Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Okura listened to her Middle School teacher and just kept moving

Amy Okura

It all started from a physical education teacher at Hilo Union School according to Amy Okura and that is where she fell in love with movement.

“When I was in Hilo Union I loved the P.E. fitness tests we did and I raced with the boys at recess,” Okura said.  “I started playing AYSO when I was 10 and what I initially lacked in skill I made up for in determination and enthusiasm.”

Today Okura works as a legal assistant at Okura and Associates where she occasionally finds her job quite stressful.

“I specialize in getting Medicaid to pay nursing home costs for our clients, this tends to be a very emotional and financially stressful time for people as they are watching their loved ones go though injuries, illness, and transitioning into a nursing home, which without the help of Medicaid cost most people about $12,0000 a month.”

Okura has a lot deadlines to meet which makes her job that much more stressful. 

“There is unexpected turn of events to deal with on short term notice,” she said.  “Sometimes I have long days, but my biggest challenge is to always remember to be patient and kind to others who are going through an entirely different stress.”

Okura remembers the advice she was given at middle school P.E. class which was to relieve stress just keep on moving.

“My P.E. teachers all taught me that movement while playing is the best way to relive the outside influences of stress.” Okura said.

Play she does, Okura favorite activity is swing dancing.

“I love to dance,” she said.  “I dance Lindy Hop and other variations of swing dancing with the Hilo Hep Cats; I’ve also started dancing the Argentine Tango with Tango en las Rocas.

Besides dance Okura is going through a 12 week fitness program with her own fitness coach.

“I am in a three month fitness program with Stefanie Basso,” Okura said.  “I am in no way aiming to be a competitive figure builder, I just want to get stronger and feel better about myself.”

The program currently has her doing strength training 4 days a week and cardio 6 days a week.

“For the sake of maintaining balance in my life, my ideal week includes 1 to 2 nights of dancing and about 3 days of running and working out,” Okura said.  “Actually, an ideal week would include 7 nights of dancing, but I’m trying to be realistic.”

For diet Okura admits to liking meat with just a little fruit and vegetables.

“Everybody responds differently to foods,” she said.  “I truly believe that the joy of life is enhanced by eating beautiful, flavorful food.”

Some of the foods that delight Okura’s palate are Brussels sprouts squash, nuts, fish, and quality local grass-fed beef.  She also loves dark chocolate, wine, cheese, micro/draft beer, and French fries.

“As long as I stay active and eat a mainly clean diet, my body gives me honest feedback about how it feels with what I’m putting into it,” Okura said.

Okura is trying to stay active; she even entered her first race this past March.

“I started running again this past year, I was so slow when I first started,” she said.

“I was extremely anemic and my heart couldn’t handle the aerobic activity,” Okura said.  “With the consistent encouragement of several friends and a lot if iron supplements, I slowly started to run more often.” 

Like most runners Okura likes to run with friends to push her farther and at others time she like the solitude of running alone.

“I run alone for my peaceful meditation time,” Okura said. “I like running with friends to push my pace and distance.”

Friends can keep you from falling off pace, and in Okura’s case it could lead to your first organized race, the Hilo Half Marathon held the past March.

“My only goal for that race was to not walk any portion of the 13.1 mile race, and I didn’t,” Okura said. 

Since March Okura has been doing a variety of events, including the Volcano Rainforest 10 K run.

“I was pleased with my performance at the Rainforest 10K and can hardly wait to push myself again at the next race,” Okura said. 

She doesn’t have to wait long as Okura and several of her friends have signed up for the Hana Relays on Maui.

“I am already looking forward to the next race after that and I believe the Great Aloha Run is in February and then I’ll give the Hilo Half another try, setting my target time a little higher,” she said.

Okura’s exercise related goals are fairly simple; “I just want to do better and better and have more and more fun with it,” she said.

She’s on track for achieving both her goals.

“I love the way working out and running keeps my body fit and healthy,” Okura said.  “I love the quality of sleep that I get when I am active.  I love the way the endorphins feel.”

And it doesn’t end there as the list of energy packed benefits is limitless.

As her P.E. middle school teacher from Hilo was right in that there are many good reasons for keeping the body moving.

“My moods are less subject to forces outside of myself, my personal relationships are healthier, easier, and more enjoyable,” Okura said.  “Exercising brings a better me to the table, in whatever I am doing.”

And someday should you happen to see a tall, thin jogger remember to say ‘woof’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.’

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October 15, 2012 - Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Great story. To be inspired in middle school and follow through your whole life. It is amazing the impact teachers have on their students. How wonderful that Amy gives her teacher the credit.
    BTW Bigdog is there a fun run for veterans day? I see your next run advertised on this site is the BIIM.
    Thank you
    S

    Comment by Sonny | October 15, 2012 | Reply

  2. Miss Amy O. is such a fantastic lady! Beautiful, intelligent, kind and one of my favorite people! Great story!

    Comment by Jaclynn | October 15, 2012 | Reply

  3. Big Dog, keep fighting! Thanks for this. Amy was in a sophomore honors English class at Hilo High that I did a terrible disservice to, but thankfully, she seems to have forgiven me. Saw her face (and yours) in the paper this morning and the column was my first read of the day!

    Comment by John B | October 15, 2012 | Reply

  4. The world gets better with the likes of Amy and Wayne who cannot help but pass on their contagious passion and zeal for life. It’s an honor to know you both and to be on the periphery of your continued impact on people’s lives. Don’t stop believing, sharing, learning, creating, doing, being. Mahalo.

    Comment by jocelyn b | October 16, 2012 | Reply


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