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viking fat

i am VIKING FAT.
yes, i said, “viking fat.”

.

i’ve been fat, well, almost all of my life.  starting in fifth grade my mom quit her job to stay home after the birth of my youngest sister.  i would come home from school to the smell of homemade cookies, cakes, etc.  within a few months i was shopping for clothes at sears or montgomery wards and had been officially relegated to the ‘husky’ section for boys.  ugh.

that was the beginning and my life has pretty much continued down that path for the last 30+ years.  it’s always bothered me, but never enough to do all the work necessary to become skinny. don’t get me wrong, i still tried the occasional 2-week to 6-month diet and/or exercise routines, but never stuck with them.  i used all sorts of things as excuses over the years, too.  things like …

i hated the ‘husky’ section

  • it’s too hard to work out all the time
  • i like food too much
  • i don’t have enough time
  • it’s too hot to do any exercise
  • it’s boring to work out by yourself
  • it’s too cold to do any exercise
  • i just don’t feel like it
  • i would if it didn’t feel so much  like work
  • the weathers too perfect to do any exercise
  • i’d have to work out too much to make up for that gallon of ice cream i just ate
  • if i ever needed to, i could last for years on chemo because of my fat

but now i’ve heard this latest description of me, it makes me want to embrace my chunky ninja self.  viking fat.  i like it.  and no, i didn’t give myself that description.  one of my KG cohorts did.

at first, being sensitive to my apparent fatness for the last third of a century, i asked for an explanation.  so he ‘splained …

“dude, some people are what i call ‘powder puff’ fat.  they’ve got the weight, but it’s all soft.  no muscle there.  you’re not powder puff.  you’re like freaky strong in your arms and chest.  you’re a big guy, but you’ve got a lot of muscle behind it.  you’re like viking fat.”

then i thought of my perception of the vikings (not the football team) and visuals like Liam Neeson in Rob Roy, Mel Gibson in Braveheart, Russell Crowe in Gladiator, or Gerard Butler in 300.  now before you quickly correct me, i’m well aware none of these characters were vikings, but they were all skilled warriors who fought with great passion and heart.  so take these characters and add a horned helmet and a beard and that’s the image in my mind — kinda like the modern-day biker gang

the inside of my cranium

truth be told, while i do like the ‘viking fat’ label (as opposed to powder puff, jelly soft, marshmallow, and fluffy), i don’t want to stay here.  i’ve been more consistent at losing weight (or inches) than i have at any other time in my life.  i know i could work harder at it and become obsessive about what i eat and how hard i’m working, but i also know that i’d quit pretty quickly if i did.  it’s just how i’m wired.  but i am making progress and that’s what matters.

i’ve continued working my kenpo 4-6 hours per week. i also find myself thinking about techniques or general concepts more and more even if i’m not physically practicing my techniques.  all of this is leading up to an upcoming belt test.  a few of us have been given a bit of warning that the test is coming soon.  i’m guessing in the next month or so and i’m going to do whatever i can to be ready.  fortunately, my instructor is the one who gave us the ‘heads-up’ which means he must think we’re close to ready, too.  that always gives me a bit more confidence.

i’m continuing to ride my bike to also help prepare me for my ongoing kenpo life and to help get into better shape.  i can say i’ve gone from a 2x shirt to a 1x.  and i’ve gone down 2 inches in my waist.  so while i still look like a big guy, i’m gradually getting smaller and it’s proportionate which would make it less noticeable if you’re just looking at me.  but i know and can tell the difference in how i feel.

example: while i may still get winded sparring, it’s not nearly as fast and my recovery time is also quicker. (i’m still not a fan of sparring, but my instructor has started having us spar more and more.)

i don’t think i’ll ever be ‘skinny’.  ever.  but if i can reduce my overall size, have more wind, and make progress in this wonderful art, i will be satisfied.  hopefully soon i’ll be tying a purple belt around my waist and begin working on a news set of techniques and katas.

for now, i’m embracing the term ‘viking fat’.  where’s my helmet?

