Dark Secrets of a Wanna-Be Executive (aka creepy corporate culture)

An honest life is a hard life to live; that is a piece of what my 40 while 40 is about – really discovering the man I am and the man I am still to be.  But it is also about having fun, a lot of fun growing with my family and my friends and myself.  It is very hard to be honest with yourself.  I think it is actually easier to be honest with others, unless of course they are asking about you.

You like?

You like?

“Doing great, thanks!”
“We are all good!”
“Out of sight!”I probably said each of those once over the last week, the last one is a little weird, I agree.  Stuff it, I said it and I probably thought I meant it.  But the truth is, no, I am probably NOT at 100%.  I do not see myself the way other see me. I cannot for some reason, but I am trying.  And that is my week one item I like about myself.  I like that I can always try to be a best version of myself, and try to see myself the way others do.  I may not always show it, but I do; and often I like what they see. Sometimes, I see the truth of what they see and it inspires me.

Back to honesty, I had gone into this week with the utter intention of working out 7 days this week, working on the walking, moving toward running, etc. But the truth of the matter is that I have had one mediocre workout as it got interrupted by two of the beautiful girls in my life.  I REALLY need to get into the gym; for my health, love and family as well as my own enjoyment of riding the bike and lifting the weights.

Left, their idea of yoga; right, what it looks like for me (hell, I wish I was that flexible)

Left, their idea of yoga; right, what it looks like for me (hell, I wish I was that flexible)

There is a darker side too, to the weight loss.  I work in a corporate culture that rewards folks that are more fit.  I look at the executives at my company and for right or wrong, those that are “going somewhere” within company are runners, cyclists, athletes all.  I am regaled with stories of seeing the CEO at hot yoga (hey, for me, any yoga is hot and sweaty), or the AVP in Human Resources that is running the half marathon and so on. It is painfully obvious what I need to do to get ahead at work.  Fuck the fact that I have basically taught myself Business Intelligence Applications development, SQL Server and SRSS while employed and underpaid there, now I got to lose 140 pounds too.

**DISCLAIMER – I work for a great company, with great people under me, peers and leadership; I am fortunate to have great mentors and friends there, I just hate the fact that is sometimes is surface over substance in some views.  The company itself is a caring, community minded leader on the cutting edge of what or mission, vision and values are, and am proud of the work I do and for who, truly I am.  I also  know who reads my blog **Truly, I need to lose the weight anyway, but I digress.  Pardon my venting.

Basically then week one of 40 while 40 saw some highs and lows, I went and got the photo of myself at valley of Fire like I wanted and posted last time, so I can cross that off my list.  I wrote a couple of thank you notes to some colleagues. That made me feel good, to foster a thankful attitude.  I also wrote the rough draft of the letter to bio dad.  So yes, I did not work out, but I can cross three things off and am on track with two others.

What to do now?  I am headed to the gym with my wife who was just Freshly Pressed (awesome, baby!) where I will put in some work on the bike and some abs.  Then a steam.  This week, I plan on really focusing on getting back into the gym and getting ready for a couple of events that fall on the same day 35 days from today.  My mid-week blog will be about the events, hold your breath.

Thanks for stopping by.

FACTS Week One:
Weight: 345
Letters / Thank Yous written:  3
Gym Visits: .75
Items crossed of 40 while 4 list to date:  1
Days without SmartPhone:  11


1,000 pages against 5 words

One time, when I was 16 years old and still a newb to climbing, my friends Steve and I started a climb at Storm Island Picnic Area in Big Cottonwood Canyon; it was a short, steep clean wall – set back on the island of rock and was not a huge draw.  At the time, we had no idea about climbing safety or any of that, as I said we were new.  I was lucky that I had a harness and rope at the time, little did we know of ‘beeners or draws at the time or how to use them, we utilized a body belay for hell sake.

I was on lead and about thirty feet up the sixty foot wall and I froze.  I was trapped.  I stood on what felt like the edges of a dime, and was barely holding onto the same with my fingertips, for what seemed like fifteen minutes.  Steve called out to me a few times, but I was trapped on a cliff, thirty feet up, thirty feet to go and I was going to die.  I knew it.  I couldn’t breathe, my muscles were getting ready to let go.  Steven decided the best course of action was to get above me and lower the rope to me so I could use it to go up or down.  Naïve as we were, I untied (not that the rope would have done me any good, we were not placing gear) and came off our silly-assed belay.  And waited. 

I waited with my thoughts, thinking if we could get a fire truck in here, or what Steve would tell my parents when I fell and died or even worse, what if I was hurt beyond fix?  Resigned to the wheelchair or something?  I realize now in that moment, I became aware of mortality, I had shed the youthful reckless abandon that we all face.  It was at that moment that I gave up on faith and religion and self-esteem.  I had gotten my own dumb ass into a situation I could not get out of and I was going to die.

I waited for Steve for another thirty minutes, I was trapped and wanted to scream.

Today, I feel the same way.  I am trapped.  Not by family or responsibility, but by the situations I have created for myself that I seem to not be able to get myself out of.  Primarily I am talking about three things, and they are intertwined.  My weight, my laziness and my self-esteem.  All three are perpetuating and feeding off of each other.  I am lazy, so I do not take my working out as serious as I once did, and that impacts my self-esteem; or, frighteningly enough, my self-esteem is low, so I am lazy and do not work out enough.  See, you can spin it either way, but it is a situation that has spiraled out of control and I am trapped and want to scream, because surely, this pattern is killing me, it is certainly impacting the moods of those around me, as they can no longer be happy either.

I write it here in a sort of honesty that I have reserved for the mirror late at night when I tell myself, I will do something about this, or I will start tomorrow.  I do, I usually hang on for about a week these days before sabotaging myself.  I find myself wondering what will Amanda do when she wakes up to me being dead?  What will she tell the kids?  My parents?

I have trapped myself so securely in fat and low esteem, that it is hard to be around me.  Hell, two of my kids did what they could to not be around me and that actually just kind of feeds the spiral.  I treasure the alone at the same time damn the silence of who I am.  I am fat so people automatically expect less of me.  I am not expected to perform at levels fit people do and for as long.

But that is not who I am inside the trapped body.  At heart, I am a one-hundred and seventy pound athlete about to turn the corner on his life at forty and make the next decade the best I have ever had.  I watch triathlon and think that I can do that.  But I can’t; I have built walls around myself to keep out the expectation and scared, these walls are made of sugar, gluten, fat and soda.  Sugar has been the cause of and solution to most of my life’s problems (so has alcohol, but I digress).  It has been a long fight with fat and for some time I was winning.

I had beaten one hundred and twenty pounds of fat back and was gaining confidence, but I have told that story and have rested on the laurels of what I have done enough in my life.  That is part of the trap I am in; I am only as good to someone as the last thing I have done.  And that is completely self-imposed.

I have an associate, in business that is humbly confident.  It is who he is.  It would be unfair to say that he hasn’t a care in the world, but he speaks and lives like he does not.  In response to someone winning over one-hundred thousand dollars compared to his one thousand, he replied, and this is totally him:

“Yeah, But I am 6’2” and you are only 5’9””

That is confidence; utter and unashamed.  I have tasted it before but all too briefly.  I am tired of being trapped, because I can feel the walls closing in.  Am I happy?  With certain aspects of my life absolutely.  I am in a committed marriage, with wonderful kids, but I have been reacting to them even as if they are pushing me away when it is I who is building up the walls against those who love me most and it is so unfair I have seriously considered disappearing.   For their benefit, not mine.

At least I tell myself that, but really, isn’t that just cowardice again?  Cowardice is part of a greater issue of being scared to release myself from the trap, and just puts up bigger barriers.  Besides, I may be going insane but I am not there yet, I would miss them too much to actually run off to Guatemala.

The good news is that getting this out is cathartic and I already feel better. For now.  No, a run around the block or a ride on the bike right now won’t help, but neither will brooding over it like I am want to do from time to time.  I am one of the lucky ones.  I have had the keys to happiness in my hands and know what I need to do to find my happy:

  • Actively play with the kids
  • Spend the small amounts of time I have with Amanda as quality, and less “Walking Dead” and “Dexter”
  • Engage my own active athletic burning desire in SMALL portions (join a co-ed softball team or something similar for starters)
  • Do something active, EVERY day – for at least 30 minutes
  • Go outside (this has always been a favorite) and share it with those I love, friends and family
  • Steer my career in the path I want it to go whether at C1B or outside of their culture.  Find my heart in my work, not theirs.
  • Blog more – but creatively and with joy, not depressing (this blog has sounded a little down, but  reading it and re-reading it, there is actually a lot of hope)
  • Be the Mr. Amazing that so many people believe I am or could be, and
  • For the love of all that is holy, stop living yesterday – live today and go get tomorrow.

I appreciate you joining me on the blog today, it had to get out I guess.  What was that?  How did my climb end?  Well, I am here today so I did not die…

Steve eventually risked his own neck, trail ran almost 2 miles and climbed up the backside of the cliff in thirty minutes and lowered the rope to me.  I was able to get down.  Shaky, scared and I cried.  I was alone, because Steve was still up on the cliff, but I was so sure I was going to die, that I cried.

We learned how to climb and as we gained experience that year, Steve wanted to go back and conquer that cliff, so we did.  We went back, he flashed it.  Took ten minutes to climb and then lower.  It was my turn on lead.  I got up thirty feet, but this time we had placed protection and I was a lot more secure in my ability and safety. 

But I got stuck.  The wall mentally beat me, and I was again trapped.  I could not go up, but I could go down, Steve lowered me and again, the wall beat me.  I vowed never to go back and that actually dictated a lot of my life and many of the ways I have been since.  Steve became the better climber because we kept climbing the same things over and over, he got better and I just stayed flat.  I was not challenging myself, but I was not failing either.  Over the next decade of my life, my relationship with most things would be defined by this odd quirk in Steve and my relationship.  I was always the guy that would talk to the girls, Steve would bed them.  I mean the same girls I had just warmed up for him.  Steve was always better than me in my mind.  He and I climbed on and off for a few years, but not as much.  We still hung out and partied weekly, but no climbing.

Two years later, I met another climber, David Pope and we climbed the stuff I had climbed and he got bored.  When we met he had not climbed much and I crushed him, but within weeks he was my speed and maybe a little better.  We started climbing things that were way beyond us and numerous times I was eating dirt.  But his confidence and easy going grace kept it fun, and I never felt like it was something I was working at. 

Eventually Steve wanted to go climbing with me again.  I took him on a few new routes and he floundered.  He was a third the climber he had use to be, and half the climber I had become.  I wanted him to keep climbing with me, so I thought long and hard; our old cliff.  I didn’t want to, in my heart.  I knew it was an easy climb for Steve, but it was hard work for me.

We went to Storm Island and Steve went first, he struggled a little but not much, his old form was coming back.  Before I wanted it to be, it was my lead.  I tied in and was on belay.  I shut down my mind and my fears and saw only the rock, as I had taught myself over the last six months of hard climbing.  I saw the small imperfections in the rock and new right away, this cliff was my bitch this time.  Before I knew it I was standing on top and hardly realized I had sailed this bitch.  I did something then I have done few times since, I raised my fist in the air, jumped up and yelled out at the top of my lungs, “ALLEZ! Mother fucker!”  It was stupid, but a moment when all my walls and assumptions of the world had fallen for a few moments of ecstasy.

I need to find that.  That place, that moment, that feeling so I can once again scream

ALLEZ!  Mother fucker!

Version 2-Paleo, Crossfit and Rain

Generals know that it is very difficult to gain back ground once it is lost.  I completely understand this comment. Welcome to my new and improved blog.  Yes, yes, we have heard it all before, Mike gets a wild hair up his ass, and re-invents something. Let’s all see if this will stick.

Back to my original point and to catch everyone up to speed.  Here is the last two and one-half years, hopefully in order:

Divorce, 375 pounds (or so), near suicidal, Alex moves in with me, become bike commuter, lose 75 pounds, meet best woman in the world, hike, hike some more, lose an additional 25 pounds, begin C25K, lose additional; 25 pounds, move in with best woman in the world, Alex moves back to Salt Lake City, plateau in weight loss at 250, get engaged, discover pregnant, change wedding plans, get married, have baby, realize I had gained back 40 pounds, commit to losing, realize gained back 10 more pounds, get told by two very important people (my tattoo artist/friend and the best woman in the world) in two different ways not to give up, decide to talk less about what I want to do and do more, realize I had hit 316.6 pounds again.  August 1st comes

Phew, all of that in two and one-half to three years.  It has been a whirlwind and I am excited.  August 1st I made the decision that I was still in charge and if I truly wanted to run triathlon, I needed to do something drastic, so Amanda and I decided to eat cleanly, 90% of the time, following the Paleo method of eating AND recommitting to my fitness obsession.  It has been working, since August 1st, I have lost 18 pounds on the dot.  Yes, a lot of that was the dreaded “bloat” weight, but it is staying off and that is cool.  That is where I am today.

I am hoping this blog, instead of being about my bucket list or my want to do, it is going to become about the things I DID and how I got there.  There is a difference.  I WILL talk about goals and planning, but more about the journey now as opposed to the ideas.  I can’t be the worst blogger I know any longer, I am too fucking creative.  I have also been inspired by two other bloggers, RunningForDummies and PetiteAthleat.  These ladies are pretty amazing in their own way, so go check out their blog.  Of course, I can’t be a total ass and shout out for two blogs by women without giving mad props to my own wife’s blog, about her own journey (of a different nature, more ho to housewife than a road to Kona), SouthernFriedinVegas.  She is hilarious, go check her out.  Just click there.

One of the first things I am doing, is ensuring that at my 24 Hour Fitness, I am attending Group X Body Pump classes, so that will start this week, watch for a blog on that.  The other thing, and this is very strange indeed for me, is that I am thinking about trying some Crossfit.  I know, right?  Those that know me, know I have a burning goofy and unfounded vitriol for these folks.  The NASCAR of the fitness world; but, Crossfit of Henderson is opening soon just down the road from me, and I drive by it daily. I am trying to get an opportunity to use it for a few weeks just to see what this Crossfit is, from the inside!  It is hard not to look for Paleo recipes and not be inundated with Crossfitters and their socks and their WOD and their “Hurts so good”.  I called them the NASCAR of fitness, but they are more the Tony Robbins of fitness.  I have dogged on them, maybe out of jealousy (?), so I decided I need to see what is to it.  I weigh 298, so I may die.  Truly, I am a little bit afraid of this workout, but I am told

Don’t worry Mike, Crossfit is Scalable”

 Um, OK?  Is that supposed to make me feel better?  How about you promise me I won’t die or you won’t kill me and we both win.

If you look close, you can see the ACTUAL streaks of rain

It is a rainy day here in Henderson, I am at home sick, so I baked.  My biggest problem with Paleo is baking, especially Pancakes, more on that in another post, so I decided to make some Paleo cookies, using a very basic recipe that I modified.  Below is that recipe.  The cookie was amazing.  Debbie Fields or that Famous Amos guy have no worries, but for the first time, I have found a Paleo baking recipe I can sink my teeth into, literally.  The recipe I modified called for a lot of grapeseed oil, so next time I may cut that back.  These end up being about 90 calories, and make about two and one-half dozen, they are pretty damn good though, even with the higher than I would like calorie (for such a small cookie).  For someone new to Paleo, you have to learn right away that this is not a low-calorie fad, it is a way of living that is rough, but you feel so good.  And things like these cookies make it a touch easier.


MMMM, can you smell them?

2 ½ C Almond Flour (meal)
½ t Baking Powder
½ t Sea Salt
1 Cup Dark Chocolate (or carob) chips
3T Powdered Peanut Butter (there will be a whole blog post about this; I use “Just Great Stuff” Brand)
1T Vanilla
½ C GrapeSeed Oil
½ C Agave Maple Syrup

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment.  Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl, the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.  Just use a fork, no need for the blender on this, Almond Meal doesn’t bunch up like flour.  Combine the wet into the dry.  And reach into the bowl with your clean hands and grab about 2T worth of dough, it will be a touch oily and seem wet, but its cool, you are looking for a wad of dough about the size just smaller than a ping pong ball.  Drop it onto the cookie sheet and either flatten a little or not (they don’t seem to fall like a traditional cookie while cooking, so smash them if you like thin and crispy).  Pop them into the oven for no more than 7-8 minutes tops. Set out to cool and then eat, enjoy.  The kids will love these too. Have a couple with a banana and you have a great power snack for a rainy day.

Thanks for coming by, follow me on Twitter at 360nomore or email at 360nomore@gmail.com