Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I'm trying to make sense of my fascination with MMA. My brother, whom I respect greatly, told me, "No civilized society should allow this." He also said that the MMA event I was watching included "barbaric morons that can't box, wrestle, or do martial arts."

Of course, being a student of karate, I took exception. However, it is totally barbaric. My response to my brother was that it had fewer injuries than football and boxing, which is really a cop out.

So, why am I fascinated with MMA? Why am I obsessed with two dudes trying to kill each other for three rounds, five minutes each, and then hugging it out? I think that's it, the hugging it out.

I practice karate. Twice a week, or more often, depending on my mood, I go to the dojo. We work it out, run in place, do jumping jacks, sit ups, pushups, and then, often we fight. We put on the gloves, the shin guards, the mouth piece, and we try to kick the shit out of each other. But, we really don't have any aggression, we're just practicing, in case something happens. We're really just staying in shape. We're really just sparring.

And when we are done, we hug it out. And, that is cool. And when I see Weideman hug it out with Machido, yeah, that's me hugging it out with Mike from Hicksville. Me hugging it out with Adam from Bethpage. Just warriors. Or really, just an accountant from Bethpage, or a mechanic from Hicksville. But, for that three minutes, when we are sparring, we are warriors.

And that is what I like about MMA. It's a true and honest sport. Granted, it's a little bit of a blood sport. But, when we leave the ring, we know who won. And, we hug it out.

And, by the way, I'm at 188, looking for that middleweight belt.


Monday, February 3, 2014

I should explain my methodology. I have a Tanita scale that measures body fat percentage, but I know it's not always accurate. I also know that the time of day I weigh, what I have been eating, and my hydration, all affect the reading. I try to weigh myself first thing in the morning everyday and I chart that on a spread sheet. I average my weight and body fat percentage on Sunday. While I may weigh 202 on Monday, if my weekly average is 203, that's what I look at. It tends to focus me on the big picture and not day to day weight. Other than developing an average, I really don't care what I weigh today.


On 12-26 I was 208.8 and 25.6 percent body fat.
On 2-2 I was 199 and 22.4 percent body fat.

I have lost nine pounds of fat and one pound of muscle. I'm pretty happy with that as my primary goal was to lose weight. I would have rather lost all fat and no muscle, but cutting calories has collateral damage. I plan on going back on creatine in a few weeks and am curious to find out what the combination of creatine and karate will have. Since starting karate, my gym workouts have been curtailed. I do work out in the basement, mainly pushups, crunches, leg lifts, kicks, punches, combos, and kata, but not a structured three miles on the treadmill.

One of the things that I always notice when losing weight is how fat I am. I am beginning to see how I can easily lose another twenty five pounds.

All now.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Update of the Journey

Four weeks of gym membership with mixed performance. Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes I don't.

On 12-26 I weighed 208.8 with 25.56% body fat, my lean mass was 155, my fat was 53.45.
On 1-25 I weighed 199.4 with 22% body fat, my lean mass was 155, my fat was 45.

I have lost almost eight pounds total, and it appears to be all fat. I have been unable to gain muscle in spite of protein drinks and creatine. I am now off creatine, for four weeks, and have started taking karate. I will go back on creatine in four weeks and we will have a better idea of its efficacy.

Rock on.

Friday, January 10, 2014


On January 3 I weighed 202 pounds with a body fat percentage of  25, meaning I had 50.4 pounds of fat and 151.2 pounds of muscle. It is important to remember that these are always changing and it is elusive. The third of January was a Friday and I try to deal with averages.

So, my average of the week ending January 5th is:

Weight             204
Body Fat          24.7

It seems I gained three pounds, but that is not true. You will see this next week when I post new results.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Phat or Fat?

I've got a break between projects and haven't written in a while so I needed something to do, and this new thread is it. I'm fifty years old and out of shape and have gotten tired of it. I'm usually afflicted with a short attention span and this will probably be no different. Typically my flights of fancy last about four weeks, which is why my MFA in Creative Writing has been so difficult for me - the classes are eight weeks long. But, we'll see how my commitment to fitness goes.

It would probably be best to put things in context. I've always been a tad overweight, never obese, but soft. It hit a tipping point my Sophomore year in college when I tipped the scales at 218 pounds, was wearing 38 inch Levis, and taking advantage of the freedom afforded me in college by spending way too much money on beer and late night Domino's. Not only was I 218 pounds, I was a very fat 218 pounds. Body composition technology wasn't as readily available back then, but I must have been above thirty percent body fat. I do have a picture, but I think I'll keep it in the closet with the rest of my skeletons.

I was cast as Ray in James McLure's one act play titled "Lonestar." It was presented with a companion piece, "Laundry and Bourbon," also a one act play. Ray's brother was Roy and the actor cast as Roy was shorter and thinner than I, and part Hispanic, so I decided to drop a few pounds to make the relationship more believable. I dropped fifteen pounds very quickly, and it was hardly noticeable. I began to realize how fat I truly was.

