Member Spotlight | Lessons from Triathlete, Dave Ruby

Member Spotlight | Lessons from Triathlete, Dave Ruby

“There’s an entry level for everyone…Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something. Don’t let your head tell you, you can’t.

Dave Ruby

LAF Member and Champion Triathlete

Dave Ruby is a fierce athlete with an impressive drive and an even more impressive attitude. At age 59 and having competed in and conquered Triathlons all over the world, he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  

To give you some perspective, Dave Ruby has raced in Ironman and Xterra Triathlon Championship Competitions on 6 continents and has earned World and National Champion titles in addition to claiming multiple first place wins.   

While his accomplishments are staggering, Ruby sets his focus on the enjoyment of his lifestyle and the benefits of cultivating a healthy body and mind. We interviewed him to find out how he manages his training and stays physically and mentally dialed in. After all, before he was Dave Ruby the Triathlete, he was a surfer, cyclist, and regular LA Fitness gym-goer. 

To show you that the willingness to put in the work, and the enjoyment of that work, can take you from ordinary to extraordinary, allow us to take you into the life of Triathlete, Dave Ruby. 

Where Ruby’s Fitness Journey Began 

Before he started competing in Triathlons, Ruby enjoyed running, surfing, and cycling. One year, he decided he would enter his first Ironman run. As he ran, his body protested, and his mind told him this was something he should never do again. He has competed every year since. 

We asked Ruby what many of you are probably thinking now. What got you back out there after that first punishing experience?  

He responded that he learned to listen to the aches and pains in his body and take breaks to recover. Yes, that first experience was physically and mentally taxing, but caring for his body is what made the difference. It probably also helps that he is surrounded by others who also love the active lifestyle. In fact, his wife also happens to be a Triathlon champion! 

The Transition to Competitive Training 

Transitioning from training for the sake of living a healthy lifestyle, to competitive training for advanced challenges like Triathlons, was another turning point. Ruby reminds us that this isn’t an overnight change and that the body gets faster and more fit the more you continue to workoutwork out and test your limits. 

There seems to be no active intention to give a little more to each training session because he genuinely enjoys the process. Race day is, in his mind, another (but more challenging) workout. We think this is likely the key to it all. The mindset doesn’t sit in the idea that this is just hard work; it revels in the process and enjoys the moment. 

It’s true that for Ruby, sometimes it’s about setting a personal record and seeing himself outperform his prior abilities, but his favorite thing about competing is actually the travel and comradery! He enjoys the landscapes, the wildlife, and the people wherever he goes. 

“I absolutely love traveling to far off places, seeing a new part of the world, [and experiencing] the heart of the area,” says Ruby. You are sure to find him “wandering like a local and experiencing the heart and soul of the cultures” when he’s not competing. 

Preparing for Competition Day 

All year long, Ruby keeps a base in terms of physical activity. “I put in 5 to 6-mile bike rides to train and do a lot of off-road bike rides,” he says. “While I’m out there, I look for wildlife, and enjoy it too. I enjoy the work. I strength train 3 to 4 times a week at the gym and swim,” he explains. Essentially, he strengthens the swimming, running, and cycling muscles so that they are conditioned for the type of work they need to do in competition. 

His mental preparation looks a little different. There’s really no preparation beforehand because “running is a form of meditation” in and of itself, he says; “you get into a zone.” Perhaps the only thing he does differently, is the way he focuses his mental state before competition. He recognizes that “I’m out there to do the best I can for that day. A win isn’t a guarantee, anything can happen” (like a mechanical issue, an injury, etc.). He acknowledges the lack of control over certain environmental, mechanical, and chance-based circumstances and can simply focus on giving the best he has to offer.  

It’s also important not to overdo your preparation before a big race, he notes. “You’re better off going into a race 10% undertrained than 1% over trained,” Ruby says, and we completely agree.  

Ruby’s Advice 

If you’re skeptical of your own ability to live an active lifestyle or accomplish a challenge you’ve set your eyes on, Ruby reminds us that “there’s an entry level for everyone.” Everyone’s starting point will be different and even the best athletes were beginners at some point.  

Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something,” says Ruby. “If you think you can’t do it, that’s an excuse. If it’s doctor’s orders that’s different, but don’t let your head tell you that you can’t.” 

Closing Thoughts 

In the end, whether you are a serious athlete, you exercise for your health, or you’ve struggled to get started, what you can take away from Ruby’s story is this: 

  1. Everyone starts somewhere so don’t be afraid to take the first step 
  2. Choose an activity you get enjoyment from and look forward to 
  3. Surround yourself with people who share the same passion for living an active lifestyle 
  4. Come to terms with the possibility that anything can happen to mentally prepare for big challenges 
  5. Don’t let your head tell you that you can’t accomplish something big 

To hear straight from the man himself, listen to Episode 35 of our Podcast and listen to our discussion with Dave Ruby. Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

 

For length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

Recommended Reading

Train Like a Triathlete – Podcast Ep. 35

Train Like a Triathlete – Podcast Ep. 35


Welcome to the 35th episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, presented by LA Fitness.

On this episode of the Living Healthy Podcast, we sit down with Triathlon Champion, Dave Ruby, to learn what it takes to compete among the best. 

Having competed in Ironman and Xterra Triathlon Championship Competitions on 6 continents, earned World and National Champion titles, and taken home multiple first place wins, Dave Ruby is the man to ask about the sustainability of an active lifestyle at almost 60 years old.  

His answers showcase the importance of training and dedication, but more importantly the enjoyment of what you’re doing and the experience of the moment. Listen in to hear Dave’s perspective and take some of his contagious motivation.

How Are We Doing? 


This podcast should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Timecard Markers – Train Like a Triathlete – Podcast Ep. 35   

Intro 

 0:01 

Introduction of Triathlete, Dave Ruby 

2:42 

How Long Dave Has Been Competing 

3:51 

What is an Ironman Competition? 

4:10 

How Dave Got His Start 

5:11 

How Many Times a Year do You Race? 

6:31 

How Do You Train for an Ironman Competition? 

7:23 

How Does Your Mentality Work in Competition? 

10:08 

What Do You Do in the Gym to Prepare? 

11:55 

What Does Your Gym Routine Look Like? 

13:05 

How Do You Balance Training and Recovery? 

15:12 

What is it Like to Run Such Long Distances? 

17:33 

When the Race Gets Tough, How Do You Push Through? 

19:10 

Have You Ever Had to Stop During a Race? 

21:12 

What Do You Like the Most About Competing? 

23:13 

Racing in Alaska and Hawaii – Moose and Open Waters 

25:06 

What is Your Process for Setting a Goal for Yourself? 

28:00 

Do You Have a Favorite Place or Competition? 

29:13 

Do You Have to Train Differently for Different Climates? 

31:52 

Actionable Advice 

34:49 

Outro 

36:44 


Recommended Podcast Episodes 

Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Coping with GERD and Its Symptoms

Statistics show that “more than 60 million American adults experience heartburn at least once a month, and more than 15 million adults suffer daily from heartburn.”1  

This month is GERD awareness month, and while it isn’t a fancy name for heartburn, heartburn is a major symptom of this disease. We’d like to explain what it is and share some ways to help treat and prevent its symptoms.

What is GERD?

Fresh mint leaves
Cup of coffee

GERD, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, is a digestive disorder that causes the contents of your stomach to move back into your esophagus.1

If you are familiar with acid reflux, another way to understand GERD is that it is a more severe and recurring form of acid reflux.  

The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn. With acid reflux, the heartburn may be brought on by certain foods or beverages. With GERD, the triggers are similar, but you may experience heartburn 2 or more times a week!2  

Some GERD triggers include: 

  • Chocolate 
  • Peppermint
  • Fried or fatty foods (this includes cheese and avocado) 
  • Coffee 
  • Alcoholic beverages 
  • Citrus fruits and juices 
  • Tomato products 
  • Peppers 

According to the Mayo clinic, additional symptoms, aside from heartburn, include “regurgitation of food or sour liquid [vomiting], difficulty swallowing, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain — especially while lying down at night.”2 

Grapefruit
Red peppers

Who Can Get It?

