The online diary of a gay courtesan.

Category — Career Advice

I have Hypercholesterolemia

IMG_4661I am back after an absolutely magnificent trip to Scotland. If you have never been, you really must go. Put it on your bucket list. I would live there, no doubt. I loved it!

I came back feeling much better than before I left, and coming out of that funk made me realize that I need to be more proactive about taking care of myself emotionally. I was diagnosed Bipolar II in 1999, but I hadn’t had symptoms (that I could recognize) since 2011 or so, and I hadn’t had therapy since 2005. When everything started slowly unraveling in my family, traces of the emotional cycling began. Then I lost several people in short order. Then current events (and people’s posts about the events on social media) began piling on top of me. Eventually I was in the midst of a full-on funk. I was in a very dark place for a few months. I can hardly function during those nadirs, which is why I took nearly all of May and June off this year. It’s July, and I’m only just now starting to feel like I can begin a lighter travel schedule again. But part of what I did decide while I have the clarity of mood, thought, and energy is that I need to seek help from a therapist WHILE I FEEL GOOD. I will not do it while I feel bad, so I have to do it NOW. In this way the relationship and resources will already be in place when I eventually downshift again. I will see my new councilor for the first time on Monday. So, I feel productive for finally taking this step after more than a decade of avoiding it. Also, it was time to do my semi-annual HIV/STI test, and I needed to do a follow up after my horrible cholesterol results from January.

I have Hypercholesterolemia.

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What the fuck???? I exercise 3-6 times per week, depending on how motivated my moods allow me to be. But when I do work out, I go intensely. I drink a gallon of water every day! I went practically fucking vegan these last couple months! GRRRRRR!

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full body

April 2009: #130, ~8% fat, vs, April 2014: #160, ~16% fat

7/31/2012: In 2012 I was already in the midst of a weight gain phase that lasted from 2010 until 2013 (see progress pic at left illustrating 2009 vs 2014). I was purposefully and specifically avoiding cardio/dance and eating vast amounts of food (much of it junk, meat, and dairy), as I purposefully added 30 pounds to my frame (much of it as body fat, not muscle = “doing a dirty bulk”). I was focusing on gaining mass. The doctor told me to increase my cardio, but I put that off for six months.

April 2014: #160, ~16% body fat, vs. April 2015: #145, ~12% body fat

April 2014: #160, ~16% fat, vs. June 2015: #145, ~12% fat

1/6/2015: In 2013 I started a protracted leaning phase. I began 18 months of intermittent fasting, and started doing High Intensity Interval Training three times per week. I think the fasting and cardio training must have radically improved my triglycerides and VLDL, but I can’t explain why the LDL would spike (I was eating LOTS of Chipotle in 2013/2014, but food cholesterol isn’t supposed to be affecting serum cholesterol).

7/9/2015: Anyway, after I got the January 2015 results I immediately cut out Chipotle, cleaned my diet up SIGNIFICANTLY, but then cleaned it up even more in May when I went practically vegan on the advice of my new trainer (see progress pic at right illustrating 2014 vs 2015). In the last six months my triglycerides and VLDL improved again, but my LDL went up slightly in spite of everything. Ergo: Time to look at options for pills when nothing the body does on its own is enough.

The reason I am posting this is to impress that no matter how you appear, regardless what you think your fitness levels indicate, you really must get your annual physicals. While I was without insurance, prior to the Affordable Care Act, I tried for many years to just do the best I could with diet and exercise (1999 was not only the year I was diagnosed Bipolar II, it was also the year I got my first cholesterol test, and it was already at +190 way back then – I had insurance while I was in graduate school at UCLA). Driving blind is what landed me in my 2012 situation, which I then assumed I could “fix” on my own with diet and exercise. I waited nearly three years to check on it again, and suddenly my doctor was threatening to put me on statins. Six months later, and I was assuming yet again that the improved diet, training, and aesthetic results would indicate all is well. Nope.

Assuming you know everything about your wellness can lead to dangerous health risks going unmonitored. No matter how conditioned/fit or deconditioned/fat you are, do make sure you are getting as full a picture as possible of what is happening inside your body. My dad suffered multiple strokes, but I wasn’t surprised: He still abuses his body and neglects his health/wellness. The worst thing about his strokes may be that he survived them. He is utterly debilitated and miserable. I do NOT want that for myself.

July 10, 2015   8 Comments

The 2015 Rate Hike

I have been dreading it for one year. I have been resisting it for two years. I have been considering it for three years. But now I really have no choice: I have to raise my rates.

The fee schedule I originally created has been in place since 2010 – it has been untouched for over five years. I’m going to keep the structure essentially the same, but the base rate upon which I generate all the multi-hour discounts ($250 for a one-hour in-call) is no longer enough. In this entry I will explain again how I think about fees.

I see a maximum of three clients in a day. I space them out by at least one hour, but prefer two or three hours, whenever scheduling permits. This keeps me fresh and upbeat at every appointment. As I said in Part 8 of (the unfinished series… yes, I know I need to complete it) “Establishing a Career in Adult Entertainment, Economics:”

Over the course of a week I am looking for 7 – 12 billable hours during trips away from home (and only 3-6 billable hours if I stay in Charlotte for the week). I need two billable hours to cover hotel and food; one or two to cover airplane fares; three to amass the money I need that week for living expenses; and then the difference goes toward savings, personal/creative projects, and/or spending money. This means that out of a maximum of 12 billable hours in a week (this is one way I avoid burnout!), a quarter of the money goes immediately back into my travel expense account, a quarter goes towards bills, and half goes to me.

That same formula still applies; however, the variables have changed. Inflation happens. From 2009 – 2013 there were more carriers flying out of Charlotte. Now USAirways has integrated with American Airlines, and the merger has resulted in consistently and significantly higher fares to many of my cities. A roundtrip flight between Charlotte and NYC had been $200-$300. I’m in NYC as I write this, and the flight this time was $500. Yay for unchecked capitalism! Also, from 2009 – 2012/2013 people weren’t traveling as much for work. Not only the airlines, but hotels were desperate to get butts into seats. For years I was able to get deeply discounted hotel rooms by using a corporate code from a friend. I could get into good hotels for only $35-$99/night. Now, even in places like Little Rock, the rooms start at $75/night, but they average $125. With the discount. In Little Rock. Arkansas. Think about that. Also, parking, ads, food, etc. have all increased since 2010.

Whether I like it or not, I have to adjust up. There are other concerns too:

  1. For years I was priced at the uppermost range of what most escorts were charging. This vetted out cheap, dickering time wasters. Lately I have been getting more messages from these unpleasant people. I went online, took a gander, and behold: Without me realizing it, my stagnated fee had become “average.” Oh, no, no, no, honey… Uhn uh. No. Don’t you ever use the word “average” about me ever again. No. I used to raise my eyebrows when someone’s base fee was $300 or higher, but now that range is common. Time to bump up and maintain connections with clients I can afford. Average??? Me?! Pfft!! LOL Have you seen my booty??? Okay then… It costs a lot of money to maintain the appearance people want and expect from me (which brings me to point #2).
  2. Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 11.24.25 AMI keep getting fitter and fitter. For real: My new trainer is Charlotte’s only vegan body builder, and he is cleaning me up and whopping my ass! This dude, the large amounts of organic food he wants me to eat, and the vegan supplements he wants me to use all cost way more than the trainer, food, and supplements I was using in the past. (I need to figure out how to update the pics in the carousel on my gallery page – those pics don’t look like me anymore.) Not to be a bitch, but I’m turning out to be one of those dickheads who keeps getting better with age. AND THAT COSTS MONEY TO MAINTAIN. If these silly, lesser heauxxx can charge more than me (and yes, many of them are silly, lesser heauxxx), you can bet your ass I’m not letting them leave me in the dust. No, sir. Nope. They’re not hotter than me. They’re not smarter than me. They’re not nicer than me. They’re not funnier than me. They sure as shit aren’t more transparent than me. They’re not more educated than me. They’re not more experienced than me. They’re not more reviewed than me. THEY’RE NOT BETTER THAN ME. Their videos are more current, but I don’t happen to give a damn about the “prestige” of gay porn. If the top dudes are charging $300-$400 nowadays…
  3. My grandmother died recently. And that fucking sucks worse than I can possibly convey to you. I have been struggling lately to even function. She was like a second mother to me. Because of the relationships ruined between gramma and every individual person in the family (except me), I have had to grieve alone and between work obligations. The rampant dysfunction in my family became an all-out feud once gramma passed away. She had six children, but chose me to be the executor of her estate and her personal representative  – what does that tell you about my five worthless uncles? Also, as I dig deeper into gramma’s choices over the four years after grampa died in 2011, I learn more and more about her that tarnishes my memory of her. One of the reasons I have taken so much time off from work these last six months is because I have not been emotionally viable as an escort. I’ve finally wrapped my head around the family situation, and I’m back on track (though dented, dinged, and a tad more cynical). At any rate, I absolutely cannot contend with the estate and rampaging family drama and also be stressed out about the eroding value of my out-dated base rate.

June 5, 2015   5 Comments

Affirmations and Esteem

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 4.27.50 PMSome time back I made a trip to Philly to visit my friend Dean Sage. He is a very talented and creative writer, producer, and artist. While I was visiting we did a series of photo shoots and video interviews. This video is a short explanation concerning the problems that can come from going into adult entertainment for affirmations and/or approval. I hope you will find it helpful. In a nutshell: It is a mistake, because whether or not you get the affirmation/approval you seek, it will have very little to do with you as a person. It is far better to go into adult entertainment with your sense of esteem, identity, and self already in place. It is best to find your approval inside yourself, rather than dispempowering yourself and putting yourself at the mercy of strangers, trolls, and other anonymous people. They will randomly build you up and tear you down at their whims.

April 4, 2015   2 Comments

No Deposit, No Return

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WARNING: This is a rant, so if you don’t want to read something angry, just go somewhere else for now.

I’ve been escorting for six years. In all that time I’ve almost never required a deposit. I’ve relied on intuition, and I’ve been alert and vigilant. I have looked for red flags, and I listen to my instinct. In fact, I get stood up way less than most of the other escorts I’ve talked to about this. Some potential clients have complained I make it too difficult to connect with me, because I don’t include my phone number in my ads. I require people to do everything via email. It works MUCH, MUCH better (for me) that way. But tonight is the last straw… I have had ENOUGH of my time being wasted.

Today my best friend’s mother died quickly and unexpectedly after getting suddenly ill last night. Last night I could’ve gone to be with Becky to comfort her. I could’ve been there when Mama Bear slipped away this morning. But I stayed here. I’m here at home. For no reason. Why? Why did I stay here?? Because I had to disrupt my work so much the last couple weeks (because of my Gramma’s illness) that I needed the damn money! That’s why!! We planned this evening length appointment LONG in advance!

To make this even worse, I was in Spain when Becky’s father passed away five months ago. I was… wherever the hell I was, I can’t remember now… when our mutual friend Shane died six weeks after that. Now I’m missing the death of someone I love for the opportunity to entertain someone I’ve never even met. I’m sitting here blogging about something I should have taken care of a long fucking time ago. This is my fault.

I have wanted to be trusting and patient with everyone, but that has repeatedly gotten me into situations exactly like this (most recently in Dallas, several weeks ago in January). I’m trying to be empathetic, flexible, and kind, and THIS is what happens? I would ask for comfort or advice on the escort forum, but I know I’d get other escorts and clients I’ve never met saying crap to me like, “Well, you should have blah blah blah,” like I’m some naïve neonate who’s stupid enough to bottom bareback for $20 in Palm Springs. I FUCKING KNOW I SHOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGING A GODDAMNED DEPOSIT!  The entire point is that I didn’t want people to feel like I don’t trust them!

Well, this is the final straw. I’m here in Charlotte for NO REASON. And I’m pissed. I should have been in Greenville last night. I should have cancelled this appointment. But it was made months ago, we spoke repeatedly during that time, the client texted me 90 minutes prior to starting to reconfirm AGAIN, and there were ZERO red flags. If I’d cancelled for this crisis, I could have simply returned the deposit. But HE has stood me up, and now I have no recourse.

Starting now, first time and new clients have to send me a 20% deposit before I will confirm their appointments. I’ve already updated my ads. People I have gotten to know will be exempt.

NOTE: Don’t even fucking think about posting anything resembling “I told you so” in the comments on this thread. I will delete it if you do. Fair warning.

February 23, 2015   2 Comments

My detailed regimen

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 12.39.50 AMSo, if you have a body type similar to mine and want results similar to mine, here are some general guidelines for exercise, nutrition, and rest that might help you achieve that end. The link is always visible, though in fine print, at the bottom of every page on this blog (see the link entitled “Fitness & Diet“). From time to time I update this fitness info, in case it is helpful to anyone. Please note that I am still eating on an Intermittent Fasting schedule. As I have said repeatedly, diet is 75% of success in fitness, and you need to eat clean and in proper amounts. You can find out your daily caloric needs with this calorie calculator. As a rule, since I need 2500 calories to maintain my weight, I consume 2000 calories on rest/HIIT days, and 3000 calories on Strength days. This ends up averaging out to 2500 calories per day, but it lets me play some advanced games with metabolism and fat storage/usage.

In June 2014 I found that I was burnt out from free weights. At that time I was bored of it, and I felt like I was developing tendonitis from the constantly increasing weights (you have to always go one step further when you are trying to build mass – that can mean adding weight/resistance, slowing down, adding reps/sets, perfecting some nuance of technique, resting for shorter amounts of time between sets, etc… but whichever of those nuances adjust, you have to go further than you did in the previous workout). I bought Convict Conditioning, a regimen for calisthenics (body weight exercises), after being dazzled by the guys at BarStarzz, and I have been doing it religiously for six months now. I definitely feel reconnected to my body, and I have enjoyed doing what I refer to as “living movement” as opposed to the “dead movement” of lifting heavy objects and putting them back down; however, I have been doing this on my own, and perhaps without guidance I have done something wrong. Whatever the case, I have not gotten the results I wanted. I removed High Intensity Interval Training from my regimen, and eliminated nearly all of the free weights (barbells and dumbbells) in order to give nearly all my exercise energy over to Convict Conditioning. Perhaps I wasn’t doing something properly, but although I have definitely progressed through many of the levels of Convict Conditioning and gotten stronger and more stable/flexible, I have lost mass and definition. Yet I do enjoy the calisthenics, and I do feel they are tremendously beneficial for integrated, functional movement training; range of motion; and connection to the body itself.

I do not want to abandon the calisthenics, because it is far too valuable. I did, however, find a format that I am going to revise that allows me to have it all! With this structure, I will be able to keep the calisthenics of the Convict Conditioning system of progressions that I have enjoyed so much; I will be able to add free weights back into the mix; and I will also have space in my week for HIIT again. It is important to remember that you should NOT do strength training and HIIT on the same day (your body cannot recover adequately from the combined effort, and you risk injuries or catabolism [the process of breaking muscle down for energy]). While doing Convict Conditioning exclusively, I wanted to do a 5- or 6-day body split, so I couldn’t do HIIT at all. Now, I think I have found a way to include all this yummy variety!

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 12.18.39 AMI have devised a rotating monthly cycle that inverts focus back and forth between mass/strength gains and cardio-vascular/endurance gain. It is important to create change in your regimen, so as to avoid burnout, repetitive use injuries, and stagnation. Both schedules include two days of rest per week. I have selected Thursday and Sunday, because those are the days I tend to travel to and from the places I visit when I am seeing clients. Schedule A focuses on strength, so three of the five days are given to that and only two to HIIT. Schedule B is the inverse: It has three days per week for cardio, and the other two are for strength. During Schedule A you should allow 45 minutes to do the strength workouts, and 30-40 minutes during Schedule B.  During Schedule A you will need about 45 minutes for HIIT, but during Schedule B you may need as much as an hour.
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The format I took from Body Building calls for two warm-up sets for each body part that is going to be trained. I have decided to give those two warm-up sets over to calisthenics, instead of using very light weights. In the charts provided, you will see “Step X” repeatedly. The Convict Conditioning system provides 10 steps for progressing through Push Ups (chest), Pull Ups (upper back), Squats (legs), Bridges (lower back), Handstand Push Ups (shoulders), and Leg Raises (core). These make up “The Big Six.” Each step uses the body to make the progressions more and more difficult. Warming up with and progressing through these calisthenics steps will allow me to remain connected to a form of exercise I enjoy and value very much, while also preparing my body to move weights more safely and efficiently. I cannot suggest strongly enough that you include calisthenics in some form in your regimen (dance, yoga, martial arts, Convict Conditioning, etc.).

The free weight exercises in this regimen are performed as “drop sets.” Drop sets are what you get when you combine pyramid structures (gradually adding more reps/weight with each set) and reverse pyramid structures (gradually subtracting reps/weight with each set). So then, as the weight gets lighter, the number of reps goes up. You will do four drop sets for each exercise. In this way, for example, if you choose to do dumbbell chest presses you will do four sets with about 30-60 seconds of rest between each set (you will use that time to adjust the weight and get situated to start again): Set 1, 70% of max weight, 6-8 reps; Set 2, 60% max weight, 9-10 reps; Set 3, 50% max weight, 11-12 reps; and Set 4, 40% max weight, 13-15 reps. Don’t let this fool you… By the time you get to Set 4 for the exercise you should be STRUGGLING (but maintaing proper form/technique) to get to the end. Some regimens call for reverse/negative reps (focusing on spending more time on the part of the rep that lengthens the muscles in question, or returns toward the “beginning” of the range of motion), and others call for slower tempos (e.g. 2 seconds up, 2 seconds hold at peak of exertion, 2 seconds down = 6 seconds/rep = 2/2/2 tempo). You can definitely add in that type of stylized training to increase the challenge or to include variety in your progression. I suggest starting with a 2/0/2 tempo (4 seconds/rep), performing the concentric/shortening/flexion for two seconds, and the essentric/lengthening/extension for two seconds as well. Keep the motion smooth, controlled, and constant. Rest about 30-60 seconds between each set in the drop set. You can rest up to two minutes while changing to the next exercise, which is itself going to be performed as a drop set.

Selecting exercises can be confusing, but it is also fun. This is where you get to tailor your efforts to meet your goals. If you decide to follow along with Convict Conditioning, then your calisthenics progressions will automatically include complex/compound movements (exercises that involve multiple muscle groups simultaneously… e.g. pushups work the entire body at once, but especially the chest, triceps, and core), which is vital in terms of maintaining functionality and integrated movement. Try to be sure you include these compound movements, whatever regimen you decide to follow. In these charts I have selected, as much as possible, free weight exercises that are also compound movements. You will see “or variant” frequently, because there are so many different exercises to choose from, and you should remember to keep adding variety. For instance, “Shoulders (Press, or variant)” means that you should select an exercise that moves in the range of motion as a shoulder press; however, you might choose one that is more or less advanced to suit your needs. But if you are going to follow my regimen, do be mindful that I have chosen range of motion carefully. If you are already doing push ups for your warm-up for chest, note that chest flies (or variant) are included so that not all the chest exercises press in the same direction (which is what happens when you compare push-ups to dumbbell presses – that is the same direction and range of motion). Do keep the “(or variant)” in mind, so that you do not overemphasis one range/direction of movement and neglect others.

The charts call for you to know your “Maximum Weight,” so that you can calculate percentages of that. I suggest that as you are going to flip-flop from HIIT back to Strength that you check in with yourself once every couple months to reassess your ability. Your max weight is the weight at which you can perform only ONE repetition WITH PROPER FORM. Do NOT hem and haw with a heavier weight and do a grotesque rep with no control and call that your max weight. That is bullshit, and you will get hurt. Your max weight is nothing to be ashamed of, and if you are keeping a journal, it will be a milepost that lets you gague your progress. I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOUR KEEP A PROGRESS JOURNAL. Let’s say that the first time you start the Strength Schedule that your max for dumbbell chest press is a single rep with a pair of #30 weights. You will then know that for dumbbell chest press drop sets, that (for you) Set 1, #22.5/#20, 6-8 reps; Set 2 #17.5/#15, 9-10 reps; Set 3, #15, 11-12 reps; and Set 4, #12.5/#10, 13-15 reps. Not all places offer dumbbells in 2.5-pound increments, so you will have to figure out when to smudge up or down in your drop sets; however, it is better to smudge down and keep perfect form, rather than smudge up and train like a stupid ass. Getting hurt will cause you to have to take time off to heal, and during that “lamecation” you will lose your gains.

Journals are so important that I must insist again that you keep one. Devise a format that works for you, and keep it. Notate when you work out, how you feel going in, during, and after. Be specific about what you do, how many sets, how many reps, and with what resistances. Did you eat enough or too much beforehand? Was your sleep good or shit? Was work pleasant or crap? Did anything inspire you or piss you off before you started? Make a note on whether or not you feel you kept good form, tempo, and breathing during that particular session. If not, what was bothering you? The more specific you can be, the more you will be able to look back across time to learn which habits/situations propel or hinder you, and you will be able to see very specifically how you are progressing. On days when you aren’t inspired to exercise, looking at your journal can often tip you over into doing it. It is a fact that has been reported and repeated (but ultimately ignored too often) that PEOPLE WHO JOURNAL THEIR EXERCISE SESSIONS ARE FAR MORE LIKELY TO SET, MEET, SURPASS, AND MAINTAIN GOALS. Journaling is so critical to success that it really ought to be considered as important as sleeping adequately.

I hope all this helps you to either get started on, reconnect with, or create your own fitness regimen. If you have specific questions that I have not addressed, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below.  You can download a pdf of the A/B Cycle charts here: TrainingScheduleAB.

 

December 9, 2014   2 Comments