Personal Best

In the utterly mundane and shallow, I hit a new personal best at the gym the other day!  I’ve come close a few times in the past but now I’ve officially hit 200lbs using dumbbells on the flat bench. And for some that is probably no big deal, for me it is. When I started weight lifting I could barely bench a 45lb barbell by itself.1  To have come this far is very rewarding.

I was actually giddy picking up the 100lb dumbbells for the first time. Hahaha  You always see those weights at the end of the rack but being able to actually lift them is completely different! I was grinning ear to ear I was so excited. I know it was silly but I couldn’t help myself. I’m sure I looked like a proud peacock at the time.

I’ve been focused this last year on totally revamping my workouts and focusing on pushing my muscles to exhaustion vs doing a set routine. I’m definitely doing much better than years past. I’ve actually noticed the growth in my arms visually, which is hard to do when you see yourself every day in the mirror. I’ve let go of the idea of how much weight I’m doing and focusing purely on consistency and timed reps. I’ve been working out 4-6 days a week and I’m proud to see some good results.

I’m very happy with where I am, especially since I’m working around an old shoulder injury and two metal plates in my collarbones. And speaking of injuries, my arm tendons have all but healed up. Sadly, one of my triceps’ ligaments is sore in its place. UGH!  It is hell getting old.  I had to cut my arm workout short yesterday. The ligament has been a little sore the last couple weeks. I’ve been stretching it to minimize the soreness; however, I could tell yesterday it was on the verge of a real injury so I stopped.  Sadly, my abs are still covered in a layer of fat. I blame those damn girl scouts! They setup every corner in the gayto and they make a killing! Devils in skirts I tell ya!

In other news, we are headed to Hawaii next week to see my buddy Rick! I probably won’t see the inside of a gym the whole time I’m there. I haven’t been to Hawaii since I was like 18 so I barely remember it. We’re hitting the big island where Kona is. That is where my buddy lives. He was kind enough to offer us a free place to stay so we are saving a shit-ton of money on travel expenses. I can’t take Cooper but he’ll be in good hands with my neighbor Chuck.




  1. I was soooo scrawny as a young man []

Still Bulking

Well, I never switched to my cardio routine. hehehe  I’m still working on bulking. I just like the momentum I have right now and hate to waste it. I’m doing a routine of mixed regular and drop sets. It isn’t as intense as my last bulking routine but I’m liking it. I’m hititng the gym at least 5 days a week with a 3-4 rest period days every 2 weeks. The rest period lets my body recover. Without ‘assistance’, over-training can retard muscle growth. 

I have tendonitis in my left forearm right now. Which is odd because I used to always get it in my right forearm. Go figure?!  Being on this type of routine is definitely helping me recover. The forearm band helps alleviate stress. I ice/heat it as well.

I have been doing my legs too! I’m not neglecting them for once. hehehe  I’ve been so guilty of neglecting my legs for years. While they aren’t boney, I can still see the difference in my pics now. I baked my legs so hard the other day I could barely walk home afterwards. Lawd baby jeebus, it was rough. I’m kinda getting into my leg workouts though. Large muscle groups often ‘feel’ easier to workout. 

My schedule is still my damn enemy. Being on a 10-hour work schedule is a real pain. I have to be dedicated every day otherwise I miss my window of opportunity. The up-side is my schedule is such that I find it easier to stay on track. I get home with just enough time to get Cooper settled from his mid-day walk and then hit the gym right before the 5:00 rush. I’m usually 2/3s of the way thru my workout before the big crowd hits.

I find myself less tolerant of folks that selfishly spend tons of time on a bench while not using it. I always start out polite to get their attention and alert them someone is waiting. If that doesn’t work, I have no problem calling you out for your selfish behavior. In no routine should it take you 20 mins to get thru a single bench set. NONE! Do us all a favor and be courteous to your fellow gym-goers. You aren’t there alone and it isn’t yours. Share like yo momma taught you. 

Funny tangent, people often act surprised when I offer to share or let them work in. Sure it might throw off my timer a little bit but that shouldn’t trump manners. There are some exceptions but you should be willing to share if you workout in a public gym. You might learn something or you might be able to impart knowledge to someone who needs it. 

Anyhoo, I’m sure I’ll get to my cardio routine eventually. heehee  I’m justliking the pump I’m getting these days!

Bulk

Now that I’ve been back in the gym pretty consistently for months now, my dedication is slowly paying off. I’ve put on some more muscle. Nothing extraordinary as I’m doing it the natural route, but every little bit counts, right? I’m currently 215lbs, which is the heaviest I’ve ever been (I think. I’m having a total brain fart right now Lol)  Unfortunately, at least 15lbs of that is fat I wanna get rid of, but I’d still be at 200 so I’m happy. I’ve mentioned before my ultimate goal is to hit 230 with around 210 being muscle. 
I originally focused on trying to trim back down after my hiatus and shoulder/back injuries. I had the grand idea of developing some baby abs.  Needless to say, I quickly discarded that notion for bulk. I can see little changes but since I see myself every day, it is harder to notice the difference. At least others are noticing, which is a good sign. Vain much? Lol  And while my abs are still covered under a layer of fat, I’m happy with where I am. I’ve got a couple more months to this routine and then I’m hitting a trim-down plan. 

Cutting back on the extra sugar in my diet always seems to help a lot. I found out a few months ago I’m one of those people genetically predisposed to diabetes.1  Not the best news, but since I work out and take care of myself it isn’t a problem yet. However, it does mean I don’t have the luxury of poor eating habits, especially as I age. It is quite frustrating as I don’t eat awful at all. And, I’m also approaching the age where such things become more important. My blood pressure is only slightly higher than normal for a person my age.  Unfortunately, it means I have to work harder on my diet. My weakness isn’t eating fast food as much as just eating out. And my schedule is always the enemy. Hehe  If I don’t get meal preps done during the weekend, I end up screwed for the whole week. There just isn’t enough time after a 10-hour work day and then the gym to do meal prep. 

Anyway, I’m slowly working myself into better eating habits. It is of course a never ending struggle but hope springs eternal… 




  1. Since I was adopted, I know very little of my medical history []

Okra

In completely random events, I discovered a new recipe for cooking fried okra. With rare exceptions, I try to avoid fried foods on a regular basis. I go thru my phases where I crave fried chicken, but not on a regular basis. This leads me into my ingredient shortage and discovery.

I picked up some okra at the farmer’s market. I had originally planned on boiling it but I got the craving for fried okra. I grew up in the south and the only way to make fried okra is with cornmeal. Guess who didn’t have any cornmeal? You guessed it, me. It’s Sunday night and I’m at the end of my meal prep. It’s only 2 hours to bedtime and I know if I don’t cook this okra it will go to waste. I’m debating on whether to run down to Mollie Stone’s1 to pick up the cornmeal. It whining to myself about not going and hits me. What if I try the pretzel flavor shake & bake mix that’s been sitting in the cabinet? I bought it on a whim and had almost forgotten about it. The moment I think of it I’m sold on trying it. Worst case scenario, it’s awful and I throw it out.

It turned out to be an unholy concoction of deliciousness. OMG, it was so damn good. Just the right mix of salty flavor to go with the okra. I popped it out of the oven and I’d eaten almost half of it before it had time to cool off! I think I have a new way of making fried okra.2  I think next time I’ll throw in a few extra seasonings to give it more kick, but it was really good.

Ok, you’re just dying to know how I did it now, right? If you are familiar with okra, you know it gets slimy the moment you cut it. Cut it up and wash it off good. Don’t let it dry completely but definitely let it dry. The pretzel mix is thicker than the regular version and it will clump up if you get too much moisture into the bag. You also need to use both servings of the mix that come in the box. Trust me, you’ll need it. Mix the chopped okra into the bag with the mix and of course, shake it up. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and put it on an ungreased (or covered in foil) cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Slightly longer if you like it extra crispy. The only draw bike is the mixture will pop off and separate from the okra if you bounce it around too much. I might try a light egg batter next time, but I’m worried it might over do it. Either way, if you like okra you have to try it!

Oh and the okra never made it into my meal prep. I ate it all.




  1. Local neighborhood grocery store []
  2. Ok, it’s technically baked []

Meat

​It shouldn’t come as a surprise I’m a 

Chicken artichoke pasta with spinach and cabbage

meat and potatoes sorta fella. I grew up on a farm and while we grew tons of vegetables, meat was always our primary meal item.  I’ve tried to cut back on my meats and increase the veggies but I always seem to backslide. The struggle is real y’all.

I do a lot of meal preps for my work week. If I don’t, I end up eating out a lot. I still try to eat healthy when I do, but it still ends up being very rich. My fat ass is never gonna have abs if I keep that up. Aaaaaaaaanyway, I’ve been trying to take advantage of the local farmer’s market. The one close to me is on Wednesdays and I do meal prep on Sundays. You see the conflict. I dug the food vacuum sealer out of storage and it’s helping a lot. I just vacuum the veggies and throw’em in the fridge till Sunday rolls around. It’s been helping a lot. 

The pic is one of my quick meals. I say quick because I didn’t make it all from scratch. The pasta is a spinach basil. The artichokes came in a jar.1  The spinach, tomatoes, and cabbage came from the Farmer’s market last week. What you don’t see is a small drizzle of olive oil over the entire dish along with the pesto sauce you do see. The chicken is a roasted chicken with all the skin peeled off. And here’s a little secret. If you don’t like your veggies overcooked, just throw them in raw and when you heat the dish for at least 2 minutes in a sealed container it steams the veggies for you. I love the natural taste of most foods and being a super taster2 this works exceedingly well for me. Veggies that need more cooking time like brussel sprouts are easy to cook in advance, just cook’em about half way instead. That way when you do heat up the dish, they don’t get over cooked. As for flavoring, I’m mostly just use salt & pepper. Depending on the dish, I also like the Flavor God line of spices that are specifically designed for adding to food after you cooked it.  I’m not a big fan of super heavy sauces and add on mixtures that often add up to a lot of extra fat so it isn’t hard to avoid the heavier items. 

This week’s menu is what you see above, the lovely chicken artichoke basil pasta with spinach and cabbage. I also made some turkey meatballs w/potatoes and more cabbage. Needless to say, I’ll be giving Cooper a run for his money this week. I also added some roast chicken and leftover bean chili I had in the freezer. Of course, it helped my ego just a smidge this morning when two of my coworkers commented my arms look bigger. Food is half the battle for weight gain so maybe it’s working! 

I’m not perfect by any means but I find if I provide myself opportunity to eat healthy, I will. I’ll never be ripped as I just don’t have the discipline for it. But, if I keep eating better I won’t need to do so much damn cardio, which I loathe! 




  1. It’s hard to find them just grilled in oil vs pickled []
  2. That’s just a fancy way of saying I have more taste buds per sq inch on my tongue than the average person []

Ride

While clearing the backlog of emails from the blog, I got asked if I still ride my motorcycle. The answer is yes. I ride it pretty much every week back and forth to work. I haven’t been doing many long rides due to my continuing diplopia and I "still" haven’t fixed the cracked fin on the left side.1

You’ll remember I had the two eye surgeries to fix some ongoing issues over a year ago. All the structural issues were fixed and doing well. However, the right eye muscles never adjusted back to normal. The eye had adjusted for so long the muscles are now out of alignment. Luckily, it only affects my vision at up-right and direct-up angles. However, these are the very angles used while riding a sport bike. hehehe I see well enough I can drive day to day commutes and short rides just fine. However, I’m not sure how well I’d do on longer rides. I do exercises to try and bring the eyes in line but if I do to many or I strain against the double vision too much the eyes actually get fatigued and the diplopia increases until I let my eyes rest. I’m planning to go back this year for the extra (and hopefully last) surgery.

This last surgery should be interesting. Basically, they numb you up but you are still awake. They go in, snip the muscle loose from the base, and put a suture on it. They adjust the suture as you describe improvements to your vision. When it reaches normal (or almost normal) vision, they tie it off and let it heal. Bam! The caveat is if the adjustment is too severe I may not go back to a full 100%. That is ok with me. I just need a modular improvement. The latter being why I put it off this long. I was hoping over time my eyes would adjust on their own. Sadly, they haven’t.

So to answer your question (Tony), yes I still ride just not as often. I do kinda miss it. Especially on sunny warm days.




  1. It isn’t that expensive but I just have other priorities []

Recovered

I’ve finally recovered enough to hit a solid

image
Slowly killing the dadbod

schedule in the gym again! Lawd baby jeebus I am so happy. haha

You’ll remember back around the new year I sprained my back. Well, I also had some minor rotator cuff issues going on at the time. I didn’t think much of it; however, I somehow managed to make it worse. I honestly do not remember doing anything that aggravated it but it got a lot worse. It was serious enough I had to stop working out heavy completely. I spent a couple months maintaining and just doing light weights with exercises that helped stretch the area w/o over-working it. Lo and behold, I appear to have recovered completely. I’ve slowly been working back up to heavy weights in the gym with no complications. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. That "tight" feeling is returning to my muscles.

I’m not overweight by any means but I’m not happy with where I am. That doesn’t stop me from "feeling" fat. Having been back in the gym for 3 weeks in a row now has been very invigorating. I’ve missed it. I’ll never be a meathead but I like feeling strong and fit. Complacency is the devil and greasy food are his minions. heehee I can already see changes in my belly fat even though I’ve put on weight. As of yesterday I’m 211 lbs. Granted a chunk of that is fat but my goal was always 230.1 I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach that goal, but it doesn’t mean I’ll give up.

Hope springs eternal….




  1. 210 muscle and 20 fat []

Spasms

The down side to my recent vacation was a major back spasm midway through it. The day before NYE to be exact. I’m not sure what caused it but boy was it a doozy. We were right in the middle of a nice lunch with Shawn’s sister and her new bf. I started to bend over to untangle Cooper and before I got even halfway it hit me. I stood back up hoping it was just quick and gone but no. The muscles were completely fucked and painful. We had to cut it short and I could barely get in the damn car, much less drive. I spent the rest of the day laying on an air mattress back at the condo avoiding movement. I hoped and prayed with rest, ice, and staying off of it would make it go away quickly. In a word, no.

So yours truly spent NYE laying on a mattress watching The Last Holiday on my tablet. Glorious huh? haha Honestly, I wasn’t upset about missing the holiday. I’m usually stuck at work and being anywhere but at work during that nightmare is a blessing. Seriously, even the spasm was better than working NYE.

Thankfully, one of Shawn’s friends kindly gave us a few vicodin to help with the pain. While not the best choice, muscle relaxers would have been better, it helped take the bite out of the worst pain. It wasn’t the best choice but sure as hell helped and I was grateful to his friend.  I managed to get to a local Chiro doc the next day for an adjustment. It helped but the muscles were inflamed and I just had to wait it out and stay off my feet as much as possible. By the time we drove back to LA, I was able to get up and move around. I let Shawn drive and honestly, it was nice to be a passenger for a change. hehehe

By day three, I could move better but was still in pain. I could drive at a least. I made it home in one piece. I was so angry at myself. Granted, I couldn’t really have done anything to prevent it but logic didn’t really matter. I hate not being able to function. It just aggregated the hell out of me. By the time vacation was over, I was able to get up and down w/o much pain.

Sleeping at night was a mess as I don’t sleep on my back and that was the best position to avoid more pain. Luckily, I had a few vicodin left. And cold meds work great too! Unfortunately for poor Shawn I snore when I sleep on my back. He had to put up with me snoring for about a week. He’d randomly wake me up sometimes when it got back. Poor thing.

It was an additional week before I felt almost normal again. I kept babying it to avoid a relapse. The last time I went thru this a few years ago I had a 2nd spasm right when I was starting to get better. I definitely didn’t want that again. This one seemed to take longer than last time though. Not sure if it was just worse or I’m just getting older. hehehe Either way, not fun.

Chef

I’ve been trying harder to stay on top of my eating habits as of late. It doesn’t help when you have nifty food delivery services that offer hot, healthy delivery in 20 mins or less.1 While mostly healthy, the cost of said services add up quickly. And considering I really want to try and buy a home this next year, it’s time to cut back on overly frivolous expenses.

My work building has a full kitchen and I’ve started taking advantage of it to do a lot of my meals. I get an hour for lunch so usually spend my Monday/Friday doing meal prep for the week. I’ll either drop off groceries or order in using Instacart and then I’m set. I try to eat healthy and tend to enjoy the natural flavor of most foods so most of my food is fresh. I also don’t try to make elaborate meals. I keep it simple.

The kitchen area is an open space and has lots of room. It comes with 3 fridges, a full oven/stove, 4 microwaves, 2 sinks, and various counter top appliances folks have donated over the years. I’d be so lucky if I had a kitchen even half the size at home. Being open, coworkers often come by and see me hard at work. I routinely get comments on how good my food looks or surprised looks that I know how to cook. The truth is cooking isn’t overly hard if you understand a few basics. I’m sure there are a line of chefs that would disagree with me but I’ve always found it rather easy to learn.

I avoid canned food for almost everything. There are a few exceptions of course, but I get physically ill at the smell of canned vegetables. blech. I grew up on a farm and canned veggies was a foreign concept. I never mastered the ability to eat them out of a can. 

The convenience of the kitchen only works when you remember to bring food to cook. I’ve been going thru several schedule changes since returning from vacation and trying to find my groove again. This week has been mostly quick sandwiches from the mart down the block. But, I got my order set for next week so I can get back to it. What’s on the menu you ask? Well, there is a shrimp spinach salad. Shrimp, spinach, avocado, tomato, provolone, snow peas. Then I’m thinking of pasta w/turkey meatballs and some asparagus or Brussel sprouts….




  1. SpoonRocket, Sprig, etc []

Switch

About once a year, Cooper‘s skin issues get really out of control. Being a bully and white, he really struggles with it pretty much constantly. I manage them pretty effectively most days but every so often it just goes berserk; necessitating a visit to the vets office.

image

image

He was recently exposed to fleas for the first time and it set him off like a rocket. I took him off his flea meds as he just never spends much time with other dogs. He has never picked up fleas from the park so it seemed overkill. Clearly a decision I need to rethink. He was scratching and itching like crazy. It also made is other skin issues flare up something fierce. Time for a vet visit.

Having felt a little disgruntled with treatment over his skin problems from the SPCA, I decided to switch to a new vet. Don’t get me wrong, I still highly recommend the SPCA vet clinic here in SF. For trauma treatment, they are the go-to place. However, they don’t always seem to have good experience for special needs dogs like bulldogs. Or at least not in my experience. I’ve had more than one frustrated visit so I decided to make a switch a while back.

I did an old fashioned Google+ search for vets w/good Bulldog experience and found Avenues Pet Hospital here in the city. I was not opposed to going further if need be. And while slightly further than the SPCA, they are right off the MUNI so getting there is quite easy. Cooper loves to go on MUNI.

I felt good just walking in. While in a much older and smaller building, they had a bulletin board full of pics and a large percentage were bullies and frenchies. Score 1 point. The female vet was super friendly and eagerly greeted Cooper and made contact with him as well as myself. Score 2 points. We discussed his ongoing issues, the recent flea outbreak, and his history. She understood his situation almost immediately. She got bonus points for knowing his color makes him all the more sensitive. Obviously, the first goal was to get his flare-up under control. Thru a combo of oral and topical meds, he is much better two weeks after the fact. Actually, he even seems to have more energy than usual.

On our follow up visit, I was again impressed with the expertise and recommendations for Cooper. She was open to trying various treatments to find one that works best for him. We discussed long term care options. As loathe as I am to put him on permanent meds, it might be the best solution. We are trying a lower dose broad spectrum antibiotic that is 1 pill a day plus a topical shampoo with meds to help kill bacteria on the surface of the skin as well. He started the meds this week and we’ll see how he does. If it is effective, it gets reduced to 1 every other day but he’d stay on it.

Wish the Pooper luck!