Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just the way you are

What is a healthy body image? Do you think you have one or might you have a body image disorder? These are tough questions that require rigorous honesty to get truthful answers buried deep in our middle-age man minds closely guarded by a fortress of denial. Well, maybe not for all of us but many for sure.

It’s easy to blame the media, perhaps, for this body image disorder but that doesn’t address the underlying reasons that may have their origin in something more significant than the television programs we watch or the advertisements we read on the internet or in magazines and newspapers.

In one of my earliest and favorite Pierini Fitness blogflections, I wrote that every man who looks in the mirror sees a 16 year old. If I took myself seriously, this would definitely be a king size example of body image disorder. If you missed this classic Pierini Fitness blogflection, you can read it here:

Every man who looks in the mirror sees a 16 year old kid

What about something a little more real and serious?

One of my cyberspace fitness brothers from a different mother recently acknowledged on a fitness forum that he may have a body image disorder. He’s a fit and strong person with a physique that reflects the training dues he has paid. He is at the tail end of young manhood, a couple of years from entering the great period of middle-age manhood. In an exchange of e-mail chat, he shared the following with me:

"I have unhealthy image of my body. I am constantly evaluating and JUDGING how I look or worry how I will be perceived by others. In fact, when I look in the mirror I still see a 16 year old skinny kid who desperately is trying to get bigger. That's the inner child in me screaming for acceptance and positive feedback; something obviously I really didn't get growing up and now it has surfaced in my body image. In my desperate attempts to gain weight, I remember downing gallons of whole milk and Matt's chocolate chip cookies daily. The tighter my shirts or jeans felt the better I felt about myself. The power of feeling "big" gave a gigantic surge of self-confidence and increased my self-esteem.

If someone said, "Mark, are you losing weight?” it would send me into an eating binge so I could hear, "Mark, you look bigger". I dreaded being sick because that meant I couldn't eat and thus would lose weight. I still dread being sick to this day for the same reason. The gallons of milk and boxes of cookies eventually gave me lactose intolerance and a 38 inch waistline. But, I didn't care because I was big. I was powerful. I didn't feel like a child anymore. I was, and still am somewhat, a grown man living in a child's view of the world.

As a child we are constantly seeking positive feedback and approval from the adults around us. Some of us carry this natural attitude into our adult life. We are always thinking about how others view us or whether we are liked. How does this relate to body image? If our inner child is not healed, it will cry for attention and demand approval. It lives in a world of self-centerism. It’s all about me. How am I looking? Do you envy the way I look? Why aren't you complimenting me on my physique? Somehow I have to heal my inner child of the lack of acceptance and approval I didn't receive which has now surfaced in how I view my body and my unhealthy, obsession with feeling "like a grown-up". I constantly remind my inner child that he's ok. He's safe and protected and to let myself drop my child-like view of the world in general.

The process is slow but It’s improving. Certain thoughts are fading away. My inner child has been trying to protect me for a long time. It’s done a very good job. It, like the rest of us, wants to be accepted and loved. If you change your thoughts, you change your perception of reality."

To my cyberspace fitness brother from a different mother, thank you so much for sharing your deep feelings and thoughts. Find comfort in knowing that when you look in the mirror and ask yourself “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” that God’s answer is He loves you just the way you are.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rope a dope

Last Friday and the end of my workout I had another date with the 12 foot rope at Bodytribe Fitness, the gym where I train. My workout was late in the afternoon and the rope climbing came at about hour 23 of an intermittent fasting (IF) day. I was weak and it showed.

Here's a video executive briefing exclusive for Pierini Fitness viewers:

I'll try again soon on a better day. Stayed tuned for the next rope a dope.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Turn on the swamp cooler

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

Today it is supposed to be 107F degrees in my part of the world. I'm going to do my best to beat the heat today. I'll stay indoors, think snow, and turn on the swamp cooler.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Tommy Kono

The following is word-for-word of a July 5, 2007 I wrote to American Olympic weightlifting legend Tommy Kono:

"Dear Mr. Kono:
I am the son of the Ed Pierini who you knew about 50 years ago when you lived in Sacramento, California. My Dad is 80 years old and will soon be celebrating his 81st birthday on August 14th.
I grew up listening to my Dad tell me many stories about his days at the YMCA and his days knowing and training with you. And to this day I still get new stories about his pleasant memories of your friendship. For example, last night he was over my house for dinner and he told me about the story of when you went over to Russia in response to a challenge to compete against one of their star lifters in your weight division. And I heard the story, more than once, about how you would go to the local high school and challenge the high school coach's best sprinters to a race, except up a flight of stairs. I never get tired hearing these stories. I feel like I personally know you even though we are a generation apart and have never met. My Dad told me that you came over to our home on S Street for a Mexican dinner before departing for Hawaii.

Well anyway, the purpose of my letter is to make a simple request. Would you be willing to call my Dad on his 81st birthday and wish him a happy birthday, maybe take a few minutes for a conversation down memory lane? I would be more than happy to compensate you for your time and the telephone charges. I would like to see the look on his face as this conversation takes place. If you would be willing to do this but August 14th would not fit your schedule, then any other date would also be fine.

My Dad is a full-time caregiver for my fully-disabled sister and he lives a very demanding life with this duty. He thanks his many years of weightlifting as giving him the strength to continue to this day with this demanding task. I know his years of life are limited and to give him a joy that he will cherish for his remaining years would be one of the greatest gifts a son could give his Dad.

I hope you will consider my request. Please feel free to call or write me if you can accommodate my request. I will reimburse you for any telephone charges you incur. Thank you!

What emerged from this simple letter has been an amazing friendship that grows by the day. Mr. Kono stayed as a guest in my home during an August 2007 visit to Sacramento. It was a wonderful experience to witness the look on my Dad’s face when he reunited with his old friend. We kept the reunion a top secret until it occurred.

My Dad and I also had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Kono during his August 2008 trip and actually attended my Dad’s 82nd birthday party at my home.

Mr. Kono is coming to Sacramento again in August and I will again have the opportunity to spend time with him and benefit from his geniune friendship and sage counsel.

Today is his 79th birthday and I wish my friend good faith, fitness, fortune and health. I’ll call him today to say “Happy Birthday Mr. Tommy Kono”.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tell him no thank you

Another middle-age man bit the dust this week when 49 year young Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina admitted to having an extra-marital affair with a woman friend in Argentina whom he recently visited on a secret trip. This follows last week’s announcement by 51 year young U.S. Senator John Ensign of Nevada that he had an extra-marital affair with a former member of his campaign staff.

Who can forget the news last March 2008 when then 48 year young New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was a client of a prostitution ring under investigation by the federal government? Two days later, he resigned as governor citing his “private failings”.

Last but not least, none of us will ever forget the scandal involving the sexual relationship between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and a 22-year young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. The news of this extra-marital affair and the resulting investigation eventually led to the impeachment of 52 years young President Clinton in 1998 by the U.S. House of Representatives.

All four of these middle-age men committed lust, one of the Seven Deadly Sins, a classification of the most objectionable vices which has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning fallen man’s tendency to sin. Lust is not limited to acts of extra-marital affairs or adultery; it is more broadly defined as excessive thoughts or desires of a sexual nature including, but not limited to, sexual addiction, fornification, adultery, bestiality, rape, perversion and incest.

Wow! That’s a pretty heavy duty list very difficult for most of us to escape if we are rigorously honest.

Former President Jimmy Carter showed an amazing example of rigorously honesty about lust when interviewed by Playboy Magazine in 1976 when he said:

“Because I'm just human and I'm tempted and Christ set some almost impossible standards for us. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Christ said, I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery. I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times.... This is something that God recognizes, that I will do and have done, and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.”

Dear God, give the strength to avoid the temptation of sin so that when the Devil comes knocking, I’ll tell him no thank you.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Very full and satisifed

There was something about the food choices I selected on Tuesday that made for an interesting observation. Maybe a hotter weather day had something to do with it also. It was another intermittent fasting (IF) day - call it intermittent feeding if you prefer. I began eating around 3:30 p.m. and was done for the day at around 5:30 p.m.

Here’s what I ate that day:

3:30 p.m. at work

8 ounces of Trader Joe's low fat strawberry yogurt follwed by 1.75 ounces of dark chocolate that was begging me to eat it.

5:30 p.m. at home

Two flour tortillas with about 2 cups of guacamole and sliced Roma tomatoes.

I thought for sure that I would eat something else later in the evening but I was so darn full that there was no room or desire for anything else. This is so unlike me and it made me curious; so I decided to “cost out” my consumption to satisfy my curiosity. It “costed out” at approximately 1,693 calories consisting of 183 grams of carbohydrates (43%), 31 grams of protein (7%) and 93 grams of fat (50%).

I don’t know what kind of nutrition plan you call eating this way, but one thing is for sure and that is I was very full and satisfied.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We finally got it out of our system

Yesterday I lent all my language and travel guide books related to Turkey to an acquaintance who is going to that fascinating country in about a week for a 10-day vacation. I should have told him to keep all of the books as it is highly unlikely that I’ll ever go back. My wife and I spent two weeks there in 1997 and had a wonderful time. I’m so glad we did.

As a child growing up, travel to faraway places was something my family never did. It took joining the Army to have my first travel experience outside of California, a 15-month assignment to the Republic of Korea from 1974 to 1975. After that, it would be another 15 years before there would be any more distant travel of sorts. From 1990 to 2007, my wife and I traveled a lot, initially with our children and later just the two of us. Most of our travel was to European countries because that was our interest. We always traveled together but in 2008, my wife went solo on a 2-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Egypt along with church acquaintances while I stayed home and worked during my busy season. More recently, a couple months ago we visited Mexico City for a contemplative pro-life retreat.

We have so many pleasant travel memories that will last a lifetime and I’m so glad we traveled when we did. Now, with aging parents and some health issues my wife is experiencing, travel as we did before is out of the question. I’m OK with that because in our vagabond journeys to popular destinations and down roads off the beaten path, I can honestly say that there is no place like home. That serious case of the travel bug we had for so many years – we finally got it out of our system.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I refuse to give up!

Yesterday I trained earlier than normal, arriving at the gym about 10:30 a.m. and training for about 90 minutes. My right shoulder is still bothering me when I do most overhead work such as overhead presses and split jerks. Interesting is that it doesn't bother me when I do snatch work provided the load is light and that is what I did, concentrating on technique and speed. Afterwards I did some front squats but it was a lighter day because my legs were still recovering from last Friday's workout.

Here's a short video of how I concluded my training:

Some training days are better than others and there was nothing special about yesterday for me. I felt weak and my shoulder was bothering me but one thing is for sure and that is that I refuse to give up!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, June 22, 2009

Who am I to think that I won't go first?

Yesterday I took a different route to visit my Dad on Father’s Day and drove past the cemetery where many of my relatives have been laid to eternal rest. One of these days I will join them because my wife, in her infrequent moments of planning ahead, purchased gravesites for both of us there several years ago. I’m sure my Dad will be buried there too when it is his turn although that’s a topic that will not generate any discussion with him.

The cemetery was jam packed with cars and people making their annual Father's Day visit, placing flowers on the tombstones and saying a few prayers while fondly remembering the good old days when Dad was around. I didn’t stop to visit the gravesites of my paternal grandfather, grandmother and both sets of great grandparents who are buried there. I just wasn’t up to it and preferred to use the time I had available to spend with my Dad.

I’m one of those weird guys who likes to visit cemeteries and stroll up and down the rows of gravesites and read the names, dates of birth, dates of death and anything else engraved on the tombstones. Being numerically-oriented, I like to calculate the age of the deceased when they passed away while wondering who they were and the life they lived. I’m really fascinated when I discover a tombstone of someone who lived a long time ago and lived a very long life, wondering what their secret was or if they were just blessed with good genes and good luck.

About 10 minutes after passing the cemetery, I arrived at my Dad’s house and we had a good time and great conversation. He likes to talk about the good old days and I like to listen to his account of those days. Yesterday we spent time talking about barbell squats because he was and still is a big believer in that exercise which he attributes to the very good strength he still has for someone about to turn age 83. He recalled a squat competition he entered in the early 1950s when he as about 25 or 26 years young. That day, as a middleweight of about 165 lbs., he squatted 420 lbs. and took home the second place trophy. The winner of that competition was none other than American Olympic weightlifting legend Tommy Kono. My Dad’s recollection is that Mr. Kono’s winning squat was about 460 lbs.

How many more Father’s Days my Dad will have is anyone’s guess. If I had it my way, I’d like at least a dozen more. Truth be told, one day he will get called home for his eternal rest. When that day comes, those Father’s Day trips to visit him will be to the cemetery that I passed today while driving to his house.

But there are no guarantees in life and maybe that is not how it will turn out because who am I to think that I won't go first?

Pax Domini sit simper vobiscum

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

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 blogflection about a topic yet to be determined but guaranteed to be original.

Today is also Father's Day 2009. I'll spend time today with my Dad who thus far has been blessed with good health. He still trains with barbells in his garage two to three times a week and is two months shy of his 83rd birthday. He is definitely a role model for me to continue training. I'll do my best to see that he has a Happy Father's Day.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Show up and do it

Yesterday was a fun training day for me because I brought a friend to my gym as a guest. Our training goals are different so he and I went our separate ways initially and did our own things. I concentrated on front squats and weighted pullups while he worked his biceps and triceps.

Afterwards, we worked together by doing five sets of explosive and fast-paced front squats with a moderate weight for 10 reps each set with 90 seconds recovery between sets. That made the workout more like a short anaerobic cardio session rather than a strength session. It was fun doing it together; he did his set and then I followed and we both kept our recovery to 90 seconds between sets. We both finished our five sets about 35 seconds shy of the 10 minute mark.

Normally I train alone nowadays so training with a buddy was fun and I hope to do it again soon.

I played around with weighted standard grip pullups again and got as high as a single rep with 80 lbs. added. This is a 10 lb. improvement over my effort about two weeks ago and 2.5 lbs. less than my personal best of 82.5 lbs. from a couple years ago. I tried a weighted single standard grip chinup with 100 lbs. added and failed very convincingly. About two weeks ago I was successful with 88 lbs. added. My personal best from a couple years ago is 100 lbs. added.

Here's a short video of the pullup with 80 lbs. added:

It was just another training day in the life of a middle-age man fitness dude. I didn't hit any home runs or set any personal records. Despite that, it's all good. I just got to show up and do it.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, June 19, 2009

Demanding a refund

When traditional medicine covered by a health insurance policy fails to deliver remedies to ailing patients, those who can afford it seek and pay for non-traditional alternatives not covered by their healthcare plan. That is what my wife and I are doing for a chronic, but not life-threatening, ailment of hers. After giving up on the solutions that our healthcare plan offered, we researched and found a medical group of physicians that specializes in treating my wife’s ailment. Yesterday I took the day off from work to accompany her for an initial consultation in the San Francisco area, about two hours from where we live.

Thanks be to God that we can afford this option. I wish everyone suffering from a chronic ailment that mainstream medicine has not been able to remedy had similar financial means to seek out non-traditional alternatives. Time will tell the outcome but we are hopeful and know that the mainstream diagnosis and treatment solutions aren't getting the job done.

So we’ll continue paying the $626 monthly health insurance premiums for our healthcare plan while dipping deeper into our pockets to pay for the specialist not covered by our plan. It was no surprise to learn while talking to the specialist physician's receptionist yesterday that many of their patients do the same and double pay for healthcare.

Will the proposals currently being considered by Congress to improve health care access for all Americans at a projected cost of more than one trillion dollars change our predicament? Personally, I don’t think so and actually believe it will make things worse by raising the cost of health care in general for all Americans, either directly through higher health insurance premiums or indirectly through higher taxes, without any measurable improvement in the quality of health care. Time will tell and I hope I’m dead wrong on this one.

Yesterday, when paying for the cost of the specialist visit and scheduling the lab work and next visit, I was reminded of the shortcomings of our primary health care system. At that moment, I felt angry like an irate customer returning a defective product and demanding a refund.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, June 18, 2009

5 shy of 300

How times flies when you are having fun. Today’s blogflection is numero 295 (and make that consecutive) since Pierini Fitness began doing business in the cyberspace blogosphere last August 28, 2008. It’s been an amazing journey for me that I really enjoy. Sometimes I get a bout of creativity dryness, but for the most part I am amazed at my discipline to “blogflect” my daily and original nonsense every morning come cyberspace rain or shine.

As the self-appointed ambassador of middle-age men around the world - advocating their interests and expressing their views of the way life was, the way life is and the way life should be - I take my cyberspace ministry seriously. When will it all end is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure – today’s blogflection is 5 shy of 300.

Pax Domini sit simper vobiscum

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Opportunity to train around my ouchie

About 12 years ago I injured my right hand when I hit a tree coming down a snowy hill riding a sleigh. My hand hurt for years and I resigned myself that it would always hurt. I had to modify my karate training and train around my ouchie by favoring my left side. It eventually healed after a couple years and, in hindsight, was a blessing in disguise because I spent more time in the dojo working my left side and it became better.

Almost 10 years ago I tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a karate accident. I still remember the excruciating pain to this day the moment I fell to the ground screaming in agony. I knew something serious had happened. After surgery, physical therapy rehabilitation, and countless hours in the gym on my own, I was able to get close enough to my pre-injury self and resume training as I trained before the accident. Again, in hindsight, the injury was a blessing in disguise because I had to train around my ouchie. It opened my mind to training modalities that I might not have ever considered.

So now, I’m sporting a nuisance sore right shoulder despite being very proud of how good my shoulders have felt the past couple years as I shared in this past blogflection: My shoulders feel great

The catalyst of my sore right shoulder, I believe, was resuming bar dips after a lengthy absence and performing them with on a bar dip station with slightly wider hand placement than normal, compounded by continuing to perform overhead work as if all was fine. I don’t think there is anything seriously wrong with my right shoulder but it does need rest and recovery. Rather than sit idle and do nothing, it’s another opportunity to train around my ouchie.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

112 days later

Intermittent fasting (IF) has been the topic of several blogflections at Pierini Fitness, beginning with my 2009 Lenten Intermittent Fasting Journey from February 25th to April 12th earlier this year. If you’ve followed my IF topic blogflections, you know that after Lent I made a “business decision” to continue the IF-lifestyle on Mondays through Fridays and eat "normal" on the weekends. My last update was almost one month ago here: The downfall of Western civilization

During Lent, I practiced IF 7 days a week and targeted a 2-hour eating window from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and called it 2/24 IF. Now, I practice IF 5 days a week on Monday through Friday and generally observe a 5-hour eating window from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and call it 5/24 IF. In both cases, I was and am flexible. Sometimes the window began/begins earlier and lasted/lasts longer, but sometimes it began/begins later and lasted/lasts shorter. A recent example of flexibility was that I did not observe IF last week on Monday when my wife and I went out to breakfast.

I continue to enjoy the many lifestyle benefits of IF that I shared in previous blogflections. My bodyweight remains stable and about 14 pounds less than before I began IF. Slowly but surely I am regaining lost strength and strength endurance as my training has become more focused.

When I began my IF journey on February 25th for 40 days of Lenten sacrifice, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would still be at it 112 days later.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, June 15, 2009

Squatting five percent more

Last week I started the Russian Squat Program, a three times a week progressive resistance squat training program done over a six-week period. I’ve done it before a couple years ago. This time I’m using it with Olympic style front squats.

You can use this program to design your squatting workout routines to increase your strength, not mass. It also should not be used as your only squatting program over an extended time period; rather, it is intended as a means of inserting some variation into your programming and should not be used as a program mainstay.

I believe the progressive resistance design of this program works well with barbell deadlifts, military presses, weighted pullups or chinups, and weighted bar dips.

Here’s a website link to a Russian Squat Program Generator that will design a workout for you. Simple enter your current one rep maximum for any exercise and a progressive resistance training program for the next six weeks will be prepared for you. It’s designed to increase your one rep maximum by five percent at the end of six weeks.

Russian Squat Program Generator

I’ll check back with you in about five weeks and hopefully will report that I’m squatting five percent more.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The last Sunday of Spring 2009

The following information was found while surfing the internet early yesterday morning:

The astronomical beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere is the June solstice. Depending on the year, the day that marks the official start of summer can be June 20th or June 21st. For 2009, the exact date and time is June 21st at 1:45 EDT.

For the years 2009 and 2013, people in the Mountain and Pacific time zones and farther west (like me), get summer one day earlier this year on June 20th. So when people ask what the first day of summer is, it not only depends on the year but where you live.

The moment of the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is determined by when the Earth’s North Pole axis is titled most directly toward the sun. When this is occurring in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth’s South Pole axis is titled most directly away from the sun, which marks the first day of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

So regardless of where you live and regardless of when summer 2009 begins for you, I hope you have a great day today on the last Sunday of Spring 2009.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, June 13, 2009

That is this Saturday's blogflection

It's been a hard week for me and I’m exhausted, more mentally than physically. Stuff happens every now and then and taking it like a middle-age man is a way for me to see how good I am. It’s easy to do well and feel good when the going is good. Anyone can do that. The true challenge is to do well and feel good when the going is not so good.

Inspiration in moments of difficulty can be had in the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his 1963 book “Strength to Love”.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Ladies and gentlemen, that is this Saturday’s blogflection.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, June 12, 2009

My life being overweight

Most days as of late I weigh about 180 pounds but on some days a little less and on other days a pound more. This bodyweight feels about right for me at this middle-age point of my life. I weighed 161 pounds during my Army enlistment physical when I was about 3 months shy of my 18th birthday. After basic training, I remember weighing 154 pounds; that was too light. I’ve never been north of 200 pounds in my life. The closest I ever got was about 196 pounds, too much weight for my body.

What’s all this bodyweight rambling about? It’s leading up to a discussion about the nonsense of the body mass index (BMI) statistical measurement. The BMI is the most widely used diagnostic tool to identify weight problem within a population including underweight, overweight and obesity.

The Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet invented the BMI statistical measure over 150 years ago during the course of developing "social physics". BMI is defined as an individual’s body weight divided by the square of his or her height. The literature I’ve read indicates that normal bodyweight is that which falls within a BMI statistical measure of 18.5 to 25. A BMI of between 25 and 30 is classified as overweight.

Guess what? At 180 pounds, my BMI is 25.1 so I am classified as overweight. Yesterday morning, my BMI was 24.9 as I tipped the scale at 178.5 pounds. So I had a normal day in the nonsense BMI world. The BMI has been used by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the standard for recording obesity statistics since the early 1980s. In a sense of worldly accomplishment, I’m a member of the international community of overweight people.

Here’s a video from last Wednesday of overweight me performing an Olympic clean and jerk of 175 pounds. It was done late in the afternoon at about the 19th to 20th hour of intermittent fasting so my bodyweight was probably 178 pounds. In the nonsense BMI world, I was not overweight at that moment.

Looks like I’ll be spending the rest of my life being overweight.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A big bottle of cold mineral water

With warmer summer weather here or soon here - depending on where in the world you live - we will all spend extra time keeping our bodies hydrated and are whistles wet. We all need to obey our thirst and the way we do so is as unique as each of us.

Some answer the thirst beast within by drinking a cold beer or two or more, or other alcoholic beverages. In this prior blogflection, I shared that in the old days so did I but now I do not:

No thank you but I am an athlete

So how does this middle-age man go about obeying his thirst? Drinking a refreshing beverage I learned to enjoy during my many trips to Italy. The Italians call it acqua minerale. To me, there's nothing more enjoyable than a big bottle of cold mineral water.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Watermelon season

The first sign that summer is around the corner came Monday afternoon when I purchased my first watermelon for 2009. Later that evening, my wife and I sampled it. She had a medium serving and I had a large serving. It was pretty good for an early year purchase, not great but slightly better than good whatever that is. I’ll give that slice I ate a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Watermelon has always been a summertime favorite of mine. Join me this summer for regular feedings of watermelon on those hot summer days. I think it’s going to be a great summer and a great watermelon season.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Another way to be upside down

On Sunday in a moment of restlessness, I decided to do some headstands. There’s a yoga term for a headstand but I prefer to simply refer to it as a headstand. It’s a close cousin of the handstand that I wrote about here:

Upside down

Here are some of the purported benefits of the headstand that I found on an internet website (assume to be true at your own risk):

#1 - The headstand increases circulation to the brain, which causes improved brain function (intelligence and memory) and increased vitality and confidence.

#2 - It improves many ailments, such as nervousness, tension, fatigue, sleeplessness, dullness, fear, poor blood circulation, bad memory, asthma, headaches, constipation, congested throat, liver or spleen, for female disorders, the initial stages of eye and nose troubles, and general lack of energy, vitality or self confidence.

#3 - It stimulates four of the most important endocrine glands - the pituitary, the pineal, the thyroid, and the parathyroid glands that are responsible for our very existence, for they keep the body mechanism in good working order. Pituitary gland is called the master gland of the body. As a consequence, the practice of the headstand helps us to get relief from many of our troubles, physical as well as mental, or to prevent them. It has a very beneficial effect on the whole body.

#4 - It promotes hair growth by increasing circulation to the scalp.

#5 - It helps to put the spine into correct alignment.

#6 - It restores the position of vital organs by reversing gravity.

#7 - The quality of sleep is improved. Poor sleep is often due to an excess of nerve impulses from the reticular formation to the cerebral cortex in the brain. The headstand causes an increase in circulation to the neck, which stimulates the baroreceptors in the neck. This calms the reticular formation down, causing reduced nerve impulses to the cerebral cortex. This results in a peaceful, deep steep.

And here’s a video of my Sunday headstand session:
Give it a try. Use a wall for support if needed. The headstand is another way to be upside down.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, June 8, 2009

Basement dojo

On Saturday I returned to the dojo for a Saturday morning karate workout with my karate brothers and sister after an extended hibernation. Let’s just say I’m a little rusty but I did OK. Lots of muscle memory and the spillover benefit of the other training I’ve been doing definitely helped.

The workout was kind and gentle; call it geriatrics karate as my Sensei did about the same time that those same words were rolling around in my mind in the middle of the workout. We are an aging ensemble of karateka and our training reflects that reality, but we are still doing it and that’s what counts.

On Sunday morning, I awakened and was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t as sore as expected.

It’s more difficult for me to get to the dojo these days, as it’s about 30 miles from where I live, and I have some family special needs' responsibilities that add to the challenge. So at this point I’ve made a commitment to get there at least once a month for a Saturday morning workout. Hopefully things will improve and I’ll eventually be able to visit the dojo more often. There’s no reason why I can’t do some training on my own in my basement. Kata training is excellent for those basement-training sessions in solitude.

Here’s a video demonstration of the kata Gosoku from about 2.5 years ago when my training was regular. This is one of my favorite kata and viewing it inspires me to ramp up my training.

It’s time for some solo training in my basement dojo.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Have a super Sunday!

For as long as Pierini Fitness has existed in the blogosphere, one thing has been constant and that it we are closed on Sunday so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Sunday blogflections, therefore, have been brief and predictable to announce that we are closed; they routinely lack creativity in content and enthusiasm in delivery, and are likely to produce a giant spontaneous yawn for anyone who reads them.

So once again, today is Sunday and the message is the same – Pierini Fitness is closed but do come back tomorrow for a creative blogflection about a topic not yet determined but guaranteed to be original. Have a super Sunday!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Heading to the dojo

There was a time when I wouldn't even consider missing a scheduled karate workout with my dojo brothers and sisters so I have frustrated feelings that I have hardly trained this year.

My training erosion began during my busy work season and continued after it was over because of increasing caregiver responsibilties I now have for an ill family member. But yesterday I made a "business decision" that I was going to train early Saturday morning and began preparing myself psychologically for the muscle soreness I will have after that workout.

I spent Friday evening excited that in the morning I was heading to the dojo.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, June 5, 2009

A stallion appetite awaits us

About one month ago while visiting another fitness website, I stumbled across a comment someone posted that left a lasting impression with me. It was posted by a person who goes by the forum name of Viking Dan. It gives a great perspective of the relative roles of exercise and food consumption in weight loss, and achieving and maintaining a healthy bodyweight.

I’m not sure if the quote was a Viking Dan original or a restatement of something he read elsewhere, but here it is:

"Cardio, unless carried to an extreme, won´t do much for weight loss. You can't outrun your mouth. The calories I burn in an hour of jogging can be eaten in 10 seconds."

As someone who has done lots of challenging cardio workouts in his training past but does minimal nowadays, I can personally vouch for the truthfulness of this statement. It’s darn good food for thought for all of us before we saddle up on the cardio pony for a long ride, knowing that at the end of the journey a stallion appetite awaits us.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A ho-hum training day at Bodytribe Fitness

When I began Pierini Fitness many moons ago on August 28, 2008, I stated the following in my initial blogflection:

“For the past four years, I have maintained a training journal on two different fitness forum websites. I've created this new blog to continue my cyberspace training journal, and to record anything else I have on my mind for my archival benefit and for the benefit or disadvantage of anyone else who happens to stumble across Pierini Fitness.”

Well I’ve been too busy rambling about middle-age man fitness and health, other middle-age man reflections, and occasional economic and political thoughts that somehow the cyberspace training journal went by the wayside.

Today’s blogflection is a page from the bricks and mortar training journal I still maintain. Here’s what I did yesterday afternoon after 10 minutes of flexibility and warmup drills:

Supersets of barbell squats (BS) followed by standard grip pullup (SGPU) weighted singles (all loads are in lbs.) as follows:

Set #1 – BS 95x3 then SGPU 25x1

Set #2 – BS 115x3 then SGPU 35x1

Set #3 – BS 135x3 then SGPU 45x1

Set #4 – BS 155x3 then SGPU 55x1

Set #5 – BS 175x3 then SGPU 70x1 (video below)

Set #6 – BS 195x1 then standard grip chinup 88x1 (video below)

Supersets of pullups and chinups followed by barbell squat/wide-grip behind-the-neck overhead press (BS/WGBTNOHP) as follows:

Set #1 – standard grip pullups x 6 then BS/WGBTNOHP 95x6

Set #2 – standard grip chinups x 6 then BS/WGBTNOHP 95x6

Set #3 – close grip pullups x 6 then BS/WGBTNOHP 95x6

Set #4 – close grip chinups x 6 then BS/WGBTNOHP 95x6

Set #5 – wide grip pullups x 6 then BS/WGBTNOHP 95x6

Set #6 – wide grip chinups x6 then BS/WGBTNOHP 135x10 (video below)

Here some video highlights:

Nothing fancy about this training day. Other than one weighted pullup and one weighted chinup, all loads were moderate. The last set of of squats/wide-grip behind-the-neck overhead presses was tough. It was just a ho-hum training day at Bodytribe Fitness.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Superman-wannabe in training!

The first superhero created for comic books was Superman who leaped from radio to television when the Adventures of Superman debuted in 1952. George Reeves played the Man of Steel with a genuineness that captivated viewers of all ages and that included a young boy named me.

A couple years ago, I purchased a DVD that featured 26 complete first season of this classic television series, all in vintage black and white film. It brought back pleasant memories and, as I compose this blogflection, there’s a tug on my nostalgic heart that it’s time to view these 26 episodes again.

As a kid, wearing a Superman costume I owned, I would run around my house with arms extended imagining that I was flying in the sky like Superman while making a “shooshing” sound from my mouth like the sound when Superman was flying in the television series. Eventually, I outgrew the costume but never the childlike mind of wanting to be Superman.

So this leads to the Superman pushups I tried early yesterday morning at home  before jumping into the shower. As my current training is primarily the Olympic lifts, I don't normally include pushups in my training and consider myself a rookie with the Superman pushup. 

Here’s me performing 25 reps of the Superman pushup variation, then moving forward a little for a greater span to make it tougher, then performing a couple more reps before losing my "core lock", dropping to the floor and calling it a morning.

Notice that I used the baseboard wall to keep my feet from sliding. That was after multiple attempts and a serious case of slippery feet. I believe the hardwood floors in my 1905 home are the slipperiest in America. I even tried a set wearing running shoes but to no avail. I'll admit that using the wall for support makes it easier to perform this pushup.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a Superman-wannabe in training!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

All life is precious

I am a pro-lifer who believes that life begins at conception. I’ve spent many hours in front of neighborhood abortion facilities in a peaceful and prayerful presence, praying for pregnant women to choose life rather than abortion for their unborn infants. Recently, I had an opportunity to do so far from home and shared my experiences in this blogflection:

Hermanos y hermanas de la Ciudad de Mexico

On Sunday, I was saddened to learn of the tragic murder of George Tiller, a provider of late-term abortions (abortions performed after the 21st week of pregnancy when the fetus is considered viable and able to survive outside the uterus). Mr. Tiller was serving as an usher during morning services Sunday when he was shot in the foyer of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas.

Many of us from the pro-life community have worked hard to promote an image of peaceful and prayerful presence in front of abortion facilities. This is in sharp contrast to the protestor and violent image that many Americans have of the pro-life community due to the distorted characterizations of this ministry promoted by the abortion industry and the media. This tragic murder keeps that distorted image alive in the eyes of many Americans.

My prayers and thoughts go out to the family of Mr. George Tiller as they mourn his tragic death. It’s also a confirmation for me to continue promoting the peaceful and prayerful presence of The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, the pro-life apostolate with which I have been involved; to maintain a loving, peaceful, prayerful witness outside abortion centers, supporting pregnant mothers and their families with spiritual, emotional and practical assistance.

I believe that life begins at conception and ends only when God decides, and not anyone else. All life is precious.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the commode again

Last week a client sent me a funny e-mail that is today’s blogflection. Apparently, some musicians from the 1960 and 1970 era are revising their hit songs with new lyrics to accommodate aging baby boomers – middle- age men and women like you and me.

They include the following:

Boby Darin - -

“Splish, splash, I was having a flash.”

Herman’s Hermits - -

“Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely walker.”

Ringo Star - -

“I get by with a little help from Depends.”

The Bee Gees - -

“How can you mend a broken hip.”

Roberta Flack - -

“The first time ever I forgot your face.”

Johnny Nash - -

“I can’t see clearly now.”

Paul Simon - -

“Fifty ways to lose your liver.”

The Commodores - -

“Once, twice, three times to the bathroom.”

Marvin Gaye - -

“I heard it through the Grape Nuts.”

Procol Harem - -

“ A whiter shade a hair.”

Leo Sayer - -

“You make me feel like napping.”

The Temptations - -

“Papa’s got a kidney stone.”

Abba - -

“Denture Queen.”

Tony Orlando and Dawn - -

“Knock 3 times on the ceiling if you hear me fall.”

Helen Reddy - -

“I am a woman, hear me snore.”

Leslie Gore - -

“It’s my procedures and I’ll cry if I want to.”

And last but not least:

Willie Nelson - -

“On the commode again.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum