Tuesday, February 28, 2017

OD'd on embalming fluid

Last week, I needed a photo to accompany an opinion article I wrote scheduled to appear in the Sunday issue of my hometown newspaper, the Sacramento Bee.  I looked at my photo inventory and discovered nothing recent.  So, I then decided to take a couple new selfies thinking this would be an easy and quick task. 

When looking at the two or three photos just taken, I immediately gasped in disbelief.  I looked to my left and right, then behind, to make sure there was nobody in sight.  Then I deleted these photos as quickly as I had taken them.  They would never be seen by anyone else in the whole wide world. 

I felt relieved but this experience left me in a daze and numb struck.  Being the optimist I am, however, I told myself I’d try again later in the day when my face woke up.  With attaboy middle-aged man self-talk, I told myself I’d surely snap a couple winners.

Well later came but not the glamorous middle-aged man images I had in my expecting mind’s eye.  The newest attempts produced images appearing as bad, if not worse, than my earlier attempt.  If I tried a third time, I thought, would they be the worst?

I found myself in a big bind.  What was I going to do?

Taking another look at my photo inventory, I found one somewhat recent.  However, it was one of me taken on Ash Wednesday two years earlier, and I was still sporting visible ashes on my forehead.  A call to a good friend who’s a graphic artist solved my dilemma.  He used his skills to make my ashes go away.  I now had the photo that would appear with my opinion article in Sunday’s newspaper.

I had survived this traumatic event!

In Monday morning quarterback mode, the following day, I learned that I was ill and had been when these photos were taken.  This made me feel good because I now had a rational explanation for the horror-stricken images witnessed less than 24-hours earlier.  In a sigh of relief, I knew these photos were not of me laying in my future casket.

This middle-aged man traumatic experience made me realize that I may be stuck with my current photo inventory with no opportunity for new ones.  Unless, that is, I’m willing to buy some expensive Adobe Photoshop image editing and enhancing software and get very good using it.

It also made me realize that while I still enjoy my middle-aged man morning encounters with my bathroom mirror, it’s my camera with which I have real and serious issues.

Finally, this experience made me wonder if my morning cup of coffee had been spiked, and that I had OD’d on embalming fluid.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, February 27, 2017

Rocking chair workouts

The latest news about high-intensity exercise workouts is that they may come at a price in a man’s sexual performance department.

A news article posted on the Time magazine’s internet website last Friday reported that men who strenuously exercise on a regular basis have a significantly decreased libido than those who engage in lower-intensity exercise. 

A research paper called “Endurance Exercise Training and Male Sexual Libido” was recently published in the Journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

An abstract I read about it had this conclusion:

“Exposure to higher levels of chronic intense and greater durations of endurance training on a regular basis are significantly associated with a decreased libido scores in men. Clinicians who treat male patients for sexual disorders and, or council couples on infertility issues should consider the degree of endurance exercise training a man is performing as a potential complicating factor.

Based on this conclusion, it's now possible that super-fit middle-aged men visiting their ED doctors for another prescription refill of their “favorite little blue pill” may be told no more prescriptions.

Instead, they may now be given a different prescription, that of friendly advice to scale back their exercise intensity and, instead, now do rocking chair workouts.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, February 24, 2017

America and the rest of the world

The Gates Foundation, as in Bill and Melinda Gates, recently issued a report calling attention how science has saved 122 million babies in the past 25 years with vaccines getting honorable first mention as the reason for this noteworthy accomplishment.

News like this gives pro-vaccination advocates good “evidence” to push their agenda of vaccinations for everyone whether you want one or not.  This evidence also allows them to label their opponents – the anti-vaccination advocates – as a threat to America and the rest of the world.

These pro-vaccination advocates believe there’s no room for personal choice in one’s deliberation to get vaccinated or not.  To them, it doesn’t matter that it’s someone’s body or that they should have a personal choice in this matter.

Yet many of these same people have no problem allowing women to choose to abort their unborn infant without considering the desires of the father. Why?  Because it’s a woman’s body and her personal choice. 

The Center for Disease Control reported in 2014 that vaccinations will prevent more than 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.  This too is a wonderful statistic for all of us who advocate a culture of life in America.

But there’s always room for another perspective.

In January 2014, the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s partner in crime, reported there were 1.05 million abortions in the United States in 2012.  This single year death statistic far exceeds the 20-year statistic of lives to be saved thanks to vaccination.

If we want to dance with joy and embrace a culture of life, with all its life-saving benefits to a civilized nation, let’s devote more resources to eliminating what I call a culture of death mindset in America.  This American culture of death mindset results in abortion fatalities far greater than the purported lives to be saved from vaccinations. 

This culture of death mindset significantly threatens America and the rest of the world.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, February 23, 2017

All I'll say

I had this perspective and opinion composition scheduled for today but I’ve taken it down and substituted it with this one.  

I liked what I had composed and thought someone else might too.  So, I decided to submit it to the Sacramento Bee, our city newspaper. 

Guess what?

They liked it too and will publish it in the Forum section of this Sunday’s newspaper.  That’s the section where newspaper editorial opinions appear along with writings of other guest contributors, most of whom are “big shot” types unlike me, a modest middle-aged man.

One of the terms and conditions was that what appears in the newspaper will not be published anywhere else.  After carefully reading this condition, I’ve concluded that posting what I wrote here at Pierini Fitness constitutes “published elsewhere”.  Therefore, as I previously said, I’ve substituted it with what appears here today.

Blah, blah, blah, that’s about all I’ll say. 

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5-4-3-2-1 +

After an extended training time-off hiatus lasting several months toward the end of last year, and after a lumpy start, I must share that I now again have kettlebell (KB) fever.  I’ve reclaimed my groove and restored lost cardiovascular conditioning so necessary to perform the challenging KB complexes I was doing before my big time off.

Not that I’m in the same condition I was in when falling off the fitness saddle, but I’m closing the gap and in far better conditioning shape when I got back serious at the beginning of this year.

I’ve shared a couple KB workouts that I’ve done lately here at Pierini Fitness and am doing so again today.  As is typical of the KB complexes I create and/or tailor to my current abilities, I’ve given this one a name for ease of identification.

This is the workout I completed one day last week.  Again, my workout designs are that they be short and intense with short meaning 20 minutes long and intense meaning that which is very hard to complete and that brings serious thoughts of quitting about half way into the workout.

This is the single-arm KB complex I did:

  #1 – swing x 5, then

  #2 – clean x 4, then

  #3 – rack squat x 3, then

  #4 – snatch x 2, then

  #5 = strict overhead press x 1 plus a 10-count hold at the top of the press.

I completed this complex on the right side first, did a swing switch and repeated on my left side to complete one round.

I started a new round every 3 minutes and completed 5 rounds in 13:55. I took slightly over one minute to catch my breath until the 15-minute mark and then spent the last five minutes stretching my lower body.

It was a tough workout for sure that I’ve named my 5-4-3-2-1 plus 10-count hold single KB complex, but to be brief, you can call it the 5-4-3-2-1 +.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

At a neighborhood park

I recently read on an internet retirement discussion forum where an individual shared how he now understood what his deceased father meant.

He shared how his father used to say, after he had been retired for about five years, how retirement was just an extremely boring way waiting to die.  He also shared how he couldn’t understand his father’s message.  He was still working at the time but has been retired for six years and now clearly understands. 

It seems like he’s had frustrating experiences trying the volunteer route to have meaning and purpose being retired.  Apparently, his volunteer experiences have not turned out well.  He shared how he “. . . either got dumped on or tired of being used and quit.”  He appeared to have noticeable case of “sour grapes” and ungrateful of his volunteer experiences.

Yet someone else shared how their experiences with volunteer work have been different and gratifying, despite not having any special merit, skill or intelligence which led them to what they now do as a volunteer. They shared being grateful for their volunteer work. 

An important consideration in the major decision of whether to retire or keep doing what we do in our professions and trades is the desire of our spouses.

Some of us, despite having gracefully-aged to a point of being retirement-aged qualified and financially-comfortable to retire, prefer to stay on our work pony and continue the ride a little longer.  Yet we may have a spouse that begs to differ.  This can be an emotional tug of war with ensuing conflict.

This gentlemen’s sharing of his father’s perspective about how retirement was just an extremely boring way waiting to die helps explain why many stay riding their work ponies past traditional retirement age, particularly the self-employed types. 

Sure, volunteer work is an option and it’s nice to know so many retired folks have found a legacy-career calling doing meaningful volunteer work.

But for many individuals who are retirement-age qualified and financially-able to retire, they may view doing volunteer work like being a retired professional boxer who enjoyed the limelight being in the ring but who now spends his time shadow boxing at the neighborhood park.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, February 20, 2017

Wait a little longer

In the scheme of very important things of the world, a relatively unimportant event happened over the weekend.  This middle-aged man had a birthday and can now proudly call himself 62-years-young.

I made it and I’m blessed.

Along with this magic number 62 comes a new entitlement of being able to start collecting a monthly Social Security benefit check from the government.  I’ve earned it so a natural first impression is to sign up immediately and start new money rolling into my bank account.

Middle-aged men who have come of this age know that the benefit amount is reduced when you start collecting before normal retirement age.  For this middle-aged man, full retirement age is 66 years and 2 months.  If I start collecting now, my benefit would be about 27 percent less than if I waited another 4 years until full retirement age.

There’s a greater financial incentive waiting even longer until age 70 at which time my benefit will be about 32 percent more than what it would be at full retirement age.

So, it all boils down to how long we think we’ll live.  Who knows is an honest answer so some guesswork is necessary while this middle-aged man looks carefully to his left and right crossing a busy street.

Having weighed all this carefully, over and over, this middle-aged man thinks he’ll wait a little longer.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, February 17, 2017

New fitness math

Over my long middle-aged man fitness journey, I’ve trained in a variety of ways and have kept record of my fitness training doings.  It’s how my brain works.  Record a workout, study my effort, repeat the workout periodically and strive to improve my performance.

Generally, this performance improvement has been measured in the time it takes to complete the same workout.  When I used to be a runner, it was, for example, the time it took to run a fixed distance.  So, when I ran a 5k distance 45 seconds faster than the prior time, I did myself good.  Less time was better than more time, and fitness progress in my book.

Or, for example, I may have had a workout that had a time limit to it and my effort was directed towards how many repetitions of an exercise, or how many rounds of a multiple-exercise superset complex I could complete in a fixed time allotment.  More repetitions or rounds completed compared to the last time was fitness progress in my book.

And when I was into lifting heavier weights, a single repetition completed with a weight that was more than my previous workout was fitness progress in my book.

Lately the workouts I’ve been doing have a common denominator of lasting about 20 minutes in duration.  As my fitness improves, again, my natural inclination is how it has historically been; complete more repetitions or rounds in the same time while generally keeping constant the load (weight) of my training implement.  These days I’m using kettlebells as my training implement. 

But this is not what I’ve decided to do.  Instead, I’m keeping the repetitions and/or rounds relatively fixed and increasing the load as my measure of progress.  So, if my kettlebell complex consists of 5 rounds of 5 exercises performed with each arm for 5 repetitions, I’ll stick with this 5x5x5 plan and ramp up the weight of the kettlebell I’m using for this workout, while still limiting my workout to 20 minutes.

For lack of a better term, I’ll call this my new fitness math.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Another quick workout share

Lately I’ve been disciplined and have shared a new blogflection every Monday through Friday here at Pierini Fitness.  This discipline must also be accompanied by free-spirited thinking to come up with something to write and share.  Sometimes this is not easier done than said.

When a struggle ensues, there’s always the filler of sharing a recent workout and that’s what will be today’s blogflection.

My last workout was two days ago; it was another quick 20-minute workout done while at work in a spare office.   I did the following kettlebell (KB) complex using my trusted 20kg KB.  It consisted of the following:

(1)  KB snatch right x 5, then

(2)  KB hand-to-hand swing x 20, and finally

(3)  KB snatch left x 5

This constituted one round.  I started a new round every two minutes and completed 10 rounds in 19:05. Taking full advantage of my 20-minute clock, I spent the remaining 55 seconds catching my breath.

I liked this quick workout and will add it to my training tool box.

Well that’s all for today folks, just another quick workout share.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

More than Q-tips

My legendary morning encounters with my bathroom mirror seem to be taking a little longer some days of the week.  It seems an extra step is needed in my middle-aged man morning personal hygiene ensemble.

Yes, it seems that washing my hands, shaving my beard, combing my hair and brushing my teeth doesn’t quite get the job done preparing me to enter my daily world as a middle-aged man “pretty boy”.

I’ve previously shared about how my middle-aged man nostril hair has become somewhat of a nuisance.  This nuisance requires an additional morning personal hygiene step every now and then.  I wrote about it here:  Somewhat of a nuisance

Now it seems one extra step is also needed; not every day but at least once a week and sometimes more.  This extra step doesn’t take long but does require a steady hand and attention to detail. 

And, like my other somewhat of a nuisance, this one also requires a specialty gadget.

You see, some days tending to the personal hygiene of this middle-aged man’s ears requires more than Q-tips.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Roses are red my love

This is a shout to all married middle-aged men to not forget that special valentine wife in your life today. 

The standard safe practice is to bring home a dozen roses.  Cheapo middle-aged men might not want the shrink their fat wallet with a dozen roses, instead opting for a nice greeting card or a small box of See’s candies.

Whatever your trick is of getting the job done and staying off the couch, you may be searching for something a bit cleverer, something that’s creative, makes you vulnerable and requires more effort on your part.

This middle-aged man has his own, think-outside-the-box, idea and has been practicing behind the scene for some time in preparation for today’s big day.

What might this be?

A karaoke-style delivery of an old-school song from long ago sung the great Bobby Vinton, who has been described as the most successful love singer of the early rock and roll era.

Hey middle-aged man, today’s your big day.  Clear your throat, take a swig of water, grab your mic and sing to your little lady, roses are red my love.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, February 13, 2017

Than they are

We’ve probably said it before, perhaps often enough that it sounds like a broken record.  It never seems to annoy us so why does it when someone else says it?

What is it I’m talking about?

When that “pretty boy” middle-aged man mouths off saying, how people always tell him he doesn’t look his age but 10, 15 or 20 years younger.

Someone within my reach said this recently.  My first reaction was to pinch my nose because it smelled like a skunk had entered my mindscape.

It’s well-known that oftentimes when we find annoying the company of someone, their behavior or what they say, it’s because it mirrors something about ourselves that deep down inside, maybe at a sub-conscious level, we find annoying. 

So, in my continuing personal growth of ridding myself of my own annoyances, I’ve resolved to no longer banter my audiences with prideful boasts about how someone told me I don’t look my age.  I’ve decided to take a different approach.

This approach pays no disrespect to the person paying me the compliment, but it doesn’t create a “tit for tat” obligation for me to return the favor by uttering the falsity, “And so do you.”

Rather, I’ll take the compliment, thank the person and demonstrate appreciation of their benevolent intention.  Then, I’ll privately remind myself that I do look my age.

Oftentimes, compliments like this are given by people who look older than they are.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, February 10, 2017

Prescription for today

Eat and exercise as little as possible to be as fit, functional and strong as you need to be living the life you've chosen.  Anything beyond this "as little as possible" prescription provides recreational and social benefits more than extended life expectancy benefits.

The research on calorie restriction (CR) and intermittent fasting (IF) protocols of eating for good health are convincing.  I've practiced IF several times over the past 7 years, and am currently doing it again, this time with a 5-hour eating window in a 24-hour day.  It takes about one to two weeks to reprogram the brain and clock-driven habit eating most of us practice.

"Oh, it's 12:00 noon, time to eat lunch."  Maybe you're not hungry.

Based on my own experiences over more than 25 years of playing this fitness, health and wellness game, I honestly believe it doesn't matter what you eat so long as you just eat less.

If you practice IF to eat less, it's all about picking a smart feeding window that considers your work and other activities.  Sometimes it's hard to do this unless you're a one-man band because you've got to be mindful of what's the best time to eat as a family.

And if you're eating less, you must be mindful of exercise volume because of the appetite it creates.  The calories you burn from running hard on the treadmill for 30 minutes can be eaten in about two minutes.  I have a saying: "The cardio pony will make a stallion appetite."

I've exercised "beastly" in the past with unbelievable training volume and some relatively-speaking great performance progressions in my chosen fitness activities.  While it felt great to be super-fit, run faster, lift more and be more skillfully-agile, honestly these accomplishments probably didn't do much adding to my potential life expectancy from what I'm now doing, exercising three times a week for 20-minute workouts.

But that beastly training did fuel a gigantic appetite but I could “finance” the calories consumed because of all the calories burned from my beastly exercising.

Eventually, we fitness beasts decide that we've had enough and decide to taper our exercise intensity and volume.  We make a "business decision" to take a different approach that may have minimalist leanings.

When this day of reckoning arrives, unfortunately, our appetites don’t automatically taper to align with our new minimalist fitness lifestyle, because our minds and pleasure systems have grown comfortable with eating big.

There starts the problem for many middle-aged men.

So, for all “been there and done it” fitness beasts who are now embarking on doing something different with a minimalist leaning, read my lips: "Eat and exercise as little as possible to be as fit, functional and strong as you need to be living the life you've chosen."

This is my middle-aged man fit, health and wellness prescription for today.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sniff it first

In what’s not new news, but it’s to me, I recently read how a simple peanut butter test can be used to confirm the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.

University researchers conducted a study on 90 participants in 2013 using a peanut butter smell test.  From this test, researchers confirmed early state Alzheimer’s diagnosis and other forms of dementia.  This test also confirmed that other participants had no diagnosed cognitive or neurological problems.

Apparently, only those participants who had a confirmed diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s found it difficult to smell the peanut butter.  And the trouble they had was harder when using their left nostril.

This middle-aged man is prone to memory fog, now and then, and he likes peanut butter. Being ever mindful that my gracefully-aging journey will likely bring on more instances of progressive memory challenges, maybe what I need to be doing before shoving a whopping tablespoon of peanut butter down my throat is to, using my left nostril, sniff it first.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum