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……

My Trip to Mayo Clinic

Part of what college is supposed to do is prepare you for the real world.  My path to my degree from the University of Minnesota was nothing compared to my path to Mayo Clinic.  It  only took me three colleges to get a degree, it took me 46 jobs to find Mayo Clinic.

Twenty-two of those jobs were at eight companies between my degree and my current job at Mayo Clinic.  I was fortunate enough to be able to choose every single one of those jobs and I do feel blessed for having the opportunity to make those choices.

My first job out of school was in marketing and I truly enjoy the mix of science and creativity that is marketing. However, when I was presented the opportunity to shift to new product development I had little idea how much that would change my career direction.  I found even more challenge in developing products to fit market needs than in just figuring out the best way to get people to buy those products.

I continued to find ways to challenge myself and one of those was in changing market focus. My first product development focus was direct to consumer products and services, but after a few short years with a consumer market focus I was given the opportunity to develop and grow new products for businesses.  This shift in market also represented my first opportunity to grow a business from the ground up, starting with just me as an employee and moving to  a staff of 50+ and filled roles from customer service through business development was an amazing experience.

Growing this new business was the longest I was ever in a single job but the company chose to move out of the market. In retrospect it really was a good thing that the company moved on, because if it had not I probably never would have made the choice to leave and I may have never ended up where I am today.

My next stop was doing international marketing and product development.  I really loved working internationally and saw parts of the world I would have never expected to see, but that much travel was not in the cards once we decided to have you.

I got a call from a recruiter about the same time we found out you were on your way, the new job was a combination of sales, product development and marketing.  The job only lasted six months though, because the company was not a good fit.  I left that job right before you were born and I got to spend maternity leave with you and your mom. I wouldn’t have traded the experience of spending the first weeks of your life with you for the world.

When it came time to go back to work, my next step in my career was a step back because I had finally decided I wanted to focus on doing something that meant something to me personally more than moving up in the business world.  I took a job in product development and worked on a product that impacted people that I respect a lot.  It was a great product and a great opportunity and I even managed to move into management within a few short months of starting there so the step back did not last long.  Unfortunately, with all the pluses there I still had the feeling that I was missing something.

That feeling came almost simultaneously with the call from Mayo Clinic and when I finally took the job I could have never fathomed how my life was about to change  for the better in so many ways.


Blue Collar Values – White Collar Humility

I have at last count had 46 jobs in my lifetime, starting with my first experience as an entrepreneurial lemonade stand owner through my current role with Mayo Clinic; where I hope some day to retire from.

I have learned a lot from each and every job I have had; however the most significant lesson I have learned is that I am embarrassed to call what I do today work.

Today, I work primarily in conference rooms and at a desk in front of a computer.

At thirteen I was cleaning up vomit in a bar in the mornings before school.

I eventually graduated to washing dishes and cooking in a bar restaurant, which actually contributed to my love of cooking and an eventual 58 inch waist. I even spent five years bouncing in a bar where I got vomited on a couple of times, I promise that’s my last vomit reference for this post.

Before my bar worker career though; I bailed hay, picked stones, cleaned up yards, dug through garbage cans to collect cans, stocked shelves in a grocery store, cleaned a welding shop, changed oil, cleaned mechanic tools, mowed lawns, delivered newspapers, did my chores at home and that’s not even a comprehensive list.

So when I left my football career behind I was not scared to leave the sheltered life of a collegiate athlete and join the working world while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

I immediately went back to the glamorous life of a small town bar bouncer, which I eventually quit after getting my ass kicked by a men’s softball team. However, bouncing did not pay the rent even at my Grandma Feyen’s house so I had to find daytime work too.

I first went to work in a metal fabrication shop where I operated a drill press drilling holes into boat motor mounts and on more exciting days got to work a saw cutting pieces of tube aluminum for deer stands.

I do have a scar on the back of my hand from when I brought the saw down on it. Who knew drinking while bouncing until two in the morning before running a large saw starting at six would be a bad combo.

I eventually was lured away from metal fabricating to working in a small foundry that did boat motor castings. I was a ladle handler which essentially meant in 120 degree building I would spoon 50 pounds of molten aluminum out of a furnace and carry it 20 feet to pour into a cast, walk back and repeat. When I was lucky I would get a break to work on the shaker team which broke up the casts to pull out the finished product. At the end of the day I was covered from head to toe in a black soot like substance. That was my shortest tenured job ever, I lasted two weeks.

I thankfully had been offered a job in a feed mill where I got to clean out huge bins full of moldy soy beans, clean out drain gutters full mixed moldy feed, bag animal feed by hand and eventually got my commercial drivers license.

After I got the license I was eligible for driving a dump truck with a conveyor for cleaning out corn cribs. I would get out of the mill and in temperatures from 120 degrees to minus 20 degrees be out shoveling corn. I would then drive back to the mill where I got to empty out the corn, turn it into feed and then take the finished product back in bags or a bulk feed truck where at times I got to crawl into attics of barns to spread out the feed. At the end of the day I was usually covered in dust from the feed.

I made it through a couple of years there before being lured away by a drywall distributor. There I was driving a boom truck which had a crane for picking up piles of drywall which me and a team member got to handle piece by piece to haul into new homes, existing homes and various commercial construction sites in all kinds of weather. I eventually graduated to more bulk deliveries where I didn’t have to handle every piece and at times got the chance to manage the warehouse. This is where I learned management has it easy.

It was about at this time too, that I had started back to school part time at your mothers urging. I was initially planning on majoring in English and becoming a high school teacher and football coach; but I had been bit by the business management bug.

I ultimately quit my job at the drywall distributor to get work near the university so I could go back to school full time and work full time. While I was in school I did a bit of driving for a lumberyard. However, my management experience had spoiled me with the idea of temperature controlled environments so while in college I worked at a truck stop, auto parts warehouse and did phone sales. I did eventually do door to door sales to, but only during the summer.

So back to my earlier comment, I am embarrassed to call what I do today work compared to what I know other people do for a living.

I know it drives me to do more and it often drives me to spend time reflecting when I think I had a rough day. My hands are callous free these days, but I still see the callouses there when I do reflect and it makes me appreciate life and all people more.

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