Category: LIFTING


It was very flattering when a young bartender asked me to write him a lifting program.


And because I genuinely wanted to share the joys of weight training with him, I did.


He was excited.


Until another server, a power lifter friend and my fellow workout buddy, commented that he would have written it quite differently.


Seeing the look on the bartender’s face, I remembered when I was just beginning to be interested in the sport of bodybuilding and completely intimidated by the huge amount of conflicting information available.


So I did the kindest thing possible that I have learnt from experience.


I told the bartender that there are many plans that can be made and followed, but picking one, not necessarily mine, and sticking with it for three months, would allow him to understand how to better continue his development in the years ahead.


The power lifter conceded to that and in an act of truce, told me to show the bartender my competition stage pictures, to prove that I knew what I was talking about.


I’m grumpy this week because my coach is out sick and I’m training on my own.


It’s not that I don’t know what to do when I’m by myself.


It’s just easier to do the right thing when someone else is watching.


When a server comes up to tell me that their guests have enjoyed my playing, I tell them that a manager should be informed of the compliment so it can be recorded in the nightly closing report.


At a purely practical level, that compliment is of no use to me unless it has been documented.


On the other hand, when a workout buddy or another bodybuilder tells me I’m looking swole, that unwritten compliment makes my day and encourages me to keep on track with my fitness journey.


There is value in giving someone a compliment.


There is greater value in knowing how, where, when and to whom a compliment is given.




My left arm has been itching.


Not surprisingly, that itch developed into a nasty, red, bumpy rash because I couldn’t quit scratching.


After an extensive image search on Google, I freaked out, convinced that I had contracted scabies, bed bugs, leprosy or travelling herpes. Maybe even a combination of all four.


A quick picture of my arm and text to my doctor confirmed a possible diagnosis of scabies or spider bites. He called in a prescription to treat both. Just in case.


Because I also like second opinions, I sent the same picture to a pharmacist friend in New York, who told me that my doctor was wrong and that I had developed a heat rash.


I didn’t want to believe this second opinion. It seemed to be an unlikely thing for a guy born on the tropical island of Singapore to suddenly get heat rash for the first time in Detroit.


Nevertheless, I dutifully put on some Cortizone cream as the pharmacist instructed and went to bed.


The next morning, most of the inflammation had gone down.


More importantly, none of it had spread.


Indicating that it wasn’t scabies.


When my coach saw my arm later that day, he seconded the second opinion.


It’s apparently a common gym thing in the summer.


So now the face wipes I use after working out get used to clean my arms too.


And I bought a little fan that I use under the piano to keep myself dry and minimally sweaty at work.


The rash is nearly gone.


But my need to jump to the worst possible conclusion is probably still entirely intact.


Detroit Pride is this weekend.


But I won’t be attending the parade or any of the other special festivities planned.


I’m at the very peak of my bulking and at 210lbs, I’ve dealt with the most unkind remarks over the last few months:


“Did you stop going to the gym?”


“What’s going on with your belly, are you pregnant?”


“I see you’ve gained a few pounds.”


And these are some of the more innocuous comments.


I feel great and I know that I am on track with the training plan that was designed specifically for me.


So I wonder why mostly everyone else around me has a problem.


Just in case though, I’m going to stay home and keep my pride from getting any more wounded.



Jesus gave me the strength this week to set a personal record of squatting 315lbs for 4 repetitions.

He also gave me the strength to break up with a very, very, very bad boyfriend.


I have a recurring right shoulder injury that has needed more attention recently.


I’ve been conservative with most pressing movements and like always, smart rehabilitation fixes mostly everything.


My coach warns me that I will always have this lingering feeling in my tendon, a common sore spot with many lifters, but that I will eventually learn to work through it and around it.


Because I trust my body’s physical innate workings, maybe I can also trust my emotion’s intuitive sensitivities to eventually figure things out with this man I’m currently dating.


I’m on my last set of overhead cable curls when he walks over and says, “Hey. Can I show you something?”


I normally shy away from the bros who interfere with each other’s workouts but this one is especially cute so I say, “Sure.”


He raises the cable settings to their maximum height, much further than I normally set them for this exercise, and tells me to try again, now that most of the stabilizing pressure on my rotator cuffs will be alleviated by the new adjustment.


And he was right.


I thank him and wish him a Happy Easter, remembering that this holiday is about having all the mistakes of sin permanently fixed.



My coach and I discussed the potential of bulking for the rest of this year before competing again next year.


I am very close to my target of 200lbs and in order to retain the benefits of those gains, we decided it would be best to keep this weight on for a while.


In other words, I’m going to look fat and pudgy for the next 8 months.


Already, I’ve been dealing with unkind comments such as, “have you stopped working out?” and “what happened to you?”


I was thinking how much more devastating my social life would become as I launched into a ten-minute medley of songs from Beauty & The Beast.


I’ve been playing this music more frequently ever since the live action movie version opened a few weeks ago.


It’s fun music and it puts me in a good mood.


Now, I’m playing it to remind myself that underneath it all, I know who I am, what I’m trying to accomplish, and most importantly, that I’m still a pretty, pretty princess.



When I’m training with my coach, I’m used to having my dumb bells handed to me. I’m also used to having my plates racked on and off machines as well as bar bells.


This week he told me I have to start carrying my own stuff.


Because of the number of clients he trains, he only helps when the weight is below a certain limit.


It means I’m becoming a big boy.


But it doesn’t mean I still can’t ask for help when I can’t handle something on my own.


Because that’s what big boys do.