My name is Shawn Finnegan, physical therapist, trainer, owner of quarantine fitness and core energy fitness. I’m 53 years old and currently in the best shape of my life. I’ve done it all from fitness modeling, training clients, and physical therapy. Along my journey through life, I soon faced the trying times of having throat cancer. As well as the aftereffects of chemotherapy, being hooked on pain meds, and restarting my process back to overall well-being. My story is a testament to the importance of nutrition, fitness as well as mental health. Stick with me as I give you the inside look at my battle with stage 3 throat cancer and how my system of nutrition has helped me achieve the greatest shape of my life at the age of 53.
About Me & Fitness
Fitness for me has always been a familiar way of life. I was always an athlete and playing sports so I knew how to work out. Having gone to school for physical therapy, the passion for health and wellness became something to pursue. I’ve always found fulfillment from helping others so it felt like the proper path for me to take. While fitness during my years of studying took a backseat due to the demand of school. The desire for the gym soon made its way back to the limelight. In these years I was still looking for a location to call my own. I knew I wanted to live in a warm environment so I used my contract work as a physical therapist to travel around the country.
I’ve worked in many different locations during this time period, first in Orlando, Florida for 3 months. Followed by another 3 months in Long Beach, California. Finally ending in Arizona, where my fitness career was finally sparked. While in Arizona I took it upon myself to get back in the gym and back in shape. Having been in the gym a lot more at the time I was noticed by an agent for a photoshoot. A photoshoot that would land me on the cover of a couple of fitness magazines running rapidly at the time. As well as doing a wide variety of magazine inserts that’s would ultimately introduce me to the beautiful beaches of Santa Monica & Venice Beach.
This is where I would choose to spend the rest of my time. I loved the culture, the weather and immediately fell in love with the location upon arrival. This time frame for the fitness industry was huge and had taken over the culture on the west coast. That being said, I sought ways to keep myself in the gym and continue my modeling career as it became my newfound passion. The next step was to pursue personal training. I saw it as a way to keep myself in the gym and completely locked into working out.
The opportunity to take on my first personal training clients came from a physical therapy client who I had been working with at the time. She was in the hospital and I had mentioned to her that I had been wanting to try personal training. She made me a deal that she and her daughter would be my first clients if I could get her well enough to go home instead of a nursing home. Sure enough, we get her well enough to go home and that’s where my journey as a personal trainer began.
Soon after my first two clients, I talked with the owner of the gym I was going to. I let him know that I wanted to go full-tilt into personal training. He advised me to attend a variety of courses around the area. Most notably a course at Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach. This is where I learned more about nutrition and fitness through a company called Intrafit. I ended up working for them and doing work with celebrities, managers along with an array of people who would utilize Gold’s Gym for training. Life was exactly what I needed it to be, it was centered around the gym and progressing in fitness and modeling.
The Beginning Of The Battle
Soon after this phase of fitness, I had two kids, one 5 years old and one 2-year-old, I knew I needed a more stable stream of income. So I went back to physical therapy for that purpose as well as the benefits that came along with it. Life here was heavily focused on family and time with kids. I was also in the works of creating my company. This company focuses on completely connecting a system of bands and straps for home gyms. This idea was sparked when the owner of a physical therapy clinic I worked at had asked me to come up with a way to mount all the straps and bands in the facility.
My fitness and modeling career understandably took a backseat. I was 210 pounds, hardly working out, eating unhealthy foods, and trying to navigate what was a toxic marriage. In the middle of all this came the news that would be the driving force behind where I am at today. I was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma which is a type of throat cancer that starts in the tonsils. Cancer then spread to my lymph nodes and that’s when the doctors had to begin the surgeries and treatments that would put me out for about a year.
Surgery & Chemotherapy
The first steps were to surgically remove my tonsils and lymph nodes in my neck. This followed by a 2 month time period of chemotherapy treatment. During this process, I had dropped a ton of weight from 210lbs to 130lbs. I was on a feeding tube due to the surgeries on my neck to remove the tonsils and lymph nodes. To add to all of this I was also on a variety of medication that would later bring on withdraws. My world, ambitions, and path in life had changed forever. I was in and out of emotional phases brought on by dramatic changes that had occurred as well as the medication, it was like I didn’t know who I was anymore.
The stress of chemotherapy and radiation combined created a world of hurt. Paired with a loss of taste and saliva glands that were no longer working properly led to a painful journey. My days were filled with continuous vomiting, dizziness, loss of concussions, and repeatedly crying. I mean I would look at things and just start crying. A lot of the emotional stress was brought on by fatigue. Not being able to sleep, focus, eat properly, constant pain, and being hooked on pain medication made my emotional stability a tough one to keep a hold of.
The medication brought its own battle with it. I tried to cut the medication cold turkey, thinking to myself “well I’m tough I can handle this”. Soon realizing that this would be a process in itself. I slowly had to wing off of the medication due to the withdraws being that of heavy flu. Having finished the therapy process it was time to dig deep and get back to a regular baseline in life. Step one was to get my weight back up.
The Journey Back
Having recently divorced at this time left me with the responsibility of having to take care of myself and nurture my way back to health. I knew what I needed to do as I had instructed others for years in nutrition and fitness. The process of getting my weight back up was step one and a difficult step for sure. Mostly due to the lack of taste buds and saliva glands that made most foods taste horrible. At this point, I couldn’t even physically do a push-up so I knew the journey was going to be a tough one to execute, but not impossible.
My fitness routine soon made Its way back as I began to implement a variety of workouts to strengthen my body and regain the weight I had lost. I love to workout and always have so this part of my regimen was one I enjoyed. I enjoy the feelings and joy that come with accomplishing a workout. Personally, I love riding my bike as well as utilizing my anchor systems in my home gym. This system has helped me stay in shape, especially since this pandemic took place. It’s a great way to anchor all the straps and bands you need into one location, giving you a wide variety of workouts you can do from the comfort of your home.
Besides that, it was all about gradually making my way back to more vigorous workouts. slowly but surely I managed to make my way back in weight and now have a strong grasp on my fitness. Ultimately getting me in the greatest shape of my life!
My nutrition was the biggest change I had to make. I began meal prepping myself every Sunday, cooking my meals, and portioning them for the week ahead. Having now had to manage rent, medical bills and child support led me to a hustling state of mind. Working endless hours in order to pay for bills led me to a busy lifestyle where I was constantly working and only had one day off. That entire day off was now wasted on prepping food, that’s where my phase of trying meal prep services began.
I was seeking a meal prep company to help me save time while still keeping me on track. I’ve tried many different services but none like Meal Prep Sunday San Diego. I’ve been with Meal Prep Sunday for a little bit over a year now and they are a huge part of my nutritional system that I have in place to keep me on track.
Part of the reason I have stayed with them for so long is because of their quality. Having tried other companies who would essentially send you frozen food, poorly prepped or low-quality ingredients made me appreciate Meal Prep Sunday the second I tried their meals for the first time. I personally use the 10 meal per week option (lunch & dinner) only. This accounts for a majority of my meals as I will prep a quick breakfast and snacks in the morning, It works for me and my routine. It’s all about creating a system that works for you and your lifestyle. When you create a system for your nutrition it becomes effortless and automatic. That is when consistency becomes a natural behavior. I often get asked what my nutrition is like for the day, here’s my routine and advice for you.
My Eating Regimen
Breakfast: My day will start with quick eggs and oatmeal in the morning, it takes the least amount of time out of all the meals. Literally minutes and I’m done with all the prep. I pair this breakfast with a juice that I prepare the night before as well.
Lunch & Dinner: Meal Prep Sunday provides my lunches and dinners every week. Lunch and dinner take up the most amount of time when it comes to prepping and occurs at the most inconvenient times during the day.
Having lunch already prepped allows me to go about my day without having to worry about where my lunch will come from and keeps me from potentially making an unhealthy decision during my lunch breaks. A decision I find many of my clients would fall into.
The same story with dinner only now it’s at the end of the day when work is done. The last thing I want to do after work is spend my time cooking and prepping food. Meal Prep Sunday is responsible for a big part of the system I have in place for nutrition. All at very affordable pricing that I would have easily surpassed if I had gone out to eat or had food delivered. The quality of the meals are that of a restaurant. I genuinely look forward to these every week and the best part is the variety they offer. Along with the option to substitute meals. For example, I’m not a fan of tilapia. So when that meal pops up on the menu they will automatically adjust my meals so I don’t receive the tilapia. Instead, I can pick a meal I know I’ll love!
Snacks: Super simple on the snacks. Oftentimes I’ll find myself traveling with a few Rx bars to keep me fed in between meals. Really anything healthy such as fruits or nuts will be incorporated into my days.
As I talked about above, It’s detrimental to have a system in place to keep your nutrition going on the right path. A big part of my system is Meal Prep Sunday San Diego. They help me stay on track and save a ton of time in the process. My advice for people who are looking to try Meal Prep Sunday Is to try one week at 5 or 10 meals. Having the 50% off first order makes it a no-brainer to at least try it out for a week. Giving you a real look at what life with the meals is like.
In this first week really focus on the time your saving, how easy it is to go about your day, and the quality of the meals throughout the week. A big drawback to meal prepping yourself is the meals going bad by day 2 or 3. This service completely hits every single point you can think of when it comes to meal prep services and that’s coming from someone who has tried a number of different meal prep companies.
The last piece of advice is to find A lifestyle that works for you. Do things that bring you joy and seek to find a way to keep your nutrition and fitness a regular part of your day. It worked for me and I hope my experiences and knowledge could bring some value to you. Thank you for listening to my story. For more, please visit my website or Instagram.