Month: April 2013

A bit over three months ago, I got a call from Mojo McKay from Rocket 101. He was calling in response to a contest entry I had made back in December of 2012. I’ve won plenty of radio contests, tickets, beer, etc., but this one was different. This contest was called Rock your Rolls Off 2013, in partnership with Nautilus Fitness & Racquet Club. I had submitted my story about why I wanted to lose weight, get healthy and make a real lifestyle change. A quick summary of that is a lot of bad health in our family history, plenty of bad habits, and a lot of laziness. At the time the light at the end of my tunnel was a train and I didn’t know how to get out of the way. I was selected as one of four contestants, and I was to be paired with a personal trainer at Nautilus for an eight week challenge to lose weight and get healthy.


January 16th, I was paired up with Dan Jackowicz, a.k.a. “Danny Twoguns”.  We started working out the very next night.  For the next eight weeks I spent three nights a week at Nautilus doing things I’ve never even considered before, and this isn’t the first time I’ve worked out.  I learned terms like kettle bell swing, blast off push-up, TRX row, and was re-acquainted with an old nemesis from gym class, the burpie.  I sweat and worked like I never had.  I put in extra time, and I ate a totally different diet (and thought that I didn’t eat bad before; I was wrong).  Perhaps most importantly, after 17 years, I finally quit smoking.

I came in second in the contest, but statistically I felt like I won.  I decided to keep working until I really did win.  I might not be as strict on the diet as I was, but I’m still there three days a week plus one.  I’m seeing changes in myself that are remarkable.  I think I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I’m more flexible, more stamina, overall I might be healthier than I’ve ever been.  Three months in to this new lifestyle now, I’ve lost 32 lbs and 5 inches off my waist.  I haven’t been checked since the end of the contest, but that weight is almost all fat.  I weigh less now than I did when I was 21 and I’m in better shape.

I couldn’t have done any of this without a whole crew of people.  Most importantly, my wife Danie, who took on even more time with the kids so I could work out in the evenings.  She recognized why I was doing this: for her and the kids.  I was on a path to an early end.  Second, Twoguns Training and everyone’s support at Nautlius.  Danny Twoguns is now a friend of mine, not just a trainer at the gym.  Everyone on the Twoguns team, Annette, Dawn, Maggie, Joe, everyone there has been so supportive and helpful.  I’m even ok with being known as “Jammin’ Jesse” there.

This is by no means the end.  This was more than a contest, more than a few prizes and a free meal.  I’ve made a real lifestyle change and going to Nautilus is a part of that now.  I couldn’t imagine going back to what I was before.  In the words of my neighbor “Dude, you were getting HUGE.”  My next goals are these:  By the time I’m 33 in June I want to weigh what I did when I graduated high school, ~215-220.  Then, at our 15 year reunion, I want to be at what I proclaimed my original goal to be when I started this, I said I wanted to lose 60 lbs, getting down to 208.



I’m having a wine called ganache I think. I’m not sure, I didn’t order it.


My friend Natalie just produced a wedge device to fix the horrible table wobble like manna fallen from the heavens.


Kyoto something or other was great, if a bit heavy on the bacon.

I liked the sushi, it wasn’t strong or pungent at all. A simple tuna roll should be just that. The wasabi was spicy but flat, and came to life a bit when combined with the sauce.

I think I need a more thorough experience, but I’m definitely excited to come back for a dinner event.

Your 2013 Pittsburgh PiratesI’m apprehensive.  I’m excited.  I’m anxious.  I’m hopeful.  Clearly, I have mixed emotions about the 2013 Pirates.  Is this really the year that ends twenty years of heartbreak?

Baseball was my first love as a kid.  In my formative years in the 80’s the Steelers weren’t very good with Bubby Brister at the helm (and my friends who liked the Browns pointed that out a lot), and I hadn’t really been introduced to hockey yet because my Dad wasn’t much of a fan.  But baseball, glorious baseball, was all consuming.  My brother and I, along with the neighborhood kids played religiously.  The wide open adjoined back yards of our house and the Gaber’s, and even the tree lines on each side made a great field.  Sometimes we’d go to the end of the block and play at the Pelinski’s house on the corner.  If there were enough kids the games were over in the parking lot at Tech, and always ended up in an argument or just playing home run derby.

We went to Pirates games nearly as long as I can remember, literally.  I think I went to my first game when I wasn’t more than six or seven years old.  Our seats were in right field at Three Rivers.  We’d join the crowd in heckling Chris Sabo and Daryll Strawberry chanting their names.  My Dad and uncle would smoke there in the stands, and have a few beers.  I’m sure they were annoyed by our constant pestering for peanuts and what not, but I was sure oblivious to that.  The Pirates played winning baseball back then and it was all that mattered.

Fast forward twenty years.  What was the joy of my childhood has become something different.  For many of those years you assumed they’d lose.  Eventually, when those games would be a random win, the joy was gone.  A few years ago we went for my older brother’s birthday and it was an extra innings walk off win by the Pirates over the Dodgers; I felt nothing.  After that I didn’t go to any games for a few years (we had gone to at least one a year for a long time).

Now that you’ve read my unsolicited back story, I’ll actually cover something relevant: the opening game of the 2013 season.  I didn’t exactly have butterflies during the announcement of the starting lineup, but I was excited.  Then some bluegrass fiddle players did the National Anthem and it was terrible and I nearly had to turn it off.  I persevered.  Here’s what I learned:

aj-burnett_4201. AJ Burnett is old.  He’s a beast, but he’s old.  His ten strikeouts was more of a result from the Cubs being a terrible hitting team than the filthiness of his stuff.  On opening day, you should not be gassed before you get to the 6th inning.  His counterpart, Jeff Szmardja, Smurja, Smnotgonnaworkhereanymore, was the definition of filthy.  Really he’s like Burnett was as a young up and coming star.




andrew-mccutchen2. Help us Andrew McCutchen, you’re our only hope.  The Pirates don’t look like they’ve improved at the plate at all.  The atrocious hitting that led to the late season collapse last year continues, and if they’re going to be a contender in September that’s unacceptable.  As I said, Samardzja (how do you spell that anyway) was filthy, but they took terrible strikeouts and were not stellar on the basepaths, either.




Smilin' Clint Hurdle
3. DON’T PANIC!  In previous seasons, an opening day slap like that would have set the tone, the tempo, and everything else for the down-in-the-mouth Buccos.  Same ‘ol same ‘ol.  Not under Clint Hurdle.  I don’t think anyone in baseball is more optimistic and at the same time more driven to improve and succeed.  There’s hope with him at the helm still.  There has been marked improvement in both of his first two years.  It took him five years to get the Rockies to the World Series, and as hard and impossible as it seems, we as Pirates fans need to continue to be patient. But he has to give us a little bit.  We need a season over .500 and he’ll get a damn parade.

It’s a long season, and I love all of it.  After the initial glow wears off I’ll be paying attention to the Penguins and Knicks, and the Steelers draft, but some day this July or August you’ll see me and my family sitting somewhere in PNC Park chanting “LET’S GO BUCS!” no matter what the record is.  I can’t help it!