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Dialing in the Calories and Running Marathons

The older you get, the easier it is to regret that fact that you didn't do anything about your health for too long. Long enough to end up on MFP. I will turn 60 next year. I first joined MFP when I was 53 - right after a week-long stay in ICU after having congestive heart failure.

Whatever the reason that you joined, the good news is that we are here!

Once you get started logging food you also learn a lot about what you are consuming. I have done this for so long, it is hard for me to be off more than 100 or so calories for any given meal.

The hard part for me was thinking I could eat whatever I wanted, and getting control of portions.

My nutritionist started me on 2,500 calories a day. I gained weight. She dropped it to 2,200. I was doing 3 miles, 3 times a week and lifting weights 2 days a week. She cut it back to 1,800 and I stayed even.

Then she cut it back to 1,600 calories a day and I started losing.

I had lost about 44 pounds prior to having heart failure. I had a steady loss of about 30 more pounds. That is when she put it back to 1,800. I gained 10 pounds in 3 weeks.

Back to 1,600 I went and my weight dropped to my lowest in decades, 197. I stopped lifting and ran 6 days a week. I ran four full marathons in 2015. In fact I ran three in three months.

I admit, despite the cancer which had no real symptoms, I felt better than I had in decades.

In late 2015 I began having digestive issues. After having a colon tumor removed, I have had a dizzying array of tests, scans and tried a number of medications.

Cancer is scary.

I have worked hard at eating the "right" foods. Then there are all the supplements, oceans of water, essential oils, prayer and positive affirmations and still, I am not feeling great. 

I confess, I only ran 6 of 10 miles last week, and this week, I ran 5 1/2 of 13. :(

Yes, I am concerned about getting ready for the Berlin Marathon. The runs were disappointing - and now it's summer, not my favorite running season. I missed Dublin last year. I couldn't even do 8 of my 20 miler.

What am I going to do?

I will do what I have always done. I will push myself to the limits. I have a missed a few marathons due to things like surgery. Life. When I run, I beat cancer and despite not feeling well, I am certain that I am healthier than I would have been had I not stuck with the program.

And yes, I will be in Berlin.

Even after 6 years, this fitness thing requires effort

It's been 2194 days in a row. It sounds like a lot, but logging in doesn't matter all that much. What matters are the changes that I have made to be fit. A lot more fit. I call them lifestyle changes.

In the old days, I stopped using the scale at 276 pounds. I am sure I went higher; close to 300 pounds.

I guess you have to ask yourself what is fit and why am I here? And in my case, why am I still here for over 6 years? Why is MFP a staple of daily life? There are lots of reasons. I tried diets, eating what I wanted to in moderation, but what really changed was the long list of things I no longer eat.

Sure I missed certain foods for a while, but I am just not interested.

Here is the list of things I haven't had in a year or more (if I did, it was a very small amount so I didn't die that day): Casseroles, crock-pot meals, sauces, gravy, white potatoes, rice, all candy except for a bit of chocolate, sweet drinks with or without sugar, deep fried foods, cereal, bread, chips, pasta, McDonalds, Arby’s, BK or Wendy's anything, processed meat (except for a rare few slices of nitrate-free bacon because I am human).

I am happy to report that sex, err waffles is still on the list.

A lot of folks don't want to restrict their diet. I had to. 
I have made a number of friends here on MFP. Some have crossed over to Facebook and a number of them I have met in person at races. I have been writing this blog for all of my tenure on MyFitnessPal.com. I even wrote a book ICU to Marathon a couple of years ago. Writing has been a way for me to focus on what matters in life, have some fun, and express feelings in a forum where someone might even care. Some folks don't get me, but it seems like they don't last too long. I have deleted thousands of inactive friends on MFP. A few come back. There are some of you that have been here for a long time!

Getting fit has been a lot more than just losing weight!

I am down somewhere between 70 and a 100 pounds. My waist went from 44" to 33". I was pre-diabetic, had higher blood pressure than I do now, and my cholesterol was pretty high too. I went from huffing and puffing a 55 minute mile to running a 6 minute mile - just one, but hey. My heart catheterization, meniscus repair, rotator cuff surgery, the removal of 4 melanoma and Basal Cell carcinoma spots, as well as a colon tumor have all been successful! My blood work and last echocardiogram were all normal too. I have run 82 races including 7 marathons, 14 half marathons and some other shorter stuff.

Despite having cancer, I can run a half marathon tomorrow if I feel like it.

I guess over all, I am fit. I am still keeping a prostate tumor under surveillance. For the most part it hasn't been a problem for running or eating. However, I have had some digestive issues going on for the last year or so. They are playing with another medication and I am hoping to get it right soon.

Life isn't always easy.

I am making the most of every day, and eating all the right stuff. The doctors have had me all over the map with different diets this last year trying to get things working for me. In spite of all that, I am working to finish my next book, visiting my kids, enjoying my new relationship, saving for retirement and spending the rest.

I have endured a lot since I came to MFP. What I haven't done is give up.

Idioms for Health and Fitness Nuts

I have traveled a lot, and even in my little town I meet folks for who English is a second language. For me, the language of nutrition and fitness is a second language. I mean, when I started, I thought a burpee was a couple of bodily functions gone wrong - like a hickcough.

My neighbor is Brazilian and I love his accent and fractured idioms! My favorite is "the whole 9 shebangs."


It got me to thinking about some of the sayings Americans use (don't like it, piss off no offense to the rest of the world) in day-to-day life. What if nutrition and fitness was my first language, what would they mean then? How would they change? Here is a intor into my little world.

- As easy as [tofu] pie!


- The bee's knees [needed arthoscopic surgery].

- As happy as an [unfried] clam.

- Big fish in a small pond: now a meal for four.

- Blast from the past: before pics!

- Catch 22: Could be good or bad depending on whether it is a filling 22 calorie snack food or a 22 pound weight gain.

- Brownie points: Colon cleansing.

- Chick flick: Half a chicken tender.

- Close but no cigar: 200.1 lbs on the scale damn it!

- Cold turkey: unhealthy processed meats filled with sodium.

- Doom and gloom: A 1000 calorie a day diet.

- Fancy pants: 2 sizes smaller then the ones from last month!

- Ethnic cleansing: No more pizza and beer!

- Fanny farm: Where we used to live before C25K.

- Going postal: Mail order diet food.

- Heavy metal: Fitbits, GPS units and HRMs.

- Identity Theft: After pics!

- In the bag: Purchase healthy food.

- Jump the gun: Run your first 5K!

- Kangaroo court: Message boards.

- Jump the shark: Mad fitness workout!

- Kit and caboodle: Properly fitting sports bra or other undergarment.

- Lame duck: Posting that you are not going to log for a few days.

- Off the record: Not logging all your food.

- Pi$s off: Getting ready to weigh in.

- Play by ear: New running tunes!

- Red letter day: Over your calories.

- Sold down the river: Health food store is too far from the house.

- Spill the beans: In the south = peanut farts, up north = eating a high protein/high fiber diet.

- Tuckered out: Week 3 of C25K. :)

- Zero tolerance: Rules for not adding friends.

Thanks for reading along! I appreciate the votes and comments. Feel free to add your own.

Weight Loss is a Religion

Since the beginning, mankind and their various religions have often turned the world upside down. Everyone has an opinion about unseen - whether it's good, bad, or somewhere in between. They worship, they teach, they hope, they pray, and they even spread the word about their personal enlightenment.

Folks can be just as religious about weight loss!

That's right, some of us have become enlightened and now everyone needs to become like us! What, you don't believe me? Here are the basics constructs of religion.

Belief in Supernatural Being, Deity or Absolute: Weight-losers believe that the calories are supernatural. Then sneak in at night and shrink your clothes and meddle with the zero balance on the scale.

Sacred and Profane Objects: Sacred objects include the scale, skinny jeans and sometimes the tape measure. The profane; chocolate, ice cream, donuts, wings and pizza.

Moral Code: You must eat clean, lift heavy, do intervals, run in Vibrams, or zip your pants. There are many factions. Many of them don't agree.

Religious Feelings: I ate donut, I feel fat. I ate a salad I feel skinny. I ran a marathon and I am sore. I am tempted by food. I mean, if a little wine for communion is good, then a whole bottle must be better.

Prayer: There are rote prayers like the names we call the scale. It's a universal language. Then there is the second donut prayer and the skipped my workout prayer before ascending to the Altar of Poundage. (I heard the Brits get stoned there.)

A World View: Our world is about weight and rarely about fitness. We have a hard time seeing ourselves as we really are. We say it's OK to have curves and type II diabetes. But then we hit a goal or two and sanity clears our vision.

Intolerance: Skinny people make us angry enough to trip them on the escalator at the mall.

Divine Destiny: We dream of the afterlife of being sexy and skinny somewhere in life. The truth is for most of us, our last chance to have a hot smoking body is cremation.

Problem of Evil Explained: We know about sugar, Aspartame and GMO's, just ask us!

A Social Group Bound Together: Umm, we are here on MFP.

Belief in a Sacred Scripture: Fad diets are everywhere, but heretics like me have written their own missal.
 
Capital Fundraisers: Things like walking 100 miles in a month and the sugar free challenge. 
 
Rituals: Scale worship is like daily vespers. Then there is something akin to high mass like cheat days after 40 days of fasting and colon cleansing. Most agree that we need to give our old unhealthy lifestyle whatever the appropriate burial ritual is. 

Thanks for reading along. I appreciate the votes and comments.

What's Your Fitness Sign?

It might be true that when you were born, the stars had a party, or the year you were born might have something to do with your destiny. But here on MFP, your sign is based on how well you do the program. :)

The Dog - A walker at 3.0 miles per hour.

The Snake - Stays within their allotted calories but eats fast food and Diet Coke at every meal.

The Ox - Losing in spite of metabolic challenges!

The Cheetah - Runners who have completed C25K and can knock out a 5K in less than 30 minutes.

The Cheater - Can't live without one over indulgent junk meal each week.

The Bull - The strength training without cardio folks.

The Fox - Female MFP-ers at their goal weight!

The Horse - Has lost over 100 pounds and still going! WTG!

The Lamb - The noob.

The Pig - Always has excuses for going over their calories.

The Ram - Those who have discovered that strength training builds muscles and help lose more weight faster!

The Big Dog - Eats everything that is put in front of them. Portion control is your best friend!

The Cat - Has the "couch" part of Couch to 5K down.

The Goat - Eats anything with a Diet label on it.

The Fish - Drinks 22 cups of water a day.

The Stallion - guys, well, like me for example.

So, what is your sign? Did I miss any?

Thanks for the votes and comments. (You can do both!)

I Decided to Live

How did I ever let myself get to almost 300 pounds? I ate too many calories. The change occurred slowly over a period of millions of bites of food. It's pretty much the same way I became a daily drinker, a smoker and drug user. I never set out to be an addict, it just happened.

I was always going to change tomorrow.

What got my attention? Well, it wasn't the US Post Office considering giving me my own ZIP code or the fact that I thought I could be seen from outer space; nope, none of those. It was a week in ICU without a shower or underwear or sleep.

It was hard to decide to live.

My heart failure cost me just about everything. It took a while before I was able to work - eight months. it stressed out my family, it stressed the finances, and I was emotionality depressed. When you don't have your health, the rest of life doesn't mean a whole lot.

Then I started running.

Oh yeah, running is bad for your knees, you'll get A-Fib if you over train, you'll need knee replacements, running is a treat, you don't need to run to lose weight; I heard it all. And most of it from doctors! I also heard, you weren't that fat, a little meat on the bones is healthy, I like your curves (not really that one), you look cute (yeah from the top of my head up.) and I didn't realize you were so sick. WTF?

It took a year to do C25K and lose the first 60 pounds.

I have faced a number of challenges since I first logged onto MFP and asked what an NSV was. Here is what I can tell you. Because I run and lost weight, I have survived cancer 4 times. I am onto my 5th round as I write this. I have dumped 7 medications for my heart except for a low dose of blood pressure medication which I have needed all my life. My resting pulse is down from 72 to 48 and I haven't had to take an antidepressant or even had a cold. That's going on 5 years.