Anyone can develop GERD or experience varying degrees of its symptoms. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that you are more likely to experience GERD if: 

  • You are overweight, obese, or pregnant: This is because the extra pressure on your abdomen can cause the muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach to relax or weaken. 
  • You take certain medications like: 
    • Asthma medication 
    • Calcium channel blockers 
    • Antihistamines 
    • Painkillers 
    • Sedatives 
    • Antidepressants 
  • You are a smoker, or you are exposed to secondhand smoke

Natural Remedies

Glass of Water with spoon of baking soda
Girl blowing bubble gum balloon

The Fisher-Titus Healthy Living Team, of the Fisher-Titus Medical Center, composed this list of 7 natural home remedies for GERD. You can view the full details about each remedy on their website here 

  1. Baking Soda: 1 tsp with 8 ounces of water to neutralize stomach acid 
  2. Chewing Gum: Chew sugar-free gum 30 minutes after eating 
  3. Don’t Lie Down After Eating: Eat 3-4 hours before you lie down 
  4. Eat Low or No-Acid Fruits: Fully ripened Bananas, Apples, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, and Watermelon 
  5. Ginger Tea: Consume before meals to prevent symptoms 
  6. Mustard: 1 tablespoon of mustard to ease symptoms 
  7. Chamomile Tea: 1 cup 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime 
Assortment of Low Acid Fruits
Cup of Chamomile Tea

Lifestyle Changes Can Help 

In addition to avoiding certain foods and beverages, lifestyle changes can help you mitigate the symptoms and avoid flareups.  

The Mayo Clinic suggests that affected individuals try: 

  • Losing excess weight 
  • Eating smaller meals 
  • Raising the head of the bed 
  • Avoiding tobacco 
  • Not wearing tight fitting clothes around the abdomen 

 Is There a Treatment for GERD? 

Many doctors will prescribe nutrition and lifestyle changes to treat GERD and that’s oftentimes enough for milder cases. Over-the-counter antacids are also commonly recommended.  

For more severe cases, doctors may go a step further and recommend prescription medications to help manage symptoms, order an endoscopy to look for irritation or inflammation in the esophageal tissue, or they may order an upper gastrointestinal x-ray to rule out other potential conditions.1  

If you have any concerns about your gastroesophageal health, talk to your doctor to get personalized information and the most accurate course of action for your unique situation.  

For our registered dietitian’s insights on spicy foods and what they do to your insides, check out her answer to this reader’s question on Hot Peppers! Or, take a look at her answer to this question on Inflammatory Foods and their effects on your GI tract. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. “GERD: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Remedies for Relief.” Edited by Minesh Khatri MD, WebMD, 2019, www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/reflux-disease-gerd-1#1.

     

  2. Kashyap, Purna. “Acid Reflux and GERD: The Same Thing?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heartburn/expert-answers/heartburn-gerd/faq-20057894. 

Member Spotlight | The Value of Personal Training

Member Spotlight | The Value of Personal Training

“Throughout our sessions [my trainer] was able to tailor specific routines for me and quickly adjust as required for my preferences and accommodate for chronic injuries.”

Martyn D.

LAF Member, LA Fitness

An Unexpected Turning Point 

Martyn D. is an LA Fitness member who changed his lifestyle when he least expected. With a busy work schedule and a long-standing shoulder injury, Martyn found himself “in a slump, with little to no change in [his] routines and inspiration.” 

One day, he won a few free training sessions at LA Fitness and was hooked ever since. “I enjoyed them so much I decided to continue for the 6-month program,” Martyn says. 

If you’re hesitant to start a workout routine due to an injury, or if you’re in an emotional funk, Martyn’s story is the perfect example to showcase how proper guidance from a qualified instructor can help you move towards your goals.

Personal Training Made a Big Difference 

The key to personal training is the fact that it is customized for you. It’s not just about having someone tell you what to do.  

Martyn appreciated that his trainer, Patrick, “was approachable and easy to talk to” and that he took the time to really flesh out his personal fitness goals. 

“Throughout our sessions he was able to tailor specific routines for me and quickly adjust as required for my preferences and accommodate for chronic injuries,” explains Martyn, “he was also flexible with my schedule when I had limited time with work.” 

Overcoming Injuries 

Injuries can pose a myriad of obstacles when it comes to working out. Some people will advise you to use the muscles lightly, others will advise you to avoid all activities that may strain the muscles further.  

One advantage of having a qualified trainer is in your access to their knowledgebase on muscle recovery and on proper form. Martyn shares that despite a shoulder injury that had been bothering him for years, Patrick “has been able to significantly help by strengthening weak areas and improving [his] form, both of which allow [him] to lift more.” 

What’s Next for Martyn? 

“Exercising has always been a stress outlet for me with a sense of accomplishment afterwards” says Martyn. However, the added improvement really boosts those feelings. Call me a glutton for punishment but I plan on staying active for as long as I can. I still browse online videos for different exercises to try out but having a knowledgeable pro on hand is invaluable. Plus, he would not let me slackoff, which I appreciate afterwards. 

Closing Thoughts 

Having the help of a personal trainer can make a world of difference. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete who is looking for new ways to test your abilities, or just starting out, some knowledgeable guidance can go a long way. Martyn is living proof that personalized training, paired with a commitment to your goals, can produce real changes that you can be proud of. 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at blog@lafitness.com for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 


 

For length and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided.

Recommended Reading

What Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Do for Your Health

What Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Do for Your Health

November 7th was National Bittersweet Chocolate and Almonds Day! With this tasty treat still on everyone’s mind, let’s talk about what has been learned about the benefits of this bittersweet indulgence. Perhaps because researchers just wanted to prove that chocolate can be healthy, the work has been done to study its nutrients and their effects on the body.  

By now, you may already know some of what they have unearthed. First and foremost, that bittersweet chocolate, that is at least 65% cacao, wins the nutrition battle over milk chocolate. In case you haven’t heard, or if you’d like to know more, allow us to give you a few reasons why you should add some dark chocolate (and almonds) to your snack drawer. 

Dark Chocolate and Almonds are Both Loaded with Antioxidants

Antioxidant and Free Radical Diagram

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

Antioxidants are those agents that help shield your body from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can cause cells to lose their ability to function normally.1

Essentially, free radicals hang out in your body with only one electron. Electrons like to be in pairs, so these free radicals seek out healthy atoms in your body to steal one of their electrons. When those healthy atoms lose an electron to a free radical, this causes damage to it.

Antioxidants help by giving free radicals the electron they need so they don’t steal it from other cells. 

A study comparing cocoa powder and dark chocolate with super-fruit powders and juices found that the former had the same, or significantly larger, amounts of antioxidants and flavanols!2

The article explains that cacao powder successfully competes with or outperforms the antioxidant power of blueberry, cranberry, and pomegranate powders.2 It’s pretty nice to know that cacao seeds qualify as a super food! 

 

Antioxidants and Flavanols

We should back up a bit here, however, because you might be wondering what flavanols are and why you need them. 

Flavanols are interesting because, according to a chocolate-making company called Ombar, they are actually very mildly toxic! This toxicity, however, prompts your body to produce more of its own antioxidants.3 This might be why chocolate is able to pack such a healthful punch. Not only does it contain antioxidants, it also stimulates your body’s natural production. 

As for almonds, eating them with the skin will get you more antioxidants than eating almonds without the skin.4 You can enjoy them roasted or raw, but the key is in that outer protective layer. Next time you reach for a bar of dark chocolate, choose one that contains unskinned almonds. 

 

Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Both Benefit Your Blood 

They Can Lower Your Blood Pressure:

The flavanols in dark chocolate are partly responsible for the lowering of your blood pressure,2 while magnesium is behind this benefit in almonds.5 Fortunately, almonds contain 20% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium.5 

They Can Lower Blood Sugar:

In dark chocolate, the antioxidants may help your body use its insulin more efficiently, and as a result, this can help lower your blood sugar.6 In almonds, magnesium comes back to play another role. It happens to help control your blood sugar by increasing your insulin sensitivity.5  

They Can Help Prevent Blood Clots:

A study on cocoa’s effects on platelet activation and function concluded that cocoa had “an Aspirin-like effect” on blood.7 Almonds, which are naturally high in Vitamin E, have a blood-thinning effect for this reason.8 

Dark Chocolate and Almonds Can Improve Your Brain Function 

Strokes and Dementia

A study was conducted to measure the brain’s responses to cognitive tasks after eating flavanol-rich cocoa. The most notable conclusion drawn from this study was that the cocoa significantly increased blood flow to gray matter in the brain.9 The study suggests that this means cocoa flavanols have the potential to aid in the treatment of strokes and dementia.9 

Memory Problems and Neuro-Degenerative Diseases

Almonds, on the other hand, can help protect the brain from age-related memory problems and neurodegenerative diseases.10 This is because they contain nutrients like tocopherol, folate, mono- and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and polyphenols. In separate studies, these nutrients have “shown promise as possible dietary supplements to prevent or delay the onset of age-associated cognitive dysfunction.”10 

 

While technically these neurological effects have been observed by researchers, it’s still wise to take this information with a grain of salt. There is not enough information to prove that eating dark chocolate or almonds will improve your brain function by statistically significant numbers.  

We think this information just goes to show that what your body needs can be found in an assortment of natural foods and ingredients, whereas highly processed foods strip most of those benefits away.  

How Much is Healthy for You? 

Dark Chocolate

We’d like to say, after learning the many benefits, that we can eat as much dark chocolate and almonds as we’d like. Unfortunately, we’re too aware of the truth in the statement that “it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.”  

Looking closer at what we’ve shared with you so far, you may notice that all the benefits of dark chocolate lie in the cocoa powder. The other ingredients in your chocolate bar, like sugar, sodium, and saturated fat, do more harm than good in large amounts.  

The recommended portion of dark chocolate that allows you to reap the benefits and avoid too much of those other ingredients, is about an ounce and a half per day.11 That’s about half or 1/3 of a standard chocolate bar. 

Almonds

As for almonds, the recommended portion is about one ounce, or 23 kernels.12 Because almonds are high in calories, fat, and fiber, eating too many can lead to weight gain as well as gastrointestinal problems from the excess of fiber. So, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water if you’re planning on having more than a small handful.  

For more healthy snacking ideas, read our Super Snacking Guide. Or, listen to our podcast on How to Read a Nutrition Label to prepare yourself for your next grocery trip. To access our monthly blog post highlights, subscribe to our newsletter today! 

Sources:

  1. Liou, Stephanie. “About Free Radical Damage.” HOPES Huntington’s Disease Information, 11 Oct. 2015, hopes.stanford.edu/about-free-radical-damage/.
  2. Crozier, Stephen J, et al. “Cacao Seeds Are a ‘Super Fruit’: A Comparative Analysis of Various Fruit Powders and Products.” BMC Chemistry, BioMed Central, 7 Feb. 2011, bmcchem.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1752-153X-5-5. 
  3. Ombar. “Flavanols in Cacao – What Are They and What Do They Do?” Ombar, 2017, www.ombar.co.uk/blogs/news/flavanols-in-cacao-what-are-they-and-what-do-they-do. 
  4. Garrido, I, et al. “Polyphenols and Antioxidant Properties of Almond Skins: Influence of Industrial Processing.” Journal of Food Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18298714. 
  5. Leech, Joe. “9 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Almonds.” Healthline, 6 Sept. 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-proven-benefits-of-almonds. \
  6. Doheny, Kathleen. “Pick Dark Chocolate for Health Benefits.” WebMD, WebMD, 24 Apr. 2012, www.webmd.com/diet/news/20120424/pick-dark-chocolate-health-benefits#1. 
  7. Rein, Dietrich, et al. “Cocoa Inhibits Platelet Activation and Function.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 July 2000, academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/72/1/30/4729373. 
  8. Doucette, Chrystal. “Almonds As a Blood Thinner.” Healthfully, 15 Oct. 2019, healthfully.com/485795-almonds-as-a-blood-thinner.html. 
  9. Francis, S T, et al. “The Effect of Flavanol-Rich Cocoa on the FMRI Response to a Cognitive Task in Healthy Young People.” Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461. 
  10. Batool, Zehra, et al. “Repeated Administration of Almonds Increases Brain Acetylcholine Levels and Enhances Memory Function in Healthy Rats While Attenuates Memory Deficits in Animal Model of Amnesia.” Brain Research Bulletin, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26548495. 
  11. DeNoon, Daniel J. “A Dark Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/diet/news/20040601/dark-chocolate-day-keeps-doctor-away#1. 
  12. Wolf, Nicki. “Side Effects of Eating Too Many Almonds.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 8 Feb. 2019, www.livestrong.com/article/468243-side-effects-of-eating-a-lot-of-almonds/. 

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