Thom’s face fills a screen at Renu Med Spa highlighting problem areas on his face. When they run the morphing software, he gets to see what he would look like sans “turkey skin” (his words) under his neck.
Renu uses the state-of-the-art Visia system which evaluates the skin in terms of spots, pores, porphyrins, wrinkles, texture and UV spots.
Dr. Philip S. Schoenfeld, medical director of Renu Med Spa in Chevy Chase, right.
‘‘The turkey neck and hooded lids,” says Thom without a moment’s hesitation.
Schoenfeld pulls up Thom’s profile and, using morphing software, eliminates the excess folds under Thom’s chin, making the neck tauter. Thom’s eyebrows rise in appreciation of the portrait unfolding before him.
‘‘You would require a face lift to get rid of the turkey neck,” says the doctor. ‘‘But an argument could be made that the hooding of your eye lids is the priority.” The puffy, droopy lids could, eventually, interfere with Thom’s vision.
Thom concurs. ‘‘If I were to have anything done, it would be to my eyelids.”
The consultation at Renu is part of the $25,000-plus Healthy Challenge package designed to help Thom get fit and regain optimal health. Over 12 weeks, more than two dozen sponsors throughout Montgomery County will provide products and services as part of The Gazette’s Healthy Challenge.
After meeting with the doctor, Thom undergoes a complexion analysis. Renu uses the state-of-the-art Visia system which evaluates the skin in terms of spots, pores, porphyrins, wrinkles, texture and UV spots.
Thom’s skin is in good shape given his age, 63, and high levels of sun exposure. Thom serves in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and loves to spend time aboard his 29-year-old, 23- foot Cutty Cabin Cruiser. ‘‘The melanin in your skin has served you well,” says
a registered nurse.
Thom‘s biggest issue, according to the Visia Complexion Analysis report, is the uneven texture of skin on his face.
As a nurse leads Thom to a beautifully appointed treatment room, she talks to him about ways to smooth his complexion. The chemical peel and microdermabrasion are two of the most commonly used techniques, she says.
The aesthetician cleans Thom’s face and applies a light moisturizer. She suggests that at his next appointment, Thom begin microdermabrasion to rejuvenate his skin and help diminish the appearance of wrinkles and some patches of hyperpigmentation. ‘‘What we’re going to do is irritate your skin, rough it up a bit,” says a nurse. ‘‘That will increase blood flow to the area and help slough off dead cells.”
The nurse recommends visits once a week. ‘‘That will make it therapeutic and stimulate cell growth,” she says.
In preparation for the appointment, a nurse gives Thom a variety of skin care products from the exclusive men’s line of Physician’s Choice of Arizona. In addition to providing great results, ‘‘It’s not super smelly and there are only a few steps,” says a nurse.
As she explains each of the package’s contents, a nurse reminds Thom to pay special attention to the day cream. ‘‘It has sunscreen in it,” she says, ‘‘and you’ll need that when we begin the microdermabrasion since some of your built-in protection will be temporarily lessened.”
Of particular interest to Thom is the collagen eye cream. ‘‘You might find this gives your lids added tightness and support,” she says, and suggests he use it twice a day. ‘‘It should also help with the puffiness.”
Thom’s eyelids are drenched in sweat several days later during a martial arts class at Jin Pal Hapkido in Gaithersburg. Master Eric K. Kim, a fifth dan black belt, leads the class through a series of stretches, kicks, punches and blocks. Twenty minutes into the session, as the kicking begins in earnest, Thom takes a break to calm his soaring heart rate. ‘‘It’s amazing what you forget in 30 years,” he says referring to the fourth-degree brown belt he had earned in gogureu, another Korean martial art.
Hapkido, born in the 14th century, was handed down from one generation to another within the Korean royal family. Literally translated, hapkido means the way (do) of power (ki) and coordination (hap). Kim, who learned the martial art from his father, a tenth dan black belt and former personal bodyguard to Korean President Park Chung Hee in the early 1960s, compares hapkido to flowing water in that it ‘‘allows the defender to flow around and through an aggressor’s attack while manipulating the aggressor’s power to his or her own advantage.”
Seeking to improve his agility, flexibility and coordination, Thom is convinced that hapkido will help him regain those lost abilities. With just three classes under his orange belt, Thom has noticed some improvement.
Today he is paired with classmate Francis Kanyunyi. The two men face each other on the padded floor and bow. Kim steps between the pair to demonstrate a combination. ‘‘As the punch comes at me, I slide back using a high block, then double punch to the chest,” he says.
Thom and his partner practice the move some 10 times each, first slowly and deliberately to ensure the precision of the moves, then with added speed. Kim intervenes at times correcting or demonstrating. From time to time, the master has students face a wall of mirrors and watch themselves.
The combinations build on the stretches and exercises done at the beginning of the class. As Kim demonstrates the wrist grab, he reminds the students of an exercise they had mastered called the eagle claw. While Kim makes the grab look simple, Thom and Kanyunyi practice the defensive move over and over before getting a handle on it.
One thing Thom is beginning to get a handle on is his smoking. While not technically part of the Healthy Challenge, Thom is trying to kick his 30-year habit as he gets back in shape. ‘‘You really ought to consider our smoking cessation course,” says Amy Waye, communications manager for Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. In addition to providing Thom with a comprehensive health screening, the hospital has offered to enroll him in a Community Wellness class.
Thom’s plethysmograph report, which provides details about his lungs, gives some indication of his smoking status. Carol Voss, RRT, manager of Respiratory Care, explains the results. He notes that elasticity of Thom’s lungs and the amount of air Thom can take in and blow out are slightly below what might be expected for his age and gender.
The test, which requires Thom to pant, breathe deeply, exhale, and rid his lungs of all air, takes just a few minutes. Respiratory therapist Vanessa Campbell coaches Thom through the exercise. ‘‘Deep breath in, Thom,” she directs, ‘‘now blow — push that air out, push it all out. You’re doing well, doing well.”
Thom repeats the exercise several times. ‘‘We do multiple tests to ensure the values are correct,” she says. The third time is the charm. ‘‘This is much better than the first one,” Campbell tells him.
An earlier test provided good news about Thom’s balance. Using a Smart Balance Master — equipment similar to that used by NASA to evaluate astronauts upon their return to Earth — Physical Therapist Stacey Buckner tests Thom’s balance in different scenarios. The device measures how well the eyes, inner ear, muscles and joints work together to maintain balance.
Harnessed to the machine so he cannot fall, Thom stands on a platform staring at a painted Southwestern landscape. Buckner directs Thom to open or close his eyes to that she can gauge how well his vision contributes to his balance.
‘‘Now the machine is going to challenge you,” she tells him as the landscape begins to move back and forth. Thom sways just a bit in response but remains stable.
‘‘Eyes open,” says Buckner, ‘‘the machine’s going to challenge you a little differently this time.” First the floor moves up and down, then it tilts forward and back. Thom shifts his weight in response and stays standing.
During the final phase, both the walls and floor move. As Thom’s body moves, the machine responds with movement of its own. Thom does well.
As Buckner explains the results of the sensory organization test, she notes that his average stability is quite good. His somatosensory (a system of pathways that bring sensory information to the brain allowing it to determine things such as stimulus speed and direction) and visual scores are extremely high, while his vestibular (a system that lies within the inner ear and helps to control eye movement and body position, and maintain equilibrium) ranking comes in above average.
Suburban Hospital also gives Thom an electrocardiogram. The results of that and various blood tests will be mailed to him. While there, hospital staff check his blood pressure — within normal levels — and body fat — just shy of 30 percent.
Helping Thom reduce his percentage of body fat are the personal trainers at Royal Fitness & Nutrition in Bethesda. Each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Thom spends more than an hour with Roya Heydari, the fitness club’s founder and president. ‘‘We started with your legs last time and moved up. Let’s reverse it today,” she tells him.
Read Roya’s personal letter to Thom. Thom starts with 13 pushups on a padded bench. His exertion is evident. Arm muscles pop, brow furrows, and sweat beads. Heydari applauds his effort and hands him a water bottle. ‘‘Sip, sip, sip,” she reminds him.
The chest press is next. Tom leans back on the bench and lifts 25 pounds up and down, to within six inches of his chest. He does all 15.
Back to the push-up bench. Thom grimaces as he starts. ‘‘The only time you can complain is when you have a sharp pain,” says Heydari. Thom ekes out 11.
‘‘Come on,” says the trainer, ‘‘I know you have a few more left in you.” With great effort, Thom does three more push ups.
‘‘Excellent,” says Heydari handing him water. Then it’s back to the chest press. As Thom’s arms feel the strain, the trainer spots him ensuring that the weighted bar won’t drop on his chest.
‘‘The first week of exercise you’re going to be sore — even your toes will be sore,” Heydari tells him.
‘‘Is that why my eyebrows ache?” says Thom with a twinkle in his eye.
The trainer hands Thom an 8 lb. dumbell and demonstrates how to hold and lift it.
‘‘This is not fun,” Thom says between breaths.
‘‘It’s not about fun,” Heydari reminds him, ‘‘it’s about results.”
After the arms, Thom works his upper back. ‘‘We’ll work the big muscles first, then work the smaller muscle groups,” she tells him.
As Thom progresses from one exercise to another, Heydari monitors his heart rate, gives him water, and offers words of encouragement. ‘‘I know you can do it! It’s inside you,” she tells Thom as he struggles with the lat pull down.
The leg work doesn’t come soon enough for Thom. ‘‘You have very powerful legs,” she says, ‘‘that’s why you like these exercises.”
Although tired, Thom makes it through more than a dozen exercises designed to work all the muscles in his legs. ‘‘This is the last one,” says Heydari. ‘‘Stay strong. Bring everything out now — don’t hold back, don’t leave anything in there.”
As Thom finishes, he tries to force a smile. ‘‘I think I’m just gonna go melt in a puddle,” he says. Ten minutes in the Aqua Massage brings relief. Thom emerges with a smile, both muscles and mind relaxed.
Looking forward to the next day — a Sunday with no Healthy Challenge commitments — Thom decides to give his new Precor elliptical crosstrainer a workout. Earlier in the week, the professional installers from Leisure Fitness in Bethesda set up the $4,199 machine in the garage of Thom’s Montgomery Village townhouse. The equipment becomes Thom’s upon his successful completion of the Healthy Challenge.
Leisure Fitness also provided Thom with a Valeo functional training package. ‘‘You should’ve seen me and my wife working out with the medicine ball,” he says. ‘‘We passed it back and forth — right to left, over and under — until it got too heavy for her. Once I took a few blows to the head, I decided it was time to stop.”
There’s nothing wrong with taking a breather, says Heydari. ‘‘Without rest the muscles won’t recover and we won’t be able to perform at our peak.”
source: The Gazette
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