Taking Stock, Doing More Research and Where the Hell is Everyone Redux

Me tossing a football on the beach at Half Moon Bay.
Sometimes you have to go all Johnny Utah.

You’d think after three years I would know more about my body, what to put in it and how to exercise it. Nope. I’m just as confused as ever and I have been reading again. Yeah, I know, there’s way too much information out there. The wonderful thing about all that information is that it’s FREE! Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.

I’ve been reading about what to do if you’re skinny and want to add muscle mass, what to do if you’re fat and want to lose weight and get ripped, and what to do if you’re skinny fat. Here’s the problem. I’ve been all three. Right now, I feel like I am all three at the same time, which is what is confusing the living shit out of me.

So, if you’re skinny, you’re supposed to eat a lot of a pretty balanced diet with an emphasis on protein and lift a lot of heavy weight. If you’re fat you’re supposed to burn more calories than you consume and lift light weight a lot of times to lose weight and burn fat. And, if you’re skinny fat, well, you’re screwed. You can cut and then build mass. Or you can try to build lean muscle mass and shred at the same time.

I guess in-between isn’t a bad place to be. I am back down to 183 pounds from a high of 188. The new arms and chest workouts I have been doing seem to be achieving results. Belly fat continues to be my Achilles heel. Yes, after six weeks of Shortcut to Shred, distance running and my new approach, my bell is flattening and shrinking. But, I can’t seem to find the magic bullet to kill it. I write this as I eat a piece of brioche toast and drink a single pour of Tullamore DEW Irish Whisky and a bottle of Black Butte Porter beer.

I’ve long maintained that carbohydrates were not the Devil. But I really did have to cut them way down to reach my goal weight. Some of the things I have been reading lately say eat a meal rich in carbs after a weightlifting session, after your protein recovery shake of course. What I am discovering is I think the bulk of these articles and crazy workout suggestions are for 20-somethings, early 30-somethings tops. What I need are the diet and nutrition tips and workouts for us 40-somethings – and I am not talking about Bowflex infomercials at 3:00 a.m.

I’m 46, 5’10” tall and 183 pounds. A BMR calculator says 1,782 calories per day (sans exercise) is what I need every day to maintain 183 pounds. A 25-year-old needs 1,925 calories per day. Most nutrition and exercise information I find is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. All I know is when I get near 2,000 or exceed it for any length of time (now matter how much I exercise), my weight starts to creep up.

Something else I have read a while ago is that you should run or do cardio after lifting weights. The new thing I read says sprint work after lifting weights is the thing to do. After a pretty heavy arms lift today, I ran four quarter-mile “sprints.” Added together, I recorded my fastest mile, 7:53, since high school. Too bad I can’t maintain that pace for any length of time. I still think slow long distance is going to be a staple of my exercise regimen.

Me recreating an iconic movie scene.
Charlton Heston eat your heart out.

So, my Saturday consisted of a pretty intense biceps/triceps, forearms lift, four quarter-mile sprints, two rounds of basketball and some catch with the football. [Sidebar: the bad thing about being this active? I want to eat everything tonight] Three years ago this month I was at 218 pounds. Thirty-five pounds may not sound like a lot, but trust me, at that weight, there’s no way I could have done all that I did today in a week’s time let alone a day. I was lifting weight by that point but running was a major issue. I was still predominantly walking for exercise. Running six miles at a clip was unfathomable. Running a quarter mile was a problem. I still don’t think my metabolism is running at the rate it should be, but I also know I am still trying to undo so much damage caused by smoking, 16 years of no exercise and a sedentary lifestyle.

I wrote a blog entry last spring that one of my coworkers said last week was a favorite of his. In Where the Hell is Everyone? I discussed my neighborhood. I was out for a walk on a gorgeous spring day after back surgery and I was mortified as I discovered that I live in a ghost town. Well, I had the occasion to be outside late yesterday afternoon. Some neighbors were out getting their weekend started early. Today, I spent a good part of the afternoon outside. Aside from my neighbors thinking they are Formula I drivers zipping around residential streets, I didn’t see anyone outside doing anything. Sure, people came and went in their driveways but no one was out enjoying an absolutely beautiful spring day. With a high of 82° and bright sunshine, you’d think folks would be out doing yard work, playing ball, etc. Nope, the only activity seemed to be at my house.

NEIGHBOR, n.One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient. – Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

Has technology made us a society of shut-ins? Where are all the children? Are we afraid of our neighbors?

When I was a kid in the 1970s and early 1980s, we traveled in packs, you couldn’t keep us inside and our parents congregated and discussed the events of the day. Now we’re texting about what we found in our Facebook news feeds or what we were fed on Twitter. Disposable content is served via Snapchat. Seriously, where the hell is everyone? I don’t hear anything so I know folks aren’t in their backyards. They might be later this summer, especially those of us with swimming pools. Yeah, we’re still in a drought here in California but nobody was even out washing a car.

Have we become a society of shut-ins? Are we distrustful of the people next door? Has the proliferation of news stories about the Jeffrey Dahmers of the world made us that afraid of our fellow man? Are we suburbanites backyard dwellers? I have a pool in which I like to spend most of the summer. – Me, May of 2015

I must sound like a broken record at this point. Funny, that vinyl is making a comeback. I still find the lack of credible news sources disturbing. I’m sure I’ll re-visit my Journalism is Dead blog soon. My mother-in-law visited recently. We all went to the beach. I played football with my son in the surf while my wife took pictures. I recreated the final scene from the original Planet of the Apes. There were people at the beach. I just don’t understand why they aren’t out and about on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the neighborhood. I got out a Sonos WiFi speaker, kicked some 80s alternative, shot hoops with my boy. It was like we were the only people on Earth, save the wannabe race car drivers who have the good sense enough to not mow down the wannabe Steph Currys in front of my house. Our friends’ kids are out playing basketball quite often. It’s the only way I know I’m not in some sort of post-apocalyptic nightmare.

I don’t get it. I really don’t.