Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lesson from the barbell, edition #257

Both yesterday and the day before, I had nearly the same conversation with a trainer at our CrossFit gym. Different trainer each day, but the same basic conversation. Monday's strength component of the workout was jerks; yesterday's was snatches.

Trainer: "That last [failed] rep looked like it hurt your [surgery] elbow."

Me: "That's because I am a fucking idiot. I *know* that all I have to do to catch this lift is man up, dive far enough under it, and it won't hurt. So what did I just do? Fail to dive far enough under it, and it hurt."

Trainer: "Hmmm, that seems like it has an obvious solution."

Me: "Yes."

I nailed all my remaining lifts.

And it really is that simple. I need to give 100% on each Olympic lift, do what I need to do (split low enough to catch it with the closest I can to full lockout on both arms) and, unless I am pushing my one-rep max -- which I also know I shouldn't be doing that often -- bask in the glory of pain-free success.

Or I can be a fucking idiot, and then it hurts.

And I got to thinking.... It's kind of like *everything* is that simple. Or most things, anyway.

You know what you need to do. So do it.

Maybe you are diabetic, overweight and looking at a shortened life of misery. So you can keep eating crap, sleeping like crap and living like crap. Or you can start going to bed an hour or two earlier, get more sleep, eliminate everything processed (hint: grains are processed) from your food, eat only real food, lift some heavy shit a few times a week and maybe take a walk most days. And feel awesome, and proud of yourself.

Or maybe you are in a hopeless relationship that you should have ended years ago.

Or maybe your _____ needs ______. Whatever it is, there is a pretty simple choice most times. You can clutter that choice with a lot of "buts," but in
the end, the lesson of the barbell translates over pretty seamlessly. There is very little that doesn't filter down pretty quickly to a simple drama-free choice of do it, or don't.

So get moving. Or don't. Your choice. But, depending on that choice, you may determine your happiness or your longevity, or, more likely, both.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

That ridiculous Scientific American piece on paleo eating

I *love* it when the person who doesn't agree with me explains to me all about those who *do* agree with me and why they have it all wrong. Invariably, when someone else tells you what you think about something or what you do with your life, instead of letting you explain it, especially when the goal is to criticize you, the result is sensationalized and inaccurate.

Which brings us to this.

It is a blog article, on the Scientific American site no less, about why the author believes paleo eaters have their collective carnivorous heads in their keesters because research has shown that, in fact, cavepeople ate a lot of vegetables.

I have so many negative reactions to this article that I can barely keep them organized, but let's try:

1. Who ever said cavemen didn't eat a lot of vegetables? No one as far as I can tell. Certainly no proponent of a paleo diet that I have ever run across. Moreover -- and more importantly for the purposes of anyone trying to manage one's own modern-day health, as opposed to just imitating cavepeople -- did those promoting a paleo diet say anything bad about eating vegetables in the here and now?

No, they didn't. The paleo diet is, in its most basic form, animal protein (and fat), vegetables and fruit. Yup, vegetables are on that list. In fact, I eat a hell of a lot of vegetables, at *every* meal. (Yes, I eat vegetables at breakfast). When I was nearly "vegetarian," 30-35 pounds heavier than I am now, with a fasting blood sugar of 97 and plagued by insulin spikes that had me eating meals or snacks every few hours, I was lucky to eat vegetables at two meals a day, usually ate them only at dinner, and never consumed them at all three meals like I do now. In fact, most vegetarians I know eat a ton of grains -- generally, a lot more grains than actual vegetables -- and much of the focus of the paleo diet is eliminating grains. By and large, we paleo people replace those grains with vegetables, not meat.

However, you would swear from this article that paleo = anti-vegetable. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the truth is inconvenient.

2. Who -- other than the person who wrote the headline -- said that cavepeople were vegetarians, as opposed to omnivores? The use of that word in the title seems not only designed to provoke a dumb fight, but utterly inaccurate, even according to the author, who fesses up in the final footnote that he means that cavemen were *mostly* vegetable-eating, not "vegetarian." The truth seems to be that cavepeople would eat whatever they could grab from a tree, knock off a bush or hunt. Yes, I suspect there were very lean times between big kills, but I also suspect Grok never turned down a hunk of meat, saying, "No thanks, I'm a vegetarian."

3. For the love of all that is good and right, we need to find a better word than "paleo" (says the guy whose blog title has the word in it) to describe our diets. That word just sends those who seem terribly offended with what we do (and don't) eat into a frenzy of caveman-centered talk that is just plain silly and distracting, usually with accompanying pics of Grok and family. I don't know if Liz Wolfe from Cave Girl Eats has the inside edge on the use of the term "ancestral," or whether "non-processed" is the key, but "paleo" just sends the naysayers into a caveman tizzy/discussion that gets us nowhere and distracts from the real issues. Straw men are set up and knocked down by said naysayers and, really, nothing substantive is accomplished.

4. After dazzling us with paragraphs about the alimentary canals of many creatures, the author tells us -- to no one's shock -- that we are designed to eat meat, vegetables and fruit.

You know: a "paleo" diet. Wait, what? So this hit piece on paleo ends up telling us we are designed to eat paleo? You know: paleo like "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf, not "paleo" like some press-created meat orgy that doesn't exist. The article also tells us that, if we are trying to be just like Grok, we need to eat insects because Grok did.

5. But, really, who among us paleo eaters is obsessed with actually trying to eat like a caveman? I am just trying to eat the way that makes my body look, feel and perform the best. I have told you before that paleo eating has helped me lose a lot of weight, beat Raynaud's symptoms, get down to a body-fat percentage that I have not seen since my twenties, and generally look, feel and perform better than when I was a hell of a lot younger than the ripe old age of 50 that I am about to turn. It happens that much of what Grok ate fits my menu. I will pass on the gnarly bugs, though. This is not a historical reenactment.

6. The author then tells us how he doesn't eat meat, and, apparently, gets his protein from beans. We don't know why, because he doesn't tell us. He doesn't attempt to tell us that beans are a better source of protein than animal fat from properly raised animals, because, well, they aren't. They are a relatively inefficient source of protein, contain gut-permeating lectins and they spike insulin. But the word "insulin" or "hormone" does not even appear in the article. Really? A nutritional piece that doesn't mention either of those words seems a little suspect, especially a piece designed to take down a dietary model that's based on proper hormonal balance and regulation..

7. Moreover, none of that incessant blahblahblah about alimentary canals and digestive tracts says a a word about "leaky gut" (a.k.a. "gut permeability") or a word about how the human gut negatively reacts to certain substances, like grains, particularly gluten-containing grains, or the aforementioned lectins.

I try not to overreact, but this article is a disgrace, in a respected publication nonetheless.

Articles on health, particularly alleged *scientific* articles on health, should not be a simple exercise in setting up a straw man just to knock it down. Yet that is precisely what was done here: make it look like paleo is just a meat-based attempt to act like cavepeople, and then tell us why cavepeople, in fact, ate a lot of veggies. Nothing about the actual modern-day way of eating that is (unfortunately) called "paleo" is discussed. Nothing about hormones, hormonal regulation or gut permeability -- all critical aspects of the real basis for eating this way in the modern era -- is mentioned. "Let's all laugh at the silly people in their cavemen costumes with their hunks of charred meat."

Lame. Really, really lame. You can do much better, Scientific American.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lamb burgers. Big, fat, wonderful lamb burgers.

I have told you previously about Melissa Joulwan's amazing recipe for Czech meatballs from her equally amazing cookbook, entitled Well Fed. Tonight, I decided to use only some of her ingredients from that recipe -- which is pork-based -- and make lamb burgers on the grill.

It went like this:

--Three pounds ground lamb (100% grassfed; hint: New Zealand lamb is always 100% grassfed)
-- 1.5 tablespoons each mustard, black pepper and caraway seeds
-- 0.75 tablespoons sea salt

Mix all ingredients together and make burger patties that are one-third to one-half a pound. (I know you can do the necessary math).

Cook them on the grill like you would any burgers, but do not, under any circumstances, squeeze the fat/juices out of them. There are two reasons for this: (1) they taste much better that way, and (2) the fat from a grassfed animal is spectacularly great for you, rich in Omega-3s.


Here they are just on the grill:

And then there is the nearly finished product:

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My kid starts a strength/conditioning blog

It's here, and it would be cool of you to check it out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"And the worms ate into his brain...." (Serrapeptase as a dietary supplement)

As I have mentioned a few thousand times, I had elbow surgery a little over three months ago. Recovery is good, but it isn't perfect. So I look for every little edge, whether it is from some sort of anti-inflammatory angle, or from a mobility point of view.

And then I read this article by the Bulletproof Executive guys, and the last part of it addressed something very interesting, a supplement called serrapeptase.

Here's what they said: "Serrapeptase is an enzyme supplement created by the silkworm. It’s a protein-dissolving pill you can take on an empty stomach. It fights strokes and thins the blood, but most people don’t know it dissolves scar tissue throughout the body, including muscle adhesions. I’ve been taking 3 normal sized caps from a variety of manufacturers for a decade with great results."

Whoa. Really?

It turns out that a little more research taught me a few more things about serrapeptase: it also is a strong anti-inflammatory, more commonly used in Europe and Japan; it dissolves arterial plaque; it doesn't seem to have the side effects of other NSAIDs like ibuprofen; it's the enzyme the silkworm uses to dissolve its cocoon, and it works in the human body to dissolve dead tissue, like scar tissue, y'know... the stuff I have a lot of in my elbow. I also learned that stomach acid destroys it, so it is best to get an enteric-coated version that can make it intact to the small intestine where it can be properly absorbed.

So I started contacting some of my Super Smart Nutrition Internet Pals (SSNIP) to see what they knew about evil/nasty side effects as well as effectiveness of this supplement.

The SSNIP crew much knew nothing about it. I am flying solo in Weirdville on this one.

When I told them what I knew about it, two of them seemed to think it was worth any small risk, and the third wasn't so sure. He warned me to back off if there was any kind of "heavy immunological reaction" from putting biological material from another creature inside my body -- a fair point.

So.... I am only a few days into a regimen where I take a 40,000 i.u. pill in the a.m. and one in the p.m. They need to be taken on a empty stomach. I may try to work a third pill in, but I am starting slow. So far, I haven't noticed anything dramatic, certainly no heavy-duty *anything*. I *do* notice a reduction in achy kinds of pain in the surgery elbow, however. Placebo effect? Maybe, but who cares? It hurts less. That's good. So far, I am wishing that I started this routine immediately after surgery, but better late than never.

Updates to follow, including if anything like this takes place:

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The "everything" post

I was about to do another post on supplementation -- not to tell *you* what to take. Everyone's different, and your mileage may vary. Rather, it was just going to be to give you an idea where I am at with that ever-changing topic.

Instead, I decided to broaden the subject matter a little, to, um, everything.

No, not really *everything*, but everything I am currently doing for (to?) myself in the world of fitness and nutrition.

So buckle your seatbelt, and hang on. The ride could be a little random and bumpy.

But let's start with supplementation, just for kicks:

-- Green Pastures fermented-cod-liver oil/butter-oil capsules, one in the a.m, one in the p.m., always with fat. They are loaded with K2, D3 and A, which are all fat-soluble. You can't absorb fat-soluble vitamins without eating fat.
-- 800 mg. magnesium, always before 3 p.m.
-- a One-a-Day men's multivitamin. I am not sure why, except it seems like some sort of insurance policy. Everything in it is low-dose.
-- 5 mg L-glutamine powder, for gut healing/integrity and pre- and post-workout recovery. If it is a workout day, I do 5 mg about 30 minutes before a workout and I combine another 5 mg. with one or two scoops of SFH pure concentrated whey powder (25 or 50 mg. protein) post-workout. On a rest day, I just do the 5 mg of L-glutamine.
-- serrapeptase, two 40,000 i.u. tablets (one a.m., one p.m.) on an empty stomach 30 minutes before any food. It's an enzyme that silkworms use to dissolve their cocoons. Really. The story is that it is a great anti-inflammatory, cleans out arterial plaque (hopefully not a problem for me) and dissolves scar tissue and adhesions (a big problem, especially post-elbow-surgery). I just started it and I am quite sure it will be the subject of a blog post sometime soon, once I decide whether it is a miracle, a hoax or somewhere in between.


Of course, there are the ten things. But I also do a little cheese from grassfed cows and the aforementioned whey powder. And within the ten things, here's how those things usually play out:
-- almost all of our meat is from grassfed ruminants. Yup, beef or lamb. All different cuts. Organs. Roasts. Steaks. Ground. Burgers. Whatever.
-- we almost never eat poultry.
-- a little pork. Sausages, from those nice pigs at Whole Foods once a week or so, usually with kale. Bacon, the good stuff from Whole Foods, but honestly, I am trying to dial that down a bit and only have it once or twice a week.
--almost every day I eat either canned salmon or canned sardines, usually with lunch. Both wild-caught. Always wild-caught.
-- eggs, three or four most days
-- bulletproof coffee in the morning, bulletproof tea some other times. Generally trying to keep things to two cups of coffee a day, plus a little tea. Saves the stomach from abuse.
-- lots of organic veggies from a local CSA.
-- a little fruit, almost always frozen with coconut milk over top of it, you know... "paleo ice cream."
-- almonds here and there, or maybe a Larabar, but hardly any snacks at all because meals are big and keep me full.
-- when we need to cook with a fat, which is, well, always, it is with grassfed ghee, grassfed butter or coconut oil. We never cook with olive oil, because it oxidizes too easily. But I liberally spread Kassandrinos Imports olive oil on salads that I haven't already garnished with a wallop of avocado.
-- a little dark chocolate here and there, almost always 86% cacao.
-- a little jerky sometimes too, but not very often.
--If I need "fast food," Chipotle is the go-to place, and there I tend to stick to carnitas, guacamole, salsa and lettuce. Just about everything else has soybean oil in it. Blech. Inflammatory blech.


-- at least seven hours sleep every night, and all clocks, etc. covered with something to block the light. Zzzzzzz


--CrossFit three times a week. Our gym has a "strength bias," so that means that in addition to three metabolic-conditioning workouts (metcons), we also get three pure strength workouts in those sessions. That is enough metcon work for me. Any more than that is a source of stress -- physical, not mental, but stress equals cortisol and inflammation (and lions and tigers and bears, oh my), and that's bad news. I also add one or two strength sessions a week in my garage, usually squats, usually front squats at that, because Greg Everett says that the way to make your back-squat position more upright (as opposed to pitching forward) is to do more front squats. That strategy is paying off already with better back squats.


--meditation: every day for twenty minutes, sometimes twice a day. It stops the shitstorm of life from being so shitty. Really. My life would not be the same without it. More here on all that.
-- I am contemplating getting an em-Wave to dial up my meditation practice to awesome levels, but I am pretty in-the-zone with meditation, having done it for a number of years now, so I am not sure whether to dump $200 on an em-Wave. But the lure of better heart-rate variability, now that I am hip to the ways of the Bulletproof Executive, is pretty strong. We will see....
--general mindfulness, particularly when eating. Thanks to Liz Wolfe, I have gotten attuned to how much better my digestion is if I don't eat like a gun is at my head and a stopwatch timing my meals. Enjoy the food. Every bite. This part is a work in progress; trust me.


-- I hardly drink at all at this point -- about once a month these days -- but I am still more than happy to have one here and there, usually whisky (single-malt), whiskey (bourbon or rye), or tequila. I just don't want it to affect my mood/performance/etc. And I don't want to drink reflexively: y'know, pouring one after a long day. Or a short day. Or any day. I am saving drinking for just sometimes, and only at gatherings of friends, and when I do it, I am following the Bulletproof Executive's protocol for feeling good the next day. (I am using the Vitamin C, NAC, Alpha lipoid acid and charcoal from that list. That lipoceutical glutathione looks too potent and too expensive).

And that is pretty much that. Food, sleep, exercise, meditation, and a strategy for infrequent booze consumption.

It's working for me.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Crockpot paleo beef brisket with coffee/cumin/cocoa rub

I have run into a few references to "coffee rubs" for beef brisket recently, and, being a fan of all things java, I have been intrigued, but, every time I look up a recipe, I see so many ingredients that my wife's paleo autoimmune protocol won't tolerate -- paprika and chili peppers seem ubiquitous -- that I decided to wing it and make up something on the fly this morning so I could stick it in the crockpot and ten hours later be greeted with awesomeness.

A few things were essential: grassfed beef brisket (duh); coffee, but decaf because my wife can't do caffeine either; cumin, because it imparts a southwestern feel without involving chili peppers that she can't eat; and coconut milk, because I simply have not found a better crockpot cooking liquid than coconut milk. Every time I use something else -- apple cider vinegar, broth, whatever, I end up wishing I had used old reliable coconut milk. Then I started mucking about with other ideas and stumbled on a container of unsweetened cocoa powder. Embracing the thought, "Mmmm, mocha," with a big sloppy man-hug, I put that onto the ingredients list.

Then, thinking back to an episode of the Bulleproof Executive's Upgraded Self Radio podcast that dealt with the overwhelming powers of a fully operational mothership full of coconut oil (Episode 13, I believe; points to you if get the George Clinton reference; boo if you don't) I threw some of that lauric-acid-filled wonder on the list too.

And off we went....


-- four-pounds(ish) 100% grassfed beef brisket
-- 1/4 cup ground coffee (I used decaf)
-- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
-- 2 tablespoons sea salt
-- 1-2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
-- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
-- 1 can coconut milk, the full-fat stuff, not the light crap, and when I say "can," I do not mean "carton of coconut-milk beverage"; I mean "can."

Do this:

--pour coconut milk into crockpot (I put this first because if you pour it over top of the already-rub-filled hunk o' meat, I think you will rinse off too much of the rub) and stir to mix it up. You could even heat it a little on the stove first to *really* mix it up if you are not a lazy bastard like me.
--mix all the rub ingredients in a bowl.... that's the coffee, salt, cumin and cocoa.
--take the solid coconut oil and rub it all over the brisket. This is not as hot as the last time Angelina Jolie asked me to help her with applying tanning butter at the beach, but it is pretty damn erotic for a kitchen experience, and since there is some evidence that that beach thing didn't happen anywhere but my mind, it may be the best you'll do all day.
--now that the brisket is all, mmmm, oily, rub the rub into it. That's what's you do with a rub; you rub it. To paraphrase Devo, rub it good. In all seriousness, the coconut oil helps the rub adhere to the brisket (which may or may not be named Angelina at this point).
-- cook for ten hours in the coconut milk that is already in the crockpot, a bit longer if it is not easily shredded at the ten-hour mark.

Damn, that is really delicious. You should do this.

The rub ingredients hanging out in a bowl:

The hunk o'meat, in a small pond of coconut milk, all ready to be cooked:

Shredded, extreme deliciousness ten hours later:

We served it over bok choy, sauteed in coconut oil and black pepper:


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Friday, July 6, 2012

Czech meatballs (but with lamb, not pork) and mashed cauliflower, both from Melissa Joulwan's Well Fed cookbook

Melissa Joulwan's cookbook is called Well Fed, and, for my money, it is the best of a lot of very good paleo cookbooks out there. Cookbooks are funny things. If the recipes are too complicated, then I am likely to never bother with them, but if they are too simple, then I will skip those too. Joulwan's seems to strike the perfect balance. She is also a former roller girl and a current Social Distortion fan, so, really, what's not to love?

You should buy it, because then you will know how to make this (also, I want you to buy her book, so I am not going to give away the recipe):

It's caraway-seed/garlic Czech pork meatballs, except I used ground lamb, not ground pork, and oh, wow, they are even better with the sheepy goodness in there. I served them over Joulwan's mashed cauliflower, which has nearly the exact consistency of mashed potatoes, thanks to both coconut oil and coconut milk.

It's like you are down at the diner -- a crazy great diner that serves lamb meatballs, mind you, but a diner nonetheless. It is delicious.

One tip: make a double batch of both. Two of us plowed through more than the recipe amount in one sitting. And use ground lamb. Ground pork can't compete with that.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

80/20 sounds pretty lame to me

You see a lot of references in the paleo/primal world to the so-called "80/20" rule.

And it usually translates to something like, "You can get most of the benefit of paleo/primal eating if 80% of your food is paleo/primal-compliant and 20% is a cheat." You know, it's as if 80/20 is intended to be a lifestyle.

I hate to be Captain Bringdown, but that sounds like a lot of rationalizing bullshit to me. Do the math: if you eat 21 reasonably equal-sized meals a week, that means that, under the 80/20 rule, four of them (and occasionally five) can be 100% off-the-paleo-reservation grainfests. Theoretically, you could have pizza and beer four or five nights a week for dinner, and, as long as the rest of your food were paleo/primal, that would be considered "fine?"

That doesn't sound all that "clean" of an eating strategy to me.

I remember those "transition" days into paleo -- I referenced them in this post,where I told you that, in my experience, you can half-ass paleo for a little while as long as you are moving toward what Ron Swanson would call "whole-assing" it as your goal. Back in the transition days you learn a metric crap ton about your body -- maybe more than at any other time -- because on the compliant days you are feeling awesome. Have a pizza-and-beer night, and you wake up bloated, irritable and weird. Easy, right? Learn a lesson, move on, repeat less and less until it is gone, or at least really rare. But 20% is a long way from "rare."

Unless your goal is best defined as "feeling great most of the time, but really shitty sometimes," the idea is that you are going to minimize/reduce that off-the-reservation stuff until it is essentially gone, not be satisfied at an 80/20 ratio.

I mean, I don't care what you do -- I like to think I have made it clear that I am not your surrogate parent in your nutritional journey -- but viewing 80/20 as anything other than a very temporary waystation on the way to actual paleo/primal healthy eating seems like a bad joke you are playing on yourself. If 20% of your food is non-compliant, you are, quite likely, feeling crappy at least (and maybe more) than 20% of the time. And, yeah, I suspect some of it is age-related. I probably bounce back from a pizzafest a lot slower at age 49 than I did at 23 (you know, theoretically, if I actually ever ate the stuff anymore). But I am not just talking about hangover-level incapacitation. Even you young pups are probably dragging in the gym, relatively speaking, on the days that follow the 20% meals, or at a very minimum not doing what you could be. And then there are the more subtle effects that grainy/gluten-filled meals have on things like mood.

I know; it's all relative. There are few fixed rules in all this, and you have to see how you look, feel and perform, but you also have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and agree that you are doing the best you can to make yourself feel great. I am betting that 80/20 compliance isn't doing that job for most of us.

Because in the end, aren't you doing this to feel great?

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

More dreaming, but of the musical variety

We have this new band project going, so embryonic that it's just two practices in and we don't even have a name yet. The idea is cool, though -- vocals, drums and two basses (one on the rhythm, one playing lead). It's all sounding like some sort of Morphine/ Massive Attack organic hybrid. And, while we want to write originals eventually, we have started with some cool covers. Most of the burden falls on that "lead" bass player to make the real magic happen. And the cool part when it works is that the covers sound uniquely "us" with the weird instrumentation configuration.

If we can figure out a way to do this one, making it swoop and dive and thunder (and adding an extra loud part toward the end, which is what it always needed), well, that'd be about perfect.
Happy Tuesday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Dreams are free, motherfucker," a.k.a. California dreaming

I always thought that "Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker!" was the best song title ever. (Too bad it's not actually a very good song, at least not by Minutemen standards). Let the dreaming begin.

See, it seems that, every few years, I get the bright idea to hike up (and down) Mount Whitney in one day. 22 miles, 6200 or so feet of vertical rise (from about 8300' to almost 15000'. Tallest mountain in the lower 48 states). I did it for the first time in 2003 with a friend. It was great going up (11 miles) and just awful going down. Fatigue sets in and everything sucks on the downhill. For me, the dirty secret of mountain hiking is that the downhill is the hard part. I swore I would never do Whitney again.

But in 2009, my son Kevin was 18 and really wanted to do it. So did my buddy Will, at age 59, mind you. So we entered the lottery -- yup, the damn hike is so popular, there is a lottery for permits to hike it in order to keep the traffic down. 100 day-hike permits per day. You have 24 hours, starting at midnight on the day of your hike. Rain or shine, and, oh yeah, thunderstorms come in the afternoon. You don't want to be on the tallest object in the contiguous U.S. during a thunderstorm. So you start early (with headlamps on) in order to end early.

We didn't get permits through the lottery, but somehow we scored them just before we flew out. We spent five days doing warmup acclimatization hikes around the area and then, on hike/permit day, left Mammoth Lakes, CA, where we were staying, at about midnight, started hiking about 2:30 a.m. and finished that afternoon. It went like this (except this very rough video barely shows any of the action. The wind was blowing wildly from about halfway up onwards, hence the crappy sound; I quit filming after we summitted because I was beat to hell;  oh, yeah, check out what I had for "breakfast" in the pre-paleo days... hahahaha) :

Anyway, Kevin and I made the summit; Will missed by about a mile. He ran out of gas. The downhill was miserable. I was exhausted, fell a couple times, cracked some ribs. All worth it, mind you, but still....

We swore we would never do it again (again).

Except this year, now my son Sean is 18 and he wants to do it. So I'm in, Kevin's in, Sean's in, and dammit if Willie, at age 62, isn't in too for another crack at that magnificent bastard of a mountain.

Except we lost the permit lottery (again).

So, I am hoping we get lucky (again). Otherwise we have just booked two weeks in mid-August in  Mammoth Lakes for hiking every *other* peak we can get our boots on -- hardly a bad consolation prize since the Sierra Nevada really are my favorite mountains in the U.S. And three of us, not Willie, are hoping all our CrossFitting and paleo eating has made us stronger, tougher, etc for this year's attempt.

And all of that is why I am California dreaming today. For free. Motherfucker.