Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Gerald De Mello making exercise a priority

De Mello

As Christmas and Chanukah approach this week and parents try to hide presents from their children one of the most common phrases that will be heard, over and over again, will be ‘go play outside’.

For Gerald De Mello, growing up in Hilo during the 1950’s he often heard his parents tell him, ‘go play outside’.

“My parents would say, ‘go play outside’ and encouraged me to be active,” De Mello said.  “For me playing outdoors with friends was something we looked forward to doing as we tried a variety of team sports.”

De Mello loved hearing those three words, ‘go play outside,’ helped teach him to become physically active.

“For me, it was baseball, basketball, barefoot football, bowling, and recreational swimming,” De Mello said.  “I enjoyed body surfing at Hapuna and competitive ping pong at the YMCA.”

While a number of De Mello’s friends did track and field, boxed, learned judo or karate, he focused on the more popular team sports.

“The sports my friends played was not on my periphery of interest,” he said.  “Back then in Hilo there was no junior golf, organized canoe clubs at Hilo Bay, surfing park at Honolii or soccer leagues.”

De Mello was born and raised in Hilo, attending Hilo Union, Hilo Intermediate and graduating from Hilo High before leaving the island to attend college at Eastern Washington State University earning a Bachelors of Arts in education and psychology.

“I returned to Hawaii to get my Masters Degree in Sociology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa,” De Mello said. 

De Mello had a variety of work experiences in both government and the private sector which included teaching at the community college and an administrative role in government and community relations .

“I’ve taught at Hawaii Community College teaching general Sociology and the Sociology of Hawaii for 15 years,” he said.  “This was a meaningful and gratifying experience working with students.”

Today De Mello is the University of Hawaii at Hilo Director of University Relations and External Affairs.

“I work with a very talented and dedicated group of people who constantly seek to improve UH Hilo’s academic stature, image, educational quality, learning opportunities and career options for Hawaii students,” De Mello said.

De Mello admits that his job can be, at times, daunting and overwhelming.

“Amidst it all, for balance, I’ve learned that for me jogging and brisk walking provides a time of reflection,” he said.  “It also counters times when work becomes extremely overwhelming.”

To counter that stress that life and work can often throw at a busy professional De Mello has developed his exercise/fitness program.

“Specifically, to stay active I’ve developed a jogging/brisk walking program that gets me to a level of rhythmic breathing,” he said.  “When I get out the door another world opens up to me.  I am able to relax and put things in a better perspective.”

A typical workout week for De Mello is between 12 to 15 miles of jogging and brisk walking.

“My program is moderate, it is not overly taxing, and I end my jogging/walking by cooling down with stretching which has greatly reduced my odds of getting injured with damaged knees and other ailments that characteristically come with my ‘vintage’.

De Mello credits a lot of what he can do today with the activities that he was able to do when he was younger.

“I think the activity that I did when I was younger built a reserve,” he said.  “In the late 1960’s I felt the need for some semblance of a fitness program so I got involved in Aerobics.”

De Mello learned Aerobics from his cousin Scott Leithead and incorporated the Ken Cooper program.

“I did aerobics for a time, but over the years I found that this program for me became too constricting and strenuous because I was competing against a scheduled pace and time,” De Mello said. 

De Mello stopped the Aerobics program during the 1980’s and started reading ‘The Joy of Running’ by Thaddeus Kostrubala and ‘Beyond Jogging the Inner Spaces of Running’ by Mike Spino, which lead him to training for his first marathon a distance of 26.2 miles.

“I learned that the hours of training necessary to run a 26.2 mile race did not work for me,” he said.  “I went from the marathon to doing 10K runs all over Hawaii Island and today I no longer do the 6.2 mile runs, I simply engage a self directed jogging/brisk walking program.”

For diet, De Mello follows a balanced ‘See Food Diet.’

My wife Claudette is wonderful about reminding me to pull myself away from the table,” he said.  “We both make an effort to practice the adage, ‘everything in moderation’.

De Mello, in his vintage years, continues to look forward to exercise and credits what his parent taught him at an early age.

“I look forward to working out,” he said. “Its past practice encouraged by my parents to use their local vernacular, ‘go outside play’ is today an extension of their early encouragement.”

When unable to exercise due to his late work days or during the Hilo rains De Mello will still find a way.

“Jogging and brisk walking has become for me as much psychological as it is physical,” De Mello said.  “It is an old friend that I treasure being in touch with.”

And someday if you should happen to see a jogger celebrating the joys of Chanukah and Christmas  remember to smile,  say ‘woof’ and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

December 19, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , | Leave a comment