Assuming The Position

As I was donning my running vest this morning, I was reminded of a story I heard years ago that made me think. Probably urban legend, but thought provoking.

In between two large office buildings there was a parking lot with an attendant. Every day as workers parked, they paid the man with the orange vest, parked their cars, and went to work.

As the years passed, the friendly man with orange vest learned the names of the workers, asked about their families, and was always sure to offer a quick hello and “how do you do”.

At Christmas the workers would bring the man with the orange vest gifts – chocolates, wine, and cards with dollar bills.

Then, one day, the man with the orange vest didn’t show up. The workers assumed that he was sick. Nobody knew his contact information. They didn’t actually know much about him.

The man never showed up again.

After some time the management of the two buildings met to ask what happened to the beloved parking attendant.

“I thought that he worked for you,” each manager said.

The man with the orange vest didn’t work for anybody.

The parking lot was a free lot.

This man simply showed up one day, put on an orange vest, and began asking for money.

For 20 years this fraud continued.

I assume that one day he realized that he had stashed away enough money to retire.

Then, he simply stopped showing up.

Right or wrong, he showed initiative.

Some times all you have to do is show up….and assume the position.

Where are you parked? 🙂

 

 

Parting of the Ways

The place is called Health Plan One, or HPONE. It’s an insurance company in Phoenix. They called me out of the blue. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no insurance.

What they do is, comb through Indeed for anyone with sales experience and reach out. I was blissfully unaware that Medicare Annual Open Enrollment was coming up in October.

I was game, so I went over there one afternoon.

The hiring manager immediately sat me in front of a computer for an hour filling out paperwork and I hadn’t even said “I do.” Yet.

He said, “Can you start June 11?” He sent me for a drug test and we were on. The starting pay wasn’t shabby and it would only get better. I was promised.

Monday morning, June 11, comes and I find myself in a Fellini movie. It looked like they stopped at a homeless shelter for last call. Nothing surprises me anymore.

The woman who is running this “Fast Track” session is a retired prison guard out of Gainesville, Florida. She had on tight, peach colored stretch pants, with calves Richard “The Refrigerator” Perry would have admired.

My irises were getting a workout this morning.

She opened with, “Welcome to Hell” She wasn’t joking. She held up a book the size of a Sears Catalogue and told us we had to get this between our ears by the 21st, which was the Arizona State Insurance Exam. Huh?

We crammed all day, all night, all weekend. It was contract law with woulda’s, coulda’s, shoulda’s and abbreviations. There were linguistic loopholes, exceptions, omissions and gotchas. It was a fustercluck.

How bad did I need the money, you ask?

HR came in on Friday, the last day, and said good luck on the big test, “but if you don’t pass, then we will simply have to part ways.” Awww, so sweet.

Long story short, I passed on a Thursday and twitched all the way to Monday the 25th. Now, I have to say, I have been very fortunate to come up in some good company cultures, Dupont, BMS. etal.

This wasn’t it.

There was something seriously wrong  with everyone in the goddam building. I used a bathroom two blocks away and I never went into the cafeteria during lunch.

But when that Monday the 25th came around, I would have shown up there if the building was on fire. I..really…needed…the money.

After a full morning of congratulations to the winnowed out survivors, it was revealed there was such a high fail rate on the test, they were surprised to see…most of us.

At that point, I let out a sigh of relief and started texting myself a long overdue grocery list. That long afternoon and all the next day, training was pure silliness. Just dumb. But I’m gettin’ me some groceries.

Plus, I had my broker’s license.

Wednesday afternoon, a stern looking woman came in a told us it was time to take AFIP, the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals exam. C’mon, willya?

It was days of reading that had to be accomplished by the next afternoon. She said “don’t bother trying to read all the material, you won’t make it. Just go to the tests at the end and try to work your way backwards.”

I look up at the trainer and whisper, “Is she serious?” He nodded in the affirmative. She said we would have three attempts, if we failed the third, there would be a, guess what? Yes, a parting of the ways. Awww. (Again)

For me, this was the equivalent of passing the bar. I studied around the clock and it wasn’t sinking in. This material was for veteran insurance brokers. I deleted my grocery text.

I needed a 90, I got an 86. I was done. Gone.

As I was leaving, I saw Lawrence, a 600lb, legally blind kid with dreads down to his way too low slung jeans. He was smiling, I think. He got a 92 and kept his job. I said congratulations and told him he was a smarter man than me.

He said, “Shhhitt, I ain’t smart man, it was that notepad document with all the answers on it that saved our asses. We all had it, didn’t you?”

I don’t need to explain what happened there, do I?

Parting is such…bullshit. I did get my broker’s license, though. 🙂

The Elder Athlete

I bought the domain name so I guess it’s official. I have a book, a blog and a website in the works. I got 1200 hits in 2 hours off of a recent phytness blog. I don’t know who they are and I don’t usually care, because I get paid in catharsis.

So I have decided to write “The Elder Athlete.” It’s not some puffy idea to possibly bring your blood pressure down, or knock a few points off your LDL, it’s about sparing yourself a life of abject misery and doctor bills.

It’s about being relevant, on the scene, in the moment and still be able to put food on the table if your Social Security runs out.

I am the product of good habits, determination and the will to live. I speak with authority because I have made all the gaffes, belly flops and suffered through all the pregnant moments. I went in and I came out. Alive..and more.

Two years ago, I was in a locked down unit at the VA hospital using a walker, heavily medicated, sans belt and shoelaces. I was shuffling around the ward trying to figure out how I got there. Hard lessons.

I was weighing in at 230 pounds with a palpable blood pressure number. I’ve been there.  I came back stronger, fitter, sleeker and wiser.

I’m talking about fitness when it really counts, these so-called declining years. Your seventies and eighties can be a hell of unimaginable proportion.

You will be joining the orange bottle club and be trying to get family members to give you a ride to your weekly, daily, monthly doctor visits.

You’ll be grousing about the cost of insulin and co-pays. Insurance companies will forget to call you back. You want some of that?

You need to be the steward of your vessel. It’s about relieving that pain in your pump.

The good news: we’re living longer. But you want to live, not exist. You don’t want to be part of your parlor furniture. A potted plant. Irrelevant. You want to stay? Then you surely want to play.

Your later years can be the best of times or the worst of times. You can reside in Malfunction Junction…or not. You can sit around Starbuck’s and trade doctor visit stories with your golf buddies…or not.

My bona fides: I am a 72 year old certified personal trainer, a nutrition specialist, a chef, a showman and a loser. But I still have rubber on the end of my pencil.

I will share mistakes, anecdotes, wrong turns, how to feed yourself, how to train effectively, (read: injury free) and get your mind right. I’ll share what’s bullshit and what’s not in personal fitness.

Most importantly…and wonderfully, it’s never too late. I know how to do this. Because I have.

Ready for your finest challenges? Good. They’re up ahead.

See you in the funnies.

Poison….

So here’s what I do. I’ve been out in the Arizona job market for one year and I have been rode hard and put up wet.

Soooo…when someone has the nerve, a recruiter, a business owner, or hiring manager, to let me have one between the cheeks, I blow the dust off of my keyboard and get to work.

I respond in kind. My kind. I have a catalogue of idiotic encounters that would fill a business book.

The mind boggles.

One miscreant, who behaved badly by wasting a lot of my time, lying like a sack of shit and then never calling me back, received a personalized blog in his e-mail this morning. Crafted by yours truly.

It was an interesting story, one full of lies and deceit. Starring him. He thinks it’s going into circulation. Everywhere. He is losing his shit as we speak.

They just think you’ll slink off and lick your wounds. Not these days.

I get even… because I can.

And I do.

My Kitchen Confidential

My brother-in -arms

I’ve been involved with food since I was eleven years old, when I made pizza off the back of an old converted Sunbeam bread truck. That fire trap had a working oven in it and would catch fire fortnightly.

I worked in kitchens while in reform school, in delis, pastry shops, Italian restaurants, pizza and sub shops, and I cooked all through the Army. Those were heady days.

On Mother’s Day, 1970, I started work at Fantasia Restaurant, a five star behemoth in Cambridge Ma, that would swallow me up.

You could get lost in there. It had its own bakery, laundry, butcher shop and dessert shoppe. It had six working bars and more employees than a super bowl game.

Waitresses outnumbered men 200 to one. Penicillin was the drug of choice.

I worked there for 15 years. In that time, I can say, I never drew a sober breath. My paychecks would pile up until Bruno Perni came out of his office and hit me over the head with them.

Booze was allotted on the hour. Every hour. After my very first shift, I threw up in the parking lot.

When the kitchen crew was drinking heavily, the line to pick up food would really slow down. Waitresses would cue up runway style to pick up their food off of the “slide”. The slide was a “pressure point”.

Things would get rowdy.

When cocaine came into vogue, the line would really speed up and food would come flying. The waitresses were amazed. It wasn’t cooked, but at least they got it in good time. We thought.

There were no dupes, only shouting. You had to have an unbelievable memory. You better, some of these gals could chew nails and spit rust. In short, it was a madhouse. Only a fool would attempt it sober. I didn’t.

When Anthony Bourdain died, I actually wept. I read his book, “Kitchen Confidential” years ago and devoured every word. I knew exactly what he meant. I felt like I was in the kitchen with him.

The problems with drugs and alcohol, the unsteady work, the vagabond lifestyle, the smelly kitchens, the transient help, the unscrupulous owners, the unbelievable, and endless effort that goes into working a busy kitchen.

All holidays ever meant to us was more, longer, harder hours. Luckily, we never had to do it sober. Mother’s Day, notwithstanding.

Tony was a heroin addict, among other things, and on his show he would drink. Like it’s not the same thing. Dangerous. With travel, production pressures, time constraints and did I mention…sucky locations?

Look at his eyes. I watched them closely when he was eating in some shit hole in Burma or Rangoon trying to shove some local “delicacy” down his gullet.

Yeah, he was making a lot of money, but that lifestyle will (did) take its toll.

I’m thinking, whatever pain he was carrying around to make him step off the planet, started years ago….in some dirty kitchen.

I miss you Tony, I felt your pain.

 

 

 

I did.

Wearing a tie and jacket in Phoenix this time of year is not for the faint of heart.

After I got my insurance broker’s license, an acquaintance at the gym revealed to me he was a trainer for a nearby brokerage and asked me if I would stop by his place later. I did.

It was huge. He asked me if I felt intimidated. I did.

Then he asked me if I might consider coming over there to get ready for the Open Enrollment Period starting in October. I did.

But I was leery. I was new to this game and knew the high pressure. I’ve had enough failure the last few years to take me to the rapture. Remember?

The sea of desks and humanity out on the floor made me swoon. I didn’t want to get swallowed up in that.

I told him I was new to this game and already suffered enough trauma just getting licensed.

He said I would immediately stand out from the crowd. They were looking for professionals. Like me.

He said,  “You got the right stuff, Bob.”

I did?

He said, “Let’s deal with your intimidation, first.”

He told me to ditch my phone, (HIPPA) and follow him out on the floor. Then he asked me to walk down the main aisle with him.

He told me to carefully scan left and right as we passed each desk. Whoa.

When we got to the end, he looked me dead in the eye and said “Do you know what I’m talking about, Bob?”

I did.

 

Transferable Risk?

This is the soft drink display at the insurance company where I work.

Note the absence of Coke, Pepsi or Mountain Dew.

Insurance companies deal in risk.They understand exposure, hazard, peril and loss.

They use the law of large numbers to hedge their bets.

Their method of dealing with risk and potential loss, is avoidance. They avoid Coke, Pepsi et al.

They must know something we don’t.

This is why you can’t get a Diet Coke in the afternoon at work when you need a jolt.

Insurance companies always shoot for the statistically predictable. Always.

Insurance companies are not stupid. Are you?

 

Guardian Angel

I wanted them. They wanted me. A great job with great potential. All I had to do was get my insurance license. In a hurry. So they put me in a fast track program with a dozen other victims.

The deal was, permanent employment would commence in two weeks, IF I passed the state exam.

Which they would gladly pay for as long as I could qualify out of the training with a 70% score.

It started on a Monday morning and I had to succeed by Friday afternoon at 5:00 pm.

It was murder.

At 4:36 Friday afternoon, yours truly is staring at a blinking cursor. They were going to take my badge and wish me a nice weekend in twenty minutes.

I guess the instructor felt bad for me because I only had 10 questions left out of 100, and I was drawing blanks. Big ones.

At that time, there was no one else in the room, so she silently sat down next to me and put her hand over the top of my mouse hand. When I moused over an answer, I felt a gentle pulse. 10 times.

At the end, when I hit the results button….it showed a 70. SEVENTY! Oh my God, I almost collapsed. I thanked her profusely and promised her I would study my ass off for the real test.

And I did. (Oh, did I ever.)

That real test was yesterday in a locked down, totally secure, frightening environment, and I killed it. It seems like a dream now. I got the job and I start Monday. A huge opportunity.

This morning, after bringing my fingerprints to the Arizona Department of Insurance, I looked at my notes from my fast track class.

It seems my instructor needed a brush up course her own self, because those ten answers were wrong.

Bless her little heart anyway.  🙂

The Corporate Lamp Post

Yes, David was a hero, history should be kind. Though Goliath was a giant, he was also blind.

This is the person or persons that initially interview you to screen you for the open position. Usually someone found loitering around the coffee machine that management wants to keep busy. They are refreshing in that they are mostly uninformed, awkward and have a relative in the C-Suite.

They read the hypothetical questions like a first grader and express relief at getting through the process. (And profusely thank you for helping them.)

The other day, I was taken from the lobby to a series of unavailable meeting rooms in an assortment of campus buildings. (Perhaps that was the tour?)

When we finally settled in, there was a mild argument on who would ask what. (Very entertaining.) I became a bit concerned when they asked what position I was applying for. (They didn’t have my resume.)

When we finally got rolling after about 25 minutes, there was a knock on the door. The real interviewers had appeared. With resumes but more confused than the two lamp posts I was initially awarded.

Again, the same questions in the same awkward, halting, way. HR must want the interviews to be spontaneous. (I’ll give them that.) As Leonard Cohen might say, “I have seen the future, and brother it is murder.”

This was a huge company. I am left with only one conclusion: Big is the new stupid.

 

Groundhog Days

Arizona. This is the most exercise conducive place I’ve ever lived. Every single day is sunny, dry and wide open.

There hasn’t been a day in almost a year that I haven’t been able to take advantage of its repetitive beauty. I think about that every morning as I’m hoofing my way down El Camino in the dark.

Then it hit me: what about me? If I’ve been able to bound out the door every morning, surely that has something to say about my own steady state of fitness and health.

I haven’t been sick or come down with anything to derail my fitness efforts in all this time. Wasn’t always the case. Kind of unnerving when I think about it.

It all comes back to “you get back what you put in.” Which I shrugged off in my younger days. CVS used to give me their annual orange bottle award.

I could go a few months on good intentions but always got sidetracked with one damn thing or another.  I’m seeing it now, real life changing results in my mind, body and attitude.

By the way, what day is it?

The hours in between

I’m a convict not an inmate,
I’ve been in here before.
Thinking makes me suffer
As I crawl across the floor.
Like a prison built on madness,
It scars me to the core.
So I move in midnight hours,
Where my shadow can’t be seen.
Pounding out my penance,
In the hours in between.

That Thinking Feeling

Have to stop thinking. I went out the door this morning with two interviews in my sights. Thinking the first one was just a warm-up, a dog. Just some light sparring before the main event.

Surprise! The first place took my doors off. I was blown away. I am a sucker for elegant office space and co-workers who aren’t dressed like pirates. It was huge and impeccably laid out. Everyone looked coherent and actually happy.

I felt like calling the next outfit and telling them to take the afternoon off.

Didn’t hurt that this first place had the state of Arizona tied up in contracts and they’re staffing up to meet demands. You could smell the money.

The interview went very well, I thought. For me, they’re not interviews, I prefer to call them performances.

If I could get paid to interview, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

After that, I left with a new angst. (Like I need another) I wanted this gig. Oy!

I hit the next target approximately an hour later. The one I originally thought was the prize. It was OK, but no cigar.

Like a bad love triangle, they wanted me like I wanted the other guys. Anyway, at this point, I was warmed up and just happen to love the sound of my own voice, so I went for the fence.

Most places will tell you they’ll call you after they make a decision. Not today.

After my performance, the guy leans over and says. “You gotta work here Bob, whaddya say, you in?” Then he slides a paper cup wrapped in plastic over to me and motions towards the men’s room.

Oh, by the way, I also like being pursued.

I think.

Personal Training: Staying in the picture

Personal training is not unlike any other consultative sell. You have to ask open ended questions, handle objections, have a strategic path forward, a stretch goal, (pun intended) and a WIFM.

The least difficult is the needs assessment.

Most clients will readily agree there’s a need. What they can’t see is an outcome. They just can’t conjure up a suitable image. A long term goal needs vision and support. That’s where we come in.

There is a whole lot more to a successful client/trainer relationship than just changing the numbers on a weight stack, or yelling, “Gimme one more.”

Trainers are in a delicate position, they can nurture or destroy. If you think your guy or gal is a self possessed creep who’s watching the clock, you’re gonna start missing appointments. That’s a lot of responsibility right there. Especially if a doctor dropped your name. Need I say more?

Oh, and making a personal training cold call could get you killed. “Hey, fat boy, what time are those pants due to explode?”

There are calls at night, e-mails, panic attacks, relationship issues, (serious business) stalls, setbacks and folks who are pulling their own chain as well as yours.

When you take on a a client you are almost like an AA sponsor. You have to be there. You take that responsibility seriously. Very seriously.

 

South by Southwest

Verse

I left Boston with a good intention

Now goin’ back there is a point of contention

Seemed like a good idea at the time,

 I’m all out of money, not out of rhyme.

Gotta get back to collect what’s mine

But I been restrained, might be doin’ time

Gettin’ back there’s gonna be a mess, South by Southwest

 

Now money and marriage supposed to go both ways

I’ll get it figured out one of these days

When it comes to legal matters, I gets confused

But I got a good lawyer, to reduce my blues

Then I’ll  get back to what I know best, South by Southwest

Chorus

I know I’m moving in the right direction

When the sun starts staring me down

I’ll drive all night, drive all day

Until I cruise back in to that Old Bean town

Verse

I been up north, I been back east,

But A-Z is the best

You hit Oklahoma City then you hang a hard left, South by Southwest

 

Pluggin’ The Whole

I was invited to give a talk at Salem State Teacher’s College on alcohol abuse. My curriculum vitae for the event was being a gold medalist in the Olympics of self destruction. I had thirty years of sobriety at the time and they thought I would be a safe bet.

What they were looking for, they didn’t get. My approach to life salvaging wasn’t in their course of study. They sat there in stunned silence. Faculty who never had a drug problem. 🙂

When you hit the wall, it’s time to do something else. Whether it’s booze, pills, crack, meth, sex or doughnuts, here’s your sign.

Your early warning blinker is on. You can ignore it as many do, or you can take a turn into a whole ‘nuther life. My philosophy.

Getting hooked on stuff doesn’t make you a bad person. We’re all searching for relief from something. Can I get an amen?

I meet a lot of folks who abruptly stop a nasty habit and wait. They go to meetings and pray. They ask their higher power to just get them one more day without their addiction(s).

When I have to kick something, (see above) I make a decision to fill that void with something life changing. Something positive that will change me forever.

These vices are a distraction, they keep you from becoming you. A simple understatement.

I think that if I’m going to kick something huge, something huge better slide right in there. I feel If I’m gonna be uncomfortable, it might as well get really hot in here.  It works for me.

I have reached expert status in so many things just to keep my “jones” at bay. You might have picked up a little compulsion here.

The first time I almost met my maker was in 1979. I should have hit the rubber table but it was unavailable. I had to go cold.

In my pain and misery, I vowed if I couldn’t drink, smoke, or do dope, then goddamit, I was gonna scare the crap out myself.  And the world.

Then I became enlightened.

I became a track star, dropped fifty pounds, got a GED, started sleeping on top of the bed instead of underneath, went back to church and became a nutrition expert.

After twenty years of burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, I blew my own doors off.

I entered a new world. A beautiful world.

This.. absolutley…scared… the ….shit out of my family. They intervened on me. The old Bobby they understood…. who the fuck was this?

So when I meet newly straightened out folks who have just come out of the abuse tunnel, I tell them to get leveled off by which ever means possible, then replace that negative distraction with a positive.

You should always get some gain from your pain. Open ‘er up and jam something positive in there.

Here’s your sign.

Good luck and God bless ya.

 

 

 

The Swerve

I was taught a crazy technique on an abandoned airfield in Bryan, Texas a quarter of a century ago. It was a Dupont-sponsored safety course that included an evasive driving component developed for bodyguards of the rich and famous. No lie.

We spent three nights on those runways knocking over orange barrels and popping Dramamine. We were swerving and crashing into things until the sun came up.

This was a technically valuable but arduous course. It must have cost thousands. One of the nuggets I extrapolated for personal use was “The swerve”.

When you are on the highway, traveling at a high rate of speed, and you are roaring up on an obstacle like debris, a stalled vehicle, or someone purposely slowing down to detain you, instead of hitting the brakes, you stomped on the gas quickly and swerved your way out with your hands on the wheel at 3 and 9 o:clock. Scary. Bring a change of underwear.

It took a lot of nerve not to hit those brakes. But sometimes, it just felt… good. Know what I mean?

We actually believed Dupont didn’t give a shit if we ever sold anything, as long as we didn’t jeopardize the self-insured behemoth’s bottom line in an insurance case. (I left before they implemented the “seat belts on all toilets” program.)

I’ve changed the name of the technique to “balls to the wall” because it’s an extremely unfair negotiation tactic. When I feel like I’m being taken advantage of, I step on the gas. All bets go off. It has saved my bacon.

You just have to not give a shit at some point. You can’t be frightened and pissed off at the same time. Try it. No one wants to deal with the unreasonable. Because it works.

As the old blues players used to sing, “Be careful with a fool.”

Screech!

My Blue Ocean

I have a plan.

I will freely share it because to steal my plan you need one intangible element….me.

I’ve been inching toward this concept for a few years now and I think I have come upon a model and a strategy: On-line Training for Seniors.

Training people my age who are crippled by real or imagined limitations. A big blue ocean.

If you are familiar with the blue ocean/red ocean concept, you know in the blue ocean, you create uncontested market space and capture new demand, thereby making your competition irrelevant.

There is no one else there. Yet.

In the red ocean, which is bloody from competition, they are competing in a existing market space and fighting over the same treasure. Flowing red.

A reasonable person would try to think up a new angle and move to a space that’s not so congested. Like Starbuck’s. They totally changed the game by not focusing on coffee, but the experience. Uh, that’s gotta be me.

The current state of play in the personal training red ocean is geared toward younger folks with weight problems and insecurities. Or middle agers under doctor’s orders. Neither has a long shelf life. They drift.

I want to bypass that scrimmage.

The positioning I have decided on to differentiate myself will be:

1. A unique selling proposition that will lay out what I do, how i do it, why it’s unique, and why it’s perfect for my client base.

2. A personal narrative that will explain why I care about this audience: my age, my circumstance, my failures, my weaknesses and my success in overcoming my physical shortcomings. Which are legion. And how I did it.

The me element is critical because of my age, my history of failures, belly flops and detours. I have “been there and done that” to such a degree, I’m lucky to be alive.

I have all the boo-boos covered.

What I have learned about fitness and nutrition over the years has not only saved my life but has given me new health and helped me prosper.

3. Creative content delivered by video, blog, podcast and every other source of social media available. Topics will include physical training, nutrition, flexibility and more importantly, attitude. I’ve been producing content for more than twenty years.

I am excited, I have a book in the oven and an outlet for my “uncontrollablenthusiasm.” Let’s get this party started.

See you online.

 

Perimeter Shopping: Are you eating clean?

 Tomatoes are in, ketchup is out.

Eating clean means eating on the edge. It means staying out of the center aisles at the grocery store unless you need coffee or toilet paper. Foods allowed include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nonfat dairy, and healthy fats. Which you won’t find next to the chips.

A calorie-controlled diet and regular exercise are the mainstays of any plan. Much like most successful weight loss plans, you should eat wholesome foods high in fiber, along with lean protein to reduce cravings and help satisfy hunger on fewer calories.

Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast and eating high-fiber carbs, lean protein with a little healthy fat every few hours, along with strength training can boost your metabolism and be a natural detox.

Exercise is an essential part of any program, including regular physical activity and weight training at least three days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Here’s your list. See you on the perimeter. Keep it edgy.

 

 

 

 

“She’ll See You Now”

You know your shit but you hate this process. The dumb hypotheticals. The intentional waiting. The unreasonable scrutiny. Someone’s going to judge you on their own quirky set of values. It’s visceral. How do you prepare for that?

You just have to be comfortable in your own skin and bring it….the confidence and self assurance physical conditioning gives you. Presence.

A quick flight check:

You feel alive, vibrant, clean. Your respiration’s even. You look down and see buckle instead of belly. Your palms aren’t clammy and you’re sitting up straight. Ramrod straight.

Your legs feel powerful and you feel your delts trying to push through the corners of your jacket. You’re tight, your fit, you’re ready. Key.

You’re an organized, highly efficient, fully functioning human being. On purpose.

You’ve made the most of your gender selection. It all comes down to confidence, demeanor and presentation.

When the secretary says, “She’ll see you now,” you know all of your principled conditioning and sweat equity is going to come through….today.

Sake Anyone?

Meet our sales team.

They have big ones out here in Arizona. The kamikaze sales system is alive and well. “Do you like making calls so cold you need an ice pick? Do you not take no for answer? You do know no means yes, right?

Do you love the thrill of rejection? Well, do we have a career for you. We have no customers, no leads, no overhead and no clue. All you gotta do is barge in on ’em. You just gotta know who ’em is.

If you are lucky enough to get the privilege to represent us, then all you gotta do if find the money to get yourself to Minnetonka for training. What’s not to like?” (We pay for lunch.)

Mellow-tonin

I consider myself an expert in sleep medications. Prescription, over-the-counter, under-the-counter, I have tried them all. Ever since my first AA Meeting, when they told us “No one ever died from lack of sleep.” I didn’t believe them. I’ve been chasing that “sleep jones” for more than 40 years.

Recently, I have been using melatonin. 5 milligrams, sublingually. I can barely remember my head touching the pillow and I have to pry my eyelids apart before I venture out of the bedroom in the morning. I’m heading straight to the shower these days.

