No time to panic

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:32 pm

A little more than a year ago, Chris Trebatoski, an attorney with Gonzalez, Saggio & Harlan LLP, started a mental and physical metamorphosis.
His high-stress job had taken its toll on him – he was taking four psychological medications every day for panic attacks that could leave him feeling not in control of his body or mind. Although the medications had helped with the panic attacks, they were clearly not curing his condition, and they came with an unwanted side effect – a large weight gain.
At 45 years old, Trebatoski was looking for a different approach, a cure for the panic attacks he had been dealing with for six years.
At his doctor’s recommendation, Trebatoski took disability leave from his job to try to find out what was wrong and to fix it. Instead of making appointments with a psychiatrist or trying a different mix of medications, the doctor told him to go to the gym.
"He said, ‘We have to approach this differently,’" Trebatoski recalls. "To try to see if an exercise program would allow me to reduce my stress levels. My high stress level created these health issues, physical and mental."
Trebatoski wasn’t sent to just any gym. Because of his mental and physical health issues, he was told to seek out the trainers at Fitness Together, which has a branch location on East Silver Spring Drive in Whitefish Bay, near Trebatoski’s north shore home.
Unlike most gyms, Fitness Together has a small storefront location that only has room for three members to work out at one time.
When the Fitness Together members work out, during the time they’ve reserved, they are accompanied by a trainer who motivates them and makes sure they are performing exercises properly.
"When you work out with a trainer, you are very acutely aware of what you do," Trebatoski says. "They push you to the limit of what you can do."
Steve Mills, owner of the Whitefish Bay Fitness Together studio and regional coordinator for Wisconsin and Illinois for the national chain, says Trebatoski has made incredible progress over the past year.
"Chris was very subdued, very unconfident in himself (when he first came in)," Mills says. "He was a heart attack waiting to happen. We had to start low with the cardio and low with the weights, ramping it up when he would plateau."
Customized workout plans have given Trebatoski and Mills both reason to boast. Within two months of starting his three-times-per-week workouts, Trebatoski dropped the 30 pounds he set out to lose.
However, more importantly, his panic attacks are gone.
His doctor recommended he stop taking medication for them, and almost 10 months later, the attacks have not returned, despite Trebatoski’s return to work – and the courtroom.
"I’m doing more because I can and because I’m really committed to maintaining the schedule I have," he says. "I tried a case in March, where I was working 15 to 16 hours a day. I didn’t know if I could maintain my workout regimen. But I was as sharp as I ever was and I felt good at the end of the trial."
Trebatoski says he’s observed that trial lawyers, when they are trying a case, will do one of two things at the end of the day to unwind. They’ll either drink or work out – and he says working out has taken the place of anything else he used to do to calm down.
"You feel better about yourself," he says. "And I found that it was no problem to maintain (the workouts) throughout the case."
To date, Trebatoski has lost about 60 pounds, and he estimates he’s converted another 20 pounds of fat into muscle. This hasn’t just improved his health. Trebatoski is now better more able to deal with work-related stress, has a higher sense of self-esteem and has more energy for his kids.
His improved strength has made it easier for Trebatoski to play with his two sons, ages 8 and 12.
"I can now take both of my sons piggy-back to their room upstairs without breathing heavy," he says.
December 17, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

Dr. Daniel A. Schroeder is President/CEO of Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC). ODC serves regional and national clients from its offices in suburban Milwaukee. Additionally, he teaches in the Organizational Behavior and Leadership (bachelor’s) and Organization Development (master’s) programs at Edgewood College (Madison, WI), programs that he founded and for which he served as Program Director.

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