Meet a Health Hero: Stephen Brown

Read more about Team in Training's Stephen Brown, a semi-finalist in our 2012 Health Hero Challenge!

>> Vote in the Health Hero Challenge here!

Name: Stephen Brown

Occupation: Team in Training coach with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, triathlete, author

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?

There are obvious reasons like living a longer, healthier, and happier life. But for me there is a whole additional level of motivation. I am connected with many networks and communities and feel very strongly that I have the ability to use my lifestyle as a means to motivate others to do great things. I like to lead by example and prove to people just what can be done if they believe in something and commit to it. I also want to be healthy for my own family. Years from now, I want my extended family and their friends to watch me race, and have one of the little ones ask, “No way! He is your grandfather??” (Or who knows, maybe even great grandfather.)

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.

A “turning point” would imply a change in the direction that my life has taken. I didn’t really have a turning point because the health and fitness side of Steve Brown hasn’t really changed. I have been an athlete and on the move since I could walk. But I have had many “propulsion points.” These are points where I have had physical or emotional moments of realization and been able to elevate myself to a higher level. A few examples would be my first marathon. I explained to my wife that I just needed to run one to get it out of my system. That was 20 marathons ago. My first Ironman triathlon would be another propulsion point. And yes, my wife and I had the same discussion about that and the current Ironman count is up to 10. Another huge propulsion point was signing on as a triathlon coach with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program just days from being diagnosed with leukemia myself. Being able to share my knowledge and passion for the sport of triathlon in exchange for eager triathletes raising funds and awareness for blood cancers like mine, is the perfect partnership. I swear I gain more than I give from that relationship and organization.

What “policy” would you institute to make Philadelphia a healthier city?

The bottom line is we need to create and foster a lifestyle. And we need to do so at a very young age as kids enter organized daycare or preschool. Movement and exercise should be one of the foundations of the development of our youth; instead we are cutting programs to trim budgets. Have the programs led by volunteers if we need to but keep the kids moving right through school, into college and adulthood. Let’s create the platform for this lifestyle so that they can also become active seniors who are ingrained to exercise.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?

I actually have two but they are related. 1). The commitment to stick with your plan. And 2), The ability to be creative and flexible when someone throws a curve at your schedule and you can’t work out when you may want to.

What is your No. 1 piece of health related advice or encouragement?

You can do this. But it is a process and you need to be patient as you work through and develop yourself to meet your goals. Celebrate the small, incremental milestones while still keeping one eye on the ultimate goal. Very few people were capable of playing in the Philharmonic the very first time the picked up a musical instrument.