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

CrossFit raising the bar for Breast Cancer Awareness

CrossFit Big Island joins Mammograms In Action, a Southern California based non-profit, in organizing the second annual “Amazing Grace — Lifting Barbells for Boobs” event to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer.

CrossFit Big Island, located in Hilo, HI, will be participating in this year’s competition, and all are welcome. The fundraiser has evolved into a fun, competitive event involving people from every walk of life and all levels of fitness. “The desire to do something proactive and positive for women needing better screening, including mammograms, is the only prerequisite,” the organizers report. The fundraiser is a perfect fit for CrossFit in general as it shows a broad dedication to the community’s overall health while remaining open and inclusive of people with any athletic ability.

According to the CrossFit.com website, “The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience.” CrossFit Big Island is committed to working with its local community to improve the fitness levels of the entire family. They are proud and excited to be a part of the Mammograms In Action fundraiser.

Beginning last year with just one location on one day, the fund raising event has grown rapidly. This year, well over 150 CrossFit affiliates worldwide will be hosting events throughout the entire month of October to coincide with breast cancer awareness month.

CrossFit Big Island will be holding their “Barbells for Boobs” event on October 27th, 2010, at their 18 Pohaku St., Hilo, HI, location. Individuals interested in participating in the fundraiser at CrossFit Big Island can register directly at http://www.barbellsforboobs.org

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Events | , , , , | 1 Comment

County Firefighter opens CrossFit in Hilo

Firefighter, Joel Tesser, open Crossfit in Hilo
Firefighter, Joel Tessier, opened Crossfit in Hilo

Several weeks ago I took part in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) 9th Annual Run/Walk that was held at Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.

    The event was the brainchild of Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira who wanted the Fire Department to annually recognize EMS Week, a time to educate the public’s awareness to what EMS provides on our island.

    I’m always impressed and comforted by the fact that the vast majority of our firefighters are in top physical shape as their job can be high stress and quite demanding.  Everywhere I turned I saw people within the department that are accomplished swimmers, runners, paddlers and triathletes.

   Chief Oliveira pointed me in the direction of Firefighter/EMT-1, Joel Tessier, who was putting on a demonstration for a new company that he had just formed called CrossFit.

   Tessier, who was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in Miami, Florida, has always been active in sports and exercises.  “I was very active with the Boy Scouts all the way through adolescence,” Tessier said.

    It was through his involvement with the Boy Scouts that Tessier became interested in First Aid and water safety which lead to a high school job as a pool lifeguard and a post high school job as a beach lifeguard while he still lived in Florida.

   “I started competitive swimming, tennis, and martial arts in my early teens and continued through high school, where I also added wrestling,” he said.

   After high school Tessier went on to get involved in endurance sports such as triathlons, mountain biking and adventure racing, but at the heart of all his activities was always surfing.

   Tessier believes that his lifeguard experience became a natural progression to becoming a Firefighter/EMT.  “I moved to North Carolina shortly after high school to become a firefighter, and I also continued to lifeguard at the local YMCA,” he said.

   During his four years in North Carolina Tessier became a personal trainer and started teaching fitness classes which included core strengthening and spinning.

   “I moved to the Big Island in pursuit of my childhood dream of becoming a firefighter in Hawaii,” Tessier said.

    Two years ago Tessier was assigned to the Kailua-Kona station #7 where he also took a job as a trainer for the Club in Kona.  “The Club in Kona was a great place to work, but they didn’t agree with my training methods.  This is where I first got the motivation to start my own training facility and to follow the CrossFit philosophy of training,” he said.

   “CrossFit aims to change the way people think and feel about fitness.  We believe in functional skill based training, with a focus on athletics and injury prevention, which revolves around physical capabilities,” Tessier said.

   Tessier believes that the emphasis on workouts should be placed on how much a person can accomplish and not on what that person looks like.  “We shy away from the bodybuilding elements, which is mostly about image and aesthetics, not the actual functionality of the body,” he said.

   “Our goals for the business are simple; create community, reach out to those who really need this, and find ways to hopefully give back,” Tessier said.

   And for Tessier staying in shape is just a part of life.  “Although I’m not training for anything in particular right now, I always try to train for life,” he said. 

   “My exercise week varies a lot and my first priority is surfing,” he said.  Tessier will surf at least twice per week, for about two hours each time.  “I crossfit three days a week and my sessions are usually an hour and typically touch on all areas of fitness which includes strength, metabolic condition, endurance, flexibility, speed, coordination and agility.”

   A big part of his motivation for staying in shape is his love of surfing.  “While at work I always want to be prepared for the unexpected.  I generally train so I can be sure I’m ready for anything,” Tessier said.

   At work in the fire department Tessier will participate in PT (physical training) everyday which usually consists of some type of short run of two miles and swim of 1000 meters in the morning and at least two hours of volleyball in the afternoons.  “We work ten days a month so that comes out to three days a week,” he said.

   As for diet Tessier strives to eat as organic as possible.  “I want my foods to be chemical free, but I don’t want my preference to control my life.  I always try and eat using the principles of the paleo and zone diets, but I’m human so I try and eat good most of the time and I don’t beat myself up about the fact that I am less than perfect,” he said.

  (The “paleo diet” refers to Professor Loren Cordian’s belief that we should return the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors and the “zone diet” introduced by Dr. Barry Sears wants us to get rid of the “toxic fats” in our daily diet.)

   For Tessier his goals in life are simple, “enjoy life and surf more.” 

   I for one am happy that we have Fire personnel of this physical caliber providing service to our community.  Tessier is a prime example of how fit and prepared our fire personnel are by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  

   For more information about Tessier’s CrossFit training you can visit them at 18 Pohaku Street in Hilo or you can reach him at crossfitbigisland@hotmail.com.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment