Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Esther Kanehailua staying healthy

Esther Kanehailua living healthy

Esther Kanehailua living healthy


Memorial Day, a day to reflect, and to honor those brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. For many of us Memorial Day is a long weekend to spend with family and friends.
Ha’aheo Elementary School Principal, Esther Kanehailua, enjoys the Memorial Day weekend for both reflection and for time with her family.
Kanehailua lost her mother to heart disease when she was in intermediate school and that loss is a constant reminder for her to watch her weight, watch what she eats, and to exercise.
“I grew up in a house with three brothers and can remember always being interested in sports because of my brothers,” Kanehailua said.
“I played football with my brothers. I don’t know if you can call it playing as I was more of a needed “man” for two man teams of touch football,” she said.
Those “touch football” games with her brothers soon turned into full contact but Kanehailua can see the positive lessons of rough play. “I think it (full contact) toughened me up. When you grow up with three brothers you really are at their mercy if you want to play.”
But like most girls prior to Title IX Kanehailua never played organized sports while growing up and instead opted for being a spectator of male dominated games.
“My dad was a big sports fan and he filled our house with quotes from great coaches like Vince Lombardi. I remember even having a quote on our toilet seat cover as kids,” she said.
Kanehailua remained relatively inactive for most of her adult life while raising four children and being married to a county police officer, Marshall.
“The older I got the more the weight crept on. There was nothing medically wrong, although I tried to convince myself that it was something out of my control. The truth was simply my poor eating habits and lack of physical activity,” Kanehailua said.
“I tried walking in order to control my weight, but that never helped as I was hitting the wall with weight loss. About a year ago my husband (Marshall) suggested doing interval training,” she said.
The interval training involved brief sprints between telephone poles, which means that Kanehailua would start off walking and upon reaching a telephone pole she would run to the next pole, then walk again, alternating walking and running on alternating poles.
“I tried the intervals and quickly realized that once I started running it would be better to keep running rather than stop; it was kind of like Forrest Gump,” she said.
Kanehailua also adopted better eating habits and as a result has transformed into a healthy, energized person.
“Thanks to my colleagues at work we all joined Weight Watchers which really forced me to be accountable for what I eat by journaling, monitoring portions and learning to make better food choices,” she said.
Kanehailua now looks to include lots of high fiber into her diet while choosing low fat foods. “Now I eat oatmeal every morning with dried fruit and ground flaxseed. I take vegetables like bell pepper, tomatoes and carrots for a mid morning snack,” she said.
For lunch Kanehailua will have a sandwich or a salad with some protein included and will have an afternoon snack of fruit and yogurt.
“Dinner is usually whatever my family eats, which will always include a salad,” she said. “And yes, desserts, defiantly in moderation compared to life before Weight Watchers.”
During weekdays you can find Kanehailua on the treadmill at Orchid Isle Fitness at 4:45 p.m. where she will do 5-miles.
On the weekends Kanehailua will hit the road where she will do longer runs consisting of 7 to 8 miles.
“Akolea Road is my favorite run. It has panoramic views of the bay and Mauna Kea on a clear day. The incline of Akolea is just right and the side streets provide more challenging hills,” she said.
In 2005 Esther and her family participated in the EMS Walk/Run when proceeds raised were used to defray the medical cost for her sister-in-law, Karen, who was battling cancer. “Every year since, we have participated and encouraged others to join us at this great family event. This year approximately 24 Mabuni’s, my family, and Kanehailua’s, my husband’s family, participated in either the walk or run,” she said.
Kanehailua’s progress had caught my attention few months ago as she was beginning to not only enter running events, but would often place in the top three of most of the community 3.1-mile runs held along Hilo Bayfront.
Back in March Kanehailua tried her hand at the Hilo Half-Marathon (13.1-miles) and has now set her sits on doing a full marathon.
“That (Hilo Half-Marathon) was such a great run. The weather was perfect and the hills on Akolea prepared me for the scenic route portion. The next goal is the Honolulu Marathon in December,” she said.
For those readers that are just starting out with an exercise program Kanehailua has the following advice:
“Just start somewhere,” she said. “I started walking and I never thought that I would be running. It is amazing how good some physical activity can make you feel which in turn influences the way you eat and the amount of stress you feel.”
“Most importantly, tell others what your goals are and that way you are held accountable,” Kanehailua said.

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May 25, 2009 - Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , ,

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