When You Know Better, Do Better

Fitz Koehler, President, Fitzness International LLC

listen to apple podcastslisten to spotify podcastslisten on amazon podcastslisten on google podcastsWatch on YouTube

Fitz Koehler is a fitness innovator with a Master’s Degree in Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of Florida, who has been teaching fitness around the globe for decades.

She’s the president of Fitzness International LLC, a fitness company that specializes in fitness education via mass media, and fitness programming for children (Morning Mile). Along with teaching to millions in person via corporate speaking engagements and seminars in over a dozen countries…Fitz has promoted fitness through every avenue of mass media; books, television, films, radio, magazines, journals and online.

Fitz’s mission is to tack ten years on to everyone’s life she comes across. Fitzness is not only an aggressive force in the worldwide push to increase health; Fitz has created a brand. Fitzness is a gimmick free, innovative, concise, fun and attainable form of fitness

Fitz Koehler is a professional race announcer and a fitness expert. She shares her frustration with the fitness industry, and her passion to help people through the only thing that works; moving your body, watching what you put in your mouth, getting quality sleep, and removing the cranky people. 

Fitz survived a hard battle with cancer, and she explains how preparing her body before cancer helped her survive the difficult journey. Her positive energy and outlook on life will inspire you to live your best life. 

Talking Points:

{02:10} Biggest mistakes in the fitness industry today

{03:15} The four things we can control to become healthy.

{16:20} Motivating a crowd.

{21:00} Fitz’s cancer journey

{29:30} Cancer Free

{34:30} Advice for the next generation

Welcome to the Talent Empowerment Podcast, where we support business transformation and share the stories of great leaders of all backgrounds, so you can borrow their vision, their tools, and their tactics to lift up your organization, your teams, and of course, your community. 

I'm your host, Tom Finn, and on the show today we have Fitz Koehler, Fitz. Welcome to the show.

Well, Tom Finn, it's going to be a pleasure to look at your face with your very beautiful smile for the whole show. I'm very excited about it.

OK, so flattery will get you everywhere. And we are so excited to have you on the show and I can't wait to introduce you to Fitz if you have not had the opportunity to meet her. She is an exceptional human being. She's a little noisy, and a little bossy, but very compelling, and Fitz Koehler of fitzness.com is the author of multiple books. Including my noisy cancer comeback, your healthy cancer comeback, sick to Strong, and coming soon healthy cancer comeback journals.

She's also a Busy keynote speaker, we're going to talk a little bit about that. She's a professional race announcer and a fitness expert. She's the president of Fitness International LLC, a fitness company that specializes in fitness education through mass media. And does a ton of fitness programming for children in a program called Morning Mile, which is A school running program we're going to tap into that, don't you? Worry. 

And she does this in teaching to 1,000,000 via in-person, corporate speaking, and engagements and seminars in over a dozen countries. She is a proud Florida Gator winning the University of Florida's Outstanding Alumni Award, which is an incredible honor. Congratulations, which certainly leaves her beaming with Gator Pride. So, Fitz, I am just thrilled to have you on the Show I can't wait to get into it. 

I'm excited to talk to you, Tom fan. Thanks for having me on.

So, let's jump right in. In the fitness industry, you're an expert. You know this game, what are the biggest mistakes and mistakes that you see in the fitness industry today?

Well, gosh, what a great question because my industry is infested with scuzz balls, liars, and snake oil salesmen. And while there are some really good people in the industry, I think the bad folks are the loudest, and that's why it's a billion-dollar diet industry. 

You know, a diet is dumb supplements weight loss supplements are snake oil, the pills, the powders, all of it is garbage, and it sickens me to see really good people who all want is to be healthy and feel good in the skin that they're spending hard-earned money on garbage on lies because they think it's going to help them get to their point. When really the only thing that works is moving your body, watching what you put your mouth, getting quality sleep, and removing the cranky people. 

So yeah, there are a lot of things wrong with the fitness industry. There are definitely some things, right? But you know, I want people to go towards those right things and stay away from fraudulent products.

So, let's go back to those four things that we can control, and can you go through those four again and let's unpack this a little bit? What are the things that we can do for ourselves if we're thinking about a healthier version of ourselves?