After all the medical stuff, sometimes it is still hard to decide to live.

Some days I don't want to run. I get up at 4:45 to leave for work and I get home 12 hours later. I make sure my running gear in on the love seat where it's ready when I walk in the door. I cannot let myself sit down, or it's game over. I will be in my PJs faster than a speeding bullet, snacking before dinner if I even have the energy to cook it.

I have started logging my food on not so normal days, drinking lots of water, and running more.

I still have some medical stuff which is giving me a run for my money. I have not heard anything on those tests yet. Maybe today -
 
It doesn't really matter unless they can provide a cure of sorts.

I am walking four or five miles a day (6,000 steps or so) on my walking desk and standing about six hours a day total.

I think all that is contributing to my feeling a little better.

I am down a few more pounds which makes me happy. I still have about 12 or so to go, but this time I am going to make it. My runs are up to 9 miles and this weekend it will be 10. I am not feeling awesome about it, but I am going to do it anyway.

Thanks for the votes and comments. I always appreciate them.

It Isn't Always Easy

My biopsy came back positive for cancer in 7 out of 16 cores. One of the cores is serious. They are going to pursue some non-surgical treatments.

Cancer sucks!

I am still working on my food consumption and cutting it back. Remember the days when you were hungry all the time? I am there again.

I am eating more protein and less carbs. I am down a little!

I had some other tests done the see if they can figure out my digestive issues. I am waiting for those to come back. The results, not the crap in a cup. Despite all that, I have support from my girlfriend which makes some of this health stuff easier.
 
Support is essential for success. 

I am running more, and faster, and I don't care how I feel. When I come back from a run, I always feel better than when I started.

And I am getting 5 or so miles in a day on my walking desk at work.

I don't have a lot to say today. I am working on my new book, looking forward to my future, creating art, and training for the Berlin Marathon.

Life will take care of itself if I say focused on what I need to do today.

I have scheduled all my runs in the calendar and I am working on completing a food menu so I can stay on track for the month. I have also scheduled some fun stuff and some races to look forward to.

That's it. Today. I can do this.

Thanks for the votes and comments. I always appreciate those.

I Just Don't See it That Way

You've met them. Some of them are your MFP friends, and others are in real life. They are people who can't see that they are in trouble with their weight and ultimately their health. And worst of all, you could be one of those that continue to give yourself permission to avoid the reality.

Today I had to remind myself that my health is important. I am still waiting on biopsy results and decided to revisit this blog.

You know that you are in denial when:

- The doc says you need to lose weight, and you think, I don't look that bad.

- Your insurance company gives you $600 a year in savings for doing their health rewards program and you think about all the food you could buy with it.

- You buy a selfie stick to get the best aerial shot for your Facebook profile pic.

- You say that if God had wanted you to exercise and touch your toes, He would have put them higher up on your body.

- Your favorite pants don't fit, and you blame your spouse for washing them in hot water and then drying then on high.

- You go to the coffee shop and tell the cashier the coffee is for you, and the donuts are for your pet Fighting Fish, when the truth is it's the other way around.

- You go to an "all you can eat" restaurant or buffet because you have invested in their stock.

- You eat whatever you like because you get a lot of exercise - pushing the buttons on the remote.

- You heard that there were two pieces of cake in the fridge, and think how sad it is that you missed one.

- Instead of looking at the size tag on clothes, you look to see if it has elastic.

- You kick the scale, well, because it's a scale damit.

- All your vacation photos at Disney were taken at the Food Court in Epcot Center.

- You get flowers and chocolates from an admirer and throw the flowers out.

- You eat because, well, your mouth wasn't that busy at the time.

- You are out of breath just thinking about exercise.

- You go to weddings because the cake is free.

- You tell yourself this is the last pizza... today...

- You try to do a push up and discover that a number of body parts have not left the floor.

Thanks for the votes and comments.

Friend me at your own risk.

I Need Help

I was listening to a recovering drug addict on the radio this morning. He said asking for help was the hardest thing he ever did. "It changed my life for the better." he said.

My life has been dotted with spiritual interventions. I asked for help a few times.

I don't know about you, but I've made a lot of bad choices. Some of them seemed so innocent at the time. You know, having the third beer before driving home, or loading up my plate for the third time when I was already obese. Sure there were the obvious bad decisions like quitting a good job thinking that this new one was going to fix my career path and continuing to date psycho Sally in high school.

She still haunts me 40 years later.

Three years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer (the first of five times), I decided, instead of having a major surgery, to let the doctors actively watch my tumor. This included blood tests, physical exams (where you get to be #1 with the doctor for a few minutes) and surgical biopsies. I hope I've made the right decision - quality over quantity.

I had another biopsy last Friday.

I hate them, they are messy, and they hurt like holy hell. However; I had to agree with the surgeon, six of these is better than one of those. I have been moving slowly for a few days, sore, and taking it easy so the bleeding stops. My experience is that it can take a week or two.

So what do I need help with?

Everything. I need help staying on track with the food. I need help managing my emotional state as I wait for the results to come back in a week or so. I need to stay focused on working so I can take care of my fiscal responsibilities.

Mostly I want to lay down on the couch and eat bonbons until all this goes away.

Running is my happy place and I can't go there this week. I have a 10K race this coming Sunday and I will take a shot at finishing.
 
I constantly tell myself I am doing OK with the food, but the scale isn't moving and I am up 15 pounds. I have been eating the same stuff for years, just too much of it I guess. I changed the battery in my food scale. I am on it again. Today is 2145 days that I have been logging in...

I should have learned something by now.

So tell me, what do I need to do to stay on track?

Tips for Life and Running

Just like the law of gravity, there are some rules for running that will produce similar health benefits if you don't fight them. 

Don't run in the house. You should have learned this as a kid!

Get running shoes fitted at a running store. Wear them even if they are not cute.

Prevent injuries by strength training. Nearly half of all runners are injured in any given year. This does not include poking your eye out with a fork at dinner.

Prevent injuries by warming up and cooling down. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is the most common treatment for soft tissue injuries. Or beer.

Casts are the most common treatment for broken bones and sometimes face-palms.

Prevent injuries by stretching. 82 percent of runners will experience a running-related injury in their lifetime.

Have a training plan. What is the goal of your training? To run far? To run fast? To run a 5K? To get to the bar on time?

Have a flexible plan.

Celebrate your victories!

Don't increase mileage or intensity too much each week.

The best run is the one you don't skip.

Don't just run, strength train and cross-train. Fitness keeps injuries low.

Eat some carbs and protein within 30 minutes after a run. (Lots of geeky scientific reasons, just do it!)

Run facing traffic. You'd hate to miss your last second on earth without knowing what hit you.

Don't run immediately after eating Thanksgiving dinner. 

Remember, you are not on a bike. If you try to coast, as soon as your legs stop, you'll fall flat on your face.

If your muscles are sore after a run, that's good.

Get enough sleep. It's best if it is not while you're running.

Replace your shoes every 300-500 miles, or if they stink so bad they could knock over a skunk.

Learn to run long slow runs and fast short ones. It depends on how long you have until the cops find out what you did.

If you run at night, make yourself visible. Most drivers are not using night-vision goggles.

If you have any sharp pains during/after running, that's probably a sign to take a few days off.

You should be able to talk in complete sentences while running. That is to say, if you can talk in complete sentences when not running.

A headwind always slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up. It's hearsay, but it feels that way.

Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up. Also hearsay.

Buy your shoes a little on the large side. Your feet need room to grow. 

Don't run with scissors. If you are reading this, you probably still have eyes.
(Dr. Finch: Where would we be without our painful childhoods?)

Take rest days! At least one a week. If you are new, start with 4 rest days, and work up slowly. (Have a training plan!)

Don't forget to do the couch part of Couch to 5K. 

Have fun!

Did I miss any? 

Thanks for the votes and comments!

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