who we are, you know, we're designed to be together. This is why people are listening to you. Yes, they want to learn, but they want to hear your voice. They want to hear conversation, they want to be a part of engagement. So I you know, I have my opinions. Obviously, they're very strong, but I actually also happen to be a health and fitness expert. I've got credentials, and experience and I know what makes people better. So
absolutely, yeah. So let's, let's change gear away from that just a little bit. So I wanted to provide my listeners with some resources. So you're a fitness nutrition expert. And you've been through cancer. So for folks that are that are dealing with cancer currently, do you have any tips, tricks, resources, books, video series, whatever, on how they can take care of themselves while they're dealing with cancer?
Yeah, so I actually have quite, my stuff is I have tons of free materials, free resources, so fitzness, calm that's fit z N E SS is my home base, but I also have tons of videos on YouTube, quite a few dedicated to my cancer battle and why I chose to go bald and how I got through radiation without burns, etc. Number one, I think everyone needs is a quality physical therapist, you know, I do have all the fitness expertise but once you become a cancer patient, you have medical issues, and it's a physical therapist that should be taking care of you getting you back to your point being no matter what kind of cancer you have, quite often you end up with mobility issues from surgery, if you go that route, you know I lost so much weight that I lost a lot of muscle and you know, just sleeping hurt sleeping cause wreaks havoc on my shoulders and so forth. So I think a quality physical therapist is something everybody should look towards and, and usually insurance covers that and if not, quite often the state covers physical therapy. So I think that's something everybody should consider. But, you know, fitness is one of those things every oncologist should tell you that you should pursue to your best ability even through treatment and I've heard my oncologist say that dozens of times and I actually have newly diagnosed friends I'm bringing in because now I'm their person right I'll take you to your appointment and support you and so that my radiologists, the fitter you are going into any sort of illness or injury, the more likely you are to thrive while trying to survive and recover and rebound quickly. So if you if you're not diagnosed or you're not hit by a bus yet, work on your fitness now because it matters strength going in will help you get stronger on the way out. However, you don't have to give up everything just work to your best ability. And so listen to your body, if you can't run anymore, walk, right. And if you can't walk really far walk to the mailbox, get up and go back, I at some point was whacked out of exercise completely. So I spent three to four months doing nothing but stretching in the shower. But boy did that strip those stretches in the shower, mean a lot to me and me and my bald head, I was in the shower multiple times a day. And so just continuing to be mobile, bend my back and bring my shoulder through their full range of motion and stretch my hamstrings went a long way for me. So what, what I want to tell you is you don't have to give up fitness because you start chemo or have radiation. And sometimes you'll just be at the mercy of doing the best you can. But I do recommend do something. And you know, as I came out of my main chemo fog, I got in the pool and I literally stretch I did nothing but stretch. And then eventually I was able to kind of just wiggle around in the pool. And then I was able to do a little more deliberate motions with arm circles and leg circles in the pool. And then I started walking. And then when I got back to weight training, I was maybe lifting 25- 30% of what I had previously. But that was okay, you know, my first priority was do no harm. You know, I didn't want to strain strain make myself even more miserable than I was. So I took these really tiny steps on my way back to becoming a fit person. The gentler the better. And I've made tremendous progress. And so yeah, it's it's do what feels Okay, I definitely think a PT is number one priority when it comes to your body. But then yeah, baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. And if you look at any workout that says for beginner start there, it doesn't have to be anything specific.
Love it. So I don't know if you knew this, but within the physical therapy profession, there are there used to be eight special specialist categories, including neuro specialists, orthopedic specialists, pediatric specialists. And about five years ago, they added an oncology specialist. So there is way more to helping someone with cancer than just a treating them as a like, like you would everyone else, there's a lot more to it. So make sure that, you know, if you are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, make sure you work with a PT who knows what they're doing, how to manage your, your symptoms, how to manage your potential radiation burns, that kind of thing. So there's a lot more to it than just it's another person who's sick or who's shoulders hurt.
Absolutely, yeah. And I you know, lymphedema is an issue and you know, and then some people with bowel cancers have some sort of, you know, there's, there's all sorts of issues and you're right, the more specialized of a practitioner you can get, the better and then here's also the thing is not every fitness professional is qualified to deal with you. So some chick who teaches Zumba at the gym. She's good at teaching Zumba. But don't ask her for nutrition guidance. You know, the guy at the gym is like buy my supplements, the answer to that guy is hell to the No, you only get food from the grocery store. And if you're getting any sort of supplements, they have to be prescribed by your physician, or a nutritionist that was designed that was assigned to you and has seen your blood work and knows what you're actually supposed to be having all these hacks that work at these nutrition stores for minimum wage, they have no idea what your health issues really are. And they can do far more harm than good. So yeah, be be very specific. And if you are going to take specific guidance on recovering from cancer, you need someone who's qualified.
Absolutely. I love that. And I wanted to kind of go back just just a little bit here you were saying that the the fitter that you are going into anything? Yeah, better you are coming out of it. Yeah, that is so incredibly true. I have a lot of people that have worked with me and they're like, you know, I'd love to avoid surgery, if at all possible. And a lot of times the conversation before we ever get started is yes, I would love to help you avoid surgery too. But even if even if you end up having to have surgery, and we work together and your strength is better and your range of motion is better and your endurance and your coordination and everything is better. You're going to come out of surgery so much quicker, so much stronger, and get much better results. So that's kind of a push for prehab is what we call it is love it is you know do get better before you ever have this And you're going to come out of it much better in the long run.
You know, I teach a lot of clinics for athletes. I'm a sport performance expert as well. And so in some sports, they shy away from strength training or stretching. And I'll take the running community, I'm talking to you runners, because runners tend to only run, like, I'm just I only have time I gotta do 12 miles. And so, you know, on occasion, there's, there's one guy who roams around, he's kind of an old dog in the running game, but he tells people do not strength train, it'll slow you down and don't stretch, you know, and I just, it's mind boggling. But I asked people I say, Okay, you've heard this one person say don't strength training on any given day doing any given thing. And I mean, any day doing anything, would you rather be stronger or weaker? You know, is there any benefit on the planet at all to being weak? The answer is, no. No. And it's a Hell no, it's a big old. No. And the other thing is, is there any benefit to being flexible? Oh, no, no hyper mobile has a problem. But most people aren't in threat of becoming hyper mobile, because they're touching their toes a few times a day. So, you know, when when people go to physical therapy, or when people show up with pain, usually, if they're not injured, they haven't unless you've had that big twist or that big fall, that aha, ouch moment. Usually our pain is a result of tightness and weakness. And so I tell him, listen, you can do strength training up front, you can do flexibility training up front and that's gonna keep you your body stable, and mobile and less likely for sprains, strains and tears. However, if you don't do those things, you don't do what I'm telling you to do right now you're eventually going to hit the wall and you're gonna have pain pain is going to turn to suffering, it's gonna turn into an expensive doctor appointment, way more expensive scans, expensive physical therapy, and that physical therapist is going to tell you to do exactly what I'm telling you to do today. So strength train your entire body stretch your entire body again, I have tons of free resources on fitness comm on all of this stuff, I also have a podcast if it's an a show, and as you know, as it's you can tell is I'm a straight shooter. I tell you exactly the way things are. I boil it down quite simply. But um, yeah, I actually am my sixth round of the really mean chemo where I was a basket case. And I was gray and bald, I was so sick, and you know, mentally, I was in despair. And my doctor, he sent my oncologist he said, Fitz, you have done so great. I said, What!? You know, I just couldn't get my head around. I said, I've not done great, every ounce of me is a mess. And he said, Listen, I'm not saying you haven't suffered. However, I gave you the most toxic combination of chemotherapy drugs we give anybody. He said, If you were not as healthy and fit coming into this, you would have been not only hospitalized overnight, which I was one night, he said you would have been hospitalized for a month, you would have had a feeding tube. And we all know that a feeding tube is a big welcome for infections and all sorts of other things. He said instead of a month in hospital and a feeding tube. You traveled this country every weekend having more adventure than most healthy people do in a year. So you did great your health and fitness made you a chemo all star. And so I'm not there's no superpower in me, you know, I'm not made of anything special. I just am a girl who took care of myself in advance to care myself to my best ability on the way through it. And now on the on the opposite end. I'm doing my best. But yeah, everybody's got to prioritize their health and matters. Awesome.
So speaking of prioritizing health, how do we how do we prioritize health for the masses, if you will, and you've got a public health program, you've got the Morning Mile. So tell us a bit more about that.
Well, the morning mile is the best thing I've ever done in my resume is quite full as when when it comes to fitness. But that's the thing that I'll have on my tombstone one day long, long, long, long from now. So the Morning Mile is a before school walking running program that basically when each school adopts it, they invite every single student in their student body to participate every day of the school year plus the faculty plus the family and the bus driver. So absolutely nobody is excluded. And it's just a 30 minute window for people to show up and walk or run circles around their track field playground whatever they have a safe way to get uncomplicated, uncomplicated exercise that requires little to no equipment. We provide music, a simple system for recording labs and a wonderful system of rewards. And so we just make it welcoming, fun and rewarding and they come in droves and so many of my morning mile programs have hundreds of kids kids out on the field every morning plus their dads and grandpas and aunts you know They're doing extraordinary things. We do not say, Oh, we want you to do 26.2 miles this year, or we only want you to do 100 miles. We have Morning Milers, elementary school kids who are running six 700 miles in a year. Wow. So they're highly motivated and highly rewarded, rewarded. And I have that program in over 400 schools around the world. And it's it's changing lives. It's not just walking and running. I believe that one day we will see our Olympians say yeah, I got my start at the school running program, morning mile or our future CEO saying I learned discipline and good habits with the Morning Mile. So yeah, what's this? The solution for society is to understand how simple fitness really is, you know, I would say, Listen, I have a, I have a master's degree in the most simple, stupid science in the world. It's move your body, watch what you put in your mouth, get some sleep, remove the cranky people, it is completely uncomplicated. And so I have I advocate advocate for the consumers by fiercely opposing all the people who push diets, pills, powders, supplements, those goopy raps, snake oil of any sort, you know, those people those does vultures, who are more focused on lining their pockets than telling the truth and actually helping people. They're responsible for a lot of this chaos. Because people are constantly looking for this quick fix magical pill. They piss away all their money on the useless bad stuff. And then they're unwilling to focus on it's unwilling, that's not a nice word. They're unconvinced about the things that really work. And the thing that really works is moderation. You know, if people go to the cover of fitness calm, there's an article that's always housed there on top, it's called the exact formula for weight loss. It's just teaching you how to eat the right amount of the right foods for the size you want to be. You don't have to be perfect. But there is a caloric budget that matches up with your goal weight. It's just science, a little math, a little bit of discipline, and then you fill that cork budget with a more healthy foods than unhealthy, right? You don't need a diet where someone says you can never ever have white flour, and you can never have a slice of pizza. I think that's unreasonable. Right? You know, keto, oh my gosh, what a bad idea for a million reasons. But so many are like out to do keto. And they find six weeks of good success, and their breath stinks and their crotch stinks. And there's all these other things that happen with keto. And then they get off of it and they lose, then they regain the way plus more frustrated, disappointed disgusted in themselves. And it's just about kind of, you know, I'm taking it back a little bit, we're not going to eat recklessly, we're gonna focus on maybe having an apple instead to retos. And it's not that you can't have Doritos, you just have to have less. And so yeah, that exercise exercise does not have to be complicated, you know, cardio strength, flexibility, balance, do a little bit of all four, and your body will start to get better and better and better. Pursue athletic adventure to your best ability. It could be hiking a mountain, or it could be just taking a dance class, all of those things count. So yeah, I think if we had a society focused on people who knew and a society, people who understood how simple fitness really was, I think they would go for it, I think I could convince them. And that's why I will spend as much time for the rest of my life, trying to reach as many people as possible and trying to convince them to do better and be better.
That's awesome. I, I totally agree. I think there's definitely an information overload. And people think that the more complicated the solution, the more likely it is to be correct. Because, oh, it's got to be backed by a certain amount if it's a certain amount of science, because it's complicated, but it's really not that complicated.
It is not no, and you know what I mean, we look at Oprah, if there was a magic pill, or a powder or shake or any of those things, she would have it, you know, the only thing she doesn't have in her entire life is that body, that healthy fit body and she just hasn't yet committed to doing the work all the way every day. Right? So if there was a magic pill, Oprah would have it unless you see Oprah galavanting down the beach and her size 10 genes again, then that magic pill doesn't exist. There's nothing you need to buy at a nutrition store. You know, if I put the word weight loss on an apple, you would say well, that's stupid. It's just an apple, right? There's no such thing as weight loss food. There's no such thing as diet food. You know, the word diet just means a temporary solution and yielding temporary results. So yeah, the exact formula for weight loss visit that at Fitzness.com, I can also teach you how to exercise how to design your own workout. I don't take any money from the consumer to help them live better and longer. corporations pay me to, you know, that do that other side of thing. The big deal. Speaking jobs, but I truly just want to help people who want to help themselves.
So I gotta go back just a little bit here. What was your What was your motivation for the Morning Mile? Obviously, just to help more people, but like, Why that?
It's a great question. So when my daughter was five, and my son was three, so she was in kindergarten, she had friends, who at their schools locally, were running before school. And some of those moms would brag Oh, Aiden's running before school, blah, blah, blah. And I kept thinking, Wow, that is I wish Ginger could do that was Tinder. I wish my kids could do that. And so it was just these other moms talking about their kids walking, running before school and me thinking, wow, that's such a great idea. And then finally, the lightbulb went off in my fitness innovator mind, and I went, Oh my gosh, I wish all kids could do that. That is the solution. If we could teach them how to, you know, it's such a simple act, getting up and going for a walk. If they did that every day for the rest of their life, they likely would not deal with heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, etc. So what I did is I visited those schools and said, Hey, can you tell me what you're doing here I'd like to create something duplicatable, to, you know, put in other schools. And so those schools shared with me, you know, their best practices. And so I combined what I thought from their practices were good, I added my own, I got a corporate sponsor. And so what I realize is, schools, they don't have a lot of money and they're certainly not going to spend much of it on sports and fitness. So instead of asking schools for money, making that a barrier between participation or not, what I do is I get corporate sponsors as sometimes it's a local Baker and attorney a grocery store or Under Armour, they pay for the Morning Mile programming and I provided to the school for free the kids do not get charged to schools do not get charged. And it's it's yielded extraordinary results not only individual students with maybe healthier weights, but kids that now can make the the sporting team or the now they're moving the first string are kids who can focus in school, they get all their Willies out their youthful energy in the morning, they show up to class, they're able to sit still. They learn better, there's fewer detentions, fewer referrals, the principal's love that kids naturally come from morning miles, so they naturally arrive to class on time, we've slashed problems with tardiness. It's just it's so good not only for the child, but the school community and that child's family.
I love it. And I think I'd seen on your on your website that you've accrued over 2 million miles.
That was years ago. Yeah, you know what?
Yeah, it was I'm sure it's, you know, well over that at that point. At this point, though. At
least I have some schools that do 25,000 miles in one year, just one school and I have 400 so I actually stopped counting miles I figured it's less about that. It's more about participation and yeah, morning miles calm if anyone wants to get more kids moving in the mornings.
Perfect. So how can people get in touch with you? I know we've got Fitzness.com Fitzness and they can learn more about you how to hire you for speaking engagements or events or anything like that. How else can I get in touch with you
on social media on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube? I am at Fitzness. And I would love not only for folks to follow me but reach out and say hi and tell me you heard me on Dr. Greg's podcast because I love connecting with people and that really is what makes my world go round. So follow yes but say hello to
perfect and then make sure to pick up My Noisy Cancer Comeback. Where can they find that?
So available in hardcover paperback ebook and audio book it's available really wherever books are sold. So Amazon and audible etc, etc. However, if people come straight to Fitzness.com to buy a hardcover or paperback I sign every last one of those books, and we include a fun gift with purchase.
Awesome. I love it. Anything else to finish up here.
I just want to encourage everybody to do better be better get your annual exams and squeeze your stuff. It's your hands and your stuff. So put put an appointment in your cell phone every Wednesday morning or you pick a day but make it happen and you know if you if your body gives up the single signals those red flags, listen to them and go get checked out because I would like to see you last a very long time.
Excellent. Well, thank you so much for being here. Thank you Fitz Koehler, I appreciate it. This has been STL Active.
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