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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!

Everyone Should Think Big

Most of you know that I had congestive heart failure in 2011. Since then I have run 7 marathons. Because Boston is next Monday, I thought I would remind my readers that a marathon is always 26.2 miles. 

I love the Boston course.

Boston has been a constant inspiration for me. Running has radically changed my life, second to only prayer. There is something magical about Boston - sort of like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. It's just so big!
We should all think big when it comes to fitness goals! 

My blog is usually related to fitness and weight loss. Today it is about things you need to know about a marathon.

Please vote for it anyway. Sympathy votes are like make up sex.

So you want to run a marathon? Here are some things to keep in mind.
- A marathon is nothing like a half marathon. It's the difference between waking up after a glass of wine or two and waking up after five or six shots of tequila.
- Even when you have trained hard, expecting to run a faster pace then you did in any of your training runs is pathetic.
- Small races are much easier logistically, but they can get lonely those last 10 miles.
- Big races are awesome if you need crowd support.
- If you are planning to walk the last six miles after you hit the wall, why not walk the first six miles and finish stronger?
- The halfway point of a marathon is 20 miles.
- You need to practice fueling on all your practice runs.
- The shoes that work for your 5K and 10K - even your half may not work for a full.
- Any training runs longer than 20 miles can cause long term damage and ruin your big day.
- Long slow runs are as effective for building VO2 Max as long fast runs. Use them to stay injury free.
- Run/Walk is not an option for an untrained runner. It is meant to give you a faster finishing time than running the entire time.
- Get your 20-miler in 6 weeks before the race. That way you have time to fix things and try it again. Or go with the confidence you nailed it.
- The last 6.2 miles are subject to change very quickly.
- Negative splits are essential for a good marathon. (slower miles to faster miles)
- Train with the hydration brand provided on the course.
- During big-city marathons be sure to sit as much as possible. Two or three hours on your feet before a race wastes energy you will need.
- Bring throw-away clothes. Space blankets are cheap! Bring two. One for the ground and one for cover up with.
- Pre-load electrolytes starting three days before a race.
- Hydrate well starting two days before a race.
- If you are going to carb-load, do it two nights before the race.
- Always practice you pre-race meal before a long training run.
- Most courses have hydration every 2 miles, some more often. Small sips during training during these intervals.
- During hot races it's a good idea to bring hydration. Water stops can be a zoo.
- My chiropractor said walk for an hour before sitting down after a marathon.
- To help you go out easy, warm up and stretch during the first mile or two.
- Study the course map. Knowing where hills are is helpful. If you are planning on walking, hills are a good place regardless of your intervals.
- Leg cramps are COMMON in the later miles of a marathon. Bring salt packs!

Thanks for the votes and comments.

A Pathetic Runners Guide to the Universe

Six Years Later, I Am Still Here!

What can I say? Today is the 6th anniversary of my congestive heart failure. The ambulance, the surgery, and the unknown. It was scary but I had been so ill I didn't really care, I just wanted relief. It was a real thriller for me and those around me.

Today I am simply being grateful.

Not long after I had heart surgery I went to watch the Boston Marathon. There I sat and watched tens of thousands of runners doing their 26.2 miles. I was mad at myself for not having taken better care of myself. I went home determined to overcome heart disease or die trying.

That day on the operating table I didn't really care if I lived or died.

Something changed inside that day and I began my dream of running a 5K. I pushed hard on the way home from the route. My home was just barely a mile and it took 50 minutes to get home. I had to stop and rest, sitting on a park bench to catch my breath.

Running has been amazing for me. You know when you wish or pray to feel good? It did that for me.

I finally felt better than I had in decades - maybe ever. I know a lot of you have read my book, but the story doesn't end there. I ran my first 5K and I have finished 7 marathons and I am registered for another.

Life has bumps, and it is true that if you have your health you have everything. Take a chance and get to work. You'll be amazed at what you can do.

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

Today is the Day to Live

I woke up a 6 AM on April 4th. I called into work sick. I felt like throwing up. In fact I had for a couple of days. I decided to call my doctor and left a message with his answering service. I was certain there was something he could do to make me comfortable. His office finally called back at 9 AM.

You can come in at 3:30 or meet him in the ER where he is on duty.

I felt so baldy I decided to go to the ER. In fact I felt bad enough to call 911, but first I would let my now ex-wife what my plans were. This week is the 6th anniversary of the day I suffered congestive heart failure. It's a big deal. You know it took a year to complete Couch to 5K.

Some of you know that I have cancer and I am working through the treatment options. Cancer sucks.

If I were to make a list of the crap that has gone down in the last few years I would probably shoot myself before I finished writing it. But I am focusing on my progress not my history. I have lost almost 90 pounds and went from a wheezing-fat-old-guy to a slimmer, fitter runner who can knock out a 6 mile run in less than an hour.

How does one live with cancer? You live life on purpose.

You plan to do things you were putting off, and put off things you were planning. You say I love you more and get a second goodbye kiss. You look up friends you haven't seen in a while. You shut out the people that minimize your feelings by saying, "It's early, at least you won't die.", "My dad had that and he was fine." or "My uncle had that an he died." When surgery has the potential to reduce your quality of life instead of make it better, it's not an easy option to choose.

As surgery number - WTFE - is coming in a few weeks, I am not thrilled. Not even close. It's not like my knee surgery or heart surgery which made my life better. It could be life-changing.

It's not the same.

As a runner I have overcome a lot. Most of it was mental. I just didn't think I could do anything. I even had medication and doctors opinions to bolster my excuses. I found a hundred reasons to quit, and only one to help me succeed: a better life. How I feel at the end of a run is the only reward I have. It's not the bling, the cheering, the personal accomplishments, no it's how I feel.

