Alpha Stories

Published on Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Roger and what’s “just out of reach”

Roger and what’s “just out of reach”

What would you like to be able to do, that you can’t quite do now?

What’s just out of your reach?

If it’s something that requires breathing a little better, or being slightly stronger than you are right now, Roger Bray has some suggestions.

When Bray was diagnosed with Alpha-1, he knew his life was going to be different. For a start, he’d have to quit smoking. One thing it didn’t change was his will to work hard and his desire to continue doing the things that he enjoys.

“I think we have to do what we can with our lives, given our limitations,” Bray said.

That’s when Bray developed his “just out of reach” philosophy. He wanted to be able to jog again. So he made it his goal to be able to jog around the entire track in his neighborhood park, without running out of breath. But he didn’t start by jogging. He started with a slow walk. Gradually advancing to a slow jog, Bray got closer to reaching his goal. Six months later, he accomplished it.

Now, as an AlphaNet coordinator, Bray is spreading his words of wisdom to others, and his philosophy is becoming a popular trend throughout the alpha community.

Bray helped Erika Garloch throughout her physical therapy. Between his encouragement and her determination, Garloch avoided being on oxygen during the day. When she completed her therapy program, she took her exercises home with her. She watches her diet and continues to do her routines to make sure she doesn’t regress. Her newest goal is to be able to ride a mountain bike with her son by the end of the summer.

“You have to make a decision whether you are going to let your condition control you, or if you are going to control it,” said Garloch. “I don’t want to go back to where I used to be, so I’m going to control it.”

John Morton also believes that staying active will prevent regression. When his breathing became harder, he realized he had to give up mowing the lawn. It was a task that he didn’t really like, but the idea of not being able to do it was motivation enough. He set a goal each time he set out to mow the lawn. Starting with one row and working his way back, each day going a bit further. Now, even on oxygen, Morton is able to make it to the end of grassy field and back.

Pamela Sims also works day by day to reach her goal. She follows a low-carb diet and an exercise routine, that have helped her lose 18 pounds so far. She works out to a walking-in-place tape that only uses the amount of space that her arms can reach. So far, she can do fifteen minutes without stopping, but her goal is to reach the thirty minute mark without feeling “devastated.”

When Mike Dewald heard Bray’s philosophy, he used it to help him lose 40 lbs. Last year, Dewald had difficulty breathing. He couldn’t go fifty feet without losing his breath. So he set his goal to lose weight. He joined Weight Watchers and began using the treadmill. Dewald admits it was a slow start. There were days when he was winded at five minutes on the lowest setting, but eventually he was able to work his way up to about 25 minutes on a higher setting. Now that he’s lost the extra weight and continues to walk, Dewald says his breathing is “tremendous.”

“When this lung thing hit, I was bound and determined not to let it slow me down on the things I wanted to do,” Dewald said.

Bray’s basic tips on an exercise program: First, consult your doctor. Exercise is meant to be a step-up program, and should be started on a beginner’s level. Stretching is a great way to build flexibility in the muscles, without being too strenuous. Or, you can start a walking program. Just remember to make your goal reasonable. If your goal is to be able to walk through the grocery store, then start by taking some extra steps around your house. Walk down to the mailbox or take the longer way to the next room of the house. The key is to start slow.

Bray, Garloch, Morton and Dewald all set goals based on their capabilities. Though it took time, each one started on a basic level and allowed their bodies to gradually adapt to their exercise program. They noticed an improvement in their breathing patterns too – it held them back less. They were able to climb to the next level of intensity and before they knew it, all of them where doing things that they thought were out of reach; things that they couldn’t do before.

As Bray said, “If a person works hard enough on what’s possible, sooner or later he or she can do the impossible.”

For helpful information on how to start an exercise program that’s right for you, visit the Big Fat Reference Guide.