Perception is Reality

The person who I am is not the person you think I am.

That pretty much says it all, but it’s a fact of life that I believe.

Trying to align perception and reality is a tiring task. So, I have chosen to focus my energy as much as I can on being me and not trying to shape who others think that is.

I am 6’2″ and weigh close to 300 pounds, I have a loud speaking voice and when I believe in something strongly I will hold that belief until someone convinces me it is wrong.

That gets interpreted by some as me being an arrogant bully. That’s their perception and they have the right to believe that.

I was told by my first professional mentor that if you’re not trying to eliminate the need for your job or the job’s of the people on your team, you’re probably not doing the right thing. The ideal outcome is that if you work that way that you will increase you and your team’s value to the organization through the ability of your team to contribute incrementally to the organization.

The less than ideal outcome is that you end up eliminating your own job or your team’s jobs. Unfortunately that might be what happens, but it doesn’t make it the wrong thing to do.

This gets interpreted by some as me not having respect for the work they do or the value they currently bring. I have spent a ton of hours explaining to people that is not the case and that the intent is to increase their value constantly.

Not everyone sees that and some don’t want that because they are happy doing what they currently do.

I’ll continue to invest the time explaining that to people because I care. Regardless of what I say, some people’s perception of me will never change.

Some people know me for the person who I think I am.

I think I am a physically big individual with a metaphorically big heart who cares a lot about what other people think.

I really want people to be happy.

I like to debate, but hate to argue.

I am driven to make everything I touch better.

I love my family and friends first, my work is a distant second and myself a close third.

So maybe who I think I am is who you think I am, but I never percieve that to be the case in anyone.

That may be my unfortunate reality.

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Diets and Excercise are BS

Remember that above all I believe that all people are different, that not everything will work the same for everyone. Also, while I walk the halls today with some of the greatest doctors in the world, I am definitely not one of them.

I do believe however as the topic states that diets and exercise are absolutely without a doubt bullspit.

When I was a junior in high school I was by far in the best shape of my life. At the peak of my physical fitness I weighed 275 pounds, could bench press 525 pounds, squatted over 1,200 pounds, could slam dunk a basketball and ran a 4.89 40-yard dash. However, my progress was stopped in its tracks by a torn ACL, MCL and LCL in my left knee.

By my senior year of football I had got most of my upper body strength back, but my legs were never the same. By the end of my senior year of football I was down under 250 pounds and ran one more 40 under 5 seconds at a recruiting trip at Northern Michigan.

I heard the same from every one of the coaches that recruited me though, I was an offensive lineman and I needed to get my weight to 300 plus. I ultimately got up to 320 by my first day on the field at St. Cloud State University in St Cloud, MN. The third day on the field, before I even got to wear shoulder pads in college I got my knee rolled over, tore my ACL and I was out of football for good. Subsequently I gave up working out for the most part too and would not see under 300 pounds on the scale for over 20 years.

At my worst I weighed somewhere between 450 and 500 pounds, I once saw the scale register 479 and at that point pretty much avoided scales unless I was in a doctor’s office, which eventually became a regular occurrence. I found myself diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, chronic back pain and chronic joint pain. In November of 2008 I was taking 13 pills a day for all my ailments.

It was also in November of 2008 that I started working at Mayo Clinic. When I interviewed I was wearing a size 58 inch waist pants and was somewhere between 350 and 400 pounds. Shortly after starting I took a health assessment and there was something that prompted me to say I wanted help, and that help came in a phone call from a disease management nurse. Her name was Bonnie.

Little by little she helped me make better choices. She encouraged me to go to my doctor on a regular basis. She encouraged me to start eating better breakfasts. She encouraged me to monitor my blood sugars. She encouraged me to see a dietician and then a doctor specializing in diets by the name of Dr Donald Hensrud. Dr Hensrud encouraged me to by a bigger salad bowl.

Bonnie encouraged me to make better choices at lunch and then at dinner. Bonnie got me to take the clothes and boxes off the treadmill and go for a walk. I still remember it like it was yesterday; 0 incline, 3.0 mph, 30 minutes. I was sweating like crazy, my heart was pounding, my feet and my back hurt; but I got back to it two days later and every other day for a while. Eventually it was every day and eventually the treadmill at home couldn’t get to an incline or speed that were challenging for me without feeling like it was going to break.

Eventually salads were more frequently served at the dinner table and I still remember the day you told me at the age of two that your favorite food was a salad. Mine is still vanilla ice cream with almost equal parts crunchy peanut butter, and I know your tastes have evolved past your statement that salads were your favorite food.

Today as I write this I fit in a size 42 inch waist pair of pants and I take two pills a day. I am getting ready to run a half marathon memorial day weekend and will do four triathlons followed by a late fall half marathon this year. You love talking about Buffalo, that’s where I tried and failed at my first triathlon, but I went on to finish two more last year and can’t wait to kick that courses butt in Buffalo, MN this year.

You might have just read that thinking, why does my dad feel diets and exercise are bullspit because they sure seem to have made a difference in his life.

It’s very simple, I failed at diets and exercise, but I finally succeeded when I chose to live life right.

I chose to make better food choices part of what I do, and part of who I am.

It’s not a diet, it’s not a journey, it’s living right.

I chose to make swimming, running and biking part of what I do to take care of myself, to live to see you live your life as long as I possibly can.

I failed at diets, I started and stopped exercising. I will not willingly stop living and I chose to live life right.

To be continued……

Politics, Religion and The Green Bay Packers

Over the years I have heard it said in different ways and in different situations that if you want to avoid confrontation, argument or heated discussion avoid the topics of politics, religion and the Green Bay Packers.  The third topic is one that I generally do not shy away from especially when around Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears fans; however when it comes to religion and politics I do tend to avoid those conversations.

I keep to myself because even at this point in my life I am not sure what to say about the topics, I don’t hold hard and fast on either topic to what my beliefs are, to some that is an issue.  For me, it’s just who I am.

When it comes to politics I don’t vote along party lines, I have tried to look at what the individual stances of the candidate are and make my decisions based on that.  I fully admit that it becomes more difficult all the time to separate the party from the person, but at least in every presidential election there has been one thing or another that has swayed my vote on an individual.

When it comes to local elections where it has been more difficult to know who the candidates are as individuals, I generally have never voted for an incumbent.  My logic behind this is pretty simple, I believe that a blend of individual perspectives is much better than a continued single stream of thought and I believe that in almost every situation.

A caveat to all of it, if I get a call from any politician after 9pm or they bother me at home they generally do not get my vote.  Some will call that a waste of a vote, but it’s my choice on how I vote.  It’s a right that my Grandpa B fought for and I believe in.

So what else to I believe in when it comes to things of a political nature.  Very simply I believe in individual freedoms.  I don’t have a strong opinion of how much government is too little or too much, because I think every situation and every time may have a different answer.  I would loosely compare this to being your dad, I generally want to let you always make your own choices; but when you don’t know enough about something I need to know that and know when to help you out.  People in general, including me, don’t always know what is best for them and I hope that government realizes where that is the case in situations where they can help.

In addition to the privilege of freedom, I also look for government to ensure our safety.  I’m honestly more concerned about our domestic safety and local law enforcement than the need for us to play the world police, but I’m not sure how the good old US of A can get out of that position.  In the recent years I think that a lot of good has happened from US involvement in foreign conflicts, but I think the cost of all that good has yet to be seen.

Then there’s religion.  I went to Catholic schools from 1st grade through high school.  I stopped going mass regularly when I was 13 years old because I couldn’t get my head around the fact that people felt they could break any of the then commandments and by going into a closet and telling a priest that they did it, asking the priest for forgiveness and then saying a few prayers they were forgiven. I still don’t quite get it and I know I’m oversimplifying, but I’m a simple person.

I also got asked to stop coming to theology classes in 10th grade when I started challenging the interpretation of bible stories based on other stories within the bible.  My theology teacher said that I had the best grasp of the bible that she had ever seen and that I was taking away from her ability to teach the other students who didn’t have that level of understanding.

Both of those things probably would give you the impression that I am anti-religion or anti-catholic, but that’s not the case at all.  Very much like politics I feel people have choices when it comes to religion including the choice to not have one.

Do I believe in a higher power, greater meaning to life, that there is something beyond our time on earth? I kind of hope so, but I want to make the best out of the life I have here on earth just in case there is not. What I think is important was kind of encapsulated in a quote I saw this week:

The quote might lead some to think they have my political and religious stances figured out and that is their choice to think what they want to.

I hope your mom and I give you the freedom to choose and the exposure and experiences to have the ability to choose when it comes to politics, religion and anything else. Although I’ll do everything within my power to hopefully make sure you choose the Green Bay Packers.

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