Back At It

A few weeks ago I pushed aside my misgivings about my back and decided to get back under the bar, using a modified version of the StrongLifts workout.

The normal workout goes like this (5×5, except 1×5 Deadlift):

A: Squat, Bench press, Barbell row
B: Squat, Overhead press, Deadlift

Now my modification (because I forgot the initial order) is as follows:

A: Squat, Overhead press, Dips (if feeling it)
B: Squat, Bench press, Deadlift

I dropped out Rows because frankly, they didn’t do much for me the last time I did StrongLifts. They also put more strain on my lower back based on a few test lifts I did earlier this month. Since I don’t want to be injured, it seemed like a smart choice.

So far, things have been going good and I’m making sure to concentrate on my form while lifting. I don’t want a repeat of the muscle pull during my PB deadlift or the tweaking of my back during that squat. The latter of the two actually put me out of commission longer until I fixed that with weekly massages.

As long as I concentrate on the hip drive during squats and not rounding my back during deadlift, I’ll should be fine.

Waiting On Weight

Right around the time I was finally kicking that persistent sinus infection back in August, I noticed I lost some weight.  As a “just in case” measure, I started tracking it when I woke up and when I went to bed.  I also forced myself to increase my food intake by adding morning and afternoon snacks while at work (with EVIL grain-based food).

I told myself that I would go back under the bar once I got close to 145 lbs (also accounting for how my back felt).

It was a slog.  I didn’t even break 140 lbs until late-November.  Eat eat eat, all the time.

Even though I’ve been mostly inactive (a walk after lunch) and sit all day in front of a computer at work, my metabolism still ran hot.  I’d fluctuate up and down, it was slightly irritating.

I was sick of being inactive, so I packed my gym bag to go after work on Monday, 27 January.  Screw having a buffer of “fat” for the newbie gains.  However that didn’t work out the way I planned it though.

I came down with the flu and with all the fun that entailed.

Although I was a bit lucky in that I had minor case of the flu, meaning a low-grade fever, no sore throat and no nausea.  The body aches on the other hand were a bitch.  I didn’t have an uninterrupted night of sleep that entire week I was out sick from work.  All my joints were sore and stiff.  Thank God for ibuprofen though.

So a month later, after an unexpected weight jump up to 143-144 lbs (huzzah!), I’m making a second attempt at getting back in the gym.

Seven pounds and six months later, I’ll be finally going back to the gym to regain the muscle I lost.

8 August 2013 (lbs, morning/night):  136.5/136.5

21 February 2014 (lbs, morning/night):  144.5/144.5

23andMe and Me

ItalianAbout a week ago, my full results from 23andMe were completed and posted to my profile.  In all, I’m satisfied with my results and the whole process in general.

To start off, the basic cost for a kit is $99 (actually $108.95 including the standard to-and-from shipping), which might be out of the range of some budgets.  If you’re really curious about your ancestry or genome, it’s a small price to pay to know.

Neanderthal1They are still selling kits, even if the FDA is being the regulatory dick it always is.

Note:  There’s some screwed-up rules regarding receiving/shipping if you live in New York.

Anyways, I placed an order for a kit on 19 October and received it on 23 October.  The kit contained the sample collection vial, the funnel (with the stabilizing buffer in the lid, the sealable sample bag, and a cap for the vial.

First thing you do is register the kit and set up a profile at 23andMe.  I opted out of sharing some things and have my profile set to “private.”  Next, I collected my saliva sample (make sure to follow the directions included in the kit), this actually was faster than registering the kit.  It took me at the most 10 minutes.

Then I snapped down the lid on the funnel, adding the buffer to my saliva.  Again, following the directions I tightly capped the vial and shook it to thoroughly mix everything together.  I sealed the sample in the sample bag and reused the plastic container the kit came in to keep the sample from shifting around during shipping (you’ll see what I mean if/when you get one).  Finally, I sealed up the return package and took it to the post office to mail.

My kit arrived at its destination on 28 October, and on 7 November it was marked as “received.”  From then, I had to wait.

You get emails when everything is done.  The first one is the health results and the second one containing the ancestry results coming a few days to a week later.

Here’s a sampling of my results:


  • Health Risks

These are subdivided into “Elevated Risk”, “Decreased Risk” and “Typical Risk”.  Below is the highest “Elevated Risk” I had.

CeliacA possibility that I could develop Celiac Disease (the gluten allergy), which would suck, since I really like bread and pasta.

  • Drug Response

The only important things for me on this set was that I metabolize Proton Pump Inhibitors (like Nexium) really fast, the typical Hepatitis C treatment can have a reduced response, and that I have a higher chance of Heroin addiction (which might explain why I feel terrible coming off of doctor-prescribed opiates).

  • Inherited Conditions

I have zero inherited conditions, which means I’m not a carrier and will not pass those genes to my offspring.

  • Traits

This one is cool.  Based on your genes they can predict certain traits about you (i.e. eye color, freckling).  Here’s a sampling of mine that were dead-on the mark:



This was mostly the reason why I did this.  I was extremely curious about my genetic background.  These results took longer to calculate than the health ones.

  • Maternal Line


  • Paternal Line


  • Neanderthal Ancestry

The percentage of my DNA from Neanderthals, I was actually surprised at the result:


  • Ancestry Composition

This was the information I was looking to find.  To be honest, the results were what I expected:


There you have it, my experience and results with 23andMe.  If you have some money to get this service done and are interested either in your health or ancestry, I wholeheartedly recommend doing it.

Leave a comment if you have questions I didn’t answer.


A man’s life is a struggle until the day he dies.

The last six months haven’t been the greatest.

  • Getting sinus infection after sinus infection
  • Being on some sort of antibiotic for weeks at a time for aforementioned sinus infection
  • Noting another recent loss of weight on my already thin frame as a result of being sick (now 136 lbs, had to buy new 30 waist jeans since the others, 32 waist, are too big now)
  • I could go lift, but those pulled lower back muscles aren’t healed fully (this helps slightly)
  • Couldn’t enjoy the party at my brother Gio’s wedding, meaning next to no alcohol (see bullet point 1)
  • Reoccurring soreness at my scar
  • Language study shot to hell
  • No romantic prospects (see bullet point 1 and 2)

The abstract for the above bullets would basically read:  “Beppo has extremely low morale due to things he cannot control.”

While frustrating that I haven’t had the energy nor the drive to do much of anything constructive these past months, I’m not going to complain.  I just have to bite the bullet for most things, get help from others that can help, and then move forward.

There’s no other option.

Testosterone Results

YouSoWould has a few posts on his Low T and later foray into TRT (here and here), take a look.

A few weeks ago I had my yearly physical and in addition to the normal blood work, and because my insurance covers it, I also had my testosterone levels checked.  I figured that my levels were fine, but I was curious as to what they were (and to have a baseline for future comparison).

Results (target ranges in parentheses):

  • Cholesterol (100-199 mg/dL):  203 (4 points above the maximum of the range which is fine, since 20 years ago, that would be considered normal)
  • Triglycerides (30-150 mg/dL):  86
  • HDL (40-59 mg/dL):  42 (could be higher, need to eat more olive oil)
  • LDL (<100 mg/dL):  144 (“Borderline High” by my results sheet)
  • TSH (0.32-5 mcIU/mL):  2.04 (Thyroid is working fine)
  • My kidneys are working, no protein in my urine
  • Interestingly, my white blood count is slightly low at 3.79 K/mcL (range 4.50-1.00).  My doctor said that’s how my body functions.
  • Total Testosterone:  687 ng/dL
  • Free Testosterone:  12.2 pg/mL

Following the tables from this post, my testosterone levels are pretty good for my age (29).  Even with being physically inactive and sick for the past few months I figured that they would be lower.

I’m happy to say that there are no low T problems for me.

As an example, a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a really cute and feminine girl at My Local Corner Bar and I chubbed a bit due to her disposition.  So my libido is not an issue; it was more of a mental than a physical reason why I haven’t been aggressively chasing skirt (instead of just looking).  My body told me to stay in and recover, so I did.

Hell, I still wake up almost every morning with a boner.

On the issue of “testosterone increasing” supplements, I’m going to drop back to normal fish oil instead of the fish oil + krill.  It’s too expensive for an effect that I’m not seeing or feeling.  Zinc on the other hand, I’m going to drop down from 30 to 15 mg (the lower dose will still stack with my multivitamin).

Now I’ll just have to wait until next year to compare.

Physical Goals Update

I wrote a post a little while ago setting down some short-term physical, mental and social goals for myself.

It has been two months since I got a membership at a gym and started StrongLifts (24 workouts = 8 weeks), so I’m going to quickly share my physical goals progress so far.

3 June 2012

1 August 2012


My Weight








Bench Press




Barbell Row


95 (1 Deload)


Overhead Press


90 (Stall at 80)







Usually I don’t set down (or think about) very long-term plans since, in the blink of an eye, everything can change.  I live my life one day at a time and take events as they happen.

Having said that, I’m going to put out a few short-term goals for myself.



Re-build muscle lost from surgery, gain weight and strength

A few weeks ago, I got a gym membership (at an actual gym, not the smoothie bar/health club-type) and began StrongLifts.  I’ll admit, it is difficult.  Especially on the lifts that can pull on my side (laying down/sitting up on the bench is a bitch).

I already have gained 4 lbs and I don’t feel as weak as I did 8 months ago.  In addition, I’m back to the point where I can’t remember the last time I woke up in the morning and DIDN’T have a boner.


Read more

I don’t have the problem that many of my generation had where I can only read books that were assigned to me.  Reading for me was enjoyable and something I haven’t lost the love of.  I’d always have a book to read in my bag throughout college and grad school.

I’ve read a lot over the years, mostly fiction, and now want to expand into the classics and interesting non-fiction.

Thanks to my Kindle, I can do this and not have a house full of books to read.

Work on increasing fluency in Italian

I have wanted to be fluent Italian speaker since I was a little kid (after hearing my Dad and Grandfather spit some dialettu).  It wasn’t until college that I actually took a class in it.  Since I started so late learning it, my progress amounts to me taking the textbook, putting it on my head, and hitting it with a hammer.

However, thanks to the ISO’s I scored of Rosetta Stone, I’ve had some progress.  Now, I just have to put the time and work in.  I’m shooting for studying for 45 minutes to an hour daily.  Any longer than that, my concentration starts to drift.


Be comfortable in social situations

One of my personality traits is that I am VERY introverted.  For the longest time (including after my surgery), I was perfectly content to stay in on the weekends and basically just crash/read/do house stuff/play a videogame.

Not anymore.

I plan on doing a “shock to the system” and basically go out to where there are lots of people and talk to randoms.  This is a win-win for me, since I become comfortable going out by myself, possibly get to know some solid guys and run my beginner’s level game on girls.