I Died 3 TIMES in One Night


Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - Front Page - By Katie Neal Cover and open­ing pho­tog­ra­phy by Bradley Meinz

Drew Lo­gan doesn’t look like some­one death would want to mess with. But on Oct. 4, 2004, it tried—three times. The elite fit­ness pro, who works out for hours a day with ath­letes and ac­tors, was spend­ing a quiet night in Nashville with his then-girl­friend when he suf­fered sud­den car­diac ar­rest (SCA), a com­pli­ca­tion with the heart’s elec­tri­cal sys­tem that less than 10 per­cent of peo­ple sur­vive.

“I re­mem­ber hit­ting the car­pet face­down, and I knew I was dy­ing,” says Lo­gan, now 43. “Peo­ple al­ways ask me how I knew, but it’s just like how you know you’re in love. You just know, and there wasn’t any time to re­sist it.”

Pos­si­bly be­cause of his phys­i­cal con­di­tion­ing, Lo­gan’s body did re­sist the first SCA and he woke up woozy and con­fused. But be­fore he could get out the door to the ER, an­other one hit, and he had to be re­vived by paramedics. He suf­fered a third af­ter he ar­rived at Van­der­bilt Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter. His doc­tors told him that sur­viv­ing three SCAs— two out­side the hos­pi­tal—was a phe­nom­e­non they’d never seen.

Cheat­ing death that night changed Lo­gan’s ap­proach to life—and his life’s work. He talks all about it in his new book, 25 Days: A Proven Pro­gram to Re­wire Your Brain, Stop Weight Gain, and Fi­nally Crush the Habits You Hate—For­ever. The Los An­ge­les–based pro, who has trained Keith Ur­ban, The Flash’s Jesse L. Martin and NBA star Nazr Mo­hammed, sim­pli­fied the train­ing he’d prac­ticed with top­tier clien­tele for years. And it works just as well—if not bet­ter.

“When I was younger, I didn’t un­der­stand why ev­ery­one didn’t work out. I thought fit­ness was su­per easy,” he says. “Now I know that’s not em­pow­er­ing and I feel like a jerk! If I hadn’t had car­diac ar­rest, I never would have un­der­stood the pain, fear and in­se­cu­rity that peo­ple bring with them when they come to me for help.”

The Night the Lights Went Out

Be­fore he even grad­u­ated col­lege, the Lex­ing­ton, Ky.-born Lo­gan had built a busi­ness as a per­sonal trainer. By age 30, he’d re­lo­cated to Nashville to work with NFL and NBA ath­letes.

He stayed close to his fam­ily, and his mom, Judy, and dad, Ron, were there for him af­ter his car­diac ar­rests. Lo­gan re­calls what Ron, a Viet­nam vet, told him af­ter see­ing him in the hos­pi­tal bed: “I’ve seen more death in my life than any­one de­serves to see. And when I walked in the room, you were a dead man. So I just cried and prayed.”

Lo­gan pauses and chuck­les. “The story gets fun­nier from there—we’ve gone through the dark parts.”

Within days, he was out of dan­ger, but doc­tors were still flum­moxed about what had caused a healthy 30-year-old to suf­fer car­diac ar­rest. Ev­ery test in­di­cated a heart in top form—no ev­i­dence of scar tis­sue, no trace of the trauma it had been through. They spent hours try­ing to recre­ate the SCA in a con­trolled ex­per­i­ment but came up empty-handed.

In the ab­sence of a prob­lem to treat, the only so­lu­tion was a safe­guard: an im­plantable de­fib­ril­la­tor that will au­to­mat­i­cally shock his heart back into rhythm should he ever suf­fer an­other SCA. His ther­apy dog, Lucky, pro­vides backup, alert­ing Lo­gan when his cor­ti­sol lev­els rise, in­di­cat­ing a stress level that could be dan­ger­ous given his history. (See “Life

With Lucky” on page 10.)

In the hos­pi­tal, he watched a video cre­ated for pa­tients who get pace­mak­ers, star­ring a cast of se­nior cit­i­zens, and shook his head. For most car­diac pa­tients, the idea of get­ting back to the gym is ter­ri­fy­ing. But for Lo­gan, al­ready in the throes of post-trau­matic de­pres­sion, it felt cru­cial.

“I was more afraid I was go­ing to lose my mind if I didn’t work out—be­cause with­out ex­er­cise I didn’t feel like my­self,” he says.

Con­quer­ing the Men­tal Bat­tle

Af­ter some tweak­ing with the de­fib­ril­la­tor’s pace­maker—which ini­tially would sound an alarm when his heart rate reached a cer­tain thresh­old—Lo­gan quickly set­tled back into the type of phys­i­cal reg­i­men he was used to. What he hadn’t an­tic­i­pated were the men­tal chal­lenges.

“The kind of train­ing you do with elite ath­letes is very de­tailed, and there’s a lot of math be­hind it, like cal­cu­lat­ing meta­bolic rest­ing rates, which I al­ways en­joyed,” he says. “But now it was tak­ing me hours where it used to just take me a few min­utes. It was like Greek.”

Years later, Lo­gan learned this was likely due to mild brain trauma caused by oxy­gen de­pri­va­tion be­fore he was re­vived. At the time, he just knew he was frus­trated. He de­cided to go back to ba­sics and give clients a list of sim­ple bench­marks to meet. He asked them to score them­selves out of 100 each day on how well they fol­lowed the guide­lines for meals, snacks and work­outs.

“If you do what you’re sup­posed to do that day, you get an A-plus,” he says. “It was so dorky that at the time I thought it was re­ally stupid.”

Lo­gan fig­ured it would just be a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion un­til his brain fog­gi­ness cleared, but his clients loved the new plan. He heard less de­feat in their voices. If they slipped up and ate cook­ies on Mon­day, oh well, they told him, to­mor­row is an­other day to get an A.

“They started say­ing, ‘I didn’t know it could be this easy,’ ” he says. “And I thought, Me nei­ther!”

Peo­ple were get­ting re­sults so fast that af­ter four weeks, they of­ten had enough suc­cess that they didn’t need his on­go­ing sup­port.

His 25 Days pro­gram was born. And it turned out that the idea he once thought was too sim­plis­tic to be ef­fec­tive had a lot of sci­ence be­hind it. It’s a con­cept called neu­ro­log­i­cal pat­tern­ing, and it has to do with the way our brains form habits out of a feed­back loop of rep­e­ti­tion and re­ward, even­tu­ally be­com­ing a de­fault set­ting that can over­ride bad im­pulses. (It’s no co­in­ci­dence that ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery pro­grams are of­ten built on a sim­i­lar one­day-at-a-time model.) Giv­ing your­self an A gives you a burst of feel-good brain chem­i­cal dopamine, which makes you want to re­peat the be­hav­ior that trig­gered it.

“It’s pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment on a chem­i­cal level,” Lo­gan says. “These are pat­terns cre­ated by our brain that feel like ‘ad­dic­tion’ if they’re bad habits, but feel like great things if they’re good for you.”

But you don’t have to un­der­stand the sci­ence be­hind it—most peo­ple just want a plan to fol­low. Lo­gan has seen this one work for him­self, high-pro­file clients and even his

70-year-old dad. “It’s not a com­pe­ti­tion against any­one else—or your younger self. It’s just, ‘ Did I do it at all?’ ”

And at its core, it’s a phi­los­o­phy born out of Lo­gan’s brush—or three—with death: “To­mor­row might not come, and yes­ter­day doesn’t re­ally mat­ter that much. Let’s just try to con­trol to­day.”

Lucky, the ther­apy dog

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