Fat runner. Oxy-moron or real life scenario?

I dedicate this post to anyone who has consumed ice cream, potato chips, cold pizza (hell, you pick the poison) just before they go to bed.  If you have done this once or twice, you’ll know the voice that echoes in your head as you cram food in your face…it’s ok, eat some more, we’ll run a little extra tomorrow!  Yeah, right.

I am a fat runner (first step is admitting it).  I know, it sounds like an oxy-moron, but it’s true.  Although I haven’t run for two weeks (I am running after this article posts); I am running in my 7th ½ marathon in October, my blood pressure is in a good place and I have a solid collection of medals, but I am 235 pounds.  The weight thing wouldn’t be bad if I was 6’5”, but I am 5’10”, so…yes, I am a fat runner.

A few weeks ago I figured out that balance isn’t something you can find, it’s something that you have to choose.  My previous search for balance had been tailored to managing the “career world” and creating my escape from the corporate hamster wheel (you know the drill…stop the long hours, spend more time with the family, stop checking email at 10pm at night).  I’ve found new ways to make more balanced choices relative to work, so now I am embarking on a new and more challenging quest, the quest to squash the pleasures of late night eating.

I might be in the minority with this weakness, so if this whole topic seems completely foreign to you, please come by my house around 11pm on a random Thursday night and you’ll find me asleep on the couch (this is where the problem starts).  I put my 3 angelic maniacs to bed around9pmand once they go to bed, I go to the couch.  The TV goes on for some mind numbing entertainment and within 20 minutes of my newly found “peace and quiet”, I am out cold.  Phase II of my problem sets in approximately 1 hour after falling asleep.  I stir on the couch, wake up and notice that it’s11pmand I realize that I have to get up at 530am, so I exit the couch and head to bed.  This is decision time.

Once I rub my eyes, stretch a bit and get off the couch, I have a choice.  Go left- through the living room with a clear shot to the stairs and a direct line of sight to the comfort of my king size bed or…go right, through the kitchen and force myself to pass the food corridor of hell.  Who are we kidding?  I go right 7 out of 10 times.  This horrible decision took place, again, last night and as I ate a chunk of chocolate, dipped in peanut butter (my fat guy genes told me that it was totally cool because I needed the protein from the peanut butter and the calories from the chocolate to fuel my muscle healing).  My inner marathon voice shouted, mid-chew, “hey, jackass- why don’t we run once in 9 days before you decide to cram homemade peanut butter cups down our throat at11pm”

The fat guy genes prevailed on Friday night…I ate 3 more pieces of chocolate.

So, I’m off to run this morning and am looking for ways to condition myself to stay out of the kitchen at night, working toward becoming a runner who doesn’t have to run simply to burn off the calories from the mid night food bender that so often plagues me.

Enjoy your weekend and I hope to report in the weeks to come that I have found a way to defeat the late night eating demons and can work toward becoming a “less than fat” runner.

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The original Larry Furlow is the %$#*

I am a good father (if I don’t say so myself) and I’ve become a pretty good brother, friend and husband too.

When I was growing up, like most kids my age; I loved to run around with friends, play sports, ride bikes, swim at the neighbourhood pool and we always (come summer time) made it home by dinner.

If you haven’t met my Mom, you’d dig this lady.  She is creative, organized, driven and she did a pretty good job of cooking too.  Sorry Mom, it wasn’t the food that I was getting home for on time.  I was getting home on time to take part in a sacred ritual that took place each week day night between6pmand 630pm.  I played a critical part in this “ritual” with another person in my life and it was our show time each night just prior to dinner.  The other person I refer to would walk in the front door (smiling) lay his brief case on the dining room table, he would migrate to the fridge and hammer down a beer, deliver hugs to 4 other people and then “we” (this dude and I) would head up stairs for the nightly ritual of changing clothes, talk about my day, put on cut off jean shorts and a t-shirt and then we would head back down stairs to spend time with those “other 4 people”.

The summers rolled along and those “adventures of changing clothes” slowed to a halt.  I was getting older and spending more time with my friends.  School became really important to me (not the academics, the social aspect…we are talking 6th, 7th & 8th grade – come on people).  I made my travel soccer team, the junior high school football team, the basketball team and I even gave a whirl at running track.  Soccer had always been in our family because the dude I referred to in the second paragraph coached all of my teams.  He taught me how to work hard on a field, how to care about winning and how to be a team-mate, so when I tried out for the track team (not really a try out, more of…show up, put on uncomfortable running shoes and listen to the coach), he smiled because he had been a runner while growing up.  My first track meet, of course, he was in the stands watching (he’d been at every other event in my life- that’s how he rolled) and I was fired up.  The starter’s gun went off for the 220- I’m old enough that we ran in yards, not meters and being as lightning fast as I was, I started from lane 8.  Post gun shot, I took off like a bat out of hell and I did what any other slow runner would do, I played the damn angle.  I cut across 7 other lanes of running traffic and worked my way to lane 1 (and the lead) and then got passed by 7 other frustrated runners a few seconds later who knew I had just destroyed the cardinal rule of track and field, but I didn’t care.  For a split second, I was winning that race and my inadvertent cheating only made the dude in the stands smile.  After the humiliating bus ride back to my junior high school, he was there to offer me a hug and we laughed about how to stay in my own damn lane for the next race (my track career ended after my 8th grade season…shocker, I know).

As high school came into swing, he helped host parties, pick me up from friend’s pools (wearing very loud plaid pants and creating a bit of a drama fest, but everyone of my friends had to talk to the dude in the pastel pants).  This man cried with me when I lost a friend to a heart attack our senior year of high school and he supported me when most people wouldn’t have.  Here is a highlight list from high school; broken window at the basketball game, egging houses, fights at baseball fields and my all time favourite; “Mr. Furlow, there’s a man on the phone who says he has Travis… “Who is he Aaron?”  “Uh, he’s a police officer”… “Jesus Christ, alright…go back to having your “sleep over” Aaron, I’ll get him.”  Yep, we had some fun in high school (and by support me, I mean “ground me”, but he never beat me, which was a positive, right?

On to marriage and grown up life.  He told me to always put my wife first, as he had with my mother.  He supported me through my career decisions and it makes him proud of his boys to talk about career growth and life goals over 2000 calorie breakfasts on the deck in northernMichigan.  His advice has generally been rejected (right out of the gate), but then it marinates for a while and then I realize how good the advice has been and I put it to work (generally solving the original problem).  Through that frustrating process he could have stopped offering advice, but he didn’t…and he let me mature to a point where I now offer that same advice (maybe not with as much patience) to my children.

I am a good father, because he is.  I am a good husband, because he is.  I am a good son, friend, and contributor to our community, because he is.

In short; I wouldn’t be me, without him.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

I finally found it…

This is my last blog post on “finding balance” and although I haven’t decided if I’m going to shut down the entire blog, www.stopthechase.wordpress.com , or keep writing on the blog site with more random articles, let me share what took place this morning that sparked my decision.

I have been blogging for almost three years and as you’ve heard in other posts, the genesis of my writing hobby was an “industry blog” in 2008 while I was managing a start-up Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) division for a privately held staffing company inMichigan.  Blogging had become hyper popular as a means to connect with people through experiential writing, so my team assumed that these sales prospects would read about the great service offerings our firm designed and provided and they’d be dying to do business with us and from these articles we’d sell hundreds of RPO relationships, make millions of dollars and I’d retire before 50.  That was the plan and yes, I fell a “wee bit short” of executing on said plan.

Anyway- my original blog pages (furlowsopinion.wordpress.com & fearlessleadership.wordpress.com) focused on illuminating the lives of business professionals around our industry and after a dozen articles I realized that I had slowly transitioned my writing style from industry blogger to a wannabe Dr. Phil who spent his time airing the challenges and concerns of navigating life.  Although airing my personal challenges was and continues to be therapeutic, it also made a number of my friends and family whisper behind closed doors and I’m sure it had prospective clients reading through and thinking, “he seems to really understand talent acquisition strategies and I like his perspective on what makes for solid client delivery, but wow, he needs to lie on a couch somewhere and work out his issues”.

