Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The hierarchy

Okay, the Taubes Article in the Times has me re-organizing this whole deal in my head once again.

Clearly, we can't all go live in some prehistoric jungle/cave scenario with non-depleted soils and non-contaminated wildlife. For one, I don't know how to make spears...

So we are left making the small choices throughout the day. Do we take the risk of getting cancer from dryer sheets or eating a bag of M&M's?

Mark Sisson and Kurt Harris have made two very good, useful attempts to put the entire subject into perspective. Mark has The Primal Blueprint Laws while Kurt has a list of 12 steps. I think Kurt's is closer to what I have in mind, but I'm still contemplating something a big more visual, more flowchart-like than Mark's multiple pyramids or a simple list.
So, hopefully that's something I'll wrap my tiny brain around soon enough and put up. How to navigate the modern world in an ancient (in design) body. By Adam. It might turn out cool, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Recovery's a big issue in my mind lately. Not from some type of addiction, but from my workouts. I'm pushing (and pulling) to gain a few good pounds by lifting heavy weights approximately 3 days/week, and training jiu jitsu at varying intensities 5-6. Some of the days are the same days (e.g. I get up at 5 a.m., go lift, go to work, go to the academy, get home 10:15 p.m.), but it leaves me very few days to passively recover.

On reccomendation from a training partner, I have begun experimenting with Epsom Salt baths. So far, I have to say it appears to help, but that's purely anecdotal. I plan to look around for studies.

But there's a strange tie-in here that I'd like to address. Fabric softener.

We enlightened modern-day beings enjoy pretending that our skin is like some impenetrable, impermeable plastic-like barrier between our inner bodies and the world around us.

Claims that the chemicals found in liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets alike are known carcinogens have recently been brought to my attention. Thus far, I've found no known, reliable sources claiming this information, nor any peer-reviewed medical studies testing whether these chemicals cause harm just from being used in your washer/dryer. That being said, I don't consider it remotely implausible that we make ourselves sick in the name of static-free, soft, lavender scented clothing.

It's a thin line you have to walk if you want to avoid the perils of the Standard American Diet, the dangerous chemicals that make modern life possible, and the moral hazards inherent therein. But we all have to find where convention ends and crazy begins and try to walk that thin line. It's not a small task, but one the educated amont us have no choice but to undertake. I hope I can be of help. Please feel free to comment and provide information, request information, or ask my opinion on any topics you find relevant.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

How to move

Brazilian/Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a sport that required agility, balance, and strength. It's basically a form of submission wrestling, for those who don't know. I was at the 2011 New York Open Tournament for most of the day yesterday, and I had a bit of an interesting observation.

While one of the heavier divisions of blue belts were competing, I noticed a 5 year old kid climbing and running around in the bleachers near where I was sitting.

I watched as 2 very muscular, clearly strong 200+ pound men, who looked extremely limited in their flexibility, and were basically pinned head to head trying to push each other harder than they were being pushed.

The 5 year old was leaping from row to row in the bleachers nimbly, landing on a single foot without hesitation.

The human body is extremely adaptable to stimuli. If you get a chance, look up some power lifters and compare how they look to body builders. Look up some of the guys who have videos on you tube doing sets of 20+ muscle ups. As a function of his size, I have to say the 5 year old had the far more useful body than the adults to which I was comparing him yesterday. It's easy to think of strength as just getting bigger, stronger muscles, but that neglects range of motion, flexibility, not to mention the more utile nature of fast-twitch muscle fibers for certain applications when compared to slow-twitch...

Next time you're in a set of bleachers, see if you can hop around them fearlessly, landing on one foot, scrambling up and down and changing the position of your body in as many ways as possible. If you can't, I suggest you work to change that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gym Rant

Okay, here's my gym advice, courtesy of the fine folks who inhabit my local gym in the early mornings:

1. The best lower body exercise is one I like to call the "Leg Press Shiver." You have to load several plates onto the leg press, then lower and raise the weight no more than 4-6 inches using your legs. This has the benefit of not only using none of your own body to stabilize any weight, but your self-esteem will rise because you're "lifting" such a large amount of weight.

2. There are only 2 real muscle groups. Biceps and Calves. If you aren't doing 3 supersetted calf exercises, you'll never be truly strong or athletic.

3. While exercising biceps, make sure to get the weight of your beer gut into the exercise by swinging it to and fro with each repetition. You have to justify that things somehow. Don't worry, everybody's attention is drawn away from it by your massive calves.

4. Please utilize any and all of the gym equipment in your pursuit of massive guns. It is appropriate to use the safety squat rack for bicep curls, especially if you refuse to rack your weights when you're finished. That will teach all those losers with the tiny calves who like to jeopardize their knees by actually doing squats.

I appreciate each and every one of your full compliance with these principles. Only if we all adhere to these fundamental tenets of gym usage and citizenship can we truly maximize the workout experience for ourselves and those around us.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weight Gain

Okay, for the past 3 weeks or so I've been on a quest to put on some mass.

After carefully considering all the factors in Mark Sisson's post on the subject, I went about adding some heavy lifting (read: doing the squat, the deadlift, and bench press) to my already intense workout regimen.

I have to say, I really pushed myself to eat over the past 3 weeks. I didn't boil a dozen eggs every morning and stuff my pockets, as Mark suggested, but I increased the quantity of food at each meal, and I increased the number of meals I was eating.

Results to date are that I've definitely added mass, both muscle and fat (I did start this experiment pretty lean, so I guess it had to work that way). People have actually noticed that I look bigger in the chest and shoulders (thanks, Squats!).

Anyway, I want to keep the good mass coming, but I've reached the point where I'm not happy with the un-lean mass I've put on. I'm going to look for a balance between giving my body all the resources it needs to build the strong kind of muscle tissue without force-feeding myself to the point that I end up with love handles and wonder where my bottom 4 abs went.

Further results to follow. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Paleo 2.0 Reflections

Okay, here's the point of Paleo 2.0, from my perspective...

First off, I was a Daniel Quinn and Jean Liedloff acolyte long before I ever found the Nora Gedgoudases and Mark Sissons of the world. These are people who looked at our modern society and compared it to our ancestral expectations and said "wow, here's evidence that people who lived in successful, workable societies may have lived richer, fuller lives than we do. Here's evidence that there were some stimuli that existed for 99.9% of our past, and it makes sense that we run into problems when we're deprived of them."

Despite hundreds of accusations, they never said:  "Let's pick up spears and go live in caves."

Likewise, Paleo 2.0 is not noble savage theory. It's about what works for people. It's about looking at how people are constructed, how they came into existence, and what works best for them based on the best science possible.

These concepts are seamless. DQ and Liedloff tend to concern themselves with our archaic, inherent needs as they relate to society, and culture. Paleo 2.0 seems aimed at nutrition, maybe with physical activity included, at this point. I'd love to see a single framework encompass this all. The Paleo Principle, basically, applied to everything. A unified Paleo Principle. I see trees of green...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Paleo 2.0

Kurt Harris has done it again. He's a foundation thinker of a new paradigm within a paradigm. He's calling it Paleo 2.0 and I'm on board 100%. He is fast becoming my favorite blogger, and I sincerely hope he keeps up his recent post pace. You have my absolute permission and blessing to forget everything I've ever said and just read this one post.