November 28, 2015

week 3 with a sports nutrition coach

I started working with a sports nutrition coach almost 4 weeks ago. So far I've lost 4 pounds, which is amazing because my main goal is weightlifting performance. Of course I want to lose some fat, but only if it's done in a way that doesn't jeopardize performance. Also,  I started taking creatine monohydrate a little over a week ago. I usually gain at least 5 pounds when i start taking creatine. No weight gain this time. More importantly my clothes are fitting differently. They are tighter in the legs, chest, and shoulders, and looser in the waist. I feel like I'm healing quicker now from training than I was before. I'm sleeping better too. When I hired my nutrition coach he surprised me by keeping my calories the same. But he raised the amount of protein I'm eating- by a lot! Before I probably ate around 180 grams of protein a day. Now I'm eating close to 300. I'm averaging 125g of fat and 290g of carbohydrates on a non-training day. On training days my carbs go up to 400g and he has very specific directions on what I eat should before, during, and after training. I'm really happy i hired a nutrition coach. My only regret is not having done it a couple years ago. I'd have made more strength gains and I wouldn't have become as fat as I did.

I hurt my wrist weightlifting a week ago. Every time i lift it hurts a little worse. Of course I'm doing what any manly man does. I'm ignoring it, not telling anyone, hoping it'll get better on its own, and assuming that as long as I don't get it diagnosed that means nothings wrong with it. So far ignoring my wrist isn't working. So of course that means I haven't ignored it long enough or put enough effort in pretending nothings wrong.

November 27, 2015

suicide and correctional officers

I've been pretty transparent on my blog about my recent struggles with depression. I looked up some statistics and was shocked. I wish a knew these things before starting my career as a Correctional Officer in 1995.

-Correctional Officers (CO’s) have the second highest mortality rate of any occupation.

-33.5% of all assaults in prisons and jails are committed by inmates against staff.

-A CO’s 58th birthday, on average, is their last.

-CO’s have a 39% higher suicide rate than any other occupation and have a higher divorce and substance abuse rates then the general population.

-CO's die, on average, less than two years after retiring.

Throughout my 21-year career in corrections, I've lost a large number of my fellow correctional officers to suicide. Yet very little (if any) attention was paid to the issue of correctional officer suicides. Discussion of suicide within my profession is a taboo topic because corrections employees are not supposed to appear emotionally vulnerable or fragile. After all, emotional vulnerability often equates to emotional instability, which is perceived to be a weakness by fellow officers. It is also a sign that you can be manipulated or are easily prey by inmates.

There has been much written concerning suicide among law enforcement officers, but very little about suicide among correctional officers. College classes go into great depth about the risks of stress, burnout, depression, and suicide rates among police officers, but in corrections courses the topic is rarely, if ever, discussed.

Existing Research on Suicide in Corrections
Research studies have found high suicide rates in the corrections field. For example, a 2009 New Jersey State Police Task Force Study (PDF) found that corrections officers have a suicide rate that is twice as high as the rate of police officers.

A 2013 U.S. Department of Justice’s Programs Diagnostic Center Study (PDF) found corrections officers:
-Have a much higher rate of suicide than those in other occupations
-experience severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during their careers
-and on average, will not live to see their 59th birthday. Yup, you read that correctly. The average correctional officers won't live to 59.

In one of the few studies specifically addressing correctional officer suicide, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries indicated that 38 percent of the intentional fatalities were suicides by self-inflicted gunshot wounds, but the actual percentage is largely unknown because the BLS only reports suicides that occur in the workplace. Suicides that occur at home or elsewhere are classified as non-occupational and are not part of the BLS data.

So, in the last 8-9 years i have suffered severe depression and thoughts of suicide. I also have pretty severe PTSD. I cant keep my back to a room or a door. If there's someone standing behind me or someone keeps getting to close to me i get anxious. While in public i'm constantly looking in people's eyes and faces looking for signs of impending attack. I watch everyone's hands for weapons- I knew I'd been institutionalized when I looked for weapons in my grandmother's hands and looked for bulges in her clothes before I'd hug her. My kids won't get near the bed when I'm sleeping because sometimes I wake up yelling, punching, and kicking. I often times wake up running through the house. I don't know what I'm running to or away from, but i know its a life and death situation. My family knows never to walk up to me from behind......
Why did I choose a career in corrections? Why did I stay 21 years? And why the hell haven't I retired yet?

November 26, 2015

more sleep for olympic style weightlifting

I've found I need 1 to 1.5 hours more sleep a day now than I did when I was a hard core triathlete. I'm only training an average of about 6 hours a week weightlifting. When I was a triathlete I was training an average of 22 hours a week. It's amazing to me I trained almost 4 times as much as an endurance athlete as I do as a weightlifter, but I need significantly more sleep now. 

The last 3 or 4 weeks I've had the best sleep of my life! For the last few years I had been struggling with sleep apnea. I wasn't sleeping well and I was constantly tired beyond belief. I assumed the sleep apnea was from obesity. In the last month I've lost 13 pounds. That's a drop in the bucket of what I need to  lose, but I've lost almost all of my problems with sleep that I had developed. There's no way losing 13 of the 140 pounds I'd gained made my sleep apnea go away. Now I'm beginning to wonder if my sleep apnea had to do with my weight gain or if it had more to do with the severe depression I had been in. Can depression caused sleep apnea? I'm not certain, but i know one thing for sure, I'm unbelievably grateful to no longer feel chronically exhausted and overworked. And I'm even more appreciative to no longer feel constant despair and hopelessness. 9 years of working 80-90 hours a week had beat me down physically and emotionally. Since I had never suffered from depression before I didn't realize how it gradually worsens. Like a frog in a pot of water that is gradually brought to a boil. The frog doesn't realize it's in a life threatening situation until it's almost to late because it had worsened so gradually. I now understand why they call depression the silent killer. Especially with men. We don't ask for help. No matter how bad things get we always say everything's fine, until it's to late. Even more so with Correctional Officer's. Machismo is huge among corrections employees. That's one of many reasons why the suicide rate among correctional officers is so high. Studies have shown the rate of PTSD of correctional officers is higher than combat vets. I've lost a lot of my fellow correctional officers by suicide the last two decades. 

November 25, 2015

The 2016 NASA World Cup

It turns out if I compete in the New Mexico New year's (powerlifting) classic, which I already registered for, I'll be eligible to compete in the 2016 NASA world cup, NASA's powerlifting world championships. There's nothing as thrilling as competing at a world championship sporting event! In 2006 i qualified and competed in the 70.3 world (triathlon) championships in Clearwater Florida. Even though I finished with one of my slowest 70.3 distance races of my entire triathlon career it was one of the most exhilarating and memorable experiences of my life. Everything about a sporting world championships is memorable and surreal. The athletes, the energy, the enthusiasm! I cant believe i get an opportunity to compete in another one! I'm so excited!  There's no way I'm missing the 2016 NASA (powerlifting) World Cup. It's going to be held in August 2016 in Denver Colorado, & you can bet I'll be there!

November 23, 2015

more energy during training

Today's workout was awesome! 81 reps total, all double and triples. Today was one of those rare days that everything felt light and no matter how hard I worked I never felt tired. I think that has a lot to do with hiring a sports nutrition coach. I'm recovering quicker, feeling stronger, and have more energy during training now. The workout took me almost two hours. After weightlifting I did the bench press program Shane built for me. I built up to two reps at 129.5 kilos (285lbs). I've always struggled at bench. That Shane's program has built me up to 2x285 lbs is virtually a miracle. I'm hoping to hit a 300lb bench at the NASA powerlifting competition on December 5th in Roswell New Mexico.

My daughter hugged me today and said, "Daddy, your getting skinnier. I can tell when i hug you. You feel different." I haven't seen much weight loss on the scale the last couple weeks,  but she sure made me feel good.

November 20, 2015

my son and weightlifting

Some wives give socks or ties for presents. Not my wife. She knows exactly what will make me happy. Weightlifting suplaments baby! I got this in the mail today for my 40th birthday. I'm a happy man. 

Today at my son's weightlifting practice coach Miller gave my son a Miller gym t-shirt for an early Christmas present. My son was was so happy about the shirt he refused to take it off last night. He slept in it. He really loves weightlifting, and he's pretty darn good at it. I'd really like it if I could watch him practice just one time without my eyes filling with tears. It's funny how love and and being proud of seeing my children exell  makes me cry.

videoHere's a video of my son doing power cleans. If he continues progressing as well as he is coach Miller will let him lift in the 2nd annual John Henry Davis meet in January. My dad even said he'd come to watch my sons first weightlifting meet. Even though my Dad only lives a few hours away he only visits once every couple years. So that would make it a particularly special day for my son. He and I would be lifting in the same meet together. Now that's what I call father/son bonding! 

November 19, 2015

weightlifting, retirement, and Santa Fe New Mexico

I find great joy from training olympic style weightlifting. The dedication and focus it takes to train in this sport fits my personality perfectly. I have a perfect weightlifting specific gym and like minded athletes to train with. I have two top notch coaches, one weightlifting coach and one nutrition coach. I'm completely content where I'm at. And now that I'm able to slow down on overtime my family life is the best it's ever been. 

I spent my entire career counting down the days to be able to retire and move, and now that I'm eligible to retire from the prison I've found complete satisfaction where I'm at. My wife and I have been house shopping here in Santa Fe, the houses are unbelievably expensive, there's no way we could afford to buy a house here. So after years of wanting to retire, I've found  that now I don't want to, and I sure as heck don't want to move away from my weightlifting gym here in Santa Fe.

I started taking creatine again. I'm always amazed how quickly my body gets strength gains and how much more quickly my body recovers when I take creatine. The only down side to creatine is the weight gain. I've gained three pounds in less than a week. All the weight gain is water weight, and since i don't have to worry about making weight at a lower weight class i don't mind. My next weightlifting meet is in January. The meet in January will be my last chance to qualify for the Masters Weightlifting National Championships.

November 18, 2015

help to recover

This week will be the hardest week of training I've ever done.  I'm only half way through and already my legs are trashed! Today is my only day of rest this week so I thought what better way to recover than with a massage! Plus it's my 40th birthday today. What a great gift for myself! My legs were so sore it hurt when the massage therapist was working on them! Hopefully the massage will help me recover more so I can trash them all all over again.