— chunky ninja

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keeping things in perspective

yesterday i took a look back at myself from just a few years ago.  it was scary.  it was sobering.  and i was able to realize that there has been a significant change in me over the last several years.  often we can’t see the forest for the trees.  and when i’m feeling down about where i’m at, these kind of moments are a pick-me-up.  take a look at the picture below.

the picture on the left is me in august of 2006.  this was taken just a few months after both of my parents passed away.  i don’t remember myself looking like that.  at all.  it’s scary for me to see just how bad i looked.  and to think how busy i still was makes it all the worse.  at that size and as active as i was coaching baseball, i could have had a heart attack!  i was eating for comfort … trying with all i could to eat away the pain of losing both my parents within two weeks of each other.  but in truth, it had started long before that.  you don’t jump right from 200 pounds to 300 in just four months.

the picture on the right is me, now.  this morning, in fact.  i’m still not skinny by anyone’s stretch of imagination.  but i’m over 60 pounds lighter and much healthier.  i started kenpo eighteen months ago.  and while the scales show only a 10 pound difference from the time i started kenpo until today, i’ve also dropped 5 inches from my waist, have tons more cardio and stamina, and generally feel pretty well.  i’ve also had my blood pressure medicine dropped to a quarter of what it was just two years ago.  so while not a significant weight loss, there has been some body re-shaping.

it’s not the great big jumps that i’ve always hoped would happen, but it is continual small steps towards better health.  the key in that last sentence was the word continual.  i’ve been consistent in working out, changing routines periodically, and eating less (if not better).

i’m working towards my purple belt and hope to have earned that by the end of this year.  but if it’s not this year … if its next year OR even the year after that, i’m ok.  it’s about hard work.  it’s about persistence. it’s about stepping back periodically to see that all the small goals are paying off in the long run.  seeing the forest instead of just the trees.  getting a wider scope — which is what was needed to take my picture of me six years ago.

i’m not where i want to be yet.  but with a bit of perspective, i’m on my way and have to keep the long-term goals in sight.  little by little i’ll eventually get little.  ok, little-er.

— chunky ninja

where did it go?

i was a ball of energy.  it used to drive my parents crazy.  i was always moving.  non-stop.  i can remember being a young kid i’d even wiggle my leg until i dozed off.  i’d sleep for a few hours, jump up, grab a t-shirt and shorts and back out the door. when it was long past dark my mom would be on the front porch calling out my name for me to come home.  then i’d repeat the process.  that was my childhood.  i was always on the go.

if i wasn’t riding my bike all over the place, i was playing football or baseball with the kids from the neighborhood.  during the summer, from sun-up to sun-down and beyond, i was on the move.

in my teens i traded in the bike for the car.  but everything else remained the same.  always going somewhere, always playing some sort of sport, always moving.  couldn’t and wouldn’t stand still.  no moss growing on my feet!

in my twenties i gave up my freedom for money.  you needed a job to get the money to pay for the car to take out the girlfriend.  the vicious cycle had begun.  we called it being grown up.  as the years went by, the energy level started drifting away.  time has a way of doing that.  eroding bit by bit until you look back at the last decade and wonder how it passed so fast.

the thirties went nearly as quick.  i had moved from playing baseball to coaching.  i was still on the go and still very active.  i was never one of those coaches that would stand on the side and just bark out instructions.  i was teaching.  i was out there showing.  doing.  when it came time for batting practice, i would throw until my arm would ache.  then two days later, do the same thing.  then two days later, the same thing again.  it’s no wonder my right shoulder is a mass of mush.  i never gave it time to heal because there was always another practice to run, more batting to do, more teaching.  the teams i coached played nearly year round.  we took December and January off.  then started everything up again.  three, four, sometimes five times a week.

my forties hit and so did the massive weight gain.  i had slowed, but my love for sugar didn’t.  at 42 i topped 300 pounds.  i broke out in a sweat just changing my mind.  i started walking, moving again, watching what i was eating (some).  the weight started coming off.  slowly.  but i noticed the older i got, the less energy i had.  and then 18 months ago i was “tricked” into trying kenpo.  my weight loss has leveled off.  i could push harder, but i’m tired.  i work out three times a week.  and after each one, i feel it for the next two or three days.  i’m almost 47 and i’m realizing my energy level is a quarter of what it once was.  it is intensely frustrating at times and then there are days like these.

today i just want to say, “i’m tired.  it’s not that i’m unable to do it.  it’s not that it’s beyond my ability.  i just don’t feel like doing it [fill in the blank to whatever “it” is].  so back off, find someone else, or just do it yourself.  but today, my answer for you is ‘no’.  instead of saying, “no moss”, i’m saying, “no mas”.”

but like that twenty-something kid who woke up one day realizing he had traded in his youth for responsibility, i’ll do what needs to be done.  not because i want to, but because i need to.  we don’t get the luxury of coasting just because we’re tired.  and it’s because we’re tired that we DO need to keep pushing ourselves.  and so today, i’ll push.  tomorrow is KG and i’ll push again.  thursday is class and i’ll push.  then saturday will be sparring day in McKinney and i’ll push.  then the next week will start all over again on sunday with another KG session.

i’m pushing because the alternative is to quit.  and i hate quitters.

— chunky ninja

this turkey is (over) COOKED

it happens once a year.  we get that special holiday that requires us to gorge ourselves for four straight days.  some people have discipline.  i’m NOT one of those.  i want to be.  i always say to myself, “THIS IS THE YEAR!” and the following Monday with, “THIS is my new diet.”

i’m talking about … thanksgiving.  a time when we come together with those closest to us.  our families, friends, and that strange relative that half the attendees point and whisper, “who is that guy over there?”  and that strange “uncle bill” will drink himself under the table before the Lions have had a chance to lose.

it’s intended to be a time of reflection and giving of thanks.  a time when we can look back at the blessings we’ve received both personally and as a nation.  yet it’s been (as long as i can remember) a time to push as much food into our pie-hole as possible.  it’s been taught to us all our lives.  “EAT, there’s more.”  even the most resilient find it difficult to say “no” to turkey, cornbread dressing, candied sweet potatoes, three-bean casseroles, cranberry sauce, dozens of rolls, dollops of butter, a full gravy boat of creamy goodness, and pumpkin pies with a mile of whip topping to cap off the first go-round.

this year i found myself in the same predicament (for the 46th time in my life).  after all, i didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by telling them ‘no’ when they asked me if i was ready for thirds.  i found myself in desperate need for two or three full heaping helpings of self-control.  but those didn’t look as good on my plate, so i overlooked them in lieu of some more fried turkey and grandma’s homemade coconut cream pie.

one of martial arts key components is discipline.  i’m wondering if that concept will ever take hold within me.  it’s not about others mandating what i can and can’t do.  i have a saying i picked up over the years (a quick google search didn’t find it’s origin either), but have tried to instill it into my kids.  it’s usually about behavior in public or in school, but maybe i need to apply it to my own habitual struggles:

“doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it’s always right.”

it’s about me doing the right thing because it’s right.  doing something because someone is making me do it is not real discipline.  it may be an outward force of discipline, but i’m looking for SELF discipline.

i used to laugh at myself and others who had unusual thanksgiving habits.  one of strangest i’d ever heard (and witnessed first hand) was from my best friend, mike.  he would mound his plate to overflowing.  then he’d eat it all as fast as he could so he could repeat the process.  by this time he’d be pretty full, but somehow knew he could cram more in there.  to do so, he’d grab a couple tablets of alka seltzer to “clear the gas bubbles” for more food.  then he’d manage to eat another plateful or two.  by the time the second Thanksgiving Day football game would start, he’d be ready for dessert.  i recently asked him about this and he said he had long forgotten those days.  somewhere he either developed some self-discipline or realized the public embarrassment of packing food in until you were ready to burst.

my own personal philosophy was, “no pain, no gain. eat until your back hurts.” and that’s just what i did.  i ate, and ate, and ate, and ate, and ate some more.  even after all that i had people coming to me and asking, “you are going back for some more, right?  there’s plenty out there.”  this morning the scale was scary.  let’s just say it’s a setback.

all this to say, i was thankful for the days away from work, but now the real work is ahead of me … losing what i’ve gained and then showing SELF DISCIPLINE for the next holiday.

thanksgiving and christmas are my favorite holidays due to the tremendously good food that’s served.  but i’m realizing it’s time for me to grow up instead of out.  it’s time for me to realize it’s ok to embrace the quirky character of chunky ninja, but not the shape of chunky ninja.

baptist preacher’s often say there’s a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge.  what i want to do is take this concept of self-discipline and move it from head knowledge to gut knowledge.  it would be like eating healthy because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.  fruits are good, no?

God give me strength.

— chunky ninja

weather or not

the kenpo garage is still a “no-go” for this week.  slowly its returning to its usable [read: tolerably usable] shape, but there is still much to do.  unfortunately, none of the stuff that clutters it is my own.  my daughter, the marine, has been working 60-80 hour weeks and hasn’t had time to really start going through and finding places to hide her stuff.  then there’s the washer and dryer that are in the middle of the KG and not in the middle of craig’s list.  but, in time, it will be back to the KG i need in my life. [side note: need a washer and dryer? contact me!]

it’s easy for me to come up with excuses.  i’ve done it all my life.  food’s too good.  working out is too hard.  trying to do the right thing with both at the same time takes too much discipline.

but i am determined to learn this art.  i often need to give myself a kick in the behind to do what needs to be done.  i let little things like a house that you can’t hardly walk in to prevent me from eating right.  instead, for the last four or five weeks, i’ve been eating a lot of take out.  then i start feeling bad about it and use ice cream to push down those pangs of guilt.

i’m still walking daily.  i’m still running the stairs at work (even though i don’t tweet it all the time).  and i’m still attending my kenpo classes.  it seems, right now, i’m half way in.  and looking at it like that, i’m ready to give myself a good swift kick in the pants.  unfortunately for me, my kicks still suck and it hardly motivates me.

so what DOES motivate me?  cooler weather.  i pushed myself hard during the heat of the summer.  this past summer wasn’t just hot, it was borderline ridiculous.  months with temperatures over 100.  weeks with temperatures in the 107+ area.  several days where it was 112-114.  evening temperatures that would drop into the upper 80’s before skyrocketing back up the next day.  there were even a few days where the temperature never dipped below 90 AT NIGHT!  the folks up north would be dropping over like snowmen in a microwave.

but over the last three weeks or so, cooler temperatures have returned.  i’m LOVING it.  we haven’t turned on the heat in the house yet and i’m not sure when i’ll be ready to.  even my beautiful mrs has gotten used to the cooler temperatures.  what does this have to do with kenpo?  well, nothing other than the fact i should be able to focus more on my training without the fear of dropping dead from heat stroke.  i just have to do it.

this coming thursday will mark one year of my martial arts training.  45 years of nothing and now one year of kenpo.  it’s been a fun ride.  i’m enjoying all i’m learning and have a great desire to continue on.  eventually, i’d like to start teaching it, but that’s years down the road.  so today, on a nice cool day, i’m going to go for a good walk, watch some kenpo videos on youtube, then go through my techniques and forms.  time to move into year two with a fresh, rejuvenated approach … work it!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

funny story (to me, anyway) on the way home from picking up my daughter last night after the high school football team.  no, she’s not a linebacker.  she’s in the color guard.  if you had asked me ten years ago which of my kids would have been on the football field on friday nights i would have gotten it wrong. my son, the six-foot, 230 pound, kid-with-the-golden-arm, opted to stay in baseball only and it’s my daughter (the youngest of the bunch) that is out there marching every friday.

anyway … my son and i picked her up from school and she says, “daddy, i think i’m having growing pains.”

without even blinking my son looks back at her and says, “it’s pronounced, GROIN.”  he cracks me up.

— chunky ninja

bob and weave

i’ve never been a boxer.  i haven’t been in a fight since i was 13.  that doesn’t mean i don’t appreciate a good fight.  as a kid i grew up watching muhammed ali and sugar ray leonard.  they were flashy and quick, talked the talk and backed it up.

"i think i broke his hand with my face, mick"

i loved the rocky movies.  there’s just something very cool about the underdog coming out and letting it all fly.  in the first movie, rocky used his face to block apollo creed’s punches.  he lost that fight.  in the third movie, creed trains rocky to beat clubber lang.  he teaches rocky to move his body, move his head, move his feet … bob and weave.

in my kenpo classes we’ve been working on combinations that also include moving my feet and ducking punches … to bob and weave.  i love working with focus pads even if i’m not sure what to do with my feet.

but for the last two weeks (actually slightly longer) my mind has been on a different kind of bob and weave.  it’s been the bob and weave required to get from the front door and then make a path through my house.

my daughter and granddaughter moved in with us.  their three bedroom apartment got crammed into our modest sized house.  suddenly our house seemed drastically tiny.  the kenpo garage is slammed with boxes, furniture, book cases, a washer and dryer, bags of clothes, and storage stuff.

the path it took to get through the room

on the inside of the house we started re-arranging rooms.  have you ever done a full move inside your own home?  we did.  it’s ridiculously frustrating.  as each room was emptied the contents were pulled into the living room while we did drywall repairs and painted the walls.  we’d finish one room and then move on to the next.

and with the dropping spot being the living room, it took tremendous amounts of bobbing and weaving just to get from the front door to the back. our home looked like a scary scene from the show “hoarders”.

my mind, my focus, has been on the disaster of my house rather than on kenpo.  my bob and weave only helped make my trek through my home instead of learning how to survive a fight.

fortunately, we’re nearing the end and i can re-focus on what i’ve been missing … kenpo.  the garage is still a wreck, but soon it will return as the kenpo garage.  i can hardly wait.

— chunky ninja

incrementally better, or maybe not, but probably

KENPO time

every class i attend i can see some improvement on skills i’ve already been working on.  then we’ll get some instruction on something i’ve never done before and i can’t seem to wrap my brain around it.  on tuesday we spent quite a bit of time working sparring combinations and drills.  then we moved into some non-technique-specific moves that required me to parry, cross-step, stance change all while striking in various places and keeping appropriate checks in place.  even typing that out i was having difficulty.  i think this weekend i’m going to practice chewing gum and walking at the same time [someone pick me up when i fall down, please].

we found out on tuesday we are moving back to one class per week (still two hours).  that simply means more Kenpo Garage time (with my instructor’s blessing).  several of us from class will continue our tuesday workouts, but move it from the dojo to my garage.  we don’t want to let up on working and improving.  we’re even going to invest in some real pads, mats, and i’m fully cleaning out the garage to make it more user-friendly for us.

i can tell a good class when i come away with some aches and pains.  i don’t want serious pains like my current finger injury, but i do want to know that i worked.  that’s what i had after tuesday with sufficient bruises and tender areas.  this morning my leg muscles were sore from a full night of kicking drills in thursday’s class.

i can assure your safety if i need to do a spinning-back-crescent-kick.  you’ll have nothing to fear.  when i’m done i’ll even lay right down for you to start stomping and kicking.  not intentionally, of course, but it’s just the way i end up — lightly tapping you and then falling straight to the ground.  and my kick is so weak all it will do is tick you off.

i’m beginning to think if i ever have to use my kenpo, i’ll be better off not trying to kick at all.  i’ll be more apt to stay on my feet and let my deadly elbows do some damage.

it's just a snack, brother

we ended the night with about a half hour of stomach and core work.  i’ve worked on my core for over 45 years.  trust me, you don’t get this kind of body by pushing the plate away.  i pride myself on my one sit-up per day routine … half in the morning and the other half at night.  so when my instructor decides we’re going to do some stomach work, i cringe.  and i know why he does it at the end of our workouts instead of at the beginning, too … he’s sadistic.  actually, it’s harder.  i realize that.  because we’re already tired, the work is harder and probably more beneficial.  but that doesn’t mean i have to like it or him at that moment.

what i did notice, though, was as weak as my three-time-hernia-operated stomach is, there is some strength improvement.  i can do more crunches, leg lifts, dying cockroaches, and other routines than i could before.  by jove, i think i’m on to something … working out is making me stronger!

not 13, but she scares me

so while my kicks are just as horribly bad as ever, there is improvement in technique.  while i’m still in shape, which round is a shape, i’m discovering strength i didn’t know i was developing.  and while i remain uncoördinated, with all the sparring training we’ve done, i may actually be able to defend myself against 13-year-old girls now.  trust me, though, i’ll still try to talk myself out of the fight first.

— chunky ninja

ketchup, please

it’s been a bit since my last post. i’ve been pretty busy trying to get over a stupid head cold that rolled in with the fall allergy season. it happens every year. the cooler air comes in and whips up some dried, decaying leaves that fell during the most recent, ridiculously hot summer. then my sinuses go into overdrive before pushing the gunk down into my lungs and giving me a monster cough that lasts a couple of weeks. it’s north texas, otherwise known as, the allergy capital of the U.S.

the one thing i noticed while hacking the last ten days was i can never remember the old saying. do you “feed a fever and starve a cold”? or do you “starve a fever and feed a cold”?

my approach is to feed a fever, feed a cold, feed a sprained finger, and even feed a stubbed toe. heck, i’ve been known to feed a hair cut if i felt it necessary. all that to say the last several weeks of brutal workouts that would crush normal folks, are now null and void. with my ultra slow metabolism, combined with nyquil and my inability to remember a stupid saying, i regained some weight. i’m still below my starting weight, but i lose pounds so slowly that the three i regained is like a five-week setback. ugh.

i missed two classes and one kenpo garage. but i’m starting to get my karate legs back under me and am ready to get back to my normal routines.

at the last kenpo garage i discovered that i’m NOT a weeble (though i do have their delightful, playful shape). again, vince (dude!) was helping me with my kicks. in super slow motion i was pivoting for a rear-leg, front snap kick. pivot my left foot, raise my right leg, hold it chambered, extend it and hold it, pull it back to chamber, set it back down.

on one of the stupid “holds” where my right leg was fully extended (and drooping towards the floor), i lost my balance. no big deal. i’ve always had good balance and reflexes. i quickly shifted my left foot to regain my balance, but i was too close to the heavy-bag stand in my garage. i stumbled over the stand, quickly bringing my right leg down and behind me to catch myself, only my top-heavy chunky ninja gut had already built up too much momentum.

my butt hit the floor and my head hit a ladder on the side of the garage. i didn’t hurt anything more than my pride. embarrassed, i quickly got up and looked at vince. his one word response said everything.

“seriously?”

ahh, it’s a new and fascinating art that i’m learning … how to humiliate myself every time i put on my gi which i DID blame for the loss of balance, though. i don’t have enough padding in my garage to cushion my feet so we work out in our sneakers. when i would lift my foot to chamber, the gi pant leg would catch on my heel and pull. that pull was what make me “out of balance”. i’m sticking to that story. seriously.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

i was driving my car the other day. i have a tendency to work on my sayings and creeds while behind the wheel. at my yellow belt test i was able to rattle all seven sayings and my creed in rapid succession without any assistance or “can-you-give-me-the-first-word” cheats. that just proved to myself that this practice time is beneficial. i do this often and sometimes forget who’s in the car with me. this time it was my beautiful mrs.

i was half way through my orange belt pledge when my wife turned and asked me what i was saying. she thought i was talking to her and then found out that i was running through my kenpo stuff.

“i thought you were saying something important.”

i finished the latter half of my pledge and then quickly dipped my head just a smidge and added, “amen.”

“OH, you were praying,” she said to me sarcastically. i think she actually smiled.

i hadn’t given any updates in awhile, so now you can consider yourself ketchuped.

— chunky ninja

two new chunkies in class

no, i’m not throwing stones.  i have some peers!  one of them i knew before class.  he’s our church’s youth pastor, chris, and he’s an awesome guy.  and he likes to eat … like his father before him and he’s passed that gene down to his son, too.  my all time favorite eating story is of chris’ father.

manny and i have been friends for over two decades.  manny is chris’ dad and whom my favorite food story revolves.  to know manny is to love manny.  anyway, manny is a post office worker and has been for a long, long time.  he has a driving route now, but there was a time where he was walking 10-15 miles per day carrying a bag.  the man has calves that would make superman jealous.  one day we met manny and his wife at his house and were going out to eat dinner.  he hadn’t arrived from work yet, so we waited.  it wasn’t long before he came in and said, “i’m gonna grab a quick snack before we go eat … to take the edge off.”  his snack was two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

his other son, mikey, was going with us, but didn’t like the restaurant we were going to.  manny said it was no big deal.  we’d go in a separate car and swing by and get him mcdonalds. so the ladies went on to the restaurant to get us a table while we swang by the golden arches.  when we went through the drive through manny noticed they had a brand new burger that he’d never tried.  he ordered one for him … not just the burger, but the whole meal, drink included.  keep in mind he had just had two sandwiches less than 15 minutes earlier.  he’s cramming the burger into his mouth and sucking down the drink.  we get to the restaurant and manny told me his wife would kill him if she knew he got something to eat.  so what’s he do?  he stands in the parking lot and shoves the french fries in his mouth because he “doesn’t want them to be wasted”.

we get into the restaurant and he and his wife, val, order fajitas for two.  while we’re waiting on the food to come out manny and i are polishing off the chips and hot sauce.  finally the food comes out and there’s this huge mound of meat with all the fixings.  val is on a diet and has ONE fajita.  manny finishes the entire rest of the platter, sides, and all.  it was amazing to witness.  if someone had told me this story, i’d never believe it.  but i was there.  i watched it happen.

i tell people this story, sometimes in front of manny. he just smiles and says, “ahh, the old days.  those were good times.”  i’m laughing just now thinking of it.  so if anyone would know how to pack food in, it would be manny’s kids.  i mean, they saw that their entire growing up years.

exhausted and sweaty pastor chris still manages to smile

all that to say that his son was there tonight for his first class.  he did great.  he was winded and dripping with sweat, but that’s what we do.  he mentioned to me after class that if i’m chunky ninja then he gets to be skinny sumo.  if he does get around to starting a blog it will probably be more informative, funnier, and better looking than this site will ever get.  [i said jealously]

the other “chunky” was a friend of one of our new orange belts.  his name is hector.  he reminded me a lot of me when i first started.  he wasn’t able to finish the warm up routine, but tried.  it was weeks before i was able to complete the warm up.  but he did great and didn’t quit.  he’d stop for a bit and then start up again.

both newbies seemed to really like it.  i’m hoping they’ll be back.  it’s nice to look around and see other guys that are as girthy as me.

speaking of … five pounds down since last weigh in … rock me!  maybe i’ll someday shake the chunky title.  nah, i’ve come to embrace it.  so no matter my size, i’ll keep the self proclaimed title.  somehow it suits me.

— chunky ninja

sometimes heat is a good thing

from my car while driving to kenpo

here’s something most thought they would never hear from me:  HOORAY FOR THE HEAT!  officially our area hit 109 yesterday on the thermometer, but unofficially it was as high as 113 in my neighborhood.  when i stepped outside it was like climbing into an oven.  the heat was simply suffocating.  i may have mentioned this before … i’m built like a walrus (only shorter tusks).  walruses don’t do well in anything but cold weather.  and i’m no different.

too hot to play ball

so why the “hooray for the heat”?  well, i was supposed to miss kenpo last night.  i coach a little league baseball team and we had a game.  to my utter surprise, i got a call at 5:30 calling the game off due to the extreme heat.  I’ve been coaching kids through our local YMCA for 14 years and have never seen a game called due to excessive heat.  ever.

i quickly sent out a message to the team so they wouldn’t bother showing up (two still did) and then gathered my kenpo stuff together.  then off i went to kenpo.  i just earned my yellow belt last week and am anxious to start learning my orange belt techniques.  missing class always bothers me.  it bothered me more when i wanted to get started in learning my new techniques.  fortunately, i didn’t have to miss.  and this morning, my right knee was wishing i had missed.

not really my knee, but this is how it feels

while my instructor was demonstrating a technique to a couple of other students i was used as his “dummy”.  i gave it my best fake right cross to his face.  he used an inward block, cross step through and then a knife edge kick to the back of my knee.  he actually did it pretty gently.  but for whatever reason, my knee buckled and i felt a slight pop.  nothing major.  matter of fact it didn’t bother me at all until this morning.  i was able to finish the evening at kenpo without problem.  but this morning … UGH!  it aches.  i’m moving so slow today.   today i feel 46.

i’m actually bummed it’s bothering me so much today.  if you’ve read any of my tweets, you know i’ve been trying to get back into working out.  i’ve been doing some extra walking and have been running stairs for about four months.  not a lot, but what i can do, i do.  the last two days i’ve gotten up extra early, leashed the dog and headed out to pound the streets.  that’s in addition to the work-walk our department does every day.  i’ve also been seriously watching what i’m eating and logging all the data.  today it hurt just getting out of bed.  slight turns or bends make me cringe.  i slept in.  i’ll probably still try the work-walk, but there will be no stair running for me today.  i guess taking a day off would help, but since i just started, i don’t want to do that.

i have a daughter that is a marine.  the marines have a saying:  pain is weakness leaving your body.   so i guess i’m expelling weakness from my right knee today.

a friend of mine, rick faulkner, is a taekwondo instructor and former marine.  he says, sounding like a gravelly voiced drill instructor, “pain is your friend.”  if you met rick, you’d see that he appears to have seriously embraced this friend.  his nose is as crooked as a washington politician.  fortunately for me, his heart is huge and he’d give you his right leg if you needed it.  and in light of this highly respected friend and martial art instructor’s saying i can tell you that, well, i hate my new friend.  he’s a jerk.  pain sucks mud.

while i did get to go to kenpo class yesterday and am suffering for it today, i will also have to endure the heat tonight as it appears they won’t cancel tonight’s baseball game.  the temperatures are actually supposed to be slightly higher than yesterday, but i got a call a few minutes ago saying they don’t want to cancel tonight’s.  so i’ll be limping along like hop-a-long cassidy from the dugout to the third base coach’s box all while enduring 110 degree heat.  um, hooray?

— chunky ninja

Read the old posts and see how this all started!