Previously, at Brandon Writes…
The weekend of March 17th, 2023, I binge ate an entire bag of Reese’s Easter eggs. I was stressed and wanted a way to make myself feel better, so I leaned into the one thing I knew that would do the trick.
I should mention, a few months prior, I had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, so eating an entire bag of chocolate and peanut butter Easter eggs was not the smartest choice I’ve made. Nonetheless, it was what I did.
The following morning, I made a decision. I had to get serious about my health. I already had a therapy session scheduled for the following week, so I was preparing to work on my mental health, but my physical health needed work too. So, I got up early and I cleaned out my garage which was a mess since moving in back in January.
After the trash was taken out, and various things moved around, I had a huge empty garage that would soon become my sanctuary. I didn’t have a vision, but I knew I needed some cardio, so I went to the local Academy Sports and bought a punching bag and some gloves.
My hands and arms hurt so bad that first day I almost thought I’d made a mistake. Who was I kidding? A punching bag? I hadn’t hit a bag in almost twenty years. I hadn’t done any serious exercise in more than ten years. That was how I had gotten to where I was then, the guy who got winded walking up stairs and who eats an entire bag of Reese’s when stressed.
My first therapy session went well. My therapist was able to help me realize some things that were causing some issues in my life. Mainly, I was freaking out over things I couldn’t control such as people being rude. Armed with this information, I was able to zero in on learning to accept things I cannot control which allowed me to calm my anger. I re-read The Cow in the Parking Lot, a great book on anger, and life got just a little bit better.
I began working the bag in my barebones gym almost daily. The workouts were short, but they got my heart rate up, and that was something. At times it felt like I wasn’t doing much, but it had to be better than sitting on the couch.
I purchased a single fifteen-pound dumbbell the following week and began doing some minor arm workouts such as curls and presses. Anything to wake up the old muscles and tell them it was time to grow.
Sadly, my body didn’t respond like it used to. It was almost alarming how weak I had become and how I couldn’t just jump back into exercising like when I was younger. So, I went looking for a primer, something to start building slight muscle and make this whole experience more enjoyable. That’s when I found Nick.
Nick’s Bodyweight Primer was a lifesaver. It’s a simple, fifteen-day exercise routine that focuses on the entire body. It was perfect for someone like me, whose knees ached, lower back was constantly giving me trouble, and shoulders felt like they’d pop out of the socket at any given moment.
The workouts were short and easy to do, and Nick’s explanation, along with fitness education were both exactly what I needed. I followed Nick’s plan almost till the end, when I got a bit sidetracked with something one level up.
I was looking for motivation and inspiration when I began this journey and I found it in a daily newsletter from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Adam Bornstein, and Daniel Ketchell called The Pump Daily. These three men put together a science based, no non-sense newsletter Monday through Friday full of fitness tips, the latest scientific studies, and recipes. It became the highlight of my morning, waking up to read about ways to get healthier. It kept my fitness goals fresh on the mind and really motivated me to keep at it.
At first there were rumors and then an official announcement, Arnold and his pals were creating an app focused on creating a positive fitness community. It would be scientific, and evidence based, and once again, no nonsense. I knew I wanted to be part of it, and since the initial launch of the app was essential a beta test and limited to 5,000 members, I did everything in my power to be part of it.
I set my alarm for the time when the newsletter usually arrives in my inbox. It wasn’t there, so I spent all day refreshing and waiting for the launch to happen. Once it did, I registered and went home and discussed with my wife the options. I could pay the $99 a year for a yearly membership, or take advantage of the $249 lifetime membership which included some neat perks such as:
- A free pass to the 2024 Arnold Classic
- A special meet and greet with Arnold at the Arnold Classic
- A motivational conversation with Arnold via Zoom
- A Pump Club Founding Member T-Shirt
We decided it was worth the money for the lifetime access, so I joined and that night I began the Bodyweight Foundation: Starting from Scratch program that was on April 18th.
So, within a month, I went from bingeing a bag of Reese’s to creating a home gym, doing a bodyweight primer, and then investing in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s app and workout routine. And I haven’t even mentioned my eating habit changes.
Five years ago, I dropped almost eighty pounds by counting calories. I rarely did any exercise, and instead focused on just watching what I ate. I got into a routine and after about a year, the weight had come off and my knees thanked me.
My life changed dramatically that year, I exited a marriage, found new love, and began to settle into a better relationship. My wife, whom I was just dating at the time, is an amazing cook and I began to enjoy her various dishes. Slowly the pounds packed on, as I no longer counted my calories. Then, the pandemic snuck up on all of us, and I paid even less attention to what I ate since my mind was preoccupied with other things.
I could see it in the mirror and felt it in my clothes. I had gotten rid of my “bigger” clothes when I lost the weight, so suddenly my shirts began feeling tight and I went from a large to an extra-large and finally back to the double extra-large. I felt some shame from the weight gain, but I didn’t even try to stop it. I just let it sneak up on me, and I felt defeated.
Counting calories came easy to me, so I knew at any time I could turn it back on and lose the weight. I just needed the motivation to do so. That came when I went through two months of tests to determine the damage to my liver when my liver enzymes came back high on some basic bloodwork.
Then my wife began attending Jazzercise and seeing her results and how much better she felt, it just seemed like it was the logical next step. So, the same weekend I bought the punching bag, I began counting my calories once again. I try and eat under 1900 a day, and thus far I’ve lost seventeen pounds in just under two months.
I began experimenting with healthy food choices that could aid me in a healthier lifestyle such as overnight oats. Cheap and packed with protein (we use Kodiak’s Protein oats) this became my breakfast staple. After a few weeks, we invested in some protein powder and protein bars, and suddenly I’m not eating as much and feeling fuller for more of the day. Imagine that!
I also restricted my caffeine intake and cut off drinking caffeine by 1 PM each day. That way it has time to make its way out of my system and I can sleep better at night.
I was already taking a multivitamin, a blood pressure pill, a statin, and vitamin D, so I added fish oil to my list of pills and some glucosamine to hopefully help with the joints. I should have done my research beforehand, because the evidence for glucosamine is shaky at best, but I’ll finish off the bottle.
My therapist recommended EDMR to help me deal with some underlying issues and while I found it helpful the first time, the second time it was a disaster. I left angry and frustrated, and in a way, it was the best thing for me. I got home, stewed in my anger, and realized the only person that was going to save me was me. I wrote what I jokingly call my manifesto, which is just various thoughts and ideas to guide me through the next phase of my life. I decided I wanted to be in the best shape of my life in my 40’s, and I doubled downed on how serious I began taking things.
I installed a great Habit tracking app called Habit to help keep me on track. I started eliminating things in my life such as wasted internet, television, and video game time, as well as trinkets, toys, and other items of a life that no longer exists. I gave myself a clean foundation to begin rebuilding my life on.
My therapist called me back in since she noticed my frustration and we cleared the air and got back on track. I need to work out my mind the same way I’m working out my body.
While I won’t go through everything I wrote, since it’s very personal to me, I will say this: I no longer want to be a victim or brand myself as a victim. I do not want to be defined by my shortcomings or any other label. I realized that help is never coming and if I want to be better, it’s up to me to make it happen. It’s part of the reason why this flag hangs in my garage gym to remind me of that.
My garage gym expanded thanks to some donated mats from my mom’s old Tae Kwon Do school and a small weight bench my brother wasn’t using. I found a great deal on some adjustable kettlebells and invested in a nice big fan. My mom also gave me a battle rope, which she could no longer use, which gives me another option for cardio instead of the bag.
I wrote all of this to explain where I am right now. The last couple of months have been life changing and it’s part of the reason why I’ve cleared off my blog and started fresh. I want the content to match my current state of mind. I have created an Archive page, which features various posts from over the years of varying quality. I call it a sort of “Greatest Hits.” It’s all pretty off-topic in comparison to what I’m writing about now, but it’s a little way to preserve the past while focusing my full attention on the present.
In a little over six months, I’ll reach my fortieth birthday. I want to be the best possible version of myself when I turn forty. I know I won’t be ripped, and nothing will be perfect, but I want to be mentally and physically better off than I was anytime in my thirties. I re-titled my blog Brandon’s Mid-Life Reset because that is exactly what this is. I’m creating the life I want to lead for the second half of this time on this crazy rock floating in space. I’m glad you are here to join me.