Friday, February 14, 2020

Do 100 burpees

Good Friday greetings to all Pierini Fitness sports fans.  It’s been one week exactly since my last post.  This is the time of the year when I work more hours and am therefore challenged in other departments, such as fitness and adding new content here.

My workouts are still taking place but they’re shorter.  One way to take full advantage of a shortened workout is to make sure there’s intensity.  I’m doing this by doing burpees; they’re never easy.

Right now, I’m focused on trying to complete 100 burpees in 11 minutes or less.  I’m not quite there yet but am moving in the right direction.

A couple days ago, after a quick 100 burpees workout, I bumped into an acquaintance at the post office who deduced by my appearance and lingering panting for breathing that I had just finished a challenging workout.  I described the workout I had just completed.  He then asked me why I do burpees to which I replied is that they keep me humble.

Hopefully, soon I’ll have something to share and hopefully it’ll be that I met my short-term goal of completing 100 burpees in 11 minutes or less.  Despite how busy I currently am, I’ll always have enough time available to do 100 burpees.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, February 7, 2020

An aging elitist

How to live forever is a popular topic of interest as evidenced by the sheer volume of articles and research devoted to it.  On any given day, there’s no shortage of reading material to cherry-pick and read about this subject.

A recent article in the New York Times reported that American life expectancy increased for the first time in four years in 2018.  It finally rebounded after three successive years of decline as a result of an opioid abuse epidemic. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, lower mortality from cancer, accidents and unintentional injuries explained the average life expectancy uptick for 2018, now at 78.7 years at birth.  While considered good news, American life expectancy is still less than most European countries.  

Meanwhile, to the delight of those wanting to live longer than ever before imaginable, aging-longevity influencers are adding new reading and viewing content to their blogs and websites at a blistering pace.  

Dr. Peter Attia, M.D. is one influencer whose content focuses on the science of longevity.  Among his many works is The 5 tactics in the longevity toolkit.

Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D. is another influencer who’s always adding new aging-longevity content to her FoundMyFitness website.  From autophagy, caloric restriction, epigenetic aging clocks, fasting and more, she offers a “ton of content” for the Ponce de Leon wannabe’s chasing their eternal fountains of youth.  The link between Metformin use and longevity seems to be one of her current topics of interest.

There are countless others who are devoting significant energy to the aging-longevity agenda, in the research they conduct, articles they publish and speeches they deliver to a captive “preaching to the choir” audience of Centrum Silver folks, and younger people too.

Hollywood actor and entertainer George Burns was able to reach the centenarian mark without the benefit of these modern-day aging-longevity influencers.  He did it thanks to daily exercise of swimming, walking, sit-ups and push-ups.  He also enjoyed smoking cigars and buying a new Cadillac every year.  Of course, his genetics obviously helped.

Kirk Douglas, another Hollywood actor, who recently passed away at age 103 years, also reached and surpassed the centenarian entry age.  He was interviewed at age 100 years and attributed his longevity to a wonderful, six decades long at the time, marriage.  Although his parents didn't live as long as he did, his genetics obviously helped.

A couple psychology professors conducted eight decades of research known as The Longevity Project that’s also the title of a book they wrote.  Their study of over 1,500 Americans for over 80 years pinpointed why some people live longer than others.  Being physically active, working hard and accomplishing desired results, challenging yourself and surpassing the limits you’ve set.  Being socially active with family and friends, having a good marriage and staying friendly with healthy people were also identified.

Meanwhile, another recent article appearing in the Financial Post had a catchy title “Treating aging like a disease is the next big thing for science.  The article quotes another longevity influencer, Peter Diamandis, who has said “The average human health span will increase by 10+ years this decade.”  He points to a dozen game-changing biotech and pharmaceutical solutions, including stem cell supply restoration and others that are beyond my middle-aged man meathead pay grade to comprehend.

This aging-longevity fascination is unbelievable!

Pierini Fitness is not yet ready to join the crowd that considers aging a disease.  He believes it’s a blessing, the gracefully aging version, because there are positive benefits from experiencing it.  By embracing it, we’ll be less likely to experience death bed resentment of why all the things we did to appreciably prolong our lives didn’t work.

Some might suggest there’s no downside to the elixir of hope, even if it’s false hope and this point is well taken.  It’s hard for them not to be mesmerized and tantalized by hope, of any kind, that their eventual meeting with the Grim Reaper will be much further away from their now than previously contemplated.  

Ponce de Leon never figured it out over 500 years ago and I don’t think most of us will either.  The elixir from the Fountain of Youth will continue escaping both of us in that we’ll likely not live as long as we’d like. Obesity, brought on by an opulent and gluttonous lifestyle many Americans live, brings on many of the maladies shortening life expectancy. 

Perhaps the solution is something simple like using duct tape covering the food eaten point of entry immediately after a necessary and sensible amount of food has been eaten.

None of this considers a proven American reality that those occupying higher socioeconomic groups have a statistically greater chance of reaching age 100 years than other groups.  Simply stated:  For life expectancy, money matters.

This, according to an article titled the same appearing in the Harvard Gazette on April 11, 2016, deserves our attention:

A Harvard analysis of 1.4 billion Internal Revenue Service records on income and life expectancy that showed staggering differences in life expectancy between the richest and poorest also found evidence that low-income residents in wealthy areas, such as New York City and San Francisco, have life expectancies significantly longer than those in poorer regions.”

The article also notes that access to health care is less of a contributing factor.  

So, we need to spend time improving our financial prosperity and the quality of the social circles we frequent.  

We need to spend time pursuing and “training” to be an aging elitist.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Fitness and nutrition bullshit

Today is the 36th day of this 2020 new year.  Already, undoubtedly, some middle-age men might be showing signs of weakness and pondering thoughts of abandoning their New Year 2020 fitness, health and wellness goals. 

It’s the nature of a middle-age man beast when the going gets tough; abandon the mission once the honeymoon ends and look for a new one that’ll tantalize and invigorate you.  I have, in the past, succumbed to this temptation.  Trust me, it’s a recipe for unsuccess.

Early last year, I shared what’s needed in these moments, calling them the pillars of strength, desire, discipline, patience and perseverance.  If you missed this pearl of wisdom reflection, consider reading what I wrote here:

Unfortunately, there’s no secret beyond these attributes, yet in moments of weakness, we might be tempted to looking elsewhere for something that might be easier; surfing the internet, talking to others, looking high and low for that needle in the haystack solution that’ll give us some relief from the daily grind drudgery, we now call it, we began with zeal slightly over one month ago.

Our imaginary visions are still possible of being a studly middle-age man by Summer 2020, prancing around the beach shirtless and wearing a pair of colorful speedos, sporting a killer middle-age man tan with a full head of silver streaked locks blowing in the wind thanks to a pleasant and warm summer breeze.

If only the effort getting us there was as easy and pleasant like the results.

Summer 2020 arrives in 136 days.  This vision is still achievable but only with daily and persistent hard work.  Abandonment isn’t a solution that’ll get us there, provided that which we started is a well thought-out and sensible action plan.  There are no quick fixes, only hard work fueled with incessant desire, discipline, patience and perseverance.

Don’t abandon your fitness, health and wellness ship.  Stay on course in the choppy waters of the sea towards your destination.  

Double down your efforts and avoid all fitness and nutrition bullshit.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, February 3, 2020

Our muscles won't grow

It’s challenging and maybe bordering on next to impossible for us middle-age men to add muscle mass to our manly bodies; yes, it can be a tall chore.  More likely than not, the girth we gain while living the good life and gracefully aging is fat.

No brag, just fact.

So, while we may work our tails off to keep our bodyweight stable, our body composition is likely changing.  The 170-lbs. sinewy teenager we once were, sporting 88 percent lean body mass and 12 percent bodyfat, may now be a 170-lbs. middle-age man sporting a "dad bod" of 75 percent lean body mass and 25 percent bodyfat.

Muscle atrophy syndrome strikes!  

My internet surfing tells me there are three types of muscle atrophy – physiologic, pathologic and neurogenic.  We’re more likely to be afflicted with physiologic and pathologic muscle atrophy as middle-age men as we march forward towards old manhood.

Physiologic muscle atrophy, caused by not using the muscles enough, can be reversed or mitigated by progressive resistance exercises and smarter eating.

Pathologic muscle atrophy, caused by aging, starvation, and certain diseases, is more difficult to deal with but, like physiologic muscle atrophy, can be mitigated somewhat by the same progressive resistance exercises and smarting eating.

Neurogenic muscle atrophy – caused from an injury or a nerve-related disease - is severe and reversing or mitigating it may not be possible.

I’m doing my best to mitigate my physiologic and pathologic muscle atrophy with the fitness training and the foods I eat.  Time will tell as time goes on how good a job I’ve done.  I’m sure you’re doing the same.

So, while we view horrific visual reminders of our manly muscular bodies withering away during morning encounters with our favorite bathroom mirrors, despite our stellar fitness training and nutrition, perhaps there’s some middle-age man comfort in the good news that atrophy doesn’t strike two parts of our bodies.  In fact, they keep growing!  While these two body parts aren’t muscle, their continuing growth provides a consolidation while the rest of our body is withering away.

We should take whatever growth we can get, so long as it’s not bodyfat growth!

Yes, this is good news.  Each new day, our ears and nose continue growing even though our muscles won’t grow.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 31, 2020

I can do that too

Pierini Fitness stays focused by primarily writing stuff having a theme of middle-age man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying to live a good and honest life.  But he also delivers, some “scholarly masterpieces” on fitness, health and wellness; again, having a middle-age man theme.

When I first began my blogging journey over a decade ago, the original idea was that Pierini Fitness would be a cyberspace arena I’d use to journal my fitness training workouts.  Along the way, and early in the game, I composed my timeless classic, Every man who looks in the mirror sees a 16-year old kid.  Realizing I was on to something, I immediately switched gears and started delivering reflections of the genre most often posted here.

Restless, from time to time, I would occasionally venture out and write economic and political stuff but quickly realized there is no shortage of middle-age man stiffs focusing on this content.  So, I backed off and focused on writing what I enjoy the most.

Yet along the way, there was this urge to express myself about economic and political arena thoughts that surfaced in my mind’s eye from time to time.  One day, about three years ago, I submitted an article to my hometown newspaper and shortly thereafter, received a telephone call from someone on the newspaper’s Editorial Board expressing an interest in publishing my submission.  Pierini Fitness, the economic and political commentator, was born.

Over the next few months, I submitted and had published four op-ed articles appearing in the Sunday edition of my hometown newspaper.  It was a great experience and I received a decent amount of both “fan” and “hate” e-mails from readers of my articles.  It was fun and I quickly discovered how I liked being a “bad guy” and ruffling the weathers of the lefties reading my hometown newspaper.

Here are links to the four articles I wrote:

Absent workers fired for ‘Day Without Immigrants’ protest learned a lesson in capitalism 

A capitalist approach is needed when replacing Obamacare

Aging California needs a fountain-of-youth solution

What’s the solution to California’s unaffordable housing crisis?

I was one a roll and the sky was my limit, but my brief career as a published op-ed article writer abruptly ended when my contact at the newspaper took an early retirement.  His replacement, I quickly discovered, failed to see my talents in my subsequent article submissions.  I tried and tried many times, but each submission was not accepted.  So, I decided to throw in the towel, quit while I was ahead and take an early retirement as an op-ed article writer about economic and political matters.

It was fun while it lasted!

This is an election year and although there’s a sizable cast of characters expressing themselves at various venues about their economic and political thoughts.  I can tell when reading their stuff how they’re enjoying what they’re doing.  I’m happy for them yet feel sorry for those who are confused in their thoughts.

Pierini Fitness does now and then get the itch to express himself on these matters, and he may from time to time this year because, after all, it’s an election year and I judge that my thoughts are desperately needed to balance out that which is expressed in the cyberspace political cloud of economic and political thoughts.

So, stay tuned because you might be reading some of my economic and political thought stuff in the months ahead because I can do that too.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Confusion delusion

If you’re like me, you must always be on guard for the nonsense floating around in our middle-aged man mind’s eye.  In the modern and fancy world in which we live, opportunities abound in the tales others tell us, the “news” we read and the testimonials teasing us about the glory and grandeur awaiting us if we only knew the secrets to success.  These are secrets that only others, but not us, know.

We’re fooled into believing there’s a pot of gold awaiting us at the end of a rainbow; we’re attracted to it, an attraction for perfection.  Inside this pot of gold are nuggets of great and wonderful faith, family, fitness, fortune and health.

We may want to be stellar in our faith, whatever our faith happens to be.  What middle-age man doesn’t want to go to Heaven?  Even atheists and pagans have faith; they believe in something, even if it’s nothing.  Entering their nothing afterlife just happens to be their heaven.

We may want to have a better family life, a kingdom bearing our surname where we are almighty patriarchs to whom familial chants in joyous chorus are sang, “Oh ye, who knowest all!”  Ozzy and Harriet and The Waltons planted those seeds of desire long ago.

What about fitness?   What middle-age man doesn’t want to be physically fit, not just a little, but a lot?  We all want to look good at the beach, capable of taking off our shirts on demand and drawing boundless oohs and awes from those who pass by.  There’s a Brutus Beefcake in our id.

No discussion is complete without mention of middle-age man fortune desires.  We have no shortage of frequent reminders in the internet articles we read, billboard ads we see and even discussions we have with some of our phony baloney peers who are perpetually chasing their imaginary end-of-the-rainbow pot of gold. They never have enough proving the truth that we can never have enough of what we don’t need.

Finally, what middle-aged man doesn’t want great health?  Yes, great health, not OK or good health but great health.  Heck, maybe excellent health or tremendously excellent health best describes our attraction, described in the most superlative way possible.

This is a big agenda we create for ourselves, a loaded to do list, like an 18-units full load college semester of upper division courses we’re tackling where we’ll settle for nothing less than “Straight A’s.”

Can we do it?  Is it possible?  What happens if we fail?  Why do some subject themselves to such a full plate of overwhelming pursuits?  Why do I?

When catching ourselves in such a quandary that we alone have created, let’s break away from the shackles keeping us in bondage to our middle-aged man confusion delusion.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 27, 2020

A speeding bus with my name on it

Last Monday, I shared my latest interest in heart rate recovery (HRR) after my workouts after recently reading an article written by a medical doctor cardiologist.  This article shared the doctor’s experience in measuring his HRR after a workout he did and how research evidence indicates that HRR is a simple and powerful predictor of mortality. 

Again, what’s HRR?

It’s the rate of decline in heart rate beats per minute (bpm) after you quit exercising and again a minute later (and/or two minutes later) and subtract one from the other.

There’s a 1999 study that examined the relationship between HRR and mortality risk.  This research revealed an average one-minute HRR of 17 bpm, but 26 percent of patients had an HRR of less than 13 bpm. Patients with an HRR of less than 13 bpm had a double risk of dying.

Another follow-up study of about 10 thousand patients found that an HRR of less than 13 bpm doubled the 5-year risk of death.

Yet another study reported that a 2-minute HRR of less than 22 bpm provided a better measure predicting mortality at seven years than the one-minute test.

Being an analytical beast, I decided to capture my HRR for three recent cardiovascular conditioning workouts.  Below is an HRR analysis executive briefing of them.  Note that my perceived maximum HR is 180 bpm.

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Workout – Run 6.0 miles in 1:04:44. 

HRR analysis - end of run 160 bpm - 1:00 = 120 bpm (-40 bpm) - 2:00 = 111 (-49 bpm). 

Monday, January 20, 2020
Workout – Bodyweight squats for 110 reps completed in 4:48.

HRR analysis - start 110 bpm end of BW squats 147 bpm - 1:00 = 116 bpm (-31bpm) - 2:00 = 106 (-41 bpm). 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Workout - 20kg kettlebell snatch, right side x 5 reps and left-side 5 reps every minute on the minute for 10 rounds completed in 9:48.

HRR analysis - end of workout 157 bpm - 1:00 = 133 bpm (-24 bpm) - 2:00 = 117 bpm (-40 bpm).

These results indicate I enjoy a lower risk of cardiovascular-related mortality, so I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing with my cardiovascular conditioning training.

But there are no guarantees in life regarding my premature mortality.    I could have an early meeting with the Grim Reaper if, for example, one day I’m crossing the street and am met by a speeding bus having my name on it.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 23, 2020

OK boomer

It’s normal for us middle-aged men to have ambivalent feelings from time to time about our gracefully aging journeys.  On one hand, we’re blessed with perspectives and wisdom coming from a life well-lived, having racked up many lessons of life along the way.

On the other hand, at any given moment, more so upon awakening or late at night before calling it another day of life, we may be toiling with aches, atrophy, rust and wrinkles, physically and emotionally,  that shout out as “friendly reminders” that our journeys toward the end of our lives are getting closer to the end.  This assumes, of course, we’re not afflicted with stage 4 denial.  

Which of the two is the better?

Neither, because they come as a package that, most of the time, results in a middle-aged man blur with one not being distinguishable from the other. 

Would we rather turn back the clocks of our lifetimes to our more youthful yesteryears, or to be content and grateful with what we’ve got and how we are at our now moments?

Perhaps this pearl of wisdom from an aging older woman, actress Helen Mirren, says it best:  “With every age comes advantages and disadvantages. And you tend to find you don’t want to go back.  You want to be exactly where you are with everything you’ve experienced.”

What a great and healthy perspective this is, yet we might still ponder it along with a realization of thinking getting old would take longer.  And a realization that someone once shared with me when I asked how he was doing and he replied, “I’m getting old and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Nevertheless, we must gallantly continue marching forward in our gracefully aging journeys, flaunting our baby boomer perspectives and wisdom to the youthful generations, the cast of characters who stand below us in the wisdom department, known by others as Generation X, Millennial and Generation Z.

These youthful characters may not always appreciate our perspectives and wisdom, thinking they’re laden with old-fashioned, unsolicited and not of value attributes in today’s modern and fast-paced “real world” in which they live.

“Thanks, but no thanks”, they may say if they’re trying their best to be semi-courteous.  Or, if they’re curt, maybe we’ll “luck out” and get an “OK boomer.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 20, 2020

I'm interested in my HRR

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.  According to statistics appearing on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, heart disease leads the top ten pack, accounting for 31 percent of all deaths for 2017, the latest-published information.

National Center for Health Statistics - USA Numbers for Leading Causes of Death

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
The above statistics are for all ages, both male and female.  Since Pierini Fitness will be a “newly-crowned” Medicare Man next month, he decided to see what the statistics are for age 65 years and above males.  According to the same source, for males age 65 years and older all races and origins, diseases of the heart contributed to 27 percent of all deaths for 2017.  This was surprising in that the percentage for all age groups male and female.

Nonetheless, it’s too high for Pierini Fitness and has opened his eyes to the importance of doing everything possible for his cardiovascular conditioning and health.  Obviously, diet is important, yet what the best way to eat for good cardiovascular health is a topic of heated discussion among the many nutrition expert factions in the world all believing they know best.  I’ll say nothing more about cardiovascular health nutrition in this post, saving that discussion, perhaps, for a different day.

But I continue to believe that exercise does contribute to my cardiovascular conditioning and health.  To have some objective way of assessing, I like numbers, such as heart rate statistics obtained from my Garmin heart rate fitness monitor that I capture with each workout.  I’m an analytical junkie when it comes to my fitness, health and wellness.

Last year, about this time, I reported the results of a YMCA Bench Step Test for Cardiovascular Fitness.  This test rated my performance as excellent, so I was pleased. 

I recently read an article written by a medical doctor cardiologist who goes by the cyberspace name of The Skeptical Cardiologist.  He has a website where he shares his unbiased and evidence-based articles he has written discussing the effects of diet, drugs and procedures on heart disease.

The article I read shared the doctor’s experience in measuring his heart rate recovery (HRR) after a workout he did and how research evidence indicates that HRR is a simple and powerful predictor of mortality.  

What’s HRR?

It’s the rate of decline in heart rate after you quit exercising.  It’s measured by taking your heart rate (beats per minute of bpm) right after you stop exercising and again a minute later (and/or two minutes later) and subtract one from the other.

The Skeptical Cardiologist’s article referred to a 1999 study that reported the results of a cardiovascular research study measuring HRR and mortality risk.  In the research, the median HRR was 17 bpm but 26 percent had an HRR of less than 13 bpm. Patients with an HRR of less than 13 bpm had a double risk of dying.

Another follow-up study of about 10 thousand patients found that an HRR of less than 13 bpm doubled the 5-year risk of death.

Yet another study reported that a 2-minute HRR of less than 22 bpm provided a better measure predicting mortality at seven years than the one-minute test.

While regularly measuring heart rate performance during my workouts, the HRR stat hasn’t regularly been one of them but it’ll now be moving forward.

Yup, I’m interested in my HRR.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum