Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another December 31st day at the gym

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

In a moment or archival curiosity, I pulled out my prior bricks and mortar training journals that I store in my office desk drawer. I’m a training journal pack rat.

My curiosity was how I had trained on December 31st in years’ past. My bricks and mortar training journals go back for 5 years. This is what I discovered:

12/31/2008 – morning bodyweight of 192.5 lbs.
Flexibility and warm up drills for 15 minutes.

Snatch warm up drills with the Olympic bar – eventually added some light plates.

Squat snatch singles progression completing 12 out of 16 rep attempts.

12/31/2007 – morning bodyweight of 191.5 lbs.
Elliptical trainer for 5 minutes.

Flexibility drills with a light pole.

Snatch drills and clean & jerk drills with the Olympic bar – eventually added some light plates.

Combo of barbell squats with 30-second standard grip pullup hang holds – 5 rounds.

Elliptical trainer for 15 minutes.

12/31/2006 –morning bodyweight of 180 lbs.
7:00 p.m. New Year Eve 2-mile fun run – completed in 13:22.

12/31/2005 – morning bodyweight of 182.0 lbs.
Saturday morning karate workout.

A couple hours later - handstand pushups – 6-5-4-3-2-1 - behind-the-neck wide-grip pullups – 6-5-4-3-2-1 - handstand pushups x 6 failing on rep 7 - standard-grip pullups x 12.

12/31/2004 – morning bodyweight of 177.0 lbs.
No workout - rest from previous day's workout which was a tough high-repetition bodyweight-only workout of pullups and bar dips.

This morning my bodyweight was 183.0 lbs. Proving that history does repeat itself, today will be another December 31st day at the gym.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Visit your local donut shop

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

A new California law effective January 1st will bar restaurants from cooking with trans fat. This new public health law is designed to crack down on the substance tied to clogged arteries, strokes and coronary heart disease.

Trans fat is the common name for unsaturated fat with trans-isomer fatty acids. Eating trans fat increases your risk of coronary heart disease by increasing your bad cholesterol (LDL) and decreasing your good cholesterol (HDL).

Trans fat is created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil in a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation enhances food flavor and increases its shelf life. It's found in baked goods, crackers, snack foods, fried foods and other items. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats are not essential and, therefore, do not promote good health.

Regular readers of Pierini Fitness may have read my list of my seven forbidden C foods – cakes, cookies, candies, chocolate, ice cream, chips and crackers - which, if avoided, will reduce unhealthy trans fat consumption.

Bakeries do not need to comply with these new law until January 2011. Therefore, if you need an outside the home daily fix of trans fat in your diet, visit your local donut shop.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Going backwards is not an option

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

So I’ve been practicing a little Christmas holiday gluttony this past couple weeks and am about five pounds heavier than my fighting bodyweight. I’m OK with this because I know that it will all come to an end for me on January 1st along with many other middle-age men and women fitness warriors and wannabes armed and loaded with their New Year diet, exercise and fitness resolutions.

What’s my game plan?

My current plan is to train three days a week and get back on the intermittent fasting lifestyle saddle Monday through Friday. I’ll eat squeaky clean and train hard for the first six weeks leading up to my birthday, and then take some photos for archival evidence of the fitness fruits of my training labor. Then, I’ll scale down the duration, frequency and intensity of my training until the middle of April due to the demands of my upcoming busy work season.

I’ll still train during my work crunch period because “something is better than nothing”.

While Father Nature continues to be my friend, there’s no time for fitness complacency for this middle-age man. I’ll train to keep what I have and hopefully march forward a step or two in my fitness journey because going backwards is not an option.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 28, 2009

Forgot that I knew that

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

A common theme I’ve expressed more than once with regard to fitness training is “something is better than nothing”. That is to say, during busy times when training time is hard to come by, rather than do nothing because you can’t do the whole darn great workout, do something because something is better than nothing.

Well this training mindset isn’t limited to those instances when time is scarce but also works great when you’re sporting an injury – you’re as in me.

I’m into extra innings with a nagging right shoulder injury that limits my ability to do overhead work like jerks, presses and snatches. Last Saturday, I finally got the bright idea that just because my right shoulder is bothering me and limiting overhead work, my left side is doing just fine, thank you. So I added left-handed kettlebell snatches for a 3-exercise circuit along with barbell squats and wide-grip behind-the-neck pullups.

Overall, it was a great workout and I finally got in some northern-orientation training with the one-handed kettlebell snatch work.

It brought back an old memory about a dozen years old when I once hurt my left hand crashing into a tree while snow sledding. My left hand hurt for almost two years and I had to concentrate using my left hand during karate training. I became much more proficient using my left side as a result of that long healing process.

Again, there’s nothing new under the sun. Move over Homer Simpson as I say "D'OH! - forgot that I knew that.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The last Sunday of 2009

Today is Sunday and, as usual, Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Visit tomorrow for another creative blogflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

Once again, Pierini Fitness is closed on the last Sunday of 2009.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What he ought to be

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Regular readers of Pierini Fitness know that last week at this time my wife and I were completing our last day of a 4-day silent marriage retreat in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a great experience. I encourage all married couples to invest a weekend and do something similar. Just as we devote energy and training to be physically fit, so should we devote similar energy and training to be “marriage fit”.

Each mealtime during our retreat, a priest read from a book titled “Christ in the Home” by Raoul Plus, S.J. while we ate our food in silence. This book was originally published in 1951 and the author was a Jesuit priest. I enjoyed the author’s clever way of expressing his thoughts about marriage, the home, and marriage training. The wit with which he used must have challenged the person who translated the book from French to English.

My wife and I both enjoyed these mealtime readings so much that we purchased the book and are currently reading it most evenings at home as part of our ongoing marriage fitness activities.

Something I read the other night really stuck with me and I think it applies to everything we set out to do well in our lives, be it our career, marriage, parenting, being a good son or daughter, and our fitness training. In the words of Father Plus, “ . . . everyone has the duty on his own responsibility to make himself what he ought to be.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 25, 2009

Good faith, fitness, fortune and health

This Christmas season, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ into our world, may we await Him in silent prayer, recognize Him in all we encounter, and welcome Him into the dwelling place of our heart.

To our family and friends, we wish you a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.

Along with our prayers for your good faith, fitness, fortune and health.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today on Christmas Eve

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

While waiting in line at Starbuck’s about one month ago, my wife caught sight of an Andrea Bocelli "My Christmas" CD for sale. She’s always been a big Andrea Bocelli fan and can listen to his music forever until I beg her to stop. I like his voice and the songs he sings too but just don’t have her endurance to listen to him for more 20 minutes at a sitting.

Listening to all the songs on this CD, the one I like the best is his trilingual rendition of the Christmas classic “O Tannenbaum”.

It’s a song resonating in my mind today on Christmas Eve.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ready to go to work

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Each of my four workouts during the week prior to leaving for last week’s silent marriage retreat with my wife included exercises that really worked my posterior chain muscles with lots of barbell squats and kettlebell swings.

After the last of these workouts, my lower back muscles were very fatigued so the timing was great for the fitness training rest awaiting them during the retreat.

The retreat began last Wednesday evening and ended Saturday evening. Besides the fitness training respite, it gave me a wonderful and overdue opportunity to catch up on my sleep. I averaged nine hours of nighttime sleep and one hour of afternoon nap time during my stay. I slept on a small bed with a low-quality mattress in a Spartan room separate from my wife as this silent retreat demanded that we devote lots of quiet time to reflect and meditate on the sanctity of our marriage after each conference we attended.

Put it all together – the workouts that placed a lot of demand on my posterior chain muscles + lots of sleeping time + a low-quality mattress = several days of lower back pain, spasms and stiffness that, thank God, have finally gone away now that I’ve returned to my normal environment.

Whenever lower back muscle discomforts strike – and it occasionally does with this middle-age man fitness warrior - I always return to an article in my fitness literature archives written by Dr. Stuart McGill. Dr. McGill is a university professor and a world renowned lecturer and expert in spine function and injury prevention and rehabilitation. Here’s an article written by him that includes photo illustrations for enhancing lower back health through stabilization exercise:

"Enhanging Lower Back Health Through Stabilization Exercise" by Doctor Stuart McGill

I’m back on the fitness saddle again with a lower back that feels great and ready to go to work.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And I am

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Yesterday afternoon I returned to my gym for a workout after a one week training rest almost to the hour. It felt good to give my body a week’s rest; it also felt equally good to put it back in fitness training action.

This week of rest and recovery gave me time to reflect on my training this year with so few days remaining before the start of a new calendar year. It’s been a year in which I’ve not done anything spectacular other than train with predictable regularity with sprinklings of both planned and unplanned rest and recovery respites.

It’s a year in which I didn’t set any new personal records however measured. I’m not lifting heavier loads than a year earlier, nor am I performing higher reps in sets of bodyweight exercises such as pushups and pullups. It’s a year in which I announced that I am a “retired runner”. It’s also a year in which my karate training has been frustratingly nonexistent.

Yet despite this lackluster performance, I still showed up, dressed up and trained with a regularity and variety indicative of a good training ethic. That’s probably what matters the most for middle-age fitness warriors like me.

Between now and the end of the year, it’s fair to say that my fitness training will not be much different than it has been thus far this year. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll hit a homerun, score a touchdown, make a “three pointer”, score a knockout or pin my opponent.

I’m OK with that and am grateful that, despite here and there middle-age man aches and pains, I’m still playing the fitness game to the best of my abilities. I can run up a flight of stairs without being winded at the top and bend over to tie my shoes without throwing out my back or ripping the seat of my pants.

In my fitness world, there’s much to be grateful for and I am.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 21, 2009

A condescending middle-age man jerk!

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Recent Pierini Fitness blogflections have not have a fitness theme. I promise to rectify that soon but, until then, today’s is another non-fitness one.

According to new research conducted at The University of Texas at Austin, people who use online social networks such as Facebook tend to express their real personality instead of an idealized virtual identify.

Research psychologist Sam Gosling commented, ". . . our findings suggest that online social networking profiles convey rather accurate images of the profile owners, either because people aren't trying to look good or because they are trying and failing to pull it off.”

While blogger behavior was not the subject of this research project, I would assume that the same would be true.

That means that despite my best effort, I can’t fool anyone that I’m just a condescending middle-age man jerk!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, December 20, 2009

As I break my silence fast

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Today is Sunday and Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can take another day of rest for his body, mind and spirit. Today, my wife and I are flying home from Phoenix, Arizona where we have spent the last four days attending a silent marriage retreat. Just like good fitness, health and wellness requires regular training effort, so does marriage fitness.

Visit Pierini Fitness tomorrow for another creative blogflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

I’m probably going to spend some time talking and shouting like the town crier as I break my silence fast.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Benevolent and selfless giving

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

One year ago today, the daily Pierini Fitness blogflection was about my planned attempt to deliver a dozen random acts of kindness during the Christmas season. A recent event that a friend of my wife shared with her challenged me to think big when contemplating random acts of kindness.

This friend of my wife has a young adult son about 30 years of age who had a respectable job as an engineer making about $80,000 a year. His employer had financial difficulty and recently announced that some employees would be losing their jobs as layoffs were right around the corner. Fortunately, this young man was not among those scheduled to receive a layoff notice, but one unfortunate recipient was this older and middle-age engineer, the sole breadwinner for his wife and dependent children.

When the younger – and single - engineer learned of his co-worker’s ensuing plight, he asked his employer to instead give the “pink slip” notice to him so his co-worker – the older engineer with family and greater financial obligations – could keep his job. That’s exactly what the employer did in honoring the young man’s request.

This young, and now unemployed, man shared with his mom that his action seemed like the right thing for him to do. Obviously he’s a very brave and confident person and I’m sure that abundant opportunities await him.

With Christmas Day a mere 6 days away, today is as good a time as any to challenge myself with a commitment to deliver another dozen random acts of kindness – that’s two per day – regardless of whatever else charitable I’ve done thus far this year. I’m grateful to learn of this young man’s random act of kindness and the favor he has done me by raising the bar of benevolent and selfless giving.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 18, 2009

Catholics coming home

Photo to the left is inside the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican during an April 2007 trip to Italy by the chief executive blogger of Pierini Fitness and his wife.

Regular readers of Pierini Fitness sooner or later have learned that I’m a “card-carrying” and proud Roman Catholic. It’s not easy being a Catholic, both in following my faith and in listening to the occasional mean-spirited comments that people sometimes say about the Catholic Church and Catholic priests. Today I'm especially proud to be a Catholic in my Diocese of Sacramento.

Beginning today, the Diocese of Sacramento will begin airing thousands of prime-time television commercials in English and Spanish on network and cable stations inviting inactive Catholics to return to the Catholic Church. The advertising campaign, called “Catholics Come Home” will take place during Advent and include three different commercials that will air more than 5,200 times.

The ads present Catholicism from different perspectives. One offers a historical view, enumerating the church’s accomplishments and noting that the Catholic Church is the largest charitable organization on the planet. Another ad depicts people at the ends of their lives, viewing a home movie of their behavior over a lifetime, regretting the harm they’ve done to others and wishing they could change their life stories. The briefest ad simply presents the comments of Catholics who have returned to the practice of their faith.

Here’s one of the commercials:

In addition to doing my best during the Christmas season to eat healthy and exercise, I’ll also be doing my best reaching out to Catholics coming home.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 17, 2009

8 days to go until Christmas Day

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

If the national economy is waiting to be stimulated with my Christmas shopping purchases then it’s in trouble because I haven’t spent one dime yet on Christmas gifts. I’ve never been a big holiday season shopper and this year will be no different.

Quite frankly, I don’t enjoy shopping like some people do. I shop only when absolutely necessary rather than for its pure joy like my wife. When I must shop, I do so fast to get it over with as quickly as possible. My last shopping expedition was a few weeks ago when I purchased a pair of Vibram FiveFinger athletic shoes. That transaction took less than 10 minutes from the time I entered the store until I walked out wearing my new shoes.

I do have yesteryear memories of Christmas Eve shopping along with other men shopping procrastinators. We all had that same lost soul look on our faces like a thirsty nomad in the hot desert looking for a stream of water nowhere to be found.

Life is simpler now because my wife is my proxy shopper for what little Christmas shopping needs I have. It's not that I'm a Christmas grouch or scrooge but I've got better things to do with my time today with 8 days to go until Christmas Day.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The green, green grass of home

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to return to the home where we lived for 16 years from 1989 to 2005. It’s a simple home on 5 acres located in a rural area about 30 minutes from where my wife and I currently reside. We still own this home and my recent trips there have been to get it ready to rent to new tenants.

The time I’ve recently spent there has rekindled so many pleasant memories of parenthood because that’s where our now adult children spent most of their years growing up and leaving home. There are memories of my daughter and her horse and my son and his pigs when they were knee deep in their rural experiences.

There are also memories of those tranquil nights with dark skies full of bright stars with a symphony of country animals communicating to each other on a hot summer night. It’s all a far cry from the noise of the city in the eclectic neighborhood where my wife and I currently reside.

This classic song by the legendary artist Tom Jones best expresses all the recent feelings and thoughts touching my heart and floating in my mind when visiting our home on Arroyo Vista Way:

I’m very content living in my current home and neighborhood - a stone's throw from downtown Sacramento and the State Capitol - but my wife frequently expresses a desire to return back to this home. Maybe one day we will both return to the green, green grass of home.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Relapse prevention

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Years ago I had – in hindsight - the wonderful opportunity to participate in an alcohol and addiction program to support a relative who was suffering from drug addiction. This year-long program included weekly family sessions for relatives. During these weekly family nights, we listened to lectures, viewed instructional videos and participated in group discussions with other family members and the alcoholics and addicts.

Something I learned that year was “relapse". Previously I had understood relapse to be – in the case of the alcoholic or addict - the taking of their drug of choice be it alcohol or whatever. What I eventually learned, however, is that relapse is not the specific act by the alcoholic or addict of abandoning their abstinence and sobriety but all the thoughts and behaviors leading to that abandonment - much like the erratic behaviors of animals before a natural disaster such as an earthquake or severe weather storm.

What I also learned is the necessity for an alcoholic or addict to have and work a relapse prevention program. Release prevention is a strategy to train alcohol and other drug abusers to cope more effectively and to overcome the stressors or triggers in their environments that make them want to abandon their sober lifestyle and abstinence.

Alcoholism and drug addiction, when left untreated or poorly treated, are typified by chronic relapse. Therefore, the prevention of relapse is a critical part of any effective treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

A pioneer in relapse prevention is Terrence Gorski, an internationally recognized expert on substance abuse, mental health, violence and crime. Mr. Gorski’s relapse prevention principles include self-regulation and stabilization, integration of self-assessment, and understanding and relapse education. Each of these could be a separate relapse prevention discussion but that is beyond the scope of today’s blogflection. What’s most important is to understand that – for the alcoholic and addict – relapse is inevitable if one takes no steps to prevent it.

What does all this have to do with fitness, health and wellness? I’m glad you asked.

You see, just like the alcoholic or addict who has to fight and struggle for his or her abstinence and sobriety, so too do many of us with our diet, exercise, fitness, health and wellness.

As we begin a new calendar year in about two weeks, many of us have our minds on New Year resolutions and some may be based on diet, exercise, fitness, health and wellness. As we examine how to improve our lives in these areas, we may be well-served by gaining a better understanding of the principles of relapse prevention.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 14, 2009

We will all do it together

Pierini Fitness is blessed to have Mr. Jim Fritzsche as today’s middle-age man guest blogger. Jim is a 53-year young fitness dude friend of the chief executive blogger, and a self-employed CPA in the real world. Jim keeps fit with triathlon training. He lives in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove with his wife, two sons and a pet frog. What follows is Jim's guest middle-age man blogflection.

I was browsing the cable TV lineup recently and came across the Moody Blues live in concert. No sooner did I tune in than Justin Hayward and John Lodge ripped into the opening chords of “Ride My See-Saw”. That song brought back some memories and provided some thoughts for this blogflection.

Growing up, my six brothers and sisters and I had lots of cool toys, but none more popular than the see-saw that sat on the edge of the yard by the basketball court. My Dad had fashioned it out of a long plank (naturally) and some galvanized pipe fittings. I still remember the neighbor kids coming by and loading it up - we could fit 10-12 kids on it at one time. Up and down we went, over and over, day after day. We even would have contests shooting baskets while balancing on the middle of the tippy plank.

When “Ride My See-Saw” came out in the late sixties I was about twelve and thought the Moody’s must be writing about the contraption in my backyard. When I heard the song years later I understood that they were really singing about the ups and downs of life. The Moody Blues have ups and downs? With all their success, fame and fortune, how could that be? But it must be true for I hear them singing and inviting me to “run, run my last race, take my place, it’s for free”.

There are times these days I feel like leaving that race and its load of responsibility behind. Wouldn’t it just be easier if I didn’t have a family to support, clients to attend to, friends to keep in touch with. Maybe I could just curl up with some nice books on a far mountain top somewhere - leaving the cares of the world behind. Some people fantasize about winning the lottery - I fantasize about leaving it all behind. I’m afraid both are equally improbable of happening.

After I go through this occasional exercise, I see clearly that there is no escaping the ups and downs in this brief life of ours. Whether on a mountain top or in a fertile valley, we will continue to experience sadness and joy, failure and success, sickness and health. The rich and famous have their ups and downs, just as do the poor and all the rest of humanity. It’s part of our human condition.

I suppose then we shouldn’t fight our two-faced life, but embrace it. Instead of inviting others to “take my place” on the see-saw, perhaps we should be like those neighbor kids of my youth and invite them on board to ride along with us. We will all have our ups and we will all have our downs, but we will all do it together.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Your morning cup of coffee

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Today is Sunday and, as usual, Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Why does a Sunday afternoon nap sound so good right now?

Here's my best wishes that today is restful for you too.

Visit Pierini Fitness tomorrow for another creative and original blogflection guaranteed to be as good as your morning cup of coffee.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I can, I shall, and I will do

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

They are a dime a dozen, those “coulda shoulda woulda” people who find comfort in their misery by spending excessive time thinking and talking about what they could have, should have or would have done in their past.

There’s nothing wrong taking a lesson from the failure history books of our lives, particularly to the extent that it motivates us to develop success-oriented action plans for the future. We should not dwell there excessively, however, stuck in our stinking thinking like a pickup truck stuck in mud in the middle of a farm orchard after a winter storm. It serves no moving-forward benevolent good and only keeps us stuck in our failure and misery.

This misery that we allow to radiate not only burns within us but oftentimes is within the auditory reach of others who may look to us for comfort, inspiration and wisdom with the challenges they face in their own lives.

This is also true with our fitness, health and wellness shortcomings. For all those who didn’t give their very best effort to this important part of life in the past, there’s always an opportunity starting today to begin a best effort journey; or for the procrastinator, with a New Year resolution for 2010 just around the corner.

Join me each morning, starting today, while looking at ourselves in the mirror during our morning shaves as we chant the empowering affirmation of “I can, I shall, and I will do”.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thanks a million Mr. Gruntbrain!

My older cyberspace fitness brother from a different mother who goes by the alias “Gruntbrain” recently mailed me one of his clever exercise gadgets that he made in his DIY (do-it-yourself) manufacturing facility. I call it the Gruntbrain Pocket-sized Total Gym.

It’s a simple gadget consisting of a webbing chain that you pass over a closed door or post to anchor a pair of “poor man gymnastic rings". I recently gave it a one-minute test drive in my office while at work and performed some non-structured assisted squat/rowing combinations and other random stuff.

Here’s a short video demonstration:

Gruntbrain tells me that I can also face the other direction and perform arm-assisted lunges with or without a pushup. I’ll give that combo a try once my injured right shoulder muscle completely heals.

Christmas came early this year at Pierini Fitness when my Gruntbrain Pocket-sized Total Gym arrived in the mail.

Are you too busy to exercise? No you are not if you have at least one minute to spare. I recommend one minute on the hour every hour while at work with the Gruntbrain Pocket-sized Total Gym for total fitness.

Thanks a million Mr. Gruntbrain!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This nothing stuff I had been doing

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Yesterday I made it to my gym after work in the mid-afternoon. It was another easy workout as I continue to be limited with what I can do due to a reinjured right shoulder muscle.

Studying my training journal before beginning my workout – something I normally do – revealed the following entries for the past seven days:

Thursday – December 3rd – Nothing – sore.

Friday – December 4th – Rest – hamstrings very sore – shoulder hurts.

Saturday – December 5th – Nothing.

Sunday – December 6th – Nothing.

Monday – December 7th – Finally! A “something is better than nothing” workout. I attended a group Pilates class with my wife and, afterwards, made a short stop at the weight room and quickly did the following: a warm-up of back squats with 45lbs. x 10 reps - back squats with 135lbs. x 10 reps followed by standard grip pull-ups x 10 reps – a short rest - front squats with 135lbs. x10 reps followed by standard grip chin-ups x 10 reps. All squats were full-range with a rock bottom depth and a controlled pause at the bottom before returning to the start position. That was it!

Tuesday - December 8th – Nothing.

Yesterday’s workout consisted of more pull-ups and chin-ups in combination with barbell back squats and front squats. I concluded it with some kettlebell swings. All loads chosen and reps completed were sub-maximal effort. Call it a maintenance workout at best.

But it did feel good knowing that I put an end to this nothing stuff I had been doing.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spiritual exercise

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

One week from today, my wife and I will travel to Phoenix, Arizona to attend a 4-day Catholic Ignatian method marriage retreat at the Society of St. Pius X Our Lady of Sorrows Retreat Center.

An Ignatian retreat consists of a series of spiritual conferences, structured meditations and an opportunity to make a general confession. Silence is kept throughout the retreat, although retreat participants have the opportunity to speak with a priest for spiritual advice. In the true spirit of silence, spouses sleep in separate rooms.

A visit to the Society of St. Pius X’s website had this explanation of the history of the Ignatian Retreat:

The word "retreat" in its etymological meaning signifies a withdrawal. In Catholic parlance then, a retreat means a withdrawal from secular things in order to go to the supernatural, to leave the temporal in order to find the eternal, to sacrifice the human in order to obtain the divine. The whole of human history testifies to the fact that whenever God wished to make use of a man as a chosen instrument, that man had to "retreat" from the world and from his former mode of life, find God and become docile to his inspirations through this withdrawal and the inevitable asceticism or spiritual exercise this inevitably entailed. Such was the case of Abraham, who had to leave the "house of his father and his kindred." Such was true too of Moses, who was tempered by God in forty years of shepherding in the desert. It was true of the Apostles, who withdrew to the upper room for 8 days under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This too was true of the Desert Fathers, the men who taught in word and example the essentials of Catholic spirituality. It was true of St. Benedict, St. Anthony of Padua and all others. A spiritual retreat of one kind or another always preceded the manifestations of grace in the servants of God.

The Retreat in the more formal sense of a place whither Christians hasten in order to spend a certain number of days in silence and spiritual exercises according to a set plan began with the monastic life. Men desirous to follow Christ by practicing the evangelical counsels left the world to enter monasteries where they labored in spiritual exercises. When monasteries were established and dotted the countryside of Europe, the Catholic laity would visit them for a brief period to consult with a holy monk, to follow prayers, meditations and holy reading.

Next week I think I’m going to be challenged with 4 days of spiritual exercise.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You may be tired of oatmeal but I'm not

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

A character named IronMan, a cyberspace fitness brother from a different mother at a fitness forum website where we both formerly served as administrators, wrote a short article almost two years ago about one of his favorite breakfast meals – oatmeal.

I haven’t eaten a lot of oatmeal this year but have resurrected it for breakfast a couple times in the past month with more scheduled servings right around the corner.

Therefore, I’ve decided to copy and paste an excerpt of his oatmeal article, including his oatmeal recipe. Here it is so please enjoy!

IronMan’s Oatmeal Recipe

"The title says it all. I’ve been eating oatmeal everyday for the past 4 years and I’m getting tired of its taste and texture.

Fortunately I’ve stumbled upon a fairly simple solution to my problem. It is a breakfast that is full of oatmeal’s goodness as well as being packed with protein and even some Omega 3’s if I so choose. Best of all the texture is great and this new way of processing oatmeal means I can prepare it a week in advance, pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds, and breakfast is ready to eat. Yum-Oh! (Sorry Rachel Ray, your words are contagious!)

The basic recipe is as follows:

One and one half cup of oatmeal

One and one half cup of egg substitute

1. Combine both in a blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.

2. Preheat a small non-stick pan that has a spritz of Pam.

3. Pour a little more than ½ cup of mixture into hot pan. This size will give a pancake that is easy to flip and should yield 4 pancakes.

4. When the edges start to firm up and take shape it is time to flip the pancake. If there is no added fat or sugar in the mixture then the pancakes will not brown easily. I usually go by feel to tell if they are done. When the center loses its “springiness” the pancakes is ready to be pulled from the heat and placed on a wire rack to cool.

5. To save for breakfast at a later date, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge. When ready to eat, place on a plate, nuke for 30 seconds, and enjoy!

There you have a basic recipe that will yield a pancake that has approximately 160 calories with 13 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbs, and less than 3 grams of fat. But, the best part is the ingredients you can add while cooking!

Need a bit more fat? Add a couple of whole eggs (which are very good for you, especially the Omega 3 eggs) and reduce the egg substitute mixture by the same amount. This not only adds some necessary fats but does make the pancakes brown a bit easier. Walnuts, almonds, pecans are great chopped and placed in the pan first. The nuts add a great flavor and crunch while boosting nutrition. You can even add some flax seeds for the same type of nutritive boost.

Prefer some sweetness? This recipe is so neutral in flavor that you can spread a scant teaspoon of your favorite jam or jelly on top and the sweet, fruity goodness of the spread is just waiting for your taste buds! This also works well with peanut butter – or my favorite – Nutella. Using such small servings help keep the calorie count low while getting the most out of your chosen flavors.

You can even add a tablespoon or two of syrup to the mixture before cooking. It will permeate through the pancake and add more depth to it. Again, adding sugar will help with browning too. Any flavor will work - real maple syrup, blueberry, boysenberry, strawberry, and whatever flavor you can find in the store.

Can you add fresh fruit while cooking just like you could with a regular pancake? Absolutely. The only thing I’ve found is I prefer to eat them fresh. I’ve kept them in the fridge for three days with fruit added and did not notice any degradation of flavors or textures, but I just think this style of cooking lends itself to freshness. But is no reason not to top them with fresh fruit!

Well, there you have it. A new, quick and easy, make ahead breakfast anyone can enjoy. Loaded with nature’s perfect protein (the egg) and her powerhouse carbohydrate – oatmeal!"

IronMan, thank you so much for this recipe. I hope all is well with you and your family. You may be tired of oatmeal but I’m not.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, December 7, 2009

Like December 7th

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

While most people of this generation will always remember the horrific events of September 11, 2001, my generation will always remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. For my parent’s generation, most people still vividly remember the attack on Pearl Harbor 68 years ago to this day on December 7, 1941.

Some dates are forever etched in memory stone like December 7th.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Today is Sunday and Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Visit tomorrow for another creative blogflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

Until then, enjoy this yesteryear Christmas song that your parents or grandparents probably listened to a long time ago.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Diet and fitness affirmations from A to Z

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

With a new year around the corner, many middle-age men and women will make New Year resolutions to get eat healthier, get fitter and lose unwanted bodyweight. It happens at the start of every new year as evidenced by crowded gyms bulging at the seams with new members who join, begin an honest effort to exercise and eat healthy, only to lose their enthusiasm a couple weeks later or a month at most.

To guide these poor souls, the chief executive blogger of Pierini Fitness has come up with this alphabet-based compendium of diet and fitness training affirmations. If you'd like a PDF version of this, send me an e-mail request at Enjoy!

A – Always train a little on scheduled fitness training days. Don’t let your efforts be sabotaged by an “all or nothing” mentality because something is better than nothing.

B – Be on guard for family and friends who do not share your diet and fitness zeal as their misguided charitable offers laden with possibly envy can sabotage your efforts.

C – Chance is not how diet and fitness improvements are made so make sure you have a written plan to guide your daily efforts.

D – Don’t eat unless you are hungry. Break old habits of eating because the clock says it is a certain time or food is offered to you when you aren’t hungry. Don’t be afraid to say “no thank you”.

E – Eat your food slowly and make sure you “milkshakefy” it. What’s that mean? Read The Pierini DIET, an easy-read PDF book I’ve written.

F – Fuel your body with real food that will support the demands of your fitness training and aid in post-training recovery.

G – Go for a brisk walk as an alternative to watching television or spending time on the computer. You can always do that after you’ve taken that brisk walk.

H – Have fun chasing your diet and fitness goals and you’ll increase the likelihood of success.

I – Intensity is your time-efficient friend so make sure that your cardio sessions are short and intense rather than long, slow and steady. You should be breathless at the end of your cardio training.

J – Jump if you can now and then in your training. It’s a great way to make sure your cardio sessions are short and intense.

K – Kill all negative thoughts that periodically enter your mind that you can’t achieve your diet and fitness goals. Find something else to be a failure about.

L – Lift heavy weights at least once, and preferably, twice a week following a progressive resistance training program. Use good form and seek out instruction to make sure you perform the lifts correctly.

M – Monitor your bodyweight, diet and fitness training efforts by maintaining a journal. Weigh yourself daily and record details of your workout in your journal. Depending on your dietary discipline, consider using a daily food journal to help create awareness of what you are eating and to foster rigorous honesty.

N – Never tell yourself that you can’t do it because you can – if you want it bad enough.

O – Opportunities to eat healthy and exercise are always present, even when you are away on a business trip or vacation. Be creative and so something. Don’t worry about people looking at you – let them.

P – Pushups, pullups and other bodyweight-only exercises should be part of your fitness training program because fitness training variety is the results-producing spice of life.

Q – Question all that you read and are told about diet and fitness from the “experts". Follow the money and make sure that their advice passes the “smell test”.

R – Rest and recovery are your friends after a hard fitness training session. Train hard and then make sure that you have a quality rest and recovery program on non-training days.

S – Sitting is something you do when eating, visiting with friends and working if you “sit for a living”. Insofar as your fitness training goes, don’t lay when you can sit but don’t sit when you can stand when exercising.

T – Timed workouts are great particularly during short and intense cardio sessions. Use a stop watch occasionally and time your efforts to measure your fitness improvement.

U – Umbrellas can be used to take a brisk walk on a rainy day that you might talk yourself out of doing because it’s raining. Make sure you have one in you fitness training tool box.

V – Victims of crimes sometimes put themselves in harm’s way. Don’t be a victim of diet and fitness failure crime by putting yourself in harm’s way with environments and people that are not safe for you.

W – Warm-up your body with flexibility drills and gradually elevate your heart rate before beginning the tough part of your fitness training.

X – X-treme and unrealistic diet and fitness goals should not be what you are chasing. Reasonably demanding and achievable goals will serve you better.

Y – Yearn for the day when you are one day closer to achieving your diet and fitness goals for that is today.

Z – Zeal will serve you well in your lifelong diet and fitness journey. Make sure you are always carrying some with you.

There you have it folks – your diet and fitness affirmations from A to Z

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, December 4, 2009

Variety is the spice of life

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Earlier this year while my wife and I attended a pro-life contemplative retreat in Mexico City, Pierini Fitness was graced with the cyberspace presence of 5 guest middle-age man bloggers who delivered substitute creative and original blogflections during the last week of April. It was fun to recruit them and publish their blogflections. Each one was a great read with fresh perspectives from a different point of view.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that it’s a good idea to have some guest bloggers contribute again so this is a first call invitation to all middle-age men and women from around the world to consider serving as a guest blogger for a day at Pierini Fitness.

Who is a middle-age man? Well it depends on who you ask. At Pierini Fitness, a middle-age man is someone age 45 years to 69 years.

Are middle-age women eligible to contribute? You betcha! Thus far, Pierini Fitness has not been successful in recruiting a guest middle-age woman blogger but maybe this time will be different.

Flaunt your wisdom and share your reflections about the way life was, the way life is and the way life should be from a middle-age person perspective. Send me an e-mail at if you are interested.

It would be great to have at least 5 guest bloggers this month because variety is the spice of life.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Training date with my wife

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Last Saturday I attended my first Pilates class at the gym where I train. I joined my wife who has been going to these classes for about one month. I’m entitled to two Pilates classes per week without charge as part of my basic gym membership privileges.

Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates in Germany. Pilates training focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which are essential to providing spine support. Pilate exercises emphasize breath awareness, spine alignment and aim to strengthen the deep torso muscles.

The original Pilates repertoire consisted of 34 exercises done on the floor on a padded mat. Eventually, Mr. Pilates invented equipment for use with Pilates training, including the Reformer that I used during my introductory session. The Reformer consists of a carriage, in a rectangular wooden platform, connected to springs along with pulleys and ropes that are attached to the frame.

A person using the Reformer uses their own resistance in addition to the resistance provided by the machine’s springs. Essentially, the Reformer looks like a platform bed with resistance cords at the end. Pilates’ exercises performed on the Reformer are resistance training because the Reformer’s springs provide additional resistance. Using these springs creates progressive resistance because the resistance increases as the springs are stretched.

My initial impression is that I like Pilates training as a supplement to my current training methods but not exclusively as my wife is currently doing. Therefore, once a week I’ll be going on a Pilates’ training date with my wife.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

May not be able to save them

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes mellitus (commonly referred to as diabetes) is a condition characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from the body's inability to use blood glucose for energy. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer makes insulin and therefore blood glucose cannot enter the cells to be used for energy. In Type 2 diabetes, either the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body is unable to use insulin correctly.

If researchers are correct, diabetes is a word that will be used more often in the future to describe a condition that afflicts our friends, family members and, perhaps, us. An article published in the December 2009 issue of Diabetes Care included a startling conclusion that the diabetes population and the related costs are expected to at least double in the next 25 years.

Diabetes Care is published by the American Diabetes Association for the health care practitioner that is intended to increase knowledge, stimulate research, and promote better management of people with diabetes.

Specifically, the researchers who wrote the article state that, between 2009 and 2034, the number of people with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes will increase from 23.7 million to 44.1 million, and that approximately 65 percent of individuals of the population will be overweight or obese.

During the same period, annual diabetes-related spending is expected to increase from $113 billion to $336 billion (2007 dollars). For the Medicare-eligible population, the diabetes population is expected to rise from 8.2 million in 2009 to 14.6 million in 2034; associated spending is estimated to rise from $45 billion to $171 billion.

It’s well known that we can stay healthier longer and reduce our risk of diabetes through a healthy lifestyle such as changing our diet, increasing our level of physical activity, and maintaining a healthy bodyweight.

What surprised me while reading an abstract of this article was a sentence in the authors’ conclusion that "without significant changes in public or private strategies, this population and cost growth are expected to add a significant strain to an overburdened health care system. "

Well that may be a true statement but I would have written it differently. "Without significant changes by individuals to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy bodyweight through diet and exercise, an overburdened health care system may not be able to save them."

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Adios Tony

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Last Friday my wife and I hosted a good-bye celebration at our home for a young man we know who is leaving Sacramento for new opportunities elsewhere. Originally from Mexico, he moved to Sacramento about four years ago and, most recently, worked as an accountant for the State of California.

Tony became our surrogate second son and my wife and I became his spiritual mother and father. We did lots of things together and, like a good son, he regularly sought our counsel to guide him in doing the right things in his journey of life. We had the opportunity to meet his mother and father and siblings during our trip to Mexico City earlier this year. They were very grateful that we were keeping an eye on their Tony.

Early this morning, Tony departed Sacramento for San Antonio, Texas to temporarily reside with his sister who lives there. He may then find his way to Maryland but promises us, actually himself, that he’ll soon be back to Sacramento. Whether he does or not, one thing is certain and that is he will always be our spiritual son.

Here’s a short video I made for Tony and as a pleasant memory for me:

Adios Tony.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, November 30, 2009

Because I like them

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

I’ve read several reviews the past couple months about the Vibram Five Fingers athletic shoes (maybe “feet gloves” is a more descriptive term). Just about every review I read was favorable, including the one written by Justin, my cyberspace fitness son just for fun, at his blog here: Justin's review of the Vibram FiveFingers at The Bodyweight Files.

About one week ago I sought out and found a store near my office that sold these athletic feet gloves. It took me longer to find the store as I approached the area where it is located than it did for me to try on a pair and make a “business decision” to buy them. While I didn’t time myself, I’m guessing that the elapsed time of walking into the store empty handed and walking out the door wearing my new Vibram FiveFingers KSO was a whopping ten minutes.

I joined the "off the beaten path athlete crowd" and bought a pair because I like them.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Sunday 2009

Today is Sunday and, as usual, Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit.

Today is also Advent Sunday 2009. Last year about this time, here's a blogflection where I wrote about Advent Sunday.

Enjoy your Advent Sunday 2009.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Exercise with Mr. Titan

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

A cyberspace fitness sister from a different mister recently asked the question on an internet fitness forum if anyone remembered exercising with Mr. Titan. I was the only person who replied yes.

The Mighty Mr. Titan was a 1965 short-lived syndicated cartoon series consisting of 3½ minute cartoons that promoted physical fitness. The series featured exercises demonstrated by the cartoon character known as Mr. Titan. Kids watching the cartoon were encouraged to exercise along with Mr. Titan and, as a 10-year young boy, I was one of them.

Here's a sample of Mr. Titan in action demonstrating a real world exercise:

Here’s another one:

Thanks for the trip down memory lane Donna. I’m cutting short today’s Pierini Fitness blogflection because I’m off to go exercise with Mr. Titan.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, November 27, 2009

A retired runner

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Yesterday was the Run to Feed The Hungry, an annual Thanksgiving Day fun-run in Sacramento that attracted about 28,500 runner and walker participants. It’s a very popular early Thanksgiving Day activity and a major fundraising event for a local charitable organization that feeds the homeless offering both a 5k and 10k distance for runners and walkers of all abilities.

I participated in this fun run for several consecutive years and always trained hard for it and ran my guts out on race day. Every year was always about me trying to outperform my previous year’s effort. Some years I did and other years I came up short, but my effort was always my very best.

But now I am an official “retired runner”, a status that I’ve come to grips with despite many years where running was a significant and enjoyable component of my fitness training. Cardio fitness training is now accomplished by other activities, several of which I’ve written about in past Pierini Fitness blogflections.

It’s one of several fitness rites of passage I’ve gone through as I bask in the sunshine of my middle-age manhood. Been there and done it. Check it off. Chasing other fitness pursuits and having fun at it. Call it what you want. That’s what I do. Yup, my name is Pierini and I am a retired runner.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, November 26, 2009

No turkey on Thanksgiving Day

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

On behalf of Pierini Fitness, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving today and that you enjoy your day however you spend it. If you are like many Americans, it will center on a mega-meal consisting of baked or roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sweet corn, other fall vegetables and pumpkin pie.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of the traditional Thanksgiving Day cuisine. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve eaten my fair share of traditional Thanksgiving Day meals, but mental images of a plate of that food doesn’t make my mouth water even with a belly crying hunger.

In the path that I’ve traveled, there’s been a time or two when my Thanksgiving Day meal consisted of something other than the standard turkey-centered buffet. One time was Thanksgiving Day 2001 when my wife and I exchanged hello greetings with a couple from New York City as we strolled along a street in Fatima, Portugal. A short conversation with this couple followed and ended when they wished us a “Happy Thanksgiving”.

At that moment, my wife and I realized we weren’t mindful of the day it was and that, for us, there would be no turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eat our age and not our appetite

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Here's a rerun from last year that's good food for thought as the holiday eating season begins with tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day mega-meal.

Holiday gluttony

It's a safe reminder for us middle-age men to remember to eat our age and not our appetite.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My little white whiskers

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Early in my blogging “career” I wrote about my little gray whiskers to keep me in check from my predisposition of seeing a 16-year old kid when looking in the mirror.

Guess what, for a limited time only, as the above photo indicates, they are back!

Soon I'll need to call them call them "my little white whiskers".

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum