How a Simple Birthday Conversation Led to Burning 100,000 Calories

Earlier this week, while you were probably still sleeping, I crossed a milestone during my 6:15am workout at OrangeTheory Fitness. For the calendar year, I’ve now burned over 100,000 calories during 124 workouts.  It was epic calorie #225 that eclipsed the 100,000 mark. Ever the accountability through numbers guy, I watched the screen tick by while blasting the rower at the 13:16 mark and celebrated the personal, silent win.  And, for half a second, I got emotional. I know – me – emotional. Pfft. Hard to believe.


Workout from 9/13/16 – Yearly total in lower right

Health Hasn’t Always Been #1


Fat Jerry at just under 200 pounds

As a dumb, “indestructible” male, I’ve always considered my health as relatively important. It is something I’d “get to,” but not quite as important as work or friends or fun. After all, I’m the guy who worked himself onto a gurney at twenty-six with chest pains. I’m also the guy at forty who had allowed himself to balloon to nearly two hundred pounds. Yeah, I’m not that bright.


What Changed my Thinking?

It was a conversation I had with my dad upon celebrating his 75th birthday at my house. We are both early risers, so as we stood in the kitchen sipping coffee in our underwear, the conversation turned to his milestone birthday – just a boy and his dad. “Seventy-five” we repeated back and forth as if we were two old people who couldn’t hear one another. With each iteration, we slowed its presentation and inflected more emotion and disbelief into it. “Seven—–ty———fiveeeeeee.”

I broke the pattern and asked the normal, thoughtless birthday question, “So, Pop, how do you feel?”

“No different than I did when I went to sleep. But, geez. Seventy-five. Three quarters of a century.” He shook his head as if even he was stunned to make it this far. “I will tell you though, you do reach a point where you are just really happy to be on this side of the green grass. I’m there, son.”

I nodded my head in agreement. “Sure beats the alternative, right?”

I then asked a question whose impact was unknown to me at the time, but has profoundly stuck with me. “So, Pop. After seventy-five years, what would you change in your life?”

Without hesitation, my Dad answered:

“I would have exercised more.”

“I would have drank less.”

“I would have lost weight.”

“As I think about the health issues I’ve faced over the last ten years, I really believe that if I had taken better care of myself that I wouldn’t have experienced many of these issues.”

The weight of those words lingered like the burn of a fifty pound sumo squat after a killer run to row. I ruminated with the gift my Pop unknowingly presented me. Calling upon the greatest advice I’ve ever received, “Learn from my mistakes. I made them for you,” I’ve revisited these words many times. Here is a man, my father – my dad, in the winter of his life, sharing what he would change. It all surrounded his health.

Cue the boink from “Shoulda had a V8 commercial.” As I’ve continued to write and research for my book, I’ve become married to this simple fact: The foundation of life is health.

I haven’t missed a scheduled workout since that conversation with my dad.

What are you Teaching your Kids?

Today, I turn forty-two. (Pop: “Fooooooorty-twoooooooo”)

Any day now, Rachel, my daughter Brooklyn, our dog Blake and I will welcome baby boy Briggs into our family. As I reflected when I ran a half marathon just before Brooklyn was born, I come back to, “What am I teaching my kid(s)?”

So, burning 100,000 calories, losing nearly twenty pounds, running a 5:45 mile, eating smartly, sleeping soundly and watching my body respond and transform to be healthy makes my heart happy. These are all indicators that I have made my health a priority, so I can make my family, friends, work and life a priority. It is the alignment of vision and action to unlock results and fulfillment. I’m not training for a race; I’m training for my life.

I hope Brooklyn and Briggs embrace Pop’s lesson too. And, I plan on modeling this lesson for them. I just hope they embrace it sooner than forty-one.

Random Quote

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

— Goethe


  1. Right on, Jerry. Good health is something that we too often take for granted. I’m so glad to see that you’re making it a priority in your life! I couldn’t agree more with your line about how taking care of yourself lets you better take care of those around you. Happy Birthday, buddy!

  2. Jerry A. Macnamara Sr. says:

    Isn’t it amazing how smart we get as we grow older. Son, teach your children while they are young so they’re ahead of life’s game as they grow older,enabling you to love them longer. Love you, dad

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