Thursday, December 25, 2014

My 2014 Recap

As I sit here on my couch on Christmas night looking back at this past year I can’t do anything but smile. The year of 2014 has been a great and interesting year for me. At the beginning of the year I made 5 goals and wrote them down on paper knowing all of them required work but I didn’t realize how one goal would change my life forever. Below were my 2014 goals I made for myself and the outcome of those goals.
  1. Hit 1000# and 1100# total on the platform.
  2. Lose 30# of fat.
  3. Start putting money into my 401K.
  4. Go back to college.
  5. Become more active in church.

Hit a 1000# and 1100# total on the platform

In April I competed in the 2014 APA RAW National Powerlifting Championship. It was here that I hit a 1047.2 pound total with a 341.7 pound squat, a 292.1 bench, and a 413.4 pound deadlift. This met the first part of my goal and I was on track to breaking a 1100 pound total in November when we had to move to South Carolina. I will be back in 2015 looking to break that 1100 pound total and then some.

Lose 30# of fat.

This year I didn’t do too well in losing body fat. My goal was 30 pounds of body fat and I only lost about 10 pounds total of body fat. At my lowest I got down to about 252 pounds in around July after hiring a diet coach. Next year the goal is more and we will see where I go.
BodPod FB Post

Start putting money into my 401K

This isn’t a goal I even came close to meeting. It was added as a stretch goal to really push myself. In April I realized we were going to be about 5,000 dollars short in December if we didn’t change something. We made slow changes to our budget but then we were hit with moving to South Carolina. Somehow our budget made it through by God’s grace. Because of having to keep such a tight budget with expenses I wasn’t able to elect to put any money into my 401K but this will be on my goals list for 2015 and it won’t be a stretch goal.

Go back to college

In June with the help of my manager Justin I went back to college for one 5 week class at AIU. I had planned to continue but when the big move came around in August AIU wouldn’t let me take a temporary leave of absence because I hadn’t gone to school for 1 quarter yet so after taking one class I had to drop out of school again. I didn’t reenroll into classes after moving but I have been working with a mentor to figure the easiest path for me to get a Bachelors degree with the 131 credits I currently have. Maybe next year will bring better news for college and a degree.

Become more active in Church

This is the goal I have made the most progress on this year. Early in the year God spoke to me for the first time. It was weird to be scared and happy at the same time but more scared. God told me one word “unconditional”. ("The first time God spoke to me") In July I fully proclaimed my love for God to the public by being baptized by two men I have looked up to for years. Soon after being baptized God spoke to me again. This time I was on a walk praying about if I should take the job in South Carolina or not. It was 1 day from the deadline for me to turn in my decision. As I’m walking God tells me “I will follow you where every you go”. At first this was confusing because it wasn’t an answer of yes or no. It was an answer of I will love you no matter what decision you make but the words “I will follow you” lead me to believe I should take the job. In early August God spoke to me again. He told me I was put on this earth to become a leader and it’s time for me to start being a leader. This is really confusing when you don’t know who or what to lead but I had faith in God’s word. I really didn’t know where this would take me. In October is when I realized what becoming a leader really meant. I was given the opportunity to start my own Bible Study small group at my work if I wanted to do it and something else clicked. It was “Husband’s must lead their wives”. Your probably thinking “How sexist or chauvinistic!” Well it means the husband should do everything he can to lead his wife to Christ even if that requires reading the Bible to her. Husbands should be the Godly example for her to want to become closer to Christ. In November I was given an opportunity to become a youth leader at my church. It was then I finally found why God called me to move to South Carolina. God called me to South Carolina to be a leader.
So what does 2015 have in store for me. I have some plans in the works but I won’t let all those out yet. God has had a great influence in my life and he has given me visions of the future. People wouldn’t believe it but I’ve had visions of becoming a motivational speaker and even a preacher. Yeah! The temperature of Hell may just drop a few degrees if those visions are true but I have faith in what God has told me and showed me. All I can say is the outlook for 2015 looks hard, life changing, and exciting and that’s all we can really ask for.

You are here to live your purpose. Search your mind and follow your heart. Be willing to make a radical change in order to live your dream. It takes courage to pursue a life that is calling you. Answer the call! ~ Les Brown 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Training the mental game for maximum effort

The past couple weeks I have hit some big personal records (PR) in the gym. At my gym we follow the Westside Conjugate programming style so we are performing various max lefts almost every week. After a few of my friends said “What are you doing?” or “I need to start working out with you.” I realized I had found something.

Back in April a couple weeks before my powerlifting meet I got this idea and toyed with a little. It wasn't as clear then on what it would turn into but I knew I might have landed on something. Lifting weights is just as much mental as it is physical. After my meet I knew for 30 days my strength would be crap so I didn't bring the idea back up to test it because it would just be a useless test with false results.

Now about mid May I decided that I would try playing this mental game again. I say play because in a lift that requires constant time under tension (the squat, bench press, or deadlift) you have to learn where your black hole is. The black hole is that point where you are about to black out but still have strength to keep pressing on. Basically the lights go out but you are still in full control. About 2 weeks of playing with my blackout threshold I learned something that completely changed my thinking on lifting maximum weight. 1 of 3 things is going to happen when lifting maximum weight.
  1. You are going to make the lift.
  2. You are going to do a maximum effort isometric hold and then fail.
  3. You are going to black out.
I know now you are probably saying “Josh you are crazy”. Well you are probably right. When you approach a lift you can’t think “This weight is heavy and I may fail”. You have to walk up to that bar and tell yourself “I am going to make this lift no matter what. I am going to stay with the weight even if it takes me 20 seconds of constant pain wrenching tension to complete this lift.” You have 3 types of muscles in your body: fast acting, medium acting, and slow acting. Why do I tell you this? Well when you are in a grinding squat most people dump the weight after 1 or 2 seconds because they think “Oh this is heavy and I’m not going to get it so I'll just dump it”. You can't do this because in 1 to 2 seconds only your fast acting muscles have activated. You haven't given enough time for the brain to signal to fire more neurons to activate more muscles. Now let’s say you are in a slow grinder on the way up and you've told yourself you are going to stay with this lift, one of two things are going to happen. You are going to do a maximum effort isometric hold and then dump the weight or you are slowly going to wait for the brain to fire enough neurons to activate the medium acting muscles and then the slow acting muscles and slowly inch this weight up making the lift. While grinding this weight out you may be circling the black hole and you may even enter the black hole. This is why it’s good to know where your black out threshold is or just say screw it, blackout and hope for the best on the way down. If you are like me and don’t care then you may want to lift in a power rack or with safety chains so you don't hurt yourself.

I know I was a little confusing but lifting is as much psychological as it is physical. You must train yourself to know I am going to stick with the weight because 1 of the 3 things I listed above are going to happen. The worst thing that can happen is blacking out but really you are more than likely just going to do an isometric hold. Hold that weight for 10 or even 20 seconds if you have to but know that I'm not going to give up on this fight until I've given my brain every second it has to activate every muscle I have to get this bar up. Then if your body is physically strong enough you will persevere and make a good lift. This mentality has scored me multiple 20 and 30 pound PRs on lifts in the past 2 weeks. Keep in mind that you aren't going to be able to master this overnight or in a week. It's going to take some practice.