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Reorganizing Life after 57 Years

I denied that I was an emotional eater. Then there was the 6-pack of mini-cupcakes for my birthday sitting on the kitchen table. The good news is that my daughter ate 4 of them. It wasn't a really big calorie hit. What bothered me is that I know I would have eaten the entire box if there were any left.

If you are saying to yourself, "This isn't that big a deal.", "It's your birthday.", or "You deserve a treat once in a while." you might be in denial too. :)

If you are like me, you just want to be thin and eat whatever you want.

I think about looking better. I still see myself as a 29-year-old. I do. I honestly didn't care about being fit, I just didn't want to be fat. Oh, and I didn't want to have rogue body hair growing faster than mold on white bread in July.

Yes, I am proud of my 48 beats per minute heart rate. But ripped abs are much more appealing.

This morning I was thinking about why food is so important - why I need more than enough. I certainly can look to a long list of Major Life Transitions. It just doesn't make sense to me how a donut is going to make anything better.

Truth: For the moment, it seems to.

I have survived a lot in life. Here are a few tips for not being overwhelmed and going on a food bender. Daily, here is my reorganization plan.

- Laugh: Watch a funny movie, AFV or record late night.
- Knock out the daily tasks: Open the mail or toss it. Hey, they always send more bills. Dishes. This one helps me feel in control of life.
- Call the kids and even if they don't answer, leave a message.
- Make a menu plan: Food is a killer in high-stress times. I don't have anything that is not good for me in the house. I buy food an divide it up into portions.
- Plan a fun activity everyday: This one is essential. I run, have sushi with a coworker, watch a movie or take a walk with my daughter, go to the shooting range or ride my motorcycle. I schedule 1 hour a day for fun; more on the weekends!
- Forget the future: I had to stop worrying about doctors appointments, test results, calls from the attorney about my divorce and whether I was going to die from cancer. I am saving the max for my retirement and spending the rest. I plan races and vacations and set my bill pay to automatic.
- Pray: I don't pray like I used to. Back then I always needed something. Now I just enjoy the communion and that gives me peace. I don't feel forgotten, nor do I feel desperate.
- Relax: I am at a point in life where I don't need more to do. I take an hour to do pretty much nothing each day.

As a Matter of Fact, it is a Big Deal

Who the hell gets up at 5:30 AM to finish moving into their apartment, and then drives 2 hours to get to a hotel by 9 PM, so they can sleep until 4:45 AM?

I did!

Sunday August 16 was the Falmouth Road Race (Cape Cod, Massachusetts).  I am sure most of you have heard of the Boston, Chicago or London Marathons, but only the Cape Cod locals and the in runner crowd know about Falmouth.

Why is it a big deal, and what does it have to do with being fit? What, you are just here for weight loss? I came here to lose weight and look like I did when I graduated high school. Running a big part of fitness for me.

Falmouth is a big deal!

It has close to 15,000 runners. They bring in some of the most elite short distance runners in the world. What started as a fun summer beer run 40-something years ago, the trek from Woods Hole to Falmouth Heights has become a legend. It is not easy to get in. I heard they turned away 6,000 in one day by way of a lottery. Why anyone would want to run in the height of the hazy, hot and humid New England summer (90+ degrees and 90% humidity), is a mystery.

At 7.05 miles, it's not even a standard running distance! It’s a 10K plus a mile.

Since I came to MFP in 2011, I became a runner. My ancient 55-minute mile has been eclipsed by a much more recent 6:15 mile. I work hard at running. I think I have given it more effort that probably anything I have ever done.

Surviving congestive heart failure makes it very personal.

In fact, Falmouth means much more to me than the perceived cult following amongst runners. I lived on Cape Cod for 21 years and cursed the traffic on Road Race Sunday! Cape Cod is where my heart lives.

Even more personal is my struggle with cancer.

For almost 2 years, I have been living with a couple of small tumors. I also had 4 skin cancer surgeries for melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, as well as a colon tumor removed.

I am tired of cancer. Running is my way of fighting back.

I just want to stay fit and live many long years running and eating avocados and Greek yogurt. I don't want to be sick. I don't want to have cancer. I don't want to feel like I am being tailgated by a huge truck on a mountain road.

I am going to take some time off from work to manage all this. Being fit is not just for our bodies, but for our mind and spirit. I thank God for running, it has changed my life.

Absolutely Pathetic

I don't know about you, but I didn't get here because I was a genius. I was about 100 pounds overweight, my joints hurt but my mouth worked pretty well. And my calorie absorber was very high-functioning.

I was unfit.

After a week in ICU, I had a lot of time to look at my pathetic little life and my huge body. I both needed to be dedicated and learn what I needed to know, or stop taking my 6 heart meds and let it end in a food coma.

Some of you may have read my book ICU to Marathon - Diaries of a nearly Dead Man. The rest of the story is in there.

I have been doing this journey for going on 5 years. In the process, I decided to run. I could have taken up biking or pole dancing. But I got moving, took control of my diet, my portions and my food choices.

It's working. I am down in One-derland and have been for a while.

I have come to embrace running because I can't find much else I like to do. Eating, sex and sitting around watching TV or working at the computer are not quite enough of a calorie burn.

So I run.

I bought a bike and it has 50 miles on it. The oncologist asked me not to ride for a few months to see if it is exacerbating my symptoms. :(

So I run.

I am not the only guy to run with cancer. It's one of the ways I cope with the uncertainty of life. Another is to write. I get to say what's really going on. I am working on my next book. It was supposed to be about running, but it's turning out (like the last one) to be a story of survival.

I run, so far I have survived.

Here is what my friend David Salvas had to say about my new book: The Pathetic Runner - A guide to the universe.

You will so enjoy the writing of David Johndrow.  His first book, ICU to Marathon was funny (thanks to stealing some of my jokes), serious and informative; this book continues his running and health journey. The Pathetic Runner Guide is reader friendly (because David writes at a 3rd-grade level – probably way more credit than is due) and it’s upbeat besides informative, whether you are a seasoned runner or virgin.

 I first met David as I was doing a Run Across NH raising money for Team in Training and I was looking for assistance from other runners. We ran a couple of legs together and became fast friends (not fast as in running).  The next thing I know he is asking me to join him in his Run Across Massachusetts to raise money for Hope for Young Adults with Cancer.

We both did our runs to help eliminate cancer and we will continue our fight as long as we are able.

While David has been through hell and back, he continues to have a positive attitude! He has had cardiac problems; which started his running journey not long ago.  As he continued his fight against all forms of cancer in young adults, he found out he had cancer, not one type but four. But none of this has stopped him or his sense of humor in difficult times.

In 2014, Johndrow started a website and Facebook group which currently has thousands of members. It’s called “The Pathetic Runners Group”. Members support and assist each other, give a lot of unsolicited advice and the discussion is aided by more experienced runners, like David and his close community of running friends.

Enjoy the writings of a runner, a cancer and cardiac survivor, a father, and a person who won’t let life get him down.

I am proud to call David a friend – embarrassed a little, but proud.

Look for it this fall.

Thanks for all your support.

See the Turtle Run

I run slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter! This shirt always made me laugh. I was a real slow poke when I started running. Things have changed! My walking miles are faster now than my running miles were in the beginning.

Recently I began thinking about identifying with a turtle.

I have written about lots of topics over the years. This one bothers me a little. It's about POTENTIAL. Oh God forgive me. It's not because I am an average runner, but because, for some, being a turtle is an excuse. Ouch!

What if calling yourself a turtle kept you from your full potential?

What if our attitude about ourselves was a self-imposed limitation? It can be. When I was a teenager, I practiced long after dark shooting pucks, ice skating and stick handling. I never made the pros. Hell, I was lucky to make the varsity hockey team.

My brother was scouted for an NHL team. He left the pond at sunset.

I certainly understand that most of us won't become world-class athletes. Those are the limitations of genetics and age. For the same reason we struggle with weight and fitness, our bodies just can't do some things very well.

Ask yourself: What if I could do better?

Last year I ran a race with a friend. This runner was a back-of-the-pack-er. Doing a mix of running and walking we made it to finish line of a half marathon. My friend was also a self-proclaimed turtle.

Let me be frank about this. In the first mile the complaining started about the hills, the weather and how hard it was to breathe. As the race went on, I heard a lot of turtle talk; not just from my friend, but other runners in the back of the pack.

It was a cesspool of negativity.

Every runner knows that a training run should allow you to carry on a light conversation while running. In a race, you should be hard pressed to spit out a single word. :)

Negative self-talk will produce very little positive.

It can be about your speed, your looks, your weight loss, your job, your relationships or anything else.

A changed attitude is a changed life!

My friend has since worked on his form, his breathing and a few other things. His half marathon times have gotten faster and faster. Thirty minutes faster!

If you have read this far, I want you know that I am not down on slow runners.  Some of us just are. Some of us run just for the fun of it and don't care about times, pace or speed. I want you to be proud of your accomplishments. I want you to be encouraged to do better.

I have one question: When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see an elephant, a turtle, or have you learned to see your potential?

Go run and have fun. And push yourself a little.
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