Old Before My Time

In the summer of ’79, I was sitting in my girlfriend’s kitchen chain smoking Winston Lights and perusing an AA meeting book on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. I was 32 years old and sober about two months.

I weighed approximately 230 pounds and I was reluctant owner of the same cigarette cough that killed my father. My band was still upset with me for not showing up to an all day gig on Sunday, May 20, and they were withholding my equipment. I had hit a bad bottom.

I was still shaky as a newborn colt. I simply had to quit my drinking and rampant drug use this time. My hangovers were becoming unbearable. They were a mix of migraine and mental illness. I couldn’t take another. So I had resolved to make an AA meeting a day so I wouldn’t have a slip.

It was then that life handed me a face push when my girlfriend’s oldest son and two of his friends came in the back door. Three 21 year old Italian men with white T-shirts, a full head of shiny, healthy hair and eyes that were clear and full of life.

I sat there in a cloud of cigarette smoke, slack-jawed. I immediately became aware of the weight of my belly on my lap and sat up straight. As much as I could.

I was needing a reason to stay sober and start working out and it just walked in the back door. They made me feel, even at my young age, washed up and old before my time. Her son was an avid runner and high school football star. At 21, he had everything, I thought.

And the contrast was killing me.

It was like they were in color and I was black and white. I started asking her son questions about getting in shape.

He gave me an old pair of sneakers and I headed to the YMCA in a garish old sweatsuit I had in my closet. I went all out to beat that “old before my time” feeling.

I lost 55 pounds and became a track star myself. We used to run together. I never forgot that day. It is still clearly lodged in my mind. Those young men walked in that kitchen at just the right time. It was a watershed.

As we all know, life happens and my friend lost interest in running and taking care of himself in general. He became portly and started experiencing health issues. He developed apnea and couldn’t sleep without a Cpap machine. He was running a successful business, got married and took his eye off the ball.

The last time I saw him he could barely make it down the stairs. He was at least 50 pounds overweight and recuperating from a bowel obstruction operation. When he listed all the maladies he was enduring, I couldn’t help being transported back into that kitchen 40 years ago.

I saw a photo of him recently and nothing has changed. It’s sad to see someone who most considered “beautiful” get old before their time. It doesn’t have to be this way.

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, And we never even know we have the key.” – Already Gone, The Eagles

 

Xanax: The Day I Knew

I remember what day it was, where I was standing and what I felt. It was an overwhelming feeling of unease, my innards had turned to jello and my lower intestines felt like someone had shoved a fire extinguisher full of cold Co2 up my ass and pulled the pin.

My journal had slipped out of my uncontrollably shaking right hand and I felt the need to sit down before I fell down.

It was a Friday morning and I had just completed loading video equipment into my SUV for the long trip to Bracco headquarters in New Jersey to shoot a sales training video for their national sales meeting.

Such was the stressful nature of my thriving brainchild, Double O Creative Multimedia Productions. It was so successful it was actually making me crazy.

I had just read and printed out the incoherent and almost unshootable script for the clusterfuck that would ensue seven hours later, when my Jones came crashing down.

I’ve had hangovers and withdrawals before, but nothing like this. On a hunch, I quickly put one under my tongue and immediately straightened out.

Uh, oh!

This would be the beginning of a long struggle to get off Xanax (alprazolam). It would lead me back to alcohol after almost 40 years.

I know from years of medical sales experience that although you are a patient, you are also a revenue stream to your doctor.

If you have ever had a conversation with an internal medicine doc kvetching about the loss of his heart disease patient to a cardiologist, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Medicine is a business and some will do whatever it takes to retain said business. As was the case with me.

My doc was smart enough to CYA herself with “Would you like to try this?” as to exhort my complicity in this rabbit hole to hell.

I share this cautionary tale as a warning, so if your provider asks you if you would like to try something and couches it in “be careful,” ask questions, think twice and google your ass off.

I wish I did.

Remarketable!

As if my ego wasn’t already thoroughly trounced when I got out to Arizona two years ago, I had to sit across from reprobates with tattooed faces, pierced foreheads, Marlboro breath, blank expressions and dressed like sadomasochistic bondage victims with gamey odor and gelatinous bellies.

A late afternoon interview in the Arizona heat could take years off your life.

And I was looking for a fucking job. It was like peeing into a fan.

Ageism exists. Let there be no doubt. They think you’re either senile, too hard to handle, or because they think they might have to pay you.

They give shit none about your wealth of business and worldly experience. Instead of hiring one professional for 150,000, they opt for five head scratchers at 30 grand a piece.

Management consists of anyone who can hang in there for six months. I watched a woman attempting to onboard 30 new fish with her finger up her ass. Phones weren’t allowed in the room or you’d be watching her dig for gold right now .

The things I bore witness to felt like a sharp stick in the eye. I threw my neck out once trying to look away too quickly when Bessie fell back in her chair. Ooh.

Employees are huge. Young people who can hardly walk. They don’t use a headcount at these places, they report tonnage. You know it’s lunchtime by which way the building is tilting.

I call it “remarketable” because you’re back in the market and you have to be remarkable. But it’s all uphill these days because nobody cares. So you really have to up your game.

I was once interviewed by Cox Cable by the wrong people in the wrong room for the wrong job for 90 minutes, before the right people for the right job escorted me to the right room.

You think I got the job?

You need to gather up your tools and go out on your own. It’s every man and woman for themselves these days.

If you think you’re not a number these days, you will be heavily escorted out of Verizon like I was.

You need to stay healthy and get resourceful. It takes nothing to start a Youtube channel today, throw up a quick web site and push your wares on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

I will be continuing this conversation because it’s a subject near and dear to my (broken) heart.

Remarketable, swish it around a few times until it feels right. It will.

Hang in there.

Statin’ My Case….

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I am here today to present the case for Enlightened Rogue Fitness and why you, as retiring, or retired, citizens of this great country should be entitled to a healthy, robust, fully functioning and attractive body.

After years of detailed forensic work, we have dispelled all the mind numbing misinformation, wives’s tales and rampant Bro’ Science that is so prevalent today and we have come up with a program that will once again make you feel young, vibrant and most assuredly, relevant and valued again.

We have made all the mistakes for you, listened to all the self servers, sustained the needless injuries and gained and lost untold pounds in our quest for the perfect body solution.

You won’t see any air-brushed, professionally lit models to make you feel inadequate and self conscious. No phony supplements with arbitrary product discounts to loosen your wallet.

The diet denizens and non-certified gym rats you’ve been misled by are masters of obfuscation, confusion and perplexity.

They can complicate a steel ball. Which leaves you disappointed and confused. No more.

After 40 or 50 years of slaving it out for corporate America, this is your time. We will show you how to reclaim your health and fitness and live out your golden years in a strong and durable body.

Time to experience the rewards of your life long efforts. It’s time to reap, so….

Our mission:
Is to provide the most accurate and effective health and fitness information and solutions to seniors wishing to embark on their long awaited and over due adventure.

Let’s do this.

Muscle Memory

My fascination with bodybuilding started more than 50 years ago behind an ammo locker in Vietnam when I witnessed a group of guys bench pressing a truck axle to muscular failure. The sight of this meeting of the muscle is still ingrained in my brain.

These men was so beautifully chiseled I remember starting to worry about my sexuality. At that time, I weighed in at 175 pounds with a soft little belly and stringy arms. I felt washed out and wimpy next to these tanned and swollen stevedores.

Thus began my “off and on” with iron. I loved the pump. I loved the total awareness of my body that it brought. Even through my rock band years, with the rampant alcohol and drug abuse, I could still manage a half assed workout to achieve that glorious feeling.

But as the years wore on and I wore off, my weight lifting activities ceased. I became more interested in my video production business and making a living. Editing entails hour upon hour of sitting and staring into a computer screen in a redundant stupor of edits, changes, script writing, rewriting and standing still for hours behind a camera trying to coax a performance out of a CEO.

The years started to take its toll. Before I knew it, I was 230 pounds and was a more than willing participant in a serious prescription drug habit. I would’ve taken anything to get me through a long corporate video project. And I did.

Just before my 70th birthday, the wheels came off. My marriage was over, my business had tanked and I was lost in a haze of alcohol and Xanax. My condition was life threatening.

My chicken had no spring.

I entered the VA rehab unit on August 14, 2016, a beaten, battered and bloated mess. I was a stroke waiting to happen they told me. In a few weeks I was back on the street, a wobbly version of my old self. I didn’t take any pictures of myself right away. Thank God, it pained me to look in the mirror.

I had lost everything. The rundown, claustrophobic apartment I found myself in with two little dogs drove me batty. So I would walk.

One Sunday I came upon a 24 hour gym not 900 steps from my paint chipped front door. I joined immediately.

Mainly for someplace to go and get some exercise to help with the anxiety and sleeplessness that accompanies long term drug withdrawal. Which was brutal.

The picture on the left was taken on November 21, 2016, just a few months out of the hospital. I was 30 pounds lighter and feeling a lot better about life. I started to add resistance exercises to my regimen and things started happening. Rather quickly.

My body changed and people at the gym started commenting. It wasn’t long before I signed up to study to be a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, N.A.S.M.

The muscular gains came on quickly. Even at 70 years old. I have never taken performance enhancing drugs. No growth hormone, no testosterone, Nada.

The only signs of diminished testosterone is less body hair. Fine with me. I can give as good as I get under any physical circumstance. I train alongside college students and never miss a beat.

What happened with me is muscle memory. My body remembered all the muscle I had acquired in my life and quickly moved to replenish its stores.

And the hits keep coming.

Three years later at 73, I am amazed at the cardiovascular and muscular gains I’m making. I am an elder athlete. No question. I am doing things with my body these days that would have sidelined me 50 years ago.

I run 5 miles every night and weight train with no restrictions. I am nursing no injuries or illnesses and at 190 pounds, I’m not looking to lose or gain any body weight.

If you have been inactive over the years and are hesitant to start building up your body because you think you have to start all over, remember that your muscles have a long memory.

Muscle is like rock and roll, it never forgets.

C’mon back.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Are you looking for ransom or your next client?

Preparing and shooting an online video is a huge pain in the ass. If you do it right. I don’t care how casual you want to make it look, it still takes preparation to put your thoughts across on camera effectively.
Some of the stuff I see from business people who are looking to make an impact is jaw dropping.
You have shitty audio, out of focus, ill framed, shaky camera afterthoughts that look more like a hostage tape than a marketing message.
Then you load it up to LinkedIn backwards.
I may be an old school corporate video producer but I know there is no getting around production value.
If I can’t hear you, barely see you, and need two hits of Dramamine after experiencing one of your “on the fly” messages, I ain’t gonna buy what you’re pushing.

Tips: 
Audio is 70% of the viewer experience.
Don’t stand in front of a window.
For heavy details learn to use a TelePrompter. Check out Prompt Smart, it’s voice activated.
Don’t have a circus going on behind you.
Don’t be lulled into complacency by someone else’s shitty work.
If I think you don’t care about me, I won’t care about you.
Get through that lens, project, project, project.
Don’t put more than six jump cuts in one sentence. (You know who you are.)
Don’t let your first impression be your last.
Have a clear image in your head of your intended victim(s).
Say it like you mean it.
The more casual you want it to look, the more you should prepare.
Use lower thirds and don’t end the message like your camera just went dead.
When I was a chef at a major Boston restaurant, we called cooks who couldn’t cook, shoemakers. Don’t be a shoemaker.
Note to iPhone abusers: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. 🙂

Don’t forget the call to action.

Action!

About Face

Your face is where you should also be looking when you are gauging your weight loss progress in the bedroom mirror.

When we think of eating right, losing weight and getting in shape, most of our focus is on bellies, butts and thighs. We have a tendency to overlook the barometer of our well being…..our face.

We need to look more at our faces when we are measuring our health and fitness goals. Your face is what you present to the world every day. It’s what you lead with. The first thing.

Your face is also where you start seeing the rewards of your efforts. The jowls disappear, the bloat goes away and the jawline is revealed again.

The tired and world weary puffiness around the eyes recedes and they start to look bigger, brighter, more empathetic, more welcoming and caring.

You look more alive and “with it.” All your inherited qualities come through in bold relief. You might see your parents again. I did.

Your inner beauty isn’t blurred by the extra weight you have forced yourself to accept as the unwanted flesh falls away.

Like a sculptor passionately chipping away on his slab, you start to see the masterpiece taking shape. You.

It changes you. It inspires you to keep going. It peels years off your birth certificate.

You will feel pretty again, handsome again, young again, vital again and most of all, worthy of yourself again.

Look up, take it all in. The satisfaction on your beautiful face is worth the journey.

Face it.

Dead Eyes

There is no joy in Mudville. There is no joy in the Pfizer fogged eyes of the denizens of fun city.

These eyes have seen too much, lost too much, loved too much and cried too much.

They are pain riddled, barely functioning and tethered to a stream of office visits, uncertain diagnoses and prescription pick-up centers. They feel “used up”.

They came from generations of hard working, law abiding, church going, tax paying families who put every day of their lives into their loved ones and careers.

They didn’t have time to see a personal trainer or a nutritionist. No time for the Elks or the PTA. Certainly no time for Transcendental Meditation or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

They barely had time to look in the mirror. It was a 40 year grind to feather the nest.

What have we now? We have the over medicated, walking wounded passing their golden years in a hospital waiting room, a nursing home, or waiting for a van to take them food shopping.

This is the suffering I see in in the eyes of folks who took care of everybody but themselves for most of their lives. Cardiovascular exercise and resistance training wasn’t in vogue back in the day.

Worrying about the nutritional value of their diet was pure folly as long as you had a plate to eat off of.

It just wasn’t on their list. Especially depression era survivors.

Now, they will spend their remaining days making compensations for all the bodily functions that don’t quite fully function anymore.

Instead of a finish line, they find a constantly moving goal post. “One good day” is all they ask for.

Retirement shouldn’t be filled with this much angst and suffering.

Yet, they suffer greatly. Have you thought about how will approach the rigors of aging? Are you investing in your future health?

As Bette Davis said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

I’d take her at her word.

 

The Day My Groundhog Died

Waking up this morning felt like climbing out of a deep tunnel. Could hardly open my eyes. I had crazy but realistic dreams. That’s not like me.

I looked over at the clock and that said 5:15 am and got a shock. I never sleep this late. It’s not like me.

I hate running in daylight, so I spring out of bed to beat the inevitable sun.

I look down for the socks and sneakers I usually put in place before bed each night and they weren’t there. I never forget to do that. Not like me

I hurry to the kitchen and there’s no coffee setup, no water bottle in the fridge and my phone and Fitbit aren’t on the counter. That’s not like me. At all.

I’m getting confusingly irritated now and start having thoughts of early dementia onset because I failed to do my carefully planned routine. That’s not like me.

I say screw the coffee, I don’t deserve any for not doing my prep work. I’m all fucked up now. I am cursing, covered with sweat and very upset. Definitely not like me.

I’m rushing out through the garage and thinking it will be daylight in 45 minutes. Running in daylight makes five miles feel like ten.

There’s people walking dogs, cars, trucks, landscapers and my friend Al, who always feels like talking. I am not looking forward to this. That is certainly not like me.

Once my garage door opens I spot the trash I carefully placed next to my courtyard gate five hours earlier.

Then it hit me. I got up at 11:30, found my socks and sneakers, had my coffee, grabbed my Fitbit and my water bottle off the counter and dutifully did my duty. Five hours earlier.

I had come home, showered, had breakfast, meditated, made entries into my gratitude journal and went back to bed.

I slept so soundly I forgot about everything. And…that’s not like me. Thankfully.

Ain’t Gonna Do It!

Unless they invent a new muscle, I will not renew my personal training certification.

There’s no need. I won’t ever work in a big box gym again. I won’t slough through the politics, the long days, the games, the disingenuous hustle and the absolutely dumb and dangerous practices.

In the four gyms that I have been associated with in different capacities, I would use the term “restroom attendants with monogrammed jerseys” to describe the trainers. They’re not even in shape.

I am so lucky that I never saw three years ago what I’m seeing out here now, or else I would have sent the very expensive NASM training back. I have years of experience in this field.

I have made every major mistake there is and fallen for every diet hoax under the sun and I’m not gonna let an outfit like LA Fitness profit from my real world education. I’m taking it on line.

I now have a Youtube channel set up to share the good, the bad, the ugly and most importantly, the truth, with anyone who wishes to get in shape, avoid the pain and disease associated with aging and remain active and relevant through these golden years.

I’m certified in nutrition, weight loss and my passion, senior fitness.

Stay tuned.

I never thought…

I never thought it would be like this:

I never thought I would consider myself a bona fide athlete in my 70’s.

I never thought I would be preening in a mirror.

I never thought I could put on so much muscle at this age. Or any age.

I never thought I would be looking for that “tighter” shirt when going out.

I never thought I could shame my twenty year old self with my athletic abilities.

I never thought I could go years without a cold, a flu, a stomach bug, a headache or a just a physically “off” day.

I never thought I could run five miles every night and enjoy every step.

I never thought I would enjoy an ache-less, painless, supple existence.

I never thought I could sleep without a narcotic in my system.

I never thought I would have such boundless energy.

I never thought I could be happy with an unaltered consciousness.

I never thought I could come so close to the edge and come back so strong.

I never thought I might live forever….today… I wouldn’t rule it out. 🙂

What do you think?

I missed my calling!

In 1996, at the behest of my then live-in girlfriend, I sprung for a big, clunky Windows 95 personal computer. She said we needed it to track our finances. That’s another story.

At the time, I was using a Dupont company laptop, a 40 pound Zenith behemoth that you could press your pants and make grilled sandwiches with while you were filling out an expense report.

Within hours of the unboxing, I knew two things: The relationship was most likely over and that I should have always been a news reporter.

Once I opened Microsoft Publisher I was off and running. I created a newsletter that went company-wide that I aptly named “News From the Left”, meaning the left coast. NFTL took over my every waking moment.

Back then, like today, there is nothing I won’t write about. My own newsworthy, if not nose worthy, travails notwithstanding.

I would sell my soul for a good story and for me lately, life has turned into one big lemon factory full of above the fold headlines.

The twists and turns, the betrayals, the failures, the substance withdrawals, the locked down hospital wards and the shaky existence that I have experienced are all fair game to this reporter.

In short, I don’t care if it’s me, if it’s a good story, I go to press. And if it’s me, at least I know I’m getting the straight poop.

It’s like I’m not even in my own body. I always think in terms of story line. The more complicated and potentially devastating my situation, the more I want to write about it.

Up until an hour ago, I believed I would be homeless in November. My FICO is bleak-o.

And as all this is happening, I’m completely aware that if I didn’t come up in a brutal family situation, I would have Bourdaine’d my way out years ago.

I believe we’re all protagonists in our very own news story. The spills, the thrills and the chills are all here to remind us we’re living in temporary space and every day is a headline, an exposé or a human interest story. If you look at it from this reporter’s news hungry eyes.

I find writing about my calamities and upheavals puts things in perspective. “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near” to quote Mr. Morrison.

Reading the stoic philosopher Seneca has backed me away from the edge on many occasions. For me, the edge is relapse and a messy departure.

At every major setback I would think, “Is this the thing that I so feared?

“There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. – Seneca”

I’m probably too old for a news gig but there’s always an abundance of breaking news right under my nose.

And I have a hard deadline.

It’s Complicated?

I’m not gonna lie, a lot of the stuff that goes on in the fitness industry hits my gag reflex. If I knew then, what I know now, I wouldn’t have killed off my remaining brain cells getting certified as a fitness professional. I would have just read the book.

I am a deep diver. Anything that really catches my interest, I go in deep. Like music, food, stand-up, computers, video production, web design, entrepreneurial endeavors and the my latest passion, body building.

Note: If you are working to change your body composition, you are body building. So let’s get the terms right.

In my zeal to know everything there is about a certain subject, I multi source pertinent information from every direction. I eat sleep and drink whatever “next big thing”, thing I’ve buried myself in at the moment. Much to the chagrin of loved ones and family members.

So it is with physical fitness.

My new found knowledge, besides saving my life, has not only shaved years off of my physical age and appearance, it has possibly reversed damage I’ve inflicted as a result of drug abuse, alcoholism and a bad diet. Of course, that remains to be seen.

After seeing and experiencing the results of my physical efforts and learning as much about nutrition as I could, I have come full circle on the idea that these so-called designer approaches to weight loss and six pack abs are a lot of revenue producing bullshit.

Because they are.

Diet. Diet is not a verb. Simply put, it is the food you eat to supply your human movement system with energy and nutrients. But they are trying to complicate it. “They” is them who make money by getting exotic with our basic nutritional needs. They use words like “magic, instant, secret and overnight.”

Companies use dummies with nice bodies to lure you in with the promise of a body like theirs. They conveniently omit performance enhancing drugs and good old genetics. Most of these muscle heads have no idea what’s in the product or could they spell any of the ingredients.

They’re hawking supplements that are not governed by the FDA and if they have “trade secret status” on an ingredient, they don’t have to list it at all. Trade secrets are one place where a company can bury things and you won’t have any idea what they are. The FDA allows companies to classify items that the company terms a “trade secret” in a general manner.

All they have to do to muddy the water these days, is to start talking about hormones and why you can’t lose weight. Granted, there are hormonal issues, but not on the scale these people are screaming about.

In a nutshell, there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in this industry. The more they complicate something, the more exotic they can make it, the more they make by letting you in on the secret. The FDA needs to at least rattle a few sabers in this shit house industry before it turns into another VA clusterfuck.

Having a healthy body is not magic.

The magic happens between your ears when you make the decision to eat less, move more and add resistance to your muscle groups.

‘Nuff said.

Embracing The Suck

Wait…what’s that sucking sound?

These last three years have found me broke, homeless, detoxed, arrested, restrained, betrayed, divorced, confined and chased down by the IRS.

Everything I owned in the world was auctioned off recently by a PODS container company in Nashua, New Hampshire.

I lost my credit rating, my car, my cable box and my gym membership.

I also lost 50 pounds, an addiction to Xanax, alcohol, sleep medications, a high blood pressure reading, a hot liver, a bad attitude and a ruthless wife.

During this period I have grown as a writer, a coach, a musician, a video producer, an athlete and a human being.

I have covered ground in my personal development I never thought possible. I gained certification in fitness, nutrition, weight loss and my passion, senior fitness.

I passed two very dry insurance license exams with flying colors. Digesting all that information cured my insomnia.

Having limited capital has made me focus on what I put in my mouth. I eat, train and live like a Spartan.

I am, at 73, an elder athlete. My 20 year old self could never compete with me today.

It seems the mo’ worser my situation, the mo’ better I get.

I am truly embracing the suck.

 

 

The Adversity Advantage

Adversity changes us all. Usually for the better. Adversity, especially in early life is the gift that will always be there when you need it. It has been my saving grace. I have laughed my way through ass whoopin’s, interrogations, bookings, lock downs, forced marches, expulsions, detox, divorce and incoming mortar rounds.

There ain’t nothin’ I can’t get a laugh out of these days. Humor in the face of adversity is a gift from my sainted mother, Nora.

I got a steady taste of my own blood at at an early age. I was closed-fisted into unconsciousness when I was no more than crotch level to my chastiser. I was beat and re-beat in the same session.

