On Normalcy And Eating…

It occurred to me recently that I don’t know how to eat normally. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to eat. I know how to for powerlifting. I know how to eat for bodybuilding. I know for cycling, for running, and for fat loss. I know how to eat vegetarian and vegan. I just don’t know how to eat normally.

Since the first time I stepped into the murky waters of physical culture when I was 13-years old, and as I have become involved with a variety of athletic tasks, I’ve eaten specific to those tasks, always. My edict has been that food is fuel, and to eat for function not for flavor.

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Of course I have a veered off that path thousands of times. I have enjoyed restaurant food, Thanksgiving dinners, cruise ships, hotels, parties, celebrations of every kind, and I have brought the managers of all-you-can-eat buffets to their knees on multiple occasions.

In the scope of my lifetime though, most every time I have eaten anything, I have weighed its content against the results and consequences of how it might impact my body’s aesthetic, my athletic performance, or both. Agenda has undermined any sense of normalcy in eating for my entire life.

On one hand, I can easily think about all I have gained from a lifetime of these behaviors. I’m on the backside of my 50s and can still wear the same jeans I wore in high school. I can ride a bike for an entire day, I can bench-press my weight 10 times in perfect form, and I can jump on a picnic table landing square on my feet.

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On the other hand, I’ve never wandered into a Baskin-Robbins for a couple scoops of ice cream without contemplating — without stressing over how I’m going to offset it. Those stresses by the way, throughout the course of my life, have been very real and have shaped my psyche in ways I wouldn’t wish on anyone. This is a sad, if not bleak, way to live.

Just imagine spending your whole life analyzing and stressing over everything that you eat. Thinking about the good of it all. Thinking about the bad of it all. And through it all, never just being — never just picking up a piece of food and eating it without giving it some thought. But that has been my life of eating.

Anything set on the dinner table before me has rarely been more than a cluster of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and sugars to be analyzed, consumed or rejected. What has been separate from all of that, is the art, the joy, the spontaneity, and the creative intent behind food.

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Jazz Hands…

I don’t see this ever changing. It has minimized in recent years due to my increasing awareness of it, but living my entire life with this mind-set, those biological and behavioral synapses are in place and etched deeply into my psyche. For me, the idea of eating anything will always cause some level of anxiety. A little food for thought — so to say… Jhciacb

If you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head oh, and there is this from Robbie Fulks.  Enjoy…!

Throwback Thursday…

TBT…

Social media has given us Throwback Thursday; an idea from which we can reflect on and share people, moments, or situations from our past. I enjoy seeing what others have to share. I also sharing my own experiences. In times when social media can be chaotic, clumsy, and ridiculous, TBT is simple fun.

Like some kind deconstructive self-evolutionist, I spend much of my internal life reflecting on fingerprints of others; the persons and moments which have been most pivotal in my life. There is one person though, who has had more influence in my life than anyone.

The Person, The Place, And The Cause…

I was waiting outside Russel Dorren’s homeroom class in the west building of Cherry Creek High School in 1976. The kid standing next to me was a year older. He and I knew each other casually through the weight room of the local recreation center. He was short, had pale skin, wore tight fitting Levis, had a small waist, and shoulders so wide that they stretched the back of his tucked in flannel shirt to extremes. He was Scott Rupert.

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Cherry Creek West Senior High School

Scott was the only kid in school with that bodybuilder look; broad shoulders, a small waist, and round arms barely contained by sleeves. We see that look everywhere today, but in the 1970s it was rare, especially in high school.

Waiting for the classroom to open, Scott invited me to workout with him sometime at the 20th Street Gym in downtown Denver – a more serious weight room he had discovered. He described it as the “Gold’s Gym of Colorado”.

A week or so later, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went with Scott to the 20th Street Gym. It took 3 bus connections and about 90 minutes to get there one evening after school. I walked in and the place smelled of effort and intensity – what others might have called sweat. Disco music provided a faint soundtrack, but was good accompaniment behind the rhythm of clanging weights.

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20th Street: The Gold’s Gym Of Colorado…

I had never seen such a concentration of bodybuilders. I immediately keyed in on one man, John Suddemeyer. John wasn’t big, but he had a very tight physique; vascular, and athletic.  He had what bodybuilders of the day called the finished look.

Through the evening Scott would point out all the local bodybuilders and powerlifters who comprised the regulars. There was JT LaSasso, whose acne covered back left droplets of blood on the bench press after set he performed. Rich Clench, Mr. Colorado, with arms that looked more like adult water wings. Steve Ponzi, a local powerlifter who made his living bouncing at bars and collecting hard money loans. Finally, there was Al Mack. Al had a 22” neck and more resembled a brown bag full of bowling balls than a human being. Al Mack would become an early mentor to Scott.

My 132 lb. high school frame felt very out of place, but I stuck around and trained legs and shoulders, feeling inadequate while Scott and Al Mack did 45 minutes of uninterrupted pull-ups. Mostly, I used the time to observe. I learned more that night by watching others, than I had in my previous 2 years at my local rec center gym.

Fast Forward…

Sometime after that 1st workout at 20th Street, I decided I would put all my eggs in one basket, and cover that basket. Due to the long bus commute, I couldn’t train at 20th Street too often, but frequently enough so I could keep observing, and keep learning. Inspired and better educated, I would transfer what I learned at 20th Street to my rec center workouts. Within a year I weighed 165 lbs.

Scott would later runaway release himself from high school on his own recognizance, and head to Brownwood, TX to learn from world class powerlifter, Doug Young. When he returned from Texas Scott was larger, stronger, and better informed. Scott would share that knowledge with anyone who would listen. I listened.

Scott spoke of Doug Young’s unusually slow eccentric (negative) phase of the bench press. In Scott’s words (paraphrased), lowering the bar to the chest more slowly, provided a better opportunity to connect with one’s power zone for an increased maximum lift. That ideal – the slow negative, changed my life forever.

Over time I would make my own study of slow negatives based on Young’s technique. I dissected it, studied it, and applied slow negatives to virtually every strength exercise I would ever perform or teach.

From that study I would understand that slow negatives, a full range of motion, and a very slow transition during the cross-bridge cycle, are superior for stimulating muscular growth, increased strength, and the best dividend of all, an increased awareness and command of one’s physicality which applies to all functional movement beyond the gym doors.

I have made a good livelihood teaching the value of slow negatives in strength training.

Sir, Yes Sir…

Scott would go on the enlist in the United States Marine Corps, and have an excellent career. Now retired, Scott and his wife live in Las Vegas where he continues to powerlift and train with weights regularly. Through social media, Scott and I reconnected a few years back and I am grateful.

Nearly 40 years after he took me to the 20th Street Gym, and decades after he taught me about Doug Young’s slow bench press style, I can say Scott’s presence in my life has impacted me more, and steered the direction of my life more than any other influence.

Fingerprinting…

We are the sum of many influences; from the date and zip code of our birth, to who we meet and when we meet them. Whether we realize it or not, we are guided through life by the presence of others. I’m certain Scott will read this, though I’m pretty sure he’s had no idea how much his presence influenced my life.

As we are guided by the influence of others, we should care to remember that we also do a fair bit influencing – of leaving our own marks on others wherever we may go. I know the fingerprints I have left behind haven’t always been clean, but I try hard these days, to be cautious when I touch the lives of anyone else. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Bad Company – one more fingerprint Scott left on my life. Enjoy…