One Badass Workout

I promised to keep you, my two loyal readers (Mom got bored), up to date on my progress with my new bulking/shredding program called BodyBeast which is designed to get me huge and ripped.  Previously I would have thought those were two things I wanted to avoid.

Last week I finished week 1.  True, I had spent the two previous weeks messing around with it.  It usually takes me a week or two to get things like a new diet under control (especially when that diet has me jump from about 1700 calories a day to 3400).  I had done some of the workouts using limited equipment I borrowed from a friend and a stability ball I picked up at Walmart.

Last week, though, I was set and committed.  It’s either going to happen or it’s not.  What motivated me was the knowledge that if I had been so committed in the first two weeks I’d be approaching the end of the first phase right now.  OK, just get it done.

img_8688

That’s what I’m talking about!  A nice looking set of dubmbbells and plates right there.

On Friday I went to the trainer’s house.  Yes, the point of this workout is that you don’t need a trainer and you do it all at home.  But, I like the guy.  He’s given me great advice and stuck by me while I wallowed in the many failures I’ve endured trying to get into his shape.  Most of the time, he hasn’t even laughed too hard at me.  He and I ran through a 45 minute workout on the pavement of the driveway behind his house.  We each had sufficient weights, each had a stability ball.  He has an awesome pull-up bar rigged up over his 8 foot fence and that came in handy.  At the end of the routine I was pleased to discover that he judged my form to be great and he was impressed at my ability to complete a pretty tough workout.  Did he have a drop of sweat on him?  What do you think?  Nonetheless, I felt confident that I was doing something good.  If this guy, who is a training god, came very near to expressing pride in his wannabe-protege, then I can’t be too off.

img_8689

A closer look.  These range from 10’s on the left to 40’s on the right with a set of interchanging weights in the middle and some plates for the bar.

Today, it was back to chest and tri’s.  This time, though, I’ve expanded my arsenal.  From yet another friend I managed to borrow even heavier weights.  For many movements lighter weights aren’t a bad thing.  I’m thinking of shoulders.  At the end of a workout, you try lifting more than 15-pounders in a military press over your head.  It’s hard!  But for chest workouts, I can definitely go higher than the 20’s I had maxed out with.

A note on all these friends who have weights to spare…  It seems a universal truth to me that in America when a young man enters his 20’s and has a trifle bit of spare change he invests it in weights.  He uses the weights religiously for a short while, then trails off.  Evermore the weights remain in his possession until his wife, who long ago gave up caring what he looked like naked, puts them on eBay for extra Christmas money.  Either that or he repurposes them into a coffee table in his pseudo man-cave.

Anyway, I’m definitely feeling this.  It’s going great and I feel great too.  I also was one of those who had weights once.  My excuse was the two spinal fusion surgeries I had so I’m going to stick with that.  It’s been years since I lifted anything and it’s taking some time to get back into it but I feel it coming back to me.  Drop a prayer now and then, if you would, that I don’t injure myself and that I complete these twelve weeks so I can be “beastly”.

Image

Dental Sprite Skeptic

img_8684

This girl’s going to be the death of me.  I haven’t pondered what “drastic measures” means but I’ll get there.

Strange Dream of the Century

I would hazard a guess that about half of my readers are not quite familiar with my attitude regarding titles for various blog posts.  So, for the both of you (I round up), here it is in a nutshell.  I firmly believe that a good title will write a good post.  That being said, there’s no accounting for many of my posts…

buick

As you can see, it’s a stock pic.  Dad’s, though, was pretty much the same.

Yesterday morning the most bizarre thing happened.  It was Sunday and the four of us all woke up in plenty of time for the 8AM mass in our parish.  This is unusual only because we typically rush to the 10AM and if we’re really tired (and feel like punishing ourselves) it’s the noon mass.  If we have to go to the 5:30PM mass on a Sunday we see it as penance for the sin of laziness for that is the mass with the “teen choir”.  Enough said.

My wife thought this was going to be a great day because we now suddenly found ourselves at home, having already been to mass, at 9:15 with a whole day open wide in front of us.  The only flaw in this thinking is that some of us were so tired from having been up so early that he (I) drifted off toward a nap.  And a most pleasant nap it was too.  Until…

I Had A Dream

No one really knows how these things work except God so I won’t attempt to explain it.  At some point during my less-than-an-hour nap I found myself sitting in the drivers seat of a car that was parked at a curb in a familiar-looking location.  I recognized the car right away.  It was the last Buick my dad had owned.  He liked Buicks.  This was a dark blue 1994 four-door Century and I found it strange that the car looked so much better than the last time I saw it sometime around 2008.  It almost appeared to have come right off the assembly line, it was that pristine.

I looked out the window and saw my passenger coming across the street.  Somehow I knew I would be driving someone.  It was my father.  I was fairly surprised considering he’s been dead for over a month.  But I didn’t let that bother me too much.  In fact I either thought the following or said it outright in my dream: “This will be fun!”  He was dressed sort of how I remember him with a black woolen overcoat over his suit, a tweed fedora, and carrying a folded newspaper.

He got into the backseat of the car on the drivers side and Started unfolding the paper.  None of this was strange to me.  He owned the fedora I was seeing.  He did the folding thing with his paper in such a way that I could copy it move for move, it was that routine.  The only things that were a little off were the overcoat (I don’t remember him ever owning a black wool variety) and the fact that I was driving him.  He had let me drive him places but not normally in his car.  If we took his car anywhere, he’d drive.  The other thing that surprised me was how healthy he looked.  He wasn’t any younger than his 80 years at the time of his death.  He was just not “old” looking.  I took note of the fact that he was not rail thin.  He looked much like I remember him from around the time he retired.

Turning to my passenger I said “So, how are things?” to which he replied “Good,” while glancing at his paper looking for the crossword.  It was at this point that – even in my dream – I knew I was dreaming.  I figured I’d have a little fun with the old man.

“So,” I asked him rather coyly, “Where’ve been you hanging out these days?”

My father didn’t even look up from the paper.

“You know that,” he replied.  There was a hint not of pride in his answer but rather of matter-of-factness as if to say “you know where I am because you have faith.”

“I know, Dad.”  And I couldn’t resist needling him once more.  I mean how often do you get to spend time with your dead father just the two of you?  I had one more question.  I asked it with full knowledge that he had received an Apostolic Pardon.  Click the link if you don’t know.

“Did you go right in?”

Almost getting a little bothered at this line of questions, again for the seeming lack of faith, he said “Of course!”

Again I added, “Yeah, I know…” before struggling to find the next thing I’d want to ask him knowing I could wake up at any moment.

“How’ve you been?”

That seemed like a stupid thing to ask and a question I had already asked at least three times in different words.

“Well,” he said, “your mother is upset with me…”  And here’s where it just got plain weird.  “Because I never thanked her for a pair of pants she bought me a few months ago.”  “Well, Dad,” I said, “Why didn’t you thank her?”  His reply was classic.  “Well I meant to, I just didn’t get around to it.”

They say all good things must come to an end.  At that moment my phone – the one in my the hand attached to my very real unconscious body lying on the couch – rang.  I knew it was over.  I opened my eyes and looked at the screen.  It was my mom calling.

I shared this story with her.  She laughed.  “I’m very happy to hear that,” she told me.  It turns out that she had bought him some new clothes a few months ago.  My father was very particular about the clothes he wore.  “I never thought anything of it,” she said, “but I was a little annoyed that he didn’t even try them on.”  You see, at that point in his decline bouts of confusion had begun to set in.  He would sometimes get dressed in ways we were not used to (for a man known far and wide for his natty appearance).  These pants, it turns out, were made by a company that had started to save costs on production by, of all things, shortening the zipper.  For Dad, this simply would not do.  Also, he couldn’t distinguish whether they were navy or very dark gray and it was hard to match them to his shirt.  For the record, they are black.  I know because they hang in my closet and I’ve worn them several times.  And the shorter zipper is a bitch.

Dad, I don’t know why you chose to speak to me or to use me to get that message to Mom; but I’m sure glad you did.  Do it again!  I’d love to chat some more.  Maybe next time I’ll actually get to take you for a spin in that old Century.  Until then, as always, I love you.

One Month into Eternity

A month ago today my dad departed this world and went home.

There used to be a tradition (when those things mattered) of celebrating a month of masses or offering other prayers for the repose of the dead.  On the last day a mass was celebrated in thanksgiving.  This was called the “Month’s Mind Mass”.

I don’t know if Dad was too familiar with the custom as I think it died out long ago.  But I think it’s a nice gesture still.

img_0643

Exactly how I remember him.  He loved crosswords; but he’s missing his pipe in this picture.

I still think it’s so awe-inspiring that God made us to ultimately be with Him in a place where there is no time such that we can sort of grasp it yet never fathom what it means.

Think about that.  He’s now been in eternity for a month.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it?

No matter, though, I wanted to take a moment once again to thank all the many people who showed their love and offered their consolation over the past few weeks.  You know who you are.  Dad would have appreciated that you took the time to come to his wake, send flowers, or simply reach out in sympathy.

I appreciate that I had Dad for 39 years which is far more than some people get with their fathers.  And I ask everyone to continue to pray for his family.

Love you, Dad.

Spring Cleaning

The astute reader (that’s about half of you, so one) will note that some of the blocks where pictures should appear in my posts are suddenly showing broken links and captions instead.  It’s parent-teacher conference night at work and I have almost none scheduled.  That means I finally had the time to go through my media files on WordPress and start deleting old pictures in order to make way for newer pictures.  Realizing that I have the originals to just about all of the pics that have shown in my posts either on my hard drive or on Google, I started way back at the beginning (that’s July of 2010) and bulk deleted all the way up through July of 2012.  That saved moved the needle from 3GB of media storage space (which had been all taken up) down to 2.2 GB.  Eventually I will purchase a WordPress premium account and be able to upload tons of pics and video too!  But I’m not there yet.  I blog so erratically  these days that I can’t justify the cost.  Until then, sorry for the broken picture links.  I had been simply reusing old blog pics, some of which date to that time frame.  Remove the picture from the site and it disappears from every post you’ve placed it in.  Just use your imagination.

A Memory of Dad

This afternoon I was having a moment of great fun with my students.  Some of you aren’t shocked.  One of the reasons I know teaching is in some way my vocation is by how easy it is for me.  I mean that as in it never seems like work.  I love my kids and every day brings truly great joy and really fun times.

In this particular class I was talking with the kids, going around the room.  The lesson was on coming to understand the conscience as the seat of judgment.  I mentioned my Dad as having among the best judgment of anyone I’ve known.  This is significant because I had just told them that the grace of God made present in the sacraments enhances our ability to judge effectively.  “Dad went to mass every day, kids,” I said.  [I’ve got to get back to that.]

Something strange happened.  While I was talking about him I began to feel like he was in the classroom with us.  That’s not too unusual for me.  I’ve always believed in the strong presence of those we’ve lost still in our lives.  But I began to wonder a few things.  He never saw me teach.  Actually very few of my friends have.  It’s a shame, really.  I’m pretty freakin’ awesome at it.  But it’s strange for me because I remember how he taught.  He was not a teacher.  In fact, he didn’t suffer most teachers well.  The man was a genius though he lacked the patience to express what he knew to those of us who were not on his level.  I still fear numbers because of how he corrected my math homework as a kid.  “What the hell did you write all those extra numbers on the page for?” he’d ask.  “Well, um, Daddy, Sister said that’s how you carried the, um, extra num” — “Can’t do it in your head?!”  In truth it was funny and I certainly learned a few things like how to frustrate him when I wanted a laugh.  Sitting at the piano one day I asked if he wanted me to teach him how to play.  The conversation ended with “What’s the matter, can’t play both hands together?!”  Of course I said it in a much more innocent tone than you’re imagining.

But Dad always admired those who could do things well, especially if he could not.  He was never envious, just impressed with good work and, especially, with good performances.  Don’t you know I taught one of my best classes ever this afternoon.  I wanted him to see how good I was and wondered if he’d be impressed.

I mentioned a “memory” in the title and almost forgot to write about it.  Driving home from work, still thinking about Dad, my mind wandered to an incident from years ago.  I was 23 years-old, laid up with a bad back and the accompanying paralyzing sciatica.  I spent weeks on the couch in Mom and Dad’s living room, awake all night and asleep all day thanks to the painkillers I was taking.  Some days, I’d be awake for a few hours in the early afternoon, though, and these were the worst times because everyone was out and I had no company.  I had dozed off one day, kind of depressed about a lot of things.  When I opened my eyes I saw my father sitting on the couch next to the chair I was on.  He never sat in that room for anything.  He had noticed me sleeping and had decided I needed him nearby.  He had even gotten us each a dish of ice cream.  He must have known that would wake me up.  You see, he was also looking for company.  There was a game show on the History Channel and he had no one to watch it with – or at least no one who would give him a challenge.  I felt better for a while.  We sat together and shouted out answers about WWII at the screen.  I think I even “won”.  Who can’t carry the one now, old man?!

I don’t know why that memory has always stuck with me.  But I’m glad it has and I’m very glad I thought of it today and I wanted to share it because maybe it will make you glad as well.

A (Long) Short Story for the Trainer

If you’ve read even a tenth of the thousands of posts I’ve made over the past few years then you know of my obsession with getting swole as the kids say.  Tonight I’d like to write a short piece in tribute to a friend who usually reads this blog (though he never comments).  I’ve mentioned him before, needled him with my words, had fun at his expense.  Most of the time I think he’s gotten a kick out of it.  Sometimes I think I pissed him off.  Always, though, I’ve been grateful for his help.

My friend’s name is Joseph.  We work together, teaching different levels of the same subject to high school students.  When I first met him almost four years ago the thing I noticed was that the guy is pretty much in shape – the kind of shape all men want to be in.  Many achieve that shape in their teens and lose it.  Some gain that shape later in life as a result of a mid-life crisis.  I always wondered about how to get that shape but never seemed to have the right tools, knowledge, or plan.  Stifling my raging jealousy I asked if he would train me (having found out he actually had done that sort of thing).

And then I spent two and a half years not taking his advice all the while wondering why I still looked like a creature from a 1950’s horror movie and he, well, he looked great.

Ultimately I discovered a program called Insanity.  I mentioned to him that I wanted to give it a shot.  To my surprise he praised the program highly and said to go for it.  He did warn me that it would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done.

I shrank back a bit nervous but undeterred.  I tried to keep all of his maxims in mind.  The biggest phrase he repeats again and again is that it takes time.  You know what I did?  I adopted the attitude that I would probably finish the 60 day program and still look like shit but that I would promise myself to be satisfied just for finishing something that hard.

What’s funny is that this guy actually offered unsolicited compliments along the way, commenting on how noticeable the change in my appearance was.  This was funny to me as I couldn’t really see it.  Oh, I convinced myself I could see dream results but I wanted to believe that this was in my mind lest I find myself getting let down again.  I also knew not to ever compare myself to him.  He’s worked out a long time and it shows.  To mirror his results I’d have to do this until I’m 60.

mustang parc gym

I ran out of media room on WordPress so I’m using whatever files I have.  It’s a gym.

Anyway, I finished Insanity, took a tiny break of about two weeks for my dad’s funeral, and started my current program – BodyBeast.  This one is designed to bulk me up.  I still have mixed feelings about my progress.  And I have mixed feelings, too, about whether I will ever achieve the look I’m after.  What’s interesting though is that the trainer enthusiastically invited me to work out with him this week.  He wants to see the workouts, offer his advice, and, I suppose, his encouragement.  I’ll admit I’m a little nervous.  It must be kind of cool for him getting to watch someone who is where he was 20 years ago.  It’s not so hot for me knowing I’ve got 20 years to go but from him I’ve learned not to focus on that.  My true fear is that my performance – either the ultimate results or just in the gym here and now – will be disappointing to him.  I did a back and biceps workout tonight, lifting weights for about an hour, following the program.  I feel pretty good.  I don’t know how I’ll feel in a few days standing in this guy’s house watching him run circles around me with heavier weights, more reps, and a blood-thirsty look in his eyes.  Have I mentioned that he turns psychotic when he works out?  But if I keep his own words in mind I should be fine.  It’s all about fixing my form, doing what I can, doing something at all, and waiting 20 years.  He said to me once: “Don’t look at a scale, don’t take measurements…  Do your pants fit better than they did a month ago?  Then you’re doing fine.”  Well, my pants certainly do fit better these days.  And for that, I am grateful.  And I offer my thanks for the help and a prayer that he doesn’t demolish what’s left of my morale.

I’m going to be the badass-est 60 year-old on the beach.