Friday, February 15, 2019

And I’m on it

The kettlebell (KB) is the primary fitness training implement in my Pierini Fitness toolbox.  I recently shared what’s in my fitness training toolbox.  If you missed that read, here it again:

In my KB training journey, the work I do is single KB complexes, primarily because of my limited KB inventory and, more importantly, they’re easier than double KB complexes.  There comes a time, however, when one must take their training to the next level and include double KB complexes in the training mix.  Recently, I’ve decided to do this, and it’s been a humbling experience.

Last Saturday, while at work, I decided to take a double KB complex for a test drive.  What I chose to do was a double KB complex consisting of a round of clean, rack squat and overhead press for five reps, for five rounds.  For some reason, I’m an “5x5 KB dude”, meaning I like to put together KB complex workouts consisting of five rep rounds for five rounds.  Sometimes, the complexes include five different KB movements so it’s a 5x5x5 KB complex.  This one, however, was a 3x5x5 workout, meaning there were three KB movements, done together, making up one rep, done for five rep rounds, for five rounds.

It was tough! 

Isn’t this the case when adding a new workout to our training?  There’s lack of familiarity with the new workout, not to mention the double load.  A pair of 20kg KB’s weigh 88 lbs.  That’s double the load of a single 20kg KB weighting 44 lbs.  Toss in the coordination element handling a pair, versus one, KB and I had a challenging introductory double KB complex workout.

Here’s the fifth and final round of my workout:

I like to periodically video record my workouts because it allows me to evaluate my form.  I did this when training in karate and the Olympic lifts about ten years ago.  The feedback gives me what I need to focus on to improve my form and workout performance.

This video showed that my double KB cleans are rough and not smooth as they should be.  The KB’s should gently arrive in the rack position without banging on my shoulders.  I also learned that the lack of heavier load squatting is showing up at how I had to work coming out of the bottom position of the rack squat.  Finally, the overhead push jerk work I’ve been doing has come at a price of not doing enough overhead press work.  You’ll notice that I struggled with completing the overhead press reps during the fifth and final round of this workout.

Overall, my introduction to KB complex work was a humbling experience.  I’ve got some work to do and I’m on it.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I wonder if he's still alive?

A week ago today, I was in San Francisco for business.  I decided to lodge at the Hostelling International USA San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Hostel at Fort Baker.  It’s a stone’s through from both Fisherman’s Wharf and the Presidio of San Francisco where I was stationed as a young soldier 46 years ago.  I’ve stayed there many times in my distant past while on business because I enjoy the international and vagabond flare of those who stay there.

As often is the case when returning to places visited long ago, memories start to come front and center about people I knew, places I frequented, etc., etc.  Perhaps the challenge of parking unique to hilly San Francisco triggered some of the memories entering my mind.

One memory was when I took an Introduction to Criminal Justice class at San Francisco City College.  I remember how difficult it was finding a parking place.  It was so bad that I decided I wouldn’t take any more classes.  It wasn’t fun circling around campus, over and over, trying to find a parking place and not be late for class.  Besides, I reckoned, there were better things to do than study. After all, I was an 18-year old young soldier living in exciting San Francisco.  Later, however, I did take another class, Introduction to Accounting, but it was held on base, so I didn’t have to deal with trying to find a non-existent parking place.    

This memory got me thinking about the instructor.  He was an older fellow, in relation to me, who was probably slightly past the halfway point of being a middle-aged man.  I don’t know why the thought of him entered my mind.  What I remember about him is how he always prefaced what he said with “basically speaking.”  This was his transition crutch to whatever it was he was about to say.  “I wonder if he’s still alive?”, I wondered, while doing a little finger math and reckoning that he’s probably not but, I’ll never know.

This pondering then took me back even further to a high school bookkeeping class I once took during summer school.  I don’t know why I took the class, but I liked it and the instructor.  This memory made me wonder if he was still alive.  I’m guessing he was in his early 40’s when I was about 16 or 17 years old.  This means, if he’s still alive, he’d be close to 90 years old.  It’s possible he’s still living but, I’ll never know.

I confess these are just two examples of the wonderings I have when spending time in yesteryear land.  I don’t know if there’s anything weird about having these wonderings.  Maybe they’re simply me wondering about my eventual meeting with the Grim Reaper.  Sooner or later, we’ll all get our turn.

Obviously, these two individuals left me with lingering memories about them.  Perhaps it was something I judged as intrinsically good about them that was deeply-embedded in my subconscious.  Whatever it was, it got me wondering.

I wonder if I might one day leave a lingering memory in the minds of people I have or will interactive with.  You know, younger people who chronologically have much more time remaining on planet earth than I do.

Will they remember some pearl of wisdom I shared with them, perhaps a joke or laughter-oriented encounter, or maybe something unpleasant like a rough conflict encounter that puts one or both of us in an uncomfortable position we’d rather not be?

Or, might it be one or more of the thousand plus reflections they read at Pierini Fitness, diamonds in the rough, yet wholesome, middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying to live a good and honest life.

Time will tell but, it does make me wonder, just as I was wondering last week, will they one day be wondering about me and thinking or saying, “I wonder if he’s still alive?”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, February 11, 2019

Not a typical day as an IF practitioner

I’m an intermittent fasting (IF) practitioner again and have been since the middle of August 2018 when beginning my current fitness, health and wellness journey.  

This isn’t the first time I’ve been riding the IF pony.  The first time was almost 10 years ago, and I shared my experience here at Pierini Fitness:  My intermittent fasting journey

There are several versions of IF and you can read up about them if you’re interested because I won’t explain them in today’s blogflection.  Some prefer to use the term “time restricted eating” and explain the subtle difference between it and IF.  Again, I’ll not take valuable content space here lecturing you about it.

I don’t know exactly but would guess that my average fasting period is about 19 hours, so this means my feeding window is about 5 hours.  Sometimes I fast longer and other times shorter.  Therefore, I’m guessing my feeding windows have ranged from two to eight hours in a 24-hour period.  Some would refer to a short feeding window of two hour as OMAD, an acronym for one meal a day.

I thought it would be interesting to share with you a day in my life as an IF practitioner, so I chose to share my feeding window last Saturday.

It began at 10:25 a.m. after a fasting period that started 7:40 p.m. Friday evening.  This means my fasting period was 14 hours and 45 minutes.  This is a little shorter than normal because, again, my shortest fasting period is typically 16 hours.  Friday was an atypical day and, as a result, my last meal ended much later than normal.  Typically, I like to be done eating by 6:00 p.m.

So, when beginning my feeding window, I ate three pieces of fruit – a banana, an apple, and an orange – during a one-hour period.  That was it until later in the day when I had my main meal.

It consisted of treating myself to one of my favorite meals at a restaurant I frequent about once every two months.  I treated myself to a full rack of barbeque baby back ribs and a “naked” baked potato, naked meaning I ate it plain without the typical gobs of butter and sour cream that many prefer when eating one.

What’s the bottom line of this big meal I feasted on?

BEFORE – 1,672 calories

AFTER – 0 calories

That was it?

My total caloric intake was 1,965 calories and my feeding window this day, which ended at 5:00 p.m., was 6 hours and 35 minutes.

I normally don’t pay much attention to macros except as an afterthought.  In case you’re interested, here’s how the day went in the macro department:

Now, I know what some of you are thinking.  Where’s the vegetables or, not enough fiber.

Every day is different.  Some days I’ll have a starch-centric high carbohydrate, low protein and low-fat day.  On other days, it’ll be very high fat, monosaturated fats preferred, along with balanced protein and fat day.

All in all, most days are much different but, for me, last Saturday was not a typical day as an IF practitioner.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, February 8, 2019

My hair is on fire

Last month Pierini Fitness shared that he’s a fitness, health and wellness work-in-progress with a goal of dropping some bodyweight by his next birthday, coming up in less than two weeks.  His goal is to arrive at a bodyweight of 177 lbs.  As of today, at a bodyweight of 182 lbs., he might not achieve his birthday goal weight but should be very close.

If he doesn’t achieve his goal by then, he won’t toss in the towel but, rather, keep the discipline intact by marching forward as he has done every day since last year August 31st when beginning the task at hand.

This weight he has been shedding is an almost decade-long "science experiment" resulting in about 30 extra lbs. of bodyweight added to what can best described as a yesteryear chiseled Pierini Fitness

During the last year of this "science experiment", like a lot of middle-aged men, he got too comfortable early last year and took an extended time-out, basically paying attention to everything else but his fitness and nutrition.  Consequently, he got extra out of condition and packed on the final 10 lbs. of a decade-long weight gain of about 30 lbs.  Some would call this added load lard.

History has a tendency of repeating itself so, he has been there before, did it and done it, including peeling it off and that’s what he has been doing every single day since August 31st.  Now, 29 lbs. lighter, he can smell the “finish line”, but may not cross it on his birthday which was his initial goal.

It doesn’t matter because he’ll eventually cross the finish line and will be sure to let you know here at Pierini Fitness, so stay tuned.

But, why didn’t he catch himself sooner as the poundage was piling up?  That’s a fair and simple question for which there’s a simple answer – denial! 

He suffered from a bad case of “every man who looks in a mirror sees a 16-year old kid.”  Oh, my mirror, how I love it; it’s the camera and scale with which I have issues.  And, I solved these issues by not taking any photos or jumping on a scale during my fitness, health and wellness sabbatical.  I was immersed in my denial as are so many others who have allowed peak fitness, health and wellness to get away from them.  I knew I wasn’t alone.

But, sooner or later, we hit a rock bottom, a condition of disgust with one’s self, an “enough is enough” realization and then we “attack” what we’ve allowed and created with an intensity capable of solving all the great problems of the world.

That’s what Pierini Fitness has been doing and he’s relentless.  He won’t stop until he has arrived, again, and this time, he’s going to make darn sure it doesn’t happen again.  It’s too hard to be subjected to an Army “boot camp” approach to get back where he needs to be and honor his fitness and body 24/7.  To showcase middle-aged man fitness, health and wellness at its best.

But, along the way, those who are part of my life must have seen a change taking place as my previous chisel was evaporating in thin air right before their eyes.  Why didn’t they say anything?  Were they in denial too?  Or, were they trying to be my “friend” and not want to hurt my feelings?  Talk about the weather or engage in small talk like, “How about them Raiders!” 

I’m not sure but do know this, none of my “friends” or “acquaintances” said one word, their silence was deafening, to which I say, “thanks but please, no thanks the next time.”

Next time, please, tell me when my hair is on fire.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

It’s his wallet paying the tab

A couple months ago, Pierini Fitness read an article in Consumer Reports about medical screening tests you do and don’t need.  The article reported how some of these tests may be life-saving while others can be a waste of time and money and pose risks.  The subject interested me, so I read the entire article.

The article went on to say how there are scores of blood tests, ultrasounds and CT scans for conditions like cancer and low bone density.  And, increasingly, many of these tests are offered direct-to-consumer, meaning that we can order and pay for them directly without having to get our physicians or health insurance carriers approve them in advance.

Since Pierini Fitness pays his own health insurance premiums because he’s self-employed, he has chosen a high-deductible health insurance policy in exchange for lower health insurance premiums.  This means a higher annual deductible so for many years now, he’s shopped around and paid for medical care and tests without using a physician.

Around twice a year, he has blood work to assess his cholesterol level, fasting glucose and an assortment of other health markers depending on what he would like to know.  He uses a company named DirectLabs to directly order various lab tests.  After the lab order is placed, a requisition form is provided that you take to any one of several local labs, the same ones you’d go to if your doctor ordered the test, where blood is drawn.  Generally, within 48 hours, the lab results are directly provided to me via online access.  I then study and evaluate the lab results. Sometimes, it’s necessary to read up and learn more if a lab result reading indicates something is outside what’s considered a normal reference range.  Since I’m a meathead and not a medical doctor, fortunately I have a couple physician acquaintances I can go to if I have questions.

My next scheduled blood lab work is coming up in a couple weeks on my birthday.  Having lab work done on my birthday is an annual ritual I’ve been doing for several years now.

Something else I recently had done about four months ago was a series of screenings performed by a company named Life Line Screening.  It offers more than 15 preventative screening options to detect risks for heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and more. 

What I had tested used ultrasound to assess for the existence of any plaque build-up or restriction of blood flow in my carotid arteries, atrial fibrillation, abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease, and osteoporosis.

The Consumer Reports article indicated that screening has become a big business.  While little information is available on how many dollars are spent nationwide for screenings that are beneficial, one study found that about 26 percent of individuals had at least one test or treatment identified by experts as unnecessary.

Most of the overuse in this study related to 11 services and eight of them were screening tests, perhaps like the ones I had done.  For example, the study reported that about $40 million alone went for annual electrocardiograms (EKGs) and other heart screenings for people at low risk for cardiovascular disease and without symptoms.

This may very well be the case for Pierini Fitness.  Based on medical history, recent lab work measuring cholesterol levels and other health markers including blood pressure, he meets the definition of being at low risk for cardiovascular disease and is without symptoms.

Nevertheless, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 55 to 64 years, the age decade of Pierini Fitness. 

Click here to learn more:
Back to the screenings that Pierini Fitness had done late last year.  He paid $149 for the previously mentioned screening tests and learned the following:

Carotid Artery Disease – No evidence was found of plaque build-up or restrictions of blood flow in my carotid arteries.

Atrial Fibrillation – No atrial fibrillation was detected.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm – No aneurysm was detected.

Peripheral Arterial Disease – Normal results were detected meaning that the blood pressure in my ankles are as high or higher than the blood pressure in my arms. 

Osteoporosis – My bone density was 0.791 which was rated as moderate risk for bone diminishment.  It was recommended that I receive further evaluation from my primary care physician.  This was a surprise to me and I’m studying what my next course of action will be.  I had judged by bone density to be adequate.

Consumer Reports concludes its article by commenting that when recommending screenings, your physician should generally rely on scientific evidence and guidelines from the government and expert organizations.  Studies have found, however, many physicians aren’t up-to-date of this evidence of these guidelines.  Therefore, Pierini Fitness has decided to learn more and raise his medical knowledge bar and be a better-informed medical and health care consumer.

Were these tests unnecessary?  According to the experts who conducted the study previously mentioned that found many tests done are unnecessary, the answer may be yes.

But, Pierini Fitness was the consumer for these tests, paid the $149 and is very satisfied with the information provided and the assurances received.  He’ll continue to have direct-to-consumer blood lab work and other health screening procedures done as he chooses because he’s the medical consumer and besides, it’s his wallet paying the tab.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum