Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Paleo" Guilt!

As some of you know, I've been following a Paleo diet for the last month or so.  I've finally started to break through and shed fat.  It's been great, I feel great, my energy levels are up.  Overall, I know the Paleo diet is working for me.  I've had a few cheats here and there, but I'd say I've been almost 90% Paleo over the last month.

As much as I enjoy the Paleo diet, and tell people about it, I have to say, it always reminds me how fortunate I am to have the option to eat this way.  First off, not everyone in the US has the means to eat a Paleo diet.  I'm not wealthy by any means.  In fact over the last 12 months my wife stopped working to stay at home to raise our baby.  This has put a huge dent in our income (I was shocked when I saw the year to year difference in income on our taxes that's for sure.)  Many Americans can't afford to eat a Paleo diet.  I don't have any statistics, but lets just think if you're a single mother with 2 kids at home and a $30K income.  Will you be shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store where all the perishable food is, or are you going to be looking along the aisles of the store, picking up deals on processed foods that won't spoil?

Free food with coupons...but would you want to eat it?
On top of that, a few of my friends are couponers.  They get some amazing deals.One of my friends has a few kids at home and gets great deals.  Here's a picture of some food she got couponing.  She got all of this food pictured here for free.  The sad thing is, this food, while affordable, is terrible food for kids or anyone. Sure it may be cheap, but it also may slowly be killing you.

So that's just one example of people in the U.S.  Sure, most Americans could probably make healthier choices if they wanted to.  You could find a cost benefit analysis, give up something to eat better.  The vast majority of Americans could eventually see the light and eat more vegetables and less grains.

But what about those that aren't in the developed world?  What about those who are living in the third world.  Their only choice is some minimal amount of grain.  We can sit comfortably in our climate controlled homes debating the merits of Paleo vs Primal diets, Grassfed beef vs Big farm cornfed beef.  Ultimately, we have to remember how lucky we are to have the choice to eat a Paleo lifestyle.  (As an aside, some would argue that it was agriculture that fostered the possibility for such income inequality to exist in the first place, and I'm inclined to agree with them.)

When it comes down to it, 7 Billion people on Earth can not possibly all eat a Paleo diet.  There aren't the resources.  There's not enough grain to go around to feed the human population, there certainly won't be enough land to feed the 7 billion people of Earth grass fed meat.

While I'm not using this as a way to knock the Paleo diet and lifestyle by any means, I think we should always remember that unless we happen to be part of a hunter gatherer culture, we are very lucky to be blessed with the resources to choose a Paleo diet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Evolutionary Eating

The one thing I can be certain of is that human beings as a species have passed the point of physical evolution.  You may not see this in a science textbook, but I have a simple hypothesis and one that ultimately may be a bit controversial.

As a species, we have reached a point in our intellectual development to where we are adversely affecting our evolution.  I joke that my wife is blind as a bat.  Ten thousand years ago a human with her vision would have walked right in front of a saber tooth tiger and been taken out of the gene pool.  But with modern science and optometry, she is able to trick me into thinking she has perfect vision (contact lenses) and now we have a chance at having another kid with bad vision.

Now before I go too far, please realize that I'm not making any moral judgements here or supporting eugenics.  I'm essentially stating that as we learn more and more about medicine and science and are able to keep people alive longer, our physical evolution as a species has stopped, and our intellectual capacity is taking over.  This graphic above almost illustrates that point.

No longer is survival dependent on physical strength and superior hunting skills.  Mastery of intellectual skills is more desired and rewarded.  So, there are some of us that wish to "throw back the clock."  As our  intellectual capabilities have drastically improved, our genetics haven't.  We now have abundant food sources and instead of working for days to find our next meal, we can find thousands of calories in minutes and not even have to leave the comfort of our cars to do so.

So this is where Paleo/Primal eating comes into play.  By eating like our caveman ancestors did, we can hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls of modern life.

I struggle with paleo eating.  I shoot for the 80%.  Today I did pretty well, but I did have one big piece of wheat bread with lunch.  The problem I always have is a lack of planning.  I can find some pretty decent options out there, but my downfall is my lunch meals.  I have to be more disciplined on how I eat.

I just cam across this video.

Check out this doctor's speech.  Very powerful.

Monday, January 16, 2012

P90X vs CrossFit, a tale of two success stories.

There are probably hundreds of posts out there in the blogosphere debating the merits of P90X vs CrossFit.  There are probably millions of collective keystrokes that have been pushed supporting one side or the other.  There has been vitriol, conciliatory comments, moderation, and occasionally agreement. I'm not sure my post here will add much or settle anything, but I figure I'd take a few moments to add to the fray.

My P90X results from Sept-Dec 2008
First off, lets talk about my experiences with P90X.  For those of you following this blog, you'll know I had great success with P90X.  I dropped 20 lbs or so in 90 days and looked great.  After a while, I fell away from the program and over the span of 2.5 years I gained back everything I lost.   What P90X does offer is an awesome, specific 90 day plan to physically transform your body.  What you do with it after that time is up to you.  I tried to repeat the program, I worked a few other Beachbody programs, but I never was able match the initial level of intensity and enthusiasm I had during that first 90 days. 

Skip ahead a few years and my before pictures are again where they were in 2008.  (Insert bullshit excuses here).  I was driving home and out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign for a CrossFit gym. This was less than a mile from my house.  I found the gym's website, contacted the owners of the gym box and set up my first foundations workout.  That first workout was a shock to the system and a definite reminder of what I had lost in terms of fitness.

You can find enough internet dribble on CrossFit to fill reams of paper.  To define CrossFit in one sentence it would be "constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement."  By doing CrossFit, you'll become strong, but not the strongest; fast, but not the fastest; and so on.  You will become a very well rounded athlete prepared for a wide variety of potential physical tasks.  This ultimately is a great reason why CrossFit is so popular among police and military.  They never know exactly what challenges they may face (outside of a standardized fitness test) but they need to be ready for those challenges when they arise.

When it comes down to a nutshell, P90X and CrossFit are similar but they are also drastically different.  P90X has a very specific goal of improving outward physical appearance and is fantastic at meeting that goal in the time prescribed. 

90 Days of Crossfit, definite improvement, but not as much fat loss as P90x.
Ask anyone who does CrossFit and when it comes to "getting in better shape" they'll tell you that the physical signs of improved fitness are a "welcome side effect" of CrossFit.  For CrossFitters, it's rare to see a goal that has anything to do with physical appearance or weight.  A CrossFit athlete may have a goal of a specific weight they want to lift in a certain move, to get a muscle up, to get their "Murph" time under an hour etc.  By pursuing these other goals, the improvement in physical appearance will come as a very welcome byproduct.  The ultimate goal of CrossFit is improved health, and it delivers.

A P90X athlete may get bigger biceps in 90 days, have better abs in 90 days, but they ultimately may not be stronger than a similar athlete who does 90 days of CrossFit.  One thing that struck me was that in P90X, I was never nervous before a workout.  However, when I see a move on the board at my box, and it's one that I struggle with, I get nervous.  I both love and hate the challenge.  When my coach pushes me and gets me to try something that's way outside my comfort zone, I appreciate it (even though at first I might hate 'em.) P90X, without having the benefit of a coach right next to you and pushing you harder misses some of this element. 

So, I've rambled on.  I've added a few hundred more words to the CrossFit vs P90X debate.  What would I recommend?  That depends on your goals. 

If you are 90 days away from a Caribbean Cruise and want to get in great shape to look awesome on the beach, I'm going to tell you to buy P90X.  You'll be happy with the results.

If on the other hand, you're looking for a long term challenge and want to become physically stronger and more prepared for anything life throws your way, I'm going to tell you to find a local CrossFit box.

Ultimately, this isn't an "either or" proposition.  I may very well get to the point in a year where I need a break from CrossFit and will be popping Tony Horton into my DVD player again.  What is most important is that you get off the couch and move your ass.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Goal progress through 1/6

The last week has been a good one for workouts.  Having focused goals always helps.

First off towards my goal of rowing 250,000 meters for this year, I've completed 4500 meters so far this week and with tomorrow's WOD having 3x500 m I'll be at 6000m for the week.  I'm not sure if I should count meters rowed in WODs, but we've had rowing in a couple WODs this week.

My diet has been pretty good this week.  After my birthday on Monday, I've been on track real well Tues-Friday.  I've been picking good Paleo/Primal options and my only slip up was half a piece of corn bread with lunch.

I'm still struggling with pull ups and need to re-do week one of my Pullup program.

More to follow.


Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Fitness Goals

I've been doing CrossFit for a bit over 90 days now and have seen some great gains.  But, without goals, one can just wander, going with the flow but never setting their sights on an objective.  To ensure that I have specific goals for this year, I want to take a few minutes and highlight my fitness goals for 2012.

  • Row cumulative 250,000 meters for the year (This would average about one 5K row a week)
  • Deadlift 460 lbs (my current max is at 400 lbs)
  • Run 10 miles continuously (I have an 8-9 mile Spartan Race in late October and need to train to increase my endurance for this event.  Will probably start running more for mileage in the late spring and summer to prepare)
  • 21 pull ups, (right now I'm at about 9 unbroken pull ups.  I want to get to 21 unbroken by June 1st.)  Will be starting a program doing 5 sets of pull ups Monday through Friday gradually increasing week by week to reach my goal.
  • Complete "Murph" (google it) at least twice. Want to do it RXd so need to get previous goal of increasing pull ups in the works.
  • Get to under 11% body fat by May 1st.  Right now I'm at about 18-19%, was around 24% in September before joining Reckless CrossFit.  This will require a laser like focus on my diet.
  • Complete the Air Force Academy PFT once every 2 months.  Probably will do this on an Open Gym day on the weekends.  My goal is to break a 400 point score on the test by September. (My highest score as a cadet was about 350.)
So that's a start.  More to follow and I'll be back here updating my progress as I complete these goals.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


10 years ago I was a First Class (Senior) Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy.  While there were many requirements placed on us as cadets, one of these requirements I didn't take seriously enough was physical fitness. 

Sure, I met all the minimum standards, but I didn't take advantage of the vast resources around me as a cadet and actually get in great shape.  I was more concerned with sneaking out and riding my Harley I wasn't allowed to own or ride.

When the time came to take the PFT every semester, I kinda got through it.  I didn't do great, sometimes I did really poorly.  I just never excelled.

With my 10 year reunion coming up next fall, I have a goal.

I want to score above 450 (out of 500) on the Air Force Academy PFT when I'm at my reunion next fall.  As a cadet, I never scored higher than 355. 

The test consists of the following:

  1. Pull Ups
  2. Standing Long Jump
  3. Sit Ups
  4. Push Ups
  5. 600 yard run
Each event starts every 3 minutes.  So the entire test takes less than 15 minutes.

If I stay committed and keep working with CrossFit, that in a year's time this test will become rather simple.  But scoring a 450 will be tough.  I have a spreadsheet here that details everything, and it won't be simple.  Here's a basic table of min/max numbers.  To get 100 points per stage need to max that exercise.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

WOD: 11-03-2011

Today's WOD:

Warm Up:

Basic Stretch on own.


20 Minute AMRAP

10x Push Press @ 75 lbs. (Rx was 95 lbs but I knew I needed to lower the weight for 20 minutes)
20x Sit Up
30x Jump Rope Singles

I managed to finish 10 rounds exactly.  My first few round were about a minute and 45 seconds or so.  My reps started to slow down a bit after that.  I finished my 9th round at around exactly 18 minutes on the clock so I picked it up and made sure to knock out my last round in the final 2 minutes.  Finished the last round with 5 seconds to spare but not enough time to get set up on the bar for more push presses.

Overall a great WOD.  Definitely was sweating like a pig at the end of that one.  One note, my jump ropes are getting better. Got my own speed rope last week and have been practicing a bit.  I'm not able to string together Double-Unders yet, but I can do a  Single, single, double, single, single, double pattern for a few reps.  It's a good improvement in the jump rope arena and I'll be stringing doubles together in no time.

Will be going back tomorrow for Friday's WOD giving me 3 workouts in a row for this week.