Friday, January 31, 2014

The rest of the story

My original idea for the front cover of my new book was an image of me looking in a mirror and seeing a reflection of a 16-year-old kid.  

After all that’s the title of my book and the first of its 50 middle-aged man reflections.  

This is what I had in mind.

Original book cover idea of me looking in a mirror and
seeing an image of my Dad when he was a 16-year-old kid.

But this idea came to an end when I stumbled across a beautiful and famous painting titled Narcissus.

Narcissus was painted circa 1597-1599 by a great Italian artist named Amerighi da Caravaggio.  It’s on display at the Galleria d’Arte Antica in Rome, Italy. 

Narcissus by Amerighi da Caravaggio circa 1597-1599

The story of Narcissus, as told by Greek Mythology poet Ovid in his Metamorphoses, is of a handsome youth who falls in love with his own reflection, much like every man who looks in a mirror and sees a 16-year-old kid.

As the late great American conservative radio broadcaster Paul Harvey would say, and now you know the rest of the story.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not getting any younger

While others freely admit they’re “getting older”, this middle-aged man seals his lips when having these thoughts because there are so many other energizing affirmations to chant than this one.  

Why do I resist expressing that I'm getting older while knowing it's my biological truth?  

Is it because this middle-aged man feels more comfortable accentuating his positive rather than his negative?  

If that’s true then does it mean I consider getting older as something negative?

I beg to differ as evidenced in an earlier blogflection titled “In pursuit of gracefully aging” that you can read here.

It’s just that “getting old” is not a term in my vocabulary describing what’s going on with me.  I’m just, rather, gracefully aging as my biological clock marches forward.  

It’s a spin I’ve created and I’ll use it to my liking while letting others use their “getting old” expression.

This is consistent with what I see when looking at a glass filled with water to the half-way point - I see a glass half full and not half empty.

It’s not that I’m getting older but rather not getting any younger.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fireside chat with a centenarian

The Chief Executive Blogger of Pierini Fitness is currently negotiating for an exclusive interview of a good friend’s 100-year-young father.  

While it appears this golden interview opportunity will take place, its date and time have yet to be determined but it’s fair to say sometime in mid-February is a real probability.

The planned interview will focus on what you’d expect to read here.  We’ll ask this centenarian gentleman probing questions seeking to uncover his deep feelings and sage thoughts about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying his best to live a good and honest life. 

We’ll ask him what his yesteryear memories are of being a middle-aged man and what life was like during those golden chapters of his life. 

Of course we’ll touch on fitness too.

If you have questions to ask, please share in a comment below and we’ll consider adding them to our interview question list.

The pearls of wisdom we expect to report should make for a fascinating read.  

Check back often for further details of an upcoming exclusive Pierini Fitness fireside chat with a centenarian.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Funeral notices and sports scores

The danger of mainstream news is that if you read enough of it you might sooner or later starting believing it.  This one is a good example.

Earlier this month, an internet news story appeared about a new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  I also read this "news" in the printed edition of The Wall Street Journal.

This report examined changes in eating patterns and diet among American adults between 2005 and 2010.

The USDA report was of a study focusing on consumption of food by Americans while away from home.   Nowadays, thanks to modern-day and fast-paced overextended lifestyles we live, the amount spent eating on the go is a large portion of American food budgets. 

Eating on the run is also associated with lower diet quality.

This report shared how Americans spent 13 percent less for food while away from home during the study period. 

Therefore, researchers concluded it was likely that American dietary quality also improved but that was just their guess because they admitted it was not possible to confidently make that conclusion based on the data collected.

What great investigative research they did as evidenced by their convincing “I don’t know” conclusion.

But that didn’t prevent the news headline from reading “Americans are making healthier food choices, USDA report says”.

So for those Americans who get their news solely by reading headlines, they can inhale a breath of fresh air and enjoy a cheat meal of junk food on the go as a reward for their hard work.

Well I decided to go past the headline and read more.  It wasn’t long before my next amusement surfaced.

In a press release, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack credits the work of President Obama’s Administration for the healthy food choices Americans are making based on this report that clearly stated how it was not possible to “ascertain based on the data collected.

Secretary Vilsack went on to state how President Obama’s Administration is “working hard to empower the American public to make smart choices every day at school, at home, and in their communities.”  

No mention was made in the news story how the American economy was in the gutter during this study period and, perhaps, less eating on the go by Americans was due to more of them being unemployed and having less discretionary income for junk food. 

