“Being an honest self-critic is the only way to become the person you want to be, and being objective about the world is the best way to succeed.”
Training Facility: CFD Lakeview
Joined CFD: August 2014
From Coach Laura: Three words that come to mind when we think about Mike Hilliard are dedicated, passionate and happy. No matter what is happening in Mike’s life, the moment he steps into the gym all is good in the world. He always says hello with a smile on this face and then its time to get down to business. He has this ability to focus and push himself during his workout and still be friendly and personable all at the same time. It’s a talent not everyone has. Mike put his mind to a goal and more than exceeded it.
Data Scientist (strategic/financial analysis, operational process efficiency – critical thinking, basically)
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I was born in Ottawa, IL but grew up in rural suburban Minnesota about 45 miles west of the Twin Cities. I played football and track in high school but also did science club and math league. My favorite modern author is the late Christopher Hitchens but a close second is the extraordinary Professor Richard Dawkins. Since being introduced to it through CrossFit I’ve become completely obsessed with Olympic Weightlifting!
Something we might not know about you?
I was nearly put into the special education program in middle school because of my inability to pay attention in class. I ended up in the gifted program instead after a friend of the family suggested they do some testing first!
What is your CrossFit story? Has CrossFit affected your life outside of the gym?
In college I started drinking quite a bit and gained a fair bit of weight after being healthy through high school and into my twenties. I continued to gain more weight and become further ‘shut-in’ and depressed. Finally around 4 years ago (a little before my 29th birthday) I decided it was time to make a change. I started with diet and cardio and went from around 350 pounds at my heaviest to about 240 after a little over 2 years. By that point I felt and looked much better, but always knew this was just a broad approach and to continue I’d need a more refined approach. A friend of mine at work (Megan, in the photo from 2011) had been advocating CrossFit for quite a while. Her influence combined with finally feeling like I was ready for a new challenge, made me take the next step and look for a gym. It turned out I was living only 3 blocks from CFD (CrossFit Defined).
CrossFit has had a huge influence outside of the gym, and in particular it has greatly expanded my social circle. Most of the events I take part in now come from relationships made at CFD and I’m immensely grateful for that – I’m not naturally a very social person but getting to know people here has been amazing.
What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?
As the coaches like to remind me, I wasn’t even able to finish the workout after doing the first onramp. I remember getting home and feeling ready to meet the challenge the next time (and also that I would start drinking twice as much water to avoid cramps!) After spending two years doing boring cardio, the on-ramp experience as well as meeting some of the coaches, made it very clear that this was going to be both a tremendous amount of work and really rewarding.
What were your goals when joining CrossFit? And Now?
My goals when starting were to get healthier, look better, and to feel better in broad terms. I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of results so I can’t say I had a clear goal in mind, which I still really don’t. My goal now is to continue to get stronger – I had forgotten how great it feels to truly feel strong!
What is your proudest accomplishment since starting?
I tend to be an introvert in most settings and I’m very proud to have become part of the incredible group at CFD. While I’m certainly proud of my own improvement since starting I’d have to say that the community aspect of CrossFit was something I was fairly dubious of going in. Hearing that I’ve inspired people in some way is humbling, particularly from a group I take a lot of inspiration from as well!
What advice would you give to someone who started where you did?
Focusing on being consistent, recovery, and mobility have been tremendously helpful for me. I generally always read the workout ahead of time to know what equipment to bring. I never shy away because I don’t like something or it seems too hard – challenging yourself to work on weaknesses is by far the best thing you can do to see improvement. Don’t be too eager to measure yourself or your progress against others. Oh and in particular I always recommend Laura Murphy’s kettlebell class!
Words to live by:
“Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies” is a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche that I particularly like; that is to say, you must be willing to challenge even your own beliefs if you want to arrive at the truth. Being an honest self-critic is the only way to become the person you want to be, and being objective about the world is the best way to succeed.
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