Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Restarting the Blog--I am not a mellow man, Part 2
In June of 2016, just after setting some personal bests in two of the four powerlifts, and following four serious years of structured programming and requisite training nutrition, I visited my physician and got just terrible news. Despite the effort in the gym, including some grueling conditioning work that I thought could account for the enormous number of calories I consumed to support my powerlifting gains, my blood chemistry was really screwed up. My doc, uncharacteristically, called me at home the evening my labs came in and my blood lipids were extremely out of balance indicating an extreme health risk. Doc literally (I expect that's a correct usage of a word that is mangled all the time) told me that I needed to change my diet that night. Not next month, next week, or even tomorrow; I needed to change my diet at my next meal.
In response, and because I am a GREAT medical patient, my wife teamed with me and we tackled a month of the Whole 30 elimination diet. The diet in not complicated. Whole 30 purports to eliminate most foods from groups that have been linked with inflammation and blood sugar/insulin resistant syndromes. These includes sugars and certain grain-sourced starches, eliminated for 30 days. Many find these changes very difficult to tolerate, especially in the first week of the program. Neither Angela nor I did; we struggled instead with sheer eating boredom in the last two weeks as we both anticipated adding back sushi, pasta, and wine to see how we would newly tolerate those things. Neither of us cheated once and I lost a substantial amount of bodyweight.
Already moving better after a month of eliminating sugar, grains, and other inflammatory foods and beverages, Angela suggested I investigate an activity that I started while in law school in San Diego in 1986: boxing in a pro gym. Of course, in 1986 the pro-boxing gym was a largely unexplored space for fitness-focused amateurs with little or no aspiration to competition. Peter Depasquale wouldn't publish The Boxer's Workout until 1990 (aimed at the so-called "white-collar boxer"), so if a civilian wanted to box, it was either hang a heavy bag in the basement, or show up a local pro-gym and work one's way into the population of amateur and professional competitive athletes. And that's just what I did after meeting Irish Billy Murphy, head trainer at Irish Spud's Murphy's Boxing Gym, and father of the namesake, Spud. Spud was a just little older than me and I trained with both men until Spud's tragic death in 1988.
Irish Billy Murphy continued to train me into the early 1990's, even allowing me to spar with a variety of professionals including world-ranked light heavyweight, Ramzi Hassan. These sessions were about far more than merely being the lone white color guy in the guy staying in shape. I learned more about seeing through sweat and pain and about the intelligence and vision of these exceptional athletes. The experience peaked as I watched local San Diego super welterweight hero 'Terrible' Terry Norris prepare at "our" gym for the fight that ended Sugar Ray Leonard's professional career. After passing the bar, Billy told me he would not help me get my amateur card, probably owing to the way he processed his son's death. While I desperately wanted to compete, and was a strong amateur candidate even at 28 years old, I now appreciate his foresight. And by 1993, we had moved to Seattle to start our current life chapter.
Since those halcyon days, boxing exploded in our physical culture and a wave of gyms opened across the country that could train both elite competitors and fitness devotees, side by side, changing the culture of boxing in a positive way. At Angela's insistence that I revisit my fascination with boxing as a healthier pursuit (at least dietarily, haha), I found Arcaro Boxing, near Seattle University on Jefferson Street on Capitol Hill.
To be continued...