It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Elm’s Wellness Program changed the life of service manager Brian Palazzi.

“We did a full workup including blood tests, BMI, resting heart rate, etc.,” Brian said. “The overall diagnosis was I was in horrible shape and heading towards heart problems, high blood pressure meds for life and potential liver problems. I weighed over 250 lbs. and had zero energy.”

In other words, certainly not the type you’d expect to be competing in endurance sports like the Lake Placid Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112 miles on a bike and a 26.2-mile run) a few weeks back…

…which Brian did.

It was in 2016, after all those tests from the Elm Wellness Program that Brian knew he had to make some serious changes.

“I started by tracking everything I put in my mouth on an app,” Brian explained, “and cutting out most processed foods and added sugars. When I started running, I was not able to cover the distance between telephone poles without walking.”

The fact that Brian was even entered in the recent competition considering the shape he had been in just a half a dozen years ago is a testament to his dedication, determination and obsession with living out a healthier lifestyle.

Right now is where we should tell you these endurance competitions can be fickle. All the training in the world doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have “it” on game day.

That’s what happed to Brian at Lake Placid, where he was unfortunately unable to finish.

But it was the furthest thing from a failure even if that isn’t quite how Brian felt in the moment.

“Things were going perfect,” he explained. “Hydration was on point, my heart rate was super controlled, and everything seemed perfect. The swim was combative, 2022 people in the water all at the same time! People were everywhere. Kicking, punching and making space however they could! The bike started like I had planned. My average heart rate was 125 BPM and my pace after the first loop was at 18.9 MPH. I was having the perfect race; I didn’t even feel like I was working. About 20 miles into the second loop, I started using the course nutrition, orange-flavored Gatorade Endurance. I had trained with Endurance for months but this was different.Almost immediately, my stomach flopped. Once I started throwing up, it was a losing battle.

“The sun was beating down and the day got hotter,” Brian added. “People were literally dropping on the bike from exhaustion. The last two hours were the worst. My legs cramped at mile 85 and only let up a few times for a few minutes each. I was not able to straighten my legs in order to effectively pedal the bike.

“The last eight miles of hills were spent rocking my body off the seat enough to complete a rotation of the pedals. I just HAD to finish the bike. I hoped that everything would be perfect once I reached transition. Quick drink and then back out on the run. I just could not stop my body from cramping and rejecting fluids.”

Elm’s Mary Silva and her husband, Carlos, were in Lake Placid to cheer Brian on.

“Oh my god. Seeing friendly faces boosts your energy level in a way I can’t even explain,” Brian said. “They are incredible for making the trip all the way up there. I am so lucky to have people in my life like them.”

This was not Brian’s first endurance race and he says it won’t be his last.

Are you thinking about ways in which you would like to live a healthier lifestyle, but don’t know where or how to start?

Brian’s got some advice.

“Commit to yourself,” he says. “Know that spending time on “you” will pay off in more ways than you can ever imagine. Personally, I had to set small achievable goals to stay motivated. The first was one telephone pole without walking, the next was 1 mile, then a 5K then a 10K, etc. I have more energy now than when I was 25 years old. I exercise so I can continue to feel at 75 exactly as I do today. Everything is better with friends. Find a group to walk with, a hiking buddy, take a swim lesson. Learning something new is always exciting.”