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Set Backs are Never the End

Have you ever felt defeated on this journey? The scale talking back, your favorite pants popped a button and took out a migrating sparrow, or worse, you have an injury and can't exercise!? Most of that has happened to me.

I started my fitness journey at just under 300 pounds. When I finally joined MFP I was 267.

My lowest was 197.2 and since then I gained some back. My lowest in the last yeas was 209. I have a few pairs of pants that don't fit like they should. I was down to 32" in the waist and now it's 34". I keep telling myself I should accept this, but I can't.

I need to require more of myself.

Sure I have dealt with a lot since I got to MFP. Hell, I started by having congestive heart failure; then I was diagnosed with cancer, not once, but four times! Some of it was removed and came back. I lost a couple of jobs due to layoffs and MFP folks helped me find new ones. And then there was the divorce. None if this is an excuse.

I still want to be healthy, fit, and under 200 pounds.

Every one knows I like running - I am the quintessential pathetic runner. If you search for "pathetic runner" on Google or Facebook, I will be there. Since I joined MFP I have run 87 races. Eight of those were full marathons, sixteen were half marathons, and the rest were shorter. I also ran across three states including: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and half of New Hampshire.

Running makes me feel good and is a way for me to raise money for health related charities.

This past weekend I ran the Ashaland (MA) Half Marathon. Holy hills! If you are from the Midwest it's pretty unlikely that you've experienced hills like this. They just kept coming. There were six major peaks and a bajillion little ones.

Oh yeah, I am feeling all bad@$$ after that run.

I was also nursing a very sore left knee and the outside of my right foot gets my attention with the slightest amount of pressure. I really pushed myself. There were a couple of guys I have run with before. I caught up to them about mile 10.

Why not beat them, I thought?

Well, I pushed really hard. My average 10:30 mile pace dropped to 9:00 over the next few miles. I easily passed them on one of the last downhill sections. One of them passed me on the final uphill. We crossed the finish line with me in the middle.

That's when the pain started. 

I feared that I had a torn meniscus, but I am happy to report, my knee is feeling pretty good this morning. It's a little stiff, but doing its job perfectly. My foot is another story. I did a little research and who knows, maybe it's a stress fracture. I have had them before. I am mad because I have been injury free for over three years. 

I learned a few things during this race. It was my first half marathon in over a year.

-1 I can do this running thing despite life circumstances.
-2 I am not in as good a shape as I could be. Ending a race injured is a sign of poor training.
-3 I need to lose some of this weight for my joints sake and my speed.

I do have some good things going on. Like a wedding to attend, a job, health insurance, and people who love me.

Now if I can just make friends with the damn scale, life would be perfect!

It's time to focus on my health. I am registered as a charity runner for the London Marathon. I am committed to raising money, and I am already at 35% of my goal. Now I need to train well to do well. I realize that for a fat old guy finishing is a win, but I want more.

No sparrows were harmed in the writing of this blog.

10 Things Which Really Helped Me Get Fit

After years on MFP, I have figured out a few things about weight loss, fitness, and running. Most of it I didn't learn in the forums. ;)

The most important is this, weight loss and fitness is fragile!

Gaining control of your health is a real gift. Since day one I have learned how to run (rather pathetically), received a few medals (None for being a smartass, but thank you for thinking that!), and ran a marathon or two. I have met a few of the MFP clan in real life. There are some nice folks here.

I have also learned a few of you reach your goal weight, but sadly, many more don't make it.

The last few years have been pretty rough. Despite all my hard work on my health and fitness, I have had 17 surgeries of varying degrees. I am minus three small colon tumors and down four patches of melanoma. My heart valve continues to open and close. The prostate tumor, however, remains. It's like an old friend.

We have done eight marathons together; four of those world majors.

Last Friday I got my blood tests back. My PSA is up to 7.1. Although it's not a great indicator of cancerous activity, it has agreed with my biopsies over the past 4 years. I will have to retest and I am scheduling another damn biopsy.

I hate cancer.

My bucket list is to run the six Abbott World Major Marathons. I have completed four and I am signed up as a charity runner for London in April 2018. You can track my efforts HERE.

So how fragile is this thing we call fitness but really mean getting thinner?

I had gained back almost 15 pounds in the last year! That is almost 25% of my total weight loss! One would think, with all that I have learned, that I would have cut back the calories when I am exercising less. Nope. No. Can. Do. I am happy to be back down 6 pounds.

So what are my secrets to success despite all that is going on?

-1 I weigh myself every week. My clothes measure me everyday.
-2 I measure my food portions and for the few food items I buy with a label, I read that too.
-3 I buy new underwear when I need it. It's my secret pleasure.
-4 I make time to sleep 8 hours. That isn't always easy.
-5 I take a few supplements that seem to work.
-6 I run 5 days a week no matter what.
-7 I walk 3-4 miles a day plus I use the 4 floors of stairs in my building often - about 20 floors a day.
-8 I stick to superfoods as often as I can. Fruit, veggies, nuts and spices are on that list.
-9 I don't eat sweet drinks or food (with or without real sugar) except an occasional piece of birthday cake.
-10 I don't eat fast food, pizza, white flour, rice, white potatoes or tofu 363 days a year. Tofu is 365!
-11 I am a vegetarian who happens to eat beef, lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, and fish in small quantities.
-12 I don't have junk food in the house or I will eat it.
-13 As much as I would like to, I don't smoke crack.

I know, that's more than 10. The same thing seems to happen with food.
 
Thanks for your votes and comments. Your support is amazing. 

Weight Loss, Running and Cancer

Last week was a tough one. I was dreading my Friday oncology appointment, trying to find ways to not eat everything in the dang house, and be nice to the people in my path.

Yeah, I was on edge.

I hate living from one appointment to the next. 6 months ago I had a biopsy. The doctor and I had a talk about my slowly progressing cancer. He and I both know it ends in life-changing surgery. The good news is, I haven't had that surgery! The bad news is, I still have the cancer.

"It's more worrisome." he said. That is all I remember.

I informed him that I wasn't going to miss running the Berlin Marathon. In April he scheduled last Friday's appointment - hardly 2 weeks after running Berlin. I also had two small colon tumors removed in August along with a few polyps. I wish this potential surgery was that easy.

I admit I was pretty nervous - I really didn't want to make any big decisions.

I just kept focusing on running the Berlin Marathon and living life a day at a time. I guess it's a form of denial. Whatever - I had it until about 24 hours before I was supposed to go to his office. Then it hit me. The next morning I got dressed, put on my lucky underwear, and got in the car. I don't really know what I was thinking except for my answer to his request - if he asked.

I can't make that decision now. That was going to be my answer.

I had my regular exam (I was number one with the Nurse Practitioner). She went over the five previous biopsies of my man parts in detail. She talked to me about the progression. Slow, but "worrisome." I don't like those words. I don't like fingers in my .... or the smell of surgical gloves.

I don't like it all.

Then the doctor came in. We shook hands. He asked how Berlin went. Last time it seemed like he wanted me to consider surgery. I wasn't sure what he would say this day.

"I have a few questions for you." I said.

"Of course. What are they?"

"I have been doing some reading and it looks like there is a 5 in 6 chance I will have serious side effects from surgery. I am having a hard time with that."

We talked about incontinence, ED and rectal bleeding.

He decided to redo the exam earlier exam. I guess they had a two-for-one special that day. "I don't feel anything that I am concerned about." He said. "How about you come back in 6 months and we'll do another biopsy."

As much as I HATE those biopsies, they suck for a few days, not a lifetime.

"I can't come back in six months, how about seven?" I asked.

"I suppose you have something you need to do?" He said looking at me.

"Yeah, I am signed up to run the London Marathon in April."

"Good luck, and I will see you the week after."

Converting the Heathen

In the beginning of your fitness journey (Come on, we all mean weight loss, who are we fooling.), there is a lot of self-doubt and insecurity surrounding your ability to make this whole thing happen. Two days in you get mugged by a donut in the break room at work and your shopping cart automatically turns down the cookie aisle. Stage 1 is hell.

Then there is Stage 2 where you trip skinny people on the escalator because you are jealous.

If you stick with it until Stage 3, a light goes on. Like the time you walked an hour to earn 320 calories and ate it back with two Girl Scout cookies!

The transformation begins to happen; you start to notice what everyone else is doing wrong when it comes to their food and exercise. New reformers are a pain the butt to those around them. I know I was.

Here is some stuff I would say/do when I was in Stage 3:
- When I saw someone pouring a gallon of Ranch dressing on their diet salad I would say, "I've been to Hidden Valley and they have live stock - umm which poops - I am not sure if that is what those little black specs are."

- When the party next to me at Golden Corral is eating a tray of baby back ribs I would be tempted to say, "Did you know that pork is supposed to be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F? No, it's true."

- When I see someone drinking Diet Coke I would speak up and say, "Did you know if you leave a penny in that stuff overnight it will shine like new in the morning? And if you do it with a couple of quadrillion pennies you could make a shiny dent in the national US national debt."

- I would sit in the drive-thru at McDonalds and scare away business with fake vomit on my car door or put fake cow patties at the entrance to Burger King.

- When I would see someone at the salad bar filling their plate with bacon bits and croutons, I just sneezed in their direction. "You probably should get another plate."

- At Thanksgiving I would drop the gravy and the mashed potatoes on the floor for the dogs. "Sorry folks, just turkey, green beans and creamed onions which no one eats anyway."

- At Christmas I bought everyone new underwear that was one size too small.

- I put vitamins in a Ghirardelli bag and resealed it at Walmart.

- I put celery and carrots in trick-or-treat bags on Halloween.

- On date night I night I pretended the car ran out of gas in front of Whole Foods.

- At the dentist I would wear a fake tooth and talk about chocolate in the waiting room with the other patients.

- Post recipes on Facebook.

Nah, not really - well except for the recipes. I am shy, so you are safe.

So what do you do to convince others to try your way of life?

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

What Do You Want to Be?

When I was a kid my friends wanted to be astronauts, cowboys and doctors. Me, I wanted candy for dinner or to be a superhero. Then I got to high school and I wanted to be a professional hockey player and rock star. I pursued both into college and left the sports behind for smoking pot and drinking beer.

Somewhere in my 20s I realized my limitations; I wasn't going ot make the NHL or play guitar for the next Pink Floyd.

Eventually, my life goals began to include family, church, and business. All that ended abruptly when I had congestive heart failure in 2011. Then I just wanted to be alive - and feel better. At 53-years-old, I remember thinking I had missed my opportunity to be much else in life.

Last week I wrote about my bucket list: To finish the 6 world major marathons.

This week I am faced with the reality of another oncology appointment. Our last two meetings have had me inching closer to surgery whose name begins with the word radical. It's one I am trying to avoid. This meeting could mean a major surgery - or it could mean I can remain on active surveillance for another 6 months.

I never wanted to grow up and have cancer.

Running marathons allows me to fight back. I didn't run any marathons in 2016. I ran five in 2015. Last week I just wanted to run Tokyo and London in 2018 and end my marathon career. Today I am pretty sure I am signing up for another marathon.

My first marathon (who you all read about in my book), was on Cape Cod.

The Cape Cod Marathon is coming up at the end of the month. I guess it could be my last for a while - maybe my last. Who knows. 

As long as I can run, I feel pretty good.

I need to be positive about my life, my health, and my journey. I also need to get out there and keep living. I spent a few hours with my three siblings this past weekend. For various reasons, we haven't all been in the same room since my mother died in 2001.

Life, you get out there and you live it.

I am not really sure where my health is leading me. I do know that losing almost a 100 pounds and running have given me a life I never could have imagined. Emotionally I am healthier, physically, except for the cancer, I am still breaking records and amazing the doctors. Add to that love, faith, and hope, and I am doing just fine.

Running marathons has allowed me to go way past a lot of self-imposed limitations.
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