Monday, May 20, 2019

You'd be a 64-year old man?


It’s inevitable going a day without looking at myself in the mirror.  I suppose it’s possible if I didn’t own a mirror and didn’t go anywhere near a mirror but it’s probably fair to say that all of us have at least one daily encounter.

And whether we consciously do it or not, most of us take a good hard look at what the mirror reveals.  For gracefully aging middle-aged men, it’s a reflection of, hopefully, a gracefully aging middle-aged man.  Despite, however, how gracefully aging it’s unfolding for us, the truth of the matter is if we look close enough and are honest, we see an old man in training.

Twenty-something plus years ago, I had a conversation with a client who was a newly crowned octogenarian.  I was probably in my late 40’s at the time.  He was a person full of life, still working, always exhibiting a joyful being and capable of making you laugh along with him.  

One day I asked him if when he was a young man, he had ever imagined being an 80-year old man.  He replied never in his wildest dreams.  Then, he shared a memory when he was a younger man, probably in his mid-30’s, working at a Naval shipyard, about having a thought while at work, that if he could only make it to his 50’s how he’d be grateful.

I recently asked my Mom the same question while at lunch to celebrate her 88th birthday.  Her answer was the same; she never ever thought that one day she'd be an 88-year old woman.

My guess is most of us don’t have these thoughts.  I’m not sure I have, even though that day, Gold willing, isn’t far away. 

Those who’ve read my reflections know one of my favorite expressions is that every man who looks in a mirror sees a 16-year-old kid.  It’s nothing more than a middle-aged man expression in jest, meant to have fun, a play on words, a figure of speech, an expression of hope for what I know isn’t possible. Yet, undoubtedly, it annoys some and this includes none other than Ms. Pierini Fitness .  

One day, about ten years ago, after I had again bellowed out my famous expression for the umpteenth time, she pleaded with me to get honest by reminding me that I was closer to my father’s age than being a 16-year old kid.  I did a little finger math and discovered she was correct.  While 30 years away from my father’s age, I was a whopping 38 years removed from this mythical 16-year-old kid character to whom I constantly refer.

To have the same reflective benefit that I’ve given others asking this rhetorical question, when next looking in the mirror, I’ll ask “Mr. Pierini Fitness, when you were a 16-year-old kid, did you ever imagine one day you’d be a 64-year old man?”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 17, 2019

Cholesterol update 2019


Pierini Fitness was recently asked if he still gets his blood tested and, if so, if practicing intermittent fasting (IF) has had any noticeable change to these tests over the years.

This question couldn’t have been timelier because it’s been on his agenda to write a post about it. Heads-up, this is a very long post so if you have acute attention-deficit disorder, you might want to move on and read something else of interest.

Pierini Fitness likes to have blood work done several times a year to see how his health markers of interest are behaving.  Not letting his health insurance stand in the way of deciding when to have it done, he pays on his own and uses an online service to order blood work.  It’s less costly and more efficient.

Today, he’ll share the results of recent lab work starting with when he began his current fitness, health and wellness journey last August 31, 2018.  If you’ve read previous posts, you know that was the day that he embarked upon his mission of reclaiming being the lean and mean middle-aged man fighting machine he desires to be, who he has been most of the past 25 years of middle-age manhood except for the last couple years when he fell off the wagon.

Below are his lab results for cholesterol beginning on August 31, 2018 until the most recent one.  He assumes you understand the cholesterol-related terms because you should.

August 31, 2018 – morning BW of 210.8 lbs.
LDL 131 mg/dL high - 31 mg/dL low – triglycerides 121 mg/dL - total 185 mg/dL

October 31, 2018 – morning BW of 197.0 lbs.
LDL 122 mg/dL high - 36 mg/dL low – triglycerides 77 mg/dL - total 175 mg/dL

November 30, 2018 – morning BW of 190.3 lbs.
LDL 109 mg/dL high - 32 mg/dL low – triglycerides 95 mg/dL - total 160 mg/dL

February 19, 2019 – morning BW of 177.8 lbs.
LDL 109 mg/dL high - 38 mg/dL low – triglycerides 89 mg/dL - total 165 mg/dL

April 18, 2019 – morning BW of 170.2 lbs.
LDL 121 mg/dL high - 43 mg/dL – triglycerides 70 mg/dL - total 178 mg/dL

Some additional information is worth sharing.

As previously mentioned, August 31, 2018 is when he began his current fitness, health and wellness journey and reported to Pierini Fitness boot camp.  It’s also when he resumed keeping detailed journals of his morning bodyweight, eating and workouts.  Every single day since then, he’s kept these journals and every single day since then, he has improved his fitness, health and wellness.  The lesson learned, again, is to keep doing what he’s doing.

He has never experienced weight gain or fitness erosion while keeping detailed journals but has experienced both when slacking off and not journaling.  So, he’ll continue journaling because, for him, it works.

He began IF on September 15, 2018 after being frustrated with the first two weeks of his journey.  Every single day since then, he has I’ve practiced IF with different fasting and feeding durations. 

The October 31, 2018 blood work indicates movement in the right direction with a notable decrease in triglycerides even though LDL and HDL results fall outside the lab reference range of 100 mg/dL or less for LDL and 40 mg/dL or higher for HDL.  Pierini Fitness has a history of low HDL and so does his Mom so, perhaps, there’s a genetic explanation.

His LDL dropped to its lowest during this period on November 30, 2018 and then again on February 19, 2019 as his weight continued to drop.  But it was still above the reference range of 100 mg/dL.  He has accepted that’s the way it’ll be and sees no reason to introduce additional dietary changes or start taking prescription medicine. 

He remembers more than a dozen years ago having his last physical and lab results with an LDL reading of slightly over 100 mg/dL.  The physician commented how he needed to monitor this and perhaps start taking a statin prescription medicine.  This was the last time he saw that physician. 

While some might consider it unwise, Pierini Fitness hasn’t had a primary care physician in over ten years.  That’s not to say he hasn’t visited one.  He has a couple clients who are physicians that he can go to for answers to questions.  He also spends a lot of time reading and learning about middle-aged man fitness, health and wellness to plug the gap. He may have a fool for a patient but thus far his approach has worked for him.  Your mileage may vary.

Pierini Fitness began practicing OMAD (one meal a day) on March 6, 2019, the beginning of Lent 2019, and continued for 45 consecutive days until April 18, 2019, the last time he had blood work.  During these 45 days, he fasted 22 hours a day and had a two-hour feeding window beginning once the sun set.  Also, he didn’t eat meat during this time period.

Naturally, he was curious what his cholesterol reading would be from this and that’s why he again had blood work on this day.  To his surprise, his total cholesterol and LDL were higher, but his triglycerides were lower.  He’s still scratching his head on this one.

Over the years, Pierini Fitness has kept a log of cholesterol blood work results with his first entry going back to June 1, 2001 when he was 46 years young dripping wet.  His cholesterol lab results on that day were LDL 117 mg/dL high - 40 mg/dL – triglycerides 67 mg/dL - total 170 mg/dL.  He knows from memory that he was in tip-top fitness conditioning at that time and probably weighed between 175 to 180 lbs.  Yet, there’s not a significant difference in that lab result compared to his most recent 18 years later. 

Of the 19 entries of cholesterol blood work in his log, only once has he had an LDL reading below 100 mg/dL.  Also, his HDL readings have been below 40 mg/dL for 13 of the 19 recorded entries.  The highest HDL was 69 on February 6, 2013 where he notated that he had been taking a niacin supplement.

Debates about cholesterol can be more intense than people arguing about politics, so Pierini Fitness chooses to not engage in that verbal warfare but to instead be a student of his own health and wellness and have some basis for knowing what it is such as from regular bloodwork. 

He’s previously shared how late last year he had a series of preventative health screenings to detect his risks for heart disease and other conditions.  One screening was to see if there was any plaque build-up or restrictions of blood flow in his carotid arteries.  Another was to assess for peripheral arterial disease and his results were normal meaning that the blood pressure in his ankles are as high or higher than the blood pressure in his arms.

If you’re interested, here’s where he shares about these screenings:


The health markers he follows with regular blood lab work are not limited to cholesterol.  Perhaps, on a different day, he’ll share more.

But, until then, there you have it Pierini Fitness sports fans, a rather long rambling about his current fitness, health and wellness journey and his cholesterol update 2019.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Unless I try


It’s common in discussions that sooner or later one, or the other, will express an opinion about something related to fitness, health and wellness, expressed authoritatively as if they're an expert on the subject; I know I have.

Generally, the source of this "expertise" comes from something read somewhere else written by someone else who believes it and then regurgitates it to others.  I remember, the first time I experimented with intermittent fasting over ten years ago, telling my Mom that I only ate during a two to three-hour window all my food for the day.

“it’s bad for you to do that”, she said to which I replied, “How do you know?”  “Because”, she said, “Dr. Oz said so.”  And how does Dr. Oz know this was the question I next wanted to ask but didn’t because the conversation would have led to nowhere.  Pick your arguments and battles wisely with parents and other family members.  It isn’t worth the effort.

Recently, I read an article authored by Jeff Novak, a dietician and nutritionist with over 25 years of experience.  The title of his article was, “Did you hear about the study in the news today?”  It cleverly drove home a point about how, thanks to the internet, health information today is much more common than the past.  We constantly hear or read about another new study or report on health. These reports are often very confusing and conflicting because if you listen to them, one moment something is good for us and the next moment it’s bad.

The good news is we’re now able to pick a study supporting what we believe and spread it around like wildfire.  The bad news is so can everyone else and, as a result, it makes for some heated discussions.  Such heated discussions are no longer limited to Christians and atheists going at it, or political conservatives mixing it up with progressive liberals debating capitalism versus socialism, or whether global warming is real or imaginary.

We now have heated debates about whether cholesterol is good or bad, whether the Keto diet is good or bad or whether fasting is good or bad.  As an experienced practitioner of intermittent fasting, I’ve wasted time discussing it with those who believe it’s a bunch of nonsense offering no proven health and wellness benefits.  Generally, these are people who have not tested the waters, but get their knowledge from something they’ve read written by someone else who may also not have first-hand experience either but, nonetheless, believes it’s good or bad for whatever reason. 

Mr. Novak’s article points out that studies over the last few decades, have repeatedly shown that less than five percent of Americans follow the basic healthy lifestyle habits with regard to smoking, alcohol, body weight, activity and diet and less than one percent follow the basic minimum nutrition guidelines of a healthy diet. Yet up to 90 percent claim they consume a healthy diet and over one-third say they consume a very healthy diet.  Many of these “experts” will be the ones dispensing advice based on something they’re read or heard.  Most will not be from actual experience.

Unless we go beyond the internet article, generally written click bait style, we’ll never understand what a research study completely reports but only what the author decided was important.  And, unless we occasionally test the waters with our own sample-of-one “science experiment”, we’ll not have the perspective from personal experience allowing us to have a higher-level perspective to share with others when having fitness, health and wellness discussions.

This is what Pierini Fitness tries to do.  Whether it’s testing an exercise approach or doing an experiment with eating a certain way, he’s constantly testing the waters for his own personal benefit.

So, when someone says that fasting is not good for you, he’s able to share real-life experience of having fasted 22 hours a day for 45 consecutive days and what was his experience.  Reading some article can never be as good as a real-life anecdotal experience.

While sample-of-one results may not be representative of the “truth”, it happens to be my truth and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

So, he'll continue with the science experiments from time to time in his pursuit of his truth because I’ll never know unless I try. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 10, 2019

Half dozen extra slices of pizza


Today is an update on how Pierini Fitness is doing in the middle-aged man lean and mean department.  He’s shared before, relatively-recently, how he got dead serious last August and decided to reclaim his middle-aged man leanness.  His mission was accomplished on February 20th and the good news is there’s been no relapse of the scale inching up with higher weight readings.

This is a problem for many middle-aged men who embark on a fitness or weight-loss project.  They work their behinds off, achieve their goal and then relax, essentially going back to the old behavior that got them out of shape and overweight. 

Pierini Fitness has got to be honest; he’s slipped a time or two in his middle-aged man time zone and got what he deserved:  less than peak conditioning and the appearance of being a middle-aged man fat boy.  Read my lips, “Never again!”

He’s promised himself the way he’s now is the way he’ll be when they carry him out feet first.  His pall bearers are going to love him because his casket will be lighter.

What he’s learned from hanging out at a popular fitness discussion forum having a decent following of those who have lost weight (known as maintainers or being in maintenance) is that, for many, being in maintenance is more challenging than being in the zone of working off weight.  While Pierini Fitness has not experienced this challenge, he sees how it could be true.  Drop your guard and you’re more likely to get sucker punched.

Part of lasting success comes from changing his relationship with food to that of fuel for his body and lifestyle activities engine.  Fuel plus full (as in being full) equals food is what he now constantly reminds himself.  It’s not a drug of choice to deal with middle-aged man boredom, sooth his soul or his fragile emotional self; it has never really been to the best of his belief, but more of a means by which to practice being a glutton. 

This new paradigm of food is fuel helps him make better decisions about what he’ll eat or whether to eat.

He eats more when exercising more such as, for example, the once a week when he takes a 60-minute run.  That run burns about 700 calories, so he’ll ramp up his eating by about the same number of calories. 

Having worked his tail off for over six months to reclaim his middle-aged man lean and mean fighting weight, he doesn’t want to do it again because it’s too much hard work.  Therefore, he’s constantly on guard to protect the discipline built during his current fitness, health and wellness journey, looking for any behavior indicative of relapse that if not kept in check would easily send him back to eating more than what’s needed to fuel his body and lifestyle activities.

He doesn’t want to be known as an over-nourished middle-aged man, even if cardiovascular-conditioned and fit, who carries his fat well.

Pierini Fitness likes being lean and mean at around 170 lbs. dripping wet it’s easier to run and crank out pull-ups and bar dips than when he weighed a tenth of a ton.  

He also likes the way his 64-year young middle-aged man body looks more than a half dozen extra slices of pizza.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A great riddle to myself


Pierini Fitness is enjoying this time of year and this should be his case for the remainder of the year.  He has time to breathe and immerse himself in the pleasantries of daily living, not burdened or toiled by the demands of an overwhelming work schedule. That time has come and gone; thanks be to God.

There's time to be and not do, reflect and not decide, and smell the roses of life at its finest rather than the stench of a rat race behaving like a dozen pit bulls circling endlessly chasing their tails.

While the thrill of riding the giant roller coaster of work can be exhilarating when its commotion is in motion, there comes a time when the sereneness of being still, like a calm lake on a hot summer afternoon mirroring an image of the sun above, seems  more desired of the two.

These reflective “Kodak moments” are wonderful opportunities for Pierini Fitness getting to know himself better.  Blogging about whatever happens to be on my mind, middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully-aging and trying to live a good and honest life, is another venue of self-discovery.  

I wonder, though, after 64 years of self-discovery, is there anything else more to know about myself?  Or, is my self-discovery never-ending, like climbing a mountain taking one-half step at a time, only to discover that this half-step cadence means I’ll never arrive at my destination?

Is the more I know the less I know myself?  Is this also true for all middle-aged men around the world?  Is it possible, in our lifetimes, we’ll ever know who we are, our authentic and true selves?  

Are we destined to be, at best, a giant masquerade, wrapped in a veneer of external trappings – profession and possessions believed to be our joys and toys – wearing a costume with mask of a fictional character we’ve chosen when going about doing our doings in the world we live?  

Time will tell when the truth is eventually revealed which may not happen until the end of our lives on planet earth.  Until then, maybe we should chant, as St. Augustine wrote in his classic The Confessions of St. Augustine, “Thus I became a great riddle to myself.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, May 2, 2019

And I had plenty of them


As a young boy growing up, my favorite baseball team was the New York Yankees.  Why would a left coast boy like the Yankees and not be a San Francisco Giants like most other boys?  I don’t know. 

I did like the Giants too and have fond memories sitting on the floor at my grandmother’s house, in front of the radio, listening to Giants’ baseball games with Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges announcing the play-by-play.  I also remember listening to Armor Hot Dog radio commercials as they were a frequent sponsor during the game’s radio broadcast.  But the Yankees were my favorite young boy team. 

I remember watching the games on Saturday television with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling the play-by-play action.  I can still hear Dizzy Dean talking to Pee Wee Reese with his patented Arkansas-boy style of King’s English baseball talk.  So unique and grammatically-incorrect did Dizzy Dean talk that, apparently, the St. Louis Board of Education tried to yank him off the air and Major League Baseball Commissioner once said that Dear Dizzy’s diction was unfit for a national broadcast.

To this day, 55 years later, I still recall, with a razor-sharp memory, the starting lineup of the New York Yankees, circa early 1960’s.  There was Joe Pepitone at first base, Bobby Richardson at second base, Tony Kubek at short stop and Clete Boyer at third base.  In the outfield was Tom Tresh in left field, Micky Mantle in center field and, my favorite, Roger Maris in right field.

Catching was Elston Howard although an older Yogi Berra still got some behind-the-plate action.  Pitchers included Whitey Ford, Al Downing and Mell Stottlemyre.  There were a few others, but these are the pitchers I remember the most.

During my peak years as a young boy Yankees fan, all these talented players were under the leadership of team manager Ralph Houck, who was preceded by the great Casey Stengel.  I remember seeing old Casey in the background, but his manager days had passed by the time I showed up on the television viewing scene.  Of his many accomplishments, a professional baseball career spanning over half a century is perhaps his greatest claim to fame.

I happen to personally know Casey Stengel’s grand-niece who is keeping Casey Stengel front and center in the baseball nostalgia world.  She’s established the Casey Stengel Baseball Center to showcase her great-uncle’s dream and legacy.

As President of the Casey Stengel Baseball Center, the back of her business card is one of her great-uncle’s many sayings that rings loud and true for most middle-aged men who have lived a good and long life. 

It reads: “There comes a time in every man’s life, and I’ve had plenty of them.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, April 29, 2019

Next time, my time should be better


Over the weekend, I decided to see how fast I could run one mile.  It’s always been a revealing fitness conditioning benchmark for me.  Over the years, I’ve put good training effort into running longer, fasting and better.   

Now that I’m back on the running “circuit”, it makes sense to see what my current abilities are at this challenging distance and compare it to what I’ve done in the past. 

About a dozen years ago, I’d regularly test myself with a timed one-mile run.  I generally did these tests on a treadmill because that’s what I wanted to do. I liked the precision pace-management that treadmill running gave me and found that I was able to replicate treadmill running speed when hitting the pavement or at an all-weather track. 

Back in my olden running days, when running on a treadmill, I consistently clocked a 6:00 mile.  Since the treadmill I used maxed out at a 6:00 mile pace, it wasn’t possible to see if I could do better.  Maybe I could have by a little but probably not much. 
  
About five years ago, not in the same running condition as years earlier, I set a by-the-end-of-summer goal of running one mile in 6:00 and diligently trained with this goal in mind.   

My training journals from this era are nowhere to be conveniently retrieved but I recall my best effort being around 6:10 on the treadmill. During a final attempt on an all-weather track, one Saturday morning as summer was coming to an end, I ran a 6:17 mile and accepted that my best effort was short of the goal set months earlier.   Despite failing to achieve my goal, I was in better fitness condition than had I not made the effort.  All was well in Pierini Fitness middle-aged man land. 

Fast forward to Saturday, over the weekend, I ran a timed one-mile in 8:36. It was slower than the 8:00 mile pace that I reasonably thought was possible.  Looking at my heart rate statistics for this effort, I realize that my effort was sub-maximum so the next time, my time should be better.    

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum