Sunday, March 31, 2013

Some thoughts on Paleo FX 2013

My wife Jamie and I rolled into Austin last Wednesday and, for the next few days, ate colossal quantities of amazing food -- mostly Mexican and BBQ, but with detours for burgers and French(!) cooking as well -- and went to a wonderful, well-organized conference called Paleo FX.

It was my first time in Austin, somehow, and so I came armed with food recommendations from friends -- so many that if we hit them all, it would have taken us months. The only other thing on my agenda besides deliciousness (and a nice vacation with Jamie) was learning something. See, I don't do anything *professionally* in the field of ancestral health and fitness. Don't get me wrong... I love the subject, and it has changed my life, but I don't make my living that way. So, I didn't go to the conference with the overriding goal of "networking." I met some great folks while here, but I didn't make the whole socializing/networking thing my main priority. Instead, I was mostly just here to learn. So, rather than approach this wrapup any other way, I am just going to highlight some of the very smart things that I heard very smart people say. Let's go....(By the way, I took absolutely zero notes so this is all from memory. When I use quotation marks, it is because I recall that phrase as a direct quote. Otherwise, I am paraphrasing).

Nora Gedgaudas: "Be a primal warrior." No one, particularly modern medicine, is going to save you in most instances. Take care of every single thing that you have control over. And, no surprise, that mostly means managing stress, getting good sleep, managing blood sugar and diet, and getting in quality exercise.

Dr. Cate Shanahan: Carbs should not be the primary fuel for athletes. Good fats should do that job, and will do it so much more efficiently. And more and more athletes are coming around to that point of view.

Sarah Fragoso: "Put on your own oxygen mask first." Don't try to change your family's eating habits before (or even simultaneously with) your own. Get your own life, diet and exercise in order and then work on your family's needs. And then continue to make time to tend to your own needs in that regard or else you will burn out before you can ever help them.

Chris Kresser: LDL particle number, not size, is the most important blood marker with relation to LDL cholesterol. And it can be tough getting your doc to focus on that, or even order the test for it. Others on the bloodwork panel -- Dr. Amy Myers and Dr. Lane Sebring also made it clear that there are a battery of tests that could be helpful, and almost none are ordered regularly. It made me seriously consider seeking out a primal/paleo doc for bloodwork. Until now I had always figured that if I got a questionable number, I would then follow up with a paleo doc, but now I am wondering if the tests my regular doc runs are even the right ones.

Sarah Fragoso (again): "When people ask me how I eat, I tell them that I eat whatever I want to." And then she made it clear that she usually eats the right paleo food, but, when she doesn't, it is a conscious, mindful choice and she enjoys it for what it is.

Dr. Emily Deans: "Everyone falls off the wagon sometimes." It's no big deal. Enjoy it. Get right back on. She and Dr. Jacob Egbert did a great panel together focusing first on how difficult dietary issues often involve psychiatric/psychological considerations similar to those that occur with addiction (Deans), as well as on the power of a holistic approach to diet and health that, ideally, treats the client on all levels -- medical, dietary, exercise-related, mobility-related, everything.... (Egbert)

Robb Wolf: If we could only change the farm-subsidy culture in this country, we could put farmers on the same competitive level, and suddenly grain-fed meat would have to compete with grassfed on more equal terms.

Dr. Lauren Noel: If you suffer from herpes infections, cut out coconut in all forms and take lysine. Coconut is high in arginine, which is linked to recurring herpes outbreaks.

Dr. Lane Sebring: "Most patients who come to me don't need my services for very long." That's how powerful an ancestral approach to medicine is. More reason to consult that paleo/primal doc in your area? I think so.

Robb Wolf (over and over to great effect): All of this stuff is linked, and by "stuff," he means politics and food policy and medical policy. As long as the economic incentive is there to pour meds down the gullets of the citizenry instead of focusing on diet and exercise, the problems will never be fixed. Likewise, if the medical thinking can change -- and he is trying to change it -- there is hope.

Robb Wolf (again): Programs that focus on groups, like the first responders that he is working with in Reno, have huge potential to influence the medical community on the power of ancestral diet and exercise.

Robb Wolf (yet again): "This may not be a popular point of view" ("Oh boy," I thought), but.... The Weston A. Price Foundation does good work, but they have had a really long time to influence the direction of the conversation, and, by and large, the paleo movement is doing a better job much faster. Moreover, while sprouting grains may make them less harmful for some, the majority of folks would be healthier simply by avoiding grains altogether.

James Fitzgerald, aka "OPT," in what was probably my favorite presentation of the conference: Know what your goals are. First of all, almost any exercise program is going to help the former non-exerciser make huge gains at first. But when that person hits the intermediate level, problems can arise if the person's goals -- which more often than not are related to health and longevity, not, say, making the CrossFit Games -- are not properly addressed by the person's training. Too many athletes, particularly CrossFitters, are doing extreme anaerobic metcon work too often, and it is destroying them. "Understand what you are buying into if you come to me and say that you want to be an elite-level athlete. There is a cost, often a big cost, in terms of health and longevity." Genius. Pure effing genius. Listen up, folks. If you are in this game to live long and healthy, lift big and do some aerobic work. Sure, every now and then -- maybe three times a year -- cycle in just a few anaerobic meltdown sessions, just to go near that zone, often more for "spiritual" than physical reasons. But don't train like a competitive CrossFitter unless you are one.

James Fitzgerald (again) and others: Heartrate variability is an important factor to consider in assessing both overall health *and* the appropriate training to undertake that day, or week. If you start the day stressed and whacked-out, it quite possibly is not the day to go all-out in your training. Likewise, the mental/spiritual/mindfulness approach to reducing stress is critical to health and longevity, as well as to athletic performance.

Dr. Paul Jaminet, Dr. Lauren Noel, Dr. Cate Shanahan and Dr. Terry Wahls: Eat your vegetables!!!! Too many paleo folks think this is a "meatitarian" diet. A high volume of quality, preferably organic, plant matter should be in every single meal. Yes, that includes breakfast.

And finally, Hamilton Stapell: I hate to break it to you, but paleo is not going to become the dominant lifestyle in this country. But that is okay. We can still make giant strides forward and help a lot of people.

It was all very inspiring. Sometimes it was educational. Sometimes it was just nice to hear a really smart person reaffirm a point that I have held near and dear for a while. I left the Paleo FX conference with my commitment to this lifestyle firmly in place, my hunger even greater for more and more information on, well, everything paleo/primal, and, yeah, my belly full of some amazing Austin food. Austin, I'll be back again. Paleo, I am in this for the long haul. Let's do this.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I am feeling fairly inspired today because I stumbled across this article that really lit my fire. It's fucking fantastic, and you should read it (although, truth be told, I will dissent from suggestion #4 because I don't like my food predigested, but whatever.... Read it).

And it got me thinking.

A bunch of us live in this sort of intense CrossFit world, and occasionally I question just what the hell some of us are doing. And that often includes me; although I am really (really!) trying to do better on this topic....

"What topic would that be?" you ask.... That would be the one called "perspective," or, alternatively, "knowing your limits." See, there are a lot of really good reasons to do CrossFit. It is, for my money, one of the most brutally efficient ways to up your fitness. Three or so days a week of this stuff, and the average person (who was plodding through the treadmill and the stair climber and maybe some weight machines at the old globo gym) is headed for (relatively speaking, anyway) beastmode. And maybe the most surprising thing of all is that you seem to spending, overall, *less* time at the gym than you ever did before.

But that's exactly where it gets dicey for some of us. And, once again, I include me, just so you don't think I am preaching down here.

You have been doing CrossFit for a few months, and things are good. Your jeans are so damn loose that you donate the old ones in the charity box down the road and you hit your store of choice for smaller ones. Your appetite is up, and yet your body looks better than it has in years. And you can lift weight that you never imagined lifting and power through workouts that smoked the life out of you just a few months ago. You're kind of riding the awesome train and digging it.

And then you get injured.

And when you look back, you think that, maybe, just maybe, you were pushing too hard that day. Maybe it was hitting the gym on too little sleep, or after a day of shitty food, or with insufficient rest days, or maybe it was just going balls to the wall like you were going to get to the CrossFit Games if only you can get in one more rep....

I guess that's where the perspective thing comes in: in all likelihood, you aren't going to make the CrossFit Games. And, really, you need to be good with that.

It's totally cool to compete with yourself. It's totally cool to compete with your friends. And it's even totally cool to try and make the CrossFit Games. But a little bit of honesty with yourself is going to help too.

There are about 1000 levels between my fitness and the level of fitness needed to make the CrossFit Games. And after wrenching more than a few body parts over the last few years trying to do things that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't ready to do, I try to keep that perspective in mind.

So the mantra goes like this: go hard; have fun. But know your limits and remember why you're doing all this. It's not to end up in surgery. It's to feel really fucking good.

Now go feel really fucking good.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Truth hits everybody.

I think it was today's food intake that finally made me realize it, in all its shameless glory....

I woke up, and, in keeping with my recent penchant for the delayed-breakfast thing, all I consumed for the first four hours that I was awake was a mug of coffee, into which I dropped about two tablespoons of coconut oil and a tablespoon of unsalted grassfed butter. It looked like... well, honestly it looked like something you'd see floating in a poorly-maintained train-station toilet. Fortunately, its flavor was nothing like its appearance. It was delicious. It kept me full and cruising along happily caffeinated for hours.

Oh, and I also washed down a pill that had fermented cod-liver oil and butter oil in it, along with three other pills that had enough magnesium in them to send the average person into that train-station toilet for extreme emergency evacuation measures.

Then, when I finally ate something, about 11 a.m., it was a colossal bowl containing the following, all mixed together:

--four hardboiled eggs
--one avocado
--four strips of thick-cut bacon
--chopped-up pickles
---a can of smoked Portuguese sardines in cayenne-pepper olive oil
--a lot of greens

Much like the bulletproof coffee, it was glorious. I was stuffed.

The kitchen stank like a lovely melange of oily fish, pickles and cayenne.

I was so full that I never quite got around to having lunch. When I finally got a little hungry at 4 p.m., there I was in the kitchen eating bacon-encrusted liver pâté from this recipe. And I wasn't having it *with* anything, mind you; I was eating it with a spoon, like it was chocolate pudding. And by the nomnomnom noises I was making, you'd swear it really *was* chocolate pudding. Oh, and, because we are going to be out late tonight, I was having it with another mug of coffee, adorned, just like its cousin this morning, in butter and coconut oil.

And it was, at the very moment that I washed down the last bite of liver pâté with the last slug of oil-slick coffee, and considered, in detail, exactly what my paleo/primal existence had led me to consume today, when the thought hit me, clearer than ever:

My god, I am a fucking weirdo about food.

In a pan, cooking right now, are twelve burgers. No, my wife and I are not going to eat 12 burgers for dinner. But we will probably each eat four, along with a lot of vegetables, and save the rest for tomorrow. And there won't be a shred of bread or buns near those burgers. And then we'll go see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (hopefully) tear shit up at the Keswick Theater, and I guess maybe the Nick Cave part of the equation makes me realize something else: we listen to out-of-the-mainstream musicians, we read out-of-the-mainstream authors, we watch offbeat movies. How the hell did we ever make it even as far as we did eating mainstream food?

Well, at least we finally got the food angle in line with the rest of our habits. And I am so glad we did.

Paleo: it fits our weird life really well.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

The updated "everything post"

I noticed recently, when checking out the stats from this blog, that, for whatever reason, more readers than usual have been checking out my so-called "everything post" from last July -- the one where I laid out every last little detail of my day-to-day food, etc. routine. Then I went back, for kicks, and read that post and I realized that a fair amount of stuff had changed.

Not that I am actually handing out life advice here; I am just telling you what *I* do, and you can figure out what works for you. But I hate to leave that old post up without an update, because, like I said, some things have changed. So.... read that one if you need to, because I am not going to bore you by re-explaining what *all* this stuff is about, and then come back here for the update, which goes like this:


-- I am still taking Green Pastures fermented-cod-liver/butter oil blend. Vitamins A, E and K2 in a great balance? Yes, please. But, full disclosure: I use the pills, not the gel. I will not ingest rotting-fish gel in *any* flavor, and I don't care how much you or a smart cave girl might tell me that the Cinnamon Tingle flavor is delicious. <Shudder> Pill. Not gel. Understood?

-- I have upped my magnesium-citrate intake to 1200 mg/day. Remember to go slow with the magnesium, kids, or you'll be, er, setting up shop on the crapper for a while. But if you start slow and get the dosage right, it really helps sleep and everything else. I still take a One-a-Day multi-vitamin, but, no,  I still don't really know why.

-- If things get all whackadoodle and stressed -- work, life, whatever -- I will also start taking a B-complex pill once every couple days. But I try to make sure it isn't a crazy-high dosage, and I also only use it here and there, not every day.

-- Serrapeptase? I quit taking it, and I haven't felt a shred of a wisp of a difference. L-glutamine? Yeah, I am still taking that for gut healing/integrity, and I will continue to do so. And that's it for supplementation.


--Almost everything from that last post still holds true in the food department in terms of *what* I eat. . Grassfed beef and lamb is our main source of animal protein. Eggs every day. Veggies at every meal. Some "nasty stuff" (e.g., liver pate, sardines, organs) on a pretty regular basis. It's all going well, and *just* about the same (although see below regarding fruit and nuts). Never a shred of gluten.

--But the *way* I eat is a bit different. I love love love the delayed-breakfast thing that I started a few weeks back. A typical day is just coffee with coconut oil and unsalted grassfed butter until later in the morning when I eat a real breakfast.

-- I also love the ketogenic state that the delayed-breakfast routine keeps me in for much of the day. Partitioning my carbs into the post-5-pm window, after working out in the late afternoon, has been really really good to me. I get a load of work done. My energy is high. It's awesome. And it fuels my body well post-workout.

--I am not *quite* as in love with full-on post-workout carb-backloading. Emphasis on "full-on." As I said, I like partitioning my carbs into that late-afternoon/early-evening post-workout window, and that is a large part of backloading. That has been good. But when I really make a spectacle out of myself -- stuffing in carbs like there's no tomorrow, sometimes including some Ben & Jerry's in there --  I gotta say, I think I am fucking with my insulin regulation in a bad/not-so-great way. If I do that full-on crazy backload, I get a touch of Raynaud's numbness in my fingers and generally don't feel as good the next day as if I just partition a (still pretty) sizable portion of good carbs into that window, but don't act like I just got out of prison. In other words, sweet potatoes, white rice and ripe bananas? Sure. Ben & Jerry's in the protein shake, or maybe in a bowl the size of Texas? Not so much.

-- I also have cut back a lot on nuts, hardly eating them at all anymore, and I also don't have fruit and coconut milk on anything near the regular basis that I did before. The reason? Nuts are not really my friend when it comes to digestion, and if I eat too much fruit/coconut milk it's almost like I had too much ice cream. Insulin management isn't *everything*, but it sure is a big piece of the puzzle, and it is different for everyone.

--Snacks? Don't really happen. I usually eat enough at meals to stay full.

--Coffee? You may recall the vaunted caffeine experiment. That lasted a few weeks and I liked it okay, but I really do better with one cup in the morning. So I have my one cup and try to not let it get out of hand. So far this approach/self-discipline is working well, but, caffeine being a wily, addictive drug, I am aware that it could get crazy at any point.


-- CrossFit 3x/week is still doing it for me. I still sometimes throw in another day of just lifting, and I also will just flat-out walk away from an overly-long metcon session. Heavy lifting and 12-minutes-or-fewer metcons float my boat. Stress, cortisol and over-long metcons do not. I am not trying to make the CrossFit Games. I just want to enjoy the ride.

--I am pretty much of a one-trick pony when it comes to stress management. Meditation. Do it, or don't, but I love it and don't know where my head would be without it. So I do it. Every day.

--Sleep is better when I meditate, and even better than that if I can just get eight glorious hours. I wrote in the older post that I always wanted to get seven hours of sleep. I find that life is just a giant fucking bowl of chocolates with eight. And chocolate (dark, please; really really dark) is a good thing. A giant fucking bowl of it is even better.

That's all I got, folks. Again, that's my recipe for now. Find your own way, as always.

I still take  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Free your mind and your WOD will follow

Last year, I told you all about the inspirational tales in Allison Belger's book, The Power of Community -- CrossFit and the Force of Human Connection.

One of the reasons that book works *so* well is that its author is a psychologist *and* a CrossFit gym owner *and* a CrossFit Masters athlete. When she waxes poetic about the "agony coupled with laughter" that brings people together in a CrossFit gym, Dr. Belger speaks from experience. So I kind of made a mental note at the time. It went something like: "Allison Belger... really smart person worth paying attention to."

Which brings us to her next act:

Let's see... sounds like psychology and CrossFit (for you non-CFers, WOD means "workout of the day"). Once again, the doc is working right in her wheelhouse.

The inspiration for the site came in part from Kelly Starrett's successful exercise/mobility site called There, Starrett gets deeper into issues of stretching, mobility and general athletic preparedness than you may have ever thought possible.

And maybe it's not as obvious as issues of mobility, but just like you can't fix bad nutrition or stress or a lack of mobility simply by piling on the exercise, if your head isn't in the right place, your exercise routine -- whether that's just a regular appearance at the local CrossFit box, a legitimate shot at qualifying for the CrossFit Games or something in between -- isn't going to get you your intended results.

Enter to get you through all that.

See, the big secret is that we *all* have that inner voice of negativity. Yours may be triggered by a particular metcon or movement or lift, or maybe the whole damn CF experience has you beating yourself up mentally. The goal of is to address all the angles of those issues, in the kind of detail that Kelly Starrett does when he talks about mobility.

The site is really new, so there are only a few posts up so far, but they are great. The first few, predictably I guess, address specific competition- and training-related issues of how you handle mid-workout stress, whether you regard competition as a stressor or a challenge and, yes, even that "inner voice" and how you can change it. But then the latest one goes for a broader theme: fixing your head in all aspects of your life that challenge you. Yeah, it's ostensibly about a box jump, but by the end your starting to think the good doc has a chance at adding "Zen master" to her resume.

And if you know about my natural affinity for that sort of thing, you'll know that this means I'll be stopping by PsychologyWOD a lot.

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Monday, March 11, 2013


Jenny LaBaw is a NorCal-region CrossFit athlete. She broke her foot last Tuesday in a bike accident. This week's CrossFit Open workout was 17 minutes of burpees and snatches.

Jenny LaBaw did that workout on one leg.

On one leg. Yes, really.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: Wussy at the North Star Bar in Philly

You may recall that last month I posted this absurdly gushingly fannish article about my current favorite American band (and yes, I feel compelled to remind you each time that I really hate their name, but whatever....).

And I mentioned in that piece that I hadn't seen them live in a few years. Well, consider this your update on their live prowess....

If you have any interest in harmony-filled indie rock that drones, twangs, rises, falls, smokes and seethes like some sort of unholy/gorgeous melding of X, Shoot Out the Lights-era Richard and Linda Thompson, the Velvet Underground, Pixies and Eleventh Dream Day, for the love of fuck, go see Wussy.

They are hundreds of miles past their 2005 beginnings. As I told you in that other article, they were great way back then, but the bottom end of the 2005 live show was, as the Brits say, a little dodgy. So, maybe "great" is actually pushing it a little as a description of those days. How about: the albums were (and continue to be) essentially perfect, but they were just a competent live band. Then, as I also told you before, drummer Joe Klug joined in 2009 or so, and everything got much much better. A gig in Philly at the Fire in 2010 showcased just how far they had advanced in a very short time.

Jump forward to 2013. I saw Wussy at the North Star Bar in Philly on Friday night. Despite being plagued by a nearly atrocious sound mix for the first five songs or so (what the hell, Mr. Soundman? But at least you fixed it), they were wonderful. And they have, in the ensuing three years since I last saw them, done perfect little (or, in some case, not-so-little) tweaks to song arrangements that really play to their strengths.

I am completely stealing from a line of Joe Carducci's when I tell you that the single most underrated factor in rock and roll is the kick/snare pattern and the resulting relationship between the drums and bass. Do they lock down with one another and drive the bus, or is all that kind of questionable? Double-special points are awarded to bands that not only figure that one out, but add some slashing and rising and falling guitar parts.

Wussy has nailed all that stuff perfectly. On Friday night the drums and bass were locked in and the guitars (electric *and* pedal steel) crashed and burned all around them in the most beautiful ways. The vocal harmonies did their perfect John/Exene/Neil Young/Robin Lane beautiful/edgy sweet/fuck-you blend. And it *all* -- yes, every single song** -- was nearly perfect, but there was one particular, even-better-than-the-rest part: a gorgeous, instrumental intro to Yellow Cotton Dress that stole the show, alternating between a frantic Velvets-y/Eleventh Dream Day-ish rumble and something a little more ethereal that made me wonder if they were headed for Sister Ray or Love Will Tear Us Apart. Either of those destinations would have been just fine, and the actual result was, yeah, even better. And then the encore -- I don't think it's possible to juxtapose two very different songs that showcase all the strengths of this band better than Don't Leave Just Now and Rigor Mortis. The first one nearly makes me cry when I hear it because I happen to associate it with something sad and beautiful in my life from a few years ago, and the latter rips like Crazy Horse on a tequila and caffeine bender. Wistful followed by Fuck Yeah. Yes, please....

The bottom line: Wussy is killing it live, and not nearly enough of you are going to see them when they do. Can we all get on with fixing that, please?


** Two things: One: there was one song that Chuck declared "a mess." OK, but it was a beautiful mess. Two, a small digression: like any good dorky fanboy, I leapt on the opportunity, when invited by the band on social media, to suggest songs for the Philly setlist. Like any good band that knows better than its fans, Wussy did not play a single song that night that I had suggested. The fact that they blew my mind *anyway* is maybe the best testament of all to the undying strength of their catalogue, across the board. As some guy named Christgau noted, there really isn't a subpar song on any of their five albums. (But, oh-fave-band-of-mine, if you happen to be reading this, just as a reminder for the next Philly show (or maybe Newark, DE on April 27 ... Still haven't figured out if I will be at that one), it'd be pretty awesome to hear Little Miami, Retarded, Melody Ranch, Sun Giant and Waiting Room. Y'know, just sayin'.... Heh).

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

She makes a really good point; don't get too clever with paleo before you can handle it

I generally try not to use this blog as a platform to simply repost something that someone else wrote, and chime in just with: "What (s)he said!" But there are occasional exceptions.

Amy Kubal, one of the talented, smart people over at Robb Wolf's site made a really good point recently, and, because Amy's piece addresses subjects that I have written recently about, skipping breakfast and carb backloading, I thought I would, for a moment, play Flavor Flav to her Chuck D.

(By the way, I found Amy's article via this edition of The Paleo Rodeo at Diana Hsieh's wonderful site, Modern Paleo: the blog. You might want to go there too and find paleo articles and sites that you might not otherwise have explored or known about.)

See, sometimes, we paleo/primal folks who have been doing this thing for a little while get in pretty deep. And that's cool. If you have dialed in your paleo-osity to a degree that it's all humming along really well, and there's just this little tweak that you want to play with, then, yeah, *that* is when you take a shot at things like delayed-breakfast strategies fueled by bulletproof coffee, or carb backloading to make your already pretty bodacious self just a little more badass.

But, on the other hand, if you are a newbie to paleo, as Amy points out, don't get distracted by my (and others') hyperspecific nonsense when it comes to specialty tweaks to the paleo routine. Lock it all down with the basics, for a good long while (she suggests at least a year, and that sounds right to me), and get your inner metabolic and digestive engine running at an efficiency and a beauty that you have never seen before. *Then*, if it's all working great, feel free to tweak away, dude.

So, anyway, I wholeheartedly say, "What she said!" to Amy Kubal's article. It is full of great points -- well, at least until she endorsed a Van Hagar song. I can't get behind that at all.... If I am going to leave my obscure/punk/indie music world for some Van Halen (and we all need "Panama" every now and then; let's admit that much) I want my VH to be as over the top and ridiculous as possible, and you can *only* get that with David Lee Roth.

"I used to jog, but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass."
--David Lee Roth

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hells yeah, CrossFit

Here's a cool video comp from our CrossFit gym of things we did in February 2013. That's me making an appearance at 2:00 (hang split snatch), 2:48 (deadlift) and 8:38 (KB swing).

How to start eating paleo

Maybe you just joined a CrossFit gym and some trainers there started asking you what/how you eat. Or maybe you have a friend who has seen amazing results -- triglycerides plunging, proper insulin management restored, body fat reduced and weight lost -- by eating only real food. Or maybe you just read the near-daily barrage of articles that seem to mention it, amidst some crap about cavemen. But, one way or another, you are -- to quote George Clinton -- "standing on the verge of getting it on," with "it" being (dramatic capital letters, and drum roll please...) THE PALEO DIET.

So how are you going to make this work?

Something to consider: any substantial dietary change can be tough. Try, for instance, dumping a multi-cup caffeine habit cold turkey. Owie. Double owie. You don't want to do that (think: crushing headaches of doom, like your grandma would feel in the front row of a Slayer concert). You would want to make that change *gradually*.

I think that for all but the most hardcore tough guys (and gals), the same holds true of starting paleo. No, I don't want to turn this into a yearlong project. It's your life and health that are at stake, so I want to see you make progress quickly, but I also want to see you *succeed*. And a successful transition from pre-packaged crapola into paleo can be a little jarring to the average person's psyche. You *could* dive right in and attempt to follow *all* the rules of paleo right off the bat, and if you can do that, have at it, Super(wo)man. But most people aren't quite that tough.

So what's the plan to make this transition a little smoother? I have two basic steps for you.

(Let me digress for just a second to say that the intent of this article is not to teach you what paleo is. I assume you know that already. If you don't, go here or here to get the basics from people much smarter than me about all this.)

First step: stop thinking about this change upon which you about to embark as a "diet." Diets are dumb. Diets are double-dumb. They are intentionally designed to put your system through the wringer for a short period of time, often achieving some weight-loss or body-comp results, and then (big effing surprise) losing all those good results as soon as the "diet" is completed. Is anyone shocked when people lose weight doing some sort of 500-cal-per-day minimalist diet? There are North Korean prisons that will do that for you too, but neither Kim Jong-un nor the people who put together those kinds of diet plans are worried about the sustainability of that "diet" over the long run. They are both trying to starve you.

But you *are* concerned about sustainability, or you should be. In fact, sustaining a "way of eating" -- note: not a "diet" -- is the most important goal.

If you are embarking on a paleo lifestyle, it isn't intended to be a "dip your toe in the water to see how it feels" change. Sure, I suppose it's possible that you won't love all the delicious food and the wonderful results you get, and decide to go back to Twinkies, Fritos, beer -- oh, and belly fat and manboobs too -- but otherwise this is it, dude. You are either on the bus or off it, and, right now, you are trying to figure how how to get on, and, even more importantly, how to stay on.

So stop calling it a "diet."

Second step ( and this is the big one): stop eating grains. All grains.

If you are not willing to do this, go back to the Twinkies/Fritos/beer routine and embrace your burgeoning (or present) manboobs and/or belly fat. Paleo isn't going to happen for you.

I didn't say this would be "easy." I am just trying to make it "easier" than a full-on head-first dive.

So, yeah, ultimately your goal is to comply with *all* the rules of paleo. No grains, legumes, dairy, etc. but to start: just kill the grains.

I repeat: to start, just kill the grains.

Trust me... As a guy who ate two sandwiches for lunch, plus what can only be described as a "metric shit ton" of pasta and pizza, for about 40 years of his life, this one thing is a giant -- make that "super-enormo-giant" -- step.

In fact, beyond easing you into paleo, just focusing on eliminating grains (*all* grains!) has another benefit: it teaches you that you are one tough, righteous mofo, because, really, if you can eliminate all grains successfully, you can likely (but eventually, not right now) ditch all the other bad stuff with ease. "God, I really miss my canola oil," said no paleo person ever. It's the elimination of grain that is going to be the Big Step for most people on this journey.

So, isolate that Big Step. Don't (unless you are the Henry Rollins of food) try to get all badass and dive into paleo in one dramatic move. Ditch the grains, and *then* do the rest.

"What's a grain?" you ask. Easy. Here is a simple list of the grainy stuff you are no longer consuming in a strict paleo lifestyle when you are trying to accomplish all the great changes of that lifestyle:

Chips, even "multigrain healthy" chips/pretzels/cookies/etc.
Rice (although, and I shouldn't tell you this now, you *may* very well ultimately be able to eat white rice a while from now once your body comp is where you want it to be).

Considering that I just named the eight essential food groups of a standard American diet (SAD), you may finally understand that, while I am trying to help you out by suggesting you take this one step first, this is a really huge step.

That's all I have for you. Again, you can try to go full-on paleo in one shot. It is possible to do, but I think your chances of actually sustaining this way of eating over the long haul are so much better if you ditch the grains first. It is the biggest step. It is also the one that leads to the biggest results. Then you can start doing things like this and this.

Good luck. Some pretty amazing changes are around the corner if you do this right.

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