Today, that person would have gone to jail. Back then, it was de rigueur. In those days, if a nun beat you up, you got beat up for getting beat up. It hardens the jaw.

There were 12 of us in one apartment with one bathroom. At night, couches opened up and the top of a large desk could sleep two.

My parents were Irish-Catholics who thought the “Rhythm Method” was a song book. We never knew when my mother wasn’t pregnant.

We were poor, ostracized in the community, and on the lips of every police detective in the city. We were challenged every day. If you couldn’t fight, or talk your way out, you were fucked.

We owed everybody money. The variety stores in the area wouldn’t extend us credit. When we walked in, the proprietor would hustle out from behind the counter to yell about the money we owed.

When we walked down Paulina Street at night you would hear the neighbors hissing disapproval. It was like “High Noon.”

Then there was Catholic school, (vicious) reform school, numerous drunk arrests, buglaries, physical and sexual assaults, street fights and lots of drugs and alcohol.

Every day was a crap shoot. And crap was shot everywhere.

Still, we laughed our asses off at just about anything. Everything was fair game.

When the war took me, I brought my shameless sense of humor to the battle. Someone over there actually asked me once if I understood the severity of the war we were in.

I am running on empty these days but I want for nothing. I got wiped out making bad business and personal decisions. But I am as resourceful as ever because I had rugged basic training and provided with a quick wit compliments of those O’Hearns down on Paulina Street.

Adversity brings advantage. If you survive it.

And I am grateful. For all of it.

Dad was right

53 years ago this week, I opened my first eye with dread. Today I would be inducted into the Army. I had a massive hangover (as usual) and realized I was out of cigarettes.

I pulled on my cranberry iridescent dress pants and slid a yellow, wine stained ban-lon shirt over my head so I could go out to the kitchen and mooch a Herbert Tareyton regular off my mother.

My father was home for some strange reason. The only time you would find that guy home on a weekday was when my mother was having another baby. Which was 10 annual occasions.

Right now, I’m a wreck. I’m running late, I can’t find my shoes, kids are screaming, I got a fucking hangover and I have to ask my father to lift his legs so I could see if my left shoe was under the couch.

All the while he’s hissing behind the newspaper about what moron I am. My mother is hysterical over me possibly getting killed in a war that’s being played out every night on CBS news. “Bob, she said, “he’s going away, he could get killed.”

“Awww for chrissakes, it’ll make a man out of him” he groaned. I hated him for that. I was his namesake first born and he thought I was a goddam fool.

And I was, as I would soon find out. The next few years damn near killed me in more ways than one. But it grew me in ways I never would have if I missed that opportunity to serve the country.

As he used to say, “I’m your father, not your friend.” I’m glad now he was so tough on me. I still feel his presence every day.

Especially when I’m trying to find my shoes. :).

It’s a privilege

If you managed to plod through 40 years of working in someone else’s business, raised a family, lowered a friend and survived a war with all your limbs intact, you are privileged.

If you can still put one foot in front of the other, not be hooked up to a dialysis machine, aren’t dragging an oxygen bottle through a supermarket, haven’t been told to get your affairs in order and are not locked up in a nursing home while the Social Security Administrationwaits to get you off the books, you are privileged.

Every footstep is a celebration of the miracle you are moving around in. A human movement system that even the brightest minds on the planet haven’t managed to completely figure out. Yet!

Every day free of a hospital visit, a new prescription, a walker or a bad diagnosis is cause for celebration.

Exercising your gift is an act of gratitude.

When we see examples of human wreckage all around us every minute of every day and we are not among those walking wounded, it’s humbling.

The next time you are lacing up and thinking it’s a chore to shake it up for 30 or 40 minutes out of your allotted 1440, try to think of it as a celebration and an opportunity to be grateful for such good fortune.

It’s a privilege to be able to move around and shake that thing. It’s a privilege to be free of pain and disease.

Exercise your privilege.

Soon you won’t have to worry about feeling old, you’ll just have to worry about thinking old. 🙂

I Train, Therefore I Am

I just lost my dog. I watched her get old and die. I don’t know how old she was, she was rescued.

It’s been hard to get out of bed these days, but I do… to train. I train very hard for my age, for any age. I’m 73, and I’m considered an elderly man. I can’t abide that.

Because I feel my work is not done here.

I get in a 5 mile run by 3:00 am. At 4:30, I ride my bike 10 miles to lift weights for an hour. Then I walk the two mile round trip to pick up my groceries for the day before he sun gets too hot.

At 3:00 pm I ride for 35 minutes in at least 100 degrees, every day. It will help me sleep.

These days, my depression is heavy. It makes me question everything. Hurling myself into strenuous activity blunts the negativity that wants to take me down. Life seems pointless.

They took my dog.

Waking up in an empty bed and reaching for my sneakers feels like a heavy, wet blanket. Still, I push myself to roll out.

All the time my brain is asking “What’s the use?” “Why work so hard?” “What are you trying to prove?” “You’re elderly, remember?”

I get out the door fast before I become despondent and fall back under the covers.

Running in the quiet desert night, answers come…..in torrents.

I know exactly why I do what I do.

I Train:

To live longer and be more productive.

To never be a burden.

To remain relevant.

To live without pain.

To avoid disease.

To respect what I see in the mirror.

To have more energy in my day.

To spread that energy.

To be capable of service to others.

To have more confidence in a world where ageism exists.

To have more vitality.

To improve my cognitive skills.

To produce good work every day.

To outrun bill collectors.  🙂

To be an example to others.

To die fully used up.

To celebrate and be grateful for the gift of life.

To be here for the little furry soul that’s out there waiting for me.

Why do you train?

Ground Level

With the recent loss of my little dog, I can honestly say that I now have nothing left in my life of any real value. To lose.

Nothing that anyone could blackmail me over or hold for ransom. I’m down to the ground.

My only dependence these days is on the U.S. government. My worldly goods were either hornswoggled, defauIted on, or pawned.

I own no furniture, kitchen utensils, jewelry, musical instruments, real estate or motor vehicles.

I’ve gone by the point of caring about worldly possessions.

I have no one left to disappoint. There’s no one to report me missing.

And it is freeing. All the sturm and drang of daily life is beneath me. I won’t major in minors.

I owe no one and no one owes me. Because in the end, nothin’ from nothin’ means ….freedom.

Freedom of the soul.

Head Game

Your life, your health, your well-being, your financial and physical independence, your self confidence and your relevance depends on what gets agreed upon between you and that guy in the mirror.

It’s a head game. A game you play for keeps. It’s not a series. No do-overs.

You have to maintain your manliness, your courage and your stamina. You have to work your body, feed your soul and calm your mind.

You have to be rigorous in your pursuits of a healthy machine. You need to train your body and mind like your life depends on it. Because it does.

Step up to the mirror, throw your shoulders back and commit. You’re in a fight for your life. It gets even tougher in the later rounds.

Note to self: This is the later rounds.

Are you gonna address it? Or will you fall to the back of the herd to be picked off by the hungry predators of sickness, disease and irrelevance?

Time to man up!

I’ll step out while you two talk.

 

The Doughy Pant Load Syndrome

Age is looking to take you down. You can ignore this advice and be the funniest fat guy in the rehab or you can start training your human movement system to meet the rigors of nature, the pull of gravity and the adversities of life.

I’m 73,  I live in a retirement community and the view from here ain’t pretty. Some of it’s gruesome.

I’m here to tell you that a lot of bad stuff goes away when you pump oxygenated blood through your body. A lot of bad stuff goes away when you stress your muscles. And a lot of good stuff comes back to you when you do both.

When you do nothing, you are effectively standing naked in oncoming traffic.

The odds are not in your favor.

Are you looking to live this part of your life, or merely survive it?

I see men everyday in their mid-sixties dragging their time ravaged bodies into the supermarket looking for a motorized cart.

They are hunched over, they have soft, doughy asses, flabby arms, and bloated ankles. They’re not supposed to be there yet.

What if, God forbid, your circumstances change and you have to find work again? You can’t show up in a millennial world like your sides are about to retire.

You’ll be punching above your weight class in a world that gives shit none.

You need to be able…bodied.

Yeah, you can wear your war campaign baseball cap while your asking an employee to hand you down the cupcakes but you have already admitted to yourself and the whole world that you’re done.

You ain’t. The fat lady’s not even in the building yet.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I got the message at 70, when my chips were down. And I got ’em back. I was a stroke waiting to happen and I turned my body back into a machine. A bigger, leaner, stronger, machine.

Retirement is not the end of the struggle, it’s just the beginning. You gotta be up for it. Don’t leave your vitality and lust for life on the table.

Let me dispel a few myths that you might be entertaining: First, it ain’t a crap shoot. Your body will still respond to rigorous stimulation and resistance. No question.

You can still build a fabulous, rugged body. You can be a track star in your 70’s, 80’s and beyond. I’m living proof.

Older people get depressed because they don’t pump enough blood. They don’t run, they don’t jump, they don’t push. pull, pound or pillage.

Going to the supermarket isn’t foraging for food.

We are made to stress our bodies like our ancestors did, hunting and gathering, chasing and fleeing, and looking tough so other tribes couldn’t take our women.

You can have it all back but you gotta put the work in.

Man up I say. Don’t let today’s technology make you look like someone’s fat, toothless uncle.

Get yourself a Fitbit and get back in the game. You body will love you for it.

What I’m trying to say is, doughn’t be a pant load.  🙂

Clodcasting

I was going to guest on a local podcast about my experience as a Vietnam war veteran. The host put out a call for guests and I responded. When he read my bio he seemed very excited and sent me the requirements for my end of the remote conversation.

I checked his site out and saw that he’s just starting up and most of the content is just him speaking. Pretty dry. His last guest interview was with his wife.

As the date nears, I’m wondering why I don’t get a call from either him or his people. I tell my friend Wayne this is very strange behavior.

This is show business and I am no stranger. I’ve been around this business so long I am incapable of making a noise when I fart.

So on Wednesday, August 7, at 10:30 am, I put on my headset, set up my mic, and got ready for…nothing. At first I’m amused, then I’m confused, then, of course, I’m abused.

All that day, nothing. The next day, nothing. On the third day I write, “What happened?” He said, “I waited but you never showed up.”Where? His house? The mall?

I am a veteran of more cluster-fucks than I care to remember and this sent me over the top.

There’s something about some of these people out here in the desert and their lack of urgent professionalism that makes me beg for a warm needle and a glass of Saki.

So against my better judgement, which is how I know it’s the right thing to do, I sent him:

“Scott, I am put out. Sounds like you have a very casual operation. I did everything I was supposed to do. You were supposed to send me final instructions, which you never did. If I were you, I would have had a conversation with me to uncover things that would have made the show. Things like that matter in show business, which is what you are attempting. You never called to see what was up? I’ve been in music, comedy and video production for years, and I understand the value of having your shit together. A good producer would have been all over me. I have an incredible story, but you thought it was going to tell itself. If you are serious about your podcast you should do your homework about the talent you are trying to bring on. Until then, you should keep your day job.”

At least I got a blog out of it.

Remains Of The Day

October 11. 2018, the day my finances died.

I met you twenty years ago today. August 9, 1999. We had a good run until we didn’t. That’s life and I have no regrets.

But I have to say, in all the time we spent together, I never knew you had such a lethal sense of humor.

You know, like when you sicced the cops on me when you didn’t like the conversation, thereby chasing me out of the state.

Being treated like a common criminal after picking you up and dusting you off is one of my favorite pastimes. Remember the shack you lived in?

You sticking me with all the IRS and credit card debt even after I prematurely split the proceeds of the house with you. Did your arms shrink?

Then divorcing me by telling the judge you didn’t know where I was while I was ducking your restraining orders. (That was a good one).

And just to show you I have no hard feelings, I’m sending you the reaction shot of my face on the day you emptied my two bank accounts, then closed them. A truly surgical strike.

Did I think, back 20 years ago, as I looked at you across the table at Earl’s, that this was the woman who would try to ruin me and lock me up?

Unfortunately for me, no.

And fortunately for me, we never had children. (I would still be on drugs.)

But I don’t want you to feel like you’ve lost a husband, think of it more as gaining an enemy for life.

Enjoy the day, I have a funny feeling you will. Happy Anniversary. 🙂

 

They’re Still With Us

As I crawled up the corporate ladder I noticed the people who infested the upper echelons of these big companies had a few chips missing. The higher the position, the more Captain Queeg you got, and the stranger the conversations.

I would always pre-defecate before every meeting and make sure I skipped the extra caffeine. I would be covered with sweat after every interaction. It was like walking a drunk home.

Now I see these deranged fuckers are still out there on LinkedIn, talking more shit than a North Korean radio station.

All the big shots I worked with had a leather couch in their office. Now I know why.

The woman who took over as brand director for Cardiolite was a walking nervous breakdown. I used to record our meetings, take them home and slow them down so I could understand what she was saying. Or at least try to make the conversations linear.

At first, I thought she was speaking in tongues.

The guy I saw this morning, extolling his incredible salesmanship and records of success, traveled with me on a customer visit once and I had to break up a fist fight.

The tech had him in a headlock, I had to do something.

Another destroyed my dashboard on the way back from Tucson screaming about how he was gonna kill the co-worker who was sleeping with his girlfriend who was married to someone else….in the same company. Still with me?

A reimbursement specialist who came out to travel with me was so drunk when she got off the plane in Phoenix, she had to be detained. I guess she yelled “PARTY!” too loud when she fell over.

Thankfully, they grabbed her right after she told me, “Don;t worry Bob, I took care of the birth control”. True story.

In 2003, I handed a product manager a USB stick with an idea for a customer give-away. At first, he thought it was whistle.

Three hours later he was still staring at it like a monkey in a fishbowl. Maybe his internal batteries needed charging.

The good thing is, they’re still out there….. and I’m not. 🙂

Confessions of a Corporate Houdini:

As soon as I got in, I was trying to get out. When I ran big kitchens, the only person I had to deal with was the owner, and most of the time he didn’t know how to cook, so I was free to hoist myself on my own petard.

There was no HR, only a tap on the shoulder and the choice of whether the back door was open or closed when you went through it. Performance no excuses. In 1982, I took a job on the distribution dock for Dupont.

Compared to what I came from, this was kindergarten with benefits. But the petty daily bullshit put a fuzzy expiration date on my new career. I didn’t think I would last. That little conundrum was solved when they offered me a satellite position in Boston. (Next door to Mike’s gym.)  🙂

Then, all I got was the daily phone call from the Gestapo in Billerica. Which I was always sure to answer out of breath. Then that started getting political. Just when I thought I would try something else, a sales position opened up in Arizona.

I had my doubts because of my limited education, but Sully convinced me I could get by on my looks, my jokes and my nice ass. As usual, he was right. And I killed those numbers year after year.

So, for 30 plus years I’ve been able to escape the fishbowl most of you haven’t. I have never had to sit across the room from some asshole all day who was trying to report me for not doing my job.

Fortunately, I was never exposed for my lack of attention and detail to….anything. I have the attention span of a gnat. A dead one.

I was always out somewhere shaking the bush making them think I was working hard and by the book. And I would like to thank you all for covering for me.

Not much has changed these days because I’m still out here trying to escape from something else.

Adios muchachos. 🙂

Runstorming

Nietzsche said, “It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.”

I never miss my evening dose of road tar. It is a tonic for my soul. I’ve hardly missed a session in two years.

I leave the headphones at home to let my internal music play. I am in the world but not of it.

Tonight, I am once again in the coliseum to do battle with my sanity.

I bring myself to a state of “no mind” in the beginning, to free myself of the nocturnal depression that can cripple me.

I start to imagine my arteries lit up and pumping. My heart is huge and hungry as I feed it the blood it needs for this physical undertaking.

Then I feel my muscles and ligaments warm to the tempo of my padding, joyful feet.

When I start to feel the rise in body temperature and the familiar and welcome moisture of salty sweat, I open the flood gates…slowly.

One incredible thought after the other comes tumbling out. Like IMAX. Front row. Buckle up, Bobo.

Answers to questions I haven’t even thought of asking fill me up. Tracer fire, coming from everywhere. Non stop.

Soon, I’m drowning in epiphany. I don’t realize it at that moment, but all of these thoughts are connected. I become frantic. TMI.

I try to keep track but it’s like chasing chickens in a great big barn yard.

I panic at the thoughts of loss. Already? These thoughts aren’t even fully conceived and yet I mourn. It’s like the Muddy Water’s song “Can’t lose what you never had.”

But I know from the way my gut is initially processing this information, that I’m onto something. Huge. Oh, torture.

Now I have to focus. There are loose threads everywhere. I make a beginning a middle and an end. Always. I break the information into blocks that can be arranged to tell the story.

I talk out loud. I yell things to make them stick. I cram sentences into my jaw to burn them into my temporal lobe. Where’s my crowbar?

All this is taking place on a dark road in the middle of that might. But I have no idea where I am at that moment.

After years of “runstorming”, you think I would have gained some confidence in pulling a blog together. The more incredible the ideas, the more elusive they seem. It can be maddening.

I just need to keep these thoughts  together until I can sprinkle them onto my keyboard, once buried in the bowels of my man-cave.

Which is still three miles away.   🙂

The Positive Feedback Loop

What keeps some people in the gym, on a bike, in the pool and on a diet? What keeps them lacing up in the wee hours? Do they do it simply because it’s the right thing to do? Are they banking on some fuzzy payoff thirty years from now? Hardly.

They push their bodies to their potential because they’re seeing things. In their mirror. The feedback they get in that mirror is a reward for their efforts. That feedback keeps them striving to do more activities that will keep them vibrant and healthy.

That feedback loop works like a life giving drug.

And it doesn’t stop until you do.

But it’s more than the physical. Seeing the results of your efforts has an incredible effect on your psyche, your posture and your overall health and confidence.

I remember after I got out of rehab how it changed the way I felt about myself. I felt more engaging. I liked the way my clothes fit. I smiled more. I wanted to meet more people. Life started coming back into my tired, world weary eyes.

What I got back from that mirror in just a few months, kept me going through that dark winter of my life. My journey became more bearable.

As the pounds melted off and I saw my body change, my horizons opened. I felt I was ready for anything. I naturally wanted to eat better so I wouldn’t blur my artwork.

The human body is a miracle waiting to respond. Doing the right things for it will pay off in more ways than you can imagine.

When you see someone who is always exercising and you wonder what keeps them at it, rest assured they’re seeing things. Good things.

They’re in that positive feedback loop. The gift that keeps on giving.

Be good to yourself, get in the loop.

 

 

You’re a drunk, it’s time to double down

So you’ve hit another one of your rock bottoms. You’ve been abusing yourself for so long your body is about to give out while your family is about to give up. But you need to avoid the pains of living that have brought you to your knees. I hear ya.

What to do?

Is it back to AA where you finger the rosary as you listen to horror story upon horror story? Is it asking your higher power to save you when your higher power did nothing to stop you from your descent into hell in the first place?

Is it more expensive consultations with that therapist who never had a drug or alcohol problem? No wonder he let’s you talk and talk and never says anything. You know what the problem is: Life sucks. I agree, it does suck at times.

And you can suffer every day of it while knowing that no one gets out alive. The problem is, once you stop a nasty habit, a huge existential void looms on the horizon. You feel wobbly as hell and even less secure. Your little “feel good” ritual has disappeared and the big bad world has you all to itself.

This is the time to act. Inertia will not save you, it will kill you.

There’s a hole needs fillin’.

You need to jam that void immediately with a new habit. Don’t wait. Dive deep into a new or existing passion. You’re on fertile ground. You’re gonna feel like shit anyway for the first few weeks so you might as well be learning something new. Who wants to be sober just for sober’s sake?

Not me, I can assure you.

I ain’t no saint, I ain’t no savior, I’ll never get to Heaven on my good behavior.

A.R.T – Addiction Replacement Therapy

I’ve had to get clean and sober twice in my life and both times it was physical exercise that pulled me from the brink of relapse. It dulled the withdrawal symptoms and activated my endorphin levels. It changed and saved my life.

Exercise will help you clean out that musty attic you have upstairs and get your body back in shape.

Addictions are about escape and feeling good. Exercise will fill both of those needs. You can’t just sit back and wait for the rain to stop.

You need to act.

You can look back on the day you stopped abusing yourself as a victory and a triumph of the spirit, instead of a whimpering concession.

Don’t miss this wonderful experience. You will find a new world and you’ll find you were more than worth it.

Wanna bet?

 

 

Confessions of a Stickie-Note Guy

Ch-ch-ch-changes:

Okay, here are three things that are happening with me that I didn’t expect and that I definitely attribute to my healthy lifestyle.

First, I have always been a stickie-note guy. I could never remember anything. I would have stickies stuck on everything. Even my forehead.

Every night I would write down exactly when I went to bed, because I could never remember when I got up. That has changed. I I remember everything now. What time I went to bed, what I need to pull out of the dryer, and even where I dropped my sweats. Amazing.

I remember the web site and what I was working on the night before. In perfect detail. Scary. Almost.

Second, it seems my eyesight is getting better. I have taken to running at night without my glasses. At 73, it used to be one big psychedelic blur. Not so, anymore.  I’ve even been forgetting to put my glasses on when I get in. I can’t read like I used to, but everything else is a lot better.

Third, and this is the weirdest. 25 years ago, I got a complete physical in L.A., from a noted sports doc. After the exam, I asked him if he could prescribe something for the nasty toenail fungus I had acquired since my re-lo to Phoenix. His exact words were, “Sorry, that’s going in the box with you, just try to keep your nails short and keep your socks on.”

Well, it’s gone. All of it. I have been so used to not looking down there for obvious reasons, I never realized it had cleared up. Now I can take my socks off.  🙂

The take home: Everything gets better when you do. So get better and never listen to conventional wisdom. You’re better than that, right?

Dangest thing, this healthy living stuff, ain’t it?

My Great Depression

It’s the fourth Wednesday of the month. All of you on Social Security know what I’m talking about. The eagle landed some time in the wee hours. Now it’s 5:00 am and I’m walking the one mile to the supermarket in a thunderstorm. I have no car.

I have on a knapsack and I’m carrying two plastic Costco bags. For the last nine days, Wells Fargo has shown almost a zero balance. My last purchase required 80 dimes.

And my doggie needs to eat.

Being a life long learner, none of this is lost on me. The wolf is at the door and I can smell his breath.

A paltry but unanticipated iTunes charge can wreak havoc and confusion.

I have fought a $12.00 charge for two hours on the phone. For once in my life, I know exactly where every cent is going.

There is virtually no fat in my fridge, in my bank account, or on me. I have searched for and found loose change in my business clothes, behind the washing machine and under the bed.

What celebrations have ensued.

And I have learned. To anticipate. To appreciate. To cut and cut again. To endure. To shut my mind off and be at peace with my lot in life.

I have concocted amazing dishes from almost nothing. Food combinations only a pothead could think of. Without the pot. 🙂

I can even drink black coffee now.

I am now a brutally savvy shopper. Even purchases under $5.00 require arbitration. I have learned to survive on popcorn and protein powder.

Now, on my way back from the supermarket with two full bags and an overstuffed knapsack, the skies opened to a brutal desert downpour.

It drenched everything. All my food, my clothes, my sneakers and my head. But not my spirits.

I was so wet you could barely make out my grateful tears of joy.