The news article gave no credit of that “accomplishment” to President Obama’s Administration.

So today’s Pierini Fitness lesson is that let the reader beware when it comes to reading mainstream news in both internet and printed versions. 

Its journalism accuracy is suspect unless you’re reading funeral notices and sports scores.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 27, 2014

He already is!

Last Friday a friend told me she wanted to buy two copies of my new book. 

“But I gave you an autographed copy so why do you need two more?” I asked to which she replied they would be gifts. 

She said one copy would be a gift for her son-in-law who just had a birthday.  I know him but unsure of his age asked how old he is now.  She replied he's now 46 years old.

I replied that means he’s a bona-fide middle-aged man as more fully discussed in my book.  I also shared how men start being grouchy when they become middle-aged men?

In true mother-in-law fashion, she replied “He already is!”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 24, 2014

No less and sometimes more

My busy work season is now front and center in my life.

It always presents a real challenge for me getting to the gym.  

I’m the type who prefers going to the gym, rather than my basement or garage, for his fitness training. 

“Something is better than nothing” will continuing being an affirmation I chant during busy weeks in which I’m tempted to skip my gym workouts. 

During one of these workouts I’ll perform my 6-grip pullup/chinup medley demonstrated in this recent video from last Saturday:

My busy work season lasts until the middle of April so my planned twice-a-week workouts must be smartly designed for me to be efficient with my scarce training time.   

My experience is that intensity fuels efficiency so it – INTENSITY - will continue being the theme of my training particularly at the end of a workout when I complete a short and intense anaerobic cardio conditioning closer lasting 10 to 15 minutes. 

So for the next three months, my workouts will be at least twice-a-week, no less and sometimes more.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I can't get up!

Tuesday’s disappointing gym workout was a grim reminder that my strength is so fickle and subject to spoilage and a short shelf life.

My planned workout included lifting some heavy weight overhead but my strength reservoir had other plans of taking the day off. 

My forensic investigative analysis for this lackluster strength performance traces its cause to last Saturday's tough workout during which I recorded some noteworthy strength and anaerobic cardio performances.  

It probably depleted my strength tank and I needed more recovery time before strength testing again.

After Tuesday’s ho-hum workout, I drove back to my office while having images of that Medic Alert television ad of an elderly woman lying on the floor from a fall who calls on the telephone with an urgent cry of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Except I was a weakened middle-aged man crying “I’m weak today and I can’t get up!”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More dangerous than pot

Chances are you picked up on this one because it was splattered all over the internet and widely-reported by all news sources. 

President Obama says that pot (he means marijuana) is no more dangerous than alcohol.

He’s troubled at the disproportionate number of arrests and imprisonments of minorities for marijuana use.  He commented “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do.”

President Obama also said that (marijuana) users shouldn’t be locked up for long stretches of time when people writing drug laws “. . . have probably done the same thing.”

Then he delivered another conquer and divide statement of “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”

So where do I begin sharing my takes on this?

First, if he thinks legalization of marijuana will narrow the gap of poor kid versus middle-class kid arrests and imprisonments from its use, then he'll also want to legalize other criminal acts and that too will narrow this gap.

Let’s face it, poor kids shouldn’t be locked up for other criminal acts when some of these laws were probably written by people who have done the same thing.

And finally, it may be true that African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid undue harsh penalties. 

But what’s more truthful is that President Obama’s economic policies and social programs will make sure these people stay stuck at the bottom of their economic totem poles.

President Obama believes pot is no more dangerous than alcohol.  

For the poor kids he's so very concerned with, I believe President Obama's economic policies and social programs are more dangerous than pot.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kettlebell cardio carryover

Lower extremity injuries have curtailed my leg work recently.

Last Saturday, however, I felt a little better and decided to test the waters with something I haven’t done in about six months.  

I took a test drive on my gym’s treadmill doing a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) running workout.

I suppose some apprehension might have been in order since it was treadmill running following a barbell squat workout about six months ago that started my series of lower-body injuries beginning with sore bottoms of my feet.

But I had none and took a 20-minute test drive of HIIT consisting of the following (note that all work was done with the treadmill set at one percent incline):
Warm-up walking at 4.0 mph for two minutes
Eight rounds of running for one minute (at mph speeds of 6.0 - 6.5 - 7.0 - 7.5 - 8.0 - 8.5 - 9.0 - 9.5) followed by one minute of walking active recovery at 4.0 mph.
Cool-down walking at 4.0 mph for two minutes 
This was a great Saturday cardio conditioning closer and I was pleasantly surprised with my performance only thinking about how hard it was during the last two rounds.  Remember, I haven’t done any running for about six months. 

So the recent kettlebell anaerobic cardio conditioning closers I’ve done have paid me a good conditioning dividend. 

This 20-minute workout proved a transferable conditioning benefit called kettlebell cardio carryover.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 20, 2014

A dozen cheeseburgers

Will work for cheesburgers
I’d have to be drunk to make sense of something I recently read that, instead, left me shaking my head.

There’s a new program in the Netherlands where the city of Amsterdam has partnered up with a local charity.  

This new program is supposed to improve neighborhoods and the lives of alcoholics.

This program works by offering alcoholics beer in exchange for light work collecting litter, eating a decent meal and sticking to their schedule. 

Further details reveal that alcoholic participants show up for work at 9:00 a.m. three days a week.  

Before starting work they drink two beers.  Then they work a morning shift, eat lunch, drink two more beers, work an afternoon shift, and then drink a final beer.  

Supposedly, if they do a good job they might get a bonus beer.

Their total compensation is about €19 (that’s 19 Euros) which is about $26 in beer, tobacco, a meal and cash.  Participants shared that a lot of the cash goes towards more beer.

Time will tell if this program works for these alcoholics but my intuition is that is won’t.  

But before I draw a final conclusion, I’ll ask a gym friend I know who is a recovering addict actively working an Alcoholic Anonymous program.

Maybe if this program shines with success, next up will be a program for obese people who sign up to work in exchange for a dozen cheeseburgers.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 17, 2014

175% Buddy Holly special

From the man who penned that every man who looks in a mirror sees a 16-year-old kid is a confession that I have old eyes!

Yup, you heard me correctly.

I’m currently packing a pair of 150% magnification reading eyeglasses and realize I need more horsepower.

A search in my blog archives reminded me that my aging eyesight journey began in November 2001.  I shared it here:

Time for a pair of 1.25's  

My vision is great when it comes to seeing distant things just like a vulture flying high and spotting road kill far below.  It’s the up-front-and-close stuff that’s doing me in.

Soon I’ll go shopping for stronger 175% magnification reading eyeglasses. 

There are so many styles to choose but I won’t get sucked in to any selection confusion.

I’ll buy the same design that I’m currently wearing - a 175% Buddy Holly special.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Strength and conditioning

80-lb. weighted pullup
 circa June 2009
Some bloggers use their blogs as a workout journal.

When I started blogging five years ago, that’s what I thought I’d do.  

But early in my blogging journey, I discovered a joy of middle-aged man written reflections and swayed in that direction.

Today I’m short on time so I'll share details of my last gym workout two days ago.    

Tuesday, 1/14/2014
Arrived at the gym about 7:00 a.m. and spent about 20 minutes waking up my stiff middle-aged man body with various flexibility drills.  

All loads below are in lbs.

Barbell overhead press – 45x3 – 45x3 – 65x1 – 85x1 – 105x1 – 115x1 -135x1 – 140x3 – 150x2 – 155x2 – 160x1 – 165FAIL – 160x1 – 120x10.

Weighted pull-ups – BWx7 – 25x5 – 35x4 – 45x3 – 55x2 – BWx10

Anaerobic conditioning – kettlebell one-arm hang power snatch – right side x 10 reps plus left side x 10 reps equals one round.  I completed ten rounds in 14:48.

My training is pretty simple nowadays with just a couple exercises each workout.  One is push-oriented and the other is pull-oriented.  I’m nursing a lower-extremity injury so squat work is on sabbatical right now.

My current training can best described as having a theme of strength and conditioning.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Running at high speed

Every blogger and other political commentators looking for something fun to write latched on to this one. 

Last month the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a report finding that Medicare payments for male vacuum erection systems were more than twice as much as the amounts paid for the same or similar devices by non-Medicare payers.

This report concluded if Medicare reduced payments to the level of non-Medicare payers, the federal government could save about $18 million with Medicare beneficiaries saving about $4.5 million each year.

Apparently, this overcharging is nothing new because a similar finding was reported in August 1999.

Investigative reporters from Pierini Fitness have uncovered two other findings not included in this recent government report.

The first finding is that 100 percent of the male vacuum erection systems retailers laugh all the way to their banks.

The second finding is even though older men Medicare beneficiaries paid more for their male vacuum erection systems than other older men, they were not the least bit upset with their being overcharged. 

