Officer values and encourages wellness
At 6 feet, 1 inch and 210 pounds, with solid legs, trim waist, thick forearms, and broad shoulders, Mike Carlson looks more like an NFL wide receiver than some starting NFL wide receivers. (Exhibit A: Denver Bronco Wes Welker, 5′9″, 185. Exhibit B: Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Brown, 5′10″, 186.)
But Mike has spent his life catching criminals, not footballs. (And that life spans the same number of years as Welker’s and Brown’s combined: 59.)
His black uniform—complete with badges, patches, handcuffs, firearm, magazine pouch, portable radio, Taser, baton, and shiny black boots—magnifies the Williamson County deputy constable’s imposing figure. But when he talks about winning the county’s Wellness Leadership Award in 2014 for modeling a healthy lifestyle, his ruddy face breaks into a sheepish grin.
“I guess some of our staff put me up for it,” he says. “They thought it was something kind of important to me. I try to be an example but also verbally encourage other people to stay healthy and fit. It doesn’t have to be in a gym. It can be as simple as walking in your neighborhood. Being active is the most important thing.”
“Kind of important” understates Mike’s 30-year dedication to fitness and nutrition. In his first three decades, he dabbled—winning a seventh-grade contest shortly after he started lifting, maintaining perfect attendance in his UT strength and conditioning classes, weight-training with the Austin Police Department.
But in 1985, when he became one of the original six members of APD’s mounted unit, conditioning became a fixture in his life, thanks to a patrol partner who enjoyed working out. “It just seems like a natural thing to me to work out,” Mike says. “It’s been part of my life for so long that when I don’t do it, I don’t feel right, physically or mentally.”
He focused on weight lifting until he learned the importance of incorporating cardiovascular training into his routine. He hits the gym four to six times a week and consumes mostly chicken, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, and lots of water. And the occasional helping of pudding.
“It’s all just trying to keep from getting old too soon,” Mike laughs. “You’re not going to defeat the aging process. You’re just trying to slow it down a little bit. As an officer, you deal with people, and not everybody’s going to cooperate. Being in shape is super important for any officer.”
(And for pro football players.)