Discovering the Fun of Being Healthy

Pedaling for Better Health at The Ride 2018

Bob Johnson at The Ride

“There was an elephant on my chest,” said Bob Johnson of Grand Haven. Unable to breathe, he found himself hospitalized four years ago. Johnson’s diagnosis was severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but he did not take it seriously. He admitted to lighting up just 20 minutes after leaving the hospital.

Four months later, Johnson found himself in ICU. This was his wake-up call and “the end of my smoking career,” he said.

His pulmonologist told Johnson she did not think he would live, but he had a chance at a long and healthy life if he did two things: stopped smoking and started a 1500 calorie a day diet — two things that seemed impossible for a man addicted to nicotine and food.

Nicole Coverly, Bob Johnson and Cathy Schmidt

Ready to make big changes to improve his health, Johnson got a referral to the Mercy Health Heart Center for rehabilitation two days a week. He said his therapists, Cathy Schmidt and Nicole Coverly, helped him more than he thought possible.

“They inspire me,” Johnson said. At first, living with COPD was tough, but he was motivated to keep going no matter how difficult it was. Now, he is an inspiration.

By eating right, exercising and losing 85 lbs., Johnson said he “feels perfect,” and “he’s addicted to riding!” He is overjoyed at his recovery and all that he can do.

Last year, Johnson rode 2,000 outdoor miles on his bike. Additionally, long distances, like a 100-mile ride (known as a century ride), are no problem for him. Yet, with each ride, Johnson follows his doctor’s orders and dons oxygen as a precaution.

At The Ride 2018, we found Johnson having a fantastic time and encouraging others. His doctor said he is a one percenter because most people, given the diagnosis and poor condition he was in, would have sat at home and done nothing. “To be healthy is fun,” Johnson said.

We applaud Bob Johnson for taking charge of his health and for a successful ride in The Ride 2018.

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