Taking Wellness Personally

SBH physicians feel strongly about their patients staying healthy because good health plays such a big part in their own lives. Here is a look at how several stay in shape regardless of their long work hours.

By Jeffrey Lazar, MD

I discovered cycling when I was in high school. As a kid who didn’t really ever seem to fit in anywhere, cycling suited me perfectly: it felt foreign, exotic, not-particularly American, and at the time most people, including my parents, weren’t really sure what to make of it. This was before Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong were on the radar. Cycling struck me as graceful and daring. It was Italian and French and European.

It was fast. So while the neighborhood kids I knew were playing street hockey, basketball, and baseball… I would find myself most comfortable and at home alone on a bike…racing through the streets of the suburb where I lived, on some level, trying to escape. While the other kids laced up their Adidas and Nikes, I would lace up my Italian cycling shoes, click into my pedals, and ride quickly away from many things.

When I attended college in rural upstate New York, I would often get on my bike on weekend mornings, and ride for hours without a map or any true sense of where I was headed. When I tired, I’d find someone to ask where I was and how I might get back to the town where I had started hours before. And despite working in a number of emergency departments, arguably the most exciting job of my life was working as a bicycle messenger in Boston – flying past cars and dodging pedestrians with a package strapped to my back that needed to get from Cambridge to the Financial District within the hour.

My passion and love of cycling has only increased throughout the years. The simplicity and elegance of the formula that lies behind cycling: pedal harder, move faster strikes me as ever more pertinent and appealing as life and the world around us seems to grow ever more complicated.

A somewhat popular quotation that is oft-repeated in cycling training is, I believe, a wonderful life lesson. It goes like this: training is like wrestling with a gorilla; you don’t stop when you are tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired. Cycling has taught me invaluable lessons about endurance, persistence, and effort, and continues to do so on a daily basis.

I also feel cycling reinforces elemental Buddhism truths about human existence: suffering is unavoidable, joy is attainable, everything is transient.

I train every day, typically when I come home from work. A session might be as short as 20 minutes, or as long as three hours, depending on my energy level and where I am in my training program. I split my training between a smart trainer which interacts between my road bike and a computer, a Peloton and being out on the road.

As a competitive cyclist, my specialty and fondness is climbing: trying to move as fast as possible up a hill that’s hopefully as steep as possible. (For most cyclists, hills induce misery; I’ve always happily embraced them and the pain that accompanies them.) My favorite outdoor distance to ride is 50 miles. AndI’m happiest cycling in the countryside, away from humans and
cars, speeding past cows and open fields.

It feels a little awkward to write how incredibly grateful I am for the role cycling has played and, I expect, will continue to play in my life. It feels like a gift to know that however my day unfolds today, when I get home I will get on my bike and begin to pedal. Softly at first, then harder, and then harder still. It will hurt. I will sweat. It will hurt even more. And when I have finished, I will be simply and inexorably happy.


Dr. Rosing has competed in the Westchester Triathlon for years. “I don’t train enough anymore,” he says. Yet, he has a long history of waking up early on mornings to swim for about an hour several times a week. He can often be found doing open water swims in the sound off of Larchmont Harbor, in water as cold as 59 degrees, without wearing a wet suit. In nice weather, he routinely goes on 20- to 50-mile bike rides, and trains indoors on a Wahoo trainer bike using apps like Zwift and Sufferfest, as well as a Peloton.


Dr. Chiong does Brazilian jiu-jitsu to stay in shape. “I try to go two to three times per week,” he says. “It’s a great sport for keeping in shape because not only is it a full-body workout, it’s also very cerebral and creative. I’ve heard jiujitsu described as trying to solve a 200-pound Rubik’s Cube that’s fighting back at you. I think that’s a very apt description. It’s keeping me in shape, exercising my mind, and getting rid of my stress, all at the same time. I recommend it to almost everybody. My two daughters just started recently as well.”


Dr. Roman runs three to four times a week, eight to 10 miles each time. He moves at a rather brisk 7 ½ minute pace. He also weight trains three times a week and bikes about 30 miles weekly.


Dr. Klion is in a class of his own. He has completed 11 Ironman Triathlons (for the uninformed, an Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2 mile run), 15 marathons and several ultramarathons. His training schedule? He has been known to run to work – 21 miles from his Westchester home. He bicycles through the likes of Bear Mountain, and competes in 50 kilometer runs (which has included the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Run from the South rim to the North rim and then back to the South rim). To prepare for the swim portion of the Ironman, he uses a dryland swim trainer in his home. “I like to say that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional,” said the orthopedic surgeon in an article several years ago. “For every bad minute during a race from an endurance standpoint, there is a good moment. And if you can get through those difficult moments, you’ll be better for it.”


“My youngest daughter got a flyer at her school health fair for a new boxing gym that opened in our town,” she says. “The first class was free, and she really wanted to try it. I wasn’t that into it, but she was so excited that we went. The class was amazing –super intense, great music, and FUN – the most fun I ever had working out in a gym. I’m an avid snowboarder, but hate gym workouts. So I bought a family membership on the spot.” The classes run for 60 minutes. The includes a 15-minute warm up; eight three-minute boxing rounds (“where the instructor tells you what combo to punch – jab,jab, cross, lead hook – and keeps switching it up; a one-minute active rest which involves squats, burpees, and “other forms of torture between rounds;” followed by a 15-minute core work-out which involves planks, crunches, back exercises and stretching.


As a critical care doctor, in addition to being president of the medical staff at SBH, Dr. Grantham has spent his entire career as a shift worker. This means working at different times of day and night, sometimes 24 or more hours at a time. While changing work and sleep times can wreak havoc on anyone in terms of their sleeping and eating habits, even for someone who takes pride in a long history of competing in marathons and triathlons, it’s a schedule that can be particularly challenging. “You can always make excuses,” he says. “If I’m tired having worked nights, I may take it easy and then go harder the next day. Rest is important and you can always mix up your workouts.” This often includes cross training – lifting weights, using the elliptical and Stairmaster, and cycling. Dr. Grantham is a veteran of about 20 marathons – having run the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C. the last 12 years – and two Ironman Triathlons. While a heel injury slowed him down in preparing for his latest marathon effort, he still managed to make it to the starting line (and the finish line, even it meant limping home the last half of the race).