Mike DeGroot Q&A
MF: How did fitness help you after the accident?
MDG: I had completed a half Ironman just a few months before the accident and I was in the process of training for a full Ironman when I was hit. I had over a dozen doctors and surgeons who worked tirelessly on me for the next few weeks; they all concurred that had I not been in the shape I was in, I would not have even survived the blood loss and trauma caused by it. Fitness was more than goal, it was almost as important as breathing. I lost about 30 lbs during my three month stay at the hospital. Physical therapy was mandatory just so I could regain the strength to sit up, stay awake for more than 15 minutes, and for my cognitive function as well as my emotional well-being. Doing those exercises felt like going home.
MF: What is your workout routine like now?
MDG: I have obstacles that I need to overcome; scar tissue which impedes movement, missing 2/3 of a lung which impedes all cardio, a heart condition which lowers the oxygen rate delivered to my muscles and the worst of all the injuries: a brain injury which destroys my stamina causing me to feel fatigued all the time. Despite all of these, I am still at the gym 6 days a week. I still do my cardio, I use stationary machines or other equipment to compensate for my injuries BUT I will NOT quit.
MF: What about mentally—how has maintaining a fitness routine helped you to stay positive?
MDG: Going back to the gym on a regular basis felt like going home. When I began I was mentally a mess. My body was covered with scars and I had lost most of the muscle mass I worked so hard to gain for the Ironman competitions. In addition I had a brain injury which gave me loss of memory, loss of high level cognitive function, and my speech was severely impacted. I went from being a social person to an introvert. Working out helped me see progress very quickly. Starting with a daily workout routine at my local gym also helped me meet other people which began to get me social again. These things helped me go from being depressed to being upbeat.
MF: What is your advice for guys who are struggling with any sort of obstacle?
MDG: Easy, I tell everyone “ NEVER GIVE UP.”
MF: Your mantra?
MDG: “Quitting is not an option.”
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