Friday, November 28, 2014

Living Bigger with Colostomy

One last post for today before I log off.

I believe I've mentioned Paul Riome before.  He's an ostomate from Canada who has lived his life to the fullest over getting a colostomy -- he's climbed mountains and trekked through Nepal since getting an ostomy, among other things.  I haven't been to Paul's blog in awhile, but I went to it today and read through a presentation he gave as part of receiving a "Great Comeback" award from Convatec.  There were words on one slide that I wanted to share:
I traded Rectal Cancer for a permanent colostomy. 
It was a good trade.

My colostomy was one of the best things to happen to me in my life.
I am alive, and living is everything.

Certainly the cancer and colostomy hurt me,
but it has made me a stronger and better person.

It gave me a greater appreciation for life, and made me focus on the important things.
I feel (mostly) the same way.  (It's still tough for me to say that getting a colostomy was one of the best things to happen in my life, because there's times when it still sucks. But when you put it in the context of it being something that kept you alive, how can you say that it isn't one of the best things to happen in your life?)

If you want to check out Paul's blog, you can find it here:

Awestomy / Awestomates

A friend of mine that I met at this year's Colondar photo shoot, Scott Zilverberg, is a prolific Instagram-er, and he will pretty much follow anyone.  He's a gym addict and came across another ostomate who recently competed in a bikini competition.  I think she's from Sydney.  Her Instagram user name is "_kaitb".  Check her out.

There's another guy out there who has already competed in men's physique competitions (he's competing at the national level now).  His Instagram ID is ngu_fitness1.  He's in great shape.

So, after finding these two folks, I thought it'd be cool if we could all do a show together at some point and what our team name would be.  I was thinking "Awestomy" or "Awestomates".  I Googled that to see if someone had already thought of that.  And, as I had already learned from being an intellectual property attorney, whatever I can think of, somebody else has likely already thought of it.

Sure enough.


They do have some funny t-shirts, though.  "Cool stoma, bro", "Oklastoma!", "Papa's got a brand new bag".

Still, I think I need to do some work to promote the hashtags "awestomates" and "awestomy".


Earlier this week my trainer told me that a regular at the gym who is there when I am in the mornings commented on my progress since I got serious about training back in May, and that my progress inspired/motivated him. I don't know the guy, but this totally made my day.

So, I wanted to pay this forward.

Yesterday being Thanksgiving, I want to say thanks to all of those who have inspired me over the past few years (I'd love to name names, but since I'd leave people out, I'll paint with broad strokes): everyone in the Colondar family (not just my fellow models, but all of those who volunteer countless hours of their time for the cause of raising colorectal cancer awareness); all of the other cancer warriors I have met (in personal or virtually) along the way who have had to dance with the dragon, whatever color wrist band you may wear; those who have battled back from other illnesses and setbacks (both minor and major) to return to normal day-to-day living and enjoying the activities they love; those I see in the gym who bring it every damn day (many of whom whose names I do not know) and bust their ass to work toward their goals, competitors and non-competitors alike (I see your progress and know the sacrifices you make both in and out of the gym); parents (married and single) who do their best to be good role models and provide for their kids; those who give back to the community and serve others, either through what they do as their profession or on their own times as volunteers; those who kept reaching for and ultimately achieving their dreams after suffering (sometimes heartbreaking) setbacks; those who have gotten their own business off the ground after years of planning and hard work; and those who unfailingly take the time to nurture and support their friends when they need it.

You all inspire me to be a better friend, family member, athlete and human being.


Hey gang, it's been too long since I've posted.  I've had lots to say, almost too much, and rather then just write it out as it comes, I've let it build to the point where everything I want to say and report what's been happening in my life since the spring is too much to put into one post.  So, I'll let it trickle out bit by bit, without making any terrible attempt to tie everything together.

Here goes.

I've done a few things to take control of my life, since, back in the spring, I felt some things had slipped away from me.  One of those things was my health.  I'd like to think I'm an active, in-shape guy, but if I take an honest look at the past twenty years of my life, I'd say I've spent more time out of shape than in shape.

When I'm busy or stressed, good eating and exercising are always the first two things to go out the window.  And if I'm down or depressed about things (like being out of shape), it's very difficult to get the motivation to get out of that rut and start exercising again, especially when you've let yourself go to the point where the road to getting back to decent shape is such a long one.  And earlier this year, I was all of the above -- busy, stressed and down about things.

My physical conditioning after cancer treatment has been a series of ups and downs.  Soon after I completed my treatment, I was determined to get back into shape and picked a goal of doing something I had never done before -- do a 100 mile bike ride.  And that was great.  I was motivated to show cancer who was boss, and I hit my goal in June 2011 when I did the Denver Century ride.  I followed that up with the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver then Party, a 200 mile ride over two days) and another century ride, but then I let things slide since I didn't have a next goal lined up.

The next spring, in 2012, was when I was picked to be in the Colondar.  Having your picture taken for a calendar is a tremendous motivator for getting in shape, so I got a trainer and got back into decent shape for that.
[I think it's a sad commentary on my perspective on my own health that I had to have something like having my picture taken for a calendar to light a fire under my ass to get back in shape after I had gone through having had cancer.  Cancer!  Shouldn't having a life-threatening disease inspire and motivate me every day to stay in shape?  Apparently not.  I needed something like a calendar photo shoot to get me motivated.]
But again, after the photo shoot, with no goal lined up for me, I once again let things go.  And that's how things went for the next year or so.

In the fall of 2013, with me still in my post-cancer drift, knowing that I needed a goal to inspire me to get back into shape and with the five year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis a year and a half away, I started thinking of what kind of physical goal I could set for myself that was truly beyond what I thought I was capable of doing.  Two things came to mind -- competing in a men's physique competition (If you don't now what it is, Google it -- I've always had a bit of a fascination about bodybuilding, to be honest) or competing in an Ironman triathlon (I've always enjoyed endurance events and had been toying around with trying some multi-sport events for quite awhile.  Problem is I ultimately injure myself whenever I try to get back into running, and I've never really taken to swimming in my life).  I knew that either one would take serious dedication and determination, but that was the point.  The challenge had to be hard.  Something outside of my comfort zone.  Something where I could fail.

So even though I had some ideas on what I wanted to do athletically for my five year cancerversary goal, I didn't do much about it last fall and this spring, even though I had started dating a woman who was training hard to compete in her own bodybuilding competition.  You'd think that dating someone who was living the bodybuilding lifestyle would inspire me to take it up, but it didn't.  I toyed around with it, and talked some talk, but when it came down to actually getting my ass to the gym and putting in the work I always came up with lame excuses.  I was still drifting, unsure of my future in Portland, and unsure of where the relationship that I was in was heading.

Eventually, spring rolled around and things weren't going well for me, physically or professionally.  I had thrown out my back for the umpteeth time and was hobbling around for quite awhile.  One morning, when I was feeling particularly heavy and decided I got up the courage to step on the scale and see how bad things had gotten, I weighed 252 pounds.  I had broken the 1/8th-of-a-ton barrier.

"Ugh.  I disgust myself."

For me, that was it.  That was going to be my rock bottom and I was going to dig out from there.  Mentally, I prepared myself for that wherever I was going to end up, it was going to be a long road.  And no matter where I was going to go, the first thing I had to do was get my back to fully heal.

And so it began.

In early March, after a few visits to the chiropractor and doing a lot of core strengthening exercises and stretching, my back felt strong enough to try and run.  My first few runs were pathetic.  18 minutes was all my lungs, legs and back would allow.  Two days later I was able to go 19 minutes, but I doubled over at the end, clutching my knees and sucking for air.  I couldn't believe how out of shape I had gotten so quickly.

"You turn 45 in a few months, Doug.  Welcome to Middle Age."

In years past when I would (try) to run regularly, I'd scoff at running anything less than 30-35 minutes of running as not being worth my time, and not being worthy of a workout. 

I started running three times per week, increasing my runs by no more than one minute or one-tenth of a mile.  At the end of April, two months later, I had lost about 10 pounds and was up to three miles or so with runs.  My core was feeling stronger with all of the rehab exercises I had been doing, my legs were starting to feel stronger, and my lungs had adjusted to the cardio volume.

Once I had this fitness base, I decided to start pursuing a 5-year cancer treatment goal. I began cycling regularly and I got a trainer so that I would have someone to motivate me and hold me accountable when it came to lifting.

I got to my trainer when I was about 240# and over the next three months he whipped me into shape.  The hour or so when you're in the gym is important, but it's the other 23 hours during the day that make or break fitness success.  My trainer is a magician with diet, and he gave me a high-protein diet that was able to fuel my training (lifting, running and cycling), and allow me to lean out while keeping the muscle I was building up.

I was able to get to my goal of losing 40# before my 45th birthday.  Here's the progress photos.  I'm pretty damn pleased.

After reaching this "lean-out" goal, I decided to go for it and commit to competing in a men's physique competition.  (I hurt myself running, so this decision was easily made for me.  No Ironman.)  So, right now, I'm trying to bulk up and add as much size (muscle) to me as I can, and then when Jan. 1 rolls around, we start cutting for the show, which is May 1.  Here's my current progress.  I'm around 225-230# right now.

So, that's where I am with my health right now.  Sometimes it seems like my life revolves around work, lifting at the gym, doing cardio, and meal prep.  But I'm enjoying the process.  Looking forward to facing this challenge and getting up on stage.  Here's the poster for the show I'm doing: