Business Cover

The Six Pack

by Leslie Turk

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
This year's fit execs share their secrets to top performance.
By Leslie Turk**

It's not just about looking good - though that is one of the major benefits. Exercising and eating right is about taking care of your physical, mental and emotional health, a necessity for any busy executive, especially those of us who plan to be working for a very long time.

At 53, lawyer Jan Swift is in terrific physical condition - and enjoying every minute of it. "I exercise for the joy of it, and no longer out of the fear of being out of shape," says Swift.

Swift has witnessed first-hand how quickly people's quality of life can deteriorate when they don't take care of their health. "Both my parents had diabetes and suffered the horrible consequences of that disease," says Swift, who was her parents' main caretaker. "My dad had both legs amputated, suffered a massive stroke, and had heart failure. He did not take his health seriously, until it was way too late." Swift's mother died from congestive heart failure, and also suffered kidney failure and other complications of diabetes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
This year's fit execs share their secrets to top performance.
By Leslie Turk**

It's not just about looking good - though that is one of the major benefits. Exercising and eating right is about taking care of your physical, mental and emotional health, a necessity for any busy executive, especially those of us who plan to be working for a very long time.

At 53, lawyer Jan Swift is in terrific physical condition - and enjoying every minute of it. "I exercise for the joy of it, and no longer out of the fear of being out of shape," says Swift.

Swift has witnessed first-hand how quickly people's quality of life can deteriorate when they don't take care of their health. "Both my parents had diabetes and suffered the horrible consequences of that disease," says Swift, who was her parents' main caretaker. "My dad had both legs amputated, suffered a massive stroke, and had heart failure. He did not take his health seriously, until it was way too late." Swift's mother died from congestive heart failure, and also suffered kidney failure and other complications of diabetes.

Swift and five additional business people interviewed for this annual issue on executive fitness don't make excuses for neglecting their health. They make time to stay in shape while juggling challenging careers with social and family life. The key to their success in business is keeping their bodies - and in turn their minds - in the best shape possible.

And you should, too. "I have never again felt that exercise was a chore," says Swift. "I can move, and I want to be moving well into my older years as a complete, whole person."

Bruce Conque, 64
(65 on Feb. 24)
V.P. of marketing and governmental
relations for the Greater Lafayette
Chamber of Commerce

Kiki Frayard, 59
Owner, kiki in River Ranch

Dr. Jeffrey J. Joseph, 50
Physician at Acadian Ear, Nose, Throat and Facial Plastic Surgery Center; co-director of Acadian Skin Care and Laser Center

Jan Swift, 53
Manager, United Title of La. Inc.; executive director, Upper Lafayette Economic Development Foundation

Carl A. Turnley, 34
President, KTC Telecom

Gregory P. Daigle, 41
Partner, financial advisor, The Pinnacle Group


Bruce Conque

1. How long have you been into physical fitness and eating right?**
Bruce: Physical fitness since my 20s. Eating right has always been a challenge; I was raised by a mom who was a great Cajun cook.

Kiki: Does just thinking and reading about it count?

Jeffrey: I have been into physical fitness most of my teenage and adult life. I started eating right when my doctor informed me of my elevated cholesterol level.

Jan: My entire adult life, starting with college. I also worked at Foxy's Health Club when I was at LSU. Foxy Denham was just like Red Lerille, sincere in his desire to help others attain their best physical state.

Carl: 18 years

Greg: That's two separate questions, actually. I've been doing some sort of exercise since I was 10 (my father was a PE teacher), and have been involved in sports and weight lifting all my life. I wasn't concerned about nutrition, however, until this past October when my weight first went over 217 lbs.

2. Was there ever a time in your life when you did not work out? If so, explain and tell me what motivated you to get back in shape.
Bruce: I've always been active; however, there was a time in my early 40s when I gained significant weight and girth. Typical male response was denial until a female friend commented on my "enhanced" physique; then I took a critical look at myself in the mirror and determined that I would alter my lifestyle. My version of mid-life crisis?

Kiki: Yes, there was a time when work and family and a myriad of other factors gave me an "excuse" for not working out. My motivation to get back in shape? Vanity, what else!

Jeffrey: It was hard to commit to working out regularly during medical school and residency due to time restraints. However, I seemed to get motivated at the end of the semester before heading to Florida.

Jan: In my late 20s I was working and traveling so much that I did not exercise as much as I should have. I got thinner and did not have the energy I wanted. While I ate healthy foods, I always liked to eat colorful fruits and vegetables and had a low-fat diet, I knew I was cheating myself. Exercise is a gift to yourself, and I never want to lapse again due to "busyness."

Carl: My high school pictures remind me of Chris Brander in the movie Just Friends, and that is definitely motivating enough not to get out of shape.

Greg: The most I've ever "skipped" or taken a break from exercise has been about three months, after a foot injury.

3. What's your weekly workout routine?  
Bruce: I've been a member of Red's since the late '60s (thank you, Red, for providing such a great space.) I've been into tennis, running and biking for much of that time. Currently, I do intense cardio workouts as well as fairly heavy weight training - the combination necessary to put off the aging process. Age, despite my best efforts, does have its way: I'm no longer able to run because of arthritis in my feet. As a cardio alternative, I make extensive use of the treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bikes. Weekdays, I routinely do an hour and 15 minutes of exercise and stretches every morning prior to my work schedule; three times a week on weights and two for intense cardio; 30 minutes of cardio is my minimum daily goal. To prevent boredom, I vary my weight routine while still focusing on key muscle groups. For cardio, I seldom do more than 15 minutes of any one exercise except on weekends when I try to get in at least an hour of walking.

Gregory P. Daigle

Kiki: Right now I do Pilates Plus Evolution three times a week at the studio in River Ranch. I also work in about 30 minutes of cardio, either at home (I have a treadmill and a Stairmaster) or at the gym at City Club. Before this I worked out for a year with Dextria Sapp. This was the epiphany for me. She really pushed me to get stronger and healthier. I stopped worrying about how much I weighed and focused on how good I felt. I found that working out at home didn't work for me. I never got through a complete workout because I am so Type A, I would think about all the things I needed to do: e-mails to return, clothes to be washed. Yes, being Type A was also my excuse for not working out. I also did Zumba for a while, which is great fun, but I really have a problem with Zumba Gear, especially the pants. I need to get over this and get back to it, because it is a great un-boring workout. Truthfully, workouts are never boring. Get lost in your headhow much fun is that!

Jeffrey: I try to run 2-3 times a week, strength training at Red's two times a week and an extreme cross training class at City Club once a week - just to shock my body. It also helps that my wife, Jennifer, seems to enjoy forcing me to go.

Jan: I exercise every day, but not like a fiend. I have a treadmill and Schwinn Airdyne at home; 30 minutes of either is plenty. For Christmas a couple of years ago, I gave myself a TV and had electricians re-wire the loft so that I can watch TV while I exercise. I believe in what Jack LaLanne said: break a sweat every day. It doesn't take much to really feel good, especially when you have your iPod blaring your favorite Beatles' tunes. I go to Red's to exercise with the weights at least three to four times a week. I started that about a year ago when I was struggling in physical therapy with a lot of aches and pains. If I do not stretch every day and lift weights regularly, it is hard to get out of bed- the age thing. (I encourage everyone to look up our videos on Upper Lafayette's website: Dr. Timothy Church of the Pennington Biomedical Center spoke at a personal development symposium we put on last October, and his talk was taped for AOC. Tim lays out the minimum exercise requirements and also speaks eloquently about the newest studies proving that weight lifting is necessary to stay mobile as we age. He's right.)

Carl: Currently, I work out 5 days a week. My workouts consist of 45 minutes of weight training and 30-45 minutes of interval cardio training. I prevent my workouts from getting boring by implementing various weight training techniques such as shorter rest periods and supersets and utilizing various cardio machines.

Greg: Since I started working with Jheri Turnley, my personal trainer (who gets all the credit for this, by the way), I have completely changed the way I exercise. I still lift weights the same, but now instead of exhausting myself with cardio and running, I am tracking my heart rate during all cardio workouts, and doing three different "zones" per week, minimum, based on my resting heart rate and blood pressure. What I love about this is that Jheri suggested I do any exercise I like (walking, sprinting, jump rope, Stairmaster) as long as my heart rate stays in the correct range for the entire time. So that keeps it from getting too boring for me. I do still go to Anytime Fitness to workout, both for cardio and weights, but I also bought a pull-up bar that attaches to a doorway, so that I can workout at home when I don't feel like leaving the house (which is pretty often during the cold weather). I'll usually do pull-ups, push-ups and ab work with that device. Best thing I ever bought.

4. What's your diet like? What healthy foods do you eat a lot of?
Bruce: I depend on my wife for diet. She cooks "healthy" and still manages to make it appetizing. With that said, due to my schedule I mainly enjoy her cooking on weekends, and it's a challenge to be disciplined during the weekdays. However, for the most part, I succeed (thankfully, there's Lean Cuisine).

Kiki Frayard

Kiki: My diet is pretty healthy. I rarely, if ever, eat fried food. No pasta or rice. Only whole grain bread. Lots of fish, chicken and red meat only on occasion. It's not like I even think about it now; it's what I like to eat. I used to love cheese. Actually I still do, but I have pretty much cut it out of my diet. I eat very little dairy. But I do love red wine. Don't touch my red wine.

Jeffrey: I'm not extremely regimented. I try to eat salads and chicken when possible. I work out so I can eat.

Jan: I love fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, asparagus and broccoli. Steamed or broiled in their natural state, there is very little need for much seasoning or embellishment. I also love whole grains, cereals and wonderful crusty whole grain bread - especially with peanut butter. While I do not eat a lot of meat, there is nothing better than the tenderloin at Ruth's Chris.

Carl: I try to keep my diet at 45% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 15% fat. My diet consists primarily of chicken, lean beef, turkey, vegetables and sweet potatoes.

Greg: I don't cook, so the nutrition part has been really challenging. The first thing Jheri said to me when we met was that 80% of making a change was going to be dietary. That was not what I wanted to hear. My problem was that I was eating too many processed foods (out of simplicity), so I was eating "low-fat," but I was getting too much salt, and not enough protein. So, from a muscle standpoint, I was starving myself, and adding water-weight. No wonder I was tired all the time, and never could get any fitter. So now, I'm shopping at Fresh Market and eating a lot more grilled chicken, fish, turkey and lamb. I've also greatly increased my intake of non-fat yogurt, fruit and fresh vegetables.  Hummus is also a great snack, as well as rice pilaf. Greek food has been a life-saver when I want to eat out. I've also increased my protein intake with protein shakes and a protein bar as a snack, usually once a day.

5. What food is your biggest weakness? How often do you allow yourself to indulge?
Bruce: Sweets, especially chocolate. I do indulge on weekends if I've accomplished a full workout schedule for the week. And I substitute "good" sweets such as non-fat flavored yogurt if I need to satisfy my sweets appetite during the week.

Kiki: Red wine. Red, red wine. Well, it's very French to drink every day, but I would say two glasses three nights a week.

Jan Swift

Jeffrey: Steak, which I try to limit to twice a month. I also love spaghetti at Marcello's, but at least now I eat wheat pasta and substitute the meatballs for a grilled chicken breast.

Jan: I do not have foods that I absolutely crave, but baked chicken is a weakness for me. I know that probably sounds silly, but I could eat that for every meal. If I had to pick the best treat in Lafayette, it would be the gold brick sundae at Borden's. That chocolate sauce is pretty good. It is fun to go there after school with my youngest daughter.

Carl: For some reason my biggest weakness is French fries and chips. I do have a few cheat meals each week, and those two foods are usually included.

Greg: I do love chocolate, but not so much that I would consider it a weakness. I do love Chick-fil-A, so I have to really watch what I eat there. Waffle fries are just not helpful. One thing I've struggled with is the time, every five weeks or so, when I try to really limit my carbohydrates in order to "shock" my system. At that point, I have to cut out my iced coffee from CC's Coffee House for two or three days, and that is not easy to do, even when I drink iced tea instead. I am so happy to get my coffee and milk back on that 4th day. Alcohol is another change I had to make, but that just means a little more moderation, not cutting it out completely - thank goodness.

6. What food(s) would you never let cross your lips?
Bruce: Well, not never, but I do avoid heavily fried or buttered foods. It's tough in our food culture.

Kiki: Anything fried. And any fast food. I just cannot eat it.

Jeffrey: Cheese, but only because I'm not a fan, except on pizza.

Jan: I cannot think of one food that is too unhealthy. I believe it is more unhealthy to avoid foods you crave and then pig out on it later. Anything in moderation should be enjoyed when you want to treat yourself. Now as for beets, that food never crosses my lips no matter how healthy it may be.

Carl: Ha! That is always open for negotiation.

Greg: Doughnuts. There's just nothing good in those at all.

7. Balance is key to good health. So how do you balance work and fitness and what else do you do stay emotionally and mentally healthy?
Bruce: Actually, staying physically active addresses my emotional and mental health. Stress is relieved, and I tend to be more emotionally balanced when I'm regularly working out.

Kiki: My work is my play. I love what I do, and that counts for a lot. Also I have really committed to working out, mainly because I want to live a long time. At this point it has nothing to do with being thin or looking younger. I want to stay healthy and strong for my family. As far as mental and emotional health go, I have a fabulous marriage. I adore my husband, and he spoils me rotten so that pretty much takes care of a big chuck of the pie.

Jeffrey: Besides exercise, I enjoy art and paint regularly. It puts me in a relaxed state of mind.

Jan: Fitness is a daily activity, whether it is walking at Girard Park, weight lifting, etc. It is a habit that I do not think about anymore, unless I have to miss it due to travel. Having home exercise equipment is such a necessity - no more excuses about the weather, not looking good enough to be seen. Just do it. My favorite hobbies otherwise are Sudoku and reading. I love all of the Lafayette Parish libraries. With your library card and a good book the whole world is yours.

Carl Turnley

Carl: In order to balance work and fitness, I start my workouts at 4:30 every morning. In addition, I take 20 minutes at the end of day to concentrate and create a clear mental picture of the day and beyond.

Greg: I spend a fair amount of time at work, or thinking about work, and so the exercise really becomes a way to focus on something other than work. But I really didn't realize how much goals are important in any endeavor until Jheri set those out for me in terms of watching my daily intake of carbs and fat and protein, etc. Once I was given those dietary goals, it actually became a nice mental change of pace for me to track my food intake and exercise, rather than just always focusing on work. As far as other hobbies, just going out with friends on the weekends, watching movies, and getting a little karaoke in every now and then seems to keep me pretty sane.

8. Explain your level of commitment to working out. Do you ever make excuses or are you easily distracted say a friend calls to meet for drinks after work and you were planning to workout. Would you go?
Bruce: That's the beauty of a morning regimen. I don't get invites for social drinking, but does coffee count?

Kiki: I am 100% committed to working out. When you pay your hard earned $$$ to work out, you can skip drinks with friends. Plus I have better wine at home.

Jeffrey: I try not to make excuses. I try to make myself feel guilty for not working out.

Jan: My exercise is a form of meditation. The way to avoid excuses is to exercise first thing in the morning before the day gets away from you. Having drinks with friends is a great way to unwind, also, but the workout would come first. Zea is right next to Red's, so it's all good.

Carl: I am very committed to working out, as I train when I travel both for work and vacation. I don't ever make excuses - that is one of the advantages of working out in the mornings. It's allows me to have more free time after work, especially when I get the call to hang out with friends.

Greg: Although I initially cursed about diet being 80% of getting to the fitness goal, one great side benefit to that is I really do not have the guilt about skipping exercise that I used to have. It's all about the balance of diet and exercise. If I eat well, I know that I can skip a workout every now and then. If I eat poorly, or expect to have a long night out with friends, then I need to get the workout in, before or after, to make up for it. It really is a lot more flexible, which is great for my social schedule.

9. Any new workouts (yoga, Pilates), camps or machines you've recently discovered?
Bruce: I'm self-motivated and don't participate in group workouts or with a partner, though I'm always interested in something new with which to improve my physical condition. I just don't have anything new right now.

Kiki: I think everyone should try Pilates. My husband is doing P90X, and I've tried it a few times. It's pretty intense.

Dr. Jeffrey J. Joseph

Jeffrey: Extreme cross training. It gets me to incorporate different aspects of exercise into my workout that I don't ordinary do, and prevents my workouts from becoming stale.

Jan: No new tricks, although I have just returned to Pilates, which is the most satisfying exercise I have ever found. You can find such an inner peace and focus as you stretch and strengthen. When I get in the "zone" in Pilates, I feel as though I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. It really helps strengthen your shoulders and back also.

Carl: Recently, I had VO2 Max test performed, and I started training with heart rate monitor. The HRM allows me to train according to my heart rate, therefore increasing my intensity and avoiding injury.

Greg: That goes back to Jheri Turnley's plan again. It's not about a new type of workout so much as it is monitoring the heart rate, no matter the type of exercise. It has really made a difference for me, in terms of energy and fitness.

10. Have you ever gone on a special trip for the specific purpose of some type of physical workout or event? Anything you'd like to do, run the Boston marathon, etc.?
Bruce: During the winter of my 50th year ( :>] ), Aline and I spent Christmas on the north rim of the Grand Canyon at a Nordic Fitness Center, which has since gone out of business.

Kiki: Are you kidding? My idea of roughing it is going to the Northgate Mall. They don't make extension cords long enough for me to even contemplate workout events. In fact, I think I need to lie down and put a cold rag on my head.

Jeffrey: I usually run in the Crescent City Classic with close friends. We like the race, but really enjoy having a "carbo loading" dinner together the night before. Wine has carbs in it, right?

Jan: My favorite place to visit is the Camelback Inn Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. I found this wonderful and relaxing spa/retreat in the early 1990s. It was my place to go for Thanksgiving before I had my children. Today, I do have an interest in entering a marathon. But not as a runner. I would be so happy to find a beautiful setting and walk/jog the event. Not to compete, but for my own personal memories to look back upon and be proud to have completed the challenge.

Carl: My wife, Jheri, competes in the Musclemania Fitness circuit, so I always accompany her to support her success.
Greg: I do go to visit my brother almost every year in Dallas, and we usually run the Thanksgiving Day 5K "Turkey Trot." That's a pretty fun event, as there are 30,000 to 40,000 people running. It's pretty crazy. You don't really run that race for time; it gets that exercise out of the way before you load up on Thanksgiving day food. As far as events, I like 5Ks, but I think I'm done with trying to run longer distances. I'd much rather do the cardio I'm doing now, especially since the results have come so much easier.
11. What is your best health advice/tips to fellow execs who want to get in shape?**
Bruce: Make a commitment to physical conditioning. It not only benefits you, but improves your outlook on life which is shared with and appreciated by fellow workers and family.

Kiki: This is so cheesy, but it's so true - JUST DO IT. When the alarm goes off at 6 a.m. (I know for some of you die-hards, that's noon) I just take a deep breath and get up! All kidding aside, working out and eating healthy really does make every aspect of life better.

Jeffrey: In the midst of a busy day, you need to set aside time for yourself. Setting aside an hour, time for you to exercise, clears your mind, refreshes your thinking and re-energizes you.

Jan: Take care of yourself. No one else can do it for you. Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and go easy on yourself. The older I get, the more I know that exercise every day is my best gift to myself and those around me. It helps me unwind and also is a great way to meditate about creative solutions to your challenges. But if someone reading this is intimidated by going to a health club or starting a new exercise program, please know that we are all pulling for you. Your health is so precious and even little changes add up to big health benefits.
Carl: The best advice for executives is the "commitment to consistency." Every business needs a business plan, and everyone needs an exercise plan.

Greg: Get a trainer, or at least have some one put a diet and exercise plan together for you to follow, as Jheri did for me. Although I've been exercising in some form or fashion for 31 years, it's always good to have someone else analyze what you are doing and give you some input about the type of exercise you are doing and what you are eating.

12. Do you have any specific goals for 2011?
Bruce: To make it to my 66th birthday in good health!

Kiki: One chin up.

Jeffrey: In my practice, I spend a large amount of time with patients who want to "look as good as they feel." Most of my patients realize the importance of proper nutrition and exercise and how they contribute to a healthy lifestyle. This carries over to being more productive, both at home and in the work place, as this eventually channels into a greater self image and higher self-esteem.

Jan: Since I would like to participate in a marathon as a walker, I guess it's time to get a calendar and learn how to condition for this type of event. I want to finish with my head held high - not being wheeled away by the paramedics!

Carl: My health related goals are to reduce body fat to an achievable percentage and a 6-pack of abs - which hasn't been achievable in the past.

Greg: I'm down about 7.5 pounds since I started this new plan, and I'd like to drop about 5 more pounds, and about 3% more body fat. After that, it'll be as much beach and pool time as possible!