From personal experience, I can tell you this list is essential to a productive, long term professional relationship.
Since my last post [forever ago in the context of instant and immediate everything], I have been immersed in a new book project that’s drawn most of my available energy, which was already in short supply after coming down with the flu this past December. My particular strain has its own designation, H3N2. Some on the Internet tell me it’s an interstellar bug that escaped government protection, while others claim the government manufactured it to use on millennials. Either way, the shit got loose and found a home in a Baby-Boomer.
The lingering effects are legion: Fatigue, weakness, low appetite, cough, airway irritation that affects how long you can be active, loss of sense of smell [which in rare cases becomes permanent], and, in my case, you can tack on paranoia, depression, nightmares and mild dissociative states…among others.
Anyway, once the worst of it had passed, my idea was to take things slowly, not try to rush back to the gym until my stamina was rebuilt. At this writing, however, I’m still waiting.
When I was 23 the flu was an abstraction. I got sick, hung out at home, healed in three days, and met friends out for celebratory drinks. I won. There were no extenuating circumstances, no complications, nothing I gave much consideration to because none of it was particularly relevant. Nobody died back then, at least not until they were too old to live, which was fine since we all agreed that growing that old was like experiencing death in slow motion.
Now I see the extenuating circumstances, the potential for complications, and the shorter life expectancy in real time.
Having run down all of this down with you, I’m not dying. I didn’t contract cancer or have a stroke or brain aneurism or spinal injury. I got the flu and developed psychiatric problems from extended exposure to Webmd.com.
The point in all of this is that at this stage of life you’re in a steady state of low-level paranoia, coupled with reflection and denial. Put another way, what’s reflected is usually denied. So you have to come to a place of acceptance, which requires decades of therapy.
You’re no longer physically beautiful, unless of course, you’re Robert Plant, which you’re not. And death is closer than ever, virus or no virus. Your sense of relevance is constantly under siege no matter what you did to become the person you are which, like I said, is closer to death. For many of you this is the end of mental health, especially you guys on the precipice of 50 squeezing out that last hurrah before staring down the barrel of aesthetic annihilation. One steroid shot after the next, week after week, in tandem with the endless runs, swims, bike rides and weight training sessions that collectively earn one that bronzed wrap, star white teeth and endless string of broken marriages, all in favor of the drug of self. Your time is around the corner. Buckle up.
So here I am, starting the New Year with a bang. In truth, I have nothing to bitch about that doesn’t embarrass me. I have financial security, a family of animals…and a wonderful, loving and reasonably sane woman half my age that puts up with me. What’s not to love?
In this spirit, my blog posts begin anew for 2018.
MORALS OF THE STORY
1] Money does, in fact, buy happiness as long as you’re physically healthy, which money enables you to maintain.
2] Psychiatry is a noble profession.
3] Looks fade, but not heart. In this sense, relevance is eternal.
In fact, left to our own devices, we’d be dead by 40, either from a heart attack, a diabetic coma … or drug overdose.
Because we’re social beings that require back-up from others of our species.
Notice that women who are married to fat men tend to be fat themselves.
But when one or the other gets in shape, an affair ends the relationship.
When in-shape couples marry it is implicit in their vows that they remain as close as possible to the people they were the day they said “I do.”
See, “I do” denotes certain guidelines that don’t usually appear in the marriage contracts
They are as follows:
1] “I do” agree to stay in great shape as I know the reason my husband chose to be with me is, in large part, because of my appearance, and furthermore, the fatter I get the more he feels disrespected – and resentful. Thus, we both agree that neither of us will be disrespectful of the other. The only exceptions involve illness or pregnancy.
2] Everyone knows that the moment divorce papers are filed, both parties will be back in the gym in a heartbeat in order to attract the best candidate available. This alone speaks volumes.
3] No matter what, women, in particular, are objects first, as they are well aware. They must maintain their appearance to within a stone’s throw of their original form or face the consequences, which also applies to men in some cases.
4] Fitness-minded people tend to spend the lion’s share of their time in the company of others like them. When they don’t, the results are, at the very least, suggestive.
5] Never believe that love trumps fat. It doesn’t. In fact, excessive fat is the leading cause of divorce, not money – though it’s close.
Most 60-year-old guys are not replicas of what they were at 25 no matter how in-shape they are … unless of course, they’re on pharmaceutical steroids.
The fact that an astonishing number of them are [on steroids] has changed the dynamic of gym life these days.
Now, working hard is no longer a necessity in order to bleed body-fat and gain lean muscle mass.
You’re a simple injection away from eating whatever you want and spending a fraction of the time in the gym.
Of course, getting most men to admit to taking steroids is another matter altogether because no one wants to feel dismissed for cheating.
Yes, it’s true, most older men can’t put on all that mass and drop precipitous amounts of body fat by the grace of God.
No, it’s actually the grace of Big Pharma.
It took a while for the gay community to come out of the closet, and this is no different.
Coming from someone who has handled the aging process about as well as a chicken about to be thrown into a jet turbine to test its ability to vaporize it without stalling, you will disintegrate to one degree or another no matter how much you spend, how much you do, or how much genetics are in your camp.
Live the perfect stress-free life, visit Aspen every 5 minutes, get daily massages, mud packs, holistic body treatments, facial fillers, Botox injections, face lifts, collagen, but no matter what you do, you can’t beat the shit out of time.
The best you can do is look better than your neighbors, which is something you can always count on at HOA meetings no matter how depressed you are about everything else.
Aside from the aforementioned obvious, there is a deeply psychological consequence of aging in we men that involves our primal role as protectors.
In short [because I know you don’t want to read a psych lecture], when men begin to feel physically challenged, their self-esteem hits the floor. And even when we are in exemplary condition for our age, we are always and forever looking back at where we once were. It’s inevitable. We all do it. And we all feel like crap about it no matter how much we are still able to do.
But there are a few things we can do to put an end to the misery, or, at least, hold it in abeyance while we get back into therapy.
Here they are:
1] Try to feel optimistic about aging.
Yea, right. There is nothing to look forward to about aging. Nothing. You’re just here. The best you can do is make the most of what’s left. So no, I’m not a fan of being older.
Is there any good news?
There is some:
a] You get into fewer fistfights because younger men don’t consider you an equal match anymore than they do women.
b] You have more money, so you can buy women who would not otherwise date you.
c] People hold the door for you unlike the old days when they let it slam you in the face.
d] There are planned communities filled with people your age, and with beach views.
e] You get prescription drug discounts.
f] People tell you how great you look when it’s not true.
g] Young people look at you like you’re completely insane when you talk to them, but they still allow you to do it because they’re no longer afraid of you.
h] The first person police question are the young adults.
i] Nobody expects much of you in the gym, so when you are reasonably competitive you get more kudos than you can count.
j] Forgetting your own phone number is considered normal, and therefore, will not affect you job prospects since you’re not applying.
2] Avoid “senior moment” traps at all cost.
Never discuss your minor health issues to anyone but your physician or personal trainer. No one else your age wants to be reminded of where they are, and younger people dismiss you as irrelevant. It’s their way of squashing what they consider to be an existential threat, mainly because it is.
Instead, allude to what you’ve accomplished in your life and what your next adventure will be.
3] Have your affairs in order, but don’t bring this up in casual conversation under any circumstances, including all of them.
One guy in my gym started talking about his living will and suddenly he had no one to talk to. Still doesn’t.
4] Understand and embrace technology.
Frankly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t understand technology other than people in their 80’s. This is an even greater reason to make sure you are still of this world.
5] Ignore people will call you out on your age.
You’re going to get this at some point or another — the ribbing about where you are versus where you once were. Ignore it. Move on.
Getting upset about it will validate everything they just said.
Their time is coming.
6] There’s a “fountain of youth” clinic on every street corner [you best avoid].
You’re vulnerable, too hopeful for your own good. And for every soft target there are predators waiting to pounce on your insecurities.
My advice is to find a great Internist, stay in the best shape of your life, and keep your expectations in check.
If you check too many boxes you’ll start experiencing life through the eyes of a once great athlete who thinks he has another season in him, even if no one else thinks so, including his coaches and physicians.
when i allow it to be
there’s no control over me
i have my fears
but they do not have me
Peter Gabriel, Darkness
“Flatter flatter flatter!”
I was struggling through an endless series of speed bumps to nowhere that I medicated into oblivion through fleeting relationships and, still people clapped.
Of course, I was young and handsome and well spoken, and therefore, “in demand” as such things go.
These assets alone eclipsed whatever was absent everywhere else, as evidenced in the hostess-CEO paradigm.
So like others of my kind, I let the endorphin rushes fuel fantasies of where my new encounters might lead…night after night after night.
But as time passed and my career grew, I found that I needed more tangible affirmation in order to maintain self-esteem.
I was getting older and youth was no longer the hook. So what was?
It had to come from within, but how? as the need for external affirmation felt like an addiction to painkillers?
Where was that now lost screw that kept the joints rattling?
I was becoming unhinged.
Then, in my mid 50’s, I started coming out of it.
I was one of the lucky ones, as others around me lost everything to time, desperate moves and bad luck.
As cliché as it sounds, I began to find meaning in sharing my life with someone else, and everything else started to fade.
I started to find that going back to the social till bled a little more of me, leaving me empty and unfulfilled.
While I still appreciated public acknowledgement of my work, I saw it all very differently, as simple self-expression, a way of working through issues in my life, rather than a veiled quest for self-aggrandizement.
I know that for the most part, praise is just posturing, something people feel compelled to express in a particular social context.
But what really mattered to them was money and power.
Even when they are genuinely impressed with an artist’s work, their feelings are ephemeral, fleeting and largely meaningless.
They will move on to the next cocktail function, cherry-pick another item of interest, and on it will go, forever.
In the end, no one really cares unless they receive something of equal measure.
For most it’s the public acknowledgement that they are of powerful social standing, transcendent of art.
In their minds, they are the bedrock, the unassailable…oligarchs of an otherwise trivial world.
Of course, challenges do arise [to my great amusement], particularly when such people are in the company of the equally rich and very famous.
I love all the fraying at the edges of vanity as they maneuver themselves back into the ring.
We all find our niches in the world, places that affirm us, reflect our standings and values, that don’t obliterate our self-esteem.
I live in a neighborhood of my peers, and spend time socializing with people who, for the most part, share my values, beliefs and social standing.
I no longer need or want anything from anyone else.
I’m not here to take, but to share.
I have already paid my dues many times over and no longer walk into a situation with my hands out.
If people like what they see, if it has some meaning for them, great.
Either way, I am no longer willing to sell myself for anyone’s approval.
Socialites do what they do for personal gain.
Whether it’s Look at me, how wealthy I am, how extravagant my clothing, how elite my connections…or…How the hell do I get into this club so I can move out of my apartment, it’s a game I’m no longer willing to play.
For those of you who wish to gain access to the right parties, hosted by the right people with an eye on their bank accounts, you know where to go and what to do.
Bullet Points of Interest:
1] People tend to do what they do for personal gain, even when they are the ones “giving.”
2] Nothing is ever free, even when people are throwing something at you.
3] Life is about checks and balances, usually literally.
4] People you like are usually those you’ve vetted over time, not people you meet at cocktail functions.
5] Fund raisers are usually a subtle dance around who’s got the biggest “dick,” both men and women.
6] Hanger’s on are like sous-chefs waiting for the big dog to fall into a vat of boiling grease.
7] Art is worth nothing to most people unless Christie’s auctions it.
8] Opportunism is gaining access to something you can’t find within yourself.
9] Everyone uses everyone for everything on some level, even if it’s a good laugh. So it’s all about levels.
10] While socialites serve a useful purpose in society, nobody cares who they are if they’re not raining money.
Venting is cathartic. It’s why I write and shoot pictures.
DISCLAIMER: I am neither nutritionist nor food guru. The comments below are based upon my own personal experiences and are not meant to replace a visit to your internist or psychiatrist.
We all know by now that Hollywood celebrities hold the key to preternatural youth.
Okay. That was complete bullshit.
Let me rephrase it: We all know by now that Adobe’s Photoshop program is largely responsible for what appears to be preternatural youth in celebrities.
Just meet one of them in person and watch the media’s version of reality crumble.
See #urbandystrophy, the book, on Media vs Reality.
Okay, so any of you interested in avoiding the “wellness clinic” trap of endless pharmaceuticals, here are a few alternatives that might save your actual life.
1] Eat fat!
I know you anorexics equate fat with devil worship, but bear with me.
Dietary fat is actually one of the most critical players when it comes to optimizing natural testosterone production. Long gone are the days when we associate fat with heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels. Now it’s now recognized as a sure way to increase testosterone levels.
In fact, a study published in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” found that diets with higher amounts of monounsaturated and saturated fats have been shown to increase testosterone levels.
In another study, men who switched from a high-fat diet (13 percent saturated fat) to a low-fat diet (5 percent saturated fat) experienced significantly lower testosterone production rates, and lower circulating androgen levels.
“Keep in mind that when it comes to dietary fat, it’s not just the amount of fat you eat, but also the type of fat,” says Don Gauvreau, MSc, co-founder PharmaFreak .
2] Don’t avoid cholesterol!
Testosterone is derived from cholesterol, so if your diet is lacking in cholesterol, you’re also shortchanging yourself when it comes to the muscle-building hormone.
For example, incorporating whole eggs into a moderately carbohydrate-restricted diet was shown to improve the lipoprotein profile (increased HDL cholesterol) and reduce insulin resistance in individuals with metabolic syndrome, a constellation of health issues that includes hypertension, abnormally high blood glucose, and other risk factors for heart disease.
The best choices are red meat, egg yolks, and seafood such as shrimp, squid, and lobster.
Whole eggs are a staple in my diet. I usually have one or two with another 4 eggwhites each morning.
Oh, and it tastes better as you already know but continue to deny for the sake of your health.
3] Consume testosterone-boosting ingredients
First, get a blood test.
When the results are in, your Internist will tell you whether or not your testosterone levels are low.
If so, he or she may prescribe testosterone.
As for “actual testosterone-boosting ingredients,” there aren’t any.
Having said this, “natural” bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts the world over will talk you blue in the face about Testofen [Fenugreek Extract], Zinc, D-Aspartic Acid [DAA], Vitamin D, and Diindolylmethane [DIM], among others.
Again, first the blood test, second the discussion with said Internist.
4] High-intensity interval training [HIIT]
Excessive aerobic endurance activities like marathon running, hours in the pool and 6 hours a day of biking will decrease testosterone levels, increase cortisol production, weaken the immune system, and handicap strength gains. No wonder these three are the anorexic’s drugs of choice.
With this in mind, I suggest you consider HIIT, a training concept in which low to moderate intensity intervals are alternated with high intensity intervals.
In research, HIIT has been shown to burn adipose tissue far more effectively than low-intensity exercise – up to 50% more efficiently, and has also been shown to speed up your metabolism which helps burn more calories throughout the day.
It also boosts testosterone and HGH levels in your body, according to study after study.
If you’re still confused, ask a qualified personal trainer to explain it.
5] Limit your training session to an hour
If you’re regularly engaging in lengthy, drawn-out workouts with long rest periods or excessive endurance exercise, your testosterone levels will take a hit!
More specifically, workouts lasting longer than about an hour begin to spike cortisol levels and subsequently decrease testosterone.
Additionally, research has demonstrated that a shorter rest period between sets (one minute versus three minutes) elicited higher acute hormonal responses following a bout of resistance training.
In order for you to maximize your testosterone response, keep your rest periods short and total workout time to 60 minutes or fewer.
6] If you don’t get enough rest, you’re screwed
Especially for you older guys, a lack of quality sleep will dramatically diminish the amount of testosterone your body produces, thereby reducing muscle growth and fat loss!
Research continue to demonstrate that the amount of sleep you get is associated with morning testosterone levels.
Researchers at the University of Chicago recorded the sleeping patterns of healthy men and found that participants’ testosterone levels increased the longer they slept.
I need at least 8 hours of sleep each night, with 9 being optimal. Anything less and I’m useless.
7] Keep stress to a minimum
The connection between stress and increased cortisol production are well documented.
But stress is also quite deadly. It’s side-effects are legion: Heart disease, digestive problems, sleep disorder, depression, weight problems, auto immune problems, skin conditions, like eczema…and on and on and on…
8] Eat healthy
All food groups, always, but avoid simple sugar.
It can damage your heart, promote belly fat, may be linked to cancer production – and cancer survival, has toxic effects on the liver, saps your brain power, and shortens your life.
So, like I said, avoid it like the plague.
9] Keep your daily drinking down to one or two glasses of wine
Requires no elaboration.
Of course, if your have the genetics of Keith Richards, it may in fact improve the quality and duration of your life.
10] Find a good lover
Just like any physical activity, sex is good for your heart.
Several studies have found that your risk of dying from a heart disease event, such as stroke or heart attack, goes down as the frequency of good orgasms increase.
Some of you will wonder what a bad orgasm is, but once you’ve had a good one you’ll appreciate the distinction.
I might also add, sex offers the same soothing effects of sugary comfort foods when it comes to reducing stress without killing you in the process.
Then there’s the better sleep, lower stress hormones, better moods, better complexion…even cancer prevention.
As for its testosterone boosting properties, both testosterone and estrogen levels experience a boost through regular sexual activity.
I dunno. It kinda’ sells itself…
And now for something completely different, here’s a Facebook link to “Fit Guys Over 50,” featuring ridiculously shredded men who are obvious testosterone users. Though they may be disciplined in their workouts, eating and recovery, they re just as disciplined in their injections.
Time to get real.
You’re only hearing half the story.
I know I know…no one can possibly stay in top shape without drugs. Blah blah blah. I’ve heard it a million times … and then some.
Obviously, I’ve heard a lot of bullshit in my life.
With this as background noise, I train at a health club filled with educated and successful older men and women who are in complete denial about anything involving aging.
Their motto is “If I can afford to avoid it, I’m all in.”
What they’re referring to is pharmaceutical grade testosterone, dispensed by a circle of multimillionaire physicians in Houston who know their clientele better than they know themselves, which is not saying much, but whatever. Life’s a food chain and somebody always loses even when they think they’re winning.
These physicians know that vanity is what drives this train, and by pandering to this affliction they acquire “lifers” who are patients until the day they die, which is usually sooner than later.
Death notwithstanding, it’s still a good business decision.
REASONS TO USE
The most common reasons people take these drugs are to acquire [and/or maintain] lean mass, build strength and acquire stamina – without having to beat the living crap out of themselves in the gym. If these are your goals, and side-effects are irrelevant given the fact that you’re only in it for the here and now, drugs are the way to go.
But what happens when a middle-aged man opts out of testosterone supplementation?
Does he fall apart?
Does his sex life automatically fail?
Does depression stomp him to oblivion?
Actually, none of the above.
Note: Some men do suffer from a medical condition known as hypogonadism, which requires treatment, including testosterone supplementation. Conditions known to cause hypogonadism are obesity, diabetes [type 2], liver or kidney disease, hormonal disorders or infections. In such patients, testosterone therapy is recommended. For everyone else, it’s recommended when they have the ability to pay for it.
If you want to stay fit, lean and strong without drugs, you will have to do the following without fail, which includes adjusting your expectations.
Have your blood drawn to determine your testosterone levels [Note: You may have to have the test run a couple of times to get a solid baseline].
After the results are in, your physician [if he’s reputable] will tell you whether or not you fall into the “normal” range. If so, he will NOT prescribe testosterone.
This particular step is bypassed altogether by less than scrupulous physicians who simply ask you how you feel.
If you say something along the lines of “I’ve been feeling a bit lethargic lately, or “My sex drive isn’t what it was at 17,” you get a scrip and designer syringe pouch.
Hire a personal trainer.
If you’re not a veteran gym rat, you’ll need help getting started. Even if you’ve spent the better part of your life under the iron, you’ll need someone to keep an eye on your form and to motivate you when you get down on yourself for not performing the way you did 30 years ago.
This is what you pay the big bucks for and why it’s worth it no matter how much it is.
Then tell your trainer exactly what your goals are so that he or she can tell you whether or not you’re out of your mind.
This is a crucial first step in any successful relationship as any psychiatrist will corroborate.
My regimen is 5 days on, two off.
Monday-Wednesday-Friday: Strength training weights and cross fit style movements.
I train – with my trainer – for an hour. Then I do stretching, rolling and abs on my own for another 30 minutes.
Tuesday-Thursday: Mixed cardio, stretching, and foam rolling for an hour, total.
So we’re talking about 6 1/2 to 7 hours a week of training. No big deal. Really.
Eating healthy is a pain in the ass, but the way it makes you look and feel more than make up for what it’s become: Fuel and nothing more. You can allow yourself a few indulgences here and there, but understand that whatever you take in you have to kick out.
Rest and Recovery
As most of us know too well, days off are usually depressing. The reason for this is simple: We don’t feel the highs.
In the absence of endorphin, our bodies feel sluggish.
Some describe it as blood like molasses.
This is normal, but over time you will be able to conquer your withdrawal symptoms, though I’ve yet to do it.
Understand that addiction is what it is for a reason.
This is one of the most difficult hurdles for anyone in the fitness game because it’s so nebulous.
In layman’s terms, balance means having a life outside of the gym.
It may involve spending time with family and friends, going to a museum, taking in a sporting event –– anything that doesn’t involve the gym or working out, including discussions about the gym or working out.
Note: Workout addicts find themselves unable to discuss anything that doesn’t involve working out because it’s their only frame of reference, and because discussing it while not actually doing it is better than nothing at all.
You will never look the way you did at 25, drugs or no drugs. Aging is a natural part of life. While many people think that we should all age backwards, I’ve yet to see anyone accomplish this.
The best we can do is find peace through the combination of acceptance and challenge.
As a Baby Boomer, I have to get real about where I am in life no matter how far outside the two standard deviations I may be.
I am still mortal, and no drugs are going to change it.
I could be leaner, veins spread out like a squid across my fat-depleted arms, abs and chest.
Some have described the look as something out of a Marvel Comic, which is where culture [and reality, in general] is headed within a certain demographic.
Some have postulated that Hollywood actors who appear to put on massive amounts of muscle for their movies in a very short amount of time are able to accomplish this through extreme diet and lighting. But i can absolutely, positively assure you that for anyone over the age of 50, putting on that much lean mass while losing weight is impossible without help from your local pharmacy.
Some unpleasant facts:
“[Successful] Men do not give a crap how successful a woman is. This is why you see very successful men marrying bartenders, flight attendants, and spin class instructors. What do we call the very tiny percentage of men who do care? Gold-diggers.
Women do care how successful a man is. This does not make them gold-diggers, unlike men who feel the same way.
These two basics mean this: (1) The more successful a man becomes, the greater his choices are when it comes to women, since he can date any level of successful woman, and (2) the more successful a woman becomes, the lesser her choices are when it comes to men, since she wants to date a man at least close to her in success.
A successful man can choose from you and a billion other women, and as a successful woman, you can only choose from less than 1% of men.
Men love very feminine women, and often equate successful women’s “power” with masculine energy, much as most men see female bodybuilders as having the same. Is this fair? I don’t say. All is fair in love and war to the victor, and none to the vanquished. This is why you don’t find so many single “caregivers”—nurses, waitresses, child care workers, and so on.
How does a woman get around this? She marries in grad school or newly-minted. At that point, a man still sees her as feminine. They have kids, and bind/bond together. Some of these relationships last even when the woman develops that same powerful masculine energy, and some do not. Finding a non-gold-digging man, after developing this masculine energy, is almost impossible.
You need to understand that men are not “intimidated” by you and your friends. They are simply not attracted to you.
Finally, your comment that your single, successful male friends were “having too much fun” to marry says it all—even though I managed to “date” (read “sleep with”) plenty of beautiful girls and women, I was beyond thrilled to meet a woman my own age at 34—who I married—and find a best friend I respect to spend my life with. My life went from “having fun” to living life. We are childless by choice—”child-free”—and continue to travel on our voyage of creative projects and leisure.
You made choices, and you should accept them. Blaming men for being “intimidated” is bullshit. You have simply become someone that men don’t particularly want to hook up with, compared to a nurturing, feminine waitress.
Hope this helped and that you can accept a nice gold-digger into your life—there is NOTHING wrong with that. Men do it all the time, and find happiness.” Anonymous
To be fair, older men in the absence of money are in the same boat.
We both need something to sell.
Again, it’s all in Urban Dystrophy.
Three years ago my trainer stitched this together this little as a reminder to me that aging doesn’t always follow a predictable path, that it is possible to slow it all down — including the fading relevance older men often feel when they can no longer throw a baseball without looking like an ex-president during one of those ceremonial first pitches.
Life only wins when you fade, not when you die. j.r.