The Story Behind VitalityPro
It was September of 2009 and my wife and I were taking our newborn son to meet his “uncle” Jason. I remember it well. Jason and I were rocking in the rocking chairs on his front porch. He had completed seven years of battling and beating brain cancer. Jason’s battle with cancer had been a beautiful balance of both courageous fight and graceful acceptance. Now, again, the cancer had come back and was mounting a terrible assault. Jason, who had never previously asked me to make a promise, now asked me to promise him one thing. He stopped rocking his chair and looked me straight in the eyes. He asked me to continue the research that we had begun to aid in his battle. Furthermore, he asked me to use such research along with his story to construct an integrative and functional approach to health and wellness. He was serious, so after quick contemplation, I promised. I didn’t know it then, but that would be the last time I would see Jason.
In the summer of 2002, Jason and his beautiful wife moved into town and purchased their new home across the street from ours. Jason had just graduated from law school and was starting his first job as an attorney with a local law firm. We were all about the same age and at the same point in life. Just one year earlier, my wife and I had purchased our first home as I began practicing medicine. With similar interest and hobbies, we naturally became instant best friends. A former college athlete, Jason enjoyed a vigorous, athletic lifestyle. One day, Jason passed out during an intense exercise routine. He and his wife made a trip to a local doctor’s office that would change their lives forever. The routine MRI was anything but routine. Jason was diagnosed with brain cancer and had only months to live. While traditional medical communities delivered the best of modern medicine, his loving wife recruited close family and friends to research for more. This group reviewed publications and research data from traditional and alternative sources covering topics of nutrition, fasting, exercise physiology, thermal therapy, recovery and much more.
Jason changed his lifestyle in accordance to many of these findings and lived not just the six months he was initially given, but over seven years. During this time, Jason was a loving husband, fathered two children, savored great relationships with friends and practiced law. Equally important, through his example Jason taught everyone around him the beauty of life and the importance of love. Jason fulfilled his purpose.
Why do we meet certain people in our lives? Why do we go through certain hardships, trials, and tribulations? After Jason’s death, I wrestled with these questions. During this period, a friend of mine gave me a quote that had given him strength during tough times. It reads, “We endure tribulations knowing that tribulations bring about perseverance, perseverance brings character, and character brings joy.” Initially, I questioned what joy and happiness could ever come from Jason’s death. But I was reading the quote all wrong. It doesn’t mean that joy or happiness will passively or automatically come to you after the tribulations. On the contrary, it means that you have to actively work through the tribulations by focusing on “all that’s true, noble, just and pure,” and that you must open the door for positive change in your own life and the lives of others. Only then will you have joy which is internal happiness.
After Jason’s death in 2009, I focused on our young and growing family and my career in emergency medicine. During this period, I served as the medical director of our trauma center and continued my work with many athletes and athletic organizations including NASCAR, professional surfers of WSL, Ironman triathletes and football teams to name a few. It was during the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii in December of 2014 that I would be challenged to keep that promise to Jason. I was providing medical support for the surfers during the event and was staying with the Johnson family. While watching the event from the Johnson’s backyard, our group’s discussion led me to tell Jason’s story. With excitement, several in our group asked what I had done to fulfill this promise. I told them that I had shared many of these health tips with my patients in the ER as well as athletes. This group then advised me that this promise was worthy of a grander production such as a foundation or research company. Feeling a little ashamed, I spent the rest of the trip and the next two months pondering what to do with Jason’s story and our research.
After much prayer, meditation and discussions with my wife and close friends, I decided to really keep that promise. So I committed to a dedicated research sabbatical starting May of 2015, which meant that I turned in my notice to leave full time ER practice. So goodbye to all the usual and known and welcome to the unpredictable and unknown. We set up our sabbatical home in the dorms of Pepperdine University and reconnected with former friends and professors including esteemed professor, Dr. Steve Davis and his wife Janet. I had remained friends with many members of the Pepperdine faculty and staff since attending and conducting research there in the early 90s. They were supportive of our sabbatical and helped us in every way possible. Many previously known friends, athletes and researchers, and new ones, were eager to participate and assist us. Of note, Laird Hamilton and Gabby Reece, welcomed us to their home. There, we discussed their training, our research and training and the need for “hybrid medicine,” as Laird coined it. It was at their pool that we met Orlando Bloom. His input would be a catalyst to the later development of our hypoxia and drowning research leading to our Pulm-Max program. Most of all, it was wonderful to see firsthand the talent of my wife, Regina, as a physical therapist. Her functional view of human anatomy and physiology, and therefore the need for functional integrative solutions, was the breakthrough of the research sabbatical. Anyway, I could go on and on about God’s providence and all the wonderful people and friends that gave generously of their time and talents. Truly, it was like Jason was up there in Heaven directing the entire sabbatical.
As the summer drew to an end, my hospital back home contacted me and proposed a contract bringing me back to ER practice while still leaving me time for this commitment. It made sense, so we returned back home and created a company called VitalityPro to continue our research and development begun during the summer of 2015. Since then, we have expanded our research and learned more about how to properly integrate nutrition, thermal therapy, breathing, sleep and recovery, and yes, fasting, into our daily routines to maximize overall health and performance and minimize injury and illness. We started health camps for clients with trainer and former football player, Brandon Rager, as well as free wellness programs for underserved populations.
We remain committed to that original promise made to Jason. So now you know where we’ve been and only God knows where we’re going. We encourage you in whatever capacity to join the VitalityPro family. Whether you are an elite athlete, an average Joe or one struggling with disease, we hope you find strength and wish you to: “have life and….have it more abundantly”.