I got a job loading trucks that summer and returned to school at 180 pounds, a 38 pound weight loss. The attention it garnered was unwelcome, but I was addicted, and continued to lose weight through starvation and a rigid routine of weightlifting, swimming, and playing gym rat basketball. I bottomed out at 158 pounds and was wearing 30 inch Levis. I am 6'1" tall and had lost 60 pounds and my BMI was 20.8, generally considered normal, but my friends began to express concern for my well being. The weight loss stopped, and a gradual weight gain began. I've since stabilized my weight between 190 and 210 and have been generally healthy.

I seem to gain about ten pounds per decade, which experts say is common. The advent of scales that measure body fat woke me up a few years ago, and I have occasionally gone on a four week cycle of weight loss, dropping a few pounds, then taking six months to gain it back, and repeating. The flaw in my pattern was revealed when my brother asked me how I could go to the gym, run five miles, and then light up a smoke on the way to my car. I explained to him that it wasn't about being healthy, it was about looking good.

Which brings me to today. I have young kids, ten and seven, and I like them enough to want to stick around for a while. When my scale showed 211 and almost 27 percent body fat two weeks ago, I was ready to make a change. I'm hoping it's a long term change and not a four week attention span obsession, but time will tell. I'm a teacher and have had the last ten days or so off for the Holiday break, so after eating and drinking too much, things hit critical mass for me and I joined a gym. My main goal was to get healthier, to increase my energy, and to lose weight. In the back of my head, I want to weigh 165 pounds again, but to be healthy about it. For right now, I'm focusing on getting my BMI down from 27.8, where it was ten days ago, to 25, which is considered the high end of normal. That means 189.5 pounds, and for now, that is what I am focused on.

I've had some success. I joined Planet Fitness on December 27th and have been going pretty regularly. I have a plan but will save that for later, until I have some more success. This morning I weighed 202 and my body fat was 25 percent. I've lost nine pounds in two weeks, and much of that I suspect was just water, but it feels good. I figured I would jinx myself by going public with it on my blog, but nobody reads this so it doesn't really matter.

One of the things I do when trying to lose weight is to track my weight and Body Composition on a spread sheet. I weigh myself everyday and record my weight and composition. At the end of the week, I average that week's weight and composition. That reduces the big changes from day to day and gives me a pretty conservative picture of my progress. If I continue to be successful, I'll be updating this blog weekly with the week's average.

To summarize, on 12-25 I weighed 211 with 26.8 percent body fat. On 1-3, I was 202 with 25 percent body fat.  

My short term goal is to weigh 190 pounds with 21 percent body fat and a BMI of 25 by February 9th, 2014.

My long term goal is to weigh 165 pounds with 10 percent body fat a BMI of 22 by May 11th, 2014.

Wish me luck. I think I am going to need it.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

I didn't want to be that guy. You know who I am writing about, that Dad that can't separate his issues from those of his kid. In my case it's my nine year old daughter and Travel soccer. I've encouraged her and nurtured her but always sat in my beach chair on the sidelines and read the paper while she played. I'm not the guy yelling at her, trying to coach her up in the middle of games. I'm the guy that peeks over the sports page to see if she is having fun. And she was. Until Travel Soccer entered our lives. Now I'm that asshole.

My daughter started playing soccer when she was three years old, a bunch of kids in a clot kicking at the ball and running up and down the pitch having fun. When she was eight she joined our local soccer club's GU9 team. For the uninitiated, that stands for Girls Under 9 years old. I know, she was eight and playing up a year, but she wanted to do it. She was a little too young, and while she played well, she didn't like the pressure of coaches yelling like maniacs, of parents yelling louder. I sat in my beach chair and read the Sunday New York Times and after the game I would always ask the same two questions; "Did you try your best," and "Did you have fun?"

 She always said yes, in spite of occasional tears. I felt she should play down the following year, another year of GU9 while the vast majority of her team went up to GU10. Unfortunately, our local soccer club is dying and there was no GU9 team, just the GU10 team, so she tried out.

Two days of tryouts with a trainer from the New York Red Bulls Training Academy, one guy who didn't know my daughter from the next kid, then four weeks of waiting, They were only going to take thirteen kids. Then another week. Then another week. Finally, the coach, who had known my daughter for two years, had a pool party for the team. The next day, the roster was posted and my daughter wasn't on the list of fourteen, not thirteen. The obligatory email came. It explained that they relied solely on the ratings of the trainer.

Being the positive role model, I emailed the coach and thanked her for all of her efforts on behalf of my daughter, explained that she had enjoyed playing for the coach and that she wanted to get better so she could tryout again next year. I asked the coach if she could tell me what areas my daughter could improve in so that she could be a better player.

No response.

The league assured me they would have a GU9 Travel team, or at least find a place for her to play. That never happened so I signed her up to play in a neighboring league. The director of that league assured me that if she played a year of intramurals and worked hard, she would make a Travel team. So, she did. Her team had a great forward, I'll call her Sophie, and my daughter, let's call her Layla, played great centering the defense. She played hard and her team went undefeated. And, she tried out for the Travel team.

Two days of tryouts with four trainers from the Red Bulls Academy (foreshadowing). I felt Layla was a step slow and not aggressive enough, but they had two teams and I thought she should have been good enough for the B team. There were three girls from Layla's intramural team, the aforementioned Sophie and another kid named Jo. I might be biased, but I knew my daughter was better than Jo and that Sophie would make the A team, but I've never played soccer so I wasn't sure. I prepared Layla for the worst, that she probably wouldn't make either team but we held out hope. After all, the league director had told us that she would make a Travel team if she tried hard, and she had indeed done that.

Two weeks went by and we expected the worst. In the meantime, her intramural coach had scheduled a scrimmage as a last get together and to hand out trophy's. The day before the scrimmage, we got the bad news, Layla had not made either Travel team. I was okay with that, another year of intramurals would be great, she had such a great experience. Then, my wife took Layla to the scrimmage.

Her coach was astounded that she didn't make the team. Sophie had made the A team and Jo had made the B team. Sophie's dad, a Varsity Girls Soccer coach, former college player, and the coach of two Travel teams was equally astounded, and was irate. He assured my wife that Layla was better than at least 7 players that had made the B team. His wife told mine that Jo was in her daughter Sophie's class and came to school two days before rosters were announced and assured Jo she had made the team. Something is rotten in the state of youth soccer.

Sophie's dad was so angry that he called some contacts in yet another town and got Layla a spot on one of their Travel teams.

Which leaves me confused. I may be THAT asshole, but I am not that ASSHOLE.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Thinking About Tim Tebow

Ever since Steve Spurrier coached the Florida Gators, I've had an issue with the boys from Gainesville. Of course, this had more to do with the Sports Illustrated cover of December 4, 1972 than anything else. On that cover, Sports Illustrated claimed "Steve Spurrier Steers San Francisco." What a joke. Any Niner fan knew that John Brodie was the man by the Bay and any claim to the starting position by anyone else was spurious. Spurrier was a backup, and, worse, a punter. He played in 1972 and went 8-5-1 and the 38 year old Brodie regained the starting spot the following season. In other words, Spurrier was a washout.

It's always been my contention that Spurrier's failure contributed to his treatment of quarterbacks as a coach. Who else would develop such talents as Noah Brindise, Doug Johnson, Danny Wuerffel, and Tim Tebow. Oh, never heard of the first three? No shocker there. You would never have heard of Tebow if the media had a clue. Spurrier won a Heisman, just like Tebow, a sure foreshadowing of future anonymity if there ever was one. Here's a short list of Heisman winning quarterbacks that were a bust in the NFL in the last 12 years: Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Jason White. Matt Leinart, Troy Smith, and, finally, Tim Tebow.

Leave it to the Jets to  make me feel empathy for Tebow. I hated the kid, wondered what the Jets were thinking when they traded for him, and couldn't wait for him to fail. The media circus that surrounded his arrival in the league was ridiculous and the trade for him was stoopid, stoopid, stoopid. Sanchez was the man, in my eyes. I'm a Pac 12 fan and wanted Sanchez to validate the quality of the conference by succeeding in the Big Apple. And that meant failure for Tebow. Let's watch the Jets lose with Tebow. Let's watch Tebow fail in the NFL. Let's see that smug Christian explain His plan after he goes 10 for 40 with three picks and no TD's.

Well, the circus came to town, and for whatever reason, Sanchez failed. And Tebow rushed in to save the day. Oh, that's right, the Jets didn't play him. They traded for him, but never played him,. Of course, I think the Jets coaching contributed to the lack of offense, but something needed to be done. I couldn't wait to see Tebow rush in from the sideline, the crowd cheering. I couldn't wait to see Tebow hand off twice for runs up the middle for no yards, then throw an ill conceived out that got picked by a corner. But, it never happened. Tebow never got off the bench. What a rip off. The Jets ripped off the fans, and they ripped off Tebow.

So now Timmy Terrific exits New Jersey. A year from his life has been stolen by Jets management and he is left to pick up the pieces. He's been above the fray, a good team mate and a consummate professional. That's more than the Jets can say. Exit, stage right Tim Tebow.

Enter, stage left Geno Smith. He joins four other quarterbacks in the fold. The new messiah, the chosen one. Sanchez will soon be gone. Matt Simms? Next. What do these quarterbacks have in common?

A reason to rejoice. They have disembarked the flaming Jets. Ryan goes 6 and 10 this year and we start another rebuilding process. In the meantime, who is that other team in New Jersey? Oh yeah, those guys.

Maybe media attention isn't a good thing?