My Brutally Honest Story
My name is Matthew Daley. I am the author of From the Ground Up and owner of Brawn for Brains. I like lifting heavy things, pushing my limits, reading, going to sleep at 10:00pm, wearing V-necks, engineering, big data analysis (a weird hobby), and finding little ways in which I can make myself happier with my life.
I wasn’t always like this though.
I remember as far back as middle school I had some insecurities about my own strength and my physique. I remember being scared senseless of any kid that may want to hit me, being embarrassed of my lackluster athletic capabilities, and being afraid to take my shirt off at any pool party that girls were at.
Some time in high school I stopped trying to do anything athletic; I quit soccer, stopped running, and quit doing the small amount of weight lifting I was doing. I did, however, discover playing music and found my first source of discipline.
I was a drummer and I loved it. I became obsessed with technique and the small nuances that went into being the rhythmic backbone of a band. I developed a near-obsessive work ethic that would be relevant later in my life, but would take a back seat for the next couple of years.
Of course with playing drums came performing in bands, particularly Metal bands. I loved every minute of it and wouldn’t trade the experiences of band practices and live performances for anything in the world. However, I would trade some of the bad habits and negative mindsets I picked up along the way. You see, we viewed ourselves as artists, but tough artists because we played metal music. So we didn’t write about our feelings, we callously referenced them from behind a wall of cigarette smoke and sarcasm.
When I went off to college much of the mindset I developed with playing in bands stayed. I thought it was better to be cynical and depressive than hopeful and apply yourself. I thought it was intellectual to chain smoke outside of the dorms and debate the underlying message to some new movie, and that the “jocks” going to the gym were muscle-bound simpletons that couldn’t comprehend the depth of our conversations. Writing this now I feel like I was quite a pompous little jerk.
By the time I had graduated I had cultivated my own laundry list of unhealthy and detrimental habits. I was frequently in a state of depression which was being made worse by the difficulty I found in trying to find a job. Before long I ended up having to move back in with my parents.
So now, I’m spending long days by myself at my parents house just trying to find any sort of work. It turns out that a Bachelors’ in Biology isn’t the most desired credential in the workplace, go figure. I convince myself that I can’t spend all 16 waking hours of the day mindlessly applying for jobs so I decide that I need to take up some sort of activity. Lo and behold, I found my old weight set in the back room. I hadn’t done any actual workouts in a few years and was unsure of what to do but I figured anything was better than nothing.
After a while I start researching online how workouts are best structured and how there are different kinds of training protocols for different goals. I start to learn the value in a more focused approach and begin orienting my training in a more targeted way. I also did the same for my job application efforts and ended up with my first teaching job!
As it turns out, making myself carve out some time to workout everyday between bouts of job applications was good preparation for managing my time better. When my job started I was easily able to motivate myself to wake up, workout, shower, and be at work 30 minutes before anyone else. I did this regularly and it got me noticed by my bosses very quickly, and they appointed me a “site leader” for our little teaching outpost.
I spent the next couple of years working in education and met some of my best friends during that time. I continued to progress up the ladder moving from supplementary instructor (‘tutor’) to a full fledged high school math teacher. I even got to teach advanced geometry, algebra, statistics, and trigonometry! Also during this time I would train with many of my friends and I realized they were actually following the advice I was giving them. My progress in the classroom was being directly driven by a lot of the principles I learned in the gym, such as:
- Adaptation is slow, and must be built over time.
- More effort does not always equal a better result.
- More effective does always equal a better result.
- Research is informative, however it represents the average. People are not averages and regularly deviate from the norm, to get good results you must be able to account for when people are the ‘outliers’ described in research.
- Everyone has bad days. You don’t have to dominate it on your bad days but you should always do what you can.
During this time I had met my future-wife. After a few nights of talking about my future I came to the conclusion that I really enjoyed teaching in the classroom but I didn’t want to do it forever. My wife suggested I look into bioengineering because of my background in biology, interest in exercise physiology, sharpened math skills (thanks to teaching), and the fact that apparently I “acted like an engineer.” After some initial research I decided I was going to do three things:
- Get my Masters’ in bioengineering
- Become a Personal Trainer
- Start a blog devoted to looking at fitness from the perspective of an engineer.
And that’s where I am today (For the most part). The blog has gone through a lot of changes over the past few years but the mission has always been the same:
The Mission of Brawn for Brains
To provide quality educational content to everyone seeking to improve their lives through health and fitness. Using my background as an engineer, trainer, teacher, and as someone that personally changed everything about their life by picking up a barbell.
I want to wash away the confusion the fitness industry perpetuates to sell more junk about the newest diet, supplement, or workout equipment that you just “HAVE TO HAVE.”
To promote the truth in health and fitness. I’ll never tell you that you can drop 30lbs in 6-weeks or you can have abs after just 21-days of starving yourself. I’ll tell you that it’s going to take consistency and hard work. I’ll tell you that you can still eat your favorite foods while dieting but you’ll have to reduce how much you eat. I won’t tell you that you can pack on slabs of muscle in just 60 days. I will tell you how to build the body you’ve always dreamed of and maintain it with a lifestyle that will make you happier than you’ve ever been.
Today, I am a completely different man than I was when I was 20. Back then: I was a struggling student just trying to get by with a series of C’s – Today: I am a top performer in my Masters’ program. Back then: I would resent any time that I’d have to spend doing work – Today: I find joy in my work as a research assistant engineer, data analysis consultant, personal trainer, and blogger. Back then: I was afraid to ever have to demonstrate any level of strength – Today: I proudly boast a 500lb Deadlift. Back Then: I was intimidated by life, everything seemed like a challenge that I couldn’t possibly overcome – Today: I can’t wait for the next challenge.