I’m also noticing some rather pleasant side effects. I seem to be recuperating faster from my workouts, I’m leaning out more in my midsection and feel less muscular aches and pains.

Better sleep also means better regulation of hunger hormones (like leptin) and metabolism, which are affected by your circadian rhythm.

Another explanation may be that melatonin reduces the production and release of insulin, and has been reported in a number of studies.

This effect by melatonin may also explain why supplementing prior to training increases the use of carbohydrates for fuel during a 30-minute bout of endurance exercise.

I’m not sure why, but my coffee consumption is dwindling instead of increasing. Wish I knew more about this stuff back in the day, could have saved myself a lot of heartache…and money.

A Reminder….

Dear Robert,

Just a note to remind you that we had a meeting scheduled two years ago that you abruptly cancelled. I say, rescheduled. I was of the understanding that you wouldn’t be long in meeting your long awaited obligation to me.

I took you at your word.

Judging from your daily activities and your rigorous regimen, I’m starting to think you have no intention of meeting my needs.

It’s not wise to make me wait. I’m thinking you might be blowing me off for years, even decades.

That doesn’t make me happy, Bob.

Let me remind you of the inevitability of your situation. Pay me now or pay me later doesn’t work here. Besides, I thought we had a deal.

My advice would be to stop the nonsense and get back on the program. We’re supposed to be working from my schedule, not yours. Got it?

Yours in anticipation,

G.R.

The corner of my eye.

Sometimes when I’m working, I leave the TV on without the sound. Some of the commercials I witness are so idiotic and over the top, I shudder.

As a veteran corporate video producer and editor, I know first hand that nothing that hits the screen is an accident.

The opposite is true. Every gesture, vowel and nuance is meticulously edited in.

It is thought about, written, re-written, wrangled over, shot, re-shot and overproduced with drop-fame premeditation.

They bring in psychiatrists, psychologists and even a Freudian analyst, like Herta Herzog, who they brought in when they were shooting an early Alka-Seltzer commercial in the 1960’s.

When they started to shoot a hand dropping a single tablet into a glass of water, she said, “drop two in , you’ll sell more.” And they did. (Also see: rinse and repeat)

When a plan comes together…

The recent kerfuffle at the VA on May 10, over my lipid panel, (video) was more than histrionics on my part. Or that cranky little headache I received from skipping my morning dose of caffeine.

It was part of a plan to see if I could actually prescribe an eating plan for myself that would succeed in overturning 70 years of mixed, disappointing results. Which usually would be followed by the urging of my doctor to at least try another flavor of statin.

When the orderly told me it looked like they didn’t tick off the cholesterol box on my blood draw, I was more than disappointed. I went shithouse. They had just stuck their finger in the eye of my latest business plan.

As a personal trainer, how can I help people get their numbers down if I can’t get my own act together? The results were a critical piece of my strategy. I was misinformed about the test and as my doc said, “Your results are perfect.”

I have a serious problem with trainers who don’t know or care what they’re talking about. There’s plenty of them. It’s a money game, don’t forget. Besides, it’s dangerous.

In video production we say, plan the shoot, shoot the plan. Which is what I did with my diet. The results blew me away. I thought I was just another victim of genetics.

Pounding weights will straighten you up while it straightens you out. But the science of body re-shaping lies at the dinner table. Food is a chemical. And a drug, lest we forget.

Why go to the trouble of putting on muscle only to have it covered up with a layer(s) of fat?

What’s the point of all that hard earned muscle if no one can see it? Unless your a linebacker.

Losing body fat has more healthful benefits than can be discussed here. We have information overload already.

After seeing the results of my pragmatic approach to diet and exercise, I’m starting to think I just might know what I’m talking about. God help us all. 🙂

 

Physician, heal thyself.

Now that everyone knows I’m a weenie when it comes to fasting, I can sit back and analyze the data from my recent (dramatic) blood draw. All my life I’ve had trouble with low HDL and (very) high triglycrides, then flipping those numbers in clumsy attempts to right the situation. With disastrous results, I might add. Statins led to head pain which led to pain killers, which led to…, well, that’s another story.

A few years ago, my doc didn’t want me to leave the building. This time, at 72, I knocked it out of the park. This time, I used the knowledge I gained as a personal trainer and a nutrition certification to save my own bacon. Bacon’s probably not a good analogy.

This time, my efforts were deliberate and intentional. I now know, first hand, what works and what doesn’t. I’ve witnessed the changes in my body, my energy levels and more importantly, my confidence. Which are all inextricably tied, in my opinion.  My thinking was, as a personal trainer, if I’m going to fix someone, I should know how to fix myself.

I am on a grand total of zero medications. No heart, no blood pressure, no Flomax, and more importantly, no sleep medications. My pharmacist wants to know if it’s something he said.  🙂

On August 18, 2016, a Sunday, I surrendered my bloated, defeated, addicted carcass to the VA in Bedford Ma, to see if there was anything left to salvage. Seems there was. As my mother used to say, ” A pat on the back is a good thing, as long as it’s low enough and hard enough.” As usual, Nora was right…..

Willing

It occurred to me this morning in the darkness of the 2:00 am desert, that I will succeed. Period. In whatever direction I point, I will get there because I’m willing. I am willing to immerse myself with no thoughts of the outcome.

I am one of those fortunate few who enjoys process. The grind. The training, the long hours at the gym, learning new technologies, musical passages, recipes, prose, art. I like the effort, the journey, not the destination. Always have.

I like going into seclusion and woodshedding on whatever my passion is at the moment. With no thoughts of the morrow.

My outlook has caused me no end of conflict, because once I set my sights, my elevation and my windage, it’s on, for better or worse. I am immersed beyond comprehension.

So as I was plodding along this morning in the thankless dark, I wasn’t thinking about a 32 inch waist, (which I will achieve), or a rippling six pack at the age of 72, (ditto), it’s because I love the goddam pain of it all. It’s a price I am eager to pay.

I overcome the weenie inside me every day and I embrace the ritual. Because I am always grateful for the opportunity to struggle and I am….wiling.

What do you want? Blood?

Nothing makes me crankier than a fasting blood draw. I sweat it for weeks beforehand because it upsets my rhythm. My life is clock-work methodical. To the minute. Today is the first day I didn’t run in six months and my body is in shock. I have a nasty headache and was really feeling disoriented after 12 hours of nada. I was actually so irritated I didn’t even worry about what disease they might find. That’s different.

At 7:26 I pull into the VA parking lot and there they are, the wreckage from the past: walkers, oxygen, canes, bellies and campaign hats. Anxiety. I sit in my car taking it all in as the line grows and grows along with my caffeine deprived nerves. We’re told to take a number and my headache comes back. Coffee, please. I start looking around the packed waiting room and try to imagine what these guys looked like when they were back in the war. Omitting myself, of course.

They take five of us in the lab at a time and start sucking the blood out. They are extremely efficient. But it slows to a t-r-i-c-k-l-e…. when we are asked for a urine sample. After my last blood pull, I am wrapped up and told I am all set. It’s about time I’m thinking. As my caffeine “jones” rears its ugly head again I say, never again. I got lost twice trying to negotiate myself out those winding, Trump-lined corridors. Coffee, please.

One last sweep through the standing room only waiting room and I am once again brought to my injured, deprived, and outraged senses. I wonder what kind of shampoo I’ll need to wash that sight out of my brain. Back home, as I’m over filling my coffee into a 5 gallon cup, I am searching for a new yellow stickie to paste on my bathroom mirror.

O’Hearn: Shut the fuck up!

Jethro Rides Again

 She always called me Jethro. (I have no idea why)

If you listen to me, life should be a shit show. That’s if you’re doing it right. I have blown myself up so many times and in so many different ways, I can’t believe I’m still thumpin’.

I remember sitting in that tiny apartment in Ayer, Ma, after slipping on one of my many cosmic banana peels. Things couldn’t get much worse. I lost everything, felt betrayed, and was a physical wreck with no future. 70 with a fork in me.

I was shaking off the effects of massive doses of Seroquel and horse tranquilizer to keep me from stroking out at the VA. I kept falling over and blacking out. Alcohol and Xanax was doing me in. Could things get much worse? Oh yeah. Someone gave the IRS my phone number.

I was sitting on that dilapidated couch in that dilapidated dump, frozen. If you tapped me at that point, I would have dusted. It was out of body. Then some rock star died. Rich. Had everything. Whoa! Right in my puss.

I’m thinking…. death. The final solution. What a relief that must be. Over. I don’t pretend to have an inkling what happens after this. As long as this stops.

I remember how relieved I felt with that realization. Everything just got relaxed. My respiration returned to normal. All misery has to end at some point. It did. That day.

So now it’s back to work disrupting the planet, being totally ridiculous and unreasonable. For the record: I am not chastised. I am not taking this life serious. Ever.

The clock is ticking and there’s no time to dawdle, I have a shit show to produce. Don’t I? Don’t we?

My mother would have loved all this.