Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The End

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On August 28, 2008, Pierini Fitness first appeared in cyberspace as a middle-age man’s cyberspace chronicle of his journey down the superfitness highway in the fast lane.

As the chief executive blogger, I created Pierini Fitness as my cyberspace training journal and to record anything else I had on my mind for my archival benefit and for the benefit or disadvantage of anyone else who happened to stumble across my blog.

It turned out that I had quite a bit on my mind that I spilled out each morning for 600 consecutive days through yesterday. "Blogflections" are what I called my daily cyberspace utterances that shared my thoughts about middle-age man fitness, reflective ramblings, and occasional economic and political thoughts.

In the process, I got to know myself better and suspect that my cyberspace brothers from different mothers and cyberspace sisters from different misters who visited me on average about 950 times per month got to know me better too. Several took time from their busy day to share a comment or kudo about my daily blogflection – to tell me “right on” or “you’re missing the boat” with my message. I enjoyed all the comments I read and learned something from them.

In the process of being so full of myself, I crowned myself 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 took my ambassadorship seriously and, along the way, had a middle-age man or two privately comment that the stuff I shared empowered their own middle-age manhood. It made me feel good inside my skin to be a middle-age man and to know that in some small way I helped them feel good inside their skin.

Now it’s time for me to take the daily energy I’ve devoted to Pierini Fitness and direct it elsewhere. Maybe I’ll write a daily poem to my wife who deserves more of my expressive attention than I've given her. To be a great husband should be the perpetual goal of all “real” middle-age men.

So it might come as a surprise to some – as it has for me – with what I am about to announce with those simple two words you see at the end of a good movie; that today’s 601st Pierini Fitness blogflection marks the end.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

p.s. to stay in touch, you can reach me at pierinifitness@yahoo.com

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wish me success

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Today I’ll start a 12-week strength training program that takes into account what I believe is best, yet challenging, for my middle-age man body.

My plan is to train three times a week and alternate between the following Workout A and Workout B:

Workout A

Barbell Olympic-style back squats - 3 sets of 5 reps.

Barbell bench press - 3 sets of 5 reps.

Barbell clean pulls - 3 set of 3 reps.

Knuckle pushups and bar dips for the next workout - 2 sets - first set to failure minus 1 rep and second set to failure.

Standard-grip hanging knees to elbow - 2 sets - first set to failure minus 1 rep and second set to failure.

Workout B

Barbell Olympic-style front squats – 3 sets of 5 reps.

Barbell overhead push press – 3 sets of 5 reps.

Barbell squat cleans – 3 sets of 3 reps.

Standard-grip pullups and standard-grip chinups for the next workout - 2 sets - first set to failure minus 1 rep and second set to failure.

Ab plank hold – 2 sets for the same hold time for both sets with rest time equal to 50% of the hold time.

I’ll follow this progressive resistance model:

(1) All sets with the same weight (after an appropriate warmup).

(2) Add 5 lbs. total weight each workout until I have technical form failure and unable to complete the planned reps for three workouts. Then I’ll reduce the weight by 10 percent for the stalled exercise only while continuing to add weight for the other exercises.

(3) I’ll continue adding 5 lbs. total weight each workout until I stall again with technical form failure for the planned reps.

(4) I’ll repeat this one step back and two steps forward approach for the entire 12 week length of this strength program, and follow the same principle for the pushups, pullups, chinups, bar dips and ab plank hold exercises.

It’s a tough program for me but I’m going to do it. Wish me success.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I plan to enjoy my Sunday

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Today is Sunday and Pierini Fitness is closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Maybe I'll go on a long walk like the 4-mile walk I did on Saturday.

Visit tomorrow to learn about the barbell strength training workout program that I’ll begin on Monday. It’s a plan that I intend to follow for 12 weeks for some much-needed structure with my middle-age man fitness training.

Enjoy your Sunday as much as I plan to enjoy my Sunday.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'll be back for more

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Yesterday I returned to my gym sporting both some fitness and strength erosion from hit and miss (mostly miss) training during my busy work season. My previous barbell workout was on April 1st and it was a very abbreviated one that consisted of a couple sets of squats and squat cleans at a hurried “something is better than nothing” pace.

Arriving at my gym mid-morning both mentally and physically tired, I promised myself a pleasant reintroduction to barbell weight training and I kept true to my promise. After investing 15 minutes walking on the treadmill to move the blood slosh in my arteries and veins from cardio inactivity, I then ventured to the weight room and completed the following combo sets:

Combo #1 - barbell front squats for 10 reps followed by standard grip pullups for 10 reps

Combo #2 - barbell bench press for 10 reps followed by standard grip chinups for 8 reps

Combo #3 - barbell bent-over rowing for 10 reps followed by close grip pullups for 10 reps

Combo #4 - barbell overhead push press for 10 reps followed by close grip chinups for 10 reps

For combo #3, the bent-over rowing and the close grip pullup reps were broken, and for combo #4, the close grip chinup reps were broken since I'm sporting some endurance erosion and didn’t give myself sufficient recovery to take that into account.

Overall, it was a pleasant workout that left my muscles feeling worked and a fresh reminder that I’m only as good as my last workout. But rest assured that I’ll be back for more.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, April 16, 2010

He is brain dead tired

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Pierini Fitness is closed today and there won’t be a blogflection because the chief executive blogger is taking the day off to rest and recovery from a hectic yesterday.

He is brain dead tired.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Combat tour of duty

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Today marks the end of my 2010 busy work season. While my April 15th has yet to begin as I compose today’s blogflection, I have a sense that this year will be smoother than the past.

My busiest work season ever was in 1988 when a fellow CPA who I shared office space with learned in mid-January that he needed an immediate major operation, about the time his busy work season was starting. I agreed to help him by serving his clients while he was away to keep them from going elsewhere.

It was a colossal undertaking that challenged me in ways that I haven’t since been challenged. The long hours I worked that year - day in and day out - and the stress of serving both his clients and mine was overwhelming. I remember going to work early that year on April 14th and working nonstop until the late evening of April 15th the following day - a total of over 36 hours of nonstop working without sleep. I did take a short break early in the morning on April 15th to go home and take a shower and freshen up because the “stench” of nonstop working and sitting was getting the better half of me.

Today will be nothing like that, yet I’ll still be running on adrenaline as that’s all my body and mind knows from years being in the tax season trenches. It takes a long time to teach an old dog new tricks and I’m an old dog in this work world in which I exist.

Sometime later today there finally will be a dissipation of my tanked adrenaline that will be replaced with a long overdue calmness that will surface like a rainbow in the sky after a torrential rain storm. At some point I’ll let out a believable big sigh of relief and start feeling elated like a sailor returning home from a combat tour of duty.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not much when there's much to do

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How much sleep does a middle-age man require or, to be more specific, how much sleep does this middle-age man require? That’s a good question and I’ll give you my answer shortly.

We all grew up being taught that the average person needs eight hours of sleep a night; at least I did. It’s probably sacred in most our minds as a default answer although those of us who get manic now and then about fitness, family and work get by on far less. I am at this moment to no known short-term detrimental effect; or so I think.

There was a time when I would “cry like a baby” if I didn’t get the allotted sleep my mind had been conditioned to believe my body needed. Then I got a life and discovered that so long as I’m generally well-rested and well-fed, it’s no big deal to wake up seriously short in the “good night’s sleep department”.

Over the long haul, our bodies and minds need an average amount of sleep and if we don’t obey Father Time and Mother Nature, we’ll pay the price. As the saying goes “you can pay me now or you can pay me later”. Coming up short, now and then for a day or a small number of consecutive days is not the end of the world and doesn’t deserve to be elevated to a serious crisis to moan about to anyone who’ll listen.

This week I’ll average four to five hours of sleep a night and I don’t feel one cent deprived. It’s because my mind is in high gear and there’s a greater payoff to be alert and awake to wrap up my busy work season than to spend time in “Mr. Sandman-land”.

So back to the question of how much sleep does this middle-age man require? Not much when there’s much to do.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A set of 25 knuckle pushups

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For what seems like forever, I’ve been bothered by injured shoulders that have prevented me from doing most pressing exercises including pushups.

There was a time when I did pushups several times a week as part of my fitness training. My favorite version was knuckle pushups which are popular among martial artists because they condition your knuckles, work wrist stability and forearm muscles, and are slightly more challenging because of an extra range of motion.

Every now and then I’ve attempted to do some pushups and stopped each attempt immediately because my shoulders were telling me that they were not ready.

Yesterday, after a 14-hour work day and another missed fitness training day at my gym, I decided to drop down to my office floor and give my favorite pushups a try. A smile on my face is how it all ended as I was able to bang out a set of 25 knuckle pushups.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, April 12, 2010

Do nothing as I see fit

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For as long as I’ve been doing the work I do and the challenges of a very tough seasonal work schedule that concludes on April 15th, I’ve always taken the following day off and that’ll be the case this upcoming Friday. I’m looking forward to it.

Three years ago, it was the day my wife and I left for a 17-day vacation to Rome, Italy. There was much excitement of jumping on an airplane and crossing the Atlantic the day after my busy season ended but in hindsight, it was too exhausting because of the "vagabond" way we prefer to travel. It took forever for me to recover from that combination once we returned home and I haven’t done anything like that since.

I’m not sure what I did last April 16th other than take the day off and just smell the roses. That’s how simple it’ll be this Friday for it’s a promise I’ve made to myself. Last year we did go to Mexico City the last week of April, but that was after a week of rest and recovery to “heal” from the work-related abuse to which I’d been subjected.

There are so many people who have been waiting for my attention and a list of neglected chores to eventually tackle, not to mention restoring some regularity to my middle-age man fitness training. All that will wait for at least one day longer because Friday will be my day to rest and do nothing as I see fit.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Get you going

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It’s Sunday so I’m taking a rest; tomorrow will be busy and I want to be my best.

Today there’s a calmness of my body, mind and soul; observing the Lord’s Day is my only goal.

So that means Pierini Fitness is closed once again; but rest assured it’s not the end.

Return tomorrow very early in your day; you’ll enjoy my blogflection and what I have to say.

The topic I’m not sure of for it’s not been created; rest assured it will be original and most definitely top rated.

At Pierini Fitness you will always find some creative “knowing”; to jump start your day and get you going.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oh, the joy to see you come!

This afternoon, I’m attending a memorial service for a good friend who passed away about six weeks ago. Below is the passage from a sympathy card I sent his wife last month. It really touched me and I’m sure it’ll do the same to you. Read it as if someone you know who passed away – a beloved family member or dear friend – is whispering the message to your soul.

Safely Home

I am home in Heaven, dear ones; Oh, so happy and so bright! There is perfect joy and beauty in this everlasting light.

All the pain and grief is over, every restless tossing passed; I am now at peace forever, safely home in Heaven at last.

Did you wonder I so calmly trod the valley of the shade? Oh! But Jesus' love illumined every dark and fearful glade.

And He came Himself to meet me in that way so hard to tread; and with Jesus' arm to lean on, could I have one doubt or dread?

Then you must not grieve so sorely, for I love you dearly still; try to look beyond earth's shadows, pray to trust our Father's Will.

There is work still waiting for you, so you must not idly stand; do it now, while life remaineth - you shall rest in Jesus' land.

When that work is all completed, he will gently call you Home; Oh, the rapture of that meeting, Oh, the joy to see you come!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, April 9, 2010

Unable to deliver today

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Visit us tomorrow because Pierini Fitness is taking an unscheduled day off. The chief executive blogger is knee deep in his work and unable to deliver today.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Everyone is scared of something

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Monday morning at 3:00 a.m. - about one hour before my busy work season wake-up time - a knock on our bedroom door awakened my wife and me. It was a young man who is temporarily residing in our home. He's young enough to be a young son; actually he is 8 years younger than our son. My wife and I are lending him a helping hand because he's experencing difficult times right now and we’ve opened our home and hearts to him.

His knock on the door was accompanied by calling out my wife’s name. There was something about the tone of his voice that we both sensed he was scared. My wife got out of bed while I tried to catch another hour of scarce sleep before beginning another marathon work day at my office.

It turned out that he was terrified by mental images that danced in his head, perhaps from a bad dream and/or recent events in his currently-challenged life. Whatever it was doesn’t matter but only that he felt scared at the moment and needed some comfort. I must admit that our large two-story 105-year old home could make someone feel scared, particularly a trip to our basement or being home alone at night.

Tuesday evening, my wife and I talked about this young man’s experience and what it feels like to be afraid or scared of someone or something. As a young boy, I remember being scared to go upstairs at night when we lived in an old two-story home much like the one we live in now. I remember turning on every light possible in my nighttime trip from our first story living room to my second story bedroom.

Other past scary experiences I’ve had came to memory in our conversation. I’m sure just about everyone from my generation has a scary memory of the first time they saw the Wicked Witch of the West from the classic Wizard of Oz movie. Years later as an adult, I remember when I learned that the actress who played this witch-character had died. In a conversation with a secretary in my office, I made a jestful comment that there now wasn’t a person on the earth that I feared.

Well I wasn’t telling the truth because the truth is that however tough we are both mentally and physically, everyone is scared of something.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is that all?

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Yesterday I stumbled across this in my early morning speed-surf on the internet for what’s going on in the world – one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day can help teens beat the effects of a common obesity-related gene with the nickname”fatso”. This is according to a new European study by a research team of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden that appears in the April edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

This research confirms that children and teenagers should get an hour or more of physical activity daily.

Children and teenagers of my generation would have shouted their reaction to this prescription of one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day with a loud "Is that all?"

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Light at the end of my tunnel

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There are nine more days of hard work for me and my busy work season will be over so, once again, that makes me a single digit midget that I wrote about last year at this time.

Some people mistakenly believe that those who do this kind of work are done working after April 15th. Nothing could be further from the truth, but my truth is that the remainder of the year is a wonderful work lifestyle.

After a grueling March during which I worked 263 hours, right now I’m feeling better about things for there is hope and light at the end of my tunnel.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, April 5, 2010

My "Charles Atlas business card"

 As a kid growing up, I read lots of comic books and part of my ritual was reading – over and over – the Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension Course ads that appeared on the inside cover. Ask any middle-age man if they did this too and their answer will almost always be a guaranteed yes.

Charles Atlas made millions of dollars selling his Dynamic Tension exercise course, appealing to a market of insecure young boys who wanted to be bigger and stronger. His “Mac the 97-lb. weakling” comic that appeared in these ads was a classic and genius marketing strategy that played on the insecurities of his young boy targeted market. A photo of a strong and young-looking Charles Atlas flexing his muscles and wearing a pair of leopard-design swimming trunks was also part of his comic book ads.

I once remember telling my Dad that I wanted to be fit and strong like Charles Atlas in the comic book ad photo. At that time, I honestly believed that was how he looked. Well my jaw dropped when my Dad dropped a bomb on me that the photo was an old one and Charles Atlas was about 80-years old. His comment stunned me and made me feel like I had just been punched in the stomach or told that the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus weren’t real.

About 17 years ago, I got the bright idea to have my photo on my business card so I had a professional photographer client take some photos of me wearing a suit and tie. When I selected the photo that would be used, I “announced” that it would be the one and only photo on my business card for the rest of my career.

To this day, that photo of me – a 38-year young little business man - still appears on my “Charles Atlas business card”.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter Sunday 2010!

Pierini Fitness is closed today in celebration and observance of Easter Sunday. Visit tomorrow for another early-morning blogflection about a topic not yet determined but guaranteed to be creative and original.

Happy Easter Sunday 2010!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sabbatum Sanctum

“The women saw how His body was laid; and they prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:55-56

Today is Holy Saturday (Latin: Sabbatum Sanctum), the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter. This day commemorates the day that Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb.

Pierini Fitness is closed in observance of Sabbatum Sanctum.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, April 2, 2010

Abstinence, fasting, penance and prayer

Like last year, Pierini Fitness is closed in observance of Good Friday.

I’m also taking the day off from work for a solemn day of abstinence, fasting, penance and prayer.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The path north is a long journey

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My abbreviated fitness training’s venue continues at a different location this week again at my Dad’s house where I am going each day after work to lend him a helping hand. He was in an auto accident on Saturday and definitely on the mend with a very bruised and sore sternum.

Tuesday’s workout was brief like Monday and again took place in his garage using his squat rack and Olympic bar and plates. Still on the mend myself in the shoulder department, I decided to do barbell overhead press work from the squat rack using light weight. I completed eight sets of overhead presses with the following weights (in lbs.) and reps: 45x5 – 45x5 – 45x5 - 65x5 – 75x5 – 85x 5 – 95x3 – 95x3.

These lightened loads are a far cry from the 145 lbs. I’ve done in the past for a single rep but I was able to complete this quick workout without any shoulder discomfort. This quick “something is better than nothing” workout made me feel good but also made me realize that the path north is a long journey.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Never made it to the gym on Monday

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Life continues to get in my way of making it the gym. I wasn’t able to get there on Monday as planned, the topic of Monday’s blogflection at Pierini Fitness. My 83-year young Dad was in an automobile accident on Saturday and I’m spending the evenings at his home trying to lend him a helping hand. He has a very bruised and sore sternum from crashing it into the steering wheel of his car.

This couldn’t have happened at a more difficult time for me with my busy work schedule but stuff happens. I’m grateful for my wife who is helping him while I’m at work in the daytime.

At my Dad’s home after work on Monday, at about the time I would have been at the gym, I went into his garage where he has a squat rack and an Olympic bar and plates and completed four sets of barbell Olympic-style back squats and concluded with a single set of front squats.

It wasn’t much but it was something which is better than nothing since I never made it to the gym on Monday.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A mixed message about our economy

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Last Friday evening after another long day of work, my wife and I took a "passeggiata" in our neighborhood. A passeggiata is the Italian “art”, social ritual and tradition of taking a walk – actually a gentle stroll – in the evening. We learned of this daily pastime and joined the crowds during our many trips to Italy.

We live in an eclectic and gentrified neighborhood referred to as “midtown” that is two blocks from Sutter’s Fort - a pivotal point in California and Sacramento history – and one mile from the State Capitol. It’s a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with many eating and drinking establishments, hair style salons, boutique retail stores, tattoo parlors and the latest trend in business establishments of medicinal marijuana dispensaries (that’ll be the topic of a blogflection on a different day). Young and middle-age people of all socio-economic circles like to come and hang out or loiter in midtown on the weekends because there’s more action to be had than in the sleepy suburbs where many of them reside.

People watching is an integral part of my passeggiata and I couldn’t help but notice how festive everyone seemed to be as we walked past restaurants with outdoor seating. I’ve been there and done that and know the power of a TGIF-mindset with an alcoholic drink in hand. Some had their other hand occupied with a cigarette smoke in progress. Money was definitely being spent and a good time appeared to being had by all.

Taking it all in perspective made me wonder if these people represented but a small privileged slice of my community who had all their bills and taxes paid, health insurance policy cards in their wallets, and “rainy day slush fund accounts” fully funded. Or perhaps this crowd was a representative cross-section of my community that is struggling economically but out, nonetheless, for an evening of drowning their sorrowful plight with some Friday evening food and spirits.

What I saw that evening gave me a mixed message about our economy.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another 20 minutes to spare in my day

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Last week I was only able to get to my gym once for a workout on Monday afternoon. Leaving the office later than expected and wanting to be good on my promise to be home by a certain time, my workout was a whopping 20 minutes long. It was a variation of one that I’ve done many times consisting of six sets of barbell front squats in combination with a different set of pullups or chinups from my 6-grip pullup/chinup medley.

Well today is Monday and it’s one week later so that means it’s time for another gym visit. As busy as I am there’s certainly another 20 minutes to spare in my day.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, March 28, 2010

To the nearby neighborhood park

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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 not yet determined but guaranteed to be original.

Basking in some moderate and pleasant springtime sunshine and breathing fresh outdoor air sure sound good so one of my few orders of the day will be to take a relaxing stroll down the tree-lined streets of my neighborhood to the nearby neighborhood park.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tug of war challenge

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At this moment, the demands for my time are so overwhelming that I wish there were 48 hours in a day and that, if there were, I could get by on four hours of sleep in that 48 hour day.

Trying to keep everyone happy seems to be my exclusive tall task right now. It isn’t easy and sometimes I fall short but continue trying in my eternally-optimistic mindset.

Right it seems like I’m a rope that two dogs are pulling on in a tug of war challenge.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, March 26, 2010

Get clipped as I sleep

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This is the time of year when many things get put on hold due to the long hours I’m working right now. I’ve written about how my fitness training is suffering but I’m okay with that because I have lots of fitness stored in reserve that will last me until things return to normal.

But I do need a haircut and other than thinking about it, I don’t expect to get one until after April 15th. While I’ve never been a “pretty boy”, despite my busyness I always find time for a daily hot shower and shampoo but sit on the sidelines of the grooming landscape with slightly unkempt hair and a moustache. I just don’t have the time right now to sit in the chair for a clip and chit-chat with my barber about the problems of the world.

That is unless I can convince my barber to make a nighttime house call for me to get clipped as I sleep.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I still can't do one pushup

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My shoulder has been on the mend longer than I’d like and longer than any time in my fitness training past. I really don’t think it’s anything serious and it will eventually totally heal on its time and not mine.

