Tag Archive for fitness

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Ten years ago, if you told me to get up at 6am to go for a run, I would have laughed in your face.

Ten years ago, if I had told my friends or family I was going to get up at 6am to go for a run, they would have laughed in my face.

Yesterday, I got up at 6am and went for a run. The world did not end, the universe did not implode, the dead did not rise to feast on human flesh. More importantly, I didn’t die. Panted and wheezed? Sure. But die? No. I compounded it with 2.5 hours of karate class in the evening, with the last half hour devoted to Judo sparring. While I mangled my big toes on the judo mat, I have no lingering soreness from the added workload.

I suspect I’m finally getting into some semblance of shape. I still have quite a few pounds I’d like to drop, but looking back at my exercise logs I can see I’m getting in a workout more often than not. There are weeks I worked out every day, and never is there a gap for more than two days (with the exception of the weeks I was very sick — damn this winter!) without some form of a workout, be it calisthenics, karate practice or class, kobudo practice, or punching and kicking the bag. I feel better than I have since I was 19.

So I’ve got that going for me. Now if only I can figure out what to do about a proper hairstyle…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Plateaus

I hit a definite plateau in my weight loss recently, holding the same weight from late December through the middle of February. I thought I was going to have to start the running program before I saw any change, but then I got sick. That fever and infection knocked seven pounds off me in a week, and I’ve only gained one back since I started feeling better on Monday.

The good news is I didn’t let that plateau discourage me. I practiced my karate as often and as hard as ever, and I continued to set the same weight goal for January and February rather than trying to compromise and find a middle ground. Now that I feel better, I may up the intensity of those workouts and see if I can’t sweat a little more.

I expect the running program will be the next real breakthrough, though. I like that it’s simple and realistic, especially given that I normally hate running. I like how the goal is just to do it, not attach any kind of speed or time limit to it. That should help me burn some weight as well as build up my endurance for sparring matches and our more intense karate class workouts.

I’m also happy to report the same plateau didn’t hit my karate progress. I learned a new speed form that I struggled with at first. Given I spent all of last week on my ass, I worried I’d have some trouble with it again. Fortunately on Tuesday night, the first of two review nights this week, I was able to bang it right out on request, and I nailed it the first time through. Same goes for the two new Judo throws I had to demonstrate. Not too shabby.

Tonight’s the second review, and I’ll finish it by interpreting my kata, Anaku, and doing some form sparring. I’ve been reviewing the interpretation in my head most of the day, so I should do fine. If all goes well, I’ll make my next belt in April.

If anything demonstrates I’m not stuck on a plateau, I would think a new belt would be it.

This weekend I buy some new running shoes for the running program. The high school staff at the district I work for surprised me with a Visa gift card, so I’ll be taking that to the local Dick’s to grab a pair of Nike+ shoes and the Nike+iPod transmitter.

As soon as the warmer weather hits, I hit the track.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Need for a New Maxim

Is anyone else sick of “No pain, no gain!”

I thought that died in the early nineties, but occasionally I’ll hear it pop up again. In most cases it’s at a gym or similar workout setting, and it always makes me think of some steroided-out musclehead getting in someone’s face, thinking it’s going to pump them up. It works for other steroided-out muscleheads, but the rest of us just want to reach for a towel and wipe the guy’s spittle off our face.

Not to mention the idea of pain makes Average Joe all the more reluctant to get off his duff and start working out. It’s exactly what makes a lot of people say “To Hell with this! I’ll eat what I want and die happy.”

There is truth in the quote, though. It comes from Nietzsche’s “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” In fitness, if you’re not getting outside your comfort level, you’re not doing yourself any favors. You need to get outside of that comfort zone, to force your body to adapt to new levels of activity, if you want to see any improvement.

Working on the stretching machine in karate class last night, however, it occurred to me there’s a fine line between discomfort and pain. When I cranked the machine out to the point my legs were just a bit tight, I was at still in my natural range of motion (albeit the limit of that range). I can already do it, so stopping there isn’t going to make me any more flexible or get my kicks any higher. I cranked the machine a bit further and I started to feel a strong pull. It was uncomfortable, and sure, a little painful, but bearable.

It was outside the comfort zone, and a sign I’m pushing for a new limit. Now I’ve got something to adapt to, without it being so unbearable that I want to quit. On this machine, we start at that point, stretch, and then we crank the machine another notch and do it again.

The machine has a handy measurement of the angle of your legs. As I pushed for that third click, I was fine halfway through. When it clicked into place, though, I had a jolt of pain and let out a grunt. It would appear 125 degrees is my absolute limit at the moment, and if I had started there I have no doubt I would never want to put my ass in that machine again. It’s not going to do me any good if I’m afraid to use it.

So I propose a new maxim:

“If you’re not feeling it, you’re not fixing it.”

There’s no reason to be in pain. But if you’re not breathing heavy or working up a good sweat while you’re working, you’re not going to change anything. If you’re not sore in the morning — I’m talking discomfort, not in pain so terrible you can’t move — your body’s not adapting.

Get out there and feel it. Find your limits and exceed them, without killing yourself.

I hope I can remember that when I start that 5k run program next month…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

A Year in Pictures

What a difference a year makes.

Despite falling behind on my 52 Weeks Flickr group contributions, I now have an entire year’s worth of self portraits in my 52 Weeks set. Sure, I’ve got 8 more to post, but time-wise there’s a year in there and it’s neat looking back and seeing if things have changed at all.

For example, there was my beardless phase, which I recently abandoned:

The Yin and the Yang

Not to mention the time I busted my head in Pennsylvania:

Home Lobotomy

Yeah, good times.

I can also play the then-and-now game. The following picture was taken in March, shortly after I joined the Academy of Okinawan Karate:

Academy of Okinawan Karate

Compare it to the picture I took just last night:

American Karateka

Higher rank, better gi, looking a little leaner… not too shabby.

A year goes by quick, but as we’re experiencing it, we don’t always see the big changes. I’m glad I participated. It’s kind of a pain to remember to take the pics and keep on top of dumping the pics to the computer and then uploading them to Flickr, but I’m tempted to do it again this year.

I really don’t know how the 365 Days folks do it, though. I’d almost have to cop out and use cell phone pics to post directly to Flickr. I’m sure my cellular provider would love me for that…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

2008: The Year to Come

It’s been an interesting start to the year already, but there’s a lot on the horizon.

For starters, Muy Mal is officially back, complete with a rockin’ new look provided by Russ Dickerson. John and Weston have already posted their first contributions and mine won’t be far behind. I’ll be wrapping up Down Vendetta Road and sometime this Spring I’ll tackle the next volume of Bastard Precinct. Our plan is to tie up all the loose ends on the site by June.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got two book releases due. The German edition of Deadliest of the Species, Das Tödliche Geschlecht, will be released soon, and I’m writing a novella to go on the back of a second book that I’ll be able to announce soon.

I’ve signed the signature sheets for both In Laymon’s Terms and Brimstone Turnpike, so we should finally see them on the market. It’s been so long for both of them that I’m a little worried they will no longer be representative of my current writing style (especially In Laymon’s Terms), but that’s just part of the business. I dug around, and it turns out I was hoping to see the release of both books at least three years ago. Argh. ILT contains a short story and Brimstone has a novella.

I actually made progress on the To Fight With Monsters front, completing To Confront the Enemy over the fall. To Rise from the Ashes is next, and the whole package will go to a publisher as soon as possible.

There’s a spark of interest in Powerless, which I’ve decided will be my next novel. I’ve written two other novels since Deadliest, but I’m really not happy with either and they’d just about have to be rewritten from the ground up. Given I’m more excited about Powerless and it needs the same amount of work, I may as well pour my concentration into it. At the moment, all I’ve written on it so far is printed and waiting for me to edit and reintroduce myself to. There’s at least one chapter that will be excised, one that will be chopped in half, and then I need to tweak the location and geography throughout.

Last week I sat down with a publisher and discussed several things. It’s too early to announce anything, but we had a great conversation and we’ll be getting together again soon. Our conversation includes Wounded Gods and at least one other project which I’ll slap with the working title The Shattered Man. I’m excited about the direction we’re headed in, and if it continues I’ll be talking a lot more about these projects soon.

That’s only the projects already lined up, of course. The next step is to build toward the future, to put together some more sales and make sure 2009 will look as promising as 2008 does.

On a personal note, I’ll be continuing my karate training. If I work hard, I could (and should) be a purple belt by the end of the year, which is two ranks from my current blue belt. I’m also going to try to attend more kendo classes at my school, and I may even explore aikido in the fall if a local community college continues to offer it.

I’ve officially changed the Fatty post category to Fitness. I think losing 30 pounds last year has earned me that much. This year I’m setting a smaller goal to cut 20 more. When the weather warms up, I’m going to try to motivate myself to try the Couch-to-5K-Running Plan. It’s a long shot because I hate running, but I’m realizing it’s the best way to both cut weight and improve cardiovascular health. I’m trying to think of it as a good way to improve my endurance for karate class and sparring matches, too.

I’m going to try — again — to do more with my camera. I consider myself an amateur photographer at best, but I really do enjoy taking and sharing pictures. I’ve still got a lot to learn about digital post-processing, so that’s one of the areas I’ll concentrate on this year. It’s also high time I start saving up for a good DSLR camera and dump my aging, point-and-shoot PowerShot G2. If I get active enough I’ll start a Photography category on this blog.

That about covers it. I’d say it’s more than enough to keep me busy this year, too.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

2007: Year in Review

If someone were to ask me how this year went, my first reaction would be to call it a write-off. Then I got to thinking about it, and it actually hasn’t been so bad after all. Let’s look back, shall we?

I started the year by selling the German rights to Deadliest of the Species to publisher Otherworld Verlag. The book was pitched to retailers this month, and it will see publication early next year under the title Das Tödliche Geschlecht. I followed that up over the summer with another book sale which I’m still asked to keep under my hat.

Restore from Backup, my novella collaboration with JF Gonzalez, was released from Bad Moon Books. The hardcovers sold out on preorder, but you can still get copies of the trade paperback.

Moonstone Books published The Phantom Chronicles, a prose anthology of Phantom tales including my short story “The Servants of Set”. Moonstone is also the publisher of my comic book Werewolves: Call of the Wild.

I received word today that In Delirium II is shipping. This anthology includes a reprint of “Crazy for You” by myself and Brian Keene. This story previously appeared in Crime Spree. The book doesn’t appear to be listed on the Horror Mall yet, but I imagine it will be up for order soon.

Finally, I attended two comic cons — one large and one small — and did signings at two comic shops. I sold enough comics to pay for the trip at the small comic con, and I was well satisfied with the results of the large con and the signings. I also had fun, and probably picked up a few new fans to boot.

I’d like to have accomplished more, of course, but I don’t feel I should be complaining.

In personal news, I joined the Academy of Okinawan Karate in March and started studying Shuri-ryu, a style of karate. I climbed the ranks from white belt through yellow and to blue belt, and I’ve learned a lot of cool things. Between classes and home exercise, I’ve managed to lose 30 pounds and I feel better than I have in years. I’d have to say that’s the best accomplishment of the year. My class and workout schedule may have put a dent in my writing productivity, but I feel like my health improvements will keep me writing for years to come.

I joined an active Flickr photo group called 52 Weeks, where users post a picture a week for a year. I did fine for a while, but the last few months I’ve fallen way behind. I would like to have posted an honest week 1 and week 52 pic right now, but it’ll have to be off a little bit. You can, however, see my contributions so far right here.

Finally, I expanded my computing horizons by picking up a MacBook at work. I’m sure I’ll be talking more about it in the future (and I’m writing this post on it now), but this gets me closer to being a triple threat in desktop computing.

There are a few things I wish I’d accomplished or wish I’d done better, but hey, that’s what next year is for. Overall, I’m content to call 2007 a win.

Onward and upward.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Wheezy No More

Feeling much better now. Karate class went well yesterday, and at the moment I’m taking a break from a last-ditch workout in hopes of hitting this month’s weight goal tomorrow morning. The burn and wheeze is gone from my chest, and while I’m feeling a bit winded after the first half hour tonight, I’m not sure I’m any more winded than usual.

Now that I’ve gotten over my pneumonia, I found out my aunt has developed it. She’s not in the best of health as is, so they’ve got her hooked up to oxygen in an intensive care unit. We’re told she’s responding to treatment, but it’s a strong demonstration of the difference good health in general can make when an illness hits. I feel fortunate that I’ve managed to get off my ass and do something about my own health this year.

Tomorrow’s a big and busy day. Time to finish this workout and then get some rest.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Big Loser

The Biggest Loser contest at work is going much better this time around. I’ve cut 3.5% of my body weight since we started, and we’ve got two more weeks to go. A lot of people haven’t been weighing in so I don’t know how my team is doing, but there are a lot of people grumbling about not losing anything so hopefully I’ll at least win my money back on this.

I’ve now lost 32 pounds since I started studying Shuri-ryu with the Academy of Okinawan Karate. Next week I’ll have been at it for nine months, and I will likely earn my blue belt. I’m celebrating both milestones by buying my Xmas present early: a sturdy, 14-ounce cotton gi to replace the ghetto gi the school issues for free. A seamstress co-worker altered the sleeves and pants for me and I can’t wait to try it out tonight. (I rolled the cuffs and practiced in it Tuesday night. The sleeves held, but the pants came loose with kicking and were a nuisance.) If this continues another year, I hope to be able to purchase a gi according to my height and still have it fit my torso properly. The sleeves may still need to be altered for my stubby arms, but hopefully not near as much.

Jeans are almost as difficult to fit. This week, however, I learned I’m just about down another pant size. The legs and seat fit fine in relaxed fit, but the waist is just a hair too snug. I imagine they’ll fit by Xmas at the rate I’m going, and I’ll probably be replacing yet another belt at the same time. I’ve even had to tighten my watch, and my wedding band is easier than ever to take off.

A friend of mine likes to joke that I’m wasting away. I don’t see any danger of that happening anytime soon, but the difference is becoming more and more obvious. Lesson learned: whatever gets you off your ass and keeps you moving is a good thing.

If I can do it, anyone can.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Never Too Old

When I first started thinking about joining karate with my son, I wondered if I was too old.

I am not.

After I joined, a couple of people asked if I was too old to start learning karate.

I am not.

Today I read a 50-year-old man named Walter Miyanari just earned his black belt. The writer believes Mr. Miyanari started is training at age 44.

That’s impressive. It’s also a good reminder you’re only as old as you feel. Right, Cullen? Right, Brian?

A woman just joined my karate school this summer at age 49. Like Mr. Miyanari, she joined her daughter on the mat. There are two other dads who come to the dojo to watch their sons, and they’ve been thinking about signing up. They’re a little older than I, and feel too old and out of shape. Maybe this article will give them a little more incentive.

John once told me a 60-some year old joined his kung fu school. I know you’re out there, John: was he new to martial arts, and do you have any idea how he’s doing?

If I can do it, if they can do it, we all can do it. Even if it’s not martial arts, get up and move while you still can!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

In for the Long Haul

Future Black Belt

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.


Tonight I joined my dojo’s Black Belt Club. This means I’m making a commitment to earn my black belt, and I’ll get to attend some extra workouts to get help toward that goal.

It’s a longer contract, but after thinking about it for a few weeks I’ve decided that just means I’m far less likely to wuss out halfway through this. I have really enjoyed my Shuri-ryu training so far, it’s definitely helped toward getting in shape, and my enthusiasm has only increased with each stripe and rank I earn. I also enjoy being in class, and I’ve made some friends there. I’ve felt I’m in it for the long haul for some time now, and tonight I’ve made that firm.

When I first started talking to my sensei about Black Belt Club, it was hard to picture myself that far down the road. The black belt itself is a long ways off. Longer, even, than the end of this new contract. Now that I’ve signed the paper and I’ve got this patch in my hot little hands, however, it’s a lot easier to visualize that belt.

It’s going to one hell of a ride.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Sudden Realization

The other problem with slow weight loss is you don’t see the differences right off. Maybe you start to notice your clothes fit loosely, or you compare some numbers if you’ve been keeping track of your weight for any length of time, but there’s rarely a WOW! moment.

I had one today today.

The daylight savings change was like a switch for many things. One week it’s cool but not cold, and the sun’s still up into the evening. Then the time changed and the Wife and I are busting out the kids’ winter jackets and talking about sealing up all the windows. The sun’s gone shortly after 5pm.

I haven’t been cold walking to work, but yesterday the winds kicked up and cut right through my zip-up hoodie. I broke down and got out my own winter jacket. Halfway to work today, I zipped it up, and was blown away by how much extra room I had. Last year, if I zipped up the jacket it fit snug across my belly. It wasn’t tight like the year before, but it was right there.

Today I was able to grab a big handful of the front and tighten it up. I may not have been swimming in the jacket, but I had inches to spare.

Now that’s progress. The BMI calculations say I’ve got a ways to go, but even if I was convinced BMI was in any way definitive (I don’t think it accounts for muscle), I wouldn’t let it bring me down.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Heeding My Own Advice

My Yoda

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.


The wife read yesterday’s blog post and says I’m full of crap. She then challenged me to try it myself.

So I did. At lunchtime, I tossed the Squirt up on my shoulders and did some karate. The Wife snapped this pic.

Two moves later, Squirt started screaming “I’m falling!” and decided my eye sockets made perfect handgrips.

The Wife touted it as proof of a bad idea.

Bah. It just needs a modification: a proper baby-carrier backpack.

I wonder if Men’s Health would be interested in a “Yoda Workout” article…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.