Sunday, 30 October 2011

Volume Week 2 W/O1

Another deloaded week, but at around 90%. Still having to be mindful of recent aches and injuries/tweaks. Nothing too bad and all healing well, but a reminder that it is easy to go too hard, to fast and for too long.

I've been toying with the idea of just doing 4-5 weeks cycles rather than 6-8 week cycles. I'll see closer to the time.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x15s)
3. MU to Ring Routine (2, 2, 2)
4a. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
4b. Planche Variations (20s, 20s, 20s)
5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
6. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Food Hospital

A heads-up for those in the UK.  Channel 4 are launching The Food Hospital next Tuesday.  Food as medicine?  More likely it is that food can be a poison - or that processed food can simply lead to malady. 

I wouldn't bet against there being a load of 'eat 5-6 small meals a day', 'eat more fruit and veg', 'ensure you get enough wholegrain, complex carbohydrate in your diet' kind of advice.  You know, the same rubbish we've been advised for half a century, but let's give it the benefit of the doubt.
  • The Food Hospital doctors meet 24-year-old Lauren, who suffers from such an extreme case of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - with symptoms such as weight gain, fertility problems and, most noticeably, excessive body and facial hair - that she fears living as a virtual recluse forever unless she can find help.

    Crippling migraines are destroying seven-year-old Harvey's life, and his mother will try anything to help her son.

    Twenty-five-year-old twin sisters Kristen and Maren are trying to use food as a weapon against breast cancer.

    And can 44-year-old single dad Chris turn around the world's fifth biggest killer, type 2 diabetes, with food?

    But it's not just about treating patients. Dr Pixie McKenna from Embarrassing Bodies investigates the truth about 'superfoods' and The Food Hospital launches a series of ambitious nationwide 'food as medicine' trials, kicking off in this first episode by investigating if chocolate can help fight high blood pressure.
It has been a while since I've had a TV rant - so one is about due....

Volume Week 1 W/O3

Heavy day!  Deloaded.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1a. Deadlift (4x122, 5x110)
1b. OACs (4x40kg, 5x36, 2-arm 10xBW)
2. Wall Walk (2, 2)
3. 321 (Optional)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Origin of Us

More great output from the BBC.  The 'Origin of Us' is available on iPlayer (until 7:59PM Mon, 7 Nov 2011):
  • In this second episode Dr Alice Roberts charts how our ancestors’ hunt for food has driven the way we look and behave today – from the shape of our face, to the way we see and even the way we attract the opposite sex. Clues to our ancestor’s diet can be found in some surprising places. Alice goes in search of a lion kill to find out how the tape worms in lion’s food reveal our ancestors were eating the same diet of big game 1.7 million years ago. She puts her teeth to the test to reveal that our teeth have evolved to shear through meat. But by comparing her saliva with that of chimpanzees she demonstrates that our body is as much designed to eat starch as it is to eat meat.

It's The Hormones Stoopid

It has long been obvious in the paleosphere that it leaness is all to do with hormones.  If you exercise more, there is a hormonal consequence.  If you fast, there is a hormonal consequence.

We all know people who are obese and who go through the following steps:
  1. They're overweight - say 20 stone, but their weight is quite stable at this level,
  2. They then diet and exercise down to 12 stone,
  3. Unable to sustain their new regime, they go back to their former ways and quickly balloon back up to 20 stone (plus a bit), 
  4. Their weight once again stabilises (albeit at 22 stone).
CW dictates that their indolence and slothfulness has lead them to step one.  They just need to 'eat less and do more'.  CW dictates that the weight loss in step two is achieved from 'burning off their fat through exercise' and eating less.  CW dictates that step three is a direct consequence of a lack of willpower to sustain this new regimen.

But here is where it gets confusing.  Why was the weight stable in steps one and four?  Are the obese showing willpower here that prevents them rapidly putting on weight.  How come they can stop inexorable weight gain at these higher weights - and I have seen this LOTS of times. 

Isn't it odd that after all that hard work and self discipline (willpower), to get lean in step two, the obese often experience a drop in willpower?  A willpower that suddenly returns once they are obese again?

It doesn't make sense to view obesity as simply a matter of 'eat less, do more' nor in terms of 'willpower'.  GCBC makes this perfectly clear.  Not to state the bleedin' obvious, there are exquisite hormonal factors that govern our weight.

Gina Kolata's latest article, 'Study Shows Why It’s Hard to Keep Weight Off', covers new research which notes metabolic/hormonal changes as a consequence of dieting,
  • In the study, Joseph Proietto and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne recruited people who weighed an average of 209 pounds. At the start of the study, his team measured the participants’ hormone levels and assessed their hunger and appetites after they ate a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast. The dieters then spent 10 weeks on a very low calorie regimen of 500 to 550 calories a day intended to makes them lose 10 percent of their body weight. In fact, their weight loss averaged 14 percent, or 29 pounds. As expected, their hormone levels changed in a way that increased their appetites, and indeed they were hungrier than when they started the study.
    They were then given diets intended to maintain their weight loss. A year after the subjects had lost the weight, the researchers repeated their measurements. The subjects were gaining the weight back despite the maintenance diet — on average, gaining back half of what they had lost — and the hormone levels offered a possible explanation.
I like the fact that at the outset they fed their patients 'a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast.'  I wonder what the consequence of feeding the patients just REAL FOOD would have been?

Whatever is said I consider this whole study may well constitute a move towards a more sophisticated approach to health and nutrition - or at least a step away from the CW of the past 40 odd years.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Not many sporting occasions start with a dance. , but the Haka is one hell of a dance.  There are severeal versions of the Haka, usually we get 'Ka Mate', but recently the All Blacks have been running with 'Kapo o Pango'.

As a master of ceremonies the imperious Piri Weepu (the guy prowling around like a caged lion in the video above), provides menace and drama in equal fashion.

The French did a good job of matching the ABs on the psychological front (and also physically in the RWC final 2011).

Wales adopted a similar approach back in 2008 as you can see below. The real action begins after the Haka when the referee tries to defuse the tension!

Volume Week 1 W/O2

Leg work focus today with some shoulder and arm rehab/prevention.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (20 minutes).
1. Pistols (40kg assistance: 8, 8, 8)
2i. MBTs(4kg 8)
2ii. HSPU (assisted 8)
2iii. HSPU (unassisted 1)
3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (10)
4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (10)

Wave Washing

The BBC's Frozen Planet is shaping up to be fascinating.  Hot on the heels of this epic wolf hunt, check out this hunt by orca.  Stunning.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Calorie

Seriously good 'Food Program' on Radio 4 today.  They still seem to sit a bit behind the paleo-curve but just to hear some of these ideas aired on prime time radio is damn significant:

Volume Week 1 W/O1

The beginning of another 6-8 week phase is nigh! I have split stuff up this time around to create a three day work week as I think I lose intensity once training-time gets to 40 minutes. Shoulder rehab/prevention and pistols are duly subbed out to there own day!

As usual I am going to have a week or two deloaded, and then ramp it up for four weeks or so...chucking in some 'instinctive adjustment' and all:
Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (30 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x15s)
3ai. Rope Climb (1)
3aii. MU to Ring Routine (1, 1).
3b. Scissor Splits (1L, 1R, 1C)
3c. Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)
4. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)
5. Barefoot Kill Carry

Epic Wolf Hunt

You've got to love the BBC.  Public service broadcasting at its best.  Check out this extraordinary footage of wolves hunting bison.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Beginning is Nigh

I attended a wedding this weekend in London where a bus had been arranged to take all guests from the registry office to the reception.  It wasn't just any old bus but, but a classic 50's, red, London bus, adorned with wedding livery and flowers.  It was packed full with bride & groom, friends and family.  Did I mention the champagne?  Lots of.

Spirits were high and everyone was becoming rather rowdy as the effects of the Bollinger took hold.  The bus kept slowing as it hit traffic and at one point we came to a standstill.  At the same time a rather dishevelled and mournful-looking guy shuffled past us holding aloft a sign on which were written the words "The beginning is nigh!".

This slogan immediately caught the attention of me and my fellow revellers, and he received a rousing cheer/toast, flutes of champagne held aloft, before we all dissolved in to fits of laughter.  The contrast of our respective situations could not have been greater, and the irony of the phrase at the beginning of the bride & groom's marital life equally apt.

It was good to see his pessimism evaporate, and he gave us a big wave whilst a broad smile crossed his face.  I think we made his day, and he certainly made ours!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Die Biting The Throat: Review of The Gnoll Credo

I have read a few works of fanstasy and science fiction in my time, but since my mid twenties, this genre has lost my attention.  There are only so many times you can riff on the theme of Blark the orphaned child teaming up with a wizard/dwarf/elf/orc/thief (one of whom will be a sexy archeress/sorceress), and a half-human, half-giant side-kick called Thraxon, whom together, steel some magical gauntlets of ogre-power from Doomed Mountain and topple the ruthless Lord Shnoopapple.  (The above describes the fantasy genre.  change the names so they contain lots of 'x's and 'z's and you'll cast the sci-fi version.)

So it was with some trepidation I approached 'The Gnoll Credo' (TGC), which I had seen variously described as a work of fantasy and science fiction.  I have long been a fan of J.Stanton's blog Gnolls, featuring as it does, a well reasoned and well written take on the whole approach to ancestral/evolutionary fitness with an unashamedly 'paleo' leaning. 

Whereas some paleo enthusiasts are 'health and fitness' bloggers, those that interest me are the ones that see humans as animals (an angle arguably pioneered by Arthur DeVany), and as such, weave so much more in to the science of what it takes to be healthy (and human).  It is a rich seam to explore, a simple concept to understand and powerful in its execution, and is an approach that will see you rolling your eyes when scientists show that sprinting through a wood is WAY more beneficial than spending a similar time and intensity on a treadmill.

The 'human as animal' concept seems to run deeply through the Gnolls blog, and so it does through 'The Gnoll Credo'.  In fact if there was EVER a line to pull me back in to reading a work of science fiction, it is the tenth and final belief of the Gnolls, 'Die Biting the Throat'!

Broadly the book details the relationship between Gryka (an eight foot high female bipedal humanoid hyena), and a human called Aidan O'Rourke.  O'Rourke is an anthropologist who seeks to understand and document gnoll society. 

And what of gnolls?  Well they exist in small hunter-gatherer groups.  They are resourceful, intelligent, skillful, social and occasionally savage.  They focus on group survival but can function with independence; maintain firm familial structures and observe sometimes brutal social mores.

O'Rourke's relationship with Gryka begins in their youth and as the cycle of Gryka's life unfolds we reach a bloody climax - the nature of which I will not give away here..

You get a feeling that there may well be some political under current to the book, pitched somewhere between an anarcho-survivalist manifesto and Orwell's 'Animal Farm'.  Perhaps even with a whiff of 'V for Vendetta' spliced with Avatar. 

A gnoll wouldn't vote for a politician, nor enter anything as self-domesticating as a system of Western political governance.  That doesn't mean that gnoll society are anarchic and chaotic, just that they have to take responsibility for their own fate and that of those closest to them.  It is this strong bond with each other, and with their environment that makes them somewhat oblivious to their likely fate at the hands of humans led by a bloated and distanced elite whose rapacious desire for territory threatens the gnoll way of life.

The book is quite short and easily finished in an evening or two.  Having read it the once I feel the need to read it again straight away.  The swift one-two of the plot and the pace in general have left me thinking that there is much more in there that I missed the first time.  It is hard to classify and difficult to describe but it is a truly engaging work!


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Pursue Mastodon with Diligence

Let's get this sorted right now.  If you are a headhunter looking to crack the skye, go here.  If you are looking for some interesting anthropology, read on (courtesy of Nature):
  • "About 13,800 years ago, a mastodon in North America met a somewhat ironic end. It died at the hands of humans wielding a bone projectile made from the skeleton of another mastodon. A study of the remains of this unfortunate trunk-bearing beast add weight to the theory that the downfall of the megafauna may have been more gradual than previously proposed


    Most previously discovered mammoth and mastodon kill sites have been attributed to humans of the Clovis culture, who used finely honed stone tools. These people were thought to have been the first major hunters of Pleistocene wildlife in North America. But the bone tool found in the mastodon rib was created by a culture that was hunting mastodons at least 800 years earlier.

    The humans who killed the mastodon were "carrying a toolkit that was durable, lethal and portable", Waters says. The Manis site may even be a two-for-one discovery. "These people either scavenged bone from a fresh carcass," Waters suggests, "or they had killed another mastodon to make the bone point."
Fascinating stuff!  And don't forget to pursue happiness in the same fashion!

The Ghost Map

I heartily recommend Stephen Johnson's The Ghost Map, not least for the sense of deja vu.  The book covers a terrifying epidemic of cholera which gripped Victorian London:
  • At 6am on 28 August 1854, the city of London struggled to sleep at the end of an oppressively hot summer. But at 40 Broad Street, Soho, Sarah Lewis was awake tending to her feverish baby girl. As she threw a used bucket of water into the cesspool at the front of her lodgings, it marked the start of a cholera epidemic that would consume 50,000 lives in England and Wales - and become a battle between man and microbe unlike any other. Steven Johnson takes us day by day through what happened and re-creates a London full of dust heaps, furnaces and slaughterhouses; where a ghost class of bone-pickers, rag gatherers, dredger men and mud-larks scavenged off waste; where families were crammed into tiny rooms and cartloads of bodies wheeled down the streets. And at the heart of the story is Doctor John Snow: vegetarian, teetotaller, anaesthesiologist and Soho resident, whose use of maps to prove that cholera was spread by water - and not borne on the air as most believed - would bring him into conflict with the entire medical establishment, but ultimately defeat his era's greatest killer. Steven Johnson interweaves this extraordinary story with a wealth of ideas about how cities work, ecosystems thrive and cultures connect. He argues that, with half the planet's population set to be urban, today's megacities could soon be wrestling with the same problems as John Snow and that, just as in 1854, science could be our salvation.
As with Johnson's Emergence, he manages to weave a gripping narrative from a rather dry subject matter.  But what caught my eye in The Ghost Map was the following:
  • "No one died of stench in Victorian London.  But tens of thousands died because the fear  of stench blinded them to the true perils of the city, and drove them to implement a series of wrongheaded reforms that only made the crisis worse...practically the entire medical and political establishment fell into the same deadly error: everyone from Florence Nightingale to the pioneering reformer Edwin Chadwick to the editors of The Lancet to Queen Victoria herself.  The history of knowledge conventionally focuses on breakthrough ideas and conceptual leaps.  But the blind spots on the map, the dark continents of error and prejudice, carry their own mystery as well.  How could so many intelligent people be so grievously wrong for such an extended period of time?  How could they ignore so much overwhelming evidence that contradicted their most basic theories?"
Does this remind you of anything?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

More Bits and Blogs

Want to be bigger, faster and stronger? Then head over to Bigger, Faster, Stronger!  There are loads of programs targetting strength, speed, agility and so forth.  I've only just found the site so I'll do some more digging, but basically it looks pretty interesting on first glance.

Second find is SuppVersity.  yes, yes I know it is a crap name, but it looks to be the real deal.  It covers topics as broad as staying healthy, boosing athletic performance, building muscle, losing fat and improving yoru sex life!

*Bits and Blogs

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Evolutionary Argument

Ever wondered How to Win an Argument With a Meat-Eater? Me neither.  VegSource lists the following arguments:

•The Hunger Argument
•The Environmental Argument
•The Cancer Argument
•The Cholesterol Argument
•The Natural Resources Argument
•The Antibiotic Argument
•The Pesticide Argument
•The Ethical Argument
•The Survival Argument

Which begs the question, where is the evolutionary argument?  Epic fail.

Friday, 14 October 2011

"worthless, regurgitated, patronising rubbish"

Jamie Oliver has waded in to the argument about the governments current program for action on obesity, which resolves to:
  • "Reducing the number of calories we consume is essential. It can happen if we continue action to reduce calories in everyday foods and drinks, and if all of us who are overweight take simple steps to reduce our calorie intake."
Oliver called this approach "worthless, regurgitated, patronising rubbish".  Good man Jamie.

There are a few questions to ask of those in government who keep pushing the idea to 'eat less and do more':
  1. What is the purpose of hunger?  What is its evolutionary context?
  2. What should signal to us that we are 'full'?
  3. If the obese are guilty of 'mindless eating' - ie eating when not hungry, why do we pursue food rather than drink, or read ,or partake in some other activity like simply watch TV to alleviate the boredom? 
  4. Why don't the obese stop eating until they are lean once again?  I mean it is not as if the obese have a lack of energy (albeit in stored form) so why can't they go further between refuelling?
  5. If 'eating less' is the answer why not simply 'do more'?
  6. If you wanted to compel yourself to eat more than usual (perhaps in the context of a celebratory meal), would you recommend we 'do more' activity in the preceding period to 'work up an appetite'?
  7. If you wanted to compel yourself to eat more than usual (perhaps in the context of a celebratory meal), would you recommend we 'eat less' in the preceding period to 'ensure we don't blunt our appetite'?
When I need to drink I trust my thirst to tell me, when I need to sleep, I trust my sense of fatigue, and when I need to eat, I trust my sense of hunger. I am lean (190cm, 84kg and 30 inch waist). I don't have to count calories nor restrict intake, and I eat a large amount of food (cuts of lamb that are badged up 'feeds 4-5').

Could it be that I rarely eat food that, from raw, could not be prepared over a campfire with little more than a knife and a pan?

You could frame mineral and vitamin deficiencies in the same manner.  Where do pill-pushers think we evolved a dependency on vitamins and minerals and where do they think we used to get them from?  If you are short of particular vitamins and minerals you are NOT eating the 'right' foods (or in the case of vitamin D, not getting out in to sunshine sufficiently often).  It is NOT the case that you are not eating enough vitamin pills!

Bits and Blogs

Check out Stefanie Seneff's website.  She is a Senior Research Scientist in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT and has recently turned her attention to the relationship between nutrition and health and has authored two publications in 2011 in medical journals, relating to excess carbohydrate consumption with adverse health outcome.

In addition she has penned a few articles, of which my choice is "The Obesity Epidemic: is the Metabolic Syndrome a Nutritional Deficiency Disease?".

Secondly, Escape the Herd has brought to my attention a five part series investigating the benefits or otherwise of a Caveman Diet.  At the very least this will explain why I have holes in the foot well of my car.  Yabba dabba doo.

*More Bits and Blogs

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Epic Fail

There is nothing like flogging a dead horse.  You can flog the horse harder, kick the horse, change the whip and even get off the horse and give it a push, but if the horse is dead....

"'Eat less, exercise more', says government on obesity**":
  • People need to be more honest about how much they eat and drink if obesity levels are to be reduced, ministers say. The government's obesity strategy said on average adults are exceeding their calorie intake by 10%. Ministers said it was up to individuals to make sure they consume less and exercise more. They ruled out using legislation such as introducing a fat tax to change behaviour.
Thank god for that last sentence.

For anyone interested in getting lean, forget volumes of food, think quality of food*.  Eat close to the ground.  Fast once in a while.  Don't force exercise -  but DO self locomote, a lot. 

A healthy body autoregulates bodyfat and will adjust intake/output accordingly - but some physical activity is an important signal to the body.

*This can depend on how damaged your body is!

**Update:  This article has been renamed since I originally linked to it.  It is now titled 'Public 'need to be more honest about eating habits'.

Human Body Subway Map

Check out this subway map of the human body from CoolInfographics (created by the talented Sam Loman):

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

We Want Real Food

Graham Harvey's We Want Real Food, whilst perhaps not as technical nor as comprehensive as Colin Tudge's So Shall We Reap, will quickly bring you up to speed on 'broken agriculture'.  (Ultimately Tudge proposes we move to what he calls 'enlightened agriculture' whilst Harvey wishes us to pursue something more traditional as prescribed in G Henderson's 'The Farming Ladder'.) 

WWRF ticks the usual boxes, flying the flag for locavorism, empowering the growers and moving away from commoditisation of food production.  In fact Harvey's pithiest line is his observation that rather than growing food, farmers now produce 'a raw material for an industrial manufacturing operation'.  Take a bow Mr Harvey!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Agree to Disagree

One for those currently confused by the whole reward/insulin axis of paleo evil!  Disagreement is a good thing:
  • When scientists wish to speak with one voice, they typically do so in a most unscientific way: the consensus report. The idea is to condense the knowledge of many experts into a single point of view that can settle disputes and aid policy-making. But the process of achieving such a consensus often acts against these goals, and can undermine the very authority it seeks to project.
It addresses the political end of scientific integrity very nicely,
  • The very idea that science best expresses its authority through consensus statements is at odds with a vibrant scientific enterprise. Consensus is for textbooks; real science depends for its progress on continual challenges to the current state of always-imperfect knowledge. Science would provide better value to politics if it articulated the broadest set of plausible interpretations, options and perspectives, imagined by the best experts, rather than forcing convergence to an allegedly unified voice.
It would be nice to see a similar article on the importance of transparency in trials/experiments, and on the (often) malign influence of business interests in research (and funding).

Read more of Daniel Sarowitz article here.

Volume Week 5 W/O2

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (40 minutes).
1a. Deadlift (3x140kg, 4x130kg)
1b. OACs (3x50kg, 4x45kg, 2-arm 10xBW)
2. HSPU (assisted 10, 10, 10, short rests)
3. Wall Walk (2, 2)
4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (10)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Volume Week 5 W/O1

We've just had a bit of an Indian summer here in the UK.  Family Asclepius headed off to the local river for a swim.  It is crazy to think that wild swimming in October should be as hot as wild swimming in April - both of which were hotter than any UK-based wild swimming I did over summer!

The photo above of Captain Kid and I, and the one in the link, were taken at the same venue from pretty much the same position.  The foliage behind pretty much tells its own story - along with the detritus washed down to the damn in the April-shot.

Warm Up (5 minutes)
Main (40 minutes).
1. Stairgators (1)
2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
3a. MU to Ring Routine (4, 4, 4)
3b. Pistols (assisted: 10, 10, 10)
4a. Scissor Splits (2L, 2R, 3C)
4b. Planche Variations (20s, 25s, 20s)
4c. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (10)
5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
6. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Denmark's Fat Tax

If a picture can paint a thousand lies then this Getty image above certainly fuels the fabrication, pushing as it does, the common misconception that saturated fat is bad for us.