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Fitness starts inside out: Mackie Shilstone’s Optimum Performance

Stanford offensive lineman Andrus Peat poses for photos with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New Orleans Saints as the 13th pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) (Charles Rex Arbogast, The Associated Press)

Whether you’re a high-level professional athlete or a 9-to-5 working individual, “fitness” will find its path into your life at some point. defines fitness as follows: The condition of being physically fit and healthy; or, the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task; and, an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.

A perfect example of the second part of the fitness definition would be the hope that each of the Saints’ 2015 draftees will possess the necessary fitness qualities suitable to fulfill the role that he was selected to accomplish.

As to the fitness of an organism, you could say that after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29th 2005, the city of New Orleans survived (with some outside help), and its citizens have reproduced a much stronger, more vibrant city in the process.

Story by

Mackie Shilstone,

Contributing writer

So that leaves me with the first part of the fitness definition related to physical fitness and health. As to the health aspect, each year in April I have my annual medical physical with my physician, Leonard Kancher, an internist, who is the medical director of the Center for Longevity and Wellness in Metairie.

Kancher says, “The value of the annual exam lies in the complete review of how someone is doing, both objectively (the physical and laboratory parts) and subjectively (how the patient answers specific health-related questions). It can, and should, be a learning experience for both the physician and the patient.”

Last Monday I had my third preventive colonoscopy (at ages 50, 57, and now at 64).

My procedure, which was handled by Sean Mayfield, a colon and rectal surgeon in private practice in New Orleans, was performed under light anesthesia on an outpatient basis at East Jefferson General Hospital. It lasted about fifteen minutes.

Mayfield said that, “Patients with average risk of colon cancer are recommended for screening colonoscopy beginning at age 50 then every 10 years thereafter.

Patients with a first degree relative with colon cancer should begin screening at age 40 or 10 years prior to the age of their family member at time of diagnosis, then every 5 years thereafter. notes that, “During a colonoscopy, an experienced doctor uses a colonoscope (a long, flexible instrument about 1/2 inch in diameter) to view the lining of the colon. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and advanced through the large intestine. If necessary during a colonoscopy, small amounts of tissue can be removed for analysis (a biopsy) and polyps can be identified and entirely removed. In many cases, a colonoscopy allows accurate diagnosis and treatment of colorectal problems without the need for a major operation.” states that, “Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 49,700 deaths during 2015.

However, statistics show that, “The death rate (the number of deaths per 100,000 people per year) from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for more than 20 years,” thanks, in part, to early detection and treatment.

So what makes the colonoscopy a first team offense and defense against colorectal cancer? Mayfield says, “Colonoscopy is the best avenue as it is both a diagnostic and potentially therapeutic procedure. Colonoscopy allows for direct visualization of the colon lumen providing the best means for polyp detection and subsequent polyp removal, which can prevent colon cancer from ever developing.”

Whether you’re an NFL MVP, a world heavy-weight boxing champion, or the next soccer superstar, you must first identify your opponent. It’s the one you don’t see, that will take you down and maybe – “lights out.” Take ownership of your health.

Mackie Shilstone, a regular contributor to | The Times-Picayune, has been involved in the wellness sports performance industry for nearly 40 years. He is currently a fitness consultant to Serena Williams and has trained numerous other professional athletes and consulted a litany of professional sports franchises. He is St. Charles Parish Hospital’s fitness and wellness expert. Contact him at