Monday, June 30, 2014

Confession

Father Martin slid the confessional screen open, revealing the dark shadow of a woman on the other side. As he sat back, the old priest smelled a spicy, oriental scented perfume. He tried not to be curious as he waited for her to begin.

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned," she said. "It has been 200 years since my last confession."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Make some art


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

If it's not perfect, it's crap!

It seems that trainers, nutritionists, and other fitness pros rightfully want it all to be be perfect.

Apparently there's little room for incremental improvements when it comes to fitness in the media. It's either perfect or it's crap!

Dung Beetle #1 - It's getting rounder!
Dung Beetle #2 - It's CRAP!


"Call them out in public!" they say

...even when the trainer in question might be merely wrong. No, they are never wrong, they are lying.

A new healthy food? Nope! One of the food's ingredient's ingredients is from a supplier that doesn't say non-gmo. Boycott them!

Great new product? It can't be, they are advertising! How can they find time to market if they are in the trenches all day, quoting Bruce Lee to their clients, and frowning in the general direction of Facebook?


Don't let perfection be the enemy of progress

I'm happy to point out that Tracy Anderson has bad products, that The Biggest Loser uses bad methods and sets the wrong expectations, vegan diets are not healthier than diets containing meat, and that Crossfit doesn't do enough to police their own gyms to keep them from f-ing people up.

What I'm not happy about is when good things get a bad rap. When a magazine like Men's Health holds a competition to find the best trainer, and no one on the internet thinks they are good enough because they aren't perfect. But these phantom perfect trainers didn't apply. I'm sure it's because they were too busy digging their trenches, and didn't hear the call for applicants.

If a new diet helps people, it better be 100% accurate to science, or the author is a liar or has a hidden agenda.

Oh, and the internet is filled with crappy fitness products that are marketed to the unsuspecting dieter or internet trainees, but when someone writes a better one, it's never good enough.

...and because it's marketed and advertised, it must be even worse.


"The only thing necessary for the triumph of bad training is for good trainers to do nothing." - Anonymous, CSCS, CPT, PES, MS, DPT, LMNOP

Um, complaining isn't doing it, either! Complain all you want, but if you don't do something good, you're pretty much doing nothing.

If good trainers and coaches don't write programs and products, then all these poor people will be able to buy is the crappy ones.

If no one good provides online training and nutrition programs, then all we have left is the bad stuff.

If good trainers and coaches don't advertise and market, then the people who respond to marketing are left to buy from the bad trainers.


Are you doing your part to help those who need you the most? 

I'm not saying that you can't be a damn good trainer, training your own clients personally, and running your own business. That's good work, and you do your clients a great service; hands on is best.

Still, as long as there's a market for online training, fitness books, and fitness products, someone good needs to do it. It doesn't have to be you, but you also don't have to condemn it.

The bottom line is that there are people who buy all levels of product and service (just try to stop them). If you don't do something good for them yourself, or you discourage good people from doing it, you sentence these poor souls to buying pure crap.

..and now whose fault is that?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Should trainers only train those educated on fitness?

I think good trainers should use the same marketing tactics of the sleazy trainers, otherwise the good trainers do the clients who fall for those tactics a real disservice.



No, we can't talk about toning or sweating because those things 'aren't real' or 'don't matter' for fat loss. While that is certainly true, the REAL truth is that there are people out there looking for those things because THEY believe them to be true or important.

Are we (trainers) only about helping those who are educated enough to find us?

What does that say about us?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Confessional

Note – This is a first draft (slightly edited before posting) of a writing challenge. ...under the gun, 1000 words max. The prompt was 'forbidden fruit.'




Confessional


The Bishop stood to the side of the open cathedral doors, nodding curt greetings to the early morning worshipers as they passed through the doors. Once again, he looked inside at the slowly filling pews, but did not yet see Rene. Nor did he see Rene amongst those gathered in the square outside.

The Bishop slowly, if loudly, pushed his breath out through pursed lips; a mix of both prayer and frustration with the boy. He felt a man’s presence at his back, dropping his head to listen.

“Deacon Rene is not at the seminary, either,” Deacon Michael said.

The Bishop nodded slowly, but did not turn. “Perhaps he forgets what today is,” he said, continuing to acknowledge the worshipers who passed by him into the church.

“For Rene, all days are the same beautiful day,” Michael said. “Prayer, breakfast, Mass... You know what he says.”

“Yes, yes. All days are beautiful days,” the Bishop said, impatiently.

“…only more so,” Michael finished.

“Yes, well today isn’t just any beautiful day,” the Bishop said, interrupting. He turned to Michael. “Go. Take your place.”


§


A light breeze blew the gauzy white curtains until they just brushed the bare skin of the man on the bed.

The pure white sheets were tangled about him from rolling in his sleep, likely from an attempt to escape the sun that danced through the curtains and was starting to warm his feet. He was asleep, alone, in the very large bed, but there were enough pillows and indentations in the mattress to see that two had slept there until just moments before.

Even in his lite sleep, he felt the change of temperature on his uncovered foot; the window shutters were closing, and the sun no longer warmed him.

He stirred. He rolled onto his back (exposing more than feet), and opened his eyes.

The woman was nude, and facing away from him. The light through the slits in the shutters cast her in silhouette; he could see her drawing the sheer curtains closed across the window. She turned to him; his eyes adjusting to the new light, and he could see she was as beautiful as he’d remembered, all golden hair, white skin (untouched by sun), and impossibly ruby lips. She had green eyes that should be impossible to see from this far away, especially in backlight. But there they are.

She smiled impurely, turning once again away from him. She stretched her arms wide, and pulled the set of heavy, royal purple drapes clothes with pure drama, and the room went dark. She remained facing the closed window as she spoke.

“My love, let us shut out the day and let this night never end.”

She turned to face him in the now darker room, smiling in a way that the young Deacon knew meant his life had completely changed, and approached the bed.

Behind her, the shutters, impossibly, blew open; a great gust of wind parted the dark drapery, and the morning sun exploded into the room. Her lithe body was bathed in light from behind, and then the sun overwhelmed and blinded him.

He sat bolt upright, startled out of his dream. She was gone.

The drapes did billow in the wind. The shutters were wide open. He was alone in the large bed, still wrapped in the white sheets, but they were wet with sweat; his own, he thought.

The bell from the clock tower rang seven o’clock, and he looked toward the window. It looked to be a beautiful morning outside. A beautiful day like any other.”
“God!” he said, jumping out of bed, leaving the damp bed linens behind him. He looked this way and that until I saw his clothes, a Deacon’s robes, laid out carefully on a chair next to the door.


§


Rene stood at the back of the cathedral, as he often did before a mass.

He was frozen in place, eyes fixed on the closed door of a confessional – The same confessional that the woman had entered just a moment ago.

The morning sun was shining through a great window onto his legs and feet, heating his shiny black shoes to an uncomfortable temperature.

Not just a woman, but the woman from this morning. …or last night?

Rene was sweating underneath his vestments, and he could feel the sweat running down his chest and back; the cloth clung to his skin, and he pulled at it for relief.

How long, he wondered, had the booth’s door been closed? How long have I been here?

Then the door opened, a lithe, impossibly long leg swung out as the woman stood up to exit the confessional. The leg has exposed in a way that a leg would never be exposed; as a woman’s clothing will simply not allow it. Nevertheless, there was the bare leg, just as it was when she had entered the little room.

She stood, and strode two steps into the sunlight streaming from the window, and stopped. She faced Rene from a distance; her white skin shone with such light, and he could see nothing but her shape. He saw green eyes that should be impossible to see from this far away, in that light. But there they are.

“You’re late,” the Bishop said, surprising Rene as he suddenly stepped between Rene and the woman.

“I’ve been here,” Rene said, startled, “in the back, like every day.”

The Bishop frowned, and looked closer at Rene. “You’re sick? You’re sweating.”

“I walked quickly, and the sun…” Rene said. “Like every day.”

“Take your place, Rene,” the Bishop said, gesturing to the line of Deacons near the front of the cathedral; each waiting to be ordained.

Rene looked at them; each dressed in the same robes that he sweated beneath now. Rene didn’t move.

The Bishop looked concerned. “Are you nervous?”

Rene looked confused, but whether at the question or something else, even he wasn’t sure. He didn’t answer, or even respond.

“Rene, it’s just a day…” the Bishop began. “Like any other.”


Rene nodded. “Only more so.”

§


Confessional – Roland Denzel, March 4th, 2014

Image by scarbe84 on freeimages.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Saints Alive!

I know that a lot of my readers are mutual friends of Lou Schuler, so I wanted to announce Lou's latest book, which is a slight deviation from his normal (fitness) books.


Saints Alive - Lou Schuler


Saints Alive is Lou's first published fiction book, and having it read it already, I highly recommend it. The book really touched me, in ways I didn't expect, and it's spurred on my own writing in new ways.

Here's what I wrote on Amazon.com


Good, evil, soccer, coming of age, and immortality! 

Sebastian is a young man, going on immortal, when he's thrust into something much bigger than all of us; is it spy vs spy, good vs evil, or Good vs Evil? Suddenly, he's being asked to step into the role of a hero, and he's not quite ready for that. He's bad at sports, especially soccer ...all he's good at is math! Not exactly a super power. 
I found a lot to like about Sebastian, and 'enjoyed' feeling a lot of MY old feelings again; I guess Sebastian and I shared a lot back when I was that age, and I get the feeling that we were not the only ones. We felt excluded, even if we weren't avoided or shunned, we were passionate about things we weren't great at, we felt disconnected from family, even though we loved them. We wanted something bigger, but didn't know what. We wanted a fresh start, even though we never dreamed what it might be or entail.
This is a great young adult story about a young boy who's trying to find himself and fit in, all while avoiding the bullies around him. Something a lot of us can identify with that. 
I actually know Lou Schuler, and he's [kinda] funny, but this book literally (like literally literally) made me laugh out loud several times. The dialog is seamless, and once you're into this book, you're lost in the story. 
Lou has written many, many non-fiction books and articles, so we have no doubts that he can write, but this book shows that the man can really, really write.

I hope you'll buy Lou's book. I know you'll enjoy it. 


...then, please give it a review on Amazon. Reviews help readers find great books, and every author needs help in that department.

Roland



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I'll take the next one

I know I've admitted this before, but where and to whom, I don't know.

In 2008, when I missed my plane leaving Little Rock, I didn't actually miss my plane.

Sure, they did run out of seats and ask for volunteers to stay behind, and I did put up my hand, but after a while, they came up with a seat for me. ...but I didn't want to leave.


"Sir, we have a seat for you," the ticket agent said.


"What? I thought the plane was overbooked."

"It is, but we have a seat for you."

"You can give it to someone else," I said.

"No no," she said, "we have a seat for you."

"I already have someone coming to pick me up." I don't want to leave.

"Sir, you can keep the coupon," she explained. (I had been offered a free flight for volunteering to stay behind.)

"It's not that," I said. I looked around. There was a lady. ...with a kid. "Give it to her."

"We have to go in order," she said, "but I'm sure we'll have a seat for her later."

I was about ready to give up, and I guess my gate attendant friend saw it. "Is there something wrong?"

I took a deep breath. "There's a girl here."

My new friend winced.

"I'd rather stay another day," I said.

She put up her hand. She shook her head. "We have to go in order," she said. "I can't bypass you. The computer..."

I nodded.

"I'm sorry," she said.

I nodded again.

"Who is she?" she asked.

"She is 'it,' but she doesn't know it."

She smiled.

I went on.

"She dropped me off at the curb and I kissed her goodbye."

She smiled. I continued.

"She wasn't expecting it. The kiss." I paused. "The kiss wasn't really appropriate, but I wanted her to know. Then she left."

She was still sort of smiling.

I sighed. "She obviously wasn't expecting it."

"I'm really sorry," she said.

I stood there in silence for what seemed like forever, but couldn't have been more than a few seconds.

"Isn't there something you can do?" I asked.

"Sir, the rules..." she said. "I'm sorry."

I nodded and tried to smile at her so she'd know I understood her position.

"I understand."

I stood there at the desk, waiting for my boarding pass. After a minute of tapping and typing, she handed me a printout. "Here's your coupon. Make sure to hang onto it. It's like cash."

"I thought..."

"I'm sorry you missed your flight," she said, interrupting. She gave me a look that said 'ask no questions.'

I asked no questions. She handed me a plane ticket.

"You're rebooked for tomorrow at 3:15. The same flight."

"Thank you..."

"You're sure about this?" she asked. "About her?"

"I am. Very."

She looked back at her computer screen, then up at me once more. "Go, before there's another seat."

"Thank you."

She nodded and smiled, then looked toward the woman with the child. "Mrs. Davis, we have seats for you and your daughter."

She looked at me one last time, urging me away, and then back at the young woman.

"You're in luck," the ticket agent said to her. "I guess someone thought something else was more important."

 .

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The fitness world lives in a perpetual state of wishful thinking

I know I moved all of my fitness talk over to TheFitInk.com, but can I rant about fitness here? Thanks.

1. Exercise vs life

Exercise is a supplement to movement, work, and activity (e.g., life), and just like a nutrition supplement, it's NOT as good as the original.

A treadmill isn't a substitute for walking or running on ground. The belt moves, and you move your legs to keep from falling. It's falling under control, and does a number on the pelvic floor because you do not walk correctly.



A treadmill desk is an abomination to good movement quality. Treadmill bad, treadmill desk worse. You can't swing your arms, and the concentration makes you walk funny. Yes, you burn calories, but at what cost. Erectile dysfunction, maybe.

Kettlebells are cool, but they aren't a 'functional tool' unless your job in life is the snatch or jerk a kettlebell. I, of course, still recommend them (or things like dumbbells) for resistance training, but swinging, squatting, snatching, and jerking is not a substitute for walking and other real life movements. It's a supplement to the work you're NOT doing in life.

I love the gym, and I love being strong, but there's simply no reason to believe that a man is better off if he can squat with his body weight on his back or deadlift 405 pounds from the ground. Are there advantages to being strong? Absolutely, but you don't need a squat rack or full barbell set to be fit, healthy, or strong.


2. Nutrition - I'm doing fine

There's a nutrition trend affectionately called IIFYMs, or If It Fits Your Macros. This is the idea that your calories, protein, fat, and carb levels are what's important for your 'gains' in the gym or losses on the scale. Mostly true, but it discounts health; especially long term health.

Yes, I know, I heard you, you said "I'm doing fine." But how do you know you're doing fine Mr. 20 Year Old Gym Guy? I can point out plenty of people who likely feel that they are 'doing fine' right now, but aren't. Besides, how do you know you couldn't be doing better?



Food matters, and if you don't believe that the grandparents felt fine, and maybe looked just fine, for the many years leading up to Type 2 Diabetes, you're kidding yourself. Yes, with some people it's obvious; they are overweight and eating nothing but crap, but many people 'do just fine' for years, when obviously they weren't.


3. A sport is not the way to get fit. 

Can you be fit and be in a sport? Sure, but who joins a rugby league to lose weight? No one, really. However, people decide to run a marathon (once an elite level activity) to lose weight, train for an extreme race, and even take up Olympic Weightlifting or Kettlebell Sport to get in shape.

These are sports, not fitness programs; Training for a marathon requires that you also increase your eating to sustain that level of training program, which might just set you up more bad habits once you injure yourself stop running marathons.

Should you take a kettlebell class? Sure, but a kettlebell fitness class, not Kettlebell Sport. Kettlebell Sport is about the sport, not weight loss, and it actually requires that you put yourself in positions that aren't particularly healthy for long term health. It's called Posterior Pelvic Tilt, and it's not only not pretty, but can lead to pelvic floor disorder or erectile dysfunction if you don't counteract this position.


4. We're not you, Mr Trainer

Just because you can stretch that way doesn't mean we can or even should. - you are awesome.

Just because you can squat that way doesn't mean we can or should. - you are awesome.

Just because you train like that doesn't mean we should. ...or that you should for that matter.

Just because you're awesome doesn't mean that your program got you that way. Many people are awesome despite their program. If you don't believe me, go to 24 Hour Fitness with me and I'll point them out.


Ok. Done. That felt pretty good.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

enough already, catharsis!

A while back I told you that I was writing some sort of romance? 


About a chick named Kate? Didn't I?

It's really worse than that. It's more like 'New Adult' romance, which is like the tv show Beverly Hills 90210 (the old one; the new one is boring).

New Adult is like regular romance, but even more tragic.


..and always with tons of angst on the way to inevitable true love.


Not to mention regularly scheduled erections on top of all the kissing.

It may or may not have vampires.

It's basically the written version of what a 20-something girl would watch on tv every week. ...although mine does NOT have vampires. Sorry.

What the f*** was I thinking? I don't have time for this shit.


I know, but when I don't write it, it's right there, not written. How long can something not be written? It's philosophical, I know, but come on. I mean 12 years is long enough. If it goes 13, I'm going to check myself into a hospital. The One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest kind.

I'm almost done, but only because it won't stop calling to me. I hear catharsis is a good thing; it had better be good.

It's not that the story is not good; it might be someday, after it sits in a drawer for a while and gets a 'fresh' set of eyes one day, but what started off as a script/screenplay that I wrote 12 years ago (on my drive home from Montana after my mother died), turned into a wannabe novel turned novella that should have been a short story. It's almost as if I looked for a way to shrink this work of girly art down to 20k words of flash fiction just to get it done.

Now, what I have is basically the pilot to a teen angst television show that will never, ever air, plus the raw stories for episodes 2-6, 11, and the two hour season finale. If there are any tv producers reading...

Anyhow, it seems this post was cathartic, in and of itself. 


While this post sat there as a draft, I was able to write quite a bit of Kate's story, and it seems to have given me the drive to FINISH and move on to my next story, which will always have a girl and a guy, romance and angst, love, but also a hero, a villain or two, and either a castle or a space ship, and maybe even a cowboy hat. ...but not all three.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Home sick with a cold

Let's start with something Richard Curtis and see how we feel after that...

Friday, January 17, 2014

We'll always have Anaheim

I should have been writing, but instead, I got sucked into the vortex of 'which ____ are you?' quizzes, which was fine when I ended up Han Solo or Aragorn, but it got weird with Anchorman. Who cares which newscaster I am?

Then came the question with which we will all one day be faced: "What Princess are you?"

No surprise, here, I'm Aurora!


...although I actually DO have trouble meeting men. Go figure.

I just don't know how accurate the quiz really is. My heart has always been split between Aurora's and Mulan's, but Aurora and I have a special bond from our meeting back in '03.

We'll always have Anaheim

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - Here we go...

Happy New Year, everybody!

Some stuff for 2014, not in any order of significance:

1

Christine Henderson interviewed me on her site. She interviews writers, so in this case the interview was more than fitness and nutrition, which was fun! An Interview with Roland Denzel

2

I've got two non-fiction books in the works, one with Gal and one on my own. I think one (the one with Gal, and mostly her brainchild) will be our best work yet.

Gal came up with a great idea that we are both really excited about. It combines our belief that you can rarely just jump into a new diet, or whole new lifestyle, whole hog, and make a success out of it, long term. Add one new habit at a time, see how it goes, then add another. And never, never, never give up the plan until you have a new plan.

We've had good success using this method with clients, and it's built into Man on Top, but now we've come up with a great way to do it on grander scale. In a perfect world, this would be a great book for next Christmas and New Year! That might be too aggressive.

I've been wanting to write a book that people (and I) can give for Christmas without the recipient thinking "So, you're saying I'm fat?" Gal's book idea fits that bill perfectly, so bonus!

3

The other book is more of a 'bathroom reader' book, but it leaves me with a dilemma. It needs illustrations, and I cannot draw. On a positive note, I think it would also be a good stocking stuffer. It's fitness related, but it's not a book that says 'you're fat, so you should read this book.'

4

As much as I'd love to publish some fiction this year, I don't know if it's in the cards. Too much to do, but I have to find an outlet. It's not motivating to write 2,000 fiction words a week without a [self] publishing end in site.

I do have some short story ideas, so you might see them here. I've never been good at short stories, but mostly because short stories in school were short short. When I started to think about it, some of my favorite authors have written books of short stories that were almost a novel when the book was done.

5

I'm really excited about the new direction my own fitness interests are leading me. This year, I'm seeking my certification as a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist (RES). I've learned a lot from Galya and Katy, and the more I learn, the more I feel that fitness is more than getting strong, adding muscle, or going fast or long. ...not that there's anything wrong with that.

Don't get me wrong, I think muscle is important, strength does have value. I love to lift really heavy weights, but not everyone does. You don't have to be strong strong to be fit, but you do need to be strong enough for the quality of life you want to live, and for must people, that doesn't require a barbell or a squat rack.

I also think that people need to be 'conditioned' enough to be able to live life without crapping out. People who love to run should be able to run; Everyone should be able to run. even if they don't want to run for fun. You don't have to run to be fit, and using running to get fit is a bad idea.

If there's a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist reading, I know I'm talking blasphemy with some of my statements, but the truth is that you can't always take running away from a runner or weights away from a lifter, just like you can't take the yoga away from the yogi. Everyone can learn to do what they do better and safer, and hopefully integrating RES will get or keep them healthier, still.

6

Happy New Year!

Roland
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