Friday, April 22, 2016

F@#k (or Eff) Fifty!

It's a matter of record that I was born in July in the year of our lord nineteen hundred and sixty six. While math is hardly my strong suit by my quick calculations that means this July I'll be......50 years young!! Oh, the humanity! 50!! Woe is me, what shall I do?? 50?!?! OK, honestly, who gives a rats ass? The very overused expression of "age is only a number" is exactly right. Is turning 50 really different in the overall scheme of things then turning 49 last year or 51 next year? Nope. I've heard 50 referred to as a "milestone" birthday. Um, ok, sure. What milestone? That for 50 years you did one of the most basic bodily functions other then breathing- you woke up?? Really if anything it's your parents milestone since they did all the work of making your actual "birth day" a reality. I have absolutely no anxiety over turning 50 and have no plans on doing anything special (well, see the end of this blog) although if me turning 50 is a good excuse to get together with friends and family then bring it on!!

A couple years ago I wrote a blog about 40-something me versus 20-something me so I won't bore you with that again (tho you can read it here but needless to say in my opinion, with a few exceptions, most aspects of my life are better at 50 then at 40 or even 30. Physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. Oh sure, I wake up with a few more aches and pains and I am starting to notice a few lines in my face but other then that I'm right as rain. I feel like as my whole life has been leading up to who I am presently, which in this case is the cusp of 50. I feel that right now, at this very moment, this is the best version of me ever. I have very few hang ups about who I am, what I do or who I do it with. I don't stress over what I do for work or how much more or less I make then my peers. I'm at ease with my relationship status or lack thereof. I'm perfectly happy being balls to the walls busy or in moments of complete solitude. I rarely feel the need to "pump my own tires" anymore because of creeping lack of self-confidence. I love where I live. I try and live life "in the black" and do without then to live in debt and have "more". I'll likely never take a yearly lavish vacation, own a "weekend" vehicle or a second home but I hope to retire without a mortgage and in decent financial standing. I have many flaws and while I try and improve on them I accept them as part of who I am and hope my positive qualities outweigh these negatives. Generally I still do and enjoy the things I have my whole life and haven't mellowed with age (no crackling fires or fern bars for this guy). Since 2013 I've gotten into some healthy, constructive routines which I hope will extend not only my life in general but also my quality of life for as long as I'm around. Plainly put, I'm good

So am I doing anything special for 50? I have 2 physical goals to accomplish by the end of 2016 (tho technically if I complete these by July 4th 2017 I would have accomplished them)- 1) To bench press 300 lbs while maintaining a weight of no more then 190 lbs (a feat which was easy for me from 20-40 years old at weights from 220-290 lbs) and to take 50,000 steps in a day (about 24-25 miles). There has been talk of a long weekend trip with some of my best fellow 50 friends and yeah, I plan to have a non-surprise get together with friends and family some time before or after my actual birthday (July 4th Weekend is a tough time for a get together). Other then that it's life as usual.

If I have any regrets at (almost) 50 it's missing those who aren't around since my last "milestone" most especially my dad. The loss of those we love is part of getting older but that doesn't make it any less painful. The lesson to take from it is when opportunity to spend time with family and friends presents itself seize the opportunity as there may not be another

So F@#K 50! Bring it on. And 51. And 55. And 60. Own your age, don't let it own you!!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Power Outage

I admit that over the last 3 years I’ve gotten used to my more streamlined, leaner, “ropy”, more vascular physique. I’ve gotten used to my better condition and more practical, real world strength. What I haven’t gotten used to is the loss of the raw power I once possessed. I know to many this may seem a silly thing to miss but it was a huge part of my life for over 25 years. It was a sacrifice that was necessary at the time but one I’m starting to rethink

As a skinny, physically weak kid, when I first discovered weight training it was just something I took to and excelled with. Within a few years I got stronger and stronger. I continued to get stronger right up through my mid-30’s. And I was strong. How strong? Well at 36 I could benchpress sets of 315, 365 and 405 lbs and a one time max of 485 lbs. This was all without special shirts, braces, trusses or use of PED’s. Yea, I was that strong. And as I didn’t have the kind of physique that screamed strong I used to draw disbelieving looks at the gym. It was empowering. It stoked my ego and raised my self-esteem. But there was a downside...

The first problem was a lifetime of powerlifting took its toll on my joints having surgeries to repair both shoulders and one knee. Worse yet is there was always a link to my power and my weight. This is pretty much true in all cases. When I was at peak strength I was around 260 lbs at 5’9” which is way, way too heavy. As I crept into my 40’s my body was hurting and my workouts slowing down but I was still stronger then nearly anyone else I know. Then the shit hit the fan

Most of you know the story by now but in a nutshell after the physical from hell I made the decision to get healthier to help control diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In the course of losing 50 lbs one of the sacrifices I made was to give up powerlifting in favor of more cardio and bodyweight exercises. This was both because I was physically beat up and because of my propensity for gaining weight with strength. I was and am happy with the gains (and losses) I’ve made and that should have been enough…but it’s not

I’ve been fairly heathy outside some minor elbow tendonitis and have maintained 185 lbs for almost 3 years now so I decided for my 50th year on earth I will slowly start amping up my strength again…but with a couple of caveats. 1) that I maintain a weight of no more then 195 lbs and 2) if the toll it takes on my joints prevents me from getting in my cardio I stop. I don’t have an immediate goal but the benchmark will be in benchpress which was always my defining lift. 3 years ago I could still bench 315 lbs several times at 245 lbs bodyweight. I’m nowhere close to that currently so I think that’ll be my mark. Or not

I don’t expect 99% of you to understand why this is important to me. It simply is. I should be more proud that I can do 15 pull-ups and 50 plus pushups and free squats, but I’m not. I always knew that the day I was no longer the strongest guy at the gym was coming and I was ready for that. But I know there is a compromise out there somewhere. I just hope I’m mature enough at this point to know where the tipping point is and don’t go past it.

Anyway I’m not sure this is the kind of thing I’ll be updating but more something I really just wanted to talk about “out loud”. Thanks for listening

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Uncommon Courtesy

If you’re friends with me on Facebook you know one of the things I’m always harping on is the disappearance of common courtesy in this…I dunno…milennial era. People are so caught up in what’s going on everywhere but where they are at that they’ve become oblivious. Things like holding the door for someone or thanking someone for doing the same, bumping into a people and not even thinking of apologizing or neither acknowledging nor reciprocating on the “courtesy wave” when driving are becoming distant memories. The question is why. I have a few theories

The obvious elephant in the room is cell phones/smart phones. We’re all guilty to a point of “multitasking” in everyday life. Whether we’re chatting away on the phone itself, texting, status updating, reply reading, game playing or music listening we’re just so wrapped up in things that less then 15 years ago either didn’t exist or were not a major part of our lives (the fact that we sometimes do this while driving is even scarier). We’re so immersed in this mobile world we sometimes forget about the real life world with real life people

It could also just be societal. My parents were very, very strict with us as far as making sure we were courteous and polite to a fault. BUT they weren’t as strict as their parents were and I’m guessing many parents today aren’t as strict as their parents. It’s the law of diminishing returns (although this is conjecture as the large percentage of my friends and family have imparted the virtues of courtesy on their children). Of course this theory goes up in smoke when many of the oblivious ones are in fact my age or older and should know better

The last thought is one I’m kind of tiptoeing around as I don’t want to come off as xenophobic. Our great American melting pot has become even more and more diverse over the past 20 years. Maybe what we’ve come to expect as everyday normal polite and courteous is not as much a focus in other points of origin. I know after a lifetime of hearing that people in other countries think of Americans as rude and boorish I’ve been all but plowed over in the busy supermarket many times by folks I suspect were not born here (and by those I suspect were born here as well). Again, no hate here, just pointing out a maybe

Is there a solution? I don’t think so. I think it will get worse sadly. But we can try. And by “we” I mean those of us who know better. Those of use who grew up before mobile phones and Beats headphones. We need to set the example and end our phone conversations when someone is trying to communicate with or help you. We need to get our noses out of our phone and pay more attention to what going on around us. We need to mute our omnipresent music and listen to…everything else. We need pay more attention to those with us and less to those who aren’t. And for the love of God we need to concentrate on driving when we’re driving!!!

Take a minute and hold a door, let someone pull out in front of you, say please and thank you even when it seems unnecessary. I promise, these little details can make a big difference