Thursday, May 31, 2012


I'm off to Portland, Oregon tomorrow to see the family and for some R & R.  Mama Aspen Paleo is headed up there too, and will return with me to Aspen for a few days on her way home.  She's been Paleo/Primal for a year and a half now and enjoys making different recipes, whereas I pretty much eat the same things over and over (but I likes them).  So it's always nice to have her make a meal or two.

Until she arrive though, I'm on my own ... my sister in law is a Register Dietician.  A regular one.  Enough said eh?  We basically agreed not to talk nutrition a long time ago as there isn't much we see eye to eye on.  They don't seem to mind me eating different foods as long as I time my meals so we can all sit down together.  That's cool.  And on vacation I 'cheat' a little anyways so maybe to them I don't look completely nuts.  Eh, I take that back, I'm quite sure they think I'm bonkers.

Time and travel permitting, I hope to get out to the new Cultured Caveman food cart.  Looks pretty cool.  It is way on the other side of town though, so we'll see.  Geesh, I think I've gotten used to being a small town boy. 

I haven't had the urge to sit down and write a lot of posts lately.  I think that mostly has to do with the gorgeous weather.  I just want to be outside soaking in the sunshine.  Perhaps I'm just a fowl weather blogger.  I've noticed though, that a lot of the bloggers I follow have decreased output as well ... I'll bet it is indeed the weather.  I would like to put together a few posts concerning some thoughts I have about exercise and how I goes about it myself these days.  Anyway, ciao for now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Have a Catch

1.  When two or more people stand at a distance and throw an object back and forth while shooting the breeze.
2.  Bliss in action
sentence:  Turn off the boob tube and let's go have a catch!

Family catch
I'm headed to Portland, Oregon at the end of next week and I'm very much looking forward to having a catch with my bro and my nephew (he can catch now ... amazing what can happen in 6 months).  We usually toss around a football or a lacrosse ball, but it's not the object in motion that's important.  It's about slowing things down, relaxing, chatting, and spending some time outdoors in the sun.  It's way cool.

My brother and I grew up having catches and I miss them dearly.  Unfortunately, it's like pulling teeth to get my few friends here to do it.  Most of them would rather bike 50 miles and then run up a mountain to feel like they accomplished something (we have quite the athletic crowd here).  Having a catch would be a waste of time to them.  It's probably my own fault as I was the one who fell for the whole mountain exercise madness when I first got here, becoming one of the 'locals'.  Oh well.  It's too bad though because, as you can tell, I believe there's something magical about catches.  It's like free therapy.  And if you throw some BBQ on the grill to go with it, WELL, call it Heaven.  

The fresh air and invigorating physical movement provided by catches should also not be overlooked by chair-locked office workers as an occasional lunch break alternative.  You don't have to be at the beach or in a backyard to toss a ball around ... a parking lot or alleyway will work fine in most cases (read Nerf ball).  Sure, going for a walk would be awesome too, I'm just saying that if you want to mix in some magic now and then, go have a catch.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's not your fault (really?)

I found this article about obesity from Reuters yesterday: Insight: America's hatred of fat hurts obesity fight.  It correctly starts off by pointing out there's a stigmatization that obese people are gluttons and sloths with no self control.  So much so that (from the article):
One effect of the obesity stigma is that discrimination on the basis of weight is legal. Michigan is the only state that prohibits it, along with a few towns and cities. Everywhere else, it is legal to deny people jobs or refuse to rent them an apartment if they are obese.
 That is truly a shame.  But it's also a shame that from there the article just completely whiffs: 
As long as we have this belief that obese people are lazy and lacking in discipline, it will be hard to get support for policies that change the environment, which are likely to have a much larger impact than trying to change individuals
Actually, short of force feeding people, individuals changing their habits is the ONLY way we can right the ship on this issue.  Each person ultimately has final control of what goes into their mouths.  In his movie Fat Head, Tom Naughton poignantly stood outside a fast food chain restaurant waiting for someone to drag him inside and make him buy some 'bad' food.  Defying conventional wisdom, it didn't happen!  You see, we can only 'change the environment' by voting with our dollars.  If people stopped buying junk overnight and demanded real food from retailers, then the ball would start rolling.  Profits are king.  Large corporate food giants don't give a rip about WHAT they sell you, as long as THEY are the ones selling it to you (and making money).

This does bring up one caveat here.  By subsidizing agriculture, the government is itself changing the environment.  The food giants will gladly take this 'gift' and try to sell us mostly food that is guaranteed to be low cost.  But make no mistake, in the end, if enough people change what they buy, the market will react accordingly.

Even with the so called experts calling for more regulation, most people understand the fundamental reason for obesity (from the article):
A new Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 1,143 adults from May 7 to 10 captures some of the prejudicial attitudes. Asked to identify the main cause of the epidemic, 61 percent chose personal choices about eating and exercising
Of course it's personal choices, but a lot of folks in the health industry don't agree (article):
This week, an influential health panel proposed changes to an obesity-promoting environment, from farm policies to zoning, trying to shift the debate away from personal blame
Sadly, even though most people 'get' that it's personal choices, they still want somebody else to fix the problem for them (article):
In the Reuters/Ipsos poll, respondents were almost evenly split over "government intervention" to reduce obesity, with 52 percent supporting it and 48 percent opposing it
Here's the deal.  People are not obese because they're gluttons and sloths.  They're gluttons and sloths BECAUSE they're obese.  No, that is not some sort of slight of hand or trick wording.  It all comes down to the type of food you're eating.  When a person consumes processed junk food their body is not getting the nutrition it requires to function normally.  In accordance, the body does two things.  First, it wants you to eat more in an attempt to get those lacking nutrients.  And second, it slows down your metabolism to compensate for the small amount of energy it's deriving from said 'food'.  If you fail to change your eating habits and continue to 'starve' your cells of the nutrition it requires then this vicious cycle will spiral out of control with you gaining weight, slowing down and eating more.  Not until you change your eating habits will your health return, delivering more energy and less huger as rewards.

Now, I do sympathize with obese people in regards to all of the bad information that's being tossed about.  This Rueters article is a perfect example.  When health 'experts' spout off that you're not the one to blame, well, that's a lot easier to deal with than changing your habits.  And then if you DO decide to change things, you're told to eat plenty of whole grain, low fat food and do lots of cardio.  Inevitably this ends up not working (long term anyway), you get frustrated, and end up back at square one.  Bad information - I hates it!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stacked agianst Us

Why is it that seemingly everything about our modern lifestyles goes against our grain so to speak?  Let me throw out some examples to show you what I'm talking about.

Actual:  Most people sleep 6-7 hours in a room illuminated by electronic lights, wake up to an alarm clock, and need stimulants to start the day.
Ideal:  Go to bed shortly after sunset and arise when light breaks.  This means sleep time will vary throughout the year, but will average more like 9 hours a night.  And we should sleep in relative darkness.

Actual:  People these days do a lot of sitting.  At work, in the car, on the couch.  It adds up to the majority of the day for a lot of folks.  And we sit in chairs that are downright lousy, if not dangerous, for our health.  Squatting is our natural way to sit.  It's also our natural way to go to the bathroom, but we sit for that too.
Ideal:  We should be moving about throughout the day.  Mostly standing and walking with some light physical labor here and there.  We should go to the bathroom squatting.

Actual:  Indoors.  Most everybody these days spends the majority of their time indoors under artificial light, oftentimes late into the night.  And when people do manage to get outside, they apply sunscreen in order not to burn.
Ideal:  Sun on your skin and fresh air in your lungs everyday.  Don't burn, but don't apply chemically laden sunscreens also.  Use light clothing as Sun protection if needed.

Actual:  Junk.  And lots of it.  Highly processed, artificially flavored and preserved convenience 'food' cooked in Omega 6 abundant, rancid seed oils.  Pizzas, donuts, french fries, pasta, boxed cereals, chips and soda just to name a few.   I think somewhere around 25 % of peoples calories these days are coming from liquids.
Ideal:  Meat, fish and eggs.  Veggies and fruit.  Roots, tubers, herbs and spices.  Water.

Actual:  Lots.  Everyday.  Chronic.
Ideal:   Fight or Flight.  Only on occasion.

Actual:  Face to face communication and group socialization are on the decline.  Most people and families spend ever increasing time in front of screens ... televisions, computers, video games, ipads and smart phones.  Both at home and at work.
Ideal:  Families/Clans/Tribes/Neighborhoods.  Spending time discussing life's pleasures and problems with those whom we share our part of the world.

Health Care
Actual:  Fix the symptoms
Ideal:  Prevention.  Address the cause.

And on and on.   If our society was headed down the wrong path on only one or two of these issues and doing alright with the rest, maybe there would be hope.  But every single friggin thing seems like it's going the wrong way.  My point is that when you add the effects of these things together it doesn't bode so well for us does it?  Our lifestyles are becoming stacked against us.

So why is this?  Why are we increasingly going against our grain in our everyday actions?  I don't think the answer to this question is so cut and dry.  Is the driving force overpopulation?  Over-urbanization?  Bad information?  Over commercialization?  Greed?  Rap music?  Globalization?  Increasing wealth disparity?  Aaaargh.  The world sure is a complicated place.

Hmmm.  I just had some inspiration.  Sometimes, actually a lot of times, these posts are me just thinking out loud to myself while I mull things over so bear with me here.

Greed Vs. Giving.  When you think about it, Greed sure does seem to make the wheels spin in the wrong direction on a lot of things.  No surprise there I suppose.  And it's brilliant, but opposite twin of Giving can push things back the other way.  Again, not headline news.  But what brings about Greed and Giving?  Are they natural traits found in varying degrees in all of us?  Are they learned behaviors?  Can we cultivate Giving and suppress Greed?   I don't think we can just about face overnight on all of the stuff I mentioned above, but if we can somehow instill in people, and especially our future generations, the virtues of caring and giving we just might plant the seeds for some change.  And as for us right now, I think a positive step would be to slow down and simplify.  Everything is so fast paced and complicated in this world that we're losing focus on how to be the animal that is human, and how to take care of ourselves, our community and our planet.

Now, any ideas on how we can make people who are already really greedy see things differently?  Yeah, that's a tough one.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Picture Post

This is what you get for living High.  I'm talking about altitude of course.  All six of those seaweed snacks were in the sleeve when I opened it, but as you can plainly see five are a tight fit.  This is what happens when too much air is put into products at low altitudes and then trucked up to us here in the Mountains.  At least we can sell these, whereas I'd say about 5% of the chips we get are completely burst open.  And  you can always tell by the way someone opens yogurt if they are from up High or not.  Those of us living in the clouds always open the tab on yogurt pointing away from us.  Otherwise we're likely to be wearing it.

I saw this product on our shelves the other day.  Horchata is a traditional Hispanic beverage made in several different styles.  However, as you can see (click to enlarge) there is absolutely nothing traditional about the ingredients other than the last two.  I know there's a lot of products out there that are pure junk like this one so it's certainly not unique.  I just found it ironic that here we have a 'traditional' item made in homes for hundreds of years turned into a chemistry project.

This car is in the parking lot where I live.  Jet Fuel Only huh?  Mmm ... must be one of those European models.  I suppose what's under the bonnet is more important than outward appearances.

Kinda like me.  I may not be the snazziest of dressers, but I got it where it counts.

Paleo Fuel Only.      Well, mostly anyways.

Far from home.  This is 'art' in someones yard in town.  The distances are actually accurate as far as the crow flies.  Or the private jet in this case.  It leads into my next post in which I'll ask why we're so far off the mark with our everyday lives concerning what is good for us.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Authentico Burmese

Be jealous.  Be very jealous.

My Burmese friends invited me over for dinner again.  An authentic Burmese dinner.  And as you can probably guess it was pure awesomeness on many levels.  First off, I really enjoy their company.  I don't have a lot of friends, but the ones that I do have are very close and dear to me.  I feel privileged and honored to have come to know this family, being invited to their wedding and welcomed into their home for dinner.  It's a very special thing to share traditional celebrations and food.

In a way, I feel like I occasionally take a cultural trip to Burma.  And what's so unique about this is that not many people get to travel there (at least not yet ... here's hoping things are changing).  Their brutal military dictatorship has wreaked havoc on the entire society the past several decades.  Some of the stories they have told me are unbelievable.  And for all of the bashing I do of our increasingly dysfunctional governmental system here in the US of A, I sure count my lucky starts knowing it could be much, much worse.

Thinking about the evening, it kind of reminds me of when those Travel Channel food show hosts jaunt around the world sampling local cuisine.  When they're lucky enough to be invited into somebody's home for a traditional meal, they always rave that it was the best meal of their trip.  And it's easy to see why.


Service was buffet style with us taking from each bowl what we wanted, and putting it onto our plates which had a bed of white rice.  They use a lot of Thai chilies in their cooking, so most of the dishes are spicy.  I like spicy.  Absolutely everything on the table was amazing, and I was especially impressed by the soup.  I'm not usually a soup guy, but the depth of flavor residing in that bowl was astounding.  Anyway, here's a brief summary of the items on the table:

Rice noodle salad - rice noodles, carrots, boiled/pureed tomatos and vinegar
Green papaya salad - grated green papaya flesh, Thai chilis, dried shrimp, garlic and lemon
Tom yum soup - lemongrass, shiitakes, shrimp, fish sauce, lime, and chilis
Beef and potato's - with garlic and ginger
Pork - with tomatos, garlic, ginger and onions
Chicken - cilantro, garlic, tomatos, onions and one other veggie I've never heard of.

The chicken dish is a traditional Kachin dish, which is the particular region of Burma my friends are from.  Interestingly, unlike our country which has one language, Burma has regional areas with many different dialects. 

As much as I love the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, the last thing on my mind that night was if the food was Paleo or not.  Or what kind of oil was used.  Or if there was soy or gluten or on and on.  Nope, sometimes you just check your ego, and your eating habits, at the door.