Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Exercise paying off for West Hawai’i’s Jo Iwane

Jo Iwane

Who says exercise doesn’t pay off?

You don’t need to look far to see the dramatic results that regular physical exercise can produce on the body, mind and spirit.

Plato had it right when he wrote:  “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”

Many of the major diseases that plague our society are preventable if we choose to exercise regularly and eat sensibly.

Retired elementary school teacher, JoAnn Iwane, is a shining example of someone who developed Type 2 Diabetes and did something to overcome it.

“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about five years ago,” Iwane said.  “I have struggled with my weight for most of my adult life and didn’t do anything about it until I developed diabetes.”

Iwane grew up in Kealakekua during a time in which girl’s participation in sports was not encouraged.

“I grew up during the 50’s and 60’s,” she said.  “We did play some sports, but it was just a part of our physical education program in school.”

Growing up in Kona, Iwane recalls that there were no athletic teams at Konawaena High School and that she and others of her gender where reduced to playing half court basketball during her PE classes.

“My husband remembers the weird way I held a baseball bat because I didn’t know any other way,” Iwane said.  “Those were the days prior to Title IX and we have lots to be appreciative to our late Representative, Patsy Mink, who made legislation that provided for the girl’s sports programs that almost equal the boy’s today.”

After spending 30 years in the classrooms of Kealakehe, Kahakai and Konawaena Elementary Schools, Iwane retired in from teaching in 2002.

“Besides teaching I also needed to ‘moonlight’ to help put my three daughters through college by teaching early childhood education classes at the UH-West Hawai’i campus,” she said.

With Iwane’s busy work schedule and the raising of her children the years slipped by without much exercise until the day came when her doctor told her the bad news, that she had developed a disease that could have been prevented.

“I actually started to go to the gym about 10 years ago, but I didn’t change my eating habits and my weight continued to go up,” Iwane said.

Today Iwane has made some great progress as she lost 10 pounds and will exercise regularly.

“I go to Pacific Island Fitness Gym at 5 am, five days a week to do 30 minutes of cardio workouts,” she said.  “I will alternate between the treadmill and the elliptical trainer, and then I’ll do 10 to 15 minutes of weight training.”

Every Monday you’ll find this soon to be 64 year old doing her favorite thing, yoga.

“My Monday yoga class is my favorite thing to do at the gym as I am working on building core strength and balance,” Iwane said.  “As I get older I become more prone to tripping and falling, so this is a major concern of mine.”

Iwane has also returned to eating a more healthy diet, with fewer calories.

“I love salads and vegetables of all kinds,” she said.  “I try to eat fruit from our coffee farm like bananas, tangerines, oranges and avocados.”

Iwane has also reduced her consumption of carbohydrates and has moved to eating more fish and chicken rather than red meat.

“I love to cook healthy meals for my husband, Elbert, and me,” she said.  “I love to go to the local farmer’s market to buy fresh vegetables and the like.”

The great news is that her efforts to change her diet, lose weight and maintain a regular exercise program has paid big dividends.

“Because of my regular exercise and losing those 10 pounds over the past few months, I am no longer clinically diabetic, according to my doctor,” Iwane said with great pride. “My sugar levels have been very low for at least six months and my doctor says I’m the poster child for exercise and diet leading to no longer being diabetic!”

And Iwane is not done as she has set the bar even higher for improving her overall health.

“My goal is to get off all of my diabetes meds completely,” Iwane said.  “My dosages are being reduced every time I see the doctor, so I am hopeful this will happen soon.”

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease through maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical exercise and a good diet.

JoAnn Iwane is a retired, senior citizen who is making the most of her situation by turning a negative into a positive. 

According to Iwane part of her motivation in staying healthy as she ages is to see her two grandchildren, Maile and Logan grow up.

“You have to make exercise a regular part of your routine,” Iwane said. “We all have excuses why we don’t, but we need to just do it.  For people like me who love to eat, just watch what you put in your mouth and try to eat as ‘clean’ as possible.”

Someone once said, “In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

And someday should you happen to see a happy, healthy, retired senior citizen doing what he loves to do – which is run – remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

Email the Big Dog at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christine Wolf lacing up her shoes to run Hilo Marathon

Christine Wolf prepares for Hilo Marathon

Sometimes in sports, as it is in life, just a few words can open the doors to equal opportunity and fairness for all of us.

