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For 6-Pack, a landmark day
August 7th, 2011
04:22 PM ET

For 6-Pack, a landmark day

They did it! CNN's Sixpack,  Joaquin Brignoni, Stasia Cirricione, Kendrick Henley, Nina Lovel, Kas Seerla, and Scott Zahn,  are officially triathletes after successfully completing the Nautica New York City Triathlon on Sunday, as part of the Fit Nation 2011 Triathlon Challenge.

The adventure began bright and early when the group met at 3:40 a.m. to be shuttled over to the race site. It was pouring rain and a little chilly but nothing could dampen the morning's excitement. After a delayed race start, the Sixpack jumped in to the Hudson around 6:40 a.m. All finished the race, with Joaquin Brignoni coming in first for the 6-Pack.

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Tri Challenge/Kas: This is just the beginning
Kas Seerla with her tri group in Naperville, IL
August 3rd, 2011
04:53 PM ET

Tri Challenge/Kas: This is just the beginning

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.  During their last week before the race, we asked each of them the following questions: What's the biggest change you've seen in yourself since kickoff weekend? What are your personal goals for the Tri?"

This weekend, "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." will be live from New York at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and Sunday. Watch the culmination of our team's training

Before I started writing this blog, I went and reread and my first blog on why I wanted to do a triathlon. I am proud to say that I pretty much achieved what I set out to do.

First, I did something new, hard and totally outside my comfort zone. Being a mom of two very young kids, you fall into a routine, and stick with what you know best. No time for surprises. That was me. I was doing the minimum of going to the gym, one hour a day, 2-3 times a week. Since the training started, my whole view of getting and being fit has taken a 180 degree turn. My body is able to handle 2-3 hrs of training at a stretch. I am able to take my bike and go for a spin outside with other moms. I was able to take my husband on his first bike ride after his knee surgery. I took my kids to a shallow river and let them play in it with me. My world has opened up as well as those around me.

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Tri Challenge: My first mile in Lake Michigan
July 19th, 2011
04:39 PM ET

Tri Challenge: My first mile in Lake Michigan

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

I've been trying to swim in Lake Michigan for several weeks now with my swim group but it's been canceled due to bad weather or bad water quality.

Luckily, I met a wonderful person, Nadine Borkowicz, in my swim class, who was training for her first Ironman and we talked about my fear of open water. It seemed that she was worried about the open water as well, and had asked one of her friends, Tom Degan – an Ironman, to swim with her the next day in Lake Michigan. She was so kind to invite me along and I jumped at the chance!

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Fit Nation: No wipeouts, no rescues
June 17th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

Fit Nation: No wipeouts, no rescues

June 12th was the Naperville Women's Sprint Triatholon. This was going to be a warmup for the Nautica New York City Triathlon on August 7.

For the past four months, I've been training and learning all that goes into triathlon. Transitions, clip on shoes, changing tubes, fastest way to get in and out of a wetsuit, were all buzz words and now the time had come to actually execute!

The Sherox women's tri was a sprint distance and I was going to be doing the swim and bike portion of the race and Rosie from my run club, would be doing the run portion.
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Tri Challenge: What's my goal? What's my intention?
May 12th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

Tri Challenge: What's my goal? What's my intention?

Lately I’ve been feeling a little anxious, as the triathlon date is fast approaching. It’s only 12 weeks away, and I feel that I still have a long way to go to get ready. While I know that I have become physically fit especially after the midway trip to Hawaii, I get a little overwhelmed at what I am about to do in a few months.

One of the coaches that I work with said that you can have goals and intentions. Every triathlete's goal is to finish the triathlon, but an intention is to have fun, be fit and happy. This really resonated with me as I reflected upon what I have accomplished so far. Yes, I am able to run, bike, and swim longer than I did three months ago, and yes, my goal is to finish the NYC triathlon. But my daily, weekly, and monthly intention is to be healthy, have fun with the people I train with, and pass along the knowledge I gain to others.

I was so focused on my goal that when my workouts didn’t go well I would get really disappointed. But focusing on my intention helps me to be “present” in the moment, without getting attached to the outcome. So, I am focusing on my short-term goals every week and I know that by race day, I will be as ready as I can be.


Gupta joins triathletes in Hawaii
April 22nd, 2011
03:48 PM ET

Tri Challenge: Personal bests during mini tri

Do you remember the first time you swam in the ocean? Kas Seerla does, that's for sure. It happened here in Kona, Hawaii, two days ago. She braved the waves, the current and lots of anxiety to swim nearly a quarter of a mile. And then she did it all again yesterday during this week's capstone workout: a mini tri where the 6-pack swam for 20 minutes, biked for an hour and ran for 20 minutes.

Yesterday was hot, hot, hot, but that didn't stop anyone from completing the race. Even Kendrick was able to swim, bike and run the course - stitches and all.

Collectively, the 6-pack came here with only a few miles logged on the road bike, a few lengths in the pool, a few miles of running. But they're leaving Kona each having experienced a personal best of some sort. For Joaquin, it was swimming almost a half of mile when before he hadn't been able to swim more than two pool lengths. Stasia and Kas swam in the ocean for the first time. Scott, Kendrick and Nina collectively biked 65 miles in a day - a huge improvement from the short rides they had been doing.

As each person continues to change their life and become stronger and healthier, we'll continue to bring you their journeys. We hope you'll be inspired to start changing your life, too!


April 19th, 2011
05:25 PM ET

Tri Challenge in Hawaii: High spirits on Day One

This week, the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon team is in Kona, Hawaii, for a week of intense training. Follow along on The Chart and on Twitter, @CNNFitNation . Kas Seerla is a participant in the 2011 CNN Fit Nation Challenge.  She lives in Chicago with her husband and two young daughters, and is using this challenge to show other moms that it's OK to step out of their comfort zones!

Day One at CNN Hawaii boot camp! After a one-hour open water swim drill, we had to do a three-mile run around the beautiful Mauna Lani property. It was getting hot and the sun was above us at 8 a.m. I was nervous as I had never run after a swim but I was also in high spirits; I wasn't intimidated with a 3-mile run as I would have been a couple of months ago.

The guys took off and were way ahead but I was able to keep my pace and was right behind them when we completed the three miles. What a relief!

Onto the 20-mile bike ride after breakfast! I rode my bike outside the first time last week and it was only for 2 miles. So 20 miles should be interesting!


Groups help keep triathlete mom motivated
April 8th, 2011
05:59 PM ET

Groups help keep triathlete mom motivated

Kas Seerla is a member of the 2011 CNN Fit Nation Challenge.  She lives in Chicago with her husband and two young daughters, and is using this challenge to show other moms that it's OK to step out of their comfort zones!

What motivates me to workout six times a week? Well, I'd like to say that it's all internal and I wake up everyday raring to go.

These past two months, I've finally realized and come to terms with the fact that I cannot work out alone.

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March 8th, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Changes big and small only a month into tri training

When Dr. Sanjay Gupta finished the Nautica New York City Triathlon last year, he called the race "a transformative experience, both mentally and physically." Six weeks after this year's Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge kicked off in Atlanta, one member of the 6-pack has already been taken off medication for his high blood pressure. We wondered what other changes, large or small, the rest of the 6-pack have seen in themselves.

Anastasia Cirricione

Thus far, the biggest change for Stasia Cirricione has been mental.

"I'm gaining a lot of confidence in my body and its abilities. I never thought I'd be able to bike for 75 minutes and then run right after for 15 minutes without stopping. I actually felt AWESOME during the run part. I'm so impressed with the capabilities of my body and I don't know that I would have ever pushed myself to do something like this on my own. I actually look forward to my next workout and enjoy all the aches and pains of getting stronger."

Kendrick Henley

Kendrick Henley has been focused on making lifestyle changes that will last long after the triathlon ends, particularly when it comes to diet. For example, on the day he wrote this blog, he ate soup and half a sandwich for lunch, not the customary cheeseburger he would have chosen months ago.

"The most exciting change that I did not expect occurred when I was getting dressed for work," wrote Kendrick. "I realized that the notch on my belt was too big and I had to tighten it up. That was such a pleasant surprise. I remember when I bought that belt and it was the only belt in stock that big, and I remember being so embarrassed that it was so hard to find. But hopefully soon, my current belt will be too big and just a memory."

Nina Lovel

Nina Lovel can't seem to go anywhere in her small town without a stranger stopping her in the street with words of encouragement or appreciation. All that extra motivation, plus a new, healthy diet, is making Nina's "58 is the new 28" slogan come true.

"I have lost 7 pounds in a month–that is HUGE! All of my clothes are fitting better, I've cinched up most of them as far as they will go, and some favorite pieces are now baggy.... I have become very focused on healthy eating and have banished all but the most frivolous and occasional empty calories from my life. Proof: were my nutrition to be inadequate, I would not have been able to RUN AN ENTIRE 5K, shaving 6 minutes off my previous times, and feeling great at the finish line!

I definitely need more sleep these days, and while it would be simple to ascribe this to increased physical activity, there's more to it than that. This experience is tugging at much more than my swim, bike and running muscles; it is stretching my mind, my heart and my emotions, often to the point of (happy) exhaustion."

Joaquin Brignoni

Joaquin Brignoni has seen small but powerful changes in himself since training began.

"A sense of great accomplishment seems to stay with me throughout the day when I wake up for a 5 a.m. swim or a 6 a.m. track run. Becoming more disciplined with what I choose to eat has also been very empowering. I actually find myself craving healthier foods. It's a strange but welcomed feeling.
Physically, I'm becoming stronger, lighter and more energetic with every workout. I've managed to lose another 5 pounds and my prehypertension has dropped to a normal level. I'm really amazed and excited about that.

My biggest challenge so far is getting enough sleep! I consider myself somewhat of a night owl but late nights just don't mix well with my new healthy lifestyle. The excitement alone can no longer trump the rest my body really needs. So, I'll focus my energy on getting to bed earlier over the next couple of weeks."

Kas Seerla

Kas Seerla balances life as a stay-at-home mother with her triathlon training. It's been an adjustment for her family but by going to the gym six days a week, some workouts have already gotten easier.

"Of the three [exercises] (swim, bike, run), I would say I've made improvements with the swim. A month ago, I would do a lap and have to wait for five minutes to catch my breath before I could do another lap. Now my workouts are about 45 minutes and I can do 600 yards. Of course I'm still stopping a lot but still a big improvement from a month ago."

Dr. Scott Zahn

Aside from stopping one of his medications for high blood pressure, Scott Zahn is seeing other, exciting changes in himself.

"I think I have been brainwashed by Laura Cozik, CNN Fit Nation athletic director. I look forward to the workouts and the variety of swim, run and bike keeps it from getting monotonous. In the last two weeks I had planned two rest days, but when those days came I was antsy and needed to do something to get my heart racing.

In the last month there have been more fitness changes than physical changes. I recover faster from my workouts and am able to do more without maxing out my heart rate. I am stronger and feel better. I continue to lose weight, but for about two weeks my weight was stable. This was a little discouraging, but then for no apparent reason I dropped four pounds in just a few days. I needed to put another hole in the belt. That is the second time I have needed to do that since this whole process started! Yesterday I bought a new belt, one that fits."


February 21st, 2011
02:21 PM ET

Triathletes return home, make changes

It has been just over two weeks since the 6-pack returned to their home cities, and their training for the Nautica New York City Triathlon is officially under way. We asked each of them to share what it's been like getting "back to reality," and incorporating the things they learned in Atlanta.

Nina Lovel

I'm about as positive of a thinker as anyone I know, but I'm not gonna lie -my first full week as an official "6-packer" was rough!!! Not for reasons you might think, however; rather, because I came down with the flu on my second day home from the kickoff!

Eating habits – Now HERE I have experienced a revolution! Over the kickoff weekend, having Frances Largeman-Roth hang out and consult with us, I internalized more nutrition knowledge than I realized.

Suddenly, before anything goes in my mouth, it has to have a redeeming property: It must WORK for me! If it doesn't fuel my energy, restore my muscles and bones, hydrate me, balance my electrolytes, or otherwise support my training, it can't be mine.

Kas Seerla

The first week of training was not too bad. The second week got tougher as the duration and intensity picked up. Since my swimming is not efficient, I get tired faster.

One of the workouts that I had to do on my own was a brick (swim/run). After the swim, I was so dizzy that I couldn't get on the treadmill. I went home and contemplated what to do. I was exhausted and tired but willed myself to go back to the gym and completed my run workout.

Previously, if I felt tired, I would stop. Now, I push on even if I don't have any energy, I try to make sure I complete the workout because if I don't I am going to pay for it later. I know I will never get this time back.

Anastasia Cirricione

I wanted to start eating clean as much as possible so I went through my cupboards and cleaned out some of the unhealthy lurkers as to not be tempted. Goodbye, mac and cheese. Hello, fruits, veggies, natural peanut butter, homemade pasta and pizza sauces. I feel so much better when I eat clean and eat regularly (5-6 times a day).

My workouts have been strenuous. I had a private yoga session that kicked my butt! I couldn't lift my arms above my head for 2 days. It made getting dressed interesting. I powered through, though. Run, Swim, Bike, repeat.

My parents have even adjusted our weekly family meal to reflect some healthier options: Steamed broccoli instead of broccoli and cheese, lighter salad dressings, etc. My friends have been a hoot in this whole process. I had to pick up an order at lunch last week under the name "Triathlete Stasia." I must say that was pretty humiliating and humorous all at the same time.

Dr. Scott Zahn

It's been just over two weeks since the kickoff weekend, and I am getting back into "real life." It is hard to call it real life because it is so different from my previous real life. Workouts are now a regular part of my daily routine. I even feel a little weird when I have a day that I don't work out – like something is missing.

I was able to run 4.8 miles on the treadmill this past weekend. Well, I'll be honest I ran/walked, but did run about 3.75 miles of it. That is the farthest I have gone so far since training started and probably the farthest I have ever gone . . . so far!

Joaquin Brignoni

My first official weeks as a 6-pack member have been challenging yet uplifting in many ways.

Some of my biggest challenges are balancing my responsibilities, job search, family duties and new training schedule.

I love getting up at 6 a.m. and taking a run. I keep myself motivated by imagining that I am running through Central Park. It gives me energy, it is fun and I find that it helps me clear my mind for a productive day.

Swimming is my biggest challenge. I am focused on breathing with the proper technique for now but hope to look like Aquaman as I swim across the Hudson River six months from now.

I am eager to get on the road with a bike. I see myself flying down the Westside highway when in reality I am in my spin class at the Y.

So, as you can see, I use visualization to make the best out of the training and to focus on the goal when my calves are cramping and my thighs are about to explode.

Kendrick Henley

I came back from Atlanta all pumped up! I have started training five days a week. I am able to do the workouts and finding that I am getting stronger with each workout. The swim class that use to leaving me feeling so tired and drained for two days at a time no longer does that. In fact, I now swim multiple times a week.

One of the major takeaways from the kickoff besides the training was when Coach Laura Cozik, said, "triathlons are 50% nutrition."

This is very poetic because nutrition remains the most difficult part of this journey, and the most difficult change to make. I am eating healthier, but I find that I have days when I do not make the best food choices.  I know that nutrition remains my biggest obstacle, but I have to remember to take it one day at a time.


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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