So, once, we talked about watching what you put in your mouth. So, there are foods that help and foods that hurt. And I really don't even want to be dismissive to your audience, to tell them which are the differences. They know that it's fruits and veggies and lean proteins and whole grains that are good for you, and then the fried processed high sugar, high caloric stuff… not so good for you. So, here’s the good stuff, the bad stuff. Obviously, you should be having more of the good stand-off, and less of the bad stuff. You never have to be perfect. Perfect is boring. But you should be better than bad when it comes to the food you're putting into your number one. Property, right, we only put gasoline in our car. We don't put ketchup in there. So, we definitely don't want to put nasty things inside our bodies that would do harm. 

The other thing is learning how to eat the right amount of the right foods for the size you want to be. That is the exact formula for weight loss. It's the simplest stupid formula on Earth. If you go to the cover of fitness.com. That's fitzness.com. There's a block. It says the exact formula weight for weight loss. You can find out exactly how many calories your body would require for your goal weight, and then you can set off on your merry way to achieving that. As far as moving your body. Fitness matters not only for the way you move but the way you feel, the way your body performs your balance or lack thereof. 

And so that's strength, cardio, flexibility, balance. Those are the four pillars of fitness. Again, really simple stuff, but you got to have someone explain the truth to you. And again, I do that on fitzness.com quality rest. You know, tired people don't make good choices in the kitchen or at a restaurant. They definitely skip workouts more often than not, and they're more likely to indulge in substance abuse. So quality rests, a good night's sleep, and naps are great ideas. 

And then last but not least, remove those cranky people if you have somebody that's adding nothing but toxicity to your life, even if there is a blood relative who kicks them to the curb. Say I wish you well. Hit block on your phone so they can't make your life miserable. And then of course, don't be a miserable person. Don't be a cranky person.

Yeah, you nailed it. I think all of us as adults tend to think of these things, and I imagine people are driving in their car right now, Fitz and they're and they're saying, of course, I know this right.

The last one I think is so critically important and we're going to touch on a few of these are the last ones. Getting sort of those toxic people out of your life, those that don't lift you up, those that don't empower you, those that don't feel like they're on the same wavelength? How do you actually do that? Let's say you've got a friend for 20 years who just pulls you back down and doesn't lift you up. How do you get out of that relationship?

So, it's interesting to me that if we saw our children, for example, taking abuse from one of their peers or their teachers or neighbor or anybody, we would sit down with our kids and say, don't you ever let anyone treat you like that? That is completely unacceptable. 

I have a sister who's a very mean, bullying sister. She spent her whole life - She's older than me - bullying me, and it was finally when I was about 30 and I looked at my kids and I said Nope, I am not going to role model this acceptance of abuse. 

And so, I wish my sister well. She can have a great life of her own. I don't wish her harm, but I do not call her. I do not accept phone calls from her when we're at our mom's house. I am cordial, but I don't welcome a person into my life who's going to do nothing but abuse me. And so, whether it's a best friend or a neighbor or a spouse of somebody. Doing harm to you, you have to remove them. You have to stand up for yourself, and if not, you're showing the little people or anyone else who admires you that it's OK and it's not.

Yeah, well said. I Love the idea of standing up for ourselves and putting up boundaries for those that don't empower us or certainly just in a simple way. Those that don't help the best version of ourselves, right? And isn’t what we're all looking for to be the best version of ourselves at some point?

I hope so, and it's not so hard to be kind and it's not such a big deal to ask for minimal respect and courtesy. You know, you don't have to like me. You don't have to agree with me, but you can be kind. And if you're constantly making my life miserable… it's funny… a lot of people, they, they stress, eat right, they stress eat. That becomes a problem for me. When I experience stress or grief, I don't eat, you know, the last thing I want to be is 105 pounds because somebody is, you know, being nasty. 

So, we have to protect ourselves. And yeah, I mean if we don't do it, nobody else is going to do it. So, remove those cranky people, and then don't be the cranky person because your misery spreads that nastiness to everybody else.

Yeah, that's an interesting segue into don’t be the cranky person. So, are there some rhythms or rules that you live by to protect your sleep, to protect the fact that you're not tired and being cranky with people, how do you manage that as an expert in this space?

Well, when it comes to my fitness habits, those are the nuts and bolts of eating and exercising and sleeping. It's discipline, it's habitual and I used to be an overweight teenager. I was a sporty girl, but I didn't know how to eat wisely or healthily, and I was a little overweight and I had an eating disorder. And so, you know, when I started… when I went to grad school. And exercising in Sports Sciences, I started reading journals and science. I started absorbing this, absorbing science, saying oh, can't be that easy, right? That's the exact formula for weight loss. 

So, I just started taking evidence-based classes. The least behaviors led to certain results that I desired, and I just started working . It wasn't easy, but with consistency and discipline, all of a sudden, those good habits became who I am and they became who I am. 

So, you have to be willing to learn. You know, my thought process is, if you know better, you should do better, and so it's about having the knowledge in it. You know, when the diet sales guy is constantly barking down your throat saying, you know, give me 50 bucks a month for these powders and these shakes and you're going to lose weight. Well, those are lies and you are probably actually, been spending money on those making that your habit. 

OK, well, now we're going to make your Habit of going for a walk or a swim or dancing and doing a little string training and doing a little stretching until it's more and more and more. So just like any good behavior, practice makes it close to perfect. I don't believe in perfection, but we just have to keep moving in the right direction, and discipline, discipline, lack of excuses, and excuses will get you nowhere. No, we're good, at least.

So, I'm on my own personal health journey. So, this is part of the show where Tom shares. I'm on my own personal health journey, so I have been in that overworked executive persona for a long time. And I always looked at it as if I need to work. You know, my wife and I are about to have our 4th. So, we have a big healthy buzzing family. 

And so, I always felt this like the weight on my shoulders to perform, to get to work early to start my day at 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning, and to keep going until 6:00 or 6:30 at night because 12 hours is where the magic happens... Fitz. And what I learned. If you burn yourself out, you become tired.

And then you, I'm a stress eater. So, opposite to you where you sort of don't eat when you feel stressed. I eat when I feel stressed. And then when I'm tired, of course, you can expect that I will eat more. And so, I found myself on this, like, weight gain journey. While I'm not spending time with my family and I'm overdoing it in all parts, right? And you used a word that I love, which is discipline. 

So, I finally brought it back to the new version of Tom being disciplined at every stop. So, my morning routine is to get up and go to the gym. We have a gym in the garage. I exercised for 45 minutes. I never do more, and I never do. And now I'm eating better. I then stop and go to help my kids get ready for school. And then I go back to work, and I don't work. After 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, because now I have kids after school activities that I spend time with them. So, it can be done right.

Heck yeah, it can be done, and you know, it's interesting that so many people use their career and their kids as an excuse. Well, I can't exercise. I have kids. I can't eat healthily. I'm a busy professional. OK, well, those things to me are incentives, not excuses. Because number one, you brought children into this world. It is your obligation, your responsibility to take care of their parents, for crying out loud. You want to be with them not only because you want to enjoy their future and all the magical moments they'll have, but it's your responsibility to nurture them and care for them. And even as they age, they're still going to need their mom or dad to lean on and go to for advice. 

So, they need you around. So, the fact that you have little kids is an excuse not to exercise. I didn’t buy it. In fact, I think you are obligated to your health exponentially once you bring humans or a relationship into this world. 

And then of course, on the professional side, you know it's funny with my Keynotes companies like Disney Oakley, Tropicana, and Office Depot, they bring me in because they want their workforce to be fit. They know that a healthy workforce is going to be so much more productive. They are going to get an infinite amount done in that short window of time versus. The guy who doesn't eat, ride, and doesn't sleep well, and doesn't exercise. He shows up and he's kind of slovenly and he's lazy and he just doesn't produce.

And so, they spend a good amount of money on me because they know if I come in, I can give their employees or associates the information they need to know, and that kicks in the can, right? We talked about being bossy and compelling at the start. This is what I do. I get people and I give them the information and shake them and speak. Got to do it. And get them motivated and uh yeah, they turn it around. 

So, if you're a career-oriented person yet you're not taking care of your health because your career is so important, well, forget it. You're going to fall flat because if you're an entrepreneur, you know you need to be firing on all cylinders to make the magic happen, and if you're looking for a job, you're going to pass you right over unless you look like a dynamic go-getter. And that happens the second you walk into the room. First impressions are garnered in seven seconds, so you walk in. Do you have great posture because you do strength training and she stands up tall? She looks confident. Want her on my sales team, or are you slung, slumpy, being kind, fatigued, and unconfident, these are not qualities people look for in an employee, and it's definitely not qualities they look for in a manager or an executive. And so, this exercise is sleeping, this nutrition and it matters to your health, to your relationships, and your career.

Yeah, you couldn't have said that any better. I mean, you just hit the nail on the head. I feel like we tend to forget this. We tend to forget that our physical body and our physical being is connected to our heart and our mind. And if we're slow and we're unhappy in our physical body, that resonates with everybody, like you said, even with the basics like posture fits.

Yeah. And I mean we're grown-ups, right? I don't know any of our peers that are out there looking to be hot in a thong on Miami Beach. That's not on our agenda anymore. I mean, sure, it's nice to look good and feel good, but really, we have many more kinds of practical intentions or expectations. And you can't let those things go. I mean, I always talk about the big picture with people, career, health, longevity, quality of life, relationships, it all matters.

Yeah. Look, I'm Pretty sure I would look great in a thong on Miami Beach, but you know me aside, I get it that most of the listeners are not looking for that. They're looking for a core level of health and Wellness and overall mental well-being that's stable where they can be successful and can live the life that they want to live and live out those dreams. You know that hopefully, they're making for themselves and their family. 


So, tell me a little bit more about what you do in terms of your speaking engagements because you did, you did just touch on it, but help us understand what you do and sort of the tactics that you bring to the stage when you're speaking to an audience.

So, tactics-wise, I always come in with a lot of energy because that's who I am, and I am obsessed with live audience work. I always have been and so I adore working on television. There's this great gift for you. Wake up and you're on National Morning News and all of a sudden, you've taught 3 million people before 8:00 AM, so that really feels of great value to me. That makes me very satisfied because the mass impact is my mission, but that live audience where you can get on a stage, and you get warm smiles and then you start getting the head nod. 

So, I always need to get by the front. So, before I talk about how I always talk about the “why” you know, and I let them help me. I'm someone I never talk to people, I bring them in on the conversation. Whether there are 100 or 1000, it feels like we're sitting around at the kitchen table having a conversation. 

And so, they start, you know, contributing their ideas on why health and fitness are important, and now the heads are going and they're like, yeah. And then always, there's a lot of laughter. And what I find.  I like to keep things fun and light because I like to keep things fun and light. And I think you're probably a better speaker when you're doing whatever is natural to you, but I find when my audience is looking for the next laugh, they hang on to every single word. There's nobody looking at their phone. Once we start laughing, you know, once everyone starts laughing. The phones are down and they're like, oh, she's funny. And we're funny. We're all having a fun time. So, I want to know more. 

And because they're so engaged with the laughter and their role of talking. Then they're absorbing the information. Now all of a sudden, they're gathering this science and it means something to them. So yeah, I just really love the opportunity to connect with people and make things make sense, get their buy-in and then send them on their way with a mission that we can follow up on.

So many of my presentations. You know whether again it's 1000 or 100, those people connect with me. I get all these emails galore saying I heard what you said, and These are my top three lists of things I want to accomplish. And can I reach back out to you in a month and let you know how I'm doing? And the answer is a hell yes. I want that.

Because you know, I have some awards that are stuffed in a drawer. But really, my awards in life are people who you know no longer have back pain or they feel good in their genes or, you know, they stand up straight. Those I I'm just. It's such a thrill. So, I do all sorts of keynotes for all sorts of organizations, and I do some breakout sessions sometimes too, and it's just a blessing. It's a blessing. A total privilege to do what I do.

Well, I love hearing you talk about this because the energy that you bring to the podcast, I imagine is just a percentage of the energy that you bring to the stage. So, I would love to see you speak at some point. I'm sure our paths will cross where I get to be in. The audience hears you from the front of the room. 

But in the meantime. If you're not watching on YouTube and you are listening as you drive along or go for your morning exercise, Fitz and I have something in common. We're both into neon signs, so. fitzness.com is right behind her smiling face in a beautiful neon sign and my talent empowerment sign is in pink neon to represent the Brownell.

So, we got that in common, and we got that moving along, which I love. Also, I want to know. Some of the other choices that make you who you are. Because of this journey, you didn't just jump up on stage and become. The fitness. You went through some things. You made some choices. How did we get here?

Well, I've been going through this fitness thing since I was 14. That's when I started teaching fitness and I fell in love pretty quickly. It was the thing I was good at. The thing I enjoyed. My siblings were elite athletes. They were really great competitors in soccer and football and they were so fantastic in those sports. I was mediocre in sports, but when it came to. I excelled and the thing that I really. Enjoyed those connections with the people in the class, right? I loved I. I live off on it. I believe in it. 

And so, it's been a long, winding road that is constantly gone. Up, up, up, up! And I have been able to teach fitness all over the world and via every avenue of mass media and there have been incredible lessons learned thanked goodness I learned those lessons because in 2019, seven weeks after cleaning a mammogram, I was at a race weekend announcing her or I was running a race that weekend and I got out of the shower and rubbed my under the lower breast and I found a lump. And seven weeks after that clean mammogram, I had a size tumor and the cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes. 

So, I had cancer running through me like wildfire, which was terrifying and stressful and, yeah, terrifying. Once again it was. It was a very scary experience, especially at the rapid pace it was growing. I just. I mean I'm a goner. I am such a goner, and I am the ultimate optimist. I was blessed to be born a Tigger, you know, so everything to me is fun and happy. And I can do type experience. I'm a joy addict, so I chose joy, but I really thought, holy smokes, this is it. And I was less. I'm scared about losing my own life, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that. But the real thing that got me was missing out on Ginger and Parker's lives. My daughter was 15, my son was 13, and that fear of loss was unbearable. 

So, had to cope with that fear and figure out what was going to happen, probably in a very short time, but within about a week or so, I connected with my oncologist, whom I chose a brilliant man, and he convinced me that he was going to cure me, he said, Fitz, you are curable. In fact, 94% of all breast cancer cases are curable. You're just going to have to endure. 

And so, my cure was highly effective, yet really brutal. So, I had 15 months of chemo, 33 rounds of radiation, and some surgeries. I call it the treatment triathlon, and it's not a good time, but I made some great decisions that allowed me to thrive while trying to survive and I say that... Alongside the fact that I Was violently ill. 

Imagine having violent stomach bugs every single day for six months. Just living in that state of food poisoning or whatever every day, and then the ten months after that on different chemo, I was still sick. And that's when I really lost a lot of weight. It was rough, but I made some great decisions upfront because I believe in control. I believe in controlling what you can, no matter what stage of life you're in, and no matter what's going on with your health or your career, or your family, you're entitled to control what you can or are obligated to. 

And so, I made a few decisions. Number one, I chose. So, before cancer, I used to say when things would go awry, I'd always say it's not cancer. If I was in a traffic jam. I would always say well... It's my cancer and how lucky AM I? I want to be. Waiting in the traffic jam rather than being the car up front that was in the accident that caused the traffic jam, right? So, perspective has always ruled my life. 

So, I would say it's not cancer, it's not cancer. And then all of a sudden it was Cancer was a little bit of a rude moment. But then I thought, OK, well, I'm not a kid with cancer and it's not my kid with cancer. And short of those two things. I'm an adult. I'm going to put on my big girl panties and I'm going to get through this. I'm going to soldier on. I'm going to do what it takes to get through it and survive. And I did so perspective number one in perspective is something everybody can use every single day. When the good times are there, it's good to look around, smell it, taste it, and enjoy the good times when things go wrong, you spill red wine on your white couch. OK. Well, it's wine on your couch. Get a grip. Not such a big deal. It's not cancer. Right. So perspective was very important.

 #2. I chose to pursue my passions now. And I chose it during my cancer. You should choose your passions every day, no matter what. So, for me, my passions were my career and my kids. And before I even they put one drop of chemo in me. What I decided came from hell or high water. If my kids have a show, a ceremony, or a sporting event, I'm going to be there. I am not letting this son... Of you know what… Take that special time from me and my kids.

And then I also decided I wasn't going to let it take my career. Now my career requires me to get on airplanes. Almost, I would say 30 something weekends of the year. I travel all around the country announcing these massive iconic running events. Los Angeles Marathon, Buffalo, Marathon, Fargo, Marathon, route 66, you name it. And I probably serve about a million people every year.

And two things I decided I needed were my income and then … I loved my work, and I earned my rightful spot on those stages. That were another thing I was not going to let cancer steal the career of my dreams from me, and I knew if I had stayed home. I would have cried the whole weekend, missing out on the Big Sur marathon and all those wonderful people. I also would have been sick. Like, if I didn't go out and do the things that I'm passionate about and I just stayed home and isolated like many people encourage I would have been sick and that would have probably been the most depressing experience possible. 

I probably would have died. I just don't even believe there would have been survival, had I not pursued life, so yeah, I chose perspective. I chose passions and the great gift of those passions is no matter how bad things got for me. And you know, there was it was a real rough patch, a good six months were bald. My fingernails had been ripped off; my eyelashes were gone. I had ogre bumps all over my head. It Looked like Shrek and I was exploding again all the time. I was so sick, but I would go down those planes and I would get to point B and I'll use OC MARATHON for example in California in May, I was three months into chemo and so… get out there. The race director helped me get IV fluids while I was in town. That was one of the requirements I had to do IV Fluids 5 days a week to keep me upright and sleep on the hotel bathroom floor. Sick as a dog and you know what that's like when you get sick, and you sleep in the bathroom. I don't know why we do that, but that's where I needed to be, you know? And then at 4:30, my alarm went off and I dragged my lifeless body off the ground. I got dressed and I headed over to the store. That line and everything's wrong there literally wasn't an ounce of my body that wasn't obliterated in some regard.

And I would step onto those stages. And the second I did, surrounded by 10s of thousands of incredible people, every single thing that was wrong with me, Tom Finn, every last one of those things disappeared. I wasn't sick. I wasn't tired. It wasn't suffering because I was doing the thing that I love with the people that I love everything that was wrong with me, faded away for as long as I had an athlete out on that course and a great blessing is a marathon starts at, you know, depending on the race, might start at six, might not end till 3. 

So that would give me this nine-hour window of being full force, Fitz Koehler, and highly engaged, focus on them. Feeling great. Before I started feeling sick again and again, you don't have to have cancer to pursue your passions to a degree that they make everything in your life. Feel much richer and happier and more rewarding. And so, for me, it was cancer. 

If I had taken a year and a half off of work, nobody would have blamed me. They would have said, oh, poor girl. Bless her heart. She's sick. I would have blamed myself and my company. My company would have been decimated; fitzness. com would not be standing today. Had I taken that big break but instead? We soldiered on. 

I traveled the country, and I tripled my business in that 15-month segment. I tripled my business, while sicker than anyone's ever been. So that was at prospective passions. 

And then I chose to stay positive because you know what, you get no extra points for being the most pitiful, pathetic person in the room…  A sprained ankle or you need hip surgery or got some cancer. You know, the woe-is-me attitude. It's just not going to. Get you anywhere good? So, choose a smile, choose to be the victor instead of the victim, and everything just kind of moves in your direction when you do those things.

It's what a what, an incredible journey that you are on. Tell me about the day when you were told that you were cancer free.

So, remission happened after surgery, so that was about halfway through my treatment. It was interesting because I asked my radiation oncologist. So what am I in remission? She said, Ah, when they did the surgery. So that was about six months into my treatment. But the day that really was so powerful was my final day of chemo. 

So, Chemo was the thing that was the worst experience for me, and it lasted the longest. It was every three weeks for 21 rounds. It was 15 solid months of being poisoned, and while I was very grateful for those drugs. They really were difficult, and the process was difficult, and the process was scary. You know, I'm a needle phobia and every few weeks to go in and you know it's chemo #1. It's scary because you don't know what's going to happen. But Kimmel #6, I assure you, is far scarier than #1 because you know exactly what's going to happen, you know. And for me, those consequences were pretty devastating. 

And so, on my 21st chemo, which was less than the first six, the first six we called the mean chemo, and the last 10 we nicknamed Godzilla, but I finally got my final round of Godzilla. We are having a little disco party. It's during COVID, so it's pretty lame and people learn masks, not me. I'm like **** eating grin dancing way to the little disco ball in the middle of the chemo room because I am now done. 

And I go out into the lobby, my children and my husband are waiting for me, and I have a little sign. We do a little TikTok dance, so if anyone wants to go searching for it, it's on fitzness.com. It's really cute. And then I asked my husband. I said I would like to go to this restaurant for lunch after chemo. And I said OK, so we got in the car. And instead of turning left to go to lunch, he turns right to go towards our house. I said what? What are? Why are you playing? I don't want to go to that restaurant, he said. Oh, Parker's tummy isn't feeling good. My son and I thought. Are you kidding me? And of course, as a mom you have to do whatever's best for your kid. But I was thinking, jeez, little Wee 15 months of torture and I can't even get one. I'm just like a total mom Moment, you know? So, I said, OK, well, if Tommy's not feeling good, we got to go. 

And so, we took the 8-minute drive to my neighborhood and as soon as we pulled in, I figured it out. My whole entire neighborhood came out and there's this really big, long street I live on and every last one of them was outside on the street with signs and pinwheels and balloons, and they were cheering. And it was. It was so meaningful. It was just so meaningful. And I felt so, you know, grateful. So grateful to be done. And their love was so, so loud. 

And then we went up the road and there were more people on the side of the road on my street and pinwheels. My whole yard was decorated. And then I got out of the car. And I live on this really steep hill and that's when it hits me. All my neighbors were walking up my hill with their signs and their balloons and their cheers, and that was… That was the moment I knew I was done. You know, that was I. I fell apart a little bit, but they were happy tears. I've never been so relieved in my life. It's just... Epic, epic Joy, epic relief. It's hard to believe you're finally done when you've gone through something like that, but I was and I am. I'm never going back, no more cancer for me.

Well, that is an absolutely amazing story. And what a great tribute to you and the work that you did and the sacrifices you made along a very long and painful journey to have your community step up, support you, and be there for you when you needed it most, and for those of you that have watery eyes at this point. 

So do I. So, I get it. I'm listening to the story just like you are. And feeling just a little emotional as well because, when we hear these stories, we put ourselves in our place, Fitz. We think about how we would react. 

Are we strong enough to go through what you went through, right? We all do this. And then we have this joyous moment to hear that there were pinwheels and signs and neighbors, and everybody probably yelling. We love you, Fitz. We love you. Right? And those moments we put ourselves in. 

And that's why we get emotional as humans because we feel things and it's so important that you share this story because there are so many others dealing with their things. It might not be cancer today. It might be something else. It might be laid off, it might be divorce, it might be abuse, it might be a sick child. As you mentioned, right or family member. Or a loss. Or something as simple as red wine on the couch. We hope it doesn't get us too emotional as we learn these through. 

So, when you look at this story you think about yourself and kind of where you are today. What would you tell a young person that's about to go through life because you've lived life?

So, I do, you know, we all have. And here's the thing. Nobody gets out unscathed. Right? Mine was cancer. For some people, it's the loss of a child, like what could be worse than that, you know? Or a million other things. Their house burned down. Nobody gets out unscathed. It's how we respond, right? It's how we prepare. And how we respond. 

And so, the things that I focus on with people is, preparing your body to do battle today because you never know when illness or injury will strike, and going into any sort of physical crisis, healthy fit, and strength will make that rebound recovery period so much easy. Fear, right? The same thing to your mental fortitude. The decisions I make, the good ones now backtracking. I cried probably every single day. I was not inhuman. I was not. You know, there's no marvel in me, right? I'm very human. I still cried and so forth, but I would. I would cry alone in my bathroom or alone in my car. I would get it out and then I would get on with it. Like, OK, get it outfits. Color and then go do your thing and I would so it wasn't inhuman. 

These habits have led me to some pretty awesome success, they're habits, you know, I've chosen not to be a brat while waiting in line at the grocery store. It's just a line, you know? And if I can keep my spirits high. That goes a long way for my day. I also have the ability to coach myself. 

I don't have a coach. I don't have a psychiatrist. I don't have a counselor. Maybe I need one, but I've got this chick in my head and she's a really powerful force. She's, in fact, the wicked girl on my shoulder… I don't. The girl in the mirror. She's the meanest one, So I know that I have to live up to her expectations. But you know when things really hit the fan? Before treatment, I had to go for an MRI. I'm claustrophobic, and if you've ever had an MRI, people know they put you in a little tube and they lie you on your back and they slide you in and then the doors his hammer on the side of that.

That's right. And it is loud.

It's so loud, and if you're claustrophobic, it's a bad time. Well, for me, I went in and I had had. MRIs before which I did not enjoy, but. I walk into my MRI pre-chemo and the lady says OK, get down on your face, lie down on your face like Superman. Your arms up. And I said what she lied down and I was like, no, no, I'm supposed to be on my back. She said no, get down on your chest. 

So, I do. And a little… It's like a massage table face cradle. But a dollar store version. Like a really crappy face. Middle so I just without cracking my back or putting my hair up, I just lie there like Superman, and she takes these plates, and she pins me down by each breast. So now I'm just literally pinned to the table by my boobs. And I'm thinking, oh, this is not good. This feels weird. This is uncomfortable, blah, blah, blah. And she's like, OK, don't move, or it'll all be ruined. And then she shoves me into the tube, and I freak out. They are full-blown, you know, nine-alarm freaks out kicking and screaming … let me out and so. The lady who was nice before. 

Now she's like you need to get back in there and I stayed late for you. If you don't get this done, they won't start chemo, and she's yelling at me and I just said, please, please just let me try it again. I just need to crack my back and put my hair in a bun because I used to have long hair. And so anyway, as I get down back in that crappy position and she shoves me back in the machine. And yes, that psychosis my panic attack was still happening, but I had to control myself because I wanted to get the cancer-killing show on the road and without the MRI, they weren't going to start chemo. 

And so, in my head like I was saying. Fitz, you have done lots of hard things in your life. You have raised 2 great kids. You have built an international business. You used to be a competitive kickboxer. That's true. And you can do hard things and I just kept for 45 minutes listing over and over every hard freaking thing I've done in my life. And like a crazy person. But I said it enough. 

She pulled me out of the tube and that was the moment when I realized that if I wanted to survive. I was going to continuously have to do things that scare me? And so why wait for cancer or paralysis or whatever to figure that out? I would tell this young Fitz Koehler and every other young person in the world that you have so much control over yourself. You have to control the dialogue in your head instead of tearing yourself down. Instead of picking on your thighs or your buck teeth or your weird hair, or your lack of, you know, good fortune where your family wasn't rich. To heck with all that. 

What you have to do is look at yourself in the mirror or in your head. And say you can do this. I know you're smart. I know you're capable. I know you're a workhorse. I know you're willing to get up early. Stay late, be the politest person on the block and you are not a victim. You have the power to make stuff happen, so get up and make it happen.

Well, there's nothing really, I can say at this point. 

You have absolutely hit the nail on the head, and I love your energy. I love your spirit. I love the way you approach life. You have taken your soul and pulled it out for all of us to see and shared it with us today in a way that I think is so unique. 

Sharing this vulnerable path that you've been on, but also there are no excuses. Just get out there and get it done and take good care of yourself and take good care of other people and be kind along the way no matter what is happening in your personal journey, so that you can help others. I absolutely love the way that you do this and the style in which you approach it.

So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. For the way. You do this. So, my friends, you're going to want more of Fitz Koehler. I know you are. You're going to need to go to fitzness.com. We will put it. In the show notes for you. If you are challenged or struggling with something in your life, a couple of great books, OK? My noisy cancer Come back pick. Up your healthy cancer. Come back sick to strong. OK. We talked about it a little bit today. Check that out. And then of course, be on the lookout for healthy cancer Come back journal which will help you as well. 

So, I think a couple of those things. If you're dealing with pain and stress. Anxiety in your life here's what I would tell you. About people that have gone through cancer, you don't have to go through cancer to learn their lessons. And these books are going to help you no matter what you're struggling with, because you're going to see a different perspective, right? And I think that's what is really important, that we all look at these different perspectives and try to become a little more educated along our own journey. What was I miss Fitz?

I think you got it all, Tom Finn. The only other thing I'd love to do, I'd love to connect with people. Obviously, I like people, right? So, at fitness.com. But I'm also interested in fitness on all social channels. And if you follow, I promise, quality content in return, but I would much rather you say hello, I heard you on Tom Finn's podcast because I would much rather have friends than followers. So, let's connect.

Yeah, I love that; friends not followers.  And let's keep empowering each other. Let's keep pushing each other to be the best versions of ourselves fits a very healthy thank you from all of us at the show we loved having. You on today.

Love you all.

All right. If you didn't hear the kiss, it was a kiss and a wave. And thank you for joining the Talent Empowerment podcast. I hope you transform your own lives, support each other and find innovation so that you can be healthier and happier along your own journey. My friends, let's get back to people and culture together. We'll see you in the next episode.

Featured Episodes


How to be a "Great Place To Work"

Michael Bush, CEO, Great Place To Work

Listen Now
Talent Development and HR

Using Mission, Vision & Values for Everything

with Bamboo's Director of HR, Cassie Whitlock

Listen Now