Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Dry January Thoughts

I come from a family of alcoholics.  My father has been dry for about 20 years.  My one brother nearly died in the last year or so from complications with alcoholism, but has since received treatment and appears has turned the corner for good.  My other brother found himself in the hospital about a month ago, dealing with acute health issues from obesity, with contributions from excessive alcohol consumption.  He’s since getting treatment and is attending AA several times a week, and seems to have the right mentality to succeed.  Though they’ve all had close calls during this time, and in many ways alcohol changed their lives (getting obese, was a contributing factor to divorce and job loss), they are lucky that they’ve (hopefully) address the situation all as relatively young men and can improve their lives going forward.

I myself have a very hard edged, stubborn personality with addictive tendencies.  I try to channel my addictive tendencies to positive avenues, and over the years has resulted in jumping full tilt into endurance athletics; a short (1.5 years) intense bout with brazilian jiu jitsu; weightlifting and crossfit; and even self-improvement and excessive (or is it obsessive) learning about topics that interest me.  For me, idle hands are the devil’s plaything.  See, I too have found myself spiraling at times in my life toward alcohol dependency.  While they may be offset to some degree by my other interests and goals, that addictive voice sometimes whispers in my ear.

For the last three years, I’ve taken January, and sometimes other months, off from drinking any alcoholic beverages.  That means I don’t drink at Christmas parties for work (that usually get set in January), no work functions or family gatherings where these things are so common. As a result I have an opportunity to reset my body, my mind and my goals and to prioritize how I want to live my life on an annual (or semi-annual) basis.  Maybe as a testament to my stubbornness or willpower, but stopping bad habits, like jumping into good ones, comes with little hesitation or difficulty for me (I’m a total Type A personality).  It is usually very easy to simply stop (same with cigarettes back in the day) and focus on other things.  That is the key though, finding other passions and breaking or replacing the habits associated with bad things.  Realizing this is not the case for people who succumb to addiction (and I’ve seen it first hand), my heart goes out to those who struggle with overcoming these demons.

What I find after cleansing for any length of time is that I have much more energy and motivation to crush at life. Losing the empty calories too have allowed me to lean out from the holiday abdominal chub I put on, even while doing minimal amount of cardio exercise.  It’s been fairly well documented that alcohol in excessive quantities also dulls testosterone production and impacts the secretion of growth hormones that are released while sleeping.  Part of the reason is its impact on sleep.  I’m still not a great sleeper (I am a notorious midnight snacker), and I’m not sure I’m sleeping any better than I was after imbibing, but regardless, I have much more energy as a teetotaler.

So for me, I plan to drink occasionally in social situations or enjoying a bottle of wine on a weekend night with my wife, but I am cognisant of the minor role it should have on life, and the problems that arise when it becomes a focal point.  When we went out to my wife’s work holiday party, I drank club soda and lime and actually had the most fun out of any work party I had been to (primarily due to the company involved) while everyone else got bombed.

Alcoholism and dependency is no joke, and if you can’t easily go a month (or more… I am half thinking of continuing on with this experiment due to how good I feel and to more quickly reach my “look good naked and at the pool” goals) without drinking, you should consider what role it plays in your life and if changes should be made.  If that sounds familiar, realize you aren’t alone and shouldn’t be ashamed to find help.  The following are some good resources for you or a loved one, or if you simply want to learn more:

Launched New Side Workout Log/Blog

I launched a new spartan side-blog that is basically my workout logs if anyone cares to see what I do, or wants to follow on their own.

http://averagemarrieddadworkouts.wordpress.com/ 

My basic philosophy is hitting key weight lifts of squats, deadlifts, press, bench press; adding in supplementary lifts in conditioning pieces or on their own.  Conditioning is only a few times a week and are generally short, intense efforts usually 10 minutes or less; along with moving slowly like walking or hiking when I can.  The volume isn’t especially high, most sessions in our home gym take maybe 30 minutes, longer ones usually take an hour.  I’m looking to get in and out, and keep volume low enough to recover well.  Unlike the constant cardio and Crossfit folks who are often doing themselves a disservice by the high volume and excessive cortisol they have to manage, I keep things in line with my goals.

Goals are stay healthy and uninjured (problem previously), recover well, be semi-fit to jump into most activities (bike rides, hikes, soccer games with the kids, so forth) and look good naked.  A sustainable workout program.  Along with good diet (which included cutting out drinking this month), I’m continuing to see strength progress while losing some of the holiday chub along the midsection.  Anyways, check it out if you are so inclined, otherwise, we’ll be back to some regular programming later this week.

http://averagemarrieddadworkouts.wordpress.com/

Death by Food Pyramid

I first came across Denise Minger by accident.  I was nearing the end of a year long experiment I was talked into by my wife: to be a vegetarian.  This was only about 3.5 years ago give or take, so pretty recent in my memory.  The reason we decided to try this is our general interest in healthy eating and healthy life.  We had purchased The Paleo Diet (1st Ed.) by Loren Cordain back in about 2003 (well before the current paleo movement) as part of eating better in general, but to recover better for Triathlon, at which point I was ramping up for Ironman training.  At that point in my life, I thought the author had a lot of interesting points, but I was training TONS of time (up to 20 hours a week of biking, swimming and running) so I needed tons of easy carbs (and low fat protein) to fuel my adventures, or so the thought went.  So based on the book, we might have modified our “processed” food like twinkies or shit like that, but kept eating pasta and lots of whole grains since they were “healthy.”

After that point in our lives, when we had given up long distance high-level competitions and had moved on to half marathons and basic chronic cardio, I had the small spare tire and was super skinny with no muscle tone. So my wife somehow stumbled upon The China Study which promoted a vegetarian, whole food lifestyle.  Always game for something new, our whole family signed up.  I was also very blue-pill at the time, but laying the foundation to go red-pill in many areas of my life.  The diet was typical American vegetarian, complete with black bean burgers, tofu, soy, fake nuggets, some veggies, and even milk; we stuck with vegetarianism for a full year.  Despite the fact I was totally ready to get out after about 6 months, I made a personal commitment to stick with a year just for the experience.  A year to the day after I started, I killed that shit with a salmon burger.  Most delicious thing I may have ever ate. My body was craving meat.

Which brings me back to Denise Minger, who wrote a lot debunking The China Study (plus she’s really cute):

denise_september

I thought (even when) reading the China Study that things weren’t right, and that the China Study author was making wild leaps equating small studies of cassein protein in milk (just one of the milk proteins) with health effects to all meats and animals, and Denise confirmed in a scientific way all my thoughts.

Anyways, Minger has written a new book called Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health.  She’s spent the last year and a half writing this beast.

In her own words from her blog entry:

  1. Death by Food Pyramid is not pro-paleo, per se. Nor is it anti-vegan. Nor is it a platform for promoting any particular eating plan (or excessively bashing another). I’m grateful to Mark Sisson and the Primal Blueprint Publishing team for letting me craft a book that respects the success of paleo and Primal diets, but doesn’t assert them as optimal for all people, and even critiques them in some regards.
  2. do, however, explore the reasons why some people are genetically equipped to handle higher-starch diets; why the effects of saturated fat aren’t uniform among all humans; why we should focus on individually tailoring our diets; and where various successful eating programs seem to intersect.
  3. Although this book certainly takes a swipe at conventional wisdom, I hope it also opens a discussion about some of the dogma existing within the “alternative” health communities as well.

Mark’s Daily Apple did an excerpt from one of her chapters (and the book itself was published by Mark’s Primal Blueprint offshoot).

So while the book isn’t yet out (supposed release date January 1, 2014), I encourage those “into” diet and health to procure this, and I know we’ll be buying the kindle version when it’s out.  We’re not any type of strict diet follower in our house except as “whole food advocates”, meaning we eat a lot of meat, some veggies, a few fruits, some dairy and limited processed foods (and next to no wheat, flour, HFCS or the like).  We’ve done strict paleo, primal, low carb paleo and totally clean at times (we even have the kids follow this to a very large degree), but mostly we’re in the 80% good/20% not so good camp most weeks, as best we can.  Maybe I’ll do a Sarah Fragoso A Week In The Life inspired post to show how we really eat (another quick aside: today’s lunch for LoudBoy and Birdsnest was water/milk to drink depending on the kid, pickle wrapped in salami with a toothpick, a jello pudding cup, a banana, nut/fruit granola bar and a cheese stick – too many carbs, not enough veggies or meat, but semi-balanced and quick to make in the morning).

Denise’s blog is top notch.

If you’d really like an intro into Paleo (that based on Denise’s own words above, will pick apart to some degree, but there is WAAAYYY more good than bad in this approach, especially compared to how most eat), and at least understand the concepts and benefits, there’s probably not a better lay-mans book than Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution, though Sisson’s own The Primal Blueprint is pretty good too (we own both and both are a little different – Sisson’s focuses more on whole life, while Wolf is more diet).

Anyways, eat well, exercise well, continue to educate yourself on what may work best for you and yours. Peace.

Dealing with a darker cloud – Vitamin D and SAD issues

We’ve had a little bit of turbulent waters here the last week and a half-plus. I know, poor me right? Things are pretty dang good, but like a short term stock we still have our ups and downs.  Besides the “fun” that was Thanksgiving, we have a friend divorcing (Swarley), another friend dating that friend (which complicates matters and is confusing for all) and life.  Last week I traveled three days, and Holly traveled three days (Wednesday was a common day where she took care of kids in the morning, me in the evening when I got back home), so we didn’t see each other much.  I’m a “touch” language, with some “quality time” and “words of affirmation” thrown in, Holly is a “words” type with some “QT” thrown in, so was rough.  Add in the fact that is the heavy, dark cloud of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), shark week and it hasn’t been that much fun on the married side recently.  She fell asleep early or the dark depression cloud spiked on the weekend days we were together, and we both want her to start feeling better.

My wife had some blood work done very recently that came back yesterday, and the results were generally good.  My favorite was that her cholesterol/lipids were “all normal and look fabulous!” I’ve noted our propensity to eat large volume of meat in the past (and eggs and bacon and heavy cream and coconut oil…) and paleoish (mostly).  What we don’t eat is bread, or flour, or wheat.  Hardly ever anyway.  And really no soda or other sweet shit junkfood that clutters 90% of the grocery store isles. I’ve had similar blood work and cholesterol and it’s somewhat vindicating to see we can remain healthy and strong and reasonably thin eating against the recommendations of USDA and vegetarians subscribing to the China Study (I say reasonably since we have slacked some on carbs and exercise and both would like to lean out a little, though in all honesty, we both look pretty dang good still… but good versus great is the difference we are striving to overcome).

The bad news in her blood work was that her Vitamin D levels were low (they measure three levels: D, D2 and D3), along with white blood cells (she’s been fighting shit for the last month, really not fun).  I don’t know that much about Vitamin D, but know it’s manufactured in the body from sunshine and is also influence by diet.  [Random aside: true story here, in about 4th or 5th gradegrade, I remember having to write a little one page deal in grade school about Vitamin D.  We must have been learning about nutrition.  I got my paper back and had a big red circle on one of my words with a huge question mark.  Instead of the "Sunshine" Vitamin, I had inadvertently wrote the "Sunshit" vitamin.  Freudian slip].  Symptoms of Vit D deficiency include poor sleeping, depression, helping with erectile dysfunction and increased illness prevention.  Now like testosterone, D is a vitamin that is person specific.  So what may be “low normal” for someone may be really low for someone else.  She was below the normal range, and below all the levels in this chart:

Normal Vitamin D Level Recommendations


Minimum Optimal (ng/ml) High End of Optimum (ng/ml) Toxic Level (ng/ml)
Bruce Hollis(ng/ml) 32 >250
Vitamin D Council (ng/ml) 50 80
Vitamin D, A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain(ng/ml) 30 50 >150
Dr. Mercola
(ng/ml)
50 65 >100 (excess)
The Use of Vitamin D in Clinical Practice
(ng/ml)
40 70 > 150

She is supposed to take Vitamin D supplements and/or Cod Liver Oil, and is also using her blue light to try and raise her levels.  Holly seemed hopeful and bright last night for the first time in a few weeks or more, that at least maybe she knew what was wrong with her as she struggles with this.  I’m not a very naturally sympathetic or empathetic guy, but am doing my best to show her love and support and not be all about pushing my own agenda (getting laid).  It’s been 7+3 days since we’ve had sex (but who’s counting… actually, we’ve had a very consistent and good year for us.  I haven’t checked but this is around the longest we’ve gone without it all year – maybe since I almost died from MRSA and ended up with emergency surgery).

vitamin D

So we’ll be ok, and are heading out of town for a night without kids this weekend, so I’m sure the dry spell won’t last even if things don’t turn around this week, which I expect they will.  After all, I’m so bloody charming, I’m surprised any woman can resist my charms ;)

I guess my point is, if you, or a spouse are not feeling themselves, maybe a little off, tired, lethargic, depressed, despite “good” diet, exercise, etc., it really is worth getting a blood panel done.  It doesn’t always have to be hormonal issues that fuck us up, could just be a vitamin deficiency that could be addressed with easy supplementation.

Burp! What now until Christmas…?

A non-Black Friday Post! Thank goodness!black-friday-shopper-logic-meme

Thanksgiving day is finally over! For some of us.  thanksgiving-a-magical-traditionThose fortunate/unfortunate enough to have family close by usually mean that there are multiple T-days…we have three.  We’re to the point of boycotting next year for a smaller day at our house.  It really is a blessing having family close by, as the kids know all their grandparents pretty well and we do have the built in babysitting unit. But the flip side is I come back from a super fucking stressful day(s) of work, to find my MIL in my kitchen chattering on about some tchotchke she just picked up at the thrift store, or how she hates her coworkers, and I am like a monk… because if I said anything it would be “Get out of my house! I need to decompress!” Thankfully, she usually doesn’t stay long, and I can get my bearings, usually after I hear her muttering to my wife about how grumpy I am. Whatever…anyway, I digress.

Don’t make the holidays a free-for-all to indulge in all things alcohol, junk food and chocolate.  That’s an order.  And keep working out!

I am sore right now.  Holly and I worked out together this morning in our home gym.  While we are both doing our own thing (me a scaled down version of Outlaw, she’s in the first month of so of Sarah Fragosa‘s workout program (sorry don’t have a link right now), which for her is what I see as a more manageable real life version of a Frankenstein crossbreed of crossfit and Starting Strength and the fitness components of Mark’s Daily Apple).  We both want to look good for each other, and after some workout mornings even have sex in the bathroom or shower or occasionally the bed (before or after the bus comes depending on our timing)… but again, I digress.

Don’t fall in the trap of looking at the black mornings on the early commute, black evenings on the back-end commute and needing to drink or eat your way through December until New Years.  Eating one or three Thanksgiving meals won’t blow up your body and make you fat, but eating 10 or 30 extra servings because “it’s the holidays”, is a recipe for disaster.  Stay strong, continue not eating bread (and carbs if need be), lift and do what you need to and come out in January ready to get in beach-body shape.  Seriously, this is the time of year you need to be strong.

Recognize that winter is a really, really hard time of year.  My wife really struggles with this, and ends up on wellbutrin to deal with what is generally described as seasonal depression or as they typically say “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD).  Wellbutrin is a relatively mild antidepressant and has, in some studies, been shown to increase libido.  While meeting with the PA, they wanted to check her blood work, and depending on her results (and dealing with her anxiety from working WAY too much at her new job, which has been a major source of stress for her and us over the last few months) the PA was considering prescribing Prozac – A SSRI. I was obviously concerned about that and its side effects (extensive –  check out the SSRI link above, but includes insomnia, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and a very, very common one is decreased libido).  Holly knew that beforehand, and basically said “HELL No!” – unless there was no other choice.  Instead, she’s taking a multi-vitamin, Fish Oil, using the Light Box (that link is the one we own, $68 and 4.5 stars on over 800 reviews at Amazon) I got her for Christmas a few years back (in the mornings before work), the wellbutrin and working out.  We are hoping that things settle down at work, and with good diet, some good health and good sex, [parenthesis below..

One surprising recent study actually suggests that exposure to semen may help fight depression. Beyond sperm, the research found that semen may provide mood-boosting hormones and chemical compounds for women.

things for Holly will improve until warmer weather arrives.

One final story  of poor eating and its health impacts from our Family Sample Size N=1.  We're seeing a very strong correlation between eating flour/bread and LoudBoy going absolutely ballistic.  Multiple times now, after eating some sore of flour product, he's been super aggressive, grumpy and totally unreasonable.  Tonight, for example, after eating multiple T-day buns (we haven't brought bread in our house for years, and only very occasionally have any sort of flour product, mostly from grandparents), he melted down at about 4:30 pm and was completely unreasonable at the grandparents' home.  For over an hour he was throwing a tantrum about "going home" and needing to watch Netflix.  We felt bad for his predicament, but all the grownups (and sister Birdsnest) were laughing at him (because he was acting so unreasonable and crazy, we could not help laughing), which only spiraled his predicament. Oh, and he's SIX YEARS OLD!! Not two or three or four. He's in first grade and while he's more difficult at his sister, this behavior is very far from normal.  We don't think it's any coincidence that our switching to mostly paleo eating has been a contributor to our general well being, and that flour is a detriment to that, likely due to some sort of gluten intolerance. Apparently we aren't alone:

...my husband and I have noticed that eating grains really changes our daughter's behavior.  Eating grains makes her:

  • Less even-tempered - She is more likely to meltdown.
  • More disobedient - She is more likely to blatantly disobey, and to argue about doing what she is told (even simple things like changing into her pajamas).
  • More grouchy and rude - She is much more likely to be downright rude and to be in a bad mood.
  • Have less focus and concentration - She has a very hard time focusing on the task at hand.  She gets easily distracted and forgets what she is supposed to do.

This makes me really wonder how much of children's poor behavior is linked to eating grains.  Granted, properly-prepared grains can be a healthy part of the diet for healthy people with uncompromised guts, but it seems like the vast majority of kids in our country could have a compromised gut due to widespread antibiotic use. I am really shocked that after 17 months on GAPS [AMD Note: GAPS stands for Gut and Pschology Syndrome, and the diet is very similar to the one we use: namely cut out flour and processed food, eat whole foods like veggies and meat and eggs; including fermented dairy.  But we don't prescribe to their supplement ideal of GAPS nor know anything about it really.  This was actually the first I heard of this diet.  I prefer the The Paleo Diet which I know much more about] our daughter’s behavior could change so dramatically from consuming non-gluten grains (and she did not have any learning deficiencies or psychological problems going into GAPS)

Anyways, I am not lecturing or anything here.  Hopefully, you can find some motivation to stay strong and eat well over the long winter, and come out the other side in better shape both mentally and physically.  Don’t be afraid to go to a doctor if you feel you may have SAD and need something to get over the long winter, just be aware that if prescribed drugs you may have side affects so research a little before agreeing to something.  I usually indulge too much between Thanksgiving and New Years, and for the last several years take January as a “dry month” to make up for that time.  I’m hoping that this year is different in my own eating and drinking habits (though I’ll still take a dry month anyways as its a good start to the year), and I can find the motivation to get up and work out in the cold dark garage with my wife instead of hunkering down.  Cheers!

 

Big Pharma, Big Surprise [sarcasm]

Recently read a book on big pharma.  Google it, there are a bunch out there that probably all say the same things, not really much of a surprise, but interesting nonetheless.  Hawaiian Libertarian had a piece on Pills and a similar topic  just over a month ago.

First, I understand and fully appreciate that among the myriad of diseases, ailments, illnesses, viruses and disorders that drugs play a positive role in people’s lives and perhaps allow them to even be alive.  If it wasn’t for some super special antibiotics I was given earlier this year when I contracted an antibiotic resistant staff infection, and found myself in the hospital, I’d be dead.  By the time I went it in to the ER, it was streaking toward my lymph nodes and the infection was spreading fast.  Thank god for those drugs!  With that said, I think the development, manufacturing and distribution of medicine that has been developed already (and is off patent) is in a different category than Big Pharma itself.  Think generic manufacturers of drugs vs. Merck, Pfizer, etc.

Big Pharma is in the business to make money.  Period.  To do so, they are more in the business of identifying, making up, and promoting diseases than they are in researching and developing drugs.  If they have a disease they can bring to your attention, even if it’s not really a disease, they can sell you drugs to make it better.  Some interesting things in the book about the industry

  • They spend way more on marketing and advertising than on research and development. And some of the R&D they do is just marketing in sheep’s clothing.  
  • Most drugs that are developed are done so using public tax payers funds funneled through Universities and medical research centers.  National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a big player here.
  • The Universities and research centers aren’t in the business of large trials, manufacturing or distribution and subsequently are allowed to sell the formula to the big drug companies for a small slice of the profit.  Drug companies don’t really have to spend much on R&D when they are buying intellectual property paid for by tax payers.
  • Brand name drugs are under patent protection for 20 years, which means that they have exclusive right to sell that drug at whatever price they feel is right during that time.  While clinical trials and FDA review chew into that time (6-10 years typically), they are often made up on the back end by extending the patent through legal tricks and loopholes
  • The FDA, NIH, Doctors, clinics doing trials, authors of drug academic research papers, and congress all have their hand in the pot and it a convoluted mess as to what is really accurate information about any drug.  Government scientists are allowed to be “consultants” for big Pharma.  Doctors and medical leaders get kick-back or consulting gigs for their “contributions” in promoting drugs in any number of means.  Lots and lots of conflicts of interest here
  • The requirement for a drug to be brought to market is that it is “safe” and “effective” – only having to compare against placebo (sugar pill or the like), and not having to show it is better than previous versions of the drug.  What the drug companies do then is replace one of the inactive ingredients with another inactive ingredient, or do minor variation of the active ingredient, then “PRESTO!” they have a new patent for a “better” version of the same drug they can now sell your for 5 times as much (literally, when generic drugs are allowed to compete they can drop to 20% or less of the name brand for the same drug).
  • Big Pharma likes to butt-rape Americans for brand name exclusive drugs.  There is no price protection in place like in other countries, so they can charge what they want.  That’s why people go to Mexico or Canada for prescriptions if they can skirt the system.
  • Doctors have no incentive to prescribe generic “old” drugs, or life advice that will benefit the consumer.  And consumers are brainwashed into thinking if they don’t walk away with pills they have a bad Doctor.  Wake up people, pills are not the answer! Healthy eating and exercise will fix many of the woes that people are medicating on
  • The FDA pushes drugs through probably too fast due to improperly designed clinical trials that have Big Pharma’s mitts all over them, and pull harmful drugs off the markets too slow.  They’ve approved drugs that were shown to be harmful overseas only to pull them a couple years after they’ve been pulled in other countries
  • There are very few truly innovative drugs hitting the market in any one year – between 5-20 maybe.  The pipeline is drying up and since they don’t really do R&D in the traditional sense (remember, they rely on public research and think tanks to do this), expect this to continue.

warning_fda_approved

Quite the list, none should really surprise anyone.  Promote a disease (are you sad during the trying times of college?  Do you ever feel sad?  You must have depression!), find a pill to fix it and sell the shit out of that pill.  Good capitalist strategy.  As you can probably tell by my ‘tude, but I’m not on any pills except fish oil and a multivitamin.  If you improve your diet, drop your weight and exercise, many of the common “diseases” such as depression, heart burn, inflamation, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and so forth can be addressed. The Mark’s Daily Apple Success Story Page has tons of stories of people with various ailments who switched to Primal/Paleo style of eating (cutting flour, wheat, HFCS, soy, sometimes dairy and craptastic partially hydrogenated shit oils) and miraculously improved.  Check it out, some good stories there.

If nothing else, be very wary of “new” drugs that hit the shelves.  Ask your doctor if there is an older drug alternative (generic) that may be effective.  You may get the “yeah, XYZ may work , but…. [excuse]“.  Push to try that first since Doctor’s often have drug reps pushing stuff on them and may have conflicts of interest themselves.  I personally don’t trust doctors and will not take a pill if I don’t have to.  Be wary, educate yourself, and if interested, check out any number of the books out there on drug companies and Big Pharma.  It’s a twisted, high money, high power, big web in this industry.

When a calorie isn’t a calorie, paleoish/whole food talk

Progue Stepchild had a great post yesterday I thought deserved some attention.  I’m a whole food/paleoish subscriber and while we’re far from perfect in our house, we tend to be close to the MarksDailyApple 80/20 rule of thumb most days (though some days we’re 100/0 and others maybe 50/50, rarely worse than that).  Anyway, our family is pretty strong, lean and fit and especially compared to the masses at the water parks these days (WOW!) we’re in the top 5% of those that are over 25 years old.

Anyway, here’s an exerpt of Progue’s post from Tuesday:

 If you switch from a highly processed diet to a mostly whole foods diet, you’ll probably lose weight.  Because a calorie is still a calorie, and your body likely absorbs a bit fewer when tasked with extracting them from complex biological matrices.

Because all calories are equal in her paradigm, this is in fact the basic axiom of her paradigm, like Euclid saying that parallel lines do not intersect. Anyone who dares question that axiom (such as J Stanton or myself) simply doesn’t understand basic science. If you switch from 3000 calories a day of Cheetos to 3000 calories a day of steak, you’ll “probably” lose weight, but only because you absorb a “bit fewer” calories from that complex steaky biological matrix.

Then some of his readers crank up the food geekness to 11.  I don’t know if what he’s referencing is true, but I do know that 3000 calories of steak is a hell of a lot of steak.  An 8 oz steak, depending on the cut, is roughly 400 calories.  So 3,000 calories is about a 60 oz steak (reminds me of the Great Outdoors ‘Ole 96er John Candy had to eat).  Now cheetos have 141 calories per ounce, so you would need to eat only 21 ounces to reach that same caloric level.  Still a hell of a lot of cheetos, but the what is going to take longer to digest, and when are you going to want to eat again after each of those examples?

Besides the simple goal of “losing weight” on a paleoish diet, what about the types of things you put into your body?  I count 22 ingredients in cheetos vs. one for steak.  A good rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it, it shouldn’t be eaten.  When choosing between same food types, even junk food, this is still a good general rule to follow.  We do occasionally eat Costco’s premium vanilla icecream.  Ingredients: fresh cream, skim milk, sugar, pasteurized egg yolks, natural vanilla, carob bean gum and guar gum.  Contrast that to Ben and Jerry’s that can contain up to 40 ingredients, including some GMO ones.

So I’m not here to start a paleofan war with other dieters.  My point is regardless of if you eat grains and flour and sugar, we can all agree that whole foods are better than processed foods and eating incrementally more of those over time than we currently do will likely make us healthier.  Hawaiian Libertarian has many articles over the years on paleo and GMO foods, here’s a brief one on GMO if you’re interested.

It’s up to each of us to educate ourselves and separate the wheat from the chafe with regards to diet… but I have a hard time putting a lot of stock in the USDA and Big Ag putting our health ahead of their profits when I’ve nearly lost my lunch at the pool seeing what big ag (low fat, processed foods, grains galore, soy substitutes) is doing to us as a society. Instead I’ll eat my ass-load of meat, eggs, veggies and feel satiated. lean and strong.

Skinny Husbands, Fat Wives

Sometimes you have a post you have no idea where it’s going when you start.  This is one of those posts. I’m guessing it’s a long road to nowhere..nowhere but fat bashing that is. [Edit: Now that it's done, if you suffer through the beginning, there is some redeeming qualities at the end - AMD]

Usually couples match up pretty close in body rank.  You usually see men or women matched up to their rank number within one or so, or at least at first.  So good looking man with good looking wife.  Fat man with fat wife.  Skinny athletic man with skinny athletic wife.  It makes for stable relationships when you’re generally close in body rank.  That’s why Athol’s plan for improvement of body rank is so basic… if you improve it forces the wife to improve…usually, so you (usually) both end up hotter and hotness and attraction leads to more sex. True story.

I’ve got a number of male friends who’ve put on a bunch of weight while their wives stayed generally the same, which is to say, pretty lean.  This “fat husband, skinny wife” routine is seen in a lot of television hows and seems to be the more socially accepted practice.  Here’s a list of shows I could think of off the top of my head:

  • King of Queens – Fat Doug and his loud mouthed hot wife
  • Sopranos – Tony and Carmella Soprano
  • Family Guy – Peter and Louis Griffen
  • Game of Thrones- King Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister
  • Fresh Prince of Bell Air – The dad and Vivian Banks (Fresh Prince’s uncle/aunt)

So with the exception of maybe Family Guy and King of Queen, both sitcoms, the fat guy/skinny wife works when the husband is a strong dude or has Alpha qualities.  One of my best friends is a big dude (6’6″) who got way fatter after college, and his wife is a skinny minny, but dude is an super confident AMOG and could punch well above his rank if he wanted to.  This is sort of beauty and the beast theme, and I think part of it is many women are ok having a big bear of a man since it makes them feel smaller and safe.  If you are a fat beta man, with a skinnier good looking woman, look out… ticking time bomb unless she is incredibly grounded and into you for other reasons.

“Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean”

fatty-thinny

On the other end of the spectrum is something you rarely, if ever, see in sitcoms or shows but see it every day and that is the skinny husband, fat wife situation.  The reason you don’t see it in sitcoms is that it’s not funny, it’s sad.  And seeing it in real life is really sad too.  Now I totally get that women gain weight when they have kids and for many its tough to take off.  It can be done though, and many, many women get back to within sight at least of their pre-baby weight.  I’m not talking about the “average” woman who may carry a few extra pounds, but those that just say “fuck it” and eat their way into a MuMu as a preferred fashion statement.  Recognize that I believe there’s a big difference in those actively trying to get back to their fighting weight and simply struggling a little versus those who choose to simply throw in the towel and turn out to be mentally miserable (when being honest with themselves) and subsequently are miserable to their husband.

For a husband this is difficult territory as he’s afraid of the inevitable blow-up if he gives it to her straight, so instead Mr. Beta-Boy’s response is “No, I love you for who you are honey…I still think you look great!”  What else can he do?  And she doesn’t respect him.  How can you respect someone when you can’t respect yourself.  He’s married to a pig, and therefore he’s a pig-lover.  How can she respect a motherfuckin’ pig lover? That’s just sick!  This miserable cycle just continues on, she busts his balls, doesn’t respect him, and he’s walking on eggshells and acts even more beta.  I  can almost guarantee you men in this situation aren’t getting “laid like tile” and are getting, at best, crappy drip fed sex.

Their wives don’t see this pig-lover as having a shot at anyone better than them, so why should they shape up their act, sex up their man properly, appreciate their man properly and lose weight?  You can’t really call it baby weight when your “baby” is 9 years old.  One of Holly’s old boss’s had a wife like this.  She was pretty heavy, always seemed really insecure to me and sort of a battle axe, but who knows what she was really like in private (I’m betting my paycheck on l0w-sex battle axe).  Her boss, this sow’s husband, was a lean mean triathlete type and they always looked odd together.

However, despite men having less attraction for their fat wives, most won’t leave.  Some stay for the kids, some because they hold out hope she’ll turn things around, but most just don’t really think very highly of their own options or have stopped caring enough t0 put in the effort.  Take for example this article on some UK rag website by Samantha Brick (who is hated by the fat acceptance movement and admittedly is a bitch I guess, but supports my thesis for today): My Husband Says He’ll Divorce Me if I Get Fat.

You see, in my household being slim isn’t something to aspire to — it’s an obligation. As Pascal likes to remind me: ‘I married you because you’re slim — I don’t want a fat wife.’

When I read in a recent survey that 42 per cent of men would be less attracted to their girlfriend if she gained half a stone, it didn’t surprise me. What did astonish me was only 5 per cent of men said they’d leave the ­relationship.

For in my marriage, the brutal truth is: if I get fat my husband will most definitely divorce me.

Or this one: Help my wife is FAT!

my-wife-is-fat

I barely got married 3 years ago and in short time span I’ve watched my wife balloon up by at least 30 pounds.

I haven’t said anything yet because I don’t want to hurt her feelings.  … I don’t want this fat wife, I want the hot wife I married.

Or this pulled from the GodLikeProduction forums:

I don’t have the balls to divorce my fat wife — afraid of what that would do to me financially — and don’t want to lose my kids.

But sometimes I dream of what it would be like to reenter the dating scene.

I am very fit, jog daily and work out regularly. Very young looking 35. I could easily get an attractive girl. Have had many opportunities, but I could never bring myself to cheat.

My wife, while 3 years my younger looks like she’s 50 — gained 100 lbs since we married. Very lazy and unmotivated to do anything. She is no longer the woman I fell in love with. Can’t bear the thought of sex with her.

Men like women who look like women, not Jabba the hutt.  Fat is fucking gross.

jabba-the-hut-girl

 

We can live with curves, hell some of us prefer curves and a nice round booty.  But when the body rank discrepancy is high and you’re kicking ass and your wife is fat and not doing anything about it, it can be a tough road to hoe.  I’ve followed multiple threads on my “man forum” about fat wives and how they just grin and bear it… but a few of those contributors admitted that for their life, they had enough and got out.

guyswholikefatchicks2

 

Change has to come from within.  You, as a husband, can’t make your wife thin by wishing it or verbally beating her up or encouraging her.  She has to want it.  You can alpha up and improve yourself but sometimes it’s either deal with having a fat wife for the kids or because you are religious or whatever… or pull the rip cord.  Ironically, after you leave or get divorced will be when she “gets in the best shape of her life”.  What a bitch!  Seriously that is just a total bitch move.

So my advice for everyone: Eat Better!  Abs are made in the kitchen.  You need to create new triggers and new habits [I'm reading two great books right now that I'll summarize in upcoming post(s): The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. and The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business] to reprogram yourself. It’s resetting the norm for you.  I always point people to MarksDailyApple, which as a great Success Story page with many people with fat or health problems that got better by eating better and exercising….some really amazing transformations.  Robb Wolf is another great resource.  If you are fat or obese, I highly recommend low carb, whole food (real meats and lots of veggies) diet – as Wolf says:

low carb is fantastic for the insulin resistant individual, as it addresses both glycemic load and satiety.

Translated, that means if you currently eat a lot of sugar and flour and are headed towards the ‘betes (diabetes that is), and are hungry a lot and have a lot of sugar rushes and crashes, this diet is good for you as it makes you feel full while keeping a steady source of energy from proteins and fats (not sugars).  Once things are set, you may be having such great success dropping pounds you stick with this.  By low carb I mean less than 50 g per day.  MarksDailyApple the book (AKA The Primal Blueprint) gets into this as well.

Anyway, good luck for those of you who stumbled here because your wife is fat and you’re unhappy.  All you can do is control your own behaviors and actions, you can’t control others.  It’s up to you to have the “come to Jesus” conversation with your wife (stop being so afraid and really give it to her about what you feel about her fat/eating habits and what it means to your marriage), and if it get’s to be something that impacts your quality of life enough, don’t be afraid to make drastic changes (separation or divorce) as you only live once.  And for those starting the journey to be thinner, make a commitment and make it happen.  Don’t get discouraged by the setbacks, be cognicent that your bad eating habits have a trigger and reset the trigger. The Power of Habit book (which has over 1,000 Amazon reviews, most 5 or 4 stars) really is a great place to start in resetting things.  Best of luck my friends, some of you need it.

Getting that Summer Body: Squats and Stuff

I finally feel like I’m back in the mix after the hand surgery a month ago.  Instead of following Outlaw for the last 6 weeks, which is a mix of olympic lifting, power lifting and short-intense-heavy crossfit sessions (usually), I’ve been on a more linear progression, mostly powerlifting approach with just a couple sessions of Oly lifting to knock the rust off.  Between being in the hospital, not lifting for a month and the back half of the Whole Life Challenge I dropped down to the lowest weight I’d been in nearly two years.  Along with that came a drop in strength… like, a lot.  I was surprised at how weak I came back and how out of shape.

Linear progression (Starting Strength style) is pretty dummy proof.  Start with a low enough weight, do three sets of 5 reps (Greyskull Linear Progression is nearly the same too, where you do as many reps as possible on that last set, either is fine) of a few key exercises.  I used this once per week for the following exercises: high-bar back squat, front squat, bench press, strict shoulder press.  Each time you do the same exercise you add 5 lbs (for squats) and 2.5-5 lbs for bench or press.  You may notice the lack of heavy deadlifts.  I deadlift occasionally with moderate weights, but my back has issues (spondylosis, and pelvis rotation) that are exacerbated with heavy deadlifts, or high volume deadlifts with poor form from fatigue.

I’m finally feeling some progress on the strength front and while I’m not back to where I was, I’m getting there.  In addition to the straight linear progression, I’m adding some lighter weight, higher rep stuff to supplement and to add a larger muscular appearance for the summer season.  This means some additional shoulder work (some push presses or thrusters), strict pullups, some squat-esque type work (squat cleans, thrusters, another squat day), and even some bicep work (curls for the girls, something I only work a few months out of the years).  Reps will range from 8-20 depending on what I’m working towards, and usually 3-5 sets.  In addition, I’m getting back into the Oly lifting again (snatch and clean and jerk), if only 3 days a week, and that has made a big improvement on explosiveness in the hips, and traps and shoulder development.  I expect to continue on this hybrid approach (linear progression plus higher reps) for the next couple weeks when I expect to stall out, then switch to either a straight Outlaw approach again, or something along the lines of a modified a Westside Barbell which Outlaw is actually based on.

For a man, I think a strong, good looking summer body has the following characteristics:  strong shoulders, nice chest, some traps, and not fat.  Abs are well and good, but a strong core from heavy squats and deadlifts are apparent, while skinny dudes can have visible abs but minimal core strength (think: Justing Bieber).

Finished Bulking

As long as you aren’t too fat, you can still look good if you chest is strong/large enough.. sort of like you overlook a little flab on a lady if she’s got big enough boobs, it’s a matter of perspective.  And while I’ve talked about squats a little above, the fact that most men aren’t wearing short shorts at the park, and the long board shorts are the norm, it’s not readily apparent you’re working on your legs.  However, there’s a lot of importance from doing squats and really, squats balance the rest of your appearance and support overall muscular growth.

From Outlaw Fitness (not to be confused with the Outlaw Way or Outlaw Crossfit by the way), comes the 15 benefits of squats, a few important ones [note: the below refers to heavy squats, not light or bodyweight ones which have a fitness/aerobic impact but don't trigger CNS recruitment and benefits noted below in the same way]:

1. Squats Create An Anabolic Environment. No other exercise on the planet (with the possible exception of the deadlift) does more to promote overall muscle growth. This means, not only will the squat build muscles directly related to the exercise itself – like your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves – it also indirectly promotes muscle growth across the rest of your body, in places like your biceps, chest, and back (for examples).

You get greater overall muscle and strength gains from the squat than from any other exercise….Squats create an overall anabolic environment in the body that maximizes gains from other exercises [in your workout]. says Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D., C.S.C.S., an exercise researcher at the University of Connecticut.

3. Increase Functional Strength. Very few exercises are as natural as the squat. Since the very beginning of time, man has been squatting down to pick berries, gather food, light fires, and even cook. It makes sense than that the squat builds pure, functional strength. Not only do they build huge amounts of muscle, the squat also forces your body’s nerve networks to work your muscles more efficiently.

6. Entire Body Workout (almost). There is arguably no other exercise that works more muscles than the squat. If you were only to do one exercise for the rest of your life, the squat would make an excellent choice.

7. Growth Hormones and Testosterone. These anabolic hormones are vital for muscle growth, and the squat stimulates your body to produce these more than any other exercise. Want bigger biceps? Add squats to your routine.

8. Sports and Performance. Not only will it make you jump higher and sprint faster, as I mentioned above, it will make you stronger and more explosive no matter what your particular sport is. It’s no wonder squats are part of the regular training regimen of every professional athlete.

9. Increase Upper Body Strength. Due to the large amounts of growth hormone and testosterone released by squatting, your upper body will grow larger and stronger than it would had you not regularly implemented squats into your workouts.

10. Tone and Tighten Your Butt. I implore you to find an exercise that’ll give you a nicer looking rear-end than the squat. Don’t believe me? Go give it a try yourself. [AMD Note: So True!]

15. They’ll Give You Great Abs. If you’ve got a body fat percentage that’s low enough, and you squat regularly, you’ll quickly find that you have no need to do a lot of work on your abs. In fact, some of the best sets of abs I’ve ever seen have been the product of squats, and squats alone.

My biggest problem is balancing out nutrition to support muscle growth but not so much that I’m gaining [too much] fat.  Yeah, I’m vain in that I want to look good at the neighborhood pool, but that’s part of what I’m working towards. After pool season I may take a serious stab at the Lift Big, Eat Big approach and just try to gain as much muscle mass I can in 6 months and see what happens.  But for now, I realize I’m compromising to some extent on how strong I can get…sacrificing strength and mass for a leaner physique.  Trust me though, I’ve got some meat on my bones and look nothing like the Bieber-lookalike above.  When I feel confident enough, I still hope to post some photos of my progression from skinny-fat runner to skinny-ish HIIT training to lifting heavy crossfit-esque training bodies.

Hope your summer preparations for a better body are going well.

…and here’s my idea of a lady’s beach body (some muscles and curves – notice lack of flab and waif-like arms and legs).

Abbey "Pudgy" Stockton, Queen of the Beasts and Regent of Muscle Beach.

Abbey “Pudgy” Stockton, Queen of the Beasts and Regent of Muscle Beach.

Newton’s First Law of Motion in Life

Newton’s First Law of Motion is generally described as a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest (unless acted upon by an outside force). I think life is a lot like that.  It’s much easier to flip the switch and get into the groove and stay in the groove, than it is to get into the groove in the first place.  And if an outside force acts upon you to get you out of the groove, it is really hard to get back into it.  Some examples here:

Marriage and Family: very easy to get into a pattern where focus is on taking care of the “inelastic demand” items and then to have little gumption to refocus on those that are more elastic.  If you remember from high-school economics, Inelastic Demand is a demand that does not change no matter how high the price.  If you HAVE to go into work everyday and there is no way to car pool or take a bus, you’re going to purchase gas no matter how high the cost.  For family stuff, Inelastic Demand items that I see are making sure kids are fed, bathed, entertained and have their school work done; a house that is reasonably cleaned; laundry cleaned; yard and cars maintained; food in the pantry and refrigerator.  Elastic demand then is doing the things above and beyond this with your family or wife.  Things such as emotional bonding, sex, talking about things outside that Inelastic area, teaching your kids sports or crafts… those types of things aren’t necessary for living, but are necessary for a fulfilled family life and marriage.

If you get into a pattern where your groove is to not do those extra things, you may survive but you and your kids or marriage likely won’t thrive.  Instead, if you get into a pattern of making time for those activities, making emotional bonding, sex, and so forth a priority everyday, or nearly everyday, it is so much easier to maintain this momentum than it is to establish the momentum in the first place.

Self: Once you make it a pattern to change your eating patterns or exercising patterns, it almost seems silly at how easy it is to maintain this.  I’m not a Paleo-nazi by any means, but that is mostly how our family eats.. the old 80/20 rule applies.  We (as a family, though we let the kids be a little looser when not at home) usually don’t eat flour or bread and focus more on meats, fruits, veggies and nuts.  Once we made the switch, I think we’ve all felt better.  Holly doesn’t have nearly the blood sugar spikes that used to plague her and overall our family stays happy and healthy.  Whether you eat like that or not, I don’t care, but if you make a global diet change that works (and not trying to “diet”) it is ridiculously easy to stick with it.

Hobbies are another thing it takes to build momentum. It usually takes both a mental and financial commitment as well as a humble attitude as it’s hard to learn new skills.  Over the years I’ve picked up playing guitar, brazilian jiu jitsu, cycling, running, writing, brewing and wine making to name a few.  My commitment to any of these has waxed and waned from year to year but I find that once I get into something, it’s easier to stay with it for awhile than to try and bounce into it for short times.

Exercise is another thing people really struggle with.  In my early 20′s I was a fatter out of shape smoker and it obviously took some time to change this “body at rest” situation.  But once I got into motion, I stayed there over a period of 10 years now.  Once again, I find myself a little bit out of the groove.  With my infection, hospital stay and hand surgery I couldn’t do what I normally do (lift, run, compete) for about a month. It was just last week I got the go ahead to move my barbell again, but my hand is still sore, my range of motion limits my ability to grip the bar, and I’ve become out of shape and lost strength over the last month.  While I’ve lifted a few times thus far, to say I’m out of the groove is an understatement.  During the cold, dark winter I was able to get up at 5:15-5:30 a.m. most days to lift in a cold gym and make some nice strength and Olympic lifting movement progress.  Now, despite sunny mornings, it’s not happening.  I haven’t made the switch in my mind yet that I’m back at it. I’m slowly getting back into the mix and building my strength back up but I haven’t committed mentally.

Basically, being cognisant that Newton’s First Law has a lot of merit is a good first step. If we can make those changes to start the ball rolling, and give the amount of mental energy to stay in the groove, it’s pretty easy.  Falling out of motion is sometimes inevitable.  Being aware that it’s natural and then getting back on the horse of being more aware of your behavior in your marriage, with your children, and in your own hobbies and fitness world can make a big difference in the quality and enjoyment of life.