Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Join Cenegenics at the CBS 12 Health & Wellness Expo, this Saturday, March 1!

I’m thrilled to announce that Cenegenics Elite Health Boca Raton will play a major role in the CBS 12 Health & Wellness Experience on Saturday, March 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Sponsored by Channel 12 WPEC and the Sun Sentinel, the expo is designed to help families and individuals take action and make the right choices to lead healthier lives. Highlights of the event include health screenings, educational lectures, live demonstrations, celebrity appearances and activities for kids. Upward of 15,000 people are expected to attend.

Guests can visit the Cenegenics Elite Health booth to meet our award-winning physicians and staff members; learn more about our programs; and discuss pertinent health issues, such as heart disease and stroke prevention.

I’m also very excited to announce that I will join legendary Cenegenics Elite Health patients – Notre Dame football player Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger and former Miami Dolphin Kim Bokamper – to speak at the expo about the importance of healthy living. Our speaking times are as follows:

Dr. Willix: 11:30 a.m. to 12pm (noon)

Kim Bokamper: 1-1:30 p.m.

Rudy Ruettiger: 3-3:30 p.m.

Many of you know Rudy Ruettiger as the Notre Dame football player whose early life and career at Notre Dame was the inspiration for the blockbuster film “Rudy.” Additionally, Kim Bokamper, a former linebacker and defensive end, played his entire career with the Miami Dolphins, from 1977 to 1986.

This day of engagement, education, entertainment and empowerment is free and open to the public.  For more information on the event, visit

Stop by the Cenegenics booth on Saturday and show your support for health & wellness! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Run with Heart

The experience of competing in an Ironman was invaluable.  Not only did it teach me that I could push myself physically to limits I never thought possible, but the emotional component was unparalleled.  I learned the true definition of words like dedication, perseverance, and discipline.

But if Ironman taught me anything, it was to never give up, to never stop believing; it taught me to be steadfast in my quest to succeed.

I couldn’t help but think of these qualities when I first heard about the Lugo Family, a local family in need.

Jayson Lugo is a six-month-old boy, fighting for survival at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida.  He’s been in ICU since November with an enlarged heart, and is currently awaiting a heart transplant. 

His mother, Norma, has been at his side since he was hospitalized in November.  The Ronald McDonald House of Miami provides her with a room and hot meals, but she only stops by for brief periods of time to do laundry before she hurries back to her son’s side.  She is strong; she is dedicated; she perseveres in spite of adversity.

Jayson’s father is a farm laborer, working six days a week to support his family of five.  Jayson’s brother and sister go to school each day, they complete their chores, and they toil over their homework each night.  Like Norma, their determination and grit get them through each day in hopes that Jayson will be blessed with a miracle and a new heart.

Jayson has been fighting for his life for 6 months and he continues to inspire me each day.  

Join myself and fellow Cenegenics Elite Health Physicians and staff by signing up for Cenegenics’ Run with Heart 5k on February 15 at The Boca Raton Club & Resort.  All funds raised will go directly to the Lugo Family. 

You can also mail us your donations for the Lugo Family by making your check out to Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida and sending it to the address below.

The Boca Raton Club & Resort
C/O Cenegenics Elite Health
501 E Camino Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time Management is Key

When I first competed in the Ironman in 1984, people used to say to me, “Wow that’s amazing,” or “I couldn’t do that.” I used to say, “everyone can do the Ironman - all it takes is dedication.” As I’ve started training again in the past 2 years, along with traveling and working, I’ve become very empathetic towards the general population and what they have to go through to achieve a goal physically. I’ve learned that my statement that “anyone can do an Ironman” is absolutely untrue. It’s become evident to me that I’m working very hard to get back in Ironman shape and it’s not going how I expected.

My wife said, “I think you thought you were going to say you were going to do an Ironman and then go out and do one.” What’s happened to me is that I’ve realized that it really takes a tremendous amount of consistency. I’ll be doing great for two weeks in a row and then I have to travel and I won’t have a bike available, or a swimming pool available. I’m becoming more aware of what our patients go through.

This realization has helped me to reevaluate how Cenegenics needs to design programs. This training has forced me to understand how hard it is to set a goal, want to achieve it, be physically capable, but not have the ability to control your time. Time management is much more critical than I’ve believed it was.

I’ve always been able to get up early and train, but now I have things to do in the morning – getting on a plane at 5 am, etc. All of those things interfere with training and your goals. I’ve learned that the key to setting a goal and achieving it, is to be patient and kind to yourself and to also realize that unless you can find a way to give something up, it’s going to be difficult at times to achieve a goal like doing the Ironman.

When you think about it, 26.2 years later, is turning into 28 years later. As I say to my wife, “as strong as my mind is, sometimes my body just can’t do it anymore.” I can think that I can swim faster, or ride faster, but my legs aren’t telling me the same message. That’s never happened to me before. I’m experiencing something unique, in that, when I first did the Ironman, the reason I was able to do it was because I had the time and I was 30 years younger. My recovery and my ability to handle those things is different now than it was then. What I’m finding out is I need much more discipline now than I did when I did the Ironman years ago, even for my training. If I miss a workout, I can’t get upset. I just have to realize that I missed it and find out how to fit my training in somewhere else if I can. With my work schedule and life being as full as it is, I just can’t always meet my schedules.

My message is that doing the Ironman is achievable for anyone, but it’s going to take, even for me, a lot more discipline than I thought it would. I feel more humbled by this experience than I have in the past. I’ve learned that if you want to grow as an athlete and as a human being, you have to learn to be resilient, but you also need to be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself, more than physically and emotionally, and when you don’t have the time, you just don’t have the time.

Now that I have a coach, my coach is saying, “Well it doesn’t look like you’re able to meet your workouts.”  And I say, “there’s just no way.” That’s a very unique thing for me to say. I used to think, “of course you can do it, just work harder.” The truth is, for the general population, it’s not about working harder or smarter, it’s about realizing that you can achieve your goals, but the goals are sometimes a lot harder than you anticipated. Just realize that you may have to start gently and it may take you longer. I thought by January of 2013, I’d be back in Ironman shape, but the truth is, that’s not probable. It’s going to take me the full 8 months to get in shape, and then the event is going to be like a new experience. Having done it before, I have the advantage of knowing I can do it, for the people that have never done it, I’m sure they would say they couldn’t do it. I know I can do it, I just may not be as fast as I want to be and it may not be easy as I want it to be, but it’s still the goal that I’m more and more committed to achieving.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Legacy Continues – Ultraman

This August, my eldest son, Bob, competed in Ultraman Canada. The traditional Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 26.2 mile run and 112 mile bike ride, all completed in one day. The Ultraman competition, however, is a three-day 320-mile test of long-term endurance, featuring a 6.2 mile swim, almost three times the distance of the Ironman, a 52.4 mile double-marathon and a 261.4 mile bike ride spread over two days. Not only did my son complete Ultraman Canada, finishing the competition in 30:38:28, but throughout the 15 years the competition has been held, only 117 men have completed it – far fewer than the number of men that have climbed Mount Everest.

He’s previously completed 5 Ironman competitions and numerous triathlons, but his training for the Ultraman was very different.

“In Ironman, you concentrate a lot on the transition between bike and run. That’s called a brick. For Ultraman, I was doing a lot of back-to-back workouts – I might run 20 miles in the afternoon and then wake up the next morning and ride 60 or 70 miles. You have to get used to running and cycling on tired legs. During the competition, you have to be prepared for waking up the next morning, being exhausted, and having to knock out everything on tired legs. Training was much different just because of the distance. The swim was almost 3 times the distance, the bike is 2.5 times the distance and the run is a double marathon. It was pretty intense.”

Not only is the distance a hurdle in the Ultraman competition, but throughout the three days, you are left unsupported and must bring your own team to help get you through it. My son didn’t just compete in Ultraman, my grandsons Bobby and Chas, my daughter-in-law Michelle and my daughter Michelle were all there to help him along the way. On the swim, Bobby was his kayak escort – kayaking with him for the entirety of the 6.5 mile swim and stopping with him to provide him with water and nutrition. During the bike ride, all four supported him in the car, stopping every 8-10 miles to feed him and let him fill up on water. Bobby and Chas both helped to pace him during the run – Bobby ended up running close to 16-17 miles side-by-side with his dad and Chas ran a solid 8-9 miles alongside him.

As my son Bob says, “We were all at the finish line, we were all crying. It was a victory for everyone. Without them, I couldn’t have done the event. I ended up being in the record book for completing it, but there should be an asterisk next to it, because without them I couldn’t finish it.”

From left to right: Chas, Michelle, Bob, Michelle, Bobby
I’m so proud to see the legacy I’m leaving behind for my son and grandsons. When I started running, Bob began exercising – he was only 14. We would run together, we did triathlons together in the early 80s. This is a legacy I’m passing along from my own father, who was still running marathons into his 80s.

This next year, our family is venturing to accomplish something that no other family has done before. My son Bob, my grandson Bobby and I are attempting to do an Ironman together in May of next year. 3 generations of Bob Willix-es all competing in the same Ironman competition – we’ll see what happens.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back in Training

Unlike my previous life where I used to say “don’t let work interfere with your training,” I’ve let work interfere with my training. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been working out – I just haven’t had an objective. As some of you will remember, my goal has stayed the same, but the road to that goal has changed. Last year, I was going to do an Ironman competition, but work and life got in the way. In the last several months, I’ve simply taken a look at it and I’ve said, “My road to the Ironman is still there, but I’m taking different steps to get there.”

I’ve been unable, though I’ve tried for the past 5 months, to gain entry into a full Ironman event. Because of the demand for entering these competitions, these events are closing out within 5 minutes of going online. My son, however, is doing an Ultraman this year – twice the Ironman distance over a three day span in August. He’s also competing in an Ironman competition in Florida in November. At this stage in the game, even if I was able to get in, I’m not trained well enough to do it.

So I made a decision, two weeks ago, that I was going to enter a half Ironman. I’m back in training. There are two events – Ironman Augusta, GA in September and Ironman Miami, FL in October. I will probably enter for the Augusta Ironman as it fits my schedule better. Ironman Miami occurs around 4 days before the AAMG, a major medical conference, and my schedule will become more hectic, so it’s more reasonable that I would attend Ironman Augusta.

That being said, I have now revised my training to compete in a half Ironman - a 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike ride and 13.1 mi run. I’m very confident that over the next 14 or 15 weeks, I can get ready for a half Ironman and be somewhat competitive.

As my dad used to say, “If you keep getting older, all of your competitors will die out.” So I’m doing that. He used to win events when he was 75; that’s when he won his first gold medal in the Senior Olympics. I haven’t gotten to that age yet, but I understand what he meant now – eventually all of your competitors will die out, so you have to win something. If you live long enough. That’s what I’m banking on. If I live long enough, I may not get to Hawaii until I’m 100, but I’ll get there.

In all seriousness, though, I get questions all the time. “Why do you want to do stuff like this when you’re 71? What’s the purpose? What are you trying to prove? Why don’t you just eat bonbons and sit on the beach?”

For me, the answer is pretty simple. The major thing that I’ve learned since starting preventive medicine 31 years ago, and teaching people about exercise and nutrition for over 40 years now, is that more and more, the key to success for everyone who’s interested in staying healthy is to either rekindle within themselves the athlete that they were when they were younger, or, if they weren’t athletic when they were younger, to become an athlete during the aging process.

One of my recent patients never rode a bicycle on the road. He’s now one of the top cyclists in Florida at the age of 55, and he just started 2 years ago. I think that we all were, at one time, athletes. I think that every one of us, at one time, dreamed of winning the gold medal at the Olympics, or becoming the best at something athletic. Maybe it wasn’t competitive athletics, but becoming the best ballerina. It almost always has to do with something physical.

The more we get into looking at competitors, the more we see how important athleticism has become. Everyone knows that 20 years ago, tennis players didn’t run, cycle and lift weights. 15 years ago, golfers never paid attention to strength training until Tiger Woods showed them that fitness was a key component to his ability to hit the ball out of a thick rough farther than anyone else, simply because he’s stronger and more fit. Now everyone is training like athletes, even golfers, though golf is not a particularly athletic sport. It now requires you to be athletic in order to be competitive. Racecar drivers run and lift weights. Every athlete has learned that there is an advantage to cross training. The Ironman, or triathlons, are, in my opinion, the ultimate in cross training. It requires that you swim, upper body aerobic conditioning; you bike, lower body aerobic conditioning; and you run, using all the muscles in your body. You have to lift weights and be flexible, so yoga and weight training become an important part of your regimen. 

At my age, at 71, if I’m going to be able to complete a 2.4 mi swim, a 112 mi bike ride, and 26.2 mi run, I’ve got to be more disciplined about how I train. One of the things this has taught me is that the gift of doing the Ironman in 1984 really was a gift. I was taken out of athletic competition because of an injury – I was hit by a car and had to stop competing. It’s a lot harder training to do an Ironman now than when I was 30 or 42, but while it’s harder, it’s also much more meaningful for me. I cherish the ability to still to get on a bike and compete. 

Now I have a very competitive tri-bike that I ride. I’m faster, and stronger, than I was a year ago, or even two years ago. It’s a lot of fun to know that you can bring it back.

For everyone, I think that you should pick a goal. Pick a goal and become an athlete. It could be a one mile walk for cancer, or a charity bike ride where you’re doing 10 miles, or even 5 miles. No matter what it is, make it playful. I don’t want this to sound serious. The reason I do it is because I feel like a kid. I get my cycling hat on, my helmet, and I go outside and I play. It sounds silly, but it’s true. When I was 8 years old, I played baseball every single day and I sat outside waiting for somebody to play baseball with me. Now I’m 71 and I’m waiting for someone to invite me on a bike ride.

Keep it playful, but remember that there’s a real benefit to being athletic during the aging process. If we can get everyone in the country to get back to sport, it would be the best gift we could give ourselves. I really want all of you to send me questions and give me an opportunity to answer them. Anytime you want to come and join me in an event or a training event, let me know and I may let you in. That’s my message for today.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Legacy Continues

The Legacy was represented by my oldest son, Bob, who just finished his fifth Ironman in Louisville.

I am a proud Dad and my father, who started the physical fitness tradition in our family, is looking down and saying, "You go, Bob! Great job. Grandpa."

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Psychology of Ironman

Ugh, I give. I can't make it. I won't be participating in the Ironman Louisville.

I lost a month of training between my recent move and my job, and I'm just not ready to do an Ironman. I'm throwing in the towel. Since there are no other events between now and 2012, I resign myself to the fact that my schedule and my life were too just complicated to add Ironman training.

It's more important for me to say "I can't do it," rather than go and not do well. I'd rather wait. I'm humbling myself to all my readers by saying that, despite the fact I thought I could do it, I can't. The lesson from this is being able to recognize that it is so important for me to be able to qualify for Hawaii that I wouldn't risk doing an Ironman if I risk injury and be out of commission for months.

I'm not giving up the dream, by no means. I've made what France calls "a decision humans make all the time." If I was trying to be superhuman, I'd go, not do well, injure myself, and then be really upset.

My sons, who registered with me, are still going. Obviously, they're going with the idea that they're finishing, but both are suffering from injuries that may prevent them from doing so. I think there's a different mindset for Ironman competitors. In my 30s or 40s, the age my sons are now, I would have gone anyway. Now that I'm a little bit older and training is more important to me than the actual event, I want to give myself a chance to qualify. My sons have a different end goal than I do, and they've therefore made a different decision than I have.

All three of us, to even be thinking about doing the Ironman, must have something mentally disconnected. We're all a little nuts, they're just a little crazier than me right now. I'm sure there will come a time when I'll be crazier than they are. It's important as a family for them to live their dreams, not mine. I'll follow them on the internet as they race, even if I won't physically be there.

I always tell everyone it's good to set a goal. Well, the day I decided not to go to Lousiville, I registered for Miami Man Half Ironman in November. It fits my schedule, so I won't have any excuse for not doing it. Plus it's a half Ironman distance, so theoretically I could do it tomorrow.

This event in Miami isn't a qualifier, so it's really a trial run for me to get back into competition with other triathletes. I'm looking forward to the fact that it's local, and I can leave home, do the event and come back home.

While it's painful not to go, I'm proud of what i think is a mature decision. The minute you become disappointed you're not doing something, set another goal. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you'll get somewhere. I hope that everyone reading this blog will come and cheer me on in Miami.