Our Spotlight Member for June is the incredible Bob Fields! We are so happy to have Bob as part of our Breakthrough Family – he works hard both in and out of the gym, is kind and generous, and his million dollar smile lights up the room!
BREAKTHROUGH: Good morning, Bob! Thank you so much for taking some time to chat with me today and to share a little bit about what’s been going on with you. It’s been about 11 months that you’ve been training with us now…
BOB: Is it really? Wow!
BREAKTHROUGH: It feels like time has flown by, but then time has been so weird right now anyways. I know so many good things about you and the things that you do. I know that when you joined us, you were already really consistent with exercising on your own. But you came to us for a little bit more specific stuff. And I am wondering if you can tell me a bit about what it was that brought you to us in the first place.
BOB: You know, I have never been really heavy, and am fairly careful with what I eat, but I have always had a bit of a stomach. And I was really tired of looking at a stomach, knowing that 3-5 times a week, I am on an elliptical trainer at a pretty high setting for 30 minutes, and I am working so hard. I am burning a lot of calories. When I get off it, I am shot. But here I am, and I am really not losing that stomach. And then I saw on TV you know, all these crazy things you can buy to lose stomach fat. Making a long story short, I think I tried one product and actually returned it. I didn’t really buy into those programs. Then we get our haircut right next door to you at the salon and so my wife said, “ You know there is a gym right next door to the hair salon.” It might have been you at the front desk when she came in, and then eventually I came in talked to you and I signed up! The goal at that point was for me to reduce my stomach somewhat. So again, lots and lots of cardiovascular exercise and a fair amount of walking with my dog and some golf, a little bit of tennis, but I would still have this stomach. So, I was very happy that you proposed this program for me. That how it started to reduce the stomach, but I really feel like you have introduced me to really training for health.
BREAKTHROUGH: Yes, that’s great!
BOB: I can do that in conjunction with the cardiovascular exercise and walking my dog, so I would say one way or another, I probably train every single day. Doing something. Today we were on the golf course and later on, we will probably be– we have one room where we have an elliptical and a treadmill. My wife is on one and I am one the other. We will do that for 30 minutes. Tomorrow we will do something else. I really feel like the strength training has kind of put everything together. I want to make sure you understand, it’s never been for me about a macho image. I know I am not ever going to be on the cover of a magazine. It’s all about health, and you have introduced me to the fact that strength training is really about health as well. It’s not just cardiovascular.
BREAKTHROUGH: Right. It is interesting that there is still this stigma that, “Oh if I lift weights, it’s only because I want to look a certain way or be Mr. Olympia or whatever.” And it really isn’t that. Many of us just want the benefits that strength training brings. I think you have done such an amazing job with taking care of your cardiovascular health and having all of that in place. And now you have just added another piece of the puzzle to your overall well-being. That is really great! And you have been so consistent with keeping it up even during these really challenging ‘stay-at-home’ times, and with everything going on. So, what’s been your motivation? What has been keeping you going with all of that?
BOB: Well, you know again, I want to be able continue having the wonderful, wonderful life that I have. I want to be able to continue working. I am doing my work now 49 years. Of course, I have been off a couple months like a lot of people were. But I did go back to work a couple of weeks ago, two days a week. And, for me, it’s the whole view of mental health, of physical health, of a feeling of well-being and I feel like work is an important part of our lives. I reflect back on my father who worked into his late 80’s, and my grandfather the same thing, and my uncle the same thing. And it is not like they had any hobbies or anything. They didn’t. Work was their whole lives. But you know, I think, working for all of us is important. And in order for me to be able to continue working, I have to have good health.
BOB: So, it’s as you said. These are all pieces of the puzzle. And I think, the working and the exercise and a good attitude keeps me young!
BREAKTHROUGH: Ha, ha! I love it. I agree. I definitely think that, certainly with what you do, and I hope you can share about that, it is this feeling of being of service and knowing that the things that you do make a tremendous difference in the lives of so many people. Oh my gosh! Can you share a little bit about what your work is?