In fact, they reported being just as happy as others, who paid less, when using their vacuums running at high speed.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Starving middle-aged men in China

On Sunday I received an e-mail reply from a cyberspace fitness brother from a different mother.  A couple days earlier, I sent him an e-mail sharing a fitness topic of common interest.

His reply opened my eyes to what many already know.  Here’s an excerpt of his reply: 

“It’s great to hear from you. I'm in Nanjing China for the next month (I manage a team of software engineers here). The link to your blog is not working here due to the Great Firewall of China.”

This is absolutely terrible!  

My Pierini Fitness blog is not available to hundreds of millions of Chinese middle-aged men who are starving for my guidance.  

As ambassador of all middle-age men around the world, I must rectify this situation.  What should I do?

Maybe I’ll travel to Beijing, China on a humanitarian mission.  I’ll ask for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping demanding his immediate involvement in tearing down the Great Firewall of China.

I’ll remind him of his country’s binge drinking problem that has reached epidemic proportions among middle-age men and beyond.  I’ll also explain the reason for this epidemic.

Chinese middle-aged men thirst for my Pierini Fitness blogflections but they’re nowhere to be found in their cyberspace world.  

In a desperate act to quench their thirst, these poor Chinese men are resorting to alcohol to fill the void in their lives.

So you better eat your cyberspace plate clean of my Pierini Fitness blogflections because there are starving middle-aged men in China.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 13, 2014

Yesteryear photo of Burt Reynolds

Of the many topics my wife and I discussed on Saturday, one had repetition to it and that was the color of my moustache.  

I think her eyes and mind are getting tired looking at my salt and pepper upper lip warmer.

In a style best described as a gentle nudge, it seems like Mrs. Pierini Fitness believes a little color to this middle-aged man’s ‘stache might make the world a better place.

I don’t do good answering a “What do you think?” question so my response to its repeated asking can best be described as elusive and weak. 

Such an act, I pondered, would lessen or eliminate my ability to take fun stabs at all those middle-aged men who regularly “juice” their hair and ‘stache with artificial-looking colors because I would now be one of them.

It would forever rob me of my coveted identity of “that guy who walks down a beaten path and who dances to a different drummer.”

Well true to my non-committal self, I didn’t say no and I didn’t say yes while suspecting that answer will only bring the same question being asked again and again.

If she asks me too often, I’ll tell her to knock it off and quit looking at that yesteryear photo of Burt Reynolds.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 10, 2014

Cards close to my chest

In yesteryears past, I’d have a ritual of preparing written fitness and strength goals for a new year.  

Being a numerically-oriented person, these goals were expressed in numbers such as times, repetitions, training frequencies, loads lifted and the like.

I’ve always favored objective measures because my weak mind can easily deceive me by using perceived effort as a barometer.  I firmly believe there’s deception in perception, at least for me.

Well this year I have no written fitness and strength goals.  I’m taking a more relaxed approach.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have goals but at this point in my life, they’re more contemporaneous and real time or live in development.

Imagine watching television and regularly-scheduled programming is momentarily interrupted for an important news development that flashes on the screen. 
“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt this program because we’ve just learned Pierini has announced he wants to run a six minute mile.  And now we return to regularly-scheduled programming.”
I’m sure this relaxed approach can serve me well but may not prepare me for setting any new personal world records in 2014. I’m OK with this probability.

My 2014 fitness and strength journey will still have an upward destination, or at least an upward vision while being mindful that I’m driving an older car.  I might have an unplanned minor injury or two in my journey just like an older car might break down or get a flat tire along the way.

This will be a journey best be described as “two steps forward and one step back” with, hopefully, a series of “net one step forward” advancements in arriving at my 2014 destination. 

Whatever and however it turns out to be, my goals will not be plastered on billboards across America for all to see. 

Instead, they’ll be kept more to myself as if I was a competitive and high-stakes poker player keeping my cards close to my chest.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Coffee straight and strong

My joy for a great cup of coffee is genetic and was
passed  on to me from my Dad.  RIP dear Dad!
It just dawned on me that I’ve not really written much about coffee considering how much I enjoy my morning cup eight days a week. 

I’ve written about everything else under the sun here at Pierini Fitness but coffee has only been mentioned in passing and generally on Sunday in the context of we’re closed for business.

Well I’m determined to change that but you’ll not get another of my long-winded discussions today.  Nope, you’ll have to go surfing to find other bloggers who’ll put you to sleep with a meandering and probably funny blog-share about how coffee fits into their life.

I’ll be straight to the point.  I drink one cup of coffee in the morning.  About half the time I buy it while on the go and the other half I prepare it at home. 

When I buy it on the go, I favor Peet’s Coffee over Starbuck’s.  Peet’s is primarily a San Francisco Bay Area fine coffee establishment but they have locations elsewhere in California and seven other states. 
I like Peet’s because they make their coffee how I like mine – STRONG!

But the best cup of coffee is the one I prepare at home.  I generally use a French Roast coffee bean and finely grind them just before brewing my morning solo cup. 

I prepare my cup using drip brewing, a method which involves pouring water over ground beans in a filter so that the water seeps through the ground coffee, absorbing its oils and essences.  The end result is an awesome flavor unbeknownst to those lost souls confused with a cup of tea in hand.

When my cup is full, I’m ready to immerse myself in a morning sipping delight.  I don’t ruin my amazing beverage with anything robbing its bold and rich flavor like sugar or cream.

Those are for sissies because real middle-aged men drink their coffee straight and strong.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Do more pull-ups!

Santa Monica Beach circa 2006
I’ve made a 2014 business decision to resume weighted pull-ups in my training mix.  

They’ve been a favorite back building staple of mine in training times past.

Taking it slow and easy, this was my weighted pull-up workout last week:
First I spent about three rounds of ten-count each hanging from the pull-up bar to prepare myself for the work ahead. 
Then I did the following with all loads expressed in lbs:  #1 = bodyweight x 5 reps - #2 = 15x4 reps - #3 = 25x3 reps - #4 = 35x2 reps - #5 = 45x1 rep - #6 – bodyweight x 10 reps. 
That was it for the day. 
Then, a couple days later I did four sets of changing grip pull-ups and chin-ups as part of a superset while doing dumbbell bench press work.  
Here’s what I did that day:  #1 = standard-grip pull-ups x 8 - #2 = standard –grip chin-ups x 8 - #3 = wide-grip pull-ups x 8 - #4 – wide-grip chin-ups x 8.  All reps were at least two short of maximum.
There’s nothing spectacular about either of these pull-ups workouts and I’m a far cry from my yesteryear pull-up prowess.  I’m OK with that because I’m in pretty good pull-up shape for the pull-up shape I’m in.

Slowly, safely and surely, I’ll improve and hopefully match my yesteryear efforts of an 82-lb. weighted pull-up and a 100-lb. weighted chin-up.  They're a little harder now because I’m about 20 lbs. heavier and at least five years older.

There’s really no hurry because what will I do when I get there?  I know the answer – do more pull-ups!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pierini Polenta antipasto

Most middle-aged men are decent cooks and each of us has our own specialty.  Mine has changed over the years. 

About ten years ago, homemade soups were my specialties and later Tex-Mex style fajitas became this chef's special.

I've always liked my culinary creations more than my wife does so that means larger servings for me.

My favorite is now antipasto I’ve named Pierini Polenta. Allow me the privilege of sharing my recipe with you.

My wife and I frequently shop at Trader Joe's, a food specialty retail store with locations in nine U.S. states so if by some chance you're reading this from the tip of South America, there's not one in your neighborhood.  

Trader Joe's Organic Polenta comes in an 18 ounce tube and never needs refrigeration before opening. It's completely cooked — just heat before serving. I slice it into cookie-size servings, drizzle each piece front and back in olive oil and then heat in a convection oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.

While the polenta is being heated, I stir fry, in a pan of olive oil, a combination of diced sweet mini bell peppers and red onions sprinkled with dry basil (fresh basil also works and is actually better). Eventually, I add sun-dried tomatoes during the last couple minutes. 

It's a matter of personal preference how much of the sun-dried tomatoes to add; too much is overwhelming and not enough fails to capture the flavor accent it provides.  

You'll need to discover your own preference.

My final topping are small slices of mozzarella cheese.

It's an accent topping that shouldn't overwhelm the other flavors.

Take the heated polenta out of the oven and top each slice with the stir fried combination of sweet mini bell peppers, red onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Then top with the sliced mozzarella cheese.  

You're finished culinary delight should look something like this:  

You might like to savor your piatto di antipasto with una bottiglia di vino.

Hey middle-aged man, give it a try, put on your apron and make a batch and impress your wife and friends.  

After your plate is wiped clean, lick your lips and wipe your middle-aged man moustache clean and, while thinking about the culinary delight you just experienced, shout "era squisito" that Pierini Polenta antipasto.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum