Every person’s life story contains pivotal moments and events when the seeds are planted for character traits such as independence, confidence, integrity, discipline, empathy, honesty, the value of hard work and perseverance.
A defining moment for a very young Roger Goertz was the death of his father. Roger’s grandfather stepped in and took Roger to his farm every summer from the tender age of nine until 18. All the character traits mentioned (and undoubtedly more) were planted, watered, fertilized and cultivated as he worked alongside his grandfather.
Roger went to college with plans to play football, but soon decided he wasn’t big enough to play college ball, so he got an evening job at the Cessna Aircraft Company.
That first summer following his freshman year in college, he met Joe Spillman, (then) president of Pizza Inn. The course of Roger’s life changed and for 24 years, Roger used his operations and marketing expertise to expand Pizza Inn. Following a public offering, he joined Papa Aldo’s Take and Bake Pizza. Over the next few years, he helped double the number of stores while breaking ground on stores in Canada and Japan.
Busy with his career and focused on supporting his family, Roger spent little time taking care of Roger. In his late 30s and throughout this 40s, he spent his life behind a desk. He was a social smoker. He battled what he thought were routine illnesses – colds, sinus issues, allergies. He had little energy and thought 8 to ten cups of coffee a day was his panacea. He didn’t eat during the day. Coffee kept the hunger pains away, but at night, he would eat (not-so-healthy-foods) on auto-pilot.
Roger’s vital stats at this point:
- Weight: 254 lbs.
- Waist: 42 inches
- Jacket: Size 48
He remembers trying to dress to cover his weight. He was unable to play a full round of golf. And he had his first back surgery.
Baby Cassidy and the Ah-ha Moment
In 1993, Roger had his first “Ah-ha” moment when his granddaughter Cassidy arrived on the scene. He flew to from Tampa to Portland, Ore., and as he held her, he looked into her eyes and made a silent promise to her: “I am going to do whatever I have do so I can know you and you can know me when you are my age.”
He stopped smoking cold turkey, but in turn, gained more weight. He wasn’t making much headway on getting control of his excessive work hours or improving his diet. At the time, he was the president of three corporations and working long and irregular hours. Still determined to make a change, he chuckles, “I bought a bike because jogging seemed too hard.”
He dropped some weight but didn’t address his overall health.
And then the opportunity to purchase his own business presented itself. Roger contemplated the challenge. Essentially, he’d spent his career coaching other franchise business owners. In that capacity, he knew he brought out the best in people. He compared the shift from business management to business ownership as transitioning from the coach to an athlete. Could he do it?
I think you probably know the answer.
New Venture – Daunting Challenge
In 2003, Roger opened his Mr. Rooter franchise in Houston. He transferred the knowledge he’d learned in the corporate world and applied it to creating a company culture based on small town family values. He immersed himself in building the business.
In 2007, Roger’s wife Stacey was diagnosed with cancer. In 2008, Roger turned 60 and he realized the years had gone by much too quickly.
More grandchildren had joined the family but his workaholic behavior hadn’t changed; he was still chugging java and often staying up working until the wee hours of the morning. He had the best intentions but hadn’t embraced any meaningful changes.
And then in 2012, Stacey’s bright spirit transitioned to heaven.
Following Stacey’s death, Roger says he didn’t get stuck in depression, because while Stacey was fighting cancer, he witnessed her strength, and the joy with which she approached life. Even while waging a valiant battle against cancer, she was appointed to the local Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and selected as one of three Co-Chairwomen for “In the Pink” Foundation 2011-12.
But predictably, after her death, Roger immersed himself in his work and looking after his employees. Again, he was giving special care to everyone … except himself.
After a period of isolating himself, he knew it was time to reengage in the community. Roger recalls, “It was very awkward at first,” he says.
New Chapter – Renewed Motivation
There were many good things yet to come. What started out as a business friendship with the vivacious Natalie Saikowski grew into something more. They fell in love. Roger asked Natalie to marry him.
An accomplished marathon runner, Roger felt all he could do to support Natalie was sit on the sidelines and cheer her on, but inwardly he wanted more.
At first he tagged along with Natalie to PLUS FORTY FITNESS, to “check it out.” He’d never entertained the idea of working (or even needing) a personal trainer.
After watching Natalie go through a few sessions, he decided working with a trainer might be a good jump start. He started training with Ric Simmons, the proprietor of PLUS FORTY FITNESS. Ric started him off with 30-minute sessions a couple of times a week. In the beginning, Roger says, 30-minutes felt like three hours. “It felt bad,” Roger recalls. “But in a good way.”
And Ric trains more than just the body, Roger discovered. From Ric, Roger started learning about the value of water consumption, tips on proper nutrition, and how supplements work to enhance one’s overall health. In reality, he says, he found it all very helpful. Ric engages the body and the mind. Roger had to admit … there might be something to this “trainer thing” after all!
(Way to go, Natalie!)
Whatever I achieve today, I will exceed tomorrow
It wasn’t long until Roger truly felt a real sense of accomplishment.
“Ric focuses on the positive things I am doing.” He builds on my strengths and always offers encouragement. When things seem daunting, he assures me it’s going to get better. He was sensitive to my achy knees, but I always felt better after my workout.”
Once Roger started feeling stronger, his old competitive, athletic spirit started to reemerge. But now, he doesn’t compete with anyone except himself.
His mantra? “Whatever I achieve today, I will exceed tomorrow.”
After just eight weeks of working out at PLUS FORTY FITNESS, Roger says there was a noticeable change in his upper body and core strength. “Now, when I can’t make a session, I miss it!”
He continues, “I finally understand the value of consistent, directed exercise. I have no aches and my endurance level has increased. I look and feel healthier.”
I want my grandchildren to know me longer as well as live my “new life” longer with Natalie. If I don’t take care of myself, I am not only letting myself down, I am letting them down as well.”
Secret Training: Jiggs and Roger
In September of 2014, Roger and Natalie were married. And still, he watched her run marathons instead of participating. “I have never been a sideline person. While watching my wife run marathons, I challenged myself to start running as well,” says Roger. With the help of their rescue dog, Jiggs, during their long walks, Roger started to run. Jiggs made sure Roger stayed with it.
Soon, Roger participated in his first 5K.
Once he was able to run a 5K, he asked Natalie to sign him up for a 10K. Natalie pointed out he’d never run a 10K, but Roger believed he could push himself to complete it. His goal was to run the first five kilometers and then “Galloway” the second half, which is a combination of walking and running popularized by runner Jeff Galloway.
For this 10K run, Roger challenged himself to achieve it in two hours and 15 minutes – all the while telling his friends 2:30 or 2:40 would be a good goal. Roger finished his first 10K in two hours and 14 minutes – exceeding his personal goal.
For people who may feel self-conscious about scheduling time with a trainer, what does Roger advise?
“Trust the trainer,” says Roger. “What makes Ric’s approach unique is it’s a specific 30 minute circuit that maximizes the impact on targeted muscle groups.”
I’ll Do Whatever I Can So I Can Know You
And in 2015, his granddaughter Cassidy – the sweet baby he’d made the silent promise to so many years ago – gave birth to a daughter.
And then Roger knew why he’d finally started creating a healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition and exercise. At 67, he has many reasons to want to continue his new-found healthy lifestyle.
And he can hold one of the most precious reasons in his arms: his great-granddaughter Austyn Marie.