Becoming Spartans: DaVita Teammates Inspire Each Other Along Path to Fitness
With a new year comes new resolutions. And well, with new resolutions often come broken resolutions. But as exemplified by teammates of DaVita Westlake Dialysis, when we support each other through our goals – in this case, fitness goals – it’s a lot easier to make it to the finish line.
About a year ago, Brian Reyes, a patient care technician at DaVita Westlake, signed up for his very first Spartan race – an intensive obstacle course that requires ample strength and endurance. Since that first race, Brian has not only finished numerous Spartan races and bettered his health significantly, he’s also encouraged over 30 other teammates in his region to train for and join the races, and he’s helped create a community of fitness and empowerment among his teammates. Below, please see two of those teammates tell how they took back control on their health with the support of Brian and the rest of their team.
DaVita Westlake Administrative Assistant Donna Maningding:
I was motivated to participate in the Spartan races because I wanted to do something that would challenge myself to do something that would test my endurance, even though I am not in perfect fitness. I also wanted to join because I know that my DaVita team would be there. The team captain Brian Reyes has been such a source of encouragement ever since I joined DaVita Westlake in 2016. He encourages the team to engage in healthy lifestyle, eating and exercise. Last year we joined the DaVita 10K Healthy Wage Team Challenge and did well with a significant combined weight loss. And last year, the rest of the team started doing Spartan Races, often talking about it and posting photos on the clinic board to show us. At first I was very hesitant, because I knew I was not physically fit.
The hardest part was to physically and mentally prepare for it. I am not an exercise geek, and I have been overweight for a while, but I didn’t want to give up on participating. My awesome office partner Administrative Assistant/Patient Care technician Erica, who is an army veteran, became my exercise partner. We would run and walk during weekends in preparation for the race.
The actual race was so hard on my weak physical body and mental state. I underestimated the preparation that I needed, starting the day that I signed up in Sept. 2018. I told myself I can do it, but during the race my body was giving up, especially climbing up and down the steps/bleachers and crawling. I practically was suffering from oxygen deprivation being on high grounds, getting dehydrated and depleting all the energy I fueled myself the morning before the race. I am still moved and emotional about the whole experience because I realized how much my DaVita team has done for me to complete something I was giving up on halfway during the race.
But I was surrounded by people who really push and encourage me. I couldn’t have done it without all of them, offering a knee to climb a 5 foot wall, a shoulder to carry a sandbag up and down the bleachers, arms pushing me up a six-foot wall, hands to lift a 50 pound ball, and many more instances. But the most amazing experience I had with the team is the genuine desire they had to help me make it through. Team Captain Brian mentally coached me to not give up when I was ready to say “I quit!”Physically, my body was giving up but my ROD Eleanor Harte, who helped me crawl through 50 foot downhill space.
Finishing with my team beside me was a great feeling! I was so tired and I was in tears because I looked back at the entire stadium and the stairs I climbed and bleachers I walked through with my team, and I completed them all. It was very emotional! I couldn’t have done what I did during that race without them. I am so grateful for their support. I realized that even outside what we do in the clinic, we continuously live by our motto, “One for all, All for one.” I truly cherished the experience because I did it with my Team DaVita Spartans. I would do it again with the team with better preparation and healthy weight on my part, which is the major goal that impacted me. I want to be healthier so I can participate in more Spartan Races, or even Tour DaVita to benefit patients, and for my family and friends who are on dialysis.
Thank you for the opportunity to share our team story. It is really not about me—it is about my team impacting my life through this Spartan experience.
DaVita Westlake Patient Care Technician Marlo Manuel:
As a hemodialysis technician, I always show how compassionate I am towards my patients. I know in my heart that I would not have any problem putting my life on the line to provide quality care for them. What I did not expect, however, was how I would react to my own health. Back in 2009, I had three consecutive car accidents. I passed out behind the wheel due to lack of sleep and obesity, and then my driver’s license got revoked. I did not realize how much weight I was gaining. I was 250 pounds, I had high blood pressure and sleep apnea. My doctor advised me to lose weight. Unfortunately, I became heavier due to stress and self-pity. I allowed myself to reach 280 pounds from overeating, mostly fast food. I was so depressed! Then, realization hit me. I needed to make changes in my life in order to help others. I had to help myself to get back up on my feet. I enrolled at a gym and started to diet and exercise. But even that was not easy. I was in a yo-yo diet for eight years. I would lose the weight, but gain it all back eventually. I had to stop and redirect myself to focus on my goals. In January of 2018, I started doing meal prep, calorie counting and cutting out liquid calories. Five days a week I was in the gym, doing strength training and cardio. Beginning in July, I started adding 45 minutes of cardio at the end of my workouts. I felt that I had gained enough muscle and I’m happy to say that from January to December of 2018, I’ve gone down from 220 pounds to 170 pounds. Yes, that is 50 pounds in 12 months! I wouldn’t have achieved this goal if it weren’t for my wife’s support and for my kids who are my constant inspiration. They are the reason why I wanted to do better; to live a longer, healthier life. Yes, t wasn’t easy, but it was all worth it. So if I can do it, you can do it too.