The number one health problem facing Americans today is obesity which is a result of our inability to control our need to consume in excess.
We are blessed to live in a country of abundance and it is easy to fall victim to the quick, easy and relatively inexpensive trappings of fast foods.
Weight affects millions of people in this country where we are conscious of size and what society tells us is acceptable beauty.
Excuses for our inability to eat right, exercise and take better overall care of ourselves range from the “lack of time”, to the “you only live once” concept.
I agree that we “only live once,” but shouldn’t that one time be filled with making the right choices concerning our overall health and productivity? Being overweight brings with it a series of health aliments such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
For Andy Busek his struggles with weight began as a youngster and manifested itself when he started working as a cook during and after college.
“The more I worked the less time I had to exercise,” Busek said.
As a youth Busek remained active playing Pop Warner football and joining the swim team by the time he was 10 years of age. By age 12 he became a sixth place finisher in swimming in the state of Georgia as his family traveled around the country with his father being in the Air Force.
Already large as a teenager Busek began to balloon even more once he became a chef and with his extra pounds came a host of weight related ailments.
“I started working as a cook during college and began eating more and exercising less,” he said. “I first started working at a French Restaurant where I sampled almost everything I cooked and soon found myself tipping the scales at 300 pounds.”
It wasn’t until Busek became diabetic and had his gall bladder removed that he started to make changes in his consumption of foods.
“I changed my diet by removing sugar and white starches and I increased the amount of vegetables in order to control my blood sugar,” Busek said.
The changes weren’t easy for Busek as he is constantly surrounded by food and today works as the pastry chef at Kilauea Lodge in Volcano Village.
“I love food, especially pastries and chocolates,” he said.
Busek has, over the past few years, won a variety of cooking and pastry contest, placing second as professional in the Kona Chocolate Festival in 2008 and winning the 1997 Sam Choy poke contest for his mac nut poke creation.
“I’ve won certificates in sauces, stocks and pastries from Cordon Bleu, France and have won many local awards as I was a member of the American Culinary Federation,” Busek said.
Busek remained active in swimming for many years doing the Hapuna Rough Water swim throughout the 1980’s and in 1984 tackled the Volcano Wilderness Marathon a 26.2 mile trek around some of the roughest terrain in the world.
“When I did that marathon in ’84 I lost 15 pounds on that single day,” Busek said.
At age 55 Busek continues to struggle with his weight, but has made a consorted effort to exercise more and eat healthier.
“I’m trying to do triathlons and work on my swimming, biking and running throughout the week,” he said.
Since 2000 Busek has entered a number of triathlon events and realizes that with more consistency he continues to get better at what he does.
“I know that I cannot stop exercising or I’ll gain all the weight back,” Busek said. “I also feel better when I exercise and I keep getting better and better at participating in various events the more that I do it.”
At age 55 Busek is still large, tipping the scales at 228, but he has made great strides in his fight against obesity.
“I continue to set fitness related goals for myself as I enter various community races to really compete against myself,” he said. “These races help me stay motivated to continue working out in order to see how far I can push myself.”
Like most people struggling with weight related issues Busek sees his battle as a lifelong process.
“I am now off medications because of my improved diet and regular physical exercise,” Busek said.
Busek has some simple advice to those that are struggling with their weight and that is to eat more vegetables and exercise regularly.
“Eating right and staying away from fatty foods is one of the keys,” Busek said. “I still struggle everyday with my weight, but at least now I am winning that battle.”
In his book The Affluent Society, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, “More die in the United States of too much food than of too little.”
Andy Busek in doing his best in the fight against obesity through regular physical exercise and by making smart choices in the food that he consumes.
And someday should you happen to see a health conscious jogger doing laps around Liliuokalani Gardens remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”
After a two year hiatus the Volcano Art Center will once again be hosting a trio of trail races, but this time outside of National Park land.
Following the July 2008 Kilauea Volcano Marathon, 10-mile and 5-mile runs held in Volcanoes National Park officials decided to end the popular event after 26 consecutive years.
Citing a variety of reasons, from the then recent eruption of Halemaumau Crater to the overuse of the trails and the chance of bringing in invasive species on runners shoes, the Park decided to discontinue the three races.
Sharron Faff has taken it upon herself to try to revive the footraces and will be hosting the Volcano Art Center Rain Forest Runs on Saturday, August 21.
“It was my idea to put this event together,” Faff said. “I had already started the process of putting the race together when Lorna Jeyte, owner of Kilauea Lodge, approached me and asked if I would be willing to put together a fund raising event for the Volcano Art Center.”
Faff teamed with Volcano Art Center CEO Tanya Aynessazian in putting together the inaugural event and have thus far exceeded their original expectations.
“When I first talked with the Art Center Board of Directors I told them they should actually expect the race to cost money as I pretty much only expected around 250 runners to participate in the first year,” Faff said.
The event has already surpassed original estimates and Faff now expects to attract over 400 runners and walkers. “With 400 participants we’re now at the breakeven point with the costs of producing a new event on a tight budget,” she said.
According to Faff there will be participants represented from 14 states and three countries with the majority of those coming from Hawaii. “Most of our runners are from the Big Island,” she said. “Overall we have 58 percent women and 42 percent men that are registered.”
This year’s event will feature a half-marathon (13.1-miles), 10K (6.2-miles) and 5K (3.1-miles) along with a free keiki run, walk or trot at distances of 200 yards or shorter for those seven years old and under.
“We are very pleased with Sharron’s involvement in this and other races and her ability to organize all the details of this race,” Aynessazian said. “She has exceeded our expectations and we are overwhelmed with the generosity and support of so many community members.”
Being a new race Faff needed to layout the courses for each of the distance races. “I wanted to use the rain forest as much as possible without hindering traffic on Highway 11 or Old Volcano Road through the Village,” she said.
Faff looked at a variety of possibilities before settling on a route that would give participants the most mileage through the rain forest with the least amount of traffic impact.
“After having driven the village roads over and over again I chose Cymbidium Acres as the safest and most beautiful for the runners,” Faff said.
All three races will start and finish at Cooper Center on Wright Road in Volcano Village and will then go through Cymbidium Acres before returning to Wright Road to get the added mileage needed.
“The half-marathon will even get in a little off road experience at the end of the pavement on Wright road,” Faff said. “All of the courses have beautiful views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, while running on Kilauea Volcano.”
To put on a race of this size and magnitude Faff and Aynessazian estimate that there are over 160 volunteers that have come forward to help along with some businesses that have made contributions to the event.
Kilauea Military Camp will sponsor the Military Awards and the Volcano Art Center will be providing unique pieces of art to the top male and female runners in a variety of age divisions.
If everything goes as planned for this year Faff wants to add a full 26.2-mile marathon to next year’s event which would then replace the old Kilauea Volcano Marathon. But for now Faff is hoping to surpass the 400 participant mark for this year’s inaugural event.
“There is still time to register for all three races,” Faff said. “We will have packet pick up and late registration on Friday, August 20 at the Kilauea Military Camp which is located inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and people can also register on race morning at Cooper Center from 5:30 to 6:30 am.”
For more information about participating in any of the Volcano Art Center Rain Forest Runs contact Faff at 967-8240 or go to www.volcanoartcenter.org.