Corporate Development Work Almost Killed Me
First the good news. I no longer work for a large corporation and I am am doing very well health-wise. Except for a few minor exercise related injuries, I am the healthiest I have been since 2006.
From 1997 – 2006 I loved my corporate job. I was doing work I loved and I had ample time to concentrate on eating right and exercising. I was running 6-8 miles 3 or more times a week and working out with a combo of heavy and light weights. My ideal weight was 190lbs and I was right there. My mile split times were close to 7:30 for a 10K and that put me near the top of my age group (even though I was not competing often or at all, I would compare my times to those I saw posted after races). Even after my first son was born in 2005 I was able to keep up with my healthy lifestyle.
In late 2006, as my job started to become more “corporate” my health started to deteriorate. By more corporate I mean more stress, less interesting work, less work-life balance. This led to poor food choices, less exercise, and overall I was getting sicker with more lung related problems more often.
In 2011, I swapped one corporate job for what I though would be a much better situation: Facebook Game Development Engineer for a huge Corprate gaming company. What I thought would be Nirvana turned out to be close to a death sentence. I went from being a highly respected engineer with two published books and a successful development related web gaming programming blog to just another cog in a giant 24 hour-a-day game development churn machine. My food choices went from bad to worse, my stress level went from terrible to “off the charts” and my time available to devote to exercise, family,and sleep was severely limited.
Big life changes occurred in the summer of 2011 as my dad passed away and I signed up for my own life insurance. My dad’s passing has been noted here often, but I have not explained any of the other factors that let to me making a huge life-style change. The life insurance company demanded physical showed that I had ballooned up from 190 in 2006 to now 207lbs in July 2011. That was 17 pounds off my ideal weight. Plus, I had a higher level of cholesterol (the bad kind) and a lower level of the good kind (the opposite of my 2005 physical). I was also getting so many chest colds that every time I started to new exercise routine I would have to stop a few weeks into it to recover.
So, I decided to leave the corporate game development job, partner with my buddy John Santos at Producto studios, and build something of our own. At the same time, I started running and training again. I started all of this in August of 2011 at 208lbs.
I shied away from the gym for the first few months purely because I had learned of my dad’s passing while I was on the elliptical trainer at the gym and just going into the place made my feel terrible and gave me an eerie, odd feeling.
For my own workouts I would hit the Mira Costa or Aviation track 3-4 times a week. I would run 4 laps, on the 4th lap I would run the steps of the football stadium (at Costa, or sprint 1/2 lap at Aviation), then I would stop, do sit-up, push-ups, and then pull-ups. I would repeat this 4 times. I was seeing some good progress, but not as much as I wanted, plus, the stair running started an ankle / shin injury that is still bothering me today.
Because of the ankle injury, my doctor recommended that I return to the gym and do a combination of various types of exercise rather than what I was currently doing. Just to get back into my gym was a mental block because I had not been back since the day my father passed away. I did though, and I met some great people who have helped me train in new ways.
The work partnership allowed me to make good money, while doing interesting projects that spanned the entire set of my skills in a lower stress environment. Also, I was able to basically create my own hours that gave me the ability to find time to eat better, spend my time with my family, and obviously keep up my workouts.
While corporate work life-style was putting me on the road to ruin, the new life-style and work-style changes have been putting me back on the right track.
So, I jumped on the scale this morning and I was at exactly 190lbs. In less than 6 months, using no special diets (other than eat less shit food, and exercise more), I lost 18 pounds and am going be running my first 10K race (not a jog or a fun run) on Feb 5th.
I’m not going to say that leaving a corporate job and opening your own shop is easy or even the best choice for everyone. You need to wear many hats, and it is hard work to keep a successful string of clients happy. But, at least in my case, it was the best decision I could have made,