Only You Should Define You; The Aging Youthful Dude’s View

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog, and I thought I would share my thoughts on how I let others define me for too long. What do I mean by this? Don’t let what others think, say or do determine what YOU do, or who you are!! Be strong, and do what you want. Set your sights on your vision, and don’t let others sway you. Let me share a little about my growing up.

What got me thinking along these lines is a while back, I made contact with a girl on Facebook who was an older sister to a friend of mine in school. She was a year older, and let me just say she was HOT??? She was one of the best looking girls in the school. Great looking, popular, lots of friends!!! I remember one time at my friend’s house, and as we walked in the backyard, there she was, laying out in the sun, in a bikini that was pretty dang small and didn’t hide much!! That vision stayed with me for a very long time. So, back to present, and she and I were messaging back and forth, she says that I was her dream date back in high school. Well, back in high school I didn’t feel I was much to look at, was not all that as you would say, not the best athlete, although I tried hard. I wasn’t popular and I wasn’t in any one clique. I was kind of a mix of jock, burnout and nerd. Anyway, to have one of the hottest girls in my school say that was pretty eye opening. I let people put me down a lot back then, was bullied pretty bad physically for a time, and just never seemed to fit in. I didn’t think much of myself because I listened and believed what others said or acted to me.

Boxing was my answer to being bullied when I was younger, to get my frustration out in a controlled way.
My answer to being bullied when I was younger. Boxing, to get out the frustration in a controlled, healthy way.

On top of that, sports, which I loved, were never performed good enough. I always got “you should have done this”, or you “should have done it that way”.  NEVER did I hear “good game” or  “way to go”. Whatever I did I was told it was just never good enough.

Another oldie but goodie...circa 1980?

Because I let others define who I was, I never was the person I could have been. Jump ahead 25 years: I raced sled dogs for 35 years, and set as one of my goals to win the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. I ran my first BG Marathon in 1985, not really knowing what the heck I was doing. After that, due to some changes in my life, I was out of the sport until 1990, when I ran the 6 dog Beargrease and a couple other smaller races. After that, I started racing the Marathon again in 1992, and ran it every year until 2010, except for 2002, when I was up in Alaska at the Iditarod, 2004, when Mary ran the Marathon, and 2009, when Mary and Michelle Ethun ran our dogs in the BG mid distance race.

I ran the marathon 16 times, never finishing out of the top ten, but having to scratch a few times. Mary ran in 2004 and the following year, I took back the reins and drove the team to victory!! I finally won the race I tried and dreamed of winning for so many years. MY joy and happiness was to be short lived. I listened to one musher, (sorry, but kind of an asshole) tell others “Big deal, he won the race, who was in it anyway”. Then, a couple days after the race, I get a letter from a family member pretty much taking what was left  of my joy and wind out of my sails!  I let these two people take away one of the biggest moments of my life.

Mark Black: Who Says a big guy can't win the Beargrease Marathon
My icy smile after winning the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in 2005. It was short-lived because I let the words of others affect me.

Since then, I still have a hard time not listening to the naysayer, but I’m working on not letting it affect me. It’s hard to do sometimes, but we just have to let them say and do what they want and try not to let it affect us. WE are not their problem. THEY are their problem. It is pretty easy to look back and see so many times I let others define me, or change the outcome of something happening in my life. It still happens today, doing the Strongman competitions and all the heavy lifting. There are those who say I’m too old, or don’t have the right build, or “I just don’t like you lifting all that heavy stuff”. What I’m learning to do is say to myself “Sorry, but it ain’t your decision, and it ain’t your life”. I ain’t gonna let what others think and sway me from what I want to do anymore. When people say things against what I am doing, it makes me want to do more, lift harder and heavier. I am going through a few health issues right now that are affecting my workouts, but I will not let that, or the naysayers define me. I will keep on keeping on, keep after my goals, even if I run into a road block, I will become the road crew, get it fixed and keep going.

No one else...only you should define YOU!

Oh yeah, and I’ll keep remembering that hot big sister in the bikini!

Clothes Strong Enough For An Alaskan Strongman

Clothes For An Alaskan Strongman

As retired mushers, Mark and I had numerous pieces of clothing from a company known for its “brown duck” pants and coveralls popular with mushing people and their handlers. Last fall, we set out to find a pair of bibs from the brown duck company and had a heck of a time finding a pair that was long enough for the big dude. After going from store to store, store to store, and…well you get the picture I was disappointed to find out most of the new styles for this season had a maximum inseam of 32″. With Mark being a solid 6’6″ a 32″ inseam would definitely qualify as “flood pants” for him! Although with as tall as he is, he usually can get by with a 34″ inseam, but only making pants to a size 32??? In the past we bemonaed Big and Tall stores were really just “big” stores. In the few stores we’ve tried to find pants to fit Mark, we can find pants with 50-60″ waists, but not with longer inseams. We always wondered where is the tall part of the store!

An Alaskan Strongman needs strong clothes!

Loyal Customers

For a good part of 30 years, when it came to getting Mark work pants or jeans to fit and be well made, we could count on the said Brown Duck company. That was until last fall when I went in search of the coveralls. Thankfully one of the stores in town had a pair left over from the previous year’s order and when he tried them on, they fit in his backside (all the squatting he’s been doing has made that grow!) and in length! However, for the first time in almost 30 years, he was extremely disappointed in the quality of the hardware on the snap and buttons. Each time he wears them, the worries they are going to break. I thought to myself, maybe it’s time to try something new…

As a haul truck driver, Mark spends 12 hours at a time behind the wheel if this bad boy and needs comfortable, durable pants!

The something new, really isn’t THAT new. I first heard of the company in the 90’s when they introduced The Bucket Boss, a handy canvas cover for a 5 gallon bucket to carry tools and then again in the early 2000’s when they introduced the Long Tail T, the cure for plumbers butt! They then went off our radar a bit when we moved to our remote cabin and lived without TV for 12 years and subsequently retired from sled dogs. Besides, Mark and I tend to be very loyal and stick with things we know and like. That was until the Brown Duck coverall issue.

Duluth Trading Company has been a long-time sponsor of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon and we heard great things about their products from mushers and handlers. I thought I’d write the company a quick note explaining our disappointment in the other company’s bibs and asked if they would be interested in letting Mark test out some of their clothes. I was pleasantly surprised I heard back from Kate a couple of days later with a resounding yes! At the time they were extremely busy with Black Friday specials, new store openings and the Christmas shopping season. After a few emails back and forth, sometime in mid-January a huge Duluth Trading box was delivered to our front door. Mark texted me and said it was “like Christmas”! Not only did they send a pair of pants for Mark, they sent an awesome pair of insulated bibs and jacket, but they also sent some pieces for me too!

Something New; Pants From Fire Hose?

As soon as Mark tried on the pair of DuluthFlex Fire Hose Pants, he was SOLD! From the mouth of the dude himself:

What I like about my work pants is that they are so soft and comfortable right away. Not like (the other pants) where you have to wash the a bunch of times before they soften up. I also like all the belt loops; keeps the belt where it belongs! I like the ease of getting stuff in and out of the nice, big pockets. I like the quality of the construction. All in all, like much better than the last pair of (the other company’s) pants I bought. I will be a Duluth customer from here on out!!!

One of the reasons Mark wanted the bibs was his belt cutting into his back while sitting for 12 hours at time bouncing around in his haul truck. The back of the Fire Hose pants have a long channel as a belt loop, not just one little strip of fabric, that “keeps the belt where it belongs!”. (See photo below, courtesy of Duluth Trading) Since the Fire Hose pants entered his life, the bibs have been worn only once or twice, when I insist on washing them! We will definitely buying more of these in the future! (And this writer realized as she was writing the article, she didn’t get a picture of The Dude in his favorite pants! I will add to this posting at a date in the near future).

Duluth Trading DuluthFlex Fire Hose Carpenter Pants

Alaskan Hardgear Bibs Good Enough For An Alaskan Strongman

Unfortunately the jacket was too big for the Incredible Hulk (yep, he keeps growing), but when he tried on the Alaskan Hardgear bibs, he commented out loud “I wish I had a pair of these while running dogs!” Again, in the words of the Dude:

The bibs I haven’t worn near as much as the pants, but I like all the pockets and they are plenty warm. I wore them at the start of the Iditarod, at 20-30 below, and stayed warm being a spectator. Once I got them zipped and cinched up, they were pretty easy to walk in. Construction seems top notch. Will have to wear them more!!!

Duluth Trading Bibs

In the past, we had bibs custom made to fit his size. With him being broad in the chest, most bibs were too tight on top and too short on the bottom. As you can see in this photo with musher and Duluth Trading sponsored Nathan Schroeder (we knew this guy when he was a pre-teen hanging out at races helping his dad!) at the re-start of the Iditarod in Fairbanks last week. It was 20 below at the start and only warmed up to about 10 below! We were total spectators, not petting a single dog, not bending over to put on a single bootie and not scooping a single pile of dog poo! (There’s a blog already started on the spectator topic…watch for it in the next week or so).

As mentioned earlier, I received a few pieces of clothes as well. I LOVE them and I will share my experience in future post. As this product review comes to a close, The Aging Youthful Dude and I give Duluth Trading’s clothes two thumbs up! Check out their website or one of their retail locations (more are opening every year and we are waiting to hear when a retail store will come to Fairbanks! Thanks Kate and Duluth Trading, you’ll be seeing more orders from this Alaskan Strongman!

We’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite Duluth Trading products. One of mine, is their commercials. HELLO….they are hilarious!!! Leave us a message on our Facebook or Instagram pages with your faves.

Feeding The Dude: What I Eat In a Day

We all have super busy lives and feeding the dude is no different. How do I stay strong, happy, healthy and Aging Youthful?  First, I have to MAKE time for myself to be healthy, happy and aging youthful.  If I’m not happy, I won’t be healthy; if I’m not healthy, I won’t be happy…with myself or anyone else. How do I make time? I schedule it! I have  a calendar and pencil in the gym and other things I want to get done. (Mary will share more about list/goal setting in a future post). This week I’m going to talk about how I make time to prepare what I eat to fuel muscle growth for Strongman training, how I stay on track AND get enough food to eat while working shift-work. Like the above, feeding the dude all about making time to make sure I have what I need ready to go.

feedthedude

Food Prep Is King For Feeding The Dude

Mary and I prep a bunch of our meals a couple times a week so we can grab and go when we are in a hurry at home, and we pack our lunches the night before and have lined up in the fridge. Mine on one side, hers on the other. If we wake up late, all we have to do is throw in a bag and go.  We usually spend Sunday’s pre-cooking a bunch of food for the upcoming week and maybe one other time during the week.  We also use our Isagenix meal replacement and protein shakes to fill in some of the gaps and to spend less time prepping four extra meals for each day; two for me, two for Mary. Here are some feeding the dude food prep favorites:

  • A dozen (or more) grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • A couple pounds of grilled burgers
  • A crock pot of chili or stew
  • A big pot of gluten-free pasta with beef or chicken
  • Chopped or sliced veggies in baggies or containers
  • Brown and/or wild rice mix cooked
  • Oatmeal (Yes, you CAN pre-cook)

We don’t do all of the above all the time, just what we think we will need to get through 3-4 days. We also have in the fridge a large container of thawed Organic frozen blueberries. Fresh fruit can be very expensive in Alaska and it’s usually at least a week older than the lower 48 by the time it reaches our shelves. We do the best we can by using frozen berries for our oatmeal and Greek yogurt.

On work days, I spend 12 hours in this bad boy. I tfood to keep me fueled

Proteins, Carbs and Fats; It’s What Fuels The Dude

Keep in mind, if I’m working, I usually don’t workout. I work 12-hour shift and with drive time, that takes up about 14 hours a day, and I need my beauty sleep! (Watch for a post on sleep in the future). I try to get in 300 plus grams of protein per day, a minimum of one gram of protein for each pound of body weight. I adjust my carbs depending on how I feel and what my belly looks like. If I start getting run down and tired, my carbs are too low and I add more.  If I am putting extra girth around the midsection, it’s time to back off the carbs a bit. (I’ll talk about carbs in a future post too). I also make sure to get enough healthy fats: avocado, coconut oil or nuts and seeds. Fats don’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat. (Mary is making me stop right here as I could do on and on about this one, and I will in another future post). The photo below is what fills my lunch box on a work day.

The dude's lunch box essentials. Pre-prepped and packed meals, protein packets, water, greens and Ionix Supreme.

A Day in the Life of Feeding The Dude

Here is an example of what I eat looks like on a day off from work. I like to workout mid-afternoon around 2 o’clock.

  • As soon as I get out of bed I have half of a fresh-squeezed lemon with Apple Cider Vinegar and Ionix Supreme.
  • About 15 minutes later I have a super shake with IsaLean Pro, IsaPro, and IsaGreens.
  • About an hour after that I will usually have 5-6 of organic eggs, with onion and cheese, sometimes topped with sour cream and salsa.  Along with it I have some sort of complex carb like oatmeal with berries or a banana.  It all depends on how hungry I am and what type of workout I have planned.
  • An hour and a half to two hours before I hit the gym I have some Greek yogurt with blueberries and a IsaPro shake.
  • On my way to the gym, I drink my Amped Power with a little Amped Hydrate.
  • Just before I get to the gym, I slam an e+ shot!
  • My workouts are usually 1.5 to 2 hours and during my workout I am sipping on Amped Hydrate and will have a couple Amped Fuel packets if needed.
  • Right after my workout, another super shake with IsaLean Pro, IsaPro, Greens, Ionix, Amped Recover and a little Power.
  • When I get home, I’ll have some kind of a meal with around a 40/40/20 split of protein, carbs and fat.
  • I usually have another meal or two like this before bed.
  • Just before bed, I will have another shake, with IsaLean Pro and IsaPro.

That’s on a workout day, a day I’m NOT working.  On days that I work, I have the dash of my haul truck full of food to snack on and have a full meal at 11 and 3! All these foods are the ones Mary and I prepped and have in square containers to make it easy to grab quick while I’m waiting for my truck to get loaded. I’ll also use the IsaLean Protein bars to satisfy my sweet tooth and to get in super-easy nutrition on extra busy days. (My favorite is Chocolate Decadence…it’s like a chocolate rice krispie bar with fudge on top).

Snacks and Water on the dash of my haul truck at work keeps me fueled

Getting Enough Food To Fuel The Dude

One of my biggest downfalls I have is not eating enough sometimes. I must be doing something right though because all my clothes are getting tight, or I can’t fit in them anymore!   I am 6’6″ tall, and yesterday at the gym, I weighed 310 pounds.  I am getting real close to two of my goals: A bicep measurement of 20 inches, and my bench press, squat and deadlift to 400, 500, and 600 pounds respectively. In order to get there I have to eat enough to fuel my workouts and build muscle!  I also do enjoy treats a couple times a week; pizza, wine or beer or ice cream. OK maybe the ice cream is more than a couple times a week…but I’m not training to be a ripped bodybuilder. I try to follow the 80/20 rule; eat right 80% of the time and let yourself have treats 20% of the time.

Even this dude allows for some treats. This is my current favorite ice cream!

There you have it; a day in the life of feeding The Dude. It’s a lot, but I’m a big guy lifting big weights. If you need help figuring out what to eat for your goals, contact us. Mary and I love to help teach peeps how to keep movin’, keep liftin’, keep eatin’ clean and supplementin’ right.

“LIFT TO LIVE! LIVE TO LIFT”

The Aging Youthful Dude

Note: This post contains links to many of the Isagenix products. If you click on one and decide to place and order, Mary and I will receive a commission. As with any of the products we promote, we use them and believe in them, whether we receive a referral/commission or not. We are not pushing products on anyone and we want to be sure we have integrity in our business and let you know it is one of our income streams. That being said, for best results, we like to chat with the people we work with and coach on product use, to make sure they get the right products for their goals. Not everyone wants to be a Strongman competitor and what someone else consumes in a day is going to look a LOT different than the above. 

Just Keep Punching: The Youthful Aging Mindset

What Do The Words Youthful Aging Mindset Mean To You?

Does a Youthful Aging mindset mean having the body of a 20 year old when your 50?  Does it mean being in as good of shape in your 40’s as you were in high school?  Does it mean having enough energy to keep up with your grand kids?  Or maybe it means that you can bend over and put on your shoes without getting out of breath!!! Last week Mary gave her Aging Youthful Top 5 List and this week I’ll give you my thoughts.

I guess Aging Youthful means to me to not put limitations on what you can do, or are going to do, just because of a number!!!  I have to admit, I have seen so many from my past that look like they have given up the battle.  Some of these next comments are as I see or saw it, and are in no way meant to downgrade or hurt anyone.  I am just going to be stating it as I see/saw it. I have never been one to pull any punches, and I tell it like it is.

A Couple Aging Mindset Eye Openers

A few years ago (oh shit, more than a few), Mary and I attended my 30th high school class reunion.  It was great seeing old classmates and we had a blast.  But old is the key word here.  While many looked great, some not so much.  On the way back to our hotel, I told Mary there were a few that looked like they had just graduated but some looked and acted as if they had given up the fight and I felt like I was hanging out with a bunch of fat, old men. What made the difference? I wasn’t sure, but I sure knew I didn’t want to become one!  Because of what we saw on those two nights, a few weeks later Mary and I adopted our new, healthier lifestyle. (Photo on the left was us on the way to the reunion in July of 2009. Photo on the right, this past July)

MandM2009-2016

Our next eye opener was a couple of years later when we had an Isagenix booth at a health fair at a paper mill I worked at for 17 years. This was an eye opener for aging  but especially the weight gain part.  The employees who work in production work a rotating shift schedule, going back and forth from days to nights (one of the worst work schedules there is for your body) and I was amazed at how some of the people I used to work with looked!  There was a LOT of weight/fat gain, a lot of people looking a lot older than they were and a couple I didn’t recognize!  Again, many looked as if they had given up the fight.

If You Think You’re Old, You Are

And what is this fight I refer to? How about NOT giving in to the status quo and agreeing with the statement that, oh, we’re just getting older, so I’m going to put on some extra pounds?  Or, I am just so tired all the time; I don’t have the energy to workout.  Or I am just so busy; I don’t have the time to fix healthy meals, workout, etc.I have a close relative that has an aging mindset and is always saying “I can’t do this, I can’t do that because I am OLD”. Well, because she keeps telling herself that, that’s what she is. I have another relative, ten years older than me whose age doesn’t get in the way of doing whatever her heart leads her to.  Whether it’s riding a bike 50 miles, spending a weekend kayaking with friends or taking a vacation to scuba dive in the tropics, nothing holds her back! Two opposite ends of the spectrum.  And who do you think loves and lives life more? (Hint, the one in the photo below).

My Aunt Shelley: 65 and living and loving life

Don’t fall into the “I’m just too old” crap trap.  There is a lot of truth to the saying “you’re only as old as you feel”.  I do have to admit, there are mornings when it hurts to get out of bed and is usually because I sometimes kinda overdo it at the gym, right Mary? (Editor’s note, the answer is yes and any of the crossed out words in this article is my “editing”. lol). Yes, I can get carried away during my workouts and sometimes go a little too hard.  But my motto is why just go half-assed?  If I am gonna spend the time at the gym, I’m gonna give it my all.  Now I’m not saying everyone has to do what I am doing, training really hard and heavy, but I am saying everyone needs to do something to keep moving; lift weights, do some cardio, Zumba, dance, walk, hike, yoga or ???  Yoga is something I have done a few times, and I figured out, I NEED more yoga. Guys, don’t think yoga is just for the womenfolk, let me tell you, it is HARD!  I can pull a semi, lift a car, pick up a 300 pound rock, but Yoga kicks my ass!

Yoga; the workout that kicks the Aging Youthful Dudes Ass!

“Just Keep Punching” ~Luis Camacho

What is the message I am trying to get out on this post??  AGE YOUTHFULLY: Move, eat healthy, supplement right (we cannot get all the nutrients we need from our food supply anymore) and most importantly change your attitude!  Age IS just a number and if you THINK you’re old, you ARE.  Mary and I have met so many people, our age and older, who are not letting a number define who they are or what they are doing.  One of my favorite people we have met through our travels is Luis Camacho. At 79 years young, he’s still coaching boxing, holding the mitts in the ring, and has such a great outlook on life!!  I wanna be like Luis when I grow up. “Just keep punching” as Luis says and don’t give up the fight!

No Aging Mindset Here! Luis Camacho, 79 years young and still going strong!

What am I gonna do?  I am NOT going down without a fight.  I will be punching along with kicking and screaming every step of the way to keep my youthful aging mindset.  I will continue to lift heavy and probably continue to overdo it sometimes. I will start getting my butt to Yoga more.  I will continue to eat healthy MOST of the time. I am not saying I don’t eat less than good sometimes because I LOVE ice cream and chocolate and have some when I want to, just not every day and my workouts (usually) take care of the extra calories. Lastly, I will try to start doing a little cardio and I will continue to keep spreading the Aging Youthful word!

We want to hear from you! What are you going to do? Share one thing you can start today to change to a Youthful Aging Mindset by commenting below or posting on our Facebook page.

Can’t: You Can’t Let It Define You

Mark Black 2005 Beargrease Champion can't

Don’t let people spoil your motivation and tell you you can’t do something.  If you want to set your sights on something then dammit, do it. I have let others spoil some of the things I have done, or wanted to do, just because I listened to their negativism!  Good example: Some of you know I raced sled dogs for many years. (more like: holy sxxt 35 years!!).  I had two major goals I wanted to accomplish during those years. One; finish the Iditarod. Two; Win the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon.  Through the years, I had many tell me I would never win a sled dog race because I was too big, my dogs were too slow, I didn’t know how to train a team right, etc. etc. etc.  Well, I raced in the Beargrease 16 times, never finishing out of the top ten! In 2004 Mary decided she wanted to give the Marathon a try, and she finished an impressive 4th place. The following year, I took basically the same team at my 13th run at the race (13th time is the charm!), and finally had my victory!  It was just one of those magic carpet rides where everything was going as planned, and everything went great.  It was one of those moments where you can think back through all the hard work, and money spent, and goals achieved, and say yes, it was all worth it.

You CAN’T Let Anyone Burst Your Bubble

After crossing the finish line beaming with pride, it didn’t take long to have my sought after victory tarnished by naysayers.  I had one competitor comment “well big deal, who did you beat?”, and a couple days later, a family member sent an awful letter pretty much knocking all the wind out of my happy sails.  I let my accomplishment be tarnished by their negativism, I vowed I can’t ever let that happen again.

Mark Black: Who Says a big guy can't win the Beargrease Marathon

Moving On: More Can’ts

A couple years later we retired from racing sled dogs, a passion I had for so many years.  Six months later I found a new love for an old hobby, lifting weights, when Mary and I bought the local gym. We ran that for a couple years, but two years later decided we wanted to thaw out and moved to Florida.  While in Florida, I became interested in Strongman Competitions and started training for the different events at the gym we worked out at in Ocala.  I had planned on entering a competition down there, but at the last minute they canceled the masters division and I didn’t think I was ready for the open class. We have since moved to Alaska and have been living in Fairbanks for the last year.

Mark Black Strongman Tire Flip

Not long after moving here, I found a Strongman gym and when I tell people what I’m doing I have people say that I can’t do it becuase “you’re too old to start doing that” “you’re gonna get hurt”, “is your back ok to do that”, or as one family member said, “I just don’t like you doing that, I don’t like you weighing that much”.  Well guess what?  It’s my life, it’s my back, and I am doing just fine for 55 years young! Matter of fact, I entered my first competition in July and did pretty well! The best part was beating  ALL the competitors in the truck pull, all of which were 15-20+ years my junior.  Yep, I pulled a semi for time, and had the fastest time at 55 years young!  I will be doing more competitions in the future, and have set a goal to qualify for nationals! My next goal is to do a 400 pound bench, 500 pound squat, and 600 pound deadlift, and I’m getting pretty close.  Oh yeah, I’ve always wanted  20 inch arms too!

Turn Your Can’ts Into I CAN, I WILL and I AMs!

Set a goal, and just go for it!  Don’t let others detain you from accomplishing them and don’t let ANYONE say you can’t do something.  I am 6 foot 6 inches tall, weigh 310 pounds and have never been stronger in my life and I am loving it, except I keep growing out of my clothes!

Can't The Aging Youthful Dude says don't let it define you.

P.S. About the Iditarod goal.  I ran it in 1996 and 2002 and had a bunch of bad luck and had to scratch in both around the 900 mile mark.  I have yet to accomplish that goal, but we ARE living in mushing Mecca of Two Rivers, Alaska, with our only dog, an Aussie named Takum. But I ain’t dead yet, right Chase Tingle?