Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Listening to the Canoe can provide answers – Sheila Cadaoas learned

Sheila Cadaoas listened to the canoe

In my eight years of writing this column I have heard many reasons for why people found the motivation to lose weight, but Sheila Cadaoas provided me with a new lesson on self-motivation.

Cadaoas learned from her paddling coach that she needed to lose weight by listening to the canoe.

Chucky Aki from the Keaukaha Canoe Club gave Cadaoas a glimpse of her large size, by simply telling her that she needed to ‘listen to the canoe.’

“About my third or fourth month into paddling we had to do tractor pulls,” Cadaoas said.  “It is when one paddler sits in seat one and only the steersman is in seat six, with seats two through five left empty.”

The idea behind tractor pulls is to see which paddlers are the strongest as each person is given an opportunity to cover the same distance during a time trial.

When it was Cadaoas turn to squeeze into seat one her 245 pound frame was just too large to fit into the narrowest part of the canoe.

“I needed to sit in seat two to do my tractor pull,” Cadaoas said.  “Chucky was holding the canoe and as I moved back to seat two he told me ‘the canoe is speaking to you’ and that day I vowed to listen to the canoe.”

Cadaoas had been active all through high school and college playing a variety of sports and staying very fit.

“In high school I played softball and basketball as I was good enough to make the team, but not good enough to get much game time,” she said.  “I was a classic benchwarmer type, but I enjoyed all the activities.”

Having an attraction to water activities Cadaoas became a lifeguard and swimming instructor starting as a junior in high school and throughout college.

“I have always enjoyed all the water activities including scuba, inner tube water polo and water skiing.  In college I played inter-dorm volleyball, inner tube water polo and broomball,” she said.

After college Cadaoas got a desk job, got married and then had two babies in a row.

“Although I wasn’t physically active anymore I was still eating as if I were,” she said.  “Being the team mother of a T-ball team doesn’t burn the same amount of calories as being the first baseman.”

Cadaoas maintained a veracious appetite throughout her youth and continued with her love of food after becoming the team mom for her child she watched the weight begin to pile onto her frame.

As she approaches 50 years of age Cadaoas has transformed her body by ‘listening to the canoe’.


“I absolutely love my time on the water, especially on my OC1 when I can feel the wind, waves and currents,” Cadaoas said.

Cadaoas is currently involved in the OC1 competitive racing season which runs from January to May and continues to work with her OC6 paddling crew.

“When I’m with the full crew it is more about the blend of the team,” she said. “When everyone is in sync the paddling can become almost effortless.  We move through the stroke together, our breathing becomes synchronized and the canoe lifts and glides over the water.”

Cadaoas has learned much from her first paddling coach, Chunky Aki, and even more by listening to the canoe.  She has also incorporated a regular swimming routine in order to use a more complete range of motion.

“Swimming is a good recovery method of training as it gets all the fluids moving, especially in my joints and connective tissues,” she said.  “When I feel stiff and sore I go for a swim and feel much better.”

She has also incorporated jogging which was useful in her losing weight and completed the Big Island International half marathon and the Hilo to Volcano relay race.

Cadaoas will also go to her gym, CrossFit, to get what she considers a high intensity, full body experience.

CrossFit helps me with strength and metabolic conditioning which is what I need to be successful in the canoe,” she said.  “I will also do yoga for flexibility and balance as I was getting very strong but also a bit muscle bound.”

To complete and revamp her new body Cadaoas has added the zone/paleo diet to her regime.

“The zone diet is fairly well known and it is a way of combining carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats into blocks at each meals,” she said.  “The paleo diet has me eating lean meats, lots of colorful vegetables, fruits and some nuts.”

The canoe spoke well to Cadaoas as she went from 245 pounds to her original competitive weight of 150.

“I currently weigh about 160 pounds but my body fat is much lower and my muscle mass is way up,” Cadaoas said.

This incredible woman has transformed her lifestyle into a more healthy body and all by simply listening to her canoe.

“I guess losing a big number is an accomplishment, but I don’t really care about that,” she said.  “For me, it has always been about performance and being capable of doing all the physical things I want to do.”

But things don’t stop here for this motivated, high performance athlete as Cadaoas has set new goals for herself.

“I want to remain competitive in the sport of OC1 and OC6 canoe paddling for many future years,” she said.  “I want to learn and develop new physical skills as I work on handstands, Olympic weight lifting and kipping pull ups.”

“Only the blind gropes in the darkness” is the saying of O ka makapo wale no ka mea hapapa I ka pouli.  “If you have no direction in life, you’ll get nowhere.”  Sheila Cadaoas has found her direction from listening to the canoe.

And someday should you happen to see a jogger listening to the sounds of nature remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Canoe Racing, Profiles | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment