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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?

My Updated Bucket List

Many of you know that I have been diagnosed with a malignant tumor. Of course, untreated, it's deadly. As it turns out, I have run 80 races including 7 marathons; 3 or which were world major marathons. I did almost all of that since I received the news. I have had a number of surgeries to remove 3 other forms of malignancies.

I am not saying that you should get cancer to run your best, but it's working for me.

I won't have any more details until my next biopsy in about a month. That's when I will find out how bad it is, and what, if anything, we are going to do about it.

Not all cancer is fast growing.

It's been a long process of blood tests, medication that made me feel like crap, and surgical biopsies which are pretty gory and downright painful. Waiting for the results is always nerve wracking. I keep busy enjoying life, running, praying and being a smartass.

I do have good news.

I am running the Berlin Marathon in September even if someone has to push me in a wheelchair. I have booked a flight, a hotel, and paid the registration fee.

It will be my 4th World Major.

All this talk of the Big "C" has made me think about what it is that I really want to do before I die. Here is my list. It is just things that interest me or pertain to people I care about. It's entirely selfish, that's why it's my bucket list.

- Run Tokyo and London marathons to complete the World Majors.
- Run a race is all 50 states
- Run a marathon on every continent. 
- Get my kid a horse and someone to take care of it.
- Make the most of every day with those I love
- Stay under 200 pounds.
- Travel
- Leave instructions for how I want my life insurance spent. ;)
- Die with clean underwear on.

That's it. I have pretty much done it all. I have been to 42 states, 14 countries, put kids through college, run a marathon, and I don't regret too many days from the last 5 years.

Thanks for the votes and comments. (You can do both if you like.)
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