Friday, January 31, 2020

I can do that too

Pierini Fitness stays focused by primarily writing stuff having a theme of middle-age man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying to live a good and honest life.  But he also delivers, some “scholarly masterpieces” on fitness, health and wellness; again, having a middle-age man theme.

When I first began my blogging journey over a decade ago, the original idea was that Pierini Fitness would be a cyberspace arena I’d use to journal my fitness training workouts.  Along the way, and early in the game, I composed my timeless classic, Every man who looks in the mirror sees a 16-year old kid.  Realizing I was on to something, I immediately switched gears and started delivering reflections of the genre most often posted here.

Restless, from time to time, I would occasionally venture out and write economic and political stuff but quickly realized there is no shortage of middle-age man stiffs focusing on this content.  So, I backed off and focused on writing what I enjoy the most.

Yet along the way, there was this urge to express myself about economic and political arena thoughts that surfaced in my mind’s eye from time to time.  One day, about three years ago, I submitted an article to my hometown newspaper and shortly thereafter, received a telephone call from someone on the newspaper’s Editorial Board expressing an interest in publishing my submission.  Pierini Fitness, the economic and political commentator, was born.

Over the next few months, I submitted and had published four op-ed articles appearing in the Sunday edition of my hometown newspaper.  It was a great experience and I received a decent amount of both “fan” and “hate” e-mails from readers of my articles.  It was fun and I quickly discovered how I liked being a “bad guy” and ruffling the feathers of the lefties reading my hometown newspaper.

Here are links to the four articles I wrote:

Absent workers fired for ‘Day Without Immigrants’ protest learned a lesson in capitalism 

A capitalist approach is needed when replacing Obamacare

Aging California needs a fountain-of-youth solution

What’s the solution to California’s unaffordable housing crisis?

I was one a roll and the sky was my limit, but my brief career as a published op-ed article writer abruptly ended when my contact at the newspaper took an early retirement.  His replacement, I quickly discovered, failed to see my talents in my subsequent article submissions.  I tried and tried many times, but each submission was not accepted.  So, I decided to throw in the towel, quit while I was ahead and take an early retirement as an op-ed article writer about economic and political matters.

It was fun while it lasted!

This is an election year and although there’s a sizable cast of characters expressing themselves at various venues about their economic and political thoughts.  I can tell when reading their stuff how they’re enjoying what they’re doing.  I’m happy for them yet feel sorry for those who are confused in their thoughts.

Pierini Fitness does now and then get the itch to express himself on these matters, and he may from time to time this year because, after all, it’s an election year and I judge that my thoughts are desperately needed to balance out that which is expressed in the cyberspace political cloud of economic and political thoughts.

So, stay tuned because you might be reading some of my economic and political thought stuff in the months ahead because I can do that too.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Confusion delusion

If you’re like me, you must always be on guard for the nonsense floating around in our middle-aged man mind’s eye.  In the modern and fancy world in which we live, opportunities abound in the tales others tell us, the “news” we read and the testimonials teasing us about the glory and grandeur awaiting us if we only knew the secrets to success.  These are secrets that only others, but not us, know.

We’re fooled into believing there’s a pot of gold awaiting us at the end of a rainbow; we’re attracted to it, an attraction for perfection.  Inside this pot of gold are nuggets of great and wonderful faith, family, fitness, fortune and health.

We may want to be stellar in our faith, whatever our faith happens to be.  What middle-age man doesn’t want to go to Heaven?  Even atheists and pagans have faith; they believe in something, even if it’s nothing.  Entering their nothing afterlife just happens to be their heaven.

We may want to have a better family life, a kingdom bearing our surname where we are almighty patriarchs to whom familial chants in joyous chorus are sang, “Oh ye, who knowest all!”  Ozzy and Harriet and The Waltons planted those seeds of desire long ago.

What about fitness?   What middle-age man doesn’t want to be physically fit, not just a little, but a lot?  We all want to look good at the beach, capable of taking off our shirts on demand and drawing boundless oohs and awes from those who pass by.  There’s a Brutus Beefcake in our id.

No discussion is complete without mention of middle-age man fortune desires.  We have no shortage of frequent reminders in the internet articles we read, billboard ads we see and even discussions we have with some of our phony baloney peers who are perpetually chasing their imaginary end-of-the-rainbow pot of gold. They never have enough proving the truth that we can never have enough of what we don’t need.

Finally, what middle-aged man doesn’t want great health?  Yes, great health, not OK or good health but great health.  Heck, maybe excellent health or tremendously excellent health best describes our attraction, described in the most superlative way possible.

This is a big agenda we create for ourselves, a loaded to do list, like an 18-units full load college semester of upper division courses we’re tackling where we’ll settle for nothing less than “Straight A’s.”

Can we do it?  Is it possible?  What happens if we fail?  Why do some subject themselves to such a full plate of overwhelming pursuits?  Why do I?

When catching ourselves in such a quandary that we alone have created, let’s break away from the shackles keeping us in bondage to our middle-aged man confusion delusion.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 27, 2020

A speeding bus with my name on it

Last Monday, I shared my latest interest in heart rate recovery (HRR) after my workouts after recently reading an article written by a medical doctor cardiologist.  This article shared the doctor’s experience in measuring his HRR after a workout he did and how research evidence indicates that HRR is a simple and powerful predictor of mortality. 

Again, what’s HRR?

It’s the rate of decline in heart rate beats per minute (bpm) after you quit exercising and again a minute later (and/or two minutes later) and subtract one from the other.

There’s a 1999 study that examined the relationship between HRR and mortality risk.  This research revealed an average one-minute HRR of 17 bpm, but 26 percent of patients had an HRR of less than 13 bpm. Patients with an HRR of less than 13 bpm had a double risk of dying.

Another follow-up study of about 10 thousand patients found that an HRR of less than 13 bpm doubled the 5-year risk of death.

Yet another study reported that a 2-minute HRR of less than 22 bpm provided a better measure predicting mortality at seven years than the one-minute test.

Being an analytical beast, I decided to capture my HRR for three recent cardiovascular conditioning workouts.  Below is an HRR analysis executive briefing of them.  Note that my perceived maximum HR is 180 bpm.

Sunday, January 19, 2020
Workout – Run 6.0 miles in 1:04:44. 

HRR analysis - end of run 160 bpm - 1:00 = 120 bpm (-40 bpm) - 2:00 = 111 (-49 bpm). 

Monday, January 20, 2020
Workout – Bodyweight squats for 110 reps completed in 4:48.

HRR analysis - start 110 bpm end of BW squats 147 bpm - 1:00 = 116 bpm (-31bpm) - 2:00 = 106 (-41 bpm). 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Workout - 20kg kettlebell snatch, right side x 5 reps and left-side 5 reps every minute on the minute for 10 rounds completed in 9:48.

HRR analysis - end of workout 157 bpm - 1:00 = 133 bpm (-24 bpm) - 2:00 = 117 bpm (-40 bpm).

These results indicate I enjoy a lower risk of cardiovascular-related mortality, so I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing with my cardiovascular conditioning training.

But there are no guarantees in life regarding my premature mortality.    I could have an early meeting with the Grim Reaper if, for example, one day I’m crossing the street and am met by a speeding bus having my name on it.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Thursday, January 23, 2020

OK boomer

It’s normal for us middle-aged men to have ambivalent feelings from time to time about our gracefully aging journeys.  On one hand, we’re blessed with perspectives and wisdom coming from a life well-lived, having racked up many lessons of life along the way.

On the other hand, at any given moment, more so upon awakening or late at night before calling it another day of life, we may be toiling with aches, atrophy, rust and wrinkles, physically and emotionally,  that shout out as “friendly reminders” that our journeys toward the end of our lives are getting closer to the end.  This assumes, of course, we’re not afflicted with stage 4 denial.  

Which of the two is the better?

Neither, because they come as a package that, most of the time, results in a middle-aged man blur with one not being distinguishable from the other. 

Would we rather turn back the clocks of our lifetimes to our more youthful yesteryears, or to be content and grateful with what we’ve got and how we are at our now moments?

Perhaps this pearl of wisdom from an aging older woman, actress Helen Mirren, says it best:  “With every age comes advantages and disadvantages. And you tend to find you don’t want to go back.  You want to be exactly where you are with everything you’ve experienced.”

What a great and healthy perspective this is, yet we might still ponder it along with a realization of thinking getting old would take longer.  And a realization that someone once shared with me when I asked how he was doing and he replied, “I’m getting old and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Nevertheless, we must gallantly continue marching forward in our gracefully aging journeys, flaunting our baby boomer perspectives and wisdom to the youthful generations, the cast of characters who stand below us in the wisdom department, known by others as Generation X, Millennial and Generation Z.

These youthful characters may not always appreciate our perspectives and wisdom, thinking they’re laden with old-fashioned, unsolicited and not of value attributes in today’s modern and fast-paced “real world” in which they live.

“Thanks, but no thanks”, they may say if they’re trying their best to be semi-courteous.  Or, if they’re curt, maybe we’ll “luck out” and get an “OK boomer.”

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Monday, January 20, 2020

I'm interested in my HRR

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.  According to statistics appearing on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, heart disease leads the top ten pack, accounting for 31 percent of all deaths for 2017, the latest-published information.

National Center for Health Statistics - USA Numbers for Leading Causes of Death

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
The above statistics are for all ages, both male and female.  Since Pierini Fitness will be a “newly-crowned” Medicare Man next month, he decided to see what the statistics are for age 65 years and above males.  According to the same source, for males age 65 years and older all races and origins, diseases of the heart contributed to 27 percent of all deaths for 2017.  This was surprising in that the percentage for all age groups male and female.

Nonetheless, it’s too high for Pierini Fitness and has opened his eyes to the importance of doing everything possible for his cardiovascular conditioning and health.  Obviously, diet is important, yet what the best way to eat for good cardiovascular health is a topic of heated discussion among the many nutrition expert factions in the world all believing they know best.  I’ll say nothing more about cardiovascular health nutrition in this post, saving that discussion, perhaps, for a different day.

But I continue to believe that exercise does contribute to my cardiovascular conditioning and health.  To have some objective way of assessing, I like numbers, such as heart rate statistics obtained from my Garmin heart rate fitness monitor that I capture with each workout.  I’m an analytical junkie when it comes to my fitness, health and wellness.

Last year, about this time, I reported the results of a YMCA Bench Step Test for Cardiovascular Fitness.  This test rated my performance as excellent, so I was pleased. 

I recently read an article written by a medical doctor cardiologist who goes by the cyberspace name of The Skeptical Cardiologist.  He has a website where he shares his unbiased and evidence-based articles he has written discussing the effects of diet, drugs and procedures on heart disease.

The article I read shared the doctor’s experience in measuring his heart rate recovery (HRR) after a workout he did and how research evidence indicates that HRR is a simple and powerful predictor of mortality.  

What’s HRR?

It’s the rate of decline in heart rate after you quit exercising.  It’s measured by taking your heart rate (beats per minute of bpm) right after you stop exercising and again a minute later (and/or two minutes later) and subtract one from the other.

The Skeptical Cardiologist’s article referred to a 1999 study that reported the results of a cardiovascular research study measuring HRR and mortality risk.  In the research, the median HRR was 17 bpm but 26 percent had an HRR of less than 13 bpm. Patients with an HRR of less than 13 bpm had a double risk of dying.

Another follow-up study of about 10 thousand patients found that an HRR of less than 13 bpm doubled the 5-year risk of death.

Yet another study reported that a 2-minute HRR of less than 22 bpm provided a better measure predicting mortality at seven years than the one-minute test.

While regularly measuring heart rate performance during my workouts, the HRR stat hasn’t regularly been one of them but it’ll now be moving forward.

Yup, I’m interested in my HRR.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 17, 2020

Soon-to-be rich Medicare Man

Pierini Fitness is jumping with joy because his economic toil of paying high health insurance premiums is coming to an end next month.  In fact, I paid my last highway robbery health insurance premium late last month for January 2020.  I will no longer write another check each month for $836 because next month I’ll officially be a Medicare Man.

My new monthly health insurance premium cost will now consist of what’s called the Part B amount and the amount I pay for supplemental insurance not covering what Medicare pays.  

I won’t bore you with the details because it’s an amazingly detailed and bureaucratic economic maze that I’m sure employs tens of thousands of government employees at the Social Security Administration to shuffle the paper and collect the monthly premiums Medicare people pay each month.

The bottom line is that my monthly cost will now be $220 which $616 a month – or $7,392 a year – less than what I have been paying.  And, I will also get a free gym membership.

So, not only will I soon be a Medicare Man but a soon-to-be rich Medicare Man.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

In a redneck bar

This is the time of year Pierini Fitness gets busier with his work.  He’s been subject to this grind now for almost 40 years.  It seems like it gets easier while it seems like it doesn’t.  If this year is like the average of the past 40 years, I’ll be able to deal with it because I have in the past.

One of the challenges, though, is being on guard that my fitness, health and wellness doesn’t suffer at the expense of longer work hours.  It has in the past and I paid the price.  Not last year, though, because I was on guard.  Like a turkey vulture high on a power line looking below for roadkill that will be his next meal.  It worked so I plan on doing the same this year – being on guard.

A couple of “tricks” seem to help.  One is the mantra, “Something is better than nothing.”  My workouts, lately, tend to be longer in duration.  I’ll need to shorten them, swapping duration with intensity.  

Another one is acknowledging that I don’t need to workout every day.  That day has come and gone when I was in Pierini Fitness boot camp reclaiming my long-lost upper-percentile fitness.  Honestly, two or three days a week will keep me in maintenance during my upcoming busy work season.  More likely than not, I’ll do more than this because I find fitness training is a breath of fresh air from the drudgery of sitting at my desk all day, using my brain and grinding it out hour after hour in a high-alert analytical mode.  My workouts are like elementary school recess time; a time to play.

Thanks to good training journals from last year, a year in which I did a good job of not lightening my workout load, I’ll refer to them from time to time to be reminded that it can be done – working a long time yet finding time to squeeze in a decent workout to balance out the day.

But I will be busy working long hours and the cumulative demand of it can be overwhelming.  In the thickest of this thick, at times I’ll feel like a one-arm bouncer breaking up a big fist fight in a redneck bar.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

Friday, January 10, 2020

Easy on the eyes

Happy New Year 2020 my fellow middle-aged man brother from a different mother.  Please accept my best wishes that all your 2020 dreams and desires are realized in the new year.

I hope to finally be back on the Pierini Fitness saddle and start delivering a more regular dose of middle-aged man reflections about living and dying, gracefully aging and trying to live a good and honest life.  My efforts lately have been spotty which happens from time to time.

The new year brings a new decade of life and with it is a realization that Pierini Fitness – the blog - now covers three decades of cyberspace presence.  That’s not suggesting I’ve been at it for 30 years but, nonetheless, it now has a cyberspace presence covering three decades - 2000-2009, 2010-2019 and, now, starting 2020 decade.  God willing, hopefully there will be many more.  

So, where should I start with this first post of a new decade.  Maybe with some rambling and eventually something will come from it.  

How about sharing my Winter 2020 fitness goals for starters?  I do have some, continuing with a season-based theme of fitness goals that give me fitness training focus while having fun chasing my middle-aged man fitness, health and wellness goals.

These are the Winter 2020 fitness goals I’ve set for myself:

1 - Complete a single set of 18 pull-ups.  My best recent effort is 16 reps.

2 - Morning weigh-in no more than 175 lbs. with 170-175 lbs. being ideal weight range.  My average morning weight in 2019 was 173.22 lbs.  

3 - Complete 100 burpees in 10:00.  Yikes! - this will be a challenge and it may take until Summer 2020 before I get close to achieving this goal.  My best recent effort is 11:44 but it would take longer now after being on vacation for 15-days and hardly working out.  

4 – Perform a pull-up hang hold of 2:20.

5 – Perform a handstand hold against wall for 1:30.

6 - Make further progress lowering my body fat percentage with a Summer 2020 goal of 16.0 percent and be at 16.5 percent by end of this winter.

None of these goals will make me a more virtuous and wholesome middle-aged man.  Some of my harshest critics may think I’m chasing wind and being vain with goals like these.

Good for them being able to complete a thought!  There’s nothing wrong under the sun having goals, whatever they may be.  They give us direction as we navigate the turbulent world in which we live.  

The hard work I’ve done since reporting to Pierini Fitness boot camp last August 31, 2018 has been rewarding.  It’s enabled me to reclaim my middle-aged man fitness, health and wellness with upper-percentile strength endurance and cardiovascular-respiratory condition.  But, there’s more work to do and I’ll do it in 2020!

One of the “fruits” of my hard work has been a more pleasing-to-the-eyes body appearance, at least in my eyes.  The middle-aged man paunch is gone, my knees don’t hurt, my face doesn’t look like a chipmunk that’s been harvesting chestnuts from my previous gluttonous adventures, and my across-the-board fitness measures are all up.

Mrs. Pierini Fitness, my chief critic, did give me some honesty perspective recently.  She told me that while all my hard training has given me a more fit, lean and mean-appearing body appearance, the weight I’ve lost has made my face look like a 70-year old man.


Is it now, like, when I ring the doorbell and the person on the other side says, “Who’s there?” that my answer is “Freddy Krueger calling.”

Seems like I’ve got some other work to do.

And, what might that be?

To see if I can make my face easy on the eyes.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum