For those of you that know a lot about me, or even for those of you that do not know a lot about me, I LOVE FOOD! And when we say food, I mean mostly anything-pizza, cheese, bagels, pasta, other carbs and more carbs, steak, burgers, chicken, fish, and the list can go on. In addition to loving food and eating, I also went to culinary school. Meaning, I can cook. And when I cook, I do cook healthy delicacies, but I also no stranger to rich sauces and food.Fish

Over the years, my dietary habits weren’t the best. I really feel that the latter half of the title of this week’s article “NOT LIVE TO EAT,” really defined the person I used to be. I would indulge daily in Starbucks sausage breakfast sandwiches, have some other form of meat smacked between two pieces of bread, and then cap off the night with pizza or Chinese food. Oh, wait! Don’t forget to throw a cookie or two in the mix. Up until a few years ago, I was all about eating out. Forget my culinary education. I was not cooking much, and often I ate beyond the point of satiation. Needless to say, I now believe that I did damage to my body, my mind, and more specifically my overall health.

Being officially diagnosed with Scleroderma back in April of 2017 was a complete shock and wake up call. Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune connective tissue disease that can permeate internal organs leading to complications and in some patients can even cause death. Thankfully, according to my doctor, my fitness level has helped me substantially. While my skin is tight, I suffer from digital ulcers and fatigue, and I have been fortunate enough to have a clean bill of health when it comes to my internal organs (I still get various tests on them twice a year). So, why do I bring this up in a discussion on delectable goodness!? The reason is because my lifestyle choices, specifically the bad ones, have most definitely contributed to the autoimmune conditions that I live with daily.

Now, I am not saying if you eat a slice of pizza you are doomed to questionable mortality issues. Rather, I am saying too much and too frequent of those bad things can lead you down a destructive path. I thought because I was in fitness, I could eat anything and everything I wanted: Quite the contrary in fact. As a result of this diagnosis, I have worked aggressively to change my diet. Last year I did an AIP (autoimmune protocol diet) for 28 days that was extremely restrictive. It was Paleo in style and eliminated all grains, dairy, wheat, eggs, fruits and more. WOW, what an impact. At the completion of that month, I had lost about 10 pounds (my wife called me Skinny Minny) and most importantly; I did not have as much, nor feel as much inflammation in my body. My hands felt less tight and I was even able to almost make an entire closed fist.

Since that month I have incorporated various foods back in my diet, and yes I have for sure fallen “off the wagon.” However, what I have learned is that food can either make you feel better or it can make you feel worse.  It can make you healthier or it can make you sick/er. When I cut out things like diary and gluten it makes a world of difference. So, where am I today?

My wife and I have watched numerous documentaries such as What The Health and Forks Over Knives. These movies, as well as the information I am learning in graduate school have opened my eyes to the world of plant-based nutrition. I am not the carnivore that I have been in the past. I have committed to dramatically cutting my meat consumption, though I do not intend to give up meat entirely. Not only am I confident based on the research that it will do well for me, but it certainly will help out our environment and ecosystem. My goal is to adopt a predominantly plant-based diet, and every so often (within reason) enjoy a burger, a slice of pizza, or try a new restaurant.


The old Greg of daily sausage sandwiches and weekly baked ziti are a thing of the past. My commitment is for a long and healthy life. Our planet has an abundance of food resources that were designed specifically to fuel us in the right way. There are ways to make vegetables and grains delicious without having to slather them in cheese, fatty sauces or put them on gluten containing breads. I am on a journey to reverse my illness through food, positivity and movement. I would love if you would join me on this quest to eat to live and not live to eat.  As Hippocrates said, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.  Happy and healthy eating my friends.

Where I Have Been

Woah! It has been a long time since I shared words, experiences, joy, pain and Reflectinspiration with you. I had all the intentions in the world to write more consistently, to share more openly, and to inspire more passionately. And while I could sit here and list a litany of excuses some of which include my own laziness; the daily demands of life with work and school (yes, I am back in school, more on that later), but alas I digress. Excuses do not get us anywhere! So, instead of making them, I am going to own my shortcomings.

I think it is appropriate to first apologize to myself for not leading and showing my true authentic self. Second, I apologize to all of you for not showing my vulnerabilities, and more so for neglecting my previously promised weekly dialogue. Now, with those apologies out of the way, I would like to offer a new and revived vow of committing to a weekly post on my journey—good, bad, indifferent or anything else. Aside from holding myself accountable, I want to enlist your support in holding me accountable. Remember in any community, we only get stronger by lifting up those around us.

Let me quickly tell you where I have been and where I am going. I am now one year deep into a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on Lifestyle Management at Loma Linda University. Scleroderma provided me with a wake up call to help others create a better life in an effort to prevent chronic illness; but also to help those fighting the battle of chronic illness. By the way, I also have straight A’s [yes, I am a school nerd].

The next piece of news is that I registered for a second consecutive year to run the Los Angeles Marathon in order to raise awareness for Scleroderma and money for the Southern California Scleroderma Foundation. Not only am I asking for people’s financial support, but also to help get the word out. If you live local to the race, I am asking you to come out and cheer me on as well as all the other amazing athletes as we conquer this feat. If you are not local, please share my fundraising link with anyone and everyone you know and follow my journey on social media.


On a personal note, aside from creating awareness and raising funds to support patients, I am trying to conquer my goal of running the marathon in under four hours. To be more specific, I am looking to destroy my time of 4:21 in my first ever marathon in 2018 and complete my 2ndmarathon in 3 hours and 45 minutes or less!

Thank you again for your compassion and support. I look forward to my newly committed journey with you. We all have our good days and our bad days. We all struggle and we all need the support of others. Let’s continue to battle together in the tough times and celebrate one another in all the good times. Stay tuned as we continue our commitment to movement and positive thinking.

Know Your Why

When I set out to run the Los Angeles Marathon, I did it for many reasons. Probably the three most significant reasons were to inspire others with Scleroderma and chronic illness to live their life and be active. The second reason being to prove to myself that amidst my own pain and discomfort, I could still be an athlete and be successful. And the third reason was to make my rock and number 1 supporter Arielle, proud of her husband. But it wasn’t until today that this whole thing really started to take shape when my wife asked me today why I decided to commit to running the LA Marathon.

See, the reason she brought the question up is because I have not been true to myself and even to you. While I signed up to achieve this display of athleticism, I have not fully committed to what it takes to get there. Yes, I go out on runs, but am I doing what I REALLY need to be doing to not only complete it, but also finish the race uninjured? Contrary to what you read in my blog and see in my fitness photos on social media, while all of those platforms do convey the truth, they are not the complete picture.

On various social platforms and outlets, I am an advocate for a life that incorporates movement and fitness. I want people not to be defined by their illness or physical conditions. Instead, I want them to fight and define the illness they have by living life fully and battling everyday. But alas, I am human. I too get depressed, make excuses or I just sit because of the joint pain and tightness in my skin. Recently, a wave of discouragement hit me as I looked at a headshot photo that was taken of me at my for my job at Equinox Fitness Clubs. The photo, which should have highlighted what a strong, handsome man I have continued to become as I approach 40 years of age, to me came
across as something different. What I saw instead was a face that has completely changed over the years becoming tighter, thinner, and its features getting smaller.









Witnessing my body change from my face, to my hands, to my feet makes me sad. It makes me not want to run, let alone do anything. The physical and emotional hurt at   times can be overwhelming, making it hard to cope or maintain gusto. So, while I may not turn to something addictive like food (overeating), drugs or alcohol, I turn to something worse; laziness and lack of focus. This recent self-realization has me wondering, how can I be this voice for others? How can I be an advocate for a life worth living? Well, I believe the answer is simple. Having someone in your corner who pushes you and knows what you are capable of. Sometimes just asking a tiny question can put you back on track. Today, that question came from my wife in the form of, Why did you decide to run the marathon?

After that question and seeing the lack of alignment between words and actions, I ran 5 miles then scheduled the rest of my runs this week. When you are sad, down and question yourself, who is there to push you? Who is the person you know will ask you that one important question and get your butt into gear? If you do not have that person, let me know and I will be that person for you.

To all my warriors out there, it is ok to be sad. It is ok to ask why and to know not every day is going to be the best day. The important thing to remember when in this rut is that each day is YOUR day. You have a choice to be keep fighting, or you can choose to lose slowly. Choose the fight, it is worth it. Find someone to ask that one important question to hold you accountable and keep you on track. Remember, we write the definition of life, not the other way around.

Join me as I continue not only mine, but OUR journey to the LA Marathon finish line.







A Journey Begins

Welcome to week one of a weekly multi-part series on my journey to run and complete the Los Angeles Marathon. I decided just after the New Year that I was going to train, run, and complete the 26.2 mile pavement course from Dodger Stadium to the “Sea,” which culminates in Santa Monica, CA. In just shy of 3-months of training, on March 18th, 2018, I will make my marathon debut!


So why do it? My journey was created to inspire and motivate a community of warriors and fighters; some who are physically unable to walk, get out bed or let alone run a single mile. This community of amazing individuals who fight daily to grasp for cups or pens as their fingers have started to curl due to a connective tissue disease that is slowly turning them into stone. A community of fighters that have trouble catching their breath walking up a flight of stairs because Scleroderma has found its way into their lungs, causing pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension. My desire to run was in an effort to bring hope to this community; to show others with the same condition as me that even though you may not be able to run a marathon, you are more than just a disease. I want to inspire movement, I want to inspire others to rise up and live life to the best of their ability, to face adversity, and kick it in its teeth.

As Scleroderma patients, people who have autoimmune or other chronic illnesses, we so often fall prey to being defined by the disease we have. At times, the weakness and stiffness those afflicted with autoimmunity have hold us back from living, moving, and thriving in the manners in which we’d like. We succumb to the voice inside our head telling us to lay down, sit on the couch, or skip our workout. And I get it. I get railroaded by exhaustion and pain too, but I am trying everyday to fight it in an effort to fight for myself.

We are frightened by our mortality. Believe me I know, I have shed many tears and shared my thoughts with those around me.

The truth is, my journey honestly scares me. I too wake up in the morning, tired, stiff and uncomfortable. I have gone on 2, 3 and 5 mile runs where my knees ache and my muscles fatigue just as my foot hits the pavement on step number one. I am worried and nervous that this odyssey in which I have so eagerly embarked upon could quickly come to an end. And not because of my mind, but because my ever deteriorating body will sideline me.

I have always been an athlete; I wrestled in college, played soccer in high school, and enjoy doing fitness related things. The last time I really did something that was a true test of an athlete’s mind and will was about 4 years ago. It was when I completed the Napa Ragner Relay Race with my then girlfriend and now wife, Arielle. Over the course of three legs that I ran, each spanning over 24 hours, on a team of 11 other people, I ran a total of 17 miles. Not only did I do well, I crushed my distances in mile paces less than 8 minutes, ultimately earning the admiration of Arielle.


Oh boy, did that 24-hour ordeal hurt at times. Little did I know that at this time my body was already slowly beginning to attack itself because of Scleroderma (which at the time I had yet to be diagnosed). As the next few years went on, my hands and joints began to show signs of the disease. It wasn’t until April of 2017 that my rheumatologist confirmed my diagnosis. Now as my wife pushes me to go to the gym, I often opt out due to my lethargy and tightness in my skin and body, thereby giving in to my autoimmunity.

This journey, while it is in an effort to motivate and inspire others to stay or become more active, it is also a way to educate and inform others about Scleroderma and to raise money for the Southern California Scleroderma Foundation. But that is not all. This is also for me. It is a chance for me to prove to myself that I am more than this illness. I am a fighter, I am a warrior, I am an athlete, and most of all I am Scleroderma.

Please join me over the next two months as I share my successes and my failures right here in my blog.

Better yet, learn more about this rare illness, and if you feel so inclined donate to my fundraising page to help bring patient support, advocacy and other resources to so many brave warriors in this community. Run4

Push Through The Ouch

We all know that person who complains about working out because they had a long day at work, are tired, have to get home to the kids, or even they’re super sore from the gym the day before. Perhaps this has been you from time to time—rattling off publically your inner debate: Should I got to the gym? Stay home? Go home? Hell, should I just go to the bar or open a bottle of wine?

And there are those people. You know ‘those’ people. The ones who seem to have it so easy, make no excuses—hit the gym day in, and day out; all while making it look easy. Granted, we cannot make assumptions about anyone and his/her life. But what I can say is this; as someone battling a chronic illness, my struggle is vastly different than others.

There is no escaping the pain. The aches. The tightness. The overwhelming fatigue. It never, ever goes away. Sometimes, it gets to the point where all I want to do when the alarm clock rings in the morning is just stay in bed all day. Frankly, at this point, when presented with the opportunity to go to the gym, I’d much prefer to lay on the couch and watch TV because it will not hurt as much.

Daily when my alarm goes off, I lift my arms over my head and squeeze my fists together for that all so famous morning stretch and yawn. Reaching above my head as high as I can, my skin tight, it feels as if it is literally tearing away from my body at my shoulders. My hands are so tight that only my pinky can touch my palm; so forget making a fist. I step down on the floor, my knees ache, and my lips and mouth so taut, as I try to stretch my mouth apart to get the morning yawn in. As I think about my day ahead the last thing on my mind is a workout at the gym—I am just trying to get out of bed!

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Arielle and I decided to try out a new Crossfit gym in the neighborhood. So, with much trepidation we embarked on the 5-minute drive down to Angeleno Crossfit. My mind was racing, worrying about the impeding WOD and how I would manage. My hands were already stiff and inflamed with a band-aid neatly wrapped around my right index finger that housed a 6-week-old digital ulcer. We arrived at the box and headed in for the workout. After the warm up, the coach give us the rundown; 30 air squats, 19 power cleans, 7 strict pull-ups and a 400M run. The prescription (Rx) called for 6 times in a 38-minute block. Having not taken a Crossfit class in about 2 years, nor performing power cleans since college (almost 20 years ago), I scaled back on weight and had a go.

Four rounds in I was crushing it! While my hands and forearms were fatiguing, I was determined to push through. I looked over at my cute wife covered in white chalk and I thought, I cannot let her see me give up. I am her knight in shining armor, her hero, her MAN.


Then came round five and I was about 10 power cleans in when something just did not feel right with the inside of my thumbs on both hands. I kept going and got my 19 reps—woo freaking hoo. As I transitioned to do my pull ups on the rig, I glanced down at my thumbs and to my shock, I saw the skin ripped clear off. The top layer of my skin separated on both sides, revealing raw skin about the size of a dime. If you have ever ripped your skin at the top layer, or had a blister open up prematurely to expose young, fresh new skin, “OUCH.” The pain is then magnified 10 fold once you run them under water with soap. Needless to say, after five sets I had to call it quits. While I was not going to Rx the workout based on prescribed weight, I was on track to complete all 6 rounds in under the 38-minute time marker.

Let’s fast-forward a week.

I am at my new job as a Group Fitness Manager for Equinox in Palos Verdes. A main benefit of my job, I get to wear workout gear all day long. Wait, that is not really the main benefit. The true perk is that I can workout everyday if I wanted and do not really have an excuse why I can’t or shouldn’t. I have a free membership and a plethora of fitness equipment at my disposal. I put my new wireless Beats headphones on, had a sick new playlist ready to go and had my comfy sneakers on, so I got my butt up from my desk chair and headed to the treadmill. I decided to run for 12 minutes and do some weight lifting. Halfway through my cardio session, my toes were numb because I was slightly chilled, thank you Raynaud’s Syndrome.

My knees started to ache and I just felt tight all over. Cardiovascular-wsie, I was great but still I felt horrid and pushed through before heading to the weight floor.

I decided to do a circuit of bench press, push-ups and burpees. Albeit, since I have not been lifting much my strength has decreased. But that was not the main issue. I was having trouble hoisting the weight above my chest because my shoulders and elbows were screaming with fatigue and my forearms were yelling at me with their tightness. Best of all, I got to the push-ups and burpees and my fingers were crying in agony because the texture of the weight room floor felt like I was pressing down on pins and needles.

I completed 3 sets and then did one more exercise and struggled. I texted my wife almost in tears because I felt defeated; yet at the same time victorious because I moved my body, I lifted some weight, and I ran and mile and a half. While my workout only last 35 minutes, it was not a defeat. It was glorious and most of all educational. It taught me the importance of daily movement. About persevering through the obstacle of “OUCH.” Now, we are not talking ouch as in a broken wrist ouch, but rather those ouches of aches and pains that are not going to cause us a major injury. The schooling I received was that the more I work—the more I condition my body and the response it is going to have those stimuli. I realized I had not been true to the importance of self-care and exercise, because honestly I have not been consistently working out in months.

That workout, which would be considered embarrassing to my fellow fitness brethren, was three days ago. What has happened since is more of an awakening. Arielle and I have joined a Crossfit near our house (Studio City Crossfit). It was nothing against Angeleno, which was a great experience, it was just not for us. Furthermore, I have committed to going 2 days a week, one cardio WOD and one Crossfit WOD. Wait, there is more.

This morning an amazing trainer at Equinox Palos Verdes, Rob Decker and I did a 45-minute out on the strength floor after I taught a cycling class. My hands and fingers wrestled to wrap completely around the barbell, my forearms were tight and other joints ached; but I did not let Scleroderma define what I would accomplish today. I decided what I was going to accomplish and I WON. No sad text message followed to my wife, instead an Instagram post, relishing in my daily championship.


So my friends, our struggle is real and no one should ever sugar coat what you feel and how you feel when it comes to your chronic illness, disease or whatever life may throw at you. However, our lives become richer when we are able to live each day to the fullest and possibly even feel better in our skin (both literally and figuratively), if we commit to movement. It may feel like a constant uphill battle, but if you push through the “ouch,” day-by-day, you will feel better and your body will thank you for it. The minute you decide to stay in bed or on the couch, that’s the moment you lose and I want you to always be win