LGN 54: Maximum Maxim

Inside: The cherry experiment; Maximum overdrive; The male ego; Tough Mudder willies; SATP: Alcohol


I don’t drink much.  Never have.  Some of you, though.  Wow.  Alcohol is your culture.

I’m going to say something that I don’t want you to take the wrong way.

I’ve never been drunk.

Tipsy, woozy, buzzed.  Disoriented enough to be talked into dancing badly.  Not drunk, though.  It doesn’t take much.  I was telling a friend who used to be an accomplished social drinker how I didn’t like the feeling of losing control of my motor functions on that slow slide of “a few drinks”.

She said, “Oh.  You just need to skip that part.”  Have a few shots or pound the fruit punch and you skip directly to full blown drunken party mode.

Knowing how I feel after one good beer I can’t imagine sitting around and drinking an entire six pack.  Wouldn’t you just feel like a bloated mess after that?  Multiple beers and bar food — wings and nachos.  Ugh.

I read that your body can’t metabolize fat while it’s metabolizing alcohol.  So you eat heavy, fat-rich food to maybe slow down the effects of drinking, right.  Then your body works on the alcohol while the fat goes — where?

I rented a room in someone’s house once and she constantly had a glass of wine either in her hand or within reach.  I guess she was pretty much buzzed all the time?

Interesting.  Actually, I wouldn’t touch alcohol until a few years ago when I began experimenting a little.  Just a little.  Comparing beers and wines.  I am a fan of Gimlets.

I wanted to see what it was all about and the social scene was getting more and more awkward because the people I knew were heavy drinkers and were not comfortable at all if someone else wasn’t drinking.  I’d become the topic of conversation unless I could pull the Designated Driver card.

People ask me why I didn’t drink.  It wasn’t a religious thing.  There was no alcohol related trauma.  There was no family alcohol related shaming.  The kids were allowed to taste wine or beer.  It’s not really a part of our family.  When we have family gatherings, parties and feasts there’s no alcohol involved.  No beer.  No wine.  It’s just not a thing for us.

Just — I think it was an anti-rebellion thing.  In high school when people started drinking, partying and what not.  I wasn’t in those circles.  Some kind of outsider self affirmation.  Then the fact that people began hammering on that aspect of my young identity resulted in its fortification and buttressing.  The heat of scrutiny resulted in tempering.

Now that I’m a grown-ass man and am over that kind of thing I still have no desire to get drunk.  It feels wrong to me.  Not morally wrong.  And I’m talking about wrong for me, not wrong for you.  But, like, bars and clubs and some parties?  My brain and body go into high alert, full security/survival mode.

I also don’t like drunk people.  Because I’m sober, of course.  Drunk people are horrible when you’re sober.  Except for women who think I’m attractive when they’re drunk and get affectionate/grabby.  I thank you, Alcohol.  But then they forget that they think I’m attractive when they sober up.  Up yours, Alcohol.

I’m just saying that it’s strange to me.  I’ve seen parents buy kegs for their teenagers.  Seen them pass on alcohol as a rite of young adulthood.  Seen them help load up their kids’ cars with beer and liquor as the kids go off to vacation on their own.

It’s a different way.  And those people have a lot more fun than I do on many levels.  No doubt.

But you know.  Like with all things there are consequences.  Hey, I had a beer belly without drinking a drop of beer.

There are some people who fight the alcohol — let’s call it a habit — when it comes to their fitness journey.  It contributes to making or keeping you fat and it messes up sleep/recovery.

All things in moderation, including reckless abandon.

Somewhere between holding up the wall and regretful, sloppy drunk dance floor dry humping.  Somewhere between the stick in the mud and the lamp shade on the head, the happy medium resides.


On Thursday the Finisher involved pushing the sled down to Rt. 50.  A relay with me, Tuck and Brian.  And pulling the sled back up the road to the gym with those big ol’ ropes.  Walking backwards, of course, because how else can you achieve the maximum amount of agony.

So Justin was encouraging us the whole time.  And then “encouraging” us.  Finally, he had to go take care of the 8pm trainees while we were still pulling.  We got a mini-break when a pick up pulled out of that lot where the motorcycle repair place and other mystery businesses are.  We waved the truck by but it stopped.

A relatively young guy rolled down his window and said, “Hey, are you guys in SATP?”

I said, “Sorry.  I don’t know what that is.”

“Nevermind.”   They drove away.

I looked up SATP.  Didn’t find anything so maybe he said SAPT?  I looked a little harder.

SATP = Substance Abuse Treatment Program whereas SAPT = Student Athlete Performance Training.  And to be honest with you and myself, we don’t really look like student athletes.

So either Justin has a side business or I look like I’m in need of substance abuse treatment.  If that substance is Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Mocha powder — is that a class 2 substance?  Might as well be.

The Great Cherry Experiment (Monday 8/13/2012)

I have a problem. It’s the kind of problem that an idiot would have. Not an intentional idiot. But a willing idiot.

I am allergic to cherries. I have too many food intolerances and allergies. So far not the anaphylactic shock kind of allergies, but the swelling lips, mouth and sometimes throat kind. Slightly more than a sensitivity. Definitely a food intolerance. Possibly an allergy. And the instant, intense gastronomic distress kind of reaction like with shrimp.

I used to eat shrimp a lot with no ill effect. Then some embarrassing and torturous occasions happened as I got older. Now I do not experiment with shrimp. I do not take my chances with shrimp.

The problem is that I love cherries and I’m sitting here looking at about a pound and a half of them. Whole Foods purchased perfect specimens of seasonal Summer produce. We wants them, Precioussss.

It’s an unrequited affection, though, as they violently reject me. My lips will swell for sure. There’s a chance that within twenty minutes I’ll start sweating and feel overheated. I will spend quality time in the restroom.

When I got the allergy test done, the allergist said that if I absolutely had to eat one of the things I’m allergic to I could try taking a Zyrtec about an hour beforehand. That should help. I took a Zyrtec.

If you don’t see or hear from me later this week there’s a chance I’ve expired. I could be the first case of someone dying from pooping themselves inside out.

Haha! Sorry. Sorry about that. Went a little blue there.

I meant to wait until the weekend to try this but — they won’t last until then.

Wish me luck.

By the way, there’s some fascinating info on Wikipedia re: food allergies and sensitivities. When it comes to vegetables and fruits, if you have hay fever you will likely have problems with certain foods because those allergens/irritants are in the same family. Like cherry trees and alders, for instance.

I think this blog about my allergy test has some more info and links (in the comments): IT IIIIIITCHES!!!

Later in the Week

Okay. There were some rumbles later that night. Lips didn’t swell much but they did itch for a while. I fell asleep with a stomach full of cherries.

The Zyrtec did some good work. It did its job and made me a little groggy the next day. As expected. I think there is some residual finger itchiness, though. Next up. Plums and nectarines. Although, I still do have some cherries left. Maybe I shouldn’t push my luck, though.

Applied Materials and the Male Ego


noun /ˈēgō/
egos, plural

  1. A person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance
    • – a boost to my ego
  2. The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity
  3. An overly high opinion of oneself
    • – some major players with really big egos
  4. (in metaphysics) A conscious thinking subject

I copied that from Google search results.

The male ego is like ceramics.  Tough as hell.  They use ceramics in ballistic armor sometimes.  Ceramics are brittle, ironically.

Maybe some are like eggs.  An egg can support an incredible amount of force for its size and weight IF that force is applied vertically and evenly.

Maybe some are like carbon fiber.  As strong as steel.  But if it gets a ding or if you see a crack — that’s a bad sign because when carbon fiber fails it fails catastrophically.  No real warning.  Everything seems fine one second and the next second your, let’s say, bike frame is literally in two separate halves and someone is standing over you asking you if you remember your own name.

I was trying to think of the perfect analogy but I realized that everyone’s a little different so there is no one perfect analogy.  Then I realized that this doesn’t just apply to men, although I do think that men have expectations that restrict their sense of self definition.

When I was a kid my parents would make me go outside and play basketball or football.  To butch me up, I guess.  Have I told you how much I hate basketball?  I would read a lot, books, comic books, draw, sometimes practice an instrument, break things apart because I wanted to see what was inside.  I was much better at breaking things apart than putting them back together.  That poor Speak ‘n Spell.  In the bedroom.  With a rock hammer.

I liked soccer and kickball.  All the outdoor kid stuff:  hide and seek, tag, freeze tag, Big Wheels, scooters, bicycles, skateboards, doing handstands on the curb.  I liked pickup games of football in my teenage years, too.  Ah, good ol’ Logan Circle.  But being introverted, I tended to be internal and pursue interests that were solitary.  My sense of self didn’t match what people expected from a young (black) man.

I think that still affects a lot of people when it comes to fitness.  There are communities and families that will make fun of you for joining a gym.  Like, they think it’s something that rich, entitled white people do.  What kind of diseased thinking is that?  I mean, if you’re an athlete they think that’s great.  If you’re just lean or muscular, they think you’re so lucky.  But working hard to get that way?? They think you’re a fool.

It is changing, though.  I’m pretty sure of that.  We’re all waking up very slowly.

Or they’re fatalistic and critical.  “You’ve tried all kinds of crazy stuff before.  And now this wacky exercising and reducing carbohydrates fad? ”

My family and friends are all really supportive, I have to say.  Despite the fact that I’m more scarce now and my schedule tends to revolve around training.  I won’t front.  (There’s no future in it.)  I like it that way.

It pisses me off, though, to hear how some people are treated.  Things that their family members say to them.  Ridiculed and insulted for being overweight.  Ridiculed and insulted for working to get fit, especially if they don’t see instant skinniness (when at first the results are muscles building underneath subcutaneous fat and fat within the muscle disappearing — think of a well-marbled steak — and cardiovascular fitness).  The verbal abuse some people suffered as kids and teenagers.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who don’t have support in their corner who are trying to make progress.  Or who have people that encourage you to do what you and they know isn’t good for you just because they like having someone in the same boat.

“We’re so bad!  Let’s each eat an entire pie!  Wow, that was so good especially with the pint of ice cream.  I can’t believe we did that.  So how’s your training and diet going?”

If you can find a supportive community it makes all the difference in the world.  Don’t sweat the dumb stuff.

Cognitive Dissonance

There’s a lot of ego involved in this fitness thing, for better and for worse.  It definitely satisfies some man-things that were neglected for a long time.  Despite being a nerd I still identify with the ideal of the comic book hero.  Living a soft, physically unchallenged life for over a decade and a half wreaked havoc on that self-perception.

At an old workplace a condo was being constructed.  You’d have a bunch of software developers standing at a window envious of the construction workers out there building physical things with giant machines and power tools.  I wonder if the construction workers looked back through the window and talked about how nice it would be to get off their feet and in some air conditioning.

My ego — my sense of self — definitely did not match reality.  Psychological dissonance.  From what I learned in Psych 101 there are two responses to one’s own psychological dissonance in order to try to resolve that internal tension.

  1. Change one’s behaviors.
  2. Change one’s beliefs.

Or we just go on living at odds with our selves and finding temporary highs to distract us from the pain and discomfort.  We have so many options for it, too.

How to Become a Millionaire

I realized the other day that I know to how to become rich.  It’s so simple.  You make something that tells people what they want to hear.

You tell them that the people they don’t like are bad people.  You tell them that they’re awesome and anything bad in their lives is someone else’s fault.  Tell them that life and society are unfair and that it’s someone else’s job to fix our lives.

Make a song telling them how awesome they are and that other people are hating on them out of envy.  Tell them that if they say or write something and other people get offended, it must be because their statement/belief is so awesome, powerful and true.

Tell them that any one who disagrees with them does so out of hate or ignorance.

I was thinking that if I want to be better I can’t devote myself to my own aggrandizement.  I can’t buy into my own hype.  My problems aren’t because the world doesn’t work like it should.  I mean, McDonald’s isn’t going to change their recipes and suddenly start making delicious food that’s cheap and super healthy.  No one’s going to invent a meat substitute that tastes better and is better for you than an actual dead animal.  No one’s going to give me a pill that eradicates my genetic potential for, I dunno, eye disease or high blood pressure.  Not any time soon.

Even if that’s the case society and culture aren’t going to change to benefit you personally.  The mean people aren’t going to stop being mean.  Ignorant people aren’t going to stop being ignorant.  Probably not in your life time.

So you have to work on what you do have power over.  You.

(Note:  Working on a better you may involve trying to change the world for the better.)

You have everything you need to be a better you.  (Sometimes I say “you” when I mean “I” or “me”.)

Max Powers

This cycle is almost over.  Justin has me doing maxes: bench press, dead lift, Zercher squat, hip thrust.  They’re kind of fun except when you FAIL.  I was kicking butt and then today — man.  Bench press fail.  I was so weak.  I was going to brag about my steady progress.  I did calculations on how long it would take me to be able to bench press 200%ish of my body weight, assuming an unrealistic steady increase of 5 lbs. per week.  I think it worked out to 8 or 9 months.

I know that’s not how it works.  Part of the plan will include using that increased muscle mass to improve explosive power and endurance.  More muscle and more efficient muscle.  I wouldn’t be going for maxes for months at a time, is what I’m saying.

Let’s see.  I have one more day left in this cycle but here’s where I am:

  • Bench press:  215 lbs. I wanted that 220 today but that was not a-happenin’.  Not even.
  • Deadlift: 295 lbs.  Wow.  I’ve come a long way since tweaking my back lifting 185 from the rack.  (When your coach tells you to not round your back, don’t friggin’ round your back.)
  • Zercher squat: I don’t remember.  Matt just about wiped me out doing 6 reps of 225 lbs.  So the max must have been, what, 245??
  • Hip thrust:  315 lbs.  I’m finally getting the hang of it.  Still an uncomfortable exercise but if I can get used to the throat crushing choke-fest of front squats I can adjust to hip thrusts.

Depending on what kind of mood I’m in I can pat myself on the back for making progress or I can look up world records (1,075 lbs. for bench press; 1,015 lbs. for deadlift; whoa 728 lbs. for a single-handed deadlift) and feel wimpy.

Of course, even though I’m getting much stronger Team Dude still lost to Team Lady in today’s Finisher but they showed true sportswomanship and did the 25 Burpees of the Vanquished, too.  Classy.

Tough Mudder Jitters

I used to gig a lot as a musician.  Jazz mostly.  I’ve performed in bars, restaurants, clubs, at events, at concerts.  I’ve never played an arena.  A festival but not an arena.  I know what it is to be nervous or have that gnawing performance anxiety.  But just enough.

By the way, some very famous singers had severe stage fright.  Sammy Davis, Jr. if memory serves.  One of them would vomit before performances.  It makes sense that a lot of entertainers and performers have substance abuse problems.  A little liquid courage must make it a lot easier to take the stage.

We’re getting close to Tough Mudder.  The TM anxiety is there lurking in the back of my mind.  It’s like that feeling you get when you hear a weird sound from your car or when the check engine light briefly comes on and then goes away.  You’re thinking, oh no I can not afford to get soaked by a mechanic.  Then you almost forget about it.  Then every once in a while you’ll get that little gnawing feeling.  That little Tribble of stress that you lock away in a box in your mind and put in the mental room that you designate “Deal with later”.

Of course, every time you approach that door and peek in you see more Tribbles and you know that you’re going to have to open the door soon.  Always sooner.

And then SHAZAM!!! you’re face down in the dirt having a level 10 leg cramp rolled out with a stick.  Oh, the humanity!

These metaphors do not mix.  I know.

My point is that I’m getting the familiar performance anxiety pang.  Nothing wrong with that.  Now that I know what to expect it’s not fear.  Well I do have trepidation about having another cramptastic experience.  It’s possible.  But eff it.  Let’s see how far I get this time, huh?

Alright.  I have no idea where the day went.  The weekend’s half over.  I need to make Sunday feel like multiple days somehow.

Carpe diem, y’all.

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.


Add Yours
  1. food allergy test

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    • garyarthuryoung

      Thank you much for reading an looking around.

      I appreciate it and the comment.

      There are definitely more posts coming up. Stay tuned.

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