My name is Brian McFadden. Right now, I live in Toyohashi, Japan with my wife charlie and son fenix.

8 Reflective Questions to Enter the New Year With Clarity



While deeply embedded in some strain of influenza, I had time to stare at the ceiling for about four days straight. During this stretch of impairment, one begins to chew on the crust of life — the outer layers we rarely tend to. 

The last week of 2017 was a slow one for me and rather than my usual remedy against the flatness (walking, cooking, garage weightlifting and reading) I was reduced to letting questions float to top of mind. 

Now that the energy has partially returned to my bones (everyone knows it’s a 1:2 recovery ratio after the winter flu), the brief week of nothing is now viewed with a different perspective. The forced downshift induces one into a state of acceptance. You receive this condition humbly because you get a chance to see life in a new dimension — a vista otherwise impossible when we are tangled in the webs we’ve spun ourselves with day-to-day stuff. 

I will offer the following questions in a non-linear fashion — the same way they entered my head. My answers may inspire, they may bore, they may be irrelevant to you — none of that matters. What you can do is take these questions and make the answers your own. 

What I am rebelling against here is standardization of course. This process of trying to formulaize everything kills uniqueness and wonder. To get anything out this piece, you will have to think and arrive at your own answers. 

That’s the primer. Here are 8 questions to begin the new year with clarity. 


What happened last year?


  • My family and I moved 
  • I wrote a book for and to my son
  • Our son was born
  • I wrote another book (poetry)
  • I re-discovered that I really enjoy coaching people 
  • I developed the SS5 Lean Bulking program. This program helped me become the strongest I’d ever been in my lifting career.
  • We adopted a hound-dog
  • I bought a Japanese classic luxury car as a daily driver (1990 Lexus LS 400) with cash which was a big step in practicing simplicity for me. 
  • Joined The Creative Cafe as an contributing editor (we are getting close to 40k subs). We are also launching our first hard-copy collective book next year. 
  • Had the best year of my life with my contract/freelance work as a writer/creator. 


What did I surrender to in 2017?

Spontaneity. Not in the kind of way you’d think. Having my first child forced me to be more flexible not because I wanted to be, but because I had to be. At first this felt incredibly forced. With time however, the subtle everyday spontaneity has taught me that beauty cannot be predicted. 


Where can I improve in 2017?

My priorities are not what they say they are, but what I invest my time into. One of the “priorities.” I claim with my mouth is relationship(s). Looking back on 2017, I can say that I have room to improve in this area. One reminder to myself here is that it doesn't have to be grandiose — a conversation over coffee in a messy home is better than a well-thought out dinner that never happens. 


What are the three words my wife uses to describe me?

Selfless. Driven. Indecisive (when it comes to where we want to live). 


What was the single most challenging thing I faced in 2017? 

Anxiety attacked with full force this year. It’s absurd to try to even describe what this is like but if you experience anxiety, there’s no need for words — you know the feeling. 

I refuse to go down without a fight against anxiety. The amount of time and resources I spend on managing this aspect of my life is damn embarrassing. But, the things I do — meditate, exercise, supplement, pray, ice baths, sauna sessions — are all ways that help me be human. 

This is life and sometimes it’s hard and that’s okay. 


What was the best media I consumed in 2017?

The type of media I enjoy the most tells me more than what I find pleasurable. As a writer, this guides my consumption and allows me to drop into flow much easier and more consistently. 


When did I feel the best? 

As a coach and trainer, this is an interesting question for me. My athletic background has groomed me to adopt a “all or nothing” mindset. This works when you’re single, 24 and work part-time at a bar but make a full-time income. Today, approaching 33 with a family, I’ve had to pivot my approach because my priorities have shifted. 

I spent an intense 12-weeks on the SS5 Lean Bulking program this year. It was a great experience but I realized that it wasn’t sustainable with a newborn and a wife and a job. 

Instead of “all or nothing” I’m now living the by the phrase of “always something.” As a snapshot this means that fitness is a part of my life, not all of my life. Looking good is still a part of the drive, but I’m going after a feeling more than anything now. I want to feel well and joyful. I’ve noticed that when I’m in this spot, everything in my life is better (even though I may not be squatting 405 pounds). 

Instead of obsessing over food, I now eat intuitively. Instead of worrying about missing workouts, I now have peace that I can exercise 4 times per week and still be awesome shape. 

The good news is that this type of holistic nutrition and integrative approach to fitness is teachable. Click here to learn how I teach this style of health and fitness to my students. 


What am I sure of? 

Again, shotgun-style:

  • My time will end.
  • God willing, I will share stories until that time comes. 


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Sick Days