Gail Forrest is the executive vice president – administration for Chugach Alaska Corporation. Gail leads HR, Facilities and Information Technology for a native Alaska corporation of 5,000 employees worldwide. She has 38 years of experience in running human resources and various other staff functions for major corporations.
How did it affect your life and work?
I spent my first twenty years of my career in companies that I would call “alcohol embracing.” It was the Mad Men era, and drinking in the office, liquid lunches and early cocktail hours were all part of the culture. Partying and trying to keep up with “the boys” was a survival mechanism, but I still managed to work 60-70 hours a week and produce a good product. I rarely missed work, but I always wonder how amazing I could have been without a hangover. New Year’s Day 19 years ago, I just stopped, and with the help of a 12-step program, have not gone back. I take it one day at a time.
I have always felt the weight was a much more challenging issue. Food was always a comfort for me; social events centered on food and I love to cook as much as I love to eat. I had no interest in exercise and my weight constantly bounced up and down by hundreds of pounds, at many points in my life reaching 300 pounds. I stressed my heart with yoyo dieting so much that in 2005 I nearly died from congestive heart failure. It was the wakeup call I needed!