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Advice to My Younger Self

When I came to MFP, I wanted to lose weight. When I had congestive heart failure (despite a few months of hard work), I wanted to be fit and run 5Ks. If you have read my blog at all, you know that I got cancer.

Disease changed my view of healthy and of fit.

If you haven't been sick, you don't know what it's like to get bad health news. The stages of grief start with shock, proceed to denial, and progress through anger, bargaining and depression.

And then there is the bargaining with God.

He and I are buddies, so it was a lot more about self-reflection. It wasn't really anyone else's fault (besides my parents who gave me bad genes and dressed me funny in grade school.)

I had to blame myself.

I was the one who smoked for a long time. I was the one who sat in a desk chair and rarely got up. I was the one who took every bite of food which made me obese. Sure, it snuck up on me in my 40s and tried to kill me in my 50s.

I had to stop making excuses and start a plan of action.

I am creature of habit, so I had to make some strict rules. Yes, I eased into the better eating over a few months. Well, until I ended up in the ICU. I had no idea what was actually good for me. I didn't know about Superfoods or the healthy crap that wasn't healthy. I was hoping for a quick fix and a fad diet.

Counting calories worked.

Today, I have a lot to be grateful for. I am also facing some big changes. Ruth and I have to move. Facing the end of our lease with no renewal was a shock. I still don't have cancer test results from last week. The work/life balance has been hard for us. We are looking at options.

For today, I just want be as healthy as I can.

I am pretty fit, could stand re-lose 10 pounds, and get faster for my marathon. If I had life to do over, I would have taken better care of myself.

The good news is that I feel pretty good, I am no longer depressed, and well, everything still works as intended.

I Am Never Eating Again

Many years ago a girl I was friends with in college, got sick. The doctor decided to run some standard blood tests on her. I have no idea what they were for. I'm guessing she had low standards. She also didn’t have a car, so I told her I could drive her to the lab.

I had ulterior motives.

I was hoping she would toss me a few bucks for gas and I could get a 6-pack to drink at band rehearsal that evening. As it turns out, she was terrified of needles. The phlebotomist apparently took her damn sweet time finding a vein. My friend fainted. The nurse asked me to come and wait for her to come to.

All this for a couple of bucks, I muttered to myself.

When she came out of it, she was sick to her stomach. They scooped her up and got her into the bathroom. I don’t know what happened in there, but she was pretty sick. Water was coming out from under the door. I guess she put paper towels in the toilet and flushed it.

For some reason, the staff, now busy with other patients, designated me to take care of her.

I just wanted beer and gas money. I eventually dropped her back at the girl’s dorm and drove home on fumes and went beer-less to band rehearsal.

I made the mistake of teasing her about it. We haven’t spoken since.

Why am I telling you this? Just keep reading. Yesterday I was in the hospital for an endorectal MRI (to see if my cancer has spread). If that makes your sphincter pucker, it should. Basically, it is a colonoscopy in an MRI tube.

For an hour!

I didn’t have a driver, so I couldn’t be sedated. That was my first mistake. The nurses get you changed into a Johnny which is probably named after one of my relatives. Fleet enema - I wanted to read the label and see which fleet is was named after. Then you get a shot of glucogen to shut off your bowels. Sort of like drinking coffee and taking qualudes at the same time. Then there is the i-n-s-e-r-t-i-o-n with lots of lubricant.

I don’t know about you, but I think it is a little unnatural.

Despite having a little anxiety, I was doing OK. I lay on my back while they clamped on the girdle to keep my man parts still. I was still doing OK. Then had one arm over my head, and one jammed against the side of the tube. Then they slid me all the way in.

If you have ever almost died, this is not the tunnel.

I have done it four times before, and as much as I didn’t like it then, I am used to it. Besides I had my new little friend in there. I had closed my eyes for the slide in. When I opened them - well I will be damned, the clay colored plastic is right there. I don’t know why this bothers me. I cover my head with the sheets to block the light on a sleep in Saturday. I love that.

This not so much.

I took a deep breath. And danged if I don’t have a freaking itch underneath the girdle that needs scratching now, not in an hour! In fact, I have one on my nose, too! I will say, I do feel safe with the emergency squeeze thingy in my left hand.

I got instructions from the radiologist.

"Don’t move." "It’s going to be noisy." "Sorry, no headphones or classic rock." "Don't move."

"Not a problem, you have me in a vise-grip." I said. I began to wonder where the microphone was. Then I thought, this is like sleeping. No. It. Is. Not. My inner voice said. I thought about being intimate with my wife - oh right, I am not supposed to move. Then I thought about being trapped for days in a building during an earthquake. (The last two thoughts are not related.) Then I thought, what if you were trapped and they find you - after you messed your pants - on TV? I am never eating again.

I breathed as normally as I could.

I thought about my friend who always falls asleep in the tube. Eff him. He's not my friend anymore. For 30 minutes the tube played it buzzing and clunking tune. I was just thinking I would make it, and my left arm fell asleep. I couldn't move it. I started fidgeting with my fingers.

I called them in and the put both arms over my head like a high diver.

I was more than half way through. Then they hit the IV pump to inject me with imaging dye. I imagined my veins filling in with concrete and my heart stopping. Buzz. Click. Click. Clunk. Went the machine. And then it happened. The karma bus came screeching into the tube! I was nauseous and in a sleight panic, squeezed the emergency alert grip.

They came in to save me.

"Are you OK, sir?" They rolled me on my side. I guess I had an allergic reaction to the dye. Something they had asked me on my pre-flight questionnaire. I am going to answer yes, next time. Sir,"are you ok?"

"Don't put paper towels in the toilet," I said.

2530 Days - What Changed?

I don't know what your plans were when you started using MFP. Mine were to lose weight, look good, eat chocolate, and run fast. After a while, that changed to find a sexy mate (and I did!).

It has been quite a journey in life.

My first year here I was recovering from congestive heart failure. It pretty much cost me everything. Despite the fear of death, financial hardship, and stress on personal relationships, I lost about 60 pounds.

I started running.

In year two I made a lot of mistakes. I injured my knee running and my shoulder doing Crossfit. Two surgeries later, I still kept losing, running (eff CrossFit), and learning about food.

Food portions (scale) and switching to Superfoods changed a lot for me.

From nearly 300 pounds, my weight fell to 197.3. I felt good. The more I ran, the bigger my legs got and my weight went up. Not a big deal, my waist went down and stayed down. My MFP friends remember me losing my pants in airport security, and cheering me on in my first 5K.

You cheered me on for my first 10K, and half marathon, too!

A few weeks before my first full marathon - just 938 days after my admission to the Framingham Heart Center, I was diagnosed with cancer. It scared me. I didn't feel ill, so it didn't really affect my running.

I ran the Cape Cod Marathon. I wrote a book. It's on Amazon.

Since then I have run 90 races; Ten were full marathons, five of those were world major marathons. I didn't know this until yesterday. There are only 3,800 runners in the world who have completed all 6 majors.

I am betting on Tokyo for 2019 to claim my 6-Star Abbott World Majors medal.

For me it's the Stanley Cup, the Super bowl, the World Series, and the Masters all at the same time. The old fat guy changed his lifestyle. Really, I changed my exercise and eating habits. I still weigh in once a week, pack my food in portion control tubs for work, make a weekly menu and shopping list, cook and prepare most of my meals, and get 30+ minutes of running in 5 or 6 days a week.

My old lifestyle put me close to death at 53.

I chose to live. I chose this community for support. I am grateful. Thank you.

Fitness and Running Related Run Ins

Making fitness friends is pretty important to living a fit life. I am pretty close with a few guys and gals I have met on MFP.
 
I am pretty selective, they had food. 

I have run marathons with two of my MFP friends and even stayed at others houses. If you hang around here, you'll meet some pretty great folks.

They are essential to success in this journey.

My close friend Tim (who I met at a local trail run) and I signed up for a Christmas 5K in Worcester, Massachusetts called the Jingle Run. We arrived early, parked, and went to the little expo to get our bibs. We then grabbed a coffee as we waited inside for the race to begin out in the cool cool rain (Who reference not by accident).

It was a pretty good day for a fast run.

As we were talking, a young gal name Dani came over and asked if I was David Johndrow. (This is not always something I like to admit in public). “I am.” I replied.

I don't really have fame, and you don't want to know why my name was in the newspaper.

She turned to another woman she was with. “Hey Sandy, it really is him.” She turned back towards me and said, “She’s starstruck.”

Sandy made her way over. She told me how she had viewed my Kickstarter video for my first book. She had kind of a strange smirk. I am not all that socially adept, however, I decided it was probably good if she was starstruck.

“How did you hear about my book?” I inquired.

“Someone posted a link to the YouTube video in a Facebook running group,” Sandy replied.

“Oh yes, I have some shills in a couple of groups,” I replied.

“You were pretty funny.” She said.

I smiled. Then it dawned on me; Sandy had asked a question of the Facebook group the day before. What do the woman do for leaks when they run. She had posted: “I have had a couple of kids, and I leak when I run.” After I realized she was the one who had written that thread, I couldn’t even look at her. All I could think of was that I hope I don’t have to run behind her in a few minutes. It’s one of the few races that I beat her in. I mean she was still smoking cigarettes back then.

Sandy, Tim, and I became sole mates. We’ve met up at a number of races over the past few years. We have done training runs and met at some big city marathons.

Make some friends. Your journey will get easier.

Experiencing the Treadmill

One cold afternoon as the wind drifted the snow outside, three dozen of us lined up on our treadmills beneath four large flat screen TVs. It was like a scene out of Clockwork Orange. As the miles wore on, Ellen, Olivia from Law and Order, Pat Summerall, and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer lip-synched to “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath in my headphones. I was enjoying my back row view as I thought about finally graduating from the C25K program. I was a little bit proud of myself as I ran along at 6.2 miles per hour.

I dreamed of one day pushing it to the maximum of twelve!

The tread hummed along circulating on unseen rollers beneath my feet. As the music played, I tried my best to discreetly pass a little gas and headed to the two-mile mark. With so many people in that small space, who would know from whence it might have come? A woman came and took the treadmill next to mine. She fiddled with her water bottle and car keys. From the corner of my eye, I saw her pushing every button but the green one to start the machine. Gym rules are strange, they don’t allow talking, especially to members with headphones on, of which I was one. Then she started to bang on the control panel loudly enough where I could tell she was becoming frustrated. Because of the no talking rule, I pretended not to notice. Furiously pushing buttons and banging on the machine, but not one of the sheeple came to her aid. Finally, I realized that it was my mission in life to hit the quick start button for her. Popping out my right headphone, I asked, “Do you need some help?”

“Do I look like I know what I am doing?” she snapped.

Oh my God, this is a trick question for which there is no right answer. Instead of talking, I reached over and pushed the green button. At that very moment I stepped on the side rail of my treadmill, my headphone cord wrapped itself around the handrail. Off the end of the spinning deck, I went at 6.2 miles per hour, my body slamming the wall behind me. My glasses flew onto the belt, firing them back at mach ten (a mere 7672.69 miles per hour), impaling my left shoulder. The woman turned to see what happened as I was writing on the floor in pain. As she turned, she too lost her footing. Like the game “Mousetrap”, her stupid water bottle came crashing down, dislodging the cover and creating a momentary lawn sprinkler as the tread continued to spin.

The runner on the other side of me calmly switched off both treadmills, grabbing her soggy People magazine, she left in a huff.

I too decided that it was best to leave. As the silent TVs flashed above the scene like the many marquises of Times Square at night, I put my headphone back in to make sure no one talked to me and slipped out the back exit.

A few paragraphs from my new book.

The Vacation Weight Loss Plan Trick

Well, I stepped on to the scale expecting to use some of my best French, and boom, down over a pound! I don't know what that is in the UK, a stone -  a couple of rocks - whatever.

Not too shabby after being on a two-week-food-filled cruise in the Mediterranean.

So how did I do this magic trick? Well, magicians usually don't give up their secrets, but today I will break that rule.

Watch carefully.

In case you missed it, here is how I did it. 
- We only had three meals a day. It's easy to hit the canteen/buffet and get two burgers with fries and a beer. Seconds and thirds are no problem. It was open all the my waking hours. That's a lot of food.
- We only took one plate at the buffet. It was a mix of protein and veggies. I still only had one slice of bacon pizza. That was painful!
- I ate breakfast with one or two eggs, some breakfast meat (love rashers!), beans, and sometimes fruit. I went easy on the French pastries and bread - well, not in Marseille. OMG!
- On most days we were out touring on shore excursions. Lunch was light or we just had some snacks we grabbed at the buffet. I did have a chocolate croissant in Valencia. Otherwise we came back and had a light lunch on a small salad plate.
- We drank espresso in those little sample cups. Cute.
- I faked an Italian accent using my Portuguese to talk to shop clerks. Sort of like sleight of hand.
- For dinner we just ate the three-course meal. I had a non-alcoholic beer and my wife a glass of wine. Yes there was desert. I ate that too. All the portions were pretty small. I did have seconds of the lamb. My bread consumption was a small piece of fresh baked focaccia with real Italian olive oil!
- I ran on deck four times in 10 days. Usually 3 to 6 miles. Ruth and I had a wonderful run with Jo at her weekly Park Run near London. In Palma de Mallorca, Spain we ran 10K along the path next to the boat docks to the cathedral in town. Glorious!
- I smiled at the smokers on my deck runs.
- We walked a lot! Most of our excursions (11 in all) were about 10,000 steps. That is at least a piece of bread and a bottle of Buckler. I don't know what Romans do in Rome, but we walked 20,000 steps. It was my favorite city.
- I found a well engaged couple on the main deck one night.
- I ran the London Marathon. That was 52,000 steps.
- I relaxed, sat in the hot tub and did a little reading and some social media.

My total steps for my two week vacation were 200,000. My food consumption was pretty much what I would do at home.

And that's the trick.

Oh, for those of you who supported my London Run, thank you!
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