Wednesday, January 30, 2019

15 x 4 = 60

Something Pierini Fitness has said for a long time, in the context of middle-aged man fitness training is, “Something is better than nothing.”

Reminded of this, I decided to put it into action on Monday and Tuesday, action-packed work days that had me sitting in front of my office desktop computer all day attending work-related continuing education webinars.

One of the things I’ve found effective as an “old man in training” is walking.  Not necessarily an only activity but part of a total fitness training curriculum.  And, on days following a very hard-core workout, yes, a stand-along fitness activity.   

What I’ve learned is how much I like a one-hour walk, done at different paces.  Some days, my walk is brisk and other days it’s relaxed and gingerly.  Regardless, an hour is an hour or at least the last time I did the math.

So, on Monday I wanted to get in on the action with an hour, or 60 minutes, walking, but knew it would be difficult to walk for one continuous hour given my education commitments.  That’s when I did a little math to solve my fitness training riddle for the day.

I decided to walk early in the morning before my webinar began.  Starting at 8:15 a.m., I took a brisk walk and was done 15 minutes later.

Then, during a morning webinar break, I walked again starting at 10:25 a.m. and 15 minutes later I was done.

For lunch, I planned on doing the same but other stuff got in my way. 

During an afternoon webinar break, I walked again starting at 2:30 p.m. and 15 minutes later I was done.

Finally, I walked one more time after the webinar concluded starting at 3:40 p.m. and 15 minutes later I was done.

All 15-minute walking episodes were brisk at about a 15-minute mile pace.

The next day, on Tuesday, I decided to repeat this math lesson, this time doing brief step-up sessions.    At four times during the day, I performed 4-count step-ups onto a 12-inch step kept in my office.  My approach was continuous step-ups done at average pace of 25 step-ups per minute or 375 total step-ups in 15 minutes.  Just like the previous day, it all added up to 60 minutes of exercise and collectively, 1,500 step-ups.

Well, by golly, despite being busy on Monday and Tuesday, challenging my ability to get in workouts during my preferred exercise duration - at least 60 continuous minutes - l still was able to get one hour, or 60 minutes, of exercise because 15 x 4 = 60.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 28, 2019

How many calories a day do you eat?

A couple years ago, Mrs. Pierini Fitness asked me how much we spend on food.  What triggered her question was a conversation she had with her, then, 88-year "young" father about how much he spends on food.  His answer was shocking.  Knowing he's a master of frugality, I have every reason to believe it's true.  I even put his answer to a sophisticated financial analysis and confirmed its probable authenticity.

What he shared was that he spends about $20 a week on food!   How is that possible you might ask while, more likely than not, scratching your head searching for your own answer to this question.

In answering my wife's question about how much we spend on food, I didn't need to lick my finger and calculate a guestimate because I know for sure since I’m the chief financial officer in our Pierini Fitness household.  My answer was a little embarrassing because of how it was significantly more than my father-in-law's answer.

Fast forward to the present, for 2018, my wife and I spent an average of $654 per month on food.  Yikes, I bellow after doing the math to arrive at this amount.  It includes grocery store shopping, primarily at Trader Joe's, eating out, and my daily morning cup of coffee on the go.  We don't drink alcoholic adult beverages but, if we did, that would need to be included in my calculation and it should in yours.  Only food counted in my answer, so I excluded toilet paper and other non-food stuff we sometimes purchase during food shopping at Costco.  These items are not "food."

Going back to a couple years ago, I asked several people I know having a similar profile in life; the empty-nesters, not obese, married couples who are middle-aged folks in their 50's and 60's.  What I learned is that most people do not know how much they spend eating but they're able to give a quick guestimate.  

My sister and brother-in-law answered about $600 to $700 per month.

An old high-school friend and client answered about $500 per month.

Someone else I know answered about $750 per month.

And, a few clients who are business owners gave answers ranging from about $1,000 per month to a high of about $1,600 per month.

After this quick survey, I then asked this question on a retirement discussion forum I sometimes frequent.  My question generated a lot of interest and sharing as evidenced by over 175 replies and almost 9,000 views by forum participants.  Their sharing was insightful and revealing about how diverse, affordable and/or expensive are our eating habits and associated costs.

How did my, then, 88-year "young" father-in-law manage to eat on about $20 a week?

Well, he's a creature of habit and has been for most of his life.  My wife recalls as a child that her father was sometimes in charge of cooking breakfast for her and her brother on school days.  There were never-ending streaks of either scrambled eggs or oatmeal on his menu; "mush" as she called it because it was overcooked oatmeal that had turned into a mushy-like consistency.

Additionally, the "old man" is a very light eater.  His breakfast reliably consists of a small bowl of mush and a piece of fruit with a very-overripe banana being his morning fruit of choice.  He finds the price of overripe bananas better suites his incessant frugality.

He cooks all his meals at home but on some days, he goes to a senior center social club that is notorious for potluck events.  And then he has constant funerals to attend that come with his 88-year "young" turf.  Meals are often provided during celebration of life post-funeral festivities.

For lunch, he likes home-cooked lentils, a small serving of chicken, a couple corn tortillas and maybe another piece of fruit.  He does have a sweet tooth of sorts so he might conclude his lunch with dessert consisting of a couple, but no more, cookies.

For dinner, he might eat a couple of homemade tacos and a serving of rice and beans.

My father-in-law is of Mexican ancestry, lean and lightweight and, proudly, prescription medicine-free.  Furthermore, he comes from a generation when people cooked their meals and ate at home; eating out was for special occasions only.  I do believe he spends about $20 a week on food.  He's a 10th degree black belt master of frugality!

By the way, also asked this same question to my, then, 85-year "young" mother who, like my father-in-law, lived alone.  She estimated her monthly food budget was about $150.  She was a waitress when in the working “rat race” so her idea of eating well is to cook and prepare meals at home and not go to a restaurant.  She has a permanent case of restaurant burnout from all her years of "waitressing".

My wife follows a gluten-free diet for health reasons and just about all the food we buy is organic.  We aren't gentleman or lady farmer types growing our own fruits and vegetables and neither do we care to be.  These factors contribute to our higher food budget. 

I know from prior and current health and wellness self-scientific experiments of practicing intermittent fasting (IF), that it's one surefire way to lower the cost of eating because you end up eating less food.  But who has the time and desire to do that?  For most of us, our clock and mindset centers around food.  This is America, the land of bountiful excess.

So, what's the purpose of this rambling and how does it relate to middle-age man fitness, health and welfare?

Well, being fit, healthy and well requires that we eat only the food required to meet our daily requirements considering our basic metabolic requirements, an extra allowance for lifestyle activity and, finally, an additional amount equal to the calories we burn from exercising.  If we don’t know how much we spend on food, how likely is it we’ll know how much we eat as measured by calories?  An earlier Pierini Fitness blogflection shared with you the relationship between calories consumed and calories expended, or CICO (calories in calories out.)

Here it is if you missed it:  The mathematical proof of CICO

What about you, my fellow middle-aged man?  What's your cost of eating and how many calories a day do you eat?

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 25, 2019

Run, walk and run

Pierini Fitness, circa 2004 - a long time ago!

Pierini Fitness has had an on again off again relationship with running the past dozen years.  And now, the relationship is back on again.  For how long?  Time will tell but there’s no doubt about it, running has its place in the middle-aged man fitness toolbox for those who want to reap its tremendous cardiovascular, mobility and self-defense benefits.

The cardiovascular benefits are without question.  A somewhat dated, yet still relevant, research done on this reported than “running is an excellent means of conditioning the cardiovascular system. It is a highly aerobic activity that utilizes both fatty acids and carbohydrates for energy. The typical runner tends to have a slow resting pulse rate and a high maximal oxygen consumption.”  Read more here:  Cardiovascularaspects of running

Mobility is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.  Since running is an activity of moving from here to there and since practice makes perfect, running, therefore, improves our middle-aged man abilities to more easily and efficiently move and, thus, be mobile.

The self-defense part may have you wondering and wanting to know more.  The best example is with a story.  Here’s one from a long time ago:  Run, run, run

So, what’s my current running curriculum?  Twice a week which will not resurrect me into a world-class middle-aged man runner but that’s not a goal.

Twice a week, consisting of a Sprint 8 workout one day and a run, walk, run workout the other day.  It’s a current running work-in-progress that I’ve recently begun to rekindle my past joy of being a middle-aged man fun runner.  How long will this last?  As with all middle-aged man fitness training and goals, time will tell.  I’ll give you updates from time to time, particularly if I’ve done something worth sharing.

Sprint 8 workout

So, what’s the Sprint 8 workout?  Pierini Fitness explained it here: 

Last Saturday, my workout was 8 rounds of 30 seconds sprinting and 90 seconds of walking recovery, done on a high school all-weather track.  The weather was amazingly wonderful for January, perfect for this workout. 

This is always a tough workout and that was my case.  For the fitness data geeks like me, here’s a statistical summary of my effort:

Mile pace for 0:30

These mile paces are the equivalent to sprinting between 120 and 135 meters during the sprint portion of the rounds.  This is pathetically slow compared to my past but I’m not complaining and am glad I was able to complete the workout.

Excluding a 2-minute warm-up and 2-minute cool-down, these 8 rounds took 16 minutes to complete. 

Here’s a snapshot of the cardiovascular demands of this workout:

There’s no doubt about it, a weekly dose of Sprint 8 training will help this middle-aged man ratchet his cardiovascular conditioning to the next level.

Run, walk, run workout
So, what’s a run, walk, run workout?

I guess the best way to describe it is a running workout done sort of like a “grease the groove” workout that was discussed in a Pierini Fitness post a few days ago about a pull-up workout.

I first learned about run, walk, run when listening to a presentation by running great Jeff Galloway.  You can learn more about this approach here:

Earlier this week, I did a run, walk, run workout for a long run lasting one hour.  What I did was run for 3:10 and then walk for 0:50 for 15 rounds, taking exactly one hour to complete.  It’s about the third time I’ve done this workout.  Initially, I started with 3:00 of running and 1:00 of walking and each successive workout I’ve increased the run time by 0:05 and decreased the walk time by the same time.

Since my running speed is a far cry from its former self, during this one-hour run, walk, run workout was for 5.78 miles, which is a slow 10:23 mile pace.  Undoubtedly, my distance covered will improve over time.  Interesting is that my average and maximum heart rate for this workout was comparable to the Sprint 8 workout, as shared above.

Consider adding running to your middle-aged man fitness toolbox.  Then, together, we'll be improving our cardiovascular conditioning, mobility and self-defense skills by a once a week date with Sprint 8 and a workout where we run, walk and run.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Where's the beef?

Recently, Pierini Fitness read an article with a clever clickbait title Eating meat has ‘dire’ consequences for the planet, says report.  It said that a new report, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, offers a solution to feed a rising global human population expected to be 10 billion people by 2050.  Apparently, the way we’ve been eating can’t be sustained in the future with 10 billion hungry people.

This report, compiled by a group of 30 scientists from around the world who study nutrition or food policy, was three years in the making and its authors deliberated with the intent of creating recommendations that could be adopted by governments to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population.  The bottom-line recommendation is to follow a largely plant-based diet, with small, occasional allowances for meat, dairy, and sugar.

The article reported how this report weighed different side-effects of food production, such as greenhouse gases, water and crop use, nitrogen or phosphorous from fertilizers, and the potential for biodiversity to take a hit should a region be converted into farmland. By adopting the recommended plant-based diet, the report's authors say climate change-inducing gases could be reduced and enough land could be reserved to feed the world's growing population.

This isn’t the first-time news like this has been reported.  Upon reading this, Pierini Fitness was curious who these researchers were and who funded this research study.  You know the saying, follow the money.  It provides clues so that after we’ve taken everything into account, we can say, borrowing what the late and great Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

According an January 20, 2019 article published at, obviously representing ranchers and others delivering us middle-aged men our beef, this research study was funded by “vegan billionaires” and “screams of centralized control of our dietary choices with a globalized system that mandates what we can and cannot eat. What’s worse, these recommendations are elitist and ideological, lacking in science and common sense.”

Elsewhere, one obesity researcher recently carried out an analysis into the effects of eating this new suggested plant-based diet and found it’s deficient in several important nutrients.  For example, comparing it with the current authoritative US diet recommendations, this recommended plant-based diet would only provide 5 percent of vitamin D recommended, 17% of vitamin A (retinol) and just 55% of the calcium recommendations.

What’s the Pierini Fitness recommendation to all middle-aged men?  Do your own research and make your own conclusions but when hungry you may very well ask as Pierini Fitness does, “Where’s the beef?”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 21, 2019

Get our Fountain of Youth back

Content here at Pierini Fitness – all original and written by its chief executive blogger also named Pierini Fitness – generally follows the genre of “middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully-aging and trying my best to live a good and honest life.” 

Those of you who have read Pierini Fitness over its 10 years in existence, know there’s also good middle-aged man diet, fitness and health stuff here too.  Occasionally, I share a snapshot from my training journals and that’s what I’m doing today.

Today I’m sharing part of my Saturday workout from a couple days ago. It was a workout of alternating pull-ups and chin-ups done with a “greasing the groove” cadence.

What’s greasing the groove?  It’s an approach to doing an exercise frequently where every set is performed without going to muscular fatigue.  Do a Google search and read up on it if you’re unfamiliar with this training method.

About a dozen years ago when I was closer to being in my prime, I was a pull-up “beast” and regularly completed some amazing high-volume workouts.  I also did heavy weighted single pull-ups and chin-ups.  I recall doing a pull-up with 88 lbs. strapped around my waist, and a chin-up with 100-lbs. added.  I built a killer back from doing this “simple” exercise.

Pierini Fitness circa 2007 at about age 52

Here’s the detail from my Saturday workout:

# of rounds and reps

Reps done

Start new round every
10 rounds of 3 reps
60 seconds
10 rounds of 2 reps
30 seconds
20 rounds of 2 reps
Flexible based on feel
Finish as quickly as possible

Total reps completed

My plan was also to perform this workout as a superset with bar dips, but I only did bar dips for the first 10 rounds as my right tricep muscle had a funny feel to it and I didn’t want to injure it.  I was able to complete 35 bar dips in these 10 rounds.  Pull-ups and bar dips make a nice couple for a superset workout, so I’ll try again soon. 

If you want to restore some lost pull-up performance like me, let’s do a once-a-week volume workout of pull-ups and chin-ups greasing the groove style.  While it won’t be our primary purpose, who knows, we may get our Fountain of Youth back.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 18, 2019

Pierini Fitness KB carries complex

For the longest time I’ve wanted to make more workout videos and finally got around to it last Friday.  Today I’m sharing what I hope to be one of many to follow this year.  This workout uses my favorite exercise implement, the kettlebell (KB) of the 24kg load variety.  Of course, if you decide to take this workout for a test drive, size it as to duration and load according to your current abilities.

This is something that doesn’t always come easy for me.  For example, when viewing various workouts posted on fitness-related websites and YouTube, it seems that so many of them are intended for the younger fitness enthusiast in mind.  We “older folks” - the middle-aged men fitness enthusiast around the world - can easily be lured into believing that we should also be able to do these workouts with the same loads and in the same time as that younger whippersnapper demonstrating it in “dog and pony show” fashion during classroom show and tell time.

In my gracefully-aging journey, I confess that I’m at a different chapter in my fitness life.  It’s, therefore, essential to scale my workouts according to my current abilities.  Yet, they need to be challenging and requiring me to reach for the stars in my pursuit of middle-aged man fitness excellence.  I’m sure you’re no different.

Blah, blah, blah, blah!  Let’s get down to business with today’s workout that I’ve named the Pierini Fitness kettlebell (KB) carries complex.  It consists of three single-arm KB carries, each performed with your right arm first, and then left arm.  Each carry is held for one minute.  You have 15 seconds to change sides and carries.  When performed as prescribed, it’ll takes 7:30 to complete one round.  If you perform this workout for the first time, you may find, as I did, that one round is enough.

Eventually, I advanced to two rounds and that’s what I did the day I filmed this video, but only the first round is included in the video you’re about to view.

I gave myself 2:30 of recovery after the first round before beginning the second round.  Soon I’ll be ready to tackle three rounds but need to attempt this on a day when that’s all I do.  When filming this video last Friday, I had already completed a 25-minute “grease the groove” workout of alternating pull-ups and chin-ups.  I need to be 100 percent fresh to attempt three rounds of this KB carries complex.

So, when completed as prescribed, here’s what a timeline of one round looks like: 

KB carry
Cumulative time
 Waiter carry R
 Waiter carry L
 Rack carry R
 Rack carry L
 Suitcase carry R
 Suitcase carry L

Here’s a video demonstration of me performing one round last Friday.

With the current KB weight, the time under tension of this workout will make your shoulders and entire core musculature feel that they’ve been worked hard.

This workout will also give you a decent serving of cardiovascular training, like it did for me, as indicated in the snapshot image below of heart rate statistics reported by my Garmin Forerunner 35:

My average heart rate (MHR) during this workout was 146 beats per minute.  Since I’ve self-assessed my MHR at 180 beats per minute, this means that I worked at 81 percent of my MHR during this workout. 

My highest heart rate during this workout was 163 beats per minute, or 91 percent of my MHR. 

Make no doubts about it, this KB carries complex is a bona-fide cardiovascular conditioning workout.

Take it for a test drive the next time you’re up for something different and then let me know what you think about my Pierini Fitness KB carries complex.

 Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum