Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Know What You Want To Know

Posted: September 8, 2016 in Uncategorized

One of the major principles that I try to embed into these articles is that every day is a never-to-be-had-again opportunity to improve, progress, learn, and achieve. Learning is the single most powerful tool to facilitate your progress in any endeavor. One thing that I have been experiencing lately is that I did not actually know what I wanted to know. I mean that I knew what my goals were, but once I became more knowledgeable, my goals became clearer and my progress toward them became more efficient. It may seem like common sense, but this awareness has had a significant impact as of late. Here are some of the things that have helped me clarify what it is I want to know.

  • Listening to the people around me more: I’ve started putting myself around good people and openly listening to them—without the rebutting and challenging that I’m used to doing. I’m learning to disengage from the power dance that conversations can become, where I do no more than bide my time until it’s my polite turn to talk again. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of always asserting myself and my opinion, but it deprives me of the opportunity to learn the lessons I need. And, believe me, it is hard for me to listen. But when I push myself to listen openly, I definitely find that I experience a higher level of communication.
  • Listening to myself less: In the 7 Habits Book, Stephen Covey talks about beginning with the end in mind. This tactic is very effective in many situations. However, not all tools are appropriate for all tasks—just as a drill will not cut wood, there are some situations where it is counterproductive to begin with the end in mind. When in conversation with someone, even if he or she is not a mentor, just let go and absorb the knowledge and energy being offered. Try to remember that everyone has something to teach you because everyone has had different experiences than you have. In the worst case, you learn something trivial; in the best case, you find inspiration and a new perspective to pursue new knowledge.
  • Listening to podcasts: Yes, I am old, but I am addicted to podcasts. A lot of the really good podcasts refer to subjects outside of the cast. Podcasts have been the source of references for most of the new books that I have read. Tim Ferriss is amazing at just bringing a massive variety of concepts and resources into one podcast. I kind of hate how amazing he is. I do not always agree with him (and, really, who gives a shit whether I agree or not?), but I always learn from him.

Going through each day carries with it a simple guarantee: You are going to learn. You will see things and hear things, and—chances are—some of those things will be things that you have never seen or heard before. Poof! You have just learned. Whether that knowledge is useful or will impact your life bears little importance. You have still learned it. Some of those things will have impact on your life. Many things that you learn are intentionally presented to you—a consumer—through targeted marketing, to influence your decisions about where you shop, what you buy, and what you know. Marketing is simply the strategy that businesses use in order to position what they want you to hear in proximity to the things that you know you want to know, or see, or hear. By predicting what you want to know, they can position information intended to influence you alongside that which you want to know. My point is that it may behoove (yes, behoove!!) you to put more effort into deciding what it is that you are learning and letting influence you than others do.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, has an amazing line in it that has served as focus for my meditations for a while now. Although the entire book is incredible and full of great insights, I especially appreciate the following interaction—The Alchemist is speaking to a monk, who implies that he is being too generous, to which The Alchemist replies, “Don’t say that again. Life might be listening, and give you less the next time.” Always appreciate exactly what Life serves you by making the most of it.

the_alchemist

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

Optimizing Diet

Posted: June 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

In these posts, especially when addressing training, I try not to beat a dead horse but rather address issues that I see slipping through the cracks. In previous posts, I have identified many goldmines of information readily available online from various sources. If you have not already digested as much info as you can from other sources, then this blog is probably not for you anyway.

calories

One concept of nutrition that I feel is often overlooked is optimization. What I mean by that is that there is a range of macros for every individual that I would refer to as a “sweet spot.” Only though self-examination and experimentation will you get a feel for what that optimal zone is. On the caloric deficit side of the equation, I feel that people are very aware of the risks of nutrient, performance, and result loss that can arise. However, a lot of times in the strength game, people will get a little lazy when eating for size and strength, believing that a calorie surplus will cover all bases—but this is not always the case. There is a point of diminishing returns. Excess calories can provide the building blocks and fuel for repairing and building muscle and maintaining optimal strength, but too many calories will tax the body as it tries to deal with the excess, ultimately causing excess blood lipids, blood pressure, cholesterol, cortisol, and a slew of other things. Big picture, these issues are obviously detrimental to one’s health, but, even on a micro scale, they will be counterproductive. Scale weight and strength may go up, but I promise when diet is dialed in to an optimum range of calorie surplus, there is no other feeling like it. Recovery, growth, and strength progress at a much more rapid rate, and these gains are sustainable. Don’t cut corners. Do what it takes to dial in your diet and find that optimal range. NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, will bring progress faster than the foundation provided by optimal nutrition.

Please feel free to respond and discuss. Email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com or hit me up on the social medias. LOL!!  Till next time.

 

If Luck Comes Knocking

Posted: June 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

It is absolutely true that success is built on dedication and perseverance. However, as any person who has ever achieved any significant level of accomplishment is bound to tell you, luck always comes into play.

What is luck? In my opinion, it is when a situation, in hindsight, meets a level of perceived improbability of occurrence. “What are the odds?!” and “Can you believe it?!” are often uttered when these situations occur. YouTube has tons of videos showing people surviving situations of incredible improbability of both the positive and negative variety. The Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca says, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” He was later forced to commit suicide for his alleged role in attempting to assassinate the emperor Nero, although there’s evidence that he was actually innocent, so it may be worth asking what Seneca knew about luck. At any rate, his saying and his subsequent run-in with bad luck is a perfect example of how good luck can turn to misfortune when someone is ill-prepared for its arrival. Professional poker players and throwers of heavy implements are both strong examples of people who repeat behaviors countless times in preparation for when those few moments present themselves where everything just clicks.

caber

So what will you have to present Lady Luck if she decides to pay you a visit? Excuses, apologies, and pleas for another chance? She is a cruel mistress and tends to be impatient and unforgiving. Or will you have built a solid foundation of time, effort, and sacrifice? Will you be ready to board the success train and ride it all the way?

Spend a moment each day making sure you do one thing to prepare yourself for when luck comes knocking. Think about what it would look like today if you found yourself “in the zone” in a competition and had the chance to demonstrate the best performance of your life. I remember years ago, when I was still small enough to sprint, my best friend and I had been consistently winning first and second place in the 100-meter sprint, with me consistently being the one in second. Then, one race, I was able to achieve Flow (refer to the post on Breaking Records, here, if you are unfamiliar), and it felt like I was weightless and flying ahead of him. I gained such a huge lead, and so, for some inexplicable reason, I decided to pull up. I still won the race, but to this day I still kick myself anytime that memory surfaces. Why did I let off the gas??? I could have lived out an experience that has never presented itself again in quite that fashion.

Never let off the gas—even if victory is yours! Keep pushing and grinding. Make sure your efforts are as efficient and directed as possible, and do everything you can to be prepared to answer the door ready if opportunity does come knocking.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”—Gary Player

Let it go

Posted: April 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

How do we decide what to hold onto and what to let go of? This is one tricky situation in which we all find ourselves from time to time. In fact, we’re probably in it far more often than we realize, but we become accustomed to what’s comfortable and forget to stop and take the time to ask:

  • What am I holding onto?
  • Is it worth holding onto?
  • How can I prove, objectively and empirically, that it’s worth holding onto?
This situation presents itself in infinite ways throughout our lives, from things as complicated as relationships to things as simple as old clothes. So what are some of my tried and true ways to decide which people to keep, which clothes to keep, and—most critically—which behaviors to keep?
  1. Make a “pro & con” list. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: pro and con lists can be powerful tools because they force us to commit every component, the rational and the not-so rational, to paper. Things usually look different when you bring them out of the darkness of your mind and expose them to the light in writing.
  2. Test. Test. Test. Again, you’ve heard me say it before, but it really is the key to my decision-making process. You can think of it as the scientific method, adapted. First, I identify what I’m holding onto. Then, I remove it temporarily. Next, I take stock to see what effects this amputation has had. If there’s no difference, or if my life improves, then I make its removal permanent.
  3. Separate logic from emotion. We tend to hold on—to things, people, routines—out of fear: fear of the unknown—where your subconscious whispers, “What if I need this in the future and am in some strange situation where I will suffer some illogical consequences from not possessing the thing in question?”—and fear that, once lost, something might become unattainable. But keep in mind that fear is emotional, not logical. For a great example of something let go and then reclaimed, you can check out this story about Sylvester Stallone and his dog, Butkus. Now, I’m not saying that emotion is without value. The degree of fear that you feel about losing something could be an indication of how much it’s worth to you. There is danger in believing that you can always get back what you have lost. Before you make a sacrifice, ask yourself honestly, “How will it impact my life if I’m never able to recover this loss?”
  4. What do you want? When do you want it? Even though it’s an emotion, desire can be a strong motivator. Focus on what you want, why you want it, and the urgency with which you want it. Coupling that desire with the cold, hard facts of your pro & con list, your tests, and your logical inquiries can help you to see what to hold onto and what to let go of.

The risk in holding on is always complacency. If you are holding on simply because it’s the path of least resistance, then that’s bullshit. But if you are constantly assessing and evaluating by asking yourself, “Why am I holding on?” then you’re being the furthest possible thing from complacent, as long as you’re answering yourself honestly. The difference is in active decision-making—waking up every fucking morning, looking yourself in the mirror, and asking what in your life benefits you. If the benefits outweigh the detriments, then hold the fuck on to that anchor. But don’t stop there, because even a big anchor can be undone by a bigger wave. Do not just ask yourself, “Why am I holding on?” but also, “How am I holding on?” If you’re not doing enough, then you’re setting yourself up to lose your hold.

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And a word of caution if you are one of those numbnuts who thinks his strength comes from tethering himself to many anchors: When you have yourself chained to points all around you, chances are you’ve trapped yourself, you’re drowning yourself, or you’re choking yourself. ONE ANCHOR is enough, even for the biggest of ships, as long as it’s the right anchor. And if it’s not the right anchor, then nothing’s gonna save you from getting dragged off course.

Leave any comment, question, or suggestion here on the blog or email me at jbrandonhall78@gmail.com if you want to continue this discussion or pursue my online coaching. I would love to hear from you.

“Fear is the primary enemy of creativity.”—William Ball

 

 

 

 

Resources

Posted: March 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

This blog is a source for content that I am very proud of. It is mostly motivational and philosophical because I believe that is the biggest void that I see in the infoverse around me at this time. Here is a quick list of the resources for information, motivation, and all around useful stuff that can put my readers on the fast track to success.

Specifically strength related:

Strengthsensei.com: Dripping with great stuff!!! Can’t get enough of it. Well referenced and crammed full of great references, links, and shit loads of top-tier content!! Linked to various social media and the podcast is pretty great too. Much like my next resource you are going to have to cherry pick the content most suited for your goals but whatever those goals are there is tons of awesome info here.

Markbellpower.com and supertraininggym.com

This guy is a badass too. Mark is primarily focused on powerlifting and strength but he is also a funny, highly motivational, and incredibly successful man with loads of information at the ready. His power project is the framework that countless people have followed for short informational Youtube videos. It is also a treasure trove a great training advice. Powercast is his podcast that is easily accessible and just loaded with great interviews with a large variety of people from various strength sports. Massive amounts of top-tier content and fucking hilarious. Well worth the time.

All things about all things:

Fourhourworkweek.com

I never wanted to like this guy!!! I wanted to hate all three books of his that I bought and read numerous times. I wanted to hate his blog that is just amazing!! Probably the single best resource for success in almost every single aspect of life imaginable. I wanted to hate his show that I have watched every single episode of numerous times. I could go on and on but you get the point. I failed in my attempt to hate him and am constantly blown away by how much this man has achieved in such a short life. Fearless and brilliant!! This website is endless in its scope and breadth. If he does not address a topic directly you will find links to the most brilliant minds addressing the issue. Business, nutrition, biological sciences, food, etc., etc., etc., etc.,……… you get my point. Every article and podcast is heavily referenced and each one can send you on journeys that will end only when you decide. I am not even going to give a specific example, pick a podcast, listen, and then start following any of the links that interest you down the rabbit hole. Navy Seals, scientists, highly succesful entrepreneurs, biochemists, and artists abound. All of which will open your mind to possibilities and give you endless resources to continue the journey in any direction you choose. Every time I listen to a podcast I feel like a damn Goonie because I know there is a treasure map that directs me to places I may not have discovered otherwise. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel for the highly motivated.

 

Ramit Sethi:

iwillteachyoutoberich.com

Uber successful blogger Ramit Sethi will absolutely carpet bomb your email box if you sign up for his blog. Normally not a fan of this but more often than not there is some pretty useful and interesting stuff. He does sell courses but he also gives out shit loads of free content and it has been a great resource for financial and entrepreneurial information.

Youtube.com

Some youtubers I enjoy and find either highly motivational, informational, and some just entertaining.

Rich Piana

The living legend of youtube! Rich and successful and puts it ALL out there. Highly controversial but very motivational in informative.

George Leeman

Has slowed down a bit as of late but has a ton of content on youtube that will light a fire under your ass.

As with ALL sources of information please use your fucking head. Pardon the language but as you have heard me say a million times over this is all to enhance thought and knowledge, not replace it. Please be very discerning with all information. Use the scientific method!! Information is either fact or opinion. A fact can be tested and will ALWAYS hold true. Water will always boil at 100 degrees celsius, 1 + 1 will always be 2!!! If something cannot be tested to this extent and always hold true, then it will remain a theory until proven otherwise.

 

*Just a disclaimer that this is a post I put together as a response to an overwhelming amount of requests. It is unedited and may contain some typos or grammatical errors.

 

Effective Resolutions

Posted: February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

In this age of enlightenment people can be too quick to tear things to pieces. Maybe it is a natural side effect of the information age but it can be counterproductive. I do like that snake oil salesmen rarely have a place to hide against discerning minds but it also seems to lend to a level of cynicism that can rain on proverbial parades.

New years resolutions for example. The tradition of using the turn of the calendar as a starting point for new goals and achievements is one that I am a HUGE fan of!! Of course the haters love to chime in with one of their favorite tools (statistics) and spew out how a very small number of people maintain their pursuit of new goals. This stream of thought may seem counter intuitive to the focus of this blog. I realize I have no tolerance for excuses and believe in the pursuit of lofty goals at all costs. Being that as it may, in no way do I support any type of discouraging people against any opportunity to take another shot at setting and pursuing goals. Even the failure to pursue was began with the setting and identifying of goals and that is a start. Knowing the goal plants the seed. You have only truly failed when you quit.

This will be my first and only article dealing with strategies to stay motivated for achieving goals. I am a firm believer that when pursuing your passions nothing in any way should be able to stop you. Lets broaden the scope a little then. What about peripheral goals. What if in the midst of pursuing your gold medal you want to learn a new language or skill. Here are some strategies I have found effective in achieving goals that are a little outside of the wheelhouse.

Find out how people who do have the goal that you are trying to achieve as their main focus and passion achieved success.

-There is an ever increasing amount of resources to use to get the real information for every conceivable subject. Learning languages, starting businesses, starting blogs, etc.

-Every conceivable to angle to take for self improvement, and skill study.

-Learning an instrument or a martial art.

Seek out real experiences as well. Peers and mentors are critical.

-The flip side to the coin is that virtual experience is a start, or a great supplement to real life, but get out there and meet people and gain experience. What is the point of learning a language if it is not to expand your scope of experience in this world with people from other cultures.

Set goals with friends or in groups to hold you accountable, and put skin in the game.

-Find someone you can trust and rely on to hold you accountable. Not someone who is just trying to be reassuring, but someone to truly hold you accountable. Put skin in the game with them as well. Give them the authority to hold you accountable. Set weekly goals that you have to prove you accomplished or you owe him 20 bucks. If you are serious about achievement what are you afraid of. If that commitment is not ok, then you just proved you really don’t want to achieve your goal.

Be realistic and honest when setting short term goals

-a list of one or two small realistic things to chip away at every day is one of the most powerful tools to achieving massive goals. Jerry Seinfeld once said that you should make a link the day you start pursuing a new goal that represents an effort made towards achieving it. Every day an identifiable effort is made towards that achievement make another link. Any day missed breaks the chain. No matter how big the goal, if that chain gets long enough the goal will be achieved. (Obviously paraphrased but conceptually accurate).

Be outrageous when setting long term goals.

-“If your goals do not scare you, they are not big enough” -unknown

 

 

 

 

2016 So far…

Posted: February 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

Its a new year and I am finally back at the keyboard. I had an umbilical hernia repaired at the end of last year. 9 weeks later I am starting to ease back into training and it has been no less than a monumental learning experience. A good friend of mine has put of the same surgery for coming up on 13 years and I can empathize. 6 weeks of no activity then an easing back in to regular training is a gut check to say the least. When my surgeon cleared me for “light” training I was not sure what he meant. “I know not of this light you speak of?!” I said to the man.

As I built up my cardio endurance on the treadmill and bike to a respectable level I truly felt as if I was in a bad dream. “Nothing that dramatically increases intra-abdominal pressure” he says to me. “Well then how shall I poop???” I says back.

It is not that I was not aware of the little dumbells at the end of the rack, or that I did not realize that the weight stacks had lower pin settings that the entire stack. I just chose not to bother with them. These “light” versions of my passion that the surgeon suggested seemed as appealing as the surgery itself but I tucked my manhood, grabbed the little baby weights and repped away.

I imagine the compromises that I was making with myself mentally were similar to a budding actress on the set of some b rated horror movie. “This is only temporary”, “focus on the future”, “paying my dues” etc etc.

As I sit here writing this I am closing out week 9 of my recovery and can barely walk. 20 rep squats you ask? Well yes indeed!! More than 135 pounds you ask? No sir!! And yes you heard me right. Crippled with soreness!!! 20 rep set with 135 and auxiliary work and I am sore as I was the first time I cracked open the Super Squats book I hold so sacred.

As I hold my ego in a sleeper hold and flashback to my fathers basement struggling to complete my 20th rep with 135 pounds crushing my bony shoulders I see a reflection in the mirror. A reflection of an almost 6 foot tall 165 pound teenager with dreams of great size and strength. As I stand doing shoulder flyes with a weight that would not intimidate a hamster I see the reflection of that memory looking back at me. This has been a recurring torment over the last 6 weeks. Images of the gains I sweat and bled over the last 26 years for lost in less time than it takes a werewolf to feed twice. Bones jutting out of my shirt and rapidly running out of belt loops to hold my trousers up on what used to be a pretty decent set of wheels.

“SNAP OUT OF IT WUSS ASS!!!”

OK I am back. The reality is that I did not lose that much. I am sitting at about 295 right now and strength and size are coming back with ease. The calendar accuses me of being on the wrong side of 37 years so yes my joints and such are needing a little TLC. Saturday after this coming one will see my return to the table and 2016 will be a most triumphant year I am sure. I will post updates from this point on chronicling any aspects of my training that I or anyone else feels was worth mentioning or requesting.

The take away of todays rant is that the mind is a deceitful monster if not kept in check. Do not let the most powerful weapon in your world have any degree of control. Constantly and consistently realign and refocus your mind to keep the right perspective and to focus its limitless power towards achievement and the accomplishments you are capable of. Take the leash off of it and it will crush your spirit and derail you for as long as you let it. Every situation has some angle you see it from that will keep you as on track as possible.

UPDATE:

Return to the table was a blast. Definitely lost some strength but nowhere near as bad as I had feared. Loads of lessons learned and will be posting tomorrow a few articles bred from the lessons I have been forced to learn over the last 3 months.