Flash forward a few years and my writing continues to grow.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have fallen in love with the process of writing and having been a fairly creative kid, it made sense that I would enjoy writing and creating, but as so many of us have done, I enabled the standard bullshit of life (peer pressure, popularity and a few other things) to step in the way of pursuing any of these dreams.  This is where I would typically insert something about my deep insecurities and how I was too afraid to be “me” and how I let society force my hand in becoming an un-opinionated fair weather soul for most of my early years who was “liked” by most, but was unable to find his true calling.  See, my writing has done some really solid work on my psyche, hasn’t it?  Continuing on…the good news is my writing and some coaching has helped me embrace more of who I am and who I want to be as a person.  I might not “love” to work, but I do enjoy working toward being “good” at everything I do.  I enjoy the learning and effort it takes to pick up new concepts and I’ll generally work hard enough to get to the point of comfortable knowledge and then I get bored and look for something else to learn (which starts the process all over again).  I used to hate this trait, but now I love it because it’s fuelled a fire to continue pushing and learning.  I also like a bit of chaos/adrenalin in life and working in the RPO space had afforded me that fix too, but now as I embarked on becoming more authentic and have spent time and energy on activities like meditation, executive coaching and very honest reflection, which helped motivate me to focus on “finding” balance.  The first step was to leave an organization I had been with for 4 years and get back into a more mature and corporate professional role, knowing it would enable me to stay focused on one area of my business and keep my life pointed in the right direction.  The second step was to create the new blog site and begin writing, so I created stopthechase.wordpress.com and began writing about my search for balance and a number of other Dalai Lama’esque behaviors.

I thought everything was lining up appropriately and my 2010 career change completely backfired.  It became an overwhelming role and proved to be a test of how much I really wanted to find the elusive life balance.  As my career responsibilities quickly grew and the scope of my job changed I spent more time expecting that balance could be found if I kept looking for it.  I looked every freaking spot a person could…under the table (nope, not there), in the backyard (nope, not there either) at the local bar, golf course, vacation spot, long weekend with the family and my children’s events (and nope- none of those places helped me find the balance I searched for).  Everywhere I expected to “find” balance, I’d come up empty and would pout back to working 70 hours per week.   This career backfire had me busy enough that I stopped writing, which felt logical at the time, but deep down I was pissed off.

I stuck out this career move for a year, but it got to a point where I decided to make some bold changes in early 2011 and quit my job.  I decided to make more balanced choices like…normal work hours, productive time management, regular attendance at family events, parties with friends, running more regularly and all of it felt pretty good.  My new career started in March of 2011 and the first two months were a decompression of sorts, so as I drove into work this morning (Monday, June 13) I noticed that I felt very refreshed (more so than I’ve been in years) and I had just come off a busy weekend where we spent time with almost everyone we know; my wife, my kids, my parents, in-laws, brother, sister-in-law, nieces and the list goes on.  I shouldn’t feel refreshed I kept telling myself.  Life tells me that I should be tired, irritated about not having a longer weekend and pissed about going into a job that I’ll have to hold for another 36 years -according to my financial planner.

Ironically, I wasn’t pissed.  That’s when it sunk in.  I reflected back over the last 4 months of my new role and the choices I’ve been making.  There have been plenty of scenarios that could have prohibited me from achieving balance and I haven’t bowed down to any of them so far (as I have done from 1995-2010).  The new structure of my job, the early pressure of performing, the overloading feeling of our family schedule, the need for social interaction with friends could have all derailed my balance, but they haven’t.  Why?  Because I chose everything that I’m experiencing now.  Good, bad or indifferent!  For the first time I’ve firmly wrapped my arms around something regarding finding balance.  Finding balance is an oxy-moron!  Choosing balance is the only way to obtain it.  Choosing balance is a tough set of repeated behaviors that run against the grain of our traditional societal norms.  Yes, my emails are still ploughing in, but after 5pm they’ll have to wait until 730am the following morning and yes, I still work in a misunderstood industry, but I’m choosing to find the beauty in putting people to work for a living, which has helped me to be more honest and compassionate with the people I come in contact with daily.  I am communicating more clearly with everyone and have begun to realize that making these so called “balanced choices” is leaving more time in my day and I’m all around a more productive person because of them.

Think about all of the scenarios we experience daily and how many of them require personal choices.  The smile or frown on your face is a choice, the run you might take is a choice, the bad mood you might want to stay in is a choice and the way you treat people is a choice.  There isn’t anything overly complicated about it; in fact, it is a pretty easy concept to live by.  If you want balance, peace and happiness, then choose it.  I know it sounds cliché, but it is true and it’s why my blog content needs to change.  I’m not looking for or trying to find balance…for the first time in my professional life, I’ve chosen it and I’ll continue to do so regardless of where I work or what I do for a living. 

More to come in the future and I wish you all well.

Growing Up or Living Life…you choose!

I graduated from high school in 1991, so yes- this is the month (two decades ago) that I graduated from Dearborn High and a group of my friends & classmates began the last summer of work free, party heavy and sleep-in summer vacation.  The weather was about the same 20 years ago (hot and humid), I was still pretty insecure, I felt too fat to walk around in a bathing suit (but weighed 30 pounds less than I do today) and I loved being around friends, playing sports, drinking beer and working out religiously.  It was about this time in my life that I heard more than my fair share of…it’s time to grow up and it’s time to get serious, which I smile about now.

 

A ton has changed in 20 years and my perspective on life has completely changed.  Some might say I have grown up, but I know I have a long way to go in that regard and candidly, am starting to feel that growing up is code word for act boring, stop living life and succumb to the rat race that so many others have jumped on to.  How has my perspective on life changed?  Well, I am married and have three children, which has been a bit of a “game changer”.  Additionally, and self admitted- I like cutting the grass and watering the lawn almost as much as I enjoy going out (sad, but true).  And finally, as my wife and I run around screaming at kids to shut doors, turn off lights, pick up cloths and a host of other annoying grown up behaviors that were bestowed on us by the “parent fairy” I guess we have, in fact, grown up and now it’s my job to help my kids grow up too.

 

As I thought about “growing up” and what it means in our society, I immediately thought about my great grandmother and what a cool lady she was.  She lived in a small town in northwesternMichiganand was married to a man who worked theGreatLake’s freighters.  She had a beautiful old home that is still in the family and as a child I would have bet plenty of money that their home was a 10,000 square foot mansion.  As I got older, I realized that she raised her family in a tight, modest home with creaky floors, warped walls and a well to provide water to the home (not really a home that would have made it on MTV’s Cribs), but as a kid, I loved it.  Funny too, I look back and there wasn’t a whole lot of growing up from my great grandmother’s clan.  They loved to party when we would visit for the summer and proof of this affinity for youthful behavior would be the clock that hung in the kitchen and read, “no drinking before 5” and all the numbers on the clock were 5’s.

 

I remember Grandma Louise telling me that she walked by the mirror and was shocked by the old woman’s reflection because she never felt older than 16 or 17.  It was as if her soul had been frozen in time and her body decided to pick up the toll for the years of hard work, raising a family and yes, some boozing and smoking.  My great grandmother died in her sleep (years ago) at 87, which isn’t a bad way to go by most accounts.  And as I reflect on my life, I’d love to think that she had the whole idea of “living life” figured out.

 

I know that most of us have more responsibility as we age, but we do get to choose if we want to feel 16 or 17 or if we want to “feel and act” our current age. 

 

I still have a long way to go until 87, but at 38 I’m shocked by how many of us believe growing up means discontinuing a youthful spirit.  We will shock ourselves in the mirror someday and I hope we’ll choose to feel 16 or 17 too, as my great grandmother did.  Feeling young, acting young and embracing what we had years ago isn’t immature, it’s a great way to keep life in perspective.  Exercise more, power down a late night breakfast on occasion and yes, I’ll promise to not walk around in a bathing suit (until this running thing really irons out some of the mess my beer drinking and late night breakfast eating has created over the last twenty years), but you get the point.  Growing up doesn’t have to mean stop living and I’m going to make sure that I stop telling my kids to “grow up” and will begin telling them to “live life”.  They’ll grow up on their own terms and hopefully they too will feel youthful for years to come.