You Don’t Always PR

In the CrossFit and fitness world at large, there is a term called a PR or personal record. Where an athlete sets a new personal record for their most weight lifted and so on. As an individual, I chase the new PR’s. Right now, my current back squat is 365 and by the end of the year I’d love to smash the big 400.

On my dead lift, I can’t seem to break past the 290 mark, the right side of my body doesn’t seem to want to budge. And there is honestly a lot of flaws in my approach. On other lifts, preferably lifts that require over head movement. IT SUCKS! Again, my left side has full extension, my right side not quite.

It’s frustrating, because on the inside I know I can do it. But getting my body, mind and spirit to have that conversation is rather difficult. Largely due to living with cerebral palsy. Sometimes I leave the gym not so happy with myself, even fall into moments of self pity. What the real problem is though, is that I want to skip the gradual process of slowly adding weight, slowly gaining more mobility to simply wanting the big numbers. Which has happened before.

Even my coaches tell me, that not everyday is a heavy day. But do I listen, hell no not at first. That’s no ones fault by my own. Two things we (or I) must remember in fitness or life:

  1. Go slow- find joy in the process. I somehow feel rushed, as though I am running out of time in my life, which is illogical. Or I have to catch up to others, in a form of competition, which is also illogical. For you and I, the truth of the matter is that there is no hurry, there is no one to compete with. It is more than okay to push and challenge ourselves but not at the expense of our joy.
  2. Our self worth (my self worth) is not found in the numbers that we put up or what we produce in our work on a daily basis. Nope, our self worth and human dignity is found in Gods bestowing upon us.

I/we need to apply these truths to ourselves each and every day. And if we must, help others to see that truth as well.

Enjoy the process

Live present

Eat Healthy

Set you sight on things above.

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Progress For Emily

It’s been a few weeks since I released a list of body weight movements that I like to do,  specifically, I wanted people with cerebral palsy and people with other adaptive needs, to have it if they couldn’t afford or have access to a gym or coach. In my mind, there is no reason not to be in the best shape we can be. Unless we are one hundred percent dependent upon the care of others.

I posted the blog in every adaptive forum that I could, but it didn’t gain much attraction. But when I came in contact with a awesome women by the name of Emily, who wanted to interview me about my company (adaptive defense methods) we talked a lot about fitness.

I can remember her telling me that she wasn’t as strong as she once was, and sadly lost a lot of tone in her body. She normally had seen a physical therapist but hadn’t had access to one. Without thinking I sent her the body weight movement list, I knew deep down that it would help her.

At first she seemed a bit nervous, maybe even hesitant. But through a ton of reassurance and belief  she embarked on the journey. Start with basic and simple stuff like push ups, planks hip ups etc. Things that seem easy, but when done in a AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) or HIT method (High intensity training) they can be a huge shock to the system and challenge the mind and body.

For those with cerebral palsy, we can use up to three times more energy than an abled bodied person. So the idea behind mixing up a high intensity body weight workout, was to get the fastest results possible. As I said before, it’s only been a few weeks, but Emily has been very consistent and is already seeing results in her core, arms and legs. Trust me, there’s still a long way to go in her journey, but the sky is the limit for her. The same can be said for you, if you only make the choice to challenge yourself each and every single day. Make dedication and discipline your friend and you will go far.

 

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Talking About The Prodigal Son’s

We all should know the acclaimed story of the prodigal son, but if you don’t, in summary the story or parable depicts two sons. One older and one younger. The younger son wakes up one day and demands that his father would give him his share of the estate. He demanded it, he didn’t say “father, can you please give me my share of my estate.” Maybe he had something grand in mind for his future, but he didn’t. Rather he took the money and burned a hole through it all.

Before you know it, he found himself wanting to eat the same food that the pigs ate. Then, he makes up his mind to go back to his fathers house, only this time he will come home armed with a great speech. One that tugs at his fathers heart. But little did he know, that his father stood night and day watching for his son. And he did what fathers didn’t do at the time.

He ran toward his son, wrapped him up in his arms and kisses his face over and over. It was as though he was mad with love for his son.  His father puts a ring on his finger, a fine robe and even throws a party for him. And never once mentions his sons transgression.

The older brother doesn’t take so kindly to his fathers reaction to his youngest son coming home. He even says “I’ve been loyal to you for years and you never through me a party!” Not many talk about the older son, but we must, because his reaction is also our reaction in our own lives. Or at least it is for me, it’s my response when I feel I have been nothing but loyal to others and assume that I get nothing in return.

In all honesty, I am both sons, I run away from my fathers house and love. And make a mess of my life, yet he keeps taking me back over and over again. He runs to me, wraps me up and kisses my face over and over… But I am also the older son, when I feel God has wronged me, thus sin rises up inside me which screams “You owe me God!”

But I so quickly forget that he has already given me everything…. everything…. And so much more awaits me after this life. Let us combat our prideful, arrogant hearts lest we forget about how much our father loves us and has given us. Who takes us back over and over. 

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What Makes A Good Leader?

I read recently that “there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” Which makes think Okay, I am a leader, where can I not only confess that I’ve failed but where can I improve? Because ever leader will fall, but the strongest admit where they have fell short and look to improve. They don’t make excuses and they damn sure don’t blame others for their failures. Everyone is a leader in some capacity, be it in a family, a job whatever it is. It’s time to lead the way, forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward the goal. Strive for excellence, strive to be better than you were yesterday. Don’t look down on others (that only makes you prideful and arrogant) but instead, learn to help others to their feet, help make others better. Show others that they can be better, why? If nobody else will, then who? Step up and get after it. Out!

Adapt And Rise

Our excuses to not take care of ourselves are no more.

The reasons we have to not better ourselves, don’t stand up to what the modern day adaptive athlete can do.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy, I was told that there was a low chance of survival, and if I lived. I wouldn’t amount to much. If you heard this story before and feel like you’re reading the same blog over again, I’m sorry but this is my story. And I will gladly proclaim how God took a frail child and turned him into a warrior.

On this day, maybe you feel down and out, depressed, suicidal, feel alone and feel like you could never amount to much. I get it, I’ve been there, but I’m here today to tell you that you can rise above and conquer all of that. Maybe you have bad health, or hate the way your body looks. Okay, lets start making changes right this second.

Maybe you have no use of your legs, okay, you can have a strong upper body!

Maybe you have one leg or arm, that just means that you have to be willing to adapt to your circumstances. There are ways to adapt upper body lifts to those with only one arm. If you have a prosthetic leg, awesome  there’re so many ways you can adapt exercises and functional movements to fit your needs.

Have an autoimmune, still not the end of the world, take the journey of finding good coaches that can help you. Go slow, listen to your body. And go fourth in your journey.

Please understand that, in no way do I intend to sound un-compassionate. Nor am I implying that any of this will be easy. It is because of compassion and love, that I am imploring you  today to not sit in your excuses and settle for anything less then your best.

Do I have my bad days? Yes,  but warriors rise after they fall, they get up after a needed rest.  Greatness comes from darkness, use the pain, use the hurt to drive forward to a better tomorrow. I’ll say it again, there are no short cuts, no self help books or remedies that can make the journey any easier.

What will help is hope. faith. Love and community. These are real things with eternal significants. Whatever is holding you back today, whatever is keeping you from progress. Face it. Don’t give it authority a second longer. Your life matters. Make the most of it.

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Live In The Now!

 

 

What if I told you that you can do more than you think?

What if I told you that you were not a product of your environment?

What if I told you that you and I aren’t necessarily bound by age?

What if I told you that those negative thoughts in your head are lies?

What if I told you that you were better than the excuses you make?

What if you could live the most amazing life? Like right this moment, would you?

I know, that last line sounds like some well-paid motivational/prosperity preacher, who never had a rough day in his or her life. If you interpreted it that way, I can tell you that that was not my intention. In fact, the days that suck won’t go away anytime. They will sadly be like a gift that keeps on giving, be that as it may, it is not an indication of what the rest of our journeys will be like. If we are mentally, physically and spiritually determined to not let it be that way. I hear athletes and some parents talk about their glory days, how if they were younger they could have won that match, won that game or lifted that amount of weight. It’s all crap. It had to be said, if only the human mind and soul would be liberated from that one bold face lie. What good is life, if all we think about was yesterday? It only means that you’re not really living life, but are coasting through life and not really living it. Yesterday is gone, so what are you going to do, now, in this moment? Are you going to let your past define you? Or your current circumstances? It’s all a lie to keep you trapped in the darkness. Put everything behind you, learn from it, but put it behind you. Set new goals, work your way up to the weight you “could have” crushed. Better yet, aim for me.

Crush the person you once were, be better than that. Be better than that so that you can be better for your friends and family. Be better so that you can leave behind a legacy for those after you. You are so much more than your prime, or what doctors told you or the excuses we make for ourselves or others. You owe it to yourself, and others to do so. What matters most in life is not the amount of money that we had in our bank accounts, the cars we had, the house you had etc. What matters, is what we did with our time and what we did for others. In the words of Garth from the cult classic Waynes World LIVE IN THE NOOOOW!

 

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Rediscovering Discipline

For the past several weeks, I’ve been listening to a lot of Jocko Willink. He is a former Navy Seal and BJJ black belt under the legendary Dean Lister. I’ve found myself drawn to the fact that he talks so much about self-discipline, in fact, he says that discipline is freedom. I can remember being in college and getting up at 5 AM most every morning, usually because I was scared of waking up late and missing breakfast, class or whatever was on task for the day.

The fact that my father was in the military sure helped with this, and the fact that my mom, would have to get me up early to get ready for school only added to the fact that my body and mind would become accustomed to rising early and chipping away at the day. As a kid, I hated it, wanted to sleep in more and be a bit lazy. But eventually I got used to it. The early rise and grind is what would carry me through a huge majority of my life.

Because my parents disciplined me in such away, conditioned me to get the job done. Even when I didn’t want to. In college I would be done with assignments way before other people were. People would often tell me “I don’t know how you do it..” And at the time, the only answer I had was that God gave me parents to help train me to live in such a way. And that the Lord is faithful in waking me up each and everyday. Was I perfect at it, no way, in fact there were days when I would hit the snooze button once or twice.

Another way of saying it, was I went through the daily motions of life. I’ve always been taught that this was a bad thing, especially being a Christian. But Jocko says that you go through the motions and do it anyway.

Don’t feel like reading my bible? do it any way!

Don’t feel like praying? do it anyway!

Don’t feel like lifting heavy weight? do it anyway!

You’ll feel better having done it. Because the the things we don’t want to do, are the things we need to do the most. It’s how you get ahead in life and how you succeed. Living a life of discipline, I believe, is how we see a difference not only in ourselves. But others, meaning that we can greater help people wherever they are at in life. Living the disciplined life is how we combat our vices, the temptations, the addiction, the bad habits that only long to derail us.

Discipline wins the battle, discipline is wisdom. Discipline may very well be the voice of the grand commander and chief saying, “Hey, I love you, now get up, get on mission and get it done!

Discipline, from the Christian perspective, is not so much our own might. But His, but thats for another blog!images.duckduckgo

 

 

 

Company and Hope

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33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33 (CSB)

 

Lately I’ve been taking Uber to get to CrossFit once a week, and it’s been really fun, I’ve had the opportunity of chatting with some awesome people along the way. Normally before each ride, I say a little prayer, for safety and that God might allow me to have the words to inspire hope in some way and even talk about my faith and love for Jesus. As cliche as it sounds, I mean that in the least cliche way possible.

Yesterday though, when my first ride came and got me I didn’t pray. I got in the car, locked in my seat belt and quickly noticed the cigarettes and lighter near me. As soon as we pulled out of the drive way, this man, (whom we will call- Sam) starts talking to me about how it’s been a long day of driving, and that it would be an even longer night of baking. As that is his second job when he is not driving people around.

I asked him “do you ever have a day off?” He chuckled a bit and said “No, I can’t really have a day off, I work hard to support my daughter… But, my daughter ran away from home again, she’s been gone almost 2 weeks. She took off with some really horrible people. She was doing so well.” At this point, all I could do was say that I was sorry for his pain and listen to what he had to say.

I’m angry he said “And I can feel the depression coming back…. She was doing so well, but she ran off again with those idiots man! What don’t they understand about not coming on my damn property?”

 

I know sir, I said,  “she hangs out with bad company and it corrupts her” it was at this point that I remembered the verse above and wondered if Sam knew he was paraphrasing the bible. Before we reached my stop, I said “sir, if I have learned anything in my short life and all my training in psychology, it’s that there is always hope. Even in the darkest of times.”

Sam looked at me and said “Did they teach you that in school?”

“No” I said in response, “that’s what I believe about life.” He looked at me and said “well, sometimes people need to know what it’s like to be down, down, down and have no hope first.”  I thought to myself “but I have.”  I  want you to take away a few things from this:

  1. It matters who we let into our lives, regardless of age. The more we are around a person or a group of people. The more they influence us, for better or for worse. That being said, be selective of who you let in (and out) of your life, know what your boundaries are and if people don’t respect them. Get rid of them. Lastly, listen to the wisdom of those you trust. If someone close to you says that they are not sure about someone or group of people, listen to that. It’ll save you from a lot of heart ache.

Remember that how dark things get in life, it can always get better.

-Brandon