BOB: Sure. I do general dentistry as you know, and I was in private practice for 45 years. I really wasn’t planning on stopping, and then somebody one day came along and said, “I want to buy this practice.” So, I sold and I immediately got bored. I went to work for a company called Northeast Valley Health Corporation, a federally funded non-profit. They are an old company. They were around in the 70’s. I was actually doing their pediatric dentistry in the 70’s when they didn’t have any dental clinics. And now they have 8-10 big offices in the greater San Fernando Valley. So, I went to work for them two days a week. I work in two clinics. One of the clinics I work in, in Van Nuys, ironically is 5 blocks from my old office. We treat people who are very ill. Most of them are on the streets. So, they are medically compromised. Most of them are HIV/AIDS patients. Most of them do not have any homes except for the street. Most of them have social problems. Most of them have psychiatric problems. It is an honor to be able to help them. It keeps you grounded. It is like we were talking a little while ago. I am so grateful for everything that I have. So many people are not as fortunate as I am. So, I want to be able to continue my work and continue helping these people. It is a blessing when you can help somebody who deserves it and who is grateful for it. And the other nice thing about the position that I am in is that I am there long enough where I am seeing these patients on a reoccurring basis, so I am able to develop relationships with them. It is not just a one-time treatment and they are gone. It is just marvelous to be able to help people. It is such a good feeling.
BREAKTHROUGH: It’s so true. We know a lot of people who do work that does ask a lot of you – like yours. It asks a lot. And it is not always easy, I am sure. But I think that when you take the time like you do to prioritize taking care of yourself. It is not a selfish act to do that. It actually makes you a better co-carer for other people. It gives you the strength to keep doing the work you need to do. When you do push the pause button for just a few minutes a day to say, “No, I need to exercise. I need to take this time for me, or I need to take ten minutes to meditate, or take my time in the morning to experience gratitude.” When you have those practices in place, it is tremendously helpful. You’re really a walking, living, breathing example of that. So that is just an amazing thing to see.
BOB: Well, I try, but there is also a selfish aspect for it. I want to stay healthy and stay as a young as I can so I can continue to be part of this great family that I am blessed to be in. This is just a marvelous group of people that I call my family. I am just so blessed and many people, Kati, don’t have that! You will never hear me say that I am a saint, but I honestly do the best I can every single day.
BREAKTHROUGH: One hundred percent, I believe that! I have no doubt in my mind. And that is just one of the reasons why I wanted to chat with you, especially when RT said, “you know Bob went back to work after all this.” I was not surprised!
BOB: Well I have to tell you, it is really been challenging because I have been seeing AIDS patients since the 70’s, you know. I have to wear, of course, a gown, and I was wearing gloves before they told us to wear gloves. I wear surgical loupes, and I have always worn a mask. But now times are different. It is not just a surgical mask. Now we wear what is called an N95 mask, which protects us from the virus particles. On top of the N95 mask, we wear a level 3 mask, which protects us from some of the blow back of fluids from the patient. And then we put on our loupes, and then we put on a face shield on top of that. And then – I have to work with all of this stuff on! I honestly feel like at times I am one of pilots in that space capsule that took off the other day.
BREAKTHROUGH: I was going to say! It sounds like astronaut gear almost!
BOB: It is something, and it is exhausting. I am kind of developing a routine into it, but it is not easy. Even though again, because of the patients I have been seeing all these years, I’ve always had to be so careful with the PPE. But now it is even more so because none of us actually know what to expect. Is this going to happen again when the weather turns cold? And who knows? I remember- you were not even a dream yet for your folks – I remember when in 1955 when the polio vaccine came out, Dr. Jonas Salk. I was 11 years old, and everybody in this country thought this is a miracle. This is amazing! People are not going to die of polio anymore or be disabled from polio. And this will happen with this Covid-19 as well, but it is a process. But until then, and you have heard it over and over and over these last three months, we have to get through it in the best way we can.
BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah, exactly. Well, I am glad that you are taking all of those precautions, even though, like you said, it is tough. But we have to do what we have to do to take care of ourselves and each other. So, you are doing it.
BOB: That is exactly what it is about, Kati. We have to take care of each other.
BREAKTHROUGH: Yes, in all the ways that we possibly can, and part of that is taking care of ourselves. Of course, we all want to be able to be with our families for as long as possible and be as healthy as possible to enjoy life as best as we can. So, I think you have probably shared it in what you said, but, in conclusion, we always like to hear, what is your “Why.” Is there is anything on top of the things you’ve already shared in terms of your “why” for taking care of your health and training?
BOB: That’s really it. You’ve heard it. I just want to be here to continue to enjoy life and to be a part of this family and contribute to the community.
BREAKTHROUGH: Perfect! I just love hearing all of that and I am so glad that you are doing well, and your family is all doing well.
BOB: Thank you, Kati.