Month: September, 2016


The very first day back at the gym, my coach and I make a plan for the next 4-6 months.


We decide what my caloric intake will look like, in what specific ratio of fats to protein to carbohydrates.


And what my lifting schedule will focus on specifically from week to week.


The target is 200lbs at no more than 18% body fat.


I’m excited to continue growing.


But more than that, I’m excited to see if I can bulk up on more patience, love and joy, which is what I’m learning to be fundamental to all growing pains.



The person that walked out on stage on Saturday to compete was not alone.


He had a coach who programmed all his lifts and his diet.


He had a gym buddy who encouraged him every day, and told him he could do this.


He had an army of friends and family who reinforced what the gym buddy was saying.


He had a butcher who weighed his meats every week and gave him the best cuts.


He had several trusty restaurant kitchen cooks who all prepared his specific meals to order when he was too tired himself to make them.


He had a barber, a girl at waxing salon and another woman at a tanning salon who timed all his appointments so he looked his very best.


He had an accountant who reminded him to pay his quarterly taxes when he inadvertently forgot to pay them during the training.


He had an investment banker who certified that he had to funding to pursue the sport.


He had a mechanic who made sure his car got him to there in one piece,


It wasn’t by personal fortitude and individual discipline that somebody walked out on stage on Saturday.


Some body was equipped by grace to have all the right people around him to help present the best version of himself.


Eight days out from my first competition, I thought I would be a lot more miserable.

I was warned about the temper tantrums, and even crying, with the loss of carbs in the final drying out phase of preparations.

But the truth is, I’m pretty happy.

The same old petty grievances didn’t magically go away. They still happen.

The difference is that I don’t have the energy to stew on them. So I don’t.

With a daily caloric deficit and an increasing cardio target, everything else that is an unnecessary expenditure of energy fades away.

I also hope that when I step off the stage in a week’s time, I’ll remember to keep focusing on what matters most.


Two very different families sat down to brunch this week.


The first family, morbidly and inappropriately, decided to host a memorial service in a very public setting, surrounded by other uninvolved guests, who were merely just there to partake in omelets, bacon, pancakes and other indulgences from the buffet; not grief.


This family occupied several tables, specifically sat the Jewish members in attendance at their own segregated table, and requested the event coordinator to invite “those damn Jews” to get into the line for the buffet last, after all the other tables had been served.


This family also brought their own screen and projector, as well as a simple PA system, so that everyone else in the restaurant had to look at the deceased and hear about her life.


The pianist then had to take a 30 minute break, while multiple eulogies were read. The most memorable one starting with a pointed glance to the Jewish table and the opening sentence, “You should not have died, it was your own brother who ordered you not to be fed through your life support tubes.”


The second family made their reservation a month in advance.


At the time of the reservation, they requested that the pianist learn the piece September Song. There were no other notes accompanying the reservation.


The pianist, who did not know the song, dutifully bought the sheet music and learnt the score.


This family of 20 arrived on time and sat at one long table, where it was then disclosed to the restaurant staff that they were all there to celebrate the grandmother’s 100th birthday.


Without any ado, after brunch and before the cake was to be served, a niece quietly brought the wheelchair-bound grandmother as close to the piano as possible.


With no one else around, the niece nodded to the pianist and he played September Song.


The grandmother wept.


When the music ended, the grandmother said in the frailest tremble of a whisper, “My sisters and I used to sing that song. I am the only one left. When you play it again, please think of a foolish woman.”


The pianist immediately replied, “I will not. I will only think of a woman who has lived a long and prosperous life, who has received many blessings including a family that honors, loves and cherishes her.”





For my debut at the Great Lakes Ironman, I buy two pairs of boardshorts.


My choice is the solid in a bright strawberry pink. My coach suggests a dominantly lime green colored pair in a bold oversized madras checked pattern that is mixed with white, grey and black blocks.


I take pictures wearing each of them and we take a poll at the gym.


Most of guys who are training for their first shows, like me, gravitate towards the pink.


But the other coaches and more experienced competitors urge me to stick with the green pair “for this particular show and for this particular set of judges.”


Both shorts look great with my tan and I’m don’t understand the preference of one over the other.


Until it is explained to me that regional aesthetics factor heavily in how judges score.


The pink pair would be more appropriate for a larger show in Orange County or in Miami. Here in the Midwest, a more conservative approach is the norm.


In short, I can only sparkle the brightest when I consider for whom I am shining.