   In 1972 a 37-word law provided half the American population with the same health and fitness opportunities as everyone else.  It stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

   The Title IX Educational Amendment, written by our own Congresswoman Patsy Mink, opened a new era of equal opportunity for women in this country.

   “During the ‘60’s I wrote a letter of complaint to our local school board that girls were denied many opportunities,” Christine Wolf said.  “I was informed by our geriatric high school principal that as I matured I would find out that fitness just wasn’t very important for girls.”

  Wolf was just one of more than 100 million Americans that were denied the same opportunities that boys had while growing up.

   “Looking back, there was an ongoing theme in my life, insofar as trying to live an active, athletic sort of life, but feeling that my options for that were limited by my gender,” Wolf said.

   If there were any organized competitive sports offered to girls during the 60’s, when Wolf was in middle and secondary school, she would have wanted to participate.

   “I wanted to be a jock,” she said.  “I wanted to be involved in many classes and extracurricular activities that were only offered to boys in our little backwater school district of Annawan, Illinois.”

   In high school Wolf did take a proactive approach about physical fitness as she began to practice yoga.

   “I became self-taught in yoga by reading whatever books on the subject that I could find,” she said.  “I thought yoga was ‘groovy’ and I actually managed to structure myself a daily routine and stick to it for a few years.”

   During her college years Wolf attended two art schools in Michigan and in Manhattan, respectively, neither of which offered any physical education requirements or sporting activities.

   By the time Wolf finished college Title IX was in full bloom and this Midwesterner fitness fortunes took a positive change for gender equity.

  “I moved back to Illinois after college and found a Nautilus Gym that recently opened near my work place and they had announced that they were going to allow membership for women,” Wolf said.  “The novelty of the idea, engaging in a male sport, enticed me to join and eventually lifting weights every morning before work was part of my normal routine.”

   Wolf’s job as a graphic designer led her to accepting a position at a print shop in Waipahu, Oahu in 1983 where she eventually met and married John Luchau.

  “John was an avid runner with many marathons under his belt,” she said.  “He soon had me out pounding the many bike and pedestrian trails on Leeward Oahu.”

   Wolf maintained a frequent presence in a local gym and dabbled in running on occasion; all the while thinking that someday she should give a marathon (distance of 26.2-miles) a try.

   “I kept saying I will run a marathon before I reach the age of 35, then it was 40, then 45,” Wolf said.  “As each birthday passed I just pushed the goal further back.”

   Wolf and her husband moved to Paradise Park in 1992 where they spent several years building their home together. 

   “As I approached my 50th birthday I was just about to give up on the whole ‘I wanna be a jock’ dream and toyed with the idea of just sinking into a sedentary old age,” she said.  “It was during this period that I saw a flyer for a new yoga studio just opening in HPP called Wisdom Way Yoga Center.”

   The first yoga session renewed Wolf’s vigor in wanting to be active again as she took the more strenuous form of yoga called Ashtanga. 

   “Ashtanga is a high energy practice emphasizing vigorous, continuous movement, which elevates heart rate and body temperature.”

   The new form of yoga introduced to Wolf provided her with the discipline and physical fitness level that she was looking for.

   “I can honestly give Ashtanga yoga the credit for bringing me to a renewed relationship with my body,” Wolf said.  “By 2007 I had the confidence to once again attempt running as I tried a few 5K’s (3.1-mile) races along with the Volcano 10-mile Rim Run that year.”

   In 2008 Wolf was looking at running her first marathon, a dream that she had since college, and set her goal to just finish the beautiful 26.2-mile course of the Big Island International in Hilo.

   “My goal was just to finish one marathon just to prove I could and then retire from running,” Wolf said.  “But once I finished the Hilo Marathon I began feeling competitive and began planning to run it again the following year.”

   Wolf did her second Hilo Marathon in 2009 and crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 13 seconds.  This year Wolf is lacing up her shoes again and will take on the Hilo Marathon scheduled for March 21.

   “Last year I barely missed breaking 5 hours so this year I’m hoping to take about 15 to 20 minutes off my time to finish around 4:45,” she said.

   To prepare Wolf is now running around 45 to 50 miles per week with varying daily distances. She will also cross train by doing a 10-mile bike ride on the days she doesn’t run and she enjoys a love hate relationship with her workouts.

   “I still don’t really enjoy training, though I have my moments when the mood and the motion come together and I feel great,” she said.

   Soon we will see how Christine Wolf will do on her third marathon race.  In the meantime, if you’re women, let’s give thanks for the foresight and inspiration given to your gender by the late Patsy Mink.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment