Sunday, December 29, 2013

Once again, here are some tips on how to succeed on a 30-day paleo challenge

In a few days, our gym is going to be starting a 30-day paleo challenge. The rules are pretty simple.

The real reasons for doing this are also pretty simple.

The side benefits are even nicer -- things like more energy, better body comp, better sleep, better performance in the gym, etc.

Easy, right?

Yes. Except somehow a large percentage of people manage to get themselves all twisted in knots over these things.

So, in a personal fit of helpfulness, fueled by caffeine, here are a few tips from me to get you to your paleo happy place -- i.e., how to finish this thing a month or so from now with positive results. Let's go....

1. Just don't even start with the drama, OK?

Paleo challenges are not, in any reasonable sense of the word, "hard." Cancer is hard. Paraplegia is hard. Strokes and heart attacks are hard. Eating seriously delicious food in an unlimited quantity that makes you happy is not hard. (Yes, in an *unlimited* quantity... More on that in a second).

And OK, yeah, if you are a serious processed-food junkie at the moment, and have been living life on bread, cookies, pasta and beer, the first few days of this may involve a little brain fog, some cravings, etc. But that ends pretty quickly, and let's be serious. Somewhere there is a kid with cancer who wishes her biggest problem was that she didn't have a freaking cookie. Toughen the eff up. Stop complaining. This isn't hard. It is a minor bump in the road to get you to awesome.

2. EAT!

For the love of all that is good and right, eat something! Something paleo, that is. Eat a lot of good fats. They keep you full. Drink bulletproof coffee (coffee with sizable hunks of unsalted grassfed butter (like Kerrgold) and coconut oil blended into it. It will make you perky, full and happy. (Don't drink it late in the afternoon or evening, or you'll mess up your sleep). After years of living with "low-fat" nonsense in packages from aisles of the grocery store where there is no actual food, you may have forgotten something: eating is the best way not to be hungry. So eat. Eat paleo food.

3. Always have paleo food prepared, with you, and ready to eat.

I have already written an entire post on this subject. It's really hard to get hungry when you have food with you. It's really hard to eat non-paleo food when you have paleo food with you. Or if you go and eat paleo food anyway in that circumstance, then..."Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion." (That's a Donnie Darko reference; if you don't get it, I am sad for you). Does that require further explanation?

4. Prepare a lot more than one meal's worth of food at a time.

You are cooking anyway. It doesn't take three times as long to cook three pounds of meat and veggies than it does to cook one pound. Live on leftovers. They rule.

5. Don't ever let me hear you say, "But I don't have any recipes!!!!"

Please. There are, give or take, approximately 800 gazillion "paleo recipes" on the internet. Find them. Better yet, don't. Instead, stand on top of your kitchen counter, naked if you choose, clutching your mug of bulletproof coffee, and loudly proclaiming, arms stretched toward the sky, "FUCK RECIPES!!!! I am just going to COOK SOMETHING DELICIOUS!!!!" Then leap down from the counter (careful, now...), throw some delicious meat into a pan with spices of your choice, cook it in its own fat (low heat will do this really well; it just takes a little longer, but it's good not to burn the bejeezus out of your food because... cancer), and add some veggies to cook with it toward the end of the whole deal. Boom. A meal. If you cooked a lot of meat and veggies, that would be many meals. That was easy, and fun.

6. Don't step on the scale.

Stop weighing yourself. Weight means nothing. Body composition (body-fat percentage) means a lot. But weight means nothing. How your clothes fit is *really* what matters. You are a CrossFitter. You lift heavy things. Lifting heavy things has the magical ability to make you thinner where you want to be thinner *and* denser in terms of muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. There are documented cases of women going from a size 14 to a size 2 via paleo eating and heavy lifting and not losing a pound. Yes, you read that right. Not one pound. If those women got all weight-neurotic during that process, they would be sad and miserable. Instead, they got what trainer and paleo author Jason Seib calls "healthy by choice and hot by accident." Get away from the scale. It is an irrelevant tool used to caused neurosis, particularly in women, not a viable measurement of anything. Fight the power. Smash the scale.

7. Don't "cheat."

I have previously made it clear that I hate the word "cheat" as applied to food, but you all use it, so I will too, just this once, for clarity.

Remember why you are really doing this paleo challenge -- to detox your body from atrocious food choices that are wrecking your insides in ways that you can't currently even fully comprehend. Yeah, there are tons of great side benefits, and after a month of "paleo challenging," more beautiful people that you didn't even know cared will say nice things to you, perhaps even complimenting your butt, BUT (I did that on purpose)... all that stuff isn't why you are doing this. You are doing this, first and foremost, to detox. What happens if while "detoxing" from ANYTHING you pour back in some of the bad stuff? Well, durrrr, you just re-poisoned yourself and you are back at (or towards) Square One. Don't be a dope, OK?

That's all I have. Charge into this thing with enthusiasm. Yes, there may be mild moments of suckage. They will be dwarfed and rendered irrelevant by your future awesomeness.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 27, 2013

A new 30-day meditation challenge starts January 1, 2014

About six months ago, Kendall Kendrick had me as a guest on her Born Primal podcast. I had a blast. I used to do some college and community radio, and Kendall used to be a pro radio personality in an earlier life, so our biggest danger was talking over top of one another out of a burning zeal to Say All The Funny Things. But somehow, we hardly interrupted each other at all, and we had a great time.

Best of all, that podcast kicked off a 30-day meditation challenge that went for most of July. And while participation was modest in terms of numbers, I feel like we got quite a few people into a daily meditation practice that they still are continuing. In fact, a couple of them -- Jim Eaton and Wren -- even checked in here with guest posts about their experiences.

So.... We are going to do it again. Once every six months seems about right for one of these things.

Starting January 1 -- and really, what's a better time than the beginning of a new year? -- we need at least ten minutes a day from you for... nothing. That's right, meditation, the conscious act of thinking about nothing. Our modern lives are so stressed and our brains are so busy that sleep, digestion and *everything* get affected. Meditation, as little as ten minutes a day of sitting and staring at a blank wall and thinking about that wall (a.k.a. about nothing at all), empties your crowded, crazy, busy mind and lets you wind down a little from the madness of existence.

I have written a lot on meditation previously, so I am not going to repeat it all now. But here is a link to the kickoff post from the last meditation challenge, which has further links in it to all sorts of other meditation posts of mine including why you can do this even though you *think* you are too busy to slow down (and yes, that is supposed to sound as stupid as it does).

Let's just say that I can't find another way to empty the mind that is even half as effective. Those ten to twenty minutes a day of sitting down, shutting up and staring at a wall can quietly change your whole outlook on life.

Are you in? If you are, check in here, or, better yet, on the Paleo Drummer Facebook page, and tell us how it's going. And yeah, maybe there's a guest blog post in it for you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 23, 2013

The goddamned goal board, or how I distracted myself off the path of health/longevity

"What are you doing? You can't change your numbers on the goal board!" My friend looked incredulous.

I laughed, and then kept erasing where it read, "Steve K: 300-lb front squat."

"I'm not changing it. I am removing it. I am too immature for this sort of motivation," I said, not missing the irony that I was about twice the age of the guy I was talking to.

Somewhere in the early fall each year, the "goal board" appears at the CrossFit gym to which my wife and I belong. It's, generally speaking, a perfectly good idea: have people set a performance target -- maybe a first muscle-up, a particular lifting goal, whatever -- and try to reach it by the end of the year. And, again generally speaking, it is a very good motivator for a lot of people.

Sadly, I am not "a lot of people." I am way too obsessive to be on the goal board.

I spend a fair amount of time at CrossFit suppressing my natural competitive nature and, instead, focusing on general health, fitness and longevity goals. I not only have learned not to give a rat's ass about becoming "a good CrossFitter"; I don't want to even get near the subject in my mind. I don't care about beating anyone else at anything at the gym. I am there to be generally fit and happy. And simply doing that makes me fitter than most 51-year-olds. And it keeps me from getting injured.

But -- and it's a very big but that does not lie -- my real problem isn't competing with other people. It's always trying to top myself. For instance, I figure that I started deadlifting just before I turned 48, and, not long after that, I pulled 300 pounds. Now that I am 51, I can deadlift 405 for one rep. This means, in my mind, that, with that kind of progress, I should be able, at age 81, to deadlift... about 1400 pounds.

Because that's how it works, right?

OK, so even I know that it really doesn't. The reality for the older athlete is that every day is a balance between going reasonably hard and not crossing the line into injury. This can be a particular struggle if you are also prone to saying things like: "Life is a constant self-improvement project. Never be completely satisfied" -- which I truly believe.

Which brings us to the goal board.

I don't need a goal board. My whole fucking brain is a goal board. I can tell you, with near-perfect accuracy, my "stats" whether we are talking about lifting numbers, volleyball-team performances, wins and losses as a lawyer, whatever. I clearly do not need to kickstart my self-motivation by declaring publicly that my goal is a 300-pound front squat.

Even though it is.

Because I already know it is.

But what happens when I go and be a team player and write my goal on the board is that I get overly-serious about said goal. No, actually, I get overly serious about every fucking thing at the gym when I do that. I start trying to "improve" too much at once.

Which brings us to the sumo deadlift. I am a perfectly satisfactory regular deadlifter. I should be happy with a 100-pound increase in three years, especially at my age, but no, when I get in "goal board" mode, the change in my plan of attack does not merely infect the pursuit of said goal. The disease spreads more globally into all aspects of my game.

I start saying things like, "I was reading about sumo-style deadlifting, and it seems like it is really a good way for long-limbed guys like me to pull more weight." Now, this is true, actually, but there's a catch: you use slightly different muscles when sumo deadlifting. You need to ease your way into the new technique.

There was little in the way of "easing."

I felt the hamstring go on the third sumo rep at 325.

Fortunately, being the sort of guy who occasionally tries to do things that he shouldn't, I have flat-out torn my right hamstring previously. Black/purple bruise line straight up the back of my leg that other time. So, on sumo day, as soon as I felt it begin to separate, I dropped the bar, straightened my leg out, and didn't bend it again until I got some ice on it. A strict regimen of ice, bone broth, self-loathing and foul language over the next few days followed by days more of foam-rolling and stretching, and I was able to get back into the gym within a week. Three weeks after the injury, I PR'd my regular deadlift. So I got lucky. Really lucky.

Still, there won't be any sumo deadlifting in my future.

But wait, you say, that entry on the goal board was for a front squat. What does that have to do with deadlifting?

Everything. Once I get in that max-lift/PR state of mind, it crosses over into all my lifts. My front squatting over the last year has been solid. I really focused on form and, from October 2012 to a year later, increased my three-rep max from 185 (body weight) to 275. But I did that by focusing on three- and five-rep efforts at generally sub-maximal load, not by trying incessantly to grab the brass ring of the one-rep max. As soon as I wrote the 300-pound one-rep front-squat goal on the board, I started trying the odd one-rep max here and there... and not terribly successfully.

I got, as my wife says, "distracted by shiny things" and went off the health/longevity track straight onto the superhighway of ego.

And then I got the genius idea to push too hard my first time sumo deadlifting.

It's a simple concept, but I need to remind myself of it fairly frequently: health-and-longevity-based training will get you to very good results, with lots of progress, but it's a variation on the "healthy by choice, hot by accident" mantra that Jason Seib teaches his female clients. For me, it's "healthy by choice, stronger by accident."

Not "stronger by writing a number on the goddamned goal board and chasing it like an obsessive nut."

Live and learn. Know yourself first.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

That Dog

She was always The Dog That Could Die at Any Time. I adopted her in 2001 when she was a scared, sweet shelter pup, and, not soon thereafter, Lydia was diagnosed with a heart defect that was the cause of her frequent fainting spells. We were told she couldn't even be spayed because her heart would stop from the anesthetic. In fact, now that I think about it, the way we found that one out was that her heart actually stopped on the operating table when they tried to spay her, and they managed to revive her before calling off the surgery. But, somehow, eventually, the fainting faded away as she grew up, and she even survived a later bout of endometriosis that required anesthetic for a lifesaving hysterectomy. She was a survivor, and a sweet snuggler, and I took many a weekend nap with her. Everyone who met Lydia loved her. At our frequent summer volleyball games at our house, she had a knack for cozying up to a quieter visitor and charming that person with cuddles and maybe a kiss or two. She also came with an unintended rock-and-roll pedigree. Born on D. Boon's birthday, she died on Mike Watt's. And she is featured in not one, but two, paintings by Wes Freed, the man famous for so many Drive-By Truckers album covers.

Lydia was the best dog I have ever had. Fiercely loyal, yet lovable to the core, she followed me around the house so closely most days and nights that at one point I regretted not naming her Shadow. Many was the time my leg inadvertently connected with her hard pit-bull/lab noggin when I would change direction and she would be so close by that we would collide. She loved people, cats, other dogs and, most of all, her family.

But old age sucks for dogs too. And Lydia's thirteenth year on the planet was not kind to her. Failing eyesight and hearing were just the beginning. She started "sundowning" -- that wandering/agitated thing that dementia patients do each night at twilight. She walked in circles so much that she lost weight and got skinny -- *bony* skinny. And then the seizures started. Some were mild, some awful. And each one took a small chunk out of her personality. By last month Lydia was often a sad little shell of her former self, drifting from room to room with a troubled, discontented look on her face, as if searching in vain for The Unseen Problem. But other times, she would still gleefully greet my return home from work, and give us a little hope for her.

But then a few weeks ago, she had a big seizure, and then, last night, she had an even larger one that not only soiled rugs and floors, but sent her into a three-hour-long tailspin where she walked in circles for that whole time, drooling and crashing into walls, furniture and family -- even *after* we gave her a dose of Valium that would have sent most people into an extended trip to Snoozeville. It was awful. I said to my wife, "I am afraid it is going to be time soon." Always sensible, she said, "I'm afraid it's already time."

We took Lydia to the vet tonight. They couldn't have been nicer. They saw us after-hours, so no other animals would be in the waiting room to stress her out. Lydia died quietly with our hands cradling her head. Instantly, I had known that we made the right call. Her deep, relaxed sigh was the calmest one I had heard from her in many months.

As Jason Isbell sings, in my mind "I buried her a thousand times" previously. She was always on a high wire of shaky health. But Lydia's long, beautiful life was that rare sweet gift the universe occasionally hands you. I won't forget her.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gimme Some Truth

Some people suck.

That's quite a revelation, I'm sure. But really, the extent to which certain folks will flat-out lie to avoid the direct result of their own negligence is fairly mindblowing at times.

It was sometime in the mid 1980s and I was driving through the checkerboard grid of streets -- punctuated by intersections with four-way stops -- that is Center City Philadelphia. I watched the guy in front of me come to a full stop at one of those very intersections and then POW! Out of nowhere, an elderly white woman drove her car straight through the stop sign on the cross street without pausing at all and plowed into the front side panel of his car. They got out and started to exchange info, and I had a thought: "I am the only other person who saw this accident. What if that woman lies about what happened?"

So I pulled over too, and scribbled my name and number on a piece of paper and told the young African-American man driving the car that had been in front of me, "Hey, if you end up needing a witness, call me, or give my number to insurance. That lady totally ran that stop sign."

He didn't say much at the time. In fact, I don't even think he thanked me. The two drivers exchanged insurance info and I drove off. The woman was already howling about the damage to her car. His was damaged much worse, but he seemed pretty calm.

The next week an insurance investigator contacted me. He told me that both drivers were denying responsibility, each claiming that the other ran a stop sign. He interviewed me, got my version and assured me that he couldn't see how the guy would be found at fault. "You are the only disinterested witness and your story is very clear."

A couple nights later my phone rang. It was the dude from the car in front of me. He told me that the insurance companies were finding her to be 100% at fault. That was good news. But it was what he said next that stuck with me all these years: "Hey man, I just wanted to call and say thank you. I don't know why you took the time to stop like you did, but it was a very nice thing to do, and I know for sure that if you hadn't, there is no way they would have believed me. No one ever believes the young black guy."

"No one ever believes _____." You probably can fill in that blank with all sorts of descriptions of people. In a traffic accident, I am thinking that, regardless of fault, no one ever believes the kid against the adult, the young black guy against the older white woman, the undocumented alien driving a beater against the Lexus-driving lawyer. Name the scenario, and, unless somebody who doesn't have a dog in that fight steps up and says what really happens, chances are most of those accidents are going to get charged to both drivers, or, even worse, against the less "favored" one regardless of what really happened.

I try hard to suppress my natural tendency to assume the worst about people, but when it comes to driving a car and the avoidance of responsibility, it seems like that instinct is too often dead-on.

This issue all came up again yesterday. Dumbfounded, I watched a car nearly destroy another one by running a traffic light that had been red for four to five seconds. A cop arrived on the scene so quickly that I assumed he had it all under control. And the offending driver had somehow avoided a catastrophic crash at the last second, standing on her brakes to the point that the intersection was filled with acrid smoke. It ended up only being a minor collision, so my thought was that my observations weren't relevant. The cop was on it. I drove on home.

But this morning, I remembered that mid-'80s incident. And I particularly remembered that older woman's attempt to avoid responsibility. And I got a bad feeling. I assumed the worst. Again.

I contacted the cops to see if they wanted my version. Sure enough, I was told, "The woman driving the smaller car" -- the one that ran the red light -- "says her light was not red." I told the officer the real deal, and he took my statement and thanked me profusely. As another cop I know told me, he-said/she-said cases are tough on law enforcement. Disinterested witnesses stepping up are the key to uncovering the truth.

So it all comes down to a simple phrase: do the right thing. Think about who you are and where you'd fit into these scenarios no matter whether you were the driver at fault, or the aggrieved one. Would you try to blame the other guy, even if you were the one who was in the wrong? Or would you fess up and accept responsibility? If you saw it happen, would you call it in? Or would you just figure that was someone else's job? Lots of people talk about fostering a sense of community. Are you doing more than just talking?

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

"The government should be in the dock, not me. I plead not guilty." -- Nelson Mandela, April 20, 1964

He was a very brave man. He lived a fuller life than, well, almost anyone.
Go here to read a brilliant piece about that 1964 speech.

And remember to stand up and complain when you see bad shit happen. He did.

Because there is nothing worse than the systematic abuse of power.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The serious post (time to make a change?)

It was 2005 and my dad had asked me to do what he described as "a huge favor" -- drive him to a reunion luncheon celebrating his college class's 60th anniversary of their graduation. So I did.

Their *60th* college reunion. The people there were... well, there's no better word: they were old. They were seriously old. I mean... do the math. They were all in their eighties.

They also, across the board, shared another characteristic: none of them were overweight.

None of them.

In fact, most of them were on the thin side.

And I have to admit that, at first, I was kind of surprised. We live in a culture where a simple trip to a baseball game can leave one overwhelmed at the size and scope of the obesity epidemic for what seems like every age group, but then I realized an undeniable fact: the less-healthy members of the class of 1945 were either dead or too disabled to make it to the reunion. I was looking at the fittest of the survivors. Put differently, the metabolically troubled often don't make it to 80.

So, instead of a room full of walkers and wheelchairs, and old folks of all sizes and shapes, which is what I had expected, it was a moderately-full room of spry, thin, seemingly-happy senior citizens. My dad had one of the few canes in the place. Otherwise, the diners were ambulatory and mentally as sharp as the proverbial tack.

Warren Zevon told us a while ago: "Life'll kill ya."

The difficulty is that it kills some of us a lot faster than others. Yeah, there is no doubt that we can only do our best and some nasty stuff is going to take a few of us down earlier than we want no matter how much we eat well, sleep well and exercise smart.

But for the rest of us, there's a critical point -- a time where, if you are metabolically messed-up, you are going to have to make a choice that you probably didn't have to worry about when you were younger: establish healthy habits or live a shorter life than you had planned.

Unfortunately, there is a point in the aging process when lifestyle choices necessarily get serious, and that age is, also unfortunately, different for everyone. There is just not a standard Road Map of Life that applies to everyone. But when you get there, failing to seize that moment to make huge changes can be a costly mistake.

When I say "huge" changes, I am not necessarily referring to going paleo or doing CrossFit. How about simpler (but still big) stuff, like ditching processed foods, quitting smoking and moving your body every day? Or maybe you actually need to take even more drastic steps. Ultimately, I am talking about whatever it is that you need to do to get healthy. Today.

Don't get me wrong.... It's all your choice. Do what you want. I just think you should make that decision with your eyes open, fully aware of the path that you are headed down. Instead, it seems like there are a lot of folks who just kind of passively keep on keeping on with processed food, lousy sleep and a sedentary existence until... Boom. It's actually too late.

Because the tragedy isn't the person who willfully chooses to live a shorter life in exchange for the "freedom" of an unhealthy lifestyle. It's the poor soul who thinks he or she has time to keep screwing around, and then dies of some metabolically-related disorder, all the while abstractly planning to make some big change in the future.

Aging is serious stuff. Like Mr. Zevon sang, it'll kill you. But how and when is often a product of the choices you make. True story.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Scottish-tinged Tale of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always the holiday most likely to bring American extended families together to laugh, cry, smile, fight, and generally run through the whole gamut of available emotions in one long day of food, gratitude and, quite possibly, something a little more unsettling. But one particular Thanksgiving a few years back had an extra potential air of chaos about it. We had a lot of people at our house. Every bedroom was full of guests and there were extras around for meals. It had the makings of a circus to it.

But really, like Bob Dylan once sang, we had "no idea what kinda shit was about to go down."

Dinner was early and relatively uneventful, but then a bunch of us settled in for a post-prandial board game of some sort. Trivial Pursuit, I think it was, or maybe Apples to Apples. Anyway, the gaming  went pretty smoothly, but an astute observer of the evening's festivities would note an undercurrent of, er, Scotland creeping into the proceedings.

See, a few of us were already fans of single-malt Scotch, but a couple more joined in the imbibing that evening, and, while my own consumption was pretty mild that night, I noticed that Phil -- an older relative -- and his 40-something son Mike were pouring Phil's favorite brand with abandon. We have these stubby glasses that appear perfect for a beverage on the rocks, but one needs to be careful. The glasses are short, yet exceedingly wide, and their width is so deceiving that they hold 500 ml of liquid when appearing to handle only maybe half that amount. That's half a liter, kids, for those of you who speak Canadian -- or a bit more than a (U.S.) pint for the less-traveled Americans among us. When used as a whisky glass, even with the room taken up by the ice with which they were polluting their beverages (yes, golden rule of Scotch whisky: neat, my friends… neat), "careful" was plainly the operative word.

Phil and Mike were not careful. They were not careful in the least.

But both of them were staying the night -- with their wives -- so I wasn't terribly concerned when the board games ended and the on-their-way-to-soused father and son stayed up a bit later. They had a long history of getting along well, but in recent years they hadn't seen each other as much. So when they launched into another tale of their days at a friend's hunting cabin in the north woods, it seemed both like time for the rest of us to go to bed, and a good opportunity for them to bond at the kitchen table over a pair of quickly-draining bottles of single-malt. "Those two are hilarious," I remarked to my wife as we headed upstairs to bed. "Oh, let 'em have their fun," she replied. "It's good to see them get along so well, and they are reminiscing up a storm about the old hunting trips up north."

A couple hours later, long after we fell asleep….

"Steve… what the hell is that in our doorway?" my wife asks as she nudges me awake. I look over and then hear Phil, who is supposed to be sleeping downstairs, but who, instead, is at our bedroom door, mumbling: "So. Confused. It doesn't make any sense at all. Where? Steps? There aren't steps...." Before I can compute exactly what he is talking about, and say any more than, "Oops. I think Phil's loaded and wandering the halls," my wife says, "Phil!? Phil, what are you doing in the hallway outside our door?"

Phil doesn't really acknowledge her until she actually goes over to him, and then he says, as if delightfully discovering a winsome lass with whom he would just love to converse at a garden party, "Oh! Hello, miss! Well, who are you?" This sends me into spasmodic fits of laughter that I try to bury in the pillow.

"Phil! It's Jamie! Do you know where you are?"
"Jamie?! What?! What are you doing here?!"
"Phil, you are upstairs. Your bedroom is downstairs."
"Upstairs!!?? There's no upstairs!"
"Phil, it's Jamie. You are at our house in New Jersey."
"Jamie?! New Jersey?!?! Oh… I am so confused."

It turns out that Phil had so many glasses of whisky and had shot the proverbial shit for so long about the hunting cabin that he awoke from his eventual drunken slumber believing that he was, in fact, in the hunting cabin -- where there is no second floor, and where my wife has never been.

Hence... Phil's understandable confusion that he was "upstairs" talking to "Jamie" in "New Jersey."

But, after a few moments, the dust settles and Jamie manages to walk Captain Confusion back downstairs to his bedroom where, at this point, his wife Louise is filled in on the details of Phil's liquid-fueled somnambulance. She says she will close their door, so he won't wander anymore.

Maybe 30 minutes later….

<CRASH><CLATTER><CRASH> sounds from the kitchen wake us up.

J and I lie in bed for a couple minutes. first listening to Phil talking to himself in the kitchen and bumping into things, and then wondering if Louise -- who we also thought we heard -- had this one under control. But, unclear that just rolling over and going back to sleep would be a satisfying or sensible choice at that moment, I say to my wife: "You handled the last one. I'll get this one."

It's hard to adequately convey what goes through one's mind when in the middle of one's kitchen at 2 a.m. stands a man -- a very drunk and confused elderly man wearing only a not-very-dry-at-all pair of tight whiteys -- who has emptied two things onto the kitchen floor: (1) his bladder and (2) the entire contents of the cabinet under the kitchen sink where he believes (actually quite correctly, somewhat quixotically) the cleaning products are stored with which a hypothetical person who is actually in control of his faculties might begin the process of cleaning up item #1.

But I can assure you that that hypothetical person was not going to be me.

Louise appears and, fortunately, agrees that, because it was her beloved, not mine, who had decided to mistake the kitchen for the bathroom, she will handle the cleanup. So while she gets Phil a dry set of clothes, I corral the dogs who were dancing in circles, fairly shocked that Some New Guy could just let it rip in the kitchen like that when they would certainly get clobbered for the same behavior. I put them outside, and Louise sets out to clean up Lake Urine while I talk to Phil.

"Phil. Dude. Had a little whisky, did we?"
"I think I need to go to the hospital. I think something's really wrong. I am losing my mind."
Louise chimed in, her mood, er, dampened by her current task: "PHIL!! You are stinking drunk!! THAT'S the only problem!! No one is going to the hospital!!"

What then ensues between them is a rather lengthy soliloquy by Phil on what he claims to be a prevalence of dementia in his family history, punctuated almost rhythmically by Louise's increasingly irate -- yet undoubtedly correct -- retorts that Phil is "just loaded" or "completely fucking drunk." Phil is convinced he is suffering from some sort of rare, acute (make that really acute) early-onset Alzheimer's. Louise is, rightfully, unconvinced of the crisis nature of the matter, but is getting nowhere with him. I decide to try to play The Voice of Reason while she cleans more:

"Phil, those glasses you guys were drinking from? Those are half-liter glasses. You drank a lot of whisky."
"Oh my god. I had four or five of those. With a lot of ice, but still…."

He pauses.

"But," deep and abiding concern comes across his face again, "I don't want to lose my mind. And I think I am. I need to go to the hospital."
"Phil, you need to go to sleep. You drank too much."

He pauses again, and -- as serious as a patient who just received a terminal-illness diagnosis -- looks me in the eye and says, ignoring what has to be my severely strained attempt not to bust up laughing: "Steve, do you really think it could have just been the Scotch?"

"Yes, Phil. You drank a lot, man. Go to bed."

Phil shuffles off to the bedroom. Louise had just finished The Big Cleanup and asks me if I would just hang out in the kitchen for a minute or two while she grabs a smoke outside, just in case Phil makes one more appearance.

I agree, and, sure enough, just a couple moments later, out stumbles Phil from the bedroom, both fists full of … prescription-pill bottles, some already open. He dumps them onto the kitchen counter. It looks like Keith Moon's dad has showed up to party.

"Holy shit, Phil! What are you doing?!"
"Gotta take my heart medicine. I got so drunk I almost forgot."
"LOUIIIIIIISE!" I yelled. "I think we need you in here!"

There appear to be 15 different, undoubtedly contradictory, medications on our counter, and Louise springs into action, putting the kibosh on Pharmacy Time, doling out what I think was just an ibuprofen to Phil, and confiscating the rest "until you sober the hell up tomorrow." This time Phil goes to bed and stays there.

Somehow my wife had fallen asleep upstairs during this whole episode ("I figured you had whatever it was that Phil was doing under control," she said later in her typical calm way), and so, when I return to our bed, exhausted, full of Thanksgiving gratitude that we hadn't reenacted a drug-overdose episode of C.S.I. New Jersey in our kitchen, and she asks: "What happened?" all I can muster is a promise to fill her in on the details the next day. And so Friday morning, I tell her all about what Arlo Guthrie might call the Great New Jersey Thanksgiving Kitchen Masacree while Phil and Mike sleep in late and nurse all-day unenviable and utterly predictable hangovers.

Postscript: Phil and Louise have been back to our place for many a Thanksgiving dinner since this episode, and I don't think he has once opted for anything stronger than a glass or two of red wine. Heh.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Middle Way of CrossFit, a.k.a. Why CrossFit isn't just for the "badasses" and also isn't going to kill you

There's no shortage of opinions out there about CrossFit. A visit to Dr. Google will tell you whatever you'd like to hear. Do a search on a phrase like "CrossFit kills" and see all the reasons why a visit to your local affiliate is the exercise equivalent of smoking while pumping gas… while joining a doomsday cult. Conversely, the opposite type of search will reveal an abundance of pro-CrossFit exhortations and dogma: Be a "badass," yo, and "crush" things like weakness, fear and the competition.

And really, I don't care whether you fall into one of those extreme categories: the CF hater or the CF fanatic. I just want you to know that there's a less, um, intense position on the subject.

I'm a 51-year-old guy who does CrossFit for reasons that have nothing to do with all the "badass" hyperbole. For me it is a lot simpler: I can't find a more efficient way to stay fitter than most of my age group without grinding myself into bits.

See, I have a lot of stuff going on. I bet you do too. Life is busy, and doing things like I used to do in my pre-CrossFit days -- like going to the globo gym six freaking days a week, sometimes seven, for well over an hour each day -- seems particularly counterproductive, ridiculous and a giant time-suck on my already-busy life, when three days a week of one-hour CrossFit classes (that's one total hour from warmup to the time I leave) have me fitter, faster, stronger and happier than all that treadmill/machine-filled hoo-hah that I did way back then.

When I showed up in the garage gym of my CF trainer Justin a few years ago, I couldn't air-squat below parallel without a huge amount of effort. Forget squatting with a barbell. Just the simple flexibility needed to do the most basic air squat over and over was missing from my exercise ability. Fast-forward to today and, after three+ years of CF, I am no superhero, but my one-rep front squat is getting close to 300 pounds and my back squat is a few pounds more. My deadlift just hit 400 pounds, and I farmer's-carried 430 for fifty feet across the gym a couple weeks ago. In other words, I am doing some decent work on some powerlifts for a guy my age.

But let's not pretend that all my lifts are even competent, let alone decent or credible. Drumming injuries, and a resulting inability to lock out my right elbow, have left me with a pretty awful strict press. And, let's face it, doing really well with the Olympic lifts (clean, jerk, snatch) requires full-body speed that I don't really have at my age. I'll do those lifts occasionally -- they are fun -- but my current versions of them are sad imitations of what they could have been were I doing them in my teens or twenties.

And even on lifts where I am doing solid work, the harsh truth is that there are Masters athletes -- folks my age and older -- at the CrossFit Games that crush those numbers.

But I don't care. Those guys (and gals) are working at a whole different level than I am, and I am good with that. The same is true of some uber-fit mostly-younger folks at our gym who do local CF competitions that I would never think to enter. In other words, their goals are different than mine -- and that's cool; to each his or her own -- and it doesn't stress me out or make me feel bad that they are hitting performance levels that I am not.

I go to CrossFit for one simple reason: to feel good. And I feel very good. Happiness is not overrated. A lot of smart trainers (CF and otherwise) will tell you that the exercise portion of the path to better body comp and injury-free health and longevity goes something like: lift heavy a few days a week, walk every day that you can, do some sprint-style metabolic-conditioning (metcon) work a couple/three times a week and, with a little additional mobility emphasis, you are good to go. Three days a week of CrossFit at a gym where we do mobility work, a strength lift plus a metcon in the course of a single one-hour session does all that for me (except the walking -- that's on me), and does so with an efficiency and a general absence of a major sustained beatdown that I haven't found anywhere else. Is it intense for that hour? Sure. Is it easy? No. But it also isn't the complete physical meltdown that some of either the extreme detractors or the extreme proponents of CF want you to believe it is.

And I also tailor CrossFit to my own needs. It's a rare day when you will find me grinding out a metcon that lasts more than 15 minutes, and, more often, I am focused on the five to twelve-minute range. You know: sprints, or the equivalent. The Filthy Fifty? No. I'm not doing it. For me it is a needless cortisol bomb akin to distance running. It does very little for me in the way of positive progress, and it just wears me down and spits me out, probably causing me to retain body fat, not shed it. The same is true of "hero" workouts like Murph. I salute the heroes, and then I do a much shorter workout. 40-ish minutes of "chronic cardio" is not why I do CrossFit. And there are CrossFit skills, like double-unders, that I don't have much interest in because I don't see a translation for double unders into everyday life, so I don't bother. If I were entering competitions, yeah I would need them and learn them. But I'm not. I am just having fun and doing things to enhance the rest of my existence. Put differently, CrossFit is not my "sport" and I am not "competing" with anyone, except perhaps myself. It is just a way for me to stay fit. Sensibly.

So, in my middle-ground approach, I'm not "forging elite fitness" or a training like a potential CrossFit Games competitor, but I am also not a burgeoning case of rhabdomyalysis or some other horror-story scenario that the haters will paint for you. I am just an older dude who feels really freaking good by doing this stuff a few days a week -- better than I ever did when I appeared to be trying much harder (but failing) to be this fit by six days per week of attendance at a globo gym.

CrossFit: it can be a "sport" but it doesn't have to be. It can also just be a great way to stay fit. It's your choice, and, either way, if your gym is anything like ours, you'll get invited to more great parties than you used to.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Smack dab at the intersection of Poignant and Funny.

The original article is here. Or you could get wildly lost in the writer's blog, if you prefer. I have.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

An Autumnal Paleo Tale

Here in the mid-Atlantic states, we are smack dab in the thick of autumn. A few windy days and nights have brought most, but not all, of the leaves down from the trees. This makes life interesting for those of us who regularly walk our dogs.

First, there are the "autumn surprises." Fall -- leaves everywhere -- means that the inconsiderate slackers who don't pick up after their dogs present a greater threat than they usually do to the continued poop-free nature of one's shoes. That Giant Dog Turd (band name?) that would have been obvious from many yards away in the summer is now camouflaged in a bed of autumnal beauty. Crunch. Squish. Fuck.

Secondly, apparently -- if my dogs are to be believed -- there is a hidden network of just-below-the-fallen-leaves superhighways for mice, moles, voles (I don't actually know what a vole is. A mole that can sing Rocky Top?) and other rodents. Either that or my two hound mixes are insane. Ruby, the more predatory of the two, spends large portions of our fall walks pouncing on hidden beasties in the leaves. Sometimes (but not often) she catches something. Some of those times (but much less often), she eats the fuzzy thing that she caught. And, almost 100% of *those* times, she throws up upon arriving home. Fortunately, she is a terrible hunter. Milo -- the dog that is afraid of everything human, fearful of many inanimate objects, adoring of all other dogs, and reasonably hellbent on chasing every other living creature on earth, especially our cat -- simply follows Ruby's "leadership" on these issues. This means that sometimes he joins in the pounce, and other times stands nearby, like a confused Flavor Flav to Ruby's Chuck D.

This brings us to the third problem of autumn: squirrels. They are currently scurrying about everywhere -- not underneath the leaves at all. Over, through, and around them. They are streaking across yards at high speed, leaping onto trees, and playing elaborate chase games with one another up and down tree trunks. They don't give a fuck about the dogs. The dogs, however, give many many fucks about them. Ruby and Milo are convinced that each walk these days is a journey into a virtual reality theme park called Squirrelworld.

And Squirrelworld opens its gates without notice. We can be cruising along just fine -- which, translated into these guys' behavior, means minimal pouncing by Ruby, and Milo feeling unthreatened by school buses, noisy trucks, pedestrians (there aren't many out here), and the greatest menace of all: motorcycles or the evil bicycle*** -- when, out of nowhere, I must engage full CrossFit-based resistance training to prevent both Milo and Ruby from charging at high speed after a bevy of squirrels.

It's... interesting. And adventurous.

And generally it works out fine. But if it always worked out fine, guess I wouldn't be wasting your time with this tale, hmmm? Recently, in a stunt that scared the daylights out of me, Milo did an out-of-nowhere horizontal Superman-ish leap over top of Ruby to get at a squirrel. This led to an epic tangling of leashes, and harnesses, which then led to Ruby popping completely out of her harness, getting loose right next to a road where cars were zooming by at 50 m.p.h. Somehow, she came back to me almost immediately, and I got her harness on with one hand while simultaneously beating Milo into submission to distract him from chasing his long-gone prey. It was much worse, and more frightening, than it sounds.

Today was a little more Three Stooges, and a little less, Oh Shit the Dog Almost Got Killed than that.

I mentioned that school buses scare the bejeezus out of Milo. Well, his first reaction when scared on a walk is to stop and pull a bit backwards. When that goes nowhere, fortunately he just sits down. Usually, I can pat him on the head, give a rousing, inspirational speech, and onwards we soldier. Sometimes the phrase "For fuck's sake..." is used by me in less-inspirational moments. Things become a little more chaotic if the school bus is headed our way and stopping every few houses to discharge passengers. In Miloworld, this presents a double extra threat. The bus is behaving erratically -- stopping and starting -- and each person (yes, children, but he doesn't care) is a potential assassin, sent from Mordor to cause young Milo a hasty shuffle off this mortal coil.

So there was a bus -- stopping often, letting kids out, starting up again -- slowly approaching us. There was also an Invisible Something Delicious that had both dogs pulling hard and doing a little leaping as well to find it. Usually, I can zero in on their object of desire in question and direct them away from it, but I couldn't find the damn thing. Milo's leaping was also tempered by simultaneous fear of the bus and the kids. Imagine, if you will, one very excited dog (Ruby) pulling like mad in hellbent pursuit of the Invisible Something Delicious, and one half-hungry/excited, half-terrified dog (Milo) following Ruby while looking up and around at the whole wide world while trying not to get killed like he always figured was going to happen.

Oh, and traffic was backing up both ways, because of the bus, which pushed us a bit further off the road into someone's yard, where, if it were only some other season, and there weren't a thick coating of leaves everywhere, I would have seen the dead squirrel.

Ruby sees it first. She pounces, and comes up with a giant, flattened, long-desiccated, no-longer-stinky-to humans-anyway former squirrel in her maw. At this very moment, the bus driver -- undoubtedly tired of stopping at nearly every house on the damn street, guns the engine. He's done. Milo is unamused at this display of arrogant buslike behavior, and.... Well, he kinda spazzes out briefly, getting tangled with Ruby for a moment in a scene that reminds me so much of the previous near-disaster that I go into no-way-is-that-happening-again mode. While getting tangled, Milo realizes the bus/student danger had passed and thinks, "Oh. Wow. Oh wow oh wow oh wow. Ruby. Has. A. Squirrel!"

Milo snatches the squirrel from Ruby. Ruby snarls and snatches it back. I am wrestling with both of them to prevent the Great Tangling and Harness Popping of '13 from repeating itself, while yelling, "Drop it!" at both of them -- a surprisingly effective command when almost anything except the squirrel that they always wanted is involved.

At this point, cars are driving past, but the last car stops. A well-meaning woman driving that car calls out to me -- and, really, I must have looked like I was in either a Bear Grylls-ish dog/squirrel/man adventure series or an animal-abuse video -- and we all (the two dogs and I) look toward her for a second. The dogs each have an end of the squirrel in their respective mouths. I manage to say, "No, we are fine. They just have a dead...."

At that moment, Milo and Ruby pull hard away from one another, tugging away, and the squirrel splits in two.

"...squirrel," I finish.

"Aaaaaugh!" she said before driving off. "Dogs are gross."

I really couldn't disagree.

***The boy is flat-out terrified of two-wheeled conveyances. Strangely, he is positively soothed by lawn mowers (push or tractor) and string trimmers. Why? I don't know. He's a dog. The only theory that I have is that he has seen me using those things in our yard, and, because I am one of five people on earth he trusts not to kill him on sight, good enough for me is good enough for him. Perhaps this means I need to buy a motorcycle.

An hour later, exhausted by the hoopla....


--Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Occasion" versus "habit"

Earlier this year I did a post called "Shouldn't" Versus "Don't." The thrust of it was pretty simple: staying away from non-paleo foods is going to be a lot easier when you simply "don't" eat that food, rather than when you know you "shouldn't," but you still indulge.

But you know what? Unless you are a serious one-percenter in the paleosphere, there are going to be a few non-paleo foods you occasionally enjoy. And the key to managing those "shouldn't" foods is going to be a big part of how well you do with paleo.

For me, it's a matter of making sure "occasion" doesn't turn into "habit."
I'm not a binge eater/drinker. If you put me in a room with five pints of CoffeeCoffeeBuzzBuzzBuzz, I'd eat some of it, put the rest away, and eat some more the next day, and then the next day, and so on until it was done. I wouldn't scarf it all down in one sitting, but I'd eat it every fucking day that I had it nearby. Something that delicious becomes a habit pretty quickly. I'm the same way with booze. My days of getting wasted are long gone, but if I had a couple drinks tonight, and a couple more tomorrow, I'd have to turn on an extra dose of willpower not to repeat that daily routine for the next couple weeks. Eventually, whether the non-paleo item were ice cream or booze, I'd stop, because I'd feel like shit after two weeks of daily indulgence, or I'd have a few new zits staring at me from the mirror, or some renewed acid reflux. Invariably, the problem begins for me when the line between occasion and habit gets blurred with some specific food items -- booze, ice cream, nut butter, etc.

So my suggestion for managing your own personal "shouldn't" list is twofold: (1) keep that list short, and (2), just as importantly, know what your own personal line is between occasion and habit. For me, with most of my "shouldn't" foods, like ice cream and nut butter, it's a matter of not having the tempting potential habit-forming item around the house, but with others -- particularly alcohol -- I have to be a little stricter with myself. So I've transferred booze to the "don't" list for the foreseeable future.

And the frequency at which you can handle any off-road foray away from paleo is going to be dependent on a lot of very individual factors. Are you metabolically sound, feel great, and are at your goal weight and happy with body comp? Then you probably have a little more leeway and your line between occasion and habit, or between "shouldn't" and "don't," might be a little blurrier. But if you have an autoimmune condition, or are particularly sensitive to certain foods -- or maybe your ability to stop occasion from turning into habit isn't so well-developed with some food or drink -- then you probably need to dial things in pretty tight.

This paleo stuff is easy. It's mostly a lesson in figuring yourself out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A bad MTHFR (shut yo' mouth!) -- all about a common genetic mutation that you might have, and probably would like to know about

This post has two parts:
1. The "Funny" Part
2. The Informative Part

You can skip down to The Informative Part without any issue at all and still learn something that might save your life. You may laugh more, however, if you start at the beginning with Part 1.

Or not.

Part 1.

The usual pre-class chatter was taking place in the genetics lab that morning when the aged, learned, very-British professor hobbled into class quietly, walked to the front of the lab, and started banging his cane on the table to get all of our attention. The students, from the very-smart people in the front to the table in the back where my lab partner John and I sat -- often confused, always amused -- immediately hushed up.

(In a very-British accent) "TOO. MANY. FRUIT FLIES. ARE. EEE-SCAPING!!" the professor bellowed. He smacked his cane down on the table a couple more times for effect.

The entire class turned around and looked at me and John.

"What?" he and I jointly exclaimed silently via shrugged shoulders and the sort of utterly unconvincing facial expression that makes the pronouncement that one, really, Has. No. Idea. what you could possibly mean by such an accusation, and possibly even adds a "You bad, assuming maker-of-assumptions, you" to the gesture.

John and I were biology majors. I don't know why. I wasn't a very good one. (To get some idea, I am a lawyer now, and although we don't talk about that here (ever!), let's just say that the laws of biology are not part of my practice). I don't think John was very good at it either, because, although I have lost track of him, I know that his chosen career path -- while shockingly straightlaced and law-abiding after our college years -- also was not ultimately in the sciences.

We also had no time for the sort of annoying pre-med majors that seemed to dominate that particular biology department's student body, and who seemed to have the next thirty years of their lives plotted out on logarithmic paper with pie charts, slides, diagrams and what a famous folk singer would call "eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one" explaining their significance.

So, our genetics-lab m.o. was pretty simple. We would do the same stupid assignments full of stupid experiments involving stupid fruit-fly copulation (and, obviously, did so while missing a still-not-recovered thesaurus) as the rest of You People, but -- much like in freshman-year general-bio lab when John and I removed all the intestines from our fetal pig and from the fetal pigs of the other two teams at our lab table and stuffed them all inside our friend Karen's pig across the class, just to, ya know, be funny, and which was *really* funny when Karen started throwing the "extras" at us across the room -- we felt that we needed to lighten up the stuffiness of the situation a bit.

When you place fruit flies in a glass jar full of "medium" (not a paranormal thing... it's a food thing, I think), you don't need to set up a dating service, play Barry White, or even ply the little fellows with intoxicants in order to get them in the mood for lovin'. Fruit flies don't wear T-shirts that say, "Beer: getting ugly people laid since forever." They don't take medications that lead to disabling four-hour erections. And they don't pretend to like that new Arcade Fire album just to impress the leggy blonde across the glass jar. They just mate their little fruit-fly bootays right off as soon as you let 'em at each other. Then they lay their (little) fruit-fly eggs, and the eggs hatch, causing the burgeoning scientists to "log" the results -- you know, like: "Two wingless green-eyed flies mated and their offspring were 72% wingless/green-eyed, 24% winged/green-eyed, and 4% awesome [or something]." Then comes the boring part. Or the let's-feign-moral-outrage-and-get-all-animal-rightsy-even-though-they-aren't-technically-animals part....

You kill them when you're done.

The ensuing slaughter isn't a complicated process. You just gas the flies with lots of extra ether to kill them -- instead of the smaller dose that you use to knock them out before placing them together for motorbooty action.

This is where John and I took The Path Less Traveled.

What we learned was this: by simply employing the smaller knockout dose of ether to the flies, instead of killing them, one could place the little buggers almost anywhere before they awoke. "Almost anywhere" amounted to the lab-table desk drawers of our more-annoying/humor-challenged classmates. So, each morning Kip R. DoRight and his future wife, Mrs. Do-Right-to-be (both of whom are now successful doctors, so, yeah, who actually "won", you might ask? A fair question), would come into class, say something snuggly-wuggly (and altogether nauseating) to each other, open their lab-desk drawers to place something inside (undoubtedly the aforementioned logarithmic life-plan graphs with photos) and, as they did so, what appeared to be some significant percentage of All the Fruit Flies in the Universe would fly out of the drawer.

The flies went everywhere. They were seen in places in the biology department over the next few months where no fruit fly had previously ever dared wander.

It probably was not a nice thing to do. I probably, if given time to absorb what a jerk I sound like for even recounting this story, ought to be ashamed of myself. But really, given the stuffiness of the rest of the situation (and by "the situation," I mean everything about being a biology major in that school at that time), it was a veritable laugh riot to see the ensuing chaos.

I could tell you other stories, but they would only reinforce the point that I have now taken many paragraphs to reach: I didn't learn very much in genetics that year, which was many (over 30) years ago. My burning desire to understand, as best I could, some recent lab results made me have to make up for that deficiency fairly quickly.

Part 2.

The Introduction

So... when I recently went to a paleo doc, got some bloodwork done and it came back with "two heterozygous mutations on the MTHFR gene," my first, fully-informed, reaction was: (1) "heterozygous... OK, excellent; these genes can get married even in backwards states," and (2) "the MOTHERFUCKER gene!?!?!.... (drummer guy makes fake 1970s wah-wah-pedal guitar sound and employs Isaac Hayes voice) ... I'm just talkin' bout Shaft!"

Not all that "informed" of a reaction, actually. So I went to Dr. Google.

(A side note on Dr. Google. He will tell you almost anything about anything, providing often-contradictory advice leading the average hypochondriacal drummer to believe he is dying TODAY!!! I'm not saying this happened -- of course not -- but be careful of that, hmmm?)

What I had learned from my doc was that, in shorthand, the mutations meant that I should take a methyl-folate supplement, but my Google research led to me to believe there were even a few additional points to consider. So, put on yer science goggles (I have an extra-thick pair to make up for college behavior) and let's learn something.

Basic Genetic Hoo-Hah

I don't want to go very deep with the science-y explanations, but a little bit of basic genetics is important to understand here in order to "get" what comes thereafter -- including understanding some of the terminolgy used in the links I provide)....

Each time there is "genetic stuff" to think about, we are talking about getting half of said stuff from mom and half from dad. My research, and a little help from a reader, tells me that the two mutations that I have on the MTHFR gene -- C667T and A1298C -- are specific mutations (Cysteine to Threonine at amino acid 667 and Alanine to Cysteine at amino acid 1298) within the protein produced from the gene.

At the C667 location on the gene. a "normal" person would get a C from both parents, resulting in a C/C designation. A "heterozygous" mutation means you got a C from one parent and T from the other (a C/T, aka what I have). A "homozygous" mutation would be a T/T -- a T from each parent. Easy and simple to understand, right?

Likewise, at the A1298 locus, a "normal" person would be A/A, a heterozygous mutation (me! again!) would be A/C, and a homozygous mutation would be C/C. Again... Easy to understand, right?

So, to recap the basics, any person could be normal for both genes, mutant for both, or mutant for one or the other. And within the individual mutations, those could be heterozygous or homozygous at either of the loci (plural of locus... really, not just Steve Latin). Because I have a heterozygous mutation at both loci, my mutations are so-called "compound heterozygous."

MTHFR mutations

Hope I haven't lost you yet, because that is just the entry-level terminology. Let's jump to The Almost Really Important Part:

MTHFR mutations are present in a lot of the population. The lab that did my bloodwork tells me that the estimated frequency of mutations at the C677 locus is: 39.8% of people have the heterozygous C/T mutation and 10.9% have the homozygous T/T. At the A1298 locus, 30% of people have the heterozygous A/C mutation and between 7 and 12% are homozygous C/C mutants.

What that means is that there is a slightly better than one in two chance that you have the mutation at C677 and just under that same chance of a A1298 mutation.

Here's the Really Important Part: what it all means to your health.

The shortcut for the Really Important Part: read this.
It's written by a doc, tells you a lot of info, and, really, isn't funny at all.
But the (allegedly) funny part of my post was many paragraphs ago, so you may do better with hers.

However, I will try to give you my own synopsis:

Either one of these mutations means that you do not process B vitamins, particularly folic acid (synthetic folate), properly. In fact, if you eat foods enriched with folic acid -- and go look at almost anything grainy in a package and it has folic acid in there; so does almost every multivitamin out there -- you are quite possibly messing yourself up. Your body can't process the folic acid. The folic acid, unprocessed, can then linger and causes inflammation and a rise in homocysteine levels. That can then lead to any and all of the doom/gloom scenarios listed, like (mostly stolen from that article):

Addictions: smoking, drugs, alcohol
Down’s syndrome
Frequent miscarriages
Male & female infertility
Pulmonary embolism and other blood clots
Depression & anxiety
Bipolar disorder
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chemical Sensitivity
Parkinson’s disease
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Spina bifida
Breast cancer
Multiple Sclerosis
Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
Methotrexate Toxicity
Nitrous Oxide Toxicity

Holy motherfucker gene, Batman. That's an ugly list.
Blood clots, cardiac trouble, stroke, MS, Parkinson's, dementia, other mental problems, and on and on and on. For a guy whose dad had dementia and a couple strokes, this becomes somewhat concerning.

So.... What should you do? Ideally, get tested for the mutations. My understanding is that the saliva test at 23 and Me only checks for the mutations at C677 but not at A1298. (But maybe they will tell you differently; ask them). Going to see a paleo doc is a good option. He or she can have an NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance, I believe) blood panel run and it will test for both mutations.

Then you will know what, if anything, to possibly do from there. There is a long list of possible supplements, dietary changes, etc. that the site provides for those with the mutations at C677C. That same site also provides a shorter list of potentially appropriate things to do for those with the mutation at the A1298 locus. (The research on the A1298 locus has not been as extensive, so far).

And I am not suggesting that you supplement without a doc's advice, by the way. Quite the contrary. If you have this mutation, you should be talking about it with your doctor. (I have, and it turns out that my homocysteine level, and other signs of inflammation, are all rock-bottom. Whoo! Power of paleo! So I will keep eating paleo, but also am now taking a couple supplements that the doc suggested).

But a couple things seem super-clear from all of those suggestions at if you have either mutation -- and let's remember that over 50% of the population has the mutation at C677 without even considering the presence of the mutation at A1298 -- you should not ever be eating gluten, probably shouldn't be eating dairy from cows and should not be eating things or taking supplements with folic acid in them. Those folks (me!) have to get their folate either through the real-food chain, or from supplementation with methyl-folate, which bypasses the part of the conversion cycle that your (and my) mutant body can't engage in.

I repeat: That means over half the population shouldn't ever be eating gluten, dairy from cows, taking standard multivitamins, drinking energy drinks loaded with B-vitamins, or eating any other folic-acid-supplemented food (and yes, folate is essential to pregnancy/fetal-development, so, if you are a woman considering getting pregnant, you might think you really would want to know if your body can process folic acid properly or not, or whether you need to supplement with methyl-folate instead under your doc's supervision).

If I didn't know about these mutations already, I would want to know. I would get tested.

But let's say that you are a strict paleo eater, figure that you feel great and just don't want to know. I think that, considering much of the remedy for these mutations involves what is essentially strict paleo eating, you could rationally choose ignorance about the mutations because of your spectacular diet.

But I am betting there are a whole bunch of you who aren't so spectacular about your paleo eating and have no idea if you have either mutation. You might even be eating gluten, dairy from cows or folic-acid-enhanced foods on a regular basis. Are your homocysteine levels raging? You have no idea.

That approach strikes me as a bit of Russian roulette, healthwise. Look, these mutations were just discovered in the last ten years or so. Research is still young, and I suspect someday the research is going to show clearly that these mutations are playing a significant role in the astronomical increase in the number of any of that laundry list of maladies above. Right now, it merely suggests it. But I personally know six people with multiple sclerosis. That's insane. Autism is through the roof. Something is going on that didn't used to be going on. And modern wheat, with its concentrated gluten dose, along with (well-meaning, but perhaps misguided or imperfect) folic-acid supplementation of our processed-food supply, very well may have something to do with it.

Ultimately, as always, what you do with this info is your call. But, it's one of those areas in which the research is so new that the safe choice -- I'll even say the smart choice -- seems to be either to opt in favor of either very strict paleo without testing, or getting tested and dealing with the results from there.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Chairman of the Bored (a.k.a. How I Stumbled Into a Big Decision)

I wish I had a better story for you. I really do....

If you want to challenge yourself with a tale about alcohol that is substantially more gut-wrenching, take Augusten Burroughs' Dry around the block for a spin. Or work your way through what is still the most spectacularly beautiful memoir I have ever had the pleasure of reading -- A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill.

On the other hand, if your attention span is more on the blog-post level (and far be it from me to imply any criticism over that; after all, it may have brought you here, blessyerheart) you could always check out any of a number of Sarah Hepola's pieces on her decision to quit drinking, like this or this. She's my latest blog obsession (smart! funny!) and can regale you with her own version of alcohol-addiction stories -- specifically ones that begin with lines like, "I woke up in a dog's bed in someone else's house." Or if you dig around (come on, I'm not doing all the work for you), you can find more of her work, containing phrases like "impressive boobs of questionable origin." Really, she's totally worth your while....

Anyway... my little spiel is less a tale of ever-increasing addiction and drunkenness than one that reaches its nadir in flat-out ennui -- mixed with a little philosophizing about maturity and the aging process, I suppose, and the re-examination of, oh, everything.

See, once I started making big changes in my lifestyle -- along the lines of food, exercise, sleep, stress management -- pretty much anything became fair game for a "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out...." exit from my life.

And it seems like drinking has become the most significant victim of my inwardly-turned Socratic Method.

It just all seemed stupid one day.


I don't have a long-term horrendous past with booze, but it's not an altogether healthy one either. College and law school had a lot of very liquid weekends. But my heaviest drinking, in terms of sheer volume over the course of a given week (and by week, I mean year), was actually just after law school. It was 1987 into '88. I was in my first job as a lawyer and my two housemates were fresh out of college, also in their first forays into the employment world. We had an enormous amount of post-5-p.m. free time, and no homework.

"Wait a minute. You're buying Esslinger beer? In pint returnable bar bottles? Do you happen to live with...."

I finished the beer-store guy's sentence for him: "Those other two guys that have to be the only other people in town who buy this shit beer? Yeah. What can I say? It's at least as good as crap like Budweiser and, at $4.99 a case, the price is hard to beat. We drink a lot of beer."

"No shit, dude. You guys are awesome. The boss said you are the first people to buy that stuff in a long time and you buy so much that now we have to order more!"

We were done with school, and we were tired of bars. We were not, however, done with or tired of beer. Esslinger was our brand -- a decision based entirely on price, not flavor, believe you me -- and we bought a lot of it. So we invited friends into our house to drink. And they arrived in sizable numbers some nights, choosing on others to leave the triumvirate "alone" amidst a lot of punk rock, Neil Young and Metallica. The songs, and the identities of the people listening to them, would change, but beer was the constant. More than one person aptly referred to our house as Party Central.

Those returnable cases of 16-ounce bottles of Esslinger were like a little payroll savings plan for drunks. And we were nothing if not practical. And drunk. OK, and lazy too. So that finely calibrated blend of sloth and ingenuity meant that, no, we didn't bring back a case of empties every time we purchased a fresh case or two. Instead, we accumulated the returns. In the kitchen. No, not loose... in the cases that they came in -- for godsakes, we were weren't animals; we were human beings. (I'm heavily dating myself with
that reference, I realize).

Eventually, the collection of sturdy boxes full of empty pints was crowding out the kitchen table. So we did the sensible thing: we moved the table. Out of the kitchen into the "dining room" it went (never in that year did any actual "dining" occur in the "dining room," hence the quotation marks), and we put the tablecloth on the boxes. We hardly ever ate at the table in the kitchen anyway. The interior-decorating adjustment worked, uh, fine.

But every man has his limit, and ours apparently was 57 -- cases, that is. When we loaded the empties (that'd be 57 x 24, if you are keeping score) into the Jeep Wrangler and Chevy Blazer that we owned and returned them in their crusty glory to the beer store one weekend (rinsing becomes overrated after a while), we bought a keg with the return deposit money. We blew the collective minds of the beer-store employees with the sheer volume of our delivery (we got our own pallet to stack them on at the store... yes, really; see, 
now you're impressed). It was a hell of a party that followed.

And along we plugged that year,
averaging, per day, a six-pack of pints per man.

After that year, I moved away from those guys. We had fun, but that level of nonstop joy had to end, or we would have been dead.

But I think my brief time in the land called Holy Fuck We Drink a Lot of Beer twisted my view of moderation for quite a while when it came to alcohol. As long as I didn't lapse back into
that level of nonsense, I thought all was fine. And I didn't. And it sort of wasn't.

My late twenties and early thirties were spent as a daily "moderate" drinker. Nowhere near the old revelry, mind you, but I had a couple every day. Every fucking day, no matter what. And sometimes there was a third. And sometimes I got drunk with friends. It was always totally functional, mostly very controlled, but vaguely alcoholic as well -- particularly in retrospect.


My consumption tapered down from there to "rarely more than two, sometimes only one" per day in my early forties to finally (finally!) something somewhat less
reflexive (there's that word again). When I went paleo in 2010, radically changing my food intake, I also began to notice actual changes in mood, attitude, sleep, etc. based upon what I was, or wasn't, putting in my body.

So I would "play" with my food and drink in ways that even my mom would have approved of, varying this or that to see the effect on body comp, etc. Hell, most of this blog is dedicated to exploration of that sort. Me, as my own science experiment.

Sure enough, I realized that there was food, or drink, that I was reflexively consuming, instead of having it because I
really wanted to eat or drink that thing. Case in point: nuts -- Christ, I could eat a vat of them as a snack without giving it much thought. And, in any sort of significant quantity, they mess me up digestively. So I knocked them out of the food rotation. 

And quickly I realized that blood-sugar management, sleep, digestion, acid-reflux, etc. were all a lot better on the days when I didn't drink alcohol.

I started having more of those no-booze days, and then more. And somewhere in the midst of all that science-y goodness, I recalled the words my friend Pete said to me a few years ago when he quit drinking: "I just find that I am far less likely to think about killing myself since I quit booze."

I wasn't ever suicidal, but fuck me if I didn't see a clear difference in my mood without ethanol regularly coursing through my system, even in small amounts. 

Let's be clear: on any given day I could think apocalyptic thoughts about a tube of toothpaste. Alcohol seems to increase the possibility of igniting that sort of doom/gloom cognition by what scientists would call "a metric shit ton." And, really, unless you were my wife, you'd never know it -- and even if you were, you wouldn't really know it (as I said to her recently, "Do you think I share even ten percent of my negative thoughts with you? No. You'd think I was a fucking nut." She thanked me for my considerate nature, and told me she loved me. She's the best. Really).

Anyway, I got to this point recently where the predictable nature of my body's reaction to booze was, um, predictable... and dull as dirt. It just wasn't enhancing my existence in any sense. And I am all about enhanced existence. I noticed that, in addition to coating everything with a "sometimes here, but, no, not always"/barely-perceptible dim haze of gloom, and increasing my already fairly well-tuned ability to see the downside of
anything, there was also some direct physical consequence to consuming alcohol for me. For example, if I drank the night before hitting the gym, my lifting was utter shit the next day. Or my drumming would wander a bit if the Lagavulin distillery had filled my glass the night before. Or, if the hard-cider gods had come to visit, I would get hungrier more often the next day between meals. 

Somewhere around the first weekend in August, after a few too many summer parties in a few too many days, I just stopped drinking out of a combination of sheer boredom and a "bigger" thought as well: that if growing the fuck up had meant ditching a whole host of bad food choices, then there appeared to be one glaringly bad choice that I kept making. Stopping at that moment wasn't intended to be anything as dramatic as "QUITTING DRINKING" at all. I just wanted to take a breather. But a week turned into a month, and now it's been three months, and I have been in numerous social situations since then and, really, it's just no big deal.


You notice a few things when you pull a stunt like this, and those things become even clearer when the stunt turns into a pattern, and then the pattern turns into a habit and then it just becomes "what you do," or, more precisely, "what you don't do anymore."

First of all, no one gives a shit if you're drinking or not. Not that I really care anyway. But if you are in a bar and order a seltzer with lime, only a complete asshole would say anything negative in the first place, and, you know what? Apparently either the complete assholes of the world are steering clear of me, or no one is that big of a tool. Either way, not a soul has uttered a derogatory word.

Secondly, your friends -- even your very clever, super-smart and funny friends -- are not very funny at all when they are drunk, or, in most cases, even when they have just a little buzz on. In fact, they can go from wildly captivating/charming/witty to "Really dude, go bother someone else" in the course of few hundreths of a percentage-point increase in blood-alcohol content. That line is bold, stark and easily-crossed. I just never knew it when I was drinking too. And if this sounds like I am judging you in a superiority sort of way, no. I've been That Guy a zillion times -- too many to judge you for it. But, still, my friend, that thing you're doing that you would never do sober? Yeah, not actually funny.

Thirdly, beer pong is idiotic. I like to think that you already knew this one. I certainly did. But it's possible that you have even played this stupid game (or, really, any drinking game). If you are one of those people, take this from a current non-drinker who still appreciates the inner beauty of ethanol, even while not partaking of it: if you can't figure out a better reason to take a sip of something as delicious as an alcoholic beverage than the fact that a potentially fungally-infected/bacteria-encrusted table-tennis ball (that JUST FELL ON THE FUCKING FLOOR, FOR GODSAKES) has (or has not) landed in a red plastic cup with that beautiful, delicious alcoholic beverage inside of it, you need to get a life, immediately. And yes, your participation in this episode of Stupid Alcohol Games has completely made me question why that beautiful person you appear to be headed home with would even talk to you, let alone slap nasties with you at the conclusion of the evening. (Joe Jackson, if you are listening, and need a career boost, there's a new verse of "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" screaming to be written).

Fourth, body fat disappears when you quit drinking. I sort of realized this anyway, but drying out should be the cover story on How to Not Be Fat Magazine under the title that they always use: "Try this one weight-loss trick!"

Fifth, gym performance goes through the roof. No explanation needed, right?

Sixth, if you happen to be a negative bastard, your negativity may take a turn to the positive when you stop drinking. And, unless you are Louis C.K. and making a lot of money off your downer persona, that has to be a net plus in your life, right? That tube of toothpaste? Currently brimming over with unremitting joy, I tell you.

Finally, that whole "feel like I am finally growing up" thing? It's pretty cool. There's a taking-charge-of-things-and-getting-shit-done aspect of this episode of my life that has the most basic, primal (Henry)Rollins-esque appeal to it that I find it hard to describe adequately the sheer amount of fun I am having as a result. I am more productive in every way. I sleep better, feel better and just am better. Moreover, I am not bold enough to say that I will never (ever!) drink alcohol again. I don't eat donuts, ever(!), but if I were in the Donut Capital of the World (what is that? Kankakee?) I might just eat a fucking donut. So, maybe if I am ever in Edinburgh I'll still have a dram of Lagavulin, or a pint of Guinness in Dublin. Or if I ever get back to Oktoberfest I'll have one of those megabeers that made Munich famous, or, yeah, a glass of Italian red when in Italy might still happen (and if it seems like I just said that Europeans appear to be a bunch of drunks, um....). But drinking alcohol in fucking New Jersey? To quote Iggy, that's "just another dirty bore." Or, as my very favorite just-doesn't-make-sense-over-here British expression goes, "I couldn't be arsed." The ride of life has taken a very sweet turn.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"I don't know just where I'm going. But I'm going to try for the kingdom if I can." Lou Reed's gone.

Lou Reed died today. 71 years old, which, really, isn't very old.

As I said on Facebook and Twitter, I wasn't a huge fan of *everything* the man ever did, but those Velvets albums, and large chunks of his solo career at least through the New York record, were so goddamn influential on so many people that you'd be hard-pressed to pick more than a few people who "mattered" more to the history of rock and roll than Lou Reed.

There were plenty of genius moments in Lou's career, and it'd be easy to post any of a large number of Velvets tunes here. But this one was always my favorite... specifically *this* over-the-top, full-of-backup-singers version, from the not-always-but-mostly-brilliant Take No Prisoners live album. (If it doesn't play for you, click here to go through to the You Tube link. It'll work there.)

And somehow, I think Lou would find it funny if his epitaph were the closing lines: "Sorry it took a while. Thank you."

I don't think you'll be easily replaced, sir. Thank *you*.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Half-assing paleo... Could it kill you?

If you have been hanging around here for a while, you may recall that, about 18 months ago or so, I did a post about "half-assing" paleo -- and the conclusion was that, yeah, you can do that, if it is all part of a planned steady march toward ultimately dialing it all in and doing it right. In other words, you can start slowly and work your way up to awesome. But, what about a whole different kind of "half-assing" paleo? Let me describe someone and you see if you know that person.

He (or she, but I will pick on a guy today) did a paleo challenge, and liked the results -- a lot. He found that 30 days of grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free, beer-free living with an emphasis on lots of animal proteins, vegetables of many types and colors, and good fats, and, really, he never felt better.

But then a few months removed from the challenge, things aren't going so well for our man. He is still eating a lot of animal protein. "Dude, bacon is delicious. So are eggs. And steak? Oh hells, yes!" But veggies? He loves his sweet potatoes, but the rest of the veggie world hasn't been making an appearance on his plate nearly as often, certainly not at every meal like it did during the challenge. And fat? He digs his bulletproof coffee, but there's a whole 'nother world of gross vegetable oils that our boy is horsing down on a regular basis. See, unlike that month of paleo perfection, now he is eating out a lot. He goes to the bar post-work, or post-softball-game, and eats french fries or sweet-potato fries*** cooked at high temps in vegetable oils, and he drinks beer with his buddies. Because... beer, dude! And fries! And then there are the burgers. Nothing wrong with burgers, but those lettuce wraps he was ordering during the challenge? Yeah... not so much now that the challenge is over. "Plus, dude, they have these *amazing* pretzel buns for burgers at the bar...." Oh, and cheese and ice cream are delicious too. And he digs cookies, and chips sometimes too. in fact, all dessert is pretty awesome. After all, he works hard and "deserves" it.

Our man is (at best) half-assing paleo, and it's not as part of any "plan." He has just morphed from someone who was "eating paleo" to a guy whose dietary choices amount to "meat and eggs plus crap."

Do you know that guy?

I am not a medical professional, and I certainly have made it clear pretty often around here that I don't care what you do. You are an adult and can make your own choices, but our man in the example seems to me like he is headed for a heart attack, or some heavy atherosclerosis that could lead to all sorts of things.

Like a heart attack. Or a stroke.

Here's why....

There is a wonderful new book out by Jimmy Moore, who enlisted a boatload of medical professionals to help him. It's called Cholesterol Clarity, and, along with The Paleo Coach and The Paleo Solution, is required reading if you want to do this paleo thing right.

See, a whole lot of us experience an interesting series of effects from full-on (i.e., non-half-assed) paleo living. First, we feel fantastic with low-inflammatory living. Second, proper blood-sugar management means that for the first time in our lives, we aren't hungry every three hours We control our food instead of food controlling us. Third, our LDL goes up and our standard-issue non-paleo doc has a cow about it.

Jimmy Moore's book, and a load of other paleo resources -- like Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn among others -- will lead you to a simple conclusion: "LDL" as run as part of a standard lipid panel is a nearly meaningless number. I don't want to go too far down the rabbit hole of science here. Kresser and Masterjohn are the authorities in that regard, but let's descend briefly, but carefully....

"LDL" as expressed on your standard blood panel is what is called "LDL-C" by the smart guys. The smart guys also don't care much about it. Instead, in recent years, if you get NMR blood testing done --  which *can* be ordered by any doc (but rarely is) but *will* be ordered by a paleo doc on this list or this one -- you will see what D. Boon called in another context "a mile of numbers and a ton of stats" that your regular doc will never see.

Those "extra" stats measure things like LDL particle size,  LDL particle number ("LDL-P" and "Apo-B") and, most importantly, inflammation of the whole-body variety ("C-reactive protein," among others) and, more particularly, of the myocardial-stress type ("NT-proBNP" and "Galectin-3"). The NMR blood panel will also tell you, just like the standard panel, what your HDL and triglyceride numbers are and other juicy items like fasting glucose, Vitamin D levels, etc.

What you will find, from Moore's book, and elsewhere, is that, in general, fairly strict paleo eating decreases all the bad inflammation numbers (that's good) , increases HDL (that's good too), decreases triglycerides to rock-bottom (also good), and makes the great majority of your LDL particles light and fluffy (whoo!). It also sometimes *increases* your LDL-C, and you might also find that your LDL-P (particle number/count) is not in the optimal range. Your standard doc will go bananas over the increased LDL-C, and even a paleo doc will tell you that there *may* be a bit of a concern with non-optimal LDL-P. But those same paleo docs will also tell you that the most serious threats are inflammation, followed by high triglycerides and low HDL. See, if inflammation is low, atherosclerosis does not happen easily. The LDL particles, even if present in higher numbers, float right on by -- unless you are inflamed.

If you are getting the idea that inflammation, not LDL, is the issue, you are right on the money.

And generally speaking, as I noted, if you are pretty strict about your paleo eating, your inflammation, triglyceride and HDL numbers will be spectacular. But what about our man, the half-asser?

Chances are that all the gluten from the wheat and the beer in his life  (you *do* know that almost all beer has gluten, right?), crappy vegetable oils, legumes, etc. are inflaming the hell out of this guy. Chances also are that his HDL has plunged (bad) and his triglycerides have soared (also bad). Combine that inflammation -- whole-body and cardiovascular -- with the often-increased LDL figures that paleo causes, and, suddenlly what look like relatively benign LDL issues unto themselves become pretty freaking scary when coupled with an inflamed system, high triglycerides and low HDL. 

If what this all appears to mean is that half-assing paleo -- or, more specifically, making your food choices amount to "meat and eggs plus crap" -- could be a ticket to *very* poor health, yeah that is exactly what it seems like to me. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if most of what someone retained from his paleo challenge days was high animal-protein consumption, but he has lapsed into downing gluten, legumes, vegetable oils and dairy on a regular basis, that person is on the road to potentially very serious inflammation-related problems. My bet is that almost anyone would be better off on a Mediterranean diet than a half-assed version of paleo that seems to be combining the worst aspects of the Standard American Diet with heavy meat consumption.

Yes, a guy who bills himself as the Paleo Drummer just told you that paleo can lead to problems. Not strict paleo, mind you, or even something close to it. But you you can really mess yourself up by eating a version of paleo that isn't really "paleo" at all. "Meat and eggs plus crap" is a bad formula to reach good health.

Don't be a half-asser when it comes to paleo. It could kill you.

***Sweet potato fries, a.k.a. "the biggest scam ever." Yes, sweet potatoes can be good for you. Sweet potatoes deep fried in boiling hot vegetable oil? No. Those aren't any better for you than regular french fries, a.k.a. The Worst Food In the World.