This keeps me from doing most pressing or overhead exercises, including pushups. There was a time when I did lots of pushups, primarily on my knuckles for an added challenge and range of motion. Believe it or not, I yearn to do a pushup and have periodically tried only to find my shoulder muscle to brain communication system immediately aborts my effort.

Yesterday morning at the crack of dawn at my office, before submerging myself in another marathon work session, I dropped to the floor to try again. Once again, I was frustrated that I still can't do one pushup.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What we had for breakfast

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It’s as frequent a daily occurrence as my morning shave and that is a moment of middle-age man memory fog or, as one of my clients calls it, a case of CRS (can’t remember stuff). It goes with the turf at this stage of my life and I find comfort knowing I’m not alone. There’s also extra comfort to be had when witnessing younger people go blank in the mental memory department although the reasons for their fog are probably different than mine.

I’m aware of the difference between short-term and long-term memory loss, the former being what periodically “afflicts” me while the latter is a symptom of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. The short-term stuff can be further stratified into a couple other non-scientific categories.

There’s “selective forgetfulness” that my wife reminds me I have when it comes to things I’ve promised to do or not do again. She reminds me that I don’t have a memory problem because I always seem to remember to find time to exercise and relax. This is true.

There is also aloofness, absent-mindedness or carelessness that seems to be different. Take my wife, for example, who is constantly “losing” her cell phone or car keys. I don’t believe it’s a memory problem when she “loses” her keys. The truth of the matter is that she has seldom ever lost anything and neither do we; rather, we momentarily forget where we’ve placed our lost items.

Why do I take joy when witnessing another middle-age comrade in a thick moment of memory loss? Maybe it’s the internal laughter that kicks off endorphins in my mind, much like a runner who experiences a “runner’s high”. Or maybe it’s because I get momentary relief from my own memory-lapse misery, finding delight in someone else’s plight.

Yet in the same breath, I always rise to the occasion and help my memory loss-stricken comrade by guiding him or her out of that deep fog they are experiencing, much like a father coaching his son or daughter take their first ride on that training wheels-free shiny red bicycle. My “you can do it” comforting facial expression provides emotional food for the soul for my forgetful comrades when looking in their eyes, as I remain ever so patient like when listening to someone who stutters with their speech.

Eventually, that person, as do I, comes out of the dark bottom of this forgetfulness abyss and is able to complete the thought that, moments earlier, had vanished in bright daylight. As they or I bask in our glory that we were able to pull it off once again, I always conclude the bonding experience that we just had with a comment that always brings a laugh – that all is well if we can remember what we had for breakfast.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Should there be any difference?

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The other day I stumbled across the topic of “survival dieting” on an internet fitness forum. The person who started the topic was thinking about a popular belief he had read that the United States is headed for continued economic and possibly political meltdown. In his pondering, the thought of how much food would be necessary to survive for one week, keeping nutrition as high as possible, cost as low as possible, and not being in a starvation mode.

He went on to pose the question that if you had a $20 bill, or even a $10 bill, what would you bring home from the grocery store? Good discussion followed in response to his question and aroused my curiosity. On Sunday, I posed this question to my wife who, interestingly, has been trying to get my attention for some time to have a similar mindset. Maybe I’m a bit too optimistic for my own good, but I don’t buy this “doom or gloom” picture. Nonetheless, it made for a good Sunday afternoon discussion.

The opposite of my “if more is good then most must be better” mindset kicked in during this discussion when I asked my wife if she thought we could survive on $5 per person for a week – or $10 for the both of us. My question was in the context of food consumption and not food purchase because eating for less would require purchasing some food in larger quantities and this would require a greater initial cash investment.

Not being the primary shopper for family groceries, my knowledge of food prices is rusty, but I started thinking about the cost of the food I would select and doing some mental math. My wife’s thoughts were that $5 per person a week would be difficult but $10 per person was achievable.

Then she dropped a bomb on me with “Why don’t we try it?”

“Gasp!” uttered the man who prides himself with his intermittent fasting lifestyle of eating less, while thinking about what to snack on next during this lazy Sunday afternoon.

Maybe one day soon I’ll be up to the challenge of giving survival dieting a test, but until then it’s made me think about the way I eat day in and day out and the way I would eat with survival dieting.

Should there be any difference?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, March 22, 2010

Load my brain

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Yesterday, I was enjoying my first Sunday of Spring 2010 and all was well until Congress decided to go to work and take a vote.

I'll have more to say in about one week because before shooting my mouth, I'm going to load my brain.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In dojo heaven

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Today is Sunday and Pierini Fitness is normally closed so the chief executive blogger can rest his body, mind and spirit. Today, however, I’ll share memories of Sensei Ken Kuch, my karate brother from a different mother who passed away last month. He's the person on the left on the book cover in the photo.

This afternoon, I’m attending an informal Sensei Ken Kuch “Pizza Memorial” with my other dojo siblings to reflect on the memories we all have of our departed comrade. The following are my memories that I’ve collected in preparation to attend this memorial.

Sensei Ken Kuch began his karate training in the late 1960s as a teenager under the instruction of Steve Fox of Ed Parker’s International Kenpo Karate Association. He trained diligently and rose to the rank of first degree black belt in that system.

Eventually, Sensei Ken Kuch stumbled across Sensei Ron MCausland, a black belt of Takayuki Kubota’s International Karate Association (IKA). Sensei McCausland had relocated from IKA headquarters to start an IKA dojo in Sacramento. After a humbling sparring session and being on the receiving end of Sensei McCausland’s delivery of hard and fast Gosoku-ryu karate, Sensei Ken Kuch picked himself off the floor and decided at that moment to take off his kenpo black belt and replace it with a white belt as a new student of Sensei McCausland.

Sensei Ken Kuch trained hard under Sensei McCausland and quickly rose to the rank of shodan. One day Sensei McCausland asked Sensei Ken Kuch how far he wanted to go with his training and he replied that he wanted to be the best he could be and advance to higher dan rankings with diligent and progressive training. Sensei McCausland told him that he would need to train at the IKA headquarters with Soke Takayuki Kubota to achieve his goals.

True to his passion, that is exactly what Sensei Ken Kuch did. He quit his job, packed his modest material possessions along with his karate gi and relocated to southern California to train at IKA headquarters. He trained hard and diligently and rose to the rank of yondan before returning back to his northern California roots in 1988 where he settled in El Dorado Hills with his new wife.

He soon connected with some local IKA karateka who had trained years earlier with Sensei McCaulsand. This small group regularly trained in a room at a local gymnastics academy. Sensei Ken Kuch took charge of leading this group and they eventually relocated their “dojo” to the park and recreation district in El Dorado Hills. Sensei Ken Kuch instructed IKA-style Gosoku-ryu karate to a dedicated and loyal group of adults and children in the evenings on Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday morning for over 20 years.

New Year Day workouts and annual trips to the IKA headquarters dojo were regular activities of Sensei Ken Kuch and his small group of dojo brothers from a different mother and dojo sisters from a different mister as they continued to diligently train and gracefully age.

Sensei Ken Kuch continued to train regularly and seldom missed a workout even as he began experiencing health problems a couple years ago. He trained the Tuesday evening prior to his death on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at the too-young age of 60 years young.

One of his shodan disciples had this to say about Sensei Ken Kuch: “I especially enjoyed his advanced classes on Saturday's. He would demonstrate his 'signature' combination techniques. And I was always mesmerized with his speed and coordination of the beautifully choreographed moves and amazed that his techniques was always evolving and ever changing. “

Another student shared these thoughts in remembering Sensei Ken Kuch “. . . by picturing in my mind how he held his body and how he moved, the way he held his hands and the way they were when he blocked, his foot sweep, his steely glaze, and his kindness.”

Rest in peace Sensei Ken Kuch and we look forward to being reunited with you in dojo heaven.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Research study in progress

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Yesterday morning I awakened and looked at the clock, learned that it was 4:30 a.m. and asked myself whether I should sleep for another 30 minutes to one hour, or get up and get ready for work. My split-second answer was go get up and get going for there was much to do waiting for me at my office.

My morning ritual meeting with the mirror - to say hello to that 16-year old kid that every middle-age man sees when looking in the mirror - was an eye-opener when I met this puffy-faced character who looked like he had been stung in the face by a swarm of bees. I managed to silently greet myself with a good morning hello while admiring the serious bags resting below my eyes, an all too-familiar morning image lately. I had gone to bed around 11:30 p.m. the night before and awakened from a quick five hour sleep.

It wasn’t the first night this week of my too-short session with “Mr. Sandman” because I’ve been working on a serious sleep deficit all week, and this will likely continue for another four weeks. It goes with the turf this time of year with my busy work season.

It also brings back memories of when I was in the military 35-years ago and still trying to conquer the “manual labor” of getting up early and going to work every day. Every workday, I’d wake up tired as can be and tell myself that I was going straight to bed after work. Later, when returning from work, I’d rest a little, take a shower, get a second-wind, and then go out with my friends for some evening action. Before I knew it, it was late and I'd get to bed late again. It was a vicious cycle that ended only when I was so dead-tired that I "crashed” into a deep-sleep stupor like a drunken sailor who had been sucker punched in a nightclub brawl.

There are similarities between then and now. In both cases, despite being slow for the first five to ten minutes upon awakening, I’m an early bird for the most part. My brain awakens and is ready to go and capable of sustaining a high degree of productivity for long hours. I’m grateful for this gift from God.

But any way you look at it, I’m sporting a sleep deficit that is growing by the day. I wonder how long it will be before I crash. Time will answer my question but, until then, this is a sleep-deficit research study in progress.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, March 19, 2010

Somebody has got to do it

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Sometimes I wonder if my daily blogflections are sufficiently fitness-oriented to support the Pierini Fitness banner. After all, Pierini Fitness was originally conceived as this middle-age man’s cyberspace chronicle of his journey down the superfitness highway in the fast lane. Is that still true? Perhaps I’m not the fitness animal I use to be.

Maybe this calmer, older and wiser me’s calling card is no longer the fitness stuff he does and knows, but other stuff; hence a growing trend of daily blogflections sharing middle-age man words of wisdom and occasional economic and political thought. Whatever the "blogflection de jour" happens to be, your caveat is to read everything I write at your own risk because I’m an expert of nothing and make no guarantees.

My lingering wonder could be solved if Pierini Fitness became only my cyberspace training journal where I diligently record my workouts with details about exercises performed, weights used and sets and reps completed. I’ve shared those details in a few of my blogflections but that stuff is not what drives me to show up every morning with cyber-pen in hand ready to compose.

This chief executive blogger thrives on composing blogflections expressing my thoughts and opinions about "this and that" and knowing that they are not dependent upon whether or not you believe them.

It’s this insatiable itch to honorably serve as the self-appointed “ambassador of middle-age men around the world and advocating their interests and expressing their views of the way life was, the way life is and the way life should be."

Somebody has got to do it.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Within striking distance of our best

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On Tuesday, friend who is a financial advisor to one of my clients stopped by my office for an impromptu visit. I’ve known my friend since college and one of our common interests as of late is middle-age man fitness. We are about the same age.

My friend was sharing his comments about my The Pierini DIET book and my previous exercise suggestion that the ab plank is really the only exercise necessary to work his ab/core musculature. We talked about other middle-age man diet and fitness stuff during his 20-minute visit.

Perhaps because my training has been on the short side as of late due to work and my friend’s comment that he’s lost a little of earlier gains from disciplined eating and training, my concluding comment was that where he’s at and where I’m at may be good enough.

It’s not feasible or necessary to always be at our best – however we define our “best” – with the weights we lift, the number of reps we perform, or how our muscles appear to others and us. It’s more sustainable, however, to always be close to our best, much like a boxer who is within a few pounds of his fighting weight with one week to go before a fight. Or like the marathon runner who is within 50 meters of the leader who is pacing himself for the last 100 meters for a sprint finish to win the race.

Where is a good place to be with our fitness training, health and wellness in relation to our absolute best? What I advocate is that we be within striking distance of our best.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The medical care we need

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Today, with front page news everywhere of a soon “make or break vote” vote by Congress on President Obama’s health care overhaul, I’m taking a day off from my busy work schedule to accompany my wife to the San Francisco area for her doctor’s visit. She’s consulting with an expert we found and are paying with our own money after an extensive search last year.

In addition to missing a day of work - I’m self-employed so if I don’t work I don’t earn – today’s doctor’s visit will cost $295. She visits this doctor about three to four times a year. There’s lab work required for each visit and the lab work ordered for today’s visit was $155. The 240 mile round trip will cost some pocket change for fuel in the gas tank. The prescription medicine she is taking is relatively inexpensive so let’s add another $30 per month for it.

All these costs are paid by us because we’ve chosen a high-deductible health insurance plan to assume some risk to “save” money with a lower monthly premium of "only" $883 per month! It's real money we pay every month from our personal checking account.

Having said all this, you think I’d be tickled pink in favor of President Obama’s health care overhaul with its promises of making health care more affordable and available for Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We pay for our health care with our own money because we know there’s no such thing as a “free lunch”. We don’t expect our government to pay for our medical care, nor do we want our government to interfere or limit our choices of the medical care we seek.

What my wife and I have learned from these experiences is to be good consumers of medical care and this is no easy task. Take a nation and insist that its millions of people be good consumers of medical care and watch what happens. Medical care quality will improve and its cost will decrease.

The health care overhaul our nation needs is that which gives us ownership of our health care decisions, aware of its cost, and makes us shop smart for the medical care we need.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My last workout

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Last Friday I finally made it to the gym after an unplanned 11-day time-out. Work and other stuff kept me away from my training despite my often-repeated “something is better than nothing”.

My workout was simple yet challenging and excluded overhead and pressing work since my shoulders still bother me. It consisted of six sets of a combo of barbell squats followed by pullups/chin-ups. On odd-numbered sets, I did back squats and pullups and on even-numbered sets I did front squats and chin-ups. I stayed south of maximum loads for the squat work and maximum reps for the pullups and chinups.

Today I’m still sporting some lower-extremity muscle soreness from the squat work proving, once again, my middle-age man mantra that "I’m only as good as my last workout".

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, March 15, 2010

The fittest men resting in eternal peace

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Yesterday, in a desire for a tranquil and quiet afternoon in Sunday sunshine, my wife and I visited the oldest officially established graveyards in Sacramento, the Sacramento City Cemetery. It was established in 1849 with a donation of 10 acres by Captain John Sutter. A subsequent donation of land by Margaret Crocker in 1880 brought the Sacramento City Cemetery to its present size of about 60 acres.

The Sacramento City Cemetery is the resting place of more than 25,000 pioneers, immigrants, and their families and descendents. Among the notables who call it their “home” are the city’s founder Captain John A. Sutter, Jr. and other “big shots” from the early years of Sacramento and the Gold Rush Era.

Thousands of early settlers are buried in this historic cemetery representing the historical and cultural diversity of Sacramento with symbolic monuments of Victorian-era funeral customs. Many of the old graves of those of babies or children who died in floods because there were many floods in early Sacramento before the entire city was raised in order to escape river flooding. There were also lots of fires during these floods so there are lot of families buried here who died in the flames as well.

I’ve always been fascinated by cemeteries and have visited many in other cities and countries. My calculating-thirsty mind always wants to do the math as I walk past each gravesite and figure out how old the person was when they passed on from information etched on the tombstone. While people didn’t live as long as we do now, some nonetheless lived very long lives, making me wonder what their “secret” was.

Our visit was a very relaxing couple hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with wonderful sunshine providing a welcoming reminder that spring begins in about one week with flowers in blossom and birds chirping in a melody so pleasant to my ears, mind and spirit.

As our stay ended, thoughts entered my mind of coming back soon for another visit, and that one day I’ll make a one-way trip to St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery that will be my final resting place. Until that day comes, I’ll continue chasing good fitness and health to prepare me to be among the fittest men resting in eternal peace.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Sunday, March 14, 2010

See you on Monday

Pierini Fitness is closed today because it's Sunday so we'll see you on Monday.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Only 50 words

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About 500 words seem to be the approximate average length of many Pierini Fitness blogflections. I’ve been accused by some of being too “wordy”.

Lately, I’ve toyed with the idea of shorter daily blogflections so today is my first attempt to see what one looks like with only 50 words.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nothing I can do about it

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The passing of my karate Sensei has put me in touch with many whom I have not seen, talked or written to in a long time. As I’ve written before, why does it take a funeral to get us together?

One person I spoke to is someone who is about 10 to 15 years my senior, a dojo brother from a different mother with a lifetime of karate training. “How have you been doing?” I asked him during a recent telephone conversation. I liked his perspective-loaded simple answer.

He replied "I'm doing well but getting older and there’s nothing I can do about it."

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A fitness training drought

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Regular readers of Pierini Fitness are familiar with its diverse delivery of daily blogflections about middle-age man fitness and reflective ramblings, and occasional economic and political thoughts. Some regular readers may be wondering why the fitness-related stuff has been in short supply as of late. This is an official explanation.

From the author of something is better than nothing, the demands of a busy tax season work schedule have substantially curtailed this middle-age man fitness dude’s training for the past 10 days and he is experiencing, for lack of a better term, a fitness training drought.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A quick $200 per month?

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Some of my newest clients are young adult children of longstanding clients. I’m enjoying the challenge of responding to their youthful adult needs and their thirst to learn from my sage financial and tax wisdom.

Last Saturday I met with a young couple and the topic of budgeting came up in our discussion. They were thirsty for knowledge and tips. They wanted to know if they should contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement account to save taxes.

Upon further discussion I learned that, in addition to a home loan, they both had car loans and a student loan from recently-completed graduate school. Furthermore, their savings had been recently depleted, to an unsafe three-digit amount, for a bathroom remodel. She was pregnant expecting their first child in a few months.

“Can you survive and pay the cost of doing business as a family if one of you lost your income?” I asked to which they replied no they could not.

So my advice was to forego tax-advantaged retirement contributions at this time and instead concentrate on rebuilding a prudent financial reserve, eliminating unnecessary discretionary spending and paying off their auto and student loans. Tax-advantaged retirement savings will come later is what I told them.

With regard to eliminating unnecessary discretionary spending, I encouraged them to examine the amount they spend on food and beverages as this is an area where we can all cinch our financial belt a notch or two.

After they left, the shadow of the advice I had given them began to shine in my face as I wondered how much more “fat” could be shed from this hyper-frugal middle-age man’s spending to supplement the great job that his hyper-frugal spouse is already doing. I quickly came up with three “opportunities”.

For starters, I could eliminate my morning stop at Starbuck’s and save $2 per day. If I replace this with buying and making my own, I estimate a monthly savings of $40.

I could reduce our weekly church contribution from $50 to $25 and save another $100 per month.

I could continue my intermittent fasting lifestyle which I estimate reduces my food consumption by about 30 to 40 percent. I’m not sure how much it costs to feed this middle-age man beast if I eat like most middle-age man beasts. For the sake of this blogflection, let’s say $200 per month so a 30 percent reduction in food consumption saves $60 per month.

I’m not saying that I’ll do any of these but they are there for the taking if it ever becomes necessary. How’s that for a quick $200 per month?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Belated tears in my eyes

Last Sunday during Mass, I offered up my Holy Communion for the repose of the soul of my departed karate Sensei who passed away ten days earlier. He's on the right in the front row of the photo.

If you aren’t a Catholic, you may not understand what this means and, unfortunately, I don’t have the time to explain it right now.

Returning back to my pew, I knelt and offered more prayers for the soul of my departed dojo brother from a different mother. Here’s a non-church setting rendition by legendary musicians Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan of the post communion hymn, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, that was being sung by all in attendance:

Up until this moment, a very rational and stoic mindset had “protected” me from some of the feelings stored in my heart that were released along with belated tears in my eyes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, March 8, 2010


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From childhood memories of viewing episodes of the weekly television series Rin Tin Tin and Lassie, I’ve always liked dogs. I’ve owned dogs before but currently do not. The horror stories I listen to from clients and friends about their pets’ vet bills scare this hyper-frugal chief executive blogger.

Personally, I like to pet or engage in small talk with the dog of a friend or neighbor, enjoy its “company” and then walk off into the sunshine in joy from the pleasant experience. I also know how much companionship pets provide their owners such as the elderly who live alone or adults who have not been blessed with children.

Pets are respected members of a civilized society and should be free from abuse from owners or anyone else. Proposed legislation, however, by a California lawmaker that would require the names of California felony animal abusers to be placed in a registry like sex offenders and arsonists is another example of special interest groups and politicians looking to government to solve problems that are best left to the private sector.

The legislation, if passed, would put a levy on pet food of three cents a pound, estimated to be about $1.50 a year for the owner of one cat. What’s a levy? That’s a politician’s word for “tax”.

What’s next if this becomes law? Will some politician propose legislation to put a levy on pet owners who allow their dogs to relieve themselves when passing a public fire hydrant? How about a levy on owners who allow their dogs to bark in public? The levy – I mean tax – opportunities are endless. Maybe it’s the only solution that elected leaders of our cash-starved State of California could think of during these tough economic times.

My immediate reaction is to shake my head in disgust and utter “doggone!”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum