Detachment

If I couldn’t detach, I’d be dead. I’ve lost everything. More than everything. I’m below sea level.

I had to detach when they were taking my belt and shoelaces at the VA hospital rehab unit. I had to detach to endure the yelling and screaming at night on the ward.

I had to detach when some skinny, out of touch psych told me I was near death, a health risk and I would not be released.

I had to detach when I realized my life partner had other intentions in our divorce settlement and filed charges against me.

I had to detach when I found myself in a hotel room in Arizona, on the run, out of money and out of options.

I had to detach when she shut my bank accounts down and raised the ire of the IRS.

I had to detach when I read the government’s threats against me.

I had to detach when the repo man came for my car.

How can I be so detached? Easy, as a long time video producer, I know it’s just a movie. I just happen to be the hero in this movie, and like all formulaic offerings, the good guy always wins.

We all know that if you kill off the good guy, the movie tanks. Can’t have that, can we?

So sit back and enjoy. We’re only three quarters through and there will be lots of close calls and near misses, but our hero will always prevail.

He might even get the girl.  🙂

Want some popcorn?

Sweatin’ Like An Oldie

Sweat has saved my life. When I got out of rehab three years ago, I was broke, homeless, and shaky. Sure as shittin’.

I had a belly full of Seroquel and nowhere to go. I was fat, bloated, sore and sorry.

Then I stumbled on a 24 hour gym not 900 feet from my rundown apartment. It was a sign, for sure.

At 70, I didn’t think I had any mojo left. I looked like I had melted when I saw my reflection in the mirror. I was a pear shaped 230 pounds and felt every ounce.

Then the rains came.

The sweat started pouring out of my dilapidated frame and I felt new life.

I would sit on an exercise bike in the dark all through the holidays that followed. I lifted weights, I ran and I biked every day.

My prison doors were starting to open.

Sleep without medication started to follow. My thinking cleared and brightened.

A different story was starting come out of my mirror. I could see my lines again. The lines of a healthy, symmetrical, muscular, firmly erect, older man. 45 pounds lighter and tighter.

No matter our troubles, sweat is a soothing balm that can gives us new life.

There is a whole different world on the other side of sweat.

I’m glad I took the trip.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Have you seen this nonsense? Can you believe what they’re putting out there with a straight face? This is pure science denial.

Obesity isn’t one of those things where you can say, “just go exercise” it’s not specific enough.

There are so many issues associated with obesity which can’t be simplified. You have to give specific exercise protocols and regimens to obese people looking to lose body fat.

But for Tess Holiday and her camp to put such misleading information out, and profit from it, is a danger to everyone. What’s worse, she has thousands of followers.

With so many easily influenced young people out there struggling with this disease, it should be a crime to mislead them. And they are.

This Project Body Love outfit is playing to their base and pumping out dangerous, science denying information and cashing in, telling people that they can be fit at 300 pounds. They can, if they’re 6′ 8″.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Large amounts of body fat leads to:

Type II Diabetes

Low grade inflammation

Unhealthy cells

Decreased ability to do daily activities.

All causes of death (Mortality)

High blood pressure

High LDL cholesterol, low HDL and high triglycerides.

Stroke

Coronary heart disease

Gallbladder disease

Sleep Apnea (Never met an overweight man who didn’t have it)

Low quality of life

Depression

And of course, morbid endings.

I remember the Boston comedian John Pinette whose whole act was based solely on his obesity. John’s not with us anymore. He left the stage early.

But he wasn’t trying to spin it.

I would just like to say shame on you people for passing this nonsense off as truth, while trying to keep your faces straight. Shame!

Again, is there a doctor in the house?

 

 

 

The End Game

Life can be a suck-filled experience. It can roll over you and leave you begging for death. For every thought you have, there’s a disease to match it. I have no idea what this struggle is about and I don’t spend my time dwelling on it.

All I want to do is minimize the pain of living. I want the ability to pick myself up and dust myself off after every major fuck up. I want to keep on keeping on until the whistle blows.

I don’t want go off like a stick of pepperoni either, slice by slice. If..I..can..help..it!

If something nasty befalls me it won’t be because I let myself fall apart physically and mentally.

I am 73 years old and never, ever, been this physically, or mentally, fit. We still have the tremendous capacity to grow muscle, get lean, stable  and flexible. It’s all there, waiting.

You just gotta put a little work in. It’s your physical 401K.

Maybe you’ve had a great life already. Maybe you’re not looking for more. You still have to tread water until the buzzer. You can do it easy, or you can do it hard.

Most of the folks I meet don’t give it too much thought. And it shows. I see it in their shopping carts, by the extra beef they’re swinging, by the overuse of golf carts and motorized shopping carts. Nobody walks these days.

I see the human wreckage every day. Most of it is ignorant needlessness. Life’s a crap shoot they will say. I say, God helps those who help them self. If there is a God.

You gotta have an end game. What are your retirement years going to look like? The demands on our bodies don’t lessen because we’re retired. You need strong muscles and a vibrant constitution to fight the gravity of aging.

You need muscle, you need strong bones, you need a stable structure. You need a resilient outlook.

You can’t do anything if you’re in pain. Pain will sidetrack you, confuse you, consume you and addict you to things. I see that ghostly white pallor on faces many years younger than mine.

And now they have plenty of time to think about it, to worry about it and to get prescribed for it. Plenty of time to sit in waiting rooms and prescription pick-ups. Or wait for the Handi-van to come and get them. They also have plenty of people to discuss their aches and pains with.

Most of what I’m seeing could have been avoided by keeping their weight down, putting on some muscle and moving their bodies. A shame. These are your years, not your company’s.

These are the years you were always pining about at the water cooler. You put so much time and effort into these years where you could smell the roses. Now you’re smelling hospital disinfectant.

What’s your end game?

 

No, Thank You!

Won’t be long and I’ll be heading into my 74th year. If I read all the problems they say are waiting for us as we age, there doesn’t seem to be any good news.

There are cardiovascular issues, bones, joints and muscles start crapping out, your digestion gets problematic, vision, urinary, memory, weight, libido, (Where’s the gun?) and depression.

Actually, I was cooked at 70. If I opened my medicine cabinet without my glasses, I would see one big orange blur.

The only things that would fit me was sweats. Someone actually called me on my black sweat pants with a double breasted jacket and tie once.

Everything hurt, my back went out more than I did, my blood pressure and triglycerides were setting records, and I never left the doctor’s office without a new prescription.

I kept my trophy-sized kidney stones on the mantle and my doctor would always thank me profusely for putting her kids through college.

I had to be detoxed off of alcohol, xanax, muscle relaxers, pain killers and multiple sleep medications. In a ward, of course, for that added level of humiliation.

That was 45 pounds and 10 pairs of sneakers ago. It all comes back once you start to move it around. No matter what age you are. I know.

There isn’t a drug on the planet that makes me feel as good as when I move my body, stress my muscles, steady my mind and feed my human movement system the nutrients it needs.

Yes, the future’s uncertain, but to go into it unprepared, is a fate worse than, well, you know.

So, if it’s all the same, I’ll pass on the pain and misery.

You should too.

 

Here comes Marvelous Marvin

I was washing my kitchen floors this afternoon and I thought I would add some ammonia to get the job done. As soon as the vapor went up my nose, my memory bank burst open. All at once I was back at the State Police Barracks in Middleboro, Mass, as a ward of the state, washing the floors with ammonia.

In 1963, I was surrendered to the Division of Youth Services for an undetermined length of time as was the custom with juveniles. I was on probation in three cities and I was due for a vacation. Even though the charge they got me on was based off a lie the kid across the street told them. Still, I was due.

I stayed at the Roslindale facility almost 3 months in a maximum security situation, before I met with the Mass. Parole Board and it was decided that I would be a “mess boy” at the state police barracks indefinitely, or, until they decided to release me.

It was October 4, 1963, when I arrived. I thought I died and went to Heaven. I had my own room, and one day off a week to go home and look for work for when I was released. These cops ate great, and I was going to eat what they ate. Plus, I had free Trailways bus passes.

I had a TV, a record player, sparse bedroom furniture and my own shower, all on the top floor of the barracks building. And I got worked from sun up to sun down. I cooked, scrubbed, waited on troopers, shined boots, sanded dredging boats and washed more state cars than I care to recount.

I was there when Kennedy went, and the Beatles came.

But did I eat. I had clean clothes, a nice room and they even paid me 50 bucks a month. I started thinking maybe hell would be getting paroled out of this place. This was better than home.

Then one night, when I was in bed, the door to my quarters squeaked open. It was just a big empty space up there. He was still in the shadows when I hit the light. It was a trooper. My first thoughts were maybe I left something amiss down in the kitchen.

He was tall, Scandanavian, very fair, and had a blonde crewcut. His tie was undone telling me he was off duty and his heavy boots scuffled as he moved towards me. He had a bunch of what looked like magazines under his left arm and he was eating a bowl of coleslaw.

I was in bed

He sat on the edge of the bed and told me to relax, his name was Marvin Pratt and he used to live in Somerville. Like me. (He did his homework) We made small talk for a few minutes before he handed me the books. They were extremely graphic.

They were the kind of graphic, full frontal, unnatural, illegal, sodomy heavy material that only a state cop might get from a bust in those days.

He told me to look at them. Take my time. Relax. I sure wanted to look but I didn’t need company. Know what I mean?

What happened next is still hard to comprehend. He reached under my sheet and grabbed me. A Massachusetts State Trooper, with a wife, three kids and a great reputation on the force and he’s gonna molest a kid he doesn’t even know, that’s been in the can for months and has no clue if I will go running to Captain Luciano? It still boggles my mind.

I won’t list all of his sordid attempts but, suffice it to say, this fucker went on the hunt. For the next eight months, he was everywhere. He would stick his finger up my ass while I was cooking, carrying dishes or walking down a hall way. This guy had no fear and he knew where I lived.

When I was returning from my day off at home, he would pull the Trailways bus over on Route 44, board the bus, find me with a flashlight, hand cuff me with my hands behind my back, pull me off and try to terrify me by driving 120 mph and massaging my crotch. While I was still handcuffed.

This happened almost every week and still, no irregularities were ever reported by Trailways.

Once, when I was home, I came walking down Paulina Street only to see him sitting on my front porch talking to my mother. She was thrilled to think they liked me at the barracks. Of course, I could never tell her what I was going through. She never had a clue. Until years later.

Shows you how dangerous he was. He knew, and I knew, that one word from him would have me back in Roslindale in lock down, right on time for supper. I was a criminal, he was a cop.

Still, he never got me. Once, when I started to cry in frustration, I saw that he hated that and would suddenly leave. After that, I could have won an academy award. I could cry on cue.

I called the Division of Public Safety a few years back and didn’t get any satisfaction. They told me it might be best if I just moved on. I did.

Every now and then I imagine I might bump into my pal, Marvin…without the coleslaw.

Flashback without the acid.

The house that Jack built.

A woman asked me last night if I was married. I honestly didn’t know what to say. Hadn’t thought about it.

When I went home and went to bed, I dreamed about being married for almost the last twenty years.

I never cared for the institution of marriage after watching my parents suffer through it, but I married her because I cared for her and she had no health insurance.

And she knew that.

She had no money, no skills, no education and two grown children.

To make it worse, she had a nasty Bronx attitude about taking orders, so she was always mysteriously getting canned.

We were married in a quick afternoon ceremony with a justice of the peace and a saguaro cactus in attendance.

I remembered how I took that move back east with her for BMS and how disappointed and disillusioned I was when I got there. With everything.

I went from working on a dock, right into sales in Phoenix, so I never got the in-house politics, small talk, coffee machine, CYA thing.

When I got there, I found the whole thing embarrassing. There was no excitement, no joy, and sadly, no danger. It was just a bunch of nice local people trying to keep their gigs.

And moving back east put her in close proximity to her family and a horse barn and that was almost all she wrote. She was gone that first weekend.

The word horse never came up until then. From then on, she was either at the barn or in New Jersey.

One Sunday afternoon, as I was walking past the main bathroom, I saw her getting ready. “Getting ready” always meant she was off to the barn.

She had on her riding clothes and boots and was standing in front of the mirror..

When I expressed my frustration at her not even telling me beforehand, she whipped around with a brush in her hand and let me have it under no uncertain terms. I was stunned.

She told me what her rights were in this marriage with such clarity, I was sure she had either rehearsed it, or given that Patrick Henry before.

This was my biggest fear and why I stayed single for 53 years. Trapped.

Slowly, while thinking there was no way out, I started working my doctor for Ambien, then Soma, then Tramadol, and then Lunesta. You can fill in all the notorious pain killers right here. Check.

Around 2007, the wheels started coming off and my doc offered me Xanax. But she didn’t call it that. She called it alprazolam. From then on, you could call me fucked.

I was always home alone with my six dogs. I always had a nice buzz and something furry to snuggle with. Then I started hoping she wouldn’t come home at all.

Three years ago, feeling I had nothing left to lose after almost 40 years of hard earned sobriety, I picked up a drink.

To be continued.

I’m living the life I once so feared…and thriving.

I got nothing. I have no stash, no backup and no wiggle room. I own no furniture, no silverware and no TV. I have no car. I don’t shop, I forage.

All of my meals are variations on a theme.

I can do things with rice, oats, frozen vegetables and pasta that meet all my daily requirements for nutrition.

By the end of the month I have to decide if it’s me or the dog who eats. We know who wins that decision.

Clothing comes in the form of donations and the only thing I will spend money on is running shoes.

You can see through my t-shirts and don’t ask me about underwear.

The VA provides whatever medical attention I might need and so far I’ve been lucky.

I take deliberate, tactical and anticipatory steps to stay healthy.

I live solitary days filled with self education, music, extreme exercise and meditation.

I can go weeks without speaking to another human being.

Still, I am fulfilled. I have what I need and nothing more.

I sleep with a clean conscience and I’m regular.

You can’t put a price on that.

Some find it pleasant dining on pheasant.
Those things roll off my knife;
Just serve me tomatoes; and mashed potatoes;
Give me the simple life.

Man Up!

I love being a man. Love every minute of it. Love all the pain of it. I love the testosterone that courses through my veins.

I love the opportunity that being a man presents.

I love the opportunity to fight and die for my country. To live by the code of “women and children first.”

To voluntarily be the last one off that sinking ship. I revel in it.

I love being a breadwinner. To head off into a dreary, cold and stormy Monday while my family is safe and warm in their beds, comforted in the knowledge that I would never let them down. Ever.

What a precious gift!

I treasure all my lock ups, detentions, conscriptions, being on the run, detoxes, black eyes, bloody noses, forced marches and sleeping in the rain.

I loved being in a holding cell with my gang and tormenting our captors so they would beat us so badly they couldn’t present us to a judge.

I loved getting high in a balmy jungle with mortars walking in.

I love the smell of gun powder.

I love the muscle on my body. I love the sweat and grind it takes to put it there.

I love the total awareness of my well trained human movement system.

I love being brought to my knees….and getting up again.

I love being the oldest of ten and having next to nothing.

I love women. Love ’em all. I love their smell, their delicate nature and their wisdom. Surely a reason to live.

I love the fact that men can age and actually become more handsome. Wrinkles and all.

I love the adventure and the uncertainty of everything.

Manhood isn’t that thing between your legs, it’s a badge of honor. We should strive to measure up to that honor. Every waking moment.

James Brown was wrong when he sang “This Is A Man’s World.” It’s not, but it sure is an honor to be a man in this world.

Man up!

The Path of Most Resistance

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the poor house. I discovered that the broker I got, the better I looked. At 73, I am cut, lean, flexible and rugged. I have endurance levels that under similar circumstances would have offed me as a younger man.

My failed financial situation has proven to be a windfall.

I have no car, so I walk, run and bike everywhere. I carry my groceries home for a good mile in the hot sun. Because I have to. I eat only simple, whole foods and drink lots of water. No sodas or soft drinks. Can’t afford it.

I am in a gym before the sun comes up. Every day.

I am never sick. Ever.

Our bodies are made to work. To stretch, to push, to pull, to chase, to flea and to struggle. To resist. To resist predators, enemies, the elements and to resist gravity. When we don’t resist, we atrophy.

When our respiratory systems aren’t challenged, we get sick, we develop all manner of illness and we slowly regress into helplessness.

Technology is removing our starch, our resilience and our resolve. It’s a trap.

We don’t even have to climb a bookshelf for information, it’s right at our fingertips. In short, we ain’t working for it. Instead of hunting, we started putting seeds in the ground and waiting.

We need to progressively overload our muscles or they will turn to mush. We need to eat whole, clean foods and push our heart rates up because today’s technology driven world will not provide the opportunity.

We will lose our independence, our vitality and as I see frequently, the will to live. We will become motorized against our will. God forbid.

Anytime you can put your feet on the ground to get somewhere, do it. Push, pull, lift, squat, jump, run, and celebrate your human movement system for the miracle that it is.

Struggle, for God’s sake.

You will soon see a difference in your body, your outlook and your attitude. You will lose a chin or two and save your own life in the doing.

Always take the path of most resistance.

Go for broke.  🙂

 

 

The Art of Being Ridiculous

Bob Sullivan is across from me. We’re sitting in the Rusty Pelican having dinner. He used to be my district manager, now he’s VP of Sales. As usual, he’s nervously patting his receding hairline.

This is what he does when he needs to straighten someone out without extinguishing their fire. I feel for him but I hope he doesn’t make this too awkward.

You see, he’s the one with the bright idea of bringing me into sales, which George Jones thought was a ridiculous idea. (Me too). Sully pushed, George relented, and I moved to occupy the Arizona-New Mexico territory.

It was mine to lose.

