Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everything in Moderation ?

Everything in moderation, including moderation.  You hear it all the time.  Sounds pretty reasonable doesn't it?   It can be applied to just about, well, everything:  spending, exercise, sex, working, saving money, stress, nutrition, socializing, alcohol, travel, etc. etc.  The thinking goes that gluttony or deprivation will be our ruin and it's much wiser to walk the road of moderation.

Or is it?

Nothing succeeds like excess right?  All or nothing baby ... in for a dime in for a dollar.  Is this the way to go?  Sometimes?  Maybe?

I've been chewing over this everything in moderation wisdom and here's my 2 cents.  Moderation is fine, it's the 'everything' that can get us into trouble.  There's just too much everything.

Let's take Food and Exercise as two examples here.  On the surface, food and exercise in moderation sounds good.  Don't gorge yourself with food or hurt yourself exercising, and likewise, don't excessively fast or become a couch potato.  Moderate food.  Moderate exercise.  But are we talking about moderate volumes of these things?  Probably most people are I'd imagine.  They're likely not too concerned with what types of food and exercise, as long as the doses are in moderation.

This is where I beg to differ.  With so many different choices of foods and exercises (and everything else) these days, I think enjoying moderate amounts of all of them would be folly.  More to the point, you should avoid or minimize things that are potentially unhealthy or dangerous.  No moderate amounts of Russian Roulette please.  The catch, of course, is that everybody has their own ideas as to what is unhealthy and dangerous.

Some people think saturated fat and lifting very heavy things are unhealthy and dangerous.  Accordingly, they should eat or do these things sparingly, not moderately.  I, on the other hand, believe that grains, seed oils and chronic cardio are unhealthy and dangerous.  Therefore, I look to minimize these particulars in my lifestyle.  With some things, even moderate amounts don't look to be a good idea.

So, I have no problem with moderation itself.  Moderate amounts of what one considers to be healthy and productive seems reasonable.  For instance, I believe sprinting is king, but I wouldn't do it every day.  No, my body would fall apart in short order.  And with food, I take in moderate amounts of my 'healthy menu': meats, tubers, veggies, fruits, eggs, fish, and chocolate.  I guess where I get frustrated is when people take the 'everything' in everything in moderation too literally.  

In the end, everything in moderation turns out to be the quotation equivalent of comfort food.  People mainly use it as justification for straying outside of their perceived notions of healthy or ideal.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Up The Intensity

Okay, I'm finally getting to how I go about my Sprints.  I've previously discussed the benefits of Sprinting and touched on the myriad of different ways you can include them in your lifestyle.  In addition, like all of the fancy dials on a 200,000 Quid Supercar (I've been watching a lot of Top Gear lately), you can adjust duration, rest time, number of sprints, and intensity level to your liking.  Play with it.  Find out what works for you.
The Launching Pad

This is what works for me:  Short, Steep, and Intense.

Short:  15 ish seconds.  I think.  I actually don't time it.  When I do sprint longer, the intensity has to come down.  That's just the nature of the beast.  I started out doing 8 of these sprints a couple of years ago and now I'm down to 5.  My goal is to get it to 4 (counter-intuitive I know, but I explain below).

Steep:  I sprint uphill.  Makes it a bit easier to 'work harder' and is less jarring on your body.  I actually prefer an incline of about 4 to 6 %.  This still allows for a lot of speed.  If the gradient gets much above this, you almost feel like you're sprinting in slow motion.  I do like to get some very steep sets in once in awhile, just not as the backbone of my routine.

Intense:  All out baby.  I'm slowly getting my sprints closer to 100% max effort (I'd consider 100% running for your life, or maybe a gold medal).  With increasing intensity, I can now get the same effect out of 5 sprints that I needed 8 to accomplish when I started.  Within each sprint itself, I build for the first couple of seconds and then go full throttle.  These sprints are so intense, that after each one, my hands are on my knees and I'm sucking wind.  If I tried to walk I would fall down.  I stay hunched over until I can remember what planet I live on and then I walk back down the Launching Pad to repeat the insanity.

Secret Weapon:  Grid Roller.  This is a firm roller that I use every morning on my legs.  Every morning.  That's the secret.  I'll make no bones about it, this tool saves me time and reduces the likelihood of injury.  It essentially 'warms up' the legs with direct pressure.  This, combined with two mini warm up sprints, is all I need (even in sub-zero degree temperatures).  It might not be all you need, especially at first, but at this point my warm up is ridiculously short.  And I don't ever feel like I'm going to 'pull a hammy' or tweak something.  Maybe some of that also has to do with my sprinting twice a week, every week, for over two years now.  Either way, the roller is awesome.

Notes:  I'm completely focused on my body during sprints.  I talked about this focus and it's importance in Master the Moment.

I also fine tune and adjust my technique on occasion:  What does a more powerful arm swing feel like?  What if I swing my arms higher?  Or lower?  What if I push off more with my hamstrings?  Or 'paw' at the ground with my toes?  What if I tilt my head and look down?  And on and on.  It's kind of fun to play with form and feel what happens.  And since I don't time myself, I'm not concerned whether or not something makes me faster or slower, just with how it feels.

In the summer I sprint in my Vibrams.  For the other 11 months, I use a 'flat' running shoe.

Summary:  Sprinting is King.  It offers an incredible bang for your buck.  It is, however, not for everyone.  If you decide to try them, you must pay attention to your body and ease into a routine.  As you become more comfortable with how you're handling things, you can up the intensity and truly reap the benefits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


O.I.A.  IV

I'm having the last of the 1/4 cow I got last season for dinner tonight.  And I only have a little ground Buffalo and Lamb left as well.  So it was time to stock up a bit.

As you can see, I went for ground Goat this time.  27 pounds of Goatalicious, and some beef soup bones.   I got it from an interesting farm/ranch located in Silt (50 miles downvalley from here) called Eagle Springs Organic.  I tried one pound of this stuff last Fall and was impressed.  I found it at a new little shop in town, and both the shop and the farm/ranch have a bit of an interesting story.
Mmmmm   Goaty

The shop is called Eagle Springs Aspen Market.  It sells the items from the farm/ranch as well as some other 'natural' items they order from a distributor.  Mostly they feature their own produce and meat products.  It's been open several months now, and will be open year round.  Not terribly unusual until you consider where we are (the middle of the Rocky Mountain's) and where the shop is (downtown Aspen).  The story begins with the location.

With ridiculous rents in Aspen, there is no way a small farm/ranch shop could normally survive.  We've had a great Farmers Market in the Summer here for a number of years now, but a shop in a downtown building, open all year, is odd.  As in there has to be a catch.  And, indeed, there is.  Money.  Good old greenbacks.  Good old Aspen greenbacks.  In this case, however, I'm not complaining as I'm a benefiting from the situation.  So the story goes some billionaire buys a farm/ranch where he wants to go all green and sustainable.  Hence, Eagle Springs Organics.  Now, this is not the farm your Grandparents grew up on.  As you can see from their website, they're installing a 1.1 megawatt Solar-field to negate 100% of their electrical consumption ... you know, like most farms are doing nowadays .  They also have a 58,000 sqft. greenhouse with 5 different 'zones' as they call them (holy Toledo, is that time zones?).  And one of those zones is a Fish House.  Yep, they even have Tilapia on this farm.  You get the point, this is not your average Rural spread.  With a greenhouse the size of a small moon though, we now have fresh produce up here all year round.  Nice.

The billionaire also bought a building in downtown Aspen where he plans on having some retail shops.  Nothing unusual there.  But for some reason the shops he has planned are on hold (I can't remember why).  So, in the meantime, he comes up with the idea to sell product from his farm/ranch in the building, and calls it Eagle Springs Aspen Market.  Thusly, we now have a little 'hippie' farm shop surrounded by the likes of Gucci, Prada, The Caribou Club, and lots of sushi restaurants.  Turns out this guy plans on keeping the farm shop now, putting it in the basement of his building when the 'real' merchandise goes into the street level space.  Again, Nice.

Eagle Springs raises a number of different animals, including Goats, Lambs, Cattle, and Pigs.  Cool.  As you can see in the picture, the ground Goat has 'not for sale' on it.  The farm manager called me to make sure this was okay and that I didn't intend it for resale.  I assured him that it's very shortly headed for my belly.  Apparently, they have a couple of different processing places they use, and the one that they really like is not certified to package stuff up for sale at retail venues.  They just process for people buying the whole animal ... like a contract buy.  He had some ground Goat left over and I'm the lucky beneficiary.   Yum Yum Goat!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Green and Leafy

I've been thinking about green leafy vegetables lately (uh oh, watch out right).  You know, the holy grail of nutrition.  Whether you're Vegetarian, Primal or somewhere in Normal Land, green leafs are all the rage.  They're loaded with micro nutrients and antioxidants.

But are we any good at accessing the nutrients from greens?  Can we break down the cellulose very well?  Do we have the gut bacteria required to make said nutrients available?  We have some I know, but only a fraction compared to that of pure herbivores.  Does cooking help break down the plant fibers and make the nutrients more absorbable?  Our paleolithic ancestors had fire, and no doubt cooked some of their meat, but did they cook greens as well?  Hmmmm.  So many questions.

Da Bomb?
Actually, let me take a step back.  Let me start the questioning from a different point of view.  What is meant to be food?  Fruit.  Milk for the little ones.  Ummm.  What else.  I can't come up with anything.

Looking at it from this angle, if almost all of what we eat isn't really meant to be food, or to put it another way, doesn't really want to be eaten, then what should we eat?  Everything that tastes good?  Anything that doesn't make us sick?  Yes and yes ... especially when you're eating for your very survival.  But some of us today are blessed with the circumstances and opportunity to think about what the optimal things are for us to eat.

Let's dig a little deeper here.  If most of the food that we eat wasn't meant to be eaten, then what was it meant for?

       Leafy greens - photosynthesis for the plant.  Sunshine converted to energy ... brilliant!  But of course, if you take away these parts, the plant will die.  So it naturally makes some compounds (anti nutrients) that when ingested by predators, hopefully, makes them sick enough that they don't come back for more.  Nice eh?  Herbivores have gotten around this little obstacle by utilizing their gut bacteria to 'break down' or convert the nutrients into a usable fuel for them.  It's a symbiotic relationship at it's best. 
      Tubers - nutrient 'survival' sacks for plants to last thru winter/hard times.  Wait a minute ... they're stores of nutrients?  That sounds promising.   Naturally the plant doesn't want to lose these parts as well, so surely, they too must have some anti nutrients.  And yes, they do.  Fortunately for us though, they're mostly concentrated in the skin  (this has to do with the largest threat coming from little bugs and microorganisms in the soil).  So peeling your tubers is a good idea.

       Seeds/Nuts/Grains - baby plant material.  Okay, I'm going way too simplistic here lumping these together, but hey, this isn't a botany class.  Again, plants don't want these to be destroyed (ie: digested into oblivion).  No beuano for the plant.  Eaten, possibly, but then deposited whole, out the backside of an animal, somewhere for future generations to take hold.  More ideally, spread around by the wind or gravity.  But in order not to be digested, they have anti nutrients.  Aren't these things just everywhere?  Some animals like birds and rodents have adapted mechanisms to break down anti nutrients such as phytates and gliadins in these thing, but, unfortunately, we have not.

        Animals - run around and make babies.  Now, just like plants, animals don't want to be eaten either.  However, unlike plants, animals can run away or fight.  That's their defense mechanism - not anti nutrients.  So if you can catch one, you're in business.  And lets be honest, eating animals is why we're even here today with our big brains thinking about this kind of stuff. 


    Meat, fish, eggs = good

    Tubers = pretty good

    Leafy greens, seeds, nuts, grains = why?

If you need the last group for survival, then eat them.  If not, then I don't see the reason why you need them for optimal health.  They might even be not so great for you, especially in excess.

Now, let me acknowledge that in order to fill all of my nutrient needs, I eat from the whole animal.  That includes offal and bone broth/marrow.  Just the meat, and especially just lean muscle meat, won't cut it nutritionally.  I believe including eggs and fish is important as well.

Am I hating on vegetables?  I don't think so.  Fruits (ie: with the seeds inside of them) include things we often think of as vegetables, like cucumbers, tomatoes,  avocados, and peppers.  Then there's the whole squash category, which from where I stand, falls more into the 'meant to be eaten foods' with their seeds inside.  And of course we also have tubers, which include carrots, onions, yams, potatoes, beets, yucca, garlic, ginger, and taro.  Lots of variety really.

Is there some sort of botanical/anti nutrient checklist I go down with every item on my plate?  Of course not.  This is life and I just like to think about things sometimes.  I'd say overall, though, I do try to minimize anti nutrients in the entirety of my diet.  That's why I'm just not completely sold on loading up on leafy greens every day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hearty Matters

I wasn't sure I wanted to write about this subject when I started this blog.  One needs to be careful about not trumpeting Paleo/Primal as a panacea for all that ails us.  It is not.   However, with St. Valentine's Day here, it got me to reflecting about my heart again.  Sooo, I've decided I'm just going to put it out there anyway.

This probably isn't headed where you're thinking by the way ... it's really about my physical heart.

There's some history of heart disease in my family.  My Grandads ticker gave out on him a couple of years ago, I believe he was 82 or 83.  And my Father had a fatal heart attack at the ripe old age of 48.  I, myself, was diagnosed with an abnormal heartbeat when I was a kid - by a dentist of all people.  Nothing serious mind you, just not a constant metronome like tick.  Kinda all over the place really.  Consequently, I've always paid close attention as to how my heart feels.

In my younger days I thought I was giving myself a leg up by doing plenty of cardio and eating 'healthy'.  Lots of miles and whole grains to make my heart nice and strong you know!  And I was quite good at that lifestyle too.  I had some really good race results, I was lean, and by everybody's definition, very, very fit.  I also ate tons of food, which I spaced out every couple of hours ... like a hungry baby I suppose.  I was a Conventional Wisdom pin up guy.   I also believed I was the antithesis of my Old Man and that I was doing all I could to keep my heart in tip top shape.

Everything was running along smoothly until several years ago when I noticed that my heart wasn't 'feeling' so great.  It would occasionally hurt.   I can't come up with a better word for it unfortunately.  It wasn't a 'oh my gosh I need to go to the hospital right now' kind of hurt.  Not usually anyway.  More of a stabbing, hello here I am sensation (it didn't occur during exercise by the way).  But with my family history, I certainly took notice.  What's more, it started to happen when I slept on my left side.  As in it hurt then ... it felt heavy.  It would actually wake me up if I rolled over onto that side in the middle of the night.  Since I was almost always on my right side though, it wasn't a big deal as far as my sleeping was concerned, but it just didn't seem normal.  It wasn't normal.

Fate intervened and soon enough I came across the Paleosphere and information pointing to the reduction of chronic cardio for healthier living.  The part about not going overboard with long, hard, training and racing really resonated with me.  Who would've ever though it could be better for your heart if you didn't try to pound it into the ground 20 hours a week.  Sounds silly looking back now, but pounding away at it was exactly what I was doing.  I'm not saying getting your heart rate up every now again is a bad thing, but it can no doubt be overdone.  In addition, my large consumption of grains, ice cream, yogurt covered almonds, honey, dates (and on and on) wasn't likely helping the situation.

Okay, fast forward to the present day where you already know that I live a Primal lifestyle.  Here's the good news:  No more does my heart hurt.  At all.  Ever.  Even at night on my left side.  Better still, I have a normal heartbeat.  You can play scales on a piano to the steady rhythm of my ticker.  Cool, no?

I'll never be certain as to why my heart hurt and how serious it might have been.  I also cannot be certain that chronic cardio and grain carbs had anything to do with the situation.  Or that Primal Living was the solution.  It makes sense, but it's not something that is provable.  Hence my hesitation to ever say to anybody that living this lifestyle has 'saved my heart'.  Maybe it has, maybe it hasn't.  Given my family history though, I feel like right now I'm doing the best I can for my body as a whole.  But then again, that's what I thought when I was younger too!

Anyway, the important thing is that I feel great and my heart feels great.  Can't argue with that.

Happy St. Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I did some Sprints this morning.  Love 'em.  While I was doing them I remembered an email I sent out to two lucky people (you know who you are) titled 'Sprinting Manifesto'.  I looked it up, and it was well over a year ago that I sent it - and I still feel the same way about Sprints today!

It's really just me being silly of course, but, that's how I roll.  Here it is for a laugh:

Sprinting is an exercise of the Gods

Think about it ... did the Gods skate ski, run marathons, or dope up with EPO and Clenbuterol to do Grand Tours?

No.  Zeus, Apollo, Mercury, Atlas - they lifted heavy things (oh I don't know, things like PLANET EARTH) and sprinted after people.  Like their enemies to snap them in half and tear out their hearts.  And hot women to make them part of their harem.

Did they do these things to become Gods?

No.  They did these things BECAUSE they were Gods.

So go do something Godlike today and run very
fast or pick up something really heavy.

There is a little supernatural in all of us

I'm actually planning on writing up a post detailing the ins and outs of my Sprints these days.  There are, of course, many different ways to go about them.  I just want to chime in on what's working for me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dr. Influence

Oh Man.  One of those days.

In the morning I had a customer approach me and ask if we carried raspberry ketones (immediate alarm bells - I've been doing this long enough).

I know what raspberries are, and I know what ketones are - I also know we don't have anything called raspberry ketones.  Okay, no big deal.  Not half an hour later I have another customer come up and ask me if we have ...  wait for it ... raspberry ketones.  My first question to her was 'did you happen do hear about this product on Dr. Oz today?'  Why, yes, indeed she did.  Surprise, surprise.  I also informed her that we did not have said product and that I would look into it.

So I go online and low and behold there is something called the raspberry ketone diet.  Miracle way to lose weight, lots of studies and science behind it - so it says.  I didn't bother to look into the details, just paid attention to who is actually selling the product.  Man oh man.  At the end of my day, five additional customers had asked me if we sold raspberry ketones.  And can you guess how many were middle aged women?  Okay, that wasn't very nice.

We have a pharmacy in the store now, and before I left, I asked the Pharmacist if anyone had queried her about raspberry ketones.  She said no, and that she, too, had not heard of it.  I told her it was on Dr. Oz and that it's for weight loss.  Her answer?  'Maybe if they weren't on the couch watching Dr. Oz, they wouldn't need a weight loss pill'     Oh Snap! ... I love it.

Okay, so my ire is not actually directed at Dr. Oz.  He is a Businessman and a Doctor (in that order).  He can do whatever he wants.  My concern is for the people he is taking advantage of.  Whether you are Paleo, Primal, Vegetarian, or smack in the middle of Conventional Wisdom, you know, you just know deep inside, that there is not a magic pill you can take that will shed body fat in a safe and healthy manner.

And yet, people still want to believe.  They want there to be an easy solution.  And someone like Dr. Oz will all to happily play to their hopes and take their money.  Nice.

Later in the day I had a Rep. stop by and I told her what was going on.  She informed me that one of the large Vitamin store chains in the region actually has someone at their headquarters monitoring Dr. Oz's show for moments exactly like this.  Moments when a bunch of people will walk into their establishment looking for a product they saw on his show.  I'd bet my breakfast they were stocked up on raspberry ketones today.  And if we had five people come into our small store, in our small town,  just imagine what happened across the Nation in large Metropolitan areas.  I shudder to think about it.

The Rep. aslo dropped off a sample of the product you see in the picture.  Caveman Foods.  She knows my lifestyle and though it might be something of interest.  Look at the catch line on the package ... 'WHAT WE'RE MEANT TO EAT'.  Now look at the ingredients list.  Are you frigging serious?  Arrrrgh.

I have no problem with people getting into business and trying to make a buck.  Heck, they can even use the catchy term 'Caveman' and all.  But if they think somebody is dumb enough to actually believe this packaged food with maltodextrin, caramel color, soybean oil, and silicone dioxide is something our ancestors ate ... well, then, they probably think there's someone gullible enough to buy a magic weight loss pill too.  Oh wait.

Man what a day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is That Enough ?

I've been thinking a lot lately.  More than usual I suppose.

A lot about What to do?  To put it bluntly, I find myself overwhelmed with thoughts and underwhelmed with action.

Oh, I talk the talk and walk the walk with my eating, exercise, and lifestyle in general, but is that enough?  I often lead by example with my day to day actions and gladly answer questions as to why I choose this path, but is that enough?  I focus during exercise and try do the same with my family, and at work, and when helping others, but is that enough?

My nephew and I
It's more than some do and a lot less than others.  There are days when I want to move mountains and make the whole Planet a healthier and happier place to live, and then there are days I just want to be left alone.   But every day, I find myself thinking.  Wondering.  Contemplating.  Sometimes with hope, and sometimes with despair.  There's always so much to consider, so much to ruminate on.  I have to be careful not to fall into analysis paralysis.

Finding meaning in Life is what I'm getting at I guess.  Is it enough to live healthy and to try and help others do the same?  Sure, it's noble, and perhaps a quest that is never-ending as we better discover ourselves and those around us.  But is it enough?

I propose that it is not.  At least, it's incomplete if we do not include Love and Respect in our actions.  In our actions towards ourselves, our actions towards others and our actions towards our Planet.  All of our actions really. 

Thinking about it more and more, it's all well and good to have focus and intent like I previously talked about in What If, but is focus enough without Love and Respect?  Focus is good, really good in fact.  But when we add Love and Respect to it, then we begin to find meaning in what it is that we're doing.  Not only what we're doing at this very moment, but what we're doing with our very lives.

I suppose I'm getting a bit grandiose in my hierarchy of thinking these days.  Shoot, if we all lived our lives listening to our bodies, focused on our actions with Love and Respect for everything and everyone around us, then the World would be quite a different place.

You know what though? ... I think I would really like that World.