A couple of years ago, I was nearly 200 pounds. That is a lot of weight on a 5’6” frame.
Truth is, I was disgusted with myself.
I did not like what I saw in the mirror. Clothes were not fitting right anymore, I would get winded mowing the lawn, my belly giggled when I brushed my teeth, my head was constantly in a fog and I found it difficult to concentrate.
I was a high level athlete at one point. Competing against people that went on to the Olympic Games and professional careers. I had never been ‘fat’ in my life, let alone in the ‘obese’ range.
Some may be ok with this. Some may say that I’m just getting older and that is the way it is.
To those people, I say bullshit.
Growing older should not be an excuse to get lazy and let yourself go.
In his book, ‘Can’t Hurt Me’, David Goggins says that “Most people operate at 40% capacity.” I didn’t realize how true this statement was until I lost nearly 60 pounds. My head cleared, I had energy again, and my motivation and drive skyrocketed.
When I had Olympic dreams, I used to track every aspect of my training. Distance, intensity, how I felt, what I ate, how much sleep I got, etc… This data really helped me to see trends in my training. I could see what was working and what wasn’t. I also could see early on when I was overtraining and scale back accordingly so I didn’t burn out.
I am a very data driven person, be it in athletics, business, or whatever. If you don’t have metrics to track trends and measure against, how do you know if you are improving in whatever it is you are trying to do?
As I recommit to becoming an athlete again, I have also begun to track my fitness again. Definitely not as rigorous as I once did, but I do need metrics in order to track and measure my progress. It is just part of who I am.
Yesterday I did a simple benchmark workout called “The 12 Minutes of Death”.
The exercises are ones anyone can do anytime, anywhere: Push-ups, Squats, Sit-ups, and Burpees. The format is simple enough too…do each exercise for 2 minutes, how ever many you can do in that time, with a minute rest between each exercise. No cheating or modifying.
I don’t care how fit you think you are, this benchmark workout will kick your ass, that is IF you push yourself to your limits.
Push-ups – 28
Squats with a jump – 50
Sit-ups – 47
Burpees with a jump – 20
As my fellow StoryAthlete, Jay Lieberman, put it:
“What the hell…I ride a Peloton bike. I play racquetball. I jog. I think I’m in decent shape. This 12-minutes. Pushups. Squats. Situps and burpees. But damn, I’m sweating buckets. I just did it. I just finished a couple of minutes ago. It just made me realize, right when you feel like you’re in pretty good shape. Just this simple 12-minutes is a whole nother shape level. Just 12-minutes. Just 2-minutes of each of these moves. I swear to god, it’s daunting now. Thanks, CJ”
It was tough. I’m not going to lie, I pushed so hard I felt like puking when I was done, and I am still feeling it the next day.
But I am already looking forward to when I get to do it again in a month and see and measure my progress.
I sit here this morning thinking back to my childhood..
My hopes, dreams, wants, desires, plans, what I wanted in life, where I thought my journey would take me, and where I ultimately ended up.
I always envied those that came out of high school with a plan and executed it.
That was not me.
When I was in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. While everyone was visiting and applying to colleges, I was watching from the sidelines. In fact, I did not send in my first application for college acceptance until April of my senior year.
Looking back, I am lucky I even got accepted after applying so late.
I originally declared a major of elementary education. After years of teaching swimming lessons and working in a child care early on, I knew I liked teaching and working with kids.
I spent 3 years teaching preschool and soon came to realize that teaching kids wasn’t for me. It wasn’t the kids I didn’t like, it was the parents that made me hate the job.
I spent the next 20 years in EMS.
Firefighter, EMT, Dispatcher, Police Reserve.
In EMS, eventually your body or mind gives out and forces you to retire. For me, it was the growing wear and tear on my body. I knew that if I did not call it quits when the opportunity presented itself, that I was going to eventually suffer a long term injury.
From there, I knew that whatever I did next, it had to involve helping people. It is hardwired into me. I also knew that I can be hard headed and do not make a very good employee. I am just too independently minded for that, and spending 20 years in the back of an ambulance calling your own shots doesn’t help.
I entered the field of real estate and became a Realtor, where I still am today. For me, it embodies the best of all worlds. I can educate clients, and continue to help and protect them as they navigate the predatory world of real estate. Best yet, instead of seeing people in the worst moments of their life, I can now be part of some of their happiest memories.
Along this journey there have been many, many twists and turns.
Love and loss, happiness and despair, success and failure…
But nothing could have prepared me for where my journey has taken me.
Minnesota is one of only 6 States that does not have a law on the books that protects women from terminating parental rights of their attacker in cases of rape.
Currently my case sits in review before the Minnesota Supreme Court as myself and my wife continue to fight for Women’s Rights in cases of rape.
I don’t know where this journey and fight will take me, but I do know that until my last breath, I will fight so that no woman, or child, in Minnesota has to endure what me and my wife are going through.
Whether through the courts or through the legislature, whether I find a law maker that will fight for our cause or I run for office and fight for our cause myself, I will not rest until women in Minnesota can rest easy knowing that they are safe from their attacker trying to continue to exert power and control over them.
A woman is more than an object of desire, or an incubator for a baby. A woman and her child are not the property of a man, even though Minnesota law continues to say otherwise.
This is my journey and my cause, and it is one I am proud to continue to fight for.
Last week, following yet another snow storm, the roads were terrible. Many were impassable due to snow drifts over 6 feet tall, or travel was not recommended. This lasted for days.
I made the decision that I was not going to hockey that week. The drive just was not worth it. But I was curious how my team did, so I texted one of my teammates.
“How did the game go tonight?”
“We won. 3-2”
“Nice. Did everyone behave?”
This is not good.
I run a hockey league and this season has been rough. Players are taking the game way too serious and it’s getting really chippy on the ice. We all have jobs and families to take care of, and I take the safety of my players very serious.
The next day, I come to find out that 2 players were ejected that night due to Unsportsman Like Conduct. This kind of behavior is not what this League is about.
As I talk to my Captains and try to piece together what happened, my mood plummets, and in turn this affects my day.
I have work to do. I have phone calls to make, emails to return, and a business to run, but I’m annoyed and my mind is in a fog and not in a place to concentrate to do anything.
Off days happen. Somedays you just wake up and everything is just ‘off’. Other days, external factors beyond your control can sabotage your day.
The one thing we do control is our attitude and how we choose to react to those situations that are ‘seemingly beyond our control’.
I say ‘seemingly beyond our control’ for a reason. I have found that most of the ‘drama’ that affects our days and moods are factors that we had control of at one point, and either choose not to deal with it, or dealt with it improperly.
In my situation above, I choose not to deal with the factors that were present weeks ago, and that eventually lead to 2 players being ejected from a game, and me having to deal with a mess of unhappy people.
If I would have dealt with this weeks ago when the warning signs presented themselves, I likely would not be in the situation I was in. But instead, I choose the easy path and did nothing. Now I am taking hours out of my day to deal with a situation that likely could have been derailed weeks ago in far less time.
I need to get back and fix the immediate problem right now though….me.
The past is the past, and I can’t change that. All I can do is focus on the now and move forward.
Athletics have always been my outlet for stress. I have found that a good, hard sweat can can cure what ails me most of the time. So I head downstairs, jump on the bike, and sweat it out for 30 minutes.
The result…a new Justin full of energy and a clear mind.
Off days happen. How we choose to deal with those days is what helps to define us.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #StoryAthlete
Like most children, when I was a kid I participated in team sports.
Hockey, baseball, football….I played them.
Being on a team was powerful. It forced you to show up, or you let the team down. The team encouraged and pushed you, forcing you to be better than you were the day before.
Being on a team, whether it be a sports team, work team, academic team, etc… by its very nature can help elevate a person to be more than they presently are, just by showing up.
A team can support, teach, encourage, and/or nurture a person to be more than they think they can be.
One of my favorite examples of this is a Crossfit gym.
Here many individuals come together of various backgrounds and athletic abilities, but they all share one goal, to get fit. All members do the same workout each day. The workload may be scaled back for some depending on their level of fitness, but everyone goes through the same workout and suffers together.
What is magical about the Crossfit gym though is how everyone comes together to cheer and encourage each other on. Most often the ‘hero’ of the gym is not the athlete that finishes the fastest, or moves the most weight, it is the person who is suffering the most. The person who doesn’t give up when every muscle fiber in their body is telling them to do just that.
This is the person the team rally’s behind, pushing them forward, encouraging them, and helping them to grow. All because they made the decision to just show up and not quit.
As I grew up, I gravitated away from team sports and became more focused on individual sports; cycling, track, speed skating, cross country skiing.
I became obsessed with pushing my limits, and to see how much pain I could endure.
Individual sports are not about winning or being the fastest at something, that just happens to be the outcome. Individual sports are about how much pain a person can endure and continue to push forward through that pain. The person who thrives in individual sports is the person who is willing to suffer the most.
When I was racing bikes, it was easy to go out on those nice warm, dry days and put in the work. But when it was cold, rainy, windy….those were the tough days. Those days were a battle of mind and will.
I had a name for those days, National Sucker Day. It was a phrase I read once by Stephen Roche, an Irish Professional Cyclist. When a National Sucker Day was declared, I stayed home and didn’t put in the work.
Because I didn’t show up, my racing suffered, especially in the Spring races.
I didn’t have the form I needed to be able to compete against those that did go out and put in the work.
The older I get, the more I see this philosophy of ‘just showing up’ applies to all aspects of life.
Whether it is Body, Mind, Business, or Relationships, the person that shows up day after day, and is willing to put in the work, is the person that will see the success they seek in life.
This is why I show up and 5am every morning and put in the work.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #StoryAthlete
The phone rings, I pick it up.
“This is Justin.”
The voice on the other end usually makes some small talk explaining their situation, or has questions about a property, but it usually cumulates into the statement as to why they are calling…
“I want to buy a house.”
“I can help you with that.”, I reply. “Can I ask you a few questions first?”
At this point, people usually expect me to ask about what they are looking for, how many bedrooms do they need, how many bathrooms, what city or neighborhood do you want to live in, etc…
Everyone wants to jump right to the Golden Ring first and talk about the wants, wishes, and desires they have in a home.
They want to dream about that beautiful backyard that they want to come home to at the end of the day and relax in, or envision Christmas mornings with family, opening presents around the Christmas Tree.
They are tired of renting, tired of ‘throwing their money away on rent’, ready to start a family, ready to have a place to call ‘Home’, whatever the reason may be.
But that is not how this conversation is going to go.
You don’t get to the top of Everest, without putting in the work and laying the foundation first.
“What is your household’s gross annual income per year?”
“What is your current rent payment?”
“How much savings do you have?”
“What is your current outstanding debt?”
“Do you have any outstanding judgments or collections?”
“Do you have any recent bankruptcies or foreclosures?”
“What is your current credit score?”
“How long have you been at your current job?”
“Do you have a 401k or 403b you are able to borrow from, if necessary?”
“Have you spoken with, or are currently working with, a lender?”
They key to homeownership is not just having a solid income, or figuring that because you pay ‘X’-amount on rent each month, that you can afford a mortgage.
The true key to homeownership is having a solid financial foundation in place so that you can successfully own a home, and all of the care and maintenance that goes with it.
I recently had a client that, based on their income, could afford a $500,000 home.
Unfortunately, they had 3 cars that were less than 5 years old, all with loans on them; and substantial credit card debt due to living a lavish lifestyle.
They were paying more on rent than a mortgage on a $500k home would be, and making all of their other monthly obligations, but because of their debt-to-income ratio and lack of available credit, they could not qualify for a mortgage.
They felt they were destined to rent forever.
I referred them to a Mortgage Broker I know and trust, and together we came up with a plan to lay the financial foundation they needed to achieve their dream of owning a home.
This past month, we Closed on a beautiful ‘new build’ that they helped design with their Builder. From the plot of land the home sits on, to every detail and finish in the home, they helped choose and design it.
A year ago, they never dreamed this was possible.
Now they get to enjoy their first Christmas, and build future memories, in their ‘forever’ home.
This did not happen overnight though. In fact, it took about a year to get their debt and credit cleaned up to the point that we could get them into their dream home.
Unfortunately, for every success story, there are countless other examples of people that reach out to me for help in achieving homeownership, but are not willing to make the sacrifices needed to achieve it.
These are the people that break my heart because I know that if they can stop focusing on the short term sacrifices they have to make, and instead focus on the long term result and enjoyment they want, they could easily achieve that dream of homeownership they desire.
Achieving your goals or dreams, regardless if it is to buy a home or lose 20 pounds, is the result of playing the long game, making sacrifices, and putting in the work vs focusing on short term results.
Just like building your dream home, to win at the long game, it all starts with laying the proper foundation first.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #IODcommitted #ImpactoftheDay#PoweredbyImpactClub
Some days we have it, some days we don’t.
Today, I don’t have it.
My head is foggy, I feel lethargic, I find myself zoning out frequently, and I just feel exhausted.
In this day and age of instant gratification, it would be easy to find something on Netflix and give into that unmotivated little devil on my shoulder, but that is not going to help me be 1% better than I was yesterday.
In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear writes, “Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years. We all deal with setbacks, but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits.”
Habits, ritual, routine….we all have them, and I have found that on days that I am lacking motivation, it’s usually because I have lost focus of my daily habits.
Take a shower.
Make the bed.
These seems so simple and trivial, but when combined together, they help to create the mindset I need to attack the day. When I skip one, or more, of those habits, my whole day can be thrown out of whack.
In athletics, these habits are called ‘fundamentals’, and any good coach knows that when their athlete is struggling, it is best to focus on the fundamentals to get the athlete back on track.
The secret to long term success, in any endeavor, is learning how to motivate yourself, and hold yourself accountable, especially on days when you are lacking the motivation to be productive.
Falling back to the comfort and familiarity of my daily habits helps me tremendously on days that I lack the motivation to be productive.
#KJHouseAndHome #BeGenerous #IODcommitted #ImpactoftheDay#PoweredbyImpactClub
I had just got home after a 16 hour shift on the ambulance.
Often times during a long shift, you have some downtime that makes the long hours bearable. Time to get a nap in, sit down and enjoy a lunch or dinner, or just mindlessly watch TV and clear your head before the next call comes in.
Not this shift.
No, we ran non-stop, call after call, from the moment I came to work until I returned to base and called it a day.
It was only supposed to be a 12 hour shift, but that is how life in emergency services works. You quickly learn that rarely do you ever get off on time, and that you should never make plans for after your shift. The moment that you do, you are guaranteed to run hours past your scheduled ‘off’ time.
I was physically and mentally exhausted.
All I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep for the next day or two.
As luck would have it, my phone rang and it was an old buddy of mine from college that I had not seen in a while.
“Justin, my man, what are you doing? I’m at Sweeney’s right now. You should come down, have a drink, and meet this new girl I am seeing.”
No, all I really want to do is go to sleep, but I am usually not one to turn down an invitation to hang out, so I got dressed and ventured back out into the cold to go meet up with my friend.
The bar was not that crowded, so they were easy to find. It also helped that they were right by the front door.
I sat down to a table of 4, with me making 5, made introductions, ordered a drink, and caught up with my old friend. Considering how tired I was, I was having a good time.
Unfortunately, the new girl he was seeing could not say the same.
She clearly did not want to be there.
We had a couple pleasant conversations, and bonded over some paranormal experiences we both had, but if she could be anywhere in the world at that moment, it was not at Sweeney’s in Saint Paul.
Ultimately, the night ended, we said our goodbyes, and went our separate ways.
One day while wasting time scrolling through Facebook, a message popped up from that girl I met a Sweeney’s a few months back.
Turns out things had not worked out between her and my old friend, and she was asking if my offer to teach her how to snowboard still stands.
For those that don’t know me, snowboarding is my religion.
I have been involved in the sport since the days when snowboards were only allowed on a handful of hills, and we were treated like outcasts that had no business sharing those gleaming white cathedrals with skiers.
I have been competing in, coaching, and teaching snowboarding for well over a decade at this point, so I thought nothing of sharing my love of the sport with yet another who wanted to learn.
A weekend was picked.
Plans were made.
And for the first time, I actually got a chance to talk to and get to know this girl.
She was as smart, as she was beautiful, and as I would later find out, one of the strongest people I will ever meet.
8 years and a few twists and turns later, we are married and are raising 2 beautiful little boys together.
If you would have asked me after that first night that I met my future wife if we would date and eventually marry, I would have laughed at you.
Honestly, based on how annoyed she was being at the bar that night, I never expected to see her again.
Funny how life has a way of working out.
If I would have stuck to my original plans and declined my friends invite to hang out, I likely would have never met my wife.