January 2015 Fitness Success Story – Karen & Jack


Karen: I’m Karen McGrael and I’m from Dallas, Texas.

Jack: I’m Jack McGrael.

Karen: Jack doesn’t remember—he was doing everything normally until September 15th [2013]. He was working, camping, sailboat racing, exercising, everything, when he had a heart attack, a stroke, went on a ventilator, went through all the diagnoses.

They did open-heart surgery. Then he had to go through the whole recovery, which did not go well. In and out of rehabs, off and on the ventilator.

Finally he came home on July 17 [2014]. That’s when I started putting together this program which included New Wave Fitness and Cameron to come and do personal training with him.

I actually just went on the Internet as I was at the rehab facility. While he was there, I would go every day almost all day so I thought, Well, I’ve got to line these things up.

So I looked up “personal training,” New Wave Fitness came up and I called and spoke with several people and they said, “When you get home, we can line up having Hut come out and do an interview and get you started.”

Jack: Yes, I want to affirm that and express my appreciation of the reputation you had with the rehabilitation group at Presbyterian Dallas.

Karen: Rather than going through the home health, I thought this would be better for his state of mind. We’re out of the hospital setting, we’re going to try to do something more like I used to, more normal, so this is what I chose. Everyone kept saying, “Do the home health,” I’m like, no, I don’t think so.

Jack: I have improved my personal balance. I have improved my personal self-confidence.

Karen: I want to compliment Cameron on helping his balance. I don’t really know how he did it. It was just really not good at all; he was falling and all different thing, like a toddler or something, but then all of a sudden he just started maintaining his balance and he hasn’t fallen since August.

Getting physically fit like this has just given him so much confidence, he’s making calls to people he hadn’t talked to in a year. We’re going to go to the Boy Scout meeting on Monday evening. Just things that I didn’t think were possible 6 months ago.

I knew that’s what he would want but I just didn’t see how it was possible, but with the confidence he’s gained from getting stronger and getting to look like himself and act like himself, he’s able to start doing these things.

Jack: Before I had a heart attack, her dad and I were going to make suggestions for the regional golf course we play at, on how they could relocate some of the greens and bunkers and things like that to accommodate the North Texas winds, things you’re familiar with, hot sunshine…

Karen: But haven’t you been back out playing regular golf also?

Jack: We’re back out there doing that again.

Hut: You made a choice that a lot of people would not have made. A lot of people would have chosen home care. A lot of people would have chosen routes that weren’t proactive; they were reactive.

You chose the proactive route and as a result, we’re golfing again, we’re active again, and we’re moving in a direction that we weren’t completely sure about a few months ago.

Karen: Not at all.

Jack: I tried to get out on the golf course after just a month.

Karen: My dad said it was a little pitiful. He was trying to putt and stuff—they were on the putting green.

Hut: But you were out there.

Karen: At the time, my dad was like, “Boy, I never thought I’d see you doing this, Jack,” and then the next week, “Boy, I never thought I’d see you doing this, Jack!”

Hut: How does that make you guys feel, you being able to play golf again?Karen-Jack

Jack: Oh, we feel much better. It’s an attitude change of self-assurance.

Karen: I mean, we had to deal with so many different things and it’s amazing what he’s done and where he is. Finding this personal training, going that route and making it less like a hospital, less like medical, I think was a big key to getting back to normal life.

What I would say is, you better do it before something happens because you never know, and if he hadn’t been in such great shape, is what they kept telling me last fall when he had the surgery, he would not be here; there’s no way he would be here.

He had so much reserves from being in such great shape, he got down to where he didn’t have any, but if he hadn’t had them, he would have never made it. So doing all these things when you’re feeling fine, you think “why?” but if you do it, it will pay off.

Almost everyone faces something in their life and if you’ve done the health things, it may not hold that off forever but you’ll be able to survive it much better and have the base of good habits to want to get back to that.