Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Knowing less tomorrow than today

While pursuit of education and knowledge is a journey lasting a lifetime, it seems that more effort is required at this point in my life than the past. 

When I think about my formal education that began so long ago in elementary school, there was this predictable progression about it with loads of structure such as exams, quizzes, report cards, diplomas, degrees and the like.  This allowed me to see progress in ways that now seem so much more subtle.

Certainly, there’s continuing education I’m required to complete as a condition for keeping my professional license.  I also spend personal time reading about stuff of interest to me such as fitness and health-related topics having a middle-aged man orientation.  And I do read to learn more about my faith but it’s fair to say not as much as I should.  There’s always tomorrow I tell myself in private reply to those “I should” moments.

The internet has given me easy access to information never before imaginable.  What I can now have in rapid-fire clicks of a computer mouse would have taken hours and days in a library not so long ago.  

But does this information I can now have so quickly add to my knowledge?  And if it does, does this added knowledge I have add to my wisdom?  I’m beginning to wonder.

This information I gather is nothing more than facts provided or learned about something or someone, nothing more and nothing less.  Of itself, information may not add to my knowledge.

This adds new meaning to a question I sometimes ask myself when deciding if I should read an article beyond the headline:  “What am I going to do with this information?”

This is because knowledge is the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association.  Just because I have new information doesn't mean it has added to my knowledge. 

We all know someone, and maybe that someone is me, suffering from Mr. Know-it-all Syndrome; that smarty-pants, smart aleck, wise guy who behaves as if he know everything?

We’ve also heard the saying and maybe have said it at times when referring to the Mr. Know-it-all characters in our lives:  “You’re smart but you have no common sense.”

What good is knowledge I have if I don’t know how to use it for my good and the good of others.  That’s wisdom, the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment and the quality of being wise.

So in my continuing pursuit of education for new information  and knowledge, let my efforts err on the side of gaining wisdom even if that means knowing less tomorrow than today.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Peanut fever

This middle-aged man has always enjoyed having nuts in his life and I’m not talking about people without a full deck of mental cards.  

The nuts I like are food and some of my recent favorites are almonds, cashews and pistachios.  Recently I decided to diversify and since then have been enjoying peanuts.

About one month ago, I decided to buy a 5-lb. bag of Hoody’s In-Shell Peanuts from my neighborhood Costco; they are roasted and unsalted.  I brought this big bag of peanuts to my office and it’s where I eat them.

Sometimes I do so as my first meal of the day that begins with a protein shake and then two ounces of peanuts.  It’s a light first meal as far as calories go but the combination of fat and proteins gives me satiety on days when I want to eat light in the morning yet need to take the edge off my brain and gut crying to be fed.

This combination gives me 440 calories of which about 17 percent are carbohydrates, 30 percent are protein and 53 percent are fat.  In the macronutrient classification scheme of things, this is definitely a low-carbohydrate mix of calories.

Not that low-carb is how I’m trying to eat but my focus the past month has been to eat a higher-fat diet.  A recent math check tells me my macronutrient calorie mix the past month has been about 38 percent carbohydrates, 24 percent protein and 38 percent fat.

Eating two ounces of in-shell peanuts is more work than eating a two ounce package of shelled peanuts that I can be wolfed-down my digestive track, with force stronger than a commercial-grade garbage disposal, in less than a minute.

And a little more caution is required to avoid making a peanut shell mess.  Both of these elements contribute to eating fewer peanuts in a sitting and that’s good.

I’ve barely put a dent in this big 5-lb. bag so there are many more peanut-centric morning meals for me the next couple of months.  Twice a week seems to be all I can handle as I continue having peanut fever.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Says he's doing 24/7

A generation or two ago most middle-aged men ate at a cadence best described as “three square meals a day” and breakfast, lunch and dinner were the venues where fueling their bodies took place.  I’m sure some snacked between meals but it wasn’t common like nowadays.

Restaurants weren’t opened for as many hours and 24-hour fast food establishments were a rarity.  Both make it so easy for hungry middle-aged men to acquire and consume food-on-demand to satisfy their starving guts crying to be fed.

In those olden days, grazing was something the cows did and this notion of eating mini-meals throughout the day was something most middle-aged men didn’t have time for or could imagine doing. 

When meal time finally came, middle-aged men were hungry and ready to eat whatever was on their plate. The rest of their day was devoted to things besides food.  

There wasn’t a preoccupation about it like now.  The time people devoted to fueling their bodies with food was commensurate with the benefits provided.  People didn’t eat because they were bored; they ate because they were hungry.

It seems different today and some recent research indicates this is true.

A report appearing on the internet website of Cell Metabolism, a research journal dedicated to publishing novel, impactful papers spanning basic to clinical metabolic research, shared study results from monitoring the daily eating patterns of 150 healthy, non-shift worker adult males and females for three weeks.

Aided by modern technology of a smart phone app, researchers discovered how more than half of the adults in their study ate for 15 hours or longer from day to day.

In fact, most ate frequently and erratically throughout wakeful hours with their fasting duration only taking place during their time in bed.

There was a bias toward eating late with an estimated less than 25 percent of daily calorie consumption being consumed before noon and greater than 35 percent after 6:00 p.m. 

The daily food consumption intake duration exceeded 14.75 hours for half the study subjects.

A follow-up study was also done of overweight individuals included in the original study.  These overweight folks lost weight during a 16-week period when they reduced their eating duration from more than 14 hours a day to 10-11 hours a day.  They also reported being more energetic and sleeping better.

Click this link to read more:

This study is further support and a “two-thumbs up” for intermittent fasting as a viable method for middle-aged men wanting to shed a few pounds.

But in the fast-paced world in which we live, many of us thrive on being multi-tasked and working around the clock in a chasing-your-tail approach to living life to the fullest. 

Now, thanks to this research, "porking out" all day long may be what’s really going on when a fatso middle-aged man says he’s doing 24/7.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, September 25, 2015

No I won't

Those rascals are at it again with pre-season teasers suddenly appearing in various news articles of both the internet, print, radio and television media varieties.  

Be on the lookout for constant “Get Ready for Flu Season” reminders initiated by our friendly federal government and its partner, the vaccination industry.

Pierini Fitness has discussed this topic before; if you missed it here it is again:

According to the internet website WedMd, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population will get the flu, on average, each year.

To entice us to run out and get our flu shot, we’re now being told by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) how this year’s flu vaccine will be more effective than last year.

So how effective was last year’s flu vaccine?

CDC Director Tom Freiden recently shared in a news conference last week that it was only 13 percent effective.

Yup, you read it right – only 13 percent effective!

Notwithstanding this unimpressive 13 percent effectiveness, the CDC’s Frieden reminds those who are willing to listen how Vaccination is the single most important step people can take to protect themselves from influenza."   

So what’s the combined chance of catching the flu but not catching it thanks to getting a flu shot?  Someone correct me if I’m wrong as I attempt to solve this math problem.

My math tells me that would be the 5 to 20 percent chance of catching the flu (see above) multiplied by the 13 percent flu shot effectiveness (also see above).  This calculates to 0.65 percent on the low side to 2.6 percent on the high side.

Taking the average of this range calculates to a 1.625 percent chance.  Much better than your chances of winning the big lottery prize but still pretty low in the overall probability scheme of things.

So will I be getting a flu shot this upcoming flu season?  My answer is, no I won’t. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Chances are many middle-aged men who live a lifestyle of the rich and famous have been to their surgeon once or twice for some surgery of the plastic variety.  It's sometimes also known as cosmetic surgery and for many, it's a cost of doing business.

Take a look at aging macho men actors like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris and others of the famous middle-aged man vintage; it's a guarantee they've had their faces trimmed and wrinkles ridded. 

There's nothing wrong with having something like this done even though this middle-aged man currently professes how he can't imagine plastic surgery being on his short-term or long-term To Do List.

Remember, this is a middle-aged man who jokingly sees a 16-year old kid when looking in a mirror.  Images of 16-year-old kids are, for the most part, wrinkle-free.

Nonetheless, when this middle-aged man has a rigorously-honest bright light on during daily morning encounters with his faithful Fountain of Youth bathroom mirror, assuming he's wearing his seeing-up-close eyeglasses, he sees and acknowledges an aging face in progress; one with fine-line wrinkles starting to make a regular appearance on skin that has become a bit old and lacking the youthful elasticity and shine from its glorious yesteryear past.

"Oh the good old days" whimpers his aging skin that now has a dependable sag to it, "Where hast thou gone?"

You know, it's just a matter of time before this sag takes on a mind of its own and starts asserting itself in places never-before imaginable.

Like my chin for example and that vast aging-skin "wasteland" below it.  This area that used to sport a youthful Adam's Apple may slowly become a fertile orchard for a fruitful bounty of what can best be described as "turkey gobble".

When this day comes, this sagging-skin appendage south of my chin will be my badge of honor of having made it this far, and also a glimmer of hope that this middle-aged man has more gracefully-aging life to live.

If I must take the good with the bad in a packaged-deal, and if the good is more gracefully-aging life to live while the bad is hard-to-hide and pronounced middle-aged man jowls, sign me up for the tandem; I'll take it.

And with my taking it will be many morning encounters with my faithful bathroom mirror, perhaps singing a children's song to myself like one of every child's favorite, Old MacDonald  Had a Farm.

I can imagine myself singing a verse from this song, while looking in my bathroom mirror, about the turkeys Old MacDonald had while "marveling" at my aging and southward-sagging skin hanging below my chin.

"With a gobble-gobble here and a gobble-gobble-there, here a gobble, there a gobble, everywhere a gobble-gobble, Old MacDonald had a farm . . ."


Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Starting young

There comes an infant age where parents must be ever so careful because the little ones can hurt themselves unexpectedly.  

Drop your guard for a moment and you might find your little one sneaking in an early-bird weightlifting workout.

That was the case this week when my first grandson, 14-months young dripping wet, was “busted” working out with a 30-lb. dumbbell while his father blinked an eye.

I don’t know what was on the mind of little Pierini Fitness IV during his brief workout other than, perhaps, knowing that he was beginning his strength training starting young.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Welcome to America Papa!

Pope Francis April 2015 photo courtesy of friend M. Houret
Card-carrying Roman Catholics, like Pierini Fitness, have a special place in their hearts for their Pope or Papa as the Italians call him closer to his Vatican home in Rome, Italy. 

Today Pope Francis arrives in the United States for a short visit. Whether you’re a card-carrying Roman Catholic or a pagan, thanks to a curious media, it’ll be hard for you to not know what he's doing while here.    

Pierini Fitness will not be among the large crowds of hundreds of thousands of Americans coming out to see Pope Francis during perhaps his only trip to America.  Those in attendance at the public places where he’ll appear will be greater in number than those attending a Sunday stadium-packed NFL football game or some of the biggest crowds you can imagine attending a very-important and popular public gathering.

My family and I had the pleasure of seeing the two Popes who preceded him – Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.  

The first time was when our family attended Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Christmas Eve 1994 and then the following Christmas Day as we, among thousands, listened to a Pope John Paul II Christmas Day sermon followed by his Papal Blessing.

Six years later, my wife and I traveled to Italy again in 2000 and were present at one of the weekly Udienze Generale (General Audience) of Pope John Paul II.

And then ten years later in 2010, my wife and I once again were in Italy and attended an Udienze Generale of Pope Benedict XVI.

This middle-aged man will listen to the messages Pope Francis delivers during his brief stay here.  I know he'll talk about many difficult-to-listen issues "that are good and necessary for our consciences which are so dormant and accustomed to mediocrity" as the Cuban people were reminded by Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino after the Pope's speech in Havana last Sunday.  

I'm looking forward to it.  
Read more here:

Welcome to America Papa!

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, September 21, 2015

In my fitness training tool box

It arrived late last week, my second kettlebell (KB), an Ader 24kg KB and I took it for a test drive the same day.  At 53 pounds, it’s 9 pounds heavier than my other KB so I’ll slowly adapt to it by adjusting the KB complex workouts I do.  Less reps per round but more rounds; no different than how you handle a heavier barbell load in weightlifting.

It’ll be challenging and fun getting to know and using the newest tool in my fitness training toolbox.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, September 18, 2015

Nothing to say

Lately this chief executive blogger has been on a middle-aged man reflection mania having something to say that gets posted here Monday through Friday.  

Such reflections are not compulsory so I feel no pressure in deciding to take a day or two or more off.

But I do enjoy regularly writing and sharing whatever happens to be floating around in my middle-aged man brain.  

Today, however, I've discovered I have nothing to say.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Not adoring our snoring

There’s a statistic floating around on the internet estimating that approximately 45 percent of the population snores and 25 percent are habitual snorers.  

I haven’t sought out statistics about middle-aged man snoring but my guess is that this percentage may be higher.  And I suppose middle-aged women also snore but this Pierini Fitness blogflection will focus on us guys.

One internet website, WebMD, explains that snoring is the physical obstruction of airflow through the mouth and nose.  This occurs due to obstructed nasal airways, poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue, bulky throat tissue and a long soft palate and/or uvula.  It, snoring that is, occurs more frequently in overweight men and generally gets worse with age.

There are health-related risks associated with snoring; you can read about them elsewhere if you’re interested. 

Well this middle-aged man has been put on notice, actually for some time, that he snores.  What should he do?

There’s no shortage of solutions offered and an internet search will reveal many of them if you’re interested.  Some are of the “snake oil” variety while others offer a medical procedure approach.  And yet others are more common sense do-it-yourself suggestions that may put an end to this middle-aged man nighttime trumpeting.  These suggestions include changing sleeping position, losing weight, and knocking off drinking alcohol adult beverages before bedtime.

There’s also something else I read that contributes to snoring and this is being excessively tired from either working too hard or being sleep-deprived from a cumulative lack of sleep for whatever reason.  In these instances, when we finally hit the sack, we sleep hard and deep, our muscles become floppier and this creates snoring according to one “snoring expert”.

Like all middle-aged man crosses we carry, this one is not so simple and reading more about it makes me so sleepy.  Maybe reading about snoring is a good way for middle-aged man insomniacs to finally get their overdue visit from Mr. Sandman.

And when this does happen, we’ll sleep so deeply like that drunken Navy sailor on liberty who just got sucker-punched in a nightclub brawl while our little lady wife lays next to us in bed, wide awake not adoring our snoring.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The 300 KB swing workout club

It doesn’t take long after entering the almost cult-like world of kettlebell (KB) training before discovering the 300 KB swing workout.  

Internet websites galore have content with eye-catching titles such as “300 Swings a Day for Faster Fat Loss”.  Visit YouTube and you’ll find the same such as “Blast Fat With 300 Kettlebell Swings”.  Do some surfing and find out for yourself.

I say lets skip the fat loss theme and judge the KB swing by what really matters and that’s how great a simple exercise it is which, if done, correctly, does an excellent job of working your core/trunk power zone while giving you a great cardiovascular conditioning workout when done with some challenging yet and achievable repetition volume.

So after reading much about the magical 300 KB swing workout, recently I finally decided to see what it was all about and take it for a test drive.

Most of the suggestions about a 300 KB swing workout are that you space out the reps throughout the day but I was more interested in getting them all done in a short and intense workout. 

Using my trusted 20 kilogram KB, the only one I own, I got my first 300 KB swing workout in by doing alternating single-arm swings of the hand-to-hand variety.  I decided to perform 20 repetitions per round for 15 rounds starting a new round every minute.  On average, it took me about 40 seconds to get my 20 repetitions completed, leaving me with a brief 20 second rest before starting another round.

Less than 15 minutes later – about 14:41 to be exact – I completed my first ever 300 KB swing workout.  I liked how it felt and have repeated this workout a couple times since. 

Monday of this week I did a 300 KB swing workout again and finished in 12:08.  I did this in 10 rounds of 30 reps starting a new round every 1:15.

Yes I’ve joined the 300 KB swing workout club.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ratchet up your exercise intensity

Note:  I am not a medical doctor and am not giving you medical advice so please read the following with this understanding and consult with your medical doctor before beginning any heavy weightlifting and/or high-intensity cardiovascular training exercise program.

An M.D. once scolded me for using the term “anecdotal evidence” to describe my sample-of-one experiments over the years using me as the one.  He said there’s no evidence in something that’s anecdotal or something to that effect.

Our cyberspace friends at Wikipedia have this to say about anecdotal evidence: "The expression anectodal evidence refers to evidence from anecdotes.  In cases where small numbers of anecdotes are presented, there is a larger chance that they may unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases." 

Well this is true and from my M.D. scolding, I’ll now sometimes use the term “anecdotal experience” to describe what I’ve learned about myself from various fitness training and nutrition experiments conducted over the years.

Last Friday there were several health-related news articles floating around the internet about blood pressure and how federal government researchers are urging older adults to aim for much lower blood pressure than previously recommended.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third or 70 million adults in America have high blood pressure.  That’s not good because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death for middle-aged men like you and me.

I’ve kept a log of my blood pressure for over 12 years now and have previously shared my readings here at Pierini Fitness.  What I’ve learned is that my blood pressure, while always considered normal per above, has improved over these years even though I now weigh more than when earlier readings were taken.

Last Friday, for example, about two hours after a short but intense 15-minute kettlebell workout, I decided to measure my blood pressure to see if there were any unexpected surprises.    

All readings are expressed in mmHG (the mmHG is millimeters of mercury – the units used to measure blood pressure) which is how we do it in America for my readers from abroad.

I always take my blood pressure three times within a few minutes of each other just to rule out anything odd about a single reading.  Here were my blood pressure readings from last Friday:

#1 = 109/74 – pulse of 62 beats per minute

#2 = 113/71 – pulse of 67 beats per minute

#3 = 101/71 – pulse of 64 beats per minute

The heart rate pulses were a little higher than normal and that was probably due to the hard workout I completed about two hours earlier – nothing to be concerned about with these numbers; I’m merely sharing.  Contrast these numbers with yesterday morning when my awakening resting pulse was 52 beats per minute.

In general, these numbers are better than years ago when I weighed less and did different workouts including longer-duration running.    There’s nothing especially different about how I eat – now versus then – to account for these differences.  My diet isn’t low-sodium or anything else considered blood pressure-friendly.

So what might be the difference?

Maybe being a little older and more relaxed about who I am is a possibility but I really think better explanations are the heavier barbell weightlifting and shorter-duration and higher-intensity anaerobic cardiovascular training I’ve done over my recent training past. 

There’s a third possible explanation and that’s I’ve become better at relaxing when taking my blood pressure.  Maybe that’s cheating because the life I live may not be as relaxed as it is when I take my blood pressure. 

In any event, I will favor the first two explanations.  So, therefore, my anecdotal evidence is that heavier barbell weightlifting and higher-intensity and shorter-duration anaerobic cardiovascular conditioning workouts as my anecdotal evidence for improved blood pressure.

For those of you who avoid the heavy iron, let’s consider isometric exercises done with maximum intensity as a close-cousin alternative to heavier-barbell weightlifting.

So my message to all middle-aged men of the world who are concerned about their blood pressure is to consult with your M.D. first and then ratchet up your exercise intensity.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum