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Inspired by Parkinson’s: How to Have an Amazing Life in the Face of Life-Changing Events


Inspired by Parkinson’s News, Weather

Welcome to the next chapter of the continuing set of experiences that is life.

I am a Parkinson’s patient. Strike that. I’m told that the politically correct label is a “PWP: Person with Parkinson’s.” I have never been interested in what others say is politically correct.

That is not me. I mean, I do have the disease, but, what I like to say is, “I have Parkinson’s disease; it does NOT have me.”

These are not just words: it is my life’s mission. I will continue to do ALL the things I have always done as well as I can for as long as I can and, along the way, help (mentor) as many people as possible. This applies to any life-changing events that we may experience during our lives.

Some set as a goal “Living Well with Parkinson’s.” I say, “Don’t settle for just living well. Instead, choose to ‘Live an Amazing Life’ with Parkinson’s or any other life-changing condition.”

How is that possible?

It means doing whatever it takes to slow, delay, stem, even BEAT this, or any other, disease or condition, including: (1) learning as much as you can about the condition or life-changing event including the non-motor emotional effects; (2) only put healthy things into your body; (3) exercise every day beyond your comfort zone; (4) have and exude a positive attitude; and (5) remain “engaged.”

These things are not easy. In fact, they are very hard, but you HAVE to do it. You have no choice.

This life is not a dress rehearsal. It is the live production. Each of us has the power and strength within us if we dig deep enough. Dig deep. This is what I talk about in my inspirational and motivational presentations around the world ([1]).

What is the initial daily action?

You need to go no further than the title of my book: Decide Success – You Ain’t Dead Yet[2]. Make the decision. Pick a day that you are going to start and set it in concrete.

Before that day comes, you must research.

First, set aside at least one hour a day to research what people, including (but not exclusively) health care professionals, are saying helps minimize, or even eliminate, the symptoms[3]. You must form a team of advisors with a wide range of expertise, some of which may not initially occur to you: a movement disorder specialist, a financial advisor[4], an employment attorney[5], a benefits and Medicare attorney (sometimes called an eldercare law attorney), a person from a Parkinson’s Association to guide you through the many resources available to you[6], a fitness expert, a nutritionist, a massage therapist and a counseling therapist.

Second, schedule out what you will be eating and when each day for the week. I have never liked breakfast so I researched and decided upon what I consider to be the best nutritious meal replacement shake for my morning meal[7].

I then eat several small meals throughout the day of raw (sometimes steamed) vegetables (love farmer’s markets), organically-grow fruit, non-animal protein, and gluten-free carbohydrates.

My thinking, which is based upon absolutely no medical research whatsoever (that I know of), is that my body (immune system) is fighting Parkinson’s 24/7/365 and any other stress on the system cannot be tolerated.

I have watch documentaries that have convinced me that breaking down any meat (especially animal meat that may have had foreign chemicals introduced into it, before or after slaughter) or processed food stresses the digestive system and is just not good for me[8].

I drink water constantly, never soda, diet or otherwise. Although we can’t avoid sugar entirely (it is hidden in most of what we are offered at the supermarkets), it has been called addictive and even toxic[9]. Reading food labels for sugar[10] content is at least one thing you can do. A good rule-of-thumb is, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you may not want to put it in your body.

Third, exercise time slots need to be the first thing you schedule out in planning out your week.

I have always considered myself an athlete. Now I am an athlete WJSHTHPD[11]. For exercise[12], I started out three years ago, (almost ten years into my Parkinson’s) at 50 years old, walking on a treadmill and have now progressed to either 60 minutes of Orange Theory Fitness (“OTC”) in Tempe, 90 minutes of Bikram hot yoga[13], or both almost every day. For days that I stay home, I use exercise videos from BeachBody[14].

As part of my physical health, once a week, I have a deep tissue and muscle massage called, Rolfing. It is painful (very) while it is being performed, but like most things that are good for you, make you feel much better after it is over.

Fourth, I only spend time with positive people, read inspirational information and watch uplifting programs. In fact, I went so far as to contribute a chapter to the book entitled, “Courageous Stories of Inspiration[15]” and the opening chapter, “Out with the Bad and In with the Good,” to the downloadable book “The Art of Living Well[16].” Interestingly, OTC and Hot Yoga have the most positive people that you can find.

I have focused upon the “silver lining” and not the dark cloud that is Parkinson’s. I have worked through the emotional rollercoaster of denial, disbelief, shock, embarrassment, anger, sadness, disappointment and depression. I have not just accepted Parkinson’s in my life, but have actually embraced it.

This no longer just means the change in motor function (which can be quite painful and mood altering) and the introduction of many medications into my system that have many side effects[17], but also must include the psychological and these emotional effects of any life-changing event including Parkinson’s.

For me, this “embracing” includes the extremely difficult realization, after all the work and sacrifice of getting admitted to, attending, and graduating from an Ivy League law school and loving every day the practice of law, that, at 48 years old, I had to give up my law practice and do something else for a living[18].

Further, I was no longer Executive Officer and the General Counsel of a formerly listed steel company, but that pitiful guy that used to have it all until he contracted Parkinson’s disease in the prime of his career.

For many, we identify with what we do for a living and it can be devastating to have that part of our identity ripped away from us through no fault of our own. In fact, what is one of the first thing that we say to people we are introduced to: I am a [insert profession here].

I know, from my own personal experience, that staying positive can be particularly difficult while under financial pressure. Most of us live at, or close to, paycheck to paycheck. I was no exception. The more we make, the more our monthly payments increase, from house mortgage to car payments to property taxes to school tuition for your children and on and on. It’s tough to cut these monthly payments out, or at least down, in a short period of time. It affects the entire family.

Often, we wait too long (remember disbelief, denial and embarrassment). But, I have come to realize that a simplified live can actually lead to a happier life. I found a documentary simply entitled, “Happy” that helped me understand this concept and stay positive through the transition.

I could actually take the position (I’m was an attorney after all) that the benefits of my having Parkinson’s right now actually outweigh the negatives (no, I’m not kidding). That is a bold statement.

Let me back it up. I am more physically fit than I have ever been in my life. I have lost those 40 pounds that I knew that I needed to lose, but never even tried. My bad cholesterol level is down from 180 (very high) to 105 (normal). The unbelievably part is that I have had this degenerative, progressive, irreversible, neurological, incurable disease for almost 13 years and you would not know it by looking at me (at least most of the time).

Finally, stay “engaged.” I am a professional speaker, author, and teacher,[19] now instead of an attorney[20]. I get to influence young minds by speaking on success at schools and other organizations[21]. I get to travel the world teaching my twelve Decide Success principles and inspiring people who have had an adverse or tragic life-changing events, including (but not exclusively) being diagnosed with Parkinson’s or had a loved one diagnosed with Parkinson’s[22]. I have the time to write.

As my daily action items, I create healthy meals, workout, expose myself to positive influences and stay engaged. I got to write my book and contribute my thoughts to numerous other media outlets[23]. I have been interviewed on television[24], radio[25] and had articles written about my wife, who is my primary caregiver, and I[26].

My time is spent helping nonprofit causes like Make-A-Wish Foundation and various Parkinson’s associations. In fact, I am new to Phoenix, Arizona, yet have been asked to Chair the National Parkinson Foundation Moving Day Phoenix event scheduled for November 15, 2014[27].

The world’s response to the “Ice Bucket Challenge” confirms my deeply held belief that people simply care about each other. To endure iced water poured over your head and to send donations in the magnitude of what has been received is truly heartwarming.

Although we don’t have any clever “Challenge,” we do have a great cause that needs funds to be raised if we are going to help people live an amazing life with Parkinson’s.

I am a different person than I was pre-Parkinson’s. A kinder, gentler John Baumann[28]. One set of “blinders” has been removed. I see things that I have never noticed before concerning what really matters in life. I am not as interested in material things. I have a whole new set of “real” friends in the Parkinson’s, yoga and fitness community that I have “bonded” with due to our common issues and passions. I feel like I am making a “difference.” My life has purpose and I am focused upon leaving a legacy.

Finally, and most importantly, during my journey with Parkinson’s, I met and married my love, my chef, my workout partner, my friend, my sidekick, my wife, my Bernadette. I truly am living an Amazing Life with Parkinson’s. So can you.

John Baumann



[1] I had done over 60 presentations for associations, organizations, healthcare and other companies across the United States and the world (including Malaysia, Canada, the Virgin Island and Puerto Rico) and am currently scheduling my speaking and workshop calendar for 2015. Contact me at for more information.

[2] For an autographed copy, visit or visit for the audio version.

[3] For example, this included, for me, recently finding out about doctor-prescribed Apokyn to jump-start me when I experience unexpected “off” periods.

[4] Especially if you are not financially ready to stop working.

[5] If you are still employed, you will need advise on how and when to inform your employer to take make full use of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

[6] Resources can include support groups (insist on ones that are positive and not just complaint sessions), voice therapy, etc.

[7] For more information, contact my wife Bernadette at

[8] Sample documentaries include Food Matters, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Fed Up, Hungry For Change, and Food, Inc.

[9]   See footnote with documentaries above.

[10] Sugar has many names like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, etc. As the documentaries show artificial sweeteners are likely even worse for your health.

[11] Who Just So Happens To Have Parkinson’s Disease

[12] As you will see, our exercise or workout is more like training for a sport or even Olympic event, but our event is called remaining healthy.

[13]   When we are traveling to inspirational or success speaking engagements, we book our hotel as close as possible to a local Bikram Hot Yoga studio.

[14] For more information, contact my wife at

[15] For an autographed copy, visit

[16] For a free copy, contact me at

[17]   These include experiencing vivid dreams that I often act out to the peril of my bed partner.

[18] There are serious financial ramifications of having to prematurely discontinue one’s career that must be recognized. Further, the loss of status can be devastating. For me, I had to give up an executive officer position including all the associated perks (Kentucky Derby, PGA tournaments, NFL game suites, dinners at 5 star restaurants, private planes, etc.). Now, I pick and choose more carefully what I do for entertainment.

[19] Faculty of the University of Louisville, College of Business since 2006

[20] Although I do continue to often consult on legal issues related to the American with Disabilities Act (the ADA).

[21] Including conducting workshops at several companies.

[22] See a sample 40 minute presentation at

[23] Visit



[26] Most recently Louisville Magazine, Health Edition, March 2014. For actual copies of these articles, contact me at

[27] To create your own or join Team Baumann, visit:

[28] No small accomplishment for someone who grew up near New York City and worked as an attorney for 23 years. Some of you may not relate to this, but those who do will appreciate it.


I would be honored to be your chosen to speak at your event or to your employees.

Simply … John Baumann’s 21 Topics of Expertise

All Companies, Organizations, Associations, Clubs, etc.:/
1) SIMPLY … what your people can do to be more successful.
2) SIMPLY … what your people can do to be better supervisors of other people.
3) SIMPLY … what you can do to help your people be more intense.
4) SIMPLY … what you can do to help your people be more aware: continually question what is & see beyond what is apparent.
5) SIMPLY … what you can do to help your people develop better instincts.
6) SIMPLY … what you can do to help your people be more positive.
7) SIMPLY … what you can do to make sure your people maintain the highest degree of integrity.

8) SIMPLY … what I can do to motivate your people with my story of living an amazing life with Parkinson’s for over a decade.

9) SIMPLY … what you can do to eliminate and prevent workplace harassment.
10) SIMPLY … what you can do to reduce workplace injuries.
11) SIMPLY … what you can do to maintain a union-free workplace.

12) SIMPLY … what I can do to educate your managers about basic employment law.
13) SIMPLY … what I can do to educate your managers about basic labor law.
14) SIMPLY … what I can do to educate your managers about basic personal injury law.
15) SIMPLY … what I can do to educate your managers about basic contract law.
16) SIMPLY … what I can do to educate your managers about basic overtime law.
17) SIMPLY … what I can do to educate your managers about basic environmental law.
18) SIMPLY … what I can do to educate your managers about basic intellectual property law.

People diagnosed with any serious illness, Caregivers, Healthcare Professionals, etc.:
19) SIMPLY … what you can do to, not just survive, but actually embrace, an adverse life-changing event.
20) SIMPLY … how to reclaim your positive perspective (Posi-spective).
21) SIMPLY … what you can do to find your purpose.

John Baumann has been living with Parkinson’s since being diagnosed in 2002. He has built a presence within the Parkinson’s community and associations as a trustworthy keynote speaker and inspiring leader. John has the patient perspective and he can clearly communicate with others, leaving them with more understanding and hope. John is a living example of how attitude, diet and exercise can have a positive effect on the symptoms of Parkinson’s. He also wrote a book to assist others in creating their Own Personal Success Plan entitled: Decide Success.”

Here’s why:
• John has been the Keynote Speaker at dozens of Symposiums for hospitals, medical personnel, caregivers and patients with rave reviews bringing humor, insights, and inspiring stories of personal experiences.

• John has learned to live his life to the fullest with Parkinson’s disease for over 12 years and is healthier now (on all levels) than he has ever been.

• John relates, on a personal level, with professional caregivers (a former E.M.T.), family caregivers (daughter with CP) and, of course, patients (Parkinson’s Proud since 2002).

• John provides the attendees with the following Tangible Takeaways:
(1) The realization that, despite whatever the disease, we are the same person as we have always been (maybe better for the additional life perspective) and that the disease does not define who we are.
(2) The awareness that each of us still has the power, to a great extent, to determine the course of the disease, if we choose to exercise that power.
(3) A better understanding of the emotional rollercoaster that we each go through and how to soften the curves, moving toward a “Get Over It” mentality more quickly.
(4) How to create a Plan (with Daily Action Steps) to slow, if not reverse, the symptoms of the disease, including forming your own “tribe.”
(5)Getting to the point where you actually Embrace Adversity and Reclaim your Positive Perspective.
(6) Believe that some how, some way the disease is “For the Best” and have Faith that you will “Find your Purpose.”
Thank you for the inspiring talk presented to the US WorldMeds team in Orlando. I walked away knowing I just heard one of the best motivational presentations I had a chance to be part of since I have been in Pharma industry (20 years)!” Best, Glenn Esgro – VP of Managed Markets / US Worldmeds, LLC (October 2013)

You are the real deal.” – former Congressman Romano L. Mazzoli (October 2013)

I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed you, your presentation and Bernadette and Oliver! Nothing but praise coming in: ‘best keynote speaker we’ve ever had, etc.,etc.’ You shared a lot of love this weekend in Milwaukee, John!” – Vicki Conte, Program Manager, Department of Neurology, Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin (September 2013).

View John Baumann's LinkedIn profileView John Baumann’s profile

Member, National Speakers Association
Author, DECIDE SUCCESS and Courageous Stories of Inspiration
Faculty, University of Louisville
Commentator, CNN Headline News

John has made presentations with amazing reviews, among other places, in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Burlington (VT), Buffalo, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Edison (NJ), Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Louisville, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, Palm Desert (CA), Philadelphia, Phoenix, Regina (Canada), Rochester (NY), Sioux Falls (SD), St. Louis, St. Thomas (VI), San Juan (PR), Santa Fe, Tulsa, Utica (NY), and will be speaking at the World Parkinson Congress with an estimated 6,000 delegates in Montreal in October. John is married to Bernadette, who often appears with John, to speak on being an “icare partner” and their exercise/nutrition regime.