Tuesday, 30 November 2010

"Breakfast of Chumps"

All credit to Robert Choate.  His efforts to expose the 'empty calories' of breakfast cereals precede 'paleo' by several decades as this extract from Time illustrates:
  • Choate showed a chart ranking cereals according to the quantities of nine different vitamins, minerals and protein they contain. In a scale of 900, only three products rated as high as 700. The three: Kellogg's Product 19 and General Mills' Kaboom and Total. Two-thirds of the cereals ranked below 100. Among them were the five bestsellers: Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and Sugar Frosted Flakes, and General Mills' Cheerios and Wheaties ("Breakfast of Champions"). Nabisco's Shredded Wheat ranked last.
His message is still appropriate now and has much wider application, identifying foods that 'fatten but do little to prevent malnutrition'.  Choate's actions led to this article in Time titled "Breakfast of Chumps?" dated August 3rd 1970!

Monday, 29 November 2010


When Richard Feinman argued against the notion that 'a calorie is a calorie' he did so by defining this phrase thusly:
  • The most common meaning is that is it impossible for two isocaloric diets to lead to different weight loss. (Feinman 2004)
Having argued that energy-yield is path-dependent and that protein and carbohydrate for example, are not energetically equivalent fuels (think gluconeogenesis), he went on to further observe that 'in weight loss diets...inefficiency is desirable and is tied to hormonal levels and enzyme activities'.  Finally he addressed the topic of 'efficiency and thermogenesis' (that is to say the thermic overhead of eating/digestion) for lipids, carbohydrates and protein.  All very formal and all very 'physics'.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Wk1 W/O1 (Long Rests)

The UK has been gripped by a cold spell.  Snow lies over most of the country and last night temperatures fell to -5 to -18 in places.  It is COLD!  And still only November.  Such temperatures should not get in the way of a 'neolithic pseudo hunt'

This is a deloaded phase.  Can't push it too hard.  A bit of me is still not sure whether to push volume or strength - probably the former with longer rests.  The rests are established by pairing exercises.. 

I am toying with the idea of going barefoot on the kill carry - depending on the ice outside.  The real risk here is the 321 finger workout.  Got to make sure I am warmed up properly.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Stairgators (1)
2a. V-Foot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
2b. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
3a. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
3b. 321 (4 fng, Frnt 3, Back 3)
4. V-Foot Kill Carry

Foods that Make Billions: Cereal

A heads-up for this weeks episode of 'Food that Makes Billions' on Tuesday, 21:00 on BBC Two (England, Northern Ireland, Wales only):
  • What all cereals have got in common is they started as grain - a cheap and characterless commodity. The grain is processed before advertising loads it with meaning. The result is sold for a big profit. Understand this process and you understand the modern food business.

    Ninety four per cent of us have a box of cereal in our kitchen cupboards. But a century ago nobody did. How did this emblematic industry colonise our kitchen cupboards so comprehensively?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Routine Change

I have stepped up my Lau Gar training and it is having an impact on my other training.  What I need to do is to cut gym time.  I stayed out the gym this week and the recovery advantage was not lost on me.  Some of my forms require pistol-like moves from the ground, and with fresh legs it fells easy and dynamic.  If not fully fresh these moves are laboured.

I think I am going to hit two 'formal' workouts a week, A and B.  But I will have to flavours of workout A and two of workout B.  This means for example, I will only deadlift once every two weeks.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Magic of Kendrick

As with the magic of Taubes, Dr Malcolm Kendrick also pens quite a 'show-stopping' passage when he wants to:
  • "I sometimes remark to those who think my ideas on heart disease are entirely batty, 'Why do you think that an egg yolk is full of cholesterol?'  Answer: because it takes one hell of a lot of cholesterol to build a healthy chicken.  It also takes a hell of a lot of cholesterol to build, and maintain, a healthy human being.  In fact, cholesterol is so important that all cells, apart from nerones, can manufacture cholesterol, and one of the key functions of the liver is to synthesize cholesterol.  We also have an entire transportation system dedicated to moving cholesterol around the body."
From 'The Great Cholesterol Con'.

Five in Five

UK Schools are looking to develop coordination, strength and agility in their students using a program called 'Five in Five'.  The 'Five in Five' routines involve squatting, lunging, pushing, bracing and rotating.  The driver behind this is as follows:
  • "Experts say many children do not get a proper workout which helps them develop coordination, strength and agility...Specialists in sports and exercise medicine say that too often PE lessons focus on developing sports skills rather than encouraging flexibility and movement."

This latter point is something I touched upon here, where I expressed doubts about developing strength without not only skill, but general information-rich kinaesthetic awareness.

This article goes on,
  • "You can get stronger, you can get more stable, you can have a much better posture, by exposing yourself to five minutes a day".
Chris touched on posture in a post earlier this week.  There are lots of bases to cover in this quest for health.

Monday, 22 November 2010

We Want Information

Two great extracts from some of the leading thinkers in the fitness field that express some of my reservations about slow training protocols on machines.

Slow protocols may well have their place but I feel they lack 'information'.  Sure loading a muscle is what we want, but loading it under duress, in battle/a hunt would, I imagine, carry a whole different set of information than would muscle loading in the orderly world of Nautilus.

I appreciate the need not to confuse strength and skill, but it seems to me that in the wild and in adolescence they are largely developed in conjunction.  Should we preferentially aim to fire 'synergies'?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Limits

Amongst us paleo(tards), there is suspicion of any news from the medical world heralding 'gene X', vitamin 'Y' and health-marker 'Z' - 'magic numbers' are inappropriate use of reductionist thinking.  Focusing on abstract details and treating numbers does necessarily lead to a positive outcome in a complex system.  You can control a few inputs but much of the outcome is downstream/internal of our immediate control.  This is stated in DeVany's Third law:
  • Homeostasis of one variable does not assure homeostasis along other dimensions. You can read "normal" for many variables and still be exhausting the compensatory mechanisms over time.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find those broader 'drivers' that trigger healthful expression.  As DeVany's Fifth Law states:
  • We should recognize the limits of knowledge and just get on the path that favours better outcomes.

I am not a man. I am Cantona!

Not content with tackling the seagulls, Cantona is now urging us to focus on the trawlermen!  Vive la revolution!

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Is addiction to blame for our high-fat diets? Yes of course it is, because everyone knows that fat is addictive.  Look at fat folk gorging on butter and lard.  Not a grain of sugar in sight.  Baise moi.

Sugar addiction makes it on to Wiki:
  • There has been reference to the idea of sugar addiction in the popular literature for a number of years. In 1998, Kathleen DesMaisons[2] outlined the concept of sugar addiction as a measurable physiological state caused by activation of mu opioid receptors in the brain. Her work extracted data from studies done by Blass[3] showing that sugar acted as an analgesic drug whose effects could be blocked by a morphine blocker. Acting on years of anecdotal evidence from her work in the field of addiction, DesMaisons noted that dependence on sugar followed the same track outlined in the DSM IV for other drugs of abuse.
I couldn't find an entry for fat-addiction, but googling that term brought up this story - "Food addiction: Fat may rewire brain like hard drugs"
  • Over eating may be driven by a same neurobiological mechanism in the brain as drug addition, says a new study from the US that adds clout to the theory ‘food addiction’.
    Data from a study with laboratory rats indicated that the development of obesity was accompanied by a break-down in brain chemistry linked to pleasure responses. According to findings published in Nature Neuroscience, the very same changes occur when rats over-consume heroin or cocaine.
    "These findings confirm what we and many others have suspected that overconsumption of highly pleasurable food triggers addiction-like neuroadaptive responses in brain reward circuitries, driving the development of compulsive eating," said lead researcher Dr Paul Kenny, from The Scripps Research Institutein Florida.
    "Common mechanisms may therefore underlie obesity and drug addiction,” he added.
    The data appears to refocus attention on the formulation of foods, and the Western diet in particular – the researchers fed the rats easy-to-obtain high-calorie, high-fat foods like sausage, bacon, and cheesecake.
Ah yes, high fat cheesecake.  Full of sugar. The article describes the junk food used in the diet as ‘cafeteria-style’.  Go to a any cafeteria and I guarantee that you'll see pastries and cookies, sugared snacks, breads, cakes and muffins.  Why single out 'fat'?  The full paper is available as a free PDF but I can't be arsed to register to read it. 

All I know is that whilst I can stuff myself with paleo food and effortlessly follow my hunger and maintain 'abs', come Christmas I will be belt-feeding Quality Street.  As an addict myself I can tell you EXACTLY where the hit comes from.

Taxing Fat

One problem with obesity is the word "fat".  Obese people are fat, and somehow this language clumsily slips over in to the notion that eating fat is what makes us fat.  This is perfectly exemplified in the Panorama program Tax On Fat where a suggestion was made to tax food high in sugar, salt and fat. 

But look at the still above?  What do you notice?  Any 'fat' food?  Look in the trollies of the obese and you will see sugary foods like those in the still above - but will you see lamb?  Lard?  Steak?  No.  None of these.

Real food is not represented in the image above and yet somehow some real foods are tarnished with the 'junk food' label even though they are unlikely to lead to fattening.

As for 'health food being expensive' - offal (the original health food), is cheap!

Baise moi.

Red, Light and Blue

Red light at night,
Sleeper's delight,
Blue in the morning,
Stops you yawning!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

More Awesomeness...

...from Danny MacAskill.

Volume Wk7 W/O2 (Short Rests)

Work is keeping me heavily occupied.  I had meant to grease the groove with planching and levers in the evening, but some long hours at the keyboard have taken their toll and as the evenings draw in, I just want to head to bed!

On the upside, working longer hours makes me focus on quality time with the kids.  They are in good form and we have had some great episodes of play. 

On Saturday we built bunk-beds which was great fun.  Flash has limited attention on anything so would walk off with wood/screws/tools and Captain Kid and I would be wondering why there were bits missing.  Captain Kid loved the responsibility of sorting out bits, reading the instructions and tightening the allen bolts.  Afterwards we headed to the woods - stalking dog walkers/ramblers, using binoculars, walkie-talkies and learning some 'patrol hand signals'.  (England's win over Australia in the rugby was the icing on the cake last Saturday)

Currently I am feeling quite psyched to lift - and want to push the weight on the DL today.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (25 mins)
1. Deadlift (3x145kg, 3x135kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (15s, 15s, 15s)
3. Planche Variations (60s total)
4. Four-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Smell the Glove

Fatter people may eat more because they smell food more intensely trumpets The Telegraph:

  • Researchers have discovered that the heavier that someone is the more sensitive they are to the smell of food. They believe that this might make the food more appetising to them and so encourage them to eat more. Dr Lorenzo Stafford, of the University of Portsmouth's Department of Psychology, said that there was a definite correlation but as yet he did not know why.
So there you go - being fat makes you more sensitive to smell!  However if you don't buy in to the idea that the obese are fat because they eat more, but that they eat more because they are fat, then unlike Dr Lorenzo Stafford, you can answer why (and probably get the right answer).

Tax the Fat

A quick heads up for an episode of the BBC's Panorama program tonight at 2030hrs called "Tax the Fat":
  • Britain is the fattest nation in Europe, and it's slowly killing us. So is it time to tax the fat? Would putting up the price of junk food, high in sugar and fat, cut obesity rates in the same way as a tax on cigarettes has helped reduce smoking? Panorama travels to Denmark - the first country in the world to implement such a tax - to see how it's working there, and to the

    US, where a proposal to tax sugary drinks like Coca Cola has met with fierce opposition.
    Could a fat tax here help the NHS to afford the ever-rising cost of treating obesity-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease? Reporter Shelley Jofre puts the idea to the Health Secretary, and to families who would have to pay more for junk food.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Volume Wk7 W/O1 (Short Rests)

A primal winter warmer!  Not done this routine for a fortnight so am anticipating more gas in the tank tonight!

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3. Basic MU Ring Routine to Lever (1x20s, 1x20s, 1x20s)
4. Scissor Splits/Cuts (3, 3, 3)
5. Barefoot Weighted Kill Carry (1 + Weight Vest)

A History of Play

Something that I had wanted to blog about a week or two ago - children and play.  I put up a post yesterday that contained the following:
  • Computer-obsessed children who spend too long indoors and over-anxious parents who slap on excessive sunscreen are contributing to a sharp rise in cases of the bone disease rickets, doctors are warning.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Grub's Up: 'DON'T PANIC'!

We stray too far from our evolutionary past at our peril.  I will bang this drum again and again; once you 'get' the paleo idea, once you understand its evolutionary drivers, you are quite well placed to go off and implement it for yourself without too much of a problem.  Without gurus.   Hell, without science.
I don't approve of going against science, but science has been heavily battered and bruised by poor quality research - particularly in the field of nutrition.  This is why we in the West with all our scientists and doctors, nutritionists, medical researchers, education and wealth can suffer a deterioration in personal health that would be alien to an Eskimo living an indigenous existence.  Armed with our conventional wisdom we would, of course, march up to said Eskimo and tell him to 'cut back on the saturated fat and red meat'.

Despite some misgivings, a degree of paleo re-enactment gets us precisely the results we desire.  A good example of modern science really screwing up our health is with rickets. 

Friday, 12 November 2010

Volume Wk6 W/O2 (Short Rests)

My 'tweaked' elbow is feeling much better - but I am going to continue to shy away from OAC work for a while longer.  Better to embrace the variation offered by weighted chins.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Pistols/Pillar Jumps/Leg Extension (12/10x45kg P, 12x30kg LE)
2. HSPU/Press/Snatch (BWx2, 8x14/12kg, 6x16kg)
3. Chins (6/4xBW+37kg, 8xBW+20KG, 8xBW)
4. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (8/6, 6, 6)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Sight of Meat Calms Us

A quick one that continues on from my Free the Cannibal post.  This time about how the sight of meat can calm us,

  • Results from a McGill University study, released yesterday, suggest that people -men, anyways -become less aggressive at the sight of meat.
I'd imagine we see meat, we realise the struggle for life is temporarily over - we have nutritious sustenance to survive the day.  There is also an element of coperations and kinship,
  • But the actual result of less aggression might reflect a genetic disposition to feel comfort at the sight of meat, with it being associated with gatherings of family and friends, the study's authors said.
    Speaking of how ancient ancestors might have adapted their responses to the sight of meat ready for consumption, Kachanoff said "It wouldn't be advantageous to be aggressive anymore because you would've already used your aggression to acquire the meat, and furthermore, you'd be surrounded by people who share . . . your DNA.
Anyone familiar with aggressive rantings over at 30BAD will appreciate this story....and what of vegetarians?
  • [the study had] some vegetarians in the test group, and no major differences were found in their responses.
Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Sight+meat+calms+study/3797807/story.html#ixzz14xokMTLN

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Volume Wk6 W/O1 (Short Rests)

So, I have dropped the usual  Sunday workout for this week only.  Having not deadlifted last week I am expecting a bit of an improvement today in my numbers. 

I should point out that my 'tweaked' left elbow is still mildly injured - and I am not sure how much more rest I should do to heal whilst not losing strength.  I don't want to completely stop chinning or rope climbing but these are the activities that are most likely to aggravate it.  It is getting better, but I just need to moderate intensity.

Also, once again I have realised I am getting distracted from the Planche.  Lau Gar has brought new demands on my time and work commitments are hight this time of year.  The latter can affect my sleep (and so my capacity for work).   I need to put in some GTG type work to push on to the next variation....

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (30 mins)
1. Deadlift (5x135kg, 6x125kg)
2. Wall Walk/Back Bridge (15s, 15s, 15s)
3. Planche Variations (60s total)
4. Four-Way Rotator Cuff Work (1x15 each way)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Volume Wk5 W/O2 (Short Rests)

This is technically W/O3 as I skipped W/O2.  I have been busy at work so didn't really look to push this workout.  I just grabbed a weight approximating what I lifted last time and went for it.

Warm Up (5 mins)
Main (20 mins)
1. Pistols/Pillar Jumps/Leg Extension (10x45kg P, 12x30kg LE)
2. HSPU/Press/Snatch (BWx2, 8x12kg, 6x16kg)
3. Chins (8xBW+32kg, 8xBW, 8xBW)
4. Tucked Ice Cream Maker (6, 6, 4)

I got a PB on the HSPUs and some gain on the BW chins.  Reckon I can drop reps and up the weight.  I still have a niggle on my left elbow so cannot yet go back to OACs (my preferred chinning exercise).

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Marc Chaland

As I progress in Lau Gar I have gotten to play with more advanced weapons, most recently nunchaku .  Nunchaku are synonomous with Chinese martial arts - and in the following video, Frenchman and six time world champion Marc Chaland shows what can be done with them....with a lot of practice!  Things get awesome around 0:50.  At 1:25 they get double-awesome.

bercy 2010.session-00
Uploaded by koryblade. - Discover the latest sports and extreme videos.

Free the Cannibal

I have to say that the first time I heard someone mention hunger pangs supposedly striking surgeons in an operating theatre at the site of blood/open flesh, I recoiled.  The rationale put forward at the time was that this was some kind of evolutionary reflex from our ancestral past as we scavenged for meat.

A quick google revealed one concerned individual who salivated at the sight of blood - although s/he was not a student of medicine.  Is this response a case of hematolagnia or an evolutionary ghost, unavoidably stirred up? 

Outside of medicine there seems to be a whole world of blood fetishism that was hitherto unknown to me - such as clinical vamprism (Renfield syndrome) - an obsession to drink blood!  This is obviously some kind of mental disorder, but when you think of cannibal spectrum from the criminally insane, through religious/ceremonial performances, it does seem odd that you eventually arrive in the field of medicine.  You don't believe me?
Now that is what I call paleo!  ;)