I did a deloading workout this afternoon, meaning it was rather lightweight and I did ten reps of each exercise three times. I guess you could call my strength program a modified “Wendler 5-3-1.” I’ll elaborate in subsequent posts.
Here is the workout:
[Weight x Reps | Time of Day]
20 minutes total
I haven't eaten today, but had 4 shots of espresso and a sip of purple wraath + creatine after my workout (about 1 oz). I’m thinking of eliminating the Wraath, which is more or less branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) with artificial sweeteners (which I tend to shun), however Martin Berkhan at Leangains recommends it as a supplement (at least the BCAAs) for people like me who tend to incorporate fasted workouts along with intermittent fasting, which I employ.
Since I see myself sticking to a long-term lifestyle of eating foods we evolved to eat - at least 90% of the time or so, I'm going to eliminate supplements altogether if I can. I look at supplements more like 'replacements': foods, nutrients, etc. that should be in the foods we eat and/or in our environment the same way it would be for our hunting and gathering ancestors, but are missing one way or another. I definitely lack the exposure to sunlight that our ancestors got, and subsequently the vitamin D involved in the process. I've been sporadically taking a vitamin D supplement, but have switched over to tanning which includes UVB, helping to create vitamin D in the body.
I'm thinking of mixing in a meal worthy of a competitive eating sanctioned event - and a night of libations once a week or so. Have I unlocked the 'secret?'. Hell no. Would eliminating a Neolithic meal of mammoth portions and nights of 'binge' drinking be a better diet on paper? Channeling my inner Ace Ventura: ‘Gee let me think...umm, sure. Do I come off as a blow hard by creating a self q & a session? You bet.
But not so fast, health Nazis. Should the pleasure derived from such gustatory and inhibition-lowering activities be so discounted? What about the social aspects of starting a group like the Eatcredibles? If I could be involved in a team photo as awesome as the one below, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Gotta pop that collar.
I'm competitive but also quite restrictive with my diet in term of the exclusion of most foods you see in the supermarket. I'm a border shopper, eating predominately animal and plant and mostly eschewing all else.
I'm also prone to food jags. I'll eat the same foods in virtual perpetuity for stretches of time. Apparently I have something in common with Oliver Sacks (a neuroscientist and prolific author) which I discovered when listening to Radiolab’s episode on Choice. What's interesting is that perhaps setting rules on what we eat and when we eat it might be more pleasurable or at least less harmful in the long run.
The episode showed how you’re plagued with the possibility that you didn’t do as well as you could have after making your selections at the grocery store, for example. If you had the choice of all the different pies in the bakery and you aren’t particularly enjoying the slice of blueberry you decided on, there’s the regret and remorse - and the sad fact is it’s most likely true you didn’t choose as well as you could have. That slice of apple pie warmed up with vanilla ice cream would have been far superior, which now seems obvious.
So one way to get rid of buyer’s remorse is to take the choice out of the equation. How does Sacks do it? He gets his housekeeper to do his weekly shopping:
“She will get half a gallon of soy milk, half a gallon of prune juice, she will make a gallon or so of orange jello, she will make a large bowl of taboulle, she will get six or seven tins of sardines... she will get seven apples and seven oranges...because I’m also and greedy and impulsive, therefore I have to have a rule that I am permitted to eat an apple a day and an [orange] a day.. If I had seventy apples, I would eat them all.”
He reportedly never gets bored of the same food and enjoys it “with equal relish every time.” I have the same experience.
He chooses not to choose, which probably improves his quality of life.
Embedded radiolab segment:
(Skip to 14 minutes for the Sacks clip, but the entire segment is recommended)
Another thing worth noting is that I'm writing this while on a recumbent bike traveling at the blistering pace of 12 mph at level 10 which mean I'll burn off a big Mac by the time there's peace in the Middle East.
Side note: Adam Carolla pointed this out to me (via Loveline, I believe) but it's always a joy to watch Saturday night live reruns, especially the news segments and see that Chevy Chase was talking about the same thing: trouble in the Middle East - now Seth Myers - and every cast in between. You could run a montage of "trouble in the Middle East" since the advent of media. So if there's always trouble in the middle east, why is it so newsworthy? Let us know when there isn't trouble in the middle east. Now THAT'S newsworthy.
Another rant I’ve heard Carolla go on as well was his solution to the problem. Move Israel to Mexico. On the face of it this is probably extremely offensive, but I like people who think outside the box and offer up solutions that may be unpopular, or even discriminatory, that aren’t just doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you watch the video above, it’s hard not to argue that the problem boils down to the surrounding states of Israel refusing to accept its existence and would like nothing more for them to leave. You have Israel who feel that they have every right to be there and have too much pride and Diaspora in their history to uproot their families and move to another place in which they may not be welcome. I do wonder though if you lived in a neighborhood where everyone wanted you out, they tried to run you off the road any chance they got and your children were in danger if you might consider moving. I think there’s a principle to be considered regarding leaving with your tail between your legs, but I also think relocating is one of the more evolved things you can do. You turn the other cheek. Instead of having to face grave danger, you could move your friends and family to a place that is much safer. I think I would consider it. But I also think the religious underpinnings is what also motivates behavior in the Middle East.
Back to the bike. I see I've burned a tic tac after that tangent. But I don't care about how many calories I'm burning on a treadmill and I don't think it plays a role in long-term weight loss.
In fact I think "weight loss" is kind of a misnomer. For most of us, we would admit that the weight we're trying to shed is weight that we have gained over a period of time. In this sense, weight loss is really a correction of a problem that got us to this point in the first place. Was it gluttony and sloth that got us there? Not exactly. We see the contestants on The Biggest Loser who have, in many cases, more than 200 pounds of weight to lose before they'll improve to the point where they will only be considered morbidly obese instead of the 'super' variety. They almost always admit to some form of gluttony and sloth that got them to the point of weighing in at 500+ lbs.
I would argue that the overeating and undermoving were compensatory effects of a deranged internal environment which is not something new. In 1940, Hugo Rony, an endocrinologist and director of of the Endocrinology Clinic at the Northwestern University Medical School, explained it this way:
“Positive caloric balance may be regarded as the cause of fatness when fatness is artificially produced in a normal person or animal by forced excessive feeding or forced rest, or both. But obesity ordinarily develops spontaneously; some intrinsic abnormality seems to induce the body to establish positive caloric balance leading to fat accumulation. Positive caloric balance would be, then, a result rather than a cause of the condition. That this is not merely playing with words is best demonstrated by the obese person who on a low calorie diet had lost his excess weight and then with continued restriction of food intake manages to keep himself at normal body weight. At this time he is in caloric equilibrium, and may appear normal in every respect. Nevertheless, he may still have the anomaly that had caused him to become obese as he may establish a positive caloric balance and rapidly deposit fat as soon as he allows himself to follow his spontaneous impulses of eating and activity. In spite of the fact that his caloric balance and body weight are actually normal, he must be regarded as an “obese” person for the same reason that a diabetic who is symptom-free on low-carbohydrate diet, is regarded as diabetic. It follows that the studies of the caloric equilibrium in obesity, valuable as they are for certain aspects of the problem, do not necessarily have a direct bearing on the basic pathogenesis of obesity (Obesity and Leanness, 1940).”
In Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes - spoiler alert! - explains why we get fat, although the true spoiler is that we get fat because of an intrinsic abnormality that causes us to eat more and move less (which is caused by eating too many carbohydrates; sugar and refined carbohydrates in particular or possibly exclusively).
And Taubes has often said we don't get fat because we eat more and move less, we eat more and move less because we're getting fat.
And while Taubes keeps his sights on why we get fat, it is logical to assume that if we correct the abnormality that made us fat, we will correct the issue of excessive adiposity.
In this twist of causality, take someone like Lance Armstrong...perhaps I need to update this (I was actually thinking of using Greg Lemond...and if I say Contador I imagine people will think I'm talking about a majestic bird) and go with Michael Phelps - who was exceedingly fit heading into the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing in which he snatched eight gold medals.
Most people would assume Phelps was and is really fit because he works out a lot, but if we use the same logic as our example of someone who eats more and moves less because they're getting fat, Phelps is actually more active than the average couch potato BECAUSE he is fit. Taubes wrote an article in NY Mag discussing this very issue.
In other words, someone like Kirstie Alley, who struggles with her weight, is physiologically a couch potato, where there's an "intrinsic abnormality" that is partitioning her energy to her fat tissue. Since more energy is trapped in the fat cells, Alley has less energy available in her circulation and to the other cells of her body. She is predisposed to eat more and move less, despite her best efforts to treat the problem by moving more and eating less, which probably feels like torture.
For Phelps, it's the opposite: he is predisposed to partition calories to the cells of his body and the fat tissue readily gives up its energy for fuel, and his "intrinsic abnormality" (although you could argue this used to be relatively normal in most people) is a favoring of burning fuel rather than storing it. He needs to work out. He is in a state that is essentially the antithesis of starvation, which, despite the visual paradox, Alley is suffering from internally.
So why the hell am I on a recumbent bike if I don't think it does a damn bit of difference for regulating my weight (which is in the neighborhood of 190 lbs and 12% body fat according to my tanita as of Monday)?
Because it feels good. Am I working out because I am fit? Maybe, but it improves my mood and falls in line with something I heard both Robert Lustig - of Sugar: The Bitter Truth fame - and Art De Vany - one of the founding fathers of the Paleo movement - note in terms of energy expenditure: The energy you spend is the pleasure you get from life. If you're restricting energy you're restricting the quality of your life.
The implications of this when tied into the reverse causality of obesity is that someone fit like Phelps, and someone fat like Kirstie Alley, may be predisposed to pleasure and pain, respectively. When the morbidly obese, or the average recreational gym-goer, get on the treadmill and report feeling good while exercising - and then will often say, while they dreaded going to gym, they almost always feel better afterward - perhaps the reason why they feel good is because they have increased their energy expenditure, they are more likely to partition their fuel to the muscle cells that demand it and they now have more energy circulating in the body. It sounds paradoxical, but anyone I know has reported at least once, that they had more energy after their workout. Perhaps they are feeling what it's like to be Michael Phelps, if only for a fleeting moment or two.
For many of us, we look for ways to increase our energy; probably the most common approach is dumping copious amounts of coffee down our gullets. We’re usually compensating for a lack of sleep, which is another big topic I hope to explore, but if you want to get started, check out Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by Wiley and Formby.
People who take cocaine report feeling great and having tons of energy where they think more clearly. The same goes for “neuroenhancers” (an illuminating article on the subject at The New Yorker), like adderall and ritalin.
All of this might suggest that the central part of peoples motivation is how much energy they have. And most energy, at least at rest and low levels of exertion come from liberated fatty acids. If we have more usage of our fat stores, we're actually more motivated to propel ourselves forward. The inverse is true as well. These are generally the obese, as excessive fat accumulation is basically proof that they have a hard time mobilizing their fuel, have less available for energy, and which possibly means they will have a relatively harder time with life, in general.
One other rule I have implemented recently is I can only check the social media sites while I'm moving, at a snail's pace (I really like Nassim Taleb's definition of a flaneur and the rationale for slow, but long walks, an excerpt from a fantastic book, The Black Swan (2nd Edition)). I find I can waste a monumental amount of time on the sites, which I think can be enjoyable and useful, but over-consumption can be self-destructive. The poison is the dose, which can probably be said for how the excessive accumulation of sugar and refined carbohydrates act on us. And if I find myself on the stationary bike for 6 hours a day, I'll know I have a problem...although Mr. Armstrong would argue otherwise: