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Meet the Lucky Seven

Aired May 19, 2012 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Welcome to a very special edition of SGMD. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

I just arrived here in Kona, the big island of Hawaii and the home of triathlons. We're going to be training our "Lucky 7" for a week. These are seven who are joining me. We're getting ready for the Malibu triathlon in September.

Let's get started.


GUPTA: We'll get to our Fit Nation "Lucky 7" in just a moment. But, first, we've got some big medical headlines to get to from the mainland.

An HIV test you can do by yourself as home just got unanimous backing from an FDA advisory panel. You get results in about 20 minutes, and if it's approved this year, as expected, the test will be in drugstores over the counter.

The thinking is quite simple, so as more people will be tested if they can do it in the privacy of their own homes.


DR. DAVID MALEBRANCHE, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: If you're at home by yourself, at home with loved ones and that test comes up positive, you have to prepare to, as far what you're going to do, how you're going to react, what are going to be the next steps. Do you know where to go to seek medical attention? Do you have a support system you can talk to about this kind of things?


GUPTA: Also, a big push against Alzheimer's. The federal government announced new money and new plans to find an effective preventative treatment for Alzheimer's by the year 2025. One new study will administer an experimental drug to hundreds of people whose extended family in Colombia has a genetic mutation that almost always leads to Alzheimer's.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like science to find a cure for this disease for my daughter. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: They're hoping the drug will stop the disease from progressing.

Also, the latest headline in our continuing coverage of toxic America, led poisoning. The CDC has now lowered the threshold that's considered acceptable. In fact, they cut the limit in half.

Before this, fewer than 100,000 children were thought to be at risk. Well, now, that number is more than 300,000.

Lead, which is usually found in older homes from chips of old paint, devastating to the brain and the whole central nervous system. Most doctors, though like Phillip Landrigan, who's a pioneer in lead poisoning says amount of lead is simply too much.


DR. PHILIP LANDRIGAN, MOUNT SINAI SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Today, the mantra is that there's no level of lead in a child's blood that is safe.


GUPTA: And under the microscope here in Hawaii, a place that obviously has plenty of sunshine: sun block. You know, there's a lot of drugstore shelves that last year we were told would be gone by June. Well, the FDA has changed course when it announced that manufacturers now have until September to remove promises of waterproof and sweat proof from sunscreen labels because those claims just don't hold true. The FDA is also looking into whether spray sunscreens could pose a health risk from inhalation.

In the meantime, be mindful that if you use a spray, you might not be adequately covered. What you want to pay attention to when you read those labels is SPF. The numbers here might surprise you. Studies show that sunscreen with an SPF of 15 blocks about 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks out about 97 percent. SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. But here is thing, a SPF of 100 blocks 1 percent more, 99 percent.

So, save your cash with a lower SPF that's almost exactly as effective.

Lastly, you want to make sure it says broad spectrum on the label. This will protect you from UVA and UVB rays.

Now, we've been wearing plenty of sunscreen here in the Mauna Lani Bay, while training the Fit Nation "Lucky 7". As you know by now, they're a truly aspiring group of CNN viewers who in only a few short months have come a very long way.


RICK MORRIS, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: By the time you see this, I may already be dead from heart attack or stroke.

GUPTA (voice-over): It all began when seven lucky CNN viewers submitted their stories to our Web site.

GLENN KELLER, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: As we attempt to make a difference in other people's lives, I think the first life I need to make a difference in is mine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next September, I'm getting married to the father of my twins, Chris, after eight long years. And the biggest gift I feel like I can get him is starting our life off in fitness and in health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, two, three -- "Lucky 7".

GUPTA: They came together in Atlanta in early February to start this journey.

We dubbed them the "Lucky 7". They swam, they biked, they ran -- all of them beginner athletes with one audacious goal, to race the Nautica Malibu triathlon with me in September.

(on camera): No doubt you get across that finish line?


GUPTA: No doubt?

KLINGER: No doubt at all.

GUPTA (voice-over): To see them is to know they each have their own obstacles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had my right leg amputated below the leg, and my life changed forever.

But since kickoff weekend, they have been transforming themselves. Their workouts and their diets, one day at a time.

With just four months to go, there's still plenty of time to train.


GUPTA: And we're joined now by one of our athletes, Rick Morris, whose video we watched.

It's an amazing story. You're a veteran, and you wanted to quit smoking, two of the highlights I remember from your video. You actually put the cigarette out last time we met. And how has that been going? Have you been able to not go back?

MOORIS: I have. No relapses at all. I will never go back to smoking.

GUPTA: I always I talk about switches going off for people, all of a sudden, because, you know, a lot of people say, look, I have kids. I want to live a long time, but I still smoke or I still do things that are unhealthy. What made it possible for you?

MORRIS: I think just the total desire to want to quit, you know? I got tired of not sleeping well. I got tired of feeling poorly, you know? I was very concerned about my health.

I don't know there was one single thing. I think it was a combination of a lot of things and I really wanted to quit because of all of the negative aspects of smoking. I can tell you, it feels like someone has taken a dirty filter out of my lugs.

GUPTA: I saw you on the bike yesterday. It looked like you were plugging away really well.

If you talk to our triathletes, one of the things they will tell you almost universally is that in order to do this, accomplish this audacious thing, you have to overcome some significant obstacles.

Nancy, thanks for joining us.

What were some of the things you were most worried about when you started this?

KLINGER: I was worried about every aspect of it. I guess I was most worried about the commitment and making the time and feeling guilty for making the time --

GUPTA: Right.

KLINGER: To do some things for myself.

GUPTA: You said the old Nancy is gone.

KLINGER: The old Nancy is gone.

GUPTA: What does that mean?

KLINGER: I went for a bike ride yesterday. And I felt like I just became this different person on this bike ride. And I felt like I could ride forever. I rode in and someone said to me, "Nancy, that was great." I guess my response was, that wasn't Nancy. So, it's hard to explain, but it's just -- I'm a different person now.

GUTPA: I think we've just heard the description of transformation. That's what it is. That's what we have been trying to do. We're going to have many more stories of people actually overcoming the obstacles, doing the training, and hopefully you at home learning someone along the way.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: You can read the sign right there, it's the official swim start for the ironman triathlon. We're here in Kona. Triathletes, especially new triathletes, almost university they tell you the most intimidating part of doing a triathlon is the open water swim. A lot of kids who never learned to swim have a hard time picking up sport as adults as well, and Glen Keller, one our triathlon was in that position yourself.

Thanks for joining us.

KELLER: You're welcome.

GUPTA: How has it been going?

KELLER: Great. A lot of good training.

GUPTA: Pretty intense, huh?

KELLER: Pretty intense.

GUPTA: We're not joking around here. I mean, this is a serious commitment.

KELLER: Every day, day in and day out.

GUPTA: Tell me about the swimming. First of all, did you know how to swim as a kid or a young person?

KELLER: I actually thought I did until I got into the training. I found out I was playing in the water and getting from one point to the other without drowning.

GUPTA: Right. Learning how to not drown.

When you look out at this water and this is the ironman swim start over here, what goes through your mind now? In terms of -- I mean, you're still intimidated? Less so?

KELLER: I'm not as intimidated because the whole swimming part has taken me out of the comfort zone. I could bike, I pick up me feet and put them down and run, but swimming wasn't my thing. And we tend to gravitate to what we're comfortable to.

GUPTA: Right. Thanks a lot.

KELLER: Obviously, when you talk triathlons, you talk about three sports. The swim that Glen was just talking about. We're going to talk about the biking in just a little bit.

But the run, the last part of the race, Jeff Dauler is here joining me. It's in some ways even if you're a runner, it's the hardest part because it's the end. You know, you've already swam, you've already biked. You're tired. You're digging deep. You weren't a runner?

JEFF DAULER, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: I wasn't a runner. I wasn't an athlete at all. As a matter of fact when you came on the radio show in January, five months ago, less than five months ago, my coach April and I about a week later went out to this 5k course near the house, and we walked it, and I ran one little quarter mile distance. That was a start. Like three or four minutes running. And every week, I would get out there and just put one foot in front of the other.

If I started at three minutes, I tried to go to 3:30, and then 4:00. And I'm running a 5k twice a week.

GUPTA: You know, one of the things we hope to get out of this triathlon challenge is obviously helping people like you, but then having you help and inspire a lot of other people.

You're a well known radio DJ. A lot of people listen to you. How -- what's the response been?

DAULER: You know what? It's been kind of mind-blowing because I get every single day with e-mail or some sort of social media, a note from somebody calling me an inspiration. And that's not something that I ever would have considered myself. I never would put myself in the category of somebody who inspires.

But I think people are just excited at the fact that 4 1/2 months ago, I was barely doing a quarter mile. And I was sore the next day and winded for 20 minutes afterwards. And talking about my journey, I am able to go 5K, four miles I ran the other day here in Hawaii.

So I think it's -- I think it's -- if I can do it, anybody can do it. And I think it's cool that people are responding to that.

GUPTA: Look, congratulations. No doubt you're going to be at that finish line?

DAULER: Absolutely. I can't wait to get there.

GUPTA: I love to hear that, man. Thanks a lot.

DAULER: See you there.

GUPTA: And as I mentioned, Jeff, stick around for this, you know, it's the swim, the run, as Jeff talked about. In the middle of that is the bike ride.

We're going to join another one of our athletes. Adrienne, like Jeff, didn't see a dream of doing what she is doing now.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.


GUPTA: We're back with SGMD.

Many of you probably rode bikes as kid, but imagine slipping into a bike, racing it in a race, and even doing it on a Queen K Highway, which is home of the ironman here in Kona. That's exactly what Adrienne, one of our triathlon athletes just did.

You didn't think you'd be able to do this just a few weeks ago.


GUPTA: How -- what was it that made you able to do this now?

LAGIER: Well, you know, really, it's Ronny. It's -- I was about to use a flat pedal bike, and she -- I said, no, I'm going to try the clips. I was scared because I kept falling while dismounting just a week prior. She said, I'm going to show me a trick. So, she came up and she told me what to do.

GUPTA: What was it?

LAGIER: So, I kept falling on my clipped in leg when I was on the bike.


LAGIER: I would unclip with my left and then I would freak out and then I would fall right.

And so she said, you know, unclip with your left and then slow down, and then on your right, which was clipped in, hug the bike.

GUPTA: With your leg like this?

LAGIER: Yes, because even -- and Denise said this, too. She said, even if, you know, you fall, you're going to fall on your leg that's clipped out.

GUPTA: You're getting married right around the time of the tri. You had a lot of goals. You wanted to accomplish this tri and have it in conjunction with the wedding.


GUPTA: Are you feeling comfortable? I mean, you wanted to lose weight, you wanted to become more fit. Are you able to measure success?

LAGIER: Definitely. I've lost -- before I tame here, I lost 23 pounds.


LAGIER: And the past five weeks, I have been really kind of restricting my diet to no dairy and no meat and no sugar and no caffeine. So I thought it was going to be really hard. I haven't been perfect. I have cheated a few times with some shrimp and --

GUPTA: Right.

LAGIER: But that alone, I just feel like I'm so much more in control, especially when eating out, because the menu options are just so limited. And so --

GUPTA: You know this, and a lot of people are learning this at home as well. But nutrition, hydration, all of that, especially while you're training and while you're racing, is so important. You can't ignore that stuff at all. Let's talk about that next. We're joined by Chris Lieto and Carlos Solis.

Chris is a three-time ironman champion, a professional athlete. Carlos, of course, is our "Lucky 7".

Thanks to both of you for joining us.


GUPTA: We got off a pretty good bike ride. One thing that always comes up, Chris, is just nutrition, hydration, all along your training, obviously in competition. Hot outside.

How do you manage, first of all, your nutrition?

CHRIS LIETO, PROFESSIONAL IRONMAN TRIATHLETE: Yes. I mean, you have to watch about your environment. When you come to an island like this where it's hot and you come from a location that's a little bit cooler, you have to make sure you get the electrolytes.

GUPTA: You've got to get the calories and not just -- I mean, water is great for most activities, but here, you need more.

LIETO: You need calories, for sure. You know, if you need prior to a workout, that's great. But even if you're out for an hour workout, you still have to put some calories in you.

GUPTA: Chris, I don't know if you know, but Carlos is actually a type 2 diabetic, obviously has not done a triathlon before. I just find this inspiring because we hear so many people who are diabetic saying this is not for me. The diabetes prevents me from doing that. Not true.

I mean, how has the experience been?

CARLOS SOLIS, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: It's been -- it's been beyond my expectations.

GUPTA: You listen to what Chris says. You've been obviously been doing your own homework on hydration, nutrition. Is it harder for you as a type 2 diabetic?

SOLIS: When I started working out, it was hard, because it was -- you know, am I eating too much, you know? Am I taking in too many calories? So I just increased my checking my blood sugar level. And, you know, being diabetic, you know, I do it two, three times a day. When I'm working out, I do a pre-check and a post check.

GUPTA: A lot of diabetics tell me, if they do it right, it could be easier to manage their diabetes when they're actively training.

SOLIS: Yes, you have to do it right. You cannot mess with this disease. It will take your life if you do. I don't want to do that.

GUPTA: Thanks a lot, Chris and Carlos. Appreciate it. What I'm about to introduce you now to one of the most inspiring people I think you may ever meet. She also happens to be a member of our "Lucky 7".

Denise, how is it going? You're here in Kona.

DENISE CASTELLI, FIT NATION PARTICIPANT: Oh, I know. Life is great right now.

GUPTA: Pretty beautiful.


GUPTA: Denise, people see you right away that you are missing below the knee on your right leg.


GUPTA: Tell us what happened.

CASTELLI: In 2008, while I was a senior in college, I was sliding into second base and I broke my leg, and from that day, I just had an infection, and there were problems with surgeries after that. So I ended up an amputee.

GUPTA: You were pretty young.

CASTELLI: Yes, I was. I was 22 when I broke my leg and I was 24 when I was amputated.

GUPTA: You were an athlete. I mean, this happened why you were playing sports.

CASTELLI: Yes, I played collegiate softball.

GUPTA: Could you -- at that time, I imagine there were so many things going through your mind. One of which was I may never be an athlete again.

CASTELLI: Yes, I remember very, very clearly being -- laying in the hospital and right after the amputation, and thinking, OK, you need to pick up the covers and you need to take a look at your life now. And you know, it took a lot of courage, but I decided I had to face it head on and try to regain my life back.

GUPTA: You are going to be competing in the triathlon with everyone else.

CASTELLI: Of course, yes.

GUPTA: Tell us a little bit about that, because -- you know, people who aren't familiar with triathlons, you start off literally in this race running into the water.


GUPTA: And then you come out and you're going to be transitioning to a bike. Describe what that's like for you.

CASTELLI: Well, I'll have a handler with me. And the handler will give me a shoulder to lean on. I'll have to hop into the water. As soon as I can get into the water and swim, I know some people are going to run until they probably got up to their waist and then start swimmer.

For me, it's completely different. As soon as I can get down onto my belly and start swimming, it eliminates the amount of hopping I have to do.

GUPTA: Is this a -- is this a wholesale change in your life? Meaning, this is obviously an event in Malibu in September. But how much on impact for the rest of Denise's life has this made?

CASTELLI: I -- now that I'm doing this, I know that I can do absolutely anything. I mean, the possibilities are -- it's limitless now, and I know that. Just getting out there and swimming, hopping in the water and swimming and coming back out, getting on a bike and running -- you know, I can't believe that two years ago, I was laying in a hospital bed thinking my life was over. And now, here I am today living my life to the fullest.

GUPTA: Really appreciate it. It's a real inspiring thing. A real honor to know you.

CASTELLI: Thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

We're going to be talking about something that can help you chase life right after the break. You hear a lot about coffee. You hear about the caffeine in coffee, but there is something that might help you as well. We'll explain. Stay with us.


GUPTA: You know, it's worth pointing out that it's not all about training here in Kona. There's something else that Kona is well known for. And you may already have guessed. It's coffee.

And if you're like most Americans, you already had a cup today. Most Americans drink about 3.1 cups on average.

A question a lot of people ask, is coffee in fact good for you? So, we have come to the place to ask the question. We're going to find the guy to give some answers. Come with me.

These are coffee -- they look like fruit.

TRENT BATEMAN, MOUNTAIN THUNDER: This coffee comes from a flower. Then it becomes a fruit like it would a citrus. It goes green, and you grow to color. And I'm going to squeeze this and pop out the two beans.

GUPTA: These are actually what the coffee -- how it all starts. BATEMAN: Two coffee beans and a cherry. We call it coffee cherry even though it's coffee, as a fruit.

GUPTA: One of the things I hear often, triathletes and others alike is that coffee can be healthy in moderate.

BATEMAN: In moderation, the studies have shown if you drink too much coffee, it can not be good for your heart. But two cups a day is good for your heart.

GUPTA: There are specific things in the beans themselves, but also the skin. I've heard about chromium, magnesium, in fact, being helpful for people who have diabetes.

BATEMAN: Many, as well as in the skin, there's polyphenols, antioxidants, with a rating of that of nine times of blueberries.

GUPTA: Can we go grab have a cup of coffee?

BATEMAN: Let's do that.

GUPTA: All right. Let's do that. But let -- we're going to let you go as well. Let me say again what Trent said, you know, you want to do these things in moderation. Four to seven cups, for example, probably too much coffee, too much caffeine, can cause anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, and what we're talking about here in terms of these health benefits are coffee and coffee alone. Not just caffeine drinks such as soda drinks that may have a lot of caffeine.

So, we're going to have our coffee and enjoy these beans a little bit. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you back next week in SGMD.

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