At 44, I had never held a sales position, never filled out an expense report, a business plan or a speaker’s bureau request.

I didn’t even know which end of the body the product went in.

So, having no formal education but for a GED, I was forced to make it up as I went along. You don’t get the close supervision required when you’re 2500 miles from the home office.

Soon, when word got back that I was naked in hot tubs with customers, teaching cardiologist’s kids how to play guitar, doing stand-up at the Elks in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and suspiciously getting bit by customer’s dogs in Albuquerque, the in-house tension would start to rise.

The fact that hundreds of pounds of lobster, steamers and chowder were being dry iced out to the desert, mercifully escaped their attention.

Signed contracts were often stained with drawn butter.

I was FTD’s most valued customer with my constantly updated spreadsheet of birthday flowers sent to all my lovely female customers.

It was FTD without STD. Took some doing, believe me.

I needed to be dealt with of course, but gently, because my coffers were rising. Aetna was approving Cardiolite at $110 per injection under my clueless guidance and favorable customer letters were hitting Georgie’s desk.

There was enough hand wringing, lip biting and forehead patting to go around in Billerica those days.

“You’re doing a great job out here Bob,” he would say “but you take absolutely everything to such a ridiculous extreme.”

Fuck yeah, I would think while trying to look concerned. I take everything to a ridiculous extreme. Why bother, otherwise?

Fuck remarkable I say, shoot for ridiculous. No one from that era is ever gonna say, “O’Hearn? I don’t seem to recall.”

A few years ago I got a call from Brussels from a couple of reps who reported to Sully at the time, asking if all the stories were true. Sully told them I was the best he ever saw.

Anything worth doing, is worth overdoing.

When I brought a guitar home at the age of 25, my father told me I didn’t have enough rhythm to masturbate. Dad, ye hardly knew me.  🙂

In five years, I was fronting a popular band playing guitar…and keyboards.

When I got into video production, Sully gave me another “ridiculous reminder” and I ended up creating my own studio in the home office.

Now, in my 73rd year, after a total physical and financial collapse, I am inching towards 10% body fat, a twenty year-old’s body, the wind of a track star and the start of a very successful business.

It’s time to get even more ridiculous.

I’m now almost 50 pounds lighter, a certified personal trainer, certified in nutrition, weight loss and senior fitness. All areas just waiting to be drowned in helpful servings of my ridiculousness.

And the hits will keep coming because I know the value of going shit house.

Remarkable doesn’t work anymore. Always shoot for ridiculous.

Don’t ever have them scratching their head when your name comes up.

Be ridiculous!

 

 

 

 

 

Murder In The Sun Room

I accidentally double dosed my melatonin last night. What a ride. I dreamt in 3d about my stay at the VA Rehab in Bedford Ma.

Things came up I absolutely forgot about. About how I would get reprimanded for not using my walker. A walker? Me?

About the big guy behind me who quickly slipped my belt off of me as soon as I signed that paper.

About when I asked if I could shave, I had to have someone watching me who would take the razor from my hand on my last stroke.

About all the times I was asked if I felt suicidal. I would say, “No, but if you ask me again.”

About that flashlight in my face all night long every hour on the hour.

And that goddam endless screaming almost drove me bat shit.

About that dangerous guy in the next bunk who would sit cross-legged on his bed and stare at me while mumbling incoherently.

About that ambulance ride over to Dedham to get a cranial CT because of all the falls I had taken while under the influence of xanax and Chardonnay. Forgot about that.

About that crusty old female psychiatrist who laughed in my face when I told her I was a U.S. citizen and they couldn’t hold me against my will.

About how she told me if they released me, I could stroke out on their sidewalk. How she went into gory detail about my “hot liver.”

About how we would line up in front of the pharmacy window at 5:00 am for our morning doses of who knows what. I remember it had a soothing effect so I would quickly slip it into my top pajama pocket and double or triple dose on it later. It made for a nice, blurry afternoon.

I also remember worrying about someone’s passive aggressive tendencies now that I was among the walking wounded. You never really knew where you stood with her until there was an altercation. Then she would unload. She was in charge now by default. My worries were not unfounded.

Then, in my deep dream state, it all came back about the sun room where they would plop us down after lunch. A dozen or so vets from campaigns over the last 50 years, free to reminisce until dinner.

That sun room, where all the horrors of war were discussed in detail. Too much detail. It was wheelchairs in a circle like wagons. Everything but the marshmallows.

I now remember the young kids with with more notches on their belt than Billy the Kid. How are they gonna deal with that when the get my age?

It went on every day. For hours. Horrible. No wonder I blocked it.

It was so real and surreal.

Really, you gotta watch that melatonin stuff.

Here’s Your Motivation

On Monday, August 29, 2016, my first morning in my new apartment after being released from the VA hospital in Bedford Ma. with a belly full of Seroquel and Mirtazapene, I was still shaky.

I made my way to the phone booth of a bathroom with the garish, depression era wallpaper to see for sure that I didn’t pass away in the night.

The mirror still had toothpaste spray from the last tenant and the single light bulb in the ceiling created a shadow effect on my detoxed features.

What I saw was enough to make me pick up a drink again. I didn’t turn that light on for days after that.

The following Sunday, while walking my dog, I stumbled onto a gym not 900 steps from my door and life took a major turn.

In a matter of months I was back in that mirror constantly. I couldn’t believe the changes in my body. My whole composition was changing.

The overhead light I was previously cursing was now accentuating my new muscles.

I was just turning 70.

The hook was in. I started learning everything I could about fitness.

I became a certified personal trainer with nutrition, weight loss and senior fitness specializations. Whatever I learned in that process, I used on me.

Now, almost 50 pounds lighter and carrying more muscle that I ever have in my life at 73, I know through education and trial and error what works and what doesn’t.

These days, it’s a dream to work with clients who now have a new relationship with their mirror. The changes in their body composition is always a surprise and a delight.

I do two things right off the bat that make a huge, immediate impact with my new clients:

1. In their meal plan, I raise the amount of protein their taking in, to one gram per pound of body weight. That makes a huge difference.

Protein is muscle sparing and increases metabolism. The big one is satiety. Which means you will feel good while losing weight. Uh, fat.  🙂

2. I have clients focus on resistance exercises, using full body circuit training three times a week. Muscle burns more calories than just flopping around on an elliptical.

You will need all that muscle and more as you age. I can’t stress that enough. When muscle is allowed to atrophy, the machine starts breaking down and before you know, there goes your independence. Your house can become a jail cell with doctor visits.

You want to change your body composition not just shrink. You’ll be amazed at what you see in that glass from now on.

Muscle provides hustle, it keeps you stable and rugged. As you might already know, senior living is not for the faint of heart.

People always ask me what motivates me to train my body and teach as hard as I do, and I just tell them what motivates me is in my mirror.

It’s a direct reflection of who I am these days.  🙂

 

 

 

The Hook (How I learned to love the feel of iron)

On a much needed afternoon off in Vietnam, me, David Hamilton, (on my left) and Fitzy, got orders to go into the local Cam Rahn Village and catch us a little “boom boom”. (It didn’t say that on the orders, exactly)

Before we left, we decided to get high, so we went way up behind the battalion ammo dump, you know, for some atmosphere. We were already pretty buzzed in this shot.

When we got there, there were half a dozen shirtless, shiny and sweaty troops lifting up barrels, squatting with chains on their back and bench pressing a truck axle. Oh, my, what a sight. Never saw anything like it.

Back in the 60’s, if you saw a tanned, muscular man, he was usually standing in between Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.

As we got higher and took in the show, I started to come down with my first (of many) sexual identity crises. What the hell was this about? Bad enough I gotta dodge bullets, but now I gotta worry about my sexual preferences?

I had no frame of reference for what I was seeing. I just stared at them.

I felt like a girl.

These guys were peacocks. They had it and they knew it. They strutted around between sets, sticking their chests out, spitting on their hands for effect and glorying in their masculinity.

They were beautifully developed humans and the sight of them had an effect on me that is still with me today.

I realized then that nothing is more beautiful than a well conditioned, tanned and graceful, human body. David was no stranger to weight lifting, as you can see by his  arms in this photo. The guy was jacked.

He promised he would show me how to train myself but he was killed in a tragic ambush not long after this photo. That’s another story.

But the hook was set. When I got back to base camp I got one of those long poles we used to stir the burning human waste with, cut it down, put two number 10 cans filled with cement on each end and would pump myself to distraction trying to look like those guys.

Over the years I never stopped. I would train drunk, sober and everything in between. It’s a drug in itself.

It is with me today. Having muscle not only looks good, it feels good. It affects your confidence, your well being and your bearing.

It stands me up straight and helps me survive all the unnecessary bullshit I put myself through.

Kinda.

 

Five Point Friday

 

 

1. There are no fat burning foods. There are no fattening foods. It is calories in and calories out. Skittles and chicken have different nutritional values. 500 calories of either one will work but if you want to stay healthy, make better nutritional choices.

You can lose weight eating pure sugar as long as you remain in a caloric deficit.

2. You have a daily caloric budget and it doesn’t matter what time of day you spend your calories. You can break your bank early or wait until almost bed time. Or bed time. 🙂

2. The back of the napkin calculation says if you want to start losing weight and burn fat efficiently, eat 12 calories per pound of body weight. Easy-breezy.

3. To determine your total daily energy expenditure, TDEE, multiply your body weight by 11. That is the amount of fuel you need to run on. Once you get your number, multiply it by 0.75 for a 25% calorie reduction.

Track your daily caloric intake on myfitnesspal or a similar tracking device. Look for 1-2 pounds a week. Despite what you may be thinking, tracking can be fun, interesting and educational. More in-depth on that later.

5. Protein, protein, protein. Eat one gram per pound of body weight. Take a protein supplement if you need to. Protein will provide a feeling of satiety, is muscle sparing when losing weight, and burns more calories just to digest. This process is called the “thermic effect of food.” TEF.

Once you get your protein up, you will see definite changes in your body composition. Protein is Greek for “first place.” For obvious reasons.

Burn baby, burn.

Look at me…

..is what I was shouting out this morning on my run for anyone awake at 2:00 am to hear. I didn’t punch in my usual and customary 165 minutes of physical activity yesterday because my online personal training business is taking off and if I ever want to get off the government cheese….

So this morning I was so jazzed to hit the street I almost left my dog in the courtyard. I should take more days off so I can feel this refreshed. It was 65 breezy degrees. Heaven.  I was sprinting, zigzagging, running backwards, making a damn fool out of my happy, youthful, ass.

Then, as usual, I think about my age. This is my 73rd year on the planet. Whoa! I slow to a walk trying to compute such sobering information. Though it never takes me long to snap out of that mental restriction. Then I’m back to my interval training and whoop-de-do.

These day I often wonder if folks know how much vitality is left in our bodies as we cruise into retirement and beyond. I’m certainly no genetic superior and I’ve been blowing my own mind physically these last three years. Physical health always spills over to mental health and these are the years we need fortification.

Retirement isn’t for the faint of heart. We need muscle, bone and fortitude. We need the kind of resilience and stamina that comes from careful, well thought out conditioning and a nutritional strategy that will keep us off statins and diabetes medications and also ensure the freedom of mobility through our declining years. Think sick and imprisoned. No, thank you.

Yes, it is possible to feel like Superman in the morning. Every morning. Yes, it possible to side step diabetes, heart disease, depression and even cancer. We just need to cooperate with the “physician within.”

We were made to move, to struggle, to best our attackers and to die in our sleep.

These are the years we’ve worked so hard for. A pot of gold that hopefully isn’t empty.

To be senior, relevant, confident and free of pain is not a wild wish. It’s reality.

Up, up and away.

 

 

“Bobbybuilding” 101

I have never been in such physical shape. I have never gotten such perfect numbers on my physical exams and blood work. I am packing on muscle and growing in strength. I have boundless energy and I can.. and do, demolish 4000 calories daily while still losing two pounds a week.

At my gym I get fist bumped into distraction by my clients and fellow gym rats. In the distance I hear, “Ya know how old he is?” If someone had told me I would be an athlete in my 73rd year, I would have asked for a “hit offa that thang.”

I run for an hour every night and I bike back and forth to my gym 10 miles. Every day. I got rid of my car and walk back and forth to the super market daily. A mile each way. With groceries. 🙂

I have health I could never imagine. No aches, no pains and no delusions. How can this happen?

40 years ago today, May, 20, 1979, a Sunday, I woke up in a smoky, dingy motel room in Saugus, Massachusetts, bleeding from both eye sockets.

On the nightstand was a half a pack of Kools, two hits of speed, a hash pipe, an empty Southern Comfort bottle and a Trojan wrapper.

The girl in the room, (a band admirer) was sitting in a chair chain smoking waiting for me to come to. When I staggered past her to the bathroom, she casually mentioned that my face was “kinda blue”. It was.

I was wheezing, shaking, couldn’t focus and my teeth hurt from constantly chewing gum while speeding. I had hit one of my many bottoms.

Thus ended my short career as a road musician. I was paying the high cost of low living.

That night found me at St. Francis Church in Medford, sobbing through the “Lord’s Prayer” and asking around for some Librium to get me through my first sober night in decades.

Wasn’t gonna happen. I slept  with my mother that night. Weeping like a baby.

Then I remember throwing up in the parking lot in Chelsea the next morning with Arthur Keenan, my new AA sponsor. God bless that man.

I mention these two realities because it’s the 40th anniversary of my near death experience. And the fact that four decades later, the human body can forgive just about anything.

Despite my best efforts.

Motivation? Let’s send out:

I always get the creeps when I hear they’re bringing in the motivational guy. How lazy and uncreative for the company, and how lucrative for the guy who climbed Everest in his underwear.

I’ve sat in on more than a few planning committees as they were just trying to fill a slot. If you’re looking for inspiration, look amongst yourselves. You see them every day.

There’s plenty of “tough shit tickets” being punched out there, and the brave survivors with incredible stories are most likely sitting in your own cafeteria.

Send the hired guns back to the Catskills.

These performers have been groomed, handled, contracted, rehearsed, road tested, and scheduled like the cast of Hair.

I call it corporate stand-up.

I don’t want to sit through an hour of some guy channeling Zig Ziglar. Zig has already zagged.

I’ve had enough corporate smog blown up my ass over thirty years to close an airport.

Use some of that creativity and innovation you’re always talking about.

Clues, anyone?

“You did a good job.”

“You did a good job.” They had no idea. I did things they couldn’t measure. For big hitters, I flew lobster in from Boston, cooked, served, played the piano, told jokes, then cleaned their house afterwards.

I hand delivered Thallium 201 and molybdenum 99 generators. I taught customer’s kids how to play guitar, lift weights and boot up Windows 95.

I fended off gay advances without anyone getting their feelings hurt. I fended off straight advances without anyone getting pregnant.

I didn’t lose my composure when the fat female tech with the mustache said, “How bad do you want this business?

I got naked in a hot tub at UNM so my drunken customers wouldn’t feel awkward. I was a regular stand-in at the Scottsdale Court House when my female tech friends were getting divorced and needed a shoulder to cry on at breakfast.

My big clients had my AMEX card number so I wouldn’t have to drive all the way across town when they got hungry. I was the best secret keeper in the territory.

I knew I was gonna do great things in sales, so I limited myself to a ninth grade education.

Otherwise…it would have been an unfair advantage. 🙂

Doodly-Squat

The head of IT called a meeting for 4:00 o’clock. Four o’clock. The least scintillating person in the building. The guy who has code scribbled on his palms.

You’ve had a rough day. There’s no way you’re gonna stay conscious through his whole hypnotic delivery.

You know you’re gonna doze off in your seat and make that snark noise you’re famous for. You’re hoping to make it through so you can run him down in the parking lot later.

As he delivers his monotone presentation while rattling the change in his pockets, you’re thinking all is lost. It’s not.

The solution: Bathroom Stall Air Squats. (Shown below)

Once the dirge commences, excuse yourself at the 15 minute mark and head to the rest room. Find an empty stall and secure yourself inside. A handicapped stall would be perfect.

You can keep your pants up for this.

I want you to stand in front of the bowl facing the door with your feet spread out as wide your hips. Then squat down, touch the seat and return to the starting position. Try for 25 reps. If you can get 40, even better.

You will feel totally refreshed and ready for anything. You might even skip the gym on the way home.

The rest room is the perfect place for an air squat reboot. Especially if you had the bean burrito for lunch.

Plus, you’re still on the clock.

 

 

 

The Gift of Failure

On paper, I’m a major fuck up. I lost my business, my beautiful home, my 401K, walked away from a high paying, “all you gotta do is show up” job, blew my retirement, got hooked on Xanax and picked up a drink after 40 years.

On August 14, 2016, I surrendered my fat, bloated, beaten and mortified ass to a VA Rehab unit where I was promptly scared straight.

After 14 days, they still didn’t want me on the street because they said I was a stroke risk and they didn’t want me dying “on their dime.” Then I find my life partner was a sneak and a phony.

I ended up in a grungy, depression era apartment in a place called Ayer, Massachusetts. I used to live in the upscale town of Groton next door and would shudder when I drove through.

On my first morning, I walked into my phone booth size bathroom and saw with sober eyes, the havoc I had wreaked on myself. I was a beaten dog. It was enough to make me pick up a drink. But I didn’t.

That was two and a half years ago.

In that time I have totally reinvented myself. I started going to a gym that was so strategically close to my apartment I could roll out of bed and get hit with a dumbbell. Divine intervention.

I became interested in fitness and started studying to be a personal trainer. Then I went after a nutrition certification, then weight loss, and then senior fitness.

I also studied for and passed two insurance license exams. Things I never thought I had the gray matter for.

I went from a 230 pound stroke risk, to a 73 year old elder athlete at 185 pounds. I can give as good as I get, I am physically competent, and my blood work is perfect, I have no aches and pains and I’m on absolutely zero medications.

Yeah, I’m a fuck up, a very grateful one.

 

Superman

When I was a little boy I got very sick. I don’t know what it was but I know I was confined to the couch where my mother could tend to me while riding herd on the other nine kids.

I could pick up by her demeanor that she thought it was serious. Serious enough to call Dr. McSweeney to have him come over. (Back in the day of house calls)

I don’t remember what he did, but in a few days I wanted off that couch.

Besides it was summer and I was missing it.

I remember it was a late Saturday afternoon when I got the nod. I could finally go out. Nora walked me to the back stairs and told me to “Go easy.”

Oh, I remember the warmth of that early summer night. I could hear all the kids playing out on the street, bicycle ring-dingies, the girls singing “One-miss-a-loop, and the crack of the bat at the Hodgkins school yard.

Thought I would lose my mind.

Then I felt my feet take off. Almost without me. I felt so alive. I ran, and I ran, and I ran. Up Paulina, down Simpson, back up Irving to Wallace and almost broke the sound barrier on Holland street.

I had boundless energy. I told everyone I passed that I was Superman. I didn’t wait for a response.

It was an unforgettable moment. All that stored energy and the thrill of being alive. I even remember the jersey I had on.

I bring this up because I had the exact same feeling this morning on my run. 65 years later. It all comes back.

Up, up and away!

 

 

Trying New Things

I love learning and changing. I will do a 180 if I see an interesting diet, exercise, or healthy habit I can glom onto to keep life interesting. So it is with my slow carb diet.

Last week I switched to black coffee and ate nothing but protein, vegetables and black beans. Very enjoyable.

I felt my skin tighten, my muscles harden and my pants loosen almost immediately. I have plenty of energy all day and I crave nothing. What’s not to like?

Well, part of the plan is not to let my metabolism catch on so it can jump in and re-regulate itself. Also known as the insidious “plateau”. Can’t have that. So on the seventh day you are supposed to have a few “cheat” meals to throw it off.

Some people eat donuts, bear claws, ice cream, and maybe even get drunk. I can’t bring myself to commit such foolishness, so I opt for oatmeal and protein pancakes with blueberries and bananas.

Sounds like carbohydrate to me.

I ate that at 3:30 am after my morning run. I immediately felt an energy rush. Then I felt a bit sloshy and a little sleepy. It is now 7:30 am, and I am down 4.25 pounds in four hours. Crazy.

I got me one confused metabolism right now, but I guess that’s the point of what they call a “re-feed”. I do love it when a plan comes together.

I just hope I don’t sneeze in public. 🙂

Workin’ The Faith Muscle

Over the last few rough and tumble years, I’ve developed my mind and body beyond what I thought was possible. I tweaked and nurtured, toned and honed.

I just about re-invented me physically and mentally. I was punching above my weight class.

But I lost my faith.

I forgot to work my faith muscle. I let it atrophy.

My faith turned to horrible fear and doubt. My loneliness compounded with interest. I went from valiant to victim. I was addicted to uncertainty.

Sometimes I was praying for the end. I was going there anyway, why not now? I had reached my bottom.

Then life forced me to confront myself. I couldn’t cower anymore.

Through meditation and the enlightening solitude of my nightly runs, I’ve finally come home to the fact that to be a human being is to be a miracle.

To be a higher form of intelligence on this magnificent orb is a gift.

And to know that through all the disappointment and tragedy life has handed me, I’m still alive and well.

Better than well.

I know now, to be in fear, I can’t be in faith. To be in faith, I can’t be in fear. You can’t straddle that fence.

I’m working my faith muscle harder than ever these days. It’s part of my routine.

And I’m pumped!

Agent Of The Universe

I’m here on a mission. I have no doubt. It becomes clearer as I run in the cool stillness of a full moon. I’m in a moving meditation.

Problems lose their grip and fall away.

I seem to understand…everything.

I’m comforted. I’m assured that whatever didn’t kill me then, will not kill me now. I may suffer, but only temporarily, because my work is not done.

The universe soothes me, yet emboldens me. Answers come when I listen, so I listen. From deep within. In the forgiving darkness, I heed the mission.

I am an agent of the universe.

 

The IRS (THEIRS)

I never get sick. Running in the rain in 36 degrees in just a t-shirt won’t take me down but a well placed threat from the IRS is a potent stool softener.

The missile landed on Friday in the form of a certified letter. By Monday, I was down for the count. Sore throat, congestion, and a wobbly disposition.

It took the IRS to take me down. My overactive imagination had me doing a tour of Leavenworth and washing my celly’s underwear in the sink. (Don’t go there.)

The ball was in my court. It was up to me to call them and plead my case. They were going to place a lien on me after they doubled what I owed.

After two telephone attempts where I was told at the outset that today would not be my day, the queues were too long, I fell back into bed. On the third day I was told I was eligible to wait.

Nothing, not even the end stage malaria I thought I was experiencing by then, would shake me off that phone.

After two hours and change, a Mr. McMillan engaged. When I mentioned the two hours, he assured me that was nothing. It was my lucky day. And it was too.

What are the odds of getting the opportunity to plead your case to a fellow war veteran who also had a spouse divorce him without his knowledge and shut down both of his bank accounts? I shit you not.

I’m thinking the calls can’t be recorded because the conversation we had sounded like two brothers re-discovering each other after many years.

This isn’t to say I got any inappropriately special treatment, it means I got an empathetic ear and didn’t have to re-invent the wheel.

I thought I was screwed, I wasn’t. We were married and filing jointly and she signed on the dotted line. Too bad. For her.

I thought she could take all that money from me, money I gave her in good faith as an honorable end to a long productive partnership, and leave me financially naked and wreck my credit score for eternity.

She can’t. She’s going to have to pony up.

My symptoms started clearing up before I got off the phone.

It’s a Pyrrhic Victory for me though, all the other other debt she left me with has done me irreparable harm.

And the pain of knowing that someone you spent so much time with could be so evil.

When my business started fading, so did she.

It was sad for a moment to think that the very country I risked my life for would have to come after me like I was a common criminal.

I’m grateful now, that’s not the case.

 

 

Podcast test

The perfect time for a new approach is when you’re under the gun. When your world is shifting beneath your feet. Isn’t my timing perfect?

What I’ve been doing these days when I’m mentally overwhelmed, instead of bemoaning my losses, which are huge, horrendous and heartbreaking, is to shift to an attitude of gratitude.

I’m finding things could certainly be worse for your humbled correspondent. When I think of all the skills I’ve acquired, even been certified and licensed for under these conditions, I’m amazed.

I’ve transported myself from a pudgy, pill popping, malcontented prisoner of negativity, to a seventy-something, world wearied, trialed by fire, athlete with some serious positude.

Most of my acts of folly have turned to wisdom. Jewels in my crown. My education has cost me dearly, but I am not lost, only redirected.

I feel now as though I’m on a predetermined path to enlightenment.

I have been chastened, I have been chosen.

For that, I am grateful.

 

Eternally.

 

 

The Shift

The perfect time for a new approach is when you’re under the gun. When your world is shifting beneath your feet. Isn’t my timing perfect?

What I’ve been doing these days when I’m mentally overwhelmed, instead of bemoaning my losses, which are huge, horrendous and heartbreaking, is to shift to an attitude of gratitude.

I’m finding things could certainly be worse for your humbled correspondent. When I think of all the skills I’ve acquired, even been certified and licensed for under these conditions, I’m amazed.

I’ve transported myself from a pudgy, pill popping, malcontented prisoner of negativity, to a seventy-something, world wearied, trialed by fire, athlete with some serious positude.

Most of my acts of folly have turned to wisdom. Jewels in my crown. My education has cost me dearly, but I am not lost, only redirected.

I feel now as though I’m on a predetermined path to enlightenment.

I have been chastened, I have been chosen.

For that, I am grateful.

Eternally.

Surrender

I’m cooked. On paper, I’m done. I’m a 73 year old man with no options left. The IRS is after me, debt collectors are sending demand notices that allow me to see “Pay to the order of” in the window of the envelope just so I’ll open it. Nice try.

The bank where I have my car note is getting an itchy trigger finger. It’s a chest tightening situation.

The job market is a gauntlet.

For more than a year, I’ve been groaning myself awake. I groan myself all the way to the coffee button. I’m totally isolated and I have a fugitive mentality.

I sneak up on my mailbox and I never pick up any of those long white envelopes. The condo I live in is so secluded it wreaks of “Witness Protection”. Sometimes I drive right by it.

I turn my computer off at night, so in the morning, in my darkened mood, I won’t be able to delete anything I’ve written until after a very lengthy boot up. At which time I might have come out of my mental basement.

My only respite is running. My religion.

Running releases energy, it doesn’t solve problems. Sometimes it makes things worse.

It was just after midnight last night when I got up. I think my groaning woke Izzy. The stories that my mind generate are stoking my adrenaline and have made my feet go numb.

The curse of an overactive imagination.

It is freezing. Good. I ease out of my front door at 1:10 am determined to run my demons off. At mile three, it ain’t working. Actually, I’m worse. I pick up the pace to stave off hyperventilation. No help.

When I get to Wells Fargo, I don’t take my scheduled right, I keep going. Taking that right would get me home sooner, but that would only put me face to face with someone I’ve been trying to avoid…me.

I cross R.H. Lawrence, heading to an epiphany or an early, earthly exit. At this moment, I don’t care.

A mile into unfamiliar territory, while gasping for breath, a word leaps into my consciousness…. surrender. Surrender.

Innately, I knew what it meant. I should surrender. Not because I’m tired or weary or disgusted or bored. I should surrender because I honestly don’t know what to do at the moment. I’ve done everything I can. With everything I can.

The outcome is not up to me anymore. It’s out of my control. So…I will surrender.

I stop and start walking a big wide circle on El Camino. Then everything lets go. Water everywhere. I’m howling now in joyous release. Lucky I was in a business district.

Surrender, what a beautiful word. In that moment, my shoulders drop and I realize…. I’m not a loser, I’m enough, I’m worthy, I’m supported, I’m complete, I’m connected, I’m whole and deserving.

Surrender.

I felt peace as soon as I said it.

 

 

A Twist of Fate

Lately, I’ve been wondering where I would be today if I hadn’t decided to twist off the cap on that Bud Light on Mother’s Day, 2016.

Would I still be telling preposterous stories to all the docs in my sphere of uh, influence, that I accidentally left my Zoloft, Xanax, Ambien, Soma and Percocet prescriptions in a hotel while on one of my numerous, “mostly fictitious”, business trips?

Twisting that cap after 40 years at my age, 70 at the time, and under those prescribed circumstances was a dangerous, foolhardy and careless undertaking.

But I thought about it and proceeded with the least amount of caution. The combination of those drugs and alcohol would surely stroke me up to take me out.

What made me do it? It wasn’t clairvoyance, I can assure you. I didn’t know I would turn into a muscle-loaded track star, sans 45 pounds, certified in all aspects of strength, fitness, and nutrition that marveled at the sight of his own feet after twenty years.

It was frustration and bitterness at my plight. My business and my marriage were tanking and I saw no reason not to numb my senses.

I also didn’t know how inextricably bound the success of my marriage was to the success of my business. Funny how that works.

Therein lies the twist.

The terrifying and heartbreaking series of events that took place thereafter changed me forever.

I am now a healthy, clear thinking, (up for debate) grateful elder athlete (73) who is now more productive and creative than ever. Instead being dumbed-down by alcohol and orange bottles.

What would have happened if I hadn’t twisted my own, fate? I try to avoid those kind of thoughts. No time for that.

I did what I did though and I’m grateful I won’t ever have to make that decision again.

One does wonder, though.