May 23, 2012
Recently, Al Maxey undertook to ride his mountain bike 400 miles along the California coast, up and down mountains, through forests, and past signs that warned visitors to beware of mountain lions. When mountains were too steep or too rocky, he pushed his bike. Painful blisters made the experience extra memorable. This, however, was not his longest journey, or his most difficult.
His most challenging journey began in a doctor’s office in late 2009. “I weighed almost 300 pounds. I was pre-diabetic. My blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol -- the doctor had nothing good to say about any of them.”
Maxey remembered, “It was a like a switch turned on in my head and that was it. I didn’t eat pizza between January and April, and it almost killed me. I went to the Fauquier Health Wellness Center because it’s a very warm, friendly place. Everyone feels welcome there, even if you’re overweight. At first I would walk on the treadmill and lift weights a few times a week. The staff at the Wellness Center was very encouraging and provided guidance about exercise. I tried to eat only unprocessed foods, real foods. I was obsessed with keeping track of my calories. I’m a numbers guy, so that was something I could do to track my progress. The weight began to fall off.”
Maxey began to use a stationary bike at night. His wife Paula said, “He would make sure we were all settled in for the night and go down to the basement and ride for a couple of hours. In the first month and a half, I saw a big difference.”
Small goals were replaced by big goals, and Maxey soon started running in 5K and 10K races, and pushed himself to participate in long bike tours. His first was the Tour de Cure for diabetes research, over a hundred miles in Northern Virginia. He also logged two marathons and a triathlon. He said, “During the triathlon I couldn’t wait to get out of the water. I knew I could run and bike, but in the water I thrash around until it’s time to get out. I sink. I just try not to drown while slowly moving forward.”
Al Maxey weighs in these days between 215 and 220 pounds. He eats pizza, but not often. He is certified in personal training and as a Spinning instructor, and teaches at the Wellness Center.
Maxey lights up as he talks about his new personal training job at the Wellness Center. “I just love working with my personal training clients because I can see their potential, I can see whathey are going to be able to do before they can. I was the overweight kid. I remember those physical fitness tests where you would just hope the class bully wasn’t standing behind you ready to make fun of you when you failed. I understand how that feels.”
Maxey helps his clients develop the best workouts, but also talks with them about nutrition. “Most are not eating enough. Most people try to starve themselves when they are trying to losweight, but that’s not the answer. Healthy amounts of the right foods, and lots of exercise, that’s what works.”
He says his motivation every day throughout his transformation has been his family. He and Paula have three girls aged 6, 11 and 13. “When we changed what we were eating, we all changed. The girls took up Zumba with their mom and have cycled and run in local races.” Maxey said, “It’s changed what they know they can do. They ask, ‘How many miles is it?’ and say, ‘Oh, I can do that.’ They go to school with a 10K race T-shirt and feel good about that.” Paula Maxey has run one marathon with her husband and is contemplating another.
Maxey admits that it hasn’t been easy, trying to manage his job as a systems analyst, his training and his family. “Twice a week I rush home from work, pick up the kids, go home to let the dogs out, take the girls to soccer or dance, drop them off at home and head up to the Wellness Center to train.”
Last summer Maxey treated his daughters to a mini boot camp. “For 40 days, we all got up at 5:30 and ran and worked out until it was time for me to go to work. They loved it. By the end, they were waking me up saying, “C’mon Daddy, let’s go!”
Maxey credits Paula with making it all possible. “Paula has picked up the slack for me, allowed me to buy an expensive new bike, handled everything on Saturday mornings when I went out to ride, ate a lot of dinners without me.” Paula Maxey shrugged when asked about her part in her husband’s success. “I am just happy my husband is going to be around to see our grandchildren.”
Al Maxey Leads Team Fauquier in Tour de Cure
The Tour de Cure for diabetes research was the first bike race Al Maxey participated in two years ago, so it holds special meaning for him. This year he decided to share the experience with 20 or so new friends.
He recruited and is helping to train fellow biking enthusiasts for the 107.5-mile 2012 Tour de Cure on June 3. The event will include about 1,700 bikers; it winds from Reston to Purcellville, then to Fauquier and back to Reston, and will take six to eight hours to complete.
Fauquier Health is sponsoring the team by providing team uniforms, and the Wellness Center donated time in its exercise and cycling studio so the team could ride during the winter months.
At least one member of Team Fauquier is a marathon runner, some have already cycled in races, and several have never trained before. Maxey is using his expertise as a personal trainer to make sure everyone is ready for the rigors of a 100-mile ride. At a recent training session at the center, Team Fauquier members chatted about what distances they’d logged that week while they warmed up with a few easy miles. As the music got louder and faster and the riders pushed themselves, there was less talking and more sweating.
Maxey said, “The Wellness Center has been unbelievably supportive, and some of our team members have joined the center as a result. It’s been great.”
The website for the team is http://teamfauquier.org/tdc.