Getting back to awesome – log #2 The Starting Point

“The old you is dead”

2014 was a good year for me.  A really good year.  I had just moved back from California to take over as the Director of Athlete Performance for a highly respected sports performance company. I had the most successful volleyball year of my career, and I set the Guinness World Record for the Highest Standing Single Leg Jump.  I was crushing the GYM and set PR’s in all three lifts. Nearly hit a lifetime goal of 500lbs on deadlift and just came up shy with 485.

Enter 2015.  

I went from jumping 40.5″ to 28″.  I had a major back injury. I blew a hamstring and an ACL during my USA bobsled combine. I hated my job and the company I had been killing myself at for the last 5 years.  I could barely play volleyball, and jumping onto a 24″ box was the humiliating limit to what I could do despite doing 61″ the year before.

This all happened within 1 year.

How’s that for “My life got flipped turned upside down.”? Every sense of self was in disarray and not to be overdramatic I considered suicide.  I guess that is a bit overdramatic.  But it’s the truth.  Who I was, what made me special, was gone. The only other thing I felt like I was good at was my job, and I hated it.  I had someone call me “worthless” there. I was constantly questioning what my purpose was.

Enter 2016.  

I do not own the Guinness World Record for the highest standing jump and never will again.   I still can’t jump on a really big box.  I still don’t work for Athletic Republic.  I tore my other knee.  My back still hurts. Despite all of this 2016 has been an amazing year.

The old you is dead. Bury him.

I came to a crossroads after all the injuries and the depression that the volleyball, the athletic records and the job title was not who I was.  It was what I did, and like many jobs and job titles they change quite frequently in life.  Me being special had nothing to do with what I could do on the court or in the gym, it had everything to do with what I did for others.  As soon as I realized this, the sense of I can be anything I want to be was reinvigorated.  I like to think I reinvented myself.

In the last year I have:

Played volleyball. Have jumped high enough to bring back some good feelings. I started my own company where I had to learn wordpress, learn infusionsoft, hire an employee, pay employee, pay referrals, recruit referrals, learn adwords, SEO, Facebook ads, manage ads, pay for ads, make a business page, make a website, got a girlfriend, earned four specializations for my career, paid off nearly all of my debt, went on 2 vacations, saved a life, learned a new sport, competed in that sport and won medals, deadlifted 405lbs which I haven’t done since I hurt my back & as of 2 days ago bought the car on my dream board.  I am, and I’m not the same person that I was a year ago.  The old me is dead. I buried him. The new me is kicking ass…with the help of the always been me…if that makes sense.

“If it can be measured it can be improved” 

I am a fan of goal setting.  I have 3, 6, 9 and 12 month goals for my businesses, jiujitsu, volleyball and strength training.  I do think that if you don’t have a way to quantify your progress then it’s all kind of moot.  Say you want to make an extra $1,000 dollars this week, the extra would be additional to what you make now.  You need to know the now.  I’ll give you an example.

I decided that I was ready to start charting my workouts and my progress with my maximal strength.  The first step then is see what my limits were NOW.  It would be super easy to take my old numbers because they were already established however, the weights I would be using from that for my workouts would be far too heavy to lift.  The workouts would be pointless. I would probably give up from discouragement.  Remember the old you is dead, the old numbers are irrelevant.  You need to see what you’re capable of doing now.

I used to be able to pull (Deadlift) 485, but as of yesterday my starting point is 405.  Which I’m honestly super stoked about because I haven’t pulled anything over 355 in a year. I will use anywhere from 60-90% of that 405 to workout with to help me get stronger.  Had I used the same percentages from 485 it would be a massive difference.

Percentage Difference:

60% of 405 =243lbs

60% of 485 =291lbs

90% of 405 =364.5lbs

90% of 485 =436.5lbs

That’s a substantial difference!

So I think if you are still stuck in the proverbial “2015” that I had, the first thing to do is set some goals, and then establish where you are. Also I think it’s really important to be clear and exact with your goals. Don’t be vague that never helps. You should also be reasonable in your time table to accomplish said goal.  For example if your 35lbs overweight, losing 35lbs in 4 weeks is not a reasonable time table. If it took you 15 years to get to that point, don’t expect to get back to awesome in just 30 days.

Below I’ve listed some of the more popular more generic goals, what a more exact goal looks like and the “How-to-start” of each of those goals.

Bad example“I want to be ripped” 

Good example“I want to lose 5% body fat over the next 8 weeks”

Clear, exact, and with a reasonable time table.

Where to start – If you want to lose body fat you need to be in a calorie deficit.  Therefore you need to know how many calories you’re eating a day. You will also need to know the total calories you burn throughout the day both just existing and during activity.  Once you have the calories you take in vs the calories you burn you can accurately measure what your requirements are to be in a calorie deficit.

Here is an easy calculator to figure all of that out.

Bad example“I need to get stronger”

Good example“I need to put 30 pounds on my squat in 4 weeks” 

Where to start- If you want to increase in strength you will need to lift anywhere from 60-90% of your 1RM.  In order to know what those percentages convert into, you need to know your 1RM.  However if you’ve never tried hitting a one rep maximum, I suggest doing a 3 or a 5 rep maximum first. Use this calculator to help you convert that into a 1RM.

I’m going to end the examples on the subject I know the most about, but I will pick up where this leaves off with some other topics like jobs, finance, relationship help etc… but I’ll probably have a guest speaker for that.  Not my forte.

In closing I would like to suggest picking one aspect of your life that you want to “Get back to Awesome” on and go for it.  Use clear, concise, exact goals with reasonable timelines. Write those goals down. Review them everyday.  Make sure you know exactly where you stand TODAY. Then attack that goal and stay positive.

Please please please leave a comment. I’d love to hear if this post helped you, didn’t help you, what you liked, didn’t like, anything! I know I’m not the best writer so you input would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for all of your help Super Humans!


Brandon T.