Friday, January 31, 2014

Are you ready? Tomorrow is the big day!

Tomorrow is the big day, friends. It's the first official Selfie Saturday.

The rules are simple. At some point during the day, whenever you feel so inclined, take a Selfie and post it online. You can post it on Facebook, Instagram, your own blog, wherever. It doesn't matter where you post it, it just matters that you do. And tag it #SelfieSaturday.

Have some fun with this. I can't wait to see all of your happy, smiling selves.

This is a Selfie. And tomorrow, I hope to see you posting your own!


And if you're wondering what sparked this, I was inspired by this short clip about what beauty is. It's a video all about the Selfie and how we see ourselves.

And there it is. We all worry so much about our fat face, our glasses, our hair, our outfits... and on and on. And for what? It makes no sense.

We are beautiful. All of us, just the way we are. And it's about time we start acting like it.

Let's do this, February!

Who has big plans for the next month? This guy. Standby for details of the challenge.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Are You Awesome?

It's a simple question.

"Are you awesome?"

Did you answer "yes" without hesitation or qualification? If so, good. Great, even. Skip the rest of the blog because you won't read anything you don't already know. Enjoy your day.

Now, a few words for the rest of you.

If the word "yes" didn't leap from your lips immediately, I invite you to read further. Because there's something going on here that needs a bit of attention.

Why aren't you awesome?

Is it because you still have all that weight to lose? Because that's nonsense. A healthy body is a good thing, but it doesn't define you as a person and it certainly doesn't define your self-worth.

Is it because you aren't pretty or handsome enough? More nonsense. This is life we're talking about here, not a beauty pageant. And good looks are nice to have but they don't make you an awesome person.

Is it because there's nothing about you that is special or worth celebrating? Absolute bullshit. You may not believe this, but there IS something that you bring to this world that no one else can bring. But the Catch-22 is you have to trust in yourself enough to open up to the world and let everyone discover what that is.

If the only thing holding you back from being your awesome self is your own self-doubt, tell me. Comment here. Email me. Call me. Facebook message me. One way or another, reach out and let me know what is going on. And by the time we're done talking, you'll get it. You will believe that you are awesome.

But, what if the truth is that you are not awesome?

  • "I'm a mean person to my friends."
  • "I take from my friends but I don't give back."
  • "I gossip about people all the time."
  • "I judge everyone else."
  • "I'm jealous of other people."

Guess what? This is even easier to fix. If you are that person, knock it off. Stop being mean. Start thinking of your friends instead of just yourself. Stop spreading gossip.Quit judging people. And stop being jealous. Whatever lousy behavior you are doing, quit doing it. Just like that. And you'll be surprised at how quickly your friends and family will notice and be grateful.

So, either you are awesome and you don't act like it or you aren't awesome and need to change that. Regardless, the answer is yours to decide.

Get it together, folks. Because this world already has WAY too many people that are just marking time. What it needs is for the rest of us to shine brighter, speak louder, love stronger, and be better.

Once more, I ask this question:

"Are you awesome?"

Monday, January 27, 2014


Did you know that, on average, twenty-two veterans commit suicide every single day? The numbers are as shocking as the deaths are horrifying. We must stop this epidemic.

Twenty-two of you will make the choice today
To make today
The last day.
You've sacrificed so much already
Perhaps it is selfish of me
To ask this of you too
But --
I don't want you to live
In pain
Out of your mind
In anguish
Blinded by dark things
You can't unsee
Deafened by wordless screams
You can't unhear --
But I do want you to live:
To continue to fight
To continue to breathe
To continue to be.
See, I've stayed at your present address
The smells were different
The sounds were different
The furniture was a different style
And the walls
When they were mine
Weren't decorated with the same images as yours are
But it was the same
Stuff as yours.
It brought me to my knees too.
What has made someone like you --
Someone as strong as you --
Huddle in the darkness like I have
Arms wrapped around the nothingness inside
Breath sucked in through clenched teeth
As every scar is redrawn in blood and fire
By memories of ghosts and smoke
I cannot imagine.
But you've sacrificed enough already
Don't do this.
Give us
Give me
One more day
To help make it right.

"Some 8,000 veterans are thought to die by suicide each year, a toll of about 22 per day, according to a 2012 VA study. The VA acknowledged the numbers might be significantly underestimated because they're based on incomplete data ...."
11 November 2013
(c) 2013 Sarah J. Fuhrman

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Day, New Challenge.

Once again, packing my gym bag the night before made all the difference. If I wanted my work clothes, I had to reach in and unpack them, and that would have felt like I was admitting defeat. So I grabbed my bag and headed out the door.

This morning, I challenged myself with something different. Instead of chasing after a speed record, I decided to commit to a full hour of running. The pace didn't matter, other than it had to be something I could maintain for the full sixty minutes of running.

I started at 5 mph, but after only a few seconds, I knew that was going to be too slow. I quickly bumped it up to 5.2 mph and settled into an easy stride. Every half mile, I bumped it up again. And by the last cycle, I was running at 6.3 mph (or a pace of 9:31 per mile).

Here's the numbers:

More than numbers, though, I'm really happy with the overall run. I felt strong and steady the whole way, even in the last mile or so when I was running closer to my normal pace. I had all the right music playing, my posture and positioning were good, and the whole thing felt great.

I have no idea, yet, what I will challenge myself with tomorrow. And sooner or later, I want to work with a running coach and put together a real plan for the whole year. For today, though, i'm going to sit here all happy and proud of myself.

And that's a great feeling!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Everything Counts.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Little things make a difference and every bit helps.

Case in point, me.

Today at noon, I have four out-of-state visitors arriving for a Marine Corps Boot Camp Graduation ceremony. They will be staying at Casa John and Ric through the weekend. Since Ric and I have been entertaining or otherwise busy for weeks, the house still needed to be cleaned from top to bottom. So we did that last night and finally finished at nearly midnight.

As I was cleaning the bedroom and putting away laundry, I decided to pack up my gym bag with today's work clothes. I also laid out my running gear, iPod, and water bottle. I was ready.

This morning, though, when the alarm went off at 6am, I was not ready. I was still exhausted and did not want to get out of bed at all. I definitely didn't want to go running. So, I made myself a deal. I still had to get out of bed, but I would finish cleaning my desk instead of going to the gym.

As I finished cleaning, though, I realized that my work clothes were packed in my gym bag already. That means, in order to put them on, I would have to open my bag and drag everything out. Ignoring the bag was one thing, but unpacking it was admitting defeat. I decided to go to the gym.

But, again, life interfered. I still needed to wash my car and fill it up with gas before my guests could borrow it, and it was already after 7am. What to do, what to do? Simple. I hopped in the car, drove through a quickie car wash, filled the tank up, and sped off to the gym. I wouldn't have time to run a full 5k, but I thought I could still get a couple of miles in.

And that's the whole point of this blog. Do what you can, when you can, and trust that everything counts on your way to health and fitness.

For me, knowing I only had time for two miles motivated me to run faster than I normally would. I managed to knock out two sub-nine minute miles, and that's a speed record for me. I'm normally a 10-minute miler over any distance, so two 8:52 min miles feel great.

I realize as I write this that I am speaking to three very different audiences. People faster than I am think my pace is very slow, people much slower than I am dream of running as fast as I do, and people that share my pace understand the difference in running more than a minute faster each mile.

Ultimately, though, it isn't about what other people think of my pace. It's about me honoring the commitment I made to myself to be active and make healthy decisions. And today, that meant adjusting a bit for life's demands while still taking care of myself.

Everything counts, indeed. Because I ran, I feel great this morning and am already making healthy eating choices. Instead of tossing the whole day away ("missed my run, might as well splurge today and get back on track tomorrow!"), the two miles will also help motivate me to eat well all day... and to get back out there tomorrow.

Oh, and to answer the question on everyone's mind, yes, I am having great post-workout hair today!

Have a great day, friends!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 - The Year of Fitness

I really enjoy having a birthday the second week of January. By then, the insanity of New Year's Resolutions has drifted away, lost like so much confetti and spilled champagne. Promises made in a moment of drunken revelry rarely hold up to the light of day.

But all is not lost. In fact, having some extra time to think about the year past and the year to come is often a very good thing. Instead of wishful resolutions, I'm able to set realistic goals and map out a course of action to achieve them.

Looking back over the last several years, for example, I can see clearly what it was that I accomplished:

2010 - The Year of Losing Weight
My first true efforts to get my ever-increasing weight back under control. And it worked. Pounds came off and I felt like was back in control of my life.

2011 - The Year of Firsts
(Super Spartan, Ragnar, Tough Mudder, Half Marathon, Marathon)
I started running in December 2010, so 2011 was definitely the Year of the Firsts. I moved way out of my comfort zone and said "yes!" when asked about running obstacle races and long distances. And before the end of the year, I would accomplish my favorite "first" of them all, the Marine Corps Marathon.

2012 - The Year of the Half
(14 in 2012, plus two marathons)
Having focused on progressive running distance goals in 2011, I decided to focus on a year-long goal. I wanted to run a dozen half marathons in 2012. In fact, I ran 14... plus two full marathons.

2013 - The Year of the Relay 
(5 Ragnars, 1 Cap to Çoast)
Last year, I ran three full marathons (Carlsbad, Phoenix, and Marine Corps), but I feel like the year itself was all about the Relay Races. Partnering with a team and riding around in a van for 30-something hours makes running more than exercise. It turns it into a 200-mile party. And I love it.

Which brings us to this next year and my plans. Here and now, I'm putting it all out there so that everyone will know. More importantly, everyone can hold me accountable. Without further ado, I give you:

2014 - The Year of Fitness
(renewed focus on full-body strength and overall health)
Yep, it's as simple as it is complicated. But I need to go back to the basics and focus on my overall health and fitness. And that means a whole new look at my weight, my eating habits, my training routine, and what I need to do to bring it all together to reach my 2014 goals.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about how I intend to make 2014 my healthiest year ever. I'l spend some time focusing on nutrition, strength training, distance running, and how to bring them all together. And I'll also be sharing my plans for my 48th birthday in January 2015, because having a goal and sharing it with friends makes it harder to give up on it when times get tough.

Here we go, 2014. Let's do this!

Goodbye 46, Hello 47!

Yesterday was my 47th birthday. As birthdays go, it was pretty damn awesome.

Friday night was a Wine, Chocolate and Cheese Party
Saturday was brunch at Baja Betty's with my January birthday mates!
And Sunday and Monday were crazy fun days at Disneyland with my favorite person.

All and all, I have to say the weekend was a total win. Thank you to all my friends and family who made everything perfect.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Make or Break Moments.

As moments go, they weren't all that significant. They didn't change the world or command attention from the masses. But they mattered to me.

The first moment happened last night about 10:30pm, when I found myself staring at my just-emptied gym bag. It was calling to me, telling me to pack it up for the next day's workout. "Meh," I thought. "I've just run two days in a row, and a good rule to follow is 2 On, 1, Off. So no work out for me."

But in that moment, I knew it was the wrong decision. So I chose to pack my bag for the next day.

The next moment came this morning at 6:10am, when the alarm went off. I thought, "my legs are still sore from the last two days of running, so I should probably take the day off." But I knew that was just an excuse to avoid getting out of bed. I knew I needed to get up. "Besides," I thought, "my work clothes are already in my gym bag, and I'd have to unpack it to get dressed for work. Might as well get up and go to the gym."

So I did. I got up. And I went to the gym.

The next moment came when I was on the treadmill. I had decided on a 5K loop with the intention of pushing myself beyond my normal 10 minute per mile pace. "I can do more than that today," I thought. So I cranked the speed up so I was running right around 9:15 per mile. But by the time I got to the second mile, I felt as if I was done. "You've pushed it enough, so stop at two miles and call it a day."

At that moment, though, I knew I had a choice to make. I could either quit early and feel like a loser all day long, or I could tough it out and feel like a rock star all day long. So I cranked the speed up another notch and went for it all.

And I finished the 5k loop in 28:20. That means I hit 9:08 minute miles. And that is the fastest I have run in months.

These moments may not mean anything to the rest of the world, and that's fine. They matter to me. And they make a difference. Seriously, these make or break moments can change everything. Because I packed my bag, I made it harder to sleep in the next morning. Because I got up and went to the gym, it was harder to cut my planned workout short. And because I stayed the course and ran the full distance, I'm feeling great and motivated to get right back after it tomorrow.

And most importantly, because I worked out today and decided to take a selfie at the gym, I discovered I was having total rock star hair. See?

So listen to your heart and not your head. You know how to respond in those moments. So go for it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Runner's World Magazine. Seriously.

This is Runner's World magazine:

This is the description of the magazine:
RUNNER'S WORLD is filled with powerful information that will help you run faster and farther?and have more fun doing it! Every issue brings you the strategies, tips and advice to fuel your performance, prevent injuries, burn fat, shed stress, and achieve your personal goals.

Sounds good enough, but it doesn't scratch the surface of what the magazine is. Runner's World is THE source for runners, whether you are a world-class ultra-marathoner or a walker looking to add some running to your neighborhood stroll. It will take you from first stretch to home stretch, from lace-up to race day. It will do everything for you but the actual running.

And here comes the big news. My running team, featured in the Media Meld Studios documentary, From Fat To Finish Line, will be featured in the April issue of Runner's World magazine.

Yes. Seriously. In Runner's World. Let that sink in for a moment.

This guy, who went from depressed couch potato to six-time marathoner, is going to be in the pages of THE magazine for runners. Along with my eleven other team members, I will be part of an article that talks about who we all are, what running has done for us, and where we hope to go from here.

I've known about this since June 2013, when I had my first phone interview. I spent more than an hour pacing back and forth in the Philadelphia Reading Terminal Market (I think), talking on the phone and sharing my story.

Believing it was going to happen is one thing. Having it confirmed and knowing it is definitely happening is something very different.

Yesterday, I received this email from the photo editor at the magazine:
Hi John,Your inspirational story of weight loss and running marathons is planned for our April, 2014 issue of Runner's World Magazine.
We would like to photograph you for the story. We will need about 3hrs of your time within the next two weeks or by 1/21. What date and time would work best for your schedule? What is your address so we can find a photographer near you? What are your current sizes (shirt, short/pant, shoe)? We will send wardrobe to you. 
Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yeah, that's right. A photo shoot. And they're sending me wardrobe. Even typing those words makes me smile and... yes... giggle a bit. Come on, who doesn't want to be treated like a celebrity for a day?!

I'm going to be in Runner's World magazine. Why? Because in June 2010, I decided to change my life. And in December 2010, I decided that running would be good for me. Now, three years after that fateful decision, I can proudly say that I am a runner. I think so. My teammates think so. And apparently, Runner's World magazine thinks so, too.

I hope my story... all of our stories... sparks something in all of those people who are stuck on their couches, desperate for a change but afraid to try. Because we are proof that a first step is all it takes to begin a truly amazing journey.

One Workout Won't Change Your Body.

First, the bad news. One workout won't change your body. You'll likely burn between 400-600 calories, which is about the same as a burger from McDonalds. Not the fries, too, just the burger. It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to burn a single pound of fat, so unless you ran a full marathon, your one workout isn't doing much for your body.

Like I said, that's the bad news. Now for the good news. Changing your body isn't the goal of a single workout. The goal is to change your attitude, your heart and eventually, your soul.

Lofty goals for a single workout, right? Sure. But it's possible. It's not only possible, it's inevitable. And here's why:

Your brain has triggered a rush of the mood-elevating hormone dopamine. And that adds to your already good feeling of accomplishment from working out. So it's a two-fer, both chemical and emotional. You feel good. And feeling good means that your attitude about everything around you gets better. You are more likely to smile at those around you, to hold a door open for someone, and even to greet a stranger with a friendly, "good morning."And those people around you are likely to respond to that kindness with kindness of their own, making you the recipient of smiles, courtesy, and friendly greetings.

So your workout has changed your attitude, which has softened your heart, and improved the world around you. And that is what heals your soul.

Wow. That's a lot from one workout, right? Okay, maybe that doesn't happen exactly like that just because you ran a 5k or pushed some weights around in strength training. But some variation of it will happen. And that's a great thing.

Another benefit of working out? Because you feel good and proud of yourself, you are more likely to make good, healthy decisions about eating all day long. You know what it took to burn those calories, so you will be mindful about all the calories you take back in.

And the best news? With enough of those workouts and those days of purposeful eating, your body WILL change. You will see and feel results. So get out there and make it happen!

Me, post 5k run and proof that a little exercise is great for your mood.

Monday, January 6, 2014

From Fat To Finish Line - Anniversary Video

I can't believe it's been a full year since I ran the Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West.

And I am so excited for this next year and the release of the documentary, From Fat To Finish Line.

From Fat to Finish Line Anniversary Video from Media Meld Studios on Vimeo.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Where Did He Go?

You might think I fell off the planet. I didn't. I've just really been struggling to get my act together. 

It's tough when the motivated go-getter is neither.

Stupid slump.