I remember back when a 5K was about as daunting a run as I ever thought I could face. I ran it. a few  weeks I am running the Boston 5K as part of the marathon weekend.
I really can't wait!

For today, I am watching the calories, flossing my teeth, engaging my family, working, praying and living in the moment. Tomorrow may never come, and I don't know if I've "got this". I don't know if I will win against the Big-C or not. I just know that I am looking forward to hugging my kid, catching a little sunshine, making a co-worker smile, and letting the things of God swirl around in my spirit.

In the meantime, I have signed up for a a couple of 5Ks, a 10K a 10-miler and the Berlin Marathon in September. I plan on being there.
Thanks for the votes and comments.  And thanks for your support.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

2012 was the best of times and the worst of times. My worst days as a congestive heart failure survivor were behind me. My best days of health in decades were upon me. I was back to work full-time after 8 months of slow recovery.

I felt better than I had in so long, I couldn't remember.

To celebrate the first anniversary of my exit from ICU, I chose to work towards running a 5K. It was hard work. At 244 I was still overweight and hadn't done any real aerobic exercise since I was a kid. Quitting smoking in 1994 was probably the best choice I had made since dumping off Psycho Susie in high school.

My numbers were good, my weight was going down, and all my moving parts worked or had been repaired.

I had knee surgery 4 months prior and it was working quite well. I measured off a 5K run starting at my front door. There was that glorious day when I ran my first non-stop mile.

Not long after, that day, it was followed by 2 miles without walking. I did that on the treadmill. I trained 2 days a week at the work place gym and did my longer run near my home.

I was becoming a runner!

I wrote this 5 years ago: The predawn glimmer of morning peaks around the shades as the clock silently proclaims it is 5:47; it's race day! The slowly churning thoughts begin their own race in my mind. "Is it raining today?" "Did I remember my favorite headphones?" "Which pair of shoes?" "Am I going to run too fast in the beginning and have to walk in the end?" "Will I look like a dork?"

"Oh God, should I really be doing this?" MORE....

That day I made it a goal to run the entire 3.1 miles without walking. Although I had never done that before, I told myself don't give up and run it in under 30 minutes.

I met one goal that day. I finished without walking.

It seemed like life was going my way as I crossed the finish line that day. My family was there cheering me on. I was beating heart disease and finding a healthy outlet for all my fears and worries.

At the end I thanked God. For me, there was little doubt I was out there alone.

I cried. I registered for another race soon after. Since that day I have run 80 timed races, 7 of those marathons, and of those, 3 were world majors. THE DETAILS... Some of my favorite running was across New Hampshire, then Massachusetts (59.45 miles)and then Rhode Island (27.9 miles) to raise money for charity.

I love charity work! So far I have raised about $60,000 dollars.

I don't really have much else to say today. I've been battling cancer, job loss and all the sort of stuff that goes with being unemployed for six months. If I give up, disease wins. That is not okay with me.

Today I am just going to take it as it comes. I'll get my run this evening and eat simple meals. I will pray and do things to take care of me.

Now if the dang Boston Bruins would make the playoffs, it would be a good season.

Thanks for the votes and comments! Those allways make me smile.

See You at the Funeral - Lifestyle Choices

Having been on MFP for a long time, I have pretty much heard it all. You have your vegans and vegetarians, your pescatarians, your ketogenics (sounds like a band name), your carnivores, and your fast food junkies here. All people here for a common goal; to take photos in the bathroom and get fit. (CAUTION: Be sure to put away all vibrators, condoms and female products when taking bathroom pics.)

If you are here to diet for your special occasion, you are missing the point!

It's a lifestyle. Unless you planning to die on your wedding day, or by the pool in a bikin, or 40th birthday or your cruise, I am assuming your life will have some purpose after your special day has past. The formula for a healthy lifestyle is more than what you shove in your face, although that is the major part.

For me fitness is a healthy weight, aerobic capacity, strength, a nontoxic diet, good blood work and an emotional sense of wellbeing with every breath I take.

People come and go on here all the time, but for those who tame their junk food consumption, exercise regularly, log their food and don't give up, they enjoy the benefits of being healthy and getting comments about being sexy in the forums.

Over the years I have deleted thousands of friends.

I have a friend (Annabellj) that often says, "See you at the funeral!" I can't tell you how tempted I am to post that phrase as a response to some of the forum replies and topics. Here are some examples of posts I would like to reply  "See you at the funeral!":

- I run so I can eat whatever I want.
- 1,200 steps a day is hard work. (I thought that was calories!) 
- I have a cheat meal once a day.
- I am cheating with my best friend's spouse.
- I don't like fruit or vegetables and fish is gross.
- I can't swallow water.
- My SO makes me eat pizza against my will when (s)he's not at home.
- I can't afford to eat healthy, what should I buy at Olive Garden?
- Which burns more calories, sitting in front of the TV or going to the movies?
- Why would I want to sweat, I can lose without exercising.
- I am on an 800-calorie-a-day diet that works.
- I am back... but starting tomorrow.
- I am 1200 calories over and I haven't even gotten out of bed yet.
- People at the gym will think I am fat, what should I do?
- Seeking professional advice. (You'll get it in a minute.)
- I hate anyone that doesn't like my diary.
- I can't beleive the gym charges me when I am not there!
- I just had diarrhea after cleansing...

Look, it's easy to make excuses, and we all have bad days, however; the ones who succeed stick around long enough to meet their goals and make it a way of life.

So how has your lifestyle changed since joining MFP?
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