A first book is filled with information to help people deal with life's difficulties.
By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Kenneth Thomas' teen years were as influential as they were difficult.
When he was 15, Thomas was told he would never be able to bend his left arm after his elbow was mangled while wrestling in high school.
Nevertheless, Thomas calls this his "first lucky break." Several months of self-developed physical therapy enabled him to regain arm strength and made it possible for Thomas to get into weight lifting and gymnastics.
Two years later, though, he was in a car accident and spent six weeks in the hospital recuperating from a broken back. Thomas' "second lucky break" came a few days later, when he was well enough to return to practicing gymnastics -- something he still does 53 years later.
The "third lucky break," working on the drug reaction ward of a Navy hospital, reinforced Thomas' desire to stay fit after he saw many people suffering from the side effects of various medical drugs. Afterward, Thomas vowed to stay healthy through natural means, he said.
At 18, dermatologists determined Thomas had psoriasis and that the skin disease was incurable.
Ten years later, though, Thomas began eating more raw foods and fresh vegetables, and within two months, his psoriasis disappeared.
It's been 45 years since his last medical doctor visit.
Thomas, now 69, and his wife, Miki, 56, run Personal Empowerment Programs Intl., their downtown business, and make healthy living their business and lifestyle.
Gymnasts: During their 13-year marriage, both have continually performed together as gymnasts, often using the Oakland Center for the Arts to practice. After a performance, the couple conducts "Fit for Success" programs, named after their second book, that focus on the value of staying in shape physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
Their first book, "Gifts from the Masters", is a collection of statements designed to help solve many of life's dilemmas, Thomas said.
The secret to longevity and a life free of obesity, cancer and heart disease goes beyond weight lifting and working out. Healthy living requires a balance between body, mind and spirit, they say.
"Fitness is a means to an end," Ken Thomas said. "Emotions can make someone as sick as bad food."
Thomas' views about cancer prevention and diet were largely shaped after he read "Hunza Land," a 1959 book by Dr. Allen Banik and Renee Taylor. The authors describe an area in northeastern Pakistan in the Himalayas whose citizens live by nature, eat organically-grown foods and have lives free of cancer. Living past 100 years old is common, the authors point out.
Afterward, Thomas became a vegetarian and advocated natural living habits as a way to prevent heart disease and cancer, saying such changes will better enable the body to fight those and numerous other illnesses.
Cancer is often the result of years of an unhealthy diet. Holding on to resentment and grudges can also make a person more prone to various cancers and other ailments, Thomas also said.
Road to recovery: Nevertheless, adopting a vegan diet, in which the person eats no animal or dairy products, and forgiving others can pave the way for an afflicted person to recover, Miki Thomas said.
Ken Thomas said one of his biggest purposes is to get rid of negative qualities and to be a "more enlightened, loving human being." Recognizing and living by your value system and making negative emotions work favorably are crucial for wellness, the couple says.
"Practice one day at a time. If you're angry with your co-workers, smile," and use it as a learning experience, Miki Thomas said.
Ken Thomas pointed out he's not a medical doctor, adding he will refer someone who's sick to a specialist who practices natural healing methods. Such a doctor gives blood tests, looks for what vitamins and minerals are lacking and checks for mercury, lead and other toxins, he said.
After determining which substances are in the body, the specialist will prescribe supplements to help cleanse the body, Ken Thomas explained.
Only temporary: Drugs and medication can be effective to get a person through a temporary, life-threatening situation, Ken Thomas said. Problems result, however, when they become a way of life for that person, he added.
"The answer to cancer is to get back to natural living habits and to get your actions in line with your values and stop doing the things that cause the disease in the first place," he said.
The couple begins most days by jumping for 10 minutes on a rebounder, a mini-trampoline designed to stimulate oxygen flow. They also practice gymnastics about four days a week and plan to start lifting weights semiweekly, he mentioned.
Ken and Miki Thomas' next program, "How to Help Your Body to Heal," will be at 6 p.m. July 30 at King Health Center, Lowellville. Limited, free seating is available.