Periodically throughout the year we ask our team to nominate clients who have achieved something really great to be featured in our blogs, newsletters, etc....an opportunity to provide some much deserved recognition, but also to invite them to share their story...stories that have most certainly inspired our staff, but don't always go "told" to others that may benefit from hearing them. We know of course, that humans are social beings and that surrounding ourselves with successful people and a healthy environment can go a long way in helping us achieve our best...and that the power of CONNECT is an amazing thing.....so we believe there are so many reasons to share when able....
I think if you asked, John Middleton would describe himself as pretty much an ordinary guy...working hard to do his best for those he cares most about....but the work he has, and continues to, put in has yielded results that are nothing shy of extraordinary. It is with our most sincere appreciation (and congratulations) to John that we share a bit of his story with you....and our most sincere hope that you too find inspiration in it that helps you to continue moving forward to your goals!
E: John, thanks for taking the time and your willingness to share...tell me how this whole training and life change started?
J: I actually worked out regularly throughout high school and college (4-5 days a week) and for 4-5 years post college before slacking off for 20 years only working out occasionally. I got back into bike riding in 2012, averaging roughly 3 days a week about 50 miles total. In March of 2014, I began noticing a swelling sensation in my neck just after starting a workout, whether a bike ride or a walk, that would go away after about 10 minutes. I mentioned it to my doctor during my annual check-up and, initially they attributed it to allergies given the season. It persisted into June and I brought it up again so they did an EKG in the office. That showed normal activity. Finally in early July, I went back again and was referred to a Cardiologist. He had me do a treadmill stress test which I “failed” after about 10 minutes. I then did a Nuclear stress test on July 17th, 2014. That test showed a significant blockage (99%) in the Circumflex artery (the one that basically runs horizontally around your heart). Fortunately, I had no other blockages and had not suffered any heart damage. This kind of snuck up on me as I had been getting regular annual check-ups but the symptoms only showed up during exercise not while I was at rest. I had a stent inserted in the artery on July 31, 2014. I started walking about 10 days later, initially, just a ½ mile and gradually increased it to roughly 4 miles by early fall. I also went through a 12 week Cardiac Level II rehab program at Hunterdon Medical Center. I completed that in early December 2014 and immediately started at Pro-Activity. E: Wow, I'd say that's pretty significant, but I've often heard similar stories from folks who can't seem to keep it going...what keeps you motivated? J: Fear is a powerful motivator! My doctors made it abundantly clear that I would have serious health issues if I didn’t change my lifestyle. That meant changing my diet and exercising. The Cardiologist wanted 20 minutes a day every day. I set a goal of 30-60 minutes 5 times per week. I began working out 3 days a week with Pro-Activity and filled in the gaps by walking or using an elliptical at home so that I was working out 5 days a week. I started running in March of 2015 by running for 2 minutes, walking for 1 minute for 30 minutes. I’ve gradually increased that to doing 3-4 miles 2-3 times per week. I now work out at Pro-Activity on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I also work in bike rides and, in poor weather, Elliptical workouts so I’m closer to averaging 6 days a week. In addition to working out 5-6 days a week, I essentially follow the DASH diet common for heart disease patients. I have targets for average daily intake of saturated fats, salt and added sugar. I minimize dairy, red meat, processed wheat and products with Sugar as an ingredient. I still have pizza, steak and desert but very rarely and I compensate on those days. My daily calorie target is 1,875 calories a day. I track my diet as closely as possible using the LoseIt! App. I stay motivated because I want to watch my kids grow old! E: Love it! What sort of results did you see? J: In early June of 2014, I weigheed 225, had a blood pressure reading of something like 140/110, Total Cholesterol of 210, LDL Cholesterol of 137, and an ALT score of 45. I was apparently pre-diabetic and pre-hypertensive. In June of 2016, I weighed 190 (still 15 pounds too high if you believe in the BMI theory), had a blood pressure reading of 115/65, Total Cholesterol of 129, LDL Cholesterol of 53 and an ALT score of 34. All of my results are mid-point of the healthy range. Some of that is due to medication of course – I may be on medication for the rest of my life, but per my Cardiologist most of it is due to lifestyle changes as he states my medication dosage is as low as it can get short of none at all. E: Pretty extraordinary my man....what would you say are the things you're most proud of? J: I’m most proud of my running, as slow as I am! 2 years ago, I couldn’t run 50 yards without my head pounding. Of course, that was primarily related to my heart issue but I was also 35-50 pounds overweight and out of shape. This year I’ve run 8 5k’s to date (planning at least 2 more in 2016) and the Spring Lake 5 Mile. I use MapMyFitness to log my workouts and have logged almost 300 miles running in 2016 (my goal is 500 for the year). I’ve reduced my 5k time from almost 44 minutes in June 2015 to a personal best of 31:30 a few weeks ago. E: That's awesome....I can personally attest to seeing your running improve...sometimes when I see you out on the Landsdown trail, and you're up ahead....I'm not quite sure I'll be able to catch you! But what about when you "slip"...not on the trail, but in your change in consistent healthy habits? J: I haven’t yet, mostly because I don’t see these changes as optional. If I want to live a full and healthy life, these changes were mandatory and I need to stick with them permanently. That said, I do still drink wine and do have desert occasionally. I don’t consider it “slipping” because I do try to compensate elsewhere in my diet and exercise on those days. E: Sounds like a "perfect" way to think about not having to be "perfect", but instead getting things right most of the time....internally we've been calling that striving to be an "81 percent 'er"....get it 90% right, 90% of the time! Of course, I think my team would bust me if I didn't ask how Pro-Activity has played a role? J: Pro-Activity has played a significant role because it has provided structure and motivation. I work out 3x a week with a great group of people and with a great group of trainers – initially Taylor, then Chris and with assistance from Gene, Eric, Stephanie and others. The workouts are geared to not only improving my general fitness but specifically to improve functional movement. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my core strength and from that I believe, my balance and stability. I see a direct correlation between Pro-Activity and my improvements in my running times as well as in my test scores. Personally, I’m not confident I would have achieved the same results at another facility not utilizing your approach. The small group/trainer approach was what I needed to remain committed to the process. E: Thanks John....certainly happy we could have played a small role. What you would tell others who may find themselves in a similar spot to where you were? J: Stay patient and committed to the process. I knew measurable results wouldn’t be seen for 6 months aside from weight loss, but still had to commit to getting into Pro-Activity 3 days a week and working out on my own 2-3 other days. If you’re like me, you want to stick around for awhile! While medication will help, and can make it easy to skip the hard work, it’s worth it when you think about what you might miss. I don’t think about it often but it does cross my mind that if I hadn’t recognized symptoms – the swelling in the neck/jaw is a symptom of heart disease more common to women than men, if my doctors hadn’t been persistent in diagnosing the issue and I hadn’t committed to lifestyle changes, I might not be here. In the two years since my procedure, Kate and Grif (children) have had proms, graduations, began their college careers and been admitted to Grad school (Kate). That’s very motivating! E: So awesome, so where from here...what sort of future goals do you have? J: Get under 30:00 for 5k, run a 10k (hopefully this Fall – if not then in the Spring), run a half-marathon (2-3 years out with Kate in Napa), run the Skylands Duathlon in 2017 (would do it this year but I’ll be out of the country), finally get my weight down to 175 and, most importantly, watch Kate and Grif achieve great things. __________________________June 2014 August 2016 Congrats to John on all his hard work and extraordinary achievements! Who's next?!?