The challenge was over and now I had to reset my goals. When you have achieved a goal, you are happy. When that happiness subsides, you are left with a little bit of an empty feeling and you are a little bit lost. Thoughts like “Now what?” start entering your mind and you lose the drive and hunger that you had when you are pursuing something so diligently. I was talking to Morgan (Tim’s partner for those playing at home) and she said to me, “Now what…” I said “I don’t know…I hadn’t really thought about it.” She then explained to me that she was going to compete in an Australia wide 12 week challenge that started the week after the end of the 8 week challenge and asked me if I wanted to compete in the male equivalent version. I was physically and mentally exhausted after the 8 week challenge and seriously doubted if I could have possibly backed it up for another 12 weeks. So I said that I would think about it. I mulled it over for about 2 days before deciding that this would be the ultimate challenge for me. Going another 12 weeks of strict diet and exercise was a tall order but it was definitely not impossible. I jumped back on the wagon and registered on the 5th of August for a start on the 17th of August for a first week of November finish. I had that competitive drive back.
This challenge is Australia wide so I knew that I had to lift my game and be even stricter with diet and exercise. I put plans into place and decided that I’ve got to be in it to win it. I was aiming for gold. Beat everyone in Australia.
The first few weeks went along smoothly as I saw remarkable changes with my strength and cardio. My squats and deadlifts improved out of sight and I added a lot of abdominal and glute strengthening exercises to my program to work on my perceived weaknesses. The challenge of pushing yourself to your breaking point and getting up and going again is something that I love. When I am exhausted, I am alive! The pain that I feel will subside and progression and improvement will take its place. There was a course on the electronic bike called “Savage Revenge” which is basically 32.2km with steep inclines mixed in with long, winding uphill mountain passes. The hardest course on the bikes and the ultimate challenge. In January of this year, I set a goal to beat this course in less than 1 hour. It was one of those pipe dreams back in January but I decided to have a go and try and complete it. After 6 previous attempts, I achieved the goal and conquered “Savage” in 59:07. Everything was running smoothly…until.
Week 5 of the challenge saw me pick up my second significant injury. I had a really bad pec minor strain during a heavy bench press session that prevented me from doing any chest or shoulder exercises for 3-4 weeks. The frustration of not being able to use certain parts of your body is very overwhelming at times however I refused to let this little setback slow me down or stop me dead in my tracks. Like I said before, there are ways around it and I focused on more isolation exercises as opposed to those very heavy and technical compound lifts. I see it with a lot of my clients and the boot camp crew that they work around injuries all the time. They do it with very little fuss and fanfare and I drew inspiration from that.
At the start of week 9, comes a brand new challenge…”The Cut.” A cut involves reducing your calories, and carbs even further to create deficits between the amount of calories consumed and the amount of calories burned. This also involves getting up before my morning sessions and doing at least 30 minutes of cardio on an empty stomach so I can utilize my fat cells as energy consumption. There are about 6 million things that I could think of doing before getting up at 3.15am and doing cardio in an empty gym but there is a saying that I love. “To be the best, you have to be prepared to do the things that others won’t.” I’d rather be sleeping but I’d rest in the comfort of knowing that there probably wouldn’t be another person working as hard as I am. The drive to be the best Brad Carroll that I can possibly be is what makes it a little bit easier to get out of bed. The example of what I want to set for my clients is what makes me get into my car at 3.20am. I mean the birds aren’t even up at that time! They wouldn’t be stupid enough I’d think. Do not ever waste a day. You will never get it back.
The little challenges and competitions are what keep things exciting. My longest serving client Noel wanted to work on his plank after the 8 week challenge as he had heard that the trainer plank record was at 12 minutes by one of our previous trainers and the client record was at 15 minutes by my client Sam. Noel is the easiest person to train because you give him a target and he will relentlessly track it down and will not stop until he beats it. Little did he know that I was secretly gunning for the best time also. I witnessed Noel go past the trainer record and then go past Sam’s record and wanted to get to the elusive 20 minute mark. He got to 19 minutes and 45 seconds which was a remarkable effort and at the start of a session; I asked him if he wanted to go for 20 minutes. He arrogantly said “I don’t need to. I already have the record. I’m the best and I have nothing to prove!” I chuckled and said “That would have been true 3 weeks ago but someone has beaten you.” He got his tail up and said “Who?! Sam?! Tim Morgan?!” to which I replied “Yours truly.” Noel looked at me for a bit with a perplexed look on his face and said “You? Bullshit!” I laughed and told him that I cracked 25 minutes three weeks ago. So he challenged me to a plank off to prove to him that I could beat him. The reveal was on the Monday and the plank off was on the Thursday. The first 6 minutes of the plank off consisted of Noel trash talking me and trying to get in my head which didn’t really work. I knew that he was going to give it everything he had so I wanted to do well and make sure that he didn’t quit. When we passed 19 minutes 45 seconds, I gave him a thumbs up 1) because beaten his record and has music on so he wouldn’t be able to hear me anyways and 2) because I was too bloody tired to talk to him anyways!. Noel dropped at an amazing time of 22 minutes and 11 seconds. Two years ago, his first plank was about 50 seconds. I honestly was happier seeing him get to his goal of 20+ minutes than beating him in a plank off. Just because I wanted to raise the bar and also beat my personal record, I battled, sweated and grinded out a 30 minute plank. The bar has been raised and Noel has vowed to go beyond 30 minutes. Wonder if he will ever catch me? I highly doubt it but let him keep punishing himself I think!
Heading into the final 4 weeks of the challenge, I was a little bit concerned and started to seriously doubt myself because I believed that I could have possibly given more to the challenge. My weight and body fat percentage only dropped slightly and I didn’t see the changes that I wanted to see in the pictures between week 4 and week 8. The decision that I come up with to get the results that I was looking for was to look at exactly what I was eating to the calorie and make the necessary changes to my diet. I found out that I was eating about 5 times as much protein as a person my size should be eating and that I should back off the consumption of protein. That roughly translated into 500 less calories per day just by reducing my protein intake. I also decided to get up every morning at 3am and do one hour of cardio every day. I needed to create calorie deficits to help me lose the body fat and weight that I felt that I needed to lose. The 3am wake ups were absolutely brutal. I remember my alarm going off that first morning and I was so exhausted and I really had to force myself out of bed. I got to the empty gym at 3:30am, the music that was playing was gangster rap with artists like Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem. It was far too early in the morning to listen to hard core rap. The sessions were tough as the idea was to burn calories on an empty stomach and those first sessions on the treadmill was painful and lonely. It seriously felt like I had no one to lean on for help and support. The sessions started getting easier but I felt like after a week or two that I was heading into a little bit of burnout. I felt like I had nothing left to give and wanted to quit.
Week 11 was a very emotional week for me. I knew the finish line was in sight but the lack of a decent night’s sleep paired with a calorie deprived state really affected my ability to pay attention and focus at work and even on the roads driving around. I started feeling like I hated this challenge. It was consuming my every bit of strength on a physical and mental standpoint. People started asking if I was alright and I felt like I couldn’t contribute to conversations or give people my time and attention. I was 100% consumed by this challenge. I laid in bed night after night worried about what would happen to myself if I didn’t do as well as I would have hoped. I doubted myself and wondered if I had what it takes to win. There were plenty of times where I wanted to sleep in and miss a week of training. I felt like I was isolating myself away from everyone including family and friends and I felt like I didn’t have the enthusiasm in most of my sessions with my clients. I was not me. I very rarely smiled or laughed, I very rarely felt empathy towards other people and I was just simply burnt out. I had nothing left.
For the First part of Brads journey click here www.4ubodyfitness.com.au/the-journey
For the Third part of Brads journey click here www.4ubodyfitness.com.au/the-journey-part3
4 U Body Fitness
Mobile Personal Training Specialist