This podcast is a story about overcoming oppressive obstacles. It’s about facing reality head-on, coming to terms with the truth, and deciding to make a positive change.
Specifically, it’s the story of Brad Jensen and how he beat addiction to reinvent himself and become known as “the sober bodybuilder.”
I’ll save the details for the interview, but in broad strokes, Brad was a fitness-interested teenager who found himself turning to alcohol and eventually hard drugs to get through life. This led to a decade of serious addiction, becoming a drug dealer, multiple arrests, homelessness, and repeated cycles of recovery and relapse.
In other words, Brad has had to deal with far more hardship than the average Joe, but he was able to take responsibility, not succumb to a victim mindset, and completely turn his life around. And while most of you listeners luckily won’t have to deal with the same issues or episodes of intense withdrawal, I think his story will be inspiring and motivating.
In case you’re not familiar with Brad, he’s a fellow podcaster (The Key Nutrition Podcast) and coach, who’s used his passion for fitness to help beat addiction, remain sober for over 8 years now, and help other people get fit and healthy. In this interview, he shares his powerful story about his transformation from an anxious kid to a homeless heroin-addict, to a successful entrepreneur and business owner.
In this interview, we chat about . . .
- Why Brad turned to alcohol and drugs and how he got addicted to heroin
- Dealing with withdrawal and his time spent in jail
- Other addictive behaviors like looking at pornography
- The difference between being sober and recovery
- Why people relapse during recovery and how he finally broke that cycle
- And more . . .
So if you want to hear an inspiring story of how someone faced the truth, overcame addiction, and turned his life around, you’re going to enjoy this podcast.
6:50 – What was happening before 2012?
12:39 – What happened after high school?
38:27 – How did you start to turn your life around?
Mentioned on the Show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Hello and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today to hear a story about facing reality, coming to terms with reality, with the hard truth of how you’re living your life and with what it is going to take to make a true long-term lasting and positive change. And this is the personal.
Of Brad Jensen, who is also known as the sober bodybuilder on Instagram, and it’s how he beat addiction. Hardcore addiction, not addiction to donuts like addiction to the most addictive substances in the world, and reinvented himself. And I’ll save the details for the interview, but Brad was at one point a, a fitness enthusiast as a kid, a fitness interested teenager, who then found himself turning to alcohol and eventually hard drugs just to get through another day, and then came serious addiction, drug dealing.
Multiple arrests, homelessness and repeated cycles of recovery and relapse. A lot of hardship, a lot more hardship than I’ve dealt with in my life, that’s for sure. But if you fast forward to today, Brad is a very different person. He learned to take responsibility for his actions and his life, and stops succumbing to a victim mindset, and now he is a sober.
I don’t know if he would call himself a a bodybuilder anymore. He doesn’t compete at least as far as I know currently. But he certainly looks the part and he has a lot of body building knowledge, which he shares a lot of similar stuff that I talk about and the rest of us in the evidence-based fitness space talk about.
And I wanted to have Brad on the show to share his story because I think it’s inspiring and motivating. And if you like this interview, you should definitely check out Brad’s podcast, the Key Nutrition Podcast. He’s had me on the show at least once, if not twice. And I think we have another interview lined up.
I’d have to check my calendar. And on his podcast, he talks about his passion for fitness and how he has used it to beat addiction and remain sober for over eight years now. And as he talks about in this interview, sober means not even a single drop of alcohol because he realized. That if he is going to live a better life, drugs of any kind cannot be in it.
To any degree because he had just learned that even a little bit with him would lead to a lot. So if you want to hear Brad’s story about how he learned to overcome addiction and turn his life around and how fitness helped, I think you’re gonna like this interview. Also, if you like what I am doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world.
And we’re on top because every ingredient and dose in every product is backed by peer-reviewed scientific research. Every formulation is 100% transparent. There are no proprietary blends, for example, and everything is naturally sweetened and. Flavored. So that means no artificial sweeteners, no artificial food dies, which may not be as dangerous as some people would have you believe.
But there is good evidence to suggest that having many servings of artificial sweeteners, in particular every day for long periods of time may not be the best for your health. So while you don’t need pills, powders, and potions to get into great shape, and frankly, most of them are virtually useless, there are natural ingredients that can help you lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy faster.
And you will find the best of them in legions products to check out everything we have to offer, including protein powders and protein bars, pre-workout, post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more. Head over to www.buy leg. Dot com, B U Y legion.com. And just to show how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code M F L at checkout and you will save 20% on your entire first order.
So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you also want all natural evidence-based supplements that work, please do consider supporting Legion so I can keep doing what I love, like producing more podcasts like. Hey, Brad. What’s going on, man? Hey, I’m, I’m happy to be able to reciprocate here and have you on my show, people listening.
Brad had me on his podcast. I don’t even know when that was. I’m, uh, January. I’m in a time warp. Yeah, a couple of months ago and I was excited to return the favor because Brad has a story. I think is gonna resonate with a lot of you and it’s gonna be about health and fitness, about getting healthy and getting fit, but having to go through some shit to get there.
Brad: Right. Exactly. Thanks for having me on the show too, man. I gotta be honest, you know, I’ve done, I don’t really ever keep track over the last few years of how many podcast interviews I’ve done, but it was a lot and I was actually a little nervous this morning only because A, I’m gonna listen to your podcast.
It’s one of my go-to. And b, just a level of respect I have for you considering, uh, you know, when I got sober, your book was, uh, bigger Lane, stronger. It just came out 2012. Yeah, that’s right. Right.
Mike: No, no, you’re right. It was January, 2012. Yep. I
Brad: got sober November of 2012 and I knew I wanted to get back into fitness and we can get into that, but your book was the first one.
Bam. I just grabbed it and read it, and so it’s kind of surreal. It’s a cool moment to be here. I told Adam from Mine Pump, when I get on that show and Mike Matthews I’ll know I’ve made it, so I’m, I’m halfway to making it. I’m heavy air quotes. You can’t see me,
Mike: but I love it. I love it. You’ll, and you’ll get there.
You’ll get there with mine Pump. I know that the thing with them, I’m sure you’ve been in touch them all. They’d get so many requests, which I understand and they even have trouble, I think sometimes deciding on one guest over another, but you’re putting on a lot of good information and you are growing a following and really becoming a player in your own right.
So I have no doubt that there’s a point where. Again, there, it’s kind of like a, a group team effort over there where it’s just gonna, there’s gonna be a, a consensus like we need to get ’em on.
Brad: Exactly, man. You build friendships and you provide value and hand on opportunities happen. So, agreed, stoked to be here though.
Mike: appreciate it. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s go back to pre 2012. What was
Brad: going. I mean, my story, I guess kind of, I’ll do a little bit of a Cliff Notes, uh, version here, and then you can dive deeper on any questions you have. But I make a joke all the time, but I’m actually half serious that I, I feel like I came out of the womb just restless, irritable, and discontent.
Like, I just, like, if I could talk, I think I would’ve asked my mother for a Xanax, like, like, Hey, I just kind of feel uncomfortable being here. Just uncomfortable as a kid, just quite didn’t know, um, didn’t feel like I, like I just didn’t fit in. Like that’s how I felt all the time and it really felt uncomfortable being in my own skin.
But as a 8, 9, 10 year old kid, you don’t know how to go to your mother and say, Hey, think I’m having massive amounts of anxiety. Can we talk? So I just kind of clammed up and I felt that way. And I was also a chubby, overweight kid. And that’s important because, you know, I, I look back and if I could go back and grab that kid and just give ’em a big hug and be like, oh bud, you just needed to hit a growth spurt.
You know, I hung around Mike with the kids who, uh, who I thought were ripped. I mean, we were 12 years old, you know, turns out they just had a rib cage cuz they were, you know, just those bean pole kids. I was like the chubby one. And that felt really uncomfortable. First you get ribs, then you get abs. Yeah.
Yeah. I look back, I’m like, no, no. They were just rail skinny. They weren’t ripped.
Mike: Like, I remember that too, when I didn’t have much of a, an awareness of body composition at that age. I was mostly just focused on sports. That’s around when I got into playing hockey, roller hockey, ice hockey, and that’s all I wanted to do.
But I do remember seeing pictures here and there of people on the internet who I would say now, or, you know, yeah, they’re in shape. Sure. They’re, they’re fit. They look athletic. But I remember at a young age thinking that they were huge. They were jacked, ripped.
Brad: Funny. Isn’t it so funny? Yeah. It’s just such perception.
You know, I was picked on a little by them, but nothing, you know, not like shoved in lockers, bullied, but, you know, I was picked on by my friends. Right. Kind of made fun of the, the butt end of the joke there. You know, I was about 13 years old the first time I tried some alcohol. And I remember thinking, oh, I shouldn’t do this.
This is for adults. And, and then I tried and it was a tequila of all things. And I remember drinking it. And I remember thinking, that is the worst thing ever. Why would adults do that? And about 20 minutes later I was like, this is the best thing ever. I see why adults do this. This is a lot of fun. And for the first time I just kind of felt whole, like I felt really good.
I mean, we’re 13, so we. To navigate that and get it whenever we could. A couple years later, I find myself getting really intrigued with health and fitness because I’m still a little bit chubby. I’m about 1415 at this time, and I remember I picked up a muscle and fitness magazine when my mom was in a bookstore, kind of ages me.
That’s back when people went to bookstores. But, uh, she was getting a book and I was in the magazine section, found this muscle and fitness. I remember I looked on the cover and I saw this jack dude, and I thought, I wanna look like him. And it made no sense to me because I’d never lift in weight, any of that.
So I pick up the magazine and I was just enthralled with what I was reading. The information was, I was just, Hooked. I was like, this is amazing. It’s the first time in my life I think I had just felt this passion for anything other than macaroni and cheese. I liked macaroni and cheese a lot, but you know, I remember, uh, I found a meal plan in there that was probably for like a bikini girl competitor, and I ripped that page out and I tell my mom, she actually reminded me of this not too long ago.
I forgot this happened, and I said, Hey, can we go to the grocery store? And she was like, oh, yeah, honey, you need to get some food. I said, yeah. So we get there and I’m like, all right, I got this. I’ll pull out this magazine that I ripped out. She got really mad at me. She said, you can’t rip mag. You have, we have to go back and pay for that.
I’m like, oh, they’ll be fine. So I’m like, okay, I need tuna fish. I need brown rice. I need egg whites. I need grapefruit. It was just like the worst meal plan. But I started doing it and I applied everything and my body started to change. During this time, I also hit a gross spurt, so I got a little too skinny the minute I turned 16.
Boom, I, I got a driver’s license and I went. My mom wouldn’t gimme a gym membership prior to that, mostly cuz she didn’t wanna drive me. So I got a gym membership and, and I was hooked. I mean, that was it. And I started to learn about nutrition, about, you know, that I could eat a little more food than I was.
I started talking to all the big guys at the gym. I was asking ’em why they would do that and why they would do this. I was sure I was really annoying, but everyone was incredibly friendly and so I got really into fitness and during that time I found out how that alcohol was not the most advantageous for building lean muscle tissue.
And so I abruptly just stopped. I said, no more partying. Can’t do it. I was so enthralled with this building muscle thing that I stopped completely and. My body transformed over the course of a year, and I thought that that was gonna be my ticket to then feel very comfortable in my own skin because what I saw in the mirror, I would like, and that’s not what happened.
I still felt this kind of disconnect and this restless and irritable nature I couldn’t quite describe. And again, it was still perpetuated by a lot of anxiety to just kind of be me. And you know, by this point, I’m, I got the, the hottest girl in school and, and popular and, you know, fitness became my life.
But somewhere along that way, towards the end of high school. Some opiate painkillers were presented to me at a party. And I remember thinking, this is how naive I was at the time. I said, oh no, I’m not in pain. And my, the guy I was with said, no, no, no. They’ll make you feel like you’re drunk, but you can still go lift heavy tomorrow.
You won’t have a hangover. And I was like, perfect, let me try ’em. And the minute I tried those, I remember like it was yesterday, I remember the house I was in. I remember it was this two story rambler, I remember there was a, you know, a kegar, like there was, I don’t even know if kids do that anymore. I remember everything.
There was a bunch of red cups every, I remember just everything so vividly. I remember in that moment I looked directly at ’em and I said, dude, this is the feeling I want the rest of my life. That’s where kind of the drug addiction really began was, um, in my senior year of high school.
Mike: Wow. And where did it go from there quickly
If I ever wanted debate, whether I’m an addict, I have lots of evidence to prove so, and, and luckily over the last eight and a half years, I haven’t questioned that, but it went fast. I mean, to the point where in the matter of a couple months, I was taking trips down from Salt Lake City, Utah to Tijuana, Mexico.
Now, to give the listeners some context, I mean that it’s not a three hour drive, it’s a 14 hour drive. And because I had heard you could go to the pharmacy as there and I would take off my door panels and I would stuff ’em full of pharmaceutical drugs. And I would screw the door panels back on, drive through the border, and, uh, it was idiot sivan.
Really. I had no idea the amount of federal felonies I was actually committing by, you know, drug trafficking through like country lines and state lines. But, you know, I was an 18 year old kid and it worked. I got away with it. And so I continued to do it. I, I took, ended up taking four trips down there. I joke, but I, there was some seriouses to it.
This is where my entrepreneurial journey began, was I began, you know, selling drugs to all these high school kids. And I mean, you know, everything from, from steroids to painkillers to muscle relaxers. And, and I kind of, I thought I was the man. Like, I definitely thought I, I had arrived in life and that I was, uh, that I was set.
And so during this time too, I also realized how much I hated. And so I thought, okay, I don’t wanna be just a drug dealer the rest of my life. So I actually got certified as a personal trainer during my senior year of high school and got a job at B Total Fitness right out of high school. I was the youngest trainer that’d ever hired, cuz I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Now, the inherent problem was towards the end of that senior year of high school. A kid I knew had gotten busted down there at the board. It was all over the news. You know, he got stuck in a Mexican prison, and I remember I was like terrified. I said, well, I can’t go there anymore. And so I just said, okay, I’m gonna use what I have left, and then it’s time to kind of grow up and move on.
That’s how easy I thought it would be. Not understanding. I had heard about people talk about withdrawals or being physically addicted, but I hadn’t actually ran out for the better part of six months. I had had a constant supply.
Mike: And you were 18, you think you’re invincible and that’s a problem for weak people or whatever.
Brad: percent. Yes. Yes. No, I’m a tough dude. You know, I benched 3 75 and I was like, little did I know that had nothing to do with your physical proudness to, to overcome, uh, you know, something like that. So the drugs, uh, they ran out and I remember I got kind of sick the first day and I was like, oh, maybe this is what withdrawals look like.
You know, keep in mind I was selling opiates to, but I was selling ’em to high school kids that would do ’em on weekends. I wasn’t selling them to drug addict junkies that were showing up at my house at 2:00 AM you know, pounding on my window cuz they need their fix. So I never saw the ugly side of it.
And by day two, I was the sickest I had ever been. In day three, I was crawling outta my skin. I mean, vomiting, shaking, shivering. I don’t wish withdrawals on. I don’t have a worst enemy, but if I did, I would not wish them upon them. It was gnarly and at that time, you know, wrong place, wrong time with the wrong people, and.
It was, uh, presented to me to hear some heroin. And I remember distinctly thinking in that moment that was a line in the sand that like I wasn’t gonna cross. Like, that’s a drug addict.
Mike: That’s drugged. Yeah. Yeah. You’re like, okay, that’s now junky territory. Quite
Brad: frankly, I’ve never really met one successful heroin addict.
You know, that’s like, well, my life is great. I got a Fortune 500 company. My family loves me. I have a slight
Mike: problem with heroin, but otherwise I’m
Brad: fine. It was just that glimpse of a moment where I remember asking the guy, Hey, well make me feel better. And this guy was older and I thought he was really cool, and he said, yeah, instantly.
I said, here, let me do it. And so I shot up heroin as a 18, almost 19 year old kid for the first time, and. I remember when I did it, the guy looked at me and said, kid, your life is never gonna be the same. And I knew he was not saying that in a, it’s like out of a movie. Yes. Like I knew he wasn’t saying that and like, Hey, your life’s never gonna be the same.
Welcome to the good life. It was like, dude, you’re fucked, for lack of a better word. And so it grabbed me. I mean, I started doing that and by the time, let’s see, it was probably about six or nine months later was all that I was on the phone calling my parents and they knew I partied and did drugs, but they didn’t, they had no idea the extent and told my mom that I was, uh, needed some help and, uh, that I was addicted to heroin.
I’ll never forget, it was a solid 30. It felt like 30 minutes. It was probably 30 seconds. Just pause. She had dropped the phone. She was in shock, and so they put me in a, in a rehab center and went into rehab and thought, okay, well this is it. They’re gonna cure me and we’ll be good to go. So that’s not what happened.
When I got there. I very distinctly wanted to pick and choose, just like my clients over the years, kind of what I want to do and what I didn’t want to do. I was like, well, I don’t think I’m an alcoholic because I’m not even legal age to drink, so I’ll tell you what, I’ll stop doing the heroin and cocaine, but the rest of the stuff I’m gonna continue to do.
And they said, okay, good luck with that. Let me know how that works. I said, awesome. I’ll, I’ll report back to you. I’m excited to look you. Great plan. Yeah. Yeah. You know, I got out of the treatment center. You know, went and drank and nothing bad happened. And then the second time I drank, nothing bad happened, but the third time I drank, I blacked out.
I never had, never blacked out before, didn’t remember a thing that was, uh, and within a week I was back to the heroin. And so this game went on from better part of what, 2003 until 2012. And in that time it got worse. Never better. I would go through spurts of, of getting my life back together. At one point I was managing a Golds Gym, making good money, had gotten a house, gotten these things and, you know, was sober for six, eight months at a time.
And things would get good and I’d rest on my laurels and I’d decide I could do a little bit of this drug or a little bit of that drug. And every time it would lead me back to, to shooting heroin. And so I would build things up and. However long it took me to build them up, I would lose it in about a fourth.
The amount of time I would lose everything. Lost the house, lost everything, lost the job, and then I’d go back to rehab and I would do this over and over. It was just insanity. Just the same pattern. Back and forth, back and forth, and got to the point where I’d been to six or seven different treatment centers and I also had started getting arrested.
Now let me tell you about the system. And it’s funny now because I have so much love for, um, what these cops have to do, but I hated them at the time. I mean, if you’re not ready to stop using drugs and you keep getting put in the system, you’re gonna keep going back to jail. It’s just how it works. And so I had 17 bookings in a local county jail and would do a month here, you know, two weeks here, and then three months here, and then six months.
And every time I’d get out, I’d get out of this renewed hope to do something different, and it was just the same pattern, and it was just this inability for me to fully concede to my innermost self that like you, Brad, cannot safely use mind altering substances in any format. You’ve tried. It doesn’t
That makes me think of, I’ve uh, mentioned this, this little anecdote here and there on the podcast, so forgive me, gentle listener if you’ve heard this before, but in Ron Chernow’s biography of John Rockefeller’s, senior, it’s called Titan. In that book, he quotes Rockefeller paraphrasing, but Rockefeller didn’t drink at all.
He was, I believe the word is a tea toler. And he had said that if he never takes the first drink, he can never become an alcoholic. Paraphrasing, but, and it was half in jest, but half serious. I have never been drunk. I’ve had a couple of drinks in my life. I. Tried any street drugs, never cared to. And as I’ve gotten older, even alcohol, well that’s, that’s not a habit worth taking up because yes, you can drink regularly and still have good health and fitness.
And I do understand that, that alcohol is not necessarily as objectively dangerous as some people would have you believe. But what if I end up. I have enough stuff going on in my life, I don’t need that as well. So if I’ve somehow found my way, I’ve kind of danced between the raindrops and never tried any of these substances, I don’t know if I would say I have an addictive personality or not.
But in some ways, when I have something I really want or really wanna do, I get very focused on it. So what if I tried, like, what you’re talking about, any of these kinds of substances and loved it? Eh, I’ll just stay away from them. I’m fine. I’ll figure out other ways to feel better, or I’ll find other outlets for stress and anger.
You know? So true,
Brad: man. It’s funny. I, uh, now I understand. I mean that I have clients that drink and still, uh, you know, here and there and get. Great results. As a 16 year old, when I read that information, how I interpret it was, if you drink, you will lose every single ounce of muscle on your body. You will never, ever have muscles again.
Like it’s funny just how you’ll just
Mike: actually replace them with fat. Your muscle will turn into fat. That’s, that’s what
Brad: alcohol does, that’s what happens. Right. It’s so true, man. And, and I respect you for that because I’ve seen, you know, I’ve had even, um, you know, an older brother who never had touched a substance and, uh, had a surgery, had some pain pills, and, uh, really liked him and kept getting him refilled.
And that was kind of eye-opening, wake up moment for him. But it could have really easily gone down a dark path. He didn’t know he liked him until he was on
Mike: him. Yep. One of the guys who works with me, we recently went skiing, uh, him and a couple of the other guys who work with me, and he’s a very good snowboarder and he got unlucky though.
This is spring skiing, so. The snow is kind of sticky and then you have ice that you don’t, uh, you can’t see until you know it’s too late. So he had a pretty bad fall and he had a compression fracture in his back and a fracture in his shoulder, and they gave him a prescription for, I don’t remember which, but one of these Soviet drugs.
And he was like, nah, now I’ll stick with the prescription strength Tylenol. And I’m just gonna suffer through this a little bit because I don’t want to. What it’s like to be on those drugs, because I’ve just heard too many stories and it would be naive for me to think that, like you were saying when you were 18, I’m a badass.
What do you mean I’m not gonna get addicted because I, I don’t have that kind of personality. He was like, nah, I’m gonna be conservative here. Not in a political sense, but more like, I’m not gonna take that risk. Good
Brad: for him. I admire that a lot because you never know, and I fully believe it’s rolling these dice.
It’s kind of, it’s this Russian roulette, like, am I going to be the one that loves them? And your body loves, I mean, it was like the men that I took. When I was 18, it was just like, and you know, there’s other people who take ’em and they hate the way they feel. It is a Russian rule out game to figure out if you are the one who loves them.
Mike: guessing more people, many more people love them Yes. Than hate them just based on the opioid epidemic, for example.
Brad: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s crazy. Talk about the Oakley epidemic too. You gotta remember when I really got into this too, and, and there was a couple years there where in the beginning I was doing heroin and Oxycontin because Oxycontin had, you know, Purdue Pharmaceuticals had came out and they, you know, had pushed this drug and this was, there was pill mills everywhere and, you know, it was crazy.
That was kind of like those glory years of when the opioid epidemic and, and pretty much wiped out the whole like Midwest. It was really sad and, and I’m glad that Purdue Pharmaceuticals is brought to some kind of accountability for their things, but that’s a whole different rabbit hole. We don’t have to go down.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. I think it was over a half a million people. Died, I think is the number over a, what, a 10 year period or something. They’ve had to
Brad: pay out billions of dollars and, and I’m glad to see, you know, their, were held accountable because their marketing was completely a scam to say that it wasn’t addictive.
And obviously we know better now. Oh,
Mike: did they? I, I don’t know the details. Of course, I know the name and the Sacra family, and I’ve heard that they, of course, profited from what happened, but helped create the problem by doing things like what you were saying, where just straight up lying about the strength of these drugs and the addictive qualities of them and making it easier for people to get them and getting them prescribed for all kinds of things.
Brad: yeah. I mean they basically, they told to tell everyone that it was not addictive and that it was, you know, a way to get back
Mike: their life. I’m sure they had some research to back that up too. Oh, look, this totally unbiased study that shows it’s not addictive. Enjoy it.
Brad: Yes. Yeah. So, you know, I don’t know all the details either.
I know in November, uh, they pled guilty in a criminal case and they also had, uh, basically had to pay up billions of dollars in civil cases. To kind of flash forward. It was just a lot of incomprehensible demoralization from, you know, about 2005 to 2012. I kept trying. It wasn’t like I was high that whole time.
I would genuinely try because, you know, I didn’t want to be a junkie. Inevitably, I would just fall back and it was this unwillingness to acknowledge that like I couldn’t safely do any of ’em, like I said, in any form. And so this went on and before I knew it, after so many times of going to jail and, and rehabs and stealing from family and loved ones just to get my fix, they cut me off and I’m so.
So grateful for that today. I was not grateful in the moment, but they cut me off because they loved me, not because they hated me and it was tearing apart my family. The attic is a classic example of the tornado running through everyone’s lives. I’m in the middle like, what’s the problem? Why is everyone so upset?
Like, we’re good.
Mike: The Tasmanian devil, who doesn’t realize that not everybody is like
Brad: him. Yes, exactly. I mean, I’m talking, you know, my parents who are coming up on 50 years married, almost got a divorce because my mother. Bless her heart and love her so much, but she was going to love me to death with enabling, you know,
Mike: I don’t know what that is.
I mean, we have to assume that there’s a deep biological drive for that because that is the kind of archetypal, just devouring mother type of, well, I can’t say that your scenario is that. It may have been, but I’ve certainly seen that where there are, uh, I’ve, I’ve known a handful of people who had serious problems of different types, not necessarily substance abuse in one case, more just.
Sexual de he taken to the extreme. In another case, just completely unproductive and delusional and a very strange scenario. But in each of these cases, there was the mom who essentially refused to even recognize the problem and then the dad trying to simultaneously make a, some sort of impact on the kid and.
The mom and the mom’s taking the kids’ side. So it almost becomes a weird two v one situation. Exactly.
Brad: I would about to hit rock bottom and they, but mostly my mother would gently put a, a pillow at the bottom of that, uh, fall. So I would hit the bottom and it hurt, but it was just cushioned enough that, uh, I didn’t really have to fully hit that rock bottom.
And, and again, she was just trying the best she could, but she would bail me out of a lot of situations and you know, it, they finally cut me off and, and I’m so grateful they did. And it was probably the hardest decision. I can only imagine on their end to say, okay. Like, We’re gonna let you go and we really, really hope you don’t die.
And they said, when you’re sober, please like, come back. We can’t do this anymore. We can’t. So I spent all of 2011 in jail, was the longest stretch I’d done. I got out in 2012, beginning of 2012, and, and was really excited to, to be sober and to get a new life back. But the problem was, is I sat in jail and I confused being sober, being dry from drugs, with being in recovery.
And the act of recovery is completely different. That is this whole kind of spiritual, mental and emotional evolution, uh, process that I wasn’t doing. I sat in jail and I did the same behaviors. Minus the drugs cuz there was no drugs available. But gambling, bartering, uh, you know, getting in fights, the whole kind of, you know, system in there.
And so I got out and of course, because I’m the same dude who went in, just hadn’t put drugs in me. So this really actually was a pivotal moment to prove to me when, you know, they have now classified addiction in the DSM four and the medic is a brain disease. And this made sense to me in this very moment because I got out and I had not had drugs in my system for the better part of 10 months.
I got out and that craving hit me. It was this phenomenon of craving my whole body started to react. I mean, I started sweating. My palms were sweating and stomach started to hurt that pit, my stomach. And I’m like, don’t do it, don’t do it. I did everything they had told me to do, Mike, I, I played the tape through, I did all this stuff and I still picked up the phone, called the dealer, went down, met him downtown, and grabbed some heroin.
And needless to say, I did not draw another sober breath from January of 2012 until November 20th, 2012. And that was a long stretch for me cuz I had had briefly outlined my pattern was I’d go on three or four month vendors and then something would intervene. My parents would put me in detox or put me in a rehab, you know, or they’d move me away out of state.
Cuz that had to have been the, the answer to move me away and or the cops even were a great intervention. They would always kind of, before it could get horrifically bad, but it just went, I terminated all my probation charges and, and it went for the better part of 11 months and I was homeless that whole year.
I never slept on the streets. I was very resourceful. You know, there was this pride that I wasn’t gonna be the guy with a tent on the side of the freeway, but I will stay in crack houses like it was. I will stay in the shittiest motel. What do you think? I am a savage. You know, that motel that nobody would stay in even if they were paid.
That’s where I live. I will not stay in a tent though, like it was just this. And, uh, I started running around on the streets and I mean, you know, they gave me a street name of Pretty Boy. That is not a cool, tough name. I remember asking the dudes, I was like, can I get a New Street name? Like, I do not like this one.
But it, that was the first year that I, obviously I’m homeless, so I’d completely given up fitness, but man, it was really important for me to still make sure I, uh, looked the part of doing my hair and wearing True Religion jeans, which were cool at the time. And, but you. Fitness had really kind of intervened and saved me through a lot of those times because I would still, for the first couple months when I was using it again, would still be trying to meal prep and go to the gym and then eventually it’d kind of fade out.
But, you know, when you’re homeless, you don’t really have, uh, you are not going to the gym. And so that whole year just went and it got worse and worse and worse. I just remember thinking, this is ever gonna end. And then, you know, I started seeing things that I never thought I would see and running around with people that I really never thought I’d run around with.
Um, and so I had no safe place to go to, so I was just going wherever I could. My parents wouldn’t, my family had cut me off. They wouldn’t talk to me and I hit a bottom that I didn’t know existed. Physically, spiritually, physically, emotionally, the whole works. I missed fitness. I missed what I used to do and, and helping other people’s lives through personal training.
Like I thought about this stuff. But at some point during that year, the reminiscing about what I used to be was too painful. And so I just fully succumbed that I was a drug addict. I was a junkie and just to embrace that and that this is the way I was gonna die and that there was a very good chance I wasn’t gonna make it to 30.
And um, that’s fine. Like just embrace being what you are, which is a junkie. And that’s what I did for that whole year. It got really cold in November. And, and then I’ll kind of segue, this is the end of the war stories we call ’em in recovery. End of that year, you know, November and Utah is, uh, cold and so it started to get cold again and I was trying to shift and find places to stay and do all this.
And I remember my mother called me on November 15th of that year and let me know that my grandfather had passed. And I remember, I was sad. It was hard for me to feel a lot in those moments, but I remember I was sad and I remember it was really important that I showed up and it was really important to my mother that I showed up.
And so she said, I’m gonna pick up you a funeral. It’s in four days. She said, please just do whatever you have to do to be right. She knew I was an active heroin. She, what that meant was, please don’t be drooling on yourself from being too high. And also please don’t be withdrawing sick cuz that’s almost worse.
And so I said, okay. And of course, that day came and I ran out of drugs. I mean, it’s just kind of what I did. I’d been up for a couple days also because I started doing amphetamines and all these other things and she picked me up and, um, I remember thinking, okay, I just got a grit through this. Go to the funeral, then I’ll come back and I’ll go get my fix.
But the withdrawals hit me so hard. I’m, I’m vomiting in my mom’s car and I’m shaking and shivering and I, I look awful. And she’s like, you can’t go like this, you. She said, what do we have to do? And so I, you know, told her, well, we gotta go get me some, some drugs if you want me to not be like this. And so made my mother go get me, uh, get me a fix and add insult to injury.
Said, Hey mom, I need 10 bucks too, or 20 bucks I think it was. So it happened, or car. And by this point we had to backtrack so far. And the funeral was, was a solid hour and 20 minutes away, up the highway. And she said, We don’t have time to stop and do this. She, so she knew I did drugs. She had never watched me do drugs.
And so my mother’s driving up the highway and I get in the backseat of her car and I proceed to, you know, shoot up heroin. I mean, I had the spoon, the lighter the needle, the, by this point I had, uh, collapsed a lot of veins in myself. I mean, it was just the ultimate ugliness. And the whole time I’m catching my mom and she’s looking in the rear view mirror and she’s just staring at me and tears are just flowing down her face.
She’s not sobbing, but they’re just flowing. And she’s not even wiping ’em off. And her gaze, she is staring at me just with this look of like, how in the hell did you get here? So she watches me. My, i, I make my mother proceed to watch me shoot up heroin. And I remember I looked in that rear view mirror and I was trying not to look.
And after I’d done it, of course I instantly felt better, but the pain was so, so, Great. In that moment, I looked up and I saw her, and I remember she didn’t say a word. She didn’t say a word, just tears, just heartbreak. And I remember in that moment I thought, you have two choices. It was very clear to me, you either kill yourself or you get sober.
The thought of going on another day like this was not an option. And quite frankly, my past history of trying to get sober, the second option didn’t seem too feasible. And I had never actually been truly suicidal. Like, you know, when I was way too high on drugs or not high at all, I would would say those things, but the feeling of actually you just need to end it, I’d never felt that way.
And it hit me so clear in that moment. And I remember I went to the funeral, I got home that night and something else, something greater me was looking out because, uh, I was thinking, okay, I probably just need to, uh, find a guy, get this done. And that night I went with, you know, a guy to get some drugs. And he had me drive the car, and we got pulled over real quick and he informed me that the car was stolen.
And to this day, I didn’t know it was stolen. And that was such a blessing of just like, I remember those lights went off. He said, Hey, man, this car stolen. That’s why I had you drive. And I wasn’t even mad at him. I was so relieved that I was like, I’m not gonna have to kill myself. I think I’m gonna try to get sober.
This cop came up and, uh, it was this moment of surrender. He took me to jail. And, you know, I told him, I said, ah, I need to go to jail. This car’s stolen. I don’t have a valid license. And he was like, whoa, whoa, okay. He was like, yeah, that’s true. You do need to go. Let’s, let’s go, man. And, uh, went. And that’s where my journey began.
I remember, I, I had the worst withdrawals of my whole entire life. I shook, I shivered, I laid on this cement floor and in my own vomit. And I remember it just kept repeating in my head, this is the last time you have to do this if you want to. This is the last time you have to do this if you want to. And, uh, it got me through.
And 30 short days later I was released. Charges were dropped. It was, um, He stole the car from a family member or something and got outta jail and made the decision to go left instead of Right. I normally would call my drug friends, but I called my mother. She said, you can’t come here. Yeah, I’m been sober long enough.
But she dropped me off at a, a recovery meeting, like an AA meeting, and that’s where my journey began. Some guy let me stand on his couch and started waiting tables again, or not again for the first time. Real quick. Ran into a guy that I used to, uh, work for at this fitness and nutrition, uh, you know, training and coaching center, and he offered me a job again that was about three months sober and I jumped right back into to coaching other people in fitness.
And that alone just, I mean, that moment, that opportunity, I just seized it and, you know, I did everything different this time than I had done. I’ll never forget, I was at a recovery meeting and the this old guy and this burley biker dude comes up to me and he’s like, you knew here kid? And I said, yeah, yeah, I am.
Man, I got 60 days sober. He’s like, awesome. Well good luck. There’s only one thing you gotta change though. And I’m like, oh, that’s amazing. I’m just Juan. He goes, yeah, it’s everything. Good luck. And he patted me on the shoulder and walked away. And I’ll never forget that. I’m like, he’s so right. It’s literally everything.
The people I talk to, the shows I watched what I do on a daily basis, and so I did everything different this time.
Mike: If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the. Yeah, take us through that. I’m very curious myself and a lot of what you’ve said so far, I mean, obviously it’s tragic and again, I can’t say I can personally relate to it from my own experiences, but if we’re looking at it in terms of cause and effect relationships of decisions you were making and and outcomes, and it sounds like for a while there you were not facing the outcomes.
You were telling yourself the outcomes were different than they were, and then you eventually got to a point where you were willing to face reality as it is. I think that is, that’s an interesting, it’s just, just something I’ve, I’ve thought about for that’s just a. An idea that has come to mind many times over many years, and something that I’ve done myself in different ways.
I haven’t experienced nearly as much hardship, uh, as you have. So I can’t say that I’m capable of coming back from something like that. But I have in different areas of life, forced myself to face really where things. Are at and where they were going. Take porn for example, which I haven’t looked at in a long time.
And uh, but when I was younger I did look at it. I wouldn’t say, and this is something I would like to talk about a little bit later, that I was quote unquote addicted and you can’t be quote unquote addicted to porn in the way that you can be addicted to heroin. Just look at withdrawal symptoms, for example.
Like do you start throwing up and do you start going through like an exorcism? If you don’t look at your porn, no sugar as well. But anyway, so with porn, I never looked at it excessively, but did regularly when I was younger and I felt bad about it. It was something that my wife, and, I mean, this goes back to when we were dating, just didn’t like, she felt that it was inappropriate and, and I understand why.
And it’s also something that I disagree with morally. I think that it’s morally. Destructive. And I think that society would be better off without it and or at least would be better off with people who don’t need to look at it or want to look at it and who are much more interested in just having sex in hopefully monogamous relationships.
I think that’s more, much more functional. So again, it’s a kind of a silly example compared to what you just shared, but there was a point where I kind of had a similar, albeit much lighter version of that where it was time to just face that this doesn’t work for me and I don’t want to be this type of person who essentially it was hypocritical I, I wasn’t publicly speaking out against porn and then privately looking at it.
So it wasn’t explicitly hypocritical, but I was professing to be somebody who had integrity and had values and who cared more than. Just my own personal interests who did have a sense of social responsibility and who did want to try to create good effects in the immediate. Sphere of influence and then try to grow that sphere of influence.
And so that, that those things just weren’t compatible with looking at porn, but that moment of just facing reality, like similar to where like I would, ah, I wouldn’t look at it for a bit and then I would find myself interested and go back to it and do it for a little bit and then go, go in and out of it.
And but that moment of just looking at my behavior over the period of it was years and facing almost like a, a tough love kind of, but with myself, right? The hard truth, the, the home truth, the, the thing that I wouldn’t want pointed out to me because it’s just uncomfortable and it’s the thing I had been hiding from so to speak, or trying to gloss over or massage to look differently, but just face reality.
Was very helpful in just walking away from it and not looking at it ever again, basically for years and years now, and then eventually completely losing the desire too, which is cool. I mean, every now and then, there’s a part of me that’s like, oh, that would be, it would be nice maybe to see something like that, but it’s easily dismissed.
I would even say it rises to the level of a, of an urge. It’s more just a kind of a, a whisper that I just shoo away. And I’ve seen that also with other people, not necessarily with porn. It can be with things that are, are, are more destructive than that, but that ability to really look at where you are, look at your current conditions and circumstances, and look at where you’ve been and how you got there, and look at where you are going and.
Be realistic with that. I mean, I’ve seen it with a lot of people in health and fitness who get to that point where they’re very overweight, they’re very unhealthy. Sometimes it’s a doctor stepping in saying, you need to make a change or you’re not gonna be around too much longer. Sometimes not. Sometimes they don’t need that level of like, uh, force or, or kind of impact, but sometimes they just come to that conclusion themselves where they just say, okay, enough.
I am 35 pounds overweight. My body composition looks like this. I have high blood pressure. My blood lipids are messed up, and I’m at a high risk of cardiovascular disease and I can’t play with my kids the way that they want me to play with them, and I don’t have the relationship I want with my wife or my husband because of my body, and I don’t like it and I don’t like how I look and I’m don’t feel sexual.
I mean, sometimes that’s more with women and. If I don’t change anything, the most likely outcome is if I’m not dead within 20 to 30 years, I’m not gonna be living well every single day is gonna be pain, physical pain, psychological pain, emotional pain, and it just, that seems to be a common moment. In a lot of stories I’ve heard where people make meaningful and lasting change in their life, and if a person’s still stuck in the cycle of delusion, basically, if they’re still stuck in running away from reality or trying to pretend that reality isn’t the way it is, or trying to see things as they wish they were or maybe as think they should be instead of as they are, then.
It just seems like no amount of external influence really matters until they come to that moment. So, you know, for whatever that’s worth. I just thought it might be interesting to share because it’s just a pattern.
Brad: I’ve noticed. You’re, you’re absolutely right. And you know, we go back to the guy who 30 pounds overweight, you know, the lipid markers are getting outta control.
You know, he’s not healthy. Maybe he’s eating 50 pounds overweight, or maybe even a hundred. It’s really the same as recovery in the sense that, okay, so what’s required is to, if we want to start shedding some body fat, is to get into some calorie deficit, ideally probably from food and also through moving more.
And that’s the base of it. And while I understand. You know, me and, uh, good friend of mine and, uh, some fellow, fellow coach have been accused of, but it’s not that simple. It’s not just calorie deficits, a calorie deficit. Now I understand that, but the base of it, if we’re trying to lose fat, let’s establish that’s what has to happen.
Mike: It, it actually is that simple. But being able to do that consistently may not be simple. Exactly. It just, it depends on the person and their circumstances and their environment and so forth.
Brad: Yes. So first step is, okay, well you have to not put the drugs in your body. You have to just stay sober. Like absence, okay.
Calorie deficit, but the like, okay. It was that simple that if I don’t put the first drink in me or the first drug, I won’t get higher. I won’t get drunk. That was pretty simple to me. And obviously exactly what you just said. Where it gets more complex is how do I actually continue. To do this, right? Just like the guy trying to lose weight might get this burst of motivation.
I can relate with the person who, you know, they’re like, I’ve had it. And they, they start and they start to eat wetter and they move more and they get a gym pass and they start to, and then they lose some weight and then they rest on their laurels and they go right back. I mean, that was me with drugs, right?
So I had to find a way to, how can I continue to do this? And really grateful that in, in aa and that’s how I got sober. And I don’t care how somebody gets sober, that’s just the only place that would take me was the last house on the block. It was free. And so they run you through these things out the 12 steps and it’s really just kind of, if I summed up the 12 steps is it’s find a God that’s not you.
Trust that God clean house, clean your own house, emotionally, mentally, all of that. And then help others. And they give you what’s called the sponsor, which is basically just a sober coach. Now this guy. Gave me accountability. He gave me application and he gave me some further education on kind of life and, and how all this worked for me.
And I see that same thing with people who, you know, really wanna make a change. Maybe it’s not always hiring a one-on-one coach, maybe it’s in a group program or, but at some point kind of seeking more to learn more about how to stay consistent in your fitness and health journey. It’s the same thing with me, with recovery and, and shit started to happen and it took a lot of work, but I owe also a lot of debt to, uh, I connected with the power greater myself.
I, who I choose to call God, I don’t really, you know, that’s not of any religious statement, but I realized there was a greater being at play than just me. And that I had to rely on that and trust that to some degree. And I continued to just put one foot in front of the other. And before I knew it, like six or nine months had came.
And the cravings completely subsided. The first three months were awful because my brain just didn’t know any different people always, the first question they ask me is, well, sober from like everything. I’m like, yes, everything. Well, I mean, you smoke weed, right? No. Well, you drink, right? No. Like so everything.
And the second thing that a lot of people say is, oh man, there must be a battle every day. And I’m thinking, do you think if it was a battle every day that I would still be doing this eight and a half years later? No, I, at some point, this phenomenon of craving was relieved, you know? And there’s occasional.
You know, I’d go to like a baseball game or we went to Fenway Park and, and, uh, I smelt the beer, and I’m like, that’d be kinda nice to drink. So of course, just these fleeting thoughts like you talked about with pornography, but nothing that actually resonates as like a craving, because I fully understand that.
Like, I can’t do those things and my life is way better when I don’t. And I’m really grateful for that. But they tell me like, write down what you want in a year. And I was like, well, you know, it was, I played so small, like what I had actually started to get in a year’s time. And not just materialistic, but just things like character and integrity.
And you talked about the porn thing. First off, I’ve seen the ugly side of porn because it was a spur of my life in Vegas where I did some bodyguarding. It was ugly. And it’s ev there’s some evil nature to it. And so I just wanted to touch on that. Yeah. The
Mike: industry, it’s ver Yeah, it’s, you feel Yeah. You, it’s just, it’s, and it will always be
Brad: like that.
Yeah. It’s just not a great moral upstanding, like, oh, I have these good feelings in my tummy when I’m around here.
Mike: Yes. Exactly. It’s never going to be a wholesome industry or a wholesome activity, no matter how many euphemisms, like, oh, no, no, no. They’re not porn stars. They’re sex workers. Like, okay, cool. We can play all the word games we want, but here’s the reality.
Here’s what actually happens behind the scenes. Here’s what actually happens to these women. Uh, let’s start looking at data hard numbers. It’s not pretty. Yeah, no, it’s
Brad: not. And uh, so I made the decision, you know, probably about a year sober, that that was not for me because when I would get done doing things like watching porn or I got it really into gambling my second year, like I wasn’t a saint.
This is for sure. I was cross addicting and whenever I could, I. Awful afterwards. And I realized that moment you had, I’m like, I don’t wanna feel this way anymore. I don’t wanna feel like I’m going against this moral compass because I started to get this character and, and self-respect and these things that I had never had.
And I truly started to find this moral compass that like, I don’t want to be involved with any of that. And so today, like I have a life beyond my wildest dreams and still the most important thing I’ll do on a daily basis is, is make sure I protect my sobriety. Because without that, you know, I have nothing.
And I realize I genuinely, for some reason, I’m still here today when 90% of the people I use drugs with are either in prison or they’re dead. And there’s just not a lot of long-term hope with heroin. And so I never want to forget that on a daily basis. Like how there, there was a miracle at play and it’s just crazy to me.
It’s surreal that I’m even here on this with you, but. Because I had gotten this job at that place that the fitness and uh, the training and and nutrition coaching center here, and I had to drive from this place. The only place I could rent was 45 minutes away and I had to drive in and I, I would have like a client at nine and a client at 12 and a client at three.
And I didn’t have the gas money to drive back home or the time. And so I would sit there and I read your book and I read it twice. Just, you know, not to be a psychopath, but, you know, I had nothing better to do in between those only
Mike: serial killers. Read
Brad: books twice. Come on. By the way, uh, I really like what you’re wearing today.
I saw this morning when I was peeping through the window, but, um, it’s no big deal. We’re friend
Mike: though, so, you know, it’s not, it’s not weird that I’m in your bushes watching.
Brad: Do you like the binoculars? Yeah, but man, like those are the moments where you know it. And first off, like, thank you because it really actually ingrained me with like what was right in this industry and how to do things right.
Because the place I was working at, Kind of the way they wanted me to design nutrition stuff was kind of not jiving with me. And so, you know, I started the company I own today in 2017 because of that. But you were a huge influence in that. So I, I gotta say thank you for that. And
Mike: I’m flattered that’s probably one of the more satisfying things that never gets old about what I’m doing is just hearing stuff like that.
I, I still enjoy getting into the inbox and interacting with people and it’s just genuinely nice to know that what I’m doing is making a difference. Because a lot of other elements of. Succeeding at anything that really, anything actually is, it’s generally not as satisfying as you think it’s going to be.
Like we’re talking about money. Mm-hmm. For example, going into it where you think, oh, it’d be so great to make X dollars per year have such and such of a net worth. And then you get there and maybe for a day or two you’re like, all right, yeah, that’s cool. I did that. And then you’re already looking to the next thing.
You realize that, um, whatever that number is, maybe doesn’t allow for all these other things that now you think that maybe you want. And so then you true. Okay, okay, if I five x that number, then I’ll really know I’ve made it. Right? And, and the same thing goes with achieving any sort of status or many goals, right?
A lot of it is the anticipation and the working toward it. And, and then you get there and you realize it’s not as great as you thought, or maybe you realize it. What you wanted, but really not what you needed. But this is one of those things, just having people just tell me, Hey, thank you for writing that book, or recording that podcast or writing that article.
Here’s how it helped me. It just never gets old. And there aren’t many things in life you can go back to that have that effect that are not drugs that are actually enriching. I mean, you have helping others, you have food as long as you don’t abuse it, right? But you can still, you can always, I think, enjoy the foods you enjoy.
You have sex, and I don’t know if there are many other things that, again, you can go back to over and over and enjoy them just as much as the first time without destroying your
Brad: life. I mean, in a way, you played a pivotal role in me making it through that first year’s sobriety. You know, when those three hour gaps, I would be, you know, I, I was reading your book that first little bit and, and highlighting and, and that is time where this idle time is the devil’s playground.
Especially when you’re a fragile state of trying to rebuild your whole entire life and figure out just who you are. So, you know, I completely agree with you and, and it’s all these things I, I thought in sobriety, like, if I get to this point with money, then I’m gonna be happy. And I got there and I realized the pursuit of getting the money.
I’m actually more unhappy. And so it’s been this constant tug of war, of getting financially comfortable, but also not putting so much stock into that. Because if I’m truly trying to live a spiritual life, being so focused on money pulls me out of that. You
Mike: can’t. I mean, those things are mutually exclusive actually, because inevitably, if you’re too focused on money, that just, you could abuse that as well.
Money making. And then you become greedy and you become mercenary, and then you lose your integrity and you’re willing to do more and more unethical things to make more and more money. And then now you’re the type of person who doesn’t have values, doesn’t have principles, who doesn’t have integrity, who’s willing to cut corners.
And if, hey, if you’re gonna do that in your work, you might as well do that in your relationships. And then so you start cheating you. It’s, it’s interesting having, I, I can’t say I’ve personally interacted with many people that I know were like that, but I’ve learned about them. I’ve read biographies of people like this, for example.
And it’s just interesting how often, and it kind of mirrors the story you’ve shared, where early on you thought you could compartmentalize this drug use and you could make it fit. And it’s not going to spill over into every other aspect of your life. It’s not gonna become all consuming. Well take being shady in business, for example, I have known some people actually, who I would say are very unethical and I would never wanna make a living the way that they do.
And they think they, well, one, they don’t face that they. A criminal, like that’s it. Period. That’s the word. You are a criminal. No, no, no. Of course they have their euphemisms, they have their fake story that they’ve put together carefully, that they protect very carefully. And so they don’t look at it that way.
And they maybe would acknowledge that they are a little bit aggressive maybe in their business practices or something, but they don’t behave that way in other areas of their life. And that’s not going to become a problem. It’s not going to spill over. And I can think of several examples right off the top of my head where it absolutely did, and it seems to just be an inevitability really.
It’s only a matter of time. Some people maybe are able to resist the rot more than others, but things are. Declining slowly but surely. Things either get better or they get worse. Nothing stays the same period like in the, the known universe. And I think that applies to us as well. So if you can’t explicitly say, I am getting better and here’s how I know I’m getting better, well then you should probably assume you’re
Brad: just getting worse.
A hundred percent. I would agree with that. And, and I think that there’s, you know, people ask me, so what do you like about Legion so much? Um, not to talk about your products here, but, and I try to explain to them that they don’t understand the way the supplement industry works is Mike could be a shady asshole if you wanted to and get away with it.
There’s a lot of companies that I do not stand behind because I know their products are shit because it’s not regulated the same way. And so I don’t, I think that people that the average Joe doesn’t understand, like the ethic that you put into your products is not the norm in the industry. You’re, there’s a lot of snake oil salesmen.
And at the end of the day, like that’s the people I wanna be linked up with is good, ethical, moral. Honest people like that is a lost art and especially in the supplement industry. So I have to commend you
Mike: for that. And especially I, I mean, I appreciate that and that is one of the big reasons why you and many other people who work with Legion, who have partnered with Legion, have chosen legion.
I mean, they like the products just objectively, they appreciate the formulations, but what they really appreciate is what you just said, is they know how the industry works and they know that I don’t have to be doing that. I could cut my costs down by, I probably cut them by 50%. And if I was willing to, I would say operate the way that.
Is the norm in the industry. The, the way that many of my competitors and, and I would say some of these businesses, I can’t even call myself a competitor too because they’re doing hundreds of millions a year in revenue and, and I’m not. And some of the very big companies are by my standards vary unethical, so I could make a lot more money.
And it’s not only. Making more money in the short term. It’s not just about more money into my bank account, it’s also about the value of the business. A business that has a lot more revenue and a lot more profits is worth a lot more money. So I could, if I wanted to be like that, I could go, oh, okay, so I could cut my costs dramatically.
I could just start doing a lot of these other companies are doing and just kind of lie, cheat, steal, act like a, a pirate and a bum. And not only will I receive a lot more immediate income, but I could grow this business probably twice as fast, top line, bottom line. And I could probably hit a nine figure exit within two or three years that, that actually could happen if I were willing to do that.
Now of course it may not work because enough people might see what I’m doing and call me out. Rightfully so. But my point with saying that is, or I could do maybe, uh, something not as egregious as that. Right? Something more in the middle of where I’m at and what I just laid out and. I think that, and this is really not me patting myself on the back or trying to flatter myself.
I’m not that kind of person. I don’t need people to admire me or tell me how good I am or even accept me. I just do what I do. And the people who like me find their way and stick, and the people who don’t leave, and that’s fine. But to this point of honesty and integrity, and this is again, it’s one of these ideas that has just stuck with me and it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine because there are many people, and I can think of some personal examples here actually, where they will profess to have certain values or certain principles and they are not acting against them.
So you’re like, okay, that’s cool. That’s, this seems like an upstanding person, but. Something’s at stake once their ox is about to be gored. Or once they have an opportunity to transgress against one of those principles and get something, that’s the real test. Take cheating. For example, if somebody says, I have never cheated on any of, not just my wife, but any of my girlfriends, and okay, well let’s just say it’s girlfriends, right?
And you’re like, so how many girlfriends have you had? Well, theoretically I wouldn’t cheat. You know what I mean? Or any version of that where it’s like, if you’ve never had the opportunity to cheat, it’s good that you haven’t cheated, but don’t hop on that high horse because if you did have the opportunity, that’s the real test.
And that’s something that I, I think that applies to business, that applies to every area of life. It’s one thing to, to live in a moral fashion, that’s great, but life finds ways of testing us or maybe we find ways of testing ourselves and. I don’t think, and this is just for me personally, what I respect the most is people who have the opportunity to do things that they know they shouldn’t do and don’t, and who instead do the right thing even when it costs something.
And in my experience, there’s pretty rare, there aren’t too many people out there who seem to generally operate that way. Maybe they do a little bit in certain areas, but certainly when it comes to money and sex, for example, it seems to be a lot of the people I’ve interacted with over the years, they can talk a good game, but then when they have the opportunity to do something else, they find some weird rationalization for why it’s different.
In this case, a
Brad: hundred percent. I couldn’t agree more. You know, it’s, Gary View said like it’s far more important, uh, how you make your money than how much money you make, and. You know, when I look at Mike, the guys with, you know, eight, 10 years of continuous sobriety that relapsed, there was one common thread and it’s, they start to become a piece of shit.
And by that I mean there’s infidelity issues, there’s scandals with money, there’s greed, there’s, they start going against these things and like, it’s not like someone with 10 years sobriety. Ends up relapsing and kind of screws up their life again or maybe dies. Didn’t just like one day wake up and be like, you know, I’m a really good person, but I’m gonna start drinking and doing drugs again.
It’s always, they go against this moral compass and they, so, you know, how I stay sober today is continue to try to be a good human. And I’ve learned a hard way through some years of sobriety of, of going against some things I believed in and luckily stayed sober. But being a good person, like that’s what we need to start looking at successes.
I think we talk about, you know, and happiness, like truly being happy and being somebody who’s trustworthy and loyal and, and a good human. Like even through a fitness journey, you know, I tell my clients in the past, I tell ’em, Hey, listen, like we need to start equating success with like, are you truly happy?
Do you have more self-confidence? Do you treat others with more respect? Cause you respect yourself more. Like it can’t always just be about this end number on the scale where there’s weight number on the scale. Yeah. Like there’s gotta be more. And that’s exactly alluding to what you just talked about.
Mike: Yeah, that’s a great point. And that’s something that I’ve spoken and written about here and there in the context of body composition and that we can only get so far that a natural weightlifter is only gonna be able to gain so much muscle and strength. And beyond that point, there is basically nothing left to gain.
And a lot of people appreciated that message. And that’s something, again, I’ve repeated many times over the last couple of years because I think there are too many people I’ve seen in the fitness space who are clearly using drugs and sometimes sneaky, like just enough drugs to continue being able to gain a couple of pounds of muscle per year while already being jacked.
I mean, like they’ve gained, you know, 55 pounds of muscle from the beginning of their journey and they’re still putting on a couple of pounds per year. Talking about, oh, you see how, you know, if you just keep working hard at this and you just keep doing the right things, you can always get bigger and stronger, just a little bit better, and da da da, da.
It’s just not true. Like they might tell themselves that, well, this is a noble lie, because I’m encouraging people to keep going. But you’re also discouraging people who have hit basically their genetic limit for muscle and strength, and there are a lot of those people out there who are then seeing that post and thinking, why am I not gaining another three or four pounds of muscle per year?
Why am I stuck at, let’s say, the natural? I wouldn’t say it’s a, it’s not a ceiling, but it is a high benchmark to work toward of strength of 3, 4, 5, 3 plates on the bench, one rm, four on the squat, and five on the dead. Certainly people can beat those numbers, but I think that’s like a fair average. This is, that’s for guys obviously, for guys getting into weightlifting and I, what I would say is if you can get to 3, 4, 5, you’ve done well, if you can gain about 40 pounds of muscle total from your starting point, you’ve done well.
You know, if you’re somebody who has been big and strong your entire life, if you were that jacked 13 year old and you started lifting weights when you were 16, yeah, you’re probably gonna be able to do better than that. But of course now we’re talking about outliers. Oh, just
Brad: I can relate with that, like at a spiritual level.
I mean, you know, I’ve been pretty open the fact that, I mean, obviously I used lots of anabolic steroids in my drug use days, which is one reason how I kind of masked, uh, the fact that I was also a heroin addict. But even in sobriety, when I did a, um, a couple of my bodybuilding shows early on, and it felt very unauthentic to pretend like I’m standing here talking about they’re my mind altering, but they’re mood altering.
And I am on testosterone replacement therapy and have been for the better part of my sobriety, for better or worse. But I’m telling you now, I literally have looked the same for three or four years. I don’t get the compliments anymore that I used to because I am doing the shit every day to, I mean, I went through a six month surplus last year and now in a little cut, and I’m like, I think I have like a pound more muscle.
Mike: that might just be you, uh, being generous to yourself. Yeah, and that’s
Brad: fine. That’s fine, dude. It’s like at this point it is for the most minimal gains year over year, you have to really love this shit. Like you have to really love this lifestyle when you’ve gotten to a point where, unless I want to take those androgens, which I am not willing to anymore, I’m doing this shit for like minimal progress.
Mike: Let me just interject for listeners. I have an, an even more depressing. Anecdote. So my training currently is, it’s four month macro cycles and, uh, I’m following my Beyond bigger leader, stronger program for listening. If you wanna see exactly what I’m doing, just read that book, that’s what I’m doing. So I went through this, uh, I’m just wrapping up, uh, a four month macro cycle and I was doing well on the beginning of it.
And that’s five days a week, about an hour per workout. It’s 15 to 16 hard sets per major Musk group per week. It’s a lot of heavy lifting. You know, I, I work, I work pretty hard, so good compliance over the entire four months. And then I had a little bit of travel, so I had a ski trip where it wasn’t gonna be possible to lift and ski.
No way. It would’ve been one or the other because I’m not a skier per se. And so I just would go out there and after I was able to do about maybe four to five hours of continuous runs with little breaks here and there before my. We’re done. Like, I actually had to stop cause I was like, this is dangerous.
Now, I can’t even keep my skis parallel when I’m turning because my legs are like, they have nothing left. Right. And so it took the, the week to ski and then I had rona, which was fun, which was nothing. It was three days of congestion. But that was also then I, I did, it was a good boy and I did my 10 day quarantine after the final day of symptoms.
So I basically missed two weeks. I didn’t go into. Gym. I didn’t ha where I was at, I was in Florida. I didn’t have a home gym to work out at. So anyway, work hard for basically four months. I was right at the end of that macro cycle before I had traveled and then I think there was some other traveling. So right at the end of it, things get messed up and then I try to get back like, okay, I’ll, I’ll rewind a few weeks in this macro cycle and see if I can quickly regain any of the strength.
I mean, I’m not gonna have lost anything really in the way of muscle, but my strength is a little bit down. And I did get some of it back. And so now I’m doing what I do at the end of Macrocycles, which is some as many reps as possum Amrap sets with 95% of the one rep max. That was calculated at the beginning of the macro cycle and the previous macro cycle.
I worked for four months and I don’t remember off the top of my head, but my one RMS went up a little bit, which was great. Now I’m regaining strength, you could say, because I have been a bit stronger in the past. I’d have to look at my spreadsheet, but I would say I probably, between my squat. Bench overhead press, deadlift.
I probably added 30 pounds or so to my onem totals, which is great, which is estimated totals. And that is something that obviously is not sustainable indefinitely. But because I am kind of working back up to previous highs, uh, there’s a little bit of a quote unquote muscle memory or strength memory that I’m benefiting from.
And so the next four months of work goes by and I’m doing another round of AM wraps, and it looks like it’s a wash. My bench am wrap, complete wash. My one RM is actually down a little bit. It’s probably not in reality. But let’s just say it’s the same as in the beginning of the four month period, and I did my deadlift amrap, which wasn’t bad.
I’ll have to run the numbers, maybe it’s up a little bit. And I’ll do my squat on Thursday and I’m gonna do an overhead press tomorrow. And my point with saying that though, is that’s the life of a natural weightlifter, right? Work your ass off for essentially four months, make good progress, but then couple of weeks outta the gym, I mean, really probably three weeks or so and a, I guess a very mild illness that probably didn’t have much of an impact at all, but just not being in the gym that.
Undid, I would say probably two months of the first couple of months of that macro cycle I was moving along. Things are inching up and I, I’m not bummed about it at all. I, I actually think it’s funny and it just shows though to this point of once you’re at your genetic limit for muscle and strength, which I certainly am, I have a little bit left.
It’s not that I’m completely tapped out, but I’m really reaching for like, probably the final rungs of this ladder. And they’re hard to reach. They’re, I’m like trying to jump up to get to them, right? And this, the fact of being natural is you have to work so much harder. You have to work a lot more for a lot less.
And so then you have to find a way to reframe your training. You can’t make it all about body composition anymore or performance anymore because there’s not much that’s gonna change. So you have to find other motivations for doing it. And for me, and, and I know it’s gonna be the same for you, just based on everything you’ve told me, one of those motivations is the, Way that my routine, it’s not just about doing the workouts, it’s the whole regimen of how I eat and how I train and how I pay attention to my sleep hygiene and supplement and so forth.
It spills over into every other aspect of my life simply. Exerting discipline and being the type of person who cares about their health and cares about their fitness and is willing to put effort into that, and who understands that, it’s a very low time preference activity at this point. Meaning that I’m putting in a lot of work and you are, we’re putting in work now and we know that it’s really just an investment in the future that one day we’re gonna be real happy we did it.
But if. Thinking more short term, we could do a lot of other things at that time, and the decline would be slow enough to where we could rationalize it away. And, you know, that’s kind of a, something that you’ve touched on and, and I’ve commented on in terms of like not facing reality and where things are going.
So anyway, so, uh, yeah, sorry I hijacked the conversation, but this has been a fun conversation for me in a, in a very stimulating conversation. So, yeah, if, if there’s anything else you wanted to add, I, I don’t
Brad: wanna, no, man, I just appreciate me on the show. Just, uh, grateful to come share my story that there is hope, you know, if you’re struggling or, you know, people struggling with addiction, there is hope and, and, you know, fitness played a huge role in, in that.
And, you know, I’m just, yeah. I’m just grateful and I believe the gratitude is kind of the antidote to life. And if there’s one theme through last eight and a half years is when I. In gratitude. I also am not being a victim. You know, victims never win.
Mike: It’s so true. It’s so true, man. I mean, that mindset is so important.
It really is that it, no matter what your circumstances are, no matter how many injustices maybe you’ve suffered, how many things have happened to you that you didn’t deserve? There’s still that point of, unfortunately, the victim mindset only loses. It never wins. It just doesn’t. And so I’m not trying to quote unquote victim blame here, and I do acknowledge that I have not experienced much hardship at all in my life by my standards, what I would consider hardship.
It’s not that I’ve had it completely easy, but. I have not experienced what many people have had to experience, and I don’t want to pretend that I have, but I’m just speaking to that mindset and every one of us can find a way to become a victim if I wanted to. I could think of things that I know
Brad: people who are victims, where I’m like, you have literally nothing to complain about.
Mike: Like what? Exactly, exactly. You have my cushy little life. Oh, for example, I’m moving to Florida and this bank, they told me that if I buy this land, they’ll give me so much money to build the house. Okay, cool. Great. Let’s do it. I buy the land Now they’re like, eh, actually, we may not be able to give you that much.
We may have to give you half of that amount of money to build a house. Yeah, that’s a problem. What do you mean? Why are you telling me this now after I buy the land? And so, yes. Stupid first world quote, unquote privileged problem. Totally agree. And I’m not being a victim about it at all, but. As silly as it is, I know people who have had such problems and they are just as, they act, just as victimized as maybe you were acting when you were at your worst homeless and so forth.
And so that mentality is insidious regardless of the actual circumstances. I mean, I feel like we could go on and on if, if we. Arbitrarily decide to stop. And it’s been a great discussion. And why don’t you share where people can find you, find your work, and any products or services you want people to know about anything new and exciting?
Brad: man, I appreciate that. It’s at the sober bodybuilder on Instagram, all one word. It’s where I’m definitely the, uh, most active and, you know, website is key nutrition.com. That’s for any of my, uh, you know, a coaching staff and team here. And my podcast is the Key Nutrition podcast. And you can, uh, find Mike on there twice.
Once in the very, very early days. And then, yeah, I remember that long time ago. I think you were like episode eight. I didn’t even know what I was doing. And then, you know, more recently, which got a huge response by the way. And, and after Mike gets to move in, we’re gonna have him on for a second time. I’ve got some exciting questions to ask him.
He doesn’t even know what’s coming, so let’s leave it that way. Just hit me. Got a course I do, called the Next Level Experience, which is an. Eight week interactive, intimate, and, uh, kinda intense program that takes people through a lot of the principles of learning recovery. So it’s, uh, we we’re in the launch for that.
Now, by the time this airs, it’s probably gonna be closed, but we do those every quarter. Um, you can find out more on that at my next level experience.com. So
Mike: Awesome. Awesome. Love it. Well, love the story and I love that we were able to connect and do this, and I, I really appreciate your support of Legion and everything that you’re doing.
Brad: you’re the man, dude, blessed and grateful to consider you, uh, your friend. So thanks for being a force for good in the
Mike: industry. Absolutely. Well, I appreciate that. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in.
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That is the best way to get ahold of me, mike muscle life.com. And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.