Monday, July 16, 2012

Your son, eternally

I've been trying for some time to get my soon-to-be 86 year young Dad to write something to share here; he has so many great yesteryear stories and reflections about the life he lived in his journey down the superfitness highway in the fast lane.

One day soon I hope he will debut as the first old man to serve as a guest blogger at Pierini Fitness.  

Until his debut, here's a poem he recently wrote to his father - my grandfather - who went home to his Heavenly Father almost 40 years ago.

To Dad

Damn it dad, why did you go?
You told me one-hundred, and I believed you,
And all that went in to making you,
But you "tripped" before your time.

I remember the day, when I misbehaved,
And you placed your strong hand on my shoulder.
I may have wept.

But you are gone now, but not the hand,
Which, on this cold night, I kneel to kiss.

Eddie, your son, eternally

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Watermelon on his plate

I don't know what it's like in your part of the world but in mine it's finally hot as in temperature and that means watermelon season.

Actually, it's been watermelon season for a while in my world as I've never allowed mild temperature to keep me from overeating one of my favorite foods.

Watermelon is a gift from God so powerful that it can make a believer out of an atheist.

This watermelon season I've decided to only eat the watermelon I remember as a child - the seeded kind; anything else is genetically-modified and not as mother nature intended watermelon to be.

I've also decided to not let a soft economy prevent me from eating the best there is.  Lately I've been buying organic seeded watermelons at my local food cooperative known for its high prices.

Some people think I'm foolish to pay 69 cents a pound for it to which I reply that I only live once and deserve the finer things at this point in my middle-age man life.  I've got to splurge on something; besides, I can always buy cheap gas for my car to offset the cost of the gold standard watermelons I'm eating.

Put it right up there with bacon and beef jerky as bona-fide middle-age man snack food.

We grew up being told that the cereal Wheaties was the breakfast of champions and I'm here telling you right now that watermelon is the middle-age man fruit of champions.  A daily man-sized serving of it will keep you able to piss over a six-foot fence, one of the five tests that make up my middle-age man health and wellness exam.

Some men grab a beer for heat relief on a hot summer day but this middle-age man would rather have a big slice of watermelon on his plate.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Yes I will do it!

Recent blogflections here have shared my journey of being a retired runner who has come out of retirement with a goal by the end of this summer of running a 6:30 mile on an outdoor track.

I began my journey seven weeks ago on May 17th with a slow one mile run at about a 10 minute mile pace at a local park.  Training one to two days a week, primarily on the treadmill, last evening I had my first timed trial on an outdoor track when I ran the 1,500 meter distance at a local all comers track meet at the high school I attended 40 years ago.

How did I do?  I'm glad you asked.

I crossed the 1,500 meter finish line in 6:32 which is about a 6:57 mile.  My split times were 1:30 for 400 meters, 3:15 for 800 meters, 5:15 for 1,200 meters and 6:32 for 1,500 meters.

I went out too fast for the first lap, struggled for the third lap and ran about the correct pace for the second lap and final 300 meters of the race.  This proved to me and anyone else interested that despite the lack of reality of treadmill training, I'm capable of matching my best treadmill performance on the outdoor track.  One week earlier I ran one mile on the treadmill in 7:00 in my best treadmill performance since coming out of retirement.

The last day of summer this year is Friday, September 21st or 11 weeks to this day so I've got plenty of training time left to chase my end of summer goal.  Right now I'm feeling pretty good about last evening's effort and my training thus far.  Will I achieve my goal?  Yes, I will do it!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Right around the corner

Here's me from three years ago in a video I call the plyometric power over pushup using a medicine ball take 2. It's my second video performing this pushup variation exercise.  I haven't done these since then for various reasons such as a shoulder injury, a wrist injury and lack of interest due to laziness to name a few.

Looking at these older videos of stuff I've done in the past but not lately motivates me to challenge myself with some exercises such as this that require an above-average skillset. Perhaps a future video of plyometric power over pushups take 3 is right around the corner.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, June 22, 2012

Let me know what you think

My current approach to cardio training is short duration and high intensity workouts lasting about 10 minutes or less.  Here's one of my favorite workouts for your viewing pleasure:

If you currently enjoy an above-average level of fitness conditioning, give this workout a try and let me know what you think.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I'll find out in two weeks

About four weeks ago I announced that I was a retired runner who was coming out of retirement with a goal of running a 6:30 mile on the track by the end of summer. I wrote this sitting on the comfort of my behind. Belching out lofty goals is easy in this position just as it is to be a Monday morning quarterback or a backseat driver.

My training is moving along slowly and perhaps a little slower than ideal but that is the price I pay to avoid training injury. For me and my calculating mind, it’s all about simple and well-thought progressions in the pace and duration of my running training. I know to run faster I must train faster so I don’t do that trotting type of pleasure running that some people do. I’ll take a nice walk if I want that kind of pleasure.

I’ve done some outdoor running but have yet to visit the track for a workout; I’m not ready yet. To the dismay of many real runners, I’ve chosen the treadmill for its safety and speed precision to work on “perfect pace management”, the key to running a smart race. I tested myself last week and ran a 7:18 mile on the treadmill at a one percent incline. When I consistently can do this distance at a 6:45 pace, I’ll be ready for track training to close in on my 6:30 goal.

Some people comment that running on the treadmill is easier than running on the road or track and I agree but I know, based on past experience, that I can cover a given distance on both in about the same time with my best effort.

My first track timed trial to see where I’m at will be on July 5th at a local all comers track and field meet at the high school I attended many moons ago. An all-comers meet is a fun competition where anyone who has an interest in track and field events can compete – real track athletes and “ham and egger” types like me. A client and I will enter the 1,500 meter race distance and see what kind of middle-age man fitness shape we are in.

I may come in last place and that thought doesn’t bother me so long as I run my very best because I know that if I run my very best, I’ll complete that distance in a good time and move closer to my goal. I don’t have a clue what my race time will be but I’ll find out in two weeks.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Such a felonious act

For illustration purposes only.  This is
not Pierini's real 'stache, thank God!

I've had a mustache (‘stache) for as long as I can remember and the thought of not having one is something I can't comprehend.  I’m a proud card-carrying member of the American Mustache Institute, the world’s leading facial hair advocacy organization and think tank protecting the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, Mustached Americans by promoting the growth, care and culture of the lower nose forest. 

My calling to wear a ‘stache for life is genetically-inspired for I'm one from a long-line of Pierini men who lived most of their adult lives with manly hair between the bottom of their noses and the top of their lips.   My 85-year young Dad, to this day, still carries a “killer ‘stache”. 

To shave off my ‘stache would be to dishonor my Pierini surname so I’d probably have to change my name if I did so.  Personally, I can’t see myself being a Jones or a Smith; I prefer to be a Pierini and that comes at the duty of wearing a ‘stache as my coat of arms.

I must confess, though, that lately I’ve become tired of looking at the aging white and gray whiskers that have taken over my ‘stache.  To my frustration, I’ve discovered that no amount of exercise or diet seems to offer my ‘stache any hope of returning to its youthful self.  To make matters worse, my no juice policy prohibits me from ending my frustration with a chemical color enhancement so I'm stuck with what I have - unless I change my policy.  Changing my policy is something that I’m not ready to do. 

Might I one day change my current thinking in a moment of disgust and rage, grab my razor and ferociously end the long life of my elderly-looking grandpa fuzz ‘stache?  

I suppose anything is possible but right now the rage isn’t strong enough to make me resort to such a felonious act.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Like a splash of Old Spice

About one week ago an article appeared on the internet with a title that caught my attention; it was that old people do smell, but not that badly. As a middle-aged man who knows that old man land will soon be my mindscape, I had to go past the title and actually read the article.

Seems like a group of supposed scientists with nothing better to do conducted a study where study participants were given “whiffs” from pieces of pads worn under the armpits of young, middle-aged and elderly people for five consecutive nights. Researchers found that study participants were able to reliably distinguish the body odor of the elderly, who were 75 years and older.

Does this mean that this middle-age man can bellow a sigh of relief since he’s not 75 years or older, and does this also add validity to those private thoughts of “Grandpa you really do stink?”

Not quite as the participants rated the body odor of men to smell the worst and the strongest in middle age. “Those are fighting words” shouts this middle-age man, the self-proclaimed ambassador of all middle-age men of the world.

I’ve always been slightly skeptical of scientific research and know that the design and findings of research can be skewed by who funds it. Obviously this research was funded by women since the study found that the odor from women of all ages was rated as less intense than men, and closer to neutral smelling for the young and middle-aged. Do I hear the sound of the Avon lady calling?

Well this middle-age man is not buying any of this scientific research nonsense. Just as every middle-age man who looks in the mirror sees a 16 year old kid, we middle-aged men will always smell nice like a splash of Old Spice.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coming out of retirement again

For some time now, I’ve identified myself as a “retired runner” and have pretty much acted as one with the exception of an eight week “relapse” last August and September 2011 when I included some treadmill running with my gym training.

That treadmill work was once a week of running intervals (e.g. multiple rounds of 400 meter fast runs with short walking recovery periods) and a couple tests of the one mile distance for time. I wasn’t in running shape when I began but ended being in decent running shape for a hard one mile run.  I definitely wasn’t marathon material and certainly wasn’t in 5k or 10k fun run condition either.

After these intense weekly running gym sessions, I was finally able to run one mile on the treadmill in the decent time (for me) of 6:48. Then, for whatever reason I can’t remember right now, I got sidetracked or – to be kinder to myself - redirected to a different type of anaerobic cardio training and haven’t ran since.

With the weather getting nicer and summer not far away, I’ve had an “itch” to lace up my running shoes and hit the streets – or perhaps the park for a more middle-age man friendly running surface. Thoughts of visiting a high school that has an all-weather track has also entered my cluttered mind, along with the idea of buying a new pair of running shoes and a replacement battery for my currently inoperable heart rate monitor.

I know I’m out of running shape right now but I’ve been there before and know what’s necessary to get back in shape. I also know how to design smart running workouts that include intensity to prepare me for another one mile test.  For some reason, as I sit on my butt being ever so comfortable, the thought of running an outdoor mile in 6:30 seems like a lofty goal but one that motivates me.

Can I do it? Yes I believe I can run a mile in this time. Will I do it before the summer ends? Good question and who knows; certainly not me at this moment.

Last Thursday, I took the first step and bought a new pair of running shoes and then, later than afternoon, went out and ran an easy 10 minute one mile at a local park. It went pretty well and left me feeling energized and motivated. On Saturday, I bought a replacement battery for my heart rate monitor and did a treadmill running workout consisting of 400 meter intervals. My fastest 400 meter run was at a 7:30 mile pace, a far cry from where I need to be if I want to run that 6:30 mile.

So this means that I’m coming out of retirement again.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Middle-age Man Health & Wellness Exam

Since I pay for my own health insurance, I’ve chosen a high-deductible health insurance plan to lower the cost. My monthly premiums are lower and that saves me money but I’m responsible for a greater amount of medical expense before my insurance policy kicks in and that costs me money. I’m gambling that the premium savings will be greater than the out-of-pocket expenses I pay. My annual deductible – the amount that I pay before my insurance pays – is about $5,000.

Thus far, this policy has served me well. It has made me a better consumer of health care, and it has motivated me to have greater ownership of my health and wellness.

As a result of this motivation, I’ve created my own self-administered exam to periodically determine my middle-age man health and wellness. I’ve had fun sharing this exam with other middle-age men; today I’m sharing it with you.

First of all, know that I’m not a medical doctor so take what I say with a grain of salt and a good old-fashioned belly laugh.

This self-exam consists of five questions, all of which you answer yes or no. You need at least four yes answers to pass. Passing the exam means that I have good middle-age man health and wellness and, therefore, I don’t need to go to the doctor.

Again, I’m not a medical doctor so take what I’m sharing with a grain of salt and a good old-fashioned belly laugh. Like me, take ownership of your middle-age man health and wellness and decide if you need to go to the doctor.

So here’s the exam; again answer each question with a yes or no. “It depends” is not an acceptable answer.

First, at the end of the day, do you remember what you had for breakfast?

Second, can you walk up a single-story flight of stairs without being winded at the top?

Third, can you bend over and pick up something off the floor without throwing out your back or ripping the seat of your pants?

Fourth, can you get through a whole day without crapping your pants?

At this point, if you’re jumping with joy because you’ve answered these four questions with a yes answer, good for you because you’ve passed the exam regardless of whether you answer yes to the fifth and final question for a perfect score.

Drum roll please – fifth, can you piss over a six foot fence? Yikes! That’s a tough one.

Many middle-age men I’ve shared this exam with laugh hard at this last question. Some answer yes but most answer no to which I reply to those who answered yes to the first four questions, “No problem, buy a trampoline. Congratulations, you’ve passed the exam and are a middle-age man specimen of good health and wellness.”

So there you have it my cyberspace friends, the Pierini Middle-age Man Health and Wellness Exam.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 11, 2012

The things I used to do

As fit as this middle-age man thinks he is, I must confess there’s time I spend reflecting about my fitness performances from yesteryear that I’ll never do again.

These I classify into two categories. The first are those performances I could possibly repeat again but have made “business decisions” they aren’t worth the hard training effort. The second are those fitness performances I likely could not repeat even with my best effort of hard training.

An example of the former is the modest 160 lb. Olympic lift squat snatch that I achieved about three and one-half years ago. That may not be a lot of weight for even a lightweight average Joe Blow Olympic weightlifter but it’s an accomplishment of mine and I’m proud of it. I’m sure that is something I could do again – and perhaps surpass - if I put my mind to it and backed up my mind with some dedicated training and patience.

But I won’t, because I’ve made a “business decision” repeating that performance isn’t worth the training effort required to do so. I’m at peace with my modest accomplishment and have nothing else to prove to myself in that department. Besides, I’ve got a photo to cherish that memory.

An example of the latter is the fastest time I ran the 400 meter distance on a track. My distant memory is that my best time was 56 seconds when I was in the 9th grade. That’s about 42 years ago for those of you who like math.

I’m sure there’s some middle-age man track and field junkie out there who is capable of that feat who would beg to differ with me, and offer me encouragement that is something I could do if I made the training effort. I’ll stand by my assessment, nonetheless, that is a fitness performance I likely could not repeat even with my best training effort.

This reflective exercise of things I’ve done and can and can’t do now is not limited to fitness feats exclusively but also to career, relationships, travels and living on the edge. Take driving a car at 120 miles per hour. Is that something I could do right now if I put forth the effort? You bet it is but it’s not something that’s on my short list of things to do. It’s another one of my “business decisions”.

I must confess; I like sitting in my rocking chair reflecting about the things I used to do.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy birthday Mom!

Some middle-age men have experienced the death of one or both of their parents while others like me are fortunate to still have both their mother and father alive. This I’m enjoying but realize that one day they’ll be gone and I’ll miss them dearly.

But wait a minute; who am I to be so confident to think that I may not go first?

It’s more likely, though, that they’ll get called home to their Creator before me. One thing is certain and that’s all of our life-on-earth clocks are ticking one breath at a time and none of us should take anything for granted.

My Dad is 85-years young and if you ask him, he swears he’ll live to be 100. He shared with me that his father said the same thing so you can say his thinking is learned. His father, my grandfather, never made the century mark but I’m guessing he had fun trying as my Dad is also having fun trying.

Today is my Mom’s birthday and she is now 81 years young. She has developed a joy of going to the gym and exercising – often daily and sometimes at the oddest hours of the day and night – and, as a result is enjoying the fruits of her fitness labor with a current life of good health and wellness.

I’m blessed that today I can and will call and see my Mom and tell her, “Happy Birthday Mom!”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, May 4, 2012

I've been called it

Thus far in my life journey, I’ve worn many hats and have had many friendships and relationships with others. Closer to home, I am and have been a husband, father, son, grandson, great-grandson, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, and uncle.

Outside of family and home, I am and have been a classmate, college student, friend, soldier, veteran, karateka, fitness buff or dude, and co-worker to name a few. You do know that I’ve also proclaimed myself as the ambassador to middle-age men around the world. This ambassador stuff is serious business and I wear that hat with great honor and upmost responsibility.

This list is not all-inclusive but rather than add to it, I’ll stop while I’m ahead because I might forget where I was going with today’s blogflection.

And where was I going? Glad you asked. It was to list some of the adjectives and other descriptive expressions and terms that I’ve been called by others I’ve known in these friendships and relationships. Some are good and others are not so good. Let’ skip the good ones and focus on the bad ones as that might be a funnier read for you and, besides, good should be a given.

I’ve been called a jerk for starters. I’ve also been described as bad, dumb, mean, cruel, and callous to name a few. Want more? How about aloof, selfish, narcissistic, devious, evil, smart-ass, stupid and insensitive? I could go on and on but you get my point and see the picture that some have painted of me.

If movie ratings were used for the descriptions I’ve been called, I’m the owner of a few G ratings and many X-ratings.

For every day there is a night, for every action there is reaction, for every push there is a pull, for every positive there is a negative, for every yin there is a yang, and so on. That’s certainly also the case with what people have and do say about me.

While being on the receiving end of some of these more unfavorable descriptions, I’ve always had a quick response that I’d be worried if the only thing people had to say about me were good things.

What’s that all about? Is it another instance of a character defect rather than me acknowledging there’s something about me that needs work?

I’ll write about that on another day but for right now I’ll close by saying that if you can think of it, I’ve been called it.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The best of both worlds

My fitness training during the past decade has included extended multi-year periods where I trained exclusively with one method or the other but generally not both. The past year, however, has been different.

During one era, I trained with bodyweight-only exercises like pullups, bar dips, pushups, visualized resistance, and self-resistance exercises that did not require barbells, dumbbells or exercise machines.

This was high volume training – lots of sets and repetitions - with brief rest periods between sets. I generally trained every day. Running and karate training were the cardiovascular components of my training. Iron was out and to be avoided at all cost.

A fitness website I frequented for training ideas frowned on weight training like it was the Black Plaque, something that would destroy civilization and contribute to a debilitating condition known as “Busted-up Weightlifter Syndrome”. I was a bodyweight-only junkie during this era and maintained a respectable level of fitness training this way.

Then I discovered the fascinating world of Olympic weightlifting and decided to join that club and way of training. My bodyweight-only training came to an end as the rigors of good Olympic weightlifting training made it incompatible with a good bodyweight-only training program.

During this new era with the Olympic lifts, I used heavier weights for moderate sets of low repetitions, my rest periods between sets were longer, and my training frequency was about three times a week rather than daily. I also performed non-Olympic lift barbell auxiliary exercises and didn’t do much cardiovascular training.

I was an Olympic weightlifting junkie during this era. Like the bodyweight-only training era, I maintained a respectable level of fitness training with the Olympic lifts.

This past year, I’ve trained using both methods. My workouts begin with weightlifting of basic barbell exercises - overhead press and squat to name just two – using heavier (for me) loads for generally five sets of three repetitions. Afterwards, I perform two bodyweight-only exercises – pull-ups and bar dips - for about five to six sets with repetition volume that challenges my strength endurance abilities. I train about three times a week and end each workout with a short and intense anaerobic cardiovascular session ranging from five to 15 minutes. I’m maintaining a respectable level of fitness training this way.

What I’ve learned from my fitness journey this past decade is that there’s no one best training method to achieve and maintain a respectable level of fitness. It’s important to be on guard for a false mindset that one method is superior to the other or that one method is dangerous and inferior to be avoided at all cost.

Our training programs must match our personalities and often our training personalities change over time. However we train, we just have to show up and do the hard work to reap the fitness benefits of a respectable level of fitness.

The way I’m training now, I believe, is the best of both worlds.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In pursuit of gracefully aging

We read what interests us and I’m no exception.  At this middle-age man point in my life, I’ve taken an interest in literature popularly-described as “anti-aging”. It's not a term I invented; others did and I don’t like it.

You see, there’s nothing anti about aging in my book. It’s an activity of the highest order; something we all do breath by breath, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, and year by year. To live is to age and to age is to die.  It’s all been figured out and there’s nothing we can do to change it.

So what’s the meaning of anti-aging? It depends on who you ask.

According to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, until recently, medicine has presumed that there is little we can do to intervene the process of aging but new scientific data reveals otherwise. They further state that anti-aging medicine is a wellness-oriented model of advanced clinical preventive medicine devoted to achieving demonstrable and objective results that beneficially impact the degenerative disease of aging.

What the heck does that mean? Remember, I’m a middle-age man meathead and need to be talked to in a way that I can understand. I don’t understand that gobbledygook.

I’ve learned that anti-aging medicine is a field that is not recognized by established medical organizations, such as the American Board of American Specialties or the American Medical Association. That’s not a deal breaker for me since I’ve never been a fan of mainstream establishments. Still, I don’t like the term “anti-aging” for the reason stated above.

This anti-aging stuff, in my mind, falls under the umbrella that there's nothing new under the sun. What’s practiced now is not much different than the efforts of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon over 500 years ago in his futile search for the Fountain of Youth to cure his aging.

Longtime followers of Pierini Fitness know of my classic blogflection:

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

So true in the mindscape of middle-age men (and women) that it’s easy to understand why we have such an interest in this anti-aging stuff.

Still, I don’t like this “anti-aging” term and refuse to use it other than to describe that it exists in the literature that’s out there.

For me, I prefer to think that my efforts in chasing fitness, health and wellness are all in pursuit of gracefully aging.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pierini Fitness is back!

We express ourselves in different ways; some sing or play a musical instrument while others paint, dance or play in team sports. Women like to share intimate feelings and have “girl talk” with their girlfriends. Guys like to share tall tales with their buds about their imaginary or real life conquests.

What about me? Well I never could sing and never learned how to play a musical instrument. I can’t paint and my wife tells me I can’t dance. Maybe that’s why I always liked to dance to those slow songs.

I’ve never been much of a team sport player so that’s never been an expression medium for me. I did, however, find that my many years of martial arts training – particular kata – was a way in which I was able to express myself.

As a middle-age man, almost four years ago I discovered the fascinating world of cyberspace blogging and Pierini Fitness was born on August 28, 2008. It became the way in which I expressed myself with written cyberspace “blogflections” that allowed me to cough up and get out of my mind all the stuff that was taking up valuable mental bandwidth.

For the next 601 consecutive days, I expressed myself using the written word in daily blogflections that I posted here at Pierini Fitness. Then, suddenly, two years ago to this day, I announced I was calling it quits, in my final blogflection titled
The End.

So on this “I call it quits two year anniversary", here I am back at it, expressing myself again in cyberspace. I don’t believe I have the zeal to write something everyday like I did in the past but I do intend to do so at least once a week and maybe more. I’ve had lots of new experiences these past two years and I’m a couple years older – do the math; it’s true. There’s wisdom I’ve banked that needs to be shared, even if I’m the only one who reads what I have to say.

I’ll continue with my theme from the past and serve as the 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 way life should be. I’ll dabble in middle-age man fitness, reflections about living and dying from a middle-age man perspective, gracefully aging, and occasional utterances of political thought. I hope you’ll tune in to read what I have to say.

Check in tomorrow for another blogflection and thereafter, I'll see you at least once a week. Whether you want it or not, Pierini Fitness is back!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum