Monday, July 21, 2014

Where I'm at (bluntly)

I'm a candid guy, and am comfortable being honest with myself.  I don't hold back when describing the shortcomings of others; nor do I hold back in evaluating myself.

Here's an evaluation of 2014 thus far.

It sucks.

On multiple fronts.

Early in the year, I was still riding the high from Ironman and fitness simply was not a priority.  I found ways to make excuses for not working out, and while my stress level/workload at work was increased due to my new role as Captain, I found every convenient excuse to not work out/exercise.  Simply put, it was not a priority.

Around March, I transferred bases to Kansas City.  This meant a much easier commute, flying out of Denver, and ultimately, the opportunities to work out ramped up.  I took advantage, swimming a bit more and running a lot.  It almost seemed that I was getting back on track.  The question is, what was I getting back on track for?

The answer?  Nothing.  

I've done at least one triathlon every year since 2009.  Triathlon has defined who I am for years.  At my previous airline, I was knows as "The FO who runs" because on every overnight, I didn't go to bars/restaurants with crews until my workout was done.  Working out and fitness was who I was.  The thing is though, I was always training for something.  I was always striving towards a race goal, or increasing my fitness.  This year, 2014?  Not.  Nothing.  It became working out for working out.  Work didn't help with that, but more on that in a bit.

Fast forward to about a month ago.  I went into O2EA, which is run by our friend Richard, who is a personal trainer and 2x Ironman finisher (soon to be 3x).  He's become quite the good friend since we met last year, and he's quite the inspiration.  He did a body evaluation of both T and I, and let's just say the results were eye opening, both in good ways and bad ways.

I have almost no fat in my upper body.  My arms are damn near perfect.  My core is surprisingly strong, and let's just say that was a pleasant surprise.  My legs are weaker then they should be, and like most Americans, I carry the majority of my fat in my belly.  Richard said my visceral fat levels are good, but I am severely dehydrated.  Also, I'm about 10-15 lbs over what he wants me to be at for racing (weight 205, so 190-195 for racing).  

I guess this was sort of a wake-up call, and my cycling/lifting/swimming has ramped up.  That's good news.  The bad news?  My work/life balance has been a ginormous struggle.  Let me explain.

When I upgraded to captain, it was the first time in 30 years of living that I have made significant money.  I'm not bragging; it's just reality.  My income literally doubled overnight.  Suddenly, bills were never an issue, going out to (slightly) more expensive dinners was doable, and other things.  Yet those who know me know I am not the kind of guy to suddenly indulge in luxuries.  No, to me, making more money simply allows more practicality in my life.  My 401K contributions skyrocketed, our savings in our joint account doubled, debt began to get chopped down.  I finally, after 7 years in the airline industry, began to see the fruits of my labor, so to speak.

So as a guy who has been scraping along for years as a pilot, barely getting ahead, where one setback could set me back for years, it was nice.  And as 2014 went on, I thought, "might as well work as hard as I can, try to drive up the credit as much as possible, and make as much as I can."

Bad idea.

I've been exhausted.  Plain and simple, I've been exhausted.  And for the first time in our 6 years of being together, T and I were having problems.  Nothing serious, just realizing that I was becoming one of those guys who put work ahead of the relationship.

Last month, I saw how much I credited.  Like a kid who doesn't know he's hurt until he sees the wound, I was stunned.  105 hours of credit, 84 of which was flying.  I almost collapsed.  Right in the middle of the Denver Airport, I almost collapsed.  When I got home, I curled up into the fetal position on my bed and just didn't move.  I didn't realize how much I had been killing myself at work, and was miserable beyond miserable.  T and I weren't sure what was happening, but a short time later, we agreed that I had a mental breakdown.  

The balance between life and work seemed impossible to figure out.  I had tried slowing down in the month of May and not working as much.  Didn't work.  I tried working as much as possible to make as much money as possible.  Didn't work.  It seemed there was no way to happiness.  

Then T had a simple solution: I am enough

Even at 75 hours of guaranteed pay, we make enough money.  Even though I'm not training for anything specifically, I am enough.  Whatever work out I can squeeze in, mentally, it's enough.  Whatever I do, it is enough.  At this time, at this juncture, everything I do, it is enough.  I am enough.

She's right.

Today, July 21st, I am feeling a bit better about my body (though the journey is still going to be long in recovering), I am drinking nearly 100 ounces of water a day, and I am finding time to work out.  I bring my swim stuff for when I have Albuquerque layovers.  I plan on running every chance I get.  I'm loving being on my bike when I'm home.  And most importantly, I am doing a tri in August up in Minnesota.  I am registered for it.  I have committed to it.  And whatever I do in it, it is enough.

There's other factors that have come into play this year as well.  My dad having open-heart surgery wrecked me mentally and was very hard to deal with.  I'm also cutting people out of my life that are not productive to me, which hasn't been easy either.  2014 has seen, more or less, a new Brandon.

I think the most humbling part of all this is surprising it is.  How does someone who less than a year ago crossed the finish line of Ironman Arizona, someone who preaches fitness and being active, fall off the wagon so hard?  I think that's all part of the journey, my friends.  The journey of life, the journey of fitness.  It's all a learning process.  What you learn in these lessons, what you do in the process?  That's entirely up to you.

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